RONA will target commercial, pro markets in ’08

Canadian DIY giant RONA unveiled some of its plans for the new year at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.

The company announced that it has recruited “nine new independent dealer-owners in the last two months.” The company did not release the names of the new dealers, but said in a statement, “Eight of these dealer-owners operate stores ranging from 2,000 to 24,000 square feet, and one will build a 52,000-square-foot proximity store.”

“Recruiting independent dealer-owners is one of RONA’s key growth vectors,” said RONA President and CEO Robert Dutton. “Over the last five years, we have increased our affiliated store network by close to 50 percent through the recruitment of 140 dealer-owners across Canada. Over the next few years, we will pursue our development of this market niche, which still represents over 50 percent of the renovation/construction market in Canada.”

The company also has its eyes set on the commercial and professional markets. At the end of 2007, the company created a division devoted “solely to this market segment.” RONA said the Canadian commercial and professional market is estimated at about $70 billion in sales.

Most recently, RONA opened four big-box stores in Ontario and one in Alberta, as well as two proximity stores in Ontario. In 2007, RONA also “stepped up its presence in the commercial and professional market in these regions by acquiring plumbing specialist Noble Trade in Ontario and construction materials specialist Dick’s Lumber in British Columbia.”

Currently, RONA operates a network of more than 680 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats.