View in your browser

June 13, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #23


  • Management changes at Canac support strategy for continued growth
  • Top merchant at Home Hardware talks shop in latest Hardlines Podcast
  • Insights from the Retail Council of Canada convention
  • What is brand alignment and how did Canadian Tire pull it off?

PLUS: Lowe’s Canada raises money for kids, Quebec dealer is TIMBER MART’s newest member, Home Depot launches children’s décor line, Sobeys’ drops Air Miles, Home Depot Canada and Lowe’s Canada receive Energy Star awards, Dollarama’s Q1 profits rise, Jeld-Wen garners award from Energy Star, value of residential building permits falls in B.C. and Ontario, and more!

Management changes at Canac support strategy for continued growth

The departure of Pierre Laberge from the helm of Canac last month may have come as a surprise to many, but the Laberge family remains firmly in control of the Quebec home improvement chain.

Based in L’Ancienne-Lorette, in the Quebec City region, Canac has 31 stores throughout the province—with number 32 scheduled to open early in 2023—plus sales well in excess of $1-billion (source: Hardlines 2022 Retail Report). Canac employs 4,200 people and may, in fact, be the largest independently owned home improvement retailer in Canada.

Pierre Laberge retired early in May after 45 years in the business. He had been at the helm of both Canac and its parent company, Laberge Group, for two years, following the retirement of company founder Jean Laberge, Pierre’s cousin.

However, according to the company itself, Canac had already structured its higher management to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Martin Gamache took over from Pierre Laberge at Canac. Already the group’s director of operations, he keeps those responsibilities in addition to being named Canac’s general manager. Laberge Group’s new president, in charge of overseeing all the Laberge companies, including Canac, is Gilles Laberge.

All these changes will help support continued growth at Canac. It already has a dozen stores in the Quebec City region, but only about four in the Montreal area. Its next store will be in Contrecœur, 57 km northeast of Montreal along the St. Lawrence River. That store was supposed to be open by the end of this year, but complications due to COVID have delayed that until next spring.

Canac is also thinking about a new store near Hawkesbury, Ont., halfway between Montreal and Ottawa on the Ottawa River. There have also been rumours of a store in the Ottawa area. But, for now, Canac remains focused on expansion in the province of Quebec, where it anticipates adding several more stores, at the rate of one a year, in the coming years.


Top merchant at Home Hardware talks shop in latest Hardlines Podcast

A brand-new podcast from Hardlines features an in-depth conversation with the senior merchant at Home Hardware Stores Ltd.

Marianne Thompson is the company’s chief merchandising officer. On the latest episode of the Hardlines podcast series “What’s In Store”, she shares details about how Home Hardware has invested directly in its supply chain. And how it’s using new technology to track selling cycles, manage product orders, and get closer to its customers.

Thompson talks about the importance of the new buying team that has been created in St. Jacobs over the past few years. Following her arrival in 2019, a number of company veterans retired and both the hardware and LBM buying teams underwent a reorganization.

Whereas Home Hardware Stores Ltd. had traditionally promoted from within, maintaining Home Hardware’s culture and values, Thompson has brought a new rigour. The company has now been looking outward, hiring new buyers from other industries such as grocery—and even from competitors.

For example, Carol Crystal joined Home Hardware from Lowe’s Canada in 2020 as director, merchandise hardlines. Last month, Crystal, whose background also includes Walmart Canada and the Hudson’s Bay Co., was promoted to VP, merchandise LBM.

“Our strength at Home here lies in ensuring that our talent and our culture remain a competitive advantage,” Thompson says. New team members “come in with this exceptional level of expertise. And it continues to propel our business forward as we really stay focused on our vision, which is to be Canada’s most trusted and preferred home improvement retail brand.”

The new team is well positioned with the skills and experience to manage change as Home Hardware has been transitioning from a wholesaler to being more of an integrated retailer. “This is supporting our growth of moving Home’s business forward. So, I'm very, very proud of the team here at Home.”

(The full conversation with Marianne Thompson covers many more topics. You can hear it in its entirety at the Hardlines Podcast Series, “What’s in Store. To make sure you don’t miss a podcast, sign up here. Hardlines Podcasts are a free service to you, our Faithful Readers!)


Insights from the Retail Council of Canada convention

What do staffing challenges, mental health, and brand alignment all have in common? They were all themes being explored at the latest “Store” convention held recently in Toronto by the Retail Council of Canada.

The opening session was a panel that tackled no less significant a topic than the trends facing retail coming out of COVID. The big one, said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, is the importance of aligning the in-store experience with expectations customers will form online.

