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January 8, 2024 | Volume xxx, #2


  • A year of changes in retail home improvement: how Hardlines can help in 2024
  • Windsor Plywood founder Randle Jones has died
  • Slim margins and drop in big-ticket sales impact Home Depot’s Q3 sales
  • Holiday browsing didn’t translate into sales for independents says new report

PLUS: Home Hardware to introduce Pro Visa Business Card, Canadian Home Depot gift card scam, Owens Corning’s Christine Sampson announces retirement, GMS to acquire Kamco Supply, retail sales up in October, existing U.S. homes sales rise, and more!

A year of changes in retail home improvement: how Hardlines can help in 2024

Twenty percent of a store’s inventory mix each year should consist of new products, according to industry expert Bill Wilson. A former executive and lead merchant at companies including Sodisco-Howden and TSC Stores, Wilson wrote a management column in our sister publication, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly, for many years.

What’s new is just as important here at Hardlines. News, by its very nature, has to be fresh. And Hardlines delivers in multiple ways. As you enter 2024, we want you to be fully up to date on what we offer to help guide your business in the year ahead. So please, take a minute to familiarize yourself with all the cool stuff we’re doing here at the Hardlines (virtual) World Headquarters—and take advantage of as much of it as possible.

Hardlines Weekly Report: This is where it all started. Our weekly publication is the heart and soul of our little company, with in-depth news and analysis of the retail players in Canada. Available only with a (subscription) Premium Membership, it gives you access to the full story on retail home improvement industry, every Monday.

It also gives you access to a range of perks, such as a free Classified Ad each year, and discounts on your hiring and recruiting and searches for new lines and agencies throughout the year. You also get big savings on our Retail Report and Market Share Report, plus front-of-the-line discounts on our Hardlines Conference.

Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly: HHIQ is our print and online publication that is sent free to 11,000 dealers and managers across Canada four times a year. Although we are reluctant to toot our own horn (as 30 years of Hardlines will attest!), we think this magazine is indispensable.

Hardlines Dealer News: This monthly e-newsletter fills in between issues of HHIQ. It provides news and case studies of retail successes drawn from the dealer community across Canada. It’s free, but we like to think the content is invaluable.

Hardlines HR Advisor: Our newest publication—and the one with the biggest online circulation. Introduced during Covid, HR Advisor has been a hit with suppliers and dealers alike. It offers insights, case studies, and fixes for problems facing companies in this industry, every month. Also free!

Daily News: A free service that aggregates the latest retail and economic news, both in Canada and around the world, to help you maintain a broad perspective on retail.

The Hardlines Podcast Series: News, insights, and stories about Hardware and Home Improvement Retailing in Canada. Another new product launched during Covid, our podcast series is just one more way we package ideas and information to help dealers and suppliers alike.

Besides our publications, we have a range of other stuff you can take advantage of, like our Hardlines Classifieds (don’t forget to ask about getting your free Classified!), our Resumé Service, free for anyone looking for that next position; our Market Share Report, featuring sales and store counts for every banner in every province (our collective editorial brain is spinning now!), and of course: the Annual Hardlines Conference. Mark your calendar now for Oct. 17 to 19, 2024, in La Malbaie, Que., where we will host in collaboration with our friends at the Quebec industry association, AQMAT.

Remember, we’re here to serve you. To tell your stories, to share your news, and to dig for the truth to help guide your success in 2024. So why not bookmark and make it your home page?

Here’s to a great year for you, our Faithful Readers!—The Editors

Windsor Plywood founder Randle Jones has died

Randle Jones, the founder of Windsor Plywood, died in Coquitlam, B.C., on Dec. 19 at the age of 89. He was predeceased in 2017 by his wife and business partner, Fran, after 60 years of marriage, and is survived by three children and numerous grandchildren.

Jones was born in Victoria to Elisabeth Wilson and Stephen Jones. After studying business at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of commerce in Vancouver, he got his start in the industry in 1952 working at Stewart & Hudson Lumber Co. in his hometown of Victoria.

