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 ""

August 12, 2020

Renovation Intentions Slide

Canadian home renovation spending is forecast to decline in 2020, though not as significantly as the overall economy, says Altus Group in its latest ‘Housing Report.’ Total renovation spending in 2019 totalled $80.1 billion, of which $61.2 billion was spent on upgrading or making improvements to homes; this virtually matches the total spending on new home construction nationally. Renovation spending has also been steadily increasing, with annual growth of renovation spending exceeding that of the overall economy. Undoubtedly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Altus Group’s homeowner renovation intentions index has plunged. With the exception of Atlantic Canada, homeowners in most regions across the country report lower renovation intentions than last year, primarily among homeowners not also intending to move. Intentions to undertake larger renovations of $10,000 or more in the next year are down from last year, while intentions to buy another home are virtually unchanged. Only two per cent of current homebuyers are planning to do both – these homeowners may either be planning significant renovations to prepare their current home for sale, or planning sizable renovations on their next home.

July Housing Starts Increase

The trend in housing starts was 204,376 units in July, up from 199,778 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 standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 245,604 units in July, an increase of 15.8 per cent from 212,095 units in June. Higher multi-family starts in major urban areas, including Toronto, ON, Vancouver, BC, and oil-producing centres in the Prairies drove the national increase. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 17.4 per cent, multiple urban starts increased by 18.8 per cent, and single-detached urban starts increased by 12.3 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at a SAAR of 13,609 units.

Small Businesses Begin Rehiring

As Canadian provinces begin entering stage three of reopening, they are also embarking on another promising economic phase: rehiring. Fifty-eight per cent of small businesses that laid off staff due to COVID-19 are now planning to rehire in the next three months, says a survey by Wagepoint, an online small business payroll software company. Layoffs in March represented 60 per cent of layoffs this year but, by the end of June, 55 per cent of those employees had been rehired, an upward trend that continued into July. When COVID-19 first struck, 60 per cent of Canadian small businesses were forced to make rapid changes to their workforce. Forty per cent reduced headcount (either temporarily or permanently) and 44 per cent reduced hours or compensation. Firms with 10 or more employees were the hardest hit (70 per cent reduced either headcount, hours, or compensation). Firms with fewer than 10 employees were still impacted, but less so (57 per cent reduced either headcount, hours, or compensation). Wagepoint says that as Canada's small businesses continue to overcome the unpredictable nature of economic fluctuation and recovery, similar patterns of furloughing and re-hiring are likely to be seen in the coming months and potentially years.

Beacon Third Quarter Sales Down

Beacon had net sales of $1.79 billion in the third quarter of 2020, a decrease 6.9 per cent compared to net sales of $1.92 billion in the third quarter of 2019. Residential roofing product sales decreased 1.3 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales decreased 9.6 per cent, and complementary product sales decreased 12.5 per cent compared to the prior year. The company had a net loss of 6.7 million for the quarter compared to net income of $31 million in the year-ago period. Third quarter results were primarily impacted by reduced sales and lower gross margins, largely attributable to a softer demand environment induced by COVID-19. Adjusted net income was $69.5 million, compared to $72.6 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $147.5 million, compared to $157.8 million.

ADS Sales Down, Profit Up

Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) had net sales of $508.6 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2021, down 22.9 per cent compared to net sales of $413.7 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. Sales for the domestic allied products and other sales segment increased $4.7 million, or 4.2 per cent, to $116.9 million. These increases were driven by growth in both the U.S. construction and agriculture end markets. Gross profit for the quarter was $188.5 million compared to a loss of $62.2 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $159.5 million, up 98.6 per cent compared to $80.3 million last year.

August 11, 2020

Fraser Valley Home Sales Up 22 Per Cent

There were a total of 2,100 home sales in July in the Fraser Valley, BC, an increase of 22.2 per cent compared to sales in June and an increase of 44 per cent compared to the 1,458 sales during July of last year, says the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB). Home sales were 25.5 per cent above the 10-year average for July and second only to July 2015. There were 3,549 new listings in July, up 2.76 per cent compared to June and 18.3 per cent above the 10-year average for the month.

Well Made Here Moves Up Website Project

The Well Made Here/Bien Fait Ici program is moving up its project aiming to transform the ici-here.ca website into a transactional platform. “The deadline must be brought closer because the health crisis has accelerated the popularity of online business,” says Richard Darveau, president and chief executive officer of the Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT), and chairman of the board of directors for Well Made Here. The project will be an experiment with a virtual marketplace that respects existing stakeholders (retailers, banners, distributors, and manufacturers) and will serve a dual qualitative objective – the promotion of local buying via closer relationships between complementary companies, and the acceleration of the end-user delivery phase for hardware items or construction materials through a coherent and efficient virtual infrastructure and transparent logistics. “In due course, we will be asking the government of Canada for financial support and recognition,” says Darveau. “We believe that the timing is in our favour. The government must help economic recovery and consolidate the manufacturing fabric of the country while helping retail businesses that have established themselves in our towns and villages.”

Wolseley Merges Cornwall Stores

Wolseley Canada has opened a plumbing and HVAC/R store in Cornwall, ON. The store brings together two existing Cornwall branches in one renovated space, offering both plumbing and HVAC/R products that are exclusive to Wolseley Canada. Jason Lobb is the branch manager.

Simpson Strong-Tie Expands Yield-Link Capabilities

Simpson Strong-Tie has introduced newly validated slope beam and multi-axis moment applications for its Yield-Link moment connection for structural steel construction. Designed to absorb forces in a seismic or high wind event, the Yield-Link moment connection requires no field welding and allows beams to be designed without supplemental lateral bracing. This means fewer fabricated steel elements and field connections are needed. Simpson Strong-Tie has developed two solutions utilizing the Yield-Link moment connection with sloped structural beams. At the roof level, structural steel beams are often sloped to accommodate drainage, and the new solutions provide greater design flexibility and streamlined field connections when using the Yield-Link in slope beam applications. As well, the company introduced solutions utilizing the Yield-Link for multi-axis moment connections. Designed for corner, three-sided, and four-sided column connections, Yield-Link multi-axis moment connection solutions provide a connection that resists moment demand in both directions of the column.

Norbord Earnings Rise

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $84 million for the second quarter of 2020, up from adjusted EBITDA of $36 million in the second quarter of 2019. The increase was primarily due to higher realized North American oriented strand board (OSB) prices, as well as lower manufacturing costs, partially offset by lower shipment volumes. North American operations had adjusted EBITDA of $84 million compared to $18 million in the year-ago period. In North America, second quarter shipments were down 12 per cent year-over-year. Overall net sales for the quarter were $508.6 million, up from $413.7 million last year. Adjusted earnings were $31 million compared to a loss of $8 million last year.



August 10, 2020

Montreal July Home Sales Rebound

A total of 5,356 residential sales transactions were concluded in July in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area, an increase of 46 per cent compared to July 2019, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). All six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered a significant increase in sales compared to July of last year, with particularly impressive increases on the North Shore of Montreal (+84 per cent) and in Vaudreuil-Soulanges (+65 per cent). Single-family homes were the property category that posted the largest sales increase in July, with a 48 per cent jump in transactions. Sales of condominiums and plexes also increased considerably, rising by 45 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively. Selling times decreased for all three property categories. In terms of the supply of properties for sale, the 5,960 new listings in July represented a 38 per cent increase compared to July of last year and a reversal of trend after six consecutive years of declines in the month of July.

Lowe’s Canada Supports Communities

Over the last few months, Lowe’s Canada has presented over $245,000 in donations in cash or in kind to over 75 community organizations that help the most vulnerable, such as food banks and hospital foundations. “With the pandemic causing new problems to emerge and exacerbating existing issues, we felt it was important to express our solidarity by supporting community organizations that are facing higher demand and declining resources,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, public affairs, asset protection and sustainable development at Lowe’s Canada. “Our field teams selected the organizations to support based on their knowledge of their regions and the needs of their communities.” Last April, Lowe’s Canada committed $1 million to support its associates and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through a range of initiatives. Among other things, corporate stores from the Lowe’s Canada network received more than $240,000 to support initiatives addressing specific needs in their regions.

Home Depot To Open Three Georgia Distribution Centres

The Home Depot will open three distribution centres in Georgia over the next 18 months to support the growing demand for flexible delivery and pick-up options for its professional and DIY customers. In 2017, the company announced a $1.2 billion investment to expand its distribution network with approximately 150 new supply chain facilities nationwide, with the goal of expanding the company’s existing same-day and next-day delivery options to 90 per cent of the U.S. population. These facilities include a variety of formats to distribute products from small parcel packages to big and bulky product. The Stonecrest, GA, facility will be a ‘flatbed delivery centre’ that will offer same-day and next-day delivery of bulk and oversized orders directly to a job site.

HDI Sales Down, Profit Up

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $296 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 2.8 per cent over sales of $304.5 million in the second quarter of 2019. Sales in Canada decreased 13.3 per cent year-over-year and sales in the U.S. decreased 4.89 per cent. Gross profit for the quarter was $57.8 million, up 5.1 per cent compared to $55 million in the year-ago period and gross profit margin was 10.5 per cent compared to 18.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $24.4 million, up 15.3 per cent over $21.2 million last year. Profit for the quarter grew 25.2 per cent to $10.2 million from $8.2 million in the year-ago period.

Higher Prices Increase Taiga Sales

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had consolidated net sales of $356.9 million for the second quarter of 2020, a one per cent increase over net sales of $354.7 million in the second quarter of 2019. The increase was largely due to higher selling prices for commodity products. Gross margin for the quarter was $42.7 million compared to $34.9 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin percentage was 12 per cent compared to 9.8 per cent. The company had net earnings of $13.1 million compared to $7.1 million last year while EBITDA was $23.9 million compared to $16.4 million. EBITDA increased primarily due to higher margin during the quarter combined with the Canada Emergency Wages Subsidy (CEWS) reducing overall expenses.

August 7, 2020

Williams Named TORBSA President

Paul Williams is president of TORBSA Limited. Most recently, he was regional manager, Ontario, for CGC Inc. He succeeds Bob Holmes, general manager, who is retiring after leading the group for 26 years.

Quebec City Home Sales Retain Momentum

In total, 899 residential sales transactions were concluded in July in Quebec City, QC, a 43 per cent increase compared to July of last year, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This rise in sales followed an already significant rebound in transactions in June, after the lifting of measures aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus. Sales of single-family homes rose substantially in July (+38 per cent), with a total of 616 transactions. During the month, there were 2,930 active listings, which is significantly less than in July of last year (-33 per cent). Again this month, sales of condominiums (216 transactions) increased significantly, growing by 55 per cent year-over-year.

Band Saw Designed For Tight Work Spaces

Bosch’s 18V Compact Band Saw enables users to make cuts in tight work spaces, overhead, or in corners. The band saw weighs 7.3 pounds and has a cut rate of 530 surface feet per minute. It is able to slice through common-size materials including conduit, uni-strut, threaded rod, copper, and black pipe while yielding up to 2-1/2 inches on a single pass. It features a centre-placed auxiliary handle, a soft-grip main handle, and a built-in LED light. It also offers a tool-free blade guard and tool-free blade change, protecting the blade from debris and facilitating easy access for blade installation or removal.

CEWS Grants Help Western Earnings

Western Forest Products Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $29.5 million for the second quarter of 2020, an increase over adjusted EBITDA of $25.1 million for the second quarter of 2019. Net income was $8.5 million for the quarter compared to a net loss of $0.7 million in the year-ago period. Second quarter adjusted EBITDA included $10.7 million of federal government grants accessed through the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. Lumber revenue in the second quarter was $188.8 million, a decrease of 19 per cent from the same period last year. Lumber and log sales were impacted by market uncertainty and delayed shipments arising from COVID-19. Log revenue was $60.5 million, a decrease of four per cent from the same period last year. By-product revenue was $7 million, a decrease of 48 per cent year-over-year.

Lumber Liquidators Sales Slow

Lumber Liquidators, which is changing its brand name to LL Flooring to reflect its core offering, had net sales of $230.3 million in the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 20.2 per cent over net sales of $288.6 million in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease was mainly driven by the impact of COVID-19. Gross profit for the quarter decreased 14 per cent to $88 million from $102 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted gross margin increased 309 basis points to 38.3 per cent from 35.2 per cent. Net income was $2.6 million compared to a net loss of $2.9 million last year.

August 6, 2020

eCommerce Drives Canadian Tire Sales

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had consolidated retail sales of $4,376 million for the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 1.7 per cent over consolidated retail sales of $4,304 million in the second quarter of 2019. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales increased 9.3 per cent year-over-year. Canadian Tire retail sales increased 20.3 per cent for the quarter over the year-ago period. Consolidated revenue decreased 14.2 per cent year-over-year; excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue decreased eight per cent. eCommerce sales increased 400 per cent year-over-year, led by Canadian Tire Retail, which increased by 500 per cent. Canadian Tire revenue was $2,047 million for the quarter, up 1.4 per cent over revenue of $2,020 million in the same quarter last year.

GTA Has Record Home Sales

There were 11,081 residential sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) in July, a 29.5 per cent increase over July 2019 and a new record for the month of July, says the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up by 49.5 per cent compared to June. Sales growth was driven by low-rise home types, particularly in the regions surrounding the City of Toronto. However, condominium apartment sales were also up on an annual basis, including in Toronto. Total new listings were also up strongly on a year-over-year basis by 24.7 per cent, but this annual growth rate was less than that of sales, which means market conditions tightened on average compared to July 2019. In addition, active listings at the end of July were down by 16.3 per cent.

Pella Corporation To Build Ohio Manufacturing Facility

Window and door manufacturer Pella Corporation will build a manufacturing facility in Troy, OH. The 324,000-square-foot facility will produce vinyl windows and doors. It is expected to be fully operational by 2025.

Renaud Named Chief Marketing Officer

Jennifer Renaud is senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at Masonite International Corporation. She has more than 30 years of marketing and business development experience, most recently as vice-president, marketing for Vertiv.

LP Has Strong Net Income

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had total net sales of $548 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of seven per cent over net sales of $588 million in the second quarter of 2019. The company had net income of $33 million for the quarter, an increase of 94 per cent over net income of $17 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $97 million, up from $53 million last year. The siding segment had net sales of $220 million, down five per cent year-over-year; the oriented strand board (OSB) segment had net sales of $204 million, up three per cent; and the engineered wood products (EWP) segment had net sales of $79 million, down 26 per cent.

August 5, 2020

Visa Canada Supports Small Business

As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to create challenges for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across Canada, one-third (33 per cent) of Canadian SMBs do not consider their local community supportive of their business during this difficult time, says the ‘Back to Business’ study by Visa. While most (77 per cent) Canadian SMBs are optimistic about the future, their top two concerns following the COVID-19 pandemic are not having the same revenue as before COVID-19 (52 per cent) and attracting new customers (38 per cent). SMBs estimate it will be an average of 10 months before their business is back to being fully operational, the longest of all countries surveyed. In an effort to get local communities back to business in the wake of the pandemic, Visa Canada is shining a light on small businesses through its #MySmallBizReco campaign as well as introducing new programs and solutions. The campaign will focus on helping consumers identify business that are open in the wake of the pandemic; empower digital-first businesses with access to information about running an online business; support business growth with marketing via Google Ads credits; and encourage digital and touchless experiences at point-of-sale.

Lowe's Canada Releases Sustainability Highlights

Lowe's Canada has made significant progress over the last year in achieving its sustainability goals as outlined in its ‘2019 Corporate Responsibility Highlights.’ The report illustrates how the company is living its three-pronged sustainability commitment to support its associates and communities, helping customers reduce the environment footprint of their projects, and reducing the environmental impacts of its operations. These Highlights complement the ‘2019 Corporate Responsibility Report,’ which covers both Lowe's Companies, Inc.'s and Lowe's Canada's sustainability performance for the year. Highlights include an investment of $4.9 million in communities across Canada by supporting more than 250 local non-profit organizations; offering over 5,000 ECO products online and in-store; meeting in advance the 2020 target to have 100 per cent of indoor residential carpets and rugs free of PFAS chemicals; recycling 19,200 tons of wood, cardboard, plastic, hazardous material, and other waste at corporate sites; advancing $24 million worth of energy efficiency initiatives, including the roll-out of energy management systems and LED lighting retrofit at corporate stores across the country; and a 58 per cent reduction in the use of plastic bags at its corporate stores in 2019 compared to 2017.

#EISEN Innovation Award 2020 Goes Digital

EISENWARENMESSE – International Hardware Fair and the Zentralverband Hartwarenhandel e.V. (ZHH/Central Association of the Hardware Trade) will present the #EISEN Innovation Award in digital format this year due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of the 75 entries submitted and 60 companies from 14 countries that participated, 10 products were nominated for this year’s award. The submission categories were tools, fastening technology, and industrial supplies. The entries were assessed according to various criteria such as functionality, design, ergonomics, sustainability, cost effectiveness, and the environment. A jury of representatives from media, business, research, trade, and design will once again select the winners. Visitors will be able to see the award-winning and nominated products in person at the next EISENWARENMESSE – International Hardware Fair, which takes place February 21 to 24 in Cologne, Germany. For more information, visit EISENWARENMESSE

3M Promotes Lavers

Jeffrey R. Lavers is executive vice-president, consumer business group with 3M. He has been with the company since 1987, most recently as vice-president, automotive and aerospace solutions division within the transportation and electronics business group.

Builders FirstSource Sales Rise

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $1.95 billion for the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 2.2 per cent over net sales of $1.9 billion in the second quarter of 2019. Acquisitions contributed net sales growth of 2.5 per cent attributable to the five acquisitions completed during the prior four quarters. Sales of manufactured products decreased 2.4 per cent year-over-year; sales of windows, doors, and millwork increased 3.3 per cent; sales of gypsum, roofing, and insulation decreased 9.1 per cent; sales of siding, metal, and concrete products increased 4.9 per cent; and sales of lumber and lumber sheet goods increased 3.4 per cent. Overall gross margin was flat compared to last year and the gross margin percentage decreased to 26.6 per cent from 27.2 per cent. Adjusted net income was up 6.9 per cent over the year-ago period to $5.1 million and adjusted EBITDA was up 11.2 per cent to $161.9 million.

August 4, 2020

Vancouver Leads June Building Permits

The $687 million dollar Oakridge Centre mixed use redevelopment project in Vancouver, BC, helped raise the total national value of building permits 6.2 per cent to $8.1 billion in June, to a level comparable to pre-COVID levels, says Statistics Canada. Overall, seven provinces reported gains for the month. The total value of residential permits was up seven per cent to $5.3 billion, with gains posted in six provinces. British Columbia posted its third largest value on record for residential permits in June, up 20.4 per cent to $1.3 billion. The value of permits for single-family homes increased 6.6 per cent to $2.1 billion, driven by gains in Quebec (+14.6 per cent) and Ontario (+7.2 per cent). The value of permits issued for multi-family dwellings rose for the third consecutive month, up 7.3 per cent to $3.2 billion. Institutional permits were up 47.7 per cent to $841 million, while commercial (-9.1 per cent to $1.3 billion) and industrial (-4.0 per cent to $591 million) permits were down in June, following strong gains for both components in May. For the second quarter, declines were recorded in April, following the implementation of COVID-19-related measures by businesses and governments. The easing of those measures in May allowed construction intentions to bounce back and continue to advance in June. Despite the rebound seen in the last two months of the quarter, the value of building permits was down 12.8 per cent compared with the first quarter, a fourth consecutive quarterly decline.

Construction Holds Up Well During Pandemic

Construction activity has held up relatively well during the pandemic, as – other than a brief shutdown in parts of Canada in April – it has largely been able to continue operating near capacity, says an outlook for the sector in the BMO Blue Book. The report says that residential construction will remain solid in the near term, with housing starts expected to rebound to 215,000 units in 2021 from 195,000 in 2020. “The average of the two years marks only a slight downshift from home-building activity in recent years,” says Doug Porter, chief economist, BMO Financial Group. Non-residential construction should remain mixed. “Construction in the oil sector will likely remain quite subdued given the oil price backdrop, and office and retail construction will also be weak. However, public-sector infrastructure investment should remain solid, particularly if federal and provincial budgets focus on stimulus post-COVID. Some provinces have already hinted at pulling forward capital spending programs to support economic growth.”

Beauti-Tone Offers Tips To Find Best Colour

Beauti-Tone Paint has released the Design Roots Colour Collection, made up of 144 colours. The company says finding the perfect paint colour is fundamental to a design, so it compiled a list of designer tips to help customers find their best paint colour. When selecting a colour, understanding the undertone is equally as important as envisioning how a room should look and feel. A bedroom, for instance, is the perfect escape for peace and relaxation – often calling for soft and soothing undertones. As well, finding the best colour can be as simple as discovering the perfect accent colour. When creating a design, customers can start by selecting two complementary colours. By painting the walls in a room one colour and a feature wall a contrasting colour, the space will be eye-catching and offer a sense of unity throughout. Ultimately, the easiest way for a customer to choose the best paint colour is to start with the colour they love.

Rendle Promoted To Clorox CEO

Linda Rendle will be chief executive officer of Clorox Company, effective September 14. She has been with the company for 17 years and is currently president of the company.

Low Volume Impacts Stanley Black & Decker Results

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.1 billion in the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 16 per cent compared to net sales of $3.8 billion in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease was partly attributable to lower volume. Organic revenues were also impacted by reduced business activity related to COVID-19. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 32.2 per cent compared to 34.6 per cent in the year-ago period. Net earnings were $238.7 million, down from $357.4 million last year. The tools and storage segment net sales were $2.2 billion, down 16 per cent over the year-ago period. Exceptionally strong DIY demand emerged in the company’s global eCommerce and North American retail channels during late April and continued throughout the quarter, which significantly improved the overall result. The industrial segment had net sales of $518 million, down 20 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2019. The security segment net sales were $433 million, down 11 per cent year-over-year.

Masonite Sales Down, Income Up

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $500 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 11 per cent compared to net sales of $563 million in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease is attributable to the negative impact of COVID-19. North American residential net sales were $381 million, flat compared to the second quarter of 2019, and architectural net sales were $86 million, a 12 per cent decrease. Overall net income was $34 million for the quarter, up from $24 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $92 million versus $80 million last year. Total company gross profit increased six per cent to $136 million compared to $129 million in the year-ago period, and gross profit margin increased 440 basis points to 27.3 per cent.

July 31, 2020

Weyerhaeuser Launches Sustainability Strategy

Weyerhaeuser Company has launched a sustainability strategy for the next decade and beyond that will focus on three critical challenge areas: climate change solutions, sustainable homes, and helping rural communities thrive. The company says it is committed to making tangible progress in these three areas by 2030 as part of its new ‘3 by 30’ initiative. Some actions involve continuing and strengthening existing work while others involve engaging new partnerships and stakeholders, and driving innovation in new areas. As part of the strategy, Weyerhaeuser will support the development of forest carbon markets and accounting, including committing to set a companywide, science-based greenhouse gas reduction target that aligns with the goal of limiting global warming to less than 2°C. It will promote the use of mass timber and other innovative wood-building materials, including helping to ensure sustainable building standards and tools include science-based assessments of wood products. As well, it will improve its overall Giving Fund strategy by implementing a community resource assessment process that supports community strengths and identifies greatest needs for investment.

Lightspeed Offers More Tools

In response to the digital overhaul forced by COVID-19, Lightspeed has added tools to offer increased mobility for processing transactions and provide more options for viewing business insights. The company has also made a commitment to better support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they continue to adjust to consumer behaviour. In the coming weeks, Lightspeed will introduce features for in-store POS and eCommerce, including Digital Wallet and Analytics Core. Optimized for mobile, the introduction of Digital Wallet in North America supports faster eCommerce conversion and supports a variety of payment methods globally, including Google Pay and Apple Pay. Analytics Core will give users access to a variety of business dashboards and insights on sales, inventory, and employee performance, enabling retailers to make data-driven decisions about the future.

KBIS Adds Virtual Component

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) will move forward with an omni-experience format for its ‘Kitchen & Bath Industry Show’ (KBIS). In addition to the onsite experience in Orlando, FL, KBIS 2021 is expanding its presence through the integration of a live virtual program over the three-day event to provide attendees access to exclusive show content all-year long. These virtual experiences will be available to all show attendees and exhibitors and will be designed to help bridge the gap with those unable to attend the show in person. The virtual component will be used to amplify educational content, exhibitor product launches, and a variety of networking opportunities. KBIS 2021 will feature hundreds of returning and new exhibitors across two halls, along with a full complement of educational offerings including the ‘NKBA Voices from the Industry’ series. It takes place February 9 to 11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. For more information, visit KBIS

Distribution Drives CanWel Revenues

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenues of $412.9 million for the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 7.1 per cent over consolidated revenues of $385.7 million in the second quarter of 2019. The increase was mainly driven by sales in the distribution segment, which increased 8.4 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin dollars increased 8.3 per cent to $58.9 million, compared to $54.4 million during the corresponding period in 2019. Gross margin percentage increased to 14.3 per cent of revenues versus 14.1 per cent last year. The company says the increase in margin dollars and margin percentage is mainly attributable to the improvements in sales and construction materials pricing during the second quarter of 2020. EBITDA increased 20.1 per cent to $32.8 million compared to $27.3 million in the year-ago period.

Masco North American Sales Flat

Masco Corporation had net sales of $1.76 billion for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of four per cent compared to net sales of $1.83 billion in the second quarter of 2019. In local currency, North American sales were flat and international sales decreased 17 per cent. Gross margin for the quarter decreased 100 basis points to 35.6 per cent from 36.6 per cent and operating margins increased 30 basis points to 19.2 per cent from 18.9 per cent. Net income was $234 million in the second quarter compared to $252 million in the year-ago period. The plumbing products segment net sales decreased 14 per cent year-over-year and the decorative architectural products segment net sales increased eight per cent due to strong growth in paint and other coating products.

July 30, 2020

Residential Drives Increased Construction Prices

Prices for residential building construction rose 0.5 per cent in the second quarter, while the cost of non-residential building construction edged up 0.1 per cent, says Statistics Canada. Residential building construction prices rose in most of the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) covered by the survey in the second quarter, while non-residential prices edged up on low demand for commercial building construction and increased competition. New construction projects slowed considerably in the wake of COVID-19, with the value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities falling 17.1 per cent from March to April, including a record 14.2 per cent decline for single-family dwellings. Projects that were approved and begun during the first quarter may have also been delayed or paused due to provincially mandated shutdowns, supply chain disruptions, and labour shortages. Construction activity had resumed in every jurisdiction nationally by May 19. Residential building construction costs rose 2.1 per cent year over year in the second quarter, following a 2.2 per cent increase in the first quarter. Non-residential building construction costs rose at a slower pace, up 1.5 per cent year over year following a 1.9 per cent rise in the first quarter.

Quebec Retailer Joins TORBSA

Materiaux Construction Letourneau Inc., located in Waterville QC, has joined TORBSA Ltd. as a shareholder member. Founded in 1974, the retailer has two branches with more than 90 employees and carries hardware, building materials, siding, roofing, windows, doors, and decor. Services offered include consulting, cutting services, door pre-assembly, and home delivery. Materiaux Construction Letourneau joined TORBSA to grow the business and develop key relationships with both shareholders and supplier partners.

GROHE Launches Chinaware Collection

GROHE has launched its German-engineered designed chinaware in the Canadian market. The manufacturer is introducing two ceramics collections including sinks and toilets that coordinate with its Essence and Eurocube faucet lines. The chinaware line is made from vitreous china and the toilets feature InfinaBright technology, which inhibits the growth of stain and odour causing bacteria, mould, and mildew on the surface. The two-piece toilets come with a water-efficient right-hand and left-hand trip lever tank (1.28 gpf) and dual flush (1.28/1.0 gpf) options. Both the Essence and Eurocube collections include sinks with flexible installation options – the wall hung sink can also be installed above-counter, while the undermount sink can be fitted as a drop-in. The chinaware pieces are available in an alpine white finish.

COVID Impacts Lawson Sales

Lawson Products, Inc. had net sales of $72.1 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 24.9 per cent over net sales of $96.1 million in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease reflects the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with the most significant decline occurring in April when sales decreased 35 per cent. Gross profit was $38.3 million for the quarter, down compared to $51 million in the year-ago period while gross margin remained flat at 53.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.3 million, a decrease of 33.1 per cent over $9.4 million last year. The company had net income of $0.6 million versus $1.3 million, a year-over-year decrease of 64.9 per cent.

Sales Down At Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $4.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 5.6 per cent over net sales of $4.9 billion in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease in the quarter was due primarily to impacts of COVID-19. Net sales of the Americas group decreased 8.4 per cent year-over-year, net sales of the consumers brands group increased 21.8 per cent, and net sales of the performance coatings group decreased 16.5 per cent. Overall gross margin expanded 330 basis points to 48 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA grew 6.2 per cent to $979 million and was 21.3 per cent of sales compared to 18.9 per cent of sales last year. The company had net income of $245.2 million compared to $471 million in the year-ago period.

July 29, 2020

CFIB Urges Governments To Fix Rent Relief

With the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program coming to an end this week and another month's rent coming due, one in three small businesses say rent relief remains a critical missing piece for their recovery, says a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). On behalf of hard-hit small businesses in desperate need of rent relief, CFIB issued an open letter to urge federal and provincial finance ministers to fix rent relief. Federal government records show less than 10 per cent of the funding committed to CECRA has been spent to help 29,000 small business tenants. An additional 25,000 applications are predicted before the submission deadline at the end of August (program ends in July, but applications are open until the end of August), which still leaves the program underutilized. CFIB recommends provincial governments work with the federal government to allow tenants to directly apply for and access CECRA funding. CFIB has also recommended the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account be expanded as an alternative way to provide rent relief.

ThermalWood Increases Ontario Presence

New Brunswick-based ThermalWood Canada, a manufacturer of thermally modified wood, will expand its presence in Ontario after partnering with Weston Forest Products to distribute its products. The deal represents ThermalWood’s first distribution agreement in North America. Weston Forest, a distributor and remanufacturer of softwood and hardwood lumber based in Mississauga, ON, has an Ontario network numbering 300 home improvement stores and a team of 14 sales representatives. Established in 2008, ThermalWood uses a specially designed kiln to heat lumber at high temperatures. Its baking process modifies the wood’s characteristics producing lumber that offers improved dimensional stability and resistance to rot and damage by insects and requires no chemical additives. In addition to being used as an alternative for pressure-treated planks for decking and exterior siding, ThermalWood’s lumber is used for items such as furniture, ceiling tiles, and guitars.

MDF Manufacturing Facility To Use Straw

Great Plains MDF will build a front-end engineering and design (FEED) of an MDF (medium density fibreboard) production facility in Alberta. The company is proposing a green-field state-of-the-art straw (sMDF) plant in a location to be announced. The facility will be an integrated manufacturing complex, targeting rapidly growing demand for green, formaldehyde-free composite boards offering environmental advantages of carbon capture. The project will supply its own electrical and heat needs through a co-generation plant and will include a value-added manufacturing facility to maximize economic and employment opportunities. Great Plains MDF has developed a product made from wheat straw and a non-formaldehyde polyurethane resin that is environmentally friendly with no toxic emissions. By employing a process that uses excess straw, the company has a net positive of seven to ninemillion metric tonnes of CO2 per year.

Copeland Named Vice-president Financial Planning

Scott Copeland is vice-president of financial planning and analysis at RPM International Inc. He joined the company in 2012 and served, most recently, as senior director of financial planning and analysis.

West Fraser Sales Climb

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1,276 million for the second quarter of 2020, an increase of seven per cent over sales of $1,195 million in the first quarter of 2020, but a decrease over sales of $1,317 million in the second quarter of 2019. Lumber shipments were 165 million board feet higher than the previous quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $184 million, up from $56 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were $48 million compared to a loss of $58 million last year. The lumber segment had operating earnings of $66 million for the second quarter compared to $19 million in the first quarter; the panels segment had operating earnings of $17 million versus $8 million; and the pulp and paper segment had an operating loss of $1 million versus nil. The company says manufacturing operations have fully resumed at virtually all facilities.

July 28, 2020

Provinces May Need Boost For Recovery

Increasing business investment will be key to help Canada recover from the COVID recession, but provincial performance over the past 30 years show mixed results, says a study by the Fraser Institute. The study measures growth in business investment at the provincial level from 1990 to 2014 and from 2014 to 2018, the most recent year of comparable data. It finds that whereas Alberta and Saskatchewan had above-average annual growth in investment from 1990 to 2014 – averaging 4.4 and 3.3 per cent per year, respectively – since 2014, investment has stagnated. In fact, Alberta averaged just 0.1 per cent annual growth from 2014 to 2018. British Columbia experienced 1.5 per cent average annual growth over the same recent four-year period, as compared to the national average of 1.1 per cent. Much of BC’s investment growth, however, is the result of the province’s strong construction and real estate sectors. Investment outside of these sectors has been comparatively weak. Ontario, too, enjoyed above-average annual growth from 2014 to 2018 (1.7 per cent) largely because of the real estate, finance, and insurance sectors that are concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area. Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island consistently experienced below-average growth for the entire period (1990 to 2018). “While the investment laggards are still lagging, even the previous bright spots in Canada’s business investment landscape are currently dim,” says Steven Globerman, a Fraser Institute senior fellow. “Given how important business investment will be post-recession, policymakers should pursue policies, including implementing regulatory reform and competitive tax rates, that are known to attract investment.”

Canadians Believe Pandemic Not Over

The fear of contracting COVID-19 continues to climb among Canadians, says the weekly COVID-19 survey by Leger. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians think governments should slow down the pace at which they are relaxing social distancing/self-isolation measures, an increase of seven per cent from last week. In fact, 50 per cent of Canadians and 62 per cent of Americans do not think we have reached the end of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As for economic recovery, roughly seven per cent of Canadians say business and economic activity in their province is better than they expected, 53 per cent say recovery is about what they expected, and 34 per cent say it is worse than they expected. Thinking ahead six months, 21 per cent of Canadians think the economic and job situation in their province will be better, while 41 per cent think it will be about the same, and 29 per cent think it will be worse. Sixty-three per cent of Canadians say things have not changed since the pandemic in terms of them being able to pay monthly household expenses and bills. Twenty-nine per cent of residents say it has become harder to pay monthly expenses and bills, while for seven per cent it has become easier.

 

Preston Leads Trex Commercial Products

Laura Rygielski Preston is president of Trex Commercial Products, Inc., the commercially focused subsidiary of Trex Company, Inc. She has more than 25 years of experience in sales and operations, most recently as vice-president and general manager with Trane, Inc.

China International Hardware Show Postponed

In view of the continuous worldwide spread of COVID-19 and the latest epidemic prevention requirements of China and the government of Shanghai, and in order to guarantee the health and safety of exhibitors, purchasers, and visitors, the China National Hardware Association and Koelnmesse have postponed the China International Hardware Show 2020 (CIHS 2020) from August 7 to 9, 2020 to October 8 to 10, 2021. The event will still be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC). For more information, visit CIHS 2020

Armstrong Sales Slow

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $203.2 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 25.3 per cent over net sales of $272 million in the second quarter of 2019. Operating income for the quarter was $62.4 million, down 28.4 per cent compared to operating income of $87.2 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $69 million, down 36.3 per cent compared to $108 million last year and adjusted net income was $36 million, down 42.7 per cent over $63 million. Sales in the mineral fibre segment were down 26.2 per cent year-over-year and sales in the architectural specialties segment were down 21.9 per cent.

July 27, 2020

Canada-wide Economic Recovery Expected In 2021

Following the steepest, deepest, and fastest recession in history, there are clear signs that the Canadian and global economies have begun the initial stages of recovery, says the ‘BMO Blue Book: Small Businesses in the Recovery.’ It says the Canadian economy will contract by roughly six per cent in 2020, by far the deepest annual decline in economic activity in the post-war era. British Columbia's economy is forecast to contract 5.3 per cent this year, but rebound to 6.3 per cent in 2021, with unemployment expected to remain below the national average. Alberta's GDP decline will be deeper than in the rest of the country. Saskatchewan's economy will contract 6.2 per cent this year and Manitoba's economy is expected to contract 4.8 per cent in 2020, milder than the national decline. The Ontario economy is expected to contract six per cent this year, in-line with the decline expected nationally. The province entered the downturn in a position of strength, but struggled with a steeper COVID curve early on. The Quebec economy is expected to decline 6.3 per cent this year, slightly worse than the national figure given more widespread shutdowns early in the pandemic. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI are all seeing GDP contractions that are milder than the decline expected nationally, with reductions of 3.8 per cent, 3.2 per cent, and three per cent, respectively. Faster re-opening in these provinces has provided significant benefits. The Newfoundland and Labrador economy is expected to contract 7.5 per cent this year, deeper than the decline expected nationally. The province was already in a challenged position pre-COVID, and current shutdowns and the decline in oil prices have exacerbated the headwinds.

Rosenort Co-operative Joins Sexton

Rosenort Co-operative Ltd. has joined Sexton Group Ltd. The Rosenort, MB-based co-operative offers a wide range of building products and has a customer base that includes a mix of agriculture and industry. Its product assortment includes building materials, hardware, farm supply, and a selection of premium sport and leisure brands. The retailer says it joined Sexton Group because it believes the group will provide greater buying power with a broader scope of vendors and manufacturers as well as better access to the quality products that its members are looking for.

U.S. New Home Sales Rise

U.S. new home sales increased 13.8 per cent from May to June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 776,000, says the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales increased 6.9 per cent over June 2019. The estimate of new houses for sale at the end of June was 307,000, representing a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate. This is down 1.3 per cent over May and seven per cent over June 2019.

Witynski Named CEO

Michael A. Witynski has been promoted to president and chief executive officer of Dollar Tree, Inc. He has been with the company since 2010, most recently in the role of enterprise president. He succeeds Gary Philbin, who is retiring.

RPM Sales Reflect COVID Impact

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.46 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, a decrease of 8.9 per cent over net sales of $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019. Net income for the quarter was $109.3 million compared to $133.4 million in the year-ago period and income before income taxes was $146.9 million compared to $176.9 million reported last year. EBIT was $169.8 million compared to $204.6 million. The construction products group net sales declined 15.6 per cent year-over-year; the performance coatings group net sales declined 20.2 per cent; the consumer group net sales increased 12 per cent; and the specialty products group net sales decreased 20.3 per cent. The company says sales declines reflected the impact of COVID-19 which, to various degrees, interrupted its manufacturing and distribution operations, as well as the maintenance, repair, and construction activities of its customers around the world.

July 24, 2020

Canadian Retail Sales A Little Less Horrible

Canadian retail sales are still plunging at record speed, with May total unadjusted retail sales declining 20 per cent versus the same month a year ago. While that's a horrible result, it's actually an improvement over the phenomenal 31.3 per cent year-over-year drop recorded in April, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. With more stores and shopping malls reopening, gradual improvement in the numbers is expected going forward, but it will take a while. For the three months ending May, retail sales fell 20.8 per cent year-over-year. The underlying 12-month trend is now nose-diving in statistical sympathy. Not all retail sectors have been affected equally however. The relatively staid food and drug sector is showing unprecedented retail sales increases, gaining 9.3 per cent for the three months ending May versus a year ago. The underlying 12-month trend has been trending up since the start of the year. While there were major declines in location-based retail sales, StatsCan data shows a huge increase in eCommerce. In recent months, eCommerce retail sales were up more than double versus a year ago. This includes a 112.7 per cent increase in May and a 123.6 per cent gain in April. Although StatsCan does not directly provide the figures, estimates indicate eCommerce at bricks-and-mortar retailers grew more than those at pure play operators. Overall, eCommerce represented about 4.5 per cent of Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending May, including both pure play as well as brick-and-clicks stores. In May alone, eCommerce's share of total retail was up to a record high of 9.5 per cent.

Walmart Canada Invests In Distribution Centres

As part of its $3.5 billion investment over the next five years to improve its in-store shopping experience, Walmart is investing $1.8 billion to build two new distribution centres and renovate an existing distribution centre. The retailer is building a 550,000-square-foot distribution centre in Vaughan, ON, slated to open in 2024. The facility will leverage next generation automation and technology working with Vanderlande, a material handling and logistics automation company. A 300,000-square-foot distribution centre in Surrey, BC, is currently under construction and slated to open in 2022. Walmart Canada will work with Witron on the site’s distribution logistics technology. New automated systems in an existing distribution centre in Cornwall, ON, is slated to go live in early 2021. The systems will feature machine learning and cobot technology, which can work in concert with associates to improve the accuracy and efficiency of operations. As well, the retailer’s entire distribution centre system will ramp up capacity with next generation warehouse management systems which are omni capable. It will invest in telematics and internet of things (IoT) sensors across over 2,200 trailers to give real-time information on deliveries. It will also launch artificial intelligence software in partnership with o9 to more accurately predict and better plan volume.

Lowe's To Launch EGO Offering

Lowe's Companies, Inc. is expanding its industry-leading portfolio of outdoor power brands as it launches EGO, a brand of battery-powered outdoor power equipment. Beginning in December, Lowe's will be the exclusive U.S. home centre to offer EGO's line of battery-powered mowers, blowers, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, edgers, chainsaws, and snowblowers. EGO products will be available online and in select stores in fall 2020 and will roll out to all U.S. stores across the U.S. by February 2021. In addition, Lowe's will begin offering select SKIL battery-powered outdoor power equipment in late 2020 including push and self-propelled mowers, leaf blowers, and string and hedge trimmers.

Canfor Operating Income Rebounds

Canfor Corporation had operating income of $96.9 million in the second quarter of 2020, up from an operating loss of $88.8 million in the first quarter of 2020, reflecting materially higher earnings in the lumber segment, offset in part by a moderate decline in pulp and paper segment earnings. Total lumber shipments, at 1.15 billion board feet, were eight per cent lower than the previous quarter, largely reflecting the widespread production curtailments in April and May; as demand improved during the quarter, shipments outpaced production across all of the company's operating regions. Total lumber production, at 1.04 billion board feet, was 19 per cent below the prior quarter principally reflecting COVID-19 market-related curtailments across all three of the company's operating regions, but most notably in the BC interior. Sales for the quarter were $1,115.3 million, down from $1,313.0 million in the year-ago period while net income was $60.7 million, up from a net loss of $48,8 million last year.

July 23, 2020

Retail Recovery Will Continue To Be Slow

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) notes with cautious optimism that the May retail numbers provide some hope that consumers are returning to retail stores but the organization continues to believe that recovery for most retailers will be very slow throughout the next several months. The month-over-month increase of 18.7 per cent illustrates some pent-up demand as consumers returned to stores across the country to shop for a variety of discretionary products. On the other hand, year-over-year core retail sales decreased (May 2019 versus May 2020) by 5.5 per cent and core retail sales excluding grocery decreased by 12 per cent. Removing grocery, auto, and gas from Statistics Canada's calculation clearly shows that recovery will continue to be slow and unpredictable for many retailers as they adjust to changing consumer habits, new restrictions in stores, and risks of further COVID outbreaks. As Canadians adjust to their lives in the COVID era with more focus on the home, RCC expects to see some key subsectors perform better includingabove ground pools, outdoor furniture, hot tubs, gardening, barbecues, and camping.

Large Gains In Building Construction Investment

Total investment in building construction increased 60.1 per cent to $13.4 billion in May, partially rebounding from large declines in April, says Statistics Canada. The easing of COVID-19 construction restrictions in May, most notably in Ontario and Quebec, led to growth in all components of residential and non-residential investment. Despite rebounding strongly in May, investment levels remained 16.5 per cent below the level observed in February 2020. Investment in residential construction rose 57 per cent to $8.4 billion in May. Investment in single-unit construction bounced back 71.7 per cent to $4.1 billion, exceeding multi-unit growth which increased 45.2 per cent to $4.3 billion. Non-residential construction investment increased 65.6 per cent to $4.9 billion in May. All three components of non-residential investment increased, with gains in Ontario and Quebec more than offsetting declines in five other provinces. The commercial component represented the majority of non-residential construction gains, up 99 per cent to $2.9 billion. Nearly all of the increase was in Ontario and Quebec, with both provinces returning to more regular construction activity, but still remained slightly lower than February. Manitoba (+0.4 per cent) was the only other province to report growth for the month in this component.

Simpson Strong-Tie Releases Construction Guide

Simpson Strong-Tie has released an updated High Wind Guide to help engineers, designers, builders, and contractors select connectors for building resilient structures in high-wind areas. The High Wind Guide is now available in the Simpson Strong-Tie High-Performance Solutions for High-Wind Forces online resource centre alongside additional resources to help safeguard the structural integrity of homes and buildings during hurricanes, tornadoes, and other high-wind events. Created as a complete handbook for designing and building in high-wind areas, the guide includes updated allowable load tables per AC13 (ASTM D7147) standards and crucial data for engineers designing structures to resist high-wind events. It also includes installation details and information on coatings and corrosion protection; is organized by framing condition, with products listed in order of increasing allowable load; and includes values for connections that use multiple connectors. Simpson Strong-Tie connectors – including the CSHP high-performance coiled strap, PSQ strap ties, and CBT concealed beam tie – have also been added to the guide for the first time. In addition, updated masonry connector tables feature the Titen Turbo concrete and masonry screw anchor.

Werner Expands Final Mile To Canada

Werner Enterprises, a North American transportation and logistics service provider, has expanded its Werner Final Mile to Canada, providing nationwide delivery and related services to residential and business locations in all provinces and territories. Utilizing its network of strategic alliance agents, Werner Final Mile delivers large or heavy items using two uniformed associates operating a liftgate straight truck, enabling customers to ship non-conveyable products, including returns and exchanges, in both the U.S. and Canada. Werner specializes in final mile logistics of heavy goods such as furniture, appliances, medical and fitness equipment, and store fixtures that require two people to deliver. This expansion goes beyond Werner’s U.S. coverage to now include door-to-door service for residential and commercial deliveries of heavy goods throughout Canada.

UFPI Earnings Rise

UFP Industries, Inc. had net earnings of $66.5 million for the second quarter of 2020, a 23 per cent increase over net earnings of $74.2 million in the second quarter of 2019. Net sales were flat at $1.24 billion compared to the year-ago period. Higher lumber prices contributed three per cent in net sales which was substantially offset by a three per cent decrease in units sold. Earnings from operations were $92.4 million, up 24 per cent over earnings of $72.5 million last year. The retail segment net sales increased 26 per cent year-over-year; the industrial segment net sales decreased 23 per cent; and the construction segment net sales decreased 13 per cent.

July 22, 2020

Retail Sales Continue Recovery

Retail sales were up 18.7 per cent in May to $41.8 billion, with motor vehicle and parts dealers leading the growth, followed by an increase in sales in almost all other subsectors, says Statistics Canada. However, despite the gain, sales remain 20 per cent below February levels. Following COVID-19-related store closures in April, a number of provinces moved ahead with plans to re-open their respective economies, which impacted the retail sector in May. Approximately 23 per cent of retailers were closed during May with the average length of shutdown at five business days. Retail sales in volume terms were up 17.8 per cent in May, following a record decline of 24.1 per cent in April. Sales in the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers sector were down 7.6 per cent year-over-year to $2.9 billion. On an unadjusted basis, overall retail eCommerce sales were $3.8 billion in May, accounting for eight per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 112.7 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales fell 18.2 per cent.

Canadians Embracing Alternative Payment Methods

Payment methods at small businesses have shifted away from cash toward electronic options like credit, debit, and Interac e-Transfer, says research from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Its ‘Small Business Recovery Dashboard’ says despite this shift, sales remain concerningly low for this time of year. Small business recovery ticked up slightly with 62 per cent of small businesses fully open by July 21, 37 per cent fully staffed, and 26 per cent making normal sales. Credit and debit card sales for Canadian small businesses are on average 25 per cent lower for March-June than the same time in 2019. Monthly credit and debit sales have improved since lows seen earlier this year in April when more businesses were closed. One in three small business owners have seen an increased use of credit cards and Interac e-transfer as a method of getting and making payments, and one in four have seen an increase in use of debit cards, while 38 per cent have seen a decreased use of cash since the pandemic started and seven per cent have stopped using cash altogether.

Retail Fraud Continues To Rise

Fraud at eCommerce and retail companies across North America continues to increase and most acutely affects mid- to large-sized retailers, says a report from LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Retailers experienced increased online and eCommerce fraud volumes and monetary losses correlating to a mass shift to online and mobile transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result of increased fraud volumes translates into a 7.3 per cent increase in the cost of fraud year-over-year for U.S. eCommerce and retail merchants. The LexisNexis Fraud Multiplier – the total amount of costs related to fees, interest, merchandise replacement, and redistribution per dollar of fraud for which the merchant is held liable – shows fraud now costs companies $3.36 for every dollar lost to fraud compared to $3.13 in 2019 and $2.40 in 2016. This is an increase of $0.96 over five years. Canadian retailers lose $2.87 per every dollar lost to fraud. The average volume of monthly fraud attacks increased nine per cent for U.S. retailers year-over-year while the average number of successful monthly fraud attempts increased 43 per cent – 48 per cent for mid to large retailers and 27 per cent for smaller retailers. Businesses that continued operations during the pandemic that had higher mobile purchase transactions with in-store pick up experienced more fraud volume and coinciding higher fraud costs since these retailers had to rely on store employees for identity authentication rather than solutions designed to detect mobile fraud.

Dean Joins MaterialsXchange

Paul Dean is director of business development with MaterialsXchange, a B2B eCommerce platform for commodity raw materials. He has more than 30 years of industry experience, most recently as chief executive officer of Progressive Lumberman’s Co-operative.

July 21, 2020

Building Material Sector Leads Wholesale Sales Gain

Following historic declines in April that saw wholesale sales plummet an unprecedented 21.4 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wholesale sales increased 5.7 per cent to $52.6 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. Six of seven subsectors recorded higher sales, accounting for about 78 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the building material and supplies and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsectors contributed the most to the gain. Overall, the increase of $2.8 billion in May amounts to a recovery of 18.4 per cent of the 2020 decline. However, wholesale sales in May remained -19.2 per cent below January's level. The sales pattern here largely reflects manufacturers being closed for all of April and parts of May. Not withstanding the increases in sales, COVID-19 was still having a large negative effect on wholesalers in May, with 73 per cent saying that the pandemic had an impact on their businesses – only seven percentage points lower than the month before. On a brighter side, with the Canadian construction industry fully resuming in May, the building material and supplies wholesale subsector saw the largest gain in dollar terms in May, up 16.1 per cent to $7.8 billion. While all three industries within the subsector saw their sales rise, the gains were largely attributable to higher sales in the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry, where sales increased 20.4 per cent to $4.2 billion.

Castle Adds Maritime Location

New Brunswick-based Homestar Group has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. The business, located in Quispamsis, a suburb just outside of Saint John, was founded by Mark Hatfield in 2002. Over the years, it grew into a full service residential and commercial home improvement company. Hatfield felt it was time to partner with a buying group that could help elevate his business and Castle seemed the obvious choice, given the positive insight and praise from his suppliers. He says he and his team of over 100 employees are excited to begin their journey with Castle and look forward to bringing their customers a broader range of products.

AIR MILES Revamps Brand

AIR MILES Reward Program has unveiled an upgraded brand platform to reinforce the ability of loyalty program to create daily moments of reward for its 11 million Canadian members. The program, entitled ‘Rewarding Canadians, every day,’ will launch with a national marketing campaign featuring stories of real AIR MILES collectors coming together with program partners to help generate a moment of reward for a collector every two seconds, every day, coast to coast. It features real collectors experiencing moments of reward and is supported by a national media campaign that includes television, radio, out-of-home, connected TV, programmatic digital, social media, influencers, and traditional public relations. The program also features a giveaway. Each time a collector uses their card or AIR MILES app, they get the opportunity to win miles.

HomeStars Leadership To Transition

Shir Magen and Megan Oldfield will be co-general managers of HomeStars, a marketplace that connects homeowners and service professionals. Magen joined HomeStars in 2018 as vice-president marketing and has also been promoted to senior vice-president, product and marketing along with her role as co-general manager. Oldfield joined the company in 2015 and was formerly in the position of vice-president strategy and finance. She has been promoted to senior vice-president, operations along with her role as co-general manager. The promotions come as Nancy Peterson, founder and chief executive officer, has announced her retirement.

CPCA Reschedules Annual Conference

The Canadian Paint & Coatings Association (CPCA) has rescheduled its ‘107th Annual Conference & AGM’ for May 26 and 27, 2021 due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference will cover regulatory information, updates on current issues, and advances in technology and research and development and provide networking opportunities to support business objectives. It takes place at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, QC. For more information, visit CPCA 2020 AGM

July 20, 2020

U.S. Retail Shrink Rates At All Time High

Shrink rates are at an all-time high with 70 per cent of U.S. retailers reporting a shrink rate of one per cent or higher in 2019, compared to just over 50 per cent in 2018, says the National Retail Federation (NRF) in its ‘2020 National Retail Security Survey.’ It says that over the past five years, retailers have increased their focus on all types of risk, but eCommerce, organized retail crime, and cyber crime in particular are increasingly important. Shrink now accounts for 1.62 per cent of a retailer’s bottom line, costing the industry $61.7 billion. While shrink impacts every aspect of a retailer’s operations, most of the prevention falls to loss prevention (LP). In fact, retailers lean heavily on LP when it comes to shoplifting. LP professionals are using the latest technology tools – like point-of-sale analytics – and some tried-and-true methods like new hire orientations and anonymous hotlines. While the survey focuses on the previous year’s data, this year has certainly brought new challenges and uncertainties as well, from health concerns related to COVID -19 to societal unrest. The survey says LP professionals are more than ready to meet those evolving challenges, even if their own departments need to develop new skillsets. In some cases, though, they are an underused resource when it comes to facing the threat of cybercrime.

Walmart Canada Invests To Improve Omni Experience

Walmart Canada will invest $3.5 billion over the next five years to make its online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster, and more convenient for Walmart's customers. The investment includes two new distribution centres to speed up the flow of products, re-invented and ‘smarter’ stores, an enhanced omni experience, and modern digital tools to help associates to serve customers. The retail will renovate over 150 stores over the then three years, which represents one-third of its store network. It has invested over $1 billion for remodelling stores over the past five years. Efforts to accelerate digitization and create ‘smarter’ stores include expanded electronic shelf labels, shelf scanners to monitor product volumes, and robotics and computer vision cameras to simplify, minimize touches, and maximize efficiency and accuracy. Walmart Canada will develop a checkout experience to reduce touchpoints including tap-to-pay, bigger self-checkout, and ‘Check Out With Me’ mobile payment technology to allow associates to checkout customers anywhere in the store. It also plans to accelerate the omni offering for customers by expanding pickup offerings and piloting hybrid locations that combine supercentres with micro fulfillment centres.

Descartes Partners With UPS To Offer Lower Shipping Rates

Descartes Systems Group has partnered with UPS under the UPS Digital Access Program (DAP). As a member of DAP, Descartes has enhanced Descartes ShipRush to enable small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to be able to access discounted UPS rates to reduce domestic and international eCommerce shipping costs. DAP enables SMBs to offer many of the same shipping services provided by larger eCommerce companies at competitive rates. Descartes ShipRush customers will have access to competitive, discounted domestic and international rates.

Taiga Mourns Loss Of Long-time Member

Doug Morris, a board member of Taiga Building Products Ltd., passed away July 15. Morris was one of Taiga’s earliest team members, starting at the company in 1978. He was intimately involved with the management team and sales associates from the beginning, helping to shape and influence the business. He developed Taiga's distribution presence in eastern Canada, initiated Taiga's 1996 acquisition of distribution centres in both Ontario and Quebec, and established the Oakville commodity trading division and Dynamic Forest Products. He was involved in taking Taiga public, and held the position of executive vice-president of major accounts and supply management from 2007 to 2009. Morris was appointed to Taiga's board in 2009. He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Morris, children, and grandchildren.

July 17, 2020

Businesses Adapting To New Reality

As a result of the widespread measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian economy declined 11.6 per cent in April, following a 7.5 per cent drop in March, says Statistics Canada. By the end of May, the Canadian economy had been transformed by COVID-19 and many businesses had begun to adapt to the new reality by shifting to teleworking, reducing hours, laying off staff, applying for government funding, or seeking rent relief. Nearly two-thirds (65.8 per cent) of businesses expect their number of employees to remain the same over the next three months, while 15.1 per cent expect their number of employees to increase. Over half (51.6 per cent) of businesses say their revenues for the month of April were down 30 per cent or more compared with April 2019 while more than one-third (35.3 per cent) say revenues were down by half or more. Even though revenue was down sharply, just over two-fifths (40.9 per cent) of businesses say their expenses (excluding salaries and wages) have stayed the same year-over-year, while close to one-third (32.4 per cent) saw expenses decline by 10 per cent or more. Nearly two-thirds of businesses were approved for funding from government programs or credit from external providers. Almost one-fifth (19.3 per cent) of businesses say they can continue to operate at current level of revenue and expenditures for less than six months before considering further staffing actions, closure, or bankruptcy.

COVID-19 Driving U.S. Home Improvement Market

The U.S. home improvement industry is showing remarkable growth that is considerably beyond other retail categories, says a report from Consumer Specialists, a home improvement research and consulting firm. U.S. retail sales in June grew 6.6 per cent year-over-year for all retail compared to 22.6 per cent for store types most associated with home improvement (building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers). The report says more homeowners are planning to do projects and there is more urgency, with growth in those saying their next project will be in less than a year from now. The hottest project areas are bathrooms, landscaping, kitchens, and gardens. As well, the internet jumped significantly as source of information, particularly as a source for where homeowners plan to get the majority of the products for their next project. “In terms of consumer attitudes and how they behave, there has never been a single force that has had a greater and enduring impact,” says Fred Miller, president of Consumer Specialists. “It is important for all business involved in home improvement to understand these changes and make appropriate adjustments.”

U.S. Home Improvement Spending To Slow By Mid-2021

Expenditures for improvements and repairs to owner-occupied homes in the U.S. are expected to slow by the middle of next year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, says the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Assuming continued weakness in the broader economy due to the public health crisis, the LIRA projects annual declines in renovation and repair spending of 0.4 per cent by the second quarter of 2021. Year-over-year spending growth ranged from six to seven per cent through the second quarter of 2020. The standard methodology projects a steady deceleration of spending growth to 1.5 per cent by third quarter before rebounding to 4.2 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2021 and then slowing again to 1.5 per cent in second quarter of 2021.

Amazon Quebec Fulfillment Centre Now Operational

Amazon's first fulfillment centre in Quebec, in Lachine, is now operational. The facility will continue to ramp up to full operations over the next several weeks and utilize robotics technology to pick, pack, and ship items to customers. The centre has been equipped with COVID-19 safety measures and best practices to keep employees safe. Amazon has implemented more than 150 significant process changes to support its teams, including physical distancing, temperature checks, masks, and gloves. Amazon's commitment to health and safety extends beyond the Quebec facility. The retailer donated $3 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts across Canada. The Lachine facility is Amazon's 13th fulfillment centre in Canada.

July 16, 2020

Manufacturing Sales Start Rebound

Manufacturing sales increased 10.7 per cent to $40.2 billion in May following a record 27.9 per cent decline in April, as many manufacturers resumed operations following full or partial shutdowns related to COVID-19 during the previous month, says Statistics Canada. Nevertheless, total manufacturing sales in May were 28.4 per cent below their pre-pandemic level in February. Sales were up in 18 of 21 industries, led by motor vehicle, motor vehicle parts and petroleum and coal products industries. In volumes terms, manufacturing sales rose 8.8 per cent, indicating a higher volume of products sold in May. Four-fifths (80.9 per cent) of establishments in the manufacturing sector say that their activities were affected by COVID-19 during the month of May, yet only one-quarter (24.3 per cent) of establishments say they have a recovery plan in place. Sales increased in eight provinces in May, led by Ontario and Quebec. As well, overall inventory levels declined for the second consecutive month, falling 1.5 per cent to $86.3 billion in May, down in 13 of 21 industries. Total unfilled orders declined for the second consecutive month, down 2.4 per cent to $95.4 billion for the month. After dropping by 31.7 per cent in April, new orders rose 9.4 per cent to $37.8 billion in May.

Home Sales, New Listings Continue To Rise

National home sales and new listings continued to rebound in June, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales were up a further 63 per cent, returning them to normal levels for the month – some 150 per cent above where they were in April. Transactions were once again up on a month-over-month basis across the country. Among Canada's largest markets, sales rose 83.8 per cent in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA); 75.1 per cent in Montreal, QC; 60.3 per cent in Greater Vancouver, BC; 99.7 per cent in the Fraser Valley, BC; 54.9 per cent in Calgary, AB; 59 per cent in Edmonton, AB; 22.5 per cent in Winnipeg, MB; 34.8 per cent in Hamilton-Burlington, ON; 67.9 per cent in London and St. Thomas, ON; 55.6 per cent in Ottawa, ON; and 43.6 per cent in Quebec City, QC. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity posted a 15.2 per cent year-over-year gain for the month. The number of newly listed homes climbed by another 49.5 per cent in June compared to May. As with sales activity, gains were recorded across the country. The national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 63.7 per cent in June compared to 58.5 per cent posted in May. There were only 3.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of June 2020 – a 16-year low for this measure.

Nexii Expands Across North America

Canadian green construction technology company, Nexii Building Solutions Inc. will open a trio of manufacturing plants across North America as the company rapidly accelerates the roll-out of its green construction technologies to meet escalating consumer demand. Two full-scale plants will be built in Canada – one in Alberta, and the other in Toronto, ON – while a third will be developed in Pennsylvania. Currently, Nexii has one fully operational plant in Moose Jaw, SK, with its second production facility in Squamish, BC, under construction. The Alberta facility will manufacture green building and retrofit products using Nexii’s proprietary material, Nexiite. It is anticipated that the plant will be operational by second quarter of 2021. The Ontario facility will also manufacture green building and retrofit products using Nexiite and is also anticipated to be operational by the second quarter of 2021.

Quebec Home Sales Drop

A total of 22,102 residential sales transactions were concluded in the second quarter of the year in Quebec, a significant drop of 24 per cent compared to the second quarter of last year, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This downturn, imposed by the arrival of COVID-19 and the application of health measures to limit the spread of the virus, brings to an end a series of 23 consecutive quarterly increases in sales. In total, 15,591 single-family homes (-19 per cent), 4,760 condominiums (-34 per cent), and 1,613 plexes (-33 per cent) changed hands in Quebec in the second quarter of the year. The largest drop in sales was in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), where transactions fell by 36 per cent, followed by the Gatineau CMA (-23 per cent). The Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières CMAs both posted a 22 per cent decrease in sales. The Quebec City and Saguenay CMAs were more resilient, posting smaller decreases in sales at -11 per cent and -16 per cent, respectively. These results are consistent with the lesser spread of the virus in these two metropolitan areas.

Hoexum Promoted At UFP Retail Solutions

Bryan Hoexum is vice-president of independent retail sales with UFP Retail Solutions, a business segment of UFP Industries. He joined the company in 1994 and served most recently as director of independent retail.

July 15, 2020

Consumer Staples Lead April Retail Sales

In the month of April, retail sales decreased 32.8 per cent to $34.3 billion, says Statistics Canada in its April retail commodity survey. Lower sales were recorded in 17 of the 19 commodity groupings. While certain retailers were deemed essential and allowed to continue in-store shopping, many Canadian retailers were forced to close their doors. The largest contribution to the monthly decline came from lower sales of motor vehicles (-66.8 per cent). Many store types were deemed non-essential and closed their storefront operations, resulting in lower sales, however, consumer staples remained in demand. As consumers stayed home and cooked for themselves, the category to post the largest sales increase was food (+13.2 per cent). Demand for household cleaning supplies, which includes products such as cleaning gloves and disinfectants, also remained high with sales increasing 9.1 per cent in April compared to April 2019. Sales of hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden products fell 15.8 per cent, largely on the decline of receipts of renovation materials and supplies (-18.6 per cent). However, as the weather improved and consumers continued to abide by stay-at-home measures, they spent more time outside gardening and performing yard work resulting in an increase in sales of live plants, seeds, and other home and garden supplies of 10.2 per cent. Sales of outdoor furniture increased 38.5 per cent.

Maibec Completes CanExel Acquisition

Maibec has completed its acquisition of the CanExel brand and production facility located in East River, NS. Both the brand and the facility have been owned by LP Building Solutions (LP) for over 20 years. The transaction is anticipated to strengthen Maibec's market position in custom exterior siding systems, and aligns well with its expansion strategy for residential and commercial construction and renovation in Canada and the U.S. CanExel will now be sold under the name Maibec CanExel. The company plans to develop complementary product lines that will meet the needs of both existing and new markets. The deal is part of LP's Siding business' strategy to focus exclusively on supporting demand for its strand-based siding products.

Wooster Introduces Counter Display

Wooster Products has introduced a counter display unit to better showcase its FlexTred Anti-Slip Safety Tape. Constructed of heavy cardboard, this shelf display includes five 60-foot rolls of FlexTred in varying widths and grit levels to demonstrate the numerous options available. The tape is ideal for electrical and construction supply, industrial supply houses, hardware stores, DIY/specialty retailers, and rental facilities. Retailers can generate additional revenue by selling tape by the foot. Rolls can be sold from the display, and re-stocked individually, or extras can be kept in stock and sold from inventory. FlexTred is designed to prevent slip and fall accidents and is designed for use on stairs, ramps, construction equipment, ladders, cherry pickers, and other material handling equipment, trucks and trailers, work stations, land and garden equipment, scaffolding, bumpers, or wherever people have to climb over, across, or onto equipment. It is available in various widths and grit levels and standard and custom die cut shapes and sizes also available.

Co-ops Funding 17 Community Projects

Co-ops across western Canada are supporting communities with 17 projects funded through the Co-op Community Spaces Program this year. The program is providing $1 million for local projects like a greenhouse to increase access to fruits and vegetables for low-income families in Nanaimo, BC, an animal therapy program in Lacombe, AB, a pump track in Regina, SK, and an interactive heritage education centre in Richer, MB. “It’s been a challenging year and we’ve all had to stay safe by staying apart, so we’re especially excited to fund these projects that will help bring our communities back together as we come through COVID-19,” says Pam Skotnitsky, vice-president of strategy at Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). FCL administers the program on behalf of more than 160 independent retail co-operatives across western Canada that form the Co-operative Retailing System. Since 2015, Co-op Community Spaces has provided $9.5 million to 132 projects in three categories: recreation, environmental conservation, and urban agriculture. Funded organizations must be registered non-profits, charities, or community service co-operatives.

GROHE Upgrades Blue Water Filter

GROHE has launched its Blue Chilled & Sparkling 2.0 kitchen faucet, which offers filtered drinking water straight from the kitchen tap. Users can draw still, medium, or sparkling water according to taste, and simultaneously cool it to the desired drinking temperature. The product is designed to save water and reduce household dependency on bottled water. The faucet has two separate internal waterways – one for filtered water and one for unfiltered water – and an aerator that doesn’t allow the water to come into contact with anything that may affect its taste. The slim tap features a touch activation with coloured LED illumination to indicate the level of carbonation. The GROHE Blue 2.0 is available in two spout shapes and two finishes – StarLight Chrome and SuperSteel InfinityFinish. It also offers a pull-out aerator and built-in technology allows for WiFi and Bluetooth connections, meaning users are notified immediately if a filter or the CO2 bottle needs to be replaced.

July 14, 2020

Orgill Integrates Zoom Technology For Online Buying Event

Orgill, Inc. is partnering with Zoom, an online video communications platform, to integrate the company’s meeting technology into its e-Volution platform. Orgill announced earlier this year that it will host its first-ever e-Volution online buying event August 24 to September 4. The combination of these technology platforms will allow retailers to see calendar availability for vendors, schedule meetings, and initiate Zoom video conferences all within the e-Volution framework. “Our systems will completely manage the availability of all the participants, and their respective time zones, and allow retailers to easily schedule time with Orgill vendors during the two-week event window,” says Marc Hamer, executive vice-president and chief digital information officer, Orgill. “The dealers will also have the option of including their Orgill sales representative in any of the meetings they schedule allowing them to have a completely interactive experience.” Because the Zoom software will be integrated into the e-Volution platform, participants will be able to use the video conferencing capabilities even if they do not have their own Zoom account.

AEP Expands Into Lower Mainland British Columbia

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) plans to acquire selected assets of a truss manufacturer as it expands its geographical footprint into the lower mainland region of British Columbia. AEP says the buoyancy in the BC residential and commercial building market has encouraged it to fast track its plans for expansion in the region, firstly through establishing a pre-fabricated wall factory expansion in Nanaimo, and now through this acquisition. “Once this acquisition is completed, we will continue upgrades to [the Nanaimo] facility and its equipment in order to expand and develop the lower mainland market through a full service business,” says Dirk Maritz, CEO and president, AEP. “Located in the Fraser Valley, this new operation will supply our pre-manufactured wall-panels, manufactured floor trusses, I-joists, LVL options, open web floors, roof trusses, and other engineered wood products to the very large lower mainland BC market.”

TORBSA Elects 2020 Board Of Directors

Steve Guglietti of Brampton, ON-based Pro Con Building Supplies Ltd. has been elected chairman of TORBSA Limited for the year 2020. As well, the TORBSA 2020 board of directors includes Greg Drouillard of Target Building Materials Limited (Windsor, ON) as past chairman; Dante DiGiovanni of Blair Building Materials Inc. (Maple, ON) as vice-chairman; Gary Sangha of Crown Building Supplies (Surrey, BC) as vice-chairman of operations; Mike Burkart of Bernardi Building Supply Ltd. (Weston, ON) as secretary; and Len Hewson of Hewson Brothers Supply Limited (Brantford, ON) as treasurer.

Supplying PPE Products Helps Fastenal Sales

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 10.3 per cent over net sales of $1.4 million in the second quarter of 2019. The increase was due in part to the company’s efforts to support governments, first responders, and critical infrastructure entities by supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) products. As well, while fastener daily sales were down 22.5 per cent in April, in May, the rate of decline moderated to down 15.3 per cent and in June it moderated again to down 11.4 per cent. Overall gross profit, as a percentage of net sales, declined 230 basis points to 44.5 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Net earnings were $238.9 million, up 16.7 per cent compared to net earnings of $204.6 million last year.

