Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

Retailers, Wholesalers, and Manufacturers of Hardware, Building Supplies, Kitchen & Bath, Paint & Decorating, Lawn & Garden, and Other Allied Products.


September 20, 2019

Canadians Love Their Small Business Owners

Canadians have a very positive view of business owners, with 76 per cent saying they have a positive opinion of entrepreneurs, says a study by BDC to celebrate BDC Small Business Week 2019. Only one in 10 Canadians had a negative opinion of entrepreneurs while 13 per cent remained neutral. Respondents described business owners as brave, courageous, hardworking, and innovative. Almost half of respondents strongly agree that entrepreneurs are passionate individuals who create wealth and jobs for the community and contribute to economic development. Also, many Canadians consider entrepreneurs as role models for the community and a good proportion respect businesspeople that have suffered a setback. Financial insecurity, stress, and long working hours were cited as the main disadvantages of being an entrepreneur. Self-employed respondents say the lack of benefits is the main disadvantage. The top benefits include the pursuit of one's passion, followed by being your own boss and self-fulfillment. Flexibility was the highest benefit for self-employed respondents.

IKEA Canada Expands Distribution Network

IKEA has opened a 550,000-square-foot customer distribution centre in Kleinburg, ON. In partnership with DHL, which will operate the centre, the location will further enable IKEA to have its products in the right place, closer to its customers, while also providing increased capacity for future growth. The facility will focus on last mile delivery directly to customers' homes and will complement the retailer's four stores and Mississauga, ON, customer distribution centre. Customers served by the Kleinburg centre are expected to see shorter delivery lead times, which will support the retailer's expanded service offering, including new lower pricing for parcel and truck delivery. This is IKEA's fourth distribution centre in Canada.

Weyerhaeuser To Sell Michigan Timberlands

Weyerhaeuser Company will sell its 555,000 acres of Michigan timberlands to Lyme Great Lakes Holding LLC, an affiliate of the Lyme Timber Company LP. "This transaction in our northern region encompasses a diverse mix of hardwood and softwood acres and is part of our ongoing effort to strategically optimize our timberlands portfolio," says Devin W. Stockfish, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser. The team that manages the timberlands will also move to Lyme. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Half Of Global Population Using Internet

More than half of the global population is using the internet in 2019 compared to 24 per cent in 2009, says a report from Euromonitor International. Smartphones are the go-to device for internet access with 50 per cent of the global population using a mobile phone to connect in 2019. Consumers purchased more on mobile phones than any other device for the first time in 2018, spending US$2.7 trillion on products and services. As well, the research says artificial intelligence and the internet of things will be the top two technologies that will impact business over the next five years. Both will lead to improved customer engagement in the near term.

dunnhumby Launches dh Labs To Accelerate Retail Innovation

Customer data science company dunnhumby has launched dunnhumby Labs (dh Labs), an internal accelerator focused on bringing innovative technologies that will expand and advance the company’s current product offerings in the global retail marketplace. The dh Labs team is currently working on a number of products to transform common challenges for retailers and brands. The ‘360 View of the Customer’ is a B2C mobile app that sources behavioural, attitudinal, and lifestyle data directly from verified customers, generating insights for retailers and brands to help them understand their customers’ attitudes and behaviour and better respond to their needs. ‘Speed-of-Thought Insights’ is an analytical engine that calculates customer-based metrics, such as household penetration. Results are available in milliseconds. An automated machine-learning platform is focused on solving complex retail challenges, such as understanding customer churn and predicting propensity to purchase and in what channel (i.e. instore or online), giving retailers deeper insights and trends.

Kingfisher Sales Slide

British multinational retailer Kingfisher plc had sales of £5,997 million for the first six months of its 2019/20 year, a 1.4 per cent decrease over sales of £6,080 million for the first six months of its 2018/29 year. Gross margin was 37 per cent compared to 36.4 per cent year-over-year. Retail profit was £466 million for the six months compared to £490 million last year, a decrease of 4.8 per cent.

September 19, 2019

Manufacturing Sales Slide

Manufacturing sales decreased 1.3 per cent to $57.2 billion in July, following a 1.4 per cent decline in June, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 11 industries, representing 66.8 per cent of total manufacturing sales. The decline was mainly due to lower sales in the primary metal and motor vehicle industries. The food industry posted the largest gain. Manufacturing sales in constant dollars were down 1.6 per cent, indicating that a lower volume of manufacturing products was sold. Sales were down in five provinces, led by Ontario and Alberta. Nova Scotia reported the largest gain.

