PASCAL HOULE, CPA, CMA,
Chief Executive Officer
BMR GROUP CONTINUED ITS WINNING STREAK IN FISCAL 2018, IMPROVING ON PRIOR-YEAR PERFORMANCE.
Sales grew $48.6 million to $936.8 million from $888.2 million last year, primarily as a result of higher building material sales and further inroads in the Ontario market.
After a year of rising building material prices due to forest fires in Western Canada and robust U.S. demand, BMR Group acted quickly to capitalize on low prices early in the year to secure its supply, providing dealers with higher margins for the remainder of the year. Corporate stores also saw sharp growth in overall sales, driven in particular by new sales to construction contractors, the U. Cayouette hardware store acquisition and our La Shop BMR launch in the Montréal area.
Our focus on developing the Ontario market through our specialized division delivered significant sales gains compared with the previous year, with our banner attracting over 100 new retailers.
Consolidated operating surplus was up 3.3% to $17.3 million in 2018 from $16.7 million last year, mainly due to higher sales. Like many other companies, BMR Group was not immune to the labour shortage, encountering significant recruitment challenges in its hardware and building materials warehouses, with the resulting additional costs putting a damper on results. The various measures put in place, including a new collective agreement signed at the end of the fiscal year, are already yielding more successful recruitment results.
A year of major renovations
In fiscal 2018, BMR Group embarked on major renovations and a raft of improvement initiatives across the organization. Significant progress was achieved on our main strategic projects, with our digital transformation and Eastern Canada expansion key among them.
First, our BMR website became transactional this year, with consumers now able to shop online from a catalogue of nearly 10,000 products. We have forged new synergies between traditional and virtual sales channels, while leveraging their complementary natures. Our digital shift was recognized by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD), which awarded us the Digital Shift award in the fall of 2018.
“In fiscal 2018, BMR Group embarked on major renovations and a raft of improvement initiatives across the organization.”
In addition, major work was completed to pave the way for BMR Group’s new information system, set for implementation in the coming year. This new system will revolutionize BMR Group and dealers operations, with substantial benefits that will deliver greater agility and competitiveness.
In line with our promise of nationwide growth, an impressive slate of 26 new BMR and Country Store stores joined our network this year, including 21 from outside Québec. We also took an innovative approach to developing new markets under a one-of-kind urban concept, with the launch of our first La Shop BMR hardware store in the heart of Montréal’s Griffintown. A concept carefully designed to meet the needs of local consumers, La Shop BMR reinvents the traditional hardware store by adding products and services tailored to an urban lifestyle. New brand, same familiar layout, new product categories and new personalized services: all BMR Group teams had a hand in ensuring La Shop BMR made a solid first impression.
“In line with our promise of nationwide growth, an impressive slate of 26 new BMR and Country Store stores joined our network this year.”
This year, BMR Group also developed three innovative store concepts tailored to our dealers: BMR Express, BMR and BMR Pro. Running the gamut from smaller neighbourhood hardware stores, to “classic” BMRs, to stores catering to construction contractors, these three new concepts are perfectly in tune with the market reality of each business. In fiscal 2019, our renovation plans for a number of BMR stores will bring the drawing board to life. Apart from a great new look, these changes will offer an enhanced shopping experience with a view to boosting sales.
Solid bases for the BMR of tomorrow
Our performance in fiscal 2018 was outstanding, and the BMR of tomorrow is built on a solid footing. Given our impressive slate of new dealers, the BMR banner approach and renewed DNA clearly resonate with hardware store owners nationwide.
In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to BMR Group’s Executive Committee and the 8,000 employees across our network, who bring renovations—large and small—to life for thousands of Canadians. I would also like to express my gratitude to La Coop fédérée for its invaluable support throughout the year. And, of course, many thanks to all our affiliated dealers for their trust and solidarity.
Pascal Houle, CPA, CMA
Chief Executive Officer