Can Le Chateau Save Itself?

Canadian fashion retailer Le Chateau has released its third quarter earnings, and the results are less than impressive. Compared to its third quarter results last year, the company’s overall sales fell from $70.4 million to $63.7 million this quarter. They lost about $3.6 million in total gross sales due to the fact they have been engaged in recent cost cutting measures, but they have lost a total of a whopping $8.9 million since the start of the year! New to their business portfolio is the introduction of their online shopping market, which has held steady growth and will help expand their customer reach.

The brand has had a yo-yo effect with consumers over the past few decades. Seen as a niche shop in the 90’s, ‘Le Crapeau’ was a plaguing nickname because of its association with cheap clothing and was a place where crushed-velvet suits and pacifier necklaces dominated. The company underwent a major transformation in style and substance during the start of 2000’s, that brought the retailer back into relevance  Major renovations to their retail space, better quality and stylish clothing, and affordable price ranges helped re-establish Le Chateau’s reputation as a Canadian fashion destination with a growing list of new consumers walking through the doors.

Then something strange happened. Prices rose significantly, quality remained the same, and casual wear was squeezed out to make way for formal suits and “office wear.”  Le Chateau almost seemed to get a little too snooty for its core customer; like a rich socialite turning up her nose at the wait staff.

The thing with Le Chateau, which sets it apart from some other ‘run of the mill’ retailers, is that we want them to succeed. Its Canadian roots date back to 1959 as a family run business in downtown Montreal, and to date approximately 35% of its garments are produced in their own production facilities in Canada. There is a lot more at stake than just history, with over 3000 employees and 235 stores in Canada it would be a sad day to see the end of Le Chateau. All we know is this: the brand needs a major breath of new life, or this chateau may soon be in foreclosure.

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This jumpsuit worn by John Lennon, in Montreal, after his famous bed-in was designed by Le Chateau at Lennon’s request.
A major renovation like this was supposed to take place at the Toronto Eaton Centre location, but plans may have been scraped due to strained budgets.


1 Comment
  1. I've been perpetually been amazed that Le Chateau has lasted as long as it has, weathering the introduction of H&M and Zara in the past decade. The sad part is that in the past year, they've really been on-point with their accessories, but their apparel has continued to be uninspired, and let's face it- unfashionable for as long as I can remember. Every season looks dated. It'll be an uphill battle!

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