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May 9, 2022 | Volume xxviii, #19
  • New markets, new ideas will rule at this year’s Hardlines Conference
  • Home Hardware remains one of Canada’s most trusted brands
  • “Proudly frugal,” Giant Tiger at 61 remains committed to local communities
  • Dealers report their fastest growing product categories as spring arrives

PLUS: Lowe’s Canada awarded for sustainable development, new CEO at FCL, Home Depot’s venture capital fund supports tech start-ups, Quebec initiative promotes buying local, Canfor posts Q1 profits, LP’s first SmartSide products roll off Maine production line, Fortune Brands to split in two, EBSU gets Lowe’s business, U.S. construction, and more!

New markets, new ideas will rule at this year’s Hardlines Conference

Watch out for big ideas from some serious thought leaders at this year’s 26th annual Hardlines Conference.

This year’s event will be held at the Queen’s Landing Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Oct. 18 and 19. It will introduce the Hardlines audience to speakers and ideas that will help them improve their own businesses. This year, we are proud to present Zaida Fazlic, vice president, people and culture, for Taiga Building Products. She will talk about the importance of good leadership for companies of any size as we all struggle with the personnel issues involved in running a business.

Hardlines Conference participants will also hear from an important retail thinker outside of our industry. Alison Fletcher is the owner of Cookery, a chain of specialty kitchenware stores and cooking class studios in Toronto and Montreal. This spring, Cookery is opening its fifth location. Alison will tell us how she has grown her business by keeping it relevant to her customers despite lockdowns.

And finally, the conference will wind up with the Retail Prophet himself, Doug Stephens (shown here). Considered one of the world’s leading retail and consumer futurists, Stephens set imaginations on fire when he took to the podium at last year’s conference.

The Hardlines Conference is Canada’s only truly national event that brings the entire hardware and home improvement industry together. It offers cutting edge ideas for making the industry stronger and—equally important during this time—networking and camaraderie as the world emerges from pandemic restrictions. We look forward to a “business as usual” event this October.

To avoid disappointment, delegates are encouraged to book their rooms early to take full advantage of the networking opportunities offered by this year’s conference. It will kick off with the ever-popular RONA Pub Night on the evening of Oct. 17. The following evening, the Home Hardware Industry Reception and the 30th Annual Outstanding Retailer Awards Gala are must-attend events after the first day of the conference, Oct. 18.

The 26th Hardlines Conference will be held Oct. 18 and 19, 2022, at the Queen’s Landing Hotel, a scenic destination in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., just 70 minutes from Toronto Pearson International Airport. It will also be webcast virtually to delegates across the country. (To see the full list of speakers, please click here!)

Home Hardware remains one of Canada’s most trusted brands


For the second year in a row, Home Hardware Stores Ltd. has been recognized as Canada’s Most Trusted Retailer in its category in the Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI).

The company took first place in the Home, Office, and Garden Retailers category and was tied for third overall on the list of Canada’s 10 Most Trusted Brands. The index, released annually by the University of Victoria's Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, surveyed more than 9,000 Canadians on more than 400 brands in 33 categories.

“Our research reinforces the notion that Canadians have an acute awareness of whether a brand is truly responsive to their needs,” said Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business.

Home Hardware is also one national retail brand that remains distinctly Canadian in a sector where these are becoming scarcer.

The top brands identified in the index are the Canadian Automotive Association followed by Band-Aid. Costco, Home Hardware, and Lego were tied for third spot. Home Hardware moved up on the list this year, after landing at the number-seven spot in 2021. The other retailers in the top 10 were Shoppers Drug Mart and Mountain Equipment Company, which were both tied at number eight. Bose, President’s Choice, Dyson, and Interac rounded out the Top 10 list.

“To be named Canada’s Most Trusted Home Retailer for the second consecutive year and one of the Most Trusted Brands in Canada is a true honour for Home Hardware,” said Kevin Macnab, President and CEO, Home Hardware Stores.

