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April 4, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #14
  • What every home improvement leader can learn from John Herbert
  • Home Hardware restructures its VPs into “executive leadership team”
  • Hardlines Survey shows dealers cite supply chain issues as biggest concern
  • Housing market forecast: unit sales slow, but prices keep rising

PLUS: Kent opens big box in Moncton, newest Princess Auto is in Quebec, Lowe’s Canada named business awards finalist, TORBSA’s second Virtual Vendor Expo, new manager roles at Embassy Tiles, Dollarama bumps up prices, True Value acquires paint business, CertainTeed Canada installs heat recovery technology, U.S. retail sales, and more!

What every home improvement leader can learn from John Herbert  

John Herbert has worked in home improvement retailing for four decades, ascending to leadership roles on both sides of the Atlantic.

As leader of the European DIY Retail Association (EDRA), an umbrella organization for DIY associations internationally, Herbert has worked tirelessly to unite this industry’s top companies and create an environment of camaraderie, best practices, and professional support. Eventually, his efforts to unite the industry pushed beyond the European Union with the formation of the Global Home Improvement Network (GHIN).

Now, those organizations, along with their counterpart representing suppliers, the Home Improvement Manufacturers Association (HIMA), have named Herbert as the industry’s Global DIY-Lifetime Award winner for 2022.

Who is John Herbert? He’s been in retailing since 1956, and in the home improvement and DIY industry since 1983. He gained notoriety for the advances made under his leadership of Knauber, a regional home improvement chain based in Bonn, Germany. Herbert’s stores were so advanced, using big box merchandising techniques, product assortment, and even wayfinding through the store, that they drew curious visitors from all over the world. Executives from Canadian Tire, Home Depot, and Home Hardware were just some of the Canadian retail leaders who travelled to Germany to walk the aisles at Knauber.

In 2001, Herbert was lured away by Bob Nardelli, then president at Home Depot, for a brief stint as West Coast president of that retailer’s Home Depot Expo Design Center business. But disillusioned by the leadership there, he soon returned to Germany to head up that nation’s DIY retail association.

He gradually expanded this role to become an international voice for the sector, connecting with the leaders of the top home improvement companies around the world and bringing them together. That includes presenting at the Hardlines Conference on more than one occasion. (During one of those visits, the president of Home Depot Canada at the time, Annette Verschuren, tried to convince Herbert to join her team.)

Most recently, Herbert’s efforts to bring the industry together included the sharing of messages from retail leaders in Ukraine and Russia concerning the devastation of the war between those two countries (see our March 15 edition of Hardlines—Editor).

Herbert knows how to look beyond his own market and the daily concerns that tether every business, retail or not, and instead to look for, and be part of, a bigger picture. Canadian retailers, by virtue of both this country’s geographic isolation from key European and Asian markets and its corresponding proximity to the dominant U.S. market, are often too fixated on their own market, or distracted by corresponding retailers south of the border.

With the curiosity and desire to explore new ideas and meet new people, Herbert has demonstrated true leadership through many years working on behalf of home improvement retailing. That’s something any business leader could learn from.

The apogee of Herbert’s efforts was the development of the Global DIY-Summit, launched in 2010 and inspired by our own Hardlines Conference. Now, Herbert will be honoured during this year’s Summit at a gala dinner on June 9 in Copenhagen.

(Ready to meet this industry’s top retail leaders? Join Hardlines at this year’s Global DIY-Summit, June 8-10 in Copenhagen.)

Home Hardware restructures its VPs into “executive leadership team”


Home Hardware announced last week the appointment of a new chief legal officer, but it was just one part of a wider range of changes within the executive team. While duties for the company’s senior leaders don’t change in most cases, their titles will change effective April 11.

“This restructuring,” said the company in a release, “will see members of Home Hardware’s current Leadership Team change to a newly formed Executive Leadership Team.”

For example, senior vice-president, merchandise Marianne Thompson will trade that title for chief merchandising officer. Scott Bryant, currently vice-president, HR, will become chief human resources officer.

CFO Sean MacCormack’s title remains unchanged. But Gino Gualtieri, currently VP for IT, will become chief information officer. Rob Wallace, VP, retail operations, will be chief retail operations officer. And John Dyksterhuis, who is now VP logistics and manufacturing, will be assigned the title of chief supply chain officer. Laura Baker, VP marketing, will, become chief marketing officer.

Meanwhile, Home Hardware’s chief legal officer role has been given to William Zeyl. Most recently VP, legal, at Canadian Tire Financial Services, Zeyl will oversee Home Hardware’s legal and compliance team and be responsible for company-wide legal, corporate governance, and regulatory compliance. Effective April 25, following Home Hardware’s annual general meeting, Zeyl will also be appointed corporate secretary, replacing Dianne McTavish, who moves to the role of VP, corporate records.

(Click here to see the full list of executives and their title changes.)

Hardlines Survey shows that supply chain issues are dealers’ biggest concern


Getting product on the shelves has become the biggest concern for dealers and managers in Canada, according to the latest data from Hardlines.

The 2022 Hardlines Retail Report Survey was sent to retail owners and managers across Canada earlier this year. Stores surveyed included hardware stores, building centres, and big boxes. Responses indicated how their retail sales have grown through the pandemic, while gauging the impact of other conditions on their businesses.

