Montreal-based activewear brand Lolë (Live Out Loud Everyday) plans to more than double its Canadian store count and substantially grow its sales over the next several years. We spoke with President & CEO Bernard Mariette to learn more.
Founded in 2002 in Longueuil, Quebec, Lolë caters to the active urban customer. It specializes in apparel for yoga, running, swimming and other activities, as well as casual fashion apparel. All locations offer free exercise meet-ups twice weekly at a local park, as well as lectures given by yoga/pilates specialists, and nutrition experts. Tea and fruit are served daily at each store location.
The brand currently has 17 free-standing Canadian locations, and Mr. Mariette says that over the next several years the brand intends to operate between 30 and 40 Canadian stores. Lolë's first choice for store locations is streetfront retail space – although with Canada's weather, the brand is also open to enclosed malls and outlet centres. Lolë will concentrate its Canadian store expansion in Western Canada and Southern Ontario. Locations in Saskatchewan are being considered and according to Mr. Mariette, a Calgary location is “going to happen” in the next while. Lolë is represented by Montreal-based brokerage Think Retail, and seeks retail space in the 1,250 to 2,000 square foot range.
Lolë opened its latest location last month in Whistler, BC. Mr. Mariette says that Lolë stores do well in four-season resort areas, enjoying tremendous sales in Mont Tremblant, QC, and Banff, AB, for example. Being a four-season resort is key, according to Mr. Mariette, in order to ensure year-round sales. Winterwear, for example, has become a popular category at Lolë and being from Montreal, the brand endeavours to make its designs more fashion-forward than the competition.
Mr. Mariette explains that Lolë has a similar 'DNA' to Lululemon, but with a broader focus. About a third of Lolë's sales are from yoga-related products, about a third are from jackets and winter-related apparel, and the remainder are from general sportswear and accessories.
Lolë currently operates 41 stores worldwide, including 17 Canadian locations. It also has 42 international 'retail partnerships', which are essentially shop-in-store locations for the brand. The company is looking to operate almost 100 free-standing stores worldwide by the year 2019, as well as over 80 retail partnerships.
Lolë's sales have been stellar both in Canada and internationally, and they continue to grow. In 2009, Lole forecasted its 2014 sales to be about $97 million. The company exceeded that number, enjoying sales in excess of $105 million last year. The company's sales forecasts for 2015 are about $125 million and for 2017-2018, the company predicts revenue of about $210 million. Lolë sees tremendous international growth opportunities, especially in the United States.
Lolë plans to open four or five Canadian locations in 2015, and we'll update you when we learn more.