Big box update

Lithgow store plans

A contractor wins payout, Bunnings beats out Woolworths as "Most Trusted Brand" based on Roy Morgan consumer research and staff retention for staff

The intended location for the Bunnings store in Lithgow (NSW) is still in the process of mining the old Lithgow Valley Colliery coal seam, leaving a substantial hole in the terrain that will need to be filled in before construction starts. So there is no official timeline for when the store is likely to open.

Regional manager for Bunnings, Simon O'Grady, told the Lithgow Mercury the new store will be a $13 million investment in Lithgow spread over 6000sqm, and 25 per cent bigger than the existing western Main Street complex.

The improved layout will incorporate the trade requirements, timber yard, nursery and a wider range of home and lifestyle products.

Mr O'Grady said Bunnings is looking forward to bringing the new store to Lithgow and is eager for construction to get under way.


Lithgow in development - HNN Flash, March 2023


Bunnings recently made a payout to a contractor worker who was seriously injured on the job.

Back in 2018, Sarah Jane was working as a merchandiser for Neutrog at the Seven Hills Bunnings store in Western Sydney. At the time, she severely injured her back when she knelt down to lift and drag forward a bucket of fertiliser to the front of a pallet. Each bucket weighed between 10.8 and 11.2 kilograms.

Ms Jane's case has gone before the NSW Supreme Court, with Bunnings agreeing to a settlement of $750,000 plus legal costs, which are reportedly about $500,000 but are yet to be determined. Neutrog, who Ms Jane was employed through, has been ordered to contribute to the costs.

Bunnings said they "knew or ought to have known" the foreseeable risk when they failed to train Ms Jane to use a pallet jack, which could have prevented her injury. Ms Jane received training through a Bunnings module but was not told pallet jacks were available to help her move stock forward.

These jacks are regularly used by Bunnings' own workers, however, court documents note Bunnings "did not apply the same rigour or adopt the same precautions for the merchandisers, who were nonetheless subject to Bunnings control and oversight".

Ms Jane said she continues to suffer from the back injury and it has affected her ability to parent her kids. She told

It's a win but it doesn't really feel like a win. Not just everything that they've put me through, but just the injury itself, and how much it's changed my life and how much I've missed out on with my kids when they were young.

Staff retention

In its survey of best places to work around the country, The Australian found that "many organisations show enormous innovation, drive, resourcefulness and talent to push forward even as the economic landscape within the nation and in the rest of the world is changing at a fast pace".

According to Bunnings, it has a high retention rate of more than 80 per cent permanent staff, and has more than 2800 team members who have been with the company for 20-plus years. Damian Zahra, Bunnings' chief people officer, told The Australian:

A phrase you'll often hear around Bunnings is 'we live here too', which is in reference to the fact that many of our team live, work and raise families in the roughly 400 communities where we operate.
Many of our team members feel a real sense of pride and connection by working in their own local communities, which we find naturally helps them stay engaged, productive and happy. We're really fortunate to be in this position and we certainly don't take it for granted.
We're also proud of the collective attitude of our support centre team who work hard each day to help set our stores up for success. They all really embrace the diverse and fast-paced nature of the retail industry and enjoy the cross-collaboration between the many different functions that support the business.
Culture and attitude mean everything at Bunnings. For our store teams in particular, we always look for people who love working in a team and providing customers with great service, as we know these attributes help us deliver strong results and make Bunnings a great place to work.
One of our core HR philosophies is ensuring we maintain a multi-generational workforce. Age is not a barrier at Bunnings and we have really strong team cohorts across all age demographics - from young people still in school to mature-aged team members, some even into their 90s.

Caleb Whitaker, a supervisor at Bunnings Maitland said he has worked at more than 10 Bunnings stores across Australia.

Each one of them has a friendly, welcoming and supportive team. The culture that Bunnings has built really stands out and is something customers often appreciate.
I've really valued the flexibility that's come from working at Bunnings. This is my 10th year at the business and during this time I've been able to work after school, during uni and even while I travelled. The business allows you to work around your life schedule, which has been great.
As part of Bunnings' Travelling Team Member program I was able to continue working while touring around Australia with my wife for 14 months - which was honestly one of the best experience of our lives.
We travelled over 40,000km in total, and during that time I worked shifts at eight Bunnings stores across six different states. I don't think many other workplaces could've facilitated something like that - it was amazing.

Top brand

Bunnings has been crowned the most trusted brand in the 12 months to December 2023, based on results from the 2023 Roy Morgan Risk Monitor survey. It has returned to the top spot after three-and-a-half years, dethroning Woolworths.

Bunnings lost its title as Australia's most trusted brand to Woolworths in May 2020. However, since October 2022, Bunnings has shown a strong recovery, achieving the largest improvement in trust among all trusted brands. Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said:

Bunnings is a brand with a vast reservoir of goodwill and reputational strength fed by dramatically more trust than distrust... its trust has been climbing steadily over the past year while its minimal distrust remains fairly stable.

In its research, Roy Morgan found that Australians' distrust in companies has grown in the last year, with reasons including corporate greed, poor customer service, unaffordable prices, dishonesty, unethical practices, and poor privacy practices. Bunnings has managed to buck the trend against an economic environment where trust has eroded. Ms Levine explains:

Bunnings has harnessed many of the foundational pillars of a trusted brand including great customer service, communicating what it stands for and delivering, being an active part of the community, solving customer's problems and expertise and product knowledge.

The Roy Morgan Risk Monitor canvasses about 2000 Australians every month on 1000 brands across 26 industries.

  • Sources: Lithgow Mercury, Australian Financial Review, Yahoo News, Roy Morgan Research and The Australian
  • news

    ABS hardware retail stats to Dec 2023

    East coast states struggle, overall results close to flat

    While 2023 did not deliver the growth seen over the three previous years, revenue declined only slightly Australia-wide. Both South Australia and Western Australia did well, though New South Wales slipped noticeably.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released stats hardware retail turnover through to December 2023.

    Comparing calendar 2023 with calendar 2022, South Australia (SA) once again showed the strongest growth in percentage terms, while Western Australia (WA) showed the biggest gain in actual turnover. SA was up by $57 million to $1766 million, an increase of 3.3%. WA grew by $71 million to $2783, up 2.61%. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was the only other region to show a net gain for the year, up 1.68% and $9 million to $540 million.

    In percentage terms, Northern Territory (NT) was down the most, losing -4.24%, or $11.7 million to $265 million. New South Wales (NSW) lost the most in pure dollar terms, down by $224 million for the year to $7547 million, or -2.9%. Queensland (QLD) was down -2.3% or $123 million to $5274 million, and Tasmania (TAS) lost $4 million or -0.7% for annual turnover of $603 million. Victoria (VIC) managed a nearly flat result at a loss of 0.2% or $12 million, to close the year with $6582 million in turnover.

    For Australia as a whole, total revenue was $25.36 billion for calendar 2023. That was down by $238 million on calendar 2022, a decline of -0.9%.

    To add some perspective on what we can call the end of the COVID-19 era, comparing revenues from 2019 with 2023, SA grew by 50%, ACT by 45%, TAS increased by 43%, NSW and QLD both by 31%, and NT by 17%. VIC had the lowest growth rate, at 16%. Australia overall grew by 30%.

    In dollar terms the top four were NSW, which gained $1796 million, followed by QLD at $1240 million, VIC at $896 million, and WA at $792 million. Australia overall saw revenue from 2019 to 2023 increase by $5.70 billion.

    New South Wales

    December 2023 was not as good as the month for the two prior years in terms of turnover, but remained well above the result for 2020. The first three months of the year saw it equal or exceed 2022, which it did again in September, but overall its performance was down.


    Surprisingly, 2023 was not a bad a year. While it trailed behind 2022 for seven months, it also reached new highs in three months: August, September and October. It did, however, finish on something of a down note, along with several other states, with December showing the lowest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


    For QLD, 2022 was such a good year that it's not surprising that 2023 saw the state lose some of the lustre on its sales results. While 2023 handily outperformed 2021, except for December, it just couldn't reach any new highs.

    South Australia

    In contrast to QLD, SA saw 2023 beat 2022 every single month except December, setting new highs over the other eleven months.

    Western Australia

    WA saw a somewhat similar performance to SA in terms of highs, though 2023 and 2022 were very closely matched. The only month where 2023 for the state lagged 2022 was April. It finished the year by narrowly beating the 2022 sales figure in December 2023.


    Since October 2021, the results across the years for TAS have been virtually welded together. For the state 2023 was just barely under 2022.

    Northern Territory

    The NT is influenced by different economic conditions to the rest of Australia, so it's not surprising to find that its 2023 were well below those for 2022 and 2020, but somewhat matched up to those of 2021. The year began well, with sales exceeding those of 2022 for the first half, but they trailed significantly in the second half.

    Australian Capital Territory

    Leaving aside the volatility of 2021, for much of 2020 as well as 2022 and 2023 there had been a distinct pattern to hardware sales in the ACT. For 2023 new records were set for seven months, though December did finish down on both 2021 and 2022.


    Looking at the above graphs and the graph for Australia overall, one conclusion is that, at least in Australia, the summary of the nation's stats really doesn't reflect the conditions in the nation overall.

    The graph shows that 2023 closely followed 2022, lifting above it for only three months, and going under 2021 for only one month, the conclusion of the year in December.

    Yet while the national graph doesn't show everything that happened in the various states and territories, it does reflect a year that would have been a "wash" on 2022, were it not for inflation. Yet even there, hardware retail was unusual in that 2023 saw the industry under the influence of directly deflationary pricing in areas such as timber.

    The generally agreed forecast is that home building will slow in March 2024, and that the strong building cycle along the major east coast states from August to December will be a little weaker than over the previous three years. Much of that is going to depend on when the multi-unit dwelling builds lift, which is a function of culture as much as anything. But it seems likely that there will be a jump in multi-unit starts by October 2024.

    The one note of warning that HNN would sound is that we do believe many economists are far too certain as regards the inevitability of only interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) through 2024. We see there being a 50% chance that the forecast of flat rates with a chance of a 0.25% cut will be enough to stimulate the real estate market post June 2024. If that happens, it will not be surprising if the RBA steps in with a rate rise.


    Supplier update: Haymes Paint

    Rated "Best in Australia" five years in a row by Canstar

    The paint company has claimed Canstar Blue's "Most Satisfied Customers - House Paint" award for 2022

    The latest award from Canstar Blue is Haymes Paint's fifth in a row, rounding out half a decade of excellence for the largest Australian made and owned paint manufacturer.

    Haymes Paint topped six of its major competitors in the "House Paint" category including British Paints, Dulux, Accent, Wattyl, Berger and Taubmans.

    In addition, it is the only paint manufacturer to score the maximum five stars across the board for overall satisfaction, durability, ease of application, quality of finish, value for money and variety/range. Haymes Paint CEO, Rod Walton, said:

    Australians have spoken, and we could not be more proud to be their most trusted and respected paint manufacturer.
    To win this award for five years in a row is very humbling, and only made possible by the commitment of the entire Haymes Paint team to strive for excellence in all areas of our business.
    Every member of our team loves what they do and lives by our core values of passion, trust and respect and are driven by the motivation to continue deliver quality products to all our customers. It is pleasing to see that passion reflected so positively on our loyal customers and partners.

    Canstar Blue works alongside respected market research companies to ask everyday Australians about their experiences with purchased products and services. The "Most Satisfied Customers" award reflects the views of over 1,600 survey respondents from across the country.

    Canstar Blue group manager, Morgan Montova applauded the team at Haymes, and said:

    This is quite an incredible achievement for the Haymes Paint team. In such a competitive industry, it can certainly be difficult to maintain consistently high customer satisfaction ratings over a long period.

    Mr Walton said:

    To see our products rated so highly by the Australian public for half a decade now is incredibly rewarding. Whether it's our research and development team, our manufacturers in Ballarat, or our customer service specialists across our Haymes Paint Shops, everyone works together to create high-quality products that last.
    To know those products are not just being used - but also enjoyed - by our customers is all we can ask for.

    Haymes Paint has maintained its head office and manufacturing in Ballarat where it all began. This decision has been instrumental in providing employment and growth to the region, and has allowed the business to maintain its local identity.

    It currently has a network of over 58 Haymes Paint Shops and 34 PaintRight stores, and is proud to partner with more than 220 independent paint specialists and hardware stockists nationally.


    Paint On Australia campaign - HNN Flash #81, February 2022

    HNN Flash #76 podcast: Top stories in 2021

    HBT Virtual Conference and Bunnings' Beaumont Tiles acquisition

    The biggest story during 2021, from HNN's perspective, is centred on the power tool industry, and specifically, power tools for trades

    We look back at the coverage of the HBT Virtual Conference at the beginning of this year and the significance of Bunnings' acquisition of Beaumont Tiles.

    But the biggest story for the hardware retail industry is about power tools:

    ...Behind that, there have been three changes in the market for pro tools. One is just that where five or six years ago tradies/pros were very sensitive to the issue of only using one battery platform, today most tradies take it granted that they will be running at least two battery platforms, and sometimes three...
    The second factor is that as demand for construction has increased, tradies are more than ever focused on trying to get as much productivity out of their day as possible...
    The third change is just that power tools are benefitting from "spillover" innovations in two separate areas...

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or listen to it on Apple:

    HNN Flash #76 podcast on Apple

    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a deeper discussion on one or two of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #75 podcast: Metcash-IHG-TTH first half results

    ABS hardware retail sales provide context

    Explaining organic and in-organic results, and the potential strategic difficulties with Metcash's Total Tools acquisition

    The main news story this week, of course, is the Metcash presentation of its half year results.

    We discuss what we believe is one of the key aspects from the presentation that was highlighted by a question from Brian Raymond of JP Morgan regarding co-locating Total Tools stores with Mitre 10 stores. Here is a brief excerpt from our discussion:

    It's a slightly different situation that Mr. Raymond is pointing to directly there because he's referring to a picture that was in the presentation for the results of a kind of dual store site in Merimbula where there is a new Mitre 10 store next to a new Total Tools outlet and in that particular situation you can see that working okay if that if that Mitre 10 store has said, 'That's fine, I'm willing to give up some of my power tool business in exchange for the kind of additional foot traffic that I'll get from being co-located with a Total Tools.' There's another one of those dual stores under development in Wonthaggi in Victoria as well.
    But it's very different if your Total Tools store is three or four kilometres from your Mitre 10 store and is dragging traffic away from you and dragging sales away from you as well.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or listen to it on Apple:

    HNN Flash #75 podcast on Apple

    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a deeper discussion on one or two of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #74 podcast: ABS building approval stats

    What do they mean for hardware retailers?

    A major house market trend has been a shift from multi-unit dwellings, such as apartment buildings, to detached houses in some major markets

    Coming out of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, we have been affected by major changes such as supply chain, vaccination rates and Work-From-Home directives. More specifically, supply chain delays have wreaked havoc for many hardware and building materials retailers. We expand a little on the current supply chain challenges and when we expect them to become more manageable.

    We explain the background work on how HNN's graphs were developed and how they relate to the business of hardware retailing.

    From the data, we have identified that a major house market trend has been a shift from multi-unit dwellings, such as apartment buildings, to detached houses in some major markets. Associated with this trend is a move for many urban dwellers to move to ex-urban or regional areas.

    Then we go into some detail about the main changes we have observed across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in terms of building approvals.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or listen to it on Apple:

    HNN Flash #74 podcast on Apple

    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a deeper discussion on one or two of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    Supplier update

    Macsim secures new warehouse in North Queensland

    NewGen Timber in Mount Gambier (SA) has won a state government grant to help meet the demand for structural timber

    Fastener supplier Macsim has taken on a 1800sqm warehouse in Townsville (QLD), located in the Mount St John industrial estate owned by BM Webb. The building is complete and should be fully operational in early 2022, reports the Townsville Bulletin.

    The new warehouse doubles the company's footprint in regional Queensland. Macsim North Queensland branch manager Ben Doherty said the expansion would enable the company to stock almost all of its 7500 product lines in Townsville, improving delivery across a large part of Queensland. He told the Townsville Bulletin:

    It's about expansion and growth for North Queensland. Having a warehouse this size helps us support our customers more efficiently. We are wanting to increase the business for all of North Queensland so we can better service Cairns, Mt Isa, Mackay, even as far south as Rockhampton and Gladstone and having the stock holdings here instead of drawing it out of Brisbane and Sydney.

    Macsim is in one of three new buildings in the industrial estate. Knight Frank sales and leasing agent Dan Place said industrial was the strongest sector for leasing at the moment with companies like Macsim using Townsville as a distribution hub. He said:

    Anything trade-based is going well.

    Related: Iccons Fasteners established a branch in Townsville to service the growing North Queensland market.

    Supplier update: Iccons Fasteners moves into North Queensland - HNN Flash #57, August 2021

    NewGen Timber

    A South Australian state government grant - over $400,000 - has been awarded to NewGen Timber to develop a recently purchased site in an effort to increase the supply of structural timber, according to The Border Watch.

    NewGen Timber directors Craig Nisbet and Shaun McDonnell took over the H and L Scheidl mill in August 2021 and were successful in obtaining the grant. Mr Nisbet said they were fortunate enough to have a mill which was operating on one shift, which then provided an opportunity to use the equipment and provide a quick boost to the local supply. He told The Border Watch:

    We are now looking at upgrading the yard and the roadworks and providing more lighting which will allow us to operate at night time hours as well. This will allow us to extend our hours of operation and therefore create employment opportunities for people.

    He said alongside employment opportunities, additional operating hours means the mill can increase the timber supply and hopefully decrease the waiting time for building houses.

    Everyone is seeing the timelines for building houses and the strain that is on the timber supply at the moment. We are hoping this upgrade will further help with that.

    Mr Nisbet said with the demand coming from around the world, structural timber within Australia is scarce for those wanting to build a new home or extend on their current one.

    The domains are higher but the supply is actually lower which is a real imbalance in the market at the moment. That is what we are hoping to do, is to help with that balance.

    During a recent visit to the region, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the ongoing demand for structural timber provided a unique opportunity for further development to other mills in the region.

    Mr Basham said the state government was looking into investing funds into different timber mills across the state. He said:

    This will get the mills upgraded and bring more structural timber into the market. We are now having the conversations that need to happen within the industry going forward so we understand their needs. This ensures we make the right investments and it is a commitment that we will make sure those future conversations have the best possible outcome.

    The planned upgrades of the NewGen Timber mill are expected to be complete in April.

  • Sources: Townsville Bulletin and The Border Watch
  • news

    HNN Flash #73 podcast: The future of retail from Roy Morgan

    Forecasts for Christmas and first quarter of calendar 2022

    Roy Morgan identified five potential problems for retailers: inflation, future lockdowns, competition with experience economy, delivery speed impacting ecommerce and pursuit of price as market stimulus

    A discussion of Roy Morgan's webinar, "The Future of Retail: Latest Industry Trends" is the focus of this week's podcast.

    We go through the company's retail forecasts and the challenges that could negatively impact their predictions.

    Specifically, we explain some of the limitations of Roy Morgan's analysis when it comes to inflation and its relationship to retail spending.

    In terms of delivery, another challenge that could face retailers as identified by Roy Morgan, we point out a number of delivery options that have been developed for the hardware-home improvement sector including Wing Aviation, Getter and Rendr. All have been subject of previous stories on the HNN website.

    To finish up the discussion, we also highlight Roy Morgan's perspective on retailers possibly losing revenue if they concentrate on price as the main stimulus for purchase decisions.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or listen to it on Apple:

    HNN Flash #73 podcast on Apple

    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN Flash #73 podcast on Buzzsprout

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a deeper discussion on one or two of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #72 podcast: Rybobi Link storage system and why it matters

    What DIY might mean for younger consumers

    Gen Z - those aged roughly 18 to 24 - and Gen Y Millennials are more about fix, recycle, repair and results when it comes to DIY. Can hardware retailers adapt to their needs that are different to the traditional needs of Gen-X and boomers?

    In this week's podcast, Scott explains why the Ryobi Link storage system should be included in the latest HNN Flash e-newsletter.

    This led to a discussion a new type of DIY customers that was sparked by a recent survey from human resources software company ELMO shows nearly three in four, or 71%, of Generation Z workers would refuse to work for a company they felt was not doing enough to deal with climate change. Sustainability is far more important to consumers aged between 18 to 24 and their approach to DIY is quite different.

    Other companies mentioned include BlueScope Steel, the Cordell Construction Cost Index from CoreLogic, Bunnings and Elders' Australian Independent Rural Retailers group.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a quick overview of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #71 podcast: Bunnings' "Make It Happen" and James Hardie

    Influencer marketing in hardware retail

    Can independent hardware retailers take advantage of a potential gap in Bunnings' marketing to specific demographics?

    In this week's podcast, we take an in-depth at two video series released by Bunnings. The first "Make It Yours" was made in 2019 to encourage younger customers to explore DIY. In 2021 the big box retailer released "Make It Happen" for what looks like a more traditional audience. We look at the different approaches and whether there are opportunities for independent hardware retailers.

    We also highlight James Hardie's consumer led strategy that has increased demand for its products in Australia.

    Other top line stories include Bunnings joining Flybuys and Farmers Warehouse recent launch in McDougalls Hill (NSW). In the UK, B&Q is rolling out more Speedy Hire store concessions after a successful trial that started in late 2020. And Lowe's Home Improvement in the US has released a beta version of a measuring tool that takes out the guess work for flooring, and can be accessed through its app.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics has also released figures for Building Approvals to September 2021.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a quick overview of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #70 podcast: Beaumonts and ACIF forecasts

    A personal anecdote about Bob Beaumont

    Additional insight into the Australian Construction Industry Forum's forecasts for the current financial year and beyond

    In this week's podcast, we have a quick chat about Bob Beaumont and some of the entrepreneurial spirit that he encouraged across his store network as it becomes part of the Bunnings family.

    The Australian Construction Industry Forum has launched its forecast for FY2021/22 and subsequent years. They are predicting at least two years of strong activity, but HNN has some questions as to whether house valuations will go up or go down in the future.

    Other top line stories this week include the latest hardware retail stats from the ABS. Local opposition to a planned Bunnings store in Glynde (SA).

    There is speculation about Wesfarmers' potentially acquiring BGC and DuluxGroup agrees to by Slovenian paint company, JUB.

    TradeMutt workwear is expanding from trades into rural industries.

    Also, Finlaysons has been inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame and the Timber Framing Collective has formed.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a quick overview of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #69 podcast

    A summary of this week's stories

    Want a quick overview of what's new this week? Just listen to the latest HNN Flash podcast.

    In this week's podcast, we talk about the first Tool Kit Depot store opening in Belmont (WA) and upcoming store launches from Sydney Tools and Total Tools. This indicates a lot of activity in the power tool segment at the moment. Also, Nippon Paint's acquisition of a French company through DuluxGroup, as well as long established hardware stores in Blaxland (NSW) and Cloncurry (QLD).

    We also provide additional context to the lead article on post-pandemic recovery for hardware retailers as well as the new battery from DeWalt.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a quick overview of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #68 podcast

    A summary of this week's stories

    Want a quick overview of what's new this week? Just listen to the latest HNN Flash podcast.

