Indigo Books and Music Inc. (Indigo) is a Canadian book chain that has stores in all ten provinces. It is one of Canada’s largest book retailers. Founded in 1971, the chain has a wide variety of books and music, ranging from classics to modern bestsellers. It is the third largest bookstore chain in North America, after Barnes & Noble and Borders. In 2017, the chain expanded to a total of 290 stores across the country.
The Indigo store has morphed from a standalone bookstore to a lifestyle destination. In addition to books, consumers can now find home decor, gifts, and specialty items at the bookstore. It’s no wonder that Indigo has become so influential. After all, the company has closed two of its most storied book palaces in recent years – the old Runnymede Theatre and the World’s Biggest Bookstore.
In 2005, Reisman was invited to join Borders’ frontline investor group. The plan was to expand into the Canadian market. However, it failed to gain federal regulatory approval in Canada. Reisman therefore decided to enter the big box book retailing business on her own, launching Indigo Books as a venture with Onex Corporation, a private equity firm controlled by Gerry Schwartz.
In addition to her work at Indigo, Reisman co-founded Kobo, a leader in the eReading market. In addition, she hosts the Well Said podcast, which features interviews with global experts and leaders in fields ranging from technology to business. Guests on her podcast have included international bestselling author Brene Brown to Canadian performer Ivan Coyote. She also co-produced the Emmy-nominated documentary Fed Up, and was recently inducted into Canada’s Business Hall of Fame.
As a young businessman, Reisman started his career at Paradigm Consulting. He worked there for 17 years before becoming the president of Cott Beverages. In 1995, Reisman attempted to partner with Chapters to enter the Canadian book market, but the company failed to get regulatory approval from Canada. Reisman decided to launch Indigo Books and Music, and eventually, the company has become Canada’s first big box book retailer.
With so much change and disruption in the book market, it’s not surprising that a business as old as Indigo is reinventing itself to stay relevant. With her background in technology and entrepreneurship, Reisman’s vision for Indigo is not just a business decision – she has helped save Canada’s book industry. In her own words, “book stores have to reinvent their business model in order to compete with e-readers and eBooks.”
Heather Reisman’s leadership in Indigo is a testament to her determination and vision. She is a social activist and works with environmental groups, and has worked for a decade with the producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. During her tenure as Indigo’s CEO, she has remained active in these causes, including environmental activism and sustainable business practices.
Reisman is a passionate book reader, and is a more popular figure in the industry than her predecessor, Chapters CEO Larry Stevenson. Stevenson was known to favor non-fiction titles and alienated many in the industry through his aggressive demand for book discounts and returns. Reisman was backed by a group called Onex Corporation, which was owned by the former CEO of Borders. Her entrepreneurial instincts helped her become a successful leader in Indigo Books.
In 1990, Heather Reisman founded Indigo Books, Canada’s largest bookseller. In 2009, she also founded the e-book startup Kobo. She has become Canada’s most recognized advocate for literacy and the enjoyment of reading. She was also inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. And, she is still busy. These accomplishments have helped make Reisman the woman she is today.
Reisman has also shown sensitivity toward Jewish concerns in her business. Her rabbi serves as buyers’ consultant for the company. She also features Jewish authors on its shelves, and has worked to prevent censorship. In 2001, Indigo removed Mein Kampf from its shelves, sparking controversy about censorship. Moreover, she supports the Israeli Defense Forces and the scientific discovery in Israel with the HESEG foundation.
Reisman is a proud recipient of many awards. In 2009, she was named one of the 50 most influential women in Canada by the Financial Times. She was also named to the Women’s Executive Network’s list of 100 Most Influential Women in Business. She has also received three honorary doctorate degrees from various universities. It’s easy to see why Reisman’s leadership in Indigo Books is regarded as an exemplary example of the best leadership in Canada.
Reisman’s Relationships with Suppliers
Despite the struggles of the retail industry, Reisman’s relationships with suppliers of Indigo books continue to strengthen. His stores are now operating in 92 superstores and 131 small-format stores across Canada. His company’s financial statements show a marked increase in sales for general merchandise, toys, and non-book items. Indigo superstores saw an 8.3% increase in same-store sales. In the last year, Indigo has opened three doll boutiques in Ottawa and plans to open as many as 15 more in Canada.
Heather Reisman started out working at not-so-famous companies before she was invited to be a front-line investor for Borders. Borders was planning to enter the Canadian market, but the venture was not approved by federal regulators. She then left the consulting company to start Indigo Books and Music Inc., which eventually merged with Chapters. Her passion for books and music fueled her entrepreneurial success.
Reisman is also sensitive to Jewish concerns. The Jewish rabbi serves as the company’s buyers’ consultant, and many of the books published by Indigo are of Jewish interest. His business also helps support Israel’s scientific research and scholarships for the members of the Israel Defense Forces. But the company’s greatest source of profit comes from its relationships with suppliers of Indigo books.
As Indigo’s fortunes improved, Reisman’s relationships with suppliers of Indigo books were strengthened. By the early 2000s, Indigo employed 5,000 people across Canada. The company’s reputation grew, and in 2001, it was reported as the thirty-fifth richest family in Canada. It also signed a partnership with American Girl to operate the company’s retail stores. In fiscal 2016, Indigo’s revenue grew 11%. Sales on the internet increased by 15.3%, and the company turned a $28-million profit.
Reisman has been CEO and president of Indigo Books and Music since February 4, 2001. Her management style has allowed the company to grow enormously. While many questioned Reisman’s decisions in the past, the company has had tremendous success in recent years. The company has also seen some critics of her strategy decisions, but that has changed. Reisman’s relationships with suppliers of indigo books have widened the company’s customer base.
Reisman’s Ability to Take Risks
As an astronaut, Garrett Reisman pushed the limits of human capability. He commanded the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the Space Station, and he served as a long-duration crew member on the International Space Station. Today, he is a senior advisor at SpaceX and a professor at the University of Southern California. He spoke about his ability to take risks at a recent conference. But he’s not alone. Reisman is also passionate about the role of technology in creating colonies on Mars.