An unexpected and surprising announcement landed in my inbox on Tuesday morning. She came from the Marie Claire group, a discreet family business that is not used to running after journalists and advertising.
Posted at 6:30 a.m.
It was all the more surprising that the daughter of the founder had contacted The Press just last week to report the death of his father, Réal Lafrance, which occurred at the end of June. We discussed the self-effacing nature of the businessman who nevertheless built one of Quebec’s largest clothing retailers, with its 300 stores.
And now a press release announces the creation of a new store concept in which you can buy a kitchen table, crockery, a lamp, an ottoman, clothes and lingerie. All this in an atmosphere of Scandinavian and Nordic inspiration, with a concern to highlight “timeless”, “sustainable”, “ecological”, “minimalist” and “timeless” products.
We thus hope to attract educated women aged 25 to 35 who make “conscious purchases” and take care of themselves.
His name: Livom.
In August and September, four branches will open in Repentigny, Sherbrooke, Saint-Hyacinthe and Chicoutimi. Another inauguration should take place before the end of the year in Quebec, and Ontario is already in 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 shopping center, despite the enthusiasm for the web.
We are obviously very far from the Marie Claire, San Francisco, Grenier and Claire France brands, which offer affordable clothing for women over 40. Their regulars will agree.
But we are still in continuity. Because the artistic direction and marketing of Livom are provided by Paule Lafrance. The 25-year-old is the granddaughter of Réal Lafrance and her father, Sylvain, is the president of Marie Claire. The interest in retail, a field victim of a host of prejudices, has been transmitted from generation to generation.
Paule also explains to me that she has “always” had an interest in working for the family business, despite an essentially artistic background, with studies in communications, arts, media, cinema and fashion design, even an experience as a “drummer in a metal band”. It first proved itself there with the Dans un Jardin brand, which also belongs to the family. “I design the stores, I choose the formulas, I develop the marketing campaigns and I create the product lines. The family is satisfied with my work and 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 the Marie Claire boutiques is “above all” that of her father Sylvain, admits the co-founder. The manager saw a business opportunity to seize in this desire to improve the comfort and atmosphere of our home exacerbated by the pandemic and teleworking.
The new Livom concept
Bundling clothing, furniture, and decor in one store might seem odd, but other businesses mix categories successfully. Perhaps the best example is Canadian Tire, where you can buy a bike, a coffee maker, windshield wipers, paint, children’s books and laundry soap.
Consider also Simons, which has expanded its homeware offering, Anthropologie, Zara, H&M and Winners, all of which offer dresses alongside tableware.
In Saint-Hubert, Montérégie, a brand new concept called archipel sells – under one gigantic roof – plants, furniture, pets, decorative items, food and lawnmowers. Everything to “live in a very lively house”, we plead. Time will tell if the clientele adopts the idea, which has the merit of surprising.
After all that the retail sector has been through for two years, it is reassuring to see that Quebec companies still want to invest in the creation of new concepts that will improve the local offer. And which will bring novelty to consumers in need of refreshing experiences after a long status quo.
There is also something beautiful in the fact that a family business integrates and listens to a motivated third generation who expresses a vision and values of its time.
Two months after the death of Réal Lafrance, the birth of Livom embodies a commendable desire for sustainability.