    In this week's podcast, we mention a battery collection deal with Bunnings; a shopping development that involves a Mitre 10 store; new products from Briggs & Stratton and Black+Decker, and a partnership between True Value and GE Lighting in the US.

    Plus we explore what is happening on construction sites around Australia as shown by the ABS Building Work Done stats. We also take a look into Wesfarmers Annual Report for FY2021, and what it has to say about how Bunnings may develop over the next year.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HNN Flash #68 Podcast

    HNN's Flash podcast provides a quick overview of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.


    HNN Flash #67 podcast

    A summary of the week's stories

    Want a quick shot of what's new this week? Just listen to the Flash Podcast.

    HNN is launching its new, Flash Podcast. This provides you with a quick overview of the stories we'll be covering each week on the HNN website.

    In this issue: Metcash to get a new CEO, Australian Building Work Done stats show changes in the industry, Bunnings store news and Stanley Black & Decker makes another acquisition.

    You can listen to the podcast on the embedded player:


    Or go to the Buzzsprout website at:

    HI News V.5 No.3: Bunnings moves into trade, online

    POS choice and potential dangers

    Paintorama is a regular look at the major global paint companies: PPG, Sherwin Williams, AkzoNobel and Nippon Paint

    For a number of years now, HNN has been writing about the progression of Bunnings' move into the trade market, and more recently forays into online commerce. This edition explores in-depth the type of strategies that may be underlying these moves beyond DIY. We also present Bunnings' results for FY2018/19.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News Vol.5 No 3: Bunnings moves into trade, online

    Point of sale (POS) systems are vital to all hardware retailers. As this market develops, there is a choice to be made between local servers, and cloud servers providing POS in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. To make a choice you need to consider the reliability of the NBN, and preventing malware such as ransomware.

    Nippon Paint's acquisition of Australia's DuluxGroup is just one change in global paint markets. In our Paint-o-rama feature we look at the global top four – Sherwin-Williams, PPG, AkzoNobel and Nippon Paint, plus DuluxGroup.

    Plus, Metcash's Independent Hardware Group results, Bretts leaves IHG for Natbuild, and homewares comes out as a strong growth category for hardware retailers.

    Other companies featured in this edition include Sydney Tools, Nippon Paint, Beacon Lighting, ITW, Ace Hardware and The Home Depot. There are also new product releases from Klingspor and Boral.


    Hardware retail sales show small gains

    Growth is back, but muted

    While the numbers for April 2018 to March 2019 show only slight growth, they are an improvement on the preceding 12 month period, which showed growth slowing to below the rate of inflation.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its retail sales statistics for March 2019 (8501.0). Sales for hardware, building and garden supplies retailing for the trailing 12 months to March 2019 were $19,429 million, up by 2.69% for the 12 months prior to that period.

    This was still well below the average growth for the preceding five years, which was 5.78%, with a median of 6.48%. However, it was a marked improvement over the numbers for the 12 months to March 2018, which showed growth of just 0.8%, below the inflation rate of 1.9%.

    The state with the highest level of growth for the trailing 12 months was Victoria, which grew by 8.00%, followed by the Australian Capital Territory at 5.04%, and then South Australia at 4.99%. New South Wales grew at 2.26%, slightly below the national growth level.

    Western Australia led declines for the trailing 12 months, losing 9.99%. The only other state to show a decline was Tasmania at 1.58%.

    Looking at the graph for percentage change, we are seeing once again the highly compressed growth results which indicate that national level issues are dominating the market, rather than state issues -- the exception being Western Australia, which continues to adapt to fluctuations in mining activity.

    The graph of the percentage of national sales on a trailing 12 month basis shows that over the past nine years, Victoria has made considerable gains, ending up over 5% higher. New South Wales made gains of less than 1% by comparison, while Queensland drifted down by around 1%. Western Australia lost a little over 1%, and South Australia fell by around 2%. The top three states now account for 78.6% of total hardware retail revenue, up from 73.2% in 2010.


    HNN-cast ep.1: Bunnings builds and Metcash report

    EGO's offering for the Australian market

    Big box disruption, Bunnings annual results and Techtronic Industries presentation

    Hardware News Network (HNN) has launched a podcast! It will complement each edition of its digital magazine, HI News.

    In the first episode of HNN's podcast - we are calling it the HNN-cast - your hosts Betty Tanddo and Scott Lewis discuss Bunnings' latest builds and what they mean for independent hardware retailers.

    They also talk about the 2018 Metcash Annual Report. It is the owner of Australia's Independent Hardware Group, which primarily includes Mitre 10 and Home Timber and Hardware. The group reveals more about its future plans in the hardware retail industry.

    To listen to the podcast, simply go to any of the following options:


    Apple's iTunes store:


    There is an interview with Jason Ellis, national marketing manager for OPE company EGO. Jason offers some insights on how consumers can be converted to cordless outdoor tools. He also tells the HNN-cast hosts about the company's move into the trade and commercial sectors.

    In this podcast, Betty and Scott take another look at the major features in the most recent issue of HI News, including the disruptive strategies of major global retailers The Home Depot, Kingfisher and Bunnings.

    They take a deep dive into the results announced by Bunnings for its 2017/2018 financial year.

    And, finally, they discuss the half-year report presented by Techtronic Industries - maker of Milwaukee and Ryobi cordless tools.

    All that, and more, on episode one of the HNN-cast.


    HI News V.4 No.6: High-heels and Hi-Viz

    Women working in hardware

    Digital merchandising, the smarthome and social trends that influence new kitchens

    The Women in Hardware feature is about what companies in the hardware retail industry have done in terms of gender equality. The data we present shows that while most major companies have made some progress, there is still far to go. As part of this feature, we profile Jacinta Colley, national account manager at Simmonds Lumber.

    In many ways her story is emblematic. It is not just about setbacks, and real difficulties overcome. It's also about a woman who developed a talent for taking advantage of any opportunity, no matter how small, that offered itself.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News Vol.4 No.6: High-hells and Hi-Viz

    In this issue, we write about how bricks-and-mortar retailers can gain in-depth insights to their customers through digital merchandising displays.

    We also explore how "Home Automation" has been replaced by the idea of the "smarthome". At the centre of this new idea is an array of devices that combine decent speakers with great microphones linked into speech processing on the cloud.

    The edition is also about how kitchens are just starting to move away from the wave of white that swept through over the past two years. That is being replaced by three leading trends: black kitchens, technical kitchens (for cooks), and smaller, open kitchens.

    In addition to our regular update on Australian big box stores and independents, international retailers in this issue include Homebase, B&Q, Travis Perkins, Home Depot, Lowe's and Ace Hardware. Suppliers include Methven, Stanley Black & Decker, Sika, Hilti and Imex Lasers.


    HI News V.4 No.5: Bunnings turns to tradies

    The use of data analytics

    Metcash FY2017-18 results and the plumbing category set to make a big impact

    Wesfarmers' recent Strategy Day signified a firm move towards data analytics. In this issue, we explore what this might mean for the large and small retailers in the hardware-home improvement industry.

    At the same time, Bunnings managing director, Michael Schneider, outlined areas of growth for the big-box home improvement retailer. It will utilise data sources such as its PowerPass loyalty card to drive future progress.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V.5 No.5: Bunnings turns to tradies

    In this issue, we also detail the latest results from Metcash, parent company of Independent Hardware Group that includes Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware.

    Plumbing is likely to be a big focus for the rest of 2018. Reece Group has acquired US company MORSCO, and HI News speculates this may have something to do with the company expanding its data analytics capability. There are also rumours about Bunnings' plans to change its plumbing range while plumbing specialist, Samios has developed trade-oriented showrooms to boost its sales. Linkware International has also developed an advanced hang-sell and window box packaging system, which makes it easier for DIYers to self service in-store.

    In our occasional series of profiling people from the industry, we speak to Steve Fatileh, group buying manager for Hardware & Building Traders group. He has done a lot of work to expand the H brand of stores.

    The statistics section features trends in the home improvement and renovation markets, as indicated by Houzz.

    International retailers in this issue include B&Q, Screwfix, Home Depot, Lowe's and Ace Hardware. Suppliers include Stanley Black & Decker, Reliance Worldwide, Reece, Fletcher Building Australia, Knauf and Briggs & Stratton.


    HI News V4 No.4: HBT speaks to its future

    Can buying groups evolve?

    Global paint company review and the failure of Bunnings United Kingdom & Ireland

    Now firmly under new leadership, Hardware & Building Traders (HBT) is navigating a future where corporate-owned Independent Hardware Group (IHG) and big box retailer Bunnings dominate. Newly appointed CEO, Greg Benstead and general manager, Mike LoRicco map out the group's path for the next few years. We provide extensive 90-page coverage of the 2018 conference.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V4 No. 4: HBT speaks to its future

    Buying groups in the hardware retail industry have traditionally pursued the goal of offering volume in exchange for lower prices, but with the success of IHG in the market, they may need to re-think this approach. We explore a different alternative.

    Our regular review of the global paint companies, Paint-O-Rama is in this edition. It features DuluxGroup's latest results along with AkzoNobel, Sherwin Williams and PPG.

    In our other main feature, we also analyse Bunnings' exit from the UK market and what its consequences might be.

    Companies mentioned in our suppliers section include Reece, CSR, Allegion, Saint Gobain and Yates amongst others. Mitre 10 stores are highlighted in the indie store update in this edition.

    Kingfisher, Home Depot and Lowe's dominate our overseas news coverage.


    HI News V4 No. 2: The hardware activist

    Working out the buying groups

    Bunnings H1 FY2017-18 results and Hardware & Building Traders appoints new CEO

    At first sight, Grant Crowle could be viewed as an easy-going tradie on his way to the pub. But underneath that casual exterior is a sharp-minded, intense and ambitious hardware retailer. We regard him as an outlier in many ways, an activist willing to take on council planners and a corporation or two.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V4 No. 2: The hardware activist

    The differences between the major buying groups are quite stark, but what is the economic, market basis for those differences? Using the work of economist Robert Steiner, HI News models what the groups are doing, and suggests where their current directions will eventually lead.

    We take a deep dive into the results for the first half of FY 2017/18 for Wesfarmers/Bunnings, and what the demerger of the conglomerate's Coles operations might mean for the hardware-home improvement retail industry.

    We also introduce our readers to the new CEO at the Hardware & Building Traders group, Greg Benstead.

    In our regular look at statistics relevant to the hardware industry, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its numbers for renovations, based on household spending figures, not approvals.

    This issue also includes stories on Adelaide Brighton, Boral, and James Hardie. We provide performance updates on Home Depot and Ace Hardware, as well as the job cuts at Kingfisher.

    Products from Bosch, Hitachi, Crescent and Lufkin are featured.


    HI News V4 No. 1: Doncaster Blue Bloods

    Bunnings' British business loses $165m

    Metcash H1 FY2017-18 results and Natbuild expands case regarding alleged hack

    Ian Corwell's Mitre 10 store in the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster represents some of the best ways one generation can pass on the business to the next generation. Mr Cornwell seems to have done a very effective job of re-inventing the business for his son, Matt. At Doncaster Mitre 10 hardware retailing is an appealing career choice for savvy, technology-focused millennial.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V4 No. 1: Doncaster Blue Bloods

    We also take a closer look at Bunnings United Kingdom and Ireland's (BUKI) writedown of a projected $165 million in the first half of FY2017-18. At a presentation before investment analysts and mainstream media, Wesfarmers managing director, Rob Scott, announced a review. Anything, including closure, is on the table, according to Mr Scott.

    Grocery, liquor and hardware wholesaler/retailer Metcash Limited released its

    results for its first half FY 2017/18 (May to October) on 4 December 2017. These results include revenue and EBIT from Metcash's acquisition of the Home Timber &

    Hardware Group (HTH). As Metcash has chosen to combine revenues from HTH with those of Mitre 10, it's not possible to provide a true comparative


    The December 2017 retail figures available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that retail sales have declined overall as compared to calendar 2016.

    In other news, UK building materials supplier and retailer Travis Perkins benefits from its tools hire business. Acquisitions are also made by Stanley Black & Decker, Energizer and Briggs & Stratton.

    The Honda Power Equipment and Victa brands are featured in this edition. There are also brand new products such as the Guardian water leak prevention system and the patent pending ZZem Screw.


    HI News V3 No. 13: Kitchen markets 2018

    Bunnings FY2017-18 Q1 results

    Dulux results FY2016-17 results shows that the company's profit has surged 7.21%

    Kitchens dominate the last issue for 2017. White kitchens had a major influence on the market this year but the trend will likely fade by the end of 2018. The new kitchen is more modest, less "kitchen-y", and closely integrates with the surrounding rooms. As part of our extensive analysis of this sector, we take a look at the types of surfaces that make kitchen benchtops.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 13: Kitchen markets 2018

    We also report on the largest corporate players in the Australian home improvement industry: DuluxGroup (Dulux) and Bunnings.

    Bunnings in Australia continues to grow strongly and Bunnings in the UK

    and Ireland is working hard to improve in 2018. Dulux experienced good

    growth in its core paints business but the company faces challenges in the medium term.

    Metcash's hardware entities, along with individual respondents, have filed defence statements in the pending court case brought by National Building Suppliers, alleging a data breach. We explore some of the general issues involved, and provide examples of the defence document contents.

    In the statistics section, we present two views of the housing downturn: the building industry sees this as a medium-term downturn, and the real estate/home

    owner market sees it as more short term. Factoring in RBA intervention, HNN

    agrees with the building industry

    In other news, Kingfisher posts its third quarter results along with US-based home improvement retailers, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's and True Value.

    Suppliers featured in this edition include Brighton Best, Hillman, James Hardie, Stanley Black & Decker, and Big River Group.


    HI News V3 No. 12: Amazon is coming to town

    HBT Business Solutions conference

    Oldfields is launching a new product line that is set to take on the top premium paintbrush category

    A large part of the current edition is about the retailer that has been taking up a lot of headlines recently: Amazon. We go through some of the background and research needed to understand what effect this new market entrant will have on Australian retail.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 12: Amazon is coming to town

    In terms of local news, we report on the Hardware & Building Traders (HBT) state conference. It continues to confirm its credentials as a buying group that helps retailers be truly independent.

    We also report on Oldfields product launch in Melbourne and look at its latest results.

    Bunnings continues its rollout of bricks-and-mortar stores both in Australia and the UK, with more in the development planning phase. Other retailers to open stores include Tradelink and Langs Building Supplies.

    Suppliers have been active with Assa Abloy's purchase of smart lock maker, August and Portwest's acquisition of another Australian workwear company.

    In the US, Ace Hardware has acquired a majority stake in e-commerce startup The Grommet, bringing two entrepreneurial companies together. Lowe's has also launched two augmented reality apps and will offer Craftsman tools in-store.

    In addition to Oldfields' new paintbrushes, HIlti has a new set of smart tools, Knipex releases new gripping pliers and Kohler's Exhale showerhead is inspired by the dahlia flower.


    HI News V3 No. 11: Murphy's Mitre 10 Monbulk

    Profiling Romak Hardware

    Natbuild has brought an action against Metcash subsidiaries Mitre 10, HTH and Danks in Federal Court

    An in-depth story on the Murphy's Mitre 10 store in Monbulk (VIC) and the woman who runs it, Julie Murphy dominates the pages of the latest edition of HI News. We also analyse the potential ramifications of Natbuild's accusations that Mitre 10 allegedly breached its data.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 11: Murphy's Mitre 10 Monbulk

    In other Australian industry news, we write about long standing supplier Romak Hardware and its role in helping to establish Hardware & Building Traders as a buying group.

    Bunnings is also facing opposition to its planned store in Kingaroy (QLD) and Tasmanian hardware retailer Kemp & Denning explains its change in strategy to its shareholders.

    On the international front, we cover Kyocera's planned acquisition of Ryobi power tools and the issues currently facing plumbing specialist, Reliance Worldwide as it stocks its products in both major US big box retailers, Lowe's Home Improvement and Home Depot.

    Still in the USA, Home Depot has teamed up with Google so that it can start selling its products online through voice commands and Lowe's launches its latest social media campaign on Instagram Stories.

    Over in Europe, we include stories and about Kingfisher's latest results and Bunnings United Kingdom & Ireland transitioning the Homebase website.

    Black & Decker's GoPak battery, Cabot's latest deck coating system, the Festool Hybrid Sander and the cordless pruning saw and chainsaw from Worx all feature in the products section.


    Indie store update

    Rose Bay Hardware closing down

    Kemp & Denning holds AGM and explains strategy change and future outlook

    The owners of Rose Bay Hardware will permanently close the store after being in business for 35 years; and the chairman of Tasmanian retailer Kemp & Denning has told shareholders "the bleeding has effectively stopped".

    Locals farewell Rose Bay Hardware

    After 35 years of serving tradies and DIYers in Sydney's eastern suburbs, the Rose Bay Hardware store is closing its doors. Owner Paul Shillan told the Wentworth Courier:

    I haven't had a holiday in 25 years. We were the first shop in Rose Bay to open seven days a week ... for 11 years I worked every day.

    Not surprisingly, Mr Shillan and his wife Gloria are looking forward to a holiday after working hard for so long. He said they had loved working at the shop because of the customers.

    I've seen three generations of customers going through. It's quite bizarre when you look back like that, it makes it real that you've been there that long. I look in the mirror and still see a bloke in shorts that feel 21 - although nobody else does.

    Mr Shillan said there had been many challenges along the way, including the floods in 1984 when his shop was washed into the harbour, as well as a global financial crisis and a couple of recessions. He said:

    You just stick your head down and work through it. It's just the way of life I guess.

    The Shillans decided to close their store when its building was sold and the lease was up. Mr Shillan said:

    It was time to move on. There was no point battling any further. People these days, they're not as handy as I grew up being three generations ago.
    People are more likely to pick up the phone and call somebody to change the light bulbs, mow the lawn or their landscaping whereas 35 years ago everybody, well most people, did it themselves.

    Strategic change and "improved outlook", says K&D

    Shareholders at the recent annual general meeting of Tasmanian hardware retailer Kemp and Denning Limited (K&D) have been told that the company's outlook is "greatly improved". Chairman Greg Goodman said the company expects to break even this financial year after a $9.8 million loss in 2016-17. According to The Mercury, he said:

    We have now closed this very difficult chapter in our history and I am delighted to report the bleeding has effectively stopped...Your directors believe the potential for shareholders is greatly improved as a result of our efforts to quickly close loss-making operations and sell our trade business.

    In an announcement likely to increase speculation about the future of its Melville Street store in Hobart, Mr Goodman said there had been a revaluation of the K&D's property assets by several registered local valuers. Mr Goodman said:

    While the variations have not yet been adopted by the Board, it is pleasing to note that there is additional equity in our property holdings.

    The site was valued at nearly $18 million in the latest annual report and is believed to be of interest to commercial rivals.

    Mr Goodman has said in the report that the company "has a clear strategy to get more value out of its real estate holdings".

    With the well-established positioning of our CBD sites (103 Melville Street) K&D is poised to meet the challenges ahead. To maximise our impact we will increasingly look for opportunities to maximise the benefit of these properties.

    Bunnings forced strategy change

    K&D also dropped its 2016 strategy of focusing on supplying the building trade and closed stores because it feared a price war with Bunnings and Clennett's Mitre 10. Shareholders were told the company faced a potentially devastating cash flow squeeze from the expansion of Bunnings.

    In 2016 then-chairman Ray Brown told shareholders that the sheer weight of increased competition in the retail landscape had prompted the board to transform the business model so that it was predominantly trade focused.

    Mr Hutton, who replaced former CEO Nick Fazzolari in March, was asked why that strategy had been abandoned. He responded:

    The market changed quickly and consequently we believed the Tasmanian trade market was not big enough for three players [Bunnings, Mitre 10 and K&D].
    Profitability in the trade area is largely dependent on scale and we thought it was too risky to engage in a price war that we couldn't fund. If we lost significant market share there was chance that asset values would fall.

    The also meeting heard that the early termination of a lease at the Cambridge store cost the company $500,000 with redundancy costs of $530,000 while early termination of a lease at Devonport cost $2.5 million. Tenders for K&D's Kingston site, valued about $3 million, closed recently.


    Indie store update: K&D store closures - HNN HI News 3.7: K&D trade sold to

    Clennett's Mitre 10, page 13


    HI News V3 No. 10: Bunnings Australia grows

    TTI reports Milwaukee products are 20% up

    GWA Group in transition period and impact of the RBA stimulus seems to be at an end

    Home improvement corporates dominate the latest issue of HI News: Bunnings, Techtronic Industries and GWA Group. We analyse their latest financial results and strategies.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 10: Bunnings Australia grows

    Tasmanian hardware retailer, Kemp and Denning posts a major loss in FY2016-17 and Home Hardware store owner Craig Stibbard continues his vocal protest against changes to retail trading hours in Queensland.

    In terms of supplier news, fastener brand Senco has been bought by Kyocera and Mr Fothergill's buys a UK tool business. Closer to home, Adelaide Brighton said it will raise prices on pre-mix cement again.

    Our regular section on statistics takes a closer look at the end of the effects of historically low interest rates on housing. We also launch the People section which features Paul Hoye, managing director of Kilingspor Australia.

    European home improvement group, Kingfisher has taken over the Praktiker stores in Romania. In the UK, Travis Perkins has raised prices to help offset rising costs.

    US-based big box retailers Home Depot and Lowe's compete directly for pro customers. Ace Hardware and True Value also report on their second quarter results.

    Backpacks and other soft-side storage products are taking over the traditional metal toolbox. Other products in this issue include Boral Timber's newest flooring and Cub Cadet's brushcutter.


    HI News V3 No. 9: Yarra Junction H Hardware

    Laser level makers starting to target consumers

    Beaumont Tiles goes upmarket and Stanley Black & Decker delivers 2017 H1 results

    Yarra Junction H Hardware has a starring role in the latest edition of HI News. It is a store run by smart, savvy and enterprising independent retailers.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 9: Yarra Junction H Hardware

    In other retailer news, Beaumont Tiles has launched two exclusive collections of Italian design and manufactured tiles.

    Stanley Black & Decker reports its first half 2017 results that are focused on the sales of its FLEXvolt power tools. Hitachi Koki is also preparing for a buying spree with the help of US buyout firm and new majority owner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

    We take a look back on the last financial year of hardware retail statistics. In Europe, Bunnings UK & Ireland posts another loss as it opens more stores and Kingfisher's B&Q experiences a sales slump.

    US-based hardware retail co-op True Value may be up for sale and its rivals, Ace Hardware and Do It Best have expressed their interest in buying it.

    Back in Australia, renovations are taking on an increasing number of environmentally friendly features.

    Lasers levels are moving beyond the traditional tradie market and into the DIY consumer market. Other products in this issue include Milwaukee's Packout modular tool storage system and Makita's new plunge cut saw.


    HI News V3 No. 8: Metcash reports

    Tool report on trim routers

    Gerard Lighting gets additional investment and Bunnings expands UK pilot store program

    The current issue of HI News is primarily about listed wholesaler and retailer, Metcash and its Independent Hardware Group (IHG) subsidiary.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 8: Metcash reports

    In addition to reporting its annual FY2016-17 results, Metcash confirmed to Fairfax Media that it rejected an offer from Reece to buy its Hardings Hardware group of stores.

    Statistics in this edition takes a look at how "complementary" the Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware store networks are within IHG.

