Leap-ing Into a New Retail Model: An Interview With Amish Tolia Street Fight

Leap-ing Into a New Retail Model: An Interview With Amish Tolia

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We’ve all seen founders with great ideas and/or products take the big step to brick-and-mortar stores and then crash and burn due to various factors. Amish Tolia is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leap, a company that has disrupted the traditional commercial broker/landlord/tenant model for retail brands. Tolia founded the company about six years ago and has helped scale it to an omnichannel platform that powers over 100 stores across 12 markets. Before launching Leap, Tolia founded two other companies.

Leap serves many brands, including ASTR the Label, Dolce Vita, Hanky Panky, Malbon Golf, Ring Concierge, Frankies Bikinis, SET Active, Grown Brilliance, Collars & Co, and many others. These brands leverage the Leap Platform to drive growth via branded retail.

The model is turnkey, and the brand can assume less risk.

We sat down with Amish Tolia to find out more about the Leap model.

What does Leap actually do?

“It’s a data-driven platform that includes site selection, store design and development, staffing, operations, and technology. Leap signs longer-term leases directly with landlords, enabling brands to launch retail stores in premium locations with less risk. By handling all aspects of retail, the Leap Platform enables brands to scale into retail more turnkey while brands focus on their core competencies of marketing and product innovation.”

We noticed that Leap signs leases for retailers. How does that work? How does LEAP protect itself financially?

“Leap signs leases directly with landlords, often 5-10 years in length. From there, Leap signs contracts with brands to launch and operate shorter-term stores for brands. If the brand is not succeeding in retail, Leap sources a new brand to enter the location swiftly, limiting dark store downtime for the landlord and local shoppers. Leap limits its risk by working with a network of hundreds of brands while using a data-driven site selection process and best-in-class operations to drive brand success.”

In one of Leap’s Case studies, the company shares that they were able to open one store in fewer than 90 days and secure a media mention in a top-tier publication. The Leap alliance saved thousands on operational costs and targeted marketing and activations created a 10% lift in sales.

What types of brands does this model work particularly well for?

“The Leap platform currently powers retail for over 60 brands, many of which operate stores in-house in conjunction with the Leap platform. The Leap platform works particularly well for sizeable, growing modern brands with a strong online and wholesale presence but lack the know-how and/or resources to grow in physical retail. These brands typically excel in understanding their customer base and online marketing but benefit significantly from Leap’s turnkey solutions for real estate, store design, and operations. Among the categories currently on the Leap platform include fashion, apparel, accessories, jewelry, and more.”

What are some other innovations?

“In addition to offering 18-24 month full-term stores where Leap signs leases and operates the stores, Leap also offers seasonal short-term pop-ups. Also recently rolled out this year due to market demand, Leap now offers operations agreements where Leap deploys its resources and know-how in staffing, operations, and technology to drive performance in a new or existing retail store without holding the lease.”

Amish Tolia describes a model that is a fantastic alternative for novice retail founders and those needing proof-of-concept before scaling, franchising, and expanding. It’s one huge Leap forward for the complex retail world.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in Inc.com, the New York Times and Forbes.