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Where in the world is Steve?

I find myself on the CANADIAN side of stunning Niagara Falls for the annual HARDLINES Conference with 150 industry professionals from Canada, the US and other markets. Speakers include Ace International, ORGILL, Lee Valley Tools and eBay Canada. Everyone is in good spirits this morning thanks to the Blue Jays victory over Cleveland last night to stay alive in the ALCS.

 

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Where in the world is Steve?

Steve is in the Cologne (Germany) area today for follow up meetings with 2 of Germany’s largest DIY retailers. OBI is the market leader with around 400 stores in Germany and Eastern Europe. Some stores are a franchise and many are corporate owned.

Toom is the DIY division of the REWE corporation (over 3000 stores). They have recently begun rolling out a new hardware area in their largest stores.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Steve is in the UK today helping a Council Member get the ball rolling with Screwfix (560 small format stores in the UK plus catalog and Internet. They are also part of the Kingfisher Group with B&Q and Castorama. When driving to their office in Yeovil, we passed right by Stonehenge.

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Presidents Council is at Marvins today

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We are at the Marvins head offices today co-located with those of Central Retail Network Group (CNRG) introducing one of our Presidents Council member suppliers from Poland. CNRG is an interesting and relatively new concept. It was developed by a group of industry veterans with the idea to acquire family owned retail operations allowing the business to continue, take care of employees and themselves to retire.

They currently own 81 hardware stores, contractor stores and home centers including the brands: Town & Country Hardware, Marvins, Home Hardware Center and many more. They offer increased purchasing power as well as professional management support throughout their brands to help them grow and thrive.

I also learned that the audio announcements at the Birmingham Airport are the voice of Morgan Freeman.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Where in the world is Steve?

thumbnail_image1In Toronto today to help an Eastern European supplier begin discussions with Home Depot here in the Great White North.

One key point to remember when approaching overseas business is that often times, direct container FOB is not the only way to get started. If distribution is needed and the retailer isn’t inclined to take the inventory risk, it’s often possible to work with an existing distributor on a cost-plus arrangement to solve the issue.

Another key thing to remember in Canada is how much they love their Tim Horton’s. This one is just across the street from the innovation center so had to stop in for a pre-meeting high octane coffee.

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What you need to know about ADEO

ADEO is Europe’s largest DIY retailer with over 900 stores, several formats and operating under several banners including Leroy Merlin, Aki, Weldom and BricoMan.
Their 3 year old corporate headquarters is right out of the future. 1000 people work in the building, it uses no external heat or electricity and is nearly fully automated.

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Where in the world is Steve?

I am in frigid Helsinki today to introduce a Presidents Council member to the Category Manager and buyer at RAUTAKESKO.
They have one of the more interesting corporate structures of any retailer in the industry. They are essentially the DIY division of the KESKO Group and operate 300+ stores under various banners (K-Rauta is the most well known) in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. Annual turnover is near $3 Billion USD.
We stopped at a K-Rauta store on the way to the headquarters this morning. I should mention that the coffee here is much stronger than what I’m used to…

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Where in the world is Steve?

Today we are in Estonia. A small market of around 1.3 million people has a “homegrown” 13 store retailer that is part of the Brico Alliance Group. They operate a mix of big stores in populated areas and smaller stores in the rural. It’s an impressive store attached to the corporate headquarters – very large, big box format… with a coffee shop complete with a beer cooler!

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Where in the world is Steve?

Well, it took a good 30 seconds to figure out where I was waking up this morning but once the jet lag cobwebs cleared, I found myself in Wermelskirchen, Germany (home of OBI) beginning another week of meetings with a Presidents Council member and leading European DIY retailers.

OBI is Europe’s original Home Center. They added 60 stores in 3 weeks at the end of 2015 taking over many former BAUMAX locations in Austria. Today they are Germany’s largest DIY chain operating 589 stores in Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Russia and Switzerland with an annual turnover of around $5.3 Billion USD.

We head west this afternoon toward Belgium and France.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Intergamma is the parent company for 2 DIY chains in the Benelux countries: Gamma and Karwei. Gamma has 166 stores in the Netherlands and 83 in Belgium. Karwei has 136 stores in Belgium.

It’s an interesting structure. While the stores are a franchise, they do not have the autonomy in product selection that a U.S. Coop store owner would enjoy. Purchasing decisions are made by the buyer and category manager at Intergamma corporate HQ and implemented in all stores. The stores are “home center” format, typically with the “racetrack” layout, traditional racking and a product mix nearly 100% DIY.
Unfortunately, no parking lot food to sample once again frown emoticon

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Where in the world is Steve?

Together with our Council Member today finds us in Stockholm, Sweden meeting with BYGGMAX. They’re a very interesting retail operation. The store format is typical of a Pro Dealer but according to the purchasing director, 80% of their sales come from homeowners rather than contractors. Apparently, the Swedish people are perfectly comfortable taking on very large DIY projects themselves. He claims they can build their own house!

BYGGMAX operates 119 stores in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Annual revenue is around $420 Million USD.

I was really hoping for some parking lot Swedish meatballs or something but no such luck. Maybe it was way, way too cold!

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Where in the world is Steve?

Steve skipped breakfast in anticipation of another parking lot wurst and was left with an empty belly due to a closed up kiosk at the store. He is looking forward to finding out tomorrow what the Swedish serve in the DIY parking lots! Stay tuned.

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Where in the world is Steve?

After decades of tailgating at Lambeau Field, I consider myself a connoisseur of parking lot cuisine. Today, while doing some in-store research at Germany’s largest DIY retailer, I found myself needing a bratwurst cooked standing on asphalt.

It was a good bratwurst and excellent mustard. Cooked over real coals in the parking lot kiosk. The roll got a little soggy with the rain but the double napkin saved the experience.

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Where in the world is Steve?

In Bornheim bei Landau Germany today at the Hornbach corporate headquarters for a follow-up meeting with a President Council member and an old friend who runs the import department.

HORNBACH operates 146 stores in 9 European countries with around $3.7 Billion annual sales. They are privately owned and the stores are very large warehouse format.

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Where in the world is Steve?

Steve is spending the day helping a Presidents Council member sell into Stark in Lahti, Finland. Stark has 38 stores in Finland and another 92 in Denmark with annual sales of around $1.5 Billion USD. They are a traditional home center format although around 80% of their sales come from the professional / contractor customer.
Stark is owned by the DT Group out of Denmark. Together with Beijer, Neumann Bygg and Silvan the group’s annual sales is around $2.5 Bil USD.
We visited the Stark headquarters in Lahti as well as one of their stores recently rebranded from “Starkki” after completion of an acquisition of a smaller pro dealer.

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