Unity Brands Takes a Bold Step and Acquires Casca Footwear to Expand Canadian Portfolio [Interview]

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Just weeks after purchasing retailer Kit and Ace, Unity Brands has now acquired Vancouver-based Casca Footwear.

Under the leadership of David Lui (CEO, Kit and Ace), Joe Mimran (Founder, Club Monaco and Joe Fresh), and Frank Rocchetti (with experience at Tilley, Loblaws), Unity is assembling a portfolio of what they call “outstanding Canadian apparel brands devoted to quality and excellence.”

Joseph Mimran

Mimran said Unity was interested in the retailer because of the amount of good branding it has done “and really an assortment that I think just needs more exposure.”

“I think that what’s been missing – to get more exposure. We’ve got such a nice foundation of customers that I think this fits perfectly with that psychographic. When you can offer a head to toe solution, I think it’s a value add,” said Mimran.

“The design sensibility is very much the Kit and Ace sensibility which is the other reason we think it’s going to be very synergistic. This is a very difficult business, the footwear business and so you don’t want to just try and tackle it on your own. (Founder Braden Parker) has done a lot of the heavy lifting and we’re going to be the beneficiaries of that heavy lifting.”

Volvo Cars Canada and Casca Footwear take steps toward a sustainable future with an inspired shoe (CNW Group/Volvo Car Canada Ltd.)
David Lui

Lui said what really attracted him to the brand is actually putting the product on his feet.

“And walking with it, working with it, kicking the tires with it, and how comfortable they are. It was a turning point for me. So not only does it look great, it feels great and it wears well. That to me was a selling point and I see a tremendous opportunity to take the designs, to add a little bit more on the assortment size.”

Two roommates, Braden Parker and Kevin Reid, established Casca in 2017 out of a Kitsilano basement suite. Their vision revolved around crafting footwear that flawlessly fused functionality, comfort, and style. The brand’s dedication to promoting a holistic lifestyle through ergonomic design and high-quality materials resulted in a dedicated customer base.

“It really came from the idea of wanting to create perfect footwear that could really honestly put up with the demands we have in the Pacific Northwest,” said Parker. “We wanted a pair of shoes that could support us all day, that was really comfortable and also was really versatile that you could dress up, dress down. That was kind of the original genesis of the brand.”

Braden Parker and Kevin Reid

Today, the brand has one physical retail space in Vancouver but the retailer is primarily online. 

Parker, who will not be continuing in any role with the company, said the purchase of the brand will provide Casca the resources to take it to the next level.

“The expertise that Joe and David and Frank and Unity Brands have to really grow our presence, grow the product line, and get our shoes on more people’s feet, is really exciting and going to take Casca to the next level of growth,” said Parker. 

This strategic acquisition is Unity Brand’s newest addition to their portfolio. In mid-2023, the company acquired the elevated essentials brand Kit and Ace. This acquisition marks a significant milestone for Unity Brands as they embark on a journey to amplify Casca’s mission of promoting wellness and an active lifestyle on a global scale.

“We do like the idea of trying to bring a few more brands into the fold. That is kind of how we’re looking at Unity Brands and the opportunity that Unity Brands has to offer is going to be a little bit of synergy as we look at other opportunities,” said Mimran.

Casca (Image: Neil Barbisan)

“We love the Canadian aspect of it. We think being Canadian-centric and Canadian-focused is one thing that I personally like. Trying to support Canadian talent is something that I think we should try and do wherever possible. I’ve always built brands from Canada and I’ve always believed in our own capabilities here in this country. I think that’s one of the things we’re looking for.

“The other thing is sort of birds of a feather where we can get product and brands that feel right together as a basket of brands I think is good. And also where we can get true synergies. There’s no reason to buy a brand where there’s no synergy at all. That’s really not something we’re looking to do.”

As Unity Brands look to Casca’s future, they aim to expand the company into new markets and grow its product offering.

“We will look at growth in online, wholesale distribution to retailers in North America, and it could also include abroad, offer them in Kit and Ace stores and online.  More plans to be developed,” added Lui.

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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