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February 7, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #6


  • Canadian Tire chair Maureen Sabia to retire in the spring
  • Associations cope with restrictions, bad timing as they plan their next shows
  • Lowe’s ups its contractor game with enhanced range of services
  • Aeroplan and Home Hardware part ways as retailer seeks new loyalty plan

PLUS: Princess Auto makes Forbes’s 2022 list of Best Employers, Federated Co-op’s Community Spaces program, Julie McLaren joins RDTS, Lowe’s Canada launches spring hiring campaign, Dollarama sells some products for $5, Stanley Black & Decker reports Q4 revenues, value of building permits decreases, and more!

Canadian Tire chair Maureen Sabia to retire in the spring

Canadian Tire Corp. has announced that current chairman Maureen Sabia will retire from the board of directors after the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 12.

Sabia’s 37-year tenure on the board has been surpassed only by that of Martha Billes, CTC’s controlling shareholder and the daughter of Alfred Billes, who, with his brother William, founded Canadian Tire almost 100 years ago.

Sabia’s successor is J. Michael Owens, who has been a director since 2020 and is currently the chairman of the board’s brand and corporate responsibility committee. Owens is a fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and a former partner at Deloitte LLP.

Sabia started as a lawyer after graduating from the faculty of law at the University of Toronto—one of only three women in her year to do so. Since 1986, she has held a variety of board positions. She worked on the board of the Export Development Corp. and was made chair in 1991. She’s also served on the boards of O&Y Properties Corp., Gulf Canada Resources, Hollinger Inc., Skyjack Inc., and Laurentian General Insurance.

Sabia has served on committees and boards for the University of Guelph and Brock University, both in Ontario, as well as several hospitals and charitable organizations. Not surprisingly, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011.

She is not the only member of her family to hold huge power over the direction of home improvement retail in this country. Her brother is deputy finance minister Michael Sabia. A decade ago, as president and CEO of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which was a major shareholder in RONA inc., Sabia refused to support then-CEO Robert Dutton’s plan to take RONA private. That move would have turned control back to the dealers.

“Maureen's track record of strategic thinking and focus on execution has been instrumental in helping transform CTC into the strong and successful company it is today,” CEO and president Greg Hicks said in a release.


Associations cope with restrictions, bad timing as they plan their next shows

When the Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association (ABSDA) announced the cancellation of its 2022 Building Supply Expo recently, it eliminated one of the few remaining general buying shows for dealers. The event was set for March 9 and 10 at the Halifax Convention Centre. Organizers explained that they were not confident public health restrictions would be lifted in time to allow the expo to take place.

To complicate the situation even further, no other dates were available later in the spring in which to rebook the show, says ABSDA president Denis Melanson. As a result, the ABSDA board saw cancellation until next year as the only option.

Next year’s show is again planned for March. In the meantime, the association is working to reimburse vendors that have paid for booth space for this year’s event.

The other leading general buying show for the industry, the Western Retail Lumber Association’s Building & Hardware Showcase, has already been rescheduled for March 31 and April 1, after being pushed out from its original dates in January. That show will be held at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg.

According to Liz Kovach, president of the WRLA, several activities and events are planned to make that show a success. HGTV personalities the BroLaws will give a workshop called “the Rethink the Contractor,” while a full day will be dedicated to building science and energy efficiency. Panel discussions will address topics such as labour issues.

“I am working on a couple of other sessions, but don’t have the details quite finalized,” Kovach adds. She expects to have more information in the next couple of weeks.

For Melanson at ABSDA, his association’s year-end is in March, so he says he won’t have time to come up with any other events or activities, virtual or otherwise. He hints that he’s considering “an interesting activity” for the fall, but won’t disclose details yet.

Melanson looks forward to bringing the industry together again next spring. “We’re hoping to have a fantastic show since people are so very eager for face-to-face interactions again.”


Lowe’s ups its contractor game with enhanced range of services

Lowe’s Cos. has launched a new loyalty program for pro customers in the U.S. The Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards and Partnerships Program builds on the Lowe’s for Pros loyalty plan introduced last year. It includes many benefits similar to what’s already available to Canadian dealers through Lowe’s Canada’s VIPpro.

Lowe’s MVPs can earn rewards on their purchases, track their orders with a dedicated mobile platform, and get deals on items such as paint and paint accessories.

Users of the MVPs program also get the chance to win big-ticket prizes like Ford F-Series trucks. In Canada, VIPpro members have similar opportunities throughout the year as well as during specific events. Last fall, the PROvember campaign in support of men’s health saw more than $50,000 worth of prizes given away in Canada, including three covered trailers.

A Bonus Points system is soon to be added to the MVPs program to allow participants to redeem additional rewards. In Canada, VIPpro members already enjoy instant five-percent discounts across the board, with an additional five percent off for paint and accessories.

“Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards is another big step in Lowe’s continued Total Home strategy when it comes to the important pro customer,” Tony Hurst, SVP for pro services and international (and former head of Lowe’s Canada), said in a release.

“We are committed to a true business partnership mindset to help pros as they grow their businesses and their futures.”

