Tite Frette is tapping into Quebec’s burgeoning microbrewing industry with an aggressive plan to establish numerous retail locations across the province.
Founded in 2018, the unique retail shop that specializes in selling only Quebec-made craft beers, wine and cider has grown to 40 locations with a target of adding about 15 more stores this year.
The company’s explosive growth has been facilitated and will be buoyed by its partnership with Square, the global software, payments and hardware solution for businesses of all types and sizes.
“The big difference with our stores is we focus on the artisanal beers – really the craft beer instead of the commercial beer,” said Karl Magnone, Tite Frette’s President and co-founder with Jérémie Poupart. “It’s 100 per cent Quebec and we have all the beers organized by style.
“So instead of coming in and having to try and find what you like, let’s say you like Blondes, they’re all in the same section. Then all of our staff are professionally trained. Kind of like a sommelier of wine but for the beer.”
The company’s name means ‘a cold one.’
“We currently have 26 stores and we’re opening up 30 stores this year and so we’re going to end at approximately 60,” said Magnone. “Within five years we want to reach 150 stores.”
All the stores will be within Quebec but the company is analyzing the retail alcohol laws right now in other provinces to see what possibilities may exist outside La Belle Province.
“I was head of sales for a real estate company and I also was a manager for a coffee franchise company in Quebec. So I had really nice positions that brought me to have a lot of experience within sales, management, crisis management but I really wanted to do something that was unique and that was my project.
“One day I tasted a really unique beer from a craft brewery and I really fell in love with the concept of having beers that were completely different. I started to do research to buy more of these beers and there wasn’t any store that was really specialized across Quebec . . . And when I did some homework I realized there were over 200 microbreweries in Quebec. There’s a huge market but no businesses capitalizing on the retail side.”
Also, the major commercial beer brands monopolized the key areas in a grocery store so no room is left for display of craft beers.
Tite Frette was launched in 2018 and three stores opened that year. The first store was in Magnone’s hometown of Granby.
“We’re in small villages but we’re also in major cities. We’re pretty much everywhere. I’m looking at opening one in the Metro Station. We’re in every possible area that we can reach as many customers as possible. Our core mission is to increase market shares for the breweries and if we want to do that we need to go where the people are. We need to be beside the SAQ. So a lot of our stores are located right beside the government SAQ. People can go get their wine and then their beer,” said Magnone.
Magnone said the increasing popularity of craft beers in recent years is due to a number of factors. The first is pride. Consumers feel a sense of pride in buying a product that is locally made, hand-crafted by passionate individuals.
“I feel like, compared to wine, which is very limited to the grapes that you’re growing, you’re not going to start putting nuts or whipped cream or chocolate inside your wine, but beer you can literally put whatever you want in it. You’re going to ferment the sugars and the sugars and the yeast are going to create a very unique taste profile and you can really have fun with it. Compared to other alcohol, you’re not limited,” he said.
Also, taking our time tasting and savouring craft beer is more popular today. People prefer quality over quantity.
The company started its franchise model last year when it had four stores and all the stores today are franchise owned.
Magnone said the company has been using Square’s tools and services since its inception and that it helped Tite Frette pivot to online sales and home deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic crisis hit, we had to react quickly. We were very glad to have the all-in-one Square system because it allowed us, in a matter of only one week, to go online and to start offering home delivery to our customers. It’s literally what saved us, because if we didn’t have delivery, sales would have plummeted. Customers were able to go directly to the ordering website, and the inventory was directly tied to the inventory of each store, which made payment processing extremely quick and efficient,” he said.
“What really grabbed my attention at first was the Square aesthetic. It was really the most attractive system that suited our store, which has a slightly more luxurious feel than other similar stores.”
Magone went on to say, “We needed a turnkey system that was all-in-one, where we didn’t need to buy different software or equipment. We wanted something that would be simple for both the customer and the guide, as well as for business administration purposes. We really wanted an easy system, and Square was perfect.”
“One of the conditions for choosing our point of sale system was the ability to have a large number of stores, and Square offers us this ability. They have a record with other franchises throughout North America. Square allows us not only to have multiple stores connected to one parent company platform, but it also allows us to control inventory management, sales reports throughout the entire network, and to have a clear view of our stores’ performance in real time.”
“We use practically all the tools Square offers because they’re so efficient. We love the point of sale, the payment system for customers, and Square Register. We also use inventory management to make sure everything is perfect, and we also use Square Team Management for managing employees’ schedules. On top of that, we use the online sales platform and delivery service, and we use the Loyalty app for points to reward our customers.
Magone concluded by saying, “It’s very important for us to reward loyal customers — we want to see how often the customer returns and the number of purchases. Having access to the real-time consumer habits of our customers helps us decide what type of products to offer in the store, what type of products to promote, and what type of product to recommend. It’s beneficial to have all this information, and Square provides it for us.”
To learn more about Square and Tite Frette, visit the Town Square featuring Tite Frette here.
*Retail Insider partnered with Square for this sponsored article.