Kamloops Rona store escapes axe, but block plant will close

The cement block plant in is one of the 31 properties Lowe's Companies Inc. is closing across Canada in a bid to streamline its business.

A cement block plant in Kamloops is one of the 31 properties Lowe's Companies Inc. is closing across Canada in a bid to streamline its business.

The home-improvement company announced Monday it will close 27 stores by the end of January. it will also shutter two regional support centres in Mississauga, Ont. and St. John's, a truss plant in St. John's and the Rona block plant in Kamloops as part of a plan to focus on the most profitable parts of its business.

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The Kamloops Rona store on Mount Paul Way is not one of the affected stores.

Loew's Canada told KTW one employee is impacted by the block plant closure.

"Everything will be done to ensure a smooth transition and the impacted employee will be supported by our HR team," the spokesperson said via email, noting it's too early to say whether the employee will be laid off or relocated.

Sales manager Shiloh North, who works at the local retail outlet up the street from the plant, said it hasn’t been producing blocks for more than a year.

“It’s a separate entity from us,” North said of the facility that manufactures cement slabs and blocks.

The Loew's spokesperson confirmed the plant was not in production inthe last year, but remained open to sell the 2017 product.  

Sylvain Prud'homme, chief executive of Lowe's Canada, did not say how many employees would be affected by the closures, but said the changes will allow the company to improve collaboration between its banners to better serve customers.

“Everything will be done to ensure a smooth transition until the stores are closed and Lowe's Canada will support impacted employees, including by transferring eligible employees to other locations within our network whenever possible,'' Prud'homme said in a statement.

The retail outlets being closed include a store in New Westminster, two in Calgary, nine in Ontario, nine in Quebec and six in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Only two of the locations to close are branded as Lowe’s. They are in Ontario.

In addition to the 31 locations the brand is closing in Canada, Lowe’s will also shut down 20 stores in the U.S.

The Canadian closures amount to a reduction of about three per cent of the brand's total retail network square footage.

The North Carolina-based chain currently has 68 Lowe's and 430 Rona stores in the country — part of its network of 2,390 home-improvement locations across North America, including Reno-Depot, Dick's Lumber, Contractor First and Ace locations it also owns.

Lowe's Canadian business is based in Boucherville, Que., and has more than 630 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores.

David Soberman, a University of Toronto professor specializing in marketing and retail, said Lowe's 2016 acquisition of Rona Inc., in a deal valued at $3.2 billion, has likely fuelled some of the Canadian cuts.

“They probably had too many locations,'' he said. “Now, this will mean people will have to drive a bit further to find a Lowe's or a Rona store.''

He said the company has also been facing fierce competition from home-improvement businesses Home Depot Inc. and Canadian Tire Inc. and, to some extent, Costco and Walmart, which are “extremely powerful'' and stock some home and garden products.

E-commerce giants, including Amazon, have also posed a threat because of their efficiency, but Soberman said their impact on Lowe's is limited because many construction and do-it-yourself products are bulky, heavy and cost more to ship — “not things that are suited to online retail.''

— with files from Canadian Press

A cement block plant in Kamloops is one of the 31 properties Lowe's Companies Inc. is closing across Canada in a bid to streamline its business.

The home-improvement company announced Monday it will close 27 stores by the end of January. it will also shutter two regional support centres in Mississauga, Ont. and St. John's, a truss plant in St. John's and the Rona block plant in Kamloops as part of a plan to focus on the most profitable parts of its business.

The Kamloops Rona store on Mount Paul Way is not affected by the closures.

Sales manager Shiloh North, who works at the local retail outlet, couldn’t say how many people were employed at the plant, which he said hasn’t been producing blocks for more than a year.

“It’s a separate entity from us,” North said of the facility that manufactures cement slabs and blocks.

Sylvain Prud'homme, chief executive of Lowe's Canada, did not say how many employees would be affected by the closures, but said the changes will allow the company to improve collaboration between its banners to better serve customers.

“Everything will be done to ensure a smooth transition until the stores are closed and Lowe's Canada will support impacted employees, including by transferring eligible employees to other locations within our network whenever possible,'' Prud'homme said in a statement.

The retail outlets being closed include a store in New Westminster, two in Calgary, nine in Ontario, nine in Quebec and six in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Only two of the locations to close are branded as Lowe’s. They are in Ontario.

In addition to the 31 locations the brand is closing in Canada, Lowe’s will also shut down 20 stores in the U.S.

The Canadian closures amount to a reduction of about three per cent of the brand's total retail network square footage.

The North Carolina-based chain currently has 68 Lowe's and 430 Rona stores in the country — part of its network of 2,390 home-improvement locations across North America, including Reno-Depot, Dick's Lumber, Contractor First and Ace locations it also owns.

Lowe's Canadian business is based in Boucherville, Que., and has more than 630 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores.

David Soberman, a University of Toronto professor specializing in marketing and retail, said Lowe's 2016 acquisition of Rona Inc., in a deal valued at $3.2 billion, has likely fuelled some of the Canadian cuts.

“They probably had too many locations,'' he said. “Now, this will mean people will have to drive a bit further to find a Lowe's or a Rona store.''

He said the company has also been facing fierce competition from home-improvement businesses Home Depot Inc. and Canadian Tire Inc. and, to some extent, Costco and Walmart, which are “extremely powerful'' and stock some home and garden products.

E-commerce giants, including Amazon, have also posed a threat because of their efficiency, but Soberman said their impact on Lowe's is limited because many construction and do-it-yourself products are bulky, heavy and cost more to ship — “not things that are suited to online retail.''

— with files from Canadian Press

— This story was updated to include comment from a Loew's Canada spokesperson

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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