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The significance of the blue basket has been questioned

The significance of the blue basket has been questioned

A year after becoming transactional, is Le Panier Bleu – without a general manager since August – still relevant? While many retailers believe the basic principles of the platform should be reconsidered, Economy, Innovation and Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon confirms that it still has its place, but believes the Blue Basket could undergo adjustments if it becomes less useful for them. Merchants.


“The blue basket is a tool. We will adjust. The day that [les détaillants] He will say: “We don’t need the blue basket because we do it ourselves,” he announced after a speech he gave as part of the Hop! event, organized Thursday by the Retail Council of Quebec (CQCD).

There, we see a lot of companies regulating themselves [en développant un site transactionnel]. Le Panier bleu has always wanted to be complementary.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy

Since August, the platform, which was created by the Legault government amid the pandemic, has no longer had a general director following the departure of Alain Dumas. Currently, the interim period is guaranteed by Sylvain Prudhomme, Chairman of the Board of Directors. Asked about a potential successor, Mr Fitzgibbon said there were “competent people around”. “We will adapt according to needs.”

While many companies have developed their own transaction platform, retailers believe Le Panier Bleu should review its mission. “I already have a transactional site. At some point, you have to choose your resources to get a return on investment, believes Vicky Scalia, co-founder of shoe retailer L’Interval, who also attended the event. I can’t say that this is the end of the ‘Blue Basket’ “But we must review its mission,” adds the woman who heads a company that has 16 stores across the country. “In three years, we have grown. Many merchants have developed their own transaction site.”

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“We are still investing a good amount of money in this. I would have liked to see a way to generate value for retailers in Quebec.”

“Lots of work to do”

The new version of the site, which became transactional in October 2022, represents a total investment of $22 million. As a non-profit organization, the site received $4.4 million in subsidies from Quebec. Le Panier bleu now belongs to Plateforme Agora inc. This private company, founded in February 2021 according to the Quebec Business Registrar, consists of minority shareholders, including Desjardins, the FTQ Solidarity Foundation, e-commerce company Lightspeed, and the Quebec government. Quebec). There are about 400 merchants and 175,000 products there.

For Matteo Host, president of interiors company Oleka, “The blue basket is not bad, it’s just that it’s not the magic button.”

“We can never live off the blue basket. We have one to three sales a week. It’s very low,” he adds.

We have a free offer, with a website that has a certain size and traffic. For the company, it is a plus, but not a source of income.

Matthieu Host, President of Oleka

“Frankly, all the retailers on Le Panier bleu hope the consumer will buy on their platform because the money goes directly into their pockets, and there is no commission paid to Le Panier bleu,” Mr. Host estimates.

“I find it difficult to understand how it could become necessary. There is a lot of work to be done. There is something to improve. I do not see this as the project of the century.”

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Another craze for buying local?

Moreover, Minister Fitzgibbon, who promoted the Produits du Québec certification recently adopted by a number of retailers, including BMR, SAIL, DeSerres and JC Perreault, recognizes that there has been a certain decline in enthusiasm for buying local. Perhaps we can say that the enthusiasm is lower than it was during the pandemic. “I think Quebecers in general want to cheer locally,” he added. It’s a more difficult time now. We see pressure on consumers. I think he didn’t go. Maybe we just need to tweak it and revitalize it. »