Regions
Robina represents growth area
A Masters store could be part of a mixed use development in Robina (QLD)
Smart Property Investment
There has been a rise in Robina apartment sales since the beginning of 2011
Robina is the beneficiary of recent major infrastructure projects
Give to Amnesty International
A new report is showing that young professionals and empty nesters are increasingly being drawn to Robina in Queensland, with property sales in the area steadily rising.

Property analyst Urbis completed research on Robina -- a 35 year-old master-planned community on the Gold Coast -- and found "walkability", "connectivity" and "strong employment growth" had made the suburb an increasingly popular choice for Generation Y and baby boomers.

According to Urbis, Robina's appeal with these demographics has contributed to increasing apartment sales since the beginning of 2011 -- with volumes rising by 19.8% in every six-month period through to the end of 2013.

Lynda Campbell, Urbis senior consultant, said the diverse demographic makeup of Robina was underpinning the rental market and therefore demand for apartments. She said:
Gen Y residents seek out areas that provide a wealth of job and education opportunities within walking distance, as well as connectivity to other key destinations. Similarly, baby boomers and beyond look to live close to lifestyle-rich amenities such as shopping, dining and major entertainment facilities and key services, such as transport, hospitals, business precinct, schools, university and healthcare.

Campbell said Robina was likely to continue attracting more Gen Y residents, with employment expected to grow well ahead of the Gold Coast average. She said:
Long-term employment within Robina is projected to increase by almost 74%, significantly higher than the Gold Coast City figure of 46.7%. Job opportunities are available across diverse fields, with business services, retail/hospitality, professional health and community being the largest employers in the region.

In addition, Campbell said the area was the beneficiary of recent major infrastructure projects, including upgrades to the motorway and Robina town centre. Future projects such as the rail extension to Coolangatta, would also boost the area's liveability and investment prospects, she said.

Robina Group director Tony Tippett said the suburb was tightly held and had a strong resale market. He said:
Some apartment buildings in Robina still retain 90% of the original owner-occupier buyers, 10 years on from completion, so there is a very loyal resident base in Robina. Those who do decide to sell typically upgrade to a new property within Robina.
Products
Festool develops cordless offering
The Festool Unplugged range focuses on increased intelligence, efficiency and longer tool life
Furniture Production
It is offering tradespeople a secure investment alongside sustainable compatibility
PowerSelect offers three different buying variants so there is a lot of flexibility
SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
The Festool Unplugged range combines a new 5.2Ah high-performance battery packs with brushless EC-TEC motors. The introduction of PowerSelect also offers users more buying freedom and flexibility.

The improved battery range sees all 15v and 18v batteries increasing from 4.2Ah to 5.2Ah so tradies can work 25% longer between charges. This enhanced functionality combined with brushless EC-TEC motor technology ensures optimal power usage, greater efficiency and longer tool life. Festool product manager Patrick Haubmann said:
With our cordless range, we are focusing on increased intelligence, efficiency and longer tool life.

To this end, Festool is focusing on the interplay between its tried-and-tested brushless EC-TEC motor technology and the latest cell technologies. It is offering tradespeople a secure investment alongside sustainable compatibility. Haubmann said:
Our battery packs and tools have all been compatible for years. This even applies across systems for older battery packs with NiCd and NiMH cells, which can be used in current-generation Li-ion tools.

PowerSelect offers three different buying variants so there is a lot of flexibility in configuring tools to suit a tradeperson's specific cordless needs. For example:
  • The Basic version includes the cordless tool without battery packs or charger, but still comes in a systainer and with core accessories
  • The Plus version includes the cordless tool, systainer and core accessories, and comes with the battery packs and charger
  • The Set version offers the same as the Plus Version but with added extras and accessories
  • Hthg
    Home Timber Hardware Group Show 2015 - day 1
    Pallet Lane, where suppliers offers deep discounts on bulk
    HTHG offers helpful planning services for retailers
    The Karcher stand - interview later
    Click to subscribe to newsletter, delivered every Tuesday
    So far, the show is looking pretty good, with a lot of suppliers staking their claim to some of the precious HTHG turf.

    We've already recorded some videos with Stanley, Fothergills, Karcher, Spot-On, and a couple others, and these will be uploaded later.

    For now, there is just this quick intro from HNN editor-in-chief Betty Tanddo.

    Careers
    Seeking opportunities
    A supplier of safety products is looking for a national account manager
    HNN Sources
    Customer experience manager needed for Masters Penrith store
    A retail hardware account manager is needed to sell to head office buyers
    Visit the Mecca Website
    A selection of job opportunities in the home improvement industry. A national account manager is required for a safety products supplier; Masters is looking for a customer experience manager to work at its new store in Penrith (NSW); and a role for an experienced hardware retail account manager.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.
    Selling safety products

    A long-standing supplier of safety products has expanded into the hardware industry after finding success with Beacon Lighting, Autobarn and Petbarn. It is looking to fill the role of national account manager. The successful candidate will be dealing with head office buyers across the retail groups. This person will also manage sales agents to ensure the products are working at store level.
    Safety products supplier needs a national account manager
    Managing customer experiences

    Masters is searching for a skilled customer experience manager for its Penrith (NSW) store. The role requires someone who can lead and develop a team to "deliver a best practice customer experience with particular emphasis on communicating commercial outcomes". Ideally, the successful candidate will have previous experience in a customer service leadership role, preferably in a big box retail environment.
    Customer experience role at Masters
    Head office pitches

    As a retail hardware account manager, the successful candidate will be responsible for maintaining pre-existing portfolios and encouraging the team to drive towards new business initiatives. This individual will also act as a brand ambassador. Previous experience selling to head office at Bunnings, Masters, Mitre 10 and Danks is essential.
    Key account manager role with head office selling experience required
    Editorial
    2015 in one word
    One idea of how to manage the elements of engagement
    Off to see the show!
    Kitchen as the new living-room
    Give to Amnesty International
    Where is the intersection point between:
  • increases in spending on home improvement by consumers
  • the growth and resurgence of the industry's trade shows
  • the strategies of big box home improvement retailers

  • HNN sees a connection between these. While it varies in its meaning for all three of the elements listed above, at its core is the same thing: people seeking connection, responsiveness, and a better sense of community.

    We owe it to John Gillam, the managing director of Australia's big box home improvement retail chain Bunnings, for the one word that sums this up:

    Engagement.
    The big box revenue mystery

    In the most recent round of reporting from big box home improvement chains in Australia and internationally, one question kept coming up: why has the home improvement market grown, and what should be done about it?

    It's a nice problem to have, not quite understanding market growth, but it is no less a puzzle for being welcome.

    A number of "likely suspects" were suggested by financial analysts asking questions, the most common of them being the reduction in petrol prices. Almost universally, retailers have rejected that as a reason, pointing to past statistics and their own consumer modelling. Low petrol prices help, the retailers tell us, but not as much as you would think.

    A more exotic suggestion that came from the chief financial officer of Home Depot, Carol Tome, was that research indicated the "wealth effect" from rising house prices would take effect some time after the prices first increased. This makes some sense.

    A home-owner who finds his/her house has increased in value by 10% over the past year might wait another year just to be sure before re-leveraging a loan to fit-out a kitchen, for example.

    So today's increase in home improvement spending may relate to past increases in home valuations, rather than directly to the current market.

    Then there are a range of other metrics, from measures of general economic health, to the turn-ratio of houses converting from rentals to owner-occupied, with a subsequent uptick in maintenance and renovation.

    They are all interesting, but I'm not sure any are convincing.

    The real cause is likely to be something more subtle, a cultural social change that has increased the value of the home in people's estimation, as well as a shift in what families expect homes to do for them.

    This is one of the reasons HNN has looked closely at kitchens during February. The idea of "the kitchen is the new living room" seems to encompass this shift in attitude towards the home.

    To put it directly from the consumer's perspective, doing something such as renovating a kitchen is not about getting great appliances, or the new stylish kitchen countertop the neighbour will envy.

    What people are thinking of today are the valued moments in their life. A cup of coffee together on Saturday morning sitting in the kitchen nook, the family casually coming together on a Thursday evening.

    It's the kind of experience that seems to be enabled by kitchens such as the one pictured below, which was featured in the April edition of Belle magazine:
    A kitchen in a newly renovated house in Sydney

    Engagement.
    The tradeshow revival

    Four or five years ago tradeshows seemed in decline and on their way out. Attendance was down, people were beginning to feel it just wasn't worth the time, the money and the effort.

    That has seemed to change over the past year or two. Tradeshows started to get a little traction. Suppliers began reporting that they were doing good business when they attended them. The shows themselves seemed to get better as well, with more interesting speakers and concepts.

    When HNN attended the HBT show in Geelong last year, we were really struck by the energy of the place. People were constantly talking to each other, deals were being made, and several retailers took the time to tell us a more about their personal stories. It was business, but it was also fun.

    This week, just as soon as the HNN e-newsletter is on its way, the HNN team will be flying up to the Gold Coast to attend the annual tradeshow for the Home Timber and Hardware Group (HTHG), known as its "National Conference 2015".

    The organisers say it is the biggest HTHG show ever, and on paper it certainly looks like it. Over 160 exhibitors will be there for the three-day show. Sponsors include Cement Australia, Valspar, Sutton Tools, Assa Abloy, Bremick and Hitachi.

    Speakers include Adam Ferrier (who has appeared on ABC's "Gruen Transfer"), Ralph Plarre of Ferguson Plarre Bakeries, and Simon Williams, a digital marketing expert from agency Columbus, Dentsu Aegis. There will also be -- of course -- an address by James Aylen, the head of HTHG.

    For details, these links will provide more information:
    Exhibitor list & floor plan
    Conference details

    HNN plans to offer extensive coverage of the event. We'll be posting regularly from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday, then offering summary coverage on Thursday and Friday.

    We plan on bringing HNN readers an overview of what is happening, as well as specific video interviews from many of the exhibitors. It won't be as good as being there, but it should give you a good taste of what it is like, and some useful information.

    Again, engagement.
    John Gillam's vision

    It was the words of John Gillam that suggested this theme to HNN.

    Mr Gillam was speaking about corporate retail strategy when he used the word, particularly what he believes customers seek from a retailer today. His exact words from the earnings call on 19 February 2015 were:
    ...what I was hopefully conveying in the previous answer that the margins, the outcome, it's really the level of involvement and engagement you've got with your customers and how you can make yourself more relevant to more customers more often that counts for us.

    It is interesting to see how some of these themes were present in the results announcement for Woolworths/Masters this year as well.

    Until next time or see you at the HTHG show,

    Betty

    You can contact me directly via email betty@hnn.bz or Twitter @HNN_Australia

    To receive a daily dose of HNN, download the free HNNBrowser app from the Apple store:
    HNN iPad App
    Statistics
    HNN Index to 27 February 2015
    The HNN Home Improvement Index for 27 February 2015
    Wesfarmers share price before and after its results announcement
    Woolworths stock price before and after its results announcement
    Click to visit the HBT website for more information
    HNN apologises for not being able to bring you the index for 20 February 2015 until now. The data provider, Yahoo Finance, experienced severe problems for data relating to 20 February 2015.

    This report is thus based on activity for the two weeks to 27 February 2015.

    The HNN Home Improvement Index itself has followed the pattern of many stocks during this reporting season. Frequently initial results have been met with some pessimism, followed by optimism, followed by more pessimism.

    Woolworths, for example, traded mildly up in the days preceding its earnings announcement, then lost more than 10% of its value after the figures came out. Wesfarmers, with arguably much better results, hit a trough on the day it announced its earnings, recovered rapidly, and then began to decline again.

    From 13 February to 20 February 2015 the index rose by 4.41 points, while the underlying ASX 200 climbed by over 49 points. From 20 February to 27 February 2015 the index fell 18.42 points, bringing it close to its level at the start of February.

    Many of the companies reported their earnings during these two weeks, and these are summarised below. HNN has covered Wesfarmers separately, and while there is a summary provided, a more detailed treatment of Woolworths will be forthcoming.
    Adelaide Brighton
    Adelaide Brighton FY 2014 results

    Adelaide Brighton has announced its financial results for FY 2014. Revenue came in at $1,337.8 million, up 8.9% over FY 2013. Underlying earnings before interest and tax and net profit after tax both increased by 8.5% to $245.2 million and $166.5 million respectively as compared to FY 2014.

    Cement and clinker sales rose by 3%. New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory reported strong sales. Sales in South Australia and Victoria were not as strong.

    Results in NSW and QLD were driven by strong residential construction demand. Infrastructure and mining contributed to growth in WA and NT. The company made the comment that outside of residential construction, it found the construction market to be relatively subdued.

    Cement accounted for 25% of revenues, followed by concrete and aggregates at 24%. WA contributed 25% of revenues, and NSW 21%.

    The company commented that energy costs were the primary restriction on continuing profit growth, and that it is taking action to contain and reduce these. Adelaide Brighton sees 2015 as a good year, and forecasts price rises of 5%, though analysts believe this may be optimistic.
    Results announcement
    Breville
    Breville Group results FY 2014/15 first half

    Breville has presented something of a "salad" of results, with North American earnings declining due to poor sales of juicers, while Australasian sales were acceptable and sales in the UK market good.

    Unfortunately the overall results from the salad are not very good. Revenue declined by 5.6% over the previous corresponding period (pcp) to $293.9 million. EBIT was down 4.5% to $43.5 million, and net profit after tax (NPAT) fell to $29.7 million, a declined of 4.9%.

    For individual markets, Breville reported only one positive comparative number, with EBIT increasing by 1.4% for the Australia and New Zealand market over the pcp. North America saw revenues sag by 10.8% and EBIT decline by 9.4%. The UK did see over 10% growth in revenues, but its "rest of world" segment still saw revenue decline by 4.3%.

    Breville has provided future guidance that indicates it expects EBIT growth for the second half of FY 2014/15 of over 5% as compared to the pcp.
    Breville first half FY 2014/15 results presentation
    BlueScope Steel
    BlueScope FY 2014/15 first half earnings

    Please see HNN's article at:
    BlueScope results
    Brambles
    Brambles first half FY 2014/15 results

    The results for the first half of FY 2014/15 for Brambles were good from an operational perspective, though foreign currency exchange (FX) has taken some of the gloss from them. In fact, FX had such an impact that the company provided two sets of results, one real-world and the other results based on stable rates of exchange.

    In the real-world, sales revenue came in at US$2,795 million, up by 5% over the pcp. Operating profit (a version of EBIT) was up 3% to US$466 million, and profit after tax rose by 2% to US$286 million. The stable FX numbers are all 3% to 4% higher than the real-world numbers.

    Brambles CEO, Tom Gorman, outlined three areas of short-term focus to deliver longer term results: reducing cost; a new branded pallet solution for the US market; innovative use of new technologies; and expansion through unexplored segments and verticals, as well as new geographic areas.

    Guidance for the remainder of FY 2014/15 is for growth in the range of 9% to 12%.
    Brambles results presentation
    Charter Hall Group
    Charter Hall reports earnings for first half of FY 2014/15

    Charter Hall reported positive results for the first half of its FY 2014/15. Operating earnings rose by 27.1% over the pcp to $48.4 million. Profit after tax came in at $39.9 million, up 39.6% over the pcp.

    In terms of the company's investment in retail real estate, it has gained an additional 12 properties during the half, providing a lift in gross income of $41 million to $279 million, while the occupancy rate has increased by 0.1% to 98.6%.

