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Who will be Canada’s best sales associate in 2020?

14 January 2020
People, Retail

LONDON, Ontario – For the fourth consecutive year, the Retail Sales Professional Awards program will seek out this country’s best retail sales associates and sales managers working in Canadian furniture, mattress and major appliance (FMA) stores. The recipients will be introduced to the industry at the Summer 2020 edition of the Las Vegas Market, which will be held from 26 to 30 July.

Nominations will be accepted until 5pm Eastern time on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 via the program’s web site at rspawards.com.

“By delivering exceptional customer experience and by building relationships that help to guide consumer’s buying decisions, sales professionals ensure that our industry continues to thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace,” said Brad Geddes, president and chief executive officer of ZucoraHome, the added-value product and service resource based here.

Click here to view Brad Geddes announcing the
launch of the 2020 RSP Awards program on HGO.tv

ZucoraHome will once again act as the presenting sponsor for the 2020 edition of the awards program in collaboration with Home Goods Online (HGO), the event’s communications sponsor. This year, the program will welcome three new supporting sponsors: the Las Vegas Market, Cantrex Nationwide and Mega Group.

Brad Geddes, CEO of ZucoraHome, the presenting sponsor of the RSP Awards, is seen here announcing that entries for 2020 edition are now open.“The RSP Awards will celebrate the outstanding achievement of sales professionals throughout Canada’s home furnishings industry. In addition to sales success, the RSP Awards are driven by peer-recognised achievement for delivering customer excellence by going ‘above and beyond’,” Geddes said.

The owners and senior management of all Canadian furniture, mattress and major appliance stores are invited to nominate members of their floor sales team for the award. At minimum, nominees must meet the following requirements:

  • He or she must be actively employed as a sales associate or sales manager in the retail sale of home furnishing products (furniture; appliances; electronics; bedding and related products) in Canada;
  • He or she must have a minimum of three years of direct sales experience with consumers;
  • He or she must consistently meet or exceed performance goals as confirmed by the candidate’s employer;
  • He or she must demonstrate a customer-focused approach with supported documentation;
  • He or she must have a record of mentoring and assisting other sales professionals as recognised by their peers; and,
  • He or she must be aware of the nomination; be willing to be considered for nomination, and if selected, be available to attend the presentation event; and be profiled by Home Goods Online.

In all, the judging panel will select one recipient from four regions across the country: the Atlantic Region (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador); the Central Region (Quebec and Ontario); the Prairie Region (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Nunavut); and, the Pacific Region (British Columbia and The Yukon).

From these, the national award recipient will be chosen. In 2019, the national RSP Award honouree was Jennifer Nelson, sales manager at Leon’s Furniture in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The members of this year’s judging panel will include: David Cohn, national sales director for ZucoraHome; John Power, general manager of sales and strategic development for Mega Group; Raffaele Laserra, assistant vice president of home furnishings for Cantrex Nationwide; and, Corrie-Ann Knell, HGO director of sales and marketing.

The recipients of this year’s RSP Award will receive a three-night, all-expense paid trip (including airfare, accommodation and meals) to Las Vegas. There they will be presented to the industry during an event to be held at the World Market Center during the summer edition of the Las Vegas Market. They will also have the opportunity to tour the market campus and meet people from across the industry.

Each recipient will also be profiled by HGO in a special section of the Merchandiser which will be published later this year.

For more information about the Retail Sales Professional Award – or to nominate a deserving retail FMA sales professional – visit its web site at rspawards.com.

Related Story: Celebrating our best retail salespeople
Related Story: 2019 RSP honourees named

Novacap acquires Bush

14 January 2020
Furniture, Manufacturing

MONTRÉAL – Novacap has acquired Bush Industries, an American manufacturer of ready-to-assemble case goods through Bestar, one of the three furniture manufacturers already in the Canadian private equity firm’s existing portfolio.

Based in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, Bestar is also a designer and manufacturer of RTA furniture for both home and office.

In announcing the acquisition, Novacap said the two companies have over 130 years of combined history in the RTA furniture sector with combined sales of approximately $260 million.

Bestar, the Quebec-based manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture such as the wall bed seen here, has acquired American rival Bush Industries in a deal backed by Novacap, its majority shareholder.The company also noted Bush and Bestar share some customers across the North American market and will leverage each other’s strengths to accelerate their current growth. Together, they will provide a large and growing product offering across several categories – including bedroom, home office, entertainment centres and occasional tables. They also boast quick ship and delivery capabilities as well as an expanding team of e-commerce marketing and sales specialists.

The combined companies will have a strong and deep leadership team and a stable long tenured workforce of over 600 employees, including more than 200 in Canada.

“Bestar’s goal is to concentrate their efforts on e-commerce solution for home/office furniture,” Frederick Perrault, a senior partner at Novacap and chairman of Bestar said in a statement.

