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Avril Supermarche Sante

It's big. It's innovative. It's beautiful. "It" is the third – and newest – Avril Supermarche, which opened October 10 to much fanfare and support from family and industry colleagues in the Montreal suburb of Brossard."..."

It's big. It's innovative. It's beautiful. "It" is the third – and newest – Avril Supermarche, which opened October 10 to much fanfare and support from family and industry colleagues in the Montreal suburb of Brossard.

With its soaring ceiling and a six-million dollar price tag, the 20,000 sq. ft. natural health super store has it all – a full-service café that seats 60, a team of in-house practitioners, fresh produce, an estimated 20,000 supplement, grocery and HABA SKUs (with a special focus on local Quebec-made products) and many unique design elements.

Avril also has a number of eco-friendly features, including radiant floors, heat recovery from its many coolers and LED lighting. Avril Brossard is the latest retail undertaking by Sylvie Senay and Rolland Tanguay, who opened their first health food store, Panier Sante, in a Granby, QC, plaza in 1995. In 1998, they re-located Panier Sante – renamed Avril – to a 16,000 sq.ft. space on the main street of Granby and in the process created one of the most striking natural health stores in the country. In 2007, Sylvie and Rolland took their brand of natural retailing to a new city when they opened the second Avril in Longueuil, QC.

CNHR recently conducted a Q and A with Sylvie and Rolland about their new superstore.

Why did you select Brossard and specifically the unique Quartier Dix30 shopping centre?

With Brossard, we cover the South Shore. The Quartier Dix30 is currently a destination of choice for consumers. At the crossroads of two major roads, Quartier Dix30 is a is booming, with both commercial and residential buildings.

How long have you been planning this new location?

When we chose the site for our store in Longueuil, we thought about the Quartier Dix30, too. But for various reasons, we chose Longueuil in 2007. So, we had already planned at that time that the next would be in Quartier Dix30 in Brossard.

How did you develop the unique look and structure of the new Avril?

With Longueuil, we created the concept that we have improved on with Brossard. The construction of the building was made to the image of the Longueuil Avril. This is the first building where we display our colors both outside and inside. Two departments have been completely re-designed and improved – cosmetics and the bistro. We made use of specialized architects for each of these sections. We wanted to give an identity to the natural and organic cosmetics. In the words of many, this is the most beautiful section of cosmetics in Canada. For the bistro, we also used a designer specializing in the restoration. Our Italian style design is very trendy. In addition, we have hired two young chefs to design menus and to develop ready-to-eat in-house brand.

How much did you learn from creating the store in 2007 and borrow from that experience?

We learned having the right people is key to providing customer service and an unparalleled shopping experience for our customers.

How did you go about recruiting the right kind of staff to work in such a specialized store?

We used the newspapers, our website and we had references of people from the industry.

How many new staff members have industry experience, either from one of your other two stores or from within the industry?

Approximately eight people of the 40 new jobs created were experienced in our industry.

Do you ever have time to take a vacation?

We skipped 2010, but we are scheduled for spring 2011.

Do you think your neighbours, the Montreal Canadiens, have a chance to win the Stanley Cup this year?

Boiron Oscillococcinum partners with the Canadiens, so they should not be affected by cold viruses and influenza. Most of the Canadiens live closeby, as their training center is at the Quartier Dix 30, just next to our store. We've had visits from several of them. They thus have the chance to stock up with good organic and natural foods, good for their health and to use good additional food to improve their energy and performance. So, yes, this year more than ever, they will win the Stanley Cup.

With this new store, what type of clientele are you targeting? Are you after the existing natural health food customer or are you trying to attract a whole new breed of shopper, one who is not familiar with natural health?

We seek a broad customer base. Our type of store was designed to attract everybody, not just followers of natural products, but also the Epicureans, those who take care of their health, those who like shopping in a beautiful environment, those seeking a new shopping experience. We want to attract followers and attract new consumers. That is what we have strived to do for the past several years. With our newsletter filled with information, we reach a very large number of consumers. We also use our website and explore new media like Facebook and Twitter.

How did you support the new store's opening with advertising and promotion?

We have allocated a budget of $200,000 for the opening of Brossard. We have engaged a firm of media relations. Several press releases were sent to various newspapers and news media-like blogs. Several journalists have come in the store. We also bought pages in a major newspaper where we announced daily specials for 30 days. •


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