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Canadian Tire to end catalog mailings

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Canadian DIY retailer Canadian Tire has announced it will phase out its paper catalogs, sent to approximately 6 million Canadian homes each year.

According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, the catalogs have been mailed twice a year for nearly 90 years. Company spokesperson Lisa Gibson told the newspaper that company research indicated readership levels had declined and that more people were online, prompting the company to take the catalog entirely online. The company plans to use the cost savings from the catalog mailings on advertising, Gibson added.

Canadian Tire briefly mentions the catalog change in its most recent weekly flier, noting to customers that the new spring catalog is “available only at canadiantire.ca.”

According to the Canadian Press, the Canadian Tire catalogue was started in 1928 by brothers John W. and Alfred J. Billes, “in order to reach customers looking for automotive parts that are hard to come by in more isolated areas.”

In related news, the end of the Canadian Tire catalog also is expected to hurt Canadian forest products company Quebecor, which provides the paper for the catalog and has been hit with other high profile cancellations of print contracts recently.

The battle for Canadian home improvement business has heated up over the past few years, as Canadian standbys such as Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Depot Canada and Sears Canada have been expanding in search of marketshare, while Lowe’s and specialty retailers like Crate & Barrel and Container Store have entered the market in the past year.

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Boise Cascade secures additional financing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Boise Cascade, one of the largest distributors of engineered wood products and building materials in the U.S., has secured a $350 million asset-based loan that will be used for working capital and to refinance existing debt. Banc of America Securities provided Boise Cascade with the credit facility, which includes a $150 million accordion feature, according to the announcement.

Boise Cascade treasurer Wayne Rancourt said the loan should “help us grow our distribution and engineered wood products business by increasing our position in existing markets, entering new geographic markets and expanding our product line.”

Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, Boise Cascade manufactures engineered wood products, plywood, lumber, and particleboard and distributes a broad line of building materials through 30 wholesale locations throughout the United States. Sales for fiscal 2007 were $5.4 billion.

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Williams-Sonoma earnings, sales rise in Q4

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Williams-Sonoma Inc., parent of high-end retailers Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma Home, reported earnings for the fourth quarter rose 3 percent to $124.6 million from $121.1 million in the same period last year, a gain spurred in part by an extra week in the 14-week quarter. Sales were up 9 percent to $1.37 billion from $1.25 billion.

Howard Lester, chairman and CEO of Williams-Sonoma, said the fourth-quarter results represented the higher end of company estimates for that period.

“While the post-holiday macro environment continued to soften, we remained focused on the things we could control,” he said. “We are pleased with these results.”

Overall, the company’s outlet stores saw a 4.4 percent gain in same-store sales, the largest same-store gain overall. Pottery Barn stores were down 1.5 percent in same-store sales, while Pottery Barn Kids stores fell 2.4 percent in same-store sales. Same-store sales rose 1.1 percent at kitchen decor retailer Williams-Sonoma.

For the year, earnings fell 6 percent to $195.8 million from $208.9 million. Year-over-year, sales were up 6 percent to $3.94 billion from $3.73 billion.

The company still expects the next year to be challenging, with Lester commenting it is expected to be “one of the most challenging macro-economic environments we have seen in many years.”

“Accordingly, we are approaching 2008 with a high level of caution and a view to preserve flexibility in our business plans,” he said.

In the 2008, Williams-Sonoma plans to add 29 new stores – 12 in the West Elm division – and expand or remodel an additional 20 stores. The San Francisco-based company operates about 600 stores, seven mail order catalogs and six e-commerce Web sites throughout the United States.

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