Holt Renfrew

Holt Renfrew

Holt Renfrew began as a hat shop in 1837 and was once a purveyor of fashion to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. In 1930s, Holt Renfrew began exclusive accounts with leading European designers. They hosted Christian Dior in 1947 when he launched his "New Look". In 1986, they were bought by W. Galen and Hon. Hilary M. Weston and is currently controlled by the Selfridges Group.

William S. Henderson, the founder of Holt Renfrew, arrived in Quebec City from Ireland in 1834 with hats and caps for sale. He then set up a shop call William Ashton &Co, and in 1837, he bought out his partners' interest. The store was renamed William S. Henderson & Co. in 1847 and was at 12 Buade Street. It later more to a large building at 35 Buade Street. The business was sold to his William's brother, John, and the name changed to John Henderson & Co.

George Richard Renfrew joined as a business partner in 1862 and the company became called Henderson, Renfrew and Company. By the middle of the 19th Century, the company was promoting in markets outside of Quebec. They won medals at London, Paris and Philadelphia exhibitions. In 1886, the business, now called G.R. Renfrew & Co., received the honour of being named "Furriers in Ordinary" by Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

The first store outside of Quebec City was established in 1889. It was located at 71 and 73 King Street East in Toronto. Allen E. Renfrew, William Henderson's nephew, became a partner and in 1900, John Henderson Holt was appointed president. The firm then became known as Holt, Renfrew & Co. In 1908, Limited was added.

In 1910, Holt, Renfrew & Co. Limited acquired Dunlop, Cook Co, Limited including their store on St. Catherine St. W. in Montreal. They also acquired the firm of W.J. Hammond, a large fur house in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

In 1937, a new six-story headquarters and flagship store was built in Montreal. It promoted the company's new commitment to haute couture. In 1947, Holt Renfrew signed an agreement with the House of Christian Dior to exclusively sell its fashion in Canada. They also made exclusive agreements with designers Simonette Visconti and Fabiani.

Holt Renfrew opened a store in Edmonton in 1950, as well as in Calgary and London in 1953. They also opened a new story in Toronto on 144 Bloor Street in 1955, and was the country's first stainless steel building. Outlets were also opened in hotels, including the Royal York, the Chateau Frontenac and Chateau Laurier.

In 1962, Holt Renfrew made an exclusive agreement with Yves Saint Laurent. They continued to expand, opening in Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre in 1964 and in Place Ste-Foy, Quebec City in 1965.

The company was bought in the mid-sixties by the Canadian Acceptance Corporation and then toe Broadway-Hale in 1971. In 1975, Holt Renfrew opened the first west coast store at the Pacific Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 1979, a new flagship store in Toronto was open at 50 Bloor Street, and in 1983, Edmonton's branch was opened in Manulife Place.

In 1986, Holt Renfrew was bought by Wittington Investments Limited, a Weston family opening. This change in ownership brought renovations to the Toronto and Montreal stores. In 2007, the unveiled a new store at 737 Dunsmuir Street in Vancouver.