Canadian Tire to test groceries
Canadian Tire, the home improvement and auto parts retailer based in Toronto, will begin testing groceries on its shelves next month in two Ontario-area stores. The new retail concept, called the “Smart Store,” will debut in the city of Welland and the Ottawa suburb of Orleans, according to Canwest News Service and other Canadian media outlets.
Food offerings will concentrate on convenience items like bread and milk, according to the company, which hopes to increase foot traffic in its stores. Canadian Tire operates 468 retail locations across Canada.
U.S. retailer Sears also added “pantry goods,” along with pharmacies and health and beauty aids, to its offerings when it launched its Sears Essentials format in 2005. The company now operates 75 Sears Essentials and Sears Grand stores in 26 states.
Survey: Lowe’s scores highest in customer satisfaction for major appliances
Lowe’s received the highest score in customer satisfaction among major appliance retailers, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The new study measured customer satisfaction with the largest appliance retailers based on sales staff, installation service, delivery service, store facility, merchandise and price — in decreasing order of importance.
Lowe’s scored an 804 on a 1,000-point scale and drew high marks for its installation service, delivery service and store facility factors. H.H. Gregg (799) and Best Buy (788) follow Lowe’s in the rankings. Sears ranked fourth, and Home Depot was fifth.
Responses from 9,200 consumers who purchased a laundry or kitchen appliance within the previous 24 months from a store that sells home appliances between June and July 2008 were the basis for the study.
Abby Buford, a spokeswoman for Lowe’s, said the home center was “very pleased that customers rated their experience positively and feel we are doing a good job.”
Dale Haines, senior director of the real estate and construction practice at J.D. Power, said their study found that 40 percent of appliance owners only shopped at the retailer from which they purchased their appliance. Haines noted there is little shopping around in appliances because so many purchases are urgent. “We think that in many cases the appliance they are replacing failed and they need one right away, so there is probably a large number of people who are going to buy a replacement today, which is also why in-stock availability is also important. If I can get it at the same price from two places, and one of the stores has the appliance, I will buy it there.”
J.D. Power research also shows that one out of five consumers chose a retailer in part because the store offered the right financing.
In a market in which nearly one-third of customers make a purchase decision based on a single retailer visit, delivering superior customer service is a must, Haines said, citing his company’s research findings. “After the purchase is made, the responsiveness of the retailer in rectifying any problems that may occur during delivery or installation can make the difference between a positive start to the ownership experience — which can foster customer loyalty — or one that is perceived negatively by the owner,” Haines said.
M/I Homes sees net loss for Q3
Columbus, Ohio-based M/I Homes has reported a net loss of $58.7 million for the third quarter, compared to a net loss of $24.2 million in the year-ago period. The 2008 results reflect a $21.6 million after-tax expense for the FAS 109 increase in the company’s deferred tax asset valuation allowance.
Revenue for the quarter was $160.4 million, down 31 percent from $233.0 million.
The home builder delivered 555 homes in the third quarter, down 29 percent from 787 in same period last year.
New contracts for the quarter were 456, down 19 percent from 561 in the 2007 third quarter.
“We remain in a primarily defensive operating mode — focusing on generating cash, reducing debt levels and expenses — and we have made considerable progress on a number of fronts,” said Robert H. Schottenstein, CEO and president. “At the end of the third quarter, the outstanding balance on our home-building credit facility was reduced to zero, our net debt to capital ratio stood at 32 percent, and we had cash of $14 million.”