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CFS names lunch speakers

14 March 2017

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – A leading Canadian television personality, an expert on millennials and a second generation furniture retailer who turned around her family business will headline the first ever Lunch & Learn series at the upcoming 2017 edition of the Canadian Furniture Show (CFS), which is set to open at the International Centre here on May 26.

“We are very proud of this line-up which will provide show visitors with a great opportunity to take a break at lunch time a get inspired,” CFS president and chief executive officer Pierre Richard said in a statement announcing the series, which will be held at the stage to be set up in Hall 4 of the International Centre.

Each segment will begin at 12noon on each of the three days the show is open.

Sarah RichardsonKicking off the series on Friday, May 26 will be Sarah Richardson, an award-winning designer and television personality. Based in Toronto, she is best known for dramatic transformations that turn ordinary spaces into magazine-worthy rooms with an incredible wow factor.

Richardson has hosted and produced eight HGTV lifestyle series that have been seen in over 100 countries where she shares a practical and inspiring approach to décor and design. Her shows include: Room Service, Design Inc., Sarah’s House, and Sarah 101. Her most recent series, Sarah’s Rental Cottage aired on HGTV Canada in 2015. Her new show premiers fall 2017.

In addition to being a past contributor and columnist for the Globe & Mail and Chatelaine, Richardson was home design director and décor columnist for Good Housekeeping. She is also the author of Sarah Style and At Home Sarah Style, which was on the Globe & Mail best-seller list for over four months.

Richardson has created two fabric lines for Kravet and has a growing line of signature products including custom furniture. Her company, Sarah Richardson Design Inc., has clients throughout Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

On Saturday (May 27), David Coletto, founding partner and CEO of Abacus Data will take the Lunch & Learn stage. A leader in online research methodologies, Coletto is an expert on Canadian millennials with a doctorate from the University of Calgary who also teaches and provides expert analyses to media.

David ColettoThe Ottawa-headquartered Abacus Data delivers strategic advice and research design expertise to many of Canada’s foremost corporations, advocacy groups, and political leaders. Coletto has a wealth of experience in public affairs research, corporate and organizational reputation studies as well as youth research. He has projects in many sectors including pharmaceutical, transportation, financial services, educational, natural resource, telecommunications, media, arts and cultural, tourism, and retail.

Coletto also leads Abacus Data’s Canadian Millennial Research Practice and helped a number of organisations – including the LCBO, the RCMP, the Calgary Police Service, Hudson’s Bay and the Ontario Ministry of Child & Youth Services – connect and engage with Canadian millennials.

He is an adjunct professor at the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs at Carleton University, where he teaches courses on polling and public opinion, political marketing, research and public affairs. He is also an instructor at the university’s Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in political management.

“David is an outspoken proponent of transparency in the polling industry and is regularly called upon by media and organizations alike to provide expert analyses of public opinion and research methodologies,” Richard noted.

Wrapping up the series on Sunday, May 28 will be Kimmberly Capone, president and head buyer for Treasures, the retail operation started by her father more than 40 years ago.

Kimmberley CaponeIn her presentation – entitled Red to beyond Black... in just one year! – Capone will share her journey, process and secrets on how she reinvented her struggling, family-owned retail business and quadrupled sales in a relatively short period of time. By providing design services paired with 3D technology, she’s now offering an unparalleled shopping experience that has customers waiting in line.

Capone used her personal experience in the home accessories business, her interior design education, and experience in the real estate sales and staging businesses to forge a successful interior design career. She has designed commercial and residential spaces for celebrities and executives as well as everyday customers who take advantage of her complimentary in-home design service at Treasures, the retail showroom she operates in Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

“When she’s not travelling around the globe to curate the most interesting selection of furniture, art, and home accessories for her clients, she’s busy designing her new line of sofas, chairs, ottomans, beds, curtains, and pillows,” Richard said.

Through the surveys they’ve conducted over the past three years, Richard said the CFS management team believes show visitors have four priorities: top-notch exhibitors, interesting speakers, networking activities and exclusive show specials.

“We plan to enhance the visitor experience through a Lunch & Learn speaker series, rest and entertainment areas on the show floor and an industry cocktail reception on Friday evening, which is ideal for networking,” he said. “We are continuing our efforts to seek out new exhibitors, and we will encourage them to offer show specials. Visitors can also benefit from exclusive discounts on hotel rooms and drawings of free accommodation packages. We are sparing no efforts for the show to be well worth the trip.”

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For more information about Canada’s only national furniture industry trade event, check out its web site at

BMTC earnings up 18.2%

14 March 2017
By the Numbers, Retail

MONTREAL – BMTC Group reported upticks in both sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and full 2016 while announcing a restructuring program that will see it unveil a new prototype store for its Brault & Martineau banner while getting itself ready to compete more effectively in the online marketplace.

For the three months ending December 31, 2016, Quebec’s largest full-line furniture retailer had revenues of $197.1 million, a 4.0% jump from the $190.3 million for the corresponding 2015 period. Same store sales grew 3.0%.

