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Dutailier to close forever

29 May 2023
Furniture, Manufacturing

ST-PIE, Quebec – Dutailier, the solid wood glider rocker specialist, will close forever this summer, the victim of a changing labour market, evolving consumer buying habits and its product’s incompatibility with the requirements of automation.

In an interview with Home Goods Online, David Fontaine, president of the family owned and operated manufacturer said the production line will stop for the final time on July 7, 2023.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” he said.  His father started the company in 1977 and he has been leading the charge as president for the past five years. “We were hoping someone would give Dutailier a second life but that’s not going to happen.”

Like other furniture manufacturers, Dutailier experienced a boom with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 “but over the past months, our order entries have been very weak.”

Seen here is the Classic Wooden Glider from Dutailier. The company will close its production for the last time this July, a victim of changing labour markets, evolving consumer buying habits and its products incompatibility with the demands of automation.“No one realizes how difficult it is to build a glider rocket,” Fontaine observed, adding, last summer, Dutailier commissioned a study to determine what could be done to improve manufacturing efficiencies in the hopes of improving both productivity and operating margins. The study determined the product doesn’t lend itself well to automation and robotics.

Computers could be taught to make metal components for a glider rocker – which is why manufacturers in the People’s Republic of China and other Asia Pacific countries have made such great strides in the category – but solid wood can’t be bent and shaped in the same way.

Complicating matters further is the changing labour market. Many of Dutailier’s employees have been with the company for 20 years or longer. They’ve developed a skill set many young people aren’t interested in learning, making the search for replacements difficult at best.

The retail landscape has also changed significantly in recent years. Fontaine points out that his product was often sold by stores either specializing in or having a major commitment to infant and children’s furniture. Many of these merchants – such as Babies R Us – have disappeared in recent years, particularly in the United States.

Particularly since the onset of the pandemic, e-commerce has been driven of glider rocker sales. These platforms tend to be more price sensitive and since Dutailier’s product is definitely in the better-quality price points, it struggles to compete. This means, Fontaine notes, the company’s channels of distribution are getting narrower.

Consumers are also feeling the pinch. “The demand for our product is no longer there,” Fontaine said, noting Dutailier’s primary target customers – people with young families – are being squeezed by higher interest rates as well as higher costs for almost everything from gas to groceries.

However, for the next few weeks, Dutailier’s 105 employees will be working flat out to fill all the orders it has received since the decision to close was announced to its existing retail network. And, Fontaine added with some pride, almost everyone on his payroll already has another job to go to when the plant closes.

Once it does, Fontaine said he’ll be busy winding down the business and selling off the equipment and figuring out what to do with his 136,000 square feet of manufacturing space. It will either be leased to another company or sold on the open market.

BMTC expands Tanguay banner to all 25 Quebec stores

29 May 2023

MONTREAL – BMTC Group, this province’s largest and only publicly held full-line furniture retailer, will unite all 25 of its stores under a single banner, Tanguay. Until the end of its last fiscal year, the group also operated additional two banners, Brault & Martineau and EconoMax.

In a statement, the company said the move “marks an important milestone for the Quebec leader as it solidifies its presence in the province under a single banner.”

BMTC Group has consolidated all 25 of its stores in Quebec under one banner: Tanguay. Seen here is their store in Trois Rivieres. The names Brault & Martineau and EconoMax have been dropped as part of an effort to grow sales across the province.The move to a single banner, the statement continued, is part of a transformation process began last September, with the migration to a single IT system for all its banners. Completed in December 2022, this IT standardization, along with organizational and structural changes, allowed BMTC to create what it described as significant synergies, resulting in the creation of expanded and diversified teams that can now better cope with today's business realities.

At the same time, BMTC also announced a new line-up for its C-suite of executives, naming Jacques Tanguay, then president of the Quebec City-centred Ameublements Tanguay, chief operating officer (COO) of BMTC Group while Charles Tanguay, the banner’s vice president will become president of what is now the Tanguay division.

“We are delighted to now offer the Tanguay experience throughout the province. This deployment is part of the company’s growth strategy. By having identified the Tanguay division as the one with the best potential for expansion in Quebec, the company is positioning itself as a leader in the market as well as significantly improving its profitability and financial structure. It’s now on track to reach its objectives of increasing its market share in the province,” BMTC Group president and chief executive officer Marie-Berthe Des Groseillers said.

