Best Managed Companies 2021


These trend hunters know exactly what customers want

When Showcase founder Amin Jivraj opened his first store in Edmonton in 1994, he always made sure he had a notepad by the cash register to write down any new customer product requests. The store would fax this info to the head office, creating a daily hit list of items for the buyers to source and purchase. His number one goal? Give the customer what they want.

Almost three decades on, the “home of the hottest trends” has given millions of customers exactly what they want, from Tae Bo workout videos to Shopkins collectible toys — and surpassed $100 million in revenue doing it. “Today’s Showcase model is simply a modernized and tech-enabled version of that original intent,” says CEO Samir Kulkarni. The brand has 107 small, ultra-efficient, high-traffic stores in Canada and 10 in the U.S., with plans to open hundreds more locations featuring Showcase’s signature fun, interactive product demos. “Creativity and resourcefulness are recognized in company meetings, and individuals are celebrated for taking risks, finding creative solutions and adapting to new realities,” says Kulkarni.

And world-class logistics have enabled Showcase to bring must-have products to market faster than just about anybody else. Take one of 2020’s hottest trends, for example: “Hot-chocolate bombs are a viral sensation that Showcase translated from an idea to a $3-million product in 28 days.” When the bombs went viral on social media last October, Showcase jumped into action — Christmas was just around the corner, after all. “This handmade craft could not be produced in mass quantities without many months of investment in design and automation,” says Kulkarni, so they issued a “one million bomb open call to Canada’s bakeries, restaurants and hospitality companies, who have suffered greatly through the pandemic, to partner with Showcase to produce the bombs and supply our chain.” From there, they sourced equipment, supplies and ingredients — including 30 tons of chocolate — to support large-scale production and micromanaged daily deliveries from producers in order to be in stock in virtually all stores and online for Black Friday.

Bakers weren’t the only folks Showcase helped out during the pandemic. Both the founder and the CEO have medical-personnel family on the front lines, which “inspired us to direct the resources of the entire company toward helping secure for Canada its fair share of the global supply of PPE,” says Kulkarni. And, yet again, Showcase gave the customers what they wanted: it became a leading PPE retailer, selling 11 million units and $25 million worth of hand sanitizer, masks, face shields, pulse oximeters, antibacterial wipes and 150 other SKUs. “We are personally humbled that we could in some small way help the hard-working first responders and health professionals who make this country so great.”