"The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency." Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Multicultural shoppers drive Wal-Mart growth

  TORONTO - Evolving customer expectations are influencing all aspects of Wal-Mart's new Supercentre format stores, Jim Thompson, vice-president of merchandising for Wal-Mart Canada, told an audience at the HARDLINES 2007 Conference, held here last week. While the retailer's initial identity in Canada was built on the planks of price, product and people, changes to those platforms are necessary for continued growth, says Thompson. There are currently 17 Supercentre stores in Alberta and Ontario, and the company expects to have 28 by the end of its fiscal year in Feb. 2008. At about 200,000 square feet, and with approximately 135,000 SKUs, these stores are bigger than traditional Wal-Marts, which are about 80,000 square feet and carry about approximately 120,000 SKUs. They also carry more high-end products, particularly in the electronics category, which now includes such brands as Samsung and Dell. Home décor lines have also been expanded to offer more premium items, and are being merchandising in "boutique" settings that show "room solutions". Wal-Mart has identified new Canadians as a key growth driver, and is investing in research in heavily multicultural communities to determine what this shopper wants. Already, the company is tailoring its product mix to these customers. For example, in neighbourhoods with a high percentage of customers of South Asian origin, it is offering steam cookers and bamboo floral products.

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TruServ Canada named HARDLINES Newsmaker of the Year

 WINNIPEG - Forward-thinking initiatives, including assuming management of CanWel Hardware's retail banner business under ProRetail Services, and converting to a corporate structure to increase its flexibility and options, have earned TruServ Canada HARDLINES' 2007 Newsmaker of the Year award. In presenting the award at the HARDLINES Conference Breakfast to Bill Morrison, president and CEO of TruServ Canada, HARDLINES president Michael McLarney said the company was recognized because it displayed a level of entrepreneurialism and innovation rare in a company of its size. "The bold moves TruServ Canada has made reflect its willingness to embrace the challenges of change, and effectively positions it for continued growth," McLarney said.

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RONA CEO touts viability of smaller-format stores

TORONTO - "Warehouse stores will disappear in the not-too-distant future," predicted RONA's president and CEO Robert Dutton during his presentation at the recent HARDLINES Conference. But as a major operator of large-surface stores, RONA itself will not be compromised by this predicted market shift, Dutton went on to say, explaining that he was referring to warehouse stores, and not big boxes. "A store is a concept, not a size," said Dutton. According to Dutton, only traditionally-merchandised warehouse layouts are endangered. Smaller, more sophisticated big box concepts ("such as the ones RONA started developing about ten years ago") will outperform them, Dutton said, citing RONA's own proximity store concept-a mini big-box of about 50,000 square feet. During the question period, Dutton fielded the oft-repeated query of whether Lowe's will buy RONA. Dutton's mock-serious response got a big laugh from the audience. "Look at my eyes, each of you," he said, sternly staring out at the crowd. "We...are...not...for...sale."

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U.S. builder confidence falls to 22-year low

 NATIONAL REPORT - The confidence of American homebuilders that the slumping housing industry will revitalize any time soon has deteriorated to its lowest level in 22 years, according to a monthly index compiled by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), based on interviews with 362 companies, including D.R. Horton, which closed more homes than any U.S. builder in 2006. The company reported last week that its orders for the three months ended Sept. 30 plummeted by 39% to 6,374 homes, and the value of those orders dropped 48%. Horton is among the builders that have been discounting and auctioning homes in several communities, to little avail, as 48% of Horton's sales contracts were cancelled in the latest quarter.

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Since 1959, Canadian owned Mitten Inc. has been an industry leader in quality vinyl siding exterior home products. With branches across Canada serving the siding industry and retail lumberyards, we are currently seeking a Branch Manager for our Winnipeg location. Responsible for increasing market penetration, overseeing other sales professionals, administration and warehousing activities in your branch, you will ideally be an experienced, successful sales professional with supervisory and branch management experience in a related industry. Mitten provides a positive work environment with competitive compensation and benefits. If you would like to join a Canadian success story that believes in the value of its workforce, please send your resume stating salary expectations in confidence to: Ms. Connie Barnard, Human Resources Manager, 70 Curtis Avenue North, Paris, Ontario N3L 3T2 or fax: 519-442-3214 or email: connieb@mittenvinyl.com Mitten Inc. hires on the basis of merit and we encourage all qualified persons to apply however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. No telephone calls please. Deadline for submission of resumes is October 15, 2007.


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