BMR Opens First Pro Store In Quebec

BMR Group, along with its dealer Pierre Naud, have opened the first BMR Pro in Quebec. BMR Pro Pierre Naud, located in Trois-Rivières, will be a flagship store for the banner's new concept. With an investment of $2 million, the store was developed specifically to meet the needs of contractors and handypersons. It offers a wide range of locally sourced products including building materials. The store design features an industrial look which includes a contractor desk and a designated entrance. Naud also owns a store in Mauricie, QC, which was established in 1890. This is a new beginning for the Trois-Rivières Pierre Naud; in 2017 the hardware store was destroyed by fire shortly after completion of major renovations. The Lebel brothers, Marc-André and Phillipe, continued their business activities from a construction trailer while their store was being refitted. The set-up of the temporary store helped the business maintain a maximum number of employees.

Deloitte Projects Robust Holiday Sales

Holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 4.5 and five per cent in 2019, says Deloitte in its annual holiday retail forecast. Overall, Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice projects that U.S. holiday sales will exceed $1.1 trillion during the November to January timeframe. The firm also forecasts that eCommerce sales will grow by 14 to 18 per cent year-over-year during the 2019 to 2020 holiday season, compared to sales increasing by 11.2 per cent in 2018. The robust growth will likely result in U.S. eCommerce holiday sales reaching roughly $149 billion this season. “Based on a growth in consumer disposable income and spending indicators, retailers across channels should expect a strong holiday season in 2019,” says Rod Sides, vice-chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader. “We’ve seen retailers continue to improve customer experience, invest in the fundamentals, and leverage relationships with innovative startups to boost engagement and efficiency. But, convenience is the new retail currency; retailers who offer seamless experiences, have products available, and can deliver items more quickly than ever are most likely to win this holiday season.”

Princess Auto Opens First Quebec Store

Princess Auto has opened its first store in the province of Quebec in Saint-Jérôme. The 27,500-square-foot store is the retailer's 47th location. Princess Auto is an 85-year-old chain that supplies the tradesperson, handyperson, and anyone who likes to fix and build things. It offers an assortment of tools, equipment, and products ranging from hydraulics to welding. A second Quebec location is scheduled to open in Laval in February.

Strong Growth For Canadian Leaf Blower Market

The Europe and North America leaf blower market revenue is set to rise at a 4.6 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to around US$1.6 billion by 2025, says a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. The leaf blower market in Canada is likely to generate more than $250 million in 2025 due to a rise in the lawn care industry. The Canadian lawn care industry was valued at $2 billion in 2017 and will grow at a substantial rate, says the report. Part of the reason for this growth is that around 75 per cent of residents in Canada have a lawn or garden. Gas type is likely to account for one-third of the overall leaf blower market by 2025, in terms of revenue. Most landscape industry professionals evaluate that electric blowers have about 50 per cent less efficiency than gas blowers. Walk-behind blowers will grow at CAGR of over four per cent by 2025. These products have air flow rate of around 3,000 CFM and can move wet or dry debris along with some small rocks.

MaterialsXchange Launches Commodities Exchange

MaterialsXchange, an electronic marketplace for buying and selling raw materials, has retained Connamara Systems, a provider of exchange matching engine technology, to create a digital marketplace for raw materials industries. The exchange will address dimensional lumber and wood products and is expected to go live in the fourth quarter. MaterialsXchange says this market is currently highly fragmented, requiring a complex, cumbersome, and entirely manual process between a buyer and seller to complete transactions, making it ripe for digital disruption. It will bring an eCommerce solution combined with the sophistication of the modern capital markets to this industry by utilizing Connamara’s Exchange Platform 3 (EP3) technology, a highly customizable exchange platform product. The marketplace will be open to everyone who is able to buy or sell in full truckload quantities.

September 18, 2019

2019 Home Sales Edge Higher

National home sales are projected to recover to 482,000 units in 2019, representing a five per cent increase from the five-year low recorded in 2018. While this is an upward revision of 19,000 transactions compared to CREA's previous forecast (85 per cent of which is due to upgraded British Columbia and Ontario forecasts), it represents a return of activity to its 10-year annual average. It also remains well below the annual record set in 2016, when almost 540,000 homes traded hands. Notwithstanding the upward revision, the forecast for 2019 on a per capita basis remains the second weakest since 2001. British Columbia is expected to continue to weigh on national figures in 2019, with a decline of 5.4 per cent compared to 2018. This is expected to be more than offset by gains in Ontario (8.3%) and Quebec (9.7%). British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador are all forecast to come in at or near multi-year lows in 2019. By contrast, Manitoba, Quebec, and New Brunswick are expected to set new annual sales records.

