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News

September 21, 2018

Discussion Of Racial Bias Needed

Retailers need to being willing to have the uncomfortable conversation about racial bias in their stores, says Hamlin Grange, senior consultant, diversity, equity and inclusion, at Harmony@Work. Talking on ‘Racial Bias: What You Need to Know to Protect your Organization’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Retail Secure 2018,’ he said one area where they need to focus is loss prevention where some practices can be construed as racism with certain ethnic and cultural groups targeted. Bias can be found in people of all income levels and education and may not even be conscious of their bias. He said “social mindbugs” are partly to blame. These are ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in “how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions about people” although they may not even aware of why they made a decision. In fact, he said racial bias in retailing is more pervasive than realized and even worse than the racial bias reported among police officers, according to the Human Rights Commission. It found over 50 per cent of black people and one in three indigenous people reported being followed while in stores, asked to leave their bags at the counter, were extensively questioned about returns, and, in some cases, asked to leave a store. This kind of racial bias can impact a retailer’s bottom line and have a negative impact on attitudes towards their brand. Some jurisdictions have taken steps to eliminate it. The Nova Scotia human rights commission launched an awareness of racial bias in retail program and New York State has a customer bill of rights which says racial profiling is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It requires that all shoppers and guests to be treated with respect and dignity. Employees who do not abide by this can be fired and it may be time for Canadian retailers to do something similar, he said.


Lowe’s Opens Second Calgary Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its second store in the Greater Calgary, AB, area, featuring the new model of stores which offers an enhanced shopping experience. The store was converted from a former RONA Home and Garden. It was designed by taking the best of Lowe’s and RONA’s offerings to create the new model. The store underwent an extensive 16-week physical transformation which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion as well as a significant investment in training focused on new product knowledge and customer service. The enhanced retail experience includes a wider assortment of seasonal products such as Halloween decorations, items for the holiday season, and outdoor furniture including the latest fashion trends; a complete selection of appliances and the introduction of entirely new product categories including private labels and brands such as John Deere, Husqvarna, and Cub Cadet; and a broader selection of fashion plumbing products such as tubs, showers, toilets, vanities, sinks, and faucets with the introduction of high-profile brands such as Kohler and Grohe. It also offers an enhanced shopping experience for pros and commercial customers, including access to a drive-through lumber yard where contractors can load their vehicles directly to save time, as well as have access to a broader lumber assortment; charge accounts that allow commercial customers to shop at any RONA corporate store and new model Lowe’s store in Canada and receive a single monthly invoice; and the introduction of corporately owned and operated delivery trucks to provide a more personalized level of service for deliveries to contractors. The new store is the company’s 66th store in Canada under the Lowe’s banner.


Blockchain Becoming Part Of Every Business

Blockchain will become a part of every business where there is a need to track and trace digital information, says David Rodgerson, retail industry lead at Microsoft. In the ‘Blockchain for Retail: No IT Professionals Allowed’ session at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Retail Secure 2018,’ he said blockchain takes physical and digital entities and attaches a value to them. This information can’t be edited or deleted and is visible to everyone involved in a transaction. For retail, it means everything tracked through blockchain will result in better trust, transparency, and collaboration across shareholders; bringing value to vendors, retailers, and consumers. It also enable consumers and retailers to control who uses and how data is used, also making it more secure. His key takeaway was that blockchain projects can have an impact on organizations in merchandising, marketing, and operations.


Amazon Launches SMB Storefront

Amazon has launched ‘Amazon Storefronts,’ a store for customers to shop exclusively from U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling on Amazon. With Storefronts, customers can shop at nearly 20,000 U.S. SMBs and learn more about profiled businesses through featured videos and stories. Storefronts features 25 product categories including home, kitchen, pet supplies, back-to-school, Halloween, and books. Amazon first allowed SMBs to sell on its channel nearly 20 years ago and today they are a vital part of the online retailer’s selection.


