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July 5, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #27
  • Home Depot expands online access to its rental services
  • Ace Hardware finds mutual benefits working with Peavey in Canada
  • Swedish discount DIY retailer Byggmax sees e-commerce exploding

PLUS: Tristant Langelier joins Sexton Group, RONA affiliate store opens in Dryden, Ont., Peavey adds members to its Ace Hardware banner, B.C. Ace Hardware goes corporate, retail sales down in April, U.S. home prices keep climbing, and more!

As Home Depot expands its U.S. online rentals, Canada’s is already in place

Home Depot is rolling out an online rental service at its 1,300 rental locations across North America. But the Canadian division has been up and running with it since earlier this year.

Aimed at both contractors and heavy DIYers, the service uses Home Depot’s new ‘Rent Online, Pick-up in Store’ technology. The retailer’s rental services offer a range of products aimed at pros and heavy DIYers, including demolition tools like breakers and concrete saws, landscaping tools like tillers, sod cutters, trailers, and moving vehicles. Customers can reserve and rent equipment online up to 30 days in advance.

“This new online technology saves pro and DIY customers time and trips to the store because they can conveniently check equipment availability and reserve what they need in advance to get in and out of our rental centres more quickly than ever,” said Richard Porter, vice president of The Home Depot Rental in the U.S. “For urgent needs at the job site or in the midst of that weekend project, customers can also check availability at multiple locations and make reservations on their phone or other mobile device.”

The company touted the piloting of online reservations in various U.S. cities, namely in the Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston markets. But the program has been up and running in its own fashion here in Canada for several months already.

According to a spokesperson at Home Depot Canada, the program here “is in fact something that our teams started rolling out earlier in the year. It’s available nationally across Canada.” Home Depot has 178 rental locations in Canada, out of a total of 182 stores in this country.

In the U.S., Home Depot is catching up in terms of locations. It has opened eight new rental centres since January.

Ace Hardware finds mutual benefits working with Peavey in Canada

Ace Hardware is seeing tremendous growth in the U.S., where it has some 5,000 stores. But it is keenly interested in the activities of its Ace dealers in Canada as well. Here, the Ace brand is licensed to, and managed by, Red Deer, Alta.-based Peavey Industries.

Mike Berschauer is VP of sales, customer service, and operations for Ace International Holdings, the division that works with the Ace licence in Canada. Berschauer believes the union with Peavey makes for a strong fit. “[Peavey CEO] Doug Anderson and Peavey Mart already represent a strong retail operator functioning in a profitable manner in the rural farm and ranch market. They already have an understanding of that segment.”

That fits well with the growth Ace has seen in Canada, where stores are typically smaller operations that thrive in smaller locales. However, says Berschauer, Ace can provide much more. “Ace has an urban store program. We’ve got models and methodologies that will help us support Peavey in any market.”

He sees lots of opportunities for the partnership to keep growing, thanks to a relative lack of consolidation. “From a per capita standpoint, there are so many medium to small players in Canada compared to the U.S.”

The Canadian team at Peavey, Berschauer adds, “have strong logistics and a national mindset to tackle proper expansion and determine what differentiates Ace in the marketplace.”

Ace was formerly in the hands of Lowe’s Canada and for many Ace dealers making the switch, it was important to find alignment with Ace’s values. That happened with Peavey, he believes, as that company has made a strong commitment as a primary hardlines supplier that fits with the Ace dealers.

Ace International’s approach has evolved, and it fits with the new partnership at Peavey. “We’ve moved away from being just a source of supply to our international customers to more of a franchise model,” says Berschauer. That means a big push on making the Ace culture of training and customer service skills a key part of what it means to take on the Ace banner.

“Peavey’s field teams are now mirroring the best practices and training, the category sets and store optimization—they’re learning and understanding and then applying those concepts in the Canadian market.”

  Swedish discount DIY retailer Byggmax sees e-commerce exploding  

The impact of COVID worldwide has had positive effects on home improvement retailers. But the challenges are also similar.

In a recent talk with the Global Home Improvement Network (GHIN), Mattias Ankarberg, CWEO of Byggmax Group, shared some of the challenges and strategies his company has experienced over the past 16 months. Byggmax is a chain of discount home improvement stores based in Sweden. Ankarberg spoke with John Herbert, general secretary of the European DIY Retail Association (EDRA) and GHIN.