July 13, 2020

Nova Scotia Faces Lumber Shortage

Contractors and do-it-yourselfers in Nova Scotia are scrounging to find things like plywood and pressure treated lumber, says CBC News. Due to a combination of a spike in home improvement projects during COVID-19 and the shutdown or partial shutdown of plants, big and small construction companies may need to make some tough decisions on what jobs they can complete. This comes at the busiest time of year for their industry. Already some smaller contractors are feeling the effects of the lumber shortage. Lumber dealers like Kent Building Supplies are trying to deal with the lack of wood products available, saying there is little to no supply left in Atlantic Canada because a huge sales increase has completely stripped the supply chain. CBC News says that manufacturers like Marwood in Tracyville, NB, are responding, although lead times have been pushed out.

U.S. Retailers Optimistic About Recovery

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the U.S. building/construction, manufacturing, design, and retail sales industries, however, industry insiders – especially retailers – are optimistic about recovery, says the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) first quarter ‘2020 Kitchen & Bath Market Index’ (KBMI). Respondents say the pandemic has an impact of 8.08 (on a scale of one to 10, with one being no impact and 10 being significant impact) on their business, with retail sales (8.3) and building/construction (8.29) most affected, compared to design (7.96) and manufacturing (7.84). Kitchen and bath professionals list economic uncertainty and fear of recession as their current primary challenges, demoting cost of materials, availability of skilled labour, and labour costs – the top three concerns last quarter – to seventh, eighth and 11th on the list, respectively. However, the index says that while the impact of COVID-19 on kitchen and bath professionals is undeniable, there are indicators of the recovery to come. The majority of those surveyed (68 per cent) predict a recovery by September, though 25 per cent are unsure whether conditions will improve until at least 2021. Not surprisingly, one of the most optimistic group is retailers, 42 per cent of whom expect demand for their products to return to normal before the end of June, which aligns with the timeline for states reopening now and in the coming weeks.

Lick Joins BB&B

Neil Lick is senior vice-president, owned brands with Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Previously, he was with Williams-Sonoma, where he worked for 22 years.

Homecare Products Lead Sales For WD-40

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $98.2 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to net sales of $114 million in the third quarter of 2019. Net income for the quarter was $14.5 million, a decrease of 20 per cent compared to net income of $18.1 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin was 54 per cent compared to 54.5 per cent last year. Net sales of maintenance products, which are considered the primary growth focus for the company, decreased 16 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period. This sales decline was primarily attributable to decreased sales of WD-40 Multi-Use Product in all three segments due to disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Net sales of homecare and cleaning products increased 10 per cent year-over-year. This higher level of sales was due to the increased demand for such products resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 10, 2020

June Housing Starts Trend Upwards

The trend in housing starts was 199,655 units in June, up from 197,063 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 reflects higher multi-family starts in Toronto, ON, and Montreal, QC, following declines in these centres in recent months from COVID-19 measures. Housing starts continued to decline in most other centres in June, including Vancouver, BC. CMHC expects national starts to trend lower in the near term as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19 on economic and housing indicators. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 211,681 units, an increase of 8.3 per cent from 195,453 units in May. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 8.7 per cent to 196,675 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 13 per cent to 154,602 units while single-detached urban starts decreased by 4.5 per cent to 42,073 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,006 units.

COVID-19 Accelerating Need For Retailers To Adapt

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail sector will vary by category, but several consumer shifts that were already underway have been accelerated, says PwC Canada in its ‘2020 Consumer Insights Survey.’ The report says that while some consumers will return to their pre-pandemic behaviours, the pace of change will continue to pick up, requiring retailers to be bold in embracing creative solutions to transform the customer journey. Even as consumers say they likely will return to previous behaviours in some areas, retailers will need to focus on several key shifts in setting out their long-term strategies. Retailers will need to pay attention to Gen Z, whose shopping habits will shape buying behaviour. They are 25 per cent more likely to shop online and those that go into a store to shop will do so if they can justify the trip. Additionally, as more organizations settle into new ways of working, including remote working over the longer term, eCommerce is expected to increase and retailers will need to put more effort into their online and in-store experiences. Retailers should determine where and in what circumstances it makes sense to have a physical store and where they need to repurpose their store format and size to respond to consumer shifts and preferences.

National Hardware Show Cancels 2020 Live Event

As a result of COVID-19 and its impact to members, the National Hardware Show (NHS) had initially postponed its show from May to September of this year. However, as the pandemic continues to impact the industry and its members, NHS has cancelled the September event and plans to host a virtual event later in the year. The virtual event will be dedicated to providing education and support that recognizes and addresses the direct and essential needs of the hardware industry. There will also be a virtual tradeshow component added to the digital platform. For more information, visit NHS

Richelieu Sales Impacted By Pandemic

Richelieu had consolidated sales of $248.3 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 11.7 per cent compared to consolidated sales of $281.1 million in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease included a 6.6 per cent increase from acquisitions and 18.3 per cent internal decrease. The company had sales of $207 million in the manufacturers market, compared to $238.3 million for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of 13.1 per cent. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores were $41.3 million for the quarter, down 3.5 per cent over the year-ago period. In Canada, the company had sales of $155.2 million, a decrease of 15.2 per cent over the second quarter of 2019. Sales to manufacturers amounted to $124.5 million, a decrease of 18.2 per cent year-over-year and sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores totalled $30.8 million, down 0.6 per cent. Overall EBITDA was $33.8 million, down 1.7 per cent over the second quarter of 2019, while net earnings were down 7.3 per cent. The company was strongly impacted by COVID-19 during the quarter, particularly in Quebec, Ontario, and the U.S. northeast and midwest markets. However, it continued to operate in all of its distribution centres with a reduced workforce in order to serve customers.

July 9, 2020

FCL Moves Tradeshow Online


Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) will move its 'Buymart' tradeshow online for 2020 as a result of the uncertainty around large gatherings and travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally scheduled for October. Buymart is an annual tradeshow connecting vendors with local co-operatives across western Canada. While specific details are still being worked out, the online platform will still allow vendors to share information, provide buying opportunitie, and engage local co-ops in the co-operative retailing system. Buymart in its regular format is expected to return to Saskatoon, SK, in 2021.

Simpson Strong-Tie PFS System Code Listed


Simpson Strong-Tie's Strong-Wall site-build portal frame system (PFS) has received code listing from the International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES) to provide engineers, builders, and framers a way to meet code-defined wall bracing requirements when building narrow wall widths. Since first developed by the APA Engineered Wood Association and accepted into the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) requirements, portal framing methods (including continuous sheathing and portal framing with holdowns) have been a common source of confusion in the field. Installations without holdowns or anchor bolts in the correct locations, or that do not orient sheathing with the strength axis vertical, or that place the sheathing splice in the center of the portal leg, are often flagged during inspection. Strong-Wall provides builders with an alternative to IRC braced wall solutions. Available in single-wall and double-wall portal frame kits, the PFS includes holdown assemblies, adjustable post bases and standoffs, multi-ply screws, connector screws, a six-lobe T40 driver bit, and complete installation instructions.

CN Investing $105 Million In Saskatchewan


CN, as part of its strategic investments to support growing demand and enable supply chains, plans to invest approximately $105 million across Saskatchewan in 2020. The investments will focus on track infrastructure including the replacement of more than 65 miles of rail, installation of over 145,000 railroad ties, rebuilds of 12 road crossing surfaces, and maintenance. Grains and fertilizer make up a substantial portion of the traffic handled by CN in this Prairie province. The traffic also reflects the increasing diversification of the Saskatchewan economy by handling growing volumes of consumer goods and specialty crops through CN’s intermodal terminals in Saskatoon and Canada’s first privately operated intermodal terminal located in the Chuka Creek Business Park in Regina. In Bienfait, there is a CargoFlo bulk handling facility as well as forest products and metals distribution centres and, in North Battleford, there is an additional forest products distribution centre.

Global DIY-Summit Postponed To 2021


The eight annual 'Global DIY Summit' had been postponed to 2021 as a result of the global COVID-19 situation. Organizers of the summit say that since the situation is still very serious despite signs of recovery, there is still a great deal of caution and concern. "We have stayed in close contact with venues and local authorities of the most important European cities and, despite conditions easing in some places, many companies continue to operate international travel bans, as well as the international quarantine restrictions for travellers to and from many countries. As such, we believe that it is unrealistic to host a meaningful meeting of senior home improvement leaders this year." The summit will now be held at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, due to facility availability, from June 9 to 11, 2021. For more information, visit Global DIY Summit

COVID-19 Impacts BB&B Sales


Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had net sales of approximately $1.3 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, a decrease of 49 per cent compared to net sales of $2.6 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. The company's first fiscal quarter spanned the most critical months to date of the COVID-19 pandemic - March, April, and May - which impacted sales. Net sales from digital channels for this period grew 82 per cent year-over-year, including sales growth in excess of 100 per cent during April and May, while net sales from stores, of which 90 per cent of the company's total fleet were closed during the majority of the quarter, declined approximately 77 per cent. Net sales from digital channels represented nearly two-thirds of first quarter total net sales. Gross margin decreased 780 basis points to 26.7 per cent. The company had a net loss of $302 million compared to a net loss of $371 million in the year-ago period.

July 8, 2020

Home Sales Rise In Montreal, Quebec City

A total of 4,980 residential sales transactions were concluded in June in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), a 16 per cent increase compared to June 2019, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This is the highest level of sales ever recorded for a month of June since the start of compiling market data. Across the Montreal CMA, single-family home sales bounced back the most in June, as transactions jumped by 23 per cent (2,833 sales). Sales of condominiums registered a more moderate increase of 10 per cent (1,711 transactions) and the plex segment remained stable, with a sales level comparable to that registered in June of last year (434 transactions). Quebec City had 924 residential sales transactions in June, a 47 per cent increase compared to June of last year. The single-family home segment registered the largest increase in sales, with 646 transactions (+50 per cent). With 215 transactions, sales of condominiums also rose significantly (+52 per cent) compared to June of last year. For plexes with two to five dwellings, sales grew at a much slower pace (+13 per cent), representing 62 units.

AlphaPay, ACCEO Logivision Launch Mobile Payment Technology

AlphaPay, a North American provider of borderless payment technology, and ACCEO Logivision, a high-speed retail point-of-sale software provider, have partnered to enable integration of UnionPay, Alipay, and WeChat Pay across ACCEO’s reseller network. The collaboration will introduce mobile wallet processing technology – with QR Code payment – at the point-of-sale and eCommerce to North American retailers of all sizes through one streamlined platform powered by AlphaPay. AlphaPay's foothold in the advanced payment industry is strengthened by collaborating with POS system solution experts, including King Corp – one of ACCEO’s resellers based in British Columbia – which facilitates the inclusion-mobile payment technology to retailers.

Lowe’s Canada Provides Air Conditioners To Vulnerable

Lowe’s Canada will donate 300 portable air conditioners to the City of Toronto, ON. This donation is in support of the city’s efforts to encourage greater social distancing among homeless residents by offering them the opportunity to move from shelters that are in high demand to vacant Toronto Community Housing Corporation units. As summer has settled in, these air conditioners will help provide these residents with a more comfortable living environment as they go through self-isolation. “As a retailer, helping our customers achieve their home improvement projects so they can be comfortable at home is the essence of what we do,” says Tony Hurst, president of Lowe’s Canada. “In these unprecedented times, it was only natural for us to do our part to help make the lives of people who are already going through challenging times more comfortable as well.” The 300 portable air conditioners represent a total donation of more than $160,000.

Klein Tools Launches Thermal Imager

Klein Tools has introduced the TI250 Rechargeable Thermal Imager, a tool that allows electricians, plumbers, HVAC professionals, and home inspectors to verify systems and troubleshoot problems needing maintenance via verification of potential problems based on hot and cold spots displayed on LCD. The imager has over 10,000 pixels to troubleshoot hot and cold spots and features user selectable high and low temperature alarms from -20 to 400°C. Users can store and share images with an optional microSD Card. The unit has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and includes a thermal imager, micro-USB charging cable, carrying case, and instructions.

Power Tools Market To Reach $40.9 Billion By 2027

The global power tools market size is anticipated to reach US$40.9 billion by 2027, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2 per cent, says a study by Grand View Research, Inc. Demand for compact, flexible, and mobile tools is increasing in both industrial and residential applications. Power tools play a crucial role in reducing manual efforts, especially in heavy duty applications and this is projected to have a positive impact on the market. The electric mode of operation segment dominated the tool market with the share of 64.3 per cent in 2019. The high revenue share is attributed to the increasing adoption of cordless instruments as they are ergonomic, mobile, and portable. A rising number of construction activities across the globe is anticipated to drive the segment growth. As well, the increasing use of the instruments in residential applications is projected to escalate the market. The surge in popularity of the do-it-yourself (DIY) technique is observed as a trend globally. Moreover, the unavailability of household workers has forced people to take up DIY jobs for household repair and maintenance. House repair, gardening, etc. is easier with the help of user-friendly and ergonomic tools which has led to increased demand for these products. Rising disposable household income is also a major factor influencing market growth.

July 7, 2020

Home Services Remain Priority

Home services remain a priority this year, as homeowners continue to hire pros, plan to use stimulus money for home projects, and take on more do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, says a survey by ANGI Homeservices, a global digital marketplace that connects homeowners with service professionals. The survey says nearly 40 per cent of homeowners plan on using some of their federal stimulus funds for home projects. This likelihood increases by nearly 10 per cent among respondents under age 44. Homeowners indicate they have or are likely to hire plumbers (53 per cent), electricians (36 per cent), and landscapers (30 per cent) most frequently. While sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners embraced DIY while also seeking professional help for key projects. Eighty per cent plan on taking on more projects – both on their own and with the help of hired pros this year. Fifty-nine per cent tackled a DIY home project this year. Popular DIY projects include painting (54 per cent) followed by landscaping (52 per cent). Homeowners are still hesitant to attempt more technical or dangerous projects like HVAC (four per cent) and roofing (five per cent) on their own. The survey says that while there is a significant trend of people taking on more DIY projects, there is still a great need for the expertise of home service professionals to complete various projects.

Last-mile Delivery Not Meeting Demand

The transportation and logistics (T&L) industry has experienced significant disruptions due to the steep rise in eCommerce and rapidly changing consumer expectations due to the coronavirus pandemic. With a greater variety and quantity of purchases being shipped directly to consumers’ homes, combined with expectations that necessitate rapid, often same-day deliveries, last-mile delivery strategies have never been more important. Yet, last-mile delivery is the most inefficient process of the entire supply chain, says SOTI, a provider of mobile and IoT management solutions. A survey by the company says that 78 per cent of T&L companies in Canada and 59 per cent in the U.S., say that last-mile delivery can’t keep up with demand. To create powerful and transparent customer experiences, 88 per cent of respondents in Canada and 82 per cent in the U.S. agree that it is critical for T&L companies to ensure a mobile-first strategy around last-mile delivery. A mobile-first strategy is defined as viewing smartphones, tablets, and task-specific apps as the primary tools for getting work done. An effective mobile-first strategy provides companies with increased productivity and visibility into their business. In North America, more than half (58 per cent) of T&L professionals say a mobile-first strategy has enabled them to gain visibility into critical aspects of their supply chain. In the U.S. specifically, 45 per cent indicated it has created a better, more responsive customer experience and 44 per cent of respondents have used their mobile strategies to support real-time decision-making.

CanGift Launches Buy Local Campaign

In an effort to promote local retail in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Gift Association (CanGift) is launching a buy local campaign with the slogan, ‘Buy the Way, Keep it Local.’ It says that now it is more important than ever for consumers to spend their money in their own communities for the independent retail industry to survive in Canada. The campaign will feature as many retailers as possible on its Instagram account for the next year and provide retailers with a digital logo so they can join the movement. The organization is also searching for opportunities to work with Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) and other initiatives taking place across Canada. As well, CanGift members will offer incentives to assist retailers in their ‘return to normal’ sales plans and a retailer roundtable webinar series will highlight insightful discussions with Canadian retailers.

Formica Canada Launches Cleaning And Disinfecting Guide

Formica Canada has launched a free online guide for cleaning and disinfecting Formica surfacing products to help consumers and maintenance workers keep their spaces clean and risk-free while taking good care of the surfaces. The guide includes simple guidelines for quick and effective daily three-step cleaning that applies to all Formica surfacing products, as well as specific recommendations for deep cleaning of stubborn stains and disinfection. Although Formica products require simple maintenance, it is important to understand the particularities of each products line when it comes to disinfecting the surface and cleaning stubborn stains. The guide offers, in a clear, illustrated, and practical format, recommendations concerning the cleaning methods and the products to be used, as well as the products to avoid, for the different Formica product lines.

July 6, 2020

Loyalty Programs Crucial For Struggling Retailers

Loyalty programs will be critical for bricks-and-mortar retailers, which will struggle to recover from revenue lost during lockdowns and increased off-to-online spend migration, says data from Juniper Research. ‘Digital Loyalty Programs: Market Trends, Credit Cards & Retailer Readiness 2020-2025’ says that memberships of loyalty programs with a digital element will increase 30 per cent from $37 billion in 2020 to $48 billion in 2023 globally. As economic challenges remain for both consumers and retailers, digital loyalty will become a prized differentiator as retail markets become increasingly commoditized. The study recommends that retailers adopt digital loyalty solutions that enable them to leverage their customer data to offer omnichannel loyalty experiences, combining offline and online touchpoints. As well, the total value of mobile coupons redeemed will grow from $51.6 billion in 2020 to $67.6 billion in 2023, driven by increasing QR and app coupon usage.

June Fraser Valley Property Sales Double

The Fraser Valley real estate market saw a resurgence in activity in June with a total of 1,718 sales, an increase of 113.4 per cent compared to sales in May and an increase of 31.5 per cent compared to 1,306 sales in June of 2019. Sales were 6.4 per cent below the 10-year average for June. FVREB received 3,456 new listings in June, a 56.6 per cent increase compared to May’s intake of 2,207 new listings and a 23 per cent increase compared to June of last year. June finished with 7,063 active listings, an increase of 9.4 per cent compared to May’s inventory and a decrease of 17.1 per cent year-over-year.

Cobra Anchors Enters Supply Agreement

Quebec-based Cobra Anchors has entered another supply agreement with The Home Depot Inc. for the retailer’s U.S. stores. The agreement covers the Parawedge line of masonry anchor products in addition to Cobra Anchors’ lines of TripleGrip, DrillerToggle, and FlipToggle hollow wall anchors that have already been distributed in the retailer's stores for the past eight years.

BLANCO Celebrates 30 Years In Canada

BLANCO, a manufacturer of luxury sinks, faucets, and accessories, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Canada. Home to the first BLANCO SILGRANIT production facility outside of Germany, and heading up North American research and development, BLANCO Canada has played a critical role in the growth of the company’s North American market share with the development of several SILGRANIT colours and numerous product innovations. BLANCO is celebrating this milestone with its digital audience nationwide throughout July. The company’s digital campaign showcases fun facts, interesting company archives, employee stories, and nostalgic design throwbacks from the last three decades.

Tando Upgrades Online Tool

Tando, a brand of Derby Building Products, has rolled out a new technology within its My Tando Home Creator – a free online tool that enable users to visualize home updates using TandoStone, Beach House Shake, and TandoShake products. The online tool offers improved usability, increased performance, and a QuickView tool for faster and easier visualization, along with professional design services including a 3D measurement tool. No software download is required to use the tool and, with the integration of Google Street View, contractors and dealers can use the tool to bid on projects without visiting a home. The 3D modelling service offers a representation of the project along with a complete material list. The tool operates on iPad, iPhone, Android, and desktop/laptops.

Dupre Little Promoted

Janice Dupre Little is executive vice-president, human resources, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. She joined Lowe's in 2017 and most recently served as senior vice-president, diversity and talent management.

July 3, 2020

Return To Work Presents Special Challenges

Plans to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown and return to the workplace present special challenges for organizations and their internal and external legal advisors, say the authors of ‘COVID-19 – A Roadmap For Navigating Return-To-Workplace Decisions.’ Anne Risticis, co-managing partner, and Andrea L. Allistonis, partner, knowledge management, at Stikeman Elliott, say that although both law and medical science have bearing on the decision to re-open the workplace but, at heart, each decision will be founded on the exercise of business judgment and risk oversight by business leaders in their own circumstances. They offer steps and considerations for businesses as they plan their strategies around the return to the workplace post-COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions. The article is available here on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

RONA Buying Show Goes Virtual

Lowe’s Canada has adapted its fall buying show and will meet with its dealers exclusively online this fall. Starting October 19, RONA affiliated dealers will have access to a unique platform developed by Lowe’s Canada, which will give them a completely renewed shopping experience. The online show will showcase flagship products and new items from many suppliers and enable dealers to interact with their representatives. It will also feature discounts, workshops, and expert advice. The Lowe’s Canada team will accompany and guide dealers throughout the show.

Canada To Invest In Forest Sector

The government of Canada is investing in Canada’s forest sector to support its economic recovery. The Ministry of Natural Resources will invest $83 million in the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program to bridge the gap between product development and commercialization to ensure a more competitive and resilient forest sector. As well, it will invest $13 million in the Indigenous Forest Initiative (IFI) to support indigenous participation in forest-related opportunities, businesses, careers, and governance. These three-year investments will help advance Canada's bioeconomy while creating and maintaining jobs in indigenous and rural communities across the country.

Ateliers Jacob - Tendances Concept Acquires Cuisirama

In a bid to expand and to accelerate its production and sales activities notably in the U.S., the Ateliers Jacob – Tendances Concept group of Montreal, Longueuil, and St-Jérôme, QC, and Calgary, AB, has acquired Cuisirama, a manufacturer of modular kitchens and custom cabinets. Cuisirama, established in 1976, is based in L'Assomption, QC. The integration of the Cuisirama distribution network will significantly contribute to expanding the group's sizeable customer base outside Quebec, says Simon Bouchard, president and CEO of the Ateliers Jacob – Tendances Concept group. He hopes that this acquisition will kick-start a new breath in Quebec's manufacturing sector, “which has been seriously undermined since the start of this pandemic.” The kitchen cabinet industry is the seventh largest employer in the province and that the manufacturing sector represents roughly $1.3 billion in economic activity per annum.

CN Investing $445 Million In British Columbia

CN, as part of its strategic investments to support growing demand and enable supply chains, will invest approximately $445 million across British Columbia in 2020. The investments will include expansion projects that will add track in yards to handle growing traffic, new sidings, and continued investments in multi-year initiatives to increase capacity at the Port of Vancouver and at the Port of Prince Rupert in collaboration with the Government of Canada, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the Prince Rupert Port Authority. The maintenance program will focus on the replacement of track infrastructure. The ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are dynamic gateways to international trade, offering shorter transit times to Asia. In the Vancouver area, CN has two distribution centres for forest products and a major rail classification yard.

July 2, 2020

U.S. Recession Could Already Be Easing

The U.S. economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic may have already ended with May’s rebound, says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist with the National Retail Federation (NRF). No-one knows how long a recession will last, he says, “and just as it can take months to be certain a recession has begun, it can take time to declare when one is over. The good news is that the recession may have ended as fast as it started. The bad news is there is plenty of uncertainty on the shape of the reopening of the economy, and the recovery will be slow even if we are no longer in recessionary territory.” With upward trends in the stock market, payroll, and employment, the economic recovery will still be dictated by whether efforts to end the pandemic are successful. “Before we prematurely celebrate the return of the consumer, the wave of new coronavirus outbreaks spreading throughout the country are a major threat to the recovery. These outbreaks are alarming, and if they accelerate, they will certainly sway consumer and business confidence, taking a toll on output and employment and prolonging the time it takes to achieve a true economic recovery.”

WRLA Launches ‘Shop Local’ Campaign

The Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA) has launched a ‘shop local’ campaign on social media and within its member stores to drive Canadians to shop their local building supply stores. “Now more than ever, Canadians need to do their part to help restore the economy, and the lumber and building supply (LBM) industry is one of the best sectors for the public to spend their hard-earned money,” says Liz Kovach, president, WRLA. “A boost in sales in the building supply sector generates far more economic value in Canada compared to many other retail sectors, including automobile, appliances, communications equipment, and clothing.” With over 330 building supply dealers located in the Prairies, there is a store nearby to most and these stores are uniquely positioned to provide the goods and services Canadians want and need right now as home renovations skyrocket while people are staying at home, she says. “If every household in the Prairies provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) spent, on average, an additional $500 on repair construction activities, it would boost provincial GDP across the three provinces by $1.5 billion, generate $938 million in labour income, and support 14,800 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced).”

Amazon Breaks Ground On Ottawa Fulfillment Centre

Amazon.com, Inc. has broken ground on its second facility in Ottawa, ON. The fulfillment centre, which is anticipated to open in 2021, will be Amazon's eighth facility in Ontario and its 14th fulfillment centre in Canada. At this facility, employees will work alongside Amazon robotics to pick, pack, and ship small items to customers. This will be Amazon's newest robotics fulfillment centre in Canada. The online retailer is also planning five new delivery stations across Ontario in Whitby, Oakville, Cambridge, Brampton, and Scarborough, with the sites anticipated to launch in 2020. Broccolini is managing construction of the centre and will act as landlord and property manager once the site is fully operational.

Klein Tools Redesigns Lineman Wrenches

Klein Tools has redesigned its Ratcheting Lineman Wrenches for lineworkers. The upgrades are intended to improve durability and feature fully integrated handles and non-slip grips for comfort. The wrenches are up to 20 per cent stronger than previous models for added durability and two models feature smaller gear teeth for shorter throws. Four models feature multiple sizes within one tool and tether holes for securing the tool.

AEP Revenue Up 14 Per Cent

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) had revenue of $7.1 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 14 per cent over revenue o $6.2 million in the first quarter of 2019. This increase was driven by organic growth of existing operations and the first full quarter with the company's South Central Building Systems location in Carman, MB. Gross margin for the quarter was 16 per cent, which was down from a gross margin of 19 per cent in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $1.1 million compared to $1.2 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $160,974 compared to adjusted EBITDA of $198,963 last year.

June 30, 2020

Building Permits Bounce Back


The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities in May bounced back 20.2 per cent to $7.4 billion, following declines of 13.4 per cent in March and 15.4 per cent in April, says Statistics Canada. This was the largest percentage increase since March 2009, and it coincided with the relaxing of COVID-19 construction restrictions in Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. The May level is still 20.4 per cent below the last peak observed in January 2020. Although all provinces still had public health guidelines in place in May, Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island had the most impactful policy changes during the month. The total value of residential permits was up in six provinces in May, increasing 18.7 per cent to $4.8 billion nationally. The vast majority of residential gains were attributable to increases in the value of permits for single-family homes, which rose by a record $518 million (+37.5 per cent), following a drop of 34.6 per cent in April. Seven provinces reported gains, led by Ontario and Quebec. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings increased 9.0 per cent to $2.9 billion and the value of commercial permits was up 20.8 per cent to $1.5 billion for the month.

Small Business Needs More Support



GST/HST payments that had been deferred to June 30 are now due and many small businesses are worried that costly penalties and interest will start accumulating on amounts they can’t yet afford to pay, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Adding to the high anxiety around cash flow, rent is due on July 1 with many still not able to access any rent relief and the existing relief program not covering rent beyond June. “We need to understand that although half of Canadian businesses are now fully open, things are still very far from normal in terms of revenues for the vast majority of businesses,” says Dan Kelly, president, CFIB. “Programs that have been extended like the wage subsidy are helping businesses bridge back to normal. We need to do that with other big costs like GST/HST and rent. Canada’s economic recovery depends on it.” CFIB recommends that GST/HST deferred payments be repayable without penalty between now and the end of the year, the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program be extended to September, tenants have access to CECRA funds directly if their landlords do not apply, and the CEBA loan be expanded to $60,000 and the forgivable portion increased to 50 per cent.

Lowe’s Canada Extends Wage Premium



Lowe’s Canada will extend the special temporary $2 per hour worked wage premium for all front-line eligible full-time and part-time hourly associates working at Lowe’s, RONA, or Reno-Depot corporate stores, contact centres, and supply chain facilities in Canada to the hours they will work throughout the month of July. “We want to recognize our associates’ continued hard work and dedication to serving our customers and meeting their needs, both in store and online,” says Marc Macdonald, senior vice-president, human resources at Lowe’s Canada. “In a context where it is challenging to recruit, we believe that extending the special temporary wage premium throughout the month of July will allow us to attract and retain talented associates across Canada.” With the high season in full swing in the home improvement industry, Lowe’s Canada’s corporate stores are still looking for hundreds of seasonal and regular positions.

Financeit Launches CleanBC Zero-interest Financing Program



Financeit and the British Columbia government have launched the ‘CleanBC Better Homes’ low-interest financing program to enable more BC residents to incorporate energy efficient heating units into their homes. This initiative provides zero to low-interest loans and zero upfront fees to homeowners to support the purchasing of high-efficiency heat pumps. “Now more than ever British Columbians need a helping hand to make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable,” says Bruce Ralston, minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources. “The low-interest program will make a real difference in the uptake of heat pump technology across the province.”

Orgill Adds To Leadership Team


Marc Hamer is executive vice-president, chief digital and information officer with Orgill for the company’s distribution business, Tyndale Advisors, and Central Network Retail Group. He has a wealth of experience and proven background modernizing legacy technologies and IT organizations in both distribution and retail, most recently at Sealed Air.

June 29, 2020

Delayed Projects To Cause Housing Start Loss


Roughly 500 construction projects in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) have been delayed because of COVID-19, and these holdups will result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the next 18 months, says a survey by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). The residential construction industry was granted essential workplace status under Ontario’s emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the industry was only able to complete homes that were near completion and work on important infrastructure projects such as hospitals. Overall development and building projects across the region were delayed. “Disruptions to the supply chain negatively impacted the ability of the industry to secure vital building materials,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO, BILD. As well, “worksites had to appropriately adjust to COVID-19 protocols and social distancing rules negatively impacted productivity and some municipalities had to adjust to working remotely. This slowed processing of planning and building applications and stalled developments and construction projects.” BILD says the delay will setback occupancy of over 8,000 units by the end of 2021, potentially exacerbating an already existing shortage of housing in the City of Toronto, reduce construction activity, and see the loss of 10,000 jobs per year.

Technology Would Help BC Businesses Recover


Businesses in British Columbia need to enhance the skills of workers and adopt information and communications technology (ICT) to overcome the damage incurred over the past three months from the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC). As a result of necessary containment measures, BC’s unemployment rate hit 13.4 per cent in May and economic forecasts for the province predict a steep economic contraction in 2020. The damage incurred over the past three months will have a persisting impact on the long-term health of BC’s economy. CPABC recommends the BC government establish programs that would help businesses implement ICT. It says these investments would improve business productivity in the short- and long-term, and are critical for getting the province’s economy back on track. The adoption of ICT is critical in facilitating a shift to remote work, continued business operations, and online services. Small businesses make up over 98 per cent of BC businesses, but many face barriers investing in technology. It is critical for the BC. government to encourage further adoption of ICT by providing input tax credits for investment into technology over the next three years.

AfterShip Offers Free Shipping Software


AfterShip, a shipping and tracking platform for online retailers, is making Postmen, its eCommerce shipping API, free with no limit on shipping volumes. Postmen is a scalable shipping solution that allows eCommerce companies to automate and optimize their shipping processes with 60 couriers worldwide. Because of COVID-19, businesses around the world have had to temporarily close their brick-and-mortar stores, forcing them to rapidly adjust operations. The shift away from in-person retail has led to unprecedented demand for eCommerce shipments, and many companies have needed to scale and adapt to a very different retail environment. Postmen API helps companies of all sizes mitigate this challenge and reduce costs by seamlessly integrating courier selection, cost and delivery time estimates, and the printing of shipping labels into their existing shipping infrastructure at no added cost to the shipper. Since February 2020, AfterShip has seen an 85 per cent increase in shipping volume, instead of the typical decrease in volume that occurs in the months after the holiday retail season.

CN Investing $305 Million In Alberta


As part of its strategic investment to support growing demand and enable supply chains, CN will invest approximately $305 million across Alberta in 2020. The investment will include expansion projects such as the construction of double track to allow more trains to pass on CN’s mainline. The maintenance program will focus on the replacement of rail and ties as well as maintenance work on track infrastructure. The investments will create greater capacity, which supports reductions in its customers’ transportation supply chain GHG emissions, by encouraging the use of rail for long haul needs. This reduces emissions, traffic congestion, accidents, and burdens on public transportation infrastructure. Moving freight by rail instead of truck reduces GHG emissions by 75 per cent. The company will also continue to invest in important safety-enhancing technologies, such as the Autonomous Track Inspection Program and Automated Inspection Portals. CN has forest products distribution centres in Calgary, Edmonton, and Edson, AB.

June 26, 2020

May GTA New Home Market Quiet

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market saw another slow month in May, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). With 866 new homes sold, it was the lowest May for total new home sales since tracking started in 2000. May’s total new home sales were down 81 per cent from May 2019 and 76 per cent below the 10-year average. Single-family homes, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), accounted for 438 new home sales, down 55 per cent from last May and 68 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments, including units in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units, at 428 units sold, were down 88 per cent from May 2019 and 80 per cent below the 10-year average. With few projects launching in May, total new home remaining inventory decreased slightly from the previous month, to 13,647 units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.

PayPal Rolls Out QR Code Touch-Free Payments

PayPal has launched QR code payments in Canada for small businesses to accept touch-free mobile payments from their customers using the PayPal app. From local stores to hair salons and farmers markets, this functionality in the PayPal app allows customers to buy or sell in-person, safely, and securely without needing to purchase any new equipment. Local business owners who have not yet implemented a touch-free payment method can create an individual QR code and hang it in their shop window or next to the cash register. Customers can go to the PayPal app, click 'Send' and tap the QR code symbol. The camera will open, and customers can scan a seller's QR code and follow the prompts to complete the transaction. To continue helping small businesses, PayPal is waiving the standard seller transaction fees incurred on sales conducted using a QR Code through September 30.

Royal Building Products Partners With One Click Contractor

Royal Building Products, a Westlake company, has expanded its virtual selling capabilities through a partnership with One Click Contractor throughout Canada. The partnership will support the virtual sales process as the company shifts into the peak sales season for exterior building products. One Click Contractor is an all-in-one virtual sales software solution. Contractors can run their entire sales process – from measuring to payment – without setting foot in a customer’s home. One Click Contractor also enables contractors to keep all the important information related to each job in one place, allowing them to focus on doing the job right instead of being buried under a mountain of paperwork.

CN Investing $235 Million In Quebec

CN will invest approximately $235 million into its operations across Quebec in 2020. The investments include various information technology projects, Positive Train Control, the replacement of rail and ties, as well as the maintenance of level crossings, culverts, signal systems, and other track infrastructure. The investments will create greater capacity, which supports reductions in its customers’ transportation supply chain GHG emissions by encouraging the use of rail for long haul needs. This reduces emissions, traffic congestion, accidents, and burdens on public transportation infrastructure as one freight train can replace over 300 trucks from roads. Moving freight by rail instead of truck reduces GHG emissions by 75 per cent. The company will also continue to invest in important safety-enhancing technologies, such as the Autonomous Track Inspection Program and Automated Inspection Portals. As well, CN, Hutchison Ports, and the Port of Quebec are working together to pioneer an intermodal container terminal. This state-of-the-art terminal is set to become a cornerstone of the deep-water, year-round Port of Quebec. The new terminal will have capacity for 700,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and will be exclusively served by CN. The opening is scheduled for spring of 2024. CN transports more than $250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors.

Szekszer Moves Up At Home Hardware

Rob Szekszer has been appointed vice-president, merchandise hardlines with Home Hardware Stores Limited. He joined the company in 2019 as director, merchandise hardlines. He has nearly 25 years of experience in the home improvement retail industry.

June 25, 2020

Retail Sales Take The Plunge, Mostly


April retail sales show the deep impact of COVID-19 on retail sales, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total unadjusted retail sales were down 13.7 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending April, and down a whopping 32.8 per cent for the month of April alone. Considering all the store closures, however, this was pretty much as expected. Retail sales are likely to be even worse in May. The food and drug sector registered record sales increases due to COVID-19, up 9.4 per cent year-over-year. Supermarkets and other grocery stores sales were up 17 per cent for the quarter. Store merchandise retail sales, on the other hand, were down 13.7 per cent and 33.2 per cent for April alone year-over-year. While overall there were major declines in location-based retail sales, there was a huge increase in eCommerce sales. In April, eCommerce retail sales were up 120.3 per cent year-over-year. It appears that bricks and clicks stores have gained more from eCommerce than pure play operators. eCommerce represented about 4.1 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending April while in April alone, eCommerce represented a record 9.5 per cent.

Americans Renovating More Than Ever


It appears U.S. homeowners want to love their home again, says a survey by online consumer lending provider LightStream. Americans are doing more renovations than ever with 77 per cent of homeowners planning to renovate their homes in 2020. They are also spending more on their renovations with the average spend per renovation up 27 per cent from 2019 to $11,473. Millennials are renovating the most with 92 per cent planning home improvement projects this year. This compares to 78 per cent of Gen Xers and 69 per cent of Boomers. As for the most popular renovation project, outdoor renovations have surpassed kitchen and bath remodels, with nearly half (47 per cent) of homeowners planning an outdoor renovation in 2020. Most homeowners (83 per cent) aren’t entirely happy with their current living space and 65 per cent have an area in their home that they don’t like to see. Homeowners are most embarrassed about – and most excited to remodel – the bathroom, bedroom and basement.

IPG Releases Social Distancing Tape Line


Intertape Polymer Group (IPG) has released a product line of social distancing tape. The line features products designed for businesses entering the reopening phase while abiding by social distancing guidelines. The indoor marking tape is designed to adhere to hard indoor surfaces and maintain clean removability, while the outdoor marking tape is durable enough to withstand foot traffic and resist elements. The line offers retail packaged products ready for prominent shelf placement. The full assortment consists of blue and orange indoor tape (1.41 inches by 60 yards) and red and yellow outdoor tape (1.88 inches by 60 yards). These products are intended to mark 6-foot distance points for directing foot traffic and facilitating safe line formation.

Canada Invests In Net-Zero Energy Buildings


The Government of Canada will invest over $2.4 toward the construction of energy-efficient residential buildings across Canada. The funding will support a project led by the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) that will enable seven housing builders to construct net-zero energy and net-zero energy ready residential buildings in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Buildings and homes contribute approximately 17 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. Net-zero energy buildings are designed and constructed to produce at least as much energy as they consume on an annual basis. The project is looking to demonstrate it is possible to construct net-zero energy ready housing with reduced cost and construction time, which will in turn inspire energy-efficient changes throughout Canada's construction industry. The investment is part of the government's commitment to fight climate change, advance for a clean energy future, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Federal funding is provided through Natural Resources Canada's Green Infrastructure program, which aims to accelerate the deployment and market entry of next-generation clean energy infrastructure in Canada.

June 24, 2020

Consumer Confidence Begins Bounce Back

As Canadian provinces move further ahead with their reopening plans, consumer confidence is following along, says the ‘Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index.’ The index, a composite measure of financial health and economic expectations, jumped to 45.4 last week from 42.9 a week earlier. That’s the largest weekly gain since 2013. “Consumer sentiment expectations on the Canadian economy are on the rise with a U-shaped trend line beginning to emerge,” says Nik Nanos, chief data scientist, in the report. “Perceptions of the future strength of the Canadian economy – although still net negative – have improved 10 points in the last four weeks.” Sentiment has now been rising for eight-straight weeks, reflecting increased optimism about the economy as provinces begin allowing retailers to open and people to congregate in larger groups. However, despite the multi-week uptick in consumer confidence, sentiment will likely take a long time to get back where they were pre-COVID, says the report.

Canada Begins Recovery From Recession

An 8.2 per cent decline in the Canadian economy this year will mark the worst annual contraction on record. However, despite the quick and pronounced economic fallout from the pandemic, recovery is underway, says the ‘Canadian Outlook Summary’ by the Conference Board of Canada. The report forecasts a brighter outlook for 2021 with an anticipated rebound of 6.7 per cent and 4.8 per cent in 2022. “This rebound is more in line with a ‘U’-shaped recovery as opposed to a ‘V’ recovery that would have seen growth increase at a faster pace,” says Alicia Macdonald, associate director of economic forecasting. “It reflects the tremendous uncertainty that will be a fact of life in the world economy over the next year or so as economies grapple with the continued health risks associated with the virus.” Factors that will affect recovery include employment, which will remain nearly 1.1 million lower for 2020 as a whole than in 2019. With many Canadians out of work, consumer spending will take a hit. After an 11.3 per cent drop in consumer spending in the first quarter of 2020, a staggering 57.5 per cent drop is expected in the second quarter. Business confidence will also take time to recover. With global demand drying up, exports are forecast to contract by 14.3 per cent in 2020. Unsurprisingly in this uncertain environment, firms are reluctant to invest in new capacity, and the report anticipates an 11.3 per cent drop in private sector investment this year.

Employment, Income Declines Impact Housing Outlook

Significant employment and income declines, coupled with uncertainty over the future trajectory of the virus and employment and income conditions, will lower demand for housing in 2020, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in its ‘Housing Market Outlook – Special Edition’ (HMO). CMHC forecasts housing starts, sales, and prices for Canada's major housing markets are likely to remain below their pre-COVID-19 levels over the forecast period. The precise timing and speed of the recovery in major markets is highly uncertain and will vary considerably. “COVID-19 has had unprecedented impacts on Canada's urban centres,” says Aled ab Iorwerth, deputy chief economist, CMHC. “Short-term uncertainty will lead to severe declines in sales activity and in new construction. As the virus is overcome, cities will bounce back, but there is significant uncertainty with respect to the path and timing of the recovery.” Sales and construction have dropped and will continue to drop across Canada's major markets. Resale activity and average house prices will fall across all markets but the rate and magnitude of declines of both will vary.

Lowe’s Canada Wins ENERGY STAR Award

Lowe’s Canada has received the ‘2020 ENERGY STAR Canada Special Recognition Award’ recognizing its commitment to energy efficiency. Lowe’s Canada offers thousands of products with a smaller environmental footprint, including hundreds of ENERGY STAR certified products, through its ECO program that has been implemented in its Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores, as well as in participating RONA dealer-owned stores. In addition to participating in various energy savings rebate programs, Lowe’s Canada works with suppliers to promote and continuously offer more ENERGY STAR certified products, such as appliances, lighting, and air conditioners. To facilitate the choices of consumers who want to reduce the environmental footprint of their projects, the products are readily identifiable in store and online. In addition, various home improvement guides on the company’s websites highlight the environmental and energy efficiency benefits of these products. As well, the company has undertaken a large project to significantly reduce the energy consumption of its corporate stores and distribution centres across the country by installing building management systems and LED lighting systems.

BMR Group Shifts Media Investment

BMR Group will devote close to 95 per cent of its media investment over the next 12 months to local media. In these particularly difficult times, coupled with the trend of digital media eating away at media revenues, the group says it was only natural to go even further and enhance its commitment to support the local economy and local communities. In the past three years, BMR has already invested nearly $25 million in the local media industry. These investments should increase significantly with the signing of new agreements with local partners. The media plan for the next 12 months will be based on the use of local digital platforms and traditional media that are already part of the group's strategies.

June 23, 2020

Public Health Measures Impact Building Construction

Investment in building construction plunged 45.9 per cent to $8.4 billion in April compared with the previous month, says Statistics Canada. Previously, the largest national decline on record for the current series (which dates back to 2010) was a 3.9 per cent decrease in August 2017. Both the residential (-49.2 per cent) and non-residential (-38.8 per cent) sectors reported record declines. Investment decreased in all provinces and territories, with Ontario (-$3.2 billion) and Quebec (-$2.5 billion) reporting the largest declines. Public health measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 severely impacted the construction industry as the largest provinces in the country shut down all non-essential construction sites. Declines in the residential sector varied by province, however, at a national level, the declines were felt more sharply in single family homes (-54.7 per cent) than in multi-family dwellings (-43.5 per cent). Residential renovations largely ground to a halt across the country, with the exception of certain activities such as emergency and exterior repairs, as many projects were cancelled or deferred to comply with public health requirements. On the other hand, new residential construction was able to progress across most of the country in April. Excluding Quebec, new residential construction increased 11.7 per cent on an unadjusted basis compared with April 2019, as construction firms adapted to public health requirements such as improved on-site sanitation, physical distancing, and staggered work schedules. Investment in the non-residential sector plummeted 38.8 per cent to $3 billion in April compared with the previous month.

Lowe’s Canada Corporate Stores Support Local Charities

To help their local children’s hospital and food bank cope with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 23 Lowe’s and RONA corporate stores in Calgary and Edmonton, AB, came together to present the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and Edmonton’s Food Bank with a donation of $11,000 and $12,000, respectively. The funds will help these organizations provide medical and food relief to local residents impacted by the current crisis. As well, RONA and Reno-Depot corporate stores on Montreal, QC’s South Shore and in the West Island presented a check of $15,000 to two local food banks. Moisson Rive-Sud and The Depot Community Food Centre were recently presented with cheques in the amount of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to help them provide emergency food aid to local residents facing food insecurity. Over the past few weeks, many Canadians who lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis have turned to food banks, which have seen an increase in food aid requests. The donations were made possible because of the philanthropic investment of $1,000,000 that was announced by Lowe’s Canada in April to support its associates and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maibec Officially Acquires CanExel

Maibec has officially acquired the CanExel brand and production facility located in East River, NS. Both the brand and the facility have been owned by LP Building Solutions (LP) for over 20 years. The transaction, poised to strengthen Maibec's reputation in custom exterior siding systems, aligns well with its expansion strategy to become the manufacturer and supplier of choice for residential and commercial construction and renovation in Canada and the U.S. CanExel will now be sold under the name Maibec CanExel. The deal is part of LP's Siding business' strategy to focus exclusively on supporting demand for its strand-based siding products.

Falcon Equipment Adds To Its Lineup

Falcon Equipment Ltd. is now the exclusive dealer of Beauroc Inc. throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Beauroc was founded in 1985 and manufactures premium dump bodies for class 3-8 dump truck bodies, landscape bodies, and multipurpose bodies. Its dump bodies heavy-duty for strength but lightweight for maximum payload. The bodies are available in steel and stainless in a variety of product models. In conjunction with this partnership with Beauroc, Falcon Equipment is now also a Parker OEM. Parker will become a standard product offering, complementing the Falcon Equipment builds.

Cooler Makes Tools Mobile

DEWALT has launched its TSTAK Mobile Cooler. The cooler allows users to take their tools and other equipment with them wherever they go. It has an organizer lid with fixed dividers for organizing drill bits and accessories and a large volume body that can store hand or power tools. The cooler is made from a plastic that's strong enough to hold up to professional use. It can be stacked on top of any other TSTAK module, and has an ice retention capability of three days. It also features seven-inch all-terrain wheels, an integrated metal bottle opener, and the lid top has two can holders.



June 22, 2020

Online Sales Dominate April Retail Sales

Retail sales were down by just over one-quarter (-26.4 per cent) in April to $34.7 billion and have fallen by one-third (-33.6 per cent) since physical distancing measures were implemented in mid-March, says Statistics Canada. Motor vehicle and parts dealers took the largest hit in April, while online sales surged to a record high, representing 9.5 per cent of the total retail market. Approximately one-third of retailers were closed during April. The average length of shutdown was eight business days. Sales were down in all 11 subsectors. Retail sales in volume terms were down a record 25.2 per cent, following an 8.2 per cent decline in March, bringing total sales down by almost one-third (-31.3 per cent) since the onset of the pandemic. Retail sales in the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealer category were down 10.8 per cent year-over-year to $2.8 billion in April. Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada has provided an advance estimate of May sales, expecting them to increase by 19.1 per cent. Online sales continued to climb during April, with not seasonally adjusted retail eCommerce sales accounting for record 9.5 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, total eCommerce more than doubled at 120.3 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were down by 30.5 per cent.

Unifor Applauds Decision To Keep Statutory Holidays

Unifor, a union with members that include retail workers, says it is pleased with the decision by the Ontario government to cancel its proposal to eliminate all but three statutory holidays for retail workers. “We are pleased that the Ford government has changed its mind on this issue,” says Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor. “Retail workers have been a vital part of getting our communities through the pandemic. Coming just days after their pay was cut by major grocers, the possibility that they would lose their statutory holidays just added insult to injury.” Unifor is leading efforts to make fair pay permanent as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic. The ‘Fair Pay Forever’ campaign calls for historic inequities in the sector to be corrected. Many workers are forced to take more than one part-time job to get by.

J.D. Irving To Upgrade New Brunswick Facility

J.D. Irving’s sawmills division will break ground in July in Doaktown, NB, as it expands its facility there by 14,000 square feet. The $35 million project will bring together the sawmill, planer mill, and value-add centre under one roof. Currently, the sawmill is located across the road of the rest of the facility. As well, state-of-the-art technology will be implemented throughout the lumber production process. The company hopes to open the facility in spring 2021.

Walmart Partners With Shopify

Walmart has joined forces with eCommerce platform Shopify to open the Walmart Marketplace for use by Shopify’s third-party online sellers. Walmart is focusing on U.S.-based small and medium businesses whose assortment complements the retailer’s and who have a positive track record in customer service. This integration will allow approved Shopify sellers to list their items on Walmart.com, which gives Walmart customers access to a broader assortment. The retailer anticipates adding 1,200 sellers this year.

Wolseley Canada Makes Changes

Wolseley Canada is further aligning its Plumbing and HVAC, AMRE Supply, and Industrial businesses by shifting its organizational structure from three operating regions to two. As such, Sébastien Laforge is vice-president, eastern Canada, and Chris Choquette is vice-president, western Canada. Laforge has been with the company since 2007 and Choquette joined the company in 2019.

June 19, 2020

April Wholesale Sales Plummet

As the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread throughout the economy, wholesale sales plummeted an unprecedented 21.6 per cent to $49.8 billion in April, the lowest level since July 2013. All seven subsectors recorded lower sales for the first time since November 2008. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector contributed the most to the decline. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales were down 14.2 per cent. Wholesale sales volumes dropped 21.5 per cent, a record monthly decline, to their lowest level since September 2009. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed sales $16.9 billion (unadjusted) lower in April, with four-fifths (79.5 per cent) of wholesalers reporting an impact to their business. While all seven subsectors recorded lower seasonally adjusted sales in April, there were some sub-industries where sales increased on an unadjusted basis, including nursery stock and plants. Nine provinces recorded lower sales in Canada, with Ontario posting the largest drop. Saskatchewan recorded the only provincial increase.

May U.S. Retail Sales Rise Dramatically

U.S. retail sales rose dramatically in May as retailers and other businesses closed by the coronavirus pandemic began to reopen, but remained well below spending levels seen during the same period a year ago, says the National Retail Federation. The U.S. Census Bureau’s report says May retail sales were up 17.7 per cent seasonally adjusted from April, but down 6.1 per cent year-over-year. That follows a record-setting 14.7 per cent month-over-month drop in April. These numbers are subject to change because stores in many areas of the U.S. remained closed and retailers were unable to respond to the Census Bureau’s monthly survey of data. NRF says every category of retail saw month-over-month gains, with some of them dramatic, especially among retailers that had been mostly closed the month before – clothing stores were up 188 per cent while furniture stores were up 89.7 per cent. Year-over-year gains online and at retailers that had remained open were largely offset by drops in other categories. May sales at building materials and garden supply stores were up 10.9 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 10.8 per cent unadjusted year-over-year.

Canfor Subsidiary To Acquire Swedish Mills

Canfor Corporation subsidiary, Vida Group, plans to purchase three sawmills located in Sweden from Bergs Timber. The mills will add approximately 215 million board feet to Vida’s annual capacity. With additional investment, Vida anticipates the production capacity of the mills can be increased to 300 million board feet. After taking into account this additional production capacity, Sweden will represent 22 per cent of Canfor’s globally diversified operating platforms, plus 43 per cent in British Columbia, 31 per cent in the southern U.S. and four per cent in Alberta. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020.

PPG, Universal Display Celebrate 20 Year Partnership

PPG and Universal Display Corporation (UDC) are celebrating the 20-year anniversary of their strategic partnership to produce UDC’s proprietary phosphorescent OLED (UniversalPHOLED) materials. The long-standing collaboration focuses on delivering energy-efficient, high-performing, high-quality products to OLED display and lighting panel customers around the world. UDC is a supplier of phosphorescent organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials and technologies, which are used to produce high-performance, thin, energy-efficient displays for consumer electronic products, including smartphones, televisions and tablets, and for power-efficient, soft emission solid-state lighting applications. PPG is the exclusive manufacturer of UDC’s UniversalPHOLED emitter materials that enable the development of low-power and eco-friendly displays and lighting. The two companies began their partnership in 2000, when televisions were using cathode-ray tubes and OLEDs were in the early research and development stage. Since then, the global OLED market has grown and PPG and UDC have expanded production capacity from PPG’s Monroeville, PA, facility to its Barberton, OH, site.

Queuing App Reduces In-store Waiting Time

The Keeoo.me application is a queuing app designed by Patrick Lepage, a computer scientist and president o Raphaël U. With the consistent increase in online shopping that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing is perfect for this app, says Lepage, because in-store shopping has lost appeal for many. Keeoo.me is designed to encourage consumers to visit their local retail stores by offering a value-added experience. It uses text messages to help businesses coordinate customer traffic wherever there is a line-up. Customers who need to get expert advice, to pick up their order, use a change room, or who want to enjoy an evening out at the restaurant can do so without constraints. “It's simple; you add your name to a virtual queue and all you have to do is wait for the text message to notify you when it's your turn.”

June 18, 2020

U.S. Retail Sales Increase Due To Stimulus

May U.S. retail sales were up 17.7 per cent in May compared to April, and offered some hope of a quicker recovery from the pandemic-induced recession. However, the increase was likely the result of government stimulus and shows why lawmakers need to extend those measures, says Ryan Sweet, head of monetary policy research at Moody’s Analytics. The increase in sales, which reached $485 billion in receipts, was the biggest gain in data going back to 1992, following unprecedented declines in the prior two months. Emerging after a surprise 2.5 million increase in U.S. jobs during the month, the sales increase suggest a faster-than-anticipated rebound from what’s likely to prove the steepest downturn since the Great Depression. After months of being stuck at home because of the coronavirus, Americans began to travel and visit store fronts as states relaxed lockdowns. “Stimulus packed more of a punch than economists anticipated,” says Sweet. “If you put money in people’s pockets, people are going to spend.” He cautions, however, that it’s important to look at the retail spending levels as well, which remain well below pre-coronavirus activity.

Group BMR Takes Buying Show Virtual

Group BMR has decided to take its ‘2020 Trade Show’ virtual. In a note to dealers, the company says it will not compromise the health and safety of the members of its network during this pandemic. “There is no way to know what public health recommendations will look like by November, but right now, it seems unlikely that we will be allowed to hold an event of nearly 1,500 people in one location. In the face of such uncertainty, we have had to completely rethink the format of the event, and a virtual trade show seemed to be the obvious choice.” The show was also moved up from November, when it was usually held, to October 5. The group has other plans for November, when it plans to deploy its new ERP system, Solstice.

HAI Launches Carton-picking Robots

HAI ROBOTICS has launched two HAIPICK robots, the carton-picking ACR HAIPICK A42N and double-deep ACR HAIPICK A42D. The HAIPICK A42N is the world's first carton-picking ACR. It uses cartons as the handling units rather than only totes. Its 3D visual recognition technology identifies goods without the need of codes, resulting in faster inventory count through shelf scanning. It supports multi-size carton/tote picking and can be applied to multiple business needs. The software platform is tailored to support case-picking and piece-picking. Cartons and totes can be reused to lower costs. The HAIPICK A42D is the world's first double-deep ACR that optimizes space usage and increases storage density in warehouses. It can reduce the number of aisles by 50 per cent while increasing storage density by 130 per cent. Its telescopic fork can be customized for two rows of double-deep shelving.

Simpson Strong-Tie Adds Lengths

Simpson Strong-Tie has introduced two longer lengths to its line of L-shaped RCA rigid connector angle utility clips for cold-formed steel construction. The product line extension introduces 9-inch and 11-inch clips to the existing lineup of 3-, 5-, and 7-inch clips. The clips are available in 12, 14, and 16 gauge and feature a G90 galvanized coating for enhanced protection against corrosion. They have pre-punched holes to aid in quicker and more accurate fastener attachment and can be used for a wide variety of cold-formed steel applications, including miscellaneous header/sill connections to jamb studs, jamb stud reinforcement at track, u-channel bridging, stud-blocking, bypass curtain-wall framing, and joist connections.

Wallin To Lead BLANCO

Garth Wallin has been appointed to president and chief executive officer of BLANCO North America. He is currently president of BLANCO Canada and will retain this role as well. He has been with the company for six years.

June 17, 2020

Ontario Faces Uncertain Economic Recovery

Ontario faces an uncertain economic recovery as it gradually resumes business activity amidst a COVID-19 induced recession which saw 1.1 million jobs lost in the province between January and April, says Edgard Navarrete, regional economist with Central 1, a financial product and service provider. In Central 1’s latest Ontario economic analysis, Navarrete says that the province’s annual real gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to contract by 7.4 per cent in 2020. “This contraction will be driven by sizeable trade exposures in tourism, new car production, agriculture, and diminished domestic consumption in housing and retail.” Poor business conditions are forecast to continue into mid-year before a re-opening of the economy underpins a stronger recovery phase through 2021, when GDP is expected to see five per cent growth, followed by 2.6 per cent and 2.5 per cent growth in 2022 and 2023. The unemployment rate will gradually improve but will remain above trend over the next four years. “Many businesses that were already struggling pre-crisis may not survive the pandemic, compounding the drag on growth going forward even as the economy opens up,” says Navarrete. “Some sectors will be more insulated, such as businesses which can utilize eCommerce and those with workers who can work effectively from home.” He says that the fact that Ontario is beginning to reopen its economy offers a glimmer of hope.

London IKEA Store Plans Scrapped

IKEA Canada has decided not to open a store in London, ON, a decision it has delayed since 2018. “We had previously announced that we would delay the London store project as we evaluated the best solution for the site,” says Kristin Newbigging, public relations official with IKEA Canada. “We are in a rapidly evolving retail landscape and to ensure we are fit for long-term growth, we have had to re-evaluate some of our expansion plans. We have now made the difficult decision to no longer pursue the acquisition of land in London. As such, we will not move forward with plans to build a store in the region.” The London store was originally part of the retailer’s plan to expand into smaller markets. London residents will now have to drive to Burlington, ON, to shop and pick up items from IKEA. In January, the retailer also closed its London-based pickup store.

Dollarama Insiders To Sell Portion Of Shares

The Rossy Foundation, GRI Investments – a private corporation controlled by the Rossy family, and Neil Rossy, president and chief executive officer of Dollarama Inc. will sell off over three million shares of the corporation to a financial institution. The group of three will be left with approximately 5.8 per cent of company shares once the trades are settled. Proceeds from the sale of shares by The Rossy Foundation will be used to fund existing commitments to charitable organizations. The decision by GRI Investments Inc. and Neil Rossy to sell a portion of their respective holdings in Dollarama was made for financial diversification purposes. Dollarama is a private corporation owned by the Rossy family.

KNIPEX Releases Tool Tips Video Series

KNIPEX Tools has launched a 30-day ‘KNIPEX Tool Tips’ video series. Every day in June, the official KNIPEX Facebook page will release short videos of product demos, tips, and unexpected uses for some of KNIPEX’s popular tools. All videos are hosted by Peter Grable, KNIPEX’s product manager. With the COVID-19 pandemic inspiring numerous ‘30-Day Challenges’ across the internet, KNIPEX was inspired to introduce its own month-long video campaign and use it as an opportunity to introduce its audience to some of the lesser-known tools, educate them on the proper use of various KNIPEX products, and recreate some of the company’s popular trade show booth demonstrations. In addition to the daily videos, KNIPEX will also do weekly giveaways of some of the tools featured in the video series.

Toronto Fall Home Show Cancelled

Toronto’s annual home show has been cancelled due to ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and current recommendations from healthcare and government officials. ‘Home Show: Smarter Living’ is owned and operated by BILD GTA (Building Industry and Land Development Association, Greater Toronto, ON, Area) and formerly known as the ‘Fall Home Show.’ It was scheduled to take place October 2 to 4 at the Enercare Centre. “We feel it is in the best interest of our guests, exhibitors, and staff to cancel at this time,” says Duncan Payne, managing director, home shows. “We have already begun planning our 2021 shows and look forward to providing an exciting lineup and interactive experiences for our guests soon.”

June 16, 2020

Small Business Owners Remain Optimistic

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of small business owners feel prepared to make the necessary changes needed when they can reopen to the public, says a survey by GoDaddy. Smaller-sized businesses (one to four employees) and those in Quebec (63 per cent) are more likely to feel very prepared to reopen their business safely. In fact, only nine per cent say they are very unprepared to reopen their business safely. Even while social distancing, small business owners and entrepreneurs are working hard to keep their businesses open. Improving online tools is the top adaptation business owners made, says the survey. This shift to online opportunities is here to stay, with 37 per cent saying they plan to maintain their online presence even once they can physically reopen. Prior to being shut down, about half of small businesses had a social media presence and roughly the same number had a website. An additional 25 per cent of entrepreneurs have now created a website or started a social media account to help market their businesses as they remain closed physically. The top challenges businesses face include understanding changes in consumer spending behaviour (43 per cent), ensuring hygiene standards (27 per cent), issues in supply chain (26 per cent), working from home (25 per cent), paying employees (24 per cent), and paying rent (23 per cent). Despite these challenges, business owners are taking the steps they need and continue to remain optimistic about reopening.

May Home Sales, New Listings On The Rise

National home sales and new listings were up noticeably in May compared to April, although they are still historically low at this time, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales rebounded by a record 56.9 per cent in May, although, that is as a percentage of the weakest month of April on record. As such, the May gain constituted a return of only a third of the activity lost between February and April, and the May sales figure was still the lowest level for that month since the mid-1990s. Transactions were up on a month-over-month basis across the country. Among Canada's largest markets, sales rose by 53 per cent in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA; 92.3 per cent in Montreal, QC; 31.5 per cent in Greater Vancouver, BC; 20.5 per cent in the Fraser Valley, BC; 68.7 per cent in Calgary, AB; 46.5 per cent in Edmonton, AB; 45.6 per cent in Winnipeg, MB; 69.4 per cent in Hamilton-Burlington, ON; and 30.5 per cent in Ottawa, ON. The number of newly listed homes climbed by a record 69 per cent in May compared to April. As with sales activity, gains were recorded across the country.

Physical Distancing Impacts Manufacturing Sales

Manufacturing sales fell by a record 28.5 per cent to $36.4 billion in April, following a 9.8 per cent decline in March, says Statistics Canada. April marked the first full month of physical distancing measures in the wake of COVID-19 and manufacturing plants operated at limited capacity or ceased operations completely. Sales were down in all 21 industries, led by sharp declines in the transportation equipment and petroleum and coal product industries. In volume terms, manufacturing sales fell by a record 26 per cent, indicating that a much lower volume of products was sold in April. Over four-fifths (85.2 per cent) of establishments in the manufacturing sector say their activities were impacted by COVID-19. Based on respondent feedback, the largest estimated impacts of COVID-19 on manufacturing sales in dollar terms were in the transportation equipment, petroleum and coal product, fabricated metal product, plastic and rubber product, food, machinery, and primary metal industries. Manufacturing sales were down in every province in April. However, Ontario and Quebec accounted for over four-fifths (-81 per cent) of the national decline. Inventory levels decreased 0.6 per cent to $87.8 billion for the month, following a 0.7 per cent increase in March. Inventories were down in 12 of 21 industries.

Lowe’s Canada Recognized As Sustainability Leader

Lowe’s Canada recently received its eighth ‘Leader in Sustainability’ award from Call2Recycle in recognition of its exceptional commitment to battery recycling. The award recognizes contributions that play a key role in diverting recyclable products from landfills. In 2019 alone, 116,000 kg of batteries were recovered thanks to the recovery units installed in Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate and affiliated stores across the country, making the Lowe’s Canada network one of the program’s highest-performing partners. In addition to the recovery of batteries, Lowe’s Canada has rolled out a number of programs aimed at recovering products that would pose a danger to the environment if they were to end up in landfills. In 2019, the company recovered around 2,720,000 kg of paint and 96,000 kg of CFL bulbs and fluorescent tubes. Added to this are recovery and recycling measures for various types of residual materials such as cardboard, paper, plastic, wood, and metal. The company has also set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent below its 2016 levels by 2030. To achieve this, the organization will invest over $24,000,000 to carry out initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of its corporate stores and distribution centres across the country.

June 15, 2020

Reaction To COVID-19 Affects March Retail Sales

March retail sales decreased 10.9 per cent, to $43.4 billion, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales were reported in 12 of the 19 product categories. Retailers and consumers experienced the economic effects of COVID-19, including the effects of physical distancing and self-isolation regulations. The largest contributor to the monthly decline came from lower sales of motor vehicles (-34.9 per cent). Many store types were deemed non-essential and closed their storefront operations. Subsequently, lower sales were also posted in the clothing (-46.4 per cent) and footwear (-48.2 per cent) categories. However, essential products were still in demand. As consumers stayed home and cooked for themselves, the category to post the largest sales increase was food (+19.5 per cent). As well, while sales in many product categories were down because of COVID-19, certain products experienced higher-than-usual demand, partly due to stockpiling. Sales of housewares increased 22.9 per cent, primarily from higher sales of miscellaneous household supplies not elsewhere classified (+41.8 per cent), which include batteries, facial tissue, paper towels, and toilet paper. Sales in the hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden products category was down 1.4 per cent in March to $2,868 billion.

May Home Sales Improve Over April

Residential home sales in the Greater Vancouver, BC region totalled 1,485 in May, a 43.7 per cent decrease from the 2,638 sales recorded in May 2019 and a 33.9 per cent increase from the 1,109 homes sold in April, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Last month’s sales were 54.4 per cent below the 10-year May sales average. There were 3,684 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in May. This represents a 37.1 per cent decrease compared to the 5,861 homes listed in May 2019 and a 59.3 per cent increase compared to April when 2,313 homes were listed. The total number of homes currently listed for sale in Metro Vancouver is 9,927, a 32.4 per cent decrease compared to May 2019 (14,685) and a 5.7 per cent increase compared to April 2020 (9,389). Sales of detached homes reached 534 for the month, a 41.5 per cent decrease from the 913 in the year-ago period. Sales of apartment homes reached 653, a 47.6 per cent decrease compared to the 1,246 sales last year. Attached home sales totalled 298, a 37.8 per cent decrease compared to the 479 sales in May 2019.

Ontario To Pass Moratorium On Commercial Evictions

The Ontario government intends to implement a moratorium on commercial evictions or businesses having their assets seized by landlords due to negative impacts of COVID-19. The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible. If passed, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31. Alberta and Saskatchewan already have a moratorium on commercial evictions in place.

AZEK Goes Public

CPG Newco LLC (doing business as The AZEK Company) has launched its initial public offering following its conversion into a corporation. The company has listed its Class A common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘AZEK.’ AZEK is a manufacturer of residential and commercial building products.

Hutchison Port To Open Quebec City Container Port

More than one hundred companies have given their support to the development of Laurentia, the Port of Quebec's deep-water container terminal project, which will create a new economical supply chain for Quebec and eastern Canadian importers and exporters, enabling them to gain efficient access to international markets in Asia and Europe. The Quebec Container Terminal, operated by Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) and Canadian National (CN), will open in early 2024 and will provide shippers with improved access to traditional markets in Europe and the Mediterranean as well expanding markets in southeast Asia. The port will be an ecological and technologically advanced facility that will offer import-export companies faster transportation times and more competitive rates than those currently offered by other ports on the east coast of the U.S. operating in the deep-water seaport and large container ship markets.

June 12, 2020

Small Business Must Adapt To Virtual Economy

Small businesses that have successfully leveraged technology and online platforms are identified as remaining resilient during this unprecedented period that is the COVID-19 pandemic, says apolicy brief by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. ‘Small Business, Big Pivot’ says small businesses were the hardest hit and experienced twice the number of job losses compared to mid- and large-sized firms during the COVID-19 crisis. Women, youth, minorities, and First Nations were found to have been particularly impacted since they tend to be employed within the most disrupted parts of the small-business economy. “As consumer behaviour shifts, the ability of small businesses to adapt and pivot will be a major determinant of Ontario’s long-term economic recovery,” says Rocco Rossi, president and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The report “underscores that small firms need to leverage new technologies with the aim of adapting to the virtual economy,” says Rossi. However, changing consumer trends present challenges for small firms, especially those that are digital novices, have limited capital, or are located in parts of the province with poor or unreliable broadband internet access. “While the federal and provincial governments have taken swift action and extraordinary steps to keep small businesses afloat, permanent closures will have ramifications for local supply chains, workers, and communities alike. Policymakers, therefore, should consider the recommendations contained in ‘Small Business, Big Pivot,’ as we continue to strengthen small businesses and work towards Canada’s economic rebuild.”

Border Services To Investigate Plywood Dumping Claim

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is launching investigations to determine whether certain decorative and other non-structural plywood originating in or exported from China is being sold at unfair prices in Canada, and whether subsidies are being applied. The investigations are the result of a complaint filed by Columbia Forest Products, Husky Plywood, Rockshield Engineered Wood Products ULC, and the Canadian Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, and is supported by Precision Veneer Products, Ltd. and ProPly Custom Plywood Inc. The complainants allege that the Canadian industry is facing an increase in the volume of the allegedly dumped and subsidized imports, loss of market share and sales, price undercutting, price depression, underutilization of capacity, threat to continuous investments, impacted financial results, and reduced employment. The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) will begin a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the imports are harming Canadian producers and will issue a decision by August 10. Concurrently, the CBSA will investigate whether imports are being sold in Canada at unfair and/or subsidized prices and will make preliminary decisions by September 9.

Venzee Expands Retail Integration Core

Venzee Technologies Inc., responding to a marked increase in demand for retail channel connections, has launched a set of process and technology changes that facilitate more rapid retail ‘plug & play’ connections and enhanced workflow capabilities to satisfy manufacturer demand. Built to leverage modern machine learning and AI tools, the Venzee platform operates in the critical ‘last mile’ of supply chain – automating the flow of digital product information from brands and manufacturers to their retail partners. The company has previously reported a significant number of available retail channel connections. However, with global supply chain challenges accelerating in March, requests from brands for more automation of retail channel connections resulted in a channel backlog. In response, Venzee has added additional resources and automation workflows that simplify itsinternet-standard retail integration model. The company expects to satisfy existing demand and all new retail channel requests in stages over the next six months.

