Thursday, November 30, 2017

Loblaws to close 22 unprofitable stores

Loblaws is planning to close 22 stores which are unprofitable. At the same time it will begin an Internet-based home delivery service which will start in December.
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Loblaws cutting back to save costs and improve profits
The announcement of the closures comes almost a month after the company said it would cut about 500 corporate and store support positions.
The company did not indicate which specific stores would be closed.
Jim Danahy, CEO of CustomerLAB said: "What you've got is a healthy company pruning its garden."
The closures and cuts to staff will result in charges of approximately $135 million with most of the cost expected in the 4th quarter of this year. However, the cutbacks will save Loblaws about $85 million a year. The company expects the closures to be done by the end of the first quarter of next year.
Loblaws owns Zehrs, Provigo, and Fortinos stores. It also has several discount chains including No Frills, Extra Foods, and Real Canadian Superstore. Shoppers Drug Mart is also owned by Loblaws.
Company to begin delivery service in December
The service will start first on December 6th in Toronto with service also slated to begin in Vancouver in January of next year. It is expected to expand to other cities during 2018.
The service will be offered through Instacart, a grocery delivery service, that already operates in 150 markets in the US.
Orders online from Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and T & T stores will be shipped to customers' homes in as little as an hour according to the two companies.
In Toronto Instacart will be competing with Grocery Gateway that is already operating in the city.
Jim Danahy said that Loblaws was under competitive pressure to provide the delivery service. Danahy said: "This is totally predictable. It's been a question of how to find the scale and the formula and the technology as they all evolve in what is nothing less than a space race."
This will be Instacart's first venture into Canada.
Service in the US is mainly provided through a smartphone app, that works on IOS and Android platforms apart from its website. Customers are able to use Android Pay and Apple Pay.
Customers select groceries through a web application from retailers who have the service and are delivered by a personal shopper.
In March of this year Instacart agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle a class action suit that claimed the company had been misclassifying its shopper employees as independent contractors. Among 18 violations were improper tip pooling plus failure to reimburse its employees for business expenses.

Loblaws faces headwinds and stiff competition next year
Loblaws' CEO Galen Weston said: "Given all the headwinds, we expect 2018 will be a very difficult year." He said potentially the problems were greater than what the company has faced up to now.
The chain is facing stiff competition from Amazon that purchased organics grocer Whole Foods Market. It is expected to expand its online food services. This will put pressure on competitors such as Loblaws to offer comparable services.
Loblaws already offers a "click and collect" service at many stores. Consumers can choose groceries online and then go and pick them up at the store.
The service has been successful and Weston said the company would expand it to reach more than thirty percent of the Canadian population.
Nevertheless, Kaan Yigit of Solutions Research Group claimed that consumers prefer "no fuss" deliveries to the home rather than the click-and-collect model. Yigit said: "I am not sure that you can be a consumer-facing 2017 company and not offer a true mobile contact point and a delivery option, especially in the largest markets'"
Those who want delivery service will pay a premium for the convenience: "The Instacart delivery fees will range from a low of $3.99 (Canadian) depending on the size of the order and deliver time, to as high as $9.99 for one-hour shipments of an order of less than $35. And there will be an added service fee of 7.5 per cent of the value of the order. Home-delivered grocery prices will be higher than Loblaw's regular prices. "
Shoppers will order from local Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore or T and T locations through the Instacart website or their apps. Instacart will then pick, pack and deliver the orders.
Loblaw has yet to disclose the prices but Weston says that prices could be modified. He says the company has a road map to reach profitability in e-commerce but declined to say how long it would take the company to reach its destination.

Loblaws profitable in third quarter of 2017
The company more than doubled their third quarter profits to $883 million or $2.24 a share from just $419 million or $1.03 a share last year in the same quarter.
Revenue rose to $14.19 billion from $14.14 billion last year.
The company had a one time gain of $432 million from the sale of its gas station business to Brookfield Business Partners.
Loblaws has over 2,000 stores in Canada and has headquarters in Brampton Ontario.

Previously published in Digital Journal

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Canada setting up 54 EV charging stations in northern Ontario and Manitoba

Canada is teaming up with three different companies to install 34 EV fast-charging stations along the Trans Canada Highway in Manitoba and Ontario in an attempt to encourage more motorists to use EVs on longer trips.

