AUSTRALIAN HARDWARE JOURNAL

Choose Products Made in Australia for Aussie Conditions LOW ODOUR LOW VOC NON TOXIC www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.138 No.10 Oct 2023 Print Post Approved PP100007331 SINCE 1886

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DEPARTMENTS Newsmakers Features 5 Viewpoint 6 Paint Focus 10 Behind the Counter 12 US News 14 NZ News 16 Timber Update 38 News 39 Product Focus 40 What’s New 18 O utdoor paint and timber care take priority this season After three years of unusually wet weather, this summer is the perfect time for your customers to start or finish up their outdoor paint and varnish projects. 27 D emand for both petrol and battery-powered products continue within the OPE space Spring is in the air and as the weather heats up, demand for DIY cordless garden power tools has increased. However, petrolpowered products also remain a priority, particularly for those maintaining large block of land. 13 T oro and Lowe’s announce strategic partnership. 14 Fletcher Building reports FY23 results. 38 Australia’s largest home builders for 2022/23. About the Cover Since 1976, H.B. Fuller Australia has been a trusted name in the construction industry, providing a wide range of high-quality adhesive and sealant solutions developed specifically for Aussie conditions. The vast majority of its products are locally manufactured, and are tailored to meet the unique challenges posed by Australia’s diverse climate and demanding construction standards. Choose Products Made in Australia for Aussie Conditions LOW ODOUR LOW VOC NON TOXIC www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.138 No.10 Oct 2023 Print Post Approved PP100007331 SINCE 1886 39 6 18 27 4 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | OCTOBER '23

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: christine@glenv.com.au Journalists: E mily Morrison John Power Online Communications & Production: Justin Carroll Email: justin@glenv.com.au ADVERTISING Alastair Bryers Email: alastair.bryers@glenv.com.au Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Mobile: 0498 555 085 ACCOUNTS Melissa Graydon Email: Melissa.Graydon@glenv.com.au SUBSCRIPTIONS Melissa Graydon $93.00 – 12 issues subs@glenv.com.au ART AND PRODUCTION Justin Carroll PRINTING Southern Impact Pty Ltd 181 Forster Rd, Mount Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: (03) 8796 7000 As retailers head into the busy Christmas period, staffing issues have not only continued but have become even more challenging, particularly as unemployment remains at just 3.7 per cent. And it seems the struggle to find long-term, loyal staff members is set to continue. Retail guru Bernie Brooks AM (See page 10 for all of Bernie’s useful tips) says retailers are expected to struggle not only with the casualisation of the workforce, but contraction of the workforce because, since COVID, people are only working when they need the money. Bernie believes this will be the way of the future so if you want a good manager in timber, or a decent manager of pool equipment and chemicals, or someone who specialises in a particular space within your store, you might find it very difficult to source these staff. “I see it in the pub I own. It is astonishing. People just want to come in for six months and freelance. They want to earn cash in hand or they just want a shortterm contract. This is the nature of work going ahead. Retailers really need to get their minds around this and stop thinking about the good, loyal, long-term staff they want to employ. All these staff are fantastic but they are rare which is why retailers need to think about sourcing reasonably loyal freelance, uber-type people instead. This is the nature of today's business,” Bernie said at the recent HBT conference. Just last week, a hardware retailer informed me that the hardest part of not having the ability to source loyal, full-time staff is the fact that customers can no longer speak with the same staff member they have connected with when seeking advice on a project or problem. The rural hardware retailer said not having the ability to source more full-time staff on a long-term basis has begun to affect his business. “If a customer comes in with an inquiry or issue on a Monday morning and they speak with a staff member about their issues and get the advice they need, they then might come back a few days later to receive additional advice from the same staff member. But they can not speak with their original contact because a completely different team is manning the store by then. They then have to explain everything all over again,” the retailer said. The store owner also pointed out how this jeopardises his ability to keep up customer relations which is so important, especially in a rural environment. When retailers can only source part-time or casual staff to run the store the majority of the time, it is very difficult to keep up customer relations. The good news is that due to the rising cost of living and 13 rate rises in 15 months, consumers are looking for a way to source an additional income, with one in 15 people now working in more than one job. There are more jobs available, so consumers know there is plenty of opportunity to take on additional work so they can deal with the rising cost of living. This means more staff available for retailers too, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas. Coming up… Look out for AHJ’s popular Building Materials and Safety and Security features in the November edition. To participate in either features contact Harry Rabiee: harry@glenv.com.au Christine Bannister - Editor