Tanguay, everywhere in Quebec
Brault & Martineau, EconoMax and Liquida Meubles stores are becoming Tanguay and Tanguay L'Entrepôt. Des Groseiller said BMTC is making significant investments to offer a better variety of products and services across Quebec.

Most industry insiders have always seen Tanguay has the ‘better and best’ voice in BMTC’s merchandising strategy while EconoMax was positioned as the ‘low price’ leader leaving Brault & Martineau in the mid-market.

Historically, BMTC has operated Brault & Martineau and EconoMax in the Greater Montreal Region while Ameublesment Tanguay was concentrated in and around Quebec City.

Under the new structure, the Tanguay banner gains 11 new stores in Brossard, Drummondville, Gatineau, Granby, Joliette, Kirkland, Laval, LaSalle, Sherbrooke, St-Hubert and St-Leonard.

In addition, five liquidation centres will be converted to the Tanguay L'Entrepôt banner in Laval, Pointe-aux-Trembles, St-Hubert, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières. Tanguay also offers customers an online shopping experience at

Exceptional service without pressure
No-pressure service and a personalized shopping experience focused on the customer's needs and complemented by a digital experience uniquely distinguishes the Tanguay experience.

Its after-sales service is also notable for its complete care and support services that help extend the life of customers’ furniture, appliances and home products. With more than 60 years in business, Tanguay enjoys an enviable reputation founded on its quality service, free delivery1 and the choice of products that reflect the tastes and needs of its clientele.

Everything for the home
Each Tanguay store is unique and tailors its offer to the needs of each community where it is present. Tanguay offers a variety of products both in-store and online that go well beyond furniture and appliances. Quebecers will be able to find everything they need for the home all in one place.

“We are proud that Quebecers can now enjoy the same Tanguay experience everywhere. We are pleased to solidify our presence across the province and to expand into new markets. The strength, know-how and agility of our 1,000 employees allows our current and future customers to benefit from our expertise. For more than 60 years, this expertise has been at the core of our reputation,” company president Charles Tanguay said.

It should be noted, BMTC’s decision to drop the Brault & Martineau banner didn’t recent universal applause. The Montreal Gazette quoted a Facebook post by Julie Martineau, whose father Robert co-founded chain with Denis Brault in 1960, saying she was “furious” and sad the brand was disappearing.

“He had so much confidence toward this person to whom he transferred and sold his baby for such growth in Quebec,” she wrote about her father, who died in 1999. “My father even refused higher offers from Ontario companies so that Brault & Martineau could stay in Quebec forever!” 

Related Story: BMTC sales, earnings drop

Create a culture of celebration!

29 May 2023

Is it part of your company’s culture to celebrate big wins, small successes, personal and corporate milestones and special days on the calendar? Celebrations brighten our day, energize our journey and acknowledge our work. They’re also fun! There are four categories of celebration you can consider. They’re listed below: 

  • Celebrate company achievements and milestones. It creates pride, joy and engagement.
  • Celebrate team members’ special life events like birthdays, marriages, having a baby, beating cancer.
  • Celebrate special days on the calendar like Valentines Day, Groundhog Day, St Patrick’s Day, your country’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Halloween.
  • Finally, celebrate special, random national days like National Cupcake Day, National Taco Day, National bring your pet to work day. Forget national pillow fight day. That could get messy!

Does your industry, product or service have a special national day? That would be natural for a celebration with both your Team and your customers. Click here to visit a web site specializing in publishing monthly lists of the hundreds of ‘special days’ throughout the year that you could use.

Does this mean you should spend so much time celebrating that ‘the work’ doesn’t get done? No, it means we should spend more time celebrating so that we get more work done. Most jobs in any business are repetitive and boring. Some are mind-numbingly boring. Creating a culture of celebration, joy and recognition helps uplift and energize people to be more productive and engaged.

For your next team meeting add this item to the agenda: how can we improve our culture of celebration? Refer to the four categories of celebration above. Mark on a calendar every day in the year you can do something special and fun to celebrate, recognize and energize.  Then, plan the fun! 

Here’s something else to think about: 

Business quote of the week: “Never let any one customer become such a big percentage of your total sales that this one customer controls your top line, your bottom line and dictates your very survival. I’ve seen several businesses driven into bankruptcy by their biggest customer’s predatory practices.”

