Why Square One’s New Wing Just Escalated The GTA Luxury Retail War
Toronto's high-end retail war is officially on. Square One Shopping Centre launched its luxury wing Tuesday, hot on the heels of Saks Fifth Avenue opening its first two GTA stores, one at regional archrival CF Sherway Gardens.
Here’s Square One GM Greg Taylor at the unveiling of the mall’s south wing, featuring a luxury roster that includes Harry Rosen (an 18k SF flagship), Kate Spade New York, Ben Sherman, Stuart Weitzman, Rolex at Raffi Jewellers and Michael Kors. Anchoring the $320M wing is a 130k SF Holt Renfrew, coming this summer (the impetus for the redevelopment). And La Maison Simons opens its first Ontario location, a 113k SF shop, March 17. Square One’s upmarket expansion signals a new era for the 2.2M SF centre, Greg says. “It’s about rounding out the experience for all our customers."
Square One’s luxury wing is the latest phase of a $480M redevelopment that began several years ago with a revamp of the centre's common areas, entrances, restrooms and elevators, and the arrival of retailers such as Ann Taylor, White House Black Market and Topman/Topshop in the Hudson's Bay, plus a renovated food court. In 2014, Square One, owned by Oxford Properties Group and Alberta Investment Management Corp, opened its $62M north expansion, boasting Ontario’s largest Forever 21 and Mississauga’s first Brandy Melville. It also brought green space and a park (the new wing includes an additional park).
The luxury wing’s 60-foot-high grand rotunda, the highlight of the MMC Architects-designed space. Greg tells us they’ll soon be announcing “three, perhaps five” additional key retailers that’ll open in 2016. The Square One redevelopment has seen the addition of two levels of parking (863 spaces), as well as an expanded valet service that Greg assures us is the most comprehensive around. “If you start your shopping at the north side of the mall, and you end up dining at the south end, you can have your vehicle delivered to you there."
Competition is stiff. Saks opened last month at Sherway, where Cadillac Fairview CEO John Sullivan is pictured, left, with HBC chief Richard Baker, Saks’ president Marc Metrick and ops director Jessica Fotsch, and HBC CEO Jerry Storch. Nordstrom is also coming to Sherway in 2017. Greg's not fretting. “Competition is always healthy,” and Square One is distinguishing itself by focusing on Canadian luxury retail, including Holts (closing its Sherway store to consolidate at Square One), Harry Rosen and Simons. Greg points to the maple leaf flag that flies overhead in the new wing. “It sends a nice symbolic message about the great Canadian retail story we’ve got here.”