6 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | OCTOBER '23 Coffs Harbour paint store growth is truly inspirational In the five years since Mark and Tammie Diener purchased their first Inspirations Paint store in Coffs Harbour, the high-achieving couple have managed to not only outgrow their business twice, but have also won the Inspirations Paint Store of the Year Award in consecutive years. Business: Inspirations Paint Coffs Harbour Owners: Mark and Tammie Diener Location: Coffs Harbour, New South Wales Buying Group: Inspirations Paint Originally established in 2000, the store is located just over 500 kilometres north of Sydney on the East Coast of New South Wales. Incredibly, Mark and Tammie had never visited Coffs Harbour before they purchased the store in 2018. Although they did not know the area too well, Mark did know all about paint and brought his many years of industry experience to the business. Mark has been a big part of the Inspirations Paint Group working in sales and managing several Inspirations Paint franchisee stores for over 20 years, while also conducting some field force work for Dulux. Mark utilised his many years of experience to immediately build up his newly purchased store, while Tammie managed accounts and administration. “We won our first National Store of the Year Award in 2019 after just nine months of trading. The national awards were then delayed due to COVID and commenced in 2022, which was when we won the National Store of the Year Award once again. The National Store of the Year Award is usually allocated bi-annually. We actually won the second award for our second store which we moved into just two years ago,” Mark said. After Mark and Tammie bought their original 80 square metre store, it did not take long before they quickly outgrew the small premises. “After just nine months we had to take over the shop next door to our existing store, using this space as a warehouse. It really was not long at all before we outgrew this space as well. This is when we spent the next 12

months seeking an entirely new premises.” “The only problem was that we did not want to move too far from where we were. After a year of searching for a new location, we were lucky enough to find a new site just 500 metres from our original store which we refurbished with an entirely new customer offer and moved there in May 2021,” Mark said. Customer service is key Sitting at 875 square metres, the new store is quite large and a substantial upgrade from the 80 square metre store that Mark and Tammie initially bought in 2018. The couple believe that the business outgrew the original premises quickly because the store’s offer was based primarily on delivering high-quality customer service which is implemented through a high-level of staff training. “My biggest asset is my staff which includes three full-timers and also myself. This is a family business and all of my staff are a big part of my family and I treat them as such. I believe our customers feed off this family vibe and they know that they are an expansion on the family we have created in-store.” “I will not settle for anyone when it comes to the recruitment process. When I interview staff, I am more interested in their vibe rather than their retail experience and incredibly, all of my staff do not have a paint industry background. They have all come from either the hospitality or the aged care industries and I have trained them all from scratch. They do have an incredible way of approaching people and relating to customers. For me I can train anyone in paint, it is second nature to me. If they are interested in this industry, which is what I look for and they want to be here, they will learn anyway,” Mark said. CFX store upgrade The new look Inspirations Paint Coffs Harbour opened in 2021 with the store being one of the first in the group to implement the new CFX (Customer First Experience) upgrade. While the business has always applied a high level of customer service, Mark said that the upgrade ensures that the store is laid out so that every customer has the ability to easily shop the store themselves, particularly if staff happen to be busy when the customer visits. “It blew my mind when the group began to implement some of the ideas that go into this upgrade because it ensures that we have the ability to deliver a high level of service regardless of whether the customer is assisted by a staff member or shops the store themselves.” “Basically the upgrade provides information on the role of each product, what the product is primarily used for, tips and tricks for the customers, with all of this information placed on displays alongside the products themselves. It is innovative, customer friendly and it works for both trade and DIY customers,” he said. Serving both retail and trade When the couple initially purchased Inspirations Paint Coffs Harbour the business serviced 80 per cent trade and 20 per cent of retail customers. The store upgrade has allowed this figure to change to 50/50 with Mark saying he prefers more of a balance in-store. “We do not like to treat our trade customers any differently to how we treat our retail customers. Trade and retail are treated as if they were either which has allowed our sales to grow in each segment,” he said. Today the store is not only well-known for its CFX upgrade but also for its expansive range including the store’s outstanding accessories range which has seen the biggest growth over the past few years. PAINT FOCUS The award-winning business owners attribute their success to their outstanding staff, Jacinta, Harley and Faith. Store owner Mark Diener has over 20 years experience working within the paint industry.

