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Michael Knell

BrandSource store incorporates new ideas

The new BrandSourceThe new BrandSource Ottawa is the first store in the network to be built from the ground up.
OTTAWA - BrandSource Canada has opened its first built-from-the-ground-up home furnishings store here and the first to incorporate parent company Mega Group's latest thinking in store layout, design and merchandising.
     The interior was created by Mega's longtime director of commercial design, Carole Vallières, and designer Carrie Chubey.
     "It's all about the consumer - she was our main focus," Vallières said. "The store is close to a residential area where two types of clientele coexist: a young, hip crowd living in condos, and a more conservative clientele looking for classically styled furniture."
     To answer the needs of these groups, the store was thought out in two different styles which Vallières labelled Urban and Timeless. Each is represented in a complete house display in the store's entranceway.
     "Signage is a key component of the consumer's venturing into the store," Vallières said. "As soon as she crosses the front doors, she is led to choose the style that corresponds to her taste right away. The signage indicates and leads the consumer in the specific zone representing the style she has chosen. In each area, she can find a living room, a dining or bedroom in perfect coordination. This type of setting also mirrors the open concept of most homes."
     The 16,000-square-foot store at St. Laurent Boulevard and Belfast Road also sports a Sleep Experience gallery similar to the one recently opened by Germain Lariviève in Montreal.
     "The owners chose our Sleep Experience banner for its specialist approach to the sleep system products," Vallières said.
     The store also features a lounge complete with a self-serve coffee bar. "This offers a relaxing environment to discuss her next purchase," she noted, adding that the washrooms feature hotel-style hand towels to enhance the athome feeling. The changing tables also offer diapers for harried parents.
Owners Brian JannaOwners Brian Janna, left, Richard Laplante and Marc- Olivier Laplante celebrate the store’s grand opening in early September.

     The store is owned by Richard Laplante, his son Marc-Olivier Laplante and Brian Janna. The senior Laplante and Janna are seasoned home furnishings retailers but are new to Mega Group and BrandSource Canada. Marc- Olivier Laplante is the company controller.
     Sales associates are all equipped with iPads, allowing them to respond immediately to most every question a customer might ask. Among the floor's more prominent furniture suppliers are Palliser, El Ran, Bugatti Design, Magnussen Home and Ashley. The mattress assortment includes collections from Sealy and Tempur-Pedic, among others.
    "We're very excited with the collection we've assembled with the help of BrandSource. We've added Canadian-made products to our collection as well as a variety of brands to respond to each customer's taste," Richard Laplante said. "We wanted a unique and ‘wow!' store and we think we've got it."
     "This new store has lots of advantages for us," Janna added. "BrandSource responds to the customers by offering them unsurpassed customer services and customized solutions fitted to their taste."
     Michael Vancura, Mega's executive vice president of retail, said Laplante and Janna are good examples of the type of people Mega wants to attract to the cooperatively owned buying and marketing group.
The store’s merchandisingThe store’s merchandising profile focuses on contemporary designs targeting the urban tastes of new condo dwellers, such as the living room groups seen here.

     "They were looking to migrate to a more contemporary merchandising offering to serve the growing urban tastes of new condo owners," Vancura said.
     "They are also interested in Mega's more collaborative, co-op driven approach that allows a fair amount of regional customizing while still receiving all the support today's retailers require, such as design, merchandising, marketing, Web, social media, sales and sales management training."
     Vancura also said he believes Ottawa BrandSource is also a good example of where Mega wants to take its national go-tomarket strategy.
     "This first ground-up store, well located in an urban market and well-designed, is a showcase of who we are and will be a proof for BrandSource that this type of store will generate volume and profit," he said.
     To date, Mega has added 13 stores to the BrandSource Canada network, bringing the total to 155 outlets. The latest addition, Chediac BrandSource Home Furnishings in New Glasglow, Nova Scotia, just opened recently.
     Vancura said Mega's target for 2014 is to add another 10 stores to the BrandSource Canada banner.

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