BILD Wants Transparency On Home Ownership Fees

The impact of all government fees, taxes, and charges in the wallets of new home buyers in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) are amongst the highest in North America, says a report by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). These charges add $222,000 to the cost of an average new single-family home and $124,000 to the cost of an average high-rise apartment in the GTA. "The facts demonstrate that government fees, taxes, and charges play a significant role in eroding housing affordability in the GTA," says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. "These costs are unsustainable and BILD calls on all governments to bring certainty and transparency for new home buyers." For a typical single-family home (low-rise), the average total of all government fees, taxes, and charges in the GTA is three times higher on a per-unit basis than it is on average in the six U.S. metropolitan areas, and nearly double those in the other Canadian urban areas. When government-imposed charges are isolated to only include charges incurred by developers or homebuilders from municipalities, the average charges in the other Canadian urban areas, outside the GTA, are roughly similar to what is imposed by governments in the U.S. metro areas.

Promotions Drive Furniture Consumers

Deals and promotions drive the selection for furniture or mattress retailer for 91 per cent of consumers and even higher for Millennial parents and Millennials (96 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively), says a report by marketing technology company Valassis. The 'Awareness-to-Activation Study' says receiving both print and digital ads increase shopper touchpoints, significantly lifting purchase likelihood and driving new store consideration. Sixty-one per cent of consumers say receiving an advertisement both in print and digital can motivate them to shop at a new store or website. In the early research stages, both online and offline messages play an influential role in the decision-making process. Additionally, consumers are consistently completing purchases throughout the year. While many furniture retailers focus on three-day-weekend holiday sales, many consumers experience a variety of reasons to inspire furniture purchases throughout the year. This gives retailers a reason to increase the frequency of their offers beyond promotional periods. The study says 59 per cent of those who purchased furniture in the past few years did their research on a retail website although 68 per cent purchased in-store. Due to the nature of furniture purchases and the interest in physically testing products, half of shoppers will complete research in a physical store before buying a product.

Sherwin-Williams Explores Facility Options

The Sherwin-Williams Company has initiated a process to explore options for a new research and development facility and global headquarters. This action comes as a result of the company's ongoing review of its facilities requirements as it seeks to best meet the current and future needs of its customers and employees. As part of the exploratory process, the company will consider multiple potential sites, including locations in Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Any transition to new facilities is not expected to occur until 2023 at the earliest and would require board approval. Sherwin-Williams' current headquarters in Cleveland, OH, has been its home since 1930. The company operates multiple facilities in northeast Ohio which are home to approximately 4,400 employees.

Kingspan Joins Materials Carbon Action Network

Insulated panels manufacturer Kingspan has joined the Materials Carbon Action Network (materialsCAN), a group of members of the building industry ready to act on the smart prioritization of embodied carbon in building materials. Interface, Inc., a global commercial flooring company, launched materialsCAN in 2018 with Skanska, Gensler, USG, Saint-Gobain/CertainTeed, and Armstrong Ceilings to change the way the industry looks at carbon. Kingspan will be working with these companies and fellow new member Superior Essex Communications to improve embodied carbon awareness via client, industry, and external partnerships and support the creation of a methodology to enable analysis and prioritization of embodied carbon goals in specifications.

September 17, 2019

August Home Sales Edge Higher

National home sales rose 1.4 per cent month-over-month in August and five per cent year-over-year, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The increase in August was the sixth consecutive month increase. Transactions are now running almost 17 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019, but remain about 10 per cent below highs reached in 2016 and 2017. Activity was up in slightly more than half of all local markets, although monthly changes were generally modest across most of the country. Gains were led by a record-setting August in Winnipeg, MB, and a further improvement in the Fraser Valley, BC. Moncton, NB, posted the biggest monthly decline in sales, returning to more normal levels after having recently jumped to record heights. CREA says sales are being impacted by the mortgage stress test and the recent marginal decline in interest rates. The number of newly listed homes rose 1.1 per cent in August. With sales and new supply up by similar magnitudes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio was 60.1 per cent ‒ little changed from July's reading of 60 per cent. The measure has risen above its long-term average (of 53.6 per cent) in recent months, which indicates a tighter balance between supply and demand and a growing potential for price gains.

North Delta Carries Sansin Exterior Finishes

Surrey, BC-based North Delta Paint & Decorating now carries the Sansin Corporation's full line of exterior wood finishes. Sansin's exterior finishes offer protection for siding, decks, furniture, and millwork. The line includes Dec, ENS, Classic 1·2·3, and SDF.

