Matrix Marketing Partners with Modern Expo for ‘Next Gen’ Retail Fixtures [Interview]

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Burlington, Ontario-based Matrix Marketing Concepts for years has been helping retailers and brands connect with shoppers with the belief that an exceptional retail environment starts with a welcoming and immersive experience and attractive fixtures and visual merchandising.

The full-service store design, fixture, and retail marketing agency has now partnered with Modern Expo, a top company in creating modern retail ecosystems for more than 20 years around the globe, to be the exclusive supplier and distributor of their product in North America.

Chris Fowler, President of Matrix, said Modern Expo is one of Europe’s largest gondola fixture manufacturers and active in 75 countries around the world.

“They have some of the largest retailers on the planet as their customers. These guys are global in terms of their presence. Their product is fantastic. They have multiple lines of business actually – only some of which are things we’re going to engage in at this stage,” said Fowler.

Image: Modern Expo

“The one that we’re really engaged with right now is the fixturing line and that’s grocery, pharmacy, convenience. They have a gorgeous bakery line, they have a stunning line for wine and spirits. That’s the stuff that we’re bringing into North America – Canada, US, Mexico. Things we’re really excited about.

“It really is the next generation of retail fixtures.”

In the past three years, Fowler said, there’s been a gap in the marketplace with availability of product – specifically referring to fixturing, gondola.

Matrix had been working with another company in Europe, trying to find a way to bring their product to North America. When the pandemic hit, it put that company into a bit of a tailspin. Another European partner led Matrix to Modern Expo.

“We’re the exclusive Canadian distributor of a company called HL Display out of Sweden. They have an entire line of shelf management systems. We’re also the exclusive distributor of Siffron product out of the US. The two companies are the leaders in retail management systems,” explained Fowler. 

Image: Modern Expo

“Our partners at HL were the ones that introduced me to Modern Expo and the rationale was we would like to try and identify a new, innovative, modular system to bring to North America. Basically a better mousetrap. If you’re old enough to remember the Oldsmobile ads from years ago, the tag line was ‘this is not your father’s Oldsmobile’. Every time I look at this product it makes me think of that because this isn’t the same stuff that the North American manufacturers have been making since 1952. They haven’t changed it. It’s exactly the same.

“Well, the Modern Expo product is so different. The fit and finish and look and flexibility and innovation behind it, it’s just fantastic. That’s really why we’re so excited. Not only is it fantastic product, fantastic-looking product, there’s so many lines that really can help to integrate a complete solution into a retailer from bakery, wine and spirits, pharmacy, grocery. All the custom work that Matrix already does – custom metal, custom wire and millwork – it’s really a complete solution.”

Fowler said this is the evolution of retail. This is what fixturing is going to look like going forward. The product is so much smarter, it’s just a massive improvement in what we find today in the North American marketplace.

“It’s easy to assemble. All the things that are challenges with the North American system, this stuff outperforms and more, even in terms of weight capacities. They match or exceed all the weight capacities on any of the North American product. All of the different lines of product are so fantastic from a customer’s perspective, a retailer’s perspective. We can do front of store. We can do back of store,” said Fowler.

Image: Modern Expo

He cited the Calgary Co-op grocery chain as an example with its many sectors from grocery to bakery to wine and spirits to pharmacy to convenience and gas. 

“We can do all of it with this line of product,” added Fowler. “That’s a good example of a retailer right there where we could have a line for grocery, a line for convenience, for the bakery.

“It really is an exciting time to be in retail and to be able to help these retailers realize the vision they have and where they could go with their stores now that we have an alternative product in the market to be able to offer them something different.”

Image: Modern Expo
Image: Modern Expo

Matrix began in 1991 and today has clients across North America in the following sectors – grocery, pharmacy, convenience and gas, pets, home improvement, specialty store. It also works with consumer packaged goods companies. 

“All we do is retail. Anything you can think of in the store is what we do. So everything from fixturing, gondola, racking, custom metal, custom millwork. Anything you need in that retail environment is what we do,” said Fowler. “That’s always been our direction. Trying to find a way to help our customers through either design or manufacturing to find a better way to connect with that consumer in the store.

“Where’s the only place where the product, the intent to purchase and the consumer collide? That’s in the store . . . That’s where you want to influence them, engage them. That’s really what we do.”

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. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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