Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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

News

News Search for ""

September 21, 2018

Discussion Of Racial Bias Needed

Retailers need to being willing to have the uncomfortable conversation about racial bias in their stores, says Hamlin Grange, senior consultant, diversity, equity and inclusion, at Harmony@Work. Talking on ‘Racial Bias: What You Need to Know to Protect your Organization’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Retail Secure 2018,’ he said one area where they need to focus is loss prevention where some practices can be construed as racism with certain ethnic and cultural groups targeted. Bias can be found in people of all income levels and education and may not even be conscious of their bias. He said “social mindbugs” are partly to blame. These are ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in “how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions about people” although they may not even aware of why they made a decision. In fact, he said racial bias in retailing is more pervasive than realized and even worse than the racial bias reported among police officers, according to the Human Rights Commission. It found over 50 per cent of black people and one in three indigenous people reported being followed while in stores, asked to leave their bags at the counter, were extensively questioned about returns, and, in some cases, asked to leave a store. This kind of racial bias can impact a retailer’s bottom line and have a negative impact on attitudes towards their brand. Some jurisdictions have taken steps to eliminate it. The Nova Scotia human rights commission launched an awareness of racial bias in retail program and New York State has a customer bill of rights which says racial profiling is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It requires that all shoppers and guests to be treated with respect and dignity. Employees who do not abide by this can be fired and it may be time for Canadian retailers to do something similar, he said.

Lowe’s Opens Second Calgary Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its second store in the Greater Calgary, AB, area, featuring the new model of stores which offers an enhanced shopping experience. The store was converted from a former RONA Home and Garden. It was designed by taking the best of Lowe’s and RONA’s offerings to create the new model. The store underwent an extensive 16-week physical transformation which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion as well as a significant investment in training focused on new product knowledge and customer service. The enhanced retail experience includes a wider assortment of seasonal products such as Halloween decorations, items for the holiday season, and outdoor furniture including the latest fashion trends; a complete selection of appliances and the introduction of entirely new product categories including private labels and brands such as John Deere, Husqvarna, and Cub Cadet; and a broader selection of fashion plumbing products such as tubs, showers, toilets, vanities, sinks, and faucets with the introduction of high-profile brands such as Kohler and Grohe. It also offers an enhanced shopping experience for pros and commercial customers, including access to a drive-through lumber yard where contractors can load their vehicles directly to save time, as well as have access to a broader lumber assortment; charge accounts that allow commercial customers to shop at any RONA corporate store and new model Lowe’s store in Canada and receive a single monthly invoice; and the introduction of corporately owned and operated delivery trucks to provide a more personalized level of service for deliveries to contractors. The new store is the company’s 66th store in Canada under the Lowe’s banner.

Blockchain Becoming Part Of Every Business

Blockchain will become a part of every business where there is a need to track and trace digital information, says David Rodgerson, retail industry lead at Microsoft. In the ‘Blockchain for Retail: No IT Professionals Allowed’ session at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Retail Secure 2018,’ he said blockchain takes physical and digital entities and attaches a value to them. This information can’t be edited or deleted and is visible to everyone involved in a transaction. For retail, it means everything tracked through blockchain will result in better trust, transparency, and collaboration across shareholders; bringing value to vendors, retailers, and consumers. It also enable consumers and retailers to control who uses and how data is used, also making it more secure. His key takeaway was that blockchain projects can have an impact on organizations in merchandising, marketing, and operations.

Amazon Launches SMB Storefront

Amazon has launched ‘Amazon Storefronts,’ a store for customers to shop exclusively from U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling on Amazon. With Storefronts, customers can shop at nearly 20,000 U.S. SMBs and learn more about profiled businesses through featured videos and stories. Storefronts features 25 product categories including home, kitchen, pet supplies, back-to-school, Halloween, and books. Amazon first allowed SMBs to sell on its channel nearly 20 years ago and today they are a vital part of the online retailer’s selection.

Associates Help Prevent Theft

Retailers need to find ways to keep associates on the floor as a way to deter theft, says Scott Adel, vice-president of retail excellence at Tulip Retail. Speaking on ‘Customer Experience & Security: The Challenge of Frictionless Retail’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Retail Secure 2018,’ he said as retail changes, inventory control becomes more critical. Today, the bricks and mortar store has become more than a place to carry out transactions. Instead, it has become an access point where, in some cases, they are just showcases where customers go in, select the products they want, and they arrive a day or two later. James Connell, vice-president of eCommerce and customer experience at Roots, said some retailers are starting to look at artificial intelligence to check the availability of stock in the back room. This way, the associates just have to ask if a product is available and, if it is, someone brings it to the associate on the floor. It means the associate does not have to leave he sale floor and mitigates the distraction tactic some thieves use to divert the attention of associates. For Melissa Austria, founder of Gotstyle, engaging customers as they come into stores can help deter theft. However, she warned that in many cases these professional thieves are turning out to be very engaging.

IRWIN Holds Contest For Tradespeople

Hand and power tools accessory manufacturer IRWIN has kicked-off its eighth annual ‘National Tradesman Day’ program. “The program celebrates the dedicated Canadian men and women who help build our country and keep it running,” says the company in a news release. Celebrated on the third Friday of September, this year’s event will take place on September 21. This year, IRWIN is also awarding a VIP Football Experience to two tradespeople. The winner and guest will each receive round-trip flights to Toronto, ON, two nights stay, a VIP experience at a Toronto Argonauts game on October 20, a personalized jersey, and $250 for food. The total prize value is $5,000. Secondary prizes include IRWIN tools and IRWIN branded products. The contest runs until October 10.

September 20, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Increase For Third Month

Manufacturing sales increased for the third consecutive month in July, rising 0.9 per cent to $58.6 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales in the transportation equipment and chemical industries drove the increase. Overall, sales were up in 11 of 21 industries, representing 68 per cent of total manufacturing sales. Non-durable goods rose 1.4 per cent to $27.7 billion, while durable goods increased 0.5 per cent to $30.9 billion. Constant dollar sales increased one per cent, indicating that a higher volume of goods was sold in July. Higher sales in Ontario were mainly responsible for the gains at the national level in July. Declines in British Columbia partially offset the increase. Total manufacturing inventories increased 1.2 per cent to $82.9 billion in July. The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.41. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Amazon Deliberates Opening 3,000 Stores

Amazon.com Inc. is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cashierless stores in the U.S. in the next few years, reports Bloomberg. However, to date, the company is still experimenting with the best format – convenience store that sells fresh prepared foods as well as a limited grocery selection similar to 7-Eleven franchises, or a place to simply pick up a quick bite to eat for people in a rush. The company unveiled its first cashierless store near its headquarters in Seattle, WA, in 2016. Shoppers use a smartphone app to enter the store, grab what they want, and then walk out without stopping at a cash register. Sensors and computer-vision technology detect what shoppers take and bills them automatically, eliminating checkout lines. Bloomberg says the challenge to Amazon’s plan is the high cost of opening each location. Adding 3,000 convenience stores would make AmazonGo among the biggest chains in U.S. The internet giant is considering plans to have about 10 locations open by the end of this year, about 50 locations in major metro areas in 2019, and then as many as 3,000 by 2021.

Groupe BMR Starts P&B Renovation

Groupe BMR has started the renovation of its Potvin & Bouchard store in La Baie, QC. The project will modernize the store and includes a new facade and the reorganization of the interior to align with the Alma and Chicoutimi, QC, stores. The renovation is expected to complete in May, but the store will remain open to the public in the interim.

SANIFLO Retains New Sales Agency

Les Agences Lambert & Bégin Inc. will be the sales agency for SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, a manufacturer of macerating and grinding toilets, effective October 1. Les Agences Lambert & Bégin is an sales partner agency in the wholesale specialty plumbing industry.

Festool Launches ‘Trade Up to Festool’ Campaign

Festool has launched its ‘Trade Up to Festool’ campaign, which will run through October 31. Customers who buy a new, Festool 55-series saw or plunge router can send in any brand of used power tool, regardless of age or condition, and receive a $120 prepaid Mastercard. The promotion is the first of its kind for the company.

Challgren Leads Therma-Tru

Fenton Challgren is president of Therma-Tru Corp., part of Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. (FBHS). He joined Therma-Tru in December 2017 as vice-president, business development. Prior to joining the company, he was the president of Sipi Metals Corporation. He replaces Brett Finley, who is president of the newly-formed FBHS doors and security segment.

September 19, 2018

Home Hardware Welcomes Dealers

Home Hardware unrolled the red carpet for hundreds of dealers this past weekend for the annual ‘Fall Market.’ The event, which ran from September 16 to September 18, featured tours, sneak peeks at unreleased new products, and a look at the Beauti-Tone Paint colour of the year and Simon Chang’s ‘Colour Collection Card.’ The market is designed to provide a forum for seasonal product purchasing, dealer/owner and staff development, education, and information sharing. More than 3,000 dealer/owners and their staff attended the three-day event. As well, more than 3,500 representatives and vendors were on hand to demonstrate products and take orders. One of the highlights of the show was a model store which featured the latest in store design, signage, and display and merchandising techniques.

Circle Brand Rebrands

Circle Brand, a Canadian brand of professional-quality drywall tools and accessories that is known for its sponge-back sandpaper rolls, has redesigned its brand. The rebrand is inspired by the men and women who work hard and who have built the industry, says the company. It introduced a bright and vibrant colour pallet of teal and orange and the new packaging started its roll out in August. The rebrand also included the introduction of a brand slogan – Never Stops. The slogan reflects the hard work and grit each professional Circle Brand contractor embodies. The complete line of products and a dealer locator can now be found online with the launch of the company’s website – www.circlebrand.com. Dealers will find merchandising support including free-standing POP displays and in-store signage. Wallboard Trim & Tool is the exclusive distributor for the company.

Castle Launches Home Renovation Contest

Castle Building Centres Group Limited has launched its ‘Great Canadian Fall Home Renovation Contest’ which offers Castle customers the chance to win one of three $5,000 prizes towards a home improvement project from their Castle Building Centres location. The prize is good towards products or services. The contest closes November 15.

WD-40 Company Moves Secret Formula On 65th Anniversary

As it celebrates its 65th anniversary, WD-40 is moving its secret formula to a secure bank vault. The company entrusted secure logistics company Brink's to transport Garry Ridge, president and chief executive officer of WD-40 Company, handcuffed to a briefcase carrying the secret formula. The formula – which hasn't been touched by human hands in more than 15 years since the company's 50th anniversary – is the WD-40’s prized possession, filling iconic blue and yellow cans in 176 countries and territories worldwide. WD-40 Company was founded in 1953 as Rocket Chemical Company by three technicians looking for a rust-preventive solvent to protect missiles from corrosion. Today, it continues its research to develop ways to make the product better, as it has done for the past 65 years.

Boise Cascade To Sell Lumber Mills, Particleboard Operations

Boise Cascade Company will sell two lumber mills and its particleboard operations to Woodgrain Millwork. Included in the agreement are its northeast Oregon lumber mills in Pilot Rock and La Grande and the particleboard operations in Island City. The transaction will not include Boise Cascade’s plywood mill or the powerhouse and log utilization centre, based in Elgin, OR. Woodgrain, headquartered in Idaho, is a manufacturer and supplier of moulding, door shop products, and window parts

Mays Joins Whirpool Corp.

J Mays is vice-president and chief design officer at Whirlpool Corporation. Most recently, he was group vice-president of global design and chief creative officer at Ford Motor Company.

September 18, 2018

Sales Activity Faces Headwinds

Further expected interest rate increases, combined with this year's new federal mortgage stress test, are expected to continue to keep home sales activity in check over the rest of the year and into 2019, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service Systems of Canadian real estate boards and associations in 2018 and 2019. While economic and demographic fundamentals remain supportive for housing demand in many parts of the country, policy headwinds have impacted homebuyer sentiment and access to mortgage financing in many housing markets. When the new mortgage stress test was announced last October, it was expected that many homebuyers would expedite their purchases during the 2 1/2 month window before it took effect this year. In reality, the response to the new policy was stronger than expected. In December 2017, seasonally adjusted national home sales surged to the highest on record before dropping sharply in early 2018. With much of 2018 now in the rear-view mirror, the stress-test on all new mortgages continues to weigh on home sales. National activity is on track to hit a five-year low in 2018. While summer sales activity in and around the Greater Toronto Area showed signs of rebounding, this trend may be losing steam. Moreover, additional interest rate increases expected this year and in 2019 will continue to raise the bar that borrowers must clear to qualify for mortgage financing. Taking these factors into account, national sales are expected to decline by 9.8 per cent to 462,900 units in 2018. In 2019, national sales are forecast to rebound modestly by 2.1 per cent to 472,700 units, but remain below annual levels recorded in 2014 through 2017.

Stores Celebrated At Buying Show

Lowe’s Canada took advantage of the RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show to celebrate several RONA and Ace dealers: Dealers and suppliers honoured were: RONA Builder of Success program - Up and Comer: Nancy Powell-Quinn, RONA Moffatt & Powell (Exeter, London, Mitchell, Strathroy, Tillsonburg, ON) Community: RONA Forget (Mont-Tremblant, QC) Lifetime Achievement: Bruce Allen, RONA North Vancouver (North Vancouver, BC) Ace Builder of Success program - Up and Comer: Chad Camp, Ace County Farm Centre (Picton, ON) Community: Ace Armand Dumaresq matériaux de construction (Gaspé, QC) Lifetime Achievement: Bryon Calvert, Ace Hardware Beaverlodge (Beaverlodge, AB) Years as a RONA dealer - 25 years: RONA Roch Gauthier & Fils (Les Cèdres, QC) 30 years: RONA Cornwall (Cornwall, ON), RONA Ducharme & Frère (Saint-Césaire, QC), RONA Ferronnerie Meilleur (Ferme-Neuve, QC), RONA Forget (Mont-Tremblant, QC), RONA Matériaux Pont-Masson (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Maisonneuve (Montréal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Mario Gélineau (Saint-Hubert, QC), RONA Roch Gauthier & Fils (Saint-Polycarpe, QC), RONA Thomas Caya (Bon-Conseil, QC) 35 years: RONA Laurent Roy Gaspé (Gaspé, QC) 40 years: RONA Quincaillerie Berger (La Prairie, QC) 55 years: RONA Rosaire Mathieu (Wickham, QC) 70 years: RONA A. Fluet & Fils (Stanstead, QC) 75 years: RONA A. Champagne (Saint-Honoré-de-Shenley, QC); Business relationship with Ace Canada - 25 years: Doben’s Ace Hardware (Drayton, ON) Lowe’s Canada Supplier of the Year:- MTD

Stanley B&D Invests In MTD

Stanley Black & Decker will acquire a 20 per cent stake in MTD Products Inc., a privately held global manufacturer of outdoor power equipment. Stanley Black & Decker has the option to acquire the remaining 80 per cent of MTD in 2021. The company says the acquisition increases its presence in the $20 billion global lawn and market presence in a financially and operationally prudent way. It sees outdoor products as an attractive growth category to expand its presence beyond handheld electric products. Going forward, the two companies will work together to pursue revenue and cost opportunities, improve operational efficiency, and introduce products for professional and residential outdoor equipment customers, leveraging their respective portfolios of brands.

Castle Names Tough Trucks Winner

Glenn Tobin of Blackfalds, AB, is the winner of Castle Building Centres Group Limited’s ‘2018 Battle of the Tough Trucks’ contest. The contest was one of the largest in Castle’s history and received a record number of entries. Tobin picked up his entry ballot at Wolf Creek Building Supplies in Lacombe, AB, and entered online. His name was drawn from over 25,000 entries from across Canada and he won a Dodge Ram, which he says is his favourite ‘tough truck.’

HBC Has Slight Sales Increase

HBC had total sales of $2.2 billion for the second quarter of 2018, a decrease of two per cent over total sales in the second quarter of 2017. Total comparable sales declined 0.4 per cent year-over-year, with total comparable digital sales increasing 10.8 per cent. Net loss was $147 million for the quarter compared to $100 million in the prior year. Revenue was $2,160 million, a decrease of two per cent from the prior year. Adjusted EBITDAR was $119 million, an increase of $30 million compared to the prior year.

September 17, 2018

Buying Show Attracts 2,500

The 2019 RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show, presented by Lowe’s Canada, brought together over 330 suppliers and 300 dealers and their respective teams for three days of seminars, meetings, and business opportunities. With over 2,500 participants, the buying show gives Lowe’s Canada suppliers ‒ many of which are based in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada ‒ an opportunity to present new and existing products and services, as well as exclusive offers, to RONA and Ace Canada dealers across the country. A series of workshops ‒ a new addition to the event ‒ featured topics such as successful merchandising strategies, how to select seasonal and horticultural products for the 2019 season, seizing all the opportunities of eCommerce, making the best use of social media, and grappling with everyday human resources challenges. The show closed with a visit by Alexandre Tagliani ‒ the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race car driver whose 2018 season is sponsored by RONA. "Once again this year, we are delighted to have an enthusiastic response from our dealers, who were able to use this event to discover new suppliers and diversify their offering. By bringing together RONA and Ace dealers in one show, we are maximizing the strength of our network," says Antonio Cioffi, executive vice-president, finance, affiliate sealers and real estate." It took place at the Palais des congrès de Montréal from September 12 to 14.

Lower EI Premium Praised

The lower Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate is a welcome reprieve for small businesses, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The new employer rate of $2.27 per $100 of insurable earnings, a five cent reduction over last year, will offset some, but not all of the CPP cost increases coming employers' way in 2019. CFIB encourages the federal government to further alleviate payroll costs for small businesses by creating an EI tax credit for hiring and training employees; putting in place a permanent, lower EI rate for small businesses; gradually moving from an employer rate that is 1.4 times greater than the employee rate to a 50/50 split; and implementing an EI holiday for hiring youth.

Digital Technologies Key To Success

To stay competitive, businesses have to have a model which allows them to facilitate digital technologies and the internet, says William Priest, chief executive officer, co-chief information officer, and portfolio manager at Epoch, a global asset management firm. Speaking at the TD Asset Management ‘Investment Review Day 2018,’ he said the world is moving from atoms to bits, with disruptive technologies creating both opportunities and challenges for businesses. The digital age is the second industrial revolution and digital technologies are growing exponentially. Today, information can be recombined and reused in all ways with cloud technology, and this presents opportunities through data mining and cost reduction. Costs can be reduced by using technology to replace labour. For public companies, payout ratios will rise with decreased need for equity. Priest said companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix have been very successful in “substituting bits for atoms.” He thinks the Amazon model will go from ‘click, order, and send’ to a ‘send, keep, or return’ model. “They are building a knowledge base on [their customers] and one day they will just send you a box with things you need, plus a few extra things every month. You can send back what you don’t want for free, but likely you won’t.”

RPM International Acquires Nadura Corp.

RPM International Inc. has acquired Nudura Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of insulated concrete forms (ICF) in North America. Based in Barrie, ON, Nudura has annual net sales in excess of $40 million. Nudura provides four series of ICF wall systems, consisting of foam boards made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) and integral hinged plastic webs that hold both sides of the boards together. Concrete is then poured into the form to make an insulated concrete wall system. Nudura also offers a range of complementary building envelope products. The company has three manufacturing plants and an extensive network of 260 locally based professional distributors in key North American markets. Nudura will operate within the RPM specialty products group as a stand-alone operating unit of RPM’s Dryvit business. Dryvit is a manufacturer of exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) in North America.

Dollarama Sales Increase

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $868.5 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 6.9 per cent over sales of $812.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Comparable store sales grew 2.6 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin was 39.7 per cent of sales, compared to 39.6 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. EBITDA grew 7.9 per cent to $225.8 million, or 26 per cent of sales, compared to 25.7 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings for the quarter were $141.8 million compared to $131.8 million in the year-ago period.

September 14, 2018

Employment Outlook Is Cautiously Optimistic

Slow but steady gains in employment are anticipated by Canadian employers over the next three months, with a cautiously optimistic hiring climate for job seekers in the fourth quarter of 2018, says ManpowerGroup’s ‘Employment Outlook Survey.’ With seasonal variations removed from the data, the net employment outlook of 14 per cent is a one percentage point increase compared to the previous quarter and is an increase of four percentage points compared to the outlook reported during the same time last year. Across Canada, 16 per cent of employers plan to increase their staffing levels in the fourth quarter, while six per cent anticipate cutbacks. Seventy-seven per cent expect their current staffing levels to remain unchanged, while the remaining one per cent are unsure of their hiring intentions. Job seekers in the construction sector should expect to see a steady hiring pace for the upcoming quarter with a net employment outlook of 14 per cent. This forecast is a decrease of two percentage points from the outlook reported in the previous quarter and a five percentage point increase compared to the same time last year. In the wholesale and retail trade sector, employers anticipate the weakest labour market in two years, reporting a net employment outlook of seven per cent. This reflects a three percentage point decrease compared to the previous quarter's forecast and a decrease of four percentage points from the outlook reported during the same time last year.

Pella Launches Home Security App

Pella Corporation introduced its Insynctive technology app which enables homeowners to self-monitor certain Pella products via their mobile device. The app allows them to monitor the status of their windows and doors and control the motorized glass blinds and shades in a variety of Pella products including the Architect Series, Designer Series, and entry doors. The app is available for Apple or Android products. Pella Insynctive products are also compatible with some other security and home automation systems.

U.S. Skilled Labour Scarcity Affecting Safety

Skilled labour shortages will have the greatest impact on commercial construction businesses in the U.S. over the next three years and this is affecting safety, says the third quarter ‘2018 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index.’ The report reveals 88 per cent of contractors expect to feel at least a moderate impact from the workforce shortages in the next three years, with over half (57 per cent) expecting the impact to be high/very high. The skilled labour shortage has been consistently identified as a major issue facing the industry, but it is now reported by 80 per cent of contractors to be impacting worker and jobsite safety. In fact, the index found that a lack of skilled workers was the number one factor impacting increased jobsite safety risks. As contractors grapple with a scarcity of skilled workers, findings show a majority are working to improve the overall safety culture on the jobsite (63 per cent) and at their firm’s offices (58 per cent). In fact, the indicators reported to have the highest impact on improving safety culture and outcomes are those that engage employees throughout the organization. This includes developing training programs for all levels of workers, ensuring accountability across the organization, and empowering and involving employees.

Renoworks Updates Gentek Web Visualizer

Renoworks Software Inc. and Gentek Building Products have updated the Gentek Visualizer with advancements in user experience, high-resolution realistic imagery, and mobile readiness. The Gentek Visualizer is an online engagement tool allowing consumers to experience Gentek's extensive portfolio of building products (vinyl, aluminum, and steel siding and accessories) online while experimenting and visualizing the final look of their construction/remodeling project quickly and easily. The Visualizer also provides pre-selected design options and palettes. In addition, Gentek Design Services will prepare images of submitted homes by consumers. The services will be offered for free at launch for Gentek customers.

September 13, 2018

Nova Scotia Incorporation Will Soon Be More Economical

In January, incorporating a limited company in Nova Scotia will be more economical, says Jamie L. Angus, a partner at McInnes Cooper. The Nova Scotia government says it will make three changes to its incorporation laws (amending the Nova Scotia Corporations Registration Act and a regulation under the Nova Scotia Companies Act). These include cheaper costs, with incorporation fees dropping to $200 from $336.40; one year free annual registration (previously $118.35 for the first year); and faster service, where it will take three days instead of five to 10 days to complete an incorporation through standard paper filing. Angus adds that incorporating electronically can further expedite the process. The changes will benefit businesses of all sizes. The greatest beneficiaries, however, are likely to be start-ups and small- to medium-sized businesses, for which every dollar can count, especially in the early stages. The changes reflect competition among federal and provincial governments to attract businesses of all sizes. Both the federal incorporation regime (the Canada Business Corporations Act) and that of Prince Edward Island have recently undergone changes to modernize them.

Dodge Momentum Index Falters In August

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 2.9 per cent in August to 164.1 from the revised July reading of 169. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for U.S. non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. Pushing the index lower in August was its commercial component, which dropped 6.1 per cent from July. The commercial component had been on a strong run since the beginning of the year, rising 25 per cent in the January to July period as improved business confidence likely pushed building intentions higher. While commercial planning did fall in August, the trend remains positive fueled by strong economic growth and still-healthy real estate fundamentals. The institutional component has been on a much more restrained trajectory this year, moving 11 per cent higher from January to July, reflecting the influence of public spending on this segment. In August, the institutional component moved up an additional 2.5 per cent.

Technology Can Build Brand Perception

Technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of the shopping experience and the success or failure of that technological experience has a strong impact as to whether the consumer will return to the store, says a report by software and service provider Boomtown. Nearly half of consumers say that positive experiences due to well-functioning technology lead them to greater brand confidence (46 per cent) and more frequent visits to the business (44 per cent). Conversely, negative experiences due to malfunctioning technology result in a decline in brand confidence and less frequent visits to the business for more than a quarter of consumers (28 per cent). The report shows consumers identify a strong preference for brands that make widespread use of advanced, reliable, and intuitive technology. In fact, consumers who frequent large chain establishments over smaller businesses name technology as one of the key aspects of their instore experience, highlighting a range of digital payment options (critical to 57 per cent of consumers), online ordering and local pick up capabilities (important to 50 per cent), self check-out options (important to 49 per cent), and other digital offerings like in-store Wi-Fi and real-time order information. Boomtown says these findings confirm that the digital transformation of the consumer experience is fully underway and that businesses ‒ from small, regional shops to national, consumer-facing chains ‒ must invest in their technology to court and keep consumers.

Kraus To Sell Flooring Distribution Businesses

The Kraus Group of Companies plans to sell its flooring distribution businesses and shut down its broadloom carpet manufacturing operations in Waterloo, ON, under court protection from creditors. Documents filed with the court as part of the process say the group’s assets are worth substantially less than what it owes to main creditors, a total of nearly $148.2 million. Under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act, a court oversees efforts to work out a business plan that’s satisfactory to the creditors of a company. The announcement comes just after the company issued temporary layoff notices to more than 200 unionized employees at Kraus Carpets and Strudex Fibres. The company is also seeking court approval for a sale of its flooring distribution business to Q.E.P. Co. Inc. It says the agreement to sell the distribution business will allow it to continue operating from its head office in Waterloo and continue sales through North America.

3M Makes Appointments

Lars Hanseid is president and general manager of 3M Canada. He brings 30 years of international experience at 3M to the role, most recently as vice-president of the central east Europe, Middle East, and Africa area. He succeeds former 3M Canada president and general manager Mojdeh Poul who is now executive vice-president of 3M’s safety and graphics business group.

September 12, 2018

Macnab Appointed CEO Of Home Hardware

Kevin Macnab has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective October 10. He has more than 30 years of retail industry experience, including key roles at Toys ‘R’ Us, Marks & Spencer, and D'Allaird's Stores. He is also a past chair of the Retail Council of Canada.

National Housing Starts Trend Moderates

The trend in housing starts was 214,598 units in August, compared to 219,656 units in July, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The national trend in housing starts continued to decline in August from the historical peak that was recorded in March 2018. This moderation brings total starts closer to historical averages, largely reflecting recent declines in the trend of multi-unit starts from historically elevated levels earlier in the year. Housing starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) trended higher in August as more multi-family projects got underway across the region. In the Edmonton, AB, CMA, housing activity moved upward significantly, driven by an increase in new construction of multi-unit dwellings. Housing starts trended lower in Toronto, ON, mainly due to fewer condominium apartment and single-detached home starts.

Oversized Item Deliveries Not Up To Par

Consumers who have made an oversized eCommerce purchase in the past year say they have received damaged items and some never received their items at all, says a report by uShip. As many as 21 per cent of consumers have received damaged items, while 15 per cent never received their shipment, the report shows. Ultimately, the research signals the ‘last mile’ has never been more important to the customer experience and oversized shipping remains a particular pain-point for many consumers. For retailers, this detrimental last mile experience is causing negative repercussions for brands. In fact, one in seven of those consumers (14 per cent) have actually avoided shopping with a brand or retailer because of a bad delivery experience. Moreover, nearly one in four (24 per cent) said a lack of confidence their oversized item would arrive safely would prevent them from making a purchase. uShip says the most important aspect for consumers purchasing oversized items is the time and convenience of delivery – an area easily improved with the right technology and business relationships. Consumers say proactive updates about their shipments, hand delivery, in-home delivery, and delivery time slots would improve their experiences.

IKEA Opens BC DC

IKEA Canada has opened a 330,540-square-foot Vancouver customer distribution centre (DC) in Richmond, BC. This is the company’s first customer distribution facility in western Canada and it will further facilitate logistics while providing increased capacity for future growth. The DC will fulfill IKEA Canada's Richmond and Coquitlam, BC, and Calgary and Edmonton, AB, stores; its collection points in Nanaimo, Victoria and Kelowna, BC; home deliveries throughout the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta; and more than half of home deliveries in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Markets served by the centre will see significantly shorter delivery lead times. The new facility will also have a positive environmental impact by reducing transport times and emissions. This is the retailer’s third DC in Canada; it also has DCs in the Montreal, QC, and Toronto, ON, areas.

Formica Launches Competition For Student Designers

The ‘2019 FORM Student Innovation Competition’ invites, for the first time in Quebec, interior design and architecture students to put their creativity to work by designing furniture pieces for ‘resi-mercial’ spaces that showcase Formica brand products for the chance to win cash prizes, international recognition, and have their work showcased in a public exhibit. The competition is open for entries through December 10. The judges include Leanne Ford, interior designer and star of ‘Restored by the Fords’ on HGTV; Tristan Butterfield, chief creative officer at Baker Interiors Group; Jaime Velez, former director of interior design at SOM; Renee Hytry Derrington, global design lead at Formica Group; and Steven Matijcio, curator for the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.

Liteline Founder To Retire

Steve Silverstein, founder of Liteline, has announced his retirement. He founded Liteline in 1979 with his wife Helen. Today, the company has 130 employees and a 160,000-square-foot office and warehouse facility with business relationships throughout Canada and the U.S. Silverstein’s children, Daniel, Mark, and Sarah, will succeed him as principals of the organization.

September 11, 2018

Northlander Joins Sexton

Northlander Industries has joined the Sexton Group. Located in Exeter, ON, Northlander Industries is a producer of manufactured structures. A Canadian and family owned business, it has been in business for more than 50 years.

Another Record August For Montreal Residential Sales

A total of 3,224 residential sales were concluded in August in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This represents an eight per cent increase compared to August of 2017 and a sales record for a month of August. Furthermore, this was the 41st consecutive month in which residential sales increased in the Montreal area. Geographically, five of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales in August; the only exception was the North Shore, where sales were unchanged compared to August of last year. For the month, there were 20,940 active residential listings in the Centris system, a 16 per cent drop compared to one year earlier.

Retailers Maintaining eCommerce Initiatives

Retailers have more aggressive estimates for large gains in eCommerce revenue in 2018 compared to 2017, finds a study by SLI Systems. The study shows 91 per cent of retailers expected eCommerce revenue gains in the first half of 2018. In the U.S., 59 per cent predict modest growth of one to 10 per cent and 12 per cent estimate growth over 21 per cent. Globally, one-third of retailers say their companies already provide customers a personalized online experience and almost half (49 per cent) plan to add it in the next year. The report also finds that mobile remains integral to eCommerce success, with 91 per cent of retailers maintaining or increasing their 2017 commitment to investment in mobile. Eight per cent anticipate revenue from mobile sites and apps to increase 94 per cent in housewares/home furnishings.

Allura Launches New Colour Palette

Fibre cement manufacturer Allura has introduced a new colour palette for its family of prefinished exterior siding, shakes and shingles, panels, and soffit. The new colour palette is a collection of 25 paint and five stain colours designed to meet the demands of today's new home construction market. The company will continue to offer its discontinued colours until the end of January.

Truong To Succeed Gries As James Hardie CEO

Dr. Jack Truong will be chief executive officer of James Hardie Industries plc, effective at the end of the company’s 2019 fiscal year. Until then, he will become president and chief operating officer while current CEO Louis Gries transitions to retirement. Gries joined the company in 1991 and became CEO in 2005.

September 10, 2018

Toronto Residential Sales Up 8.5 Per Cent

There were 6,839 residential sales in August in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area, says the Toronto Real Estate Board. This was an 8.5 per cent increase compared to August last year. Month-over-month sales also continued in August. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, August sales were up by two per cent compared to July. "Market conditions in the summer of 2018, including this past August, were tighter than what was experienced in the summer of 2017,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis. “In August, the annual rate of sales growth outpaced the annual rate of new listings growth. We only have slightly more than 2 1/2 months of inventory in the TREB market area as a whole and less than two months of inventory in the city of Toronto. This means that despite the fact the sales remain off the record highs from 2016 and 2017, many GTA neighbourhoods continue to suffer from a lack of inventory. This could present a problem if demand continues to accelerate over the next year, which is expected.”

Walmart Canada Acquires More Tesla Trucks

Walmart Canada plans to power its fleet using 100 per cent alternative power by 2028. To meet that goal, the company will acquire an additional 30 Tesla 18-wheeler semi-trucks, building on its original order of 10 trucks in November 2017. With 40 Tesla semis in total, the company will reach an initial milestone to convert 20 per cent of Walmart's fleet to electric power by 2022. The move comes as Walmart Canada continues to put sustainability at the forefront of its business operations, finding new and innovative ways to reduce its carbon footprint while continuing to focus on the critical issue of driver safety. The first 20 Tesla semis will be used to support the fleet base in Mississauga, ON. The remaining 20 trucks will be allocated to the company's recently-announced Surrey, BC, sustainable fulfillment centre, which is set to open in 2022. This state-of-the-art facility will feature a fully electric Walmart fleet base, a first for Walmart internationally.

Low-Pressure Laminates Demand To Remain Steady

Demand for low-pressure laminates is forecast to reach 10.3 billion square feet in 2022 on annual gains of 2.4 per cent, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Thermoplastic films are expected to post the fastest gains of all low-pressure laminate types due in part to their performance advantages, such as ease of cleaning, durability, and enhanced design flexibility via the ability to wrap these laminates around irregular and curved surfaces. Although saturated papers are expected to grow at a more modest pace than thermoplastic films, saturated papers will account for the largest share of new low-pressure laminate demand through 2022, due in part to their ability to exhibit desired aesthetics, such as a high gloss and realistic wood grain appearance, all at a relatively moderate cost. Demand for all types of decorative laminates is forecast to rise 2.3 per cent per annum to 12 billion square feet in 2022, valued at $7.3 billion. Most decorative laminate markets are mature and sales growth will be restrained by intense competition from other products and surface materials such as acrylic veneers, luxury vinyl tiles, and natural and engineered stone.

Cobb Leads DaVinci

Michael Cobb is president and chief marketing officer at DaVinci Roofscapes. He joined the company in 2016 and previously served as vice-president of sales and marketing.

HD Supply Has Double Digit Increase

HD Supply Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1.6 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 18.3 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit increased $83 million, or 15.4 per cent, to $622 million for the quarter, this compares to $539 million for the same period a year ago. Gross profit was 38.9 per cent of net sales, down approximately 100 basis points from 39.9 per cent for the second quarter of 2017. Net income decreased 70.4 per cent to $131 million versus $442 million last year. Net income included $361 million of income from discontinued operations, net of tax. Adjusted EBITDA was $246 million, up 18.3 per cent compared to $208 million.

Registration Open For 2019 KBIS

Registration is now open for the ‘2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show’ (KBIS), owned by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). The show will co-locate in Las Vegas with the National Association of Homebuilders’ (NAHB) ‘International Builders' Show’ (IBS) for the sixth annual Design & Construction Week. The NKBA and NAHB have extended the co-location agreement through 2026. The show takes place February 19 to 21. For more information, visit KBIS

September 7, 2018

Building Permits Inch Down

Canadian municipalities issued $8.2 billion worth of building permits in July, down 0.1 per cent from June, says Statistics Canada. The decrease was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions in British Columbia. The value of permits for residential buildings edged down 0.3 per cent to $5.3 billion, mainly as the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, down 1.1 per cent to $2.9 billion. The decrease in British Columbia ($185 million) offsets gains in seven provinces. The value of building permits in the single-family component was up 0.6 per cent to $2.4 billion. Four provinces registered increases, led by Ontario and Manitoba. In July, municipalities approved the construction of 19,824 new dwellings (+1.2 per cent), consisting of 14,660 multi-family units (+3.7 per cent), and 5,164 single units (-5.2 per cent). The value of non-residential permits edged up 0.2 per cent to $2.9 billion in July, mainly due to higher construction intentions in Quebec. Increases in the industrial component more than offset the declines for commercial and institutional buildings. The total value of building permits was down in five provinces, with British Columbia and Ontario recording the largest decreases.

Wolseley Canada Acquires James Electric

Wolseley Canada Inc. has acquired James Electric Motor Services Ltd., a seller of pumps and motors in western Canada. The company will continue to operate under its existing name.

Technology To Drive Home Security Market

The global home security system market is expected to reach US$74.75 billion by 2023 from $45.58 billion in 2018 at a compound annual growth rate of 10.4 per cent during the forecast period, says a report by ResearchAndMarkets. This growth can be attributed to the emergence of the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and wireless technologies, and increasing customer awareness. Video surveillance security systems are likely to hold the largest share of the home security product market. The surveillance cameras available on the market use AI and deep learning to empower the security with more reliability and accuracy. The high cost associated with the installation and maintenance of home security systems is the key factor limiting the growth of this market.

Kellogg Joins Coast Distributors

Bonnie Kellogg is purchasing manager with Coast Distributors Ltd. Previously she was purchasing manager with Merit Kitchens. She succeeds Anthony Snell, who is general manager of Nanaimo, BC, operations.

RH Has Strong Quarter

RH had net revenue of $640.8 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over net revenue of $615.3 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $271.6 million versus $205.8 million in the year-ago period. Net income was $64 million compared to a loss of $7.9 million last year. The company had adjusted EBITDA of $103 million for the quarter versus $63 million a year ago.

Retail Secure Expands Content

This year, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has expanded its ‘Retail Secure Conference’ to include an expanded content format that dives into three areas of significant risk for retail today – fraud protection, data security, and loss prevention. Sessions include ‘The Untamed Cyber World,’ Learning the Language of Retail,’ and ‘Racial Bias: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Organization.’ It takes place September 20 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit RCC Retail Secure

September 6, 2018

Retail Sales Slow For Third Consecutive Quarter

Retail sales growth has slowed for the third consecutive quarter, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. After six months, 2018 year-to-date total Canadian retail sales are up 3.6 per cent. That's half of the 7.2 per cent growth recorded for the first half of last year, although 2017 was particularly strong for Canadian retail. The peak of the current cycle is now well past us, says Strapagiel. Year-over-year retail sales growth topped out at eight per cent in second quarter of last year. This has declined consistently, to 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, 6.7 per cent in fourth quarter of 2017, four per cent in the first quarter of 2018, and finally to 3.4 per cent in second quarter of 2018. “The prospects don't look promising for the balance of 2018.” As for eCommerce sales, overall, online sales represented about 2.7 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending June. eCommerce sales were up 15.7 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter, but Strapagiel says this is much less than the 35 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago.

SMEs Struggle To Find Staff

Over 39 per cent of SMEs are struggling to find new employees and the problem will not improve for at least a decade, says a Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) study. It shows firms affected by labour shortages are 65 per cent more likely to generate low sales. The situation is most dire in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, and Ontario with manufacturing, retail trade, and construction the hardest hit sectors. Nearly six in 10 entrepreneurs said the labour shortages mean existing staff must work more, while 47 per cent said they have had to raise wages. The indirect costs of labour shortages are no less damaging. For example, business owners are forced to spend more time on the shop floor because of a lack of workers which means less time spent on developing the business. This holds business back and hinders growth. "Labour shortages are affecting growth for many Canadian businesses and this has an impact on Canada's competitiveness," says Pierre Cléroux, vice-president, research, and chief economist at BDC. "Businesses are being forced to refuse orders or delay deliveries. To help deal with the impact, entrepreneurs should think about hiring from under-represented segments of the population, such as younger or less-qualified workers, retired workers, or newcomers to Canada."

Click-and-collect Gains Traction

Physical retail locations play a significant, direct role in the omnichannel purchasing experience and they can also help build loyalty from the omnichannel purchaser, who may choose that retailer again knowing that additional needs can be met in the moment, says a report by research firm Packaged Facts. Bricks-and-mortar retailers have fought back against the online tide by executing innovative strategies – such as click-and-collect – that play to their traditional strengths while providing consumers with an increasingly seamless omnichannel shopping experience. By allowing consumers to choose between internet-only home delivery, in-store shopping and purchasing, and online ordering with store pickup, retailers can deliver a win-win. More than a third (35 per cent) of online purchasers have clicked-and-collected (ordered product/service online and picked it up at a store) in the last three months, a usage statistic that Packaged Facts estimates has risen very quickly in just a few years. Immediate need and convenience are part of click-and-collect’s allure. Packaged Facts concludes that click-and-collect may boost overall sales at the purchaser’s retailer of choice. Some 34 per cent of click-and-collectors purchased an additional item the last time they picked up an online order.

Ontario Sales Managers Appointed

Dan McDevitt is territory sales manager and will develop the Greater Toronto Area and central and northern Ontario territories for Isolofoam. He joined the company in early 2018 and has more than 20 years of experience in the construction products industry. Dianne Smith is territory sales manager for eastern Ontario. She joined the company in the spring and has more than 30 years of experience in the building material industry.

Strong Sales For Generac

Power equipment manufacturer Generac Holdings Inc. had net sales of $494.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 25.3 per cent over net sales of $394.9 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit margin improved 190 basis points to 35.6 per cent as compared to 33.7 per cent in the year-ago period. Net income was $53.3 million versus $25.3 million and adjusted net income was $68.9 million versus $42.7 million year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was $99.6 million versus $68.3 million a year ago.

September 5, 2018

Renovations Boosts Residential Construction Investment


Investment in residential construction in Canada increased 7.8 per cent year over year to $36 billion in the second quarter, says Statistics Canada. Every component except single homes and mobile homes contributed to the year-over-year increase in spending on residential construction in the second quarter. The growth was led by spending on apartment buildings, up $1.2 billion or 26.7 per cent, followed by investment in renovations, up $1 billion or 6.7 per cent. Spending on renovations increased in six provinces, with Ontario ($582.6 million) and Quebec ($276.9 million) leading the nation. The largest declines for this component were in Alberta (down $101.0 million) and Saskatchewan which dropped $26.6 million. Ontario, up $1.1 billion or eight per cent), and Quebec at $1.1 billion or 15.8 per cent) posted the largest gains in total spending on residential construction. The Atlantic provinces ‒ with Prince Edward Island posting its seventh consecutive double-digit year-over-year increase, up 20.5 per cent or $18.9 million ‒ posted gains as well. However, on the prairies, Manitoba ($19.1 million or 1.8 per cent) was the lone province to post gains. Saskatchewan (down $119.6 million) and Alberta ($95.7 million) reported year-over-year declines in residential investment. In the second quarter, investment in single homes declined by $327.6 million, the first year-over-year drop since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Askuity Calls For Industry Voices


Retail sales enablement platform provider Askuity is calling for industry voices for its annual ‘2019 POS Data Study.’ The survey takes roughly five minutes and participants will receive a $5 coffee gift card upon completion. In its third year of publication, the ‘2019 POS Data Study’ takes input from brands and manufacturers in order to examine the complex relationship between retail brands and data. The study will focus on trends, best practices, how brands are using point-of-sale (POS) data, which retail verticals are most active in analyzing the data, and the impact of the data on retailer meetings and buyer relationships. The survey closes Friday, September 7. For more information or to take the survey, visit Askuity 2018 POS Data Study

Transport Canada Supports Vehicle Automation


Transport Canada, a government of Canada agency, will provide $2.9 million in funding to the Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System program to help Canadian jurisdictions prepare for connected and automated vehicles. It says connected and automated vehicles will bring about significant transformation in the transportation system, communities, and economy. They have the potential to improve road safety, reduce congestion, increase mobility, protect the environment, and generate new economic opportunities for middle-class Canadians. In particular, the funding will support research, studies, and technology demonstrations across Canada. Results will help address technical, policy, and regulatory issues related to connected and automated vehicles. Findings will be shared extensively to encourage further innovation across Canada.

Mobile Shopping Continues Increase


As mobile shopping continues to grow, consumers are downloading retailer mobile apps at double the rate of years past and conducting more in-app purchases, says a report from Synchrony. The ‘2018 Digital Study’ shows that 67 per cent of consumers have downloaded a retailer’s app; more than half of those did so specifically for a coupon or discount offer. As well, nearly half of consumers that have downloaded a retailer’s app use it for purchases. “In today’s competitive landscape, a mobile application is not just another piece of technology for retailers, it is a vital tool to engage shoppers with their brand,” says Maya Mikhailov, senior vice-president, chief marketing officer with GPShopper, a developer of mobile apps acquired by Synchrony in 2017. “Consumers that use retail mobile applications are a retailer’s top shoppers. As such, they want their apps to be tailored to their unique shopping experiences and preferences.”

Strong Growth Forecast For Connected Washing Machines


The North American connected washing machine market is expected to witness market growth of 21.1 per cent compounded annually from 2017 to 2023, says a report by ResearchAndMarkets. Smart washing machines can save time and energy. These machines lead to increased comfort levels and convenience for the end-users. North America is one of the most lucrative markets for these products. Growing internet adoption, technological advancements, and ease of access are some of the major factors that are fueling the growth of the market.

September 4, 2018

Castle Shows Appreciation

Over 150 guests representing 80 Castle vendor partners from across Canada attended Castle’s annual ‘Vendor Appreciation Golf Tournament’ on August 27. The participants had the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, win prizes, and enjoy a day at the award-winning course in North Halton, ON. The tournament recognizes the valued vendor partners who play an on-going role in the success of Castle and the independent retailer. “Castle recognizes the importance of acknowledging the contribution of our vendor network and appreciates the dedication and commitment required to be successful in this industry. It is important to show gratitude to our suppliers for their dedication and their commitment to Castle,” says Ken Jenkins, Castle’s president The annual charity golf function supports The SickKids Foundation and this year’s tournament raised an all-time record amount of over $30,000 in charitable donations.

Technology Provides Savings Opportunities

Virtual assistants are expected to play a role in how consumers save as the technology’s popularity increases, says the ‘2018 Valassis Purse String Survey.’ While voice-activated shopping is still relatively new, there’s an interest in utilizing it for savings opportunities. Of the 21 per cent of respondents that own an in-home voice assistant device or smart speaker, 32 per cent are interested in receiving coupons and discounts through those devices. This percentage is even higher among Millennials (48 per cent) and parents (42 per cent). The report, released ahead of ‘National Coupon Month’ this month, shows 81 per cent of consumers like brands to communicate coupons and offers in both print and online so they don’t miss savings. As well, 74 per cent say seeing an offer in both print and online captures their attention. Sixty per cent say seeing an offer in both print and online makes them more likely to make a purchase.

Younger Generation Needs Education In Homeownership

With the mounting cost of home ownership in Ontario and British Columbia, it is no surprise that 38 per cent of Canadians expressed no desire to own a home. However, nearly 51 per cent of Generation Z (age 18 to 24) in the Greater Vancouver, BC, area would like to own a home in the next few years, while those in Toronto, ON, are more inclined to continue to rent or live with their parents, says a survey by RE/MAX. Generation Z is expected to outnumber Millennials within a year and as such, this generation will have a significant impact on the housing market over the next 20 years. “While the survey showed interesting trends across two of the hottest markets, the Gen Zers we speak to are eager to become informed and excited about the future of home ownership,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, RE/MAX of western Canada. The survey also finds that 46 per cent of respondents who don't currently own a home, would like to in the next few years.

Randall’s To Carry Sansin Wood Finishes

Paint and wallcovering retailer Randall’s will now carry Sansin Corporation’s exterior and interior line of wood finishes. Randall’s, a 70-year-old private company with three locations in the Ottawa, ON, region, will carry Sansin’s Purity Interior Stains and Clears and Exterior Enviro Stains.

Wegmans Offers App To Visually-impaired Customers

U.S. supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets has partnered with augmented reality company Aira to enable blind and low-vision customers to have an easier shopping experience. These customers can download the Aira app on their smartphone and use it to connect to a remote, sighted agent to access information on demand. On request, Aira agents can help shoppers navigate the store, find specific items, and identify the shortest checkout lines. Aira is a San Diego, CA-based startup that makes use of wearable technology, artificial intelligence, and live, human assistance to deliver real-time visual description for people who are blind or have low vision. Using a smartphone or a pair of smart glasses, the vision-impaired customer can connect to a remote, trained professional who can provide assistance on-demand using a live camera stream, GPS, maps, and information sourced from the web.

Alternative Materials To Affect Aluminum Gutter Market

Demand for aluminum gutters and downspouts is forecast to reach $4 billion in 2022, an increase of 3.4 per cent annually, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Increases will be driven by ongoing growth in the large residential improvement and repair market. In linear feet, demand for aluminum gutter and downspout products is projected to increase 1.6 per cent per year to 1.6 billion in 2022. Aluminum is the material most used for gutter systems, resulting in a largely mature market. Long-term value growth will be supported by the promotion of value-added products and accessories – like rainwater harvesting equipment, gutter guards, and decorative features such as rain chains – in an effort to combat market maturity. However, aluminum gutter guards will continue to face competition from plastic and steel varieties, resulting in only moderate gains in an otherwise expanding segment.

August 31, 2018

Christmas Should Start Earlier

Hardware retailers should start their Christmas season in September, says Ray Chapman, retail project manager for CNRG (Central Network Retail Group). Speaking with Shelly Barney, a buyer with CNRG, at the Orgill Fall Dealer Market, he said the Christmas selling season is only about six weeks. However, it can be one of the most important selling seasons for a hardware store. He suggested that merchandising start in September or October to let customers know “you carry Christmas.” It is also where a retailer can make the dollars because while some may complain about Christmas starting to early, they will pay full price. Successfully merchandising Christmas starts with creating an ambience right from the road to draw people in. In fact, a single strand of Christmas lights will do, but this is an opportunity to get really creative, he said. Once inside the store, the Christmas ambience needs to be maintained even if seasonal is at the back of the store. Signage should direct customers to it. Barney said while lights are the most important Christmas category, accounting for 60 to 70 per cent of sales, stores should feature more including yard art and Christmas décor. As well, everything should be lit up so people can see what things look like and visualize how they will look in their home. And retailers can differentiate themselves from the big boxes by selling bulk wire and bulbs which enable a homeowner to create their own light strands in the colours they want to make their house look different.

Lowe’s Canada Launches Annual Heroes Campaign

Lowe’s Canada has launched its national ‘Lowe’s Canada Heroes’ campaign. This year, for the very first time, every Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate store in the country will support a non-profit organization or public school in the community by collecting donations to help it fulfill its mission or carry out a specific project. A total of over 260 local organizations will be financially supported by this campaign throughout September. From September 1 to 30, customers from all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores will be invited to make a donation at check-out to support the local organization chosen by their store. Lowe’s Canada will match 50 per cent of all customer donations up to $2,000 per store. “The Lowe’s Canada Heroes campaign gives our employees the opportunity to get involved with a local organization of their choice to help carry out inspiring projects and improve the lives of the people around them,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs, and compliance at Lowe’s Canada. “This campaign has run in our Lowe’s stores across the country for several years and we’re excited to extend it to RONA and Reno-Depot.”

Norbord Releases ‘Thank A Framer’ Campaign

Norbord Inc. will launch its second video to kick off ‘Thank a Framer’ month this September. This video follows the process of manufacturing oriented strand board (OSB) from the forest to the construction site, paying homage to workers in the supply chain along the way. It aims to highlight the vital role framers play and supports Norbord's efforts to ease the construction labour shortage in the U.S. With more than 200,000 construction jobs vacant, the home building industry needs to train more people to fill these positions, says the company. Last year, Norbord launched the #ThankAFramer Campaign to raise awareness and donated US$1.1 million to the Home Builders Institute (HBI) to train framers to alleviate the labour shortage.

Strong Sales Forecast For Smart Thermostats

U.S. demand for smart and connected thermostats is forecast to increase 23 per cent per year through 2022 to 14.5 million units – largely tracking value demand trends, but at a significantly faster pace due to falling prices – with smart thermostats siphoning market share away from connected types, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Going forward, the most significant driver of unit sales of smart and connected thermostats will be the rapidly declining prices, which will support multiple-unit consumer adoption. Ramped up efforts by utility companies, homebuilders, and HVAC contractors to promote these products based on their cost- and energy-saving benefits will also underlie growth. The market is expected to transition to become more replacement-oriented between 2022 and 2025, which will correspond with declining sales. By then, most households interested in these products will have purchased one.

Fortune To Acquire Fiberon

Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. plans to acquire Fiberon, LLC, a manufacturer of outdoor performance materials used primarily in decking, railing, and fencing products. Fiberon will join Fortune Brands’ new doors and security segment. Fortune says the acquisition will complement its Therma-Tru door brand and provide category expansion and product extension opportunities. Fiberon focuses its business on capped composite non-wood products which are growing at nearly 10 per cent annually and currently represent approximately one quarter of the decking market.

Global Solar Home Competition Generates New Ideas

The ‘Solar Decathlon China 2018’ (SDC2018) was held August 3 to 17 to encourage students to imagine and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The international collegiate competition enables students to use technologies and innovations from world-leading research and design teams and aims to integrate solar energy, energy conservation, and architecture in new ways to create comfortable, livable, sustainable, and fully functional solar houses. Nineteen teams consisting of 34 schools from eight countries and regions were required to build a 120 to 200 square metre, one- or two-storey solar house that can be put to permanent use. The student designs provided valuable references to rural revitalization as they delivered solutions for pressing social issues such as future urban development and the aging effect. Some of the innovative ideas included crop stalks mixed into bricks, a water collection and self-cleaning system, and a villa community for the elderly and a smart home.

Industry Trends Focus Of Security Canada Central

Security industry trends and innovation will be the main topics at ‘Security Canada Central.’ This year’s event will feature companies that are driving innovation and the opportunity to learn from industry leaders. It takes place October 24 and 25 at the Toronto Congress Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit Security Canada Central

August 30, 2018

Payment Methods Turning To Digitization

Digitization is affecting the way Canadians pay for the goods and services they buy. In the 12 months to June 2018, the bulk of total personal spending (76 per cent) by Canadians aged 18 and older was done using digital payment methods, including debit and credit cards, preauthorized payments, or online banking, says Statistics Canada in its ‘Canada Digital Economy Survey.’ At the same time, cash or cheque were used for 21 per cent of all personal spending, while other payment methods, such as reward points and gift cards, accounted for the remainder. On average, Canadians 65 years of age and older used cash for 30 per cent of their total personal spending, while those aged 35 to 44 years used digital methods for 80 per cent of all their spending.

Ply Gem To Acquire Andersen Silver Line Division

Ply Gem plans to acquire Andersen Corporation’s hollow core vinyl window and patio door business, including the Silver Line and American Craftsman brands. Andersen say the divestiture is part of its broader strategy to sharpen the focus on its Renewal by Andersen and specialty brands and to continue to make investments required to support its proprietary Fibrex engineered composite products. Ply Gem will acquire the four Silver Line manufacturing plants and associated distribution and support services. The more than 4,000 employees working in these locations and functions will transition to Ply Gem with the business. The transaction is expected to close by early in the fourth calendar quarter of 2018.

Schneider Electric To Relocate Edmonton Operations

Schneider Electric will relocate its current operations in Edmonton, AB, to a newly-constructed, larger space in March 2019 to meet increased market demand. As well as becoming the new workplace for all existing Edmonton employees, the company will also be adding additional employee positions to support growth. The move to the 77,000-square-foot facility from the existing 59,000-square-foot location will provide the company with enough capacity to introduce production of ready-to-install compatible power panelboards to the current production of QED switchboards, motor control centres, and lighting panelboards. Next year, all 102 existing employees currently at two separately leased locations will begin working at the new facility. The location will offer mixed-use office space and a production floor to accommodate current global supply chain operations, Edmonton sales, and Edmonton service employees. The new facility will include full office integration of connected products, edge control, and analytics software on the plant floor for a ‘smart factory’ environment.

Orgill To Expand Texas DC

Orgill, Inc. is expanding its distribution centre in Kilgore, TX. The company will almost double the size of the existing facility to nearly one-million square feet. The company says growth in the region has made the expansion a necessity. Construction is expected to complete by June 2019.

Residential IoT Device Sales To Increase

Global annual revenue from residential internet of things (IoT) device sales is expected to increase to $167.2 billion in 2027, says a report from Navigant Research. This includes connected devices, software, and services. As residential IoT technologies continue to emerge, they are becoming fundamental to supporting connectivity, communications, and interoperability in the home, through concepts like the smart home, as well as a variety of other business models and use cases that have been brought to life. The market represents a large opportunity for stakeholders that can capitalize on connectivity and technology with access to more data than ever before. Navigant says there are more connected devices and data than ever before and the industry is only beginning to scratch the surface of opportunity IoT has to offer. IoT is already present in the home and it continues to gain momentum as technologies emerge that empower consumers to better monitor and control their lives.

Weyerhaeuser Announces Succession Plan

Devin W. Stockfish will be president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser Company, effective January 1. He is currently senior vice-president of the company’s timberlands business. He succeeds Doyle R. Simons, who has elected to retire. Adrian Blocker will succeed Stockfish as senior vice-president of timberlands. He currently leads the company's wood products business. Keith O'Rear will succeed Blocker as senior vice-president of wood products. He currently leads the company's wood products sales and marketing organization.

August 29, 2018

Retailers Need to Innovate To Survive

Nationwide store closures and the recent high-profile collapse of iconic brands such as Zellers and Sears send a clear message: Canadian small- and medium-sized retailers need to innovate to survive and thrive, says a report by BDO Canada. ‘Retail Trends in Canada 2018’ shows Canadian retailers are lagging behind their U.S. and UK counterparts on both the implementation of eCommerce and the use of data analytics. However, BDO Canada says they can future-proof their businesses by looking at five critical retail trends and focus areas including technology, experiential retail, eCommerce versus bricks-and-mortar, consumer shopping habits, and customer relationships. “It is now business-critical for Canadian retailers to rethink and redesign their strategy,” says Eric Matusiak, partner and national retail leader at BDO Canada. “Several of these trends in the industry have had enough traction to be proven, but there’s still time for retailers to adapt to them. A methodical approach is recommended by developing a holistic strategy rather than jumping on the bandwagon.” The full report is available at BDO Canada

Lee Valley Opens Laval Store

Lee Valley is opening its 20th location in Laval, QC. The 25,000-square-foot store will open in central Laval in October. The retailer is known for products in the woodworking, gardening, hobby, hardware, gift, and seasonal categories. The Ottawa-based chain also owns the Veritas Tools brand. The company was founded by Leonard Lee in 1978.

Customer Experience Driving Supply Chain Innovation

A survey by supply chain software and services provider BluJay Solutions shows that above-average performers and innovators in the supply chain industry focus on customer experience. Conversely, average or below performers and laggards measure customer experience much less and identify cost reduction as the driving factor in supply chain innovation. The data indicates that logistics service providers (LSPs) are champions of enhanced customer experience as they look for ways to differentiate themselves, focusing less on competing on cost, which often leads to commoditization. Innovators and early adopters seem to have matured to the point where they are less concerned about their existing systems and are now focused on outwardly focused needs such as flexibility/innovation of supply chains and working with other functional groups. In contrast, laggards are still focusing on updating their antiquated systems and are trailing on adopting integrated solutions. These findings suggest that in order to drive faster and more efficient supply chain innovation, leaders need to find flexible, future-proof solutions and continue to innovate, while laggards must leapfrog ahead by replacing their outdated IT systems with modern ones that eliminate the silos that still exist between their systems and processes.

Orgill Partners With Unilog

Orgill, Inc. has partnered with Unilog, a provider of eCommerce solutions. Under the agreement, Orgill dealers will have shared access to a new eCommerce website and product content subscription services. The partnership will also allow Orgill to provide a digital catalogue of more than 150,000 items with enhanced descriptions and content. Dealers will be able to subscribe to this digital content and display it on their website for informational purposes or for online sales.

Businesses Should Consider Landline Alternatives

With a sharp decrease in landline use and some predicting they could be extinct as early as 2020, businesses must address their future communication needs now, says Amr Ibrahim, chief executive officer of ULTATEL, a U.S. telecommunications service provider. Ibrahim says wireless is an option, but it comes with its own challenges, such as telemarketing fraud. “Small business start-ups, in particular, often rely on employees using their cell phones for business calls in the absence of landlines, but that’s a trap for businesses to fall victim to robocalls and fraud.” He says a better option VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems. VoIP phone systems offer a unified workplace phone system that works where the team works. The system can allow employees to use their own devices and can eliminate the need for expensive technology.

Swiss Diamond Names Canadian Representative

Don Schacter + Associates Sales & Marketing now represents Swiss Diamond in Canada. The agency has more than 30 years of experience in retail at all levels including department stores, mass merchants, grocery, supercentres, drug stores, home centres, specialty chains, health/wellness, independent retailers, and foodservice. Swiss Diamond will now manage all marketing, sales, and operations activities for the North America market out of its Charlotte, NC, office. Don Schacter + Associates sales representatives include Jim and Greg Moodie for British Columbia; Jerry Polsky for Alberta/Saskatchewan; Darrell Hubelit for Manitoba; Wayne Bentley for southwestern Ontario; Jim Kemp for Toronto, ON; Tim Smith for eastern, central, and northern Ontario; and Francois Boutin and Brigitte Meunier for Quebec. Swiss Diamond International is a privately-held Swiss company that manufactures cookware.

August 28, 2018

Castle Adds Members

Castle Building Centres Group has added new members in western Canada and the Maritimes. Imperia Wholesale and Retail Inc. is located Morden, MB, in the Pembina Valley region. The new Castle location and lumberyard will be offering an extensive selection of key building material products and hardware with owners Volodymyr Shkyne and Viktor Shulz focused on growing the community and continuing to forge successful relationships and work with local businesses and trades. Cabot Building Supply in Dingwall, NS, will service the building materials needs of the surrounding communities. The family run business was founded in 1979 by Murdock MacLeod whose son Kirk and daughter Kimber joined a few years later.

Simple Measures Can Reduce Theft

Stores need to have manager override for every return over $30, says Nathan Looman, president of Watcher Total Protection. Speaking at the Orgill Fall Dealer Market on ‘Retail Loss Prevention: How to Protect your Store Assets from Employee & Customer Theft,’ he said with theft costing American retailers more than $16 billion cost, this shrink can account for up to four per cent of gross sales. However, a few simple measures like setting override controls can cut this in half, he said. One way employees are stealing on returns is when a customer buys an item and doesn’t take their receipt, an increasing occurrence these days. With that receipt, the employee can refund the purchase price to themselves. Since drawer balances at point of sale are difficult to manage, what starts as an occasional incident can escalate. Retailers need to watch for cashiers who are constantly selling items and making returns. This is a giant red flag, he said. Steps to prevent it include giving managers rolling authorization passwords as systems break down if things get busy. They can also require that a second receipt be printed and taped to returned items so weekly returns can be compared to verify stock is there. If they see there are eight receipts and 12 returns, this indicates a problem, he said.

Strong Sales Forecast For Windows And Doors Markets

U.S. demand for windows and doors is forecast to rise 4.8 per cent annually to $34.3 billion in 2021, says ResearchAndMarkets. Sales will rise on new housing construction activity, increased spending on commercial building construction and remodeling, and growing demand for high-value, more aesthetically pleasing windows and doors sold at higher price points. The global aluminum door and window market also looks promising, with opportunities in both the residential and commercial construction sectors. The global aluminum door and window market is estimated to reach $72.1 billion by 2021 and to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1 per cent from 2016 to 2021. Global composite doors and windows is projected to reach $1.17 million by 2021, at a CAGR of 6.33 per cent from 2016 to 2021. The key factor expected to drive the growth of the composite doors and composite windows market is the increasing demand for composite doors and composite windows for industrial applications, due to their resistance to corrosion and heat and low maintenance.

BuildDirect Enhances Credit Program For Pros

Online home improvement retailer BuildDirect has launched its PRO Credit update, an instant credit benefit as a part of the BuildDirect PRO Rewards Program. Home improvement professionals registered as PROs can earn redeemable credit after every purchase. Rewards immediately appear on their accounts and can be applied to any future purchase. Additionally, BuildDirect has increased the ceiling for possible credit from $2,500 to $5,000 per year so that PROs can earn more rewards than ever before.

MiTek Upgrades Deck Designer

MiTek has released a new version of its MiTek Deck Designer (formerly USP Deck Designer) that offers a series of improvements. This version of the software allows advanced customization of deck levels as well as the direction, colour, and size of deck planks, among other features. Users can design and shape multi-level decks in a 3D environment and create platform stairs, while visualizing their projects using a variety of decking and construction materials, ranging from wood to composite decking and metal. The program also allows the design of glass infill railing and the creation of a complete material list once the design phase is complete. The program is suitable for all user levels from beginner homeowners to professional deck builders and retailers. It provides a materials cut list, along with permit submittals that can be saved, printed, eMailed, and exported.

Denton Becomes Lowe’s Chief Financial Officer

David M. Denton will be executive vice-president, chief financial officer with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Currently, he serves as executive vice-president and chief financial officer of CVS Health. He will join Lowe’s shortly after the closing of the CVS acquisition of Aetna, which is expected in the second half of 2018.

August 27, 2018

Consumer Values Shifting

Consumer values are shifting to self-gratification where less value is put on price and simplicity becomes key, says Lisa Stone, a sales executive at Valassis. Speaking on ‘Retail Apocalypse or Retail Renaissance: How Does This Digital Stuff Work Anyway’ at the Orgill’s Fall Dealer Market, she said shopping routines that are not gratifying and simple will result in lost business. And even though the home improvement industry has outperformed the rest of the retail sector in the last seven years, these retailers need to take this into consideration. Still, it does face headwinds and tailwinds. While these include home sales and home prices as well as policy changes like tariffs and interest rates, they also need to be aware of the growth of non-traditional retailers like Amazon, Houzz, and Wayfair. They need to message to newly-empowered shoppers who are able to make purchases at any time and any place on their smartphones. This means everything they do must magnify their message and ensure it is front of mind. One approach is to integrate their campaigns between print and digital. She cited statistics from a Kantar/TNS Measured Media 2016 for Home Centers & Hardware Stores report which shows print influences 34 per cent of purchasing decisions and digital 33 per cent.

New Housing Construction Investment Increases

Investment in new housing construction increased 6.3 per cent in June compared with the same month a year earlier to $5 billion, says Statistics Canada. The year-over-year increase was mainly attributable to higher spending on apartment building construction, while investment in single family homes declined for the fourth consecutive month. Spending was up in seven provinces, led by Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario. In all three provinces, the increase was led by investment in apartment building construction. Despite the continuing year-over-year decline in spending on single family homes, investment in construction for this building type continued to account for the majority of investment in every province except Quebec and British Columbia. Investment in single homes accounted for 33.8 per cent of total investment in Quebec and 39.7 per cent in British Columbia.

Lowe’s Reassesses Business To Focus On Core Competency

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is exiting its Orchard Supply Hardware business as part of the company’s strategic reassessment which includes a stronger focus on its core home improvement business. The company will close all 99 Orchard Supply Hardware stores located in California, Oregon, and Florida, as well as the distribution facility that services those stores. To facilitate the wind-down, the company will conduct store closing sales. It has partnered with Hilco Merchant Services to help manage the process. “In addition to the decision to exit Orchard Supply Hardware, we are developing plans to aggressively rationalize store inventory, reducing lower performing inventory while investing in increased depth of velocity items,” says Marvin R. Ellison, president and chief executive officer. "Our strategic reassessment is ongoing as we evaluate the productivity of our real estate portfolio and non-retail business investments.”

IKEA Installing Solar Panels On Alberta Stores

As part of its long-standing commitment to renewable energy, IKEA Canada will install solar panels on its stores in Edmonton and Calgary, AB. Both systems are currently being installed and are expected to be operational by end of year. At a capacity of 840 kilowatts (kW), the IKEA Edmonton system will be one of the largest commercial rooftop solar systems in the city, with 2,905 panels and expected production of 1,180 megawatt hours (MWh), making it among the most productive systems owned by IKEA Canada. It will offset approximately 878 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. The 660kW IKEA Calgary system will have 2,240 panels and expected production of 1,000 MWh, offsetting approximately 744 tonnes of C02 emissions per year. IKEA Canada partnered with RESCo Energy Inc. for the design, installation, and maintenance of the solar systems.

ETA Expanding Canadian Presence

The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) is expanding its presence in Canada to help drive innovation in the global market for payments technology services. The Canadian advocacy and policy initiatives are guided by a committee of ETA member companies which include Moneris, First Data, Worldpay, Pivotal Payments, Paysafe, Square, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon. To strengthen these efforts, ETA has engaged public affairs firm Tactix. The announcement builds on the association's existing programs focused on the future of fintech in Canada. With over 500 member companies, ETA supports a modern payments system that promotes competition and financial inclusion.

Strong Performance For ROCKWOOL

ROCKWOOL International A/S had sales of €667 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 17.3 per cent over sales in the second quarter of 2017. EBIT was €91 million for the quarter, an increase of 43 per cent over the year-ago period. EBIT margin was 13.6 per cent versus 2.7 per cent. The company says it had growth in all regions with growing market demand for non-combustible insulation and other stone wool products.

August 24, 2018

New Store Debuts At Market

Orgill’s Fall Dealer Market attracted a record-breaking number of attendees from all over the world at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, to see new home improvement products, find great deals, network with other independent retailers, and much more. “We’re excited to see so many of our customers here in Las Vegas,” says Ron Beal, Orgill’s chairman, president, and CEO. “Our team and vendors have worked hard to put together a show that will deliver on our customers’ expectations.” The Orgill Fall Dealer Market, which opened August 23, covers nearly one million square feet over two floors and offers opportunities for retailers to meet with vendors, tour concept stores, explore product showcases, and learn more about Orgill’s many retail programs and services. Of course, they also have the opportunity to shop for thousands of products from across all home improvement categories. A popular feature of Orgill’s Dealer Markets are its concept stores, which showcase full-size retail stores that allow attendees to see real-life product selections and merchandising tactics. Green River Hardware & Garden, which debuted at the Spring Dealer Market last February, made its return in Las Vegas and offers plenty of space-saving techniques, showcasing how to fit the SKU count normally found in a 30,000-square-foot store into an 18,000-square-foot space. Cider Mill Home Centre is a 12,000-square-foot concept store that is new at this market. It features a complete home centre product selection of Canadian-compliant products. Orgill’s Spring Dealer Market will be February 21 to 23, 2019, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Castle Gets Toronto Member

Toronto, ON-based Eastway Construction and Supplies Ltd. has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Situated in Scarborough, the retail store will offer a full line of building material products and hardware. Owner Raymond Wan brings over 30 years of industry experience and knowledge to the location and is familiar with the benefits of Castle’s approach. He previously owned and operated a former Castle location for many years.

Home Improvement Category Soars On Amazon Prime Day

The home improvement category saw a huge spike in sales during Amazon’s ‘Prime Day 2018.’ The online retailer said the event was the “biggest global shopping event in its history,” with more than 100 million products sold during 36 hours, says an analysis from Profitero. The analysis shows Amazon’s sales nearly tripled during the event, compared to average daily sales the week leading up to the event. Although electronics had the highest spike in sales at 215 per cent, home improvement was not far behind with an increase in sales that was 200 per cent higher than normal. Other key areas that had increases were private label and grocery.

New GTA Home Sales Slide

Sales of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario slowed down in July, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Total July new home sales of 1,071 units were down 44 per cent from last July and down 55 per cent from the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units were down 52 per cent from July 2017 and down 40 per cent from the 10-year average. Sales of new single-family homes, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) at 216 units sold, were up 85 per cent from last July ‒ a month that saw the lowest single-family home sales in decades with 117 units sold ‒ but still 77 per cent below the 10-year average.

Atis Group Acquires Vitrotec

Quebec-based window and door manufacturer Atis Group has acquired Montérégie region retailer Vitrotec Portes & Fenêtres Inc. Vitrotec operates two stores in St-Ours and St-Hyacinthe, QC. It was established in 1976 and acquired by François Bouthillier and Chantal Renaud in 2013. Bouthillier will continue to act as general manager at Vitrotec.

Home Hardware’s McNabb Announces Retirement

Rick McNabb, vice-president of marketing and sales at Home Hardware Stores Limited, will retire September 12. In this role, he has led key marketing initiatives since 2016, including the company’s new brand stance, tagline, and creative. He was also instrumental in the launch of the website this year and has built momentum in POS analytics and customer loyalty programs. Previously, he was an executive leader at Cara Foods.

Ace Revenues Rise

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.59 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 6.4 per cent over revenues in the second quarter of 2017. Net income was $54.8 million for the quarter, a 7.2 per cent over the year-ago period. Retail same-store sales increased 3.3 per cent year-over-year. Total wholesale revenues were $1.47 billion, an increase of 4.9 per cent, and total retail revenues were $117.7 million, an increase of 30.2 per cent. Wholesale gross profit for the quarter was $179.7 million, an increase of $5.8 million from last year. Retail gross profit was $49.4 million, an increase of $10 million from the second quarter of 2017.

August 23, 2018

Slight Decline In June Retail Sales

Following a 2.2 per cent increase in May, retail sales edged down 0.2 per cent in June to $50.7 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in six of 11 subsectors, representing 52 per cent of total retail trade. Lower sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset higher sales at food and beverage stores and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Excluding the first two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.3 per cent. On a quarterly basis, retail sales were up one per cent in the second quarter following a 0.5 per cent decrease in the first quarter. In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.9 per cent in the second quarter. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers sales were up 1.1 per cent in June. Retail sales were down in six provinces for the month, led by British Columbia and Quebec. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.4 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 18 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 4.2 per cent.

IKEA Canada Opens Quebec City Location

Thousands of people lined up to celebrate the opening of IKEA Canada’s Quebec City, QC, store on August 22. The celebration had musical entertainment, treats from IKEA’s Swedish Food Market, and over $10,000 in prizes for customers. The 340,000-square-foot store, located in the Sainte-Foy district of the city, is the retailer’s 14th Canadian store. The store, which will be LEED certified, features nearly 10,000 products, 50 inspirational room settings, three market-relevant home interiors, a SMALAND supervised children's play area, and a 500-seat restaurant.

July New U.S. Construction Starts Slide

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $817.4 billion, new construction starts in the U.S. in July fell nine per cent from the elevated pace reported in June, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The latest month’s decline followed strong gains for total construction starts during the previous two months, with May up 14 per cent and June up 11 per cent. By major sector, non-residential building dropped 22 per cent after soaring 59 per cent in June. The other two major sectors in July held close to their June amounts, with residential building up two per cent and non-building construction unchanged. The July statistics produced a reading of 173 for the Dodge Index, down from the 190 for June which was the highest level so far during 2018. The July reading of 173 shows that at least the initial month of the third quarter is continuing the gradual upward trend shown by the first two quarters of this year.

Derby Makes Promotions

Toby Bostwick has been promoted to senior vice-president of business development with Derby Building Products Inc., the manufacturer of Tando and Novik brands of shake and stone. Previously, he was director of product development. Mathieu Piché has been promoted to research and development manager and Jean-François Tanguay to customer service manager.

Orchard Supply Divestment Affects Lowe's Earnings

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $1.5 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase compared to net earnings of $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2017. The results were due in part to the company’s decision to close all locations of Orchard Supply Hardware. Sales for the quarter increased 7.1 per cent to $20.9 billion compared to sales of $19.5 billion in the year-ago period, while comparable sales increased 5.2 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 5.3 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin for the company for the quarter was $7.2 billion and 34.5 per cent of sales, up from $6.7 billion and 34.2 per cent of sales last year.

Living Spaces For Life Stages Focus Of HomeFest

HomeFest is a festival-style event designed to show homeowners the potential of their home and ways they can mesh up their living space to align with their life stage. The event will feature tiny homes, customizable kitchens, how to maximize space, and interactive culinary masterclass series. It takes place November 2 to 4 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit HomeFest

August 22, 2018

Building Materials Lead Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales declined for the second time in three months, down 0.8 per cent to $63.1 billion in June, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in five of seven subsectors, accounting for 71 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and parts and the miscellaneous subsectors contributed the most to the decline. On a quarterly basis, the building material and supplies subsector (6.6 per cent) led the gains in the second quarter, attributable to higher sales in May and record sales levels in June. The building material and supplies subsector also led the gains in volume terms, up 5.2 per cent in the second quarter. Higher current and constant dollar sales for this subsector in the second quarter more than offset declines in the first quarter. Sales were down in eight provinces in June, accounting for 46 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada, with Alberta and Quebec contributing the most to the decline. Wholesale inventories rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 1.8 per cent to a record $85.7 billion in June. In the building material and supplies subsector, inventories rose 3.7 per cent in June, accounting for the largest gain in dollar terms.

Quebec Setting Aside Millions To Offset Tariffs

The Quebec government is setting aside $863 million for companies affected by tariffs imposed on Canada by the U.S. government. The money will be available over five years in direct investments, tax subsidies, and training. Quebec’s plan will see money go towards offering companies liquidity to continue their activities and to reduce contributions small- and medium-sized companies have to make to the province’s health services fund. The plan also aims to increase investment in the agricultural sector and it sets aside $55 million for labour-related programs. Quebec premier Philippe Couillard says the five-year financial package is expected to spur $3 billion for the Quebec economy over the same period.

PGT Completes Western Window Acquisition

PGT Innovations has completed it acquisition of Western Window Systems. PGT says the acquisition will diversify its geographic footprint and customer base and give it a higher margin profile as well as add value for shareholders.

Deep Green Tones Named Colour Of The Year

Night Watch, a deep green-black, and Mojito Shimmer, a glistening, frosted dark green, have been named as the ‘2019 Colours of the Year’ by DULUX Paints. Night Watch is from the brand’s new colour collection and Mojito Shimmer is from the Dulux Effects Finishes VENETIAN SILK collection. “Both of these colours represent the ultimate in luxe, delivering a rich, striking look that brings sophistication and depth to living spaces,” says Martin Tustin-Fuchs, PPG brand manager, Dulux Paints by PPG. “An evolution from last year’s popular tinted black, these glamourous dark greens are symbolic of consumers’ desire for positive change – to move from darkness to twilight and to search for an element of rebirth in today’s complex, technologically-driven world.” Night Watch is inspired by nature, and Mojito Shimmer is a perfect complement colour, he says.

Walmart Phasing Out Certain Paint Removal Chemicals

Walmart will phase out paint removal products with the chemicals methylene chloride and N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) from its stores in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and its website by February 2019. This initiative is consistent with the retailer’s efforts to work with suppliers and the industry to accelerate the adoption and use of sustainable chemistry practices that exceed customers’ expectations. Similar to some of the retailer’s previous work on sustainable chemistry, this initiative also goes above and beyond current legal and regulatory compliances.

Strong Revenue At Intertape Polymer

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. had revenue of $249.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 18.5 per cent compared to revenue in the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin decreased to 21.9 per cent from 22.5 per cent in the quarter compared to last year. Net earnings increased $4.9 million to $15.1 million and adjusted EBITDA increased 11.3 per cent to $34.6 million.

Earnings Rise At Interfor

Interfor Corporation had net earnings of $63 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over net earnings of $24.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Adjusted net earnings were $68.9 million versus $28.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $123.8 million on sales of $619.9 million versus adjusted EBITDA of $81.1 million on sales of $527.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.

August 21, 2018

Employers Struggling To Fill Jobs

Forty-one per cent of Canadian employers report difficulty filling jobs, says the ManpowerGroup ‘2018 Talent Shortage Survey.’ While skilled trades are the hardest jobs to fill in Canada, sales representatives are a close second, followed by drivers. The report shows that at a time when organizations face a tightening labour market and the lowest unemployment in 40 years, most of the jobs where demand is growing are mid-skilled roles that require post-secondary training, yet not always a full university degree. That said, nearly three in four companies (68 per cent) are investing in learning platforms and development tools to build their talent pipeline, while 28 per cent are changing their existing work models, including offering flexible work arrangements to attract and retain talent. More than half of companies (56 per cent) are looking at different talent pools for skills including boomerang retirees or returning parents and part-timers.

Lowe’s Extends Partnership With Synchrony

Lowe’s has extended its partnership with consumer financial services company Synchrony. The multi-year extension of this strategic partnership will continue to offer Lowe’s customers purchasing options and benefits. As part of the extension, Synchrony will continue to manage and service the consumer and commercial credit card programs for Lowe’s customers at the retailers’ more than 1,740 U.S. stores, as well as on Lowes.com. The programs drive sales through a strong consumer offering, including five per cent off every day for all cardholders and special promotional offers. The relationship began in 1979 when the partnership started with a Lowe’s store card and has since expanded to multiple offerings that provide valuable benefits to both consumers and businesses. Synchrony continues to make strategic investments in the Lowe’s program to make the consumer experience easier by advancing technology capabilities.

RISI Acquires Random Lengths

Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, the parent company of RISI, Inc., an information provider for the global forest products industry, has acquired Random Lengths, a price reporting agency (PRA) for the wood products industry. Founded in 1944, Random Lengths provides price assessments and market reporting for the global wood products industry, with a core focus on the North American lumber and panels markets, publishing over 1,500 prices each week. Random Lengths will compliment and expand RISI’s existing wood products price reporting. RISI’s global head of price reporting, Matt Graves, will relocate to Eugene, OR, to lead the integration. Both organizations plan to continue their market reporting and publishing schedules as normal.

Strong Demand For BTW Pipe

Demand for pipe in behind-the-wall (BTW) plumbing is expected to grow five per cent annually to $6.5 billion in 2022, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Plastic pipe – which overtook metal pipe’s share of value demand in 2017 – will see the more rapid advances going forward, totaling $3.6 billion in 2022. Gains will be boosted by the continuing use of plastic pipe – particularly PEX – by plumbers and other construction professionals due to its low cost and ease of use. Demand for metal pipe in BTW plumbing will rise at a much more modest rate through 2022. Strong competition from inexpensive plastic pipe will check dollar gains. Continuing use of galvanized steel pipe – which commands a much higher per-foot price than other pipe types – will support metal pipe demand in value terms. U.S. demand for all types of BTW plumbing products is forecast to advance 4.6 per cent annually to $13.5 billion in 2022. To capitalize on this growth, it is important for industry participants to recognize the key factors boosting demand. These include rising single-family housing completions, design trends toward more bathrooms, consumer interest in larger kitchens and bathrooms with more fixtures, and increasing installation of radiant flooring systems.

HDI Makes Appointments

Drew Dickinson is president, Rugby, a division of Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI). He has been the chief operating officer of rugby for the past eight years. David Hughes is senior vice-president, acquisitions with Rugby. Previously, he was president.