    There are more developments in Bunnings' UK business than in Australia as it doubles its pilot stores in the British market.

    The Home Depot is acquiring rental company, Compact Power Equipment and Home Hardware in Canada is repositioning the brand through a new ad campaign.

    The main product category we explore in this issue are trim routers. Other products featured include the Fiskars weed puller, Stihl's backpack battery, Cub Cadet's Z-Force mower, the newest multi-tool from Fein Power Tools, Swann's latest security system and the Worx Ai drill.


    HI News V3 No. 7: Bunnings Strategy Day

    DuluxGroup first half 2016/17 results

    Clennett's Mitre 10 now owns K&D's trade business and Bunnings builds close to indies

    The latest edition of HI News focuses on the major corporates in Australian hardware/home improvement retailing: Bunnings and DuluxGroup.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 7: Bunnings Strategy Day

    In terms of independent retailers, Tasmania-based Kemp & Denning (K&D) has sold its trade business to Clennett's Mitre 10 and Newcastle's Toolies store is closing down.

    Our regular section on statistics takes a look at the entries and exits of Australian businesses to see how hardware retailers and general retail is faring.

    Klein Tools has acquired General Machine Products and in other US news, Sears is suing another tool maker.

    Also, US home improvement retailer Lowe's outsources some of its tech jobs to India while experimenting with exoskeleton suits for store staff; Ace Hardware wins again on customer satisfaction; and True Value delivers its first quarter results.

    In the UK, Bunnings opens its third store, names more locations and appoints a COO.

    Product news in this issue includes the launch of graphene paint in the UK; a roofing tool that has been developed in WA; and the Everdure range of BBQs winning a prestigious Australian design award.

    Other products featured are the Worx BladeRunner X2 portable benchtop saw and Loctite RE-NEW adhesive.


    HI News V3 No. 6: New HBT team steps up

    Bathroom category ripe for disruption

    Glynde in South Australia says "no" to Bunnings but its website is the most visited local site

    This issue of HI News is mainly about Hardware & Building Traders (HBT) and its 20th anniversary gathering, held recently in Sydney. It is indirectly dedicated to Tim Starkey, its leader for many of those 20 years, and whose loss is still deeply felt.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 6: New HBT team steps up

    We also take a look at the bathroom category and its emerging trends: ageing in place, polarisation in the market and "design dissonance".

    Bunnings is placing more of its stores on the market, both here and in New Zealand. Its website is the most visited Australian site.

    Building material companies, CSR, Adelaide Brighton and James Hardie report on their quarterly results.

    In other news, latest data seems to indicate that an increasing number of shoppers are using Amazon to buy home improvement products.

    On the international retail front, Lowe's is seriously getting into the maintenance and repair market, and Home Depot is building brick-and-mortar stores again at a slower rate. Ace Hardware delivers a solid first quarter result despite a slight dip in same-store sales.

    European big box retailer, Kingfisher has see also seen its like-for-like sales slow down in its first quarter.

    Innovative products from the HBT show are included in this issue along with Fiskars PowerGear[tm] garden tool range and the on-trend Reflekta round mirror.


    HI News V3 No. 5: Sleeping tool giants wake up

    Kitchen market report

    Porters takes on Woodman's Mitre 10 stores and Husqvarna bets on consumers renting garden equipment

    The latest edition of HI News takes a closer look at the innovation cycles at Stanley Black & Decker (SBD), and the power tools division of Bosch.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 5: Which power tool company gets to own 2020

    As impressive as SBD has been with its recent product developments, it is really Bosch Power Tools that has begun to show it can take advantage of the very big potential the company has, both with its stand-alone expertise and history, and through its association with the larger Bosch company, and its ongoing research into sensors.

    This issue also includes our regular, in-depth look at the kitchen category. Freedom Kitchens is launching a flatpack range, IKEA has stopped advertising, while Kaboodle has refined its digital marketing approach.

    For the first time, we have put together a guide to the HBT Conference that started on May 10.

    In terms of retailer news, Mackay-based independent hardware business, Porters has acquired four Woodman's Mitre 10 stores in Queensland. Managing director Gavan Porter Snr said the company purchased the stores located in Sarina, Marian, Proserpine and Cannonvale (QLD).

    Big box retailer Bunnings United Kingdom & Ireland has revealed its fifth store location and B&Q has finally found success in China through e-commerce.

    Outdoor power equipment maker, Husqvarna has begun a pilot project in Stockholm, Sweden, for homeowners to access pay-per-use power tools for the garden.

    Featured products in this edition include sustainable wallboard from USG Boral, Krylon's new spray paint for outdoor decor, and Kwikset's Z-wave enable locks, to name a few.


    HI News V3 No. 4: Inverell H Hardware re-brand

    TTI presents its 2016 results

    Kingfisher's annual financial results and quarterly updates from Home Depot and Lowe's

    This edition of HI News focuses on a major store in the Hardware & Building Traders (HBT) network that undergoes a re-brand to become an H Hardware store. We travel to the bucolic regional town of Inverell (NSW) to see how it came about.

    Simply click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 4: Inverell H Hardware re-brand

    On the global stage, we take a deep dive into the 2016 results of Techtronic Industries (TTI) and provide a transcript of CEO Joe Galli's presentation to analysts and investors.

    We also look at the latest reports from international home improvement retailers, Kingfisher in the UK and US-based Home Depot and Lowe's. Kingfisher's results will be in two parts.

    Local big box retailer, Bunnings continues its expansion both in Australia and the UK.

    Other news stories include Adelaide-based online business, Monsta selling paint direct to consumers; Briggs & Stratton's exclusive distribution of Billy Goat products in Australia; Tasmania's independent retailer K&D losing its CEO; and Ikea's foray into smart lighting.

    A Melbourne-made bin caddy is just one of the products featured in this issue, along with the Mirka dust-free sanding system which is new to the Australian market.


    HI News V3 No. 1: The retail industry in 2017

    Bunnings opens first UK store

    Hardware retail sales are examined through seasonally adjusted and trend estimate statistics

    The first issue of HI News for 2017 focuses on what can be expected in 2017 from major retail groups, Mitre 10, Home Timber & Hardware (HTH) Group, Hardware Building Traders (HBT), and Bunnings.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V3 No. 1: The retail industry in 2017

    The latest data on hardware retail sales from the Australian Bureau of Statistics undergoes scrutiny. Although most mainstream media outlets have seen the closure of Masters Home Improvement as casting a shadow over hardware sales in December, it's likely the weather also had an effect.

    Bunnings opens its first UK trial store in St Albans. In Australia, the big box retailer is moving into Devonport (TAS). It is taking over an ex-Masters site in Mount Gambier (SA) and undergoing negotiations for another former Masters location in Gregory Hills (NSW).

    Tasmania-based independent retail group, Kemp & Denning announced that it is closing two of its warehouse stores.

    We take a brief look at GUD Group's half yearly results, and AMES' purchase of the Hills Home Living brands that includes the iconic Hills Hoist. In other supplier developments, the Hitachi power tools unit has been sold to private equity and Stanley Black & Decker acquires Craftsman in the US.

    This edition features updates on the Grafton Group, Screwfix and Travis Perkins in the UK, and as well as US retailers, The Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement.

    Products from EGO outdoor equipment, Fiskars, Lufkin, Rover lawnmowers and Kwikset are also highlighted in this issue.


    HI News V2 No. 19: Next Gen DIY

    Tool company reports

    New independent hardware brand and Bunnings CEO John Gillam is stepping down

    The final edition of HI News for the year is mainly about the next generation of DIYers. As baby-boomers age out of DIY, home improvement retailers and suppliers need to revise the kinds of products they sell to younger generations.

    Technology remains very important for the millennial demographic when it comes to their homes.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V2 No. 19: Next Gen DIY

    Also in this issue, we analyse the strategies that may have led to the demise of Masters and look back at some of its merchandising highlights.

    We take a further look at Metcash-Mitre 10 results and reveal its independent hardware brand. Other company results include tool companies, Stanley Black & Decker, Hitachi Koki and Makita. US home improvement retailer also reports disappointing third quarter results.

    The biggest news in the big box retail sector is the surprise resignation of Bunnings CEO John Gillam. We note some of the major achievements during his storied career at Wesfarmers.

    In statistics, we discover another set of data on renovations that may be helpful.

    Products featured in this issue include the latest range from Briggs & Stratton; a charging surface from Corian; the Danco toilet seal; and a Kickstarter-funded shovel.

    As the last issue for the 2016 and to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season, we take the opportunity to thank our readers, advertisers and supporters.


    HI News V2 No. 17: Kitchen report

    Personal tribute to Tim Starkey

    Bunnings Q1 2016-17 FY sales results and DuluxGroup full year 2015-16 results

    The latest issue of HI News is about a lot of things. On the business side, we take a second look at the kitchen category this calendar year and highlight some of the marketing strategies from the industry's top retailers and suppliers.

    There is also some analysis of Bunnings first quarter sales performance and DuluxGroup's full year results.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V2 No. 17: Kitchen report

    On a more personal note, there is a brief tribute to Tim Starkey, long-time group manager of Hardware & Building Traders (HBT), and a friend to HNN (Hardware News Network), publisher of HI News and Industrial & Tools News.

    Other major stories include the role of home brands in the hardware industry and our visit to the HBT state conference in Melbourne. In addition, we closely examine the ACCC's (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) recent judgement against Dulux.

    The most recent hardware retail data is featured in our Statistics section. In our regular update on big boxes, we draw attention to some of the main points in the presentation by Bunnings UK managing director, PJ Davis to members of the British Home Enhancement Trade Association.

    In terms of suppliers, Hitachi is preparing to unload its power tools and semiconductor fabrication equipment businesses and sources indicate that Stanley Black & Decker is seeking buyers for its locks division.

    New products include Makita's 18V LXT(r) Sub-Compact Brushless range; Caterpillar's entry into the outdoor power market; and Leatherman emergency tools.


    HI News V2 No. 16: Lowe's and Woolworths battle

    Makita's global strategy

    Trio Australia launched the Patriot lock and Boral lifts its EBIT result for FY2016

    This issue of HI News features the inside story of what went on between Woolies and Lowe's at Hydrox.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V2 No. 16: Lowe's and Woolworths battle

    Makita's "slow and steady" pace belies its high-risk, highly strategic global strategy. We take a closer look at the details.

    Other features in this issue include a review of Trio's Patriot lock and Bunnings' social website for DIY enthusiasts called Workshop. There are also results from Boral, GWA Group, Fletcher Building and home improvement retailer Kingfisher.

    In our regular section on Statisitics, we provide an update on the latest ratings for "The Block" before it goes into the finale auction episodes.

    We also highlight the new executive team at Mitre 10.

    There has been a lot of activity with suppliers with Hills Industries and Woolworths ending their deal early and Stanley Black & Decker taking on Newell's tools business. SawStop is also suing Robert Bosch in the USA.

    New products in this edition include Uniden's updated DIY wireless surveillance system, Hitachi's Triple Hammer tool, Toro's latest zero-turn mowers, brushless power tools from Porter-Cable and DeWalt's outdoor bower.


    HI News V2 No. 15: The geography of competition

    Mixed results for Techtronic Industries

    Makita's first quarter results and retail hardware statistics show national influence

    This issue of HI News features the mapping of hardware retailers around Australia and what it means in terms of competitive strategy in the industry.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V2 No. 15: The new geography of competition

    In its first half results for 2016-17, Techtronic Industries reports good growth in its power tool segment, but contraction in its floor care segment. Makita's first quarter results shows a differentiated approach from the other "big five" power tool brands.

    We also take a look at the latest available hardware retail statistics from July 2016 and see some significant macro influences emerging.

    James Aylen, general manager of Home & Timber Hardware Group announces his departure in our indie store update. In addition, we provide an overview of big box retailers including Bunnings informing consumer affairs authorities that it will not be matching prices from the Masters inventory sale.

    Looking at the European and US markets, we include stories on how Bunnings is evolving the Homebase stores in the UK and Ace Hardware president and CEO John Venhuizen discussing the relevance of local neighbourhood stores.

    In supplier news, China-based Chervon buys the SKIL business from Bosch and we explore the impact of the Masters closing down sale on Dulux and Hills Industries.

    New products in this edition include the Blossom smart irrigation system, tiles that produce a 3-D look, Makita's fast charging battery and high performance MDF panels from Gunnersen.


    HI News V2 No. 13: Taking back DIY

    Will IoT make tool leasing possible?

    Advertising on social media for retailers and Bosch Power Tools 2015 results

    The latest issue of HI News is focused on how independents can regain some of the DIY market away from other retailers.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V2 No. 13: Taking back DIY

    We also pose the question as to whether the future of home improvement retailing will involve offering power tools as a service through leasing.

    The main social media channels - Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter - are analysed to see which platforms would work best for advertising for hardware retailers. We also describe the specific steps that can be taken to put together a simple and cost effective social media campaign. It could be better than using paper-based promotional flyers.

    Bosch Power Tools delivers its 2015 results and emphasised its cordless outdoor power equipment range.

    Our quarterly feature, Paintorama explores the latest results of major paint companies including PPG, Sherwin-Williams and AkzoNobel.

    There is the usual updates on big boxes, indie stores, suppliers and a round up of home improvement news from the US and Asia.

    New products include a fencing stapler. Lufkin measuring tapes, a digital level, natural pest control and Milwaukee's pre-release outdoor power equipment tools.


    HI News V2 No. 11: Bathroom strategy

    Challenges for Bunnings in Australia

    ACCC drafts an undertaking for Metcash and economic forecasting following the federal election

    Another bumper issue of HI News, full of news, analysis and the impact of economics on the world of home improvement.

    Just click on the following link to download this edition:

    HI News V2 No. 11: Bathroom strategy

    In this issue, we take a deep dive into the bathroom category and take a look at market shares, strategies, trends and product development.

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission may allow the Mitre 10 and Hardware Timber & Hardware (HTH) merger to go ahead if Mitre 10 agrees to a number of undertakings. We take a look at what this means for the independent sector and suppliers.

    This edition also includes a story about the challenges ahead for Bunnings Australia as the company rolls out its strategy in the United Kingdom. There is also an extensive feature on the economic outlook in Australia and its potential impact on the home improvement industry.

    Regular updates on big boxes, indie stores, retailers, suppliers, European and US markets are part of this edition. Specific stories include Bunnings' new stores; its direct competition with supermarket maverick Aldi; speculation about Steinhoff International buying Masters sites and possibly Big W; and Woolworths extending discounts for HTH members.

    HTH has also launched a competition to find Australia's most passionate tradie. Other local stories include The Good Guys potentially being pursued by an Indian retail group.

    On the international front, Bosch is developing digital "experience zones" throughout Europe; Kohler has a content strategy; and Valspar votes on the Sherwin-Williams acquisition.

    The Home Depot is re-thinking its approach to inventory; Sears is exploring brand extensions and Ace Hardware competes with big box retailers in five ways. In the UK, there are highlights of B&Q's new concept store, Homebase stores are being saved from closure and Dobbies Garden Centres have a new owner.

    Back in Australia, Telstra unveils its smart home system and the popularity of "she-sheds" continues to grow.

    New products in this issue include Methven's Aurajet shower; a roller frame from Dynamic Paintware; the Switchmate light switch and Rockler's BBQ kit.


    Industrial & Tools News Vol. 2 No. 7

    Latest tools released for North American summer

    It's reporting season and both CSR and Hitachi Koki report their 2015-16 FY results

    The ITN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    Industrial & Tools News - Volume 2, issue number 7

    Some stories have already appeared in ITN's sister publication, HI News 2.9.

    In this issue of ITN, power tool brands Milwaukee, DeWalt and Lowe's Kobalt range have released their latest products in time for the North American summer. Some of the tools will eventually find their way to the Australian market.

    Building products company CSR has returned strong results for its 2015/16 financial year. New product categories will enable it to take advantage of growth in multi-unit construction.

    Japan-based Hitachi Koki experienced a slight bump in sales in its 2015-16 FY results. However its expanding operating costs bring profits down.

    Boral chief executive Mike Kane speaks on housing and announces a change to the company structure. Other supplier news includes STIHL's investment in Chinese power tool company Globe Tools; Saint-Gobain's new logo and H.B. Fuller's acquisition of Cyberbond.

    New updates for big box stores include the development of the Bunnings Kingsgrove store in NSW and July 4 is the deadline for binding offers for Woolworths' home improvement business. There is also speculation that some major Hardware Timber & Hardware stores are banding together to create a separate buying group.

    The Housing Industry Association, Blackwoods and Kubota are featured in the news section and there are products from Welding Industries of Australia, Miller Electric, Hilti, Troy-Bilt and Apex Tools, among others.


    HI News Vol. 2 No. 8

    HBT 2016 National Conference

    Makita launched its MT Series and Stanley Black & Decker teases about new innovation

    The HNN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    HI News - Volume 2, issue number 8

    The HBT National Conference in Townsville (Queensland) was memorable for many reasons. The warm tropical climate always helps, especially for attendees from colder climates in Victoria and Tasmania. This time, HBT as a group, seemed to come of age with some of its new initiatives and steps toward a more digital approach. All the ideas presented at the conference are options for members, not dictates from head office.

    We report on Stanley Black & Decker's first quarter results and speculate about the innovation it is set to release later this year. This edition also has the latest renovation, retail and housing statistics with a focus on Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

    There are updates on big boxes, independent stores and suppliers. We include stories on Airco Fasteners acquiring Otter Group and local, online tradies marketplace Oneflare gaining a $15 million investment from Fairfax Media.

    New products are featured from HPM Legrand, Mr Fothergill's, Fiskars and Smartstone. Job opportunities at Yates, Valspar and Haymes Paint are profiled in this issue.


    HI News Vol. 2 No. 6

    Home automation opportunities

    Ryobi's smart garage door opener and UK retai results from Kingfisher and Travis-Perkins

    The HNN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    Home automation is the central theme of the current issue of HI News and includes a closer look at Ryobi's Ultra-Quiet Garage Door Opener. Other articles explore the ways home automation could change a large number of categories in home improvement, and the current three big industry players: Apple. Google and Amazon.

    This edition also has a number of results presentations from home improvement giant, Kingfisher, builders merchant Travis Perkins and US retail co-op True Value. There are also financial and product overviews of tool companies, Hitachi-Koki and Makita.

    The latest big box update features Bunnings' rollout of new stores, the mainstream commentary about its smaller format stores and the lead up to its European summer debut through Homebase. There is a summary on the Masters property portfolio and the deadline for parties making bids for the business.

    In the independent sector, Stewart's Hardware has opened in Nowra (NSW) and Home Timber & Hardware wins a customer satisfaction award.

    There are also new products from garden tool supplier, Ames; window furnishings company, Luxaflex; and lawn mower specialists, Rover and Gravely.

    Companies highlighted in the job update include Home Timber & Hardware Group, DuluxGroup and AEG Power Tools.


    HI News Vol. 2 No. 5

    Ongoing growth for TTI Industries

    Sherwin-Williams acquires Valspar and HTH Group holds its annual conference

    The HNN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    The latest issue centres on the latest results from TTI Industries and how the company with its major brands Milwaukee Tools, Ryobi and AEG will explore a digital future. It discusses other categories such as hand tools, lighting and floor care that the company is involved in. There is also a transcript of the presentation delivered by CEO Joseph (Joe) Galli.

    In the "Paintorama" section, we take a look at the most recent results from paint companies Valspar, Sherwin-Williams, PPG Industries and AzkoNobel. The story on Sherwin-Williams' acquisition of Valspar is taken from the perspective of the Australian market and what it means for local hardware retailers.

    Other stories include a list of the award winners from Home Timber & Hardware Group's conference and there is another extensive roundup on big box retail activities.

    The tiny house trend is featured along with BIS Shrapnel's report on the apartment boom that seems destined to go bust. Australian company PlantMiner is disrupting the construction industry and Brickworks announces its first half results.

    The regular update on job opportunities highlights roles at AEG Power Tools, PPG and Yates.


    HI News Vol. 2 No. 4

    Kitchen wars in the media

    Cordless outdoor power equipment markets and Kobalt launches new range

    The HNN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    This issue focuses on the "battle" in the media between Bunnings-exclusive, kitchen specialist Kaboodle and flat-pack furniture giant, IKEA. The feature looks at the changing markets for kitchens, the potential impact of Masters' exit on the category and the strategies behind the advertising campaigns of both companies.

    We take a look at the consumer and commercial markets for outdoor power equipment and the latest range from Kobalt that has been launched the US.

    On the home front, an extensive big box update includes the news surrounding the Masters and Home Timber & Hardware (HTH) sell-off and private equity's interest in a merger between Mitre 10 and HTH.

    In terms of the independent retail sector, HTH unveils its Easter campaign and a Mitre 10 store in Sorrento (VIC) achieves a record price at auction.

    Also included in this edition are The Home Depot's annual results that delivered its best-ever revenues and its strong performance in the fourth quarter. Ace Hardware has released its latest advertising campaign with a new agency.

    There is a regular update on the latest job opportunities from Karcher and the Whites Group, and Methven's matte black tapware is also featured.


    HI News

    What it means to be independent in 2016

    Wesfarmers-Bunnings first half results and growth again for Ace Hardware

    The HNN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    In this issue, we take a closer look at what it means to be an independent hardware retailer today. This feature includes revisiting the recent histories of Mitre 10, Home Timber & Hardware Group as well as Bunnings. Is there an alternative to private ventue capital ownership of vital independent hardware retail assets?

    Successful US retail co-op Ace Hardware delivers annual growth again and proves that independents can be successful competing against big box retailers. Lowe's robots actually serve people in the store and there is a last minute bid for the UK's Home Retail Group.

    Local e-tailer Milan Direct enters the renovation market and we include the latest statistics on renovations from the Housing Industry Association.

    Other stories include Harvey Norman's first half results boosted by the property market and a profit plunge for Hills.

    There is a regular update on big box retailers and job opportunities from Dulux, Blackwoods and Selleys. Sony's multifunctional light for smart homes is also featured.


    HI News Vol. 2 No. 2

    Bunnings' power tool pricing shifts markets

    Boral's first half results and ITW delivers its annual 2015 report

    The HNN e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    In the latest edition, we provide additional analysis to the way Bunnings uses prices to reset markets and achieve an advantage over its competitors. This is an extended version of the original story.

    We also examine how Boral is making use of the transition in the marketplace in its first half results. In other company news, ITW's annual results show its overall revenue has declined but there are positive trends in other key metrics. The increased performance in its construction products division in the Asia-Pacific region is led by Australia.

    Sunlite Mitre 10 wins the retail group's best small store awards and there are profiles of two Queensland-based stores, one sells tools and industrial supplies and the other is a builders and DIY rental business.

    In the big box sector, Masters managing director Matt Tyson resigns and Bunnings Warehouse Property (BWP) Trust looks at opportunities to take on Masters sites.

    Other major retail stories include Lowe's takeover of Rona in Canada; Sainbury's purchase of Home Retail Group and how independent hardware retailers are faring in the UK.

    Additional news features focus on houses that cost USD20k in the US and how Canadian company BuildDirect is attempting to be the "Amazon" of home improvement. Local vacuum specialist Godfreys makes a "green" acquisition and BBQ maker Weber takes on more app-enabled brands. ACDelco Tools also makes its entry into the Australian market.

