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May 23, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #21


  • Canadian Tire rolls out integrated online platform
  • B.C. BSIA study confronts challenges of hiring in home improvement
  • BMR continues to solidify its presence in Central Canada
  • Ontario construction strike affects ICI sector

PLUS: Holman to retire from Castle, TORBSA kicks off Virtual Vendor Expo, eBay partners with FedEx, Canadian Tire proactive in its autumn bookings, Distribution Rioux joins Castle, Hardwoods Distribution’s Q1 sales rise, existing Canadian home sales fall in April, housing starts, and more!

Canadian Tire rolls out integrated online platform

“The future belongs to retailers who can provide the most seamless experience across digital and physical channels.” Greg Hicks, president and CEO of Canadian Tire Corp. shared this view on his latest call to analysts, following the release of the company’s first-quarter results.

“We are investing to provide a seamless end-to-end connection along the supply chain and to our customers across whichever channel they choose,” he added, noting that a new platform is being rolled out to facilitate that connection.

One way Canadian Tire has been working throughout the first quarter to enhance its omnichannel experience is through the deployment of in-store technology across the store network. These enhancements included the installation of electronic shelf labels, which, through a designated app, guide customers directly to products in the store.

Canadian Tire also added pickup lockers at 86 more CTR stores, while at its Sport Chek stores, DoorDash delivery is being used to get products to customers’ doors. The company expects 90 percent of Sport Chek’s e-commerce customers will be serviced by DoorDash by the end of Q2.

Another platform to expand Canadian Tire’s omnichannel experience is the development of “One Digital,” which is “a future-safe digital ecosystem that will serve as the new, single digital platform used across all CTC banners,” Hicks said. The platform was tested in New Brunswick in Q1 and has been introduced nationally at CTC stores. The company plans to bring its banners Mark’s, Sport Chek, Triangle, and Party City onto One Digital by the end of the year.

“It’s a critical part of our evolution from a company made up of disconnected banners, brands, and services to an enterprise-wide platform where all banners and channels collectively amplify and render each other more valuable, creating a truly differentiated customer experience,” Hicks said.


B.C. BSIA confronts challenges of hiring in home improvement

A project to figure out how to make the home improvement industry more attractive to potential workers has become the focus of the Building Supply Industry Association (BSIA) of British Columbia. To do it, the group has plugged into provincial government funds from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, and has turned to R.A. Malatest and Associates to execute the study.

“It’s an 18-month deep dive into our industry,” says Thomas Foreman, president of the BSIA. Frustrated by the shortcomings of the industry in terms of recruitment and succession planning, Foreman wanted to build a blueprint for helping member companies, which include dealers and suppliers, to tap into the province’s workforce.

Like everywhere in North America, staffing in B.C. has become a huge issue. Yet, at the same time, the industry is busier than it has been in two decades, preventing many companies from having the luxury to look ahead and plan their new talent strategies. “All of us see what the challenges are,” Foreman adds. “We just don’t have the solutions.”

Take training, for example. Most of the focus in this area is on entry-level skills, important enough for any new employee. But, with some exceptions, there’s a lack of meaningful training for managers and other senior people that might be groomed for more long-term roles.

The answer, Foreman says, is to get more data on who the future workforce represents, and what their values are. Malatest has been constructing and conducting surveys and focus groups to gather that data. The study is now in phase two, and Foreman expects the final report to be ready next spring. “It’s exciting to find out where the gaps are and come up with the solutions.”

Foreman admits he finds some companies resistant to change, but it’s necessary to look at the market with fresh eyes post-COVID. “Eighteen dollars an hour doesn’t cut it anymore.”


BMR continues to solidify its presence in Central Canada

BMR held two grand openings this month, one for its new member retailer in Cornwall, Ont., and one for a Quebec store that joined its banner during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Quincaillerie et Matériaux P.A. in Les Cèdres, Que., had an official grand opening after taking the BMR Express banner in June 2020. The store has a long history. It started out in the 1880s as a general store and funeral home.

The same week, Perkins Home Centre Ltd. (shown here) in Cornwall, Ont., had its own grand opening event. That store, under owners Roy and Muriel Perkins, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

A month earlier, BMR realized further expansion in Ontario with the addition of a new store in Elmvale, Ont. Dealer George Begley operates a contractor-oriented store, so he adopted the BMR Pro banner, which has been designed for stores with a heavy pro customer base. The store boasts 8,000 square feet of floor space and an 11-acre lumber yard. Redevelopment is slated for completion by June, including an updated façade with BMR’s colours.

