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September 21, 2020 | Volume xxvi, #35
  • Orgill’s online buying market considered a success by both dealers and vendors
  • Home Hardware steps up presence in Quebec with three new dealers
  • Hardlines president reports on the past year’s trends—and what lies ahead
  • Lowe’s introduces rental departments across U.S. stores

PLUS: BMF announces appointments to its leadership team, Chemong Home Hardware honoured, Home Depot’s hurricane preparedness seminars, Amazon to hire 100,000, IKEA Canada warns of office furniture shortage, Uniboard to host first virtual product launch, existing Canadian home sales rise, U.S. retail sales and more!

Orgill’s online buying market considered a success by both dealers and vendors

MEMPHIS — Orgill, Inc. recently completed its first e-Volution Online Buying Event, bringing together nearly 10,000 retailers, vendors and service providers in a completely virtual environment.

The event ran from August 24 to September 4, enabling Orgill’s retail customers to take advantage of promotional buying opportunities, browse through thousands of new products remotely and schedule live meetings with suppliers.

“Because this is the first time we have ever held an event like this, we weren’t quite sure what to expect,” says Boyden Moore, Orgill’s president and CEO. “Now that it’s over, I can say that we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. While we knew this event could not replace the entire live Orgill Dealer Market experience, based on the results, it was clear that customers and vendors embraced the concept.”

Orgill reports that buying activity during e-Volution actually exceeded the results of any previous dealer market in the company’s history—including last fall’s live event.

Brent Perry of Peterborough, Ont.-based Alf Curtis Home Improvements said he was extremely pleased with the event. “I think Orgill has done a great job for this first round and I think they have a great platform to build on and move forward with,” Perry says. “I think we learned a lot here about how to work an online event like this. I think we will actually find ourselves maybe buying more at an event like this than we have in the past.”

For vendors like Daniel Kautz of Milwaukee Tool, the experience was also positive. “This year’s Online Buying Event served as a terrific showcase for us, just as the fall show always does,” Kautz says. He adds that his company will support another virtual event in the future.

The decision to develop and hold the online event came in May when safety precautions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak prompted Orgill to cancel its in-person Fall Dealer Market, which had been scheduled for August 27 to 29 in Las Vegas. Based on the positive feedback of vendors and attendees to the inaugural virtual market, Moore believes it will serve as a valuable learning opportunity for the company.

Nevertheless, Orgill is planning to hold its Spring Dealer Market live in Orlando, Fla., from February 25 to 27.

Home Hardware steps up presence in Quebec with three new dealers  

ST. JACOBS, Ont. — Home Hardware Stores Ltd. has welcomed three new member locations in Quebec.

The expansion of Home’s presence in Quebec also reflects the retailer’s evolving strategy. After years of recruiting new members, Home is now working closely with existing member dealers to help them grow their businesses. That can mean an additional location or purchasing a competitor’s business. Two of the new locations are stores added by existing dealers, while one is a banner conversion.

Dealer-owner Jean-Claude Parr’s L’Acadien Bricoleur is opening a fifth location in Gentilly, under the Home Hardware Building Centre format. Another Home Hardware Building Centre, Matériaux Marquette in Baie-Comeau, is the second location for Matériaux Manic. There, Michel Charette and his wife Élise Caron are re-opening a site vacated by another banner.

At Centre de Rénovation Saint-Paulin in Saint-Paulin, Dominic Crête and Dany Garand have converted from another independent group to the Home Hardware banner.

“Success in retail is about finding the right people who will deliver the right customer service experience,” said Luc Martin, Home’s senior business development manager. “In addition to our national footprint, these stores represent our commitment to better serving the industry.”

These latest signings follow the addition of three other members that joined six months ago, bringing the banner’s total number of stores in the province to about 140. They were Quincaillerie Limoilou in Quebec City, Matériaux Manic in Baie-Comeau and Réno Mat St-Etienne in St-Etienne-de-Lauzon.

Quebec continues to be a battleground for groups and banners vying for new members. The province, which accounts for more than one-fifth of all retail home improvement sales in the country, was for decades dominated by RONA, which still maintains the greatest market share by sales, followed by BMR Group, which has more than 250 stores in the province (source: 2020 Hardlines Market Share Report).

Lowe’s Canada continues to tweak its store lineup in the province. Most recently, it has announced major renovations at the dealer-owned RONA store in Wickham, while the RONA in Napierville is set to close by the end of the month. And just last month, BMR Group added Quincaillerie Matériaux P.A. in Les Cèdres to its burgeoning BMR Express banner.

