CANEX roots began in 1954 when the Military incorporated Maple Leaf Services to provide for the welfare, convenience and benefit to the members of the Active Forces, Reserves, civilian employees and their families. Maple Leaf Services was empowered to sell goods and services primarily to enhance the morale, but as well, authorized to raise funds for the betterment of the Military. In 1967 the creation of CANEX was ratified by the Defense Council aligning itself to this same mandate, continually having military influence and oversight.
Today, CANEX operates retail outlets, grocery stores, convenience stores and other commercial operations. Net profits from CANEX operations are returned to CFMWS for morale and welfare programs directly benefiting members, their families and the CAF Community. Sousa says that their priority is maintaining a strong focus on serving the unique needs of CAF members and their families. CANEX is proud of their longstanding partners such as Tim Hortons and The Personal Insurance Company who also share similar principles and are as well, embedded in the CAF community.
Focused on Service
CANEX operations are centered on serving CAF members and their families, and Sousa says to do that, CANEX needs to have its finger on the pulse of the CAF community. One of the most important contributing factors to the affinity CANEX has with CAF is that we understand, better than any of our competitors, the life stages and realities of the CAF members.
“As employees of CFMWS, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are here to support the CAF. Many of our CANEX employees are dependants of military members, have an association to the military in some way, or simply want to give-back,” Sousa says.
With the affinity for CAF members and their families, CANEX considers itself a part of the Canadian military community and works tirelessly to provide them with the best possible customer service. CANEX stores have convenient locations and operating hours, as well as provide an exclusive no-interest credit plan for eligible CAF members.
Sousa says CANEX targets the product mix at its retail locations to merchandise that CAF members and their families need relative to their respective life stage within the military. This also includes an assortment of products that can’t be found at traditional retailers, including their new TACTIX shop-in-shop featuring a collection of military affinity merchandise and programs such as Court Mounting, Pride of Association merchandise, Mess Dress accessories and optional military uniform clothing. “Our aim is to cater to their unique needs while differentiating us from our competitors,” Sousa says.
Strengthening the Bond
A significant way CANEX has found to further its mission is the creation of an e-commerce website, which launches in November 2014. Sousa says that by establishing a multi-platform retail environment and offering a true omni-channel presence, CANEX is further attaining its mandate– providing access to CANEX to the CAF community who currently do not live in the proximity of a CANEX store. To support this new initiative, CANEX has spent a significant amount of time and resources on making sure it has the right IT infrastructure, analytics and KPIs in place. In particular, Sousa says, CANEX has placed priority on having a more robust inventory control system to further assist in achieving a seamless customer experience.
“This has been a considerable undertaking for us which
will have a great impact on our overall business but more importantly will provide options to our CAF Community, ” Sousa says.
Although CANEX may not have the same buying power as big-box retail chains, it counts on the strong support and partnerships it has with its key suppliers. Sousa says CANEX’s plans of expanding operations with its key partners such as Tim Hortons will speak to the value-add we strive to provide the CAF community. We are continually reviewing operational efficiencies at bricks and mortar stores to ensure they’re right-sized and relevant to their respective communities. CANEX will continue to focus on strengthening relationships with Base leadership and being a part of the CAF community to remain a trusted source for them. CANEX – Canada’s Military Store: modernizing to be (more) convenient, competitive and relevant!