“Bestar’s and Bush’s leadership teams see a significant and fast-growing market opportunity for furniture sold online and shipped directly to the end consumer. This emerging business model provides furniture consumers a convenient, rapid and affordable shopping solution,” he added.

“While we will see some savings from efficiencies once the companies are integrated, our main objective for the combination will be to further expand our product assortment, leverage our nationwide quick shipping capabilities and our global manufacturing and sourcing footprint to further accelerate the rapid growth we are both experiencing,” said Michael Evans, president and chief executive officer of Bush Industries, who will serve in the same role for the combined entity.

The combined company will be headquartered in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Bush has manufacturing plants in Jamestown, New York and maintains support facilities in Pennsylvania, California and China.

“Our customers will see little to no change in direction as we move forward,” Evans continued, adding, “We will continue on our rapid pace of new product and category introductions. We will continue to hone and speed up our distribution services and we will add supplementary warehouse locations during 2020 in order to answer our client’s needs.”

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, however, Novacap also announced two other Quebec-based investment organisations were supporting the acquisition including Desjardins Capital and Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

“Bestar is an industry leader producing quality Québec-made furniture using state-of-the-art robotic processes,” stated Luc Ménard, Desjardins chief operating officer. “We are proud to support this flagship in its acquisition of its U.S. competitor, Bush Industries. In doing so, Desjardins Capital is helping to maintain a head office and quality jobs in the province of Québec, in keeping with its mission.”

“Bestar has demonstrated that a strong digital strategy is essential to ensure the growth of manufacturing companies. Supporting companies like Bestar in the consumer goods’ industry is at the heart of the Fonds’s mission,” said Janie Béïque, executive vice president of Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

Founded in 1981, Novacap is a Canadian private equity firm with $3.6 billion of assets under management. In addition to Bestar, its stable of companies in the furniture industry includes mattress manufacturer Kingsdown and Foliot Furniture, a Quebec-based producer of hospitality furniture.

Related Story: Novacap drives Owen & Co merger with Kingsdown
Related Story: Kingsdown Canada joins equity partnership with NOVACAP

New Canadian DTC furniture maker goes online

6 January 2020
Furniture, Manufacturing, Retail

VANCOUVER – A new Canadian high-end furniture maker has entered the market is using a direct-to-consumer approach to introduce Circus, its first collection of seating products for both residential and contract uses. Based here, EDITS describes itself as a boutique design brand that streamlines the buying process and addresses issues of affordability and accessibility.

After spending the past 17 years working for well-known industry names such as Design Within Reach (DWR), Vancouver’s Bensen Furniture and EQ3, EDITS founder and Circus designer Richard Trory rolled out his virtual store in early December.

Circus Wood is one of three variations of the Circus collection of seating that was recently launched by EDITS, a new DTC furniture maker based in Vancouver.In announcing the launch, Trory noted the collection’s design embodies strength, balance, and choreography and was inspired by a multitude of influences ranging from the Bauhaus to the Bouroullecs. The Circus collection fuses the rationalization and simplification of modernism with post-modernist attitudes that embrace design as a beacon of intellect and emotion.

“Overall, I really wanted to make a statement about how chairs should be made in the 21st century, with new approaches to materials and techniques,” Trory explains. “Circus is a very elegant collection that is industrially, yet sustainably produced, more robust than what has come before, with references to modernist nostalgia and new-century minimalism.”

The process taking the Circus collection from the drawing board to the consumer was also meticulously designed, including the adoption of the direct-to-consumer (DTC) approach, to ensure the company had a cost-effective supply chain that would provide EDITS target customer – the contemporary design lover – with an affordable and easily accessible product.

“The big-name design brands take an uncompromising approach to curating their collections and executing a designer’s idea, but the brand experience often gets watered down at the showroom level, and that kind of design-forward attitude is largely missing in the middle-market,” Trory maintains. “Manufacturing high-quality products is always an expensive process, but it’s actually the layers of distribution and sales overhead associated with traditional retail channels that pushes pricing four to six times above production costs.”

He also believes the combination of high-tech parts manufacturing; handcrafted assembly and the global availability of a DTC platform will enable EDITS to reduce lead times and produce substantial cost savings over more traditional challenges.

“The Internet is the great equalizer that allows small, independent companies to compete on the same footing as global giants,” says Trory. “That opens up a new avenue for small brands to do exceptional things that are more affordable and as equally visible as big brand designs.”

In addition to contemporary design lovers, EDITS is also targeting architects and interior designers needing to specify seating projects for their own projects, whether it’s a home, or a hotel, restaurant, bar, café or an office or other and workspace.

On the EDITS web site, these trade professionals will find streamlined specification sheets, 3D models and other user-friendly tools as well as simplified online purchasing, proactive order tracking, and knowledgeable customer service.

Starting out small
As a small start-up competing in a high-end market space, Trory said EDITS decided to launch with just a single collection of what he describes as “fantastic chairs” – including the classic Circus Wood, the fully upholstered Circus Soft, and the elegant, high-backed Circus Stool. Combining meticulous workmanship with significant investments in time, engineering, and production tooling, the resulting collection is distinguished by its comfort, utility, and aesthetics.

