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Spring Merchandiser ready to download and read

15 April 2019
Retail, Misc

BRIGHTON, Ontario – The Spring 2019 edition of the HGO Merchandiser, which is now read to download and read, turns its spotlight on Samantha Lastman, the newest member of our Next Generation club who’s making her mark as director of business development for Lastman’s Bad Boy, the high-impact promoter originally founded by her grandfather back in the 1950s. This prompted us to proclaim that The Next Bad Boy will be a Girl!

Ashley Newport, HGO contributing editor, researched and wrote our profile of Samantha Lastman who said growing up in a famous family – her grandfather Mel was the long-time mayor of the City of Toronto and her father Blayne made quite a stir in his chain’s early years – had its challenges but it actually felt normal. She’s one of our industry’s next generation of leaders.

The High Point Market is the largest furniture trade show in the world, spread over 180 building and some 11 million square feet of display space. In addition to some 80-plus Canadian resources, most of its exhibitors are interested in do business with retailers from this country. In this issue, we present a snapshot of the product offered to those buyers and designers who attended the spring edition, which ended its five-day run in early April.

It doesn’t get a lot of public attention, but Easyhome remains an integral part of GoEasy’s overall business. After years of losing ground, the lease-to-own merchant stabilised in 2018 and even reported a minor uptick in sales at the end of the year. Growth in the coming years won’t be record breaking, but its senior management has every confidence in its ability to perform. In fashioning our report, HGO publisher and editor Michael Knell spoke with Steven Poole, GoEasy senior vice president of operations and merchandising.

We also celebrate the opening of the Ashley HomeStore in Belleville, Ontario. It’s the second Ashley HomeStore opened in eastern Ontario by the Upadhyay family, the owners of HEFT, a decorative accessory resource supplying both retailers and designers. Greg Simpson got to know the family and filed this story.

Donald Cooper, our resident retail guru, firmly believes training is critical. The retail market is changing faster than ever and keeping up with them in real time means having a dedication to learning whether it’s product knowledge, business knowledge, healthy and safety knowledge or any other retail-related topic. In his essay, The Many Faces of Training, he points out that smart business owners ignore it at their own peril.

Click here to download your copy of Spring 2019 edition of the Merchandiser.


Benoit Simard to retire

15 April 2019
People, Retail

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan – Benoit Simard will retire as president and chief executive officer of the cooperatively-owned Mega Group sometime in early 2020, after his successor has been found and named.

In a letter, Simard noted that October will mark 25 years since he joined Ameublement BV ltée which became Mega Group in 2000 after it merged with V.I.P. Stores.

Benoit Simard will retire as president and C.E.O. of Mega Group in early 2020.“Since that first day, this great organisation has continuously found ways to keep me challenged and offer me opportunities to continuously learn and evolve,” he noted. “I am extremely thankful for the support and trust I have received while pushing my own limits in moving through different roles in this organization; support given by many of our employees both present and past.”

Simard, who succeeded Michael Graydon as CEO about 12 years ago, said he’s still passionate about improving Mega Group’s overall performance.

“I continue to lead the organization to be in a better position to face competition and more so to transform Mega Group, so that it can continue to serve the needs of the independent retailer channel in Canada in a retail world that evolves and changes at a fast pace,” he said.

Simard noted he will reach his 60th birthday later this year, is in good health and wants to devote more time to enjoying life with his Danielle, his wife of 40 years. “I am reviewing the purpose of my presence on this planet and I am accepting this change with positivity and excitement,” he said.

In a separate letter to members, chairman Richard Wall said the group’s board of directors has struck a committee that is “in the process of profiling the desired individual according to how the company and our clients have evolved and continue to adapt to the world in front of us. We are currently working to hire an executive search/headhunting firm and expect that the entire process will take off quite quickly.”

Until that person is found, Simard said he will “continue to lead Mega with the authority of the CEO.”

The process is expected to take anywhere from four to eight months, sometimes longer. “I will continue to work with Mega’s team to accomplish the projects and initiatives that are already on the table and the new ones that will inevitably come forward,” he said.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Benoit for his dedication to our company, his passionate performance and his ability to lead this organisation through some of the rough waters in the past few years,” Wall said.

“He will be leaving us with a company that is in a solid position in the market with dedicated employees that will continue to provide the level of service excellence to the membership,” he continued, adding, “He has led the organisation to be in a better position to face competition and has transformed Mega Group so that it can continue to serve the needs of the independent retailer channel in Canada in a retail world that evolves and changes at a fast pace.”

Mega will hold its 2019 annual general meeting and conference immediately prior to this year’s Canadian Furniture Show on May 22 and 23 at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel on Airport Road in Mississauga, Ontario. CFS opens for its three-day run on May 24.

“The board believes that although we will miss Benoit’s leadership, this is a great opportunity for Mega Group to be associated with a new CEO who will bring new skills and experiences,” Wall told the members in his letter. “We are committed to Mega’s evolution and are confident that we will find a replacement that will take us to the next level and deliver continued success on our strategic plan.”

