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NRI and Westlife partner on new business venture

By Tiffany Montgomery
April 19, 2011 7:32 AM


Canadian third party logistics company NRI Distribution Inc. and Southern California based Westlife Distribution LLC, owner of snow outerwear brand 686, are creating a strategic partnership to provide third party logistics and other backend services in the U.S.


The new entity, called NRI USA LLC, is looking to settle in the South Bay in a building with an existing free trade zone license, which would allow them to help young brands enter the Canadian market more efficiently and cost effectively. The company will be operational by Nov. 1 and ready to accept spring goods for Spring 2012.


(Just to be clear the two companies are not merging. Rather, they are forming a separate, new company for this project but are keeping their other businesses intact.)


Peter McKennaPeter McKenna, President of NRI Distribution in Canada.

NRI provides third party logistic services in Canada for several large brands, including Quiksilver, Volcom, C1rca, 686, DC, Lib Tech and GNU, Dakine, Oakley, Electric and many others.


While NRI USA expects to have some high volume anchor clients, the goal is not to turn into a huge third party logistical machine, NRI President and Co-Owner Peter McKenna said. Instead, the company believes it can help the under $30 million crowd save on infrastructure costs and offer additional backend services if needed such as turnkey ecommerce platforms and other help that Westlife excels at.


Many of the brands NRI works with in Canada were much smaller when NRI first started working with them, Peter said, so the company has experience helping young brands along.


He said NRI and Westlife have been talking about the idea for a while now, and the time seemed right. Commercial buildings are plentiful, and there are lots of talented people available to hire.


In addition, in prior down cycles, after the dust settles new brands tend to form, and those brands may need backend help, Peter said.


I also emailed some questions to Westlife Distribution President and CEO Mike West about this new move.


Why is Westlife in involved in the partnership? Is there a market for it?

With the exception of physically manufacturing our garments, we've done everything in-house for almost two decades. In addition, Westlife has been working with NRI for well over 10 years now. We've always had a great working relationship and a strong respect for each other’s success in business. For several years, (Westlife) has been exploring unique ways to expand our operations business and has provided 3PL (third party logistics) services for others.


It made sense for us to team up with NRI if we really wanted to do this right on a larger scale.


The market in LA is huge. The LA /Long Beach port is the largest in the US and the import point for most US manufacturers.


See Page 2 for more from Mike West


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