But Quebec continues to attract the efforts of other retail groups. Two of the five dealers Castle has signed in the last 10 months are located in Quebec. And back in May, TIMBER MART announced the addition of O. Coderre et Fils as its newest member in Quebec. The family business has two retail locations in the Lanaudière region. Even TORBSA, the Ontario-based buying group, has managed to regain a presence in Quebec. In July, it signed Matériaux de Construction Létourneau, based in Waterville, Que., a former BMR member.

Hardlines president reports on the past year’s trends —and what lies ahead  

TORONTO — In a webinar earlier this month, Hardlines President Michael McLarney updated members of the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association on the latest industry trends. Drawing on research featured in Hardlines’ latest annual Retail Report, he summarized the state of play since the outbreak of COVID-19 and offered a glimpse of what to expect going forward.

Using the findings from the Retail Report to describe the annual growth trends within the retail home improvement industry, he explained that sales slowed considerably in 2019. Then he outlined the conditions that are driving the report’s forecasts for 2020 and 2021.

McLarney reviewed the surge in sales as lockdown measures went into place in the spring. He likened the events of this year to the outbreaks of World War I and the Great Depression in terms of impact on the global economy: “Even when we return to normal here, it will be a different normal.”

For some retailers, he said, this was the end of the line, “but other retailers are pivoting.” He cited examples such as Walmart, which has done a brisk trade in online sales and opened drive-in cinemas in store parking lots across the U.S. In Canada, Indigo Books & Music has launched a new line of private label home and lifestyle products under the name OUI.

Citing statistics from the Retail Report, McLarney said big boxes have done exceptionally well in recent years, gaining a record amount of market share. But, he noted, many independents maintain the lion’s share of the market and they have managed to fare well during the pandemic. “One reason for independents’ share is their ability to pivot,” he explained. For example, as many provinces ordered retailers to move to curbside pickup, smaller local stores were often in the best position to execute that turnaround quickly.

On the other hand, forward-looking statements are a trickier proposition in the current climate. “Dealers I’ve spoken with in every part of the country are concerned about just how long this can last,” McLarney emphasized.

There are key trends to watch for guidance, such as an increased push by some major banners to woo pro customers, but plenty of uncertainty will continue, he concluded, before we see a new normal. “No matter what,” McLarney summed up, “it’s important to recognize that the much-anticipated recovery won’t happen quickly.”

(The 2020 Hardlines Retail Report features 184 PowerPoint slides, plus dozens of charts, graphs and photographs that reveal the sales and strategies of the industry’s top retail players—as well as provincial breakouts and the performance of the various store formats. Click here now to order yours!)

Lowe’s introduces tool rental departments across U.S. stores  

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Lowe’s biggest rival has spent the last decade firmly focused on securing a bigger share of the contractor market in its stores. One of its strategies was the development of tool rentals more than two decades ago.

Now Lowe’s is fighting back with a program of its own. The company has begun rolling out rental departments to its stores in the U.S. featuring tools and equipment both pros and DIY customers need to complete home improvement projects. The first Lowe’s Tool Rental opened in Charlotte, N.C., on August 20. The new department will be added to other locations in what the company calls “a multi-year national rollout.”

The departments will be newly constructed spaces that either expand an existing Lowe’s store or are located on the same property next to an existing store. They will be 4,000 square feet in size and include a mechanic’s shop to service tools and space for on-site cleaning and product demos.

The company has not announced any intention to roll out the program in its Canadian stores at this time.

“For all of our customers, having the right tool is key to every project, but they may not always want to purchase a new tool or piece of equipment. Lowe’s Tool Rental helps customers save on the cost of owning, maintaining and storing the tools they need,” said Fred Stokes, senior vice president of Pro Sales and Services for Lowe’s Cos.

The tool rental department will feature a range of commercial-grade tools including Husqvarna, Bosch and Metabo HPT. Products for maintenance and repair will also figure in the mix. Pros will be able to find tools and equipment to do drain cleaning, restoration, sanitation and concrete repair, while related lines such as protective equipment and cleaning products will be available for purchase.

To support the new tool rental departments, Lowe’s is installing technology to facilitate easy check-out. Users have an online reservation option, while in-store self-service kiosks let them generate digital documents that can be signed from a mobile device.

People on the Move

Burlington Merchandising & Fixtures Inc. has announced three new appointments to its leadership team. Sarah Hounslow has been promoted to the position of VP of sales and marketing. She has 17 years of experience in the design and manufacture of store fixtures and displays. Brian Glen has joined BMF as director of North American Sales. He has nearly 20 years of industry experience with Alexandria Mouldings and JELD-WEN. And Terry LaFlamme has joined as store planner. He spent 20 years in operations and store planning with Canadian Tire and Lowe’s.