Registration opens for LVM

15 April 2019
Events, Furniture, Mattresses

LAS VEGAS – The online registration desk for the summer 2019 edition of the Las Vegas Market (LVM), which will be held at the World Market Center here from July 28 to August 1, is now open. The organisers said the trade event will offer more than 4,300 cross-category furniture, home décor and gift resources across four buildings (A, B and C and The Pavilions).

“Las Vegas Market offers buyers, designers and exhibitors an unparalleled total home experience in one easy-to-navigate destination,” Robert Maricich, chief executive officer of International Market Centers (IMC) said in a statement. “Las Vegas Market is the leading home furnishings and gift market in the western U.S. and the perfect place to launch new lines, discover the latest trends and find West Coast-exclusive products and programming.”

The World Market Center is home to the Las Vegas Market, held in January and July every year.IMC is the owner and operator of the LVM. It also owns and operates trade events at the Atlanta Merchandise Mart and owns many of the exhibit buildings in High Point, North Carolina.

This summer, LVM will showcase key product introductions in gift, home décor and furniture resources in both permanent showrooms and temporary exhibits. For furniture, the market will showcase more than four million square feet and more than 2,000 furniture lines on 31 showroom floors, along with nearly 200 temporary home furnishings exhibitors.

All major furniture categories are presented including accent furniture; case goods; casual/outdoor; dining; leather; motion; and upholstery.

In home décor, more than one million square feet of resources will be presented on 13 showroom floors in Buildings A, B and C, and in The Pavilions. Notable home décor categories presented are accent furniture; decorative accessories; home textiles; lighting; and rugs/floor coverings.

Additionally, LVM will showcase all the major producers and brands in mattress and bedding.

At market, buyers can attend special events, hospitality and product demonstrations; and use onsite amenities, including campus and hotel shuttles, fully-equipped internet lounges, buyers’ lounges and convenient café and food kiosks.

The dates for the 2019 summer market are Sunday, July 28, through Thursday, August 1. The permanent showrooms will be open Sunday to Wednesday from 8am to 6pm and Thursday from 8am to 4pm.

The home furnishings temporaries on B2 will be open Sunday to Wednesday from 9am to 6pm and Thursday from 9am to 2pm.

The market’s web site can be found at

Housing starts stable?

15 April 2019
By the Numbers

OTTAWA – According to its trend measure, housing starts totaled a preliminary 202,279 units on an annualised basis in March, the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported last week. When compared to the 202,039 units for February, the federal housing agency described this as stable.

But on an actual basis, starts fell drastically year-over-year even though they gained ground on seasonally adjusted basis.

The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. It’s used as a complement to the monthly SAAR to account for considerable swings in the estimates, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

Chart courtesy of the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.“The national trend in housing starts was essentially unchanged in March, remaining near its historical average,” Bob Dugan, CMHCs chief economist said in a statement. “The trend has been very stable since the final quarter of 2018, following a period of steady declines from the historically elevated levels registered in recent years. Higher mortgage rates combined with still-favourable, but less stimulative economic conditions have contributed to moderation in demand for new homes in urban centres.”

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 192,527 units in March, up 15.8% from 166,290 units in February. The SAAR of urban starts – which CMHC defines as a town or city with more than 10,000 people – increased by 17.0% in March to 178,033 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 18.6% to 135,894 units in March while single-detached urban starts increased by 12.1% to 42,139 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14,494 units.

However, starts of single-family homes were set a preliminary 2,544 units in March – down 31% from the 3,703 units in March 2018. For the first three months of the year, single family starts totalled 6,924 units, a decline of 33% from the 10,427 units started in the same period a year ago.

The decline was felt across the country and ranged from a decline of 9% in Quebec, to 46% in Atlantic Canada and 44% in Ontario.

Meanwhile, starts in the multi-unit segment of the market were tagged at a preliminary 10,312 units in March, down 3% from 10,577 units in March 2018. For the year-to-date, starts were set at 28,651 units – a 10% drop from the 31,698 units recorded for the comparable period.

However, its in this segment where the regional difference show as starts in Atlantic Canada and Quebec were up 45% and 12% respectively. But they were down across the rest of country, particularly Ontario where they fell 24%.

For the month of March, total starts were off 10% year-over-year at 12,856 units and off 16% for the year-to-date at 35,575 units. Starts were up 3% in Atlantic Canada and 10% in Quebec but down 29% in Ontario, 17% in the Prairies and 9% in British Columbia.

“As expected, homebuilding shook off February’s weather induced chill, with starts bouncing back nicely in March,” Rishi Sondhi of TD Economics said in a research note. “Still, the prior month’s soft print left housing starts at 187,300 annualised units for Q1 overall – the softest showing since 2015.

“Looking ahead, we expect the pace of homebuilding to pick up slightly in the near-term, buoyed by ultra-strong population growth, low rental vacancy rates in key markets and past gains in pre-construction sales,” he continued, adding he still expects homebuilding to trend lower through 2020.

The HGO Merchandiser
Spring 2019
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Fall 2018
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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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