Sources: Apple to Expand Crowded Eaton Centre Store in Toronto, More Evidence of Yonge-Bloor Flagship Emerges [Updated]
Apple's efforts to modernize its chain of over 500 retail stores around the world may extend to Canada soon.
Apple plans to relocate its oft-crowded store at the Eaton Centre shopping mall in Downtown Toronto to a much larger space in the mall that is currently occupied by apparel chain Abercrombie & Fitch, which will also be relocating within the mall as part of the shuffle, according to people familiar with the matter.
It is certainly possible that Apple could also take over a few additional units surrounding Abercrombie & Fitch for an even larger store.
Just this week, Abercrombie & Fitch erected a temporary barricade for its new store, slated to open in spring 2019. This suggests Apple could take over Abercrombie & Fitch's current space within three to five months from now and begin constructing its new store for a potential grand opening by 2020.
Apple is currently located on the third floor of the Eaton Centre, while the existing Abercrombie & Fitch is situated almost directly beneath Apple on the second floor near the Queen Street entrance to the mall. Apple's mall-based stores are frequently in prime locations near entrances and escalators.
The biggest reason for Apple's planned move would be additional space. Abercrombie & Fitch has a 10,680-square-foot unit, more than twice the size of Apple's current 4,977-square-foot unit, according to an Eaton Centre floor plan.
Eaton Centre is North America's busiest shopping mall, with more than 50 million people passing through its atrium in 2017 according to one study. It is also home to Apple's only store in Downtown Toronto. An expansion would surely be a sigh of relief for not only customers but the team staffing the busy store.
Apple has greatly expanded both its product lineup and retail initiatives since the store first opened in 2006, one year prior to the iPhone. The additional space would better accomodate customers in many ways, ranging from Apple Watch try-ons to Today at Apple sessions to Genius Bar appointments.
The new store would also have an updated aesthetic. Apple's latest retail design typically includes large glass doors, large video screens for Today at Apple sessions and product marketing, and wall-mounted sequoia wood shelves called Avenues that display Beats headphones, iPhone cases, and other accessories.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Eaton Centre owner and management company Cadillac Fairview declined to comment.
Another move that could help with the traffic at Apple Eaton Centre is Apple's rumored flagship store at the ground level of The One, a super-tall 85-floor condominium under construction at the corner of Yonge Street and Bloor Street, one of the busiest intersections in Toronto and bordering the downtown core.
Early last year, Toronto-based photographer, writer, and urban planning aficionado Pedro Marques uncovered a reference to Apple in a planning document for the condominium. The architecture firm behind the project is Foster + Partners, which has partnered with Apple on many retail stores and its Apple Park headquarters.
Marques has now tipped MacRumors to another reference to Apple in a brochure for an adjacent condominium project at 19 Bloor Street West.
The brochure claims that The One will be "the future home of Apple," with the longest side of the store opening to Bloor Street's upscale shopping area Mink Mile. Excavation is underway for construction of the condominium, expected to be completed by late 2022, but its retail space may open as early as 2020.
The southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor is the former site of men's clothing store Stollery's, which closed in early 2015 after 114 years in business.
Apple has four existing stores in Toronto at Yorkdale, Sherway Gardens, Fairview, and the aforementioned Eaton Centre, but all of them are within shopping malls. The One would finally provide Toronto with a long-desired street-facing Apple Store.
Updated: These plans have now been confirmed by a City of Toronto building permit application.