BMR ad counters buying group confusion
LONGEUEIL, Que—The array of alliances on the Canadian buying group scene often leave the industry scratching its collective head over just how the various groups are inter-connected. The latest partnership, between TIM-BR MARTS Ltd., the Calgary based buying group, and Groupe Mat Plus, newly established and based in Quebec, adds to the roster of organizations inter-connected under just one group — Spancan.
Now a competing group is trying to cut through that clutter. Groupe BMR inc. is a buying group and wholesaler that represents 150 dealers, mainly in Quebec. It is about to launch an ad campaign that emphasizes simplicity, using the tag line, "Possibly the most uncomplicated relationship you'll ever get into."
The ad, which will appear initially in association member directories in both Quebec and Atlantic Canada, is part of BMR's efforts to be more visible — and more vocal — as it moves its recruitment efforts beyond francophone markets. It also gives a nudge to TIM-BR MARTS, which was once partnered with BMR under Matreco. Now the two groups compete head-to-head.
"I've been showing our salespeople this ad and telling them we have one name, one focus," says Gabriel Pollender, vice-president, marketing for BMR. He was hired earlier in the summer to spearhead the group's promotional and marketing efforts.
RONA renews its credit facilities, increases credit line
BOUCHERVILLE, Que—RONA inc., the hardware and home improvement distributor and retailer, has forged a new deal with its lenders that will increase its lines of credit. The syndicate of lenders, led by the National Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, and La Caisse centrale Desjardins du Québec, will provide an unsecured, renewable credit facility of $600 million, with provision for an additional amount of up to $150 million, subject to certain conditions.
The facility, which will help RONA finance the costs of future expansion and ongoing consolidation, will be available for five years and may be extended for another two years. RONA's obligations under this new credit agreement and a previous debenture issue will be guaranteed by some of its subsidiaries. The issue of the credit facility and the debentures will be completed in the coming weeks.
Hardlines launches French edition with Quebec dealers' association
MONTREAL & TORONTO—After more than a decade providing breaking news, information and competitive intelligence to Canada's retail home improvement industry, Hardlines takes its role as a national publication to new heights with the launch today of a French-language edition.
Thanks to a landmark agreement with the Building Materials Retailers Association of Quebec (ADMACQ), Hardlines will now be available in French every single week. The launch, announced during the 11th Annual Hardlines Conference in Toronto, sealed the partnership between Hardlines and ADMACQ.
"Quebec represents more than one-fifth of Canada's retail home improvement market, so it's not surprising that some of this country's most innovative retailers and vendors are here," said Donald O'Hara, President and General Manager of ADMACQ. "The French-language edition of Hardlines will be able to reach them quickly and easily each week."
Under O'Hara's supervision, Hardlines will get translated each week into French. O'Hara will also ensure that relevant news from Québec makes its way into the pages of Hardlines, broadening not just its reach but its scope.
"ADMACQ is a natural partner for us," said Beverly Allen, Director of Sales & Marketing for Hardlines. "This organization, which represents the home improvement industry in Québec, has the expertise to allow us to ensure every French-speaking retailer and vendor can now be part of the magic that is Hardlines."
To kick off the new edition, free trial issues of Hardlines will be offered to all ADMACQ members, and existing Hardlines subscribers have the choice to switch to the French-language version.
TruServ CEO sees bright future for Pro name under new alliance
WINNIPEG—Pro and Ace dealers can expect some new programs as a result of the merchandising alliance between its licensing distributor, CanWel, and TruServ Canada. The alliance, labeled Pro Retail Services, comprises the bannered customer base of CanWel and the banner expertise of TruServ, which is based here. That expertise is focusing on the value of the Pro brand, says TruServ Canada CEO Bill Morrison. "We're developing our relationship with the Pro dealer with the objective of focusing on the individual dealer that has a unique relationship to his or her customer."
That focus includes new categories and programs for Pro dealers, he says, that firmly identify the independent under the Pro name. The program will work just as effectively in francophone markets, he says, under the slogan, "je suis Pro."
CanWel also has the license for the Ace banner in Canada. The status of that banner within the new program is pending, as CanWel and Ace continue negotiations.
Asked if the Pro Retail Services programs would rely on existing programs south of the border, where both Pro and Ace are well known, Morrison says his group is looking for "a made-in-Canada solution, and more importantly, a made-in-Quebec shopping experience."
Part of that solution involves bringing a big-box mindset to the independent. "We need the attitude that the independents have to think like the big box, with the range of products and shopping experiences that consumers have come to expect from big boxes. The big boxes we admire are open and well-lit and have bright signage. We've brought these elements into the new Pro program," Morrison says.
"We would like to re-establish Pro as one of the dominant brands in the marketplace."
U.S. builders seeks less reliance on Canadian lumber
ST. PETERBURG, Russia—American homebuilders are offering to share their construction know-how with Russia in exchange for more exports of that country's lumber to the United States.
Speaking at the International Forest Forum here, Jerry Howard, CEO for the National Association of Home Builders, said that his group supports "open competition" that would lead to "a steady supply of affordably priced lumber." His comments were made against the backdrop of the recent agreement between the U.S. and Canada to settle disputes over softwood lumber tariffs the U.S. imposes on Canadian imports. Those imports account for more than one-third of the lumber America consumes each year. American builders and some dealers fear that this agreement, which goes into effect Nov. 1, will artificially raise prices during slower demand periods.
"Today, the U.S. is overly reliant on Canadian imports to meet its lumber needs," said Howard. "We are reaching out to you to correct this problem and we are looking to Russia to add equilibrium to our market for this essential commodity for the home building industry."
During their week-long stay in Russia, NAHB officials met with officials from associations representing builders and suppliers. During its trip to Europe, NAHB also met with officials in Sweden about getting that country to expand its lumber exports to the U.S., as well.