August 29, 2014 3:25 pm

Holt Renfrew big part of Quebec City history

QUEBEC CITY – Quebec City shoppers are still shaken, one day after luxury retailer Holt Renfrew announced it is closing its oldest store.

Holt Renfrew was founded almost two centuries ago, in Old Quebec.

“It all began when William Henderson came to Quebec City in 1834 with a boatload of hats,” explained Shirley Nadeau, Editor of the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, North America’s oldest newspaper.

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“In 1883, Sir John A. MacDonald was in Quebec City visiting and he purchased a fur coat at Holt Renfrew and several years later Queen Victoria took a fancy to Holt Renfrew’s popular hats and furs, so it became an official supplier to her Majesty the Queen of England.”

“Not bad for a little store that became a very big store across Canada. To me, it’s very sad to see this treasured old store, which has its roots here in Quebec City, leave Quebec City,” Nadeau added.

The luxury retailer announced it is shutting down its Ottawa and Quebec City stores to focus instead on “key markets” such as Toronto and Vancouver. And the news is hitting customers hard: “They’ve been around for such a long time and you know you’ve got a limited number of stores that have high-end quality here.

It’s a shame,” said regular shopper Dwight Delahunt.

Laval University Management Professor Yan Cimon said the company is doing the right thing, given its competitors, Nordstrom and Saks, are preparing a major offensive.

“It’s an emotionally hard decision, but from a business perspective it’s entirely rational that they want to compete in the Canadian market, and growth isn’t here,” he told Global News.

Nevertheless, it’s leaving customers such as Delahunt in the lurch, and Quebec City, void of an important piece of its history.

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