"Loneliness can be conquered only by those who can bear solitude." - Paul Tillich (U.S. existential philosopher)
vol. viii, #12 March 25, 2002  
* Ace signs 34 stores in Alberta * Sodisco-Howden goes into the red in 4Q * Home Depot buyers at Cologne Show * Chicago show faces new realities * McMunn & Yates buys another store * Sales by building materials wholesalers up in January

Ace Hardware Canada has finalized a deal with United Farmers of Alberta to supply it with hardware.

The deal, aimed at expanding UFA's focus beyond strictly farm products, was the result of trials in High River and Claresholm that began in mid-2001 after Ace beat out other suppliers for the program. "We refurbished and tested in two stores, and based on the test results, UFA wanted to move forward and expand their hardlines assortment," says Dunc Wilson, vice-president of merchandising and marketing for Ace Hardware Canada. The program will involve all 34 of UFA's farm supply stores throughout Alberta. The co-op retailer had 2001 sales of $833.5 million in farm supplies, petroleum and other products to 110,000 members. The arrangement is a supply deal only, says Wilson, and does not involve adoption of the Ace banner. "It just shows that Ace is going to stay. The market is competitive, but Ace is doing the right things to stay here," Wilson adds. UFA tried another partnership back in 2000 when it formed a joint venture with AgPro Grain, a subsidiary of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, for the sale of crop input products. However, the joint venture was dissolved a year later.
Faced with flat attendance and fewer exhibitors, The National Hardware Show is working hard to make the show more inviting - and more affordable. This year's show, to be held August 11-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, will fit into only two buildings, shrinking exhibition space from a high of 1.2 million sq.ft. in three buildings down to under 900,000 sq.ft. this year. But costs will also be trimmed, in an effort to make the show more affordable for delegates and exhibitors alike. Drayage costs will be cut, while booth prices were reduced by a dollar a square foot in an early bird special that ended November 1, 2001. However, that special will be repeated at next year's show. Advertising rates have been cut, too, and the show will again release the attendee list at no charge to qualified exhibitors for pre-show mailings. For anyone coming to Chicago for the show, hotel rates in the city are being rolled back at least 25%.
A delegation of Home Depot buyers from Atlanta was given a special meeting room at the recent Cologne International Hardware Fair/DIY'TEC to facilitate meetings with potential vendors. The original team was to be headed up by senior vice-president merchandising, Jerry Edwards. But he and two others did not show, leaving a group of 12, all from the U.S. Duane Goodwin, merchandising vice-president, who headed up the Home Depot contingent, says the venue was their idea, and noted it's a strategy they've used at other shows. The first time it was used in Canada was during the Western Show in Vancouver in the early 90s. At that time, the show got a lot of criticism for its apparent preferential treatment of one retailer over the others. Ever in search of new products, which he called "our retail lifeblood," Goodwin reported that the venue worked well for his people. "It's been a very good show. It's afforded a lot of vendors [the means] to find us." Will he repeat it next year? "Not sure," he replies succinctly.
Amounts were finally set last Friday for countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The countervailing duty is 19.3%, and the anti-dumping rate is set at at 9.7%. While the total, 29%, is slightly lower than the 32% originally expected, the impact of the ruling could affect as many as 60,000 jobs in British Columbia alone. The counter-vailing duty rate comes into effect in mid-May, while duties for the anti-dumping portion won't be finalized until May 6. That's when the International Trade Commission rules on whether the U.S. industry was injured by Canadian lumber imports.
Global economies, competition and retail best practices were all part of the agenda at the recent Interlink Conference in Marbella, Spain. Delegates representing 11 retail co-operatives in nine countries, including Ace Hardware in the U.S., MICA Plus in South Africa and Mitre 10 in Australia, were present. "The Interlink Conference is an excellent opportunity for like-minded businesses to share ideas and learn from each other," says Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Ltd. "Each member of Interlink heads up a retail organization that is member-focussed and runs on the cooperative business model. We have unique challenges and opportunities that transcend the markets in which we each operate." Formed in 1985, the group meets annually to share unique perspectives and ideas, and develop mutually beneficial business strategies. Total retail sales of Interlink members in 2001 were in excess of US$35 billion.
