WLKN Launches Kids’ Collection as it Expands Operations

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Quebec-based clothing retailer WLKN has launched a kids’ collection in its own stores as well as with another retailer.

WLKN has diversified its strategy in an effort to grow the brand and stay ahead of its competition. The kids’ collection is now also in Boutique Clément – a top children’s retailer in Quebec with about 30 locations. It hopes to expand that reach to other retailers in Canada in the new year.

WLKN is also growing its footprint as it will open the company’s eighth store in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in September.

“It’s the first time we’ve sold our WLKN brand in another retailer,” said Maxime Bourdeau, creative director and co-owner of the retail company, adding that initial sales of the kids’ collection were tremendous.

Max Bourdeau.

“We’ve started to work on a second collection for Spring 2019 and we are now searching for other retailers in Canada that can carry our brand.”

WLKN opened in November 2010 in Quebec City and the multi-brand store offers a wide range of streetwear and sportswear clothing brands, footwear and accessories. It has 150 employees.

Pierre Mercier, the company’s CEO, said the Sherbrooke store will open in mid-September.

Pierre Mercier.

Current stores are in four Quebec locations – Gatineau, Laval, Brossard and Quebec City – and three Ontario locations – the Oshawa Centre, the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket and Vaughan Mills.

“The name is from walking into a big closet. We took the WLKN. It was that simple. In the first place, we wanted a name that can go through the times. So if different styles change we’ll stay no matter what the style of what we’re selling,” said Mercier. “The logo also with the W at first is a powerful letter. We’ve been around for eight years and the logo still stays strong when people recognize it and look at it,” said Bourdeau.

“We still dress people for all kinds of different activities. When people come in, they’re probably going to find something even though maybe they’re not sure because we have multi styles.”

WLKN CHILDREN CLOTHING (PHOTO: WLKN)

The kids’ collection was very popular.

“Max had a little boy approximately two years ago,” said Mercier. “We are in the clothing business. So we decided to make some styles for his kid. It was where we started in the first place. A lot of our customers were asking about kids clothing. People who were coming in and asking and through social media. Max also is an influencer and a lot of people follow him. People wanted kidswear.”

The kids’ collection was so popular it sold out in stores in two weeks.

WLKN Locations

He said kidswear has opened a new way for WLKN to grow its business and the company is searching right now for other retailers in Canada – in Ontario, Calgary, Vancouver – to perhaps carry the kids’ collection in February 2019.

“Our industry is a tough industry. It’s tough for everyone. Even us. We still will open new stores but we try to negotiate with all the landlords differently because the rent is often the biggest expense for the company,” said Mercier. “So we try to work with them and the big malls to have percentage rent. So with that we control the risk versus opening new stores.

“But we would like to have stores in every province in Canada first. Maybe around like 25 locations across Canada. We’re working a lot right now with a new website. The sales online is not what we expect yet but we’re pushing a lot online to be sure.”

WLKN is represented by brokerage Oakmont Real Estate Services [Contacts]

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 is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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