    The guidance provided by Charter Hall is:
    Absent unexpected events, our FY 2014/15 guidance is 7% to 9% growth on FY14 operating earnings per security.
    DuluxGroup
    Acquires Porter Paints

    DuluxGroup has acquired the family-owned Porter's Paints. For further details please see:
    Dulux acquires Porter's Paints
    Fletcher Building
    Fletcher reports earnings for first half FY 2014/15

    Fletcher has reported a relatively lacklustre half. Revenue increased by 1% over the pcp to NZ$4327 million. Adjusted for the sale of Pacific Steel and Hudson Building Supplies, revenue growth would be 3%. EBIT before significant items rose by 3% to NZ$290 million.

    Revenue grew by 6% in New Zealand, but fell by 3% in Australia. Rest-of-world numbers indicate growth of 8%. New Zealand accounted for 50% of the company's revenues during the half, but 69% of its EBIT. The corresponding figures for Australia are 37% and 17%.

    Heavy building products under-performed for Fletcher, losing 9% in sales, while construction showed strong growth of 11% in sales over the pcp.
    Fletcher Building results
    Harvey Norman Holdings
    Results for first half of FY 2014/15

    Harvey Norman has reported strong results. Excluding property revaluations, EBIT rose by 14.7% over the pcp to $214.34 million, while NPAT rose by 18.5% over the pcp to reach $139.13 million.

    The company reported an improvement in profits from franchise operations driven by an increase in revenue and a decrease in support. Company-owned stores in New Zealand showed a 22.8% improvement over the pcp, while trading losses declined in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    The company believes the second-half of FY 2014/15 will show good results, based on lower petrol prices, growth in the housing market, low interest rates and infrastructure investment in New South Wales.
    Harvey Norman report
    James Hardie
    James Hardie releases results for its third quarter FY 2014/15

    For the quarter, the company's net operating profit came in at US$48.6 million, a lift of 11% over pcp. For the first three quarters of the financial year the net operating profit was US$164.1 million, an increase of 8% over the pcp.

    Earnings before interest and tax increased to US$66.9 million for the quarter, an increase of 21% over the pcp. For the first three quarters of the financial year, EBIT was US$223.2 million, up 14% over the pcp.

    James Hardie CEO, Louis Gries expressed on concern over the lack of growth in the US residential housing market:
    While our operating environment in the US has improved marginally compared to the prior corresponding quarter, we are yet to see the previously anticipated accelerated growth in the US residential market.

    The company provided guidance that it expects for final quarter of its FY 2014/15 to be similar to the previous quarter, for the USA and Europe. It also points to some uncertainty in these markets. Net operating profit for the full-year is expected to be in the range of US$210 and US$222 million.
    James Hardie media release
    Lend Lease
    First half FY 2014/15 report

    Lend Lease surprised the analysts by producing a better than expected result. Analysts had predicted profit after tax (PAT) in the $305 million range, but Lend Lease returned $315.6 million in profit, an increase of 25% over the pcp. Earnings before interest and tax, depreciations and amortisations (EBITDA) came in at $467.3 million, an increase of 17% over the pcp.

    Property development delivered PAT of $145.0 million, an increase of 12% over the pcp. Future work includes the acquisition of the final 50% of a joint venture in Armadale (VIC) and four new residential apartment buildings in Melbourne and the Brisbane Showgrounds in Queensland.

    Construction brought in a PAT of $85.6 million, lifting 14% over the pcp, with a major contribution from European operations. Infrastructure development contributed PAT of $70.7 million, up 134% over the pcp.

    Investment management saw funds under management increase by 7% over the pcp. The division produced a PAT of $127.9 million, rising 12% over the pcp.

    The company has confirmed its earlier guidance for full-year FY 2015 profit of between $604 million and $628 million.
    Lend Lease directors' report
    Metcash
    Metcash acquires Southern Independent Liquor Group (Duncans)

    Metcash announced it will acquire Southern Independent Liquor Group. According to the company's chairman, Frank Kraps:
    Both SILG and ALM are focused on growing independent strength and we view the asset sale as a positive step toward building a stronger and more robust independent liquor retail sector. An Extraordinary General Meeting of SILG shareholders is to be held in March to obtain approval of the Asset Sale Agreement.
    Metcash acquires Duncans
    Pact Group
    Pact reports first half FY 2014/15 results

    Packaging printing company Pact reported a rise in sales revenue to $635 million, an increase of 11.9% over the pcp. Earnings before interest and tax also rose by 2.3% to $76.7 million.

    The reported earnings were below analysts' expectations for the year, raising fears it will not meet its earnings' guidance, especially as earnings are generally higher in the first half of the year in this industry sector. One cause of the reduced earnings was drought in some areas of New Zealand.
    Pact Group earnings report
    Fairfax Media report
    Super Retail Group
    Super Retail Group reports first half 2014/15 results

    Overall sales grew by 5.7% for the half year over the pcp, reaching $1158.7 million. EBIT however, recorded a fall to $94.1 million, a decline of 7% over the pcp. NPAT also fell to $33.6 million, down 45.5% over the pcp.

    The Auto division increased overall sales by 4% to $431.5 million, with same-store sales growth of 2.1% compared to the pcp. But overall EBIT fell by 1.6% to $44.2million. The company reported sales growth in all categories except for tools. Growth was positive for all states, except Queensland.

    The company added six new stores, and refurbished 13, including two superstores.
    Investors' report
    UGL Limited
    UGL reports results for first half FY 2014/15

    Faced with a number of extraordinary items, UGL has reported a general decline in its fortunes. Operating revenue came in at $1957.2 million for the half, down by 12% on the pcp. EBIT also declined on the pcp, coming in at 56.5 million, down 28%.

    Underlying NPAT fell by 41% on the pcp, reporting as $29.3 million. Reported NPAT came in at a loss of $122.5 million. One of the major impairment items was the need to make a provision of $175 million for losses on the Ichthys CCPP Project. The slowdown in resources added a further $57.8 million impairment.
    Wesfarmers
    Wesfarmers reports first half of FY 2014/15

    For more details on Wesfarmers and Bunnings, please read the HNN report:
    Link
    Westfield Corporation
    Westfield reports full year FY 2014 results

    Westfield Corporation, which was formed on 30 June 2014, has reported its results to 31 December 2014. It currently has 40 retail centres in its portfolio, incorporating 7409 retail outlets, totalling $28.5 million in assets under management.

    Current EBIT is $446 million from gross income of $518 million.
    Woolworths
    Woolworths reports first half FY 2014/15 earnings

    HNN will be reporting more extensively on Woolworths/Masters in the coming week, but the following is a brief summary.

    Group EBIT came in at $2129.2 million before significant items, an increase of 4% over the pcp. After significant items, which is essentially a $148.2 million charge for the restructuring costs of Big W, the EBIT is $1981.0 million, resulting in a decline in EBIT of 3.3% compared with the pcp.

    For the Masters Home Improvement operation, the results were significantly worse than forecast by some reports. Rather than nearly matching the losses for the pcp, Masters recorded a loss of $112.2 million, a 56% increase on the loss of $71.9 million in the pcp. Masters did grow sales, however, recording revenue of $505 million, up by 28.5% on the pcp.

    The Home Timber and Hardware Group recorded sales of $483 million, up 19.9% on the pcp. Its EBIT came in at $9.0 million, up from $7.5 million in the pcp, an increase of 20%, in part driven by acquisitions.

    The managing director of Woolworths, Grand O'Brien, has affirmed his commitment to Masters, and repeated that he regards it as a long-term investment that is currently beginning to find its way.
    Woolworths results announcement
    Retailers
    Indie store update
    Staff from Cooper's Hardware are in the running for HTH Group's top award for young retailers
    HNN Sources
    True Value Hardware is one of the winners of Roy Morgan's 2014 Customer Satisfaction Awards
    Mitre 10 is part of the Help Find Me missing persons online campaign
    Click to visit the Globel Industries website for more information
    Cooper's Hardware in Bundaberg (QLD) has two team members as finalists for the Home Timber & Hardware (HTH) Group Best Young Retailer Award; True Value Hardware wins Roy Morgan's Hardware Store of the Year; and Mitre 10 is involved in a world first, missing persons campaign.
    Nominations for Cooper's staff

    Colleagues and cousins, Dominick Woodland and Jeremy Symonds, from Cooper's Hardware are in the running for this year's top award for young retailers from the HTH Group. To enter, the pair both submitted a short document demonstrating how they had implemented positive change in the store through excellent customer service and organising trade shows and events. Symonds told Bundaberg's NewsMail: "Taking home the award would be an honour and enable me to learn more about the industry and grow my skills and strengths for the future."

    The national award recognises the contribution and achievements made by young people employed by Home Timber & Hardware, Thrifty-Link Hardware and Plants Plus Garden Centres. It offers an employee under 30 the chance to win a $5000 education grant.
    True Value wins over customers

    True Value Hardware is one of the recipients of Roy Morgan's 2014 Customer Satisfaction Awards. Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research, recently presented 37 awards to businesses that topped their respective fields with outstanding levels of customer satisfaction. They were judged by more than 50,000 consumers and 12,000 decision makers.

    The annual Customer Satisfaction Awards are based on 12 months of data from Roy Morgan's Consumer Single Source and Business Single Source surveys. Levine said: "By aggregating 12 months' worth of responses to our Consumer and Business Single Source surveys, Roy Morgan is able to identify and celebrate those businesses...that have outperformed their competitors in customer satisfaction."
    Online search for missing persons

    A campaign to find missing persons was launched using corporate websites to publicise 50 long term cases. Help Find Me initially ran for a week but organisers hope it will become an annual event, with an expanding group of participating companies.

    Under the online project, the movement of a cursor on the search box of a company website triggers a drop-box showing a photograph and details of a missing person. An email connection is included, allowing the user to report possible sightings.

    Network founder Loren told Fairfax Media: "It costs nothing. Companies just paste a simple code into the back end of their websites." In addition to Mitre 10, other companies involved in the campaign include BankSA, Bank of Melbourne, Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, IGA Supermarkets, St. George, True Value Hardware and Mind Australia.
    Companies
    Hills will continue to go tech
    Hills' net profit after tax for the six months ended December 31, 2014 was down 36%
    BRW
    Chief executive Ted Pretty is determined to expand the Hills business
    Hills admits it will have challenges in the near future without its iconic Hills hoist clothesline
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Hills Ltd announced that net profit after tax for the six months ended December 31, 2014 was 36% lower at $9.02 million. Revenue was up 0.6% to $227 million.

    Chief executive Ted Pretty said the drop in the Australian dollar means it is difficult to pass on price increases to customers, while the subdued outlook for the Australian economy and the lack of spending by governments on big infrastructure projects will limit growth in the second half.

    Hills expects underlying profits for the second half of 2014-15 to be about the same as the first half, meaning full-year profits are likely to be between $18.5 million and $19.5 million.
    Tech transformation

    Pretty is predicting flat profits for the second half as the company embarks on a future without its iconic Hills hoist clothesline.

    However he is determined to expand the Hills business and said the company is eyeing several potential acquisitions.

    Pretty said Hills has the ability to fund them as it now has no debt and has signed a new banking facility with Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and the National Australia Bank for $110 million.

    He believes it is the cheapest time to borrow for several decades and if the right acquisitions come along, the company could spend up to $230 million-plus.

    Pretty said the deal struck with Woolworths where Hills handed control of the Hills hoist clothesline brand on January 1 to the retailing giant after almost 70 years was the right thing to do because Woolworths had enormous scale in sales and distribution. Hills also benefited from increased sales through a royalty payments deal.

    The company is working closely with Woolworths on expanding the range of home automation and security products under the Hills brand to be sold in Masters.

    Hills is now focusing on electronics, healthcare technology and security systems.
    News
    Interesting links
    The housing boom will continue to drive earnings in the medium term for Lend Lease
    HNN Sources
    Melbourne-based STUDIOMINT wins Best of Design at the 2015 Houzz Awards
    Liquid Nails has added to its Extreme product line
    Click to visit the HBT website for more information
    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Demand for apartments is fuelling growth at Lend Lease; Melbourne-based STUDIOMINT has been awarded Best of Design at the 2015 Houzz Awards; Furniture retailer Nick Scali continues to perform well; Woolworths is in partnership with eBay to drive online and offline sales; and Briggs & Stratton has introduced lithium-ion electric starting technology to gas-powered engines. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.
    Local News
    Apartments driving Lend Lease growth

    The housing boom will continue to drive earnings in the medium term, according to construction group Lend Lease. Strong demand for apartments has helped the company lift its profit by 25%. Lend Lease has 21 major apartment buildings in delivery, which will be a large driver of earnings between the 2015 and 2018 financial years.

    Results at glance:
  • Net profit of $315.6 million, up 25% from $251.6 million in 2013/14
  • Revenue of $5.9 billion, down 9% from $6.5 billion
  • Demand for apartments is delivering growth for Lend Lease
    STUDIOMINT wins Houzz design award

    As the winner of the Best of Design category at the 2015 Houzz Awards, Melbourne's STUDIOMINT was selected by more than 25 million users on the home renovation and design platform, and from a pool of over 500,000 home professionals worldwide. Design awards are granted to industry professionals whose work was the most popular among Houzz users.
    STUDIOMINT has won Best of Design category at the 2015 Houzz Awards
    Nick Scali sitting comfortably

    Nick Scali furniture stores are aimed at affluent 35- to 55-year-olds. Its other brand, Sofas2Go, is pitched at first-home buyers and renters. Net profit after tax in the first half to December 31, 2014 rose 28% to $10 million. Despite increasing sales 8.3%, the company managed to maintain its gross margins.

    Sales in January grew 7%. The company has also been expanding and there will be seven new stores by June, taking the total to 41.
    Nick Scali achieved solid results in the first December-half
    Woolworths, eBay partnership

    Woolworths is joining forces with eBay to boost spending by making it easier for shoppers to collect online purchases. The partnership means eBay customers will be able to pick up their online orders from parcel pick up points and lockers in more than 90 Woolworths supermarkets and BIG W stores.

    Woolworths hopes the click and collect service will increase foot traffic and sales in its bricks and mortar stores, while eBay believes the deal will fuel online sales by giving shoppers more options for taking delivery of their orders.
    Woolies and eBay join forces to boost spending
    Whirlpool launches KitchenAid Australia

    US-based Whirlpool Corporation has purchased the KitchenAid assets from local distributor Peter McInnes, and will take over the wholesaling as KitchenAid Australia. The change was effective 15 January 2015.

    The new subsidiary will be run by general manager Alan Coupe, who was previously the managing director of Peter McInnes for 11 years. KitchenAid Australia will be retaining the same team that oversaw the brand at Peter McInnes.
    US-based Whirlpool has purchased the KitchenAid assets from Peter McInnes
    International News
    Easy to start engines

    Briggs & Stratton's engine experts combined the reliable power of lithium-ion battery technology with its gasoline powered engines to offer InStart(r), the "easiest electric starting engine" ever. Available exclusively on Cub Cadet lawn mowers, InStart along with Briggs & Stratton's ReadyStart(r) Starting System, requires no priming, no choking and no rope to pull.
    Briggs & Stratton's InStart is the "easiest electric starting engine" ever
    Android app for Kevo smart lock

    Kwikset has released an Android app for its Bluetooth-enabled smart lock, Kevo. The app will allow Android users with compatible devices to experience Kevo's full functionality previously only available to iOS users. The Kevo Android app is available for download from the Google Play store to select devices that support Android 5.0 Lollipop (L) software.
    Kwikset has released an Android app for Kevo
    Paint technology, made in Dakota

    Inventors at the University of North Dakota have created a unique paint can sealing product. The One-Punch & No-Mess Paint Can Sealer is a low-cost, one-step solution for quickly sealing paint cans of various sizes with just one hit of a hammer. As an added feature, the sealer doubles as storage for paint can opening keys.
    The One-Punch & No-Mess Paint Can Sealer is a low-cost, one-step solution
    Solution for stuck locks

    WD-40 Company is launching 3-IN-ONE Lock Dry Lube to help loosen and lubricate stuck locks and protect them from corrosion. An attachable straw delivers the formula into narrow lock mechanisms to penetrate stuck locks quickly and deeply. Lock Dry Lube can also be used without the straw for a wider spray pattern to refurbish and protect the entire lock. It is quick-drying and safe to use on metal, wood and most plastic surfaces.
    3-IN-ONE Lock Dry Lube helps loosen and lubricate stuck locks
    Liquid Nails expands Extreme range

    Liquid Nails has added to its Extreme product line with the addition of Extreme Landscape Block, Stone and Timber Adhesive. The latest offerings are designed for use with stone, block and timber, including bonding and repair applications. The adhesive uses a latex-based formula for added strength.
    Liquid Nails has added to its Extreme product line
    Bigbox
    Big box update
    Masters Lismore in NSW is now open to customers
    HNN Sources
    Bunnings latest store in Blacktown recently had its grand opening celebrations
    A planned Bunnings store in Tura Beach (NSW) has attracted resistance
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    The Masters Lismore store in NSW has been officially opened; Bunnings now has four outlets in Blacktown City (NSW); and local residents are against a planned Bunnings in Tura Beach (NSW).
    Masters comes to Lismore

    Masters Lismore is now open to customers and general manager Greg McMahon told the Northern Star that despite the rain on opening day, staff were always "flat out" as people flocked to the large hardware store. McMahon said the store employed 104 local people and brings a competitive edge to Lismore, providing more options for people when it comes to home improvement.

