McGill University opens Bensadoun School of Retail Management

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Montreal Canada – The retail apocalypse is far from over. Losses continue to rise in the form of bankruptcies and store closings, while the proliferation of digital brands makes the fight for customers harder than ever.

To survive, retailers must reverse the scenario, said Aldo Bensadoun, founder and executive chairman of footwear giant Aldo Group. This is one of the main reasons his family foundation donated $ 25 million to help found the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University, which will serve as a research hub for the academic institution in the retail industry, in addition to training the next generation of retail talent.

The need for academic resources focused on the retail sector has only grown with the dramatic changes in the retail landscape in recent years, Bensadoun said. With the rise of technology, e-commerce and globalization, as well as the coming of age of the millennial generation, the needs of the industry have changed.

The new school will offer interdisciplinary programs from different McGill departments, reflecting the more complex realities of today’s retail business.

“Before, retail was considered just accounting, or it was all about math and understanding numbers and balance sheets,” he said. “But today, before getting to the bottom line, we have to understand consumer behavior. It means you have to understand anthropology, you have to understand analytics, you have to understand computer science, architecture, sociology.

The school will also house a Retail Experience Lab, which, among other uses, will provide a pop-up space for retailers to experiment and offer industry individuals, students and academics the opportunity to observe behavior. of consumers.

Research is a key element of the Bensadoun school. His research department will cover various retail sectors including fashion and beauty, financial services, technology, food, health and wellness, and will deepen topics such as the circular economy and durability.

In addition to the contribution from the Bensadoun Family Foundation, Walmart, Apparel Group, Peerless Clothing and Birks Group Inc. were among the retailers who donated $ 7.5 million. As founding business partners of the school, they will collaborate on research and provide internship opportunities for students.

As Friday marks the official opening of the school, the first cohort of students in the Retail Management Bachelor of Commerce program have already registered this fall. A retail management doctoral course and executive training will be launched next year, followed by a retail management master’s program in 2020.

“The school will give the retailer a new playbook in order to win,” Bensadoun said. “And today I think every retailer needs a new playbook.”

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