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Groupe Boucher Opens Canada’s Largest Sports Store in Quebec City [Interview/Photos]

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Groupe Boucher has opened what it describes as the biggest sports store in Canada.

The store, under the Sports Experts and Atmosphere banners, opened in the former Sears space at the Laurier Quebec shopping centre in Quebec City in close to 84,000 square feet over two floors.

Christophe Boucher, Sales and Marketing Manager of the family-owned Groupe Boucher, said the company’s latest venture is an indication that it believes in bricks and mortar retail.

“At Groupe Boucher, we’re always looking for growth. It is our flagship store. With COVID and with all the activities in recent years, we’re strong believers that brick and mortar is far from being dead,” he said.

Sports Experts at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)

“We’ve seen it over and over again that people keep showing up in the mall. It’s just that we have to adapt our offering because things have changed. Yes, there’s the ecommerce and a lot of factors that we have to count. But the one thing is we try to renovate and create new experiences in our stores very frequently. We rarely have a project that we don’t renovate that’s older than 10 years. It almost never happens.

“We do generate a lot of growth through our own stores and with acquisitions throughout the years. We did acquire several stores over time.”

Groupe Boucher, which is based in Quebec City, owns and operates 29 franchises under the Sports Experts, Atmosphere and Entrepôt du Hockey banners. It has 1,000 employees and is the largest franchisee of FGL Sports Ltd., a division of Canadian Tire. Groupe Boucher was established in 1987.

Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)

Boucher said the main floor of the new store is mainly clothing with the second floor featuring shoes and equipment.

The mall, which is located in the heart of Quebec City, is an Ivanhoé Cambridge property.

“It is situated in the most important mall of the City of Quebec. It has a lot of potential and the Sears area of the mall was kind of deserted ever since they left. Ivanhoé Cambridge had a lot of vision to really develop this area and we were a prime player to help them with that,” said Boucher.

“We wanted to show people that brick and mortar is far from being dead and we can still create stores that people get excited about and I think that’s exactly what we delivered. We’re really happy with the reaction of the people so far . . . We’ve been so lucky with the reaction of the customers. Everyone’s comparing us to basically a flagship store that you usually see in a city like New York for example but here we are in the City of Quebec which is not even the biggest city in the province.”

Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)

Boucher said the first glance of the store is breathtaking; an exceptional 40-foot-high glass wall with imposing wooden columns become the visual signature of this flagship store. It stands out by presenting supplier concepts among the biggest brands such as Helly Hansen, Columbia, The North Face, Arc’teryx, Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Oakley, Vans, and more.

Martin Boucher

He said it also features the largest shoe wall in Canada with more than 1,200 sports and outdoor models, a training atrium, as well as a rest area for customers. Traffic spaces have also been redesigned to improve the shopping experience. A cold room to test winter coats is also available for customers, in addition to several other distinctive elements integrated into a revised and dynamic decor, including hundreds of LED images.

“At a pivotal time in retail, we need to innovate and redesign key spaces in shopping centres to offer customers a reinvented shopping experience,” said Martin Boucher, CEO of Groupe Boucher.

“In addition to a completely revamped design, our vision is also to create an omni-channel environment; in particular, there are computer workstations in the customer service area to allow customers to purchase on the website with assistance and several iPads spread throughout the store to use by our employees and customers. In all humility, we believe that this store can become a flagship store, not only for our Group and the Sports Experts banner, but also for the brick and mortar retail trade in this period of significant change.”

Additional Photos from Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec

Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)
Sports Experts / Atmosphère at Laurier Québec (Image: Groupe Boucher)

Article Author

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 National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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