An unexpected and surprising announcement landed in my inbox on Tuesday morning. He came from the Marie Claire group, a discreet family business not used to running after journalists and publicity.
Posted at 6:30 am
It was even more surprising that the founder’s daughter had contacted Press last week to report the death of his father, Réal Lafrance, in late June. We discuss the unassuming nature of the entrepreneur who nonetheless built one of Quebec’s largest clothing retailers, with 300 of his own stores.
And now a press release announces the creation of a new store concept where you can buy a kitchen table, crockery, a lamp, a pouf, clothes and lingerie. All this in a Scandinavian and Nordic-inspired environment, with a concern to highlight “timeless”, “sustainable”, “ecological”, “minimalist” and “timeless” products.
Thus, we hope to attract educated women between the ages of 25 and 35 who make “conscious purchases” and take care of themselves.
His name: Livom.
Four branches will open in August and September in Repentigny, Sherbrooke, Saint-Hyacinthe and Chicoutimi. Another opening should take place before the end of the year in Quebec, and Ontario is already on the game plan for 2023. Purchases can also be made online.
In short, we still believe in the good old concept of a store in a mall, despite the enthusiasm for the web.
Obviously, we are a long way from the Marie Claire, San Francisco, Grenier and Claire France brands, which offer affordable clothing for women over 40. Your regular customers will agree.
But we continue in continuity. Because the artistic direction and marketing of Livom is carried out by Paule Lafrance. The 25-year-old is the granddaughter of Réal Lafrance and her father, Sylvain, is the president of Marie Claire. Interest in retail, a field subject to many prejudices, has been passed down from generation to generation.
Paule also explains to me that he has “always” been interested in working for the family business, despite an essentially artistic background, with studies in communications, arts, media, film and fashion design, including experience as a “drummer in a band of metal”. He first showed himself there with the Dans un Jardin brand, which also belongs to the family. “I design the stores, choose the formulas, develop the marketing campaigns and create the product lines. The family is satisfied with my work and they told me that I was the ideal candidate to take care of Livom. »
The idea of creating a concept that has nothing to do with Marie Claire boutiques is “mostly” from her father Sylvain, admits the co-founder. The leader saw a business opportunity to take advantage of in that desire to improve the comfort and environment of our home, exacerbated by the pandemic and teleworking.
The new Livom concept
Combining clothing, furniture, and décor in one store may seem strange, but other companies successfully combine categories. Perhaps the best example is Canadian Tire, where you can buy a bicycle, a coffee maker, windshield wipers, paint, children’s books and laundry soap.
Also consider Simons, which has expanded its homeware offerings, Anthropologie, Zara, H&M and Winners, all of which offer dresses along with dinnerware.
In Saint-Hubert, Montérégie, a new concept called archipel sells, under one gigantic roof, plants, furniture, pets, decorative items, food and lawnmowers. All to “live in a very lively house”, we beg. Time will tell if the clientele adopts the idea, which has the merit of surprising.
After all that retail has been through for two years, it’s reassuring to see that Quebec businesses still want to invest in creating new concepts that will enhance the local offering. And that it will bring novelty to consumers who need refreshing experiences after a long status quo.
There is something beautiful, too, in the fact that a family business integrates and listens to a motivated third generation that expresses a vision and values of its time.
Two months after the death of Réal Lafrance, the birth of Livom embodies a laudable desire for sustainability.
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