Aldo Bensadoun, founder of the Aldo Group, remembers his time as a student at McGill University fondly.
He attended the school in the 1960s, long admiring families like the Bronfmans and Molsons, who donated heavily to the institution; he dreamed of one day doing the same.
“I would say to myself, ‘Isn’t it fantastic? They understand the importance of sharing and distributing,'” he said.
“I said to myself, ‘If, one day, I can do that, I will.'”
On Friday, McGill University announced the launch of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management (BSRM).
Bensadoun donated $25 million to the university and an additional $7 million in donations came from various foundations — the total $32 million helped to found the new division within McGill’s business faculty.
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The new interdisciplinary school aims to equip the next generation of retail leaders with the tools to meet the demands of the industry while shaping a sustainable future.
“Retail worldwide is struggling in a way that is reinventing itself,” said Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management.
“The challenge is really to look forward and to teach the students what will be needed in the future.”
Bensadoun admits he didn’t have global ambitions. He first launched his shoe company in the 1970s, selling clogs.
Today, the Aldo Group spans the globe and is a retail powerhouse.
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“He doesn’t just want this to be a good school in Montreal,” said Suzanne Fortier, principal of McGill University.
“He wants us to be the best school internationally.”
The retail industry’s biggest challenge right now is online sales. Bensadoun hopes the new business school will address some of those difficulties.
“What I am hoping for is all the theoretical research we are doing here will help our industry in solving our problem,” he said.
The program currently has 30 students enrolled. The goal is to have 200 students within a few years.