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January 14, 2019 | Volume xxv, #2

BMR’s Ontario expansion efforts gain traction with signing of new dealer
Lowe’s to hire its own in-store merch team, but Canada will use its own systems
RONA adds to its affiliate dealer ranks with two Prairie locations
eBay sells a lot of tools, an opportunity for retailers and vendors alike

PLUS: London Drugs threatens to relocate, Spectrum Brands completes Rayovac sale, Hachey joins Lowe’s Canada, Scott Bryant heads up HR at Home Hardware, registration now open for National Hardware Show, housing starts, Benjamin Moore’s new CEO and more!

BMR’s Ontario expansion efforts gain traction with signing of new dealer

GRIFFITH, Ont. — BMR announced last spring that it wants to start building its business in Ontario. So the signing last week of a new dealer in Griffith, in the northeast corner of the province, was an important step in the fulfillment of that plan.

BMR already has a handful of dealers in Ontario, including Windsor Building Centre in Windsor and Drummond Building Supplies in Marmora. But the group ceased expansion efforts in that province after it was acquired outright by La Coop fédérée at the beginning of 2015. The next three years found the company focused on reorganization closer to home.

The store converted to BMR when a local contractor, John Lacourse, became co-owner of the store with Derek McGrimmon. The store will carry the BMR Pro banner, which was developed to meet the needs of construction and renovation contractors as well as seasoned do-it-yourselfers.

The store is undergoing a complete redesign of the facade and interior layout, while another 2,000 square feet will be added, more than doubling the size of the existing building.

Pierre Nolet, vice president of business development at BMR, says his group can help the dealer expand its LBM side. “Building materials are one of our greatest strengths, and we look forward to serving our local contractors and renovators,” said Nolet.

BMR, which is owned by La Coop fédérée, has the products and services to support dealers in smaller rural centres, says Nolet. The company’s distribution centre in Boucherville, Que., carries 32,000 products and already serves more than 300 dealers in Quebec and the Maritimes. BMR's members operate under the BMR, Unimat, Potvin & Bouchard and Agrizone banners, and represent annual retail sales of about $1.2 billion.

Lowe’s to hire its own in-store merch team, but Canada will use own systems

MOORESVILLE, N.C. ― Lowe’s Cos. has announced its intention to hire 65,000 people, but the breakdown of that number reveals about 50,000 of them will be seasonal workers as the retailer, like most dealers in this industry, ramps up for the busy spring season.

Another 1,000 have already been identified to add to Lowe’s tech side of the business. That effort may well have been accelerated by the company’s woes, when its U.S. website experienced problems handling the high traffic generated during Black Friday. (The Canadian site was unaffected.) Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison called it “an embarrassing moment for the company, but one that presented our current state to the world.”

More significantly, the company has stated it will hire nearly 10,000 people to form a “Merchandising Service Team” (MST). The new group will go into stores to manage inventory and re-stocking. To quote the company: MST will be “focused on best-in-class inventory management, which includes the execution of critical tasks such as general bay service and resets. The implementation of the MST will improve in-stock availability and allow Red Vest associates to spend more time serving customers by reducing time spent on tasks.”

The new group sounds very similar to the Merchandising Excellence Team that Home Depot Canada formed in 2012.

Many of the changes announced south of the border will impact Canada in some way, as per this comment by Ellison in a call to analysts following the release of the company’s Q3 results: “[S]imilar to the U.S., we are implementing plans in Canada to improve execution, expense discipline and operational profitability.”

However, Lowe’s Canada has confirmed to Hardlines that Mooresville is leaving the Canadian division to manage its own store detailing as it has in the past. According to a spokesperson for Lowe’s Canada, “Our store and merchandising dynamics are different in Canada. We use a mix of internal and external resources for the merchandising needs of our banners.” That includes the use of Match Marketing Group to continue servicing a number of RONA big box stores. Match, based in Toronto, took over the service early in 2016.

RONA adds to its affiliate dealer ranks with two Prairie locations

BOUCHERVILLE, Que. — RONA has added two new locations to its affiliated dealer network.

The first is the RONA Rockwood store in Teulon, Man. It was acquired last December by Marc and Lori Palsson, who also own the RONA store in Gimli. The new owners will remerchandise and reconfigure the 10,000-square-foot store with its 130,000-square-foot adjacent lumber yard, to provide local customers with expanded offerings, including seasonal and home décor.

The second store is the Demers Shopping Centre in Debden, Sask., owned by Dan and Leah Demers, a third-generation family in the business. Currently a combined hardware and grocery store, the grocery business will be split off to a new location and the existing 10,000-square-foot space will be converted entirely to hardware and building materials.

Both stores will add Craftsman tools to their power tool assortments, while the Debden store will add an appliance department, as well. The stores have their grand openings planned for the spring.

The announced recruitments come just as parent company Lowe’s Canada is implementing the previously announced closures of 27 stores across the country, including a Lowe’s and a RONA in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., that both closed their doors this past weekend.

eBay sells a lot of tools, an opportunity for retailers and vendors alike

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. ― A tool is purchased every five seconds on eBay. And it’s not necessarily big online players driving this, says Robert Bigler, COO of eBay Canada. In fact, he wants to share how online marketplaces like eBay can play into the marketing strategies of traditional retailers. That includes dealers and vendors alike.

