Quebec’s Robert brothers – Jean-Philippe, François-Xavier and Guillaume – are continuing to expand their retail footprint with the acquisition of internationally-renowned Canadian luxury brand WANT Les Essentiels which has been operating in Montreal since 2007. The acquisition complements the brothers’ other retail interest, the winter coat brand Quartz Co.
“WANT Les Essentiels is a brand we have observed for several years with great respect. It stands out for its catalogue of exceptional flagship products, recognized worldwide, emerging from a rich creative universe that also integrates quality, responsible design, and functionality. This acquisition allows us to consolidate our position in the premium clothing and accessories market,” said Jean-Philippe Robert, President of Quartz Co.
Quartz, based in Montreal, specializes in premium made-in-Canada outerwear. The company started in 1997 under the name Quartz Nature. The brothers bought it in 2015 and made a few changes. Today, it operates one physical retail location as it’s mostly a wholesale company with close to 250 stores around the world it sells to. The physical store opened last September in Mile End, and accommodates a showroom, a store, a design studio, and an area that can host events and pop-up installations.
“It’s a store that’s right next to our design studio, the showroom, the head office. It’s a real destination store. It’s been doing pretty good. We were expecting a lot more foot traffic because this is a big office area so obviously we were counting on more foot traffic but given the COVID circumstances, we’re pretty happy,” said Robert. “We’re looking at different locations for next season. I cannot confirm anything at this point.”
WANT has been another Montreal brand that the Robert brothers have been watching and admiring for many years. Founded in 2007 in Montréal by Byron and Dexter Peart and Mark and Jacqueline Wiltzer, WANT Les Essentiels specializes in luxury bags, shoes and accessories of minimalist, timeless and functional design.
Recognized for its commitment to sustainability, the brand furthers Montréal’s expertise in design and craftsmanship worldwide. Its products are sold online (wantlesessentiels.com) and at premium retailers in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia, including Bloomingdale’s, Assembly, Carbon38, Litchfield, mrporter.com, farfetch.com and Liberty of London.
“We bought the brand for four different reasons. The first one is the brand awareness in the market is pretty strong here in Canada but also in the US and elsewhere in the world. Secondly the catalogue of products is also strong. There’s recognizable pieces, iconic pieces, that are a solid foundation for the catalogue,” said Robert.
“The third one is we see interesting synergies between our two companies because we share a lot of the same functions in the business. The plan is to keep the brands separate, to develop the brands separately, so each can seek its own DNA but there will be some synergies. And the fourth reason is that there’s a team coming with the brand which is solid and we plan to integrate through our business. It was very important to have people in place. It’s not just buying a brand.”
WANT used to have seven retail locations mixed with an apothecary concept. But they closed with COVID. The brand wholesales to about 40 accounts at this point and ecommerce is a pretty strong component of the business. Robert said the brothers will definitely look into opening retail locations for WANT.
“We believe in omnichannel. We think both retail and ecomm and wholesale really help each other. You have to be very strategic and select carefully where you open and when but this is something we’re really going to look into as we integrate the business,” he said.
Since 2015, Quartz has tripled its sales and grown at a rate of 40 per cent year over year. Its winter coats, designed and manufactured in Québec, are sold at major fashion banners and well-known outdoor stores in more than 15 countries, mainly in Canada, United States, Germany, France, Japan, Norway, and Greenland.
“I am convinced that WANT Les Essentiels will continue to flourish thanks to the leadership of Jean-Philippe, François-Xavier and Guillaume Robert. Their solid expertise in the fashion and luxury industry will allow them to propel the growth of this iconic Montréal brand, recognized all over the world,” said Mark Wiltzer, Managing Partner, Mark Edwards Group and co-founder of WANT Les Essentiels, in a statement.
In 2019, the entrepreneurs also acquired Confection Bécotte of Victoriaville and Les Confections Stroma, a major clothing manufacturing workshop established in Montréal for 50 years, allowing them to double Quartz Co.’s winter coat production capacity and triple its workforce.
In 2020, the Robert brothers expanded their new plant in Montréal’s St-Michel borough and decided to invest in the purchase of new equipment to produce thousands of gowns for caregiving personnel in the fight against COVID-19.