Another is labour. Patricia Baker, director for retail at Scotia Capital, stressed the importance of hiring people who understand the digital world, who know tech and data and how to use it. “I think labour is going to drive change over the next several years,” she said.

Customer expectations will continue to rise in the face of new technology, as well. When retailers are figuring out how to deliver groceries within 15 minutes, “The bar is rising,” Charlebois added.

Other sessions covered the human side of the business in even more personal terms. Henry’s Cameras is a well-known photography store in Toronto, considered the go-to for any serious photographer. Gillian Henry is the CEO of this family-owned business. She shared the very personal story of her battle with mental illness, which started with a breakdown during her first year at university. It was eventually diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

She urged companies to be willing to talk about mental health. That’s the best way to create awareness and acceptance, she said. Too many people are concerned that talking about their own issues will stigmatize them and cause them to lose their job.

“You have to show that it’s okay not to be okay.”

What is brand alignment and how did Canadian Tire pull it off?

A well-defined and focused brand can not only present value to consumers but also help guide staff. At the latest “Store” convention held by the Retail Council of Canada, Susan O’Brien, chief brand and customer officer for Canadian Tire Corp., talked about how far-reaching the effects of a good brand strategy can be.

“Even staff can take pride that’s fostered when they’re involved in your brand,” she told the audience of retail representatives from across the country.

Throughout the pandemic, Canadian Tire faced challenges along with the rest of the retail community, but its high profile among Canadians made it more vulnerable to criticism. For example, when its website crashed in the early days of the lockdowns, the story made newspapers. But despite store closures and efforts to keep its people safe, Canadian Tire found money for COVID response and for investing in local communities.

On Nov. 22, 2021, O’Brien and Canadian Tire CEO Greg Hicks presented the new branding to the entire staff: “We are here to make life in Canada better.” The statement requires melding a company’s purpose with the need to make money and grow sales, but together these ideas make a company better, said O’Brien.

“Being there for Canadians isn’t just part of our brand. It is our brand,” she stressed.

People on the Move

Carol Crystal has been promoted to VP, merchandise LBM, at Home Hardware Stores Ltd. She joined the company as director, merchandise hardlines in August 2020 and moved to the comparable role in LBM in June 2021. Previously, she held executive positions at Lowe’s Canada, Walmart Canada, and Hudson’s Bay Co. In her new role, Crystal reports to chief merchandising officer Marianne Thompson.


... that Hardlines Classified Ads are an effective—and targeted—way to connect with experts in the hardware and building materials sector for your next hire? Affordable rates and a broad reach through our huge database of industry executives, managers, store owners, and operators make Hardlines Classifieds a valuable tool for finding your next key hire! Contact Michelle Porter at the Hardlines World Headquarters to get hiring today.


Lowe’s Canada has completed this year’s campaign to raise money and awareness for Opération Enfant Soleil and Children’s Miracle Network. Thanks to Lowe’s, RONA, Réno-Dépôt, participating dealer store teams, customers’ generosity, and donations from vendors, the network has raised $1,470,000 for these organizations this year.

Arthur Rivest Inc. in Sainte-Julienne, Que., is the newest member of TIMBER MART. Founded as a sawmill business in 1950, Rivest went on to branch out into hardware and building materials. Today, Arthur Rivest’s grandchildren, Michel Ricard and Nathalie Fortin, own the business, while his great-granddaughter Marie-Michèle Ricard, manages it. The retailer boasts a 2,000-square-foot store, a 4,800-square-foot warehouse, and a 2,400-square-foot garage.

The Home Depot has launched a line of children’s décor products exclusive to its U.S. e-retail site. The collection of almost 70 items includes everything from bedding to shower curtains.

Empire Co., parent of grocer Sobeys, will drop Air Miles and has instead acquired a stake in the Scene+ rewards program. Sobeys intends to exit the Air Miles program on a region-by-region basis, beginning with Atlantic Canada, between August and the first quarter of 2023. Founded in 2007 by Scotiabank and Cineplex, Scene+ has more recently expanded its range of rewards to include options for redeeming points at restaurants, Expedia travel bookings, and with gift cards for retailers such as Apple and Best Buy.

Dollarama’s Q1 profits rose by 28 percent to $145.5-million, compared to $113.6-million a year earlier. Sales for the quarter were up 12.4 percent to $1.1-billion. The removal of pandemic restrictions helped to drive store traffic, while inflation has made discount retailers an attractive destination. Dollarama opened 10 new stores during the quarter.

Home Depot Canada and Lowe’s Canada are among the recipients of this year’s Energy Star Canada awards. Overseen by Natural Resources Canada, the program recognizes organizations that offer energy-efficient products and technology to Canadians. Lowe’s Canada was named Retailer of the Year, National. It’s the company’s third win from Energy Star. Home Depot Canada was recognized for Sustained Excellence for the second time, its 14th Energy Star Canada award overall.


