Monday, August 17, 2009

Coming soon to Toronto: a Canadian Monocle shop?

There's no word when, but Monocle magazine apparently intends to start one of its iconic shops in Toronto, to join those is London (Marylebone High Street), Palma de Majorca, Zurich and Los Angeles. There are also plans for Seoul and Hong Kong.

According to a story in The Independent, the retail side -- which wasn't considered by expat Canadian founder Tyler Brûlé when the magazine was launched -- is a healthy new revenue stream, selling such rare items as Artek stools, Orlebar Brown swimming trunks and Valextra notebooks.

Brûlé admits retail was not in his original business plan, when he set up the venture (“I’d thought it would be lovely to have a little shop somewhere someday but I didn’t think then it was a realistic idea or that it would be a profitable one”). But he says Monocle is built on strong retailing foundations. His own company has 70 per cent of Monocle with the rest divided between five family businesses based in Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Japan. These familes, he says, “have made money the good old-fashioned way. They are not just people who play the markets every day.” They have yet to be paid a dividend, however.

The retail element of the business emerged with a special offer in the magazine’s inaugural issue offering readers the chance to buy branded bags. It’s clear that bags are big in Monocle’s world. “There was a tote bag, a shoulder bag and a Boston bag,” recalls Brûlé. “Then we added this smaller bag for 72-hour trips and this shorter-haul bag which was for when you’re going overnight, you want to pack your laptop, you want one shirt, one pair of underpants, your socks and your toiletries. We’ve sold over 5,000 bags – it’s a huge business!”

When Brûlé launched the magazine, claiming that he'd be selling 20,000 copies within 6 months, there was widespread scepticism, particularly since he sells subscriptions for £75 per year. Now, it is selling 150,000 on the newsstands of the world and there are 12,000 subscribers in 85 countries, double last year's figure.
“Media owners around the world are scratching their heads, asking why magazines and newspapers aren’t selling anymore," says Brûlé. "Why? Because you’ve downgraded the experience. When you are competing against digital, which can zoom in and animate? then your print experience needs to be tactile and exciting and, for magazines, a bit collectable.”
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Anonymous Peter Lebensold said...

Yes, it's pronounced something close to "Marleybone", but it's spelled "Marylebone". Site of one of the world's great bookshops, Daunt Books (at #83).

7:31 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

Peter, I knew that, but made the mistake anyway. It is based on a neighbourhood church. I have corrected it.

4:34 pm  
Blogger Joyce Byrne said...

Please don't tell me that on top of explaining why flip flops are not shoes, I will now have to explain that bathing suits are not appropriate business attire, even on Friday, despite being for sale at a store based on a business magazine? (Orlebar Brown swimming trunks)

6:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joyce, it not a business magazine. It's an excellent general interest magazine. It's called Monocle. You should pick up a copy.

9:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love this guy...i don't read his mag however, but you have to give him credit for doing things his own way....the world of publishing needs more guys like tyler

6:49 am  

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