"Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done." - James Ling (U.S. business executive, b. 1922)
vol. viii, #17 April 29, 2002  
* Réno-Dépôt looks for more Toronto sites * Hudson’s Bay missed boat on home improvement, says CEO * Sodisco-Howden down to one show * Masonite profits almost double in 1Q

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Montréal, QC - Réno-Dépôt's building pace for its Building Box stores will slow a bit this year, with only one new store planned for 2002, compared with three last year. It will open in Windsor, ON on May 18. But the company is still committed to a plan that will give it up to 15 Building Box stores in Ontario within the next two years. Last year's openings were in Brampton, London and Mississauga, ON. But according to Sylvain Toutant, president and CEO of Réno-Dépôt, the company is committed to continued growth in the Greater Toronto Area, and is currently considering three sites, all of them south of Highway 401, and between Highway 427 and the Don Valley Parkway. Réno-Dépôt wants 20%-25% of the GTA - "That's our main focus," says Toutant. Expansion farther west, or even in the Maritimes, is at least three years out, until Ontario expansion has reached an adequate level. "We're really busy building critical mass in Ontario."
Montréal, QC - Sodisco-Howden Group will hold only one show for its dealers this year. The market will be held November 1-3 in Montréal, at the Place Bonaventure. It replaces one show for Sodisco dealers that was traditionally held in Québec City and two shows held last year in Toronto for Howden dealers. According to Celine Gamache, vice-president, marketing and business development for SHG, the move reflects SHG's efforts to consolidate effectively its Sodisco division, which serves Québec from Victoriaville, and the London, ON-based Howden division, that serves the rest of Canada. "Our aim is to bring people back to the new reality, which is one company. By bringing people together in one show, it reinforces our role as a true national distributor," she says. The event will be offered in two languages, though details of how that will be handled have not been worked out. Gamache expects either simultaneous translation, or combined French-English presentations, or a combination of both. Some seminars may be offered twice, once in each language. The company will send out a mailing to its dealers and vendors by mid-May confirming details of the new show. She would not speculate on how many dealers are expected to attend the new combined event.
Toronto, ON - Customers will spend more on home and home-related products, and less on "vanity" items like fashion apparel, George Heller told a meeting of the Empire Club last Thursday. The president and CEO of Hudson's Bay Co. pointed out that households grew 24% in the last decade, while the population grew by only 14%. This growth is fuelling tremendous demand for home improvement and décor products, a trend he admits HBC was slow to jump on. Like other department store chains, too much emphasis was placed on high-margin fashion, while consumers were pouring dollars into their homes. But he expects to capture market share, especially through expansion of the company's specialty retail format, Home Outfitters. There are currently 22 open across the country, with 16 more openings planned for this year. Meanwhile, both The Bay and Zellers have expanded their big ticket offerings in electronics, appliances and even RTA furniture. In an interview with Hardlines, Heller said the new Erin Mills Zellers store in Mississauga, ON is a prototype for sales of high-end products, such as $3,500 wide-screen televisions and quality patio furniture. While the Zellers hardware department will continue to offer convenience assortments, the range of home and lifestyle products will continue to increase.
Canadian Tire 31.85 18.50 29.48
Canfor 12.60 8.08 10.20
Emco 9.89 3.35 10.38
Goodfellow 11.90 8.00 10.51
Home Depot 53.73 30.30 48.09
Hudson's Bay 20.10 12.50 12.95
Lowe's Cos. 48.88 24.99 42.87
Sears Canada 25.00 12.50 23.10
Sodisco-Howden 2.63 0.75 1.87
Taiga Forest 12.75 7.35 12.00
West Fraser 44.42 26.13 41.00
Weak demand and softwood duties resulted in lowered profits for Weyerhaeuser Co. in its first quarter. Net earnings dropped to US$30 million from US$107 million a year earlier. Excluding extraordinary and nonrecurring charges, 2002 first quarter earnings were US$58 million, compared with US$139 million for the same period last year. Net sales for the first quarter 2002 were US$4 billion compared with $3.6 billion for first quarter last year. Its 2002 results include Willamette operations since February 12. For the second quarter ended February 28, 2002, Goodfellow Inc. had a net profit of $111,000, compared with a loss of $224,000 in last year's second quarter. Sales reached $101.3 million, up from $91.5 million a year earlier. Mild winter conditions in eastern North America, low interest rates and a strong housing market helped buoy up sales. Sales for the first six months were $210.9 million, up 6% from $198.8 million a year earlier, while net earnings rose to $1.3 million, up from $1.1 million. Home Depot's largest Expo Design Center yet opened on Saturday in Chicago. The 137,500-sq.ft. outlet will be the largest of the five stores in the Chicago area - and the first within the city limits. This urban store will feature more high-end items, including brand names such as Versace. Wal-Mart is introducing used car sales, using the name Price 1 Auto. The company plans to lease property adjacent to five of its stores in the Houston, TX area to a Connecticut-based car sales company for six months. Fuelled by a strong housing market in both Canada and the U.S., Masonite International's Q1 net income rose to US$16.1 million, compared with last year's US$8.7 million. Sales were up 19% to US$380.6 million. Weyerhaeuser Co. is part of a group of companies that has launched an ad campaign in retaliation to duties being imposed on softwood lumber being exported to the U.S. The group, which includes Home Depot and Lowe's Cos., is running the ads in magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Called "Friends and allies for more than 100 years. Why not now for lumber?," the campaign, was launched last Wednesday. Ikea will concentrate more on branding itself, with plans to do more to promote the names of its designers. Different furniture lines at Ikea currently bear the names of the designers of those lines. The company sells 10,000 items in its stores worldwide, including 23 in North America. The Hoover Co. has entered into a strategic alliance with Friendly Robotics to jointly design and develop a robotic vacuum cleaner for residential use. Friendly, a privately held robotics concern based in Israel, is best known for its Robomower line of fully automatic lawn mowers, designed for domestic lawns.
After four months of strong growth, retail sales remained flat in February, down 0.1% to $25.2 billion, says Stats Canada. Sales gains in January and in the last three months of 2001 were all above 1.0%. In January and February 2002, retailers posted their highest year-over-year increases (+6.9%) since July 2000. In contrast, American retail sales in February were up 2.9% from February 2001. The housing market for Toronto is expected to remain at record highs, as new housing starts are expected to break records, jumping from 40,846 in 2001 to a projected 47,000 this year. Increases are forecast for both single and multiple starts. The resale market is also expected to remain strong, reaching 74,000, up from 67,612 last year. Stats Canada reports the greenhouse, sod and nursery industries grew 6.4% from 2000 to 2001, with total sales $1.856 billion. Slower expansion is attributed to higher energy costs and the levelling-off of flower sales.
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