Battle of the box stores spreads to Winnipeg

Home improvement giants like Lowe's and Home Depot are going head to head for sales dominance in Canada

Western Investor
April 4, 2018

Lowe’s has opened 95,000-square-foot store as its first foray into Winnipeg. | Lowe’s Canada/Rona


The competition in Winnipeg’s home improvement market is heating up.

Lowe’s Canada recently opened its first store in town, a 95,000-square-foot location on the southeast corner of Kenaston and McGillivray boulevards, one of the city’s retail hotbeds.

What’s just a stone’s throw away? Home Depot and Rona, of course. (Lowe’s has owned Rona since 2016.)

With stores already in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina, Malcolm Parks, divisional vice-president of operations, said Lowe’s wanted to expand its Western Canadian footprint and was looking for the right place to build in the Manitoba capital.

“We seized the opportunity and we’re glad we did. It’s a market we hadn’t penetrated and it’s a strong home improvement market,” he said.

Parks said Lowe’s had healthy online sales out of Winnipeg, like Ikea for many year, so he knew there would be a good reaction to the store opening.

Lowe’s made an investment of more than $19 million in Winnipeg and has created 130 permanent jobs, which will increase by 30 or 40 during the busy seasons in the spring and summer.

While the first location still has the “new store smell,” Parks said it’s too early to speculate on when – or if – Lowe’s will add a second outlet in Winnipeg.

“We just got the first one open. We’re always evaluating our real estate portfolio. We could always look at expansion,” he said.

The same goes for Brandon – a city of more than 50,000 people located two hours to the west.

“We look at all facets, such as the demographics and the trading area, before we ask, ‘does it make sense to put a store in that market?’”

Geoff has been a contributor to Western Investor for 15 years. He is also a senior business reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering real estate and financial services. Geoff plays competitive tennis at a national level in the senior ranks and is an amateur boxer and hockey player. His favourite Star Wars character is Yoda.
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