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Ardene Marks 40 Years with 33 Planned Store Openings for 2022 [Interview]

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Montreal-based fashion brand Ardene is launching a new campaign called “That Ardene Energy” celebrating 40 years in Canada and its retail success story over those decades.

The brand currently has a total store footprint of over two million square feet which is more square footage than it has ever operated with 33 new stores either opened or to be opened in Canada this year. Today, it has more than 300 stores in Canada as well as 35 in the US and a dozen in the Middle East.

Kelly Solti

“We’re very excited about it and really proud of everything we’ve accomplished over the past few years and That Ardene Energy is really a celebration. We just celebrated our 40th anniversary, being 40 years in business in the Canadian market,” said Kelly Solti, Ardene’s Head of Marketing.

“As a company we sat around and said hey what has made us who we are today? And we’re a bunch of creative people around here and we really have to thank our customers and we have to thank our employees for everything we have accomplished and it comes from the Ardene energy from all the energies within, externally and internally, so we created a campaign around it.”

Ardene St Hyacinthe (Image: Ardene)
Image: Ardene

So what are some of the key factors behind the retailer’s four decades of success?

“The key question that everybody wants answered,” said Solti. “Really it stems from the fact that we are a very agile company. We’re very open minded. I tell the team here that any idea is a good idea if it’s within budget, brand aligned and we’re able to do it. So as a company I think we’ve really pushed forward on thinking differently and really looking to our customers.

“There’s no secret recipe. It comes down to the people and listening to them.”

Solti said the company has plans to continue to grow its footprint. Part of the plan is to expand the space in some of its existing stores.

“Our strategy has been store consolidation. It’s been our strategy over the past few years and even pre-pandemic of closing smaller square footages and opening up larger stores. Same mall, different location, bigger spaces,” she said.

Image: Ardene

“We started just as accessories and then expanded to footwear, handbags, apparel. So really we’ve become a head to toe destination for Gen Z customers and really because of the breadth of our offering we just realized that we need bigger stores in order to have a better customer experience, brighter stores and just create that head to toe offering for our customers. And with that is bigger stores.”

Also, the retailer opened a new concept store in February in Carrefour Laval.

“We test and try a lot of things at Ardene. It’s probably one of the successes,” said Solti. “At Carrefour Laval, it’s actually a smaller square footage store just because of availability at the time and we actually curate the merchandise. So we’re finding with our customers these days, they want specific outfits, they want to know what top goes with the bottom, so our stylist here at the head office actually handpicks each of the items to put in the store.

“A little bit of a merchandising strategy but really telling the customer this is exactly what you should buy.”

Ardene St Hyacinthe (Image: Ardene)
Image: Ardene

The concept may also find its way to some other locations but Ardene’s goal right now is to move into more bigger square footage stores.

“I’m proud of the company. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. It’s never a moment of not doing anything. We’re constantly moving, grooving, shifting and it’s been a really proud moment,” said Solti, adding the retailer will adapt to the changing customer needs and wants.

The latest campaign geared for the back-to-school season has a clear message: bring authentic energy to everything you do. 

The retailer said the campaign positions itself as an uplifting celebration of friendship, inclusivity, self-expression, and individuality. The bold, bright pink accents and social feel of the campaign are a nod to Ardene’s own brand identity, and the energy stems from its evolution as a company over the years, it said.

@ardene

“The timely campaign comes on the heels of the pandemic as customers re-emerge for in-person shopping and shares a message of positivity and optimism that many are eager to hear. Despite challenges brought on by COVID-19 for close to two and a half years, Ardene has continued to bolster its retail footprint and store design with total store square footage up by 25 per cent from just a few years ago,” said Ardene. 

“And with new investments in ardene.com, the Ardene app, and a refreshed customer rewards program coming soon, the company has continued to develop its omnichannel offering. Today, Ardene reaches over two million people across its social channels, including a 55 per cent jump in followers on TikTok in 2022, where it has caught the attention of its core Gen Z demographic.”

As an engaging layer to the campaign, Ardene said it will launch a custom Instagram filter for followers to use on the social platform. Followers can post a video showcasing their Ardene Energy on Instagram using the “What’s Your Energy” filter and #ThatArdeneEnergy for the chance to win a $1000 shopping spree starting July 27.

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 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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