Home Depot Canada holds conference for installer partners
TORONTO-Home Depot has affirmed its commitment to the installed side of its business with a training and education forum that attracted 1,000 contractors and installers from across Canada last week. The two-day event, held at the Congress Centre Feb. 16-17, featured presentations by everyone from Annette Verschuren, the president of Home Depot Canada, to the company's celebrity contractor spokesperson, Mike Holmes. It was also the launching pad for a new home installation showcase featuring 40 vendors whose products are part of the installed services offered by Home Depot. "It's a trade show for our installers," said Jeff Kinnaird, vice-president Canada West for Home Depot Canada. "It speaks to the growth of this business."
Besides presentations by Home Depot execs, the event included training seminars and demonstrations by service providers and vendors. "This really puts us in touch with our end customer," said Jacqueline Burlock, national sales manager for the retail division of Broan-Nutone Canada Inc. "I'm glad Home Depot is getting behind their installed sales program in this way."
For Mike Clements, who heads up installed sales for Home Depot Canada, the installed business is still in its infancy-and loaded with potential. Both north and south of the border, the installed piece is growing at a 35% rate annually-nine times the growth of the rest of the company, said Clements. But a key part of the equation is the buy-in of the installers. "The big thing for us," said Clements, "is to show these guys our commitment to them and to the business."
For Home Depot, the relationship with the contractors they recruit to install Home Depot's products is seen as a partnership, with the retailer doing the marketing and training, and providing innovative products. "All they've got to do is deliver the quality," said Clements.
He also offered an important insight into Home Depot's strategy to stay ahead of other retailers that may vie for the installed sales business. "How we're going to dominate the business is by sewing up the network." Home Depot intends to establish relationships with all the best, most reliable contractors in each market it serves. "Then Lowe's and RONA-they can't get into it."
RONA secures key Atlantic dealer
ST. JOHN'S, Nfld.-RONA Inc., Canada's number-two home improvement retailer, has finally brought Chester Dawe into its fold. Chester Dawe is a privately owned chain of eight stores, plus a truss plant, that serves St. John's and its environs, selling largely to the contractor and builder trades. The transaction, subject to usual conditions and regulatory approvals, is expected to close at the end of this month.
Chester Dawe was founded in 1945. It has been managed since 1992 by Philip Budden, who orchestrated the takeover of the company in 2001 as major shareholder of a consortium of Atlantic investors. With sales in 2005 of approximately¬Ý$80 million, the company was also the largest member of the Atlantic buying group, AWARD. When that group chose to merge with sister group TIM-BR MART Ltd., Budden remained independent. During that time, he was aggressively wooed by RONA, which identified Chester Dawe as pivotal to its expansion in Atlantic Canada.
Budden was well known for his fierce independence and his pride in Chester Dawe as a true success story in Newfoundland. But despite all, he finally relented and accepted an offer that will help finance the company's efforts to increase its position as a major supplier to new housing construction in the province.
TruServ begins missionary work on Pro Services
WINNIPEG-The recent alliance between CanWel and TruServ Canada to manage CanWel's bannered dealer customers has begun the job of reaching out to the dealers themselves.
Pro Retail Services is the name of the division of TruServ that is creating, marketing’Äìand communicating’Äìa set of programs for CanWel's Pro dealers across the country. A "road show" finds TruServ management talking with dealers about the new arrangement between CanWel and TruServ, and what it means for independents flying the Pro banner. That team includes Terry Derraugh, vice-president marketing and merchandising and warehousing for TruServ Canada, plus Tony DiEmanuele, vice-president., vice-president of business development and growth, and Dave Leonzio, TruServ's national growth manager.
The tour initially targeted 177 Pro stores in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. The dealers got the lowdown on the buying and operations that will be handled by TruServ.
According to DiEmanuele, dealer response was strong for the Pro banner services now being offered. "It was a good start and a very good response that shows people are very passionate about the brand, and want us to help them build the brand," he said.