AEP Expands Products At Ontario Facility

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) is implementing significant product expansions at its Satellite Building Components facility in Merrickville, ON. "The addition of automated machinery and design software has allowed us to offer our clients customized I-Joists, LVL options, and open web floors," says Dirk Maritz, CEO. Established in 1974, Satellite was acquired by AEP in 2018. Satellite specializes in designing and supplying roof trusses and engineered floor joists throughout eastern Ontario.

Brilliant Partners With Schlage

Home controls manufacturer Brilliant, an Allegion brand, has partnered with Schlage to integrate Schlage's Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt with its Smart Home Control system. The combined unit will give end-users complete access control as well as the ability to lock or unlock doors from any wall-mounted Brilliant Control or by utilizing voice commands through integration with Amazon Alexa. Homeowners will also be able to control locks as part of their home automation scenes. The Schlage Encode deadbolt features built-in WiFi, making additional hubs and gateways unnecessary and allowing it to be added to a wider variety of smart home ecosystems.

Home Hardware Makes Changes

Ron Krochuk is merchandise manager of forest products at Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective September 30. He has 25 years of forest products experience, including positions at Lowe's and Home Depot. Rob Szekszer is director of merchandise hardlines. He was previously with Canadian Tire where he held numerous roles in financial services, merchandising, and advertising.

September 16, 2019

Canadians Choosing To Renovate

Canadians are staying in their homes instead of moving and opting to renovate the homes they're in, finds the first ever national 'Reno Report' from HomeStars. Only nine per cent of Canadian homeowners are considering selling in the next 12 months. In addition, nearly two-thirds of homeowners say they plan to spend as much or more on improving their homes in the next 12 months than they did in the past year. Looking at spending across generations, it was the Millennials who were the most active, despite being the generation with the lowest disposable income. Almost three-quarters of Millennials plan to spend as much or more on maintenance in the coming year and 72 per cent plan to spend as much or more on larger renovations. Overall, bathrooms were the number one major home renovation planned for the next year at 24 per cent, followed by kitchens at 20 per cent. Homeowner hiring confidence is also high, with almost three-quarters of Canadians confident they were charged a fair price for recent major home projects.

Element5 To Open Mass Timber Factory In Ontario

Building upon the success of its existing cross laminated timber (CLT) plant and related engineering team in Quebec, mass timber manufacturer Element5 will open a second, much larger facility in St. Thomas, ON, in December 2020. The 125,000-square-foot, $50 million facility will house a technologically advanced, fully automated CLT and glulam production line, and produce up to 45,000 cubic metres of CLT and glulam annually. CLT is an engineered wood product comprised of massive, solid wood panels up to 12-feet wide, 53-feet long, and 14-inches thick, made by cross-laminating and bonding multiple layers of dimensional lumber. The panels are structural, used as floors, walls, and roof elements, and are an environmentally-friendly alternative to concrete and steel. CLT is what makes tall wood buildings possible because of the structural strength of each panel. They are prefabricated using high tech equipment, then shipped to site for rapid assembly. They’re cheaper to build, faster to construct, and they contribute to helping the world’s C02 issue because of the carbon-sequestering properties of wood. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is investing in the facility a grant of just under $5 million. Element5 specializes in the design, fabrication, and assembly of contemporary timber structures.

U.S. Retail Sales Has Gains

U.S. retail sales for August increased 4.1 per cent compared to August 2018 and 0.4 per cent compared to July, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Retail sales were up 3.7 per cent for the quarter compared to the same quarter last year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers had sales of $32.8 billion in August, compared to sales of $34.1 billion in August 2018.

RONA Stores Support Local Food Bank

Four corporate RONA stores in the Gatineau region in Quebec presented a cheque of $217,000 to Moisson Outaouais, a local food bank, as part of the 2019 Loto-Moisson campaign. This brings the total of donations up to $1 million since RONA partnered with the organization in 2011. In addition to being major partners of the annual Loto-Moisson campaign, the stores support the food bank through several activities held throughout the year. RONA is a Lowe's Canada banner.

Lowe's Canada Supports Student Athletes

Lowe’s Canada presented the third 'Bonneville 808 Challenge' in support of the Foundation for Athletic Excellence, alongside Fenplast. This long-distance cycling event took place at Mont-Tremblant, QC, on September 13 and 14 and welcomed hundreds of cyclists taking part in challenging courses ranging from 115 kilometres to 808 kilometres. Lowe’s Canada was represented by a team of cyclists that participated in the 202 kilometre route. As part of this partnership with the Foundation for Athletic Excellence, student athletes will be awarded Lowe’s Canada grants.

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