8 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | OCTOBER '23 “I always ask for feedback from my customers to see what works and what does not work. I know there is a lot of risk in putting in a new range but I only implement these ranges based on customer feedback and understanding their needs. It is also about grounding the range so it is more uniform rather than having bits of random stuff everywhere.” Paint innovations are also seeing substantial growth in-store, particularly within the low-VOC paint space, as brand recognition and trust in the quality of this category continues to grow. This is particularly the case with the Dulux Enviro ranges as well as the store’s Porters range. Local competition Marketing is primarily implemented through word-of-mouth, local marketing and marketing scheduled by the Inspirations Paint Group, with Mark saying that word-of-mouth remains the strongest form of marketing for the store. “In the early days, we were primarily marketed via head office but I also use a local agency and I probably spend more with them than I do through the national office just so our marketing is more localised. This is important considering the heavy competition we have in the local area,” he said. The store is up against pretty much every other paint brand in Coffs Harbour including a Mitre 10 store just across the road, a Wattyl trade centre down the road, a Bristol store, a Haymes distributor as well as several Bunnings within the local area. “I have got every competitor you can think of nearby. Coffs Harbour’s population is rapidly growing which is why we have relocated to the area. I am originally from Sydney and I had never been to Coffs Harbour before I bought the store. I was in Newcastle just prior to purchasing this store and I was working at the national office there.” “The population is growing in the area so there are a lot of renovations and new builds and I think we are about to hit the commercial, high-rise market as well. Locals love the lifestyle here and a lot of people who work from home have moved to the area as well. You can fly to Sydney or Melbourne direct out of Coffs Harbour and I know many people who fly to Melbourne for work for the day and then they work from home for the rest of the week,” he said. While growth in the store has been nothing short of impressive, Mark says the Inspirations Paint Group has been instrumental in supporting the business through all of the moves and changes. “People think I am a bit biased with the group because I have been around for so long but I have dealt with other groups as well. There is just never an issue seeking help through Inspirations Paint and I have never seen such an incredible support network. I see the group as my extended family, and this is from the top down, whether it is the national office or other franchises. As a franchise group, the support is just unreal, and second to none.” Looking into the future Mark has plenty in the pipe-line but says he is keeping any plans closely guarded. “I do have a lot of projects happening in the background so the next 12 months are looking pretty exciting and my customers can expect to see some big changes. I am not one to worry about my competitor, I just focus on what we are doing moving forward,” Mark concluded RETAIL FOCUS Inspirations Paint Coffs Harbour was one of the first stores to implement the group's CFX store upgrade.

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The knowledge that Mr Brooks shared with HBT members concentrates on the learnings he has taken from his extensive career. While he admits he is not an economist, Mr Brooks did outline his predictions on the retail and wholesale environment, as well as his thoughts on how to build a better business both personally and on the commercial front. “When looking to the future it is important to think about where retail has come from on a number of fronts. Remember that it all began with traditional retail, then moved to the concept of self-service, then scanning and then to the worldwide web. This transformation caused a wide range of changes in your business and the way in which you go to market. So we have undergone an enormous metamorphosis in this digitalisation and this has had a dramatic effect on retail,” Mr Brooks said. Looking at current challenges within the market, Mr Brooks pointed out that the cost of energy and rising inflation are continuing to have a significant effect on store owners and their customers’ businesses as well. “Inflation is still a problem and retailers need to know how to move prices in line with inflation. Interest rates are also having an effect, while supply chain disruptions have continued due to issues moving shipping containers through wharves and concerns with production as well,” he said. “Over the last 25 years, a hardware business has grown some six per cent. However, with inflation running at five, six or seven per cent, depending on what category we are looking at, it actually means that most areas over the last 12 months have deteriorated rather than moved forward. So your store might be turning over reasonably good dollars but your transactions may be down four or five per cent. Your customer visits may also be down especially with foot traffic in malls in in the last two months dropping by 11 per cent. This is quite dramatic when you consider that the population is still growing quite well,” Mr Brooks said. “I do not think I have seen such a dramatic growth in retail CPI and a BEHIND THE COUNTER Speaking at HBT’s recent national conference, Bernie Brooks AM boasts over 38 years in retail with his roles including Chief Executive Officer of Edgars, South Africa’s largest retailer. Mr Brooks currently owns Collette, a 50-store handbag and jewellery business, and also owns Property Nightingales and online business, The Daily Edited. Retail guru reveals tips to navigate retail challenges

OCTOBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 11 growth in living costs that is so high within a certain period. Due to labour costs going up 5.5 per cent on July 1, as well as a one per cent rise in superannuation, business owners now need to find 6.5 per cent extra in additional labour costs,” Mr Brooks said. The additional pressure from increases in wages has personally added a $600,000 a year cost to Mr Brooks’ overall Colette business and like all retailers, he is struggling to find a way to recoup this money. “How do I recover this? I cannot put prices up so this pressure is only set to continue. The quicker our living costs come down the better for our business. Combine this with inflation which is also at record high levels and though it has begun to taper off, it does not create a very good picture for next year,” he said. Today there are three aspects driving the retail sector, including population growth, volume per capita and price growth. In a normal environment retail growth comes from a mixture of all three factors, but today the driver is primarily price growth, Mr Brooks pointed out. “One of the downsides to price growth is the adverse reaction to consumer spending. So a consumer with an average $800,000 mortgage is now paying $780 more per month in interest rates than what they were paying 14 months ago, so they actually have to earn an additional $1500 per month to cater for that. This money then comes out of spending on furniture, handbags, etc. and these are the retailers that are struggling at the moment,” he said. “There is no doubt the consumer is worried about spending. So how long will this cycle last? The good news is it will be reasonably short, so only 12 months but it will not peak until later this year and early into next year.” “There is no silver bullet or saving grace in the next 12 months. If you look at the average growth in retail and the population growth that we are getting, and the boost from wage growth, as well as draw down on savings, and drag from high-interest rates, living costs, lower retail volumes – this is what is causing problems at the moment. So the concept of refurbishing a house, of extending a house or buying new furniture, replacing tools, or building a deck, a lot of these purchases will be affected by the above,” he said. The good news is consumers did save a tonne of money during COVID and this will mean those individuals who have really strong savings will be the ones with strong balance sheets once inflation does taper off. “The hardware market is also expected to grow 1.24 per cent over the course of 2023 to 2028 which is the lowest level of growth that has been experienced so far. What is driving hardware is no different to any other market and that is the price growth that is occurring. It is the same throughout the world. The good news is that hardware is usually one of the first industry’s to come out of a recessionary period, which I believe will be mid-next year,” Mr Brooks said. While the move to the online space has become a big factor in any retail industry, Mr Brooks also recognises just how difficult it is to build a website when you are a small business. “It is very expensive, particularly with the cost of freight and postage rising dramatically. The thing that people forget is the role of the internet in not only transacting but educating your customers. Years ago when you bought a TV you would go into the store and ask 10 questions but now customers Google their research and they know exactly what they want and before they visit the store. The Internet is driving decisions more than ever. I believe about 60 per cent of customers who come into your store have done some sort of online research,” he said. “This means you need as much information, advertorial, and editorial as possible on any website that you have. If you do not want to go online it is like living under a rock these days because your customer is going to move to this digital environment more and more.” “When you look to penetration of the online space in the next 10 years in non-food it will move to nearly 30 per cent of all transactions occurring. Regardless of the industry, we will see an acceleration of online businesses,” Mr Brooks said. Looking in-store, Mr Brooks reminded members of the importance of creating theatre and fun within their businesses to ensure their customers keep returning. “While creating fun and theatre in-store is important, you also need to provide a certain amount of education to your customers as well. Tell your customers how to use the products you see, provide workshops and maintain interest. It is also about providing the value which consumers are looking for right now. Aldi is one retailer that does this well having its special buys each week, which keeps their customers coming into the store. Think about how you can also create this environment to offer value to your customer,” he said. The final aspect that is crucial in any business is utilising your staff to create a point of difference and train them properly so they will always do the best they can do, Mr Brooks said. “Staff members who are passionate about your business and well-educated will make a difference to your store. Remember if you treat your people correctly, offer them little things that make a big difference in their work life including mental health support, tax support, and fun days. This reflects on the culture of your store and will also be reflected back on how your staff ultimately treat your customer as well,” Mr Brooks concluded.

