Call to deregulate retail trading hours
Restrictions to retail trading hours should be removed, according to the competition review panel
The Australian
The panel is chaired by economist Ian Harper
Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson welcomed the draft competition review
Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
The competition policy review draft report has recommended deregulating retail trading hours while also proposing the National Competition Council (NCC) be replaced by the Australian Council for Competition Policy, established and funded by the states.

Full deregulation of retail trading hours was overdue and restrictions should be removed as soon as possible, according to the competition review panel. Online shopping was undermining restrictions on retail trading hours and disadvantaging traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers.

The Abbott government welcomed the draft competition review. Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson said:
The review focuses on improving outcomes for Australians, by making markets work in the long term interests of consumers.

The panel, chaired by economist Ian Harper, proposed a body that would advocate and educate in competition policy. It would be responsible for administering payments to areas where implemented competition reforms result in disproportionate effects.

The panel said the rise of Asia's economy, Australia's ageing population and new technologies will test the whether Australia's competition policies, laws and institutions are "fit for purpose".

Australia needs to improve its capacity for agility and innovation, while greater choice is needed in health care to meet the demands of an ageing population, in a digitally disrupted market where technology is changing the way consumers engage with markets, it said.

Some of the priority areas for reform included removing restrictions on parallel imports.

The panel said restrictions intended to benefit local producers by shielding them from international competition are easily circumvented by changing technology, and online shopping. Relaxing these restrictions would deliver net benefit to the community.

The new council also recommended regulation changes to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for investigation of breaches of the law, but the review panel said the ACCC should retain both competition and consumer functions.

The panel believes the ACCC is a well-regarded and effective body but said that its governance would be strengthened with input from individuals free of responsibility for its day-to-day operations. The panel said:
This would bring an 'outsider's view' and, in particular, allow business, consumer and academic perspectives to bear directly on ACCC decision-making.
Certification for green building materials
The GBCA will release the new Green Star Design & As Built (D&AB) rating tool next month
Architecture and Design
GreenTag can assist products gain traction in the green building industry
The Green Star Design & As Built tool covers all building types
Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) plans to release the new Green Star Design & As Built (D&AB) rating tool next month.

All buildings and building products can now benefit from third party certification and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

This means building products will, for the first time, be able to assist buildings gain credit points towards their Green Star ratings. It also means all building and product manufacturers will be required to include life cycle assessment (LCA) based information about their products.

The GBCA Green Star system-wide, whole-of-life Project LCA credits engage all base building and building interiors products as follows:
  • The integrated Design & As Built Tool (launching October 2014)
  • The integrated Interiors Pilot Tool (launching 2015)
  • The introduction of whole-of-life Project LCA to new tools and existing tools

  • Covering all building types, GBCA's Design & As Built tool has two credit sections relevant to building products: "Product Transparency and Sustainability" and the "Alternative Compliance Pathway: Whole Building LCA".

    The Product Transparency and Sustainability section is relevant to all products with third party certification, ISO 14001 EMS, Product Stewardship and EPDs.

    The Alternative Compliance Pathway: Whole Building LCA is relevant to the entire materials category.

    GreenTag is in a unique position to assist products gain traction in the green building industry. It is recognised by GBCA and can prepare complying LCA and EPDs as part of its LCARate certification program, typically providing these services at 40-60% less cost than other industry LCA practitioners.

    LCARate simplifies the complexity of sustainability marketing to three key pieces of information: tiered GreenTag mark (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum), product scorecard with sustainability metrics, and EPDs.

    GreenTag is an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved National Certification Mark. It is the dominant certifier in Australia in a number of sectors and is the only recognised scheme currently capable of certifying the majority of building products.

    It received the 2013 Banksia Environmental Award for the Built Environment and provides "fixed fee" certification with no turnover royalty. It also has a high recognition factor, and can provide additional value and trust to any brand.
    Graphene paint and a rust-free world
    Graphene oxide has properties that could develop new pharmaceuticals and chemicals
    Tech Times
    It can be applied to metal, glass and brick, protecting the object from corrosion
    Graphene paint can mean a rust free world
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    Graphene paint may mean the end of rust forever on any surfaces treated with the material.

    Graphene consists of a sheet of carbon atoms, just one atom thick. The material has electronic and physical characteristics that could revolutionise a wide range of industries.

    Oxygen can be easily bonded with graphene, forming graphene oxide. This substance has properties that could make it useful in developing new pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

    Graphene oxide can also be applied to many surfaces, including metal, glass and brick, protecting the object from corrosion. Once the coating has set, the layer possesses the thermal and chemical stability of graphite, but is as tough as the strongest substance known to mankind - graphene.

    Graphene paint can be applied to sand, creating a tough, transparent coating, holding grains together in any desired shape. Strong acids can also be coated with graphene paint, which could provide a way of quickly encasing industrial spills of the potentially-dangerous chemicals.

    Ordinary glass and copper can be used to store even the strongest acids following a coating of graphene paint. This material is even resistant to highly-corrosive hydrofluoric acid.

    Graphene has many other significant applications. Yang Su, researcher at the University of Manchester (UK) where a study on graphene is being conducted, said:
    For example, plastic films coated with graphene could be of interest for medical packaging to improve shelf life because they are less permeable to air and water vapour than conventional coatings. In addition, thin layers of graphene paint are optically transparent.

    Because the only ingredient of graphene is carbon, the substance could be produced cheaply. An inexpensive method can be developed to produce it on an industrial scale. So far, that has been the biggest challenge to the budding graphene industry.
    Spectrum Brands to buy Tell Manufacturing
    Spectrum Brands' HHI has agreed to acquire privately owned Tell Manufacturing
    Business Wire
    Dave Lumley, CEO of Spectrum Brands
    Tell Manufacturing is a US manufacturer and distributor of commercial doors, locks and hardware
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Spectrum Brands Holdings recently announced its Hardware and Home Improvement (HHI) Group has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately owned Tell Manufacturing, a US manufacturer and distributor of commercial doors, locks and hardware. It has annual revenues of nearly US$40 million. CEO of Spectrum Brands, Dave Lumley said:
    Tell will accelerate HHI's entry into the $3 billion US commercial door hardware and lock market. This is an expansion area we highlighted when we acquired HHI in late 2012, and we are now preparing to enter the market. The US commercial hardware market enjoys attractive margins due to market specification and distribution dynamics, and is benefiting from the early stage recovery of commercial construction.

    Tell will provide HHI with an established commercial security sales position through a well recognised brand, and a platform to expand HHI's patented SmartKey and Kevo residential lock technologies into growing commercial channels.

    Tell will also add doors and hollow metal door manufacturing capabilities to HHI, a strategically important adjacent category. Greg Gluchowski, president of HHI said:
    In addition to Tell's leading market share in the growing US modular building industry, HHI will gain new non-retail channels and products in metal building and commercial hardware distribution, along with cross-selling opportunities in existing retail, MRO and additional construction channels.
    Combined, Tell and HHI can offer customers a complete residential and commercial hardware and door solution, particularly in shared applications such as multi-family housing and hospitality projects.
    This tuck-in acquisition is an excellent fit with our strategy to pursue synergistic, bolt-on acquisitions that expand our product line with complementary brands and categories, and provide for significant manufacturing, distribution synergies. This acquisition will provide a number of exciting growth opportunities.

