NEW YORK (AP) — Upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc. is heading to Canada, starting in the fall of 2014, its first move outside the U.S.
The announcement, made at a press conference Thursday in Toronto, comes as a slew of other retailers flock across the border to compete for Canadian shoppers' dollars.
The Seattle-based chain said Thursday that it will team up with Canadian mall developer Cadillac Fairview to open four stores, in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Cadillac Fairview operates shopping centers across Canada.
Officials from Nordstrom and Cadillac Fairview said Nordstrom will move into space vacated by Sears Holdings Corp. and then renovated at Pacific Centre in Vancouver, Chinook Centre in Calgary and Rideau Centre in Ottawa. A new store will be built at Toronto's Sherway Gardens. Nordstrom plans to open the store in Calgary for the fall of 2014. It aims to open the stores in Ottawa and Vancouver in spring of 2015; and Toronto in fall of 2016.
Vancouver will get the largest Nordstrom store, with three levels and some 230,000 square feet planned, bigger than a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
"This is a significant milestone for this company," said Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Inc. during the press conference. "We are very excited about this opportunity to be part of the country." He noted Nordstrom has 15,000 credit card customers from Canada to date.
But he cautioned there's a learning curve even though the market is nearby and customers speak English. "We are the new kids on the block, and there's a lot to learn," he added. "There are cultural differences."
Blake says he envisions Nordstrom operating as many as nine stores in Canada.
John Sullivan, Cadillac Fairview president and CEO, described Nordstrom an "excellent fit" for all four locations.
"Not only will they transform our shopping centers, but enhance the Canadian retail landscape as a whole," he added.
The official announcement of Nordstrom's arrival in Canada follows a steady stream of U.S. and international chains that have flocked to the country in recent years.
British fashion brand Ted Baker London and U.S.-based Kate Spade New York will make their entry into the Canadian marketplace this fall with stand-alone stores at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
Ann Taylor and Loft, both owned by New York-based Ann Inc., will also open at Yorkdale, marking their first forays into Canada. Ann Taylor is also set to open a location at Eaton Centre in Toronto.
Anthropologie, Express, Free People, Intermix, J. Crew, Marshalls, Topshop, Topman and Tory Burch are among other high-profile U.S. and international brands that have established storefronts in Canada.
Discounter Target Corp. is slated to head north of the border in 2013. Starting next year, the Minneapolis-based retailer plans to open 125 to 135 stores in Canada. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is ramping up its expansion in Canada, the most aggressive move since it entered that country in 1994. The discounter plans to spend more than $750 million over the next year to open, move or remodel 73 retail stores including former Zellers locations
Nordstrom currently operates 234 stores in 31 states including 117-full-scale stores, 113 Nordstrom Racks, two Jeffrey boutiques, one Treasure & Bond store and one clearance store.
Canadian Press contributed to this report.