"It is the weak man who urges compromise — never the strong man." (American writer, 1856-1915)

Lowe's Robinson adamant about greenfields strategy

TORONTO— Lowe's Canada CEO Doug Robinson said his company wants to build its presence in this country through an organic, greenfields strategy and has no plans to rush into acquisitions. Despite some skepticism from the standing-room-only crowd at last week's Hardlines Conference, He also challenged the notion that there's not enough room in the Canadian marketplace for another player, or that good real estate is too scarce to accommodate another player in the home improvement field. He did say, however, that as a "process-oriented company, "Lowe's won't rush its Canadian plans. It takes time to develop sites." He added that Lowe's made a conscious decision to announce its plans to move into Canada well in advance of opening stores in order to be able to lay the necessary groundwork properly. That groundwork included finding support services, dealing with real estate developers, and attracting people for its team. Asked about a recent UBS report suggesting that it made business sense for Lowe's to acquire RONA, Robinson reminded audience members that "buildings have to fit our model, and just buying existing buildings might not fit the bill." He was referring to the range of store formats that operate within RONA, most of which are not big boxes. Lowe's is currently organizing the logistical side of its operation, having recently hired Assured Logistics to help with the company's distribution plans, and the search is on for a local marketing partner. Robinson headlined the two-day Hardlines Conference, held Oct. 16 and 17 in conjunction with the new National Hardware Show Canada. (More on the Conference in both this week's and next week's editions. — Michael)

↑ top

National Hardware Show Canada makes it debut

The newly launched National Hardware Show Canada was held last week at the Toronto Congress Centre. The show was co-located with the long-running Garden Expo/Florist Expo, sponsored by the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association. The new show is owned and operated by Reed Exhibitions, whose U.S. headquarters are in Norwalk, Conn. NHSC, which covered 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, featured about 250 exhibitors and played host to about 2,200 delegates, including home improvement retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and importers/exporters. The arrival of this new show has been the subject of much speculation during the past several months. After all, it follows on the heels of two previous failed shows in Canada. The Canadian Hardware Show, owned by the erstwhile Canadian Retail Hardware Association, breathed its last in 2004, falling just short of a century in existence. A German trade fair organization, Messe Frankfurt, attempted to pick up the pieces in 2005 with a show of its own, called H2X. That show managed to attract only 150 exhibitors and quickly flamed out. While modest in size, the latest show featured a range of diverse hardlines vendors. Although the show lacked the presence of larger brand-name vendors, the booths were lined with new faces from both Canada and the U.S., thanks to heavy promotion by Reed to existing exhibitors at its National Hardware Show in the U.S. In addition, a group of Chinese vendors filled the outer halls of the show. Despite the disgruntlement of some vendors, the majority that HARDLINES spoke with found value in meeting both smaller retail buyers in addition to enough "A" buyers to make their presence worthwhile. The show also proved a valuable adjunct to the information program offered during the Hardlines Conference, which ran in tandem with the show. Rob Cappiello, vice-president of Reed Exhibitions, says the show, from his standpoint, was an unqualified success. "The show will be back," he said confidently, and it will be even bigger next year."

↑ top

TIM-BR MARTS, Better Living Products receive Newsmaker awards

TORONTO—Two Canadian  home improvement companies that achieved exceptional growth over the last five years have been recognized with a coveted Hardlines Newsmaker of the Year Award. TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. and Better Living Products both received awards on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Industry Awards Gala, held at the Toronto Congress Centre as part of the new National Hardware Show Canada. In presenting the award to TIM-BR MARTS in the retailer category, Michael McLarney, editor and publisher of Hardlines, cited the company's extraordinary success in combining the operations of three other groups — TIM-BR Mart Ontario, AWARD in Atlantic Canada and The Signature Group. Just weeks ago, TIM-BR MARTS forged yet another alliance, this time with Groupe Mat Plus in Quebec. The resulting group has quadrupled in size over the past three years and now represents some 550 dealers across Canada. In addition, it has grown from $1.4 billion to $2.4 billion in purchases. Better Living Products was winner of the award in the vendor category. This innovative company began in 1991 to manufacture and market the Dispenser, a shower wall system that tapped into a growing consumer taste for spa-inspired products. Today, the Dispenser unit is a world leading brand, and the company sells kitchen and bath products to distributors, retail stores and hotels in more than 70 countries.

↑ top

Hardlines, with Quebec association, launches French-language edition

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 of a French-language edition. Thanks to a landmark agreement with the Building Materials Retailers Association of Quˆ©bec (ADMACQ), Hardlines will now be available in French every single week. "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. He'll also ensure that relevant news from Quˆ©bec 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 Quˆ©bec, 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.

