Retail’s Technology Transformation

French’s Ketchup The Power of Social Media

Pharmapacks Who Says Retail Entrepreneurs are Always at the Mercy of the Big Box Store? Not this Ecommerce Guru



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T here is no denying the power of social media and the impact that it can have on your brand, as seen in Barry Cox’s article on French’s Ketchup. It is amazing how one simple post can create enough consumer brand support and demand to get a brand back on the shelves of Canadian grocery stores and most likely save an Ontario community in the process. Social medial and digital engagement of customers is no longer an option for business it is a requirement. So if you think that; it is a waste of time, you have nothing to talk about or you think that your customers are not on the internet and social media, you are very wrong. They are there, they are just not looking at you and that can be devastating to your business and brand.

Editor Lee Atwater

Research Team Barry Cox Latasha Hetland Ryan Jacobs Alia Morash David MacDonald

Operations and Production Director Manager Samantha Ford

Office Administrator Kyte Carter

Social mediums are vital to your business and the more channels that you can get your message out to current and potential customers the stronger your brand will be which will have a positive impact on sales and profits.

Webmaster Aaron Allen

If you are not using Social Media to promote your business and brand message now, you need to start, and start fast. You don’t need to know anything about marketing campaigns or PR to do it. Just create an account and commit to posting content. That’s all! Nothing is going to happen without starting and you will open your business up to billions of consumers that are using social media worldwide – proof itself that it’s not that complicated. Remember there is no such thing as posting too much content and you can never use too many channels to send your message. There are some “experts” out there who discourage frequent posts; we say that if people aren’t complaining about how much you post you are not posting enough. When posting, provide information based on what you know and the service your business or products offers. Use tips and insights such as; how to, how not to, what to avoid, how to find the best, what makes it the best, how to fix it, repair it and post what you must know, as this will create interest and promote your knowledge of the sector that you serve. Remember to follow others, as this is the quickest and easiest way to get more followers yourself. Some even follow a competitor or expert in the industry and giving them credit for what they do as you will pick up their fol- lowers as they follow you. No matter how important your position is or how busy your schedule, you must take ownership of your social media presence as it is just as, if not more, important than any other aspect of your business. Yes PR firms and marketing departments are supported by young social media-savvy people, but none of them knows more about your business than you do. They can help create and push promotional content, but your voice is your own. You have to be authentic and many brands miss this. No matter who you are, how old you are or what you do, social medial and omnichannel media can be great for your brand and business, but first, you must get started and get a following and that is where Spotlight on Business can help you. Our entire team of researchers, writers, designers, marketing and production staff all look forward to working with and for you promoting your brand and delivering your message so you can be heard and followed. Use every form of media and content possible: videos, photos, quotes, articles and blogs and the content of others.

Creative & Graphic Design AIDACA Design Team

Contributing Writers Katie Davis Barry Cox Charlene Boyce David MacDonald Andrew Berzins

Sales & Marketing Team Wayne Jacobs Sarah Lajoie

Publisher AIDACA Media


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THERE’S NO ‘I’ IN ‘TEAM The RTA Store Inc. To fit The RTA Store, Inc. into the niche of this month’s magazine – Putting the Spotlight on the


Fastest Growing North American Retailers – may not do “America’s largest online Kitchen &

Bathroom dealer” justice... 38






THE TOTAL RETAIL & PAYMENT EXPO Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Center - Melbourne, Victoria, AUS FINALLY… we’ve managed to bring all three events together to form Australia’s BIGGEST combined expo for retail, ecommerce, payments and engagement. Expo visitors benefit from attending Australia’s BIGGEST event (truly omni-channel….saving time and money, meeting more people, and evaluating more exhibitors, all under one roof!) Exhibitors get the benefit of meeting MORE people... through every part of the decision-making chain. Everyone together for two full days of learning, thought leadership, networking, product demonstration, vendor comparison and relationship building May 11th-12th 2016

May 2nd-4th 2016

- Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland This is an intimate environment for senior online retail marketing executives to converge, debate and discuss the major strategic issue they face in online retail. For more information visit neretail/2016

RETAIL INNOVATION CONFERENCE Apella – New York, New York, USA Are you set to stay ahead of the game or are you at risk for being left behind? It’s the innovative

