FROM THE IHA SECRETARY GENERAL
IHA to Meet at the Cologne International Hardware Fair
Dear Industry Colleagues:
The Cologne Hardware Fair, to be held March 9-12, 2014, will again be the place where representatives of various IHA member associations meet to hold their annual Council meeting and host several networking events in cooperation with other organizations from around the world.
During their annual Council meeting, members of the Council will review IHA’s current financial health, share association best practices and plan for their 2015 meeting in Paris, during Batimat.
IHA has also joined with other associations to host two networking events, designed to bring industry executives together from around the world.
On Monday, March 10, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., an International Networking Reception will be hosted jointly by IHA, EDRA and NRHA. This event will allow members of these associations to network and share what they have seen at the show with each other. The event will be held at Koelnmesse, North Foyer, Congress-Centre East, 4th Level.
On Tuesday, March 11, from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m., the IHA, EDRA and NRHA will host a Networking Luncheon. During this Luncheon, Mr. John Herbert, Managing Director of EDRA, will give us his views on the State of the Worldwide Home Improvement Market. This event will also be held at the Congress-Centre. Room TBD.
If you are interested in attending either of these events, please contact Bill Lee, IHA Secretary-General, at email@example.com.
For more information about the Cologne International Hardware Fair, go to www.eisenwarenmesse.com.
NEWS FROM THE U.K.
Submitted by the British Independent Retailers Association (bira)
Motts Family to Give Annual Retailer Address
The Motts family from Thorns of Norwich is going to present the annual retailer address at bira’s High Street Conference. The conference is to be held at Four Pillars Hotel, Cotswold Water Park, on May 15.
As the theme of the 2014 High Street Conference is ‘Rich Heritage, Bright Future’, the Motts and Thorns DIY are a great choice. They are expected to give a fascinating insight into the history, present operation and future plans of this successful, family-run retailer.
The business was established in 1835 by a London merchant named Robert Elliot Thorns who came to own many properties within Norwich and noticed there was an opening in the market for an ironmonger. As his sons were not interested in joining the business and chose to answer the call of God as missionaries in Africa instead, Robert was joined by Charles Fisher Ishbill and Thomas Paston Sr. The business has remained with the Paston family right up to the present day and, in 1973, Thomas Paston Jr., was joined by his son-in-law Peter Motts and in 1995 by Peter's daughter Miriam. In 2011 they were joined by Peter's second daughter Emily, the current holder of the British Hardware Federation Young Retailer of the Year award. All three members of the Motts family will be on stage to give the address.
Peter Motts, Thorns’ owner says, “We’re delighted to be making the annual retailer address at this year’s High Street Conference. Thorns is a unique independent DIY store on so many levels and to be given an opportunity to present our shop to other bira members is a huge honor and achievement for us; not only to be recognized by our customers but within the retail industry.”
For more details about other speakers, to keep up to date and book your place at the event visit: www.thehighstreetconference.co.uk.
Martha Closes Award-Winning Cookshop
Multi-award-winning cookshop owner Martha Ferguson has closed her store.
As the end of the rental period approached, Martha decided to shut the doors of Papylon in Winchmore Hill, North London, to pursue a career as a buyer.
Martha, who opened the shop three years ago when she was 26, told Cookshop magazine: “I do believe it is a positive decision in terms of my own career and future. I feel I still have a lot to learn and I miss buying and product development terribly so I want to return to this role and hopefully climb the career ladder a little higher. As of yet I have not secured a job but I am in discussions with a couple of companies. I am focusing on closing the shop for the next two weeks and then will get my head down in terms of job hunting at the beginning of February.”
During the three years in the industry, Martha has won a string of awards, including CHA and bira Young Retailer of the Year in 2013 and Housewares Magazine's Rising Star 2012.
Record Christmas for ProCook
Cookware company, ProCook, has reported record sales over the Christmas period. Over the four weeks to January 5, ProCook saw a 22% lift in total sales and a 17% lift in like-for-like sales.
Its shops and its website both performed well. Retail like-for-like grew 6%, with only three of its 22 stores not achieving positive sales increase. These results come after two store openings and four re-fits in 2013.
Web sales saw a 67% like-for-like increase during the period. This was before the redesigned website went live.
Commenting on the results, managing director Daniel O’Neill says, “We were a little nervous in the lead-up to Christmas, seeing low footfall in stores, but we were confident that things would improve in the post-Christmas period.”
Forest Garden Buys M&M Timber
Forest Garden Group purchased M&M Timber. Both businesses are based in Worcestershire.
