Specializing in children’s shoes, 21 Panda stores, a family business for 75 years, have passed into the hands of Groupe Nero Bianco, owner of stores of the same name and Club Chaussures.
With this transaction, 11 new Panda stores will open within five years in all regions of Quebec, where the brand is slightly underserved. In the next year, Panda will set up operations in Saguenay and Bas-Saint-Laurent, where the city is yet to be determined. With its three brands, Groupe Nero Bianco now has a total of 55 locations.
“That’s one enough Natural,” says Jean-Francois Transon, president of Groupe Nero Bianco, headquartered in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier. “It’s a shoe company buying another shoe company. In Quebec it is rare for a retailer to buy another retailer. »
The growth potential is enormous. Panda has a very low presence in this area while club chawsers are very abundant in this area.
Jean-Francois Transon, President of Groupe Nero Bianco
“Just in the Greater Quebec area, there’s room for two or three other Panda stores,” he says.
But by opening 11 new stores across the province under the Panda brand, of which there are currently 21 — most of which are currently in the greater Montreal area — isn’t the new owner risking competition for itself? Because we fit even little girls’ feet at its 30 Club Chaussures boutiques that sell shoes for the whole family.
“We sell children’s shoes, but we are not as specialized as Panda. But in the new branches we are going to open, we have to be very careful not to expose ourselves to cannibals,” noted Mr. Transon.
One thing is for sure, getting its hands on the children’s shoe specialist has allowed it to re-open negotiations with suppliers for brands that have not been offered in the two brands’ displays since the pandemic. “Efficiency and turnover just changed. »
For example, in terms of volume, Nike products are the larger of the two brands. Under Armor enters Club Chaucers, while DR Martens reappear at Panda.
Yet the businessman assures that the panda’s “DNA” will not change. So he has no intention of selling women’s pumps there.
Negotiations between the Nero Bianco Group and Panda, led by Linda Goulet, continued for about five months. It is the latter – who wants to retire – that he is selling his business to Mr. Contacted Transon. “There are not 100 buyers in Quebec who can develop this banner,” maintains the boss of the group Nero Bianco.
With this acquisition, all of Panda’s operations – which employ 13 people in its Montreal offices – will be reassigned to Groupe Nero Bianco’s headquarters in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, near Quebec. Mr. Transon confirmed that 5 of the 13 employees will continue in their positions. In store, no changes are planned.
Nero Bianco Group in brief
President: Jean-Francois Transon
Number of Stores: 55 (30 Club Chaussures, 4 Nero Bianco, 21 Panda)
Number of Employees: 335