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RONA sees a 7 percent decline in net income

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Boucherville, Quebec-based retailer RONA, one of Canada’s largest retailers of building materials and home improvement items, saw net income drop 7 percent to C$80.1 million (US$75.2 million) from C$86.2 million in the year-ago period.

Consolidated sales increased slightly to C$1.473 billion from C$1.469 billion in the same period last year. Same-store sales fell 4.4 percent.

New acquisitions contributed heavily to sales, the company said, noting that consolidated net sales would have declined by 2.9 percent if not for the contributions of those companies: Noble Trade, Dick’s Lumber, Centre de Renovation Andre Lessard and Best-MAR. Rona also said it is boosting promotions and service to attract customers.

“Sales generated by new stores opened in the last 12 months could not compensate for the decline in same-store sales, which decreased by 5.8 percent in the first half of 2008, excluding the 0.5 percent decline in the price of forest products,” the company said.

The company said a large part of its strategy will be to continue recruiting independent dealers. The retailer announced 12 new franchisees yesterday and said it has added 21 independent dealers so far this year.

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Taylor Do it Centers opens first Express location

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Taylor Do it Centers, a chain of nine Do it Best hardware stores in Virginia and North Carolina, has opened its first “Express” location in Virginia Beach, Va.

Aimed at weekend projects and yard maintenance, Taylor “Do it Express” is 4,500 square feet, about one-third the size of the average Taylor Do it Center. The store, which opened July 14, is in a densely populated area with many hi-rise condominiums.

“I saw this as an opportunity to do a smaller, high-margin store with no building materials — just basic hardware and lawn and garden, which are our strengths,” said Joe Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor Do it Centers, in an interview with Home Channel News. “It’s kind of like a 7-11 convenience store.”

Whereas a typical Taylor Do it Center has seven to nine employees on the floor at any given time, the Express format has three or four. And while the larger stores are all at least 3.5 to 4 miles from the closest big box, Express stores can be within a two-mile radius, Taylor said.

“If this is successful, we’ll go back into our region and fill in where we see opportunities in dense, higher-income areas,” he said.

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ICSC: July chain store sales rose 2.6 percent

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has reported a 2.6 percent gain in chain store sales in July, compared with the prior-year period.

The ICSC noted sales in July were “softer” than the 4.2 percent gain seen in June. The July performance still was in line with a year-to-date average of 2.5 percent year-over-year growth, said Michael Niemira, chief economist and director of research for the ICSC.

“Value and convenience retailers performed better in July than the industry as a whole as sales at discount stores, wholesale clubs and drug stores led the industry,” he said. “Although July captured some early back-to-school shopping, the month was dominated by clearance sales and discounts.”

The group predicted that in August, as demand for back-to-school and fall merchandise kicks in, industry sales will post a 2 percent increase.

Some of the country’s largest retailers reported mixed results in the period. At Wal-Mart, which accounts for the third highest sales volume of home channel merchandise in the country, same-store sales rose 3 percent. That figure was off slightly from Wall Street estimates of 3.4 percent.

Same-store sales at Target fell 1.2 percent in the period, deeper than a forecasted 0.3 percent drop.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale said July same-store sales increased 10 percent. That figure is higher than Wall Street estimates of a 7.9 percent gain.

In related news, the ICSC released results from a survey indicating consumers plan to start back-to-school shopping earlier this year. About 78.5 percent of respondents surveyed said they expect to complete their back-to-school shopping before the end of August, up from 72.7 percent in 2007 and 69.5 percent in 2006.

Roughly one-third, or 34 percent, of the households surveyed reported having already started their back-to-school shopping, while 7 percent said they were already finished.

The ICSC, through Opinion Research Corp., surveyed 1,012 U.S. households from July 17 through July 20 for the survey.

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