INTERVIEW-Rona's new leader sees bold change for a turnaround
TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Rona Inc plans to sell certain non-core assets and make some "drastic moves" to address weak sales at its big-box stores, Robert Chevrier, the new executive chairman of the Canadian hardware retailer and distributor, said on Monday.
"We are reassessing our portfolio of assets. We think there are some that may not be essential to our future that are non-core," Chevrier told Reuters in an interview.
Investors have grown increasingly vocal about the need for change at Rona, after the Boucherville, Quebec-based company reported yet another set of weak quarterly results in November, just weeks after it rebuffed an unsolicited C$1.8 billion ($1.81 billion) takeover proposal from Lowe's Cos.
Rona on Monday capitulated to investor pressure and named Chevrier as its new executive chairman, as part of a much larger board reshuffle, following an agreement with its two largest shareholders Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and Invesco Canada Ltd.
The company, which owns roughly 80 big-box stores, is now reassessing its position in this segment, said Chevrier.
"It is a highly competitive field in Canada, and I do not think too many people are making good money in this business. We are reassessing our position and identifying where the bleeding is taking place," he said.
"We will be refining our evaluation of the situation very quickly - I would say within a month, we will know where we stand," he added. "We're talking about some drastic moves here to address that problem."
Chevrier said that besides Lowe's other parties have shown interest in some of Rona's assets.
"There is more than one interested party in the pieces that we may let go," he said.
The company, which also owns more than 700 smaller satellite or proximity stores, will aim to improve efficiencies in this segment, said Chevrier, who is the former chairman and director of distributor Richelieu Hardware.
"I would like to think of 2013 as a rationalization period, where we look at all the things we are doing and decide what we keep and what we let go. ... The mission and mandate is to turn this company around and make it a highly profitable organization, and I will," said Chevrier.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Leslie Adler)