May 9th-11th 2016

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RETAIL SYMPOSIUM The Brewery - London, England, UK Designed for retailers, the BRC Retail Symposium touches exactly on those topics that retailers have at the top of their minds when thinking about how to stay competitive and successful in the future. The conference delivers highly relevant content and discussions from a diverse mix of the industry’s CEOs, who will be sharing their strategies and expertise; providing you with real insights from your peers and competitors. May 11th 2016 thinkers who are driving business success today and into the future. Join the brightest minds in retail at this must-attend event to learn how to think differently and exceed your business goals. You’ll have the opportunity to taste the secret sauce and discover which ingredients will create the winning recipe for your organization moving forward. For more information visit http://www.retailinnovationcon-

SHOP TALK- THE TECH EVENT FOR NEXTGEN COMMERCE Aria Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada, US With 2,750 plus attendees, 300 plus speakers and

May 15th-18th 2016

over 350 CEOs, ShopTalk is an unprecedented gathering of individuals and companies reshaping how consumers discover, shop and buy any product, service or experience. ShopTalk provides a platform for large retailers and brands, startups, tech companies and investors to come together in an open and friendly environment.

For more information visit

CUSTOMER INSIGHT 2016 Etc Venues - London, England, UK

May 19th 2016

Customer Insight 2016 will enable retailers to hear from those who are leading the field, get to grips

with the latest technology and learn more about the future of consumer behaviour. The event will also explore how insight can be used to not only support your marketing strategy, but also to inspire and innovate to make insight an integral component for your business.

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RECON- THE GLOBAL RETAIL REAL ESTATE CONVENTION Las Vegas Convention Center & Westgate Las Vegas Hotel - Las Vagas, Nevada, US

May 22nd-25th 2016

This global convention for the shopping center industry provides networking, deal-making, and educational opportunities to retail real estate professionals from around the world. With more than 34,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors, RECon has become the place to be if you want to meet retailers and discuss new or existing leases, discover the latest industry products and services critical to your business, attend educational sessions or find the next deal.

For more information visit

RETAIL ADVOCATES SUMMIT 2016 Omni Shoreland Hotel - Washington, District of Columbia, US The Retail Advocates Summit rallies retailers of all sizes, national and local brands, to Washington to advocate for issues that are critical to a thriving retail industry. One of the best ways to reach decision makers is speaking directly with them in person. The Retail Advocates Summit is a platform to do just that. We schedule meetings with your elected officials for you. We educate you on the full spectrum of issues that are most pressing to retailers today. You get to male great connections and make a difference in the future of our industry. May 24th-25th 2016

For more information visit

RETAIL TECH CON Ritz Carlton - Orlando, Flordia, US

May 30th - June 1st 2016

Organized by RIS and focused on the technology and IT side of retail organizations, this event showcases a marketplace of ideas and solutions that help reinvent the shopping experience. Each session and networking opportunity at Retail Tech Con offers attendees great content, best practices and meetings with potential partners. If you are responsible for a technology-enabled function in retail, you should check out the program.

For more information visit

STORE 2016- RETAIL COUNCIL OF CANADA Toronto Congress Centre- North Building - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

May 31st - June 1st 2016

STORE is Retail Council of Canada’s two-day conference held annually in Toronto. With an agenda and networking opportunities targeted to the unique needs of the dynamic retail industry in Canada, STORE is THE must-attend

event of the season.

Our STORE 2016 agenda will include main stage keynotes and interactive panels to drive big ideas AND concurrent sessions to strengthen your business.

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Please contact to get your event spotlighted in our upcoming issue.





First came the camera. Then came the underwater camera. And now, thanks to Benjamin Valtin and Kevin Delfour, co-founders of Notilo+, there’s is now the diving drone camera. As tech continues to reach new heights or in this case depths, we’re now exploring new areas of the seas thanks to the iBubble, the gadget that wants to be your autonomous underwater camera. Meant for the diving enthusiast who’d rather see the underwater world through his or her goggles without being burdened by an extra lens, the iBubble team notes that filming beneath the surface of the world’s oceans can be a cumbersome process that “limits your freedom underwater.” But with iBubble, you won’t have to sacrifice your autonomy for a great shot — instead, this “intelligent, user-friendly, and completely autonomous diving drone” allows you to take your GoPro where it’s never gone before, and control it all from your wrist with a compatible bracelet. Boasting a host of practical, helpful features, the iBubble’s hydrodynam- ic design means that it’ll travel well underwater, withstanding currents of up to 3 knots. With a maximum depth of 60 meters, you’ll actually be able to take your GoPro pretty far. Whenever you want to set it free and take shots of its own, the iBubble can stray up to 25 meters away from you. And with enhanced image filtering, an integrated obstacle-avoidance system based on sonar technology, and a moving-subject tracking switch, the iBubble seems ideal to capture a wide variety of underwa- ter shots and subjects. When it’s out of juice, just recharge and replace its battery pack. But what happens if the iBubble loses power or signal during a dive? Never fear — it’s not lost to the watery depths. Rather, it’ll just resurface, allowing you to retrieve your diving camera at will The iBubblewill even do some exploring on your behalf, thanks to its remote control option that lets you scout certain areas before taking a dive yourself. Just send it on its merry way and watch all the action from above.