    Mr Fothergill's new seeds and bulbs are profiled along with the Guild power tool brand in new products, and another roundup of home improvement stories in hot links.


    Hot links

    Spray painting lawns green

    Husqvarna at Chelsea Flower Show and do-it-yourself sets for kids from Stanley

    WA-based Eco Turf Paint will spray paint brown lawns green; Husqvarna Australia sponsors an exhibit at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show; PPG introduces improved formula for low-VOC Break-Through! Paint; Stanley Jr. branded DIY wood craft & tool sets for children; The Fat Paint Company makes chalk-style paint; and online retailer Wayfair expands product offering.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Watching lawn paint dry

    Eco Turf Paint can turn grass green using environmentally safe colourant spray, which improves the appearance of grass without the need for constant watering. The product can last up to three months and has UV qualities. It is non-toxic and safe for pets and people. Similar products have been popular in places such as California where water restrictions are in place.


    Paint can keep lawns green - HNN

    >}WA-based Eco Turf Paint can turn grass green}

    Husqvarna returns to Chelsea event

    Landscape designer Charlie Albone is going for gold at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show for the second time in as many years. The host of Foxtel's Selling Houses Australia will to return to the event following his win of a Silver-Gilt Medal at the 2015 show. Albone was the only Australian to be invited back to the prestigious show for a second consecutive year, and will again be sponsored by outdoor power equipment specialist Husqvarna.

    >}Charlie Albone in his 2015 Husqvarna-sponsored garden}

    Low-VOC paint for pros

    The PPG PAINTS brand has unveiled the next generation of the <50 grams per litre volatile organic compound (VOC) version of Break-Through! interior and exterior waterborne acrylic paint. It offers a versatile technology that provides adhesion, hardness and block resistance to a wide range of surfaces. The product also has a smooth, virtually brush-free finish that withstands cracking and peeling.

    >}PPG's improved low-VOC Break-Through! Paint}

    Tool brand for kids

    Stanley Jr. brings together one of the most recognisable names in tools with a new line of wood craft kits and tool sets for children. They will feature real tools that have been ergonomically designed for children's hands and physical skills. The range will be distributed by Reeves International in North America and is scheduled to reach store shelves by June 2016.

    >}Stanley Jr. DIY sets for kids}

    Fat Paint's custom formula

    UK-based The Fat Paint Company has developed a colour palette featuring Blushing Bombshell, Navy State of Mind, Greysful, Orangeapalooza, Couture Linen and Can't See Me Camo. The brother-and-sister duo of Victoria and Bradford Lambert launched the business in 2012, mixing up the paint in the kitchen before opening its own space. It distributes chalk-style paint to more than 80 retailers across North America.

    >}The Fat Paint Company's range of paint}

    More categories at Wayfair

    Wayfair is one of the world's largest online destinations for home furnishings and decor. It recently announced the expansion of its plumbing offering at to support a variety of home decorating and renovation projects. There are over 5,000 bathroom vanities on the site. It also has ambitious plans to sell and install flooring.


    Temple & Webster grows through acquisitions - HNN

    >}Wayfair expands its offering in plumbing and flooring}


    Hot links

    Baldwin's 70th anniversary

    German-based OBI DIY stores get new owner and LG launches SmartThinQ Hub

    An additional round-up of home improvement stories. Baldwin Hardware releases its 70th anniversary door knob; investment company purchases OBI DIY stores in Germany; LG's new hub is a cylindrical speaker with an LCD display but no voice control; and Hive releases smart plug and connected home sensors.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Commemorative door knob

    Baldwin Hardware, a brand of the Hardware & Home Improvement division of Spectrum Brands Holdings, recently unveiled its 70th Anniversary Commemorative Knob. The knob design features an abstract design of seven engraved rings reminiscent of the age rings of a tree. Each ring represents a decade of Baldwin's history and encases a 70 in the centre of the knob.

    >}Baldwin Hardware's 70th Anniversary Commemorative Knob}

    OBI DIY stores sold

    Rockspring Property Investment Managers LLP has acquired a portfolio of nine OBI retail stores in Germany for a total price of 150 million euros. The acquisition comprises over 112,000sqm of lettable area and includes OBI's 20,000sqm flagship store in Berlin-Zehlendorf as well as a second major store in Berlin, and outlets in Augsburg, Neuss, Siegen, Haiger, Schwelm, Vechta and Dresden.

    >}German OBI DIY stores sold}

    LG's SmartThinQ Hub

    LG's new SmartThinQ Hub looks very similar to Amazon's Echo, the speaker-turned-smart-home-assistant. But unlike the Echo, it has a 3.5-inch colour LCD display. The screen can show users the weather, time, and calendar, and its speakers can stream music via Bluetooth. Its true purpose is controlling "washing machines, refrigerators, ovens, robotic vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, and a variety of sensors".

    >}LG's launches SmartThinQ Hub}

    Hive releases smart plug

    When British Gas subsidiary Hive unveiled it's latest take on the smart thermostat, the company also committed to launching a new a range of motion sensors, light bulbs and a smart plug. It is finally ready to add its Active Plug and Window and Door Sensors to its connected home line-up, with all three products available to buy online.

    >}Hive expands its range}


    Hot links

    Dare Gallery opens in Maroochydore

    UK hardware store promotes sexuality and Fiskars wins international design award

    Melbourne-based furniture and homewares store Dare Gallery will open its first Sunshine Coast shopfront; British hardware store Robert Dyas creates a quirky viral Christmas video highlighting sexuality; Fiskars has been awarded the GOOD DESIGN[tm] 2015 Award; and Newell Rubbermaid is acquiring Jarden Corp. and its products for US$15.4 billion.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Dare on the Sunshine Coast

    A new Dare Gallery store will open as part of the Maroochydore Homemaker Centre on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. General manager Patrick Doyle said the company had conducted research into consumer trends to find out what people in the region were looking for in interior styles. The store will be Dare Gallery's 12th in Australia and its third in Queensland.

    >}Dare Gallery to open on the Sunshine Coast}

    Hardware store's gay/straight ad

    A Christmas video created by UK hardware store Robert Dyas suggests that straight, gay and bisexual people all love the store and its products. It shows customers and employees declaring their sexual orientation as they tout particular products. The results are strange - and confusing to many viewers, who can't quite grasp why that should matter when shopping for hardware. You can check it out here:

    >}Video from the Robert Dyas hardware store}

    Fiskars' innovation recognised

    Four Fiskars products have been given the GOOD DESIGN 2015 Award. The award is conferred annually by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design together with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies. The museum received several thousand entries in 2015 from corporations in over 47 countries.

    >}Fiskars have won a number of GOOD DESIGN 2015 awards}

    Newell Rubbermaid buys Jarden

    Newell Rubbermaid's purchase of Jarden Corp. will create a consumer-products giant with a sprawling portfolio. The new company, called Newell Brands, will have US$16 billion in sales, according to a statement. Jarden's more than 100 far-flung brands include everything from First Alert to Breville. Newell Rubbermaid CEO Michael Polk, will run the combined entity.

    >}Newell Rubbermaid has acquired Jarden Corp.}


    HI Weekly Vol. 1 No. 14

    Home improvement ad market moves to digital

    New women's DIY market and Metcash/Mitre 10 first half results for 2015-16

    Each week, the HNN weekly e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out. Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    In this week's edition, we provide an overview of the advertising market in the home improvement sector. There is growing evidence that it is continuing to move towards digital. HNN also looks at the new women's DIY market that could be a growth source for home improvement retailers in 2016.

    We examine the 2015-16 first half results for grocery wholesaler Metcash and its hardware subsidiary, Mitre 10. Although its profit has declined, its share price increased.

    Additional news stories include an investment market update featuring News Corp Australia taking a stake in tradies marketplace, The trend in modular homes in Perth is explored and HNN attends the event for kitchen and bathroom designer, Royston Wilson.

    International stories include Mitre 10 New Zealand's search for the best female DIYer in the country; potential bids for UK home improvement retailer Homebase; Kingfisher's investment in renewables; and Bosch's new smart home business.

    Plus all our regular features: a selection of the latest home improvement jobs from around Australia; HNN Home Improvement Index; new products; and hot links.


    Hot links

    IKEA could open on London's Oxford Street

    Alabaster is Sherwin-Williams' chosen colour and digital transformation at Travis Perkins

    A well-known London shopping street may get an IKEA; Sherwin-Williams names Alabaster as its 2016 Colour Of The Year; UK home improvement retailer Travis Perkins will implement its omnichannel strategy with a new digital store platform; and USG supports Mars exploration.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    IKEA on Oxford Street

    The Swedish furniture and homewares chain is in talks to open its first outlet on one of London's main shopping streets. IKEA said it will be a click and collect store. The retail group's first order and collection point has already opened in Norwich in the UK and the second is due to open in Aberdeen in spring 2016. The development underlines the experiments by big box retailers with smaller format stores.

    >}IKEA in discussions to open a store on London's Oxford Street}

    Choosing Alabaster colour

    A natural white, Alabaster has been chosen as Sherwin-Williams' 2016 Colour of the Year. It is seen as a hue symbolic of new beginnings. Jackie Jordan, director of colour marketing, explains: "Alabaster represents a straightforward and necessary shift to mindfulness, well-being and an atmosphere that is pure...Alabaster is neither stark nor overly warm, but rather an understated and alluring hue of white."

    >}A kitchen painted in an Alabaster colour}

    Travis Perkins' digital changes

    UK-based building merchant Travis Perkins has engaged OneView Commerce to transform customer interaction across all its 19 retail brands. The first brand undergoing transformation is Wickes, where a full in-store POS and cross-channel implementation is underway. The OneView platform will be extended across all 256 stores during the first half of 2016.

    >}Travis Perkin's is implementing a digital strategy}

    USG part of Mars research

    Building materials company USG has partnered with Honeybee Robotics on the field testing of Honeybee's Planetary Deep Drill System. The field testing will take place at USG's Plaster City gypsum quarry in Salton Sea, California. It is part of Honeybee's broader Mars exploration program, which aims to better understand the planet and the capabilities needed to send humans to the planet by the 2030s.

    >}USG contributes to Mars exploration}


    HI Weekly Vol. 1 No. 11

    Three leading edge home improvement stores

    A review of worklights from Bosch, DeWalt and Milwaukee and ITW's third quarter results

    Each week, the HNN weekly e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out.

    Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    In this week's edition, we visit prototype stores from Australia's top three hardware/home improvement retailers: Bunnings Alexandria, Masters Rouse Hill and Mitre 10 in Paddington. All these stores are located in New South Wales. We also review worklights from Bosch, DeWalt and Milwaukee, and ITW's third quarter results are examined.

    Other news stories this week include CEO changes at buying group Natbuild and USG Boral's focus on the Asia Pacific region.

    Also in this edition: a selection of the latest home improvement jobs from around Australia and B&Q showcases its IT system in Ireland.

    Plus all our regular features: big box updates; HNN Home Improvement Index; new products; and hot links.

    Hot links

    Celebrity chef driven appliances

    RONA celebrates achievements and B&Q helps promote sustainability with LED discounts

    Appliance makers are making deals with celebrity chefs to drive sales; Canadian hardware and building supplies retailer RONA wins awards; UK-based B&Q encourages customers to buy energy saving goods; and Amazon's smart product Echo will be sold through Home Depot,

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Tapping into the Masterchef trend

    Breville is working with UK celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to design and market kitchen appliances and Shriro Holdings has signed up Australian chef Neil Perry to promote a new range of ovens and cooktops. Both are cashing in on the home renovation boom. They are counting on consumers' growing skills and confidence in the kitchen to drive sales of ovens, juicers, coffee makers and cooktops.

    >}Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal promotes Breville products}

    RONA stores win retail awards

    Four RONA stores have been recognised at the Outstanding Retailer Awards (ORAs). Launched in 1992, the ORAs are the industry's only independent awards program dedicated to celebrating the achievements of hardware, home improvement and building supply dealers in Canada. In its 23-year history, it has honoured more than 140 retailers.

    >}RONA wins independent retail awards}

    B&Q advocates for climate change

    B&Q and other Kingfisher stores will offer discounts on energy saving products to help raise awareness of the upcoming United Nations climate change talks in Paris. In an interview with BusinessGreen, Richard Gillies, sustainability director for Kingfisher, owner of B&Q, said he wanted to make climate change a tangible reality for customers.

    >}B&Q stores are selling discounted LED lights}

    Amazon Echo available at Home Depot

    Amazon is allowing Home Depot and other retailers to offer its high-tech, assistant speaker online. Echo, which was first unveiled in November 2014, lets users ask the system's personal assistant "Alexa" to update to-do lists, set alarms and timers, check the weather, get sports and news, get answers to questions from Wikipedia or stream music. The device can essentially run consumers' homes.

    >}Amazon's Echo will go on sale at Home Depot in time for the Christmas rush}


    HI Weekly Vol. 1 No. 10

    Woolworths and Masters results

    Latest hardware retail statistics, CSR results and testing the DeWalt Bluetooth battery

    Each week, the HNN weekly e-newsletter can be accessed in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out.

    Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    In this week's edition, we look at the latest Woolworths results and its home improvement division. A number of questions are included from the presentation to analysts. The DeWalt Bluetooth battery is also tested.

    CSR's first half results are included along with Reece and the most recent hardware retail statistics.

    Other news stories include Mitre 10 New Zealand's annual results and Lowe's top 2015 vendors are named.

    Also in this edition: the online home services market in the US continues to expand with Sears.

    Plus all our regular features: big box updates; HNN Home Improvement Index; new products; and hot links.

    Hot links

    Child-friendly bathroom by Raymor

    Ace Hardware chooses Epicor POS software and Dulux UK opens a training academy

    Raymor has created a bathroom specifically for children; Ace Hardware stores use Epicor POS software; home decor start-up Stylyze raises US$890K to help find matching designs for homes; and Dulux in the UK opens a painting and decorating academy.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Products for kids bathrooms

    Several Raymor bathroom products have been used to create a children's bathroom. Designed to cater for two children in an easy-clean environment, the vanity features wide Alpha countertop basins to minimise splashes and wall mount Lavas basin mixers to eliminate the need to clean around hob mounted tapware.

    >}Raymor products featured in a child-friendly bathroom}

    Ace Hardware selects Epicor

    Epicor Software and Ace Hardware have signed an agreement that designates Epicor as the point of sale software provider exclusively endorsed by the retail co-op. Epicor says its solutions are built upon decades of industry experience and will provide Ace retailers with the resources to effectively grow their businesses.

    >}Ace Hardware endorses Epicor POS software}

    Home decor site raises funds

    Stylyze has developed technology that enables online home decor retailers to present customers with digital home decor "styleboards". The Seattle-based start-up adds data to the retailers' products and finds which items go well together. It raised US$890,000 in a seed funding round from angel investors.

    >}Stylyze has raised US$890K from angel investors}

    Dulux UK trains painters and decorators

    AkzoNobel, the Dutch industrial company that owns the Dulux paint brand in the UK, has opened an academy to train enough painters and decorators to cope with the one million new homes that are expected to be built by the end of the decade. Matt Pullen, UK managing director of AkzoNobel decorative coatings, said: "Demand for skilled painters and decorators is exceeding supply. A maturing workforce is now retiring and we have got to do something, re-establish the craft of decorating."

    >}Dulux UK has opened an academy to train painters and decorators}


    HI Weekly Vol. 1 No. 7

    The newest and oldest Masters stores

    Mitre 10 CEO Mark Laidlaw delivers a presentation at the National Hardware Industry Luncheon

    Read all the content from the HNN weekly e-newsletter in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out.

    Just use the following link to download the PDF:

    In this week's edition, we take another tour of Masters older and newer stores. We attended the recent opening of the latest Masters store in Cranbourne (VIC) and compared it to the very first store it established in Braybrook (VIC).

    We also cover Mitre 10 CEO, Mark Laidlaw's recent presentation at the National Hardware Industry Luncheon held at the MCG in Melbourne recently. We examine what Mr Laidlaw had to say about the industry and Mitre 10's strategy going to 2020.

    A transcript of the presentation is also included.

    Also in this edition: regular updates on big box retailers and independent retailers; winner of the Rising Star award from Hardware Australia; IKEA's CEO admits the retail group was late to e-commerce; a report on the opportunities that exist in prefab construction and an overview of the Pro Tool Innovation Awards.

    Plus all our regular features: HNN Home Improvement ASX Index; new products; and other news.

    Hot links

    RH introduces RH Modern

    Ace Paint Studio gets new paint brand and luxury home automation going DIY

    Restoration Hardware has revealed RH Modern; Amy Howard at Home products will be rolled out through Ace Hardware stores; high end home automation system Savant is being sold directly to consumers; and Samsung brings a black stainless-steel finish to kitchen appliances.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Retail concepts from RH

    RH Modern from Restoration Hardware says it offers a curated and fully-integrated assortment of modern furnishings, lighting and decor under one brand. The multi-channel business has debuted its own 540-page Source Book, a dedicated website and significant retail presence that will house the first RH Modern Gallery in West Hollywood.

    >}An RH Modern display}

    Paint brand launch at Ace

    Ace Hardware will offer Amy Howard at Home products in participating stores across the US. Developed by furniture designer and manufacturer Amy Howard, the artisan quality range includes the signature One Step Paint, a chalk-based paint that allows users to transform existing furniture or cabinetry in a single step -- no stripping, sanding or priming. It is available in 52 shades and can be colour matched.

    >}The Amy Howard at Home range will be available at Ace stores}

    Savant creates DIY system

    Savant, supplier of custom-installed home automation systems for the luxury market, is going direct to consumers for the first time with the launch of its DIY system. It includes a Bluetooth-equipped remote with a 2.8-inch colour curved-lens touchscreen, hard buttons, directional pad, and voice control. The remote's tabletop charging dock features a built-in 360-degree IR blaster, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

    >}Savant home automation system}

    Stainless steel is the new black

    Samsung has a new line of appliances with a black stainless steel finish that promises to resist fingerprints better than its traditional silver counterpart. The Samsung Black Stainless Steel Collection includes existing products such as the four-door refrigerator, the Flex Duo Range with dual door, the top-control dishwasher and the over-the-range microwave.

    >}Samsung's range of black stainless steel appliances}


    Hot links

    Temple & Webster rebrands Wayfair Australia

    White is the paint colour of the year and Peter Rabbit licence for garden products

    Online homewares retailer Temple & Webster has rebranded its Wayfair Australia website; US paint brand Benjamin Moore names its 2016 Colour of the Year; Peter Rabbit range of children's garden accessories; and affordable design help for millennials in the US.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Australian homewares site changes name

    Local online retailer Temple & Webster re-launched its Wayfair Australia site as furniture and homewares shopping website, ZIZO. The rebranding comes just six weeks after Temple & Webster acquired Wayfair Australia. ZIZO branding is focused on simplicity, service and speed.

    >}Wayfair Australia has been re-named as ZIZO}

    Spotlight on white

    Benjamin Moore has announced its 2016 Colour of the Year as Simply White OC-117. The company also unveiled Colour Trends 2016, a corresponding palette of 23 colours to illustrate how white works within the colour spectrum.

    >}Bowls painted with Benjamin Moore's Simply White OC-117}"Simply-White"-2016-Color#.Vhox0iis3dk

    Peter Rabbit brand in the garden

    UK-based Treadstone Products has unveiled an exclusive range of bespoke children's gardening accessories in the form of the Peter Rabbit licence. The range features characters from the popular television program and will include gardening accessories and clothing for children up to the age of seven.

    >}Treadstone Products has the Peter Rabbit licence for its range of garden products}

    Targeting millennials with design help

    Interior design is going virtual with clients looking to the Internet for immediate and budget-friendly advice, ideal for millennials. Two web-based platforms - Zoom Interiors of Los Angeles and Havenly of Denver - connect users to interior designers offering style and shopping expertise for a one-time flat fee.

    >}Online design help for millennials that is cost-effective}


    HI Weekly Vol. 1 No. 6

    Mitre 10's Sapphire store

    At the recent Metcash Investors' Day Mark Laidlaw described Mitre 10's future

    Read all the content from the HNN weekly eNewsletter in one convenient PDF. Easy to read onscreen, or print it out.

    Just use the following link to download the pdf:

    In this week's edition we cover Mitre 10's presentation at the recent Investors' Day. Mitre 10's CEO, Mark Laidlaw, emphasised the role of the Sapphire store concept in the company's future. Will it be enough to offset under-investment by Mitre 10's parent, Metcash, and increased competition from Bunnings and Masters Home Improvement?

    Also in this edition: updates on big-box retailers and the latest at the UK's Screwfix; online home improvement services gather momentum in the US; and a recent US study indicates big box stores are losing market share to some specialty stores, especially in paint.

    Plus all our regular features: Indie store update; HNN Home Improvement ASX Index; new products; and news.

    Hot links

    Homewares retailers benefit from housing boom

    Muji renovating old government apartments and Herman Miller planning larger stores

    Housewares are delivering strong sales for retailers off the back of the housing boom; Lifestyle brand Muji collaborating with Japan's housing agency to makeover old apartments; Totem bin wins top design award; Furniture retailer Herman Miller plans bigger stores; and Roomba robot vacuum cleaner joins the smart home trend.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Housing boosts housewares sales

    Pacific Brands, owner of iconic Australian homeware label Sheridan, and home retailer Adairs both reported strong sales in their end-of-year results. Retail analysts believe the popularity of renovation shows like The Block and thriving home decoration communities on blogs and social media are also boosting sales.

    >}Pacific Brands, owner of Sheridan, reported strong results}

    Design award for Totem bin

    Kitchenware supplier Joseph Joseph's innovative waste and recycling bin, Totem, has taken a top award at the Maison & Objet homewares fair in Paris recently. Totem has a unique range of waste separation and recycling units occupying the same space as a conventional kitchen bin. It offers more functions without compromising on capacity.

    >}The Totem bin wins top design award}

    Larger stores for Herman Miller

    Furniture maker Herman Miller is planning to close some small format stores as leases expire and replace them with larger format stores. The change will translate into a net increase of about 55,000-square-feet for fiscal year 2016. It plans to open six new larger format studios by the end of 2016, the first two planned for next month in Scottsdale, Arizona and Berkeley, California.

    >}Herman Miller is planning larger stores}

    Muji reno collaboration

    Japanese lifestyle retailer Muji is working with the country's housing agency and turning rundown apartment blocks from poky, multi-room flats into open-plan studios. The renovations market in DIY-shy Japan is still small, but Muji is one of several household names pushing to make it mainstream.

    >}Muji renovating rundown apartment blocks in Japan}

    New, upgraded Roomba

    The Roomba 980 vacuum cleaning robot is the first model to use visual localisation and adaptive navigation together. It can be controlled from a mobile app over WiFi and it has an improved ability to suck dirt off floors. The cleaning robot uses a variety of sensors and a low-resolution camera to build its geographic map.