James Hardie Profit Up 29 Per Cent

James Hardie had adjusted net operating profit of $79.9 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 29 per cent compared to the corresponding period in its 2018 year. Adjusted EBIT was $107.1 million for the quarter, an increase of 21 per cent year-over-year. Net sales were $651 million, up 28 per cent. The North America fibre cement segment volume increased five per cent and sales increased 10 per cent. The segment’s EBIT margin was 24.7 per cent for the quarter.

Taiga Posts Gains

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had sales of $422.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent compared to sales of $379.8 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin dollars for the quarter increased to $39.4 million compared to $33.7 million. Net earnings increased to $6.4 million from $5 million and EBITDA was $16.1 million compared to $14.3 million for the same period last year.

August 20, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise Again

Manufacturing sales rose 1.1 per cent to $58.1 billion in June, following a 1.5 per cent increase in May, says Statistics Canada. The increase in June was mainly due to sharply higher sales in the petroleum and coal product industry, while sales were down in the chemicals and food manufacturing industries. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales were up 0.7 per cent, indicating a higher volume of products sold. Sales rose in the fabricated metal three per cent) and the plastics and rubber (2.2 per cent) product industries while primary metal sales edged down 0.3 per cent to $4.6 billion in June, following four consecutive monthly sales increases totalling 13.9 per cent from January to May. Tariffs imposed by the U.S. on Canadian steel and aluminum products came into effect on June 1. Manufacturing sales increased in five provinces in June, led by Quebec and Alberta. Nova Scotia (8.2 per cent) posted the second largest provincial decrease. Total manufacturing inventories increased 0.5 per cent to $82.1 billion and the inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.42 in May to 1.41 in June. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Canadians Want More Payment Options

Friction at the end of the path to purchase both instore and online is causing 53 per cent of Canadians to abandon a purchase, says a study by Payments Canada. “The high abandonment rates at check-out suggest there is a high cost of not integrating faster, more convenient payment technologies,” says Gerry Gaetz, president and chief executive officer of Payments Canada. “Canadian consumers … are indicating that they will not buy from those businesses that don’t make the payment experience easy.” The report shows that 70 per cent of Canadians who have uploaded an eWallet such as Apple Pay, used this payment type at least once since its launch in Canada in mid-2017. There is also a growing appetite for other emerging payment technologies that cause less friction with 43 per cent of Canadians interested in invisible or non-check-out payments in store and one-third interested in payments via social networking apps. Canadians living in urban neighbourhoods are more interested in payments becoming more invisible (49 per cent) compared to suburban (42 per cent) or rural (31 per cent). Currently, 16 per cent of Canadians have uploaded an eWallet app.

Garaga Acquires Mid-America Door Company

Canadian garage door manufacturer Garaga Inc. has purchased Mid-America Door Company located in Ponca City, OK. Both Garaga and Mid-America Door manufacture residential and commercial sectional garage doors. Garaga specializes in polyurethane products, whereas Mid-America Door provides its dealers pan and styrene garage door products. Garaga plans to continue to grow both brands independently by leveraging and sharing the strengths of both. This transaction will significantly increase Garaga's footprint in the U.S.

Swim Spas Making Splash With Homeowners

A growing number of homeowners are taking the plunge into swim spas that can be used year-round ‒ even in Canada’s notoriously long-cold winters ‒ over traditional backyard pools, says Whitby, ON-based Arctic Spas. Swim spas are like a hybrid of a hot tub and a swimming pool. They have warm water and powerful jets, but stretch out longer than a hot tub so users can swim in place. “We’ve seen a lot more interest in swim spas over the past few years from homeowners who want to enjoy the fun and fitness aspects of going for a swim, but don’t want the expense or headaches of a major construction project to install a full-size pool,” says Philip Edey, general manager of Arctic Spas.

Energy Efficient Lighting Market Set For Rapid Growth

The global energy-efficient lighting market was valued at approximately $5.49 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of around $13.39 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a CAGR of around 13.57 per cent between 2018 and 2024, says a report by Zion Research. Technological advancements in the lighting systems not only provide energy efficiency, but also offer additional benefits such as light ambiance, ventilation, and warmth. In addition, these lighting devices add the aesthetic beauty to a house and eliminate the need for artificial heating and cooling. The installation of smart lighting devices helps in efficient energy consumption and effective regulation of thermal room temperatures. The efficient lighting devices also minimize the requirement for power-driven temperature control systems. Government initiatives for energy saving in order to maintain sustainability and the eco-friendly environment will also fuel the growth of the market. The energy efficient lighting market is categorized on the basis of the source into light emitting diodes (LED), high-intensity discharge lamps (HID), and linear fluorescent lamps (LFL). The LED segment held the major revenue share in 2017.

Hendry Joins AFA

George Hendry is director of marketing with AFA Forest Products Inc., effective September 4. Based out of the Langley, BC, branch, he will be responsible for national accounts, marketing and merchandising, product management and development, market research, distribution channel management, and special projects.

HDI Sales Up

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had consolidated sales of $298.2 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 7.4 per cent over consolidated sales of $277.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Sales from Canadian operations increased 4.1 per cent year-over-year and U.S. operations’ sales increased 12.4 per cent. Organic growth accounted for 8.6 per cent of this increase, with acquisitions-based growth contributing 3.8 per cent. Gross profit increased $1.5 million to $53 million and gross profit margin was 17.8 per cent. Second quarter profit increased two per cent and adjusted profit increased 8.8 per cent year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was $16.8 million, as compared to $17.2 million in the year-ago period. The company says earnings reflect the impact of the U.S. trade case against hardwood plywood imported from China and a negative foreign exchange impact.

Builders FirstSource Has Strong Increase 

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $2.1 billion for the second quarter of 2018, a 13.4 per cent increase over net sales for the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin was $496.3, an increase of $35.5 million year-over-year. Gross margin percentage was 23.7 per cent, a decrease of 130 basis points. Net income was $56.6 million compared to $37.9 million and adjusted net income was $62.6 million compared to $37.9 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter grew $15.1 million to $139.1 million, or 6.7 per cent of sales, compared to $124 million, or 6.7 per cent of sales, for the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 12.2 per cent.

August 17, 2018

Revenues Rise At Walmart

Walmart International had total revenue of $128 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 3.8 per cent over revenue of $123.4 billion for the second quarter of 2017. Comparative store sales increased 4.5 per cent year-over-year and Sam’s Club comparative store sales increased five per cent. Net sales for the company were $29.5 billion for the quarter, an increase of four per cent over the year-ago period. Operating income was $5.8 billion compared to $6 billion, a decrease of 3.7 per cent.

U.S. LUMBER To Acquire Alexandria Moulding

U.S. LUMBER GROUP, LLC will acquire Alexandria Moulding. Based in Atlanta, GA, U.S. LUMBER is a two-step distributor of specialty building products in the eastern and midwestern United States. Alexandria Moulding, headquartered in Alexandria, ON, is a manufacturer and two-step distributor of a full range of mouldings and accessories across all of Canada and the northern U.S. The combination will create a company with a broader geographic presence as well as enhanced product and service capabilities. Upon completion of the acquisition, Alexandria Moulding will continue to be led by its existing management team from its current headquarters in Alexandria and will continue to provide the same products and services. The transaction is expected to complete by October.

July U.S. Retail Sales Boost Third Quarter

July retail sales in the U.S. were up 0.4 per cent seasonally adjusted from June and increased 4.9 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, giving the industry a solid kickoff for the third quarter as consumers continued to spend despite concerns about the growing trade war, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The three-month moving average was up five per cent over the same period a year ago. The numbers come two days after NRF revised its annual forecast, saying 2018 retail sales are now expected to grow at least 4.5 per cent over 2017 rather than the 3.8 per cent to 4.4 per cent predicted earlier this year. The July results build on improvement seen in June, which was down 0.1 per cent monthly from May but up 3.9 per cent year-over-year. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.8 per cent year-over-year and unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 3.9 per cent year-over-year, but down 0.5 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

Royal Building Products Launches Design Series

Royal Building Products has launched its Cedar Renditions by Royal Design Series, a 6-inch aluminum profile with a streamlined appearance for residential and light commercial projects. The series is part of the Royal Alumipro Cedar Renditions product line. The product features a thicker siding gauge, seamless overlapping notch, a drop-in interlock system, and is LEED compliant. It is made from 99 per cent recycled content and is 100 per cent recyclable. It is also moisture-proof, nonflammable, and virtually maintenance-free. The series is available in three shades of brown ‒ amberwood, cedar bark, and charwood.

Global Concrete Floor Coatings Market Set For Rapid Growth

The global concrete floor coatings market was valued at $946.43 million in 2017 and is expected to reach $1,500 million in 2024, growing at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent between 2018 and 2024, says a report by Zion Market Research. Concrete floor coatings are generally applied over concrete floors for durable surface and high performance; the smoothness provided by the concrete floor coatings can last for a longer period. The market is driven by various factors such as increasing awareness regarding the benefits of concrete floor coatings and the rapid growth in the industrialization and infrastructure is estimated to drive the concrete floor coatings market over the forecast period. However, high prices of raw materials and energy and an economic downturn in developed regions are expected to impede the growth of the market. Nevertheless, an increase in commercial, residential, and industrial constructions will open major opportunities for the global concrete floor coatings during the projected years. Epoxy coatings are generally used in residential constructions such as staircases and parking. Epoxies have some special characteristics including low cost of the product as compared to their counterparts and superior resistance against impact, chemical, and abrasion thus making it suitable for application in various sectors.

Motts Manages National Sales

Alexandra Motts is national sales manager with SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA. She brings more than 20 years of relevant industry experience, having held top management positions in the HVAC, plumbing, and event management industries.

Masonite Sales Rise Nine Per Cent

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $567 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of nine per cent compared to net sales of $520 million in the second quarter of 2017. Net income was $35 million compared to $27 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $78 million for the quarter, an increase of 15 per cent compared to $68 million in the year-ago period. North American residential net sales were $378 million, a three per cent increase over the second quarter of 2017. Architectural net sales were $82 million, an 11 per cent increase. Total company gross profit increased 15 per cent to $124 million in the second quarter of 2018 compared to $107 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit margin increased 120 basis points to 21.8 per cent.

Show Focuses On Outdoor Furnishings

Top brands, innovative products, and current trends will be featured at the ‘Casual Market Chicago,’ a North American show dedicated to the casual and outdoor furnishings industry. The outdoor furniture market has demonstrated tremendous continued growth, says Beth Hicks, managing director, marketing for Design Center and ‘Casual Market Chicago.’ More than 250 manufacturers are expected at the show, including 29 new exhibitors. For more information, visit Casual Market

August 16, 2018

National Home Sales Continue Increase

National home sales via Canadian MLS Systems rose 1.9 per cent in July, building on increases in each of the two previous months, but still running below levels recorded from mid-2013 to the end of last year. Led by the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA), more than half of all local housing markets reported an increase sales activity from June to July, says the Real Estate Association (CREA). Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 1.3 per cent year-over-year. The result reflects fewer sales in major urban centres in British Columbia and an offsetting improvement in activity in the GTA. CREA says the new stress-test on mortgage applicants continues to weigh on home sales, but its effect may be starting to fade slightly in Toronto and nearby markets. The number of newly listed homes retreated 1.2 per cent in July and stood below monthly levels recorded over most of the past eight years. New listings were down in more than half of all local markets, led by Calgary and Edmonton, AB. Fewer new listings in these markets more than offset an increase in new supply in the GTA. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened further to reach 55.9 per cent in July. This reading nonetheless remains within short reach of the long-term average of 53.4 per cent for this measure of market balance.

Store Transformation Drives Self-checkout Market

There has been unprecedented activity for a second consecutive year in the self-checkout market, with shipments up 14 per cent, says a report by research and consulting firm RBR. The ‘Global EPOS and Self-Checkout 2018’ report shows an increase in U.S. retailer self-checkout adoption amid store revamps. The U.S. accounts for more than half of self-checkout shipments as retailers continue to invest heavily in the technology as an integral part of their store transformations. Big box players have added extra terminals in existing stores and upgraded older hardware. In Canada, pressure on labour has boosted adoption. Minimum wage increases in several provinces including Quebec and Ontario have contributed to the trend. Discount stores are also increasingly deploying self-checkout units in some of the more mature markets, says the report.

GP To Build Lumber Facility

Georgia-Pacific will build a lumber production facility in Albany-Dougherty County, GA. The 320,000-square-foot facility has state-of-the-art technologies and has an anticipated startup of late fall 2019. Once in production, the facility expects to receive approximately 180 log trucks a day and produce approximately 300 million board-feet of lumber a year.

Black Stainless Steel Appliances Gaining Market Share

While the majority of consumers still go for white appliances ‒ which make up almost 49 per cent of the market, the number of black stainless appliances continues to grow, says Traqline, a Stevenson Company. They haven’t reached the status of stainless steel yet, which is the most popular finish after white, but buyers are beginning to branch out. In the past five quarters, the share of black stainless-steel (BSS) appliances has consistently increased and they now make up almost seven per cent of all appliance finishes. Gen X-ers buy slightly more BSS appliances than other cohorts. But these gains do not come from white appliances like other cohorts’ purchases do and appear to be coming at the expense of other, less common appliance colours. Boomers have shifted from buying more traditional white major appliances to expanding their major appliance colour palettes with BSS picking up the share. Millennials have typically embraced more colour in their major appliance choices, with white appliances routinely commanding less than half the unit share.

August 15, 2018

Home Depot Has Strong Sales

The Home Depot had sales of $30.5 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an 8.4 per cent increase over sales of $28.1 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017. Comparable sales for the quarter were positive eight per cent and comparative sales in the U.S. were positive 8.1 per cent. Net earnings were $3.5 billion compared with net earnings of $2.7 billion. Gross profit was $10.4 billion versus $9.5 billion in the year-ago period.

Masonite Building Quebec DC

Masonite will build a distribution centre in Windsor, QC, says Actualites l’etincelle. The 90,000-square-foot building will allow the company to increase productivity and efficiency for receiving and inspection of raw material, sorting, and shipping. In addition, the facility will consolidate its distribution that is currently warehoused through various sites throughout Quebec. The Le Comité de Développement Économique de la Ville de Windsor (CDEW) will build the facility and, in return, Masonite has committed to a long-term lease.

Home Additions Gaining Popularity

U.S. homeowners are increasingly adding rental units and finished basements to their properties, says a survey from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The latest ‘AIA Home Design Trends’ survey results shows major interest among architecture firm clients in home additions that can function as separate living quarters, apparently as a source of rental income. Sixty-three per cent of firms report clients interested in adding rental units and accessory dwellings, which is up from 51 per cent reporting such an interest in 2017’s first quarter. As well, almost 40 per cent of firms report a jump in interest in finished basements or attics, which is up from 32 per cent during the same time last year. Housing affordability continues to be a focus of client inquiries to architecture firms. The survey shows 13.5 per cent of firms have had inquiries from clients for this type of housing. This represents a jump of 36 per cent from the number of firms reporting such inquiries last year. The number of firms reporting interest by clients in townhome and condominium design was almost 19 per cent in the first quarter, up more than 25 per cent from the interest expressed in the first quarter of 2017.

Blignaut Joins RH

Ryno Blignaut is president, chief financial officer, and administrative officer at RH. Most recently, he served as the chief business officer of Wheels Up, a private aviation company.

Acadian Sees Increased Sales

Acadian Timber Corp. had net sales of $16.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over net sales of $14.3 million in the second quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was $2.6 million, consistent with the prior-year period. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 16 per cent compared to 18 per cent a year ago. Net income was $1.9 million for the quarter compared to $4 million. Net sales for the New Brunswick timberlands segment increased to $12.9 million from $11.5 million during the prior-year period. Net sales for the Maine timberlands segment increased to $3.2 million from $2.8 million a year ago.

Strong Rise In Norbord Earnings

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $273 million for the second quarter of 2018 versus adjusted EBITDA of $165 million in the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 65 per cent. North American operations generated adjusted EBITDA of $256 million compared to $157 million in the same quarter last year. Overall adjusted earnings for the quarter were $167 million compared to $96 million in the year-ago period. Sales were $707 million versus $536 million.

August 14, 2018

Vendors Need To Get To Know Their Buyers

Vendors wishing to make inroads with buyers need to understand they have a lot to think about and aim to develop a relationship, says Phil Chang, a former Target buyer and retail consultant. Speaking at Askuity’s ‘Confessions of a Retail Buyer’ webinar, he says vendors should concentrate on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to that particular buyer. They should deliver insights that are focused on the category and show the buyer how, for example, they are going to make money, increase turnover, cut inventory, increase margin, and sell more product. “Think about the buyer’s perspective,” he says, “and make sure to ask the right questions.” Ultimately vendors should make sure their sales pitch is aligned with what their buyer is looking for.

RONA Acquiring RONA Lespérance Stores

RONA, a banner of Lowe’s Canada, will acquire the RONA Lespérance stores in Sainte Therese and Blainville, QC. Following the acquisition, RONA teams, dealer André Lespérance, and employees from both stores will work closely together to ensure a smooth transition and the seamless continuation of operations.

NRF Upgrades Retail Sales Forecast

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has increased its U.S. retail sales forecast for 2018, saying sales are expected to grow more than previously predicted thanks to tax reform and other positive economic inputs. However, it warns that tariffs threaten to dampen consumer confidence. NRF now expects retail sales to increase at a minimum of 4.5 per cent over 2017, rather than the 3.8 to 4.4 per cent range predicted earlier this year. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Retail sales in the first half of 2018 grew 4.8 per cent year-over-year and have been up 4.4 per cent year-over-year in the most recent three-month moving average. NRF also expects gross domestic product for the year to grow at the higher end of the 2.5 to three per cent range it forecast earlier. Trump’s tariffs of 25 per cent on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods took effect in July and are scheduled to take effect this month on another $16 billion, but both lists include a relatively low number of consumer products, says NRF. Another round of tariffs on $200 billion in goods from China that would include a broader array of consumer items is currently under consideration and is expected to be finalized in September. Imports, meanwhile, have been at record levels this summer as retailers bring merchandise into the country before the tariffs can take effect.

Strong Sales Forecasted For Smart Thermostats

U.S. demand for smart and connected thermostats is forecast to increase 23 per cent per year through 2022 to 14.5 million units – largely tracking value demand trends, but at a significantly faster pace due to falling prices – with smart thermostats siphoning market share away from connected types, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Going forward, the most significant driver of unit sales of smart and connected thermostats will be the rapidly declining prices, which will support multiple-unit consumer adoption. Ramped up efforts by utility companies, homebuilders, and HVAC contractors to promote these products based on their cost- and energy-saving benefits will also underlie growth. The market is expected to transition to become more replacement-oriented between 2022 and 2025, which will correspond with declining sales. By then, most households interested in these products will have purchased one.

Summers Joins Liteline

Jake Summers is director, national accounts, with Liteline Corporation. He has more than 20 years of industry experience.

Gains For Boise Cascade

Boise Cascade Company had net income of $41.8 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 89 per cent over net income of $22.2 million for the second quarter of 2017. Sales for the quarter were $1.4 billion, up 24 per cent over sales of $1.1 billion in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA increased 38 per cent to $85.8 million year-over-year. Wood product segment sales rose 21 per cent to $425 million and building materials distribution sales increased 24 per cent to $1.2 billion.

LP Sales Climb 17 Per Cent

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation had net sales of $811 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 17 per cent compared to net sales of $694 million for the second quarter of 2017. Income from continuing operations was $163 million compared to $95 million and non-GAAP adjusted income from continuing operations was $157 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $242 million. Gross profit was $261 million versus $182 million in the year-ago period. Net sales for the siding segment increased to $261 million from $231 million; the OSB segment increased to $387 million from $325 million; and the engineered wood products segment increased to $109 million from $94 million year-over-year.

Sales Down At Newell Brands

Newell Brands had net sales from continuing operations of $2.2 billion for the second quarter of 2018, a decrease compared with net sales of $2.5 billion in the second quarter of 2017. Overall core sales declined 6.2 per cent year-over-year. Operating income was $84.2 million, or 3.8 per cent of sales, compared with $92.3 million, or 3.7 per cent of sales. Operating margin was 3.8 per cent compared to 3.7 per cent in the prior-year period. Gross margin for the quarter was 35.2 per cent compared to 34.7 per cent last year. Total net income was $132 million compared to $223 million. The home and outdoor living segment had net sales of $742 million compared with $795 million in the prior year.

August 13, 2018

Housing Starts Trend Flat

The trend in housing starts was 219,988 units in July, compared to 221,738 units in June, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The decrease reflects a decline in the SAAR of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres from the near-historical high registered in June, says CMHC. However, despite decreasing in July, the trend remains well above historical averages, reflecting elevated levels of multi-unit starts in most major markets that has more than offset declining single starts. Housing starts trended lower in Vancouver BC; Lethbridge, AB; Saskatoon, SK; Oshawa, ON, and the Quebec region. The trend remained virtually unchanged in Toronto and Peterborough, ON, and increased in New Brunswick.

SBD Canada Donates To Habitat Builds

Stanley Black & Decker Canada (SBD) employees have donated time and talents to work on Habitat for Humanity builds, including the Habitat for Humanity Toronto GTA ‘Adopt-a-Day Challenge’ event held in August in Brampton, ON. In July in Edmonton, AB, SBD employees worked on the Carter Place build. The project took one week long and consisted of 800 volunteers – including former U.S. president and first lady, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. The Carter Place build site is in mid stride. Of the 58 homes – nine are complete with families moved in – the next phase of 11 should be complete early this summer and another 11 before the end of 2018. SBD employees will also take part in the Montreal, QC, build and the Calgary, AB, Habitat for Humanity build in August. The DEWALT and STANLEY tools used on the GTA site were donated to Habitat. DEWALT work boots will also be donated in Edmonton.

Maibec Completes Mills Acquisition

Maibec has completed its transaction with Groupe Lebel of Rivière-du-Loup, QC, for the acquisition of the Maibec lumber mills located in St-Pamphile, QC, and Masardis, ME. Maibec employees will maintain their employment with Groupe Lebel. “Maibec will now focus on growing its pre-stained exterior siding's systems based on lap sidings and shingles manufactured with solid wood or wood-based engineered material,” says François Tardif, president of Maibec. Maibec recently announced the launch of its Resistech siding systems manufactured on LP SmartSide from Louisiana-Pacific.

Glass Fiber-reinforced Gypsum Market To Grow

The global glass fiber-reinforced gypsum market is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of more than seven per cent from 2018 to 2022, says a report from Technavio. The increasing demand for residential and non-residential buildings has increased the popularity of modular and panelized construction over the last few years. In this type of construction, building parts are manufactured at distant locations and are assembled together to form an office or a residential building. An upsurge in construction activities is a key driver for growth, particularly in the residential sector in North America.

Dunphy Becomes Marketing Director

Tim Dunphy is marketing director of underground technologies for RIDGID. He has more than 20 years of experience in consumer-packaged goods and durables marketing.

Beacon Roofing Has Increase

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had total sales of $1.93 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of 59.4 per cent over sales of $1.21 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Residential roofing product sales increased 23.4 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales increased 42.1 per cent, and complementary product sales increased 204.6 per cent over the prior year. Net income for the quarter was $43.4 million, compared to $44.7 million in 2017. Adjusted net income was $93.4 million compared to $59.3 million in 2017.

Continental Has Strong Income

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net income of $21.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 76.6 per cent compared to net income of $12.4 million in the second quarter of 2017. Net sales were up 15.5 per cent to $139.3 million for the quarter, compared to $120.6 million in the prior year quarter, primarily due to an 11.6 per cent increase in wallboard volumes. Operating income was $30.6 million, compared to $21.6 million in the prior-year quarter.

Building Products Drives Griffon Growth

Griffon Corporation had revenue of $516.6 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of 44 per cent from the prior-year quarter. Home and building products revenue increased 59 per cent to $440.1 million. Income from continuing operations was $7.4 million compared to $4.5 million in the prior year quarter. Segment adjusted EBITDA was $58.8 million, an increase of 47 per cent from the prior year quarter, primarily driven by HBP revenue growth. Segment adjusted EBITDA was $50 million, an increase of 51 per cent compared to the prior year quarter.

August 10, 2018

Canadian Tire Has Increased Sales

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had an increase in consolidated retail sales of $147 million, or 3.6 per cent, in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were up 1.6 per cent year-over-year. Consolidated revenue, excluding petroleum, increased $27.2 million, or 0.9 per cent, in the quarter. Retail segment revenue increased $93.7 million or three per cent year-over-year. Excluding petroleum, retail segment revenue increased 0.5 per cent. Canadian Tire Retail saw retail sales increase 2.3 per cent and comparable sales were up 2.0 per cent.

Government Secures Lower Card Cost Agreements

The government of Canada has secured separate and voluntary commitments from three payment card networks that will lead to lower costs for small- and medium-sized businesses. As part of these commitments, Visa and Mastercard will reduce domestic consumer interchange fees to an annual average effective rate of 1.4 per cent for a period of five years; narrow the range of interchange rates (lowest versus highest fee) charged to businesses; and require annual verification by an independent third party. American Express says it will support the government’s objectives of greater fairness and transparency in the credit card market. American Express operates a unique business model with fees other than interchange fees. The reduction in interchange fees is expected to save small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada $250 million per year, based on credit card sales of roughly $250 billion per year. For a medium-sized business with credit sales of $5 million per year, a 10 basis point reduction in interchange fees could allow for savings of up to $25,000 over five years. For smaller businesses with credit sales of $1 million per year, a 15 basis point reduction in interchange fees could allow for savings of up to $7,500 over five years. Due to the narrowing in the range of interchange fees, it is expected that small businesses will receive a greater reduction in interchange fees than large businesses, under the new agreements.

Armstrong To Acquire Steel Ceilings

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI) will acquire the business and assets of Steel Ceilings, Inc. (SCI), a manufacturer of standard and custom aluminum and stainless metal ceilings, including architectural, radiant heating and cooling, and security solutions. The acquisition will advance AWI’s strategy to aggressively penetrate the architectural specialties segment and provide additional capabilities to sell into more spaces and sell more into every space.

Vancouver Property Sales Plummet

Residential property sales in the greater Vancouver, BC, region totaled 2,070 in July, a 30.1 per cent decrease from sales recorded in July of 2017, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). The sales represent a 14.6 per cent decrease over sales in June of this year and July’s sales were 29.3 per cent below the 10-year July average. There were 4,770 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Metro Vancouver in July. This represents a 9.2 per cent decrease compared to the 5,256 homes listed in July 2017 and a 9.6 per cent decrease compared to June 2018 when 5,279 homes were listed. The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS system in Metro Vancouver is 12,137, a 32 per cent increase compared to July 2017 (9,194) and a 1.6 per cent increase compared to June 2018 (11,947). For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for July 2018 is 17.1 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 9.9 per cent for detached homes, 20.2 per cent for townhomes, and 27.3 per cent for condominiums.

Berezowski Receives Retail Secure Lifetime Award

Don Berezowski, director of environmental health and safety at Walmart Canada, is the recipient of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) ‘Retail Secure 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.’ He has worked in the loss prevention/health and safety industry for more than 30 years. The award will be presented at ‘RCC Retail Secure 2018’ on September 20. The event takes place in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit Retail Secure

Rayonier Income Goes Up

Rayonier Inc. had second quarter net income of $36.3 million on revenues of $245.9 million compared to net income of $26.2 million on revenues of $201 million in the prior-year quarter. Second quarter operating income was $51.6 million versus $46.9 million in the prior-year period. Second quarter adjusted EBITDA was $111.3 million versus $86.8. The southern timber segment had sales of $48 million for the quarter, an increase of 35 per cent over the second quarter of 2017. The Pacific northwest timber segment had sales of $32.2 million, an 58 per cent increase year-over-year.

Income Turns Around For Resolute

Resolute Forest Products Inc. had net income of $72 million in the second quarter of 2018, an increase over a net loss of $74 million in the second quarter of 2017. Sales were $976 million in the quarter, an increase of $188 million from the year-ago period. Excluding special items, net income was $66 million compared to a net loss of $3 million last year. Operating income was $121 million compared to $48 million in the first quarter of 2018, with higher prices as one of the drivers behind the increase. The wood products segment operating income improved by $26 million to $79 million from the first quarter to the second quarter. This increase is almost entirely attributable to the rise in average transaction price, says the company.

August 9, 2018

Building Permits Decrease In June

In June, Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits, down 2.3 per cent from the previous month, says Statistics Canada. The decline was the result of lower construction intentions for residential buildings, following a strong May. In the residential sector, municipalities issued $5.2 billion worth of building permits in June, down 5.7 per cent from May. New Brunswick was the only province to post an increase. The value of multi-family dwelling permits dropped eight per cent to $2.8 billion in June. This followed a record high of $3.1 billion the previous month. The value of permits in the single-family dwelling component was down 2.9 per cent to $2.4 billion in June. Municipalities approved the construction of 19,111 new dwellings in June, down 10.5 per cent from May. The decline was mainly attributable to a 14.3 per cent drop in multi-family dwellings to 13,667 new units. The number of new single-family dwellings increased 0.8 per cent to 5,444 new units. The value of building permits in the non-residential sector rose 4.6 per cent in June to $2.9 billion. Increases in Alberta and Ontario more than offset the declines in six provinces.

Slight Increase In Montreal Home Sales

There was a total of 3,201 residential sales completed in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in July, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This represents a one per cent increase compared to July of last year and an eight-year high for this month of the year. As well, this is the 41st consecutive month in which residential sales have increased in the Montreal area. Geographically, three of the Montreal CMA's six main areas registered an increase in sales in July. The South Shore, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and the North Shore had increases, while the Island of Montréal, Laval, and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu had decreases. For the 10th consecutive month, the property category that registered the largest increase in sales was that of condominiums. The number of condo sales rose by six per cent in July, while sales of plexes increased by two per cent and sales of single-family homes decreased by two per cent.

Dodge Momentum Index Increases in July

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 1.4 per cent higher in July to 169.8 from the revised June reading of 167.3. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for U.S. non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. In July, the commercial component of the index grew by 3.3 per cent, while the institutional component fell 1.5 per cent. The index has risen steadily since its slippage during the third quarter of 2017. Stronger economic growth and the support from still-healthy real estate market fundamentals (occupancies and rents) have contributed to these gains for construction projects at the planning stage, which have yet to be restrained by the uncertainty arising from higher material costs and higher interest rates.

Salary, Benefits Key For Job Seekers

The two most important pieces of information that job seekers and workers hone in on when researching job ads are salaries and benefits, says a survey of U.S. job seekers by Glassdoor. Other key information includes location, commute time, and employee reviews. The survey concludes that offering attractive benefits and perks is a key factor for enticing prospective employees. Job seekers says a good work-life balance, a great company culture, and familiarity with the brand are other factors that would make them more likely to apply for a job. Glassdoor says quality candidates are typically well-researched and go beyond job ads and look for a richer set of background data that includes benefits and employee reviews, among other specific traits about an employer. This means that employers should make information available to job candidates proactively, or they risk missing out on quality candidates applying.

Construction To Drive U.S. Plumbing Fixture Demand

U.S. demand for plumbing fixtures is forecast to increase 3.3 per cent per year through 2021 to $5.9 billion, says a report by ResearchAndMarkets. Rising building construction activity will drive demand gains. In the residential market, design trends calling for homes to have larger kitchens and additional bathrooms will further boost gains. Spending on plumbing fitting-intensive buildings such as schools and healthcare facilities will drive growth in the commercial market. The residential improvement and repair market accounts for nearly half of total plumbing fittings demand in the U.S. Going forward, many homeowners are expected to undertake bathroom and kitchen renovation projects to make their properties more luxurious while increasing property value. This will drive demand for a variety of fittings used including kitchen sinks, lavatories, bathtubs, and showers. Further demand gains will occur in the new residential market due to the construction of new homes built with larger kitchens and additional bathrooms in accordance with consumer tastes.

Frieson Joins Lowe’s

Donald E. Frieson is executive vice-president, supply chain, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience in operations and supply chain. Most recently, he served as chief operating officer of Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart.

Robust Sales For Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser Company had net earnings of $317 million on net sales of $2.1 billion for the second quarter of 2018. This compares to earnings of $24 million on net sales of $1.8 billion for the second quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $637 million compared with $506 million for the year-ago period. Average sales realizations for lumber and oriented strand board improved significantly compared with the first quarter and engineered wood products realizations increased modestly. Sales volumes rose seasonally for all product lines.

Foreign Currency Benefits Simpson Manufacturing

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had consolidated net sales of $308 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 17.1 per cent compared to net sales of $263 million in the second quarter of 2017. North America net sales of $259.8 million increased 20.4 per cent from $215.7 million in the year-ago period. Canada's net sales were positively affected by foreign currency translation. Consolidated gross profit of $141.5 million increased 14.5 per cent from $123.5 million. Gross profit margin decreased to 45.9 per cent from 47 per cent mostly due to increased material costs. North America gross profit margin decreased to 47.6 per cent from 49.4 per cent. Consolidated net income was $44.1 million compared to net income of $28.2 million.

August 8, 2018

Toronto Home Sales Growth Strong

Residential sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area for July amounted to 6,961 – up 18.6 per cent compared to July 2017, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). New listings in July were down by 1.8 per cent year-over-year. Preliminary seasonal adjustment pointed to strong month-over-month increases of 6.6 per cent and 1.8 per cent for sales. TREB says seasonally adjusted sales were at the highest level for 2018. “We have certainly experienced an increase in demand for ownership housing so far this summer,” says Jason Mercer, director of market analysis. “It appears that some people who initially moved to the sidelines due to the psychological impact of the Fair Housing Plan and changes to mortgage lending guidelines have re-entered the market.”

Canadian Tire Partners With Petco

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has partnered with Petco, a global pet specialty retailer. Canadian Tire now offers a variety of pet products, including Petco's assortment of food, treats, and accessories online and in stores. This partnership marks the retailer’s entry into the pet category. Petco sells products and services online and in 1,500 stores across the U.S. and Mexico.

Giant Tiger Opens Winnipeg Store

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Winnipeg, MB. The 18,304-square-foot store, located on Ellice Avenue, will offer home and family fashions, groceries, and everyday necessities.

LG Opens Artificial Intelligence Lab In Canada

LG Electronics Inc. (LG) has established an artificial intelligence (AI) research lab in Canada in partnership with the University of Toronto. The lab will be an extension of LG’s newly expanded LG Silicon Valley AI Lab in Santa Clara, CA. Supporting LG's vision of AI as a key future growth engine, the North American labs further enhance LG's global research capabilities, which include AI labs in South Korea, India, and Russia. Under its five-year, multi-million-dollar research partnership with the University of Toronto, LG will build on its Open Platform-Open Partnership-Open Connectivity strategy to expand the AI ecosystem. The lab will capitalize on the expertise of researchers at the University of Toronto who will now have the opportunity to work collaboratively with LG's growing U.S. and Canadian AI research and development teams. Complementing this work, LG intends to collaborate with and invest in North American start-ups.

Honeywell Spins Off Homes Business

Honeywell’s homes and ADI Global Distribution business will be spun off into an independent, publicly-traded company called Resideo. Under a long-term licensing agreement, the new company will market products bearing the Honeywell brand. When Resideo launches as a publicly traded, standalone company later this year, it will be a $4.5 billion enterprise. It will include a products division of professionally installed, do-it-yourself and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) technology solutions designed to make homeowners feel safe, secure, and comfortable, together with the low-voltage product distribution business, ADI Global Distribution.

Derek Miller Leads IHA

Derek Miller will be president of the International Housewares Association (IHA), effective October 1. Currently, he is vice-president, global marketing. He joined IHA in December 1999 as director, international business development, and was named vice-president, international services, in 2001. He succeeds Phil Brandl, who will retire at the end of the year.

Masco Has Sales Growth

Masco Corporation had net sales of $2.3 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent compared to net sales of $2.1 billion in the second quarter of 2017. North American sales increased 12 per cent year-over-year. Operating profit decreased four per cent to $358 million and net income was $224 million for the quarter compared to $176 million in the same period a year ago. Plumbing products net sales increased nine per cent while decorative architectural products net sales increased 22 per cent due to the acquisition of Kichler and growth in paints and other coatings products and builders’ hardware. Cabinetry products net sales increased seven per cent due to strong growth in the repair and remodel business and windows and other specialty products net sales decreased seven per cent.

Sales Rise At Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $283.5 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 7.6 per cent compared to net sales of $263.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Net sales in comparable stores increased $12.3 million, or 4.7 per cent, driven by a 4.6 per cent increase in the average sale and by a 0.1 per cent increase in the number of customers invoiced. Gross profit increased four per cent in the quarter to $101.3 million from $97.5 million in the comparable period in 2017. Gross margin decreased to 35.7 per cent from 37 per cent. The company had an operating loss of $900,000, compared to operating income of $5.1 million. Net loss was $1.5 million compared to net income of $4.5 million.

Trex Sales Soar

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $207 million for the second quarter of 2018, a 31 per cent increase over net sales in the second quarter of 2017. Residential products net sales were up 20 per cent to $189 million and commercial products contributed an additional $17 million. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 44.1 per cent. Gross margin for residential products expanded 30 basis points to 45.9 per cent while gross margin for commercial products showed significant sequential improvement to 24.6 per cent. Net income for the quarter was $43 million, up 49 per cent from the net income of $29 million in the year-ago period.

August 7, 2018

U.S. Millennials Lead Remodeling Initiatives

Eighty per cent of U.S. homeowners plan to stay in their existing homes rather than move and, as a result, are planning to spend more on home improvement projects this year, says HomeAdvisor’s ‘True Cost Report.’ It shows that half of respondents are considering a remodel. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to remodel any part of their homes and they’re twice as likely as Baby Boomers to complete bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects. Millennials have also completed the most home projects in the past 12 months ‒ 72 per cent more, 42 per cent more, and 18 per cent more projects than the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, respectively. Five in six Millennials plan to spend as much or more on home improvements in the coming 12 months as they did last year, with more than half of Millennials expecting to spend more. Overall, homeowners spent an average of $6,649 on home improvements per household in the last 12 months. The majority of homeowners say they’re planning to spend as much or more on home improvements in the coming year with a heavy focus on cosmetic enhancements such as painting, landscaping, and remodeling.

Strong Quarter For Asphalt Shingle Shipments

Shipments of asphalt shingles in Canada increased 22.2 per cent in the second quarter to 4.5 million from 3.6 million in the second quarter of 2017, says the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA). The inaugural report, called the ‘ARMA Quarterly Product Shipment Report,’ shows year-to-date shipments increased 4.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. The data is collected from participating manufacturers by an independent third party, Association Research Inc., and aggregated to create the report.

RPM Acquires Mean Green Brand

RPM International Inc.’s subsidiary, the Rust-Oleum group, has acquired the Mean Green branded line of specialty cleaning products and the exclusive North American licensing for Roto-Rooter branded drain care products from CR Brands. Mean Green is a cleaner with a broad array of products for mould, mildew, bacteria, grease, and other uses. Roto-Rooter is a plumbing services brand with a line of drain care products that include hair clog remover, gel clog remover, build up remover, and septic tank treatment.

Stephenson Joins Fluidmaster

John Stephenson is sales director for Canada for Fluidmaster and will oversee its Mississauga, ON, distribution centre. He is responsible for all aspects of the Canadian business in both the retail and wholesale distribution channels. Prior to joining the company, he was director for Char-Broil in Canada.

CanWel Has Strong Revenues

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had revenues of $382.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 19.4 per cent compared to revenues of $320 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin dollars increased by 45.8 per cent to $57.9 million, compared to $39.7 million during the corresponding period in 2017. Gross margin percentage increased to 15.1 per cent of revenues versus 12.4 per cent. EBITDA was $27.5 million for the quarter, up by 45.5 per cent from $18.9 million in the year-ago period. The company says sales increased largely due to the inclusion of the results from the Honsador acquisition, an upward trend in construction material pricing, and a continuing focus on product mix strategies and target customer base.

Architectural Specialty Segment Drives Armstrong Sales

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $248.6 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 10.2 per cent over net sales of $225.6 million in the second quarter of 2017. Operating income was $66 million for the quarter, down 4.6 per cent over operating income of $69.2 million in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations were up 8.9 per cent year-over-year. The company says consolidated net sales were driven by higher volumes in the mineral fibre and architectural specialties segments. Adjusted EBITDA was $95 million, up 12.2 per cent from $85 million last year. Net income was up 15.8 per cent year-over-year.

August 3, 2018

CT REIT Invests In More Canadian Tire Stores

CT Real Estate Investment Trust (CT REIT) has made four new investments that will represent approximately 120,000 square feet of gross leasable area. Investments include the development of a Canadian Tire store in Mount Forest, ON, for 2019; an expansion of a Canadian Tire store in Val-d'Or, QC, for the fourth quarter of 2019; the expansion of a Canadian Tire store in Kincardine, ON, for 2020; and the expansion of a Canadian Tire store in Midland, ON, for 2020. In the second quarter, it invested in the development of a Canadian Tire store and Canadian Tire Gas+ gas bar in Amos, QC, and the expansion of an existing Canadian Tire store in Listowel, ON.

Fluidmaster Opens Ontario DC

Fluidmaster, Inc. has opened a Canadian distribution centre (DC) in Mississauga, ON. The facility is part of the company’s commitment to expanding its Canadian business with a centralized location for all operations and complete inventory of its products. In the past three years, Fluidmaster has expanded its international footprint by establishing operations in the Netherlands, Turkey, India, and Australia.

ClarkDietrich Acquires Stake In Structa Wire

ClarkDietrich, a manufacturer of cold-formed steel framing construction products in North America, has acquired 50 per cent ownership interest in Structa Wire Corp, a manufacturer of welded wire products for the lath and plaster industry. Based in Vancouver, BC, Structa Wire was founded by Abe and Jeff Sacks more than 20 years ago. Today, the company designs and manufactures a comprehensive line of products developed to improve the performance of stucco for steel and wood-framed construction, including brands such as StructaLath, MegaLath, and Structa Corner. As part of the acquisition, the company will continue to be managed by Structa Wire employees.

Construction Industry Adopting New Technologies

The North American construction industry is at a pivot point and about to move into a new era of accelerating transformation, says a report by Software Connect. The survey reveals that small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the industry are adopting new technologies, rapidly expanding technology budgets, and showing significant interest in cloud-hosted software. Drones are becoming commonplace with 26 per cent of SMB construction professionals using or planning to use drones by 2020. Technical budgets are also expanding across the industry with 81 per cent of businesses planning to spend more on technology over the next year compared to last. Software ease-of-use is cited as the most important factor when purchasing new software, even over software functionality and cost. Construction software buyers are now more willing to review cloud-hosted software as well. “The construction industry has long been a late starter in terms of technological innovation and the adoption of new technologies,” says David Budiac, a managing partner at Software Connect. “Our report suggests that those in the SMB sector are now pivoting toward new technology, suggesting that major changes are now on the horizon.”

Contactless Payments Will Continue Momentum

Global in-store contactless payments will reach $2 trillion by 2020, representing 15 per cent of total point-of-sale (POS) transactions, says a report from Juniper Research. Contactless payments will exceed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2018, a year earlier than previously anticipated by the firm. However, contactless transactions will continue to be dominated by card payments, driven by strong adoption in Europe as well as the Far East and China. In fact, contactless card payments are the strongest across Far East and China and rest of Asia Pacific, which together account for nearly 55 per cent of global contactless card transaction values. Mobile contactless payments market will be driven by Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and other pay wallets. Combined, these pay wallet users will reach 450 million by 2020, with Apple accounting for one in two users globally.

August 2, 2018

Retail Sales Continue Weakening Trend

It’s unlikely the recent uptick in retail sales in May is a turnaround, says retail consultant Ed Strapagiel. He says it's not at all unusual to hit a particularly hot or cold retail sales month at any time, and that the numbers for one month do not make a trend. As well, and more importantly, the recent uptick was nowhere near enough to compensate for weak sales growth in the immediately preceding months. After five months, 2018 year-to-date total Canadian retail sales are up a conservative 3.6 per cent, significantly less than the 6.2 per cent growth recorded after the first five months last year. Much of the accelerating growth rate of Canadian retail sales in 2016 and 2017 was due to the automotive and related sector. Since late last year, however, the three-month growth trend in this sector has significantly weakened. eCommerce sales were up 12.6 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending May, but this is much less than the 33.4 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digits and are still much higher than for location based retail, but growth may be slowing down.

Super-consumers Spend More

Many shoppers make additional purchases they didn’t plan on when they come to pick up their orders in the store, says a study by OrderDynamics. The study identifies four types of buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) customers – the super-consumer (used BOPIS at least two times in the past 12 months), occasional consumer (used BOPIS at least once in the past 12 months), non-user (shopped online, but doesn’t pick up in store), and lapsed consumers (used BOPIS previously, but not in the past year). While 37 per cent of overall shoppers made additional purchases while picking up orders in the store, this number rises to 51 per cent of super-consumers. Super-consumers spend, on average, $40 more on additional unplanned purchases when in store for click and collect pickup. Super-consumers shop on every channel and claim to have shopped, on average, 45 times a year. Of that shopping activity, 23 per cent are click-and-collect orders.

Taiga Completes Exterior Wood Acquisition

Taiga Building Products Ltd. has completed its acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Exterior Wood, Inc., a private operator of a wood treatment facility and distribution centre in Washington State. The purchase price was funded primarily using Taiga's existing senior credit facility.

Sense Partners With Philips Hue

Machine-learning technology company Sense has integrated its home energy and awareness monitor with Philips Hue, a smart lighting system for the home. From the Sense app, users can track and control their Hue lights, see energy usage trends, and observe daily patterns. The monitor is installed in the electrical panel and measures power one million times per second. It uses machine learning to automatically sense the electrical signals of devices in the home. The app tells the user what’s on and when, how much energy appliances are using, and what they cost to use. With the Philips Hue integration, Sense tracks the entire line of smart lighting products. From the Sense app, homeowners can check when their lights have turned on while away on vacation or when children arrive home from school. Users can see historical trends and analyze their energy usage, set goals, and create alerts. They can also create IFTTT applets to do more with their Hue smart lighting and Sense. For instance, if an oven is on for more than two hours, then the Hue lights turn red or if the clothes dryer is finished, then the Hue lights turn green.

U.S. Siding Distributors To Gain Market Share

Rising U.S. building construction activity and increased channel share will spur siding distributors’ sales, forecast to rise 5.4 per cent annually through 2021, finds a report by ResearchAndMarkets. The shift towards use of distributors is one of the key drivers behind advances. In the residential market, siding sales via distributors will be boosted by rising housing completions. In the non-residential segment, gains will arise from the increased construction of commercial structures. Though distributors’ sales accounted for less than a third of end user sales of siding in 2016, they are expected to increase their share of the market going forward. The rising channel share will be supported by the construction industry’s increasing reliance on small- and medium-sized contractors – which are more likely to purchase siding from distributors than directly from manufacturers – to perform siding installation and repair jobs. Distributors’ efforts to improve their competitive market position by offering services such as jobsite delivery, technical advice, and credit assistance will also boost sales.

Lawson Products Has Strong Sales

MRO distributor Lawson Products, Inc. had total sales of $90.4 million for the second quarter of 2018, up 20.5 per cent over net sales of $75 million in the second quarter of 2017. Average daily sales increased to $1.41 million during the quarter of 2018 compared to $1.17 million in the year-ago period. Operating income was $5.6 million compared to $7.9 million. Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA was $7.7 million compared to $4.5 million a year ago, up 71 per cent. The Lawson segment adjusted EBITDA was $6.8 million, up 50 per cent over the year ago quarter. Second quarter gross profit increased $4 million to $49.1 million compared to $45.1 million in 2017. Reported gross profit as a percentage of sales was 54.4 per cent for the second quarter.

Sales Up For PFB Corporation

PFB Corporation had consolidated net income of $1.5 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over consolidated net income of $412,000 in the second quarter of 2017. Consolidated sales were $32.6 million in the quarter compared to sales of $29.4 million, an increase of 11.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $3.3 million compared to adjusted EBITDA of $1.8 million in the year-ago period.

August 1, 2018

Condos Outpace Toronto Single-family Homes

In June, new condominium apartment sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, area continued to outpace new single-family home sales, despite another rise in the benchmark price of condo apartments and a slight softening in the prices of single-family homes, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 2,079 of the 2,500 total new home sales in June. That was 61 per cent below record-setting June 2017 ‒ a month that saw 5,290 condos sold, the highest number ever ‒ but only 17 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales of new single-family homes, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses, with 421 units sold, were down 19 per cent from last June and down 71 per cent from the 10-year average.

Home Hardware Implements Automatic Material Handling System

Home Hardware Stores Limited has decided to implement an automated material handling system as part of its ongoing efforts to optimize its supply chain and reinforce its strength in distribution to position the company for future growth. The project, in partnership with Dematic and Manhattan Associates, is set to launch in the third quarter of this year with a targeted completion date of July 2020.

Uniboard Invests More In Val-d'Or Facility

Following the successful completion of a $53 million investment in its Val-d'Or, QC, facility in 2017, Uniboard will now invest an additional $38.5 million investment into the plant. This is the second phase of a major upgrade project to build a world-class particleboard and thermally fused laminate (TFL) facility, the company says. This new round of modernization will focus on screening, sifting, milling, and intermediary storage equipment which will lay the foundation for the following phases of upgrading the Val-d'Or press and finishing lines. With the installation of new state-of-the art, innovative equipment, Uniboard is pursuing its vision of operational and product excellence for the facility. The project's new dry preparation capabilities will substantially improve fiber processing efficiency and also involves a new building with modern protection safety systems for employees.

Miele Canada Opens Toronto Flagship Store

Miele Canada has opened its fifth Miele Experience Centre, this time at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, ON. The flagship store is the brand's first retail store in a premium shopping mall and is presenting itself with a new concept and design. The focus is on experiencing the brand with all the senses. The concept relies on a combination of digital elements, product experience, and expert advice, says the company. Visitors can try out appliances and discover the user benefits they offer. From laundry and floorcare appliances to kitchen products and Smart Home, all Miele product categories are represented. This is a full retail store where customers can purchase all products.

More U.S. Consumers Purchasing Home Products Online

More U.S. consumers are purchasing home-products online, says the NPD Group. While in-store sales still dominate with approximately two-thirds of dollar sales across the primary home-products industries, the percentage of the online buyers who are purchasing small home appliances, housewares, home textiles, and major home appliances is on the rise. Between 17 and 20 per cent of the U.S. online buying population purchased home textiles, housewares, and small appliances online in 2017 and approximately two per cent bought higher priced major home appliances through eCommerce. Although people are buying more for their homes online, products for the home are not ones purchased as frequently through eCommerce as compared to other industries. Online buyers only purchased small appliances, housewares, and home textiles products online an average of two times in 2017, and major appliances once – leaving room for growth for both manufacturers and retailers to get shoppers to purchase more frequently.

Slobodian Leads CKCA

Mike Slobodian is president of the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association. He has more than 24 years of industry experience, all of which have been spent with Manitoba-based Decor Cabinets in various capacities.

Amazon Sales Up 39 Per Cent

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $52.9 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 39 per cent compared to net sales of $38 billion in the second quarter of 2017. Operating income increased to $3 billion in the quarter, compared with operating income of $628 million in the year-ago period. Net income increased to $2.5 billion compared with net income of $197 million last year.

Canfor Has Increases

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. had sales of $396 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over sales of $360 million for the second quarter of 2017. Operating income was $85.4 million for the quarter, a small increase over operating income of $85.1 million in the year-ago period. Net income was $63 million compared to $64.3 million. The company says pulp shipments were up six per cent from the previous quarter, reflecting strong market demand

July 31, 2018

Permanent Employment Thing Of The Past

Canada's labour market is shifting from permanent employment to on-demand temporary or contractual employment, says a report from BMO Wealth Management. The report calls this the “new normal” in today’s “gig economy.” ‘The Gig Economy: Achieving Financial Wellness with Confidence’ shows 40 per cent of respondents have worked or currently work as self-employed professionals pursuing contract or freelance project-based careers. As well, 60 per cent of small business owners became self-employed by choice. Popular reasons for taking contract work include to have autonomy and control, make extra money on the side, balance career and family needs, or because it is the only way to make an income. Challenges include having no benefits, not getting paid when sick, and not earning enough.

Digital Presence Imperative For SMBs

For small- and medium-size business (SMB) owners, the perceived cost, time, and tech-proficiency required for building a digital presence can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. But it doesn’t have to be, says a report by Visa and a consortium of industry organizations. Visa says an immediate opportunity for SMBs to go digital is by digitizing checkout and other business processes. The survey suggests the average cost of processing digital payments, inclusive of direct expenses and labour costs, is 57 per cent less than that of non-digital payments. Further, 65 per cent of SMBs agree customers spend more when they use cards versus cash. Among customers, 78 per cent say they rank a digital payment method, such as paying with a card or mobile device, as their number one preferred payment option. The fact that consumer purchasing behaviour is driven in part by websites and online experiences has big implication for SMBs, says Visa. With only 46 per cent of SMBs having an online presence and only 15 per cent conducting sales through digital channels, as online purchases continue to increase, it could exacerbate a widening gap. Visa recommends SMBs offer other incentives to attract these customers such as digital payment methods, loyalty programs, and digital loyalty programs.

Giant Tiger Opens NB Store

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Riverview, NB. The 22,000-square-foot store will be stocked with on-trend home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

Businesses Face Barriers To Digitization

Embracing digital transformation, while necessary to keep up with technology, is not always easy and requires significant changes to culture and systems, says a report by Gartner. It has identified six barriers to becoming a digital business and how to deal with them in ‘Six Barriers To Becoming A Digital Business,’ available on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Cruji Heads Sheridan

Colin Cruji is chief executive and president of Sheridan Nurseries. He has served as senior vice-president of Canada Bread Company, a division of Grupo Bimboe.

Sales Rise For Spectrum

Spectrum Brand Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $945.5 million in the third quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of 9.6 per cent compared to net sales of $862.9 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net income from continuing operations was $337.4 million for the quarter, compared to a loss of $16.6 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $206.4 million, an increase of 3.6 per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $199.3 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit and gross profit margin were $354.6 million and 37.5 per cent, respectively, compared to $320.3 million and 37.1 per cent, respectively, last year. The hardware and home improvement segment had net sales of $372.4 million for the quarter, a 14.7 per cent increase over net sales of $324.7 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA for the segment rose 18.8 per cent to $73.9 million. Home and garden net sales rose 5.6 per cent to $203.2 million, with adjusted EBITDA showing a loss of 4.2 per cent year-over-year.

USG Has Positive Sales

USG Corporation had net sales of $880 million for the second quarter of 2018, up from $811 million in the second quarter of 2017. Operating profit decreased to $75 million from $95 million year-over-year, while adjusted operating profit decreased to $96 million from $109 million. Net income was $58 million compared to net income of $36 million in the year-ago period. On an adjusted basis, net income was $70 million versus $64 million. U.S. wallboard and surfaces segment net sales increased six per cent year-over-year. U.S. performance materials segment net sales increased by five per cent. U.S. ceilings net sales increased 18 per cent and USG Boral net sales increased three per cent, compared to the second quarter of 2017.

July 30, 2018

Housing Market Remains Highly Vulnerable

For the eighth consecutive quarter Canada's overall housing market remains highly vulnerable, primarily due to evidence of overvaluation and price acceleration in Toronto and Hamilton, ON, and Vancouver and Victoria, BC, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). In Vancouver, CMHA detected moderate evidence of overheating, although price growth has been slowing considerably over the last two quarters and has turned negative in some areas. Calgary, AB, showed evidence of continued overbuilding, but the peak inventory count for apartment units, the largest share of inventory, occurred in December 2017, and has since declined. Despite price growth slowing down across the Greater Toronto Area, lower house prices would have to persist longer in order for us to discount any evidence of price acceleration. Therefore, the rating from the previous quarter is maintained due to the persistence rule. While overvaluation decreased on average in Hamilton, moderate evidence of it remained as house prices were still considerably higher than levels supported by some housing demand fundamentals. Population growth remains a key fundamental driver of housing demand in Hamilton. Montreal, QC, and Halifax, NS, remained below sales-to-new listings thresholds.

Small Business Confidence Takes Major Dive

Small business confidence took a nose dive in July, following an upturn in May and June, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s ‘Business Barometer’ index, which dropped 5½ points to 56.8. Agriculture and retail experienced significant confidence drops to 40.3 and 54.2 respectively, likely due to trade concerns. The wholesale trade, transportation, and information sectors also saw noticeable declines. However, manufacturing and many parts of the service sector remained optimistic. An index level between 65 and 70 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential and a majority of owners expect their business’s performance to be stronger in the next year. This month, 44 per cent of owners reported that their business is in good shape, compared to 13 per cent who say they are in bad shape. Full time employment plans are also muted, with 17 per cent of owners expecting to add staff compared to 12 per cent who plan to cut back in the next three or four months.

Walmart To Open Surrey Facility

Walmart Canada plans to invest more than $175 million to build a new 300,000-square-foot, high-tech, state-of-the-art fresh, frozen grocery facility in Surrey, BC. Construction will begin in 2021 with building designers focusing on sustainability, including plans for it to be a zero-waste facility when it opens in 2022. Sustainability features will include energy efficient LED lighting and intelligent controls, which will reduce lighting energy consumption by 70 per cent; alternative battery cell (lithium) to reduce overall power consumption; efficient refrigeration systems using environmentally preferrable, CFC free carbon dioxide (CO2); an HVAC system designed to reclaim heat rejected from the refrigeration system to heat offices and radiant under floor heating; and the use of electric Walmart fleet vehicles travelling to and from the facility.

St. Clair Paint Founder Dies

Louis Litwin, creator of the St. Clair Paint and Wallpaper chain, has died at the age of 89. Litwin took his father’s small paint store and developed it into an international chain that included home décor items as well as paint and wallpaper. The company went public in 1986 and was sold to ICI in Britain in the late 1990s. He is survived by his wife, Pearl, three children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Valspar Acquisition Drives Sherwin-Williams Sales

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $4.77 billion in the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 27.8 per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2017. The increase was primarily due to the addition of Valspar sales, higher paint sales volume in the Americas Group, and selling price increases. Incremental Valspar sales from April and May increased net sales by 21 per cent in the quarter. Net sales in the Americas Group increased 7.7 per cent to $2.63 billion in the quarter over last year. Net sales from stores in the U.S. and Canada open for more than 12 calendar months increased 6.8 per cent. Net sales of the consumer brands group increased 45 per cent to $777.7 million while performance coatings group net sales increased 79.9 per cent to $1.37 billion in the quarter due primarily to the inclusion of Valspar sales and selling price increases.

Decreased Earnings For Mohawk Industries

Mohawk Industries, Inc. had net earnings of $197 million for the second quarter of 2018, a decrease over net earnings of $261 million in the second quarter of 2017. Adjusted net earnings were $263 million, a six per cent decrease over the second quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were $2.6 billion, up five per cent in the quarter and three per cent on a constant currency basis. This compares to net sales of $2.5 billion in the year-ago period. Sales for the North American flooring segment increased two per cent year-over-year, with an operating margin of 9.5 per cent. Flooring sales for the rest of the world increased 16 per cent.

July 27, 2018

Supply Chain Attacks On Rise

Nearly 80 per cent of global security professionals believe that software supply chain attacks have the potential to become one of the biggest targets of cyber threats over the next three years and few organizations are prepared to mitigate the risks, says a report by CrowdStrike Inc. ‘Securing the Supply Chain’ shows two-thirds of organizations experienced a software supply chain attack in the past 12 months. At the same time, 71 per cent believe their organization does not always hold external suppliers to the same security standards. The vast majority (87 per cent) of those that suffered a software supply chain attack had either a full strategy in place or some level of response pre-planned at the time of their attack. Ninety per cent of respondents confirm they incurred a financial cost as a result of experiencing a software supply chain attack. As well, although almost 90 per cent of the respondents believe they are at risk for supply chain attack, companies are still slow to detect, remediate, and respond to threats. However, organizations are looking to adopt leading approaches to breach protection such as behavioural analytics, endpoint detection and response, and threat intelligence with three quarters of respondents using or evaluating these technologies.

U.S. Non-residential Building Soars

New U.S. construction starts in June climbed 11 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $896.3 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase marked the second double-digit gain in a row, following the 15 per cent hike that was reported for May. Boosting activity in June was a sharp 57 per cent advance for non-residential building. Residential building grew four per cent, helped by growth for multi-family housing. The non-building construction sector (public works and electric utilities) retreated 28 per cent in June, pulling back after the sharp 37 per cent increase reported in May. Through the first six months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $395.7 billion, up one per cent from the same period a year ago. June’s data raised the Dodge Index to 190, compared to an upwardly revised 170 for May. Dodge says residential building is seeing surprising resilience from multi-family housing, even as apartment vacancy rates have moved up gradually. Non-residential building in June was $402.3 billion (annual rate), up 57 per cent from May while residential building was $323 billion (annual rate), up four per cent. Multi-family housing grew nine per cent, advancing for the second month in a row after weak activity in April.

Consumers Want Personalized Content For Mobile

Nearly 100 per cent of U.S. consumers say they would save content to their mobile wallet if it was tailored to them, says a survey by mobile marketing company Vibes. This suggests that a gap exists between what consumers want from brands and what is currently being offered to them. The findings show that consumers’ increasing use of wallet is for storing loyalty cards, coupons, and tickets – it’s not about payments. Consumers are defaulting to mobile more than ever before to engage with brands - through shopping with mobile wallet, receiving personalized text messages, and activating customer support through chatbots. Promotions are the number one driver for consumers to use their mobile wallet and consumers are ready to go digital with coupons and loyalty cards, particularly among Millennials. Feelings about mobile wallets remain mixed, although younger consumers are most willing to try them. Brands must stay current and cutting-edge and retailer, restaurant, and brand apps remain the most commonly downloaded type of app, but consumers will delete apps if they are unused or take up too much storage. Vibes suggests to strike a balance with message volume as consumers find text messaging useful and are enticed by value-based communications (like incentives and rewards). They will unsubscribe if they receive too many messages, however.

Whirlpool Has Loss

Whirlpool Corporation had a net GAAP loss of $657 million for the second quarter, compared to net sales of $189 million in the second quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were $5.1 billion versus $5.3 billion in the year-ago period. Excluding the impact of currency, sales decreased 4.5 per cent and sales in North America decreased 2.2 per cent. EBIT was a loss of $562 million, or negative 10.9 per cent of sales, compared to EBIT of $251 million, or 4.7 per cent of sales, in the same prior-year period.

Sales Rise For 3M

3M had sales of $8.4 billion for the second quarter of 2018, a 7.4 per cent increase over sales in the second quarter of 2017. Total sales grew 15.8 per cent in safety and graphics, 6.8 per cent in industrial, 4.9 per cent in healthcare, 4.6 per cent in consumer, and 3.6 per cent in electronics and energy. Overall second-quarter operating income was $2.4 billion with operating margins of 28.6 per cent. Sales in the industrial segment increased in all areas, including advanced materials, abrasives, and industrial adhesives and tapes. Sales in the consumer segment grew in home improvement and home care.

July 26, 2018

Policies Causing Negative Housing Outlook

New government policies are causing consumers to have a more negative outlook for housing and real estate in Canada, says the ‘Report on the Housing and Mortgage Market in Canada’ by Mortgage Professionals Canada. While there is still broad agreement among consumers that real estate remains a good investment, the overall strength of consumer sentiment has been weakened by increasing interest rates and the new rules making it harder for home buyers to secure mortgage financing. The report suggests that fortunate first-time buyers are finding ways to supplement their down payment with help from their parents. This is benefiting those lucky enough to have family who have the financial means to assist them, but it is leaving a lot of middle-class Canadians behind. More and more young people are getting used to the idea that they may never own a home. With an increasing concern on income and wealth inequality, current policies that create a permanent generation of middle-class renters could increase wealth inequality as the ability to own homes and generate long-term equity becomes more and more difficult. Mortgage Professionals Canada says it supports a stress test, but recommends it be at a reduced rate of 0.75 per cent. It says that one of the most dangerous things that can happen to the Canadian economy is for house prices to fall.

Amazon To Build Fulfillment Centre In Caledon

Amazon will build a fulfillment centre in Caledon, ON. The one-million-square-foot facility will join the company’s network of existing Ontario buildings in Brampton, Mississauga, Milton, and Ottawa. This will be Amazon's sixth fulfillment centre in Ontario. Associates at this facility will pick, pack, and ship small items to customers such as books, electronics, and toys.

IKEA To Open Quebec City Store

IKEA Canada will open its IKEA Quebec City store on August 22. The company will hold grand opening celebrations that will feature family entertainment and giveaways. The 340,000-square-foot store will include a large showroom and market hall, a restaurant, and a Småland children's play facility. It will also offer services such as home delivery, assembly, planning, and returns. As a result of the store opening, the existing Quebec City pick-up and order point will close August 13.

West Fraser Sales Strong

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1,834 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over sales of $1,322 million in the second quarter of 2017. Operating earnings for the quarter were $464 million versus $217 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $593 million versus $305 million in the year-ago period. The lumber segment generated operating earnings of $358 million adjusted EBITDA of $467 million. The panels segment generated operating earnings in the quarter of $52 million adjusted EBITDA of $56 million. Pulp and paper generated operating earnings of $56 million adjusted EBITDA of $68 million.

PPG Has Sales Growth

PPG had net sales of about $4.1 billion for the second quarter of 2018, up nearly nine per cent versus the prior year. Second quarter net income from continuing operations was $371 million compared to income from continuing operations of $497 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted net income from continuing operations was $468 million compared to $465 million in the previous year. In the performance coatings segment, net sales grew nine per cent to $2.5 billion for the quarter. The industrial coatings segment second quarter net sales were about $1.6 billion, up $128 million, or nearly nine per cent, versus the prior year.

July 25, 2018

Retail Data Breaches Continue To Rise

Data breaches have skyrocketed, with 50 per cent of U.S. retailers experiencing a breach in the last year, up from 19 per cent the prior year, says a report from Thales. This puts U.S. retail ahead of healthcare and financial services and only slightly behind the U.S. federal government for breaches. The report also shows that 84 per cent of retailers intend to increase IT security spending, but the greatest spending plans are for defenses that are ranked least effective. Part of the reason behind the increase is the trend of retailers aggressively pursuing a multi-cloud strategy, yet they continue to spend on the same security solutions that worked for them previously. These traditional endpoint and network security solutions are no longer sufficient to protect sensitive data. Thales says the message here is that management needs a sense of urgency and security professionals must do a better job of selling the importance of data security.

Non-residential Building Construction Increase Small

Investment in non-residential building construction totalled $14.3 billion in the second quarter, up 1.4 per cent compared with the first quarter, says Statistics Canada. The commercial ($123.7 million) and industrial ($103.4 million) components were up, while the institutional component declined. Spending on institutional building construction was down 0.9 per cent ($35.3 million) compared with the first quarter. The decrease follows four consecutive quarterly gains. Investment was up in six provinces in the second quarter, with Ontario ($130.6 million) reporting the largest rise, followed by Quebec ($76.7 million) and British Columbia ($45.6 million). Every component was up in all three provinces, led by spending on commercial building construction. The largest quarterly decline was in Alberta ($63.4 million), reflecting lower spending on commercial ($42.5 million) and institutional ($38 million) building construction.

Festool To Expand North American Headquarters

The Lebanon, IN-based headquarters for Festool USA and Festool Canada is expanding by 80,000 square feet. This is the second, large-scale expansion within the past three years. Company executives cite increased demand and robust sales behind the $9.3 million expansion, as the Festool brand continues to grow among professional tool users, residential contractors, painters, remodelers, and woodworkers. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and will be completed by December 2019. Festool moved its North American headquarters to Lebanon in 2006. In 2015, Festool doubled its facility size. In 2017, Festool began manufacturing its FS Guide Rails at the Lebanon facility and has plans to further expand its Indiana manufacturing operations.

PPG Makes Appointments

William Schaupp is vice-president and controller at PPG. Previously, he was assistant controller and acting controller. He joined PPG in 2008. Anne M. Foulkes is senior vice-president, general counsel and secretary. Previously, she was vice-president, associate general counsel. She joined the company in 1995.

UFPI Has Double Digit Growth

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) had net earnings of $44 million for the second quarter of 2018, a 31 per cent increase over net earnings for the second quarter of 2017. EBITDA was $77 million for the quarter, up 14 per cent year-over-year. Gross sales increased 21 per cent, with gains of 19 per cent in the retail and industrial markets and 26 per cent in the construction market. New product sales were $153.1 million, up 25 per cent over the same period a year ago. Sales to big box customers increased 16 per cent, while sales to independent customers grew 25 per cent.

July 24, 2018

Wholesale Sales Set Record For May

Wholesale sales rose 1.2 per cent to a record $63.7 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing approximately 50 per cent of total wholesale sales. The miscellaneous, building material and supplies, and farm product subsectors contributed the most to the gains in May. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 1.3 per cent. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector rose five per cent to $9.7 billion as all industries posted gains in May. Much of May's increase was attributable to higher sales in the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry, up 7.3 per cent to $4.9 billion. This was the third consecutive increase for the industry and the highest sales level since July 2017. In volume terms, the industry increased 6.8 per cent, indicating that the gain in the current dollar series was partly price driven. In May, international merchandise trade reported gains in both imports and exports of building and packaging materials. Wholesale inventories rose for the second consecutive month, up 1.4 per cent to a record $84 billion in May. The building material and supplies subsector (two per cent) rose for the third consecutive month, on the strength of higher inventories in the metal service centres (3.8 per cent) and the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies (1.6 per cent) industries.

Condo, Townhome Sales Plummet In BC

The rate at which presale condos and townhomes are being snapped up has plummeted across Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in British Columbia – especially in downtown Vancouver, says a report by MLA Advisory. The absorption rate of newly released presale units in June across the Lower Mainland was just 50 per cent, compared with 94 per cent in January. The monthly absorption rate is the proportion of units that are both released and sold within that month. Overall, from January to June inclusive, 74 per cent of the 7,753 presale unit released in the Lower Mainland were sold. However, the pace of sales is slowing, with 79 per cent sales in 2018’s first quarter, and 69 per cent in the second quarter. MLA says the more modest pace of sales was good news for home buyers and the industry. Burnaby North bucked the overall trend with unprecedented levels of residential development at Brentwood and Lougheed. It had a January-thru-June sold rate of 91 per cent, out of nearly 1,600 new homes released. Most of these units were concrete condos in Brentwood. West Coquitlam and North Surrey also saw strong presale activity, “proving that demand remains high for transit-oriented communities,” says the report.

Arrow Tools To Be Featured In TV Show

Arrow Fastener Company’s tools will be featured in a new competition series called ‘Making It.’ Premiering July 31, the NBC series will be hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Six talented DIY crafters will tackle projects that test their ability to think outside the box in an unpredictable way. Arrow’s glue guns, nailers, riveters, and staple guns will be used.

Trex Makes Moves

Bryan Fairbanks is executive vice-president and will retain his current title of chief financial officer with Trex Company, Inc. Adam Zambanini is president of Trex Residential Products. Previously, he was vice-president, marketing. Leslie Adkins is vice-president, marketing. She has been with the company for nine years.

Stanley B&D Has Strong Sales

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.6 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 35.3 per cent. Excluding charges, the gross margin rate was 35.6 per cent, down 210 basis points from prior year. Tools and storage net sales increased 11 per cent versus the prior year period while industrial net sales increased 14 per cent. Security net sales increased six per cent.

July 23, 2018

Building Materials Help Drive Retail Sales

Retail sales increased two per cent in May to $50.8 billion, following a 0.9 per cent decline in April, says Statistics Canada. Sales rose in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 70 per cent of retail trade. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at gasoline stations were the main contributors to the gain in May. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.9 per cent. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers sales increased 5.4 per cent and helped to more than offset the declines in other subsectors. Increases in each of these subsectors more than offset the declines that had been reported in April. Seven provinces reported higher sales in May, with Ontario and Quebec more than offsetting their declines from April. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.4 billion, representing 2.5 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 16.9 per cent, while total unadjusted sales increased 5.5 per cent.

Small Change In U.S. Building Permits

Building permits for privately-owned housing units in the U.S. in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.27 million, says the U.S. Census Bureau. This is roughly 2.2 per cent below the revised May rate of 1.30 million and three per cent below the June 2017 rate of 1.31 million. Single-family permits were at a rate of 850,000; this is 0.8 per cent above the revised May figure of 843,000. Privately-owned housing starts in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million. This is 12.3 per cent below the revised May estimate of 1.34 million and is 4.2 per cent below the June 2017 rate.

Hy-Lite Celebrates 30 Years Of Acrylic Blocks

Florida-based Hy-Lite Products, Inc. is celebrating 30 years of manufacturing acrylic block products such as privacy panels, windows, and interior shutters. The company started in the privacy window market in 1988 and introduced pre-framed acrylic block windows as an alternative to heavier traditional glass block. These units eliminate the use of mortar and reduce labour spent on creating a glass block window one block at a time. The company was acquired by U.S. Block Windows, Inc. in 2009 which allowed the growth of acrylic block products to continue with the launch of door inserts, energy-efficient block options, impact-resistant blocks, and unique partition applications. All products are made and sourced in the U.S. and are available to Canadian retailers.

U.S. Window, Door Market To Slow

U.S. residential window and door growth didn’t wane in 2017, but appears to be slowing slightly in 2018, says a report by the Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA). A forecast combination of decreased housing starts and reduced remodeling projects will limit window and door sales growth. The ‘WDMA 2018 U.S. Industry Market Study’ shows that architectural interior flush door leaves softened in 2017 with only 1.1 per cent compared to three per cent for Stile and Rail (albeit at much lower volumes). Shipments for both are expected to grow at a similar rate with a forecast of around one per cent growth each year through 2020. Commercial shop-built windows grew 8.3 per cent in 2017 with 850,000 units shipped. Shipments are beginning to level off in 2018 with only 885,000 units forecast to be shipped. With the non-residential market softening, an eventual growth rate of only 1.8 per cent in 2020 is forecast.

McFarland Named Lowe’s EVP, Stores

Joseph M. McFarland III is executive vice-president, stores, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective August 15. He has more than 25 years of retail operations experience, most recently at JCPenney, where he oversaw the company's stores, operations, and merchandise strategies.

Grainger Sales Rise

Grainger had sales of $2.9 billion in the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 9.4 per cent versus sales of $2.6 billion in the second quarter of 2017. Operating earnings for the quarter were $344 million, up 50 per cent versus $229 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $1.11 billion versus $1.04 billion, a seven per cent increase. Gross profit margin for the quarter was 38.8 per cent versus 39.8 per cent in the 2017 quarter. Net earnings were $237 million versus $98 million in the year-ago period, an increase of 149 per cent. In Canada, the company closed 30 branches in the quarter as part of its business turnaround. Currently there are 44 branches in Canada.

OHBA Conference Returns To Ottawa

The Ontario Home Builders' Association (OHBA) returns to Ottawa, ON, for the ‘OHBA 2018 Conference.’ The event will be hosted by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association and will offer industry insights, professional networking, and more. It takes place September 23 to 25. For more information visit OHBA

July 20, 2018

New Housing Construction Investment Increases

Investment in new housing construction increased 6.3 per cent from May 2017 to $4.8 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. The year-over-year increase was led by spending on multiple-unit construction (apartment buildings, row houses, and semi-detached houses), while spending on single-family homes was down. Apartment building construction rose in eight provinces, led by Quebec ($225.2 million), Ontario ($114.5 million), and British Columbia ($93.2 million), accounting for 39.7 per cent of total investment in new housing construction and the largest share on record since the start of this data series in 1992. Spending on row house construction was up 11.7 per cent ($56.4 million) compared with May 2017, while investment in semi-detached houses increased by 8.8 per cent ($19.7 million) in May compared with the same month in 2017. Spending on single homes was down 9.9 per cent ($232.3 million) year over year.

Robust Outlook For U.S. Home Improvements

U.S. homeowners are expected to increase spending on improvements and repairs at a solid clip over the coming year, says the ‘Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity’ (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that annual growth in homeowner remodeling expenditure will taper somewhat in the first half of 2019, but still remain around seven per cent. “A growing economy and stronger job market are boosting owners’ willingness to invest in home improvements,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Rising home values and increased home equity levels are also encouraging more owners to do larger upgrade and replacement projects.” Although the projected growth for remodeling activity remains strong, the low inventory of existing homes for sale is holding back even larger gains, since significant remodeling and repair often occurs around the time of a sale.

Quebec Home Sales Stay Strong

A total of 27,037 residential sales were concluded in Quebec in the second quarter of 2018, setting a new second-quarter record, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). This was a six per cent increase in sales compared to the second quarter of 2017. This makes the 16th consecutive quarter that residential sales have increased in the province and only the second time since statistics have been compiled that there’s been such a long streak of sales increases. Sales increased for all three property categories, but condominiums stood out with a jump of 14 per cent. Sales of single-family homes and plexes with two to five dwellings both increased by three per cent. Geographically, all of the province's census metropolitan areas (CMAs) registered an increase in sales in the quarter, with Gatineau (15 per cent) and Trois-Rivières (12 per cent) leading the way. The downward trend in active listings continued for a 10th consecutive quarter. From April to June, there was an average of 67,019 properties for sale, which is a nine per cent drop compared to the second quarter of 2017.

Holman Builds Up Technology Department

Brand design and fabrication group Holman is building up its research and technology department to accommodate tech needs of any scale. Neville Moffat, technology development manager, has spearheaded a display ‘Tech Room’ so clients and partners can experience the ‘cool tech’ in action. The room capabilities are to eventually grow and spread its capabilities across Holman with the intention to become ‘smart’ Holman which will have seamless smart features to make experiences immersive, interactive, and easy to manage. Some of the technologies include interactive media, media duplication and distribution, virtual reality, augmented reality, and proximity and motion sensors. Holman has also acquired a grand LED wall to showcase large content with high resolution and faster image processing. The LED wall has virtual capabilities and can capture signals in different resolutions and formats in a wide range of devices such as cameras, computers, cable boxes, and more. Holman’s clients include Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Velux, and Acklands Grainger.

International Presentations Held At IDS Vancouver

Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver is collaborating with Björklund for an onsite trend installation showcasing Finnish design, mixing visual and societal trends in a narrative, ambient, and multidisciplinary way. The Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Envisions, a Dutch-based collective with an affinity for material exploration and design process, will also be presenting at the show. All presentations and exhibits will be available for viewing onsite at the Vancouver Convention Centre West or offsite at various designers’ studios from September 18 to 23. For more information, visit IDS Vancouver

ASSA ABLOY Sales Up Nine Per Cent

ASSA ABLOY had net sales of SEK21,140 million ($3.14 billion) for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of nine per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was SEK2,049 million ($304.6 million), a decrease of six per cent over net income of SEK2,179 million ($323.9 million). Operating margin was14.2 per cent versus 16.3 per cent a year ago. ASSA ABLOY is a global door opening solutions company with a portfolio of roughly 100 brands.

July 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise

Manufacturing sales increased 1.4 per cent to $57.1 billion in May, following a 1.1 per cent decline in April. Sales rose in 14 of 21 industries, representing 64 per cent of total manufacturing sales. The chemical, machinery, and wood product industries accounted for most of the gains. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales were up 0.9 per cent. Manufacturing sales were up in seven provinces in May, led by Alberta and British Columbia. In British Columbia, wood product manufacturing was the main contributor to the gain at 9.2 per cent. Manufacturing inventories rose 0.4 per cent to a record high $81.5 billion in May. Inventories were up in nine of 21 industries, representing 58 per cent of total manufacturing inventories. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.44 in April to 1.43 in May. Unfilled orders were up 3.5 per cent to $92.8 billion, the fourth consecutive monthly gain.

U.S. Retail Sales Up Despite Trade War

June U.S. retail sales were up 0.07 per cent seasonally adjusted from May’s strong performance and increased 4.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year as economic growth continued despite the U.S. trade war with China and other countries, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The three-month moving average was up 4.4 per cent over the same period a year ago, matching the top end of NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent over 2017. The June results build on improvement seen in May, which was up one per cent monthly and up 6.1 per cent year-over-year. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 2.8 per cent year-over-year and up 0.8 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

NCI To Merge With Ply Gem

Commercial exterior building products company NCI Building Systems, Inc. will combine with Ply Gem Parent, LLC, a manufacturer of exterior building products for residential construction in a stock-for-stock merger. NCI chairman James S. Metcalf will lead the integration of the two companies and serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the combined company. He says the merger creates multiple avenues for further growth in exterior building products. The company will operate under a name to be determined and each entity will preserve its existing established brands. The company will be headquartered in Cary, NC, with a presence in Houston, TX.

Intertape Acquires Polyair

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. is acquiring Polyair Inter Pack Inc., a manufacturer of protective packaging. Polyair is a private company with dual headquarters in Toronto, ON, and Chicago, IL, and operates seven plants and a distribution centre in North America. It makes bubble cushioning, foam, mailers, and air pillow systems which Intertape describes as complementary to its products. Intertape, a Montreal, ON-based manufacturer of tapes, films, and other products used with packaging, said the two companies’ combined product bundle will provide “significant cross-selling opportunities” through similar distribution and end-user customer channels, both focusing on eCommerce to drive growth. The transaction is expected to complete in the third quarter.

Home Hardware’s Gabel Retires

After a career that extends 68 years in the home improvement retailing business, Ray Gabel, senior merchandise advisor at Home Hardware Stores Limited, has retired. Gabel joined the precursor to Home Hardware, Hollinger Hardware, in 1950 and attended the meeting in 1964 that officially ushered Home Hardware into existence. He took on a purchasing role with the new company and served many roles leading to his appointment as vice-president, merchandise, in 1979. In 2015, he transitioned to the role of senior merchandise advisor. As well, Gabel was inducted into the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Home Hardware Stores Limited Builders’ Circle in 2015. He is also well-known for his support for community and industry fundraisers, charities, and events.

July 18, 2018

June Home Sales Activity Improves

National home sales rose 4.1 per cent in June compared to May, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). While this marks the first substantive month-over-month increase this year, sales remain well down from monthly levels recorded over the past five years. More than 60 per cent of all local housing markets reported increased sales activity in June compared to May, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario. By contrast, sales in British Columbia continue to moderate. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down almost 11 per cent compared to June 2017. Sales were at a five-year low and stood almost seven per cent below the 10-year average for the month of June. Activity came in below year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local markets, led overwhelmingly by those in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Across Canada, the number of newly-listed homes retreated 1.8 per cent in June and also stood below levels for the month in recent years. New listings declined in a number of large urban markets. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 54.3 per cent in June compared to 51.2 per cent in May. The June reading was within short reach of the long-term average of 53.4 per cent.