Since the launch of the GBTI, there has been a pattern of consumers being more loyal to Canadian brands than to global brands (and a similar loyalty to Quebec brands within Quebec). And this year’s index identified that Canadians are very adept at detecting “greenwashing” — which consumers take very seriously.

As for categories that are best and least loved, grocery stores are the most trusted sector in the index. The media, at the other end of the scale, represent the least trusted sector. (But don’t take our word for it! — your ever-reliable Editor).

“Proudly frugal,” Giant Tiger at 61 remains committed to local communities


Giant Tiger Stores Ltd. marked its 61st anniversary last week, celebrating its commitment to local communities. The discount mass merchant has always been focused on providing a range of goods to Canadian families at reasonable prices. And that tradition continues as the retailer goes to market through both its 260-plus stores and online.

Giant Tiger has also been expanding its hardlines offerings, with growing convenience ranges of tools and power tools, and even a private-label line of paints.

Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger store in Ottawa’s Byward Market in 1961. Since that time, the retailer has expanded across Canada and now employs some 10,000 people. According to a release, “Reid provided the foundation upon which Giant Tiger was proudly built and established its core values of doing what is right and being proudly frugal, while making shopping easy for customers.”

“Throughout the last 61 years, Giant Tiger stores have been fiercely committed to the communities we call home and making a positive impact on our neighbours, our friends, and our families,” said Paul Wood (shown here), president and CEO of Giant Tiger Stores.

Through the Giant Tiger Charitable Giving Fund, national sponsorships and campaigns, store-led initiatives, and donations, the retailer raised $649,201 in 2021 for Canadians in need. That included contributions of product worth almost $60,000 to national and local charities.

Partner organizations from 2021 included Food Banks Canada, Heart & Stroke, Opération Enfant Soleil, Operation Santa Claus in partnership with the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Giant Tiger also ensured that children across the country would receive gifts during the holiday season by raising funds in-store through its annual Angel Tree campaign.

Giant Tiger is committed to adding stores across the country. A new head office in Ottawa will support that continued expansion. It recently opened a store in Saint-Eustache, Que., while a fourth Giant Tiger store in Windsor, Ont., is slated to open soon. The company is also working on its first store in Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, near Edmundston, N.B.

“From our relationships with local charities to our corporate partnerships with national organizations, Giant Tiger has always championed doing good for the greatest number of people,” Wood said. “This, paired with our core purpose to making it easy and fun for all Canadians to shop smart and save smart every day, will continue to drive our business forward for many years to come.”

Dealers report their fastest growing product categories as spring arrives 

Dealers are continuing to enjoy strong sales as the industry heads into its busiest season. Details from the latest Hardlines Retail Report Survey indicate that increases are being seen across core LBM categories, with some regional differences.

The survey, sent out earlier this spring to dealers and managers at hardware stores, building centres, and big boxes across Canada, indicated that LBM products for big renovations and construction jobs (such as lumber, plywood, and siding) were big sellers for retailers through the first quarter of the year. Heading down east, dealers in the Maritimes were especially upbeat about construction-related categories, citing strong sales in steel roofing, trusses, siding, and windows, in addition to wood products in general. Heading over to Newfoundland and Labrador, dealers and managers reported a healthy uptick in paint sales, followed by roofing and flooring. Given that spring tends to arrive in British Columbia before reaching the rest of the country, it was no surprise that dealers there cited garden products and outdoor living in general as hot categories. Many Alberta dealers reported that paint was their fastest-growing category so far this year, followed by treated lumber and composite decking. One dealer even named materials for saunas as one of their areas of big growth. Manitoba and Saskatchewan retailers said they have been experiencing increases in general LBM products, including trusses and engineered floor systems, as well as general hardware. One Saskatchewan hardware dealer stressed the importance of sports and leisure categories, while another hardware store listed non-medical masks and grass seed as big sellers. In Quebec, sales of everything from plumbing and electrical products to roof trusses and windows indicate that construction projects are helping fuel increases for dealers in that province. Ontario dealers cited a range of products that have been growing fast so far this year. The dominant national trend of selling more LBM held true in Ontario, with dealers there reporting especially strong sales in areas for building products related to outdoor living, such as decking, railings, and treated lumber. Other dealers experienced a lift in categories like plumbing, major appliances, automotive supplies, housewares, and even, in the case of one hardware retailer, toys.
People on the Move

Heather Ryan has been appointed CEO of Federated Co-operatives Ltd., effective today. She replaces Scott Banda, who is retiring after holding the CEO position for the past 12 years. Ryan joined FCL in 2013 and became a member of the FCL Senior Leadership Team in November of 2015 when she was appointed vice-president, human resources. In 2021, she became VP, supply chain. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan and is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources.


