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February 27, 2023 | Volume xxix, #9


  • TIMBER MART dealers back for in-person show after two-year Covid pause
  • Home Depot meets forecasts with 2022 results, invests in front-line workers
  • Remerchandising and refurbishment mark UFA’s ongoing updates in Alberta
  • Gillfor Distribution nearing full integration of AFA in “soft landing”

PLUS: RONA adds two affiliate stores in Ontario, Canadian Tire comps edge down, Quebec dealer joins Home Hardware, Ace Hardware reports year end, AD creates education program with universities, Walmart’s Q4 net income rises, West Fraser posts Q4 loss, retail sales increase in December, sawmill closures, and more!

TIMBER MART dealers back for in-person show after two-year Covid pause

TIMBER MART hosted its first-ever hybrid national buying show Feb. 15-17 via its virtual cloud-based tradeshow platform and in-person at the Toronto Congress Centre.

“It’s finally bringing people together,” said TIMBER MART president and CEO Bernie Owens of the face-to-face event. “Everyone is so tired of Covid. It’s long overdue.” Owens said that response from dealers was strong for the show, with delegates coming in from every part of the country.

In addition to the hundreds of TIMBER MART dealers in attendance, 270 vendor booths filled the 70,000-square-foot show. The hybrid nature of the event meant that dealers at home could use an app to interact in real time with vendors on the show floor. They had the ability to set up online meetings and generate purchases, and to host chats between attendees.

The show floor featured some innovations of its own, including a new pallet-buy area that presented a wide range of products for sale in pallet quantities. And of course, special buys only available at the show were a highlight. “The vendors have really stepped up here,” Owens said.

The centre of the show floor was a hub for TIMBER MART’s own services and programs. These included: TIMBER MART LBM Distribution, dealer marketing, merchandising, and banner support.

To highlight TIMBER MART’s partnership with the Canadian Football League, the Grey Cup was prominently positioned on the show floor for photo opportunities.

Home Depot meets forecasts with 2022 results, invests in front-line workers

The world’s largest home improvement retailer reported sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 totalling $35.8 billion (all figures USD), up 0.3 percent from the comparable period of 2021. Comp sales for the quarter dipped 0.3 percent, both in the U.S. and enterprise-wide. Profits remained flat at $3.4 billion.

The results met the company’s forecasts for “a challenging and dynamic environment,” said Home Depot chair and CEO Ted Decker, in a period that saw the company “navigating persistent inflation, ongoing global supply chain disruptions, and a tight labour market.”

And, of course, these latest results followed two of the best years of growth for the company—and the industry—in decades.

For the 2022 year, sales were up 4.1 percent to $157.4 billion. Comp sales increased 3.1 percent, with comps in the U.S. up 2.9 percent. Profits in 2022 reached $17.1 billion, up just over four percent over 2021’s $16.4 billion.

The company’s board of directors approved a 10 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to $2.09 per share, which equates to an annual dividend of $8.36 per share.

At the same time, Home Depot acknowledged its front-line workers by announcing it has committed to invest an additional $1 billion in annualized compensation for front-line, hourly associates. It will invest in wages, benefits, training, and career development for its associates. It. A spokesperson for The Home Depot Canada has confirmed this investment will apply to front-line Canadian workers as well.

“The most important investment we can make is in our people. We believe this investment will position us favourably in the market, enabling us to attract and retain the level of talent needed to sustain the customer experience we strive to deliver,” Decker said in a release.

Gillfor Distribution nearing full integration of AFA in “soft landing”

Following a series of acquisitions in recent years, Gillfor Distribution made headlines last summer for its takeover of another large wholesaler, AFA Forest Products. According to Mike Schneider, vice president of business development for Gillfor, his company is well on the way to integrating AFA.

“We wanted the amalgamation of the two companies to be something that had as little impact internally as possible on customers, vendors, and our salespeople,” Schneider told Hardlines. “We wanted it to be as seamless as possible and, you know, as ‘boring’ as possible. And I think that’s kind of the phase that we’re in, that ‘soft landing’ or integration phase.”

“We are running the Gillfor system redundantly here in Woodstock [Ontario] to make sure that there is continuity of service. But we’ve migrated over to the legacy AFA system. What happens now is that we will take this year to make a lot of decisions on products—which products will be national, which products will be regional.”

Asked if there would be a rationalization of products—since Gillfor and AFA had a few competing products before the merger—Schneider said he preferred to use the word “evaluation.” AFA brings strength in commodity products, while Gillfor is strong in specialty products, so Schneider says there are good “synergies” between the former competitors.