The survey revealed that 93 percent of dealers and managers considered availability of product as their biggest concern. Another 37 percent indicated a parallel issue, sourcing and product shortages, as their biggest worry. The prominence of these two issues combined reflects the widespread impact of worldwide product shortages on stores everywhere.

The next most cited response reflects another side of the business—recruiting. Fully 45 percent of respondents indicated that staffing was their biggest concern. Other issues keeping dealers awake at night included succession, at 12 percent, followed by online and e-commerce sales, cited by 10 percent of respondents. Just over eight percent cited supplier consolidation as a concern.

(The data from the Hardlines Retail Report Survey will be used to produce this year’s Hardlines Retail Report, our annual research report on the size and growth of Canada’s retail home improvement industry. It will be available in July. Click here for more info or to pre-order the Hardlines Retail Report for yourself.)

Housing market forecast: unit sales slow, but prices keep rising 

While home prices continue to climb at a dizzying pace, sales have slowed somewhat during the first part of the year, and that’s due largely to lack of supply.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity, as tracked through the Multiple Listing Service used by the Canadian real estate industry. Home sales have kicked off 2022 below 2021 levels, but strong demand faces lower levels of housing than ever before.

CREA’s latest report notes that the ongoing housing supply shortage may well be exacerbated by higher interest rates. Discounted five-year mortgage rates have already begun to rise and are now back above pre-COVID-19 levels. In the face of rising inflation, the Bank of Canada announced a quarter-point hike in early March. More increases are expected through the year.

Another wild card is the housing policy changes announced in last year’s federal election campaign. CREA is waiting for more clarity on the possible impacts following the release of the Federal Budget later this spring.

With all these considerations, the association forecasts that about 612,800 properties will trade hands in 2022. That would mark an 8.1 percent decline from last year, but it would still be the second-highest annual figure ever—by a sizeable margin.

The national average home price is now forecast to rise by 14.3 percent on an annual basis to $786,000 in 2022.

Looking out to 2023, home sales are forecast to remain historically strong but will begin to stabilize at last, and edge back 2.7 percent to 596,150 units. Limited supply, higher prices, and higher interest rates are expected to further tap the brakes on activity and price growth in 2023 compared to 2022, particularly in Canada’s most expensive markets.

People on the Move

At Exchange-A-Blade, Scott Coates has been named director of sales and marketing for North American operations. Coates brings over 20 years of experience to the role, having worked for Stanley Black & Decker, Newell Rubbermaid, and most recently Techtronic Industries.

Home Hardware Stores Ltd. has appointed Keri McMillan as director, sales and service marketing. McMillan has been manager of marketing operations since 2020. In her new role, she will be responsible for Beaver Homes & Cottages, architectural solutions, home installs, and commercial sales. She reports to marketing VP Laura Baker.


... that we keep coming up with information products to help you run your business better? Besides the Hardlines weekly, we have a newsletter just for dealers and store managers. Our newest publication, Hardlines HR Advisor, is a dedicated to helping retailers and suppliers alike deal with the people side of your business. And, of course, you have to check out our amazing Podcast Series! Make sure you’re signed up for them all!


Kent Building Supplies has opened its latest big box store, this time in Moncton, N.B. The company says this location features modernized displays and enhanced signage to aid customer flow, along with expanded product assortments, a drive-through lumber yard, year-round garden centre, cut shop, and a large pro service desk. There’s also a bigger online pickup area than in existing stores.

Lowe’s Canada has been named a finalist in the Mercuriades 2022 business awards in the sustainable development category. The company has invested nearly $30-million in its energy efficiency strategy since launching it in 2018.

TORBSA will hold its second annual Virtual Vendor Expo from May 16 to 27, in addition to the in-person vendor event returning this year. The online expo will welcome dozens of TORBSA’s preferred suppliers to showcase their newest products, while offering show specials to the shareholder members.

Dollarama will raise its highest price point to $5 from $4 over the coming year, despite growing profits. Net earnings for Q4 rose to almost $220-million, or $0.74 per share, compared to $173.9-million ($0.56) a year earlier. Sales of $1.2-billion represented an 11 percent increase from the previous Q4, as the discount retailer expanded its store network. Comp sales were up 5.7 percent.

True Value Co. is acquiring the consumer paint business of and The Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corp., an Ohio-based coatings manufacturer. The division produces architectural coatings for home, agricultural, and specialty applications under the Majic brand name.

The newest Princess Auto store has opened in Saint-Hubert, Que. The grand opening was held March 29.


Saint-Gobain is investing $4-million through its subsidiary CertainTeed Canada to install heat recovery technology at its Vancouver gypsum plant. A heat exchanger will capture and recycle some of the warm air emitted from the plant’s industrial dryer. The process will allow the dryer to maintain its temperature while reducing the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions.


The national average home price is forecast to rise by a modest 3.2 percent on an annual basis to just under $811,000 in 2023. (Canadian Real Estate Association)


Home Depot in the U.S. cut its overall workforce by 2.8 percent in the fiscal year ended Jan. 30, while increasing the number of salaried employees by 19.9 percent. According to the company’s 10-K annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it had 490,600 employees at the end of fiscal 2021, versus 504,800 a year earlier. By comparison, Lowe’s workforce fell nine percent to 200,000 while full-time employees increased 40 percent to 140,000.

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