EDITS founder and Circus designer Richard Trory.The collection is assembled by EDITS’ main production partner in Montreal from components sourced from some of the world’s most reputable suppliers, including sustainably and economically produced FSC-certified White Ash, 100% recycled aluminum, and eco-friendly finishes and fabrics. Its simple aesthetics conceal subtle design complexities, including innovative bending technology and sophisticated robotic woodworking. Sculpted seats, constructed from the highest-quality wood selected for grain and color consistency, provide unparalleled rigidity courtesy of an embedded aluminum seat plate, which also prevents warping or cracking.

The collection’s symmetrical Y-shaped legs are made of high-pressure die-cast aluminum and can support up to 300kg. They also meet the residential and commercial test standards set by BIFMA (the Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association).

Each model is available with standard wood finishes of natural clear, black stain, and Japan-Red stain, while the collection’s frames are available with silky smooth white or black matte finishes, or with a flawless, polished mirror finish of exposed aluminum. Circus Soft comes upholstered with high-quality Kvadrat textiles from Denmark and is available in soft grey, linen, forest green, and Japan red fabric, impeccably tailored to fit like a glove. Custom fabric and RAL-color paint options are also available by special order. Standard delivery time is three weeks for quantities of less than 24 pieces and no more than eight weeks for larger orders.

Trory told Home Goods Online the company is currently looking to add two additional seating collections to its line-up sometime during the first half of 2020 although he concedes the launch is subject to the market’s response to Circus. While the sales and marketing is focused on the architectural and design community, there have been some discussions with retailers and sales reps which may bear fruit in the not too distant future.

Furniture store sales climb in October, StatsCan reports

6 January 2020
By the Numbers, Furniture, Retail

OTTAWA – Thanks primarily to a strong housing market, Canadian furniture stores saw improved sales for the month of October 2019, according to the latest unadjusted figures from Statistics Canada. Meanwhile, home furnishings store sales sagged for the month while electronics and appliance stores saw their receipts drop like a stone, performances that were more in-line with the rest of the retail sector.

For the month of October, furniture store sales were pegged at an actual and preliminary $983.4 million, up 5.5% from the $932.1 million rung-up for October 2018.

For the year-to-date, furniture store sales came in at $9.85 billion, up 3.9% from $9.48 billion for the comparable period of 2018.

In his analysis, the Toronto-based retail consultant Ed Strapagiel noted furniture store sales for the trailing 12 months ending October 2019 were about $11.9 billion, an uptick of about 3%.

Home furnishings stores – which sell everything from furniture to decorative accessories, lamps and lighting, wall décor and floor covering – didn’t perform as strongly. Their preliminary sales were estimated at $596.3 million for October, a slide of about 2.0% from $608.7 million for October 2018.

But, thanks to gains made in prior months, year-to-date sales were pegged at $5.71 billion, a marginal 1.0% gain from the comparable 2018 period’s $5.66 billion.

Strapagiel pegged trailing 12 sales for home furnishings merchants at $7.1 billion, down slightly from the comparable period.

Electronics and appliance stores took a deep dive in October, as preliminary and actual sales were pegged at $1.10 billion for the month – a drop of 17.5% from the $1.33 billion rung-up in October 2018.

Sales for the year-to-date were $10.6 billion, down 10.7% from the $11.9 billion for the comparable period. For trailing 12, sales were estimated at $14.4 billion.

Most analysts expressed concern about the overall state of retail in Canada and fear it will drag down the overall economy during the closing weeks of 2019.

Statistics Canada reported total location-based retail had sales of $52.8 billion for the month of October, a scant advance of 0.2% over October 2018. Dragging down retail were sagging gas station sales – which fell 4.8%. In addition to electronics and appliance stores, sales also fell for automotive retailers, health and personal care stores, shoe stores, convenience stores and book and music stores.

For the year-to-date, all location-based retail stores had sales of $507.7 billion, about 1.5% higher than for the comparable 2018.

Omar Abdelrahman of TD Economics noted that apart from housing markets, Canadian economic news has tended to be unambiguously negative in recent weeks. “As a result, we are expecting a continued tepid performance for the Canadian economy in the fourth quarter,” he said in his research note.

“Retail sales are on track to record the weakest performance since the financial crisis,” he continued, adding, “This is notably disappointing considering the surge in population growth that Canada has been seeing of late. The sector continues to face the cross currents of high household debt servicing costs against the tailwinds of improving housing markets and firming wage growth. We expect these tailwinds to provide only a modest uptick in the months ahead.”

Robert Kavcic of BMO Capital Markets pointed out that “Canadian retail numbers can sometimes get wonky heading into the holiday and turn of the year. But, still, the bigger picture is that the consumer simply looks tired.”

Almost all analysts said they were waiting for StatsCan to report on retail sales for November and December before any final judgement.

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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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