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May 16, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #20


  • Home improvement retailers anticipate slow growth, says new survey
  • Lowe’s Canada begins search for workers at its Quebec stores and DC
  • Changes at Walmart Canada underscore importance of omnichannel
  • Costco keeps on truckin’. How do they do it?

PLUS: Canadian Tire’s strong first quarter, Home Hardware named one of Canada’s best, Lowe’s Canada and Children’s Miracle Network, Giant Tiger CEO honoured, Wolseley Canada trade show, Taiga reports Q1 sales, Spectrum Brands’ Q2 earnings fall, IPG sales up, residential building permits rise, and more!

Home improvement retailers anticipate slow growth, says new survey

While COVID-19 has had a profound negative impact on many lives and businesses, the disruption caused by the pandemic ended up having a positive effect on retailers selling hardware, building products, and home improvement projects. That impact resulted in strong sales growth through 2020 and 2021.

But a new Hardlines survey of hardware and home improvement dealers across Canada earlier this spring reveals that most believe the period of strong growth is coming to an end. After two years of whopping double-digit sales increases, dealers are hedging their bets for 2022. According to the 2022 Hardlines Business Conditions Survey, dealers’ average forecast nationally for sales growth this year is only 2.6 percent.

Home centres and building supply dealers on average expect their sales to grow by just 1.5 percent. Hardware stores, which rely on the convenience factor and more DIY-related customers, are a bit more optimistic, with average sales expected to rise this year by 3.8 percent.

Regionally, the strongest forecasts come largely from Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Western Canada, where Alberta and Manitoba dealers were expecting growth of 5.9 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. British Columbia dealers anticipate average sales growth of 5.4 percent.

The forecasts by dealers in Central Ontario were well below the national average. Ontario dealers anticipated growth of 0.8 percent while Quebec’s outlook was even more pessimistic, with only 0.3 percent growth expected.

Hardware and home improvement retailers in Atlantic Canada expressed overall expectations that were on par with the rest of the country and slightly above the national average, at 3.1 percent. Some Prince Edward Island dealers expressed more positive outlooks, which makes sense as P.E.I. was a strong performer in 2020 and 2021. Likewise, dealers in Newfoundland and Labrador expressed outlooks that exceeded the national average, at 6.1 percent.

While big box operators did not respond in adequate numbers to break out a separate big box forecast, Hardlines examined the fiscal outlooks of both Lowe’s Cos. and The Home Depot for 2022. Both anticipated relatively flat same-store sales growth for the year, with commentary indicating slightly more positive expectations for Canada. This puts both Lowe’s and Home Depot in Canada in line with the overall expectations of dealers in this country as well.

Pro and commercial business is still surging, making up for lost time under the pandemic, but consumer concerns about inflation, gas prices and the real estate and stock market downturn is expected to impact the sector’s retail sales. The rest of this year threatens to fall short of even the modest expectations of the retailers who were surveyed.


Lowe’s Canada begins search for workers at its Quebec stores and DC

A huge concern for retailers in every sector is the scarcity of workers. As the home improvement and construction industry enters its busiest season, Lowe’s Canada is promoting its latest hiring campaign by emphasizing not only jobs, but the possibility of a meaningful career in home improvement retailing. It’s even created a dedicated website to guide candidates and process applications.

The retailer wants to hire some 500 people to fill positions in its RONA and Réno-Dépôt stores and its distribution centre in Quebec.

“What’s great about working in our Quebec stores is that our head office is in Boucherville, on the South Shore of Montreal,” said Nadine Chiasson, Lowe’s Canada’s director of talent acquisition. “We offer much more than a summer job to Quebec students. We offer them a gateway to our vast network with many long-term career opportunities.”

The company is inviting candidates to come right to the RONA and Réno-Dépôt stores to speak to someone in person, including the possibility of getting an interview on the spot with a manager.

In addition to in-store positions, Lowe’s Canada is hiring for seasonal positions at its Boucherville distribution centre. Hoping to draw from the student population in the Greater Montreal area, the company is offering “a very competitive starting salary and a Monday to Friday work schedule.”

“We strongly value internal growth at Lowe’s Canada, and our store associates are an excellent talent pool for our head office positions. This is a great opportunity for students who would like to continue their career with us after graduation,” Chiasson added.


Changes at Walmart Canada underscore importance of omnichannel

Walmart Canada announced last week a series of executive leadership changes, including the naming of a new top merchant. The moves reflect in part the giant retailer’s focus on its growing online business, making sure it ties in with the stores’ bricks-and-mortar business.

Within Walmart Canada’s digital portfolio, Laurent Duray has been promoted from SVP of e-commerce to chief e-commerce officer. Duray has been with Walmart Canada since 2015. His previous roles included SVP of fresh, grocery, and consumables, the business segment that spearheaded Walmart Canada’s omnichannel strategy.