What started as an idea for a project, became a mission to become independent from any external electric energy, saving money and polluting less. That is the story for the Cochin International Airport in Southern India becoming the world’s first totally solar-powered airport. The transformation first started about three years ago with solar panels appearing initially just on the roof of Cochin International Airport terminal, then solar panels were affixed on and around the aircraft hangars. The mission was then set in motion to become independent from any external electric energy, rather than never having to pay another electricity bill again. It was not until the help of Bosch Thermotechnik of Germany that Cochin International Airport was able to build a 45-acre solar plant, which is the equivalent to 25 football fields just next to terminal. The project was very expensive, but the airport team was very confident that cost would soon be recovered because the airport would no longer have to pay expensive electricity bills. The mission became more than about reducing power bills and going off the grid, it became about the environment as Cochin International Airport’s solar plant will also avoid more than 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions from coal power plants over the next 25 years. CO2 emission and air pollution are very serious issues in India, endangering the health of millions of people, animals, and plants. What began as an idea at Cochin International Airport, moved to a mission and now has evolved into a movement with government authorities directing other facilities in India, particularly airports, to implement at least some solar panels in their facilities.


SpaceX takes a major leap forward in space exploration and transportation makes a perfect landing on a droneship. This was the first successfully landing of the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a sea-going platform as four failed previous attempts.

The successful landing is critical to SpaceX’s success and it’s founder Elon Musk’s mission to disrupt the space access business. Cutting launch cost is key to the company’s success, so successfully landing the first stage is a major success for SpaceX’s reusable rocket program, cutting the costs of a launch from $60 million per launch to $40 million by reusing the first stage of the company’s rockets.

Musk’s rocket company has been testing the reusable rocket during missions since 2014, but this is the first time it has actually landed the rocket on the droneship, past four fails resulted in impressive explosions, but I am sure that Musk prefers to leave the fireworks for the fourth of July.

SpaceX previously landed a rocket on the ground at Cape Canaveral following a mission to the The International Space Station in December 2015, which was a major accomplishment in it own right, however, using the sea-going platform is key to the project’s future success as it will be necessary to make the reusable rockets viable for high-altitude cargo, which will require a mobile landing platform rather than the rocket returning to the launch site.





The global demand for green energy alternatives have led to a Michigan State University research group to develop a fully transparent solar panel that could change the way we design and build our cities and towns in the future. These fully transparent solar panels designed perfectly of clean solar cells, essentially equal to a regular glass window once tested and approved could replace ordinary windows, or even cover entire buildings in future construction. Without a doubt they are not the only research team that tried the same study. Before coming up with this result they had to face many problems. As a matter of fact, transparent photovoltaic cells are fun- damentally inconceivable, considering that solar panels can develop energy power through a transformation of absorbed protons into elec- trons. In order to have a completely transparent appliance, light would have to flow unrestrained to the eye, meaning that those protons would have to go wholly through the substance. Therefore what the Michigan State team developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), a device that utilize organic salts to take in wavelengths of light that are imperceptible to the human eye. The previous versions of these solar panels had a maximum efficiency of around 7% and was filling the interiors in a colored light. This first version of TLSC only has an efficiency of approximately 1%, but they concluded that once the production begins, it could reach 10%. These percentages may seem low figures, but on a bigger scale the power intake quickly grows. Richard Lunt, who was leading the research team, declares in an inter- view by Michigan State’s Today blog that “it can be used on tall build- ings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there”. Researchers are very optimistic and they believe that this new technology can and will be applied to both industrial and commercial appliances and buildings, but there are applications for smaller devices at a reasonable price to make the technology economically viable in many markets.