    The 10,000sqm facility stocks 35,000 different items and is classed as a "medium-sized" Masters store.
    Bunnings store in Blacktown City

    Bunnings latest store in Blacktown is on the corner of the Great Western Highway and Reservoir Road. V8 Supercar Mark Winterbottom officially opened the store while X Factor winner Marlisa Punzalan performed at its grand celebration, a few days later.

    Over 130 locals are part of the new Blacktown team, which has already worked on several community projects including an outdoor kitchen makeover at Blacktown North Public School and repairs to the Blacktown Salvation Army kitchen.
    Resistance to Bunnings rezoning

    The NSW Planning Department's decision to overrule Bega Valley Shire Council's recommendation to rezone land in Tura Beach to allow a Bunnings store has prompted an outcry from residents. Many took to social media to vent their frustrations that the decision appears to limit opportunities in the local area.

    Merimbula News Weekly posted a poll on Facebook to gauge residents' opinions. The results to date are:
  • Should the NSW Planning Department be allowed to overturn council's decision to rezone the Tura Site? 71% of respondents (154 people) said no.
  • Would you have liked to see a Bunnings store at the Tura Beach site? 88% (140 people) said yes.

  • A spokesman from the Department of Planning and Environment said proposals to change planning rules are rigorously assessed on their merits.
    Retailers
    Super Retail exits NZ chain
    Super Retail Group will close its FCO Fishing Camping and Outdoor chain in New Zealand
    WA Today
    The Ray's Outdoor stores will be overhauled
    Super Retail Group's net profit went down 45.5% to $33.6 million in the December-half
    Click to visit the Globel Industries website for more information
    After a long-running strategic review, Super Retail Group has decided to reposition its Ray's Outdoors business but close the loss-making FCO Fishing Camping and Outdoor chain in New Zealand at a total cost of around $27 million.

    Super Retail also plans to spend more than $25 million overhauling the Ray's Outdoor stores by adding products such as kayaks, mountain bikes and hiking boots to cater to more adventurous customers and win market share from outdoor leisure specialists such as Anaconda and Kathmandu.

    It will be closing five underperforming stores and relocating other stores. Chief executive Peter Birtles said the outdoor leisure market was worth $3.5 billion. He told Fairfax Media:
    The business has focused historically on the traditional customer and that traditional customer is a declining part of the market. We are seeing the whole market moving from general leisure to adventure -- two-thirds of customers are looking for some form of adventure as they undertake their camping or caravanning trips.

    The company recently hired Anthony Heraghty, the former head of Pacific Brands' underwear business, to run the leisure division.

    One-off restructuring costs associated with the FCO exit and repositioning of Ray's Outdoors sent Super Retail Group's net profit down 45.5% to $33.6 million in the December-half of its financial year.

    Despite 5.7% sales growth, underlying net profit fell 5.6% to $58.1 million as weaker earnings from the leisure division offset modest earnings growth at Super Cheap Auto and Rebel and Amart sporting goods stores.

    However, Birtles is confident that underlying earnings will rise around 20% in the second half which will be underpinned by higher margins and a rebound in same-store sales across all three divisions. Birtles said:
    Last year we had a tough second half, with cannibalisation in leisure and there was a six-week period post the budget where we had a real slowdown that impacted on profits.
    We've sorted out the cannibalisation and system (SAP) issues, we have good momentum and we wouldn't expect that same post-budget issue we had last year.
    Customer perception

    While other retailers have described consumer sentiment as fragile, Birtles says Super Retail Group's customers are feeling more positive thanks to lower petrol prices and falling interest rates. He said:
    We tend to have more of that mass market customer and they have more dollars to spend.

    Like-for-like sales had grown by around 3.5% in the auto division, 6.5% in leisure and 9% in sports. This is above the growth rates achieved in the first-half and last year. Birtles said:
    We will be focusing on lifting gross margin but we need to be careful to manage the trade-off with sales momentum in an environment in which customer confidence is still patchy. Our ability to manage this trade-off will be critical.

    Prices were expected to increase in auto and sporting goods to counter the effects of the weaker Australian dollar.
    Products
    Smart deadbolt lock "bolt"
    Lockitron's smart bolt is part of its lineup of keyless home locking system devices
    Mac Rumours
    The Bolt Bridge connects the bolt to the internet and acts as a middle man
    It provides users with an app to access their home deadbolts via Bluetooth Low Energy
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    Lockitron developed a smart bolt as part of its lineup of keyless home locking devices.

    The basics of the device provides users with a free-to-download app to unlock and lock their home deadbolts via Bluetooth Low Energy. This means a user must be near the lock to interact with it. However the lock will keep working in the event of a power outage.

    The bolt also features sharing access to other smartphone users. It has an activity logging function to track when someone interacts with the lock. It has "sense" which either automatically unlocks the bolt when you walk up to the door, or prompts the user with an easy-to-confirm notification.

    In addition, Lockitron will sell the Bolt Bridge which connects the bolt to the internet and acts as a middle man to send a Bluetooth signal via a user's phone to the bolt itself. So customers can unlock the deadbolt for someone else while they are away from home.

    The new device replaces a deadbolt on a user's door altogether. Lockitron decided to look to smart home thermostat Nest as an example of a product that requires a significant amount of setup but leaves its users with a far more satisfying experience upon completion. Lockitron co-founder Cameron Robertson told TechCrunch recently:
    Basically, as long as we could break the setup down into 20 tiny, doable steps, it didn't really matter that it required removing the old deadbolt.

    The Lockitron smart bolt can be pre-ordered from the company's website. A Preview Edition, with a limit of 1,000 units, began shipping in March. A final consumer-ready edition is slated for later in the year and will arrive in a variety of finishes to match different door styles.
    Editorial
    Kaboodle gets its advertising kit together
    A great ad by Kaboodle from Australian House and Garden magazine
    HNN sources
    Kaboodle kitchens
    How Bunnings markets kitchens online
    Give to Amnesty International
    One of the best Australian home improvement retail print advertisements HNN has seen over the past year is Kaboodle's recently launched ad for kitchens.

    A version of this appears in the March 2015 Australian House & Garden magazine, on pages 178-9.

    It is worth noting because much of home improvement retail advertising -- including some other ads by Bunnings suppliers -- might be generously described as "lacklustre".

    Not only is this a good ad, but it also indicates something about Bunnings' strategy, and the challenges Australia's leading big box home improvement retailer faces in growing the kitchen category.

    This ad displays a clever understanding of a specific target market. What Kaboodle manages to resist playing to is established strengths -- low cost, value for money -- and instead highlight a different and more nuanced strength: accessibility.
    Conception

    While at first the conception seems familiar and evident -- an ad that could appear to be editorial -- what is going on here is far more subtle.

    What the ad achieves is to signal its intention to communicate in a manner that makes use of several editorial "tools". These tools are:
  • Narrative story of design/renovation
  • "Before and after" comparison
  • Interview format
  • Narrative

    The narrative is effectively and economically established by the key paragraph on the left page:
    After a recent "tree" change and having a whole lot more space to work with, Ben and Petra decided that their new kitchen really needed to be the true heart of the home.

    This is very clever. It establishes the following elements:
  • Tree change: new home, different lifestyle; slightly older couple; not first home.
  • More space: exchanging a cramped inner-suburban/city dwelling for a relaxed environment.
  • Heart of the home: as HNN mentioned in last week's editorial, this is the strong new trend, with kitchens becoming "the new living room".

  • Even if the reader is not directly engaged in this kind of renovation, it is something that is easily understood, and very easy to empathise with. It is aspirational -- not in financial, money terms, but rather in quality of life terms.
    Before and after

    While the overall ad carries an apparent "department" label of "before and after", the designer has cleverly moved this into the background. A series of three black and white images on the left side take up about 8% of the overall area of the ad, depicting the kitchen "before".

    These are overlaid with two small images of the "after" -- and, of course, there is the entire right page of the ad illustrating the new kitchen.

    This helps to establish accessibility. The narrative is not about a couple moving into a house which has an adequate kitchen, where they simply "cannot bear those cabinet handles, darling". The pre-existing kitchen isn't terrible, either, it just looks a little old-fashioned and basic.
    Interview format

    The interview "he says, she says" format is ideal for Kaboodle's communication. Not only does it enable the ad to engage both men and women, it enables the advertiser to communicate a great deal of information in a friendly, easy-to-read format. Some of what gets communicated includes:
  • Kitchen as centre of home
  • Kaboodle provides an online gallery to browse
  • Organic colours available
  • Cabinets feature lots of drawers
  • Benchtop can match fixtures
  • Benchtop is available in a single, seamless piece
  • Easy to install, though it requires some effort
  • Soft close drawers and wire baskets available
  • Kitchen as place of socialising as well

  • If you think how clunky and unappealing that information would normally be, you can see just how well the interview format has been used.
    Design

    There are a number of small, very clever touches to the design, most of which relate to improving the ad's crisp clarity, and at the same time softening its overall effect.

    For example, the text of the opening paragraph quoted above is set in a relatively large font, but that font has been subtly "screened" -- printed with a grid-pattern. This reduces the stark black to something closer to a grey.

    On the left page, there is a subtle cross-hatching pattern behind the text. This also softens the otherwise harsh white of the page background, making the page more welcoming.

    Perhaps the most bold decision in the design is that, even though the couple who built the kitchen are featured prominently, they are not pictured. This might seem like a lost opportunity, but in fact it avoids the possibility of alienation through using the "wrong" person. (And, of course, it also saves on costs.)
    The photograph

    The photograph on the right page is just as clever. An entire, largish kitchen is featured, but the picture shows only two complete cabinet handles, and two half-handles in the background. That is important, because Kaboodle is an inexpensive brand, and the hardware is one place where this clearly shows.

    In fact, the picture is so well conceived that the cabinets attract little attention. The eye focuses instead on the kitchen counters and the attractive windowed space at the back of the kitchen.

    To just how clever the picture is, you need only compare it to a very slightly different photograph of the same kitchen. First the original photo:
    The ad photo

    And then another photo from the Kaboodle website:
    The non-ad photo

    The angle on the second photo is just slightly higher, and the crop is much wider. The result is a much more ordinary looking kitchen.
    The target market

    As HNN mentioned last week in its description of changes to the kitchen market, the "sweet spot" has moved from the top of the basic segment to the bottom of the middle segment. In many ways this ad represents an attempt by Kaboodle to extend its brand up into that middle market.

    Specifically it is targeted at people who have moved to a larger, potentially better dwelling, perhaps taking a considerable financial commitment in so doing. The kitchen needs to be replaced, but they cannot afford the $15,000 or so it would take to do that normally.

    Kaboodle's message in this ad is that it can provide an effective alternative in such a situation. It can be self-installed, and stylish enough to at least get by through the next four or five years.
    But not the best

    As cleverly conceived as this ad is, it still does not match up to some of the best work by kitchen makers such as IKEA. For example:
    A Canadian IKEA kitchen ad

    And also:
    Brooklyn never had it so good

    The difference is really one of confidence. Kaboodle knows it is stretching its appeal to its very limits, while IKEA is quite comfortable moving into more stylish environments.
    The problems of moving upscale

    It's a great effort, and Kaboodle deserves both recognition and market response for it. However it also points out how deep some of the problems are that Bunnings faces in the evolving kitchen market.

    Using clever advertising like this, the market for Kaboodle can be broadened, but that will only go so far. Beyond that point, some kind of new brand presence must be established. Even if sourcing such a new brand is possible, how will it be positioned both in Bunnings own marketing, and in the physical stores?

    Perhaps most important of all, how will Bunnings customers react to this kind of market segmentation?

    Before signing off, just a reminder that this issue of HNN includes expanded coverage of Bunnings Earnings Results FY2015H1 in PDF format to download. To access this special report, click here to the following links:
    Bunnings full report, high-resolution (2.2 MB)
    Bunnings full report, low-resolution (400kb)

    Until next time,

    Betty

    You can contact me directly via email betty@hnn.bz or Twitter @HNN_Australia

    To receive a daily dose of HNN, download the free HNNBrowser app from the Apple store:
    HNN iPad App
    Bigbox
    Bunnings earnings FY2015 first half summary
    Bunnings results summary
    HNN sources
    Link to HNN's low res version of the full PDF report
    Wesfarmers earnings presentation
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    This item is a condensed version of a longer PDF report prepared by HNN. To directly download the (free) PDF please use the following links:
    Bunnings full report, high-resolution (2.2 MB)
    Bunnings full report, low-resolution (400kb)

    The financial results of Bunnings and Wesfarmers for the first half of FY 2014/15 (FY2015H1) provide challenges to interpretation. Bunnings produced a very strong performance, including a 9.1% increase in store-on-store retail sales.

    However, HNN's calculations indicate that this was close to the background growth in the industry for Bunnings.
    Bunnings results summary

    Of more significance for home improvement retailers, the managing director of Bunnings, John Gillam, used the earnings report as an opportunity to communicate a subtle but significant shift in the company's strategic outlook.

    Encapsulated in the phrase "the margin is just the outcome", this shift signals a real maturation in Bunnings' approach to retail. It is a definitive change from an emphasis on customer buying behaviour, to customer experience and engagement with the brand (its people, products and community -- including digital community).
    Bunnings commentary

    There were three significant issues covered in the prepared remarks of Mr Gillam, and his subsequent answers to questions by investment analysts. These include a shift in Bunnings' market strategy, the increasing importance of the light commercial category, and the company's intent to deepen its digital ecosystem.
    "The margin is just the outcome"

    In response to a question from Andrew McLennan of Commonwealth Bank that dealt with the slight decline in Bunnings' margin, Mr Gillam began by reiterating some of the primary values of Bunnings. He said:
    It's very clear to us that the right thing for our business to do for the next five, ten years when we look out is to really grow volume hard and win more business than ever before, win across light commercial, heavy commercial, and consumers, and expand our brand reach. And that means creating more value, creating better experiences, offering better and better service, doing that digitally, doing that physically.

    He concluded with this statement:
    And the margin's just an outcome. When we look at those really big thoughts, that's what guides us.

    Put in the crudest possible terms, this could be interpreted as Mr Gillam saying Bunnings is willing to buy market share through reduced margins. What he is really saying, however, is that margin is a distraction.