US NEWS Thriving together – Lowe’s annual Women’s Leadership Summit The Home Depot reinforces a ‘Path to Pro’ More than 15,000 Lowe's associates from around the globe were recently invited to the eleventh annual Women's Leadership Summit. The groundbreaking hybrid event marked a significant milestone, being the first Lowe’s Women’s Leadership Summit, combining both an in-person and virtual audience. The summit served as a platform to unite women and allies from within the organization to celebrate the year's central theme ‘thrive’. Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Lowe's, Janice Dupré, led the event and set the stage for a day filled with insights from accomplished women leaders within the organization, captivating keynote speakers, and enlightening panel discussions. “Our commitment here, through this women's strategy, is only half the equation. The other half of the equation is every single one of you and what you do to advocate for yourselves and your career. It is you deciding that now is the time to show up in a meaningful way and make a choice. It is a choice to thrive. It is up to you,” Ms Dupré said on the night. The summit celebrated three significant wins in women's leadership at Lowe's, including, the retention of women in the workforce at Lowe’s, the presence of women at high leadership levels, and increased development opportunities for women within the company. These wins in women's leadership are a result of the core behaviors of the company, focusing on customers, delivering results, taking action, showing courage, and continuing to learn. "When you lean into these leadership behaviors to champion Lowe's mission and assess and develop the talent and drive engagement, you create an environment where others on your team want to stay, learn and grow," Ms Dupré said. Lowe's will persist in its dedication to fostering an environment where women not only excel but thrive, building upon the foundational pillars of hiring, developing, advancing, and retaining top women talent to ensure ongoing progress in the months and years ahead. During Workforce Development Month in September, The Home Depot proudly reinforced its commitment to the skilled trades industry. Its nationwide initiative, Path to Pro, seeks to bridge the gap between the growing demand for trades and the shortage of skilled labor. Path to Pro was launched in 2021 and has provided skilled trades resources, trades training, and career networking opportunities through PathtoPro.com, the Skills Program, and the Network. Part of the company’s larger initiatives, these all help to address the growing skilled labor shortage in the US and build the next generation of skilled trades professionals. Recently, Path to Pro has also been translated into Spanish to expand its reach and impact. PathtoPro.com This website includes a resource library available in English and Spanish, that contains educational how-to guides and video content, training opportunities and a variety of information on different career paths. Its goal is to help individuals better understand the career potential in the skilled trades, while also helping them navigate the registration process for the Skills Program and Network. Path to Pro Skills Program The program offers free introductory trades training, available in English and Spanish, for those interested in pursuing or growing a career in the skilled trades. Participants can take advantage of on-demand content that gives them the necessary training to secure entry-level positions in skilled trades career paths, including electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drywall and painting. Path to Pro Network The jobseeker marketplace was created to connect skilled tradespeople to hiring trades professionals in the construction and home improvement industries. Skilled trades jobseekers can utilize digital and downloadable guides, available in English and Spanish. These guides help them create a profile, upload their resume and add photos of their work to connect with The Home Depot’s Pro customers looking to hire in their local area. “We know that 94 per cent of The Home Depot's Pro customers have a hard time finding skilled workers. We developed Path to Pro to help build the next generation of trades professionals by providing them with the resources and training they need to build a successful career,” says Hector Padilla, Executive Vice President of outside sales and service at The Home Depot. “We are thrilled by the program’s performance over the past two years and remain committed to meeting the needs of the skilled trades industry by making these opportunities accessible to even more jobseekers.”

OCTOBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 13 Toro and Lowe’s announce strategic partnership Amazon sued for alleged price-fixing and overcharging The Toro Company and Lowe's Companies, Inc. have announced a strategic retail partnership through which Lowe's will carry Toro zero-turn riding mowers, walk mowers, portable power equipment and snow blowers in both the gas and rapidly expanding battery categories. The Toro product lineup will be available at all Lowe's stores nationwide and online for the US spring 2024 selling season. The Toro company is a leading worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment and its products will be an exciting new offering for Lowe’s customers. "Our Pro and DIY customers count on Lowe's to have the best selection of outdoor power with the innovation they need and brands they trust," said Bill Boltz, Lowe's Executive Vice President of Merchandising. "The addition of the iconic Toro brand is yet another example of how we are delivering on that promise. Whether for lawn care in the spring or for snow removal in the winter, Toro's reliable products will give our customers the confidence to tackle outdoor projects in any season for years to come. The Toro brand is one more reason to shop Lowe's industry-leading outdoor power selection." Greg Janey, Group Vice President of Landscapes and contractor at The Toro Company said, "We truly appreciate Lowe's partnership and commitment as we embark on this shared opportunity to leverage the strength of our brands to further serve our customer base." "Lowe's leadership position in the zero-turn mower category and strong footprint in key customer markets complements our existing channel strategy and provides a new opportunity to bolster placement of our powerful 60-Volt battery portfolio," Mr Janey said. Select Toro products will be available in Lowe's stores and online at lowes.com from March next year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 17 state attorney generals have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, alleging the e-commerce behemoth uses its position in the marketplace to inflate prices on other platforms, overcharge sellers and stifle competition. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington and is the result of a multi year-long investigation into Amazon’s businesses and one of the most significant legal challenges brought against it in the company’s nearly 30-year history. According to the agency’s news release, the FTC and states that joined the most recent lawsuit are asking the court to issue a permanent injunction court that they say would prohibit Amazon from engaging in its unlawful conduct and loosen its “monopolistic control to restore competition”. “The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said. Many had wondered whether the agency would seek a forced breakup of the retail giant, which is also dominant in cloud computing and has a growing presence in other sectors like groceries and health care. In a briefing with reporters, Ms Khan avoided making any comment about whether that would happen. “At this stage, the focus is more on liability,” she said.

