By Mario Toneguzzi
Canadian-based retailer Roots continues to look at opportunities to spread its retail footprint both in Canada and abroad.
“We look at our growth beyond simply physical store expansion. We are a seamless omni-channel retailer with global growth aspirations. The steps we continue to take are with a focus on better positioning Roots as an iconic brand on the global stage,” said Jim Gabel, President and CEO of Roots.
Gabel said the company continues to believe there is an opportunity to grow its square footage in Canada be it through new stores, renovations and relocations with a focus on premium mall-based and streetfront locations.
In the United States, in addition to its ability to ship to 50 states, Gabel said the retailer is confident that its strategy of expanding with two to three stores in each of its targeted cities, supported by its seamless omni-channel capabilities, is the right approach.
“We will continue to work with our partner to expand in current markets, Taiwan and China. We see Hong Kong as a multi-store opportunity for us, working with our existing partner. Our existing partner also has rights to expand into Malaysia and Singapore. We will also continue to explore opportunities in other regions with our asset light partner model.”
The first Roots store opened in Toronto on August 15, 1973, where Roots founders, Michael Budman and Don Green launched Roots first product, the ‘negative heel’ shoe, which featured a heel that was lower than the toe.
In Canada, the retailer had 114 stores at the end of its Fiscal 2018 year, supported by a seamless omni-channel shopping experience. The U.S. had seven stores with plans to open in Chicago in late spring.
Taiwan had 117 and China 37 with Hong Kong opening a store in April.
During its Fiscal 2018 year, its international reach stretched to 50 countries where the retailer had shipped product.
“We increased our overall store square footage (in Canada) with a focus on premium mall-based and street front locations. We opened six new stores during Fiscal 2018 while also opting not to renew leases for eight stores, as we continue to focus on optimizing our overall Canadian retail footprint,” said Gabel. “In addition, we renovated four stores, and relocated and expanded six stores during Fiscal 2018.
“We expanded into two new markets (in the U.S.), opening two stores in Boston and two stores in Washington D.C. During Fiscal 2018, our longstanding international partner opened 10 new locations in Taiwan and 11 in China.
Gabel said the company will open one to two new stores in Canada during its Fiscal 2019 year. He said one to two new stores will open in the U.S. including the Chicago location.
“We will continue to work with our partner to expand in current markets, Taiwan and China, and we just expanded into Hong Kong with a store in Hong Kong’s premier shopping centre, Harbour City, and Roots launch on Zalora.com, the leading name in online fashion shopping in Hong Kong,” he said.
Gabel described Roots as a premium outdoor lifestyle brand, uniting the best of cabin and city through “unmistakable style” built with “uncompromising” comfort and quality.
“But Roots is more than a brand, it is a lifestyle: uniting the best of cabin and city, experiencing everyday adventures with comfort and style, and the idea of being true to our nature, encouraging everybody to get back to who we truly are,” explained Gabel.
“Beyond our coveted products - a range of women’s and men’s apparel, leather goods, footwear, accessories, as well as kid, toddler and baby apparel and accessories - we create innovative and captivating experiences – both physical and digital - for our consumers.
“At the heart of it, our brand stands for: Community, (being) Genuine, Integrity and Freedom,” he said.
During Fiscal 2018, Roots undertook a record number of projects, better positioning Roots for long-term growth, said Gabel. Besides the store openings, it also did 10 renovations and/or expansions and relocations in Canada.
“We also undertook the largest capital project in the company’s history, commencing our transition to our Roots-operated integrated distribution centre, which will better support bricks and mortar and ecommerce growth across Canada and the U.S.,” he said.
“We progressed several important brand relationships. For example, we released our first Shawn Mendes capsule collection. We partnered with Air Canada to celebrate International Sweatpants Day. Our iconic awards jackets were central in the 2018 Rogers’ Hometown Hockey Tour with Sportsnet hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Sloan sporting custom Roots jackets as they stop in 24 communities across Canada.
“During fiscal 2019, we will continue to execute on our growth strategy, with a greater focus on implementing large-scale, digitally driven brand-building marketing campaigns, as you would have seen with the launch of our True to Our Nature brand platform which we introduced to the market in late April. You will also see us celebrate a larger number of brand-specific energy moments throughout the year and introduce new innovative and transitional seasonal products.
“In 2019 already, we have completed renovations/ relocations for Devonshire Mall, Government Street in Victoria B.C., our store in Old Quebec City and most recently our Bloor St, Toronto location.”
Gabel said today’s consumers are looking more and more to connect with brands, become part of the brand community. They are seeking out brands that stand for something and are loyal to brands that act with integrity. They also value quality and craftsmanship in the products they purchase.
“Today’s consumer is also always on-the-go. They want to be able to connect with a brand anytime and from anywhere and are looking for experiences that are effortless, consistent and personal, be it in-store, online or a combination of the two,” he 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: email@example.com.