"Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better." - Albert Camus
vol. viii, #20 May 21, 2002  
* Buyers want market share knowledge from vendors * Castorama to sell remaining shares to Kingfisher * Latest Building Box expands seasonal, moves paint * Hudson's Bay puts logistics to work - for other companies * Kmart under investigation by FBI


Join the Women's Consumer Products Network on May 28th for an evening social and dinner. Presentation by Ron B. Hesketh, founder of "Maximizing Your Peaks, Minimizing Your Valleys," and a senior partner with Peak Performance Systems, a training organization that is dedicated to consulting, professional development and training. For more info, call 416-208-0688; e-mail: wcpn99@yahoo.com
Toronto, ON - Timing is everything when making a presentation. But so is being prepared. These are just some of the points made by the six buyers who participated in the first-ever Hardlines Meet the Buyers Seminar. The buyers, from some of Canada's key retail companies, appeared before about 150 vendors last week (we had more than twice the attendance we anticipated - we'll get a bigger room next year, promise! - Michael) to share insights into how to approach buyers in a manner that saves everyone time and aggravation. Suzanne Morgan, lead category manager for décor at Canadian Tire, advised vendors to familiarize themselves with CTC's corporate goals and really understand the category their products sell into. Bernie Snider, group merchandise manager for hardlines at Ace Hardware Canada, explained that Ace's international status gives vendors a great entry point for potential sales to Ace in the U.S. But, he adds, vendors have to come armed with information on their category - including other leading brands, their market shares and consumer buying trends. James Jones, general merchandise manager for Réno-Dépôt Inc., highlighted some of the growth categories for his stores, such as storage, pool maintenance, interior mouldings, paint and floor coverings. Peter Vernon, Home Depot Canada's hardware merchant, explained that overall decisions are made in Atlanta, but buying decisions for Canada are still made by the team in Toronto. Luc Lemonde, the new vice-president, merchandising for Sodisco-Howden Group, explained the new buying organization at SHG's Montréal offices; Joel Marks stressed the philosophy of Home Hardware, which is built on integrity and honesty.
Windsor, ON - This border city got its second big box on the long weekend with the opening of The Building Box in Windsor's Riverview area. Just down the road from a large Ford plant, the area on the east edge of town is one of tremendous new home development. Windsor already has a Home Depot. The store reflects some of parent company Réno-Dépôt's latest merchandising initiatives for the Ontario market. One striking difference is the shift of the paint department from the traditional centre of the store to the front. The paint service counter is now at right angles to the front of the store, rather than parallel to it. It's also supported by more staff, with the most popular paint bases behind the counter for easy access. How-to seminars have been replaced by more vendor-driven demos in the aisles, an alternative that provides shoppers with hands-on education all day. "That is what we have learned from our consumers; what they're actually looking for," says Paul Hétu, vice-president marketing for Réno-Dépôt. Reflecting a trend, not just among big boxes, but throughout the industry, this Building Box's seasonal assortments have been expanded and the area remerchandised with wider aisles and more open space for pallet displays. Thanks to its connection with parent Castorama Group, the store's selection included some buys that came out of Europe. A set of hardwood patio furniture is a Building Box exclusive for North America, while a buy on laminate flooring lets the store sell it at $1.98 per sq.ft. "Last year, the cost of laminate in Windsor was $4.98," says James Jones, the company's general merchandise manager. Lighting featured a strong emphasis on halogen; in the bath department the warehouse concept has been refined to feature shower displays on the floor, instead of featured in vignettes atop the racking. Each display is accompanied by three or four models in boxes, ready to be pulled out and taken away by customers. This innovation, if successful, says Hétu, will be rolled back into other Réno-Dépôt stores. Also new for this store: knock-down furniture, to capture the growing trend to maximize space within the home, including the home office. The range includes entry price points right up to classier models with maple finishes.