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osteoarthritis. With an aging and increasingly obese population, mobility issues involving the knee will only increase. Such statistics might inspire some entrepre- neurs to head straight to the drawing board, but Spring Loaded’s founders knew better. Dalhousie University’s Starting Lean program draws on the methodology espoused by author Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. Here, the first question to answer is not whether a product can be built, but instead, whether it should be built. Is there sufficient market interest to support a sus- tainable business? “We spent four months in the Starting Lean program, talking to potential custom- ers,” Cowper Smith says. “When you are a hardware start up, and you don’t have a product that works yet and can’t proto- type at a low cost, you have to spend a lot of time talking to customers and validating the market to find out if there would be a demand for what you want to build.” A STRATEGY THAT’S PAYING DIVIDENDS “The first pitch we made outside of the class


When the founders of Halifax’s Spring Loaded Technology first met, they had something impor- tant in common—problem knees.

At the time, Chris Cowper Smith was doing his PhD work on motor control and movement in the human body. His co founder, Bob Garrish, had a background in mechanical engineering.

“When you are a hardware start up, and you don’t have a product that works yet and can’t prototype at a low cost, you have to spend a lot of time talking to customers and validating the market to find out if there would be a demand for what you want to build.” “We intuitively understood how big of a problem the human knee poses and we wanted to explore that further,” says Cowper Smith, the company’s President and CEO. Cowper Smith met Garrish in Dalhousie University’s Starting Lean program. FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION It was an engineering challenge that had stymied others for decades. Existing products on the market only provided joint stability and were typically bulky and expensive. The two entrepreneurs wanted to develop a more affordable device that could also restore mobility and enhance athletic performance, with a compact design that could fit under clothing. Three years later, after 15 design iterations, Spring Loaded Technology is poised to bring to market the world’s first bionic knee brace technology. The company takes its name from the unique spring mechanism in the brace, which was inspired by an aircraft’s landing gear The next step is mass commercialization. To maintain quality control and protect the company’s trade secrets, Spring Loaded Technology is keeping manufacturing and assembly in house. However, this requires a new investment in manufacturing equipment and processes. PREPARING FOR MANUFACTURING Spring Loaded’s launch plan received a boost in June, when Cowper Smith, 31, claimed the $100,000 Grand Prize in BDC’s Young Entrepreneur Award contest. Spring Loaded will use its prize to invest in new systems for rapid fibre and composites manu- facturing. In this way, the company can increase production output by a factor of six and drive economies of scale that will reduce production costs per unit. These savings will be passed on to customers. R&D DRIVEN BY MARKET NEED Up to 60% of sports related injuries involve the knee and 45% of us can expect to develop knee The two men decided to build a better knee brace—a “bionic” knee brace.



got us an offer of investment,” says Cowper Smith. “That was remarkable. We took that investor on board and consider him an honorary founder.” “The first pitch we made outside of the class got us an offer of investment`` From there, Spring Loaded secured other financing and seed funding from high net worth individuals. The team kept a tight focus on product development, driven by the feedback of pilot testers and health care professionals. MAINTAIN A TIGHT CONTROL OVER SPENDING About $2 million was spent over three years to develop the bionic knee brace. Cowper Smith says he’s seen more established companies spend 10 times that on comparable products. “We kept our cash burn quite responsible with very limited resources, which was attrac- tive to investors.” But that focus on market fit has created some challenges. It seems that just about everyone wants a bionic knee brace. FOCUS ON A NICHE Spring Loaded has decided to go after the

skiing market, where its brace can be used to enhance performance for healthy individuals who may have minor knee complaints. Success there will be parlayed into other markets for active people, as a precursor to moving into the health care market. Cowper Smith and his team have learned the best way to overcome barriers and unearth new opportunities is to just get out there and talk to people. If he has any advice for other young entrepreneurs, it starts with that.


1. Brainstorm and research Understand the competitive landscape for the product you want to bring to market.

2. Aim high Determine how your product can surpass competing options by a decisive margin. Incremental improvements over existing technologies are not enough. 3. Assess the market opportunity Talk to potential customers. The first question shouldn’t be “can we build this?” but “should we?”

4. Build and test a prototype Engage pilot testers. Build on their feedback and user experiences. Repeat.

5. Outsourcing or in-house manufacturing? Consider the pros and cons of in house manufacturing and assembly versus outsourcing to third parties. If you have concerns about quality control and trade secrets crucial to you company’s competitive edge, outsourcing may not be your best option.

“We kept our cash burn quite responsible with very limited resources, which was attractive to investors.”




