Hardware Retailing

JAN 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | January 2018 50 B rantford Home Hardware seemed to have a lot going its way. The economy around Brantford, Ontario, was strong and growing. Inside the store, the staff included a few key employees who were hard working with a strong capacity to lead. However, the business was on the verge of bankruptcy. There weren't many customers coming in the doors. That caught the attention of Ron Cicuttini. His experience in hardware retailing dates back to 1970 when he started working in the family business. Since then, he had run his own business successfully while staying alert for new opportunities, and Brantford Home Hardware was one he couldn't pass up. "I liked the store and the market it was in," he says. "The business had a history of being successful, and there were also a lot of good people working there. That was one of the big reasons I ended up deciding to invest in it." So why was the business failing? Poor management, Cicuttini says. The previous owner stopped putting money into the business. Inside the store was a mishmash of products no one wanted. The owner ran out of money to buy inventory, and that resulted in a downward spiral. No one was coming in the store anymore because there was nothing to buy. Taking ownership of the store would mean taking corrective action and making dramatic changes. Since reworking Brantford Home Hardware and making it profitable again, Cicuttini purchased another business facing a comparable situation. He's found that the steps he took at Brantford are fairly similar to those he took at that other location as he set it on the road to profitability. In 2012, he was honored as one of NRHA's Top Guns for his contributions to the home improvement industry. Making Sense of the Market Cicuttini could clearly see the main problem at Brantford Home Hardware—poor product selection and low inventory. But to correct it would take more than just refilling pegs. Deeper changes were likely needed. Customers may not be buying because the product selection didn't fit their needs. It was time to rethink assortments and categories across the store. "The first thing I did was to get an in-depth market study done that shows critical information such as demographics of the area and estimated dollars spent by category," he says. The market study, conducted by his supplier, showed he needed to adjust product selection in some categories and add new ones. Ron Cicuttini operates four home improvement stores in Ontario, Canada. While two of them were facing bankruptcy when he purchased them, he led them back to profitability. Back from the Brink at Brantford Home Hardware

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