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Christian Roy – Groupe Dynamite

A ‘dynamite’ approach to retail

You may already know what you want from a Groupe Dynamite store after looking online, but do you know what else may be on sale to complement your fashion style?

You’ll find out from texts or emails alerts, but they only show up as you park at the mall to shop at one of the fashion retailer’s stores.

Sending out instant messages to customers in a specific area is called geofencing, and it’s a method Christian Roy expects the company will implement in 2020.

Christian Roy – Groupe Dynamite

Christian Roy | Vice President of Legal Affairs and Corporate Secretary

Roy is not the person who builds the geofence—he’s Groupe Dynamite’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Corporate Secretary—but he is the one developing the legal backbone for the company’s marketing and merchandising efforts.

Staying vibrant and relevant with customers has been an education for Roy, one that belies misconceptions he once heard about how an in-house counsel works.

“When I first started as an in-house counsel, the general comment I got was ‘you’re going to have an easy life now,’” he recalls. “My answer to that is no way.”

In store, online

Groupe Dynamite is a Montreal-based global fashion retailer for women from 18-30 years old. The company offers two brands, Garage and Dynamite. Garage is geared to the 18-24 age range, perhaps a more introverted customer. Dynamite offer styles for women 25-30, confident and professional, who are settling into their adulthood, Roy says.

With 400 stores, largely in Canada and the U.S., Groupe Dynamite continues to have faith in brick-and-mortar retail, but the marketing approach is very much tempered by the internet.

“Our customer was born with a smartphone in her hands and knows technology,” Roy says. “We have to create an experience where she will want to share on social media like Instagram or TikTok.”

Groupe Dynamite is ready to build geofences around its stores, but Roy has to be sure none of them violate consumer privacy laws that are springing up quickly these days.

“We have to make sure a customer wants to be followed or catered to in such a fashion,” Roy explains, as new laws no longer follow a standard of implied consent for contacting potential customers. Instead, the standard is expressed consent, and it needs to be documented by companies.

Groupe Dynamite was already bound by Canada’s anti-spam legislation known by its CASL acronym; similar laws went into effect in California on Jan. 1, 2020. Even in places where legal reforms have not been enacted, Roy says the company is going to act as though they are.

“We’ll find the most stringent standard and apply it across the board,” he says. “If we can do it for one jurisdiction, it is easier to do it all from a business standpoint.”

Protecting the network

Geofences are a way to increase in-store retail sales through digital means, and Roy says when a new store is opened, it also spikes online sales in the area around the new store. But as the internet drives more commerce, he says he’s also had to review and rewrite contracts with service vendors to properly indemnify them in case of website disruptions or crashes.

Off the internet there are the smaller details—approving leases for new locations, ensuring new stores meet local requirements for labor and consumer protection, and resolving loss prevention and customer complaint cases.

Roy says the world of social media can make complaint cases difficult: one post can go a long way no matter what the issue is really about. Groupe Dynamite has a well-trained and skilled customer service staff, he adds, the intent being to settle complaints before they reach him.

Because he’s a one-man staff in a company with 6,000 employees, Roy says he’s trained customer service reps to go one or two steps beyond what is legally required to settle issues. He’s also trained himself to prioritize the issues he faces.

“The worst thing you can do is promise things for yesterday,” Roy says. “You have to manage your schedule. Work with people to make sure when they come to you, they really need you.”

Coming in-house

Roy has been part of the Groupe Dynamite fabric since 2006; he joined the company after serving as senior legal counsel at Hartco Income Fund. Soon after arriving, he handled a trademark infringement case successfully. The out-of-court settlement was a learning experience and a catalyst as Roy applied his newfound skills to better protecting Groupe Dynamite trademarks and intellectual properties.

The Montreal native is working close to home at Groupe Dynamite headquarters, but his efforts have a global footprint. This includes Roy registering the company trademark “throughout the Northern Hemisphere” to ensure it is protected anywhere expansion may come.

Like the Groupe Dynamite trademark, Roy gets around. An avid skier, he and his family take to the Alps annually with friends, and he recently took a Lamborghini out on the track in Quebec with a friend and came away ready for another spin, he says.

Then there are the quiet times, summer days spent on lakes or rivers in Quebec casting a line. The solitude and water are calming, and the disconnect is needed for someone always in demand at work.

“The client always knows where you are. You can’t hide—you have to be there and always on,” Roy says. “It’s a challenge, but one of the perks of the job because you are closer to any decision or any problem that may arise. You don’t have the luxury of standing back.”

Published on: February 15, 2020

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