Canadian bag and accessory brand VENQUE has seen stunning growth since it entered the Chinese market a couple of years ago with plans of further expansion in the southeast Asian market in the coming years, as well as within Canada and into other markets.
Simon Cui, the Toronto-based retailer’s co-founder and CEO said VENQUE moved into the China market in late 2017 and the brand has grown to a $3-million USD business there in just two years.
“We do online in China and we have 50 partner stores that carry our products,” he said.
“We see doubling growth in 2020. First of all, the market is very big and we really penetrated to target a younger group of Chinese customers because they’re the ones who spend quite a bit. Right now, the China market is similar to the rest of the world. The offline business there is shrinking but it’s being replaced by the major brands like Zara, H&M. All these things are taking over the shopping malls. But the boutique stores are suffering like the small Canadian brick and mortar stores.
“So we’ve invested 90 per cent of the human resources or money online because 90 per cent of the sales are coming from online. There’s a lot of tricks to do the online. We had to do a lot of research on the trends and on the demographics and the styles because they’re quite different than the North American trends.”
He said it’s important that the company have the ability to adapt to different markets.
Cui added that the retailer is also seeing huge growth in the Japan market.
The company was started in 2011 by Cui and his brother Viktor. In Canada, the retailer has more than 100 partner stores which sell VENQUE products.
“We first started off selling just the backpacks and briefcases. Then we expanded more including some apparel. We just launched the hoodie line last year and some accessories and small items. We position ourselves as the travel and outdoor brand,” said Simon Cui.
He said the company is content right now with how it operates through a distribution network and online and it is not at this moment considering setting up its own stores.
“We are focusing more online and trying to be more like a direct to consumer kind of brand. Maybe in the future we’ll have some experience stores or pop-up shops.
“We launched our first collection off KickStarter and since then we’ve had a few distributors from other countries, and also some small boutique stores reached out to us back in 2014. We slowly gained more retailers little by little each year. Back then, 90 per cent of sales came from those brick and mortar stores. Over the years we noticed those sales with the boutique stores we worked began to decline year by year. We were trying to figure out the reasons and obviously it was the overall impact of the online business.
“We noticed that trend and we started to push our products via online sales. That was in 2016.”
VENQUE’s products are made in China, are hand-crafted and designed for the modern adventurer.
Brothers Simon and Viktor are fashion industry veterans and they left a top fashion design house to craft the perfect backpack designed for urban trendsetters and commuters.
“The increasing demand of their single-item prototype quickly turned into a full collection of luxury, travel, tech and work accessories inspired by the English and French Culture of Canada,” says VENQUE on its website. “Shaped by tradition, technology, and culture, VENQUE is committed to professional artisan quality, detail and durability. Our passion for sustainability in synergy with our culture created what VENQUE is today.
“We have set out to manufacture the highest-quality, handcrafted leather goods available. The VENQUE brand only works with leather providers that pass our rigorous selection process. Our partnerships with the best fabric and bag manufacturers, allow us to deliver an unparalleled carrying experience. It is our mission to find that blend of sustainability and quality that all our customers love. Everything you see at our stores is handmade by real people. Artisans who have spent their professional lives learning the art of making beautiful and functional leather products.”