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Merchandiser celebrates VdeV, RH Toronto, Superstyle and more

11 December 2017
Retail, Opinion

BRIGHTON, Ontario – The Winter 2017 edition of the HGO Merchandiser is ready for download and, even if I say so myself, it may be one of the best issues the team working with me has ever put together. There’s a lot going on in our industry right now, but most it is happening in ways that are decidedly outside of our industry’s historical norms.

Granted, there is the discussion about the demise of Sears Canada – entitled Punch in the Gut – which was the result of a number of discussions I had with people who either worked for the soon-to-be defunct multi-channel retailer or were close to it in other ways. Most people agreed that happened was unnecessary, it was basically an act of avarice – the company had so many assets it didn’t fully exploit (at least, that how it looks to those on the outside) – and it’s their loyal employees and their pension fund that’s going to pay the ultimate price for this fiasco.

The flyer remains most retailers’ favourite advertising medium. But like everything else, they’ve changed and evolved in recent years, thanks to the dawn of digital. Ashley Newport, our steadfast contributing editor, researched our report and gives plenty of insight into the future of the flyer.

In this issue, Ashley profiles Fanny Vergnolle de Villers of VdeV, an independent retailer with stores in trendy districts of Montreal and Toronto who has a unique approach to selling furniture. While vintage/industrial is her style niche, it’s how she blends the rest of her assortment – which covers the gamut from kitchenware and cutlery to women’s fashion accessories – to create a unified statement that makes her successful and worth knowing about.

On the other hand, we also take a look at the opening of RH Toronto at that city’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The publicly-held merchant formerly known as Restoration Hardware is fusing food with furniture to create a unique shopping experience. In addition to its usual array of high-end upholstery, case goods and accessories, its 70,000 square feet is also home to the latest fare from one of the hottest chefs in the United States today.

We also drop by and take part in the festivities at the recent annual general meeting and convention held in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers Association.

Speaking of advertising, Greg Simpson – a new contributor to HGO – introduces us the MyPixel, a new technology developed by District M of Montreal. Basically, this new computer application allows a retailer to follow a consumer who has visited his own web site as she journeys through cyber space, posting the occasion encouraging her to return.

Meanwhile our resident retail guru, Donald Cooper shares his three tried and true steps to increased customer loyalty. It’s all about defining yourself by what you do to solve your customer’s problems.

Finally, we turn our spotlight on the Toronto-based upholstery specialist Superstyle Furniture, which celebrated its 50th year in business under second generation president and chief executive officer Danny Colalillo in 2017. The secret to its success is simple: building a well-designed, quality product at a good price and then supporting it with excellent service. The formula should also see it through its next half century.

It’s a good read. Click here to download your copy.

Furniture store sales hit $1B mark again in September

4 December 2017
By the Numbers

OTTAWA – Furniture stores rang up their fourth consecutive month of sales over $1 billion in September, setting what is probably a new high in this post-recession period, although they were down slightly from August, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

For the month, furniture store sales were just over $1.04 billion, up slightly from the $1.03 billion rung-up in August and a 7.0% gain from the $977.1 million sold in September 2016. For the third quarter of 2017, furniture store sales set a new record high of $3.08 billion.

For the first nine months of the year, sales were $8.49 billion – up 6% from the $8.01 billion for the same period of 2016. For the trailing 12 months ending September 30, furniture store sales were pegged at $11.5 billion, up 6% over the comparable period.

It should be noted this gives Leon’s Furniture Limited – this country’s largest full-line furniture retailer – an overall market share of 23.8% for the first nine months of 2017, based on its total system sales of $1.91 billion.

The only retailer coming close to Leon’s in terms of market share is IKEA Canada, whose market share is roughly 19%.

Meanwhile, home furnishings stores – which sell everything from floor covering to lamps and lighting, decorative accessories and wall art – saw its September sales (actual, not seasonally adjusted) pegged at a preliminary $599.6 million, up marginally from August. They were up 0.7% from the $595.5 million rung-up in September 2016.

For the third quarter, sales totalled $1.75 billion, down 2.1% from last year’s $1.79 billion.

For the first nine months, sales were $5.0 billion, up 1.8% from $4.91 billion for the comparable period of 2016. For the trailing 12 months ending September 30, home furnishing stores sales were estimated at $7.0 billion, a gain of 2.1%.

Electronics and appliance stores also appeared to be having a growth spurt through the third quarter and the opening nine months. Sales in September itself were a preliminary $1.47 billion, which while down slightly from August, was up 7.3% from $1.37 billion in September 2016.

