View in your browser

June 7, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #23



  • The battle for Quebec dealers heats up as banners seek to grow market share
  • Homegrown Quebec banners get creative to hold onto dealers close to home
  • Personnel changes continue at BMR’s head office under new CEO

PLUS: Rob Wallace becomes Home Hardware’s VP store ops and e-commerce, Richelieu acquires Uscan, Jason Disher joins BMF, CanWel parent changes its name, Marvin Ellison named Lowe’s chairman, Lowe’s Canada raises money for Children’s Miracle Network, building permits stay strong, U.S. construction rates, and more!

The battle for Quebec dealers heats up as banners seek to grow market share

The announcement last week of the addition by Home Hardware of three new Quebec stores is just one part of the ongoing changes in that province. Dealer development in Quebec is a strategic focus of many of the groups and banners. And no wonder: the province has remained a tough sell for many banners through the years, with barriers to entry that include language and culture.

La belle province was one of the fastest-growing markets under COVID. According to the 2021 Hardlines Retail Report, it has more than 1,100 hardware, building supply, and big box stores and represents more than one-fifth of overall retail home improvement sales in Canada. Those sales were up a healthy 17 percent in 2020, ahead of the overall growth of the country last year.

Home Hardware’s latest signup was with Bernard Hamel. Under his business, Roger Grenier Inc., he and his partners are bringing three RONA stores into the Home Hardware fold in Quebec. They consist of a 15,000-square-foot building centre in Victoriaville, a 5,000-square-foot building centre in Warwick, and a 1,000-square-foot hardware store in Laurier-Station.

Home Hardware has added seven stores in the province of Quebec this year and the company says it’s on track to have one of its most successful years for store conversions. Just days earlier, it announced the conversion of Quincaillerie Y. Gosselin et Fils Ltd., an independent in Frelighsburg, Que., to the Home Hardware banner. The combined grocery and hardware store includes 5,000 square feet of retail space. The owner is François Gosselin; his father Yvanhoe Gosselin founded the family business 75 years ago.

A week before that, Home Hardware announced L’Acadien Bricoleur Inc. had purchased Quincaillerie Maurice Hamel & Fils Inc., a BMR dealer in Sainte-Croix. The acquisition makes Jean-Claude Parr the dealer-owner of six Home Hardware stores in the province. Another deal, earlier this year, saw Home Hardware dealer-owners Hugues Nepveu and Isabelle Patry acquire Centre de Rénovation St-Augustin in Mirabel. It’s their fifth location.

Home Hardware’s biggest gain, and one that will drive up its market share significantly in the province, was the addition of Patrick Morin to its ranks. The deal was an indirect one, made in partnership with Groupe Turcotte, a network of seven Home Hardware stores in Quebec, and involves all 21 Patrick Morin stores and a distribution centre.  Formerly part of Independent Lumber Dealers Co-operative, the stores will continue to operate under the existing Patrick Morin banner and branding.

Home Hardware is hardly alone. Other groups continue to look for ways to grow their ranks—and their purchasing volumes—through new members in Quebec. While all of them have seen some wins and some losses as dealers move from banner to banner, Quebec appears to offer a net gain for the groups. Early in April, TIMBER MART signed Matériaux Appalaches in Lévis—making it the third Quebec dealer to join TIMBER MART this year. Earlier in the year, it added Méga Aluminium, a specialty building materials dealer in Gatineau, Que. These gains come after the group signed another five dealers in 2020.

Castle Building Centres is another group that has made some significant gains in Quebec. Earlier this month, Castle welcomed Grossiste MR Boucher of Saint-Antonin, a wholesale plumbing and HVAC supplier owned by brothers André and Marc Boucher. In April, Castle added Deschenes & Cie. in Price, a gateway community to the Gaspésie. In February, it signed Distribution D’Astous in Quebec’s Bas-Saint-Laurent region.

TORBSA has become more aggressive about dealer recruitment under its president, Paul Williams, who took over last year. One of his targets is Quebec, where the Ontario-based buying group currently has no members. At the beginning of 2021, TORBSA brought on Simon Gouin as VP, business development. The hire gives TORBSA an inroad to Quebec, as Gouin is himself a former dealer who had two stores in the province.

Fuelled by a strong home improvement market and the eagerness of the major banners to grow there, Quebec is likely to remain a hotbed of acquisitions and new alliances for the months and years to come.

Homegrown Quebec banners get creative to hold onto dealers close to home

As various groups vie for increased presence in Quebec (see story above), banners that are based in that province are working hard to keep their visibility strong.

BMR Group recently turned to the province’s favourite spokesperson, BMR brand ambassador Hugo Girard, to appear in a new web series, Built Like Hugo. The videos feature the retired strongman presenting outdoor project ideas that viewers can reproduce at home. Free plans and step-by-step instructions are designed to help viewers build anything from a ring toss game to an urban henhouse on a weekend.

