(Repeats story from Wednesday with no changes to headline or
By Solarina Ho and Allison Lampert
TORONTO, June 7 Canadian department store
operator Hudson's Bay Co has not yet applied for a
Montreal city permit to transform a historic downtown property
into a Saks Fifth Avenue store, a government official said on
Wednesday, raising prospects the luxury chain could miss its
targeted fall 2018 launch.
Hudson's Bay, which operates its namesake chain in Canada,
bought Saks in 2013 for $2.4 billion. It also owns Lord & Taylor
in the United States, leading German department store chain
Kaufhof, and has plans to open the first international Hudson's
Bay stores in the Netherlands.
The retailer, which reports first quarter results on
Thursday, announced plans last September for the largest Saks
store in Canada, a 200,000 square-foot (18,580 sq meter)
flagship in Montreal. At the time, the company said the
building, which already houses a Hudson's Bay store, would
undergo an "extensive" multimillion-dollar renovation.
With North American department stores reporting dismal
sales, shuttering outlets, and cutting costs, squeezed by online
competitors like Amazon.com Inc, several retail
industry consultants said a re-evaluation or delay of the
project would come as no surprise.
City spokeswoman Anik de Repentigny told Reuters Montreal
has not received a permit application for the property, which
includes refacing a portion of the exterior, according to an
artist's rendering released last September.
In a statement, Hudson's Bay spokeswoman Tiffany Bourre
reiterated the company's intention to bring Saks Fifth Avenue to
Montreal, but declined to comment on specifics including whether
the project was delayed, or when it will apply for a permit.
Any potential delay could mean missing the crucial holiday
shopping season, industry consultants said.
"The importance of being open for the holiday period cannot
be underestimated," said Doug Stephens, founder of Retail
"If we're thinking fall of 2018, we're 15 months out ...
Certainly we would expect delays - it would be a question of how
long," said Sally Seston, a principal at Retail Category
Consultants, adding that department stores across the spectrum
Saks has two full-line stores in Canada, both in Toronto,
and a Calgary location set to open in January 2018.
One retail consultant familiar with Hudson's Bay stores but
not involved with the Montreal project, said the lack of a
permit application was a "tell-tale" sign.
"If you look at the physical premise, I can't imagine they
would meet their deadline," said the consultant who spoke on
condition of anonymity to avoid poisoning relations with the
It took some 19 months, from the time when permits were
issued, before the 170,000 square foot Saks store in downtown
Toronto opened in February 2016, behind its fall 2015 schedule.
Montreal spokeswoman de Repentigny said factors including
project complexity would determine how long it takes to issue a
permit, noting that more than 90 percent of permits for the
downtown borough were issued in under 120 days last year.
Hudson's Bay spokeswoman Bourre said the company was still
working through the details.
Several industry consultants also question why the high-end
retailer would open its largest store in Montreal, a market
known for fashion, but smaller and less affluent than Toronto.
Hudson's Bay does not break down sales by country, but the
Saks luxury chain, which had a total of 41 locations as of Jan.
28, reported an overall drop in same-store sales in four of the
last five quarters, including a 4.8 percent fall in the first
quarter of 2017.
"There is this concern they really aren't doing the numbers
that they had thought they were going to do," said Maureen
Atkinson, senior partner with global retail advisor, J.C.
Williams Group, of the Toronto locations.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto; Additional reporting by
Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Tom Brown)