    The acquisition is expected to close by the end of October 2014 and is subject to the completion of customary closing conditions.
    Dremel launches a 3D printer
    Dremel's 3D Idea Builder adds a new dimension to the brand's portfolio of tool systems
    It has formed a strategic partnership with Autodesk software company
    The Dremel 3D printer will be available in select Home Depot stores in early November
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    Dremel has introduced the 3D Idea Builder which adds a new dimension to the brand's portfolio of versatile tool systems. The Idea Builder is designed to inspire the end-user to build on their own ideas with the support and mentorship of the Dremel Experts.

    Through a strategic partnership with software company Autodesk, Dremel will provide free print-ready 3D models and simple design tools, while continuing to release design tools on to coach users through the building process.

    Consumers will be able to choose from print-ready models, simple adjustable templates or they can start their design from scratch with easy access to the Autodesk 123D(r) family of free* design software applications. John Kavanagh, president of Dremel said:
    The Dremel 3D model portfolio will continue to grow with the help of Autodesk 123D apps and the models we will curate from our community. Additionally, we'll be offering an increased number of customisers on our site that will further help people to develop and personalise projects of their own. Long-term, the partnership with Autodesk will allow us to bring together hardware and software to better address the needs of our community. We're excited to be an early partner with Autodesk in using Spark, the open platform to better connect digital content and the hardware.

    The Dremel 3D pre-sale began on and, with in-store availability at select Home Depot stores in early November.

    The Dremel 3D Idea Builder is the world's first UL certified 3D printer with service via the Dremel Experts. It can nurture both novice and advanced users. Key product features of the Dremel 3D Idea Builder include:
  • Easy-to-use functionality
  • Intuitive print software for simple customisation of 3D models
  • Pre-installed extruder for fast, out-of-the-box use
  • Print-ready model portfolio provided by Dremel and Autodesk to start the building process
  • Product support and mentorship via the Dremel Experts
  • Full-featured tool
  • Full colour touch screen and onboard print software for stand-alone operation when needed
  • Fully enclosed for reduced noise and protected object building
  • Active cooling fan prevents warping of objects while they are built
  • Best-in-class print resolution (100 micron) for fine printing detail
  • Large, removable build platform for larger prints and projects
  • UL certified to assure quality and safety
  • PLA filament in 10 vibrant colours are plant-based, recyclable and renewable
  • Energy saving mode reduces environmental impact and wasted energy
  • Free products are subject to the terms and conditions of the end-user license and services agreement that accompanies the software.
    Possible customers: Who are you shutting out?
    Lowe's introduces a new series of TV ads based on the football season
    Hardware News Network
    Department stores consistently underperform in the retail sector
    Graph of home improvement turnover versus department store turnover 2005 to 2014
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    It is a fairly basic principle of retail that you can't get rich by turning customers away. We might once have said that didn't apply to "luxury" brands, but for Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and many other top brands, the allure of exclusivity has been increasingly outweighed by the profitability of mass appeal in both marketing and product design.

    Yet the outstanding failure of Australia's department stores today is based precisely on this "selectivity" when it comes to their customers. Faced with declining sales, rather than broadening their appeal, the department stores narrowed their focus. This had led to dismal revenue and profit results.

    Home improvement retailers might believe themselves immune to this kind of selectivity bias, but in fact they are nearly as guilty of it as the department stores. The difference is that the narrow markets to which they appeal have flourished, and brought growth and profits.

    That is about to change.

    Not because the markets themselves have shifted, but because the home improvement retail industry has moved into an expansionary mode.

    This is the basic equation for home improvement retailers over the next two to three years:
  • vast increase in floor space
  • new locations
  • major new competitors
  • static market

  • Therefore
  • need for category expansion.

  • Category expansion has two sides to it: expansion of products and services; and expansion of customer demographics.

    We can visualise that using one of those neat 2 x 2 matrices so popular with MBAs and consultants:
    Expansion matrix

    What this diagram clearly reveals is that appealing to new demographics provides far greater expansion capacity than brand extensions.

    Correspondingly, however, as we all know, expanding product lines and services to existing customers is much easier than obtaining new customers.

    Yet, as product line expansion continues, obtaining new customers continues to increase in value. It also becomes easier, through the greater range of customer attractants.

    It is inevitable that any home improvement retailer, no matter its size, will need to look towards expanding the demographics of its customers.

    For major retailers, this will be the only way to secure growth. For smaller retailers, this will be the only way to survive, through finding markets under-serviced by the major retailers.
    Who gets excluded?

    Many retailers may find it difficult to believe they are excluding any markets, so let's start by demonstrating this is not only happening but is quite widespread.

    To help us define target demographics, we can use the useful marketing tool known as "personas". Australia's Roy Morgan Single Source provides a useful set of such personas, which they call "Helix Personas".

    Roy Morgan has analysed the common personas that make up customers for the major home improvement retailers, but we're going to look at one distinct group that isn't mainstream to those retailers. In the Helix system these are referred to as belonging to the 200 series, otherwise known as the "Metrotechs", of which there are 10 subgroups.

    The Metrotechs are described as "Young, single, well educated, inner city professionals with high incomes, typically renting apartments. Cultured, connected, clued-in and cashed up". The description continues:
    Say goodbye to the myth of the entitled Gen Y hipster expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter: Metrotechs are hard-working and ambitious, and probably earn more money than you. Their swanky rented apartments could be straight out of a premium beer commercial, while their action-packed social schedules are almost as demanding as their day jobs...Sure, they plan to settle down, get hitched and buy their own place one of these days, but there's plenty of time for that later. For now, they just want to enjoy the freedom that their upward mobility brings: the overseas travel, the fancy restaurants, the designer clothes, the techie toys...You could say they're a marketer's dream.

    While these general definitions seem quite narrow, Roy Morgan has been savvy enough to make this 200 group quite broad when it comes to really defining age and lifestyle. For example, subgroup 207, Urban Entertainers is defined as:
    A mix of young, middle-aged and older age groups make up the Urban Entertainers community. Married, de-facto or single, with or without kids, their defining feature is their healthy income and career success. Professions are broad and include teaching, nursing, construction, and personal and recreational services. A small percentage of retirees fall within this group.
    Urban Entertainers persona

    Then there is 206 Big Future, defined as: "Well educated inner city renters, focused on their job, their health and improving their education". This is part of the personal profile example of this group:
    Dad was a labourer so he's proud that I've done so well. When I graduated there was a huge family celebration; all my uncles, aunts and cousins were there. Back then, I would never have guessed I'd end up working as a Program Manager for a migrant educational service, but I love it: we really make a difference to peoples' lives. Nick and I are obsessive about paying as much as we can off the mortgage.
    The Big Future persona

    I would suggest that there are vey few (if any) Australian home improvement retailers who could claim to spend much time actually trying to market to the Metrotech group. That is not in any way a rational business decision. It is a purely cultural decision.
    The new marketing

    Home improvement retailers tend not to market to what are (for them) outlying groups because they have a belief that to do so would somehow alienate their established customer base.