SIMONS A PART OF CANADIAN RETAIL HISTORY SINCE 1840 By Barry Cox When I was first given this story, I thought that I was doing a story about a bed manufacturer, boy was I wrong. So I started my research in Simons Stores. So the story begins in 1812 when Peter Simons arrived from Scotland and settled on a small farm near Quebec City to raise his family of five. In 1840 Peter’s son, John, moved into the city to open a small shop, where he sold dry goods and various imported wares. To make sure John’s business received the latest in goods from Europe, John personally made over 70 Atlantic crossings by sailing ship. John understood early that attention to detail, quality merchandising and attentive service for his customers would set the stage for the future success of La Maison Simons. John’s passion is still very much alive as more than 176 years after his first store opened in Quebec City. Simons faces fresh competition from U.S. luxury retailer, Saks Fifth Avenue as a new entrant into the Canadian market and Seattle-based retailer, Nordstrom continues its expansion push with its first location in Ontario with the new Missis- sauga store to gain additional Canadian market share. After the successful launch of its Vancouver location last fall, the family-owned company stated that it would open in Mississauga. Plans were put into place for a sprawling two-storey, 110,000-square-foot store which opened in March of this year at Square One Shopping Centre inMississauga. “I always see competition as being beneficial,” Simons CEO Peter Simons said in an interview. “It’s a very aggressive time in retailing where you have to be very focused on what you’re doing, what you bring that’s different. “I think we bring a completely different mid to high range experience that relates to really how customers are shopping. They’re crossing over these lines from luxury to mid-range, and I think we’re creating value with unique product.” Still, Peter admitted that the Simons still had “a lot of work to do in explaining our story,” acknowledging that despite the company’s lon- gevity and cross-Canada growth, it still remains an unknown to many in the country. “I told the buyers last week 150 years, five generations of our family worked in Quebec to build our reputation. ... We’re going to spend a bit of time working on it in Toronto and Vancouver and try to spend a bit of time explaining why we’re important and why we’re worth coming to visit.” Something tells me that Peter and his Simons stores are on the right track, knowing their customers and their market, keeping them well ahead of the luxury to mid-range retailer pack.

Food prices are up regardless of where you live these days, but it seems the cost of food is squeezing the most out of Australian household budgets than any other costs. A recent The Spend Sacrifice Report compiled by financial compari- son website found grocery bills put households under the most pressure, with 88 percent of Australian’s concerned and anxious about the impact these costs have on their household budgets. A close second was fluctuating gas prices, which accounted for 83 percent concern and third was energy bills at 78 percent for the biggest expenses causing concern for those that took part in the report.

The site’s spokeswoman Abigail Koch said, “Providing families with healthy food seemed to put the biggest pressure on budgets,’’

“The weekly pressures of buying groceries hurts their budgets the most as opposed to utility bills which are usually only paid every quarter.”

“Petrol prices have come down in recent months but this still creates a lot of cost anxiety and people are shopping around for their petrol.”

But Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows in the past five years average annual rates of household price changes have slowed and some Australian watch dog groups have even recorded negative price change.

However the category of food and non-alcoholic beverage costs has increased on average by about 2.5 per cent between 2010 and 2014.

To minimize the cost pressures more half of the people in the report are taking leftovers to work for lunch rather than going out for lunch and one in five people reported cutting out coffees and tea purchases to save money. Koch said more Australians need to be proactive in scoring better deals to cut household costs on expenses including utility bills and insur- ance costs by comparing products and switching to companies that are offering the best rates.




If you live in Canada, not many can say that they have never shopped at a Dollarama, whether to stock up on needed essentials for the house, cottage, camping or for that hockey road trip. Their stores are not fancy, but neither are the prices and the shelves are always stocked with everything from food to office supplies and everything from name brands to generic. Now if we are going to call something the best, we need to look at the numbers as you can have all the products you want on the shelves but if you are not putting money in the bank or back to shareholders you are not the best. So looking at the results from Canada’s largest chain of dollar stores, you will see some amazing results. Gross margins and EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is an indicator of a company’s financial performance) both grew and most importantly, net income surged 31.6 percent, going from $0.76 per share to $1.00 rewarded shareholders with an 11% dividend increase as well. So it should be no surprise that Dollarama continues to expand in new markets and looking at last quarter they opened 25 new stores increasing the store count to 1,030 stores across Canada. Dollarama expects to open between 60 and 70 stores over the next year, and analysts think the company can maintain that pace for years to come. Dollarama’s business model is the main reason that they can deliver these types of results as they focus on lower cost items, price changes have less of an impact on their customer percep- tion of value. If you shop at Sobeys or Loblaws and your favorite item goes from $12.99 to $13.49 you talk to all your friends about it and you can’t believe of the increase in price. However, Dol- larama can increase your favorite item from $1.00 to $1.50 and it doesn’t feel like the same 50 cent increase. That is because it is not, the Sobeys or Loblaws, 50 cent increase represents a 3.8 percent increase where Dallarama’s is 50 percent but you won’t be talking about it by the time you get to your car in the parking lot. Dollarama, like most retailers, felt the recent pain of Canada’s declining dollar with 99% of its products coming from China, but because of their price perception, Dollarama was able to pass on price increases to customers with little to no negative effects. Even better news for Dollara- ma, now that the loonie has moved in a positive direction for the retailer, prices will stay higher and increased profits should be the result. Total sales are up 14.6 percent, with same-store sales up 7.9 percent very impressive results for any retailer.


