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March 28, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #13


  • Ken Jenkins named CEO at Castle, positioning the group for further growth
  • Regina-area DC will streamline LBM shipments to Federated Co-op members
  • Online selling, sustainability among top trends examined at DX3 conference
  • Spring ad campaigns from RONA and Lowe’s aim for the funny bone

PLUS: Peavey to open in Salmon Arm, B.C., Walmart Canada’s new Alberta fulfilment centre, National Hardware Show joined by two more shows, new hire at Embassy, German firm buys King Canada, AQMAT’s 10th Recognition Gala, LBM and garden retail climbs, IPG adds building envelope products, existing U.S. home sales, and more!

Ken Jenkins named CEO at Castle, positioning the group for further growth

Ken Jenkins, who has been leading Castle Building Centres Group since 2007, has added the CEO role to his existing title of president.

Jenkins (shown here speaking at the 2015 Hardlines Conference) joined Castle as vice president in 2006. Positioned at the time to take over from Pro Wylie, who had helmed the group since 1994, Jenkins transitioned into the president’s role the following year. As head of Castle, he is also president of the group’s commercial division, Commercial Builders Supplies Inc. (CBS). He had previously spent a decade at insulation supplier CGC.

Under Jenkins’s guidance, Castle grew from just over 200 dealer locations to 325 outlets today. They consist of building supply dealers, hardware stores, and specialty and commercial operations.

In his added capacity as CEO, says the company, Jenkins will continue to lead Castle as it grows membership and sales overall.

Castle member-stores represent nearly $2-billion sales (source: Hardlines Retail Report), with locations in every region of the country except Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Aside from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where the group has an average of about eight percent of the market, its presence is strongest in Atlantic Canada, and especially in Newfoundland and Labrador. There, its dealer-members’ stores account for almost one-quarter of retail home improvement sales (source: Hardlines Market Share Report).

The group has been actively adding new members across the country in recent years, with big gains in the Greater Toronto area and in the province of Quebec.


Regina-area DC will streamline LBM shipments to Federated Co-op members

At Federate Co-operatives Ltd., the group’s Home and Building Solutions department (HABS) is coming off the strongest sales year in its history. Building the lumber and building material business is considered a priority, says the co-op, which means the HABS management team is building on its success with increased store supports. These include the planned addition of a new LBM distribution hub on a 6.7-acre site outside of Regina.

The $7.5-million investment will allow FCL to procure and distribute materials such as lumber, drywall, and decking materials from a centralized facility to Co-op Home Centres in Manitoba and most of Saskatchewan. Currently, LBM products are shipped directly to the stores from the manufacturer or other distributors, sometimes at a premium price for less-than-full truckloads.

FCL is using the investment in its distribution to buy more effectively and expand its vendor base. It anticipates taking inventory positions which will ultimately help drive sales for the co-op.

The model will let FCL centralize time-consuming procurement tasks such as obtaining quotes from multiple vendors. It will also help the stores to manage inventories and keep shelves stocked.

The hub began receiving product and building inventory in late 2021 and is expected to be fully operational with four full-time team members in the new warehouse and office space by the spring. A second facility in Alberta is planned to be operational in 2023 and will serve Co-ops in FCL’s West Zone.


Online selling, sustainability among top trends examined at DX3 conference

“Sustainability is not a trend, but it’s a reality.” This was just one of the determinations of a panel of digital marketers at the latest DX3 conference. The event, which gathers retail marketers and IT professionals from across Canada, was held virtually earlier this month.

Wes Wolch, SVP of marketing at fashion retailer Holt Renfrew, came back to the topic of environmental sustainability more than once during a panel discussion. He talked about the importance of a retailer reviewing its product lines. (Holt Renfrew discontinued selling furs last year and pulled all glitter and plastics from its products).

Growth of e-commerce sellers was a trend noted by another panelist, Prabal Majumdar, director of insights and analytics at Walmart Connect. “One of the biggest things we’re seeing is the number retailers coming into the online space,” he said. As an open retail platform, Walmart Connect looks for ways to make the presence of the sellers it hosts as meaningful and seamless as possible.

Marshall Kay, founder of retail consultancy RFID Sherpas, said the use of pop-up shops for online brands is another key trend to watch. Amidst all the retail disruption that is taking place, “There’s tremendous opportunity for new brands to enter the space.” As products and brands grow in popularity online, some of them see a physical location as a logical next step.

Consumers will continue to seek more options, Kay said. Physical locations address another big part of shopping—product returns. “I see the opportunity for more and more digitally native retail brands to show up in new markets.”

Existing bricks-and-mortar retailers have to up their game when it comes to fulfilling orders. “Retailers need to know what’s in stock and fulfill that order quickly.”

