RONA forges licensing & distribution deals with Ace Hardware

BOUCHERVILLE, Que. & OAK BROOK, Ill. — RONA has picked up the option for the Ace Hardware name and programs in Canada, ensuring a continued foothold in this country for the giant Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op. Ace is winding down a long-term licensing deal with TIM-BR MART Group, after both sides cited dissatisfaction with the relationship.

The new, long-term agreement gives RONA the rights to the Ace brand and lets it tap into Ace’s retail operating systems and web portals.

But the partnership doesn’t end there. RONA has also signed a long-term distribution agreement with Ace’s International division, giving RONA access to products available through Ace Hardware’s various channels of distribution. These include Ace International’s Shanghai distribution centre, which ships container loads of products to Ace dealers around the world.

The new agreements are seen as yet another way that RONA is bolstering its support for independent dealers, with the addition of one more banner for them to choose from in the marketplace and a wider range of products and programs to choose from.

“Today’s announcement is a clear indication of our commitment to continue to develop and improve our network of affiliated dealer stores in Canada,” says Robert Sawyer, president and CEO of RONA. “This agreement will enable us to improve our offering to small dealers across the country, to leverage our existing distribution infrastructure, and to strengthen our portfolio of banners.”

RONA’s own dealers were notified of the agreement yesterday afternoon.

About 120 dealers in Canada carry the Ace banner on their stores, and nearly 100 of them are in Quebec. They carry Ace either by itself or in tandem with another banner, usually TIMBERMART, reflecting TIM-BR MART Group’s long-time relationship with Ace.

While Ace’s existing deal with TIM-BR MART Group does not expire until August 31, RONA area reps are already presenting the Ace package to Ace dealers in some parts of the country.