Retail Council of Canada honours retail excellence at national conference

TORONTO, June 1 /CNW/ - Retail Council of Canada presented 17 prestigious industry awards at the Excellence in Retail Awards Dinner yesterday. The awards recognize the retail industry's top achievers in a variety of categories and were presented as part of STORE 2010 - Canada's Retail Conference.

This year's submissions came from a diverse group of small, mid-size and large retailers in almost every retail category and highlighted new and creative innovations in areas ranging from corporate social responsibility to store design.

This year's winners are:

    In-store merchandising - Mid-sized chain

Harry Rosen Inc.: Harry's Christmas Memories

To stand out from competitors on Toronto's Bloor Street, Harry Rosen set out to be the ultimate gift-giving store for upscale menswear by offering a unique product mix and unparalleled customer service. Harry Rosen's Bloor Street store shined. Customer comments glowed. The Christmas lighting on the outside of the building drew customers from a block away. The image of Santa looking into the display window on the front of the building, along with the windows themselves, created a cohesive presentation of a traditional Christmas season. Customers said they loved the effort to make Harry Rosen Bloor Street a Christmas destination.

    In-store retail merchandising - Large chain

Walmart Canada Corp.: Project Patio

Walmart's goal with 'Project Patio' was to broaden its target demographic and help a range of customers create outdoor living solutions at unbeatable prices. This theme - dream backyards designed to fit the budget - was carried through from the merchandise team's buying decisions to the outdoor living marketing; and from the in-store experience to the moment of purchase. Walmart empowered front line staff to tailor patio displays to the community, reached out to customers via the Web, e-newsletter, television, and in-store marketing, and saw higher sales and impressive profits as a result of 'Project Patio'.

    Online retailing - Mid-sized chain

The Shopping Channel: Where Canadian Women Love to Shop Online

A continued shift to online retailing was a key component of The Shopping Channel's retailing program in 2009, as it marked the tenth anniversary of The Shopping Channel sought to communicate a strong "destination online" message in all marketing and communications and merchandising. To meet this objective, The Shopping Channel enhanced online product information, improved real-time streaming of live broadcasts, improved the online product assortment, grew social media channels, and more. Despite one of the most challenging retail environments in a generation and unprecedented consumer anxiety, The Shopping Channel achieved its overall e-retailing objective and experienced year-over-year growth in key performance areas.

    Online retailing - Large chain

Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.: Online All the Time

Costco's objectives over the last year were to make all aspects of its online business more efficient, to provide members with greater choice by offering thousands of items not sold in stores, and make Costco's customer shopping experience the best in Canada. The overall design of the website reflects the simple, convenient shopping process of the warehouse. Costco's homepage and internal product pages contain all of the information Costco members need to make an informed purchase decision. Enhanced product pages, a social media component, micro sales sites, themed landing pages, themed email blasts, and a revamped customer service component contribute to the freshness of

    Retail employee development - Mid-sized chain

West 49 Inc.: Make Dreams Happen

West 49 Inc. implemented 'Make Dreams Happen', a learning and performance support solution to ensure sales associates have the attitude, skills, and knowledge necessary to deliver the desired customer experience and increase sales across the banners. 'Make Dreams Happen' preserved the integrity of each banner's identity while providing a consistent learning experience. Since 'Make Dreams Happen' launched in June 2009, West 49 has witnessed a high completion rate among employees, a higher units per transaction rate, lower turnover, and positive customer reviews.

    Retail employee development - Large chain

Alcool New Brunswick Liquor: Service Excellence

In keeping with goals to build customer relationships and increase revenue, Alcool New Brunswick Liquor (ANBL) implemented a retail service program named 'Retail Innovation and Service Excellence' (RISE). The program enhanced product knowledge training and customer service, implemented balanced scorecard reporting, and coached store managers and assistant managers in leadership. With more than 600 employees across the province with an average tenure of 17 years with the organization, 'RISE' was a sizeable and important initiative to undertake. The end result: an integrated, bilingual employee training and development system that improved revenue, enhanced the customer experience, and engaged employees in service excellence.

