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News

June 22, 2018

April Wholesales Sales Remain Flat

Wholesale sales edged up 0.1 per cent to $63.1 billion in April. Sales were up in three of seven subsectors, accounting for 54 per cent of total wholesale sales, says Statistics Canada. Increases in the machinery, equipment, and supplies and the food subsectors were almost completely offset by declines in the motor vehicle and parts subsector. In volume terms, wholesale sales were unchanged at $54.8 billion. Wholesale sales in the personal and household goods subsector increased 1.5 per cent to a record $8.9 billion. Sales were up in four of six industries, led by the home entertainment equipment and household appliance industry (six per cent). Wholesale sales rose in seven provinces led by British Columbia and Quebec. Sales declined 0.7 per cent to $32.6 billion in Ontario, the second decline in three months. Wholesale inventories edged up 0.1 per cent to $82.6 billion, the first increase in three months. Inventories in the building material and supplies subsector were up 1.4 per cent, a second consecutive increase. Higher inventories were recorded in all three industries, led by the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (2.1 per cent).


BILD Sets Four-point Plan For Sustainable Housing

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) has set out a four-point plan on how municipalities can help make housing more affordable and increase supply. The plan shows how municipalities can take a leadership role by making sure government fees, taxes, and charges on new homes are fair and equitable; by funding and building critical infrastructure; cutting red tape, and adopting a standard of service excellence for building permits and inspections in order to speed up building and renovations. The mayors of Vaughan and Mississauga, ON, and Toronto, ON’s deputy mayor signed a ‘Housing Pledge’ acknowledging that housing is an issue that must be addressed and that they are committed to engaging in a dialogue with government partners and the development community to expand the amount and types of housing options that are available.


Quebec Stores Join Home Hardware

Home Hardware Stores Limited has more than doubled last year’s growth of Quebec store conversions in the first half of 2018. With 133 stores in the province, the retailer has added eight stores this year including stores from Groupe Turcotte, a large Quebec home improvement and garden centre retailer. Stores joining the Home Hardware banner are Les Grands Jardins de Laval in Laval; Les Vivaces Plus in Blainville; Quincaillerie Côte des Neiges in Montréal; Quincaillerie Latendresse in Pointe-aux-Trembles; Quincaillerie Parc & Bernard in Montréal; L.D. Roy in Sainte-Perpétue; Riopel Centre de Rénovation in Sainte-Adèle; and Nemaska Home Hardware in Nemaska.


Groupe Martel To Acquire BMR Store

Groupe Martel has reached a commercial agreement with BMR Group inc. to acquire the Potvin & Bouchard store in Alma, QC. This will be Groupe Martel’s third BMR store. The company already owns renovation centres in Alma and Saint-Nazaire, QC, and operates the Scierie Martel and Usine Tremblay sawmills and the Structures Martel wooden structures plant. The store will continue to operate under the Potvin & Bouchard brand.


GE Appliances Canada Warns Of Rising Costs

Given recent market changes in the cost of raw materials, GE Appliances Canada has advised consumers to be prepared for price increases in the large appliance category. The company says the price in raw materials has increased significantly on a global scale, with commodities – including stainless steel, copper, and aluminum – at their highest prices since November 2014. In addition to these rising costs of commodities, pricing across the large appliance category may be further impacted by the new tariffs and regulatory measures enacted by the U.S.


Strong Growth For Ceiling Tiles Forecast

The global ceiling tiles market was valued at approximately US$24.45 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of roughly $50.93 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8 per cent, says a report by Zion Market Research. Growing demand from the construction industry is the main driver behind the growth. The product’s thermal insulation qualities is also a driving factor. The growing demand for recyclable products will also push this category over the forecast period. The products used in the production of ceiling tiles are returned to the manufacturer after use, for recycling. However, fluctuation in prices of raw materials used in the manufacturing of ceiling tiles is expected to curb the growth of the ceiling tiles market. The mineral wool segment dominated the ceiling tiles market in 2017. They are used in various commercial buildings such as hospitals, offices, and retail stores owing to its high fibre tensile strength. They readily absorb moisture and odours. Gypsum accounts for the second largest market share and is expected to grow during the forecast period.