The road show will move to the rest of Atlantic Canada in the coming weeks, followed by British Columbia.
CanWel acquired the Pro banner when it purchased hardlines wholesaler Sodisco-Howden Group at the end of 2004. However, the Pro program landed CanWel with a retailer base that competes directly with some of its own key LBM customers, namely RONA and Home Hardware. It also conflicted with CanWel's stated mandate to function strictly as a distributor. The partnership with TruServ Canada effectively puts management of the Pro banner into the hands of a third party. CanWel continues to supply hardware to the Pro dealers through the Sodisco-Howden division, now renamed CanWel, Hardware Division.
Bell Canada acquires ProfitMaster
WINNIPEG-Bell Canada, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Bell Business Solutions, has acquired one of the industry's leading retail services companies. ProfitMaster, based here, is a software developer providing information management solutions, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), to the Canadian hardware and building supply industry.
This acquisition expands Bell's information technology offerings and gives it access to a greater range of small and medium-sized businesses. ProfitMaster will allow Bell to offer more end-use services, beyond just connectivity.
ProfitMaster will report into the ERP division of Bell Business Solutions; however, it will operate as a separate business unit.
"With this acquisition, Bell will build on the best that ProfitMaster has to offer, while ensuring we are able to maintain and enhance our flexibility in dealing with customers, which is critical for success in this market," said Robert Courteau, president, Small Medium Business Group, Bell Canada, in a prepared release.
Vendors get chance to meet Canada's top buyers
TORONTO-The increased consolidation of home improvement retailers has made those remaining players even bigger-and for some, more impenetrable-than ever before. That's why vendors trying to get the attention of the industry's top home improvement buyers will want a seat at the next HARDLINES Meet the Buyers Seminars.
Now in its fifth year, the events offer both new and existing vendors the opportunity to learn how best to develop their pitch-and their programs-to get the attention of buyers. And they'll hear it from the buyers themselves.
Meet the Buyers will be held in Toronto on April 3, 2006, at the Prince Hotel. The event will be held again in Montreal on April 5 at the Queen Elizabeth hotel, in association with the Quebec association of building supply dealers, ADMACQ. Both events will feature senior merchants from Home Depot Canada, RONA inc., Le Groupe BMR, and TruServ Canada/CanWel, Hardware Division.
For more information about our Meet the Buyers Seminars, including names of participating buyers, click here.
Expansion costs tap into Ace's 2005 profits
OAK BROOK, Ill.-Ace Hardware Corp. plans to build this year, literally and figuratively, on the growth it achieved in 2005, when the buying group wholesale sales to its 4,600 dealer-members increased 5.4% to US$3.466 billion.
Last year, Ace members added 1.7 million sq.ft. of retail space, which translated into 131 new stores. In fact, Ace attributed a slight decline in its net income in 2005, by 1.5% to $100.4 million, partly to investments it made in helping its dealers defray some of their expansion costs. Company spokesperson Paula Erickson told HARDLINES that Ace members are projected to add 2.2 million sq.ft., or the equivalent of 160 to 170 stores, in 2006.
Ray Griffith, Ace CEO and president, was not available to be interviewed at press time. But in a prepared statement, Griffith said that the co-op's investment in its dealers' new stores, coupled with investments in retail technology and brand marketing, are resonating with home improvement shoppers and dealers alike. Erickson noted that about 2,200 dealers met all of Ace's brand initiative standards in 2005, for which they received an extra 1% rebate on their purchases, a payout that equaled US$16.9 million. She said that the payout this year could be between US$18 million and US$20 million.
Ace also paid out a record $185.4 million in patronage and upfront dividend, based on their dealers' purchases, in 2005.
In his statement, Griffith ticked off some of the co-op's other accomplishments during the period, including the establishment of a 788,000-sq.ft. distribution center in Moxee, Wash., and a strategic supply alliance with Benjamin Moore Paint, which will start offering its product to Ace dealers this year.
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