Beacon Acquires Atlas Supply

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. has acquired Atlas Supply, Inc. a U.S. distributor of sealants, coatings, adhesives, and related waterproofing products. Founded in Seattle, WA, in 1917, Atlas has six locations in the Pacific Northwest. Beacon says the acquisition is a strategic fit of the compatibility of the two companies and Atlas will strengthen its sealant, coatings, and waterproofing business in the area.

Spectrum Brands, HRG Group Complete Merger

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. has completed the merger between Spectrum Brands and HRG Group, Inc. Following the closing, Spectrum Brands continues as the successor to HRG Group under the name Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. The combination creates an independent company with a more widely distributed shareholder base, meaningfully increased trading liquidity in its common stock, and an independent governance structure. The combined company's headquarters will remain in Middleton, WI, and the current Spectrum Brands management team will lead the combined company.

SANIFLO Announces Cambridge Location

Macerating and grinding toilet company SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, is expanding its operations and moving to a new location in Cambridge, ON. The new, 9,500-square-foot facility, now open, will allow the company to meet growing demand for its products. The move comes at a significant time for SANIFLO as this year marks the company’s 30-year anniversary in Canada.

Barrault Joins TIMBER MART

Gary Barrault is commodity trader with the lumber-trading team in the Prairies at TIMBER MART. He has more than 25 years of experience in the building material industry, where he has held a variety of operations and retail management positions within various organizations, including North American Lumber.

July 17, 2018

Renoworks Opens Platform To Third Parties

Renoworks Software Inc. now has third-party visualization integration capabilities by opening its home design ecosystem to manufacturers' independently developed visual product configurators. Previously, manufacturer integration with Renoworks visualizer platform required Renoworks' specific product library format. With new third-party integration, manufacturers can now embed their existing configurators into the Renoworks visualization platform, thereby creating a seamless experience for end-users to customize products such as doors and windows, and transition to a home design project within Renoworks. As additional benefits to this integration, manufacturers not only gain branding and product exposure within the Renoworks network of lumber and building material suppliers, retailers, contractors, remodelers, builders, and homeowners, they also decrease deployment time, streamline library maintenance and increase speed and efficiency in their product go-to-market strategies.

Bullers To Acquire Superior Cabinets

Saskatoon, SK-based Superior Cabinets has made a purchase agreement to sell the company. Superior was founded in 1980 and sells through their retail stores as well as through a network of 75 dealers in western Canada. The new owners will be the Buller family of Winnipeg, MB, who have a long history and track record in the kitchen cabinet industry. In 2003 Mark Buller, together with his family and senior management, acquired Norcraft Cabinets from the then existing unitholders. They took Norcraft Companies Inc. public in 2013, built it up into a $376 million dollar company and sold it to Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. in 2015, owners of MasterBrand Cabinets. The Buller family has a long legacy in the kitchen cabinet industry, as Mark's father, Herb Buller and several partners founded Kitchen Craft in 1971 which was acquired by Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. in 2002. Superior Cabinets will remain business as usual, with expansion plans into new markets in Canada and the U.S. as a top priority going forward.

GE Appliances Invests In Fridge Plant

GE Appliances, a Haier company, will invest $115 million to expand its Decatur Refrigerator Plant in Decatur, AL. The investment — made in partnership with the state of Alabama, the Morgan County Economic Development Association, and the Tennessee Valley Authority — will help GE Appliances increase production to meet increasing demand for its top-freezer refrigerators. The expansion of the Decatur plant is the most recent investment made by the business since becoming part of Haier two years ago. In 2018 alone, GE Appliances’ major investments have included an investment in its distribution center in northern Georgia; the expansion and enhancement of a ‘smart’ distribution center in Dallas, TX; and a plant expansion in Selmer, TN. The investment will significantly expand the Decatur plant and boost production capacity by 25 per cent.

Demand Continues For Outdoor Kitchen Equipment

Demand for outdoor kitchen cooking fixtures is projected to climb 5.4 per cent annually to $325 million in 2022, says the Freedonia Group. Gains will be driven by ongoing development of high-end grills (with feature such as infrared heating elements, integrated smoker boxes) and LED-illuminated controls supporting pricing growth and value gains. An increasing interest in artisanal grilling is also encouraging the use of high-end specialty fixtures like kamados and pellet grills. As well, rising interest in installing multiple cooking fixtures – including lower-cost add-ons like side burners and other peripherals – to enhance an outdoor kitchen’s functionality will drive sales. In general, outdoor kitchen cooking fixtures tend to be high-value, supporting significant gains as installations steadily increase. Since these are permanent fixtures, they tend to feature substantial cooking area and power, durable materials, and extensive warranties, and most consumers installing an amenity as high-value as an outdoor kitchen are willing to invest in high-quality fixtures.

July 16, 2018

Record Building Permits Issues In May

In the residential sector, municipalities issued $5.5 billion worth of permits in May, up 7.7 per cent from April, says Statistics Canada. This was the second-highest value on record, following the $5.7 billion worth of permits issued in October 2016. Five provinces posted increases, with Ontario and British Columbia reporting the largest gains. The multi-family dwelling component reached a record high in May, with municipalities issuing $3.1 billion worth of building permits. The increase was the result of higher construction intentions in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta. The value of single-family dwelling permits also rose in May, up 6.2 per cent from the previous month to $2.5 billion. This was the first increase following four consecutive monthly declines. Ontario led the seven provinces that registered increases.

Amazon To Build Eighth Canadian Fulfillment Centre

Amazon is building a fulfillment centre in the Orleans suburb of Ottawa, ON. The one-million-square-foot customer fulfillment facility is Amazon's fifth in Ontario and eighth in Canada. Associates at this facility will pick, pack, and ship large items like household decor, sporting equipment, and gardening tools.

Tafisa Launches Perfect Match HPL

Tafisa is adding a complete matching line of high pressure laminates (HPL) to its Sommet and Prelude TFL Series. Made from the same texture plates and printed décors, the Perfect Match will have the same look and feel of Tafisa’s TFL and HPL. As well, Tafisa’s synchronized texture (EIR) program within the Sommet Series will now be available in both TFL and HPL across all décors. Branded Surforma, Tafisa’s 5x9 HPL line is manufactured by its sister company, Sonae Indústria de Revestimentos, SA (SIR) in Portugal. The full Surforma line will be stocked in Canada and offered with deliveries of TFL panels and HPL sheets.

Contest Helps SMEs Reduce GHG Emissions

The Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, ON, has launched a contest on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Climate CoLab platform to solicit a broad range of possible solutions to help small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ontario reduce their direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while helping them thrive. The winning proposals may be eligible to receive a share of $425,000 plus other supports to pilot their solutions in Ontario over eight months, starting November. Many SMEs face barriers to lowering their emissions, from lacking the technical expertise to assess options for reducing emissions to not being able to afford the upfront costs of a low-carbon technology. However, once the right technologies or practices are implemented, the savings and other benefits to SMEs can be substantial. The contest, now sourcing proposals on the MIT Climate CoLab platform, allows members of the public to provide feedback to proposal authors, and to cast votes for the ‘People's Choice Winner.’ A panel of judges will select three to five winning proposals based on their desirability, feasibility, scalability, and impact to potentially be piloted in Ontario. The contest is open to proposal submissions until August 3. Proposals submitted prior to July 11 will be reviewed by the judges and given feedback before the contest deadline.

Revenue Rises For Residential Lighting Controls

Global annual residential lighting controls revenue will grow from $963 million in 2018 to $1.5 billion in 2027, says a report from Navigant Research. It shows the residential market for connected LED lighting lamps, luminaires, and controls is growing. Increased interest in the smart home and desire for home automation is spurring global adoption of connected LED lighting. However, despite the added value of connected LEDs, overall market penetration of these products is still small. This is partly due to consumers’ lack of understanding of the value and use cases of connected lighting products. Lighting manufacturers are turning toward lighting controls and connected products to continue adding value for customers. Controls and connected LED products also provide manufacturers a new or increased revenue stream as revenue for residential lamps declines. This is due to declining LED prices and the replacement of legacy lighting products with longer lasting LEDs. However, even with the increased number of available controls products, demand for controls in the residential sector is still not strong.

July 13, 2018

Flexible Structural Sheathing Claims Unsafe

Manufacturers of flexible structural sheathing overstate their lateral load resistance values by as much as 42 per cent, finds a report by laboratories at Clemson University, University of Oklahoma, and APA – The Engineered Wood Association. The laboratories studied five flexible structural sheathing materials available in the marketplace and tested them for wind and seismic lateral load (shear wall) performance. The evaluations were based on two shear wall test standards listed in each manufacturer’s product evaluation report, ASTM E564 and ASTM E2126. Some of the products tested were as thin as 0.078-inch but claimed shear wall values that were higher than those for 15/32-inch-thick wood structural panels. These overstated lateral load design properties published by the manufacturers raise a question to the safety and reliability of a structure designed with these products, says the report. APA published the results in its ‘Product Advisory: Performance of Flexible Structural Sheathing.’

Lowe’s Canada Bikes For Kids

Lowe’s Canada has donated $1,225,000 to the Fondation Charles-Bruneau, a funder of pediatric hematology and oncology research in Quebec. The donation amount was revealed July 6 at the finish line of the Tour CIBC Charles-Bruneau. For its first year as a Diamond Partner of the tour, Lowe's Canada brought together a team of more than 90 cyclists made up of employees from the Boucherville head office and from RONA and Reno-Depot stores across Quebec, in addition to suppliers. Members of the Lowe's Canada team took part in one of the four proposed treks ranging from 50 km to 600 km, raising $283,446. The rest of the amount given to the Fondation Charles-Bruneau comes from a corporate donation made by Lowe's Canada and a fundraising campaign held in Quebec's corporate RONA and Reno-Depot stores.

Electric Screwdriver Sales To Remain Strong

Sales of electric screwdrivers are forecast to expand 5.1 per cent annually to $340 million by 2022, representing a deceleration from the advances of the 2012 to 2017 period, says the Freedonia Group. Continued increases in construction spending will provide the greatest impetus for growth. In addition, consumer purchases of electric screwdrivers for DIY activities or as part of a household toolbox for simple repair tasks will contribute to advances. The general ease of use of electric screwdrivers relative to manual types will cause many consumers and professionals to supplement their existing screwdrivers with electric models. However, because of the generally low cost of these tools compared to other electric power tools, domestic firms face more intense pricing competition from imported screwdrivers than other products, especially those from China and Mexico. In addition, cordless units manufactured in China benefit from the proximity of suppliers of the necessary battery units, further promoting sales from this nation.

Nguyen Promoted To Director Of Marketing

Salyna Nguyen has been promoted to director of marketing of Liteline Corporation. She joined Liteline in 2017 as channel marketing manager - C&I North America. Prior to joining Liteline, she spent close to a decade as marketing manager for Allied Technical Solutions.

WD-40 Company Sales Rise

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $107 million for the third quarter of its 2018 fiscal year. This is a nine per cent increase over total net sales in the third quarter of its 2017 year. Net income for the quarter was $16.1 million, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the prior year quarter. Gross margin was 54.8 per cent compared to 55.3 per cent. Net sales of maintenance products, which are considered the primary growth focus for the company, increased 11 per cent. Net sales of homecare and cleaning products decreased 12 per cent.

July 12, 2018

Jenkins: Don’t Limit Your Dreams

Don’t be intimidated by dreaming about the unattainable because how do we know what is unattainable? asks Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says, “It’s important when creating your vision that you don’t limit yourself by what you believe is feasible today.” Everything changes, and “by stretching your thinking you can stretch your goals.” Jenkins says too often entrepreneurs get caught up in the day-to-day and stop dreaming and honouring their vision. “As an entrepreneur, you need to spend your time developing your vision and the strategy to achieve it.” He recommends business owners spend 15 or 25 minutes a day to set goals and strategize. In 2008, the team at Castle looked at the big-picture of the company and its business model. Today, the group has developed a new model that includes a progressive and professional relationship with vendors, something that may have seemed infeasible 10 years ago. To turn the goal into reality, the team had to make some tactical and strategic changes. “This was not a daily, weekly, or even annual goal. It could only be achieved by taking a big-picture approach and using it as a guiding principle for all business objectives. And it worked.”

Tariffs Will Drive Up U.S. Prices

The U.S. tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods will do nothing to protect U.S. jobs, but they will undermine the benefits of tax reform and drive up prices for a wide range of products as diverse as tool sets, batteries, remote controls, flash drives, and thermostats, says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the U.S.-based National Retail Federation. Shay says the tariffs will destroy thousands of American jobs and raise prices on virtually everything. “Reining in China’s abusive trade policies is a goal shared by many countries, but a strategy based on unilateral tariffs is the wrong approach and it has to stop,” he says.

VELUX Launches Skylight Automation System

VELUX Skylights has launched a skylight automation system that aims to improve indoor air quality and create a comfortable living environment. VELUX ACTIVE with NETATMO is a smart skylight system that connects with Apple HomeKit, allowing homeowners to manage indoor climate control at home or remotely across all Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. The system can be controlled using Siri, Apple's voice-controlled intelligent assistant, or with the touch of a button on the Apple Home app. Users can control their VELUX Skylights by opening or closing them or adjusting the blinds to bring in or block natural light. As well, smart sensor technology monitors CO2, humidity levels, and temperature in the home and data from local weather stations to automatically open the skylights if fresh air is needed. The system can also automate skylight blinds.

Stensson Announces Retirement

Over the past several months, Sheridan Nurseries’ board of directors have conducted an extensive search to find a president and chief executive officer for the company to replace Karl Stensson, who has announced his retirement. Stensson first worked at the nursery during summer breaks when he was in high school and university. He returned in 1976 as wholesale sales manager and, after roles with increasing responsibility, was named president and CEO in 2015. Stensson is a staunch industry supporter who served on many boards and received many awards. He will continue at the company in a reduced capacity as vice-executive chairman and director of brand integrity.

Fastenal Has Strong Quarter

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,267.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, a 13.1 per cent increase over net sales of $1,121.5 million for the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $617.7 million, an increase of 10.6 per cent over gross profit of $558.5 million a year ago. Profit as a percentage of sales was 48.7 per cent versus 49.8 per cent. Operating income was $269 million for the quarter, a 13.3 per cent increase over $237.5 million in 2017. EBIT was $265.9 million, a 13 per cent increase year-over-year and net earnings were $211.2 million, up 41.9 per cent.

July 11, 2018

June Housing Starts Trend Increases

The trend in housing starts was 222,041 units in June, compared to 216,701 units in May, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The increase in housing starts reflects a jump in the SAAR of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres to a historical high. Notably, the national inventory of newly completed and unabsorbed multi-unit dwellings has remained below its 10-year historical average so far in 2018, indicating that demand for this type of unit has absorbed increased supply. Housing starts trended down in Vancouver, BC, Calgary, AB, Winnipeg, MB, and trended up in Victoria, BC, Toronto and Kingston, ON, and Quebec.

Dodge Momentum Index Moves Higher in June

The Dodge Momentum Index grew 0.8 per cent in June to 165.5 from the revised May reading of 164.2. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. In June, the commercial component of the index moved 1.1 per cent higher, while the institutional component eked out a 0.3 per cent gain. June’s advance marks the fifth straight monthly increase, which is now nearing a 10-year high and suggests that the moderate strengthening of construction activity currently underway will continue through the end of 2018. At the same time, the gains for the index during the most recent two months have been considerably smaller than what took place from last October through April, returning to a pace more consistent with the gradual expansion that’s been present since the recovery began back in 2011.

CertainTeed To Acquire Hunter Douglas’ Ceilings Business

CertainTeed Corporation plans to acquire Hunter Douglas’ North American ceilings business. Hunter Douglas manufactures window coverings and architectural products. Its North American ceilings business manufactures architectural ceilings and soffit systems with operations in Norcross, GA, and Denver, CO, and has 100 employees. CertainTeed says the acquisition demonstrates its commitment to growing its ceilings business. As part of the divestment, Hunter Douglas will develop collaborative programs with CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain to market its commercial window-covering products. The acquisition will significantly expand the CertainTeed product portfolio, which includes all-purpose and high-performance acoustic ceiling panels, clouds and baffles, specialty gypsum ceilings, suspension systems, and custom-engineered acoustic solutions. The transaction is expected to close in July.

AIR MILES Rolls Out More Online Shops

Réno-Dépôt, Etsy, and Endy are among the latest businesses to join airmilesshops.ca, an AIR MILES online shopping portal. AIR MILES has rolled out a dozen new online stores where its collectors can get miles while doing their online shopping. This is in addition more than a hundred other brands already on the site, such as Lowe’s, RONA, Dyson, Amazon, and Hudson’s Bay. This announcement comes on the heels of a series of recent enhancements to the AIR MILES Reward Program, including new benefits on BMO AIR MILES Mastercard products, the expansion of rewards requiring less than 1,000 miles, a renewed focus on AIR MILES cash, and show your card benefits through AIR MILES perks.

Lowe's Realigns Leadership Structure

Lowe’s has realigned its leadership structure to “improve focus, better leverage Lowe's omni-channel capabilities, and deliver increased value for customers, associates, and shareholders,” says Marvin R. Ellison, president and chief executive officer. As part of the structure, the retailer has eliminated the chief operating officer, chief customer officer, corporate administration executive, and chief development officer positions. William P. (Bill) Boltz is executive vice-president, merchandising, effective August 15. He has more than three decades of retail operations, marketing, and merchandising experience and is currently the president and chief executive officer of Chervon North America. Mike West will act as executive vice-president, supply chain, a newly created role. He is senior vice-president, supply chain operations, and will serve in the role on a transitional basis while an external search is underway. The company has also initiated an external search for the newly created role of executive vice-president, stores and the position of executive vice-president, chief financial officer.

Gilmoure Joins TIMBER MART

Aaron Gilmoure is LBM procurement manager for Ontario with TIMBER MART. He has more than 20 years of experience in the building materials industry, having held sales and management positions within various organizations on both the retail and vendor sides of the industry.

July 10, 2018

Montreal Residential Sales Remain Up

A total of 4,081 residential sales were concluded in June in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), a one per cent increase compared to June of last year, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This is the 40th consecutive month with an increase. Geographically, five of the Montreal CMA's six main areas registered an increase in sales in June. Condominium transactions led the increase, with a seven per cent jump for June year-over-year. In contrast, sales of single-family homes and plexes fell by two per cent and three per cent, respectively. The median price of single-family homes across the Montreal CMA stood at $325,089 in June, up by only one per cent over last year. This was the smallest monthly increase in the past 20 months. The median price of condominiums was unchanged compared to June 2017 and stood at $256,000. Plexes registered a more sustained increase in median price at seven per cent, reaching $507,000. There were 22,333 active residential listings in June, a 17 per cent drop compared to June of 2017.

RONA Bois Turcotte Joins RONA eCommerce Program

RONA Bois Turcotte has joined the RONA network eCommerce program. The company has three locations in Quebec - Val-d’Or, Amos, and Malartic. This is the 100th RONA dealer store to join the program. Launched in 2017, the eCommerce program enables RONA dealers to offer a virtual product selection to their customers with no added pressure on stores’ inventory or storage capacity. Customers can choose from more than 40,000 products, place an order online, and then pick up their purchases at a participating RONA dealer store. Since June 2018, customers have also been able to purchase exclusive online products.

CGC Roof Deck Earns FM Global Approval

Building products manufacturer CGC Inc. has received ‘Factory Mutual (FM) Approval’ for its CGC Structural Panel Concrete Roof Deck. FM Global sets an industry standard with a rigorous testing process for select commercial building products for safety and structural integrity. The product is the first and only FM approved noncombustible structural panel sheathing in accordance with FM Standard 4472 for use in low-slope roof systems. In addition, it meets the FM 4475 requirements for steep-slope roof systems and is the first structural panel roof deck sheathing to meet the ASTM E136-16 fire reaction criteria.

Quebec City Bans Leaf Blowers

Starting next year, the city of Beaconsfield, QC, will implement regulations for electric and gas-powered leaf blowers in order to reduce their negative effect on health and reduce air and noise pollution. The guidelines for operating leaf blowers are initiated within the context of the wide range of actions undertaken by the city in recent years to preserve public health and help achieve the environmental targets determined by the governments of Canada and Quebec. Under the regulation, leaf blowers will be allowed from October 1 to May 31. Steering their usage minimizes the most important health risks and pollution problems caused by these tools while permitting them for spring cleaning and leaf pick-up in the fall. Both electric and gas-powered leaf blowers generate higher than recommended decibel levels and propel particles and pollutant emissions that are dangerous to the health of people and animals. Vancouver, BC, was the first city in Canada to ban gas-powered leaf blowers with a full ban that took effect in 2004. Toronto, ON, unsuccessfully tried to implement a regulation to ban leaf-blowers in 2007.

Wolseley Acquires AMRE Supply

Wolseley Canada Inc. has acquired AMRE Supply Company Limited, a supplier of plumbing, HVAC, appliance, and electrical and property maintenance parts and equipment. AMRE celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and gas 12 locations across Canada. AMRE’s 200 employees will join Wolseley and its president, Doug Swane, will join Wolseley as divisional president, AMRE Supply. AMRE branches will continue to operate under the ‘AMRE Supply’ brand.

July 9, 2018

Mental Health Issues Affecting Workplace

Mental health issues in the workplace are among the top concerns for organizations of all sizes and employees, says a survey by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and Morneau Shepell. The report shows one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year, equating to 500,000 employees unable to work every week due to mental health problems or illnesses. Workplace stress has become cyclical – it is a major contributor to mental health issues, which can subsequently impact workplace productivity. As well, the survey shows that Canadians reported high levels of concern regarding the impact of their mental health issues on their career and job performance. Close to three-quarters (70 per cent) of respondents state that their work experience impacted their mental health, while a higher number (78 per cent) reported mental health as the primary reason for missing work. The MHCC recommends employers put in place polices to curb mental health issues at all stages of employment.

KOTT Joins Sexton Group

KOTT has joined Sexton Group. With locations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Cobourg, ON, KOTT specializes in lumber and framing materials, factory-built building envelope components, home exterior products, and customer stair and railing systems. The family-owned and operated business was founded in 1974 and services residential and commercial new construction and the renovation market.

Kreitmaker Joins TORBSA

Toronto, ON-based Kreitmaker Inc. is a shareholder member of the TORBSA Limited buying group. Kreitmaker was established 14 years ago as a distribution business. The company joined TORBSA to enhance its continued success by growing the business and developing key relationships with shareholder and supplier partners, says Peter Ntakos, president.

Barrette Acquires DuraLife

Barrette Outdoor Living Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor living products, has acquired DuraLife decking and railing brands and assets from Integrity Composites LLC. DuraLife is a manufacturer of composite decking and railing systems. This strategic acquisition provides a natural extension of the category and allows Barrette to further expand their portfolio of product offerings by providing entry into the decking space. The DuraLife brand will remain unchanged and will continue to operate out of the existing Biddeford, MN, facility.

IKEA Opens Three Quebec Collection Points

IKEA Canada has opened three Quebec collection point locations in Drummondville, Sherbrook, and Trois-Rivières. Customer can now shop online and have them delivered to one of the collection points for $49, regardless of the size or value of the purchase. This compares to the home delivery fee of $120. The collection point is not an IKEA store and is owned by third-party service provider Dicom; IKEA products are not available for purchase at the collection point locations.

Giant Tiger Opens Quebec Store

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Anjou, QC. The 22,850-square-foot store will be stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

July 6, 2018

Home Hardware’s Davis Announces Retirement

Terry Davis, president and chief executive officer of Home Hardware Stores Limited, has announced that he will retire later this year. He will remain in his current role until a successor has been found and an orderly transition has occurred. The company has engaged an executive search firm to assist with identifying qualified candidates. Over the past several years, Davis has been instrumental in pushing forward a number of modernization efforts, including enhancing store branding, digitizing returns claims, and advancing eCommerce capabilities. He joined Home Hardware in 1970, starting as a junior warehouse employee in the distribution centre in St. Jacobs, ON. Over the years, he worked his way up through the company, taking on increasingly senior managerial and executive positions and was named chief executive officer in 2014.

Castle Gets Manitoba Member

Bucksaw Timber in Carman, MB, has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Bucksaw Timber provides building materials and a variety of household and pet products. Owners Anthony and Glynis Lemky bring more than 18 years of industry experience to the group. After starting their business in 2000, they experienced many years of continuous growth which included a move to the Haywood area for several years before coming to Carman in 2010. Since then, they have been cultivating their brand and now serve countless local contractors and provide products and services for several large community projects. “Castle provides members with an equal platform for success and puts all its resources into its membership,” says Anthony and Glynis. They are excited to take their business to the next level with greater buying power and an expanded product assortment in many categories.

Robertson Electric Re-opens Hamilton Branch

The Hamilton, ON, branch of Robertson Electric Wholesale has opened the doors to its new location at 80 Ditton Drive. The store is much larger than the previous location, with 30,000 square feet with more parking and truck access in the warehouse for company and vendor trucks. “The store is designed to get our electrical wholesale customers in and out,” says Adam Constable, operations manager. The location, which was the first branch expansion from the Oakville head office in 2011, serves Hamilton and the surrounding areas, including Oakville, Guelph, Simcoe, and Niagara. Robertson Electric has 11 locations across Canada.

CTC Completes Helly Hansen Acquisition

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has successfully closed the acquisition of the company which owns and operates the Helly Hansen brands and related businesses. Helly Hansen, based in Norway, is a global company that produces workwear and sportswear.

Gil Parent Promoted At FCL

Gil Parent has been promoted to category development manager - building materials at Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL). He has been with the company since 1987, most recently as category manager, building materials.

Canada Sales Strong For Richelieu

Richelieu had consolidated sales of $263.4 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 8.3 per cent compared to consolidated sales of $243.3 million in the second quarter of 2017. Canadian sales were $180.2 million, an increase of 10.1 per cent year-over-year, including 5.9 per cent of internal growth, reflecting increases of 11.7 per cent for manufacturers and 3.1 per cent for retailers and renovation superstores. In the U.S., sales were $64.7 million, an increase of 9.7 per cent, including a 137 per cent increase in the retailers and renovation superstore market. Company-wide EBITDA was $28.1 million, up 5.4 per cent over the year-ago period. Gross margin was 10.7 per cent, down over 11 per cent last year. Second-quarter net earnings of $18.2 million grew by 3.3 per cent.

July 5, 2018

Housing Affordability Slides Back

The little bit of housing affordability relief that Canadian homebuyers enjoyed in late 2017 slipped away in the first quarter of 2018, says the ‘Housing Trends and Affordability Report’ by RBC Economic Research. Toronto home prices fell again in the latest period and enough so to counter the impact of rising interest rates. Housing affordability therefore improved for the second-straight quarter in the area. Toronto was in fact one of only two markets tracked by RBC Economic Research that recorded a decline (Winnipeg, MB, was the other). While encouraging, the Toronto region still has a long way to go before homebuyers feel any meaningful relief, says the firm. Vancouver home ownership costs reached their highest levels on record in the first quarter of 2018 — considered by many to be at crisis levels. Besides the high interest rates that have impacted a number of cities across Canada, Vancouver has also faced a re-acceleration in home prices, causing further material deterioration to affordability. Elsewhere in Canada, rising interest rates caused affordability to erode modestly in the majority of markets. The quarterly increase in RBC's aggregate measure in Saskatoon, SK, Ottawa, ON, Halifax, NS, and St. John's, NL, was the largest in more than a year. Furthermore, Montreal, QC, faced a third-straight rise in its measure, reaching its highest point since 2011.

CPCA Granted Tariff Exemption

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) is pleased the Government of Canada granted its formal request for an exemption from the proposed countermeasure tariffs on U.S. goods coming into Canada as of July 1. In June, the federal government invited Canadian stakeholders to comment on a list of proposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. In a formal submission to the Department of Finance, CPCA noted the proposed tariff on imported U.S. steel drums and cans (proposed Tariff 7310.29) could be interpreted to include pails, cans, vats, and totes used by Canadian paint and coatings manufacturers. With no Canadian manufacturer of these pails and cans, particularly for architectural paint and aerosol sprays, Canadian-based manufacturers would face millions of dollars in higher input costs in relation to competing finished products imported from the U.S. The proposed countermeasure would have imposed tariffs on all Canadian paint and coatings manufacturing facilities, both Canadian and U.S.-owned, and further exacerbated current competitive and regulatory alignment challenges between our two countries.

Canadians Not Using Reward Points

Canadians who earn reward points on their credit card say points are “as good as cash,” yet most (64 per cent) don’t think of them as a financial asset and risk missing opportunities to save money and pay down debt, finds a report by CIBC. About half (49 per cent) admit they're aimlessly collecting points and 37 per cent say they rarely or never redeem their points. On average, cardholders are sitting on 48,800 points on their primary credit card – enough for a small home improvement project or a new BBQ or garden trimmer this summer, depending on the loyalty program. Moreover, when it comes to understanding the value of their points, the majority of reward cardholders (73 per cent) admit that they don't actually check or compare the retail cost of purchasing an item before redeeming points for it. Nor do they compare various redemption options to determine the best value for their points (71 per cent). Among those who use their rewards card as their primary credit card, two in five (38 per cent) claim they're saving up points for a big-ticket item or a dream vacation. Almost half (49 per cent) admit they're aimlessly collecting points to “see them pile up” or, at most, to occasionally window-shop the rewards catalogue for redemption options. Few (13 per cent) redeem points regularly for items they'd otherwise buy with cash.

AMVIC Employee Count Correction

The ‘Made In Canada’ company profile in the June 2018 issue of Home Improvement Retailing contained an error. The news item indicated AMVIC had 509 employees when, in fact, they have 50. Home Improvement Retailing apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this error. .

July 4, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Converts Etobicoke RONA

Lowe’s Canada has invested $3 million into its RONA store in Etobicoke, ON, and transformed it into the new RONA building centre model. This is the second RONA location in Ontario to go through such a transformation, following the renovation of RONA Markham, which was completed in May. By the end of 2018, some 10 stores across the country will be converted to the new store model. The store reflects modern property trends with open floor plans, brighter rooms, and outside spaces designed to become a natural extension of the interior. As a result, the store is brighter, less compartmentalized, and allows customers to have a 360-degree view of the retail area. In addition, seasonal products have been moved up near the entrance of the store to renew the shopping experience on a regular basis. Household appliances now have a prime location near the kitchen project section. The Etobicoke store is attached to a massive storage area that acts as a central delivery hub for stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Composed of a 130,000-square-foot warehousing area and a five-acre paved lumber yard, this hub can house large quantities of products in key contractor categories such as roofing, drywall, and insulation.

Taiga To Acquire Exterior Wood

Taiga Building Products Ltd. has entered an agreement to acquire Exterior Wood, Inc. Exterior Wood has been operating a wood treatment facility and distribution centre in Washougal, WA, since 1977, and services retail building supply centres throughout the western U.S. and Canada with a variety of pressure-treated products. The acquisition will expand Taiga's existing wood treatment operations to three facilities in Canada with additional penetration into the U.S. market. The transaction is expected to complete in July.

The Home Depot Outlines Sustainability Progress

In its 2018 responsibility report, the Home Depot says its stores have cut energy use 23.5 per cent since 2010, exceeding the company's goal to reduce consumption by 20 per cent by 2020. As part of its commitment to responsibility, the Home Depot has updated its parental leave policy so it gives six weeks of 100 per cent paid leave to all parents, plus an additional six weeks of 100 per cent paid maternity leave to all birth mothers. As well, the company has expanded its global wood-purchasing policy as part of its commitment to High Conservation Value Forests and tropical Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs). The company's updated policy will take effect on September 1 and will include requirements for the Amazon and Congo basins, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. In addition, the retailer has asked its suppliers to exclude additional chemicals from residential household cleaning chemical products sold online and in stores by the end of 2022.

Ehrlick Moves To CTDA

Mark Ehrlick is vice-president, dealer support, with the Canadian Tire Dealers Association (CTDA). Previously, he was district manager, Greater Toronto Area, with Sport Chek. He has 25 years of experience in a variety of senior roles in the retail industry.

Industrial Safety Gloves Market Shows Growth

The industrial safety gloves market size is estimated to exceed US$7.2 billion by 2024, says research by Global Market Insights, Inc. Increasing focus on worker wellbeing in the construction, chemical, healthcare, and food processing industries is escalating global industrial safety gloves market size during the forecast time. Occupational hazards, electric shocks, and chemical hazards are among the noticeable factors giving rise for protection measures from end-use. The report shows increasing construction industry growth is propelling requirement for worker protection measures. Regulations regarding worker safety will also foster growth. The natural rubber material segment is expected to witness more than 6.2 per cent growth up to 2024. Increasing demand for rubber protection for handling electrified components, wiring, and engineering tools requires insulating material for shock protection. The cut gloves market is anticipated to witness over 6.5 per cent compound annual growth rate up to 2024. Rising demand for arm protection gloves for handling sharp edge materials such as glass, metals, and abrasion are also driving product demand across industries.

July 3, 2018

Kitchen Renovation Offers Greatest ROI     

A kitchen renovation is the upgrade of choice with the potential to boost a property's value by more than 12.5 per cent, says a survey by Royal LePage. Tied in second place, a finished basement or a new bathroom has the potential to increase a property's value between 2.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, depending on the investment. Adding a pool or deck is considered the least worthwhile renovation to increase a property's value with pricing potential limited to a maximum of 2.5 per cent of the value of the home. As well, for Canadians looking for more general guidance on where to focus their home projects, the vast majority of surveyed experts recommended interior renovations (95 per cent) over exterior renovations (five per cent). The survey shows that prospective sellers are willing to invest less than 2.5 per cent of a property's value on home renovations prior to listing their home, which represents an investment of up to $15,138 on a property valued at $605,5122 - the current median home price in Canada. When asked which generation is the most likely to renovate their home, 45.1 per cent of experts say Baby Boomers, as many are planning to sell and downsize. They are also most likely to have the funds needed for a significant renovation.

Column Fridges On Trend

Manufacturers of kitchen appliances are coming out with sleek and seamless designs for column refrigerators in all manner of configurations, sizes, and finishes. They are also more energy efficient than standard refrigeration, says Vernon, BC-based Genier’s Appliances. The older trend of built-in kitchen appliances is becoming new again, as top appliance manufacturers release their latest lines of column refrigerators. First introduced around 15 years ago, column fridges are becoming more popular with consumers designing and installing custom kitchens. Instead of stand-alone units, the fridges are incorporated into the wall of the kitchen and are usually integrated with the cabinetry. The ability to flush-mount refrigeration in so many different sizes is what makes column fridges so popular. Manufacturers are also offering a range of finishes and colours. Jenn-Air appliances has even announced a line of Italian leather finishes for its luxury brand of column refrigerators.

Taiga Distributes Huber Products

Taiga Building Products now distributes Huber Engineered Woods OSB products. Based in North Carolina, Huber was founded in 1883 and is now a global company. Products Taiga will carry include AdvanTech Flooring, Zip Panels, Zip-R Panels (insulated OSB panels), and all related accessories.

Pier 1 To Close 25 North American Stores

Pier 1 Imports will close up to 25 North American stores in its 2019 fiscal year. The company says the closures will allow it to dedicate more resources to driving sales growth. Six of the initial closes will be in Quebec following disappointing sales, with the closures scheduled for August. Pier 1 has more than 65 locations in Canada.

BB&B Earnings Slide

Bed, Bath & Beyond had net earnings of $43.6 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2018 year. This compares to net earnings of $75.3 million in the first quarter of its fiscal 2017 year. Net sales for the quarter were $2.8 billion, an increase of approximately 0.4 per cent from the prior-year quarter. Comparable sales decreased roughly 0.6 per cent year-over-year. The company had strong sales growth from its customer-facing digital channels.

June 29, 2018

Fear Of Missing Out Drives Homebuyers

Canadian homebuyers are influenced by fear of missing out, perceived impact of foreign investor activity, and expectations of future price growth, says the ‘Housing Market Insight’ (HMI) report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). In both Vancouver, BC, and Toronto, ON, 48 per cent of homebuyers respectively spent more than they budgeted on their home purchase while only 24 per cent of homebuyers in Montréal, QC, exceeded their budget. The data suggests the ‘fear of missing out’ hypothesis could have an impact on buyers' budgets. About 55 per cent of buyers experienced a bidding war in Toronto and Vancouver, which is much larger than the 17 per cent recorded in Montréal. In Vancouver, 68 per cent of respondents believe foreign investors have a lot of influence in driving up home prices while 48 per cent of respondents in Toronto believe foreign investors have a lot of influence driving up home prices.

Global Decathlon Focuses On Sustainable Homes

After months of preparation, teams from all over the world will depart for Dezhou, China, on July 3 to participate in the ‘Solar Decathlon 2018’ competition, which brings together 21 teams from 11 countries and 43 universities. From July 11 to 29, the teams will build sustainable homes, which will be judged based on 10 criteria. The winner will be announced on August 17. “Our committed involvement to developing homes of the future, which are intelligent and adapted to a new market, is already bearing fruit. This is a unique opportunity to be on the front lines, to anticipate our clients' needs, and to be ready for what's coming next,” says Geneviève Fournier, vice-president – customers at Hydro-Québec Distribution, which is sponsoring TeamMTL. “The Solar Decathlon encompasses a broad range of important issues such as affordable housing, environmental and cultural sustainability, Chinese and Canadian cooperation, and the future of Quebec's energy and export industries,” says James Nicell, dean of the faculty of engineering at McGill University.

Unifor Launches 'I Shop Canada' Campaign

In support of workers and good paying jobs, private sector union Unifor has launched a national 'I Shop Canada' campaign to promote and increase the purchase of made-in-Canada products and services. The campaign is featured on social media platforms for consumers, workers, and companies to share information on made-in-Canada goods and services. Unifor says the online awareness campaign comes in response to the escalating trade war with the U.S. and a growing sentiment among Canadian consumers to support homegrown industries. “By choosing to shop Canada, you are investing in good paying jobs while also providing a boost to the economy,” says Jerry Dias national president at Unifor. “Together we can make a difference – one purchase at a time.”

Fire Protection Market Poised For Growth

The global fire protection materials market for construction was estimated at US$3.92 billion in 2016 and is forecast to reach $8.10 billion by 2025, says Grand View Research. Increasing use of fire protection materials for various types of constructions owing to the introduction of strict fire safety regulations and building codes is estimated to drive the market over the forecast period. In addition, increasing public awareness regarding fire safety of residences and workplaces is likely to propel the market. North America follows strict building codes, making the region a major consumer of fire protection materials. Awareness among people and high disposable income will help North America retain its dominance throughout the forecast period. The high price of fire protection materials due to the use of expensive raw materials in the products is acting as a restraint in this market. Moreover, extensive research and development heightens the selling cost of the final product. Sealant is expected to dominate the market over the forecast period while putty will increase due to increased construction activity in North America and Asia Pacific.

June 28, 2018

Retail Sales Take A Dive

Total retail sales increased only 2.6 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending April, the slowest three-month growth since mid-2015, says Ed Strapagiel, retail consultant. He adds that all major retail sectors and most retail store types are suffering the same fate. The deteriorating trend started last December, and the underlying 12-month trend has now turned downward and is on track to weaken further in the next few months. After enjoying rising trends for much of last year, the store merchandise sector has come back down to earth, he says. Year-over-year retail sales were up 3.4 per cent. Electronics and appliance stores and miscellaneous store retailers still managed to increase retail sales by 10.1 per cent each, year-over-year. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 12.3 per cent year-over-year for the three-months ending April, but this is less than half the 28.8 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. While eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digit territory, it appears that their growth may be slowing down.

CFIB Fights For Fair Small Business Tax Rates

Canada's provincial and territorial finance ministers must break away from the federal government's example in order to support small business, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The organization believes the new passive investment tax rules implemented at the federal level unfairly punish small business owners and create an environment that discourages growth. The 2018 federal budget included new rules that will shut out some small businesses from accessing the small business tax rate if they have more than a certain amount of pre-existing passive investments, taxing them like big businesses. If provinces choose to implement similar rules, small businesses will pay thousands of dollars more in provincial taxes next year on top of higher federal taxes. Only Ontario and Prince Edward Island have indicated they would follow the federal government's lead on passive investment rules. CFIB is calling on the newly elected Ontario government to revisit that decision before it goes into effect in 2019.

eBay Canada Launches Price Guarantee Program

eBay Canada launched the ‘Best Price Guarantee’ program, offering shoppers 110 per cent of the price difference on items found for less on an approved competitor's website. The program improves on eBay's current price match offering and runs site-wide through the month of July on Canadian items. Users who find an eligible item available for less on an approved competitor's website can contact customer service within 48 hours of their purchase on eBay.ca to be issued an eBay coupon for 110 per cent of the difference, upon confirmation by the eBay team.

Nova Scotians Eligible For Solar Rebates

The governments of Canada and Nova Scotia together have launched the SolarHomes program, which will provide rebates for residents of Nova Scotia to reduce the costs of solar-electricity systems for their homes. Through the government of Canada's Low Carbon Economy Fund, Nova Scotia is eligible to receive $56 million for programs that generate clean growth and reduce carbon pollution. A portion of that funding will support the SolarHomes program. The program will provide rebates of up to 30 per cent off the purchase and installation costs of rooftop solar-electricity systems. The program is expected to make solar power more affordable and accessible for at least 2,000 Nova Scotian households over the next four years, and participants in the program will save an average of $1,300 per year in energy costs. Nova Scotia is investing $74.9 million toward programs that help increase renewable-energy use and make homes more energy efficient.

ROCKWOOL Breaks Ground On WV Facility

ROCKWOOL (North America) broke ground on its second stone wool insulation manufacturing facility in the Ranson, WV. The 460,000-square-foot facility represents an investment exceeding US$150 million and will employ around 150 people in positions ranging from management to the production line. The facility, which sits on a 130-acre site, will manufacture a full lineup of ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation products.

Pratt Head Of National Plumbing Sales

Lisa Pratt is national sales manager for the wholesale plumbing division of Spectrum Brands Inc. With more than 20 years of experience in sales and leadership in the wholesale plumbing industry, she joins the company from Wolseley Canada, where she was the national sales manager for private label.

June 27, 2018

Report Compares Ontario, BC Housing

Single-detached houses dominate the Ontario housing market, accounting for almost two-thirds of residential properties in the province. In British Columbia, in turn, the proportion of this property type is less than half, says the ‘Canadian Housing Statistics Program’(CHSP), a comparison of housing between British Columbia and Ontario produced by Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The overall mix of residential property types differs significantly in British Columbia and Ontario. Single-detached houses account for 44.1 per cent of the close to 1.7 million residential properties in British Columbia compared to 64.2 per cent of the close to 4.8 million residential properties in Ontario. Conversely, the proportion of condominium apartments is nearly twice as high in British Columbia as in Ontario (close to 20 per cent versus 10 per cent), while the share of properties with multiple residential units in British Columbia is nearly three times (10.1 per cent) the proportion in Ontario (3.3 per cent).

Home Hardware Wins Fleet Safety Award

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been awarded the ‘Large Fleet Safety Award’ at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s (PMTC) annual conference. This marks the eighth time that its fleet has received this honour. The fleet is based in the company’s four distribution centres in St. Jacobs and Elmira, ON, Debert, NS, and Wetaskiwin, AB. Employing 157 fleet-related professionals, it operates 141 trucks and averages 17.7 million kilometers a year. The awards program was created by the PMTC to encourage improved road safety for the general public and promote best practices in private fleet safety management. The awards recognize the private truck fleets that are committed to safety improvement, especially those that exceed National Safety Code requirements.

Torontonians Have Most Contractor Issues

Toronto, ON, is the city where people encounter the most problems with renovation contractors in Canada, finds a survey by Reno-Assistance. Homeowners in Toronto also have the most difficulty finding a trustworthy renovation contractor in Canada, with 78 per cent finding it difficult and 25 per cent finding it very difficult. Torontonians also have a higher probability of encountering more than one major problem with a contractor on a single project – such as stolen deposits, poor finishing, sloppy work, or theft. Despite Torontonians making more verifications than the rest of the country on their contractors, the fact remains that too few make the necessary verifications. More than two-thirds of respondents do not verify that the company they are working with legally exists, has proper insurance, a valid licence, a clean legal history, no criminal record, and more. More than 80 per cent of people do not make any verification whatsoever regarding the financial health of their contractor before entrusting them with projects sometimes worth tens of thousands of dollars.

mPOS Use To Increase Threefold

Adoption of mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) devices connecting wirelessly or via mobile devices will drive annual mPOS transactions to more than 87 billion by 2023, says data from Juniper Research. This will represent a threefold increase over an estimated 28 billion transactions in 2018. The average price of an mPOS device will drop from $40 in 2018 to approximately $33 by 2023. This affordability, coupled with the simplicity of the devices, will make them highly attractive to smaller, previously cash-driven businesses. The research also forecasts that biometrics will become an increasingly common part of mPOS offerings. It cited national identity schemes using biometrics as a mechanism for card-free authentication, giving merchants the opportunity to avoid card network charges. This will drive biometric-enabled mPOS devices to reach almost two million globally by 2023, just under four per cent of total mPOS terminals in use by then.

June 26, 2018

U.S. Home Sales Increase More Than Expected

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes increased more than expected in May as sales in the south surged to their highest level in nearly 11 years, says the Commerce Department. New home sales jumped 6.7 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 689,000 units last month, the highest level since November 2017. April's sales pace was revised down to 646,000 units from the previously reported 662,000 units. Sales in the south, which accounts for the bulk of transactions, rebounded 17.9 per cent to a rate of 409,000 units in May, the highest level since July 2007. The increase ended two straight months of declines. Sales tumbled 10 per cent in the northeast and dropped 8.7 per cent in the west. They were unchanged in the midwest. New home sale permits increased 14.1 per cent from a year ago. The department says new home sales are getting a boost from an inventory crunch in the market for previously owned houses.

Castle Announces Member-store Milestones

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. member Wolf Creek Building Supplies, in Morinville, AB, celebrated its grand opening. Wolf Creek also has locations in Lacombe and Sylvan Lake, AB. Rivest et Fils celebrated the fourth anniversary of its St-Charles Borromée, QC, location. The company also has a location in Saint-Félix-de-Valois, QC. John-Rogers Hardware, in Baie Verte, NL, celebrated its grand opening in the town in White Bay on the northeast coast of the province. The retailer plans to grow the building supply area of its business to be the dominant player in Baie Verte. Van Dolder's Home Team celebrated the grand opening of its Collingwood, ON, store. The business has another location in Owen Sound, ON. Burnstown Building Supplies in Ottawa Valley, ON, is now open to the public. The grand opening celebrations for Burnstown will take place August 2.

Ford Cancels GreenON Program

Doug Ford, the incoming PC premier of Ontario, has canceled the GreenON program that provided rebates and incentives for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. Ford, who will become premier on June 29, has also announced plans to end Ontario’s cap-and-trade program which funded the GreenON program and other initiatives. This means Ontario homeowners will no longer have access to rebates for a number of improvements from free smart thermostats to new windows, insulation, and more. It also cancels several commercial initiatives including ‘The GreenON Challenge.’ The GreenON website says it will honour rebates for homeowners that have signed a work agreement with a participating contractor for work that will be completed by the end of August 2018 and for applications submitted by September 30.

Home Hardware Holds Annual Golf Tournament For Charity

Approximately 600 Home Hardware dealer-owners, staff, suppliers, and friends teed up for charity June 19 at Home Hardware’s ‘Annual Charity Golf Tournament’ in support of KW Counselling Services. Golfers hit the links at Elmira Golf Club, Whistle Bear Golf Club, Grey Silo Golf Club, and Rebel Creek Golf Club and attended a dinner at Bingemans Conference Centre with a silent auction of over 80 items donated by Home Hardware and its suppliers and partners. Last year, nearly $62,000 was raised from the tournament and silent auction in support of Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington. In the past 20 years, the tournament has raised nearly $630,000 for various local charities.

Snell Becoming GM

Anthony Snell is general manager of Coast Distributors (Nanaimo) Ltd., effective July 9. He joined Coast three years ago, but brings many years of experience to the role. Snell succeeds Brad McCluskie, owner and general manager. Once Snell takes the position, McCluskie will manage the growth of the company and build its brand.

RCC To Discuss Cannabis In Retail

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is holding its first-ever conference focused on providing retailers with deeper clarity on the cannabis legislation in Canada and how these policies and opportunities will affect them. The ‘RCC Cannabis in Retail Forum’ takes place September 21 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit RCC Cannabis in Retail Forum

June 25, 2018

Retail Sales Drop In April

Following three consecutive monthly increases, retail sales in April declined 1.2 per cent to $49.5 billion, says Statistics Canada. The decrease was primarily due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Inclement weather in many parts of Canada may have contributed to the overall decline in April. Sales were down in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 65 per cent of retail trade. Removing the effect of price changes, retail sales in volume terms declined 1.4 per cent. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (3.3 per cent) reported a decrease in sales for the fifth time in six months. Six provinces reported lower sales in April, with the overall decline concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Sales increased in British Columbia (1.1 per cent) for the third consecutive month. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totalled $1.3 billion, representing 2.7 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 8.8 per cent while total unadjusted retail sales increased 0.8 per cent.

Castle Holds Cross-country Buying Expos

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. members from across Canada joined Castle vendor partners in various regions for the Castle Buying Expo. The expos included a Castle 360 educational session, a full day of buying, and some buying deals in the pallet buy areas. The Quebec Expo was held in the Laurentian town of Saint Sauveur, QC, where members from the Quebec and northern New Brunswick regions gathered for the second annual event. The Western Expo was held in Saskatoon, SK, and welcomed members from Manitoba to British Columbia. The Central Expo welcomed members from Ontario at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, ON for two days of buying and an afternoon of golf and adventure.

CFIB Lauds Montreal For Construction Compensation

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has recognized Montreal, QC, for being the first municipality in Canada to compensate small businesses severely impacted by construction. Infrastructure projects can spell closure for small businesses in their path and this policy is a promising first step to help them stay in business. The organization recently released a report, ‘Paving a Smoother Road: Helping small businesses survive infrastructure work,’ which shows that since 2012, as many as 65,000 businesses have been seriously affected by infrastructure projects. CFIB also issued a challenge to municipalities to compensate small businesses and adopt a coherent construction mitigation policy that includes a ‘no surprise’ rule, a comprehensive planning approach, an improved contracting process, and a business liaison officer for each project.

Painting Increases Home Value

Home Hardware Stores Limited ran an experiment that raised the value of a Hamilton, ON, house by $110,000 just by giving it a coat of paint. As part of the latest campaign for its Beauti-Tone division, the retailer was trying to prove that painting a home is the best investment a homeowner can make. They had a realtor appraise the house. Then they painted it top to bottom, and inside and out. Then a realtor who had never seen the home before came to evaluate it and give an appraisal. That appraisal was $110,000 more than the original. Snippets of the experiment will appear on TV and pre-roll during Beauti-Tone’s paint event. Home Hardware created the experiment with its creative agency, john st.

Think3 Acquires MyAlerts

Think3 has acquired MyAlerts Inc., an eCommerce marketing platform used by retail and consumer sites to capture purchase intent and convert browsers into buyers. Sites, including Home Depot, JCPenney, Target, and Cars.com, utilize MyAlerts to offer consumers automated alerts such as back-in-stock to registry and price alerts. As part of the Think3 portfolio, MyAlerts will become a key component of the Think3 Prime program.

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

June 15, 2018

Customer Satisfaction Results In Loyalty

Customer satisfaction is hard earned, but results in loyalty, finds the ‘J.D. Power 2018 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study.’ It finds that customers tend to have a ‘two-minute warning,’ which means from the time they enter the store, they expect to receive assistance from a store employee within two minutes; otherwise, satisfaction begins to decline. Overall satisfaction declines significantly when a customer waits more than two minutes to have their question answered, compared with waiting less than two minutes. And customer satisfaction will drive loyalty, says the study. Among delighted customers that have had a great experience, 80 per cent say they “will definitely” repurchase from the retailer, compared with the study average of 48 per cent. Additionally, 83 per cent of delighted home improvement retailer customers say they “definitely will” recommend the retailer to others, compared with the study average of 49 per cent. Among delighted customers, the average number of positive recommendations is four, compared with the study average of 2.6.

May U.S. Retail Sales Climb

May retail sales in the U.S. increased 0.7 per cent seasonally adjusted over April and 5.6 per cent unadjusted year-over-year as a growing economy prompted consumers to continue to spend, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The three-month moving average was up 4.6 per cent over the same period a year ago, topping NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent over 2017. The May results build on improvement seen in April, which was up 0.5 per cent monthly and 2.8 per cent year-over-year. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.3 per cent year-over-year and up 2.4 per cent from April seasonally adjusted.

Taiga Supports Atlantic Canada

Taiga Building Products has made a donation of $10,000 to the Red Cross in support of Atlantic provinces that have experienced severe flooding in recent months. Taiga has three branches in this region (Halifax, NS, Moncton, NB, and Paradise, NL) and these floods affect not only the physical community, but many people within it – customers, partners, staff, and families, the company says. Since these natural disasters do occur from time to time and can cripple communities, Taiga made the donation to support the communities and people.

PowerHouse Launches Two Insulation Products

LBM manufacturer PowerHouse Products Inc. has launched two insulation products. One is a CCMC-approved exterior rigid mineral wool insulation for the Canadian marketplace. PowerWool Rigiboard One was designed in response to the need for a more rigid product that is suitable for exterior cladding applications and the problem of long delays in sourcing material. “We’ve launched a product that should help address both these issues,” says Scott Emo, sales manager at PowerHouse. The other product is Vertibreak Rainscreen Insulation. This ‘rainscreen insulation’ was developed to help meet Canada’s emerging insulation code requirements. Previously, a major drawback to exterior rigid foam was the inability for drainage when exposed to exterior water sources such as rain. Vertibreak was designed to both insulate and provide a code-conforming rainscreen/capillary break to promote drainage and drying. With this product, “the contractor doesn’t have to add wood furring strips over the product to create a rainscreen,” says Emo. Vancouver, BC-based PowerHouse Products is affiliated with wholesale LBM distributor PowerHouse Building Solutions Inc.

Cook’s Home Hardware Customer Wins Toyota Pickup

Phil Thebeau of Salisbury West, NB, is the winner of a 2018 Toyota Tundra Pickup from Cook’s Home Hardware Building Centre. Thebeau was selected from the ‘Pro Contractor Toyota Tundra Sweepstakes’ contest held at the ‘Moncton Home Hardware Pro Show’ in March. As part of the show, pro contractors had the opportunity to visit the Toyota booth to fill out a ballot for the chance to win the grand prize. The contractor series stops in six cities across Canada, providing attendees the opportunity to network with peers, learn about new products and trends, meet industry experts, and receive hands-on demonstrations.

Mentrup To Lead KYOCERA SENCO

Clifford Mentrup is president and chief executive officer of KYOCERA SENCO Industrial Tools, Inc., effective July. He has been with the company since 2000, most recently as chief operating officer. He succeeds Ben Johansen, who is retiring.

RH Has Record First Quarter

RH had adjusted net income of $33.5 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase over adjusted net income of $1.8 million in the first quarter of 2017. This is up more than three times the company’s previous record in the first quarter of fiscal 2015. Adjusted operating margins were 9.6 per cent in the quarter versus 1.5 per cent last year, more than double the previous first quarter record of 4.4 per cent in 2015. Revenues were $557 million, a decrease of 0.8 per cent year-over-year.

June 14, 2018

Committee Focuses On Bricks-and-mortar Businesses

Construction, taxation, and administration are three areas that need to be addressed to revitalize bricks-and-mortar retail businesses in Montreal, QC, says a report by Desjardin Group. Valerie Plant, the mayor of Montreal, requested Guy Cormier, who tabled the report, to head up an advisory committee to focus on improving the reality of Montreal businesses. The committee came up with 23 recommendations which include improving how construction projects are managed and compensating the merchants they impact; better balancing taxes; having the city streamline its administrative processes; keeping pace with the digital revolution; improving the consumer experience; and positioning Montreal as a top shopping destination.

Laurentian Store Joins Home Hardware

Riopel Centre de renovation in Sainte-Adèle, QC, has converted to the Home Hardware Building Centre banner. Dealer-owner Jules Riopel started the company in 1976, transferring the ownership to his two sons, François and Martin in 2006. The family chose the new banner to be able to offer customers a greater selection of products. Riopel will now offer the full range of over 55,000 Home Hardware products with the addition of a building centre. The store will continue to offer contractor services and will soon offer touchscreens and a transactional website to its customers. Riopel is the first Home Hardware Building Centre store in the Laurentians.

Stanley B&D Invests In Charging Technology

Stanley Black & Decker is partnering with wireless charging technology company Humavox. The partnership will enable the Israel-based Humavox to bring wireless charging to a broad array of products and technologies, while enabling efficient and uninterrupted usage of battery power. As part of this strategic partnership, Stanley Black & Decker is the lead investor in Humavox’s current funding round. The collaboration is led by Stanley Ventures, a division of Stanley Black & Decker. Humavox’s 3D charging technology can turn everyday objects into ‘hidden chargers,’ including anything from car cup holders to gym bags. The company's technology uses near-field radio frequency (RF) charging to transform any ‘storage instrument/device/object’ into a charger so that users can keep using their portable electronics fully powered. Called ETERNA, the wireless charging technology is a flexible platform comprising proprietary semiconductor devices (chipsets), state of the art algorithms, and high compatibility with off the shelf components that features a receiving chip that is small enough to fit into the tiniest device.

CanWel Completes U.S. Treating Plant Acquisition

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd.’s wholly owned subsidiary CanWel Building Materials Ltd. has acquired the lumber pressure treating plant and related equipment and business formerly owned by Superior Forest Products, Inc. and affiliates. The plant is located in Oregon and is under construction and expected to be operational towards the end of 2018. The company says the plant complements its California and Hawaii operations, expanding its footprint into the Oregon and Washington markets, and supports its strategy of adding scale and volume to its west coast pressure treated lumber and specialty wood products markets.

Griffon Completes CornellCookson Acquisition

Griffon Corporation’s subsidiary, Clopay Building Products Company, Inc., has completed the acquisition of CornellCookson, Inc. CornellCookson is a manufacturer and marketer of rolling steel door and grille products designed for commercial, industrial, institutional, and retail use. The acquisition was completed under the terms of the purchase agreement previously announced in May.

Dodic Joins Payments Canada

Peter Dodic is chief risk officer with Payments Canada. Previously, he held the position of managing director, operational risk management, at BMO Financial Group.

June 13, 2018

Payment Systems To Drive Online Spending

Consumer spend on digital commerce will reach $14.7 trillion by 2022, up by 60 per cent on spend of $9.2 trillion in 2017, says a study from Juniper Research. The research finds that with retailers increasingly offering localized payment mechanisms and friction at checkout reduced by stored credentials, migration from offline to online is likely to accelerate. Furthermore, it highlighted moves by traditional ‘bricks-and-mortar’ retailers to develop omnichannel strategies as they seek to shore up revenues by using mobile apps both for online purchases and to drive instore footfall. The study shows that money transfer will be a key growth area, bolstered by the rapid expansion and adoption of social payments with companies such as PayPal’s Venmo and Xoom and Facebook. Blockchain will also have an impact within the digital commerce ecosystem. Blockchain will enable increased standardization for payment processing; substantially reduce the risk of error and the time taken for error checking; resulting in faster, more secure, and less costly processes. This, in turn, would allow money transfer companies to become more competitive and reduce fees to end users.

Knauf, USG Reach Agreement

Gebr. Knauf KG and USG Corporation have entered into an agreement where Knauf will acquire all of the outstanding shares of USG. The transaction has been unanimously approved by USG’s board of directors. Berkshire Hathaway, which owns 31 per cent of USG shares, has agreed to vote in favour of the transaction. The combined company will result in a global building materials company that will maximize Knauf and USG’s highly complementary businesses, products, and global footprint to better meet the needs of both companies’ end-market customers. Following the close of the transaction, USG will continue to be managed in the U.S. with facilities across North America.

Armstrong World Industries Acquires Plasterform, Inc.

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. has acquired the business and assets of Plasterform, Inc., a 31-year manufacturer of custom architectural cast ceilings, walls, facades, columns, and mouldings, located in Mississauga, ON. Plasterform products are made of glass-reinforced gypsum, concrete, and polyester resin and will continue to be sold in Canada, the U.S., and Latin America, now as part of the Armstrong Architectural Specialties custom portfolio. The acquisition enhances Armstrong’s interior accent capabilities and further supports the company's growth strategy of selling into more spaces and selling more into every space. It will serve existing and future Plasterform customers out of the Mississauga facility and through current distribution channels.

Pien Joins LIXIL Americas

Katty Pien is chief marketing officer of LIXIL Americas, the division under which kitchen and bath brands American Standard, DXV, and GROHE operate. She brings more than 20 years of global marketing experience to the role, most recently as vice-president of global marketing and research and development for Edgewell Personal Care.

June 12, 2018

Retail ‘Shrink’ Shrinks Over Last Year

Thefts, fraud, and losses from other retail ‘shrink’ in the U.S. decreased to $46.8 billion in 2017 from $48.9 billion the year before while shoplifting and organized retail crime continued to be the leading causes, says the annual ‘National Retail Security Survey’ by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida. Shrink averaged 1.33 per cent of sales, down from 1.44 per cent the year before. Forty-one per cent of respondents said shrink was growing, down from 49 per cent a year ago. Shoplifting and organized retail crime were the most frequent causes, accounting for 36 per cent of losses, followed by internal employee theft (33 per cent), administrative paperwork errors (19 per cent), and vendor fraud or mistake (six per cent). For the first time in the survey, retailers were asked about their role in combating cybercrime. Two-thirds of loss prevention executives said they meet at least quarterly with IT/cybersecurity counterparts to discuss potential threats and 86 per cent said their companies have a cybersecurity incident response plan in place.

Structural Plywood, OSB Exempt From Ruling

Composite wood products must now meet federal formaldehyde emissions regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The regulation defines composite wood products as particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), and hardwood (decorative) plywood. These products are required to be certified as compliant with the regulation, which intends to ensure that all domestic and imported composite wood panels, and the finished products containing them, meet the world’s most stringent standards for formaldehyde emissions. Structural engineered wood products manufactured for construction applications, such as structural plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), wood I-joists, laminated veneer lumber, and glued-laminated timber, are exempt from the regulation. These products are manufactured using low emitting, moisture-resistant adhesives, per the strict product standards and building codes that govern them. As a quick reference for suppliers and builders, structural engineered wood products marked with the ‘APA Mark of Quality’ are exempt from the regulation because the APA Mark is only used on structural engineered wood products.

RONA Dealer Walking To Fight ALS

On June 16, Jake den Hollander, general manager, operations at the affiliate RONA dealer Doidge Building Centres in Ontario, will take part in the annual ‘Durham Region WALK FOR ALS’ with his family to raise funds for the ALS Society of Canada. den Hollander and his team, Smit’s Dragonflyers – named in honour of his father-in-law, Gerrit Smit, who passed away nine years ago after battling ALS – have been taking part in the ‘WALK FOR ALS’ since 2009. They have raised a total of $75,000 since then. This year, to mark their 10th ‘walk-o-thon,’ 17 adults and six children will be part of the team and will walk together. Their goal is to raise $25,000 and hit the $100,000 mark. For more information, visit Smit’s Dragonflyers

Generac Closes Selmec Acquisition

Generac Holdings Inc., a global designer and manufacturer of generators and other engine powered products, has completed its acquisition of Mexico-based Selmec Equipos Industriales, S.A. de C.V. Selmec is a designer and manufacturer of industrial generators from 10 kW to 2,750 kW and other electric systems. The agreement includes the power generator product and after-sale support services of the business.

Energizer, Spectrum File For Merger Review

Energizer Holdings, Inc. and Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. intend to file for merger review with the European Commission regarding Energizer’s proposed acquisition of Spectrum Brands' battery and portable lighting business. Both companies are working with the commission and other regulators around the world, to obtain the necessary approvals to complete the transaction. Both parties continue to expect the transaction to close in the second half of calendar 2018.

Odom Has New Role

Phil Odom is business director for structural products with forest products company Roseburg. He joined the company from BlueLinx Corporation in January as business manager for plywood and lumber. Kevin Smith is sales manager, plywood and lumber. Gary Hayes is business manager, distribution. Blake Keitzman is sales lead, plywood and lumber.

June 11, 2018

May Housing Starts Dip

The trend in housing starts was 216,362 units in May, compared to 225,481 units in April, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The decline followed several months of stability, which reflects a decline in multi-unit urban starts in May that leaves them close to their 10-year average following several months of historically elevated levels. An elevated pace of new home construction continued in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) while metro Victoria, BC, had an uptick in condo construction. Housing starts trended lower in May in Toronto, ON, primarily driven by lower trending apartment and townhome starts.

RONA Hope Opens New Store

Lowe’s Canada celebrated the grand opening of a RONA affiliate store in Hope, BC. The 7,500-square-foot and drive-through lumber yard is owned by RONA affiliate dealer Fraser Valley Building Supplies (FVBS). The store was relocated to a larger building to provide local customers an enhanced product selection. The store offers 15,000 products including a wide selection of lumber and building materials and services such as online shopping with click-and-collect or parcel delivery options and the RONAdvantage program.

IKEA To Eliminate Single-use Plastics

IKEA will eliminate all single-use plastic products from its home furnishing range globally by 2020. This includes straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, garbage bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups. The company will also phase out single-use plastic items offered in customer and co-worker restaurants, bistros, and cafes by the end of 2019 across its 29 retail markets including all IKEA Canada locations. Single-use plastic items pollute ecosystems such as oceans and waterways, and harm wildlife if not disposed of responsibly. To drastically reduce plastic pollution, policymakers, businesses, and consumers, must all work together to contribute to the change. IKEA says it is determined to play a part and take responsibility in the areas where it can make a difference. It has also implemented sustainability initiatives in product development, materials sourcing, supply chain, and logistics.

Flexiti Acquires TDFS Portfolio

Point-of-sale provider Flexiti has acquired TD Financing Services' (TDFS) Canadian private label credit card portfolio. This is a transaction in the consumer lending space, making Flexiti stronger in the private label credit card issuer space. The acquisition adds more than one million new credit card customers and 900 new merchant locations currently offering TDFS credit card financing at their locations to Flexiti's client base.

Kohltech Named Best Managed

Kohltech Windows & Entrance Systems received a ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’ designation for 2018. The winners were recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth. They have to be Canadian-owned and managed with revenues over $15 million and demonstrating strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth.

IoT Events Takes Over Dx3

Toronto, ON-based IoT Events is the new home of the Canadian Dx3, an annual digital marketing and retail event. After seven years, the team at Dx3 hopes to be introduced to some fresh ideas, new energy, direction, and passion, says Duncan Payne, chief executive officer. “We have been searching for the right company that shares our passion for Canada’s digital future and has the same values and commitment to this community. We are delighted to have found such a partner.” He says the changeover will not compromise Dx3’s customer service or event delivery.

Michel To Lead JELD-WEN

Gary S. Michel has been selected as president and chief executive officer of JELD-WEN Holding, Inc., effective June 18. He joins the company from Honeywell’s Home and Building Technologies strategic business group. Kirk S. Hachigian, chairman of the board of directors and acting chief executive officer, will continue to serve as chairman.

June 8, 2018

Small Increase In Montreal Residential Sales

A total of 5,303 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in May, a one per cent increase compared to May of 2017, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the 39th consecutive increase in residential sales in the Montréal area. Geographically, the South Shore led the way with a 12 per cent jump in sales. This was followed by Laval, where the number of transactions rose by four per cent. On the North Shore (zero per cent), on the Island of Montreal (-1 per cent), and in Vaudreuil-Soulanges (-1 per cent) sales levels were similar to those registered in May of last year. The only area to post a significant decrease in sales was that of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, at -28 per cent. Once again, condominiums set the tone for the market as the number of transactions increased by 14 per cent. Plexes also performed well, as sales rose by four per cent compared to May of last year. Sales of single-family homes decreased six per cent. The median price of single-family homes across the Montreal CMA stood at $325,000 in May, up three per cent year-over-year.

May Dodge Momentum Index Inches Up

The Dodge Momentum Index eked out a small gain in May, moving 1.8 per cent higher to 167.8 from the revised April reading of 164.9. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. May’s gain was the result of a 4.7 per cent increase by the commercial component of the index, while the institutional component fell 2.4 per cent. The index has posted solid gains through the first five months of 2018, rising 19 per cent from the same period of 2017 and reaching a level not seen since mid-2008. However, the upturn to this point shows that the current expansion has been more drawn out than what occurred during the previous cyclical expansion.

Western Entrepreneurs With Disabilities Get Support

Western Economic Diversification Canada's ‘Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program,’ a government of Canada initiative, is teaming up with organizations who are actively working to remove barriers faced by western Canadians with disabilities. This includes assisting entrepreneurs with disabilities in reaching their full business potential. The program provides access to a network of professionals who provide business information, training and development, mentoring, and one-on-one counseling services. It was launched during ‘National AccessAbility Week’ as part of the government’s commitment to providing all Canadians an equal opportunity to contribute to, and prosper from, a strong and growing economy. For more information, visit WEDC

Giant Tiger Opens Rouyn-Noranda Store

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Rouyn-Noranda, QC. The 21,000-square-foot store will be stocked with home and family fashions, groceries, and everyday necessities.

FCL Makes Moves

Patrick Smith is vice-president, retail operations, with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). He was previously associate vice-president retail operations, a position he has held since 2013. He succeeds Gerard Muyres, who has retired. Ron Healey is vice-president, ag and consumer business, effective July 3. He has been with the company since 2012, most recently as associate vice-president, ag and home. He succeeds Brad Bauml, who is also retiring.

First Quarter Sales Rise At Dollarama

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $756.1 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 7.3 per cent over sales of $704.9 million in the first quarter of 2017. Comparable store sales grew 2.6 per cent for the quarter, over and above 4.6 per cent growth the previous year. Gross margin was unchanged at 37.6 per cent of sales. The company had EBITDA of $170.2 million, up 9.2 per cent on EBITDA of $155.8 in the year-ago period. EBITDA was 22.5 per cent of sales versus 22.1 per cent. Net earnings increased to $101.6 million compared to $94.7 million a year ago.

June 7, 2018

Building Value Declines

Municipalities issued $7.8 billion worth of building permits in April, down 4.6 per cent from March, say Statistics Canada. Declines were reported in every component except commercial buildings. In the residential sector, the value of permits issued by municipalities fell 4.3 per cent to $5.1 billion in April. Five provinces posted declines led by British Columbia. In the multi-family dwelling component, municipalities issued $2.7 billion worth of building permits in April, down 5.2 per cent from March. Four provinces contributed to the drop, with British Columbia and Alberta recording the largest decreases. The value of single-family permits fell 3.3 per cent to $2.3 billion, a fourth consecutive monthly decline. Eight provinces registered declines, led by Ontario and British Columbia. Conversely, Alberta recorded the largest gain, up $46 million from March. Municipalities approved the construction of 19,372 new dwellings in April, up 3.6 per cent from the previous month. The value of industrial permits fell 22.6 per cent in April to $510 million. The decline stemmed from lower construction intentions for agricultural buildings, utilities buildings, and transportation terminals.

Masonite Acquires Assa Abloy Wood Door Division

Masonite International Corporation has completed the acquisition of the operating assets of the wood door companies of AADG, Inc., part of ASSA ABLOY, which includes the brands Graham Manufacturing Corporation and the Maiman Company. Graham provides the non-residential construction industry with a full range of architectural premium and custom-grade flush wood doors. Maiman is a manufacturer of architectural stile and rail wood doors, thermal fused flush wood doors, and wood door frames. The acquisition of these assets marks Masonite’s ninth acquisition in the last four years.

Retailers Need To Address Consumer Values

Retailers need to address the shift in consumer values and try to see where things are heading, says Chris Ross, research director at Gartner. Speaking on the topic of success through marketing at the ‘Gartner Digital Marketing Conference,’ he said due to polarization in government and big corporate culture, consumers are seeking serenity, security, and inclusion. “Consider how your brand could be addressing these shifts in values. Do you have a narrative about how your product or service can make people’s lives more serene, safe, and secure? Are you doing anything to advance the culture?” He added that small, local businesses already have an edge, as Gartner Iconoculture data shows that consumers overwhelmingly trust their local businesses (93 per cent) and small businesses (90 per cent). However, a marketing narrative has to be backed by products, services, and customer experiences that are consistent with brand positioning.

Steady Growth For Weather Resistant Barriers Through 2020

Total demand for weather resistant barriers in North America was valued at $4 billion in 2017 and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5 per cent through 2020 to reach almost $4.4 billion, says a report by Principia Consulting. Residential construction, led by roofing applications, accounts for the majority of market demand. For the residential market, although housewrap remains the dominant material for wall applications, other materials have made inroads. In roof applications, synthetic roofing underlayment has increased its share of the market significantly since 2010. The primary channel to market varies significantly depending on whether the application is for roof or wall. For roofing underlayment, one‐step distribution is the primary method with more than 50 per cent market share. Traditional distributors with a focus on roofing and siding products generally account for most of one‐step distribution sales of weather resistant barriers.

June 6, 2018

Castle Launching New Website

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. will launch its new website – Castle.ca – next week. The fully functional online tool will be accessible from desktop computers or handheld devices. The platform will be fully responsive and include product search, store locator, resource centre, learning tools, and more. The site is part of the buying group’s commitment to creating an online presence that is poised to service all Castle stakeholders including shareholders, vendor partners, contractors, and end-user customers. The company has also updated its social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Lowe's Canada Offers Paymi Cashback Program

Lowe's Canada has partnered with card-linked shopper marketing program Paymi so that customers of its Lowe’s banner across Canada who are also part of the Paymi program can now benefit from personalized cash back and loyalty rewards when making purchases instore or on the company’s website.

GMS Acquires WSB Titan

GMS Inc., a North American distributor of wallboard and other building supplies, has acquired WSB Titan from TorQuest Partners, a Canadian-based manager of private equity funds. GMS says the acquisition further strengthens its position as one of the largest wallboard distributors in North America with more than 240 branches throughout Canada and the U.S. Titan will operate as a subsidiary of GMS and will continue to be managed by its existing management team led by Doug Skrepnek as president of GMS Canada.

Management Changes At BB&B

Eugene A. Castagna is president and chief operating officer of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. He has been with the company since 1994 and has served as chief operating officer since 2014. Susan E. Lattmann is chief administrative officer. She has been with the company since 1996 and served as chief financial officer since 2014. Robyn M. D'Elia is chief financial officer and treasurer. She has been with the company since 1996, and served as vice-president – finance, since 2015.

Flat Revenue For HBC

HBC had revenue of $3,088 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of one per cent over revenue in the first quarter of 2017. Overall comparable sales declined 0.7 per cent year-over-year, with total comparable digital sales increasing 7.7 per cent. Gross profit as a percentage of revenue for the quarter was 42.1 per cent, an improvement of 20 basis points compared to the prior year. Adjusted SG&A expenses were $1,333 million or 43.2 per cent of revenue, compared to $1,292 million or 42.2 per cent a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $173 million, an increase of $11 million compared to the prior year. Net loss from continuing operations was $314 million compared to a net loss $214 million in the prior year.

June 5, 2018

AR Useful For Online, Operational Efficiencies

Augmented reality (AR) will see major adoption in the retail sector, but not in the way many have predicted. AR will struggle to take root among customers in the bricks-and-mortar environment. Instead, its uptake in the sector will be driven by the retail workforce and online shoppers, says ABI Research. AR experiences can prove extremely useful for online customers unable to interact with the physical products they intend to purchase. This does not add value to the experience in the physical store. However, for the instore employee, AR promises to deliver operational efficiencies and raise the quality of the service delivered. The data shows that retail will see a steady rise in the adoption of AR-devices. For example, smart glasses are already being used by retail employees to assist with front and back-of-store operations. ABI Research forecasts that by 2022 over 120,000 stores will be using AR smart glasses globally. This will be driven by the need for efficiency savings to compete with rival retailers and the online sector generally. Additionally, it forecasts that, by 2020, three per cent of eCommerce revenue will be generated because of augmented reality experiences. The relative ease of integrating AR into existing platforms will have an impact on the user experience that will largely drive customer demand.

Lumber Liquidators Reaches 400 Stores

Lumber Liquidators will open its 400th store this week in Elk Grove, CA. The company is marking the milestone with a celebration at the opening of the 8,927-square-foot MA store that will include Rob Van Winkle of ‘The Vanilla Ice Project’ on the DIY Network and interior designer Kerrie Kelly. The company is also offering sales on its 400-plus products and hosting a sweepstakes through June 30 in which customers have a chance to win up to $4,000 in flooring. Lumber Liquidators’ first store opened in Massachusetts in 1994. Today, the company has locations in Ontario, Canada, and the U.S.

Foamed Plastic Drives Insulation Demand

Foamed plastic insulation in the residential market is forecast to rise 4.4 per cent per annum to 520 million pounds in 2022, valued at $1.1 billion, says a study by the Freedonia Group. Foamed plastics are projected to be the fastest growing material in the residential insulation market during that time. The materials’ ability to fully seal gaps and air leaks will support demand gains as recent IECC measures call for significant improvements in the reduction of air leaks in single-family and multifamily housing. As well, the rising use of eco-friendly foam technologies has benefited sales of foamed plastics as consumers increasingly demand environmentally-friendly products. In response to the rising popularity of green building practices, recent product developments in the residential foamed plastic insulation industry include the production of soy-based, eco-friendly foams, as well as water-blown closed-cell spray foams.

Libman Tour Comes To Canada

The Libman Company, a North American manufacturer of household and high-power cleaning products, is taking to the highway for a third straight year with its ‘Embrace Life's Messes’ tour that will travel to 255 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada. This is the first year the tour will extend into Canada, primarily in the Ontario region. Over the course of 13 weeks, the company will give away products and special prizes during the retail store visits to encourage consumers to embrace life's messes by letting Libman help do the work. At the retail stops, shoppers will have the opportunity to see in-store product demos and as well as participate in games to win prizes. The tour will be documented throughout the 13 weeks with blog posts, photos, and videos on social media sites and on www.embracelifesmesses.com. Additionally, Libman will concurrently run the ‘Embrace Life's Messes Sweepstakes’ where over the course of those 13 weeks, consumers win a Libman Wonder Mop or the grand prize, a Libman Move-In Cleaning Kit.

RCC Names Retail Scholarship Recipients

Seventeen post-secondary students received $1,000 each as part of Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘Retail as a Career Scholarship Program.’ In addition, there was also a $5,000 scholarship funded by Interac Corp. and a $3,000 scholarship funded by RCC. This year’s finalists are Alison Schouten, Breanna Sharpe, Brandon Ngo, Connor Combdon (who also received the $5,000 scholarship), Emma Todd, Hannah Russell, Kelsey McHugh (who also received the $3,000 scholarship), Kristy Wong, Lisa Nguyen, Maya Purcell, Michelle Regalado Clara, Mikayla Haynes, Natasha Baluta, Paige Forrest, Shin Pyo Hong, Tanisha Kotowich, and Taylor Bryson. In addition to the monetary prizes, this year's finalists received an all-access pass, travel ,and accommodation to the ‘RCC STORE 2018 Conference.’ Among the corporate sponsors are Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd., Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd., Home Hardware Stores Ltd., Lowe's Canada, and the Home Depot Canada. Now in its 15th year, the scholarship program has awarded almost $900,000 in scholarship and award benefits. Applicants are evaluated by retail industry experts on academic performance, professional references, and a personal essay.

Kazan Promoted To Corporate Communications Manager

Alexandra Kazan has been promoted to corporate communications manager with TIMBER MART. Previously, she was corporate messaging specialist. She has been with the company since 2014.

June 4, 2018

Residential Investment Increases

Investment in residential construction increased by eight per cent to $30.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter in 2017, says Statistics Canada. All components, with the exception of mobile homes, contributed to the quarterly year-over-year increase in spending on residential construction. The growth was led by spending on apartment buildings, which accounted for 39.5 per cent of the total increase ($890.8 million or 21.5 per cent), followed by investment in renovations ($677.9 million or 5.5 per cent). British Columbia posted the biggest gains in spending on residential construction ($859.8 million or 16.2 per cent), followed by Quebec ($691.4 million or 14.9 per cent). Saskatchewan was the only province to post a quarterly year-over-year decline (down $19.6 million or 2.7 per cent), mainly due to reduced spending on single home construction, down $34.3 million compared with the previous year. Spending on renovations increased for all provinces ($677.9 million or 5.5 per cent), led by Ontario ($239.6 million) and Quebec ($169.2 million).

Mobile Could Bridge Omnichannel Gaps

Bringing some of the digital experience – such as live customer feedback or customer reviews – into the physical store is an area where Tanbir Grover, vice-president, eCommerce & omnichannel, Lowe’s Companies Canada, sees opportunity. Speaking at the session, ‘Retail and the Consumer Experience: How Do You Keep Up?’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Store 2018’ conference, he said the mobile channel could be the solution to bridge the gap between the online and physical store experiences. “Digital is the doorstep of every retailer.” The key is to understand what the customer is doing and then find the best way to service them. At this point, Lowe’s is focusing on a mobile-first strategy versus a desktop strategy. “We have to focus on mobile because that is where change is happening,” said Grover. However, there has to be a complete cultural change and understanding in the organization at every level to be successful in developing a new strategy. He said education is how to get management comfortable with new ideas and attribution models. Grover hasn’t quite figured out how to bring the mobile experience into the store yet, but the company is working on figuring out the level of attribution to see where to invest its time and funds.

AZEK To Acquire Versatex

Building products manufacturer the AZEK Company plans to acquire Versatex, a manufacturer of engineered cellular PVC products. The acquisition will provide AZEK with an additional growth platform for expanding its building envelope offerings. Versatex manufactures and sells premium-branded exterior trim, sheet, mouldings, and other products with an expanding range of building applications.

Andersen Expands Fibrex Facility

Andersen Corporation broke ground on a 60,000-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing campus in Bayport, MN. The expansion will add Fibrex material extrusion capabilities in Bayport to support the sales growth of the Andersen100 Series product portfolio, one of Andersen's fastest growing product lines. The company’s proprietary Fibrex material is a blend of wood fibre, mostly reclaimed from Andersen manufacturing processes, and thermoplastic polymer, some of which is also reclaimed. The material is a high-quality, long-lasting composite that has garnered more than 25 U.S. patents and is used in numerous Andersen and Renewal by Andersen product lines.

Rivers To Represent SIXINCH In Ontario

David Rivers, firm principal with Green River Furniture, is sales representative for SIXINCH North America and Grove by SIXINCH to the architect and design communities in Ontario. Green River Furniture has more than 18 years of experience in contract furniture for offices, residences, and educational and hospitality facilities. SIXINCH creates furniture with innovative materials and progressive design.