    Retail health & safety

The Beer Store: Getting to Zero: The Road to an Accident-Free Workplace

The Beer Store (TBS) wanted to accelerate its progress towards creating an accident-free workplace. TBS identified four goals: 1) to create a safer work environment; 2) to update health and safety training programs; 3) to develop more robust performance management programs; and 4) to increase employee engagement and strengthen the organizational culture's attitude toward safety. TBS delivered all elements of the health and safety action plan and maximized resources with the integration of employee engagement and feedback via a joint committee and email feedback vehicles within those committees. TBS achieved significant reductions in accidents and lost days as a result.

    Retail loss prevention - Mid-sized chain

Cineplex Entertainment LP: Transformers - Revenge of the Loss Prevention Team

When multiplexes were built in the late 1990s, maintaining accurate daily inventory counts became increasingly difficult because of the broader selection of products and the challenges related to attributing shortages to a single concession attendant. Cineplex's Risk Management group leveraged technology to transform how the company detected skimming at concessions, and implemented the first full-year of the theatre audit program in 2009. The data mining program, operated from the head office, significantly increased the number of skimming incidents detected by the company in 2009.

    Retail loss prevention - Large chain

Sears Canada Inc.: Key Inventory Shrink Initiatives

Building on success in reducing shrink in 2008, Sears Canada developed strategies for 2009 to ensure continuous inventory shrink improvement. After many brainstorming sessions, looking at deep dive analytics, and consulting with senior management, Sears Canada implemented three major strategies to reduce shrink: the Brijot Wave Millimeter Scanner, the TV Securitization and Dock Management Program, and the Unit Compliance Auditing Strategy. These three programs, along with others, reduced shrink and built momentum for Sears Canada's "Zero Tolerance, Zero Loss" approach to loss prevention.

    Retail marketing/advertising - Mid-sized chain

Mountain Equipment Co-Op: MEC's Youth Acquisition Campaign: Retail on a Shoestring!

Combining Canada's aging population, rising obesity, and a less active older membership, MEC leveraged its adult member base and internal multi-channels to reach a younger group of prospective members. Operating on a shoestring budget, MEC reached out to prospective members with email blasts, in-store promotional materials, Facebook ads, and special promotions for young members. MEC saw growth in its membership. The campaign demonstrated that youth acquisition rates can match or even surpass the rate of growth of other ages with the support of a targeted campaign.

    Retail marketing/advertising - Large chain

TIM-BR MART Ltd.: World Junior Hockey Video Challenge

In 2009, TIM-BR Mart, a network of building supply stores across Canada, set out to increase its brand profile through a partnership with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The 'TIM-BR Mart World Junior Hockey Video Challenge' encouraged minor league hockey teams to create and upload (and encourage their local community to vote on) a video for a chance to win a trip for their entire team to the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The reach of the challenge exceeded expectations. What started as a sponsorship and social media exercise morphed into universal support and awareness of the TIM-BR Mart brand.

    Retail store design - Mid-sized chain

Grand & Toy Ltd.: Grand & Toy 'Mighty' New Store Design

Research indicated that Grand & Toy had an opportunity to better serve small- and medium-size customers by allowing these customers to feel "Mighty". The new design fit within the existing space and maximized the merchandise mix and assortment. The new store environment promoted the added value knowledge and service areas Grand & Toy offered, from the designer work area to the small business consultation offices to the new technology demonstration areas. The store design achieved the target budget requirements and helped Grand & Toy exceed sales targets and margin ratios. Grand & Toy will rollout the program in Canada with another ten 'Mighty' stores scheduled for launch in 2010.

