vol. viii, #45 November 25, 2002  

* BMR increases hardlines shipments * Retail leaders predict future of industry * Lemonde leaves Sodisco-Howden * Wal-Mart Canada will introduce Sam's Club * BMR's Turcotte gets emotional send off

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Montréal, QC - Some of Québec's leading home improvement retailers put aside their competitive differences last week to talk about issues facing all retailers over the next decade.

About 280 retailers and vendors attended "The future of retail: where will we be in 10 years?," a panel discussion featuring Claude Bernier of Rona, Jos Wintermans of Sodisco-Howden Group, Roger Plamondon of Home Depot Canada's Québec division, Claude Gingras of Co-opérative Fédérée and Yves Gagnon of Le Groupe BMR. The discussion was moderated by Jacques Nantel, a professor at University of Montréal and chair of its e-commerce department. The event was mounted by ADMACQ, the Québec association of hardware and building supply dealers, and hosted by the association's executive vice-president, Donald O'Hara. The continued growth by big boxes will insure continued consolidation, but BMR's Gagnon observed that the remaining players will themselves be stronger - and more savvy. "We'll have to be better prepared," he said. Wintermans of Sodisco-Howden said the search for good staff will continue to be a key challenge, even as companies search for better operations and technology. "The big challenge is not technology, it's human resources. Who can design a managerial system that brings the best out of everyone?" he asked rhetorically. Coopérative Fédérée's Gingras agreed, pointing out that retailers need a structure that enables people to grow in their careers. He mentioned a new initiative at Coopérative Fédérée, "Co-op Academy," which helps staff improve their skills and academic standing. "The success of our network is directly tied to the quality of our people," he added. They also discussed the growing importance of female customers and the need to match that trend by attracting more women into the business itself. Plamondon noted that Home Depot stores have evolved to accommodate women, with wider aisles and brighter lighting. "We've also put a lot more into our décor centre, because that's an up and coming sector, without losing focus on our core business." He added that his company is also responding corporately to the need for women, including the fact that his boss a woman (Home Depot Canada president Annette Verschuren). Gagnon of BMR agreed that women have changed home improvement retailing, noting that they now account for half his dealers' business. He said the industry had typically been "macho," but this has been changing over the years, "and those who are responding to that change are prospering." Wintermans was not so quick to agree that good employees should be distinguished by gender. "A company is either responsive to its customers or it's not." Gingras added: "Whether they're male or female, customers want bright, clean stores." (Next issue: more on staff development, succession and vendor relations - Editor)
Montréal, QC - A group of 16 BMR dealers has formed a syndicate and made an offer to purchase Matco Ravary, a Montréal-area chain of six building centres. The group made an initial bid two weeks ago, and this new offer was subject to right of first refusal by Rona, which owns about 30% of Matco Ravary. Rona has so far opted not to exercise that right, however, and the revised offer from the BMR affiliates has been accepted by Matco Ravary's executive team. According to Yves Gagnon, president of BMR, the latest offer amounted to $24.5 million in cash, plus the assumption of $13 million in Matco Ravary's debt. That debt has been mounting as the contractor-oriented retailer has fought to retain profits in a market increasingly crowded by the likes of Home Depot and Réno-Dépôt. Sales hover around $60 million annually. Under the terms of the new offer, Carmel Chaput, chairman of Matco Ravary, and Gilles Nolet, president and CEO, will stay on for an unspecified term. They will not be required, as in the original offer, to repurchase any Matco Ravary shares. The offer closes by November 28, by which time Rona can come back with its own counter-offer, if it so chooses. While such an acquisition by the dealer-owned wholesaler fits with its stated strategy to purchase more retail chains, the company has been busy reorganizing existing acquisitions and managing a recent IPO. A spokesperson for Rona says the company has "no comment" on the deal at this time. When asked if there is any truth to the rumour that BMR plans to open a big box of its own somewhere on the south shore, BMR's Gagnon is vehement in his denial. "No, not at all!" he insists. Growth, he says, will continue to come strictly through membership of independent dealers.
St-Hyacinthe, QC - A new banner has been introduced for independents by Coopérative Fédérée de Québec. Called Unimat, the banner has been developed as an alternative for hardware and building centre retailers operating under another banner, not for existing co-op members, which currently fly the banner Quincaillerie CO-OP. This will enable members' stores and territories to remain protected, while giving the wholesaler new markets and new customers. It will also put them in direct competition with the likes of Rona and Home Hardware, as Unimat stores will join Coopérative Fédérée on a co-op basis. Director of the Unimat program is Gaetan Bilodeau, formerly a buyer with Marchands Unis, who joined Coopérative Fédérée a few months ago. Claude Gingras, director of hardware and building materials for Coopérative Fédérée, would not comment on how many stores are being targetted for the Unimat banner, but it's expected to cater to small and medium sized dealers. Unimat was actually a name used by a buying group of seven building materials wholesalers that had connections with OCTO Plumbing and AHW. The group folded in 1990.