June 1, 2018

Homeowners Trim Spending On Renovations

Spending on home renovations is down seven per cent to about $11,000 – the lowest in five years – as more homeowners focus on home maintenance and repairs, finds the annual ‘CIBC Home Renovations Poll.’ The study finds that nearly half (45 per cent) of homeowners do plan to renovate, they’re just focusing on lower cost projects this year. In western Canada, there will be fewer big ticket renovations than two years ago. Popular projects out west include budget-friendly quick fixes such as painting, flooring, and general repairs. The vast majority of Canadian homeowners (87 per cent) agree that renovations can lead to overspending, yet nearly two-thirds don’t have a budget for their upcoming project. As well the poll finds that most (71 per cent) homeowners aged 55+ would prefer to stay put and renovate their current home than sell it and move elsewhere. Boomers plan to spend about $10,800 on average, down 36 per cent from $16,800 last year, to address wear and tear primarily. Moreover, while as many as 71 per cent of Canadians believe a renovation or home project is a great way to keep busy in retirement, almost half (45 per cent) of boomers would prefer to hire a contractor than do the work themselves.

Home Depot Canada Kicks Off Orange Door

Home Depot Canada has launched its annual ‘Orange Door Project Fundraising Campaign’ to help prevent and end youth homelessness. Until June 24, customers can purchase a $2 paper orange door at their local Home Depot store. One hundred per cent of funds raised will go to help support safe housing options, life-skills development programs, and prevention initiatives for at-risk and homeless youth across Canada. Through the campaign, the Home Depot Canada Foundation supports 120 organizations that are committed to preventing and ending youth homelessness across the country. Donations can be made at www.orangedoorproject.ca

Lowe’s Canada To Reduce Waste

As part of its corporate responsibility strategy, Lowe’s Canada has launched an initiative to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations, including the amount of waste sent to landfills. In order to reduce the use of plastic bags, standard plastic bags will cost 5¢ and plastic bags of 50 microns and more will cost 10¢ in all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores. The initiative is in place in Quebec and will be launched throughout the rest of Canada in September. Profits from the program will be donated to Nature Conservancy Canada to fund conservancy projects across the country. The retailer already has several recovery and recycling plans in place in its corporate stores. For example, 3,545 tons of paint were recycled in 2017. The company also has programs in place to recover compact fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, wood, and building materials such as gypsum and styrofoam.

Ply Gem Opens Quebec Distribution Branch

Ply Gem has opened a distribution branch in Saint-Nicolas, QC, to provide easier product and service access to its customers in Quebec. This is the third branch location in the province and serves as a showroom, sales, and distribution centre. It carries building products including Ply Gem windows and patio doors, Mitten vinyl siding, shake, stone, accents, and other building envelope accessories.

Schlagheck Joins Derby

Mark Schlagheck is vice-president of retail sales with Derby Building Products. He has more than 30 years of industry experience, most recently at the AZEK Company.

Leon’s Sales Climb

Leon’s had total sales of $601 million for the first quarter of 2018, in increase of 4.7 per cent over total sales of $574 million in the first quarter of 2017. Revenue grew 3.4 per cent to $501 million in the quarter compared to $484 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA increased 10.7 per cent to $26.5 million compared to $24 million. Adjusted net income increased 35.1 per cent to $11.5 million compared to $8.5 million a year ago. Same store corporate sales increased by 2.6 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit margin as a percentage of revenue was 42.8 per cent compared to 41.91 per cent in 2017.

May 31, 2018

First Quarter Retail Sales Mediocre

Retail sales for the first quarter gained 3.9 per cent year-over-year which, in the big scheme of things, is on the low side, but not a complete disaster, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Nevertheless, it is the lowest growth quarter in about a year and a half and the same thing seems to be happening in most retail sectors and retail business types. Retailers who planned on 2018 being as good as last year may be in for a rude awakening. The food stores and health and personal care groups had disappointing increases at below one per cent. Store merchandise, while up 5.8 per cent, was still lower than the 6.9 per cent gain posted for the first quarter of 2017. The top performers were electronics and appliance stores at 14.9 per cent and building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers at 7.5 per cent. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 14.8 per cent year-over-year in the quarter. While this looks like a strong gain, it's actually down from the 27.4 per cent annual increase recorded for 2017. While it still remains high, it appears that eCommerce retail sales growth may be slowing down.

RONA Earns Mobile Award

Lowe’s Canada’s RONA banner earned the mobile experience award at the ‘Retail Council of Canada (RCC) Excellence in Retailing Awards Gala’ which took place Tuesday night in Toronto, ON. Tanbir Grover, vice-president, eCommerce and omnichannel at Lowe’s Canada, says, “Offering a seamless, consistent and transparent experience to our customers no matter when, where, and how they interact with us is what Lowe’s Canada’s omnichannel strategy is all about. With RONA’s new responsive website, Canadians can browse, view, compare, select, and buy through a seamless digital experience, independent of the device they use.”

Zion Joins TIMBER MART

Zion Building Supplies in Scarborough, ON, has joined the TIMBER MART group. It carries a wide selection of building materials and hardware, including lumber, lumber products, tiles, and plumbing fixtures and accessories. The business caters to contractors and DIYers in the GTA. It cites better buying power in their key building material categories and solid vendor relationships as the main attraction of TIMBER MART.

Solid Growth Anticipated For Ceramic Tiles

The global ceramic tiles market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of around nine per cent from 2018 to 2022, says a report by Technavio. A key factor driving the growth is the rise in construction activities in developing countries. As well, ceramic tile is one of the main components used in the construction industry for building interior and exterior floors, footpaths, swimming pools, walls, partitions, roofs, and exterior finishing. One big trend in this market is the introduction of 3D tiles. Made via 3D printing, it is expected to witness an increase in demand due to the desire for sophisticated designs and patterns. The ceramic floor tiles segment dominated the global market in 2017, accounting for nearly 55 per cent of the market. The market share for this application is expected to increase by nearly two per cent by 2022, making it the fastest growing application segment.

Revenues Up For Walmart

Walmart had total revenues of $122.7 billion for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 4.4 per cent over total revenues of $117.5 billion for the first quarter of 2018. Excluding currency, total revenue was $120.7 billion, an increase of 2.7 per cent year-over-year. Comparable store sales increased 2.1 per cent from the year-ago period and comparable traffic increased 0.8 per cent. Net sales at Walmart International were $30.3 billion, an increase of 11.7 per cent. Operating income was $5.2 billion, even with the year-ago period.

May 30, 2018

Differentiation Key To Lee Valley Success

Differentiation is what sets Lee Valley apart from other retailers, especially mass merchants, says Jason Tasse, chief operating officer of Lee Valley. Speaking at the session, ‘The Secret Sauce: How Retailers Are Achieving Supply Chain Efficiency’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Store 2018’ conference, he said Lee Valley is a specialty high-end store that offers premium products no-one else has. The company depends on technology and relationships with carriers in order to stock the long-tail inventory that customers expect to find in stores. Long-tail inventory is products in low demand with low sales volume that can collectively make up market share that can rival or exceed mass or popular products, but only if the store or distribution channel can manage the supply chain. Tasse said the company balances its inventory to make it available to stores and to customers who want to touch and feel it. This is accomplished through strategic partnerships with carriers in Canada and abroad. He said the carriers with strong service levels and good fulfillment rates are quite receptive to the company`s operations despite territorial challenges due to customers in Canada, the U.S., and overseas. Integrated technologies are also an important element to successful supply chain management. And although the company implemented new systems about five years ago, it’s always looking to better improve its efficiencies and keep those platforms current.

Wowing Customers More Critical

In today's competitive retail landscape, wowing customers is more critical than ever, says the sixth annual ‘Canadian Retail Insights Report’ by American Express Canada. It shows 87 per cent of retailers agree their customers are getting more selective about where they shop. This means to maintain a competitive edge, retailers are focusing on improving the in-store experience while investing in new technologies to provide seamless shopping experiences that leave customers wanting more. Almost all retailers (97 per cent) agree that improving the in-store experience is important and 69 per cent agree investing in new technology is integral to driving business success. Over half (58 per cent) of retailers surveyed say they plan to make more updates to the in-store experience this year. When it comes to enhancing in-store shopping, forward-looking retailers have their eyes on emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the customer experience. The data revealed 29 per cent of retailers are interested in investing in new technologies like automation or data personalization and 14 per cent are looking to artificial intelligence or augmented reality to provide a better in-store experience.

RCC Honours Retail’s Top Achievers

Jeff Kinnaird, president of The Home Depot Canada, and the retailer were presented with the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘2018 Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year Award’ at RCC’s ‘Store 2018’ conference. Kinnaird and Home Depot Canada received the award for their continued business success, their customer-focused approach to store and online operation, their ongoing commitment to the communities they serve, and living their values every day. Robin Lee, president and chief executive officer of Lee Valley, was presented with RCC’s ‘2018 Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his outstanding contribution and unwavering 40-year commitment to Lee Valley. As well, ‘Excellence in Retailing Awards’ were awarded to Canadian Tire Corporation for instore merchandising and supply chain innovations; RONA, a Lowe’s Canada Company for mobile experience; Federated Co-operatives Ltd. for philanthropic leadership; and IKEA Canada for pop-up experience and design and talent development.

Wesfarmers To Divest Homebase

Wesfarmers plans to divest its Homebase business in the UK and Ireland to a company associated with Hilco Capital. Under the terms of the agreement, the buyer will acquire all Homebase assets, including the Homebase brand, its store network, freehold property, property leases, and inventory. The 24 Bunnings pilot stores will convert to the Homebase brand following completion of the transaction. Wesfarmers says the transaction is in the best interests of its shareholders and will support the ongoing reset and repositioning of the Homebase business. Homebase was acquired by Wesfarmers in 2016.

Tyson Named Customer Experience Officer

Charles Tyson is chief customer experience officer with Lumber Liquidators. He has 30 years of experience in broad retail and commercial merchandising and omnichannel marketing from department stores and big box and specialty retail concepts.

Strong Retail Revenues For Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware Corporation had first quarter 2018 revenues of $1.31 billion, an increase of six per cent from the first quarter of 2017. Total retail revenues for the quarter were $63.1 million, an increase of 21.3 per cent. Net income was $11.9 million, a decrease of $16.4 million from the year-ago period. Same-store sales increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year and the average ticket increased 3.3 per cent for the period. Wholesale gross profit was $139.6 million, a decrease of $6.6 million from the first quarter of 2017. The wholesale gross margin percentage was 11.2 per cent of wholesale revenues, down from 12.3 per cent last year. Retail gross profit was $29.1 million, an increase of $4 million from 2017. The retail gross margin percentage was 46.1 per cent of retail revenues in the first quarter of 2018, a decrease from 48.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2017.

May 29, 2018

New Housing Construction Rises

New housing construction investment totaled $4.6 billion in March, up 9.7 per cent from March 2017, says Statistics Canada. This increase was mainly attributable to higher construction investment in apartment buildings. The increase in apartment building construction investment accounted for 81.7 per cent of the total growth in new housing construction investment in Canada. In comparison, single-home construction accounted for 77 per cent of the total increase in investment. Investment in new housing construction grew year-over-year in March for every building type except single-family houses, which fell by 1.1 per cent. This drop was mostly explained by lower spending on single-family house construction in Ontario. Quebec continued to post the largest increase for apartment building construction. Alberta was led by an increase in single house construction. British Columbia and Prince Edward Island were the only two provinces to post increases for all building types.

Sales Associates Key To Brand Loyalty

Sales associate engagement with customers remains the key to customer satisfaction when buying paint, says J.D. Power’s ‘2018 Paint Satisfaction Study.’ It shows that while most customers believe talking to a sales associate is essential, only 33 per cent of purchasers actually spoke with a sales associate at length about the products. Satisfaction is significantly higher among purchasers who spoke with a sales associate at length rather than briefly or not at all. And, customer satisfaction is important because it drives loyalty and advocacy. Among satisfied customers, 76 per cent say they “definitely will” repurchase the brand, and 79 per cent “definitely will” recommend the brand to others.

Lawson Opens Alberta DC

Lawson Products, Inc., a distributor of products and services to the maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) has opened a distribution centre (DC) in Calgary, AB. The centre, co-located in the recently acquired facility of the Bolt Supply House, allows Lawson to reduce product delivery time to within one to two business days to its western Canadian customers. The 43,000-square-foot DC stocks more than 15,000 items and is managed through the company’s existing SAP and GAINS inventory forecasting systems. The Illinois-based company has had a presence in Canada since 1984.

Chervon Facility Gets LEED Certification

Power tool manufacturer Chervon has earned the LEED certification for ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ for its North American headquarters in Naperville, IL. The newly constructed, state-of-the-art building boasts 78,000 square feet of office space and 46,000 square feet of high-end R&D/industrial space. The innovation hub is 100 per cent eco-friendly and includes a prototype lab, design studio, model shop, 3D print lab, brand showroom, and a photo and video studio. It offers employees amenities such as a gourmet café, gym, outdoor terrace, landscaped patio, ergonomic, height-adjustable desks, and open collaborative spaces. It is surrounded by 13.1 acres of wooded and wetland areas and is complete with over 7,000 square feet of outdoor space overlooking the Freedom wooded pond.

McMullen Promoted At Liteline

Steve McMullen has been promoted to national sales manager, commercial industrial – Canada with Liteline Corporation. He joined the company in 2016 as regional sales manager for Ontario.

Online Sales Lead Williams-Sonoma Growth

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. had revenue of $1.203 billion in the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 8.2 per cent compared to revenue of $1.202 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Retail net revenues increased 4.9 per cent to $557 million from $531 million in year-ago period. Comparable brand revenue growth for the quarter was five per cent year-over-year. Operating margin was 5.5 per cent for the quarter. eCommerce net revenue growth grew to 53.7 per cent of total company net revenues and grew 11.3 per cent to $646 million in the first quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago.

May 28, 2018

Orgill Earns ‘E’ Award

Orgill, Inc., was one of 43 U.S. companies recognized last week by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross with the President’s ‘E’ Award, which honors companies throughout the country that export U.S. goods and services. The award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to expanding U.S. exports. This year marks the 56th anniversary of the award. The 2018 honorees come from 18 states and include 33 small and medium-sized businesses and 17 manufacturers. Orgill received its first ‘E’ award in 2014. This year, Orgill was honored with an ‘E’ Star Award for Exports which recognizes previous awardees who have reported four years of additional export growth. Memphis, TN-based Orgill, Inc., was founded in 1847 and is the world’s largest independently owned hardlines distributor. It provides retailers in nearly 60 countries around the world with access to more than 75,000 products from its seven distribution centres and three export consolidation facilities. The ‘E’ Award was created in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order to recognize companies that make up America’s exporters.

Retailers Coming Up With Differentiating Concepts

Pop-up shops, showrooms, and experiential retail are three growing retail concepts that are both promising and significant, says a report by commercial real estate firm Phillips Edison & Company. Retailers are taking advantage of the pop-up shop movement to generate brand exposure, test new products and concepts, and create positive engagements with consumers. By combining eCommerce and bricks-and-mortar retail, showrooms have also become a powerful way for brands to create meaningful interactions with consumers. While retailers seek to meet consumer demands for convenience, they also recognize the power that real-life contact with staff and products can have in generating a positive, long-lasting relationship. And, in response to an increasing desire for unique and exciting experiences to draw customers offline and into stores, a number of retailers are implementing interactive elements in their locations such as workshops, classes, coaching, and advice. There is tremendous opportunity for innovative retailers to present their brands in more immersive and experiential ways, says Phillips Edison. The retail industry has shown true resilience in the face of disruption as brands have gone back to the drawing board to reimagine the entire physical retail model and some amazing creative concepts have taken shape as a result.

Outdoor Living To Propel Outdoor Lighting Demand

The demand for outdoor lighting fixtures is expected to increase 6.7 per cent per year to $5.5 billion in 2022, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Demand will benefit less from building construction activity than it did during the construction market’s rapid expansion in the 2012 to 2017 period, when it was recovering from recessionary declines. However, acceleration in non-building construction – highway and street construction in particular – will support continued strong growth. On the building construction side, increasing consumer interest in outdoor living will support strong growth for area and floodlighting.

INVISTA To Invest In Texas Facility

INVISTA, producer of brands such as STAINMASTER, ANTRON, and FLEXISOLV, has entered the final design phase for a $250 million upgrade to the manufacturing technology and production of adiponitrile (ADN) at its Victoria, TX, facility. Construction for the project is slated to get underway in the first quarter of 2019. The ADN technology, developed and in use at the INVISTA facility in Orange, TX, brings improved product yields, reduced energy consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, enhanced process stability, and reduced capital intensity, compared to existing technologies.

Lowe’s Names New CEO

Marvin R. Ellison will be president and chief executive officer of Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective July. He will also join the Lowe’s board of directors at that time. He currently serves as chairman and chief executive officer of J. C. Penney Company, Inc. He succeeds Robert A. Niblock, who previously announced his intention to retire. Richard Dreiling has been appointed chairman of the board as of July. He is currently a director.

ROCKWOOL Has Strong First Quarter

ROCKWOOL Group had sales of €603 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 17 per cent in local currencies, including acquisitions, which contributed three percentage points. EBIT in the quarter was €70 million, an increase of 53 per cent year over year. There was an 11.6 per cent EBIT margin, which was up three per cent over the same period a year ago. Investments were €48 million, up €13 million compared to last year, primarily due to ongoing expansions in Poland and the U.S. Annualized return on invested capital reached 18.6 per cent compared to 15.5 per cent last year, driven by higher operational earnings.

May 25, 2018

Challenges Remain For New Home Market

In April, the new home market in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) saw lower sales and an increase in remaining inventory, as well as a decrease in prices, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 1,727 total new home sales, the lowest number of sales for April in over 20 years. Single-family home sales, with 502 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were down 65 per cent from last April and down 70 per cent from the 10-year average. Condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 1,225 new home sales, down 65 per cent from April 2017 and down 38 per cent from the 10-year average. The lower number of sales means that remaining inventory increased for both single-family homes and condominium apartments in April, with total new home remaining inventory at 14,297 units. This included 9,958 condominium apartments and 4,339 single family homes.

CRAFTSMAN Now At Lowe’s Canada Banners

Lowe’s Canada now offers CRAFTSMAN products at its Lowe's, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace banners. Initially, CRAFTSMAN mechanics tool sets, tool storage, and flashlights can be purchased in stores from these banners as well as online. Later this year, the retailer will have a broader offering of CRAFTSMAN products as hand tools, power tools, and select outdoor power equipment categories are phased into stores. Lowe’s Canada will also honour CRAFTSMAN warranties.

Renoworks Updates Visualizer Tool

Renoworks Software Inc. has updated its visualizer tool to include TruWood Siding and Trim engineered wood products. The TruWood Visualizer is a web-based design experience built upon the latest version of Renoworks' web visualization platform that allows distributors, remodelers, builders, and homeowners to design with a variety of different products and colours offered by TruWood. As well, updates to the tool include enhanced photo-realistic rendering and mobile responsiveness. Renoworks will continue to build upon the technology and will provide additional value through shared analytics and insights to its clients. As TruWood customers interact with products and design, a much better understanding of consumer remodeling preferences will be revealed, growing Renoworks' data value and helping to fuel future innovations.

Younger Consumers Say Loyalty Complex

NextGen consumers are leading the retail industry to a new view on loyalty, one that is much more complex, finds research by Alliance Data's card services business. It shows Gen Z and Millennials have been empowered by unique experiences, technology, and the power of choice to engage brands and experience loyalty in truly new ways. For example, loyalty is earned. Most younger consumers (63 per cent) say they have many choices of where to shop, so a brand must show them loyalty to earn their business. Alliance Data says loyalty is complex and can span a continuum from traditional and mostly functional loyalty to brand love and emotional loyalty. Re-thinking a brand’s approach to loyalty means understanding that true loyalty requires a combination of function and emotion. Loyalty is also fragile, with 76 per cent of younger consumers only giving brands two to three chances before they stop shopping them. Brands must understand customers’ unique needs and think differently about measuring loyalty. Some consumers want the basics while others need more.

May 24, 2018

Social Responsibility Bringing Back Trust

Canadians' willingness to trust business has dropped significantly in the last year, but the most reputable companies are bucking the trend through social responsibility, shows a study on corporate reputation by the Reputation Institute (RI). The ‘2018 rankings of Canada's Most Reputable Companies’ shows companies that cracked the top 50 include Canadian Tire (14th place) and Home Hardware (21st place). Canadian Tire earned strong ratings for its citizenship and governance, the latter category defined as the perception that a company is open, honest, and transparent in its stakeholder and public relationships. Bosch climbed to 14th position, while 3M fell to 26th. RI says there is a direct correlation between corporate reputation and business performance, so companies have an opportunity – with the use of reputation measurement tools – to understand key opportunities and gaps and put processes in place to manage reputation.

Residential Buildings Lead Construction Prices

Prices for the construction of new residential buildings rose more than those for new non-residential buildings in the first quarter of 2018. Increases for both building types were driven, in part, by higher costs for masonry work, as well as for materials including steel, lumber, and concrete, says Statistics Canada. Contractor prices rose 1.8 per cent for the construction of new residential buildings in the first quarter, following a 1.4 per cent increase in the previous quarter. Higher prices for the construction of new low-rise apartment buildings (2.1 per cent) led the gain. Among the 11 surveyed census metropolitan areas (CMAs), prices for new residential building construction rose the most in Winnipeg, MB (7.3 per cent). Other notable price increases occurred in Vancouver, BC, (2.2 per cent) and Toronto, ON (1.6 per cent). Prices charged by contractors for new residential building construction increased 7.3 per cent in the first quarter compared with the same quarter in 2017. Prices grew the most in Winnipeg (14.7 per cent), followed by Vancouver (9.6 per cent) and Toronto (8.3 per cent).

U.S. Retail Sales Up 2.8 Per Cent

U.S. retail sales increased 0.4 per cent in April seasonally adjusted over March and 2.8 per cent year-over-year as consumers continued to spend, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The three-month moving average was up 4.1 per cent over the same period a year ago, which is in line with NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent over 2017. The April results build on improvement seen in March, which was up 0.3 per cent monthly and 5.2 per cent year-over-year. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.6 per cent year-over-year and up 0.4 per cent from March seasonally adjusted. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 5.8 per cent year-over-year and up 0.8 per cent from March seasonally adjusted. General merchandise stores were down 0.8 per cent year-over-year but up 0.3 per cent from March seasonally adjusted.

Fibre Cement Will Continue To Dominate Siding

Demand for fibre cement siding is forecast to grow 3.3 per cent per year to 2.1 billion square feet in 2022, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Fibre cement siding sales will continue to outperform those of most other siding products. Market value will reach $1.6 billion in 2022, aided by increases in average prices and a shift in the product mix to higher value products. Growth will come from strength in building construction, gains in market share (especially at the expense of vinyl siding), and product improvements. The market for fibre cement siding totaled 1.8 billion square feet ($1.2 billion) in 2017, accounting for 70 per cent of total fibre cement sales. Fibre cement is the second most widely used type of siding behind vinyl and has captured an expanding share of the overall siding market in recent years largely due to its aesthetic and performance advantages over vinyl, hardboard, and natural wood.

MiTek Launches Planning App

MiTek USA has launched its Project Explorer app, designed to search for and plan outdoor projects. This app was built in conjunction with OZCO Building Products, the manufacturer of Ornamental Wood Ties (OWT). Users can access a gallery of images of finished pergolas, pavilions, and backyard projects. The project concepts are presented along with estimates of the material costs, a dealer locator, and the opportunity to share photos of selected projects with others. The app is a free download at the Apple App Store.

Lowe's Earnings Grow

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $988 million for the first quarter of 2018, compared to net earnings of $602 million in the first quarter of 2017. Sales for the quarter increased three per cent to $17.4 billion from $16.9 billion in the year-ago period and comparable sales increased 0.6 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 0.5 per cent. Gross margin was 34.6 per cent of sales compared to 34.4 per cent of sales last year.

Brandl To Retire IHA Leadership

After 22 years as president and chief executive officer of the International Housewares Association (IHA), Phil Brandl will retire from the association at the end of the year. He will transition to a consulting role from day-to-day responsibilities. He joined IHA in 1994 and was named president in 1997.

Innovation And Technology Covered At Seminar

Retail innovation, data, virtual reality, machine learning, and leasing are just some of the topics that will be discussed at the ICSC-CSCA Canadian Retail Research Seminar. The event takes place June 5 at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit Canadian Retail Research Seminar

May 23, 2018

Small Increase In Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales rose 1.1 per cent to $62.8 billion in March, more than offsetting the decline in February, says Statistics Canada. The motor vehicle and parts subsector contributed the most to the gain. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales rose 0.2 per cent. In volume terms, wholesale sales rose 0.8 per cent. In the first quarter of 2018, wholesale sales rose 0.5 per cent in current dollars and 0.4 per cent in constant dollars compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. For both current and constant dollars, this marked the eighth consecutive quarterly increase. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased 3.4 per cent to a record high $9.2 billion. Sales were up in every industry, led by the metal service centres industry (+9.4 per cent to $1.9 billion). Sales were up in two provinces in March, which together accounted for 56 per cent of wholesale sales in Canada. In dollar terms, Ontario contributed the most to the gains. Wholesale inventories edged down 0.1 per cent to $82.6 billion. Higher inventories in the building material and supplies subsector (+0.8 per cent) were led by higher stock levels in the metal service centres industry (+4.6 per cent). The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.33 in February to 1.31 in March. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Lowe’s Canada Transforming South Edmonton RONA

Lowe’s Canada will transform the South Edmonton, AB, RONA Home and Garden store to the Lowe’s banner. The store will undergo an extensive renovation process to be completed by fall 2018. The transformation will involve construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion. The store will remain open during the conversion. The new store will offer an expanded product assortment, installation programs, and an online program which includes click and collect for in-store pickup, local truck delivery, and parcel shipping. It will also offer an enhanced shopping experience for commercial contractors which will include a loyalty program and charge account. The store will feature approximately 110,000 square feet of retail sales space, a 13,000-square-foot garden centre, and a 16,500-square-foot drive-through outdoor lumber yard with a covered lumber yard.

Rubikloud Partners With Intel

Retail artificial intelligence (AI) company Rubikloud Technologies has partnered with Intel to further collaborate on retail AI solutions that can revitalize the shopping experience. Intel Capital recently led a $37 million financing round in Rubikloud and believes AI will transform retail in meaningful ways. Through the collaboration, the companies will focus on merging new and old technologies on Rubikloud's AI platform to help improve the instore experience and provide a more personalized shopping experience for consumers, online and offline. Intel's edge to cloud technology is designed to streamline and improve store operations. Combined with Rubikloud's promotion and loyalty data, retailers can track how much stock is in the back of the store without leaving the front of it, among other things. The data also informs retailers how to avoid overstocking and stock outs, which promotions to prioritize in which stores, and other ways to improve sales.

Orangeville Wolseley Re-opens With HVAC/R

The Orangeville, ON, Wolseley Canada branch has re-opened to offer plumbing and HVAC/R products. The newly-renovated 8,000-square-foot facility will offer customers the ability to source all the products they need at one location. The expansion is part of Wolseley Canada’s ongoing focus to revitalize its facilities and open new locations.

Hiring The Wrong Person Can Be Costly

An employee who can't keep up with work takes a heavier toll on a business than some may think, finds research by global staffing firm Robert Half. The company asked chief financial officers across Canada to estimate how much time is spend coaching underperforming employees and the answer was 21 per cent of working hours, on average. That equals just over eight hours out of a 40-hour work week. CFOs also acknowledged that hiring mistakes negatively affect team morale with 19 per cent saying it has a great effect, 68 per cent saying it somewhat affects morale, and seven per cent saying it has no effect. The remainder don’t know. Robert Half says a comprehensive hiring strategy is key to preventing business priorities and employee resources form being sidelined by an inadequate or incompatible team member. The recruitment process should put an equal onus on assessing for both technical skills and cultural fit to ensure candidates have the expertise to excel in the role and also align with company values and goals from day one.

Federal Government Invests In New Brunswick

The federal government will invest almost $51 million to help New Brunswickers make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes, businesses, and industrial operations. This investment is part of further energy-efficiency investments in New Brunswick, which total $234 million. The government of Canada's ‘Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund’ will support New Brunswick Power's ‘Total Home Energy Savings Program’ as well as programs for commercial and industrial energy efficiency. These programs help cover the cost of home-, commercial-, and industrial-efficiency retrofits across the province. The program will assist homeowners with energy-efficiency changes such as better insulation, home heating systems, heat-recovery ventilators, windows, doors, water heaters, drain-water heat recovery, and renewable-energy systems.

CHICC Partners With AIR MILES

Canadian Home Improvement Credit Corporation (CHICC), a specialty lender focused on the home improvement sector, has partnered with AIR MILES Reward Program. CHICC's financing platform allows equipment manufacturers and contractors to offer their customers on-site financing. From traditional products like furnaces, windows, and doors, to more progressive products such as solar panels and smart-home automation, CHICC will finance, lease or rent these products/services to homeowners across the country. Now these customers will be rewarded with AIR MILES Reward Miles.

Roy Joins VersaPay

Shouvik Roy is chief financial officer with VersaPay Corporation. Previously, he held senior finance positions at various companies including Nike and Home Depot.

PFB Loss Shrinks

PFB Corporation had a consolidated loss of $701,000 for the first quarter of 2018 compared to a consolidated loss of $890,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $131,000 compared to $32,000 in the year-ago period. Consolidated sales were $21 million versus $19.4 million, an increase of eight per cent. Sales also grew by eight per cent compared with the corresponding period. Gross margins improved to 17.4 per cent from 15.1 per cent in the comparative 2017 period.

May 22, 2018

Retail Sales Continue Rise

Retail sales increased for the third consecutive month in March, rising 0.6 per cent to $50.2 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset lower sales at food and beverage stores and gasoline stations. Sales were up in six of 11 subsectors, representing 53 per cent of retail trade. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were down 0.2 per cent in March. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.8 per cent. Higher sales were reported in seven provinces, accounting for 93 per cent of retail trade. Quebec (1.3 per cent) and Ontario (0.6 per cent) were the main contributors to the increase in dollar terms. The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.3 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 11.1 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 3.4 per cent.

New U.S. Construction Starts Pull Back

The value of new construction starts in April fell 13 per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $674.3 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline follows the 11 per cent gain reported for March which was the highest level of construction starts over the preceding six months. The loss of momentum in April was widespread, involving each of the three main construction sectors. Non-building construction (public works and electric utilities/gas plants) plunged 22 per cent after its 74 per cent hike in March. Non-residential building retreated 12 per cent due to a slower pace by its institutional and manufacturing segments. Residential building dropped nine per cent with reduced activity for both single-family and multifamily housing. During the first four months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $223.5 billion, down seven per cent from the same period of 2017. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the 12 months ending April 2018 matched the dollar amount that was reported for the 12 months ending April 2017.

Ace Canada Welcomes Dégelis Store

Ace Distribution Rioux has opened a store in Dégelis, QC. This is its second location as it opened its first store in May 2017 in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, QC. The 4,800-square-foot store has more than 3,700 products in inventory, including a wide selection of farming supplies, a special-order door and window offering unique to the region, well-known brands such as Lepage Millwork, Makita, Dulux, and Boulanger mouldings in addition to the thousands of products available on ace-canada.ca. The owners are Guy Rioux, Dany Lavoie, and Éric Lavoie.

Canadian Government Funding Consumer Research

The government of Canada is investing in research to support consumers’ rights. The Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development has awarded more than $1.6 million in funding to support 19 consumer-interest research and development projects that will contribute to the protection and empowerment of Canadian consumers. These projects can include delving into home energy labels or looking at the challenges and opportunities presented by a cashless marketplace. Making sure Canadians are protected and empowered is critical to a strong and effective economy, says Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science, and economic development. Funded development projects will help consumer advocacy groups carry out research and the research findings will be made available online.

Smith Leads FCL Building Solutions

Cody Smith is director, home and building solutions, with Federated Co-operatives Limited. Previously, he was category development manager. He succeeds Tony Steier, who has retired.

Sales Increase For Hardwoods Distribution

Hardwoods Distribution Inc.’s consolidated sales for the first quarter of 2018 were $270.8 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent over consolidated sales in the first quarter of 2017. Sales from Canadian operations increased 2.6 per cent year-over-year and from U.S. operations increased 9.6 per cent. Gross profit increased slightly to $48.7 million; gross profit margin was 18 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $13.2 million compared to $14 million a year-ago. Adjusted profit increased five per cent to $8.3 million.

May 18, 2018

Groupe BMR, Home Depot Honoured

Groupe BMR and the Home Depot were named finalists in eTail Canada’s ‘Best-In-Class Awards.’ The awards honour retailers that exemplify the spirit of retail marketing innovation. Nominations for the award were fielded from both traditional bricks-and-mortar and digitally native retailers and their partners and winners were voted on and chosen by their industry peers. Groupe BMR was a finalist for ‘Best Emerging Retailer’ and Home Depot was a finalist for ‘Best eMail Marketing Campaign.’

Lowe’s Canada Opens First Vancouver Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its first Lowe’s store in Vancouver, BC, under the new store model. The store was converted from the former RONA Home and Garden and underwent an extensive 16-week physical transformation which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as employee training. The store will offer new product categories including appliances, seasonal, and Lowe’s private labels. It will also offer a broader selection of fashion plumbing products and floor displays. This store marks the company’s 65th store in Canada under the Lowe’s banner. It features about 40,000 products and retail space totaling more than 111,000 square feet with an adjacent garden centre of 20,000 square feet.

U.S. Builder Confidence Increases

U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose two points to a level of 70 in May after a downwardly revised April reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the fourth time the HMI has reached 70 or higher this year. The solid May report shows that builders are buoyed by growing consumer demand for single-family homes. Tight housing inventory, employment gains, and demographic tailwinds should continue to boost demand for newly-built single-family homes. With these fundamentals in place, the housing market should improve at a steady, gradual pace in the months ahead, says NAHB. However, the record-high cost of lumber is hurting builders’ bottom lines and making it more difficult to produce competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market.

More Retirees Purchasing Recreational Properties

Retirees were the key factor in driving activity in 91 per cent of recreational property markets, finds a survey by RE/MAX. This includes established recreational regions such as Prince Edward County, ON, and Comox Valley, BC. This is in stark contrast to last year's findings when retirees were a dominant driving force in only 55 per cent of markets. The survey finds that in British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, more retirees and soon-to-be retirees are purchasing recreational properties outside of urban centres for use as retirement homes, increasingly blurring the line between recreational and residential properties. Last year, Baby Boomers and retirees were increasingly selling their homes in urban centres like Toronto, ON, and Vancouver, BC. Many are putting the equity they received from those sales into the purchase of a recreational property. As well, one in three Canadians (33 per cent) say that they own or would want to own a recreational property for investment purposes.

Festool Roadshow Stops In Woodbridge

The Festool Roadshow stopped in Woodbridge, ON, to showcase a variety of tools, accessories and consumables including cordless sanders, miter saws, track saws, carpentry saws, clamping systems, and dust extractors. It is making stops across Canada and the U.S. at authorized dealers.The Woodbridge stop was at Lee Valley Tools Ltd. The next stop is May 19 at Atlas Machinery in Etobicoke, ON; then May 22 at Lee Valley in Ottawa, ON; May 24 at Richelieu Hardware Ltd. in Montreal, QC; and May 30 at Elite Tools in Levis, QC. For pictures, visit Home Improvement Retailing’s Instagram page; for information, visit Festool Canada

Income Rises While Continental Sales Down

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net income of $13.6 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 11.6 per cent over net income for the first quarter of 2017. Net sales, however, were $116.8 million for the quarter, a 5.4 per cent decrease over the year-ago period. Gross margin increased to 25.8 per cent compared to 25.7 per cent. EBITDA was $31.3 million, down 4.9 per cent over EBITDA of $33 million last year. Wallboard sales volumes decreased to 615 million square feet (MMSF) for the quarter, compared to 650 MMSF in the prior year quarter. Net sales were down 3.2 per cent to $116.8 million, compared to $120.6 million in the prior year quarter.

May 17, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise

Manufacturing sales rose 1.4 per cent to $57.1 billion in March, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at primary metal; aerospace product and parts; fabricated metal product; and the other transportation equipment industries were mostly responsible for the increase. Overall, sales were up in 13 of 21 industries, representing 72 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales were up in seven provinces in March, with Quebec and British Columbia responsible for most of the total national gain. Sales were down in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island due to lower sales of durable goods. Inventory levels increased 0.7 per cent to $79.3 billion in March. This was the sixth consecutive increase in inventories, with six of 21 industries posting higher levels. The inventory-to-sales ratio declined from 1.4 in February to 1.39. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to continue at their current pace.

Lowe’s Canada Opens New Concept Reno-Depot

Lowe’s Canada has completed its renovation at the Hull District Reno-Depot store in Quebec. The Hull store is the banner’s first location to transition to the new Reno-Depot store concept just in time for its 20th anniversary. With an investment of over $3.7 million, the store underwent a major transformation which included redesigning all departments, introducing enhanced services, and revamping signage. This year, the Reno-Depot banner is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has introduced a new store concept for the Reno-Depot banner. At the Hull store, customers will find the essence of a traditional Reno-Depot store with more open spaces and new product categories such as appliances and seasonal departments. The store includes a 110,000-square-foot sales floor and a 30,000-square-foot garden centre.

Roseburg Plant Fire Shuts Down Press Line

A fire at Roseburg’s Pembroke medium-density fiberboard (MDF) plant in Laurentian Valley, ON, on Tuesday prompted the evacuation and temporary closure of the plant. The fire was successfully extinguished and the cause remains under investigation. However, the press line is expected to be down for several days for damage assessment, clean up, and repair. The moulding and finishing lines were expected to resume operations Wednesday. Roseburg completed the purchase of the MDF plant in April.

Outlook Strong For U.S. Home Renovation Professionals

The U.S. residential renovation and design industry continues to build on the robust growth of the past four years. Average revenue growth rates hovered around 10 per cent annually, with performance exceeding expectations for most firms, and at least one-fifth of businesses hiring more workers each year, says Houzz’s ‘2018 U.S. State of the Industry’ report. And, “with market fundamentals aligned in favour of the home improvement industry, 2018 is set to be another great year,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. The majority of companies surveyed have a positive outlook for 2018 (71 to 88 per cent). Those in construction-focused and outdoor industry groups are particularly optimistic. However, positive growth sentiments are somewhat tempered by expectations that labour availability and costs will worsen labour markets already constrained over the past several years. Expectations on consumer demand may also be impacted by polarized views of the national economy in 2018. Architects, general contractors, and design-build companies showed accelerated average annual revenue growth rates (eight, 11, and 11 per cent, respectively) compared to 2016 rates (seven, nine and eight per cent, respectively). Other companies reported average revenue growth rates in line with 2016 rates.

Uniboard Invests In New TFL Press Line

Uniboard will invest $17 million in a state-of-the-art TFL (thermally-fused laminate) press line at its Sayabec, QC, mill. The line will feature the same advanced technologies as the previous TFL 6 line with an increased capacity for its signature EIR/synchronized (Uniboard's WoodPrint family of textures) and deep-embossed textures, in addition to all of its melamine texture offerings. The company will also launch 18 new designs and two new textures, bringing the company’s TFL offering to over 135 designs available in 14 texture options.

SOFA Changes Name To TIDC

SOFA: Source of Furniture + Accessories, a design centre for professionals, has changed its name as part of its brand identity renewal. It will now be known as Toronto International Design Centre (TIDC). The rebrand signifies a fresh direction for the centre. It will focus on enhancing service directly for the design community by providing a one-stop shop for design professionals. The rebrand will renew its commitment to the design community by expanding its suite of offerings with new resources, education, and networking services including a designer services kiosk, increased hours of operation, an improved membership program, and an expanded education series. TIDC’s mandate covers the full spectrum of the design industry, including commercial and residential projects, and welcomes seasoned, new, and aspiring designers, architects, home stagers, home builders, and retail buyers.

Acquisition Boosts Beacon Roofing Results

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had total sales of $1.43 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 63.7 per cent compared to sales of $870.7 million in the second quarter of 2017. Residential roofing product sales increased 19.7 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales increased 35.6 per cent, and complementary product sales increased 263.2 per cent over the prior year. Net loss for the quarter was $72.7 million compared to a loss of $9.4 million in the year-ago period. Second quarter results were positively impacted by complementary products category sales, gross margins, and early synergy benefits attributable to the purchase of Allied.

May 16, 2018

Home Depot Sales Rise

The Home Depot had sales of $24.9 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2018, a 4.4 per cent increase from sales of $23.9 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2017. Comparable sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 were positive 4.2 per cent, and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 3.9 per cent. Net earnings were $2.4 billion, an increase of 19.4 per cent compared with net earnings of $2 billion in the year-ago period. Online sales growth increased 20 per cent over the previous corresponding period. Categories that were at or above the company average include lumber, building materials, flooring, paint, hardware, and tools. Strong pro categories include lumber, gypsum, insulation, and pneumatics.

Groupe BMR Launches Show For Overseas Suppliers

Groupe BMR is holding an ‘Imports and Seasonal Trade Show’ to compensate for its overseas suppliers’ increasingly long delivery times and to make sure BMR dealers receive their merchandise well on time for spring. Among the categories dealers will find at the show are patio furniture, barbeques and accessories, and garden lights, decorations, and accessories. It takes place August 28 to 29 in Boucherville, QC, and is not open to the public.

Castle Celebrates 55 Years Of Success

On May 10, Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. hosted an open house in its Mississauga, ON, offices to celebrate its 55th anniversary. Approximately 200 guests from across Canada including the Castle board of directors, members, vendor partners, and present and past employees attended the event. The catered affair included gourmet food stations, a live jazz duo, giveaways, and concluded with a presentation. Ken Jenkins, president; James Jones, vice-president of national marketing; and Keith Richardson, chairman and owner of Keith’s Building Supplies in New Brunswick; addressed the crowd and unveiled a $5,000 donation to the Hospital For Sick Children to commemorate the event. Jenkins said that Castle’s success is built on strong partnerships and good people. For pictures of the event, visit Home Improvement Retailing’s Instagram Page

Stress Test Impacts Home Sales

Home sales across the country fell from March to April, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). National home sales fell 2.9 per cent from March to April while actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity fell 13.9 per cent. About 60 per cent of all local housing markets reported fewer sales, led by the Fraser Valley, BC; Calgary, AB; Ottawa, ON; and Montreal, QC. As well, the number of newly-listed homes declined 4.8 per cent in the period. “The stress-test that came into effect this year for homebuyers with more than a 20 per cent down payment continued to cast its shadow over sales activity in April,” says Barb Sukkau, president of CREA. The stress test has lowered sales activity and destabilized market balance for housing markets in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of newly-listed homes declined 4.8 per cent in April. Having reached a nine-year low for the month, new listings stood 12 per cent below the 10-year monthly moving average.

Smartphone Shopping Changing Retail

Smartphone shopping is expected to peak globally in the coming few years with 43 per cent of consumers already making purchases on their phone weekly, says a survey by Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab. On top of that, the majority of smartphone shoppers expect most people to have a personal shopping advisor within three years which will create an emerging demand for digital shopping assistants to help with purchase decisions. As well, 69 per cent of AR and VR users think technologies will give smartphones all the benefits of physical stores within three years. Ericsson says soon smartphone users will rely on digital assistants in their phones for aspirational shopping support, while simultaneously driving the use of smart home speakers for automation of routine household purchases. Selecting the type of shopping assistant for home and personal purchases will soon be more important than the actual purchase decision. For example, 63 per cent of smartphone shoppers want help with price comparisons – a likely role for a home restocking assistant. And 48 per cent want help making shopping decisions easy – a likely role for a personal shopping advisor.

Home, Building Products Drive Griffon Revenues

Griffon Corporation had revenue of $478.6 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 25 per cent from the second quarter of 2017. Home and building products (HBP) segment revenue increased 39 per cent year-over-year. Income from continuing operations was $2 million, even with the year-ago period. Segment-adjusted EBITDA was $43.8 million, an increase of 11 per cent year-over-year, primarily driven by HBP revenue growth. HBP had adjusted EBITDA of $39.8 million, an increase of 44 per cent compared to the prior-year quarter.

Hydroponics Segment Slows Scotts Miracle-Gro Sales

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company had sales of $1.01 billion for the second quarter of 2018, down seven per cent over sales of $1.08 billion in the second quarter of 2017. The U.S. consumer segment sales declined six per cent to $920.2 million for the quarter. Hawthorne segment sales for the hydroponics marketplace decreased 29 per cent to $41.8 million. Company-wide gross margin rates decreased 240 basis points to 40.4 per cent. Income from continuing operations was $152.7 million compared with $154.1 million in the year-ago period.

May 15, 2018

Lowe’s Canada To Convert Calgary RONA

The RONA Home and Garden store in Calgary, AB, will be converted to the Lowe’s banner. Lowe’s Canada has started an extensive renovation which is expected to be complete by the fall. The transformation will involve construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion. As well, the company will provide employees with extensive training focused on new product knowledge and customer service. The store will feature an enhanced product assortment including top brands and the introduction of appliances. It will also offer Lowe’s Canada’s private label brands. Services offered will include installation programs across many categories; protection plans for products such as appliances, tools, and outdoor power equipment; and an online program which includes click and collect for in-store pickup, local truck delivery, and parcel shipping.

Shopify To Open First Bricks-and-mortar Location

In a bid to attract and keep more retailers on its eCommerce platform, Shopify Inc.’s first brick-and-mortar location will open later this year. The Ottawa, ON-based company says that its first physical space for clients, a hub for retailers to get support for growing their business, will open in 2018. However, it has not disclosed a location. The physical space will cater to small businesses to collaborate or use for events or sell products for a few days. The company will also launch upgrades to its point-of-sale offerings, including in-store pickup, multi-channel return and exchange options, Apple and Google pay, and single-tap payments.

Consumers Want Personalized Content

Consumers are increasingly interested in content that reflects their personality type and is delivered in their preferred tone and style, says research by Reuters Plus. ‘The Content Connect II’ report reveals that 77 per cent of global consumers expect to see more personalized content in the future. In fact, branded content campaigns are more effective if they include personalized elements, with 63 per cent of consumers agreeing that personally relevant content improves how they feel about the brand associated with it and 58 per cent see brands in a more positive light if they provide them with content that matches their interests. As well, global consumers consider sponsored content more appealing if it is thought-provoking (64 per cent), imaginative (58 per cent), humorous (55 per cent), and innovative (51 per cent). Consumers are also open to new and innovative ways to engage with content, revealing a mix of appealing formats for consumers with short articles (64 per cent), in-depth analysis (60 per cent), video (55 per cent), and infographics (45 per cent) being the top choices. In terms of formats, 71 per cent of consumers interested in branded content would prefer to see their favourite brands sponsoring websites, site sections, or pages, whereas 57 per cent would prefer to see brands sponsoring articles on websites, webpages, or apps.

Visa, PayPal Extend Canadian Partnership

Visa and PayPal have extended their partnership to Canada to work collaboratively towards the acceleration the adoption of secure, reliable, and convenient digital and mobile payments for consumers and merchants in Canada. The partnership will allow consumers to pay with their Visa card at places that accept PayPal. Through collaboration between bank partners and PayPal, consumers will be able to add Visa cards into the PayPal digital wallet via other banking apps. It also enables PayPal to leverage Visa Direct (Visa's real-time payments solution), which allows Visa cardholders to more easily move funds from their PayPal account to an eligible Visa debit card in real-time.

Henkel Acquiring JemPak

Henkel has signed an agreement with Acasta Enterprises Inc. to acquire JemPak Corporation, Canada. JemPak Corporation is based in Concord, ON. With has sales of around $90 million per year, the company is focused on the Canadian and U.S. laundry and home care retailer brands business and offers products in categories such as automatic dishwashing, laundry caps, and fabric finishers. It operates two manufacturing sites.

Amazon.com Sales Strong

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $51 billion for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 43 per cent over net sales of $35.7 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Excluding the $1.6 billion favourable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 39 per cent compared with first quarter of 2017. Net sales for North America were $30.7 billion versus $21 billion. Operating income increased 92 per cent to $1.9 billion in the first quarter, compared with operating income of $1 billion. Net income was $1.6 billion compared with net income of $724 million.

Trex Sales Up 18 Per Cent

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $171 million for the first quarter of 2018, an 18 per cent increase over net sales of $145 million in the first quarter of 2017. Trex residential products net sales were up seven per cent to $155 million, with commercial products at $16 million. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 44.8 per cent, while gross margin for residential products expanded 260 basis points to 47.6 per cent. Net income for the quarter was $37 million, up 33 per cent from the net income of $28 million in the year-ago period.

May 14, 2018

NAFTA Exit Would Cost U.S. Retailers

The near-term cost to U.S. retailers of exiting NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is estimated at $15.8 billion, says a study by A.T. Kearney. ‘How NAFTA Affects U.S. Retail’ quantifies the impact of a potential withdrawal from the treaty and outlines what changes retailers should expect in the event that the U.S. exits from the pact. The report shows the American retail landscape is in danger of being undercut and quantifies direct and indirect margin impact across all sectors of retail. With the retail industry importing $182 billion of goods from NAFTA partners, the cost to retailers could amount to as much as $15.8 billion in added tariffs and reduced margins. Additionally, the impact on retail employment could be losses of over 100,000 jobs within the next three years. “NAFTA has dramatically influenced the U.S. economy, the retail sector, and Americans’ standard of living,” says Johan Gott, principal at A.T. Kearney and co-author of the study. “From the time it came into force, retailers have gradually become de facto importers because their customers demand the products that NAFTA allows them to purchase easily, affordably, and with great variety. Retailers, then, are agents without the protections that other importers enjoy.”

Canadian Tire To Acquire Workwear Brand

Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) plans to purchase the company, controlled by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which owns and operates the Helly Hansen brands and related businesses. Helly Hansen is a global brand in sportswear and workwear based in Oslo, Norway. Outdoor and workwear categories are core to CTC's retail banners and, through Mark's and FGL, the company has had a long history with Helly Hansen as one of its largest customers. This acquisition strengthens CTC's core businesses across multiple banners, increases its brand offerings in Canada and its ability to grow its brands internationally.

Small Business Not Utilizing Resources

Small business owners are not taking advantage of available resources to help their businesses innovate and grow, says a report by BMO Wealth Management. For example, 61 per cent of small businesses have not pursued governments grants to support innovation. Thirty-three per cent say this is because they do not want to incur debt, while 25 per cent say acquiring funding is too complicated. It found only 22 per cent were just afraid they would be declined. On top of that, the majority of Canadian small business owners (64 per cent) are not aware of the network of accelerators, incubators, and hubs that are available to help them innovate. This response was cited significantly more by women (74 per cent) than men (55 per cent). Of those that do implement innovation, meeting client needs was cited as the most important reason by 70 per cent. BMO recommends businesses join a support network because innovation works best when business owners with different opinions and backgrounds collaborate.

Lowe’s Canada To Sponsor Soccer Club

Lowe’s Canada has entered into a platinum partnership with Club de soccer Boucherville in Quebec for the 2018 and 2019 soccer seasons. As of the 2018 soccer season kickoff on May 11, the Lowe’s Canada logo will be featured on the jerseys of the local U7 to U21 teams as well as those of the senior competitive teams. Lowe’s Canada will also be present at the club’s two tournaments — La Classique and La Surboum — to meet the players and their families.

JELD-WEN Sees Growth

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. had net revenues of $946.2 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 11.6 per cent over net revenues of $847.9 million in the first quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was $40.3 million, an increase of $33.8 million compared to net income of $6.4 million in the same quarter last year. Adjusted net income was $33 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $87.8 million, an increase of 8.5 per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $81 million in the year-ago period. Earnings margins decreased 20 basis points year-over-year to 9.3 per cent from 9.5 per cent last year. North America revenues increased 2.8 per cent year-over-year, partially due to the acquisition of MMI Door.

Strong Sales For Foundation Building Materials

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $536.3 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 11.9 per cent over consolidated net sales of $479.5 million in the first quarter of 2017. Consolidated gross profit for the quarter was $154.4 million compared to $139.9 million a year ago, representing an increase of 10.4 per cent. Consolidated gross margin was 28.8 per cent compared to 29.2 per cent last year. Net loss was $1.1 million, a decrease of $5 million compared to net income of $3.9 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $35 million and adjusted EBITDA margin was 6.5 per cent for the quarter.

May 11, 2018

Canadian Tire Has Continued Momentum

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited consolidated retail sales increased $164.4 million or 6.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2018. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were up 5.1 per cent over the same period last year. Consolidated revenue increased $93.5 million, or 3.4 per cent; excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue increased $42.4 million, or 1.8 per cent in the quarter. The retail segment revenue increased 2.8 per cent for the quarter; excluding petroleum, retail segment revenue increased 0.8 per cent. The retail margin rate, excluding petroleum, increased 74 bps. Income before income taxes decreased $21.4 million or 48.1 per cent. Retail sales increased six per cent and same-store sales were up 5.8 per cent.

Fourth Quarter Building Materials Margins Strong

The Retail Services Price Index (RSPI) increased 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter. The growth was a result of higher margins at general merchandise stores, gasoline stations, and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, says Statistics Canada. Margins were up in six of the 10 major retail subsectors, representing 53 per cent of the retail sector surveyed. Retailers at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers posted margin gains of 1.7 per cent. The growth was concentrated in home centres. Margins in this industry have increased more than 30 per cent since the first quarter of 2012. The RSPI increased two per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2016, with retailers in eight of the 10 major retail subsectors posting gains.

Lowe’s Canada Opens 23rd Reno-Depot Store

Lowe’s Canada opened its 23rd Reno-Depot store in Canada in Charlemagne, QC. This former L’Entrepôt RONA converted to the Reno-Depot banner and is the result of an investment in excess of $3.7 million. The store underwent a major 12-week transformation which involved redesigning all departments, installing new racking, adding enhanced offerings, and implementing the branding conversion. This is the second Reno-Depot store to open under the company’s improved model. It includes the “essence of a conventional Reno-Depot store, the value-added RONA products and services that our local customers love, as well as new product categories, particularly in the appliances and seasonal departments,” says Guy Beaumier, executive vice-president, big box, at Lowe’s Canada. The approximately 160,000-square-foot store includes an 87,000-square-foot sales floor, a 36,000-square-foot indoor lumberyard with drive-through, a 25,000-square-foot garden centre, and a 17,000-square-foot outdoor lumberyard.

Nicholson and Cates To Distribute JELD-WEN Panels

Nicholson and Cates Limited has formed a distribution partnership with JELD-WEN to distribute Extira exterior panels in Ontario. Extira panels are specifically designed and manufactured for interior and exterior projects for high moisture environments. It is rot and termite resistant and is available unprimed and sanded both sides with no voids or resin pockets. The product can be used for virtually any non-structural paint-grade application including exterior millwork, door and window parts, signage, garage doors, and architectural components. Nicholson and Cates will inventory a wide variety of popular widths and sizes, with additional sizes available by special order. For information, call 1-800-263-6223

Arrow Fastener To Relaunch Brands

As part of Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial Company, Arrow Fastener will relaunch its Pony and Jorgensen adjustable clamping brands and Goldblatt tile, drywall, concrete, and masonry tools to the North American marketplace in mid-2018. GreatStar, based in Hangzhou, China, is one of the largest hand tool manufacturers in Asia. It manufactures products for DIY, professional, and industrial markets globally. Arrow’s New Jersey facility will become a primary distribution centre for Pony, Jorgensen, and Goldblatt products, in addition to the company’s current product line. Over the past 18 months, GreatStar has been recreating the Pony and Jorgensen products at its manufacturing centres in China. Of the original 500 SKUs, GreatStar is recreating the 200 top sellers. These are the products which will support the reintroduction of the brands.

Nova Scotia Home Dealer Receives Award

Mike Wilson, dealer-owner of Wilson’s Home Hardware Building Centre in Barrington Passage, NS, was awarded the ‘2018 Young Retailer of the Year Award’ by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). This national recognition program, now in its 22nd year, identifies and promotes the next generation of aspiring independent home improvement retailers and recognizes individual achievement in the industry by retailers 35 years of age or younger throughout the U.S. and Canada. Selected from different retail categories, honourees are chosen based on wide-ranging criteria such as career accomplishments, community involvement, ongoing education within the hardware industry and extracurricular activities. Wilson was one of the hardware industry’s eight award recipients and won under the category for annual sales over $2 million.

Prices Drive Norbord Earnings

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $170 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 65 per cent versus $103 million in the first quarter of 2017. The company says the improvement is primarily due to higher North American oriented strand board (OSB) prices and shipment volumes, as well as higher European panel prices. North American operations generated adjusted EBITDA of $156 million compared to $102 million. Adjusted earnings were $96 million in the quarter versus $50 million in the year-ago period. The company notes that the western Canadian OSB benchmark price increased 41 per cent through the first quarter of 2018 and finished the quarter on par with the North Central benchmark, demonstrating the tightness in that region as the spring building season commences.

Taiga Has Double Digit Sales Increase

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had sales of $324.6 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 13 per cent over sales of $286.1 million in the first quarter of 2017. Gross margin dollars for the quarter increased to $30.8 million compared to $24.2 million last year. Net earnings were $6.8 million, up from $200,000 in the same period last year. EBITDA was $11.5 million compared to $7.8 million.

May 10, 2018

Ontario To Revoke Holiday Pay Calculation Rule

The Ontario government will reverse an amendment on the calculation of public holiday pay, says a Blakes ‘Business Class’ bulletin. The Bill 148 amendment, which came into force in January, was highly criticized by employers as costly and confusing. For example, the Bill 148 calculation required the payment of a full day of pay to any part-time worker who worked just one day in the pay period preceding the holiday. If that part-time worker had two part-time jobs and worked one day at each job in the preceding pay period, he or she would receive two days of pay for one public holiday. Ontario Regulation 375/18 will revert to the prior calculation for public holiday pay in Ontario for provincially regulated employers. In other words, public holiday pay will be calculated as the total amount of regular wages earned and vacation pay payable to the employee in the four work weeks before the work week in which the public holiday occurred, divided by 20. This regulation does not come into force until July 1, however. The current rules will apply to the Victoria Day weekend.

Building Permits Back Up

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities increased 3.1 per cent to $8.4 billion in March, following a 2.8 per cent decline in February, says Statistics Canada. The rise was mainly the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia and, to a lesser extent, by the commercial component. Municipalities issued $5.4 billion worth of residential building permits for the month, up 2.3 per cent from February. A notable increase in the multi-family component more than offset lower construction intentions for single-family dwellings. Although eight provinces reported declines in the residential sector in March, higher construction intentions in Quebec ($373.8 million) and British Columbia ($179.5 million) raised the national total. Conversely, single-family construction intentions fell 7.9 per cent to $2.4 billion in March, with Ontario posting the largest decline (13.7 per cent or $153.1 million). The value of building permits for non-residential structures rose 4.5 per cent to $3 billion in March, after a 6.4 per cent decline in February.

Castle Grows In Eastern Ontario

North Dundas Building Supplies has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. The store, located midway between Ottawa and Morrisburg, ON, will serve the lumber and building material needs of the surrounding communities including Chesterville and Winchester. The retailer will offer a full line of lumber and building material products. New owners David Nyentap and Stacy Duguay, from Russell, ON, recently purchased this former lumberyard location and are looking forward to returning it to its original retail roots and adding a new storefront design.

JELD-WEN Canada Wins Energy Award

For the third time in three years, JELD-WEN Canada has been recognized as the ENERGY STAR ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ for the window and door category. It has earned the award because the unique, climate-based challenges that are seen from coast-to-coast in this country demand windows and doors of a certain standard and through relentless research and development, as well as a focused product improvement and JELD-WEN continues to design and manufacture products for this environment. ENERGY STAR is a voluntary Canadian initiative designed to help consumers identify which products are the most energy efficient

SANIFLO Celebrates 30 Years In Canada

SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, is celebrating its 30th year in Canada and 60 years in business. Since its inception in 1958, Group SFA, the parent company of SANIFLO, has been expanding its offering of plumbing solutions. The company started with manufacturing macerator and grinder toilet systems. Today, SANIFLO offers a wide range of macerators, grinders, drain-water pumps, and condensate pumps for both residential and commercial applications.

Poul Has New Role

Mojdeh Poul is vice-president, safety and graphics business group, with 3M, effective July 1. She is currently president and general manager, 3M Canada Company. She replaces Frank Little, who is retiring.

Sales Climb For LP

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had sales of $691 million for the first quarter of 2018, a 13 per cent increase over sales of $611 million in the first quarter of 2017. Income from continuing operations was $95 million for the quarter compared to $55 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted income from continuing operations was $93 million and adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations was $159 million compared to $114 million last year. The siding segment had net sales of $227 million for the quarter compared to $214 million. The oriented strand board (OSB) segment had net sales of $313 million compared to $268 million a year ago. The engineered wood products segment (EWP) had net sales of $101 million versus $82 million.

Boise Cascade Income Rises

Boise Cascade Company had net income of $37.1 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 270 per cent over net income of $10 million in the first quarter of 2017. Sales for the quarter were $1.2 billion, up 21 per cent over sales of $974 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $73.4 million compared to $40.5 million last year. The wood products segment had sales of $398 million, up 22 per cent over sales of $326 million. EBITDA for the segment was up 94 per cent. The building materials distribution segment had sales of $992 million, up 22 per cent over sales of $816 million. EBITDA for the segment was up 54 per cent.

May 9, 2018

Housing Start Trend Stable

The trend in housing starts was 225,696 units in April 2018, compared to 226,942 units in March 2018, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 214,379 units in April, down from 225,459 units in March. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 4.7 per cent in April to 198,090 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 2.7 per cent to 141,032 units in April while single-detached urban starts decreased by 9.3 per cent to 57,058 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,289 units. “In April, the national trend in housing starts remained stable at historically elevated levels, with lower starts of single-detached dwellings offsetting higher starts of multi-unit dwellings,” says Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “Notably, the national inventory of newly completed and unabsorbed multi-unit dwellings has been stable over the same period, indicating that demand for this type of unit has absorbed increased supply.”

Groupe BMR Rolling Out Digital Shelf Edge System

Groupe BMR is rolling out the Pricer digital shelf edge system in an additional 20 stores. Further waves of 20 store deployments are expected to follow in 2019 and 2020. In collaboration with JRTech Solutions Inc., a Canadian reseller of the Pricer electronic label technology, Groupe BMR has installed Pricer electronic label technology in more than 40 of its stores since 2010. “Electronic tags are essential to our digital strategy,” says Pierre Nolet, vice-president of development at Groupe BMR. “We are convinced that these investments will help our merchants in their day-to-day operations, particularly by optimizing the workflow of our experts on the floor and enabling them to better serve customers while minimizing the risk of errors.”

Mississauga Resident Wins Home Hardware Toyota Giveaway

A Mississauga, ON, resident is the winner of the Home Hardware and Toyota Winter Giveaway online contest. Joelle Zananiri received the keys to a 2018 Toyota Corolla SE CVT at Maplegrove Home Hardware in Oakville, ON. The contest ran from December 11 to February 14. There was no purchase necessary to enter the contest.

Kinnaird Earns Distinguished Retailer Award

Jeff Kinnaird, president of the Home Depot Canada, and his team are the recipient of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) ‘Excellence in Retailing 2018 Distinguished Retail of the Year Award.’ The award recognizes a retail leader that has led their company to outstanding business success and innovation and has consistently demonstrated community commitment and support. Kinnaird is responsible for overseeing the sales and operations of 182 stores and approximately 30,000 associates. In 1996, he joined the Home Depot as a lumber associate and worked his way through various roles including store manager, regional vice-president of operations, and vice-president of merchandising. He was appointed president of the Home Depot Canada in 2016. The award will be presented May 29 at the RCC gala which closes the first day of its ‘STORE 2018’ conference which takes place May 29 and 30 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit https://www.storeconference.ca/

Resolute Back In Black

Resolute Forest Products Inc. had net income of $10 million for the first quarter of 2018, compared to a net loss of $47 million in the first quarter of 2017. Sales were $874 million in the quarter, an increase of $2 million from the first quarter of 2017. Operating income was $48 million compared to $53 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. The wood products segment had operating income of $53 million in the quarter, compared to $57 million in the previous quarter. EBITDA for the segment was $61 million, or $134 per thousand board feet, compared to $65 million, or $139 per thousand board feet, in the fourth quarter.

Sales Climb At Huttig

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $198 million in the first quarter of 2018, which was $22.3 million, or 13 per cent, higher than net sales for the first quarter of 2017. Millwork product sales increased four per cent in the quarter to $95.3 million compared to $91.9 million. Building products sales increased 26 per cent to $85.5 million, compared to $68.1 million in the year-ago period. Wood product sales increased 10 per cent to $17.2 million compared to $15.7 million. Gross margin was $38.7 million in the first quarter compared to $35.5 million in the same period last year. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 19.5 per cent compared to 20.2 per cent a year ago. The company had a net loss of $500,000 from continuing operations versus $900,000 last year, and adjusted EBITDA was $1.4 million versus $100,000.

May 8, 2018

Business Confidence Slides

Business leaders are becoming more pessimistic about the state of the Canadian economy finds the Conference Board of Canada's latest ‘Index of Business Confidence.’ It shows that business confidence fell 6.9 points to 93.1 in the first quarter of 2018, the lowest level in the last six quarters. A number of factors are contributing to this pessimism. Businesses do not expect the rapid sales growth they saw in 2017 to continue. They state concern about the impact of government policy on business competitiveness and about the availability of labour. They also report increased concern about the competitiveness of the Canadian economy in the face of U.S. tax cuts, a weak Canadian dollar, and an uncertain future for NAFTA. Much of the decline in the index came from significantly weaker investment intentions and financial expectations. The share of firms that believe now is a good time to invest in machinery and equipment (M&E) declined dramatically from 52 per cent to 34 per cent. At the same time, the share that believe now is a bad time to invest in M&E rose. This increase may be due in part to firms' expectations about their financial position. Fewer firms are expecting sales to perform as well as they have in the past and their financial position to improve in the next six months.

U.S. Building Projects Increase

The Dodge Momentum Index jumped 6.1 per cent in April to 163 from the revised March reading of 153.7. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. Both components of the index moved higher in April, with the commercial component up 6.3 per cent and the institutional component up 5.8 per cent. Over the last two months the commercial portion has posted the most aggressive growth, fueled by continued low vacancy rates for commercial buildings as well as the potential benefits from the U.S. tax cuts passed in December. The gains for the institutional component, while healthy, have been more moderate reflecting the ebb and flow of public funding for larger education and public building projects.

Gen Z Shoppers Like Instore Experiences

Generation Zers (18- to 24-year-olds) are using their retail experience to socialize, interact, and be entertained, says PWC Canada in its ‘Canadian Consumer Insights: Retail Evolution Report.’ Despite the perceived rapid growth of online sales, this segment still only represents 8.1 per cent of core retail sales in Canada. In fact, the report shows that customers overall continue to spend their disposable income in physical stores, where they can have a more engaging in-person experience versus online shopping. Fifty-eight per cent of consumers prefer to spend their disposable income on products, while 42 per cent spend it on experiences. Of those, Gen Zers prefer spending their money on experiences like socializing with family and friends (71 per cent), events (55 per cent), and travelling/vacations (51 per cent). “Stores are moving away from shelves and registers to create entertaining and engaging retail spaces,” says Myles Gooding, national retail leader with PwC Canada. “In a bid to continue to attract the next generation of consumers to physical stores, retailers are focused on creating ‘showroom’ spaces where customers can enjoy experiences and interact with the product. Generation Z customers indicate they will keep coming back to their favourite brands because of the full in-store experience.”

Giant Tiger Opens In Manitoba

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Steinbach, MB. The 16,000-square-foot store is stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

KNIPEX Makes Changes

Sean Loomis is sales manager with KNIPEX Tools. He is responsible for the strategic direction of sales development in the western regions of Canada and the U.S. He has more than 20 years of industry sales experience. Sarah Cavallo is account manager for the eCommerce division. Previously, she was an eCommerce sales and support specialist.

Sales Steady At Clorox

The Clorox Company had sales growth of three per cent in the third quarter of its fiscal 2018 year over the third quarter in 2017. Gross margin decreased 120 basis points to 42.8 per cent for the quarter from 44 per cent in the year-ago quarter. Earnings from continuing operations were $181 million compared to $172 million in the year-ago quarter. Year-to-date net cash from continuing operations increased 19 per cent to $574 million compared with $483 million last year. The cleaning segment has a sales increase of three per cent year-over-year; the household segment has a sales increase of one per cent; lifestyle has a sales increase of two per cent; and international had a sales increase of four per cent.

Masonite Sales Rise

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $518 million for the first quarter of 2018, a six per cent increase over net sales of $487 million in the first quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was $21 million versus $24 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA increased 17 per cent to $61 million versus $53 million. North American residential net sales were $360 million, a six per cent increase over the first quarter of 2017. Architectural net sales were $67 million, a seven per cent decrease from the year-ago period. Total company gross profit increased 10 per cent to $105 million compared to $96 million last year. Gross profit margin increased 80 basis points to 20.4 per cent.

May 7, 2018

Montreal Residential Sales Remain Strong

A total of 5,432 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in April, a 10 per cent increase over sales in April 2017, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the 38th consecutive increase in sales and the best month of April in eight years. Apart from Vaudreuil-Soulanges, where sales were unchanged compared to April last year, all of the other main areas of the Montreal CMA registered a significant increase in sales. Suburban areas led the way as sales rose by 15 per cent on the South Shore, by 13 per cent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and by 12 per cent in Laval and on the North Shore. As for the Island of Montréal, sales increased by six per cent. Condominium sales soared once again with an 18 per cent increase in transactions. In fact, this was the 12th consecutive month of double-digit sales growth for this property category. Single-family homes and plexes both registered a six per cent increase in sales compared to April of last year. Across the Montreal CMA, there were 25,466 active residential listings in the Centris system in April, a 17 per cent drop compared to April of 2017.

Local Stores Win Last Minute Purchases

Even with some eCommerce giants offering same or one-day delivery, consumers are still turning to local stores when they’re in a pinch for an item, finds a study by marketing technology company Netsertive. The study shows that 43 per cent of people always turn to a local store when they need a product within two to three days, while another 28 per cent say they are evenly split between visiting a store and using an eCommerce website. The study also confirms that consumers are turning to online channels to research products before even entering a store. Sixty-eight per cent of surveyed use Google to evaluate local businesses and 72 per cent use online reviews. Another 80 per cent always research big-ticket items (refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) online before purchasing these items instore. Netsertive recommends small businesses utilize ‘Google My Business’ to confirm their business listing is correct and will appear in ‘near me’ searches. Small and local retailers should leverage intelligent digital marketing strategies to engage customers online throughout their path to purchase.

Clopay To Acquire CornellCookson

Griffon Corporation’s subsidiary, Clopay Building Products Company, Inc., plans to acquire CornellCookson, Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of rolling steel door and grille products for commercial, industrial, institutional, and retail use. “CornellCookson is a highly strategic addition to Griffon’s home and building products segment, complementing Clopay’s existing portfolio of residential and commercial sectional doors with leading brands and products,” says Ronald J. Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer at Griffon. “This acquisition will expand our existing footprint in the commercial channel and strengthen our relationships with professional dealers and installers.” The transaction is expected to close in June.

Malone Named President

Valerie Malone is president and general manager of LIXIL Canada Inc., home to the American Standard, DXV, and GROHE kitchen and bath brands. She joined LIXIL in May 2017 and has experience in different verticals and industries with a host of high-profile organizations including Whirlpool Corporation and LG Electronics.

Lumber Liquidators Sales Rise

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $261.8 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 5.4 per cent over net sales of $248.4 million in the first quarter of 2017. Net sales in comparable stores increased 2.9 per cent. Gross margin increased to 36.3 per cent in the quarter from 34.9 per cent in the year-ago period. Operating loss was $1.4 million compared to an operating loss of $25.4 million last year. Net loss for the quarter was $2 million compared to a net loss of $26.4 million a year ago.

Simpson Manufacturing Sales Up

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had consolidated net sales of $244.8 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent over consolidated net sales of $219.9 million in the first quarter of 2017. North American net sales rose 12 per cent to $206.2 million year-over-year. Consolidated gross profit for the quarter was $108.5 million, up eight per cent compared to consolidated gross profit of $100.2 million. Gross profit margin decreased to 44.3 per cent from 45.6 per cent. Consolidated net income was $25.4 million compared to net income of $23.1 million.

May 4, 2018

Davis Named Home Hardware President

Terry Davis is president and chief executive officer of Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, he was chief executive officer. He succeeds Paul Straus, who is retiring but will remain a consultant to the company. Davis joined Home Hardware more than four decades ago in a junior warehouse position in the distribution centre in St. Jacobs, ON.

Jenkins: Stand Up To Government Overspending

Governments seem to have the luxury of deficit financing and racking up losses year after year, but something needs to be done about it, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says that businesses don’t have that same luxury and their decisions must be insightful with no margin for error. Governments don’t appear to be held to the same rules. “There appears to be no end in sight to governments’ over-spending, nor is there any timetable for balancing the books,” he says. He wants businesses and people to stand up against these debts and the lack of promises to fix them. “As business leaders, entrepreneurs, and valued employees, now more than ever, our voices need to be heard. Piling on additional corporate and personal taxation are short-term, short-sighted instruments of political ideology that serve to polarize political positions. The delta that is forming here in North America between Canadian and U.S. tax bases, both personally and corporately, is tipping the balance of competitiveness against our country.”

Crown Windows Joins Deceuninck

Crown Windows, a division of Earthwise Group member D&W Windows, has joined Deceuninck Commercial Alliance. Deceuninck says the newest member strengthens its Commercial Alliance and its ability to provide solutions to its growing list of commercial customers. Through the Commercial Alliance, Deceuninck is collaborating with window fabrication companies to develop industry-leading window and door system profiles that surpass energy efficiency standards, provide many colour options, and deliver visually appealing design.

USG Board Authorizes Negotiations With Knauf

USG Corporation’s board of directors has authorized management to commence negotiations with Gebr. Knauf KG regarding a potential sale of the company. The USG board says it remains committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders and will evaluate all options to do so. USG has advised Knauf that it is prepared to agree to a customary confidentiality agreement to facilitate sharing appropriate due diligence information. The board believes that by entering into negotiations and exchanging certain information, Knauf should be able to identify additional sources of value in combining the businesses and will see value in excess of its most recent proposal. However, USG states there is no assurance that the negotiation process will result in any transaction.

Armstrong First Quarter Sales Grow

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $227.3 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 3.4 per cent over net sales of $219.8 million in the first quarter of 2017. Operating income for the quarter was $49.6 million, a 13.4 per cent decrease over operating income of $57.3 million in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations was $41.2 million compared to $35.5 million, an increase of 16.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $79 million compared $75 million, an increase of 4.8 per cent year-over-year. The company had strong growth (69.8 per cent adjusted EBITDA) in its architectural specialties segment with a 22 per cent increase in sales year-over-year.

Huttig Net Sales Grow

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $198 million in the first quarter of 2018 which ended March 31. This was $22.3 million, or 13 per cent, higher than the first quarter of 2017. The increase in net sales was primarily attributed to an eight per cent increase in new residential construction activity as well as growth derived from the execution of its strategies. Building products sales increased 26 per cent in the quarter to $85.5 million, compared to $68.1 million in the first quarter of 2017, primarily attributed to higher sales of the Huttig-Grip product line. Wood product sales increased 10 per cent in the first quarter to $17.2 million, compared to $15.7 million in the first quarter of 2017.

May 3, 2018

Home Depot Climbs Brand Trust Index

Home Depot climbed from 37th place in 2017 to eighth place in the 2018 ‘Gustavson Brand Trust Index,’ while Costco Wholesale maintained its third-place position and IKEA maintained its fifth-place position. This is the fourth annual index by the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria in British Columbia that analyzes the brands most trusted by Canadians, highlighting how shared values, relationship management, and customer experience influence customer trust. CAA led the index in first place, followed by MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) in second place. Canadian Tire placed 22nd, Home Hardware Stores Limited placed 24th, and RONA/Lowe’s Canada placed 31st. “Trust is an important driver of consumer purchasing decisions,” says Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “Our index highlights the continued success of some of Canada's best-known brands, but it also serves to highlight the impact of failing to meet consumer expectations and the rebound of brands who have faltered on consumer trust in the past.”

Predispositions Drive Consumer Decisions

Consumers, in order to simplify and accelerate the decision-making process, rely on certain predispositions while, at the same time, keeping an open mind to strong evidence for making an alternative choice, finds a study by UCL School of Management and the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Although ‘quality’ is the key non-price consideration driving consumer purchase decisions, consumers often lack knowledge and encounter missing or conflicting information about product quality, says the study. It is also difficult to evaluate the quality of certain products or service prior to purchase, yet the consumer must, nonetheless, make a choice. This is particularly the case when consumers are faced with decisions when product quality is ambiguous. The study shows that, more often than not, a predisposition (an initial preference for a product based on familiarity, positive associations, affect, prior experience, or something else) will drive decision-making unless and until compelling evidence on product quality is presented to change that decision. So, while a predisposition towards a product creates a competitive advantage, it can be overturned by evidence. If a competing product can demonstrate sufficiently higher quality or offer a sufficiently lower price – or some combination – the consumer will often tend to make a rational decision.

Castle Launches Social Media Channels

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has launched several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram channels. The company says the launches are to continue to enhance its commitment to connection. “We look forward to enhanced engagement and sharing content with our valued members, vendor partners, and the communities they serve across the country,” it says

Sherwin-Williams Launches Applicator Certification

Sherwin-Williams Industrial Wood Coatings has launched its assured applicator certification program for factory finishers of wood and composite siding. The certification is intended to promote quality-driven factory finishers that enable manufacturers of wood and composite siding to deliver long-lasting, high-quality building products. To achieve the certification, a factory finisher must undergo a detailed audit of its finishing line, coating system, and standard operating procedures. They will be required to undergo an annual recertification audit to maintain their certified status.

Brault Enters Maritimes

Brault Roofing will now have a physical presence in the Maritimes. Brault Roofing has been in the business in Quebec since 1949. It is a 70-year-old, 3rd generation, family business that focuses on the commercial, industrial, and institutional roofing markets. It offers a wide variety of roofing solutions.

May 2, 2018

Canadian Retail Sales Cooling Off

Last year, total Canadian retail sales growth was up 6.7 per cent, a 20-year high. But the latest numbers show that sales gained 4.1 per cent year-over-year in the first two months of 2018, which is significantly less, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. He says this soft patch appears to have started last December. As a result, the three-month growth trend has sunk to a level lower than at any point last year. The underlying 12-month growth trend has now peaked out and is due to soften even more going forward. On top of that, poor spring weather across much of the country does not bode well for retail sales results in the next few months, he says. Overall, eCommerce represented about two per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending February 2018. eCommerce sales were up 12.8 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending February. This, however, is significantly less than the 27.4 per cent annual increase recorded for 2017 over 2016, implying that eCommerce sales growth may be slowing down.

Canac Opens 27th Store

Canac has opened its 27th store in Thetford Mines, QC. The 40,000-square-foot store will offer a variety of hardware and building materials and seasonal and décor products. It will also offer paint colouring, telephone orders, estimates for builders, delivery, and several institutional and commercial services. There is a dedicated space for contractors and a 30,000-square-foot covered warehouse is planned for the lot.

Resolute Invests In La Doré Facilities

Resolute Forest Products Inc. will invest almost $13 million in its La Doré wood products facility, located in the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. The investments will be used to integrate new technologies into the manufacturing processes to sustain the facility's performance in an ever-changing competitive environment. The company says that through these investments, energy efficiency will be improved as operational processes are modernized. Resolute will rebuild the infeed section of the sawmill and add multiple programmable logic controllers. It will also launch a lumber packaging system in the planer mill and add two electric boilers to generate the quantity of steam required for drying.

Potential Homebuyers Face Many Obstacles

Although 84 per cent of Canadian Millennials consider home ownership an important life milestone, they are faced with obstacles such as new policy measures, increasing home prices, and a rising interest rate environment, says the ‘Zoocasa Housing Survey Report.’ The report shows that 30 per cent of all Canadians find buying a home is more stressful than saving for retirement. Forty-two per cent of aspiring home buyers say rising real estate prices is the top obstacle for purchasing, down from 54 per cent in 2017. Meanwhile, 38 per cent of renters who plan on buying a property in the future have less than $5,000 saved towards a down payment. Fifty-six per cent of buyers who purchased a home within the last 12 months say that rising interest rates had no impact on their timeline and 61 per cent of Canadians perceive real estate to be a better investment than the stock market.

Nussey Joins Lightspeed

Brandon Nussey is chief financial officer of point-of-sale solution company Lightspeed. For the past eight years, he served as the chief financial officer at D2L Inc., an SaaS-based education technology provider.

Spectrum Sales Rise Slightly

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $766.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 1.3 per cent over net sales of $756.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Organic net sales decreased 3.7 per cent versus the prior year. Net income from continuing operations of $800,000 in the quarter decreased compared to net income from continuing operations of $39.9 million. Operating income was $43.2 million, down 58.9 per cent versus $105.1 million last year. Operating income margin of 5.6 per cent decreased 830 basis points versus 13.9 per cent last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $115.6 million in the quarter, down 27.8 per cent compared to $160.2 million. Adjusted EBITDA margin of 15.1 per cent decreased 610 basis points compared to 21.2 per cent in fiscal 2017.

May 1, 2018

Walmart To Sell British Unit

Walmart will sell its British unit, Asda, to Sainsbury’s to focus on online sales in countries with higher growth and less intense competition. The retailer is building fewer big stores and increasing its focus on internet businesses as consumers increasingly turn to online shopping. The proposed merger is “consistent with our strategy of looking for new ways to drive international growth,” says Judith McKenna, chief executive officer of Walmart’s international business. However, the retailer isn’t exiting the British business altogether. After the transaction, it will own 42 per cent of the combined company but with only 29.9 per cent of the voting rights.

Canadian Tire Launches Spring Outdoor Line

Canadian Tire has launched a new line of Canvas outdoor products for spring. The collection, which has been in the design stages for two years, includes a variety of practical, durable, yet stylish and colourful array of outdoor furniture and décor products, says Tracy Platt, assistant vice-president of product development. Teak, grey, granite, marble, and deep coloured floral patterns were some of the dominant themes. The new lines offered brass and copper accessories, wicker and indigo furniture, outdoor fabrics, and features that make spaces useful and efficient. “It’s all about mixing and matching,” says Platt. As well, she says the lines between inside and outside the home are starting to shrink, so people are stepping it up when decorating their outdoor spaces. To view images of the collection, visit the Home Improvement Retailing Instagram page.

RONA Teams With Tagliani

RONA, a banner of Lowe’s Canada, will become a main sponsor of race car driver Alex Tagliani for the 2018 and 2019 seasons of the NASCAR Pinty’s series. Tagliani’s new No. 18 car with the RONA logo was unveiled at the official opening of the Quebec City Auto Sport Show on April 27. The driver took this opportunity to reveal the details of a nationwide contest that will run throughout the 2018 racing season and put contestants’ driving skills to the test.