The pet store chain that operates Pets Unlimited, Petculture and Oliver & Pets Co is closing 27 of its 39 stores across Canada. “We are saddened to say that we are closing our doors after almost 50 years of serving the pet community across Canada,” said Brad Hamilton, vice president of PJ’s Pets, in a news release. The 27 stores that are closing include one in Newfoundland and Labrador, one store in Prince Edward Island, six in Nova Scotia, three in New Brunswick, eleven in Ontario, and five in British Columbia. The stores that are closing are offering dis- counted prices on pet merchandise, including pet food, accessories and supplies. A March 2016 report by Price Waterhouse Cooper says the company employs 427 people and that the pet store chain has accu- mulated losses totalling $16.5 million since 2013. The report also says the company partly blames a loss of business on a decision to stop selling puppies in 2011. However, some stores may not be disap- pearing altogether, just the Pets Unlim- ited name. As will be the case for the Pets Unlimited locations in Sydney, Nova Scotia, as they recently posted on their Facebook page that it will be reopening under new ownership in May.

Time will tell if Dollarama is Canada’s best retailer, but if their operations, expansion potential, and terrific business model are any sign they are definitely in the running.



By Katie Davis T hese days Canadians are going for Par and it’s not in the golf course it is in your neighborhoods. With Canadians cashing in the property investments because of a weak loonie and some steady improvements in property value in some of the Sun soaked States. With Canadians pulling out of the buyers marketing some Florida devel- opers are offering discounts of up to a 35 percent to attract wealthy Canadian snowbirds. The decline of the loonie has prompted some US businesses to come up with innovative ideas to lure back Canadians and their money to the US. This is not just happening in Florida as it is being seen up and down the Southeast Coast of the US. A number of businesses in Myrtle Beach, SC have recently announced that they will start taking the loonie at par to the US dollar to encourage tourism and spending to boost the economy. With Canadians pulling out of the buyers marketing some Florida developers are offering discounts of up to a 35 percent to attract wealthy Canadian snowbirds. There is no denying that the declining loonie has had a significant impacted on Florida’s real estate market as those that got in early are selling but those looking to buy are being priced out of the market. This is not isolated to the Florida as Canadians were major buyers and now sellers of real estate in California and Arizona also, but in these States Canadian snowbird spending does not play a significant part of the overall economy like what we see in Florida. However the news is not all bad as it seems that the downturn in Canadian purchases have been more than covered with increase pur- chasing from foreign buyers from Venezuela and China, so looks like Floridians will be seeing more Red-crowned cranes and Troupial than in the days to come.



By Laura Heller W almart has joined a growing list of retailers issuing looking for a few good startups to help solve some sticky technology problems and create more compelling shopping experiences. The world’s largest retailer is host an open call, inviting startups to its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters to pitch to the top executives. The program is being led by Walmart’s Lab 415-C, the company’s tech- nology division. It’s partnering with the Northwest Arkansas Technol- ogy Summit and has room for roughly 250 applications. Those will be narrowed down and 25 to 30 finalists will pitch executives during the Summit this fall. Ultimately, a handful will be selected and invited to take up residence inside Walmart for mentorship and help developing and bringing their technology to market. It’s a great opportunity for a startup and an even better one for a company like Walmart that is too big to think like a startup and better off looking outside for innovation and inspiration. It’s a trend in retail today. First companies like Walmart and Target opened offices in Silicon Valley and then they began integrating those teams into the home offices. Target has an advisory board and now an entrepreneur in residence program. A recent call for startups yielded 50 responses and ideas ranged from from connected toys to virtual fitting rooms. These startups will have the full attention of decisionmakers at Walmart.