Québec, QC - The latest dealer show for Groupe BMR marked the 35th anniversary of the co-op buying group. The show, held at the Centre de Congrès, was the scene for a number of new products, many of them part of BMR's growing private label program. It also played host to 280 suppliers in 350 booths, attracting the full membership of BMR's 125 dealers, including 11 new dealers who signed on over the past year. Prompted by specials such as the 35th anniversary sale, which took 35 fast-moving products and put them out at tremendous savings for dealers, the show was considered a healthy buying show by dealers and vendors alike. Hardware sales alone grew from $11.1 million at last year's BMR show to $16 million this year, reflecting the addition of almost 600 SKUs to BMR's newly expanded hardware distribution centre in Longueuil. BMR's private label lines have become so extensive that the group has introduced a catalogue of them to assist the dealers. It includes a broadened range of hand tools, and a new paint line and paint accessories program. Other sectors that are growing for BMR dealers include seasonal, especially lawn and garden, with an overall increase in demand for higher quality products.
Don't miss Practical World 2003, the Cologne International Hardware Fair/DIY'Tec. The 2003 show is March 9-12. For show information, contact Barbara Hills at 416-598-3343 or email colognet@idirect.com. To book your flight and hotel, call Carol-Ann Itel at Trade Show Travel, 1-877-873-7469 or email tradeshowtravel@shaw.ca .
Canadian Tire 33.15 23.96 30.92
Canfor 11.70 6.83 7.75
Emco 12.77 5.75 11.00
Goodfellow 13.99 8.60 11.53
Home Depot 52.60 23.18 25.18
Hudson's Bay 15.55 5.87 6.83
Lowe's Cos. 49.99 32.50 39.01
Rona Inc. 14.05 13.25 13.49
Sears Canada 25.10 15.15 18.05
Sodisco-Howden 2.20 1.06 1.41
Taiga Forest 7.00 4.75 6.16
Wal-Mart 63.94 43.72 53.68
West Fraser 45.00 28.90 36.00
Wal-Mart will introduce Sam's Club stores to Canada, beginning with 4-6 outlets in Ontario by the Fall of 2003. The freestanding, 100,000-sq.ft. outlets will provide wholesale prices to members. Specific locations will be confirmed over the coming months. Taiga Forest Products has purchased a building materials distribution centre in Rocklin, CA from Louisiana-Pacific. The facility comprises 15 acres of land and 100,000 sq.ft. of warehouse and covered storage space. This marks Taiga's first significant U.S. investment. The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association will hold the 15th Annual Industry Gala on February 2, 2003 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Held in conjunction with the Canadian Hardware and Building Materials Show, the Gala, which raises money for Easter Seals, will feature impressionist André-Philippe Gagnon. For tickets and sponsorship info, check www.chhma.ca. Over the years, CHHMA has raised over $400,000 in support of Easter Seals. Canfor Corp. has struck a deal to sell wood from three sawmills operated by formerly insolvent Skeena Cellulose Inc. in northwest British Columbia. Canfor and the new owner of Skeena, NWBC Timber & Pulp Ltd., reached a deal under which Canfor will sell lumber produced at Skeena's Terrace, Kitwanga and Carnaby mills. The lumber will be sold under the Canfor brand in North America and co-branded with Skeena in overseas markets. Terms of the deal were not revealed. Lowe's Cos. Inc. earned US$339.2 million in its third quarter, up from $250.5 million a year earlier. Third-quarter sales increased 17.6% to US$6.41 billion from US$5.45 billion. London Drugs will open its second store in Saskatoon on November 26. The new location, in Lawson Heights Mall, follows the company's first opening in that city four months earlier. The new, 35,000-sq.ft. location will include a photo processing service and pharmacy, as well as audio-video, consumer electronics, health, beauty and cosmetics, and fragrance departments. Other specialized departments range from a creative kitchen to an Internet café and an in-house computer repair service. While sales were up for Tembec in its fourth quarter, it suffered a loss of $16.0 million before unusual items, compared with net earnings of $4.9 million in the corresponding quarter a year earlier. For the fiscal year, consolidated gross sales reached a record $3.4 billion, a 13% increase over the prior year.
Luc Lemonde has left Sodisco-Howden Group. Formerly vice-president of merchandising, Lemonde's departure was reported to be a mutually agreed decision. Al Lynn, who moved from the Howden division in London, ON as merchandising director, will handle Lemonde's duties until a replacement is found. Lynn will report directly to Jos Wintermans, president and CEO of Sodisco-Howden Group. (514-286-8986) At the recent BMR dealer show in Québec City, Jean-Claude Turcotte received an emotional farewell - including a standing ovation and a gift from the members of a trip for two to Italy. Turcotte, who was lumber and building materials buyer for BMR, is retiring after 40 years in the hardlines business. His replacement is René Choiniere. (450-463-2441)
Retail sales fell 0.5% in September, after a 0.4% gain in August, says Stats Canada. Retail spending has remained essentially flat since June, fluctuating between $25.6 billion and $25.7 billion. The exceptionally hot weather from July to September led to lower sales of clothing and footwear, while sales of big-ticket items, such as furniture and motor vehicles, have been lacklustre since the spring of 2002. However, sales were up 0.7% from the second quarter to the third quarter. Wholesale sales remained at $35.2 billion in September, says Stats Canada. Adjusted for inflation, wholesale sales actually fell 0.7%. Advances in seven sectors were primarily offset by lower wholesale sales of industrial machinery and equipment (-1.6%) and automotive products (-1.3%). These two sectors represent approximately 33% of the total value of wholesale trade. However, metals and hardware were up 1.3%, lumber and building materials gained 1.0% and household goods edged up 0.5%. Consumers paid 3.2% more in October for goods and services, as reflected in the Consumer Price Index, than in the same month a year earlier. This increase is considerably larger than the 2.3% observed in September. Excluding the effect of energy prices, the CPI increased 2.9% from October 2001 to October 2002, says Statistics Canada. Sales for plumbing and heating wholesalers exceeded $325 million for the first time in October and were up 9% from September. According to the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating, year-to-date sales were up 7% over the same period in 2002; plumbing was up 10% and waterworks was up 3%.  
"Don't climb a closed stepladder - it may slip out from under you." - (especially if it's not leaning against a wall.) The latest press release from Home Depot Canada offers yet another helpful consumer tip for Christmas.
If you are doing budget planning, developing next year's marketing plan, pitching a new client who needs hard data, a foreign head office that needs the definitive Canadian snapshot, in need of competitive intelligence, call Nancy Wright, 416-489-3396, to find out more!