Bigler was a keynote at the latest Hardlines Conference, held last fall in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. “All the growth in retail is pretty much coming from online, as bricks and mortar is flat,” he warns. He explains that his company long ago outgrew its auction-style roots as a reseller of used items. “eBay has 1.1 billion products online and 77 million customers globally.”

He points out that vendors can use eBay successfully, as well. However, he recognizes that they may worry about not upsetting their retail customers for the sake of the online business. “Channel conflict is tricky.” But new technologies within eBay are making it easier for both buyers and sellers to complete the transaction cost-effectively.

One of the biggest categories these days for eBay is home and garden. The company saw double-digit growth for those products in Canada in 2017.

The challenges and opportunities are similar to the bricks-and-mortar experience, he points out. The fundamentals of good retail stay the same. “How are you differentiating?” he asks. “You have to focus on quality, on customer service, while adapting―and adopting new leads and new platforms.”

People on the Move

Mike Hachey has joined Lowe’s Canada as merchandising manager. He oversees appliances, heating, ventilation and fashion plumbing for RONA and Ace dealers. His background includes 17 years at RONA as a buyer, followed by almost eight years at RCR International, rising through the ranks to vice president business development for Canada and the U.S. Most recently, Hachey served as VP sales for Lanart Carpets and then worked briefly at Multy Homes.

Home Hardware has announced the appointment of Scott Bryant as VP, human resources. He succeeds Stew Gingrich, who retired at the beginning of the month after 14 years in the post and more than four decades with the company. Bryant joined Home Hardware almost 20 years ago and most recently served as senior director, human resources.

Dan Calkins has been appointed chairman and CEO of Benjamin Moore & Co. He was formerly president and COO. Calkins now reports to Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Greg Abel and succeeds Mike Searles, who retired after five years. Calkins is a 32-year veteran with Benjamin Moore.


...that there are all kinds of neat features on our newly updated Hardlines website? One of our favourites is a cool new Dailies Archive! Just click here to find an easy-to-read listing of past Dailies.


RICHMOND, B.C. — The CEO of London Drugs says the company may have to relocate if the B.C. government doesn’t take action to replace the 59-year-old Massey Tunnel. The government has said it is going back to the drawing board with another study on the fate of the crossing, which links Richmond with Delta across the Fraser River. Congestion is so bad that Clint Mahlman says London Drugs’ head office and/or its distribution centre could have to move out of Richmond. 

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings Corp. agreed last week to consider a modified bid from Chairman Eddie Lampert, halting at least temporarily a liquidation process. The troubled retailer rebuffed Lampert’s last offer of $4.4 billion, triggering a rush of what a Sears attorney described as round-the-clock negotiations. Sears will consider the revamped offer this week: if it declines again, Lampert will forfeit more than $17 million of his deposit.

BONN—The do-it-yourself market in the European Union grew by 2.0 % to a volume of €726.5 billion ($1,104 billion) in 2017. According to the German market research company IFH, DIY sales increased by 0.9% and building materials by 4.4%. However, lawn and garden sales dipped by 0.1%. More than half of sales are attributed to DIY (51%), with 37% for building materials and 12% for the garden segment. Germany is the single largest market for home improvement in Europe, with a market share of 21%, followed by France and Great Britain.



MIDDLETON, Wis. — Spectrum Brands has completed the sale of its battery business Rayovac to Energizer in a $2 billion cash transaction. Spectrum says it will apply proceeds from the sale toward its $4.8 billion debt. Neither company commented on the fate of the 700 jobs in Wisconsin affected by Energizer’s acquisition.


Housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 213,419 units, down from 224,349 in November. Mild temperatures worked in favour of construction but higher interest rates and stiffer mortgage restrictions are expected to keep squeezing home building this year. Urban starts seasonally adjusted decreased by 5.8% in December to 194,594 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 6.8% to 144,728 units while single-detached urban starts decreased by 2.6% to 49,866 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,825 units. (CMHC)


Registration is now open for the 2019 National Hardware Show, May 7 to 9 at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. The show draws 20,000-plus industry professionals, including a huge number of Canadian retailers and suppliers. It’s the main event in North America for face-to-face sourcing, trading and learning. Registration is now open: click here to activate your VIP Registration today!


“We are sharpening our focus on retail fundamentals and simplifying our business. We are investing in key leadership positions across our stores to enhance customer service while also creating jobs that will improve the availability of our most popular products, transform our technology infrastructure and provide more access for customers to the home improvement expertise of our store associates.”
―Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe’s president and CEO of Lowe’s Cos. based in Mooresville, N.C., on the company’s announcement that it would create its own in-house merchandising and detailing team for the U.S.


Our intrepid VP of Business Development, David Chestnut, is off to the WRLA Buying Show in Calgary this week. Got a hot tip or a new product you want to share with Hardlines? Contact him at




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