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Holt Renfrew, the closely held luxury department store operator, said on Monday it will launch a lower-priced chain called hr2 in the spring, well ahead of U.S. luxury retailer Nordstrom Inc's debut north of the border.
"A new hr2 division will buy distinct merchandise for these new stores, and the product will not overlap that found in Holt Renfrew stores," the company said in a statement that noted the hr2 concept would offer designer goods at "great value".
Nordstrom is opening its first Canadian store in Calgary, Alberta, in the fall of 2014, and will start rolling out its lower-priced Rack outlets, with which hr2 will compete, around the same time. President Blake Nordstrom told Reuters in September that he sees the potential for more than dozen Rack locations in Canada.
The first hr2 store will open near Montreal in March 2013, and another is planned for Ontario in early 2013.
"Canadians can look forward to a strong national presence of our hr2 stores across the country before the end of 2015," Heather Arts, vice president of hr2, said in a statement.
Despite a sluggish economy, U.S. luxury chains such as Nordstrom have outperformed rivals that cater to middle- and lower-income shoppers as affluent shoppers have kept spending.
But high-end retailers have also been cautious, typically expanding outlet chains rather than opening new full-service stores.
Holt Renfrew is part of the Toronto-based Weston family's Selfridges Group Ltd. George Weston Ltd is the majority owner of Loblaw Cos Ltd, Canada's biggest grocery chain.