RONA continues to make its biggest gains working with its existing dealers to grow their networks. And that formula is proving successful in Quebec as elsewhere. Karine Anctil, owner of the RONA store in Rivière-du-Loup, acquired a Home Hardware Building Centre in La Pocatière. Another success was with dealer-owner Carlos Munoz of RONA of Quincaillerie des Rivières in Waterville, who acquired a second independent affiliate location in the province’s Eastern Townships, Quincaillerie A. Pouliot, a former TIMBER MART member in Beauharnois.

One of the fastest-growing home improvement retailers in the country is a Quebec chain. Canac, a family-owned company with 31 stores, saw its sales climb by almost 30 percent last year. It opened its newest store at the beginning of March. The 40,000 square-foot store has a 10,000-square-foot outdoor garden centre and a 24,000 square-foot lumber yard. Canac has two more stores in the works, including one that will take it outside the Quebec market for the first time.

Personnel changes continue at BMR’s head office under new CEO

Changes continue at BMR Group as it settles in under its new CEO, Alexandre Lefebvre. He came over from Lefebvre & Benoît, of which BMR is a major shareholder, and replaced Pascal Houle in the top job. Houle, who had led BMR since 2015, moved back to the parent company, Sollio Cooperative Group, as COO.

Since then, a series of hires and shuffles have occurred at BMR. The latest round of appointments was to its merchandising and vendor relations department, reflecting BMR’s commitment to building out both these departments as it grows its overall business.

The company said in a release that the appointments “optimize our organizational structure in order to be more efficient in supporting our dealers and suppliers in their day-to-day operations and to provide them with more effective and customized support.”

These most recent promotions are Paul Philippe Boucher, director, forestry products; Nancy Metsos, co-ordinator, sales office; Isabelle Perron, manager, analysis and merchandising; Audrey Lemay-Poirier, director, Agrizone; and Jérémie Brunelle, director, innovation.

“These appointments were awarded to BMR Group employees who have distinguished themselves through their know-how and their extensive knowledge of the market,” department VP, Bruno Baldessari, said. “We are pleased to entrust these exceptional colleagues, who have clearly demonstrated their expertise and strategic insight, with greater responsibilities.”

Barely a week earlier, BMR announced the appointment of François Grenier as VP of human resources. He was previously BMR’s senior director of labour relations and occupational health and safety.

Besides these latest changes, BMR has undergone some other shifts in personnel through the winter and spring. Martin Menard, a 13-year veteran of the company on the buying side, left in March, only to join Lowe’s Canada a month later as director for floor covering.

Soon after, Pierre Nolet, who had headed up BMR’s dealer development team, departed and likewise ended up at Lowe’s Canada, in a similar role as director of business development. Stephany Robinson, who had been part of Nolet’s team at BMR, also found her way to Lowe’s Canada, where she now serves as a national accounts manager.

People on the Move

Rob Wallace has been promoted to VP, store operations and eCommerce at Home Hardware Stores Ltd., effective June 28. Wallace brings 30 years of home improvement experience to the position, including roles in retail applications, merchandise services, public relations, and most recently as VP, marketing. This expanded new role follows the move by Darrin Noble to step back from the business. Home Hardware’s manufacturing operations at Beauti-Tone Paint and Home Products will transition to the company’s logistics team under an expanded role for VP John Dyksterhuis. Noble will assist in a support role through this transition as Home recruits a director, manufacturing to support these businesses. Wallace will continue to oversee marketing while the company recruits for the vacancy.

At Burlington Merchandising and Fixtures, Jason Disher has joined its team as national account manager. Disher started his career as a store manager at a Home Depot and has spent the last 18 years on the vendor side, mainly with Allegion. He will be responsible for managing BMF’s display and retail accounts, supporting vendors with merchandising programs, display needs, and big box resets.

The board of directors at Lowe’s Cos. has named Marvin Ellison chairman of the board, in addition to his current roles as president and CEO. Ellison takes over from Richard Dreiling, who has shifted from the chairman role to act as lead independent director.



... that Hardlines not only reports on the news of today but keeps its eye on what’s happening in the future? What lies ahead for the industry after COVID-19 is the topic of our latest podcast. Our editor, Christina Manocchio, in conversation with Hardlines’ Michael McLarney, discusses what to expect through the remainder of 2021 and beyond as supply chain disruptions continue and prices and demand remain high. Click here to listen now and join our mailing list so you don’t miss out on future podcasts!


