(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Claudel Lingerie Inc., which comprises different chains of retail stores in Canada, as well as several wholesale brands, is focused on expanding the latter operation in the U.S. BODY publisher Nick Monjo interviewed the company’s Anny-Claude Lapierre.
MONJO: Is Claudel Lingerie Inc. the senior entity on the wholesale side of your business?
LAPIERRE: Yes. We also have the following brands: Comfort & Co., Volage, Vanessa, Body & Beach, Midnight Maddie and Claudel.
MONJO: Speaking of your wholesale operations, would it be fair to say you are in the midst of aggressive expansion plans in several areas?
LAPIERRE: Absolutely. In just one year we hired four sales reps that help us cover the entire U.S. territory. We have shipped in over 16 states and are working to cover a greater part of the territory.
MONJO: You mentioned the Comfort & Co. brand has been around for 20 years or so. When did the re-branding start?
LAPIERRE: It started a little over a year ago, when entering the U.S. market at Curve Las Vegas. We quickly realized that the name “Claudel” was going to be difficult to communicate and we had to think of an alternative. Choosing Comfort & Co. as our distributing label seemed like an obvious choice.
MONJO: What categories do you focus on for Comfort & Co.?
LAPIERRE: We focus on sleepwear and robes: it’s been our field of expertise for over 50 years.
MONJO: What are your plans for the Comfort & Co. brand going forward over the next couple of years?
LAPIERRE: Having a defined brand image, develop a transactional wholesale website for easy ordering, tracking and invoicing. We are also planning on opening a distribution center in upstate New York for faster and cost-efficient deliveries.
MONJO: I believe you mentioned the focus will be on specialty stores and independents for the Comfort & Co. brand?
LAPIERRE: Yes. Comfort & Co. will be strictly for independent accounts and better boutiques. Claudel and Midnight Maddie will be for better department stores and Vanessa will be for discount stores.
MONJO: Please explain your other branded initiatives going forward. I know there are several other company brands involved. Can you give a brief description of what they are and what tier or channel of the market to which they are directed? Also what categories of intimate apparel each contain.
LAPIERRE: Claudel: Classic and contemporary. Bodies, prints and colors are designed to perfectly suit the mature client who seeks femininity and comfort at home.
Comfort & Co.: Elegant, casual, fun and lounge. Inspired by today’s fashion trendsl You will feel runway ready at the comfort of your home.
Volage : Québec exclusive house label. Offers a collection for a younger audience with its vibrant colors and bold prints.
MONJO: What is your focus on the private label side?
LAPIERRE: We offer reasonable minimums, flexibility and competitive prices. We focus on developing a collection with a customer, whether its with their own designs, tagging along our current production or simply starting from scratch. We make sure to meet our client’s requirements and ship in a timely manner.
MONJO: What are your areas of expertise in the private label arena?
LAPIERRE: We own and operate a small factory in China. This allows us to manufacture smaller lots and better control of quality and deliveries. We are extremely flexible and can react quickly to our customers needs.
MONJO: You specifically pointed to your robe business, where you want to be known as “the number one reference for robes.” Please elaborate.
LAPIERRE: Every season, we offer a great variety of robes in different styles, colors, prints and fabric. Our basics are our flannel fleece polka dot robe with the solid color coral fleece robes. Both 100% brushed spun polyester with a plush and soft feel, these styles are repeated seasonally and are our clients favorite. When exhibiting in trade show fairs, the cozy robes draw the buyers’ attentions with their rich colors and soft looking feel.
MONJO: Beyond your extensive brand and retail experience, what makes your private label program a good choice?
LAPIERRE: We already manufacture for the Canadian market over 100 new styles per seasons. This gives us a very large bank of prints and ideas available for the American market.
MONJO: You noted your family also has 55 retail stores, all in Canada. Some go under the names Lilianne Lingerie, Intimate Moments and Body & Beach. How many of each are you operating?
LAPIERRE: Correct. Lilianne Lingerie, Intimate Moments and Body & Beach are our three retail store chains. You can find them in all of the important cities across the province of Québec and in Ottawa, Ontario. While Intimate Moments is only a few stores, Lilianne Lingerie counts 45 locations and Body & Beach counts six.
MONJO: Is there a company that controls your retail stores, or is there a variety of companies?
LAPIERRE: The retail and the wholesale division are both operated out of the same location and have the same ownership.
MONJO: Do you have any plans to add new stores to any of these chains?
LAPIERRE: We are always on the look out for new store opening opportunities. We will open shortly a store in Ottawa, Ontario, and we are looking in expanding the market in the Greater Toronto area.
MONJO: Do you have any plans to add retail stores in the U.S. in the near future?
LAPIERRE: No. We are focusing on becoming a national chain in Canada.
MONJO: You were recently in Vegas for a Montreal event. Was there a “number one focus” for that event?
LAPIERRE: Fashion cluster MMODE and Export Québec have been more than amazing to us and the other Montreal designers that were attending the event. Going to Las Vegas with the “Montreal Mission,” we wanted to focus on networking and connecting with the different buyers Export Québec had invited to the trade show. They have helped find some great leads to develop our business furthermore.
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