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Celebrating the best in the latest Merchandiser

12 August 2019
Furniture, Misc, Opinion

BRIGHTON, Ontario – Celebrating excellence is not something we do enough of, particularly in this industry. This is one of the reasons why I’m particularly proud of HGO’s collaboration with ZucoraHome in the creation of the Retail Sales Professional Awards program, the 2019 honourees of which are profiled and feted in the Summer edition of the Merchandiser, now available for download.

At risk of sounding repetitive, this is the only industry program I can find in North America dedicated to saluting the contributions and achievements of those entrusted with its most important task – serving the customer. Those men and women on the retail sales floor have the industry’s collective fate in their hands everyday. It sounds like a cliché but that doesn’t make it any less true.

In my opinion, their role and contribution will become more important as e-commerce swallows an ever-increasing share of the consumer’s furniture, mattress and appliance spending. It is becoming obvious the internet is going to be the place to buy relatively inexpensive, everyday commodities households – especially new ones – need. The $59 stool. The $199 chair for the TV room. But once needs become wants and the question becomes one of style and substance, the internet can’t become what Donald Cooper so brilliantly describes as the caring coach. Software just can’t make that intuitive leap. This means the sales associate is going to become even more important to the process.

Over the coming weeks, HGO TV will begin streaming interviews with each of the four RSP Award nominees held during the recent Canadian Furniture Show and conducted by our contributing editor, Ashley Newport, who also authored the profiles which begin on page 8.

For the first time in more than three decades, I didn’t attend the Canadian Furniture Show this year. Rest assured, HGO was ably represented, as you will read later in this issue, as I was forced to the sidelines for health reasons. I’m back at the computer and having chatting with people who walked the floor at the International Centre can’t help but be concerned about the future of our only national furniture industry event.

The increasing role of e-commerce will also make CFS more important, especially to brick-and-mortar retailers. Ours is a tactile business. The internet gives a visual but gives no clue as to texture and feel. Retail buyers need to attend events like CFS for the same reasons the consumer needs to visit a store. I don’t know what the show will look like in five years time. I don’t know where it will be held.hat I do know is this. The Canadian industry will be much poorer without it. If it has any chance to survive, the industry has a whole must support it. So, on that note, I hope to see you next January.

Click here to read the Summer 2019 edition of the HGO Merchandiser.

Leon’s launches smart store

12 August 2019
Appliances, Furniture, Retail

COQUITLAM, British Columbia – Leon’s Furniture Limited (LFL) has opened its first smart store here, a 15,000 square foot space featuring a curated collection of furniture and appliances with advanced technological features designed to give customers access to its entire product range.

Opened as part of its Leon’s banner, the store’s advance retail technology will allow visitors to shop its entire collection and obtain any desired product QR codes on one of four touchscreen stations. This interactive experience will also introduce addition items and custom colours not shown on the floor.

An exterior view of the new smart store opened by Leon’s in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam.The showroom will feature an 11-foot video wall that allows shoppers to view any product from Leon’s in real size. This installation aims to provide a new way for shoppers to interact with the retailer’s product line. Sales associates will be able to show product in augmented reality (AR) alongside other pieces in the showroom to help with room planning.

Appliance prices will be listed on e-tags so customers can know they’re getting the most competitive price along with its 60-Day Price Guarantee. Checking out will also be more efficient with new mobile point-of-sale tablets, which are voice activated to help speed up the completion of order/payment/delivery forms.

The smart service continues with its delivery program, which gives customers access to their orders either online or on their phones with Clear Destination.

“We want to combine the convenience of online shopping with the trusted assistance and customer service that Leon's is known for,” Leon’s divisional president Mike Walsh said in a statement. “The installations and technology that we have in the new Coquitlam store are really an amalgamation of the best of both these worlds.”

Inside the new Leon’s smart store. At left is the 11-foot video wall that can show customers anything in the company’s assortment at full size.Walsh added the new tech flagship will also act as a test store for other locations, with the potential for a future wave of updates to Leon’s existing stores and the possible addition of more new concept stores.

Located at 1395 United Boulevard, the Coquitlam smart store is the fifth Leon’s store in British Columbia. Leon’s didn’t have any stores in B.C. until 2016 when it acquired the leases of four Sears Home stores from the now defunct Sears Canada.

At the end of June, there were 51 corporately owned Leon’s store across the country as well as 34 franchise locations.

Related Story: LFL reports earnings uptick as revenue advances slowly

SCC Q2 revenue up 16%

12 August 2019
By the Numbers, Mattresses, Retail

TORONTO – Sleep Country Canada (SCC), this country’s largest retailer of mattresses and related sleep products, has reported revenue increases of 15.9% for the second quarter of 2019, even though same store sales slowed by more than half when compared to the same period of last year and earnings were somewhat impacted by its recent acquisition of Endy, the online mattress specialist.

Revenue for the three months ending 30 June 2019 were $166.6 million, up 15.9% from $143.7 million for the same period in 2018. Same store sales were u 1.9%, down from 4.4% for the second quarter last year.

Mattress sales were up 15% to $133.7 million, compared to $115.8 million last year.

However, the sale of accessories – ranging from linens and pillows to mattress protectors – grew 17.9% to $32.9 million from $27.9 million the prior year.

The adoption of new accounting principals meant SCC recast some of its 2018 sales and earning figures.

Adjusted net income was $12.5 million or 33 cents per share, compared to $12.8 million or 34 cents per share for the comparable period – down 2.1% on a per share basis. The company attributed the decline to incremental expenses incurred with the acquisition of Endy last December.

During the second quarter, SCC opened six new stores – including the 60th Dormez-vous store in Quebec – and renovated eight others.

