Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


May 18, 2012

Mitten Earns Award

Mitten Inc. earned the ‘2012 Company of the Year Award’ at the ‘Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant Business Excellence Awards’ ceremony. Contenders for the award were judged on business achievements; high standards of employee and customer relations; exemplary corporate citizenship; positive image and impact in the region; strong corporate philosophy; embracing new technologies and markets; strong sales and/or employment growth; and demonstrating environmental responsibility. Established in 1959, Mitten Inc. began as a small operation with one extruder in a basement. Today, it is one of Canada’s leading vinyl siding manufacturers as well as a distributor of premium exterior building products. It is based out of Brantford, ON, with an additional 21 distribution locations across Canada.

Sears Spinning Off Canada

Sears Holdings Corp. has announced plans to pursue a partial spinoff of its interest in Sears Canada. The move will reduce its stake in Sears Canada from 95 per cent to about 51 per cent. Sears Holdings believes that the spinoff will permit it to focus on its respective businesses and allocate resources to best optimize returns on assets employed.

Contractors Get App

Delmar and DeWalt have launched DeWalt Mobile Pro, a mobile application for construction professionals. Developed specifically for contractors and tradesmen in the construction industry, the app is available as a free download and contains a construction calculator for solving complex jobsite math in the field and five basic calculations with integrated reference materials to offer help, examples, and illustrations. The app also provides a running history of recent calculations, a customizable list of favorite calculations for quick and easy access to those used most often, and the ability to instantly eMail calculation results. The app is available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and has been designed with custom interfaces to suit the various screen sizes of each device.

Wal-Mart Sees Earnings Rise

Wal-Mart earned $3.74 billion in the quarter ended April 30. That compares with $3.39 billion in the year-ago period. Its first quarter was boosted by strong results at its namesake U.S. division. The unit turned in its best performance in three years. Customer traffic was up for the second quarter in the row. Revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 2.6 per cent in the division. Wal-Mart's international business, which accounts for more than a quarter of net sales, posted a 15 per cent increase to $32 billion.

May 17, 2012

Sears Sees Income Shrink

Sears Canada Inc.’s total revenue for the 13 week period ended April 28 was $915.1 million compared to $992.5 million for the same period in 2011, a decrease of 7.8 per cent. Same store sales decreased 6.3 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter this year were $93.1 million compared to a net loss of $47 million last year. "Although not reflected in our top line sales, there are positive signs of progress in many areas of our business," says Calvin McDonald, president and chief executive officer, Sears Canada. "We are making progress on our transformation.”

Target Profit Increases

Target Corp. had a 1.2 per cent increase in first-quarter profit. It earned $697 million in the quarter ended April 28. That compares with $689 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 5.9 per cent to $16.86 billion. Revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 5.3 per cent, the strongest performance in six years for that period. The measure is considered a key indicator of a retailer's health.

U.S. Retail Sales Barely Rise

Sales at U.S. retailers barely rose in April as the boost from an unseasonably warm winter faded, pointing to some loss of momentum in consumer spending early in the second quarter. Retail sales edged up 0.1 per cent, held back by a decline in receipts from building materials and clothing stores, says the Commerce Department, the smallest gain since December, when sales were flat. Building materials and gardening equipment fell 1.8 per cent – the largest drop since January last year – after surging 2.7 per cent in March.

Combi Represents Honeywell

Combi has been contracted for sales representation to the hardware retail market in the province of Québec for Honeywell. It will represent Honeywell Safety Products’ assortment of personal protective equipment.

Remodeling Projects Increase

Permits for residential remodeling projects in the U.S. increased 10 per cent in March from 2011, but slipped slightly from an unseasonably warm February, says the ‘BuildFax Remodeling Index.’ Permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.78 million compared with 2.8 million, a drop of about one per cent. On a year-over-year basis remodeling was up in the Midwest (15 per cent), West (12 per cent), and South (10 per cent), while the Northeast dropped nine per cent.

Inventory Distortion Expensive

Out-of-stocks and overstocks are more than just a major source of frustration for retailers, says IHL Group, a retail analyst firm. The combined costs of out-of-stock and overstock – caused by inventory distortion – adds up to $800 billion annually. Inventory distortion has been part of every organization and supply chain for decades. However, as the number of SKUs, channels, systems, and people increase, in both number and complexity, so will lost revenue opportunities. The underlying causes of inventory distortion range from forecasting and allocation errors to behavioural issues. Retailers can reduce, if not eliminate, profit leakage by maintaining the integrity of the profit pipeline. Most of the value in profit leakage can be identified and recovered in repeatable patterns. Analysis of those patterns can link profit leakage to discrepancies between what should be the case and what is the case in data, processes, and task performance.