    [Continues in Full Text]
    Interesting links
    Growing company, Silk Contract Logistics is a supplier to Masters
    HNN Sources
    TV shows like House Rules had positive consquences for the home improvement industry
    Homebase is rolling out its DIY concept in its stores
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Another selection of stories about the home improvement industry in Australia and overseas markets. This week, Silk Contract Logistics claims Masters as a customer; Winning Appliances grows its bricks-and-mortar presence; and renovation shows on TV have a tangible impact on the home improvement industry. UK retailer Homebase also trials its DIY concept and the Auckland Home Show attracts large numbers.

    For further information, simply click on the images provided.
    Local News
    Masters' logistics supplier

    Victorian-based Silk Contract Logistics (SCL) has recently taken on Masters Home Improvement as a customer. The company will be adding prime movers to its fleet and expanding its warehousing space. New owners took over the business in February, which incorporates Kagan Logistics and Hoffman Transport. With over 350 employees across 25 sites, SCL has more than 200,000sqm of warehouse space.
    Masters is using Silk Contract Logistics
    Winning Appliances expands footprint

    Winning Appliances continues to re-brand Kitchen Headquarters stores in WA. The three Perth showrooms add to the retailer's nine outlets in NSW and Queensland. Thirty-year-old Winning Group chief executive John Winning founded Appliances Online a decade ago. It is now the nation's biggest online appliances seller.
    Winning Appliances adds to its bricks-and-mortar network
    The halo effect of TV reno shows

    The boom in TV home reno shows is proving to be a boon for the home improvement industry, with data indicating a spike in demand for tradies after Channel Seven's House Rules went to air in April this year. Figures collected by local services marketplace Oneflare shows a surge in home industry related job requests. The upswing includes a 35% rise in requests for kitchen renovations and a 30% increase in bathroom renovation job postings.
    TV renovation shows have a positive effect on the home improvement industry
    Northern beaches tradies "most affordable"

    New figures from online booking site reveals the average cost of tradies on the northern beaches is lower than other parts of Sydney. The suburban price divide is a reflection of local supply and demand, according to Oliver Pennington: "In the beachside areas north and south of the harbour there's a strong supply of tradies which keeps prices in those areas low. But where building and renovation demand is stretching the capacity of suppliers, like in the Hills District and the northwest, rates are usually higher."
    Tradies on NSW's northern beaches earn less than other parts of Sydney
    International News
    Visitor boost at Auckland Home Show

    The Auckland Home Show, positioning itself as "the largest home renovation and building event in Australasia", reported a 24% increase on last year's attendance with more than 50,000 visitors attending the show across the five days. Organised by Exhibitions and Events New Zealand, the event featured more than 500 exhibitors.
    Auckland Home Show experiences growth in visitor numbers
    Homebase unveils "store of the future"

    As part of its "Store of the Future" program, Homebase has revealed the blueprint for its DIY store concept. It includes interactive screens; a demo zone for customers to interact with new products; updated display fixtures to improve merchandising for key product categories; standout signage to aid navigation; and impactful POS that supports ongoing key promotions and brands.
    UK chain Homebase launches DIY store concept
    Gro-Sure wins top prize at GLEE

    Judges at the GLEE garden trade show in Birmingham, UK awarded Gro-Sure(r) Tomato Gro-Pack a major award for its innovative design. It won the Garden Care - Chemicals, Fertiliser and Composts category at the New Product Showcase Awards. Designed for one tomato plant, and ideal for consumers who want to "have a gro" or those with a small patio or balcony.
    The Gro-Sure brand wins at GLEE
    Lock and key from Lincoln

    A security specialist based in Lincoln, UK has developed an electronic access system with experts from the University of Lincoln. The eLOQ consists of a battery-powered key which provides the power to the lock when inserted. Once the key is used, its digital display system will check preset user credentials, permissions and the date and time on the user calendar.
    The eLOQ also uses interactive software
    Porch acquires ValueAppeal

    Home improvement site Porch has acquired startup ValueAppeal which is working on a new service designed to help real estate professionals develop leads through predictive intelligence. Porch collects data about home improvement projects across the US - including costs - allowing homeowners to see details about projects in their neighborhoods, and connect with renovation companies and contractors. It charges professionals for market insights and promotional exposure in specific geographies. It already has partnerships with Lowe's and
    Fast-growing home improvement site Porch has acquired ValueAppeal
    ATGStores' "Learning Lounge"

    Home improvement retailer aims to enhance the customer experience by providing DIY and how-to information in a virtual "Learning Lounge" that is free to access. It is an online library of home improvement tips, tricks and how-to videos. has been part of Lowe's since 2011 but was established in 1999. The company features over 3.5 million products on the site. has created the "Learning Lounge"
    Maestro gets a new owner

    Chile-based retailer Falabella recently announced it has purchased Peruvian home improvement chain Maestro for about US$490 million. Falabella, operating through its eponymous department store chain and its Sodimac home improvement chain, is one of South America's largest retailers. Maestro, controlled by Peruvian private equity firm Enfoca, is Sodimac's main competitor in Peru, with some 30 stores, 4,000 employees and annual sales of 1.47 billion Peruvian sols.
    Peru's home improvement chain Maestro has changed hands
    Shalimar Paints changes direction

    New chief executive of Shalimar Paints, Sameer Nagpal will work to re-focus India's oldest paint company towards the decorative paints market, where margins are significantly higher than in the industrial segment. Set up in 1902 in Calcutta, Shalimar Paints was once India's largest paint company. But its decline began in the early nineties when a move away from the decorative paints to the industrial market reduced Shalimar to a shadow of its former self.
    India's Shalimar Paints has a new CEO with a new strategy
    Ace Hardware partners with eBay
    Ace Hardware selected eBay Enterprise to augment its omnichannel capabilities
    Industrial Distribution
    Ace achieved an average lift of 18 to 20% in its e-commerce sales using eBay instore solutions
    Since 2003, eBay Enterprise has provided Ace with commerce solutions
    Give to Amnesty International
    eBay and Ace Hardware announced a partnership that will enhance the hardware retailer's omnichannel offer with eBay Enterprise In-Store Pickup.

    Ace selected eBay Enterprise to augment its omnichannel capabilities as the company ramps up its efforts to stay competitive, drive sales and generate new customer acquisition efforts.

    Ace and eBay Enterprise worked together during the summer of 2013 to pilot the in-store pickup program. Its initial implementation involved 36 stores and, on average, has added this cloud-based solution to more than 50 stores per month.

    By the end of July with more than 500 stores using eBay Enterprise In-Store Pickup, Ace has achieved an average lift of 18 to 20% in its e-commerce sales. Ace has also seen growth in overall sales and new customers they would have not obtained without this program. Jeff Gooding, director of consumer marketing at Ace said:
    We had been searching for a solution to help us acquire new customers and drive additional sales to our brick and mortar locations...The flexibility, ease of use, extensive training at the local store level and support from eBay Enterprise for our retail associates was key to making this initiative successful.