... 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!


Lowe’s Canada has received the Desjardins Mercure award for sustainable development strategy. Mélanie Lussier, director, external communications and sustainable development, accepted the honour during the 2022 Mercuriades Gala held last week at Montreal’s Palais des congrès. “At Lowe’s Canada, we make sustainability everyone’s business,” she said in a release. “Our associates carry out our many projects with conviction, making great efforts to help us achieve our ambitious environmental goals.”

Home Depot has introduced a program called Home Depot Ventures. It’s a venture capital fund that’s been created “to identify, fund, and partner with early-stage companies to accelerate emerging technologies that aim to improve the customer experience and shape the future of home improvement.” The $150-million fund will invest in companies that help Home Depot go to market both in-store and online. Home Depot has told Hardlines it will explore opportunities with startups across North America. Contact Jennifer Marcus at Home Depot’s Strategic Business Development and Corporate Venture Capital in Atlanta for more information.

A Quebec government initiative to promote buying local will have a transactional website this summer. Panier bleu (“blue basket”), launched in April 2020, showcases Quebec-made products as an alternative to e-retailers like Amazon. At present, the site functions as a directory, without its own shopping functionality. According to a Laval University study of online trends, only 14 percent of Quebecers have visited the Panier bleu site to date, but more than 45 percent said they would do so if they could make purchases through it.


Canfor posted Q1 profits of $534-million, or $4.29 per share, up from $427.8-million a year earlier. High lumber prices more than compensated for supply chain difficulties in the pulp segment. Revenues for the period rose by 14 percent to $2.2-billion, compared to $1.9-billion a year ago.

The first LP SmartSide products have rolled off the line at LP Building Solutions’ Houlton, Maine, facility. Early last year, the company announced a phased plan to expand its siding production, including the conversion of the Houlton plant from manufacturing OSB and laminated strand lumber. Following an initial “ramp-up” period, LP says the facility will add some 220 million square feet of SmartSide operating capacity.

Fortune Brands Home & Security intends to separate into two businesses. The company’s board has authorized a tax-free spin-off of its Cabinets business into a standalone publicly traded company. Upon closing of the proposed separation, shareholders would hold interests in both companies. New Fortune Brands will focus on water management, outdoor living, material conversion and science, and related products with brands such as Moen and the House of Rohl, Therma-Tru, and Master Lock. MasterBrand Cabinets’ will feature the likes of Mantra, Diamond, and Omega.

Quebec-based kitchen cabinet manufacturer EBSU has gained a major customer in Lowe’s, expanding its reach south of the border. Exclusively available online, EBSU products can be shipped directly to the homes of U.S. customers. The U.S. e-retail offerings complement EBSU’s cabinet collection launched at Lowe’s Canada brick-and-mortar stores in Quebec and Ontario last fall.


U.S. investment in construction edged up by 0.1 percent, with residential construction spending up by one percent. In a Reuters poll, economists forecast an increase of 0.7 percent. On a year-over-year basis, spending rose by 11.7 percent. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)


Costco’s sales continue to climb under COVID. For the thirty-five weeks of its fiscal year, to May 1, the company reported net sales of $147.3-billion, an increase of 16.4 percent from the similar period last year.


“Home Hardware is an iconic Canadian brand that continues to earn the trust of consumers, making it a retailer of choice when it comes to the home improvement needs of Canadians.” —Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria, on his institution’s identification of Home Hardware as one of the country’s most trusted brands.

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