    >}Roomba 980 vacuum cleaning robot}


    Hot links

    Samsung's connected home starter kit

    Homebase stores to get more Habitat concessions and Lowe's joins Z-Wave Alliance

    Samsung has started to sell a starter kit for a connected homes; plans to grow UK furnishings retailer Habitat in Homebase stores; Lowe's smart home solution Iris has become part of the Z-Wave Alliance; Kwikset deadbolt range now comes with home connect technology; reformulated paint and primer-in-one from PPG Pittsburgh Paints; Stanley Black & Decker makes another donation to Toolbank USA; and Valspar expands its professional range to include new coatings.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Smart Things from Samsung

    Samsung's starter kit for a connected home was launched at the IFA trade show in Berlin recently. Called Smart Things, the line of devices includes electrical sockets, sensors and a central hub that connects to a home's internet router to coordinate different appliances. It went on sale in the UK and US during September and will be more broadly available next year.

    >}Samsung has launched a starter kit for a connected home}

    Habitat plans comeback through Hombase

    Furnishings retailer Habitat will increase its floor space by 25% by the end of the year, as it embarks on its first major re-launch since falling into administration four years ago. Habitat, which was rescued by Homebase owner Home Retail Group, aims to have 80 concession stores across the UK, based mainly in Homebase stores.

    >}Habitat plans more concessions in Homebase stores}

    Z-Wave Alliance includes Lowe's Iris

    Lowe's has become a member of the Z-Wave Alliance, a global consortium of over 325 member companies supporting the Z-Wave wireless IoT (Internet of Things) standard. A retail destination for a variety of Z-Wave smart home devices, Lowe's Iris joins a growing membership of companies committed to the Z-Wave brand.

    >}Lowe's Iris joins the Z-Wave Alliance}

    Kwikset uses remote locking technology

    Kwikset's new line of Signature Series Deadbolt Locks with Home Connect[tm] technology utilises the Z-Wave wireless protocol to enable remote locking and unlocking. This allows homeowners to remotely access and control the lock from anywhere in the world, using a smartphone, tablet or Internet-enabled device.

    >}Remote locking is available on Kwikset's Signature Series Deadbolt Locks}

    New formula for PPG's Regency range

    PPG Pittsburgh Paints has introduced its reformulated line of REGENCY(r) Paint + Primer-In-One acrylic latex paints. The range provides long-lasting coverage and colour retention in three formulations - all with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and low odour. It includes Regency Interior, Regency Exterior and Regency Interior/Exterior.

    >}PPG Pittsburgh Paints launches its reformulated line of REGENCY paint}

    Stanley Black & Decker donates tools

    Stanley Black & Decker will donate more than US$225,000 worth of tools to ToolBank USA, an organisation that lends tools to non-profits for use in service projects. Charities, schools and faith-based organisations are among those who borrow ToolBank tools such as drills, hammers, rakes, ladders and generators.

    >}Stanley has been a ToolBank sponsor since 2007}

    Professional coatings from Valspar

    Valspar has expanded its professional portfolio of products to include a new range of coatings. Professional painters will find a wider selection of water-based coatings, including Direct-To-Metal primers and topcoats, Pre-Catalyzed Epoxies, Catalyzed Epoxies, DryFall and a zero-VOC primer. They are suitable for maintenance, commercial and light industrial jobs.

    >}Valspar has expanded its professional range of products}

    More Siam Global outlets in SE Asia

    Thai building materials retailer Siam Global House plans to open three stores in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, and seven new domestic stores over the next five years. It expects to increase store count to 39 by end of 2015 from 32 stores at the end of 2014, as it looks to boost growth in a slowing domestic economy.

    >}Thai building materials retailer Siam Global House has growth plans}


    Hot links

    WA stores boost profit at Nick Scali

    Restoration Hardware launches teen line and future of retail in Washington suburb

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Furniture retailer, Nick Scali's, net profit increased 20% for the full year ended June 30; Restoration Hardware targets teen with new range; a shopping hub in the US indicates the future of retail; and makeup fridges are the latest whitegoods "must have".

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Nick Scali gains from WA locations

    Net profit for local furniture retailer Nick Scali rose 20% to $17.1 million for the full year ended June 30, up from $14.2 million in the previous corresponding period. Sales revenue increased 10.1% from $141.4 million to $155.7 million, fuelled by same store sales growth of 3.4%. During the period, the company launched in Western Australia, opening a distribution centre and three new stores at Joondalup, O'Connor and Osborne Park.

    >}Nick Scali achieves a 20% profit increase}

    International News

    Fancy furniture for teenagers

    US-based Restoration Hardware has a new retail concept called RH Teen that promises "tasteful, high-quality furniture" and home goods for teens. Items include furniture, lighting, linens and decor. They will be available online and at Restoration Hardware's new "design galleries", giant flagship stores that the company is opening in major North American markets.

    >}Restoration Hardware is launching a range for teens}

    Neighbourhood reveals future retail trends

    A project in the Washington suburb of Shaw is shaping up to be a microcosm of some of the key trends embraced by retailers and developers who are eager to satisfy the preferences and spending patterns of millennials. This idea of turning shopping into a distinctive experience instead of a ho-hum errand is how many retailers have decided that brick-and-mortar shopping will remain relevant even as e-commerce offers vast choice and convenience.

    >}Future of retail developing in Shaw, a Washington suburb}

    Makeup fridges: a cool new innovation?

    Fridges, long the preserve of the kitchen, are popping up in the bathroom. Designed in bijoux sizes of four-to-nine litres, and with temperatures ranging from 8C-12C (warmer than the recommended 4C temperature for food), the cosmetics fridge is the beauty world's equivalent of the jewellery box. Makeup fridges are also the latest luxury amenity that part of a high end property development in central London.

    >}Make-up fridges are a growing popular trend in whitegoods}


    Hot links

    Lowe's invests in real estate website

    Restoration Hardware to open hotel and sustainable retailer TreeHouse gains investment

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Lowe's Home Improvement is one of the investors in technology startup SoloPro; Restoration Hardware will open a hotel in New York; environmentally friendly home improvement store TreeHouse raises investment funds; and's new service enables real estate agents to help clients with home repairs.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Startup snags Lowe's investment

    Real estate-focused technology startup, SoloPro now counts Lowe's Home Improvement among its backers. The company confirmed that the retailer's investment arm, Lowe's Companies Venture Capital, has made an investment in the company. SoloPro claims it can save homebuyers up to 3% on a buyer-agent commission rebate.

    >}SoloPro now has Lowe's as an investor}

    Restoration Hardware launches hotel

    Furnishings retailer Restoration Hardware is planning to open a boutique hotel and restaurant close to its upcoming flagship store in New York. The 14-room hotel will act in part as a showroom for the brand, featuring Restoration Hardware's furniture and fixtures. It is the company's first hospitality concept.

    >}Restoration Hardware is opening a hotel in New York}

    TreeHouse raises funds for expansion

    Austin-based TreeHouse has completed its largest round of financing yet to help kick-start a planned multi-state expansion. The goal is to take on giants such as The Home Depot and Lowe's in the same manner Whole Foods Market challenged traditional grocers. The company recently raised US$16 million.

    >}TreeHouse raises investment funds}

    Home repairs at

    US-based is looking to create one-stop shopping for home repairs. It has released a new service for real estate agents who are looking for ways to remain close with clients. Called Premier Home Services, the service is designed to help agents book repairs for clients by using Pro's service as they prepare their house for a sale or make upgrades after a purchase.

    >} offering home repairs service}


    Hot links

    Pottery Barn opens in Perth

    Awards for B&Q garden products and first Orchard Supply Hardware in San Francisco

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. US homewares retailer, Pottery Barn opens a Perth outpost; B&Q garden products win European innovation awards; Orchard Supply Hardware opens first store in San Francisco location; Allegion to acquire Korean electronic lock company; and new hand tool range from Yanko Design. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Perth gets its own Pottery Barn

    Pottery Barn opened its first store in Perth recently. Parent company Williams-Sonoma has taken over a 1878sqm retail space opposite David Jones in the Hay Street mall for its three interconnected stores - Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm. Locally made products could make their way on to shelves in the new stores.

    >}Pottery barn opens in Perth}

    International News

    Innovation awards for Kingfisher

    B&Q owner Kingfisher has won several awards for product design. In France, the jury of the "Observeur du Design" 2015 Awards gave a winner's "label" to four of Kingfisher's products, including a MacAllister lawnmower with sliding handles and a cordless hammer drill. In a separate competition in Germany, Kingfisher scooped the 2015 "Winner of the Red Dot Product Design Award" for its Verve range of garden cutting tools.

    >}Kingfisher's Verve range of garden cutting tools}

    Orchard Supply in San Fran

    The first Orchard Supply Hardware in San Francisco is now officially open in North Beach near Fisherman's Wharf. The retailer has customised this location to cater to apartment dwellers and smaller space living. At nearly 36,000-square-feet, the new store occupies two buildings connected by a glass encased skywalk.

    >}Orchard Supply Hardware opens in San Francisco}

    Allegion's Korean acquisition

    Allegion has agreed to acquire Milre Systek, a security solutions manufacturer in South Korea. It produces electronic door locks. The Milre suite of products - sold across both retail and commercial distribution channels - includes mortise, rim and locker locks. Milre generated sales of approximately US$13 million in 2014.

    >}Allegion acquires Korean security company}

    Striking hand tools

    The Aura range moves away from the traditional rugged aesthetics of hand tools. The over-moulded TPE contact points allow the user to comfortably grip each tool and efficiently complete tasks. Each product has been developed with a strong focus on improved ergonomics.

    >}The Aura range of hand tools from Yanko Design}

    Plastic packaging for paint

    Paint company Akzo Spain has started using a plastic packaging solution for its premium brands, Bruguer and Procolor. The Paintainer range from RPC Superfos offers a large choice of volumes and finishing options through in-mould labelling with lacquer. Painters can open and close the package without the use of any tool.

    >}Paintainer packaging is being used for Akzo Spain's paint brands}

    Hands-free fob replaces keys

    A Berlin-based start-up company is hoping to revolutionise the way people get into their homes. The idea is to swap a traditional metal key for a Kiwi Ki - a little plastic square which automatically unlocks the door as you get close. It is essentially a transponder, which uses radio-frequency identification technology. Kiwi Ki connects to a smartphone app so doors can also be opened remotely.

    >}The Kiwi Ki can replace front door keys}


    Google could enter home services market

    It might provide help with finding a plumber or painter

    The search company has picked up key staff from failed cleaning startup Homejoy

    According to a report in The Verge website, Google may be about to enter the growing home services market.

    The search giant has hired approximately 20 employees from Homejoy, a US-based startup that focused on pairing house cleaners with apartment-dwellers and homeowners. Google confirmed the hires to sister site Recode, soon after Homejoy announced that it was closing shop for good at the end of the month.

    Google has yet to announce any foray into home services, but Buzzfeed reported earlier this year that the company was working on a service that would connect local plumbers, cleaners, painters, and other workers with homeowners.

    The employees Google has picked up from Homejoy largely represent the startup's product and engineering teams, according to Recode. Their expertise could help Google build out its own service, which would likely pop up when a user searches for a plumber or cleaning person.

    Similar Google services already exist that let people compare prices for flights, hotels, and even car insurance when you search.

    Homejoy launched in 2012 as a website designed to make it easier for people to find and schedule house cleanings from verified cleaners. More recently, it began to set up appointments for other tasks around the house, like carpet cleaning services and repairs from handymen.

    The startup faced stiff competition from sites like Handy, TaskRabbit, and, more recently, Amazon itself, which launched its own home services product just over a month ago.

    Homejoy's closure was related to issues raising enough funding and a number of lawsuits from its cleaners who claimed they should be treated as employees, not contractors.


    Drive Phillips screws with ease

    Bit delivers more torque

    Kickstarter campaign by Pinckard Tool, promises an easier way to handle Phillips screws

    The standard Phillips head screw has always been something of a mixed blessing. A new innovation seeking funding on Kickstarter is designed to reduce some of its downsides, while retaining its best features.

    When it was first designed in the 1930s, the main purpose of the screw was to improve the assembly-line process. At that time, the powered drivers used on the lines were simple and crude, and lacked features such as torque control. This meant that it was easy to over-tighten standard screws, resulting in snapped screw-heads, and a subsequent loss of efficiency.

    The Phillips design, with its cross-hatched design and sloping edges, provided three advantages. It was quick and easy to centre the driving bit in the screw. With the sometimes soft metal used for screws in the 1930s, the greater contact surface enabled more torque to be applied to smaller diameter screw-heads.

    Most importantly, however, the design of the screw prevented over-tightening, as the sloped sides of the contact point would "cam out" the screw bit when a certain level of torque was reached.

    These advantages saw the screw originally adopted by the Cadillac division of General Motors in 1936, and by 1940 the design was almost universally used throughout the automotive industry. Its adoption rate was further enhanced by the massive industrial growth that came during World War II.

    The problem

    While the Phillips' screw's characteristics were ideally suited to machine assembly in the first half of the 20th Century, some of these characteristics have created problems 80 years later. The "cam out" action of the screw can all too easily result in ruined screw-heads when using modern power drill/drivers.

    US company Pinckard Tools have developed a product that could eliminate this problem, and they are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Named the "Knife Edge Bit", the product reduces the cam out effect of the standard Phillips screw, making it much easier to remove ruined screws, and to drive standard Phillips screws under higher torque levels with less effort.

    As the Kickstarter project states:

    The "Knife Edge" bit, Does not slip, Does not strip, Does not "cam" out, Does not destroy screws, Requires no extra force to stay in the screw, Drives dirty oily screws like dry screws, Drives most damaged screws and will often remove screws that before would not have been possible with a regular bit.

    The advantages of the new bit are also described:

    It will stay in the screw until it is all the way in or until you take it out. This is new and it is designed that way! No extreme force is required to keep it from slipping. No more leaning into the screw like before. No more sore shoulders. When you try it yourself you'll be pleasantly surprised. Imagine how much easier your work will be without the unavoidable "workout" of the past? This is a tremendous advantage when you're up on a ladder, reaching up over your head or out to the side or in any situation where you have reduced leverage or a lot of screws to drive.

    As of this writing, on 22 July 2015, the Kickstarter project has over US$22,000 of funding, on its way to a goal of US$35,000, with a little less than three weeks left to run.

    New Phillips screwdriver - Kickstarter

    Pinckard Tool have provided a short video which demonstrates some of the advantages of the tools.

    Link to YouTube video

    Hot links

    Fielders maintains Lehmann as brand ambassador

    Panasonic's connected home system and Lowe's tops Customer Satisfaction Appliance study

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Darren Lehmann to remain as the face of home improvement brand Fielders until 2017; Panasonic has released a monitoring and automation solution for Australian households; customer engagement puts Lowe's on top of customer satisfaction study for appliances; and UK's Wyevale Nurseries picks up on garden do-it-for-me trend. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Face of Fielders

    Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann will be the face of Fielders Home Improvements until 2017. The renewed partnership will see the high profile sportsman represent multiple brands under the Fielders portfolio including the Centenary Patio, Carport and Veranda brand, Endurance Sheds, plus Dominator fencing.

    >}Darren Lehmann will be the face of Fielders until 2017}

    Home automation for local market

    Panasonic Australia's Connected Home System offers a new range of devices and kits that enable electrical appliances to be remotely activated around the home, and monitored from inside and out. There is no monthly fee for monitoring, recording and controlling this system.

    >}Panasonic Australia has unveiled its Connected Home System}

    International News

    Lowe's ranks highest in appliances

    Lowe's occupies the top spot in the recently released J.D. Power 2015 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study. In its eighth year, the study measures customer satisfaction with appliance retailers by examining seven factors (in order of importance): Sales staff and service; store facility; price; delivery service; sales and promotions (new to the study); merchandise; and installation service.

    >}Lowe's occupies the top spot in the J.D. Power 2015 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study}

    DIFM in garden retail

    The do-it-for-me (DIFM) trend is emerging in the garden industry, according to UK-based Wyevale Nurseries. It believes the move will see a bigger demand for garden designers and landscapers. In response, it has launched a new garden design and domestic landscape sales department.

    >}UK-based Wyevale Nurseries responds to DIFM trend}

    Grafton's Irish revenues up almost 14%

    Home repairs, improvements and DIY are all beginning to pick up in the UK, according to builders merchant and retail company Grafton Group. The Dublin-based, but London-listed, firm said its revenues in Ireland were 13.7% higher for the six months to the end of June. The majority of Grafton's business, however, is in the UK where it saw more modest growth of 4.3%.

    >}Grafton Group owns the Woodies DIY retail chain}

    PPG introduces new Olympic paint at Lowe's

    Olympic ASSURE[tm] paint-and-primer in one is now available exclusively at Lowe's stores throughout the US. This paint simplifies the painting process with easy-flow application and a hardworking finish. Olympic is a brand of PPG Architectural Coatings and includes formulas for interior and exterior applications.

    >}Olympic ASSURE is available exclusively at Lowe's}

    Auto shutoff for home automation systems

    EcoNet Controls has introduced its automatic water shutoff controller. The EBV105 is simple to install over an existing levered ball valve, and no plumbing is required. The unit pairs as a standard Z-Wave Switch and is compatible with many home automation systems.

    >}EcoNet Controls launches an automatic water shutoff controller}


    Hot links

    Milwaukee's deal with Surfing Australia

    Adairs debut on the ASX and Cabot Woodcare line rolls out in more Ace Hardware stores

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Milwaukee Power Tools has renewed its partnership with Surfing Australia for 2015; shares in Adairs closed more than 10% higher after its first day of trade; the Australian National Retailers' Association changes its name to the Retail Council; Cabot Exterior Woodcare range will be distributed through additional Ace Hardware stores in the US; and Gorilla Glue gains shelf space in UK's Wilko stores. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Milwaukee teams up with Surfing Australia

    Milwaukee Power Tools' sponsorship of Surfing Australia will primarily involve a digital video series that will bring together professional tool users with a shared passion for surfing. Titled "Ultimate Power Surfers", it will provide fans with an insight into the lives of professional tradesmen who combine their love for surfing with their passion for working with Milwaukee power tools and accessories.

    >}Milwaukee Power Tools sponsorship of Surfing Australia will continue in 2015}

    Adairs' strong listing

    Homewares retailer Adairs' initial public offer raised $218.1 million through a combination of sale of shares by existing investors and issue of new shares, in a deal managed by UBS and Goldman Sachs. The company plans to add between eight and 12 stores a year, with hopes to expand internationally with stores in New Zealand and South Africa.

    >}Adairs made a strong debut on the ASX}

    Name change for ANRA

    The Australian National Retailers' Association has become the Retail Council. As part of its new configuration, Peter Birtles, managing director and CEO of Super Retail Group has been elected to the position of chair of the board. To mark its renaming, the Retail Council is hosting the Women in Retail Business and Leadership Seminar Series, which will run from July to November.

    >}ANRA has become the Retail Council}

    Cabot stocked in Ace Hardware

    Cabot Woodcare has teamed up with Ace Hardware to expand the distribution of the company's range to more than 2,000 Ace Hardware stores across the US. In addition to the product offerings, the Cabot team is installing new displays in many Ace stores to increase the shopability of the category.

    >}Cabot Woodcare range being rolled out through Ace stores}

    International News

    Gorilla Glue on Wilko shelves

    Adhesives supplier Gorilla Glue now has its products stocked in 184 Wilko stores in the UK. Wilko buyer Lloyd Taylor said: "The brand fits perfectly into our DIY category space and the inclusion of Gorilla Glue is a great opportunity to show just how versatile these products are..."

    >}Gorilla Glue has a presence on Wilko shelves in the UK}

    IKEA getting more personal

    IKEA in the US plans to make 1,000 house calls a year at customers' homes, poking through their cabinets, observing how their kids play and determining the biggest headaches people encounter when running their households. The goal: learn what customers in different markets need and make stores more local and personalised.

    >}IKEA US plans to make 1,000 house calls a year}

    True Value's data solution

    Data management company Edgenet has been chose by True Value Hardware to manage and standardise its supplier product data to meet both internal and consumer demand. Edgenet will be working with suppliers to provide a catalyst for True Value's retail and e-commerce strategy.

    >}True Value is using Edgenet to manage its product data}

    PPG adds to industrial coatings portfolio

    PPG Industries has reached an agreement to acquire IVC Industrial Coatings, a US-based specialty powder and liquid coatings manufacturer. In 2014, it had sales of over US$100 million. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    >}PPG buys industrial coatings company}

    Velcro to acquire specialty weaving company

    Velcro Companies has purchased Alfatex, a manufacturer of hook and loop fasteners in the medical, automotive and industrial sectors, and Gavaert which manufactures elastic and rigid webbings for the apparel industry. The move will increase Velcro's presence in Europe.

    >}Velcro has acquired a specialty weaving company}

    Investment for Gracious Home stores

    A former Wal-Mart executive, Dottie Mattison has bought a majority stake in New York-based home goods stores, Gracious Home. Along with business partner, David Mitchell, they plan to expand the chain's e-commerce business, improve customer service and scout for locations outside New York.

    >}New owners for Gracious Homes chain in New York}


    Hot links

    GUD to buy Brown & Watson

    Local home automation firm goes bust and Assa Abloy buys Finnish lock company

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. GUD Holdings has unveiled plans to buy Brown & Watson; Sydney-based start-up Ninja Blocks is shutting down; Assa Abloy is set to acquire Finnish security company Flexim; PPG acquires paint stores in Central America; first Apple Watch app for home services market; and Valspar finalises purchase of coatings businesses from Quest Specialty Chemicals. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    GUD to raise capital for acquisition

    GUD Holdings has unveiled plans to buy lighting products supplier Brown & Watson International for up to $220 million. The company said it would offer new shares to investors to fund the deal. Around 85% of Brown & Watson products are sold to the auto spare parts sector under the NARVA and Projecta brands.

    >}GUD Holdings to buy Brown & Watson International}

    Ninja Blocks goes under

    Local Internet of Things start-up Ninja Blocks is closing down. The Sydney-based company developed Sphere, a home automation computer which promised to offer a cheaper way of creating a smart home. It initially raised $702,937 on, six times the $115,000 sought, and also brought in $US700,000 from venture capital firms. However the production of the hardware ran overtime and over-budget.

    >}Sydney start-up Ninja Blocks is closing down}

    International News

    Assa Abloy takes on Flexim

    Assa Abloy has signed an agreement to acquire Flexim, a security systems provider and locksmith in Finland. The company didn't disclose the value of the deal but said the acquisition is "an important step" into the access control channel in the Nordic region.

    >}Assa Abloy buys Flexim}

    Trialling one-step paint

    As part of her furniture making business in Memphis, USA, Amy Howard created a one-step paint to help sustain and revive furniture. She believes her paint products can help reclaim furniture that is often being thrown away. Howard hopes to help build up family-owned hardware and paint stores and has launched a pilot program at 18 local Ace Hardware stores.

    >}Amy Howard's one-step paint is being trialled at Ace stores}

    PPG acquires Central American stores

    PPG Industries has acquired Consorcio Latinoamericano, which operates a network of 57 paint stores in Central America. With this acquisition, PPG will operate 87 company-owned stores across Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. It also plans to brand stores in Panama with the Glidden brand.

    >}PPG Industries buys Central American company}

    HomeAdvisor app for Apple Watch

    US home services website, HomeAdvisor has the developed the first Apple Watch app for the home services industry. It will help homeowners instantly connect to available local, screened, and rated home professionals for home repair and improvement projects.

