Canadian Tire Real Estate Ltd.

Sustainable practices and strong values guide development at Canadian Tire. Frank Barry says he works for a company that is more than just a retailer – it’s a Canadian icon. “There’s a great sense of loyalty among Canadians toward Canadian Tire,” he says. “I sometimes say, in jest, that there are three things that define and identify us in Canada: hockey, Tim Hortons (coffee shop) and Canadian Tire.”

As vice president of design and construction for Canadian Tire Real Estate Ltd., the company’s development arm, Barry oversees construction and expansion plans for the retail giant. With 485 locations across Canada, Canadian Tire is the country’s largest homegrown retailer.

In addition to its core auto service and auto part business, Canadian Tire offers tools and hardware, outdoor items, sporting equipment, electronics, seasonal items, kitchen and bath items, and other goods.

“Over its 89-year history, Canadian Tire has grown from offering auto service and auto parts to just about every product that touches our daily lives.” Barry says. “We encompass fixing, living, playing and driving.”

Construction Operations

Canadian Tire acquires the land for, designs, and manages construction on new construction projects as well as expansions and renovations of existing stores. The retailer averages about 25 projects a year ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 square feet each in size.

The company competitively tenders its construction projects to a core group of pre-qualified Canadian general contractors across the various regions of the country. It also retains architectural, mechanical and electrical firms to engineer and help oversee projects.

“In their respective areas, the consultants are probably the leading firms in Canada,” he adds. “Our relationships with them are very collaborative  … they become part of the team.”

Canadian Tire’s relationship with general contractors is also positive. “Many of the contractors have done work with us before and know our standards, the schedule expectations, our project managers and, of course, our overall expectations.

“Our relationships with contractors are above-board, fair and respectful.”

Green Commitment

The company’s newest construction and renovation projects have a common goal of energy efficiency. “In 2006, we began developing more energy-efficient buildings. We set a goal to decrease their energy consumption by 50 percent before 2020,” Barry says. “We’ve actually achieved that goal in 2011 … every store we’re building now incorporates energy efficient techniques and we’ve set new goals for the 2020 buildings.”

In 2011 Canadian Tire will open the first of its next generation buildings which will be 100 percent more energy efficient than those built in 2006. Some of the features that contribute to the increased efficiency include: LED lighting for the parking lot, office and staff areas and illuminated signs. Energy inefficient high intensity discharge lighting in retail areas have been replaced with high performance 28 watt t8 fluorescent lighting incorporating daylight harvesting near window and the entrance and, interestingly, installed on a 45-degree angle across the retail floor. This not only cuts down on the number of fixtures required but also results in a more even light down the aisles. The normal rooftop units that incorporate heating, ventilation and air cooling has been replaced by individual systems – hydronic heating combined with high efficiency condensing boilers; Energy Recovery Ventilators for retail floor and service centre with improved ventilation effectiveness; and separate, smaller and fewer air cooling units.

Numerous other approaches ranging from central energy management systems to motion detectors for lighting control in office and warehouse areas have been incorporated. All of this was accomplished without adding increased cost to the overall construction cost.

Back in 2008, Canadian Tire introduced the “smart store,” which is designed to improve productivity for the customer by reallocating space to traffic-driving sections of the store.

As of the end of 2010, 103 older-format stores have been converted into smart stores which increasingly include technologies that contribute to the company’s overall energy efficiency, Barry says.

Some of the projects are built to LEED standards, with the certification level differing by project. “We’re building a shopping center in Vancouver now that is LEED Gold, and have other projects that are LEED Silver certified,” Barry says. “We selectively decide which projects we will build to which level, often with guidance from the municipalities.

More than 200 Canadian Tire retail stores are equipped with computer-based Central Energy Management (CEM) technology. CEM systems automate and control stores’ energy needs such as temperature and lighting adjustments. Canadian Tire expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 7,629 metric tonnes, the company says.

A commitment to sustainability extends throughout the company’s operations. Canadian Tire’s business sustainability strategy has three goals:

  • To profitably grow business without increasing the net carbon footprint of the economy
  • To eliminate unnecessary packaging while sending zero waste to landfills
  • To provide innovative products and services that satisfy today’s customers needs without compromising the needs of future generations.

The company’s business sustainability practices include reporting sustainability metrics each quarter,expanding its Blue Planet® brand to include products such as car mats made from recycled tires, and partnering with utility companies and community and government organizations to promote the use of environmentally friendly products.

