Montreal, Quebec

Arts and crafts supplies retailer

Primary market: 30 Canadian stores; including 19 in Quebec

Employees: 600-700

President: Marc DeSerres


514-842-6695 (7236)


A colourful creation


Business school professors pontificate about the importance of companies constantly redefining themselves to keep up with changing times. Marc DeSerres, president of Montreal-based DeSerres, which operates 30 arts and crafts supplies stores (including 19 in Quebec), provides a perfect example of how that can be done.


The company, which in 2009 celebrated its 100th anniversary, was founded by Marcís grandfather Omer DeSerres as an ironwork outlet, and has been constantly evolving ever since. During ensuing decades the company morphed through a slew of identities including stints as a department store, a niche provider of specialty graphic arts supplies and a brief detour in computer retailing.


In 1992 DeSerres, settled into its current identity. In addition to its core art supplies line, it now also sells a range of creative toys, games, framing and decorative items, which target the general public, artists, arts and crafts enthusiasts, children, students and designers.


DeSerres cites several reasons for the companyís recent success. These include its unique and distinctive product line, its size, which gives it considerable buying power and the consistent pace at which it has been opening new outlets (including four this year). Recent experiments to determine optimal store size have also proved fruitful, enabling DeSerres to halve the average space of new outlets to about 8,000 square feet, by using taller shelves and packing them closer together. These moves substantially lowered the new storesí break-even points.


The companyís recently introduced transactional Web-site and loyalty card program are also catching on quickly, as is its new creative toy department, which stocks products (with themes ranging from circuses to chemistry) designed to help parents lure kids away from computer screens.




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