At the same time, BMR’s Winchester, Ont., store is under new ownership. Previous owner Ken Boje made the decision to sell after more than a decade with the banner. The Drevniok family, under president Darcy Drevniok, assumed ownership on April 1. The store is being renamed Winchester Building Supplies Inc.

Meanwhile, BMR continues to invest in its Potvin & Bouchard business in Quebec. The banner has four building centres there, in Jonquière, Chicoutimi, La Baie, and Alma, plus a distribution centre. Acquired by BMR in 2008, the business is now celebrating 90 years since its start as a carpenter’s workshop and lumberyard in 1932. BMR has made investments of over $5-million in the last few years to renovate and standardize the stores.

Ontario construction strike affects ICI sector

An estimated 50,000 Ontario construction workers are on strike, including carpenters, labourers, plumbers, and pipefitters. Although the strike affects mostly the ICI sector (institutional, commercial, industrial), the job action is growing quickly and threatens project delays in a construction market already backed up by the pandemic delays of the past two years.

The strike is about money, with the carpenters’ union saying that the current inflation rate of 7 per cent forces their hand. The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), traditionally fierce rivals of the carpenters’ union, tells the same story.

This is the largest construction strike in Ontario in more than 20 years. Although many Ontario LBM dealers do comparatively little business on the ICI side, construction strikes have a cascading effect, with inspectors, suppliers, and trucking all impacted. “Even though it’s mostly on the ICI (institutional, commercial, industrial) side, it’s beginning to affect us,” said Dennis Fernandes, contractor and commercial sales for Downtown Lumber, a Home Hardware dealer in Toronto.

People on the Move

Martin Gamache was recently promoted to general manager of Canac, the giant family-owned home improvement chain based in Quebec City. Gamache will head the day-to-day operations of Canac, taking over from the former boss at head office, Pierre Laberge, who has retired from daily operations of the 31-store chain. Gamache was formerly operations director at Canac, a role he will keep. Pierre Laberge, Jean Laberge and other Laberge family members remain the shareholders and directors of Canac.

At Castle Building Centres Group, Bruce Holman will retire as director of business development this summer after nearly two decades building the dealer base for the Mississauga, Ont.-based buying group. Doug Keeling, who has been business development manager for Ontario since he joined Castle in 2016, will replace Holman in the national role, effective Sept. 1.

Pierre Nolet has been promoted at Lowe’s Canada to the role of regional director, operations, for dealer sales and service in Eastern Canada. He was most recently director of business development for the RONA business at Lowe’s Canada. Nolet was formerly at BMR Group and joined Lowe’s Canada exactly one year ago.

Marc Leblanc has been promoted at Acceo Solutions. Leblanc had been VP of hardware store and building supply industry solutions since the beginning of 2018. He is now senior VP and has gardening centres added to his portfolio. A veteran of the company, he’s been with Acceo for more than two decades.


... 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!


Canadian Tire Corp. released its first quarter results for the period ended April 2. The company reported consolidated retail sales At Castle Building Centres, Distribution Rioux based in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Que., has joined the group as its newest member. Founded in 2015, Distribution Rioux also has a location in nearby Degelis. Founder Guy Rioux operates two other businesses including a sawmill in the area.

TORBSA has kicked off its second Annual Virtual Vendor Expo last week. The event continues until May 27. The platform allows dozens of TORBSA’s preferred suppliers to showcase their newest products while offering show specials to the group’s shareholder network. The online offering will complement in-person events planned for later this year.

eBay has partnered with FedEx to give Canadian sellers access to FedEx shipping services directly through eBay Labels, a proprietary label printing solution. The integration of FedEx technology gives eBay sellers a seamless, on-platform experience to access FedEx domestic and international shipping tools and services—all at preferential rates. This Canadian technology enhancement is designed to help eBay’s online sellers be more efficient with their e-commerce sales.

Facing continued supply chain challenges along with the rest of the industry, Canadian Tire Corp. is looking ahead to ensure that it can maintain inventory levels. The company continues to adjust its lead times and is already ordering for its fall and winter inventory to ensure delivery for those seasons.