Net earnings were $17.7 million or 47 cents per share, compared to $16.2 million or 41 cents per share – an uptick of 14.2% on a per share basis.

For the full year that also ended on December 31, 2016, BMTC recorded revenues of $746.6 million, up 4.1% from the $717.3 million for 2015. Same store sales climbed 3.0%.

Net earnings for the year were $41.5 million or $1.17 per share, compared with $41.5 million or 99 cents per share for the prior year – a gain of 18.2% on a per share basis.

The Brault & Martineau store in the Montreal suburb of Laval, Quebec.In his remarks to shareholders, BMTC’s long-time chairman and chief executive officer Yves Des Groseillers said the first phase of the company’s plan to create a distinct e-commerce platform for its Brault & Martineau banner is complete. It will now be rolled out to its Ameublements Tanguay and Economax banners over the next two years.

The company has also set a budget of $17 million to upgrade and enhance its IT systems, a process that is expected to take three years to complete. A portion of these costs – $6.5 million – were incurred in 2015 and 2016 with the balance to be recorded in subsequent years.

Earlier in 2016, BMTC announced it will close its six Brault & Martineau Sleep Gallery stores when their respective leases expire over the six year period between November 2016 and November 2017. The sleep shops in St-Hyacinthe and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu were closed in November of 2016 while the stores in Granby and Vaudreuil are expected to shutter in 2017.

“Even though these stores are profitable, management believes that the level of profitability does not warrant keeping these stores open,” De Groseillers said.

While all of the company’s banners are now transactional online and having a web presence is ever more important to its ongoing success, “we have come to realise that the vast majority of our web-based clients, for the time being, prefer completing their purchases in our stores,” De Groseillers told shareholders. “The company’s e-commerce strategies and web-based investments have certainly benefited our web sales but they also have incited more the ‘drive-to-store’ phenomenon. This is mainly due to the fact that our clients wish to visualise our products, but mostly they want to be able to get advice and negotiate with our sales personnel.”

This has prompted the company to develop a new state-of-the-art Brault & Martineau store, where the web will serve as a gateway as well as a tool to complete sales.

“The objective of this improvement is to offer our clients a unique shopping experience which will help differentiate us from our competitors. This new prototype store will be deployed throughout our network of stores,” De Groseiller said, adding this development has led to a re-evaluate of all its Brault & Martineau locations to determine their long term viability.

The stores in Ste-Thérèse and Repentigny will be sold with the former being replaced by the 80,000 square foot prototype store, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.

De Groseiller indicated there is no viable replacement site for the Repentigny store, which will be closed once the building is sold. “Management believes that our current store network will be able to cover this region and therefore not affect the company’s sales,” he said.

“As for the eight other Brault & Martineau stores, the company is currently evaluating the available space on the existing sites in order to proceed with the reconstruction of its new prototype stores,” he continued. “In the event that this option is not possible, the company will therefore have to look for new replacement sites.”

Ameublements Tanguay has begun to remodel its stores in Lévis, Rimouski and Chicoutimi. The subsidiary opened its new 74,000 square foot store in Trois Rivières this past October, transforming the former location into a liquidation center that opened in November. “Ameublements Tanguay is also re-evaluating its current real estate sites in order to offer the same experience to their clients across their network of stores,” De Groseiller said.

At the end of the year, BMTC operated about 38 stores across the Province of Quebec under three banners: Brault & Martineau, Ameublements Tanguay and Economax.

Housing trends up in February

13 March 2017
By the Numbers

OTTAWA – Housing continues to drive this country’s economic as starts were on pace to hit 204,669 units on an annualised basis in February, up from 200,255 units in January, according to trend measure published by the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CHMC). However, actual housing starts for the month fell 6.0% on a year-over-year basis.

The trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of housing starts. It’s used by CMHC to complement the monthly SAAR of housing starts, which can swing widely thanks to the multi-unit segment of the market, which can vary significantly from one month to the next. This can make the SAAR data somewhat misleading.

“This winter has seen Canada’s national housing starts trend upward, supported mostly by increased construction of homes in Ontario,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement. “New single-detached home construction in Ontario is reaching levels not seen in the province since July 2008 – offsetting recent slowdowns in British Columbia.”

The agency made special note of several developments across the country:

  • Condominium starts in the Montréal area increased considerably in February, mainly due to construction starting on some large projects in the downtown Montréal-Griffintown area.
  • Sherbrooke has seen a rebound in single-detached housing starts in recent months, thanks to lower supply on the resale market and a favourable job market.
  • In Toronto, low supply in the resale market resulted in demand spilling over into the new home market, particularly for low rise homes. Single-detached home starts were at their highest level for February in more than ten years.
  • St. Catharines saw housing starts reach the highest level for any February since 1991. A third were townhouses and two-thirds were new singles. Demand has been driven in large part by the relative affordability of housing compared to neighbouring markets.
  • February saw total starts more than double in Winnipeg compared to the same period last year. New construction of multi-family units continued to drive total starts higher. Single-detached starts were also up by roughly 30% reflecting low inventories of completed and unsold new homes in 2016.
  • Multi-family home construction more than doubled in Edmonton last month from the same period last year. This was unexpected given the near record levels of complete and unsold apartments on the market.
  • Housing starts in the Victoria also trended upwards in February. In particular, there was a surge in single-detached home starts in the West Shore municipalities. New construction has been supported by low inventories of homes for sale and strong migration to the region.

