McGill University Officially Launches Bensadoun Retail School

 [Rendering of the renovated school building on the corner of Sherbrooke Street West and McTavish, which will include a street-facing retail 'lab']

[Rendering of the renovated school building on the corner of Sherbrooke Street West and McTavish, which will include a street-facing retail 'lab']

By Mario Toneguzzi

The Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University is aiming to be the destination for tomorrow’s retail leaders.

 Charles de Brabant

Charles de Brabant

 Dr. Saibal Ray

Dr. Saibal Ray

The school, which last year received a $25-million donation from Aldo Bensadoun, who built a global shoe empire which is named after him, has a goal to be the world’s premier school dedicated to the future of retail and its mission is to educate and empower a global network of interdisciplinary thinkers and practitioners who research, envision and prototype a successful world of retail.

Charles de Brabant, executive director of the Bensadoun Retail Initiative, said the school, in Montreal, will be taking in its first students in September of 2018. The school will be co-run by Dr. Saibal Ray, Academic Director of the Bensadoun Retail Initiative.  

“This was a gift that has been in discussion for probably about eight years,” he said. “Retail has been in a transformative moment and as a result our vision is sort of inline with that. We’re always going to be looking to the future in terms of what we want to do . . . We see ourselves as having a unique opportunity to do something on a global level that can differentiate us. The vision is quite ambitious which is to be the leading educational institution dedicated to the future of retail.”

The school was officially approved at the end of March by McGill University. 

The first program for students will start in the fall with a retail management concentration within the undergrad Bachelor of Commerce degree.

The school is aiming to initially have at least 30 students per year taking the retail management concentration.

 Photo: Cadillac Fairview

Photo: Cadillac Fairview

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“I’m excited about the vision of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management to become a global centre of excellence,” said Aldo Bensadoun in a brochure about the school. “We will be able to provide the next generation of retailers with innovative solutions for the industry’s transformation.

“As the consumer’s behaviour evolves, success in retail will depend largely on the integration of connected disciplines such as big data, artificial intelligence and neuroscience, and that’s what we’ll provide for our students.”

The school will offer comprehensive education and training for retail at every level: BCom, Master’s, PhD and Executive.

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It says it will offer multi-disciplinary, integrative research related to the present and future of retailing, including: Brain & Behaviour; Health and Wellness; Retail Operations; Retail Technology and Data Analytics; Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence; Fintech; Entrepreneurship; Circular Design and Sustainability.

There will be internship opportunities with Canadian and international retailers, integrated with the academic program.

A retail experience lab will offer a select number of the school’s partner retailers the opportunity to test new processes, products or technology in a digital-rich, omni-channel retail environment.

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A digital observatory will track consumer trends and behaviour across multiple markets and sectors of the retail industry, providing opportunities for data collection, collation, analysis and research.

On April 27-28, the school will host its first Fashion Retailing Conference.

The conference will provide a forum for exchange —for both professionals and academics— about the latest research, industry practices and approaches, trends  and challenges in retail, it says. The School will welcome professors from prestigious schools such as Cambridge University, Duke University, Harvard Business School, London Business School, MIT, New York University, and Wharton Business School, as well as practitioners from companies such as Accenture, Stylitics, and Stitch Fix

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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: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.
 

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Mario Toneguzzi

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: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.