Rona opens new C$18M, 50,000-sq.-ft. store in Beloeil, Quebec; region's flourishing construction market bodes well for the store's prospects, says company executive

February 29, 2012 (press release) – RONA inc. (TSX: RON, RON.PR.A), Canada's largest distributor and retailer of hardware, renovation and gardening products, held the official ceremony today to mark the grand opening of its new store at 500 Serge-Pépin Street in Beloeil. Representing an $18 million investment and comprising 50,000 square feet of retail space, the new location serves as a satellite branch of the RONA L’entrepôt store in Saint-Bruno owned by the same franchise dealer-owners, the Gagnon and Mercier families, as well as Francis Létourneau, Jean-Pierre Lauzon and Renaud Morissette.

"From our earliest discussions, it was important for us to offer an extraordinary customer experience to everyone, from renovation experts to professional decorators to do-it-yourselfers, and to offer them everything they could need, no matter the project," said André H. Gagnon, co-owner of the store and a member of the RONA network for the past 50 years. "Our stores in Saint-Bruno and Beloeil will complement each other by offering the widest choice of products and services in the region, including the advice of specialists in the store at all times," he added.

A newly constructed building will allow the Beloeil store to offer its customers a selection of more than 31,000 different products. In addition, it will have 17,000 square feet of covered warehouse space, an outdoor lumber yard measuring 110,000 square feet, and a 12,000-square-foot outdoor garden centre that will delight suburbanites. The store has separate departments for paint, hardware, electrical, tools and seasonal products as well as specialized departments for building materials, plumbing and flooring, to name but a few. Finally, the location will offer delivery and provide specialized services such as installation, project design and construction, and a counter dedicated to commercial sales and contractors.

"Our data clearly shows that the economic prospects for the Beloeil region are promising: new construction has increased by almost 11% in the last five years, and analysts are predicting that this figure will climb to 20% by 2016," said Mario St-Louis, Vice-President, Retail, for Quebec. "Statistics confirm the strong residential development in this region and RONA is very well positioned to become the destination of choice to serve this market," he added.

For his part, President and CEO Robert Dutton wanted to highlight the efforts of the Beloeil store's co-owners over the past few years: "We're proud to count among our ranks people with a very strong entrepreneurial spirit who are willing to invest their time and energy into their projects. This amply describes the team at Groupe Gagnon. It's people like them who have made the RONA network the force it is today," he said.

Owners concerned about the environment
To protect air quality and reduce energy consumption, the co-owners of the new RONA store in Beloeil commissioned a building built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Taking advantage of nearby access to the city of Beloeil's bicycle path network, the dealer-owners installed bicycle racks, changing rooms and showers for employees, encouraging them to cycle or walk to work. Worth noting as well is that the store's parking lot will be equipped with a public charging station powered by Hydro-Québec (http://www.theelectriccircuit.com/).

Formal ceremony
To celebrate the grand opening, the Beloeil store held a formal ceremony this morning attended by dealer-owners, employees, RONA's senior managers, and the mayor of Beloeil, Diane Lavoie. She praised the efforts of everyone involved with the opening of the new store, thereby stimulating the local economy with the creation of more than 75 new jobs. Étienne Boulay, a well known player with the Montreal Alouettes, was also on hand and took part in an autograph and photo session that was greatly appreciated by those in attendance.


About RONA
RONA is the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products. The Corporation operates a network of close to 800 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats under several banners, and a network of 17 hardware and construction materials distribution centres which are flexible and perfectly adapted to the diverse needs of its clientele. RONA is also a leader in the specialized plumbing and HVAC market, primarily serving commercial and professional customers with a network of close to 60 sales outlets across the country.

In total, RONA supplies nearly 1,500 sales outlets, of which close to 840 are under one of its banners, as well as more than 600 clients, independent dealers, in its distribution network. With more than 30,000 employees working under its family of banners in every region of Canada, the RONA store network generates consolidated sales of $4.8 billion and over $6 billion taking into account the total impact of the retail sales of franchise dealers, affiliates and other independent dealers who buy their supplies at RONA. For more information, please visit rona.ca.

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