    Since 2003, eBay Enterprise has provided Ace with commerce solutions, including creating webstores, online marketing, drop ship, fulfillment and customer service. Ace plans to launch the in-store pickup solution in around 1,000 stores across the US. Tom Barone, head of omnichannel operations for eBay Enterprise, North America said:
    Local is one of the key battlegrounds for retailers looking to create a competitive advantage. eBay Enterprise is leading store fulfillment globally with quick to implement solutions live in North America, Europe and Asia. eBay Enterprise provides technology and services that enable retailers to compete, attract new customers and drive additional sales with industry-leading ROI.

    According to "The Forrester Wave: Omnichannel Order Management, Q3 2014" report by Forrester Research, Inc., eBay Enterprise store fulfillment solutions stand out as a highly regarded suite of products.

    With over 4,875 hardware stores locally owned and operated across the globe, Ace is the largest hardware cooperative in the industry.
    Seeking opportunities
    Masters Home Improvement needs a supply chain analyst
    HNN Sources
    SA-based Bedford Group is seeking a national key account manager for Bunnings
    Bunnings has an opportunity for a 2IC warehouse manager at its distribution centre in Eastern Creek (NSW)
    Visit the Mecca Website
    A selection of the latest hardware/home improvement jobs from the few weeks. Masters needs a supply chain analyst; Bedford Group in South Australia is searching for a national account manager; and a NSW-based Bunnings distribution centre is in need of a 2IC warehouse manager.

    For more information, simply click on the links or images provided.
    Analysing Masters' supply chain

    Masters requires a network analyst for its supply chain. As part of their responsibilities, the successful candidate will provide forecasts that optimise cost and service levels and conduct long term planning to ensure the network is capable of handling aggressive growth targets. Strong analytical and numerical skills are a must, as well as experience with process improvement.
    Supply chain role at Masters
    Managing the Bunnings account

    SA-based Bedford Group is seeking a national key account manager for its Bunnings business. Reporting to the general manager - manufacturing, they will have accountability for managing sales, merchandising and new product development activities. The right candidate will have extensive experience dealing with big boxes in the hardware retail industry. Exposure to managing Bunnings would be a distinct advantage.
    Managing Bunnings for Bedford Group
    Bunnings DC needs 2IC

    An opportunity exists for a 2IC warehouse manager at Bunnings distribution centre in Eastern Creek (NSW). It is a new warehouse distributing to 80 plus stores through out NSW and ACT. An Oracle IT system is utilised to coordinate the movement of stock. The 2IC will primarily provide a high level of support to the distribution manager and coordinate all inbound and outbound freight.
    Bunnings needs a 2IC warehouse manager for a distribution centre in NSW
    Home Depot data security management questioned
    Home Depot press release suggests minimal financial impact from data breach.
    The New York Times
    Initial reports from MasterCard suggest data breach limited to self-checkouts.
    Globe & Mail reports Canadian class action suit against Home Depot
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    US newspaper The New York Times (NYT) has published an article detailing purported lax security practices at US-based big-box home improvement retailer Home Depot.

    According to the article, published on 19 September 2014, the company failed to heed repeated warnings from its IT security staff that it needed to harden its defences by upgrading its software, making security checking procedures more regular and monitoring network traffic over its systems. These concerns were first raised in 2008. One standout action by the company was to rely on a 2007 release of virus software to secure its systems.

    The NYT also reports that IT security staff have indicated Home Depot refused to provide them with needed resources. Their pleas for additional systems and training were almost always refused. According to these sources, management at Home Depot used the expression "We sell hammers" to explain why the company consistently under-resourced the security staff responsible for protecting the credit information of its customers.

    Further, NYT reports that in 2012 Home Depot hired a software engineer to oversee security at its over 2000 stores. He is now serving a four-year prison sentence. Ricky Joe Mitchell had previously worked for EverVest Operating, an oil and gas company. Before leaving he sabotaged that company's network, resulting in a 30-day loss of trading. He was sentenced to serve his four-year term in April of 2014.

    The US States Attorney's Office published a press release regarding Mr Mitchell's indictment on 20 May 2014:
    United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that a former network engineer at Charleston-based EnerVest Operating, LLC ("EnerVest"), was sentenced to four years in federal prison for intentionally causing severe damage to his employer s computer system. Ricky Joe Mitchell, 35, of Charleston, West Virginia, admitted that in June 2012, shortly after he learned he was going to be fired, he remotely accessed EnerVest's computer system and reset the company's network servers to factory settings, essentially eliminating access to all of the company's data and applications for its eastern United States operations. Before his access to EnerVest s offices could be terminated, Mitchell entered the offices after business hours, disconnected critical pieces of computer-network equipment, and disabled the equipment's cooling system. As a result of Mitchell's destructive acts, EnerVest was unable to fully communicate or conduct business operations for approximately 30 days. The company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to recover historical data from its network servers, and some of its data were lost forever... In addition to his four-year prison sentence, Mitchell was ordered to pay [US]$428,000 in restitution to EnerVest, plus a [US]$100,000 fine.

    A spokesperson for Home Depot, Stephen Holmes, has stated that "Our guiding principle is to do what s right by our customers". He declared that the company maintains rigorous security systems.
    Securing systems

    Home Depot has attempted to portray itself as a company that was doing the right thing, just not quickly enough - a situation it further states it has now remedied. The company had begun a rollout of enhanced encryption across its network beginning in January 2014, but had not completed that rollout by September, enabling the thieves to infiltrate its systems beginning in April 2014.

    [Continues in Full Text]
    UK shoppers keen on digital integration
    Adding value to the shopping experience
    Retail Week/Demandware
    Digital features in stores
    Main purpose of technology in-store
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    The UK publication Retail Week has undertaken a survey of 1000 UK shoppers in association with online e-commerce company Demandware, and published a white paper to detail the results.

    The report emphasises that UK shoppers now expect retailers to offer an equivalent shopping experience both in-store and online. The following are some of the core results of the survey:
  • 38.2% browse online and buy online
  • 23.7% browse online at home, then buy in-store
  • 16.7% research and buy in-store
  • 42.2% comfortable with dynamic pricing.
  • Top five online stores with UK customers were (in order) Amazon, eBay, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, and Tesco.
  • Loyalty cards are popular with 42% overall, and with 64.8% of those over 65 years old.

  • One of the most interesting results indicated that the second-most requested feature was actually to have promotional offers delivered to a mobile device as they moved around the store, using location-aware technology such as iBeacon. The most requested feature was for delivery lockers located in stores, where items ordered online could be picked up.

    The white paper encourages retailers to explore and embrace technologies that tie together the in-store and the online experience of shopping:
    The findings reveal consumers place convenience above all else, and want in-store innovations to reflect their need for a shopping experience that's as easy, personalised and seamless as possible. To future-proof their stores, retailers must embrace a host of new technologies that do just that - from kiosks that automatically tailor the offering based on past purchase history, to ready-to-try clothes rails waiting in store for the customers' impending arrival.