... that more than half of all retail home improvement sales last year came from just four retail groups? This is just one of the many statistics you’ll find in the 2020 Hardlines Retail Report. It’s your definitive guide to the state of the industry, with in-depth analysis of the industry’s key players, breakdowns by province and store format and forecasts for 2021. Hardlines subscribers save more than 20 percent, so act now! Click here now to learn more and order your own Retail Report!


ST. JACOBS, Ont. — Chemong Home Hardware Building Centre has been recognized by Home Hardware Stores Ltd. with the annual Walter J. Hachborn Store of the Year Award. The award was presented to Terry Jenkins, Randy Kingdon, Mike Kingdon and Fred Sweeting, dealer-owners of the Selwyn, Ont., store. The store also took the category of Best Home Hardware Building Centre Over 15,000 Square Feet. Other honourees include Parry Sound Home Hardware in Parry Sound, Ont., for Best Home Hardware Store Over 6,000 Square Feet; and Ryan Buck of Buck’s Home Building Centre in Bridgewater, N.S., for Best Young Retailer.

ATLANTA — With predictions of a record number of potential hurricanes through November in the U.S., Home Depot is introducing a Hurricane and Storm Preparedness Livestream Workshop to help residents in storm-prone regions. The workshops are being livestreamed weekly through the end of November. Viewers will learn how to put together an emergency supply kit, take proper safety precautions, track storm trajectories and minimize home damage.

SEATTLE — Amazon says it will hire 100,000 new workers in the U.S. and Canada to help meet a surge in demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s Amazon’s fourth recruitment push this year. The e-retail giant will also open 100 new operational facilities this month, including fulfilment centres, delivery stations and sorting centres.

OTTAWA — Supply of office furniture is tightening as more Canadians convert their homes into multi-purpose spaces, IKEA Canada warns. A company spokesperson told the Canadian Press that the company is seeing an increase in demand for work-from-home equipment. With the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, many workers are waiting the pandemic out and staying away from offices. Meanwhile, many of IKEA’s overseas suppliers either remain shuttered or are receiving an unprecedented volume of orders.


LAVAL, Que. — Uniboard will host its first live virtual product launch. Taking place on September 23, the online event will also include a behind-the-scenes tour of Uniboard’s Sayabec mill. Attendees will view an interactive sneak peek of the company’s newest additions to its design collection of high-pressure laminate. The 20-minute virtual event will be broadcast through livestream app Yoop, moderated by radio and TV host Isabelle Racicot. Click here for more information and registration.


Sales of existing Canadian homes rose a further 6.2 percent in August, raising them to another new all-time monthly record. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity posted a 33.5 percent year-over-year gain in August. Unlike the previous two months, in which activity was up right across the country, sales in August were led by the Greater Toronto Area and by British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. It was a new record for the month and the sixth-highest monthly sales figure of any month on record. (Canadian Real Estate Association)

U.S. retail sales in August edged up by 0.6 percent. Sales of building materials and garden equipment rose by two percent. (U.S. Commerce Dept.)


The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) invites all members of the independent home improvement industry to a webinar on September 30 at 2 p.m. EDT. Sponsored by Epicor, this session will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on the home improvement industry. Attendees will also review new, proprietary research from NRHA about how independent home improvement retailers have seen their own operations impacted by COVID-19. Register now!


“When I play football, I’m not a decision maker. Out here, I’m my own boss. I’m the owner, I’m the worker, I’m everything.” —Montreal Alouettes receiver Félix Faubert-Lussier. With the Canadian Football League’s season cancelled, he has taken up home renovation as an interim job, purchasing a triplex in Montreal’s Villeray district to overhaul the units for rental. He spoke to the CBC.

Classified Ads  


JOB DESCRIPTION: Your primary focus will be assisting with the development and implementation of the strategic plan to support the category objectives and financial plan. Collaborate with Merchandise Manager to establish and track performance matrix including, but not exclusive to sales, profitability, turns and forecasting ensuring objectives are achieved.

Provide strong leadership, support and direction to the Merchandise Associate and the collaborative cross-functional team.

Prepare in-depth analytics, analyze shipment and POS performance on a regular basis, and conduct market research.

Manage and build strong supplier relationships with existing and new strategic partners to our grow business.

Coordinate the product selection, product pricing for Dealer Support Centre and Supplier Direct, artwork requirements and sourcing of specials to support various advertising formats.

QUALIFICATIONS: College / University Diploma or Degree in Business and/or Merchandising preferred.  Previous experience with product knowledge associated to the retail industry is required. Analytical and leadership skills with ability to support development and execute category financial plans. Knowledge and experience within the industries above would be an asset. Excellent communication, planning, organizational and negotiating skills. Flexible and adaptable; able to operate independently and work effectively as part of a team.


Looking to post a classified ad? Email Michelle for a free quote.

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