April Cabinet Sales Down 22 Per Cent

Cabinet manufacturers had a significant decrease in overall sales of 22 per cent for April compared to the April 2019, says the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) in its monthly ‘Trend of Business Survey.’ Custom sales were down 30.4 per cent, semi-custom sales decreased 25.4 per cent, and stock sales decreased 17.8 per cent. Overall cabinet sales were down 30.9 per cent in April compared to March. Custom sales decreased 35.7 per cent; semi-custom sales decreased 31.5 per cent; and stock sales decreased 29.6 per cent compared to the previous month. The decrease is a result of the economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says KCMA. Overall year-to-date cabinet sales decreased slightly at one per cent over last year due to the April dip. Year-to-date custom sales decreased 4.1 per cent, semi-custom sales were down 5.9 per cent, and stock sales remained strong at an increase of 3.2 per cent.

June 11, 2020

Ontario Dealer Joins Castle

Havelock, ON-based HBM Metal Roofing and Trim has joined Castle Building Centres Group Limited. The business is a full-service retail building supply store that offers a complete line of building products including lumber, paint, hardware, plumbing, electrical, and tools. Founders Tom Main and Frank Nunes have been in the building industry for over 40 years. Main spent many years of his career calling on independent LBM stores and created many friendships within the Castle family. When he made the move into his own LBM retail venture, he decided that Castle was the buying group that best reflected his own values. “What I learned over the years from the many Castle dealers I connected with was that store owners were the decision makers at Castle. Their fellowship was genuine, and Castle’s family-based values really stood out to me. Knowing my own children will one day continue my legacy makes Castle the right fit for our business,” says Main. An official grand opening is planned for late summer.

Lowe’s Canada To Build Alberta Distribution Centre

Lowe’s Canada will work with Highfield Investment Group, a Calgary-based investment company that operates and manages assets in residential and commercial real estate developments and construction, to build a distribution centre in the High Plains Industrial Park, within Rocky View County northeast of Calgary, AB. The project is part of Lowe’s Canada’s plans to optimize its Canadian distribution network to better meet the needs and expectations of its in-store and online customers. The 1,230,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in the fall of 2021 and will represent a joint investment of more than $120 million. “This new distribution centre will allow us to substantially enhance our distribution network capacity and serve our Lowe’s and RONA corporate stores and customers, as well as our RONA affiliated dealers, more efficiently throughout western Canada,” says Gregor Stuart, senior vice-president, supply chain at Lowe’s Canada.

Simpson Strong-Tie Launches Video Series

Simpson Strong-Tie has launched an eight-episode video series for contractors and homeowners on how to build a stronger deck. The videos guide viewers through the most important steps to building a safer and stronger deck from the ground up. The first episode of the ‘Build a Stronger Deck’ series has debuted on YouTube. It looks at available options and solutions for stronger, safer post bases. The second video features deck ledger installation, with further episodes detailing construction tips for installing beams, joists, guard posts, stair stringers, and deck boards. Finally, a special fastener episode gives viewers expert advice on selecting the best anchors and fasteners to attach hangers, joists, and angles to deck ledgers and railings. New episodes will air throughout the summer and are available for streaming on the Simpson Strong-Tie YouTube channel.

Rogers Expands Local Business Support Program

Rogers Communications has launched a website and social media campaign to showcase small businesses as they continue to innovate and adapt with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. The site provides access to resources to help businesses pivot and adjust to new ways of serving customers. The platform, called ‘Operation Support Local,’ launched in April in partnership with Scotiabank and has delivered more than $1 million in free media support to local businesses across the country through Rogers Sports & Media radio stations and Breakfast Television. Businesses have a chance to be featured on-air on one of the company’s 56 radio stations across Canada. In an extension of this program, Rogers will feature some of its small business customers and their stories on its website – supportlocal.rogers.com – which will be supported by a targeted social media campaign to help highlight the businesses in their local area. In addition to putting a spotlight on local businesses, the Operation Support Local website provides access to a selection of free online learning programs and modules designed to help small business grow and adapt. As part of the initiative, Rogers has teamed up with companies like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Through the site, Canadian small business owners will have access to Facebook Blueprint – an online training platform for advertisers with over 90+ eLearning courses.

 

Dollarama Sales Rise, Earnings Decline

Dollarama Inc. has sales of $844.8 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2021, an increase of two per cent compared to sales of $828 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. The increase in sales is attributable to the growth in the total number of stores. Comparable sales, excluding temporarily closed stores, grew 0.7 per cent in the quarter. This consisted of a 22.6 per cent increase in average transaction size and a 17.9 per cent decrease in the number of transactions. Gross margin was 41.3 per cent of sales in the quarter, compared to 42.1 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. Net earnings decreased to $86.1 million compared to $103.5 million last year. This decrease in net earnings is mainly the result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-store traffic, sales, and gross margin.

June 10, 2020

CanWel To Distribute For CertainTeed Canada

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd.’s CanWel Building Materials Division has entered into a multi-year partnership with CertainTeed Canada for the distribution of its glass mineral wool insulation products to the lumber, building materials, and OEM channels. CanWel will extend its product offering for the LBM channel to include this product line. CanWel’s national stocking and LTL infrastructure, supported by its logistics and sales services, will make the CertainTeed products available to dealers across Canada.

Online Retailers Unaware Of Risks

Most eCommerce merchants are unaware of the risks they face in protecting and restoring the data that powers their business, says research by Rewind, a provider of data protection applications for software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools. The research says businesses have lost product images, customer orders, and inventory counts in seconds but spent days or weeks to restore it, if they were able to recover at all. In fact, one in four retailers have permanently lost critical business data – crippling sales and revenue. Yet, 60 per cent of of retailers say that, until recently, they had no backup strategy in place. Eighty per cent of retailers say losing content would significantly impact their business, either crushing sales or damaging their online reputation. Retailers identify the biggest threat to their online stores as human error (57 per cent), cyberattacks (57 per cent), and third-party applications (53 per cent). Rewinds says that as more traditional businesses move their operations to the web, protecting the data that powers their digital sales and operations will become more crucial than ever before.

PPG Initiates Global Restructuring

PPG is implementing significant and broad restructuring actions to reduce its global cost structure due to weakened global economic conditions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and related pace of recovery in a few end-use markets. The restructuring will also give the company opportunities to optimize supply chain and functional costs. When completed, the company expects the planned actions will deliver $160 to $170 million in annual pre-tax cost savings, with approximately $25 to $35 million of savings projected in 2020. The remainder of the annual cost savings is anticipated to be substantially realized by year-end 2021. The plan includes a voluntary separation program that was offered in the U.S. and Canada. “These measures will enable the company to come out of the crisis with lower structural costs,” says Michael H. McGarry, chief executive officer of PPG. “As a result of these actions, along with continued discretionary cost controls, we expect strong operating margin leverage as economic activity continues to improve.”

Soffit Light Is For Under Deck Living Spaces

Trex’ RainEscape Soffit Light is a directional LED downlight that installs into the ceiling below a deck drainage system on an elevated deck. The energy efficient fixture is compatible with the Trex Outdoor Lighting collection and the Trex LightHub system. It is ideal for use with decks outfitted with the Trex RainEscape deck drainage system to complete the look of an under-deck ceiling and living space. The fixture offers plug-and-play components that integrate seamlessly with Trex Outdoor Lighting components, so builders and DIYers don’t need to hire an electrician to install it. The fixtures are available in bronze, black, and white finishes, and feature CREE long-life LEDs that use 75 per cent less energy than standard can lights. The Trex RainEscape Soffit Light is backed by a limited five-year warranty on the LED light and a 10-year warranty on the powder coating.

Kibsgaard Leads Katerra

Paal Kibsgaard is chief executive officer of Katerra, a technology company in the construction industry. He joined the company in 2019 as chief operating officer and has served on the board of directors since 2016.

June 9, 2020

May Housing Starts Trend Downward

The trend in housing starts was 196,750 units in May, down from 198,644 units in April, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Excluding Quebec (which resumed residential construction on April 20), the trend was 151,072 units in May, down from 155,600 units in April. This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. “Outside of Quebec, the national trend in housing starts decreased in May,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC. “Higher multi-family starts in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were offset by declines in British Columbia and the Prairies. We expect national starts to continue to register declines in the near term, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 measures.” The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada excluding Quebec saw a decrease of 20.4 per cent in May from April. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 21.6 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7,772 units excluding Quebec.

Industry Group Says Construction Key To Recovery

The Canadian and Ontario Home Builders’ Associations (CHBA and OHBA) and the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) have submitted a 20-point plan to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee to help kick-start the Canadian economy post COVID-19. The group says the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canada, Ontario, and the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA). Millions of people lost their jobs and the economy has all but ground to a halt. Proposed measures in the plan include transferring mortgage tenancy to the date of occupancy for new condominiums, eliminating security deposits for Ontario Land Transfer Tax on affiliated transfers, and freezing municipal increases to Property Tax Reassessment and development charges. Another proposed recommendation is to free up monies that would otherwise be stuck in such things as municipal agreements (refundable deposits paid by developers) and replace them with surety bonds, freeing up billions in potential investments that otherwise would have been parked. The group says that to help stimulate economic growth and keep Canadians properly housed, housing supply must be fostered and demand-side measures must be adjusted to reflect the times.

Lowe’s, RONA Support Osler Foundation

The 14 Lowe’s and RONA corporate stores in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) have united in support of William Osler Health System Foundation (Osler Foundation) amid the current COVID-19 context. Osler Foundation received a total donation of $14,000 from the stores to help with the purchase of critical medical equipment needed to respond to the demands and challenges their three hospitals in the GTA are facing during this pandemic. Earlier this week, members of Osler Foundation and the Lowe’s Canada network held a socially distanced official cheque presentation to mark the occasion. The funds will go toward the purchase of medical equipment, including ventilators, vital sign monitors, vein finders, and stretchers to treat COVID-19 patients. This donation was made possible thanks to the philanthropic investment of $1,000,000 that was announced by Lowe’s Canada in April to support its associates and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has committed to presenting a total of $241,000 to allow Lowe’s, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Dick’s Lumber corporate stores across the country to support, either in cash or in kind, initiatives to meet the specific needs of the communities within their regions.

ParcelPal To Launch In Ontario

Logistics technology service provider ParcelPal Technology Inc. is expanding into Ontario. The company will debut its courier services in Toronto by the end of June, with its ‘on demand marketplace’ to follow shortly thereafter. It will provide same day and next day delivery services for numerous customers in the Toronto region, and plans to roll out in other cities at a later date. The company is focused on engaging additional clients in Toronto and other major cities and provinces.

Thompson Appointed To Senior Vice-president

Marianne Thompson will be senior vice-president, merchandise, at Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective June 15. She has more than 30 years of experience in the home improvement industry and joined Home Hardware in 2018. The appointment comes as Joel Marks, vice-president, merchandise hardlines, announces his retirement. He has been with the company for 21 years.

June 8, 2020

Montreal Home Sales Recovering

A total of 3,268 residential sales transactions were concluded in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in May and, although sales dropped, real estate activity is showing signs of recovery, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). Sales decreased 41 per cent compared to May of last year. This was the second consecutive month in which sales dropped considerably due to the pandemic, but the resumption of real estate brokers’ activities on May 11 in near-normal conditions has clearly had an impact on the gradual recovery of market activity. Compared to April, all six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered a smaller year-over-year drop in sales, thanks to the gradual reopening of several economic sectors. Several peripheral areas continued to show resilience in the face of measures taken to counter the spread of the virus. This was the case in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which continues to be the area of the CMA least affected by the pandemic. The North Shore, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and the South Shore also registered a recovery in sales activity, although still far behind last year’s level. Laval and the Island of Montreal emerged as the areas most affected by the health crisis.

AEP Completes Wood Supply Arrangement With Taiga

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) has completed its engineered wood supply arrangement with independent wholesale distributor Taiga Building Products for all of its operating facilities across Canada. This national arrangement replaces the regional supply arrangement announced last year for eastern Canada. AEP expects that this relationship with Taiga will result in significant cost savings. In addition, it believes that the guaranteed lead times and re-order and delivery elements provided by the Taiga supply arrangement will make a significant impact on customer satisfaction and project schedules. Taiga operates 15 distribution centres in Canada.

RCC Pleased About Moratoriums

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) says it is pleased that the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan have listened and responded to the needs of small- and medium-sized retail businesses and implemented moratoriums on commercial tenant evictions. Rent relief remains a priority issue for RCC as retailers of all sizes with severely reduced revenues have no ability to pay their rent. With many landlords across the county choosing to ignore the involuntary nature of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, store closures are inevitable. The moratoriums on commercial rent evictions are important investments into the provinces' economic futures, says the council. “We are grateful to the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments for their swift action in helping Alberta's 17,500 and Saskatchewan's 4,900 retail businesses continue to survive and operate during these extraordinary times,” says Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “Eliminating the fear and threat of eviction over unpaid rent allows business to focus on their recovery. We encourage all provinces to follow suit in enacting a similar moratorium in the interests of retailers across the country.”

WRLA Renames Buying Show

The Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA) has changed the name of its buying show to the ‘WRLA Building & Hardware Showcase.’ As the show, its member businesses, and goals of attendees have evolved and grown over time, the new name better reflects the purpose of the event today, says the organization. The WRLA show has been bringing together member businesses from across western Canada for nearly 30 years. The show offers exhibitors, attendees, and partners opportunities to build relationships, discover and purchase new products, do business, and attend education sessions. “The show has naturally evolved over the years and we are continuing to adapt and strengthen it to better represent the ways our members do business nowadays. The name change was a much-needed way to capture this growth,” says Liz Kovach, president of WRLA. The show has also been relocated to Winnipeg, MB. It takes place January 21 and 22, 2021.

San Forest Specialty Mill In Operation

San Group’s mill in Port Alberni, BC, is now in full operation. San Group purchased the former Chalwood Forest Products mill, which had been shut down for more than a year, in 2018. The company rehired 100 per cent of the former staff and has invested in the reconfiguration of the mill with new machinery and technology to help optimize operations. The mill is strategically positioned as a value-added specialty mill designed to seamlessly flow into San Group’s vertically integrated business model. Production capacity of the mill is 35 MMBF (million board feet) producing dimensional lumber for global export. Ashok Sharma is value added production and safety manager at the mill. He joins the company from Western Forest Products, where he worked for 32 years.

June 5, 2020

COVID-19 Slows Hamilton Home Buying

There were 852 sales of residential properties in the Hamilton-Burlington, ON, region for the month of May, says the REALTORS Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB). Sales were down 42.2 per cent over May 2019, and up 43.4 per cent over April. The number of sales for single family properties in the area decreased by 42.5 per cent compared to the same month last year while townhouse sales activity decreased by 42.1 per cent. Apartment-style property sales decreased by 35.1 per cent over last year. “The province moving safely into phase one of re-opening has improved consumer confidence, leading to an increase in activity compared to April,” says Kathy Della-Nebbia, president of RAHB. “If progress continues and the weather cooperates, we should expect higher activity in June.”

Case For Lockdown Could Be Flawed

As restrictions continue to be gradually eased in Canada, it is more important than ever to question the case for lockdown, says a publication launched by the Montreal Economic Institute. It provides a critique of Professor Neil Ferguson's epidemiological model, which led to lockdown in this country. In a March 16 paper, Professor Ferguson, a British epidemiologist and professor of mathematical biology, who specializes in the patterns of spread of infectious disease in humans and animals, predicted 2.2 million deaths in the United States in 2020 if lockdown measures were not put in place and two days later, the Canada-U.S. border was closed. “Ten days after his first publication, he predicted 326,000 deaths in Canada in 2020 with no lockdown, or 46,000 with a 75 per cent reduction in contact between individuals. While things could still change, the number of deaths is currently far below these predictions,” says Peter St. Onge, a senior fellow at the MEI and author of the critique ??? the ‘Flawed COVID-19 Model That Locked Down Canada.’ As of June 4, there were 7,543 deaths in Canada. However, a better comparison comes from countries that never shut down at all, like Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Ferguson's model predicted 1.4 million deaths in Japan, whereas the actual number as of May 12 was 657, says St. Onge. One of the issues it two months after Professor Ferguson's publication, experts raised serious problems with his model. A software engineer from Google found inexplicable errors in the model, and it contains unverifiable information. St. Onge says, “The studies and models upon which important governmental decisions are based must be public so that they can be analyzed and cross-checked.” Gaël Campan, senior economist at the MEI and co-author of the publication, says, “In order to pick up the pieces, we should have both epidemiologists and economists at the table. Compromises are required, and there is no place for narrow groupthink. Moreover, we need to liberalize the healthcare system in order to inject some entrepreneurship and increase its capacity to manage health crises.”

Orgill Utilizes Technology For Online Buying Event

Orgill will utilize state-of-the-art technology to offer its customers a unique online buying experience this fall following the company's decision to cancel its traditional ‘Dealer Market’ in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The ‘e-Volution Fall Online Buying Event’ will make it possible for the distributor’s entire retail customer base to take advantage of promotional buying opportunities, shop for seasonal merchandise, and browse through thousands of new products without having to leave their stores. “In talking with many of our customers about this, we challenged our team to develop an online buying event that could efficiently deliver the buying opportunities for which our dealer markets are so well know,” says Boyden Moore, president and CEO of Orgill. “This new interactive platform, in which our sales team and vendors can work with our customers, is Orgill’s e-Volution, and will help us create an even better Dealer Market experience in the future.” The online online event will take place August 24 through September 4. During this time, retailers will be able to access the event through Orgill.com (or Orgill.ca in Canada). Through the platform, retailers can browse through a variety of buying opportunities, including warehouse item and pallet specials, Door Buster Booking, vendor drop-ship event specials, and a Fall Spotlight area with a range of other buying and booking opportunities. Additionally, retailers will be able to visit vendor’s ‘online booths’ and set appointments with vendors. To ensure a successful experience, Orgill’s sales team will spend the two weeks prior to the event helping retailers prepare.

Pagel Named General Manager

Mark Pagel has been appointed as general manager of DaVinci Roofscapes, a subsidiary of Royal Building Products. He has served as interim general manager since February. Previously, he was at Royal Building Products and has an extensive background in roofing and siding.

Solid Growth Forecast For AI In Homes And Buildings

Growth opportunities for predictive maintenance and voice assistance artificial intelligence (AI) application will increase significantly from 2020 to 2030, says a report from Frost & Sullivan. ‘Artificial Intelligence in the Global Homes & Buildings Industry, Forecast to 2030,’ says that the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) in the homes and buildings space is gaining rapid momentum across the globe as the industry is estimated to witness an approximate 15-fold increase by 2030. Increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 27.7 per cent, the industry is likely to garner revenues of $8.98 billion by 2030, compared to $610.2 million in 2019. In addition, with COVID-19 uncertainty, building owners and managers are compelled to rethink their investment strategies, propelling the need for AI-driven solutions more than ever before. “From the perspective of AI application areas, demand for predictive maintenance capabilities will increase significantly over the forecast period,” says Anirudh Bhaskaran, energy and environment senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “This is because building owners and managers aim to reduce the downtime of building systems and increase their lifetime. Further, virtual voice assistance is another AI application that will be massively used for home automation and control.”

June 4, 2020

May Home Sales Better Than April

There were 4,606 home sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) in May, says the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). This was down 53.7 per cent compared to May 2019. While the number of sales was down substantially on a year-over-year basis due to the continued impact of COVID-19, the decline was less than the 67.1 per cent year-over-year decline reported for April. Compared to April, May sales increased 55.2 per cent. The number of new listings was down by a similar annual rate to that of sales, dipping by 53.1 per cent to 9,104. On a month-over-month basis, actual new listings were up by 47.5 per cent. “Providing we continue to see a gradual re-opening of the economy, it is very possible that home sales will continue to improve in the coming months,” says Michael Collins, president of TRREB. “As we move toward recovery, the housing sector will be a key driver of growth as consumer confidence increases and more households look to take advantage of very low borrowing costs.”

BC Businesses Protected From Eviction

Businesses in British Columbia that are eligible for rent support from the federal government are now protected from evictions as the BC government issues a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA). Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June, as determined by the federal program timelines. The EPA order restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property. The CECRA program provides relief for small businesses experiencing severe financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and to meet operating expenses on commercial properties. Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75 per cent rent reduction for the months of April, May, and June. The CECRA loans to landlords will be forgiven if the landlord complies with program terms and conditions, including an agreement to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.

Lowe’s Canada Bag Use Down 58 Per Cent

Lowe’s Canada says that the introduction of a charge on plastic bags at its corporate stores in Quebec in June 2018 and in the rest of Canada in August of the same year has had a significant impact on the number of plastic bags used in its network. In 2019, the customers of its Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores used 58 per cent fewer plastic bags than in 2017, which represents about 10 million bags. In 2018, the introduction of the charge midyear resulted in over five million fewer plastic bags being used in Lowe’s Canada’s corporate stores versus the previous year. The retailer will donate all profits from plastic-bag charges to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support its conservation work across the country. Between June 2018 and December 2019, these profits amounted to more than $125,000. This fall, Lowe’s Canada is introducing a reusable bag at its stores. Profits from the sales of these bags will also go to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help it protect dozens of natural spaces and native species in Canada.

Royal Building Products Expands Virtual Selling Capabilities

Royal Building Products, a Westlake company, has expanded its virtual selling capabilities, including the launch of RoyalPros.com, a pro-focused site offering resources and webinars to support the virtual sales process as the company shifts into the peak sales season for exterior building products. The company has also partnered with One Click Contractor to transform the way home improvement projects are sold. Contractors can run their entire sales process – from measuring to payment – without setting foot in a customer’s home. One Click Contractor enables contractors to keep all the important information related to each job in one place. In addition, Royal offers virtual appointments and online sample ordering, as well as online design tools. Each design tool offers all product lines, profiles, and colours, as well as product comparisons, larger images, expert designers’ top colour combinations, and preselected colour palettes. The three siding design tools also include good, better, and best trim options, as well.

Permann To Transition To Taiga CEO

Russell Permann will be co-chief executive officer (CEO) at Taiga Building Products, effective January 2021. Currently he is chief operating officer and executive vice-president operations. In order to facilitate an orderly succession process, Trent Balog, Taiga's current CEO and president, will step down from his present positions on December 31, 2020, and serve as co-CEO alongside Permann. He will step down from the co-CEO position on December 31, 2021, and remain involved with the company in a consulting role for a two-year period thereafter. Effective January 2022, Permann will take over as Taiga's sole CEO.

June 3, 2020

AEP To Offer Wall Panels In British Columbia

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) is expanding its product offering on Vancouver Island to include pre-manufactured wall panels for the residential, multi-residential, and commercial building industry. Custom designed and pre-manufactured wall panels can be used in small residential buildings and large commercial projects such as retail centres, light industrial buildings, factories, and hotels. The panels offer an alternative to on-site framing. They utilize less labour for installation and offer builders control of quality and integration of building components. Starting in the second half of June, AEP’s subsidiary, Atlas Building Systems in Nanaimo, BC, will introduce the pre-manufactured wall panels as part of its full product mix.

Retail Human Resource Role Changed Permanently

Business continuity, flexible work arrangements, employee communications, and implementing preventative measures have always been important priorities for human resource (HR) professionals in the retail sector. However, delivering on them in a crisis situation requires a unique set of skills and experience and it’s something few, if any, organizations were prepared for, says JRoss Retail Recruiters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the way retailers operate and manage their workforce is changing permanently. The need to be ready for the post-COVID ‘new normal’ and successfully manage the transition adds another significant layer of complexity to HR planning, while reinforcing the need for strong change management capabilities within the HR team. Based on its client base and experience in the field, JRoss has identified some in-demand skills companies need in HR professionals today. These include the ability to thrive on challenge and change; creativity to manage people, systems, and resources to deliver on specific organizational goals; and understanding ofthe relationship between employee engagement, customer loyalty, financial performance, and shareholder value. Ultimately, it is important to link the HR professional with the business strategy and requirements.

PayBright Launches Securitization Facility

PayBright, a provider of installment payments for consumer purchases at the point-of-sale, has launched a highly scalable securitization facility. The committed facility was arranged by a major Canadian bank and provides PayBright with substantial extended funding capacity on a non-recourse basis. As a ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ provider, PayBright has partnered with over 6,000 domestic and international merchants to offer Canadians flexible payment options for online and in-store purchases. At checkout, consumers can buy products and pay over time in bi-weekly or monthly installments. The new facility complements PayBright's existing warehouse and private securitization facilities provided by Canadian banks. The company also continues to expand these existing facilities in line with business growth. PayBright has seen particularly strong growth during COVID-19, as Canadian consumers have shifted their purchasing to digital channels.

Klein Tools Adds To Cooling Gear Line

Klein Tools has introduced its Neck and Face Cooling Band, a product that helps keep trade professionals cool and comfortable on the jobsite. As an addition to its line of cooling gear, the band offers users cooling and UV face protection. It can be worn in a number of ways and one size fits most users. It is made with an evaporative cooling, moisture-wicking performance knit fabric that starts to cool immediately when wet and it can cool for hours. It is machine washable.

Strong Growth Forecast For Garden Tools

The global garden and lawn tools market accounted for $6.66 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $13.32 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of eight per cent during the forecast period, says Stratistics MRC. Rising commercial and residential construction projects across the globe and increasing number of the sports field, public parks, and golf courses in developed and developing countries are the major factors propelling the market growth. However, increasing preference for sports turf and synthetic grass is restraining the market growth. Based on the application, the residential segment will have lucrative growth during the forecast period due to increasing popularity of outdoor landscaping which helps to raise the demand for power lawn and garden tools. By geography, North America will have strong growth during the forecast period due to increasing number of golf courses, rising demand for homemade fresh fruits and vegetables, and the growing popularity of gardening.

June 2, 2020

Building Construction Investment Slides

Total investment in building construction decreased 3.6 per cent to $15.4 billion in March, with declines in both residential (-3.3 per cent to $10.5 billion) and non-residential (-4.3 per cent to $4.9 billion) investment, says Statistics Canada. Construction in March was negatively affected by COVID-19 restrictions, especially in Quebec, which shut down all non-essential building construction on March 25. National declines coincided with a drop in construction hours worked. The overall decline in residential investment in March was driven by the multi-unit dwellings component, which fell 6.9 per cent. Six provinces posted declines, with the largest decrease in Quebec (-23.3 per cent). The single-unit dwelling component of residential investment rose slightly in March, up 0.6 per cent. For non-residential investment all three components – commercial, institutional, and industrial – decreased, leading to the first overall decline since November 2018. Prince Edward Island was the only province to report growth in non-residential investment for the month, up 1.4 per cent.

No Certainty In U.S. Recovery Predictions

While the reopening of U.S. businesses shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic is a significant step forward, it is too soon to say how quickly or smoothly America’s economy will recover, says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist with the National Retail Federation (NRF). “Is it possible the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us? Maybe, but we are not out of the woods yet, and uncertainty abounds,” he says. “Predicting what will happen is even more challenging than usual. While history often helps guide us, previous downturns offer little guidance on what is likely to unfold over the next six to 12 months.” Record drops in employment, gross domestic product, retail sales, and other indicators have resulted in “such unparalleled numbers that it is not comparable to anything in economic history and it has yet to catch up with the reality of what we are experiencing. With such sizeable disruptions, it is difficult to tally the damage or determine the future.” The remarks follow NRF’s ‘Monthly Economic Review,’ which says that the U.S. economy “changed course almost overnight” from the longest expansion on record to an “historic economic slump” because of the shutdowns ordered in an attempt to bring the virus under control.

Canfor Completes Elliott Acquisition

Canfor Corporation has completed the purchase of Elliott Sawmilling Company Inc. The agreement to purchase was announced in November 2018. Elliott adds more than 210 million board feet of production capacity to Canfor’s portfolio.

Tyson Leads Lumber Liquidators

Charles E. Tyson is president and chief executive officer of Lumber Liquidators. He was appointed interim president in February and was chief customer experience officer prior to that.

Kruse Appointed CEO

Trevor Kruse has been appointed chief executive officer of the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional interior designer and has served on provincial, national, and international boards including the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO).

Costco Has Strong eCommerce Sales

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $36.45 billion for third quarter of fiscal 2020, up 7.3 per cent over net sales of $33.96 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable sales in Canada were down 2.5 per cent year-over-year and adjusted comparable sales in Canada were up three per cent. eCommerce sales for the quarter were up 64.5 per cent year-over-year. Overall net income was $838 million compared to $906 million in the year-ago period.

June 1, 2020

Digital Solutions To Drive Buildings Market

The penetration of advanced technologies that provide energy and cost benefits and value-based outcomes will drive the global homes and buildings industry in 2020, says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The ‘Global Homes and Buildings Outlook, 2020’ says, however, that industry revenues are expected to drop by 3.5 per cent from 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Markets for HVAC, refrigeration systems, and fire safety products will continue to witness demand for their solutions and services. As well, the cleaning aspect of facilities management services will also grow, as there will be an increase in demand for the disinfection of commercial and industrial spaces. For further revenue opportunities, the report says vendors in this industry should create a cross-functional COVID-19 task force to reinforce confidence in employees and partners, and gain trust among customers. They should also market services to critical end-user segments that are considered essential.

TELUS Launches Social Media Campaign

TELUS has launched the #StandWithOwners initiative aimed at supporting Canadian small businesses and their owners through direct revenue, marketing, and expert advice as they face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has committed $500,000 to the social media campaign in direct revenue, marketing, and expert advice to support, promote, and celebrate small business owners. The platform encourages Canadians to create posts on social media highlighting a small business, use the hashtag #StandWithOwners, and tag @TELUSBusiness. In return, nominators are eligible to receive a $25 digital gift card to use at the selected business on behalf of TELUS. The communications company is engaging industry experts and leading Canadian entrepreneurs like Arlene Dickinson for their support. In the coming weeks, it will launch a series of interactive online discussions where small business owners can ask questions, share advice, and discuss best practices on how to manage business uncertainty.

Textured Finish Blends With Concrete

DAP Products Inc. has launched Premium Textured Concrete, a concrete sealant formulated with a textured finish to blend with concrete. The product also offers enhanced elongation and extension recovery for a more durable seal making it more resistant to cracking. It is specifically designed to withstand heavy foot or vehicle traffic. The Textured Concrete is ideal for cracks commonly found in driveways, sidewalks, patios, garages, and basements. The product will adhere to concrete, mortar, brick, metal, stone, stucco, grout, and textured walls. It is ready to paint in two hours.

CHHMA To Hold Virtual AGM

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) will hold its 51st annual general meeting (AGM) online. The event was originally scheduled for April 23 in Mississauga, ON, but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was rescheduled to June 2 as a virtual event. All CHHMA members are able to attend the meeting, which will review financials, upcoming plans, new programs, and take votes for board of director positions. The ‘Annual Conference & Industry Hall of Fame Luncheon’ will now take place November 12 to 13 at the Westin Toronto Airport Hotel in Toronto, ON.

COVID-19 Impacts Lumber Liquidators Sales

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $267 million in the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 0.4 per cent compared to net sales of $266 million in the first quarter of 2019. Comparable sales for the quarter increased approximately four per cent in the first week of the quarter, but slid to negative 0.9 per cent by the end of the quarter due to the impact of COVID-19. Gross profit increased 12 per cent to $105 million year-over-year and gross profit margin increased 410 basis points to 39.3 per cent. Operating income was $8.8 million compared to an operating loss of $3.4 million in the year-ago period. Net income for the quarter was $12.2 million compared to a loss of $4.9 million last year.

May 29, 2020

Higher Prices Lead 2018 Retail Sales Increase

Retail customers spent $654.1 billion at Canadian store and non-store retailers in 2018, leading to a 3.9 per cent increase in operating revenue for the retail trade industry over the previous year, says Statistics Canada in its annual retail trade report for 2018. This rise was largely attributable to higher prices. In 2018, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 2.3 per cent, the largest upswing since 2011. Retail sales in volume terms rose by 0.9 per cent. Other factors that affected the financial position of retailers include a slowdown in household demand, higher interest rates, higher minimum wages in several provinces, and the imposition of tariffs on certain goods imported from the U.S. Retail eCommerce sales for the year grew by 29.2 per cent, the largest year-over-year increase since 2013. eCommerce operating revenue accounted for 3.4 per cent ($22.1 billion) of total store and non-store retail revenue in 2018. Operating revenue at store and non-store retailers was up in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador, which saw a drop of 2.2 per cent. Unfinalized retail sales for 2019 were up a modest 1.6 per cent with eCommerce sales up 23.1 per cent year-over-year and eCommerce operating revenue accounting for 3.5 per cent of total retail revenue. r

Retail Sales Growth Goes For A Ride

Unadjusted retail sales declined 0.7 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020. But that's not the real story. Only about the second half of March was impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown and, for March alone, the decline in Canadian retail sales was a whopping 10.9 per cent. This is the sort of result, or worse, that we can expect in the April numbers when they are released, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. He says various retail sectors have been affected very differently and circumstances in Canadian retail are unprecedented, so it makes little sense to consider trends. There were also major changes in eCommerce sales, which represented about 3.7 per cent of Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending March. In March alone, eCommerce sales gained a huge 40.4 per cent over a year ago. Year-over-year growth of eCommerce sales is expected to increase in the next few months as consumers become more accustomed to shopping online. Things will return somewhat closer to normal at some point, but it'll likely be a new normal that we haven't seen before, says Strapagiel.

Savant To Acquire GE Lighting

GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, Inc., a smart home product company. “Today’s transaction is another important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company,” says H. Lawrence Culp, Jr., chairman and CEO of GE. For nearly 130 years, GE Lighting has been part of the lighting industry from the dawn of incandescent bulbs to industry-first LED and smart solutions and voice-embedded lighting products. GE Lighting will remain headquartered in Cleveland, OH. Savant has produced award-winning products and solutions that span lighting, security, climate, and whole-house entertainment.

Concrete Industry Wants Municipal Projects Prioritized

Heads of Canada's cement and concrete industry are calling on the federal government to prioritize construction and strategic infrastructure spending to help boost Canada's economic recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, the building materials and construction industries contributed $157 billion in economic activity representing 7.9 per cent of Canada's overall GDP. The industry group submitted a seven-point declaration entitled, ‘Building a Successful Economic Recovery in Canada,’ which highlights the weakened financial state of Canada's municipalities and the need for the federal government to absorb a greater share of the cost of infrastructure projects in communities across Canada. The declaration says the government should put the construction sector at the core of the ‘COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.’ “The cement and concrete industry is responsible for the employment of over 158,000 Canadians and annual economic activity in excess of $76 billion,” says Michael McSweeney, president and CEO of the Cement Association of Canada. “Our products are local and are produced in virtually every community across the country. We are in a great position to give Canada's economy an economic boost and help carry on the good work of building a more resilient country.”

Renoworks Has Strong First Quarter

Renoworks Software Inc. had revenue of $1.12 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of five per cent compared to revenue of $1.06 million in the first quarter of 2019. Design services revenue increased 50 per cent year-over-year to $478,403. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was a loss of $7,415, down from a loss of $44,517 in the year-ago period. Gross margins were 69 per cent for 2020 compared to 74 per cent in 2019. The company had a net loss of $70,667 for the quarter compared to a loss of $116,955 in the 2019 quarter. Demand for online tools and services remains strong as contractors and homeowners are forced to seek virtual solutions to design, measure, estimate, and plan their construction and remodeling projects, says Doug Vickerson, the company’s CEO.

 

May 28, 2020

Housing Markets Will Begin To Recover Mid-2021

Economic uncertainty stemming from containment measures of COVID-19 and falling oil prices is affecting all sectors of Canada’s real estate market, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Its report, ‘The Housing Market Outlook - Special Edition’ (HMO) says the housing market will see declines in 2020 and should start to improve by this time next year. However, housing starts, sales, and prices are likely to stay below their pre-COVID-19 levels into 2022. Severe disruptions to the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic have placed unprecedented pressures on employment, incomes, migration, and financial markets, while lower oil prices are likely to exacerbate declines in Canada's oil-producing provinces. Housing prices could fall by as much as nine to 18 per cent from first quarter levels this year before they begin to recover in 2021. As well, restrictions on construction activity are leading to a sharp decline in housing starts. The forecast indicates that housing starts could decline by as much as 75 per cent from the first quarter level before starting to recover by the second half of 2021. Home sales in Canada could experience as much as a 29 per cent decline from pre-COVID-19 levels before slowly recovering post 2022.

DIY To Drive Home Improvement Product Market

Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the looming economic recession, the global home improvement products market will grow by a projected US$210.9 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4 per cent through 2028, says a report by ReportLinker. The do-it-yourself (DIY) segment is forecast to grow at over 3.3 per cent and reach a market size of $812.2 billion by the end of the analysis period. The report says that as an unusual period in history, the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a series of unprecedented events affecting every industry. The DIY market will be reset to a new normal which, going forward in a post COVID-19 era, will be continuously redefined and redesigned. Staying on top of trends and accurate analysis is paramount now more than ever to manage uncertainty, change, and continuously adapt to new and evolving market conditions.

April Building Permits Plummet

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities plummeted 17.1 per cent to $6 billion in April, says Statistics Canada. The decrease was the largest decline since a similar drop in October 2008 during the financial crisis. When combined with the March decline, the value of building permits has fallen by 28.1 per cent from February levels. Declines were reported in eight provinces, with the largest in Quebec (-34.1 per cent) and Ontario (-20 per cent). Although most municipalities were still issuing permits in April, Quebec's decision to shut down non-essential construction activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to it posting its largest month-over-month percentage decline on record. Permits issued for single family dwellings fell 35.9 per cent to $1.4 billion, a record month-over-month decline and almost double the next largest decrease since 2002. Multi-family dwellings was the only component to show an increase at the national level in April, up 4.8 per cent to $2.6 billion. The value of commercial permits was down 21.5 per cent to $1.2 billion for the month.

ODL Expands Textured Glass Offerings

ODL, Inc., a supplier of decorative and clear doorglass and entry treatments, has expanded its textured glass offerings with textured glass offerings in simulated divided lights (SDLs). SDL is able to mimic the appearance of true divided light doorglass by applying external grilles to panes with a spacer bar in between to add dimension. With the addition of these textures – blanca, chinchilla, micro-granite, and streamed – ODL’s SDL offerings complement a range of architectural trends and add additional design elements to doors in an array of privacy levels. All SDL configurations are available in energy-efficient, Low-E doorglass, which helps meet ENERGY STAR requirements when used with an ENERGY STAR qualified door or sidelight.

May 27, 2020

West Fraser Restarting Operations

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. is in the process of restarting operations. During March and April, the company significantly reduced lumber and plywood production in response to rapidly changing market demand and to comply with mandated and recommended health and safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. During May, it substantially resumed lumber and plywood production with only a few facilities operating at less than full schedules. The company says it will continue to adjust operating schedules in both the U.S. and Canada as necessary. With lumber, both prices and volumes have rebounded compared to the end of the first quarter, particularly for southern yellow pine (SYP). The company expects that demand for its wood products will be volatile over at least the balance of the year in response to the ongoing economic and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dörken Systems Offers Free Learning Series

Dörken Systems Inc. is launching a learning series, ‘Building Science Deconstructed,’ aimed at providing the building industry with accessible and free education focused on better building practices, technology, and building science. The company decided to launch the series because it believes the building industry has, and will continue to play an integral role in managing a global pandemic despite experiencing individual hardships. It says that to shorten the economic recovery process, “it is necessary to resume work as quickly as possible and to know ahead of time what’s available to do so successfully.” The series features building science experts including Dr. John Straube, Dr. Joe Lstiburek, Matt Risinger, Justin Wilson, and Gord Cooke.

Canada Post Says Delays Will Continue

Canada Post says Canadians should anticipate parcel delays for the foreseeable future, even though it is making deliveries at record levels. The organization says it is responding to changes and increases in consumer shopping while maintaining physical distancing measures in all of its facilities due to COVID-19. It is delivering in record numbers and also handling a wider variety of items. The number of larger, household items like mini-fridges, patio furniture, and barbecues have also increased. These bulky items often require a two-person lift which creates additional safety challenges and delays. Canada Post says it is taking steps to respond to the changes while maintaining physical-distancing. That includes processing and delivering on weekends and additional support from trained temporary employees. As well, some parcels may be transferred to other Canada Post locations for processing based on capacity.

Sollio Cooperative Group Partners With EQ Care

Sollio Cooperative Group has chosen EQ Care to deliver telemedicine services for employees of its parent company and three divisions, Sollio Agriculture, Olymel, and BMR Group. Sollio Cooperative Group's workforce will benefit from on-demand, virtual access to doctors, mental health specialists, and other medical and paramedical professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and French.

Home Hardware Adds Merchandise Directors

Michael Robert and Lee Hooper are merchandise LBM directors at Home Hardware Stores Ltd. They will be responsible for the development and deployment of the LBM program for all building centre locations. Robert has held executive positions at Canadian Tire and Lowe’s Canada and Hooper has held executive positions at Southwire Canada and Nestle Waters.

May 26, 2020

All Major Housing Markets Slumping – Except One

As housing markets across the nation fall into the slump phase of the real estate cycle, one city is holding on, says the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) in its ‘COVID-19 Special Edition: Real Estate Cycle Update’ report. The report says all major real estate markets in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario are on a steady decline due to the economic impact of the pandemic shutdown and restriction measures except for one – Ottawa, ON. REIN says this exception may be because Ottawa is home to Canada’s federal government and is insulated to some extent to the massive pandemic-related joblessness impacting the country. It also says that while the slump is generally characterized as market slowdown, it can also be an excellent time for investors to take advantage of the opportunities that are bound to hit the market sooner or later.

Network Of Advisors Available For SMBs

Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), not-for-profit organizations, and charities are among those most impacted by the current pandemic and will now have direct access to a network of qualified business advisors to help guide them courtesy of a government-funded program from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The program, called the Business Resilience Service (BRS), is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and Imagine Canada. The BRS program will provide options for any vulnerable SMBs to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will provide guidance on program options and eligibility and rapidly direct businesses to the most appropriate support organizations. It will also help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans and provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers. The program will be provided for four weeks from May 25.

RCC Wants Moratorium On Commercial Evictions

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is calling on the Ontario government for a moratorium on commercial evictions. “Collectively, our members represent over 83,000 storefronts, restaurants, and hotels in Ontario,” it says. In an open letter, the council drew attention to the urgent need for an immediate moratorium on commercial evictions, retroactive to April 1 and extending to August 31, in order to match the end of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program application period (OCECRA in Ontario). “Rent relief remains a priority issue for our members and we continue to be deeply concerned that many landlords will ignore this voluntary program, which will inevitably result in a vast number of store closures. We are appreciative of the efforts that governments across the country have put into creating programs to avert layoffs and closings but, the reality is, retailers with severely reduced revenues have no ability to pay their rent.” In fact, 48 per cent of RCC members say they have not been able to pay their rent at all and 34 per cent say that landlords had threatened to either change their locks or evict them as a tenant. “That is why it's critical for all governments, including Ontario, to do everything possible to incite landlords to do the right thing in helping to prevent closures and, ultimately, job losses.”

Drone Delivery Canada Testing Heavy-duty Drone

Drone Delivery Canada Corp. says it will begin the commercial testing of the Condor, its heavy-lift, long-range cargo delivery drone. The Condor has a lifting capability of 180kgs (400lbs) of payload, a travel range of 200kms and an operating speed of 120kph. The multi-package payload compartment is designed to carry approximately 20 cubic feet of cargo. This phase of testing for ‘Beyond Visual Line of Sight’ (BVLOS) flight is taking place at the Foremost UAS Test Range in Alberta and will test the long-range and heavy-lift capabilities of the drone. The company is currently in discussions with various potential customers that all have expressed a strong interest in the Condor. This has particularly been the case under the current pandemic situation with the Condor interest to connect remote communities to aid in fighting COVID-19. The Condor measures 22-feet long, 5-feet wide, and 7-feet tall. It has a rotor diameter of approximately 20 feet and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing. It is equipped with DDC’s proprietary FLYTE management system which is the same platform used in all of DDC’s cargo delivery drones.

IPG Has Modest First Quarter

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (IPG) had revenue of $278.9 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 0.4 per cent over revenue of $277.9 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was primarily due to an increase in volume/mix and additional revenue from the Nortech Acquisition and partially offset by lower selling prices. Gross margin for the quarter increased to 21.1 per cent from 20.8 per cent. Net earnings were $14.2 million compared to $10.5 million last year and adjusted net earnings were $12.9 million compared to $12.2 million. Adjusted EBITDA decreased two per cent to $37.5 million year-over-year.

May 25, 2020

March Retail Sales Drop

Retail sales fell for the first time in five months, plunging 10 per cent to $47.1 billion in March, says Statistics Canada. This drop is the largest on record and is comparable to the retail sales decline observed in the U.S. (-7.1 per cent) and other countries in the wake of COVID-19. Record declines at motor vehicle and parts dealers, clothing and clothing accessories stores, and gasoline stations led the March decrease. Sales in the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were $3.3 billion for March, up 1.5 per cent year-over-year. Sales were down in six of 11 subsectors, representing 39.2 per cent of retail trade. Retail sales in volume terms declined a record 8.2 per cent. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many Canadian retailers to open or expand their eCommerce platforms in March in response to physical distancing measures and storefront closures. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $2.2 billion in March, accounting for 4.8 per cent of total retail trade. This uptick in retail eCommerce was atypical for March and similar to the pattern normally observed at the start of the annual holiday shopping period. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 40.4 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales declined 9.6 per cent.

Consumers Planning Purchases Despite Pandemic

While consumers are beginning to make their planned purchases, many are now less confident the pandemic will end quickly. Last month, the majority of U.S. consumers (75 per cent) believed this crisis would end by the end of the year; however, significantly less consumers (56 per cent) now believe the crisis will end this year, says TraQline in its May ‘COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment’ report. In an attempt to capture their share of reduced consumer purchases, retailers have been aggressive in offering deals. While these may not meet overall sales goals, it does appear to have had a positive effect, encouraging consumers to make their planned purchases rather than continue to delay them. Across TraQline’s key categories, the percent of consumers planning a purchase remains unchanged (40 per cent). However, among consumers who already planned a purchase, the number of consumers waiting to make purchases have decreased by as much as 10 basis points. The categories where most people are choosing not to wait are plants/garden supplies, followed by electronics and paint and painting supplies, power tools, kitchen and bath fixtures, and furniture. Additionally, more consumers are planning and moving forward with home improvement projects in May versus in April (one-quarter versus one-fifth, respectively) despite the inherent complexity of managing those projects in a pandemic.

Bed Bath & Beyond Plans To Re-Open Stores

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. plans to re-open more stores and further expand store fulfillment services as part of its phased approach to re-opening stores across North America. The retailer plans to re-open approximately 600 additional stores to the public, including approximately 500 Bed Bath & Beyond stores across North America by June 13. It also plans to expand contactless curbside pickup services to approximately 1,350 stores, adding a further 600 additional locations. Contactless curbside will be available at approximately 90 per cent of the company's total store fleet across the U.S. and Canada. These changes mean the retailer will bring approximately 11,000 associates back from furlough.

Scheatzle Joins Tarkett

John Scheatzle is president of residential business in North America with Tarkett, a manufacturer of sustainable flooring. He brings more than 30 years of experience to the role, most recently as president of NobelClad, the welding division of DMC Global.

Acquisition Drives ADS Earnings

Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) had net sales of $370.8 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, an increase of 36.2 per cent compared to net sales of $272.2 million in fiscal 2019. Net income increased 86.6 per cent to $3.5 million year-over-year and adjusted EBITDA increased 95.6 per cent to $72.1 million. Gross profit increased 82.8 per cent to $108.8 million as compared to $59.5 million in the prior year. The increase is primarily due to the acquisition of Infiltrator Water Technologies, favourable material costs, and increases in both pipe and allied product sales.

May 22, 2020

Home Hardware To Host Virtual Fall Market

Following the success of its first ever virtual market – the ‘2020 Spring Market’ – Home Hardware Stores Limited will hold its ‘2020 Fall Market’ as a virtual event as well. The spring market was held in April and had 3,618 attendees and supplier-partners at the event. “We are pleased with the success of our ‘2020 Spring Market’ and are excited to continue to build on the experience and capabilities for our fall event,” says Kevin Macnab, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited. “From delivering presentations in a virtual auditorium to engaging with our supplier-partners in a virtual tradeshow, we are able to offer our dealers a quality market experience, even in these unprecedented times.” The fall market will take place virtually from September 13 to 20. It is not open to the public.

BSIA Recognizes TIMBER MART Distribution Facility

TIMBER MART’s lumber and building material (LBM) distribution centre in Langley, BC, was presented with the ‘2020 Orion Supplier of the Year Award’ from the Building Supply Industry Association of British Columbia (BSIA). Alex Stanculescu, warehouse supervisor at the distribution centre, was also recognized with the ‘Orion Customer Service Award.’ “We are very proud of our team in Langley for being recognized by our members and customers for their dealer-centric approach to service,” says John Morrissey vice-president of distribution and trading at TIMBER MART. The Langley facility is situated on three-and-a-half acres of land that encompasses a 27,000 square-foot warehouse and roughly three acres of yard. The facility offers commodity products such as lumber, plywood, OSB, roofing, and insulation as well as seasonal and allied products through its weekly truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) delivery options. The distribution centre also offers online ordering of building materials to independent dealers throughout British Columbia. The facility is one of three that belong to TIMBER MART’s network of LBM distribution centres which includes one in Mount Forest, ON, and one in St-Nicolas, QC.

Shopify Launches Tools For Small Business

Shopify Inc. has launched a number of tools for small businesses to help them in areas like finance, retail, and shipping to navigate an ever-evolving retail landscape and plan for the future amid COVID-19. Among the tools is Shopify Balance, which will give merchants access to financial products. It includes a balance account, card, and rewards with no monthly fees or minimum balances. Shop Pay Installments is a ‘buy now, pay later’ option merchants can offer to customers at checkout. Local Delivery is a tool that allows merchants globally to define a local delivery area and set fees and minimum order prices. As well, the Shopify Fulfillment Network, which launched in 2019, has graduated from its early access stage, and is actively accepting merchant applications. It allows merchants to join, scale, and evolve their fulfillment strategies through its growing partner network. The company has also increased options for merchants to customize their online stores. It will soon launch Shop, a direct-to-consumer app and personal shopping assistant, and has launched Facebook and Instagram Shops allowing merchants to build branded versions of their online store on these channels.

Simpson Strong-Tie Launches Screw Anchor Line

Simpson Strong-Tie has introduced the Titen Turbo line of concrete and masonry screw anchors that feature a patented thread design to deliver smooth driving with less torque and more holding power. The screw anchors are ideal for attaching all types of fixtures to concrete and masonry and feature a torque-reduction channel to trap drilling dust where it can’t obstruct thread action, reducing binding, stripping, and snapping without compromising strength. The patented reverse thread design also allows more space for dust to help prevent anchors from bottoming out in smaller-diameter screw holes. The anchors are available with either a hex head or a six-lobe countersunk head and feature a serrated leading edge to cut into concrete or masonry and a pointed tip for installation in wood-to-concrete and wood-to-wood anchoring applications.

Ace Hardware Has Strong First Quarter

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.43 billion for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 3.8 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019. Net income was $36.2 million for the quarter, an increase of 60.2 per cent compared to net income of $22.6 million the year-ago period. U.S. same-store sales were up 4.2 per cent year-over-year, partially due to an increased average ticket. Online revenues were up 63 per cent year-over-year. Total wholesale revenues increased 1.5 per cent from last year, with increases noted across several departments, with power tools, cleaning supplies, and grilling showing the largest gains. Total retail revenues increased 41.4 per cent compared to the prior-year first quarter.



May 21, 2020

Vehicle Sector Weighs On Wholesale Trade

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread throughout the economy, wholesale sales fell 2.2 per cent to $63.9 billion in March, following three consecutive monthly gains, says Statistics Canada. Three of the seven subsectors recorded lower sales, accounting for 29 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector contributed the most to the decline. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales rose 2.1 per cent. In volume terms, wholesale sales dropped 2.8 per cent. Over three-quarters (75.9 per cent) of wholesalers saw their business activity impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with lower sales volumes caused by the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses. Wholesale inventories edged up 0.1 per cent in March, to $92 billion. Wholesalers reported an estimated reduction of $2.5 billion (unadjusted) in inventories because of COVID-19. Construction activity in most of Canada also ground to a halt. As a result, sales of construction equipment and supplies are starting to suffer. The building materials and supplies sector wholesale sales were down 3.7 per cent, with the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies subsector up 1.7 per cent year-over year.

Canfor Implements Further Curtailments

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. will curtail production at its Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp facilities, both in Prince George, BC, for approximately four weeks starting July. “We have made the difficult decision to temporarily curtail Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp due to the major global economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of economically viable fibre in the region,” says Don Kayne, chief executive officer of Canfor Pulp.

RCC, BCG Release Guide For Retailer Reopening

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have released ‘Road to Retail Recovery Playbook – Helping Canadian Retailers Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis,’ a guide to help retailers of all sizes plan for the broader reopening of retail stores across the country. The Playbook leverages global best practices for a diverse range of retail formats with the fundamental aim of ensuring a safe environment for employees and customers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Retail's contribution to Canada's prosperity cannot be overstated, says RCC. It comprises over 145,000 retail establishments employing 2.1 million Canadians. As retailers seek to reopen, questions remain as to how to safely guide both customers and employees. The Playbook includes key retail operational components such as customer health and safety, employee well-being, retail operations, merchandising and marketing, store network and channel, and finances. This resource is free to everyone and is available here

Lowe's Earnings Increase

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2020 compared to a net earnings of $1 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Sales for the quarter were $19.7 billion compared to $17.7 billion in the year-ago period and comparable sales increased 11.2 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 12.3 per cent year-over-year and online sales grew by 80 per cent. Gross margin was $6.5 billion compared to $5.6 billion. Lowe’s had positive comparable sales in 14 of 15 of its merchandising departments, with above company average sales in paint, lawn and garden, lumber, hardware, tools, and appliances. During the first quarter, the company invested $340 million towards the health and safety of associates and the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walmart Has Increased Revenues

Walmart had total revenue of $134.6 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2021, an increase of 8.6 per cent over revenue of $123.9 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. Walmart U.S. comparable sales grew 10 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period while Walmart International net sales grew 3.4 per cent. Walmart U.S. eCommerce sales grew 74 per cent. Overall operating income was $5.2 billion, up 5.6 per cent compared to $4.9 billion last year. Consolidated gross profit rate declined 66 basis points, primarily as a result of the carryover of investments in price from the previous year, a shift in the sales mix to lower-margin categories and channels, and markdowns in general merchandise. The company incurred incremental costs of nearly $900 million related to COVID-19.

May 20, 2020

Housing Starts Expectations Remain Negative

Most metropolitan housing starts expectations remained negative in April, says Jane McIntyre, senior economist with the Conference Board of Canada. However, there were six census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with positive expectations for both short and long terms. That is one more than March. Short- and long-term expectations remained positive in Calgary and Edmonton, AB, in spite of low oil prices and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oshawa and Toronto, ON, Saint John, NB, and Regina and Saskatoon, SK, had the biggest year-over-year percentage increases in housing starts for the month. Kitchener–Waterloo, ON, had the biggest year-over-year percentage decrease in housing starts.

Task Force Focuses On Economic Recovery

The government of Canada has launched the ‘Task Force for a Resilient Recovery,’ an independent group of finance, policy, and sustainability leaders that will provide recommendations to encourage a resilient economic recovery after the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 crisis. The task force will spend the next eight weeks developing actionable recommendations on how governments can help get Canadians back to work while also building a low-carbon and resilient economy. The fourteen task force members are backed by eight expert advisors, including reputed business and finance experts and research organizations Smart Prosperity Institute and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The team will look at and assess a variety of potential recovery investments. The scale and scope of Canada’s job losses will demand thoughtful approaches, with special care targeted at Canada’s oil producing regions and at the service sector. The task force will consider both immediate actions and longer-term investments that can support these and other parts of Canada’s economy.

TIMBER MART Gets Quebec Member

Family-owned and -operated building material retailer O. Coderre et Fils Ltée has joined TIMBER MART. With two retail locations – one in Saint-Jacques and one in Crabtree, QC – O. Coderre et Fils says it joined the group to get access to better buying power and greater dealer support. Founded in 1950, the retailer has grown over the years both in product offerings and size. From a small store in Saint-Jacques de Montcalm, QC, the business has expanded to two retail locations that total 70,000 square feet and have accompanying lumberyards that total 170,000 square feet. From these locations, O. Coderre et Fils offers its contractor and DIY customers a wide assortment of hardware and building material products.

Consumers Interested In Cleaner Stores

More than 70 per cent of consumers would feel comfortable visiting brick-and-mortar retail stores within two months of the end of the national emergency, says a survey of U.S. consumers by ICSC Research. However, when they do return to stores, they’re interested in seeing frequent cleaning/sanitizing, with 62 per cent of consumers interested in more hand sanitizer and disinfecting cloths, 49 per cent interested in staff wearing masks and/or gloves, and 48 per cent interested in measures that facilitate social distancing. The survey shows there could be significant pent-up demand as well. About 70 per cent of consumers say they will make purchases they had planned but could not complete because of the pandemic. As well, 62 per cent of consumers either do not plan to cut back on spending or will cut back for only five months or less.

Home Depot Has Increase In Sales

The Home Depot had sales of US$28.3 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, a 7.1 per cent increase from sales of $26.4 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 6.4 per cent year-over-year and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 7.5 per cent. The retailer had net earnings of $2.2 billion compared with net earnings of $2.5 billion in the year-ago period. Online sales increased roughly 80 per cent compared to the year-ago period, with 60 per cent of online orders picked up at a store. Home Depot had positive comparable sales in 11 of it 14 merchandising departments; departments with a heavy reliance on in-home installation were negative during the quarter. The company spent approximately $850 million in the quarter to support associates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 19, 2020

Home Sales Post Record Declines

National home sales and new listings fell by more than half in April compared to March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). New home sales fell 56.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis in April while actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down a similar 57.6 per cent year-over-year. The number of newly listed properties decreased 55.7 per cent from March to April. The decline in home sales follows an already weakened March, with a majority of sellers and buyers having seemingly moved off to the sidelines during the COVID-19 lockdown. Transactions were down across the country. Among Canada's largest markets, sales fell by 66.2 per cent in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA); 64.4 per cent in Montreal, QC; 57.9 per cent in Greater Vancouver, BC; 54.8 per cent in the Fraser Valley, BC; 53.1 per cent in Calgary, AB; 46.6 per cent in Edmonton, AB; 42 per cent in Winnipeg, MB; 59.8 per cent in Hamilton-Burlington, ON; and 51.5 per cent in Ottawa, ON.

Large Drop In U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales dropped almost twice as much during April as they did in March as America’s economy saw its first full month when most businesses were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). NRF calculates that retail sales in the U.S. were down 14.1 per cent seasonally adjusted from March and down 8.7 per cent unadjusted year-over-year. The NRF numbers show less of a decline than the Census Bureau (which says retail sales were down 16.4 per cent seasonally adjusted from March and down 21.6 per cent unadjusted year-over-year) because the categories excluded were among those most affected as fewer people were driving and most restaurants were limited to take-out orders if not closed entirely. NRF says every category of retail, except online, was down on a monthly basis in April, including grocery stores and others that had seen a surge in March as consumers stocked up. Online, grocery stores, and building materials were the only categories that saw a year-over-year gain. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year but down 3.5 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

Wolseley Now Carries GE Products

Plumbing and HVAC/R distributor Wolseley has partnered with GE Appliances, a Haier company. Starting in May, Wolseley will carry GE’s line of Haier ductless and heat pump products in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The partnership will allow Wolseley to provide a range of products and resources for dealers to meet customers' growing needs for heating, cooling, and indoor air quality products. Wolseley plans to offer the products to western Canada in the fall. As a Haier distributor, Wolseley customers will get preferred dealer pricing, access to seasonal promotions, advertising support, incentives, and enhanced technical support.

Derby Launches Dealer Support Tool

Quebec-based Derby Building Products, parent company of the Tando brand of products, has launched Tando Dealer Express, a program that supports dealers and is designed to make Tando products easier to buy and sell. With Tando Dealer Express, Tando products are ordered through the distributor, but shipped directly to the dealer to keep orders moving. “Tando Dealer Express can help supplement and bridge any product gaps while inventory dollars are tight,” says Ralph Bruno, CEO of Derby. “This will allow our distributors and dealers to capture revenue and ensure that no orders are left behind.” The program will be promoted with a four- to six-week marketing campaign and dedicated landing page on the website. The program was developed based on feedback from distributor and dealer partners and is designed to ensure dealers can get what they need during the pandemic – especially for installers in the middle of a job.

MoistureShield Adds Colours To Decking Line

MoistureShield has added two variegated colours to its Elevate capped wood composite decking product line – riverbank and alpine grey. With texture and depth similar to tropical hardwoods, these colours join the classic solid colours of canoe, a forest brown, and lake fog, a soft grey shade. The Elevate product line offers protective caps that shield each board from impact, corrosion, and harsh weather. As with all MoistureShield deck products, Elevate features the Solid Core Difference, a proprietary manufacturing process offering protection against moisture absorption, warping, rotting, and damage from insects. Elevate 1-inch by six-inch deck boards are available in 12-foot, 16-foot, and 20-foot lengths in grooved profiles (for hidden fasteners) and 20-foot lengths with a solid edge, as well as fascia boards in 12-foot lengths.



May 15, 2020

Manufacturing Sales Fall 9.2 Per Cent

Manufacturing sales fell 9.2 per cent to $50.8 billion in March, the lowest level since June 2016 and the largest percentage decline since December 2008, during the previous recession, says Statistics Canada in its ‘Monthly Survey of Manufacturing.’ Manufacturing sales in March were substantially affected by COVID-19 as many plants were shut down or faced sharply lower demand during the last two weeks of the month. Given ongoing lower demand, together with continued challenges to global supply chains and ongoing physical distancing measures, the March decline in sales is expected to continue into April. Sales were down in 17 of 21 industries, led by steep declines in the transportation equipment and petroleum and coal product industries. In contrast, sales were up in food, paper, and the beverage and tobacco industries. In volumes terms, manufacturing sales fell 8.3 per cent, indicating that a lower volume of products was sold in March. Manufacturing sales were down in eight provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec. In contrast, Manitoba and Nova Scotia reported higher sales.

Additional Ontario Workplaces To Reopen

The Ontario government says retailers, seasonal businesses, and health and community service providers will be permitted to open or expand their services on May 19, provided that the general trend on health indicators continues to improve as part of the first stage of the government's reopening framework after implementing restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As well, additional seasonal services and activities will be permitted to open as early as May 16 in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, as key public health indicators continue to show progress. Among the businesses that will be permitted to reopen are retailers that have street-front entrances and construction sites. The government and health and safety associations have released safety guidance documents to assist employers in multiple sectors, including construction, retail, facilities maintenance, and manufacturing. It has also launched a website to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers.

Industry Supports Lifted Construction Moratorium

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA), RenoMark, and the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) all support the Ontario government’s decision to allow the start of new renovation projects. “The professional renovation industry employs over 150,000 people in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) with over $9 billion in wages,” says Jack Torossian, CEO of Golden Bee Homes Inc. and chair of the BILD renovator executive committee and BILD’s RenoMark program. “Then vast majority of renovators and custom home builders are small, family-owned businesses and the slowdown has hit the sector particularly hard.” The government’s decision will allow new home renovations and planned renovation projects to start again on May 19. “Allowing all residential construction to proceed in Ontario as of next week will have a tremendously positive impact on the economic recovery of the province as well as ensuring that housing is provided for thousands of Ontarians,” says Richard Lyall, president of RESCON.

Tremco Awarded Public Sector Contract

Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance and its affiliate Weatherproofing Technologies Canada (WTC) have been awarded a public sector contract by Kinetic GPO for roofing supplies and services, waterproofing, and related products and services. The contract enables Kinetic GPO customers to expedite procuring a complete range of roofing solutions for projects ranging from new construction to repair to restoration, as well as analytical, maintenance, and information-based roofing services to keep buildings leak fee. Kinetic GPO is a cooperative purchasing organization established for the Canadian multiple broader public sector (BPS) and MASH (Municipalities, Academics, School Boards, and Health and Social Services). Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance offers roofing systems for every environment, including some specifically developed for Canada. WTC is Tremco Roofing's service arm throughout Canada.

CanWel Has Strong First Quarter

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenue of $326.7 million for the first quarter of 2020, a 15.9 per cent increase compared to consolidated revenue of $281.9 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was partly due to the inclusion of results from Lignum Forest Products, which the company acquired in April of last year. Gross margin dollars for the quarter increased 6.1 per cent to $43.5 million, compared to $41 million during the year-ago period. Gross margin percentage was 13.3 per cent of revenues versus 14.6 per cent last year. EBITDA increased 9.5 per cent to $16.5 million, compared to $15.1 million during the first quarter of 2019 and the company had net earnings of $850 million compared to a net loss of $356 million last year.

May 14, 2020

Pandemic Creates Dramatic Shift In Spending Habits

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic shifts in consumer spending habits, says a study by Payments Canada. The study compared spending behaviours pre-COVID-19 and at week five of the pandemic, uncovering higher use of contactless payments, electronic payments, eCommerce, online/mobile banking, and lower demand for cash. Overall, 75 per cent of Canadians say they were spending less than pre-COVID-19. Ninety-three per cent of Canadians say they stopped going out completely except for necessities. For those who were leaving their homes, 42 per cent say they avoided shopping at places that did not accept contactless payments, and 52 per cent tried not to exceed the contactless limit when buying something in-store. While we have seen a continued shift towards digital payments over a number of years in Canada, there's no doubt that the prevailing pandemic has accelerated this shift – and will likely act as a catalyst in transforming the Canadian payment landscape forever,” says Tracey Black, president and CEO of Payments Canada.

Kitchen Industry Uncertain About Economy

U.S. kitchen and bath professionals list economic uncertainty and fear of recession as their current primary challenges, demoting cost of materials, availability of skilled labour, and labour costs – the top three concerns last quarter – to seventh, eighth and 11th on the list, respectively, says the ‘Q1 2020 Kitchen & Bath Market Index’ (KBMI) by National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and John Burns Real Estate Consulting. While the impact of COVID-19 on kitchen and bath professionals is undeniable, there are indicators of the recovery to come, says the report. For instance, though 69 per cent of all kitchen and bath projects have been impacted by the crisis, the majority of these (48 per cent) were postponements, as opposed to cancellations. The majority of respondents (68 per cent) expect the economy will largely reopen and that demand for their services and products will return to normal levels by September. However, 25 per cent are unsure whether conditions will improve until at least 2021. One of the most optimistic groups is retailers, 42 per cent of whom expect demand for their products to return to normal before the end of June, which aligns with the timeline for U.S. reopening of its economy.

Atlas Polar Now HIAB/LOGLIFT Distributor

Truck-mounted equipment company Atlas Polar Company Ltd. now carries the entire range of HIAB/LOGLIFT heavy-duty cranes and accessories. HIAB features the HiVision LOGLIFT, a timber crane that is controlled by virtual reality (VR). Operators can direct the crane from the passenger seat using the VR headset to gain a 270-degree field of vision. More importantly, VR eliminates the need for an additional crane cabin, weighing up to 400 kilograms. The lighter weight dramatically increases payload, profit, and substantially increases driver safety. “LOGLIFT cranes are a tremendous addition to our top-of-the-line product offerings,” says Bob Parr, president of Atlas Polar. “Like all of our brands, they are the epitome of smart controls, smart ideas, and next-generation technology. Our ability to distribute and service this line across Canada will help to keep some of our biggest industries at the technological forefront, and help to retain our place right up there with them.”

Davis Joins Bed Bath & Beyond

Cindy Davis will be executive vice-president, chief brand officer of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. and president, Decorist, effective May 26. She is currently executive vice-president and chief digital marketing officer of L Brands.



ROCKWOOL Has Slight Sales Increase

ROCKWOOL International A/S had sales of €649 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to sales of €641 million in the first quarter of 2019. EBIT for the quarter was €80 million, up 4.5 per cent compared to EBIT of €77 million in the year-ago period. EBIT margin was up 0.3 per cent over last year. Profit for the quarter was €61 million versus €57 last year.

May 13, 2020

All Major Cities Affected By Pandemic

The similarities and differences in how local economies will weather the pandemic are emerging, says the Conference Board of Canada. Its ‘Major Cities Insights Report’ says travel restrictions and social distancing measures are having an impact on all major cities in Canada. As well, job losses are affecting income and consumer confidence – providing a blow to spending on accommodations, retail, and restaurants in every location. Population growth and new home construction are also being affected across the board. However, while all cities will be affected by the pandemic, there are regional differences in the economic outlooks based on local sectors and pre-pandemic conditions, says the report. Edmonton and Calgary, AB, will be most impacted by energy sector production curtailments and the low price of oil. Construction, manufacturing, utilities, and technical services sectors will contract in both metropolitan areas this year as a result. Cities with higher public sector employment will fare slightly better than others. For example, Ottawa, ON’s large public service sector will help retain some jobs in the area as will most cities’ publicly funded healthcare industries. Social distancing mandated in response to the pandemic will slash output in Vancouver, BC’s accommodation and food services industry by 41.3 per cent and its arts and entertainment industries by nearly 18 per cent.

James Hardie To Shutter Plants

Building products manufacturer James Hardie Industries plc, in an effort to establish a strategic and scalable management system to drive sustainable and profitable growth, will close several manufacturing plants. The company will permanently close its South Carolina and New Zealand plants and temporarily cease operations of its Siglingen, Germany manufacturing plant. It will also close James Hardie Systems, the permanent formwork business based out of Cooroy, Australia, along with its associated manufacturing plant. As well, the company will delay commissioning its Alabama plant until its fiscal 2022 year. The company says these closures are consistent with its strategy to scale and modernize its global operations.

Canadian Tire Opens Niagara Falls Store

Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) has opened a Canadian Tire retail store in Niagara Falls, ON, that is one of the retailer’s largest locations in the province. The 76,000-square-foot store has retail and warehouse space and opened in line with the Ontario government’s new COVID-19 protocols that allowed hardware stores to open fully to the public (with restrictions) on May 9. Construction of the Morrison Street location began in July 2019. The 218,000-square-foot property is owned by CT REIT, which owns a Canada-wide portfolio of assets leased primarily to CTC.

LP Has Strong Quarter

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had net sales of $585 million for the first quarter of 2020, up one per cent over net sales of $582 million in the first quarter of 2019. Net sales for the siding segment decreased three per cent year-over-year; net sales for the oriented strand board (OSB) segment increased six per cent; and net sales for the engineered wood products (EWP) segment increased 10 per cent. Overall net income for the quarter was $33 million, up 22 per cent from $26 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $83 million, up 43 per cent from $58 million last year and adjusted income was $38 million compared to $17 million.

