TORONTO — One day can make a difference.
Like for Rituels.ca founder Michael Carpentier, who, thanks to a single blog entry he posted one wintry Quebec evening in January, saw the course of his men’s shaving and grooming brand change.
“I published my article at night. By 10 a.m. the next day, someone from Simons was calling to say Peter Simons wanted to see me,” said Carpentier, who launched Rituels.ca in 2011, followed by its Quebec City storefront in 2015, to fill a gap in the local market for upscale, artisanal shaving and grooming products, as well as durable accessories that could better serve today’s 20- to 45-year-old man.
The chief executive officer of La Maison Simons stumbled upon Carpentier’s blog that same evening and was struck by his “well-organized” suggestion that the 178-year-old company integrate growing e-retailers like Rituels.ca into its digital development strategy.
Simons was in the midst of building an e-commerce accelerator for small business, slated to launch in fall 2018, that could help artisans and small businesses manage their growth by giving them access to Simons’ logistical and entrepreneurial capabilities.
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“I called Michael up, invited him to a meeting, and that’s when I started to see how aligned we were in our way of thinking,” said Simons.
“The truth is, Rituels had hit a wall,” Carpentier told WWD — a fact he openly shared with Simons and his accelerator team in that first meeting. “Online we were growing 40 percent year after year. But that growth meant buying a bigger warehouse and dealing with logistics that were overwhelming. Small businesses run into this problem all the time. But trying to make your way through all this is hard if you don’t know retail. Simons, however, knows retails and the logistics of it in today’s world.”
Six months later, Simons acquired Rituels, which marked the first transaction of its kind for the privately owned family business based in Quebec City.
“Michael will run Rituels,” said Simons. “We’ll leverage the e-commerce end of the business and give Rituels an omnichannel to explore as it grows and as we share customers.”
The deal marks the arrival of men’s grooming and shaving products on Simons’ store shelves, giving the retailer the opportunity to broaden its range of men’s merchandise just as analysts predict global sales of grooming goods will exceed $60 billion by 2020.
“Men today are more focused on grooming in this selfie generation. So we will carry an assortment of Rituels’ products on our web site and integrate these items into our stores before Christmas,” said Simons, whose company operates 15 stores across Canada, with plans to boost that count to 17 by 2019.
Carpentier and Simons will collaborate on future launches, including the 2019 rollout of an upscale product line for men and women, which will be 100 percent natural and fragrance-free.
Finally, the pair will invest in skin-care innovation and the design of products and tools to enhance the shaving experience.
“Today, men come to Rituels because they want something different than what is in the drugstore. Peter understood that and my desire to create a space where men could feel comfortable, get educated and have access to affordable luxury product that is truly all-natural,” said Carpentier, whose Quebec City store will remain operational as he oversees Rituels’ marketing strategy from his new office in Simons’ warehouse.