Harry Rosen suits up for bat­tle with com­peti­tors

Menswear chain ready to face ri­vals from U.S.

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - JANET WIL­SON zine.

Cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of busi­ness and with an­nual sales of $300 mil­lion, Harry Rosen has much to cheer about th­ese days.

Since Harry Rosen and his brother Lou opened their first store in Toronto in 1954, the re­tailer has built a rep­u­ta­tion syn­ony­mous with style and ser­vice.

With 17 stores in seven ma­jor Cana­dian mar­kets and 1,000 em­ploy­ees, the com­pany of­fers cus­tomers some of the world’s lead­ing brands. It has weath­ered economic up­heaval over the years by fol­low­ing a mostly con­ser­va­tive path and shy­ing away from ex­pand­ing into the U.S. or abroad.

The for­mula is a win­ning one, given that it has cor­nered more than 40 per cent of the high-end menswear mar­ket in Canada.

This spring, the Re­tail Coun­cil of Canada rec­og­nized Larry Rosen — the old­est of founder Harry Rosen’s four chil­dren — as the Dis­tin­guished Re­tailer of the Year, and the store was named one of the 10 most in­flu­en­tial menswear stores in North Amer­ica by MR, a lead­ing menswear in­dus­try mag­a­zine.

All of this adds to the festive at­mos­phere as the com­pany em­barks on an am­bi­tious $100-mil­lion cap­i­tal ex­pan­sion pro­gram — the most ag­gres­sive in its his­tory — to up­date tired stores and un­veil new flag­ship stores.

There was a new ad campaign in the spring, a beefed-up on­line plan to grow sales to five times the cur­rent busi­ness, and more in­vest­ment in de­signer duds from top brands such as Dolce & Gab­bana, Ver­sace, Etro, Zegna, Ralph Lau­ren and Brunello Cucinelli.

“Our clients are the lead­ers of the coun­try. Our com­pe­ti­tion is the best stores in the world. It’s in­ter­na­tional and we aren’t afraid of that,” says Larry Rosen, 58.

“This is a mile­stone year for us,” Rosen says. “As we cel­e­brate the past, we are fo­cus­ing on the future and get­ting ready for the Amer­i­can in­va­sion.

“With Saks and Nord­strom mov­ing into Canada, we’re at cen­tre court in all the same mar­kets. We’ve ac­cel­er­ated our ex­pan­sion pro­gram be­cause of this. Ev­ery­where they go, we’re up­grad­ing and open­ing be­fore them.”

Larry worked in his fa­ther’s stores through­out high school. When the com­pany started ex­pand­ing across the coun­try in the 1980s, he left his ca­reer as a cor­po­rate lawyer to join the fam­ily busi­ness.

Harry Rosen, 83, stepped down from ac­tive duty in 2005, but still spends many Satur­days vis­it­ing one of eight stores bear­ing his name in the Toronto area, chat­ting with cus­tomers and staff.

“We don’t live in ivory tow­ers,” Larry says. “I per­son­ally call cus­tomers, an­swer Ask Harry ques­tions, visit the stores and look over mer­chan­dise.

“We’re close to our busi­ness and deal with the good and the bad. My dad taught me that. We of­ten get asked to open a women’s store, but our strat­egy re­mains to be the best at what we do,” he said. “Just be­cause we are in Canada doesn’t mean we can’t be the best.”

Larry Rosen is ap­pointed CEO.

Named one of 50 best-man­aged com­pa­nies.

E-com­merce is launched at Har­ryRosen.com

Rec­og­nized as one of Canada’s 10 most-ad­mired cor­po­rate cul­tures.

Em­barks on 60th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, an­nounc­ing $100-mil­lion ex­pan­sion pro­gram with new 32,000-square-foot store at Toronto’s York­dale Mall and 18,000-square-foot store at Rideau Cen­tre, and ex­ten­sive up­dates to sev­eral flag­ship stores.

Chris Roussakis/Postmedia News

Larry Rosen, CEO of Harry Rosen, is de­ter­mined to meet the chal­lenge from ri­vals Saks and Nord­strom.

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