Castle dealers warm to new store design
MISSISSAUGA — More than 70 stores, representing about one third of the membership of Castle Building Centres, have opted into a new store redesign program, and about 15% of those will redesign from the ground up, says Mike Frame, business development manager at Castle.
"Dealers are signing on because they see what it can do for their business," says Frame. "In Western Canada especially, weâ€™re seeing dealers who want to sign for the full complement right away." Smaller dealers are equally enthusiastic because the program is flexible enough to allow them to tailor it to their local market, he adds.
When launched, the first stores to sign up for the program were not typical Castle dealers. For example, Windsor Building Centre, which served as a prototype, is much larger than the average Castle store. That made it difficult for other dealers to visualize how the program would fit their stores, and may have contributed to the initial slow acceptance. Recently, however, it seems to be gaining steam, as have other Castle dealer initiatives.
Frame says the new look, which includes enhanced lighting, more signage, both in the aisle and the yard — along with increased promotional signage, more efficient use of the space above the shelves, and a cleaner, brighter storefront — is being embraced because dealers understand the redesign can boost their bottom line.
Thatâ€™s been true for Jamie Adams, owner of Allen Lumber in Woodstock, Ont. Adams began remodelling his store, which consisted of about 1,800 sq. ft. of retail and an acre of yard, last July. Most of the work was completed within about 10 weeks, except for the exterior of the store, which had to wait until this spring. During that time, the store tripled in size, allowing Adams to expand existing product lines and bring in new categories, including about 60 feet of kitchen and bath product.
For Adams, the in-store investment has paid off. Year to date sales are up about 30% since the revamp, and Adams believes that the redesign has contributed to the rise, especially with retail customers, who make up about 60% of his customer base.
"Stuff needs to be seen, especially by consumers. If contractors want something and they donâ€™t see it, they ask. But if a retail customer doesnâ€™t see something, they will often assume you donâ€™t have it," he says
Verschuren recognized for outstanding communication skills
TORONTO — The International Association of Business Communicators presented Annette Verschuren, president of Home Depot Canada, with the 2007 Canada News Wire Group Communicator of the Year award at the Toronto Board of Trade last week.
Given annually to a leader in the Greater Toronto Area, the award is judged by senior level executives in the field of communications, who recognized Verschuren for her exceptional understanding of the role communication plays in an organizationâ€™s success.
In accepting the award, Verschuren told that crowd that "effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful company," adding that her own willingness to listen to both customers and staff has led to the creation of some of Home Depotâ€™s most successful programs, including its association with Habitat for Humanity, and the Eco Options program, introduced in Canada under Verschuren in 2004 and recently rolled out in the U.S.
Menards enters new-home building business
WARSAW, Ind. — Menards, the third-largest home improvement dealer in North America, plans to develop and construct a 60-home subdivision next to its new store in this town, located between Fort Wayne and South Bend, Ind.
The Eau Claire, Wis.-based retailerâ€™s attorney, Garrett Caffee, told the Associated Press
that new-home construction would benefit Menards in several ways: it encourages growth in the community, sales of building materials, and its relationship with local builders and contractors.
reports that Menards has already built a 160-unit community near its store in Yorkville, Ill., and is planning to develop a 300-acre parcel in Urbana, Ill., for residential construction. The retailer did not disclose which builders or contractors it would use for its development in Warsaw or Urbana, but AP
quoted Jeremy Skinner, who works in Warsawâ€™s building and planning department, who said he expects the homes would be priced in the $150,000-$250,000 range.
Many industry observers have long felt that it was only a matter of time before one of the industryâ€™s giant home improvement retailers stuck its toe into homebuilding. Home Depot, which generated nearly $4 billion in installed sales last year, has until recently been the topic of such rumours.
At the least, the line separating dealers and builders continues to be blurred, especially among pro dealers that offer installation services. For example, a year ago Rome, Ga.-based Wheelerâ€™s reorganized its installation department — which contributes 20% of its $270 million in revenue — "so weâ€™d be set up more like a builder," says its installed sales director Rick Ariail.
In a pod-cast on installed sales aired earlier this month, Mike Butts, president of the DeWitt, Mich.-based construction services consultant, LBM Solutions, stated that "In many parts of the country, LBM dealers are offering almost turnkey solutions, taking the house from foundation to â€˜dried-in,â€™ and then turning the keys over to the builder."
Green products, exclusive deals on tap for Home Depot this fall
TORONTO — Eco-friendliness and exclusivity were the hallmarks of the Home Depot fall product launch, held here last week. Among the offerings shown to home improvement media were a new line of Wolfgang Puck cookware and expansions of hand and power tools and accessories by such vendors as DeWalt, Stanley and Bosch.
On view was a CIL paint display that will help consumers make colour decisions, and which will be exclusive to the giant retailer, and environmentally friendly, "click" linoleum tiles that can be easily installed by the DIY customer. Also added to the flooring mix this fall will be Ecocoverings, tiles made from recycled leather
Other vendors included wallpaper manufacturer Graham and Brown, who will make a significant extension to its line of mid-range papers, which will be available on homedepot.ca