Canadian Tire also employs transportation practices that increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include using railways to ship products to stores, replacing its vehicle fleet with new trucks that feature low-emission diesel engines, and testing long-combination vehicles in a pilot program with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

Long-combination vehicles consist of two 53-foot containers attached to one truck in tandem; these vehicle reduce fossil fuel consumption by an estimated 33 percent, the company says.

Other partnership efforts include environmental stewardship programs for products such as used tires, batteries, oil, pesticide containers, leftover paint and electronics.

The company has recycled more than 4,000 tons of cardboard, plastic and metal and recycled roughly 13 million pounds of lead acid batteries since 2007, it says.

Achieving Results

Barry has more than 30 years of experience in retail design, planning and construction management. Before joining Canadian Tire, he worked as vice president of store planning and construction for Canadian food retailer Sobey’s from 1995 to 2000; before that, he worked in a similar capacity for Loblaws.

“My leadership style is results driven; the core of it is getting the job done and doing so innovatively,” according to Barry. “Part of my approach is conceptualizing and strategizing how to build better buildings and make them more energy efficient and cost effective, and the other part is me is about putting teams together and getting things done.”

In addition to a gift for visualization, Barry’s leadership approach is also largely influenced by his own experiences.

“I’ve had formal mentors, people who have shown me how to negotiate and deal with ambiguities and complexities and tie everything together,” he says. “I think everybody I’ve ever dealt with has taught me something or shown me something; I think we’re all influenced by everyone around us.”

Guiding Values
Brothers J. William Billes and Alfred J. Billes opened the first Canadian Tire store in Toronto in 1922 as an auto parts seller. Barry says the company has since grown “as Canada has grown,” while still keeping its core strengths intact.

“The store’s key strength is that it is uniquely Canadian; a Canadian icon in its own right,” he says. While Canadian Tire is today a publically traded company, Barry says it retains the family-based values on which it was founded.

“To a certain extent, we still have the flavor of being a family business and having a core set of social values, but we’re also a very adaptable, performance-driven organization and the largest retailer in Canada,” Barry says.

Corporate citizenship and social responsibility are among the company’s top values, according to Canadian Tire.

“Doing the right thing for our employees, customers, shareholders, business partners and other stakeholders has been a guiding principle for Canadian Tire throughout our 88-year history,” the company says.

“As we build for the future, we are determined to keep sight of society’s evolving expectations of responsible business practices,” it continues.     “Our corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda is a comprehensive program to advance our economic, social and environmental performance in a way that benefits all of our stakeholders.”

All Canadian Tire employees are guided by a set of ethical business practice principles including:

  • complying with applicable laws, regulations, company policies and procedures
  • respecting others
  • avoiding conflicts of interest
  • conducting duties and business relationships in an honest, fair and responsible manner
  • sustaining a culture in which ethical conduct is valued and recognized
  • maintaining safe work environments
  • sustaining responsible trading practices with all suppliers to promote decent, legal and humane working conditions
  • fostering a business environment that encourages open communication
  • providing full disclosure of  information to the public.Signature Causes

The company donates time and money to a number of causes, in particular the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

Its signature program, Canadian Tire Jumpstart, has helped more than 300,000 financially disadvantaged children participate in sport and recreation programs since its launch in 2005.

With more than 300 local chapters, Jumpstart helps families cover registration, equipment and transportation costs.

The organization discretely works with more than 700 organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and YMCA-YWCA to identify children who might benefit from the program, the company says.

Canadian Tire receives donations and sponsorships to fund the program, in addition to running a number of local events and in store fundraisers across its affiliates.

“Canadian Tire Jumpstart is dedicated to removing barriers, so children can participate in organized sport and recreation,” the company says. “We see it as equipping kids for life, because participation in organized sport and recreation increases a child’s chance for success in life.”

Employees are also encouraged to participate in volunteer activities and are offered a payroll deduction program to facilitate donations to Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, the company says.

Canadian Tire is also a member of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, a national association of businesses working to integrate financial, social and environmental performance into their operations, the company adds.

The company is routinely recognized as one of Canada’s best companies to work for.

“We’re an organization that’s very collaborative in its makeup, consensus-driven, results oriented and fun to work with,” Barry says.

Recent national awards include the “Energy Efficiency Champion” Award through the New Brunswick Premier’s Awards for Energy Efficiency program.

“The award recognizes Canadian Tire as a retailer that, through its business practices or operations in New Brunswick, is a leading advocate within the retail sector for energy efficiency in the province,” the company says.

Canadian Tire also earned two 2009 Excellence in Retailing Awards from the Retail Council of Canada. Canadian Tire Retail was presented with the Retail Store Design Award – Large Chain, and Mark’s Work Wearhouse won the Multi-Channel Retailing Award.

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