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SCC expands at Walmart, adds Casper to assortment

20 September 2021
Mattresses, Retail

TORONTO – Sleep Country Canada Holdings (SCC) continues to solidify its position atop this country’s mattress industry leaderboard after expanding its partnership with Walmart Canada and taking control of direct-to-consumer mattress purveyor Casper’s operations north of the border.

As part of its strategic growth roadmap, SCC will launch 10 new 500-square-foot Sleep Country Express and Dormez-vous Express spaces in seven Walmart Canada stores in Ontario and three in Quebec.

In its announcement, the publicly held retailer said, “This exciting expansion of the company’s sleep ecosystem, the first of its kind with a retailer, signals its ongoing commitment to broaden its customer reach and drive growth through channel innovation, strategic partnerships with the world's most well-known brands and exceptional customer experiences.”

Each of these mini-stores will offer cash-and-carry products as well SCC’s traditional mattress line-up delivered with its ‘white glove’ service. The initial ten stores, located in strategic locations, will enable the company to test, learn and optimize the concept with an eye towards expanding the concept into other Walmart Canada stores across the country.

Walmart Canada will open ten Sleep Country Express and Dormez-vous Express locations across Ontario and Quebec as the publicly held sleep specialist expands its partnership with this country’s largest mass merchant.“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with Walmart Canada to provide new customers with a seamless journey to their best night's sleep as we expand our omnichannel footprint,” SCC president Stewart Schaefer said. “The launch of these ten new Sleep Country Express and Dormez-vous Express locations will help transform millions of Walmart Canada customers’ lives through the power of sleep by providing them with access to the world’s premier sleep brands for the first time in-store. We look forward to sharing our industry-leading assortment with even more customers, no matter where they choose to shop, as we execute against our aggressive growth roadmap.”

The launch of these express stores, he continued, builds on the successful first phase of the partnership between the two retailers, who joined forces in March 2019 to bring Sleep Country’s Bloom bed-in-a-box collection to and to pop-up shops in the Greater Toronto Area later that year.

Walmart Canada now carries Sleep Country’s entire assortment of mattresses under $1,000 alongside a curated selection of sleep accessories on its digital marketplace. With an average of three million visitors per store location per year, SCC’s physical expansion into Walmart Canada stores will generate new revenue opportunities and increase profitability via a cash-and-carry model for in-store purchases.

Each express location will be staffed by Sleep Country-trained associates. Each location will offer a curated assortment of products, including bed-in-a-box, sheets, pillows, protectors, adjustable bases and headboards. Each location will also feature eight or nine traditional mattresses for customers to experience on-site. 

SCC takes on Casper
In what it heralded as a ‘milestone’ announcement, SCC said it has signed a deal with the New York City-based Casper Sleep to become the direct-to-consumer brand’s exclusive distributor in the Canadian market.

Beginning next month, both of SCC’s brick-and-mortar banners – Sleep Country and Dormez-vous – will offer Casper’s core mattress collections in all of its stores from coast-to-coast.

In addition, Sleep Country and Casper have entered into a collaborative partnership for all Canadian sales flowing through Casper’s six Canadian retail stores and e-commerce platform.

Stewart Schaefer“We are excited to embark on this new partnership with Casper and exclusively add their award-winning mattresses to our assortment. Channel and product innovation is a fundamental pillar of our strategic growth roadmap, and we are proud to expand our world-class offering to best suit every customer’s sleep needs,” SCC president Schaefer said.

“We are thrilled to announce Sleep Country as our exclusive retail partner for our most popular mattresses across Canada,” said Emilie Arel, Casper president and chief commercial officer. “As we strategically and thoughtfully expand Casper’s footprint, we aim to partner with respected retailers that possess unparalleled sleep and market expertise, and who prioritize a commitment to customer service. As Canada’s leading sleep retailer, I am confident that Sleep Country is the right partner for us to expand our distribution, while leveraging their nationwide logistics network and supply chain to efficiently serve the Canadian consumer.”