Guy Grainger, group chief executive of Forest Garden, says, “The opportunities this brings, not just to M&M but to us collectively, are significant. All of our customer channels will feel the benefit of this acquisition, from a wider product and service offer to new innovations from the timber technology now available to the group.”
Screwfix Expands Beyond the United Kingdom
Screwfix is a Kingfisher division that originally generated all its business in the United Kingdom, but which now is capturing business from nearly two dozen European countries.
The company, despite the limiting name, is far more than a fastener outlet. It sells a wide range of tools and other hardlines products, concentrating on industrial and commercial accounts rather than concentrating on consumers.
The company offers customers visiting its website a range of 16,000 products and power and hand tools are particularly popular. Orders are delivered within five to seven days and free delivery is provided for orders over £100. High volumes of orders are being received from France, Spain and Ireland and from as far away as Finland and Latvia.
Members with sizeable volume going to industrial and commercial accounts will want to check out Screwfix's website for products and pricing.
NEWS FROM SWEDEN
Submitted by the Swedish Building Material and Hardware Association
Resumed Growth in the Industry
Sales increased by 6.3 percent (total) and 5.8 percent (comparable units) in the 4th quarter of 2013. For the full year, 2013 landing sales growth was 1 percent (total) and 0.9 percent (comparable units).
Nordic Construction Market on the Rise
A report from the Swedish Construction Federation shows that the overall Nordic construction market is improving gradually. The picture is fragmented between countries where Norway and Iceland are doing well while Finland has struggled. Numbers from Sweden and Denmark are somewhere in between. The sluggish growth in the world economy has made its mark in the Nordic countries. Thanks to the oil industry, Norway’s GDP fared the best in 2012 (up 2.9%), while Finland was the worst hit, down 0.8%.
New Information Supports the Industry
Boverket (The Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) now offers an information packet about the Construction Products Regulation. Boverket has developed various types of information about the Construction Products Regulation, which is available internally for staff, for external customers and for personal development. The board offers a brochure, a film and a PowerPoint presentation for use in places such as staff meetings and client meetings.
Nordbygg Sustainable Days 2014 Welcomes German Architect Elite
Nordbygg Sustainable Days 2014 is a top-level knowledge sharing arena. Swedish urban developers will come face to face with some of the big names in German architecture and structural engineering.
Sustainable Days is a new feature at Nordbygg 2014, which takes place at Stockholmsmässan on April 1-4, 2014. It’s a conference with an international flavor and a specific theme held during the fair. The 2014 conference will focus on Germany and is being organized in association with the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. www.nordbygg.se
NEWS FROM THE U.S.
Submitted by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA)
Home Improvement Industry on Growth Track Again
NRHA, and its industry trade publication Hardware Retailing, reported in its annual Market Measure issue that the total home improvement industry will grow at an compound annual growth rate of 5.1% during the 2012-2017 time period. Total sales volume for the industry is predicted to hit $324 billion in 2014. These sales include all independent hardware stores, home centers and lumber/building material outlets; including Home Depot and Lowe’s. This contrasts with the compound annual growth rate of -0.5% from 2017-2012. Increasing consumer confidence, a pickup in existing and new home sales and increased remodeling activity will continue to buoy growth.
For more detailed information about the U.S. home improvement industry, go to www.hardwareretailing.com; and visit the digital edition of the December 2013 issue of Hardware Retailing magazine.
NRHA Launches Successfull Management School
Students of the second class of the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program met for the first time in early February to begin work on developing their retail management skills. This new management school is designed to provide owners with a tool to develop the leadership and management skills of key employees. Whether it is for a son or daughter destined to lead their operation; or a new manager needing exposure to key management topics; the program is customized to meet their needs. The program was developed, and is conducted, in cooperation with the Butler University Graduate School of Business; and is a college-level course of study.
National Hardware Show Offers Scholarships to NRHA Students
Ed Several, Senior V.P. of the National Hardware Show, has announced that the show will offer two $5,000 scholarships to two of this year’s NRHA Young Retailers of the Year. The scholarships are to be used to help defray the cost of tuition to the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program. The scholarships will be awarded during the Young Retailer awards ceremony at the show. The scholarships are intended to demonstrate to the industry the commitment of the show to the success of the independent retailer.
The National Hardware Show is the largest hardware fair in the U.S., held in early May each year in Las Vegas. In 2013, more than 4,000 independent retailers attended the show, making it the largest annual gathering of independent retailers in the U.S.