For the third quarter, sales totalled $4.17 billion, up 8.2% from the $3.86 billion for the same period last year. For the year-to-date, these merchants saw sales of $11.6 billion – a gain of 11.3% from the $10.4 billion a year ago.

For the trailing 12 months, sales were $16.6 billion, advancing about 8.8%.

Renwil opens Montreal DC

4 December 2017
Manufacturing, Products

MONTREAL – Home décor resource Renwil has opened a new 100,000 square foot state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution centre here, part of its ongoing plan to grow its business across North America.

“Over the past 15 years, we have transformed Renwil from being a local manufacturer to an import business,” Jonathan Wilner, second generation president of the family-owned enterprise told Home Goods Online in an interview. “We used to be a wall decor company and have grown the business by going into different product categories.  We are now designing and manufacturing art, mirrors, lighting, accent furniture, rugs, bathroom products and accessories.”

Jonathon Wilner (right), president of home décor resource Renwil is seen here at the opening of the company’s new Montreal distribution centre with his brother Ryan Wilner, who serves as president of Renwil Hospitality. He noted over the past 15 years, Renwil grew into two buildings on six floors. “We have now opened a 100,000 square foot distribution facility with 33 foot high ceilings and racking with four levels,” he continued, adding they’ve also invested in a new computer system as well as an automated warehouse management system that’s able to ship a retailer’s order in two or three days.

The need to build the new facility was driven by the simple fact that over the past five years, Renwil’s business has quadrupled, Wilner said, adding it now serves about 4,500 retailers across North America. The facility will also support the Renwil’s four showrooms, including two in Canada – Montreal and Toronto – and two in the United States – Las Vegas and Dallas.

It contains approximately 1,300 SKUs, with more than 120,000 units stored in some 5,500 pallet positions covering Renwil’s entire category assortment from art and mirrors to accent furniture, rugs and bathroom products.

Wilner was also quick to note while Renwil has been bridging the gap between the art world and the commercial marketplace since its founding in 1967, the “heart of the organisation” has not changed: a 3,500 square foot studio where the company’s ten in-house artists experiment with materials and styles that are then developed into affordable works of art.

“We have beautiful designs. In order for us to capitalise on getting these beautiful designs to our clients, we really needed the backup and the support of the right logistical system,” he noted.

The new facility is totally operational, with some outbound shipments being sent to the retail network using Renwil’s two new 53-foot trucks. The new Warehouse Management System, equipped with wall-to-wall, four-level racking is also helping to shorten shipping times while increasing product availability.

“This was a very big investment in software and equipment,” Wilner said. “This investment was important because logistics and service are key in business today.”

Paquette elected to QFMA board

QFMA president Pierre Richard (left) is seen here with Alexandre Paquette of Trica Furniture, who was elected to the association’s board of directors are its recent annual general meeting.
4 December 2017
Manufacturing, People

MONTREAL – Alexandre Paquette was elected to the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers Association board of directors at its recently-ended annual general meeting and conference.

Paquette is director of finance and administration for Trica Furniture, the Saint-Jérôme, Quebec-based manufacture best known for its assortment of bar stools and seating. He succeeds Claude de Lanauze of Hettich, who served on the board for a number of years.

The other members of the board for the coming year include:

  • Michel Deveault, president of casual dining powerhouse Canadel;

  • David Fontaine, executive vice president of glider rocker and youth furniture maker Dutailier;

  • David Gélinas, executive vice president of specialty mattress producer Zedbed;

  • Théodore Homa, general manager of contemporary upholstery house G. Romano;

  • Jean-François Nolin, president of contemporary case goods producer Huppé;

  • Réjean Poitras, president of metal furniture specialist Amisco;

  • Patrick Selmay, president of case goods maker Mobican;

  • Charles St-Louis, president of Bois & Design, a specialty and bespoke case goods maker based in Trois-Rivières;

  • Martin Tardif, director of engineering for ready-to-assemble specialist Bestar;

  • Guy Tousignant, president of Matelas Mirabel, the licensee for the King Koil and Restonic brands in Quebec; and,

  • René Vincelette, vice president of human resources for contract furniture maker Groupe Lacasse.

Directors are elected for one year terms.

Réjean Poitras is the current chairman of the QFMA board of directors. David Gélinas is vice chairman.

The HGO Merchandiser
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  About HGO

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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