Associates Help Prevent Theft

Retailers need to find ways to keep associates on the floor as a way to deter theft, says Scott Adel, vice-president of retail excellence at Tulip Retail. Speaking on ‘Customer Experience & Security: The Challenge of Frictionless Retail’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Retail Secure 2018,’ he said as retail changes, inventory control becomes more critical. Today, the bricks and mortar store has become more than a place to carry out transactions. Instead, it has become an access point where, in some cases, they are just showcases where customers go in, select the products they want, and they arrive a day or two later. James Connell, vice-president of eCommerce and customer experience at Roots, said some retailers are starting to look at artificial intelligence to check the availability of stock in the back room. This way, the associates just have to ask if a product is available and, if it is, someone brings it to the associate on the floor. It means the associate does not have to leave he sale floor and mitigates the distraction tactic some thieves use to divert the attention of associates. For Melissa Austria, founder of Gotstyle, engaging customers as they come into stores can help deter theft. However, she warned that in many cases these professional thieves are turning out to be very engaging.


IRWIN Holds Contest For Tradespeople

Hand and power tools accessory manufacturer IRWIN has kicked-off its eighth annual ‘National Tradesman Day’ program. “The program celebrates the dedicated Canadian men and women who help build our country and keep it running,” says the company in a news release. Celebrated on the third Friday of September, this year’s event will take place on September 21. This year, IRWIN is also awarding a VIP Football Experience to two tradespeople. The winner and guest will each receive round-trip flights to Toronto, ON, two nights stay, a VIP experience at a Toronto Argonauts game on October 20, a personalized jersey, and $250 for food. The total prize value is $5,000. Secondary prizes include IRWIN tools and IRWIN branded products. The contest runs until October 10.


September 20, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Increase For Third Month

Manufacturing sales increased for the third consecutive month in July, rising 0.9 per cent to $58.6 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales in the transportation equipment and chemical industries drove the increase. Overall, sales were up in 11 of 21 industries, representing 68 per cent of total manufacturing sales. Non-durable goods rose 1.4 per cent to $27.7 billion, while durable goods increased 0.5 per cent to $30.9 billion. Constant dollar sales increased one per cent, indicating that a higher volume of goods was sold in July. Higher sales in Ontario were mainly responsible for the gains at the national level in July. Declines in British Columbia partially offset the increase. Total manufacturing inventories increased 1.2 per cent to $82.9 billion in July. The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.41. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.


Amazon Deliberates Opening 3,000 Stores

Amazon.com Inc. is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cashierless stores in the U.S. in the next few years, reports Bloomberg. However, to date, the company is still experimenting with the best format – convenience store that sells fresh prepared foods as well as a limited grocery selection similar to 7-Eleven franchises, or a place to simply pick up a quick bite to eat for people in a rush. The company unveiled its first cashierless store near its headquarters in Seattle, WA, in 2016. Shoppers use a smartphone app to enter the store, grab what they want, and then walk out without stopping at a cash register. Sensors and computer-vision technology detect what shoppers take and bills them automatically, eliminating checkout lines. Bloomberg says the challenge to Amazon’s plan is the high cost of opening each location. Adding 3,000 convenience stores would make AmazonGo among the biggest chains in U.S. The internet giant is considering plans to have about 10 locations open by the end of this year, about 50 locations in major metro areas in 2019, and then as many as 3,000 by 2021.


Groupe BMR Starts P&B Renovation

Groupe BMR has started the renovation of its Potvin & Bouchard store in La Baie, QC. The project will modernize the store and includes a new facade and the reorganization of the interior to align with the Alma and Chicoutimi, QC, stores. The renovation is expected to complete in May, but the store will remain open to the public in the interim.


SANIFLO Retains New Sales Agency

Les Agences Lambert & Bégin Inc. will be the sales agency for SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, a manufacturer of macerating and grinding toilets, effective October 1. Les Agences Lambert & Bégin is an sales partner agency in the wholesale specialty plumbing industry.


Festool Launches ‘Trade Up to Festool’ Campaign

Festool has launched its ‘Trade Up to Festool’ campaign, which will run through October 31. Customers who buy a new, Festool 55-series saw or plunge router can send in any brand of used power tool, regardless of age or condition, and receive a $120 prepaid Mastercard. The promotion is the first of its kind for the company.