    It is the relationship with the customer that is paramount. If that is strong, and if it is backed up with "the best offer", adequate margins will develop as a consequence.
    The rise of light commercial

    Michael Simotas of Deutsche Bank asked Mr Gillam to provide a bit more detail around the commercial area of Bunnings. Mr Gillam responded with a description of what he terms "light commercial", and its increasing importance to Bunnings:
    Light commercial is a very big white space because that's products, repairs, maintenance, general upkeep, and on all buildings and all grounds, not just homes and gardens. And that's a very exciting growth opportunity for us.
    Digital ecosystem

    As the above remarks indicate, Mr Gillam seems to have an increased interest in the potential of digital developments to improve Bunnings. In his opening remarks, he stated that:
    We've challenged ourselves over the past five or so years to accelerate our brand reach, expanding our physical network and creating the depth and breadth of our digital ecosystem and widening the services we offer.

    Later in those remarks he added:
    In line with my comments last year at the May Strategy Day and the August results briefing, our brand reach is accelerating, digitally and physically. The work growing and enhancing our digital ecosystem is exciting and our network is expanding.

    This double emphasis was backed up in the visual presentation, with a reference to the digital ecosystem appearing prominently on at least two separate slides.
    Analysis: the new approach

    The word that comes to mind in assessing these apparent changes in Bunnings' strategy is "maturity".

    Partly that is the maturity of the home improvement retail market itself. Over the past decade, consumers have become "educated" in how to buy products, and the consequences of the price/quality curve. Bunnings during this time has grown in the appreciation of its customers from being a price-based retailer to a part of their daily culture. They trust Bunnings, they like Bunnings -- but they also want more from it.
    Acknowledgement

    HNN would like to sincerely thank the share market analysis website Seeking Alpha for having made the transcript of the Bunnings earnings call available, and generously permitting republication of some of this material. It is a great way to support and foster the free flow of company information on the internet. The original transcript of the earnings call can be found on Seeking Alpha at:
    Seeking Alpha transcript
    Links to the full text

    The above item is a condensed version of a longer PDF report prepared by HNN. To directly download the (free) PDF please use the following links:
    Bunnings full report, high-resolution (2.2 MB)
    Bunnings full report, low-resolution (400kb)
    Companies
    Taubmans Paint consumer ad campaign
    Taubmans is seeking to inspire people to "get started" by making painting light-hearted
    Mumbrella
    "Let's Go Paint" focuses on alleviating feelings of nervousness when it comes to painting
    Naked Communications is the advertising agency behind the campaign
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Taubmans Paint plans to reinvigorate the paint category with its latest strategy, "Let's Go Paint" which is about helping customers overcome their feelings of nervousness and being overwhelmed when it comes to the painting process.

    The company is seeking to inspire people to "get started" by making painting light-hearted. Its first campaign from recently appointed advertising agency Naked Communications uses this concept as its central theme.

    Nadine Miller-Vachon, marketing director of architectural coatings for Australia and New Zealand told the Mumbrella website that Taubmans had undergone extensive research as part of its rebranding almost 12 months ago. She said:
    The key insight was that consumers have this hidden sense of anxiety and they are daunted about the painting process, especially the DIY consumer...there seems to be this permanency, they have to get it right the first time.
    ...We wanted to reframe our brand to alleviate how consumers feel towards the overall category and as a result we came up with 'Let's Go Paint' which is our new brand campaign.

    The first ad of the campaign depicts a "paint party" which is set up to convey that the act of painting can be fun and not something to be nervous about. Miller-Vachon said:
    It is very different to the other TV commercials which are in the marketplace. It's more inspirational, it shows people painting and painting in a more joyful manner than just focusing on product features and benefits. We want people to paint and enjoy the painting process and not be daunted by it.

    The campaign launches in Easter but Miller-Vachon said it is the first part of a long-term brand platform and will be carried through "for years to come".
    News
    Interesting links
    Fast fashion giant Zara launches homewares store at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne
    Web-based homewares retailer Temple & Webster hopes to reach $50 million in revenue in 2015
    Valspar Paint is launching the brand in the UK market
    Click to visit the HBT website for more information
    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. Fast fashion giant Zara launches homewares store at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne; Actisafe parts storage systems can be customised for the user; Australian-based online homewares store aims for $50 million revenue; Valspar Paint launches in the UK; and online plant offer from Homebase. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.
    Local News
    Homewares market expands with Zara

    International fast fashion retailer Zara has opened its first Australian bricks-and-mortar store in Melbourne's Highpoint Shopping Centre. Industry experts say established larger players such as Harvey Norman and IKEA, as well as smaller independent competitors, who will face pressure long term.
    Zara's homewares store in Melbourne's Highpoint Shopping Centre
    Parts storage for workshops

    Actisafe offers a parts storage solution for workshops to organise their tools, parts and components. The open configuration facilitated by the modular-style storage units means a clear view of the tools for workers who can easily detect missing tools, or replenish parts. Actisafe is a recognised supplier for the defence industry.
    Actisafe has a parts storage solution for workshops to organise their tools
    Growth for online homewares store

    Web-based homewares retailer Temple & Webster was launched in 2011 by Brian Shanahan and his co-founders. Shanahan was formerly chief financial officer of eBay Australia and managing director of Gumtree International. The subscription-based online retailer turned over $28 million in the 2014 calendar year and hopes to reach $50 million in revenue in 2015.
    Web-based retailer Temple & Webster hopes to reach $50 million in revenue in 2015
    International News
    Valspar Paint enters UK market

    Valspar Paint has encouraged a change in attitude towards paint and colour, and to '"Colour outside the lines", as it launches in the UK. With help from agency FCB Inferno, the North American paint company is positioning itself as a challenger in the market with a campaign spanning TV, website, online banners and social media.
    Valspar Paint is launching the brand in the UK market
    Benjamin Moore wins consumer award

    Paint brand Benjamin Moore's Natura and INSL-X GarageGuard have each been named 2015 Product of the Year, in a consumer-voted award for product innovation. Winners are selected by the votes of 40,000 US-based consumers in a survey conducted by global research company, TNS. Natura and GarageGuard have taken home the top honours for the paint category.
    Benjamin Moore's Natura and INSL-X GarageGuard have been recognised for their innovation
    ECHOtape available on HomeDepot.com

    Tape supplier, ECHOtape's full repair line will now be sold online by through HomeDepot.com. Launched in 2014, the range provides contractors with an alternative to duct tapes, and is designed to deliver solutions for repairs, sealing and waterproofing. The products include three types of repair tapes with different colour options.
    ECHOtape's repair line is being be sold online through HomeDepot.com
    Homebase selling plants online

    UK's Homebase is expanding its online offer to include thousands of plants from March 2015. Larger plants will be available for home delivery. The retailer is also launching a new garden power brand, Sovereign. It has 19 products including a 24v cordless mower which charges in 1.5 hours and cuts up to 250sqm of lawn on a single charge.
    UK's Homebase will sell plants online from March 2015
    Electric boilers through entu

    Flowgroup has signed a deal with UK home improvement group entu which allows it to sell, install and maintain Flowgroup's boiler and market its home energy offer. The domestic boiler can generate electricity and reduce household power bills. Manchester-based Entu was founded in 2008 and achieved revenues for 2013 of Stg 95 million. It represents a portfolio of 10 energy efficiency brands.
    Flowgroup's domestic boiler can generate electricity and reduce household power bills
    Smart home company sold to British Gas

    British Gas is buying AlertMe in a deal that values the business at Stg 65 million. British Gas already owned a 21% stake in the company and is set to pay Stg 44 million for the remainder.

    AlertMe creates smart home technology that allows people to control and monitor everything from heating to CCTV on their smartphone or tablet. It works with a range of other businesses including home improvement chain Lowe's.
    British Gas is buying smart home company AlertMe
    Reports
    Energy-based opportunities for retailers
    The duck curve of energy usage
    University of Western Australia
    Utility death spiral
    PCT market take-up: Navigant Research
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Recent studies and industry developments make it likely Australia's energy future will be determined by the interaction between three different technologies. Those technologies are:
  • Solar power
  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs)

  • The initial benefits of these technologies will be a reduction in electricity demand during peak periods, which will reduce the need for investment in energy provision.

    For home improvement retail, the three technologies represent potential strong revenue streams that will ramp up over the next three to four years, with PCTs representing the best near-term potential.
    Solar

    In an interesting article in the Business Spectator posted online, Tristan Edis comments on the kinds of usage patterns solar energy is likely to produce.
    WA's utility death spiral

    Mr Edis draws heavily on the work of Adjunct Professor William Grace from the University of Western Australia, who released a study into Western Australia's South West Interconnected System (SWIS) electricity utility, entitled "Exploring the death spiral". The study primarily explores the impact of the uptake of residential and commercial adoption of solar energy on the utility.
    Exploring the death spiral

    Prof. Grace's main conclusion is that solar electricity in the region SWIS serves will grow at an order of magnitude (10 times) greater than has been projected. This will be due to the effects of what is known in utility circles as the "death spiral".

    Prof. Grace illustrates the death spiral with this diagram:
    Utility death spiral

    In this model consumers find themselves under stress due to high utility prices, and so use energy more efficiently and find additional sources of energy. Demand falls, so price per unit is increased by the utilities (due to the high fixed costs of their energy generation and delivery networks). This then causes to consumers to invest more in conservation and private energy production.

    Prof. Grace is essentially saying that we are at the early stages of this spiral, and that it will accelerate over the next few years. According to figures supplied in the study, the penetration of solar power in states such as Queensland and South Australia is well over 20%.
    The Duck Curve

    Today the production of solar power does not only affect individuals, but the entire grid, as excess power is fed back into the grid, and the producers compensated.

    One of the more interesting consequences of this is shown in one graph from Prof. Grace's study, and is highlighted by Mr Edis in his Business Spectator article. The graph shows the predicted electricity generation loads on SWIS through an average day in the month of March:
    "Duck Curve" of future energy usage

    This graph illustrates two problem points in electricity generation. The first is that is the prediction that in 2026 between the hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm the SWIS grid will experience null demand.

    The second is that at that between 5:00pm and 8:00pm network demand reaches a peak. This is due to a combination of high consumer demand,and a falling contribution by solar energy.

    Both of these states - no demand and very high demand - introduce problems. Electricity networks effectively cannot function if there are periods of no demand. Further, those networks must be designed to accommodate maximum demand.
    Battery storage

    One solution Prof. Grace suggests for this high fluctuation is the introduction of forms of electricity storage, mostly in the form of lithium-ion batteries.

    Private solar energy suppliers could then divert their excess electricity production to storage during the middle of the day when production is high and residential demand is lower, then draw on that supply during peak times late in the day when solar energy production is reduced.

    He illustrates how storage would affect network loads with this graph of network loads for a January (summer) day in 2034.
    Projected network loads for a January day in 2034

    This is partially based on Prof. Grace's projections for future adoption of solar and storage systems, as illustrated in this graph:
    Projections to 2035 for take-up of solar and battery storage

    These projections are in part based on projections provided by Bloomberg on the dropping cost of lithium-ion battery storage in the future. Prof. Grace reproduces a Bloomberg graph of their projections:
    Dropping cost of Li-ion storage, per Bloomberg

    The rate of take-up for some form of battery storage would depend on a calculation of the price differential between how much a utility paid for energy put back into the grid and how much the same energy cost to buy from the grid, in relation to the cost of storing that energy and using it at a later time. As the price of storage drops, it becomes much more economical to store and use rather that sell the energy to the utility, and buy energy back at a later time.
    Programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs)

    Interestingly, Prof. Grace makes no mention in his study of the possible role of PCTs.

    PCTs enable a reduction in energy usage during those times of the day when it typically reaches a peak. This can occur through two possible means.

    In the first, the utility company is given a measure of control over the PCT, and when it experiences a peak load, it "suggests" to the thermostat that it alter its settings to help reduce that load. The actual homeowner, in current trial systems, can always override that "suggestion".

    In the second, the thermostat works to time-shift heating/cooling away from the peak time. If a person gets home from work at 6pm, and turns the air-conditioning on full blast (along with many other people) the system can instead begin to cool the house down slowly at 4pm, so that by the time the person arrives home it will need only a minor kick in energy to reach a comfortable temperature.

    HNN has commented in the past that one of the possible ways the "smarthome" technology will make its way into the Australian market is through the spread of PCTs,and the benefits they bring when combined with some kind of central home controller. For further details, please see:
    Home automation report
    PCTs and solar

    It seems quite evident that the use of PCTs would fit very nicely with the problems Prof. Grace has outlined in his study. Overproduction of electricity during the midday period could be used to cool a house down to a quite low temperature, such as 19 degrees Celsius.

    The temperature could then be managed so that it was no higher than 28 degrees Celsius by 6:00pm. On average days the consumer might choose to reduce the temperature to 25 degrees Celsius, while on high peak demand days the PCT could transmit a request that the temperature be kept at 29 degrees Celsius to reduce network peak load.

    It seems likely this would have an effect of perhaps 50% of that of battery storage technology, but at a greatly reduced cost. The complete cost of thermostat and installation would be less than $1000. The utility would need infrastructure to support the system as well, of course.
    Solar, battery storage, PCTs and the smarthome

    As HNN has written in its past report on the smarthome, it is at this point that much of the smarthome technology currently being developed begins to make sense.

    For example, the PCT could alert the house to a peak energy usage situation. The clothes-washer could stop washing and enter a "maintain freshness" state where it rotated its drum three times an hour, and refreshed the soaking water once an hour. The dishwasher would delay washing until 10pm, and so forth. There are probably at least a dozen more such interconnected actions.
    Home improvement retail

    Each of these three technologies offers some form of revenue opportunity for retailers.
    Solar

    The ability for most home improvement retailers, both big-box and independent, to take advantage of residential solar panel sales has been limited in Australia.

    Retailers such as IKEA in the UK have had some success with these sales, but it requires a split panel+installation sales process. As demand increases and the technology stabilises there will likely be more opportunities.
    Battery storage

    This market has yet to establish itself. As the cost of medium-scale Li-ion storage drops, and becomes more familiar, a better market will likely develop. Li-ion batteries operating under constant charge cycles can have a life of as little as six years, depending on environmental factors. The need for replacement, and also easy expansion will likely lead to systems of "plug-in" batteries, opening up opportunities for retailers to sell directly to consumers.

    However, this is a market in a very early stage, and is unlikely to develop to the retail stage for another three to four years.
    PCTs

    In contrast with the two technologies listed above, PCTs are much easier to sell through retail. Installation is not simple, particularly for a new PCT that replaces an older system, but they can be managed by many DIYers.

    Even if professional help is needed, it is likely the process will follow the light fitting/plumbing model, where the consumer purchases the products, and the tradesman install them.

    The market for PCTs is estimated to become quite considerable. Navigant Research, which specialises in this area, provides this projection:
    PCT market take-up: Navigant Research

    The chart indicates that the Asia-Pacific market is forecast to reach over US$500 million before 2021. Australia would likely be responsible for at least 40% of that expenditure.

    As HNN has stated previously, this take-up of PCTs will trigger a range of additional smarthome purchases, including all appliances and a range of household conveniences. It is likely the market in Australia will top $2 billion by 2021.
    Conclusion

    What HNN has presented here is a summary of how various energy technologies will likely come together in the future. PCTs are ideally suited to managing the energy needs of Australia. However, other factors will alter the exact way in which they are adopted. For example, social changes that see an increase in telecommuting would shift energy usage patterns, as would more flexibility in terms of hours of work.
    Companies
    Stanley Black & Decker FY2014 results positive
    How brushless motors work
    Stanley Black & Decker
    Stanley Black & Decker results presentation slides
    Video on Stanley Black & Decker's manufacturing IT
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) has reported sales revenue growth of 4% for its Australian operations during FY 2014. The result was broadly inline with results from other geographic regions. Australia's fourth quarter FY 2014 performance also returned 4% growth, the same result as was obtained from Europe and Canada, but trailing results from the US and emerging markets. SBD's Japanese market struggled during the fourth quarter, losing 9%.