Funding for the program
The $173 million charging network announced earlier this year will allow charging of EV's in about 20 minutes. The different types of charging units are described in this Manitoba Hydro release.
The project is being funded by $8 million of a repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada as part of the Canadian Energy Innovation Program. There is also private investment from eCamion, a Toronto energy storage system developer, Leclanche an energy storage provider and SGEM a Geneva-based power producer.
Canadian government wants to encourage EV use
In a news release, Jim Carr, the Canadian federal government Minister of Natural Resources said the increased use of EVs would help reduce emissions: “With more electric vehicles becoming available, we want to make them an easy choice for Canadians. The strategic investment brings us closer to having a national coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations while growing our economy and creating good jobs for Canada’s middle-class.”
Experts agree that developing and installing an adequate infrastructure throughout Canada is crucial in order increase EV sales across Canada.
The nature of the EV charge stations
Every new station will have a storage system that uses large-format lithium-ion batteries. There will be multiple outlets so that several cars will be able to charge at once. Each unit will be able to charge 3 cars at once.
The chargers are level 3 and typically use a 480 volt system. A vehicle can be fully charged in about half an hour. Level two chargers with 240 volt systems take about 8 to 100 hours. Ordinary level one 120 volt chargers take even longer. The different levels are described in this Manitoba Hydro release.
The 34 new stations will have 102 charging units spaced about 100 kilometres apart along 3,000 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway. The exact locations are not yet determined.
EV owners must wait a while before starting a trip
The stations are scheduled to be in operation by 2019.
Nevertheless Robert Elms, president of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association said: "I think it's terrific."
Elms noted that now the trip from Winnipeg Manitoba along the Trans Canada through northern Ontario is not practical for EV owners. There are at most level 2 chargers that can take up to 10 hours to charge a car. The newer level 3 chargers take only half an hour to an hour at most.
Bryan Urban, executive vice president of Leclanche North America, who is also president of Fast Charage a joint venture between Leclanche and eCamion said: "Vehicles will be able to power up during peak hours using off-peak energy and continue on their journey in a relatively similar amount of time it would take to fuel a fossil-fuel vehicle, grab a snack and visit a bathroom."
A study by Simon Fraser University in 2016 showed that there are only about 125 fully electric cars in Manitoba although there appear to be many hybrids often used by taxi companies. Ontario has more with 7,248 but no doubt most of those are in southern Ontario in larger cities.
The Canadian Automobile Association lists 18 charging stations within the city of Winnipeg. Going east on the Trans-Canada the next charging station is in Kenora a distance of 209 kilometers.
An EV charge station locater in Canada is provided by the CAA. The stations are rated in terms of the level of charge provided. There are nearly 6,000 across the country.

Published previously in Digital Journal

Sunday, November 26, 2017

St. John's salon recycles much of its waste

Urban Salon in St. John's Newfoundland Canada is helping to keep waste out of the local landfill by recycling different wastes it produces including human hair and tinfoil.
Salon produced a full garbage bag plus of waste each day
The salon used to produce more than a full garbage bag of trash daily including tinfoil, human hair and various hair products according to owner Paul Bateman.
Bateman started thinking about how much waste his business was producing and decided to do something about it.
Bateman said: For a small business it just seemed ridiculous, and the garbage bags were always really light because they were just filled with tinfoil and hair. Right now we've cut down on the weekly waste in the salon by about 80 per cent."
Green Circle Salons
To cut down on all his trash Batemen signed Urban Salon up for a program Green Circle Salons whose website can be found here.
Bateman has bins for different materials placed around the salon, including one for hair, another for unused hair dye, one for tinfoil, and another for plastic such as plastic shampoo bottles. A video showing the bins is appended.
Salons that are part of the Green Circle program are throughout Canada and the US. In St. John's alone there are 7 salons he is aware of that are part of the program. The population of the metro area of St. John's is just about 200,000 with the city itself around 110,000.
Bateman charges customers a dollar surcharge for each hour of service to pay for the program. Customers apparently do not complain of the charge.
Waste materials are recycled
The cycling of the plastic and chemicals is conventional.
Green Circle is able to send hair off to be used for such purposes as artificial bedding for animals displaced by the wildfires near Fort MacMurray Alberta, mattresses and even for soaking up oil spills.
When the bins are full the waste is put in bags and sent to Green Circle.
Staff becoming more aware of waste they produce
Bateman claims his staff are now more aware of how much waste they are producing.
Bateman said: "We're keeping 11 pounds of tinfoil out of the landfill just at this salon alone, per week."
Green CIrcle has its own Facebook page.
Green Circle claims that it is helping salons take the lead in reducing their carbon footprint. It claims that their program can divert 70 to 90 percent of waste the salons produce from going to the landfill. Their hope is to make the salons and spas that are part of the program 100 percent sustainable by 2020.

First all weather road completed to Canadian Arctic coast to Tuktoyaktuk

Finally there is an all-weather gravel road from the hamlet or small town of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic coast of the Canadian Northwest Territories to the town of Inuvik to the south.

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This is Canada's first permanent highway link to its Arctic coast.
The old ice road is replaced
For many years the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, an ice road connected Inuvik with Tuktoyaktuk across the frozen MacKenzie River delta channels, and the frozen Arctic Ocean. The ice road was permanently closed on the 29th of April 2107 to be replaced this year by the new highway.
The new highway includes eight bridges and 359 culverts along its 120 kilometer length.

