Rona taking over Totem location


Company-wide rebranding means no more Totem outlets

St. Albert’s Totem Building Supplies store will soon be a thing of the past, with Rona set to move in by the new year.

Totem outlets across the province are being given a new look and mandate by the home improvement giant as part of a company-wide rebranding scheme.

“We’re looking at getting closer to our customers,” said Dave Carr, Rona’s vice president of retail for western Canada. “The customer is no longer responding to the big-box stores like they did when they were first introduced in the home-improvement industry in the ’90s.”

Carr spoke on behalf of St. Albert’s Totem manager Chris Caldwell.

The Totem chain, consisting of 17 Alberta locations, was bought out by Rona for $100 million back in 2004, but continued to operate with the same look and logo.

“The consumer was still responding to the existing models we have inside Rona,” Carr said. “We’re at a point right now where we think we have to evolve to make sure we’re in line with what the customers are expecting from us.”

He said customers respond positively to the Totem banner and said Rona wants to capitalize on that with the introduction of a new business model.

The proximity model set to replace Totem locations combines the “best of Totem and the best of Rona” to create a positive shopping experience, Carr said.

The stores will undergo minor cosmetic changes as well as the obvious name change, set to become official on Jan. 1, 2013.

“We’re going to introduce some new products and remove products that may not have been working for us anyways,” he said.

The format, faces and iconic popcorn machines, however, will remain.

“You’re still going to be served by the same people,” Carr said. “We’ve identified that as one of the strengths of the Totem model and that’s what we want to preserve and we want to export that right across Canada.”

The St. Albert location is hosting a sale this weekend to make way for new items and prepare for the rebranding process.

Changes are expected for St. Albert’s existing Rona location, although no one from the store was prepared to comment.

Carr said discussions are taking place with owners of the existing location, but said it was premature to comment on the future of the business.

All Totem locations are expected to be converted into Rona outlets by the end of the first quarter of 2013.


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