    Overall, company revenues grew by 4%, and by 5% based on organic (non-acquisition entity based) numbers, reaching US$11.3 billion, up from US$10.9 billion for FY 2013. The two company divisions that contributed the most were construction/do-it-yourself (CDIY) which gained 7%, and industrial, which gained 5%.

    Increases in volume and a modest increase in prices were the main drivers behind the growth. Currency fluctuations created a challenging environment for the global company's operations.

    The company attributed much of its success to the breadth and reach of its products. Speaking during an analysts' conference call to announce the results, the president and chief operating officer of SBD, James Loree, noted that:
    We are the only player with major positions in each of power tools, hand tools, accessories and storage, as well as significant global channel presence in all four major end markets, construction, DIY, industrial, and auto repair.

    Customer relationships, particularly in Europe, also helped with growth, according to Mr Loree:
    U.S. has been professional power tools primarily. Europe it s been right across the board. Hand tools, power tools and even home products, some tremendous innovation in a segment of the business or sub-segment that s more important in Europe than it is in the U.S. But doing particularly well and the words in the press release said expanded customer relationships, that s exactly what that means. We ve gotten new distribution with customers particularly in Europe but elsewhere, expanded shelf space and new distribution displacing both competitors and in some cases private label that s also helped that growth.
    Fourth quarter FY 2014 results

    Fourth quarter FY 2014 numbers contributed considerably to overall growth, with revenues increasing 3% over the previous corresponding period, to reach US$3.0 billion. CDIY contributed 11% organic growth, driven by 14% organic growth in the North American market.

    This was driven by ongoing strong demand for tools, and good sales during the holiday season. Offsetting this, currency losses amounted to US$30 million, and losses for the year are set at US$85 million.

    Professional power tools showed growth of 20%, tools and storage grew by 10%, fastenings by 7% and consumer products by 2%. Specific product lines called out as good performers were DeWalt storage, adhesives, hand tools, Stanley FatMax power tools, and Bostitch hand and power tools.
    Product categories

    In particular, the company emphasised the good sales performance of its DeWalt line of brushless, lithium-ion battery based cordless power tools. Mr Loree pointed out that this type of tool now represents 20% of the overall cordless market. SBD CEO John Lundgren, in response to an analyst's question, outlined that SBD has marketshare of 40% of that 20%.

    Mr Loree expanded on his comments about brushless tools later in the conference call, saying:
    [I]f you go back to the professional power tools being up 20%, and I think that could be a clue as to, where the most significant growth has been, and a lot of that has to do with the cordless market and in specifically the DC brushless market. And so, I think it's really flying off the shelves, and it's a great - and it's a completely redesigned tool, and its price/value combination is very, very competitive. Its performance characteristics really are untouchable in the market right now with - by the competitors, and it does it at a price that is reasonable, slightly above competition.

    Mr Lundgren also noted how brands such as Stanley FatMax had benefitted from the size and scope of the merged company. Explaining how the company had achieved good growth in power tools, he said:
    ...the flexibility that we ve with our brands with DeWalt, with Black & Decker, with Bostitch, with Stanley FatMax which is growing significantly, Porter Cable and so on. The ability to leverage those new products across those brands and then across the global geographies at the same time with a scale that we've managed to put together with both hand tools and power tools in the global footprint of the company, that s how we re doing it.
    2015 outlook

    Looking ahead to 2015, SBD expects to see organic growth of approximately 3% to 4%. Currency fluctuations will remain a factor, and create a drag of US$140 on earnings. In the CDIY sector, the company expects to see positive growth of less than 10%.
    Acknowledgement

    HNN would like to sincerely thank Seeking Alpha for making the transcript of the Stanley Black & Decker earnings call available to us, and to other media outlets. It is a generous and helpful contribution internet media.
    Full transcript on Seeking Alpha
    Careers
    International appointments
    Michael H. McGarry is president and chief operating officer at PPG Industries
    HNN Sources
    Christiane Gruen is 3M's first female managing director for the UK and Ireland
    Stacey Tank will lead communications and external affairs at The Home Depot
    Visit the Mecca Website
    PPG Industries appoints Michael H. McGarry as president and chief operating officer; 3M UK and Ireland gains female leadership; and new head of communications at The Home Depot.
    Paint company president

    As president and COO at PPG Industries, Michael McGarry will have responsibility for all of PPG's strategic business units. In 34 years with PPG, McGarry has served in a variety of key business and functional leadership roles in the United States, Europe and Asia. In addition, he helped lead several strategic actions such as the acquisition of SigmaKalon; the separation of PPG's former commodity chemicals business; the acquisition and integration of AkzoNobel's North American architectural coatings business; and the acquisition of Consorcio Comex, S.A. de C.V.

    He will remain based at PPG's global headquarters in Pittsburgh and will continue to report to chairman and CEO Charles E. Bunch.
    Female leader at 3M

    Christiane Gruen is 3M's first female managing director for the UK and Ireland. Gruen previously headed up the company's Alpine region covering Switzerland and Austria.

    3M is a strong supporter of the UK Government's "Your Life" campaign to encourage greater participation among women in the career choices of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and Gruen's own career embodies that spirit. In her new role, she leads 2,900 employees across 19 locations, including nine manufacturing sites.
    Home Depot PR strategy

    Stacey Tank is leaving her role as senior vice-president and chief corporate relations officer at Heineken USA to lead communications and external affairs at The Home Depot. She will report to CEO Craig Menear who took over the company in November 2014. Tank said one of her first objectives at Home Depot is to listen and learn from the team.

    She may also have an enormous challenge managing the communications for Home Depot's massive data breach from September 2014, that compromised 53 million customers' email addresses and 56 million credit card accounts. Following the breach, the retailer faced investigation by several state and federal agencies as well as at least 44 civil lawsuits in the US and Canada.
    Products
    Reinventing remodelling products
    SnapRays Guidelight is a light that becomes part of the outlet
    HamletHub
    Marwin's electric attic stair solves the problem of pull down attic stair
    SwatchDeck is a home design and decorating app that makes choosing colours very easy
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    A number of innovative products for renovations featured at the 2015 International Builders Show in Las Vegas. With over 1,200 exhibitors in just under 500,000 square feet of space, the companies represent some of the industry's top manufacturers and distributors.
    Snap Power

    Sometimes the best products come from the simplest ideas. Snap Power is revolutionising nightlights with its SnapRays Guidelight. Instead of a nightlight which is plugged into an outlet, Snap Power has created a light that becomes part of the outlet. It incorporates three LEDs into the outlet cover. Installation takes seconds, the lights cost around 10 US cents per year to operate, and it should last over 25 years.

    By day, the outlet cover appears as if it were a regular outlet, but at night it provides a soft illumination towards the floor or countertop to light the way.
    Electric attic stair

    Having to pull down and unfold heavy and cumbersome attic stairs can be a pain, especially for older people. US company Marwin has come out with a solution to this common problem with an electric attic stair that opens and closes with the touch of a button.
    Easy paint selection

    SwatchDeck is a design and decorating app that has been developed to make choosing colours for a home very easy. The app can be used to search, store, and share paint colours, products, finishes as well as decor.

    It has the ability to take any picture the user wants and the app will provide them with a wide variety of paint colours that match the picture.
    Companies
    BlueScope turnaround continues
    Bluescope revenue increased to $4.4 billion in the six months to December 2014
    The Bull
    BlueScope chief executive Paul O'Malley
    The company is forecasting its earnings for the half year to June 2015 will increase by 20%
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    BlueScope has reported a $92.7 million net profit after tax for the six months to December 2014, up from $3.7 million. This is an $89 million improvement on the same period in 2013.

    Revenue increased to $4.4 billion, up from $4.0 billion. After stripping out one-off items, underlying earnings grew by 62% to $79.6 million.

    The Australian steel business, which was the focus of several years of huge financial losses, was a star performer.

    It increased its pre-tax earnings more than fourfold to $64.7 million, due mainly to new home building in Australia. BlueScope chief executive Paul O'Malley said the weaker Australian dollar was helping it grow and if the currency stayed below 80 US cents it would spark a boom in a range of local industries. He said:
    As the Australian dollar has settled back into the 70s we can compete and the ability of Australian producers to manufacture products, higher education, tourism activities is competitive relative to the rest of the world again...
    We are seeing a more positive vibe across sectors, with small customer manufacturers of simple things like window frames or doors starting to say you can do it now more cost effectively than importing from overseas.

    In recent years, BlueScope Steel has been one of the Australian businesses most acutely affected by the strong dollar and high prices for its main inputs -- iron ore and coking coal.

    The company has not posted an annual profit after tax since the 2010 financial year, and since then, has reported more than $2 billion in losses.

    In the six months to December 2014, its North American building business also performed strongly during the peak summer building season, with earnings growing by 42%.

    Elsewhere though, results were patchy. The company said volume and margins were soft in Thailand because of political unrest, while market conditions for its China custom engineered buildings remained difficult.

    O'Malley said there is growth to come in industrial construction, education and tourism, but the company's fortunes are subject to the vagaries of the Australian dollar and further falls in steel prices.

    Bluescope is forecasting its earnings for the half year to June 2015 will increase by 20%, compared to the June 2014 half year.
    Bigbox
    Home Depot FY 2014 exceed expectations
    Summary of Home Depot results for FY 2014
    Home Depot
    Newly appointed Home Depot CEO Craig Menear continues to impress analysts
    Infographic of Home Depot latest results
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    US-based home improvement retailer Home Depot has partially released its full-year 2014 results (the full 10-k data is still to come). As the graphic indicates, sales revenue for the fourth quarter alone reached US$19.2 billion, an 8.3% increase on the previous corresponding period.

    Total sales for FY 2014 came in at US$83.2 billion, an increase of 5.5% on FY 2013. At the end of the fourth quarter, Home Depot had a total of 2,269 retail stores worldwide, including operations in Mexico and Canada.

    Future guidance provided by Home Depot indicates sales growth of between 3.5% and 4.7%, with comparable store sales (comps) growing by between 3.3% and 4.5%. Six new stores are planned, with five in Mexico, and one in Canada.

    During the questions and answer period the company responded candidly to a range of queries, many of them attempting to understand how Home Depot had such a good year. The topics covered included:
  • Sales categories
  • Price strategy
  • Online sales
  • Market growth
  • Sales categories

    The company indicated that a number of categories had outperformed during the fourth quarter. These included:
  • Tools
  • Timber
  • Millwork
  • Lighting
  • Decor
  • Building materials
  • Kitchen
  • Bath
  • Hardware

  • Home Depot also highlighted the performance of some categories in its Pro (trade) sector:
  • Compressors
  • Siding
  • Roofing
  • Ladders
  • Concrete
  • fasteners

  • A number of maintenance categories also did well, including
  • Water heaters
  • Wiring devices
  • Cleaning
  • Conduit
  • Caulks

  • In decor the following categories performed well:
  • Vanities
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Decorative holiday
  • Interior lighting
  • Hard surface flooring

  • Another sector that had outstanding growth was service, with areas such as appliance installation achieving over 10% growth.

    Home Depot highlighted its ongoing investment in its tool centres, with an ongoing program to refresh the tool offering in a few hundred stores every year.

    The company indicated it plans to invest further in paint, introducing a new paint colour solutions centre. It is introducing a new tile product that is "wood-look".

    The company also has plans to continue an expansion in appliances as well, with investment in 170 stores to expand their range offering.

    Another highlight was the use of data gathered from Home Depot's online operations to help guide the introduction of a range of vanity tops and storage combinations. This is currently in 100 stores, and the company plans to add "several hundred" more during FY 2015.
    Price strategy

    It was interesting to note the extent to which Home Depot's strategy is somewhat inline with that recently suggested by the managing director of Bunnings, John Gillam. The analyst Seth Sigman of Credit Suisse asked:
    [F]rom a merchandising perspective, are there still areas where you can push up pricing, whether it's adding more technology or adding different brands to the mix?

    Home Depot's executive vice president of marketing, Ted Decker responded:
    Well, I wouldn't say we specifically look at pushing up pricing, but certainly as we've talked to running the business as a portfolio and applying our merchandising and planning tools on assortments, we've seen that when we offer innovation and a better assortment, the customer has followed those price points.
    But again, we're letting the customer take us there, just showing great assortments and innovative product, and the customer is responding.
    Online sales

    Online revenue grew by US$1 billion during FY 2014, an increase of 36%. This equated to a 1.1% increase in the store-on-store (comp) earnings for the company.

    Home Depot highlighted several times during the earnings report that some 40% of orders made online were picked up in-store, on a "click and collect" basis.

    One area in particular that made good use of online ordering was patio (outdoor) furniture. The company was able to use its online ordering service to provide a range of combinations that would not have been possible in a physical store.

    Home Depot's new CEO, Craig Menear, made the point that online is a solution to some sales situations, but not all:
    [T]here are categories that it's more profitable to drive online, and there's categories that are clearly the store is the best business model. We'll continue to look at that and we continue to do things like invest in our direct fulfillment centres to be able to drive efficiency in that business.

    The company currently has two fulfillment centres for online sales up and running, with a third still under development.
    Market growth

    Home Depot remains very enthusiastic about the recovery in its Pro (trade) market. As Mr Menear said, "We see the pro coming back".

    Home Depot's chief financial officer, Carol Tome, discussed some of what the company is doing in terms of credit to help grow that business:
    [F]or our private label credit card, the approval rates for our pro customer are 71.2% -- that's actually higher than the approval rates for our consumer customers, because we're coming back with a second look. If a pro applies for credit and is denied, we do a second look, and the second look has actually helped us bump up that approval rate, so we're pleased with that.
    The average line is $6,900, so very pleased with our private label card...particularly about extended terms. We do have a pilot underway in a number of stores with extended terms, user terms that you can't find any place, and our pros are responding very well to that, so stay tuned for more information on that topic.

    Ms Tome also had some very interesting things to say about where Home Depot thinks some of its market resurgence has originated:
    On the housing front, the data is really pretty interesting. Relative to what we thought would happen, home prices came in the year, I think around 4%. We thought they'd be in the 5 or 6% area, so they were up, not as much as we thought, but pretty much in line with what we thought. Turnover actually was down slightly, which was really interesting. We thought we'd get a boost from turnover in 2014, and actually it was down slightly.
    There is this research that was done 10 years ago about a wealth effect on home price appreciation and how it might be a six to nine to 12-month lag. If that were to be true, then you could attribute some of the benefit in the fourth quarter to the home price appreciation that occurred in 2013. We haven't formally formulated our thoughts there. We're studying this -- this is research that, again, is 10 years old, but we're looking into that because we find it to be very intriguing research.

    Another factor she noted was the number of houses moving from being rentals to family-owned:
    There have been 3.6 million single family homes added to the rental stock between 2006 and 2013. Those 3.6 million homes; they are under-maintained. As those homes are moving out of rental into home ownership, they badly need remodels, and in fact the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies said that 2014 was the first year since 2005 where remodel dollars are up. So could it be some of that? I think the answer is yes.
    2015

    Home Depot outlined some of its plans for the first quarter of FY 2015. These include:
  • Launch of a new colour solution centre for paint which provides access to the paint selection, expands the colours available, and makes choosing paint easier.
  • Introduction of new and exclusive products from Milwaukee, Makita and DeWalt aimed at the Pro customer.
  • New barbecue grill ranges from Nexgrill, Weber and Kitchenaid.
  • New lines of patio (outdoor) furniture.

