Montreal-based Bentley Leathers has launched a new travel-focused retail store concept targeting airports and other travel nodes called Tracker that it plans to roll out across Canada and beyond. The store expansion will act as the primary growth channel for Bentley following its restructuring shortly before the start of the pandemic.
The first Tracker storefront opened earlier this month at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport near Montreal, and more locations are planned according to Bentley’s CEO Walter Lamothe. The Montreal airport store is located on the departure level just before security and it stocks a range of convenient, last minute travel necessities for people on the go.
Tracker is actually the name of a bag and accessory brand developed by Bentley for its stores, and the name is now being used for the expansion which Lamothe said will be global. The new Tracker storefronts require minimal construction according to the retailer, with each storefront spanning between 200 and 400 square feet typically composed of freestanding walls and fixtures that can be retrofitted to existing locations. Bentley said that this makes it easy to adjust the concept to any airport, train station or transit station globally. “We have a team in place that understands the new reality we are living in, and has a vision of the stores of tomorrow that offer solutions for the everyday traveler,’’ says Richard Dumont, Vice-President Customer Experience.
Orange and black are the colours of the brand with stores featuring bright interiors and displays of highly curated collections of contemporary, functional and affordable luggage, duffle bags, and backpacks, as well as security handbags and modern travel accessories.
One particularly unique feature of Tracker stores is a built-in vending machine which the retailer refers to as its ‘silent seller’ window. Customers can shop smaller items even if the store is closed via the vending machine with exterior window access.
Bentley CEO Walter Lamothe told Retail Insider that his vision is to expand the Tracker concept to airports and transit stations in Canada and beyond. The ease of setup and potential for growth means that there’s currently no set targeted number of locations, and that the expansion will happen as opportunities present.
The potential for growth of the Tracker brand globally could give Bentley a significant revenue boost after the retailer filed for creditor protection in late 2019 and restructured shortly thereafter in early 2020. The retailer had what Lamothe said at the time was too many locations and the restructuring allowed Bentley to right-size its retail footprint in this country.
Now with Tracker, the opportunity for Bentley to grow its business is there under a different name — in order to expand globally, Bentley Leathers wasn’t able to use the ‘Bentley’ name because of intellectual property-related rights.
Earlier this month, Lamothe said that he brought members of the Bentley team to the new Montreal airport Tracker store for something of a ‘pep rally’ and the feedback from the team was overwhelmingly positive. “It was thumbs up all around, we were thrilled,” Lamothe said. “The sentiment was that we made it through the pandemic and that Tracker is the crown on top of a long, tedious process.”
Bentley Leathers also recently opened a new store concept at the Avalon Mall in St. John’s Newfoundland, which is where the retailer opened its very first storefront in 1987. Bentley now operates over 160 stores across Canada in markets across the country and is considered to be the go-to retailer in Canada for affordably-priced bags and accessories.