Despite the impacts of COVID-19, La Maison Simons is staying the course and plans to have hired “between 200 and 300 permanent workers” in 2020, mainly at its new distribution center. At three months before Christmas, the retailer is also preparing for a holiday season when it will probably “flatten the curve” of Christmas shopping.
Manhandled like the majority of other businesses during the first months of the pandemic, Simons was not however forced to permanently close one of its 15 stores to ensure its financial health.
It is also a CEO a little more relieved, even if there are still gray clouds on the horizon, who agreed to give an interview to the Journal.
“It's going a lot better, but we still have challenges ahead of us. However, I see a light at the end of the tunnel ”, confided Peter Simons, not hiding having started an analysis of its business model, among other things, for its products sold and the evolution of its stores in relation to the increase. online sales.
In August, the big boss sent a letter to his suppliers and partners to inform them that he had returned to profitability.
New distribution center
For the past four weeks, Simons has also gone on the offensive to find new talent. It must be said that the group's new distribution center, at the cutting edge of technology in the Chauveau Innovation Space in Quebec City, has started some of its activities.
However, it will still be necessary to wait until spring 2021 before it is fully operational, notes the management, which is currently looking for web customer service advisors, clerks, security representatives, a supervisor and a coordinator. logistics.
The retailer also plans to achieve a second wave of hires in November to meet its temporary needs for the holiday season. Several hundred positions will still have to be filled.
At its new distribution center, Simons currently has more or less 500 workers. Management hopes to have around 800 by the end of the year. By comparison, an average of 400 to 500 people worked in the group's old facilities.
A different Christmas
Although there are still three months before Christmas, a very important period for retailers, the management of the chain has already started talks with parcel delivery companies to better secure its online business. For stores, she hopes consumers will start shopping earlier this year.
“You have to realize that it will not be a Christmas like before. I don't think we're all going to go to the mall on December 22. We will try to guide people to think about it a little earlier, ”emphasizes Mr. Simons.
“There will be a lot of pressure on Canada Post. We are working with several partners to try to flatten the Christmas curve, ”adds the CEO, with a touch of humor.
As for the issue of online sales, even after confinement, Mr. Simons says his numbers continue to climb compared to 2019. He says he currently has the results he expected to achieve in 2025-2026.
The retailer better prepared for the second wave
While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future of retail due to the impacts of the pandemic, Simons CEO Peter Simons has no plans to give up.
In this more difficult period, we must remain “alert”, “agile” and “stay in the present moment”, he advises.
How is the situation in your stores?
“Hours are always reduced. I won't hide the fact that traffic is coming back slowly, but it's not like before the pandemic, especially for downtown areas. We still have a great challenge to overcome. Not all people are back in the office. ”
Are you ready for the second wave of the pandemic?
“We try to prepare as best we can. It is still enormous external shocks. It is all a question of the degree of containment.
Being prepared means being able to understand, in particular, how we will meet the needs of online commerce. Yes, you need a cushion of liquidity, as long as you can. You have to stay alert and agile to adapt to circumstances. ”
Thanks to a recent partnership with LXRandCO and VSP Consignment, La Maison Simons now sells second-hand luxury goods on the web and in select stores. Why?
“We are exploring different partnership possibilities for vintage products. This aligns with our vision, and it is complementary to what we are already doing in e-commerce. We are happy with the preliminary results. ”