Jeld-Wen was a recipient of an award this year from Energy Star. It won in the windows and doors category. The company has now earned nine Energy Star awards, including six in that category.


The value of building permits fell 0.6 percent in April to $11.7-billion. Residential permits decreased 3.3 percent to $7.7-billion nationally, driven mostly by lower intentions in Ontario and British Columbia, while seven provinces posted increases. That decline was largely offset by a five-percent gain in the non-residential sector. (StatCan)


Metro will no longer sell single-use plastic bags at its stores beginning this fall. The grocer says the move will mean that 330 million bags will be kept out of circulation annually. It follows other retailers who have phased out single-use plastics. Most recently, Walmart Canada pulled them from its stores in April.


“Each bedroom set leans into a central theme, including nautical décor, the great outdoors, modern princesses and more, to appeal to a broad range of children and parents.”
—Some of the verbiage that accompanied a release about Home Depot’s new line of products created to appeal to children. The products are available on the retailer’s U.S. e-commerce site.


Classified Ads

Job Opportunity- Senior National Account Manager- Kidde Canada Sales 

Carrier’s Fire &  Security business develops a comprehensive product portfolio to protect buildings, people, and assets; providing innovative products that include fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors, fire suppression systems, advanced software and hardware, IP solutions, wireless communications, electronic locking systems, and mobile applications,. Among its leading brands are Kidde, LenelS2, Supra, Onity, Fenwal, and Marioff, offering robust security and life safety systems, affordable, flexible lock and key management solutions, and fire safety equipment and systems.

Kidde Canada, a division of Carrier Fire & Security,  is seeking a Senior National Sales Account Manager to lead top National Accounts in Canada with responsibilities that include working with sales and marketing groups to provide action plans for achieving price integrity, margin enhancement, and well-coordinated project execution and growth within the assigned channel. Reporting to the Vice President of Retail Sales, the Account Manager will emphasize execution of strategic sales and marketing goals at the retail level.

For more information, please click here:  Senior National Account Manager Canada at Carrier


Job Opportunities: Business Development Managers – Ontario

Castle Building Centres Group is an industry leader among Buying Groups in the Lumber and Building Materials segment in Canada.

Castle is seeking two highly motivated individuals with strong relationship and communication skills that can manage and develop our future growth in Ontario. Regions are divided into Northern/Eastern Ontario and Central/Southwest/Niagara Region. This position requires an individual who is familiar with the Ontario Lumber and Building Supply industry, willing to travel extensively and accustomed to working remote from head office.

Reporting to the Director of Business Development, you welcome the opportunity to work with a dynamic group of independent LBM dealers while planning and executing our future growth initiatives. Providing continual communication to our Ontario Members while understanding their needs is fundamental to your success. Sound computer, coaching and presentation skills combined with excellent organizational skills are imperative

Castle Building Centres Group offers a comprehensive compensation package including full benefits.

All submissions will be treated with complete confidentiality. Please forward by email your resume in confidence to:

E-mail: jobs@castle.ca

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd.
100 Milverton Drive, Suite 400
Mississauga, Ontario L5R 4H1

Looking to post a classified ad? Email Michelle for a free quote.



Privacy Policy | HARDLINES.ca

HARDLINES is published weekly (except monthly in December and August) by HARDLINES Inc.
© 2022 by HARDLINES Inc.
HARDLINES™ the electronic newsletter www.HARDLINES.ca
Phone: 416.489.3396; Fax: 647.259.8764

Michael McLarney — President— mike@hardlines.ca
Steve Payne — Acting Editor— steve@hardlines.ca
Geoff McLarney — Assistant Editor— geoff@hardlines.ca

David Chestnut — VP & Publisher— david@hardlines.ca
Michelle Porter— Marketing & Events Manager— michelle@hardlines.ca
Accounting — accounting@hardlines.ca

The HARDLINES "Fair Play" Policy: Reproduction in whole or in part is very uncool and strictly forbidden and really and truly against the law. So please, play fair! Call for information on multiple subscriptions or a site license for your company. We do want as many people as possible to read HARDLINES each week — but let us handle your internal routing from this end!

1-3 Subscribers: $495
-6 Subscribers: $660
7 -10 Subscribers: $795
11-20 Subscribers $1,110
21-30 Subscribers $1,425

We have packages for up to 100 subscribers!

For more information call 416-489-3396 or click here
You can pay online by VISA/MC/AMEX at our secure website, by EFT, or send us money. Please make cheque payable to HARDLINES.