Holiday Should Stay On Sunday

A federal law aimed at giving people a Canada Day long weekend is, instead, pushing retailers to stay open on July 1. The national celebration falls on a Sunday this year, which means, according to the federal Holidays Act, employees get a day off on Monday, July 2. “I can’t stress enough that there are some retailers that will still decide to close on Sunday, Canada Day. That’s their right and their prerogative,” says Jim Cormier, Atlantic director of the Retail Council of Canada. However, the competitive nature of the business makes it not much of a choice for some retailers because if their competitors decide to open, then they have to be open. He is lobbying  the Nova Scotia government to change the legislation so businesses in the province  can stay closed Sunday and open Monday.

May 16, 2012

Castle Adds Seven New Members

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has added seven new independent members. The new members represent 10 locations across Canada and join the more than 280 retail, commercial, and specialty dealers that are part of its independent network. The new members are:
• Saddle Lake Building Supplies Ltd., Saddle Lake, AB, is involved in the construction of new homes & RTMs and is now opening a retail hardware/building supplies business and an additional cabinet manufacturing facility
• Alberta Drywall & Stucco Supply (Calgary) Inc., Calgary, AB, which operates facilities in Edmonton and Calgary, specializes in the supply of drywall, stucco, and related products to both contractors and the commercial/industrial segment
• TJ Windows, Doors & More, Charlottetown, PEI, is a specialty operation that supplies and installs exterior products
• Eastway Building Supplies Ltd., Markham, ON, has locations in Scarborough and Markham, selling building material and specializing in the manufacture of commercial millwork and custom kitchen cabinetry as well as a high end line of plumbing fixtures and flooring
• R&D Lumber Inc., Rosthern, SK, was recently purchased by Wilf and Shawn Sten who are implementing a retail area expansion and adding new interior and exterior signage as well as staff
• Aluminum L. Hawkins et Fils Inc., Sainte Agathe des Monts, QC, sells both to both consumers and contractors in the area from locations in Tremblant, QC, opened in 2010, and a new location it moved to this year
• Peacock Building Supplies, Belleville, ON, which was recently purchased by Rehill Building Supplies, a member of Commercial Builders Supplies Inc., in Peterborough, ON, specializes in the light commercial, institutional, and residential markets.

Resale Activity Edges Higher

National resale housing activity edged up by less than one per cent in April 2012, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Sales edged up 0.8 per cent from March to April 2012, putting them on par with levels reported in the same month two years earlier. It says 157,804 homes have traded hands so far this year, up 6.4 per cent from levels reported in the first four months of 2011 and about four per cent above both the five- and 10-year averages for sales during the first third of the year. Nationally, the number of months of inventory stood at 5.6 months at the end of April, unchanged from levels reported in March. The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity and is a measure of the balance between housing supply and demand.

Home Depot Sees Sales Increase

The Home Depot had sales of $17.8 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2012, a 5.9 per cent increase from the first quarter of fiscal 2011. Comparable store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 were positive 5.8 per cent. Net earnings for the first quarter were $1 billion, compared with net earnings of $812 million in the same period of fiscal 2011. "We saw a stronger-than-expected start to the year, driven by record warm weather and continued demand for core products," says Frank Blake, chairman & CEO.

Ace Reports Higher Revenues

Ace Hardware Corp. posted total revenues of $908.2 million for the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 6.3 per cent compared with 2011. Net income was $10.2 million for the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 49.3 per cent compared with $6.8 million in 2011. Ace added 30 new stores and canceled 25 stores in the first quarter and ended the quarter with a total domestic store count of 4,077.

Home Improvement Ability Displayed

Walmart will display its home improvement ability through a digital marketing campaign in the U.S. centered on a ‘Projects Made Simple’ area at The area is organized by home improvement project such as how to stain a deck, install a water filter system, or install a towel bar. The website also lets users download a project sheet with tips and instructions.

Panasonic Renames Division

Panasonic Corp. of North America has renamed its Home and Environment as the Eco Products Division. The division houses its ventilation fan business, a product line that includes 18 products.

Valspar Earnings Jump

Valspar's earned $76.5 million, up from $56.3 million in the same quarter last year. Sales rose four per cent to $1.03 billion from $992.7 million. Its second quarter profit jumped 36 per cent.

May 15, 2012

Gray Tools Purchased

Gray Tools, the Canadian industrial-quality manufacturer of hand tools, was purchased by its president Gary Nuttall and marketing director Frank Dominguez from Alex Gray, its third-generation owner. Gray will remain as chairman and will continue to play an active role with the company. "We're excited to build upon the strengths of this 100-year-old Canadian icon," says Nuttall. "We have exciting plans for the future and believe that our Canadian manufacturing capability gives us a competitive advantage. Customers regularly turn to [us] to see if we can design a special tool for them. Because we manufacture in Canada, we can do this quickly." The company is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary.

