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News

October 5, 2017

Canadian SMB Retailers Optimistic

Despite political and economic disquiet around the globe, 76 per cent of Canadian retail small and medium business (SMB) owners are optimistic about their future business prospects, up 20 per cent from last year, says the second annual ‘SMB Optimism Index’ report from eBay Canada. Three-quarters also believe that Canada is a good country in which to run their business. In fact, SMBs overall scored 75 out of a 100-point index scale ranking their level of optimism from zero (the most pessimistic) to 100 (the most optimistic) – one full point higher than last year, indicating an upward trend in optimism. Factors that continue to contribute to the optimism momentum include online and omni-channel sales strategies as SMB owners leveraging these tactics are more likely than their counterparts to be optimistic across all business performance factors measured in the report. As for challenges, those most commonly reported by Canadian SMB owners include tough domestic competition (37 per cent), low margins (36 per cent), and a small customer base in Canada (34 per cent), with more entrepreneurs reporting these challenges this year versus last year. Canadian eBay commercial sellers indexed two points higher than the average retail SMB and reported greater participation in exporting and omni-channel strategies.


Home Depot Recognizes Innovative Products

Home Depot has recognized innovative products that save customers time and money and make everyday tasks easier. The ‘Home Depot 2017 Innovation Award Winners’ first place winner is LifeProof Vinyl Plank Flooring, a vinyl flooring product with the look of hardwood. First runner-up is the Dewalt Max Flexvolt, a cordless tool system that automatically changes voltage when you change tools. Second runner-up is Ring's Floodlight Cam, a floodlight that turns on by motion sensors which also turn on a high-definition camera. Honourable mentions include the Petproof Carpet which resists stains and offers softness and extreme durability. Rio Daplendia is a drought-resistant annual bloom that originates from the mountains above Rio de Janero. Pure Safety is a certified asthma and allergy-friendly insulation that is mold and mildew resistant.


Home Hardware Truck Drivers Raise Money

Eleven truck drivers from Home Hardware Stores Limited recently participated in a truck convoy in Ontario and Nova Scotia. The ‘World's Largest Truck Convoy’ is in support of the Special Olympics. It is a one-day event where police escort a convoy of trucks through designated areas. Home Hardware truck drivers participated in two convoys. The first convoy met in Paris, ON, and were escorted on a pre-determined route before returning to the Paris Fairgrounds. The second convoy began in Shearwater, NS, and travelled through Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, and Eastern Passage before returning back to Shearwater. In total, the convoy event raised $130,000.


SOPREMA Breaks Ground On XPS Plant

SOPREMA has broken ground on a manufacturing facility in Sherbrooke, QC. The 178,000-square-foot facility will be the first SOPREMA extruded polystyrene insulation manufacturing plant in North America. Extruded polystyrene (XPS), known as rigid styrofoam, is a closed-cell foam insulation made of rigid, flat panels. It is mainly used as thermal insulation for foundation systems, parking lots, and reverse roofs, including rooftops and green roofs. The SOPREMA Group operates four industrial sites in Europe that specialize in this technology. Over the past few years, SOPREMA Canada has sought to improve its product lines and extend its expertise to areas other than waterproofing, particularly by producing high-performance energy-saving, low-environmental impact insulation. The plant should be in operation next year.


SaaS Company Offers Omni-channel Solutions

Dallas-based entrepreneur Jeff Zisk has launched a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, Snowfall Technologies LLC. The company will offer two SaaS solutions to omni-channel retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. One offering is Jazz Central, a distributed order management (DOM) solution built on a modern technology stack to provide retailers with a complete set of omni-channel features and functionality in a single platform. Additionally, Mia, the company’s AI middleware technology solution, is designed to enhance the customer’s shopping experience, marketing, merchandising, and operations by thinking and behaving like a human. Mia uses both structured and unstructured data to personalize the shopping experience and provides tools to intelligently target shoppers and create significant operating efficiencies.


