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TruServ (Bill Morrison) Breakfast Meeting

At a recent CHHMA Breakfast, Bill Morrison, President & CEO, TruServ Canada, stated that today's independent retailers have to "get going, get out of the way, or get run over". The need to differentiate and efficient execution were cited by Mr. Morrison as being strategic pillars for TruServ. As he noted in referring to today's retailing environment, "there's no status quo".

Mr. Morrison provided some interesting thoughts around consumer priorities. In his view, today's consumer is looking for information, convenience, predictability, and the lowest price. In the latter regard, he suggested that the customer is prepared to wait for the best deal and referred to a saying that nicely summed things up - "Loyalty is the absence of a better offer". Accordingly, Mr. Morrison suggested that certain elements associated with successful independent retailers for many years such as superior customer service and premium brands are no longer relevant. As he put it, "Everything's a commodity ... It's a Wal-Mart world".

So how should today's independent retailer be thinking? Mr. Morrison believes that retail strategies have to be clear, simple and deliverable. They must recognize the influence exerted by kids on parental behaviour. To that end, he underscored the importance of making stores fresh, exciting and "kid friendly" - "Thinking Inside The Box".

Mr. Morrison offered some insights on initiatives taking place in his organization. In particular, he reported that the first "Country Depot" will be opening south of Calgary within the month. Featuring a product mix including the likes of pet food and accessories and a large variety of organic products, and services such as "Country Rentals" and "Just Ask" stations, these "We Know How To Do That" stores will be strategically situated. He envisions the opening of 8 to 10 stores in year one and 20 to 25 in successive years. He also shared with the audience some of his organization's future strategies for the core TruServ hardware stores.

In wrapping up the proceedings, CHHMA President Vaughn Crofford announced that in appreciation of Mr. Morrison's contribution to the success of this sold out event, CHHMA would be making a donation on his behalf to Mr. Morrison's charity of choice - Habitat For Humanity.
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