More Woman Are First-Time Buyers

Among Canadians planning to buy a home within the next two years, women (49 per cent) are more likely than men (35 per cent) to be first-time buyers, says the ‘19th Annual RBC Homeownership Poll.’ "We are seeing more single women entering into the housing market as income levels, changing demographics, and lifestyle patterns shift purchasing habits," says Marcia Moffat, head of home equity financing at RBC. "But women are being more cautious than men, weighing cost, affordability, and job security before buying a home." The idea of financial security arises once again when it comes to choosing a mortgage. Results show Canadian women (16 per cent) were less likely to take on a variable mortgage than men (25 per cent). However, both sexes are similarly comfortable with the prospect of taking on a fixed rate mortgage (women: 40 per cent; men: 44 per cent), which largely reflects the current trend where Canadians are now looking to lock in at historically low interest rates.

NCI Building Systems Purchases Metl-Span

NCI Building Systems has purchased Metl-Span from a subsidiary of BlueScope Steel North America Corp. Metl-Span, a manufacturer of insulated metal wall and roof panels for more than 40 years, operates five manufacturing facilities in the United States serving the non-residential building products market. For 2011, it had estimated revenues of $170 million. NCI says the addition of Metl-Span’s products and capabilities will enhance its diversification and strengthen its position as a supplier to the non-residential building products industry in North America.

Leon’s Sales Increase

Leon's sales of $200 million, including $43.2 million of franchise sales, are up from $191.5 million, including $40.8 million of franchise sales, in the first quarter last year, a 4.7 per cent increase. Same store sales were down 0.7 per cent from the prior year first quarter. Net income was $8.5 million, down from $10.3 million in 2011. The profit decrease in the quarter was mainly due to higher marketing expenses and opening costs related to the opening of four new stores in the latter part of year.

May 14, 2012

Canadian Tire Reports On Sustainability

The Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited first quarter business sustainability strategy is up ten-fold primarily due to the large-scale road-to-rail conversion the company undertook in connection with transportation. More efficient from both an operational and environmental perspective, the result is a change to the mix of Eastern Canada shipments from 75 per cent road and 25 per cent rail, to 20 per cent road and 80 per cent rail. These efforts are forecasted to annually avoid significant costs and more than 6,600 tonnes of GHG emissions, equal to taking more than 1,500 cars off the road. Additionally, its business sustainability strategy saw incremental new business as in-store events designed with utility groups across the country drove $2 million in retail sales of energy-saving products. The ongoing integration of sustainable practices into its business operations resulted in the completion of 132 initiatives in the first quarter, which are forecasted to annually avoid over $715,000 in costs, 390 tonnes of waste, and 8,600 tonnes of GHG emissions.

Chatham Joins TIM-BR MART

Chatham Kent Construction Products, of Chatham, ON, is the newest member of TIM-BR MART. Rick Zavitz and his partners have operated this building supply operation for over two years. Their project-based approach is directed at the end user, selling project packages to the customer and then linking them to a few selected contractors. The business operates on two acres of land which also includes storage units used mainly by contractors. Future plans include expanding the retail portion of the building and participating in TIM-BR MART programs such as AIR MILES, flyers, and merchandising.

Ply Gem Sees Sales Rise

Ply Gem Holdings, Inc., a manufacturer of exterior building products in North America, had net sales of $239.2 million, an increase of $39.1 million, or 19.5 per cent, compared to the prior year first quarter of $200.1 million. First quarter operating earnings were $1.2 million compared to a $7.6 million loss for the first quarter of 2011 after excluding $6.7 million of inventory buyback expense in 2011 associated with a significant new customer win. Ply Gem produces a product line of vinyl siding, designer accents and skirting, vinyl fencing, vinyl and composite railing, stone veneer, and vinyl windows and doors used in both new construction and home repair and remodeling in the United States and Western Canada.

Trex Net Sales Increase

Trex, a manufacturer of composite decking and railing products, had net sales for the first quarter of 2012 of $96.1 million, a 39 per cent increase over net sales of $69 million for the same period in 2011. It had net income of $12.3 million for its first quarter, which ended March 31, 2012. This compares to net income of $5.1 million for the prior-year period.

Beacon Posts Higher Sales

Beacon Roofing Supply, a distributor of roofing and other housing exterior materials, posted net sales of $395.1 million for its second fiscal quarter of 2012, a 33.4 per cent increase over sales of $296.3 million in the same quarter in 2011. Existing market (organic) sales, which exclude branches acquired after the beginning of last year's second quarter, increased 28.2 per cent. Net income for the second quarter, which ended March 31, was $3.1 million compared with a net loss of $6.2 million a year ago. Warm winter conditions boosted roofing and exterior remodeling activities, especially residential re-roofing.

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