    Retail store design - Large chain (TIE)

Mark's Work Wearhouse Ltd.: Re-Mark's, Reinventing Retail

To create a unique "Clothes That Work" shopping experience, Mark's Work Wearhouse rebranded the flagship store, updated displays, and highlighted the attributes of Mark's apparel and footwear. The campaign focused on the strengths of Mark's "innovation" products and culture. This included technology towers located throughout the store that guide traffic, encourage customer understanding, and promote customer engagement in Mark's innovation concepts. The store provides an opportunity for Mark's to focus on unifying the brand proposition and the store environment. Customer survey responses were positive, with many responses linking the store concept closely to Mark's "Clothes That Work" image.

Hudson's Bay Company: The Room

Capitalizing on the fact that the modern customer isn't afraid to mix-and-match designer brands, Hudson's Bay Company made 'The Room' more relevant and responsive to the needs of today's fashion forward clientele. Equally suited to the international female shopper as to the fashionable Canadian consumer, 'The Room' transforms the store into a gracious residential home with multiple rooms and increased natural light. 'The Room' provides customers with a more personal environment as opposed to a typical department store. Sales have gone beyond plan, due in part to the fresh new design where customers can actually see the product in a new environment, and also because of the inviting space of 'The Room'.

    Retail technology innovation

Canada Post Corporation: Retail Point of Service (RPS) Project

Over the past few years, Canada Post has embarked on an ambitious program to modernize equipment, plants, and processes to become more competitive and deliver new and enduring value to customers. One of the most ambitious and daunting initiatives of this transformation was the automation of Canada Post's retail network. The resulting $85 million 'Retail Point of Service' (RPS) project represents one of the largest investments and deployments of retail network technology in Canadian history. 'RPS' involved the automation of point-of-sale systems at 3,000 existing dealer and corporate post offices, and 3,000 rural post offices that previously ran cash registers and paper forms. A total of 6,000 sites and close to 20,000 employees and dealers were touched by 'RPS'.

    Retail corporate social responsibility - Community

Sears Canada Inc.: 2009 Sears National Kids Cancer Ride

To raise awareness of childhood cancer, Sears Canada became the title sponsor of the 'Sears National Kids Cancer Ride', a 12-day, 7,000 kilometre trek across Canada. Sears associates, customers, and many Canadians rallied around this important cause by participating in local rides and volunteering to help with the cause at community events. Community events resulted in an increase in store traffic on the day the ride went through town. The 'Sears National Kids Cancer Ride' campaign exceeded planned expectations and delivered tangible improved awareness and fundraising results.

    Retail corporate social responsibility - Global

Olsen Europe Canada Ltd.: The Double Happiness Campaign

Olsen Europe developed the 'Double Happiness Campaign' to help women around the world provide a better life for their families. 'Double Happiness' combines Olsen Europe's business knowledge with the textile skills of women in underprivileged areas. The campaign creates a sustainable economy and future for these societies. The 'Double Happiness' project for 2010 takes place in Rajasthan, India in the state of Rajasthan. Women from rural areas will be able to stay at home and embroider and bead and receive enough money to provide for their families.

    Retail corporate social responsibility - Environment

Walmart Canada Corp.: Environmental Demonstration Store

On January 16, 2009, Walmart Canada opened its first environmental demonstration store in Burlington, Ontario. This unique store is the testing ground for building greener Walmart stores for the future. The store features a first-of-its-kind geo-thermal technology in a large-scale Canadian retail operation and energy conserving lighting innovations, among many other sustainable features. In total, the store is estimated to consume 60 per cent less energy compared to a conventional Walmart store of comparable size built in 2005.

About Retail Council of Canada

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has been the Voice of Retail in Canada since 1963. We speak for an industry that touches the daily lives of Canadians in every corner of the country - by providing jobs, career opportunities, and by investing in the communities we serve. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing more than 40,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada, including department, specialty, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants. RCC is a strong advocate for retailing in Canada and works with all levels of government and other stakeholders to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail, to promote and sustain retail investments in communities from coast-to-coast, and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness. RCC also provides its members with a full range of services and programs including education and training, benchmarking and best practices, networking, advocacy, and industry information.

SOURCE Retail Council of Canada

For further information: For further information: Mark Beazley, Director, Communications, or (416) 922-0553 ext. 228

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