  • Overall guidance was provided by Ms Tome:
    As we look to 2015, we expect US comps to grow at GDP plus approximately 150 basis points coming from the recovery in the housing market. We project similar growth rates in Canada and Mexico, yielding total company comp sales of 4.5%. With the benefit of new stores, we project total sales growth of approximately 4.7%.
    Acknowledgement

    HNN would like to sincerely thank Seeking Alpha for making the transcript of this earnings call available for re-publication. It is a great contribution to the free flow of information on the internet. To read the complete transcript, please visit the Seeking Alpha website, at:
    Seeking Alpha transcript
    Products
    Keeping garden debris away
    The 40v blower from WORX has a lightweight and ergonomic design
    WORX
    The 40v blower/sweeper produces 230km/h of maximum air speed
    It is part of the Power Share range which makes it compatible with any other 40v WORX product
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    The 40v blower from WORX features a higher blower speed and longer running time to help clean up large areas without breaking a sweat. The 40v lithium-ion battery is fully charged in one hour and provides enough power to take on some of the biggest jobs with ease.

    Ideal for all hard surfaces such as poolside areas, backyard patios and driveways, the WORX 40v blower is lightweight and compact enough to get to hard-to-reach areas.

    It produces 230km/h of maximum air speed from the professional-grade impeller. Air speed can easily be adjusted to match the job and the cordless functionality allows it to be taken anywhere around the home.

    A lightweight and ergonomic design also makes it easy to use with one hand.

    The blower is part of the Power Share range, which means the 40v MAX lithium-ion battery is compatible with any other 40v WORX product. This includes the WORX 40v MAX lithium-ion lawn mower, grass trimmer, hedge trimmer, and lithium-ion chainsaw.
    Companies
    Dulux to buy Porter's
    DuluxGroup has announced it plans to buy Porter's Paints
    SmartCompany
    The company says Porter's Paints will broaden its product offering
    Porter's Paints manufactures and sells architectural and decorative paints
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    DuluxGroup has announced it plans to buy Sydney-based Porter's Paints. The deal is subject to due diligence and approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and the sale price has not been disclosed.

    Porter's Paints was founded by owner Peter Lewis in 1980, who named the brand after his grandfather Fred Porter. The company manufactures and sells architectural and decorative paints and targets architects and designers as its customers.

    DuluxGroup managing director Patrick Houlihan said in a statement that Porter's Paints will broaden the group's product offering within the architectural and decorative paints market. He said:
    With sales of less than $10 million, Porter's would not have a material impact on earnings in the near term. However, it has a strong colour, texture and design focus, which we can build on over the longer term.

    Lewis will remain involved in the business, with Dulux to employ him to assist with the creative direction and development of the Porter's brand.
    Bigbox
    Revenue gains at Bunnings NZ
    Bunnings New Zealand grew revenue 12.6% in the December 31, 2014 half year
    New Zealand Herald
    There are plans to open more Bunnings stores in New Zealand
    The number of Kmart stores is also set to grow in New Zealand
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    The New Zealand operations of Bunnings grew revenue 12.6% to NZ$865.3 million in the December 31, 2014 half year. General manager, Jacqui Coombes said sales growth was achieved in its North Island and South Island stores. She said:
    The good trading performance is a direct outcome of a strategic agenda, targeting long-term value creation by strengthening core business elements and focusing on multiple growth drivers.

    In the latest six months, new trade centres in Hornby and Avondale were opened, according to a company statement. Construction of a new Bunnings Warehouse in New Lynn is progressing and there are plans to open more stores.

    This expansion comes at a time when the country is experiencing an upsurge in renovation-related sales. Coombes said:
    We've definitely noticed an increased interest of DIY tasks and projects. There is a lot more expert advice available so people can see the possibilities for their home and garden.

    Retail consultant John Polkinghorne of RCG said both Bunnings and its rival Mitre 10 were competing fiercely with large-format "mega" stores.

    Bunnings' most controversial new store is in Auckland's Arch Hill where residents have won many concessions in an attempt to minimise the effects of the new store on their neighbourhood.

    Nearby houses will be checked for structural damage from the building work, summer trading hours will be limited, loud speaker use will be controlled and traffic slowed by a proposed raised roadway to soften the mega-store's arrival. Construction work is yet to begin.

    At the end of last year, Bunnings had more than 3700 staff, 24 warehouse stores, 20 small format stores and five trade centres in New Zealand.
    Kmart presence

    Kmart currently has 18 stores in New Zealand and has just announced another at Bethlehem Town Centre near Tauranga, scheduled to open early next year. It is also planning a large store in Lower Hutt. This follows two store openings in 2014 in Whangarei and Te Rapa in Hamilton.

    Kmart's general manager of property in New Zealand, Ben Smith, said the company was "continually looking for new sites".

    Polkinghorne said Kmart had kept its store numbers in New Zealand stable for a long time. But the growing economy and a decision to start leveraging its economies of scale had given Kmart reasons to invest more. He said:
    For a long time they hadn't been that confident in the New Zealand operation and they're now starting to invest in it again, [both with] new stores and working with their existing stores to make them better.
    Bigbox
    Lowe's testing Samsung shops
    A Samsung store-within-a-store format is being tested through a few Lowe's stores
    TWICE
    Samsung is currently the fifth largest major appliance brand in the US
    Samsung products have been sold through Lowe's since 2005
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    Lowe's Home Improvement is testing a store-within-a-store format for Samsung appliances, according to retail analyst David Strasser. The pilot shops are being trialled in two locations in the US. Strasser visited one of the stores being tested and wrote of his experience.

    In a research note, Strasser described the installation as "impressive" and "high-end". Lowe's is also testing other Samsung shop concepts including one that relies on touch-screen displays.

    Both formats feature minimal sales floor inventory, a possible limitation that needs to be further addressed, he observed.

    The move mirrors Samsung's rollout of store-within-a-store mobile and 4K UHD TV sections throughout most of Best Buy's store network in the US. These were soon followed by additional vendor-branded shops.

    The Lowe's-Samsung partnership dates back to September 2005, when the first Samsung-branded appliances hit the home improvement stores' floors.

    Lowe's is the number one white goods retailer in the US by dollar volume, displacing long-reigning department store chain Sears in 2013. This is based on data complied by electronics industry website TWICE in its Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers report.

    Samsung is currently the fifth largest major appliance brand in the US.
    Reports
    MagReview: Belle April 2015
    April 2015 edition of Belle magazine
    HNN sources
    Tanya Buchanan is the new editor of Belle
    Another view of the kitchen in Sydney's North Shore, featured in Belle
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    One of the hidden aspects of the current strength in the housing/home improvement market is that the competition in interior design magazines has also grown more intense.

    A sign of the times is that after eight years as editor-in-chief, Neale Whitaker (also a judge on reality TV show The Block) has left Belle magazine to become editor at Vogue Living.

    Meanwhile at Belle, its former managing editor Tanya Buchanan has stepped into the role of editor-in-chief. The current April 2015 issue of Belle is her first outing in the senior role.

    Ms Buchanan has made some interesting changes. While the overall design of the magazine remains somewhat fussy, the photography has taken a step in the right direction, with a much better use of double-page spreads.

    This is a good example, for the living room of a New York residence:
    Belle magazine, April 2015, pp. 106-7

    It's a grand room, with big dimensions, and the two-page treatment is needed to do it justice. While this is a very high-end renovation, it's interesting to note how it nonetheless conforms to certain trends that are becoming stronger in 2015: the grey/white wall palette, the mid-century furniture, and the use of a single big block of colour -- the blue couch at the end of the room -- to give the space weight and definition.

    From the same residence, the dining room:
    Belle magazine, April 2015, pp.110-111

    This is an excellent photograph. It takes some effort to get the exposure just right so that the detail in the wood panelling of the walls, and the small tile-work of the floor are evident.

    Here, again, certain trends are confirmed: the white palette, the use of an early sixties reference in the "tulip" chairs, and the addition of break-away, "rough" elements in the chairs at the head of the table.

    From a different house, this one located in Sydney's North Shore, a kitchen:
    Kitchen in Sydney

    Another good photograph, and this one captures - again - that sense of the kitchen as the new living-room. There are many nice touches here, such as the simple kitchen counter stools, the understated appliances, and the cool linear look of the open shelving.

    It is the alcove, however, that is the real star, in the end. Using the banquet and pillows gives the space the real "living-room" feel, and takes away from the harshness of just a kitchen table. It is so evidently a family place, rather than a show piece.
    Products
    Setting the bar high
    The GearWrench indexing pry bars give users more versatility and accessibility
    GearWrench
    These tools will lengthen for extra leverage and retract to fit easily in a toolbox
    They have been made with the highest quality alloy steel
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    The GearWrench indexing pry bars come in six different sizes from 8-inches to 33-inches in length and two extendable shaft models, 18-inches to 29-inches and 29-inches to 48-inches. These tools will lengthen for extra leverage and retract to fit easily in a toolbox.

    The indexing pry bars have been purpose built to tackle a range of jobs including automotive; demolition; repositioning equipment; aligning steel components; engine repositioning; and a variety of heavy duty applications.

    The design of these hand tools give users more versatility and accessibility. The patented push-button angle selector on the head of the pry bar allows for a full 180-degree angle of head arc and has 14 different locking positions. This gives users maximum leverage and access regardless of the job at hand.

    Built with the highest quality alloy steel, the GearWrench indexing pry bars exceed the ASME Standard* for a regular pry bar by five times, meaning these tools will never bend or break under force on the job.

    The handle of the pry bar has been ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in the hand, to maximise grip force. Both 24-inch and 33-inch pry bars have been fitted with notches in the head for extra traction for bigger projects.
    ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Standard equals 1600 inches/pounds
    Bigbox
    Big box update
    Bunnings comes out on top of the latest Canstar Blue customer satisfaction survey
    HNN Sources
    Bunnings is moving into the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick
    An oscillating fan heater supplied by GAF Control and sold at Bunnings has been recalled
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    Bunnings has been rated Australia's preferred hardware store for overall customer satisfaction for the third year running; Bunnings will open a store in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick in mid-2015; and GAF Control recalls one of its heaters sold at Bunnings because of fire risk.
    Bunnings' 5-star rating

    A survey of 2500 respondents conducted by Canstar Blue shows a lot of people enjoy a trip to Bunnings, with 60% saying they usually spend much more than they planned. Respondents were asked to rate their favourite hardware store across a range of research criteria and only Bunnings achieved a five star rating for overall customer satisfaction.

    Bunnings and Masters both earned top marks from consumers in relation to value for money, while Home Timber and Hardware was the only retailer to achieve a five star rating for service and advice.

    Just over half (53%) of the adults questioned said they turn to the experts at their hardware store for DIY advice. Canstar Blue spokesman, Simon Downes said: "With three out of five usually spending more than they were expecting to, it suggests many consumers end up leaving the store with extra items that caught their eye along the way -- a strong indicator that there are bargains to be had."
    Bunnings' smaller store in Brunswick

    Bunnings is moving into a premises previously occupied by Spotlight on busy Sydney Road in Brunswick (VIC). Chief operating officer Peter Davis said Brunswick had been an "area of interest" for some time. He told the Herald Sun: "Bunnings Brunswick will be a smaller-format store, which has been specially designed with the needs of the community in mind. While it will not include a nursery or timber yard, the customised store will provide residents with a wide range of home improvement products, including plants and timber."

    Moreland Council officers approved the permit, which had nine objectors, in July 2014. Brunswick Residents Network spokeswoman Nancy Atkin said the original application was to use the land for trade supplies and restricted retail premises. Atkins said it was a "controversial development" at a site people felt strongly about and "should have gone to the council's urban planning committee."

    Objectors took the matter to the state's planning tribunal. It upheld the council's decision and endorsed the final plans on December 31, 2014.
    Heaters recalled from Bunnings

    Appliance Retailer has noted that an oscillating fan heater sold at Bunnings and supplied by GAF Control has been recalled because it could cause fires or burns. According to the ACCC recall notice, the Heller 2000W Fan Heater with Oscillating Base "does not comply with the flammability requirements of the Australian standard. Also, the internal wiring is not routed as approved and loose wires may come into contact with oscillating/moving parts."

    The product was sold from 1 April 2014 to 1 November 2014 though Bunnings stores in Australia and New Zealand. The affected model number is FHH20A with batch code 0514 which can be found on the label at the base of the heater.
    News
    Interesting links
    DeWalt is continuing its partnership with Richmond football club for the 2015 season
    HNN Sources
    Electronics retailer Dick Smith is forecasting a 10% rise in sales growth this year
    Husqvarna has a new range of residential, zero-turn riding mowers
    Click to visit the HBT website for more information
    An additional roundup of home improvement stories. DeWalt is continuing its partnership with Richmond football club for the 2015 season; Dick Smith is forecasting a full-year profit growth of 3 to 5% this year; Sustainable and technology concepts on show at DesignBUILD 2015; and Husqvarna has developed a new range of residential, zero-turn riding mowers. More stories below.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.
    Local News
    DeWalt remains with Richmond

    Power tool brand DeWalt will engage with Richmond fans in 2015 through its digital channels and match-day activations. DeWalt managing director Adrian Davis said: "We feel we have a close fit with Richmond -- not only do we share the famous yellow and black colours, we share a philosophy in the way we go about our businesses...For us, this is a partnership that makes sense."
    (l&r) Richmond FC CEO Brendon Gale and DeWalt managing director Adrian Davis
    Sales growth at Dick Smith

    Electronics retailer Dick Smith forecast a 10% rise in sales growth this year, following a slight rise in first-half profit in a result that was dragged down by weakness in its New Zealand arm. For the 26 weeks ended 28 December 2014, Dick Smith posted a 0.8% rise in net profit to $25.2 million. Same-store sales were up 2% and overall sales growth -- driven by 11 store openings -- grew 8.9% to $693.8 million.
    Dick Smith aims to have 400 stores in Australia and New Zealand by the end of June
    Tech, sustainability at DesignBUILD

    The latest products and technologies in sustainable building will be displayed at DesignBUILD 2015. The event returns to the Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park and will be held from April 28 to 30, 2015. This year, it will feature DesignBUILD Interiors and a new technology display area called Luminova, named after its creators.
    International exhibitors from 14 countries will be at DesignBUILD 2015
    International News
    Husqvarna Z200 zero-turn mowers

    Husqvarna has released a series of residential, zero-turn riding mowers bearing the Z200 model number. The latest models bring improved ergonomics, operating features and deck options including SmartSwitch technology, an interface capable of one-touch starting, real-time feedback and keyless security.
    Husqvarna's Z200 range mowers are scheduled to hit retail stores in March
    Granite Gold at Lowe's

    The Granite Gold range of cleaners, polishes and disinfecting wipes are now available in Lowe's stores throughout the US. Granite Gold is the creation of cousins Lenny Sciarrino and Lenny Pellegrino, whose grandfather moved to the US in the 1950s, bringing with him a high level of expertise in the stone industry that he passed on to generations.
    The Granite Gold range is now available at Lowe's
    Home Depot offering JCB excavators

    JCB will now supply its 8029 and 8018 compact excavators through 1,015 Compact Power Equipment Rental stores, located in Home Depot outlets. The alliance came about after a test program of the excavators in 2014, in which Home Depot evaluated the machines, along with aftermarket sales and service support. Following the trial, the excavators will be featured at select Home Depot Pro Days events.
    JCB compact excavators are available through Home Depot
    Mirka lightweight sander

    The Deros sander plugs into a 110v power supply and offers the performance of a conventional 500w electric machine, even under heavy load, according to the manufacturer. It has a closed construction, which prevents dust entering the motor, avoiding typical wear and tear damage experienced by electric machines.
    The low profile design keeps the user's hand close to the surface that needs to be sanded
    Bigbox
    Older workers a fixture at Bunnings
    Federal treasurer Joe Hockey helped launch the toolkit at Bunnings Chatswood. Photo credit: National Seniors
    SBS
    The federal government believes attitudes towards careers and retirement need to change
    The number of Australians aged over 50 is rising rapidly
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    A quarter of the employees at Bunnings are aged over 50. Bunnings store operations director Michael Schneider said hiring older workers isn't an exercise in meeting quotas or being nice -- it's a deliberate and successful strategy. He said:
    As a business leader, I see it as a strong commercial driver in a growing business. Having such experience helps engage and energise our team, it ensures confidence and trust for our customers, and most importantly it helps our business learn, grow and benefit from the collegiality and insight that these team members bring to our business."

