Canadian Retailer ‘Bentley Leathers’ Launches New Store Concept [Photos]

Bentley Leathers is breathing new life into the 30-year-old brand as it is developing new concept stores as part of the company’s strategy to become the authority on travel and life on the go.

Bentley Leathers is Canada’s number one destination for luggage and everyday purses, backpacks, and business bags.

The company says it plans to transform the brand into a solution and experience company with the goal of helping Canadians create lasting memories and supporting the communities they have catered to for so many years.

“We want to be the Google for everything travel and day-to-day solutions for life on the go,” said Walter Lamothe, President and CEO of Bentley Leathers, which is based in Montreal.

Bentley began in 1987 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and today has more than 250 stores across Canada. The company also has repair centres — five in Canada.

“Our target market customer is a bit wide as far as demographics is concerned. We are for life on the go. We kind of live by that. If you look at it, for back to school, which is a short period of time, but the kid that’s going back to school that’s their first journey of memory. They’ve got our backpack on their back. And right up and through all of my first business, my first travel for business, my first vacation as a married couple, my first retirement vacation. Whatever it is, even the trip to the grocery store. We really now categorize ourselves as a travel destination but also travel in day to day,” said Lamothe.

Lamothe said the company understands the day-to-day life of Canadians and it is providing products to meet that need to make it as easy as possible for people to carry things around.

“By next spring we’ll have everything RFID (radio-frequency identification) which means we protect personal data. All within your wallet is protected. Your wallet inside of a handbag. We’re going to have a compartment that’s protected. We have most of them now but it will be 95 per cent by the time we get to the spring. Basically we’re saying for every travel short or small you can trust us to come and give you something of quality, value-oriented. If you come into our shop what you should be able to get is quality, value for money. If you say you want security, then I should be educating you as to how you can secure yourself and even the security if something does happen to you with this luggage, we’re behind everything we sell. Your personal data is secure. We have bags that you can’t even cut open with an exacto knife.”

The new store re-design in CF Fairview Pointe-Claire shopping centre in Montreal, for example, features simplifying the overwhelming task of finding the right product for the customers’ needs and at the right price, says the company.

There are two new moment zones — travel and day-to-day — which depict snapshots that serve as inspiration to the customer for their life on the go. Bentley has also reduced the number of brands they carry focusing on a select curated assortment that is relevant and in line with their brand standards. They are also investing in the growth of their own brands with innovative new designs including eco-conscious options, standardized anti-theft features, timeless contemporary collections, and new relevant partnerships.

There are two new moment zones — travel and day-to-day — which depict snapshots that serve as inspiration to the customer for their life on the go. Bentley has also reduced the number of brands they carry focusing on a select curated assortment that is relevant and in line with their brand standards. They are also investing in the growth of their own brands with innovative new designs including eco-conscious options, standardized anti-theft features, timeless contemporary collections, and new relevant partnerships.

“Fashion doesn’t have to stop at your handbag. You should make a statement even when you’re carrying your luggage. You need your basic road warrior luggage that’s one definition of something. But you know what, a week away with the girlfriends in New York have some fun with. We’re finding a lot of customers coming in and saying, ‘what I need is one thing and what I want is something else’. And we can cover those too. It’s the direction that we’re heading,” said Lamothe.

The company’s stores across Canada are primarily situated within malls but it does have some locations at other places such as airports and downtown office towers.

“We’ve embarked on a new strategy. We’re transforming the organization into what I’m defining today as travel and day to day. We’ve opened up the new store in CF Fairview Pointe-Claire. We also have a new one opening up in a couple of weeks in Place d’Orleans in Ottawa. We have a brand new one that opened up in Laurier Quebec in, Quebec City. And a version of it in downtown Montreal in Gare Centrale,” said Lamothe. “So these four are basically well lit. They allow the product to speak for itself rather than the store to be too heavy.

Lamothe said lighting is a key differentiator with the new concept stores and more stores in the future could be retrofitted. The key is letting the product speak for itself by using light and clear spaces to highlight the product.

Products have also been categorized very clearly.

“The customer is walking in saying ‘hey I get how to shop this store’,” said Lamothe.

“We started off with four this year. We’ll probably do as many again next year or more depending on how successful we see these are.

“We will also be looking at concepts that will allow us to also expand. Probably not next year but beyond that I think there’s other possibilities in our hamper. For us it’s a moving target all the time. I think we’re re-adjusting to the market, and we will always keep our network healthy. In the short term what I really want our customers to know is come in and see us maybe for the first time even if you’ve been before – and walking in even a store that is not the prettiest store in the world the product is going to be speaking for itself.”  

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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  1. Looking to expand? They are closing down stores in NS. 2 years in a row..right before Christmas. Single working mothers. Sole bread winners of families, students. All starting the new year with no job. Maybe you could write an article about that. The cruel side of Bentleys. How Bentleys ruined Christmas.

      • The announcement has been made. Laid off single working mothers with children right before Christmas and to top it off, they are showing them what they could have received in severance right before they tell them they are not getting it.

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