Brampton Brick Has Revenue Increase

Brampton Brick Limited had revenue of $21,029 in the first quarter of 2020, up from revenue of $19,356 in the first quarter of 2019. Revenue for the masonry products business segment was $19,044 for the first quarter of 2020, compared to $17,677 in the year-ago period and revenue for the landscape products business segment was $1,924 compared to $1,644. The company had an overall net loss of $5,968 compared to a net loss of $4,498 last year. The operating loss for the quarter was $6,059 compared to a loss of $5,129.

May 12, 2020

Orgill Market To Go Virtual

Orgill, Inc. has cancelled its ‘Fall Dealer Market,’ scheduled for August 27 to 29 in Las Vegas, NV, in order to be prepared in case social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is still in place. Instead, the distributor will hold a fall online buying event that will allow its retail customers to still take advantage of buying opportunities and special deals. “While we hope conditions improve between now and August, we believe that refocusing our efforts with our vendors now to an online buying event for all of our customers is a better way for us to deliver on our mission to help our customers be successful,” says Boyden Moore, president and CEO of Orgill. Orgill typically holds two dealer markets every year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The events bring retailers, manufacturers, and service providers from across the industry together drawing thousands of attendees and exhibitors. Details about the online buying event will be released in the coming weeks.

Mastercard Offers Free Cybersecurity Tools To Small Businesses

Mastercard is offering free cybersecurity tools for small businesses to help them protect their environments during the COVID-19 crisis. RiskRecon, a Mastercard company, will provide cybersecurity assessments through December 31. This assessment can help businesses identify and address potential vulnerabilities in their systems. With free access to RiskRecon’s ‘My Cyber Risk’ service and portal, small businesses will receive continuous cyberhealth assessments along with actionable recommendations for how to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. Using passive techniques, the tool helps enterprise organizations better understand and act on their cybersecurity health by continuously discovering their digital footprint and non-invasively assessing their security risk posture across 40 security criteria spanning thousands of security checks. Mastercard says the program is offered at no cost and no obligation to businesses with less than 100 employees.

Steady Growth Forecast For Gardening Consumables

The global lawn and gardening consumables market size is anticipated to reach US$25.94 billion by 2027, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. By end user, the residential segment accounted for a share of more than 45 per cent in 2019 and is expected to expand at the highest CAGR over the forecast period. Based on product, fertilizers held a major share of more than 32 per cent in 2019 and is expected to maintain its lead in the next few years. The report says that the wave of Millennials buying homes, particularly older homes that require more improvements, are boosting the demand for landscaping products in the residential segment. This cohort is investing in a greater number of home improvement projects each year as compared to other age groups. Moreover, many consumers are considering the concept of landscaping as an essential part of interior decoration, which, in turn, is driving the demand for lawn and gardening consumables.

Residential Lumber Drives Stella-Jones Sales

Stella-Jones Inc. had sales of $503 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 14 per cent over sales of $441 million for the first quarter of 2019. Pressure-treated wood sales rose by 13 per cent year-over-year driven by residential lumber sales which were up 25 per cent with increased demand in Canada and the U.S. Overall gross profit increased 19 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Operating income and EBITDA remained relatively unchanged year-over-year. Net income was $28 million versus net income of $29 million last year.

May 11, 2020

COVID-19 Causes Major Building Permit Decline

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 13.2 per cent to $7.4 billion in March, with declines reported in seven provinces and two territories, says Statistics Canada. The $1.1 billion national decrease was the largest since August 2014. This reflected notable drops in Ontario (-12.9 per cent), Quebec (-18.1 per cent), and British Columbia (-19.4 per cent), which coincided with efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The total value of residential permits also decreased, down 13.1 per cent to $4.6 billion in March. The value of permits issued for single-family dwellings fell 15.3 per cent to $2.2 billion. The value of permits issued for multi-family dwellings was down 11.1 per cent to $2.5 billion, with the largest declines seen in Ontario (-13 per cent to $1.1 billion) and British Columbia (-24.4 per cent to $389 million). Non-residential permits decreased for third consecutive month, with seven provinces reporting declines in the value of commercial permits issues, bringing the national total down 19.7 per cent to $1.6 billion.

Quebec Shutdown Decreases National Housing Starts

The trend in housing starts was 199,589 units in April, down from 204,899 units in March, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Excluding Quebec, the trend was 155,995 units in April, up from 153,463 units in March. The survey was also reported without Quebec because it had introduced pandemic measures in the province in late March. However, residential construction in Quebec resumed on April 20. “Outside of Quebec, the national trend in housing starts increased in April, despite the impact of COVID-19 containment measures,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC. “This reflects strong growth in multi-family starts in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. We expect these provinces to register declines in the near term.” The standalone monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of housing starts for all areas in Canada, excluding Quebec, saw an increase of 10.8 per cent in April from March. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 12.4 per cent, multiple urban starts increased by 35.7 per cent, and single-detached urban starts decreased by 27.1 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7,285 units, excluding Quebec.

Businesses Face Reopening Challenges

Small business owners say that managing social distancing (64 per cent), keeping up with cleaning (55 per cent), making customers feel comfortable (53 per cent), knowing what the rules are (52 per cent), and access to personal protection equipment (48 per cent) are their top concerns as governments start to lift restrictions and reopen the economy, says a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “Making more sales is mission critical for businesses who are trying to survive, so turning the corner on shutdowns is welcome news,” says Laura Jones, executive vice-president at CFIB. |However, “it also brings practical challenges like figuring out how to make social distancing work, finding enough hand sanitizer, and talking to employees about coming back to work.” The survey also says three-quarters of businesses find it critical to make more sales soon to survive and be less reliant on government subsidies. Half of business owners say they will need to make at least 75 per cent of their typical sales to make it worthwhile for their business to stay open through the summer and more than three quarters would prefer that governments create general guidelines rather than prescriptive rules for how businesses should operate when they reopen. CFIB has a number of resources available for businesses to help in the transition. For more information, visit CFIB

Acadian Has Slow First Quarter

Acadian Timber Corp. had sales of $31.4 million for the first quarter of 2020, a decrease compared to sales of $30.9 million in the first quarter of 2019. Sales for New Brunswick Timberlands segment for the quarter were $21.7 million compared to $21.4 million during the prior-year period. Sales for the Maine Timberlands segment were $9.7 million compared to $9.5 million last year. Overall adjusted EBITDA was $8.3 million compared to $8.9 million and EBITDA margin was 27 per cent compared to 29 per cent. The company had a net loss of $3.7 million for the first quarter, compared to a net income of $6.4 million last year.

May 8, 2020

CTC Consolidated Sales Decrease

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had consolidated retail sales of $2.76 billion in the first quarter of 2020, a decrease of 2.7 per cent compared to consolidated retail sales of $2.83 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were down 2.3 per cent year-over-year. Consolidated revenue for the quarter was $2.85 billion, down 1.6 per cent compared to consolidated revenue of $2.89 billion last year. Excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue decreased one per cent. Canadian Tire retail sales increased 2.2 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and comparable sales were up 0.7 per cent. Revenue was $1.4 billion, up four per cent over revenue of $1.35 billion last year.

Ontario Eases Restrictions On Retailers

The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores, and safety supply stores. However, business owners should review the health and safety guidelines developed by the province and its health and safety association partners. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases on May 9, while garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases May 8. On May 11, retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery, in accordance with the Ministry of Health's ‘Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces’ and occupational health and safety requirements. In addition to easing restrictions on retail, the government is also expanding essential construction to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue.

Consumer Loyalty High For Outdoor Equipment Repair Parts

On average, 39 per cent of people who own a specific brand of outdoor power equipment (OPE) will buy replacement parts or products that are the same brand as the OPE product, says TraQline’s ‘Maintenance and Replacement Parts’ survey for 2019. Replacement and maintenance parts are most frequently bought for mowers (both walk-behind and zero turn/riding) and least frequently bought for hedge trimmers and snow throwers. The most commonly purchased repair and maintenance parts are oil and spark plugs for lawn mowers, trimmer lines for line/string trimmers, and chains for chain saws. The survey also says that about 17 per cent of consumers don’t know the brand name of the replacement parts they purchased. As well, about 15 per cent of all replacement parts were purchased online.

Demirkaya Appointed Chief Accounting Officer

Onur Demirkaya has been promoted to chief accounting officer at Foundation Building Materials, Inc. He joined the company as vice-president of finance and accounting in2014.

Higher Commodity Prices Drive Taiga Sales

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had consolidated net sales of $320.3 million for the first quarter of 2020, and increase of 11 per cent compared to net sales of $287.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was largely due to increased selling prices for commodity products. Gross margin for the quarter increased to $30.6 million from $27.5 million over the same period last year. Net earnings were $6.6 million compared to $4.7 million in the year-ago period and EBITDA was $13.1 million compared to $11.1 million.

May 7, 2020

Greater Vancouver Home Sales Down

Residential home sales in Greater Vancouver, BC, totalled 1,109 in April, down 39.4 per cent from 1,829 sales in April 2019 and down 56.1 per cent from 2,524 homes sold in March 2020, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). April’s sales were 62.7 per cent below the 10-year April sales average and was the lowest total for the month since 1982. There were 2,313 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in Metro Vancouver in April. This represents a 59.7 per cent decrease compared to the 5,742 homes listed in April 2019 and a 47.9 per cent decrease compared to March 2020 when 4,436 homes were listed. The total number of homes currently listed for sale in Metro Vancouver is 9,389, a 34.6 per cent decrease compared to April 2019 (14,357) and a 2.3 per cent decrease compared to March 2020 (9,606). REBGV says real estate agents are responding to COVID-19 containment measures by using different technologies to showcase homes virtually, assess neighbourhood amenities with clients, and handle paperwork.

COVID-19 Impacts GTA Residential Sales

In the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) there were 2,975 home sales in April, down 67 per cent compared to April 2019, says the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). New listings amounted to 6,174 for the month, down 64.1 per cent compared to April 2019. “The necessary social distancing and economic impacts associated with COVID-19 clearly impacted home sales and listings throughout April 2020,” says Michael Collins, president of TRREB. “However, [real estate agents] have been able to facilitate some transactions on behalf of buyers and sellers through the use of innovative techniques including virtual open houses. TRREB has also provided a live ‘streamvirtualopen house’ option on member listings featured on our public websites, and I would expect the use of these innovative techniques to increase as some level of social distancing remains in place for the foreseeable future.”

U.S. Consumers Want Touchless Fixtures

U.S. consumers are looking for touchless hand washing fixtures in washrooms as they prepare to return to public life in the age of COVID-19, says a report by commercial plumbing fixtures manufacturer Bradley Corp. The report says 91 per cent of consumers believe it’s extremely or somewhat important that public restrooms are equipped with touchless fixtures and 60 per cent say their preference for touchless hand washing fixtures has risen a great deal since the pandemic. Another insight is the fact that consumers have reordered their priorities as to how facilities should improve their restrooms. “Making everything touchless is now the most-requested improvement,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. “Just months ago in December 2019, the most desired upgrade was keeping restrooms cleaner and better stocked. In both cases, it’s clear that Americans have grown more averse to germ hot-spots in restrooms.”

Norbord Earnings Up

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $75 million for the first quarter of 2020 compared to adjusted EBITDA of $42 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was primarily driven by higher realized North American OSB prices and lower raw material and energy prices. The company also reduced North American unit manufacturing costs by four per cent year-over-year. North American operations generated adjusted EBITDA of $68 million compared to $23 million in the year-ago period and European operations delivered adjusted EBITDA of $10 million compared to $21 million last year. The company had adjusted earnings of $21 million compared to an adjusted loss of $2 million.

Sales Slide At PPG

PPG had net sales of approximately $3.4 billion for the first quarter of 2020, down seven per cent versus net sales in the first quarter of 2019. Selling prices increased more than one per cent and sales volumes were down eight per cent year-over-year. The company also estimates an impact of $225 million from the COVID-19 pandemic. Net income for the quarter was $243 million compared to $312 million last year and adjusted net income was $282 million compared to $330 million. The performance coatings segment net sales were down nearly five per cent versus the prior year and the industrial coatings segment net sales were down 10 per cent.

May 6, 2020

Small Business Feeling COVID-19 Impact

The majority of Canadian small business owners (81 per cent) say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their operations, and many (32 per cent) worry about the viability of their business over the next year, says a study by CIBC. However, optimism for the longer term remains strong with most business owners with three-quarters confident they can rebound after the crisis. The majority (85 per cent) agree the uncertainty of how long COVID-19 measures will last is currently the hardest aspect to manage. More than half of business owners (54 per cent) say sales have dropped due to the impact of the pandemic, and an additional 28 per cent have had to temporarily shut down operations altogether. Most have made significant changes to weather the crisis, including reducing operating expenses (34 per cent), dipping into savings (29 per cent), laying off staff (25 per cent), and applying for more credit (15 per cent). Close to one-in-three (29 per cent) feel it will take a year or two to get back to pre-COVID business volumes.

Shopify Launches Omni-channel POS System

Shopify has released its rebuilt Shopify POS system for omni-channel businesses that is designed to bring in-person and online sales together in one place. The POS unit is included with all Shopify plans and merchants with brick-and-mortar locations can use Shopify POS Pro, a set of tools built specifically for retail stores. Shopify POS features simplified omni-channel management, flexibility for increased selling, increased options as businesses re-open, mobile checkout, and an intuitive smart grid feature with shortcuts.

Castle Launches Trust Fund

Castle Building Centres Group Limited’s trust fund for two boys who lost their parents in the tragedy in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19 is now accepting donations. Castle members Kurt and Tina Gratto of Masstown Hardware Castle Building Supplies lost their daughter Jamie Blair and her husband Greg Blair. Jamie and Greg’s sons, Jack, 10, and Alexander, 12, managed to escape unharmed and are now the care of their stepbrother. “The tragic loss of their parents at such a young age is unimaginable and the outpouring of sympathy and support has been nothing short of incredible,” says Castle in a press release. “The family is very grateful to our industry community during this stressful time, as they grieve their loss and adapt to this new reality.” The team at Castle wanted to offer the children a legacy of hope through this tragedy, so the buying group established the Jack and Alexander Blair Trust to offer the children access to funds that will assist in giving them a brighter future. Contributions will go towards meeting their future needs for cost of living, education, health, as well as extra-curricular activities such as sports and hobbies. The funds will be held in trust until they reach the age of majority. For more information, visit Castle Trust Fund

Rendle Promoted To President Of Clorox

Linda Rendle is president of the Clorox Company. She has been with the company for 17 years, most recently as executive vice-president – cleaning, international, strategy, and operations.

HDI Has Strong First Quarter

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $325.1 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 13.2 per cent compared to sales of $287.1 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in sales was a result of sales performance, acquisitions, and favourable foreign exchange translation. Gross profit margin was 19.3 per cent for the quarter compared to 17.8 per cent in the year-ago period. Profit for the quarter was $9.4 million compared to $3.4 million last year, an increase of 57.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA grew 31.7 per cent to $22.8 million, from $17.3 million last year.

May 5, 2020

Business Survey Shows Economic Clock Is Ticking

Businesses may not have much time before they close their doors if they have to remain closed or open with restrictive measures due to COVID-19, says a report by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The 'Canadian Survey on Business Conditions' (CSBC) says 42.4 per cent of businesses, due to a lack of a cash buffer, couldn't operate longer than 60 days without a source of revenue and 51.1 per cent couldn't operate longer than 90 days. More than 80 per cent of businesses have already experienced a medium to high drop in demand for products and services since containment measures have been put in place. Even if they are allowed to remain open, 17.5 per cent of businesses say they can not remain open at all with social distancing measures in place, while 22.2 per cent could survive only three months amid social distancing, 11.9 per cent could survive three to six months, and 32.1 per cent could remain open longer than six months. However, many businesses are exploring other opportunities, such as altered methods of production, altered selection of products or services, new methods to interact with customers, and other channels to market such as eCommerce.

CFIB Welcomes Careful Reopening Of Economy

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it welcomes the careful, phased approach to the reopening of the economy which began May 4 in several provinces. Until then, 80 per cent of small firms were closed (fully or partially) with 20 per cent fully open. Alarmingly, over 40 per cent report that they may permanently close if the current restrictions remain in place until the end of May. Therefore, it is good news that some businesses in some provinces will be permitted to serve customers once again, says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. "Small, independent businesses are more naturally able to adjust to the need for ongoing physical distancing given they serve far fewer customers than big box stores. Learning from the grocery model of limiting the number of customers in-store, disinfecting between customers, and barriers at checkouts where needed, small firms can be part of the solution if given the opportunity." However, it will be a messy recovery, he says. "Employees may be nervous to return to work or prefer to remain on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Protective equipment may be difficult to find and employers may not be sure what the rules of the game are. My advice for governments, business owners, employees, and customers is let's be patient, careful, and respect each other's perspectives. We are in new territory – not everything will be clear or in place as it should. And we need to listen to the advice of medical officers. An uptick in COVID-19 cases or a handful of 'yahoos' may prompt a quick end to the phased reopening."

Goodfellow To Distribute Fortress Framing Products

Texas-based Fortress Building Products, a manufacturer of fencing, framing, and fastener products, has extended its distribution partnership with Canadian materials distributor Goodfellow Inc. to deliver Fortress Evolution Steel Deck Framing across the Canadian market. Goodfellow also distributes Fortress Railing products. Fortress Evolution is a deck framing system made of uniform light-gauge steel. They system's design allows for integration with any type of brand of decking, such as composite, PVC, aluminum, tile, wood, and tropical hardwoods.

Lowe's Canada Extends Hourly Wage Premium

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Lowe's Canada will extend the temporary $2 an hour wage premium for all eligible full-time, part-time, and seasonal hourly associates working at Lowe's, RONA, or Reno-Depot corporate stores, contact centres, and supply chain facilities in Canada to the hours they work throughout the month of May. "We want to continue supporting our associates who may be going through hardships, as well as recognize their amazing efforts and resilience as they work tirelessly to serve our customers while adapting our way of doing things to our new reality," says Tony Hurst, president of Lowe's Canada. The retailer also continues its spring hiring campaign as it looks to fill 3,000 seasonal and regular positions.

Residential Construction Improves Huttig Sales

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $203 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 2.8 per cent over net sales of $197.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in net sales was primarily attributed to an increase in new residential construction. Millwork product sales increased 0.9 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period, building products sales increased 5.1 per cent, and wood product sales increased 1.4 per cent. Overall gross margin was $40.9 million compared to $37.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 20.1 per cent compared to 18.9 per cent last year. The company had a net loss of $8.9 million compared to a net loss of $3.2 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $3.5 million compared to a loss of $0.3 million.

May 4, 2020

Provinces Begin Process Of Re-opening Businesses

Several provincial governments have set dates for the gradual reopening of businesses after restrictions were placed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. All business that do open are required to follow strict guidelines and measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19. As part of the first of three phases, the government of Ontario will allow certain, mostly seasonal, businesses to reopen May 4. Businesses allowed to open include garden centres for curbside pick-up and lawn care and landscaping companies as well as a number of essential construction projects. The government of Quebec will gradually open schools and select businesses outside of Montreal on May 4 and the construction industry will be allowed to fully reopen May 11. The government of British Columbia has not set any dates for reopening yet as it waits until there are several days of no new cases of COVID-19 first. It has, however, extended its state of emergency for another two weeks starting April 29. The Manitoba government will allow retailers to open May 4, but hasn't released plans for a full reopening yet. In Alberta, some retailers are expected to reopen May 14 as the first part of the government's three-phase program. The second and third phase are contingent on the success of the first. Some retailers in Saskatchewan will start reopening May 19 as the second of a five-phase plan. Garden centres and nurseries can open in Nova Scotia as the government eased some of its public health restrictions. Certain construction projects were allowed to resume May 1 in Prince Edward Island, as the first part of a four-phase plan. The second phase will allow some retailers to open May 22. The Newfoundland and Labrador government is working with 'alert levels' and will descend from level five to four on May 4 which will allow low-risk businesses, including garden centres, to open.

Canada Entered Recession In First Quarter

Preliminary data suggests Canada entered a recession in the first quarter of 2020 with a February peak, says the C.D. Howe Institute’s Business Cycle Council. The Council defines a recession as a pronounced, persistent, and pervasive decline in aggregate economic activity. It looked at Statistics Canada’s estimate data that shows a nine per cent drop in March GDP resulting in a quarterly drop of 2.6 per cent – the largest one quarter drop in GDP on record. The magnitude of the contraction makes it extremely unlikely that any future adjustments will overturn the conclusion of a major drop in economic activity in the first quarter. On top of that, labour force survey data indicate a 1.5 per cent drop in total employment in the first quarter, with a 5.3 per cent drop in March alone. Further GDP revisions will occur which may impact the peak month, but are extremely unlikely to be significant enough to alter the recession call for the first quarter of 2020, says the Council.

U.S. Home Improvement Spending To Decline

Expenditures for home improvements to the owner-occupied housing stock in the U.S. are anticipated to decline in most of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas this year in response to the severe economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Even before the pandemic hit, nearly all of the 47 tracked metros were expected to see slowdowns in improvement spending through 2020, with growth of one to five per cent expected in 37 metros and declines in only nine metros. Revising these projections based on the estimated effect of the pandemic on national remodeling spending, the COVID-adjusted projections show annual homeowner remodeling spending will likely contract in the majority of metros (24), while only 15 could still see gains (one to three per cent) relative to 2019 activity. With the country still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is substantial uncertainty about how long the economic downturn will last and how quickly a recovery will take hold.

Taiga To Adopt Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Taiga Building Products Ltd. intends to adopt the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, revenues of the company have been reduced by approximately 30 per cent in April and the decline is expected to continue until at least the end of May. The company expects to incur significant revenue losses for the second fiscal quarter as a result. It is reviewing all aspects of operations to ensure it continues to thrive and says it is well positioned once the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Lowe's Canada Banners To Stay Open Later

Starting May 4, all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores will close at 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., except in the province of Quebec where provincial law states that no store can be open after 5 p.m. on weekends and where stores must be closed on Sundays in May. The change is part of Lowe's Canada's strategy to adapt operations to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The company says this measure will help spread out the volume of in-store customer visits while keeping additional time for essential product replenishment and enhanced store cleaning and disinfecting activities.

DEWALT Debuts Cordless Roofing Nailer

DEWALT has added the 20V MAX 15° Coil Roofing Nailer to its 20V MAX System. Optimized for small jobsite applications, this nailer is ideal for service and repair jobs, small production work, flashing, and shingling around windows, skylights, and vents. The nailer drives 500 nails per charge, can fire up to three nails per second, and can install up to one square (100 square feet) of asphalt roofing shingles per charge at four nails per shingle using a 2.0Ah battery. It features bump actuation mode and tool-free depth adjustment for precise nailing and a tool-free stall release that returns the driver blade in the event of a jam.

Disinfectant Sales Soar For Clorox

The Clorox Company had net sales of $1,783 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 15 per cent over net sales of $1,551 million in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year. The company says it had extraordinary growth in its disinfecting products and across all four segments of its portfolio that are all uniquely positioned to serve consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cleaning segment sales increased by 32 per cent year-over-year; the household segment sales increased by two per cent; and the lifestyle segment sales increased by 10 per cent. Third-quarter gross margin increased 330 basis points year-over-year to 46.7 per cent. Earnings were $241 million, up 31 per cent compared to earnings of $187 million last year.

May 1, 2020

Manitoba Begins Reopening Of Province

The government of Manitoba will begin a careful, multi-phased effort to gradually restore services, open some businesses, and increase recreational opportunities, says Brian Pallister, premier of Manitoba. As of May 4, a variety of non-essential healthcare and retail businesses will have the option to reopen under strict guidelines. All businesses and venues will be required to continue following social distancing and stringent cleaning practices to protect both employees and customers. The province has launched a detailed outline, 'Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba’s Pandemic Economic Recovery Roadmap,' of the phased steps for economic recovery.

RCC Wants Moratoriums On Commercial Evictions

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is calling on premiers across the country to draw attention to the urgent need for an immediate moratorium on commercial evictions and distress actions such as changing locks and seizing inventory. The magnitude of retail business to Canada's prosperity cannot be understated, it says. There are roughly 145,000 retail locations across the country which employ 2.1 million people. RCC wants the moratorium to be retroactive to April 1 and extend to August 31 to match the end of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program application period for small businesses. It also wants to see a mechanism for small businesses who qualify for CECRA to notify their provincial government of landlords who decline to participate in CECRA. As well, it seeks provincial support for impending federal efforts to create a broader rent relief program for retailers of all sizes that have experienced a significant decline in sales. It says the current program does not include larger businesses that have seen revenue reductions of less than 70 per cent, are paying more than $50,000 a month in rent for any given location, or have annual gross revenues of more than $20 million.

Alexandria Moulding To Distribute Embassy Ceiling Products

Embassy Ceilings Inc. is partnering with Alexandria Moulding for the distribution of Embassy Ceilings products to the Canadian retail building supply network. The combination of Embassy’s products and Alexandria Moulding’s level of service will be of great benefit to all of our customers, says Alexis Boulanger, president and CEO of Embassy Ceilings. The company offers a contemporary style ceiling system. Alexandria Moulding serves the North American market from coast to coast. The company’s customer base includes retail chain stores, lumberyards, buying groups, wholesalers, industrial clients, and exporters.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Makes Changes

Gustavo Arnal will be executive vice-president, chief financial officer (CFO) and treasurer with Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., effective May 4. Previously, he was group CFO of Avon. Rafeh Masood will be executive vice-president, chief digital officer, effective May 11. He was most recently senior vice-president, chief digital officer at BJ's Wholesale Club. Gregg Melnick will be executive vice-president, chief stores officer, effective May 11. He is currently interim chief digital officer. John Hartmann will be chief operating officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, effective May 18. Previously, he was president and chief executive officer of True Value Company. Arlene Hong will be executive vice-president, chief legal officer and corporate secretary, effective May 18. Hong was formerly chief legal officer, senior vice-president and corporate secretary, FULLBEAUTY Brands.

Corning Sales Reflect Lower Volume

Corning Incorporated had sales of $2.4 billion for the first quarter of 2020, a decrease of 15 per cent over net sales of $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2019. The company had a net loss of $96 million compared to a net income of $499 million in the year-ago period. The environmental technologies segment had net sales of $320 million for the quarter, down 12 per cent from $362 million last year. Net income was down 36 per cent year-over-year, impacted by lower volume. The specialty materials segment had net sales of $352 million, up 14 per cent compared to net sales of $309 million last year. Net income for this segment was up four per cent due to strong demand for premium glasses and Gorilla Glass innovations.

April 30, 2020

Quebec To Reopen Economic Sectors

François Legault, the premier of Quebec, says the Quebec government plans to reopen various economic sectors in the month of May. This recovery will be gradual and will take place over several weeks, with the aim of relaunching Quebec’s economy in a prudent manner, without relaunching the pandemic. As of May 4, retail stores and stores with exterior entrances will reopen. By May 11, the construction sector (other than residential) and manufacturing companies will be allowed to resume business with restrictions on maximum workers per shift. From May 25, those restrictions will be lifted for manufacturing companies. Other sectors and businesses will be subject to a reopening plan which will be presented at a later date. The province has collaborated with public health authorities, the ministry of economy and innovation, the ministry of labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, and the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health, and Safety at Work (CNESST) to provide guides for businesses to follow.

Small Businesses Gain Confidence

Small business confidence took some steps in the right direction at the end of April, gaining almost nine index points since the beginning of the month to 46.4 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' (CFIB) Business Barometer. Full-time staffing intentions improved slightly since the beginning of the month but remained low, with nine per cent of business owners planning on hiring in the next three months and 48 per cent planning to cut back. In total, 11 per cent of owners say their business is in good shape, while 54 per cent say it is doing poorly. An index level nearer to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential. Sentiment in Quebec improved, but the province remained at the lowest confidence level, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, at 32.1 index points. New Brunswick saw a large drop in confidence to 39.2, followed by Prince Edward Island (43.1), Manitoba (45.0) and Nova Scotia (45.3). Ontario (52.6) and Saskatchewan (50.8) saw improvements in sentiment and posted the highest results this month. Alberta (46.7) and British Columbia (46.0) also saw increases and maintained confidence levels close to the national average. The natural resources sector has the lowest outlook by industry.

Consumers Turning To Contactless Payments

Consumers worldwide are turning to contactless payments for everyday purchases, seeking touch-free payment alternatives, says a report by Mastercard. Roughly 80 per cent of consumers in 19 countries use contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers. The act of shopping for necessities has changed dramatically and consumers have had to adjust, says the report. "This shift in consumer behaviour is particularly clear at checkout, as people express a desire for contactless and voice concerns over cleanliness and safety at the point of sale." The global disruption has also led to increased concern from consumers – and retailers – on cash usage which has spurred a more positive perception towards contactless transactions. Eighty-two per cent of consumers view contactless as the cleaner way to pay, and contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods. "We are in a sustained period in which consumers are making purchases in a very focused way; it’s reinforcing contactless use in markets where adoption is more mature, and it’s stimulating use in newer markets," says the report. "This trend appears to be here to stay as approximately three quarters (74 per cent) state they will continue to use contactless post-pandemic."

Masco Sales Up Four Cent

Masco Corporation had net sales of $1.58 billion in the first quarter of 2020, an increase of four per cent over net sales of $1.51 billion in the first quarter of 2019. In local currency, North American sales increased eight per cent and international sales decreased three per cent. Gross margins for the quarter increased 10 basis points to 34.6 per cent from 34.5 per cent. Operating profit increased 14 per cent year-over-year to $225 million and operating margins increased 120 basis points to 14.2 per cent from 13 per cent. The plumbing products segment had net sales of $955 million, up two per cent over net sales of $940 million in the year-ago period. The increase was due to strong sales of North American plumbing products. The decorative architectural products segment had net sales of 626 million, up nine per cent compared to net sales of 573 million last year. This increase was driven by strong sales of paint and other coatings products.

Building Products Drive Griffon Revenue

Griffon Corporation had consolidated revenue of $566.4 million for the second quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of three per cent over consolidated revenue of $549.6 million in the second quarter of the 2019 fiscal year. Income from continuing operations was $0.9 million compared to $6.5 million in the prior-year quarter. The company had adjusted EBITDA of $48 million, up 13 per cent over $42.5 million in the year-ago period. The consumer and professional products segment had revenue of $274.9 million for the second quarter, down four per cent compared to the prior-year period, partially impacted by COVID-19 in the UK. The home and building products segment had revenue of $209.8 million, an increase of 12 per cent over the previous year due to increased volume and favourable mix and price.

April 29, 2020

U.S. Homeowners Filling Time With DIY Projects

Many U.S. homeowners are filling their time at home during the COVID-19 quarantine with DIY home improvement projects, such as remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, repainting and reflooring rooms, creating outdoor living spaces, and planting gardens, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Monthly sales data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that unadjusted retail sales at building material distributors and other related sales outlets posted a 25 per cent increase from February to March of 2020 – despite the fact that many parts of the country were under shelter-in-place orders in the second half of March. Such sales were up 10 per cent over comparable levels in March 2019. Sales increased most for products that are best suited to DIY projects, particularly paint and wallpaper, flooring (most notably easier to install types such as luxury vinyl tile, laminate flooring, and decorative tile), garden supplies and tools, and outdoor furniture and grills.

QUIKRETE Develops Concrete For 3D Printing

The QUIKRETE Companies and the Contour Crafting Corporation (CCC) have partnered to develop proprietary concrete used in the automated construction of residential, commercial, industrial, and government structures using Contour Crafting technology. Unlike other mortar-based 3D printable products, the concrete mix produced by QUIKRETE is formulated to include coarse aggregate specifically for use with CCC’s proprietary 3D printing system. CCC has obtained U.S. regulatory acceptance for this construction technique, and the product under development by QUIKRETE will address key requirements for printability and constructability, including shape-holding thixotropic properties as well as rapid setting and dimensional stability features. A 2,000-square-foot house can potentially be built in few days, not weeks, for a fraction of the cost of traditional construction. This is accomplished by dispensing the QUIKRETE concrete in layers using CCC's 3D printing technology according to digital architectural models.

Epicor Releases eCommerce Portal Program

Epicor Software Corporation has released Epicor Commerce Connect Express (ECC Express), a portal to its existing Epicor Commerce Connect solution. The eCommerce product is designed for businesses that need an immediate way to improve productivity, offer quality online experiences, and stay connected to customers and suppliers. The portal is an eCommerce solution is scalable and can be implemented in a few days. It enables users to build a basic online presence, with the option to choose other upgrades and capabilities to further scale their business. The new program also allows for self-service features that allow users the ability to view orders, quotes, invoices, purchase history, account info, and shipments, as well as conduct quick product searches.

Simpson Strong-Tie Launches Structural Epoxy Repair Line

Simpson Strong-Tie has launched a line of structural epoxy repair products that provide a variety of solutions for concrete cracks. All products in the line are two-component, high-modulus, high-solids, moisture-tolerant epoxies specially designed for pressure injection. CI-LV Low-Viscosity Structural Injection Epoxy is for gravity feeding and flood coat filling of concrete cracks and for increasing the bond between freshly placed repair mortars or concrete mixes and existing concrete. CI-GV Structural Injection Epoxy Gel, CI-SLV Super-Low-Viscosity Structural Injection Epoxy, CI-LPL Long Pot Life Structural Injection Epoxy, and CI-LV FS Fast-Setting Low-Viscosity Structural Injection Epoxy are for filling concrete cracks for varying substrate temperatures. All products are available in a variety of sizes and can be dispensed via Simpson Strong-Tie dispensing tools and injection systems.

West Fraser Sales Up

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1.195 billion for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of six per cent over sales of $1.129 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. Adjusted EBITDA was $127 million, up $47 million over adjusted EBITDA of $80 million in the prior quarter. Increased EBITDA was partially driven by improved prices and lower fibre costs. The company had earnings of $12 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $42 million in the prior quarter. The lumber segment had operating earnings of $19 million for the quarter, compared to a loss of $23 million in the fourth quarter of 2019; the panels segment had operating earnings of $4 million compared to $8 million; and the pulp and paper segment had operating earnings of $nil compared to a loss of $12 million loss.

April 28, 2020

Ontario Unveils Guiding Principles To Reopen Province

The Ontario government has released a guide for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services, and public spaces in the province. 'A Framework for Reopening our Province' outlines the criteria from Ontario's chief medical officer of health and health experts. It also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy. The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health. The first stage will be to open businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. It will also open some outdoor spaces like parks and allow hospitals to begin offering some non-urgent and other healthcare services that were restricted. The second stage will open more workplaces which may include some retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed. The third stage would open all workplaces and further relax restrictions on public gatherings. Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

Small Businesses Vulnerable To Failure

‌Small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly at risk of failure from prolonged coronavirus lockdown measures and account for 75 per cent of all jobs in directly affected sectors, says the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its 'Statistics Insight' bulletin. In response, an increasing number of countries have introduced significant financial support packages to mitigate the impact on firms and people. Yet, even with these support programs, a prolonged slowdown will increase the risk of closures, especially in the vulnerable population of SMEs. The bulletin also says that the economic sectors most directly affected by lockdown measures represent 40 per cent of total employment on average across OECD countries. These sectors include construction, wholesales and retail trade, real estate, professional services, and personal services. Microenterprises with less than 10 employees, probably the most at risk of cash shortages, account for around 30 per cent of employment in these sectors.

Most Employers Providing COVID-19 Support

Canadian businesses are adapting quickly to a new normal, says a study by ADP Canada. Almost 90 per cent of working Canadians say their employer has either updated existing policies or introduced new policies as a result of the pandemic, with 75 per cent saying their employers provide regular, timely updates on COVID-19. However, while communication lines are open and companies have moved quickly to physically protect their workforce, the survey highlights an opportunity to further support the mental health of employees – particularly those on the front lines of the pandemic. Less than half of healthcare workers (46 per cent) and only a quarter (27 per cent) of those working in retail/food services/hospitality and warehouse/transportation say their employer is providing additional mental health support. Although mental health supports may be limited in the retail/food service/hospitality sectors, employees working in these industries are the most likely to report receiving additional financial support from their employer with nearly half (44 per cent) stating that their organization is helping them financially. This, however, is not the norm, with less than one-quarter (24 per cent) of respondents overall stating that their employers are providing additional financial support.

Architectural Specialties Helps Armstrong Sales

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $248.7 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 2.7 per cent over net sales of $242.1 million in the first quarter of 2019. Net sales were driven by higher volumes in the architectural specialties segment as well as higher mineral fibre volume. Operating income for the quarter was $76 million, up 38.9 per cent over operating income of $54.7 million in the year-ago period. Loss from continuing operations was $222.6 million compared to earnings of $36.4 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $97 million compared to $92 million, an increase of 5.2 per cent.

April 27, 2020

February Offers Last Gasp Before Retail Collapse

The latest data from Statistics Canada show an uptick in retail sales trends pretty much across the board, but these numbers are for February, more or less the last month of the pre-COVID-19 era, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. It was in March that social distancing, self-isolation, store shutdowns, and shopping mall closures began in earnest. The recent numbers are the calm before the storm, and probably just a rebound from weak performance in 2019. While the trends are about to go south in a hurry, the one sector that stands to gain from the current situation, however, is eCommerce, he says. Many consumers are avoiding stores and switching to online shopping, so much so that it's putting a strain on delivery services. Overall, eCommerce represented about 3.6 per cent of Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending February 2020. eCommerce sales were up 25.6 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending February. This was much higher than for location-based retail which gained 3.9 per cent. Year-over-year growth of eCommerce sales is expected to increase significantly in the next few months.

Home Hardware Hosts Virtual Spring Market

Home Hardware Stores Limited will host a 'Virtual Market Tradeshow' for suppliers and dealer-owners on April 28. The move to a virtual show comes after the retailer had to cancel its spring dealer market due to social restrictions put in place due to the spread of COVID-19. As part of the event, the company hosted its first ever 'Virtual Market Presentations' on April 5, which included presentations from Kevin Macnab, president and CEO of Home Hardware; Sean MacCormack, chief financial officer; Joel Marks, vice-president of merchandise hardlines; and Marianne Thompson, vice-president of merchandise LBM.

Canadians Less Optimistic Than Americans

Canadians are less optimistic about their country’s economic recovery than Americans are about theirs, despite a lower number of COVID-19 cases per capita, says a report by McKinsey & Company. The report says Canadian consumers are uncertain about the timeline of their economic recovery and the duration of the COVID-19 situation. Despite economic support policies, most Canadians expect to see reduced income and will continue to spend less over the next two weeks. They expect to return to daily routines much later than Americans do, indicating a higher level of uncertainty. However, the lockdown situation has encouraged many Canadians to try new services such as curbside pickup, video conferencing, remote learning, and grocery delivery. Yet, they have not experienced a major spending shift to online channels; in fact, they expect to decrease their online spending in several key categories, a symptom perhaps of low online adoption and fewer online options.

Governments Launch Rental Assistance Program

In response to the challenges small businesses are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada along with provincial and territorial partners will implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. It will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants' rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations. The program is part of the Canadian government's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

Canadian AEP Locations Remain Open For Business

All Canadian locations of Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) are, and will remain, open for business, says Dirk Maritz, CEO and president in a letter to shareholders that covers the company's strategy in response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). "The AEP footprint, by design, significantly improves and enhances our medium- to long-term consolidated business continuity. It also distributes and minimizes the risk of major business interruption and/or shutdown between all locations. We have two businesses in British Columbia, one in Manitoba, and three in Ontario," he says. AEP continues to be deemed an essential business in all jurisdictions in Canada and the company advocates and upholds a safe working environment with clear policies and procedures. "As a part of our business continuity and/or interruption plans, we continue to action opportunities for growth. We believe that we are well positioned to weather this storm. AEP is continually monitoring the ever-changing operating environment and modifying accordingly."

Sealer Provides Anti-slip Surface

Daich Coatings has launched TracSafe Anti-Slip Sealer which provides an anti-slip surface for both residential and commercial settings. The product, which is made in Canada, performs double-duty as both a clear coat that strengthens and protects surfaces and an anti-slip coating. Its odourless water-based technology bonds to all types of flooring materials from concrete, masonry, stone, and pavers to tile, vinyl, linoleum, and pre-painted surfaces – indoors and out. TracSafe can be rolled down in two coats using a 3/8” paint roller. Light foot traffic can be resumed in four to six hours, with normal foot traffic allowed after a 24-hour cure period.

April 24, 2020

Lowe's Canada Launches Online Colour Selector

Lowe’s Canada has launched a tool for customers to purchase Sico tinted paint online as part of its campaign encouraging Canadians to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Colour Selector by Sico was developed in partnership with Sico and lets RONA and Reno-Depot customers view roughly 1,800 colours available in the Sico catalogue and purchase tinted paint online. It offers colour palettes, a quantity calculator, and information about the specifications of the various product lines and finishes available. Software integrated into the tool allows users to look of the many colours available in different model rooms. The launch follows the 'Stay safe. Stay home.' campaign that was launched by Lowe’s Canada earlier in April that aims to encourage consumers to stay home during the health crisis and to turn to eCommerce for their non-urgent needs. The tool is available on the RONA and Reno-Depot websites.

Castle Supports Members In Need

Jamie Blair, one of the victims of the crime spree in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19, was the daughter of Kurt and Tina Gratto of Masstown Hardware Castle Building Supplies in Debert, NS. Sadly, the couple lost their daughter Jamie, and their son-in-law, Greg Blair. Jamie and Greg leave behind two sons, Jack, 10, and Alexander, 12. In a message to members, Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd., offered his and the group's condolences to all the victims, families, and communities involved. He says Castle has received numerous requests from members and suppliers seeking to support the family. Therefore, the group is establishing a trust fund in support of Jack and Alexander. Details related to the trust fund will be released to members next week.

McCutcheon Joins Husqvarna

Robert M. McCutcheon will be president of North America for the Husqvarna division of Husqvarna Group, effective June 1. Previously, he was president and managing director of the Americas for Britax Child Safety Inc.

Canfor Loss Widens

Canfor Corporation had an operating loss of $89 million for the first quarter of 2020; this compares to an operating loss of $59.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. The loss includes a $63 million inventory write-down in the lumber segment. Sales for the quarter were $1.17 billion compared to sales of $1.11 billion in the year-ago period. The Company's SYP (southern yellow pine) lumber unit sales realizations were broadly in line with the prior quarter, as was lumber unit manufacturing and product costs. Pulp production was up four per cent year-over-year. In response to the significant global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, in late March and early April, Canfor initiated extensive capacity reductions across all three of the its sawmill operating regions as well as a three-week curtailment at its Northwood pulp mill. The company has also reduced planned capital expenditures for 2020.

April 23, 2020

GTA Home Sales Down 69 Per Cent

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area had 1,654 home sales during the first 17 days of April – down by 69 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, says the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). Year-over-year sales declines, in percentage terms, were greatest for the detached and condominium apartment market segments. The number of new listings was down on a year-over-year basis by a similar annual rate, declining by 63.7 per cent to 3,843. The fact that new listings trended in a similar fashion to sales during the first half of April means that market conditions remained tight enough to provide support for the average selling price in line with 2019 levels. "The state of emergency measures currently in place, including the necessary enforcement of social distancing, has impacted the real estate market in many ways," says Michael Collins, president of TRREB. "Home buyers and sellers have concerns about the economy and indeed their own employment situations. On top of this, many buyers and sellers are avoiding any type of in-person interaction." Collins says that once recovery begins, however, "it will likely accelerate in earnest as buyers seek to satisfy pent-up demand that will build up over the course of the spring and at least part of the summer."

Building Construction Investment Up For Fourth Month

Total investment in building construction increased 1.3 per cent to $15.9 billion in February, the fourth consecutive month-over-month growth, says Statistics Canada. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction increased 1.1 per cent to $13 billion. Investment in residential construction rose 1.4 per cent to $10.7 billion for the month and investment in single-unit construction increased 1.9 per cent to $5.2 billion. This rate of growth surpassed that observed in the multi-unit component (+0.9 per cent to $5.6 billion), partially due to major projects in the Vancouver, BC, area. Multi-unit gains in British Columbia outweighed declines in seven other provinces. Non-residential investment was up 1.2 per cent to $5.1 billion for the month. Ontario (+$39.4 million) and Quebec (+$29.1 million) reported the largest gains, while Alberta continued to decline, down 0.7 per cent to $678.9 million. Overall, the commercial component represented the majority of growth in the non-residential sector, up 1.5 per cent to $3 billion nationally. Investment in construction for the industrial (+1.0 per cent to $937.9 million) and institutional (+0.6 per cent to $1.2 billion) components also increased month over month.

Wilson Retires After 50 Years In Industry

Dunc Wilson will retire after 50 years in the home improvement retailing industry. He is a respected member of the Canadian home improvement industry and has worked in marketing, merchandising, and dealer development. His most recent role was at Home Hardware Stores Limited as senior director of business development, where he was pivotal in expanding new growth and sales for the Home Hardware dealer network. He held this position for 12 years. His last day will be April 24.

Simpson Strong-Tie Sponsors Virtual Building Safety Month

Simpson Strong-Tie is again joining other industry associations and organizations in supporting the International Code Council (ICC) 40th annual Building Safety Month in May. This year, Building Safety Month will take place virtually, with resources including formal proclamations, webinars, and merchandise on BuildingSafetyMonth.com. As a week three theme co-sponsor, Simpson Strong-Tie is encouraging the industry and the general public to learn more about the roles that resiliency, sustainability, and innovation play in making buildings safer and stronger. Building Safety Month is a public awareness campaign held every May to help individuals, families, and businesses understand what it takes to create safe, sustainable homes and buildings. The focus in 2020 is 'Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World.' The five-week campaign spotlights a specific area of building safety through weekly topics that include Disaster Preparedness, Water Safety, Resiliency, Sustainability, Innovation, and Training the Next Generation.

Lower Lumber Prices Impact UFP Sales

UFP Industries, Inc. had net sales of $1.03 billion for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of two per cent over net sales of $1.02 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Lower lumber prices reduced gross sales by three per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were $40.57 million, up 12 per cent from net earnings of $36 million in the year-ago period. EBIT was $53.89 million compared to $47.58 million. The UFP retail segment sales were up six per cent year-over-year with retail unit sales up nine per cent driven by home and decor; the industrial segment sales were down seven per cent year-over-year; and the construction segment sales were up four per cent. The vast majority of UFP Industries' employees are deemed essential critical infrastructure workers and continue to serve customers. In other cases, the company serves customers who have temporarily shut down, and the company has reduced operations and temporarily furloughed employees as necessary.

April 22, 2020

February Retail Sales Edge Up

Retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 0.3 per cent to $52.2 billion in February, says Statistics Canada. This marked the first time retail sales grew for four months in a row since the period ending in October 2018. Sales were up in six of 11 subsectors, representing 62.5 per cent of retail trade. Sales increase in five provinces led by Ontario, where sales increased 0.7 per cent in February. For the first time in two months, retail sales in Alberta (-0.4 per cent) declined. Retail sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 6.7 per cent year-over-year to $3.28 billion. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.6 billion in February, accounting for 3.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 17.8 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose seven per cent. Approximately 25 per cent of Canadian retailers say that their business activities in February had been affected by the rail blockades and/or COVID-19.

Recession Will Be Deep, But Not Too Long

The 2020 COVID-19-driven recession will be deep, thought the duration may be shorter than past recessions, says the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) in its 'Economic Market Intelligence' report. BCREA says it expects that the home sales market in British Columbia will post an initial sharp decline as households and the real estate sector adhere to social distancing. However, as measures implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are gradually lifted, it expects that low interest rates and pent-up demand will translate to a significant recovery in home sales and prices. The association's forecast is for the Canadian economy to contract approximately four per cent in the first quarter of 2020, followed by a startling 21 per cent decline in the second quarter. "The COVID-19 recession is unprecedented in that it is not man-made. It did not evolve due to collective poor business decisions, bad loans, or misadventures in financial engineering. Rather, the economy has been purposely halted for the greater good. The implication being that, the shorter the duration of this unusual period, the more likely it is that demand can snap back to near where it was pre-COVID-19. However, the longer the duration, the more likely that jobs do not return, businesses fail, and the recovery is much slower," says the report.

Consumers Cutting Back On Big Ticket Items

The outlook for Canadian consumers' planned purchasing of big ticket items over the next six months is not good, finds a survey by Field Agent Canada. The company surveyed 1,100 Canadians about their planned purchases of big ticket items such as homes, vehicles, electronics, appliances, and furniture over the next six months and found that Canadians were cutting back in all categories. The number of Canadians that plan to purchase a home in the next six months is down 42 per cent compared to March 1. For vehicles, the number of planned purchases is down 49 per cent compared to March 1. Both large and small appliances are down 38 per cent; smart home products and speakers are down 57 per cent; lawn mowers and tractors are down 38 per cent; barbecues are down 41 per cent; and outdoor furniture is down 37 per cent. "It's clear that specialty retailers, car dealerships, and real estate businesses will see significant challenges in the months ahead and, even if the economy starts to reopen, they will need to provide significant incentives to get Canadians to open their wallets for big ticket items that are often discretionary purchases," says Jeff Doucette, general manager, Field Agent Canada.

Government Launches Wage Subsidy Calculator

The government of Canada has launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) calculator to support employers as they prepare to apply for the CEWS. The subsidy provides a 75 per cent wage subsidy of up to $847 per employee per week to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, to prevent further job losses and encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19. It is retroactive to March 15. The calculator includes a printable statement feature that employers can use to view their claim at a glance and, as of April 27, enter required information into the CEWS application form quickly and easily. By providing employers with additional details about their subsidy claim, the CEWS calculator can equip employers with important information they can use now to make more informed decisions about retaining and re-hiring workers. A series of information sessions will be held in the coming days to provide a forum for eligible employers. The CEWS calculator can be found on CRA's Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy webpage

Free eCommerce Resource Launched

Social Lite, an Edmonton, AB-based Shopify partner agency, has launched a free resource for retailers that want to launch an online store. Merchant Mastery is a Facebook group where retailers can ask questions and receive guidance from eCommerce experts around the globe. The group's members include brick-and-mortar retailers, online retailers, Shopify experts, third-party app providers, and eCommerce sales and marketing professionals. "Retailers have an urgent situation right now, and we are seeing a lot of optimistic trends in eCommerce, so we need to help people get online as fast as possible and start selling," says Scott Cunningham, founder and chief executive officer of Social Lite. "That is why we launched Merchant Mastery. We want to build a sense of community and help each other excel." Social Lite has developed a program that enables brick-and-mortar stores to get set up on Shopify, with a fully functioning store, in eight hours.

April 21, 2020

Wholesale Sales Have Third Consecutive Monthly Gain

Wholesale sales rose 0.7 per cent to $67.5 billion in February, a third consecutive monthly gain, says Statistics Canada. Three of seven subsectors recorded higher sales, accounting for 51 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector led the increase. Excluding this subsector, Canadian wholesale sales were down 0.1 per cent. Sales were impacted by COVID-19 and railway blockades, with respondents citing the damage from these disruptions at $761 million for the month. In the absence of these disruptions, seasonally adjusted wholesale sales would have been estimated to increase by 1.5 per cent in February. Sales were up in five provinces, led by Alberta (+2.3 per cent) and Ontario (+1.2 per cent). Wholesale inventories declined 0.3 per cent in February to $92 billion. Four out of seven subsectors recorded declines, with inventories in the building material and supplies subsector falling most. Inventories in the building material and supplies subsector dropped 2.5 per cent to $14.5 billion. The decline in February was the subsector's largest monthly drop since February 2001. Inventories declined in all industries within this subsector, with the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry decreasing the most (-3.6 per cent to $6.4 billion).

U.S. Renovations Expected To Decline

Owner expenditures for home renovations and repairs in the U.S. are expected to decline at least through the first quarter of next year due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Pre-pandemic, the LIRA pointed to a healthy rebound in home remodeling spending with annual growth of 3.9 per cent by the first quarter of 2021, but the latest data incorporating both actual and forecasted impacts of the economic shutdown point to spending declines this year with further worsening into 2021. Quarterly spending for improvements and repairs is projected to turn negative by the third quarter, and annual expenditures are expected to fall to $322 billion by early next year with potential for even more severe declines to follow. Beyond the start of next year, remodeling activity that would typically result from expanding homebuilding, sales of existing homes, and home prices mean the greatest downturn could come later in 2021 with recovery depending on what occurs in housing markets over the remainder of this year.

Vancity Launches Loans For Small Business

British Columbia-based Vancity has launched the Unity Pivot Business Loan for small businesses that have changed track to support the COVID-19 response specifically, or have had to adapt to the changed environment. Loans of up to $150,000 are available to support businesses pivoting direction to support the fight against the pandemic. These will be interest free for the first six months with no payment required during the first six months either. While some companies have retooled to make products for the frontlines of the pandemic, others have had to adjust their business to new circumstances – moving their business online, for example. The loan is available to all businesses that have been in existence for two years or more, that were profitable before COVID-19, and that need financing to support a shift in direction in response to the pandemic. Vancity also launched the Unity Bridge Loan for self-employed people impacted by COVID-19. This term loan will be offered to those who’ve been self-employed for more than three years and who have an existing business with payroll under $20,000.

Schemm Named Trex CFO

Dennis Schemm is vice-president and chief financial officer at Trex Company, Inc. He has more than 25 years of experience as a financial and operating executive at publicly-traded companies, most recently as senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Continental Building Products.

BB&B Sales Down

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had net sales of $3.11 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, a decrease of 6.1 per cent over net sales of $3.31 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Gross profit for the quarter was $1.01 billion versus $1.15 billion in the year-ago period. The company had a net loss of $65.3 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $253.8 million and an adjusted net loss of $46.9 million compared to an adjusted net loss of $158.8 million last year. EBIT was a loss of $96.6 million versus $312.2 million.

April 20, 2020

Fourth Quarter Retail Sales Up 1.5 Per Cent

Retail Sales in Canada reached $160.3 billion in the fourth quarter, up 1.5 per cent from the same quarter of 2018, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in nine of the 19 commodity groupings. While the impacts of COVID-19 on the retail trade sector will be more noticeable in subsequent months, respondent comments for February indicate that business activities have been impacted. The largest increase for the fourth quarter in dollar terms came from food, which posted a year-over-year growth of four per cent. Receipts of home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics fell 0.6 per cent. Lower revenue from home electronics (-6.9 per cent) accounted for the majority of the decrease. Higher sales in housewares (+2.8 per cent) and home furnishings (+3.1 per cent) served to dampen the declines. Sales in hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden products were $10,171 billion for the quarter, up 4.8 per cent over the year-ago period.

Government Of Canada Adds Measures For Small Businesses

The government of Canada has announced additional actions to protect Canadian jobs and provide more support to businesses and organizations dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19. It will provide over $1.7 billion for targeted measures including $675 million to give financing support to small- and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government's existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada's Regional Development Agencies. In addition, it will allocate $250 million to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access existing COVID-19 business support, through the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program. $20.1 million will go to Futurpreneur Canada to continue to support young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. On March 13, the government announced $65 billion in additional support to businesses through the Business Credit Availability Program. Under the program, Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada are providing direct lending and other types of financial support at market rates to viable businesses and organizations whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted.

Bank Of Canada Asks Retailers To Accept Cash

The Bank of Canada is encouraging retailers to accept cash during the coronavirus pandemic. It recognizes that during this time of heightened public health measures intended to limit the transmission of COVID-19, some consumers and businesses are choosing not to use cash to limit potential exposure to staff and consumers. However, "there are many individuals who, for a variety of reasons, do not have access to credit or debit cards and must pay with coins and bills," says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and scientist with the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. "We know that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can stick to surfaces for a few hours to a few days, and this may include hard currency. Still, we can find ways to ensure that all Canadians have access to essential goods and services, even if they are using cash. Risk can be mitigated in retail settings using a variety of methods, including ensuring access to hand hygiene for all employees." Canadians handling cash should follow the public health guidelines on COVID-19 and wash their hands often, as they would do for other activities. If individuals want to take additional safety precautions, they can clean polymer bank notes with a bit of soap and water because they are resistant to moisture. However, this is not the case for older paper notes.

Exotic Woods Stocks Sansin Finishes

Burlington, ON-based Exotic Woods, Inc. is now part of the Sansin Corporation's dealer network. The specialty wood supplier will offer Sansin's full line of exterior and interior environmentally-friendly wood finishes. As well, on-site tinting will give customers a range of colour options. Exotic Woods carries an extensive array of hardwood, softwood, live edge wood, wood flooring, and wood siding at its 50,000-square -foot store and warehouse. The company’s inventory includes exotic species such as Cocobolo, Katalox, Leopardwood, Pau Ferro, Ziricote, and Ebony.

Mounting Bracket Offers More Installation Options

D&D Technologies has expanded its mounting bracket line by introducing three sizes of its half bolt-on line – a 4” half bolt-on with aluminum, 4” half bolt-on with steel/aluminum combo, and 6” half bolt-on with aluminum. These brackets, suitable for 4” and 6” fence posts, are designed to reduce post flexing. The wider brackets on the Shut It mounts enable anchor points to be positioned at the sides, rather than the centre, of the fence post. This delivers increased stability and decreased flexing, which in turn reduces wear and tear on the post. The brackets are available in aluminum and steel and can handle gate loads up to 1,000 pounds.

Energizer Has Strong First Quarter Sales

Energizer Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $736.8 million in the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 28.8 per cent over net sales of $557.9 million in the first quarter of 2019. The impact of acquisitions increased sales by 32.6 per cent. Gross margin percentage for the quarter was 40.9 per cent versus 48.2 per cent in the prior-year period and gross profit was $301.3 million compared to $275.5 million. EBIT was $58.7 million compared to $90 million last year and net earnings were $45.8 million compared to $70.8 million.

April 17, 2020

Rail Blockades, COVID-19 Impact Manufacturing Sales

Manufacturing sales in February were affected by rail blockades in different parts of the country as well as by COVID-19, particularly on global supply chains, says Statistics Canada. Overall, manufacturing sales increased 0.5 per cent to $56.2 billion in February, following five consecutive monthly decreases. The growth was mainly due to higher sales in the transportation equipment industry. Sales increased in 11 of 21 industries, representing 58.4 per cent of total Canadian manufacturing. Constant dollar sales were up 0.8 per cent, indicating that a higher volume of products was sold in February. Sales were up in four provinces, though the increase was concentrated in Ontario, which had an increase of three per cent to $26.1 billion. Manufacturing sales in British Columbia increased 3.7 per cent to $4.3 billion. In Quebec, sales declined by 3.2 per cent to $13.8 billion. At the national level, the impact of the rail blockades and COVID-19 disruptions in February lowered total manufacturing sales (seasonally adjusted) by an estimated $465 million (-0.8 per cent). Without these disruptions, total manufacturing sales would have risen by an estimated 1.3 per cent in February compared with the figure in January.

Walmart Offers PayPal As Online Grocery Sales Skyrocket

Walmart.ca now offers PayPal as a payment option. A survey by the payment provider shows that in early April, 30 per cent of Canadians were shopping online for groceries, marking a 58 per cent jump from four weeks prior, before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic. Walmart Canada is the first grocery retailer to offer PayPal as an online payment option. Choosing PayPal during checkout means shoppers have the option of paying for their purchase with their bank account, Visa debit card, or credit card linked to their PayPal account while earning their card-associated reward points. Opening an account is free and customers are not charged a fee when making purchases.

iperceptions Launches Free Customer Feedback Program

iperceptions, a provider of customer experience management (CEM) solutions, has launched iperceptions adapt, a free, six-month customer feedback program that provides businesses access to curated solutions to help them listen to their customers and website visitors and navigate the business impacts from COVID-19. The program aims to help businesses understand the disruption caused by the crisis on their customers, determine how they can adjust to support their customers, and prepare for new customer habits that develop during the crisis. It offers a customer experience management tool, access to real-time reporting, and guidance from iperceptions research design and implementation experts. Enrollment for the program is available until June 1.

DEWALT Releases Bluetooth Radio And Compact Light

DEWALT has released its 12V/20V MAX Jobsite Bluetooth Radio and the 12V/20V MAX Compact Task Light, solutions for entertainment and lighting on the jobsite. Both products are compatible with all DEWALT 12V MAX, 20V MAX, and FLEXVOLT batteries (sold separately). At 8.25-pounds (without a battery), the radio is 45 per cent lighter (without battery) and uses 45 per cent less benchtop footprint than the DEWALT Bluetooth Charger Radio. It offers AM/FM with six FM presets, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input for mobile device connection. The light, although compatible with the aforementioned batteries, is optimized for DEWALT 20V MAX compact batteries which allows for full functionality of the light's 360-degree rotating handle. At 2.8-pounds (without a battery) the light can be used handheld, self-standing, wire hung, and mounted on a tripod (sold separately). It offers 2,000 lumens on high, 1,000 lumens on medium, and 500 lumens on low.

Renoworks Fourth Quarter Revenue Up Eight Per Cent

Renoworks Software Inc. had revenue of $1,004,748 for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of eight per cent compared to revenue of $938,133 in the fourth quarter of 2018. Annual recurring customer contracts comprise 40 per cent of revenues for the quarter. Design services revenue was up 33 per cent year-over-year and overall gross margins were 70 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $167,818 compared to a loss of $211,629 a year ago.



April 16, 2020

March Home Sales, Listings Down

Canadian home sales dropped by 14.3 per cent in March compared to February, as the economic turmoil and physical distancing rules surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic caused both buyers and sellers to increasingly retreat to the sidelines over the second half of the month, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Transactions were down on a month-over-month basis in the vast majority of local markets in March. Among Canada's largest markets, sales declined in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (20.8 per cent), Montreal, QC (-13.3 per cent), Greater Vancouver, BC (-2.9 per cent), the Fraser Valley, BC (-13.6 per cent), Calgary, AB (-26.3 per cent), Edmonton, AB (-13.2 per cent), Winnipeg, MB (-7.3 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington, ON (-24.9 per cent), and Ottawa, ON (-7.9 per cent). Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was still running 7.8 per cent above a quiet March in 2019, although that was a considerable slowdown compared to the year-over-year gain of close to 30 per cent in February. The number of newly listed homes declined by 12.5 per cent in March compared to February. As with sales activity, declines were recorded pretty much across the country.

March U.S. Retail Sales Plummet

U.S. retail sales saw their biggest monthly drop on record during March as the coronavirus pandemic forced restaurants, bars, and many stores to temporarily close across the nation and stay-at-home orders also impacted gasoline sales, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). However, sales soared at grocery stores and were up at other retailers deemed 'essential' as well, offsetting some of the decline. NRF's calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants in order to focus on core retail – showed March was up 1.7 per cent seasonally adjusted from February and up 4.5 per cent unadjusted year-over-year. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.3 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 10.1 per cent unadjusted year-over-year. Online and other non-store sales were up 3.1 per cent month-over-month and up 12. 1 per cent year-over-year. “Don’t be surprised if the data going forward shows a worsening situation," says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. "Even if the economy begins to reopen in May, consumer behaviour may take a long time to adjust. The road to recovery could be long and slow."

Ashley Norton Adds To Solid Bronze Collection

Ashley Norton has expanded its Solid Bronze architectural hardware collection with an assortment of art-grade bronze pieces designed for high-end residential or hospitality projects. The assortment consists of sculptural pieces such as various door levers, knobs, cabinet pulls, appliance pulls, cabinet knobs, and bath hardware. Known for its naturally flowing patina and texture, bronze is a durable choice for interior and exterior cabinets and doors that stands the test of time. Each of Ashley Norton’s Solid Bronze pieces is available in five finishes including dark bronze, light bronze, matt black, white bronze, and white medium.

Lonegro Named Beacon Chief Financial Officer

Frank A. Lonegro is executive vice-president and chief financial officer at Beacon, effective May 15. Previously, he served 19 years at CSX Corporation, most recently as executive vice-president and chief financial officer.

Fastenal Has First Quarter Sales Increase

Fastenal had net sales of $1,367 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 4.4 per cent over net sales of $1,309 million for the first quarter of 2019. Gross profit for the quarter was $636.8 million, up 1.9 per cent over gross profit of $624.7 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit margin was down 110 basis points to 46.6 per cent year-over-year mostly due to product/customer mix and deleveraging of fixed costs. Net earnings were $779.4 million compared to $771.7 million last year.

April 15, 2020

Quebec Lists Garden Centres As Essential Service

The Quebec government has added garden centres, nurseries, swimming pool businesses, and landscaping and landscape maintenance companies to the list of essential services. These companies and their supply chains will be able to resume activities April 15. "We want citizens who were asked to stay at home to be able to work on and maintain their homes if they wish," says Pierre Fitzgibbon, minister of economy and innovation for Quebec. However, "the Public Health Department has provided specific health instructions which must be followed to the letter to ensure the safety and health of workers and customers."

Employment Rate Plummets During Pandemic

Employment fell by more than one million in March (-1,011,000 or -5.3 per cent) and the employment rate fell 3.3 percentage points to 58.5 per cent, the lowest rate since April 1997, says Statistics Canada. The research firm says that measuring the labour market was not business as usual for the week of March 15 to 21 because, by then, a sequence of unprecedented government interventions related to COVID-19 – including the closure of non-essential businesses, travel restrictions, and public health measures directing Canadians to limit public interactions – had been put in place. These interventions resulted in a dramatic slowdown in economic activity and a sudden shock to the Canadian labour market. The slowdown will continue and is likely to be more fully reflected in April data. Of those who were employed in March, the number who did not work any hours during the reference week increased by 1.3 million, while the number who worked less than half of their usual hours increased by 800,000. This brings the total number of Canadians who were affected by either job loss or reduced hours to 3.1 million. Statistics Canada says the sudden employment decline will have a significant effect on the performance of the Canadian economy over the coming months as the decline was larger than in any of the three significant recessions experienced since 1980. The number of people employed in wholesale and retail trade declined by 208,000 or 7.2 per cent in March.

Lowe's Canada Commits $1 Million To Help Associates, Communities

Lowe's Canada, as part of its continued strategy to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, will provide a philanthropic investment of $1 million to support Canadian associates and communities. The retailer will allot $241,000 to Lowe's, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Dick's Lumber corporate stores across the country so they can support, either in cash or in kind, initiatives to meet the specific needs of the communities within their region while a total of $228,000 will allow RONA affiliated dealers to support store associates and local community needs. An amount of $1,000 will be given to each Lowe's Canada corporate store to support associates by creating a food pantry, for an aggregate amount of $241,000. The retailer will also make a donation to Children's Miracle Network and Opération Enfant Soleil of approximately $1,200 per corporate store to compensate for the cancellation of the annual in-store fundraising campaign due to the current COVID-19 context. The total amount of $290,000 is in addition to the $120,000 worth of building materials donated to build the Maison Enfant Soleil by Bonneville Homes and sums from online fundraising campaign from corporate stores in Quebec. This philanthropic investment is in addition to other initiatives rolled out to support local communities, including the donation of 36,000 boxes to Ontario food banks through Feed Ontario and the donation of plastic rolls to healthcare workers to protect them during intubation.

Most Workers Feel Safe At Work

Most Canadian workers feel safe at work and believe their workplace is taking precautions to protect them from COVID-19; however, sentiments differ between front-line workers and those working remotely, says a report from ADP Canada. Nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) workers feel safe in their workplace, but that breaks down to 75 per cent of front-line workers and 97 per cent of people working remotely. The survey says most employers are taking measures to protect their employees and 80 per cent of workers believe their workplace has taken all the necessary precautions to protect them from COVID-19, but over 40 per cent of front-line workers feel pressured to go into work during the pandemic. It's important to recognize that one quarter of front-line workers feel unsafe, says Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing, ADP Canada. "Employers should provide frequent updates regarding the steps an organization is taking to protect employee health and safety. In addition, regularly reminding employees about the facts from reputable public health agencies can limit the spread of misinformation and fear about the disease."

Plumbing Fixtures Market Will Bounce Back After COVID-19 Slowdown

While the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is expected to reduce demand for plumbing fixtures and fittings in 2020 and 2021, the U.S. market is expected to return to pre-virus levels of growth by 2024, says a report by the Freedonia Group. The market will be supported by residential design trends favouring multiple bathrooms and larger kitchens in both new construction and homeowner renovations. Homeowners are also adding multiple sinks per bathroom which increases the number of fixtures per bathroom. The increasing use of high-value products – such as fixtures with unique spray patterns, touch or hands-free activation, and water efficiency features – will also bolster gains. Furthermore, the aging U.S. population will provide growth opportunities as more consumers install products that are easier to use in their homes such as toilets with elevated seats, walk-in bathtubs, step-free shower surrounds, and touchless faucets and shower heads

April 14, 2020

Canada Has Largest Ever Monthly Employment Decline

In the first wave of COVID-19 job losses, Canada’s labour market shed one million jobs. This is by far the largest decline ever, far exceeding the 124,400 jobs lost in January 2009, says Cory Renner, senior economist at the Conference Board of Canada. To put the decline in perspective, during the 2008/2009 financial crisis, Canada’s economy shed 426,500 jobs during the peak from November 2008 to June 2009. In just one month, more than twice as many jobs have been lost. Even more troubling than the one million job losses last month is the expectation of what’s to come, says Renner. Given the survey’s reference week was March 15 to March 21, many job losses will, in fact, show up in April. The Board expects April’s job losses to be significantly higher than those of March. The decline pushed the unemployment rate up to 7.8 per cent, the highest rate of unemployment since 2010. And, the unemployment rate would have been much higher if it weren’t for a record 597,000 people leaving the work force. The wholesale and retail trade segment lost 207,500 jobs in March. The Board expects job losses in this sector to rise significantly next month.

Most Employers Not Rewarding Front-line Staff

While most Canadian companies have implemented increased measures to ensure the physical safety of front-line or essential staff, few have provided additional premiums to reward for services so far, says a survey by the Conference Board of Canada. The survey, titled ‘Working Through COVID-19 – Pay Premiums Survey,’ says that 86 per cent of respondents had employees that had to attend work in person as of March 30. Of those that have front-line staff – defined as having to deal directly with the public – 71 per cent were not providing pay premiums to non-unionized front-line staff; eight per cent were considering it, however. Of the 21 per cent that do offer a premium, 90 per cent are offering a fixed amount to employees’ pay. On average, employers are providing an additional $4.43 per hour worked. Employers are taking employee safety seriously, though, with all reporting measures to ensure physical safety. One hundred per cent of employers are ensuring work surfaces are clean; 95 per cent are providing sanitary gels or hand-washing facilities; 94 per cent are forcing social distancing; and 58 per cent are providing personal protective equipment. Thirty-seven per cent assess employees’ health upon arrival and 33 per cent have installed physical barriers.

