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Sunpan joins First Tuesday

26 November 2020
Events, Furniture

TORONTO – Sunpan has joined the High Point Showroom Association (HPSA) and its First Tuesday initiative, meanings its showroom in the Showplace building will be open to both retailers and designers year-round.

The contemporary furniture resource is one of four Canadian companies with permanent showrooms to join in the First Tuesday initiative, which was created in the wake of the ongoing restrictions imposed by COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It was designed to create a safer environment for attending buyers and designers.

“This year, we had the opportunity to learn new ways to connect with our clients and found alternative measures to share access to our product,” company president and chief executive officer Sundeep Bagga said in a statement. “We understand the challenges our clients are facing while navigating local and international restrictions and as a result, launched a virtual tour of our High Point showroom. We have also made arrangements to keep our showroom open throughout the year by joining HPSA and First Tuesday.”

The reception area to Sunpan’s High Point showroom features the company’s Burr armchair in Bali Bone leather.As a new member of the association, Sunpan will participate in events like Designer Day, occurring the second Wednesday of every month. Through events like these, the company’s sales team will be able to offer private appointments to the design community. The first scheduled event is on 02 December for the Designer Holiday Market.

The First Tuesday initiative aims to provide more purchasing opportunities to home furnishing buyers outside of market dates and will have its premiere on 01 December 2020 and will run until 03 December.

To ensure the safety of staff and guests, Bagga strongly recommends attendees make appointments to see the showroom by calling Sunpan sales associate Becky Newsome at (336) 239-6780 or by e-mail. The showroom is located in space 1200 of Showplace, in the heart of downtown High Point, North Carolina. COVID-19 related protocols will still be in place until further notice.

“High Point has become a destination for the design community beyond bi-annual market dates. We pressed forward to double our showroom space to 40,000 square feet and merchandise our latest and greatest designs,” said Bagga. “We are always working to find new ways to serve our clients conveniently and safely and I am thrilled that our High Point showroom is now open to customers year-round.”

For clients unable to attend High Point Market, a virtual tour of the new showroom is now available via the company’s web site, where product launches are also showcased.

Other Canadian furniture resources who are part of the First Tuesday initiative include Décor Rest (Plaza Suites 212); Magnussen Home Furnishings (IHFC M810); and, Palliser (220 Elm 400).

Earle Leard dies at 68

26 November 2020
Furniture, Mattresses, People, Retail

OTTAWA – Furniture industry Earle Leard passed away peacefully here on Tuesday, 17 November 2020. He was 68 years old.

Before his recent retirement, he held a number of senior sales management positions at Cantrex Nationwide, the Montreal-based retail marketing and buying group. He joined the group’s Mississauga-based merchandising office in 2006 as the furniture and bedding merchandising and network manager in what used to be their Ontario, Western and Atlantic Canada division. He later served as director of the Furniture Plus banner while managing operations in Atlantic Canada and the group’s import program.

Earle LeardPrior to that, he served as director of business development for the now defunct Allied Home Furnishings Network, which was later absorbed by Mega Group.

Leard was the beloved husband and best friend of Catherine Chefero (née Robertson) and loving father of Heather Leard, Russell Leard (Julia Calcerano); and Cathy’s son Douglas Chefero (Erin McKercher). Cherished grandfather to Graeme, Violet & Nathan Leard and Haylie Chefero. Survived by his siblings Catherine (Frank Pacheco) and David (Jocelyne Pelland). Predeceased by his parents Harold and Lillian Leard.

“Earle enjoyed exploring new places and meeting new people,” his family said in a statement. “He was kind, friendly, and engaging, which is one of the many reasons he was such a successful salesman. Earle had a great love of music and enjoyed playing bass guitar with a number of bands and musicians over the years in Ottawa and Toronto. He loved spending time with his family and friends at the cottage and enjoyed his time at the lake.”

Due to restrictions imposed by the ongoing COVID-10 pandemic, a private celebration of life was held in his honour on 26 November 2020 at the Whelan Funeral Home here in the nation’s capital.