Chart courtesy of the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 210,207 units in February, up from 208,934 units in January. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 0.9% in February while multi-unit starts decreased by 4.7%. Single-detached urban starts increased by 12.1%. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,172 units.

However, on an actual basis, total housing starts fell 6.0% in February to 12,276 units – compared to 13,0123 units for February 2016. For the first two months of the year, starts are up 8.0% to 24,602 units.

CMHC noted that starts of single detached homes in urban areas – towns and cities with populations of 10,000 or more – totalled 3,817 units last month, a 15% jump from 3,314 units in February 2015. For the year-to-date, starts came in at 7,135 units – a 10% jump from the 6,505 units for the comparable period.

In the multi-unit segment, started totalled 8,459 units in February, a drop of 13% from the 9,709 units for the same month last year. Thanks to a push in January, multi-segment starts for the year-to-date advances 8% to 17,467 units – compared to 16,227 units for first 60 days of 2016.

In her research note, Diana Petramala of TD Economics pointed out the six-month moving area is at its fastest pace since November 2015, despite some emerging regional disparities.

For example, on a regional basis gains made on the Prairies and in Quebec, were offset by a drop in Ontario – where the housing main remains pretty strong – while starts everywhere else remained relatively stable.

“Most of Ontario's strength in recent months has been in the single-detached home market, which climbed to a decade high in February and accounted for 43% of new housing starts,” she said, adding, “Housing starts in Vancouver were down 45% year-over-year in February, but have now settled at a more normal pace of housing construction, following last year’s unsustainable, record pace.”

Petramala was also quick to attribute the early strength of construction to the unusually warm winter being enjoyed in most parts of the country.

“Still, the strength in Ontario is less surprising with builders responding to tight market conditions and the resulting 27% year-over-year appreciation in the average home price over the last year. A hot pace of construction is expected to continue throughout most of the year,” she said. “The eventual completion of these units will help take some steam out of Ontario home price growth, but this may be a story for 2018 and beyond.”

The gains recently recorded in the Prairies were also something of a surprise considering the rising inventory of newly completed and unoccupied units, she said while remaining hopeful for a measured recovery throughout the oil-dependent region.

When all factors are considered, including rising mortgage rates and a moderation of demand in the Greater Vancouver, Petramala said she expects housing starts will ease slightly from its current high to a SAAR of between 190,000 and 195,000 units as the year progresses.

Do you know what your customers don’t want?

13 March 2017
Retail, Opinion

Many of your customers don’t have the time, the skill or the inclination to install, maintain, keep track of, prepare or otherwise ‘deal with’ many of the products they buy from you. There’s a huge value-add and revenue-add opportunity here, if you get it right.

Lowes, Home Depot and many other sharp building materials retailers have partnered with ‘trusted contractors’ to create install programs for customers who don’t want to, or don’t know how to do ‘fix-it’ or renovation projects themselves.  IKEA has crews that will assemble and install for you.

Grocery stores are seeing their sales of ‘prepared foods’ climb rapidly as consumers don’t have time to cook. Did you know there are over 600 million cooked rotisserie chickens sold in the United States every year?

Many manufacturers and importers contract out the warehousing and shipping of their products to outside logistics companies who do it better.

So, the question here is how could you add value and increase revenue by doing for your customers what they don’t have the time, skill or desire to do for themselves? How could you help them to choose, process, control, service, store, resell or recycle what you sell? Here are a few more examples to get your creative juices flowing.

  • A large distributor of industrial safety supplies puts one of their own staff into their largest customers’ facilities to issue safety products, do safety coaching and control inventory.

  • Our tire ‘hero’ stores our off-season tires for us – and charges a fee for doing so. It’s a ‘win-win’ for both of us.

  • Businesses that sell seed and fertilizer to farmers have agronomists on staff to do soil testing for their customers to determine which seed and which fertilizer will work best for them.

  • Smart financial advisors help clients partner with top lawyers and accountants to keep their estate planning tidy and tax-efficient – and top travel agents to help them plan extraordinary adventures.

  • Sleep Country Canada, this country’s largest mattress retail specialist, takes away the customer’s old mattress when they deliver your new one. They donate the good ones to homeless shelters and recycle the rest. They realise these folks have no easy way of disposing of an old mattress, and they deal with that in a way that makes them feel good.

So, what do your customers not have the skill, time, facilities or desire to do to be successful with what you sell? How can you help them with that? And how can you do that in a way that adds value, strengthens the relationship and grows your bottom line?

HGO's with interview with Pierre Richard about CFS 2017

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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