    Demandware states at the end of the survey document that it will be publishing a paper with more in-depth content on this subject. The company suggests that people interested in receiving this survey can do so by emailing a request to .
    Light home exteriors gain popularity
    White, cream and light grey bricks for home exteriors by Boral
    Bricks are in lighter shades from the  Boral Horizon range
    It offers colour-coated and colour-through bricks in white, cream and light grey tones
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    Australians are embracing lighter shades for home exteriors, echoing European interior design predictions for the year ahead. David Bird, general manager of Boral Bricks East said:
    We have seen an increased interest of lighter colour bricks across the East Coast of Australia. The white, cream and light grey bricks from the range of Boral Horizon bricks, launched earlier this year, are proving especially popular in New South Wales and Queensland.
    Interestingly, Victorians are favouring lighter coloured exteriors, marking a shift away from their love of traditional red brick homes. In response to growing demand, we recently expanded our range of cream, white and light grey bricks in Victoria.

    A lighter coloured exterior is an ideal base for changing indoor and outdoor design trends, and cream and white bricks can be a cost-effective and easy option for achieving this. Rather than painting or rendering darker bricks, home owners can opt for cream or white bricks for new builds or extensions and eliminate these additional processes and costs. Bird said:
    Light exteriors can also help to keep houses in warm climates cool year-round. Research has shown that the use of light-coloured bricks can reduce heat absorption, helping to keep the home cool naturally.

    Boral offers a range of colour-coated and colour-through bricks in white, cream and light grey tones.

    Colour-through bricks, where the face colour is carried through the whole brick, help to disguise chips through natural wear and tear. Colour-coated bricks, which have a darker base and are coated with a light colour, are ideal for the budget-conscious home builder.
    A peek at international home design magazines
    Vogue Living Australia Sept/Oct issue
    UK House & Garden editor Susan Crewe
    The World of Interiors (October 2014)
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    The following images are all from outside Australia, though the source of the first group is from Vogue Living Australia. Nonetheless, they do show many of the same influences found in Australian designs. The colour palettes tend to the neutral, and there is an effort to integrate older items with slightly newer ones. Raw wood surfaces complement painted and finished wood surfaces. Altogether, it seems a kind of mellowing.
    Vogue Living Australia
    September/October 2014
    A lush sofa
    Lagerfeld shadow in the background

    This seems to be a general sofa shape that is becoming more common, dimpled upholstery with either a vivid fabric in one colour, or something shiny in a neutral tone.
    Blue kitchen

    This is, apparently, the kitchen of a Belgian designer named "Dirk Jan Kinet", and it is located in Mexico City. The appeal seems to be, once again, the slightly dilapidated, textured nature of the design, perhaps a reaction against the sleek, expensive, over-designed kitchens that have become more common.
    A kitchen from an island off the coast of Scotland

    Kitchen from a remodelled cottage on the Isle of Tiree, off the West coast of Scotland. It is no ordinary cottage: it has won a Royal Institute of British Architects award.

    Common themes are the use of natural and painted wood surfaces, wood panelling and the neutral off-white painted walls.
    The World of Interiors (UK)
    Ocotober 2014

    [Continues in Full Text]
    Big box update
    Bunnings Warehouse Minchinbury will get an $11million expansion
    HNN Sources
    Bunnings has bought the former Panorama TAFE site in Adelaide (SA)
    Both Bunnings and Mitre 10 held simultaneous store functions recently in Gympie (QLD)
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    Bunnings store in Minchinbury (NSW) is set to undergo an expansion. In other news, there is concern over Bunnings' purchase of a former TAFE site in South Australia and Bunnings latest store competes directly with Mitre 10 in Gympie (QLD).
    Bunnings first Sydney store to expand

    An $11 million expansion of Bunnings Warehouse Minchinbury will bring the site into line with other Bunnings stores. Bunnings' chief operating officer Peter Davis said the store required an update and expansion to accommodate a wider range of products. He said the size of the warehouse was expected to increase from the 12,000sqm to more than 16,521sqm by the time of its expected reopening in April 2015.

    Project manager Chris Bozkewycz said the expansion was overdue. He told the Daily Telegraph: "They do a major upgrade every 10 years on a store to bring it up to current specifications. The whole idea with Bunnings is so you can go into aisle 14 in any store in Australia and buy the same thing in the same position."

    Davis said the Minchinbury store was the first warehouse to be built in Sydney. Opened in 1998, the expansion will see 30 new recruits join the store's current team.
    Bunnings to redevelop ex-TAFE site

    Bunnings has bought the former Panorama TAFE site in Adelaide (SA). Chief operating officer Peter Davis told the Mitcham & Hills Messenger that a store planned for the 3.4ha site would create more than 190 permanent jobs and another 340 during construction. He said: "Bunnings is pleased to confirm we are in the early stages of acquiring and planning the development of a new store in Panorama."

    Panorama Clapham Community Group spokesman Neil Baron said the plans had the potential to make the area's traffic problems even worse. He explained: "We are not opposed to the development but you really have to consider traffic management. A Bunnings store is only going to exacerbate the problem and could mean more people will use the back roads."
    Duelling store events in Gympie

    Both Bunnings and Mitre 10 held simultaneous store functions recently in the Gympie region of Queensland. Bunnings held a "soft opening" prior to a series of events that marked the official opening of its store. Nearby, Sunshine Mitre 10 offered a 20% off Mighty Bag sale in the same weekend, hosting contestants Shannon and Simon from The Block and doing live weather crosses with Channel 9's Weekend Today Show. It attracted many families and children.

    Bunnings recruited rugby league commentator Gorden "The Raging Bull" Tallis to open the $35 million warehouse complex. It followed up with country music legend Troy Cassar-Daley who headlined Bunnings' grand opening concert. Activities are planned across two weekends to mark the store's launch.

    According to the Gympie Times, Mitre 10 dominated the local retail scene for over 10 years with two stores. It is now competing directly with the new Bunnings Gympie warehouse.
    Lowe's reveals US$28m funding of
    Porch and Lowe's have a close relationship. This is signage from a Lowe's store.
    USA Today
    An example project listed on offers a searchable database of projects others in a homeowner's neighbourhood have completed.
    Click to visit the ITW website for move information
    US-based home improvement big-box retailer Lowe's Home Improvement has revealed the depth of its ties with US home home services and data web startup Porch.

    Lowe's revealed it had provided Porch with US$27.6 million in Series A funding. The investment values Porch as being worth US$85 million.

    The news was released as Porch celebrates its one-year birthday in September 2014. As with the somewhat similar start-up Houzz, Porch began with the frustration its founder, Matt Ehrlichman, experienced when he took a year off and began building a new house. Beginning as a company based in his own home's basement with a few friends, today it employs 200 people. As Mr Ehrlichman told US newspaper "USA Today":
    It all came to me when my wife and I were trying to build our own home, and it took us months of interviewing contractors and architects before we could even remotely get started. In the end, you tend to go with word-of-mouth referrals. But I figured there had to be a better way.

    The goal of the site is double. One aspect is to provide something like what the US service CarFax does for vehicles, supplying a complete history of ownership and usage. Home-owners can record the work that they've completed on their home, giving prospective buyers a good overview of the care that has been taken of a home, as well as any potential problems that may be present.

    The second side of its services is that it provides a very good way for tradespeople, architects and designers to showcase their work. They can not only point to actual examples of what they have done, but they do so in a context where prospective customers can easily contact previous customers for reassurance. As Mr Ehrlichman himself described the service to "USA Today":
    We like to think of it as a LinkedIn for helping you find trusted workers for your home project. Beyond that, we aim to be the home network, a place for people to tell the story of their homes. We think there's a need, given your house is your biggest investment.

