January 5, 2015 Volume
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (American Baptist minister and civil rights activist, 1929-68)
Top Stories of 2014: the news that shaped the year
SPECIAL REPORT — Retailers’ expansion plans, exits by suppliers, and key personnel changes were among the most-read stories we featured in 2014.
The expansion plans of Lowe’s, which will open three new stores this year, ranked near the top based on web traffic to the Hardlines website. But any news about RONA, a major competitor for dealers and a key customer for suppliers, also attracted plenty of online traffic. HARDLINES broke the news about the company’s plans to expand its Réno-Dépôt banner outside of Quebec, a story that garnered attention not just from our readers but from competing news services across the country.
Web traffic soared when we broke one of the biggest news stories of 2014. For several days, we had heard rumours and received tips from the industry about big news out of TIM-BR MART Group. Then, on the morning of November 27, we received confirmation that TIM-BR MART Group would close its Chalifour hardware distribution facilities in Victoriaville and Rivière-du-Loup, Que.. By that evening, we had an exclusive interview with TIM-BR MART president Bernie Owens to get the full story.
We broke some other important stories through the year, as well. The news that Ace Hardware and TIM-BR MART had severed their long-standing partnership was second only to the followup story that RONA would become Ace’s new partner in Canada. Both stories were exclusives for our HARDLINES readers.
We also broke the news near the end of last year of the exit of two major players, Stanley National Hardware and Guardian Building Products Canada. Both companies gave very little notice, with Guardian intending to be out of the country entirely by the end of 2014. Spectrum Brands, which owns Stanley National Hardware, said it expects to wind down Canadian operations over three to six months.
Another HARDLINES exclusive was the adoption of Air Miles by Atlantic region retailer Kent, despite apparent conflict with other Air Miles partners, notably TIM-BR MART and RONA.
Our readers’ appetite for news about the people in this industry remained high through 2014. The induction of Walter Hachborn, the co-founder of Home Hardware Stores Limited, into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame drew plenty of attention, as did the hiring of former TIM-BR MART CEO Tim Urquhart as general manager of Slegg Lumber. The departure of Yves Gagnon from the helm of BMR due to ill-health was an important story. The promotion of Steve Buckle to president of Sexton Group in January and the hiring of Guy Beaumier as vice president, operations at Lowe’s Canada in early October both garnered high readership.
Dealer news was consistently important, especially the recruitment of new dealers by groups such as Castle, Sexton, and TIM-BR MART. At the top of the list: WSB Titan’s acquisition of Slegg Construction Materials.
Now celebrating 20 years, HARDLINES remains committed to delivering news and telling the whole story about the key players and top trends in home improvement retailing. Stay tuned in 2015!
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Home Hardware announces year-end management changes
ST. JACOBS, Ont. — Home Hardware Stores has made some year-end changes to its management team, including the retirement of one of its top executives.
Eric Konecsni, vice-president, operations, retired at the end of 2014 after 46 years of service. Konecsni, who got his start at Beaver Lumber, was part of the team that came over to Home Hardware when the hardware wholesaler purchased Beaver for $68 million in 1999. His expertise, along with the skills of other Beaver alumni including Jack Baillie and Joel Marks, helped Home to grow its retail building supply business during the past 15 years.
Another Beaver expat, and most recently the head of Home Hardware’s dealer development team, Dunc Wilson, is taking over Konecsni’s duties as acting vice-president, operations.
“We thank Eric for his dedication and support over the years and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement,” said Terry Davis, CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited. “Dunc has proven leadership at Home Hardware as the director, national dealer development and we look forward to him providing direction to the operations department at this time.”
Also announced within the operations group, Sherri Amos has been promoted to director, dealer support. She replaces Bill Ferguson, who is stepping back from his responsibilities while remaining with the company. Ferguson grew up in hardware stores in communities around St. Jacobs, and eventually moved to head office, where he spent a total of 35 years.
Dale MacPherson has accepted the senior director, national retail operations position, effective immediately, and will be responsible for all retail operations and dealer development across Canada, in addition to his existing responsibilities as director, central retail operations and national corporate stores.
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Can big boxes buck trend as many retailers face uncertainty?
TORONTO — Canadian retailers will have tough choices to make in the New Year, as increasing competition from e-merchants and new arrivals from the U.S. force them to size up their operations.
Sears’ downward trajectory doesn’t seem to be ending soon, while Target is facing calls from investors and pundits alike to withdraw its Canadian operation. The string of retailers downsizing—like Reitmans, which is closing all 150 of its Smart Set stores—or filing for bankruptcy, including Mexx and Jacob, is expected to continue, casualties of low-cost international retailers like H&M and Zara.
Meanwhile, Lowe’s Canada president Sylvain Prud’homme says his company, burned by the nationalist blowback from its attempt two years ago to purchase RONA inc., is still open to a Canadian acquisition—if the right candidate presents itself.
