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City, Germain Larivière named 2018 ROY recipients

12 February 2018
Events, People

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – The Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance has named City Furniture & Appliances as its 2018 Retailer of the Year for Western Canada. The distinction for Eastern Canada has been awarded to Germain Larivière.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA) honourees are Rick Ripoli, president; Dennis Ripoli, vice president of sales and marketing; and, Derrick Barichello, vice president of production for Stylus, Made-to-Order Sofas, the stationary upholstery specialist based in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The CHFA Awards gala will be held on the evening of Thursday, May 24 – immediately prior to the opening of the Canadian Furniture Show, which will run from May 25 to 27 at the International Centre here.

In a letter to his members, CHFA chairman Mark Wiltshire noted the association established the LAA “to recognise those individuals who over their career have made exemplary and sustained contributions to the Canadian home furnishings industry and their communities.”

 The senior management team of Stylus, Made-to-Order Sofas have been named as the 2018 recipient of the Lifetime Acheivement Award by the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance. Seen here are (from left to right): Rick Ripoli, president; Dennis Ripoli, vice president of sales and marketing; and, Derrick Barichello, vice president of production.Stylus Sofas had its beginnings in 1977 under the name of Atlantic Furniture. It was started by Philip Ripoli, Eugene Barichello and Nino Barichello. A short while later Rick Ripoli – Philip’s eldest son – joined the company with Dennis Ripoli – Philip’s youngest son – signing on in 1987. Derek Barichello, Nino’s son, came aboard in 1991. The three changed the company’s name to Stylus, Made-to-Order Sofas in 1992.

“Today with all the original owners retired Rick, Dennis and Derek operate and manage Stylus,” Wiltshire said. “They take pride in running the family business. Under their leadership the company supplies product around the world to both the residential and hospitality industries. Stylus operates two locations in greater Vancouver with showrooms located in Vancouver and Las Vegas. The company employs 200 people.”

The three are also involved with their community in a number of ways, whether its raising funds to build a new school, working at a homeless shelter, loading trucks at the local food bank or coaching youth sports teams. They are also involved in raising funds for a local cancer charity.

The LAA is usually awarded to a Canadian furniture manufacturer. Prior recipients include the late Orville Mead, president of Durham Furniture; Jean Deveault of Canadel Furntiure; and, Art DeFehr of Palliser Furniture. In a departure from tradition, the 2017 LAA honouree was Dennis Novosel, founder and chairman of destination retailer Stoney Creek Furniture.

Meanwhile, the Retailer of the Year (ROY) Award is dedicated to recognised exemplary models of excellence and community service by Canadian furniture businesses.

For the second time in the award’s history, a retailer from Western Canada will share the accolade with one from Eastern Canada. This was last done in 2016 when the recipients were Konto Furniture and JC Perrault, respectively.

The Germain Lariviére store located in the Quartier Dix30 regional power centre in Brossard, Quebec. The first Germain Lariviere store opened in Montreal suburb of Saint-Hyacinthe in 1957. The following 20 years was a time of investment and growth. After a fire ravaged the store in 1990, the company was rebuilt.

With the arrival of the new millennium, a second store was opened in nearby Laval, followed by a third store in Quartier Dix30 regional power centre in Brossard. Today, the company employs some 200 people under the second generation leadership of Jean and David Larivière, the sons of the founder.

Germain Lariviere supports a number of charities including La Maison Victor Gadbois, which offers palliative care to patients suffering from terminal cancer; and, is Fondation Aline Letendra, an organisation that gives a better quality of life to the residents of short and long-term care facilities.

The 2018 Retailer of the Year from Western Canada is City Furniture & Appliances, which opened its first store in Prince George, British Columbia in 1976. “The strong values, respect, trust and honestly of the Kandola family have allowed City Furniture to grow to 20 stores in British Columbia. The stores are all owner-operated by family which has been the key to their success,” Wiltshire said in his announcement.

“The success of the City Furniture Group is attributed to three factors: friendship, family and community,” he continued. “Developing strong relationships and friendships with suppliers and staff has been critical to the success of the organisation. Fostering these friendships has allowed for growth and expansion. A solid family base, the firm belief in family first and its morals and values was instrumental in the success of the business. It is the strength of the family that has carried the Kandola family and City Furniture into its third generation.”

In each city where individual store operators live and work, the retailer gives back to that community by supporting local charities and sports teams. And for the past 20 years, the City Furniture Group sponsors an annual charity golf tournament. Hosted by a different franchise city every year, it raises funds for causes such as hospitals, food banks, Boys & Girls clubs and sports teams.

The awards gala will be held at the Universal Event Space which is located at 6250 Highway 7 in Vaughan, Ontario. A reception will be held at 5:30pm followed by dinner at 7pm and the awards presentation at 8pm.