↑ top

Home Hardware dealer demonstrates strength of the independent

TORONTO—Retailer Christine Hand told an audience of close to 250 industry executives at the 2006 Hardlines Conference that tailoring product selection to a local market, providing exemplary customer service, and taking an active role in the community are all essential to the success of the independent retailer. Hand, whose 20,000-square-foot Home Hardware store in Conception Bay, Nfld., has actually thrived since the arrival of big boxes in her tiny corner of that province, suggested that stiff competition has actually helped her grow her business by providing a basis for comparison, and by raising the competitive bar in her trading area. She believes that offering staff competitive wages, contributing to RRSP funds, and allowing them to assume responsibility within the organization has been a significant factor in her success. Focusing on staff encourages the positive atmosphere, says Hand, which contributes to her store's ability to deliver customer service that big boxes can't match. To illustrate the point, Hand described staff going out to deliver items to sick customers, visiting homeowners who have installed a new product, but can't make it work, and being available to help in local emergencies—as they did one Christmas morning when a broken stove element threatened to wreak havoc on a turkey dinner.

↑ top

What do you stand for? Your brand should tell all

TORONTO—An explosion in product choices for consumers and the growth of the Internet as an information provider means that branding is becoming increasingly important to retailers, says Ted Matthews of Instinct Brand Equity Coaches. Speaking to the Hardlines Conference 2006 audience, Matthews described how "hyper choice" in the marketplace has led to "hypermarketing" — an environment where every conceivable surface is loaded with messages urging us to buy. Given that the average consumer gets about 1,500 marketing messages a day, he adds, retailers who want to succeed must deliver a clear, consistent message about what they bring to market. Those conditions require retailers to be more creative about communicating to consumers, and to be aware of how technology is changing delivery of content to them. Matthews noted, for example, that new technology and the growth of ad-free radio networks like Sirius allows visual media viewers to bypass commercials. That, says Matthews, is forcing businesses to find new ways to connect with existing and potential customers.

↑ top

Hardlines Marketplace

Don't miss the products and services on the Hardlines web Marketplace ( https://hardlines.ca/html/marketplace.html ) And check out Hardlines Classifieds on the web ( https://hardlines.ca/html/classifieds.html )


The Right Fit For You!

A talented, motivated workforce makes RONA the right place to grow your career. With stores across Ontario, RONA offers the ultimate in growth opportunities and makes it easier to take your career in a new direction. Benefit from challenging opportunities that make the most of your industry experience. Rona is the leading distributor and retailer of hardware and home improvement products in Canada. We've built our reputation on excellence in service and solutions. Due to sales growth and the addition of new stores the following management positions are available across the GTA and Rural Ontario:


Whether you are a younger manager anxious to build a career on a solid foundation or a seasoned manager ready to take the next step, a variety of management levels are available. As a performance driven, personable, and ambitious individual, you are capable of managing small to midsize stores. You will ensure department or overall store operations including employee/customer satisfaction, financial performance, inventory management, growth of market share and store maintenance. Your 3-5 years' management experience is combined with a strong knowledge of contractor business, proven ability to grow sales and the ability to create budgets and analyze reports. Please apply in writing to: People and Culture, RONA Ontario Inc., 1170 Martingrove Rd, Etobicoke, ON, M9W 4X1 Fax: 416-246-5276 Email: hrretail@rona.ca. Quote: Hardlines Ad




We connect you with KEY Canadian Hardware RetailersWe work for you and offer partnership – one that allows you to use our sales experience and industry insight as a strategic business tool. We have the connections to help get your product front & center on the retailers shelf. • Check us out – Al Vanderveen & associates have been building sales for leading Canadian & US manufacturers since 1986. Find out what our award winning service can do for you. contact Al: 519.439.6800 alv@wirdum.ca (10.02_10.16)


rustoleum.com (08.01.05_08.31.06)

Manchester Tank

North America's "Premier Manufacturer"

of Propane Cylinders

NOW available in Canada

(5 lb. through 420 lb. propane cylinders available)

. Recognized Market Leader . . Unsurpassed Quality . . Reliable Delivery . . Outstanding Customer Service .

Contact us today for more Information www.Mantank.com

  • Sell your company - or buy one - with Hardlines Classifieds!
  • Do your executive search, find new lines or get new reps in the Hardlines Marketplace.
  • Only $2.75 per word for three weeks in the classifieds.
  • To place your ad, call isabel bisong at 416-489-3396 or email: isabel@hardlines.ca