    >}HomeAdvisor has the developed the first local home services app for Apple Watch}

    Valspar completes coatings buy

    The Valspar Corporation has concluded the acquisition of the coatings businesses of Quest Specialty Chemicals. It includes automotive refinish and industrial coatings. The acquired businesses had 2014 sales of approximately US$190 million.

    >}Valspar has completed its acquisition of the Quest Specialty Chemicals businesses}


    Hot links

    GUD to buy Brown & Watson

    Local home automation firm goes bust and Assa Abloy buys Finnish lock company

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. GUD Holdings has unveiled plans to buy Brown & Watson; Sydney-based start-up Ninja Blocks is shutting down; Assa Abloy is set to acquire Finnish security company Flexim; PPG acquires paint stores in Central America; first Apple Watch app for home services market; and Valspar finalises purchase of coatings businesses from Quest Specialty Chemicals. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    GUD to raise capital for acquisition

    GUD Holdings has unveiled plans to buy lighting products supplier Brown & Watson International for up to $220 million. The company said it would offer new shares to investors to fund the deal. Around 85% of Brown & Watson products are sold to the auto spare parts sector under the NARVA and Projecta brands.

    >}GUD Holdings to buy Brown & Watson International}

    Ninja Blocks goes under

    Local Internet of Things start-up Ninja Blocks is closing down. The Sydney-based company developed Sphere, a home automation computer which promised to offer a cheaper way of creating a smart home. It initially raised $702,937 on, six times the $115,000 sought, and also brought in $US700,000 from venture capital firms. However the production of the hardware ran overtime and over-budget.

    >}Sydney start-up Ninja Blocks is closing down}

    International News

    Assa Abloy takes on Flexim

    Assa Abloy has signed an agreement to acquire Flexim, a security systems provider and locksmith in Finland. The company didn't disclose the value of the deal but said the acquisition is "an important step" into the access control channel in the Nordic region.

    >}Assa Abloy buys Flexim}

    Trialling one-step paint

    As part of her furniture making business in Memphis, USA, Amy Howard created a one-step paint to help sustain and revive furniture. She believes her paint products can help reclaim furniture that is often being thrown away. Howard hopes to help build up family-owned hardware and paint stores and has launched a pilot program at 18 local Ace Hardware stores.

    >}Amy Howard's one-step paint is being trialled at Ace stores}

    PPG acquires Central American stores

    PPG Industries has acquired Consorcio Latinoamericano, which operates a network of 57 paint stores in Central America. With this acquisition, PPG will operate 87 company-owned stores across Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. It also plans to brand stores in Panama with the Glidden brand.

    >}PPG Industries buys Central American company}

    HomeAdvisor app for Apple Watch

    US home services website, HomeAdvisor has the developed the first Apple Watch app for the home services industry. It will help homeowners instantly connect to available local, screened, and rated home professionals for home repair and improvement projects.

    >}HomeAdvisor has the developed the first local home services app for Apple Watch}

    Valspar completes coatings buy

    The Valspar Corporation has concluded the acquisition of the coatings businesses of Quest Specialty Chemicals. It includes automotive refinish and industrial coatings. The acquired businesses had 2014 sales of approximately US$190 million.

    >}Valspar has completed its acquisition of the Quest Specialty Chemicals businesses}


    Hot links

    Another acquisition for ASSA ABLOY

    Sika's new adhesive has multiple applications and DIY retailer Praktiker begins turnaround

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. ASSA ABLOY acquires a Belgian manufacturer of sectional doors; Sika launches an extreme grab adhesive; a US patent has been awarded to kitchen supplier Glideware; a new Bluetooth bath fan from Home Netwerks is being sold through The Home Depot; and Praktiker experiences a 12.4% increase in sales. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    ASSA ABLOY purchases L-Door

    ASSA ABLOY has signed an agreement to acquire Belgian company L-Door, a maker of sectional doors. L-Door was established in 1997 and has around 120 employees. The head office and factory is located in Liedekerke, Belgium. Sales for 2015 are expected to reach 19million euros. The acquisition will be accretive to Earnings Per Share from the start, according to the company. The transaction is expected to close during Q2 2015.

    >}ASSA ABLOY acquires Belgian company L-Door}

    Extreme adhesive from Sika

    SikaBond Ultimate Grab is the latest product from Sika. It is a one-component, moisture-cure, instant grab, polyurethane adhesive used to bond a wide variety of interior and exterior construction materials. Ideal for vertical applications, the adhesive eliminates the need for nails and screws. The product is currently being rolled out at The Home Depot and other retailers throughout the US.

    >}SikaBond Ultimate Grab has been released in US stores}

    DIY speaker boxes

    Rockler Woodworking and Hardware's DIY Bookshelf Speaker Kits allows DIYers to have their own custom-built speakers. The kits include the audio and electrical components needed to wire a pair of speakers. Options range from solid wood to manufactured material like MDF that is painted or faced with a different veneer. Rockler also sells jigs that make it easy to add joinery details like splines, keys or dovetails.

    >}Rockler Woodworking and Hardware has launched a DIY Bookshelf Speaker Kits}

    Patent for Glideware

    Glideware, inventor of the extendable cabinet organiser, has been awarded its first US patent. It secures the design feature that has been recognition as the first authentic revolution in cabinet storage since soft close drawers. The company's "Hang. Don't stack." design ingenuity eliminates unruly piles of stored items, increases useable cabinet space, improves accessibility, and liberates users from endless restacking and disorganisation.

    >}Gildenware has been awarded its first US patent}

    Bluetooth bath fan

    The newest version of the Bluetooth bath fan from Home Netwerks features two stereo speakers, and LED lightS. It has a wall switch and a waterproof remote control with a suction cup wall mount so the user can skip or replay songs and adjust the volume of the speakers while in the shower.

    It includes the same Bluetooth connectivity as the original version and will automatically pair with a smart phone, tablet or laptop when in 30 feet of the speaker, after initial set-up.

    >}The newest version of the Bluetooth bath fan from Home Netwerks has been released}

    Praktiker 12.4% sales increase in Q1

    Romanian DIY retailer Praktiker ended the first quarter of 2015 with a 12.4% increase in sales. In 2014, it grew total sales approximately 3.2% compared to the previous year. This was the first year the retailer had a sales increase after four consecutive years of downward trends. There are currently 28 Praktiker stores throughout the country.

    >}Praktiker seems to be at the start of an upward trajectory}

    Home Centre expands UAE footprint

    Home Centre, a leading home retailer in the United Arab Emirates, has opened a new store in Ajman. Spanning 41,000 square feet, it is the retailer's 16th store in the UAE and 81st in its network across the Middle East, North Africa, Levant and Indian subcontinent. The latest showroom is the third opening in the UAE in recent times, following new stores in Al Ain and Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi in late 2014.

    >}Home Centre opens a new UAE store}

    Simplify shopping for contractors

    Bestimators is a US-based start-up that helps homeowners find home improvement contractors. It's a service that makes it easier for homeowners to shop for big ticket home improvement projects. For contractors, it provides an easy, low-cost way to bid and win new customers.

    The homeowner schedules an appointment and a Bestimator comes out to answer questions and take measurements. The specs are placed online so contractors that have been vetted can see them and bid. The site reviews bids and deliver them to the homeowner, who picks a winner. It captures a deposit until the job is complete.

    >}Bestimators helps homeowners find home improvement contractors}


    Interesting links

    Neta announces competition winners

    McPherson's completes acquisition of Home Appliances and Ace Hardware in Abu Dhabi

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Winners from Neta's Home Timber & Hardware Group promotion revealed; McPherson's completes Home Appliances buyout; Tradelink releases the latest products from Raymor for contemporary bathrooms; and Ace Hardware has a new store in Abu Dhabi. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Neta prize winners

    Neta congratulates three winners of its 2015 Home Timber & Hardware Group "Grow Your Garden Watering Business with Neta" voucher giveaway. The competition formed part of Neta's promotional campaign launched at the HTHG conference. The winning stores include:

  • First prize $1,000.00: Drysdale Home Timber & Hardware (VIC)
  • Runner up $250.00: Peterborough Home Timber & Hardware (SA)
  • Runner up $250.00: Shippys Thrifty Link Hardware (SA)
  • >}Nick and Konny Srour from Peterborough Home Timber & Hardware}

    >}Shippys Thrifty Link Hardware is another winner of the Neta competition}

    McPherson's fully owns Home Appliances

    Publicly listed consumer products company McPherson's has acquired the remaining minority shares in Home Appliances, owners of the Euromaid, Fagor and IAG brands, among others. As a result of the acquisition, Stephen Rorie has been appointed the division's new chief executive officer. McPherson's appliance business also includes the Baumatic, Lemair and Venini brands.

    >}McPherson's has fully acquired Home Appliances}

    Raymor products through Tradelink

    Raymor has a new range of products that will be available exclusively from Tradelink Plumbing Centres and Northern's Plumbing Supplies nationally. It includes Aruba freestanding curve baths, Sturt bath fillers with hand shower, and Salt vanities among many other products.

    >}Latest range of Raymor products distributed through Tradelink}

    International News

    Ace Hardware in Abu Dhabi

    Dalma Mall, a major shopping destination in Abu Dhabi, now has an Ace Hardware store. Ace was established in Dubai in 1991 by Al-Futtaim group and already has a presence across six locations in the UAE. This Ace store is a "lifestyle destination" which offers a products across categories such as outdoor lifestyle, gardening, homewares, paint, decor and DIY.

    >}Ace Hardware is now part of Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi}

    Expansion for green home improvement store

    TreeHouse, a Texas-based company that markets itself as a "sustainable home improvement" retailer, is eying expansion after 10 consecutive quarters of growth. It is seeking a fresh round of financing to fund expansion, and is scouting sites in Colorado as well as California, the Pacific Northwest and other Texas cities.

    >}Eco-friendly home improvement retailer Treehouse is looking to expand}

    Lowe's to eliminate pesticides

    Lowe's will stop selling a type of pesticide suspected of causing a decline in honeybee populations needed to pollinate key American crops. The class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, are sold by agrichemical companies to boost yields of staple crops but are also used widely on annual and perennial plants used in lawns and gardens.

    >}Lowe's announced it will stop selling harmful pesticides}

    Houzz moves into Russian market

    Online home improvement platform Houzz is entering the Russian market, backed by investment from Mail.Ru founder Yury Milner's DST Global. Market insiders consider this to be a timely decision because the growing Russian home and decor market is set to spill over onto the internet.

    >}Russia will have its own version of Houzz}

    Saudi hardware retailer public listing

    Popular DIY chain, Saudi Company for Tools and Hardware (SACO) has set the price for its 30% initial public offering at 70 riyals (US$18.70). The price means the retail and wholesale tools superstore will raise around 504 million riyals from its public float.

    >}Saudi Company for Tools and Hardware is preparing for its partial float}

    Web-enabled appliances from Microsoft and Miele

    Microsoft has partnered with Miele to leverage its IoT (Internet of Things) technologies to create smarter home appliances. Its collaboration centres around oven cooking.

    Miele and Microsoft have developed a website where users select recipes. Once selected, food preparation stages are downloaded to the user's smartphone or tablet and the matching program is loaded onto the oven through Microsoft Azure. The oven varies temperature, cooking time, humidity (by adding steam) and other factors to match the recipe.

    >}Miele and Microsoft are collaborating around oven cooking}


    NHS offers learning opportunities

    Speakers from North American Retail Hardware Association

    The National Hardware Show will host a number of seminars for independent store owners

    Generational buying patterns, succession planning and the effect shopping local has on the industry are just some of the topics that will be covered in a variety of seminars and presentations at the National Hardware Show next month. They will take place on the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village Stage. Bill Lee, NRHA's president and CEO said:

    NRHA is excited and proud to be able to bring this group of presenters to the show this year. We know how great a role the generational differences is playing, and will continue to play, throughout the home improvement marketplace and we wanted to address these topics head-on.

    The four generations most likely to be found in businesses, both among employees and customers, are the baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and the emerging Generation Z. Each is different, and it can take some time to understand the work ethics and lifestyle preferences associated with each.

    The speakers can offer some ideas on how to best relate to employees and customers of these different generations.

    The schedule of speakers during the event includes the following.

    Tuesday, May 5

    KEYNOTE: When generations connect

    Scott Zimmer, generational expert and keynote speaker, Bridgeworks

    This seminar will talk about the different generations of employees in stores today and how to best work with a team made up of multi-generational employees. Zimmer will use data and his expertise to offer ideas of how to turn this diversity into an opportunity that makes store staff stronger.

    Generational buying patterns in the home improvement industry

    Jim Robisch, senior partner, The Farnsworth Group

    Regardless of age, where consumers are shopping, and how they are shopping, continues to change. Robisch will present data that tells more about how different generations shop for and purchase home improvement products, and offer some ideas of how retailers can better reach out to these customers.

    Mobile marketing for the generations

    Pat Murphy, vice president of mobile relationship management, FunMobility, Inc.

    In 2015, millennials will outnumber baby boomers for the first time. This means retailers need to take another look at how they market to and engage with this new younger demographic. Learn more about how to engage online, through both the internet and different forms of social media, to better reach tech-savvy millennial customers.

    Wednesday, May 6

    PANEL: The next generation of independent owners

    Moderated by Scott Wright, executive director, Retail Leadership Institute, NRHA

    NRHA will explore the future of the independent home improvement industry by speaking with a panel of young owners who will discuss some of the key topics facing store owners today, as well as some best practices they are implementing. Wright said:

    This is the perfect opportunity for our store owners, especially the younger ones, to hear others talk about the different challenges and opportunities in the industry they see every day. They can also network and meet others their age who work in the same area to swap stories and share ideas.

    KEYNOTE: Home sweet home

    Presented By: Independent We Stand and NRHA

    Members of NRHA and Independent We Stand will reveal the results of a new joint research project that shows the financial impact independent home improvement businesses have on their local communities. Dan Tratensek, NRHA's vice president of publishing and publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine said:

    We're really excited to have a figure that accurately represents the impact independent home improvement stores have on their communities. We've long understood that independent home improvement retailers are central drivers to the communities they serve. Now we will have quantifiable evidence of just that.

    Succession planning in the home improvement industry

    Gary Pittsford, CFP(r), president, Castle Wealth Advisors

    As many home improvement store owners approach retirement age, it's more important than ever for them to make sure they have a good succession plan in place so they can ensure a strong future for their business. In this seminar, Pittsford will discuss the current state of succession planning and what business owners should do to start working on their own.


    New layout at National Hardware Show

    Event celebrates its 70th anniversary

    Floor plan changes are designed to make it easier to access new and popular areas

    Attendees will experience a new show floor at this year's National Hardware Show (NHS) which takes place May 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

    According to show organisers, Central Hall will now include the Homewares section, as well as the Inventors Spotlight, New Product World, International Sourcing Area, Plumbing & Electrical, PDRA Paint & Accessories Show, Lancaster Buying Show and the new three-day Outdoor Auction.

    South Hall will welcome the Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living section on Level 1, while Hardware & Tools, Pet Products, Farm & Ranch, Made in USA and an additional Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living area will be on Level 2.

    In addition, the Outdoors, Tailgate & Recreation section has moved to the outdoor area between the Central and South Halls and will provide access points from both halls. The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village & Stage has also moved to the show floor, in the Central Hall, near the tailgate area. NHS vice-president Rich Russo said:

    We're looking forward to providing vendors and retailers both a memorable and productive experience at this year's show. We hope that by moving some key categories to new spots on the show floor, it'll be easier for buyers to visit both new and returning exhibitors within their target product categories along with stopping at some of our popular show features.

    Show highlights

    A popular feature of the NHS is new products. The Inventors Spotlight area showcases products that have not been released on the market, making it easier to find products for sale or license. New Products World provides a look at the latest innovations and trends in the industry.

    For exhibitors, there are multiple programs that can get products additional exposure including the Canadian Tire Toolbox Challenge, the NHS Product Review and Vetting program and the DIY Network Product Submission program.

    There are also many educational opportunities for visitors. Independent retailers can take advantage of a variety of seminars on the NRHA Village & Stage. It has a lineup of interesting speakers and presentations. Greg Schlecht of Greg's True Value in St. Francis, Wisconsin said:

    The National Hardware Show invites me to think outside the box. It is enlightening for independent retailers to see what the world has to offer. In today's world, hardware stores, in addition to great customer service, must offer new niches and update our merchandise selection. It opens doors to new opportunities.

    The event provides a lot of opportunities to network with other industry professionals. From the New Product World awards to the NRHA Top Gun awards to the Lawn, Garden and Outdoor Living awards, there are also several programs recognising excellence within the home improvement industry.

    The NHS celebrates a rich history spanning 70 years of serving the home improvement marketplace. From its early beginnings in New York during the post-World War II housing boom and eventual move to Chicago in the 1970s, to today's current location in Las Vegas, the event has continually evolved.

    Today, the NHS is the place for global manufacturers, associations, organisations and media to unveil their new products, ideas and insight to a broad spectrum of home improvement resellers.


    Interesting links

    E&S Trading part of Reno Rumble

    Muji flagship store opening in Sydney and customers rate IKEA kitchen products

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. E&S Trading is partnering with Channel Nine's upcoming home renovation TV show Reno Rumble; international retailer Muji will open its Australian flagship store next month; IKEA kitchen cabinets rank highly in customer satisfaction; and like-for-like revenues increase 4.4% at Germany's Hornbach DIY stores in its last fiscal year. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Reno show features E&S Trading

    Victorian-based retailer, E&S Trading will be the official kitchen, bathroom and laundry products supplier for upcoming home renovation competition TV show, Reno Rumble. Other brands taking part include Miele, Smeg, Fisher & Paykel, ILVE, Electrolux, ASKO and Siemens.

    >}E&S Trading will take part in Reno Rumble on Channel Nine}

    Muji flagship in Sydney

    Muji's third store in Australia will open in Sydney's CBD next month. The retail giant has 610 stores globally and is found in 25 countries. The brand is known for eco-friendly basics with a no-frills, no-labels quality. It launched its first store at Chadstone Shopping Centre (VIC) in 2013 followed by Emporium Melbourne in April 2014.

    >}Japan's Muji will open a flagship store in Sydney in May}

    International News

    IKEA kitchen cabinets win again

    IKEA ranks highest with customers when it comes to kitchen cabinets for a second consecutive year, according to the US-based JD Power 2015 Kitchen Cabinet Satisfaction Study.

    The study measures customer satisfaction with kitchen cabinets by examining five factors (in alphabetical order): design features, operational performance, ordering and delivery, price, and warranty. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

    >}IKEA ranks highest in customer satisfaction with kitchen cabinets}

    Hornbach stores boost revenues

    Hornbach DIY stores increased their turnover by 6.5% to 3.357 billion euros in the past fiscal year, ending 28 February 2015. Revenues increased at its like-for-like stores by 4.4% (currency adjusted). The 97 DIY and garden centre stores in Germany turned over 1.966 billion euros, an increase of 7.6% from the same period, last year. Figures include sales from seven new stores.

    Turnover from the 49 stores outside Germany achieved an adjusted sales growth of 2.8%. In total, their turnover increased by 5.0% to 1.390 billion euros.

    >}Hornbach DIY stores increased their turnover by 6.5%}

    Redesigned mini bolt cutters

    The KNIPEX CoBolt mini bolt cutters' heavy-duty design incorporates etched blades that require less force to make cuts up 1/4". Constructed with patented micro-structured cutting edges, the tool is designed to stop thicker, round objects from slipping out during a cut. It can grip both round and flat objects.

    >}KNIPEX CoBolt mini bolt cutters have been redesigned}

    Affordable smart bulb

    LIFX, maker of the Kickstarter-funded smart bulb, has added a new value bulb to its Wi-Fi-enabled product offering. The White 800 can emit light ranging from rich warm to cool white, controllable via a mobile app. It also features 890 lumens (a 60-watt equivalent). As with other LIFX products, the White 800 features "Powered by LIFX" software and Cloud, which enables users to control the light from anywhere in the world.

    >}LIFX has added a new value bulb to its Wi-Fi-enabled product offering}


    Recruiting quality staff at B&Q

    Different approach leads to higher retention rates

    Developed a more effective, competency-based recruitment experience with Talent Q

    Each year, home improvement retailer B&Q receives 150,000 applications for customer advisor roles in its 360-store network in the UK. It hires 5,000 people. Jo Leggett, resourcing manager at B&Q said:

    Recruiting talented people who can advise customers and provide a friendly and efficient service is strategically important for us. We know that every applicant is a potential customer, so it is critical for us to provide a positive recruitment experience to all candidates, particularly those who might be unsuccessful in their application as we don't want to lose their future custom.
    We decided to replace our existing psychometric assessment with something that would be more engaging to complete and would help us to make better screening decisions.

    Assessment specialist Talent Q analysed the different requirements and success factors for B&Q's four customer advisor roles: service (checkout roles), support (warehouse roles), sales (home design consultants) and expert (ie. plumbers and electricians).

    The company then created "adaptive" situational judgement tests (SJTs) to help B&Q assess for the key competencies in each job. Leggett said:

    SJTs are commonly used to test applicants on how they'd handle typical workplace situations. However, most SJTs have fixed scenarios. In other words, every applicant sees the same situations.
    Talent Q has broken the mould here by creating adaptive SJTs for us. This is very innovative because all of the situations that each candidate encounters in our SJTs evolve. Different consequences arise, depending on their previous responses. The benefit is that we can assess key competencies and hone in on a candidate's behavioural tendencies in a more engaging and realistic way.

    Using a combination of photography, graphics and animation, in B&Q's brand style, the four SJTs depict realistic situations with customers and life within a store. Each takes 15-20 minutes to complete and the tests are integrated with Taleo, B&Q's applicant tracking system. Candidates complete the assessment online, prior to the telephone interview stage of the selection process.

    Talent Q also created realistic job previews (RJPs), for each customer advisor role. Potential candidates can go through these interactive job previews on B&Q's careers site, to get a clearer sense of what each role entails before submitting an online application. Leggett said:

    The four RJPs are aligned to our culture and values. Each shows a series of scenarios that give an insight into what it would be like to work in these roles. The applicants are asked multiple-choice questions and they get instant feedback on their responses. This process helps them to decide firstly whether they'd enjoy working in the B&Q environment, and secondly which role is most appropriate for them. It also helps us to create a good impression and build a rapport with people before we meet them.

    A validation study examining the competency-based performance ratings of 1,077 new customer advisors has confirmed that B&Q is now appointing better calibre recruits who are achieving their targets and who are more competent in the role. Leggett said:

    It shows that a high score on the SJT correlates with high performance in the role, as judged by the individual's line manager. This means that our new SJTs can predict performance and success in the role.
    They've also enabled us to reduce the average time it takes to complete an application by 20 minutes. This is a significant time saving and it means more candidates are now completing their application in one sitting.
    On top of that, our store managers say we're now recruiting people who are better suited to our business, have a better understanding of the role, are more customer-orientated and are staying with us longer.

    James Beevers, head of professional services at Talent Q, said:

    The complex interaction between people, managers, colleagues and organisations means that there's no such thing as perfect recruitment. But B&Q has reduced the risk of hiring the wrong people, by understanding the requirements of the role, showing the realities of the job and building predictive assessments that are aligned to the required competencies.
    The new SJTs are cutting-edge and visually engaging assessments that assess each candidate very quickly. They also provide an entertaining and informative insight into what it's really like to work in the roles. As a result, B&Q has not only speeded up its application process and improved the candidate experience, it is also making better selection decisions.