Earlier this spring, the company announced plans to roll out new technology that will automate online grocery picking. The first automated market fulfilment centre is being installed at its Scarborough West Supercentre in Toronto. The new kiosks are part of the company’s $3.5 billion investment over the next five years in omnichannel integration.

This investment also includes a new grocery distribution centre in Surrey, B.C. This state-of-the-art facility is supported by leading-edge technology and is part of Walmart Canada’s effort to generate continued enhancement of product flow through its supply chain.

Other appointments at Walmart Canada include a new top merchant. Sam Wankowski has been named the retailer’s new chief merchandising officer. A five-year veteran of ASDA, Walmart’s former UK operation, he moved to Walmart Canada in 2008.

In addition, Nabeela Ixtabalan has been named COO. She joined the company in 2020 as EVP, people and corporate affairs. New EVP, transition officer John Bayliss was previously SVP for logistics and supply chain.

Costco keeps on truckin’. How do they do it?

The unique retail position of Costco, with its limited SKUs, ever-changing product assortments—and specials—and its membership-based structure, keeps customers coming back. That phenomenon has persisted through the pandemic.

A recent article in Forbes examines the unflagging popularity of the warehouse retailer. The piece was penned by Sanford Stein, who has written extensively about Costco. He notes that a key revenue source for the company, its membership fees, will likely go up again soon, something that happens every five and a half years.

That would mean memberships would go from $60 to $65. Those memberships enjoy a 91.6 percent retention rate, regardless of cost increases.

The company, which releases financials on a monthly basis, enjoyed net sales increase of almost 14 percent in April, with topline of $17.3 billion for the month. Comparable sales were up a healthy 12.6 percent. Nor has the company’s online activity diminished as conditions open up and stores become more accessible. Online sales for the month were up a healthy 5.7 percent.

Stein cited a recent customer survey in the U.S. that gave Costco a customer score that was the highest among general merchandise retailers—even higher than Walmart’s.

Some of the ingredients to Costco’s success include its success at capturing the “heart and mind” of its customers, constantly featuring a revolving if limited lineup of products that represent “triggers and treasures” for Costco members. The result is good value for customers and high inventory turns for Costco.

People on the Move

Giant Tiger’s President and CEO Paul Wood has been named 2022 Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year by the Retail Council of Canada. The award recognizes a retail leader who has led their company to outstanding business success and innovation and who has consistently demonstrated community commitment and support.



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Canadian Tire Corp. released its first quarter results for the period ended April 2. The company reported consolidated retail sales were up 9.7 percent and comp sales increased by 6.4 percent, excluding its Petroleum business. Its Canadian Tire retail stores had a sales increase of 4.5 percent in the first quarter, while comp sales were up 4.5 percent. Canadian Tire’s e-commerce penetration rate remained strong at 8.2 percent.

Home Hardware Stores Ltd. has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the 10th year in a row. The award is sponsored by Deloitte Private and other companies including The Globe and Mail. Entries are evaluated on the basis of strategy, capabilities and innovation, culture and commitment, and financial results. Companies like Home Hardware that remain on the list for seven years or more receive its Platinum Club designation.

The Children’s Miracle Network has named Lowe’s Canada its Canadian Corporate Partner of the Year for 2021. The distinction recognizes the company’s perseverance in its fundraising for children’s hospitals in the face of pandemic challenges. In total, Lowe’s Canada’s store network has collected over $3.2 million for CMN since 2018.


Taiga Building Products reported Q1 sales of $612.7-million, up 14 percent from $535.9-million a year ago. The increase was attributed to higher selling prices for commodity products. Net earnings rose to $39.5-million from $29.2-million, primarily due to increased gross margin.

Spectrum Brands’ Q2 adjusted earnings fell almost 53 percent to $0.41 per share, compared to $0.87 a year ago. Supply chain challenges and inflation contributed to the decline. Net sales rose however by 6.2 percent year-over-year to $807.8-million.

Intertape Polymer Group has reported Q1 sales of $406.4-million, a 17.6 percent increase attributed to higher selling prices. Earnings fell by $75.7-million to a net loss of $56.7-million, primarily due to charges related to the company’s pending acquisition by Clearlake Capital Group, which proposes to take it private.


The value of residential building permits rose by 4.7 percent in March to $7.9-billion. Construction intentions for single-family homes were up 3.3 percent, reaching their highest value since March 2021. Ontario registered the largest gain at 12 percent, but those gains weren’t enough to counter a slide of nearly 30 percent in the non-residential sector. Overall, building permits in March declined 9.3 percent to $11.7-billion. (StatCan)


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“As we execute on our ‘Better Connected’ strategy, we are bolstering our omnichannel capabilities and enhancing the integration of our banners, brands, and channels to create a better customer experience, an even stronger competitive position, and continued long-term growth.”
—Greg Hicks, president and CEO of Canadian Tire Corp., on the company’s positive first-quarter results.


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