Lab 415-C in an interview. “Everything from fresh to security to the customer experience.”

Walmart partnered with the Technology Summit last year and has several new technologies in development. It also participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 Hackathon, a 24-hour event that lets hackers take on a project and compete for the chance to test it at Walmart. That crew helped Walmart develop its Simple Text virtual shopping assistant.

Walmart says its looking for ideas across a variety of areas, but has a real interest in technology that will enhance its fresh foods departments.

“We’re on the hunt for technology to assist the customer and enhance their shopping experience,” said Tom Douglass, director, Walmart



By Katie Davis C anada’s recently elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been very busy on the international scene these days market- ing Canada with leaders abroad in the United Kingdom and United States. Now Cuba is looking to show support for Canadian- Cuba relations with an invitation to the Canada’s PM to visit the small communist island country. The last Canadian Prime Minister to visit

Cuba was Jean Chretien in 1998.

The invitation to the Canadian PM was sent only a week after United States President Barack Obama wrapped up his historic trip to Cuba, becoming the first American president to visit Cuba in nearly a century, as it was the first visit by a sitting American President since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 and and the first since a revolution led by Fidel Castro toppled a US-backed strongman in 1959. Garmendia Pena, Ambassador of Cuba, states that a Canadian PM visit has been in the works long before the announcement of United States President Barack Obama visit to Cuba. The Cuban ambassador praised the historic ties between Cuba and Canada. Canada is one of the few countries of North and South America that did not sever diplomatic ties with the communist island. Now Cuba is looking to show support for Canadian-Cuba relations with an invitation to the Canada’s PM to visit the small communist island country. Pena was also quick to add that Canadian businesses had nothing to fear from the ongoing talks with the United States, but that Canadian companies should see this as a great opportunity given that the United States lead embargo had discouraged many Canadian companies from doing business with Cuba, for fear of United States sanctions. The ambassador who was recently invited to speak by the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations (CORIM) said that, “The blockade is on its way out and there is a window where Canadian companies can come to explore if they are ready to invest,” showing that Cuba is open to Canadian business investment.

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By Barry Cox W ell the United States GDP figures are in and for the third straight year the economy is off to a slow start with the smallest increase in growth for the first quarter in two years. This is now surprise given that American consumers reined in spending and companies tightened their belts in response to weak global finan- cial conditions and plunges in oil prices. United States Gross domestic product rose at a weak 0.5 percent annu- alized rate after a 1.4 percent fourth-quarter of 2015 and marked the third straight disappointing start to a year. With unstable global markets and commodity markets stumbling have resulted in the biggest business-investment slump in almost seven years, and household purchases climbed the least since early 2015. It was not all bad news as data indicated strong hiring and income gains that have the potential to reignite consumer spending and propel economic growth. Americans have more job security which account for Household purchases, which account for almost 70 percent of the economy, rose 1.9 percent. The biggest factor weighing on the economy last quarter came from companies. Nonresidential fixed investment, or spending on equip- ment, structures and intellectual property, dropped at a 5.9 percent annualized pace, the biggest decline since the second quarter of 2009. Last year’s slump in oil prices that extended into early 2016 led to an 86 percent annualized plunge in capital spending on wells and shafts in the oil industry, the most in records back to 1958.

of 2016. In 2015, the U.S. economy had shrunk almost 1 percent and then had a second quarter growth of almost 5 percent.

The Federal Reserve interest rate will remain unchanged as the economic forecast remains positive and the GDP price index was in line with projections as we look to the second quarter.

Investment is also weak as corporations struggle to boost profits against a backdrop of weak overseas demand and restrained domestic purchases.

If we are looking at the last two years of what to expect, the economy will recover from weak first quarter and rebound in the second quarter



By Barry Cox T he Calgary-based energy giant, Suncor Energy reached a deal to buy Murphy Oil Corporation’s five per cent stake of The Syncrude Project which is located 40 kilomaters north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. he deal, expected to close by the end of June, provided it receives approval from the Competition Bureau, will increase Suncor Energy interest in The Syncrude Project increase to 54 percent from just under 49 percent at an acquisition cost of 937 million.