Canadian Tire 30.15 29.55 30.00
Canfor 12.60 8.08 10.20
Emco 9.55 3.35 9.20
Goodfellow 10.95 8.00 10.50
Home Depot 53.73 30.30 49.36
Hudson's Bay 20.10 12.50 14.79
Lowe's Cos. 48.88 24.99 45.03
Sears Canada 25.00 12.50 21.25
Sodisco-Howden 2.63 0.75 1.83
Taiga Forest 12.75 6.80 11.90
West Fraser 43.10 26.13 41.40
Sales for Sodisco-Howden Group bumped up 8.1% to $109.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2001, compared with $100.2 million in 4Q 2000. The company showed a loss of $4.2 million for the quarter. Blaming reduced volumes during the first half of the year, sales for the year were down 3.0%, from $422.3 million to $409.7 million. Increased expenses in the second half of the year resulted in earnings before interest and taxes (EBITDA) of $9.7 million, down from $14.6 million a year earlier. Costs associated with restructuring in 2001 amounted to $11.0 million. McMunn & Yates Building Supplies Ltd. has purchased Norwest Do-it Center in Thompson, MB from Prendiville Industries. The store is 10,000 sq.ft. in size and serves both the retail and contractor markets in northern Manitoba. This is the ninth retail outlet for McMunn & Yates, which also has a truss plant, a flooring store and a roofing and drywall outlet, and had sales of about $30 million in 2001. Canadian Tire opened a 106,000-sq.ft. distribution centre last week in Kirkland, QC, near Montréal. The site employs about 75 people and will support daily shipments of automotive hard parts and accessories to CTC's 133 stores in Québec and the Maritimes. Matco-Ravary Inc. announced strong growth in its first quarter with sales up 13.3% to $12.1 million. Greatest growth was with contractor customers, up 15%, while retail trade was up 11%. The operating loss typical of the company in the first quarter was reduced from $277,210 in 2000 to $65,678. Sico Inc. reported sales for fiscal 2001 of $22.4 million, up 8.9% from a year earlier. The company posted earnings before goodwill and amortization of $9.3 million, up 19.6% from $7.8 million a year earlier. Net earnings reached $8.6 million, up 13.7% from $7.6 million in 2000. Home Depot has doubled its number of stores in Mexico with the acquisition of Del Norte, a four-outlet chain in Juarez. The deal is subject to approval by the Mexican government. Del Norte's CEO, Eduardo Cantu, will join the team in Mexico. Home Depot is also building a store on a newly acquired site in Mexicali, and work will begin soon on another in Tijuana. Both are scheduled to open by the end of 2002. Home Depot entered Mexico last year with the acquisition of Total Home, a four-store chain in Monterrey and Mexico City. Scotts Co. has acquired the Lawn Co., a privately held lawn care company in Boston. This boosts the Scotts LawnService unit to operations in 35 U.S. markets, reputedly making it the second-largest player in the lawn care business after ServiceMaster.
In its fourth consecutive monthly increase, retail sales in Canada were up in January by 1.1% from December to $25.3 billion. Canadian sales have risen more than twice as much as U.S. retail sales since September 11, 2001, up 6.3% versus 2.7% south of the border. Sales by wholesalers were up 2.0% to $3.3 billion in January, according to Statistics Canada. Lumber and building materials were especially strong, gaining 5.8%. Hardware, metals and plumbing were up 0.9%. After slow growth in 2001, manufacturing shipments in Canada climbed 3.1% in January, says Statistics Canada. Manufacturers trimmed their inventories by 0.5% that month, the eighth consecutive decline.
The Westcoast 2002 Trade Show and Convention, held in Surrey, BC March 8-9,featured 192 booths and hosted more than 160 building supply and hardware retailers and their staff. The event was hosted by the BSDA of B.C.
At its annual meeting last week, the BSDA of B.C. elected Carole Hamanishi of Wilway Lumber Sales Ltd. in Abbotsford, BC as chairperson of its board of directors. (604-513-2205) A former GE executive, Francis S. Blake, has been named executive vice president - strategy, business development and corporate operations at Home Depot in Atlanta. He replaces Dennis Carey.