He also worked at a couple of other lumber yards before purchasing Windsor Building Supplies, a one-store operation in Surrey. In 1969, the first franchised store under the Windsor Plywood banner opened. Over time, Jones built a small empire of retail stores selling lumber, hardwood, doors, floors, and mouldings across Western Canada and in the U.S.

Today, under the leadership of its president, Curt Crego, the company has 58 Windsor Plywood stores, including five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and most of those locations are franchised. It is one of Hardlines’ Top 20 retail groups in Canada by sales and a key member of the Delroc buying group.

Besides the retail empire, Randle and Fran Jones founded the Windsor Plywood Foundation, with projects chosen by the individual stores. It has given tens of millions of dollars to causes in British Columbia and across western Canada.

“This is very sad news for the Jones family and all the industry people involved with the Windsor Plywood group of companies,” said Thomas Foreman, president of the Building Supply Industry Association of B.C. “Randy was a great leader and mentor to many in our industry and will be dearly missed by all.”

Slim margins and drop in big-ticket sales impact Home Depot’s Q3 sales dip

The Home Depot ended its third quarter in November with soft results, which reflected the performance of the retail home improvement industry in North America overall last year. The company further reduced its forecast for the full year.

The home improvement retailer’s third-quarter sales dipped by three percent to $37.7 billion. In a call to analysts following the release of the Q3 results, Home Depot execs shared some of the details of the results. That included a breakout of how its different customer segments shopped during the quarter. “The pro did outperform the consumer in Q3, albeit at the narrowest margin we’ve seen in quite some time,” said Richard McPhail, Home Depot’s executive vice-president and CFO. “If you actually normalize for commodity impact, the pro was essentially flat for the quarter.”

To improve those contractor sales—and those margins—the company aims to increase both deliveries and online sales, plus in-store growth. That means continuing to invest in its interconnected shopping experience and capture wallet share with the pro, an ongoing strategy for the retailer. And, in the U.S., Home Depot looks to keep growing its store footprint.

Ted Decker, Home Depot’s chairman, president, and CEO, said Home Depot was experiencing “pressure in certain big ticket, discretionary categories.” Purchases over $1,000 were down 5.2 percent in the quarter.

Which departments are being affected the most? Billy Bastek, Home Depot’s EVP merchandising, told analysts that “flooring, countertops, and cabinets” were seeing “softer engagement.” Pro-heavy categories like roofing, insulation, and power tools were still showing “big-ticket strength,” he said.

According to Decker, “Pro is one of our biggest growth opportunities, and this organizational change will allow us to better serve them by leveraging our full eco-system of expertise, product assortment, fulfilment, and operations.”

The pro business has been Home Depot’s fastest growing segment in recent years, and coming out of Covid, contractors and builders were responsible for the recovery in the retailer’s sales. But despite that growth, the margins on that contractor business were squeezed thin.

Overall, these conditions account for the company’s anticipated decline in both actual sales and comps for the full year. Those results are forecast to decline between three and four percent compared with fiscal 2022, a bigger dip than the guidance of between two and four percent reported in Home Depot’s second-quarter results.

Holiday browsing didn’t translate into sales for independents says new report

For generations of Canadians, Boxing Week sales were a mainstay of the commercial year, and major bargains during the holiday rush were unfathomable. No longer: Black Friday has become firmly entrenched this side of the border, and increasingly untethered from its association with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Just before Christmas, retail trend watcher David Ian Gray presented the results of a survey conducted by his DIG360 Consulting firm and Angus Reid. The authors tout the survey as “unique in that it is conducted after Cyber Monday so it can capture what consumers did and refine holiday shopping expectations for December.”

The survey found that Canadian shoppers were hunting for deals this holiday season—and not always impressed with what they found. Respondents were nearly unanimous, at 93 percent, in agreeing that they were watching their expenses more carefully. “Half (53 percent) were shopping for items that provided best savings while 29 percent sought best quality for a preset budget, all prioritizing buck over bang,” the report notes.

Those hopes weren’t always realized. “Another spike this year was the proportion who rated deals to be poor (at 61 percent, compared with a stable mid-40s from 2017 to 2021).”

