By Megan Harman
Quebec-based family-oriented clothing company Aubainerie is venturing into the Ontario market, with a new store opening in the Ottawa region in March.
Aubainerie, which was established nearly 75 years ago, operates 57 stores throughout the province of Quebec. The retailer provides trendy clothing for all age groups.
“We sell clothing for the entire family, from baby to teenagers to women and men,” says Chantal Glenisson, CEO of Aubainerie. “Our mission is to offer to the customer trendy, fashionable clothing, but with affordable prices.”
Providing value for customers is core to the company’s philosophy, Glenisson says. “Families today really need to respect their budget for clothing,” she says. “So that’s why we make our prices lower than the competition.”
Aubainerie’s men’s and women’s tops, for example, range in price from approximately $10 to $40, with children’s clothing starting at about $4. In addition to everyday clothing, the retailer carries a range of sportswear, outerwear, sleepwear, beachwear and accessories.
In addition to its regular stores, Aubainerie operates 13 outlet locations, carrying overstock and end of line merchandise at a discount.
The new Ontario AUB44 store, which opens on March 15th, is 24,000 square feet in size.
The company decided to use the name AUB44 since “Aubainerie” could be difficult to pronounce in English, and might not resonate with customers outside of Quebec, Glenisson says.
“We thought it’s time for us to refresh our brand,” she says. If the new name resonates with customers, she says, the company might consider applying the name to more of its stores.
Other than the name, the Orleans store will be the same as Aubainerie stores in Quebec, and will carry the same range of merchandise that is available in the other stores
Since Orleans has a large French-speaking population in addition to its majority English-speaking population, it represented an appealing location for Aubainerie’s first Ontario location, as the company transitions to the new market.
“For us, it’s a very good first step into the Ontario market to give us the time to really understand the market and the customer,” Glenisson says.
Depending on how well the new store is received, the company plans to explore further expansion opportunities. However, Aubainerie is taking a slow and measured approach to its growth, Glenisson adds.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” she says. “We need to plan ahead where we want to go, how big the stores are going to be, and do all of the market analysis. This is a lot of work before getting there.”
Aubainerie stores range from 15,000-45,000 square feet. Although the chain operates some locations in enclosed malls, many of its stores are free-standing locations.
“It’s a destination for families – they plan to go to Aubainerie,” says Glenisson.
The stores are designed to create a pleasant shopping experience for customers, she adds. Each store is divided into separate departments for each member of the family, with fitting rooms located in the centre of the store.
“The way we build the stores – the colours, the lights – we try to make it a very good shopping experience,” Glenisson says.
Aubainerie currently offers a limited selection of its merchandise for sale on its website, and the company is gradually expanding its e-commerce capabilities. By 2019, the company plans to have all of its merchandise available online.