What your customers say about you is ‘gospel’. Use it: Do you get great feedback from customers? What do you do with it? Do you use it on your website, in your sales literature and on social media? Do you share it with your team to thank and energize them?

What others say about you matters and it has much more credibility than what you say about yourself. What others say about you is ‘gospel’.

When a client in the U.S. wrote about my work, “Every business owner needs to spend a few hours with Donald Cooper. It changes everything!”, I immediately put that on all our marketing material. What do you need to do to deserve great feedback like that and then how will you use it to create confidence and boost credibility?

You’re not the only one struggling to find staff. The Canadian Royal Navy has a 17% vacancy rate. The reasons that they can’t attract and keep staff might be helpful to you.

Here they are: recruits don’t feel valued; pay does not reflect the unique demands of the job; there’s not enough time off; and, the navy doesn’t invest enough in developing and promoting team members.

Frankly, this sounds like a lot of businesses I’ve worked with.

Somebody has money. Rolls-Royce sold 6,021 cars, globally, in 2022 – the highest number ever for the company, boosted by high demand in the U.S. The average price of a Rolls is around US$534,000.

Concrete facts. Concrete is the second most-used material on earth. Only water is used more by humans. Why does this matter? Because the cement industry that produces concrete is responsible for 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, if concrete were a country, it would rank third behind only China and the U.S. in terms of carbon footprint.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe! Live brilliantly!

Sleep Country reports sales, earnings decline in first quarter

26 May 2023
By the Numbers, Retail

TORONTO – Sleep Country Canada Holdings (SCC), parent to this country’s largest physical and digital retailers of mattresses and related sleep products, reported only a slight decrease in overall revenue for the first quarter of 2023.

For the three months ended March 31, 2023, the publicly held company said revenue fell 0.3% to $206.5 million from $207.0 million for the same period last year.

The decrease was attributed to a 6.2% decline in same store sales, which was partially offset by incremental revenue earned from Silk & Snow – the e-commerce specialist it acquired on January 1, 2023 – as well as the net one new store opened during the quarter and an increase in its average unit selling price (AUSP).

Sleep Country Canada said revenues for the first quarter of 2023 slid 0.3% over the same period last year while earnings declined 34%. However, e-commerce sales climbed 7% to an estimated $46 million.E-commerce accounted for 22.3% of revenue in the first quarter, up from 20.8% during the first three months of 2022. In dollar terms, that’s a 7.0% jump from roughly $43.0 million in 2022 to approximately $46.0 million this year.

Mattress sales for the period were $155.4 million, down 2.1% from $159.0 million while accessories accounted for $51.1 million – up 6.5% from $48.0 million.

Net income was $11.3 million or 33 cents per share, compared to $18.5 million or 50 cents per share – a decline of 34.0% on a per share basis.

“For the first quarter of the year, despite ongoing tightening in consumer spending and macro-economic uncertainty, the company’s results remain solid,” SCC president and chief executive officer Stewart Schaefer said in his message to shareholders. “If we compare it to Q1 2022, which was our best Q1 in the company’s history, we were pleased to maintain steady revenues, while continuing to drive our business forward, deliver on our strategic plan and maintain our position as Canada’s leading omnichannel sleep retailer.”

Stewart Schaefer“As a spotlight on the quarter, we continued to see strong contributions from brick and mortar, while experiencing softer online sales, as consumers lean more towards in-person shopping,” he continued. “With our strategic plan in place and the strength of our balance sheet, we continued to execute well with a focus on building the country’s best sleep ecosystem of innovative products and channels, as well as exceeding our customers’ expectations. We kicked off Q1 2023 with the closing of the acquisition of Silk & Snow in the first week of January, followed by the opening of two new Sleep Country/Dormez-vous retail stores.

“Subsequent to quarter end, we were excited to acquire Casper Sleep’s Canadian operations, adding one of North America’s leading sleep brands to our growing family,” Schaefer added.

At the end of March, SCC operated 290 brick-and-mortar stores under the Sleep Country and Dormez-vous banners as well as several digitally native platforms including Silk & Snow, Endy, Hush and Casper.

Related Story: SCC buys Casper Canada

Related Story: Sleep Country sold one in four mattresses in Canada last year

Related Story: SCC to acquire Silk & Snow

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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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