U.S. chain Nordstrom Inc. confirmed Wednesday it will open a flagship store in Toronto Eaton Centre where Sears is leaving the prime location.
The confirmation comes after The Globe and Mail reported last fall that Nordstrom would move into the coveted site following Sears Canada Inc.'s announcement that it would abandon the spot as it looked to raise money for its struggling operations.
Nordstrom will begin construction of the three-level store in March and expects the outlet will open in the fall of 2016.
"We're excited to be coming to downtown Toronto at Toronto Eaton Centre," Karen McKibbin, President, Nordstrom Canada, said in a statement. "We want to serve those who live and work downtown as well the many visitors to the city and think Toronto Eaton Centre is a great place to do so."
The deal fulfills Nordstrom's bid to find a major location in downtown Toronto. It will add pressure to retail incumbents in an increasingly competitive department-store landscape. Late last year, Hudson's Bay Co. bought U.S. Saks Inc. with plans to roll out seven or eight Saks in Canada as well as bolster its existing mainstream Hudson's Bay stores. They face pressure from discounters Target Corp., which introduced 124 stores here in 2013 and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. which is expanding its network in Canada.
The Toronto downtown Nordstrom store, which will be located in the mall owned by Cadillac Fairview, will be the sixth that the Seattle-based retailer will open in Canada. Its first here will launch in Calgary Chinook Centre in the fall. Nordstrom's entry into this country was made possible when Cadillac Fairview sealed a deal with Sears to buy back the leases of three of its key outlets, such as the one in Vancouver Pacific Centre. The other Nordstrom store is also in a Cadillac Fairview shopping centre.
"Our properties were the first to welcome Nordstrom to Canada, and we're thrilled to continue our partnership with Nordstrom in the opening of five of six of its locations in Canada," said John Sullivan, chief executive officer of Cadillac Fairview. "We believe it takes foresight and innovation to bring popular retail brands like Nordstrom to our centres, which in turn attracts enthusiastic shoppers."
Over the past three years, Toronto Eaton Centre spent $120-million in enhancements to Toronto Eaton Centre, said Wayne Barwise, executive vice-president of development at Cadillac Fairview. This second phase of redevelopment will include an additional $400-million, he said.
Nordstrom and Saks also plan to open their lower price chains, Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth, to bolster their presence in Canada.