Besides acquisitions, Lowe’s is stepping up its greenfields expansion. The company wants to nearly double its Canadian presence with 25 new stores over three years. Prud’homme told HARDLINES last month that Lowe’s is stepping up its expansion plans for 2015 (see our December 15, 2014 edition. —Editor) . The next store will be in Lethbridge, Alta., in the first quarter, followed by Saskatoon and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in the summer.
Other home improvement big box retailers are also renewing their growth plans. Home Depot Canada opened its first store since 2011 last month with a site in Brampton, Ont., northwest of Toronto. In addition, RONA has announced it will roll out openings of at least three Réno-Dépôt stores in 2015.
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How the rich shop for home furnishings: new study
SPECIAL REPORT — The U.S. home furnishings market underwent a major overhaul during the recession. Today’s home furnishings customers are constructing a new home furnishings market that suits their preferred method of shopping and new styles of decorating. A new report from Unity Marketing, “Cocooning in New Luxury Style,” offers insights into how to target the high-end “luxury” customer.
Only in 2013 did the U.S. home furnishings market recover its losses from the recession of 2008-2009. And the market for home furnishings left in the wake of the recession is a very different one, the report asserts.
Affluent Americans, who earn more than $100,000 per year, are “cocooning” in a way that combines fashion and function to create a safe, comforting, and stress-free environment. The affluent top 20%, which account for more than 40% of the industry’s sales, are turning more often to specialists to furnish their homes than generalists that sell across a wide range of home goods.
Not only do the affluent make up a far greater share of industry sales than their total numbers would indicate, they also are the ones with discretion to pay a premium for new home furnishings. Pam Danziger, who heads up Unity Marketing and authored the report, calls them “the heavy-lifters in the consumer economy.”
The report includes a competitive analysis of how marketers as diverse as Ikea, West Elm, Wayfair, Restoration Hardware, Design Within Reach, LG, Ethan Allen, La-Z-Boy, and others have successfully tapped the greater spending potential of affluents and how they've done it at all different price levels.
“This is the consumer segment that home furnishings retailers and marketers must cultivate for growth now and in the future,” Danziger adds.
(Click here to order your copy of Cocooning in New Luxury Style.)
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National Industrial Sales Agency
Fiskars, a global manufacturer of branded consumer products with over 365 years of heritage, has an exciting opportunity for an energetic and results-oriented National Industrial Sales Agency. For consideration, qualified agencies should submit a company overview to firstname.lastname@example.org
SUMMARY OF POSITION: Entry level positon that will manage and grow sales of all RSC brands within the defined sales territory, working directly with dealers and distributors.
- Collaborate with customers in the presentation of our products in their environment
- Conduct individual sales calls and also “ride along” calls where productive with distributors in the territory
- Conduct store level trainings where needed across all company customers
- Support other Sales managers in the company as needed
- Establish & maintain close relationships with key independent retail stores within the region.
- Communication: Timely & Accurate for both Internal and External customers (Customer Issues, Program Changes, Market information, etc…)
- New Store Activity; coordinate efforts internally and with any outside representation to insure new stores ship complete, on-time, and are set to expectations
To apply, send your resumé to
- Minimum 2 yrs experience in sales management, product marketing, or consumer marketing
- Minimum 1 yr experience servicing and calling on retail outlets with territory management experience.
- Ability to work on projects and meet deadlines.
- Post-Secondary degree in business or marketing preferred.
- Experience in working remotely and as a team member.
- Extensive experience with Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and web based applications.
Better Living Products International is a world-leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of unique, high-quality bath and shower organization products. Established in 1991, it continues to be best recognized for its Award-Winning product, The Dispenser™. Better Living has flourished to new heights and is on a major growth curve with the upcoming introduction of several new and innovative products. The search is on to fill the following positions with energetic, highly motivated, organized and results driven candidates:
The successful candidate will be accountable for the support, coordination and execution of our sales and marketing initiatives. Responsibilities include assisting the sales team in maintaining positive client relationships and to act as the liaison on all day-to-day activity. Experience in a similar or related administrative role combined with excellent communication, organization and interpersonal skills are required.
The ideal candidate has a solid understanding of product marketing concepts and has industry product management experience. This person will manage products through their lifecycle and be accountable for the management, coordination and execution of various product initiatives. We are looking for a flexible and enthusiastic team player that is highly detailed and proficient in multi-tasking.
National Account Manager
A sales professional with industry knowledge is required to assist in achieving our aggressive growth plans by managing specific key accounts and channels within the USA. The successful candidate will possess account management experience and demonstrate exceptional interpersonal, communication and selling skills.
All positions will be based at our world-wide corporate headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario. We offer competitive wages, benefits and a fun working entrepreneurial environment. Please submit your resumé to Camillo Caperchione, Executive Vice President, Better Living Products, Email: email@example.com