A national clothing retailer, traditionally associated with industrial apparel, has selected Ottawa as one of three Canadian markets to “refresh” its brand.
The Mark's store on Carling Avenue is one of 12 Ottawa locations that will be rebranded. (Google Street View image)
Calgary-based Mark’s – formerly known as Mark’s Work Wearhouse – is changing its name to reflect its renewed focus on men’s and women’s fashionable apparel and footwear, company officials say.
“It’s a much stronger representation of what our brand has become,” says Wendy Bennison, Mark’s vice-president of store operations. Ms. Bennison was in Ottawa Wednesday to officially launch the company’s rebranded South Keys location.
Part of the changes to the store include the installation of a six-foot by six-foot walk-in freezer – capable of reaching –50 C – where customers can test winter clothing.
Other store features are designed to make customers perceive Mark’s products as “innovative.” Touch-screen monitors explain the technology that goes into, for example, a water-repellent hooded sweater, says Ms. Bennison.
She says Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton were selected as test markets for the rebranding launch because they all have strong clusters of Mark’s stores. Their isolation relative to other markets will allow company officials to better analyze the results of the rebranding exercise, which includes increased marketing efforts, she says.
“We wanted to pick markets where we could speak to those customers exclusively so that we can see what the impact is to our top and bottom lines as a result of the investment of this brand refresh.”
Mark’s total retail sales increased 6.2 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2010, parent company Canadian Tire Corp. reported in early August.
Sales hit $223.2 million, compared to $210.2 million in Q2 2009. Same-store sales increased four per cent, year-over-year.
Despite the company’s new focus on fashion apparel, it was Mark’s traditional products that showed the greatest growth.
Industrial wear sales increased 11.4 per cent, led by men’s industrial footwear. Men’s wear sales climbed 3.3 per cent and women’s wear sales grew 1.1 per cent.
Ms. Bennison says Mark’s industrial customers have remained loyal clients even as Mark’s gradually added casual apparel to its stores over the last decade. She expects them to remain loyal during the brand refresh.
“We’ve always taken care of our industrial customers. As we venture into this next brand extension, we have not left them behind.”
All 12 Mark’s stores in Ottawa will be rebranded. Across the country, the retailer has 378 locations.
Ms. Bennison declined to discuss how much money is being spent on each store, or the overall costs of the initiative.