With the addition of Casper, SCC now offers a broad range of bed-in-a-box products. This includes its own brand, Bloom, as well as Simba – originally made in the United Kingdom – as well as Purple, the up-and-coming brand from the U.S. When coupled with Endy, which SCC acquired in December 2018 – this makes Sleep Country the dominant player in the e-commerce mattress market in this country.

Related Story: SCC sets another high for second quarter sales, earnings

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IKEA opens first Design Studio in Oshawa shopping mall

20 September 2021
Furniture, Retail

OSHAWA, Ontario – IKEA Canada has launched its first Design Studio in this city’s largest shopping mall as part of its strategy to deliver personalized design and planning services to customers throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), one of the largest markets in the country.

In a statement announcing the opening, the global home furnishings giant said the Design Studio is a new concept for the Canadian market, created to allows customers to design and order complex home furnishing systems for the kitchen, bath, bedroom and living room by scheduling one-on-one planning sessions with a trained IKEA design expert or via a self-service planning station in a dedicated studio space.

Seen here is the first IKEA Design Studio, which was opened recently in the Oshawa Centre as part of the retailer’s strategy to grow sales in the Greater Toronto Area.“Our ambition is to become more accessible to GTA residents by bringing IKEA closer to them and offering new, convenient services that meet their growing needs,” Toronto area manager Niclas Karlsson-Järnkrok said. “The IKEA Design Studio is one of the many ways we’re enabling our customers to interact seamlessly with IKEA, especially as we continue to evolve the spaces in our homes to meet the changing demands of our lives at home.”

Located inside the Oshawa Centre, the studio is significantly smaller than a traditional IKEA Canada store and will showcase the retailer’s full range through digital solutions along with a small, curated selection of product samples on display. Other IKEA products, including food, won’t be available.

Karlsson-Järnkrok noted the studio is a private space for customers to connect with IKEA’s expert planners and create personalized home furnishing packages that fulfill their individual needs. Purchases made at an IKEA Design Studio can be delivered directly to the customer’s home or picked up at local IKEA pick-up locations.

He also noted the studio will only be open for the next 12 to 18 months as it is a short-term concept designed to connect the consumer with IKEA’s own planning and design experts in convenient, local spaces, where an established pick-up location is also in place. The Oshawa Centre studio is the first of several planned for the Greater Toronto Area. 

Related Story: IKEA Canada going electric for last mile delivery

Related Story: IKEA to open downtown Toronto store later this year

Coast opens Brampton store

20 September 2021
Appliances, Retail

BRAMPTON, Ontario – White goods specialist Coast Appliances has opened its third location in this province and its 18th nationally in this city’s Trinity Common Mall, which it described as a popular shopping destination with excellent customer access and a number of complimentary retail services.

“It’s our plan to open more bricks and mortar locations in this densely populated province,” Gord Howie, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver-headquartered Coast Appliances, said in a statement. “We are also concentrating our efforts on expanding our e-commerce services in the greater Toronto area and solidifying our position as the country’s largest national independent home appliance retailer.”

The Thermador display inside Coast Appliance’s new store in the Trinity Common Mall, located in the Toronto suburb of Brampton, Ontario.The new store carries many of the appliance brands the now privately held retailer is best known for, including KitchenAid, Samsung, Frigidaire, LG, Wolf, and SubZero.

Howie noted the expansion comes at a time when the appliance industry is booming. COVID-19 has seen a large increase in the number of people working from home and eating in, and a rise in the number of home improvements and renovations.

Most of Coast’s existing stores are in British Columbia with three in each of Alberta and Ontario and single units in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

While the selection in his stores remains large and diverse, but the pandemic is affecting supply chains, Howie is andHs cautioning customers seeking specific models it can mean a longer wait – an issue that is affecting most retailers.