Businesses At Risk For Coronavirus-related Scams

While consumers have been warned about coronavirus-related scams, businesses are at risk too. The Federal Trade Commission has put out a warning about several current scams targeting U.S. businesses, and Canadian businesses should heed the warning as well. Business owners should remind staff not to respond to unsolicited messages and never download anything or click on links in unsolicited email. This is especially important now that many employees are working from home. The current crisis creates an environment high in emotions and unprecedented business transactions, making people more vulnerable to the scams.The scammers’ aim is to steal confidential data, steal money, or install malware on the business network. Popular scams include government emails about receiving money through the emergency fund. One scam informs the recipient that money from the fund has been deposited into their bank account and directs them to log in to the bank account. The CEO scam is where employees get a message from a company higher-up directing them to transfer money or send gift card codes. Some scammers pretend to be I.T. specialists hired by businesses to access home computers to increase security. Supply scams have websites that mimic suppliers’ websites. FTC says don’t click on the link, the safer strategy is to type in URLs that are known to be genuine. Other scams include callers trying to sell supplies such as bogus test kits and sanitation supplies.

Americans Painting While Quarantined

As U.S. residents continue to shelter in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have started a home improvement project, says a study by J.D. Power. It says that 35 per cent of Americans are in the process or are planning to do a home improvement project over the next three months. This includes a 40 per cent increase specifically due to the unexpected additional time at home. With people being restricted to their home, painting has become the top home improvement project planned with 44 per cent indicating they have painted recently or will be during the next three months. As a result, do-it-yourselfers are increasingly looking to websites to help them find products and guidance. J.D. Power says that the paint and stain category is positioned to be less affected by the pandemic than other product categories and evidence from the survey indicates sales could potentially exceed typical second quarter trends.

April 13, 2020

Consumer Confidence Falls To Record Low

Consumer confidence fell to a record low and saw its steepest monthly decline in April. The drop comes on the heels March’s record decline and shows that COVID-19 is making Canadians across the country anxious, says Cory Renner, senior economist with the Conference Board of Canada. “The speed of the decline is unprecedented, and a sign of how quickly Canada’s economy is deteriorating. For comparison, in the 2008 financial crisis, the index fell by 73 points in 13 months. In response to COVID-19, the index has declined by 73 points in just two months.” The index of consumer confidence fell by 41 points in April with the index level now at 47.6, the lowest level ever. Every region except Quebec and Atlantic Canada are at a record lows. Renner says it’s not surprising that consumer confidence has plummeted across the country given the effects that physical distancing is having on Canada’s economy and labour market. There have already been over three million employment insurance claims over the past month, and the Board expects Canada to lose around 2.8 million jobs in March and April.

Stay-at-home Mentality May Prioritize Remodeling

A lot of this stay-at-home/work-from-home mentality will likely result in heightened prioritization of remodeling coming out of this anticipated recession, says Patrick McKeegan, vice-president and portfolio manager, Franklin Equity Group. He told the Franklin Templeton Update ‘Repositioning a Portfolio for Growth Amid COVID-19’ session that he “can't think of a company that hasn't been affected by this crisis.” However, one they are particularly excited about is a hard flooring company that does most of all its business in the U.S. Currently, its stores are shut. Yet, in the current environment, they're differentiating themselves with online abilities and the ability to sell out of the back of the store, which is because they have a strong eCommerce engine. People - both DIY customers as well as pros - can place orders online or over the phone and then go to the store to pick up. “This is making us pretty excited about remodeling industry longer term,” he said.

COVID-19 Crisis Changing Consumer Behaviour

During the COVID-19 crisis, sales in certain segments are surging, says Statistics Canada. “The features of the Canadian consumer environment are shifting rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shaped by a variety of interconnected and evolving factors,” it says in its Prices Analytical Series, ‘Canadian Consumers Prepare for COVID-19.’ “Restrictions on the activities of citizens and businesses and increased pressure on adapting supply chains are influencing the what, where, when, and how of Canadian consumption, on an ongoing basis.” On March 11, the federal government announced its COVID-19 response fund followed by a coordinated economic relief package. By the end of that same week, grocery sales had increased 38 per cent compared to their average sales in 2019. Compared to the same week in the previous year, sales increased by 46 per cent. Hand sanitizer and mask and glove sales provided an early indication of shifting consumer behaviour, increasing 477 per cent and 122 per cent respectively as early as the last week of January, and registering 639 per cent and 377 per cent increases respectively in the week ending March 14 compared to the 2019 average. Although concern has been raised about the possibility of price-gouging, with new legislation being passed in Ontario on March 28, retailers have made promises to Canadian consumers that they will not engage in predatory practices.

Sales Down One Per Cent At WD-40

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $100 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of one per cent compared to net sales of $101.3 million in the second quarter of 2019. Net income for the quarter was $14.3 million, a decrease of 10 per cent compared to net income of $15.9 million in the prior-year period. Gross margin was 53.6 per cent compared to 55.4 per cent last year. Net sales for the maintenance products segment decreased one per cent to $91.1 million year-over-year and net sales for the homecare and cleaning products segment also decreased one per cent to $8.9 million. Net sales in the Americas increased seven per cent year-over-year, primarily due to higher sales of maintenance products in Canada and the U.S., which increased 25 and nine per cent, respectively.

April 10, 2020

True Value Shines Light Amid Pandemic

Independently owned and operated True Value hardware stores across the U.S. are joining True Value Company’s ‘Shine-A-Light’ campaign by hanging decorative lights in their store fronts to express goodwill, hope, and solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says the crisis has Americans adjusting to a new reality and looking for light amid the darkness. True Value stores are hanging the lights to help lift spirits and show solidarity within their communities and remind people that the stores are open and ready to serve customers.

Employer-employee Relationships Growing Stronger

While Canadians may be isolated and ‘socially distanced’ from their employers and co-workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shared crisis experience is bringing them closer together, says a study by Argyle Group. Forty-nine per cent of employees say there is improvement in their relationship with their employer, with only 29 per cent reporting a decline. Fifty-two per cent also cite improvements with in the relationships with their co-workers, compared with 25 per cent whose relationships with colleagues have declined. Even those that have lost or left their jobs during the pandemic do not blame their employers, with 53 per cent citing satisfaction with their most recent employer. This trend is most acute in Quebec – the region hit hardest by the pandemic so far – where 57 per cent of respondents cite improved relationships with their employers. The next strongest improvements come in Alberta (55 per cent), and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (54 per cent). Argyle says employee engagement is the one area where employers can improve with only 39 per cent of respondents believing they can influence their employer’s decisions or direction. Employers should be more transparent than ever with their teams, and engage employees consistently and creatively to help address business and organizational challenges.

Canfor Reduces Production

Canfor Corporation is undertaking additional temporary reductions in production capacity due to the impact of COVID-19 on the price of lumber and demand. Effective April 13, Canadian lumber production will be curtailed by approximately 100 million board feet through to May 1, resulting in a total production run rate of approximately 30 per cent. These reductions will be achieved by taking downtime at the majority of its British Columbia sawmills. As previously announced, the Canfor Southern Pine and Swedish facilities will continue to operate at less than full capacity with variable operating schedules and downtime, which will be adjusted to align production with market demand as required. These reduced operating rates are expected to remain in effect through May 1.

Dust Extractor Sized For Use On The Go


Festool has added the Dust Extractor CLEANTEC CT 15 HEPA to its lineup of dust extractors. This unit is HEPA certified and extracts dust, dirt, and water from construction sites, production shops, and home workshops. It is sized to make it ideal for use on the go with compact dimensions, low weight, and a robust chassis. It has touch operation and an externally accessible main filter. The 15-litre container can be filled to almost full capacity allowing for long periods of work without having to change the filter bag. Crevice and upholstery nozzle cleaning accessories are included and stored within the unit.

Richelieu Has Strong First Quarter

Richelieu had total sales of $249.4 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 10.2 per cent over total sales of $226.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. Sales in Canada increased nine per cent year-over-year while sales in the U.S. increased 13.3 per cent. Sales from the manufacturers market increased 9.5 per cent and sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores increased 14.4 per cent. Overall EBITDA was $24.9 million, up 18.9 per cent over EBITDA of $20.9 million in the year-ago period. EBITDA margin was 10 per cent compared to 9.2 per cent last year. Net earnings were $11.8 million, up 18.4 per cent over net earnings of $9.9 million.

April 9, 2020

Pandemic Affects March Housing Starts

The trend in housing starts was 204,717 units in March, compared to 209,109 units in February, 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 declined in March, likely indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to impact residential construction activity,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC. “Activity in Toronto (ON) and Montreal (QC) trended lower, reflecting broader declines in their respective provinces. While Vancouver (BC) registered an up-tick, it was not sufficient to offset an overall decline in British Columbia. Activity trended lower in the Atlantic region, but conditions were mixed in the Prairies, as lower activity in Saskatchewan was offset by higher activity in Alberta and Manitoba.” The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 195,174 units in March, a decrease of 7.3 per cent from 210,574 units in February. The SAAR of urban starts also decreased by 7.3 per cent to 182,553 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 13.4 per cent to 124,073 units while single-detached urban starts increased by 8.8 per cent to 58,480 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,621 units.

Residential Leads Building Permit Decline

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 7.3 per cent to $8.6 billion in February, driven by the residential component, says Statistics Canada. Declines were reported in five provinces, with the largest decrease reported in British Columbia (-39.2 per cent to $1.3 billion). Meanwhile, Alberta reported the fourth consecutive monthly growth, up 4.2 per cent to $1.1 billion. The total value of residential permits decreased 7.3 per cent to $5.3 billion, mostly due to a significant decline in permits for multi-family dwellings. Permits for multi-family dwellings were down 18.1 per cent to $2.8 billion, with the largest decrease originating in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver, BC (-$841 million). Excluding the CMA of Vancouver, the value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose 10.3 per cent on a national level in February. The total value of permits for single-family dwellings increased 8.3 per cent to $2.6 billion. These gains were driven by housing developments in Ontario (+$205 million), bringing the value of permits in the province to its highest level since December 2017. The value of non-residential permits was down 7.3 per cent to $3.2 billion in February.

CFIB Supports Changes To Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is pleased to learn the government is planning important changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that it launched to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. To access the subsidy in March, April, and May, a firm will now be able to compare their sales to the same month last year or to January and February, 2020. This will help new and growing firms who may not have qualified based on a comparison to 2019. As well, the federal government will now require firms to demonstrate a 15 per cent reduction in gross revenues for March instead of a 30 per cent, as the first half of March was not yet deeply affected by the economic effects of COVID-19. A 30 per cent reduction will still be required to receive the subsidy in April and May. CFIB emphasizes that these changes will still not help all small firms in need of help to gain access to the subsidy. Its preferred option remains that government drop the 30 per cent test altogether for small- and medium-sized firms. However, based on its early review of these changes, CFIB believes that thousands of additional small businesses will be able to access the program.

Lowe’s Canada Will Close Stores Easter Sunday

Lowe’s Canada will close all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores across the country for Easter Sunday on April 12. “Our store associates have worked tirelessly in the past few weeks to support our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing essential products and services,” says a spokesperson for the company. “We want to provide them all with a much-deserved day off to rest and spend time home with their families.” The retailer is taking steps to ensure that no hourly associate will lose scheduled hours or have a reduction in pay as a result of Easter closures.

Maibach To Lead Wooster Brush

Ben Maibach will be president of the Wooster Brush Company, effective May 1. He joined the company in 2014. He succeeds Bill Fagert, who will become vice-chairman of the board of directors. Scott Rutledge will be senior vice-president of sales and marketing, effective May 1. He is currently vice-president of marketing and has been with the company for 29 years.

April 8, 2020

Cash Crisis, Debt Top Small Business Concerns

Monthly bills and mounting debt top a long list of small business worries for small businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, says a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Many small businesses plan to use the Canada Emergency Business Account (44 per cent) with many others wanting to use it, but not being eligible (20 per cent). Only 11 per cent say they don't need it with the rest unsure. Once running, the program will provide up to $40,000 in interest-free loans with up to $10,000 forgivable. However, it is restricted to businesses with payroll between $50,000 and $1 million. Rent is one of the biggest month-to-month costs a small business needs to shoulder. For those that pay rent (65 per cent of those surveyed) 61 per cent paid or plan to pay in full for April. About one in four have deferral agreements in place with landlords. Most of the rest could not pay their rent in full and don't have an agreement in place (seven per cent). In addition, 30 per cent of small businesses say they don’t have the cash flow to cover April bills and 63 per cent do not think they will be able to make up for lost revenues when the COVID-19 emergency is over. On top of that, 90 per cent are worried customers will reduce or delay spending, even when COVID-19 is over.

LBM Delivery Business Joins TIMBER MART

Building material delivery business, RenoRun Inc.,based out of Montreal, QC, has joined TIMBER MART for better buying power and access to the group’s broad vendor network. “TIMBER MART’s wide assortment of buying programs will give us the opportunity to test new product categories in our markets and grow our business in a way we haven’t been able to in the past,” says Melik Bouhadra, general manager of RenoRun’s Montreal location. “We’ll also have access to better buying power that will help support our long-term growth.” RenoRun is a technology-driven building material delivery business that offers residential contractors and builders over 20,000 building material products through its mobile app. It delivers to job sites on-demand or in advance throughout the cities and surrounding areas of Montreal, Toronto, ON, and Austin, TX, where they do business. Launched in 2017, the company continues to grow its presence across Canada and the U.S. and today, employs over a hundred staff members – 60 of which are located in Montreal where RenoRun is headquartered.

BETTER BUILT Launches Additional Jobsite Storage Products

Work truck equipment and jobsite storage box brand BETTER BUILT has released nine additional jobsite storage products for contractors. The product lineup includes chests and piano box offerings. Security is built into every product with features such as a staked/welded hinge and one-time installation lock system with recessed housing to protect against break-ins. As well, chest lids are manufactured with a single locking spreader, which ensures safety when opening by allowing the user to support the lid with one hand while closing it with another. The products have a powder coat finish that protects against weather while fully arc welded construction adds durability. The units are made with 16-gauge steel with welded, recessed handle bars and wide-stance, caster-ready seven-gauge, four-way skid bases. They come in a variety of sizes and capacities.

ASSA ABLOY Implements Changes To Address Pandemic

To address the situation that has arisen due to the COVID-19 outbreak, ASSA ABLOY Group has taken several cost measures and cash flow initiatives. It has implemented reduced working hours, temporary and permanent layoffs, travel bans, a reduction in number of consultants, and delays of projects. The company had sales of SEK22,173 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of three per cent over sales of SEK21,505 million in the first quarter of 2019. EBIT for the quarter was SEK2,751 million, down from SEK3,246 in the year-ago period. Operating margin was 12.4 per cent compared to 15.1 per cent. During the first quarter, operations and sales in Asia, and in China in particular, were significantly affected. The operations in the rest of the world were affected by supply challenges from February onwards, while sales did not decrease significantly until March.

April 7, 2020

Digital Sales Skyrocket During Pandemic

The economic crisis resulting from COVID-19, along with quarantines, social distancing, and staying at home, is dramatically impacting Canadian consumer habits, says eCommerce provider Absolunet in its report, ‘COVID-19 and eCommerce in Canada.’ One major change is a significant increase in online shopping. “Canada is on the digital tipping point,” says Charles Desjardins, partner and executive vice-president at Absolunet. “In the future, we’ll remember that there was a way of buying before COVID-19 and after. Every Canadian business’ eCommerce maturity is being tested and pushed to its limits to an extent we’ve never seen before.” While almost all merchants are seeing an increase in revenue on their digital channels, digitally mature companies are seeing the largest surge because they are able to ‘turn on a dime’ and quickly adapt to an increase in online demand, says the report. The ability to process orders and offer excellent customer service depends largely on transportation capacity, inventory management systems, and the ability to anticipate delays in delivery and closely follow cases that are sent to customer service – even with reduced personnel.

Morneau Shepell Launches Free Mental Health App

In response to the crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Morneau Shepell has partnered with a number of organizations to develop a mobile app and website that offers all Canadians access to an extensive range of free resources to support their mental health. Called WellCan, this collection of digital resources will be accessible, free, and available to everyone in Canada online and in app stores. As an online hub of free mental health services, WellCan will continuously be refreshed with the latest information and resources. While the coronavirus virus is feared for its potential to overwhelm the Canadian healthcare system with those suffering from the physical symptoms of COVID-19, the toll on the mental health of Canadians is also expected to be severe, both now and in the coming months and, potentially, years. In the spirit of public service, Morneau says it, along with the partner organizations, have come together to pool their services and dedicate resources to support their fellow citizens. Partners involved in the development of the app include Canada Life, Sun Life, Bell Canada/Bell Let's Talk, WE, jack.org, Strongest Families, EHN Canada, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Boise Cascade Implements Changes

Boise Cascade Company is implementing changes in response to rapidly evolving market conditions and economic uncertainties surrounding the impact of COVID-19. “Our company is an essential link in the construction industry’s supply chain,” says Nate Jorgensen, CEO. “However, we are seeing changes in a number of markets, which is impacting our customers and the markets they serve thus prompting adjustments in our business.” The company will reduce the volume of plywood and engineered wood products in the coming weeks by 25 to 40 per cent, compared to first quarter levels. The company has also negotiated an extension of its $350 million revolving credit agreement and the related $50 million term loan to counter a reduction in sales projected in its building materials distribution division. In addition, it has reduced its planned capital spending for 2020 and is closely scrutinizing all discretionary spending.

Coronavirus Causes Amazon To Postpone Prime Day

Amazon.com will postpone Prime Day until August this year in reaction to business risks from the novel coronavirus, which has caused a surge in demand for household staples and led to demonstrations by warehouse employees who fear contagion, says Reuters. Prime Day, held every July, is a marketing event Amazon launched in 2015 to help sales during the slower summer shopping season. Executives want to avert a potential $100 million hit the retailer might see this year from excess devices that could sell at a discount during the pandemic. The decision to delay the event means Amazon will have millions of devices, like its voice-controlled Echo speakers, that it would have expected to sell sooner. These items are historically big sellers during Prime Day. The decision will also affect third-party sellers that have come to depend on Amazon’s platform for revenue.

April 6, 2020

More Restrictions Placed On Essential Retailers

On April 3 the Ontario government ordered more businesses to close because they are no longer considered essential in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also placed new restrictions on certain retailers that are considered essential, including hardware stores. Non-critical construction and work services, including the residential sector, were ordered to cease operations by April 4. Residential construction and projects, including renovation projects, must have progressed beyond a certain specified point to be permitted to continue. The restrictions on retail stores that are permitted to remain open include that they must, to the fullest extent possible, restrict public access to their place of business by providing alternative methods of sale, such as curbside pick-up or delivery. While these businesses are still considered essential, the public must no longer have access to the stores. Stores in Ontario have responded to the new rules. Lowe’s Canada says effective April 5, and effective for 14 days, its Ontario stores will remain open, but only for curbside pickup following an online order. Canadian Tire says it will limit its 203 Ontario stores to serving customers only through curbside pickup or eCommerce home delivery. Home Hardware Store Ltd. has updated its website for Ontario stores to show only curbside pickup is available.

COVID-19 Has Impact On March Home Sales

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) had 8,012 home sales in March, up by 12.3 per cent compared to 7,132 sales in March 2019, says the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). However, despite a strong increase in sales for March as a whole, there was a clear break in market activity between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 periods. The overall March sales result was clearly driven by the first two weeks of the month. There were 4,643 sales reported in the pre-COVID-19 period, accounting for 58 per cent of total transactions and representing a 49 per cent increase compared to the first 14 days of March 2019. There were 3,369 sales reported during the post-COVID-period – down by 15.9 per cent compared to the same period in March 2019. “Uncertainty surrounding the outbreak’s impact on the broader economy and the onset of the necessary social distancing measures resulted in the decline in sales since March 15,” says Michael Collins, president of TRREB. “Sales figures for April will give us a better sense as to the trajectory of the market while all levels of government take the required action to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Employers Must Be Mindful Of Employee Privacy

Employers need to be mindful of employee privacy during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in regards to health information, says Bernard Woo, senior research director at Gartner. While sharing information is necessary at a time like this, employers need to balance their need to monitor employee health with their responsibility to collect only necessary information and not overstep boundaries. He says employers should record only information that is factual and only the minimum amount of information necessary. As well, limit access to that information to only those employees with a ‘need-to-know’ and use that information as anonymously as possible. They need to store the information in a secure manner and only for as long as is necessary. In addition, they should only disclose information to external parties where it is required by law and only use the collected information for specific, limited purposes.

Canada Partners With Amazon Canada

The government of Canada has partnered with Amazon Canada to help manage the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies, purchased by the government, to support the COVID-19 response. Amazon is providing these services to Canadians at cost, without profit. Amazon will work collaboratively with the government to process and manage orders through its online Amazon Business store. Amazon will use its Canadian distribution network, including delivery partners Canada Post and Purolator, to deliver these supplies to provincial health authorities, hospitals, and other government agencies across the country. This contract award is part of the government's response to COVID-19, which includes major investments in personal protective equipment for the health sector, as well as research, science, and innovation.

April 3, 2020

U.S. Consumer Confidence Declines Sharply

Consumer confidence in the U.S. has declined sharply, says the U.S. Conference Board. Its ‘Consumer Confidence Index’ stood at 120 in March, from 132.6 in February, which had an increase over January. The ‘Present Situation Index’ – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labour market conditions – decreased from 169.3 to 167.7. The ‘Expectations Index’ – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labour market conditions – declined from 108.1 in February to 88.2 in March. “The intensification of COVID-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets have increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the board. “March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.”

Lowe’s Canada Ups Wages For Associates

As Lowe’s Canada continues to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, it is putting in place a temporary $2 an hour wage increase for all full-time, part-time, and seasonal hourly associates working at Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores, contact centres, and supply chain facilities in Canada for the hours they work throughout the month of April. This measure is in addition to the special payment to hourly associates announced in March to recognize that associates and their families may be experiencing unplanned expenses and hardships during this time, as well as to recognize their efforts as they work to serve customers and communities. The March payment amount was $300 for full-time associates and $150 for part-time and seasonal associates.

Castle Sees Continued Growth In Western Canada

Ramuda Building of Calgary, AB, has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Remuda Building was founded in 2006 by Steve Schouten. He and his management team wanted to expand the store’s hardware offering and provide a more complete product selection to customers. They looked for a buying group that would help them fulfill their growth potential and believe Castle was the right fit. “Our goal has always been to create a sustainable business that will be around for years to come, and one that our local community can trust. Castle was the buying group that best shared our vision of growth and longevity,” says Schouten.

IRWIN Adds Measuring Tapes

IRWIN has added measuring tapes to its roster of professional grade tools with the launch of the Command Lock Tape Measures. The tapes have an impact-resistant case which features a touch-button finger brake for control. They have a reach of 14’ with a high-contrast white blade with Mylar coating. The tapes have a multi-catch hook and magnetic hook options for working with ferrous metal materials such as metal studs, EMT conduit, and black oxide pipe. They are available in imperial and metric lengths.

Long-term Demand Forecast For Outdoor Products

In 2020, demand for outdoor furniture and grills in the U.S. is expected to decline as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, says a study by the Freedonia Group. While the full extent of these effects are currently unknown, declines in economic activity will hurt sales of outdoor furniture and grills in the short term – especially given the timing of the onset, which corresponds with prime opportunities for sales in this seasonal industry. In the long term, demand for outdoor furniture, grills, and patio heating products is forecast to expand 3.8 per cent per year to nearly $12 billion in 2024. The strong and still-growing popularity of outdoor living will continue to drive market growth, as consumers and commercial entities alike increasingly invest in outdoor spaces. Sales will be supported by continued introduction of new, value-added products with enhanced features, such as smart home integration and grills with multiple cooking functions. However, tariffs on foreign-made parts and products may increase prices for outdoor furniture and grills in the short term, which could be a restraint on these discretionary purchases. Depressed consumer discretionary spending and supply chain disruptions amid the coronavirus pandemic will also temper growth, though to what extent and for what duration remains unclear.

April 2, 2020

Canada Emergency Response Benefit To Launch April 6

The support program for Canadians facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced March 25, will come into effect April 6. As of that date, Canadians will be able to apply for the government of Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will provide up to $2,000 per month for up to four months and is available for the time period between March 15 to October 3. Retailers and other employers that have employees affected by the pandemic will want to share this information with them. It will be available for workers that, due to COVID-19, have been laid off, lost their jobs, are sick or quarantined or taking care of someone who is, are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children due to school closures, and are still technically employed but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work.

Shoppers Drug Mart Provides Free Mental Health Program Access

Shoppers Drug Mart, in partnership with SilverCloud Health, has opened a virtual stress management program, which it is offering for free to Canadians on their phones, tablets, or computer. The stress program is a blend of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), positive psychology, and mindfulness consisting of eight modules that focus on resilience and cognitive restructuring to help recognize and change negative thinking patterns and behaviours. “With health and financial concerns, isolation, and anxiety rising, this program is designed to treat stress with modern approaches,” says Jeff Leger, president, Shoppers Drug Mart. “Hopefully, it brings people peace of mind and possibly gives them and the healthcare system some relief at a time when both are burdened.” The program is available by visiting Shoppers Drug Mart, and will be free to Canadians until June 15.

Home Depot Canada Adds Associate Support Strategies

Home Depot Canada has implemented some additional strategies to support its associates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the retailer expanded its paid time off policy to address the needs of hourly associates to help alleviate some of the challenges they may be facing as a result of COVID-19. All hourly full-time associates received an additional 80 hours of paid time off, and part-time hourly associates received an additional 40 hours of paid time off. Last week, it implemented additional temporary enhancements for associates who are 65 or older. Full-time hourly associates who are 65 or older received an additional 80 hours of paid time off (for a total of 160 hours of additional paid time off) and part-time hourly associates who are 65 or older received an additional 40 hours of paid time off (for a total of 80 hours of paid time off). If associates are diagnosed with COVID-19 or advised by health or government officials to self-quarantine due to direct COVID-19 exposure, they’ll continue to be paid during that time. The retailer has also implemented a temporary bonus program for all hourly associates working in stores and distribution centres. From March 23 through April 19, hourly associates who work more than 35 hours per week will receive an additional $100 per week, while hourly associates who work 20 to 35 hours per week will receive an additional $50 per week. Home Depot Canada will also provide double-time pay to hourly associates for overtime hours worked between March 25 and April 30.

Lande Associates To Represent Liteline

Lande Associates Inc., a manufacturers’ representative agency in south western Ontario for lighting, lighting controls, and roller shades, will represent Liteline Corporation in the south western Ontario region. Liteline is an independent lighting manufacturer based in Ontario.

Underlayment Is Self-levelling

TEC has launched Level Set 500 HF Self-Levelling Underlayment, a flooring system underlayment which self-levels to provide a smooth surface without sanding or skim coating. The smooth surface also allows better flooring adhesive coverage. The Level Set 500 HF is a high-flow self-levelling underlayment that pours like water and is pumpable for interior applications. The product provides installers with both extended working time and longer healing time. The product is ideal for fast-track applications and is walkable within two to three hours for ceramic tile installations. Moisture-sensitive floor coverings can be installed in 15 hours. It is compatible with all types of floor covering including wood, vinyl planks and sheet goods, linoleum, rubber, ceramic, porcelain tile, and VCT (vinyl composition tile). The product also is suitable for any substrate – concrete, pavers, cement backerboard, hardwood, plywood, gypsum substrates, tile, terrazzo, metal, VCT, and OSB.

Dollarama Sees Increased Basket Size

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $1,065.2 million for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, up 0.5 per cent compared to sales of $1,059.7 million in the fourth quarter of its 2019 year. Comparable store sales increased by two per cent year-over-year, driven by an increase in transaction size and number of units per basket. Gross margin was 44.7 per cent of sales in the quarter compared to 45.3 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. Net earnings increased to $178.7 million from $171 million last year.

April 1, 2020

Associations Call For Industry To Work Together

The European DIY-Retail Association (EDRA), the Global Home Improvement Network (GHIN), and the Home Improvement Manufacturers Association (HIMA) are calling on all stakeholders in the home improvement industry and its supply chain to work together with the least disruption possible during the worldwide COVID-10 epidemic. The group says the crisis having an impact on supply chain and, in particular, on the production of goods in China and its ability to supply global markets. “Only by working together can we ensure the best results in bringing essential goods to consumers around the world,” the group says in a press release. “When goods are not available from China, manufacturers and suppliers must do all they can to find procurement alternatives to try and fulfill their contractual obligations with their contract partners and must inform them of any delivery bottlenecks or supply chain disruptions. We are calling upon stakeholders in the supply chain network to find sensible solutions in the event of possible delivery bottlenecks and supply chains disruptions during this most difficult period, and not resort immediately to legal means. The ability, openness, and flexibility to offer alternative products at short notice, and to avoid panic-buying, can help ensure a comprehensive supply of products to consumers.”

Small Business Must Do Their Part To Preserve Economy

With the announcement of a 75 per cent emergency wage subsidy available to small businesses, it is now up to them to preserve the economy, says Greg Hurst of Greg Hurst & Associates Ltd. The federal government announced the 75 per cent Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy on March 27 for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Hurst acknowledges that until technical details of the subsidy are published, we won’t know how businesses will fund that subsidy, unless they plan to access the emergency lending programs also being offered by the government. “The original 10 per cent wage subsidy announced March 18 was to be initially funded by offsets to payroll tax remittance. However, this will not be administratively practical or sufficient for the new 75 per cent Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Indeed, the department of finance now advises that payroll deductions (i.e. income tax, CPP contributions, and EI premiums) are not to be deferred. It now falls to businesses to do their part to help preserve our economy during this crisis period. What it comes down to, is that any employer who does not bring laid-off employees back onto payroll with at least 75 per cent of their wages is not doing their part, as this wage cost is being met by the federal government and will not, in the end, drain struggling businesses of cash.”

Statistics Canada Launches Economy Monitoring Tool

Statistics Canada has launched a dashboard that presents selected indicators to help monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activity in Canada. The dashboard includes 16 indicators from a range of monthly data programs – real gross domestic product, consumer prices, the employment rate, merchandise exports and imports, retail sales, hours worked, manufacturing sales, air and railway transportation, and travel. Each indicator is presented from January 2019 to the current reference month, and expressed in terms of month-over-month and year-over-year changes. In addition, an index has been created for each indicator to more easily track and compare the relative impacts of COVID-19. With December 2019 as the base reference period, each index will provide a baseline to measure the effects of the outbreak as new data are released. The dashboard will be updated as new data and analysis become available. These will include short explanatory texts that summarize and highlight effects specific to provinces and industries. More indicators may be added to the dashboard to provide additional timely measures and a more comprehensive picture of the rapidly-evolving situation. The dashboard is available here

Astronaut Urine Could Make Moon Bases

Urine could be a key ingredient in creating building materials for moon bases, says the SINC agency, the scientific news agency of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. With NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and its Chinese counterpart planning to build moon bases in the coming decades, one major challenge is logistics of supplies – how to get the materials there? Transporting materials to the moon from earth costs about $10,000 per 0.45 kg, which means using construction materials made on earth would be very expensive. That’s why space agencies are thinking about using raw materials from the moon’s surface and those that astronauts can provide, such as their urine. Scientists have conducted several experiments to verify the potential of urine urea as a plasticizer, an additive that can be incorporated into concrete to soften the initial mixture and make it more pliable before it hardens. They have tested the theory and found the final product, which is created using a 3-D printer, supported heavy weights and remained almost stable in shape.

March 31, 2020

CFIB Pleased With Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy announced March 27 by Canadian government will be a significant relief for tens of thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). It says although details on the subsidy are urgently needed, the decision to make the wage subsidy widely available to employers of all sizes and structures is the right approach given the unique nature of the pandemic. “The wage subsidy is the single best measure to help Canada prepare for a quick recovery the minute the emergency phase of the pandemic is over.” CFIB is also pleased that there does not appear to be a cap per employer over the duration of the program. While it is reasonable for government to require evidence of a financial impact on businesses in order to qualify for the program, CFIB has heard from several businesses with very small margins, where even a modest reduction in sales can require significant changes in their staffing levels. For other businesses, the primary impact has been an increase in their costs, rather than a reduction in business income. CFIB is pleased government intends to keep the administrative requirements light to ensure the support can quickly flow to the businesses to need it.

Emerging Technologies To Change Delivery Models

Delivery robots (bots), robotic delivery vehicles (RDVs), and drones are set to displace millions of truck and van deliveries over the next decade, as they are far smaller, more flexible, lower in cost, and naturally suitable for automation and electrification, says a report from Navigant Research. As a result of rising labour and fuel costs, along with concerns about increasing vehicle emissions, many logistics stakeholders are experimenting with these emerging technologies to reduce driver miles and fuel usage. “These technologies are expected to make last-mile logistics (LML) more efficient and sustainable, while also transforming local commerce and user experience through new business models such as on-demand store-hailing,” says Ryan Citron, senior research analyst at Navigant. To position for success, companies should aggressively develop bot and drone programs to remain competitive and governments should establish regulatory frameworks that support the growth of the bot and drone industries.

Belgard Launches Bonneville Plank In Canada

Belgard has launches its Bonneville Plank to the Canadian market. The Bonneville Plank offers a wood grain profile in multiple patterns and in two classic colour choices – charcoal and canyon brown – suitable for multiple design applications including walkways and paths, patios, and pool areas. The planks are 24” by 8” by 2.4” and is shipped with 66 units per pallet (64 for soft pallets).

Calgary Lawyers Launch Free Hotline

Albertans with legal problems due to COVID-19 are being offered a free resource to get them out of difficulties and on the right track – a free lawyer from Resolve Legal via a legal hotline. “People have legal problems and we have answers. We wanted to put those two things together and ease the burden for a lot of really stressed people during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Cyndy Morin, principal at the Calgary-based firm. With Legal Aid in hiatus due to the crisis, through word-of-mouth communication, the hotline was inundated with calls in its first week. Calls for help have come from employers who have to lay off employees and don't know their obligations in this crisis; working parents without childcare who have paid in advance for services; isolated seniors who have no personal directive should they need medical help; and even distraught brides who have to cancel wedding plans. “If local Calgary brewers can retool their lines to make hand-sanitizer, we can re-organize and use our skills to provide free interim legal help,”says Morin.

Backorders Affect RH Revenues

RH had net revenues of $665 million for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of 0.9 per cent compared to net revenues of $671 million in the fourth quarter of its 2018 year. The decrease was due, in part, to higher than expected backorders due to inventories being down 18 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $283 million for the quarter, up from $258 million in the year-ago period. Operating margin increased 190 basis points to 15.2 per cent versus 13.3 per cent last year and adjusted operating margin increased 230 basis points to 17.4 per cent versus 15.1 per cent. Net income was $68.4 million compared to $27.3 million last year.

March 30, 2020

Government Offers More Help To Small Business

The federal government will implement additional measures to help small- and medium-sized businesses to keep employees on the payroll and access credit during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measure include a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying small- and medium-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19. This is a significant increase from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy. This wage subsidy will be provided for up to three months, retroactive to March 15. The government will also create a ‘Canada Emergency Business Account’ through which up to $25 billion will be made available to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. The ‘Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee’ program will allow financial institutions, working with Export Development Canada, to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized companies. For more information, see Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement

Lumber Demand High, Prices Low

U.S. and Canadian softwood lumber demand remained high but stocking wholesalers and resellers struggled with issues around the need to quarantine and keep social distance for their staff, says Madison’s Lumber Reporter. Lumber prices continued to fall and sawmills and lumber producers were often occupied with customers who were trying to cancel, or even get refunds on, orders already made. The Canadian federal government as well as most U.S. states deemed lumber and other construction material as ‘essential’ – meaning these operations and stores were not required to close, even as the Canadian/U.S. border was closed to public travel. Meanwhile, the delivery of goods and trade material was also not subject to a restriction. Some operators had difficulty sourcing trucks or rail cars, while others reported smooth and speedy delivery by truck, as highways were empty of traffic and the border was open only to returning citizens and business supply chain. However, scattered reports of logistical headaches began to surface, including sharply increasing freight costs and stranded or undelivered loads.

Make Critical Small Choices In Uncertain Times

Some small choices that leaders make in the short run could loom very large over the long term as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. They can be hard to spot, but leaders must look for them, says McKinsey & Company. Unfortunately, the typical approach of many companies, big and small, will be far too slow to keep up in such turbulent times. The business consulting firm says leaders should pause and take a breath, giving themselves a moment to step back, take stock, anticipate, and prioritize. They should involve many more stakeholders and encourage different views to lead to smarter decisions without sacrificing speed. Big decisions may seem obvious, but some small or routine decisions can have large long-term strategic implications. Leaders should anticipate multiple possible scenarios for how things might unfold over time. They can make a list of five to 10 choices or actions that made today might, depending on what happens, make a difference later. The should also engage others to help identify which small decisions or actions should be addressed now, in case they become the difference makers down the road. These decisions could range from actions to save cash and ensure liquidity to actions to beef up the resilience of a supply chain by quickly exploring alternative suppliers. The full article is available here

CMHC Expands Insured Mortgage Purchase Program

The Government of Canada, through its crown corporation Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is expanding its revised Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP) to further bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy. This expansion is part of a suite of measures passed in the Emergency Response Act, which was developed in response to COVID-19 to protect Canadian’s health and safety and stabilize the Canadian economy. As a result of additional authorities granted by the minister of finance, the government stands ready to purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through CMHC, an increase of $100 billion from the $50 billion announced on March 16. This action will expand the stable funding available to banks and mortgage lenders in order to ensure continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses. It is also ready to expand the issuance of Canada Mortgage Bonds, which is part of its standard mortgage-funding suite of products, to a total annual issuance amount of up to $60 billion. This additional issuance would depend on market conditions and investor demand.

Stella-Jones Considered Essential Workplace

Lumber distributor Stella-Jones Inc. says it will continue to provide products essential to construction services in the residential sector and to ensure continuity of supply of forestry products critical to multiple facets of the economy. The announcement comes out in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and orders issued by Canadian provincial and U.S. state authorities. The company falls is considered an essential workplace as a business that provides priority services and activities and carries out critical manufacturing. It will continue operations at all of its North American treating facilities and supporting distribution networks while being mindful of potential impacts in light of the current context.

March 27, 2020

Deep Economic Contraction Expected In Ontario Before Rebound

The Ontario government forecasts COVID-19 to be a short-term economic shock, with economic activity to gradually rebound in the second half of 2020, says Central 1 Credit Union. However, the credit union anticipates a deep contraction in 2020 before a stronger rebound in 2021 as the COVID-19 epidemiologic curve eases. The province is experiencing increased expenditures and challenged revenues, as the economy remains sidelined, and this will lift the net debt-to-GDP ratio from 39.9 per cent in 2019/20 and to 41.7 per cent by 2020/21. The government expects a deficit of $9.2 billion in 2019/20 and, given its goal to protect households and businesses, an increased deficit of $20.5 billion in 2020/21 is forecast. The province has promised to table a full budget by late November.

GTA Had Busy New Home Market In February

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market had an exceptionally busy February, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 4,665 total new home sales in February, which was up 211 per cent from February 2019 and 57 per cent above the 10-year average. It was the highest number of new homes sold in February since 2002 and the third highest in the past 40 years. It was also the strongest February since 2004 for sales of new single-family homes. With 2,247 new single-family homes sold, sales were up 228 per cent from last February and 44 per cent above the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments, at 2,418 units sold, were up 197 per cent from February 2019 and 48 per cent above the 10-year average. It was the second strongest February of the past 40 years for new condominium apartment sales, after the record high of February 2017. Total new home remaining inventory at the end of February was 17,199 units, representing about five months of inventory at the pace of sales in the past 12 months, well below the longer-term average of about eight months.

Co-op Offers Appreciation Pay

While grocery store employees are emerging as unsung heroes on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) wants to also recognize the unseen efforts of its warehouse distribution centre teams. The co-op is implementing an appreciation pay program that increases hourly wages by $2 per hour for employees in roles delivering essential goods. This includes employees at warehouse distribution centres in Winnipeg, MB; Saskatoon, SK; and Edmonton and Calgary, AB. Each day they supply food, pharmacy, home and building supplies, and general merchandise to more than 600 western Canadian communities where co-ops serve. The events of recent weeks have drastically increased demand on these distribution centres, sometimes more than 2.5 times the normal volume for this time of year. Amidst these demands, employees have adjusted protocols and prioritized ordering to ensure supplies get to where they’re most needed. The appreciation pay is retroactive to March 8.

Leon’s Reduces Workforce, Stores

Leon's Furniture Limited (LFL) is in the process of adjusting its retail operations in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The company will temporarily close 72 of its 205 corporate retail locations across Canada. As a result of these closures, and in order to adjust to significant changes in overall customer traffic, the company will also immediately layoff approximately 3,900 employees on a temporary basis, representing approximately 50 per cent of its current total workforce. LFL will enhance the EI benefits with supplemental payments and extend company-paid benefits to affected individuals. LFL banners – Leon's Furniture, The Brick, Appliance Canada, and Midnorthern Appliance – will continue to serve Canadians by providing essential products for the home through physical locations that are still open and their websites. It will also maintain its repair and installation services for the home through Trans Global Service.

West Fraser To Further Reduce Production

In response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, West Fraser is taking additional steps to respond to changing operating and market conditions. As a result of the continuing proliferation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of mandatory and recommended governmental restrictions on movement, travel, work, and trade that are impacting operations and creating uncertainty in the demand for forest products, the company will curtail lumber production at all British Columbia sawmills for one week effective March 30. This will result in the elimination of an additional 24 million board feet of production for the week in addition to previously announced curtailments. The company will also temporarily suspend production at its Alberta Plywood and Slave Lake Veneer facilities from March 30 to at least April 6. This will reduce the plywood production by an additional 6,500 million board feet per week.

March 26, 2020

Governments Must Step Up For Small Business

Canadian small businesses are heading for extinction if the government doesn’t step up, says Cato Pastoll, CEO of small business finance company Lending Loop. A survey by the company shows that small businesses in the retail, food service, travel, tourism, and education industries are looking at March revenue declines of 70 per cent or more. “Revenue declines of this magnitude will initially result in layoffs, delaying payment to vendors and suppliers (other small businesses), and eventual closure,” he writes in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail. “As layoffs continue to grow, consumer demand will decline significantly, further compounding the economic challenges for our economy.” He adds, “While the magnitude of the effects of COVID-19 do depend on the industry and size of business, almost every single small-business owner is staring at the possibility of closing their doors for good. No current measure in Canada goes far enough to keep small businesses ... alive or with any viable prospect of future return.” He says Canadians need the municipal, provincial, and federal governments to step in and support the real engine of our economy: small businesses.

Small Business Confidence At Historic Low

Small business confidence fell to a new historic low amid impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)'s latest Business Barometer. After a 10-point drop earlier in the month, the national confidence level fell a further 19 index points to 30.8 from February's level of 60.5. Only one in five owners say their business is in a good state, compared to 38 per cent who say it is doing poorly. Hiring plans have ground to a halt, with just five per cent of business owners planning to add on full-time staff in the next three months and 50 per cent planning layoffs. An index level nearer to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential. Quebec experienced the sharpest drop in optimism, falling 44.5 index points to 15.7, while Alberta (26.2) and Newfoundland and Labrador (27.8) had the next lowest results, although they experienced the smallest drops in optimism. Saskatchewan (28.3) and British Columbia (28.8) both posted levels close to the national average after experiencing 16-point drops, while Ontario (37) and Manitoba (37.5) fared a bit better. Nova Scotia (44) and New Brunswick (44.6) both experienced large drops in confidence, but remained more upbeat than the rest of the country. Retail posted one of the highest industry levels of confidence at 33.4 per cent, though it was still well below the norm.

Emergency Response Benefit Good Start

Although it doesn’t replace the need to increase the 10 per cent wage subsidy to 75 per cent of wages for all employers, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it does welcome the federal government's announcement of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which will provide $2,000 per month to workers who have lost their job, including the self-employed. This is a significant step forward in addressing the growing economic emergency that accompanies the nation's efforts to avoid the COVID-19 health crisis, says the organization. “We are particularly pleased that the federal government has indicated an employer will not have to lay off a worker to allow them to qualify for the benefit.” CFIB also calls on provincial governments to amend labour legislation to ensure an employer can move an employee to be paid by the CERB or temporarily lay them off to collect Employment Insurance without triggering normal termination pay requirements. However, the organization still believes that a direct wage subsidy to employers would be a far faster way to ensure workers are paid than the CERB, particularly as the new program will not begin until early April and will pay workers only once per month. A wage subsidy would also help employers who can keep their employees working from home but have no or limited business income with which to pay them.

Canadians Experiencing Financial Stress Due To COVID-19

COVID-19 is causing an economic crisis for many Canadian families, with nearly 30 per cent reporting extreme stress. In total, 74 per cent report feeling some degree of stress brought on by the crisis, says financial technology company Borrowell. Over 40 per cent of Canadians say their biggest financial worry is how to pay for basic necessities such as food and rent. Almost 30 per cent say COVID-19 has already had an extremely negative impact on their finances and 30 per cent also say they have no plans in place if funds run too low to pay bills.

Canadian Tire Dealers Offer Special Support Program

Canadian Tire Corporation says its associate dealers have implemented a temporary special support payment of $2 per hour for all active Canadian Tire store employees. This premium, a 'thank you' to employees for their hard work in continuing to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, begins March 22 and will continue until May 2. Canadian Tire Retail stores across the country remain open with reduced hours to allow for enhanced cleaning and restocking. The demand for supplies ranging from bathroom tissue, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products to other household staples has been high as Canadians take precautions to help slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to the temporary support payments by its associate dealers, Canadian Tire continues to explore measures that will support the safety and well-being of employees including the installation of plexiglass cashier shields. Stores are also offering curbside pick up for online orders.

Dollarama Recognized As Essential Business

The governments of Ontario and Quebec have recognized Dollarama Inc. as an essential business following the announcement of temporary exceptional measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. The value retailer says it will continue to operate its Montreal, QC-based distribution centre and warehouses as well as retail locations with street access in these provinces. The company will respect official health directives and provide recognition bonuses for front-line employees. The 10 per cent pay increase is effective March 23 to July 1 for all store-level employees as well as hourly distribution centre and warehouse employees. Dollarama will also continue to re-evaluate measures to be taken to support all its employees in the short-term and long-term as the situation evolves.

March 25, 2020

Small Businesses In Jeopardy

The COVID-19 outbreak is quickly becoming a disaster for small businesses, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). A study by the organization shows that a full 60 per cent of small firms have seen a significant drop in sales, with more than one in three reporting a reduction greater than 75 per cent. “More than half of small firms have begun laying off staff, with a quarter reporting they have already been forced to lay off their entire workforce,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. “At this rate, the only way to prevent massive additional unemployment is for government to introduce a much larger wage subsidy program.” While last week's economic measures were welcome initial steps, CFIB is proposing a COVID-19 ‘Job Retention Program’ that would subsidize wages of employers able to retain their staff. This would cover at least 75 per cent of wages for all employers, up to a cap of $5,000 per worker per month. CFIB proposes the program include the self-employed and small business owners. Nearly one in three businesses say they can survive less than a month under the current conditions, up from a quarter last week. The average cost of the outbreak for affected businesses has also doubled since last week to $136,000. As well, more than half of small businesses across Canada are already at least partially shut down, led by firms in the service and restaurant sectors.

Canadian Retail Heading For Meltdown

There was a slight improvement in Canadian retail sales growth for the three months ending January 2020. However, the reality is that Canadian retail had a relatively weak 2019, and is simply not in good shape to take on current challenges, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. The coronavirus pandemic is almost certain to lead to a recession which likely will significantly depress retail sales, although it will be a few months yet before we see it in the official statistics. Another potential effect is that many consumers may make greater use of online buying and home delivery, just to avoid shopping in actual stores. And they may find that they like it. This could result in a marginal but permanent shift from bricks-and-mortar to eCommerce. Overall, eCommerce represented about 3.5 per cent of Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending January 2020. eCommerce sales were up 18.4 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending January. This was much higher than for location-based retail which gained 2.5 per cent.

Lightspeed POS Offers Free Services During Pandemic

Lightspeed POS Inc. has launched several initiatives to support its local retail and restaurant customers who have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately, and for the next three months, Lightspeed now offers Lightspeed eCommerce for retail customers and Lightspeed Loyalty for omnichannel customers for free to help customers adapt. In addition, and to directly support its businesses, the company has also rolled out a #lightspeedlocal initiative that engages its company employees to shop locally and support small businesses in its network. The program reimburses employees in its 14 global offices up to $500 in local currency on purchases employees make from any Lightspeed retail or restaurant customer, whether through eCommerce shopping, meal takeout, or delivery. To further help small businesses, Lightspeed launched an online ‘COVID-19 Retail and Restaurant Resource Guide.’ The guide includes tips for operational tasks, as well as tools for new revenue streams to help businesses navigate changes in consumer behaviour. The company says its aim is to help small- and medium-sized businesses remain agile in the current socio-economic climate and provide them with resources to safeguard a prosperous future.

BILD Supports Construction As ‘Essential Workplace’

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) supports the Ontario government’s announcement that construction sites are ‘essential workplaces.’ It says properties are essential to keep housing supply levels where needed. It is not feasible to delay the completion of homes near closing without significant effect throughout the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA). With housing supply already at crisis levels, stopping construction will create long term implications to housing supply in the future. It adds that the health and safety of employees, suppliers, and customers is the industry’s top concern and people within the industry are taking the recommenced steps necessary to help reduce the possibility of transmission of the coronavirus.

Paint, Coatings Industry Provides Support During Pandemic

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) says it supports both the Ontario and Quebec governments in their understanding of the critical role of supply chains and the importance of materials provided by the paint and coatings industry included in the list of ‘essential services.’ Anti-bacterial and easily cleaned coatings are used in facilities such as hospitals and senior care centres to help prevent and control bacteria and associated illnesses. CPCA members also provide support to other industries. They provide life-saving equipment, such as ventilators and vital signs monitors, which have multiple parts and components that must be coated to protect them and ensure they work as designed. As well, ventilators and vital signs monitors, other critical pandemic-related supplies, and equipment require coatings supplied by paint and coatings manufacturers. Coatings companies also make cleaning products and mould/mildewcide treatments that are generally used before painting and used for antimicrobial control. It is critical these operations continue as they increase capacity and avoid reliance on big producers.

KNIPEX Upgrades Pliers Wrench

KNIPEX Tools has introduced an improved 7¼” version of its Pliers Wrench. The wrench is about 10 per cent lighter in weight than the previous model and features an increased jaw capacity, from 1???” to 1½”, as well as a narrower jaw profile for accessibility into confined areas. The wrench is now also available in a black finish and in the original chrome-plated finish. Other upgraded features include recessed areas for a better grip and laser-etched markings in both metric and imperial. This feature is key in determining the jaw opening before setting the wrench on the fastener.

March 24, 2020

Hardware Stores Deemed Essential

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Ontario government is ordering at-risk workplaces to close-down, while encouraging businesses to explore opportunities to continue operations through work-from-home and innovative business models. At the same time, the government reminds businesses to put in place protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing in order to protect the health and safety of employees and the general public. Essential businesses include hardware stores and stores that provide hardware products necessary to the essential operations of residences and businesses. Essential businesses are being asked to put into place any and all measures to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees on the front-lines. Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses. At-risk workplaces will be ordered to close by 11:59 p.m. today and, where possible, take the necessary measures so staff can work from home allowing operations to continue.

Goodsoil RONA Opens In April

James and Patrick Willis, RONA affiliate dealers of the Lowe’s Canada network, will open their 3,000-square-foot store in Goodsoil, SK, in early April. The father and son team, who also own the Vermilion, AB, RONA store, have been looking to expand their business for some time. The store will offer a wide selection of products including building materials, seasonal products, Craftsman tools, and appliances. Customers at the Goodsoil location will also benefit from the 10,000-square-foot Vermillion store as more products are only a few days away. Goodsoil customers will also have access to online shopping through the RONA website. As well, the store will offer full home, cottage, commercial, and agricultural shop building packages of all sizes.

Lowe's Canada Reduces Opening Hours

As Lowe’s Canada continues to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, it has reduced its opening hours in Canada. All Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores across the country (with the exception of Quebec) will close at 6 p.m. This will provide additional flexibility for associates and increase time for essential product replenishment as well as daily cleaning and disinfection of stores. In addition to enhanced cleaning efforts of stores and clear social distancing guidelines for associates, customers, and business partners, increased measures have been taken to ensure cashiers and front-end teams are regularly cleaning their work areas and registers after each customer interaction.

Investment Rose In January

Total investment in building construction increased by 0.5 per cent in January to $15.6 billion, with gains in both the residential and non-residential sectors, says Statistics Canada. Investment in the residential sector remained unchanged in January. Increases in Quebec (5.5 per cent to $2.3 billion), British Columbia (0.1 per cent to $1.9 billion), and Nova Scotia (0.6 per cent to $224 million) offset declines in the seven other provinces. All three components of non-residential investment (commercial, institutional, and industrial) were up in January, rising 1.4 per cent to $5.1 billion. Both Quebec (5.1 per cent to $1.1 billion) and Ontario (1.8 per cent to $1.9 billion) reported notable growth, while Alberta declined 1.5 per cent to $682.1 million.

Confidence Slips In March

Builder confidence slipped in March, says the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HIM). The latest index fell two points to 72 this month. Sentiment levels have remained in a firm range of the low- to mid-70s for the past six months. However, more than half of the builder responses in the March HMI were collected prior to March 4 so the recent stock market declines and the rising economic impact of the coronavirus were not reflected. Overall, 21 per cent of builders reported some disruption in supply due to virus concerns in other countries such as China.

Vinyl Plank Drives Lumber Liquidator Sales

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $274 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.8 per cent over net sales of $269 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Comparable store sales increased 0.4 per cent year-over-year driven by sales growth in the vinyl plank category and offset, in part, by weakness in bamboo and laminate. Gross profit increased 17 per cent to $112 million compared to the year-ago period and gross margin expanded to 40.9 per cent from 35.7 per cent. Net income for the quarter was $16 million compared to a net loss of $57 million and adjusted earnings were $16 million compared to $4.7 million.

March 23, 2020

Retail Sales Up In January

Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month, up 0.4 per cent to $52 billion in January, says Statistics Canada. The increase was primarily attributable to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, both of which were down in December. The other nine subsectors, which comprise the core retail sector, collectively declined 0.3 per cent. Sales were up in four of the 11 subsectors, representing 48 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.3 per cent. The largest contributor to the monthly gain came from the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector (1.8 per cent). After outpacing total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2019 and growing in three of the last four months, core retail sales fell 0.3 per cent in January. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers decreased 1.6 per cent, following a 4.1 per cent increase in December.

Fonthill Retailer Joins Castle

Niagara Building Centre has joined Castle Building Centres. Located in Fonthill, ON, it will offer a full-service home improvement experience to the community and local area. Construction of the new location is well under way with the targeted grand opening to the community in early September.

Consumer Confidence Plummets Among COVID-19 Fears

Canadians are anxious about the coronavirus and this has implications for Canada’s economy given that consumers have been the main engine of economic growth, says the Conference Board of Canada in its March 2020 ‘Index of Consumer Confidence.’ The index dropped 32 points, the largest monthly decline ever, and stands at 89 (compared to 121 in February). There were no positives in the March survey – every region had a double-digit decline in confidence and every question saw a significant weakening in responses. Atlantic Canada and British Columbia each had their largest monthly declines ever. Quebec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan/Manitoba all had their second largest, while Alberta had its fourth largest. Unsurprisingly, views of the future are especially weak. The share of respondents who expect their finances to worsen reached the third-highest level ever. Meanwhile, the share of respondents who expect their job prospects to worsen rose to 32.6 per cent, well above the 21.1 per cent who expected the same just last month. With pessimism toward the future, the share of respondents who see now as a bad time to make a major purchase rose to 43.3 per cent, the highest since the beginning of 2017.

New Brunswick Company Manufactures Hempwood Cabinets

New Brunswick-based cabinet manufacturer Eastland Group of Companies Inc. has partnered with U.S.-based Fibonacci, a company that turns hemp stalks into building-grade hardwood. The two companies have been working together since Fibonacci’s inception in 2019 on developing applications for Hempwood in everyday building materials. Through its affiliated company, Canada Hempwood Inc., Eastland is finalizing an exclusive licensing agreement with Fibonacci to press Hempwood in Canada. Rather than the typical 20-year growth period for traditional hardwoods, hemp grows in a 90-day cycle. Additionally, it is 20 per cent denser than oak and breathes four times more carbon dioxide than other trees, resulting in a reduced environmental impact and stronger product. Eastland says Hempwood has the potential to expand and elevate building material options available on the market. Further options in finish and uniformity in texture will continue to become available as the partnership evolves.

Giant Tiger Implements Temporary Wage Increase

Giant Tiger Stores Limited is temporarily increasing the hourly wages of its store, distribution centre, and trucking employees by $2 per hour for hours worked, retroactive to March 8. The discount retailer is also implementing further measures in its over 250 stores across the country in an effort to increase the protection of customers and staff. Giant Tiger stores have seen an unprecedented amount of activity in the last number of weeks and the retailer plans to hire temporary workers to meet demand.

STONEX, PM Springfest Postponed

STONEX Canada and PM Springfest have been postponed due to ongoing COVID-19 developments. STONEX Canada, which was originally scheduled for May 12 to 14, has not yet been rescheduled. PM Springfest was originally scheduled for April 2 and will now be held June 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit STONEX Canada and PM Springfest

March 20, 2020

Government Support Encourages Chamber

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the federal government’s $27 billion in direct support to Canadian employers and employees and $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of businesses and households through tax deferrals. These measures will help individuals, families and businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis, says Rocco Rossi, its president and CEO. However, he says the federal government needs to further outline to the business community how this will apply to specific industries. “Many business owners, particularly small business owners, are struggling to react to the pace of disruption, as well as necessary efforts by all tiers of government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health,” he says.

Home Depot Expands Paid Time Off

The Home Depot Canada is expanding its paid time off policy to address the needs of hourly associates to help alleviate some of the challenges they may be facing as a result of COVID-19. Starting this week, all hourly full-time associates will receive an additional 80 hours of paid sick or personal time and part-time hourly associates will receive an additional 40 hours of paid sick or personal time. These hours can be taken anytime from now until the end of the year. If associates are diagnosed with COVID-19 or advised by health or government officials to self-quarantine due to direct COVID-19 exposure, they will continue to be paid during that time.

U.S. Construction Shows Big Gain

Residential construction in the U.S. showed big year-over-year gains in February – a month untainted by the coronavirus, says the Commerce Department, with single-family starts producing the largest rate since June of 2007. However, starts were dragged down by sharp declines in new multi-family construction. Total U.S. housing starts in February declined 1.5 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.59 million. The figure for total starts is 39.2 per cent above the February 2019 rate of 1.14 million. Single family housing starts in February were at a rate of 1.07 million, 6.7 per cent above the revised January figure of 1 million. Starts for buildings with five or more units fell 17 per cent to 508,000 in February. However, it says hurdles are on the horizon for home builders as the coronavirus has caused massive disruptions to the U.S. economy.

Royal Adds New Products

Royal Building Products now offers 5” smooth clapboard offerings in Celect Cellular Composite Siding and Celect Canvas Unpainted Siding. These products feature a smooth brushed finish and the same low-maintenance as traditional Celect products. They are available in 15 fade-resistant colors and feature a patented interlocking seam design, which keeps moisture out and almost completely eliminates seams.

March 19, 2020

Business Confidence Tumbles

Small business confidence took a sizable tumble in early March on news of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Its Business Barometer’ shows optimism levels dropped to 49.8 index points, down more than 10 points from its February reading of 60.5 and the lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis. An index level nearer to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential. As well, its survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on small business owners found a quarter say they won't survive a month with a big drop in income.

Home Depot Adjusts Store Hours

The Home Depot Canada is temporarily adjusting store hours to better serve customers and communities in response to COVID-19. Beginning Saturday, stores will close daily at 6 p.m. As an essential retailer to the communities it serves, it is committed to keeping stores open just as it always does during times of crisis and natural disaster to provide homeowners and businesses for urgent needs such as hot water heaters, refrigerators, cleaning supplies, electrical and plumbing repairs, and harsh weather items like tarps, propane, and batteries. The adjusted hours will give stores the ability to staff appropriately and provide additional time to restock shelves and perform cleaning. As many items across store are in high demand, its merchants and supply chain teams are prioritizing replenishment and restocking as quickly as possible.

IKEA Canada Closes Stores

Effective immediately, IKEA Canada will close its stores as a precautionary measure due to the ongoing risk of COVID-19. Working in line with recommendations from local authorities, the retailer has already taken a number of preventative measures including closing its restaurants, bistros, and play areas and increasing the frequency of sanitization and cleaning in its locations. Based on the evolving situation, it has now closed all stores to customers until further notice. For convenience, IKEA will remain open online at IKEA.ca, offering home delivery services as well as store Click & Collect pick-up between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Amazon Prioritizes High-Demand Items

Amazon is changing the way it handles its business during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will begin to prioritize high-demand items like medical supplies and household staples by temporarily suspending the shipment of many other non-essential products. Thesuspension wiill block sellers from sending anything other than the absolute essentials. Items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, hand soap, and other similar products will all be ‘prioritized’ which will enable Amazon to more quickly receive, restock, and ship them out to customers. Prioritized categories are baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care including personal care appliances, groceries, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.

Home Improvement Industry Strengthens

The U.S. home improvement industry is stronger than it has been in over 10 years. A report from Statisa estimates that total U.S. home improvement expenditure amounted to about $394 billion in 2018 and projects total home improvement sales in U.S. will reach $454.6 billion in 2023.It encompasses the sale of building materials, appliances, décor, and other home enhancements, and the services offered by contractors, tradespeople, and other workers who help to build, install, modify, and upgrade homes. With a nationwide shortage of housing and record-high home prices, more homeowners prefer to stay in their properties versus moving or upgrading to new ones. In fact, nearly half of American homeowners are living in the first home they purchased. Of those who have lived there for longer than six years, 61 per cent will choose to renovate instead of move.

Canadian Tire Reduces Hours

Canadian Tire Corporation will reduce operating hours at Canadian Tire Retail and temporarily close its other retail stores, including Mark's/L'Équipeur, SportChek, and PartSource. The temporary closure will be in effect until April 2, at which time operations will be reassessed. During the closure period, full and part-time employees will be paid. Hours at Canadian Tire stores will be reduced to allow for enhanced cleaning and restocking. Gas+ locations will also remain open, with regular operating hours.

March 18, 2020

Canada Teeters On Brink Of Recession

With Canadian economic growth already on precarious footing, the added shock of COVID-19, the rail blockades, and a collapse in oil prices is putting the country on the brink of recession, says the Conference Board of Canada in its ‘Canadian Outlook Executive Summary – Spring 2020.’ As the economy is hit by the slew of additional shocks, the Conference Board expects business investment and exports to post substantial declines and consumer spending to ease. As a result, economic growth will contract by a projected 2.7 per cent in the second quarter. Overall, it expects growth of just 0.3 per cent in 2020 followed by a rebound to 2.5 per cent growth in 2021. “Despite the fact that the global economy is currently shaken at its core, we expect to see growth resume in the third quarter, meaning that the economy will avoid a technical recession,” says Matthew Stewart, director economic forecasting at The Conference Board of Canada. “However, due to the unpredictability of the coronavirus, there are still huge downside risks to the outlook.”

Manufacturing Sales Edge Down Again

Manufacturing sales were down 0.2 per cent to $56.1 billion in January, the fifth consecutive monthly decline, says Statistics Canada. Sales decreased in nine of 21 industries, led by lower sales in the transportation equipment and petroleum and coal products industries. The food industry posted the largest gain. In volumes terms, manufacturing sales decreased 0.4 per cent. Sales were down in six provinces, led by Ontario and British Columbia. Quebec reported the largest monthly increase. Inventory levels for the month increased 0.4 per cent to $87.5 billion, following a 0.6 per cent decline in December. Inventories were up in 12 of 21 industries, led by the machinery (+5.1 per cent) and transportation equipment (+1.5 per cent) industries. These increases were partly offset by declines in the primary metal (-2.6 per cent) and petroleum and coal products (-3.2 per cent) industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.55 in December to 1.56 in January. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

CEOs Want To Slow Down Coronavirus

Jeff Kinnaird, president, Home Depot Canada, is among a group of CEOs from Canada’s largest organizations calling for the singular objective of slowing the pace of transmission of the coronavirus. In an open letter, they say they stand united in a shared battle against COVID-19. Since international experience demonstrates that social distancing is the only effective method and is in the best interests of their employees, their families, and their communities, they ask all employers to step up and do their part to protect the nation’s health and welfare. While this will have significant economic impact on businesses in the short term, it is critical to weathering this storm and will hasten the recovery, says the letter. Among the measures urged are stopping all non-essential travel, whether for personal or business reasons, and enabling employees to practice social distancing by facilitating work-from-home for all non-critical business functions. Signatories include Canada’s major financial institutions and its largest pension plans.

Watson Gloves Launches Recycled Gloves

Watson Gloves will release its WasteNot gloves into the market this spring. The gloves, made for gardening and landscaping, are made of recycled plastic bottles. More than one million plastic bottles are sold every minute and it takes up to 1,000 years for a plastic bottle to decompose. In an effort to become more environmentally-conscious, Watson Gloves reuses plastic bottles for material through WasteNot polyester yarn instead of creating virgin material. For one pair of seamless knit gloves, one 500mL plastic bottle is used, and for one pair of fabric printed gloves, two to three plastic bottles are used.

‘Truro Home & Outdoor Show’ Postponed

Due to current measures being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, event promotion company Master Promotions has postponed its ‘Truro Home & Outdoor show.’ The show was scheduled to take place April 17 to 19 in Truro, NS. Once the Public Health Agency of Canada gives the go ahead to resume holding events, Master Promotions will reschedule the show.

Brampton Brick Has Fourth Quarter Loss

Brampton Brick Limited had a net loss of $11,006 for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease compared to net income of $991 in the fourth quarter of 2018. Revenues for the quarter were $32,919 compared to $34,244 for the same period in 2018, due primarily to a decrease in shipments in the landscape products business segment. This decrease were partially offset by higher revenues from the new concrete block plant acquired in February 2019. The company had an operating loss of $11,059 compared to an operating income of $2,136 last year. The masonry products segment revenues were $22,203, in line with $22,326 in the corresponding quarter of 2018. The landscape products segment revenues were $10,660 compared to $11,883.

March 17, 2020

February Has Strong Home Sales

National home sales were up 5.9 per cent on a month-over-month basis in February, making it one of the larger month-over-month gains of the past decade, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). With transactions up in about 60 per cent of all local markets in February, the big national increase was largely the result of a 15 per cent jump in activity in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA). Many other central and southern Ontario markets also posted sizeable sales gains between January and February. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity stood 26.9 per cent above February 2019, although sales were quite weak a year ago. February 2019 marked a decade-low for the month, so a good part of the big year-over-year gain reflects low levels of activity recorded at the time. February 2020 also benefited from an additional day due to the leap year. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels in about 80 per cent of all local markets, including all large urban markets. The number of newly listed homes jumped 7.3 per cent in February compared to January, more than erasing the declines of late last year. New supply gains were posted in a number of large markets, including Fraser Valley, BC; Calgary and Edmonton, AB; the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor-Essex, and Ottawa, ON; and Montreal, QC.

Employment Legislation May Change Due To Coronavirus

The Ontario government will be introducing legislation to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) in light of COVID-19 and employers need to understand the impact this will have on them, says Hicks Morley in an ‘FTR Now’ update. The proposed changes, if passed, would provide job protection for employees unable to work for a variety of reasons related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Employees will also not need to provide a medical note if they take this leave. Hicks Morley says employers should keep in mind that any policies dealing with employee absenteeism (including a sick leave policy) need to be sufficiently flexible to reflect the realities of the pandemic and should not be punitive in any way. In the absence of company paid sick benefit coverage or where benefits are exhausted, employees may be entitled to sickness benefits under the Employment Insurance Act (Act). The federal government says it will waive the mandatory one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. In addition, employees may be eligible for a number of leave provisions that could apply in a pandemic situation. Employers must also be aware that they cannot threaten to discipline an employee exercising work refusal. Failure to comply may result in fines from the OHSA. Hicks Morley also warns employers to aware of data and cybersecurity risks with the rapid adoption of increased teleworking. The full update is available here

UFP Industries Acquires Quest

An affiliate of UFP Industries (formerly Universal Forest Products, Inc.) has acquired the operating assets of Quest Design & Fabrication and Quest Architectural Millwork, collectively known as Quest. Based in Texas, Quest specializes in designing, fabricating, and installing millwork and case goods for a variety of commercial uses, including builders’ sales centres, design studios, corporate offices, and healthcare facilities. Jon Deutser, president and CEO of Quest, will continue to run the company. “Quest is a great fit in our commercial construction business unit, which is a key component of our new UFP Construction segment,” says Matthew J. Missad, CEO of UFP. “Architectural millwork is part of our growth runway in commercial construction.”

Weiser Expands Line Of Microban Products

Weiser is expanding its partnership with Microban SilverShield technology. Weiser has been the exclusive residential lock partner of Microban, a manufacturer of built-in antimicrobial protection, for the past four years and was the first residential lock manufacturer to offer door hardware with Microban antimicrobial product protection. The product is currently available on select Weiser products and finishes to help inhibit the growth of bacteria on frequently touched door hardware surfaces in the home. The company is now working on expanding the technology into keyless entry and smart lock lines. It plans to release these products later this year.

Master Promotions Postpones Shows

Master Promotions, an event management company, has postponed two of its shows in response to measures being taken to protect public health against the spread of COVID-19. The ‘Fredericton Home Show’ and the ‘Spring Ideal Home Show’ have both been cancelled. The ‘Fredericton Home Show’ was scheduled to take place April 3 to 5 in Fredericton, NB, and the ‘Spring Ideal Home Show’ was to take place March 27 to 29 in Halifax, NS. The company will continue to monitor information from the Public Health Agency of Canada, provincial governments, and regional health authorities and reschedule once the ‘all-clear’ has been received.

