One for the books

Laura Carr, executive vice-president and CFO of Indigo, talks about competition and creating an experience for customers.

Q: How do you lead?

I think I am an accessible leader. I try to influence by building strong relationships across the business. I role model what I believe: treat people with respect, work hard, be honest — to yourself and to others — and make sure you love what you are doing.

Q: Indigo stores are more than bookstores — they’re destinations where customers can sit and leaf through magazines with a coffee while their kids are playing in the children’s area. Why are brick-and-mortar stores still a key part of Indigo’s strategy?

What you are describing is part of the overall Indigo experience. It’s much more than just a place to buy things. Our customers love coming into our stores and finding inspiration, discovering new ideas and connecting with others. Many describe Indigo as their “happy place.” Online sales continue to grow for us and others across the globe, but the physical experience is fundamental to who we are. I find it interesting that some pure play digital retailers are starting to open physical stores — they too understand the need for customers to have physical and not just digital experiences with their brands.

Q: Speaking of digital experiences, you have a number of competitors online, especially How does the competitive nature of online sales factor into your role as CFO?

The speed of technological change is fierce and is constantly changing competitive dynamics, which has a big impact on my role as CFO. A couple of examples include capital allocation and performance management. I need to ensure we generate appropriate returns from our capital investments and with competing demands between physical stores, digital channels and the need for a speedier and ever more efficient supply chain, the right allocation of capital becomes a fine balance. Within performance management, the metrics analyzed for the online channel are different to the traditional physical retail store. The online channel is more dynamic and therefore requires different capabilities to monitor results and adjust course. We built the team to reflect these capabilities.

Laura Carr has been with Indigo since 2013 and has served as executive vice-president and CFO since 2014. Prior to Indigo, Carr worked for JTI and spent time at PwC in England and Australia.