CBC Digital Archives

Canadian Tire grows again with PartSource

Since its origins as a family company in 1922, Canadian Tire has become a national icon and a handyman's addiction. The company showed a year-end profit for over 60 years, but a disastrous foray into the U.S. in the 1980s put the corporation on shaky financial ground. Nasty family bickering also threatened to tear the empire apart. CBC Digital Archives takes a look at Canadian Tire's turbulent years, when loyal customers and innovation paved the road to rebirth.

At a time when most retailers are just getting by and American heavyweights Wal-Mart and Home Depot are beginning to dominate, Canadian Tire CEO Stephen Bachand is ushering in an entirely new retail concept. It's called PartSource and it's a veritable haven for the car enthusiast, offering parts, tools, products and accessories. The plan calls for the opening of 200 stores at a cost of $400 million. And PartSource isn't Bachand's only project. Since taking over the company's top job in 1992, he has spent hundreds of millions to build new stores and fix old ones. As we see in this clip from 1999, the changes are starting to pay off, even in tough times.
• Two years after the launch of PartSource, Canadian Tire introduced two more major changes to its operations: the launch of its website and the acquisition of Mark's Work Wearhouse.
  • The website changed the way customers researched and bought Canadian Tire products, and precipitated the demise of the venerable Canadian Tire catalogue. The first catalogue was issued in 1928 (the first French version came in 1957) and the last run in the fall of 2007 saw the company distribute six million copies. The corporation announced in March 2008 that it was ceasing catalogue operations due to decreased use. The website had taken over, by then but it too changed at the end of January 2009. E-commerce was deemed too expensive, so the ability to buy Canadian Tire products online ended. The site became a catalogue-only entity.

• In acquiring Mark's Work Wearhouse, the company had taken over what its website calls "one of the country's leading retailers of work, work-related, casual and active-wear categories." Mark's was the brainchild of Mark Blumes, a former retail executive with the Hudson's Bay Company. The first store opened in 1977 in Calgary and by 2009 the chain had grown to over 350 locations across the country. In Quebec, as of 2007 it had some 40 stores under the banner L'Équipeur ( "Oufitter").

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Aug. 25, 1999
Guest(s): Staphen Bachand, James Okamura
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Raj Ahluwalia
Duration: 2:35

Last updated: February 10, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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