NZ NEWS Fletcher Building reports FY23 results WIDE Trust Study Tour grant delves into cutting-edge forestry Fletcher Building has announced its audited financial results for the year ended June 30, 2023 (FY23), with the company announcing a fully imputed final dividend of 16 cents per share. The report revealed revenue of $8,469 million, compared to $8,498 million in the financial year 2022 (FY22). Fletcher Building Chief Executive Ross Taylor said, “Fletcher Building’s FY23 financial result continues to build on the progress we have made in both EBIT levels and EBIT margins over the last several years.” Despite softer residential markets in New Zealand and Australia, and the major New Zealand weather events in the second half, Group EBIT before significant items grew by six per cent in FY23 to $798 million. Group EBIT margin of 9.4 per cent in FY23 also lifted from 8.9 per cent in FY22 – a good performance in a slowing market. Fletcher Building's return on funds employed (ROFE) remained ahead of target at 17.1 per cent. “Net profit after tax was $235 million, impacted by significant items charges of $301 million. The significant items related mainly to additional provisions of $255 million on the New Zealand International Convention Centre and Hobson Street Hotel (‘NZICC’) project,” Mr Taylor said. Cash flows from operating activities were $388 million, compared to $592 million in FY22. Adjusting for tax, funding costs, and lease principal repayments, Fletcher Building businesses generated trading cash flows of $475 million compared to $462 million in FY22. Resulting in the company’s balance sheet remaining strong with $1.4 billion in liquidity. “The board has approved a fully imputed and unfranked final dividend for the year ended June 30, 2023 of 16 cents per share to be paid on October 5, 2023. Combined with the 18 cents per share interim dividend, this brings the total dividend to 34 cents per share for the FY23 year.” “Looking forward to FY24, we expect some further tightening in our overall volumes, so our focus remains on strong customer performance, cost control and pricing disciplines across our businesses. We have shown we are well equipped to continue performing solidly through the cycle,” Mr Taylor said. “We also continue to look beyond the cycle and are now well into our $800 million growth investment program for the period FY23-FY26. Identified opportunities have been assessed against robust criteria including exceeding our ROFE target rates of 15 per cent. These include the Laminex Taupo wood panels plant, Comfortech insulation, a new frame and truss plant, and the acquisitions of Tumu and Waipapa Timber. These will progressively mature over the coming couple of years and by FY27 we would expect to see a full run-rate EBIT uplift of approximately $120 million to our underlying earnings base,” Mr Taylor said. Fletcher Building’s $400 million investment in Winstone Wallboards GIB® plasterboard manufacturing and distribution facility in Tauranga has now commenced production and will be fully operational by the end of October. The new plant’s state-of-the-art technology delivers more production capacity allowing for product innovation and future growth. “Reflecting on all we have accomplished over the past year, I am pleased with the way our people have continued to show their resilience, innovative spirit and commitment to supporting our customers and each other. I also wish to acknowledge and thank our shareholders, customers, and suppliers for their continued support,” Mr Taylor concluded. New Zealand’s WIDE Trust has announced Rachel Millar as the latest recipient of a Best Practice Study Tour grant. Ms Millar works as the Environmental Manager for the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) and the Forest Growers Levy Trust (FGLT), engaging in critical environmental matters on behalf of forest owners, while promoting connections between the forestry industry and government agencies. This grant will enable Ms Millar to embark on an international journey, delving into cutting-edge practices and innovations in the forestry and wood processing industries, reported Timberbiz. Her dedication is highlighted by her co-ordination of the FOA submission to the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use

OCTOBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 15 BCITO assists neurodiverse learners in building and construction Neurodiverse learners within the building and construction sector will be offered more help to complete their apprenticeships, thanks to a new partnership between the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) and Ako Aotearoa. It is estimated that 10 per cent of New Zealanders struggle with dyslexia, while at least five per cent have related neurodiverse conditions. BCITO Interim Operations Lead Greg Durkin said the organisation wants to make sure these people feel like a career in the trades is a viable and attainable objective. “We want Kiwis who struggle with dyslexia or other neurodiverse conditions to know they are not alone. We also want them to know that their condition does not have to be a barrier to taking part in their apprenticeship – there is support out there.” The support is a result of an eightyear program in workforce development, which identified that more help was required for neurodiverse learners and their employers. BCITO has partnered with Ako Aotearoa in an effort to provide that help. Ako Aotearoa is a government-funded organisation committed to supporting New Zealand’s tertiary sector teachers, trainers, and educators. “By celebrating neurodiversity within the industry, BCITO hopes to transform perceptions in the sector. Partnering with Ako Aotearoa, our aim is to help educate and inform employers about the benefits of working with neurodiverse people, as well as providing learners with the tools needed to succeed,” said Mr Durkin. BCITO has also created an online resource page for employers, which includes information and resources to help neurodiverse staff flourish. Ako Aotearoa Professional Learning and Development Consultant Dr Damon Whitten believes that employees who welcome neurodiverse learners will reap the dividends. “If you can support them over their first year of their apprenticeship, they will go on to achieve amazing things and become some of the best people in the industry,” said Dr Whitten. To further assist apprentices and training advisors who live with dyslexia, BCITO has provided C-Pen readers, which scan and read words aloud in a natural voice and can define them without requiring an internet connection. “The C-Pen is a valuable tool. I have introduced it to several of my apprentices with dyslexia, who have had a massive jump in self-confidence,” BCITO Training Advisor Rhys Williams told Building Today. “It has really helped people who would have otherwise fallen through the gaps.” Dyslexia is a lifelong learning difference that affects reading, writing, and spelling. It may also impact time management and short-term memory. However, people with dyslexia are often strong at problem-solving and high-level conceptualisation which are essential skills for people working in the construction industry. Bridging the gaps to work with their strengths is expected to benefit the industry significantly while also providing jobs and autonomy for neurodiverse learners. in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne and Wairoa – demonstrating her commitment to developing comprehensive solutions for managing environmental impacts. Ms Millar’s application to the WIDE Trust for a Best Practice Study Tour grant was driven by a compelling business case that revolved around two key study themes. The first key study theme centres on solutions for woody debris and sediment management, directly tied to the outcomes of the Ministerial Inquiry. Ms Millar seeks to gain insights from international counterparts who have effectively managed similar environmental challenges. Her goal is to bolster the forestry sector’s response to the inquiry’s recommendations and ensure evidence-based decisions lead to optimal outcomes for both the industry, New Zealand’s taiao (environment) and the affected communities. The second key study theme focuses on addressing the social licence crisis currently faced by New Zealand’s forestry sector following Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle. This crisis underscores the importance of enhancing public perception and navigating backlash related to environmental impacts. Ms Millar aims to equip the forestry sector with the tools needed to regain public trust and build a stronger social licence to operate by exploring successful strategies employed by other nations. Ms Millar’s study tour will include the Pacific Northwest and the southeast of the United States, Tasmania, Chile and Brazil. Applications for a Best Practice Study Tour grant remain permanently open, which provides rare opportunities for others to apply and follow in Ms Millar’s footsteps. To apply for a Best Practice Study Tour visit: www.widetrust.org.nz

