07/30/2013 05:58 EDT

Saks Fifth Avenue In Vancouver Could Threaten Holt Renfrew: SFU Prof


Saks Fifth Avenue's new owners have designs on Vancouver, and that could threaten the city's only high-end department store, according to a marketing professor at Simon Fraser University.

Vancouver will definitely have a Saks Fifth Avenue, while Metro Vancouver could get a number of Saks Off Fifth discount stores after Hudson's Bay Co. (HBC) bought the retail chain for US$2.9-billion on Monday, The Vancouver Sun reported.

"Some of them will go into existing Bay locations, where it makes sense, and there also may be new Saks stores," HBC spokesperson Freda Colbourne told the newspaper.

That could spell trouble for Holt Renfrew in downtown Vancouver, as the store already braces itself for competition from Nordstrom, which is set to open in the old Sears location in 2015, said SFU prof. Steve Kates.

"We have other top brands, such as Prada and a few others, but no department store which devotes itself to higher end fashion except for Holt's," he told The Huffington Post B.C.

"On the one hand, Saks and Nordstrom might grow the upper end market. At the same time, they could take away share from Holt Renfrew, especially considering the curiosity factor that consumers are going to have about these two new stores."

The Saks Off Fifth and Nordstrom Rack clearance centres could present additional challenges for Holt Renfrew, as the store doesn't have a discount wing of its own, Kates said.

Saks and Nordstrom aren't the only major retail brands making their way to Metro Vancouver. Victoria's Secret is opening its second-biggest North American outlet at Burrard and Robson, while Target is set to open in Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey.

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