The name in Inuvialuktun the language of the Inuvialiut means "looks like a caribou". The hamlet lies north of the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
It used to be called Port Brabant but was renamed in 1950. It was the first place in northern Canada to revert to its traditional indigenous name. Often it is just referred to as "Tuk" as in the appended video.
The census of 2016 listed the population as 898 but the hamlet's website puts it at over 900.
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inu...
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region.
© Town of Inuvik
The name means "place of man" in the native language. The town is the administrative center for the Inuvik region.
Inuvik is a larger town than Tuktoyaktuk with a population of 3,243 according to the 2016 census. The population varies from year to year as economic conditions change.
Inuvik has its own website.
Celebration of the highway opening
Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of Tuk, is traveling down the highway to Inuvik for opening ceremonies to be held there. Later, he will join an official motorcade that will head back up north to Tuk.
There are to be parties celebrating the opening then in Tuk. As well as the mandatory speeches, there will be songs, fireworks and a community feast. Included will be favorite foods including caribou, reindeer, char, whale andmuktuk.
Nasogaluak said: "It's something that's been on the community's want list for 40 years... I've traveled a lot of highways, but the scenery on this one is quite different."
A varying landscape
The road passes through a rolling landscape with tundra, lakes, and many stream crossings. It cost $300 million to build.
Wally Schumann Infrastructure Minister of the Northwest Territories (NWT) said: "When you come out of Inuvik, for about 20 kilometres you don't realize how much you're going uphill. The trees just get smaller and smaller and smaller and all of a sudden you're on the top of a mountain and there's no trees and you can see about 100 kilometres on both sides of the highway. It's an amazing feeling."
The highway was a long time coming
As early as the 1960's people began talking about the project. Surveys were begun way back in 1974.
The NWT government made the first proposal to the federal government in Ottawa in 1998. In 2009 after years of lobbying from the NWT as well as aboriginal and business groups the federal government granted $200 million in funding.
Construction began in earnest only in 2014.
Preparing for change
Nasogaluak says that the slow pace of construction has given the Tuk community plenty of time to prepare for the social and environmental impacts the new road will have on the community.
As shown on the appended video one plan is to paint buildings in the community. 2,000 cans of paint were donated by a southern company.
The local bed and breakfast has added rooms. The hamlet is also developing RV sites with public facilities.
Road should reduce costs
The road is expected to reduce the cost of living in Tuk by about $1.5 million a year by providing a year round reliable route for supplies. The saving is equivalent to about $1500 a year for each man, woman, and child in Tuk.
More roads needed
Schumann claims that the NWT infrastructure deficit is horrendous. The NWT will ask for other new roads that will open the huge territory to tourism and mineral exploration.
Schumann said: "Every dollar invested by the federal government into this type of infrastructure in the territories is not only going to benefit us, it's going to benefit all Canadians."
Previously published in Digital Journal

Friday, November 10, 2017

New US ambassador to Canada believes in "both sides of science" on climate change

Kelly Craft, the new U.S. ambassador to Canada, said that when it comes to climate change she believes in "both sides of the science"

Craft told Rosemary Barton of the CBC that she appreciates all of the scientific evidence on climate change saying to Barton: "I think that both sides have their own results, from their studies, and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science."
Craft said that although the position of President Trump on climate change is different from that of the Canadian government that the two countries shared the same goal to "better our environment and to maintain the environment."" She also claimed that the U.S. could still fight climate change though it is leaving the Paris climate change accord. Craft said that the US pulling out of the agreement should not impact America's broader relationships with its allies.
Craft's husband, billionaire coal-mining magnate Joe Craft, was critical of former president Obama's climate change policies.
The former Republican fundraiser was sworn in by the Kentucky governor, and her longtime friend, back in August, but she formally assumed her post after she presented her credentials to Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ottawa recently.
Craft is the first woman to be named U.S. ambassador to Canada. In 2007 she was appointed to be U.S. delegate to the UN.
Craft was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention from Kentucky. She is a member of the University of Kentucky's board of directors. She also heads Kelly G. Knight LLC a business advisory firm based in Lexington Kentucky.
Craft and her current husband gave $2 million to the Trump campaign but before that they supported Marco Rubio.
Craft said she was honoured to take on her role as ambassador. She said "Surely there is no better posting than Canada".
Catherine Mckenna, Canada's Environment Minister was quick to react to Craft's remarks about the environment saying: “There’s really only one side to climate change science — that we’re seeing the impact of climate change and that it’s man made." The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) website claims that 97 percent of scientists say that humans are causing climate change while just 2 percent reject that position.
In November of 2016 researchers at Texas Tech University examined 38 papers that denied human-caused climate change and found that all of them contained flawed methodology.
The researchers said: “A common denominator seems to be missing contextual information or ignoring information that does not fit the conclusions."
The latest assessment report by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed: “Human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed across all continents and oceans. Many of the observed changes since the 1950s are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”
According to three separate analyses by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Japanese Meteorological Agency, this year is on its way to be one of the warmest years on record.