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File photo of a Home Hardware outlet in Miramichi.

FedEx Express is going after a bigger piece of the burgeoning online shopping market by expanding its retail presence in Canada through a deal with Home Hardware Stores Ltd.

Federal Express Canada Ltd. says it has reached an agreement with Home Hardware that will allow the home-improvement chain's dealer-owners to house full-service FedEx shipping centres within their stores.

FedEx describes the deal as its "most comprehensive Canadian retail expansion in the company's history."

"The rise in e-commerce has presented both Home Hardware and FedEx Express Canada an opportunity to enhance our respective business models," said FedEx Express Canada president Lisa Lisson.

"Our alliance with Home Hardware expands our retail footprint across Canada, giving online shoppers more points-of-access options to meet their shopping needs."

FedEx says e-commerce is the biggest single force in the global economy; the company projects in its 2013 annual report that e-commerce will reach $1-trillion (U.S.) by 2016.

Last November, FedEx Express Canada estimated that 60 per cent of Canadians would use some form of online shopping for the 2013 holiday season.

To better tap into this market, transportation companies must offer more proximate points-of-access options for drop-off and pick-up services, FedEx Express Canada said in a news release Wednesday.

Home Hardware has 1,100 stores across Canada.

"This alliance will bring more traffic into our stores as well as increase convenience for all customers," said Home Hardware Stores Ltd. president and chief executive officer Paul Straus.

The new shipping centres are to be rolled out across Canada in stages throughout the year.

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