Aldo is beginning to open its store locations across the U.S. and Canada — and the company told FN it is keeping the safety of its customers and employees top of mind.
The Montreal-based company said all of its store associates must complete mandatory safety training upon their return in-store, for example. Plus, staff will be required to wear gloves and masks at all times.
When it comes to rules about customers wearing masks and face coverings, Aldo said it will comply with guidelines from local government and health authorities in whichever country/region the store is located. So if wearing a mask is proclaimed mandatory for customers, Aldo will also require that clients wear one when shopping in its stores as well. And customers are required to disinfect their hands with disinfectant lotion provided.
Shoppers will be able to try on product in-store, though that is limited to footwear and handbags only. Socks will be required. Product cleaning stations have been added around the stores to provide sanitization after each try-on, and all shoes will be disinfected before and after, as well as the sitting areas.
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In addition, Aldo is temporarily suspending returns on all accessory products.
Like most retail stores, Aldo will also adhere to social distancing recommendations by limiting customer capacity and adjusting seating areas to do so. Check-out counters will be equipped with protective shields, and contactless payment and e-receipts are encouraged.
In May, Aldo began its restructuring process after announcing that it had sought and obtained an initial order pursuant to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act from the Superior Court of Québec. Aldo said it had “voluntarily” filed for “similar protection” in the United States — Chapter 15 bankruptcy. Since then, the company has continued to operate through this process and has no plans of shuttering.
“My role is to stabilize the team and show them the vision we have for the future,” CEO David Bensadoun told FN at the time. “I think it’s going to take time for people to get into a new routine. We’re not expecting a boom — we’re expecting a smooth climb,” he added about its recovery process.
Throughout the health crisis, Bensadoun has been working to better bridge physical and digital operations as e-commerce fuels the business. Currently, brick-and-mortar retail accounts for about 50% of business, but the ultimate goal is to have four key segments each contribute a quarter of the business: stores, e-commerce, franchising and wholesale.
“The last 10 years have been a slow rise of e-commerce. Now, in one year, it will probably be double the rate of growth [we had been seeing]. We believe the future will be digitally dominant and [wholesale] drop-ship dependent,” he said.