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SummerWinds now owned by garden center

BY Ken Clark

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the trade mark "SummerWinds" to SummerWinds Garden Centers.

SummerWinds Garden Centers is a Boise, Idaho-based high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the Silicon Valley of California; Phoenix; and St. Louis. The retailer says it appeals to both the serious and casual gardener with a broad selection of premium gardening products and knowledgeable staff. 

 

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With an eye on costs, lawn and garden industry expects growth

BY Ken Clark

Participants in the lawn and garden industry are relatively optimistic about growing sales during the next selling season — and they generally believe that this is a good time for dealers to start stocking more inventory, according to survey results released by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF). 

Forty-three percent of industry participants said the popularity of lower-cost models will have the largest impact on sales this year. At the same time, 24% said reduced levels of inventory will affect sales, while 20% said long production lead times will have an impact. 

"We have seen a shift in stocking levels and improving inventory turns over the last six months," said Michael Horak, commercial leader of CDF’s outdoor products group. "That tells us that product mix will become an important factor for retailers in the coming months. As consumer confidence starts to improve and product turns accelerate, customers will start looking for alternative product options." 

Respondents generally agreed that this is an appropriate re-stocking period, with 40% saying this is a good time for dealers to stock more inventory and 41% saying they had mixed feelings. 

When asked how much they expect their overall company’s sales to grow in 2013, here were their responses: 22% said sales would grow 0% to 5%, 38% said 5% to 10%, 23% said 10% to 15%, and 16% said 15% or more.

"Although the spring consumer buying season seems far in the future, people in this industry are already trying to predict sales activity for early 2013," Horak continued. "From our point of view, we expect inventories to increase slightly next year due to positive customer sentiment and new product launches. Dealers’ current credit lines are flexible enough to accommodate this increase in inventory levels." 

The lawn and garden industry survey of 100 respondents was conducted in late October. Respondents included retailers/dealers (31%), distributors (19%), manufacturers (18%) and others (32%).

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Lowe’s makes play for high-tech homeowner

BY Ken Clark

Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s will unveil the next wave of products and services for Iris, its cloud-based smart home solution, at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show. 

Iris enables homeowners to monitor and control their homes from anywhere via smartphone, tablet or computer with a free basic level of service. Lowe’s will showcase more than 15 new Iris devices and services developed since the smart home solution’s launch in 2012 at the show.

“As the second largest home improvement retailer in the world, Lowe’s recognizes the evolving needs of today’s homeowner, and is well positioned to offer the widest breadth of compatible connected home products and services at an attractive price,” said Kevin Meagher, VP and general manager of Smart Home at Lowe’s. 

Lowe’s will also introduce a new product line for the connected home that will offer homeowners an assortment of routers and switches, as well as Wi-Fi range extenders and Powerline solutions that will help expand network coverage by leveraging existing-home broadband wiring. Lowe’s plans to roll out the new home area network products to as many as 100 stores in the nation in the first half of 2013, with the full rollout later in the year.

“Lowe’s Iris system is an excellent choice for homeowners and renters looking to install a system that improves the safety, efficiency and convenience of their daily lives. Iris is simple and affordable, and it will continue to evolve to manage more elements of the home through a tablet or smartphone,” Meagher said.

Lowe’s has new Iris partnerships with Verizon, Honeywell, Whirlpool, Jarden Safety, Orbit Irrigation Products, Pet Safe, Plastair, Spring Window Fashions, Sylvania, Yale and Pella. It has existing partnerships with Schlage, First Alert, GE Jasco and Radio Thermostat of America. 

The 2013 International CES runs Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. 

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