National Hardware Show Postponed

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the National Hardware Show, which was originally scheduled to take place May 5 to 7 in Las Vegas, NV, has been rescheduled to September 1 to 3. It will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. “We are working with our partners to find solutions to logistical and operational issues that may arise,” says Randy Field, group vice-president of Reed Exhibitions, the show management group. “We are here to help, but ask for their patience as we ensure all of our customers are taken care of.”

March 16, 2020

Retail Sales Growth In A Funk

Total retail sales growth in Canada is in a funk as it increased just 1.6 per cent for the year 2019 overall, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Retail sales growth in 2019 was the lowest since 2009, when a decline of 2.9 per cent was recorded during the Great Recession. It is also apparent that all the major retail sectors contributed to the slow going in 2019. The underlying 12-month trend has been going downhill for most of the last two years. The shorter term three-month trend remains weak and no relief is in sight going into 2020. Retail sales were up just 1.4 per cent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, the weakest quarter of the year. eCommerce sales represented about 3.5 per cent of Canadian retailers’ sales for 2019. eCommerce sales were up 17.3 per cent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, much higher than location-based retail sales.

Home Hardware Cancels Spring Market

Home Hardware Stores Limited has cancelled its ‘2020 Spring Market,’ which was set to be held in St. Jacobs, ON, from April 5 to 7. “The health and safety of the Home Hardware community, our dealer-owners, team members, suppliers, business partners, and customers is, and will always be, our number one priority,” says Kevin Macnab, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited. “We understand that this is the first time in Home’s 56-year history that a Market has been cancelled. This event hosts over 7,500 attendees from across the country and we believe this precaution is necessary. This was a difficult decision, but the safety of our Home Hardware community and those in the Waterloo Region is paramount.”

Privacy Drives Global Fencing Market

Privacy and a fear of trespassing are two major reasons homeowners buy fencing, says a report by Transparency Market Research. It forecasts that the global fencing market will reach US$62.7 billion by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent during the forecast period. Under type category, the metal fencing segment is expected to witness a massive traction during the forecast period. The dominance of the segment is the result of growing demand for metal fences due to their strength, lower maintenance, and long life. The residential sector is also expected to have substantial growth.

Nova Scotia Home Show Postponed

The Pictou County, NS, home show has been postponed due to the recommendation of the province’s chief medical officer of health, who has advised organizations to limit social gatherings of more than 150 people as a precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19. The event was to take place March 20 to 22. Show organizers say that once the all-clear has been received to resume holding events again, they will look at rescheduling the show.

Commodity Price Deflation Impacts Sales

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $1.76 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.9 per cent over net sales of $1.81 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. The decrease was driven by the impact of deflation in commodity prices. Sales volume grew by an estimated 7.7 per cent with improvement across all three customer segments. Adjusted EBITDA was $109.3 million (6.2 per cent of sales) for the quarter, down 12.6 per cent compared to $125 million (6.9 per cent of sales) in the year-ago period. Net income was $41.4 million compared to $52 million and adjusted net income was $47.2 million compared to $53.1 million.

March 13, 2020

Points Programs Not Important To Brand Loyalty

While loyalty points programs have been a staple for many Canadian retailers, these programs do little to drive customer loyalty, says a report from KPMG in Canada. ‘Redefining customer loyalty: Beyond the points’ says as many as 60 per cent of Canadians say points programs and rewards are not important in keeping them steadfast to a brand. For the vast majority of consumers, loyalty means how likely they are to recommend a company or brand to friends and family (88 per cent), or that they want to – not need to – buy from a specific company (77 per cent). Traditional standards continue to drive brand loyalty. For example, Canadians rank product quality (74 per cent), product consistency (71 per cent), and value for money (60 per cent) as their top three brand loyalty considerations. In addition, a company's commitment to social responsibility is emerging as something that matters to consumers, with nearly 60 per cent of Canadians saying that it's important, very important, or extremely important to them that a company be committed to sustainability/environment.

Lowe's Canada Sets Emissions Target

Lowe's Canada has adopted a target to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40 per cent below its 2016 levels by 2030. Achieving this target will allow the organization to reduce its GHG emissions by 41,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents, which can be compared to removing over 12,500 vehicles from circulation. To achieve its goal, Lowe's Canada is focusing first on the completion of a series of energy-efficiency initiatives that represent a total investment of over $24 million in its distribution centres and corporate stores across the country. During the coming weeks, Lowe's Canada will finish installing building management systems in several of its stores across the country, a project that began in 2018. By the end of 2020, 230 Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores will be equipped with an indoor and outdoor lighting automation system to optimize energy consumption, as well as automate and remotely control stores' heating and cooling so that energy is only used during business hours. The lighting systems in 162 corporate stores from the Lowe's Canada network will also be replaced by LED systems by the end of 2020. In 2022, it is estimated that these two initiatives will allow the organization to reduce its GHG emissions by approximately 8.6 per cent, relative to 2016.

Home Hardware Recognized As ‘Best Managed Company’

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth with the ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’ designation. The ‘2020 Best Managed’ program award winners are among the best-in-class of Canadian owned and managed companies demonstrating investment in talent and technology, innovation in a competitive environment, and an increased focus on global competition. “We are honoured to be recognized for the second consecutive year with Platinum status as one of ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’,” says Kevin Macnab, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited. “At Home Hardware, we believe that strong talent and culture is a competitive advantage and we are proud to celebrate this designation with our teams and dealer-owners.” Winners of the award will be honoured at the annual ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’ gala in Toronto, ON, on April 1.

DEWALT Launches Two Chargers

DEWALT has launched a 12-Amp Fast Charger and 6-Amp Charger. These chargers are designed for use in tough jobsite conditions. The 12-Amp Fast Charger has the highest charge rate supporting the DEWALT 20V MAX and FLEXVOLT lithium ion battery systems, charging a DEWALT FLEXVOLT Battery to 80 per cent capacity in under 45 minutes (battery sold separately). It comes with Stage 1 and Stage 2 LED indicators which communicate to the user about the state of charge of their batteries. The 6-Amp Charger offers versatility for a wide variety of charging needs and charges a DEWALT 5.0Ah Battery to 80 per cent capacity in under 45 minutes (battery sold separately). Like the 12-Amp Fast Charger, the 6-Amp Charger also features the Stage 1 and Stage 2 LED indicators. It also features through-hole mounts, secure latching, double insulation and is compatible with batteries in the DEWALT 20V MAX, FLEXVOLT, and DEWALT 12V MAX systems.

Hicks Leads Canadian Tire Corporation

Greg Hicks is president and chief executive officer of Canadian Tire Corporation. He most recently served as president, Canadian Tire Retail. He succeeds Stephen Wetmore, who will retire.

March 12, 2020

BMR Gets Quebec Member

Ferme-Neuve, QC-based Ferronnerie Meilleur has joined BMR Group. Owners Normand and Jérémie Lachaîne, who have owned the store since 2001, joined the group because they wanted to work with a group that supports dealer-owners and understands how they do business. In addition to getting new exterior signage, the 7,500-square-foot store will begin renovations in the next few months to redesign the interior and achieve a more modern look.

Lowe’s Canada Wins At AQMAT Gala

Several Lowe’s Canada banner stores and employees in Quebec were recognized at the Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) eighth annual ‘Gala Reconnaissance’ held on March 7. Dominic Messier, store manager, L’Entrepôt RONA Granby, received the ‘on the rise’ award; Michèle Rivard, director of operations, RONA Quincaillerie du Plateau, Montreal, received the ‘best manager’ award; RONA Iberville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, received the ‘community’ award; and RONA Matériaux Pont-Masson, Alfred, Casselman, Mirabel, Rigaud, Roxboro, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, and Sainte-Clotilde-de-Châteauguay, received the ‘outlook’ award. In addition, the Gala’s organizing committee honoured André Dion, former CEO of RONA, for his contribution to Quebec’s hardware industry. Serge Kingsley, store manager of L’Entrepôt RONA in Saint-Hyacinthe, Normand Beaumont, assistant manager of dealer-owned RONA Quincaillerie Gauvin, in L’Ancienne-Lorette, along with four other employees, were nominated in the loyalty category to highlight their long careers with the same organization in the Quebec hardware industry.

Bickert Launches Management Services For Small Business

Bickert Management Inc. (BMI) is a management agency and business services boutique based in Calgary, AB. The company has launched its Wellth Management concept for small business which focuses on the overall wellness of clients, on both a personal and professional level. BMI helps businesses and work environments with the goal to run with optimum efficiency and effectiveness. Leveraging virtual environments, economies of scale, pooled and shared resources, peer-to-peer accountability, and cloud technologies, BMI's services include aiding in human resources, day-to-day operations and administration, implementing technology development, honing marketing strategies, resource ROI analysis, and collaborative teamwork. The company was created to offer straightforward solutions to common problems. The Wellth Management program is designed to not only address the challenges of business owners but to help provide them with a well-balanced lifestyle.

INEO To Acquire Newman Loss Prevention

INEO Tech Corp., the developer of The Welcoming System for retailers, plans to acquire Newman Loss Prevention. Newman is an independent reseller of loss prevention products and services in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Based in Calgary, AB, Newman serves over 200 retail locations. INEO's acquisition of Newman includes acquiring ongoing contracts, customer lists, and inventory assets. Dan Newman, the principal of Newman, will join INEO as director of sales for the Prairie region. The transaction is expected to close within 30 days.

Roxburgh Named Director Of Innovation

Jason Roxburgh is director of innovation with Grabber Construction Products. Previously, he was a senior manager in product development and commercialization with USG.

Lignum Acquisition Drives CanWel Sales

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had revenues of $293.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 11.1 per cent over revenues of $264 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales for the distribution segment increased by $32.8 million or 13 per cent year-over-year, largely due to the inclusion of the results from the Lignum acquisition in 2019, the 2018 acquisitions, and the company’s continuing focus on its product mix strategies and target customer base. The company’s sales by product group in the quarter were made up of 55 per cent construction materials, with the remaining balance of sales resulting from specialty and allied products of 37 per cent, and forestry and other of eight per cent. Gross margin dollars increased by 14.4 per cent to $44.2 million for the quarter compared to the year-ago period. Gross margin percentage increased to 15.1 per cent of revenues versus 14.6 per cent last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $18.4 million compared to $8.9 million in 2018. Net earnings increased to $3.4 million in 2019 compared to $370,000 in 2018.

March 11, 2020

Chatbots Will Be Key For Future Retail Spend

Consumer retail spend over chatbots will reach $142 billion by 2024, rising from $2.8 billion in 2019, says a report from Juniper Research. This represents average annual growth of 400 per cent over the next four years. The report says the retail sector is a key beneficiary of advances in NLU (natural language understanding) technologies. It forecasts that over 50 per cent of retail chatbot interactions will be completed successfully by 2024 without the need for human intervention. As a result, the research urges retailers to implement chatbots as part of a wider omnichannel retail strategy in order to maximize their presence on a number of key retail channels. Additionally, the research finds that 80 per cent of global consumer spend over chatbots will be attributable to discrete chatbots by 2024. These are embedded directly into a retailer’s mobile app, rather than accessed via a browser or messaging application. The research anticipates that control over development and the ability to retain company branding will drive discrete chatbots to become the most popular chatbot medium in retail.

Walmart Canada Launches Sixth PenguinPickUp Location

Walmart Canada has opened a Walmart/PenguinPickUp location in Montreal, QC. The location will give downtown customers who do not have a Walmart store nearby the opportunity to order groceries, general merchandise, and other items on Walmart.ca, then pick up their items at the PenguinPickUp site. Orders must be a minimum of $50 and the pickup fee is $2.97 during the week and $4.97 on weekends. This is Walmart’s sixth site with PenguinPickUp in Canada.

AQMAT Awards Best In Quebec

AQMAT, Quebec’s hardware and building supply association, celebrated the best in the industry in Quebec at its ‘8th Gala Reconnaissance,’ held March 7 in Montreal, QC. Nearly 450 guests attended this year’s event, which also celebrated the organization’s 80th anniversary. Among the winners this year was Dominic Messier, general manager of RONA L'Entrepôt Granby, with the ‘Rising Star Award.’ Winners of the ‘Loyalty Award’ were Jean Barabé of BMR Pierre Naud, Shawinigan; Normand Beaumont of Quincaillerie Gauvin - RONA, L'Ancienne-Lorette; Marielle Charrois of Roberge et Fils - Home Hardware, La Sarre; Vicky Corriveau of TIMBER MART Emile Bilodeau et Fils, Saint-Bernard; Serge Kingsley of RONA, St-Hyacinthe; and Régis Tremblay of Quincaillerie Tremblay et Laroche (CASTLE), Métabetchouan. The winner of the ‘Manager Award’ was Michèle Rivard, director of operations at Quincaillerie du Plateau - RONA, Montreal. The ‘Specialty Award’ went to Home Hardware Campbellton, NB. The ‘Society Award’ went to RONA Iberville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu; and Home Depot Saint-Romuald, Lévis. The ‘Perspective Award’ went to Saint-Siméon Renovation Centre - Home Hardware, Saint-Siméon-de-Bonaventure. The ‘Expansion Award’ went to Matériaux Pont-Masson (RONA) Alfred, Casselman, Mirabel, Ste-Clotilde, Rigaud, Roxboro, and Salaberry-de-Valleyfield; and Quincaillerie Laval Home Hardware, L'Épiphanie, Fabreville, and Ste-Marthe-sur-le-lac. The ‘Legacy Award’ went to the Couture family of Couture TIMBER MART - Richmond, Sherbrooke, and Danville.

IHA Cancels Show Amid COVID-19 Concerns

The International Housewares Association (IHA) has cancelled its ‘Inspired Home Show 2020’ due to concerns regarding the ongoing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The show was to take place March 14 to 17 in Chicago, IL. “Being a global event, the health risk of having our international community come together next week was simply too great,” says Derek Miller, president of the IHA. He says the IHA board of directors and staff will work together over the next several weeks to measure the financial impact on the industry and the association. Once an analysis is complete, additional information regarding exhibitor refunds will be made available. The ‘Inspired Home Show 2021’ will be held March 13 to 16 at McCormick Place Complex in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit Inspired Home Show

Amazon Offers ‘Just Walk Out’ Technology

Amazon now offers its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology to other retailers. The technology enables shoppers to enter a store, grab what they want, and just leave; they do not need to download an app or create an Amazon account. Based on the experience of Amazon Go, the system uses a combination of technologies to eliminate checkout lines. The system detects what products shoppers take from or return to shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When done shopping, they can just walk out and their credit card will be charged for the items in their virtual cart. Amazon will provide all the necessary technologies to enable checkout-free shopping in a retailer's store and offer retailers 24/7 support. Retailers will still employ store associates; their roles will just shift to focus on more valuable activities.

March 10, 2020

Vancouver Leads Building Permit Gains

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities increased four per cent to $9.2 billion in January, says Statistics Canada. Increases were reported in six provinces, led by British Columbia (+52.1 per cent to $2.2 billion). The majority of January's national increase in the value of building permits was in British Columbia (+$751 million), largely due to the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver. The value of permits increased in the CMA of Vancouver by 81.8 per cent, prior to increases in development fees, which came into effect on January 15. Meanwhile, Quebec (-$366 million) and Ontario (-$161 million) reported the largest provincial declines after strong activity in December. The residential sector reported strong gains for the month, increasing 12.7 per cent from December to $5.8 billion. Permits for multi-family dwellings were up 17.1 per cent to $3.4 billion, largely due to multiple projects in the CMA of Vancouver. The total value of permits for single-family dwellings increased seven per cent to $2.4 billion, mainly due to housing developments in Ontario (+$105 million) and Quebec (+$48 million). The value of non-residential permits was down 7.8 per cent to $3.5 billion in January. This decrease was largely due to a decline in the total value of institutional permits (-30.5 per cent to $732 million) following strong gains in December.

February Housing Starts Decline

The trend in housing starts was 208,525 units in February, a slight decline compared to 211,153 units in January, 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 210,069 units in February, a decrease of 1.9 per cent from 214,031 units in January. The SAAR of urban starts also decreased by 1.9 per cent in February to 199,304 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 6.1 per cent to 146,072 units while single-detached urban starts increased by 11.9 per cent to 53,232 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 10,765 units.

HDI Acquires Diamond Hardwoods

British Columbia-based Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) has, through its subsidiary Hardwoods Specialty Products US LP, purchased substantially all of the assets and assumed certain liabilities of Diamond Hardwoods. Diamond is a wholesale distributor with locations in California. It will operate under the Hardwoods brand name going forward.

Canfor Forest Tenure Transfer Complete

Further to Canfor Corporation’s previous announcement regarding the transfer of its Vavenby forest tenure to Interfor, the company says the transfer is now complete. The transfer was approved by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development in late February.

eCommerce Leads Costco Sales

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $38.26 billion for the second quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, up 10.5 per cent over net sales of $34.63 billion in the second quarter of its 2019 year. Comparable sales in Canada were up 8.9 per cent year-over-year and eCommerce sales were up 28.4 per cent. Net income was $931 million for the quarter compared to $889 million in the year-ago period. EBIT was $1.28 billion compared to $1.22 billion last year.

March 9, 2020

Home Hardware Gets Three Quebec Members

Three Quebec dealers have joined Home Hardware Stores Limited, which now has over 135 stores in the province. The new members are Quincaillerie Limoilou in Québec City, QC, a Home Hardware store; Matériaux Manic in Baie Comeau, QC, a Home Hardware Building Centre; and Réno Mat St-Etienne in St-Etienne-de-Lauzon, QC, a Home Hardware Building Centre. Dominic Poulin of Quincaillerie Limoilou joined Home Hardware as a dealer-owner in February 2020. This store is situated in the heart of Quebec City and has been in operation since 1992. Founded by Dominic Poulin’s parents, Dominic operates the store with his wife Audrey and son Mathieu. Matériaux Manic in Baie Comeau joined the Home Hardware family after converting banners in February 2020. Michel Charette and his wife Élise Caron have owned and operated the store since 2012. Michel and Élise are expanding and remerchandising the store. Réno Mat St-Etienne in St-Etienne-de-Lauzon will reopen its doors under the Home banner in April 2020. The location was previously a Home Hardware Building Centre that was sold to another group. The store eventually closed but will now have a new life under completely new ownership with Jean-Sébastien St-Pierre who saw the opportunity to re-open this once very successful location. Jean-Sébastien has extensive retail experience having previously operated another building centre in Matagami, QC.

acpi, Masco Cabinetry Become Cabinetworks Group

ACProducts, Inc. (acpi) has completed its acquisition of Masco Cabinetry. The two companies have come together to form Cabinetworks Group. Cabinetworks has a diverse portfolio of cabinetry brands spanning the full spectrum of framed and frameless products in every price point. The new company says its unified resources mean best-in-class processes in product development, supply chain, manufacturing, logistics, sales, and marketing. Former Masco Cabinetry CEO, Joe Gross, has been appointed CEO of Cabinetworks Group.

Lowe’s Canada Kicks Off Women Build

On March 6, Lowe’s Canada partnered with Habitat for Humanity Quebec and held its ‘Women Build’ kick-off of the renovation of a five-plex in the Côte-Saint-Paul neighbourhood in the Montreal, QC, Sud-Ouest borough. The renovation was part of the ‘International Women Build Week,’ which unites approximately 6,000 women volunteers in more than 235 communities in Canada and the U.S., from March 1 to 8, to highlight the global need for safe and affordable housing. Lowe’s Canada and its Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot banners donated more than $2 million in products to support the nonprofit organization over the past decade. Globally, Lowe’s Companies has committed more than $71.1 million to support Habitat for Humanity since 2003, helping more than 6,500 Habitat partner families improve their living conditions.

Miele Named CFO

Jason Miele is senior vice-president and chief financial officer of James Hardie Industries plc. He has over 13 years of experience with James Hardie and has served in a number of roles including, most recently, as vice-president – investor and media relations, a position he has held since in February 2017.

Wayfair Revenue Up, Earnings Down

Online retailer Wayfair Inc. had net revenue of $2.53 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, up 25.8 per cent over net revenue of $2.01 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Direct retail net revenue increased 26.5 per cent year-over-year and international revenue increased 37.1 per cent. Overall gross profit for the quarter was $577.4 million or 22.8 per cent of total net revenue. The company had a net loss of $330.2 million compared to a net loss of $143.8 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $180 million compared to a loss of $53 billion.

March 6, 2020

Vancouver Home Sales Up, Inventory Down

Home sales in Greater Vancouver, BC, totalled 2,150 in February, a 44.9 per cent increase from 1,484 sales in February 2019 and a 36.9 per cent increase from 1,571 homes sold in January, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). However, sales were 15.6 per cent below the 10-year February sales average. “Home buyer demand again saw strong year-over-year increases in February while the total inventory of homes for sale struggled to keep pace. This was most pronounced in the condominium market,” says Ashley Smith, president of REBGV. There were 4,002 detached, attached, and apartment homes newly listed for sale in Metro Vancouver in February. This represents a 2.8 per cent increase compared to the 3,892 homes listed in February 2019 and a 3.4 per cent increase compared to January 2020 when 3,872 homes were listed. The total number of homes currently listed for sale in Metro Vancouver is 9,195, a 20.7 per cent decrease compared to February 2019 (11,590) and a 6.7 per cent increase compared to January 2020 (8,617).

January U.S. Construction Up Over December

Total U.S. construction spending during January was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,369.2 billion, 1.8 per cent above December, says the U.S. Commerce Department. The January figure is 6.8 per cent above January 2019. Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,022.7 billion, 1.5 per cent above December. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $554.8 billion in January, 2.1 per cent above December. Non-residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $468.0 billion in January, 0.8 per cent above December. In January, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $346.5 billion, 2.6 per cent above December.

All Weather Windows Achieves Platinum Status Once More

All Weather Windows retains its Platinum Club status for another year as part of ‘Canada's Best Managed Companies.’ Platinum Club status membership is given to organizations that have been named ‘Best Managed Company’ for seven years or more. All Weather Windows has achieved this status for 12 consecutive years. Sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith's School of Business, and TMX Group, the title recognizes excellence in private Canadian-owned companies that demonstrate sustained growth, strong financial and management performance, and overall organizational success.

Strong Growth Forecast For Air Humidifier Market

Strong Growth Forecast For Air Humidifier Market

The global air humidifier market is expected to grow from US$2.56 billion in 2017 to $4.10 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 per cent during the forecast period, says a report by Fior Markets. Rising prevalence of diseases such as asthma, sinusitis, and other allergies have generated awareness among consumers to maintain specific humidity in air by using humidifier appliances. Changing weather conditions has further driven the commercial and residential air humidifier market size as has a rise in the construction industry. However, the noise produced by air humidifiers may limit their use which may obstruct the growth of the market. The report says industry leaders are providing better opportunities and continuously focused on new product developments and venture capital investments to capture market share. The portable segment dominated the market with the highest share of 60.6 per cent in 2017 and are highly preferred by consumers. The residential segment dominated the market in 2017, valued at $1.67 billion.

Baker Assumes Lead Role

Richard Baker has taken over the role of chief executive officer with HBC. He will also keep his current titles of governor and executive chairman. Baker bought HBC in 2008 and took the company private in 2012. This move comes after he has led company shareholders to become a private company again.

March 5, 2020

Bank Of Canada Lowers Rate Due To COVID-19

The Bank of Canada lowered its target for the overnight rate by 50 basis points to 1¼ per cent. While Canada’s economy has been operating close to potential with inflation on target, the COVID-19 virus is a material negative shock to the Canadian and global outlooks, and monetary and fiscal authorities are responding, it says. Before the outbreak, the global economy was showing signs of stabilizing, as the Bank had projected in its January Monetary Policy Report (MPR). However, COVID-19 represents a significant health threat to people in a growing number of countries. In consequence, business activity in some regions has fallen sharply and supply chains have been disrupted. This has pulled down commodity prices and the Canadian dollar has depreciated. Global markets are reacting to the spread of the virus by repricing risk across a broad set of assets, making financial conditions less accommodative. It is likely that as the virus spreads, business and consumer confidence will deteriorate, further depressing activity. It is becoming clear that the first quarter of 2020 will be weaker than the Bank had expected. The drop in Canada’s terms of trade, if sustained, will weigh on income growth. Meanwhile, business investment does not appear to be recovering as was expected following positive trade policy developments. In addition, rail line blockades, strikes by Ontario teachers, and winter storms in some regions are dampening economic activity in the first quarter.

Strong February Home Sales In GTA

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) had strong home sales growth in February, says the Toronto Real Estate Board in its ‘Market Year In Review and Outlook Report.’ There were 7,256 residential transactions through in February, representing a 45.6 per cent increase compared to a 10-year sales low in February 2019. However, February sales were still below the 2017 record result. Year-over-year sales growth, for the GTA as a whole, was strongest for ground-oriented home types. After preliminary seasonal adjustment, sales also exhibited positive momentum, up by 14.8 per cent compared to January. The report forecasts a strong year calling for 97,000 sales for 2020. There were 10,613 new listings in February, a 7.9 per cent increase compared to February 2019. This moderate annual growth rate was much smaller than that reported for sales, which means market conditions tightened considerably over the past year.

Corbeil To Launch Store Inside BMR Dealer

Corbeil Opens Store In BMR Dealer

Quebec home appliance network Corbeil and BMR Group have launched a pilot project to deliver a fully integrated and complementary product offering under one roof. Corbeil will have a store inside the Potvin & Bouchard home improvement centre in Jonquière, QC, a BMR Group property. The store will also feature advisors to make it easier for customers to incorporate Corbeil appliances into their home improvement design projects. While Potvin & Bouchard is remodelled to accommodate the new Corbeil section, it will also get a facelift inside and out, including a new storefront and redesigned aisles. The project will go live this spring.

Consumers Confused About Fuel Product Offerings

Consumers remain confused about the multiple fuel product offerings in the marketplace, says a study by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). The U.S. study shows lack of education, inadequate labeling, and dangerous marketing tactics around new fuel products, such as higher ethanol-blended gasoline, are likely causing consumers to mis-fuel. The study says more than one in five outdoor power equipment owners are currently mis-fueling and one quarter have done so in the past. OPEI discusses the causes and fallout of mis-fueling and problems consumers have with battery-powered products in ‘Consumers Confused About Fuel Product Offerings,’ available here on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Huttig Building Products Has Slow Quarter

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $180.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of 8.1 per cent compared to net sales of $196.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Millwork sales decreased 7.2 per cent year-over-year, building product sales decreased 7.8 per cent, and wood product sales decreased 15.3 per cent. Gross margin decreased 6.6 per cent compared to the year-ago quarter to $35.6 million. Gross margin as a percentage of sales increased to 19.7 per cent compared to 19.4 per cent last year. The company had a net loss of $9.4 million for the quarter compared to a net loss of $6.9 million last year.

March 4, 2020

Peavey Buys Ace Canada Assets

Peavey takes on Ace Canada

Lowe’s Canada has signed an Asset Purchase Agreement with Peavey Industries LP whereby Peavey will purchase the assets of the Ace Canada business from RONA Inc., a company that is part of the Lowe’s Canada group. As part of the transaction, RONA Inc. will assign to Peavey Industries the licence and distribution agreements between RONA Inc. and Ace Hardware International Holdings, Ltd., a subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation for the Ace Hardware brands in Canada. RONA Inc. will also sell the corporate Ace hardware store located in The Pas, MB. In addition, the agreement provides for the assignment of the agreements of the 104 independent Ace Hardware stores in Canada, as well as for a six-month transition period during which Peavey Industries will gradually assume responsibility for the supply of the stores, the Ace Canada retail operating systems, and the Ace Canada website. Lowe’s Canada will continue to act as a wholesaler of lumber and building materials for Peavey Industries’ independent dealers after the transition period.

Home Hardware To Test Well Made Here POP Displays

Home Hardware Stores Limited, a partner of the Well Made Here program, is testing new POP (point-of-purchase) displays and end cap merchandising to further support the program. The Well Made Here logo will also appear in Home Hardware print and web flyers across Canada. As a 100 per cent Canadian owned and operated company, Home Hardware has showcased the Well Made Here program in its stores across Canada to highlight Canadian manufactured products and bring the program to local communities. Accredited products are hardware articles or building materials that meet industry standards and building code rules and for which at least 51 per cent of direct manufacturing costs (materials and labour work for production, assembly and packaging) were incurred in Canada.

Flashlight Features Class IIIa Laser

Klein Tools has launched its Rechargeable Focus Flashlight with Laser, a rechargeable LED flashlight that features an onboard Class IIIa laser. The red laser can pinpoint out-of-reach objects while a twist focus bezel concentrates the light beam where it’s needed. It has a magnetic end cap for hands-free use and has a 12-hour runtime on low (125 lumens) or six-hour runtime on high (350 lumens). A battery gauge notifies the user when the battery is low and the unit is rechargeable with a micro-USB cord (included).

Trex Makes Changes

Bryan H. Fairbanks will be president and chief executive officer of Trex Company, Inc., effective April 29. He is currently executive vice-president and chief financial officer. He will succeed James E. Cline, who is retiring. Cline will assume the position of chairman of the board.

Reaume Named Chief People Officer

Marty Reaume is chief people officer , a newly created role, with Lightspeed POS. She has more than 15 years of experience with technology companies such as Twilio, Fitbit, and Netsuite.

March 3, 2020

BMR Gets Ontario Member

Lambton BMR Pro

A building centre in Lambton County, ON, has joined BMR Group. Dave and Kristen Van Stempvoort, who have owned the store for the past five years, decided to change groups after the store operated under a different banner for almost 10 years. The store will get new exterior signage and a redesign of the interior. The name will be changed to Lambton BMR Pro and feature the BMR Pro banner, an iteration of the traditional BMR banner developed to meet the needs of construction and renovation professionals and seasoned do-it-yourselfers.

Maibec To Acquire LP Facility, CanExel Brand

Siding system producer Maibec plans to acquire LP Building Solutions’ East River, NS, facility and assets and brand rights for CanExel, a fibre-based siding product manufactured at the facility. The transaction is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2020. With this move and the recently announced conversion of the LP Roaring River, NC, plant to a strand prefinishing facility, LP’s siding business will focus exclusively on its strand-based siding products. “This strategic decision to remove fibre products from our portfolio allows us to mobilize additional resources, increase focus and commitment for our LP SmartSide strand siding technology, and accelerate growth of LP SmartSide ExpertFinish, our new line of prefinished strand-based siding,” says Neil Sherman, executive vice-president and general manager of siding with LP.

ACCEO Acquires Informatique Côté Coulombe

ACCEO Solutions Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of N. Harris Computer Corporation, has acquired Informatique Côté Coulombe Inc. (ICC Technologies), a developer of enterprise resource planning software products for the construction, distribution, retail, and printing sectors. This acquisition will grow ACCEO’s market share in Quebec and Canada. The addition of ICC Technologies’ solutions to ACCEO’s portfolio also expands the range of solutions offered and strengthens its position, particularly for the hardware and building materials industry. ICC Technologies’ solutions will continue to be developed and supported.

Bed Bath & Beyond Implements Restructuring Program

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. has implemented a strategic restructuring program as part of the next phase of its work to rebuild the foundation of the business and create a sustainable, durable business model. The restructuring program includes a reorganization and simplification of its field operations, significant reduction in management positions across the business, and outsourcing of several functions. As part of the program, the company has commenced a workforce reduction of 500 positions. It is also taking steps to reconstruct and modernize its operating model, accelerating its transformation and balancing near-term priorities to generate savings while reinvesting for future growth.

DEWALT Launches Battery Identifying Technology

DEWALT has launched POWER DETECT Technology which is available on four new 20V MAX XR Brushless Tools – a 7-1/4-inch circular saw, reciprocating saw, 5-inch angle grinder, and hammer drill. Electronics in tools with POWER DETECT Technology can identify the battery the tool is paired with and adjust power output accordingly. The tools also feature upgraded motors and components. In addition to updates offered within the tools themselves, they are also paired (in kitted units only) with the recently launched 20V MAX 8.0Ah battery. Each tool will come standard with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract, and a 90-day money back guarantee.

FCL Revenues Down Four Per Cent

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) had revenue of $9.2 billion for 2019, down four per cent over revenue of $9.6 billion for 2018. Earnings for the year were $959 million compared to $789 million last year; $649 million was returned to local co-ops and their communities. Highlights of 2019 include the announcement of a new fertilizer terminal in Alberta, the acquisition of the Terra Grain Fuels ethanol production facility in Saskatchewan, a capital investment of $237 million to the Co-op Refinery Complex, and receiving the ‘Large Co-operative of the Year Award’ from Co-operative and Mutuals Canada.

March 2, 2020

Lowe’s Canada Unites Women For Affordable Housing

Lowe’s Canada, Habitat for Humanity ‘International Women Build Week

On March 6, Habitat for Humanity Québec and Lowe’s Canada will bring together 20 women from the Lowe’s Canada network to kick off the renovation process of a five-plex located in the Côte-Saint-Paul neighbourhood in the Montreal Sud-Ouest borough. This event is part of the ‘International Women Build Week,’ an international initiative carried out by Lowe’s Companies and Habitat for Humanity which will unite approximately 6,000 women volunteers in more than 235 communities in Canada, the U.S., and India, from March 1 to 8, to highlight the global need for safe and affordable housing. A prelude to International Women’s Day, the global event aims to build and improve 540 homes while raising awareness of housing issues facing women and their families. Lowe’s Canada and its Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot banners have donated more than $2 million in products to support the nonprofit organization over the past decade. Globally, Lowe’s Companies has committed more than $71.1 million to support Habitat for Humanity since 2003, helping more than 6,500 Habitat partner families improve their living conditions.

RCC Encouraged By Ontario Battery Recycling Model

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) says it is encouraged by the government of Ontario’s announcement to move battery recycling to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) for oversight and management. Under this recycling model, producers of products and packaging will now be required take on the full cost to recycle their goods and will need to meet annual recycling targets. Currently, end-of-life recycling can add up to 10 per cent of the total before tax costs to a product. This has seen retailers in Ontario lose sales to out-of-province and U.S.-based online retailers who can offer lower prices that do not include recycling charges. RCC says it is confident the resulting reduction in red tape will allow business to both effectively achieve Ontario's recycling objectives while lowering the cost of the price of batteries for Ontario customers – customers who currently pay for the most expensive battery recycling program in the world.

Haier Smart Home Resumes Production

Home appliance manufacturer Haier Smart Home Co., Ltd., which had put strict measures in place for the control and prevention of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), has reopened all its domestic factories in China and returned to full capacity. Despite limited capacity brought on by restrictions, the company did manage to maintain normal production levels during the outbreak. Since February 17, all of Haier's domestic factories - except three in Wuhan - have resumed production with additional strict measures to prevent and control the spread of the epidemic, on top of those recommended by the Chinese government. As of February 25, the three Wuhan factories have also reopened with similar measures in place to keep workers safe. In addition to reopening factories, Haier's key domestic suppliers are gradually resuming normal business operations. To date, more than 90 per cent of suppliers have reopened their doors with an 80 per cent work resumption rate and a 95 per cent guarantee rate. The guarantee rate was expected to reach 100 per cent by the end of February.

Plank Decking Is Good For Environment

LANAI Premium Plank Decking

LANAI Premium Plank Decking is a PVC decking product with smaller than traditional gaps and long and narrow deck planks with hidden fasteners. It features contoured seams, non-repeating wood grains, natural wood tones, and has four-sided capping. This capping makes the product resistant to slipping, fading, stains, and scratches. LANIA is low-waste, uses zero trees or fillers, is 100 per cent recyclable, and the company plants a tree for every bundle sold. LANAI has a lifetime warranty on product structure and a 25-year warranty against fading and staining.

Canfor Forest Tenure Transfer Approved

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development has consented to the transfer of Canfor Corporation’s Vavenby forest tenure for cutting rights to Interfor. The “decision demonstrates the British Columbia’ government’s support of the interior forest sector as it continues the difficult process of reducing production capacity to align with the available timber supply,” says Don Kayne, president and CEO of Canfor. “We are working to sell the Vavenby mill site, which will provide the best opportunity for future economic activities and employment in the local communities.” The agreement with Interfor is expected to close before the end of the first quarter.

New Date Set For Cologne Hardware Fair

‘EISENWARENMESSE the International Hardware Fair,’ which was postponed this year, has been rescheduled to February 21 to 24, 2021. The date was set in consultation with the industry and is meeting with broad acceptance by the exhibitors, says the show manager, Koelnmesse. All existing contracts with the exhibitors remain valid; hall occupancy for 2021 reflects the existing plans from 2020 on a 1:1 basis. Refunds, as necessary, will be automatically issued. The biennial event takes place in Cologne, Germany.

2019 Sollio Sales Top $7 Billion

Sollio Cooperative Group (formerly La Coop fédérée) had consolidated sales of $7.282 billion in 2019, up $766 million from consolidated sales in 2018. Earnings before patronage refunds and income taxes were $79.4 million, equity and preferred shares were $1.8 billion, and assets were $3.9 billion. Earnings were lower than in previous years, however, affected partly by global geopolitical and trade tensions. The retail division (BMR Group), had EBIT of $16.7 million, compared with $16.9 million last year. Tighter controls and more advantageous trade agreements helped improve margin, but earnings were offset by an increase in some operating expenses, including transportation costs as a result of the labour shortage and storage costs due to a need for additional space. In 2019, Sollio Cooperative Group welcomed 60 new independent BMR retailers that will now be able to reap the benefits of the cooperative model.

February 28, 2020

Retailers Need To Be Prepared For Weather Events

Weather events can happen quickly and hardware and lumber and building material retailers need to be prepared to respond leading into an event, during it, and afterwards, says Angel Menchaca McKrola, of Tynedale Advisors. Speaking on ‘Marketing through the storm: What to do when disaster strikes’ at the Orgill Spring Dealers Market, she said during these events the local hardware store can be the go-to resource for these communities. For the most part, there is advance warning of big storms and heat waves. The first thing the retailer needs to do is prepare its people, starting with the creation of a crisis communication team which can help in the planning of the response. Retailers should also prioritize the safety, health, and well-being of its team members before anything else is done. These team members should have access to digital communications tools at home and at work. It is important to not put out any messages that seem tone deaf to the situation, advertising sun umbrellas for sale during torrential downpours and flooding situations. She said this is a sales pitch free opportunity with the community where the retailer can say what they have to help in terms of store hours and helpful supplies, products, and services. They must also be willing to direct customers to their competition if they no longer have products in stock to deal with the situation. Retailers want to be seen as helping, not profiting at these times, she said.

Coronavirus Likely To Impact Canadian Economy

Near-term growth in the Canadian economy should remain steady, although COVID-10 (novel coronavirus) may be an emerging risk to the outlook, says the Conference Board of Canada in its ‘Provincial Outlook Forecast Summary.’ At this stage, however, it is still difficult to estimate the magnitude of the outbreak, but there’s little doubt that Canada’s economy will be impacted, especially the tourism sector. The report forecasts that the Canadian economy should expand by 1.8 per cent this year and 1.9 per cent in 2021 as energy investment recovers and solid disposable income growth supports household spending. Steady economic growth at the national level is masking regional economic growth disparities this year. British Columbia and P.E.I. are set to post growth above three per cent in 2020, while Saskatchewan’s economy is expected to grow by just half a percentage point. Provincial growth prospects are expected to converge in 2021, with only a couple of provinces forecast to grow at a rate significantly different from that for the Canadian economy as a whole.

La Coop fédérée Changes Name To Sollio Cooperative Group

La Coop fédérée has changed its name to Sollio Cooperative Group. “Since its inception, our cooperative has driven change in agri-food industry practices and contributed to the development of rural communities via its cooperative business model,” says Ghislain Gervais, president of Sollio Cooperative Group's board of directors. “Now we are changing our identity to better reflect that contribution to sustainability of farm families and regions by seizing business opportunities throughout the agriculture and agri-food value chain.” The organization has also implemented a new brand strategy. The new Sollio Cooperative Group brand evokes the words soil, sun, and solidarity. It intends to conjure up notions of cooperation and collaboration but also courage, stewardship, and lasting wealth. Through its renewed commitment to society, Sollio Cooperative Group aims to show that its growth is synonymous with solidarity and optimism for the future. Founded in 1922, Sollio Cooperative Group is one of the largest agri-food enterprises in Quebec. Its activities are divided into three divisions: Olymel L.P., Sollio Agriculture, and Groupe BMR Inc.

fediyma Rebrands As HIMA

The European Federation of DIY Manufacturers (fediyma) has rebranded as the Home Improvement Manufacturers Association (HIMA) with an expanded industry mission. HIMA is an international network of over 1000 suppliers and manufacturers of home improvement, DIY, gardening, building materials, and furniture industries across the globe. The organization has also implemented an updated strategy to “enable members to face the future.” This mission stands on three pillars – networking, knowledge, and lobbying.

Three Per Cent Increase In Boise Sales

Boise Cascade Company had sales of $1.10 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, up three per cent over sales of $1.07 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales in the wood products segment were down four per cent year-over-year and sales in the building materials segment were up seven per cent. Overall net income was $14.6 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $72.2 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $45.2 million compared to a loss of $9 million last year. Earnings were positively impacted by favourable weather which allowed homebuilders to maintain solid activity levels, driving product demand.

Lawson Products Has Strong Quarter

MRO product distributor Lawson Products, Inc. had net sales of $88.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.7 per cent compared to net sales of $86.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales growth reflected continued growth in The Bolt Supply House. Adjusted EBITDA was $7.3 million for the quarter, up 45 per cent over $5.1 million last year, impacted by higher sales and cost controls. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 8.3 per cent, up 240 basis point compared to 5.9 per cent last year. Operating income was up 55 per cent to $28.6 million from $18.4 million while gross profit increased $0.7 million to $46.9 million.

February 27, 2020

Busy January In GTA New Home Market

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market saw a busier than usual January, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 2,106 total new home sales in January, which was up 65 per cent from January 2019 and 14 per cent above the 10-year average. January new home sales included 1,100 condominium apartments, stacked townhouses, and loft units, up 33 per cent from January 2019 and 12 per cent above the 10-year average. Sales of single-family homes, with 1,006 units sold, were up 126 per cent from January 2019 and 16 per cent above the 10-year average. “The momentum that we saw building in the GTA new home market as 2019 progressed has carried over into early 2020,” says Patricia Arsenault, executive vice-president, data solutions at Altus Group. “Both end-user buyers and investors are showing more confidence than a year ago, which suggests 2020 will be another solid year for new home sales.”

Labour Shortage Still Affecting Private Sector Firms

Canada's private sector continued to face a record-high job vacancy rate of 3.2 per cent for the sixth consecutive quarter, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its ‘Help Wanted’ report. In total, 434,000 private sector jobs sat vacant for at least four months in the fourth quarter of 2019 – 2,400 more than the third quarter of 2019 and 9,000 more than a year ago. Quebec (4.1 per cent) and British Columbia (3.6 per cent) continued the trend of posting the highest vacancy rates in the country. Ontario maintained its 3.2 per cent vacancy rate along the national average and New Brunswick came in just under at three per cent. Nova Scotia (2.5 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (2.4 per cent) were the only provinces to post increases, gaining 0.1 per cent each over last quarter. Vacancy rates in Manitoba (2.4 per cent), Saskatchewan (2.2 per cent), Alberta (2.1 per cent). and Prince Edward Island (1.9 per cent) did not change and remained below the national average.

NRF Forecasts Strong 2020 Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales are forecast to increase between 3.5 and 4.1 per cent to more than $3.9 trillion in 2020, despite uncertainty from the lingering trade war, coronavirus, and the presidential election, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). “The nation’s record-long economic expansion is continuing, and consumers remain the drivers of that expansion,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “With gains in household income and wealth, lower interest rates, and strong consumer confidence, we expect another healthy year ahead. There are always wild cards we cannot control like coronavirus and a politically charged election year. But when it comes to the fundamentals, our economy is sound and consumers continue to lead the way.” Preliminary results show that retail sales during 2019 grew 3.7 per cent over 2018 to $3.79 trillion. The numbers include online and other non-store sales and exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants.

Fencing Market Forecast To Grow 5.3 Per Cent Per Year

The global fencing market is expected to reach more than US$40,730 million by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3 per cent during the forecast period, says a study by Polaris Market Research. North America is anticipated to be the significant contributor during the forecast period. An evolving construction industry, an increase in disposable income, and the renovation of residential buildings are expected to drive the market during the period. Other driving factors include the development of public infrastructure and growing safety concerns. The evolving trend of design and aesthetics continues to contribute positively to market growth. The main materials for manufacturing fences are metal, plastic, wood, and concrete. In 2017, the metal fencing segment was the major contributor. However, the comparatively lower cost of plastic fences is expected to give them an advantage over other fencing materials. They are also lightweight and can be easily installed without any professional assistance.

Taiga Founding Member Passes Away

Founding member of what has become Taiga Building Products Ltd., Cam White, passed away February 21. White created the company with the help of several friends and built it into a successful business that also gave back to the community and the families of its employees. In a statement, Taiga says “Cam worked tirelessly to get the job done and impacted so many lives along his journey.” This contribution was recognized by the WRLA when he received the ‘Industry Achievement Award’ in 2002. White was CEO of Taiga from 2010 to 2015 and remained a director on the board since then.

Lowe’s Earnings Turn Around

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $509 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase compared to a net loss of $824 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Earnings included pre-tax operating costs and charges of $185 million related to the company’s strategic review of its Canadian operations and closure of its Mexico business. Sales for the quarter were $16 billion compared to $15.6 billion in the year-ago quarter and comparable sales increased 2.5 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 2.6 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin decreased 22 basis points to 31.08 per cent while adjusted gross margin increased 40 basis points to 31.89 per cent. Operating margin increased 961 basis points to 5.98 per cent while adjusted operating margin increased 70 basis points to 7.15 per cent year-over-year.

February 26, 2020

Building Construction Investment Edges Up

Total investment in building construction edged up 0.5 per cent from November to $15.6 billion in December, with gains in both the residential and non-residential sectors, says Statistics Canada. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction was largely unchanged at $12.8 billion. The total value of investment increased by 3.4 per cent to $181.8 billion from 2018 to 2019. Residential investment was up in five provinces in December, with notable gains in Ontario (+2.0 per cent to $4.5 billion) and Alberta (+3.2 per cent to $1.1 billion). Nationally, investment in multi-unit dwellings increased 2.8 per cent to $5.5 billion. Conversely, investment in single-unit dwellings decreased in every province except Alberta, leading to a national decline of 2.3 per cent to $5.1 billion. Non-residential investment rose in six provinces for the month, with notable growth in Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba. Alberta declined for the sixth consecutive month, down 1.2 per cent to $695.5 million.

U.S. Construction Spend Strong

Levels of construction spending in the U.S. are healthy, in large part due to the ongoing strength in infrastructure-related categories, says the Marcum Commercial Construction Index. Non-residential construction spending stood at an annualized rate of $779.6 billion in December, down 1.2 per cent from the previous month but up 4.4 per cent year-over-year. “The ongoing strength in infrastructure-related spending is a result of state and local finances being at their healthiest levels in quite some time as consumer spending, ongoing staffing expansions, and elevated assessed values drive tax collections higher,” says Anirban Basu, author of the report and Marcum’s chief construction economist. He says inflated property values are a possible explanation for stagnation in privately funded segments. Issues affecting construction spend include labour shortages, trade-related uncertainty, the U.S. and China deal, rising levels of debt, heightened political uncertainty, and the potential effects of the coronavirus on world markets.

Cologne Hardware Show Reschedules Due To Coronavirus

‘EISENWARENMESSE, the International Hardware Show’ planned for March 1 to 4 in Cologne, Germany, has been postponed in response to the acute global situation around the coronavirus. The show managers at Koelnmesse say exhibitors have noted concern for the health of employees. “In view of these current developments and the high share of Asian exhibitors at the show, the management team at Koelnmesse has reassessed the current situation and set the new date in consultation with the industry,” they said. Some 3,000 exhibitors, including approximately 1,200 from China, had been expected to attend the biennial show. The show will now be held in February 2021. Registered exhibitors and visitors are being notified of the postponement.

Canac Opens 30th Store

Quebec independent hardware and building materials chain Canac Group will open its 30th branch on February 28 in Prevost, QC. The new store is part of the company’s $100 million growth plan announced in 2015, which included new stores, renovations and upgrades to existing stores, an expansion of its Drummondville, QC, distribution centre, and a shift toward automation. Going forward, the company hopes to open one or two stores per year, including an expansion into Ontario which is targeted for 2022 or 2023 in Hawkesbury, which is roughly midway between Montreal, QC, and Ottawa, ON.

Net Sales Down At Home Depot

The Home Depot had net sales of $25.8 million in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of 2.7 per cent over net sales of $26.5 million in the fourth quarter of its 2018 year. The decrease was due, in part, to less business days in the 2019 quarter compared to 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 5.2 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings were $2.5 billion compared to net earnings of $2.3 billion, an increase of 5.8 per cent. Online sales were up 20.8 per cent year-over-year and more than 50 per cent of online orders were picked up in-store. For all channels, appliances, decor/storage, and tools had comparable sales that were above the company average.

February 25, 2020

Wholesale Sales Inch Up

Wholesale sales rose 0.9 per cent to $63.9 billion in December, following two consecutive monthly declines, says Statistics Canada. Four of seven subsectors recorded higher sales, accounting for 63 per cent of wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector led the increase. In volume terms, wholesale sales rose 0.8 per cent. Sales increased in five provinces in December, representing 76 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada. In dollar terms, Ontario and Quebec accounted for most of the gain. Wholesale inventories were up 0.4 per cent to $92.2 billion for the month, the second consecutive monthly increase. Increases were recorded in four of seven subsectors, representing 45 per cent of total wholesale inventories. For the 2019 year, sales in the building material and supplies subsector declined 2.8 per cent to $107.5 billion. This was the first yearly decline since 2009 for this subsector. The top contributing industry to the decline was the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (-5.6 per cent to $51.9 billion). Lower prices of lumber and other sawmill products have been contributing to lower sales in this industry.

Lowe's Canada Recruiting For Busy Season

In preparation for the home improvement industry's busiest season, Lowe's Canada is looking to fill more than 4,700 full- and part-time seasonal positions and 700 regular positions in its network of corporate stores this spring. To kick off its spring hiring campaign, the company is holding the third edition of its ‘National Hiring Day’ on March 14 in all its Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores across Canada. Available positions include administrative support associates, drivers, sales associates, receiving clerks, stockers, customer service associates, cashiers, and lumber yard clerks. Some independent dealers affiliated with the RONA banner will also take this opportunity to hold a hiring event on March 14.

Home Hardware Launches Scott McGillivray Flooring Collection

Home Hardware has partnered with Scott McGillivray, HGTV star and television host, to showcase his collection of advanced engineered hardwood, which will be available exclusively at Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, and Home Hardware Building Centre locations across Canada. The collection is available in six stain colours and features a floating click system.

Giant Tiger Expands Loyalty Program

Giant Tiger Stores Limited has expanded its loyalty program – GT VIP – to the Atlantic and Quebec markets. “We successfully launched to Ontario last fall and after seeing the exciting level of engagement, we are eager to offer this program to even more Canadian customers,” says Cindy-Lynn Steele, senior vice-president, corporate strategy and marketing. “Much like the launch in Ontario, we have chosen to launch in a rolled out approach to ensure that customers have the best possible experience.” Customers can download the program as a free app on both Android and iOS devices. Once they log in, they can search their GT VIP deals, browse the weekly flyer, and shop gianttiger.com. At the store, customers can scan the barcode or provide their phone number to activate the deals at checkout.

Trex Company Has Strong Sales

Trex Company, Inc, had consolidated net sales of $165 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an 18 per cent increase over net sales of $140 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Trex residential products net sales increased 25 per cent to $153 million and Trex commercial products net sales were $12 million. Gross margin for the quarter was up 40 basis points to 43.2 per cent, representing gross margins from Trex Residential and Trex Commercial of 44.6 per cent and 26.3 per cent, respectively. Net income was $35 million, up 41 per cent from net income of $25 million in the year-ago period.

February 24, 2020

Strong December Sales At Building Material Dealers

Retail sales were virtually unchanged at $51.6 billion in December, after growing 1.1 per cent in November, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, as well as food and beverage stores were more than offset by lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.8 per cent) reported the largest sales increase in December and its largest monthly gain since June (+5.3 per cent). Sales were up in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 49 per cent of retail trade. Sales were up in eight provinces, led by Alberta (+1 per cent). Quebec had the largest monthly decline since November 2018 (-1.4 per cent). On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $2.6 billion in December, accounting for 4.7 per cent of total retail trade, the largest share on record. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 31.5 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 2.7 per cent.

Lowe’s Canada Employees Support Kids

Lowe’s Canada ended its 12th ‘Hair Massacure’ campaign with the unveiling of a cheque in the amount of $103,124 on February 21. The funds from this year’s annual campaign, which ran from January 20 to February 19 in the 33 RONA and Lowe's corporate stores in Alberta and at the Lowe's Canada distribution centre in Calgary, AB, will go to Children's Wish Foundation of Canada, an organization that provides children with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to make a wish come true, and Terry Fox PROFYLE, a Canada-wide research project dedicated to finding new cancer treatments. Several employees of the Lowe's Canada network gathered at the West Edmonton Mall to celebrate the unveiling of the cheque and encourage their 21 colleagues participating in the ‘hair massacre,’ the highlight event of the campaign, during which numerous people shave their heads for donations. Since 2003, ‘Hair Massacure’ has raised over $12 million in support of organizations that help children with cancer or a life-threatening illness. Each year, hundreds of people in Alberta take part in the event. This year, roughly 120 employees from the Lowe’s Canada network dyed their hair pink for the cause, in addition to the 21 who participated in the ‘hair massacre.’

Longo Named Business Development Manager

John Longo is manager, business development, for the Ontario and Atlantic provinces with BMR Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in the construction and renovation industry.

Taiga Sales Down Two Per Cent

Taiga Building Products Ltd. Had net sales of $298.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of two per cent over net sales of $303.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely due to lower commodity prices. Gross margin for the quarter increased to $30.6 million from $24 million in same quarter last year. Net earnings were $5.8 million compared to $1.5 million in the year-ago period. EBITDA was $12.9 million versus $5.8 million.

UFP Industries Has Strong Quarter

UFP Industries (formerly Universal Forest Products, Inc.) had net sales of $998 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of one per cent over net sales of $988 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The retail segment sales were up seven per cent year-over-year; the industrial segment sales were down four per cent; and the construction segment sales were up one per cent. Earnings from operations were $51.8 million, up 14 per cent over earnings from operations of $45.4 million in the year-ago quarter. EBITDA was up 12 per cent to $70.9 million. The company says profitability was the result of increased unit sales, leveraged fixed costs, and increased sales of higher-margin products, even though lower lumber prices reduced gross sales by five per cent.

February 21, 2020

Western Forest Employees Going Back To Work

Western Forest Products Inc. workers will soon be back on the job as those represented by United Steelworkers have voted in support of a tentative agreement. The new five-year collective agreement is effective from June 2019 and expires in June 2024. Roughly 3,000 employees have been on strike since July which affected the company’s manufacturing and timberlands operations in British Columbia. “We are focused on planning for a safe return to work and, while our goal is to begin operating as soon as possible, startup will be contingent on availability of employees and contractors, market demand, weather conditions, and sufficient log supply,” says Don Demens, president and chief executive officer.

Pier 1 Files For Bankruptcy, Pursuing Sale

Pier 1 Imports, Inc. has commenced voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. and bankruptcy proceedings in Canada in order to enter into a plan support agreement with a majority of its term loan lenders and pursue sale of the company. The company also intends to use this process to complete the previously announced closure of up to 450 store locations, which includes the closure of all its stores in Canada. To date, the retailer has closed or initiated going-out-business sales at over 400 locations. It is also in the process of closing two distribution centres to reflect its revised store footprint.

American Standard To Supply HGTV Shows

American Standard, part of the LIXIL Corporation, will become the official supplier of kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures for multiple television series on Corus Entertainment's HGTV Canada. The partnership adds to the current collaboration with contractor Kate Campbell, a long-time guest star on several HGTV Canada programs. Beyond product integration on both shows, the partnership will include digital and social activations. Audiences can tune in to HGTV Canada or check out HGTV.ca to see American Standard in featured episodes and resource guides.

Toughbuilt Launches Products On Zoro.com

Tool manufacturer ToughBuilt Industries, Inc. has launched 87 products on Zoro.com – 55 in the hand tool products category, 16 in gloves and safety, nine in the office supplies, and seven in power tools and accessories. Zoro.com, a subsidiary of W.W. Grainger, is an online seller of industrial supplies and business products that caters to the small- and mid-size contractor and do-it-yourself markets. Toughbuilt says the placement is a step in its continued expansion of online marketing.

Restructuring Impacts Masonite Income

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $531 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of one per cent over net sales of $528 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net sales in the North American residential segment increased three per cent year-over-year and architectural net sales increased four per cent. Net income for the quarter was $2 million, down from $12 million in the year-ago period. Net income was impacted by restructuring plans and pension settlement charges. Adjusted EBITDA was $62 million compared to $58 million the previous year. Gross profit increased 16 per cent to $111 million year-over-year.

February 20, 2020

BB&B Launches Capital Allocation Strategy

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. has launched a fiscal 2020 capital allocation strategy, which will include an estimated $1 billion of spend balanced across capital return to shareholders, debt reduction, and reinvestment in the company's core business operations to drive growth. The retailer is working on a number of initiatives as part of its strategic plan which include approximately $350 to $400 million of investments in stores, IT and digital projects, and supply chain infrastructure. “The financial strength of our business allows us to take the important steps needed to return capital to our shareholders and reduce our debt, while at the same time also investing in our customer,” says Mark Tritton, chief executive officer.

PEI Home Show Returns To Charlottetown

The ‘Prince Edward Island Provincial Home Show’ returns to Charlottetown this year and will offer visitors the chance to shop, learn about new products, get expert advice, find inspiration, and plan renovations. This year, the show features appearance from local celebrities, door prizes, and a fundraiser for the Special Olympics PEI. The show takes place March 6 to 8 at the Eastlink Centre. For more information. Visit PEI Home Show

Jasper PIM Partners With Venzee Technologies

Digital content distribution platform Venzee Technologies Inc. has partnered with Jasper PIM, a product information management solution for eCommerce. Brands and manufacturers use Jasper's technology to manage and merchandise product information to unify their entire technology stack and optimize the way they sell and market their products or services into new channels around the world. Venzee announced earlier this year completion of functional integration to more than 250 of retail destinations worldwide. It says the integration with Jasper will provide the product listing capability required by eCommerce merchants for reaching new sales channels and create a seamless, automated, retail distribution network for an expanding client base.

Warren Named National Sales Manager

Phil Warren is national sales manager at SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA. Previously, he was eastern sales manager.

JELD-WEN Revenues Decrease

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. had net revenue of $1.069 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.1 per cent over net revenue of $1.092 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018. Net revenue for the North American segment increased 3.1 per cent year-over-year. Net income for the quarter was $7.8 million, down from net income of $38.1 million in the year-ago period. This decrease was primarily due to a higher tax rate and lower gross profit from reduced volumes. Adjusted EBITDA was $89.2 million, down 15.9 per cent over the previous year.

Online Grocery Drives Walmart Revenues

Walmart Inc. had total revenue of $141.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.1 per cent over revenues $138.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Walmart U.S. eCommerce had strong growth in grocery pickup and delivery, and walmart.com had its highest quarterly growth rate of the year. Net sales at Walmart International were $33 billion, an increase of 2.3 per cent year-over-year. Overall adjusted operating income was $5.8 billion, down 3.7 per cent over $6.1 billion in the previous year quarter.

February 19, 2020

Manufacturing Sales Decline

Manufacturing sales declined for the fourth consecutive month, down 0.7 per cent to $56.4 billion in December, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 11 of 21 industries, representing 42.6 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. The largest declines were in the motor vehicle assembly and aerospace product and parts industries. However, these decreases were partly offset by higher sales in the primary metal industry. Constant dollar sales declined 0.4 per cent, indicating a lower volume of goods sold. The largest declines were in Quebec (-2.2 per cent) and Ontario (-1.1 per cent). Following two consecutive months of declines, sales in British Columbia increased 3.3 per cent. Inventory levels fell 0.3 per cent to $87.4 billion in December. Inventories were down in eight of 21 industries, led by the transportation equipment (-4.3 per cent), computer and electronic product (-6.7 per cent), and machinery (-1.5 per cent) industries.

January U.S. Construction Starts Move Lower

Total U.S. construction starts slipped six per cent from December to January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $759.2 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. All three major categories moved lower in January — residential building starts fell eight per cent, non-residential building lost six per cent, and non-building starts fell two per cent. For the 12 months ending January, total construction starts were one per cent higher than during the previous 12-month period. By major category, residential building starts were one per cent lower and non-residential building starts were down by less than a percentage point, but non-building construction was eight per cent higher during the 12-month period. January’s Dodge Index moved downward to 161 compared to the 171 posted in December and was eight per cent lower than its most recent 12-month average.

Masco Completes Cabinetry Segment Sale

Masco Corporation has completed the sale of its cabinetry division to ACProducts, Inc., a manufacturer of cabinetry products owned by American Industrial Partners. Masco announced the plan to divest the cabinetry segment in June 2019.

Stokes Initiates Restructuring

Housewares and home décor retailer Stokes Inc. has initiated the process to reposition its business for future growth and profitability by filing a notice of intention to make a proposal to its creditors. The company says it is pursuing this course of action to facilitate the implementation of its go-forward strategy that will secure the long-term viability of the company in the best interest of its employees, customers, and suppliers. The company will reduce its retail footprint in Canada by closing less profitable stores and streamline its head office operations. It will continue to invest in its online business which has experienced material growth over the last few years.

Home Depot Canada Announces Hiring Spree

Home Depot Canada is hiring more than 5,500 new associates across the country to support its busy spring season. The company is hiring for full-time, part-time, and seasonal positions including overnight associates, sales associates, cashiers, lot associates, specialty associates, and department supervisors. Eligible full- and part-time employees have access to benefits, profit-sharing programs, tuition reimbursement, and employee assistance programs.

Softwood Leads Acadian Sales

Acadian Timber Corp. Had sales of $25.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, up from sales of $24.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales of softwood increased year-over-year, while sales of hardwood decreased. Sales of biomass also decreased for the quarter. Overall net income for the quarter was $16.2 million, down from $16.4 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.6 million and 25 per cent of sales compared to $4.6 million and 19 per cent of sales.

February 18, 2020

Strong January Home Sales, Despite Slide

Home sales recorded declined by 2.9 per cent in January, although they remain among the stronger monthly readings of the last few years, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Transactions were down in a little over half of all local markets, with the national result most impacted by a slowdown of more than 18 per cent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. While there were few notable gains in January, many of the weaker results have come alongside a shortage of new supply in markets where inventories are already very tight. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was still up 11.5 per cent compared to January 2019, marking the best sales figures for the month in 12 years. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local markets, including most of the largest urban markets. As mentioned, some of the larger markets where sales were down, such as Ottawa and Windsor-Essex, ON, are currently among some of the tightest supplied markets in Canada. The number of newly listed homes was little changed in January, edging up a slight 0.2 per cent on the heels of a series of declines which have left new listings at a near decade low.

January U.S. Retail Sales Up 2.7 Per Cent

January U.S. retail sales increased 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted over December and were up 2.7 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. January’s results build on increases of 0.3 per cent month-over-month and 6.3 per cent year-over-year in December. Online and other non-store sales were up seven per cent year-over-year and furniture and home furnishings stores were up two per cent. Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.4 per cent year-over-year but up 2.1 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

TIMBER MART Holds 10th Annual Buying Show

TIMBER MART held its 10th annual national buying show February 14 to 15 where it launched proprietary products, celebrated outstanding dealers and vendors, and provided new programs and an assortment of deals to members. More than 200 vendor booths filled 60,000 square feet of show floor which featured a wide range of show displays and more than 2,000 SKUs of building materials and hardlines products. At the centre of the floor, the TIMBER MART area encompassed hubs for all of the group’s services and programs including TIMBER MART LBM Distribution, TIMBER MART Essentials, dealer marketing, merchandising, and banner support.

Andersen Windows Refreshes Brand

Andersen Windows has refreshed its branding which features a new logo and tagline – ‘Love the life you see’ – and will be launched in a marketing campaign this spring. The updated brand will celebrate self-expression, as every Andersen window or door is crafted to deliver a custom experience for customers. The marketing campaign will feature stories of people enjoying moments they create in their home through the lens of their Andersen windows and doors. The 116-year-old company’s new logo reflects the past and the future. It includes Andersen’s distinctive colour orange and the shield, which has been repositioned in an upward-facing triangle which, in Greek, stands for ‘opening’ or ‘doorway.’ The company letters - ‘AW’ - have also been removed from the logo to reflect the entirety of the company’s current portfolio.

Retail Segment Boosts Ace Hardware Revenues


Ace Hardware Corporation had revenue of $1.5 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.1 per cent over revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018. Wholesale revenues were up four per cent year-over-year and retail revenues were up 30.8 per cent. Increases were noted across all departments, with grilling, outdoor power equipment, and hand and power tools showing the largest gains. Wholesale gross profit was $150.7 million, an increase of three million over the year-ago period, and retail gross profit was $63.6 million, an increase of $18.9 million. Net income was $3.5 million for the quarter, a decrease of $21.7 million from the year-ago period.

February 14, 2020

Consumers Spending More On Housewares

U.S. dollar sales of small appliances grew four per cent in 2019, and sales of non-electric housewares increased two per cent compared to 2018, says the NPD Group, a global information company. Combined, this growth amounted to an additional $952 million in sales for the industry in 2019, demonstrating the consumer's continued focus on enhancing their homes and the core needs related to healthy living, convenience, sustainability, entertainment, experience, and taste that are being addressed by these products. Healthy living and convenience were once again front-and-centre in the top performing small appliances of 2019, spanning kitchen electrics, personal care, and home environment. Air fryers, hot air stylers, and robotic vacuums accounted for 42 per cent of the small appliance industry's sales gains, each capturing more than $100 million in incremental sales for the year, reflecting significant double and triple-digit growth.

Garant Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Tool manufacturer Garant celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. The Saint-François-de-la-Rivière-du-Sud, QC-based company makes and distributes non-powered tools for the gardening, snow removal, cleaning, and construction industries and offers more than 4,000 products through retailers across Canada and the U.S. To mark the milestone, Garant partnered with the Québec City's world-famous Carnaval, and even had a visit from Bonhomme, the official snowman representative of the Carnaval, at its plant. Garant has been making tools in Saint-François-de-la-Rivière-du-Sud, in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, since 1895. The company employs about 375 workers, who are mostly from the small town with a population of 1596.

Scott Takes On Western Canada

Kelley Scott is director of sales – western Canada with Alexandria Moulding. Previously, she was director of marketing.

Canadian Tire Corporation Has Strong Retail Sales

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had an increase of 4.3 per cent in consolidated comparable sales for the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the fourth quarter of 2018. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were up 5.1 per cent year-over-year. Consolidated revenue was $4.3 billion in the quarter, up 4.5 per cent over consolidated revenue of $4.1 billion in the year-ago period. Excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue increased 5.1 per cent. The retail segment had a 4.5 per cent increase in revenue, or 5.1 per cent excluding petroleum, year-over-year. Canadian Tire Retail had a 6.6 per cent increase in retail sales, with comparable sales up 4.8 per cent. Income before taxes increased 6.9 per cent.

February 13, 2020

Canada Supports Small Business Innovation

The government of Canada is supporting small business to develop innovative solutions to plastic pollution. As part of the initiative, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (ECCC) sponsored the ‘Plastics Innovation Challenges,’ whereby small- and medium-sized businesses receive $1 million each to develop prototypes of new technologies designed to address plastic waste from food packaging and construction. Among the winners of the challenge are GreenMantra Technologies of Brantford, ON, and MgO Systems of Calgary, AB. GreenMantra will transform polystyrene insulation waste into new insulation and MgO Systems will use PVC waste from construction to produce new insulating materials. The government will launch six new ‘Plastics Challenges’ and three ‘Clean Technology Challenges’ through its Innovative Solutions Canada program. Goals of the new challenges include seeking solutions for air purification, recycling plastic into ceiling tiles, and developing energy producing window coverings.

Benjamin Moore Launches Color Portfolio App

Benjamin Moore has launched its Color Portfolio app and integrated Benjamin Moore ColorReader device. Designed to enhance and simplify the colour selection process, the app, in conjunction with the Benjamin Moore branded ColorReader device by Datacolor, is available for mobile devices and is compatible with iOS and Android. The app supplements physical colour tools using augmented reality. It features virtual fan decks, photo and video visualizers, and renderings to apply Benjamin Moore colour to surfaces in real-time. When the ColorReader is connected to the Color Portfolio app, users can colour match interior and exterior flat surfaces and materials to more than 3,500 Benjamin Moore colours.

Klein Tool Launches Tone And Probe Test Kit

Klein Tools has introduced the VDV500-705 Tone & Probe Test and Trace Kit, designed to give users an opening price point solution for simple toning and tracing as well as wire map testing of non-energized wire. The unit’s tone generator traces wire when used with the probe that has a non-metallic, conductive tip. It includes a work light on the probe tip for use in dark spaces and has an adjustable volume control dial. It includes an RJ45 to RJ45 test cable.

Strong Growth Forecast For Doors And Windows Market

The global market valuation for doors and windows will cross US$235.2 billion by 2026, says a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. Continuous focus on home improvement and interior renovations will generate market demand in the projected time period. Growing building and construction activities, coupled with technology modifications, are also expected to drive demand. In-home, inside interior pocket doors are registering a significant demand while metal-based doors remain most popular for the exterior. Rising interest in green products and home automation technology are also driving market growth. Automated/smart product demand is expected to follow a positive growth trend due to enhanced security and comfort. As well, the industry has been experiencing a boost in metal-framed window and door demand due to additional benefits such as durability, superior efficiency, and strength.

Lower Lighting Sales Impacts Masco Earnings

Masco Corporation had sales of $1.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, matching sales in the fourth quarter of 2018. In local currency, sales increased one per cent year-over-year. The plumbing products segment net sales increased two per cent year-over-year and the decorative architectural products segment net sales decreased three per cent, with growth in paints and other coating products offset by lower sales in lighting. Gross profit for the quarter was $565 million, also flat compared to gross profit of $568 million in the year-ago period. Income before taxes was $217 million compared to $236 million last year. During the quarter, the company closed the sale of its Milgard Windows and Doors business and signed an agreement to sell its cabinetry business.