Hardwoods Distribution Inc. saw its Q1 sales rose 121.5 percent to $644.9-million, a year-over-year increase of $353.7-million. Profits for the quarter grew 234.7 percent to $43.5-million, from $13-million a year earlier. In Canada, sales increased by $18.8-million, or 38 percent, compared to the comparable period of 2021. During the quarter, HDI closed its acquisition of Missouri-based Mid-Am Building Supply Inc.


Sales of existing Canadian homes fell by 12.6 percent in April compared to the previous month. The decline placed monthly activity at the lowest level since the summer of 2020. Sales were down in 80 percent of local markets, with exceptions in Victoria, Montreal, and Halifax-Dartmouth, where sales edged up slightly. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in April came in 25.7 percent below the record for that month set last year (Canadian Real Estate Association).

The annualized rate of housing starts in April was 267,330 units, an increase of eight percent from March. The rate of total urban starts increased by 10 percent to 245,324 units in April. Multi-unit urban starts increased by 14 percent to 178,092 units while single-detached urban starts increased by one percent to 67,232 units. (CMHC)


During its first quarter, Canadian Tire Corp. processed 55 million transactions on its Triangle credit cards. These purchases spanned not only all the CTC banners, but thousands of hosted merchants across Canada.

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) will hold “retail’s biggest event of the year” in just over a week’s time. The RCC Store 22 conference will take place May 31 and June 1 at the Toronto Congress Centre, North Building (Front Street). Speakers will include Susan O’Brien, chief brand and customer officer at Canadian Tire Corp., Rosie Ponzar, COO of Sephora Canada, and Eric Morris, managing director retail, Google Canada... and many more. For tickets, click here.


“Don’t provide product. Deliver experiences. The old model of retail, considered to be ‘warehousing,’ doesn’t work anymore because the same product can be provided for less through e-commerce.” — Patrick Ward, VP of the Los Angeles-based e-commerce consultancy Rootstrap, giving advice to retailers in a recent blog post


Classified Ads

Job Opportunities: Business Development Managers – Ontario

Castle Building Centres Group is an industry leader among Buying Groups in the Lumber and Building Materials segment in Canada.

Castle is seeking two highly motivated individuals with strong relationship and communication skills that can manage and develop our future growth in Ontario. Regions are divided into Northern/Eastern Ontario and Central/Southwest/Niagara Region. This position requires an individual who is familiar with the Ontario Lumber and Building Supply industry, willing to travel extensively and accustomed to working remote from head office.

Reporting to the Director of Business Development, you welcome the opportunity to work with a dynamic group of independent LBM dealers while planning and executing our future growth initiatives. Providing continual communication to our Ontario Members while understanding their needs is fundamental to your success. Sound computer, coaching and presentation skills combined with excellent organizational skills are imperative.

Castle Building Centres Group offers a comprehensive compensation package including full benefits.

All submissions will be treated with complete confidentiality. Please forward by email your resume in confidence to:

E-mail: jobs@castle.ca

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd.
100 Milverton Drive, Suite 400
Mississauga, Ontario L5R 4H1

National Accounts Manager - Canada

ODL builds products that build value into your home. Designs for every taste, architectural style, and home décor. Products that bring the outdoors--natural light, fresh air—indoors. Ideas that change the game. Styles from classic to craftsman, old world to contemporary. Solutions for privacy or connection, small spaces, entryways or back porches. Decorative doorglass, blinds between glass, and much more.

Reporting to the Managing Director, ODL Canada is seeking an experienced National Accounts Manager who will be based in our Vaughan, ON facility.  This position will manage select National accounts (including Jeld-Wen, Lowes and Home Depot) and Regional Door and Window companies in Ontario.  Promotes and educates customers of Company’s diverse product line.  Grows sales throughout the market by adding to current customer base.  Promotes indirect and direct sales to home centres and buying groups.  Responsible for managing all sales, service, and program activities for select National and Regional accounts. Manages time and territory in a professional manner; resulting in sales dollar volumes that satisfy projected market growth and sales goals on a short and long-term basis.

For more information please visit National Accounts Manager (myworkdayjobs.com)

Looking to post a classified ad? Email Michelle for a free quote.



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