‘Trend doesn’t cease at purses’: Montreal retailer Bentley eyes post-pandemic comeback

‘Trend doesn’t cease at purses’: Montreal retailer Bentley eyes post-pandemic comeback

A baggage and bag retailer isn’t precisely high of thoughts throughout lockdowns.

‘Trend doesn’t cease at purses’: Montreal retailer Bentley eyes post-pandemic comeback

So Bentley & Co. Ltd. quietly tightened operations and positioned itself for a post-pandemic comeback.

The retailer’s predecessor, Bentley Leathers Inc., filed for chapter safety in late 2019. It then started slicing its retailer rely, overhauling its on-line platform, upgrading its warehouse and distribution community and slashing the manufacturers and kinds it sells.

The result’s a extra curated, much less cluttered procuring expertise that blends timeless baggage kinds with new candy-coloured suitcases and vegan purses, the corporate stated.

“Trend doesn’t cease at purses,” Bentley president Walter Lamothe stated in an interview. “Baggage might be helpful and dependable — however it could possibly additionally look good and be reasonably priced.”

The corporate’s streamlined operations and contemporary new look look like paying off.

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As journey rebounded and airways struggled with misplaced and delayed luggage this fall, the Canadian baggage stalwart stepped as much as assist distressed travellers.

Its backpacks have been ready when colleges reopened and its purses and equipment have been prepared as workplace work and social outings returned.

Now the Montreal-based firm plans to take its new idea outdoors of Canada.

Bentley is plotting a global enlargement that may faucet into an underserved market that hovers between high-end luxurious and large field shops.

“We’ve not seen an reasonably priced, approachable model that curates journey the way in which we now have a imaginative and prescient for it,” Lamothe stated.

“There are high-end and low-end shops and wholesalers however you don’t have a retailer within the center.”

Gross sales within the baggage and luggage class have ballooned by greater than 20 per cent this 12 months as of the top of September, in response to the J.C. Williams Group Nationwide Retail Bulletin and Statistics Canada.

That comes after gross sales jumped 34 per cent over the identical time span in 2021 and dropped 27.5 per cent for a similar interval of 2020.

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“It speaks to the truth that individuals are travelling once more,” stated Lisa Hutcheson, managing associate at retail consulting agency J.C. Williams Group. “There’s a notable resurgence in smaller carry-on baggage particularly as extra individuals are making an attempt to not test baggage.”

Bentley has large plans to fulfill the anticipated gross sales progress within the coming years.

To take its new look outdoors of Canada, Bentley is in talks with wholesalers to doubtlessly begin promoting its non-public manufacturers by means of different shops by 2024, with the purpose of opening a number of shops within the U.S. and Europe shortly after.

“We’ve some potential companions we’re in dialog with, and the precise boots on the bottom could also be 2025 for the standalone shops,” Lamothe stated. “However something can occur, it depends upon how profitable we’re.”

Click to play video: 'Pantone Colour of the Year'

Pantone Color of the 12 months

Exterior of Canada, the shops shall be known as Tracker.

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“Bentley is landlocked,” Lamothe stated of the corporate’s retailer identify in Canada, noting that different firms _ equivalent to Bentley Motors Ltd. _ personal the Bentley trademark outdoors the nation.

The Tracker shops will give attention to journey baggage and equipment, opening in airports to start out.

The primary Tracker retailer was launched within the Montreal airport final 12 months, which contains a merchandising machine outdoors the shop with small journey equipment.

“We truly took a chip machine and turned it into an adjunct vendor,” Lamothe stated. “We’re fairly impressed it’s promoting as a lot as it’s given the shop is just a few ft away.”

Extra Tracker merchandising machines are deliberate for airports and practice stations within the new 12 months, whereas a second Tracker retailer is slated to open in Quebec Metropolis in early 2023 as a check website near the corporate’s Montreal head workplace.

“We wish to fine-tune the idea earlier than we develop internationally,” Lamothe stated.

Whereas journey is the main focus of the corporate’s worldwide enlargement, its Canadian shops will provide a wider choice.

Its imaginative and prescient is trendy, high-quality merchandise at reasonably priced costs with a spread of colors.

“Baggage continues to be principally black and burgundy,” Lamothe stated. “If you happen to stroll into our shops, we’re utilizing the most recent Pantone colors.”

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A wall of suitcases in a newly renovated Bentley retailer nonetheless has numerous shades of black and burgundy to swimsuit the extra conventional traveller. There are even variations on basic selections in hues like plum and charcoal.

But the shop additionally has vivid colors with cheerful names like peach, mint and raspberry and the season’s extra refined shades like sage, mauve and teal.

Some girls ditched shoulder luggage and purses throughout the pandemic in favour of extra snug backpacks.

However Bentley is betting purses will proceed to be a preferred selection.

“The demise of purses could be drastically exaggerated,” Lamothe stated. “The backpack is without doubt one of the staples now for positive, it’s a continuing in all our collections … However if you happen to have a look at what girls need, there’ll by no means be sufficient purses it appears.”

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To supply extra choice and adapt to the issues of some shoppers, the corporate launched a brand new line of vegan merchandise final 12 months underneath the model Riona. It offers shoppers a non-leather choice that’s 30 per cent cheaper than the competitors, Bentley stated.

Bentley has additionally up to date its basic Pelle model of leather-based luggage with RFID know-how, a technique of radio frequency that helps forestall fraud and id theft.

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It’s additionally upping its guarantee. By the autumn of 2023, all backpacks and purses from its 4 pillar manufacturers _ Bentley, Tracker, Pelle and Riona _ shall be assured in opposition to manufacturing defects for all times whereas its baggage shall be assured for 10 years.

“It’s about style, enjoyable and understanding that it’s not going to crumble on you whilst you’re on trip,” Lamothe stated. “Baggage might be helpful, reasonably priced, dependable and look good.”

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