The family would be deeply appreciative of anyone wishing to share a memory of Earle to do so at [email protected].

In memoriam donations to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ottawa-based musical charity Bluesfest: Blues in the School would be appreciated by the family. 

IKEA Canada reports revenue drop as e-commerce sales surge 42%

23 November 2020
By the Numbers, Furniture, Retail

BURLINGTON, Ontario – IKEA Canada solidified its position as this country’s second largest furniture store chain, announcing revenue for its most recent fiscal year was $2.32 billion. While this was an 8.7% drop from the prior year, the retailer noted online sales saw a significant lift, jumping 41.9% to $370.7 million.

A subsidiary of the global home furnishings retailer based in the Netherlands; IKEA Canada’s last fiscal year ended 31 August 2020. The details of its performance were released in its 2020 Summary Report.

The e-commerce share of total revenue climbed to 16.0% for the 2020 fiscal year from prior year’s 10.3% – an uptick not uncommon among the larger merchants in Canada’s furniture and home furnishings store segment.

The retailer also noted visits to its web site – – and the IKEA app increased 52% to 178.5 million. Indeed, the company claimed the app has been downloaded more than 700,000 times since its was launched.

IKEA Canada reported sales of $2.32 billion for its latest fiscal year. While total revenues were down, online sales leaped almost 42% on a year-over-year basis.The publicly Leon’s Furniture Limited (LFL) remains the largest furniture store retailer in the country with annual sales in 2019 of $2.73 billion and a national market share of 21.5%, based on data published by Statistics Canada. IKEA’s national market share fell slightly to 21.1%, although it operates considerably fewer brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

“At IKEA, we are driven by a simple, yet powerful vision to create a better everyday life at home for the many and this has never been more meaningful than it is today,” IKEA Canada chief executive officer Michael Ward said in a statement “As we close one of the most extraordinary years in recent history, I am proud to reflect on the resilience of our business, how we led from our purpose and the togetherness, entrepreneurship and leadership of our co-workers across the country.”

He noted that at the peak of the pandemic, all 14 IKEA Canada stores were closed for nearly three months, prompting a shift to online selling. To adapt, Ward said IKEA Canada stores were transformed into fulfillment hubs, leveraging each one’s logistics capabilities to fulfill local orders, thereby increasing capacities, reducing lead times and lowering its delivery carbon footprint.

They also introduced contactless curbside order pick-up, enhanced its remote planning and design service and introduced a new number of affordable pick-up points in both Toronto and Montreal.

Ward, who also serves as the company’s chief sustainability officer, said the retailer was proud it maintained the employment of its entire 7,900-member workforce throughout the pandemic’s temporary store closures. It was also able to commit $2.3 million in emergency relief for the communities it lives in, including donating $350,000 in food for to food banks and some 240,000 N95 masks to healthcare facilities.

As it is essentially a privately held company, the retailer doesn’t provide insight into its furniture sales mix, however, IKEA spokesperson Kristin Newbigging told Home Goods Online there was one product category that stood out.

“Unsurprisingly to many Canadians who are now newly working from home, we saw significant increases in both sales and demand for our home office category, seeing lifts from 5% to nearly 50% across categories including home office desks, chairs and accessories,” she said. “There are now 631,800 more desks in Canadians’ homes, including 45,000 sit-stand solutions, which help support a healthy and sustainable workspace solution.”

Despite this, she acknowledged IKEA suffered setbacks during the first wave of the pandemic, in line with the experiences of other retailers.

“Across the board, we saw a drop in larger big ticket purchases during the peak of the pandemic, with a focus instead on affordable home accessories and specific categories like home office, which reflected the trends we saw in life at home,” she told HGO. “We’ve seen this pick up in fiscal year 2021, with many Canadians now looking to take on home projects or renovations during their extended time at home.”

In a typical year, IKEA Canada launches four new furniture collections. During the most recent fiscal year, it debuted eight unique collections, including its collaboration with Virgil Abloh – called MARKERAD – which sold out in less than a week last November. Newbigging said IKEA has about 1,000 home furnishing suppliers in 50 markets around the globe. The top supplier countries are China, Poland, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden and Germany. The company doesn’t currently source any of its upholstery offerings from Canada.

