Montreal-based kitchenware brand Stokes is reportedly closing roughly 40 of their 147 locations across Canada, making them the latest of several retailers to significantly reduce their number of brick-and-mortar stores in recent weeks.
Back in February, the company announced that it had initiated the process to reposition its business for future growth and profitability by filing a notice of intention to make a proposal to its creditors.
And according to Retail Insider, the impending closure of these locations is simply a result of the restructuring plan that had been put into place before the pandemic even began.
Olivier Benchaya, partner with Richter Advisory Group, the trustee, told Retail Insider that the company was in the process of liquidating the inventory of the 40 stores when they were all forced to close due to lockdown measures in March.
He also said they’re currently in the middle of putting together a post-COVID-19 plan, and that it will likely take another two to three months to finish liquidating the remaining stock from the locations once stores reopen.
Benchaya told the outlet that the 40 locations have been identified and will all permanently close once the liquidation of stock is complete, though the list is not yet publicly available.
The company is just one of many to be facing the changing retail landscape in Canada, with shoppers increasingly turning to online shopping instead of the in-person option. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, though Benchaya did say the company’s online sales have increased amid store closures.
“After many years of solid financial performance, Stokes, like most other retailers, is adapting to fundamental changes in the industry, including how customers shop,” the company wrote in a release in February.
“To better compete in today’s retail environment, Stokes will be reducing its retail footprint in Canada and streamlining its head office operations. The Company will continue investing in its online business which has experienced material growth over the last few years.”
“Stokes will be closing its less profitable stores while maintaining the majority of its retail locations across Canada and its head office operations in Montreal, QC. Once the restructuring is completed, Stokes will continue to employ approximately 1000 Canadians,” the release continued.
“The Company’s management is confident that, through the restructuring process, Stokes will emerge as a healthier and more profitable business, well positioned for long term success to the benefit of all stakeholders.”