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“This transaction is a strategic fit for our portfolio given the quality of the resource, our existing interest in Syncrude and the potential for value creation,” CEO Steve Williams said in a press release. The Murphy Oil Corporation’s acquisition was much less eventful than Suncor Energy’s acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands. At that time the all-stock deal was worth $6.9 billion, which included $2.6 billion in the company’s debt and increased Suncor’s share of The Syncrude Project from about 12 percent to 49 percent. Suncor Energy’s, which has vast holdings elsewhere in the oilsands, has made no secret of its intention to scope out bargain deals during the prolonged downturn in oil prices. Suncor Energy has argued that with a larger ownership stake, it could allocate more capital resources to improve operations at The Syncrude Project, which has experienced a series of repetitive outages in recent years delaying production. The deal increases Suncor’s oilsands production capacity by 17,500 barrels a day, adding to their increased year over year production by 89,000 barrels a day for the quarter, while reducing cash operating costs per barrel by $4.15 for the same time period. “This growth gives us even more leverage to oil prices as they recover,” said Williams.

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This is great news for Suncor Energy as oil prices start to recover.



heightened volatility. However, uncertainty about the global economic outlook and policy settings among the major jurisdictions continues. Funding costs for high-quality borrowers remain very low and, globally, monetary policy remains remarkably accommodative. In Australia, the available information suggests that the economy is continuing to rebalance following the mining investment boom. Con- sistent with developments in the labour market, overall GDP growth picked up over 2015, despite the contraction in mining investment. The pace of lending to businesses has also picked up. Inflation is quite low. Recent information has confirmed that growth in labour costs remains quite subdued. Given this, and with inflation also restrained elsewhere in the world, inflation in Australia is likely to remain low over the next year or two. Given these conditions, it is appropriate for monetary policy to be accommodative. Low interest rates are supporting demand, while supervisory measures are working to emphasise prudent lending stan- dards and so to contain risks in the housing market. Credit growth to households continues at a moderate pace, albeit with a changed com- position between investors and owner-occupiers. The pace of growth in dwelling prices has moderated in Melbourne and Sydney and has remained mostly subdued in other cities. Decisions regarding the cash rate target are made by the Reserve Bank Board which meets each month and the outcomes and strategies are then explained in amedia release. The Australian dollar has appreciated somewhat recently. In part, this reflects some increase in commodity prices, but monetary develop- ments elsewhere in the world have also played a role. Under present circumstances, an appreciating exchange rate could complicate the adjustment under way in the economy. At today’s meeting, the Board judged that there were reasonable prospects for continued growth in the economy, with inflation close to target. The Board therefore decided that the current setting of monetary policy remained appropriate. Over the period ahead, new information should allow the Board to assess the outlook for inflation and whether the improvement in labour market conditions evident last year is continuing. Continued low infla- tion would provide scope for easier policy, should that be appropriate to lend support to demand.

By Katie Davis W eak inflation numbers continue to hurt the Australian dollar on global markets against the US and other currencies. There is some debate amongst global economists that Malcolm Turnbull and Australia’s Liberal Party will most likely cut interest rates to the lowest seen on record come Budget Day as Australia’s consumer price index continues to fall. Australia’s Reserve Bank sets the target “cash rate,” which is the market interest rate on overnight funds. It uses this as the instrument for monetary policy, and influences the cash rate through its financial market operations. Decisions regarding the cash rate target are made by the Reserve Bank Board which meets each month and the outcomes and strategies are then explained in a media release. After April’s meeting the Australian Federal Reserve left the cash rate unchanged, which has not seen any movement since this time last year when it was lowered from 2.25 to its current rate of 2.00.

This is the report that was released by Australia’s Reserve Bank regard- ing their decision to leave the cash rate unchanged for April;

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.0 per cent.

Recent information suggests that the global economy is continuing to grow, though at a slightly lower pace than earlier expected. While several advanced economies have recorded improved growth over the past year, conditions have become more difficult for a number of emerging market economies. China’s growth rate has continued to moderate. Commodity prices have generally increased a little recently, but this follows very substantial declines over the past couple of years. Australia’s terms of trade remain much lower than they had been in recent years.


in financial markets has improved recently after a period of

Source Reserve Bank of Australia - Media Release – April 2016

News of this report caused the largest one day market loss in eight months for the Australian dollar as global economists overspeculate that the Reserve Bank will cut the cash rate to 1.75 percent before Trea- surer Scott Morrison delivers his first budget. One thing that we do know is that this speculation of lowering rate is going to create addi- tional weakness of the Australian dollar on currency markets.



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