    By any account Porch has been successful at meeting a market need. It now has had over 120 million homeowner projects posted through its services, and has 1.5 million maintenance, repair and renovation professionals in its services listings.
    Lowe's becomes venturesome

    Jay Rebello, Lowe's vice president of new business development & corporate innovation, has told the US publication "Venture Beat" that the company is in the early stages of building its own venture capital operations. Mr Rebello said the Porch investment had as much to do with the data the company can gather as anything else.
    We're responsible for seeing where the consumer is going. We view this as a near-term play to provide services to the customer and a long-term play for gathering data and understanding from the data more about dynamics of home improvement.

    The funding arrangement does not come as much of a surprise, as Lowe's began a close relationship with Porch at the beginning of 2014. The over 1700 stores in the Lowe's network help homeowners find professionals to work on their houses with the aid of Porch.
    Porch expands services

    In addition to its two core services, Porch is beginning to access a third service: data-based analytics. One of the new services it has rolled out on its anniversary is a database of remodelling projects that users can add their own projects to, as well as browse the projects of others. As Mr Ehrlichman told "USA Today", the service provides: even greater emphasis on transparency and detailed data on licensed builders. It's about being specific. It's not just "What does a kitchen remodel look like and cost," but it's what it looks like and costs in your neighbourhood.

    Users can search for very specific types of projects to view, such as kitchen or bathroom renovations limited to a price range for areas of a specific size in a specific locality.

    To back up the user contributions to the database, Porch also determines whether professionals are licensed to operate in the state where they are selling services, and verifies user reviews to ensure they are genuine, and not promotional ploys.

    Porch may also consider the syndication of some of its data, enabling real estate sales web sites to list recent renovation, maintenance and improvement work conducted on a house for sale, as an example.

    These changes bring Porch into virtually direct competition with Houzz. Other US-based services with which it also competes include:
    Pro.comZillow DigsAngie's List
    Roy Morgan stats show Bunnings' strength
    Roy Morgan Single Source graph of home improvement store customers
    Roy Morgan Single Source
    Helix Personas from Roy Morgan: 300 Today's Families
    Helix Personas from Roy Morgan: 400 Aussie Achievers
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Australian market research firm Roy Morgan has released some results from its survey of how many people have made a purchase at each of the major home improvement retailers.

    It is no surprise that Bunnings came out in the lead by a wide margin. The headline number for Australia's largest and most profitable home improvement retailer was 9,012,000. This number was up from the number for July 2012/13, which was 8,435,000.

    In second place was Mitre 10 with 1,789.000. Masters was third with 1,217,000 and Home Hardware fourth with 534,000. It is interesting to note that the combined Masters/Home Hardware numbers are now close to equaling the Mitre 10 number.

    This interesting research comes from Roy Morgan Single Source. The statistics measure the number of Australians aged 14 years and over who make a purchase from a home improvement retailer over an average four-week period. The time period for the statistics is the year from July 2013 to June 2014. The average annual sample is listed as 18,912 people.

    Warren Reid, a group account director with Roy Morgan, noted that Masters has made good progress in its customer service scores, but still has a considerable gap to make up:
    Masters is making solid gains in customer satisfaction, which feeds back into increased customer numbers. In the year to June 2012, just 67% of its recent customers said they were very or fairly satisfied, A year later, it was up to 75% of customers, and rose again to 82% in the year to June 2014. However on overall satisfaction, Masters still trails Bunnings, Mitre 10 and Home Hardware by around 4% to 6%.
    How is competition developing?

    It is impossible to clearly determine from these numbers who is taking market share from whom. Masters is certainly growing quickly in terms of customer numbers, doubling from 2011/12 to 2012/13, an increasing by nearly a further 50% from 2012/13 to 2013/14. Home Hardware numbers over the five years have slipped slightly, while Mitre 10 is showing a worrying gradual slippage in shoppers, according to these numbers.

    However, especially in the case of Mitre 10, the effect of the trade/general consumer is not shown, and Mitre 10 has been making a particularly strong push to expand its trade offering in recent years.

    Mr Reid also noted that the composition of customers for Masters had some significant differences to that of the other major home improvement retailers:
    Customers of the "Big Box" retailers Bunnings and Masters share a number of demographic characteristics, including a more neutral gender split compared with other hardware stores. But further analysis using our Helix Personas segmentation tool shows that people in "middle Australian" communities are well over-represented among Masters customers. Around 1 in 8 Today's Families and 1 in 11 Aussie Achievers visited Masters in an average month, compared with around 1 in 16 Australians.

    The Helix Personas segmentation tool makes use of marketing personas, which provide better clearly drawn portraits for various market segments. Today's Families is defined by Roy Morgan as:
    Young families in the outer suburbs, living up to their above-average incomes. Their beloved gizmo-enriched home is the nucleus of their family.

    Aussie Achievers are defined as:
    Closest to the average Australian, these young, educated, outer suburban families are working full time to pay off their expensive separate house.

    The importance of this difference is that much of the possible expansion business that home improvement retailers will likely be seeking, in kitchens, bathrooms, appliances and homewares, is very dependent on demographics. It's possible that Masters' strategy has positioned it to more easily take advantage of these expansion lines than the other home improvement retailers.
    Sustainability Awards finalists announced
    The Target Zero Waste to Landfill home project by Burbank
    Architecture and Design
    The 2014 Premier's Sustainability Awards announced the finalists
    Sustainability Victoria is behind the awards
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    The 2014 Premier's Sustainability Awards have singled out 27 finalists across nine categories. They include the Target Zero Waste to Landfill Project in Melton South by building company, Burbank. Built in 2014, the Zero Waste Home is part of a feasibility study funded through the Victorian Government's Beyond Waste Fund, and designed in conjunction with RMIT University and the Housing Industry Association.

    Capitalising on smart design, an intelligent management of logistics and ordering, and co-operation from trades and suppliers, Burbank was able to slash housing construction waste sent to landfill by an unprecedented 99%, surpassing the original reduction target of 80%.

    This was achieved through a combination of avoidance reuse and recycling, without much compromise on quality or aesthetics. One of the measures included fabricating the metal roof to specified lengths offsite, thus allowing all waste to be collected at the fabricator's workshop in a metal recycling waste stream. Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said:
    In Victoria, it is estimated that the construction and demolition sector sends approximately 850,000 tonnes of waste to landfill each year, the bulk of which is concrete bricks, asphalt and timber.
    Each new house constructed in Victoria produces, on average, 5.8 tonnes of waste. Reducing construction waste by at least 80% or 4.5 tonnes of waste per house, not only represents positive environmental outcomes, it also makes economic sense.

    Regional Rail Link Authority's Regional Rail Link Project, which sought to remove major bottlenecks for metro and regional tracks from Melbourne's west to city, and South East Water's Peninsula Early Connection Option Project - the largest pressure sewer project in Australia, connecting 15,000 unsewered properties on the Mornington Peninsula - joined the Zero Waste Home as finalists.