Confidence Index Improves

The Conference Board’s ‘Consumer Confidence Index’ increased in April in the U.S., following a decline in March. The index now stands at 128.7 (1985=100), up from 127 in March. The Present ‘Situation Index’ increased from 158.1 to 159.6, while the ‘Expectations Index’ improved from 106.2 last month to 108.1 this month. “Consumer confidence increased moderately in April after a decline in March,” says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved somewhat, with consumers rating both business and labour market conditions quite favourably. Consumers’ short-term expectations also improved, with the percent of consumers expecting their incomes to decline over the coming months reaching its lowest level since December 2000 (six per cent). Overall, confidence levels remain strong and suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the months ahead.” Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved modestly in April. The percentage saying business conditions are ‘good” decreased from 37.6 per cent to 35.2 per cent. However, those claiming business conditions are ‘bad’ also decreased, from 13.3 per cent to 11.3 per cent.

WRLA Names Event Manager

Jessica Cranmer is trade show and events manager with WRLA. She has more than 15 years of experience in event management and community relations and has served as an event specialist at some of the top charities in Manitoba.

April 30, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Celebrates 100th Ace Dealer Store

Lowe’s Canada is celebrating the opening of its 100th Ace dealer store. Located in Owen Sound, ON, Owen Sound Ace Country & Garden is owned by the Huron Bay Co-operative. To support affiliate dealers, Lowe’s Canada carried out several value-driven initiatives over the past two years. These included the integration of the Ace distribution and business centres into existing Lowe’s Canada facilities in February 2017 which allowed the company to offer Ace dealers lower prices, better support, and an enhanced product offering. Lowe’s Canada also launched the Ace Canada transactional website in the fall of 2017 as part of its omnichannel strategy. This platform provides Ace customers with a fast and easy ‘click & collect’ service for all dealer locations in the country. With this service, Ace dealers can offer an even wider product selection to their customers, without putting added pressure on their inventory costs and storage capacity. To mark the milestone, Ace Canada will host a celebration at the Owen Sound store from June 21 to June 23 and online on June 23.

Coaldale Home Hardware Opens In New Location

Coaldale Home Hardware Building Centre has officially opened its doors at its new location in Coaldale, AB. The store features an expanded product assortment and will be operated by dealer-owner Mark Heinen. The retailer has added an additional 20,000 square feet of retail space – bringing it up to 28,000 square feet – giving customers access to over 55,000 quality brand name and private label products as well as a drive-through lumber yard.

Giant Tiger Opens Renfrew Location

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Renfrew, ON. The 20,000-square-foot store will be stocked with family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities. Store owner Sandy Brown held a charitable barbecue for the grand opening on April 28. Proceeds went to the Renfrew Food Bank.

Spectrum Makes Changes

David M. Maura is chief executive officer of the company Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. He is also executive chairman and succeeds Andreas Rouvé, who has stepped down as CEO and a director. Randal D. Lewis is president of the consumer products group. The Consumer Products group will be comprised of the pet supplies, home and garden, and auto care businesses while the hardware and home improvement division will be comprised of the security, plumbing, and builders’ hardware businesses. The company will organize globally around these two divisions.

3M Sales Increase

3M sales for the first quarter were $8.3 billion, an increase of 7.7 per cent over sales in the first quarter of 2017. Total sales grew 15 per cent in safety and graphics, 7.1 per cent in industrial, five per cent in consumer, and 4.6 per cent in electronics and energy. Total sales for Latin America/Canada grew 4.3 per cent year-over-year. Operating income for the first quarter was $1 billion, with operating margins of 12.2 per cent.

April 27, 2018

Wholesales Sales Slide

Wholesale sales declined 0.8 per cent to $62.8 billion in February, the largest downward movement and the second monthly drop since September 2017, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales were recorded in four of seven subsectors, representing 64 per cent of total wholesale sales. The miscellaneous and the motor vehicle and parts subsectors contributed the most to the decline. In volume terms, wholesale sales decreased 0.9 per cent from January to February. Wholesalers in the building material and supplies subsector posted a 0.4 per cent decrease in February to $8.8 billion. Lower sales in the subsector were mostly attributable to the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (down 1.7 per cent to $4.3 billion). Wholesale inventories were unchanged at $83.6 billion. Inventories in the building material and supplies subsector declined 0.4 per cent for a third consecutive month. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.32 in January to 1.33 in February due to a decrease in sales. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Kent Wants To Build In CapeBreton

Kent Building Supplies Ltd. is looking to develop a store on Cape Breton Island, NS. It has made an application requesting that Cape Breton regional municipality council amend its Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) to allow the Atlantic Canada home improvement giant to purchase 100-acre tract of land and build a store on the property. A division of J.D. Irving Ltd., Kent has been in business for more than 40 years and presently has 49 retail locations across Atlantic Canada.

Lee Family Honoured By RCC

Robin Lee, president and CEO of Lee Valley, and his family ‒ founders Leonard and Lorraine Lee ‒ have earned the ‘Excellence in Retailing Awards (ERA) 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). The award recognizes a family or an individual in retail who has demonstrated outstanding business success and community service throughout their career and who has left an indelible mark on the industry through innovation and commitment to customers and employees. In a time of unprecedented local and global competition, Robin Lee's preservation of his family's focus on unique products, a ‘customer-first’ philosophy and a commitment to integrity, fairness, and respect for all has continued to grow Lee Valley's brand. In the 15 years since he took over as president and CEO, Lee Valley has expanded from being recognized for high-quality woodworking and gardening tools to now include new lines of products for outdoor, home, kitchen, leatherworking, cabinet hardware, and power tools.

West Fraser Earnings Rise

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had earnings of $197 million in the first quarter of the year, up from $123 million a year ago. Sales rose to $1.36 billion compared to $1.19 billion in the same quarter last year. The lumber segment generated operating earnings of $189 million, down from $232 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, a result unfavourably impacted by severe winter weather, significant transportation challenges, and a full quarter of export duties. The panels segment generated operating earnings in the quarter of $25 million, compared to $20 million last quarter. The plywood market was strong throughout the quarter with pricing well ahead of 2017 levels, although shipments were again held back by transportation challenges.

April 26, 2018

Investment Up In Non-residential Building Construction

Investment in non-residential building construction totalled $14.1 billion in the first quarter, up 3.1 per cent from the previous quarter, says Statistics Canada. This was the fourth consecutive quarterly rise, leading to a nine per cent year-over-year increase in construction investment. Gains were reported for all components (industrial, commercial, and institutional), led by a $193.5 million increase in investment in commercial buildings compared with the previous quarter. Investment was up in nine provinces in the first quarter, with Ontario ($300.7 million) reporting the largest rise. Commercial buildings, up $162.7 million (5.1 per cent), led the Ontario non-residential construction portfolio. Investment in office buildings ($96.1 million) and passenger terminal construction ($58.9 million) were the main drivers behind the increase in the commercial component. Ontario reported lower spending on shopping centres, retail, and wholesale stores ($29.7 million.

Home Hardware Named Top Fleet Employer

Home Hardware Stores Limited was recognized as a ‘Top Fleet Employer’ by Trucking HR Canada for the fifth consecutive year. Those who have been recognized in the program for five years in a row are honoured with a ‘Top Fleet Employer of Distinction’ status. Applicants were rated on topics including recruitment and retention practices, workplace culture, compensation, training and skills development, and innovative HR practices. The winners will be celebrated at a gala awards dinner in October in Toronto, ON.

March Quiet In GTA

March was a quiet month in the new home market in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario with sales down relative to both last March and the 10-year average, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 1,960 total new home sales in March, according to Altus Group, BILD's official source for new home market intelligence, including 1,649 condominium apartments sold in low, medium, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units, which was down 67 per cent from March 2017 and 21 per cent from the 10-year average. Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group's executive vice-president, research consulting services, says, "Some of the demand that might have normally occurred this year was brought forward last year, helping to set a record year for condo apartment sales in 2017. After an adjustment period, we expect the monthly pace of condo apartment sales to improve." Single-family home sales, with 311 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up from the 265 sold in February, but down 77 per cent from last March and down 79 per cent from the 10-year average.

PPG Expands Home Depot Selection

PPG has partnered with the Home Depot to offer PPG’s OLYMPIC brand stains in the U.S. Olympic MAXIMUM, Olympic ELITE, and Olympic WATERGUARD will become available at most Home Depot locations by the end of the second quarter. In addition, PPG’s Olympic SmartGuard will soon be available at select U.S. Home Depot stores in time for the spring season. The addition of Olympic stain products expands the PPG product lineup at The Home Depot stores including PPG premium paints, GLIDDEN paints, and LIQUID NAILS adhesives.

April 25, 2018

New Housing Construction Rise Continues

Investment in new housing construction increased 9.5 per cent from February 2017 to $4.5 billion in February, says Statistics Canada. The year-over-year increase was led by spending on multiple-unit construction (apartment buildings, row houses, and semi-detached houses), while spending on single-family homes was down compared with February 2017. This was the fourth consecutive month that the year-over-year increase in spending on apartment building construction outpaced spending on single houses. Apartment building construction rose in eight provinces, led by Quebec ($182.4 million), Ontario ($80.3 million), and British Columbia ($74.3 million). Spending on row house construction increased 24.1 per cent ($97.7 million) compared with February 2017, mainly driven by investment in Ontario ($50.8 million), Alberta ($23 million) and British Columbia ($18.6 million). Investment in semi-detached houses rose by 16.6 per cent ($29.4 million) in February compared with the same month in 2017, led by additional investment in Ontario ($23.4 million). Spending on single homes in February declined 3.8 per cent ($80.9 million) year over year. The decrease was mostly due to lower spending in Ontario, down 12.1 per cent ($121.9 million).

Lowe’s Canada Supports Housing For Autistic Adults

The Véro & Louis Foundation and Lowe’s Canada have entered into a partnership. Lowe’s Canada will support the foundation with donations up to $1.5 million to build houses that meet the needs of autistic adults aged 21 years and older in the province of Quebec. Currently in Quebec, there are care homes and intermediate service centres for adults with autism, but very few permanent services are offered specifically to people living with ASD. The mission of the foundation is to build houses specially designed to meet the different needs of these people. In addition to the financial donation, Lowe’s Canada will support the foundation with the purchase of the materials required to build the first three houses. The first house, which will accommodate 20 residents, is to be built in Varennes. Construction is expected to begin in this fall.

U.S. Existing Home Sales Climb

Existing-home sales in the U.S. grew for the second consecutive month in March, but lagging inventory levels and affordability constraints kept sales activity below year ago levels, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, rose 1.1 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.6 million in March from 5.54 million in February. Despite last month's increase, sales are still 1.2 per cent below a year ago. Total housing inventory at the end of March climbed 5.7 per cent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 7.2 per cent lower than a year ago (1.8 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 34 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace (3.8 months a year ago).

True Value Partners With Acon Investments 

U.S.-based True Value Company has partnered with ACON Investments, a private equity investment firm, to accelerate True Value’s long-term strategy to better support independent retailers by creating a branded national hardware wholesaler without a membership requirement. ACON’s investment will result in current True Value retailers having 70 per cent of their invested capital, 100 per cent of their promissory notes, and the 2017 Patronage Dividend repaid. This represents approximately $229 million in returns and credits to current True Value retailers, who will also retain a 30 per cent holding in the new True Value Company. The board of True Value is unanimously recommending this transaction, which it believes represents a unique opportunity to accelerate the transformation of the business while also delivering compelling financial and retail benefits to its retailers.

Ferris To Lead West Fraser

Ray Ferris is president and chief operating officer of West Fraser. Previously, he was executive vice-president and chief operating officer. The appointment is as a result of Ted Seraphim’s plan to retire as chief executive officer at the end of the second quarter of 2019. At that time, Ferris will be appointed chief executive officer.

Masco Has Strong Net Sales

Masco Corporation, a manufacturer of branded home improvement and building products, had strong net sales in the first quarter of 2018. Growth was led by its plumbing and decorative architectural products segments as well as the North American windows business. Compared to first quarter of 2017, net sales increased eight per cent to $1.9 billion. North American sales increased seven per cent and international sales decreased two per cent. Plumbing products’ net sales increased 11 per cent (six per cent excluding the impact of foreign currency translation), driven by North American growth. Decorative architectural products’ net sales increased 10 per cent due to the acquisition of L.D. Kichler Co. as well as growth from Behr’s pro initiative and Liberty’s builders’ hardware business. Windows and other specialty products’ net sales increased four per cent (two per cent excluding the impact of foreign currency translation) due to strong growth in the North American windows business.

April 24, 2018

Retail Sales See Minor Rise

Retail sales increased 0.4 per cent in February to $49.8 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at new car dealers and general merchandise stores were the main contributors to the gain. Sales were up in four of 11 subsectors, representing 47 per cent of retail trade. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were unchanged. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 2.1 per cent after three consecutive monthly declines, while sales at general merchandise stores (two per cent) increased for the fourth time in five months. Higher sales in Ontario (0.7 per cent) accounted for the majority of the gain in February. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.1 billion, representing 2.7 per cent of total retail trade.

Groupe BMR Launches Urban Concept Store

Groupe BMR has unveiled its urban hardware store concept, La Shop BMR, with a pilot location in Montreal, QC’s Griffintown. The La Shop concept was designed to meet local consumers' needs and supplements the traditional hardware selection with products and services adapted to the urban market. At the Griffintown location, for example, customers will be able to buy small home appliances and kitchen accessories, premium pet food, bicycle accessories, and storage solution products. This store type will also offer home handyman services and customers doing their own renovations with La Shop products will be able to rent tools free of charge.

Gow’s Home Hardware Receives ‘Walter J. Hachborn Award’

Bridgewater, NS-based Gow’s Home Hardware received the 21st annual ‘Walter J. Hachborn Store of the Year Award’ from Home Hardware Stores Ltd. The award was presented to dealer-owner Amanda Fancy at Home Hardware’s Spring Market. The award recognizes a store that epitomizes the values on which Home Hardware was co-founded by Walter J. Hachborn over 50 years ago – value, service, and dependability. The award is presented to the top finalist in the ‘Proud of My Home Award’ category which recognizes Home retailers that demonstrate strong staff performance, superior customer service, excellence in interior and exterior store presentation, and active participation in dealer network initiatives. Other finalists included Lorette Home Hardware, Lorette, MB; Wilson’s Home Hardware Building Centre, Barrington Passage, NS; Shelburne Home Hardware Building Centre, Shelburne, ON; Windsor Home Furniture, Windsor, NS; and Fort St. John Home Hardware Building Centre, Fort St. John, BC.

U.S. March Construction Starts Advance

New U.S. construction starts in March increased 11 per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $785.2 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The substantial gain followed modest declines in January (down two per cent) and February (down three per cent) and brings the pace of total construction starts to the highest level over the past six months. The non-building construction sector soared 73 per cent, while both non-residential building and residential building eased back slightly, with respective declines of one per cent and two per cent. During the first three months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $167.3 billion, down seven per cent from last year. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the 12 months ending March were up one per cent from the 12 months ending March 2017.

Fewer Rules Around Colour Harmony Today

“While many guidelines surrounding colour usage have stood the test of time, consumer perceptions of colour are always changing and there are fewer hard-fast rules surrounding colour harmony than in the past,” says Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and colour expert for the International Housewares Association (IHA). Speaking at the ‘2018 International Home + Housewares Show,’ she said colour needs to be thought about in a new way. While a sense of order can help engage the consumer, disorder, called ‘power clashing,’ is also embraced today. As well, designers can now combine the formerly taboo grouping of warm and cold colours. “Changing the value or intensity of a colour can be important to changing its temperature,” she said. “Colour is unquestionably tied to our emotions and our intellect. Every colour has meaning that we inherently sense or have learned about through association and/or conditioning.” Proportion and combinations are important when choosing which colours to use.

April 23, 2018

Renovation Materials Lead Retail Sales

Retail sales in Canada reached $155.4 billion in the fourth quarter, up 5.8 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2016, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in 14 of the 16 commodity groupings. Sales of motor vehicles posted the largest increase, rising 6.8 per cent. Hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden product sales were up 12.7 per cent in the fourth quarter. The largest contributor to the increase was renovation materials and supplies which was up 12.1 per cent). Receipts from home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics grew 5.1 per cent, led by home electronics (11.7 per cent) and home appliances (12.7 per cent). Lower sales of housewares, down nine per cent) moderated the gains.

Spending Strong To Start Year

January was the strongest month for the first quarter of 2018, with spend up 6.04 per cent over the same month last year, says the MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report. February and March also saw year-over-year growth with an increase of 3.81 per cent and 4.81 per cent respectively, bringing the quarter's average to a 4.99 per cent increase over 2017. All provinces, with the exception of Saskatchewan, which was down by 0.90 per cent, saw a rise in spend over last year during the same period. British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario saw the biggest jumps, with year-over-year increases of 6.57 per cent, 6.41 per cent, and 5.54 per cent, respectively. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were not far behind with increases of 4.74 per cent and 3.37 per cent, respectively. While both credit card and debit card usage grew over the same time in 2017, the growth was weighted more heavily towards credit cards with an increase of 5.8 per cent compared with debit cards which increased by 3.5 per cent. For both types of cards, contactless solutions experienced growth in both volume – up 37.34 per cent – and transactions – up 33.09 per cent – when compared to the first quarter last year.

IKEA Canada Greenest Employer

IKEA Canada has been named as one of ‘Canada's Greenest Employers’ for the 10th consecutive year for its commitment to sustainability practices. The designation from Mediacorp Canada Inc. recognizes employers who lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness in their organizations and incorporate sustainable business practices across their operations. For the past two years, IKEA Canada co-workers have participated in an internally-driven sustainable living challenge where daily actions such as turning out the lights or carpooling are logged on a mobile app. This year's 10-day challenge showed how small actions can yield big results, with approximately 412,300 kilograms of CO2 emissions avoided, 26,500 kilograms of waste diverted, and 3.1 million litres of water conserved. As a result of the high co-worker engagement, IKEA has now made the sustainable living challenge app available to all Canadians and will run the challenge from April 22 (Earth Day) through April 30.

Harlam Joins HBC

Bari Harlam is chief marketing officer of HBC. She has served in senior marketing roles at BJ's Wholesale, Swipely, and CVS Health and has experience in customer loyalty, personalized and digital marketing, data analytics, branding, promotions, digital and social media, and eCommerce.

PPG Has Increased Sales

PPG had net sales of approximately $3.8 billion for the first quarter of 2018, up nearly nine per cent versus net sales for the first quarter of 2017. Sales volumes grew less than one per cent year-over-year. Net income from continuing operations for the quarter was $347 million while adjusted net income from continuing operations was $350 million, a more than four per cent increase versus the year-ago period. Performance coatings segment first quarter net sales were approximately $2.2 billion, up seven per cent, versus the prior year. Industrial coatings segment sales were more than $1.6 billion, up more than 10 per cent, versus the prior year.

April 20, 2018

Groupe Godin Returns TO RONA

Five stores owned by Groupe Godin have returned to the RONA family. Founded in 1979, Groupe Godin opened its first store in Namur, in the Outaouais, QC, region. In addition to its first store, it has stores in Lachute and Grenville, QC; and in Ontario in Dunvegan and L’Orignal. Four of the group’s five stores have been renovated in recent years to better meet the needs of local customers. In 2015, Groupe Godin was awarded the Conqueror award by the Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) for its numerous growth and improvement projects. Today, the company is co-directed by the founders’ children ‒ Joël, Jérôme, Marc, and Nathalie. RONA is a banner of Lowe’s Canada.

 

IKEA Canada Opens Kingston Collection Point

IKEA Canada has added a collection point location in Kingston, ON. Customers can now shop online for IKEA home furnishings and have them delivered to this collection point for $29, regardless of the size and value of the purchase. Customers who wish to have home delivery can do so for $49. The collection point is not an IKEA store and is owned by third party service provider Dicom. Products are not available for purchase at the location. IKEA Canada has also lowered the price of home delivery in the Ottawa, ON, market as part of a service pricing test. Customers within the region can now have their store or online purchases delivered to the room of their choice in their home or business for a flat rate beginning at $29. Parcel deliveries are now $7 and Click & Collect purchases are $5.

Homeowners Spending More Time Outdoors

More than half of U.S. homeowners spend more time entertaining outside after completing landscaping projects, says the ‘Houzz 2018 Landscaping Survey.’ As well, more than a quarter of homeowners report that their usable outdoor area is significantly larger than that of their home. The study shows that homeowners invest in a variety of elements during landscaping projects that make their outdoor areas more livable including ample seating for family and guests with lounge furniture (43 per cent), dining furniture (34 per cent), and benches (27 per cent). The addition of fire pits (38 per cent), ceiling fans (15 per cent), and patio heaters (14 per cent), allow people to entertain outdoors year-round and new string lights (35 per cent) and rugs (14 per cent) suggest a focus on exterior ambiance. Technology also plays a role in making the yard entertainment-ready. Of the nearly one in five homeowners who added or upgraded entertainment systems during their landscaping projects (18 per cent), 59 per cent opted for a new television, followed by wired and solar speakers (48 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively). Homeowners also added wired and solar charging stations (14 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively).

Wood Moulding Demand Sluggish To 2022

Demand for wood moulding and trim is projected to increase 3.7 per cent annually to $5.5 billion in 2022, the slowest rate of advance of any material type, says a report by the Freedonia Group. However, wood will still account for more than half of moulding and trim sales in 2022. Demand growth will be driven by a strong rise in office, commercial, and institutional building construction activity, growth in interior trim product sales, and the need to replace worn or damaged existing wood products. Interior moulding is expected to continue to account for the majority of wood moulding and trim demand. However, wood is used extensively in all three product segments, which distinguishes it from other materials.

GEgiLOG1cz

April 19, 2018

Castle Gains Western Canada Member

Bamfield Builders Supply Ltd. has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. The Bamfield, BC, dealer has been serving the local area for more than 20 years. Owners Bob Baden and Kelly Bartlett have built their business on serving the needs of the Bamfield community and neighbouring First Nations village of Anacla. The dealer offers an extensive selection of building material products and hardware, while also catering to the local community and climate by providing a selection of sporting goods and outdoor gear. The independent business owners chose Castle because they felt it was the best choice for their business and brand, offering them the ability to expand product lines with support for growth at a more rapid pace. The store will undergo a rebranding to Castle Building Centres and is planning a grand re-opening to the community in late spring.

GMREB Lauds Residential Support Program

The Greater Montréal Real Estate Board (GMREB) welcomes the city of Montréal's creation of the new Residential Acquisition Support Program. Because homeownership is a real issue for people wanting to acquire a property in Montréal, GMREB says thousands of citizens, including families, will benefit from financial assistance ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 when purchasing a home, depending on the type of buyer and property. “We particularly welcome the fact that buyers of an existing home will be entitled to a subsidy ranging from $5,000 to $7,000 to pay the transfer taxes,” says Mathieu Cousineau, president of the GMREB board of directors. Statistics Canada says the homeownership rate in the Montréal census metropolitan area stands at 55.7 per cent. The national average is 67.8 per cent. GMREB says it applauds all measures that allow for the reimbursement of transfer taxes and encourages other municipalities to follow suit in order to facilitate homeownership.

Renoworks Creates Coronado Stone Visualizer Software

Renoworks Software Inc. has partnered with Coronado Stone Products to create Stone Visualizer, a web-based design experience built upon Renoworks' visualization software and technologies. Stone Visualizer allows Coronado affiliates (distributors, contractors, and homeowners) to design homes with a variety of manufactured stone veneer, thin brick, tile, and precast products. The visualization capabilities allow users to access photo-realistic displays of products, colours, and textures.

Demand For Metal Roofing On The Rise

Making homes climate-ready is driving strong demand for materials like metal roofing that offer greater durability to protect homes, says the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA. Its latest survey shows that interest in metal roofing is continuing to rise, with no signs of slowing. Research by the MRA indicates that homeowners prize durability over other factors when choosing a new roof with severe weather and climate-related factors being top of mind for many. Homeowners are also interested in lessening the impact on the earth’s resources. Metal roofing lasts 50 years plus, can be recycled at the end of its long life rather than dumped into the landfill, and is energy efficient. Quality metal roof coatings can also mean lower long-term maintenance by naturally resisting moss and fungus. That reduces the need for strong chemical treatments that can be harmful to the environment.

UFPI Has Record First-quarter Sales

Universal Forest Products, Inc.’s gross sales for the first quarter of 2018 increased 18 per cent over gross sales for the first quarter of 2017. The retail and industrial markets gross sales increased 19 per cent and the construction market increased 16 per cent. Net earnings were $32.8 million for the quarter, up 56 per cent year-over-year. EBITDA was $53.4 million, up 14 per cent over the year-ago period. New product sales were $103.9 million, up from $86.2 million last year.

April 18, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Increase Slightly

Manufacturing sales increased 1.9 per cent to $55.8 billion in February, following two consecutive monthly decreases, says Statistics Canada. The growth was due mainly to higher sales in the transportation equipment industry. Sales were up in 14 of 21 industries, representing 72.2 per cent of the total Canadian manufacturing sector. In constant dollars, sales rose two per cent, slightly more than the gain in current dollar sales, reflecting a slight decrease in prices of products sold by Canadian manufacturers. Sales rose in six provinces; Ontario and Quebec were the main contributors to this growth. British Columbia posted the largest monthly decrease (1.3 per cent) and its fourth consecutive monthly decline. Total inventories rose 1.3 per cent to a record high $77.4 billion in February. This was the fifth consecutive monthly gain in inventories, with 14 of 21 industries posting increases. The inventory-to-sales ratio edged down from 1.4 in January to 1.39 in February. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level. Unfilled orders rose three per cent to $89.7, the second consecutive monthly gain. New orders rose five per cent to $58.4 billion.

Changes Needed To Keep Retail Competitive

Eighty-three per cent of Canadian shoppers made an online purchase from an international retailer, indicating a need for competitive prices and priority international shipping, says the ‘UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper’ study. As well, while online shoppers still find value in shopping at physical stores, higher prices and lack of product availability are driving Canadians to shop internationally, more so than all the other countries surveyed. While using a single channel is the preferred purchase method for 60 per cent of Canadians, four out of 10 online shoppers in Canada are searching on one channel and purchasing via another, highlighting the importance of both the online and in-store experiences. Consumers also expect quick fulfillment of online orders, speedy delivery, and simple returns. Sixty-four per cent of Canadians have shipped back an item to the retailer versus returning it to a physical store and 51 per cent indicate they found it easier to return online.

North Bay Home Of Newest Member

New North Exteriors, located in North Bay, ON, has joined the Castle Building Centres group. It will offer a full line of building material products, while specializing in the supply and install of exterior products and serving the building material needs of the community and surrounding area. Owners David Bruneau and Sophie Belanger have over 30 years of experience and purchased the business location just over a year ago. They realized that to grow their business to the next level, they needed to join a buying group.

Positive Home Sales In Montreal CMA

The Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA) had 12,311 residential sales in the first quarter of 2018, a seven per cent increase compared to the first quarter of 2017, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the 15th consecutive quarterly increase in sales and the best first quarter sales result in seven years. Among the three property categories, condominiums took the lead with a 17 per cent jump in sales. The 4,278 condo transactions that were concluded in the first quarter of 2018 represent a new first quarter sales record. Sales of single-family homes (7,005) registered a more modest increase of two per cent, while sales of plexes with two to five dwellings (1,019) rose by five per cent. All the main areas of the Montréal CMA registered an increase in sales.

Duradek Launches Visualizer Tool

Duradek has launched Dek-Vision, an online design tool to assist homeowners, builders, and remodelers create deck makeover plans with Duradek vinyl waterproof membranes. The tool is available on the Duradek website and is free to use. It comes pre-loaded with eight deck image options that cover a variety of the most common deck types. Users can experiment with the deck surface, the railing colour, and the siding. They can also upload a photo of their own deck and try out options of vinyl deck patterns and colours.

April 17, 2018

Quebec Residential Sales Increase

The province of Quebec had 22,050 residential sales for the first quarter of 2018, a three per cent increase compared to the first quarter of 2017, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). This was the 15th consecutive quarterly increase in sales and the best start to the year since 2012. In total, 15,020 single-family homes, 5,260 condominiums, and 1,679 plexes changed hands in the quarter. The number of properties for sale continued to fall as the drop in supply continued for a ninth consecutive quarter. In total, 68,423 residential properties were listed on the Centris system in Québec, a nine per cent decrease compared to the first quarter of 2017. The number of active listings decreased for all three property categories, falling eight per cent for single-family homes, 13 per cent for condominiums, and four per cent for plexes.

ECO Product Program Rolled Out

Lowe's Canada has rolled out of its ECO product program in all corporate and participating affiliated RONA, Reno-Depot, and Lowe's stores across the country. The program aims to help consumers reduce the environmental footprint of their home improvement and construction projects by offering and clearly identifying with the ECO seal over 3,500 products that represent more environmentally-friendly alternatives. "Lowe's Canada acknowledges having a role to play in improving the environmental performance of the construction and home improvement industry in Canada which is why offering our customers a range of products characterized by a smaller environmental footprint is one of the three pillars of our corporate responsibility approach," says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs and compliance, at Lowe's Canada. "With this program, we want to make it easier for consumers who want to choose products that reduce the environmental footprint of their projects by clearly identifying ECO products in stores and online and by highlighting the many benefits these products offer." The ECO product selection process is based on recognized environmental certifications as well as on the life cycle approach.

BMR Gets New Dealer

RONA D.E. Landry in Saint-François-de-Madawaskamoves has joined Groupe BMR. This is the third New Brunswick dealer to join the banner in less than a month. Joey Landry, fourth-generation owner of the family business as of last March, decided to join BMR because of its quality products and services. “BMR is very aware of its impact on local communities and its values align perfectly with ours,” he says. Groupe BMR now has 12 stores in the province.

Structube Opens Ontario Megastore

Contemporary and modern home furniture retailer Structube has opened its first Ontario megastore in Hamilton, ON. The 18,000-square-foot store will provide a large selection of SKUs and free instore pick-up for all online purchases. The company currently operates over 60 showroom locations across Canada, which range in size between 3,000 to 50,000 square feet. The brand initially launched the megastore concept in 2017 in Montreal, QC; the Hamilton store is the second location.

Giant Tiger Opens In St. Thomas

Giant Tiger has opened a store in St. Thomas, ON. The 23,300-square-foot store will offer home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

2018 Structural Panel Production Remains Steady

Structural panel production in North America projected to be over one billion square feet in 2018, says the ‘2018 Structural Panel & Engineered Wood Yearbook,’ released by APA – The Engineered Wood Association. It says little has changed in terms of the supply-side constraints that have inhibited homebuilders and apartment developers from responding to the increased demand for new housing units. Unemployment in the construction industry is at an historic low and lot supply is tight. Adding to these concerns for the prospective level of residential construction is the policy decisions made in Washington, DC. However, despite concerns, household growth in the U.S. has picked up and housing starts in 2017 of 1.2 million units were insufficient to keep up with demand for both owner and renter occupied units. The forecast calls for housing starts in the U.S. to approach 1.3 million units in 2018. Single-family starts are projected to account for roughly 70 per cent of the starts. Canadian housing starts in 2017 were near 220,000 and projected at 210,000 units in 2018.

April 16, 2018

March Home Sales Improve Slightly

National home sales edged higher from February to March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales inched up 1.3 per cent with actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity down 22.7 per cent from last year's all-time March record. The number of newly-listed homes rose 3.3 per cent from February to March and the MLS Home Price Index

(HPI) in March was up 4.6 per cent year-over-year. The national average sale price declined by 10.4 per cent year-over-year. Sales were up from the previous month in over half of all local housing markets, led by Ottawa, ON, and Montreal, QC. Monthly sales gains were offset by declines in British Columbia's lower mainland, the Okanagan Region, and Chilliwack and in Calgary and Edmonton, AB. CREA says government policy changes have made home buyers and sellers increasingly uncertain about the outlook for home prices. These changes are fueling demand for lower-priced homes while shrinking the pool of qualified buyers for higher-priced homes.

Castle Holds AGM In San Diego

Castle Building Centres Group returned to the historic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA, to celebrate its 55th Annual General Meeting.

The iconic hotel seen the likes of 12 American presidents, countless Hollywood stars, and the rich and famous from all over the globe. The event drew close to 450 Castle shareholders, vendor partners, and their families. Throughout the week, guests experienced exclusive events on and off-site and had the opportunity to participate in educational presentations including Castle360 business sessions. Peter Mansbridge, Canadian journalist and public figure, delivered the keynote address highlighting some of his most memorable journeys around the world.

Spring Market Theme 'One Solution'

Home Hardware Stores Limited's '2018 Spring Dealer Market' launched at the company's main warehouse in St. Jacob's, ON, on Sunday. The theme of the market is 'One Solution' and will include the unveiling of the latest Beauti-Tone colour card with the Toronto Blue Jays and keynote speaker Marnie McBean, a three-time Olympic gold medallist in rowing.

The event takes place until April 17 and is not open to the public.

Lowe's Canada Raises Funds For Locker Room

Lowe's Canada is launching a fundraising campaign to renovate the Humboldt Broncos locker room in the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt SK.

For the next month, RONA and Lowe's customers across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will be invited to donate $1 toward this cause. Lowe's Canada will match every dollar collected up to $10,000. "I have been in close contact with the Broncos for many years, and, like many of us in Humboldt, I felt compelled to help our community heal by taking action after the tragedy," says Evan Pronych, owner of the RONA Humboldt Lumber Mart dealer store and instigator of this initiative.

"Several people within the Broncos organization and the Humboldt community have suggested that giving the Broncos a new locker room, which needs renovations, could help us grieve and, when the time comes, move forward as a community." Sixteen people died, including 10 players, and another 13 were injured after a transport truck and a bus taking the Humboldt Broncos to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game on April 6 collided at a rural intersection.

Employers Offering Perks To Stand Out

Canadian employers are offering a variety of perks to their employees to supplement typical compensation and benefits packages, and to set themselves apart from competitors. The Conference Board of Canada's 'Perks at Work report' shows that at the top of the range in terms of value are perks such as perquisite and car allowances, while the most common perks include professional membership reimbursement, mobile phones, employee parking, and education grants. Of the Canadian organizations surveyed, 90 per cent offer professional membership reimbursement and 86 per cent offer mobile phones. A majority of responding organizations also offer employee parking (76 per cent), employee education grants (60 per cent), and car allowances (56 per cent). The most common perks offered to all employees tend to be those available on location at an organization's office such as on-site fitness centres and on-site child care.

April 13, 2018

Employers Working Hard To Recruit

Canadian employers are working harder and spending more to recruit and retain recent post-secondary graduates in an increasingly competitive labour market, says a report by Morneau Shepell. It found that 83 per cent of companies participate in co-op programs and other forms of work-integrated learning initiatives that help them identify potential new employees. This is up from 76 per cent two years ago. Companies are also investing in more training than they did two years ago. Fifty-one per cent of employers spend more than $1,000 per employee per year, while 30 per cent spend between $500 and $1,000 per worker. In 2016, those numbers were 46 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Fifty-seven per cent of employers say a shortage of skilled workers is having either a moderate (40 per cent) or severe (17 per cent) impact on their industry. In addition, 70 per cent of companies say their expectations of new graduates are higher now than five years ago, attributing those increased expectations to a changing work environment resulting from rapid technological advancements. By the same token, employers say that new graduates typically expect more from the workplace than their predecessors did five years ago. Today, graduates are looking for more money, challenging assignments, increased flexibility and mobility, and quicker advancement, the report says.

Home Hardware Remains A Best Managed Company

Home Hardware Stores Limited has again received the designation as one of ‘Canada's Best Managed Companies.’ This is the sixth year in a row the company has received the recognition. It was recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. The 2018 best managed companies share commonalities that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability, and commitment to talent.

Amazon’s Echo Spot Now In Canada

Amazon’s Echo Spot, a member of the Echo family, is now available in Canada. Echo Spot works with Alexa, but is smaller in design than the Echo Dot and features a circular display screen. Users can work with Alexa to control home automated products, alarms, and calendars, make calls, and more. The screen allows video ability as well and can display the time, date, videos, images, and more. The Echo Spot features second-generation far-field technology with four microphones, acoustic beam-forming technology, and enhanced noise cancellation.

RPM CEO Recognized By ACA

Frank C. Sullivan, chairman and chief executive officer of RPM International Inc., was awarded the ‘George Baugh Heckel Award’ by the American Coatings Association (ACA). This award is the ACA’s highest honour and presented in recognition of Sullivan’s leadership efforts on behalf of the association and the industry.

April 12, 2018

Customers Turning Away From Service

Ninety-five per cent of consumers want to be left alone while shopping unless they need a store associate’s help, says a survey by HRC Retail Advisory. The survey shows many shoppers are moving away from the hands-on, personalized service from store associates and instead turning to friends and family via social media to share pictures and gather opinions before they buy. As well, the majority of shoppers now look to in-store technology for customer service. HRC says it will be critical for retailers to identify the right technologies and pair them with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations. Eighty-five per cent of consumers want to be able to check prices at price scanners throughout a store rather than having to ask a sales associate for pricing information. As well, 76 per cent of consumers rate an in-store app that will provide personal recommendations as important. However, preferring technology is not always the case. Only eight per cent of consumers think having the option to pay with a mobile app is important.

Consumers Seeking Differentiated Experience

While price is still the primary factor in purchasing decisions, consumers are increasingly seeking out the differentiated shopping experience – one that provides a rich, informative, and personalized online and instore experience, finds a report by omnichannel commerce platform Kibo. The annual ‘2018 Consumer Trends Report – Engaging the Informed Consumer’ shows that while 61 per cent of survey participants say price is the top factor influencing purchase decisions, that percentage is down by more than 12.8 per cent year-over-year. By contrast, the importance of the shopping experience doubled and the percentage of participants naming the variety and speed of fulfillment options as deciding factors grew by 1.3 times and three times, respectively. Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) is now considered a mainstream offering, with 67 per cent of survey participants having used it in the past six months. The ability to inspect items in the store before taking them home was the BOPIS benefit whose importance grew the most year over year ‒ suggesting that stores’ tactile experiences are important brand assets. Substantiating this finding is shoppers’ increasing willingness to engage store associates for assistance finding items; 57 per cent of survey respondents said they’ve done so, an 18.75 per cent increase from 2017.

Miele Canada Opens In Yorkdale Mall

High-end domestic appliance supplier Miele Canada is opening a store in Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, ON. Slated to open this summer, this will be the first location for the brand in a highly-frequented premium shopping mall, the company says. The store will be approximately 2,200 square feet. Miele has four ‘experience centres’ in Canada in Toronto, Calgary, AB, Montreal, QC, and Vancouver, BC. The head office is in Vaughan, ON. The Yorkdale Shopping Centre has approximately 18 million visitors per year.

Peugeot North America Changes Name

Kitchenware manufacturer PSP Peugeot North America, LLC has changed its name to Peugeot Saveurs North America, LLC, effective immediately. The company says the new name is more meaningful because the word ‘saveurs’ is French for flavour and can also be translated as taste, savour, appeal, charm, and attractive – connotations steeped deep in French heritage and culture. “The name reflects our North American presence as an important subsidiary of Peugeot Saveurs SNC,” says Yvette Laugier, managing director of Peugeot Saveurs North America. There are no changes in the company’s management, office location, phone, or fax.

CPCA To Honour Industry Champions

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) will honour several individuals for their distinguished contributions to the industry at its annual conference and AGM to be held May 24. The ‘Industry Achievement Award’ will be presented to Erik Bos (Sansin Corporation), Chris Goudey (John E. Goudey Manufacturing Ltd.), Eric Vaillancourt (CANLAK), and Steve Sides (American Coatings Association). This award is presented to an individual or an organization that has demonstrated exceptional achievement in advancing the interests of the industry and the association’s objectives. The ‘Industry Statesmen Award’ will be presented to Ron Nakamura (PPG Canada), Ed Thompson (L.V. Lomas), Jeff Danneman (REICHHOLD), Jean-Guy Rosa (PPG Canada), Ed Linton (Cloverdale Paint), and Rennie Herry (Goudey). This award is presented to outstanding individuals who are retiring from their respective companies but have made a significant contribution to the industry.

Fastenal Has Strong Sales

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,185 million for the first quarter of 2018, a 13.2 per cent increase over net sales of $1,047 million for the first quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $577.6 million, an increase of 11.5 per cent over gross profit of $518 million in the year-ago period. Operating income rose 10.4 per cent to $234.5 million and EBIT increased 10 per cent to $231.9 million. Net earnings were $174.3 million, up 29.9 per cent over net earnings of $134.2 million a year ago.

April 11, 2018

Housing Starts Increase Mild

The trend in housing starts was 226,842 units in March 2018, compared to 225,804 units in February 2018, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Rising March housing starts capped off a strong first quarter in starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA). Starts of multifamily condominium and rental units led the increase, with activity concentrated in the core areas of the city of Vancouver, Richmond, and North Vancouver in the first quarter of this year. Housing starts in the Edmonton, AB, CMA continued to trend lower in March due in part to a declining trend in multi-family construction where inventory levels remain elevated. Led by condominium apartment starts, the total number of housing starts in the Toronto, ON, CMA trended up to reach a seven-month high during March. Relatively affordable prices of condominium apartments continued to draw buyers towards purchasing pre-construction units. The level of housing starts for the total aggregate of Quebec's urban centres remained stable in the first quarter, in both the single-detached home and multi-unit housing segments. The single-detached market in Halifax, NS, continues to expand over the first quarter, up 42 per cent compared to the same period last year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 225,213 units in March, down from 231,026 units in February.

Economic Optimism Drops Significantly

Optimism about the Canadian economy is down significantly amid views the country is becoming less competitive, says a survey of professional accountants by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). The survey finds that the top three challenges to the Canadian economy are U.S. trade protectionism (30 per cent), uncertainty in the Canadian economy (16 per cent), and U.S. tax reforms (seven per cent). A majority of those surveyed (84 per cent) say a detailed analysis of U.S. tax reforms to assess the potential impact on Canada is urgently needed and 93 per cent say the results should be made public. "Canadian business leaders are looking for assurance from the federal government that the situation is being properly monitored to allow a course of action to be developed that will keep Canada competitive,” says Joy Thomas, president and chief executive officer of CPA Canada. The survey also shows the top three factors impacting business planning over the next year are uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy (32 per cent); employee retention, acquisition, and development (30 per cent); and a lack of skilled workers (24 per cent).

Matériaux Parent Joins Groupe BMR

Matériaux Parent and its two renovation centres are joining the Groupe BMR. Located in New Brunswick, this brings the number of BMR stores in that province to 11. “We are very excited about this transition and convinced that our customers will be as well,” says Guy Parent, vice-president and third generation of the business. “BMR is a solid brand with quality products at very competitive prices, in large part obtained from Canadian suppliers. What’s more, Groupe BMR is reliable, listens to its dealers, and has values that align with our own.”

DIYers Competitive With Neighbours

More than half of Americans feel the urge to improve the appearance of their homes when they see their neighbours doing it first, says a survey by the Home Depot. Millennials are particularly home-conscious and competitive, with 70 per cent admitting to feeling this pressure and nearly 50 per cent responding to it by completing a home improvement project specifically to outshine their neighbour. Parents tend to one-up their neighbours more than non-parents – whether that's installing a new fence and deck in the backyard or taking their spring cleaning one step further than others in the neighbourhood. And, when it comes to how people prefer to ‘one-up’ neighbours, most went for curb appeal. Eighty-nine per cent who tried to outdo a neighbour's home project did so with a new outdoor project while 62 per cent focused on indoor upgrades. Gardening, yard work, and painting take the top spots for outdoor projects that Americans plan to take on this spring. And painting, redecorating, house renovations, and replacing flooring round out the roster of top indoor projects.

Roseburg Completes Pembroke MDF Purchase

Roseburg Forest Products has completed the purchase of Pembroke MDF, Inc.’s medium density fiberboard (MDF) plant and moulding production facilities located in northeastern Ontario. The two companies reached an agreement in principle in March. The acquisition is part of Roseburg’s strategy to expand its North American footprint.

Ace Hardware, Dollar Tree Top U.S. Retailers

Ace Hardware has tied with Dollar Tree for top spot for the retail industry in the ‘2018 Temkin Experience Ratings,’ an annual customer experience and loyalty benchmark of U.S. companies. Both companies scored 82 per cent and placed seventh overall out of 318 companies across 20 industries. In total, the retail industry averaged a 74 per cent rating and came in third place out of the 20 industries. The average rating of the industry improved by .05 percentage points between 2017 and 2018, going from 73.9 per cent to 74.4 per cent. Amazon.com scored 79 per cent, True Value scored 78 per cent, and Home Depot scored 77 per cent. A total of 49 retailers were included in this year’s ratings.

Sustainability Focus Of CPCA AGM

Sustainability in the coatings industry will be the theme at the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) 105th annual conference and AGM. Topics will include major trends, challenges, and solutions in sustainability in the industry. The conference takes place May 23 and 24 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit CPCA

April 10, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Climb

Canadian manufacturing sales increased by $36.4 billion or 5.9 per cent from 2016 to $648.9 billion in 2017, says Statistics Canada. This was the largest increase since 2011 and it follows a 1.2 per cent rise in sales in 2016. Sales rose in every province and in 17 of 21 industries. The growth was led by the non-durable goods industries. In constant dollars, sales were up 3.3 per cent; the largest annual gain since 2010. Constant dollar manufacturing sales reached their highest level since 2007. Sales in the wood product industry increased 10.1 per cent to $32.6 billion, marking the sixth consecutive year of annual sales growth. Following an announcement of tariffs on Canadian exports of softwood by the U.S. in April 2017, monthly sales in the industry grew every month from June to October, then levelled off for the remainder of the year. In current dollar terms, overall monthly inventories began to increase in late 2016, ending the year at $70.1 billion. Total inventories continued to rise throughout the first quarter of 2017, before levelling off for the next two quarters at $74.0 billion. Inventories then rose in the fourth quarter, ending the year at $75.5 billion.

Canadian Tire Adds To Loyalty Program

Canadian Tire (CT) is adding ‘Triangle Rewards’ to its CT Money loyalty program. This feature will enable members to earn CT Money online and instore at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark's, and Atmosphere locations and on fuel purchases at Canadian Tire gas bars. Members will be able to redeem CT Money at CT, Sport Chek, Mark's, and Atmosphere stores. As part of the new program, CT Bank will offer members a Triangle World Elite Mastercard. Triangle Rewards members will be eligible for no-receipt returns, personalized offers and content, and the ability to track CT transactions and balances. Current ‘My CT Money’ program members and Options Mastercard or Options World Mastercard holders will automatically become Triangle Rewards members and will be able to use their existing loyalty and credit cards.

Albertans Get Rebates On Energy-saving Products

Residents of Alberta now have access to instant savings when purchasing energy-saving products such as programmable thermostats, water-saving devices, smart power bars, and LED light fixtures with motion sensors. The Alberta Residential Retail Products Program is sponsored by the governments of Alberta and Canada that are working together through Canada’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to reduce carbon pollution; create new economic opportunities; and help homeowners, communities, companies, and industry save energy and money. Under the program, the ‘Instant Savings’ campaign will provide instant point-of-sale rebates for purchases of energy-saving products at participating retail locations. For more information, visit Energy Efficiency Alberta

Plans Increase For Non-residential U.S. Building Projects

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 6.1 per cent higher in March, rising to 155 from the revised February reading of 146. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. March’s gain was the result of a 9.6 per cent increase in the commercial component – more than erasing the 5.1 per cent decline it had seen the previous month. The gain in the institutional sector meanwhile was milder, moving 1.6 per cent higher, following an 8.1 per cent gain in February. During the first nine months of 2017, the overall index made little progress. However, planning activity shot up in the fourth quarter, with that impetus continuing into the first three months of 2018. In the latest quarter the index gained 5.1 per cent. This may be a sign that planners are reacting in a positive fashion to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that President Donald Trump signed at the end of December.

Koscho Leads Energi Fenestration

Christopher Koscho is chief executive officer of Energi Fenestration Solutions, Ltd., a portfolio company of OpenGate Capital. He was previously with HC Companies as president and chief executive officer.

Sales Rise At WD-40

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $101.3 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of five per cent over total net sales in the second quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was $14.8 million, an increase of 20 per cent compared to the prior year fiscal quarter. Gross margin was 55.1 per cent versus 56.4 per cent in the year-ago period. Advertising and sales promotion expenses were up three per cent to $5.2 million when compared to last year. Net sales in the Americas were relatively flat in the second quarter primarily due to lower sales of homecare and cleaning products in the U.S., which declined seven per cent from period to period. This lower level of sales was mostly offset by a higher level of sales of maintenance products which increased one per cent compared to the prior year fiscal period.

April 9, 2018

Brand Based On Trust And Experience

Brand is the image customers have of a business and it is tied to trust and customer experience, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says, “If you are like many small business owners, you don’t spend much time thinking about your brand image. That’s a terrible mistake.” He adds that what makes a business unique and more successful than the competition is its brand. It is about the total experience. “Your brand is your promise to your customers and what they should expect every time they visit your business … Build a personal bond with your customer and they will develop a relationship of trust with your brand.” Consumers go out of their way for brands they trust. “You want your customers to become your brand advocate because, as humans, we do business with people we like and trust. And, people influence people. Doing business with those we trust is built into our DNA and part of our evolutionary process.” Jenkins recommends businesses take the time to consider their brand and become obsessed about delivering that brand experience.

Montreal's Residential Real Estate Market Remains Strong

A total of 5,656 residential sales were concluded in March in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), a six per cent increase compared to March of 2017. This was the 37th consecutive increase in sales and the best month of March in eight years, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). While sales of single-family homes remained unchanged, sales of plexes increased by three per cent, registering their best month of March since 2010. However, as has been the case for several months, condominiums stole the spotlight once again with a strong sales increase of 19 per cent in March. The South Shore particularly stood out as condo sales jumped by 37 per cent. The median price of single-family homes across the Montreal CMA stood at $314,900 in March, up five per cent compared to March of last year. The median price of condominiums remained unchanged, as half of all units sold for more than $240,000. Plexes registered the largest increase, as their median price jumped by nine per cent to reach $495,000. There were 26,395 active residential listings in the Centris system in March, a 16 per cent drop compared to one year earlier.

Government To Fund More Home Retrofits

The governments of Canada and Ontario will invest up to $100 million to help the people of Ontario make energy efficient retrofits to the places they reside, including apartments, townhouses, low-income housing, and businesses. The funding will support the province’s GreenON Rebates program, which helps cover the cost of eco-friendly retrofits. The investment is being made through the government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund. As part of its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), Ontario is investing up to $1.7 billion over the coming years into GreenON to support a wide range of programs. The CCAP is a five-year action plan that is making life more affordable for people across the province and making Ontario a leader in the global fight against climate change. Revenues from Ontario's carbon market, which puts a cap on the carbon pollution businesses can emit, are funding this action plan. The government of Canada's Low-Carbon Economy Leadership Fund provides $1.4 billion to provinces and territories that have adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF), to deliver on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today's announcement is part of the almost $420 million Ontario is receiving through the Leadership Fund.

Homebuying Intentions Continue To Rise

Resurging confidence in the economy and employment is boosting homebuying intentions among Canadians to the highest levels since 2010, despite the federal government's new uninsured mortgage ‘stress test,’ says RBC in its annual ‘Home Ownership Poll.’ In fact, one-third of Canadians are very or somewhat likely to buy a home in the next two years, up seven percentage points from last year. Millennials (ages 18 to 34) express the strongest of those homebuying intentions (50 per cent). Thirty-nine per cent of Canadians are aware of the latest Stress Test Guidelines issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) for uninsured mortgages, and over half (55 per cent) indicate that the guidelines are impacting their purchase decisions. This includes making higher down payments (25 per cent), delaying home purchases (19 per cent) or buying a less expensive, smaller home or a less expensive one in a different location (18 per cent respectively). As intention to buy continues to climb in Canada, just over one one-third (35 per cent) of Canadians indicate they have received/will be receiving financial assistance from their family for a down payment while almost an equal number (36 per cent) plan to do it on their own with a dedicated savings account. The poll shows the two top challenges buyers face in buying a home are choosing the right property and deciding how much they can afford.

GMS To Acquire WSB Titan

U.S. wallboard and ceiling system distributor GMS Inc. plans to acquire the equity interests of Toronto, ON-based WSB Titan. Titan is a gypsum specialty dealer (GSD) that serves residential, commercial, and institutional markets with building products such as wallboard, insulation, lumber, roofing, and steel framing. It was founded in 2009 through the partnership of Watson Building Supplies and Shoemaker Drywall Supplies, two wallboard distributors with roots dating back to the 1970s. The company expanded the platform in 2015 through the acquisition of Slegg Building Materials, a family-run wallboard and building supplies distributor formed in 1947. The acquisition will support GMS’ strategy to be the largest wallboard distributor in North America and give it a market-leading position in Canada along with a foundation to support future opportunities while creating opportunities to share best practices across operations.

April 6, 2018

Canadian Tire, Dollarama Most Admired

Canadian Tire and Dollarama are among the most admired companies in Canada, says the ‘2018 Corporation Reputation Study’ by Leger and NATIONAL Public Relations. Canadian Tire ranked third in the most admired companies in Canada (eighth among Millennials) while Dollarama ranked seventh (fourth among Millennials). The companies are judged on their ability to respond to a crisis and how they treat their employees and customer base. Google ranked first place for the sixth year in a row and Tim Hortons dropped to 50th place from fourth in 2017. Tim Hortons received significant backlash with its reduction to employee benefits. Samsung had the biggest increase, pulling itself up from 24th place last year to fifth position overall. Bombardier and Sears Canada also took big hits to their reputations and fell down on the list.

Alberta RONA Transforms To New Store Model

RONA Leduc is the first RONA store to adopt the new RONA building centre store model in Alberta. The Lowe’s Canada banner store underwent a $2.5 million transformation to better meet the needs of today’s consumers, says the company. The store is brighter, less compartmentalized, and has redesigned racking that is not as tall, except on the perimeter of the store, allowing customers to have a 360-degree view of the store. As well, seasonal products have been moved near the entrance and household appliances are near the kitchen project section. The Leduc store now also offers special orders and services including design consulting, 3D renderings, and installations. Contractors also have an enhanced selection of services including a reserved parking area, a dedicated entrance, business hours to fit their schedules, a special fleet of trucks, a 15,000-square-foot drive-through lumberyard, and charge-account services. By the end of 2018, more than 10 stores across the country will be transformed to the new RONA building centre store model.

Home Depot Supports Youth Homelessness

The Home Depot Canada Foundation awarded $25,000 to seven Canadian charities through its ‘Orange Door Awards’ program in its effort to prevent and end youth homelessness. The company engaged youth advisors who were once homeless themselves to help determine where the grants would make the greatest impact. This years' recipients are L'Adoberge Chaudiere-Appalaches in Saint-Jean-Chrysostome, QC; Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc. in Saskatoon, SK; Threshold Housing Society in Victoria, BC; Covenant House Toronto in Toronto, ON; Kingston Home Base Non-Profit Housing Inc. in Kingston, ON; Orillia Youth Centre in Orillia, ON; and Kennedy House Youth Services Inc. in Scarborough, ON. The ‘Orange Door Awards’ program is one of three grants The Home Depot Canada Foundation offers to support organizations working with homeless and at-risk youth across the country.

GE Canada Partners With Holmes Group

GE Appliances Canada has partnered with the Holmes Group. Mike Holmes, along with his son Mike Jr. and his daughter Sherry, will work as spokespeople and ambassadors for the appliance brand throughout 2018. The all-encompassing partnership, which will include GE Appliances' full suite of kitchen and laundry products, will be featured as in-store point-of-purchase displays, digital content, and social media and PR activities. GE Appliances will also be seen on Holmes' television program.

Richelieu Hardware Posts Gains

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. had consolidated sales of $222 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 13.3 per cent compared to consolidated sales of $195.9 million for the first quarter of 2017. Sales were $183.4 million in the manufacturers market for the quarter, an 11.3 per cent increase over sales of $164.8 million. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores were $38.6 million, up 24.1 per cent over the first quarter of 2017. EBITDA increased eight per cent to $19.8 million and net earnings grew 5.6 per cent. In Canada, Richelieu had sales of $143.7 million, an increase of 14.4 per cent year-over-year. Sales to manufacturers in Canada were $113.6 million compared with $98.5 million, an increase of 15.3 per cent. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores in Canada were $30.2 million, up 11.4 per cent year-over-year.

April 5, 2018

Home Sales Drop

There were 7,228 residential transactions in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in March, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This was down 39.5 per cent compared to a record 11,954 sales in March 2017 and down 17.6 per cent relative to average March sales for the previous 10 years. The number of new listings on the MLS System was 14,866, a 12.4 per cent decrease compared to March 2017 and a three per cent decrease compared to the average for the previous 10 years. TREB says the effects of the Fair Housing Plan, the OSFI-mandated stress test, and generally higher borrowing costs have prompted some buyers to put their purchasing decisions on hold. It also says home sales are expected to be up relative to 2017 in the second half of this year.

Vernon RONA Adopts New Model Proximity Store

As part of its strategy to make RONA the number one banner in the building centre market (small to medium stores knows as ‘proximity stores’), Lowe’s Canada has transformed the Vernon, BC, store to the new RONA building centre store model. The retailer invested $2.5 million in the store renovation which it says now better meets the needs of today’s consumers. The store features open floor plans, brighter rooms, and outside spaces designed to be natural extensions of the interior. It is a brighter, less compartmentalized store, with racking redesigned so it’s not as tall except on the perimeter of the store. This allows customers to have a 360-degree view of the store which enables them to better navigate the sections.

Leviton Announces Nest Capabilities

Some Leviton products now feature integration with the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Cam, and Nest Protect through the ‘Works with Nest’ program. Through this alignment, Leviton Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology and Nest devices can now be utilized together to automate lights and connected loads throughout the home. Professional installers and end-users can utilize the free ‘My Leviton’ app to link their Nest account for a variety of custom automation actions including IFTTT (if this, then that) within the home. Decora Smart light switches, dimmers, and plug-in modules provide time-based schedules, free remote control from anywhere, and optional integrated voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Muti Moves To Castlefield Design District

Muti Kitchen & Bath has opened a flagship showroom in the Toronto, ON-based Castlefield Design District. The 12,000-square-foot showroom displays custom kitchens and features an extensive Muti-brand collection of products for all areas of the home. The showroom is for all members of the trade industry – architects, interior designers, builders, contractors, and stylists – to source and access the designs. The showroom features fully-equipped custom modern Italian kitchens and Canadian-made transitional kitchens. For the displays, Muti has partnered with companies including Gaggenau, Smeg, AEG, Liebherr, Bosch, DECO Tile, Cambria, Laminam, Ceasarstone, Grohe, TOTO, and Veneto Bath. The family-owned business was previously located in Woodbridge, ON.

Construction To Drive Laminate Tile Market

The global laminate tile market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of six per cent from 2018 to 2023, says data by QYReports. The report says the global flooring market is among the most important building material markets and is highly dynamic and versatile. A rise in construction activity and an increasing trend in home improvement and renovation projects is likely to boost this market substantially over the forthcoming years. The major players investing in this market are in Canada, the UK, the U.S., India, China, and some Asia Pacific countries. As a result, Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe are expected to account for more than half of the total market share over the next few years.

April 4, 2018

Residential Construction To Slow

After posting its strongest growth since 2013 last year, Canada's residential construction industry is forecast to see a small contraction in 2018, says the Conference Board of Canada in its latest outlook for the construction industry. Housing starts are forecast to drop by 2.9 per cent, led in large part by a 4.3 per cent drop in Toronto, ON, and a 6.5 per cent drop in Vancouver, BC. As homeowners become more cautious under new mortgage rules and rate hikes, real expenditures on new housing are expected to slow from 5.8 per cent in 2017 to 3.4 per cent in 2018 and then drop by three per cent in 2019. Renovation activity will perform better, but will also see a deceleration to 1.8 per cent growth in 2018 from 4.5 per cent last year. At the same time, non-residential construction is expected to see a modest turnaround this year. Following two years of contractions, Canada's non-residential construction industry will rebound in 2018. The non-residential construction industry is forecast to grow by 1.9 per cent. The value of new non-residential building permits increased by an estimated 15 per cent last year to reach $35 billion, indicating a healthy number of non-residential projects in the pipeline. Growth in eCommerce continues to drive demand for more warehouse space in the commercial segment while several new mining projects and planned plant expansions will support growth in the industrial segment.

Morissette Spokesperson For Reno-Depot

Dave Morissette, former professional hockey player and a well-known figure in the Quebec media landscape, is spokesperson for Reno-Depot, a banner of Lowe’s Canada. Morissette, a home improvement enthusiast, will star in various advertising campaigns. “Reno-Depot is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and embarking on the next chapter of its history,” says Guy Beaumier, executive vice-president, big box, at Lowe’s Canada. “During this growth phase, we wished to partner with a new spokesperson who is – just like the Reno-Depot brand – accessible, authentic, energetic, and professional.” A native of Baie-Comeau, QC, Morissette played a number of games with the Montréal Canadiens from 1998 to 2000. After his hockey career, he became a sports analyst and a radio and TV host. He now hosts an evening sports roundup show that bears his name.

Lowe’s Launches App AR Feature

Android users with ARCore-enabled devices can now see what certain products will look like in their homes before buying them with Lowe’s latest augmented reality feature called ‘View in Your Space.’ The feature can be accessed within the Lowe’s consumer app. Customers take several weeks to mull over big-ticket purchases like grills and patio furniture, says the retailer. The app feature will enable them to place lifelike, size-accurate items from Lowe’s spring catalogue into their outdoor spaces to see if they fit and match the surroundings. The user will also be able to walk around the product, viewing it in different perspectives, while the item remains scaled-to-size and in place in the app.

Engineered Stone Countertop Demand Continues

Engineered stone is forecast to be the fastest growing countertop surface material, reaching 152 million square feet in 2022 on yearly advances of 4.5 per cent, says The Freedonia Group. Demand for engineered stone countertops grew 28 per cent per annum during the 2012-2017 period, almost entirely due to significant sales advances in the residential market because of greater availability and the search for alternatives to granite. During this time, demand for engineered stone surpassed that of granite, which was formerly regarded as the primary material in the luxury residential market. Going forward, engineered stone will continue to post healthy gains, driven by its aesthetic properties and superior durability compared to laminates and its advantages relative to natural stone such as colour uniformity and a smoother, nonporous surface that is resistant to biological contaminants.

Fraser Manages Wood Products

Mike Fraser is commodity wood products manager – eastern Canada with Sexton Group Ltd. In this newly-created role, he will be responsible for working with lumber, OSB, and plywood mills to create effective purchasing programs for Sexton members from Ontario to Newfoundland. Previously, he was senior panel and lumber buyer for ALPA Forest Products.

April 3, 2018

Retail Sales Start Slowly

After hitting a 20-year high last year, overall Canadian retail sales growth has eased off in recent months, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending January, total sales were up 5.3 per cent year-over-year. While still quite respectable, this is down from the 6.7 per cent increase recorded for the same period in 2017. He says the underlying 12-month growth trend has now gone flat and is likely to weaken further. As well, the three-month growth trend has been declining since mid-2017. “This pattern is occurring to one extent or another in all the major retail sectors.” While the store merchandise sector is coming back down to earth after hitting some record highs last year, electronics and appliance stores had strong gains with a whopping 18 per cent increase year-over-year. Building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers were also strong at 9.4 per cent. Meanwhile, Canadian eCommerce sales were up 15.1 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending January 2018. This, however, is only half of the 30.8 per cent annual increase recorded for 2017 over 2016, indicating that eCommerce sales growth may be slowing down, says Strapagiel.

Sexton Gets New Members

Tarpin Lumber and Truss, an Innisfil, ON-based building supply company, has joined Sexton Group Ltd. The company has been owned and operated by Dave Pratt and the Pratt family since 1986. Tampa Hall Ltd., a supplier to home builders, has also joined Sexton Group. Tampa Hall, founded in 1960, is a developer of framing construction technology and holds patents for wall assemblies. The company is managed by Jordan Rothwell and located in Ayr, ON.

Lack Of Familiarity Hurdle To Adoption Of Technologies

Consumers often stay with the familiar which may represent a hurdle to the adoption of emerging payment methods, says Visa. In a study of Canadian consumers, the company found that security and convenience remain the most important factors for Canadians when choosing a payment method. The survey shows 71 per cent of Canadians use chip-in-pin cards regularly, which is in line with their view that these cards are very convenient (82 per cent) and very secure (74 per cent). Contactless cards are increasingly a preferred way to pay with 52 per cent of consumers saying they use it regularly. Eighty per cent of Canadians view contactless cards as a very convenient way to pay and 45 per cent view it as very secure. Only 35 per cent of Canadians consider digital wallets very secure, followed by mobile apps (34 per cent), and wearables-based pay (26 per cent). With such low trust, it is not surprising that only nine per cent of consumers regularly use mobile apps to pay, six per cent use digital wallets, and three per cent use wearables. The company expects the use of these payment methods to become more popular as consumers become more familiar with the technologies.

Simpson Strong-Tie Acquires LotSpec App Suite

Simpson Strong-Tie has acquired LotSpec, a suite of software applications designed for construction document and option management solutions. This acquisition, coupled with the 2017 acquisition of CG Visions, is part of Simpson’s goal to strengthen partnerships with builders, architects, and engineers by offering scalable software solutions via key apps for the industry-standard design platforms Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture and Autodesk Revit.

USG Employee Receives Industry Award

Scott Qualls, director of sales and marketing, ceilings division with USG Corporation, was recognized by the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) as its ‘2018 DeGelleke Award’ winner. The DeGelleke Award is CISCA’s highest honour and is presented to a CISCA member who has made significant contributions to the industry and the association. Qualls has more than 40 years of experience in the ceilings industry, including nearly 15 years with USG.

April 2, 2018

Coalition Seeks Changes To Proposed Tax Amendments

The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness is asking Finance Minister Bill Morneau to take more action on the government's proposed tax changes which it says continue to unfairly target small business. The coalition, which consists of 73 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of business owners nationwide, says while budget measures addressed some of the concerns related to the complexity of earlier proposals on passive investments, the approach outlined in the 2018 budget means many firms with existing passive investments will lose access to the lower small business tax rate on future business income. The coalition is asking the government to conduct an economic impact assessment and delay implementing the tax changes until it is complete. It asks the government not to proceed with the passive investment rules or ensure passive investments are excluded when determining eligibility for the small business deduction going forward. As well, it suggests the government postpone the income splitting changes until January 2019 and consider a full exemption for spousal income and dividends from the new income splitting rules.

Quebecers Admire RONA

RONA ranked 10th as the ‘most admired company’ in Quebec, says a 2018 study by Léger research and strategic marketing firm in collaboration with NATIONAL Public Relations. The company was ranked as ‘most admired’ in the home improvement sector, and 12th among companies most admired by social media users in Quebec. The achievement is based upon quality of products/services, honesty and transparency, financial strength, social responsibility, and innovation.

USG Rejects Knauf Proposal

USG Corporation’s board of directors has unanimously rejected an unsolicited proposal by building material company Gebr. Knauf KG (Knauf) saying the offer substantially undervalues the company and is not in the best interest of shareholders. “USG has taken significant steps over the last two years to transform our company, our products, and our balance sheet, while lowering our cost structure and improving our competitive position,” says Jennifer Scanlon, president and chief executive officer of USG. “We expect our strategy to drive further revenue growth, margin expansion, and free cash flow – all of which will position us to deliver profitable growth and increased shareholder value.”

Moderate Growth Forecast For Fertilizer Sales

The market for lawn and garden packaged fertilizer will total $3.2 billion in 2022, representing annual growth of 2.7 per cent, says the Freedonia Group. Demand will benefit from a rebound in the number of households participating in gardening and lawn care activities and growth in the new residential construction market. Strong marketing campaigns by fertilizer producers will bolster demand, as will expanding availability of easy-to-use products with improved labeling, instructions, and specialized spreaders designed to make application of fertilizer neater and easier. Companies will also continue to develop new, improved, and more cost-effective formulated products, many of which may carry a higher initial cost, such as controlled-release types.

Strong Sales For Dollarama

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $938 million for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of 9.8 per cent compared to sales in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2017 year. Comparable store sales increased 5.5 per cent for the quarter, compared to growth of 5.8 per cent in the previous year quarter. Gross margin was unchanged at 41.4 per cent of sales. EBITDA was $253.8 million, up 12.2 per cent year-over-year. EBITDA was 27.1 per cent of sales compared to 26.5 per cent of sales. Operating income grew 11.6 per cent to $235.1 million.

March 29, 2018

Ontario Budget Follows Federal Lead

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) cautions that while the Ontario budget proposes new spending for economic development, it does nothing to alleviate rising input costs or tangibly address low business confidence. In fact, the Ontario government has chosen to follow the federal government's lead on changes to the tax code that will result in significant new taxes on Ontario's employer community. For example, businesses will be phased out of the small business deduction if they earn between $50,000 and $150,000 of passive investment income in the taxation year, resulting in an additional $350 million in new taxes for Ontario businesses over the next three years, it says. Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, says, "The Ontario budget not only fails to provide the offsets our members need, it will leave some businesses, including small businesses, paying more in taxes."

Eco-friendly Renovation Credit Extended

Quebec’s RénoVert tax credit has been extended by one year. The 2018 provincial budget now gives homeowners until March 31, 2019, to enter into an agreement with a qualified contractor and until December 31, 2019 to pay the renovation expenses. Worth up to $10,000 per qualifying home, the tax credit covers 20 per cent of the portion of eligible expenditures over $2,500 paid by an individual for eco-friendly renovations to a principal residence or cottage. The Quebec Economic Plan says extending the tax credit will provide tax assistance of nearly $172 million to individuals who will carry out eco-friendly renovation work after March 31.

BMR Express To Open In Caraquet

Businessman Michel Chiasson is opening a BMR hardware store in Caraquet, NB. Chaisson also owns Location JED and Tech Rescue. He is moving the offices of Location JED to Saint-Pierre Blvd., where he will also locate the hardware store. The 5,000-square-foot store will bear the name BMR Express, a variation of the Groupe BMR banner which represents smaller hardware stores. Chiasson says he chose BMR because it is a strong, well-known Francophone brand that sources 90 per cent of its products from Canadian vendors. The grand opening will take place in May.

BuildDirect Exits CCAA Protection, To Focus On Contractors

BuildDirect has completed its financial restructuring and raised US$43 million in funds. Effective March 22, the company’s plan of compromise and arrangement was implemented and it has now emerged from protection under both the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in Canada and Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The company filed for protection on October 31. Going forward, the company says it will renew its focus on professionals, including contractors, builders, and interior designers, which currently account for roughly one-third of the company’s revenue.

Steady Growth Expected In Metal Roofing Market

The 2017 North American metal roofing market is a $3.3 billion industry at the manufacturer factory gate level, says a study by Principia Consulting. It shows that 2017 was a notably strong year for metal roofing and expectations point to another record year in 2018, particularly since some of the growing pains of 2017 have been assimilated and the supply chain is stronger for it. Both metal roofing contractors and suppliers say they expect metal roofing to grow significantly over the next three years. Growth will be driven by expansion in both commercial and residential markets as well as by increasing acceptance of metal roofing among property owners as they come to more fully appreciate the robust performance of metal roofing and significant cost savings over the life of a roof. With a compound annual growth rate of seven per cent, metal roofing is expected to reach $4 billion by 2020.

Goulet Joins Italtinto

Mario Goulet is regional manager, Quebec, with paint and coatings tinting equipment manufacturer Italtinto Group Holdings Corporation. Previously, he was with Hero Products Group.

Sales Rise At HBC

HBC had retail sales of $4.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, a 2.1 per cent increase over retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Gross profit as a percentage of retail sales for the quarter was 39.7 per cent, a decline of 50 basis point compared to the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDAR was $528 million, a decrease of $36 million compared to last year. Net earnings were $84 million compared to a net loss $152 million in the prior year. This improvement in earnings is primarily due to a $181 million tax gain resulting from the recent U.S. tax reforms. Normalized net earnings were $20 million compared to $2 million a year ago.

March 28, 2018

Canadians Prefer Paying With Cards

Almost 80 per cent of Canadians are ‘card-first’ buyers who typically try to pay with a debit or credit card first when making purchases, finds a study by payments and point-of-sale company Square. A further 41 per cent of Canadians describe themselves as ‘card-only’ buyers who never use cash to pay for purchases. In fact, 75 per cent of Canadians are carrying less cash than in the past. In addition, just over two-thirds of Canadians say they are more likely to buy from a local business if they can pay by card. However, 85 per cent of small businesses that don’t accept cards don’t think they’re missing out on sales by not accepting cards. Square says the disconnect between buyers’ clear preference for paying by card and a business’s traditional cash- and cheque-only ethos indicates these businesses need to rethink how they let buyers pay as there is a cost to not accepting cards. The study shows two-thirds of Canadians think cash- and/or cheque-only businesses are old-fashioned and a further 47 per cent avoid them. As well, while the majority of small businesses (74 per cent) believe they will always accept cash, nearly a quarter (22 per cent) are intrigued by the idea of not accepting cash at all.

Lowe's Launches CEO Succession Plan

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has started a search for a successor to replace Robert A. Niblock, current chairman, president, and chief executive officer, who is planning to retire after 25 years with the company. He will remain in his current role until a successor is found.

Ace Hardware Partners With Joanna Gaines Paint

Ace Hardware in the U.S. has partnered with Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines Paint, marking the brand’s first-ever paint partnership with a hardware co-operative retailer. The interior paint line, created by designer and home renovation expert, Joanna Gaines, is now available for purchase on the retailer’s website and nearly 500 stores across the U.S. The line, which offers 150 interior paint colours, is a 100 per cent acrylic formula from the KILZ Brand and is designed to block, hide, and cover stains.

RCC Lobbies For Mercury-containing Lamp Inventories

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has discussed met proposed regulatory amendments for importers, retailers, and manufacturers of mercury-containing lamps that would take effect in 2019 with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) products division. RCC says it made sure that proposed amendments do not intend to restrict the sale of products that would already be in stores or on inventory after the amendments take effect. Only imports and manufacturing are covered by the changes. The proposed amendments will lower mercury content limit. ECCC also wants to prohibit the import and manufacture of CFLs as of 2023. Fluorescent tubes would not be affected, however, as viable and affordable alternatives have yet to be offered on the market. Companies interested in providing individual feedback on the amendments can do so by eMailing ECCC.

Hitachi Makes C-level Changes

Hiro Yumoto, president and chief executive officer of Hitachi Koki USA, Ltd., is chief strategy officer for Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd. in Japan. He will oversee corporate strategy, branding strategy, product management strategy, and advertising and public relations strategy. Hideki Fujii is chief financial officer for operations in North America. He previously served as chief financial officer for Hitachi Koki Australia. As well, Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd. (transitioning to Koki Holdings Co., Ltd. in June) is moving to an officer structured system to increase the velocity of operations and make clearer decisions in a timely manner.

Experts On Hand At Show

Hundreds of experts in home and garden improvement will be on hand at the ‘2018 Nova Scotia Spring Ideal Home Show.’ As well, exhibitors will be on hand to provide inspiration and information to homeowners for their upcoming projects. The show will feature everything for basic home improvements, maintenance projects, major renovations, and new construction with a focus on both indoor and outdoor projects. This year, the event is co-located with the ‘Ideal Garden & Patio Show,’ presented by Landscape Nova Scotia. It takes place April 6 to 8 at the Halifax Exhibition Centre in Halifax, NS. For information, visit Spring Ideal Home Show

March 27, 2018

Wholesale Sales Edge Up

Wholesale sales edged up 0.1 per cent to $63.3 billion in January, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, accounting for 66 per cent of total wholesale sales. Increases in the food, beverage, and tobacco and the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsectors were almost completely offset by declines in the building material and supplies and the motor vehicle and parts subsectors. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.5 per cent. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector fell four per cent to $8.9 billion, the first decline since August 2017. Sales in British Columbia rose for the third time in four months, up 1.4 per cent to $6.7 billion in January. Sales in Ontario rose 0.2 per cent to $32.6 billion. Saskatchewan recorded a third consecutive decrease in sales, down 3.3 per cent to $2.2 billion. The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.31 in December to 1.32 in January. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level

Burnstown Building Supply Starts Renovation

Renovations are underway at Burnstown Building Supply. The Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. member serves the Calabogie, ON, area. Set to re-open this spring, the updated store will feature a revamped retail spot, new paint section, and cash desk. The space will also include 20-foot ceilings, a mezzanine, and an insulation and bulk products shed.

Ficodis Acquires Elite Tools

Ficodis Group has acquired Elite Tools, a division of Les Scies Mercier Inc., a manufacturer of cutting tools founded in Lévis, QC, in 1891. Ficodis, a Quebec-based specialized industrial supply distributor, says the move will continue its expansion and help drive the development of its online sales strategy. Patrick Garant remains president of Elite Tools.

Cervus Sells Four Dealerships

Cervus Equipment Corporation has completed the sale of its construction dealership group, composed of four dealership locations in Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, and Fort McMurray, AB. As a result of the divestiture, Cervus' commercial and industrial segment, which sells Clark, Sellick, and Doosan material handling equipment, will be referred to as the industrial segment.

Lagacé Has IT Position

Jean Lagacé is vice-president, information technology for Groupe BMR. Previously, he worked at Agropur, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in the IT department.

Bruce Croxon To Host Payment Summit

Bruce Croxon, a Canadian entrepreneur, former Dragon's Den dragon, and current host of ‘The Disruptors’ on BNN and CTV, will host ‘The Payments Canada SUMMIT 2018.’ He will discuss how technology and the entrepreneurial spirit are transforming the way people pay. The event, which is expected to attract 1,500 industry delegates and over 150 speakers, will be held May 9 to 11 at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto, ON. For information, visit www.thesummit.ca

March 26, 2018

Retail Sales Inch Up

Retail sales increased 0.3 per cent in January to $49.9 billion, says Statistics Canada. General merchandise stores were the largest contributors to the increase. Sales were up in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 63 per cent of retail trade. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales increased 0.9 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were $3.1 billion, a 1.7 per cent decrease over December, but a 6.3 per cent increase over January 2017. Total retail sales were up in six provinces in January, with Ontario (1.2 per cent) reporting the largest gain in dollar terms. This was the sixth increase in seven months for Ontario. Sales in Quebec (0.8 per cent) fell for the first time in four months. Retail eCommerce sales totalled $1.3 billion in January, accounting for 3.1 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 14.8 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 5.9 per cent.

Home Depot, Pinterest To Expand Shopping Platform

U.S.-based Home Depot and Pinterest have partnered to expand Pinterest's visual discovery feature, ‘Shop the Look.’ With more than 100,000 new shoppable home décor products, including vanities, faucets, lighting, textiles, tabletop, and interior décor. Shop the Look allows Pinterest users to search and buy similar products to those featured in Pins. To shop a Pin, users can tap the circle on a product to see similar, shoppable items. The visual search expansion builds on the previous innovation between the platform and retailer. The Home Depot says the expansion of the partnership complements its growing online catalog of home and interior décor products, including a recent acquisition of the Company Store to broaden capabilities in textile development and sourcing.

USG Panels Achieve Fire Rating

USG Corporation has had a fire performance evaluation completed by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL). The testing concluded that 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) USG Sheetrock Brand EcoSmart Panels Firecode X (UL Type ULIX) and USG Sheetrock Brand EcoSmart Panels Mold Tough Firecode X (UL Type ULIX) are specified in more than 260 fire-rated wall, column, and floor- and roof-ceiling UL designs in which Type X or Type C panels are required. In addition to the fire-rated applications, USG Sheetrock Brand EcoSmart Panels Firecode X are lightweight panels, reducing project and ceiling installation time.

Eva Appointed Sales Agent, Ontario

Jack Eva is sales agent for Ontario with Banvil2000. He is the owner of Heritage Sales and Marketing Group and has an extensive background in the electrical distribution industry.

Kingfisher Sales Rise

UK-based home improvement company Kingfisher plc had sales of £11.7 billion for its 2017/2018 fiscal year, a 3.8 per cent increase over sales of £11.2 billion in for 2016/2017. Gross margin for the year was 36.9 per cent versus 37.2 per cent. Retail profit was £849 million, an increase of 0.3 per cent over retail profit of £847 million. Digital sales comprise more than 50 per cent of group sales and increased six per cent in the year compared to four per cent last year.

Smart, Connected Products Focus Of Show

The ‘2018 International Home + Housewares Show,’ held in Chicago in March, was sold-out with 2,244 exhibitors from 53 countries. The International Housewares Association (IHA) Smart Home Pavilion expanded to 28 exhibitors displaying emerging technologies and the latest in smart and connected products. It featured the Smart Talks stage and Smart Bar, where attendees could relax and network with colleagues. The Smart Talks stage featured 30-minute sessions led by established experts who discussed food trends, data security for businesses and consumers, and tracking capabilities of product packaging, along with innovators offering new retail models for reaching consumers and strategies for developing and managing data-driven connected products and their services. The ‘2019 International Home + Housewares Show’ will be held March 2 to 5 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. For information, visit www.housewares.org

March 23, 2018

New Housing Construction Strong

New housing construction investment totaled $4.4 billion in January, up 9.4 per cent compared with January 2017, says Statistics Canada. Investment was up for all dwelling types. Spending rose in eight provinces, led by Quebec (+$139.1 million), British Columbia (+$128.3 million), and Alberta (+$82.6 million). Apartment buildings were the largest contributor to the year-over-year growth in residential construction investment across the country, up $232.5 million (+16.9 per cent). Investment in row house construction rose $102.3 million (+26.3 per cent) compared with the same period a year earlier, while single home construction investment (+0.2 per cent) reported the smallest year-over-year increase since January 2016.

Customers Value Overall Experience

Chances are good people remember the last negative experience they had and probably shared it with friends and family. However, it is an overall great experience that brings them back, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says the relationship customers have with every business they support is predicated on experiences ‒ big, small, important, or trivial. “That relationship is exactly what brings them back or prompts them to take their business elsewhere,” he says. “Great customer experience guarantees loyal customers who are advocates for the business. Poor customer experience means customers will look for a better alternative.” The customer experience is about the feeling customers get when they walk in the store, the ease of finding information online or via mobile apps, the products the retailer carries (or doesn’t), the service culture, and the trust a business cultivates. Jenkins says retailers need to beat customers’ expectations and build trust to become their business of choice. He suggests finding and sharing their values. “Modern customers want to deal with companies they see as just and fair.” They want transparency, fair price, and respect. “Canadians usually don’t complain about poor experience, but half will move their business elsewhere.” And, while the loss of a customer can be costly, negative word of mouth can be far worse. He cites Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, who says, “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” Businesses must remember that trust is hard-won and more easily lost.

