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RONA sees smaller loss in Q1

BY Ken Clark

Boucherville, Quebec-based RONA, the Canadian hardware retailer and distributor, saw a sales increase of 1.8% in the first quarter of 2012, as the company narrowed its net loss.

Consolidated same-store sales were down 0.8% for the company that is putting more of an emphasis on what it calls its “proximity” stores designed for convenience and service.

Revenues for the quarter were C$934.9 million, up 1.8% from the previous year’s quarter. The company’s net loss was reduced to C$13.3 million in the first quarter, compared with a loss of C$17.6 million in the first quarter last year.

"Our New Realities, New Solutions business plan is going forward as planned,” said CEO Robert Dutton. “Just two months after it was introduced, 10 new prime sites have been chosen for the redeployment of business volume from identified big-box stores to our proximity and satellite stores. … These initiatives will enable us to gradually redeploy the sales volume from five of the 10 big-box stores whose closures were announced in February 2012.”

Dutton also reported a positive trend in sales in stores that specialize in building materials. “This demand for building materials bodes well for the coming months, because it usually signals the start of bigger construction and renovation projects,” he said.

Also, Jean Gaulin told the company’s shareholders at their annual meeting that he will step down. 

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Lowe’s realigns senior leadership team

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lowe’s has announced a realignment of its leadership team to “more sharply focus the company on strategies to create and deliver seamless customer experiences.” Seamless retail across the brick and mortar and digital channels is a major focus of the retailer’s strategy. 

The retailer moved its executives into two teams: the Customer Experience organization, which will create customer experiences to differentiate Lowe’s from competitors, and the Operations organization, focused on delivering the customer experience.

The Customer Experience group will be led by Gregory Bridgeford, who was promoted to chief customer officer on May 5, after serving as EVP business development. Reporting to him will be:

• Bob Gfeller, now customer experience design executive; Gfeller was previously the EVP merchandising. Gfeller will lead the creation of customer experiences across channels, and will continue to fulfill his merchandising duties until Lowe’s fills that position.

• Tom Lamb, now chief marketing officer; previously Lamb was the SVP marketing and advertising. He is now responsible for all communications and marketing.

• Mike Mabry, now digital interfaces executive; Mabry was previously the EVP logistics and distribution. Mabry will lead the planning, development, and operation of Lowe’s website and other digital communications platforms.

Meanwhile, Rick Damron started his job as chief operating officer on May 5, after serving as EVP store operations. Damron will lead the Operations group, which will include:

• Dennis Knowles, now U.S. stores executive; Knowles previously served as SVP specialty sales and store operations support. He will manage operations of U.S. retail stores.

• Brent Kirby, now sales and service fulfillment executive; previously Kirby was SVP store operations, North division. Kirby will be managing operations of sales and services outside U.S. stores, including contact centers, installation, repairs and on-site sales.

• Gary Wyatt, real estate executive, will continue to manage real estate, engineering and construction, and facilities. He will lead design, planning, construction and maintenance of retail and customer service spaces for the U.S. business.

At the same time, Lowe’s also announced additional changes to its employee ranks:

• Richard Maltsbarger will serve as the new business development executive. Maltsbarger had served as SVP strategy. Maltsbarger is responsible for strategic planning, business process management, research and Lowe’s innovation center.

• Brian Peace is now corporate administration executive. Previously, Peace served as SVP corporate affairs. Peace is responsible for government affairs, corporate facilities, corporate security, aviation, and corporate events, and travel.

• Doug Robinson will now be head of international operations and development. Robinson had been SVP international operations and customer support services. Robinson will lead the retailer’s operations in Canada and Mexico, as well as international development. 

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Toolkit helps employers hire military veterans

BY Theresa Minton-Eversole

Many employers are more than willing to hire military veterans. But many concede that they do not know all they need to know to effectively find and hire them.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has published a toolkit that can help companies learn what they need to know to make their hiring practices military friendly. The toolkit, Support from Behind the Lines: 10 Steps to Becoming a Military-Ready Employer, written by Sherrill Curtis, SPHR, principal and creative director for Curtis Consulting Group, a New Jersey-based HR consulting practice, guides HR professionals and business leaders in how to source, assimilate and support military-connected talent — veterans, National Guard, reservists and their supporting family members — effectively in the workplace. It describes how to assess an organization’s culture and resources related to military-connected employees and how to develop initiatives that will fulfill the organization’s needs best.

“The transition from a military to a civilian career can be daunting,” writes Curtis. “Upon returning home, service members think primarily of reconnecting with their families and getting some much-needed rest as they try to acclimate to a ‘normal’ home-life routine.”

But she adds, “While service members transitioning out of the military may receive information during debriefings about potential job assistance and resources, there is no formal, mandatory career transition training program for all services.” Consequently, they typically sign papers and return home without training on how to take that next all-important step in their careers.

The toolkit outlines 10 steps employers can take to make their hiring practices military ready, the first of which are to understand the issues and challenges that this population faces and to build a business case for hiring these highly-skilled professionals. Curtis writes that programs with the continuing support of so-called executive “champions” are most  likely to gain traction, including gaining necessary time, talent, budget, equipment and space.

Other useful information detailed in the toolkit includes:

• Information on tax incentives available for hiring veterans;

• Tips on understanding military ranks, job titles and terminology;

• Advice on how to effectively interview veterans;

• Advice about on-boarding and assimilating veterans back into a civilian workplace; and

• Citations of successful employers, government and nonprofit resources and many other references for assistance.

“Remember that taking action, even if it may appear on the surface to be nominal, has great impact for those who directly as well as indirectly benefit. Though the intended purpose of sharing this information is to reach out to and engage military talent — those who served abroad and at home — the resulting strategies, flexibility and community that evolve from your actions serve to create a work environment that benefits all talent,” Curtis concludes.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

© 2012 SHRM. All rights reserved.

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