One feature of Lowe’s MVPs program not yet offered in Canada is a suite of business support services designed to help pro entrepreneurs manage their back-of-house operations. In an email to Hardlines, a Lowe’s Canada representative confirmed that plans are in the works to bring these services north of the border.

Aeroplan and Home Hardware part ways as retailer seeks new loyalty plan

While loyalty plans can be a big draw for retail customers, Home Hardware Stores will no longer be loyal to its service provider in this category. The company is ending its partnership with the Aeroplan rewards program as of March 31. After that, customers will still be able to redeem existing points, but only for Home Hardware gift cards.

As for how the Aeroplan program will be replaced, the company would not say, except to indicate that “a new loyalty program will be introduced in the coming months.”

Nor did Home Hardware reveal whether its new plan would be with another existing provider. Aeroplan’s big competitor has historically been Air Miles. But that plan is already partnered with TIMBER MART at the independent dealer level, and with Lowe’s Canada at the national corporate level. It also has an agreement with Kent Building Supplies, which has 48 stores throughout Atlantic Canada. Kent, a division of J.D. Irving Ltd., has piggy-backed onto Air Miles’ larger partnership with Irving gas stations.

Other retailers are looking for homemade programs. Using a dedicated credit card lets customers collect points automatically with every purchase, a route Canadian Tire has taken as it tries to phase out its paper Canadian Tire money.

Home Depot Canada has a commercial credit card for its contractor customers. Besides giving discounts off regular pricing, it earns the user Home Depot electronic gift cards every quarter. The card is powered by Citi Retail Services.

This approach could well be the direction Home Hardware takes. While it no longer has a dedicated Home Hardware credit card—it was terminated at the end of 2016—Home Hardware does offer a bulk gift card program. The cards are aimed at contractors, charities, and other organizations as a way for those groups to incentivize or reward their employees and local communities.



People on the Move

Julie McLaren has joined RDTS as territory manager. She brings 20 years of experience in various merchandising, business development, and management roles in retail and manufacturing.

Wolseley Canada has appointed Harry Kandilas as director, showrooms. Kandilas brings more than 20 years of sales leadership experience in the plumbing and building material industries, most recently as national sales manager at Zurn Industries. He also managed Canadian business for Belanger Faucets and American Standard. He reports to president Sébastien Laforge.



... that we are always looking for new products to feature in our publications? That’s right—tell your marketing manager! Our magazine, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly, is mailed to 11,000 dealers and managers four times a year. And the Hardlines Dealer News email newsletter gets emailed to thousands of people every month. We include a featured products section in both HHIQ and Dealer News. If you have new products, send them to our product editor, Geoff McLarney!


Princess Auto made Forbes’s 2022 list of Best Employers in Canada, coming in at number 43. Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to compile the annual list by surveying more than 10,000 Canadians working for businesses with at least 500 employees.

The application period is now open for Federated Co-operatives Ltd.’s Co-op Community Spaces program. A total of $1 million is available this year to support capital projects dedicated to recreation, environmental conservation, and urban agriculture in western Canada. Visit FCL’s website for more information.

Lowe’s Canada is launching its spring hiring campaign to fill over 5,000 positions in its Lowe's, RONA, and Réno-Dépôt corporate store network. Over the next two months, the retailer will be hosting national, provincial, and local hiring events where job seekers will have the chance to meet with members of Lowe’s recruitment team.

Inflation and challenges with sourcing product have obliged Montreal-based budget chain Dollarama to sell some products for as much as $5. That hasn’t hurt its sales. The company generated $860 million in profits in 2021, even with store closures and staff turnover.


Stanley Black & Decker reported Q4 revenues of $4.1 billion, up two percent from a year ago. Earnings amounted to $328.6 million. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, that came to $2.14 per share. Full-year profits for fiscal 2021 totalled $1.68 billion, or $10.16 per share, with revenues of $15.62 billion.


The total value of building permits decreased 1.9 percent to $11.2 billion in December, with declines in both the residential and non-residential sectors. The total value of residential permits decreased 2.7 percent to $7.7 billion. Multi-family permit values declined 6.0 percent to $4.1 billion, with British Columbia (-20.3 percent) responsible for most of the national decline. Construction intentions for single-family homes were up 1.3 percent to $3.6 billion, led by Quebec (+14.6 percent). The total value of commercial permits fell 7.9 percent to $1.9 billion. Construction intentions in the industrial sector rose 8.4 percent to $762 million. (StatCan)

Investment in U.S. construction edged up by 0.2 percent in December, after a 0.6 percent lift in November. Economists polled by Reuters expected on average an increase of 0.6 percent in December. Expenditures on private construction rose, with a particularly strong showing in the single-family segment, up 2.1 percent. That wasn’t enough however to offset a sharp downturn in public projects. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)



“It remains a store that’s very popular. It’s a store that's accessible: they’re everywhere. I think it’s a beautiful business model.”
—Philippe Bertrand, co-founder of consultancy Amplio Stratégies, commented in Le Journal de Montréal on the unflagging success of Montreal-based Dollarama, despite rising prices in its stores.



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