Stephen Wetmore

Canadian Tire open to U.S. acquisitions for growth

Revenue and net income increase in Q2

Canadian Tire Corp. says it’s open to looking south of the border for acquisitions, under certain conditions.

Our efforts are paying off by shifting our focus to thinking more like a group of speciality retailers and less like general merchants

Stephen Wetmore, Canadian Tire

“It doesn’t make sense for us to wander away and do things that we’re not very good at,” chief executive Stephen Wetmore told analysts during a call Thursday.

“We’re choosy. We’ll prepare for it, and if we’re going to execute on anything, it will be extremely well-executed with a high success factor. I’ll look anywhere (for acquisitions) but it’s a matter of us fitting in.”

Any acquisition would most likely be in the retailer’s key categories, such as sports and automotive, he added.

The Toronto-based company is in the midst of a three-year strategic plan aimed at rebranding itself as more than just a general merchandiser known for its array of products in the household, outdoor and auto sectors.

Wetmore said efforts so far have been successful, as evidence from its latest quarter where sales rose despite a late start to the spring season. Spring is a key time for retailers who look for increased spending by consumers preparing for summer activities, vacations and home renovations.

“Our efforts are paying off by shifting our focus to thinking more like a group of speciality retailers and less like general merchants,” said Wetmore.

Canadian Tire reported Thursday that its profits grew to $178.9 million for the three month-period ended June 29. This compared with $154.9 million in the comparable quarter a year earlier.

On a per share basis, the results were equivalent to $2.12 compared to $1.91 in the same period last year.

Revenue increased to $3.17 billion from $3.02 billion helped by sales at FGL Sports, the subsidiary that operates the Sport Chek and recently-acquired Pro Hockey Life stores.

For the quarter, same-store sales at Sport Chek increased 10.8%, while the same key measurement of retail performance at Mark’s stores was up 3.2%. Canadian Tire saw same-store sales growth of 2.8%.

Michael Medline

Michael Medline

Meanwhile, the company, which also owns clothing retailer Mark’s, announced that Canadian Tire president Michael Medline will take over as CEO when Wetmore leaves on Dec. 1. Wetmore will remain on Canadian Tire’s board in a non-executive role of deputy chairman, a position that will be created for him.

The move was largely anticipated by investors.

Medline told analysts he will continue have Canadian Tire remain “on the offence” amid stiff competition from U.S. retail rivals such as Walmart and Target and make full use of digital technology to set itself apart.

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