“We are pleased with our Q2 results as we continue to see our long-term strategic investments grow our market share. Highlights from this quarter include solid performance from our existing and new store network, tremendous e-commerce growth fueled by our family of three brands, another quarter of accelerated growth in our accessories business, promising progress on our cloud-based Oracle eCommerce platform and ERP, and exposure to an expanding customer base resulting from new partnerships, such as Walmart and Urban Barn,” SCC chief executive officer David Friesema said in a statement.

“It is clear that our omnichannel strategy is working, and we look forward to expanding our reach and forming new partnerships that resonate with Canadians,” he added. “Our diverse product assortment and omnichannel accessibility were well-received by our loyal core and new customers. The continued expansion of our sleep accessory selection positions us to continue to take share in this attractive and fragmented market.”

For the six months also ending 30 June 2019, SCC revenues increased by 13.2% to $315.9 million from $279.0 million for last year’s comparable period.

Growth was driven by the addition of 15 new stores since June 30, 2018, continued accessories product expansion and an increased omni-channel footprint – the addition of Endy – but was partially offset by a same store sales decline of 0.7%.

Mattress revenue increased by 12.6% to $252.4 million compared to $224.1 million for the first half of 2018, while accessories revenue grew 15.8% to $63.5 million from $54.9 million.

Adjusted net income for the first six months of 2019 was $21.2 million or 57 cents per share, compared to $24.4 million or 66 cents per share a year ago – a drop of 13.6% on a per share basis.

Sleep Country Canada Holdings operates three retail banners including Sleep Country, Dormez-vous? and Endy, this country’s largest online mattress-in-a-box retailer. As of 31 July 2019, it operated 274 stores and 17 distribution centres across Canada.

Optimism reigned supreme

12 August 2019
Events, Furniture, Mattresses

The Canadian Furniture Show (CFS), this country’s only national furniture trade event has had its ups and downs over the past few years but attending industry professionals – and exhibiting resources – seem to firmly believe it is set to evolve once again by returning to its roots as the first such happening of the year beginning just a few months from now.

The 2019 edition was certainly a more slender affair than attendees are used to. Held as always at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, it boasted a little over 130 exhibitors, which included such stalwarts as Brentwood Classics, Collection Tuff Avenue, Crate Designs, Dynasty Furniture, Julien Beaudoin, and Superstyle Furniture, among others. And while the more petit show may have been was light on display booths, it proved to be heavy on style.

Stylish offerings aside, the weekend-long show did underwhelm in some respects. While some attendees might have appreciated having less ground to cover, others missed the star-studded talks and workshops that make the event a little glitzier (designers and television personalities Steven Sabados and Sarah Richardson have both appeared at CFS in recent years).

But despite the more limited selection of vendors and lack of star power – which can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that the next show will take place a few short months from now in January 2020 – buyers and exhibitors alike seemed optimistic the show’s return to its more traditional winter time slot will mean more vendors, a larger array of solid product offerings and better energy.

What did buyers think?
Measuring the success of a show usually involves gauging the reactions of buyers. If retailers and designers place a good number of orders for on-trend products, the show has done its job. This year, buyers seemed pleased by what they did see – even though there was less of a selection to peruse.

Launched at CFS this past May, The Meridien bed from Amisco is offered in 14 metal colours as well as full, queen and king sizes. The headboard cushion is available in leather as well as 70 fabrics.“We’re seeing fabulous looking product and we always enjoy seeing the very latest in colour and decor, but there’s less of it,” says Lani Lorenz, sales manager for Smitty’s Fine Furniture, an independent two-unit furniture retailer based in Hanover, Ontario.

Lorenz was particularly struck by the presentations put forward by solid wood case goods specialist Durham Furniture and contemporary metal furniture maker Amisco, calling them both show standouts.

“We’re always satisfied with the products that we sell, and that’s our Canadian-made pieces. So of course, what we’ve seen is beautiful, it’s great to see something new,” she noted.

When asked about the upcoming switch to January shows, Lorenz is optimistic the show will fare well. “I’m looking forward to it being back in January when it’ll be full, and we’ll be seeing everything for the year coming up. Sometimes the show has speakers, but we don’t really have time to go to that. We’re always looking for the latest decorating trends.”

Other buyers agreed those vendors who exhibited at CFS 2019 brought worthwhile and attractive products with them.

“We think that there are some really nice and interesting pieces of furniture,” says Lynn McMillan, an interior designer and owner of Gem Home Staging and Designs, based in St. Catharines, Ontario. “For me, this is furniture that I’ve seen before, but I’m looking for something that’s more current [and the selection is] pretty good. We look for manufacturers or companies in Toronto because we’re in Niagara, so it does it make it easier for us to come by and pick up what we’re looking for.”

McMillan said that she and her team were hunting for trendier pieces and are planning to visit other shows throughout the year, including the Las Vegas Market, which will be held at the end of July. And while she hadn’t been at CFS for long at interview time, she was excited to evaluate the more stylish pieces on offer.

“We’re looking for more current stuff, which is why we’re here – to see what’s up and coming and what’s out there now instead of buying stuff that’s been around for a few years.”

Buyers representing Lowe’s Canada, which has become a more aggressive player in furniture, home furnishings and major appliances in recent years, were also on the hunt for new products.

“We’re looking for new opportunities, new products, new trends,” Gabrielle Gingras, the retailer’s director of online exclusive central merchandising, told Home Goods Online.

To read Ashley’s complete report, click read to download the Summer edition of the Merchandiser.

The next edition of the Canadian Furniture Show will be held at the International Centre in Toronto from 16 to 18 January, 2020.

The HGO Merchandiser
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Home Goods Online.ca 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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