We are hosted by the new Senior Vice President of Ogilvy at her downtown Montreal office at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and de la Montagne. In the autumn of 2013 Joanne Nemeroff was appointed to Ogilvy and entrusted with one of the biggest mandates in retail industry: the fusion of two Montreal institutions, Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew. This influential executive is confident that she will serve to create one of the finest luxury stores in Canada, to compete with fashion destinations worldwide.
After completing advanced studies Joanne Nemeroff learned the mechanics of the industry working alongside leaders in retail. Her career unfolded like a whirlwind. She was quickly promoted to the role of Director, in high visibility businesses like Sears, Limited Brands, La Senza and Aldo. This is not the first challenge for this native of Trois-Rivières and mother of three children, and her forty years of experience in the world of fashion and business is her greatest strength in implementing Montreal’s retail project of the century. “I’m a real details person and a true luxury consumer!”
Nemeroff’s experience in retail and business management proved beneficial when she agreed to lead the project initiated in 2012. “The challenge is one of scale. We have to take two solidly anchored retail giants of the Montreal community and create a unique customer destination, a legendary multilingual venue open to the world, that will make customers dream and desire to be indulgent. We have to find the means to extract the best of both flagship stores to create a new one.”
Ms. Nemeroff says Ogilvy, now part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection (the name of the combined new entity), will need to reposition itself and change people’s perceptions. “We love Montreal, we believe in this city, its people and their talents, and we sincerely believe that we’ll experience something extraordinary in developing a brand that will speak to them. With a $60 million investment and an additional 50,000 square feet (added from the former site of the Hôtel de la Montagne), we’ll offer our customers a magnificent 220,000 square foot store in 2017. We are more than confident that we can meet the needs of our respective loyal customers.”
To achieve this goal, the team is moving on several fronts at once. “While continuing to focus on the respective strengths of the two stores, we’ll strengthen the legacy of each while adding new features during construction, which begins in 2015. For example, at Holt’s, new spaces will be dedicated to prestigious brands like Hermès, Prada, Dior, and The Kooples. Our fashion design lab at Holt’s will expand and extend all the way to the fifth floor of Ogilvy, where a new urban concept will emerge. Customers will be privileged to enjoy the best of both worlds … With a more diversified offering, we can build on what they like.”
Although the Senior VP knows that not all target groups have yet been conquered, she is pleased with the progress made. “For two and a half years, the Selfridges Group (the new owner) examined all possibilities. We’re delighted to have finalized our plan, and to begin building something unique. Our biggest challenge certainly will be to deliver this concept without inconveniencing our customers during the different stages of realization.”
“The media have already begun to cover our activities and the excitement is palpable. I feel privileged to be part of this great adventure.” Nemeroff is also proud to see the business community follow suit. With an owner such as Selfridges Group, the vision and seriousness of the development were never in question. “Selfridges understood the unique character of this city and have provided us an effective framework for managing this large project. Of course, some questions remain and we’ll find answers along the way – for example, what brands will be carried in the new store, and where will the new designers and luxury brands be situated? We remain convinced that the professionalism of our staff together with our personalized service is the key to our future success. It’s up to us to create that magical experience.”
These goals for growth and achievement are well matched to the leadership qualities of Nemeroff. Thanks to the solid relationship with her team, this executive can more easily combine work and social responsibility, and Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy are at the center of many causes and fundraising events. “When you know that your company can make a difference, you should seize the opportunity.”
This is a defining project to follow closely, with more prestigious brands, more shopping space and choice, all crowned by first-tier personalized service. In short, more of everything you love!