Harry Rosen to Invest $50 Million Over Five Years to Refresh Store Fleet

Harry Rosen is making a big statement about the future of menswear retailing in Canada.

The upscale specialty store chain has committed to spending $50 million over the next five years to relocate its Toronto flagship and refresh its other 18 stores — creating showplaces for its luxury brands and building spaces designed to appeal to a modern customer.

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The centerpiece of the plan is the opening of a new three-story, 38,000-square-foot flagship on Cumberland Street in the Yorkville neighborhood, less than 650 feet from the brand’s current Bloor Street store.

The new flagship is projected to open by the spring of 2026 and will feature an updated design with the latest ideas in men’s retail and designer shops, as well as a large patio overlooking the Village of Yorkville Park, a client lounge and espresso bar, and valet parking on weekends. Larry Rosen, chairman and chief executive officer of Harry Rosen and the eldest son of the founder, said he’s not ready to say which brands would be getting shops or special presentation spots in the new space, but noted that the company has had “long-term special relationships with many of the people” who will be featured and the plan to is “put in a full stable of designer shops and environments.”

Among the company’s top brands are Brunello Cucinelli, Zegna, Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani and Moncler.

In an interview with WWD, Larry Rosen said that since the pandemic, the company has invested in “upping our virtual game.” Online sales in the company’s mainline stores account for 20 percent of sales, added Ian Rosen, Larry’s son and the company’s president and chief operating officer.

And while building its e-commerce business has been top of mind for the past four years, “retail has changed and we felt it was time to reinvent the store experience,” Larry Rosen said. And that will be evident in the new flagship.

The current flagship is approximately the same size, 42,000 square feet, but it’s on five levels and “so chopped up,” Larry Rosen said. The new store, which Harry Rosen is designing in partnership with Dkstudio Architects Inc., a well-respected Canadian firm that has worked with many LVMH and Kering brands, will bring a lot of excitement to the new space, the CEO said.

“Since my father opened the Bloor Street doors in 1970, and our current flagship in 1987, Harry Rosen has developed such a deep connection to the Yorkville neighborhood,” he continued. “We are very excited to continue pushing our legacy forward by positioning our most important, innovative and immersive flagship at the center of the Canadian luxury and fashion space.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Harry Rosen, an iconic Canadian brand, to help them realize an ambitious vision for their new flagship store in Yorkville,” added Rob Kumer, CEO of KingSett Capital. “This relocation repositions and enhances a core asset in the KingSett portfolio and highlights a growing trend in retail real estate, the importance of creating an extraordinary in-store customer experience to build long-term brand and property value.” KingSett is a leading Canadian private equity real estate firm that holds the Cumberland Street building in its Canadian Real Estate Income Fund.

At the same time, the company’s branch stores will also be getting some attention, and one new store will be added, a 16,000-square-foot space in Vancouver’s Oakridge Park development. But first up will be the renovation of the 13,000-square-foot store at West Edmonton Mall. That store is expected to reopen in late May and will feature the first Brunello Cucinelli, Tom Ford and Zegna shops in the market, Ian Rosen said. It will also include a new Center Stage concept, a rotating space that will be changed constantly in order to keep the store experience fresh. “It will be different every time the customer comes in,” Ian Rosen said. “We understand that when a customer visits a store today, the experience is important so there will be a big focus on flexibility.”

All of the other units will also be given a refresh, they said, although the family is in the process of figuring out the schedule now. “All of the stores will be touched,” Ian Rosen said. “The last capital expenditure we did was in 2014 when the thinking was still ‘stack it high and watch it fly.’” But that type of merchandising, where an enormous amount of merchandise is every size is shown on the floor, is a thing of the past.

Currently, 95 percent of the company’s stock is on the floor and 5 percent is backstock, Ian Rosen said. But after the renovations, 40 percent of the inventory will be backstock and 60 percent will be on the selling floor. “That way we’ll be able to offer new branded environments and more lifestyle styling,” he said.

He said that in the past few years, the company has really been studying its tailored clothing business, which continues to grow. But rather than just having a sea of sleeves on display, today’s customer is better served by working with an adviser who can customize his experience. “We’re dedicated to building our tailored clothing business in the new stores and not have suits all over the place like we do now,” Ian Rosen said.

“Retail is theater, and the store is our stage,” he added. “Our new store concepts are a direct response to what we’ve heard from our clients and from studying the world’s leading customer experiences. Both are central to how we plan to deliver excellence moving forward.”

But while the store experience is being emphasized with this new investment, Harry Rosen is not forgetting its online business. Most of the sales in that category are in sportswear and footwear while the majority of dresswear is still purchased in store.

“When you look at how people shop today,” Larry Rosen said, “if a man needs a new dress shirt and knows his size and brand, he will go to our site and buy. But when it comes to the stores, he’s looking for a different kind of experience.”

The company also has an off-price arm that includes five physical stores as well as an online presence called FinalCut by Harry Rosen. “In 2021, we took our digital infrastructure and built a fantastic online experience related to clearance. It connects us to a different customer and is the extension of the physical experience,” Ian Rosen said.

Harry Rosen was founded in 1954 with a single 500-square-foot store in Toronto and over the years has grown to redefine upscale Canadian menswear retailing. The founder, Harry Rosen, passed away on Dec. 24 at age 92.

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