Challgren Leads Therma-Tru

Fenton Challgren is president of Therma-Tru Corp., part of Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. (FBHS). He joined Therma-Tru in December 2017 as vice-president, business development. Prior to joining the company, he was the president of Sipi Metals Corporation. He replaces Brett Finley, who is president of the newly-formed FBHS doors and security segment.


September 19, 2018

Home Hardware Welcomes Dealers

Home Hardware unrolled the red carpet for hundreds of dealers this past weekend for the annual ‘Fall Market.’ The event, which ran from September 16 to September 18, featured tours, sneak peeks at unreleased new products, and a look at the Beauti-Tone Paint colour of the year and Simon Chang’s ‘Colour Collection Card.’ The market is designed to provide a forum for seasonal product purchasing, dealer/owner and staff development, education, and information sharing. More than 3,000 dealer/owners and their staff attended the three-day event. As well, more than 3,500 representatives and vendors were on hand to demonstrate products and take orders. One of the highlights of the show was a model store which featured the latest in store design, signage, and display and merchandising techniques.


Circle Brand Rebrands

Circle Brand, a Canadian brand of professional-quality drywall tools and accessories that is known for its sponge-back sandpaper rolls, has redesigned its brand. The rebrand is inspired by the men and women who work hard and who have built the industry, says the company. It introduced a bright and vibrant colour pallet of teal and orange and the new packaging started its roll out in August. The rebrand also included the introduction of a brand slogan – Never Stops. The slogan reflects the hard work and grit each professional Circle Brand contractor embodies. The complete line of products and a dealer locator can now be found online with the launch of the company’s website – www.circlebrand.com. Dealers will find merchandising support including free-standing POP displays and in-store signage. Wallboard Trim & Tool is the exclusive distributor for the company.


Castle Launches Home Renovation Contest

Castle Building Centres Group Limited has launched its ‘Great Canadian Fall Home Renovation Contest’ which offers Castle customers the chance to win one of three $5,000 prizes towards a home improvement project from their Castle Building Centres location. The prize is good towards products or services. The contest closes November 15.


WD-40 Company Moves Secret Formula On 65th Anniversary

As it celebrates its 65th anniversary, WD-40 is moving its secret formula to a secure bank vault. The company entrusted secure logistics company Brink's to transport Garry Ridge, president and chief executive officer of WD-40 Company, handcuffed to a briefcase carrying the secret formula. The formula – which hasn't been touched by human hands in more than 15 years since the company's 50th anniversary – is the WD-40’s prized possession, filling iconic blue and yellow cans in 176 countries and territories worldwide. WD-40 Company was founded in 1953 as Rocket Chemical Company by three technicians looking for a rust-preventive solvent to protect missiles from corrosion. Today, it continues its research to develop ways to make the product better, as it has done for the past 65 years.


Boise Cascade To Sell Lumber Mills, Particleboard Operations

Boise Cascade Company will sell two lumber mills and its particleboard operations to Woodgrain Millwork. Included in the agreement are its northeast Oregon lumber mills in Pilot Rock and La Grande and the particleboard operations in Island City. The transaction will not include Boise Cascade’s plywood mill or the powerhouse and log utilization centre, based in Elgin, OR. Woodgrain, headquartered in Idaho, is a manufacturer and supplier of moulding, door shop products, and window parts


Mays Joins Whirpool Corp.

J Mays is vice-president and chief design officer at Whirlpool Corporation. Most recently, he was group vice-president of global design and chief creative officer at Ford Motor Company.