Castle Adds Business Development Manager

Bob Fellows is business development manager for CBS (Commercial Builders Supplies) at Castle Building Centres Group Ltd., effective July 3. He is currently president of the Thermal Insulation Association of Canada and has spent many years in the building material distribution channel.


June 21, 2018

Independent Retailers Strong On Loyalty

Retail spending in North America’s independent retailers in the past 12 months was stronger than the global average and the average transaction value was four per cent higher, says retail management software provider Vend. The company’s first ‘Retail Benchmarks Report’ shows North American independent retailers’ average monthly revenue was on par with the global average and 15 per cent higher than the UK. However, average monthly sales volumes ‒ the number of transactions processed by each store ‒ in North America were 31 per cent less than sales volumes in the UK and 16 per cent lower than in Australia. Vendi says that healthy revenue and spending figures compared to other key markets shows that consumers are still clearly choosing to shop with independent stores. It’s value over volume, which is a testament to the unique products and experiences these retailers provide. Local retailers are also doing a good job of their customer loyalty programs compared to other countries. Some 56 per cent of North American retailers have loyalty enabled in their POS system and they have 23 per cent more customers stored in their database than the global average and well above British and Australian stores.


May U.S. Construction Starts Climb 15 Per Cent

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $783.6 billion, new construction starts in May in the U.S. advanced 15 per cent from April, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase follows a 12 per cent decline in April and shows total construction activity reaching the highest level reported over the past eight months. The lift in May came from substantial gains for non-building construction, up 39 per cent; and non-residential building, up 18 per cent; as both sectors benefitted from the start of several very large projects. Meanwhile, residential building in May held steady with its April pace. Through the first five months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $299.9 billion, down three per cent from the same period a year ago. Residential building in May was $312.8 billion (annual rate), essentially unchanged from its April amount. Multifamily housing in May made a partial 13 per cent rebound after a 20 per cent decline in April. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the 12 months ending May 2018 were up one per cent from the amount reported for the 12 months ending May 2017. The May statistics raised the Dodge Index to 166, compared to April’s reading of 144.


BMO Supports Women Business Owners

BMO Bank of Montreal is advancing $3 billion in capital to women-owned businesses across Canada over the next three years. The announcement builds on the bank’s 2014 commitment of $2 billion in credit for business owners and follows its recent partnering with Carleton University and the Beacon Agency to release ‘Everywhere, Every Day Innovating: Women Entrepreneurs & Innovation.’ The BMO report along with the Canada-U.S. Council for the Advancement of Women has identified access to capital and credit as a significant issue for women entrepreneurs. The BMO study also highlighted the greater need of recognizing women's innovations both in and out of the technology sector. The report included a discussion on funding opportunities for Indigenous female business owners. To continue supporting women entrepreneurs, BMO will be rolling out other initiatives in the coming months including workshops and an online resource centre for women business owners.


MVP Lighting Represents Liteline

Agent MVP Lighting now represents Liteline in the Ottawa/Gatineau regions. MVP will work in conjunction with Phil McClachlen & Associates, another Ottawa regional agent for the company.


DaVinci Roofscapes Products Earn CCMC Approval

DaVinci Roofscapes, a manufacturer of composite slate and shake roofing tiles, has received Canadian Construction Materials Centre (CCMC) approval on its full line of roofing products. The approval, which authorizes that the company’s products meet the requirements of the National Building Code of Canada, includes the application of DaVinci products in both new construction and replacement projects. The company’s slate and shake roofing products are manufactured from a composite material made of pure resins, UV and thermal stabilizers, and highly-specialized fire retardant. The tiles are resistant to impact, fire, high winds, mould, algae, fungus, and insects.


PPG Makes Appointments

Amy Ericson is senior vice-president, packaging coatings at PPG, effective July 16. She joins PPG from SUEZ Chemical Monitoring and Solutions, where she served as president. Ken West, current vice-president, packaging coatings, will become general manager, global business services, effective August 1.