****HARDLINES MARKETPLACE**** Check out Hardlines Classifieds on the web: https://hardlines.ca/html/classifieds_new.asp

HELP WANTED Goodfellow Inc. is growing again! Two new positions are being created in the building materials/flooring division. INSIDE SALES: This position entails telemarketing and customer service from the Campbellville location. The successful candidate must have a minimum of 1 year of sales experience in the hardwood flooring and/or building materials industry. He or she must possess good organizational & detail skills and excel in relationship building. OUTSIDE SALES: This position entails territory management in the central Ontario region. It is an outside sales and marketing position with the primary focuses on hardwood flooring and building materials. The successful candidate must have a minimum of 2 years outside sales experience and possess strong presentation and time management skills. Send resumé via email only to:mlohmus@goodfellowinc.com . Please note that no telephone calls will be accepted regarding these postings. *********************************************************************************** KEY ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Our continued growth in the United States has opened up an opportunity for an energetic and self motivated individual to join our sales team. We are looking for a Key Account Executive to help grow our business within our Tier 2 accounts in the USA and to assist in developing our secondary markets.   Necessary qualifications: 3-5 years account management experience, highly developed interpersonal and communication skills, good analytical skills and experience with Mass Merchandise retailers is preferred. This is an intermediate position and the successful candidate will be working out of our world-wide headquarters in Woodbridge, Ontario.   Please submit a resume by email or fax stating qualifications and income expectations to: Camillo Caperchione, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Better Living Products, Telephone: 905-264-7100 Fax: 905-264-3690 Email: camillo@dispenser.com

*********************************************************************************** TERRITORY SALES REPRESENTATIVE, CALGARY: As a leader in Specialty Flooring, Torlys Inc. (www.torlys.com) is actively seeking a dynamic Territory Sales Associate to be based out of Calgary and cover from the US Border north to and including Red Deer. *Minimum 3-5 years sales experience required; *Should have experience in Floor Coverings either retail, wholesale or similar home renovation products; *Ability to work independently and be accountable for performance; *Excellent Communication and Computer Skills *Develop products knowledge within customer base

Please reply in total confidence to Mary Kerr, Organizational Development Manager, Torlys Inc., 905-696-2374 or by e-mail at HR@torlys.com. *********************************************************************************** TERRITORY SALES REPRESENTATIVE, EDMONTON: As a leader is Speciality Flooring, Torlys Inc. (www.torlys.com) is actively seeking a dynamic Territory Sales Associate to be based out of Edmonton and cover from Red Deer north. **Minimum 3-5 years sales experience required; *Should have experience in Floor Coverings either retail, wholesale or similar home renovation products ; *Ability to work independently and be accountable for performance; *Excellent Communication and Computer Skills *Develop products knowledge within customer base. Please reply in total confidence to Mary Kerr, Organizational Development Manager, Torlys Inc., 905-696-2374 or by e-mail at mary@torlys.com.

*********************************************************************************** PRODUCT MANAGER: Leader in the industry, ROYAL INTERNATIONAL CORP., operating from Montreal, is an importer and manufacturer of hand tools and hardware products for the industrial and retail markets. Reporting directly to the V.P. of Sales and Marketing, the successful candidate will be responsible for the following: managing the product line, introducing new products, coordinating the creation and the production of packaging and promotional materials, providing product knowledge and training sessions, and producing competitive analyses. We are seeking a fluently bilingual (written and spoken) candidate with 3 to 5 years experience in the management of products in the hardware and/or retail markets, a degree in Marketing and comprehensive knowledge of Word, Excel and Outlook. We invite qualified applicants to submit their candidacy by fax to 514-735-8702, or by e-mail to: careers@royalinternational.com. ***********************************************************************************


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