Duradek Reaches Milestone

Duradek has surpassed the milestone of achieving over 150 million square feet of vinyl waterproof deck surfaces installed in North America and beyond. The company was owned and operated by Bob and John Ogilvie for over 40 years and is now led by Bob’s daughter, Jennifer Ogilvie Brackett. In that time, the company has evolved from a regional business to a North American and international brand with active distributors in New Zealand and South Korea.

Renoworks Expands Digital Platform

Renoworks Software Inc. has expanded its digital platform to provide further integration with manufacturer pricing engines. The platform was created to streamline the contractor’s value chain of a renovation project consisting of budgeting, designing, measuring, quoting, and creating contracts. The company continues to work with manufacturers across all building product categories to bring visual solutions to the market and expand its product offerings. By utilizing the digital visualization platform, manufacturers of exterior and interior building products can benefit from increased engagement on company or partner websites, an increased number of homeowner leads, a better understanding of specific homeowner interests, and an aggregation of buyer behaviour data.

Acquisitions Drive Stella-Jones Sales

Stella-Jones Inc., a North American manufacturer of pressure treated wood products, had sales of $377.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, a 10.4 per cent increase over sales of $341.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Residential lumber sales were $48.6 million, up from $44.5 million in the 2016 quarter, reflecting solid market demand. Logs and lumber sales were $27.9 million versus $24.5 million. Net income for the quarter was $51.1 million, a 63.8 per cent increase over net income of $18.5 million in the year-ago period. During the quarter, the company acquired Ontario-based Wood Products Industries Inc. and Manitoba-based Prairie Forest Products, a division of Prendiville Industries Ltd.

Rodgerson To Discuss Retail Digital Transformation

Today’s retail landscape is being rocked by digital transformation. For retailers to succeed, they need to rethink the way all their channels work together. At the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Leaders in Retail Breakfast Series,’ speaker Dave Rodgerson, retail industry lead with Microsoft Canada, will discuss the next retail shift where offline and online shipping converge into a single, seamless channel and how artificial intelligence (AI) will become the backbone of this digital transformation. The session will explore how AI is being used to identify new insights that help optimize pricing and inventory management and enhance the customer experience. It takes place April 19 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, BC. For information, visit www.retailcouncil.org

March 22, 2018

Annual Retail Trade Has Steady Rise

Store and non-store retailers had operating revenue of $595.1 billion in 2016, up 3.8 per cent from 2015, says Statistics Canada in its ‘Annual Retail Trade’ report. The growth was driven by higher sales in three subsectors (motor vehicle and parts dealers, food and beverage stores, and health and personal care stores), which together contributed more than two-thirds to the increase. Slowing the overall growth in total operating revenue was gasoline stations, which declined 2.1 per cent to $56.5 billion in 2016. The cost of goods sold by retailers, representing 72.9 per cent of operating revenue, increased 3.6 per cent in 2016. Total operating expenses, which include labour remuneration, grew four per cent to $131.5 billion. Gross margin edged up from 27 per cent in 2015 to 27.1 per cent in 2016 while operating profit margins edged up from 4.9 per cent in 2015 to five per cent in 2016. Retailers turned over their inventory (cost of goods sold divided by the average inventory value) 5.7 times in 2016, down from 5.9 times in 2015.

Minden Residents Win Castle Renovation Contest

Minden, ON, residents Ed and Grace Schuurmans won $5,000 towards a home renovation project in Castle Building Centres Group Ltd.’s ‘Great Canadian Fall Renovation Contest.’ The couple entered last fall through Cottage Country Building Supplies, a Castle member in Carnarvon, ON. Other winners included Megan Jensen of Sylvan Lake, AB, who entered at Wolf Creek Building Supplies, also in Sylvan Lake; and Serena Gardner of Tower Hill, NB, who entered at Keith's Building Supplies in St George, NB. Castle runs the fall contest and a spring/summer contest every year across Canada to provide member locations with a means of generating excitement within their communities and draw more local exposure.

RONA Launches Parcel Shipping

Lowe’s Canada banner RONA now offers parcel shipping. Canadians can shop on rona.ca and have their order delivered almost anywhere in the country in one to two days. The retailer says the service will round out its in-store pickup and truck delivery services introduced in 2017. In addition, last December, RONA switched to a responsive web design to improve the customer experience on its website. The site now adapts to the size of the screen being used whether the user is on a smartphone, tablet, or small or large computer screen. The website also has an updated look.

Canadian Debt On The Rise

Canadian households’ credit market debt reached a record high in the second quarter of 2017. This is debt from mortgages, lines of credit, home equity lines of credit, car loans, credit cards, and other consumer credit, says the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in its national ‘Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends’ report for the second quarter of 2017. The report shows that consumers’ average monthly obligations increased for all major credit products relative to the second quarter of 2016. In particular, average non-mortgage obligations reached their highest level compared to the same quarter in all previous years since 2013. The average credit card balance per consumer increased to $2,910. This was a 1.1 per cent increase from a year earlier. Also, this indicator has been trending up since the second quarter of 2014. More encouragingly, the share of mortgage loans of which payment was in arrears for 90 or more days was at its lowest in five years. Overall, the data shows that consumers have a lot of confidence in using credit to make large purchases. However, this dependence on credit, coupled with a declining household savings rate, is worrying. These factors, together, mean that households have a lower capacity to manage their debts.

M-D Building Products Acquires RCR International

Oklahoma-based M-D Building Products, Inc. has purchased a majority of the assets of Québec-based RCR International, Inc. and its Chicago-based wholly-owned subsidiary, W.J. Dennis. RCR International and W.J. Dennis produce and distribute weather-stripping, insulation components, screening, snow brushes, squeegees, and other hardware and seasonal across North America. Carpet and rug runners are the only category which were not acquired as part of the transaction. M-D says the expanded product offering enhances its ability to supply existing customers with new product lines, as well as bring new M-D customers a broader product and quality selection. Earlier this year M-D acquired Morse Industries as part of its strategy to expand in the North American market.

Pirwitz Has New Role

Dave Pirwitz is sales manager, western region, with Deceuninck. He is responsible for business development in western Canada and the U.S. He has 21 years of experience in the fenestration industry and has been with Deceuninck since 2016.

Home Hardware Pro Show Comes To Moncton

Home Hardware Stores Limited’s ‘Annual Pro Show’ brings contractors, renovators, builders, and tradespeople to an invitation-only national event that stops in six cities across Canada. Sixty-five hardware and building material suppliers will be featured at the show and contractors can also participate in the ‘Contractor Skills’ competitions including the driver drill competition, golf challenge, strong arm, and home hoops. Each competition will run for the duration of the show. There will be giveaways and door prizes awarded. The next show takes place from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on March 27 at the Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, NB.

March 21, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Decline

Manufacturing sales decreased one per cent to $54.9 billion in January, says Statistics Canada. Declines in the motor vehicles and aerospace product and parts, as well as the primary metal industries, were responsible for the overall drop. Overall, sales were down in 14 of 21 industries, representing 56 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales of durable goods declined 3.5 per cent to $28.2 billion, while sales of non-durable goods increased 1.7 per cent to $26.8 billion. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales in volume terms declined 1.1 per cent. Decreases were also seen in the wood product (4.1 per cent), machinery (3.1 per cent), and paper (four per cent) industries. Sales fell in five provinces in January, with Ontario posting the largest decline in dollars and Saskatchewan posting the largest monthly increase. The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.36 in December to 1.39 in January. Unfilled orders rose 0.6 per cent to $86.7 billion in January, following two months of declines, and new orders rose for a second consecutive month, edging up 0.1 per cent to $55.4 billion in January.

Quebecers Rate RONA Influential

RONA ranked one of the highest among retail brands in the 2018 list of influential brands with Quebec roots by Ipsos-Infopresse. Ranked in 17th position, RONA was scored on five pillars that are key factors of influence – commitment, trust, presence, innovation, and social responsibility.

Businesses Want More Payment Options

Small businesses in Canada are ready for more payment options, says a survey by Payments Canada. Businesses want more choice for their customers at point-of-sale and more options for their back-office payments to suppliers and vendors, such as e-transfers, e-wallets, and digital currencies. Most importantly, small businesses want their payments to be safe and secure. The report, ‘Payments Pulse: Small Business Survey Edition,’ shows 81 per cent of small businesses are willing to integrate new technologies into their operations. Newer businesses are even keener, rising to 88 per cent for those in operation 10 years or less. Sixty-one per cent would be willing to move away from cash, if they had other options. More than half, (54 per cent) of businesses believe they are spending too much time on payment processing activities and 87 per cent of small business owners think it is important that the payments industry continues to evolve. The introduction of new systems, rules, and standards as part of Payments Canada's Modernization program will foster a faster, safer, and more data-rich payments environment, says the organization.

Husqvarna Robotic Mowers Now Compatible With Alexa

Husqvarna’s robotic mowers are now compatible with the cloud-based voice service Alexa. This first version of the platform will be able to take care of commonly used commands such as start, stop, and park, providing an additional way of integrating with the robotic mower besides the existing mobile applications. The first version will be available September 1 in all Automower Connect equipped robotic mowers.

Demand For Eye, Face Protection Equipment To Grow

The North American above-the-neck personal protective equipment market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.9 per cent to reach $1.3 million by 2020, says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The fastest growing segments are expected to be eye and face protection, followed by head and ear protection, due to the rise of high-risk industries and increased worker safety regulations. Compliance and adoption will be boosted as regulatory bodies increase their scrutiny of safety practices and providers direct their investment toward educating end users on workplace injuries. Growth in the market is likely to be driven by commoditized products and specialty products. Notably, the entry of Millennials in the workforce is creating demand for fashionable eyewear that comes equipped with non-metallic or non-conductive frames and wrap style.

Hardwoods Distribution Sales Increase

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. had sales of $247 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 3.3 per cent over sales of $239 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales in Canada for the quarter were $169 million versus $155 million, a 5.1 per cent increase. Gross profit was $44.6 million, an increase of 2.3 per cent over a gross profit of $43.5 in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $10.7 million, a decrease of adjusted EBITDA of $10.9 million last year.

March 19, 2018

National Home Sales Continue Tumble

National home sales declined further in February, the second consecutive monthly decline, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales declined by 6.5 per cent from January to February, with actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity down 16.9 per cent year-over-year. The number of newly listed homes recovered by 8.1 per cent from January to February. Sales were down from the previous month in almost three-quarters of all local housing markets, with large monthly declines in and around Greater Vancouver, BC, and the Greater Toronto, ON, Area. The agency says that while housing market fundamentals remain supportive in many parts of the country, housing markets continue to face policy-related headwinds.

Strong U.S.  Growth Anticipated In Home Improvement Products

Total U.S. home improvement products sales are forecast to increase 5.3 per cent in 2018 to $387 billion in total sales. This compares to a strong year in 2017, where sales increased 5.6 per cent, says the HIRI/HIS Markit forecast. The professional market is expected to increase 4.4 per cent year-over-year and the consumer market should see a sales increase of 5.7 per cent. HIRI expects U.S. growth in home improvement product sales to slow slightly over the next few years, averaging 3.6 per cent in 2019 through 2022. Consumer market growth is expected to be stronger in 2018 and throughout the forecast horizon, with the exception of 2022 where the professional market is projected to exceed consumer market growth by one percentage point.

Sharing Economy Presents Risks

The sharing economy results in many benefits, but it also involves great challenges, mainly in terms of consumer protection, says a study by Option consommateurs. The sharing economy is an umbrella term used to describe economic activity involving online activities including the sharing and sales of property, goods, and services. These transactions can be peer-to-peer, business-to-consumer, and business-to-business. Option consommateurs says consumers using online sharing economy platforms (OSEPs) who seek to exercise their rights will face significant challenges because they’ve entered two contracts – one with the OSEP and one with the provider of the goods or services – and each contract has its own unique features. On top of that, consumer protection laws are not always adapted to the sharing economy. Another problem is that OSEPs claim to offer service without any warranty and deny all forms of liability because they consider themselves a ‘matchmaking’ service. Such practice conflicts with some provincial legislation and violates consumers’ right to access to justice, says the consumer protection organization.

AmesburyTruth To Acquire Ashland Hardware

AmesburyTruth, a supplier of engineered components to the door and window industry, plans to acquire Ashland Hardware, a supplier of residential window and door hardware. The acquisition will enable AmesburyTruth to broaden its hinged window, hung/sliding window, and patio door product portfolios. Ashland has four facilities across North America and Mexico, including a manufacturing/distribution facility in Woodbridge, ON.

Housewares Gateway To Other Online Categories

U.S. online sales of housewares products increased 18 per cent in 2017, says the NPD Group in its ‘Checkout’ consumer receipt mining service. On average, nearly a quarter of online buyers purchase housewares, buying three to four of these items online in a year. In addition, more than half of these buyers also purchased other items for their home in 2017. The top categories among U.S. housewares eCommerce buyers were food storage, gadgets, and tabletop categories, with more than one in four buyers purchasing them online, outpacing the industry average. Three-quarters of these eCommerce buyers also purchased home improvement items online, about 60 per cent purchased small appliances, and half purchased home textiles. Online housewares buyers also purchased major home appliances online in the last year, though these bigger ticket purchases were not as common. The connection between online housewares buyers and other industries goes deeper than the category level. Over 60 per cent of online buyers who purchased a private label housewares brand in 2017 also purchased private label products outside of housewares.

Sadinsky Joins Walmart Canada

Tammy Sadinsky is vice-president of communications with Walmart Canada. Previously, she was chief marketing officer with Tim Hortons.

Williams-Sonoma Grows

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. had net revenue growth of 6.2 per cent to $1.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017 over net revenue of $1.6 billion in the same period a year ago. The company had positive comparable brand revenue growth in all brands, including Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma at 4.1 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively. eCommerce revenue growth increased 8.4 per cent to $877 million from $809 million a year ago. eCommerce net revenues represented 52.2 per cent of total company net revenues versus 51.1 per cent last year. Retail net revenues in the quarter increased 3.9 per cent to $803 million from $773 million.

Conference Focuses On Health And Safety

The shifting landscapes in health and safety are the focus of Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ ‘Partners In Prevention 2018.’ Topics covered at the event include safety, workplace violence prevention, contractor safety management, legal access to marijuana, ergonomics, and workplace harassment. It takes place May 1 and 2 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, click here

March 16, 2018

CHHMA Names 2018 Hall Of Fame Inductees

Gerry Byle, retired general manager of Kaz Canada and the Canadian division of Honeywell Consumer Products; Vaughn Crofford, retired president of the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) and previous director of marketing at Federated Co-operatives Limited; and M. Yves Gagnon, retired president chief executive officer of Groupe BMR; will be inducted to the CHHMA ‘2018 Industry Hall of Fame.’ The event will be held at an industry luncheon on April 3 at the CHHMA spring conference. The Hall of Fame was established in 1984 to recognize the achievements of the hardware and housewares industry leaders and pioneers. Since that time, 65 industry icons, inventors, business founders, and builders from the retail and manufacturing sectors have received the honour.

Van Dolder’s Home Team Joins Castle

Van Dolder’s Home Team has joined the Castle Building Centres Group. The business has two locations along the shores of Georgian Bay ‒ one in Collingwood, ON, and the other in Owen Sound, ON. Van Dolder’s offers an extensive selection of key building material products and professional installation services. Additionally, each site features a designer showroom with built-in model home segments. The family business was founded in 1964 by father Andy Van Dolder and is managed today by sons Kris and Tim. They chose Castle because its business model allows them to maintain their independence while taking advantage of the group’s buying power.

Sexton Adds Members

Sexton Group has added two new members in Ontario. Royal Homes was founded in 1971 and blends traditional craftsmanship with modern technology to produce custom homes that are built faster than outdoor-built homes. Right from the beginning, the company focused on how best to serve its customers and today it has grown into one of Ontario’s leading providers of quality custom homes. It has a 110,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Wingham, ON. General Coach Canada was established in 1950, operating out of Hensall, ON. It makes park model RVs, rental cabins, mobile homes, and theatrical trailers. It is a 100 per cent ‘Made in Canada,’ family operation. In 2010, the Faulkner name took ownership of the company, which remains in the small community. Roger Faulkner is president and two of his children are involved in the business with his son Chris developing innovative ideas that are appealing to a new market and moving the industry forward. Steve Buckle, president of Sexton Group, says these two are part of its continued efforts to its manufactured home membership.

PG Adds More Flooring Structures

PG Hardwood Flooring has added two new structures of engineered products. In addition to the ModelSmart, the ModelDistinct and the ModelInspire will now be offered in its product line. The ModelDistinct floors feature a 13-mm pine bottom layer and a 3-mm hardwood top layer. The product is made in Canada and comes in a width of 111-mm, a matte finish, and a choice of five wood species (red oak, maple, birch, white oak, hickory). The ModelInspire floors come in matte, satin, semi-gloss, or ModelExtreme finishes, in widths of 131-mm and 182-mm, and in two grades ‒ select and heritage. The product is also made in Canada.

De’Longhi Expands Product Portfolio

De’Longhi has expanded its home comfort product portfolio with a collection of portable air conditioners and bathroom heaters. The expanded suite of home comfort products include additions to the Pinguino EX Series Portable Air Conditioner line and Pinguino DeLuxe line with models featuring heating functions, antibacterial biosilver filters, ‘whisper cool’ technology, and new colours options. The company has launched the Caldobagno 1500W Bathroom Fan Heater that features an adjustable thermostat, three heat settings, a fan setting, and a programmable timer. The products will be available later this year.

Campbell Joins NCR

Daniel Campbell is executive vice-president of global sales with NCR Corporation. Previously, he was senior vice-president and general manager at Virtustream, an enterprise cloud company.

NanaWall Holds Open House

NanaWall Systems, the manufacturers of the opening glass wall category, will hold a series of national open houses across all 24 North American showrooms. The event, called ‘Experience the DOORS,’ offers architects and interior designers the chance to operate NanaWall’s glass wall systems and meet their local representatives. It will also include American Institute of Architects (AIA)/Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC) Continuing Education Unit (CEU) Lunch & Learn presentations for licensed architects to fulfill membership requirements or renew state licences. It takes place March 29 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Nanawall

March 15, 2018

Luxury Home Sales In GTA Should Pick Up

While luxury homes sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Oakville, and Hamilton-Burlington, ON, have fallen short of last year's record-breaking pace, this segment of the market will still see plenty of move-up activity in 2018, says a report by RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Region. Its ‘2018 RE/MAX Luxury Property Report’ shows that 76 freehold and condominium properties sold over the $3-million price point in the GTA in the first two months of 2018, down from 180 sales during the same period in 2017. In the $5-million-plus category, luxury sales fell 46 per cent to 15 transactions in the GTA, compared with 28 one year ago. Oakville reported slower sales in the first two months of the year as well, with six homes selling over $3 million, compared to 15 last year. Fifty-nine homes sold over $1 million in Hamilton-Burlington, down from 133 in 2017. Only condominium apartments and townhomes located in Toronto proper bucked the trend, with eight sales over $3 million so far this year, up from five during the same period in 2017. And, although sales were soft in the earliest part of 2018, given consistent demand and limited supply, the core should continue to demonstrate growth.

Built Green Canada Reaches Milestone

Built Green Canada has surpassed a milestone of 30,000 single-family projects being certified and, including the units in high density projects, the total was over 33,830. With this milestone, the cumulative impact of these certified homes translates into more than half a million (505,917.52) tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saved. The programs take a holistic approach to sustainable building and include energy efficiency through Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System, the preservation of natural resources, pollution reduction, ventilation and air quality, and improvements to home durability. Over the years, the number of builders participating has grown as the demand for sustainable builds increases, driven by homebuyers, industry members, and all orders of government. This year marks Built Green Canada’s 15th year in operation. To commemorate this and shine a light on those building more sustainably in the residential building sector, the organization will launch an online awards program in the coming months. The awards will complement existing award programs and will focus on advanced building technologies and innovations that are contributing to the home building industry.

Phantom Screen Launches North American Media Campaign

Phantom Screens has launched a North American ad campaign entitled ‘You'll See.’ The campaign communicates the key benefit of a Phantom Screen door versus a typical, fixed sliding patio screen or 'old school' front screen door. The campaign includes digital, YouTube pre-roll, direct marketing, media relations, and more. Designed by Clever Samurai agency, the campaign includes headlines such as ‘They disappear when you don't want them. Unlike your in-laws’ and ‘They roll in. They roll out. Like Hurricane Elvis.’

Sarrica To Lead Ames, ClosetMaid

Michael A. Sarrica is president of the combined Ames Companies and ClosetMaid with Griffon Corporation. Previously, he was president of the Ames Companies. He joined the company through the acquisition of Southern Patio in 2011.

Renovation Experts Featured At Show

The Atlantic National Home Show returns to New Brunswick for its 41st time and will give visitors access to leaders and experts in the homebuilding and renovation industries. It will feature exhibitors, a Boys & Girls Club booth, family-friendly games and activities, new products, and show-only specials. It takes place March 16 to 18 at the Harbour Station in Saint John, NB. For more information, visit www.AtlanticNationalHomeShow.ca

March 14, 2018

Retired Orgill Chairman Passes Away

Joseph Orgill III, retired chairman of Orgill, Inc., died at Baptist Hospital on March 12 after a brief illness. Having graduated from the Taft School in 1955 and Yale University in 1959, he joined Orgill Brothers & Company as a salesman and later served as president from 1968-1980 and chairman of the board until 2005. He was an inaugural inductee into the Home Channel Hall of Fame as well as the president of the Society of Entrepreneurs. Active in the business, civic, and religious life of his city, Memphis, TN, he served as director of First Tennessee Bank, chairman of the board of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and chairman of the Board of the Church Health Center. He gave and received much joy in serving others in many ways including delivering Meals on Wheels. A lifelong Episcopalian, he was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church. He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Irene Leatherman Orgill; four daughters, Adele, Irene, Anne, and Kate; nine grandchildren; two great grandchildren; and a sister, Kate Orgill Boone. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, TN. The family requests that memorials be sent to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens (4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117), the Church Health Center (1350 Concourse Avenue #142, Memphis, TN 38104), or St. John’s Episcopal Church (3245 Central Ave., Memphis, TN, 38111).

U.S. Retailers Concerned About Tariffs, NAFTA

U.S. retailers are troubled by the direction of current and future tariffs and ongoing NAFTA negotiations. “The retail industry is extremely concerned by the [Trump] administration’s apparent desire to ignite a trade war, where the net losers will be the very people the president wants to help,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation (NRF). “A tariff is a tax, plain and simple. In this case, it’s an unnecessary tax on every American family and a self-inflicted wound on the nation’s economy. Consumers are just beginning to see more money in their paychecks following tax reform, but those gains will soon be offset by higher prices for products ranging from canned goods to cars to electronics.” He says the true greatness of America cannot be realized by building walls blocking the free flow of commerce in today’s global economy.

WEATHER GUARD Launches Enhanced Website

WEATHER GUARD, a manufacturer of truck and van equipment, has upgraded its website with industry-specific features including the ability to select products based on truck or van manufacturer and models. The site was designed with contractors in mind and features digital capabilities that allow contractors and truck owners to quickly search through the product catalog. The site is modified for use on a phone, tablet, or computer. The company has also launched a collection of mounting kits for compact and full-size vans and universal racks and accessories that can be installed without a drill.

IHA Launches Consumer Lifestyle Magazine

The International Housewares Association (IHA) has launched a consumer-focused print and digital magazine called ‘The Inspired Home Journal.’ The inaugural issue was launched at the International Home + Housewares Show and is now also available online at TheInspiredHome.com/Journal. The publication was created to further expand IHA’s consumer engagement initiative which focuses on the IHA’s mission to help exhibiting members reach the consumer through lifestyle-oriented content and ultimately increase sales of home and housewares products.

Boudreau Now Territory Sales Manager

Ryan Boudreau is territory sales manager (GTA specification) with Liteline Corporation. He has been with the company since 2016. Previously, he was with Randstad.

PFB Income Rise Slightly

PFB Corporation, parent company of Plasti-Fab Ltd., had consolidated net income of $1.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase over consolidated net income of $1.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2016. Consolidated sales for the quarter were $28 million compared to consolidated sales of $25 million in the year-ago period, a 11.9 per cent increase. Adjusted EBITDA was $2.7 million versus $3 million.

Pictou County Home Show Returns

The ‘Pictou County Home Show’ in Nova Scotia is returning for its second year. Homeowners and home buyers can learn about products and services related to new home construction, renovations, remodels, and home improvement projects. It takes place March 23 to 25 at the Pictou County Wellness Centre in New Glasgow, NS. For more information, visit www.PictouCountyHomeShow.ca

March 13, 2018

Economy Expected To Slow

After a year of rapid growth, the Canadian economy is expected to slow in 2018 amid the prospect of rising interest rates and lower consumer spending, says an RBC ‘Economic Outlook.’ Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is forecasted to slow to 1.9 per cent in 2018, followed by 1.6 per cent in 2019, compared to three per cent in 2017. "Following a 3.5 per cent increase in consumer spending in 2017, we anticipate that rising interest rates will take their toll on indebted Canadians throughout 2018," says Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC. "But a healthy labour market and rising wages will help soften this blow. While the Canadian consumer reins in their spending, we expect business investment and government outlays to contribute more significantly to the economy."

End Of NAFTA Would Have Short-term Impact

Canada's economy would lose about half a percentage point of growth and about 85,000 jobs in the first year following the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, says the Conference Board of Canada. Although growth would largely recover in the year following the end of NAFTA thanks to a lower exchange rate and reduced interest rates, the level of gross domestic product (GDP) would remain permanently lower, representing a loss in income across Canada. The analysis suggests a modest impact on the Canadian economy if NAFTA is abolished and replaced by MFN tariffs. In the longer term, Canada would lose the ability to attract investment related to securing access to the U.S. market. The resumption of tariffs on previously-exempt goods would immediately make Canadian exports more expensive in the U.S. However, a lower Canadian dollar post-NAFTA would mitigate the average increase in prices of Canadian goods in the U.S. Overall real merchandise exports would decline by 1.8 per cent in the year following a NAFTA termination. Motor vehicle and parts exports would feel the most significant effect. There would also be significant declines in exports of consumer goods, food and beverages, chemicals, wood products, and agricultural products.

Home Hardware Pro Show Comes To Quebec City

Home Hardware Stores Limited’s ‘Annual Pro Show’ welcomes contractors, renovators, builders, and tradespeople to the invitation-only national event that stops in six cities across Canada. Sixty-five hardware and building material suppliers will be featured at the show and contractors can also participate in the ‘Contractor Skills’ competitions including the driver drill competition, golf challenge, strong arm, and home hoops. Each competition will run for the duration of the show. There will be giveaways and door prizes awarded. The next show takes place from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on March 14 at the Complexe Capitale Hélicoptère in Québec City, QC.

EISENWARENMESSE Reaches More International People

EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair 2018’ in Cologne, Germany, recently wrapped up with a total 2,770 exhibitors from 58 countries and over 47,000 trade visitors (up nine per cent) from 143 countries. Eighty-seven per cent of the exhibitors and over 70 per cent of the trade visitors came from abroad. Significant growth was registered from Asia, especially from Japan, and from North and South America, Africa, and from the Russian Federation. The number of international buyers was correspondingly high. For the exhibitions, the fair included new products, innovations, and trends from categories including tools, industrial supply, fasteners, and fittings as well as house and garden and DIY products. It also featured speakers and events on topics such as digitalization and awards celebrating innovation. The next ‘EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair Cologne’ is scheduled to take place March 1 to 4, 2020.

Brick To Carry Sharp Products

Sharp Electronics of Canada Ltd. will expand its home appliance product offerings to the Brick. The company says the decision is part of a strategic effort to offer the Canadian consumer more access to Sharp's appliances, technology, and design. The Brick will feature products such as microwave drawer ovens and the three-in-one SuperSteam+ oven. All other models will be available online or through store-order.

Gluckstein Takes On New Role

Brian Gluckstein is home design ambassador with Hudson’s Bay. His brand, GlucksteinHome, has been part of the retailer for 15 years. In this new role, he will offer his expertise to inspire customers to find design solutions. As of this spring, he will be featured in seasonal look books, print marketing, and on the website in a series of videos.

Huttig Year-over-year Sales Flat

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $198.7 million for the second quarter of 2017, an increase of less than one per cent over net sales of 197.9 for the second quarter of 2016. Gross margin was unchanged at $42.2 million. Income from continuing operations before taxes was $3.4 million versus $9.4 million, and net income was $2.2 million versus $10.4 million in the year-ago period. Millwork sales increased four per cent year-over-year.

Event Focuses On Design And Merchandising

Store design, shopper marketing, visual merchandising, and retail technology are just some of the topics covered at GlobalShop. The event features exhibitors, pavilions, educational sessions, and networking opportunities. It takes place March 27 to 29 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. For information, visit www.globalshop.org

March 12, 2018

Ontario Multi-family Dwellings Drive Building Permits

Canadian municipalities issued $8.4 billion in building permits in January, up 5.6 per cent following a 2.5 per cent rise in December, says Statistics Canada. The value of permits for three components rose, while industrial buildings (18.6 per cent) and single-family dwellings (1.3 per cent) declined. The January increase was largely due to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario. Nationally, apartments accounted for approximately three-quarters of the value of permits for multi-family dwellings in January, while row houses made up just under 18 per cent. The rest of the multi-family dwelling component is comprised of permits for doubles such as semi-detached homes, and minor residential additions and renovations (permits under $50,000). Sixteen of the 36 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported gains, led by Toronto, ON, at a 25.5 per cent increase.

Home Depot Foundation Supports Skilled Trades Training

The Home Depot Foundation will contribute $50 million to train 20,000 U.S. tradespeople over the next 10 years in order to fill the growing skilled labour gap. There are currently 158,000 unfilled construction sector jobs in the U.S. – a number that is expected to increase significantly as tradespeople retire over the next decade. In 2017, the foundation launched a pilot trades training program for separating military members in partnership with the non-profit Home Builders Institute (HBI). The first set of students will graduate this month. The 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program, which is provided at no cost to students, uses an industry-based curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. The program, which has a job placement rate of more than 90 per cent, will now roll out on additional bases across the United States.

Masco Completes Kichler Acquisition

Masco Corporation, a global manufacturers of branded home improvement and building products, has completed the acquisition of the L.D. Kichler Co. Based in Cleveland, OH, Kichler is a developer of decorative residential and light commercial lighting products, ceiling fans, and LED lighting systems across both consumer and professional distribution channels. It had revenues of approximately $450 million in 2017.

CanWel Revenues Increase

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd.’s consolidated revenues increased by 16.1 per cent to $1.14 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 which ended December 31 compared to $978.3 million in the same period in 2016. Sales for the building materials distribution segment increased by $142.4 million or 15.2 per cent, largely due to the company’s continuing focus on its product mix strategies and target customer base, continued strengthening of U.S. housing markets, and the results from the Honsador and TFI acquisitions, as well as an upward trend in construction material pricing. Sales for the forestry segment increased by $15.2 million or 37.7 per cent. The forestry segment commenced operations on May 13, 2016. Net earnings during the quarter, before the non-recurring items, increased by 91.9 per cent to $7.1 million. This represents a 43 per cent increase

Intertape Revenue Rises

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. had revenue of $237.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 13.1 per cent over revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016. Gross margin decreased to 22.8 per cent from 25.6 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings were $21.3 million for the quarter, a decrease of $0.4 million over the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA increased 0.2 per cent to $35.7 million.

March 9, 2018

Moderate Rise In Housing Starts Trend

The trend in housing starts was 225,276 units in February 2018, compared to 224,572 units in January 2018, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The trend has been very stable since November 2017, masking offsetting trends for multi-unit and single-detached dwellings. Multi-unit starts trended higher in recent months in most major urban centres while single-detached starts have trended lower. Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA) continued to build on the increase in construction activity in the previous month, leading to a strong start to the year in 2018. Total housing starts in the Calgary CMA trended lower in February 2018, compared to the previous month as the relative pace of starts declined from January. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 229,737 units in February, up from 215,260 units in January.

Planned Projects Move Higher

The ‘Dodge Momentum Index’ increased 0.5 per cent in February to 146.9 from the revised January reading of 146.2. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The move higher in February was the result of an 8.2 per cent increase in the institutional component, while the commercial component contracted 4.8 per cent. The commercial component has declined for two consecutive months and while this should not lead to an outright decline in construction activity, it is an additional sign that commercial building construction growth could ease in 2018 in response to rising vacancy rates for offices and warehouses. On the other hand, institutional building construction continues to feed off the massive number of state and local bonds issued for schools and other institutional buildings over the past few election cycles.

Superior Glove Launches Revamped Site

Super Glove has launched its revamped website (www.superiorglove.com). The goal of the redesign was to offer easy access to essential information for customers and to streamline the site with the company’s new branding. Tweaks include improved methods of finding products, information articles, and other resources. The website also features the ‘Glove Selector,’ which helps customers narrow down the options to find the right protection based on ‘hazard’ or ‘industry.’

EISENWARENMESSE Gives Awards

KNIPEX-Werk C. Gustav Putsch KG was awarded the EISEN CSR Award at EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair Cologne. The Innovation Award 2018 was given to three companies, HAZET-Werk Hermann Zerver Gmbh & Co. KG for its HiPer fine-toothed reversible ratchet 916 HP ‒ 1000 Nm, 90 teeth; KNIPEX-WERK C. Gustav Putsch KG for its KNIPEX rope cutter 95 62 160; and Wiha Werkzeuge GmbH for its Wiha SpeedE. EISENWARENMESSE took place in Cologne, Germany from March 4 to 7.

Roseburg To Acquire Pembroke MDF

Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products plans to acquire the medium density fibreboard (MDF) and moulding production facilities of Ontario-based Pembroke MDF, Inc. The acquisition will be Roseburg’s first international purchase and will continue the company’s expansion throughout North America. The company is currently building an engineered wood products plant in South Carolina and recently acquired 158,000 acres of timberland in Virginia and North Carolina. It also owns and operates an MDF plant in Oregon which produces the company’s Arreis, Medite, Medex, Permacore, and Fibrlite product lines. The deal is expected to close in April.

3M Names New CEO

Michael F. Roman is chief executive officer with 3M, effective July 1. He has served as chief operating officer and executive vice-president since July 2017, with direct responsibility for 3M’s five business groups, along with the company’s international operations. He has been with the company for 30 years.

Sales Strong For Ply Gem

Ply Gem Holdings, Inc. had total net sales of $516.9 million for the fourth quarter of its 2017 fiscal year, an increase of 11.8 per cent over total net sales of $462.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Increased sales were partially due to higher Canadian net sales. Operating earnings were $34.4 million for the quarter, an increase of 11.8 per cent year-over-year. Net income was $14.6 million, an increase of $7.9 million, while adjusted EBITDA increased $6.1 million to $51 million. Gross profit margin was 21.3 per cent, which represented a decrease of 110 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2016. The siding, fencing, and stone segment had an increase of 14.7 per cent in net sales for the quarter compared to the year-ago period. The windows and doors segment had an increase of 9.l5 per cent year-over-year.

PEI Home Show Celebrates 34 Years

This year marks the 34th edition of the ‘PEI Provincial Home Show’ that will offer visitors the chance to shop, learn about the hottest new products, get expert advice, find inspiration for their home, and plan large and small renovations. The event takes place to March 11 at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, PE. For more information, visit www.PEIHomeShow.ca

March 8, 2018

Canadian Holiday eCommerce Sales Significant

The 2017 holiday period was a time of significant growth for Canadian retailers who invested in their eCommerce infrastructures, says Absolunet in its ‘eCommerce Holiday Index for Canadian Retailers.’ The report shows that eCommerce revenue grew 53 per cent compared to revenue for the 2016 holiday period, while conversion rates (CVR) grew 14.43 per cent year-over-year. As well, the Canadian average order value (AOV) was higher than the U.S. AOV and mobile transactions doubled over 2016 representing almost half of all eCommerce traffic. “Most retailers in the index had their biggest eCommerce holiday season ever in 2017 and have adjusted their 2018 and 2019 targets for continued growth,” says Charles Desjardins, partner and executive vice-president at Absolunet. “It is difficult for Canadian retailers to find realistic and credible benchmarks against which they can measure their performance which is why we created the index.”

Strong Home Sales Continue In Montreal

There were 4,081 residential home sales in February in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was a five per cent increase compared to February of last year. As well, this was the 36th straight increase and the best month of February since 2012. Five of the six main areas of the Montréal CMA registered an increase in sales in February, Laval being the sole exception with a three per cent decrease. Condominiums registered the largest increase in sales, jumping by 14 per cent in February. Single-family homes and plexes posted small increases of one per cent and three per cent, respectively. The number of active residential listings was down 17 per cent compared to last year.

IKO Opens Texas Facility

IKO, a North American manufacturer of residential and commercial roofing products, has opened its newest production facility in Hillsboro, TX. The 250,000 square foot production and warehouse facility is historic for IKO as it completes the company's manufacturing footprint in the United States, allowing it to better serve and build upon the customer and homeowner base in the southwest. IKO opened its first U.S. asphalt shingle plant in Wilmington, DE, in 1981. The new plant began producing product in late December. Local dignitaries and IKO customers will be invited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour the plant during its official grand opening celebration March 22nd. Plans are already underway for the construction of a new facility west of Toronto, ON, modernizing IKO's first plant in eastern Canada, built in 1958.

Marketplace Events Acquires Montreal Shows

Home show producer Marketplace Events has acquired the Montréal National Home Show and the Montréal HomeExpo. Expo Media, which already produces the Montreal National Home Show for Marketplace Events, will now also produce the Home Expo on its behalf. Expo Media also produces three Ottawa, ON, shows for the company. The Montreal National Home Show takes place March 9 to 18 and the HomeExpo takes place October 18 to 21 at Place Bonaventure.

Lynch Joins Financeit

Chris Lynch is chief financial officer with Financeit, a point-of-sale payment plan provider. Previously, he was chief financial officer at Alarmforce Industries Inc. Dante Tamburro is general counsel and chief compliance officer.

Tax Cuts Affect Boise Income

Boise Cascade Company had a net income of $19.1 million for the fourth quarter, a 367 per cent increase over net income of $4.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Income was impacted by the effects of the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ among other factors. Sales for the quarter were $1.1 billion, an increase of 19 per cent over sales of $919 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $44 million versus $17 million, an increase of 166 per cent. The wood product segment sales increased 14 per cent and the building materials distribution segment sales increased 21 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period.

March 7, 2018

Ottawa Leads Ontario Real Estate Performance

Ottawa has the growth, diversity, and strength required to lead Ontario in real estate performance over the next five-year period, says the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) in its ‘Top 10 Ontario Cities’ report. REIN studies 36 economic and market factors to identify Ontario real estate markets that are poised to outperform over the rest of the province. The report also analyzes where each market is positioned in the real estate cycle and what to expect as the cycle continues. In order of potential for housing market strength over the coming five-year period, are Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Hamilton, Barrie, Brampton, Durham Region, Toronto, Kingston, Orillia, and Grimsby and St. Catharines. Milton, Niagara Region, London, Thunder Bay, Vaughan, and Chatham also received honourable mentions, in no particular order.

Gender Parity Improves Many Indicators

Teams managed by a balanced mix of men and women are more successful across a range of measurements, says a study by Sodexo. Operating margins, client satisfaction, and employee retention, among other key performance indicators, were all higher among gender-balanced teams, meaning a ratio between 40 to 60 per cent women to men. The report shows that operating margins significantly increased among more gender-balanced teams than other teams. As well, gender-balanced entities had an average employee retention rate that was eight percentage points higher than other entities and an average client retention rate that was nine percentage points higher. Engagement also increased and accidents decreased. Sodexo says 87 per cent of management teams in Canada are gender-balanced. The full study is available here

SANIFLO Celebrates World Plumbing Day

SANIFLO Canada is celebrating ‘World Plumbing Day’ by recognizing the work of plumbers and reaffirming its own commitment to water-related humanitarian actions around the world. Through its ‘Preferred Installer Program,’ the company supports the education and training of qualified installers in the plumbing industry. Since its inception five years ago, the program has certified hundreds of plumbing professionals to install and service SANIFLO products. The day, established in 2010 by the World Plumbing Council, is celebrated on March 11 by more than 100-member organizations in 23 countries. It aims to bring attention to the work that plumbers do and invites all plumbing professionals to celebrate the importance of safe water and sanitation. This World Plumbing Day, SANIFLO will continue its commitment to the Gbatopé Project in the Togolese Republic (Togo) of West Africa to support sanitation project development.

Lowe’s Expands Sherwin-Williams Partnership

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has expanded its partnership with the Sherwin-Williams Company. In the U.S., Lowe’s will become the only nationwide home centre to offer Minwax, Cabot, and Thompson’s Water Seal, as well as Purdy and Krylon. The retailer will introduce the Krylon paint in its fiscal first quarter and add others over the course of the year. Additionally, Sherwin-Williams will become the only nationwide supplier to Lowe’s U.S. retail outlets for interior and exterior paints, including Valspar and HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams brands. The expanded partnership builds on the strong, long-standing relationship between Lowe’s and the Valspar Corporation since 1971, which launched the Valspar paint brand at Lowe’s in 2007. Lowe’s and Sherwin-Williams launched HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams at Lowe’s in 2015.

STELPRO Launches Smart Thermostat

STELPRO, a Canadian manufacturer of integrated heating solutions, has launched MAESTRO, a smart thermostat compatible with zoned electrical equipment. This product includes customization features such as geo-fencing, anticipated start, personalized activities, and grouping of rooms into zones. This allows homeowners to manage and personalize home heating and reduce energy costs. MAESTRO controls the thermostats of a connected house and is compatible with all electric heaters such as baseboards, convectors, and fan heaters. It takes into account the outside temperature by advancing or delaying heating to reach the desired temperature at the appropriate time. This product is designed and manufactured in Canada.

Shopify Shuffles C-suite Roles

Amy Shapero is chief financial officer of Shopify Inc., effective April 2. Previously, she was chief financial officer of Betterment, an online wealth management service. She will succeed Russ Jones who will remain a strategic advisor to the company as he prepares for retirement. Jeff Weiser is chief marketing officer. Prior to joining the company, he was chief marketing officer at Shutterstock. Craig Miller, its former chief marketing officer, will now focus exclusively on his role as chief product officer.

Armstrong Sales Grow

Armstrong World Industries had net sales of $214.3 million for the fourth quarter, a nine per cent increase over net sales for the fourth quarter of 2016, with both mineral fibre and architectural specialties contributing to growth. Operating income from continuing operations was $51.7 million for the quarter, an increase of 28 per cent year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was up nine per cent, driven by higher volume and average unit values.

March 6, 2018

Aqmat Recognizes Best In Quebec

Aqmat, Quebec’s hardware and building supply association, celebrated the best in the industry in Quebec last weekend at its ‘6th Gala Reconnaissance.’ The awards included the rising star to Karine Landry, manager, Centre du bricoleur RONA, Lachine; best manager to Marc-André Gagné, general manager, RONA Sorel; society award to RONA Centre du Bricoleur, Lachine; heritage award to the Audet family, RONA Matériaux Audet, Saint-Marc-des-Carrières; specialty award to RONA Matériaux Luc Doucet, Normandin; sales and customer service to the Canwel customer service team; years of service to Stéphane Rousseau at Isolofoam Group and Julie Bilodeau, sales manager, Émile Bilodeau & Fils (Timber Mart), Saint-Bernard; human resources to Martin Lecomte, vice-president retail, BMR Group; social and humanitarian commitment to SamaN; outstanding marketing to Potvin & Bouchard (BMR), Saguenay; business strategies to Ben-Mor Cables; business strategies to BMR Ostiguy & Brothers, Chambly; succession to Millette, Millette & Fils family; and invention of value to BBQ Québec. Every year, the gala recognizes the achievements of businesses and individuals in the hardware and LBM sector. Attributed by an independent jury composed of industry professionals, these awards honour the hardware and LBM industry’s best businesses, innovative products, and deserving employees. Of the 16 awards handed out during the evening, eight went to stores and their employees.

Demographic Groups Differ In Approach To Home Improvements

U.S. homeowners across generations are planning to make some type of home improvement in the next year, with 79 per cent of Millennials, 67 per cent of Gen Xers, and 49 per cent of Boomers indicating they will do so, says a survey by Valassis. The high percentage of Millennial home improvers is not a surprise, especially given that they are the largest segment of new homeowners today. However, when it comes to annual spending on home improvement projects, the Boomers lead the way at $2,799, followed by Gen Xers at $2,652, and Millennials at 2,412. Among homeowners who did or are planning home improvement projects, 71 per cent of Millennials took more than three months to research compared to 57 per cent of all homeowners. When it comes to advertising, 65 per cent of Millennials go to the retailer featured in a manufacturer’s advertisement to make a purchase compared to 53 per cent of all consumers. As well, 75 per cent of Millennials (versus 67 per cent of all consumers) are motivated to make a purchase due to a special deal or promotion.

Experienced Employees Improve Productivity

eCommerce companies looking to control costs and improve productivity should be doing more to reduce employee turnover and keep experienced workers on the job, shows research from the Wisconsin School of Business. In fact, experienced ‘pick-workers’ significantly reduce pick times and can improve productivity, says Peter Kerwin. In his article, ‘Experienced Employees Improve eCommerce Productivity,’ he discusses customer expectations and how companies can improve the bottom line. The article is available here on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Mann Joins LP

Timothy Mann Jr. is executive vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary with Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP). Most recently, he was chief executive officer and president of Axiall Corp, where he initially served as general counsel.

RONA To Co-present Montreal Home Show

RONA, a banner of Lowe’s Canada, will be co-presenter of the ‘Montreal National Home Show.’ The company will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in the centre of the venue and display products for summer, patio, barbecue, and outdoors. It will also have a dedicated section for installation services and a 2,000-square-foot section that will showcase appliances. Customers that present a RONA invoice for purchases carried out in the month before the show will be granted free admission on May 13. As well, Lowe’s Canada will be a major partner of the Maison Enfant Soleil built by Bonneville, which will be on display at the show. Starting April 6, Lowe’s Canada via its network of RONA and Reno-Depot stores throughout Quebec, will sell $10 tickets for the draw for the Maison Enfant Soleil. The winner will receive a prize worth $500,000 which includes a decorated and furnished Angeline house and a grant for the purchase of a lot in the city of their choice. The show takes place March 9 to 18 at Place Bonaventure in Montréal, QC. For more information, visit lowes.ca or https://salonnationalhabitation.com/en

Sales Rise At Foundation

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $516.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an 11.8 per cent increase over consolidated net sales of $462.2 for the fourth quarter of 2016. Consolidated gross profit for the quarter was $153.6 million compared to $132.3 million, representing an increase of 16.2 per cent. Gross margin was 29.7 per cent compared to 28.6 per cent year-over-year. This increase in gross margin was primarily due to an increase in margins in wallboard and suspended ceiling systems. Net income was $75.9 million compared to a net loss of $8.8 million a year ago. Specialty building products segment net sales increased 10.8 per cent year-over-year while mechanical insulation segment net sales increased 18.4 per cent.

March 5, 2018

Most Businesses Compromise Mobile Security

Organizations across numerous industries compromise data security because of speed-to-market priorities and lack of threat awareness, says a report by Verizon. It says as mobility becomes more integral to business operations in today’s digital economy – from supply chain management to IoT-enabled sensors to customer-facing mobile apps – protecting mobile platforms is critical. Nearly a third (32 per cent) of organizations admit they sacrifice mobile security to improve business performance even though 93 per cent of organizations agree that mobile devices present a serious and growing threat. Seventy-nine per cent of companies say that disruption of their business operations is an even greater threat than the theft of data. As well, 79 per cent of the organizations fear that employee misuse, either accidentally or intentionally, is a significant concern; 39 per cent of organizations that allow employees to use their own devices for business purposes ranked this as their top concern. Yet, less than one-third of organizations use mobile endpoint security and less than half use device encryption. Verizon says that securing mobile devices that connect to public and private networks and platforms is paramount for protecting corporate assets and brand integrity.

JELD-WEN Makes Acquisitions

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. has acquired A&L Windows Pty Ltd. (A&L) and plans to acquire American Building Supply, Inc. (ABS). A&L is an Australian manufacturer of residential aluminum windows and patio doors. Founded in 1980, it has a network of manufacturing facilities and showrooms across the eastern seaboard of Australia. ABS supports distributors, dealers, and home centres with a broad product range of doors, frames, and hardware for both residential and commercial markets. Through its Doormerica division, ABS manufactures decorative, specialty, and architectural doors. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

TIMBER MART Extends Hockey Canada Partnership

TIMBER MART has renewed its agreement with Hockey Canada as an international partner through 2022, retaining marketing and activation rights to the organization’s national championships, and select IIHF events on Canadian ice and around the world. They originally partnered in 2010 and at the IIHF World Junior Championship hosted in Toronto, ON, and Montreal, QC, TIMBER MART launched its ‘Sharp Shooter/FanPhoto’ contest to engage Canadians online and encourage them to show what hockey means to them through photos. Under the renewal, TIMBER MART will retain its status as an international partner for four more years and will engage with many of its vendor partners in its Hockey Canada promotions.

CertainTeed Products Available On HOVER

CertainTeed has partnered with HOVER, a platform that generates an interactive 3D model of a property, allowing contractors to get measurements. Contractors who work with CertainTeed roofing and siding products can now use HOVER’s design features to show homeowners what CertainTeed products and colours will look like on their home. HOVER works for nearly any home and generates wall measurements from a few photos taken with the app. The platform is available from the App or Google Play Store. First-time users can try out the platform for 30 days.

Voorhees Takes Over At Rust-Oleum

Edward J. Voorhees III is chief executive officer of Rust-Oleum North America, a division of RPM International Inc. He has served as president for the company for more than 12 years. He replaces Thomas E. Reed, who will assume the position of chairman when he retires in September.

UFPI Has Solid Earnings

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) had EBITDA of $57 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 16 per cent over EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2016. Net sales for the quarter were $966.1 million, a 12 per cent increase over net sales of $859.6 million a year ago. Net earnings were $33.2 million compared to $22.2 million. Gross retail sales were $330.6 million for the quarter, up 20 per cent over the year-ago period. Gross sales for the construction segment were $305.8 million, a 10 per cent increase. The industrial segment gross sales increased nine per cent to $345.1 million.

GreenON To Host Tiny Home With Rebate Upgrades

The Green Ontario Fund (GreenON), is hosting the first-ever 'Rebate Homeshow' – a custom-built, tiny home that showcases how Ontarians can reduce their carbon footprint in their own homes, through green upgrades and money saving rebates. The Rebate Homeshow will pop-up from March 2 to 4 at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, before moving to the National Home Show from March 9 to 18. The National Home Show takes place at the Exhibition Centre in Toronto. For more information, visit nationalhomeshow.com or www.greenon.ca

March 2, 2018

Retail Sales Correction May Be Underway

Total Canadian location-based retail sales were up 6.7 per cent in 2017 versus the previous year ‒ the best result since 1997 and a 20-year high. However, a correction may already be underway, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. If eCommerce sales by non-store retailers were also included in retail sales, it would add about 1.5 per cent to the 2017 growth rate. Strapagiel says that over the last five years, the automotive and related sector clearly contributed the most to overall sales growth, with the food and drug sector a clear disappointment. At the same, the store merchandise sector had strong results. The yearly growth trend strengthened for almost two years and then flattened out in mid-2017. This may be more of a correction rather than a collapse, he says. He notes that the two biggest “winners” in 2017 were electronics and appliance stores with retail sales up 12.8 per cent and building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers close behind with an increase of 12.7 per cent.

Lowe's Collaborates With Habitat For Humanity Canada

Lowe's Canada is collaborating with Habitat for Humanity Canada by donating close to $1 million in products and building materials to Habitat for Humanity ReStores while over 100 employees help build homes on the organization's construction sites. Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada has been building affordable homes that provide families with a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada. Habitat homeowners volunteer up to 500 hours with Habitat and pay an interest-free, affordable mortgage – geared to their income – to buy their own home.

Transparency-One Updates Platform

Transparency-One has added new functionalities to its platform for partners in the supply chain – from raw material suppliers to consumer-facing brands. They can use the platform to simultaneously manage supply chain mapping, compliance, and sustainability data as well as batch and purchase order (PO) traceability information for increased accuracy. The company has expanded its data analytics to include product transactions such as batches, lots, and POs. This enables companies to integrate their existing ERP data with Transparency-One's supply chain mapping platform to increase visibility for their most critical supply chains. The platform supports GS1's GTIN, GPC, and GLN standards. Users can choose their desired level of granularity not just for each supply chain but for each individual component.

Hachigian To Lead JELD-WEN

Kirk S. Hachigian, chairman of the board with JELD-WEN Holding, Inc., will assume the duties of chief executive officer on an interim basis while the board of directors searches for a new CEO. He was formerly CEO of the company. Mark Beck, who was president and chief executive officer, has departed from the company by mutual agreement.

Lumber Liquidators Sales Up

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $260 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 6.1 per cent over net sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Comparable store net sales increased 4.5 per cent for the quarter. Gross margin was 35.4 per cent compared with 32.9 per cent in the prior-year period. Operating profit was $600,000 compared to an operating loss of $9.2 million and net income was $3 million compared to a net loss of $5.5 million.

Taiga Has Sales Gains

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had consolidated net sales of $329.8 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2017 year, an increase of 18.9 per cent compared to consolidated net sales of $277.4 million for the third quarter of its 2016 fiscal year. The company says the increase was largely due to increased demand for products in all segments and higher commodity prices. Gross margin for the quarter increased to $27.4 million from $22.2 million year-over-year. Gross margin percentage increased to 8.3 per cent compared to eight per cent. The company had a net loss of $15.2 million compared to a net loss of $200,000 in the year-ago period.

March 1, 2018

Earnings Lower For Lowe’s

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $554 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, a decrease compared to net earnings of $663 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales were $15.5 billion for the quarter compared to sales of $15.8 billion in the year-ago period. Gross margin was 33.73 per cent from 34.41 per cent in the same period a year ago. Operating income was $1.1 billion versus 1.3 billion last year.

GTA Home Sales Dip

In January, sales of new single-family homes in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) hit their lowest level for January since before 2000, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Single-family homes, including detached, link and semi-detached houses, and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), represented only 365 units out of the 1,251 new homes sold in January. Condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 70.8 per cent of new home sales, with 886 units sold. The new home market saw a very slight increase in supply in January, to 11,750 units, from 11,397 units in December. This is still well below what is considered a healthy level. A healthy new home market should have nine to 12 months' worth of inventory and right now inventory is at about three to four months, based on the pace of sales in the past 12 months.

DowDuPont Names Independent Companies

DowDuPont has announced the corporate brand names that each of its divisions will assume once they are separated as independent companies in 2019. While certain product names will change at separation, many products within each intended company will continue be sold under their current, widely known brand names. The specialty products company, which includes brands such as Tyvek, Styrofoam, and Corian, will become DuPont. The agriculture company will assume the name Corteva Agriscience. The materials science company will maintain the Dow name. The name changes are part of the strategy to create three, strong independent companies and brands that each have highly-differentiated products and solutions, the company says.

Arrow Increases Website Content

Arrow Fastener Company will launch dozens of videos to its website, including project tutorials by in-house Arrow experts, creative crafts by popular DIY bloggers, and maintenance videos on how to load or unjam a staple gun. The company says content like tutorials and DIY tips are continuously added to the site under the dedicated projects section so that there is always new information. The company also solicits help from DIY bloggers to demonstrate projects and crafts and the tools they use. As well, the site includes product information to help customers understand Arrow’s complete range of solutions, including technical data, videos, and project case studies.

La Coop fédérée Revenues Steady

La Coop fédérée had consolidated revenues of $6.3 billion for its fiscal 2017 year, even with consolidate revenues of $6.3 billion in its fiscal 2016 year. Earnings before patronage refunds and income taxes were $351 million compared to $275 million the previous year. Operating earnings were $319 million for the year versus operating earnings of $256 million. The company declares patronage funds of $88 million for the year, representing $33 million, or 60 per cent, more than the level declared in 2016. It also says the BMR division results improved both financially and operationally.

Top Talent Honoured At AQMAT Gala

Passion, talent, and hard work in the world of hardware and building materials will be rewarded at AQMAT’s ‘Gala Reconnaissance.’ AQMAT, Quebec’s hardware and building supply association, will also honour the best companies, the most innovative products, and top talent from across the province. It takes place March 3 at Château Frontenac in Quebec City, QC. For more information, visit http://gala.aqmat.org

February 28, 2018

Budget ‘Somewhat Less Harmful’

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says the 2018 federal budget may be somewhat less harmful than originally expected, but will not improve the overall health or competitiveness of the nation's entrepreneurs. It commented onsections of the budget that cover taxing passive investments, competitiveness, and new costs and ongoing deficits. "While we compliment the government for rethinking its plans for taxing passive investments, it remains to be seen how significant this improvement will be," says Dan Kelly, CFIB president. "The new rules appear to be simpler and may improve things for some business owners from the earlier proposals, but others will lose the benefit of the lower small business rate due to past investments." The new plan ends the benefit of ‘grandfathering’ past investments from the earlier proposal. On competitiveness, it says the tax changes for small business remain a billion-dollar take-away from entrepreneurs at a time when entrepreneurs in the U.S. are seeing their tax bills drop considerably. As well, Kelly says, "It is important to keep in mind that Canada's SMEs are facing massive new cost pressures in the coming years, including five years of CPP/QPP hikes, five years of carbon tax/pricing increases, and higher minimum wages in several provinces. On top of that, entrepreneurs know that today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes. The lack of a plan to get Canada out of deficit spending is deeply troubling."

Single-homes Leads Strong Annual New Housing Investment

Nationally, investment in new housing construction totalled $57.3 billion in 2017, up 8.9 per cent or $4.7 billion compared with 2016, says Statistics Canada. This marked the largest annual increase since 2012, when investment in apartment building construction accounted for 54.9 per cent of the total increase in new housing construction. In comparison, growth in spending in apartment building construction represented 16.4 per cent of the total investment gains in 2017. Single home construction ($2.7 billion) led the total annual increase, followed by row home construction, which posted the second largest year-over-year total increase ($839.7 million). Investment in new housing construction rose in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba. Conversely, Saskatchewan reported a year-over-year decline.

Spectrum Brands To Become Independent

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. plans to combine with HRG Group, Inc., a holding company with shares of Spectrum Brands as its principal holding. As a result, HRG shareholders will effectively hold HRG’s interest in Spectrum Brands. Following the transaction, the current Spectrum Brands management team will lead the combined company. In addition, HRG’s board will be replaced by the Spectrum Brands board. The combined company will be named Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. and will be an independent company. The transaction, which is expected to close by the third quarter of 2018, will not have an impact on the previously announced plans for Spectrum Brands’ global battery and appliance businesses.

Uniboard Renews FSC Certification

Uniboard has renewed its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, reaffirming its leadership in sustainability and responsible procurement. Uniboard, in line with its values of environmental stewardship, says it was the first company in Canada to migrate successfully to the new FSC Controlled Wood Standard. It had to meet a new audit program, which included a new risk assessment.

Roseburg Makes Changes

Ashlee Cribb is vice-president of structural products with Roseburg Forest Products. Previously, she held several roles at Georgia-Pacific, most recently as vice-president of industrial packaging with profit and loss responsibility for the commercial organization as well as 11 manufacturing sites. Mark Avery is senior vice-president of industrial products and national accounts. Previously, he was vice-president, composites business, and logistics. He has been with the company since 2011.

Lumber Demand Drives Canfor Income

Canfor Corporation had operating income of $214.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase over operating income of $74 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales for the quarter were $1,182.2 million versus $1,043.5 million in the year-ago period. Net income was $152.6 million compared to $44.2 million and adjusted net income was $114.8 million versus $84.6 million. Adjusted operating income was $190.8 million versus $134.3 million. The company says North American lumber demand remained solid in the quarter.

Tax Legislation Helps Continental Income

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $131.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an 11.1 per cent increase over net sales of $118.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. The company says higher wallboard volumes contributed to the gain. Net income was $24.2 million, an increase of 92.5 per cent compared to $12.6 million a year ago, due in part to recently enacted tax legislation. Adjusted net income increased 22.2 per cent to $15.4 million. EBITDA was $37.2 million, up 10.1 per cent over EBITDA of $33.8 million in the year-ago period.

February 27, 2018

Wholesale Sales Remain Steady

Wholesale sales declined 0.5 per cent to $63 billion in December, the first decrease in three months, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors, representing 65 per cent of total wholesale sales. The personal and household goods and the miscellaneous subsectors led the decline and the household appliance industry also declined. In volume terms, wholesale sales declined 0.9 per cent. In the fourth quarter, current dollar wholesale sales increased 1.1 per cent while constant dollar sales increased 0.7 per cent. For both current and constant dollars, this marked the seventh consecutive quarterly increase. Ontario recorded a second decline in 2017, down 0.8 per cent to $32.6 billion in December. Quebec recorded a third decline in four months, down 1.3 per cent to $11.3 billion. New Brunswick declined for the first time in four months, down 6.1 per cent to $554 million in December. Alberta (+0.9 per cent) and British Columbia (+0.5 per cent) recorded increases in December, both on the strength of the building material and supplies subsector.

U.S. New Construction Starts Dwindle

The value of new construction starts in the U.S. in January receded two per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $725.9 billion, easing slightly after December’s 13 per cent hike, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The non-building construction sector pulled back 18 per cent after surging 45 per cent in December. At the same time, non-residential building edged up one per cent in January. In addition, residential building climbed seven per cent in January, helped by a rebound for multi-family housing after three straight months of declines. On an unadjusted basis, total construction starts in January were $52.2 billion, down seven per cent from the same month a year ago. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts in the 12 months ending January 2018 were up two per cent from the 12e months ending January 2017. The January statistics produced a reading of 154 for the Dodge Index, compared to December’s upwardly revised 156. During 2017, the pattern of construction starts frequently showed an up-and-down pattern, which was present towards the end of last year when the index fell to 138 in November followed by 156 in December. The 154 reading in January, along with December’s 156, shows construction starts climbing back close to last year’s mid-range of activity.

RFID Can Improve Retail Sales

Retailers could increase sales by up to 5.5 per cent through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID), says a report by GS1 UK, GS1 Global, and the ECR Community’s Shrink and On Shelf Availability Group. It shows that inventory accuracy improved by over 50 per cent with retailers reporting 93 to 99 per cent accuracy with RFID from 65 to 75 per cent when not using RFID. In turn, this drove a sales uplift of between 1.5 and 5.5 per cent. GS1 UK says that adopting a realistic and measured approach to the use of RFID in the right environment offers an attractive financial proposition to retailers willing to invest.

Georgia-Pacific To Build Facility

Georgia-Pacific plans to build a softwood lumber production facility in Warren County, GA, on property adjacent to its existing lumber mill. Construction of the 340,000-square-foot, technologically advanced plant is scheduled to begin in this summer with an anticipated start-up in spring 2019. The existing lumber plant in Warren County will continue full operations until the new facility is completed. The new facility will be capable of over three times the output of the current facility. The existing facility has been operating since the early 1970s and technology in the lumber production business has changed significantly since that time.

JELD-WEN Has Slow Quarter

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. had net revenues of $976 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 0.3 per cent compared to net revenue of $973.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Net loss for the quarter was $93.7 million, down from net income of $258.2 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $103.1 million, up 1.3 per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $101.8 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA margins expanded 10 basis points to 10.6 per cent from 10.5 per cent. Net revenues for the North American segment were $550.3 million, a decrease of 3.3 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA for the segment decreased 6.9 per cent to $61.1 million.

I-RIM Early Registration Deadline Looming

The early registration discount deadline for the ‘2018 International Reflective Insulation Manufacturers (I-RIM) Conference’ is March 1. The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association (RIMA) is also offering an additional discount for non-member companies who sign up for an entire year of membership. The conference will cover reflective technical education, research, code work, and global updates/uses. It is held every two years and is the only worldwide event serving the reflective insulation, radiant barrier, and interior radiation control coatings (IRCCs) industries. It takes place May 9 and 10 in Costa Rica. For more information, visit RIMA Conference

February 26, 2018

Retail Sales Hit Record Increase

Sales at Canadian store retailers grew 6.7 per cent in 2017, the highest annual growth rate since 1997, reaching $588 billion, says Statistics Canada. The increase was partially attributable to higher prices, as sales in volume terms were up 5.4 per cent. Sales were up in every province, with Ontario (6.4 per cent) leading the way. As well, retail sales bounced back in Alberta (7.5 per cent) following declines in 2015 and 2016. The increase was based on the strength of improved labour market conditions in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. Motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations led the increase; without that category, retail sales retail sales increased 4.7 per cent for the year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (12.7 per cent) led this increase. Internet-based sales from both store and non-store retailers rose 31 per cent to $15.7 billion in 2017. Retail eCommerce represented 2.6 per cent of total retail sales, compared with 2.1 per cent in 2016. During the November and December holiday shopping season, retail eCommerce accounted for 3.5 per cent of total retail sales, up from 3.2 per cent in 2016. Approximately one-quarter of retail eCommerce sales took place during the holiday shopping season.

Monthly New Housing Investment Up 10 Per Cent

New housing construction investment totalled $4.7 billion in December, up 10 per cent compared with December 2016, says Statistics Canada. Investment in new housing construction rose in eight provinces, led by Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia. Nationally, investment was up for all dwelling types from the same month a year earlier. The $246.3 million investment increase in apartment building construction was the largest contributor, representing almost 60 per cent of the national increase ($426.9 million) in December. A $162.9 million increase in Quebec in new housing construction stemmed from higher spending on apartment buildings, while singles, doubles, and row homes all posted year-over-year decreases. Alberta increases were posted for all building types, but were mainly driven by a rise in investment in single home construction. Investment in British Columbia was distributed across all building types, but mainly attributable to spending on apartment building and single home construction.

Alberta Renovator To Accept Cryptocurrency Payments

Calgary, AB-based Trademark Renovations now offers consumers an alternative way to pay using cryptocurrency. The company says it will accept Bitcoin and Ethereum as a method of payment for both renovation and custom-build products. The company says that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will become an important part of everyday transactions and because they are not tied to any fiat currency, they will help level the playing field. “Once cryptocurrencies are adopted by the mainstream, the pricing for building materials and logistics will not be subject to the current fluctuations of fiat currency exchange as they are with U.S. to Canadian dollar for example,” says the company. “Peer-to-peer transactions will eliminate many middlemen and related mark-ups, thus greatly impacting the price of goods and materials. The trend of decentralizing currency and the efficiencies and security of Blockchain technology will better facilitate industry and trade between countries and, in turn, provide benefits to consumers.”

Home Sales Decline

Existing home sales slumped for the second consecutive month in January and experienced their largest decline on an annual basis in over three years, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All major regions saw monthly and annual sales declines last month. Total existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, sank 3.2 per cent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million from a downwardly revised 5.56 million in December. After last month's decline, sales are 4.8 per cent below a year ago (largest annual decline since August 2014 at 5.5 per cent) and at their slowest pace since last September (5.37 million). Total housing inventory at the end of January rose 4.1 per cent to 1.52 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 9.5 per cent lower than a year ago and has fallen year-over-year for 32 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace (3.6 months a year ago). First-time buyers were 29 per cent of sales in January, which is down from 32 per cent in December and 33 per cent a year ago.

Masonite Net Sales Rise

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $509 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of six per cent over net sales of $481 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. North American residential net sales were $359 million, a seven per cent increase year-over-year. Net income was $72 million over year-ago net income of $15 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $64 million for the quarter, up six per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $61 million in the year-ago period. Total gross profit increased four per cent to $100 million compared to the same period last year.

Solid Sales For Trex

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated sales of $122 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 28 per cent over consolidated sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Residential products sales were up 15 per cent to $109.6 million year-over-year and commercial products sales were $12.7 million. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter expanded 170 basis points to 41.7 per cent. EBITDA for the quarter was $30 million, a 29 per cent year-over-year increase. Net income was $18 million, up 45 per cent from the net income of $13 million.

February 23, 2018

Retailers Gather From Around World

Independent home improvement retailers from around the world gathered Thursday for the first day of the Orgill Spring Dealer Market, which runs through Saturday. The event features vendors from across the industry, special buys and market-only specials, networking opportunities, and more. “We always look forward to our dealer markets because they give us the opportunity to interact with our customers and provide them with a wide range of products, programs, and services to drive their businesses,” says Ron Beal, Orgill’s chairman, president and CEO. The market covers approximately 1 million square feet of space, providing plenty of room for thousands of vendors attending the event to show off their latest and greatest selection of products, as well as opportunities for retailers to shop items from all the major home improvement categories. Around the perimeter of the market floor are a number of promotional areas including door busters, pallet buys, and new items. It also features two full-size model stores showcasing real-life displays, product assortments, and merchandising techniques. Orgill’s Fall Dealer Market take place August 23 to 25 at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Retail Sales Decrease

Following three consecutive monthly increases, retail sales decreased 0.8 per cent in December to $49.6 billion, says Statistics Canada. Despite this decline, retail sales were up 1.5 per cent in the fourth quarter and up 6.7 per cent for the year. Sales fell in six of 11 subsectors, representing 42 per cent of retail trade. Lower sales at general merchandise; health and personal care; and electronics and appliance stores more than offset gains at motor vehicle and parts dealers and food and beverage stores. While sales fell in six provinces, the overall decline in retail sales was largely attributable to Ontario, which registered its first decrease (1.6 per cent) in six months.

Castle Gets Western Canada Member

Reimer Concrete and Lumber has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. The Rosseau River, MB- based dealer was founded by Matthew and Perla Reimer, who have over 16 years of experience in the construction industry. The dealer will offer a wide selection lumber, building materials, and concrete, as well as an extensive assortment of hardware products. The store will hold an official grand opening this summer.

Lowe’s Holds Recruitment Day

Lowe's Canada will recruit more than 7,000 full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees this spring. On February 24, potential candidates are invited to walk into any Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores across the country to learn more about available employment opportunities. Management teams will be onsite to accept applications and conduct on-the-spot interviews. Candidates can also apply online. Available positions include service and support managers, customer service associates, cashiers, stockers, boom truck drivers, sales specialists, and more.

Schneider, Ryerson To Develop HVAC Lab

Schneider Electric Canada has partnered with Ryerson University, donating $1 million in kind to design and build the Smart Building Analytics Living Lab — the first of its kind in Canada. With the new lab, Ryerson University students in engineering, architectural science, and computer and data science programs will have access to tools to develop, test, and optimize modern technologies and approaches within the building management space. The lab will be used to demonstrate savings in energy consumption and in capital and operating expenses for buildings of all sizes. The Ryerson team will connect to building control systems using Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure Building software platform, including access control, lighting control, security, energy, and HVAC systems.

Revenues Up For Ace Hardware

Illinois-based Ace Hardware had consolidated revenues of $1.32 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017. Total wholesale revenues for the quarter were $1.23 billion, an increase of 5.1 per cent compared to wholesale revenues for the fourth quarter of 2016. Increases were noted across all departments with power tools and paint showing the largest gains. Total retail revenues for the quarter were $89.4 million, an increase of 38.8 per cent year-over-year. Wholesale gross profit was $135.8 million, an increase of $1.8 million from the fourth quarter of 2016. The wholesale gross margin percentage was 11.1 per cent of wholesale revenues in the fourth quarter of 2017, down from the fourth quarter of 2016 gross margin percentage of 11.5 per cent. Retail gross profit was $36.7 million, an increase of $7.8 million from the year-ago period. The retail gross margin percentage was 41.1 per cent of retail revenues, a decrease from 44.9 per cent last year.

German Fair Focuses On Future

Fifteen start-ups will present their versions of the future to international decision-makers, trade visitors, and exhibitors at ‘EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair Cologne 2018.’ Called the ‘Start-up Village,’ the presenters will speak at three work stations at the fair. The platform was organized in co-operation with fediyma, the European Federation of DIY Manufacturers, and futurist Richard van Hooijdonk. The start-ups will present new technologies such as virtual reality, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and neurotechnology. They will also showcase their products and services to the trade audience. The fair takes place March 4 to 7 in Cologne, Germany. Visit www.eisenwarenmesse.com

February 22, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Slow In December

Manufacturing sales declined 0.3 per cent to $55.5 billion in December, following a revised increase of 3.8 per cent in November, says Statistics Canada. Overall sales were down in 11 of 21 industries, representing 57 per cent of the manufacturing sector. Sales of non-durable goods decreased 1.3 per cent, while sales of durable goods rose 0.7 per cent. Sales were down in seven provinces. New Brunswick and Quebec reported the largest declines, which were partly offset by higher sales in Ontario and Alberta. Inventory levels edged up 0.1 per cent from November to $75.3 billion in December. Inventories rose in eight of the 21 industries while unfilled orders fell 0.7 per cent to $86 billion, the second consecutive monthly decline.

Patrick Morin Holds Recruitment Day

Quebec home improvement retailer Patrick Morin is holding a recruitment day on March 15 at all 21 locations and its distribution centre. The company has 200 various positions available. This massive number of new hires reflects the growth of the organization, says Daniel Lampron, general manager.

Supercluster To Create Intelligent Supply Chains

The government of Canada is investing $950 million to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative. Partners in Ontario and Quebec, as part of the SCALE.AI Supercluster, will work together to generate bold ideas that will bring the retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, and information and communications technology sectors together to build intelligent supply chains. The government says this will make links between businesses faster and easier as new tools see and predict where and when products are needed and sales will increase as these tools work together in real time. Ultimately, the supercluster aims to make Canada a global export leader ‒ capturing new market opportunities and ensuring Canadian-made products and services are first to market. The initiative is a centrepiece of the government's ‘Innovation and Skills Plan,’ a multi-year strategy to prepare Canada for the innovative jobs of today and tomorrow.

Second-hand Economy Up 20 Per Cent

An estimated $28.5 billion worth of second-hand items changed hands in 2017 and 85 per cent of Canadians participated in the second-hand economy, says data by Kijiji, an online classified site. As well, second-hand buying and selling put nearly $2,000 in the average participant's pockets. A total of 2.3 billion items were given new life through the second-hand economy – a 23.8 per cent increase over the previous year – for an average of 80 items being acquired or disposed of by the average participant. Kijiji says second-hand purchasing grew significantly in 2017, up 20 per cent from 2016. The 2017 total of $28.5 billion in second-hand transactions is equal to 1.3 per cent of Canada's total economic output, or more than double the size of Canada's arts, entertainment, and recreation sector ($13.3 billion).

eRetail Sales To Pass $3.3 Trillion This Year

The value of consumer spend on remote payments for digital and physical goods will surpass $3.3 trillion this year, an increase of 10 per cent over 2017’s total of $3 trillion, says a study by Juniper Research. ‘Mobile & Online Remote Payments for Digital & Physical Goods: Opportunities & Forecasts 2018-2022’ shows that alternative payment mechanisms would comprise an ever-increasing proportion of online spend. PayPal already accounts for 20 per cent of mobile and online physical goods transactions made outside China, while the success of Alipay and Weixin Pay within China means that these two players combined now account for 45 per cent of global payment volumes.

eCommerce Leads Walmart Sales

Walmart had total revenue of $136.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 4.1 per cent over total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016. U.S. comparative store sales increased 2.6 per cent and comp traffic increased 1.6 per cent year-over-year. eCommerce sales and gross merchandise volume (GMV) increased 23 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Sam's Club comp sales, excluding fuel, increased 2.4 per cent led by comp traffic growth of 4.3 per cent. Net sales at Walmart International were $33.1 billion, an increase of 6.7 per cent. Consolidated operating income was $4.5 billion for the quarter, a decrease of 28 per cent year-over-year.

February 21, 2018

Home Depot Sales Strong

The Home Depot had sales of $23.9 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, a 7.5 per cent increase over net sales of $22.2 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016. Comparable store sales for the quarter were up 7.5 per cent. Gross profit was $8 million versus $7.6 million in the year ago period. Net earnings were $1.8 billion compared with net earnings of $1.7 billion for the same period a year ago. Online sales increased 21 per cent. Average ticket amount was $64 compared to $61 a year ago. The strongest categories for contractors were lumber, pressure treated decking, insulation, and gypsum. Big ticket drivers for all customers were vinyl plank flooring, fencing, and appliances.

Building Materials Lead Wholesale Trade Growth

Wholesale trade in Canada rose for the eighth consecutive year in 2017, up 9.4 per cent to $741.1 billion with higher sales in all seven subsectors, says Statistics Canada. This was the highest growth rate since 1997’s 13.7 per cent. Growth in wholesale trade in 2017 was driven mainly by growth in the first two quarters, up 3.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively. In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 7.7 per cent to $652.7 billion in 2017, reaching their highest level and growth rate on record. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased 11.8 per cent to $104.5 billion in 2017, its highest growth rate since 2004. A gain in the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry contributed the most to the increase, as the industry grew 12 per cent to $52.6 billion. Related indicators including housing starts (12 per cent) and exports (3.9 per cent) and imports (3.8 per cent) of building and packaging materials also increased in 2017. The industrial product price index for lumber and other wood products increased 4.9 per cent, its highest growth rate since 2004. Higher sales were recorded in all provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec.

TIMBER MART Celebrates Business Partners

TIMBER MART celebrated members and vendors at its eight annual National Buying Show, held February 16 to 17 in Montreal, QC. Businesses were recognized for achieving excellence in customer service, product value, and operations. The TIMBER MART LBM vendor award recipients were CanWel ‒ the Customer Service Excellence Award; Resisto ‒ the Product Excellence Award; and Taiga ‒ the Operational Excellence Award. The TIMBER MART hardware vendor award recipients were PPG for customer service excellence; Simpson Strong-Tie for product excellence; and Makita for operational excellence. The Members’ Choice award recipients were CanWel for western Canada; Alexandria Moulding for Ontario; Duchesne for Quebec; and Taiga for the Atlantic region.

Canac Plans Another Store

Quebec home improvement chain Canac has purchased a 417,328-square-foot lot in Shawinigan, QC for a new store, the chain plans to create a sales area of 26,697 square feet, a contractor department, a large outdoor lumberyard, and a 30,804-square-foot covered warehouse. The opening is planned for the fall of this year.

Walmart Enhances Shopping App

Walmart has added some new features to its in-store ‘Store Assistant’ shopping app. The app is designed to help customers get in and out of the store quickly. Original features include Walmart Pay, a product search bar and scanner, reviews, and price checks. Walmart has now added a list capability so customers can make a list on the app before going to the store. The app will check item stock at the local store, locate the aisles on the store map, and keep a balance of the total cost of the basket, including tax. Users can cross off the items as they go. The app will contain an individual map of every store including product location right down to the aisle and shelf area. Store maps are currently available at a handful of stores, but will be rolled out to all 4,700 stores.

Paxton Joins Masonite

Bob Paxton as senior vice-president, human resources with Masonite International Corporation. Previously, he was with Owens Corning, most recently as vice-president of human resources for the company’s composites business.

West Fraser Has Strong Gains

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. Had sales of $1.376 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of $269 million or 24 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2016. Earnings were $207 million and adjusted earnings were $201 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $341 million or 24.8 per cent of sales for the quarter. The lumber segment had operating earnings of $232 million and adjusted EBITDA of $258 million. The panels segment had operating earnings of $20 million and adjusted EBITDA of $24 million. The pulp and paper segment had operating earnings of $48 million and adjusted EBITDA of $60 million.

February 20, 2018

TIMBER MART Hosts Buying Show

With over 1,100 dealers and vendors in attendance, TIMBER MART hosted its eighth annual national buying show February 16 to 17 in Montreal, QC. The show featured an 80,000-square-foot show floor filled with more than 200 vendor booths, a wide range of show displays and attractions, and member-exclusive buys. The show floor was also home to TIMBER MART’s ‘Store on the Floor’ which featured merchandised displays of more than 2,000 SKUs of building materials and hardlines products. As well, its ‘Solutions Centre’ housed multiple information hubs for all of its member services and programs, including LBM solutions, TIMBER MART Essentials, dealer marketing, merchandising, and banner support. The National Dealer Meeting was held prior to the show on February 15.

Panasonic Works On Profile

Known elsewhere in the world such as Asia, India, China, and Latin America for major appliances, Panasonic wants to raise its profile in Canada and North America beyond a brand that means electronics, says Jonathan O’Brien, sales manager – Ontario and Atlantic Canada, consumer products division. At its ‘Brunch & Learn,’ he said 2018 marks its 100th year in business, following its 50th year in Canada last year. There are several developing trends in Canada, he said, that the industry should be noticing. For one, consumers now are coming armed with research to make their purchase decisions and have information at their fingertips. They are looking for premium products with upgrades at the high end and trust designers and builders to help them select products. Another trend is urbanization with one on eight families living in condos and needing to optimize space. Immigration is another consideration as in the last decade there have been 650,000 immigrants from Asia to Toronto, ON. They are looking for the products they had back home, he said.

New Apartment Building Prices Increase

Contractors' prices for the construction of new apartment buildings rose 1.1 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter, says Statistics Canada. Prices for new apartment building projects rose in all seven census metropolitan areas surveyed, led by Vancouver, BC (+2.0 per cent). Contractors reported rising costs for lumber, concrete formwork, plastic, copper, and fuel-related inputs. Rebuilding activities in the U.S. after an active 2017 hurricane season contributed to higher prices for these materials. From August to October, four hurricanes made landfall in the United States causing widespread damage. Over the four quarters ending in December, contractors' prices for new apartment building construction rose by 4.3 per cent with Vancouver (+7.5 per cent) leading the increase.

Oatey Acquires Canadian Manufacturer

Plumbing manufacturer and distributor Oatey Co. has acquired G.F. Thompson Company Limited, a Canadian manufacturer and distributor of plumbing and HVAC products. Based in Newmarket, ON, G.F. Thompson was founded in 1947 and its product categories include sealants, compounds, cleaning and pipe preparation chemicals, and related accessories. The company manufactures products under the brand name ‘Masters.’ Oatey says the addition of G.F. Thompson and the Masters brand significantly strengthens its ability to serve the Canadian market.

Home Depot Launches Interview Scheduling Tool

The Home Depot has launched a tool that allows job applicants to self-schedule in-person interviews as the company works to fill more than 80,000 positions in the U.S. for the spring selling season. Using the tool, which is available 24/7 on any device, candidates who have completed an application for an open job in a Home Depot store or distribution centre can choose an interview appointment from those that are available. About 80 per cent of the retailer’s candidates have taken advantage of the tool since the pilot began this past November. The company is also enhancing its onboarding experience this spring with the introduction of PocketGuide for associate training, a mobile application that leverages gamification to help associates learn while they're in the aisles. The application is rolling out to all garden associates for this spring season and will expand to more store departments throughout 2018.

