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Atelier 1200: A successful business takeover story

Entrepreneur’s corner | Jan 10, 2022

Taking over a business that has been in existence for several decades is no simple task, especially when it operates in a niche as special as fashion. Nevertheless, with the support of PME MTL, three young entrepreneurs engineered a successful transition and breathed new life into Atelier 1200.

Jeremy Wallace, Jonathan Mills and Mavra Toufidis are three extremely talented fashion designers who have each launched a successful clothing brand. In 2019, they decided to purchase a tailor-made suit business that had been in operation for 42 years. Considering that the Montréal fashion industry faces fierce international competition, they were taking on quite the challenge.

With the help of PME MTL, they were able to launch Atelier 1200, which specializes in designing high-end made-to-measure suits, and experienced dynamic growth and an order book filled to the brim.

Building on and modernizing acquired assets

When taking over an existing company, one of the main challenges is that you inherit not only the strengths, but also the shortcomings. A solid plan is required to successfully build on the acquired assets while reinventing or eliminating any areas of the business that are less profitable.

The three entrepreneurs already knew exactly how they wanted to approach the rejuvenation and develop the potential of their business. However, they needed a bit of a financial boost. According to Kurt Houghton, Director of Consulting Services and Financing, Social Economy at PME MTL Centre-Ouest: “Investments were required to replace obsolete equipment with newly acquired pieces in order to expand production. They also needed liquid assets to cover working capital, work on the website and the marketing component.” This was provided through a subsidy under the Fonds Jeunes Entreprises (young business fund), which is intended to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, combined with a loan from the Fonds PME MTL (PME MTL fund).

When taking over an existing company, a solid plan is required to successfully build on the acquired assets while reinventing or eliminating any areas of the business that are less profitable

Jeremy Wallace explains: “We were very fortunate to be able to rely on the advice and support of PME MTL. We knew that they were there to help us, and we still keep in touch with them on a regular basis – it’s a long-term relationship for us. They were also able to introduce us to potential clients and partners.” The three designers were even able to integrate their own respective clothing brands into the business – proverbially killing two birds with one stone.

The takeover has been very successful, and the financial projections have far exceeded expectations. A number of new partnerships have been solidified, and clients are beating down the door to purchase bespoke clothing bearing the Atelier 1200 label. Thanks to their modern vision and their dedication to some more traditional elements, the three entrepreneurs have successfully managed to turn a long-standing Montréal fashion company into a sustainable business venture. “From our perspective, it was extremely important to keep the manufacturing component in Montréal. The City has a long and storied history of designing tailor-made clothing, along with a reputation for expertise and quality. Many fashion companies have left for elsewhere, but there is still a demand for local products, and we want to meet that demand”, Jonathan Mills affirms.

Thanks to their modern vision and their dedication to some more traditional elements, the three entrepreneurs have successfully managed to turn a long-standing Montréal fashion company into a sustainable business venture.

It is important to point out that Atelier 1200 also offers unparalleled service, which makes all the difference. For example, if a client needs a suit urgently because they are travelling, no stone is left unturned to ensure that the new clothing is safely tucked into their luggage on time, even if home delivery is required!

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Atelier 1200 is supported by PME MTL Centre-Ouest.

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