West Fraser Has Fourth Quarter Loss

West Fraser Timber Company Ltd. had sales of $1.13 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease over sales of $1.27 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $80 million for the quarter compared to adjusted EBITDA of $120 million in the year-ago period. Operating loss was $31 million compared to operating earnings of $15 million. The lumber segment had adjusted EBITDA of $69 million compared to $39 million in the third quarter of 2019; the panels segment had adjusted EBITDA of $13 million, flat compared to the third quarter; and the pulp and paper segment had an adjusted EBITDA loss of $1 million compared to adjusted EBITDA income of $13 million in the third quarter.

February 12, 2020

Used Battery Collection Catching On

Call2Recycle Canada, Inc., a national consumer battery collection and recycling program, says it has had the highest battery collection results since inception. Thanks to increased participation of Canadian residents, almost three million kilograms of household batteries were recycled in 2019, a nine per cent increase over 2018 results. There was also a more than 10 per cent increase in batteries collected in regulated provinces – British Columbia, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec – where Call2Recycle serves as the stewardship program. The organization has been administrating its consumer battery collection and recycling program for 21 years and has more than 30,000 collection sites across North America, including retailers, municipalities, businesses, and schools.

FGIA Brands As United Organization

The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) has developed a united brand. As part of the campaign, the organization has developed a logo and promotional video has been launched. On January 1, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) officially came together to form a new, united organization – the FGIA. The branding is a representation of the organization going forward. The positioning of campaign is, ‘Your trusted resource, setting the standards for fenestration and glazing.’ As part of the branding process, primary personality traits of the brand were developed to help convey the character of the new organization – precise and detailed, knowledgeable, insightful and enlightening, design-driven, innovative, and evolving.

Combination Hammer Has Vibration Control

DEWALT has launched the 60V MAX 1-3/4-inch SDS MAX Combination Hammer (DCH614). This combination hammer achieves 10.5 joules and 380 RPM for fast and efficient drilling in concrete. The drilling range is between 5/8-inch and 1- 1/4-inch. It is part of the DEWALT PERFORM & PROTECT line of power tools, designed to provide a high level of one or more of the following – control, dust containment, or low vibration. It includes SHOCKS Active Vibration Control System that reduces vibration felt by the user at the handles. It also incorporates wireless tool control so the user can pair the extractor with the tool for remote activation.

Howlett Named Chief Accounting Officer

Heather Howlett has been promoted to vice-president and chief accounting officer of the future Trane Technologies, the rebrand of Ingersoll-Rand plc. She was vice-president and corporate controller.

Reduced OSB Shipments Affect LP Sales

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had net sales of $537 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of nine per cent compared to net sales of $589 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The decrease was primarily due to reduced OSB prices and a reduction in OSB shipments. The decrease was partially offset by increased revenue growth (11 per cent) of the company’s SmartSide Strand product. Net sales for the siding segment increased eight per cent year-over-year; net sales for the OSB segment decreased $83 million; and net sales for the engineered wood products (EWP) segment increased 16 per cent. Net loss for the quarter was $51 million, a decrease over net income of $17 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $49 million, down 25 per cent over $65 million last year.

February 11, 2020

December Building Permits Rise 7.4 Per Cent

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities increased 7.4 per cent to $8.7 billion in December, says Statistics Canada. Increases were reported in five provinces, led by Ontario (+10.5 per cent) and Quebec (+15.8 per cent). For 2019 overall, municipalities issued $102.4 billion worth of permits, up 2.6 per cent compared with 2018. The total value of permits for multi-family dwellings was up 15.9 per cent to $2.9 billion in December, mostly due to large projects in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Montreal, QC, and Vancouver, BC. Conversely, the total value of permits for single-family dwellings decreased 3.2 per cent to $2.2 billion, with the largest decline in Ontario (-$76 million). The value of commercial permits rose 19.7 per cent and the value of institutional permits rose to its highest level since September 2017 at 10.8 per cent. Industrial permits declined 21 per cent. In 2019, municipalities issued $102.4 billion worth of permits, up 2.6 per cent compared with 2018. Gains were reported in six provinces, with the largest increase in Ontario (+$2.8 billion). Alberta recorded the largest decrease (-$1.8 billion), with declines in all building types.

January Housing Starts Unchanged

The trend in housing starts was 210,915 units in January 2020, compared to 212,212 units in December 2019, 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 213,224 units in January, an increase of 8.8 per cent from 195,892 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 9.8 per cent and multiple urban starts increased by 13.6 per cent while single-detached urban starts decreased by 0.9 per cent. Quebec had the strongest increase in housing starts at 79 per cent over January 2019 followed by Saskatchewan at 77 per cent. The largest year-over-year decrease was in Prince Edward Island at -47 per cent, followed by British Columbia at -40 per cent.

TIMBER MART Show To Provide Opportunities To Members

More than 150 building material and hardware vendors are scheduled to exhibit at the ‘2020 TIMBER MART National Buying Show.’ As well, TIMBER MART members will have access to new programs, a wide assortment of deals, and networking opportunities. The show takes place February 14 to 15 at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, QC. The show is not open to the public; registration is by invitation only.

Fast Dry Spackling Decreases Repair Time

DAP has launched its Fast Dry Premium Spackling to speed up the time it takes to repair large holes in drywall. This product is a professional-grade spackling developed specifically for large drywall repairs. It offers a smooth, one-strike application that leaves a solid coat that won’t sink, shrink, or crack. It also offers impact resistance and is paint ready in as little as just 15 minutes. It can be sanded after an hour providing a surface for painting that doesn’t need to be primed and won’t flash when finished. It is also low-odour, can be cleaned up with water, and can be used for indoor and outdoor repairs.

Tall Cabinets To Lead Cabinet Sales

Demand for kitchen cabinets is projected to rise 4.6 per cent annually to $17.3 billion 2023, with unit demand totalling 101.8 million, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Gains will be supported by homeowner interest in installing more and larger cabinets to provide additional storage space for foodstuffs and kitchenware. Design trends, such as kitchen islands and counter-style seating, which incorporate more cabinets into residential kitchens, are also driving demand. As well, manufacturer efforts to include more amenities – such as LED lighting, pull-out shelves, and racks – in kitchen cabinets that raise their average sale price is boosting sales. Base cabinets accounted for the largest share of kitchen cabinet demand in 2018 and will continue to do so through 2023. However, tall and wall cabinets will post the more rapid demand gains as consumers increasingly opt for these cabinets (instead of such options as open shelving and racks) to provide increased storage space. Demand for tall cabinets is expected to rise at the most rapid pace of all cabinet types, growing five per cent annually to $2.8 billion in 2023.

February 10, 2020

Dodge Momentum Index Slides

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 2.7 per cent in January to 152.5 from the revised December reading of 156.7, snapping a four-month streak of gains. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential U.S. building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The decline in the overall index was the result of an 11 per cent drop in the institutional component, more than offsetting a 2.7 per cent gain in the commercial component. A similar pattern exists when comparing year-over-year growth in the components of the index. The institutional component was down 7.4 per cent when compared to January 2019 while the commercial component was 17.4 per cent higher than a year ago. These conflicting trends pushed the overall index up 7.1 per cent from January 2019.

Mercury Wood Products To Distribute For Uniboard

Mercury Wood Products is now the distributor for Uniboard’s composite wood panels, MDF, and particleboard lines in Ontario. Uniboard says the appointment of Mercury Wood Products is in line with its strategy of pursuing value-added composite wood panel product growth.

Tyson Named Interim President

Charles E. Tyson has been named interim president and principal executive officer of Lumber Liquidators. He is the company’s chief customer experience officer. Tyson will share the duties of these positions with Mary A. Walsh, chief financial officer. Dennis R. Knowles, formerly president and chief executive officer, has resigned. The company is searching for a replacement.

Sales Up At Fastenal

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,276.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.7 per cent over net sales of $1,231.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The increase was driven by higher unit sales at industrial vending and onsite locations. Gross profit for the quarter was $598.4 million, or 46.9 per cent of sales, up 1.8 per cent over gross profit of $587.8 million and 47.7 per cent of sales. EBIT was $236.4 million, up 2.9 per cent compared to EBIT of $229.8 million in the year-ago period. Net earnings were up 5.9 per cent to $178.7 million.

Sourcing Expo Closed For Coronavirus Concerns

The International Housewares Association (IHA) will not open the ‘International Sourcing Expo’ at the ‘Inspired Home Show 2020’ in response to concerns about the Coronavirus outbreak in China. The IHA consulted with Chinese pavilion organizers and exhibitors and made the decision “to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the industry from concerns about exposure to the virus,” says Derek Miller, president of IHA. The rest of the home show will continue as planned. It takes place March 14 to 17 in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit ‘Inspired Home Show 2020

February 7, 2020

Building Construction Prices Edge Up

Prices for residential building construction increased 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, while the cost of non-residential building construction rose 0.4 per cent, says Statistics Canada. At the national level, construction costs for different types of residential and non-residential buildings increased during the fourth quarter, with growth ranging from 0.3 per cent to 0.5 per cent. The largest quarterly price increase among residential buildings was for apartment buildings (+0.5 per cent), while construction costs for non-residential buildings increased the most for factories (+0.5 per cent). Residential building construction costs increased the most in Halifax, NS (+0.8 per cent), followed by Montreal, QC, and Vancouver, BC, (both up 0.7 per cent). Builders in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario part), Montreal, and Halifax reported that higher residential building construction costs were largely related to shortages in skilled trades and to contractors charging higher prices because of increased demand for housing.

Acklands-Grainger Rebrands To Grainger Canada

Acklands-Grainger is rebranding as Grainger and aligning under one brand in North America. The Canadian division will be referred to as ‘Grainger Canada.’ The legal name will stay the same – Acklands-Grainger Inc. – so no changes will be required to existing contracts. The company says it will also expand its Canadian services by increasing its product selection, integrating faster operational processes, and providing more insights into industry trends. It will optimize its customer service centre and add a dedicated service team as well as optimize its online ordering and shipping services. This comes three years after the company announced it would restructure its Canadian operations, which included plans to shutter 59 of its 144 branches.

Housewares Store Inventory To Be Auctioned Off

Thornhill, ON-based Cayne’s The Super Houseware Store is closing it’s doors. All of the inventory of the company’s 55,000 square feet of retail space and warehouses will be auctioned off online, including its warehouse equipment, store fixtures, and office furniture. The store was known as a go-to place for deals on small appliances, kitchen gadgets, and housewares for 33 years. Late last year, the owners announced their decision to wind down the store operations. For more information, visit Cayne’s auction

Moss To Lead ROCKWOOL North America

Rory Moss will be president, ROCKWOOL North America, effective April 1. He joined the company in 2007 and is currently managing director, ROCKWOOL Nordics.

ASSA ABLOY Has Steady Sales Growth

ASSA ABLOY had net sales of SEK24,946 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an eight per cent increase over net sales of SEK23,167 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The company says it had strong organic growth in the Americas, good growth in its global technologies segment, and stable growth in its entrance systems. EBIT was SEK4,047 million for the quarter, also up eight per cent over the year-ago quarter, which had EBIT of SEK3,746 million. Operating margin remained flat at 16.2 per cent. Net income was SEK2,767 million, up seven per cent compared to SEK2,588 million last year.

February 6, 2020

CFIB Wants Tax Changes For Small Business

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is urging the federal government to put an end to excluding family members from the lifetime capital gains exemption when business owners sell their companies to family members. The recommendation was part of the CFIB’s list of small business owners’ top priorities for the upcoming federal budget. According to CFIB research, 72 per cent of small business owners plan on exiting their business within the next decade – representing a potential transfer of assets of more than $1.5 trillion. Many wish to do this by selling their business to their children. “We think that making it easier for small business owners to sell to their kids is something that all the parties can get behind – and it would be a big win for entrepreneurs,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. The CFIB also urges the government not to raise the capital gains inclusion rate. It warns that such a move would be “seriously damaging” to small businesses, particularly business owners who are looking to sell or retire. Raising the rate would significantly decrease the retirement income of small business owners, many of whom rely on the lifetime capital gains exemption, which would be directly affected by such an increase. In addition, CFIB also says that rising CPP premiums are making it more difficult for entrepreneurs to hire and retain employees and called for the elimination of credit card processing fees on GST and HST.

Technology, Isolation Top Trends

‘Clean machine’ and ‘together in isolation’ are two trends set to impact the global household care market over the next decade, says Mintel, a market research firm. Clean machine is about the rapid advancement of technology that will enable consumers to create hyper-personalized approaches to managing their home and their health. “Over the next 10 years, expect to see home automation become commonplace, with new capabilities adopted to meet specific consumer needs. At the same time, some markets will see a backlash against the growing dependence on machines driving consumers to rediscover a sense of community,” says Jamie Rosenberg, senior global analyst. Together in isolation reflects the evolving consumer views about the world that will lead to changes in what they expect from sustainability and corporate responsibility over the next decade. This trend allows homecare brands to find success by creating products and services that contribute to making the world a better place.

L.J. Smith Offers Online Installation Videos

Stair system manufacturer L.J. Smith has launched a series of installation videos to its library of resources. The 12 new videos provide information for contractors, builders, and homeowners on how to install L.J. Smith’s interior stair systems. Additionally, the company has cable system and IronPro iron baluster fastener installation videos on the site, for a total of 14 videos. The manufacturer also offers a full array of support materials on its website including information on finishing tips, building codes, ordering guidelines, and product drawings. Product brochures and an inspiration gallery are also available. For more information, visit L.J. Smith

Insulation Slows ROCKWOOL Earnings

ROCKWOOL International A/S had sales of €715 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of 0.6 per cent over sales in the fourth quarter of 2018. EBIT for the quarter was €94 million, up 13 per cent over the year-ago period. EBIT margin was up 1.5 per cent to 13.2 per cent. Sales in the insulation segment were €517 million compared to €529 million last year, and sales in the systems segment were €198 million compared to €180 million last year.

Higher Sales Drive Simpson Income

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had net sales of $262.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, up 8.5 per cent compared to net sales of $241.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. North America net sales increased 10.8 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit for the quarter was $110.1 million, up 12.1 per cent compared to $98.2 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit as a percentage of net sales increased to 41.9 per cent from 40.6 per cent. Income from operations was $36.6 million, up 94.4 per cent compared to income of $18.8 million, primarily due to higher net sales and a decrease in spending. North America income from operations increased 137.8 per cent year-over-year. Net income was $28.1 million compared $12.8 million last year.

February 5, 2020

Ontario Chamber Partners With BarterPay

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has partnered with BarterPay Canada Inc. to bring the BarterPay trading platform to members of the Ontario Chamber Network. Through the platform, small- and medium-sized businesses can obtain a wide variety of goods and services that they need by trading excess, slow-moving inventory or idle time instead of using cash. Members of participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade will be given exclusive benefits such as reduced activation fees, special promotions, and access to BarterPay Small Business Barter Loans at zero per cent interest. BarterPay converts the value of traded goods and services into TRADEdollars (at retail value) which allows the business owner to extract the actual things they need from the network versus trading directly one to one. In addition, BarterPay It Forward, a separate charitable foundation, provides a unique opportunity for small businesses to contribute to community charities and create social impact with the TRADEdollars they generate instead of having to dip into their cash.

ODL Adds Sizes To Doorglass

ODL, Inc., a building products supplier of decorative and clear doorglass and entry treatments, has launched more size options in ZEEL, its doorglass frame offering. ZEEL is the result of market research conducted by ODL that revealed a gap in the doorglass frame market and a need for a sleeker, more streamlined option. The frame offers a clip system that eliminates the need for screws and is made from FiberMate Plus, a doorglass frame material made by ODL that has a higher percentage of fibreglass to increase durability and reduce water seeping. The frames are now available in four new sizes – 22- x 48-inches, 20- x 64-inches, 8- x 80-inches, and 22- x 80-inches – and can be used in conjunction with most doorglass, including the clear and decorative options offered by ODL. These additions now complete the line with all sizes across Classic, Deco, and Blinds-Between-Glass (BBG) doorglass.

Government Invests In Insulation Innovation

As part of its Innovation Solutions Canada (ISC) program, the Government of Canada is collaborating with small businesses to reduce pollution and help create a greener, more sustainable environment. It will invest $300,000 in the first phase of the Biofoam Insulation Challenge, aimed at developing greener insulation products from forest residues. The investment will be split between two recipients whose concepts are comparable in price and performance to traditional insulations, are bio-based (predominantly derived from domestic forest residue), fully recyclable, and generate fewer emissions during production. The recipients are Sherbrooke, QC-based Mecanum Inc. and London, ON-based Western Maple Bio Resources Inc. (WMB). Mecanum is developing a thermo-acoustic foam insulation panel using a minimum of 60 per cent kraft lignin, a wood pulp component used to generate energy. WMB is using pine sawdust and forest residue to develop a biofoam made with more than 70 per cent bio-content.

Higher Paint Sales Volume Boosts Profit

The Sherwin-Williams Company had net sales of $2.36 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 4.8 per cent compared to net sales in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net sales from stores in U.S. and Canada open for more than twelve calendar months increased 4.6 per cent in the quarter over last year's comparable period. The Americas group segment profit increased to $449.4 million, or 19 per cent of net sales, from $413.4 million, or 18.3 per cent of net sales, in the prior year quarter due primarily to higher paint sales volume. Net sales in the consumer brands group increased 0.9 per cent to $539.4 million over the year-ago period and segment profit increased to $29.7 million, or 5.5 per cent of net external sales, from $12 million, or 2.2 per cent of net external sales. Net sales of the performance coatings group decreased five per cent to $1.21 billion in the quarter due to softer sales outside of North America and segment loss was $7.4 million compared to the year-ago period.

February 4, 2020

Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Home Market

The global smart home market revenue is expected to reach $158 billion in the next four years, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent, says a report by PreciseSecurity.com. The global smart home ecosystem is set to continue its rapid expansion, mostly due to the speed of 5G implementation. Recent IoT investments by Google, Apple, Amazon, and Alibaba have also transformed the landscape noticeably, providing opportunities for various companies. In comparison, the global smart home market was worth $43.4 billion in 2017. Since then, the industry revenue doubled and is expected to reach $91 billion value this year. Smart home technology provides homeowners security, convenience, energy efficiency, and comfort by allowing them to control smart devices through smart home apps. Household penetration is forecast to reach 9.3 per cent this year and continue growing to 19.3 per cent by 2024. Smart appliances will generate the largest profit, followed by control and connectivity devices.

Desjardins Acquires Reno-Assistance

Desjardins is now the majority shareholder of Reno-Assistance, a company that pairs clients with contractors for large-scale residential or commercial renovation projects. Desjardins is also supporting the company's plan to increase its footprint outside of where it currently has most of its business – Greater Toronto, ON, and Greater Montreal and the Quebec City region in Quebec. For the foreseeable future, Reno-Assistance will remain open to the public but, Desjardins hasn't ruled out the possibility of capitalizing on synergies with different entities in its organization.

Deans To Lead Habitat For Humanity Canada

Julia Deans will be president and chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Canada, effective February 24. Most recently, she was the founding CEO of the Canada Children’s Literacy Foundation.

Good Weather Negatively Impacts Beacon Sales

Beacon (formerly Beacon Roofing Supply) had net sales of $1.68 billion for the first quarter of 2020, a decrease of 2.7 per cent over net sales of $1.72 billion in the first quarter of 2019. The sales decline was mainly influenced by decreased hurricane-related demand compared to the prior year. Residential roofing product sales decreased 4.1 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales increased 0.2 per cent, and complementary product sales decreased 3.1 per cent compared to the prior year. The company had a net loss of $23.4 million for the quarter compared to a net loss of $0.9 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $94.3 million compared to $121.7 million in 2019.

February 3, 2020

Home Depot Opens Flatbed DC

Home Depot has opened its first ‘flatbed distribution centre’ (FDC) in Dallas, TX, to improve its delivery capabilities. An FDC is one of several new types of delivery centres that are part of the company’s $1.2 billion investment to build roughly 150 facilities across the country to reach 90 per cent of its U.S. customers with same-day and next-day delivery. The facility is capable of loading a variety of products – such as 80-pound bags of concrete, concrete blocks, a bunk of lumber, and some drywall – onto a flatbed truck to deliver directly to a professional customer on a jobsite. The FDC will increase the accessibility and speed of these types of deliveries. The retailer plans to build 40 FDCs in the 40 largest markets in the U.S.

Saint-Gobain Moves Forward With Continental Acquisition

Saint-Gobain will move ahead with its acquisition of Continental Building Products now that the latter has obtained shareholder approval and the legal waiting period has expired. The deal will broaden Saint-Gobain’s asset portfolio and enhance its ability to provide a wider customer base with innovative solutions. As well, Continental provides a strong geographic complement to Saint-Gobain’s North American operations. The deal is expected to close February 3.

Slab Has Many Applications

Belgard Hardscapes’ Galiano Slab is an architectural slab for residential, municipal, and commercial projects. The smooth face mix profile is available in mountain ash or Tofino grey colour blends. The slabs are available in two sizes (300x300mm and 600x600mm) and the 50mm thickness make them ideal for applications such as walkway/path, patio, pool area, and pedestal use. They are compatible with Lafitt Grana and Lafitt Slate slabs.

Ventilation Fan Market To Grow 7.7 Per Cent

The global ventilation fan market size is expected to reach US$3.85 billion by 2025, registering a 7.7 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Rising demand from residential, commercial, and industrial buildings is anticipated to drive the growth. Increasing installation in bathrooms, kitchens, dryer rooms, garages, and attics of residences is expected to drive the product demand. Brick-and-mortar hardware stores are the major distributors of ventilation fans. Most of these channels have a liaison with contractors, architects, and builders which enhances the total sales for these distributors. The Millennial market is most majorly dependent on the eCommerce industry so online retailers of ventilation fans have adopted strategies such as product discounts and cashbacks to attract this demographic.

Tariffs Impact Spectrum Earnings

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $871.5 million for the first quarter of its 2020 year, a decrease of one per cent compared to net sales of $880.3 million in the first quarter of its 2019 year. Sales in the hardware and home improvement (HHI) segment decreased 2.4 per cent year-over-year; sales in the home and personal care segment increased 1.5 per cent; sales in global pet care increased 0.5 per cent; and sales in the home and garden segment decreased 13.9 per cent. Gross profit margin for the quarter decreased 380 basis points due to higher tariffs, timing of capitalized manufacturing variances, and restructuring costs. The company had an operating loss of $45.9 million and a net loss from continuing operations of $37.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA decreased 11.4 per cent to $103.3 million compared to the year-ago period.

Amazon.com Sales Up 21 Per Cent

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $87.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 21 per cent compared to net sales of $72.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Operating income increased to $3.9 billion in the quarter, compared with operating income of $3.8 billion in the year-ago period. Net income was $3.3 billion compared to $3 billion last year. The online retailer says more people joined its Prime loyalty program this quarter than ever before and it now has over 150 million paid Prime members around the world. The number of items delivered to U.S. customers with Prime’s free one-day and same-day delivery more than quadrupled compared to the year-ago period.

January 31, 2020

2019 GTA New Home Sales Rally

In 2019, the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home sales rallied from the 22-year low of 2018, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Overall in 2019, there were 36,471 new homes sold in the GTA. Only 24,855 new homes had been sold the previous year, which had made 2018 the year with the lowest number of new home sales in the area since 1996. A busier than normal December contributed to the pick-up in new home sales in 2019 with 2,371 total new home sales in the month. For the year, there were 26,948 condominium apartments sold, up 27 per cent from 2018 and 16 per cent above the 10-year average. There were 9,523 new single family home sales, up 157 per cent from 2018, which was the lowest year for new single-family home sales since comprehensive tracking started in 1981, and 30 per cent below the 10-year average.

Home Hardware Pro Show Has Strong Turn Out

More than 1,200 professional contractors came to see more than 19 exhibitors and 80 hardware and building material suppliers at Home Hardware Building Centre’s ‘National PRO Show’ in Waterloo, ON. Home Hardware Stores Limited holds eight Pro Shows per year across the country, providing attendees the opportunity to network with peers, learn about new products and trends, meet industry experts, and receive hands-on demonstrations. Contractors participated in ‘Contractor Skills Competitions’ which include the Bottle Flip Competition, Iron Man Competition, Ladder Toss Competition, and the Great Pro Show Relay. As well, thousands of dollars in giveaways and door prizes were awarded. The 2020 shows have taken or will take place in Waterloo, Sudbury, Peterborough, and Niagara, ON; Quebec City, QC; Saskatoon, SK; and Calgary and Moncton, AB.

Renoworks Adds Aerial Measurement Data

Renoworks Software Inc. a provider of a visualization platforms for the home remodeling and new home construction industry, has integrated aerial measurement data from EagleView, a technology provider of aerial imagery and data analytics, into the Renoworks FastTrack Platform. This will enable Renoworks to broaden its customer base and provide additional solutions to multiple industry stakeholders, including manufacturers, dealers, contractors, and retailers in both residential and commercial construction projects. Renoworks says these stakeholders are seeking solutions to deliver custom-branded platforms that provide their customers with the design and measurement tools needed to better serve the industry with their products.

Griffon Revenue Up Seven Per Cent

Griffon Corporation had consolidated revenue of $548.4 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of seven per cent compared to consolidated revenue of $510.5 million in the first quarter of its 2019 year. Net income for the quarter was $10.6 million compared to $8.8 million in the prior year quarter. The company had adjusted EBITDA of $55.2 million, up 22 per cent over $45.4 million in the year-ago period. The consumer and professional products segment had an increase in revenue of 11 per cent year-over-year and the home and building products segment had in increase of eight per cent.

January 30, 2020

CPCA Applauds Paint Manufacturers’ Stewardship Commitment

The Canadian paint and coatings industry has been a leader in post-consumer paint recycling for more than 25 years with the first program launched under Product Care in British Columbia in 1994, says the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA). Since the Canada-wide ‘Action Plan on Waste,’ initiated by the Canadian Council of Ministers on the Environment (CCME), all 10 provinces have had legislated paint-recycling programs for most of the past 10 years. “We are very pleased with the full support our manufacturer members have shown for paint recycling right across Canada,” says Richard Tremblay of Benjamin Moore and chair of CPCA. Manufacturers are the ‘obligated stewards’ under these provincial programs and, without the full commitment of those companies, there would be no paint recycling in Canada. To date, the total cost to paint manufacturers for all these programs across Canada since inception is approximately $450 million, $200 million of that amount in Ontario alone since 2010. All of these paint programs are meeting or exceeding targets for waste recovery and recycling.

Strong Year Expected For Metal Roofing

The metal roofing industry is predicted to have another strong year, holding steady and even trending up slightly in 2020, says the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA), a non-profit trade association group. This assumption is based on F.W. Dodge market share data, which states that the 2018 U.S. metal re-roofing residential sector was 13 per cent of the overall total (up from 11 per cent in 2017), making it the second most preferred roofing material. “Durability is the biggest reason why so many homeowners are turning to metal roofing in Canada,” says Philippe LaPlante of Ideal Roofing Co., an MRA member based in Canada. “Customers are looking for a lifetime roof with less work and headaches as possible – something they can protect their house and family with by putting on just once and having that security last for 40 to 50 years or more.” MRA says heightened environmental concerns among U.S. and Canadian citizens also may pique greater interest in metal roofing this year.

Lowe’s Canada Ranks As A Best Employer

Lowe’s Canada, a home improvement retailer operating or servicing close to 600 corporate and affiliated stores under different banners in Canada, has been selected one of Canada's ‘2020 Best Employers’ in a Forbes survey. The retailer ranks in second place for best employer among Canada’s home improvement retailers. “At Lowe's Canada, we are fortunate to count on over 26,000 dedicated employees working at our corporate stores, our distribution centres, and our Boucherville (QC) head office,” says Marc Macdonald, senior vice-president, human resources. “Working in the constantly evolving retail industry, we are always looking for new opportunities to improve the professional experience of our staff, notably by empowering them and encouraging them to contribute in a significant way to achieving our goals. We intend to continue working in this direction.”

Training Program Offers Business Opportunity

Duradek offers a turnkey business opportunity for contractors into the specialty trade of vinyl membrane waterproofing for decks, balconies, and flat roof decks subject to pedestrian traffic. Duradek will train and educate contractors so they become authorized ‘Duradek Dealers.’ A complete ‘Starter Package’ is provided with all of the marketing tools, literature, and promotional items needed for professional representation of the Duradek brand. In addition, all the specialty tools needed to get started are provided in a ‘Starter Kit.’ The training extends to support for initial projects. A Duradek specialist will do on-site training for the first Duradek project while travelling trainers are available to assist in subsequent jobs on request at minimal investment. Technical support and lead generation is ongoing.

DEWALT Offers New 10-inch Wet Tile Saw

DEWALT has launched a 10-inch, High Capacity Wet Tile Saw (D36000). This tool is a lightweight, accurate, and portable choice for cutting small- and large-format tile. It provides capacity for up to 37-inch rip cuts, as well as cutting 24- by 24-inch tile on a diagonal. It also offers 18-inch cutting clearance to the left of the blade and 8-1/2-inch cross cut capacity before the column. The rubber-matted cutting cart provides consistent accuracy to within 1/32-inch over a 30-inch rip cut. This tile saw provides water containment, allowing for set up in a finished space. Durable aluminum framing and stainless-steel rails are built to stand up to tough jobsite environments.

Sales, Earnings Up At Stanley B&D

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, up two per cent compared to net sales of $3.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. The tools and storage segment had a sales increase of one per cent year-over-year, the industrial segment had a sales increase of nine per cent, and the security segment had a sales increase of one per cent. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 31.2 per cent. EBIT was $236.8 million compared to $171 million in the year-ago period. Net earnings were $199.1 million compared to a loss of $106 million last year.

January 29, 2020

Retail Sales Growth Slows To A Crawl

Overall retail sales increased just 0.7 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending November. While an uptick was reported in the media for November alone, this was in comparison to the previous month, October, which was particularly weak. However, for retail sales numbers, one month does not a trend make, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. After 11 months of 2019, year-to-date overall retail sales were up just 1.5 per cent, well below the approximate 3.5 per cent pace needed to keep up with population growth and price inflation. “It's virtually certain that 2019 retail sales growth will end up at a 10-year low.” The underlying 12-month trend peaked two years ago in late 2017, and has been declining ever since. The shorter term three-month trend continues to underperform even that, indicating more weakness ahead. Unusually low growth in the food and drug sector since mid-2019 is probably the most responsible for the recent deterioration of overall retail sales. eCommerce sales were up 15.9 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending November. This was much higher than for location-based retail which gained just 0.7 per cent.

Consumers Shifting To Value Retailers

Despite the persistent threat of a recession, U.S. consumers remain confident about their financial well-being and are contributing to CPG (consumer packaged goods) sales growth, says consumer data company IRI in its 2019 fourth quarter ‘Consumer Connect Survey.’ However, as consumers prioritize saving time, effort, and money, they are shifting their shopping habits to channels they feel best support them. Value retailers, which include dollar stores and eCommerce, have seen 1.4- and six-point increased in penetration, respectively, since 2016. While consumers still favour traditional channels such as grocery, drug, and mass, the penetration in those channels has decreased over the same period, suggesting that they are losing shoppers to other channels. The study also says that, when deciding where to shop, consumers weigh in-store experiential concepts and easy navigation services, as well as price, as heavy motivations for their choices. The ease and value of the dollar channel has led consumers to increase the frequency of trips per month and per-trip spending compared to a year ago, relative to competing channels. eCommerce platforms also experienced a greater number of trips, but saw average basket size decrease, as shoppers get more comfortable with the platform and the expectation of quick delivery.

Hurst Appointed Lowe's Canada President

Anthony T. (Tony) Hurst has been appointed president of Lowe’s Canada, pending work authorization which is expected in February. Most recently, he was senior vice-president of enterprise and strategy transformation with Lowe’s and also held the position of division president for the west region. Tony Cioffi will continue to act as interim president and, after the transition, will resume his previous role as group financial officer (GFO) and leader of the affiliated dealers, real estate, and Dick's Lumber businesses.

Acquisitions Increase 3M Sales

3M had sales of $8.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.1 per cent compared to sales $7.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Organic local-currency sales declined 2.6 per cent year-over-year while acquisitions increased sales by 5.1 per cent. Total sales were flat in the consumer segment and down 4.8 per cent in the safety and industrial segment. Operating income for the quarter was $1.3 billion compared to $1.8 billion in the year-ago period. Operating margins were 16.3 per cent compared to 22.4 per cent. The company says it has entered the next stage of its transformation journey which includes a new global operating model and streamlined organizational structure.

Retail, Manufacturing To Drive Robotic Spend

The retail supply chain and manufacturing industries will be two of the top spenders on robotic systems and drones through 2023, says a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC). Spending is forecast to reach $128.7 billion in 2020, an increase of 17.1 per cent over 2019. IDC expects this spending will reach $241.4 billion by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8 per cent. Robotics systems will be the larger of the two categories throughout the forecast period with worldwide robotics spending forecast to be $112.4 billion in 2020. Spending on drones will total $16.3 billion in 2020 but is forecast to grow at a faster rate (33.3 per cent CAGR) than robotics systems (17.8 per cent CAGR). The industries that will see the fastest growth in robotics spending over the 2019 to 2023 forecast are wholesale (30.5 per cent CAGR), retail (29.3 per cent CAGR), and construction (25.2 per cent CAGR). Consumers will dominate spending on drones, followed by the utilities sector, construction, and manufacturing.

January 28, 2020

Independents Have Options Due To Size

Due to their smaller operational size and customer base, independent retailers are in a unique position to quickly implement new technologies and initiatives, says Lightspeed’s ‘Trend Report: Future of Retail: Retail isn’t dead – it’s evolving.’ This gives them the opportunity to be more competitive in a time when discussions surrounding technology are not always positive. While customers today still prefer to shop in physical stores, eCommerce sales are growing at a faster rate than sales at physical stores. As a result, brick-and-mortar retailers who embrace omnichannel sales and new technologies are being rewarded with record growth, increased customer engagement, and the ability to reach new global markets. Independents can implement cloud-based technology, sustainable order fulfillment, and returns processes and win more enviro-conscious customers more quickly than their larger counterparts. They are also at an advantage to provide their customers with a personal experience at all touchpoints. The report says independents should also look at new payment options and pricing strategies to further their ability to compete.

VELUX North America Announces Management Promotions

Bill Charlton has been named director of sales, with responsibility for residential sales activities in the U.S. Ross Vandermark has been named the director of national product management. Chan Hoyle has been promoted to director of national marketing communications, continuing management of all U.S. marketing communication activities and now supporting some VELUX Canada marketing activities. The promotions follow the December announcement about the creation of VELUX Group North America, led by CEO Timothy B. Miller. There will be no structural changes to VELUX Canada Inc.

Soft Demand Affects Whirlpool Sales

Whirlpool Corporation had net sales of $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of 4.9 per cent compared to net sales of $5.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Organic net sales increased 1.2 per cent year-over-year and North American sales decreased 0.3 per cent. Net earnings were $288 million (5.4 per cent of sales) in the quarter, an increase over net earnings of $170 million (three per cent of sales) in the year-ago period. Ongoing EBIT was $389 million (7.2 per cent of sales) compared to $348 million (6.2 per cent of sales). The company says results reflect soft industry demand.

Opportunities Abound At Germany Hardware Fair

In addition to discovering products, visitors to the 2020 ‘EISENWARENMESSE - International Hardware Fair’ can learn about current developments and trends in the hardware industry. This year, the show once again features ‘EISENforum,’ which offers lectures, panels, awards, and networking opportunities. Back too is ‘DIY Boulevard,’ a presentation area for the DIY supplier. Visitors can also learn about additive and spare part production and 3D printing at the ‘Special Show 3D.’ The show takes place March 1 to 4 in Cologne, Germany. For more information, visit EISENWARENMESSE

January 27, 2020

November Retail Sales Edge Up

In November, retail sales rose 0.9 per cent to $51.5 billion, largely offsetting the 1.1 per cent decline in October, says Statistics Canada. The increase was primarily attributable to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at food and beverage stores, both of which were down in October. Higher sales were reported in six of 11 subsectors, representing 70 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.7 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+2.1 per cent) were up for the first time in the last five months. Furniture and home furnishing stores has an increase of 0.3 per cent year-over-year while sales at electronics and appliance stores decreased 19.9 per cent. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales amounted to $2.4 billion in November, accounting for 4.4 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 6.6 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 2.2 per cent.

Richelieu Acquires MIBRO Group

Richelieu Hardware has acquired Toronto, ON-based MIBRO Group. MIBRO is a supplier of power tool accessories and other hardware and hand tool related products. Its products are carried by most major retailers in Canada, the U.S. and Central South America, with an extensive offering for its customers’ private-label brands. In addition, MIBRO supplies rope, chain, and accessories with the brands KingChain, KingCord, and DitchPig. For the woodworker, it offers the Wolfcraft brand, a German brand of specialty tools. This addition for Richelieu expands the enterprise offering combining a broad range of products and services to hardware retailers for the do-it-yourselfer and professional.

Simpson Strong-Tie Largest Post Base Now Code Listed

Simpson Strong-Tie has received code listing from the International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES) for the largest size of its MPBZ moment post base. The MPBZ received ICC-ES code listing for moment resistance in 2018 for its 4x4 (inches) and 6x6 sizes, and now has a code listing for the 8x8 size. As a first-of-its-kind product, there was no code acceptance criteria for the MPBZ. Simpson Strong-Tie worked with the ICC Evaluation Service to develop criteria for code listing, a process which included industry expert input, public hearings, and code enforcement official committee review and approval. With the inclusion of the 8x8 post base, all sizes of the MPBZ are now code listed under ICC-ES ESR-3050 for uplift, download, and lateral resistance, as well as for allowable moment in reinforced concrete footings.

Strong Growth Forecast For Tile Grout

The global tile grout and adhesives market is forecast to reach $3.88 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8 per cent during the forecast period, says a report from Allied Market Research. The rise in adoption of thermally treated tiles, a surge in popularity of outdoor entertaining areas among residential end-users, and an increase in residential and non-residential construction activities are a few drivers behind the growth. While substitute products may impede this growth to a certain extent, growing emphasis toward utilization of low-VOC grout and adhesives is expected to pave the way for several opportunities in the near future. Based on type, the adhesive segment accounted for three-fourths of the global grout and adhesives market share in 2018, and is expected to dominate throughout the forecast period. The grout segment, on the other hand, is anticipated to cite the fastest CAGR of 7.4 per cent by the end of 2026. The ability of grout to offer chemical resistance and compressive strength and stiffness is estimated to lead the growth of the segment. Based on application, the residential segment contributed to nearly three-fifths of the global grout and adhesives market revenue in 2018, and is projected to lead the trail till 2026.

January 24, 2020

Uncertainty Lingers Among Business Leaders

A significant number of Canadian business leaders are pessimistic about the prospects of the national economy over the next 12 months, says a survey by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Roughly 30 per cent of professional accountants in leadership positions are pessimistic, basically unchanged from the previous quarter. Optimism among those surveyed sits at 26 per cent. The largest group – 45 per cent – are neither optimistic nor pessimistic. The top challenge to the country’s economic growth is cited as uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy. Other issues include protectionist trade sentiments in U.S., a lack of skilled workers, and the state of the U.S. economy. Respondents continue to be more confident in the outlook for their own organization as opposed to the national economy. Half of respondents are optimistic about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months, up slightly from the previous quarter. Only 21 per cent report pessimism about their organization's prospects in 2020 and 28 per cent report feeling neutral.

Quebec Investors To Acquire Canam’s Canadian Operations

Placements CMI (Marcel Dutil family), the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), and Fonds de solidarité FTQ (the Fonds) plan to acquire all of Canam Group's Canadian operations, as well as certain assets in the U.S. and overseas, from equity firm American Industrial Partners. The company will now be owned equally by this group of Québec investors. The acquisition brings together the Canam Buildings plants located in St. Gédéon-de-Beauce and Boucherville, QC; Mississauga, ON; and Calgary, AB; as well as Canam Bridges plants located in Quebec City, Laval, and Shawinigan, QC. The engineering and drafting offices in Brasov, Romania, and Kolkata, India, and Stonebridge's erection operations in South Plainfield, New Jersey, as well as Canam Bridges U.S.'s assets located in Claremont, NH, will also be part of the new company. The operations of U.S. subsidiaries Canam Steel Corporation and FabSouth are not affected by this deal. The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks.

Uniboard Launches Exterior Panel

Quebec-based Uniboard has launched an exterior panel called Nexos. The panel resistant to moisture and made from 100 per cent pre-consumer recycled and recovered wood fibre with no added formaldehyde. They are designed for non-structural and paint-grade applications such as exterior millwork, window boards, mouldings, signs, and exterior cladding. The panels are available in standard North American sizes and thicknesses and will be manufactured and stocked at Uniboard’s MDF plant in Mont-Laurier.

Resolute To Product Cellulose Filaments

Resolute Forest Products Inc. is building a commercial plant to specialize in the production of cellulose filaments, a sustainable biomaterial derived from wood fibre, at its Kénogami paper mill in Quebec. It also intends to optimize the mill. “Our investment in cellulose filaments represents an opportunity to enter into non-traditional growth markets,” says Yves Laflamme, president and chief executive officer. Cellulose filaments are derived from wood fibre that is mechanically processed without chemicals or enzymes. They are manufactured entirely from renewable sources, resulting in a low carbon footprint. They offer a wide variety of uses and a number of benefits; the filaments can be integrated into commercial and consumer products from many industries, including transportation, construction, and energy, increasing the resistance and durability of those products.

Richelieu Sales Rise

Richelieu Hardware had sales of $265 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.4 per cent compared to sales of $258.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales to the manufacturers market increased four per cent and sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores decreased 8.2 per cent year-over-year. Sale in Canada increased four per cent, with sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores decreasing 5.6 per cent. Overall EBITDA was $31.2 million compared to $29.2 million in the year-ago period and EBITDA margin was 11.8 per cent compared to 11.3 per cent. Net earnings increased 5.3 per cent over last year.

January 23, 2020

November Wholesale Sales Decline

Wholesale sales declined 1.2 per cent to $63.2 billion in November, the third decline in five months, says Statistics Canada. Five of the seven subsectors reported lower sales, accounting for 77 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector led the decrease. The agricultural supplies, personal and household goods, and the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment, and supplies industries all had declines in sales for the month. The building material and supplies industry had wholesale sales of $8.87 billion in November, down 1.3 per cent year-over-year. The electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment and supplies subsector had an increase in sales of 5.4 per cent over last year. Overall wholesale inventories increased 0.4 per cent to $91.9 billion after three consecutive monthly declines. Despite the increase in November, inventories were down 1.8 per cent from their highest level in July 2019.

Castle Expands In Western Canada

Thorsby, AB-based Ruhr Valley Lumber has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Founder Matthew Ruhr grew up in the area just outside of Edmonton and spent many of his adolescent years studying carpentry with his grandfather. This sparked his passion for the building materials industry and, before founding Ruhr Valley Lumber, he spent years working in retail home improvement further enhancing his experience and building material knowledge. “We chose Castle because their transparency and flexibility stood out from the other groups,” he says. “The diversity of the buying program enables us to compete with the big box stores and access the product assortment we need to be competitive. Flying the Castle banner in the town of Thorsby will create a deeper connection with the local community and it gives us the freedom to run the business our way.” The full-service lumber, building material, and hardware centre has plans for a grand opening celebration in late spring.

Crispo Launches Rewards App For 100th Anniversary Celebration

Crispo Canada is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The family-owned company was founded 1920 and is one of the oldest fastening supply companies in Canada. It serves the retail and industrial trade industries and distributes fasteners to the pneumatic tool industry. It is also a full-line distributor of air tools, hoses, compressors, and handheld staplers. To celebrate the anniversary, the company has launched its Crispo Rewards App. It will allow customers to gain points towards rewards with each purchase as well as gain entries to a draw for an ATV. In addition, the store from which the grand prize winner purchased their Crispo product will win a $1,000 credit. The app is available on both the Apple and Google Play stores.

BMR Group Launches Employer Brand Campaign

BMR Group has launched an employer brand campaign under the slogan, ‘Release Your Potential.’ The group is using this campaign to attract new talent. In collaboration with the marketing firm HRM, BMR Group developed the campaign which embodies the value the company places in autonomy, its human-centred culture, and the opportunities it offers for career advancement. The group is a few weeks away from a large recruitment drive to fill 1,100 positions in its network to lead up to the hardware industry’s peak period in the spring. “The labour shortage directly impacts our dealers’ operations, says Marc Gauthier, vice-president of human resources with BMR. “Our employer image will be used for hiring at the head office and in our warehouses and for supporting our dealers in their recruitment process across the country.” As part of the campaign, BMR Group teamed up with the production agency, Oranje, to develop some short video clips to be posted on social media.

Sexton Group Makes Leadership Changes

Brian Kusisto will be chairman of Sexton Group Ltd., effective February 1. He is currently chief executive officer of the Sexton parent company. Steve Buckle will be chief executive officer of the Sexton parent company. He is currently president. Eric Palmer will be vice-president and general manager of the Sexton Group. He has been with the group for five years and has held positions with increasing responsibilities. Tom Bell will be vice-president of business development for the Sexton Group. He has been with the company since 2018.

January 22, 2020

Building Construction Investment Has Slight Increase

Total investment in building construction edged up 0.1 per cent from October to $15.5 billion in November, says Statistics Canada. Investment in the non-residential sector rose 0.8 per cent to $5 billion, while the residential sector decreased 0.2 per cent to $10.6 billion. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction was largely unchanged at $12.8 billion. Residential sector investment was down in five provinces in November, particularly in Ontario (-$17.3 million), Quebec (-$14.0 million), and Manitoba (-$11.8 million). Nationally, investment in single-unit dwellings decreased two per cent to $5.2 billion, while multi-unit dwellings increased 1.6 per cent to $5.4 billion. In the non-residential sector, investment in the commercial component increased 1.4 per cent, investment in the institutional component edged down 0.2 per cent, and investment in the industrial component rose 0.4 per cent.

Manufacturing Sales Down

Manufacturing sales declined 0.6 per cent to $57 billion in November, the third consecutive monthly decrease, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales in the primary metal, chemical, and food industries were partly offset by higher sales in the transportation and fabricated metal industries. Sales were down in 11 of 21 industries, representing 55 per cent of total manufacturing sales. Sales of non-durable goods fell 1.3 per cent, while sales of durable goods were unchanged. Sales of primary metals were down 11.7 per cent to $3.8 billion in November, the largest monthly decline since December 2008, while sales of fabricated metal products increased 4.7 per cent to $3.5 billion following a 5.8 per cent drop in October. Sales were down in eight provinces in November, led by Quebec, Alberta, and New Brunswick. Ontario reported the largest monthly increase. Inventory levels increased 0.5 per cent for the month, following two monthly declines. Inventories were up in 11 of 21 industries

December U.S. Construction Starts Fall 21 Per Cent

Total U.S. construction starts in December dropped 21 per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $800.4 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The sharp decline was largely a response to hefty gains posted in November’s utility and manufacturing sectors. When removing the influence of these two volatile sectors, total construction starts only fell three per cent in December. By major sector, non-residential building starts fell 20 per cent in December, while non-building starts dropped 41 per cent and residential starts lost four per cent over the month. The pullback in December pushed the Dodge Index down to 169 compared to the 213 posted in November and just below the 12-month average of 174. For the full year, total construction starts were essentially flat when compared to 2018 at $817.6 billion.

LP And DUC To Continue Boreal Forest Management

Louisiana-Pacific Building Solutions (LP), an international engineered wood products company that is certified to Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards and has managed forestlands in Manitoba’s boreal forest since 1996, has signed a new stewardship agreement with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). This agreement between a conservation agency and a forest product company demonstrates a shared commitment to wetland stewardship through planning and operational wetland best management practices. The agreement also includes an annual commitment by LP to continue implementing wetland best management practices and to modify its approach based on new applicable science. The stewardship report, a resource complementary to the agreement, has the endorsement of SFI, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), the LP Swan Valley Stakeholders Advisory Committee, and an Elder from Pine Creek First Nation.

Home Show Covers Family Inclusion

Finding the best ways to get the whole family involved in a renovation is one of the main topics at this year’s ‘GTA Home & Reno Show.’ DIY experts, renovators, and speakers will discuss topics such as smaller projects kids can get their hands dirty with, asking kids for input, and preparing for what your kids will need later. The show takes place February 14 to 17 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For information, visit the GTA Home & Reno Show

January 21, 2020

Moneris Partners With Bookmark

Moneris Solutions Corporation has entered into a strategic partnership and will make an investment in Bookmark Your Life, Inc., a Toronto, ON-based company. Through this partnership, Moneris and Bookmark will offer a complete online business solution from website creation to payment acceptance for small businesses seeking a robust, easy-to-manage online presence. The partnership makes Moneris the exclusive payment processing solution for Bookmark customers in Canada. Bookmark is a website building platform that utilizes artificial design intelligence to create full-featured business websites. Moneris will work with Bookmark to promote the relationship and integration in market with the goal of educating small businesses on the importance of having an online presence that allows them to expand their business and increase sales.

SMBs Still Not Meeting Consumer Needs

Canadians are increasingly looking to shop online – but less than one third of small- and medium-sized businesses have eCommerce capabilities, says a report from Visa Canada. The report says that consumer behaviour is changing with 90 per cent of consumers saying they are motivated to shop at a business if they have an easy-to-use website. An online presence is a must because half of consumers often search online (46 per cent) and/or check the business website (47 per cent) before visiting a new business. With only 32 per cent of small businesses selling product and services online, having a digital commerce presence can provide a huge opportunity for Canadian businesses. Digital payments can also improve profitability, says the report. Eighty-five per cent of consumers say digital payment methods – including card payments – are their number one preferred payment option. However, only 52 per cent of small businesses accept digital payments. Forty per cent of small businesses that started to accept digital payments saw an increase in sales by an average of 7.1 per cent.

Red Rock Introduces Capped Screw

Red Rock Distribution has introduced Znal, a zinc/aluminum capped screw with an innovative patent-pending design that is designed for speed and productivity. The screw’s nick tip enables a faster cutting speed and the cap design reduces waste because it is firmly attached to multiple points on the body of the screw. The product cap is made of Zamak 5 (Zink Alloy 5), which has a higher copper content than traditional screws made from Zamak 3. The indented cap seats properly with all major brands of hex driver bits, which will reduce ‘walking’ of the fastener. Znal is available in #12 and #14 diameters from 7/8- to 2-1/2-inches in length. It is ideally suited for the construction industry, including metal buildings, wood buildings, self-storage units, pole barns, and decks. It is sold exclusively in North America through Red Rock Distribution.

Lowe’s Cos. Launches Super Bowl Campaign

As the 2020 presenting sponsor of the NFL's ‘Super Bowl Experience,’ Lowe's Companies, Inc.’s plans for Super Bowl LIV will encourage NFL fans to ‘Bring It Home’ and prepare for the big game with products, tips, and team-inspired dwellings. “Just as the two teams in the Super Bowl will be looking to bring home a championship, Lowe's is stepping up its game and helping fans bring the NFL experience to homes across the country,” said Bill Boltz, executive vice-president, merchandising. “Fans can find inspiration from their team's ‘dwelling’ at ‘Super Bowl Experience’ in Miami as well as shop more than 10,000 NFL-branded products, appliances, and grills at Lowe's to create updated spaces for the ultimate Super Bowl parties.” As part of Lowe's presenting sponsorship of the NFL's Super Bowl Experience in Miami, 'Lowe's Hometown' is the first of its kind interactive fan experience featuring custom built dwellings representing all 32 NFL teams. This neighbourhood will showcase an idyllic community founded upon the love of the NFL and the unique characteristics of each team and the city in which they call home.

Robotic Mowers To Drive Mower Sales

The global lawn mower market is forecast to reach $14.59 billion by 2026 at 5.1 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), says a report by Allied Market Research. The industry was at $9.75 billion in 2018. Rise in consumer interest in gardening activities, increase in adoption of cordless lawnmowers, and usage of lawnmower equipment to maintain public facilities have boosted growth of the market. As well, the emergence of remote-controlled and GPS-equipped products is expected to create lucrative opportunities in the near future. The robotic mowers segment is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 10.1 per cent during the forecast period, owing to rapid launches of new products by market players to improve product portfolio and compete against intense competition.

January 20, 2020

U.S. Holiday Sales Up 4.1 Per Cent

U.S. holiday retail sales during 2019 grew 4.1 per cent over the same period in 2018 to $730.2 billion, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Online and other non-store sales were up 14.6 per cent over the year before at $167.8 billion and are included in the total. “This is a consumer-driven economy and, by any measure, the consumer has put the economy in a solid position for continued growth,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “This is a strong finish to the holiday season and we think it’s a positive indicator of what’s ahead.” The growth rate is nearly double the weak 2.1 per cent seen during the 2018 holiday season, which was slowed by a government shutdown, stock market volatility, and interest rate hikes. Sales during December 2018 were down 0.2 percent from the year before. Building materials and garden supply stores were up one per cent year-over-year during the November/December period, furniture and home furnishings stores were up 2.6 per cent, and electronics and appliance stores were down two per cent.

U.S. Builder Confidence Edges Down

U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes edged one point lower to 75 in January, says the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo in its ‘Housing Market Index (HMI).’ However, the last two monthly readings mark the highest sentiment levels since July of 1999. The HMI index charting traffic of prospective buyers increased one point to 58, the highest level since December 2017. The gauge measuring current sales conditions fell three points to 81 and the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months held steady at 79. Privately-owned housing starts were up 16.9 per cent in December over November and up 40.8 per cent over December 2018, says the U.S. Commerce Department. Single-family housing starts were up 11.2 per cent compared to November. U.S. housing starts for all of 2019 were up 3.2 per cent over 2018.

Bestar Acquires Bush Industries

Quebec-based Bestar, a Novacap portfolio company, has acquired Bush Industries, an American manufacturer of case goods and RTA (ready to assemble) furniture for the office and home. The companies share some customers across the North American market and will leverage each other's strengths to continue to accelerate current growth. Together, they will provide a large and growing product offering across several categories and leverage shipping and manufacturing capabilities. The combined companies will have a workforce of over 600 employees, including more than 200 in Canada.

TOUGHBUILT To Launch Hand Tool Products

ToughBuilt Industries, Inc. will launch 14 categories of hand tools for the professional and DIY markets in the first half of 2020. “We are looking forward to launching our innovative pro grade hand tools with several patents in targeted markets,” says Michael Panosian, chief executive officer. “Hand tools are higher velocity items and we will be marketing both domestically and throughout Europe in 2020.”

Boise Cascade Makes Leadership Changes

Nate Jorgensen will be chief executive officer of Boise Cascade Company. He joined the company in 2017 and was named chief operating officer in 2019. Rob Johnson is vice-president of engineered wood products (EWP) sales and marketing. He has been with the company since 2014, and was most recently a director with EWP sales and marketing. Chris Seymour is vice-president of manufacturing operations, wood products. He began his career at Boise Cascade in 2000 and has held several leadership roles in the company’s manufacturing division. Jeff Strom is vice-president and general manager, eastern region, building materials distribution. He joined the company in 2006.

Vending, Onsite Drive Fastenal Sales

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,276.9 million for the fourth quarter of its 2019 year, an increase of 3.7 per cent compared to net sales of $1,231.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2018. Drivers of the increase included industrial vending and onsite locations. Sales of fastener products grew 1.8 per cent on a daily basis year-over-year and represented 33.6 per cent of sales. Sales of non-fastener products grew 5.1 per cent and represented 66.4 per cent of sales. Gross profit for the quarter was $598.4 million and 46.9 per cent of sales, up 1.8 per cent compared to gross profit of $587.8 million and 47.7 per cent of sales. Net earnings were $178.7 million, up 5.9 per cent compared to net earnings of $168.8 million.

January 17, 2020

Slight Gains Forecast For U.S. Renovation Spending

National spending for improvements and repairs on owner-occupied homes in the U.S. is expected to rise only modestly this year, says 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 home remodeling expenditures will increase by just 1.5 per cent in 2020 compared with annual gains of five to seven per cent in recent years. “While homebuilding and sales activity are now firming, softness from earlier last year will continue to pull on remodeling spending growth in 2020,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center. “However, the slowdown should begin to moderate by year-end as today’s healthier housing market indicators will ultimately lead to more home renovation and repair.” The centre says, however, that even with the lacklustre forecast, home improvement and repair expenditures in the U.S. are still set to expand to over US$330 billion this year.

Beacon Roofing Rebrands

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. will rename its 40 brands across the U.S. and Canada that sell exterior products to Beacon Building Products. The name reflects the company’s ability to supply customers with a broad range of residential and commercial building products. The new name and logo will be adopted at over 450 Beacon one-step exterior products branches. In addition, the company has invested in its omni-channel approach. A single website is serving customers more seamlessly by providing connectivity to its exclusive Beacon Pro+ eCommerce site and the Beacon 3D+ estimating platform. Beacon’s OTC (On-Time & Complete) Network has been further developed to support in-store and online customers with enhanced product availability, delivery tracking, and notification. Beacon’s interior, insulation, weatherproofing and two-step branches will continue to operate under current brand names.

APA Publishes Updated Engineered Wood Guide

APA – The Engineered Wood Association has released its updated ‘APA Engineered Wood Construction Guide, Form E30.’ The 100-page guide features information on engineered wood products and recommendations for their use in a wide range of applications in residential and commercial construction. It includes illustrations and information on typical specifications for engineered wood products and design recommendations for floor, wall and roof systems, diaphragms, shear walls, fire-rated systems, and finishing methods. A free electronic copy is available on the APA website.

Trex Company Launches Composite Cladding

Trex Company has added Trex Cladding to its portfolio of products. The composite cladding replaces hardwood planks in modern rainscreen systems and is resistant to fading and stains while eliminating the need for sanding and sealing. The open-joint façade system promotes airflow over the water-resistant barrier behind the cladding. The product uses square-edge Trex Transcend deck boards to create a modern design and can be applied horizontally or vertically. The boards are made from 95 per cent recycled plastic and reclaimed wood scrap and are backed by a 25-year product and fade and stain warranties for both commercial and residential projects. It is available in three board lengths and 10 colour options.

Glass For Windows And Doors Market To Grow

Demand for glass used in windows and doors is forecast to increase 4.3 per cent per year from $3.6 billion in 2018 to $4.4 billion in 2023, says a study by The Freedonia Group. The ‘Window & Door Components’ study says demand is created by above average advances in residential replacement window sales and homeowners’ tendency to trade up to higher quality products when selecting replacement fenestration. As well, ongoing efforts by home and commercial building owners to reduce energy costs by investing in higher value windows and doors with better insulative properties is also increasing demand. The trend of larger window and patio doors, including multi-panel and multi-fold patio doors, also support the glass market, as does expanding interest in advanced glass tinting technologies such as ‘smart glass’ products that can be controlled via smart devices.

Craig Named CFO

Gregory Craig will be executive vice-president and chief financial officer with Canadian Tire Corporation, effective March 2. He has been with the company for more than 25 years, most recently as president and chief executive officer of Canadian Tire Bank.

January 16, 2020

Third Quarter Renovation Product Sales Strong

Retail sales in Canada reached $160.8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, up 1.6 per cent from the same quarter of 2018, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in 10 commodity groupings. The largest increase in dollar terms came from motor vehicles (+4.4 per cent). Sales of hardware, tools, and renovation and lawn and garden products were up 5.2 per cent in the third quarter. Higher sales of renovation materials and supplies (+4.6 per cent) led the gains, followed by hardware and tools (+7.5 per cent). The largest decline in sales was posted by automotive and household fuels (-4.7 per cent), which posted its third consecutive quarterly decline. Lower revenue from automotive fuels (-4.7 per cent) accounted for the majority of this decline.

December Home Sales Inch Lower

Home sales edged down 0.9 per cent in December, ending a streak of monthly gains that began last March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Activity is currently about 18 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019 but ends the year about seven per cent below the heights recorded in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined, with higher sales in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Calgary, AB, and Montreal, QC, offsetting declines in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ottawa, ON. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 22.7 per cent compared to a quiet month of December in 2018. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels across most of Canada, including all of the largest urban markets. The number of newly listed homes slid a further 1.8 per cent in December, leaving new supply close to its lowest level in a decade. December's decline was driven mainly by fewer new listings in the GTA and Ottawa – the same markets most responsible for the decline in sales. Listings available for purchase are now running at a 12-year low.

Business Owners Will Keep Investing

Many Canadian entrepreneurs will continue investing in their companies in 2020 despite growing uncertainty about world economies, says a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Canadian entrepreneurs in the manufacturing and services sectors expect to see their businesses' sales grow and they intend to hire workers to meet a sustained demand for their products and services. Overall, business owners plan to increase their investments in technology, marketing initiatives, intellectual property, and employee training. This is in line with a shift toward a services economy and the digitization of businesses. However, investments in tangible assets such as real estate, machinery, and equipment will decline, a trend BDC identified in previous studies. Investment intentions are highest in Ontario and Quebec where manufacturing, technology, and services are the strongest sectors. Investment intentions are declining in British Columbia where spending intentions on machinery and equipment have significantly decreased. Business owners are the most pessimistic in the Prairies, mostly because of low commodity prices and limited cash flow. Labour shortages are of concern in some areas, notably Quebec, where they are the top factor limiting investment.

Lowe’s, Wayfair Partner With Google Cloud

Google Cloud has partnered with Lowe’s Companies Inc. and Wayfair to help the retailers deliver better customer experiences and run operations more efficiently. Google Cloud’s technology foundation for Lowe’s includes investments toward modernizing the retailer’s eCommerce, merchandising, supply chain management, and pricing systems to provide a more fluid, ‘channel-less’ customer experience spanning from product discovery to return visits. Lowe’s is in the early stages of a large-scale, multiyear technology transformation, investing more than $500 million annually through 2021 and hiring up to 2,000 engineers to continue to build out future retail experiences. Wayfair debuted its hybrid cloud strategy earlier this year. Wayfair now uses several different Google Cloud solutions – including compute, storage, and networking, data and analytics, and G Suite productivity tools – to enhance a shopping experience that delights customers from product discovery to final delivery.

IKEA Canada Closes Pick-up Points

IKEA Canada will close its Pick-up and Order Point units in Kitchener, London, St. Catharines, Whitby, and Windsor, ON, effective January 29. In 2015, the retailer launched the Pick-up and Order Point concept as part of a global test program to learn more about how our customers want to shop with IKEA in new retail formats. With the test concluded, IKEA Canada has decided to close the existing units. The company says that to best meet its customers’ needs in these markets, it will explore new solutions with a focus on enhancing digital tools and improving its local service offer.

January 15, 2020

Digital Technology Will Transform Coatings Industry

In 2018, paint and coating manufacturers were putting digital technology to use in only a limited number of digital domains. Since then, the use of digital technology by these coatings companies has accelerated and, today, all leading formulators now have digital initiatives across multiple domains, says research from Frost & Sullivan. The research and consulting firm says that new digital business models such as data monetization and coatings-as-a-service will completely transform the way the paints and coatings industry operates in the next 10 years. As well, the role of digital leadership, especially chief digital officers (CDO), is poised to explode in 2020, addressing the lack of top-level digital strategy management that remains a challenge for the paints and coatings industry to date. The proper adoption of digital concepts will be disruptive for the industry, and it requires a different way of thinking. With a CDO at the helm, companies can realize their digital transformation goals quickly and effectively.

Business Leaders Lack Plans To Build Trust

Trust is a key matter for business leaders around the world, but there are significant gaps between business leaders’ thoughts and actions, says the ‘2020 Global Pulse Survey’ by YPO, a global leadership community. The survey says 96 per cent of chief executives rate building and maintaining trust with stakeholders as a high priority, with close to half (42 per cent) saying that the importance of building trust with stakeholders has increased in the past five years. Yet, only 40 per cent of chief executives find it easy to build trust with employees, and they find it even more challenging to do so with their customers (36 per cent). Most chief executives understand the weight of their role, with 89 per cent agreeing that they, as business leaders, are under pressure to embody their organizations' values through their actions. Over 60 per cent of business leaders have yet to measure employee trust within their business and only a third (34 per cent) have defined specific plans within their business for building/maintaining employee trust.

NL Retailer Named gia Winner

St. John’s, NL-based HOME on water st. was named the gia winner for 2019-2020 in Canada by the International Housewares Association’s (IHA) ‘Global Innovation Awards’ (gia) program. The award recognizes outstanding home and housewares retailers from 31 countries around the globe to foster innovation and excellence. The competition honours independent and multiple-location home and housewares retailers for excellence in several business categories including overall mission statement, vision, and strategy; store design and layout; visual merchandising, displays, and window displays; marketing, advertising, and promotions; customer service and staff training; and innovation. Each winner is invited to IHA’s ‘Inspired Home Show’ in Chicago, IL, where the global gia jury will select up to five gia global honourees and the winners of the ‘Martin M. Pegler Award for Excellence in Visual Merchandising’ and the ‘gia Digital Commerce Award for Excellence in Online Retailing.’ Winners will be honoured at an awards dinner at the show on March 14.

Nairn Named HBC President

Iain Nairn has been appointed president of Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Most recently, he was chief executive officer of kikki.K, a global Swedish design and stationery business with product lines available in over 147 countries.

BB&B Sales Slide

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had net sales of $2.8 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of nine per cent compared to net sales of $3 billion in the third quarter of its 2018 year. Comparable sales declined 8.3 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $914 million compared to $1 billion. The company had a net loss of $38.6 million, which compared to net earnings of $24.4 million in the year-ago period. The adjusted net loss was $46.9 million compared to net earnings of $2.7 million.

January 14, 2020

Shoppers Like To Research Online

Canadian shoppers who bought products or services and visited a physical store, used an app, or used a website before making the purchase visit three digital channels on average before buying, says a report by Eagle Eye, a SaaS technology company. Roughly one-third of consumers are likely to visit a social network before making a purchase either online or in-store. Sixty-one per cent of consumers conduct at least one online shopping activity prior to purchase in-store. In addition, 64 per cent of consumers say relevant marketing is very important to them and 59 per cent collected or used loyalty points or vouchers within two weeks of taking the survey. Eagle Eye says by examining how Canadian consumers now conduct the search, browsing, discovery, and buying phases of their shopping journeys, businesses can be better prepared to meet customers' expectations both online and in-store. This information also ensures retailers' overall marketing efforts will deliver the most value for customers and generate positive returns on their investment.

Elastic Path Acquires Moltin

Elastic Path, a commerce solutions company, has acquired fellow commerce technology company Moltin to create a commerce platform that will offer microservices to business owners. Elastic Path says the acquisition comes as global demand grows for extensible, flexible, and scalable enterprise commerce solutions. It will bolster the company’s mission to empower businesses to transform every customer interaction across B2C, B2B, B2B2C, and B2B2B use cases into unique and engaging digital commerce experiences. Through business user tools, a library of ready-to-use commerce experiences, and the ability to extend commerce functionality, Elastic Path can now help brands, manufacturers, and retailers deliver digital customer journeys that are fully tailored to their businesses.

Thalberg Named Chief Brand And Marketing Officer

Marisa F. Thalberg will be executive vice-president, chief brand and marketing officer, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective February 10. Most recently, she was global chief brand officer with Taco Bell.

Weak Demand Affects Acuity Brands Sales

Acuity Brands, Inc. had net sales of $834.7 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, a decrease of 10.5 per cent compared with net sales of $932.6 million in the year-ago period. Operating profit for the quarter was $83.6 million, a decrease of 28 per cent compared with operating profit of $116.4 million. Net income was $57 million, a decrease of 28 per cent compared with net income of 79.6 million last year. Adjusted operating profit decreased 11.3 per cent to $119 million. The company says net sales were down due to weaker than expected market demand.

January 13, 2020

Retailers Must Adapt To Consumer Behaviour

“Because digital is becoming a more intrinsic shopping experience, retailers need to become data-driven to reach customers through online experiences; deliver promotions, offers, and prices that reflect each shopper's preferences; and orchestrate communications across mobile apps and devices and virtual assistants. Personalization opportunities are shifting rapidly to digital omnichannel touch-points,” says Brian Crain, head of global business development at Precima. A survey by the company shows that consumers are increasingly shopping online and 55 per cent prefer personalized promotions. Crain says retailers need to meet customers’ online shopping expectations understanding that trust, quality, convenience, choice, and personalized promotions and offers make the difference. They also need to adapt the store format to shoppers’ behaviour. Crain is speaking at the ‘NRF’s 2020 Big Show’ in New York City, NY, on January 14 to reveal findings of the survey and what they mean to retailers.

Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Home Market

The market for smart homes is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent from 2019 to 2024, says a report by Mordor Intelligence. The smart home system requires a smartphone application or web portal as a user interface to interact with an automated system. Smart HVAC systems are a significant contributors to the market. The smart HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) systems are critical with respect to the environmental controls around the house. They comprise of smart thermostats, sensors, control valves, smart actuators, air conditioning systems, and smart room heaters. Across the globe, owing to the increasing government regulations across developed and developing countries, most of the new buildings need smarter heating and cooling systems, thus augmenting the growth of HVAC systems. The introduction of innovative wireless technologies, including HVAC controller, security and access regulators, and entertainment controls, is also expected to foster market growth.

Nielsen Acquires Precima

Nielsen Global Connect (NGC) has completed its acquisition of Precima, a software as a service (SaaS)-based provider of retail and customer data applications and analytics, from Alliance Data Systems Corp. Through this acquisition, NGC will deepen its portfolio of personalized and addressable pricing, promotion, and assortment capabilities by leveraging Precima's consumer loyalty and retailer analytics solutions. The addition of Precima into NGC’s portfolio will allow Nielsen to accelerate its new product capabilities while also strengthening existing products within its analytic suite. It will also achieve a heightened advantage in the loyalty and personalization space, furthering its ability to help brands plan and measure the impact and success of personalized consumer offerings.

Pinterest Partners With SmartCommerce

Pinterest has partnered with SmartCommerce to enable its 320 million active monthly users to add products they discover on the platform to a shopping cart. Leveraging SmartCommerce Click2Cart technology, brands can create eCommerce experiences on digital touchpoints like websites, digital ads, social posts, and online videos. Pinterest’s research shows that 47 per cent of its users use the platform to ‘buy or shop for products’ versus 15 per cent who say the same for traditional social media. As well, more than 76 per cent of consumers are already buying at least some CPG (consumer packaged goods) products online, says data from SmartCommerce. “SmartCommerce Click2Cart functionality helps CPG brand partners make it simple to cart products straight from recipes, projects, regimen, and similar Pins, increasing the likelihood of inspiration-fueled purchase,” says Jennifer Silverberg, CEO of SmartCommerce. “In fact, our CPG clients have seen some of their highest rates of conversion to carts from Pinterest, so we are very excited about broadening this partnership.”

