Michael Rossy Ltd.

mihaelrossy

With locations stretching through five eastern Canadian provinces, Michael Rossy Ltd. is positioned for further expansion of its variety store concept.

By Eric Slack

The Rossy story is all about seizing opportunity and fulfilling dreams. When Syrian-born Salim Rossy immigrated to Canada in 1910, he opened a general store near Saint Laurent Boulevard in Montreal. He had 10 children, and all of them carved out successful careers in Canada’s retail sector. One of his sons, Michael Rossy, opened his first store more than 50 years ago, creating the Michael Rossy Ltd. company and its Rossy chain of stores.

“Today, Rossy is known as your family store and known for great value at great prices,” Store Operations Coordinator Denis Portelance says. “We have grown to 80 stores in the provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and we have more than 1,400 employees.”

Growth Phase

A regional chain of variety stores, Rossy was founded in 1949. Its product offerings are quite diverse, including categories that extend into kitchenware, small appliances, pet products, beauty and health, gifts and toys, bedding, lingerie, furniture, clothing, shoes, groceries, cleaning supplies, stationery and office products, electronics and dishwashers. The company is still very connected to the Rossy family legacy, as President Michel DiTullio is Michael Rossy’s son-in-law and many other family members are heavily involved in the company.

The company has very strong roots in Montreal. In decades past, many Rossy locations in Montreal were situated within close walking distance of one another. That is not as common today, but the organization has put a lot of effort into expanding its footprint in Quebec and beyond.

For example, the first Rossy store in Ontario opened in August 2010. After financial difficulties impacted another Canadian retailer in 2011, eight of its locations in Newfoundland were converted to Rossy stores in 2012.

The company also opened its first Nova Scotia location in Bridgewater in August, with additional locations in the province opening soon after in Yarmouth and Windsor. These three stores are seen as just the beginning for Rossy in the province because the company is looking to open several more Rossy stores in other locations in Nova Scotia within the next couple of years.

In some ways, the company has taken the variety store concept of yesteryear and transformed it for the modern era in smaller communities. Many of its stores are in communities of around 5,000 to 20,000 people. They provide local employment opportunities and offer reasonable prices to markets that often are looking to fill a void caused by the exits of larger department store chains.

Rossy has established its place in the market by making its offerings attractive to a diverse customer base. What has allowed Rossy to make a name for itself within its markets is an understanding that its customers are looking for good products at a fair price.

“Customers shop at Rossy because we are a one-stop shop and we offer a great value,” Portelance says. “We are successful because our managers act like owners to make sure we give the customers the value they expect. We are involved in all of the communities we are in, and we are often the large store in town.”

Future Prospects

As the company looks for ways to expand product offerings and improve service, it is intently listening to the insights of its customers. Rossy’s customers direct the organization’s strategic moves.

“Our staff members in the stores are constantly telling us what is good and what needs to be improved,” Portelance says. “What works in one location might not work in another. We do not take just one approach toward satisfying the customer. We strive to satisfy the customer in each location.”

To help the company improve, it has been making a number of investments into its facilities and overall infrastructure. DiTullio says the company is always looking to improve its systems and processes. The company has closely examined its logistics processes to lower the cost of getting merchandise to the store.

“We also look to source more and more of our product directly from China, lowering the cost of goods and passing that savings to our customers,” DiTullio says. “Additionally, marketing has taken on a big role in our company with online flyers and a very active role in social media.”

Among the initiatives that Rossy is currently focused on is an aggressive approach to opening new stores. The company is actively looking at more than 40 potential store locations, and it is positioned very well for rapid growth. “Aggressive growth will allow us to leverage our fixed costs while helping us to drive down our cost of goods with larger buying power,” DiTullio says.

Although difficulties for the Canadian dollar and an uncertain economic outlook in Canada may present challenges for Rossy in the future, the company is looking closely at costs and its pricing structure. Rossy’s goal is to minimize price increases to the customer while also driving unnecessary expenditures out of the business so it can maintain its current retail prices. In the end, the company is optimistic that it can build off of its long legacy and find opportunities to expand.

“The negative growth in Canada may actually help us to attract new customers,” Portelance says. “People will have less money and will be looking to get more value for the dollars they have. That’s us, as we can provide customers with more value for their dollars.”

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