    Interesting links

    Lend Lease six-star housing estate

    Upward trend for renovations and app for tradies to help manage their careers

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. The Lend Lease Alkimos Beach development in Perth has been awarded Australia's first six-star Green Star rating for a housing project; research by Winning Appliances shows renos are on the rise; industry body launches free training app for local tradies; PPG's Sikkens wood finishes is changing its name; and Sika makes an acquisition. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Residential project earns six-star rating

    A joint venture between Lend Lease and LandCorp, Alkimos Beach is a 710-hectare master-planned community which has gained a six-star Green Star rating. The project includes smart-water initiatives and fibre-to-the-premises internet to help people work from home. Rebates and financial incentives will be given to new residents to encourage use of energy-efficient appliances and solar panels.

    >}Lend lease project, Alkimos Beach has gained a six-star Green Star rating}

    Appliances research shows more renos

    Sixty-six per cent of Australian homeowners are planning to renovate their homes in the next four years, according to research from Galaxy that was commissioned by Winning Appliances. Broken down, 28% of those homeowners expect to get their hands dirty in the next 12 months and 57% are planning an upgrade down the track in one to four years.

    Winning Appliances' Renovation Intention Study was conducted by Galaxy among 1,636 Australians nationwide, aged 18 to 64 years.

    >}Winning Appliances commissioned a renovation study}

    Tradies get training app

    Construction Skills Queensland has launched myCSQ, a new app which lets tradies keep track of their careers and work experience from their phones. It has a number of features to help tradies track their training and build their resumes using their phone. They can send a resume to prospective employers, request an endorsement, and tag their status, skills and location.

    >}The myCSQ app lets tradies keep track of their careers}

    International News

    Sears hardware struggles in Q4

    Sears Hometown and Outlet, the franchise-model hardware retail company that spun from Sears Holdings in 2012, posted a comparable store sales decline of 7.7% in its fourth quarter. It. Operating income swung to negative $9.7 million, compared with positive $7.8 million in the same quarter last year.

    >}Sears Hometown and Outlet posted a comp-store sales decline of 7.7% in Q4}

    PPG changes Sikkens name

    PPG's exterior wood finishes brand is changing its name from Sikkens to Sikkens Proluxe. The product formulation will not change. The newly labelled product will be available at approximately 700 major home centres and more than 1,200 independent dealer locations across the United States and Canada.

    >}PPG's Sikkens brand has changed to Sikkens Proluxe}

    Sika acquires Axson Technologies

    Sika has agreed to purchase Axson Technologies, a maker of epoxy and polyurethane polymer formulations. It supplies the automotive, aeronautical, nautical, renewable energy, sports & leisure and construction markets. This acquisition will broaden Sika's product range in the global tooling and composites business.

    >}Sika has agreed to purchase Axson Technologies}

    Spraymate integrated into Rust-Oleum

    RPM International has acquired Spraymate, a leading spray paint for consumer and industrial use in South Africa. Spraymate will become part of RPM's Rust-Oleum Group. Spraymate has annual net sales of about US$5 million, but is not sold in the United States. The transaction is expected to contribute to earnings within one year.

    >}RPM's Rust-Oleum has acquired Spraymate Group}

    Self-cleaning paint created

    Researchers at University College London, Imperial College London, and Dalian University have succeeded in making a superhydrophobic paint that can coat various materials and survives damage.

    Superhydrophobic materials are self-cleaning because they repel water so strongly, that any water that hits them just beads and rolls off, taking dirt away with it. The researchers have tested their paint on various materials, including steel, glass, cotton, and paper, and all of them became self-cleaning.

    >}A superhydrophobic paint has been created that can coat various materials}

    Electrolux appliances get "smart"

    Electrolux AB is attempting to build an intelligent home around its appliances. The Swedish company will start selling an oven that downloads instructions on how a roast should be cooked from a recipe app. It films the job too, so home chefs can keep one eye on the process on a screen while entertaining guests.

    Jan Brockmann, chief operations officer at Electrolux, said 2015 may be the year when appliances finally get smart after decades of false starts. He's predicting they'll make up 10% of the market in five years' time, from less than 1% today.

    >}The Electrolux smart oven will be able to film cooking jobs}


    Interesting links

    The world according to Gerry Harvey

    Canadian hardware retailers singled out for performance and new PPG paint range

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey credits staff for the company's strong financial performance post-GFC; Canada's Home Hardware is one of the country's "best managed" companies; North American winter helps deliver better-than-expected results for Canadian Tire; PPG Industries releases new range of colours in its architectural coatings business; and latest faucet designs from TOTO. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    A profile of Gerry Harvey

    Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey was recently interviewed in Business Spectator. When asked about bigger margins the company is experiencing, Harvey replied, "I'd like to think it's because we're doing a better job in the store in terms of the merchandising...the quality of people that we employ, the time we spend with our people." (You can read it via Appliance Retailer).

    >}Gerry Harvey spoke on a range of topics in a recent interview}

    International News

    Well-managed hardware company

    Home Hardware Stores Ltd is has been named one of Canada's "Best Managed Companies" for the third year in a row. Applications for the award are reviewed by an independent judging panel that evaluates how companies address various business challenges such as new technologies, brand management, leadership and hiring the right talent to facilitate growth.

    >}Home Hardware is one of Canada's "Best Managed Companies"}

    Profit result at Canadian Tire

    Canadian Tire saw profits rise 8% to C$206.6 million in the three months ended January 31 from C$191 million in the same period last year. Overall revenue rose 9% to c$3.65 billion, up from C$3.33 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013. Same-store sales increased 2.8% in the company's core retail division thanks to high demand for winter tires.

    >}Canadian Tire made solid fourth quarter gains}

    Installing concealed hinges

    Rockler Woodworking and Hardware has introduced a line of jigs and templates to simplify installation of Euro-style concealed hinges. The JIG IT Deluxe Concealed Hinge Drilling System allows users of almost any skill level to install concealed cabinet hinges with just a hand drill and a few specialty bits.

    >}A new line of jigs from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware}

    Spring/summer shades from SICO

    PPG Industries has unveiled nature-infused, rich floral colours through its line of SICO paints, a brand of PPG Architectural Coatings. Its top colours for spring and summer 2015 include Impetuous Blue, Ningxia Pink, Dynastic Orange, Blueberry Flower, Dark Lemon, Cotton Flower, Stainless Steel, Cayman Blue, Sargasso Sea and Aperitif. PPG Industries is bringing the back-to-nature trend in home decor with the new range.

    >}PPG Industries has released rich floral colours through its SICO line of paints}

    TOTO launches latest designs

    Three new Oberon faucet designs from TOTO feature durable metal bodies and ceramic disk mixing cartridges. These WaterSense labelled faucets consume just over five litres per minute without sacrificing performance. TOTO is the world's largest manufacturer of bathroom fixtures and fittings with US$5.1 billion dollars in annual sales.

    >}TOTO releases new Oberon faucet designs} launches new app has launched a new mobile app, which will help home improvement experts manage job requests on the go. The app is designed to help contractors manage the expected increase in projects during the North Amercian spring/summer seasons, by giving them the tools to view inbound job requests and reply to them from their phone.

    >} has launched a new mobile app}

    Online advice for home improvement

    Aaron Patzer founded and sold Mint, a free online financial management web service, to Intuit for US$170 million. Now he has launched Fountain, a "micro-consulting" marketplace that enables users to get expert advice immediately through their smartphones using mobile video, voice and text. It currently focuses solely on home and garden issues. Fountain enables users to draw on pictures to highlight specific areas of concern.

    >}Fountain is a "micro-consulting" marketplace for home improvement}


    Interesting links

    DeWalt renews football sponsorship

    Dick Smith tipping sales growth and March roll-out of zero-turn mowers from Husqvarna

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. DeWalt is continuing its partnership with Richmond football club for the 2015 season; Dick Smith is forecasting a full-year profit growth of 3 to 5% this year; Sustainable and technology concepts on show at DesignBUILD 2015; and Husqvarna has developed a new range of residential, zero-turn riding mowers. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    DeWalt remains with Richmond

    Power tool brand DeWalt will engage with Richmond fans in 2015 through its digital channels and match-day activations. DeWalt managing director Adrian Davis said: "We feel we have a close fit with Richmond -- not only do we share the famous yellow and black colours, we share a philosophy in the way we go about our businesses...For us, this is a partnership that makes sense."

    >}(l&r) Richmond FC CEO Brendon Gale and DeWalt managing director Adrian Davis}

    Sales growth at Dick Smith

    Electronics retailer Dick Smith forecast a 10% rise in sales growth this year, following a slight rise in first-half profit in a result that was dragged down by weakness in its New Zealand arm. For the 26 weeks ended 28 December 2014, Dick Smith posted a 0.8% rise in net profit to $25.2 million. Same-store sales were up 2% and overall sales growth -- driven by 11 store openings -- grew 8.9% to $693.8 million.

    >}Dick Smith aims to have 400 stores in Australia and New Zealand by the end of June}

    Tech, sustainability at DesignBUILD

    The latest products and technologies in sustainable building will be displayed at DesignBUILD 2015. The event returns to the Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park and will be held from April 28 to 30, 2015. This year, it will feature DesignBUILD Interiors and a new technology display area called Luminova, named after its creators.

    >}International exhibitors from 14 countries will be at DesignBUILD 2015}

    International News

    Husqvarna Z200 zero-turn mowers

    Husqvarna has released a series of residential, zero-turn riding mowers bearing the Z200 model number. The latest models bring improved ergonomics, operating features and deck options including SmartSwitch technology, an interface capable of one-touch starting, real-time feedback and keyless security.

    >}Husqvarna's Z200 range mowers are scheduled to hit retail stores in March}

    Granite Gold at Lowe's

    The Granite Gold range of cleaners, polishes and disinfecting wipes are now available in Lowe's stores throughout the US. Granite Gold is the creation of cousins Lenny Sciarrino and Lenny Pellegrino, whose grandfather moved to the US in the 1950s, bringing with him a high level of expertise in the stone industry that he passed on to generations.

    >}The Granite Gold range is now available at Lowe's}

    Home Depot offering JCB excavators

    JCB will now supply its 8029 and 8018 compact excavators through 1,015 Compact Power Equipment Rental stores, located in Home Depot outlets. The alliance came about after a test program of the excavators in 2014, in which Home Depot evaluated the machines, along with aftermarket sales and service support. Following the trial, the excavators will be featured at select Home Depot Pro Days events.

    >}JCB compact excavators are available through Home Depot}

    Mirka lightweight sander

    The Deros sander plugs into a 110v power supply and offers the performance of a conventional 500w electric machine, even under heavy load, according to the manufacturer. It has a closed construction, which prevents dust entering the motor, avoiding typical wear and tear damage experienced by electric machines.

    >}The low profile design keeps the user's hand close to the surface that needs to be sanded}


    Interesting links

    Zara opens homewares store in Melbourne

    ctisafe helps keep workshops tidy and clutter-free; and Valspar's UK campaign begins

    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Fast fashion giant Zara launches homewares store at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne; Actisafe parts storage systems can be customised for the user; Australian-based online homewares store aims for $50 million revenue; Valspar Paint launches in the UK; and online plant offer from Homebase. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Homewares market expands with Zara

    International fast fashion retailer Zara has opened its first Australian bricks-and-mortar store in Melbourne's Highpoint Shopping Centre. Industry experts say established larger players such as Harvey Norman and IKEA, as well as smaller independent competitors, who will face pressure long term.

    >}Zara's homewares store in Melbourne's Highpoint Shopping Centre}

    Parts storage for workshops

    Actisafe offers a parts storage solution for workshops to organise their tools, parts and components. The open configuration facilitated by the modular-style storage units means a clear view of the tools for workers who can easily detect missing tools, or replenish parts. Actisafe is a recognised supplier for the defence industry.

    >}Actisafe has a parts storage solution for workshops to organise their tools}

    Growth for online homewares store

    Web-based homewares retailer Temple & Webster was launched in 2011 by Brian Shanahan and his co-founders. Shanahan was formerly chief financial officer of eBay Australia and managing director of Gumtree International. The subscription-based online retailer turned over $28 million in the 2014 calendar year and hopes to reach $50 million in revenue in 2015.

    >}Web-based retailer Temple & Webster hopes to reach $50 million in revenue in 2015}

    International News

    Valspar Paint enters UK market

    Valspar Paint has encouraged a change in attitude towards paint and colour, and to '"Colour outside the lines", as it launches in the UK. With help from agency FCB Inferno, the North American paint company is positioning itself as a challenger in the market with a campaign spanning TV, website, online banners and social media.

    >}Valspar Paint is launching the brand in the UK market}

    Benjamin Moore wins consumer award

    Paint brand Benjamin Moore's Natura and INSL-X GarageGuard have each been named 2015 Product of the Year, in a consumer-voted award for product innovation. Winners are selected by the votes of 40,000 US-based consumers in a survey conducted by global research company, TNS. Natura and GarageGuard have taken home the top honours for the paint category.

    >}Benjamin Moore's Natura and INSL-X GarageGuard have been recognised for their innovation}

    ECHOtape available on

    Tape supplier, ECHOtape's full repair line will now be sold online by through Launched in 2014, the range provides contractors with an alternative to duct tapes, and is designed to deliver solutions for repairs, sealing and waterproofing. The products include three types of repair tapes with different colour options.

    >}ECHOtape's repair line is being be sold online through}

    Homebase selling plants online

    UK's Homebase is expanding its online offer to include thousands of plants from March 2015. Larger plants will be available for home delivery. The retailer is also launching a new garden power brand, Sovereign. It has 19 products including a 24v cordless mower which charges in 1.5 hours and cuts up to 250sqm of lawn on a single charge.

    >}UK's Homebase will sell plants online from March 2015}

    Electric boilers through entu

    Flowgroup has signed a deal with UK home improvement group entu which allows it to sell, install and maintain Flowgroup's boiler and market its home energy offer. The domestic boiler can generate electricity and reduce household power bills. Manchester-based Entu was founded in 2008 and achieved revenues for 2013 of Stg 95 million. It represents a portfolio of 10 energy efficiency brands.

    >}Flowgroup's domestic boiler can generate electricity and reduce household power bills}

    Smart home company sold to British Gas

    British Gas is buying AlertMe in a deal that values the business at Stg 65 million. British Gas already owned a 21% stake in the company and is set to pay Stg 44 million for the remainder.

    AlertMe creates smart home technology that allows people to control and monitor everything from heating to CCTV on their smartphone or tablet. It works with a range of other businesses including home improvement chain Lowe's.

    >}British Gas is buying smart home company AlertMe}


    Interesting links

    Kiama council buys Mitre 10 site

    Victorian branch of Habitat for Humanity provides homes and intelligent retail shelving product

    The Kiama Supply Co Mitre 10 building has been purchased by local council; Habitat for Humanity donates homes to Crib Point families in Victoria; a range of Bluetooth-controlled LED lights have been launched in Australia; Panasonic introduces its Powershelf(r) product; and Sandvik invests in 3D technology. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Mitre 10 building bought by council

    Kiama Municipal Council in NSW has confirmed the purchase of the Kiama Supply Co Mitre 10 building. Council paid $3.4 million for the property at 100 Terralong Street and a rear parcel of land where the store is located. Council general manager Michael Forsyth said the land was bought "for long-term, strategic town centre planning".

    >}Kiama Supply Co Mitre 10 building now owned by council}

    Yeelight for smart homes

    A range of smart lighting products from Chinese company Yeelink has come into the Australian market with two Bluetooth-controlled LED Yeelights. The fourth largest smartphone maker in the world, Xiaomi is one of the backers of Chinese company, Yeelink that makes the lights. The exclusive Australian distributor is broadband specialist PCRange which has branched into home automation.

    >}Chinese company Yeelink has launched a range of smart LED lights in Australia}

    Habitat for Humanity donation

    A recent event saw Habitat for Humanity which builds houses for people in need, hand over the keys to homes in Crib Point (VIC). Habitat for Humanity peninsula branch secretary Mavis Peet paid tribute to the 35 volunteers - backed by tradies - who built the homes. She said builders Gilpip Homes and local electrician Mark Carmody played pivotal roles in getting the homes built.

    >}A Victorian branch of Habitat for Humanity recently completed homes for families in Crib Point}

    International News

    Intelligent retail shelving

    Panasonic introduced its Powershelf(r) product at the National Retail Federation event in New York. Powershelf is the first fully integrated retail merchandising solution to combine battery-free, wirelessly powered electronic shelf labels (ESLs), beacon activated mobile advertising capability, inventory and price management software and out-of-stock sensor technology. It can be installed on existing shelving units.

    >}Panasonic launched its Powershelf product at NRF 2015}

    Sandvik pushes 3-D printing

    High tech engineering company Sandvik is boosting research spending on 3D printing as it expands capabilities in a market set to grow ninefold to US$21 billion in a decade. The company will unify 3D initiatives across the business and examine how the technology can be used in its production of everything from mining drill rigs to fuel tubes for nuclear power plants.

    >}Sandvik is boosting research spending on 3D printing}

    DIY hub for Millennials

    Publishing giant Time Inc. debuted its new website, The Snug, which will be a dedicated decor and DIY "social hub" for Millennials. It will aggregate content from several Time Inc. brands including InStyle, People, Real Simple, Southern Living and This Old House. The company recruited Ikea US as its exclusive launch partner, a deal that was secured for six months and will include native ad content throughout the site.

    >}The Snug is a dedicated decor and DIY "social hub" for Millennials}

    UK home owners renovate than move

    An overwhelming majority (94%) of UK homeowners would rather spend money improving their current home than sell up and move on, according to new research. Despite the reduction in stamp duty and 0.7% rise in house prices, 49% of respondents plan to stay put and renovate in 2015, and are happy to spend over Stg5,500 doing so.

    >}A majority of UK homeowners prefer to renovate than move}


    Affordable green homes

    A builders group adds sustainability to average homes

    The Independent Builders Network currently has membership of around 145 professionals

    Independent Builders Network (IBN) is working to provide packages for green homes targeting the lower end of the housing market. Its work of can be seen in a demonstration, InsulLiving home launched at the end of last year at Wallan, about an hour north of Melbourne.

    Built by Marcel Mott of DTC Family Builders, the home uses prefabricated InsulPanel and SolarSpan, marketed as 100% recyclable. It replaces framing, rafters, brickwork or cladding, internal plaster board, ceiling liner board and insulation with a single product.

    Because prefabricated products are quick to erect and require fewer trades on site, IBN spokesman Tim Renwick said the speed of construction can translate into immediate savings for buyers.

    The wall panels have a BlueScope steel shell and a polystyrene infill with pre-installed channels for services and electrical cabling. Roof panels are COLORBOND above the insulative core with steel on the inner face. Both products are rated 29 for Bushfire Attack Level, making them suitable for Ember Attack Zones such as Wallan.

    They are fully recyclable at end of life, and are manufactured using non-toxic raw materials. All waste from the cutting of panels to size on site is also recycled.

    Other sustainability features include light coloured roofs and standard items such as LED lighting, solar hot water, double-glazed windows, rainwater capture and reuse, purple pipe grey water reticulation for toilet flushing, and low VOC paints.

    The Wallan home also showcases an Australian-made solar skylight for interior lighting. The Illume skylights do not require an electrician to wire them in, and can be used for in-board rooms and small spaces such as butler's pantries. They can also create window-like daylighting in a party wall.

    They skylights can be hard-wired into a domestic solar generation system feeding into the grid and home circuits, providing night lighting as well.

    Promoting green methods

    Renwick says IBN is training its members in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in the InsulLiving products and method, as well as other sustainability-enhancing aspects.

    IBN members encourage home buyers to install photovoltaic systems, which, in combination with the other initiatives, can achieve close to zero net energy use. These lifecycle and financial benefits are being pitched to potential buyers. Renwick said:

    The most effective way to promote green building is presenting the consumer with solutions to a financial problem. They have the cost of the house and land, and then they have the budget they will need to live in it, and we are trying to push that side of the equation with buyers.
    If we say, 'This [energy-saving item] is standard in the cost, and your energy bills will be lessened by X amount,' that makes sense. People do want to be green, but they don't want it to cost more.

    The products have been tested by organisations such as the Queensland University of Technology, which also conducted a Living Energy Rating of the first completed InsulLiving home in Burpengarry on the Sunshine Coast (QLD).

    The research found that the house used 48% less electricity than the average home in south-east in Queensland. It provided thermal comfort without mechanical heating or cooling for 87% of the year, and had an effective NatHERS rating of 9.5 stars.

    Another InsulLiving home built in Tasmania, where heating is a priority for much of the year, showed that the occupants reduced their annual power bills for heating and cooling from $1200 to $500 a quarter compared to their previous home.


    In addition to promoting eco-homes, IBN aims to provide a lower cost option in comparison to major volume builders.

    Being part of the network means builders can benefit from sharing knowledge about products, methods, marketing and research, as well as supplier arrangements for key products.

    The IBN was founded in 2009 by Kevin Renwick, former owner and chief executive of Hotondo, one of the world's largest building franchises. Hotondo constructed the first green home for Sustainable Energy Australia, under the direction of meteorologist Rob Gel, in 1993. The experience from that initial project shaped IBN's approach.

    Renwick estimates the network's members currently construct a combined total of between 500 and 700 homes a year, and hopes this number will grow with uptake of the eco-homes. He said:

    If we made five per cent of all new homes being built in Australia net zero, imagine what a massive difference that would make to the national carbon footprint.

    Interesting links

    Former Block contestants launch home decor business

    RectorSeal buys Evo-Crete and PolySlab brands and Ace Hardware's sponsors golfer

    Reality TV duo, Max and Karstan from The Block Glasshouse have started a home design business; US company RectorSeal Corp. is the new owner of Australian Evo-Crete and PolySlab brands; first-ever sports sponsorship from Ace Hardware; paint-and-primer product from PPG's Sico brand; and a digital lock for luggage. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    The Block couple move on

    After gaining just $40,000 profit for their work on The Block, Newcastle couple Max and Karstan have launched Poppy Smith Design. The business venture focuses on home decor and concrete planters. Using social media, their official Instagram feed boasts almost three thousand followers in just three weeks. It features an array of images from their handmade range of planters.

    Their earnings of $40,000 from their time on The Block is a minuscule amount compared to the $736,000 pocketed by previous winners Steve and Chantelle.

    >}The Block couple Max and Karstan have a new home decor business}

    RectorSeal acquires HVAC brands

    US manufacturer RectorSeal Corp., has bought the Evo-Crete and PolySlab brands from Queensland HVAC equipment manufacturer, Evolve Group. The acquisition coincides with the formation of RectorSeal Australia which will market the two brands in Australia and New Zealand. Rectorseal is based in Houston, Texas and produces over 350 specialty products to the HVAC and plumbing markets.

    >}Local brands Evo-Crete and PolySlab are now owned by US-based RectorSeal}

    Colour changing film

    E Ink Holdings has a product that will allow architects and interior designers to bring design elements to life. Prism is a colour changing film that can be integrated with architectural products to change colours, patterns and habitats. Differentiating itself from paint or digital displays, it has a paint-like appearance but can be programmed to change automatically in response to external stimulus. Users can change the colour of a wall, ceiling panel or an entire room with the flip of a switch.

