Rapid True Value, supplier of hardware and home- improvement products division of Hardware and Lumber Limited, unveiled its newly refreshed home-and-garden store at its flagship Lane Plaza store location on Thursday.
Eventually, Hardware and Lumber hopes to remodel all Jamaican stores in collaboration with its American partner.
"The new look you are seeing is a vastly improved merchandising, new product range, much improved lighting, which is really helping everyone have to have a better shopping experience," said Simon Roberts, chief executive officer of Hardware and Lumber.
"We have trained our people in customer service and product knowledge and we intend to do even further training."
A period of losses
Rapid True Value makes up one of the three divisions of Hardware and Lumber, the operating chain and subsidiary of conglomerate GraceKennedy. The retail company, after a period of losses, saw some green shoots in the second quarter when it reported a net profit of J$3.4 million.
Hardware and Lumber itself is also in the process of outsourcing its warehousing and distribution services, a move which the company said would bring much-needed efficiency and better results for the company's bottom line.
"The tenders are being evaluated now," said Don Wehby, GraceKennedy group chief operating officer. "We have received four expressions of interest, all from local companies, and we expect a management company to be in place before the end of the financial year. We hope to see significant savings from adopting a similar approach to the outsourcing of this activity as with the management of our distribution centre."
In January, GraceKennedy outsourced the management of its J$2-billion distribution centre to American transport and logistics company Landstar of Jacksonville, Florida.
Since then, the company has been in charge of GraceKennedy's entire warehousing operation including receiving, storing, and delivering goods for the GK Foods division.
Landstar has a network of more than 1,000 independent sales agents, 8,000 business-capacity owners, and 25,000 contract carriers and warehouse-capacity owners, which draws on a variety of equipment and utilises innovative technology to deliver reliable and cost-effective supply-chain solutions across the globe.
Wehby was, however, reluctant to give further details on the contractual arrangement with Landstar.
The Lane store now sports a new colour blend of brown and blue, and a different layout and floor plan designed with the assistance of True Value International Group.
But GraceKennedy company executives - the ultimate parent and controlling partner for Rapid True Value - refused to reveal the level of investment being made, only that the payback period is expected to be about 18 months.
"I can't reveal what we have spent so far. That is proprietary information, but what I can tell you is that we expect to be able to pay for the investment within a year, or a year and a half, with the incremental business that we will earn through the new-look stores," said Roberts.
Neither did he disclose projections on how much more business the company expects to pull in with the makeover of the stores, Montego Bay to be the next in line.
"An actual reset of a store like this is likely to occur first in Montego Bay early next year. We then look to do Mandeville and Portmore, but before we paint and fix up, we need to make sure that the products are on the shelf," said Roberts.
"We have a lot of products in the pipeline, but we are certainly not going to disclose them to the competitor," he said.
Consumers can expect at least two new products on the store shelves immediately: a premium paint called Painter's Select, and a new laminated flooring system, Allure.
"With an intuitive floor plan and significantly expanded brand offerings, Rapid True Value has evolved, and in the process, transformed the local shopping experience," remarked Roberts.
Rapid True Value operates 12 retail stores nationwide - representing more than 6,000 square feet of retail shopping space - which carry more than 50,000 products.