Canadian women’s fashion retailer Northern Reflections has appointed three new executives as the company invests towards accelerated growth across ecommerce, stores and omnichannel businesses.
Lalonnie Biggar, President of Northern Reflections, said the retailer is focused on building on its momentum, enhancing its customer experience and further strengthening its market leadership position within the women’s apparel arena.
“It’s a shift for us right now. It’s a shift into growth mode again for Northern Reflections,” she said. “We definitely have our customers shopping in stores and online and when I think about our long-term strategy we’re addressing that shift and the shift in behaviour by ensuring that we can deliver that service to her and these hires all have that operational experience that we need in the company right now to be successful in this shift and build that foundation for this shift.
“We still see in store shopping vitally important but there is this movement online and we want to make it seamless. I think most retailers are trying to get there today. Some are ahead. Some are further behind. This is an important investment for us in skill, talent and experience.”
Northern Reflections has 134 stores across Canada in every province, except Quebec. The first store opened in 1985 in Guelph, Ontario.
The three new executive hires are Carolyn Coles-Devine, SVP Customer Experience & Chief Marketing Officer, Maryann Darling, SVP Planning, Allocation and Logistics and Hanspal Jando, Chief Financial Officer.
“Carolyn, Maryann and Hanspal bring incredible and diverse retail experience and will ensure our strategic vision is brought to life in both our stores and across our digital channels. Each of these leaders along with our existing senior leadership SVP Merchandising, Lisa Wiseman and SVP/Board Advisor, Paula Benetello will play a critical role as we build on our momentum, enhance our customer experience and further strengthen our market leadership position within the women’s apparel arena,” said Biggar.
Coles-Devine is an industry veteran, having previously run the marketing and digital teams at Canada Goose and lululemon. Darling has held leadership roles at Canadian retailers including Holt Renfrew and Club Monaco. Jando’s extensive retail experience includes Indigo and Red Apple Stores Inc.
In March of last year, Northern Reflections completed a corporate and financial restructuring with JAMCO Capital Inc., a leading venture capital firm.
Biggar said the pandemic of the past two years has impacted the company like it has the entire retail industry.
“It did a couple of things for us. Tons of learnings on things we could do differently better which you’re always looking for. Tons of learnings on how our customer was approaching handling shopping when her favourite store wasn’t open for however months and in Ontario of course it was really long,” said Biggar.
“It made us pause in many ways and take a look at all the things that we could do better and differently to help us grow, to maximize both online experience, in-store experience. To try and make it seamless. Everyone uses the word omni in different ways but an omni channel experience across all channels and more channels perhaps that we haven’t even investigated yet because we now have just put the opportunity in place to have this talent in the new hires.”
When it was announced that JAMCO Capital had come in to help the company move forward, Christopher Kape, president of the investment company, said Northern Reflections will be able to get back on track and continue its historical growth trajectory for both bricks and mortar retail and online sales.
“Northern Reflections has been a mainstay in the Canadian retail landscape for decades, and this restructuring event ensures it will continue to bring its much-loved ladies wear to Canadian women across the country for years to come,” he said.
Biggar said the company continues to explore the possibility of more physical locations.
“We’re always looking for that. When I look at priorities for the business, there’s kind of the big three. Marketing for both stores and ecom is a major priority for us. We have a fabulous loyalty program that’s many years old, very mature, and there is such tremendous loyalty from the customers who are on it and we have so much room to grow with new customers both in-stores and online with that program,” she said.
“And the whole piece of logistics, planning and allocation, we have to really look hard at the opportunities for the best use of inventory in what areas both across the country and how much and what you need to have in your distribution centre to be able to service the ecom customer. So huge opportunity in that area for us to get that maximized.
“That whole financial side, really looking at that real estate portfolio. Mapping out areas across the country that we are not represented in and that align with the customers’ needs. The demographics that are in that area. That’s another piece of growth mode. It’s not just ecom and putting all of our attention on ecom. It’s a blend of both.”