RONA versus Lowe's: Quebec resists U.S. take-over of Canada

What’s so special about Rona? Objections to Lowe’s takeover bid fuelled by retailer’s Quebec roots. Does Canadian economic nationalism shine more in Quebec? Has Quebec become the last substantive organized resistance to U.S. take-over?

TORONTO — Future Shop, Tim Hortons, and even Canada’s oldest company, Hudson’s Bay Co., were bought up by U.S. interests with no particular objections from shareholders and the public alike — so what makes Rona Inc. different?

Indeed, during the decade that Wendy’s International Inc. owned Tim Hortons, many Canadians were unaware it was owned by the fast food giant, and HBC has continued to proudly tout its fur trading heritage and Canadian identity under its successive U.S. owners.

The Quebec public tends to buy in favour of Quebec-made products “Quebec makes this a difference,” said Wendy Evans, founder of Toronto-based Evans and Co. Consultants Inc., who has for years followed the steady incursion of U.S. retailers into Canada. She estimates that by 2015, 70% of Canadian retail will be owned by foreign interests.

“Quebec is more nationalistic than the rest of Canada, and traditionally they have been quite successful with their retailers, and probably more aggressive in their retailers going to the States,” she said, pointing to the large-scale rollout of convenience chain Alimentation Couche-Tard and Aldo shoe stores in the U.S.

“The Quebec public tends to buy in favour of Quebec-made products.”

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