June 20, 2018

Consumers Want Quick & Personal Service

Traditional shopping experiences are no longer enough for consumers. They want every interaction from brands and retailers to be quick, personalized, and informative whenever and wherever they are, finds a report by digital services and solutions provider Avionos. These expectations are driving businesses to transform their digital landscapes as a means to stay competitive. “Amazon has changed the game, particularly in the way that it has raised the bar for customer expectations,” says Scott Webb, president of Avionos. “This has caused retailers to revamp their omnichannel strategies and focus on offering experience-driven commerce that provides engaging content, personalized experiences, and shoppable moments across all channels.” The report also shows that 66 per cent of consumers begin their search for a product on Google or Amazon. Social media is also an active commerce channel, influencers or not. Sixty per cent of consumers have never purchased a product promoted by a celebrity or social influencer, but more than half of consumers (55 per cent) have made a purchase through a social media channel, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. However, physical retail is still relevant, as the majority of customers (63 per cent) prefer to purchase big-ticket items in a store, with 52 per cent of those shoppers saying they prefer to research these products on desktop or mobile devices.


REP Joins Sexton Group

Kingston, ON-based REP Windows & Doors has joined Sexton Group. Founded in 1992, the company recently moved to a larger building to support and continue its growth. REP Windows & Doors offers a range of Canadian-made products.


Lowe's Canada Donates To Kids Charities

Lowe's Canada has donated $593,631 to the Children's Miracle Network and Opération Enfant Soleil organizations, following a successful nationwide fundraising campaign. From April 6 to May 21, Lowe's Canada corporate stores and affiliated dealers across Canada took part in an extensive fundraising campaign. Besides collecting donations at checkout, many stores organized events where proceeds went to the charities, ranging from employee breakfasts to benefit barbecues, escape games, and more. Part of the donated amount also comes from a corporate donation made by the RONA banner (the official building materials provider for Maison Enfant Soleil signee Bonneville) and from the sale of tickets for Maison Enfant Soleil signee Bonneville in RONA and Réno-Dépôt stores in Quebec. Opération Enfant Soleil is a non-profit organization that raises funds to develop high-quality pediatrics and to contribute to various projects for all the children in Quebec.


Menards Ranks Highest Of U.S. Home Improvement Retailers

Menards ranks highest in customer satisfaction among U.S. home improvement retailers for the first time and performs particularly well in merchandise, price, and sales and promotions factors, says the ‘J.D. Power 2018 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study.’ Ace Hardware ranks second, performing highest in staff and service, and Lowe’s ranks third, performing highest in merchandise and store facility. The study measures customer satisfaction with home improvement retailers by examining merchandise; price; sales and promotions; staff and service; and store facility.


HDI Purchases U.S. Distribution Assets

British Columbia-based Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) has, through its subsidiary Rugby Holdings LLC, purchased certain of the distribution assets of Atlanta Hardwood Corporation. The distribution assets include Hardwoods of Atlanta, LLC, Hardwoods of North Georgia, and Hardwoods of Alabama, LLC, operating under the trade name Hardwoods Incorporated. HDI did not acquire any of the lumber manufacturing operations of Atlanta Hardwood Corporation. HDI will consolidate the Georgia distribution operations into its existing Atlanta and Suwanee distribution facilities and will assume the Hardwoods Incorporated distribution facility in Alabama. The company says the acquired operations represent a strategic fit of complementary product lines and suppliers with minimal customer overlap. The transaction is expected to add US$13 million in new sales and will operate under the company's Rugby brand.


Vaughan & Bushnell Acquires Dasco

Hand tool manufacturer Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing Co. has acquired substantially all the assets of Dasco Pro, Inc., a producer of chisels and punches. Illinois-based Dasco has been forging and selling tools since 1922 and offers a broad range of forged hand tools for construction professionals, home improvement enthusiasts, and hobbyists. Dasco’s products will continue to be sold by Vaughan under the Dasco trade name.


