vol. viii, #24 June 17, 2002  

* Home Depot tries to get men and women shopping together * TruServ rolls out latest electronic initiative * Réno-Dépôt has more stores in development * IRLY elects new directors * Canada's inflation slows in May  

"Suspicion of one's own motives is especially necessary for the philanthropist and the executive." - Bertrand Russell (20th century philosopher)


Montréal, QC — Réno-Dépôt continues to bolster its expansion efforts, especially in the Ontario market. It recently opened another store there, this one in Windsor. But the company is close to finalizing four more sites — all of them in the GTA, though none is south of Highway 401, the intention of CEO Sylvain Toutant, as quoted in these pages in recent months. Réno-Dépôt has 14 stores in Québec and six Building Box outlets in Ontario. Seven more sites are currently being reviewed, in addition to longer term considerations in both Québec and Ontario. The company continues to evaluate a location for Oakville, ON, just west of Toronto, where city council recently turned down an application by Réno-Dépôt.
Winnipeg, MB — TruServ Canada has updated its Electronic Product Information Catalogue and released it to its members. The catalogue, issued on CD, provides a full database of TruServ Canada's inventory, searchable by keyword, department, class or SKU number. The site has both a customer view and a member view. For customers, the dealer can set up the computer right on the sales floor to provide catalogue information, enabling customers to research products themselves. The members only area of the site gives additional pricing and shipping information. The co-op wholesaler intends to issue monthly updates of the CD, featuring a summary section to showcase the latest new products available.
Toronto, ON — At the latest conference of the Retail Council of Canada, held last week, Home Depot Canada president Annette Verschuren found herself amidst three men in suits. The topic was the shopping habits of men, but the emphasis was on clothes shopping, which left another, much larger, target market for disposable dollars up to Verschuren to defend. The rest of the panel consisted of Harry Rosen, renowned men's clothier with 18 stores across Canada, Leon Goren, president of Justwhiteshirts.com, and the outspoken Saul Korman of Korry's Apparel. Despite the rhetoric, the upshot of the panel was that, when shopping for hard goods at least, "People are just people and there's not that big a difference between the way women shop and men shop," Verschuren told Hardlines afterwards. There are some differences in the way the two sexes shop, however. Presentation is important, as men want to touch and feel a product more than women do. "Presentation has to be very crisp. Men like to make their decisions very quickly." However, it's important to create a shopping environment that has something for both sexes. "The main thing is to get them shopping together," Verschuren said. Home Depot — and any retailer, for that matter — must consider themselves in the entertainment business. To that end, Home Depot has invested heavily in the past couple of years to soften its stores' assortments and merchandising presentations to appeal more to women as well as men, especially since 50%-60% of Home Depot's instore shopping decisions are made by the woman. And once the woman is in the store along with the man, the value of the transaction will typically go up, Verschuren added.  
Canadian Tire 33.08 18.50 30.26
Canfor 11.70 8.08 11.45
Emco 12.42 3.71 11.50
Goodfellow 11.90 8.00 10.50
Home Depot 52.60 30.30 36.98
Hudson's Bay 20.10 12.50 13.57
Lowe's Cos. 49.99 24.99 46.84
Sears Canada 25.10 12.50 23.11
Sodisco-Howden 2.45 0.75 1.58
Taiga Forest 12.75 7.49 12.00
West Fraser 44.42 26.13 41.10
Spurred by high demand, the Ottawa region led new housing prices in Canada from March to April. The New Housing Price Index rose 0.6% from month to month, while compared with April 2001, the index of contractors' selling prices increased 3.7%, continuing the rise in year-over-year increases. Sales of existing homes in Canada fell 5.9% in May, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. But housing prices continue to climb, with the average selling price up 10.7% in May. On a seasonally adjusted basis, 23,927 homes traded hands in May, down 5.9 per cent from April when 25,439 units were sold. Sales measured by value slipped by 6% to $4.8 billion in May, compared with $5.1 billion in April. Lower energy prices tempered the rise in the Consumer Price Index, resulting in a 1.0% increase in Canada's inflation rate in May from May 2001. It's the slowest advance since December 2001 and a big drop from the 1.7% increase recorded in April 2002 The U.S. Commerce Department reports that overall retail sales in there slid 0.9% in May and 0.4% excluding autos — the biggest monthly drop since November. Retail spending makes up two-thirds of economic activity in the States.
Claiming that Kingfisher is no longer in breach of rules governing the deal, Castorama Dubois Investissment SCA has confirmed that Kingfisher is clear to buy the 45% of Castorama it doesn't already own. Kingfisher is expected to make a formal offer sometime in August. A new website from Home Hardware Stores targets consumers looking for paint and décor ideas. Visitors to www.beauti-tone.com can access colour tips, design trends, product information and tips on painting projects. Sears Canada, which picked up the Martha Stewart brand after Zellers dropped it a couple of weeks ago, is considering launching stand-alone Martha Stewart stores to capture more of the home décor dollar. It would compete against Hudson's Bay's Home Outfitters, says a report in the Globe and Mail. An appeal against Georgia-Pacific has upheld a US$9 million verdict in an asbestos liability lawsuit. A woman suffering from a rare asbestos-related lung cancer, claimed it was caused by a joint compound made by Georgia-Pacific in the early 1970s. GP faces about 62,000 such cases. Kmart Corp.'s net loss in its first quarter grew to US$1.45 billion from US$233 million a year earlier. The company took a big charge of US$758 million to write down inventory from 283 stores that were closed after the company filed for bankruptcy. Sales for the quarter fell 8.4% to US$7.64 billion, from US$8.34 billion a year earlier.
At the recent annual general meeting of IRLY Distributors Ltd., the following dealers, all in British Columbia, were elected to the board of directors: Ron Moss, president, Powell River … Mark Perry, vice-president, Vancouver … and Andy Anderson, secretary treasurer, Ashcroft. In addition, the following were named as directors: Rex Millard, Vanderhoof … Vern Bigelow, Lumby … Eric Hodson, Prince Rupert … and Jeff Davie, Kaslo. (604-596-1551) Home Depot has appointed Roger Plamondon as regional manager for Québec. He will oversee operations for Home Depot's stores in that province. He will report to Jesse Jessop, regional operations manager for Eastern Canada. Plamondon was most recently assistant vice-president development, legal and corporate affairs for Costco Canada. (416-609-0852) Dave Browne, national account manager for the Mibro Group, has left the company. No replacement has been named yet. (416-285-9000) Jeff Cohen, president of Home Depot's At-Home Services division in Atlanta, has decided to retire from the company "to pursue outside business opportunities."
"When I go to a hardware store, if I can find someone to help me, I'll spend money. I won't know what to do with the tools when I get home, mind you!" — Saul Korman, president of Korry's Apparel Ltd., who's been selling suits from a single location in Toronto's Greek neighbourhood for decades. ("Good morning, Howard. You know, people ask me if the suit is dead and I tell them, 'No,' it's not dead. I tell them the one thing they need to look good is the classic blue blazer. And Howard, we've got a special all this week…"). With Stern gone from Toronto airwaves, he was speaking this time to Annette Verschuren, president of Home Depot Canada,as part of a panel at the recent conference of the Retail Council of Canada. (My dad took me down to Korry's on the Danforth when I was in high school and bought me — yup, you guessed it — a blue blazer. — Michael)
The Spring issue of Hardlines Quarterly Report, available now, features: The Three Billion Dollar Club — find out which home improvement retailers dominate the Canadian scene...Who's winning the big box war? Big box expansion in Canada..... CLICK HERE to find out more!
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