Canadian Tire to launch trial run of home delivery this year, CEO says

TORONTO — Canadian Tire will launch a trial run with home delivery at the end of this year, its CEO said Thursday in what is likely a response to the rising threat posed from competitors such as Walmart and Amazon.

The move marks a reversal for the national retailer, which for years had expressed no interest in home delivery, saying there was no need to offer it when 90 per cent of the country’s population lives within 15 minutes of one of its stores.

“It’s a big move,” Canadian Tire CEO Stephen Wetmore said in an interview Thursday following the company’s annual general meeting and latest earnings release.

Details are scant. Wetmore said the company needs to pick a market, decide on how many of its nearly 500 stores will participate and which products will be eligible for home delivery.

The trial run will be assessed to determine whether home delivery should be rolled out across the country.

“It’s really complex with CTR (Canadian Tire retail),” he said.

About 100 Canadian Tire stores across the country already offer limited delivery on a small number of products. Delivery is also already available at nearly all of Canadian Tire’s other retail banners, including Mark’s, Pro Hockey Life and Sport Chek.

Canadian Tire has also offered a pay-and-pickup option since it rolled out its e-commerce website in 2014.

The retailer is likely feeling the squeeze from the likes of Walmart Canada and Amazon, which offer same-day and sometimes free delivery.

Wetmore recently returned as the head of the company in July, replacing Michael Medline, who had been in the top job for less than two years. Since his return, Wetmore’s focus has been on improving Canadian Tire’s e-commerce and data analytics strategy.

He said Canadian Tire has been in recent talks with retailers, primarily in Europe, to sell its private brands including home decor lines such as Noma and Canvas.

The company isn’t eyeing any international expansion with its store banners at this point, Wetmore said, but it is open to more mergers and acquisitions abroad.

On Wednesday, Canadian Tire announced it purchased Padinox, the company that owns the Canadian rights to the Paderno kitchenware brand, for an undisclosed amount.

Earlier Thursday, Canadian Tire reported that its profit jumped 26 per cent in its latest quarter to $107.9 million, or $1.24 per share, for the 13-week period ended April 1. That compares with $85.6 million, or 90 cents per share, for the same period a year earlier.

Its revenue climbed 7.6 per cent to $2.75 billion.

The improvement came despite warmer weather in January and February that hurt sales in outerwear, accessories and boots and a cold start to spring that took a bite out of sales in bicycles, running shoes and casual clothing, the company said.

Its shares were down 5.4 per cent in late afternoon trading on the S&P/TSX composite index, trading at $157.32.

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