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Bakery-café chain looks to double its store count

BY Marianne Wilson

La Madeleine, the country French-inspired bakery-café, is turning to a new growth strategy that includes selling its corporate owned stores to fast track its expansion.

The company, which has more than 80 locations across the country, plans to double its size through a refranchising initiative. In a presentation at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference, Madeleine president John Cahill said the brand will sell entire existing markets of successful la Madeleine restaurants, and is seeking potential buyers such as successful multi-unit operators of other brands as well as existing la Madeleine franchisees who can use the acquisition of the restaurants as a solid base for growth.

"Our new growth strategy is unique because it offers multi-unit operators the opportunity to hit the ground running with whole markets and top-performing stores," said Cahill. "With the staff already in place and positive cash flow from the restaurants, franchisees can start growing the brand right away."

La Madeleine's parent company, Le Duff America Inc., is the Dallas-based subsidiary of Groupe Le Duff, the world leader in the bakery-cafe segment with nearly 1,700 locations across five continents and 80 countries. Its new CEO, Olivier Poirot, announced upon his arrival that his chief focus would be on growing through franchising – following the Groupe Le Duff business model for success.

"With a brand that is as strong as la Madeleine, we have a tremendous opportunity to double its size within the next five years through refranchising," said Poirot.

La Madeleine will continue to operate corporate-owned restaurants in Dallas so it can demonstrate operational excellence to support franchisees. Corporate markets currently offered for refranchising are Houston, Atlanta, Austin, the Washington, D.C. area, and Louisiana.

La Madeleine currently has more than 80 corporate and franchised cafés across Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina.

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Confirmed: Walmart acquires another online retailer

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart continues to grow both its e-commerce and fashion presence.

On Friday, the discounter announced it had acquired the assets and operations of online retailer ModCloth, which specializes in eclectic and quirky apparel and accessories for 18- to 35-year-old women. The company did not reveal the purchase price.

ModCloth is Walmart’s fourth online acquisition since September, when it completed its purchase of Jet.com. In December, the chain bought Shoebuy, and in February it acquired outdoor apparel retailer Moosejaw. Shoebuy, Moosejaw and ModCloth all target younger and more affluent customers than those that make up Walmart’s core audience.

Founded in 2002, ModCloth sells its own vintage-inspired branded merchandise in a full range of sizes, along with a curated selection of styles from hundreds of indie designers. The brand enjoys a strong social media following. The company has made several forays into brick-and-mortar, including pop-up sites along with a permanent store in Austin, Texas.

Similar to the model Walmart has used with its other online acquisitions, the ModCloth team will continue to operate its site and store as a standalone and complementary brand to Walmart’s e-commerce sites. ModCloth CEO Matthew Kaness, his executive team, and the company’s 300-plus employees will continue to be based in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and will join Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce retail organization.

“Designers that sell on ModCloth who are interested in expanding their consumer reach will now have the opportunity to serve more customers through Jet.com and our other e-commerce sites,” Walmart stated.

In a statement on her blog, ModCloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koger said that the acquisition will give ModCloth the resources and support it needs as a business to grow, including in the brick-and-mortar space.

“Growth allows us to reach more women, grow our community, and amplify our message,” Gregg stated. “Our mission to help our customers feel like the best version of themselves continues. And our commitment to inclusivity continues. Our amazing team continues. And we can open more stores — in your hometown!

Click here to read Gregg’s full statement.

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Toy Kingdom, South Korea

BY CSA STAFF
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Toy Kingdom, a specialty toy store concept from Shinsegae — the largest retailer in South Korea — boasts a store environment that is larger than life and highly experiential.

Designed by Chute Gerdeman, the store creates a vibrant and playful world, with a story line presented through a group of friends (imagined characters) that have very different personalities and forms, but all live together in the Toy Kingdom. Each character’s interests relate back to the store’s four primary product categories — imagination toys, ride-on toys, building toys, and smart toys — and bring the spirit of play to life for every child.

The primary design element is a special entrance that allows kids to enter the store through kid-sized tunnels, complete with interactive flooring. Each key zone within the store has a supporting interactive element where kids can play and escape with the brand. These key experiential touchpoints combine physical, analog, and digital elements that reinforce the immersive and transportive quality of the space.

Photo opportunities are strategically placed throughout the store to encourage word of mouth marketing as parents snap photos of their kids and share on social media.

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