Snap-on Net Sales Climb

Snap-on Incorporated had net sales of $974.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 9.5 per cent over net sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating earnings before financial services were $157.7 million, or 16.2 per cent of sales, compared to $176.1 million, or 19.8 per cent of sales, last year. Net earnings in the quarter were $129.5 million, down from net earnings of $146.3 million a year ago. The commercial and industrial group segment sales increased 19.4 per cent year-over-year; the Snap-on tools group segment sales decreased two per cent; and the repair systems and information group segment sales increased 11.6 per cent.

February 16, 2018

Home Sales Decline Sharply

National home sales fell sharply in January, says The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), declining 14.5 per cent from December to January. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 2.4 per cent year-over-year. The number of newly- listed homes also declined, down 21.6 per cent from December. Activity was down in three-quarters of all local markets in Canada, including virtually all major urban centres. Many of the larger declines in percentage terms were posted in Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) market in Ontario where sales had picked up late last year following the announcement of tighter mortgage rules coming into effect in January. By contrast, sales were up on a year-over-year basis in the lower mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan region; Edmonton, AB; Montreal, QC; greater Moncton, NB; and Halifax-Dartmouth, NS. There were five months of inventory on a national basis at the end of January 2018, which is close to the long-term average of 5.2 months.

Lowe’s Opens First Manitoba Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its 64th store under the Lowe’s banner in Canada. Located Winnipeg, MB, this store is the first Lowe’s location to open in Manitoba. The store features a retail offering space totaling 115,000 square feet, including 95,000 square feet of retail sales space and an adjacent garden centre of 20,000 square feet. It offers 40,000 products in-stock with thousands more available through special order and on the Lowe’s Canada website. The store will also offer appliances, barbecues, seasonal products, outdoor products, and home décor products. The store has been outfitted with sustainable development initiatives including LED light fixtures, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, high-energy efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, and an automated building energy management system.

Bona US Relocates

Bona US is moving its north and south American headquarters to the Denver Tech Center in Englewood, CO. It will serve as new office space, training centre, and machine maintenance facility. The move is expected to take place late in 2018. The 74,209-square-foot building is almost double the area of the company’s current Aurora, CO, facility. This increase in size promotes its goals for expansion.

West Elm Opening Second Toronto Store

West Elm, a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands, opened its second location in Toronto, ON (sixth in Canada). The 16,295-square-foot store will offer customers an array of locally made products alongside the brand’s spring assortment of home furnishings and décor. West Elm North Toronto will also offer Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s cross-brand design consultation program Design Crew, which pairs customers with experts who can provide design and installation services. The new midtown location comes three months after the launch of parent company Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s eCommerce websites in Canada.

Retail Sales Rise At Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited’s consolidated retail sales increased $215.8 million, or 4.9 per cent, in the fourth quarter over the same period a year ago. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were up 4.1 per cent over the same period last year. Consolidated revenue increased $323 million, or 8.9 per cent in the fourth quarter. Excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue increased 8.4 per cent. Consolidated EBITDA increased by 10.2 per cent year-over-year. The retail segment revenue increased $300.5 million, or nine per cent; excluding petroleum, the retail segment revenue increased 8.5 per cent. Canadian Tire Retail had a retail sales increase of 3.8 per cent and same store sales were up 3.5 per cent. The retail segment revenue increased $695.7 million, or 6.1 per cent; excluding petroleum, the retail segment revenue was up 5.1 per cent.

February 15, 2018

Remote Payment Sales To Pass $3.3 Trillion

The value of consumer spend on remote payments for digital and physical goods will surpass $3.3 trillion this year, an increase of 10 per cent over 2017’s total of $3 trillion, says a study by Juniper Research. ‘Mobile & Online Remote Payments for Digital & Physical Goods: Opportunities & Forecasts 2018-2022’ shows that alternative payment mechanisms would comprise an ever-increasing proportion of online spend. PayPal already accounts for 20 per cent of mobile and online physical goods transactions made outside China, while the success of Alipay and Weixin Pay within China means that these two players combined now account for 45 per cent of global payment volumes.

Awareness Day To Increase Consumer Battery Recycling

Call2Recycle, a North American consumer battery stewardship and recycling program, encourages Canadian and American consumers to ‘lead the charge’ on National Battery Day ‒ February 18. The annual awareness day asks consumers and organizations to scour their homes and offices – especially junk drawers, closets, and garages – for used batteries which they can bring to a Call2Recycle drop-off location or they can start their own programs. While battery recycling is offered year-round, National Battery Day spotlights how batteries power the world along with the need for responsible disposal once they reach their end-of-life. And research shows there is great room for growth and engagement. In Canada, 81 per cent of consumers are aware of battery recycling, with 58 per cent actively participating. Participating retailers are reminded to talk to their customers about recycling on National Battery Day.

DuPont Corian Launches Resilience Technology

The DuPont Corian design business has developed a manufacturing process called Resilience Technology, enabling the production of a solid surface featuring damage forgiveness, easier and quicker stain removal, and less need for maintenance. The company says this technology reduces physical damage from scratching, heat, and impact, typical of daily usage in commercial and residential environments. The technology is also renewable by occasional washing with water and a slightly abrasive pad. This gentle washing removes low-level scratches. The technology will be initially used to make four new colours of Corian Solid Surface – summit white, stratus (a grey tone), keystone (inspired by concrete), and cool grey – which are going to be commercialized globally starting February.

Energy Efficiency Appeal Drives Building Automation

A rapid transformation is taking place in the global building automation systems (BAS) markets, says Frost & Sullivan in its BAS forecast. The internet of things (IoT), rising popularity of energy efficient LED lights, increasing reliance on wireless technologies, and concern for overall building energy consumption are all drivers of the trend. ‘World Building Automation Systems (BAS) Markets, Forecast to 2022’ also shows the convergence and integration of security and surveillance into BAS as the significance of building security continues to rise. “Cutting-edge technologies involving IoT, big data, and cloud platforms have made it convenient to gather and normalize data from buildings to help analyze the energy usage trends and facilitate fault detection and monitoring of the overall building energy performance,” says Suba Arunkumar, research manager. “However, these technology advancements will only thrive if suppliers can develop security features strong enough to offset customer fears about hacking or system failure.” The report forecasts that the BAS market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3 per cent through 2022.

Lumber Liquidators Shares Flooring Trends

Imperfection and Scandinavian casual are just two of the trends for flooring this year. Lumber Liquidators says trends this year will focus on character with unique features like distressed textures, multi-hues, mixed widths, and extra-long planks. The retailer says the top trend is embracing imperfection where authenticity is a goal in home décor and design. The look of natural striking tones, unpredictable grain patterns, natural knots, and cracks communicate this character. Scandinavian casual consists of soft and natural aesthetics with whites, greys, and light browns to create welcoming, calm, and cozy spaces. Oceanic hues will also be popular, with blues continuing to be a strong, fresh décor trend that exude a vibrant vibe. Waterproof and water-resistant flooring will also continue to expand this season.

LP Has Strong Fourth Quarter

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had total net sales of $711 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 29 per cent over total net sales of $550 million for the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating income was $155 million compared to $56 million in 2016. Income from continuing operations was $131 million for the quarter, versus income from continuing operations of $43 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $199 million versus $85 million. The siding segment had net sales of $213 million versus $169 million year over year; the oriented strand board (OSB) segment had net sales of $358 million versus $276 million; and the engineered wood products (EWP) segment had net sales of $92 million, up 38 per cent from the year-ago quarter.

Industry Speakers Featured At HOP

Robert Fodor from Interac Corp.; Daniel Lampron from Patrick Morin; Maxime Lavoie from BBQ Quebec; and Sylvie Tardif from Groupe BMR Inc.; are just some of the guest speakers at this year’s HOP Retail Summit. HOP, a creation of the Quebec Retail Coucil (CQCD), is an annual conference for the retail sector in Quebec. It takes place March 20 to 21 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montreal, QC. For more information, visit HOP

February 14, 2018

Small Business Needs Fairer Tax Measures

Fairer tax measures and incentives for innovation and youth hiring are at the top of small business owners' priorities for the upcoming federal budget, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “With tax season rapidly approaching, Canadian small business owners are telling us that the government's proposed tax changes are still top of mind. There is not enough clarity on the new income-sprinkling rules and we remain concerned that the proposed passive rules will hurt owners' ability to save and reinvest in their business,” says Dan Kelly, CFIB's president. “We're urging the government to listen to the senate's recommendations and put off implementing any tax changes until they fully analyze the impacts of these changes on the economy.” CFIB stresses that it is especially critical that Canada supports its small businesses to remain competitive as the U.S. introduces business-friendly tax reforms. With payroll taxes, such as CPP, increasing for the next seven years and sharp minimum wage increases across the country, small businesses are also looking to the federal government to provide some relief for their skyrocketing labour costs.

Slight Rise in Non-residential Building Prices

Contractors' prices for new non-residential building construction rose 0.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, says Statistics Canada. Higher prices to build industrial (+0.9 per cent), commercial (+0.7 per cent), and institutional (+0.9 per cent) structures all contributed to the gain. Prices for new non-residential building construction were up in all seven census metropolitan areas surveyed, led by Vancouver, BC. Contractors reported rising costs for lumber, concrete formwork, plastic, copper, and fuel-related inputs. Rebuilding activities in the U.S. after an active 2017 hurricane season contributed to higher prices for these materials. From August to October, four hurricanes made landfall in the U.S. causing widespread damage. Over the four quarters ending in December, contractors' prices for new non-residential building construction rose 3.1 per cent. Higher prices in Vancouver (+5.9 per cent) and Montréal, QC, (+4.4 per cent) led the increase.

Home Hardware Extends Aeroplan Partnership

Home Hardware Stores Limited has renewed its partnership with Aeroplan, a coalition loyalty program owned by Aimia Inc. Aeroplan has five million active members, who can earn Aeroplan Miles for purchases at any of Home Hardware’s 1,100 locations and online. Home Hardware will continue to leverage Aeroplan’s data analytics insights and capabilities

CertainTeed Canada Joins Millionaires Club

CertainTeed Insulation Canada insulation plant in Ottawa, ON, has been inducted into the ‘Saint-Gobain’s Millionaires Club’ ‒ a program designed by the parent company to reward plants that have operated at least one million work hours without a lost-time accident. The plant is only the 12th out of 66 Saint-Gobain insulation facilities worldwide to be awarded this honour. The company celebrated its employees at two dinner and dance events. The plant will now be able to use the Millionaires Club logo in communications and erect signage featuring the logo inside and outside the facility to promote the accomplishment.

Forests Ontario Award Winners Announced

Forester Jamie McRae earned the ‘2018 Ontario Wood Award’ at the Forests Ontario's annual conference. It acknowledges his contributions to the positive promotion of the Ontario Wood brand. A fifth-generation forester, McRae's family history dates back to the forestry boom of the mid-1890s. He currently manages the McRae Lumber Company, based out of Whitney, ON. In recent years, he began volunteering with Forestry Connects, a Forests Ontario program dedicated to educating high school students about the forestry industry via field trips. The ‘2018 Green Legacy Award’ – given annually to a visionary corporate partner that has been instrumental in ensuring a green legacy for future generations – was awarded to TD Bank Group. As the official sponsor of the Heritage Tree Program that celebrates historically significant trees, TD Tree Bee, an interactive tree-identification website, and community tree planting events, TD Bank is recognized for its commitment to re-greening communities.

Acquisition Drives Eastern Sales

The Eastern Company had sales of $54.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to sales of $34.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2016. Net loss for the quarter was $200,000, compared to net income of $2.7 million in the year-ago period. The industrial hardware segment sales grew by 107 per cent, partially due to the acquisition of Velvac. Excluding the acquisition, the segment grew by six per cent year over year. The security product segment sales grew by nine per cent over the year-ago period.

Backyard Oasis Focus Of Spring Expo

Visitors can shop, sample, and learn from experts at the ‘2018 Backyard Living Expo + Barbecue + Beverage.’ This year’s event will include the Weber Grill Main Stage, Designer Source Area, Springfree Outdoor Play Zone, Outdoor Lifestyle Backyard Oasis, and Urban Retreat. It takes place April 6 to 8 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, click here

February 13, 2018

Technology Drives 2018 Builder Trends

Home connectivity, improved engineered products, and customization are some of the trends in home construction and repair/remodeling design identified by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. The trends identified include the internet of things (IoT) technologies opening the door-to-whole-home connectivity. The firm says Amazon’s Alexa and other personal assistants have opened the flood gates for smart home products, especially in home security, plumbing, appliances, and HVAC. As well, today’s engineered products offer great design and less maintenance. They look increasingly like their natural counterparts, often at better or comparable prices. Customization has also become simpler. John Burns says customizable product offerings this year focused on minimizing costs and complexity for the consumer. Standouts included private-label hardware options, mix-and-match handle/spout colours and finishes, and appliance panel customizing options. Backed by significant consumer research, building products companies continue to offer new products to stay one step ahead of the competition, says the firm.

Dodge Momentum Index Slides

The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 5.1 per cent in January to 143.7 from the revised December reading of 151.5. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The commercial component of the index was 7.8 per cent lower in the month, while the institutional component was down 0.9 per cent. The fourth quarter of 2017 was particularly strong and January’s retreat returns it to a more sustainable level. On a year-over-year basis, the index is 7.7 per cent higher, with both the commercial and institutional components showing growth over January 2017. This suggests that non-residential building construction should continue to post moderate gains in 2018.

Strong Growth Forecast For Fall Protection Equipment

The global fall protection equipment market is expected to grow by more than five per cent from 2018 to 2022, says research by Technavio. The rise in global construction activity is a key driver supporting the growth because any construction workplace that is elevated requires the use of fall protection equipment for workers. And, although the construction industry witnessed a significant dip during the global recession of 2008, the market is witnessing a steady revival with the recovery of the global economy. Technavio says the increase in urbanization and the growth of the population are necessitating growth in infrastructure along with an increase in residential and commercial establishments. This bodes well for the growth of the construction industry and the fall protection equipment market.

Mohawk Earnings Climb

Mohawk Industries, Inc. net earnings were $240 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase compared to net earnings of $234 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Adjusted net earnings were $256 million, a five per cent increase over adjusted net earnings of $243 million. Net sales for the quarter were $2.4 billion, up 8.5 per cent over net sales of $2.2 billion in the year-ago period. The global ceramic segment sales increased 10 per cent year over year, while the flooring North America segment's sales increased three per cent and the flooring rest of the world segment's sales increased 18 per cent.

February 12, 2018

Businesses Need To Upgrade Payment Systems

Businesses of all sizes need to upgrade their payment systems because the current way Canadian businesses process payments costs them $2.9 to $6.5 billion annually, says a study by Payments Canada and Ernst and Young LLP (EY Canada). It shows that delays in payments processing and a lack of data and transparency in payment messaging create a number of inefficiencies for small, medium, and large enterprises. Current processes are labour intensive and provide poor visibility into supply chain and collections. They offer a limited predictability of cash inflows and outflows and cause difficulty in tracking cross-border payments. The report says the small businesses have a continued reliance on manual processes and legacy technology. The introduction of new systems, rules, and standards as part of Payments Canada's modernization program will foster a faster, safer, and more data-rich payments environment. Besides the introduction of new systems for high-value, batch retail, and real-time payments – which will operate under an enhanced risk, regulatory, and rules framework – the primary efficiency enhancement for businesses is anticipated to come from adopting the ISO 20022 data standard. The standard enables the transfer of rich data with payments, a change that has the potential to improve automation and efficiency, reducing many of the pain points in accounts payable and receivable, particularly for those organizations processing large volumes of payments. The full study is available here

Home Sales Strong In Montreal

A total of 2,598 residential sales were concluded in January in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), an increase of 13 per cent over January 2017, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the best January sales result in eight years. All six main areas of the Montréal CMA registered an increase in sales in January, with Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (80 sales) and the South Shore (628 sales) leading the way with respective sales increases of 31 and 22 per cent. Laval and the Island of Montréal went head-to-head, as both of these areas registered an 11 per cent rise in sales. On the North Shore and in Vaudreuil-Soulanges sales were up by nine per cent and seven per cent, respectively. For a fourth consecutive quarter, condominiums registered the largest increase in sales, this time jumping by 19 per cent. Plexes and single-family homes weren't far behind, with respective increases of 15 and 10 per cent.

BMR Renovation Centre Celebrates Grand Re-opening

La Coop Unicoop held a grand re-opening for its BMR renovation centre in Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, QC. The store underwent a $150,000 renovation to optimize the layout and modernize the facility. The store, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary, now meets BMR standards. The retail and energy division of Unicoop operates 10 renovation centres and hardware stores in the Beauce, Bellechasse, Montmagny, and Orleans regions in Quebec.

Molson Speaks For CTEQ

Andrew Molson, a seventh generation of the Molson family, has been appointed as the spokesperson for Le Centre de transfert d'entreprise du Québec (CTEQ), an organization that supports entrepreneurs with a comprehensive approach to business transition. His mission will be to raise business succession planning awareness amongst owner-managers/entrepreneurs in Quebec. “All over Quebec, there are men and women at retirement age who are still passionate about the companies they run,” says Molson. “However, they have to learn how to step aside for the good of all they have created over the years. As spokesperson, I hope to get entrepreneurs thinking about succession, particularly those who care deeply about the future of the businesses they have invested so much time and effort in.”

Beacon Sales Up 12 Per Cent

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. sales were $1.12 billion in the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 12 per cent over sales of $1 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Residential roofing product sales increased 11.1 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales increased 5.4 per cent, and complementary product sales increased 27.5 per cent over the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA grew 7.4 per cent to $86 million versus $80 million in the prior year. Net income for the quarter was $67.6 million, compared to $20.4 million in 2017. Adjusted net income was $46.7 million compared to $34.4 million a year ago.

Simpson Has Double Digit Increase

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had consolidated net sales of $231.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 16 per cent compared to consolidated net sales of $200.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2016. North America net sales of $190.9 million increased 10 per cent compared to $172.8 million. Gross profit for the quarter was $102.7 million, an increase of eight per cent compared to gross profit of $95 million in the year-ago period. Income from operations was $24.7 million, a decrease of five per cent compared to income of $26.1 million a year ago. Consolidated net income was $13.1 million compared to net income of $17.4 million.

Home Show Features Outdoor Trends

Livable outdoor spaces with specific purposes, cozy fire and water elements, and simplicity and low maintenance are just some of the outdoor trends for 2018 from HGTV’s ‘Curb Appeal.’ More from Curb Appeal and other home and garden specialists, including designers, celebrities, top retailers will be featured at the ‘2018 National Home Show’ presented by RE/MAX and co-located with Canada Blooms. It takes place March 9 to 18 at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place, in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.nationalhomeshow.com

February 9, 2018

January Canadian Housing Starts Trend Stable

The trend in housing starts was stable at 224,865 units in January 2018 compared to 226,346 units in December 2017, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Steady for the third consecutive month, the trend reflects higher starts of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres, which has offset lower starts of single detached homes. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 216,210 units in January, essentially unchanged from 216,275 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts increased slightly by 0.2 per cent in January to 198,400 units. Multiple urban starts essentially held steady at 134,685 units in January while single-detached urban starts increased by 0.6 per cent to 63,715 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,810 units.

NRF Forecasts Retail Sales Rise

The National Retail Federation forecasts that U.S. retail industry sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.4 per cent over 2017. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 10 and 12 per cent. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. U.S. retail sales grew 3.9 per cent in 2017 over 2016 to $3.53 trillion, which exceeded NRF’s forecast for growth between 3.2 and 3.8 per cent. “Despite headlines to the contrary, the retail industry is strong, growing, and meeting consumer demand with the products they want at the prices they expect and the shopping experience they want to have, online or in store,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “With consumer confidence high, unemployment low, and wages growing, there is every reason to believe that retail sales will be robust throughout the year.”

Many Shoppers Overspent Over Holidays

Forty-two per cent of Canadians admit they overspent on their holiday budgets, spending on average $530 beyond what they intended, finds a poll by RBC. The ‘2018 Holiday Spending & Saving Insights Poll’ shows that shoppers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (48 per cent) and Ontario (45 per cent) led the country in overspending their holiday budgets. The amount of money overspent varied widely, from an average of $652 in Ontario to an average of $363 in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Shoppers aged 18 to 34 made up the largest group of overspenders (55 per cent), compared to shoppers aged 35 to 54 (43 per cent) and 55+ (29 per cent). As well, while more women than men overspent this past holiday season (45 per cent women; 38 per cent men), women overspenders spent less money than their male counterparts ($485 versus $587). When asked what they would do differently in 2018 to be ready for this year's holiday expenses, overspenders say they would plan to save on a regular basis (43 per cent) and plan ahead for holiday spending by budgeting earlier in the year (36 per cent).

BMO Launches Small Business Credit Cards

BMO Bank of Montreal has launched four credit cards for small business owners. Rewards include better earn rates on categories preferred by small business owners such as gas and office supply purchases and phone and internet bills. The cards also offer reward options, low interest rates, and competitive annual fees, as well as insurance packages. Users can pool points earned under both the BMO Rewards program and the AIR MILES Rewards Miles program. The cards feature higher available limits with no minimum income requirements.

Anwar Leads Technology

Yasir Anwar is chief technology officer for Williams-Sonoma. He will lead all technology aspects of the company’s digital experience, retail stores, and supply chain, and will oversee its 3-D imaging and augmented reality platform, Outward, which it acquired last year. Previously, he served as executive vice-president and chief technology officer of Macy’s.

Amazon Sales Strong

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $60.5 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, a 38 per cent increase over net sales of $43.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating income increased 69 per cent to $2.1 billion in the quarter, compared with operating income of $1.3 billion in the year-ago period. Net income was $1.9 billion compared with net income of $749 million.

Norbord Earnings Climb

Norbord Inc. had adjusted earnings of $123 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to adjusted earnings of $55 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Adjusted EBITDA was $204 million for the quarter, versus $115 million a year ago. North American OSB shipments for the quarter were up two per cent versus the third quarter and were two per cent lower versus the same quarter last year. In Europe, shipments increased five per cent over the prior year.

February 8, 2018

Multi-family Leads Building Permit Gains

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion in building permits in December, up 4.8 per cent following a 7.3 per cent decline in November, says Statistics Canada. The December increase stemmed from higher construction intentions in the residential sector. Across Canada, all components climbed in 2017, up 10.4 per cent from the previous year, led by the multi-family dwelling component. Construction intentions for single-family homes led the rise in December. Canadian municipalities issued $2.8 billion in permits for single-family dwellings, rising 8.9 per cent from the previous month and the largest month-over-month increase in 2017. Ontario reported the largest gain, up 15.7 per cent from the previous month. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings increased to $2.4 billion in December, up seven per cent from the previous month. Higher construction intentions in British Columbia led to the rise as the province outpaced Ontario and Quebec for the largest contribution to the national total.

Lowe’s Uses Holoroom To Train Employees

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is bringing its augmented and virtual reality experiences from the consumer to its employees. The company introduced a new iteration of ‘Holoroom How To,’ called ‘Holoroom How To: Red Vest’ – an employee training platform that teaches associates how to use specific in-store equipment through virtual reality. This version of the Holoroom was built specifically for Lowe’s associates to provide them with greater project knowledge, more motivation, and increased confidence to help address customers’ window fashion needs. Beyond the educational benefit, the platform projects a life-like simulation that teaches associates every step of the process as they advance through the module. The hands-on practice lets associates learn from potential mistakes without waste of materials or dissatisfied customers. More than 400 associates have tested the experience and over 90 per cent report that virtual reality training helps them to better serve customers.

Home Depot U.S. To Carry Tesla Solar

The Home Depot plans to offer Tesla solar energy services in U.S. stores and online. The company says that customers will have access to Tesla Residential Rooftop Solar along with its rechargeable battery technology known as Powerwall. Tesla will roll out branded selling spaces at 800 of the retailer’s locations and will be staffed by Tesla employees. The products will be featured in high-profile displays with some locations offering visual demonstrations on how the products work.

Sellick Opens Upgraded Factory

Rough-terrain forklift manufacturer Sellick Equipment Limited has opened a $21 million manufacturing facility in Harrow, ON. The 126,000-square-foot factory was designed for product innovation, improvement to quality control, and flexibility in product design. All areas of the manufacturing process were upgraded including a new machining centre consisting of CNC-controlled laser cutting, milling, and turning machines, automated storage and retrieval systems for raw materials and aftermarket parts, and a state-of-the-art metal preparation and paint line. Sellick is a subsidiary of Avis Industrial Corporation.

Johnson Joins Smooth Commerce

Glen Johnson is chief commercial officer with Smooth Commerce. Most recently, he was senior vice-president, football, for the Canadian Football League. He has more than 30 years of experience in technology, financial service, and professional sports.

Earnings Increase For Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser Company had net earnings of $271 million on net sales of $1.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase over net earning from continuing operations of $62 million on net sales of $1.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2016. Adjusted EBITDA was $551 million for the quarter compared to $400 million in the year-ago period. The company says that average sales realizations for its wood products increased compared with the third quarter. However, sales volumes declined due to seasonality and weather-related transportation disruptions. Canadian and western log costs increased and raw material costs for oriented strand board and engineered wood products were also higher.

February 7, 2018

U.S. Online Home Improvement Sales Soar

U.S. online sales of home improvement products increased 34 per cent in 2017, reaching nearly $20 billion, says the NPD Group. Double-digit growth was prevalent across all major home improvement category segments last year – everything from plumbing and hardware to outdoor living and decor. Several categories ‒ hardware, lighting and ceiling fans, bath and faucets, and storage ‒ outpaced the overall industry’s growth in 2017. However, air filters and blinds were the fastest growing home improvement categories in eCommerce, far exceeding the industry average with 90 per cent gains in dollar sales compared to 2016. “The home improvement industry is realizing the impact of the ease that eCommerce brings to the consumer shopping experience,” says Joe Derochowski, executive director and home industry analyst at NPD. “And consumers are realizing the ways online shopping can meet their home improvement needs, from auto-replenishment of low-touch, staple purchases, to providing detailed guidance in finding the right product to fit their home.”

G.S. Equipco Chosen As Agency

Spectrum Brands has appointed G.S Equipco Ltd. as its new manufacturers agency in Ontario for its plumbing division. Beginning March 1, Equipco will assume sales responsibility in the wholesale plumbing channel for Pfister and Fortis brand accounts. Equipco’s territory within Ontario will be the area east of Highway 6. Great Lakes Marketing will continue to represent Spectrum Brands in the southwest Ontario region. Spectrum Brands has worked alongside Equipco in Western Canada since 2016. G.S. Equipco Ltd. was established in the Greater Vancouver, BC, area and has been representing specialized manufacturers the plumbing, heating, and HVAC/R industries since 1982. It currently represents 35 manufacturers across Canada.

IRWIN And LENOX Products Added

Stanley Black & Decker Canada has added IRWIN and LENOX tools and accessories to its global tools and storage group. It acquired the two brands in a transaction completed in 2017. IRWIN is a manufacturer and distributor of a broad line of professional hand tools and power tool accessories. Popular products include VISE-GRIP pliers and wrenches, MARATHON saw blades, QUICK-GRIP clamping tools, SPEEDBOR wood drilling bits, STRAIT-LINE marking tools, UNIBIT step drill bits, MARPLES fine woodworking tools, and HANSON taps and dies. LENOX has more than of a century of expertise in cutting technology. Its industrial saw blades are known for their high performance and guaranteed ability to cut through tough materials. Its product categories include reciprocating saw blades, hole saws, jig saw blades, hand saws, drill bits, portable band saw blades, screwdrivers, and utility knives.

Lowe’s To Convert L’Entrepôt RONA

Charlemagne, QC-based L’Entrepôt RONA will convert to Lowe’s Canada’s Reno Depot banner. The store will undergo an extensive 12-week transformation after which it will become Reno-Depot’s 23rd point of sale in Canada. The conversion will involve the redesigning of all departments, new racking, branding conversion, and new product categories such as appliances and seasonal. The store will remain open during the conversion.

Fortune Brands Sales Increase

Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. had sales of $1.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of six per cent over sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating income was $163 million for the quarter compared to $166.4 million in the year-ago period. Plumbing sales increased 10 per cent year over year with operating margin before charges/gains at 20.8 per cent; cabinet sales increased four per cent led with operating margin at 10.7 per cent; door sales were up six per cent with operating margin at 14.5 per cent; and security sales increased four per cent with operating margin at 15 per cent.

Net Sales Rise For DowDuPont

DowDuPont had net sales of $20.1 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, a 13 per cent increase over net sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Volume grew six per cent in all operating segments and geographies. Operating EBITDA for the quarter was $3.9 billion, an increase of 24 per cent over the year-ago period. The performance materials and coatings segment had net sales of $2.2 billion, up 15 per cent year over year. Operating EBITDA for the segment was $613 million, up 56 per cent over the year-ago period. The safety and construction segment had net sales of $1.3 billion, compared to net sales of $1.2 billion last year. Tyvek protective materials achieved double-digit per cent volume growth, while building solutions rose by a low-single-digit per cent. Corian design volume was constrained by raw material availability. Operating EBITDA for the segment was $285 million, up 26 per cent from operating EBITDA of $227 million in the year-ago period.

Speakers Lined Up For Dx3

Dx3, a Canadian digital marketing, retail, and advertising conference, has announced its first slate of speakers for the 2018 event. This year’s conference will include speakers from Amazon, Twitter, Google, Snapchat, Uber, and Element AI. The conference takes place March 7 and 8 at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information, click here

February 6, 2018

Accessibility, Investment Top Home Buying Motivators

Improved accessibility and investment opportunity are the top motivators for buying a home for first-time buyers, previous owners, and current owners in 2017, finds a survey by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Conversely, changes to mortgage regulations and concerns about possible future interest rate increases were not among the top motivators for prospective home buyers. More than 40 per cent of first-time buyers and previous owners say they would delay their home purchase if they were not able to find their ideal home. An existing move-in-ready home is the top choice for all groups, followed by a newly-constructed home, noted by roughly one-fifth of first-time buyers and previous owners. Among all groups, the two most common actions completed one or two years prior to the purchase of a home are saving for a down payment and determining what type of home to buy. The majority of future home buyers intend to obtain a mortgage to finance their home purchase, with first-time buyers showing higher incidence compared to previous owners and current owners. Across all groups of future home buyers, more than 60 per cent say they are likely to have a financial buffer in case their expenses change in the future.

Renoworks Builds Its Base

Increasing demand from manufacturers resulted in entirely new product categories being added to Renoworks Software Inc.’s visualizer technology platform, including interior trim and fireplaces. The company offers building products manufacturers a number of different digital marketing and sales solutions that highlight the products they manufacture. Manufacturers can develop digital product libraries to expand their distribution channel on the Renoworks PRO platform which includes remodelers and new home builders. They can also incorporate the full Renoworks solution suite into different marketing and sales initiatives including online visualizers, mobile applications, builder and channel programs, or integrated pricing solutions.

Lowe’s To Hire 7,000

Lowe’s Canada is holding a cross-country hiring day on February 24 to hire more than 7,000 employees for Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot stores across Canada. The hiring event is in preparation for spring – the busiest season of the year for the retailer. Positions include full-time, part-time, and seasonal. Lowe’s Canada operates more than 630 corporate and dealer stores in Canada under different banners. Potential candidates can walk into any Lowe’s, RONA, or Reno-Depot corporate store across the country between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn more about employment opportunities, fill out applications, and take part in on-the-spot interviews.

Foulkes Leads HBC

Helena Foulkes is chief executive officer of HBC. She joins the company from CVS Health, where she served as executive vice-president of CVS Health and president of CVS Pharmacy.

ScottsMiracle-Gro Sales Rise

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company had sales of $221.5 million in its first fiscal quarter, an increase of seven per cent over sales of $207.4 million in the first quarter of 2017. Gross margin rates decreased to 15.3 per cent from 17.7 per cent. GAAP loss from continuing operations was $20 million for the quarter compared with a loss of $58.1 million a year ago. Non-GAAP adjusted loss from continuing operations was $62.2 million compared with $52.6 million.

Revenues Increase At Ingersoll-Rand

Ingersoll-Rand plc had net revenues of $3,618 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of eight per cent over net revenues of $3,359 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating income for the quarter was $387 million, up 10 per cent over operating income of $353 million a year ago. Adjusted operating margin was 11.1 per cent versus 10.9 last year. The company says residential HVAC product, channel, and digital investments continue to yield market share gains in a healthy market.

February 5, 2018

Employers Spending More On Employee Development

Canadian organization spending on learning and development has been steadily increasing since the end of 2010, says the Conference Board of Canada. Its ‘Learning and Development Outlook’ shows employers spent, on average, $889 per employee on learning and development in 2016-17, an increase of $89 per employee since 2014-15. The average number of hours of learning per employee per year is also on the rise, increasing from 25 hours in 2010 to 32 hours in 2016-17. The report says organizations with strong learning cultures exhibit better overall organizational performance in the areas of employee engagement, customer satisfaction, overall productivity, and overall leadership performance compared to organizations with weak learning cultures. Yet, although Canadian organizations are indicating that learning is a top priority for them, approximately 58 per cent say that they have experienced challenges in their business environments in the past few years that have directly impacted their learning and development strategies or budgets.

Retail Sales On A Roll

November data shows retail sales growth is back on track to come in at a 20-year high, says retail consultant Ed Strapagiel. With one month of data left, the momentum indicates that December is unlikely to disappoint. The 12-month growth trend improved considerably during much of 2017, while the three-month trend weakened slightly, but is still running at a historically high pace, he says. The automotive and related sector boosted sales throughout the year, with store merchandise also particularly strong. Building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers and electronics and appliance stores are leading the way with double digit year-to-date retail sales growth of 13 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively. All retail store types in this sector are posting positive sales increases. Home furnishings stores are up just 1.6 per cent year-to-date after 11 months of 2017, but even this is ahead of what grocery stores are producing. Overall year-to-date results for 2017 (11 months) show that Canadian eCommerce sales are up 36.6 per cent from a year ago, a much higher gain than for retail in general. Total eCommerce sales are estimated at $15.5 billion while bricks-and-mortar location-based retailers sold an estimated $6.8 billion in eCommerce sales for the 12 months ending November.

Lowe’s Enhances U.S. Benefits

Lowe's Companies, Inc. says it will enhance benefits for U.S. full-time employees. The company will also offer a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 for its more than 260,000 hourly employees. The bonus will be paid in addition to the company's store-level bonus program. Now, in addition to the company's benefits program, eligible full-time hourly and salaried U.S. employees will qualify to receive 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and two weeks of paid parental leave; an adoption assistance benefit to cover up to $5,000 of expenses related to agency, legal and other fees; and eligibility to enroll in health benefits sooner.

Vogue USA To Build Brand

Designer heating solutions manufacturer Vogue USA, has appointed home interior specialist PR consultancy Publicity Engineers to commence all trade and consumer public relations on its behalf for U.S. and Canada international press. Vogue USA brings its heating portfolio from the UK, which includes heated towel dryers, designer radiators, and heating accessories for both residential and commercial projects. The PR agency will help the company develop and grow its brand and business to reach its core demographics in the U.S. and Canadian markets heading into 2018.

USG Sales Up

USG Corporation had consolidated net sales of $831 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase from net sales of $734 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Net income decreased to $95 million from $510 million and adjusted net income increased to $264 million from $251 million. Operating profit increased to $87 million from $59 million, while adjusted operating profit increased to $106 million from $96 million for the quarter. The company had a net loss of $62 million, compared with net income of $307 million a year ago. The U.S. wallboard and surfaces segment generated $80 million of operating profit in the quarter, U.S. performance materials generated $80 million in operating profit, and U.S. ceilings generated $25 million of operating profit.

Income Turns Around For Resolute

Resolute Forest Products Inc. had net income of $13 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, up from a loss of $45 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales were $898 million for the quarter, an increase of $9 million over the year-ago period. Operating income was $54 million, an $88 million increase over operating loss of $18 million a year ago. The wood products segment had operating income of $57 million in the quarter compared to $64 million in the previous quarter. EBITDA for the segment was $65 million compared to $73 million.

February 2, 2018

Spending On AI To Increase Fourfold

Global retailer spending on artificial intelligence (AI) is forecast to grow nearly fourfold, reaching $7.3 million by 2022, says Juniper Research. This is up from an estimated $2 billion in 2018 as retailers target new avenues to increase personalization of the customer experience. ‘AI in Retail: Disruption, Analysis and Opportunities: 2018-2022’ shows that retailers will heavily invest in AI tools that allow them to differentiate and improve the services they offer customers. These range from automated marketing platforms that generate tailored, timely offers, to chatbots that provide instant customer service. Spending will be strongest in customer service and sentiment analytics where AI can be applied to understand customer reaction to the products purchased and the service received. This will prove to be a key tool for retailers seeking to improve their customer experience. Fifty-four per cent of spending on AI will be towards customer service and sentiment analytics, with 30 per cent of spending on AI-based automatic marketing, and 16 per cent on demand forecasting. It predicts that retailers will use AI insights to design and target new product ranges, as well as to create promotional offers.

Ply Gem Acquired To Merge With Atrium

Private equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) and Golden Gate Capital plan to acquire Atrium Windows & Doors and Ply Gem Holdings, Inc. to merge the companies and form an exterior building products company that will provide enhanced product breadth and a stronger North American platform. Ply Gem’s board of directors has unanimously approved the agreement. Ply Gem will continue to be headquartered in North Carolina and Gary E. Robinette will continue as chairman and chief executive officer. The transactions are expected to close in the second quarter of 2018. Closing of the acquisition of Ply Gem is not subject to the closing of the acquisition of Atrium.

Lowe’s Opens Store In Alberta

Lowe’s Canada opened its 63rd store under the Lowe’s banner in Canada. Located in St. Albert, AB, this store marks the sixth Lowe’s location in the Greater Edmonton Area. It features a retail offering space totaling more than 107,000 square feet, including 86,800 square feet of retail sales space, and an adjacent garden centre of 21,100 square feet. It features 40,000 products in-stock with thousands more available through special order and on the Lowe’s website. Products will include an extensive assortment of top-of-the line appliances, a year-round selection of barbecues, a wide assortment of seasonal products, and an extensive assortment of stylish home and outdoor décor, and home organization products for the house and garage.

Consumers Like Year-round Outdoor Spaces

Consumers will adopt more of a year-round mindset regarding their outdoor spaces, says Trex Company in its annual outdoor living forecast. The company says the drivers behind this trend are modern high-performance materials and innovative design approaches. However, just because people will spend more time outdoors doesn’t mean they’re willing to put in extra hours for care and maintenance. The company says high maintenance materials such as wood are seeing a decrease in demand as consumers opt for lower maintenance offerings that deliver performance and sustainability. It forecasts that wood alternatives, particularly composite decking, will experience above average gains in demand through 2020. The hottest design influences include comfort and coziness with accents such as plush cushions, protective pergolas, and other cozy warming features. Modern, metal finishes and sleek designs will also abound, as homeowners become inspired by commercial architecture in settings such as hotels and urban rooftops.

Neutrals, Earth Tones Top Brick Trends

Fired-clay brick trends this year feature whites, greys, black, deep reds, painted, and glazed brick with overall larger sizes, says the Brick Industry Association (BIA). As well, clean, cool shades top the trends at all home price ranges, primarily whites with white mortar and all greys from light to charcoal to steel. Sandy earth tones are also trending, reflecting how fired-clay brick is made from abundant natural resources. Sleek, black brick is also gaining popularity – especially for restaurants and office spaces – and gaining ground in the residential sector. Residential black and dark grey brick is trending primarily for contemporary and art deco looks, along with re-emerging blended reds in a rolled edge texture. For inside the home, genuine thin brick is booming for kitchens, entrance foyers, accent walls, and other interior applications. Painted brick is also on the rise.

Laflamme Leads Resolute

Yves Laflamme is president and chief executive officer of Resolute Forest Products Inc., succeeding Richard Garneau who is retiring. Previously, Laflamme was senior vice-president, wood products, global procurement, and information technology, for Resolute.

Griffon Revenue Strong

Griffon Corporation had revenue of $473.3 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 24 per cent compared to revenue in the first quarter of 2017. Home and building products (HBP) revenue was $371 million, an increase of 40 per cent year over year. Income from continuing operations was $22.8 million, compared to $7 million in the year ago period. EBITDA was $43.7 million, an increase of nine per cent over last year.

February 1, 2018

Retailers Want Better Sourcing

Heading into 2018, retailers will begin to demand better tools to facilitate B2B buying, a trillion-dollar market currently divided between 1.2 million retailers, says a white paper by Hubba, a global B2B commerce network. ‘The Curated Future: Why less selection, not more, will be the defining retail trend in 2018’ shows that most retailers (90 per cent) are actively trying to grow distribution to curate a relevant assortment of products for their consumers, who face a paradox of choice in an over-saturated market. Hubba says 75 per cent of methods buyers use to source new products currently involve no digital technology, yet over 40 per cent of those interviewed express interest in a B2B rating system and digital solution to identify the right products for their specific customers. The paper shows quality, not quantity, will become the defining retail experience. As well, independent retailers will consolidate their power and improve their economies of scale while increasing their products’ speed and efficiency to shelf.

U.S. Consumer Conference Back Up

The U.S. Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in January, following a decline in December. The index now stands at 125.4, up from 123.1 in December. The Present Situation Index decreased slightly, from 156.5 to 155.3, while the Expectations Index increased from 100.8 last month to 105.5 this month. The board says consumers’ assessment of current conditions was slightly less positive in December, while their assessment of business conditions was mixed. The percentage saying business conditions are good decreased slightly from 35.8 per cent to 34.9 per cent, while those saying business conditions are bad increased slightly, from 11.7 per cent to 12.7 per cent. Consumers’ assessment of the labour market was also mixed. The percentage of consumers claiming jobs are plentiful increased from 36.3 per cent to 37.6 per cent, while those claiming jobs are hard to get increased marginally, from 16 per cent to 16.4 per cent.

Housing Markets Remain Vulnerable

While improving conditions were noted in both Winnipeg, MB, and Saskatoon, SK, Canada's housing markets remain highly vulnerable overall for the sixth consecutive quarter with evidence of overvaluation and price acceleration, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). CMHC's ‘Housing Market Assessment’ (HMA) finds that while overvaluation at the national level remains moderate, markets in Toronto and Hamilton, ON, and Vancouver and Victoria, BC, are highly vulnerable due to price acceleration and overvaluation. CMHC defines vulnerability as imbalances in the housing market. Imbalances occur when overbuilding, overvaluation, overheating, and price acceleration or combinations of these depart significantly from historical averages.

TIMBER MART Gets Commercial Member

Central Construction Materials has joined the commercial arm of TIMBER MART. The Parksville, BC, business has been serving contractors and builders throughout Vancouver Island since 2004 with a variety of building materials including gypsum, insulation, steel, roofing, masonry, and siding. Its three-acre property is comprised of a 17,000-square-foot storage yard, as well as two buildings which house 17 full-time staff. Allan Versteeg, buyer for Central Construction Materials, says the company chose TIMBER MART because it will provide them with the buying power and programs it needs to better compete in the commercial market.

ITOCHU To Acquire Alta Forest Products

ITOCHU Corporation and ITOCHU International Inc. plan to acquire all membership interests of Alta Forest Products LLC from Canadian company E.R. Probyn Ltd. and U.S.-based Welso Lumber Company. Alta is one of the largest wood fence board manufacturers in North America, producing 360 million board feet annually in its four manufacturing plants. The company has established a leading position in the market for western red cedar fence boards. The acquisition will strengthen ITOCHU’s position in the North American fence distribution industry. It already owns MASTER-HALCO Inc, which operates five chain link fence manufacturing plants and 53 distribution centres in North America.

Epicor Makes Appointments

David Mehok is chief financial officer with Epicor Software Corporation. Previously, he was chief financial officer for CLEAResult. Clarke Pich is head of global professional services. Most recently, he was group vice-president of the commercial segment of the North American cloud consulting sales team at Oracle.

3M Sales Solid

3M had sales of $8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of nine per cent over sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Fourth-quarter operating income was $1.8 billion and operating income margin was 22.8 per cent. Total sales grew 15 per cent in safety and graphics, 12.5 per cent in electronics and energy, 7.3 per cent in consumer, 6.9 per cent in industrial, and six per cent in healthcare. Latin America/Canada sales increased 2.5 per cent year over year. In the consumer segment, sales grew in consumer healthcare, home improvement, and stationery and office, while sales in home care were flat.

January 31, 2018

Fair Housing Plan Affects Toronto Home Sales

The ‘psychological’ effects of the government of Ontario’s fair housing strategy contributed to an 18 per cent dip in home sales last year, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). In a report recapping the 2017 sales year, TREB says the provincial plan to improve housing affordability spiked what had been a record-setting first quarter of 2017. The Ontario Fair Housing Plan (FHP) was announced in the spring and included new measures such as a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers, actions to increase the housing supply, and rent controls. TREB statistics show a decline in sales over the second and third quarters, but the board's analysts say actual policy changes were not the primary factor. In fact, sales rebounded toward the end of the year, suggesting a waning effect of the FHP. By year's end, 92,395 homes changed hands, down from more than 113,000 transactions in 2016. TREB forecasts between 85,000 and 95,000 transactions in 2018, which represents a likely decrease from 2017.

Gender Diversity Could Increase Profitability

Hiring more women will grow a company’s profitability, says a survey by McKinsey & Co. After a global analysis of more than 1,000 companies, the firm found that the organizations that were in the top 25 percentile for gender diversity at the executive level were 21 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability when compared with companies with lower levels of gender diversity. Women have different strengths and assets than men, says Jack Skeen, a Fortune 500 leadership coach and author. He says that having female executives also changes the way potential clients view a company. “Studies have shown that people view women as more trustworthy and this could help in building valuable business connections.” He says that employers would be wise to keep studies like this in mind. “When our companies are inclusive and diverse, they are stronger … and so are we.”

Fenestration Specs Released

The 2017 edition of ‘AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440, NAFS ‒ North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for windows, doors, and skylights’ (NAFS) has received final approval and is now available. This standard is the result of a multi-year effort by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), CSA Group (CSA), and Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA). The updated 2017 standard replaces the 2011 edition of the joint standard. The 2011 NAFS standard is already referenced in the 2015 editions of the ‘International Building Code’ and ‘International Residential Code,’ with the new standard to be included in the 2018 editions of these codes. The new standard is being proposed to replace the 2011 edition in the ‘National Building Code of Canada’ when it is updated.

UFPI Sells Florida Property

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) has closed the sale and lease-back of its property in Medley, FL, a 35-acre site that includes one of its large operations as part of a long-term plan to enhance its operations in the region. The move is part of a strategy to create efficiencies and advantages not possible with the current facility by optimizing the capacity of its other three Florida operations, including two it acquired from Robbins Manufacturing in 2017, and adding a state-of-the-art facility in south Florida. The company will lease back the Medley facility as it executes its long-term plan for Florida and the southeast region.

Gaffke Joins AZEK

Jeanine Gaffke is chief marketing officer with the AZEK company. Previously, she was vice-president of marketing and business development at Emerson.

Valspar Drives Sherwin-Williams Sales

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $3.98 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 43 per cent over consolidated net sales for the fourth quarter of 2016. The increase was primarily due to higher paint sales volume in the Americas group and the addition of Valspar sales. Minus Valspar, net sales increased 6.9 per cent in the quarter. Net sales in the Americas group increased 8.9 per cent to $2.19 billion. Net sales of the consumer brands group increased 89.1 per cent to $571.6 million in the quarter due primarily to the inclusion of Valspar sales.

January 30, 2018

U.S. Construction Starts Rebound In December

New U.S. construction starts in December climbed 12 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $733.3 billion, bouncing back following November’s 12 per cent decline, says Dodge Data & Analytics. December’s gain for total construction reflected varied improvement by each of the three main construction sectors. Non-building construction jumped 43 per cent, while non-residential building rose 10 per cent. For all of 2017, total construction starts grew three per cent to $745.9 billion, which followed the six per cent increase in 2016. The December statistics produced a reading of 155 for the index, up from November’s 138. For the full year 2017, the index averaged 158. Within the non-residential building sector, commercial building categories as a group advanced 17 per cent and institutional buildings increased nine per cent. Residential building in December was $308.1 billion, up one per cent. The single-family side of the housing market rose one per cent while multi-family housing was unchanged.

BC Store Wins IHA gia For Canada

Duncan, BC-based Pots & Paraphernalia was presented the International Housewares Association’s (IHA) Global Innovation Award (gia) for outstanding home and housewares retailer in Canada for 2017-2108. The gia program was created by the IHA and International Home + Housewares show to foster innovation and excellence in home and housewares retailing throughout the world. The national winders will be honoured at a dinner during the 2018 show. The national winners will also be featured in the Hall of Global Innovation along with visuals of their award-winning store design and merchandising and branding ideas will be on display. The show takes place March 10 to 13 in Chicago, IL. For more information, click here

Shoppers Want Products Quick And Easy

When U.S. consumers shop – in stores or online – they are usually looking for something specific and want to be able to find it easily. And when they shop online, they expect to get their merchandise delivered quickly and for free, says a report by the National Retail Federation. ‘Consumer View’ finds consumers don’t want to pay a premium to get a product fast. Whether shopping instore or online, consumers typically seek to buy a certain item rather than just browsing, with 73 per cent saying that’s the case with stores and 54 per cent online. And in either case, 58 per cent rate being able to find what they want quickly and easily as their top factor in determining where to shop. Shopping just to browse has shifted to being more popular online (46 per cent) than in stores (27 per cent). As well, among those shopping online, 68 per cent expect free shipping even on purchases of less than $50, with 47 per cent saying they typically back out if shipping isn’t free. And 38 per cent expect two-day shipping to be free while 24 per cent expect free same-day shipping.

Government Invests In Energy Efficiency

The federal ministry of national resources will invest $182 million to increase energy efficiency and address climate change by improving how homes and buildings are designed, renovated, and constructed. The funding, which is part of the Green Infrastructure Fund, will support research and development; a program to find and test cost-effective, technical solutions for high-performance buildings; the development of new energy standards; and the expansion of energy-labelling programs to provide better information on energy use in homes and businesses.

IKEA Founder Passes Away

The founder of IKEA and Ikano Group, Ingvar Kamprad, has passed away at his home in Sweden at the age of 91. He founded IKEA at the age of 17 and it is now a global furniture retailer. Although he did not have an operational role at IKEA since 1988, he did continue to contribute to the business in the role of senior advisor and worked until the very end of his life.

Strong Sales For Richelieu

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. had consolidated sales of $250.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 14.8 per cent over consolidated sales of $218 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales in the manufacturers market increased 14.5 per cent for the quarter while sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores increased 16.1 per cent over last year. In Canada, the company had sales of $174.5 million, an increase of 20.6 per cent. Sales to manufacturers increased 20.2 per cent and sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores increased 22.1 per cent.

January 29, 2018

Strong Sales In 2017 GTA New Home Market

In the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market, 2017 was a year of declining inventory, high prices, and strong sales, setting a record high in new condo apartment sales and a record low in single-family home sales, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Overall in 2017, there were 44,143 new homes sold in the GTA, making 2017 the fourth strongest year for new home sales in the GTA since 2000. Of the new homes sold in 2017, 82.5 per cent (36,429 units) were condominium apartments in low, medium, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units. This was the highest number of condo apartments sold in any year in the GTA. Conversely, 17.5 per cent (7,714) were single-family homes including detached, link, and semi-detached houses, and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), the lowest number sold since 2000. At the end of 2017 there were 11,397 new homes available for purchase, down 13.2 per cent from 13,136 at the end of 2016 and 60.3 per cent below the 28,739 new homes available 10 years ago. The decline in single-family home inventory has been dramatic. At the end of 2017, there were 3,481 new single-family homes available for purchase, down 74.4 per cent from 10 years ago.

Stanley B&D To Acquire Nelson

Stanley Black & Decker plans to purchase the industrial business of Nelson Fastener Systems, excluding Nelson's automotive stud welding business. The acquisition will increase the company’s presence in the general industrial end markets, expand its portfolio of highly engineered fastening solutions, and will deliver cost synergies. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018.

Battery Recycling Awareness Continues

Call2Recycle, a consumer battery stewardship and recycling program across North America, says its partners, stewards, and collection sites recycled nearly 6.3 million kilograms of batteries in 2017. To date, the program has recycled 65 million kilograms of batteries. The organization promotes battery recycling awareness and activism through its partnerships with industry stewards and collection partners, including municipalities and retailers. Currently, Call2Recycle is the approved battery stewardship program in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec, but it supports the process across Canada. In 2017, 2.6 million kilograms of batteries were collected, similar to collections in previous years. The company says more than 86 per cent of residents in Canada and the U.S. live within 15 kilometres of one of Call2Recycle's public drop-off locations.

Bona Makes Changes

Jeremiah Strong is territory manager with Bona US. He has 23 years of experience in the hardwood flooring industry. Benjamin Nida is adhesive specialist (northeast). Previously, he was an account executive for a commercial flooring subcontractor. Bill Erban is adhesive specialist (midwest). He brings more than 30 years of experience in the floor covering industry working in retail, distribution, and manufacturing.

Triple Digit Earnings Growth For Grainger

Grainger had sales of $2.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of seven per cent over sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Net earnings were $151 million for the quarter, an increase of 149 per cent compared to net earnings of $61 million in the same period a year ago. Operating earnings were $240 million, up 38 per cent, driven by higher sales and gross profit dollars along with lower restructuring costs. Gross profit margin for the quarter decreased 1.3 per cent year over year. Sales in both the U.S. segment and Canada segment (Acklands-Grainger) were up five per cent versus the prior year. The U.S. segment had an operating earnings increase of 16 per cent, while the Canada segment had an operating loss of $17 million compared to a loss of $10 million a year ago.

January 26, 2018

Building Material Sales Strong In November

Retail sales increased for the third consecutive month in November, rising 0.2 per cent to $50.1 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in six of 11 subsectors, representing 37 per cent of total retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.3 per cent. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers had sales of $3.2 billion, an increase of 12.2 per cent year over year. Retail sales were up in five provinces in November, led by Quebec with an increase of 0.9 per cent, and followed by Ontario (0.3 per cent). After three consecutive months of growth, sales in Newfoundland and Labrador declined 3.2 per cent, largely attributable to lower sales at new car dealers. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.8 billion in November, accounting for 3.5 per cent of total retail trade ‒ their highest proportion of total retail sales in 2017. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 25.5 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 7.4 per cent.

Deckorators Launches Pro App

Deckorators, a Universal Forest Products, Inc. brand, has launched its ‘Pro on the Go’ mobile application for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. The app allows Deckorators’ certified professional contractors to reap the benefits of the certification program. With the app, contractors can submit deck project invoices, manage rewards points, and receive alerts on new products, events, and promotions. They can also update their profiles, access product information, and contact customer service. The app complements the revamped pro.deckorators.com website which now features a management page. The app is available for free from iTunes and Google Play.

Digital Shifts To Impact Customer Service

The customer service industry will experience the biggest digital shift yet in 2018 as customer experience (CX) brand leaders seek to expand channels, leverage analytics, adopt automation, and integrate the front office with back office operations. CX pioneers should prepare for a surge in the adoption of disrupter technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), digital self-service, and bot tools as well as the need to hire data scientists to improve business intelligence and better enable consumers to get the right answer fast. Lauren Kindzierski, vice-president, solutions and capabilities at HGS, covers some of the top customer experience trends in the article ‘The Top 10 Customer Experience Trends In 2018,’ available at the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Companies Invest In Forest Sector Bio-chemical Pilot Project

FPInnovations and Resolute Forest Products have made an investment in the implementation of a TMP-Bio pilot project in Thunder Bay, ON. The project will focus on developing new ways to efficiently produce and commercialize innovative bio-chemicals derived from wood. The $21 million project is part of an initiative to renew and transform the forest products industry, building on investments made in 2012 by Resolute, the Ontario Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE), and Natural Resources Canada. TMP-Bio is a patented technology developed by FPInnovations. The development and availability in significant quantities of bio-sourced chemicals, such as the cellulosic sugars and high-quality H-lignin produced by the TMP-Bio process, are key steps in growing new market value for the forest products sector by connecting it to the bio-chemical supply chain.

Benchmark Aims To Find Merchandising Best Practices

Successful retailers that delivered the greatest year-over-year store sales growth have some key elements in common when it comes to the execution of their merchandising, finds the inaugural ‘Merchandising Execution Maturity Benchmark’ by merchandising software provider One Door. The benchmark provides a way for retailers to assess their merchandising practices and uncover areas where merchandising process transformation can have the most impact and identify behaviours and practices with the highest correlation to sales. The benchmark found that retail ‘winners’ use accurate digital models of exact store layouts and fixture locations when planning merchandising campaigns and recognize the link between merchandising execution and sales improvement and organize, train, operate, and incent employees accordingly. As well, successful retailers apply data to the entire merchandising process, from assortment planning to compliance measurement, and they communicate more frequently and encourage two-way store communication as a critical part of the merchandising process. They also employ digital tools to streamline and automate manual operations in all facets of merchandising execution.

Scott Heads Waterworks

Brian Scott is vice-president of the waterworks division of Wolseley Canada Inc. He joined the division more than three years ago and served, most recently, as general manager for Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Kelly Martin is chief financial officer. She has more than 25 years of finance experience. Yves Bélanger is vice-president, supply chain. He has over 25 years of experience; most recently with Weston Foods where he was vice-president, North American supply chain.

Sales Up For Stanley B&D

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 17 per cent over net sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 36.6 per cent; excluding charges, the gross margin rate was 36.7 per cent compared to 36.9 per cent in the year-ago period. The tools and storage segment net sales increased 26 per cent year over year, while the segment profit rate, excluding charges, was up 50 basis points. Industrial net sales increased four per cent year over year and profit rate increased 80 basis points. Security net sales decreased four per cent year over year, while profit rate had a decline of about 90 basis points, related to the sale of the mechanical security business.

January 25, 2018

Consumer Spending Growth Steady

Consumer spending increased by 4.14 per cent in 2017 over 2016, says Moneris Solutions Corporation. For the fourth quarter of 2017, credit and debit card usage was up over the fourth quarter of 2016. Contactless payment solutions remained a popular choice throughout the final quarter of the year, boasting a 45.75 per cent increase in volume and a 42.45 per cent increase in transactions compared with the last quarter of 2016. For the full year, international visitors to Canada spend increased 8.88 per cent in 2017 over 2016. Stability and consistency defined 2017 when it came to spending in Canada, says the company. While there are always variables when it comes to the economy on both the national and international front, Moneris foresees the year ahead to continue on this trend of modest, steady growth.

Affluent Consumers Shifting To Discount Retailers

Affluent consumers – those making more than $100,000 annually – are becoming more price sensitive as they embrace industry disruptors such as artificial intelligence (AI), Amazon, and mobile technology to compare prices, says a survey by technology company First Insight. The survey finds that 42 per cent of affluent shoppers now frequently shop at discount retailers versus only 27 per cent at full price retailers. Another 36 per cent say their discount shopping has increased. Twenty-one per cent of affluent respondents report they are more inclined to visit online discount retailers, compared to only 12 per cent of overall respondents. The survey shows a vast majority of affluent consumers (74 per cent) check Amazon for products and pricing before looking elsewhere, versus 60 per cent of overall consumers. This is likely driven by the affluent shopper’s view that product pricing online is better. Half of affluent respondents felt that prices of products in physical retail stores are increasing, while slightly less (46 per cent) felt online retail stores’ pricing was increasing.

Canada Files For Softwood Duties Panel Review

The government of Canada has filed requests for a panel review under NAFTA Chapter 19, following the U.S. International Trade Commission’s final determination of material injury on Canadian softwood lumber products. This notice is a necessary procedural step in the appeal process against U.S. decisions to impose duties on imports of softwood lumber from Canada. NAFTA Chapter 19’s dispute resolution mechanism means Canada can get a panel made up of American and Canadian trade experts to determine if the duties follow U.S. trade law, rather than going through the U.S. court system.

NAFTA Key Priority For Canada

Modernizing and updating NAFTA continues to be a key priority for the government of Canada. It says North America’s global competitiveness has been a dynamic driver of middle-class growth and economic activity. Facilitating trade and commerce with large markets, such as the U.S. and Mexico, is essential. On January 22, François-Philippe Champagne, minister of international trade; joined Dominique Anglade, Quebec’s minister of the economy, science, and innovation; at a Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal for a NAFTA round table to discuss the issues. As part of these effort to promote NAFTA, Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change, is visiting Mexico City, Houston, TX, and Miami, FL, to meet with government leaders, climate scientists, and businesses to promote trade, jobs, climate solutions, and clean technology.

Constellation To Purchase Acceo

Constellation Software Inc., through its wholly-owned subsidiary N. Harris Computer, plans to acquire Acceo Solutions Inc. Acceo provides management, accounting, and payment solutions, consulting, and support for eBusiness to small and medium businesses, hardware and building centres, retailers, and more. The acquisition is part of Constellation’s use of leveraged capital structures to compete more effectively for larger vertical market software businesses.

Liteline Makes Changes

Steve McMullen is regional sales manager – Ontario and western Canada with Liteline Corporation. He joined the company in 2016 as regional sales manager for Ontario. Evan Sadofsky is inside sales manager. Previously, he was with Alico Industries.

Steady Sales For Whirlpool

Whirlpool Corporation had net sales of $5.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of one per cent compared to net sales for the fourth quarter of 2016. Operating profit was $267 million, or 4.7 per cent of sales; this compares to $341 million, or six per cent of sales in the same prior-year period. Fourth-quarter ongoing operating profit was $392 million, or 6.9 per cent of sales, compared to $431 million, or 7.6 per cent of sales, a year ago. The company had a net loss of $268 million for the quarter, compared to net earnings of $180 a year ago. Sales in North America decreased 0.8 per cent year over year.

January 24, 2018

Wholesale Sales Rise

Wholesale sales rose 0.7 per cent to $63.6 billion in November, a second consecutive increase, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in six of seven subsectors, representing 99 per cent of wholesale sales. The food, beverage, and tobacco subsector and the motor vehicle and parts subsector led the gains. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.5 per cent. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector rose 0.6 per cent to $9 billion, its third consecutive increase. Sales in Ontario rose 1.7 per cent to $32.9 billion in November. Sales were up in three of seven subsectors, led by the building material and supplies subsector (eight per cent). Sales in this subsector rose for the second time in three months, up 9.3 per cent over the period. Sales in Quebec and British Columbia were both down in November, primarily on lower sales in the building material and supplies subsector. Wholesale inventories were down 1.2 per cent to $81.1 billion in November, the first decline in eight months. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.3 in October to 1.28 in November.

Two Quebec Retailers Join Ace Canada

Two Gaspé Peninsula, QC, businesses now display the Ace banner. Quincaillerie B.L. (Mont-Louis) and Centre de rénovation Port-Daniel now offer an enhanced selection of products both instore and on the Ace website. David and Louis Lemieux, the owners of Quincaillerie B.L. (Mont-Louis), founded the family business 35 years ago. Richard Brand opened Centre de rénovation Port-Daniel nearly 10 years ago. These owners wanted more flexibility and diversity as well as access to technology which provides more options to the people of the region.

KM Agency Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Manufacturers’ agency KM Agency Ltd. is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Atlantic Canada-based company was created in 1968 by Ray Keating and Earle McCutcheon and has evolved into a second-generation business, currently managed by Peter Merrill, son-in-law of McCutcheon, and Tim Smith, son of retired partner and past president, Sid Smith. Repeat Merchandising Services Inc., which provides in-store servicing for KM Agency, is a wholly-owned subsidiary and has representatives located throughout the Atlantic region. It celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. KM Agency says it has been fortunate to be able to work with some of the leading manufacturers in the home improvement industry. The support of these manufacturers, and the support of a loyal and growing customer base, has been integral in allowing it to flourish for 50 years.

Construction, Retail Sectors Lead Business Investment

The ‘PayNet Canadian Small Business Lending Index’ (CSBLI) increased one per cent from 115.3 in October to 116.9 in November. Compared to the same month last year, the index is down one per cent. Year-over-year, the strongest individual sectors were construction (17 per cent), retail (13 per cent), and transportation (27 per cent). While the consumer outlook remains solid heading into 2018, the expectation of a slowdown in housing starts in part due to the introduction of stricter mortgage underwriting standards in 2018, calls into question the sustainability of continued originations growth from the construction sector. Regionally, conditions in most provinces and regions remain in a good position heading into 2018. The ‘PayNet Canadian Small Business Delinquency Index’ (CSBDI) showed that financial health continues to improve for Canadian small businesses as loans 30 days past due decreased again from 0.88 per cent in October to 0.86 per cent in November. Compared to November 2016, delinquency decreased from 1.05 per cent, marking the eighth consecutive year-over-year decrease after 25 months of year-over-year increases.

Jacobsen Has New Role

Kevin Jacobsen will be senior vice-president – chief financial officer and a member of the executive management committee at the Clorox Company, effective April 1. He has been with the company since 1995.

Sales Up Eight Per Cent For PPG

PPG had net sales of approximately $3.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of nearly eight per cent compared to net sales for the fourth quarter of 2016. Sales volumes increased by three per cent year over year. Net income from continuing operations was $184 million, while adjusted net income was $304 million. Net income from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $91 million, while adjusted net income was $306 million. The performance coatings segment net sales for the quarter were up more than seven per cent over the prior year period. Architectural coatings – Americas and Asia Pacific sales volumes advanced a low single-digit percentage year over year. Industrial coatings net sales increased more than eight per cent.

Products And Ideas Featured At NHS

The Outdoor Living Feature, the UNILOCK Celebrity Stage, Ask The Garden Expert, and Best Buy Smart Home are just some of the features that will be at the National Home Show (NHS). This year, the NHS is again co-located with Canada Blooms and will display innovative products and new ideas for everything home and garden. It takes place March 9 to 18 at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto ON. For more information, visit nationalhomeshow.com

January 23, 2018

New House Construction Rises

New housing construction investment rose 7.9 per cent from November 2016 to $5 billion in November, mostly attributable to increased construction investment in apartment buildings ($282.1 million), says Statistics Canada. For the first time since September 2011, every province reported higher spending on apartment building construction. Quebec led the way with a year-over-year increase of $165.3 million. Nationally, investment in new housing construction grew year over year in November for every type of housing except single-family houses where investment fell by $86 million (3.5 per cent). The decline was mainly attributable to lower spending on single-family house construction in Ontario and Quebec. Alberta stood out with a $77 million increase in single-family house construction, accounting for nearly three-quarters (73.1 per cent) of the total increase in spending on new house construction in the province. New housing construction investment increased for all types of housing in four provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island.

Consumers Moving Fluidly Between Channels

A new retail model is taking shape ‒ one in which stores function as the fulfillment centres for their digital counterparts and shoppers move fluidly between channels as they research, browse, and buy, says research by Foresee. Its ‘Retail CX Insights’ shows 25 per cent of shoppers that start in store check-out a digital channel during their buyer journey, while 35 per cent that start in a digital channel go to a store during their purchase process. The findings also suggest that the race to the bottom (on price) may be over and that competing on customer experience is paramount for retailers. Only six per cent of shoppers selected an item primarily because of price versus retailer preference. Nearly 45 per cent of buyers across channels say their most recent purchase was driven mostly by retailer preference and more than 75 per cent say they shop at a preferred set of retailers, regardless of price. Overall environment and experience and findability rank as top priorities for both instore and digital purchasers.

Renoworks Begins Technology Build

Renoworks Software Inc. has started a technology build to develop predictive design intelligence called Design Engine. The company has completed a comprehensive assessment of opportunities for artificial intelligence (AI)/deep learning applications based on impact and viability. It has a development team in place to provide the knowledge and tools required to develop and introduce these new platforms into its technology stack. The technology should assist and simplify the process for homeowners and contractors to visualize remodels and new home construction projects. Once deployed, it could rapidly provide more options and insights for enterprise, contractors, and homeowners by collecting data surrounding design and purchase behaviour, specific brand interactions, and affinity to certain manufacturer product.

NADRA Gets New President

Matt Bryer, of Breyer Construction & Landscape, LLC, is president of the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). Heath Bowman, of Southeastern Underdeck Systems, LLC & Haven, is vice-president, and Bruce Verblaauw, of C. Verblaauw and Sons, LLC, is treasurer.

January 22, 2018

Manufacturing Sales At Record High

Manufacturing sales rose 3.4 per cent to a record high $55.5 billion in November, mainly due to higher sales in the transportation equipment, petroleum and coal product, and chemical industries, says Statistics Canada. Overall, 12 of 21 industries, representing 81 per cent of the manufacturing sector, posted increases in November. Sales were up in nine provinces in November, with most of the gain in Ontario. Following two consecutive months of declines, sales in Ontario increased 5.8 per cent in November to $25.4 billion. The lone provincial decrease was in Manitoba, where sales were down one per cent to $1.5 billion. This was the second consecutive monthly decline and was largely due to lower sales of durable goods. However, sales for January to November were 4.9 per cent higher compared with the same period in 2016. Inventory levels rose for the second consecutive month, up 0.9 per cent to $75.4 billion in November. Inventories were up in 12 of 21 industries, led by the transportation equipment (1.6 per cent) and petroleum and coal product (4.4 per cent) industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio fell from 1.39 in October to 1.36 in November because the increase in sales was much larger than the increase of the inventories. Unfilled orders declined 0.9 per cent to $86.4 billion in November. New orders fell 1.8 per cent to $54.7 billion in November, following a 5.2 per cent gain the previous month.

Increased Renovations Forecast For U.S.

The coming year is expected to be another robust one for U.S. residential renovations and repairs with growth accelerating as the year progresses, says the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that homeowner spending on improvements and repairs will approach $340 billion in 2018, an increase of 7.5 per cent from estimated 2017 spending. “Steady gains in the broader economy, and in home sales and prices, are supporting growing demand for home improvements,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the centre. “We expect the remodeling market will also get a boost this year from ongoing restoration efforts in many areas of the country impacted by last year's record-setting natural disasters.” The centre says that despite continuing challenges of low for-sale housing inventories and contractor labour availability, 2018 could post the strongest gains for home remodeling in more than a decade. Annual growth rates have not exceeded 6.8 per cent since early 2007, before the Great Recession hit.

Integration Key To Successful Marketing

The benefits of a well-integrated and customized ad campaign are substantial, boosting campaign effectiveness by 57 per cent, yet fewer than half of all campaigns utilize these benefits, finds an AdReaction study by Kantar Millward Brown. What's more, marketers and consumers have different views on whether campaigns successfully fit together. Most marketers (89 per cent) believe their campaign strategies are integrated, but just over half (58 per cent) of consumers agree. To resolve this disconnect, Kantar Millward Brown suggests integrating more campaign cues, starting with a strong campaign idea, invest only in channels that have a clear role in the campaign, and customize the content for each channel. The firm says as media channels continue to fragment and evolve, smart marketers will see the opportunities to connect with consumers in new, meaningful ways.

Cioffi To Manage Lowe’s Canada Affiliate Dealers

Tony Cioffi, senior vice-president and chief financial officer at Lowe’s Canada, is now responsible for the affiliate dealers. He joined Lowe’s Canada in 2016.

January 19, 2018

Non-residential Building Construction Continues Rise

Investment in non-residential building construction totaled $13.7 billion in the fourth quarter, up 1.6 per cent over the previous quarter, marking a third consecutive quarterly increase, says Statistics Canada. Nationally, gains were reported for all three components (institutional, industrial, and commercial), led by spending on institutional building construction, up $117.2 million to $3.9 billion. Provincially, increases were posted in five provinces in the fourth quarter, with Ontario reporting the largest increase. In Alberta, total investment in non-residential construction was at its lowest level since the third quarter of 2013.

U.S. Builder Sentiment Slides

U.S. homebuilders are taking a step back from their tax cut euphoria and starting the year on a slightly less sanguine note. Builder sentiment fell two points to 72 in January, says the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in its housing market index. The downward move comes after the measurement hit an 18-year high in December, following the passage of the Republican tax cut plan. Any reading above 50 is considered positive sentiment. The index stood at 67 in January 2017. Building material price increases and shortages of labour and lots were ranked as the top problems faced by builders in 2017 and the vast majority of them expect both to get worse in 2018. Of the sentiment index's three components, current sales conditions dropped one point to 79, sales expectations in the next six months fell one point to 78, and buyer traffic fell four points to 54. The HMI gauge of future sales expectations has remained in the 70s, a sign that housing demand should continue to grow in 2018.

Lowe’s Opens Alberta Store

Lowe’s Canada opened its 62nd store under the Lowe’s banner in Canada. Located in Red Deer, AB, the store offers 86,300 square feet of retail space with an adjacent 17,300-square-foot garden centre. It will offer an extensive assortment of appliances, a year-round selection of barbecues, seasonal products for patio and holidays, a variety of snow blowers and other outdoor power equipment, and a broad selection of fashion plumbing. It will also feature home and outdoor décor, organization products, building materials, and power and hand tools.

Maersk, IBM To Create Blockchain Supply Chain

Maersk and IBM will establish a joint venture to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology. The aim of the company will be to offer a jointly developed global trade digitization platform built on open standards and designed for use by the entire global shipping ecosystem. It is intended to address the need to provide more transparency and simplicity in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones. The cost and size of the world's trading ecosystems continues to grow in complexity. More than 80 per cent of the goods consumers use daily are carried by the ocean shipping industry. The maximum cost of the required trade documentation to process and administer many of these goods is estimated to reach one-fifth of the actual physical transportation costs. By reducing barriers within the international supply chain, global trade could increase by nearly 15 per cent, boosting economies and creating jobs.

ESL Provider To Employ AR

Electronic shelf label (ESL) provider Displaydata has partnered with location services platform Aisle411. Aisle411’s platform allows retailers to develop searchable store maps to help customers better navigate through stores. A mobile app will utilize item search along with other personalized augmented reality (AR) features. Users can search for a product by general term, specific brand name, or product UPC. Once they find the product on the app, they can tap it and begin navigation via a top-down view of the store. Once the customer arrives in front of a product, the Displaydata ESLs can deliver real-time promotional or product information. The AR can also help shoppers discover promotional or product information strategically placed throughout the store, based on the customer’s shopping habits or preferences.

McKenna Promoted At Walmart

Judith McKenna will be president and chief executive officer of Walmart International, effective February 1. This is the company’s second largest operating segment and includes Canada. She has been with the company since 1996.

January 18, 2018

Moderate Growth Projected For Retailers

Retail markets in North America and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) are projected to each grow approximately three per cent over the next five years to $5.5 trillion and $6.07 trillion in sales respectively, says a study by Zebra Technologies Corporation. The study, conducted with IHL Group, projects eCommerce to eclipse $1.5 trillion by 2021. As well, 2017 saw more retail store openings than closures and openings are expected to continue to outpace closures through 2021. Technology spending among retailers should also rise approximately three per cent over the next three years as retailers continue to evolve their operations to support unified commerce and provide a modern, engaging customer experience. Among North American retailers expecting growth of more than five per cent, 60 per cent say faster sales growth as a key driver for changes in store operations while 52 per cent cite the shift in sales to online purchases. Interestingly, 52 per cent identified same-day delivery as a key warehouse operations driver and consumer demand is encouraging retailers to improve the instore returns process and enhance their fulfillment and delivery strategies.

Quebec Sees Record Annual Residential Sales

Residential sales last year in Quebec have finally surpassed the sales record that was registered in 2007, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). There were 82,639 residential sales concluded in 2017, a six per cent increase compared to 2016. This was the third consecutive annual increase in sales and surpasses the record 80,647 transactions that was registered in 2007. Condominium sales stood out for the year with a 15 per cent increase year over year. Sales of single-family homes and plexes posted more modest gains of three per cent and four per cent, respectively. Among the metropolitan areas, Montréal and Gatineau stood out with respective sales increases of eight per cent and six per cent.

Checkpoint Launches Underfloor Inventory Management

Checkpoint Systems, a supplier of electronic article surveillance (EAS) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions for the retail industry, has launched an underfloor RFID antenna called UF-1. The system uses traditional EAS antennas, but with patented RFID reader technology, providing a large read range with the benefit of harnessing the power of RFID data to improve inventory management within an invisible solution. UF-1 is suited to a wide array of projects, from those wanting aesthetically pleasing, open entrances to malls that restrict the use of traditional EAS antennas across their openings and retailers that need wide, obstruction free store doorways. The underfloor RFID-enabled solution can identify the direction of a tag passing over the antenna, whether into the store, out of the store, or along the door. It is also able to determine if an item is simply located nearby the exit or potentially being stolen – minimizing false alarms.

Royal Releases 2018 Colour Palette

The colour combinations of brownstone, heritage blue, Harvard slate, weathered grey, storm, and sterling represent Royal Building Products’ ‘2018 Exterior Colour Palette of the Year.’ The palette takes cues from the continued trend of deeper, richer colours dominating the exterior design space across Canada and the U.S., says the company. The popularity of the colour blue among homeowners also played a role in the selection of the palette. “We continue to see homeowners gravitating towards darker, bold colours and then mixing in neutrals when it comes to their exterior design choices,” says Kriss Swint, director of interactive strategy and design, Royal Building Products. “Blues are still dominating the colour space while cooler tones, such as brown and grey, are gaining more popularity as well.”

Mobile Technology Provides Opportunities Despite Challenges

Retailers deploying instore mobile effectively are projected to have an increase of as much as 146 per cent in sales growth, says research by Stratix and IHL Group. Stratix says these increases may be attributed to the personalized experience of shoppers interacting with an instore association through mobile devices. Moreover, sales associates can complete the purchase during the point of conversation as customers shop, offering the opportunity for associates to upsell and cross-sell merchandise. And, while using instore mobile resulted in monumental opportunities for some retailers, the survey also reveals many other retailers face significant challenges implementing this technology. Challenges include not having proper applications, lack of training and support, lack of acceptable payment options, and the complexities of mobile security. Stratix says that embracing a third-party service to manage, support, and deploy mobile devices would be a beneficial investment.

Strong Sales For Fastenal

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,088.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, a 14.8 per cent increase over net sales of $947.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. The acquisition of Manufacturers Supply Company increased sales growth by 1.4 percentage points. Fastener products represented 35 per cent of sales for the quarter. Gross profit, as a percentage of net sales, decreased 97 basis points to 48.8 per cent in the quarter, from 49.8 per cent in the year-ago period. Operating income, as a percentage of net sales, declined 57 basis points to 18.7 per cent from 19.3 per cent a year ago. Net earnings were $152.4 million for the fourth quarter, up 32.8 per cent from net earnings of $114.8 million in 2016.

January 17, 2018

Economic Growth Fuels Business Confidence

Higher than expected economic growth in 2017 will fuel Canadian business confidence in 2018, leading to a jump in planned investments by small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), says a study by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). The study finds SMEs plan to make $140.5 billion in investments this year, a three per cent increase over 2017, mainly to support their growth. The upswing is due largely to a surge in business acquisition plans, a long-expected trend driven by Canada’s aging population and the retirement of baby boomer entrepreneurs. Business owners expect to spend 79 per cent more on acquiring other businesses in 2018, or $18.9 billion, up from $10.6 billion in 2017. The study also shows a shift in investments with more spend on human capital and less on brick and mortar. The lack of qualified personnel is the leading obstacle to making investments, with chronic labour shortages especially pronounced in rural Quebec and Nova Scotia. Spending on research and development (R&D) and employee training will rise by a total of $2.4 billion this year, reflecting a long-term shift in the way Canadian businesses invest.

Castle Gets Saskatchewan Member

Saskatoon, SK-based LKQ Building Supply has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Owner Ken Spetz has been in the construction industry for more than 30 years specializing in finishing and restoration products and services. He says that when he decided to go into retail, he wanted a buying group with a multitude of options to grow his business based on his own unique needs and market. The new retail location will operate as a specialty supply store for local contractors.

Atlantic Provinces Lead Non-residential Building Construction

Total investment in non-residential building construction in Canada increased 1.2 per cent in 2017 compared with 2016, says Statistics Canada. Spending on both institutional building construction ($380 million or 2.6 per cent) and industrial building construction ($257.5 million or 3.5 per cent) were the drivers behind the total annual increase. Total investment in commercial construction was unchanged from 2016 to 2017. Among the Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick reported a total increase in spending in non-residential construction of $195.4 million, up 27.5 per cent compared with 2016. In western Canada, Manitoba was the lone province to post an increase in the total investment in non-residential construction, up 8.1 per cent or $140.9 million in 2017, led by higher investment in commercial building construction.

Fiberglass Insulation Demand To Remain Steady

Demand for fiberglass insulation is forecast to advance 2.9 per cent per annum to $4.4 billion pounds in 2021, says the Freedonia Group. Fiberglass is projected to remain the most widely used insulation material due to favourable characteristics such as installation and handling advantages over other insulation materials. It also provides high R-values and superior resistance to mould, moisture, and insect damage. Residential buildings are projected to be the fastest growing market and maintain the largest share of demand through 2021. Demand in the residential market will continue to benefit from the efforts of homeowners to increase energy efficiency.

Strong Residential Sales In Montreal

A total of 44,448 residential sales were concluded in 2017 in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), an increase of eight per cent compared to sales in 2016, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the third consecutive annual increase in sales. All property categories registered an increase in sales in 2017. Condominiums clearly stood out as sales of this property category jumped by 17 per cent. Sales of plexes increased by six per cent and sales of single-family homes rose by three per cent. All six main areas of the Montréal CMA saw sales growth in 2017 with Vaudreuil-Soulanges (13 per cent), the Island of Montréal (11 per cent), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (nine per cent), Laval (six per cent), the South Shore (five per cent), and the North Shore (four per cent). As well, 2017 was a good year for luxury properties, as sales of single-family homes at $1 million or more increased by 20 per cent and sales of condominiums at $500,000 or more rose by 42 per cent.

Spectrum To Sell Battery Business To Energizer

As part of its strategy to focus on consumer brands, Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. will sell its global battery and lighting business to Energizer Holdings, Inc. The company will use the net proceeds to reduce debt and reinvest in its core businesses. “Through this transaction, we are making progress towards repositioning ourselves with an increased focus on our remaining businesses of hardware and home improvement (HHI), global auto care and pet, and home and garden,” says Andreas Rouvé, chief executive officer of Spectrum. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.

January 16, 2018

December Home Sales Surge

National home sales rose 4.5 per cent from November to December, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), with actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity up 4.1 per cent year over year. The number of newly-listed homes climbed 3.3 per cent from November to December while the MLS Home Price Index in December was up 9.1 per cent over December 2016. As well, the national average sale price advanced by 5.7 per cent over last year. The increase in home sales via the MLS Systems was the fifth consecutive monthly increase, fully recovering from the slump last summer, says CREA. Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with its long-term average, more than two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory in December 2017, with 4.5 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of December 2017. The measure has been moving steadily lower in tandem with the monthly rise in sales that began last summer.