Wolch of Holt Renfrew expanded on that idea: “It’s about the relationship between online and bricks and mortar,” such as being able to accept returns of online purchases. “The relationship is going to be incredibly important."

Spring ad campaigns from RONA and Lowe’s aim for the funny bone

Lowe’s Canada is relying on humour to help its consumer ads stand out as the industry heads into its busiest season. The retailer has launched two humorous advertising campaigns for its Lowe’s and RONA banners, created in partnership with the Sid Lee agency. They’re running on television, radio, billboards, social media, and the web until April 6.

The campaign also extends to radio with the use of broadcasts on location, offering consumers discounts of up to 30 percent off a range of spring products.

For the Lowe’s banner, the company used the theme “Don’t let spring catch you off guard” to encourage consumers to do their spring and summer shopping early. It features a series of humorous scenes in which a situation catches people off guard.

“It’s well known that in Canada we go from one season to the next in a snap of your fingers—sometimes we even see more than one season in the same day,” said Catherine Laporte, VP of marketing at Lowe’s Canada. “The Lowe’s ad campaign is a nod to this omnipresent reality in the meme-sphere and encourages consumers to plan their spring and summer seasons now.”

The campaign for the RONA banner finds two young people taking selfies in a backyard patio filled with outdoor furniture and accessories purchased from RONA. But there’s a fun twist (no spoilers! —Editor).

“Our merchandising teams did a great job again this year. We have an amazing selection, exciting offers, and, most importantly, we have enough inventory on hand to meet demand. It’s enough to make our customers’ neighbours jealous,” Laporte says wryly.
The ads support a big spring sales event that started March 24 at Lowe’s, RONA, and Réno-Dépôt stores across Canada and run until April 6.

(To see the Lowe’s and RONA advertising campaigns, click here.)

People on the Move

Manon Lecomte has been appointed business development manager for Embassy Ceilings. She will be responsible for relationships with head offices and distributors and will work toward expanding the business in new markets. A 25-year veteran of the hardware and building materials industry, she takes over from Mario Cloutier, who has moved up to become marketing manager. He will be responsible for updating and creating marketing tools and activities, as well as for product development and R&D.


... that Hardlines is the only national breaking news service for Canada’s retail home improvement industry? Our mission is to connect the industry through information. If you have news to share, whether it’s a new hire, banner change, acquisition, or a new line, let Hardlines know. We are working for you!


Peavey Industries will open a new Peavey Mart location in Salmon Arm, B.C., later this year. The 25,000-square-foot store in Centenoka Park Mall will be the third Peavey Mart in the province, joining locations in Dawson Creek and Kamloops. The store is slated to open in late September 2022, with a grand opening to follow.

Walmart Canada will open a 430,000-square-foot fulfilment centre this fall in Rocky View County, Alta., just outside of Calgary. The facility is slated to open in September and will serve as a delivery hub for orders from western Canada.


The National Hardware Show it will take place this year alongside the International Door Association’s IDAExpo and Coverings, the international tile and stone exhibition. The events will be held simultaneously at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the first week of April. These events join the NAHB International Builders’ Show and NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, also being held in conjunction with the NHS.

Einhell Germany AG has entered the Canadian market with the purchase of a majority stake in Montreal-based bench-top power tool and machinery distributor King Canada. Einhell will bring its engineering expertise, including its rechargeable Power X-Change battery platform, to the union. King’s president, Howard Richman, will continue at the helm. The integration is anticipated to provide strategic growth and additional employment opportunities with King Canada.

Quebec industry association AQMAT held its 10th Recognition Gala virtually on March 19. Streaming over YouTube from the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, the association presented awards to retailers and vendors in several categories. (The ceremony can be viewed here; click here for a complete list of winners.)

Intertape Polymer Group has added new products to its Tuck brand of building envelope products. These will include house wrap, flashing tapes, sheathing tapes, and roof underlayment products for both residential and commercial buildings.


Retail sales increased 3.2 percent to $58.9 billion in January. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Core retail sales, which exclude auto and fuel categories, increased 2.9 percent, led by an 8.9 percent rise in sales of LBM and garden materials. (StatCan)

Sales of existing U.S. homes declined by 7.2 percent in February to an annualized pace of 6.02 million units. Sales were 2.4 percent below February 2021 levels. (National Association of Realtors)

In the U.S., February’s housing starts were at an annualized rate of 1.77 million units, up 6.8 percent from the previous month and their highest level since June 2006. Building permits were at a rate of 1.86 million, down 1.9 percent from January but still 7.7 percent above last February’s pace. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)


“If our trade protectionist policies are not creating domestic jobs or increasing domestic production, then it’s time to revisit our trade positions.”
—Jerry Konter, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, calling on the White House to end tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. He told administration officials that costs for materials are up 20 percent on a year-over-year basis due to the tariffs.



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