TIMBER UPDATE NTHA leader wins New South Wales Trainer of the Year International Sustainable Forestry Coalition launch The National Timber and Hardware Association (NTHA) is thrilled to announce that its Senior Trainer, Colin Taranto has won the State Award for VET (Vocational Education and Training) Trainer of the Year at the 2023 New South Wales Training Awards. Colin is from the Mid North Coast region in Northern New South Wales, an area surrounded by rich rural farmland and known for its robust timber industry. Colin’s achievements reflect his excellence and highlight the strength and expertise of the local region's workforce. This outstanding recognition underscores Colin's significant impact on the timber and hardware industry through his dedicated delivery of qualifications in Timber Frame or Truss Manufacturing and Timber Systems Design at both the Certificate III and Certificate IV levels, according to the NTHA. Colin brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his role as a trainer, with an impressive career spanning 25 years in Frame and Truss and 13 years in Technical Market Development/Sales with timber manufacturers and wholesalers. Colin’s motivation to become a trainer stems from his desire to give back to an industry that has been an integral part of his life for as long as he can remember. His mission is to address the significant skills shortage facing the industry by encouraging and developing local talent, through his practical expertise and real-world experiences, empowering trainees to gain a broader understanding of the industry and the people within it, the NTHA recently reported. "I wanted to give back to an industry that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. By encouraging and developing local talent, I aim to address the significant skills shortage our industry is facing. Sharing my practical expertise and experiences allows trainees to gain a broader understanding of the industry and the people within it," Mr Taranto said. David Little, Chief Executive Officer of NTHA, said, "Colin is a perfect example of everything a VET trainer should be. He is a well-respected industry professional who left the timber workplace to give something back to the industry he loves. His dedication, practical expertise, and passion for nurturing local talent have made a significant impact in many, many young lives. We extend our warmest congratulations to Colin and wish him the best as he competes at the national level." Colin's journey now takes him to the national stage, as he represents New South Wales at the prestigious Australian Training Awards, which showcase the best practices in vocational education and training nationwide. His accomplishments thus far and his commitment to excellence make him an exemplary candidate for this coveted recognition. For more on NTHA Training and to have Colin visit your New South Wales store go to: www.ntha.com.au The urgent call to action on climate change, biodiversity loss, and reducing emissions by halting and reversing deforestation has prompted some of the world’s largest forestry companies to launch a new initiative. The group is known as the International Sustainable Forestry Coalition (ISFC) and includes founding members Dasos Capital, F&W Forestry, Gresham House, Marubeni, Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui), New Forests, Oji Holdings Corporation, Rayonier, Stora Enso and UPM. These companies collectively manage almost nine million hectares of forests in 27 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, France, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. Former Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton, now based in London, is the Executive Director of the new body and the convening Chairman is Dr David Brand who founded New Forests in 2005 and is currently Chair of New Forests’ Board of Directors and the Chair of the company’s Investment Committee. “ISFC’s mission is to advocate for increasing the global provision of renewable materials in the context of a circular bioeconomy; supporting growth that is compatible with climate and nature recovery imperatives;

OCTOBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 17 embedding science-based principles in policy and incentives; and increasing benefits to rural and Indigenous Peoples,” Mr Hampton said. “The ISFC is committed to help solve the challenges laid out in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, being progressed by the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP). The private forestry sector is a vital partner to mobilise capital at the scale required to deliver on these ambitions and the applicable United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.” Dr Brand said that for the forestry sector to play a greater role in the overarching sustainability transition it needs to engage more directly with the Climate Change and Biodiversity COPs. This includes engaging with initiatives such as the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership and other policy processes related to the conservation and sustainable management of forests. “There is an expectation that the forestry sector needs to grow and contribute to a transition to greater use of sustainable, renewable, naturally decomposable materials in society; to a sustainable built environment; and to thriving rural communities,” he said. “This will require expanded investment, but also an approach that creates and perpetuates landscapes which effectively balance conservation and production functions.” Current Acting Chief Executive Officer of the AFPA, Natasha Sikman welcomed the launch of the new coalition and congratulated Mr Hampton on his role as ISFC’s new Executive Director. “The advocacy of this new body will be critical to promote and position the role of global sustainable forestry in solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. AFPA will liaise with the ISFC in its mission to ensure global leaders seriously take into consideration the global forestry sector’s contribution to a sustainable global society. “AFPA will ensure that our engagement complements the strategic advocacy and policy work we undertake on behalf of our members in Australia to increase our own sustainable forest products sector, which is critical for local jobs, our economy as it transitions to a low carbon bioeconomy, and the environment,” Ms Sikman said. “Analysis from the ISFC confirms AFPA’s strong advocacy to maintain and grow domestic fibre supplies – both hardwood and softwood – in the face of what will be soaring global demand due to the world’s pivot to the bioeconomy.” The ISFC suggests semi-natural managed forestry will need to continue to improve productivity and 40 million additional hectares of plantations will be required around the world to be planted on lower production farmland. “This is another proof point that Australia must become more selfsufficient in our timber production to boost sovereign capability and safeguard against international volatility,” Ms Sikman said. “We expect the ISFC to play an important role in raising international awareness about the work that will be needed in solving the challenges laid out in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use while promoting the important role of sustainable forestry.” “The clear need for an international global single voice was identified at COP27 and the AFPA Board is pleased it could provide the modest funding support needed to make this organisation a reality as the world seeks to deliver on its ambitious climate targets in order to keep the Paris Agreement 1.50 alive,” Ms Sikman concluded. The ISFC will undertake activities during New York Climate Week and at COP28 in Dubai.

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