French home improvement supplier Alpagroup sets up in North America

Alpagroup, a French group and European supplier in the furniture and home improvement industry, has made its official launch in North America, headed by general manager Maxime Lebon (shown here).

Alpagroup is already a key supplier to many of Europe’s home goods and home improvement retailers, including IKEA, Leroy Merlin, Brico Depot, Castorama, B&Q, and Roche Bobois.

In North America, Alpagroup is backed by seven divisions that represent a range of products, including flooring, storage, bathroom and outdoor furniture, and custom B2B furniture.

LBMAO’s AGM and gala brings Ontario industry members together

The Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario held its annual general meeting yesterday, followed by a dinner. Members, both dealers and suppliers from across the province, gathered at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake to share ideas that will propel the association into the future.

In its AGM, the board reported that the association ended the year ahead of budget and is looking at developing a program in 2024 of site visits to suppliers’ facilities to increase product awareness among its dealer members. (Any suppliers interested in hosting a factory tour are invited to contact the LBMAO’s president, Trevor Small.)

Canadian shoppers to spend 15 percent more this holiday season: Retail Council of Canada

The Retail Council of Canada has published the summary of its annual RCC X Leger Holiday Shopping Survey. In a survey of the evolving patterns of over 2,500 Canadians, the country’s shoppers are projected to spend on average $898 each this holiday season—80 percent of that in gifts.

This is up almost 15 percent from the $782 per shopper forecast last year. Clothing (17 percent) is the lead spending category, followed closely by home entertainment and food and alcohol, at 16 percent each.

Rainbow Bridge car explosion was a lumber dealer, not a terrorist

A car swerved out of control, crashed, and exploded at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing last week, quickly becoming an international incident. The bridge spans the Niagara River between New York state and Ontario at Niagara Falls.

Because it’s one of the most travelled routes between the two countries, concerns quickly arose that the explosion was terrorist related. Coverage of the incident filled TV news stations on both sides of the border. However, in the end, the circumstances, while no less tragic, did not have international security implications.

It turns out the car, a Bentley Flying Spur, was owned by Kurt Villani, who was accompanied by his wife Monica. They lived in Grand Island, on the Niagara River between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y. Villani and his wife were not terrorists but the owners of Gui’s Lumber, a dealer with seven Ace Hardware stores in western New York.

Headed for Canada, the Villanis’ car raced out of control on the American side of the border crossing, hit a median, then crashed into a row of security booths on the U.S. side and exploded. While the investigation continues into this incident, certain versions of the Bentley Flying Spur have been the subject of recalls, due to their gas pedals getting stuck.

Giant Tiger opens Toronto-area location

Giant Tiger Stores has opened a new location in Vaughan, Ont., just north of Toronto. The 18,875-square-foot store will hold a grand opening on Dec. 2, which will include a visit from Santa Claus.

Regal ideas makes changes to its sales force

At Regal ideas, Joe Jacklin has been promoted to national sales director in Canada. Continuing on his launch of the company’s DeckStar Contractor program, he will be responsible for managing the Canadian landscape and working closely with the dealers.

Brandon Taylor has joined Regal ideas as territory manager for southwestern Ontario. He comes over after a role at Nuvo Iron managing Ontario. He replaces Clifton Phelps, who has retired.

Laurence Ballen has joined Regal ideas as territory manager for British Columbia. Ballen’s previous experience includes an extensive business development background with retailers such as Sherwin Williams.

Throwback Thursday: 20 years ago, Castle hired dealer recruitment specialist Mike Frame

Throwback Thursday is a regular weekly feature in which we dip into the Hardlines Weekly Report archives.

On Oct. 27, 2003, we reported that Castle had hired dealer development specialist Mike Frame from RONA.

We wrote:

“The hiring of Mike Frame marks another step in the growth of Castle’s commitment to dealer recruitment. It’s also the first step in establishing a succession plan for Castle Building Centres.

“Frame started last week as part of the dealer development team under Castle’s national business development manager, Ron Marchetti. He will handle Eastern Ontario while Marchetti will now confine his coverage of the province to the West, until his retirement next August.”

(Pictured l-r: Mike Frame and Ron Marchetti in 2003.)


Home Depot Canada renews campaign to support homeless youth

The Home Depot Canada launched its 15th bi-annual Orange Door Project fundraising campaign this week, combating youth homelessness across Canada. Continuing until Dec. 17, the campaign will collaborate with local charities to support ongoing initiatives aimed at providing safe, stable housing and life skills development programs to help youth with tools to exit homelessness. The company will cover all administrative costs associated with the campaign, ensuring that every dollar raised directly benefits each local community.

Staff across all 182 Home Depot stores will be actively involved, empowering them to make a tangible difference in these vital community efforts. The Foundation recently set a new target of raising $125 million by 2030.

Since the program’s inception in 2009, the Foundation has raised over $18 million for youth across Canada, and hopes to raise $900,000 this holiday season.

Rodbell rejoins Hudson’s Bay in top job

Liz Rodbell has rejoined Hudson’s Bay as president and CEO, effective Dec. 1. Rodbell previously served as the retailer’s president from 2013 to 2017, being appointed to the top position after serving as chief merchant. She replaces Sophia Hwang-Judiesch, who is, says the company in a release, “stepping down from her role as president of Hudson’s Bay to pursue another opportunity.”

Under Rodbell’s previous tenure, Hudson’s Bay’s sales rose 22 percent.

Mastermind Toys obtains creditor protection

Mastermind Toys, the specialty toy and children’s book retailer, has obtained creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act from the Ontario Superior Court. All 66 stores across Canada remain open for business, however the company was forced to seek creditor protection after several years of challenges including increasing competition, disruptions from Covid, and what it calls “a deteriorating macro-economic environment.”

During the CCAA proceedings, Mastermind Toys intends to seek the Court’s authorization to commence a store closure process for an initial group of stores, while it explores strategic alternatives for the remaining outlets.