June 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Slide

Manufacturing sales fell 1.3 per cent to $56.2 billion in April, following two consecutive monthly increases, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 10 of 21 industries, representing 49.6 per cent of the manufacturing sector. Sales in the and coal products and transportation equipment industries accounted for much of the decrease in April. Excluding the petroleum and coal products and transportation equipment industries, manufacturing sales rose 0.4 per cent. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales in volumes declined 1.9 per cent. In April, sales were up in 11 industries, with the largest increases in the primary metal manufacturing (+3.8 per cent) and food products (+1.9 per cent) industries. Sales were down in six provinces, led by Quebec and Alberta, while Saskatchewan posted the largest monthly increase. As well, inventory levels rose 2.2 per cent in April to $81.2 billion, a seventh consecutive monthly increase.


Policies Continue To Affect Housing Market

Housing market fundamentals remain strong in many parts of the country. Nonetheless, many housing markets continue to struggle in the face of policy headwinds, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The new mortgage stress test announced last October had been expected to cause homebuyers to rush purchases in advance of the new rules coming into effect in January and for the ‘pull-forward’ of sales activity to result in fewer transactions in the first half of 2018. Evidence suggests the policy response was stronger than expected, with seasonally adjusted national home sales last December having surged to the highest level ever recorded before dropping sharply in early 2018. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales figures for March, April, and May are typically among the most active months in any given year. Combined sales fell to a nine-year low for the three-month period. The seasonally adjusted trend suggests sales momentum has not yet begun to rally. Interest rates are widely expected to rise further this year and next. However, CREA says home sales activity is nonetheless still expected to strengthen modestly in the second half of 2018 as housing market uncertainty diminishes.


Decades-old Challenges Persist In U.S. Housing Market

The U.S. national homeownership rate in 2017 was 63.9 per cent, very close to the 64 per cent rate in the late 1980s when the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies first released its ‘State of the Nation’s Housing’ report. At the same time, the number of Americans burdened by housing costs has risen by nearly 14 million households over the last 30 years, the number of households with student loan debt has nearly doubled, and the gap between black and white homeownership has widened. The report shows that growing income inequality has helped drive the increase in cost-burdened households. The increases in prices and rents combined with a growing lack of subsidies for low-income households mean that nearly a third of all households (38.1 million) paid more than 30 per cent of their incomes for housing in 2016, the widely-accepted metric for affordability. These include 20.8 million renters (47 per cent) and of these, 11 million pay more than half their income for housing. While these figures are down slightly from their peak during the recession, they are significantly higher than in previous decades. The report also points to constraints in the supply of new housing, which is helping fuel affordability challenges. Construction started on 1.2 million new housing units in 2017, up slightly from 2016, with the entire increase coming from single-family starts.


TASK TOOLS Celebrates 50 Years

TASK TOOLS is celebrating 50 years of selling hand tools, power tool accessories, abrasives, and worksite accessories throughout North America. To celebrate this milestone, the company launched a new line of ballistics work gear, a line of Starlock oscillating accessories, and an expanded assortment of European-made drill bits. The company is also running a series of contests and giveaways through social media that will run through to the end of the year. TASK TOOLS is a family owned and operated business run by Craig Caplan, chief executive officer. He succeeded his father, Michael Caplan in 2008 and has continued to grow the company’s network to over 2,000 dealers with a product offering of more than 2,500 professional-grade tools.


Tom Bell Joins Sexton

Tom Bell is business development manager, western Canada, at Sexton Group Ltd. He has more than 30 years of experience in the Canadian building products industry in wholesales, distribution, buying group, and retail environments, most recently as an independent retailer with Jeni’s Food and Hardware in LaSalle, MB.