Lowe’s Canada donated more than $1.2 million to Children’s Miracle Network and Opération Enfant Soleil to support the work of 14 children’s hospitals across the country. Teams from Lowe’s, RONA, and Réno-Dépôt corporate, as well as participating affiliated stores, collected donations and sold tickets. Lowe’s Canada added to the amount raised with a corporate donation. Since 2018, Lowe’s Canada has presented more than $3.3 million to the two organizations through its annual fundraising campaigns and corporate donations.


Former Hardware Retailing editor Bob Vereen has died at the age of 96. Born in Minnesota in 1924, he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the Second World War. He joined the National Retail Hardware Association, now the NHPA, in 1963. After a period as an editor and publication manager, he was promoted to associate publisher in 1983. The following year, he was appointed senior VP and head of the Home Center Institute. After his retirement in 1987, Vereen helped to found the Worldwide DIY Council and the Bird-Dog Awards, which continue today as the Retailers’ Choice Awards.


Richelieu Hardware has announced the acquisition of Uscan Industrial Fasteners Ltd., effective June 1. Uscan is an importer and distributor of screws, bolts, and industrial fasteners. It was founded in 1970 in Montreal, where it operates a distribution centre serving the retail market, mainly in Eastern Canada. In a release, Richelieu said the acquisition will strengthen its presence in the retail home improvement market.

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. has changed its name to Doman Building Materials Group Ltd. CEO and chairman Amar Doman says the new name reflects the growth of the company, whose operations now extend beyond Canada into the U.S., including Hawaii. Its previous TSE ticker CWX will be replaced with the label DBM. The name of CanWel Building Materials Division, which wholesales LBM to Canadian dealers, remains unchanged, however.


The total value of building permits reached $11.1 billion in April, thanks to a surge in commercial permits. Even though April’s number is down 0.5 percent from March, it still represents a historically high level. In the residential sector, permits fell 6.7 percent to $7.7 billion. Single-family permits were down seven percent to $3.6 billion, mainly as a result of fewer new projects in Ontario and Quebec. Multi-family dwellings dropped 6.5 percent to $4.1 billion, with declines most notable in British Columbia and Quebec. Commercial permits were up 28.7 percent to $1.9 billion. (StatCan)

April’s construction spending in the U.S. edged up by 0.2 percent. The seasonally adjusted annual rate for the month was $1.52 trillion, up 9.8 percent from April 2020. Homebuilding rose by one percent and now stands 29.7 percent above last April. (U.S. Census Bureau)


The federal government has unveiled a program that will offer homeowners grants of up $5,600 to make energy-saving adjustments to their properties. Eligible properties must be primary residences and must undergo evaluations before and after the retrofit by a Natural Resources Canada-certified energy advisor, who will determine which upgrades can be covered.


“After a great deal of consideration, I have made the difficult decision to step away from Home Hardware. Home has been nothing short of wonderful in accommodating my decision and I can’t thank them enough for the many years of meaningful relationships, memorable experiences and commercial successes that we have enjoyed together. I am proud to have contributed to the growth of this great retailer and to have worked with teams that developed two of Home’s highest performing business segments….”
—Darrin Noble, vice president, store operations and Burford Paint and Home Products, on his departure from Home Hardware, in a note he posted on Linkedin. Noble thanked his team at Home Hardware and colleagues in the paint industry. His resignation is effective June 25.



Classified Ads

Key Account Manager

Masco Canada is looking for a new Retail Sales member with strong analytical skills to complete its team

  • Develop strategies to grow with Regional and Independent Customers.
  • Support activities on selected National Accounts.


For more information: https://masco.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/MascoCanada/job/CA---Ontario---Mississauga/Key-Account-Manager_REQ31308



Wolf Gugler Executive Search has two new career opportunities that we’ve been retained to search out talent for:

Director of Marketing, undisputed category leader in the hardware space. NE Toronto, great company, and compensation package.

Director of National Accounts focused on mass retailers such as Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, BBB and office and club retail. US based, remote position. Excellent compensation package and a place on the US leadership team awaits you.

You can apply online at www.wolfgugler.com or call Wolf Gugler @ 888-848-3006 for a confidential chat. Referrals are welcome and appreciated.



Senior Director, Business Development – Eastern Canada

We are looking for a new member to join our team at BMR Group in the context of a remote job (mainly on the road). This person will work under the Vice President, Strategy and Network Development and will have as main responsibilities:

  • Design and create the development strategy for the dealer network in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes.
  • Research and identify new business opportunities across Canada.

Competitive salary and benefits!
For more information about this opportunity and to apply:  https://www.bmr.ca/en/jobs/a20210506-02


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.
© 2020 by HARDLINES Inc.
HARDLINES™ the electronic newsletter www.HARDLINES.ca
Phone: 416.489.3396; Fax: 647.259.8764

Michael McLarney — President— mike@hardlines.ca
Christina Manocchio — Editor— christina@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 internalrouting 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.