Canadian Tire opens a digital lab
Toronto — Canadian Tire has opened a digital development lab in Communitech, a start-up incubator that is home to some 100 startups and small businesses along with such “strategics” partner companies as Google Inc. and Intel Corp.
Communitech supports tech companies at all stages of their growth and development in the commercialization of innovative technologies.
Canadian Tire will have five full-time employees on site in Communitech and is working in dedicated space within the facility’s ‘hub’ to improve the shopping experience online and in-store for customers using ‘next in class’ advancements in digital technology.
"Canadian Tire has decided that digital is – and will be – a core strategic differentiator in retail," said Marco Marrone, COO for Canadian Tire, which operates more than 1,700 stores under various banners in Canada. "We have been on a digital journey for several years now — and it is clear that to succeed we need strong capabilities in digital and technology. Our Communitech partnership puts us deep inside the smartest brain trust in Canada and will deliver the ‘next in class’ thinking that we need to lead the retail industry and deliver a better customer experience. We have built an internal team and our app lab will explore and deliver consumer applications that support our digital vision."
Ace Hardware nails it on revenue growth
OAK BROOK, Ill. — Ace Hardware Corp. posted fiscal 2012 revenues of $3.8 billion, up 3.6% from the previous year.
The co-op’s net income of $81.8 million increased 5.3% for the year.
“We are very pleased with our fiscal 2012 results as revenues and net income were both higher than last year and our plan,” said Ray Griffith, Ace CEO, who will be replaced by John Venhuizen as CEO, effective March 31.
In the fourth quarter, the company’s net income of $22.4 million was up 16.7%. Fourth-quarter total revenues were down 1.0%, while fourth-quarter wholesale merchandise revenues to comparable domestic stores declined 0.6%.
Pointing to the two major co-op transactions of recent months, Ray Griffith said Ace is better positioned “for future growth and profitability with the acquisition of Westlake Ace Hardware and the sale of our paint manufacturing assets to Valspar.”
Ace paid about $90 million for Westlake. The co-op sold its paint assets for about $45 million.
Ace added 159 new domestic stores and canceled 127 domestic stores in 2012 — a net gain of 32 stores. The co-op’s total domestic store count at the end of 2012 stood at 4,104.
On the international front, Ace’s business decreased 10.7% in the fourth quarter, due to lower sales to retailers in the Latin America and Asia markets. In the 2011 fourth quarter, international wholesale merchandise sales increased 10.2%.
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Report: Tesco U.S. experiment not so Fresh & Easy
LOS ANGELES — U.K.-based Tesco has lost up to $2 billion in its failed Fresh & Easy California venture, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times — Tesco had placed the troubled grocer on the sales bloc in December following the departure of Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason.
The retailer’s struggles can be traced to labor unions and an ambitious investment into an 850,000-sq.-ft. distribution center that placed pressure on the 200-store chain to expand rapidly, according to the LA Times report.
Tesco has tasked investment bank Greenhill with conducting a strategic review of Fresh & Easy options that should be ready by April, according to reports.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported on a social-media driven campaign to keep Fresh & Easy locations open. However, according to the LA Times, Fresh & Easy recent emailed customers that the grocer doesn’t know "if Tesco will continue to own the company."
Lease holders of Fresh & Easy locations are already looking for an out. Regency Centers Management, which owns, operates and develops primarily grocery-anchored retail centers, has been on the lookout for replacement tenants since January. "Fresh & Easy, we assume they’re gone," Brian Smith, Regency president, chief operating officer and director told analysts during a quarterly conference call. "We’re actively in discussions with people, with replacement tenants for those spaces. Unfortunately, we’ve only got two operating and they’re both in Northern California and they should be — there’s a lot of demand for those spaces."
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