September 18, 2018

Sales Activity Faces Headwinds

Further expected interest rate increases, combined with this year's new federal mortgage stress test, are expected to continue to keep home sales activity in check over the rest of the year and into 2019, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service Systems of Canadian real estate boards and associations in 2018 and 2019. While economic and demographic fundamentals remain supportive for housing demand in many parts of the country, policy headwinds have impacted homebuyer sentiment and access to mortgage financing in many housing markets. When the new mortgage stress test was announced last October, it was expected that many homebuyers would expedite their purchases during the 2 1/2 month window before it took effect this year. In reality, the response to the new policy was stronger than expected. In December 2017, seasonally adjusted national home sales surged to the highest on record before dropping sharply in early 2018. With much of 2018 now in the rear-view mirror, the stress-test on all new mortgages continues to weigh on home sales. National activity is on track to hit a five-year low in 2018. While summer sales activity in and around the Greater Toronto Area showed signs of rebounding, this trend may be losing steam. Moreover, additional interest rate increases expected this year and in 2019 will continue to raise the bar that borrowers must clear to qualify for mortgage financing. Taking these factors into account, national sales are expected to decline by 9.8 per cent to 462,900 units in 2018. In 2019, national sales are forecast to rebound modestly by 2.1 per cent to 472,700 units, but remain below annual levels recorded in 2014 through 2017.


Stores Celebrated At Buying Show

Lowe’s Canada took advantage of the RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show to celebrate several RONA and Ace dealers: Dealers and suppliers honoured were: RONA Builder of Success program - Up and Comer: Nancy Powell-Quinn, RONA Moffatt & Powell (Exeter, London, Mitchell, Strathroy, Tillsonburg, ON) Community: RONA Forget (Mont-Tremblant, QC) Lifetime Achievement: Bruce Allen, RONA North Vancouver (North Vancouver, BC) Ace Builder of Success program - Up and Comer: Chad Camp, Ace County Farm Centre (Picton, ON) Community: Ace Armand Dumaresq matériaux de construction (Gaspé, QC) Lifetime Achievement: Bryon Calvert, Ace Hardware Beaverlodge (Beaverlodge, AB) Years as a RONA dealer - 25 years: RONA Roch Gauthier & Fils (Les Cèdres, QC) 30 years: RONA Cornwall (Cornwall, ON), RONA Ducharme & Frère (Saint-Césaire, QC), RONA Ferronnerie Meilleur (Ferme-Neuve, QC), RONA Forget (Mont-Tremblant, QC), RONA Matériaux Pont-Masson (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Maisonneuve (Montréal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Mario Gélineau (Saint-Hubert, QC), RONA Roch Gauthier & Fils (Saint-Polycarpe, QC), RONA Thomas Caya (Bon-Conseil, QC) 35 years: RONA Laurent Roy Gaspé (Gaspé, QC) 40 years: RONA Quincaillerie Berger (La Prairie, QC) 55 years: RONA Rosaire Mathieu (Wickham, QC) 70 years: RONA A. Fluet & Fils (Stanstead, QC) 75 years: RONA A. Champagne (Saint-Honoré-de-Shenley, QC); Business relationship with Ace Canada - 25 years: Doben’s Ace Hardware (Drayton, ON) Lowe’s Canada Supplier of the Year:- MTD


Stanley B&D Invests In MTD

Stanley Black & Decker will acquire a 20 per cent stake in MTD Products Inc., a privately held global manufacturer of outdoor power equipment. Stanley Black & Decker has the option to acquire the remaining 80 per cent of MTD in 2021. The company says the acquisition increases its presence in the $20 billion global lawn and market presence in a financially and operationally prudent way. It sees outdoor products as an attractive growth category to expand its presence beyond handheld electric products. Going forward, the two companies will work together to pursue revenue and cost opportunities, improve operational efficiency, and introduce products for professional and residential outdoor equipment customers, leveraging their respective portfolios of brands.


Castle Names Tough Trucks Winner

Glenn Tobin of Blackfalds, AB, is the winner of Castle Building Centres Group Limited’s ‘2018 Battle of the Tough Trucks’ contest. The contest was one of the largest in Castle’s history and received a record number of entries. Tobin picked up his entry ballot at Wolf Creek Building Supplies in Lacombe, AB, and entered online. His name was drawn from over 25,000 entries from across Canada and he won a Dodge Ram, which he says is his favourite ‘tough truck.’