Owen & Co acquires Zedbed

12 February 2018
Mattresses, Manufacturing

TORONTO – Owen & Company, the Canadian producer of the Kingsdown mattress brand has acquired Zedbed, a relatively small Quebec-based manufacturer of eco-friendly memory foam mattresses, motion bases and other sleep products as part of its aggressive growth plan to increase its market penetration and broaden its luxury sleep product offerings across North America.

Owen & Company, more commonly known as Kingsdown Canada, entered into a strategic partnership with Novacap, a Montreal-based private equity firm in April 2017.

In a statement, Owen & Company noted that with three manufacturing facilities located in Shawinigan, Québec area, Zedbed is a highly innovative company, one of the few mattress manufacturers to be vertically integrated in making its own unique soy-based memory foam. These proprietary foams allow Zedbed to offer Made-In-Canada foam products to its customers that no one else can replicate.

Zyber is the latest collection of specialty mattresses from Zedbed, which was acquired this week by Owen & Company, the Toronto-based manufacturer of the Kingsdown label in Canada.“Foam mattresses represent about 30% of the mattress market in Canada, and Kingsdown Canada has not been an active player in this category,” explains Marc Paiement, senior partner of Novacap and chairman of Owen & Company. “Both companies complement each other well in their respective markets and both will have a lot to gain from one another. Zedbed will have the ability to showcase its unique products outside of the Québec market through the Kingsdown Canada network. Conversely, Kingsdown Canada will benefit from the Zedbed network in Québec, and offer a larger spectrum of complementary products, which includes innerspring mattresses.”

“We are extremely excited to be working with the Zedbed team,” Mike James, president and chief executive officer of Owen & Company added. “We were attracted by Zedbed’s versatility and expertise, which enable it to develop and manufacture high-end products that continuously redefine sleep industry standards. They have expertise in product segments we presently do not serve and a tradition of craftsmanship and innovation that makes this relationship very promising.”

“For us, this transaction represents a great opportunity to take our company to the next level and further develop the North American market,” Zedbed president Mario Gélinas said. “We already know that we have great products, and our new partnership with Kingsdown Canada and Novacap will allow us to grow even faster than before.”

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, although Owen & Company said its long-term goal is to become a prominent leader in the North American mattress market. “The acquisition of Zedbed is an integral piece to the puzzle, with its world class research and development capabilities as well as its vertically integrated manufacturing facilities in Québec,” the statement said.

Mario Gélinas and the other remaining members of Zedbed’s executive team will join Owen & Company.

In addition to Kingsdown, Owen & Company also produces mattresses under the Bassett and James & Owen labels.

Founded in 1981, Novacap is a leading Canadian private equity firm with $2.3 billion of assets under management.  In addition to Zedbed and Owen & Company, Novacap also has an equity position in Bestar, the Lac-Megantic, Quebec-based manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture.

Related Story: Kingsdown Canada joins equity partnership with NOVACAP

MyPixel chases the customer around the web

12 February 2018

Online digital advertising has grown into a global marketplace with an estimated value of $230 billion. It has been best harnessed mainly by those with the deepest pockets. While a wide range of businesses can buy ad space on any given web site, large advertisers – usually corporate giants with vast resources – and their marketing agencies usually lock down the latest cutting edge technologies and techniques before any one is really aware of its availability. Digital marketing was one of those techniques but thanks to a relatively small and unknown disruptor based in Montreal, there’s an opportunity for small and mid-sized retailers to get it on the action.

Programmatic digital advertising has become both the standard and the emerging trend of online marketing. Typically requiring in-house specialists or third-party firms dedicated to its successful implementation, the costs associated with programmatic advertising often fall beyond what a significant portion of Canadian retailers – particularly family-owned independents – can afford.

Advertising exchange District M believes it has found a way to bring small and medium-sized businesses – including independent furniture, mattress and major appliance retailers – to the digital marketing table by creating MyPixel, a platform they say delivers an entry point into this technically complex marketplace.

Five years of facilitating digital advertising exchanges helped District M realise the need to streamline the process and create a level of affordability to even the playing field – one that would allow independent and smaller businesses access to these resources. They understood many don’t have the resources to learn such a technical speciality, so they put their expertise into creating the MyPixel platform. The plan is to bring all the complexities of advertising exchanges and real-time bidding into one place and then deliver them in a platform anybody can use. It’s simple as signing up and creating a campaign.

Adrian Pike is chief marketing officer to District M, the Montreal-based creator of the MyPixel digital advertising platform.District M’s chief marketing officer Adrian Pike explains programmatic advertising, it “typically means that we can tie up advertisers...with web sites and based on information we’ve captured about the viewers of that web site we can display ads that are relevant to them.”

