CAB Audited Peach Media & Publishing and Australian Hardware Journal are pleased to provide the articles contained in this publication to keep its subscribers up to date on issues which may be relevant to their businesses. This publication is supplied strictly on the condition that Peach Media & Publishing and Australian Hardware Journal, its employees, agents, authors, editors and consultants are not responsible for any deficiency, error, omission or mistake contained in this publication, and Peach Media & Publishing and Australian Hardware Journal, its employees, agents, authors, editors and consultants hereby expressly disclaim all liability of whatsoever nature to any person who may rely on the contents of this publication in whole or part. Published by Peach Media & Publishing A.B.N. 74 667 374 585 11 Rushdale Street, Knoxfield Victoria 3180 Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Editor: Christine Bannister Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Email: Journalists: E mily Morrison John Power Online Communications & Production: Justin Carroll Email: ADVERTISING Alastair Bryers Email: Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Mobile: 0498 555 085 ACCOUNTS Melissa Graydon Email: SUBSCRIPTIONS Melissa Graydon $93.00 – 12 issues ART AND PRODUCTION Justin Carroll PRINTING Southern Impact Pty Ltd 181 Forster Rd, Mount Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: (03) 8796 7000 2023 was by far one of the most interesting, challenging, and diverse years that the hardware industry has experienced so far. It seems that one sector of the industry that has continued to grow in popularity this year is Australian Made products with local businesses licensed with the Australian Made campaign growing from 2800 in 2020 to 4500 licenses at the beginning of this year. 2023 also kicked off with the Independent Hardware Group (IHG) Expo in February. This event was hugely popular, being the first face-to-face Expo after three years of delays, and featured a ‘Consumer first’ theme that focused on putting the needs of the consumer front and centre. Just a few weeks on, Bunnings implemented the extensive expansion of its pet products range, from 100 to 1000 SKUs, as a response to a substantial increase in pet ownership throughout COVID. April saw Safe Work Australia asked to consider what a future ban on engineered stone would look like by workplace health and safety ministers in a concerted effort to reduce the incidents of silicosis. Since this announcement, IHG has banned the sale of engineered stone with the hope that other hardware retailers will follow suit. Heading into May, the Federal Government went on to expand the prospective eligibility of its Home Guarantee Scheme (HGS) to tackle the growing house crisis and boost new home-build applications. Later that month, Tool Kit Depot (TKD) expanded into Victoria in the south-eastern suburb of Mentone after four sites were already established in South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland. Heading into June, mid-year results showed that despite the rising cost of living, retail spending remained steady. CITI Bank reports indicated that retail trading would remain moderate rather than collapse in 2023. Several national conferences were also held in August with the National Paint Place Conference taking place on the Gold Coast, as well as the Hardware and Building Traders (HBT) National Conference held in Cairns. Over 900 attended HBT’s annual conference which was based around improving member's businesses. As spring approached, predictions of a dry and hot summer ahead saw a surge in the commencement of outdoor projects, particularly after three years of substantially wet springs. With the threat of fires also on the rise, generator and pump sales are also expected to surge, with stores in bushfire-prone areas urged to stock up. October saw staffing issues continue as retailers headed into the busy Christmas season with unemployment sitting at just 3.7 per cent. Conference season kicked off again in October as Natbuild, Construction Supply Specialists (CSS) and Australian Industrial Supplies (AIS) all held their national conferences. While CSS celebrated 21 years in the business, AIS re-charged at its ‘Reset ‘23’ trade conference held in Perth. Natbuild also revealed positive trading results and remains optimistic despite the slowing market. 2024 AHJ’s January edition will kick off the New Year with its ever-popular Australian Made feature showcasing all of the latest locally made products within the hardware industry, as well as all of the latest news from the Australian Made Campaign. Congratulations to all of our readers on your unwavering resilience this year along with an incredible work ethic, and most of all, continuing to build and maintain important relationships with one another. It is these unwavering relationships that make independents stand out from their competitors and continue to prosper in an uncertain economic environment. From the team at AHJ, we wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous Christmas and New Year. Christine Bannister - Editor