Pro Show Designed For Contractors

Home Hardware Stores Limited welcomed contractors, renovators, builders, and tradespeople from across the Kawarthas region in central Ontario to its Annual ‘PRO Show’ Monday in Peterborough. It expected more than 800 contractors to brave the wintery weather and take in the 65+ hardware and building material suppliers featured at the show. Contractors in attendance also participated in ‘Contractor Skills Competitions’ which included a driver drill competition, a golf challenge, a strong arm competition, and a basketball toss. There were also seminars on engineered wood systems, composite decking, rigid continuous insulation and spray foam for air sealing and the building code, and synthetic roof underlay. “The shows are one of the many ways in which Home Hardware Building Centre and Home Building Centre locations help home builders, renovators, and tradespeople see new products. These shows allow us to show our appreciation to the professional contractors and reinforce the many ways in which we work to be the building centre of choice for both contractors and homeowners,” says Alec Thompson, contractor communications marketing manager at Home Hardware Stores Limited

Digitization Top Trend For Retailers

Becoming a digital organization is the number one trend for the retail and consumer services industry, finds a survey by CGI. Its ‘2017 CGI Client Global Insights’ also shows that improving the customer experience is the top business priority, with digital technologies as important as the instore physical experience. CGI says that in order to drive competitive advantage, retailers need to focus on customer-centric programs that integrate digital and physical channels as well as data analytics to deliver a precise, informed, and seamless retail experience in real time. Retailers should also focus on optimizing operations and IT modernization to improve time to market and the overall customer experience. CGI has launched its Retail Xp360 platform that enables retail and consumer services organizations to deliver a real-time customer experience across all channels, while accelerating their digital transformation. The platform is designed to meet the increasing demand for more products, services, and information delivered instantly in an omni-channel and personalized manner.

Orgill Picks District Manager For Western Canada

Colin Carey is district manager for western Canada with Orgill, Inc. Previously, he served as a sales representative in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. As district manager, he will be supporting Orgill customers throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

January 15, 2018

Resolute Forest Products Praises Canada's WTO Filing

Resolute Forest Products Inc. is praising the government of Canada’s filing at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Canada launched a wide-ranging complaint against the United States, challenging a host of measures inconsistent with its WTO obligations. Resolute applauds the Canadian action, standing up for Canadian jobs and families, the company's customers and business partners in the United States, and the international rule of law. “Resolute has been a victim of this pattern of behaviour by the U.S. Department of Commerce. We are repeatedly confronting the same discredited protectionist policies when we fairly sell paper and lumber to American consumers who need and want these products,” says Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer. “Many more jobs are at risk in the U.S. when there is not enough lumber to build houses or paper to print newspapers and books. Unfortunately, it is American consumers who pay the price of unfair duties. Canada is rightly emphasizing the U.S. is a continental partner and free trade between the two nations is in the best interests of both countries and their shared economic prosperity.”

Watson Gloves Celebrates 100 Years

Watson Gloves is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The company started as a two-man storefront operation in 1918 and is now one of Canada’s largest distributors of gloves. John Watson and Wayne Stanley started the business selling handcrafted gloves to Vancouver's dock workers and today the company is selling products internationally with more than 2,000 styles for applications such as construction, gardening, motorcycling, and more. The company has locations in Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; and Mississauga, ON; and sells its products at retailers across Canada and at select retailers in the U.S. and internationally.

ROCKWOOL Rebrand Official

ROXUL is now ROCKWOOL in North America. Effective January 1, the company officially adopted the name of its global parent company, ROCKWOOL. The rebrand applies to all segments and product lines of the company's North American stone wool insulation business ‒ residential, commercial, roofing, OEM (core solutions), and technical insulation (industrial, marine, and offshore). North American customers and consumers will see the ROCKWOOL rebrand supported throughout 2018 with increased presence, promotional efforts, and communications. At retail home improvement and building centres, DIY consumers, builders, and contractors will find a familiar look to the wrapping on ROCKWOOL COMFORTBATT, SAFE 'n' SOUND, and COMFORTBOARD products. The primary difference will be the new ROCKWOOL logo which includes a graphic representation of a volcano.

Whirlpool Expands Smart Appliance Capabilities

Whirlpool Corporation will expand its smart home appliance ecosystem this year through a collaboration with both Honeywell and Apple Watch. Consumers will now be able to connect smart appliances from Whirlpool Corporation to Honeywell's line of connected thermostats, allowing for remote management of their appliance operating modes and energy outputs. As well, connected appliances from Whirlpool will allow consumers to remotely communicate with ovens, washers, and dryers via Apple Watch. Both capabilities will roll out across brands in the Whirlpool portfolio throughout 2018.

January 12, 2018

Softwood Duties Could Cost U.S. Jobs

The U.S. administration’s duties on softwood lumber may end up doing more harm than good to the U.S. economy, says an economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Stephen Melman, director, economic services, says while the duties are intended to preserve jobs at U.S. lumber producers, they will cost more jobs in the U.S. home building industry. The problems with getting softwood lumber have increased the construction cost of a new American home by $1,300, says Melman. “That $1,300 translates into an affordability issue because for every $1,000 increase in the price of a medium-priced home, about 150,000 American households are priced out of homeownership. That is a real problem that affects affordability and jobs because every new home that is built generates three full-time jobs over the course of a year. Take that away and you’ve lost those jobs.” See the interview at Job Losses

Quebec Specialty Store Joins Castle

Murexpair Inc. has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. The Sherbrooke, QC-based retailer has been serving the local community for 17 years. Owner Jonathan Sirois and partner Bruno Langlois wanted to grow their business by having access to additional products, but didn’t want to lose their independence or compromise the core of their business, so they chose Castle. As part of the group, the specialty store will now offer a wider range of steel roofing, siding, decking products, and commercial designer steel siding.

Condominiums Lead Montreal Residential Sales

A total of 2,781 residential sales were made in the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in December, a 10 per cent increase compared to December 2016, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the most active month of December since 2009. Four of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered increases. Laval, the Island of Montreal, and the South Shore had strong sales at 20, 15, and 15 per cent respectively. The area of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu posted a more timid increase of five per cent. The North Shore and Vaudreuil-Soulanges registered a decrease in sales of four per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Condominium sales jumped by 35 per cent, while plexes increased by five per cent and single-family homes fell slightly by one per cent.

Dodge Momentum Index Ends Year On High Note

The ‘Dodge Momentum Index’ grew 3.6 per cent in December to 153.9 from the revised November reading of 148.6. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings in the U.S. by a full year. December’s increase was due to an 8.6 per cent jump in the institutional component of the index, while the commercial component eked out a 0.7 per cent gain. For the full year 2017, the index averaged 132.3, up 10.7 per cent from the full year average for 2016, with similar improvement for the commercial sector (up 11.4 per cent) and the institutional sector (up 9.7 per cent). After retreating during the third quarter of 2017, the index regained its upward track in the fourth quarter, which enabled December’s reading to be up 20.9 per cent compared to the same month a year ago. The continued strengthening suggests that non-residential building construction activity will advance further during 2018.

Masco Makes Acquisitions

Masco Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire the L.D. Kichler Co., a developer of decorative residential and light commercial lighting products, ceiling fans, and LED lighting systems across both consumer and professional distribution channels. The acquisition will expand Masco’s reach into the residential lighting industry and complement its current product offering. Kichler will become part of the company’s decorative architectural products segment. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018. Masco also acquired Mercury Plastics, Inc., a manufacturer of water handling systems for appliance and faucet applications and other plumbing products. This company is now part of Masco’s plumbing products segment.

January 11, 2018

Building Permits Values Decline

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities declined 7.7 per cent to $7.7 billion in November, the first decrease in three months, says Statistics Canada. Nationally, the value of permits for all building components declined, with the exception of single-family dwellings. The value of building permits for non-residential structures fell 12.3 per cent to $2.9 billion in November, following two monthly increases. As of November, Canadian municipalities had issued over $100 million more in building permits in 2017 compared to the 2016 total, led by higher construction intentions for universities, hospitals, and manufacturing plants. The value of permits for single-family dwellings remained at $2.6 billion in November. After falling from a peak of $2.9 billion in October 2016, the value of permits for single-family dwellings remained steady at approximately $2.6 billion throughout 2017. Ontario led the gains, but they were offset by slight declines in Alberta and Quebec.

Report Offers Ways To Improve Return Policies

There is a way for retailers to ‘win’ the battle for returns policy approval without losing out on revenue, says Promocodes.com. It its report, ‘(Re)turning Point,’ it suggests a few ways to keep shoppers honest while also providing convenience that leads consumers to visit stores year-round. Firstly, it recommends retailers create a rewards program and encourage frequent shoppers (or frequent receipt-misplacers) to join. Include purchase history in the database so members can return even if they do not have the paper receipt. Another idea is to expand the return timeframe. Consumers don’t like the idea of a gift recipient being stuck with an item due to a bad return policy. This can prevent congestion in customer service lines, especially during peak periods like Christmas. As well, the report suggests to not saddle customers with store credit. The short-term impact on a retailer’s bottom line may be great, but long term it will cost them business. Make it easy for customers to return an item by providing free return shipping or, at the very least, the option to return any item purchased online in store.

Canadian Tire To Take Over Sears DC

CT REIT has entered into a 10-year lease with Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) for the Sears distribution centre (DC) lease in Calgary, AB. The DC is comprised of two adjacent properties – a 625,000-square-foot DC and a 30,000-square-foot building ‒ on six acres of land building. CTC currently leases a different building in Calgary and will move existing operations to the new building in May.

CPG Changes Name To AZEK

CPG International LLC has changed its name to the AZEK Company to reflect its growing share of the expanding residential and commercial building products market. The rebranding is part of the organization's strategy to expand its pipeline in the wood deck and railing markets by offering premium and diversified products. The company growth includes expanding its footprint with regional sales associates across Canada and the U.S. The company puts a strong focus on reusing recycled plastics and turning them into residential and commercial building products that outlast wood and other raw materials. It has three divisions – AZEK Building Products, Scranton Products, and Vycom.

Home Hardware Pro Show Comes To Peterborough

Home Hardware Stores Limited will welcome contractors, renovators, builders, and tradespeople at its ‘Annual PRO Show’ at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on January 15. The series stops in six cities across Canada, providing attendees the opportunity to network with peers, learn about new products and trends, meet industry experts, and receive hands-on demonstrations. Attendance is by invitation only.

January 10, 2018

December Housing Starts Trend Stable

The trend in housing starts was 226,777 units in December 2017, compared to 226,178 units in November 2017, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Despite the variation in activity across the country, the national trend in housing starts held steady at its highest level since 2008 while total urban housing starts in 2017 were up 6.2 per cent compared to 2016 due to the rise in apartment construction. Total housing starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) increased in December 2017 compared to the previous month after posting one of the highest levels of monthly multi-family starts for the year. Total starts in the Ottawa, ON, CMA were at their highest level since 2009 for the month of December, driven mainly by purpose-built rental apartment starts. In the Toronto, ON, CMA, the pace of new home construction remained virtually unchanged in 2017. Close to 39,000 homes broke ground this year, down 0.7 per cent from 2016. The Montreal, QC, CMA ended the year with 24,756 housing starts ‒ a high level compared to recent years.

Quebec Chain Adopts RONA Banner

Quebec-based Marcil Stores will be converted to the RONA banner at the end of February. Seventeen stores in all will convert to the Lowe’s Canada ‘proximity store’ banner. “We are committed to RONA and the proximity building centre model as one of Lowe’s Canada’s pillar of growth,” says Serge Éthier, executive vice-president of RONA Proximity. “RONA and Marcil operate in the same market segment, have complementary locations, and both serve a large client base of contractors and pros. It was, therefore, natural to combine the strengths of both banners.” The product selection at the stores will double to more than 40,000 SKUs in-store and on the RONA website. There will also be new product categories such as home appliances and a wide seasonal department.

Retailers Adopting QR Technology

Mobile QR code coupon redemptions are forecast to surge, surpassing 5.3 billion by 2022, says a study by Juniper Research. This is up from an estimated 1.3 billion in 2017, driven by QR reader integration on mobile devices. The lack of QR code reading facilities was originally the major barrier for use of QR codes in western markets. However, Juniper believes retailers are set to take advantage of an increasing receptive audience. It says U.S. retailer Target now has a QR code-based payments system to scan offers directly to a device-stored payment card, which can then be scanned at checkout for instant payment. The digitalization of offers along with other innovative technologies will likely double mobile-enabled loyalty cards as well.

Ministry Offers New ESA Poster

In light of the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) brought about by Bill 148, the ‘Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017,’ the Ministry of Labour has published a revised version of the ESA poster (Version 7.0) which is required to be posted by employers in a conspicuous place in the workplace. The poster summarizes certain standards under the ESA and directs readers to the ministry’s website for more information. Bill 148 did not change an employer’s statutory obligations regarding the poster, which require an employer to post the most recent copy of the poster in a conspicuous place and provide a poster to each employee. For more information or to print the poster, click here

Strong Sales For WD-40

WD-40 Company had net sales of $97.6 million for the first quarter of 2018, a nine per cent increase over net sales in the first quarter of 2017. On a constant currency basis, total net sales for the first quarter increased eight per cent year over year. Net income for the quarter was $12.6 million, an increase of seven per cent from the prior year fiscal quarter. Gross margin was 55.5 per cent compared to 57.2 per cent a year ago. The company’s flagship product, WD-40 Multi-Use grew 10 per cent year over year and the WD-40 Specialist product line grew 29 per cent. Net sales of maintenance products, which are considered the primary growth focus for the company, increased 11 per cent in the first quarter when compared to the prior year fiscal quarter. Net sales of homecare and cleaning products decreased five per cent.

January 9, 2018

Fulfillment Can Drive Conversions

Poor fulfillment costs retailers, while good fulfillment can drive conversions, says a report by Arvato. More than half (54 per cent) of U.S. shoppers say they have abandoned a purchase online because delivery was too expensive. This is not surprising with 83 per cent of shoppers indicating that free delivery was the most important factor when it comes to fulfillment of online orders, followed by speed of delivery (53 per cent), and free returns (52 per cent). Nearly a quarter of shoppers have cancelled an order because of slow delivery speeds, while another quarter say the product was out of stock with no indication of when it would be available, so they went on to shop at another retailer. Fifty-six per cent of shoppers already use the ‘buy online and pick-up instore’ (BOPIS) option and 11 per cent use the two-hour BOPIS options offered by retailers. Arvato says delivery isn't just about fulfillment, but an integral part of the decision-making process for the online shopper. Retailers that are not offering a fast, convenient, and, crucially, free delivery service are at risk of losing customers and business.

Castle Gets Western Member

Timber Spirit Supply in Spiritwood, SK, has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. The town of Spiritwood is located in central Saskatchewan, about 125 kilometres west of Prince Albert. Matt St. Onge founded the business just a few years ago with the goal of building trust with the local community as his guiding principle. He says he joined Castle because the group allows his business to maintain its independence and continue to serve his market with products that work. Timber Spirit Supply is a full-service lumber, building material, and hardware destination.

PPG To Acquire Dutch Paint Wholesaler

PPG plans to acquire ProCoatings, an architectural paint and coatings wholesaler located in The Netherlands. The company says the acquisition will strengthen its presence in this market where it has a deep and long history that dates back nearly 300 years.

Consumer Expectations Will Hurt Retailers

Changing consumer expectations and habits threaten to see even more Canadian retailers close in 2018, says Willy Kruh, global chairman, consumer and retail national leader, high growth markets Canada, with KPMG. “Retail is not in disruption, but is disrupted. Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly and many Canadian retailers are not keeping pace with the fact that consumers and their shopping habits are undergoing fundamental change.” He says the fundamental changes that are impacting domestic retailers have been somewhat masked by a robust economy and low interest rates. “With the economy expected to slow next year and interest rates already up twice this fall, consumers are going to be hard-pressed to keep on spending. Debt is at record levels and the Bank of Canada has made the cost of carrying that debt even higher. So as consumers feel the squeeze so will retailers ‒ especially those who need to do more to optimize the shopping experience.” Other “disrupting revolutions” that will impact retailers include the rise of the Millennial generation, technology, and population growth from immigration.

Spectrum Seeking Options For Businesses

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. is exploring strategic options for its Global Batteries & Appliances (GBA) businesses with the intention to sell the units during 2018. The idea is to redeploy capital from GBA assets to reposition as a faster-growing and higher-margin company with an increased focus on its four main businesses – hardware and home improvement, global auto care, global pet supplies, and home and garden.

January 8, 2018

Retail Sales Maintain Momentum

The positive momentum in retail sales just keeps on rolling, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total Canadian location-based retail sales increased 7.5 per cent for the three months ending October over the year-ago period. Year-to-date retail sales are seven per cent ahead of last year after 10 months of 2017 and the underlying 12-month trend is also up seven per cent. Building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers had a particularly good year, with year-to-date sales up 13.2 per cent. Overall eCommerce sales were up 35.5 per cent for the first 10 months of 2017 year over year, a much higher gain than for retail in general. Bricks-and-mortar location-based retailers that also sell online had an estimated $6.6 billion in eCommerce sales.

Amazon Still Dominates eCommerce Sales

Last year, Amazon was responsible for an estimated 44 per cent of all U.S. eCommerce sales and fully four per cent of the country’s total retail sales (roughly $200 billion), says a report by One Click Retail. Consumer electronics, home and kitchen, publishing, and sports and outdoors were the top selling product groups in 2017 with an average of 9.5 per cent yearly growth. The retailer made some major upgrades to its automated marketing system during the year as well, giving an increased level of sophistication that allows brands to bid on a far broader range of keywords, targeting mobile, desktop, and/or app users, and even integrate with eMail marketing and vendor-powered coupons. Consumables and private brands had strong growth with an increase of 35 per cent year over year. The company’s voice-activated personal assistant, Alexa, has helped the company increase sales in home automation. The report says, “Every major trend across 2017 can be explained by the fact that more of Amazon's core demographic (Millennials) are growing up: they're increasingly owning homes, raising children, and buying a ton of stuff to go with it. The bulk of the estimated $5.5 billion in home and kitchen sales comes from young people – those who shop from Amazon the most – investing in their homes and in their families.”

Ace Hardware Could Partner With Kroger

Ace Hardware is reportedly considering a partnership with the Kroger Company where mini-Ace locations or kiosks would pop up within Kroger locations. Kroger is a large U.S. retail chain with almost 3,000 locations in store formats that include supermarkets, superstores, department stores, and convenience stores. Ace Hardware has been dabbling in smaller format and ‘store-within-a-store’ formats since 2012. While it has mini stores within retail partner stores, it has also partnered with other retailers to house their mini-stores. In 2016, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. opened a location inside an Ace Hardware store in California. If the Ace partnership with Kroger goes through, the grocer would be Ace’s biggest partnership to date.

Old Flooring New Again For 2018

The new year is all about paying homage to yesteryear, at least on the floors, says SMART Carpet and Flooring. Its top hardwood trends for 2018 show the most modern homes will feature some vintage and retro looks. The looks include wide plank floors that are five and even seven inches wide which will make spaces look larger. Distressed floors are also on trend, whether they are eco-friendly reclaimed wood or budget-friendly wood-look vinyl plank. The trend in varied-width wood plank started to gain speed toward the end of 2017 and will continue to gain speed this year. Finally, parquet floors are back. This time around, parquet will be paired with other flooring trends like cool grey, distressed, or wide plank flooring to create a modern take on the traditional style.

Steady Demand For Windows, Doors

Global windows and doors demand is projected to advance 4.5 per cent per year to $214 billion in 2021, says the Freedonia Group. New residential construction accounted for the largest share of windows and doors demand in 2016 and will continue to do so going forward, totaling 35 per cent of the market in 2021. In terms of window products, plastic will account for the largest share of overall sales growth in value terms in 2021. The cost and performance advantages of PVC products, especially in developing regions where market penetration has not advanced as far as in higher income areas, will spur this growth.

January 5, 2018

Increasing Risks Ahead For Business Leaders

Canadian business leaders and entrepreneurs are facing an economy that is increasingly complex and unpredictable, says a report by Borden Ladner Gervais. Its ‘Top 10 Legal Risks for Business in 2018’ report shows they are not only affected by the policies of Canada’s federal and provincial governments, but also by international changes, such as the rise of populism and protectionism. The cost of doing business in Canada is constantly increasing at a time when other jurisdictions are reforming their tax systems to become more competitive. On the trade front, the coming into force of CETA in 2017 opened doors to the European Union market for Canadian businesses, but the renegotiation of NAFTA ‒ the country’s most important and successful trade agreement – and the strong stance of the president of the United States on this matter raise serious concerns. The withdrawal of the U.S. from the pact would have major consequences for all three countries involved. The report is at Legal Risks

Lowe’s Opens Fifth New Model Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened a new-model Lowe’s store in Gloucester, ON, in the Greater Ottawa Area. The store, formerly a RONA Home and Garden, now offers about 40,000 SKUs and features retail offering space totaling more than 169,000 square feet. This includes 74,965 square feet of retail sales space, an adjacent garden centre of 30,706 square feet, a covered lumberyard of 25,698 square feet, and an additional outdoor drive-through lumberyard of 37,940 square feet. It will offer a wider assortment of seasonal products and new categories including appliances and private label products. It will also target the contractor market with a rewards program, access to a drive-through lumber yard, charge accounts, and corporately-owned and operated delivery trucks.

Retailers Not Quite Ready For Voice Channel

Now that Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Amazon Echo are available in Canada, retailers have yet another consumer touchpoint – voice shopping. However, it’s not a touchpoint that has been very well leveraged yet in the U.S. where these voice devices have been available longer (Amazon Echo launched in 2014 and Google Home in 2016), finds a report by data firm Ugam. After heavily promoting its Alexa-enabled devices heading into the holiday season, Amazon featured very few gift promotions for sale by voice. On Cyber Monday, Amazon offered only one out of its 5,000 holiday deals via voice. However, Alexa deals were more competitive than Google Home. Google Home does not offer an equivalent to Amazon's 'Deal of the Day.' And when searching for Amazon Alexa deals products on Google Home, it offered exact matches only 30 per cent of the time and Google Home's prices on those products were higher. Interestingly, Walmart and Target were the top retailers on Google Home. That’s because most of Amazon's top competitors entered the voice commerce market by making offers via Google Home. Best Buy and brand Philips also did well on Google Home.

Lifetime To Acquire Filament

Lifetime Brands, Inc. plans to acquire Filament Brands, a portfolio company of Centre Partners. The acquisition will provide Lifetime with an enhanced portfolio of products, some with top positions in key product areas. It will also have access to a more diversified customer base. Filament brands include Rabbit, Chef’n, Taylor, Salter, and Springfield. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018.

MiTek Makes Appointments

Richard Sullivan is vice-president, enterprise operational excellence, with MiTek Industries. Previously, he held numerous operational excellence executive management positions where he collaborated with senior leaders to drive value through continuous improvement. Rachel Seward is vice-president of enterprise communications and philanthropy. She has more than a decade of experience in designing, implementing, and leading communications, community engagement, and public relations for several prominent organizations.

January 4, 2018

Consumer Confidence Ends Year On Fire

Booming consumer confidence at the close of 2017 brought the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index to 62.2 for the week ended December 29, the highest since the last week of 2009, when the economy was just beginning to emerge from recession. The index shows that big-spending Canadian consumers, who showed no signs of letting up in 2017, are entering the new year in an exuberant mood. Bloomberg says the mood was buoyed by a booming job market, a strong housing market, and an end-of-year jump in commodity prices. “It certainly bodes well for the already strong economic expansion that surprised economists and policymakers in 2017. The big question in the new year is to what extent the economy decelerates from last year’s elevated levels, particularly with the Bank of Canada expecting to raise interest rates further. Much will depend on household spending, which has carried the country’s economy for years and accounted for just about all of its growth since the collapse of oil prices three years ago.”

Lumber Pricing To Remain Volatile

After the currency-driven global lumber price slump in 2015, market demand and prices both started to improve in 2016, says ‘Wood Markets 2018 – Outlook To 2022’ by International Wood Markets Group and Forest Economic Advisors (FEA)-Canada. While overall global demand improved modestly in 2017 – at only half the rate of 2016 – it has been supply disruptions and changing dynamics that created a wild and unpredictable market. All markets appeared to be at least good to strong in 2017, including the U.S. and Canada. One of the largest market variables in 2017 was the initiation of import duties on Canadian lumber shipments to the U.S. (announced in late April and including retroactive duties back to late January 2017). These duties were expected to cause huge disruptions and volatility and certainly did so as Canadian exporters successfully pushed up U.S. market prices to cover all of the import duties. The report says that the slow rate of growth in U.S. housing starts as well as supply-side impacts have already led to some major imbalances in wood markets; overall demand and market activity is anticipated to remain active and volatile again in 2018 and beyond.

Amazon To Acquire Target?

Amazon will acquire Target in 2018, predicts Gene Munster, Loup Venture co-founder. He says it is easy to see the value of this combination. Amazon’s vision of the future of retail channels includes a mix of mostly online and some offline and Target is an ideal offline partner because it has a shared demographic and a manageable but comprehensive store count. “Target’s focus on moms is central to Amazon’s approach to win wallet share. Amazon has, over the years, aggressively pursued moms though promotions around Prime … As for retail stores, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods’ 470 stores along with testing of the Amazon Go retail concept is evidence that Amazon sees the future of retail as a combination of mostly online and some offline.” The acquisition of Target would increase Amazon’s store count by roughly 1,800.

LG Launches Deep-thinking Appliances

LG Electronics has created the ThinQ brand to identify its 2018 home appliances, consumer electronics, and services that utilize artificial intelligence (AI). LG ThinQ products and services have the ability to employ deep learning and communicate with one another utilizing a variety of AI technologies from other partners as well as LG’s own AI technology, DeepThinQ. In the U.S., LG already offers an extensive range of Wi-Fi enabled appliances featuring its LG SmartThinQ Wi-Fi connectivity. Users can manage all the appliances with one app at home or remotely. The system also works with voice control via the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. As well, every LG appliance with SmartThinQ technology is built on an open platform, which means they’ll work with evolving smart technologies and devices in the future.

Card Payments To Grow Rapidly Through 2022

Global card payments are set to rise by more than half to 500 billion by 2022, with growth in card usage to outpace growth in card numbers as a result of contactless technology and wider acceptance, says a report by RBR. It’s ‘Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2022’ shows that customers around the world are increasingly choosing cards to make purchases. The proliferation of contactless technology and the increasing frequency of contactless payments, especially for low-value purchases, have been key to the growth of card payments in many mature markets. RBR forecasts the total number of card payments worldwide to reach 483 billion by 2022, a 56 per cent rise compared with 2016. This is more than double the rate of growth in card numbers, which are projected to increase by 22 per cent over the same period. In more mature markets, growth will be characterized by local regulations mandating card acceptance for a widening range of merchant sector, and also by further penetration of contactless technology for lower-value payments.

January 3, 2018

Manufacturers See Small Gains In 2016

Total revenues reported by Canadian manufacturers increased to $664 billion in 2016, up 0.9 per cent or $6 billion from 2015, says Statistics Canada. This follows a decline of $5 billion (-0.8 per cent) in 2015. Total expenses were relatively unchanged, down $203 million or less than 0.1 per cent. Revenues from goods manufactured increased 0.9 per cent, up $5 billion to $620 billion and accounting for 93 per cent of all revenues earned by Canadian manufacturers in 2016. Total cost of materials and supplies kept pace with revenues from goods manufactured, increasing 0.9 per cent (+$3 billion) and accounting for 63 per cent of total expenses. For 2016, Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan all registered a decrease in revenues from goods manufactured. These declines partly offset the increases in revenues from goods manufactured reported in the other provinces and territories, led by Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Retailers Can Expect Gift Cards

Canadian retailers can expect an influx of customers using gift cards in the coming weeks, says FedEx Canada. Its ‘Holiday Recommerce Survey’ shows that 52 per cent of Canadians planned on giving a gift card to their friends and loved ones this holiday season, with the most popular reason for giving gift cards cited as recipients can choose what they want. FedEx says gift cards provide a growth opportunity in online sales for retailers. Roughly half of shoppers say they will redeem their gift cards both online and instore, with just eight per cent saying they will redeem their gift cards online only. A third plan on using gift cards within a month of receiving them. The survey also shows that 77 per cent of Canadians plan to shop after the holidays to take advantage of bargains, with almost a third saying they will shop to buy that one gift they never received during the holidays.

Technologies Will Impact Retailers In 2018

The rebirth of bricks-and-mortar, the consumerization of B2B, and augmented reality in the home are three of the top eCommerce trends that will impact North American retailers in 2018, says eCommerce agency Absolunet. The firm says a new breed of retail stores and in-person experiences will begin to replace outgoing retailers, while business-to-business buyers’ expectations will push the need for business-to-consumer-like functionalities. At the same time, augmented reality will go from a novelty to a sales driver as brands roll out features that allow consumers to use their mobile devices to visualize items in their home or office before purchasing. Other trends from Absolunet include more amalgamation of online and instore sales, increased mobile payments, and customized shopping with artificial intelligence. The technologies for these trends already exist, but Absolunet expects the adoption and proliferation of them to grow substantially in 2018, changing the very nature of how companies do business.

Growth Forecast For Net-zero Energy Building Market 

The global net-zero energy buildings (NZEBs) market is projected to reach $78.79 billion by 2025, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Net-zero energy buildings are those buildings where ideally 100 per cent of their energy is generated and met with onsite renewable energy sources, thereby reducing the energy consumption over a span of time. Technological advancements coupled with stringent policies and programs are expected to considerably propel the demand and adoption of NZEBs. Zero Net Energy (ZNE) projects are targeting buildings such as schools, institutional buildings, corporate offices, and public buildings across the globe. The market is expected to gain traction over the forecast period on account of specified targets and regulations laid down by organizations striving to achieve sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. The regional laws, authorities, bodies, organizations, and concerned government departments are working with regional architects, designers, builders, contractors, equipment manufacturers, and material suppliers to promote self-energy sufficient buildings. The large number of successful projects with the use of current technologies and design approaches have created awareness among the population regarding how realistic and achievable the net-zero energy goals are. The industry is gaining momentum and is predicted to exhibit robust growth, creating lucrative opportunities for equipment producers, material suppliers, and service providers.

Beacon Completes Allied Acquisition

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. has completed its acquisition of Allied Building Products Corp. from building products group CRH plc. The company says the acquisition further strengthens its position in the U.S. and Canada with approximately 589 branches throughout all 50 states and six provinces. Along with an expanded exteriors geographic footprint, it has provided expansion into the interior business, including wallboard and suspended ceiling products. Beacon says it is now well-positioned to leverage Allied's various market advantages, including its established private-label business and robust eCommerce platform, to further its organic growth strategies.

FCL Has Strong Year

With increased revenues in 2017, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) will return $408 million to its retail co-operatives across western Canada. For its fiscal 2017 year, the company had revenues of $9.8 billion from its energy, food, home and building, and agro businesses, a 17 per cent increase over the previous year. Net earnings were $575 million for the year.

January 2, 2018

Economy Will See Slighter Growth Next Year

As 2017 came to a close, the Canadian economy was on track to record its fastest pace of growth since 2011 thanks to strong consumer spending and a hot housing market, says the Conference Board of Canada. The labour market has also been remarkably strong with 329,000 new jobs created over the last year ‒ the fastest gain in a decade. Canada's economy expanded by three per cent in 2017, the fastest increase among the G7 countries. The board says this year, however, growth is expected to slow to a still-healthy 2.1 per cent. And, despite record-high debt loads, consumer spending will remain a driver of economic growth in 2018, but the pace of personal expenditure growth will moderate. As well, employment growth is set to weaken in 2018, mainly due to a tight labour market and an aging population. But, on a more positive note, a tightening labour market will help support wage growth, which had a weak start to the year. Wages are expected to grow by 3.1 per cent next year.

Housing Affordability Drops Drastically

Rising home ownership costs in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, and Toronto, ON, pushed overall housing affordability in Canada to its worst level since the end of 1990 in the third quarter of 2017, says the ‘Housing Trends and Affordability Report’ by RBC Economics Research. RBC's aggregate measure for affordability in Canada rose for the ninth consecutive quarter to stand at 48.7 per cent in the third quarter. Housing affordability is calculated as the share of household income that would be required to carry the costs of owning a home at market price. A higher number means ownership is less affordable. The Vancouver area experienced the sharpest affordability drop among Canada's major markets, reaching a new record high for the measure for any market in Canada at 87.5 per cent (up from 82.6 per cent in the second quarter). Meanwhile in Toronto, the affordability measure rose for the 13th consecutive quarter to a record-high 78.4 per cent for the area (up from 77.1 per cent in the second quarter). In Victoria, affordability continued to deteriorate with RBC's aggregate measure reaching a record-high of 61.5 per cent for the area (up from 58.8 per cent in the second quarter).

Castle To Sponsor Bonnechere Cup

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. will once again co-sponsor the ‘Annual Bonnechere Cup’ along with Castle members W.M Keetch, C.A. Reiche, Eganvile Country Depot, and Hooks Building Supplies. The annual snowmobile race will take place February 16 to 18 in Eganville, ON.

GTA New Home Sales Slow In November

New home sales in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario slowed slightly in November, with condo apartments continuing to drive the bulk of the sales and a record low number of new single-family home sales, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 3,473 new homes sold in November and about 91 per cent of these were condominium apartments in low, medium, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units. While condo apartment sales were down eight per cent from November 2016, they were still 28 per cent above the 10-year average of 2,465. Sales of new single-family homes, including detached, link, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) contributed only nine per cent (312 units) to total new home sales in November, down 82 per cent from last November, 76 per cent below the 10-year average of 1,319 for November, and a record low for any November for single-family sales since BILD started tracking in 2000.

Houseware Sales Continue Steady Rise

Retail sales in global housewares increased 2.4 per cent in 2016. This is half of the percentage increase posted in 2015 and similar to the previous two years (2.6 per cent in 2014 and 2.9 per cent in 2013), says the ‘2017 IHA State of the Industry Report’ by the International Housewares Association (IHA) and Raftery Resource Network, Inc. Total U.S. housewares expenditures increased six per cent in 2016 versus 2015; this also compares to average U.S. household total expenditures, which increased 4.7 per cent in 2016 versus 2015. The U.S. mass merchants/supercentres channel was the sales leader in all but one housewares product category in 2016. Department stores rose 1.3 per cent to be second highest share of sales. Specialty retailers, the third largest channel, saw a decrease in share of housewares sales for the second year in a row. Retail channels that operate both physical and virtual retail options for consumers (mass merchants/supercentres, supermarkets, warehouse clubs, and drug stores) saw percentage sales increase versus last year.

December 22, 2017

Retail Sales Rise In October

Retail sales rose 1.5 per cent to $49.9 billion in October. Higher sales at new car dealers were the main contributor to the gain. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales increased 0.8 per cent, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 79 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 1.4 per cent. Sales at general merchandise stores (+1.8 per cent) increased for the first time in three months. And, after decreasing 1.4 per cent in September, sales at electronics and appliance stores (+1.4 per cent) rebounded in October. Retail sales were up in every province in October. Higher sales in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia accounted for the majority of the increase. Ontario (+1.1 per cent) reported the largest gain in dollar terms, increasing for the fourth consecutive month. Retail sales in Quebec rose 1.8 per cent in October, led by stronger sales at new car dealers. Sales in British Columbia (+2.0 per cent) continued their upward trend in October, rising for the seventh time in eight months. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales reached $1.3 billion in October, accounting for 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 19.4 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 7.5 per cent.

Walmart Offers Associates Financial Tools

Walmart has launched a suite of new financial wellness services for more than 1.4 million of its associates in the U.S. The offering was created in collaboration with financial technology companies Even and PayActiv. The service will help employees automatically plan ahead for bills and savings goals, eliminating the need to figure out how much money is okay to spend. When unexpected expenses occur, they can access earned wages ahead of scheduled paychecks using an ‘Instapay’ feature. Walmart says this will provide greater flexibility and help employees avoid overdrafts, high-fee funding, or credit options. The company said it wanted to expand on traditional approaches to workforce well-being that focus only on physical health, and add a financial well-being component. The services will be available to all Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Walmart eCommerce associates in the U.S.

U.S. New Construction Starts Slide

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $650.5 billion, new construction starts in November dropped 12 per cent from October, says Dodge Data & Analytics. Non-residential building fell 14 per cent, retreating for the second month in a row after the sharp improvement reported in late summer. The non-building construction sector, which can be volatile on a month-to-month basis, plunged 32 per cent in November after its 28 per cent hike in October. Meanwhile, residential building managed to edge up one per cent, as an improved amount for single family housing slightly outweighed a moderate pullback for multifamily housing. During the first 11 months of 2017, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $687.1 billion, up one per cent from a year ago. November’s data lowered the Dodge Index to 138, down from 157 for October and this year’s high of 173 for September, which reflected the boost coming from several unusually large projects. Heading into 2018, it’s expected that total construction activity will register modest growth next year.

Speed And Convenience Rule Every Channel

With speed and convenience as the differentiators in the competitive retail world, the death of retail stores is greatly exaggerated, finds a study by Microsoft, the Retail Council of Canada, and research tool WisePlum. It shows that bricks-and-mortar stores capture most of the retail sales in every major vertical. The study shows that consumers like the physical retail store experience because it offers instant gratification with the ability to browse, compare prices, read flyers, touch product, and purchase. Yet, online shopping is gaining ground, particularly with younger shoppers. While it is apparent that technology has forever changed consumer shopping patterns, speed and convenience remain the main differentiators in retail. Price and brand are part of the equation, but the research showed all consumers want a frictionless shopping experience regardless of channel. The study clearly demonstrates retailers must strive to provide customers with the ability to interact and shop across channels, creating a fluid and frictionless brand experience.

Home Depot Acquires The Company Store

The Home Depot has acquired The Company Store, an online retailer of textiles and home décor products, from Hanover Direct. In addition to its success as an online retailer, The Company Store has strong relationships and industry leading capabilities in the development and sourcing of high quality textiles across bedding, bath, and related categories. This provides product development and sourcing capabilities to help Home Depot expand its online décor business into broader categories across the entire home. The acquisition does not include The Company Store’s five retail locations.

Castle Names Renovation Contest Winners

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has announced the winners of its ‘Great Canadian Home Renovation Contest.’ Each winner has won $5,000 work of Castle goods to put towards a home renovation project of their choice. The prizes will be awarded at the winning Castle locations in the coming weeks. The winners are Ed Shuukmaus of Minden, ON, for the central region at Cottage Country Building Supplies in Carnarvon, ON; Serena Gardner of Tower Hill, NB, for the Atlantic region at Keith’s Building Supplies in St George, NB; and Megan Jensen of Sylvan Lake, AB, for the western region at Wolf Creek Building Supplies in Sylvan Lake, AB.

AZEK Acquires WES, LLC

AZEK Building Products will acquire WES, LLC, which sells engineered railing systems and assembly machines under UltraLox, Harmony, and other brands. UltraLox will continue to operate as a separate company with its existing management team, but AZEK will bring additional resources to support the growth of the company. AZEK says the partnership will benefit consumers by offering a wider selection in railing products at various price points. Both companies will now also be able to leverage a combined knowledge of best practices in research, design, and safety. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.

Western To Acquire Washington Facilities

Western Forest Products Inc. plans to acquire the Arlington, WA, lumber processing and distribution centres of Hampton Lumber Mills-Washington, Inc. Western says the acquisition will allow it to increase the production of targeted, finished products while also providing a centralized warehousing and distribution centre to more effectively serve its U.S. customers. It will also strengthen the company’s global competitiveness by positioning it to mitigate duties on products destined for the U.S. market.

December 21, 2017

Wholesale Sales Back Up

Wholesale sales increased 1.5 per cent to $63 billion in October, more than offsetting the 1.1 per cent decline in September, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in six of seven subsectors, together representing 81 per cent of total wholesale sales. The machinery, equipment and supplies, and the personal and household goods subsectors contributed the most to the increase. In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 1.2 per cent. In dollar terms, the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector reported the largest increase in October, as sales rose 5.2 per cent to $12.7 billion. Sales were up in all four industries, led by the farm, lawn and garden machinery, and equipment industry (+19.0 per cent) following a 9.7 per cent decline in September. Sales in the personal and household goods subsector rose 3.4 per cent to $8.9 billion as all industries posted gains in October. Wholesale inventories increased 0.8 per cent to $82.1 billion in October, the sixth gain in seven months.

Businesses Not Ready For NAFTA Changes

Most Canadian business owners (66 per cent) have no contingency plans for their businesses after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation, despite concerns regarding the potential termination of the trade pact between Canada, Mexico, and the United States, says a poll by BDO Canada. Business owners are most concerned that NAFTA negotiations could lead to unfair trade terms for Canada or Mexico. They are also concerned that the trade deal could be terminated, resulting in the imposition of more duties and regulations, price uncertainty, and an adverse impact on business and profitability. The poll shows business owners want negotiators to address cross border movement of professionals, the duty-free threshold, environmental provisions, and procurement. Since the agreement was drafted 25 years ago, the economies in North America have drastically changed. Changes like eCommerce and the digital economy are largely impacted by NAFTA, and were not addressed in the original draft of the agreement. BDO says a NAFTA update makes sense, but business owners need to be prepared to capitalize on and weather through any changes. They should develop a plan to ensure that their business continues to thrive, no matter what the outcome of the negotiations.

Toronto Leads National Home Sales Increase

National home sales rose strongly in November, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales across Canada rose 3.9 per cent from October to November, while actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 2.6 per cent from November of last year. The number of newly-listed homes climbed 3.5 per cent from October to November. Home sales via Canadian MLS Systems rose for the fourth month in a row led by a 16 per cent jump in sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario; the surge in sales in Toronto accounted for more than two-thirds of the national increase. The continuing rebound put November sales activity a little over halfway between the peak recorded in March and the low reached in July. As well, with sales and new listings having risen by similar magnitudes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio was 56.4 per cent in November, remaining little changed from 56.2 per cent reported in October.

Ontario Launches Rebates For Renovations

Families in Ontario can now access rebates to complete low-carbon, energy efficient renovations to their homes through a new program from the Green Ontario Fund, a non-profit provincial agency funded by proceeds from the province's cap on pollution and carbon market. The new rebates will cover up to $7,200 off new insulation and a $100 rebate for air sealing; up to $20,000 to install ENERGY STAR certified ground source heat pumps (home geothermal) or up to $4,500 to repair existing heat pump systems; up to $5,800 off air source heat pumps that are ENERGY STAR certified or meet program requirements; and up to $5,000 for replacement windows that meet program requirements. In addition to the renovation rebates, homeowners and tenants can access a $100 smart thermostat rebate through a partnership with Save on Energy. The province also launched ‘GreenON Support,’ a free over-the-phone service offering impartial advice from energy experts to help consumers learn how they can save money and reduce their carbon footprint through home upgrades. In order to access the rebates, homeowners may have to work with a contractor that's been screened and qualified under the program and listed at GreenON.ca

Rewards Drive Credit Card Use

Convenience and rewards are the dominant themes in this year’s ‘Canadian Payment Methods and Trends’ (CPMT) report by Payments Canada. This year’s analysis shows the continued dominance of credit cards at the point-of-sale, totaling more than $462 billion in 2016. In fact, Canada has become a global leader in credit card use as growing numbers of Canadians – including businesses – use their credit cards for larger portions of their monthly spending to earn rewards. Credit cards experienced growth as more transactions shifted to online and in-app channels – such as the friction-free payment experience of Uber or iTunes – where more than 90 per cent of transactions are completed via credit cards. At the same time, more Canadians are choosing to tap their cards or phones at the point-of sale in lieu of cash or chip-and-PIN. This growing trend, since the introduction of mobile wallets to Canada in 2016, has served as an added boost for both credit and debit cards.

Lowe’s Collects For Toy Mountain

Over the last month, the Lowe’s network of stores in Canada has collected new, unused toys from its employees and customers as part of CTV’s Toy Mountain initiative organized in partnership with the Salvation Army. More than 6,500 toys, gathered across the 57 participating Lowe’s stores, will be handed to the Salvation Army for distribution to thousands of children. In addition, Lowe’s Canada made a $10,000 cash donation in support of the Toy Mountain initiative. This is the sixth year Lowe’s has participated in a drive to collect toys for children in need over the holiday season.

December 20, 2017

Apartments Lead Housing Construction Gains

New housing construction investment totaled $5.4 billion in October, up 7.4 per cent compared with October 2016, says Statistics Canada. Nationally, year-over-year increases were posted for all dwelling types, led by spending on apartment buildings (8.7 per cent to $2 billion) followed by spending on row house construction (22.9 per cent to $592.8 million). Despite a smaller year-over-year increase, investment in single-family homes accounted for nearly half (47.8 per cent or $2.6 billion) of total spending on new housing construction. The increased spending on apartment building construction for the month was mainly attributable to higher investment in Quebec ($127 million), which accounted for the vast majority of the total national increase in spending for this dwelling type. In contrast, Alberta ($10.0 million) and Ontario ($7.6 million) posted the largest declines in apartment building construction.

Lumber Industry Surviving Preliminary Duties

Canada's lumber industry has been able to survive the impact of preliminary duties, largely thanks to soaring lumber prices, says the Conference Board of Canada. Its report, ‘Canada’s Canadian Industrial Outlook: Wood Products Manufacturing – Autumn 2017,’ says industry production will remain virtually flat this year, while industry revenues are on pace to grow by eight per cent. As well, Canadian lumber producers will pay an estimated $500 million in countervailing and anti-dumping duties this year due to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s average duty of 21 per on Canadian softwood lumber. Lumber prices reached their highest levels since 2004, rising by 5.6 per cent this year. The higher prices will help offset some of the costs of the duties and industry pre-tax profits are forecast to reach $2.6 billion this year.

Stress Test May Limit Home Price Appreciation

Home prices are expected to increase roughly 4.9 per cent by the end of 2018, finds the Royal LePage ‘Market Survey Forecast.’ This forecast takes into consideration the new regulatory interventions by the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) that the real estate firm believes will slow the housing market, particularly in the first half of 2018. On January 1, OSFI will require financial institutions to apply a mortgage financing stress test which targets existing and prospective homeowners applying for a mortgage, requiring them to meet stricter criteria when seeking new financing. With a large number of existing homeowners potentially failing the test when refinancing next year, a temporary reduction in consumer confidence may further stagnate price growth as potential buyers and sellers take a 'wait and see' approach. As well, potential move-up buyers might delay listing homes as they will not be able to access sufficient financing for their desired next purchase. With further diminished affordability, it is also likely that demand for entry-level properties will surge. In most urban centres, this will be most evident in the condominium segment.

U.S. Consumers Happy With Service

U.S. consumers are happier than ever with the services companies provide, finds a study by American Express. Its ‘2017 Customer Service Barometer’ finds that eight in 10 Americans say that businesses are meeting or exceeding their expectations for service, compared to 67 per cent in 2014. In fact, 40 per cent of consumers say businesses have increased their focus and attention on service, a significant increase in just three years (up from 29 per cent in 2014). The report says digital servicing options are helping to drive this uptick in servicing satisfaction as is improved person-to-person care. More than two thirds of those surveyed (68 per cent) say that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences and 62 per cent say that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key. Consumers say they’re willing to spend 17 per cent more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, but 33 per cent will consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. As a group, Millennials are willing to spend the most for great care at 21 per cent, followed by men who are willing to spend 19 per cent more. In fact, Millennials are the group that is happiest with service with 84 per cent citing that businesses are meeting or exceeding their expectations. Men, however, are the chattiest when it comes to service, telling twice as many people as women both about their poor experiences (21 per cent compared to 10) and good ones (15 per cent compared to seven).

Government Opens Summer Hiring Program

The Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour has opened the employer application period for the ‘2018 Canada Summer Jobs’ (CSJ) program. Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, not-for-profit employers, and public sector organizations that can provide quality summer jobs for students are invited to apply for funding from the Government of Canada to hire students for next summer. The program creates summer job opportunities for full-time students aged 15 to 30, allowing them to develop skills, get meaningful work experience, and earn money to pay for next year's tuition. Employers are encouraged to submit a funding application online by February 2. For more information, visitwww.Canada.ca/Canada-summer-jobs

Atmospheric Fund Plans Next Phase

The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) has unveiled plans for the next phase of its successful TowerWise retrofit program for multi-residential buildings with funding from Natural Resources Canada and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The goal is to reduce urban carbon emissions by making older buildings, especially multi-unit buildings, more energy efficient. The project demonstrates how to achieve this and has created 20 to 30 per cent energy savings in previous projects. This next phase of the program will include four demonstration sites with different building types, demographics, and ownership structures in Toronto and Hamilton, ON, representing the broader multi-residential sector – including low-income housing. Additional sites will be added as more funding becomes available. The project will incorporate rigorous verification of building performance, using a combination of real-time energy monitoring and the government of Canada's EnerGuide energy performance labelling program.

Singh To Accelerate Lowe’s Digital Formats

Vikram Singh will be senior vice-president, chief digital officer, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective January 4. This is a newly-created role to further accelerate Lowe’s digital formats. Previously, he worked at Amazon where his roles included product strategy, marketing, and user experience design.

December 19, 2017

Petroleum Hinders Wholesaler Revenues

Canadian wholesalers’ operating revenue declined 1.4 per cent in 2016 compared with 2015, and dropped further below the $1 trillion mark reached in 2014, says Statistics Canada. The overall drop was partly caused by a price-induced decline in the petroleum products subsector as all other subsectors saw increases in revenues. Excluding petroleum, operating revenues rose 3.1 per cent compared with 2015. Overall, the operating profits of wholesalers as a percentage of total operating revenue increased from 4.3 per cent in 2015 to 4.6 per cent in 2016. The cost of goods sold, which accounted for 82.4 per cent of total operating revenue, declined 2.2 per cent to $793 billion in 2016. This was attributable to the decline in the costs of goods sold by the petroleum subsector. Total operating expenses, which include labour remuneration, were up 1.5 per cent to $124.3 billion. Gross margins for wholesalers increased from 16.9 per cent in 2015 to 17.6 per cent in 2016. Excluding petroleum, wholesale gross margins edged up to 21.6 per cent in 2016. Building materials and supplies wholesalers saw their gross margins increase from 23.3 per cent in 2015 to 23.6 per cent in 2016.

Strong Home Sales Forecast For Québec

The outlook for Québec’s real estate market is very positive with the Québec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) forecasting record sales in 2018. The number of sales this year is also expected to reach a high of 82,600 – a six per cent increase over last year. QFREB is predicting a three per cent increase in 2018, breaking the threshold of 85,000 transactions. The job market, migration, and an increase in the net number of non-permanent residents are all expected to have an impact on housing demand next year. The median price of single-family homes, which will increase by four per cent in 2017, is expected to rise by another three per cent in 2018 to reach $251,000. Residential sales in the Montréal metropolitan area are expected to rise most significantly. Sales in 2017 are on their way to register an eight per cent increase and in 2018 are anticipated to reach another five per cent increase. Montréal will also see the strongest price growth on home.

Tilbury Home Centre Begins Renovation

Tilbury Home Building Centre has begun excavation to expand its store. The Tilbury, ON, retailer will add a 6,000-square-foot addition that will enable it to display more product and expand categories including kitchen and bath, windows and doors, plumbing, electrical, flooring, and Beauti-Tone paint lines. As well, “a completely new exterior will bring the store up to the latest Home Hardware standards," says Mike Arens, dealer-owner. The original 5,000-square-foot section of the store is also being renovated and improvements made to the lumberyard. Completion is expected in the spring. The store will remain open during the renovation.

Canadians Loyal To Boxing Day

Canadians could be spending upwards of $600 on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and that’s on top of the $1,400 they’ve already spent on holiday celebrations, says a survey from RetailMeNot.ca. However, during these post-Christmas spending occasions, it seems that Canadians shift from the spirit of gift giving to shopping for themselves. The survey shows that Canadians are spending an average of $215 on themselves along during Boxing Day sales which is more than they are spending on anyone else in their lives, loved ones included. As well, Canadian shoppers are loyal to their original sale occasion – Boxing Day – despite the deals found on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Less than one-quarter feel that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become more important than Boxing Day and 40 per cent state they will always shop Boxing Day deals. As well, more than half (58 per cent) will be shopping instore for deals. When spending during these end-of-year deal days, Canadians, on average, plan to spend $215 on themselves, $209 on their spouse, $105 on their boyfriend/girlfriend, and $70 on hostess gifts.

Uniboard Celebrates 35 Years

Uniboard celebrates its 35th anniversary this month. The original facility was founded in Sayabec, QC, in December 1982. Today, this mill is one of the most advanced raw board and decorative composite wood panel facilities in North America. In 1986, the company acquired the particleboard mill in Val-d’Or, QC, and then, in 1987, opened North America’s first medium-density fibreboard mill in Mont-Laurier (1987). Integrated resin manufacturing was added in Val-d’Or in the late 1980s. Over the years, strategic investments were made to the facilities and today the company employs roughly 850 people. Uniboard will hold several events and festivities throughout 2018 to celebrate its anniversary.

Bona Facility Achieves Zero-waste Status

Bona has achieved zero waste at its manufacturing facility in Monroe, NC. All materials at the facility will be recycled, repurposed, or reused. This includes waste water, paper, plastic, and any hazardous material that may result from the manufacturing of Bona products. As an ISO14001 facility, these practices are also verified by outside sources to validate the zero-waste claim. Additionally, over the past few years, Bona has installed new lighting, motor controllers, and optimized heating and cooling systems to significantly decrease the building’s environmental footprint. Since 2015, the facility has reduced its water usage by several thousand gallons annually. As well, the company has opened a distribution facility in Limburg, Germany, with a host of sustainable and environmentally-focused features including solar panels, a green roof, heat pumps, charging stations for eBikes and cars, and an electric shuttle for transporting goods from the nearby adhesive plant. The centre is expected to be operating fully early next year.

Alliance To Distribute Weiser Products

Weiser Lock and Alliance Door Products have entered into a distribution agreement that will see Alliance become an authorized distributor of Weiser products in western Canada. Weiser’s brand includes door hardware with a complete range of mechanical and electronic door locks in a wide variety of traditional and contemporary designs. Alliance is a family-owned and operated business enterprise with distribution branches in Abbotsford, BC; Calgary and Edmonton, AB; and Winnipeg, MB. The company is a distributor of residential, commercial, and architectural doors, millwork, and hardware.

Experts Inspire At 2018 GTA Home & Reno Show

Visitors will have to opportunity to explore more than 300 exhibitors, meet with the Greater Toronto, ON, Area’s top contractors, suppliers, and design experts, and be inspired by renovation and DIY celebrities at the ‘2018 GTA Home & Reno Show.’ The show will feature a DIY Tooling Centre, Handyman’s Corner, and BILD and Renomark’s Destination Renovation. It takes place February 16 to 19 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit www.gtahomeandrenoshow.com

December 18, 2017

Small Business Can Effect Change

When Canadian business leaders band together as was done to battle the recently proposed tax changes, they effect great change, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says if Canada is to succeed, grow, and compete globally, “we need a strong, healthy environment for entrepreneurs to thrive. These are the risk-takers that should be rewarded for their efforts.” Jenkins says he has seen many other examples recently of the collective will of Canadian business leaders in areas such as sustainability, international trade, and business practice and he encourages readers to get involved if they believe the government of Canada is handicapping small business of the opportunity to succeed. “We have long been a nation that underestimates our abilities. Perhaps it’s time that we stepped up and showed the world just how great Canadian entrepreneurs are. If the government of Canada wants to grow the economy, it will be achieved through the success of small businesses.”

Small Business Finds CRA Merely Satisfactory

The majority of small businesses say the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) performance is merely satisfactory, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its ‘CRA Report Card.’ The 'C' grade is the same one the agency received in the previous edition of this report, in 2015. "In recent years, the CRA has made efforts to improve its customer service, but it's clear that its service outcomes still don't align with expectations of small business owners," says Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice-president, national affairs at CFIB. "Given the important relationship between small businesses and the CRA, it is critical that they continue to work at improving how they interact with small business." The report says 18 per cent of business owners and 47 per cent of tax practitioners believe that the service they received from the CRA has gotten worse in the past three years. As well, 43 per cent of business owners and 66 per cent of tax practitioners say that their overall administrative burden of tax obligations has increased in the past three years. Just 25 per cent of small to medium enterprise owners, and 43 per cent of tax practitioners, feel that the CRA is making an effort to be small business-friendly.

Coalition Opposes New Tax Rules

The legislation on income sprinkling released by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, while a step towards clarity, still represents an administrative and financial burden for a number of small businesses and the families that own them, says the Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness. The coalition remains concerned that the new rules will cause business owners to have to cut through burdensome interpretative red tape in their efforts to prove that they or family members belong in one of the categories that would exempt them from the new sprinkling rules. The coalition continues to urge government to create a blanket exemption for spouses. "The measures announced are slated to come into force in two weeks. That's far from enough time for businesses to adapt," says Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. "We continue to urge the government to slow down and to listen to the recommendations from the Senate Committee on National Finance." The Senate Standing Committee on National Finance issued a report that recommends the government withdraw the proposed changes to the taxation of private corporations in Canada, or barring that, to push back their application to 2019. The Senate Committee is also issuing a recommendation to proceed with an in-depth review of the country's tax system.

Renovation On BMR Matco Sainte Catherine Begins

BMR Matco Sainte Catherine has begun a $2.8 million renovation which is expected to be completed by spring 2018. The renovation at the Sainte Catherine, QC, store is part of a large scale redevelopment plan for all Groupe BMR corporate stores throughout Quebec. After completing renovations in Alma, Beloeil, Chambly, and Chicoutimi, the investment in Sainte Catherine will allow BMR Matco to provide a renewed shopping experience to better respond to the needs of its customers. The renovation includes the complete overhaul of the store’s interior, a contractors’ entrance, and a new space for seasonal products.

December 15, 2017

Tax Changes Could Impact Canadian Economy

Canada ranks first among the G7 nations and 16th out of all 190 economies measured, says the 12th edition of the ‘Paying Taxes’ report by PwC and the World Bank Group. Yet, despite consistently being in the top 20 over the past five years, Canada's ranking could potentially drop should the federal government implement the proposed legislative changes for private corporations. On average, small- to medium-sized Canadian companies make eight tax payments (versus an average of 24 payments globally) per year and take 131 hours (versus an average of 240 hours globally) to comply with the tax requirements. Under this proposed legislation targeting private corporations, the total tax burden would increase and tax compliance would become more complex, which could result in Canada's ranking decline in the coming years. “The recent proposals for private corporations by the government will increase the amount of taxes small and medium-sized businesses will have to pay, diverting money away from future investments and job creation,” says Peter van Dijk, national tax policy leader for PwC.

Ontario, BC Leading Housing Market Increases

Housing market trends continue to diverge considerably among regions along four general themes: British Columbia; the Greater Golden Horseshoe; oil and natural resource dependent provinces; and everywhere else, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) in its updated forecast for home sales activity. Driven by sales trends in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Ontario home sales have rebounded from the depths reached in the summer, but remain well below the peak reached earlier this year. Meanwhile, sales activity in British Columbia has improved. Supported by rising activity in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island, sales for the province are currently running about midway between the record levels of early 2016 and the lows reached in late 2016. In the natural resource-intensive provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, sales activity is still running at lower levels and supply remains ample. As a result, average prices have flattened in Alberta and eased in Saskatchewan as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador, consistent with their elevated number of months of inventory. In Manitoba, Eastern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, sales activity has been steadily improving. Combined with shrinking supply, housing markets in these regions have firmed up and average prices have been making modest gains.

CertainTeed Honours Fort McMurray Rebuild Heroes

CertainTeed is honouring five heroes who helped rebuild Fort McMurray, AB, to help get people back into their homes. Each ‘Rebuild Hero’ will receive $2,000 and a $2,000 donation will be made to local charities in their name. The honourees include Claude Bureau, who lost his own home, yet helped rebuild community members before rebuilding his own home; Cody Burchell brought the spirit of Christmas back to one family by working long hours and going above the call of duty to provide all the finishing touches including a real, fully decorated Christmas tree; Alfred Hoffman donated his time and resources to the community church by replacing items that had been damaged in the fire; David McLeod, moved his business and young family to Fort McMurray and started a new life helping with the process of rebuilding and restoring homes; and Shawn Chaulk supported the elders in the community and made sure they all had a home to go to.

Lowe’s Opens Kitchener Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened a new model Lowe’s store in Kitchener, ON. The store was converted from the former RONA Home and Garden and is the fourth new model Lowe’s store to open in Canada. The store underwent a 16-week physical transformation which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as providing training for employees focused on new product knowledge and customer service. This location will offer a wider assortment of seasonal products and new product categories including appliances, private labels, and brands such as John Deere, Husqvarna, and Cub Cadet. As well, it will offer a broader selection of fashion plumbing products and introduce high-profile brands such as Kohler and Grohe. It will also feature floor displays with larger displays at eye level. The store will also focus on contractor business with its Contractor Rewards Program, a drive-through lumberyard, charge cards with a monthly invoice, delivery trucks, and an enhanced assortment of key contractor categories.

December 22 To Be Busiest Shopping Day

December 22 will be the busiest shopping day of 2017 and 3 p.m. will be the busiest shopping hour, predicts Moneris, a debit and credit processor. The firm made the prediction following the biggest Black Friday ever in Canada, with total spending up 4.5 per cent over 2016. Last year, Canadians spent the most on December 23, followed by Black Friday, and then Boxing Day. In 2016, Manitoba shoppers had the biggest increase (25.21 per cent year over year) in last-minute transactions on December 23, followed by shoppers in Ontario (13.26 per cent) and Quebec (12.97 per cent). For Black Friday, Quebec had the biggest spend increase (7.73 per cent) in 2017 compared to 2016. Saskatchewan came in second with a 7.2 per cent increase, followed by British Columbia with a 4.96 per cent increase. Newfoundland and Labrador had a decrease in spend of 2.95 per cent.

Trex Subsidiary Renamed

SC Railing, a manufacturer and supplier of custom architectural railings, has been renamed Trex Commercial Products. Trex Company recently acquired the manufacturer and has renamed it to align the subsidiary with its corporate parent and to establish Trex as a major brand name in the commercial building arena. SC Railing has been involved with many large commercial products in the U.S., and Trex hopes to build an even wider audience with the new name. The company will operate out of its existing facilities in the U.S. and be managed by the same leadership team and sales network.

December 14, 2017

Finance Minister Tweaks Income Sprinkling Rules

After a criticism from industry associations and small businesses across Canada, the Ministry of Finance and the Canada Revenue Agency have tweaked and clarified the proposals to simplify and improve the treatment of income sprinkling, which was proposed to come into effect January 1. The original proposal was designed to prevent business owners splitting income to family members who were not contributing to the business. The government wanted to see their income from the business taxed at a higher marginal rate and cancel out any potential advantage. Bill Morneau, the minister of finance, says owners of private corporations will have until the end of 2018 to adjust to the proposed exclusion for significant shareholdings‎. He says the number of businesses potentially affected by this rule is fewer than 45,000, less than three per cent of the total number of Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs). As well, business owners who are sprinkling legitimately to family members working in their businesses will be left alone. The government has outlined a series of rules that will circumvent the increased tax. If a family member falls under a list of categories, they will not be taxed at a higher rate. These categories include that the family must be over 18 years of age, work at least 20 hours per week during the current year or during the previous five years; the family member is 25 and older and owns 10 per cent or more of the business; or the family member is the business owner’s spouse, provided that the business owner meaningfully contributed to the business and is age 65 or over. More information on the Ministry of Finance’s ‘Simplified Measures to Address Income Sprinkling’ is available here

Ontario, Quebec Lead Household Spending

Canadian households spent an annual average of $62,183 on goods and services ranging from clothing to communications in 2016, up 2.8 per cent from 2015, says Statistics Canada. The increase was driven by higher year-over-year spending by households in Ontario and Quebec. Households in Ontario spent $66,220 (+5.6 per cent), while those in Quebec spent $52,447 (+4.5 per cent). Despite the overall increase in 2016, households still spent the same proportion of their total consumption on the three largest expenditure categories as they did in 2015: shelter (29 per cent), transportation (19.2 per cent), and food (14.1 per cent). Canadian households spent an average of $18,032 on shelter in 2016, little changed from 2015. They paid an average of $16,293 for their principal residence (including rent, mortgage payments, repairs, maintenance costs, property taxes, and utilities) and an average of $1,739 for other accommodations, such as owned secondary residences and hotels. Higher income is generally linked to higher spending; in 2016, the 20 per cent of Canadian households with the lowest incomes spent an average of $30,985 on goods and services, compared with $105,288 for those in the top 20 per cent of household incomes.

DEWALT Pays It Forward For Holiday Spirit

To share the giving spirit of the holidays, DEWALT employees visited two Greater Toronto, ON, Area No Frills locations to make the season merrier for some lucky shoppers. Each of the employees randomly chose a customer in the checkout line and paid for their groceries. The selected customers also received a token gift from DEWALT and a card asking them to pay it forward by performing their own random acts of kindness. “Our employees have a long tradition of being involved in their communities, often through organizations that help to make the world a better place,” says Joe Di Ilio, president of Stanley Black + Decker Canada. He adds that Pay-It-Forward Day is an example of employees wanting to give back to the community and help spread goodwill at this time of year.

Residential Sales Up In Greater Montréal

In total, 3,348 residential sales were concluded in November in the Montréal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), says the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board (GMREB). Four of the five main areas of the Montréal CMA registered an increase in sales: the South Shore (+19 per cent), the Island of Montréal (+13 per cent), Vaudreuil-Soulanges (+13 per cent), and the North Shore (+11 per cent). Sales were unchanged in Laval. Condominium sales jumped by 23 per cent, while sales of single-family homes increased by eight per cent. Sales of plexes (two to five dwellings) registered a five per cent increase. The number of active listings (25,149) was down 13 per cent compared to November of last year.

Renoworks Adds Moulding Manufacturer

Renoworks Software Inc. has added an Australian-based interior moulding manufacturer to its platform. The company says interior trim and moulding represents an exciting new product category as it works with additional manufacturers to bring visual solutions to the market. The manufacturer makes and supplies specialized mouldings and architectural building products to all areas of the construction industry. This becomes the third enterprise customer on Renoworks' platform to be based out of Australia. The company has also expanded its sales team to capitalize on its current momentum in sales growth.

December 13, 2017

Canada Poised To Lead Growth

With the global economy on track to post the strongest growth since 2014, Canada is poised to be the G7's growth leader in 2017, says an ‘RBC Economic Outlook.’ Buoyed by consumer spending and housing activity delivering strong gains early in the year, it expects real gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 2.9 per cent in 2017. The forecast calls for slower, but still above-potential, growth of 1.9 per cent in 2018, with growth moderating to 1.6 per cent in 2019, in line with potential. "This was a highly unusual year for the global economy with heightened political uncertainty accompanied by strong financial market performance and accelerating economic growth," says Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC. "Canada's robust growth in 2017 is likely to moderate somewhat in 2018 as key economic drivers shift, but we still anticipate the economy will continue to outperform its potential." While the Canadian consumer and an active housing market powered growth in 2017, the dominant forces driving the economy are likely to change in 2018. Government spending on infrastructure and a moderate increase in business investment, which began to recover in 2017, are forecast to support economic growth next year. Canadian exports are expected to strengthen mildly in 2018, although the outcome of the NAFTA negotiations has the potential to stymie both exports and investment next year.

Castle Member Acquires Second Store

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. shareholder Wood Works of Renfrew Ltd. has acquired a second location in Burnstown, ON, in the Ottawa Valley. It was only one year ago that Bruce Gannon and Laurie Wichers-Schreur purchased the Renfrew, ON, location from a retiring shareholder. Only 15 kilometres away, a neighbouring location was closing its doors, so Gannon and Wichers-Schreur decided it was the right time to expand their business. The region has seen extensive residential growth in the past few years and the new Castle location is situated right in the heart of the growth region. The Burnstown location is expected to open in March after a large-scale renovation, with a grand opening celebration to be held in June.

Regal ideas Wins Remodeling Award

Aluminum railing systems manufacturer Regal ideas Inc. has joined forces with HGTV celebrity builders, the Brolaws, to create the winning entry at the ‘2017 Remodeling Show’ for best ‘Before and After’ project. This year’s event, co-located with DeckExpo and JLC LIVE, showcased nearly 300 products and services. “This recognition is especially meaningful to us because it was an audience-voted award,” says Ernie Couillard, executive vice-president for Regal ideas. The company worked with the celebrities and created a backyard transformation, showcasing how easily someone can turn a typical residential yard into a perfect oasis by incorporating materials that are readily available at a local home improvement retailer. The winning entry used Regal’s Classic Aluminum Railing in white with colour-matching post base covers and tempered glass panels and pickets.

Strong Real Estate Market Forecast For BC

British Columbia's real estate market has seen continued activity in 2017 with residential and commercial property values showing growth in most areas which is expected to continue into next year, says property assessment provider BC Assessment. The company’s preliminary market analysis for 2018 shows strong market conditions across most areas and property types in the province, with a few exceptions. Assessments for detached single-family homes in central parts of Metro Vancouver, for example, will be relatively stable, while other parts of the province will see increases when compared to last year's assessments. The residential strata market (i.e. condos) is quite robust with typical changes expected to be in the 10 to 30 per cent range across Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan; the higher end being notable in Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley. Typical commercial and industrial properties can expect strong increases across most of the province in the 10 to 20 per cent range, with the markets around Vancouver upwards of 35 per cent in some areas.

2018 U.S. Building Activity Forecast To Expand

The ‘Dodge Momentum Index’ surged again in November, climbing 13.9 per cent to 149.5 from the revised October reading of 131.3. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The November increase was the second month of strong gains after a four-month period of softness. November’s advance was the result of healthy gains in both the commercial and institutional sectors. From October to November, the commercial portion of the index advanced 19.6 per cent, while the institutional portion grew 5.5 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, the index is now nearly 21 per cent higher, with the commercial portion up 24 per cent and the institutional side up 17 per cent. The turnaround in October and November suggest that building activity should continue to expand in 2018.

Hitachi Koki Rebrands

Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd. will change its corporate name to Koki Holdings Co., Ltd., effective June 1, and will rebrand its full line of power tools known as HITACHI and/or Hitachi Koki to HiKOKI (pronounced ‘hai-koh-key’), effective October 1. The name changes are in line with the company's international growth strategy, aimed at ensuring sustainable growth while expanding business in the nearly 100 countries. The company is streamlining operations through its new partnership with private equity firm KKR. Simultaneous to the rebranding efforts, the company has established a subsidiary as its European headquarters called Koki Holdings Europe GmbH in Germany.

December 12, 2017

CFIB Wants Tax Rule Delayed

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is asking Canada’s finance ministers to join its call for the federal government to delay its new income sprinkling rules set to go into effect this January 1. CFIB remains concerned that the new rules on income sprinkling won't take into account many of the formal and informal ways family members participate in the business, particularly the role of spouses. It says business owners are worried that they could see their red tape burden increase significantly in order to prove that their family members make a ‘meaningful contribution’ to the family enterprise. “One of the largest tax changes for small business owners in 40 years goes into effect in three weeks and the federal government has provided zero detail or implementation advice to business owners or tax professionals,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. “The new rules to the way small business owners share income with family members may require changes to existing business structures and there will be no time to make any of this happen before year end. Even if government releases the detail today, it will land at one of the busiest times of the year for thousands of firms in the retail and service sector.” CFIB sent a letter with its suggestions in advance of the December 10 meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers, urging them to delay the implementation of any changes to income sprinkling rules to January 1, 2019.

GTA Has Uptick In Housing Demand

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario had 7,374 transactions go through the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) MLS System in November. This was up compared to October, bucking the regular seasonal trend. On a year-over-year basis, sales were down by 13.3 per cent. New listings were up by 37.2 per cent over November 2016, when the supply of listings was very low from a historic perspective. TREB says the numbers are similar to the Greater Vancouver, BC, experience, showing that the impact of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan and particularly the foreign buyer tax are starting to wane. As well, it’s also possible that the upcoming changes to mortgage lending guidelines, which come into effect in January, have prompted some households to speed up their buying decision.

WinCa Joins TIMBER MART

WinCa Building Supplies has joined TIMBER MART. The large-surface lumber and building material dealer will be located on a 54,000-square-foot property in Mississauga, ON. With the support of TIMBER MART’s member services team, the business will be set to open its doors at the beginning of next year and will host an official grand opening in the spring. Upon opening, it will carry a wide selection of building materials, lumber and lumber products, tiles, siding, drywall, and a variety of hardware. The retailer joined the group for greater buying power and the ability to maintain its business independence.

Williams-Sonoma Launches eCommerce Sites

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. has launched four eCommerce sites for Canadian customers. The sites will represent the Williams Sonoma, West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Pottery Barn Kids brands and will offer full mobile access, local content, and new product offerings. The U.S.-based home furnishings retailer currently has 24 brick-and-mortar stores in Canada.

Wilkes To Lead BILD

David Wilkes will be president and chief executive officer of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), effective January 3. Most recently, he was senior vice-president of government relations and grocery at the Retail Council of Canada.

December 11, 2017

Housing Starts Gain Ground

The trend in housing starts was 226,270 units in November, compared to 216,642 units in October, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Total housing starts in the Toronto, ON, census metropolitan area (CMA) trended higher in November. Multiple-family dwelling starts trended significantly higher and contributed to the overall increase. Regina, SK, housing starts declined after both single-detached and multi-family construction trended lower from the previous month. Vancouver, BC, starts were also lower mostly due to a pullback in apartment starts as the construction sector remains at full capacity. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 252,184 units in November, up from 222,695 units in October. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 14.4 per cent to 235,412 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 16.9 per cent to 175,016 units and single-detached urban starts increased by 7.5 per cent to 60,396 units.

Lowe’s Opens Calgary Store

Lowe’s Canada opened another Canadian model store in Calgary, AB. It was converted from a former RONA Home and Garden. This is the second new model Lowe’s store to open in Alberta. The store underwent an extensive 16-week physical transformation from the former RONA which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as staff training focused on new product knowledge and customer service. The location offers 114,570-square-feet of retail sales space, a 17,540-square-foot garden centre, an 8,644-square-foot covered lumberyard, and an additional outdoor drive-through lumberyard of 48,129 square feet. It will offer roughly 40,000 stocked products including new product categories such as appliances and Lowe’s private label products.

Canadian Net Worth On The Rise

The median net worth of Canadian families was $295,100 in 2016, up 14.7 per cent from 2012 ($257,200), says Statistics Canada. The 2016 median was more than double that of 1999 ($144,500). Housing is both the largest asset and the largest debt for Canadians. In 2016, 61.7 per cent of Canadian families reported a principal residence as an asset and 57.3 per cent of these families reported holding a mortgage on their principal residence. British Columbia reported the highest median net worth at $429,400. Families in Ontario reported the second-highest net worth at $365,700, followed by Manitoba ($320,800) and Saskatchewan ($293,500). New Brunswick reported the lowest median net worth among the provinces at $158,400. Differences in the value of homes determines, in part, provincial differences in net worth. The median value of principal residences in British Columbia was $550,000 in 2016, the highest value in the country and $105,000 more than the next highest, Ontario. The total value of assets held by Canadians in 2016 was $12 trillion. The median value of total assets owned by families rose 12.4 per cent, from $391,700 in 2012 to $440,200 in 2016.

Canadians Spending More This Holiday

Canadians are dishing out the dollars this year with holiday spending at an all-time high on everything from trimming the tree to the gifts to put under it, says RetailMeNot.ca. This change in holiday spending spirit is a drastic departure from 2016, which saw Canadians cutting back for a more humble holiday season. Overall, the average Canadian is planning to spend $450 more on celebrating the holiday season this year compared to last. Generally, Canadians will spend about $100 more on gifts overall, with an extra $32 going to family members (for a total of $460), and an extra $13 going to holiday décor (a total of $87). With the holidays just three weeks away, nearly half of the country (46 per cent) plans to begin shopping any day now, while a quarter (25 per cent) will hold out until just one week. With so many procrastinating on presents, it's no wonder almost half of Canadians (46 per cent) usually end up buying last minute gifts. More than half (57 per cent) of holiday shoppers plan to shop in-store. Fifty-two per cent of shoppers purchase gifts for themselves while they shop for others.

Flexiti Platform Available For eCommerce

Flexiti Financial’s point-of-sale (POS) consumer lending platform is now available for online transactions. The system integrates into any eCommerce engine. The platform is for retailers who want to offer their customers flexible payment options, such as zero per cent interest financing. Customers do not require an existing credit card to apply. They can simply select ‘Pay with Flexiti’ at checkout, apply, and receive approval for Flexiti's virtual credit card. Merchants receive payment in less than two days.

Rust-Oleum Acquires Whink Products

RPM International Inc.’s subsidiary, Rust-Oleum business group, has acquired Whink Products, a specialty cleaner manufacturer and marketer in the rust stain removal segment. Based in Iowa, Whink has annual net sales of approximately $6 million. Whink provides a broad range of specialty products, including premium rust, carpet, and laundry stain removers; cooktop, countertop, and wood cleaners; mineral deposit removers; and drain and septic system treatments. Among its leading brands are Rust Stain Remover and Rust Guard. They are sold through major retailers, home centres, and grocery chains. RPM says the acquisition will accelerate its expansion into other indoor cleaning solutions, adding a breadth of offerings to its rapidly growing Krud Kutter program.

December 8, 2017

Building Permits Value Rise

The value of building permits rose for a second straight month, up 3.5 per cent to $8.2 billion in October, says Statistics Canada. All building components increased with the exception of the institutional component, which declined 14.3 per cent, offsetting much of the gain from the previous month. The value of permits for non-residential buildings increased $171.7 million to $3.3 billion in October, the second consecutive monthly gain. Just over one-third of the monthly increase stemmed from the higher value of multi-family dwelling permits (+23.1 per cent), which saw its first rise following three consecutive monthly declines. Ontario's construction intentions for single-family dwellings also rose in October, up 3.3 per cent from September. The value of permits for both single-family and multi-family dwellings increased in the central metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Montréal, QC, and Toronto, ON. However, in the Vancouver, BC, CMA, both residential components fell, offsetting the gains in September.

Walmart Changes Legal Name

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is changing its legal name to Walmart Inc. effective February 1. The company says the change reflects its growing status as an omni-channel retailer and demonstrates its growing emphasis on serving customers seamlessly, however they want to shop: in stores, online, on their mobile device, or through pickup and delivery. Walmart operates under nearly 60 different banners around the world, including eCommerce sites, and has more than 11,600 stores and clubs in 28 countries.

Lowe’s Opens 22nd Réno-Dépôt

Lowe’s Canada has opened its 22nd Réno-Dépôt store in Sherbrooke, QC. The store was previously an Entrepôt RONA. It underwent a 12-week renovation which involved redesigning all departments, new racking, enhanced offerings, and branding conversion. The store offers 83,000 square feet of retail space, which includes a 23,000-square-foot drive-through covered lumberyard and a 16,700-square-foot garden centre. In addition to the full range of products available at renodepot.com through the Click-Buy-Renovate program, Sherbrooke Réno-Dépôt customers will have access to over 25,000 products in store, including a wider selection of home appliances. The store has departments for building supplies, doors and windows, bathrooms, plumbing, heating, hardware, storage, and paint.

Retail Sales Growth On Pace For A Record High

The highest third quarter gain in retail sales for 10 years leads a strong positive momentum heading into the Christmas sales season, says retail consultant Ed Strapagiel. This will help the market to get past Sears Canada’s liquidation, he says. Retail sales for the quarter increased 7.2 per cent year over year, while year-to-date sales are ahead seven per cent over the same period a year ago. “If this pace more or less keeps up for the last few months of the year, 2017 could turn out to be the best year for Canadian retail sales since 1997.” Retail sales were led by building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers, up 14.2 per cent year-over-year. The store merchandise sector was up 7.4 per cent for the third quarter over the same period last year; in this sector, gains in the last few months have been about double what they were a year ago. Electronics and appliance stores sales were up 9.2 per cent and were also strong performers in the quarter. As well, year-to-date results for online sales are up 39 per cent from a year ago, a much higher gain than for retail in general.

Award-winning Contractors To Represent Canada

Smith Brothers Contracting Corp. and DonMor Drywall from Ontario will represent Canada at the ‘11th Saint-Gobain Gypsum International Trophy Awards’ this March in Lisbon, Portugal. The contractors were selected from seven top regional projects that represent outstanding work using CertainTeed Gypsum products. They were honoured at the second ‘CertainTeed Gypsum North American Trophy’ event in Austin, TX, and will join U.S. contractors Sears Contract, Inc. and Michael's Homes as the four North American honourees attending the international ceremony. Smith Brothers Contracting Corp., based in Ancaster, ON, won based on its high level of drywall craftsmanship and skill used to achieve the ambitious interior space of the St. Mary & St. Samuel Coptic Orthodox Church, a 32,000 square-foot single-story space in Markham, ON. Based in Bolton, ON, DonMor Drywall won by applying expert drywall techniques to a project under a tight construction schedule: the W.F. Mitchell Athletic Centre Expansion Phase 1B. More than 90 projects from 35 countries will be showcased at the Lisbon event.

Sales Drop At HBC

HBC had sales of $3.2 billion for the third quarter of 2017, a decrease of 4.2 per cent over sales in the third quarter of 2016. Comparable sales on a constant-currency basis declined 3.2 per cent year over year. Digital sales increased by 2.1 per cent, or by nine per cent excluding Gilt. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $34 million, a decrease of $55 million compared to the prior-year period. Net loss was $243 million compared to $125 million in the prior year. Normalized net loss was $203 million compared to $102 million in the prior year.

December 7, 2017

Prud'homme Leads International

Sylvain Prud’homme is president, international with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. He will continue to serve as president and chief executive officer of Lowe’s Canada and add responsibilities for its Mexico business. He joined the retailer as president of Lowe's Canada in 2013 and, following the acquisition of RONA in 2016, was named president and CEO of Lowe's Canada. He is responsible for driving the Canadian home improvement business for Lowe's, including RONA's network of stores and independent dealers operating under other banners. Prior to Lowe's Canada, he served as executive vice-president of operations and merchandising for Loblaw Companies Limited. He was also president of western operations for Sobeys Inc. and spent several years as senior vice-president of operations and merchandising for Walmart Canada.

Home Ownership Declining, Despite Positive Views

Despite rising housing prices and government intervention, the majority of Canadians view real estate in Canada as a good long-term investment says the ‘Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market.’ The report says the majority of Canadians feel real estate is a good investment and view mortgage debt as ‘good debt.’ Canadians are also highly motivated to repay their mortgages. Each year, approximately one-third take actions that will shorten their amortization periods. The data shows that homeowners have a lot of equity in their homes and are well positioned should a housing decline occur. Yet, the homeownership rate is falling, as young, middle-class Canadians find it increasingly difficult to make first-time purchases. The report findings highlight that govern