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Heather Reisman looks to find a new mood for Indigo

The Canadian based bookstore chain, which Ms. Reisman owns, has been suffering a major downturn of late as book sales are gradually declining. At the company’s recent annual general meeting,   Ms. Reisman announced some exciting new plans including opening in-house stores for Apple products as well as expanding outside Canada’s borders for the first time in the company’s sixteen year history.



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Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman /Bloomberg

/ By Albert Hecht /

Heather Reisman, the driving force behind the Indigo Books & Music chain that she formed in 1997, has seen the writing on the wall for the last or so. As part of a global trend, it’s an unassailable fact that the Canadian public are spending less on printed matter. When you can control close to 250 bookstores, then Ms Reisman has more than sufficient experience in the world of business to know that sitting about waiting won’t help and the time has come for decisive action.

At the company’s annual general meeting held recently, Ms Reisman gave an outline of the Indigo’s plans for the future, which will make them less dependent on book sales, and move more into areas of electronic media.

The first step will be a strategic partnership with the Apple Corp that will see in storage units for Apple products being set up in 40 of Indigo’s key stores throughout Canada. The Apple franchises will have on sale all of the hardware giant’s most popular products, including all that’s new in iPads and Apple TV. It is projected that all of the 40 in-house stores will be up and running by the middle of 2014. Already a pilot Apple store has begun operation in Indigo’s branch in the suburb of Etobicoke, Ontario.

At the meeting chief executive Heather Reisman also gave some early details of the company’s plans to give a major internal revamp to many of Indigo’s larger stores. The new format will see the opening of a series of smaller retailing outlets, based around the format of their existing Indigo Kids brand, although involved in such retail sectors as Indigo Tech, in which Apple products will be sold, as well as home sector, which will trade under the title of Indigo Home, that will stock a full range of home improvement supplies.

In addition Ms Reisman also gave an opening indication that the company is in the advanced stages of considering opening stores outside of Canada for the first time in their history, although she was reluctant to add more information about their planned situation.

Another indication the switch away from conventional printed material is the fact that Indigo now report that sales of EBooks now represent around up 15 per cent of their overall book market, a development that Indigo have taken into account in their forward planning, pointed out Ms. Reisman.

With such ambitious plans for the future, at the meeting the general feeling was that the present situation was not strong for the company, with an $8.2 million loss reported for the quarter ended March 30.

Indigo Books & Music Inc. was founded in 1996 by Heather Reisman receiving considerable backing from her husband,  Gerry Schwartz, majority owner and CEO of one of Canada’s leading companies, the Onex Corporation.

Thanks to the backing of Onex, Indigo acquired ownership of Canada’s then largest bookstore chain Chapters in 2001, absorbing a number of stores into the Indigo brand while continuing to operate a number of others under the Chapters banner. At the same time as acquiring Chapters Indigo also gained ownership of a smaller chain of bookstores, known as Coles, which were part of the Chapters group.

Heather Reisman was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, going on to study social working at the city’s McGill University.

After graduating, Ms. Reisman was involved in a variety of business ventures throughout Canada, which added considerably to her experience in marketing, especially in the retail sector.

Ms. Reisman, as well as her success in running one of Canada’s largest non-food retail concerns, has also found the time to serve as governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange as well as McGill University.



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