Italian luxury brand Gucci will open at West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton early next year, marking a significant milestone in the shopping centre’s efforts to secure upscale tenants. It will be the third standalone storefront for Gucci in Canada as well as the only standalone location for the brand in Alberta.
The Edmonton Gucci store will span more than 5,000 square feet on one level and will carry the brand’s full lines of ready-to-wear clothing for women and men as well as handbags, leather goods, footwear, accessories, and jewellery. The design of the store will reflect Gucci’s latest store design which is plush and opulent. That will include an interior featuring wood and velvet accents as well as ample use of marble flooring. Construction begins mid-October and the store is expected to open in March of 2021. Toronto-based dkstudio Architects Inc. designed the West Edmonton Mall space.
The new Gucci store will be located on West Edmonton Mall’s second level between a Louis Vuitton store which opened last year, and a Saint Laurent store that will be finished construction in November. The three powerhouse brands are part of a luxury clustering that also includes nearby storefronts for Tiffany & Co., Rolex, Canada Goose, and other pricey brands.
Gucci was one of the top brands at the former Holt Renfrew store in downtown Edmonton which closed in January of 2020. Sources said that Gucci handbags and shoes sold more than $3 million annually at Holts in Edmonton, an impressive number given the limited offering. Louis Vuitton was by far the top selling brand at Holt Renfrew in Edmonton, said to have been more than $20 million annually. Losing Holt Renfrew was a significant blow to downtown Edmonton, and the new luxury brands at West Edmonton Mall will also attract some wealthy consumers who might otherwise shop at the relatively upscale Southgate Shopping Centre.
West Edmonton Mall is scooping up the top brands that were once available at Holt Renfrew in Edmonton to open standalone stores — in the summer of 2019, Canada Goose opened a large standalone store at West Edmonton Mall, and Tiffany & Co., formerly only available at Holts, opened its West Edmonton Mall store in 2013. Other brands carried at the former Edmonton Holts store could look to West Edmonton Mall as well, including the likes of Burberry and Max Mara. Some brands such as Fendi, which didn’t have a significant presence at Holts in Edmonton, could also be looking at West Edmonton Mall according to sources.
When it opens, the West Edmonton Mall Gucci store will be the only standalone location for the brand in Alberta. It will be another bragging right for Edmonton, which will also be home to the province’s only standalone Saint Laurent store. In Calgary, Gucci operates three concession spaces within the downtown Holt Renfrew store which includes an accessory boutique on the street level, a women’s ready-to-wear boutique on the second level and a men’s Gucci area on the third floor.
If Gucci were to open a standalone store at some point in Calgary, it would be most likely at CF Chinook Centre — few luxury brands are said to be interested in being in downtown Calgary unless it’s inside Holt Renfrew. Louis Vuitton opened a standalone store at CF Chinook Centre in the fall of 2018 after exiting the downtown Holt Renfrew store, which was a shocking move and a bit of a black eye for downtown Calgary (Chanel ended up securing Vuitton’s ground floor space at Holts). Other luxury brands could also look to open at CF Chinook Centre which is also home to standalone storefronts for Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Aesop, Canada Goose, and others.
In Canada, Gucci operates two standalone stores as well as several concessions. The first standalone Gucci store in Canada opened in the year 2000 at 130 Bloor Street West in Toronto in a 6,500-square-foot space that is currently being updated. A second Gucci store opened in 2006 in Vancouver at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, spanning 3,875 square feet — sources say that it could be replaced with an 8,000-square-foot store next year. Gucci’s other locations in Canada are located within Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom stores. In Vancouver, Gucci operates concessions at Holt Renfrew including separate shops for bags/accessories as well as women’s and men’s apparel. Holt Renfrew’s Calgary store, as mentioned above, features the brand in concession spaces. In Toronto, Gucci operates its large concession at Holt Renfrew in Yorkdale as well as separate bag/accessory and apparel boutiques at Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street. Nordstrom’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre store features a main floor Gucci bag and accessory concession. In Mississauga, Gucci operates a bag/accessory concession at Holt Renfrew. In Montreal, Gucci operates concession spaces at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy for bags/accessories, women’s apparel, men’s apparel, and the store also features Gucci boutiques for men and women. Gucci shoes and belts are also carried at Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Canada.
Gucci operates a large outlet store at Toronto Premium Outlets which opened in late 2018, coinciding with the closure of Gucci’s outlet store at Montreal Premium Outlets which operated for several years.
In years past, Gucci’s Canadian distribution was primarily in Holt Renfrew stores. In the early 1990’s, Holt Renfrew in Edmonton housed a Gucci boutique space (most recently occupied by women’s shoes) with a mall-facing entrance carrying bags and accessories. Holt Renfrew also operated Gucci bag/accessory boutiques in its other stores including a particularly large selection in Toronto and Montreal.
In the 1980’s, Gucci’s price-point was lower and in 1985, a Gucci bag/accessory boutique opened in the Hudson’s Bay department store in downtown Vancouver where it operated for about three years. Upscale Hudson’s Bay-owned chain Simpson’s also featured Gucci accessory boutiques in the mid-1980’s at the Queen Street store in Toronto as well as at the Ste-Catherine Street West location in Montreal.
West Edmonton Mall is becoming something of a luxury retail powerhouse that is expected to attract more brands. The Edmonton market is still relatively affluent despite low oil prices as well as challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, when international tourism resumes, high-spending Chinese tourists are expected to return to visit West Edmonton Mall while at the same time, affluent international students will eventually return to the University of Alberta campus. Next year West Edmonton Mall will be offering valet parking in a partnership with a new Toyota experience centre which will help woo affluent locals to the shopping centre. Another benefit to shopping in Alberta is that the province currently does not have a provincial sales tax.
Gucci is one of the world’s leading luxury brands with more than US $10 billion in annual sales. Gucci was founded in 1921 and is now part of the Kering conglomerate of luxury brands. Gucci operates about 500 stores globally. In the United States, Gucci operates a network of standalone stores as well as boutique spaces in stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Macy’s (Manhattan store only).