“The difference with shopping at Coast is that when you come to a specialty store like ours, you don’t have to deal with the traffic of many big box stores. There are fewer people, creating a safer environment to shop. Secondly, staff members are experts in this field with extensive product knowledge. We can give customers the assistance they need,” Howie said.



BMTC reports 2Q boom

20 September 2021
By the Numbers, Retail

MONTREAL – BMTC Group, the largest full-line furniture retailer in Quebec, has reported dramatic upticks in sales and earnings for both the second quarter and first half of its current fiscal year, which it attributed mainly to heightened consumer demand driven by lockdown measures taken to dampen the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in this country’s second largest province and market.

The publicly held operator of Brault & Martineau, EconoMax and Ameublements Tanguay reported last week revenue for the three months ending July 31, 2021 were $231.6 million, compared to the $176.0 million recorded for the corresponding 2020 period, a 31.6% increase.

The company didn’t provide same store sales, but it should be noted its store count hasn’t varied much in recent years.

BMTC’s fiscal year now ends on January 31, unlike the two other major publicly held Canadian furniture retailers – Leon’s Furniture Limited (LFL) and Sleep Country Canada Holdings – whose fiscal years mirror the calendar year.

However, in its note to shareholders, BMTC’s senior management pointed out most of its 32 brick-and-mortar stores were closed for much of the prior fiscal year’s first half. “Management believes that the results for the corresponding period of 2020 are not representative of the normal course results of the company,” its report said, adding results for the current fiscal year are much more in keeping with those incurred for the same periods in 2018 and 2019.

Net earnings for its fiscal second quarter were $28.7 million or 85 cents per share, up from the comparable period’s $19.6 million or 57 cents per share – that’s a 49.1% jump on a per share basis.

For the first half of the current fiscal year, which also ended July 31, 2021, BMTC revenues totaled $408.8 million, up 48% from the $276.4 million rung-up during the same period last year.

Net earnings for the six months ending July 31, 2021, amounted to $39.2 million or $1.16 per share, compared to last year’s $7.2 million or 21 cents per share – a rocket-fueled 450% advance on a per share basis.

The company said its share repurchase program contributed one cent per share in basic earnings while the funds it received from the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) added four cents per share.

In its report to shareholders, BMTC’s senior management said the company continues to focus on its online activities, which have increased substantially since the pandemic’s onset, although it didn’t provide any colour or details.

While noting the second quarter produced some of the highest revenues in its history, “management is aware that this increase is also partly due to the fact that it has benefited from a transfer of consumer spending related to the restrictions imposed by the various levels of government due to COVID-19 pandemic, more precisely the restrictions related to travel, the closure of restaurants and all forms of entertainment in the cultural and sporting world.”

BMTC also noted it is grappling with supply chain issues. “Many of the company’s suppliers, who have also been affected by the consequences of COVID-19, are unable to honour and deliver placed orders,” it told shareholders. “This problem seems widespread in our industry and is not unique to the company. Therefore, it is possible that this could have a negative impact on future results because orders on hand may not be able to be delivered due to this shortcoming.”

It also facing two immediate problems. First is the anti-dumping tariff imposed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on imports of motion furniture and leather stationary upholstery from the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at the beginning of May without any grace period for orders in production or already in transit to Canadian retailers.

“The majority of these products in production as well as those in transit to Canada have already been sold to our customers. It is not possible for the company to add these new tariffs to the price tags of these products since it increases by more than four times the price initially paid by our customers.” BMTC told shareholders. “The company will therefore incur significant losses on the sale of these products in order to honor existing contracts with our customers.”

Management also noted while it was able to cancel some of the unreceived orders, it now has to replace them with similar product at a reasonable price or risk customers cancelling this business.

“Complaints about unfairly priced Chinese and Vietnamese-made products have been a long simmering issue in the furniture business,” the company said, admitting it was expecting the tariff levied to be in the 20% range, similar to those imposed on similar products by the United States and its difficult to predict these measures will have on BMTC’s revenue in the coming months.

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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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