    Category winners will be announced at an awards dinner on October 2, along with two overall winners selected by Premier Denis Napthine: the Premier's Regional Recognition award and the Premier's Recognition award.
    Finalists include:
    Cleaner Yarra and Bay

    Multipro Civil Pty Ltd

    Port Phillip EcoCentre

    Zoos Victoria

    Aware Industries

    Knox City Council, Alpine Shire, City of Melbourne, City of Port Philip, Yarra Ranges Council

    Moreland Energy Foundation Ltd

    Nathalia & District Preschool

    St Louis de Montfort's Primary School Aspendale

    St Macartan's Primary School
    Environmental Protection

    Barwon Water, Plenary Environment, Water Infrastructure Group

    Southern Rural Water, in partnership with West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, the Department of Environment & Primary Industries

    Infrastructure and Buildings


    Regional Rail Link Authority

    South East Water
    Innovative Products or Services

    Camperdown Compost Company

    Earthco Projects Pty Ltd

    Fieldtech Solutions Pty Ltd
    Large Business


    Toyota Motor Corporation Australia

    ZF Boge Elastmetall Australia Pty Ltd
    Small and Medium Enterprises (SME)

    Interface Constructions Pty Ltd

    KIA-ORA Piggery Pty Ltd

    The Linen Press

    Conservation Volunteers Australia

    Polperro Dolphin Swims Pty Ltd

    Zoos Victoria
    DIY delivers for The Good Guys
    The Good Guys have become one of Australia's top private companies
    The Australian
    The Good Guys are providing kitchens for The Block TV series
    It is a sponsor of The Block Glasshouse series
    Give to Amnesty International
    In an interview with The Australian, The Good Guys chairman Andrew Muir says the latest rise in popularity in home renovation helped boost revenue for the electrical and household goods retailer.

    The Melbourne-based company has moved into the ranks of the top 10 Australian private companies in the 2014 IBISWorld list of top 500 private companies with sales topping $2 billion. Muir told The Australian:
    We have seen an increase in sales as a result of the recent DIY boom.

    He credits television programs such as The Block, which the Good Guys sponsors, for helping to fuel interest in home renovation. Muir said the business had benefited from an upturn in consumer confidence.
    Consumer confidence in Australia is on the increase, but there is still work to do. With household budgets becoming tighter, and with consumers seeking out the best prices and the best value, we need to be accountable.
    On any given day, The Good Guys leads on price competitiveness across its range of products.

    Muir's father began the business as Ian Muir's Radio and Electrical Centre in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon in 1952. The company expanded in the 1960s and 1970s to eight stores in Melbourne operating under the name Mighty Muir's.

    It expanded further with a series of small acquisitions in the 1980s and 1990s, including Bayswater Bulk and Brashs.

    In 1998, it was decided to rename the group The Good Guys, giving it the one brand to help prepare for national expansion. Muir said:
    This was supported by the now iconic television advertising commercial featuring the Beach Boys' song Good Vibrations, with altered lyrics.

    Around the same time it launched its "Pay Less, Pay Cash" proposition, whereby customers became used to receiving a discount on the ticket price.

    The group operates 100 stores across Australia. He said The Good Guys online site, launched in 2010, is "in the top 20 most visited retail sites in Australia".

    The Muir family has a major stake in the company, while many stores operate as joint-venture partnerships with individual proprietors.

    In 2010, JB Hi-Fi was reported to be interested in the chain for about $750 million, well below the rumoured $1 billion the family wanted for the business. There have also been reports US-based Blackstone Group was interested, as well as Wesfarmers.

    Muir said being privately owned allowed the company to be more flexible than some of its listed competitors. He said:
    Being a private business ensures that we operate with 'family values', which ultimately allow us to retain a single-minded
    SMArt locking devices granted patent
    TZ Limited creates intelligent fastening and locking devices for a commercial market
    Proactive Investors
    It has been granted patent applications relating to new types of locking and fastening devices
    The patents cover its products including the Beam Clip, Ring Grip and In-Line Fasteners
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Local lock technology company TZ Limited has been granted patent applications relating to new types of TZ SMArt locking and fastening devices in Australia and Japan that could support additional uses of its technology.

    The patent covers a range of shape memory alloy actuated or smart materials actuated fasteners, fastening and locking systems, fastener assemblies and other related areas that represent improvements over TZ's prior art in the intelligent fastening device space.

    The application has also been accepted in China and is proceeding to grant while applications in the US and Europe are currently undergoing patent office examination.

    Specifically, the patents cover products including its Beam Clip, Ring Grip and In-Line Fasteners.

    TZ's SMArt Device[tm] technology combines SMA actuated intelligent fastening and locking devices with TZ remote software control. These deliver asset level protection for security, monitoring and control applications across a number of markets.

    It currently supplies solutions to corporations worldwide in the data centre industry and automated parcel locker market.

    The Beam Clip demonstrates the possibilities for an electronically controlled snap joint. TZ's Beam Clip is unique in that the flexing can be controlled so that when remotely actuated, it bends backwards away from the undercut to release the mating component. This device represents TZ's smallest fastening form factor and the potential for an very low cost fastening alternative.
    Recent sales

    The company's smart parcel locker solutions are being used in Asia after Pos Indonesia launched TZ's e-Pos Lockers in Bandung, West Java. In May, it won a supply agreement with a logistics and transportation corporation for the supply of parcel lockers to the US market.

    TZ also clinched purchase orders for its employee electronic day lockers to be used by Westpac for its offices in Melbourne and Sydney head office.

    More recently, the company won a purchase order for its data centre smart locking product from a large, multinational banking and financial services company based in Singapore.

    The product provides a sophisticated electronic locking solution for institutions and corporation to secure and protect IT assets. It is part of TZ's Infrastructure Protection (IXP) business.

    The increasing reliance on complex IT systems will continue to move corporations to strengthen its technology risk management capabilities. They need to be prepared to handle IT security incidents and system failures.

    TZ Limited's IXP business offers highly scalable, micro-security and environmental monitoring solutions. Adoption of its products has increased due to an increasing preference for electronic locking to meet compliance requirements.

    In Australia, IXP sales shown steady growth as NextDC and Macquarie Telecom expand their operations and other major data centres start to come online.

    Adoption of TZ's products by several organisations in the 2014 financial year should underpin ongoing growth into the 2015 fiscal year.
    Best garden products at Glee 2014
    Nordic Garden Buildings' Veranda summerhouse won the retailers' award at Glee
    Garden Centre Retail
    The Glee Award was given to Briers' Historic Royal Palaces range, the "best of the best"
    Glee 2015 will be held September 13-15 at NEC Birmingham, UK
    SpotOn is your source for laser levels and other tools
    Winners of the Glee New Product Awards 2014 were confirmed just before the event officially opened (14-15 September) at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham (UK). They were selected from more than 270 entries.

    Visitors to the show also voted for the products they believed offered the most exciting opportunity for retailers. The results led to Nordic Garden Buildings' Veranda summerhouse winning the New Products Retailers Choice Award.

    The Veranda summerhouse received such praise as "beautifully designed", "great price point", and "high quality build and materials", helping Nordic Garden Buildings to scoop the award for the second year running.

    The other winning products were chosen by an expert panel of judges representing independent and multiple retailers, the media and international suppliers.

