HARDWARE STORES

OBI opens second store in Romania

BY HBSDEALER Staff

OBI, a leading European DIY retailer, opened its second store in Romania, Wednesday, Nov. 26, in the city of Bucharest. The store stands at approximately 36,000 sq. ft.

The opening comes 12 months after Wermelskirchen, Germany-based OBI entered the Romanian market. “Our objective is to become the number one player whole of the Romanian DIY Market as market leadership is our target in each country in which OBI operates,” said Carlos Hach,  the OBI Romania head of expansion.

The store will open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 27, and will operate daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The store will feature a variety of DIY products decoration and home improvement items.

Speaking to the media at the store’s official opening ceremony in Gunter Grieb, OBI Romania chief operating officer, noted, “A deep knowledge of the local market and OBI’s international vision will support us in achieving a leading position in the local DIY market.” OBI is the fifth largest DIY retailer in the world, operating 525 stores and employing more than 38,000 people.

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Rona adopts tough new eco-standards for lumber

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Canadian home-improvement retailer has announced plans to sell only certified lumber and plywood by the end of 2010. Three major certification standards will be recognized, but Rona will give preference to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Rona, one of Canada’s largest distributors and retailers of building materials and home improvement products, will begin sourcing all of its commodity lumber from certified forests by the end of 2010. This tough new standard, unmatched by any large retailer in North America, was announced at Rona’s spring show in Toronto on Nov. 21.

The new policy applies to all spruce, pine and fir sold through Rona’s network of 700 franchise and corporate stores. Accepted certifications include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Rona will give preference, however, to FSC-certified products, and has set a goal to have 25 percent of the commodity lumber in its stores FSC certified by 2012.

Rona unveiled several other goals that will be phased in over the next three years: • By the end of 2009, all plywood panels must come from certified forests. • By the end of 2010, 30 percent of wood products available at Rona’s corporate stores will carry a certification label. • By the end of 2011, all suppliers must provide chain-of-custody proof that traces wood products back to their forest of origin.

Based in Boucherville, Quebec, Rona operates a network of 700 franchise, affiliate and corporate stores generating more than C$6.3 billion in annual retail sales. An estimated 10 percent of that, or C$630 million, is in lumber purchases.

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B&Q launches ‘Home Improvement Qualification’

BY HBSDEALER Staff

U.K.-based home improvement retailer B&Q has launched a new “Home Improvement Qualification” program which aims to give employees an educational certification on both selling and product knowledge.

The vocational program will offer education in the areas of decorating, gardening, building and “room solutions.” The company plans to launch the program with the decorating section, with participants progressing through all four units before they can earn certification.

In a statement, B&Q spokesman Gill Lewis said, “Our customers … expect a lot from us, and customer advisors need to be knowledgeable not just about the products we sell but also their application and aftercare.”

B&Q is piloting the new qualification — by the end of 2009, the retailer aims to train 5,000 employees, which represent an eighth of its entire U.K. work force.

In related news, B&Q parent Kingfisher announced sales and earnings results for the 26-week period ended Aug. 2. Total group sales rose 11.1 percent to 5.1 billion British pounds (US$9 billion), while retail profit grew 22.7 percent to $487.66 million on a constant currency basis.

During the period, the company discontinued its Castorama Italy operations, which were purchased in August by Groupe Adeo, a Lille, France-based DIY chain.

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