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MERGER OPPORTUNITY: Medium sized distribution co. with proprietary products and lots of dreams seeking merger with similar company to make a bigger impact in Canada and the US. We have vendor numbers for most of the biggies, and some products that are going to grow exponentially in the next two years. Together we may be better. Send us your thoughts in strictest confidence to Box 318, Hardlines, c/o bev@hardlines.ca (Put "Box 318" in subject line.) (010402) *********************************************************************************** HELP WANTED NATIONAL ACCOUNT MANAGER: Due to increased growth, The MIBRO Group, a leading North American supplier of Power Tool Accessories, Chain, Chain Accessories, Hand Tools & Lawn and Garden products, is adding to its growing sales team. Working from our Scarborough, Ontario Head Office, the National Account Manager will be responsible for the sales and overall customer service of selected major accounts in both Canada and the United States. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of "big box" key accounts, a personable approach to selling, high self-motivation, a competitive nature, and the ability to work in a team environment. Computer skills including the use of Excel, ability to travel, strong business writing capabilities, and knowledge of hardware products and the marketplace are essential. We offer a competitive compensation and benefits package. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, and working in a high energy fast growing company, please forward your resumé to esmith@mibro.com or via confidential fax to (416) 285-9623. (080402) *********************************************************************************** REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, WESTERN CANADA: RONA REVY INC. has an opening for the position of Regional Development Manager for Western Canada, reporting to the Vice President of Development and Operations. The successful candidate, based in our Surrey, B.C. office, will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the organization's strategic development plan for each banner. Responsibility includes recruitment and integration of new dealers in the west. This includes analyzing the territory, evaluating potential dealers, presenting the organization to prospective dealers, qualifying dealers according to membership criteria and mentoring new dealers for a period of six month after they join RONA. The candidate must have five to ten years experience in the retail trade, knowledge of the hardware and building materials market, have the ability to establish good relations with dealers and be autonomous. If you are interested, please forward your cover letter and resume to Terry Crofford, tcrofford@revy.ca or fax to 604-882-6382. *********************************************************************************** SALES PROFESSIONALS, BRAMPTON BASED: CanWel, one of Canada's leading distributors of building materials to the retail and industrial markets, is poised for growth. We are looking for motivated professionals to join our sales team at our Customer Service Centre. For the following opportunities, we are seeking results-driven and sales-orientated individuals with excellent communication, interpersonal and negotiation skills. Familiarity with the building materials industry would be beneficial. NATIONAL KEY ACCOUNTS MANAGER: Reporting to the General Manager and providing a focused approach to key accounts and buying groups you will be responsible for developing specific programs, budgeting and planning. We envision you as having 3-5 years' sales experience and outstanding customer service skills. ACCOUNT MANAGERS: You will apply your 3-5 years of sales experience and outstanding customer service skills towards managing a specified customer base in Ontario; maximizing profits; creating new sales opportunities. INSIDE SALES REPRESENTATIVES: As part of our inside sales team, you will work closely with the Outside Account Managers/support staff and deal directly with customers to provide full service/sales support. You have: 1-3 years' sales experience; strong organizational skills; excellent administrative duties. In return for your contribution, a competitive salary/benefits package is offered. Please forward your résumé, indicating the position title, by April 8, 2002 to: Human Resources, CanWel Distribution Ltd., 15 West Drive, Brampton, Ontario L6T 3T5; email: michele_white@canwel.com; fax 905-457-3668. We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. (010402) *********************************************************************************** NORAL MARKETING: LOOKING FOR A REPUTABLE, FOCUSED REPRESENTATION? NORAL MARKETING - the manufacturers' rep agency that knows the Canadian retail customers! Visit http://www.noralmarketing.com or call Al Vanderveen at 519-439-6800 ext. 201 *************************************************************************** SELL YOUR COMPANY - OR BUY ONE - WITH HARDLINES CLASSIFIEDS! DO YOUR EXECUTIVE SEARCH, FIND NEW LINES OR GET NEW REPS IN THE HARDLINES MARKETPLACE. ONLY $16 PER LINE FOR THREE WEEKS! TO PLACE YOUR AD, CALL US AT 416-489-3396 OR EMAIL: bev@hardlines.ca ********************************************************************************** NEW: POWERPOINT PRESENTATION ON THE CANADIAN MARKET A point-by-point illustration of the Canadian market and the growth of its key players. 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