    National Seniors, a lobby group for people over-50, launched its Age Management Toolkit with the help of Schneider and federal treasurer Joe Hockey at Bunnings Chatswood in NSW.

    The toolkit is a guide to hiring and retaining staff. It is designed to take employers step-by-step through the process of recruiting, retaining and making the most of older workers.

    The federal government believes traditional approaches towards careers and retirement need to be overhauled. Treasurer Hockey said stereotypes of people studying in their youth, working hard in a career and retiring at 65 no longer apply in Australia. He said:
    We've got to change attitudes -- people over the age of 50 who lose their jobs are inevitably, at the moment, going to spend a longer period of time out of work than someone who is younger. It's simply about changing the attitudes of employers. We also don't need to stereotype our moments in life.

    National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said the message that came through in conversations with businesses was that they didn't know how to deal with mature-age workers.

    With projections showing the number of people over 65 will grow at triple the rate of working-age Australians in the next decade, the trend has serious implications for the sustainability of Australia's already overburdened aged care and health systems in the future.

    But O'Neill warns the biases against older workers is already causing damage. Time out of work, or leaving work altogether, means lower superannuation, higher demands on the age pension, mental and physical health impacts and a loss from the economy of decades of experience.

    This comes at a time when the number of Australians aged over 50 is rising rapidly. In 2013, there were seven-and-a-half-million people aged 50 plus. By 2031, that figure is expected to grow 46%, to more than 11 million people.

    There's an increased expectation to work longer, with the federal government having flagged an increase to the pension age to 70 by 2035.
    Companies
    Toro posts first quarter increase
    The Toro Company has reported a 6% increase in net sales in the first quarter
    Star Tribune
    Toro acquired Boss in November 2014 for US$227 million
    The company also celebrated its centenary in 2014
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    US turf-care and landscaping equipment manufacturer The Toro Company has reported a 6% increase in net sales of US$474 million for the three months to 30 January 2015, its financial first quarter. This compares to US$446 million for the same period, twelve months ago.

    The snowstorms that have assaulted the Northeast and Midwest of America have "helped to spur demand, drive retail sales, right-size field inventories and position us well for the pre-season," Toro chairman and CEO Michael Hoffman told Wall Street analysts during a conference call recently.

    Even with the boost, Hoffman said the quarter had its share of problems. Toro wrestled with a strong US dollar that made exports to Europe and other places more expensive. Hoffman also noted that foreign currencies have "weakened significantly" since December. He said:
    We didn't plan on that level of head wind.

    Separately, Toro dealt with parts delays caused by ongoing labour battles at some ports on the West Coast. The end result was a quarter "challenged by lower shipments of residential 'zero turn' riding mowers due to supply inefficiencies and the ramp up of production of our...new platform," Hoffman said.

    Residential product sales fell 8.7% to US$134 million during the quarter. In contrast, professional sales, including Boss and global golf-related sales, jumped 15% to US$340 million.

    Net earnings were also up for the first quarter to US$31 million, against US$26 million for the fiscal first quarter of 2014. Hoffman said:
    We are pleased to deliver record results for the quarter, which is the first to include the Boss professional snow and ice management products as part of our expanded professional portfolio.

    Toro acquired Boss in November 2014 for US$227 million. It designs, manufactures and sells snowploughs, salt and sand spreaders, and related parts and accessories, for light and medium duty trucks, ATVs, UTVs and loaders.

    Toro forecast revenue growth for fiscal 2015 in the range of 8% to 10%.
    Regions
    Over 4000 new housing sites in NSW
    The New South Wales Government is selling off housing sites around the state including Menangle Park
    Aubis
    Multi-unit apartments have also seen an upswing across New South Wales
    Blacktown has the most housing approvals with 2,822 projects in the last financial year
    Give to Amnesty International
    The New South Wales Government will sell off four housing sites located in Sydney and the southern highlands.

    Real estate company International Colliers plan to market a parcel at Menangle Park. It will offer sites where the state government has started development such as Edmondson Park at Bardia.

    The Menangle Park Project is capable of holding 2,000 dwellings on 380ha. These four sites together can provide at least 4,200 residential homes. The estimated value of the public assets being sold is around $1 billion. Schools, hospitals, office buildings, and even an island are available for sale.

    The government says the money will be used for new housing and infrastructure.

    In 2012, a new agency was established called Government Property NSW. Its job is to manage the state's real estate assets. CEO Brett Newman said its portfolio comprised 200,000 properties that are worth nearly $130 billion.
    What we do is identify assets that don't need to be owned or are under-utilised and we sell them so that the money can be reinvested in capital and improved services right across government.

    Starting in April 2013, Government Property NSW has sold off properties worth up to $1 billion. These include the Ausgrid building in Sydney for $151 million, seven office blocks for $400 million, and precinct buildings in Parramatta for $170 million.
    Western Sydney approval rate

    Western Sydney has seven of the top 10 councils for housing approvals in New South Wales. Urban Taskforce chief executive officer Chris Johnson said that Blacktown, Parramatta, Camden, Penrith, Liverpool, Bankstown and the Hills were among the top ten councils for approvals.

    Blacktown leads with 2,822 projects over the last financial year. This is in comparison to the City of Sydney's 2,470 approvals, highlighting the strength of the Western Sydney's property market.

    Furthermore, multi-unit apartments have also seen an upswing across the state. Completion rates for these properties skyrocketed to 65.5% in the past financial year, while approvals rose to 69% of all housing approvals. Johnson said:
    With approvals running at close to 70% for apartments, this is clearly becoming the dominant form of new housing as Sydney moves from having around 30% currently as apartments to becoming a 50:50 city. Within a few decades, it will comprise of half detached houses and half apartments.
    Careers
    Mining, construction attracting more women
    Mackay tops the list for the number of female workers in the construction and mining industries
    Daily Mercury
    In construction, the number of women has risen from 21,300 to 28,600 in a decade
    "she wear" is capitalising on the rising numbers of women in regional mining and construction
    Visit the Mecca Website
    Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Mackay (QLD) has one of the highest mining workforces in regional Queensland. In the construction industry, it tops the list for the number of female workers willing to don a tool belt for work.

    One woman capitalising on the rising number of women in regional mining and construction jobs is Stacey Head, whose business called "she wear" specialises in brightly-coloured steel-capped boots.

    The Brisbane-based entrepreneur is bringing hot pink, bright purple and other vividly coloured steel-capped boots to traditionally male-dominated workplaces.

    ABS Labour Force data shows women make up 13.8% of Australia's mining-sector workforce, up from 12.9% in 2011 and 12.2% in 2008.

    In Queensland's construction industry, the number of women has risen from 21,300 in August 2004 to 28,600 in August 2014.

    Those figures will undoubtedly rise as employers like the Australian Mines and Metals Association aim to boost women's employment in the sector to 25% by 2020.

    Head said the changing demographic of workplaces had created a niche market for work gear more suited to the fairer sex. She said:
    It's not about turning work sites into fashion catwalks -- it's about proper work gear made for women. Why should women have to wear gear that's made for men?

    With her internet business booming, Head is opening her first shop, in Brisbane. She said:
    It's not just women in mining looking for this gear either. It's women working on the land, in florists, factories, in trades, warehouses, engineering and architectural firms... it's very diverse.
    Mining

    The number of males and females employed in workforce in each region include the following.
  • Mackay: 13,700 and 1400
  • Toowoomba, Darling Downs, Maranoa: 6700 and 500
  • Fitzroy: 6400 and 1300
  • Queensland Outback: 9600 and 1400
  • Construction

    Number of males and females employed in workforce in each region include the following:
  • Mackay: 9800 and 2800
  • Toowoomba, Darling Downs, Maranoa: 10,900 and 1900
  • Fitzroy: 13,100 and 1400

  • Queensland Outback: 2100 and 300
    Products
    Flicker free LED downlights
    HPM's latest LED downlights delivers flicker-free and low-level dimming of up to five per cent
    HPM
    The downlights are also compatible with a range of other major brands' dimmer offerings
    HPM's LED downlights are IC-rated, insect and moisture resistant
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    HPM has launched its latest line of residential LED downlights. It features dimmer compatibility and delivers flicker-free and low-level dimming of up to five per cent. Maxime Dupont, lighting category manager for HPM said:
    The new HPM LED downlights provide electrical contractors with an efficient, affordable and high performance lighting solution they can specify and install with confidence.

    The downlights are compatible with a wide range of dimmers including the Arteor, Excel Life, Excel and Linea ranges from HPM and Legrand. For added convenience, the downlights are also compatible with a range of other major brands' dimmer offerings.

    Featuring a colour render index (CRI) range of 80 to 92+ and a beam angle of 80-degrees to 100-degrees, the LED downlights can emit between 600 and 950 lumens of warm white light and 650 to 980 lumens of cool white light.

    The HPM LED downlights are available in four series -- the Dalia, DLS, Azalea and Freesia series -- and are suitable for a number of residential applications.

    With an output of up to 980 lumens and a 92+ CRI, the Dalia series deliver superior brightness and colour rendering to sharpen the details of an interior space.

    The DLS, Azalea and Freesia series feature a low profile heat sink for easy installation in tight ceiling cavities and multi-floor dwellings. The DLS series also has a recessed diffuser to reduce glare and delivers an even light spread.

    For customers preferring a more streamlined look, the Azalea and Freesia downlights have a flat diffuser. Ideal for retrofit installations, the Freesia series features a 70mm cut-out for simple and easy replacement of existing halogen LEDs.

    All products are tested to provide 30,000 lamp hours -- higher than the average LED lamp expectancy -- which represents a life span of approximately 20 years, based on three to four hours usage per day.

    The lights use flex and plug, and a downlight bracket to position the driver close to the luminaire for easy access.

    These LED downlights are IC-rated, insect and moisture resistant, with IP ratings ranging from IP44 and IP65. They are supplied with a six-year warranty.
    Bigbox
    Home Depot mobile tech cuts lines for customers
    Home Depot staff will be using the next generation of its in-store mobile technology, the FIRST Phone
    Retail Solutions Online
    FIRST Phones help store associates conduct checkout anywhere in the store
    Home Depot has been looking for ways to optimise the customer experience and improve its sales
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    Big box retailer Home Depot is rolling out some updated employee-facing technology to help its customers find what they need quickly.

    In the first half of 2015, Home Depot store associates will be equipped with the next generation of its in-store mobile technology called the FIRST Phone. The home improvement chain has deployed around forty thousand of these devices to help stores expedite checkout through "line busting", conduct mobile check-out for outside garden purchases, and allow staff to locate products, check inventory, or explain product features.

    The latest version of the mobile phones offer an intuitive interface, web access and the Home Depot mobile app, as well as full telephone and push-to-talk capabilities.

    Initially, the FIRST Phones were adopted by the retailer in 2012, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. They were designed to help customers locate items and give associates more information at their fingertips.

    The first rollout used the First Phone Junior at a time when few retailers had full-blown mobile strategies and, if they did, were focused more on mobile's potential to drive online sales as opposed to in-store sales.

    Since then, numerous major retailers have embraced a multitude of mobile in-store strategies, including Wi-Fi, store modes on apps, QR codes and beacons.

    The FIRST Phones, designed specifically for Home Depot, serve as a phone and walkie-talkie, and provide inventory management, product look-up, business analytics and even line-busting features to speed up checkout. The updated devices feature a more intuitive interface, Internet access and inclusion of the Home Depot mobile app to help customers.

    FIRST Phones help store associates conduct checkout anywhere in the store, as well as locate products, provide additional product information, and check inventory. The handsets will be of particular value in the outdoor garden section of each store. Sheryl Kingstone, research director at the Yankee Group told Mobile Commerce Daily:
    Clienteling is a sales strategy for increasing the volume or frequency potential of the in-store shopping experience by delivering 360-degree customer views and sales tools to associates. Mobile CRM platforms have become the centre of many mobile engagement strategies, especially as they relate to sales enablement.
    Consumers have more information at their fingertips than the sales associates. Retail stores must empower front-line associates with the right information at the right time.

    Home Depot has been looking for ways to optimise the customer experience and improve its sales. In 2014, it launched its "Home Depot Delivers" service to fulfill same-day shipping on purchases. The service was piloted in a handful of stores, with plans to further expand to all Home Depot locations in the future.
    Companies
    Generac beats Q4 expectations
    Generac posted revenue of US$404 million, an increase of 7.4% a year earlier
    Star Tribune
    Residential product sales declined slightly to US$194.9 million from US$199.1 million
    Generac acquisition of Pramac America resulted in the ownership of the Powermate trade name
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Generac's fourth quarter results topped analysts' estimates as revenue was boosted from higher commercial and industrial product sales.

    For the period ending December 31, 2014, the generator maker posted revenue of US$404 million, up from US$376.2 million a year earlier. This represents an increase of 7.4%. Analysts expected US$360.7 million, according to Zacks.

    Commercial and industrial product sales increased 17.1% in the quarter to US$185.0 million compared to US$157.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. This was mostly due to contributions from recent acquisitions and strength in oil and gas markets.

    Residential product sales declined slightly to US$194.9 million from US$199.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2013. The latest fourth quarter results is being compared to same period, 12 months prior when the company was still benefitting from the afterglow of demand from Hurricane Sandy.

    However residential sales for the fourth quarter of 2014 improved 6.1% from US$183.7 million in the third quarter of 2014.

    Net income during the fourth quarter of 2014 was US$49.4 million, as compared to US$48.5 million, for the same period of 2013.
    Full year highlights

    For the year, Generac reported a profit of US$174.6 million compared to US$174.5 million for 2013.

    Revenue was reported as US$1.46 billion compared to US$1.486 billion in 2013.

    Commercial and industrial product sales increased 14.4% to US$652.2 million compared to US$569.9 million in 2013.

    Full-year residential product sales declined to US$722.2 million from US$843.7 million in the previous year. Stripping out the benefit that the company gained from Hurricane Sandy, residential product sales rose about 3%.

    Going forward, Generac anticipates 2015 sales rising in the low-to-mid-single digit range compared with the prior year.
    Recent acquisitions

    Generac acquired Pramac America in September 2014, resulting in the ownership of the Powermate trade name and the right to license the DeWalt brand name for specific residential engine powered tools.

    In addition, it purchased MAC and its related entities in October 2014. MAC is a maker of premium-grade commercial and industrial mobile heaters for the US and Canada.

    Based in Wisconsin (USA), Generac is a designer and manufacturer of power generation equipment and other engine powered products.
    Products
    Engineered flooring from Boral
    Boral Timber's Engineered Flooring range features Australian hardwood species like Blackbutt
    Boral Timber
    Individual timber boards have a precision-milled square edge
    The Sydney Blue Gum species is also part of the range
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    Boral Timber has released its new Engineered Flooring range, featuring classic Australian hardwood species. It has a multi-layer construction which can be easily installed over level subfloor surfaces.