Rashid Keynote Speaker At IDS Vancouver

Award-winning designer Karim Rashid will be the keynote speaker at the Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver. IDS will also release its first published book, ‘Currents: Contemporary Pacific Northwest Design’ at this year’s show. The weeklong fair runs from September 18 to 23 in Vancouver, ON. For more information, visit IDS Vancouver


June 18, 2018

Canadian Home Sales At Five-year Low      

National home sales edged down 0.1 per cent from April to May, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the lowest level for national sales activity in more than five years. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 16.2 per cent from May 2017. Slightly more than half of all local housing markets reported fewer sales in May compared to April, led by the Okanagan region, Chilliwack, and the Fraser Valley in BC, together with the Durham region in Ontario and Quebec City, QC. Declines in activity were offset by gains in Calgary, AB, and Ontario regions including Thunder Bay, Brantford, London and St. Thomas, Oakville-Milton, and Quinte. A small increase in the greater Toronto area, ON, sales also supported the national tally. CREA says the stress-test that came into effect this year for homebuyers with more than a 20 per cent down payment continues to suppress sales activity. The number of newly-listed homes rose 5.1 per cent in May, but remained below year-ago levels. There were 5.7 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2018. While this marks a three-year high for the measure, it remains near the long-term average of 5.2 months.


NLBMDA Leads Move To Change Softwood Agreement

Members (171 of 435) of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary, and Robert Lighthizer, ambassador, the U.S. trade representative, asking that the U.S. return to the negotiating table with Canada and redouble efforts to reach a new softwood lumber agreement, says the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMA). In fact, NLBMDA led the way in building support for the letter because lumber prices have reached record highs. It says the Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite price has increased 46 per cent and the Random Lengths Structural Panel composite price has increased 42 per cent in the past year. Moreover, the Producer Price Index published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that domestic softwood lumber prices have increased 22 per cent since the softwood lumber investigation started in December 2016. NLBMDA supports reaching an agreement on the longstanding U.S./Canada softwood lumber dispute that brings stability and predictability to the pricing and availability of softwood lumber without the imposition of duties.


Home Depot To Invest In Supply Chain

The Home Depot is investing $1.2 billion into its supply chain over the next five years in an effort to upgrade its online shopping capabilities as eCommerce continues to dominate the way that consumers shop. The retailer intends to bring next-day deliveries to 90 per cent of customers across the U.S. by 2022 by investing in 170 local distribution facilities. Those locations will include centres to facilitate same-day or next-day delivery of some products to customers’ homes and job sites. Also, 100 local hubs will allow for the consolidation of bulky products, such as appliances and patio furniture, that will be delivered directly to consumers. Online orders accounted for 6.7 per cent of the retailer’s $100.9 billion in sales in 2017, an increase of 21 per cent over the year before. About 45 per cent of online orders are picked up inside stores and the retailer has installed self-service lockers at the front of some stores to speed up order retrieval.


MSI Launches AR Tool

Flooring, wall, and countertop surfaces distributor M S International, Inc. (MSI) has launched an augmented reality (AR) feature on its website. Users can now use the tool on a mobile device to see any of MSI’s flooring products on the floor of their choice. Users do not have to download an app, nor do they need to select the corners of the surface they want to alter ‒ instead, the tool automatically detects the space. Once the image is rendered, the user has options such as selecting a different sized tile, rotating the tile, or changing to another product, look, colour, or material type. This way, they can compare how several different tiles may look in the same room.


WORX Launches Battery Giveaway

WORX Canada has launched its ‘Kick-off to Summer’ event to celebrate its customers. To commemorate the event, the company is sending a free 20V MAX Lithium 2.0 Ah Battery to Canadian customers for qualified purchases made at participating retailers in the month of June. The WORX 20V MAX Lithium Battery is the anchor to the company’s 20V Power Share program which allows users to the power source in more than 25 lawn and garden and DIY tools.


Quebec Launches Low Income Renovation Grant

The Société d'habitation du Québec (SHQ) has launched a the RénoRégion program that aims to financially help low-income or low-income homeowners living in rural areas in Quebec to perform work to correct major defects in their homes. The program is for homeowners who live in an eligible territory and have one or more major deficiencies. This grant may be up to 95 per cent of the cost of the eligible work, but not more than $ 12,000. As well, the dwelling must require work of at least $ 2,000 to correct one or more major defects and the work must be carried out by a qualified contractor. The program applies to all municipalities with less than 15,000 inhabitants or located in the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine region. For municipalities with 15,000 or more inhabitants, the program is applicable to areas not served by a water or sewer system. For more information, visit RénoRégion


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