“We've been approached by numerous vendors and numerous buying groups on opportunities. And it’s really a fantastic position where we’re having to evaluate these opportunities.”

Schneider said there are several important considerations in play for Gillfor’s management. “Every product line is going to have its pros and cons both financially in terms of margin and ‘yardability’—how well it is accepted in the yard—and transportation. So, there are lots of different ways to evaluate product lines.”

People on the Move

Peter Ferreira has been appointed to the newly-created position of vice president, distribution at Home Hardware Stores Ltd. Ferreira reports directly to John Dyksterhuis, Home Hardware’s chief supply chain officer. Ferreira will be responsible for all of the company’s distribution operations, facilities, and equipment. He has 22 years of supply chain industry experience at PepsiCo Canada, most recently as that company’s senior supply chain director, overseeing national distribution operations.


... that the latest episode of Hardlines’ podcast series What’s in Store is now online? In this episode, Home Hardware dealer Frances Sologuk shares the story of how her family’s hardware store in Osoyoos, B.C., was “un-renovated” to reveal its historic building materials, reclaimed from a nearby mining camp. It’s a master class in customer service and community relations—with a heritage twist. (Sign up now to get free updates about the latest podcasts in your inbox!)


RONA inc. has welcomed father and son Blake and Bret Drew, owners of two hardware stores in southwestern Ontario, to its network of affiliated dealers. The stores, in the neighbouring communities of Comber and Tilbury, will be renovated and will expand their offering to LBM products. The RONA Tilbury store will put together a new 45,000-square-foot outdoor lumber yard that will also serve the Comber store. Both businesses were established in 1988

Canadian Tire Corp. reports that Q4 sales at its Canadian Tire banner were flat (down 0.1 percent), while overall comp sales rose by 0.3 percent. For the entire company, quarterly net income of $562.6 million was up from $535.7 million a year earlier. Revenue for the period rose by 3.9 percent to $5.3 billion.

Le Magasin du Fermier, a hardware and ag supply retailer in Luskville, Que., has joined the Home Hardware banner. Dealer-owner Jonathan Crevier’s mother and grandfather founded the business in 2009.

At Ace Hardware Corp., full-year revenues for 2022 reached a record $9.2 billion, up 6.7 percent from 2021. Net income for fiscal 2022 was $340.6 million, an increase of $10.6 million from the year prior. More than 100 Ace-bannered stores in Canada are supplied by Peavey Industries, which holds the license to the brand in this country.

Affiliated Distributors (AD) has announced the launch of the Center for Independent Distributor Leadership (CIDL). The initiative is designed to prepare the current and future leaders of independent distribution with the competencies they need. The CIDL will offer three leadership certification pathways: a four-year leadership experience program, and courses for distributor sales and operations leaders. AD created each program’s curriculum in collaboration with instructors from universities like Texas A&M.

Walmart Inc. saw its Q4 net income rise to $6.28 billion from $3.56 billion a year earlier. Revenues were up 7.3 percent on a year-over-year basis to $164 billion. Same-store sales in the U.S. grew by 8.3 percent, excluding fuel. Canadian comp sales rose by 5.9 percent. For the full fiscal year, revenues rose 6.7 percent to $611.3 billion.


West Fraser Timber Co. posted Q4 earnings of $94 million on sales of $1.62 billion. Earnings for the fiscal year amounted to $1.98 billion, down from $2.95 billion.


Retail sales increased 0.5 percent to $62.1 billion in December. Sales increased in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 75.1 percent of retail trade. LBM and garden sales recorded a decline of 3.8 percent, the largest in the core retail categories. (StatCan)

Sales of existing U.S. homes in January hit a 12-year low, with a 12th consecutive monthly drop marking the longest streak of decline since the fall of 2010. The annualized rate of home resales slipped by 0.7 percent to four million units. (National Association of Realtors)


DX3 2023, March 1 and 2, bills itself as Canada’s largest conference and trade show dedicated to retail, marketing, and technology. This year’s event at the Toronto Congress Centre will explore what the transformative retail and marketing sectors will look like in a more resilient, innovative, and technologically-driven world. How will retail keep up with changing consumer preferences and expectations? How can marketing professionals overcome industry challenges and changes? How will technology help improve connections while enhancing experiences? Find out the answers to all of these questions and more at DX3 Canada 2023! (Click here for more info!)


“I think there’s a lot of work in the pipeline, but the second half of the year is questionable. I hope it’s a decline, not a cliff.” —Bernie Owens, president and CEO of TIMBER MART. He spoke with Hardlines at the group’s recent hybrid buying show in Toronto.

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