Holt Renfrew Opens Discount Chain as Competition Steps Up

Holt Renfrew & Co. Ltd., a Canadian luxury fashion retailer, said today it will open new stores offering lower prices as it braces for increased competition from the U.S.

The Toronto-based company will open its first hr2 store in March in Quebec and plans to have locations across the country by 2015. The stores will range in size from 25,000 to 35,000 square feet, smaller than Holt Renfrew’s nine department stores, said Heather Arts, vice president in charge of the new chain.

Women aged 25 and up will be the target market of the new stores, which will carry womenswear, menswear and accessories delivered daily, she said.

“This type of concept does not exist currently,” in Canada, Arts said. “The way we’re going to be showcasing our product and curating it when it comes in the store, it’s going to be an interesting and fun environment for the consumer to shop in.”

Nordstrom Inc., the Seattle-based department store chain, announced it will open as many as nine locations in Canada starting in 2014. Canadian competitor Hudson’s Bay Co. plans to go public to help finance its turnaround.

Holt’s foray into the lower end of the market will also be met by Target Corp. from Minneapolis when it enters Canada next year. Nordstrom operates a similar second chain in the U.S. called Nordstrom Rack where merchandise from Nordstrom department stores is sold at discount.

Holt’s new chain will carry new clothing by the same brands featured in the department stores at a lower price, rather than aged product sold at a discount, said Arts.

Holt Renfrew, in business since 1837, was bought by W. Galen and Hilary Weston in 1986. Galen Weston is the chairman of George Weston Ltd., the bakery company that also controls Loblaw Cos. Ltd., the country’s biggest grocery store chain.

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