    Judges considered each entry on a range of criteria, such as innovation, design, quality, environmental credentials, pricing and retail potential.

    On the judging panel were: Allan Wilson, group sundries buyer at Klondyke Group; Sharon McNair, group buyer at Armitage Garden Centre; Moira Peterson, commercial manager for; Rachel Doyle from Arboretum Garden Centres and president of the IGCA; Carlos Bisbe from Digebis, Barcelona; Trevor Pfeiffer, managing director of The Garden Communication and Media Company; Simon McDaniel, garden sundries buyer at The Range; and Roger Wale, general manager at Palmers Garden Centre.

    The list of this year's winners include the following.
    Garden Care - Accessories

    Winner: Haxnicks - EasyPath

    Highly Commended: Garland Products - Jumbo Kneeling Pad

    Judges' comments: "This is a truly innovative product, which can be easily packed away, and with a good price point." (Moira Peterson)
    Garden Care - Chemicals, Fertilisers & Composts

    Winner: Westland - Gro-Sure Tomato

    Highly Commended: Bord-Na-Mona - Chelsea Mix Compost

    Judges' comments: "A great, innovative product for the new gardener." (Roger Wale)
    Garden Leisure

    Winner: La Hacienda - Bakerstone Pizza Box Pizza Oven

    Highly Commended: Nest for Nature - Birch Candles (indoor & outdoor)

    Judges' comments: "Can't wait to buy this one! It is a great product that is well priced." (Rachel Doyle)
    Landscaping & Construction

    Winner: Apta - Glazelite Planters

    Highly Commended: Woodlodge - National Trust range of pots

    Judges' comments: "Apta Glazelite might be lightweight but will be a heavyweight garden centre bestseller - provided it is merchandised in a way that accentuates its lightweight design. Customers will love that they look just like ceramic." (Trevor Pfeiffer)
    Machinery & Tools

    Winner: Burgon & Ball - RHS Cutting Tools

    Highly Commended: Burgon & Ball - Weed Slice

    Judges' comments: "This is a really comprehensive range, which features good packaging, and is offered at a good price point too." (Sharon McNair)
    Green Award

    Winner: Nest for Nature - Birch Candles (indoor & outdoor)

    Highly Commended: Funky Laundry Bags

    Judges' comments: "I love these natural looking candles. A great product." (Rachel Doyle)
    Plants, Seeds & Bulbs

    Winner: Garden On a Roll - Garden On a Roll Gift Box

    Highly Commended: Channel Island Plants (UK) Ltd - Petunia Happy Magic Black Charcoal

    Judges' comments: "This would make a great border or basket plant, a real 'thriller'." (Trevor Pfeiffer)
    Home, Gift & Clothing

    Winner: Briers - Historic Royal Palaces garden accessory range of wellies and gloves

    Highly Commended: Burgon & Ball - Sophie Conran Raspberry Collection

    Judges' comments: "This is a really nice product, well-designed and good quality. It would certainly tell a story on the shop floor. It's also got great gift potential." (Sharon McNair)
    Pet & Wildlife Products

    Winner: Wildlife World - Bee & Bug Biome

    Highly Commended: Wildlife World - Bee Mug

    Judges' comments: "This is an on-trend product, that is well-priced and has great gift potential." (Roger Wale)
    Catering & Speciality Foods

    Winner: Retro Collection by Bon Bon's (Wholesale) Ltd

    Judges' comments: "Fabulous gift idea for everyone! Brings back childhood memories." (Sharon McNair)
    Best of British

    Winner: Apta - Glazelite Planters

    Highly Commended: Burgon & Ball - RHS endorsed cutting tools

    Judges' comments: "A brilliant British design and functionality. At last we have a lightweight pot that really looks and feels like a glazed terracotta pot. Top of the pots for sure." (Trevor Pfeiffer)
    The Glee Award 2014

    This award is given to the product that stood out from all the others. Glee gave the award this year to Briers' Historic Royal Palaces range.
    Sixty-eight per cent of homeowners plan to renovate
    New research shows 68% of homeowners plan to renovate in the next two years
    Homeowners aged 30-34 have the biggest renovation budgets
    A serious plan of attack is required for renovations, according to St George Bank
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    Inspired by home renovation shows including The Block, House Rules and Selling Houses Australia, 68% of homeowners plan to renovate in the next two years and of these 36% plan to renovate in the next year, new research by St George Bank has found.

    But about one in three Australians conceded that they didn't save enough money to get their renovation project started on the original start date.

    When it comes to setting aside a budget, 38% plan to spend between $5000 and $10,000 on renovating while one in five plan to fork out $20,000 on their dream renovations.

    St George's general manager of retail banking, Andy Fell, says the renovation spirit remains strong but homeowners need to have a serious plan of attack to ensure their renovations get off the ground. He said:
    The more time you can spend doing a plan and doing research the more success you'll have in the renovation taking place. Commit to a budget, then you can work out how much you need to save each month.
    If you have a separate savings account the money doesn't get lost in your everyday spending and you have a better chance of creating the budget that you'll need to start your renovations.

    Younger generations are the most determined when it comes to renovating - homeowners aged 30-34 have the biggest budgets, with one in five planning to splash more than $20,000 on their renovation project.

    AMP financial planner Dianne Charman says it's critical renovators stick to a budget. She said:
    Don't over-capitalise, it's really hard not to do this because it's your home. If you can't ever get your money back then why wouldn't you spend that on holidays or paying off your loan quicker. Have a reality check and make sure you project plan and work on what you need to borrow and then pay that amount down before you borrow again.
    Residential housing outlook
    There is likely to be 30,000 more new houses constructed in 2015, according to the latest findings
    Broker News
    Residential development could also reach 180,000 new starts
    RP Data collaborated with the RDC to produce the findings
    Subscribe to HNN weekly e-newsletter
    The Australian Residential Development Outlook revealed there is likely to be 30,000 more new houses constructed in 2015 than previously forecasted, but activity still stops short of what is needed. Residential Development Council (RDC) executive director, Nick Proud said:
    The good news is that the forecasts for 2015 show residential development reaching 180,000 new starts, which adds tens of thousands of homes for Australian families than on previous years.
    On average, Australia builds 150,000 homes each year, but this is simply not enough to meet demand, let alone reduce the housing shortage. These increased construction rates are expected to continue for the next 12-18 months - but the challenge is to keep up this level of activity to meet undersupply.

    Tim Lawless is national research director at RP Data - who collaborated with the RDC to produce the findings. Although the increased demand for housing credit and lending finance will feed into construction activity, he is still remaining cautious. He said:
    Factors such as rising unemployment rates and falling terms of trade could lead to a drop off in the number of new starts from 2016 and this would not only worsen housing affordability, but put greater pressure on state budgets around the country.

    Proud said the residential construction sector will need the support of the government if it has any chance of easing Australia's housing shortage.
    Removing policy roadblocks, like planning systems delays and stamp duty costs, are essential to maintaining higher construction rates, offsetting changes to outlook indicators and improving affordable building into the longer term.
    State governments need to drive policy changes that will support the residential development industry, which in turn supports their budgets.

    User Name:Password: