Entry of Saks, Nordstrom into Canada boosts stakes
Continued from FP1
Holt Renfrew has seven stores in Canada and is owned by Canada’s Weston family, whose holdings include Loblaw and Selfridges.
“As is often the case with a new president, we have made some changes to our leadership including several new appointments and promotions in order to drive our business forward and continue to maintain our luxury positioning,” Plener said of seven new executive hires, including new chief operating officer Rob Zeidel, formerly of Loblaw, and new senior vice-president and general merchandise manager Linda DeFrances, formerly of Saks. Plener also confirmed 10 management promotions and changes.
It is a challenging time in broader retail given the ongoing siphoning of retail store sales to e-commerce sites. And for Canada’s tiny luxury market, the stakes have never been higher for Holts, whose clout has been threatened by the entry of Saks and Nordstrom over the last two years.
“It has been evident for some time that Holts has been struggling,” said Wendy Evans, principal of Torontobased retail consultancy Evans and Co. Consultants Inc. “They are not differentiated enough from Saks and Nordstrom, so they need to make some big changes.”
Others have long said that there is not a big enough market for luxury apparel in Canada to sustain the new and upcoming square footage. “Saks and The Room (at Hudson’s Bay) and Nordstrom seem to be leading the way at this juncture,” said Fred Waks, chief executive at Toronto-based real estate developer Trinity Development Group Inc.
“With four operations, (Canada) can’t sustain it. This is just the beginning from my perspective. Service in the stores will be a key factor in terms of who is going to survive and who will thrive,” Waks said, noting Saks has “picked up its game” in terms of merchandise and store service.
“A lot of the haute couture staffing at Holts has changed and they have moved over to The Room,” Waks added.