Retail Innovation and Pop-Up House BRIKA Acquired by Experiential Commerce Agency: Interview

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Retail innovation and pop-up house BRIKA, based in Toronto, has been acquired by SALT XC, a leading experiential commerce agency, and the two agencies will leverage their combined strength to bring brands across North America an innovative new approach to retail marketing and consumer experiences. 

“BRIKA joining the SALT XC family is a perfect combination for brands looking for the most unique and effective ways to connect directly with consumers in this reshaped retail world we find ourselves in,” said BRIKA founder Jen Lee Koss. “BRIKA and SALT XC have already built a strong presence in the U.S. and Canada, and our combined strength will give brands across North America the next-level tools to bring consumers into their orbit.

“The kinds of consumer experiences we deliver are no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ for brands, they are now essential parts of any engagement strategy,” added Koss, who will remain an active partner to help continue to drive growth at BRIKA.

BRIKA was founded in 2012.

Image: BRIKA

“We are a retail agency and we work with on the one side property developers and on the other side brands creating experiential retail environments and we’ve really been doing that over the past 10 years. We made some pivots along the way but we started as an online marketplace working with these brands and then we started at the same time doing pop ups in real life environments and soon realized the omni-channel world was here to stay. I think we never gave up on a real life environment despite the fact there’s so much ecommerce growth out there,” said Koss.

“No one’s going to stop shopping in a store or in a store environment. I think we’re really doubled down on that and continue to believe in that. It’s been exciting to see. We were doing things maybe at a time where it may not have been so common, pop ups at the time, back 10 years ago. We started to sort of create a space and pioneer what that meant to do that for brands and then to do it also for property developers.”

Koss said one of the first property owners BRIKA worked with was Oxford Properties in Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The company also worked with The Bay to create its first pop up. 

Jeff Rogers

Since 2012, BRIKA has established itself as a key player across the retail landscape in North America executing over 100 pop-up locations for major property developers and direct-to-consumer brands across the US and Canada. Current executions have included Toronto; Aspen, Colorado; Hudson Valley, NY and Bentonville, Arkansas. BRIKA consults on retail innovation, curates themed collections for brands, and develops branded product lines and white-labeled shop concepts. They are known for incorporating and partnering with local vendors and multi-national brands in unique curated environments.

“Bringing our two companies together creates a powerhouse between us, delivering unparalleled offerings in new forms of experiential commerce,” said Jeff Rogers, President of SALT XC. “As brands continue to grow rapidly online, they are also realizing the critical need to connect with consumers in the real world as well.  Our branded BRIKA locations, combined with brand specific pop-ups, will allow for reduced cost and risk for brand owners to round out their omnichannel efforts.”

Jennifer Lee Koss

Established just over two years ago, SALT XC has pioneered the concept of experiential commerce – a unique data driven framework for designing memorable moments that earn attention and drive action – delivering results for the likes of ABI, RBC, Xbox, Kraft-Heinz, Coca-Cola and Pointsbet. With offices in Toronto, Chicago and LA, the company is poised for significant new growth on both sides of the border.

Koss said SALT XC is an agency she has gotten to know over time. Two years ago, she met the people who were spearheading the agency. 

“In that conversation and in subsequent conversations, I think we really understood that we would make a great match. They really believed in this idea of experiential commerce. Their backgrounds were at Mosaic which was one of the world’s largest marketing agencies,” said Koss. “They had said they wanted to build a new agency again from scratch.

“Fast forward two years later, they have 150 plus employees. Their brand roster includes Microsoft, Xbox and RBC, Labatts. I think they have really built something formidable already and I love the idea of what they were saying which is how do you really capture a brand’s attention by allowing these brands to do experiential but also have commerce attached to it.

“Because we’ve been operating retail environments from soup to nuts, we have that experience and we have that experience doing it as more of a boutique agency. They basically acquired our entire company including some of our staff and they are keeping the brand, which is fantastic. We believe it’s a great brand and we are sort of growing off the back of something that is like a rocket ship. It’s kind of an exciting time to be doing things in the experiential commerce space or in the real life retail environment.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
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 News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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