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Toll Brothers ends year with rocky fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

National home builder Toll Brothers recorded fourth quarter losses of $81.8 million, a hit that included $314.9 million in pre-tax write-downs mainly due to land options and real estate losses. That compares with income of $173.8 million in last year’s fourth quarter.

Total revenues in the fourth quarter were $1.17 billion, down 35.3 percent compared with $1.81 billion last year.

For the full year, Toll Brothers saw earnings of $35.7 million, a substantial drop from the $687.2 million recorded last year. Revenues for the year were $4.65 billion compared with $6.12 billion last year, a 24 percent drop.

Robert Toll, chairman and CEO of Toll Brothers, reiterated what many home builders have been saying for the past six months:

“Weak consumer confidence continues to buck (home buying) positives,” he said. “Broader concerns about the nation’s economy have magnified worries about potential price declines in the housing market.”

“It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when, this oversupply is absorbed,” he added. “Then we [willl] return to better times.”

Toll Brothers builds homes in 22 states.

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CEO of Wal-Mart Canada will depart

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wal-Mart Canada president and CEO Mario Pilozzi will retire effective Jan. 31, according to the world’s largest retailer.

Pilozzi spent seven years as head of the company’s Canadian division. He will be replaced by David Cheesewright, who currently serves as chief operating officer off Wal-Mart’s United Kingdom operation, ASDA.

Cheesewright joined ASDA in 1999 and over the past eight years held leadership positions in operations, merchandising, logistics, strategy, and format development.

During his tenure as head of Wal-Mart Canada, Pilozzi received numerous awards, including Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year (2007), induction into the Canadian Retail Hall of Fame (2004) and the Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2000), the highest award given by Wal-Mart worldwide. He joined Wal-Mart Canada in 1994 following more than 30 years with Woolworth Canada.

Established in 1994 and headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Wal-Mart

Canada operates a network of 298 outlets across Canada.

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Lowe’s Canada president joins first grand opening

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Don Stallings, president of Lowe’s Canada, and Matt Basso, store manager, were joined by Brampton, Ontario Mayor Susan Fennell during the opening of Lowe’s first location in Canada. HCN was there to cover the retailer’s entrance into the Canadian market.

Two other locations opened that day in Brantford and Hamilton.

Lowe’s may have opened its first Canadian locations Dec 10, but the company’s emergence into the Canadian market has been a long time coming. Two years to be exact. But in a market that’s showing tremendous growth opportunities for American investment, Lowe’s is moving slowly and cautiously.

Don Stallings, president of Lowe’s Canada, said that the key to making Lowe’s successful in Canada is to make the retailer truly Canadian.

He said it would be a mistake to merely take the “U.S. model and drop it off across the border … hire a few Americans to run everything and expect it to do great.”

Stallings said that they were very methodical in researching the Canadian market, the Canadian home and hardware customer and Canadian products and merchants to determine the best fit for Lowe’s Canada.

“We might have brought the culture and the shape of the box, we try to then bring the products that will appeal to the Canadian consumer,” he said.

Stallings said that their research showed that the Canadian consumer is very discerning, they are more contemporary oriented and the projects that they do are larger scale renovation or rebuild projects.

“I think there’s a lot of correlations that are similar, but more importantly, the differences are extremely subtle, but they’re geared toward Canadian,” he said.

The company led into the openings with a series of television ads featuring a customer-oriented home and hardware store with help buttons in every aisle.

“If our lines have more than three customers, we’ll open up another so you don’t have to wait,” the commercial promises.

Lowe’s opened three Ontario locations Dec. 10 in South Brampton, Hamilton and Brantford, with plans to open three more by the end of the year. And while Lowe’s has more than 100 new Canadian locations planned, Stallings said they’re in no rush. “It’s more important for us to be strategic and methodical and not open them before we’re ready.”

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