News Flash: Holt Renfrew closing Ottawa and Quebec City stores

Lately, it seems news from the fashion world is not as shiny and dazzling despite the feverish anticipation for upcoming fashion weeks in Paris, Toronto, Milan and New York. Perhaps, feverish is pushing it a bit in the same manner that saying Ottawa’s retail market is exploding is also pushing it a bit. I mean it was expanding a year ago and then, it’s not.

holt-renfrew-ottawaHolt Renfrew Ottawa location employs 72 staff as of press time. Photo via Finacial Post.

Do I care to elaborate? Yes, of course I do. It’s evidently not in the same magnitude as the news about Israel and Palestine or the civil unrest in Missouri, yet it’s undoubtedly a sad day when news about Holt Renfrew closing its doors in Ottawa and Quebec hits the wire.  For more details about the store closures, see the Toronto Star, CBC News and Metro Ottawa, who has reached out to us for comments on how this will affect the retail landscape in Ottawa.


Our thoughts? Aside from the obvious sad part of these store closures, which is lost employment of hundreds of Holt Renfrew staff, the shutdown of the Ottawa location will leave a big void in the high end retail market in Ottawa’s capital. Perhaps the most relevant question is – does Ottawa have the spending capacity for a high end retailer such as Holt Renfrew? For an affluent society like the nation’s capital, absolutely! As a matter of fact, there’s a specialty boutique store not too far from Holts Ottawa that serves high-end clientele with a single bill ranging from $11,000 to $20,000. Yes, a sales staff I spoke to claimed the biggest total she rang on a client’s bill is $14,800. Curious enough I asked, that must be a lot of shopping bags! The answer? NO. Not even!

This is such a sharp contrast to what we saw in the last couple of years (remember when we did a special series with CBC News on the burgeoning Ottawa retail market?) when the retail landscape really exploded in Ottawa, we saw giant American and European retailers like Target and H&M opened to the delight of local consumers.

Today, we see long time middle class Canadian retailers like Jacob, Le Chateau and Reitman’s also in the brink of closing their doors, following such a dismal performance by Sears. Now, even high end retailer Holt Renfrew, after 78 years in business, is bound to suffer the same fate. Now what? Since Nordstrom is already coming to the Rideau Centre, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Macy’s might be a great addition to Sparks Street Mall. It may help flourish its legacy as North America’s first pedestrian mall.

What about you? What store do you want to see replace Holt Renfrew at Sparks Street Mall


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