Facing ‘new realities,’ opening smaller stores

Canadian retailer Rona believes it will have better success with smaller stores and a larger digital offering.

The Quebec-based retailer and distributor, Canada’s largest, will close 10 of its warehouse-sized stores by the end of the year, shifting its focus to the opening of 25 smaller-format units.

Rona’s blueprint for change — termed “New Realities, New Solutions” — calls for bringing Rona “closer to consumers, which means being either just a click away, or no more than 10 minutes distance from a Rona store that perfectly meets their needs,” said Robert Dutton, Rona’s president and CEO.

Luc Rodier, executive VP retail, added: “In response to consumer demand, these stores emphasize service, with more experienced staff and a central service counter that forms the heart of the store and is visible as soon as you enter, along with a more user-friendly layout, a regionally based offering and an optimal choice of products in key categories.”

Rona currently operates 700 retail and distribution locations throughout Canada.

The new focus comes on the heels of a C$151 million loss posted for the company’s fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 25, 2011. This compares with a profit of C$20 million in the same period a year ago.

The rollout of the 25 smaller stores includes retrofitting and reducing the size of 13 big-box stores. The new “proximity” stores will average 35,000 sq. ft., and the concept will be deployed in 20% of the Rona corporate store network, the company said. Other new plans for the company include the rollout of a new integrated digital platform, which includes the new website rona.ca.