Are You Honoring Your Young Retailers?
One of the North American Retail Hardware Association's most successful and recognized programs is the one which honors individual achievements by retailers 35 years and younger. It has been in operation for eighteen years, and achieves national and local for the association and the honorees.
For the last several years as NRHA has become more involved with the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, the presentations are made during that event, garnering even more publicity. Awards are given to retailers based on their sales volume—under $2 million and over $2 million and for a retailer representing a multiple-store operation.
This may very well be a program other IHA associations will want to develop.
Important Highlights of a Major Industry Conference
In June 2013, DIY chain executives from around the world, but primarily from Europe, met with manufacturers belonging to the Federation of DIY Manufacturers (FEDIYMA) in Rome.
Here are some highlights which you might wish to include in member communications:
With the explosion of Internet information and retailing, consumers now expect well-known brands to show up in some way on social media channels. The most media-savvy customers are aged 26 and under, and retailers need to hire youths like this to help them understand and reach youthful consumers.
Online information is making consumers king. They are asking for more products to be available; they want service and help whenever and wherever they might be. Internet retailing is going to make consumers far more price-conscious, especially of higher-ticket items. For example, a speaker at the conference compared Amazon.com's price for a Bosch cordless screwdriver (£29.99) with that of B&Q's £39.98.
Garden Centers Beat DIY Chains
Snapshot research carried out by Which? Gardening magazine shows that to get great advice on plants, one should go to a garden center and avoid the UK’s largest DIY chains. During April 2013, its secret shoppers visited garden center chains and DIY stores posing as inexperienced gardeners. Homebase and B&Q say that a lot of their plant staff are trained in horticulture, but they gave the poorest advice during the visits. The Garden Centre Group came out top, with staff listening carefully to the problem and giving thorough advice. No information was provided regarding advice given by hardware retailers.
Smartphones are Impacting Email Marketing
The tremendous growth and acceptance of smartphones around the world is having an impact on the effectiveness of retailers' use of email marketing. According to a study of 2.85 million emails in the U. S. by Knotice Ltd., more than half of consumers sort through emails on their mobile devices before reading them on desktop computers. The figures likely are similar in other parts of the world.
What is disturbing is that 70% immediately delete emails that do not render well on mobile devices. It is something to keep in mind when working on one's email marketing program.
Are Our Members Fully Utilizing the Internet?
Earlier this year, we attended INTERNET RETAILER magazine's Conference & Show in Chicago, where we attended numerous seminars about email marketing and web retailing.
We came away with one major conclusion: It was amazing (and distressing) to hear web-only retailers doing so much, often from their homes, garages or basements, when brick-and-mortar retailers have so many more real advantages to offer consumers, such as opportunities to examine and compare different brands and price-points or to gain product knowledge from a retailer's web site or in-store employees.
Too many independent retailers apparently are using their websites only as static advertisements about the store, its hours, maybe a listing of products carried, and not for aggressive sales efforts.
What can be done easily and effectively? You can change product illustrations and descriptions by season, for example. You can also use PayPal as a means of encouraging web payments, as another simple example. Maybe there is a role in which we, as associations, can be more active and effective in helping our members combat these web-only competitors.
Where Youngsters Predominate
According to an article in RETAIL ASIA, two-thirds of the world's youthful population is to be found in Asia, with China and India accounting for 1.2 billion young people. Asian retailers, like retailers everywhere, need to understand the mindset and desires of young customers, which can differ markedly from those of older consumers. One sentiment is that the youth market, though not loyal, can be captured easily because of its penchant for variety. One thing is for sure—reaching the youth market calls for a blend of brick-and-mortar stores and a web presence, or clicks-and-bricks. It is a consideration our members need to bear in mind for future growth.
How are Tool Sales in Your Country?
Tool departments are one of the core departments for our members, but are very sensitive to broad economic conditions, such as housing starts or general construction disruptions. Now the Internet becomes another important factor. In some countries, it is now estimated that 20-25% of tool sales are made via the Internet. Power tools are especially vulnerable to Internet sources.
Employee Theft a Continuing Concern
Retailers everywhere realize that employee theft occurs, to varying degrees, based on a number of factors, such as country attributes, employer-employee relations, even store size. A recent article in England's DIY WEEK reported that 64% of retailers surveyed thought they were suffering from some employee theft. Thirty five percent felt it only a minor problem, but 29% felt it was a major concern.
Associations can do much to help retailers improve theft prevention by educating them as to effective loss prevention techniques.