London, England - Before its upcoming annual general meeting, Kingfisher is expected to announce its intention to buy the remaining 45% of Castorama SA. Kingfisher has been talking to Castorama's board for weeks about a possible deal, valued at as much as £3 billion (CDN$6 billion). Castorama Group forms the DIY division of Kingfisher, with 515 stores worldwide, and includes Réno-Dépôt in Canada. However, the deal may not go entirely smoothly. Last week, Kingfisher offered E5.1 billion ($CDN7.65 billion) for the remaining stake in Castorama. But the French company rejected the offer, which works out to about E67 per share, as shares on the Paris and London markets had by then risen E3 to E67.50.
Canadian Tire 33.00 18.50 32.75
Canfor 12.00 8.08 10.00
Emco 12.09 3.62 11.50
Goodfellow 11.90 8.00 11.00
Home Depot 53.73 30.30 48.09
Hudson's Bay 20.10 12.50 14.00
Lowe's Cos. 48.88 24.99 44.76
Sears Canada 25.00 12.50 24.30
Sodisco-Howden 2.50 0.75 1.80
Taiga Forest 12.75 7.40 12.00
West Fraser 44.42 26.13 41.00
TruServ Canada has signed on with www.toolnet.ca, a program from the Canadian Retail Hardware Association that lists all of TruServ's True Value stores. The website features searches by product and by store, as well as an interactive message board for consumers to swap DIY tips, and online retail promotions from member chains. Hudson's Bay Co. is expanding its logistics function to include shipping product for other companies besides its own. A test program to keep HBC trucks filled by shipping for other firms is now being rolled out. With one of the largest fleets on Canadian roads, the company identified a low-cost opportunity to fill up outbound trucks and move more product on backhauls. Ainsworth Lumber Co. had a first-quarter net loss of $2.0 million, compared with a net loss of $14.9 million for the same period last year. The attempt by Stanley Works to bail out of the U.S. and set up in tax-sheltered Bermuda is being challenged by Connecticut's attorney general, who says the company misled shareholders when it came time to vote on the move. Profits for Wal-Mart were up in the first quarter by 19.7%, reaching US$1.65 billion. Sales in the first quarter rose 14.4% to US$54.9-billion. Same-store sales were up 8.1%. Two of the West Fraser Timber's principal shareholders, Ketcham Investments and Tysa Investments, both owned by the Ketcham family, intend to sell approximately 200,000 of their common shares. The intended sales are being considered for investment diversification, estate planning and tax reasons. Sears, Roebuck and Co. is buying the biggest catalogue retailer in the U.S., Lands' End, for about US$1.9 billion. Sears will start introducing a selection of Lands' End products into some of its stores by fall 2002. Kmart is now being investigated by the FBI for possible criminal violations. Under review are the US$23 million in executive loans it dispersed between October 2001 and its bankruptcy filing in January 2002. It's also being scrutinized for its vendor allowance policies. It seems the allowances, collected annually, were being entered into the ledger on a quarterly basis. If sales targets weren't met, the real dollars could not be collected. CORRECTION: That Rona Lansing that's reopening in Markham, ON had its grand reopening this past Saturday, not the week before as stated in last week's edition. (Don't even ask! - MM)
Sales in April by large retailers in Canada were up 4.5% over March, says Statistics Canada, to $6.4 billion. The first quarter of 2002 showed a year-over-year increase of 6.9%. The biggest increase was in sporting and leisure goods.
"About 70% of our barbecues are bought by Father's Day." - James Jones, general merchandise manager for Réno-Dépôt Inc.at The Building Box opening in Windsor.
Kingfisher's efforts to secure 100% ownership of Castorama forced Réno-Dépôt CEO Sylvain Toutant to miss the Building Box opening in Windsor, ON last week. He had to travel to Europe for executive meetings with the Castorama board.
The Spring issue of Hardlines Quarterly Report features: The Three Billion Dollar Club - find out which home improvement retailers dominate the Canadian scene...Who's winning the big box war? Big box expansion in Canada..... CLICK HERE to find out more!
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