H&M is the latest entrant into Ottawa’s retail market, making a long-awaited announcement Tuesday that the fashion retailer will open its first local location in the Bayshore Shopping Centre this fall.
© File photo
Bayshore Shopping Centre.
“Make room in your closets! H&M set to open @BayshoreOttawa Shopping Centre Fall 2013!” read a tweet from H&M Canada’s Twitter account Tuesday morning.
The news made a splash on the social media platform, with many local residents expressing enthusiasm for the arrival of the store.
Bayshore’s general manager Denis Pelletier said that this news has been in the works a long time, with H&M having its eye on the Ottawa market for almost 10 years.
“With the expansion of the shopping centre, we’re adding quite a bit of new retail space and we’re able to provide them the size and the location that they see working well for their concept,” he said. “We’re very lucky to have them. It’s outstanding news.”
Bayshore first announced details of the mall’s expansion last May. Mr. Pelletier explained to attendees at a groundbreaking event that the expansion will add 160,000 square feet of new retail space in order to create 56 new stores including a Target.
H&M will take over 22,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the former Zellers location, according to H&M Canada spokesperson Emily Scarlett.
“We’ve been waiting nine years for this,” she said. “It’s no secret that we’ve been actively looking because we believe so strongly in the Ottawa market.”
A minimum of 18,000 square feet is required for a standard H&M location, she said, and Bayshore finally had that amount of space to offer.
The one-level store will feature ladies, mens, teens and kids departments.
Mr. Pelletier said in the last five years, every survey the mall has done has shown H&M to be the number one requested store, with up to a 20 per cent gap between it and the second place shop.
“I think it’s another step towards what we’ve been trying to accomplish here, which is re-energize the shopping centre and create a really fun shopping environment for folks in Ottawa,” he said.
It’s the second fall in a row that Bayshore has had a large tenant announcement, with an Apple location opening in the fall of 2012. The timing is strategic, Mr. Pelletier said, to gain momentum before the Christmas season.
While an exact date has not been set, the H&M will likely open in October. Ms. Scarlett said H&M will make an announcement six weeks in advance of the official opening date.
Hiring will begin shortly, with between 50 to 60 full- and part-time positions available to service the store, according to Ms. Scarlett.
Upon completion, Bayshore will have a total of 915,000 square feet of gross leasable floor area spread over three floors of commercial retail units. That's up 31 per cent from its current 698,500 square feet, according to a planning documents prepared by Delcan Corp. for Ivanhoé Cambridge, the Montreal-based property management and development firm that owns the shopping centre.
The new H&M location will be the 64th in Canada and the first in Ottawa. Local devotees have been calling for the retailer to expand to the nation’s capital for several years. The message resonated with H&M officials, who told OBJ in 2009 that Ottawa was “at the top of our wish list” of future locations.
The sentiment was also expressed by some of the city’s top retail landlords.
Speaking at the 2011 Ottawa Real Estate Forum, Rideau Centre’s general manager Cindy VanBuskirk said H&M should have Ottawa on its radar, along with retailers such as Crate & Barrel, Victoria’s Secret, J. Crew and Anthropolgie.
“The reason they are not here is either that they are just coming to Canada and just going into the Toronto market, and Ottawa is a year or two away or – as in the case of H&M – they haven’t been able to get the right real estate here. They can’t find the right location, with the right size at the right time.”
First opened as a Swedish women’s apparel store called Hennes in 1947, H&M has expanded with 2,800 stores in 49 markets, according to the company’s website.