    >}Prism from E Ink Holdings is a colour changing film for architects and interior designers}

    International News

    Ace's first-ever sports sponsorship

    Ace Hardware has a multi-year sponsorship with PGA Tour golfer Hunter Mahan. This marks the first time the retail co-op has sponsored an active, professional athlete. It secures Ace as Mahan's exclusive home improvement retailing sponsor. The sponsorship of Mahan will include his appearance in its "Golf Swing Away" TV advertising spot, which will begin airing in April to promote Ace's free store pickup program.

    >}Ace is golfer Hunter Mahan's exclusive home improvement retailing sponsor}

    Vibrant Muse paint

    Muse is a paint-and-primer-in-one product from Sico that features a touch resist technology that gives colour surfaces richness and depth while providing strong resistance to scratches, marks and stains. With the tagline "Inspired by the grandeur of your ideas," it was introduced to meet increasing consumer demand for high-quality, long-lasting colour-infused paint. Sico is a brand from PPG Architectural Coatings in the US.

    >}Sico's Muse paint is a paint-and-primer-in-one product}

    Insteon's connected-home footprint

    Home automation brand Insteon had a banner year of 40% revenue growth, as a result of the expansion of its retail distribution, consumer electronics (CE) partnerships and integration of its home-control technology onto today's top mobile platforms. Insteon products are available in at home improvement retailers such as Menards, Home Depot and

    >}Hardware retailer Menards added version 2.0 of Insteon's flagship hub}

    Nortek's plan for GoControl

    Nortek Security is preparing the GoControl name to gain high level brand recognition. The GoControl moniker has actually been around for years under 2GIG. So when Nortek was looking for a powerful name to use for its DIY thermostats, security systems, light switches, LED bulbs, electrical outlets and upcoming leak detection systems and driveway sensors, GoControl seemed to have an ideal fit.

    The company unveiled a line of GoControl programmable thermostats at CES 2015. The first products from this range will be available beginning March 2015.

    >}The GoControl range of programmable thermostats will be available in March 2015}

    Grafton reports rise in 2014 revenue

    DIY and building group Grafton has posted a 9.5% increase in revenue to Stg2.08 billion (2.64 billion euros) for 2014, compared to Stg1.90 billion (2.41 billion euros) a year earlier. The company is based in the UK and Ireland and operates the Woodie's DIY chain. It reported favourable trading conditions for the final quarter of last year with positive momentum from a sustained recovery in the Irish and British economies. This led to an increased demand in the residential repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) and new build markets.

    >}Grafton Group operates the Woodie's DIY chain}

    Smart luggage lock

    A new digital lock allows travellers to lock and unlock their suitcase with a swipe of their iPhone. The eGeeTouch lock, from US company Digipas, claims to have a hassle-free alternative to normal locks and keys, offering increased security because users will need a specific smartphone or tablet to use it. The lock uses NFC (Near Field Communications) to operate; a feature that is compatible with most smartphones.

    >}The eGeeTouch lock allows travellers to open their suitcase with a swipe of their iPhone}


    Interesting links

    Beaumont Tiles owner profiled

    More renovation reality shows planned and ASSA ABLOY makes Chinese acquisition

    A day in the life of Bob Beaumont, managing director at Beaumont Tiles; the Nine and Seven television networks have new DIY renovation shows for 2015; ASSA ABLOY acquires a Chinese lock company; Home Depot buys HD Supply Hardware Solutions; and PPG coatings samples for professional end-users. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Bob Beaumont tells his story

    Bob Beaumont describes how he built a $200 million family business based on selling tiles. He reveals that he learnt much of what he knows about entrepreneurship from his dad. Beaumont's father, RJ Beaumont, established Beaumont Tiles in 1960 at the age of 50, after chatting to one of the tradesmen who was tiling his house. Fast-forward to 2014, the company recently opened its 100th store and employs over 800 people.

    >}Bob Beaumont shares his thoughts on running a family-owned, retail business with SmartCompany}

    Reno reality shows coming up

    The Herald Sun reports a TV show will start production in Melbourne called Renovation Rumble, featuring former stars of The Block and House Rules. The new format is expected to air on Channel 9 in between two series of The Block in 2015. The Block and House Rules contestants are expected to go up against each other in renovation challenges. Seven is also planning two series of House Rules.

    >}Both Channel Nine and Seven have new renovation reality shows in the works}

    International News

    China locks part of ASSA ABLOY

    ASSA ABLOY has signed an agreement to acquire Digi Electronic Lock, a Chinese digital door lock manufacturer. Its products are made under the Keylock brand. Johan Molin, ASSA ABLOY president and CEO said in a statement: "Digi Electronic Lock is another strategic step in our expansion into new growth segments in China and other emerging markets." The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close during Q4 2014.

    >}ASSA ABLOY buys Chinese lock company}

    Home Depot buys HD Supply

    Home Depot will acquire HD Supply Hardware Solutions from its former HD Supply unit for an undisclosed sum. HD Supply provides business hardware, fasteners, ropes and chains, mainly to Home Depot, which accounts for 98% of the company's sales. It is among the largest US wholesale distributors of heavy duty, infrastructure, maintenance, repair and specialty construction products.

    >}Home Depot has agreed to acquire HD Supply Hardware Solutions}

    PPG's coatings samples

    PPG Industries has started providing 10-by-10-inch paper colour samples of 10 popular Duranar coatings on its US-based web portal, "". This is to assist designers and architects who prefer large colour samples to match more closely with actual metal panels. Additionally, the company is offering 3-by-3-inch sample metal plates in 90 other colours for designers and architects.

    >}PPG's latest samples cater to the needs of its professional end-users}

    BuildDirect raises US$50 million

    Canadian startup BuildDirect has attracted US$50 million in fresh financing. The company raised the new money from current and existing investors including Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Canadian investment firms OMERS Ventures and BMO Capital Markets. BuildDirect will use the money to expand its technology for its website and applications connecting buyers with product manufacturers, designers, trade craftsmen and shippers.

    >}BuildDirect has gained an US$50 million in funding from investors}

    US bolting specialist bought by Atlas Copco

    Industrial supplier Atlas Copco has agreed to acquire Titan Technologies International, a provider of powerful bolting tools primarily to the oil and gas industries. US-based Titan Technologies is privately owned and also sells hydraulic torque wrenches, pumps and accessories. The business will become part of the Chicago Pneumatic Tools division.

    >}Atlas Copco has agreed to acquire Titan Technologies}

    Sony launches Qrio Smart Lock

    Sony has launched a campaign for its Qrio Smart Lock, a device it says is the smallest of its kind, allowing users to open their doors with their smartphones and share encrypted keys with friends via messaging apps like Line and Facebook. Launching the Qrio as a crowdfunding campaign is part of Sony's new initiative to bring back the pioneering spirit that defined the company in previous decades.

    >}Sony has launched a crowdfunding campaign for its Qrio Smart Lock}

    Smart home at CES 2015

    Smart-home products were on broad display at various venues across Las Vegas at CES 2014. At the forthcoming CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the smart home will have its own dedicated exhibit space as part of a new convention area in the Sands Hotel dubbed Tech West. It is another indicator of the smart home category's proliferation this past year.

    >}CES 2015 will prominently feature smart home products}

    Tool e-retailer offers financing

    UK-based e-commerce tool specialist Toolstop has partnered with V12 Retail Finance to offer its customers more options when making online purchases. It has offered finance to its customers for the past five years, but since teaming up with V12 it no longer requires a customer deposit and can offer six or 12 months' interest-free credit and buy-now-pay-later options.

    >}UK's Toolshop operates from a 60,000sqft warehouse}


    Interesting links

    Amazon could open a local warehouse

    Masters Builders Australia announces annual winners and Home Depot facing lawsuits

    Speculation of a possible Amazon warehouse to be built in Queensland; Lend Lease and Touchstone Construction win building awards; CEO role at Brevilles opens up; Godfreys going for an IPO; and Home Depot says it is facing at least 44 civil lawsuits from its data breach.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Oz warehouse for Amazon?

    According to a New Zealand-based report, a mid-sized 50,000sqm Amazon fulfillment centre may be built in Queensland. The investment would mean cheaper and faster deliveries for customers ordering goods from Amazon. It will inevitably shake up the online shopping market in Australian and New Zealand. Amazon continues to face accusations that it has an unfair tax advantage.

    Rob Norman, New-York based chief digital officer at advertising media giant GroupM, fuelled these concerns during a speech at a conference in Australia recently, when he forecast the possible investment could pose a major threat to local online retailers. Norman told Stuff NZ that he had been told Amazon was looking for a site for a fulfillment centre in Brisbane, but stressed that was hearsay.

    >}An Amazon fulfillment centre may be built in Queensland}

    Best builders' announced

    Master Builders Australia have announced Lend Lease and Touchstone Construction Services as the country's best builders for 2014. It awarded them the two top prizes at the National Excellence in Building and Construction Awards. Chosen from over 1,000 construction companies, Lend Lease and Touchstone received the National Commercial Master Builder of the Year and National Residential Master Builder of the Year, respectively.

    >}Touchstone Construction Services names top builder by MBA}

    Breville searching for new CEO

    Breville has confirmed to Appliance Retailer the impending departure of general manager Jeremy Sargeant. He will leave the company on 28 December 2014 to take up a new role outside the industry. Sargeant joins former CEO Jack Lord as a recent high ranking exit from the business. Replacing Sargeant as general manager will be Mark O'Kelly. In addition to its own brand, Breville distributes Kambrook and some Philips and Nespresso appliances.

    >}New CEO needed at Breville}

    Godfreys heads for IPO

    Vacuum cleaning specialist, Godfreys is planning a $77.7 million stock market listing. It is offering more than 28 million shares priced at $2.75 each. The stock is expected to make its debut on the market on December 15, 2014. Godfreys has 209 stores across Australia and New Zealand. Chairman, Rod Walker said the stock market listing signals the next phase of expansion for the business.

    >}Godfreys plans a stock market listing}

    Mental health help for builders

    The Housing Industry Association Charitable Foundation (HIACF) has launched an initiative to fight depression and anxiety, and reduce suicide amongst workers in the residential building industry. HIACF will be working with leading mental health advocate beyondblue.

    The foundation was launched in 2012 to improve health and welfare outcomes in the building industry and the broader community. Since its inception, it has raised over $400,000 to support research into mesothelioma and to provide housing support for the homeless.

    >}HIA is partnering with beyondblue for an industry initiative}

    High growth target for McPherson's

    New product development and the impact of acquisitions is expected to translate into a 523% increase in revenue growth for publicly listed, home appliance company McPherson's. It is the owner Euromaid, Baumatic, Lemair and Fagor.

    The 523% forecast should be largely due to the full realisation of revenue from the Think Appliances (worth $30 million annually) and Lemair ($2 million) acquisitions. McPherson's plans on growing revenue by expanding the distribution of its brands through the electrical retail, hardware and commercial channels.

    >}McPherson's is forecasting a high level of revenue growth}

    Big win for female builder

    Serena Giudice was named National Young Builder of the Year at the Master Builders Australia's (MBA) national building and construction awards recently. She took on the role of director at Geraldton Homes after her father died a few years ago. MBA chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said Giudice had overcome enormous challenges to "claim her place among the best and brightest" in industry. He said: "She has overcome personal loss to - through sheer talent and determination - become both a successful woman and respected leader in a male-dominated industry."

    >}Serena Giudice wins National Young Builder of the Year award}

    International News

    Home Depot lawsuits from breach

    Home Depot said it faces at least 44 civil lawsuits in the US and Canada related to a widespread data breach earlier this year that affected 56 million debit and credit cards. The company said in a regulatory filing that several state and federal agencies also are looking into the data breach and it may face more litigation from customers, banks, shareholders and others.

    It warned the lawsuits could affect its business, resulting in additional costs and fines and potentially diverting the attention of the company's management team away from standard operations.

    >}Home Depot facing at least 44 civil lawsuits}

    Orchard Supply's first San Francisco store

    Orchard Supply Hardware is going into San Francisco for the first time, as it doubles down on an urban strategy under its new corporate parent, Lowe's. Orchard's arrival is significant in San Francisco, where mom-and-pop outfits still dominate the hardware scene and mega-box retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot have not gained major market share.

    But Lowe's is betting that the Orchard brand - with its neighborhood-friendly street cred and smaller format - is the ticket to cracking the burgeoning market. Lowe's bought the 83-year-old retailer out of bankruptcy in September 2013.

    >}Orchard Supply Hardware is opening its first San Francisco store}

    Finnish Kesko to consolidate

    Kesko announced it will combine its building and home improvement with its home and specialty goods divisions. This move will enable the retailer to offer Finland's widest product selection in the building and home improvement, leisure and agricultural industries.

    Combination the divisions will also provide a better structure for its online services. Kesko has about 2,000 stores across the Nordic and Baltic regions including Russia, and Belarus.

    >}Finnish retailer will consolidate its home improvement division}


    Battle over Masters trademark

    Masters wants to use the name for a charge card

    MasterCard is against Woolworth's trademark application of the Masters name for its financial products

    MasterCard has opposed a trademark application by Masters Home Improvement, after the Woolworths-owned company applied to use the name Masters on credit cards and store cards.

    The Australian reports the credit card provider is opposing the application because it relates to two classes of goods and services covering a broad range of financial services products, including management of discount programs and customer accounts such as trade accounts, credit and charge card services and issuing prepaid and stored value cards.

    Finlaysons intellectual property, media and technology partner John MacPhail told SmartCompany it is likely MasterCard will be able to show there is an overlap in the way such a card might be used. He explains:

    The staff will say, 'have you got a Masters card?' Well that is clearly pretty close to MasterCard.

    He said MasterCard has generally been very assiduous with its trademarking, as it is a one product company. MacPhail said it currently has 178 various registered trademarks, many of which relate to the word Masters. He said:

    MasterCard would have no problem with Masters the hardware store, but when they start to go into the financial services area, there are more problems.

    K&L Gates partner Jane Owen told SmartCompany there is inherent difficulty with trademarking the term "Masters", as it is very non-distinctive term.

    MacPhail agrees, pointing out there are about 25,000 variations of "Masters" trademarks registered with IP Australia.

    Owen said IP Australia has formed a view the Masters trademark in the financial services class was capable of acceptance, having given the application the preliminary green light.

    She said Masters has not clearly infringed on MasterCard, and if the credit card firm did think to move forward with litigation, there would need to be consideration paid to Masters' ongoing use of the term in its logo.

    It's not a fait accompli in terms of this opposition...This may be a bit of a storm in a tea cup.

    According to The Australian, both companies are believed to be in negotiations to work out an agreement allowing Masters to launch credit cards or store cards without confusing its home improvement shoppers that they are MasterCard products. Owen said these sorts of coexistence agreements are very common.

    A spokeswoman for Woolworths told The Australian:

    Masters Home Improvement filed an application for its logo in 2011, to cover a range of services including the class covering financial services.
    This application was made to facilitate Masters' charge cards for our trade business. In 2013, MasterCard filed against this application and it is currently being discussed to attempt to alleviate their concerns.

    Financial offerings

    The dispute highlights the challenge facing retailers such as Woolworths and other non-traditional financial services companies as they attempt to expand into the consumer finance industry.

    Not surprisingly, MasterCard and Visa as well as the big four banks, are highly protective of their trademarks. But Woolworths and Coles are ramping up their financial services arms to offer a range of products to their millions of customers, leveraging the each of their stores.

    Woolworths is pumping millions into its Woolworths Money platform, recently announcing Visa and Macquarie Bank as new partners to help it deliver consumer credit products under its retail banners, including Big W, BWS, Dan Murphy's and Masters.

    The supermarket group's Masters chain is not precluded from offering store cards because of the opposition from MasterCard, but the dispute could slow its pace and investment in the area.


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    Interesting links

    Masters recalls powerboards

    Fair Work examines construction companies and Fletcher Building shuts down NZ plant

    An additional selection of stories about the home improvement industry in Australia and overseas markets. This week, both Masters and Home Timber & Hardware group recall Olsent brand powerboards; construction companies are being scrutinised by the Fair Work Commission; Fletcher Building closes Christchurch plant in New Zealand; and Home Depot acknowledges Techtronic Industries as a top vendor for its range of Ryobi products.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.

    Local News

    Powerboards recalled by Masters, HT&H

    The Olsent 6 Outlet Powerboard has been recalled by Masters due to a risk of overheating and fire. It is the fourth recall for Olsent products in recent months. The ACCC recall notice states: "The electrical contacts of the sockets are poorly aligned and the plastic enclosure does not meet the flammability requirements of the applicable standard."

    A number of Olsent powerboards have also been recalled by the Home Timber & Hardware group. The products were sold in Home Timber & Hardware, Plants Plus and Thrifty?Link stores across Australia from July 2011 to September 2014.

    > }Masters has recalled Olsent powerboards again}

    Checking on construction companies

    Hundreds of construction businesses will be audited as part of a national campaign by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Fair Work inspectors will check that employers are paying the correct minimum hourly rates, penalty and overtime rates and allowances. Compliance with record-keeping and pay slip obligations and other workplace laws will also be monitored.

    Up to 700 businesses in every capital city and selected regional areas will be earmarked for auditing at random, with some site visits planned. Both residential and commercial builders will be monitored, as well as electricians, plumbers, painters and decorators, tilers and carpenters, bricklayers, concreters, landscapers and plasterers.

    >}Fair Work Commission turns its focus on construction companies}

    New fitout franchise

    A commercial fit-out franchise was created when Queensland-based building companies, G.J. Gardner Homes and Smith & Sons joined forces. Total Fitouts currently has six franchisees on board and is hoping to reach $10 million turnover in its first year. Australia-New Zealand managing director Jeremy Dyer said: "Total Fitouts is the perfect solution for an existing builder wanting to leave behind the hassles of the residential building industry such as home warranty insurance, in favour of more commercial work."

    >}Total Fitouts is a new commercial fit-out franchise based in Queensland}

    International News

    Fletcher closes Christchurch plant

    Fletcher Building will close its Christchurch insulation factory, as it consolidates its Tasman Insulations operations. Around 29 workers would lose their jobs manufacturing the company's Pink Batts insulation, while its Auckland factory will become an around the clock operation, according to a statement from the company. Fletcher will offer redundancies, but said it had over 200 vacancies within the business, of which more than 50 which were in Christchurch.

    >}Fletcher Building closing insulation factory}

    Techtronic Industries is top vendor

    Hong Kong-listed Techtronic Industries (TTI) received six coveted awards at The Home Depot annual supplier partner meeting held in Atlanta recently. The world's largest home improvement retailer recognised TTI with its Marketing Innovation Award, Vendor of The Year Award for the lawn and garden category and three product innovation awards including a store-wide innovation award.

    The Marketing Innovation Award relates to the Ryobi One+ Lithium-Ion launch. TTI received product innovation awards for a range of other Rybobi products including the HJP001K 12-volt lithium-ion drill; 18-volt lithium-ion P813 Drill Kit; P843 Combo Kit; and Touch Start[tm] Gas String Trimmer.

    >}TTI wins Home Depot vendor awards for its Ryobi range}

    Lowe's launches Mexican website

    Lowe's is expanding its international online presence with a new localised site for shoppers in Mexico. Lowe's has shipped to Canada via a localised site since late 2012, the only other country besides the United States in which it has an e-commerce operation. The move comes six months after its chief competitor, The Home Depot rolled out its own online store for Mexican shoppers.

    Lowe's can now ship online purchases from to local stores, ship from stores to consumers' homes and offer in-store pickup. It also can ship to customers from fulfilllment centres or by drop-shipping. Lowe's says it plans to expand into other geographic locations, noting that the web will play a big role in its global growth.

    >}Lowe's launches website for Mexican customers}

    Screwfix expands with Irish website

    Screwfix is expanding into the Republic of Ireland with the launch of a dedicated website. The move follows the launch last month of four trial stores in Germany and the announcement of plans to open over 50 more stores in the UK next year. Kingfisher-owned Screwfix already has over 350 UK outlets.

    >}Screwfix creates localised Irish website}

    Kingfisher joins sustainability group

    B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher has joined a coalition of some of the world's biggest companies that aims to drive sustainability via a website, The coalition brings together the non-profit, global sustainability organisiation, Forum of the Future with companies including Unilever, BT Group, Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Carlsberg, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, McDonalds, Nike, Pepsi, Nestle and now Kingfisher. Collectively is designed to allow people to act more sustainably in whatever way they can, from buying, investing and campaigning to sharing an idea they believe in. The ultimate aim is to make sustainable living the "new normal".

    >}Kingfisher joins international sustainability group}

    Leroy Merlin re-organises for multichannel

    French DIY chain Leroy Merlin competitive is transforming itself into a multichannel retailer and is completely disrupting its traditional way of operating. Speaking at The Everywhere Store Conference in Portugal, Luis Herrero, CIO and supply chain director at Leroy Merlin Spain, says this is having huge implications on the supply chain of the business that has a global portfolio of 600 outlets and e-commerce operations. He said: "It is changing the whole supply chain, distribution centres and stores. We are on an interesting and fascinating turnaround. With the flows of stock cross-channel we need a transformation in technology."

    >}French home improvement chain is reorientating itself to becoming a multichannel retailer}

    Kohler wins sustainability award

    For the second year in a row, the US-based Environmental Protection Agency has bestowed Kohler with its Sustained Excellence Award, recognising the company's commitment to the development of water-saving products and the education of consumers on water conservation issues.

    Since WaterSense was introduced in 2006, Kohler has engineered nearly all of its toilets, bathroom faucets, urinals, and many of its showerheads to use far less water. The labels make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase products that are water efficient.

    >}Kohler wins sustainability award from the EPA}

    Masco sees home repair trends improve

    Masco is the largest supplier of non-commodity products to Home Depot and kitchen and bath aisle to Lowe's. In early October, Masco announced some transformative actions which included a tax-free spin-off of its Installation and Other Services segment into a separate company. The maker of home improvement products also plans to buy back shares and reduce its workforce.

    >}Demand for Masco's home improvement products is set to improve}


    Compact and accurate cutter

    The WX523 Worxsaw is the latest addition to the range

    WORX develops power tools that offer efficiency, power and reliability

    The 20V WX523 Worxsaw can cut through most materials with ease, including wood, metal, tiles, plasterboard and plastics. Unlike other circular saws that can be large and cumbersome, the compact size of the WX523 makes it ideal for tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas.

    To ensure users get an accurate cut each time, the WX523 has been fitted with a quick cutting depth lever so adjustments can be made easily and quickly.

    An 85mm blade provides a maximum cutting depth of 27mm and despite its power, the WX523 only weighs 2kg. This makes it easy to control and manoeuvre while cutting, which reduces the risk of botching a job.

    The WX523 Worxsaw is powered by a reliable 20V Lithium Ion battery with no self-discharge, so no matter how long users leave it on the shelf, it won't lose power. The WX523 is also Power Share compatible, enabling it to be used with any other 20V WORX batteries that are on hand.

    The laser guide system will keep users on track and provide maximum precision for each cut. To keep the workspace clean and dust-free, the WX523 Worxsaw has also been fitted with a dust-extraction facility and built-in dust port.

    With a speedy charge time of one hour, the WX523 will help users power through their jobs in no time.