HBC Has Slight Sales Increase

HBC had total sales of $2.2 billion for the second quarter of 2018, a decrease of two per cent over total sales in the second quarter of 2017. Total comparable sales declined 0.4 per cent year-over-year, with total comparable digital sales increasing 10.8 per cent. Net loss was $147 million for the quarter compared to $100 million in the prior year. Revenue was $2,160 million, a decrease of two per cent from the prior year. Adjusted EBITDAR was $119 million, an increase of $30 million compared to the prior year.


September 17, 2018

Buying Show Attracts 2,500

The 2019 RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show, presented by Lowe’s Canada, brought together over 330 suppliers and 300 dealers and their respective teams for three days of seminars, meetings, and business opportunities. With over 2,500 participants, the buying show gives Lowe’s Canada suppliers ‒ many of which are based in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada ‒ an opportunity to present new and existing products and services, as well as exclusive offers, to RONA and Ace Canada dealers across the country. A series of workshops ‒ a new addition to the event ‒ featured topics such as successful merchandising strategies, how to select seasonal and horticultural products for the 2019 season, seizing all the opportunities of eCommerce, making the best use of social media, and grappling with everyday human resources challenges. The show closed with a visit by Alexandre Tagliani ‒ the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race car driver whose 2018 season is sponsored by RONA. "Once again this year, we are delighted to have an enthusiastic response from our dealers, who were able to use this event to discover new suppliers and diversify their offering. By bringing together RONA and Ace dealers in one show, we are maximizing the strength of our network," says Antonio Cioffi, executive vice-president, finance, affiliate sealers and real estate." It took place at the Palais des congrès de Montréal from September 12 to 14.


Lower EI Premium Praised

The lower Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate is a welcome reprieve for small businesses, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The new employer rate of $2.27 per $100 of insurable earnings, a five cent reduction over last year, will offset some, but not all of the CPP cost increases coming employers' way in 2019. CFIB encourages the federal government to further alleviate payroll costs for small businesses by creating an EI tax credit for hiring and training employees; putting in place a permanent, lower EI rate for small businesses; gradually moving from an employer rate that is 1.4 times greater than the employee rate to a 50/50 split; and implementing an EI holiday for hiring youth.


Digital Technologies Key To Success

To stay competitive, businesses have to have a model which allows them to facilitate digital technologies and the internet, says William Priest, chief executive officer, co-chief information officer, and portfolio manager at Epoch, a global asset management firm. Speaking at the TD Asset Management ‘Investment Review Day 2018,’ he said the world is moving from atoms to bits, with disruptive technologies creating both opportunities and challenges for businesses. The digital age is the second industrial revolution and digital technologies are growing exponentially. Today, information can be recombined and reused in all ways with cloud technology, and this presents opportunities through data mining and cost reduction. Costs can be reduced by using technology to replace labour. For public companies, payout ratios will rise with decreased need for equity. Priest said companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix have been very successful in “substituting bits for atoms.” He thinks the Amazon model will go from ‘click, order, and send’ to a ‘send, keep, or return’ model. “They are building a knowledge base on [their customers] and one day they will just send you a box with things you need, plus a few extra things every month. You can send back what you don’t want for free, but likely you won’t.”


RPM International Acquires Nadura Corp.

RPM International Inc. has acquired Nudura Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of insulated concrete forms (ICF) in North America. Based in Barrie, ON, Nudura has annual net sales in excess of $40 million. Nudura provides four series of ICF wall systems, consisting of foam boards made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) and integral hinged plastic webs that hold both sides of the boards together. Concrete is then poured into the form to make an insulated concrete wall system. Nudura also offers a range of complementary building envelope products. The company has three manufacturing plants and an extensive network of 260 locally based professional distributors in key North American markets. Nudura will operate within the RPM specialty products group as a stand-alone operating unit of RPM’s Dryvit business. Dryvit is a manufacturer of exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) in North America.


Dollarama Sales Increase

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $868.5 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 6.9 per cent over sales of $812.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Comparable store sales grew 2.6 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin was 39.7 per cent of sales, compared to 39.6 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. EBITDA grew 7.9 per cent to $225.8 million, or 26 per cent of sales, compared to 25.7 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings for the quarter were $141.8 million compared to $131.8 million in the year-ago period.


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