October 4, 2017

Home Hardware Presents ‘Communities In Bloom’ Awards

Home Hardware Stores Limited awarded two recipients with the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ at the ‘23rd Edition of the Communities in Bloom National & International Awards Ceremonies.’ The village of Pugwash, NS, received the ‘Home Hardware Community Involvement Award’ and was awarded the ‘5 Blooms – Silver’ rating by Communities in Bloom. The Village of Ashcroft, BC, received the ‘Home Hardware Beauti-Tone Heritage Conservation Award’ and was honoured the ‘5 Blooms – Bronze’ rating by Communities in Bloom. For a complete list of the results, visit www.communitiesinbloom.ca


CanWel Completes Honsador Acquisition

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. has completed its acquisition of the Honsador Building Products group of companies. The transaction has resulted in Honsador becoming an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of CanWel and Honsador's operations have been combined with CanWel's North American platform. "I am very pleased with our ability to identify and close on such a great acquisition based on the strength of the business, and the natural fit which now further strengthens and expands our presence on the west coast of the U.S.," says Amar S. Doman, CEO of CanWel. Founded in 1935, Honsador is a distributor of building products and electrical supplies.


Wolseley Acquires Tackaberry

Wolseley Canada Inc. has acquired Tackaberry Heating Supplies Limited. Tackaberry is an HVAC/R distributor and sheet metal fabricator with four locations in eastern Ontario. With the purchase, Wolseley now operates in Belleville, ON, and has an expanded presence in Brockville, Cornwall, and Kingston, ON. The Tackaberry branches will continue to operate under the Tackaberry brand for the immediate future.


Park Has New Role

Dan Park is chief operating officer of BuildDirect. Previously, he was general manager and commercial vertical leader of Amazon Business. His role will be to accelerate its transition from an eCommerce business to an AI-driven platform business (inclusive of the BuildDirect Marketplace and The Gateway Supply Chain). Jim Hourigan is chief supply chain officer and president of Gateway. He joined BuildDirect in 2009 and was, most recently, chief operating officer. Suzanne Mercier is chief legal and people officer. Previously, she was general counsel.


October 3, 2017

Sears Files To Sell Subsidiary

In addition to its September 29 request for approval from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to close stores and a fulfillment centre, Sears Canada has filed motion materials for the sale of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Corbeil Électrique Inc. Am-Cam Électroménagers Inc., the proposed buyer, intends to continue to operate the business including the franchise network of stores.


Giant Tiger Opens Ontario Distribution Centre

Giant Tiger Stores Limited has opened a state-of-the-art distribution centre in the township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, ON. The 600,000-square-foot facility will house warehouse and office space and will phase-in operations starting January. Design elements include lots of natural light, a gym and games room, an apple orchard, upgraded racking and machinery, and a robotic system. The company says the facility is part of its overall growth strategy and plans to have the facility fully operational by summer 2018.


3M Makes Appointments

Paul Keel is senior vice-president, business development and marketing-sales, with 3M. Previously, he was senior vice-president, supply chain. Jon Lindekugel is senior vice-president, supply chain. Before this, he was senior vice-president, business development and marketing-sales.


Retail Transformation Theme Of Conference

Navigating through modern-day retail transformation is the theme of Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘Retail West’ conference. This one-day event will address the potential impact of the proposed import duties being lobbied for in NAFTA negotiations, the importance of branding, the needs of the consumer, and emerging technologies. It takes place October 12 in Vancouver, BC. For more information, visit http://retailwest.ca


October 2, 2017

Sears Canada Closing More Stores

Sears Canada Inc. will seek from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approval of transactions in respect of 11 of its leased retail store locations, one leased fulfillment centre, one of its owned properties, and two going-concern transactions. The company has entered into a number of lease surrender agreements and a lease amending agreement that will result in the exit of the retail locations including Scarborough Town Centre, Toronto, ON; Polo Park, Winnipeg, MB; and Avalon Mall, St. John's, NL. The company will also be seeking an extension of the stay period to November 7. During the stay period, Sears Canada will continue to operate its retail stores and website as it continues its restructuring efforts. On August 31, Brandon Stranzl, executive chairman of Sears Canada 2017, put forward a potential going concern bid. Sears Canada advisors continue to engage with Stranzl with the goal of enhancing the value and reducing the conditionality of the proposed transaction.


