In Australia, Masters Home Improvement is open for business
Masters Home Improvement, a joint venture from Lowe’s and Australia-based Woolworths, looks a lot like Lowe’s, according to this video from the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
In the Melbourne suburb of Braybrook, the first Masters stores is up and running. Don Stallings, the former head of Lowe’s Canada operations, is the CEO of Masters. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald describes his optimism for the venture.
Twenty Masters stores are currently under construction, while Woolworths intends to roll out about 100 Masters stores in the next five years. The big competitor is Bunnings, which operates almost 300 locations across Australia and New Zealand, including 194 Bunnings Warehouse home centers.
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With Craftsman on the move, Ace points to growth in tools
Ace Hardware Corp. said it is continuing to power up its tool department, and Craftsman continues to play a major role — even as the Sears brand tests the water in other retail outlets.
As the exclusive outlet of Craftsman products in the convenience hardware industry, Ace said it is expecting more of its stores to offer more Craftsman products in the coming months.
Over the next several months, Ace will reinforce its commitment to be a premier destination for Craftsman products by offering more than 1,050 Craftsman products in more than 1,000 Ace stores across the country. Since May 2010, when an initial 10 stores began selling Craftsman-brand hand tools, portable and bench top power tools, pneumatic tools and compressors, wet/dry vacs and tool storage items, an additional 963 Ace stores have started selling America’s most trusted tools, and that number is set to increase.
“The sheer number of stores that carry Craftsman products is a real testament to the brand’s strength and to our retailer’s commitment to offer the best products along with the most helpful service that consumers want and expect from Ace Hardware,” said John Surane, SVP consumer marketing, merchandising and paint for Ace. “What we’re offering consumers is a combination of choice and DIY knowledge that they can’t obtain elsewhere."
Since the inception of its agreement with Sears to sell Craftsman, Ace has remained the exclusive retailer of Craftsman products in the convenience hardware industry. More than 1,200 of its stores will carry a full-line assortment by year’s end. Ace’s stores participating in the program can currently carry more than 650 individual items, with an additional 400 products scheduled for in-store displays in the next 90 days. The increase is thanks to a new commitment to feature Craftsman mowers, tractors, hand-held power equipment, snow throwers and garden hoses in select stores.
With Ace’s semi-annual convention of retailers set to take place in Denver this October, the number of stores committed to the Craftsman program is projected to grow even further, expanding toward 2,500 stores nationwide. “We are forecasting significant and sustained increases across multiple categories,” Surane said. “Retailers are seeing the potential for increased sales and are excited about the different options for in-store display.”
"Stores that offer all available Craftsman products have reported double-digit growth, with a 13% greater increase in tool department sales as opposed to stores that don’t sell the tools," Surane said. "At the wholesale level, Craftsman has contributed to 15% growth in overall tool sales."
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Sears selling Craftsman at Costco
Craftsman Tools will soon be sold through Costco, adding another retailer to the list of outlets that includes brand-owner Sears, Kmart and, more recently, Ace Hardware stores.
An article in the Chicago Tribune reported that the popular brand of Craftsman hand tools, power tools and tool storage units will start appearing on Costco shelves as early as Saturday. Sears said the Craftsman tools are slated to roll out to all of Costco’s roughly 430 U.S. stores this year, with the assortment varying by location.
In spring 2010, Ace Hardware and Sears announced a merchandising agreement allowing Ace dealers to sell Craftsman-branded tools in 2010. The Oak Brook, Ill., buying group has rolled out the program to more than 900 stores this year and aims for 1,000 units by September.
Craftsman products have been a draw at Sears stores for generations, and they were more recently made available at Sears’ sister company Kmart, after the two retail giants merged.
To help Costco stand out from the Ace Hardware deal, Sears is bundling some Craftsman tools in unique combinations, according to the article. Costco shoppers, for example, can find a drill packaged with a light for fixing hard-to-see spots under the kitchen sink or a package of wrenches and sockets aimed at automotive use.
Craftsman Tools that have been showing up at Menards are just surplus SKUs, a Sears spokesman told the newspaper.
When contacted by Home Channel News regarding the Costco deal, Ace issued a press release including the following: "Since the inception of its agreement with Sears to sell Craftsman, Ace has remained the exclusive retailer of Craftsman products in the convenience hardware industry. More than 1,200 of its stores will carry a full line assortment by year’s end. Ace’s stores participating in the program can currently carry more than 650 individual items, with an additional 400 products scheduled for in-store displays in the next 90 days. The increase is thanks to a new commitment to feature Craftsman mowers, tractors, hand-held power equipment, snow throwers, and garden hoses in select stores."
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