Overall, almost half of those surveyed made at least one Black Friday purchase, the highest level since DIG360 began measuring in 2010. Black Friday has also evolved from a one-day event, spawning a mini-season centred on the second half of November. “Unsurprisingly,” according to the report, “shoppers told us they see Cyber Monday as basically the same as Black Friday.”

A bright spot in the data is especially relevant to independent retailers, who “are often challenged to stand out during this promotional period.” The survey found that the proportion of Canadian Black Friday shoppers exploring local independents was up to 41 percent, from 32 percent in 2018 and 35 percent in 2021.

But there’s a catch: only 19 percent ultimately purchased from an independent. Reasons cited for not doing so included “higher prices, lack of selection, and inconvenient locations.”

The number of cross-border purchases fell from previous years, “perhaps reflecting a pull-back in travel or poor exchange rates,” adds the report. Respondents also stressed timely delivery as a preoccupation: 57 percent said they were concerned about it, with 21 percent “very concerned."


Christine Sampson has announced her retirement from Owens Corning. She spent 29 years with the company, most recently as senior strategic marketing leader. She was also marketing leader for Canada, building materials, for a number of years. From 2004 to 2008 she was marketing manager, North America, based out of Toledo, Ohio.



that you can update your subscriptions, place orders, and book your Classified Ads by contacting the newest addition to our Hardlines Team, Jillian MacLeod. She is the person to get in touch with if you want to update your subscription to Hardlines Weekly Report, or to book a Classified Ad. So reach out to Jillian if you need help!


Home Hardware Stores Ltd. will roll out a new Scotiabank Home Hardware Pro Visa Business Card for its contractor clientele later this month. As a result, the retailer will conclude its existing contractor loyalty program, Top Notch Rewards, at the end of June. Scotiabank will announce more details about the new program on Jan. 31. Home Hardware has been partnered with Scotiabank through the financial institution’s Scene+ program since last summer.

Working with the FBI, Ontario’s York Regional Police say they have confirmed the identity of over 50 victims across the U.S. who have fallen prey to a Canadian Home Depot gift card scam. The victims were allegedly instructed online to buy Home Depot gift cards and then provide the numbers of the cards to Toronto area residents. Between September and November, investigators executed search warrants at five locations in Markham and the City of Toronto, seizing approximately $600,000 in Home Depot products and $67,000 in unused Home Depot store credits. Six men face a variety of criminal charges, according to York Regional Police.

Gypsum Management & Supply Inc. announced it has reached a deal to acquire Kamco Supply Co. Founded in 1939 by the Swerdlick family, Brooklyn-based Kamco is a supplier of ceilings, wallboard, steel, lumber, and related construction products. It operates five distribution facilities in the New York metropolitan area. The transaction is expected to close during GMS’s fourth quarter of 2024, which ends April 30.



Retail sales rose by 0.7 percent in October to $66.9 billion. Sales were up in seven of nine subsectors, led by increases at motor vehicle and parts dealers. LBM and garden sales edged down by 0.2 percent to $3.88 billion. Core retail sales, which exclude automotive and fuel categories, were up 1.2 percent in October. (StatCan)

Sales of existing U.S. homes rose by 0.8 percent in November. It was the first increase after five consecutive monthly declines, with an annualized pace of 3.82 million units. In the single-family segment, however, sales remained 7.3 percent lower than a year earlier. (National Assoc. of Realtors)

Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area totalled about 66,000 home sales in 2023, down 12 percent from the previous year. In Metro Vancouver, sales fell by 10.3 percent to 26,000. (Toronto Regional Real Estate Board; Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver)


Business owners who took out loans under the Canada Emergency Business Account are feeling the stress of looming deadlines, CBC News reports. Businesses that pay the majority of their balance by Jan. 18 can be forgiven up to $20,000. They also have the option of refinancing at higher interest rates.


"I wouldn’t expect anything too headline-grabbing from the resale housing market for the next few months.”
—Larry Cerqua, chair of the Canadian Real Estate Association, on November’s decline in housing sales.



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