Ankarberg noted that the essential status helped his stores in many countries, including Finland and Sweden, while locations in Denmark and Finland did not enjoy such status and were forced to close for months at a time. In addition, the company has faced the familiar issues of supply chain restrictions, the explosion of e-commerce, and the impacts of the pandemic on the retailer’s workers that have plagued retail worldwide.

Byggmax Group oversees 169 Byggmax discount home improvement stores, 116 in Sweden, 43 in Norway, and ten in Finland. Sales by the group grew almost 30 percent in 2020, while e-commerce sales grew by 50 percent. “E-commerce has exploded for us. Click-and-collect has really taken off,” Ankarberg said.

When GHIN’s Herbert asked him what he had learned from the pandemic, Ankarberg referred to a range of factors. But the overriding one was getting accustomed to “just how much money people were willing to spend on home improvements and DIY.” His company is already up 29 percent so far this year. And he expects the trend to continue. “Our view is that the home is more important after the pandemic than it was even during the pandemic.”

He expects people to stay emotionally tied to their homes, while concepts like staycations will continue to be popular as people keep buying things to enjoy in their homes. This year won’t be as good as 2020, he says, but he does expect home spending to continue into 2022 and beyond.

Ankarberg also foresees that the online side of the business will keep growing and expects it will account for one-third of Byggmax’s sales by 2025.

People on the Move

Tristant L. Langelier has joined the Sexton Group as business development manager for Quebec. In his new position, Langelier will be instrumental in building relationships and growing the membership in Quebec. His background includes an account manager role at McCordick Glove and most recently a position as regional sales manager for KP Building Products, the aluminum and vinyl siding company. Sexton Group considers the hire an important step in helping the group make inroads in Quebec.


... that the annual Hardlines Retail Report is available next week? This powerful set of research is a marketer’s dream. If you want to know the sales growth and market shares of all the hardware and home improvement groups in Canada, and the strategic analysis of the top players, this is the report for you. It features more than 185 slides and dozens of photographs and tables. For more info and to pre-order, click here!


A new RONA affiliate store has opened in Dryden, Ont. Owners Lori and Marc Palsson acquired the store, which has been serving the Dryden area for over 40 years, in March and set about renovating it as a one-stop home improvement shop. It now features a new seasonal sales area as well as a kitchen, bath, and appliance centre.

Peavey Industries has been adding members to its Ace Hardware banner. Maple Avenu Ace Hardware is the new hardware and lumber outlet in Medicine Hat, Alta. It’s relying on Ace Canada’s alliance with Sexton Group to get access to both hardware and LBM assortments. Lealta Building Supplies in Lethbridge, Alta., a 28-year member of Sexton, is adding the Ace banner for its hardware needs. The business is owned by Dave and Tammy Jackson.

Ace Hardware in Port Hardy, B.C., is the newest addition to Ace’s corporate holdings. Always a part of the same family of companies, the store began as Macleods and transitioned to True Value in the early 1990s; it was rebranded to TRU Hardware before final realignment to Ace Hardware in 2015. Dealer-owners Vera and Terry Smyth are retiring after 35 years serving the community.


Retail sales were down 5.7 percent to $54.8 billion in April. The decline coincided with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and was the largest decline in retail sales since April 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 10.4 percent, the first decline in nine months. Despite the drop, sales remained above levels reached in February 2021. (StatCan)

U.S. home prices in April rose at their fastest pace since 2005, as bidders scrambled to compete for a tight supply of properties. Housing prices in 20 U.S. cities logged a 15 percent rise in April compared to a year prior. The pandemic has seen many families move away from city centres in search of more space. Low mortgage rates have also helped to fuel demand. Yet even with sales slowing, as more and more buyers are priced out, analysts see no sign of prices moderating any time soon. (S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index)


“We have worked hard to strengthen our national footprint, we are committed to bringing the full value of the Sexton Group to Quebec, and we are excited to enter this untapped market.” —Eric Palmer, vice president and general manager of the Sexton Group, on the recent hiring of a business development manager who will be focused on the province of Quebec.

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