plans to stay until the end of April, before taking an extended break with his family, Metcash said, reported Inside Retail. “Paul has played a key role in the growth of Total Tools and in the smooth and seamless transition to Metcash ownership. He is leaving the Total Tools business in great shape with a successful winning strategy and a strong leadership team,” said Metcash Group Chief Executive Officer, Doug Jones. An executive search has been launched to find a new Chief Executive Officer among internal and external candidates. Total Tools is franchisor to the largest professional hardware chain in Australia and Metcash acquired its majority stake back in 2020. Since then it has delivered significant sales growth in the network, almost doubling turnover to $1.09 billion in 2023 from $585 million in the 2020 financial year. The store network also expanded from 81 sites to 112, with future plans to add around 10 stores a year. Metcash’s Independent Hardware Group – which includes the Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware brands – is Australia’s largest home improvement wholesaler, supplying more than 1500 stores. The Financial Review reported E&P analyst Phil Kimber said the Total Tools purchase had been very successful for Metcash. “Given the challenges in forecasting the overall Total Tools business, we do not expect [consensus earnings] to change,” he said in a note to clients. Metcash has a mix of independently owned and majority-owned joint venture Total Tools stores. Currently, there are 44 joint venture stores that have put-and-call option arrangements over their remaining ownership. Metcash is in talks with most of these stores on resetting the deal, which would result in Metcash buying further equity and deferring the put option in relation to their residual ownership for a further three to five years. Barrenjoey analyst Tom Kierath estimates that all up Metcash will have paid $525 million for the Total Tools business, which has a healthy growth runway since it is aiming for 140 stores by 2026 and generates around $135 million of EBITDA – making it one of the better transactions in the consumer space. IHG announces its stand against engineered stone products There has been considerable discussion in the media recently around engineered stone benchtops, with Bunnings in particular, announcing they will no longer supply the harmful product. In line with this position, the Independent Hardware Group (IHG) provided AHJ with a statement on their stance moving forward. The IHG statement is as follows: “Independent Hardware Group (IHG), is a leading hardware wholesaler, and is home to Mitre 10, Home Hardware, Total Tools, and Hardings.” “IHG will no longer be supporting engineered stone products. Our purpose is Building Successful Independents, and we are confident removing this product from our offering is the right thing to do for our business, our member and supplier network, consumers, and our local communities.” “Effective 29 February 2024, we will have removed all offers of engineered stone products, displays, and point of sale information from our company-owned retail stores and encourage our independent member stores to do the same.” “We will continue to offer a great range of alternative products and materials to help our consumers build their Whole of House in a safe and sustainable manner.” The statement is welcome news to those affected by the deadly engineered stone products and will lead the way to significant reductions in the serious health risks caused by the product, including breathing difficulties, lung cancer, and silicosis (scarring of the lungs). This news also comes after New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said the state is prepared to go it alone in announcing a ban on the use of silicaengineered stone if a national agreement cannot be reached by the end of 2023. NEWS Metcash is set to take full control of the Total Tools business 30 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | DECEMBER '23