Serge Éthier, Executive Vice-President of RONA Proximity, says the new RONA store concept was developed with three goals in mind: to better meet current needs and trends in renovation; to establish the store as its customers’ go-to destination for projects; and to enhance its offering for contractors and pros, who account for a larger portion of building centres’ client base than is the case for big box stores.
Lowe’s says its goal is to make RONA the No. 1 banner in the building centre market in the country - a segment of retail that accounts for close to half of Canada’s home improvement market.
Éthier says the stores that will be transformed are located across the country. They’re basically building centres ranging in size between 20,000 to 45,000 square feet. They usually include a drive-thru and a yard.
“So in the future, RONA is going to be dedicated to the building centre segment which accounts for more than 50 per cent of the overall renovation market in Canada,” says Éthier.
“We have a strategy for full remodel or minor remodel and we do have a strategy for greenfield. So new stores across the country . . . We already started this year with three new stores in Quebec and we’re in the market analysis throughout the country to where would be the best locations for us.”
RONA’s Longueuil store is located on Roland-Therrien Boulevard and the transformation to the new concept involves an investment of more than $2.6 million.
“Overall, the new RONA store model is designed to better reflect new trends in the residential housing market — open floor plans, brighter rooms, and outside spaces designed to become natural extensions of the interior. These trends are reflected both in the store layout and strategic placement of some departments, as well as in the product selection,” says the company. “
“The result is a brighter, less compartmentalized store, with racking entirely redesigned and not as tall, except on the perimeter of the store, which allows customers to have a 360-degree view of the store and thereby find the section they are looking for at a glance. In addition, seasonal products have been moved up near the entrance so the shopping experience is renewed on a regular basis, and household appliances now have a prime location near the kitchen project section.”
The company also says the new building centre model is designed to make RONA the go-to destination for turnkey renovation projects. Services will include design consulting, 3D renderings, as well as installation services.
For contractors and other home improvement professionals, there is a reserved parking area, a dedicated entrance and service counter, extended business hours to fit contractors’ schedules, a special fleet of trucks for construction-site deliveries, a minimum 15,000-square-foot drive-through lumberyard, and charge-account services to speed up and simplify purchasing.
“A big chunk of our overall spend from our customer is attached to projects. That’s why you go to a building centre because you have more associates, more knowledge inside the store. So we’re definitely trying to position ourselves more as a project destination in the future,” says Éthier.
“That remodel is also positioning us better to answer the pro in the future in that contractor segment.”
The RONA banner, created in 1939, falls under Lowe’s Canada with more than 430 stores across the country. Many of the big box RONA stores are being transformed in the country to the Lowe’s brand.
Lowe’s Companies Inc., based in the United States, serves more than 17 million customers a week in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It had $65 billion in sales in its fiscal year 2016.
Based in Boucherville, Quebec, Lowe’s Canadian business, together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, RONA inc., operates or services more than 600 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores in a number of complementary formats under different banners. These include Lowe’s, RONA, Réno-Dépôt, Marcil, Dick’s Lumber and Ace. In Canada, the companies have more than 25,000 employees, in addition to nearly 5,000 employees in the stores of RONA’s independent affiliate dealers.
**Photos provided by RONA
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.