    Sutiable for single room makeovers, apartments or large scale flooring applications, Engineered Flooring can be walked on within hours of installation and is pre-finished to minimise the mess and fumes which can be associated with sanding and finishing. Clinton Skeoch, marketing development manager at Boral Timber said:
    Boral Engineered Flooring is available in Blackbutt, Spotted Gum and Sydney Blue Gum species, each unique to Australia and well-suited to a range of home interiors. The flooring is finished in a clear subtle matt coating to highlight the natural colour and grain variations.
    It is offered in both wide board one and two strip configurations to meet a growing demand from consumers, architects and interior designers for Australian species flooring which suits a variety of interiors and budgets.

    The timber boards have a precision-milled square edge and a four-side Uniclic profile for a tight board-to-board fit and a smooth, consistent finish.

    Suitable for installation over level surfaces including moisture sealed concrete slabs, particleboard, plywood sheeting, old timber floors or tiles, Boral Engineered Flooring is pre-finished with seven layers of a UV-cured, acrylic and scratch resistant coating.

    With a four millimetre nominal hardwood top layer, the floor can be re-sanded and re-coated to extend its life.

    A variety of underlays can be installed with Boral Engineered Flooring to enhance the finished flooring solution, including cushioning and acoustic properties for multi-storey dwellings.
    Bigbox
    Big box retailers set to report results
    There are questions over Woolworths' growth
    HNN sources
    Target tries to be fashionable -- again
    Questions are asked about Metcash's conduct towards suppliers
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    There is a great deal of anticipation about the coming season of quarterly earnings reports for each of the big three home improvement retailers in Australia.

    In some cases, it is the way in which the home improvement retailers will themselves play off each other that is of interest, and in others it is how the parent company is travelling that will be of most interest.
    Wesfarmers/Bunnings

    There are a series of questions that analysts will look to have answered about Bunnings' parent company, Wesfarmers. Most likely one of the foremost questions will be how Target has fared during the Christmas season.

    Has it managed to turn its fortunes around, or will it remain in the strange limbo of being not quite a department store, and not quite a discount store either?

    The question about Wesfarmers' supermarket operation, Coles, is quite different. A stellar success so far in the grocery business, has it at last run out of growth potential? Will it stroll though the next 12 months or so with a good but not great growth rate, while Wesfarmers looks elsewhere for its next source of high returns?

    Which brings us to those rumours about Wesfarmers looking to acquire part of GE Capital, or even AMP. The problem, of course, for the business model Wesfarmers usually follows, is that neither of those is going to be sold cheaply, thus limiting the growth upside.
    Bunnings

    However, at HNN our attention will be firmly riveted on Bunnings more than anywhere else. This is the year when Bunnings' slightly risky strategy of building out its warehouse stores so as to ensure Woolworths' Masters doesn't get a foothold will finally be tested. There are three questions the analysts will likely be seeking answers to.

    The first is whether this build-out of stores will lead to some degree of cannibalisation by the retailer. Will the new stores "steal" so much business from each other, that the overall network, at least in the short-term, loses some of its profitability?

    The second question is whether Masters has accomplished one of the tasks it seem to have -- at least in its original form -- which is to put a dent in Bunnings' earnings. Will there be a full percentage point missing from Bunnings' growth this past quarter, or will the market simply have grown enough that it easily accommodates both retailers?

    The third question, which will gather increasing force this year, is when will Bunnings enter the world of e-commerce? At HNN we think it really must this year, and would take a guess something might be mentioned at the strategy briefing later this year, then implemented in August or September.
    Woolworths/Masters Home Improvement

    At the end of last year, the first warning signs began to appear to indicate that Woolworths managing director Grant O'Brien needs to produce some results or face an increasingly frosty reception by the markets.

    Some of the signs are not looking terrifically good. The "Cheap, Cheap" campaign launched by Woolworths to counter the effective "Down, Down" campaign by Coles does not seem to have brought the expected results. Analysts are predicting that in this financial year, Woolworths may in fact manage to just miss even the lower range of its growth guidance.

    No one doubts that Woolworths is essentially a sound company, and Mr O'Brien a capable manager, but a question remains as to whether it has managed to truly re-orient itself to the new market that has emerged post-GFC.

    Also, just as Wesfarmers has its Target, so Woolworths has its Big W. Will that retailer have staged a turnaround of its fortunes?
    Masters Home Improvement

    It would be far too much to ask of Masters to have it reach break-even as yet, so we will no doubt be subjected to the usual dreary analysis by the popular press of how it is a drain on Woolworths resources and so forth.

    What will be really interesting to see is how its store format is working, and which product lines it finds are selling well. Is it expanding as quickly as it needs to, and how is it coping with some of its less fortunate, more regional store locations? Does it plan to rev up its marketing campaign this year, or stick with its current rather low-key, store-focussed advertising from 2014?

    There is the Home Timber and Hardware Group (HTHG) to consider as well. One of the points that the managing director for hardware, Matt Tyson, made at a results announcement was that HTHG provided some very experienced people that the organisation had to make better use of.

    Signs are that this has happened, and it will be interesting to see what strategic plans are in place.
    Metcash/Mitre 10

    The attention on this pair will be firmly focused on the fate of Mitre 10's parent company, Metcash. At the last quarterly results report, the company's managing director, Ian Morrice, announced that the turnaround plan would require basically an additional half-year to put in place.

    Subsequent to that, the company's share price fell by around 40%, and has continued to doddle lower with the passing weeks.

    We will likely have to wait until mid-March, at least, to find out what has been happening at Metcash. It's unlikely that very much that is definitive is going to be revealed. The price-matching scheme that Metcash has introduced to IGA is essentially a way for it to buy marketshare through price subsidies.

    The question is whether when the company eventually lifts prices again, as the dynamics indicate it must, customers will continue to buy from their "local", or shop more at Aldi instead.

    There is evidence on the share market of investors going both ways on this company, with a lot of activity in the shorting market, betting on a steep decline, but also one investment company taking an apparently deep and long position in the stock.
    Mitre 10

    Meanwhile, Mitre 10 continues to go along in the background, doing surprisingly well despite the increased competition in the market. The big question for the hybrid home improvement retailer remains how it balances its established trade business with its consumer retail business.

    The way the home improvement market is shaping up, it finds itself in surprisingly good position, presenting service that is a step above that of Bunnings, and pricing that remains within reach as well. Can it find a way to capitalise on this good fortune?
    Statistics
    HNN Index 13 February 2015
    HNN Home Improvement Index for the week ending 13 February, 2015
    HNN Sources
    Stockland's asset mix from its commercial property division
    BWP Trust's rental income by state from around Australia
    Click to visit the HBT website for more information
    The HNN Home Improvement Index ended the week up by 2.26 points at 1027.55. The underlying ASX 200 index climbed 57.3 points over the week to end at 5877.5.

    The only exceptional stock was Leighton Holdings, which lost over 5% of its value during the week, most likely in reaction to a lower than expected forecast for its FY 2015 earnings.

    As earnings season has commenced, a number of the index stocks reported their earnings this week. Several of these results are covered in more detail elsewhere on HNN.
    Boral
    FY 2014/15 first half results

    Boral's results for the first half of its FY 2014/15 ending 31 December 2014 are what would be expected from a company that is a couple of years into a successful restructuring program. Revenue is down by 21% to $2.3 billion ($2.2 billion for continuing operations), but net profit after tax is at $105 million, up from a loss of $26 million for the previous corresponding period (pcp). Total earnings before income tax (EBIT) for the period is $167 million.

    In its construction materials and cement division, revenue and EBIT both fell by 4% to $1.63 billion and $150 million respectively.

    Building products, in contrast, recorded a 6% increase in revenue to $263 million, while EBIT grew to $14 million, from $5 million for the pcp.

    Boral Gypsum saw its revenue climb by 19% to $638 million, with underlying EBIT lifting by 27% to $70 million. Boral put the increase down to strong housing markets in Australia, and increased growth through Asia due to better market penetration and price increases.

    Boral USA continues to generate negative EBIT, but is losing less, reporting an EBIT loss of $8 million. Revenue of $396 million represented an 18% boost on the pcp.
    Boral results presentation
    BWP Trust
    FY 2014/15 first half results

    BWP Trust reported good results. Revenue increased by 19.1% over the previous corresponding period (pcp) to $71.2 million, while net profit after revaluations climbed to $117.3 million from $66.7 million for the pcp. Assets increased by $200 million, and gearing increased to 23.4%, up 3.6% on the pcp, as borrowings rose to $451.2 million from $327.7 for the pcp.

    BWP reports a positive outlook for the upcoming half, with a total of six rent reviews for Bunnings operations yet to be resolved. The company reports a weighted average increase in past rent reviews of over 8%. It further reports there are nine Bunnings lease expiries occurring over the next three years.
    Rental income by state
    BWP results
    Goodman Group
    FY 2014/15 first half results

    Goodman Group has reported an operating profit of $327 million for the first half of its FY 2014/15 ending 31 December 2014. This is a 10% increase on the profit for the previous corresponding period (pcp).

    Earnings before income tax (EBIT) came in at $354 million, an 11% increase on the pcp. Some 49% of EBIT was contributed by development and management businesses. Investments made up the rest, with 33% coming from developments and 16% from management services. International operations remain important to the company, and contributed 54% of operating earnings during the half.

    The company has maintained an upwardly revised forecast of 7% growth in earnings per share for the full FY 2014/15. The results report mentions that urban renewal activities are expected to provide ongoing profits.
    Results announcement
    Leighton Holdings
    Full year 2014 results

    Leighton Holdings announced results that came in at the upper end of market expectations. Revenue was about 1% down on FY2013 at $24 billion, but earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came in at $1.4 billion for FY 2014, up by 38% over FY 2013. Underlying net profit climbed 6% to $620.1 million. As Leighton has made asset divestments, it returned $973 million in pre-tax profit.

    The company has made a provision of $675 million for problem projects which have a reduced certainty of payment.

    Leighton's forecast for FY 2015 is for net profit after tax of between $450 million and $520 million, slightly under analyst predictions.
    Leighton Holdings results announcement
    Stockland Corp. Ltd
    FY 2014/15 first half results

    Stockland has reported positive results for the first half of its FY2014/15 which ended on 31 December 2014. Net profit was $462 million, up 55% on the previous corresponding period (pcp). Underlying profit increased by 8.5% over the pcp.

    The company said this was driven by a 73% increase in earnings form its residential division. It reported 2747 lots were settled during the half, up 21.9% based on the pcp. Revenue increased by 27.1% to $562 million. Return on assets for its core projects came in at 14.8%, up from 9.8% for the pcp.

    The company said its market consisted of 45% first home buyers, 20% investors, and 35% people moving from a previously owned home.

    For its commercial property division, net operating income compared to the pcp, saw retail fall by 0.1%, logistics and business parks rise by 21.9% and office fall by 13.3%.

    Return on assets in this division was 8.4% for the half, compared to 8.5% for the pcp. The company commented that:
    Our retail mix, underpinned by supermarkets, mini majors and speciality food and retail services, is proving to be resilient to online leakage.

    The company called out the performance of the Kmart store in its Stockland Hervey Bay shopping centre, saying:
    The recently opened redevelopment of Stockland Hervey Bay was well received with the new Kmart achieving record sales for a regional store opening.
    Asset mix
    Stockland results
    Reports
    MagReview: House & Garden March 2015
    The cover of Australian House & Garden March 2015
    HNN sources
    The study featured in this issue shows a great space in the house
    An outdoor entertaining area is a highlight in this edition
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Australian House & Garden remains something of an enigma among interior design magazines. Part of the Bauer Media Group's stable of interior design magazines, made up of Homes+, Real Living, and Belle, its market position is meant to be somewhere in-between the youthful vibrancy of Real Living, and the "global style journey" (as it describes itself) of Belle.

    It boasts a 66 year "heritage" (Belle by contrast has a 40-year "iconic" history), and claims a very high pass-along rate. The actual circulation is 114,000, but the readership is set at 946,000 -- that's over eight readers per issue.

    The quality of its contents tends to swing wildly between the near-banal and the interesting. As with just about every Australian design magazine, there doesn't seem much of an understanding that not all well-designed rooms photograph well, or are even that interesting. But just when you want to give up on it, the magazine pulls off something stunning.

    Then there is the writing. Often it is quite good, but every once in a while you run into something like this:
    The iron lacework trims and tessellated verandah tiles are exactly what you would expect to see on arriving at a heritage-listed Victorian terrace. But when you add the extraordinary sculptural plants and sky-blue front door to the mix, a sense of expectation builds: there's clearly more to this beauty.
    The three-bedroom abode in inner-city Melbourne is home to architects Annick Houle and Stephen O'Connor, their 11-year-old twins Clara and Louis, and their pets Nutella, a chocolate Labrador, and cat Couscous.

    For our international readers, no, that's not parodic, and yes, it does actually accurately reflect a certain social stratum in Melbourne. A kindly editor would have taken something out of there, just to ease the cultural shock, if nothing else -- the name of the cat, perhaps, or even just the colour of the Labrador. It's difficult to go on reading when your personal twee meter is jammed over in the red zone.

    As it has been mentioned, this is a photograph of the door in question:
    The tessellated tiles and blue door

    Alas, there are no photographs of either the dog or the cat. Presumably they just weren't sculptural enough.

    Yet even in the midst of this article, H&G manages to pop up something of a surprise, like this:
    Study featured in H&G March 2015

    This is actually a very good space in this house, and it brings to life an element that is not really captured in the other images or the text of the article. There is something of that modern French sensibility here, of the easy weaving together of old and modern, something quite different from the essentially British sensibility of being comfortable amongst old things. It is possible the writer of this piece approached the house more from the latter perspective than the former.

    So, yes, H&G: it is strangely compelling.

    Here is another example of how the magazine, which has dawdled along for many pages, will delight the reader with something original:
    Outdoor entertaining area

    This casual presentation of what is a really stunning outdoor area is quite common in Australian design magazines. It is an area where Australian designers are well ahead of their peers in Europe, the UK and the USA. It seems they are so good at it, they don't really appreciate their own work, and that disregard gets picked up by the magazine editors.

    Pity, really, that something so creative gets overridden by other efforts that seem more emulative.
    Careers
    Seeking opportunities
    Home Timber and Hardware Group has an opening for regional manager based in QLD
    HNN Sources
    A QLD-based hardware and timber supplier needs a general manager
    Replenishment team manager wanted at the Bunnings DC in Eastern Creek (NSW)
    Visit the Mecca Website
    A selection of job opportunities in the home improvement industry. Home Timber and Hardware Group is looking for a Queensland-based regional trade business manager; a general manager needed at a Brisbane supplier; and a Bunnings distribution centre in Eastern Creek (NSW) requires a replenishment team manager.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.
    Regional manager for HTH Group

    Home Timber and Hardware Group has an opening for a professional to "develop and drive successful sales and store network outcomes" in its Queensland Independent Store Operations business unit.

    Reporting to the regional manager QLD - independent stores, the role primarily involves managing and growing trade sales across the state. Responsibilities include undertaking regular store visitations to motivate, develop and improve trade sales performance.

    The ideal candidate will have experience in the hardware and timber trade industry with a good understanding of the market and its customers.
    HTH Group is looking for a regional trade business manager
    Queensland supplier needs GM

    A national hardware and timber supplier operating in the trade and retail markets requires a general manager in Brisbane. The candidate is expected to lead the business into the next stage of growth with an annual turnover of $20 million pa.

    The general manager will report to the owners of the business and provide overall leadership and direction to the staff of around 50 people.
    General manager role in Brisbane
    Replenishment role at Bunnings

    The Bunnings Distribution Centre located at Eastern Creek is a new warehouse servicing over 80 stores through out NSW and ACT.

    It is looking for a replenishment team manager who will be responsible for knowing the trends of the customers and ensuring all the stock needed for them is on hand. The ideal candidate should have at least three years experience in a similar role and have managed a team of 15+.
    Replenishment team manager wanted at a Bunnings DC

    User Name:Password: