Local retailers unaffected by buy-out

Bryan Passifiume
ECA Review Reporter

Local franchise owners are confident that the purchase of their parent company won’t result in serious changes for their businesses.
On Sunday, November 11, furniture retailer Leon’s announced that it intended to purchase competitor The Brick for $700 million dollars. The sale, according to executives, was a cost-cutting move designed to increase competitiveness in an increasingly cut throat retail environment.
Bryan Repetski, owner of The Brick franchises in Hanna and Drumheller, is confident that the move won’t have an immediate impact on his business.
“At this point, it’s business as usual,” Repetski told the Review.

Repetski’s father-in-law founded Custom Audio in Hanna over 20 years ago, which eventually became a Brick franchise in 2001 in order to take advantage of the chain’s pricing, branding and advertising resources. The move, according to Repetski, was intended to bring a more consistent pricing and merchandising model to local consumers.
Leon’s has announced that both Leon’s and The Brick brands will continue to operate as separate units.
In a conference call with franchisees and retail store managers, The Brick’s president and CEO Vi Konkle assured store owners that operations will continue as before. There are no plans to close stores or reduce staff.
“For me, the biggest concern is supply,” said Repetski, who was assured that he won’t be facing any major changes in his supply chain, warehousing and distribution channels.  “I don’t know if there will be changes two or three years down the road, but we’ll play it by ear.”
The Canadian retail market has become more diversified over the past decade, saturated with foreign competition and patronized by less confident consumers. The growing popularity of foreign retailers expanding into Canada, including Target’s recent assimilation of Zeller’s, is putting pressure on the few remaining Canadian-grown retailers to remain competitive.
While Repetski’s store will continue as before, he is keeping a wary eye on the future.
“Being a franchise owner, our concern is the local market,” Repetski said. “At this point, it’s too early to say if it’s going to be positive or not, but the fact we get to carry on with business as usual is the biggest plus.”

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