Looking ahead, Ward said IKEA is working to become faster and more agile to meet the needs of its customers. “We will transform our business to be ever more accessible to our customers no matter how they choose to shop with us, we will become more affordable across our total offer including services and we will take a leap when it comes to enabling even more Canadians to live a more sustainable life at home.”

In the coming year, IKEA will accelerate efforts in Canada to become fully circular and climate positive by 2030. It plans to extend the life of second-hand furniture through its sell-back program and to complement the growth of its online business IKEA will aim for 100% of home deliveries across Canada to be made by EV or other zero-emission transportation over the next five years. 

Related Story: IKEA Canada to launch sustainable Black Friday campaign

Related Story: The Forecast: Store Sales 

Danby developing freezer line to store COVID vaccine

23 November 2020
Appliances, Community

GUELPH, Ontario – Danby Appliances has announced it is developing a new line of freezers capable of storing the COVID-19 vaccines at temperatures approaching -122.8° F (-80° C) that are currently being tested by a number of drug companies such as Pfizer and Moderna.

Both are testing vaccines that require storage and transportation at these extremely low temperatures.

The Canadian appliance maker produces over 500,000 freezers a year and believes it can help with the need for medical freezers when the COVID-19 vaccine goes to market. Danby already has experience making medical fridges with their Danby Health, a medical-grade refrigerator equipped for storing temperature sensitive goods.

“Currently there are freezer shortages and I expect the same high demand for medical refrigeration as the vaccines roll out,” company owner and chief executive officer Jim Estill said in a statement speaking to the projected demand for vaccine storage needs.

Danby is currently developing a series of medical-grade freezes – such as those seen here – capable of storing the COVID-19 vaccines being tested by at least two of the world’s pharmaceutical giants, both of which need ultra-low temperatures approaching -122.8°F.The current Danby Health line-up is not equipped to reach the low temperatures required for the new vaccines so a new freezer line up is in development.

“The complexity of building an -122.8°F (-80 C) freezer is massive. It’s not at all a simple freezer, but we make half a million freezers a year, so we can do it,” Estill said, noting Danby’s first hyper-cold line of freezers come in a variety of sizes and specs to meet the demand for the new vaccine storage requirements.

The first freezers available to market will not be available for at least 120 days – roughly early April 2021 – which should align with the timing of the demand. It is expected the low temperature freezers will be required in hospitals, pharmacies, and transportation hubs in order to handle the double dose vaccine required for both citizens of both Canada and the United States, which has been estimated at between 500 and 800 million doses.

“We are pulling out all the stops. It’s a top priority of the company,” Estill said. “This can make a very meaningful impact in the world. A vaccine is no good if it can’t be distributed or stored.”

Danby has already helped in the fight against COVID-19 by working to assemble 10,000 ventilators, a task which is about 60% complete. They also recently donated 500 air purifiers to the Toronto District School Board. Those purifiers will be placed in some 37 schools across this country’s largest city, each of which was identified has having a high risk of exposure to the virus.

“Danby’s tag line is ‘Do the Right Thing’,” Estill said. “I always encourage everybody to think that way – what is the part that you can do?”

When developed, there will be four new low-temperature freezers added to the Danby Health line, each built to maintain the integrity of the vaccine as much as possible. They will include:

  • Danby Health Model # DHCF116 – an 11.6 cubic foot (328 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature medical grade chest freezer for laboratory and medical use.
  • Danby Health Model # DHUF14 – a 14 cubic foot (340 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature upright freezer designed to meet the demands of long-term and safe storage of highly valued medical and laboratory materials.
  • Danby Health Model # DHUF24 – a 23.9 cubic foot (678 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature upright freezer rated for medical and laboratory use.
  • Danby Health Model # DHUF30 – a 30.3 cubic foot (678 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature upright freezer specifically designed for medical and laboratory use. 

Related Story: Jim Estill named EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Ontario

Related Story: Danby to resume manufacturing small appliances in Guelph

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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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