Sarah Segal, the company’s chief executive officer, said Harrods reached out to Squish, which just recently opened in the well-known international department store.
“They found us on Instagram. Really, we see our brand as borderless. There’s so much cross awareness between countries with social media now. There’s not really a barrier as much in terms of people finding you,” said Segal.
“So Harrods came to us and they said we have this wonderful strategy with how we’re going to sell candy in this new section and we want you to have this big part of it and we said absolutely. Harrods for me is a very special retailer and they’ve proven to be incredible partners. They love the innovation and the creativity that we’re bringing to the space.”
The first Squish store opened in 2014 in Montreal. The company will be at 16 locations at the end of the year. The most recent opening in Canada was in Quebec City.
A location in the CF Polo Park shopping centre in Winnipeg is scheduled to open before the end of the year.
“We have a few in the pipeline for early next year but I don’t want to share those yet,” said Segal. “We’ll be in the Maritimes early next year.
“We’re looking at amazing opportunities. The retail landscape is changing and evolving and we’re being very selective with the types of leases and the locations we’re taking. We want to take either kiosks or full stores depending on the opportunities. We’re very flexible in our concept. That’s what I love about selling candy. There is a flexibility in the model that has proven really beneficial to us.”
Segal said the store size is really flexible and depends on traffic and layout.
“I think customers do like a more intimate store as well. The model works from 1,200 down to 200 square feet,” she said. “We’re only in malls right now and that’s been very good for us. I like the mall environment. I hear all these trends that traffic is down but we still do really, really good sales. It doesn’t seem to be hitting food and experiences as hard as the fashion retail. We like malls because of the diversity of clientele as well. It brings in old, young, different groups of people. It’s been very good for us and we’re going to stick to malls for now.
“We’re not ruling out street stores. I think the biggest thing that I’m looking for are strong partnerships. So that’s really what we did with Hudson’s Bay and what we’ve done with Harrods and those have been extremely good synergies. So it’s not that we’re just partnering with anyone but about having really strategic partnerships where you can get the traffic and that traffic helps the other partner as well. It has to be mutually beneficial. That’s what I’m looking for in the next step is a combination of our standalone concept and these strong partnerships.”
Segal said the partnership with Hudson’s Bay has been excellent and it has provided a model for Squish to capture that traffic. Currently, Squish is located in two Bay stores in Canada - in Pacific Centre in Vancouver and in the Eaton Centre in Toronto.
“Traffic is really important. That’s where we’ve been very selective, especially with building brand awareness. We really rely on sampling. We really need that foot traffic to help our sales,” she said.
Squish also works with Indigo where product is sold in those stores. Segal said Squish is very selective about building its partnerships.
“We’re only four and a half years old so we’re really having to grow smart and learn and that’s something that’s really important to me as a retailer right now is to make sure that we respond to how people are shopping and we’re where the traffic is,” she said.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org