This gives retailers the unique ability to use their online stores to increase traffic, promote return visits, and reinforce brand awareness through a process called retargeting. To put it quite simply, when the visiting consumer leaves the retailer’s web site, advertisements that encourage re-engagement go with them, using the visiting consumer’s geographical location to provide relevant content.

“You want to retarget people who have visited your web site with adverts for your store,” Price explains, “as simple as that, so when they’ve been to your web site, you can then retarget them with offers, campaigns, and even brand association. Adverts that sort of follow them around and when they see it, they’ll see your brand in the corner with, you know, an image and a contraction to take them to your web site or to a conversion page.”

The true selling point of a retargeting campaign using programmatic digital advertising tools is one with relevance for businesses of all sizes: the efficient use of marketing dollars. The goals of a retargeting campaign is to increase the amount of re-engagement – that is, the number of return visits – by the visiting consumer and build the retailer’s brand recognition. With repeat exposure, the probability that the visitor will become a buyer increases. The longer the retailer is able to maintain an online presence and engage with higher levels of traffic, a profile of likely buyers can be created. Over time, using the data retargeting data collection, campaigns can be fine-tined to find those consumers most likely to shop either in the retailer’s brick and mortar store or on his web site. This also helps the retailer get the most out of his advertising budget.

Click here to read the rest of Greg’s report in the HGO Merchandiser.

Flexiti launches online financing

12 February 2018
Products, Retail

TORONTO – Flexiti Financial has upgraded its point-of-sale (POS) financing and payment technology to make its available and accessible for online transactions.

The company maintains the financing platform can be easily integrated into any e-commerce engine, overcoming two key hurdles – speed of implementation and cost – as retailers seek new ways to embrace e-commerce, which continues to grow as a sales channel.

Flexiti’s POS lending platform offers low rates for retailers who want to offer their customers flexible payment options, such as 0% interest financing. Customers do not require an existing credit card to apply. They can simply select ‘Pay with Flexiti’ at checkout, apply, and receive approval for Flexiti’s virtual credit card – within seconds. Merchants receive payment in less than two days.

The new online financing product provides customers with access to open credit, with interest rates as low as 0%, through its virtual credit card, eliminating the need to reapply for financing towards future purchases. For merchants utilising the product, this is a major advantage over instalment loans which require new applications for each purchase. It is also integrated with Flexiti’s existing in-store POS system, allowing retail partners to offer the same financing solution across all sales channels to increase revenue and build loyalty through repeat purchases, whether in-store or online.

Retailers can easily integrate Flexiti’s online financing to their existing e-commerce site or e-commerce platform through its own API. Flexiti also offers out-of-the-box ‘Plug & Play’ extensions, free of charge, for e-commerce platforms like Magento 1, Magento 2, WooCommerce, Open Cart and PrestaShop. As a result, in just a few days, merchants can begin offering a powerful new payment option to drive sales.

“Retailers in Canada are competing on a global scale but lack the advantages our competitors have in other markets, particularly in online payment options. Flexiti Financial has just helped level the playing field, offering us an e-commerce solution we were able to integrate on our site in a few days” said Raj Kapahi, president of Wicker Emporium, a 24-unit retailer of furniture and accessories with stores throughout Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

“E-commerce is an important sales channel for Wicker Emporium, and we are excited to provide our customers a better shopping experience by offering online financing through Flexiti Financial,” he added.

The potential impact of online financing for retailers in Canada cannot be ignored. In the coming decade, it is estimated that 35% of Canadian retail sales growth will be delivered online, up from 7% today. Forty-two per cent (42%) of customers are more likely to shop at an e-retailer that offers financing, and retailers that do have seen a 15% increase in the order value at the point of check out.

Peter Kalen“We have created the most technologically advanced financing platform in Canada to provide merchants better sales financing options to boost their bottom line,” said Peter Kalen, founder and chief executive officer of Flexiti Financial. “With our platform, our retail partners have seen up to a 380% increase of in-store financed sales. As Canadians continue to embrace online shopping, Flexiti Financial is thrilled to offer our solution to help merchants achieve the same sales online.”

Kalen also noted Flexiti’s platform has made the cumbersome and tedious process of applying for credit in-store seamless and quick. Using a tablet or a desktop, a sales representative can lead a customer through the application to approval in under three minutes.

“Given both the in-store and online systems are integrated, retail partners can offer the same financing solution across all sales channels to increase revenue and build loyalty through repeat purchases, whether in-store or online,” he said, pointing out there is no sign-up fee for merchants wanting to add the Flexiti program to their existing POS system.

While the development of e-commerce in Canada has trailed that of other countries – like the U.S. and the U.K. – it did have an estimated value of $20 billion, or about 7% of the country’s $352 billion in retailing spending in 2016. Experts believe that e-commerce will account for 35% of retail sales in Canada over the coming decade.

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