04/08/2013 02:27 EDT | Updated 06/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Nordstrom expands Canadian footprint to Yorkdale mall

High-end U.S. retailer Nordstrom plans to open a store in Canada's most lucrative mall by expanding into Toronto's Yorkdale mall starting in 2016.

Last fall, the Seattle-based chain announced it would make its first foray outside the American market with four locations in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. Those locations were all owned by Cadillac Fairview, but Monday's announcement is the first with rival mall-owner Oxford Properties.

Nordstrom will open a three-level, 188,000 square foot location in Yorkdale Shopping Centre in 2016. Construction at the location will be included in the mall's major renovation, which is currently scheduled to begin next year.

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Nordstrom's first four Canadian locations will open between 2014 and 2016 in the Pacific Centre in Vancouver, the Chinook Centre in Calgary and the Rideau Centre in Ottawa. A new store will also be built at Toronto's Sherway Gardens.

Those spaces became available after the current tenant, Sears Canada, announced last year it would sell back leases for three of its stores to its landlord, Cadillac Fairview, for about $170 million, as the retailer works to revamp its struggling Canadian operations.

"Ever since we announced that we're coming to Canada, we have been humbled by the response from customers, and we can't wait to get to work on earning their business," Nordstrom Canada's CEO Karen McKibbin said in a release.

Emerging trend

It's the latest front in an escalating war in the Canadian retail landscape, as well-run, efficient and nimble U.S. chains are looking northward, eager to set up shop within the relatively safe retail confines of Canada.

A recent report by real estate consultancy Colliers estimated that for every square foot of mall space, Canadian retailers ring up almost $600 in sales. That compares to the U.S. where retailers generally get $300 per square foot of retail space.

Yorkdale, it's believed, sells more than $1,000 for every square foot of retail space.

Within the past 18 months, chains such as Bloomingdales, Kate Spade, Kleinfeld, Marshall's, J. Crew, Target and others have either opened locations in Canada or made plans to do so.

Canadians can currently purchase items directly from Nordstrom's website with shipping fees that include the cost of duties at checkout. The company says more than 15,000 Canadians already have a Nordstrom credit card, either for online purchases or for cross-border shopping in bricks-and-mortar locations in the U.S.