Goulard Joins RONA Network

Goulard Building Supplies Limited has joined Lowe’s Canada’s RONA dealer network. The business has two locations in northern Ontario. The Sturgeon Falls location is the parent store and boasts 10,000 square feet of retail space as well as a 1.5-acre lumberyard. The satellite store, located in Warren, has a retail sales area of approximately 3,500 square feet and a 12,000-square-foot lumberyard. Established in 1957, Goulard Building Supplies is now in its fourth generation of Goulards, with Charles Goulard completing his succession purchase in late 2015.


Walmart Opens Supercentre In Longueuil

Walmart Canada has opened its Montérégie Supercentre in Longueuil, QC. This is the first prototype store in Quebec featuring Scan & Go and grocery pickup service. The Scan & Go technology allows customers to pick up a portable barcode scanner as soon as they enter the store. While they shop, they can scan the items they wish to purchase as they go along. An itemized receipt will be displayed on the portable scanner, allowing them to keep track of their budget. Once at the checkout, they can proceed with the payment. The grocery pickup service means customers can order groceries online and pick up the purchase at the store at their desired time slot. The groceries will be packed in advance and placed in the customer's car when they arrive. The store's design has been renewed with a modern colour palette and revised signage. Checkouts have three-way conveyor belts making it easier to fill reusable shopping bags.


September 29, 2017

Hurricanes Contribute To Pending Home Sales Drop

Signed contracts to buy existing homes in the U.S. fell 2.6 per cent in August compared to July, the fifth drop in the past six months and below expectations, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Its pending home sales index is now down the same amount compared to August of 2016, hitting the lowest level since January of that year. “The housing market has essentially stalled,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. He lowered his forecast for full-year existing home sales to 5.44 million, which is 0.2 per cent below 2016's pace. The original prediction last January for 2017 was 5.57 million, an increase of 2.2 per cent compared to 2016. A consistent drop in supply and spike in home prices are largely to blame for the change, but two devastating hurricanes only added to the weakness. The supply and affordability headwinds would have likely held sales growth just a tad above last year, but coupled with the temporary effects from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, sales in 2017 will fall slightly below last year, says Yun.


Retail Sales Hit Record High

Canadian retail sales reached their highest consecutive three-month average in more than 10 years in the three months ending July, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total Canadian retail sales reached 8.4 per cent year over year for the three months ending July also setting the three-month growth trend at a record high and pulling up the underlying 12-month trend along with it. Total retail is up six per cent on a last 12-month basis – a nine-year high. While the automotive and related sector provided the highest contribution to overall retail growth, store retail (excluding automotive) showed improved performance, especially in the store merchandise sector, which was a pleasant surprise, says Strapagiel. The building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers showed particularly strong performance with an increase of 15.6 per cent.


Transparency, Trust Vital To Consumers

Eighty-three per cent of consumers globally rate transparency and ethical behaviour as vital to building trust, says SAI Global's inaugural ‘Consumer Trust Index.’ Topping the list at 88 per cent is a reputation for good quality products and services. “Taking an intelligent approach to dealing with organizational risk is critically important for businesses to ensure continued success,” says Peter Granat, CEO of SAI Global. “With technology rapidly altering and expanding public access to information, understanding consumer trust and knowing how to protect it is imperative.” The index indicates that 43 per cent of customers would never return to a company following a data breach. Poor customer experience (31 per cent) and poor treatment of employees (29 per cent) would also keep customers away. Some key areas that can help businesses minimize loss of trust include to handle failure well, embed a risk-aware culture, and take an intelligent risk approach.


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