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Canadian Yoga-Focused Lifestyle Brand Lolë Returns with New Strategy After Shutting Stores in 2020: Interview

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Montreal-based Lolë, an active lifestyle brand, is poised for growth as the retailer rebounds following the closure of 30 stores in May 2020 due to the pandemic.

Nadine Garneau

Recently, it announced a partnership with Tandem West Sales to grow the brand in Western Canada and Lolë is also opening its second store in Canada in the near future in Bromont, Quebec to complement its flagship location on Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal.

Nadine Garneau, VP of Sales at Lolë, said Tandem West Sales will represent the brand in British Columbia and Alberta to meet the growing demand for the company in Western Canada.

“They’re an agency. Basically, Western Canada is a focus for us. The brand was born in Quebec and has always been really well covered in Eastern Canada. We have a great wholesale presence. We have two outstanding reps in Quebec, and we also enjoyed really strong partnerships over the years with accounts like Sports Experts, Hudson’s Bay, Altitude Sports, Simons,” said Garneau.

Exterior of Lolë concept store on Rue Sainte-Catherine. Photo: Lolë
Exterior of Lolë store on Rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal. Photo: Lolë

“The business is well-established here and we decided last year that basically we wanted to invest in Western Canada’s wholesale market and build a presence there. Tandem West Sales have a huge experience in our segment. They understand our consumers. They understand the product and basically share the same values as a company. We’re super excited to have them on board.

“We’re hoping to expand in boutiques, in outdoor active lifestyle stores. To grow and expand and cover that region that’s not being serviced properly right now. We were still servicing it internally but it’s hard when you don’t have a presence specifically there to service the customers in the right way.”

Lolë clothing can be found at more than 1,500 retail outlets around the world, in Lolë Ateliers and online at www.lolelife.com.

Last fall, Lolë announced the appointment of Rob French as the brand’s new vice president of digital omni-commerce. The company said French would be leading efforts in consumer insights, testing supply chain-to-consumer models, improving online customer journeys, sustaining and growing Lolë’s retail brand, and more.

In the fall of 2020, it reopened its store on the iconic Rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of all of its stores in May of 2020.

The retailer had to close its 31 stores (20 stores in Canada from Vancouver to Halifax, seven stores in the US, four stores in France) due to the financial challenges presented by the coronavirus. The company at that time had about 200 employees.

“The world has gone through a challenging time and so has Lolë,” said Todd Steele, CEO, at the time. “Our stores closed across the country and it was a heartbreaking time for our employees and the company overall.

“We’re excited to welcome our customers to a brand new and revamped space that will be safe, stylish and full of the Lolë essentials they’ve missed enjoying in a store environment since lockdown.

Image: Lole

“We closed our stores at the outset of the pandemic. We closed them globally and ultimately we went through a formal restructuring process where we exited the leases of those stores, we sold the assets of the company and re-started the company as Lolë Brands which is the new company name. This Sainte-Catherine opening will be essentially the first reopening of any retail we’ve had since the start of the pandemic.” 

The company was started about 30 years ago.

Garneau said the company’s goal is for increased distribution over the next year across North America.

“In the US, we’re also focused on increasing our distribution in the core and active markets and finding new advocates for our brand. We will also open two to three new retail stores in the next year as well – one in Canada and two in the US,” she said.

“And on the product side, we’re super excited so far with the 2022 line that we’re shipping. The product has been super well received. We’re looking to have more and more product as seasonless items, meaning that we would always have them in stock. This will really allow our wholesale partners to have a better ability to manage the inventory and to provide their customers with those items over and over again.

“The next five years I would say we’re hoping to get the Lolë awareness globally. Right now, the brand awareness is super strong in Canada, growing in the US and thanks to our Quebec roots we have a nice brand awareness also in France, but we would like to grow more in the rest of Europe and when the time is right we’ve also discussed growth in Asia. But before we get there we need to solidify our position here which is our main focus right now.”

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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