Revenue Down At Chase

Global specialty chemicals company Chase Corporation had revenue of $66.7 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, a decrease of eight per cent compared to revenue of $72.5 million in the first quarter of its 2019 year. Operating income decreased 13 per cent to $10.7 million from $12.3 million in the year-ago period. Net income for the quarter was $7.4 million, down 17 per cent from $8.8 million last year. EBITDA was $14.1 million, down 14 per cent compared to $16.4 million. Revenue for the adhesives, sealants, and additives segment was $25.8 million compared to $26.7 million in the year-ago period; revenue for the industrial tapes segment was $30.1 million compared to $33.5 million; and revenue for the corrosion protection and waterproofing segment was $10.9 million versus $12.3 million a year ago.

January 10, 2020

December Housing Starts Trend Lower

The trend in housing starts was 212,160 units in December, compared to 219,921 units in November, 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 197,329 units in December, a decrease of three per cent from 204,320 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by four per cent to 185,934 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by five per per cent to 138,049 units while single-detached urban starts increased by one per cent to 47,885 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11,395 units. “The declines are primarily led by lower-trending multi-family starts in Toronto (ON), Montreal (QC), and Ottawa (ON),” says Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC. “However, the stable starts at year-end in Vancouver (BC) and significant growth in Calgary (AB) helped to partially offset the declines in other major centres.”

November Building Permits Slide

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 2.4 per cent to $8.1 billion in November, says Statistics Canada. Declines were reported in six provinces, with the largest decrease in Ontario (-5.7 per cent). Quebec (+10.3 per cent) offset some of this decline. The total value of permits issued in Nunavut jumped from $500,000 in October to $16 million in November. The increase was largely due to a mixed-use residential and commercial project in Iqaluit. This was the largest increase in the value of residential permits in Nunavut since December 2018. National non-residential permits were largely unchanged in November (-0.1 per cent), however, there was notable movement within the components. The value of industrial permits rose 24.5 per cent and the value of institutional permits rose 14.5 per cent. Commercial permits declined by 13.5 per cent and offset the industrial and institutional gains.

Yale Home Introduces Smart Storage Products Line

Yale Home has launched a smart storage product line which will expand its smart home portfolio beyond smart locks for front and interior doors. The line will include a variety of products, including the Smart Delivery Box, Smart Cabinet Lock, and Smart Safe. They will all feature security solutions and convenient access capabilities. The products will be compatible with the Yale Access mobile app and the Yale Connect Wi-Fi Bridge. This will enable users to remotely access and manage their smart storage products – lock and unlock, share access, view 24/7 access history, receive notifications whenever the lock is opened, and check the lock’s battery life – directly from their phones. The product line can also be upgraded with a Yale Keypad, allowing users to control the lock with an entry code.

Hamel Named Business Development Manager

Richard Hamel is business development manager in the eastern Quebec and northern New Brunswick region for Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. He has extensive experience in the building supply industry.

WD-40 Has Slow Quarter

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $98.6 million for the first quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, a decrease of three per cent over net sales of $101.3 million in the first quarter of it’s 2019 year. Net income for the quarter was $12.2 million, a decrease of eight per cent compared to $13.3 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin percentage was 54.3 per cent compared to 55.1 per cent year-over-year. EBIT was $14.3 million compared to $16.1 million. The maintenance products segment net sales decreased by three per cent year-over-year and the homecare and cleaning products net sales increased one per cent.

January 9, 2020

December Dodge Momentum Index Rises

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 1.5 per cent in December to 156.2 from the revised November reading of 153.9. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, 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. Both components of the index rose over the month – the institutional component gained 2.3 per cent, while the commercial component rose 0.9 per cent. For the full year, the index averaged 141.9, a decline of 3.7 per cent from 2018’s average. In 2019, the commercial component was 2.3 per cent lower than the previous year, while the institutional component dropped 5.9 per cent. Last year’s slip in the dollar value of projects entering planning suggests that construction spending for non-residential buildings could see a setback in the year to come. However, the index did end the year on a high note indicating that a decline in 2020 construction is likely to be modest in nature.

Giant Tiger Will Open Two Ontario Locations

Discount retailer Giant Tiger will open two Ontario stores, one in North Bay and one in Sault Ste. Marie. The North Bay store is the second Giant Tiger in the community and offers 18,000 square feet of retail space. It officially opens on July 25. The Sault Ste. Marie location also offers 18,000 square feet of retail space and will open its doors on July 25. Giant Tiger carries home décor, family fashions, and groceries. Further details on the grand openings will be available on the retailer’s social media sites.

Orckestra Launches Digital Channel Solution

Orckestra Technologies Inc., an omnichannel commerce platform for retailers and subsidiary of Mediagrif Interactive Technologies Inc., has launched Orckestra Commerce Cloud 4. This update provides new features and enhancements, including Orckestra's new Unified Product Management solution. With this solution, retailers can be up and running faster with product management and merchandising that's built for digital commerce. The solution streamlines the process for capturing, enriching, and publishing product information and digital assets all in one place and simplifies the work of developers who are leveraging the platform to build unique commerce solutions.

Orgill Shakes Up EVP Team

Randy Williams is executive vice-president (EVP), distribution at Orgill. Previously, he was general manager and senior vice-president of distribution. John Sieggreen is EVP, retail and will also maintain his current role as president for Central Network Retail Group (CNRG). Greg Stine is EVP, marketing and communications. Most recently, he headed up the marketing team for Tyndale Advisors. Brett Hammers continues in his role as EVP, sales and purchasing. Eric Divelbiss will also continue in his current position as EVP and chief financial officer.

RPM Has Record Income

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.4 billion for the second quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 2.8 per cent over net sales of $1.36 billion in the second quarter of its 2019 year. Net income for the quarter was $77 million, up 56.5 per cent compared to net income of $49.2 million in the year-ago period. Income before income taxes (IBT) was $101.8 million, up 52.8 per cent compared to $66.6 million last year. EBIT was up 23.3 per cent to $119.3 million. Sales for the construction products group increased 6.9 per cent year-over-year; sales for the performance coatings group increased 0.3 per cent; sales for the consumer group increased six per cent; and sales for the special products group decreased from $178 million to $158.2 million. The strong bottom line growth for the quarter was primarily driven by the company’s ‘2020 MAP to Growth’ operating improvement plan, says Frank C. Sullivan, chief executive officer.

January 8, 2020

Spindle, Stairs & Railings Partners With Spindle Factory

Calgary, AB-based Spindle, Stairs & Railings has partnered with Edmonton, AB-based Spindle Factory to bring improved service and specialized product selections to new home builders and renovation contractors in Alberta and western Canada. Both companies produce curved and straight stair and interior railing components and offer full service supply and installation divisions as well as wholesale and contractor supply divisions. The Spindle Factory plant also has a custom iron shop that produces locally made iron products for interior and exterior railings and stairs.

FBM Closes Acquisition

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM), a specialty distributor of wallboard, suspended ceilings, metal framing, and complementary products in North America, has closed its acquisition of Associated Drywall Suppliers, Inc. Associated is an independent distributor of drywall, metal framing, and suspended ceiling systems based in Kentucky.

J.D. Irving Plans To Hire Over 9,500 People

Over the next three years, J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI), the parent company of Kent Building Supplies, is forecasting over 6,800 full time hires as well as 2700+ student hires across the company's diverse operations in Canada and the U.S. The company says 87 per cent of the jobs will be in Atlantic Canada. The three-year forecast is a result of anticipated retirements, business growth, and normal workforce turnover. Across the organization, the areas with the highest number of job opportunities include operations, shipping, supply and logistics, retail sales, and engineering.

PPG Appoints Leaders

Chancey Hagerty will be vice-president, global automotive refinish coatings, with PPG, effective March 1. Currently, he is vice-president, global industrial coatings. Kevin Braun will be vice-president, global industrial coatings. He is currently vice-president, industrial coatings, Americas. Andrew Carroll will be will be vice-president, industrial coatings, Americas. He is currently global technical director, industrial coatings. Gary Danowski, current vice-president, global automotive refinish, will retire March 1.

Slow Sales Mean Pier 1 Will Shutter 450 Locations

Pier 1 Imports, Inc. had net sales of $358.4 million in the third quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, a decrease of 13.3 per cent compared net sales of $413.2 million in the third quarter of its 2019 year. Comparable sales for the quarter decreased 11.4 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit for the quarter totalled $110.3 million, or 30.8 per cent of net sales, compared to $130.5 million, or 31.6 per cent of net sales. The company had a net loss of $59 million compared to a net loss of $32.6 million last year. The company says that in order to better align its business with the current operating environment, it will reduce its store footprint by up to 450 locations and close associated distribution centres to reduce its corporate expenses. It will also reduce its corporate headcount.

January 7, 2020

One in Six Canadians To Return Holiday Gifts

Canadian Gen Z's are taking things into their own hands this holiday season with 21 per cent admitting to typically returning some of their holiday gifts – nearly double the amount of Boomers who report returning gifts (11 per cent), says the ‘2019 FedEx Returns Economy Survey.’ Overall, one in six Canadians return holiday gifts in a typical year. Of those that return gifts, 36 per cent are most likely to return gifts from their mothers. That number is highest among men, with 46 per cent most likely to return gifts from their mothers (compared to 30 per cent of women). Canadians are also turning to regifting as a solution to getting rid of unwanted gifts with a quarter (24 per cent) of Canadian shoppers admitting to regifting holiday gifts in a typical year.

Business Can Take Steps For Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is an ever-growing concern for businesses. While the obvious worry is about sensitive data breaches and leaks, cyber weakness also hurts innovation, says NordVPN Teams, a cybersecurity solution for business. It says many businesses view cybersecurity as a daunting, complex, and expensive task, but there are steps they can take to help prevent them from potential risks. The first step is to educate and empower employees because they are the most vulnerable part of the whole cybersecurity infrastructure. Employees can be a human shield in the company’s firewall. Another step is to change passwords regularly and be creative when choosing one. It is not good enough to use ‘12345’ or recycle old passwords; NordVPN Teams suggests using a password manager. Businesses should also have an up-to-date inventory and account list which should be reviewed regularly. As well, they should have backups and make sure to test those backups frequently to make sure they work. Business should also use VPNs and encryption to secure transmittance of files both internally and externally.

Schneider Electric Launches Connected Home Suite

Schneider Electric has launched Square D Connected Home, which comprises devices and applications to help homeowners consolidate the connected home, appliances, and energy management into one intuitive digital experience. The products and services are designed as an open platform to enable interoperability between connected home devices. This allows consumers to live in comfortable, digitally connected homes with greater control over electricity use contributing to a more sustainable world. Consumers can use the Square D version of the Sense app or voice assistants to digitally track energy usage, receive updates, or get alerts if an appliance is malfunctioning or requires service. This information allows homeowners to reduce the risk of potential expensive energy bills, deliver protection and safety for their home, or, for those with alternate energy sources such as solar, control and manage how appliances leverage different energy sources.

Weiser Releases Improved Halo Smart Lock

The Weiser brand of Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. – Hardware & Home Improvement Division, has launched the Halo Touch Wi-Fi Smart Lock. This smart lock provides homeowners access to their home via fingerprint. It comes with the ability to program and store up to 100 fingerprints (50 users). In addition, through the Weiser app, homeowners can remotely monitor and control their locks from anywhere in the world while connected to the internet. Like its predecessor Halo, the brand's first foray into Wi-Fi enabled smart locks, Halo Touch will connect directly to homeowners' existing Wi-Fi network and smartphone without the need for a third-party hub, panel, or subscription service.

Structurlam Makes Changes

Paul Sehn is senior vice-president, sales and marketing, with Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation. He has more than 30 years of experience in the North American engineered wood products industry in both construction and industrial verticals. Michael Darby is chief financial officer. He has over 25 years of experience in senior financial management in Canada, the U.S., and internationally. Greg Johnston is senior vice-president, manufacturing and operations. He had experience in both lumber and OSB manufacturing in developing safety improvement plans and quality management systems.

January 6, 2020

eCommerce To ‘Explode’ In 2020

Total eCommerce revenue in 2020 will reach US$3.52 trillion, an explosion that will force retailers to find faster and more convenient modes to reach the final mile and yard, says global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research. In its whitepaper, ‘54 Technology Trends to Watch in 2020,’ ABI Research says eCommerce growth this year will reach nearly 19 per cent over 2019. Growth is due to increasing convergence of online and in-store businesses, with brick-and-mortar positioned as hubs closer to the customer, as well as eCommerce sites directing package delivery to retail outlets. Additive investment will grow in ‘buy online pay in store’ (BOPIS) options. ABI Research says retailers need to address their increasing costs and consumer expectations through new business models and optimized transportation and logistics methods. “Amazon felt the financial pressure in 2019, with North American margin compression, as it grew investments in its next-day Prime delivery,” says Susan Beardslee, freight transportation and logistics principal analyst. “Other retailers have been pushed into offering expanded shipping options and reverse logistics in order to compete.”

Online Return Process Key To Web Conversion

The online return process is key to customer experience, web conversion, and, ultimately, the bottom line, finds a survey by Splitit, an installment payment solution provider. As usual, online return rates are expected to dramatically increase post-holidays. The survey shows 60 per cent of consumers have returned an online purchase, with 38 per cent having returned up to 10 per cent of all online purchases they have made. Twelve per cent of consumers have returned a purchase within the past month, 11 per cent within the last six months, and 18 per cent within the last year. As well, 48 per cent of consumers say they have purchased multiple variations of an item with the intention of returning one or more items, a process known as ‘bracketing.’ More importantly for merchants, the survey demonstrates that a retailer's return policy weighs heavily on web conversion, with returns top of mind for consumers when deciding whether to make a purchase. A staggering 52 per cent of consumers have abandoned an online purchase out of fear of a difficult return process. This number increases to 67 per cent for Millennial respondents (ages 25-34). And, with 10 per cent of consumers dissatisfied in some way with their last return experience, the survey results serve as a warning to retailers that returns are high stakes – with customer experience and overall sales at risk.

NCR Acquires Zynstra

NCR Corporation has acquired UK-based Zynstra, a provider of edge virtualization technology. The two companies have worked together for several years, reflected in the launch of NCR Software Defined Store introduced in January 2019. Zynstra’s subscription-based virtualization solution is one of the critical pillars of NCR’s next-generation store architecture for the retail and hospitality industries. By virtualizing back and front office technology, businesses can reduce hardware and enterprise technology management costs. For example, with a simple swipe of the screen a device can change from a POS terminal to an inventory management console. The acquisition will allow NCR to enhance capabilities and extend its leadership in the vertical industries it serves.

LG To Launch Indoor Gardening Appliance

LG Electronics will launch an indoor gardening appliance, a built-in column-style indoor gardening unit that employs advanced light, temperature, and water control; all-in-one seed packages; and a growth-monitoring app to help users cultivate greens inside their own homes. Utilizing flexible modules, the appliance replicates optimal outdoor conditions by matching the temperature inside the insulated cabinet with the time of day. LED lights, forced air circulation, and wick-based water management allow seeds to grow. A key component of the unit is LG's non-circulating water supply technology, which evenly distributes the exact amount of water that the plant packages require. This technology prevents algae growth and unpleasant odours for a hygienic environment. A companion smartphone app helps users manage and monitor plants, offering guidance along the way.

Door Demand To Grow Through 2026

The global doors market size is estimated to surpass US$165 billion by 2026, says a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. Growing urbanization and populations will be accountable for the increase in non-residential and residential buildings and will hasten the growth of the doors industry in the coming years. As well, growing private, as well as government investments towards the new residential construction sector in North America will develop the industry. The report says changing consumer buying patterns for luxury products will enhance the product demand and ongoing trends for energy-efficient buildings will boost the industry in coming years. However, high prices of raw materials will be a potential restraint for doors manufacturers. Sliding doors will account for a market share of more than 25 per cent over the forecast period. These doors are equipped with soundproof and airtight insulation features depending upon the end-user requirement. These doors also provide attractive aesthetics to residential housing, which is likely to increase its usage in the new residential construction industry in the future.

January 3, 2020

U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Grew 3.4 Per Cent

U.S. holiday retail sales increased 3.4 per cent (excluding automobile categories) with online sales growing 18.8 per cent compared to 2018, says the ‘Mastercard SpendingPulse.’ “eCommerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online,” says Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard. “Due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices.” The report details holiday shopping from November 1 through December 24. Key findings indicate that this was a winning holiday season for retail, especially for eCommerce. Total retail sales in apparel had one per cent growth year-over-year. The category also experienced stronger than expected eCommerce growth, up 17 per cent compared to 2018. Department stores saw overall sales decline 1.8 per cent and online sales growth of 6.9 per cent, emphasizing the importance of omnichannel offerings. Electronics and appliances were up 4.6 per cent, while the home furniture and furnishings category grew 1.3 per cent.

AAMA, IGMA Merge

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) have combined into one organization with the new name, Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA). After a July vote by both bodies to unify, the two organizations have come together as of January 1. FGIA’s mission is to focus on improving home and building performance through better glass, window, door, and skylight technologies and standards. It strives to be a welcoming community, leading the glass, glazing, and fenestration industry through research, consensus-based standards, product certification, advocacy, education, and professional development. The logo and branding for the new organization will be revealed at the inaugural ‘FGIA Annual Conference,’ to be held February 10 to 13 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For more information visit FGIA

Universal Forest Products Now UFP Industries

Universal Forest Products, Inc. has completed the reorganization of its operations and is now operating as UFP Industries, a change announced in 2019. The company says the new name more accurately describes its operations today. “We are not just a forest products or wood company anymore,” says Matthew J. Missad, chief executive officer. “Over the years, we have evolved from a lumber wholesaler to a mixed materials manufacturer and solutions provider serving thousands of business customers. Our new segments – UFP Retail, UFP Construction, and UFP Industrial – will be much more focused on their individual markets and, with the leadership teams now in position, we expect more speed to market, better product and customer alignment, and more efficient capital utilization.” UFP Industries has approximately 170 locations and 14,000 employees around the world. Prior to the reorganization, UFP affiliates were organized by region; now they are organized by market.

Smart Home Companies Form Certification Standards Group

Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance have partnered to promote the formation of the Working Group, an initiative that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet. IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also on board to join the Working Group and contribute to the ‘Connected Home over IP’ project. The project’s mission is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. It is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.

Black To Head Payments Canada

Tracey Black will be president and CEO of Payments Canada, effective March 1. She joined the company in 2018 to lead the payments modernization program. Previously, she was president of GFH Group, Inc.

January 2, 2020

2019 Retail Sales May Hit 10-year Low

After 10 months of 2019, year-to-date Canadian retail sales were up only 1.5 per cent versus 2018 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. At this rate, 2019 will very likely clock in as a 10-year low for retail sales growth, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. One has to go back to 2009 and the Great Recession to find a lower number. To put this in perspective, Canada's annual population growth rate is currently about 1.4 per cent while inflation is around 2.1 per cent. This means retail sales should be going up by approximately 3.5 per cent just to keep pace. Actual retail sales growth, however, is significantly below this benchmark. It's also apparent that things are likely to get even worse before the year is done, he says. For the three months ending October 2019, year-over-year Canadian retail sales were up a scant 0.5 per cent, a six year low. Of the major retail sectors, automotive and related is in the worst shape and may even end the year with a loss. Food and drug has deteriorated significantly in the last few months. Store merchandise appears to be the best performer, but only because the other sectors are in such poor shape. eCommerce represented about 3.4 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending October. eCommerce sales were up 23.8 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending October.

November GTA New Home Market Busy

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market was busier than usual in November, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 4,720 new home sales in the GTA in November. This was up 53 per cent from November 2018 and 19 per cent above the 10-year average. Single-family home sales (detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses) were up 207 per cent year-over-year but four per cent below the 10-year average. Condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units sales were up 32 per cent and 29 per cent above the 10-year average. A number of new project openings in November ensured that, despite strong sales, remaining inventory decreased only slightly compared to the previous month. Remaining inventory includes units in pre-construction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.

Concrete Use For Hardscaping On The Rise

Sales of concrete used in hardscaping applications are forecast to grow 5.6 per cent per year through 2023 to $2 billion, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Gains will be driven by consumers’ growing incorporation of outdoor living trends in landscaping, which feature spaces that are frequently constructed with concrete products. Increasing interest in more durable and stylish hardscaping will drive growth of natural materials and porcelain pavers and products that mimic these materials, such as plank pavers. As well, water management concerns are increasing the adoption of environmentally-friendly landscaping products such as permeable pavers. The top hardscape product categories in 2018 were concrete (53 per cent); stone pavers, tiles, and boulders (16 per cent); and wood (15 per cent).

Reduced EI Premium In Effect

Effective January 1, 2020, the employment insurance (EI) premium rate for employees was reduced to $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings – a decrease of four cents compared to the 2019 rate of $1.62 per $100 of insurable earnings. For employers who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, the 2020 rate has decreased by six cents to $2.21. In addition, the maximum insurable earnings (MIE) for 2020 has increased to $54,200 from $53,100 in 2019. The maximum annual EI contribution for a worker will decrease by $3.86 to $856.36 (down $5.41 for employers to $1,198.90 per employee). For self-employed Canadians who have opted in to the EI program, the annual earnings required in 2019 will increase to $7,279 for claims filed in 2020. The level of earnings required by self-employed Canadians to be eligible for EI special benefits is indexed annually to growth in the MIE. The premium rate for residents of Quebec covered under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) will be $1.20 per $100 of insurable earnings, while their employers will pay $1.68 per $100 of insurable earnings. The maximum annual contribution for a worker in Quebec will decrease by $13.35 to $650.40 (down $18.69 for employers to $910.56 per employee).

Resolute To Acquire Three Conifex Sawmills

Resolute Forest Products Inc. plans to acquire Conifex Timber Inc.'s three sawmills in the U.S. south. The three sawmills, with combined production capacity of 550 million board feet, are located in Cross City, FL, and Glenwood and El Dorado AR. The sawmills produce construction-grade dimensional lumber and decking products from locally-sourced southern yellow pine. The acquisition will diversify Resolute’s lumber production; when operating to capacity, almost 25 per cent of production will be in the U.S. south. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

3P Sellers Drive Amazon Sales

Amazon had record-breaking sales throughout the holiday season with the help of third-party sellers – mostly small- and medium-sized business. They had double-digit growth in worldwide unit sales, surpassing one billion items sold in Amazon’s stores. Home was one of the top categories for the season. Top selling products in the home category included the Instant Pot Duo 80 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, the iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum, the Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, the Lodge Silicone Hot Handle Holder, the COSORI Air Fryer, the Brita Ultra Max Filtering Dispenser, and Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer. This year, 60 per cent more customers shipped their holiday orders to an Amazon pickup point compared to the same period last year.

December 23, 2019

Well Made Here To Launch Specialized Dealers Pilot

Well Made Here/Bien Fait Ici is launching a pilot where five participants will act as specialty ‘model dealers’ for quality products manufactured in Canada. Patrick Morin in Laval, QC; RONA Forget in Mont-Tremblant, QC; Home Hardware – Hawkesbury Lumber Supply in Hawkesbury, ON; Home Hardware – Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac Renovation Centre in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, QC; and RONA – Ironwork Houle – Iberville in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC, are the five dealers that will help determine if specialization will benefit the store, its banner, and its suppliers. Well Made Here also wants to determine how this specialization will be perceived by retail and professional customers. The program plans to develop a marketing strategy to complement this specialization of dealers. Partner stores will gather information on which Quebec and Canadian products are used by customers to help enrich their product offering with more ‘Well Made Here’ accredited products. Results from the pilot will be shared in the spring.

Winning Retailers Will Capitalize On Changing Behaviours

The winning retailers this holiday season will be those that have the capabilities to capitalize on consumers’ changing behaviours, says McKinsey & Company in its annual survey of the holiday season. The first trend is personalization. As shopping behaviours become ever more granular and unique, the ability to target relevant offers is increasingly becoming the deciding factor in a retailer’s success. Personalization can boost total sales by 15 to 20 per cent, and digital sales even more, while significantly improving the return on investment on marketing spend across marketing channels. Omnichannel shopping is the second trend. While distinct channels have important roles, shoppers are increasingly expecting and actively engaging in omnichannel experiences. Retailers have long recognized the reality that their customers shop in omnichannel ways but need to pick up the pace to implement truly omnichannel programs that can follow the consumer across the entire consumer decision journey. Consideration is the third trend. The increasing importance of winning the consideration battle has significant implications for how retailers plan their marketing programs. Retailers are launching promotional campaigns earlier than before. Providing options early in a shopper’s planning cycle and/or providing curated and easy-to-navigate options for gifting when browsing instore or online is a win.

Structurlam To Open Arkansas Facility

Canadian-based Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation will expand its operations into the U.S. with a plant in Conway, AR, set to open in mid-2021. The company will spend $90 million to purchase, retrofit, and equip a former steel plant and will source softwood lumber from Arkansas-grown southern pine trees. Structurlam selected Conway for its proximity to 19 million acres of sustainable forestland that covers more than half of the state’s total land area. Mass timber is a category of building construction featuring structural laminated wood components for walls, roofs, floors, beams, and columns. A key economic benefit of mass timber is the ability to design, model, and prefabricate the structural elements of a project offsite, accelerating on-site production schedules by up to 25 per cent compared to traditional onsite building with steel and concrete. Walmart Inc. will be the first customer of the company’s Arkansas facility. Walmart plans to use more than 1.1 million cubic feet of Arkansas-grown and -produced mass timber for its new home office campus to be built in Bentonville, AR.

Castle Presents Cheque To SickKids Foundation

The executive team at Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. presented a cheque in the amount of $35,000 to the SickKids Foundation. The charitable donation was made possible through the generosity of the Castle Vendor Partners that attended the group’s annual golf tournament in August. Castle says it is proud to be recognized on the ‘SickKids Hospital Wall of Donors.’ This is the 11th year Castle has donated to the cause. The SickKids Foundation raises funds on behalf of the Hospital for Sick Children to improve the health and well-being of children and their families in Canada and around the world.

Kasson Appointed CIO, AZEK

Michelle Kasson is chief information officer at AZEK Building Products, Versatex, Scranton Products, and Vycom. She has more than 25 years of corporate IT experience spanning the CPG, food, and pharmaceutical industries. Most recently, she was IT director at The J. M. Smucker Company.

Home Goods Lead Overstock Sales

On trend with previous years, home goods, furniture, and décor led Overstock’s holiday sales, specifically, area rugs, patio furniture, and living room furniture and décor. The company says online shoppers are not only showing increased confidence in retailers, they are also asking more from retailers and their products. Customers have an increased inclination towards cross-functional furniture that offers both style and utility like murphy beds, bookcase headboards, storage ottomans, and patio furniture that also provides storage. More customers also shopped in the mattress and appliance categories. As well, Overstock’s private label brands had the biggest year ever.

December 20, 2019

Wholesale Sales Slide

Wholesale sales declined 1.1 per cent to $64.2 billion in October, the second decrease in five months, says Statistics Canada. Four of the seven subsectors reported lower sales, accounting for 66 per cent of total wholesale sales. Following a 4.5 per cent increase in September, the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector led the decline in October as sales dropped three per cent to $13.4 billion. On a year-to-date basis, sales in this subsector were 4.7 per cent higher in the first 10 months compared with the same period in 2018. While all four industries within this subsector recorded lower sales in October, the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry and the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment, and supplies industry contributed the most to the decrease. Lower sales were also observed in the building material and supplies subsector. Sales declined in eight provinces, accounting for 45 per cent of total wholesale sales. Inventories were down in four of seven subsectors, representing 76 per cent of total wholesale inventories.

Quebec Dealer Joins Castle

Quincaillerie Tremblay Laroche has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Located in Lac-St. Jean, QC, the retailer will open its doors as Castle Centre du Renovation. Partners Marc Tremblay and Dominique Laroche have served the Lac-St. Jean community for over 30 years. They purchased the small LBM business back in the late 1980s and have grown the business into a thriving full-service home improvement store. It serves local contractors and also specializes in décor and design, with two full-time decorators on staff. The motivation to break-free of their current buying group was largely driven by the desire to find a place where they would find transparency and could see their future growth and profitability. They were also concerned about maintaining their independence without compromising the unique brand they had built in their community. The store will undergo a full exterior renovation with plans for a grand opening celebration in the spring.

Price Main Factor In Holiday Shopping

Price is the main deciding factor when purchasing products for the holidays, says a survey from RetailMeNot. The survey says 75 per cent of shoppers look at price when deciding what to buy. Gift cards are the most popular gift this year, with 53 per cent of holiday shoppers choosing this option. Thirty-eight per cent plan to spend on toys, 37 per cent on electronics, 21 per cent on decorations, 19 per cent on home improvement and décor, and 14 per cent on appliances. A quarter of shoppers plan to spend under $500 on holiday shopping and 48 per cent say they stayed on budget.

DAP Enhances Heavy Duty Adhesive

DAP now offers a reformulated DynaGrip Heavy Duty adhesive, which offers 50 per cent more instant grab than the previous DynaGrip Heavy Duty formulation. This product is designed for common building materials in both interior and exterior construction and remodeling projects. DynaGrip Heavy Duty is easier to gun for greater efficiency and consists of a low odour formula that is compliant with stringent VOC regulations. This product is ideal for general contractors, remodelers, framers, drywallers, and finish carpenters. The adhesive is offered in five-, nine-, and 28-ounce sizes and will be available in January.

December 19, 2019

CREA Forecasts 2020 Housing Market Will Improve

Evidence suggests housing activity will continue to improve into 2020, with prices either continuing to rise or accelerating in many parts of Canada. Indeed, many housing market indicators continue to support this outlook, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Economic fundamentals underpinning housing activity remain strong outside of the Prairies together with Newfoundland and Labrador. The national resale housing market outlook continues to be supported by population and employment growth while consumer confidence is benefiting from low unemployment rates outside oil-producing provinces. Additionally, the Bank of Canada is widely expected to not raise interest rates in 2020. Mortgage interest rates have declined, including the Bank of Canada's benchmark five-year rate used by Canada's largest banks to qualify applicants under the B-20 mortgage stress-test. Though the decline in the benchmark rate has been modest, it is helping to improve homebuyer access to home purchase financing. In addition, the federal government launched its ‘First-Time Home Buyer Incentive’ earlier this year. Under the $1.25 billion shared equity program, the federal government contributes a portion of the home purchase price in exchange for an equity share of the home's value.

Annual Wholesale Trade Up Nine Per Cent

The operating revenue of Canadian wholesalers increased nine per cent in 2018 over 2017, reaching an all-time high of $1.1 trillion. The increase was led by the petroleum products subsector, but seven of the eight other subsectors also saw increases in revenues, says Statistics Canada. Excluding petroleum products, operating revenues increased 5.3 per cent compared with 2017. Overall, the operating profits of wholesalers as a percentage of total operating revenue increased from 4.9 per cent in 2017 to 5.2 per cent in 2018, as revenue growth exceeded growth in total operating expenses. The cost of goods sold increased 9.2 per cent to $932.8 billion. In dollar terms, the largest increase in revenue was in the petroleum products subsector and the second largest increase was in the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector, up 8.4 per cent to $161.7 billion. All four industries in this subsector recorded increases in operating revenue, led by the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment, and supplies industry, which saw its revenues increase 13.7 per cent to $53.0 billion. The other machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers industry also contributed significantly, with revenues increasing 13.5 per cent to $39.7 billion.

CanFor Terminates Great Pacific Agreement

British Columbia forest products company Canfor Corporation has agreed with Great Pacific Capital Corp. and 1227738 B.C. Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Great Pacific, to terminate the previously announced agreement to make Canfor a private company. Canfor did not have enough votes required from minority shareholders, so the transaction where Great Pacific would acquire Canfor will not be achieved. Canfor says it plans to continue to diversify its business and pursue growth strategies in positioning itself for long-term success and sustainability.

Lowe’s Canada Network Toy Drive Successful

More than 100 stores from the Lowe’s Canada network of stores collected a record number of new, unopened toys during the retailer’s annual ‘Toy Drive’ from November 18 to December 15. For the first time since the campaign was launched in 2010, 35 RONA stores joined forces with Lowe’s stores in Canada to collect toys for underprivileged children of all ages in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Thanks to the generosity of Lowe’s and RONA customers, Lowe’s Canada was able to present the Salvation Army with 8,680 toys that will be distributed to families in need. In addition to hosting a month-long toy drive in participating stores, Lowe’s Canada teamed up with CTV for its ‘Toy Mountain’ event in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area. Employees from participating Lowe’s and RONA stores in the GTA were at CTV’s December 17 live show in Markham, ON, to reveal a donation in the amount of $10,000 that will go towards purchasing more gifts for children in need.

Fuel Container Has Wheels

Scepter’s Duramax is a rolling fuel container that holds 14 gallons. It is idea for fueling up gas-powered tools, boats, generators, snowmobiles, tractors, jet skis, and ATVs. The patented pump handle on the Duramax includes a spill-proof shut-off. The unit has a flow rate of two gallons of fuel per minute when in the siphon mode. Six-inch wheels help transport the container to marine dock areas, farms, and work locations. The unit also includes a bolt-on hanger for hose storage and deep handholds for transport. It is made of high-density polyethylene and has moulded feet that keep the container off the floor for increased ventilation and stability.

December 18, 2019

October Manufacturing Sales Slide

Manufacturing sales declined 0.7 per cent to $57.1 billion in October, the second consecutive monthly decrease, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 11 of 21 industries, representing 48.8 per cent of total manufacturing sales. Sales of durable goods fell 2.4 per cent to $29.9 billion, while sales of non-durable goods rose 1.3 per cent to $27.2 billion. In volume terms, manufacturing sales decreased 0.4 per cent. Sales in the wood product industry declined 3.3 per cent, reflecting lower volumes. Sales were down in three provinces in October, led by Ontario and British Columbia. New Brunswick reported the largest monthly increase. Inventory levels declined 0.4 per cent to $87.6 billion in October, the second consecutive monthly decrease. Inventories were down in 10 of 21 industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.53 in September to 1.54 in October, due to a larger decline in manufacturing sales than in total inventories. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

November U.S. Construction Starts Surge

U.S. construction starts moved 37 per cent higher from October to November, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $988.9 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The large percentage gain was not only a response to a particularly weak October, but also numerous massive projects that broke ground during the month. By major sector, non-residential building starts gained 61 per cent over the month, while non-building starts moved 82 per cent higher. Residential building starts were flat from October to November. Single family starts dropped eight per cent, offsetting a 20 per cent gain in multifamily starts. November’s gain pushed the Dodge Index to 209 compared to the 153 posted in October. The dichotomy between the weakness in October and strength in November is startling. However, the average of the two months is 181 – not much higher than the 11-month average of 173. On a year-to-date basis through eleven months, total residential buildings starts were down four per cent. Single family starts were two per cent lower, while multifamily starts declined 10 per cent.

BMF Acquires Solutions Training

Burlington Merchandising & Fixtures (BMF) has purchased the assets of Solutions Training from Bob Sutherland, who is retiring. Solutions Training manufactures plumbing and electrical display ends. Sutherland spent many years travelling across the country training core staff on the fundamentals of electrical and plumbing. Finding a need for display ends that would be more informative for the customer, he started building them in 2012. BMF provided the backer boards and casing so they could be attractively mounted in-store. BMF will now build the display ends in its Burlington, ON, facility.

U.S. Builder Confidence Ends Year Strong

U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased five points to 76 in December off an upwardly revised November reading, says the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since June of 1999. Builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the next six months, and traffic of prospective buyers all registered gains in December. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions rose seven points to 84, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months edged up one point to 79, and the measure charting traffic of prospective buyers increased four points to 58. NAHB says while there are near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, U.S. builders are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labour and land availability. As well, higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.

Orgill Makes Changes

Boyden Moore will be president and CEO of Orgill, Inc., effective January 1. He is currently president. He assumed his role as president last year after serving as Orgill’s general manager of retail and president of the company’s subsidiary Tyndale Advisors. Ron Beal will continue to be chairman of the board, but will step down from his current role as CEO. Long-term Orgill senior executive Byrne Whitehead will continue in his role as the board’s vice-chairman. Grady Gennings, vice-president, corporate accounts, and Mike Ferrell, vice-president, LBM sales and building products, will retire at the end of the year.

December 17, 2019

November Home Sales Edge Higher

Home sales inched up by 0.6 per cent November, says Statistics Canada. Notching its ninth straight monthly gain, activity stands 20 per cent above the six-year low reached in February, but six per cent to seven per cent below heights recorded in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined. Higher sales across much of British Columbia and in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) offset a decline in activity in Calgary, AB. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels in almost all of Canada's largest urban markets. The number of newly listed homes slid a further 2.7 per cent, however, putting them among the lowest levels posted in the past decade. November's decline was driven primarily by fewer new listings in the GTA. Slightly higher sales and a drop in new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 66.3 per cent, which is well above the long-term average of 53.7 per cent. If current trends continue, the balance between supply and demand makes further home price gains likely. Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.

Home Depot Invests In ‘One Home Depot’ Initiative

The Home Depot is investing roughly $11 billion from 2018 to 2020 to continue to build on its ‘One Home Depot’ initiative. The concept is to “extend its advantage” by driving sales productivity and deliver what customers expect. The money will be used in areas that the retailer considers its strengths – associates, stores, product and innovation, interconnected and digital experience, pro and services, and supply chain and delivery. Employees will benefit from resources such as enhanced paid parental leave and more training and development. Investment in stores will focus on improving the customer experience and driving productivity. Product and innovation investment will be geared towards improving visual merchandising and refining product assortments. For interconnected and digital experience, the investment will work on seamlessly blending channels of engagement. For the pro customers, Home Depot will invest in a portfolio of tools and services to drive engagement. In supply chain and delivery, the focus will be on leveraging the upstream competitive advantage to drive greater efficiencies. The retailer started the initiative two years ago and expects to see a 45 per cent return on invested capital (ROIC) by 2020.

Economists Expect Continued U.S. Economic Growth

Economists expect the U.S. economy to continue expanding next year while projecting real estate prices will rise and reiterating that a recession remains unlikely, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR) at its first ever ‘Real Estate Forecast Summit.’ These economists predict a 29 per cent probability of a recession in 2020 with forecasted gross domestic product (GDP) growth of two per cent in 2020 and 1.9 per cent in 2021. They also expect an annual unemployment rate of 3.7 per cent next year with a small rise to 3.9 per cent in 2021. The average annual 30-year fixed mortgage rates of 3.8 per cent and four per cent are expected for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Annual median home prices are forecast to increase by 3.6 per cent in 2020 and by 3.5 per cent in 2021. Annual commercial real estate prices will climb 3.6 per cent in 2020 and 3.4 per cent in 2021.

DEWALT Employees ‘Pay It Forward’

To share the giving spirit of the holidays, DEWALT Canada employees visited David’s No Frills in Mississauga, ON, on December 12 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. This was DEWALT’s third annual ‘Pay-It-Forward Day.’

Real View Launches 3D Design Software

Kitchen and bath design software creator Real View Inc. has launched 3D-Edge, a 3D technology providing HD quality in a fully interactive mode. ProKitchen 3D-Edge helps designers create detailed HD quality renderings in an interactive 3D viewer. Key features include real-time soft shadows and reflections, hundreds of light fixtures with illumination through semi-transparent glass, dynamic reflection in metallic surfaces, and sketch style renderings with contrasting depth. Users can also adjust the brightness level of all light sources in the whole room at once and toggle between colour and isometric rendering in the same view. It is available for Windows and Mac platforms.

Two Promoted At Emerson

Justin King has been promoted to vice-president of engineering with Emerson. He will lead the development and evolution of the entire professional tools line of pipe and electrical products, including RIDGID and Greenlee. He has been with the company since 2007. Rob Trefz has been promoted to vice-president of marketing. He will oversee all product management, product marketing, and marketing strategy. He has been with the company since 2004.

December 16, 2019

Solid Consumer Spending Drives U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales in November increased 0.1 per cent seasonally adjusted over October and were up 2.1 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, marking the first half of the holiday season with billions of dollars in shopping left to be done, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. “These numbers are more about the calendar than consumer confidence,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist. “Consumer spending has been solid and there’s still a lot of spending to be done. With strong employment and higher wages, we’re on track for a strong holiday season.” Online and other non-store sales were up 0.8 per cent month-over-month and 7.2 per cent year-over-year seasonally adjusted, while building materials and garden supply store sales were unchanged month-over-month and down 1.2 per cent year-over-year seasonally adjusted. NRF predicts that U.S. holiday retail sales during November and December will increase between 3.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent for a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

Lowe’s Canada Employees Play Santa

The mood was festive on December 13 at the Lowe’s Canada head office in Boucherville, QC, as ‘Opération Père Noël’ elves came to meet the company’s employees and pick up the mountain of presents destined for 596 underprivileged children, most of them living on Montreal’s South Shore. The annual campaign gives participants the chance to become Santa and brighten the holiday season of thousands of children across Quebec who would otherwise have no present to unwrap on the morning of December 25. This year, 382 employees at the Lowe’s Canada Boucherville and Longueuil, QC, offices chose to become the own personal Santa of one or more children. “People who choose to be a child’s Santa are giving far more than just presents. They also share some Christmas magic with a family,” says Normand Brault, co-founder of Opération Père Noël, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. “Every year, we push our limits to reach as many children as possible, and we couldn’t succeed without help from our valued partners. We are grateful to be able to count on the invaluable support and generosity of Lowe’s Canada and its team year after year.”

Consumers Increasing Decorative Concrete Use

The decorative concrete market size will surpass US$23.8 billion by 2026, says a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. The market will be driven by growing house remodeling and renovations expenditure due to an increasing average house age in developed nations. Homeowners will implement substantial upgrades to improve aesthetics of their homes while economic conditions improve, thereby driving the decorative concrete market growth. As well, homeowners are increasingly investing in new and durable materials to increase the durability and maximize the replacement time. Increasing emphasis on energy efficiency promotes decorative concrete adoption owing to high structural strength and efficient heat and cool transferring characteristics. The continuous consumer transition towards DIFM (do-it-for-me) for building structures and finishing is also positively influencing the industry size. The patios segment will register highest gains of seven per cent compound annual growth rate because of high usage of stamped concrete in outdoor spaces. Stamped concrete is available in multiple design patters and customizable options and preferred to enhance the visual appeal through personalized and conventional design patterns. Superior durability and weather resistance provided by epoxy patio coatings will further expand the product volume share.

Wybrow Named Ontario Sales Manager

Paul Wybrow is Ontario sales manager at Liteline Corporation. He joins the company with over 30 years of experience in the lighting industry.

December 13, 2019

Walmart Canada Developing Apps For Associates

Walmart Canada has a team of developers that work alongside store associates to develop apps to modernize how the associates work and solve business problems. This year alone the team launched more than 15 apps and features for associates. Associates' app usage is up over 75 per cent and the estimated 4.5 million app uses has driven efficiencies and gives associates more time to serve customers. Now, from the palm of their hands, associates can better manage their business, review important data, and receive or distribute communications. One such app is called PlanIT, where associates can see their store performance in sales, markdowns, inventory, and customer experience scores all in one location. Another, called Availability App, allows associates to review out of stock items and improve product availability while on the sales floor versus printing reports in the back office. Huddle Notes is a tool to gather all information to better communicate with store associates at all levels across all shifts. Associates are encouraged to provide reviews, make suggestions, and rate each app. This holiday season, Walmart is also offering Check Out With Me to provide a faster checkout experience for smaller purchases. An associate uses this app to scan merchandise and provide a mobile payment device.

U.S. Retailers See Increase In Organized Thefts

Organized retail crime affects almost all merchants and more than two-thirds of U.S. retailers surveyed have seen an increase in the past year, says the 15th annual organized retail crime (ORC) study by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The report says that 97 per cent of retailers have been victimized by ORC in the past year and that 68 per cent have seen an increase in ORC activity. Losses averaged $703,320 per $1 billion in sales, marking the fourth year in a row that the figure topped the $700,000 mark. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of retailers say ORC is a higher priority for their companies than five years ago, while 56 per cent are allocating additional technology resources to the issue and 44 per cent are increasing their loss prevention budgets. ORC can involve theft from stores, cargo, distribution centres, and in the form of stolen merchandise being returned for credit.

RBC Most Used Bank By SMBs

With a market share of 20 per cent, Royal Bank of Canada continues to be the most used bank by small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) while the smallest businesses, those with fewer than five employees, primarily bank with Scotiabank, says a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Since the last banking survey in 2015, RBC is the only ‘big five’ bank that gained ground. Scotiabank has maintained its status as the second most frequently used bank among small businesses in 2019 with 17 per cent market share. This is up by over 50 per cent since the year 2000. Credit unions more than tripled their market share since 1982 and have a market share of 12 per cent. Conversely, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) continues its decline, going from more than 20 per cent market share in 1982 to less than nine per cent in 2019. Bank of Montreal (BMO) has also been on the decline since 1997 and currently holds just over nine per cent market share. Institutions like Desjardins in Quebec and ATB Financial in Alberta beat out national competitors for the biggest market share in those markets.

ROCKWOOL Extends Agreement With AFA

Stone wool insulation manufacturer ROCKWOOL Group has extended its distribution agreement with AFA Forest Products (AFA). The original agreement included western Canada, the territories, and Ontario and the new agreement, which becomes effective March 1, also includes Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Goodfellow will remain the distributor of ROCKWOOL product in Quebec and Atlantic Canada until the agreement takes effect.

Washers Combat Odours

GE Appliances, a Haier company, has introduced the UltraFresh Front Load Washer, engineered to stay fresh and clean and prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria without the need to leave the door open after each load. The washer reduces bacteria by draining the residual water. It has a wider gasket that is angled to allow water to fully drain after the wash cycle. As well, the vent system with OdorBlock creates an airflow at the touch of a button. After the wash cycle, the unit pulls in and circulates fresh air, removing moisture from the door, gasket, and basket. The washer also utilizes Microban technology, an antimicrobial additive that helps prevent odours caused by microbes. The units also come in two new matte finishes – satin nickel and sapphire blue.

Sales Down For HBC

HBC had retail sales of $1.82 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over retail sales of $1.86 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Digital sales were up 15 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. Revenue was $1.84 billion compared to $1.89 billion in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $706 million compared to $744 million and gross profit margin was down 120 basis points to 38.3 per cent. The company had a net loss for continuing operations of $175 million compared to a net loss of $79 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was down 32 per cent to $84 million.

December 12, 2019

Technology To Transition Construction Industry

The construction industry is in the middle of a transition toward new business models that are technology- and data-driven with better collaboration between stakeholders and higher productivity, says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The increasingly aging workforce and digitization are prompting greater investments in workforce management and digital solutions. By 2030, global spending in construction is expected to touch $17.5 trillion, with China, the U.S., and India leading the way and accounting for 57 per cent of all global growth. Technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud software, drones, and pre-fab construction will be leveraged to reduce cost and improve quality and speed of construction. As well, smart infrastructure technologies embedded with telematics, will influence the future of the industry by creating an intelligent and on-demand system that reduces operational costs and augments productivity. With greater adoption of technologies, industry participants can expect to find growth opportunities in developing building information modeling (BIM) systems; employing low-cost, sustainable building materials and autonomous construction equipment; using drones and wearables at construction sites; applying augmented/virtual/mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) in design and development; and productizing blockchain. Safety, a major concern in the industry, will also push the use case for automation in the industry. Autonomous machines, VR assistance, and wearable safety are key technologies that are expected to see increasing adoption in the industry.

Advent Calendar Offers Smart Home Prizes

Smart home device manufacturer Sinopé Technologies is holding a contest to win smart home devices. Until December 24, Sinopé’s Advent Calendar is filled with flash promos which provide a chance to win a grand prize up to a value of $1,130. Each door of the calendar contains a surprise and gives a chance to win the big contest. The grand prize, which will be drawn on January 6, includes one Gateway, four smart thermostats for electric heating, two smart dimmers, two smart switches, one water damage protection kit, two smart plugs, and two smart in-wall outlets. All products are compatible with Google Home, Alexa, and SmartThings.

Rev-A-Shelf Launches Website

Rev-A-Shelf has launched its upgraded website. The company says the site is the customer’s destination for everything about cabinet organization. It is designed to simplify the search for organization products for the kitchen, bathroom, or closet. Consumers have a variety of search options, such as cabinet openings, size, colour, material, and product type.

Pinterest Releases Home Trends For 2020

The home has become the hub of life, says Pinterest in its 100 trends for 2020. But homes are more than just a place for family now, with people implementing offices and gyms and even waterfalls. Trends, based on users’ posts, include garden rooms and indoor herb gardens, granny pods, audio rooms, and home brewing areas. Images of indoor water fountains have increased by 917 per cent over last year while home theatre images are up 368 per cent. People are also still hot on coffee stations, with images up 751 per cent over last year. Conscious consumption is also on people’s minds, with low-waste living and thrifted home décor trending on the site. As well, consumers are turning to international trends for decorating with Spanish bathrooms, Indian living rooms, French antiques, Japanese tubs, and Australian landscaping images on the rise on Pinterest.

Collapsible Yard Cart Reduces Heavy Lifting

Allsop Home and Garden’s WheelEasy is a collapsible yard cart. Available in original and lightweight (LE) versions, this product is ideal for yard work ranging from collecting weeds to spreading bark to moving boulders. The handles can be dropped to the ground to get ground-level loading, so heavy lifting is not necessary. Users can rake, shovel, slide, roll, or drag items into the canvas barrel. The only lifting is lifting the handles from the ground. The cart, however, has a low centre of gravity design so it carries most of the load. It has a capacity of 350 pounds and is made from a powder-coated steel frame with heavy duty vinyl-coated denier nylon.

December 11, 2019

Housing Starts Trend Essentially Unchanged

The trend in housing starts was 219,047 units in November, compared to 218,253 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. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 201,318 units, a slight increase of 0.3 per cent from 200,674 units in October. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 0.4 per cent while multiple urban starts increased by 2.3 per cent. Single-detached urban starts decreased by 5.1 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,759 units. New Brunswick had the highest increase in housing starts at 61 per cent compared to November 2018. Prince Edward Island was the lowest with a decrease of 54 per cent year-over-year.

Women Entrepreneurs More Likely To Get Loans

Women entrepreneurs who apply for business loans may fare better than they expect, says a survey by Scotiabank. The survey says that women entrepreneurs lag men entrepreneurs in applying for business loans, but are more likely to have the loan application approved. Women entrepreneurs are more likely to employ capital from personal savings, personal lines of credit, and family and friends, rather than business sources. In contrast, they are less likely to reinvest cash flow and to apply for a business line of credit or term loan compared to men entrepreneurs. They also rate their overall level of financial knowledge lower than men entrepreneurs – only 45 per cent of women participants perceived themselves to be 'knowledgeable' or 'very knowledgeable' compared to 58 per cent of men. In response, Scotiabank will expand its ‘Scotiabank Women Initiative’ for its capital markets clients. The Scotiabank Women Initiative for Global Banking and Markets is a tailored, comprehensive program in support of women clients and those who stand behind an inclusion agenda.

Gift Cards The New 'It' Gift

Canadians are happy to receive gift cards as a holiday gift (84 per cent) and most (70 per cent) consider them a thoughtful gift, says Rakuten.ca in its annual holiday survey. This makes it a win-win for gift-givers, the majority of whom (83 per cent) say that gift cards greatly simplify their holiday gift shopping. The survey says Canadians are strategic when it comes to using their gift cards. Almost half plan to save their gift cards for the new year as a post-holiday pick-me-up. Another 45 per cent will likely use it to purchase a gift for someone else. This ‘re-gifting’ is most prevalent among younger shoppers, with 55 per cent of those under 35 stating they've used their gift cards to purchase gifts, as opposed to only a third for those 45 or older. With the holidays closing in, many Canadian shoppers are not done checking everything off their list just yet. While nearly two-thirds of Canadians have already begun their holiday shopping this year, 33 per cent say they'll likely wrap up their shopping "in the nick of time before the holidays hit." And, another 30 per cent say the majority of their holiday shopping happens last minute.

Falcon Equipment Partners With Palfinger

Falcon Equipment Ltd. has partnered with Palfinger AG to provide sales, rentals, service, and parts support for all Palfinger products throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Falcon is no longer the official distributor for Hiab. However, it will continue to work with the marketplace insuring support for all makes and models of cranes and truck equipment. As of December 11, Falcon will be selling and supporting the Palfinger product line which includes knuckleboom cranes, material handling cranes, aerial lift trucks, hooklifts, and truck-mounted forklifts.

Arrow Fastener Tools Featured On Competition Series

Arrow Fastener Company’s glue guns, nailers, and staple guns were used in season two of the NBC crafting competition series ‘Making It.’ Hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, the second season aired on NBC during December, with the two-hour finale scheduled for December 11. Among the tools used on the show are the GT300 PRO high temperature glue gun and the 5700 PowerShot Forward Action Staple Gun and Nailer.

December 10, 2019

Quebec Offsets Declines In Building Permits

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 1.5 per cent to $8.3 billion in October, says Statistics Canada. Declines were reported in five provinces, with the largest decrease in British Columbia (21.2 per cent to $1.3 billion). Quebec offset some of this decline, with the value of building permits in that province rising 12.3 per cent to $1.7 billion. The total value of residential permits fell below $5 billion in October for the first time since March 2019. The value of permits declined for both single (2.9 per cent) and multi-family (3.4 per cent) dwellings. The value of institutional permits rose 24.9 per cent to $765 million, largely due to gains in Manitoba ($79 million) and Ontario ($72 million). The value of commercial permits decreased 5.3 per cent to $2 billion. Gains were reported in eight provinces, led by Quebec ($161 million), but this was not enough to offset a sizeable decline in British Columbia ($317 million). Industrial permits decreased 1.1 per cent to $604 million. Of note, Manitoba had gains in all categories of permits in October, with the total value increasing 74.3 per cent to a record high of $438 million. This increase was largely attributable to high value permits issued in Winnipeg.

Home Depot Launches Tagline

The Home Depot has introduced a new slogan - ‘How doers get more done.’ The tagline reflects that the retailer’s customers are doers, says the company. “They like to get their hands dirty, test new skills, and build stuff. And for the last 40 years, the Home Depot has been building capabilities to help them get more done, as their needs have evolved.” In 2017, the company introduced its ‘One Home Depot’ strategic plans to create a seamless, convenient shopping experience across its stores and online. “We’ve made tremendous progress and we believe the time is right to showcase these capabilities. It’s time for our tagline to change to match today’s Home Depot,” it says.

November Dodge Momentum Index Increases

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 2.9 per cent higher in November to 155.3 from the revised October reading of 150.9. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, 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. The increase in November was the result of a 6.5 per cent increase in the institutional component, while the commercial component moved 0.7 per cent higher. The overall index has staged somewhat of a resurgence over the last few months increasing nearly 15 per cent from its lowest point earlier in the year. In fact, it is currently flirting with a new cyclical high. The month-to-month planning data continues to be lumpy in nature as the presence or absence of large projects leads to greater volatility. Nevertheless, the underlying trend continues to suggest that construction activity in 2020 will not crater but will moderately ease relative to this year’s level.

Owning Home Pipedream For Millennials

Soaring house prices and rising personal debt are making it impossible for many Millennials, even those with good paying jobs, to ever afford a home, says a poll by KPMG in Canada. While almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of Millennials say their goal is to own a home, almost half (46 per cent) say home ownership is a pipedream. Owning a home in Vancouver, BC, or Toronto, ON, is even more unlikely, says the poll. Forty-six per cent of the demographic are fortunate to receive a financial boost from their parents in order to buy a home. As the most educated generation, Millennials have incurred high levels of student debt and those who have been able to enter the housing market have taken on larger mortgages relative to their incomes than those who came before them. However, while Millennials have higher incomes than previous cohorts, in part because of their higher educations, they are not necessarily better off, the poll says. Debt-to-income ratio is a key financial indicator and, for young Millennials, that now stands at 216 per cent, far exceeding the 125 per cent for Gen-Xers and 80 per cent for Baby Boomers at the same age – primarily because of mortgage debt. Wage growth has also been slower than expected.

Cabinets Now Available In Solid Colours

Elias Woodwork has expanded its five-piece laminate (polyester) product offerings with the introduction of 10 colours including, for the first time, solid colour options. Polyester laminate finishes look like real wood with a textured 3D appearance of wood grain. The appearance is further enhanced with a perpendicular grain direction stile and rail construction. The five-piece laminate (polyester) products use environmentally friendly NEXGEN laminates that offer an antibacterial surface and are formaldehyde free with no emissions. The company is also introducing a new door style to its gallery. The Quantum door features the 4982 door frame profile and 4981 drawer front profile. This Quantum style is available in Southwester, Froth of Sea, Latitude East, Summer Drops, and White Chocolate polyester colours.

December 9, 2019

Canadians Rapidly Adopting Digital Payments

Technology and payments innovation are transforming the way Canadian consumers and businesses make payments, says Payments Canada’s annual ‘Canadian Payments Methods and Trends report.’ In pursuit of more convenient, faster, and secure payment experiences, Canadians are rapidly adopting newer digital channels, such as contactless (tapping card or mobile), eCommerce, mobile, and online transfers, in favour of more traditional ‘paper and coin’ payments. The report says electronic payments accounted for 73 per cent of total payments volume (number of overall payment transactions) and 59 per cent of total payments value (the combined monetary value of total transactions). Cash payments declined 40 per cent in volume over the last five years. Contactless payments grew 30 per cent year-over-year from 2017 to 2018 with debit representing almost 60 per cent of their volume. Debit is often viewed as a convenient substitute for cash. In fact, debit card use overtook cash for the first time in recent years.

TIMBER MART Signs Third Dealer This Quarter

Building material dealer, Miller TIMBER MART is the third dealer in eastern Ontario to sign on with TIMBER MART this quarter. Located in Eganville, ON, Miller TIMBER MART will adopt the banner and says it looks forward to reaping the benefits of the group’s dealer-centric culture. The building supply dealer opened its doors in 1960 and, since then, has expanded its business with new product assortments, services, and staff. Owned by Dean Felhaber, who also owns pine lumber manufacturing business, Ben Hokum and Son Limited, Miller TIMBER MART is a full-service building material dealer that offers customers a wide range of lumber and building materials as well as a complete line of hardware. The business serves a mix of contractor customers, DIYers, and consumers in the Ottawa Valley and operates on a property that includes six storage buildings and a 6,000-square-foot retail space.

Yardi Marketplace Now Available In Canada

Yardi Marketplace, an online store for maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) supplies, is now available in Canada. Yardi Marketplace is a component of the Yardi Procure to Pay Suite which consolidates office and building supply procurement, invoice processing, vendor management, and payments into a single connected solution. Yardi Marketplace is free to Yardi PAYscan clients. The marketplace allows customers to purchase with online catalogs that offer real-time availability and pricing. They system also accommodates in-store purchases from Acklands-Grainger, HD Supply, Veritiv, and other suppliers. The site will offer more than one million MRO products.

RH Has Strong Third Quarter

RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) had net revenues of $677.5 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.4 per cent over net revenues of $636.6 million in the third quarter of 2018. Operating income was $89.2 million for the quarter, up 111 per cent over $42.2 million in the year-ago period. Operating margin increased 660 basis points to 12.2 per cent over 6.6 per cent last year. Net income increased 161 per cent to $52.5 million versus $20.1 million last year. Increases were affected by lower tax rate and eliminating unproductive product categories and fringe promotions.

December 6, 2019

Canadian Growth To Continue Amid Uncertainty

Canada's economic outlook for 2020 is improving slightly as a result of growth in the real estate market, residential investment, and household consumption, although a number of factors that contributed to the 2019 slowdown remain, says Pierre Cléroux, vice-president, research and chief economist at BDC. In BDC’s ‘2020 Economic Outlook,’ he says these conditions should translate into a growth rate of about 1.7 per cent for the Canadian economy in 2020. Canadian households are the engine that are powering the economy, says Cléroux. Households have finally adapted to restrictive provincial policies, the introduction of the stress test, and interest rates. Part of the rebound in household investment is due to labour market strength. Unemployment rates have reached historic lows in multiple provinces and, although many businesses are struggling with a lack of employees, labour shortages are driving up wages. As well, mortgage rates began to fall mid-year after over a year of stable interest rates. Cléroux says the Bank of Canada will likely be reluctant to cut rates considering that a decline could worsen the financial situation of households. 2020 should be marked by a recovery in the real estate market, residential investment, and household consumption. British Columbia and Quebec will continue to lead the pack, while the biggest improvement is expected in the Prairies after a rather difficult 2019. The Maritime provinces should continue to post positive growth as a result of population increases, particularly in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Walmart Canada Opens eCommerce Fulfillment Facility

Walmart Canada have opened a dedicated and purpose-built distribution centre (DC) in Mississauga, ON. At approximately 450,000 square feet, the DC is the main facility dedicated to fulfilling Walmart Canada's online orders. It was designed to be a flexible, scalable solution for logistics and fulfillment that is part of Walmart's strategy to continue growing its eCommerce business in Canada. The retailer sought SCI Canada’s support to develop a customized supply chain solution that streamlines operations. The facility maximizes storage through a four-level, 70,000-square-foot pick platform for storing and picking smaller items and pallet racking for larger and higher volume items. It is equipped with intelligence software that provides real-time visibility to operations and is fully integrated with SCI's warehouse management system. It boasts automation that improves capacity and uses conveyors to transport materials to one of five zones on each level and complete pick totes to a put-wall area from both the platform and pallet racks.

Ace Agassiz Builders’ Opens Bigger Store

Lowe’s Canada affiliate store Ace Agassiz Builders’ Ltd. Has officially inaugurated its new building in Agassiz, BC. Located a kilometre from the previous site, the TeBrinke family, who own the business, has invested $1.8 million to build the location that is almost three times the size of its predecessor. The store boasts 4,750 square feet of retail space with an 800-square-foot adjacent garden centre, a 5,000-square-foot indoor lumberyard in a separate building, and a 23,000-square-foot outdoor lumberyard. Local customers now have access to additional categories such as outdoor equipment and seasonal products. The retailer also offers a wider assortment in existing categories such as tools, plumbing, lighting, and paint. The TeBrinke family is planning an official grand opening in the spring. In the meantime, they are looking to add even more features to their store, such as an appliance department and eCommerce capabilities.

Velux Group Makes Organizational Changes

The VELUX Group, a Danish-based company, has created Group North America, a single operation management team for North America. The group will oversee residential, commercial, and production operations. Timothy B. Miller will be chief executive officer of the group. He is currently president of VELUX America, LLC. Chuck Rimsky will be president of VELUX Greenwood, LLC. He is currently director of product development. Stephan Moyon will be president of VELUX America, LLC, the U.S. sales and marketing company. All organizational changes will be effective January 1. There will be no structural changes to VELUX Canada Inc.

December 5, 2019

Vancouver Home Buying Activity Returns To Typical Levels

After a quieter first half of 2019, home buyer activity has returned to more historically typical levels in metro Vancouver, BC, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Home sales in the region totalled 2,498 in November, a 55.3 per cent increase from the 1,608 sales recorded in November 2018, and a 12.6 per cent decline from the 2,858 homes sold in October 2019. Last month’s sales were four per cent above the 10-year November sales average. There were 2,987 detached, attached, and apartment homes newly listed for sale for the month. This represents a 13.7 per cent decrease compared to November 2018 and a 26.7 per cent decrease compared to October 2019. Sales of detached homes reached 825, a 59.9 per cent increase from last year. Attached home sales totalled 451, a 59.9 per cent increase.

Preparing For Tax Returns Now Can Mean Savings

Canadian private business owners can reduce balance owing and increase refund potential by preparing for tax returns now instead of April, says EY Canada. “Tax rules evolve every year, and it's important for private business owners to know how these changes will affect their private company,” says Ken Kyriacou, tax partner, private client services. “Planning now for 2020 taxes may seem a little premature but, it can mean the difference between big savings or bigger disappointments. Getting a head-start can minimize the income tax you pay on 2019 tax returns.” EY suggests Canadian private business owners consider these questions to identify savings opportunities on their 2019 tax bill and beyond: Are there any income-splitting techniques available to you? Do you hold passive income? Do you income-split your private company business earnings with adult family members? Did you conduct training? and Have you thought about estate planning? For more information, visit EY Canada Tax Matters

Diablo Launches Hammer Bit Line

Diablo has launched a full-range of SDS-Plus and SDS-Max Rebar Demon four-cutter, full carbide head hammer bits for concrete with rebar applications. These bits are designed for drilling fast, precise holes without the need of changing to a rebar cutter to drill concrete with rebar, delivering savings in time and money. Produced with ‘Tri-Metal Diffusion Bonding’ technology, the full-carbide head resists heat and prevents breakage. The bits’ precision tips deliver stability and accuracy required to produce holes in concrete with rebar for ANSI-approved anchor setting. All Diablo hammer bits feature Dura-Carbide, which withstands heavy impact and high-heat applications, extending life versus standard bits. The bits also feature a four-flute design for speed, providing faster dust removal, less wear, cleaner holes, and faster drilling. Diablo hammer bits work best with corded and cordless SDS Plus and SDS Max rotary hammers.

Kuepfer Named Director, Communications

Jessica Kuepfer is director, communications at Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, she was marketing manager, public relations. She has been with the company for almost six years.

Strong Sales For Dollarama

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $947.6 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 9.6 per cent compared to sales of $864.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable store sales grew 5.3 per cent in the quarter compared to last year. Gross margin was 43.7 per cent of sales compared to 44.3 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings increased to $138.6 million compared to $132.1 million in the year-ago period.

December 4, 2019

Business Leaders Uncertain About Economic Outlook

Optimism and pessimism about the economy are running neck and neck, says a survey by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Optimism about the Canadian economy over the next 12 months is at 28 per cent among professional accountants in leadership positions. Meanwhile, another 28 per cent report feeling pessimistic. The largest group took no position, with 44 per cent reporting neither optimism nor pessimism. Optimism among business leaders is down from the second quarter of the year when it was at 31 per cent, while pessimism is up from 24 per cent. The survey was carried out shortly after the recent federal election; worth noting is that 10 per cent of Canadian business leaders say having a minority government is the top challenge to economic growth in this country. However, a minority government only rates fifth on the list of worries, trailing general uncertainty around the Canadian economy (15 per cent), U.S. protectionism, the state of the U.S. economy, and the lack of skilled workers (all three tied at 11 per cent). The survey also says that almost half of respondents (48 per cent) are optimistic about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months, with 18 per cent being pessimistic and 33 per cent neutral. When assessing the next year, 66 per cent predict their businesses will see increased revenues, 59 per cent are foreseeing increased profits, and 45 per cent anticipate an increase in employee numbers.

Peter Kohler Passes Away

Peter Kohler, founder of Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems, passed away December 3 at his winter home in Florida. He was 77 years old. Kohler founded Kohler Windows, now Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems, almost 40 years ago with four employees and built one of the most respected window and door brands in Canada. He devoted his life to the window and door industry and won many awards for his accomplishments both regionally and nationally. He retired in 2010 after selling the company to his management team. Kohltech will announce funeral and memorial arrangements as they become available.

Vinyl To Dominate Window Sales

Global demand for windows is forecast to increase 4.5 per cent per year to $138 billion in 2023, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Vinyl windows are projected to account for the fastest growth in value terms, spurred by cost and performance advantages of PVC products, rising income levels, and more stringent energy efficiency requirements, which support purchases of higher quality, costlier products. Metal windows will, however, continue to account for the leading share of window sales, buoyed by their prevalence in non-residential buildings and multifamily housing units, where the material’s durability and low maintenance requirements are favoured. Wood is projected to continue losing market share and will post the weakest performance among material types through 2023 as the penetration rate of vinyl and fibreglass windows continues to increase throughout the world.

ToughBuilt Finds Success With Amazon Storefronts

Construction tool and accessory manufacturer ToughBuilt Industries, Inc. had sales over $1.8 million in the initial seven months of operation in its U.S. and Canadian Amazon storefronts. This is an annualized run rate of $3.5 million, which is 40 per cent higher than the run rate ToughBuilt announced in May. The company says these sales were achieved with a gradual increase of product offerings to the storefronts, with products also being sold throughout Europe, Australia, and other international destinations.

December 3, 2019

Retailers Not Utilizing AI, ML

Only 10 per cent of retail businesses are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), says the ‘State of SMB Finance’ report by ScaleFactor. The report says that small- to mid-size retail businesses are hiring employees, but avoiding technology adoption and implementation. In fact, retail businesses are the most reluctant to implement AI or machine learning (ML) solutions into their workflow, with just 10 per cent adopting and 40 per cent indicating they are not interested in this technology. Despite disinterest, 44 per cent of retail businesses say they do not find the process of implementing AI or ML challenging, the highest of all industries. For those that do implement technology solutions, 85 per cent of small businesses report it is utilized primarily for bookkeeping. Additionally, retail businesses report the highest tech usage for financial forecasting purposes, with almost double the amount of technology implementation versus other industries.

Growth Forecast For Mineral Wool Insulation Market

Demand for mineral wool insulation is expected to rise 3.6 per cent annually through 2023 to 1.6 million pounds valued at $755 million, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Demand growth will be the fastest of any material type due to increasingly stringent fire safety codes, which mineral wool is better able to accommodate than other materials; its cost effectiveness relative to several more widely used materials; and rising interest in installing acoustic insulation in the interior of residential homes and in new hospitals, offices, high rises, and educational facilities. In the residential market, mineral wool insulation demand will be driven by the need to meet fire safety codes in single-family residences and high-rise apartment buildings, as well as the increased use of loose fill product forms in attic applications. Further boosting demand will be rising shipments of industrial and HVAC equipment, where mineral wool is commonly specified because of the importance of fire safety in these applications.

AZEK Announces 2020 Product Lineup

AZEK Building Products will release a lineup of products for 2020 in its TimberTech AZEK, TimberTech PRO, and TimberTech EDGE decking lines. The TimberTech Multi-Width Decking is now available in two 7.25-inch wide width boards in the Harvest Collection in Brownstone and Slate Grey. MAX boards are also available in TimberTech AZEK in a 1.5-inch thickness in two greys - Coastline from the Vintage Collection and Slate Grey from the Harvest Collection. Additionally, the TimberTech PRO Decking line has added the Reserve Collection which features four colours and a natural, matte finish. The TimberTech EDGE Decking line now includes the new Prime+ Collection that has two blended colours with a tight, straight-grain embossing pattern. The boards feature a scalloped profile.

Construction Segment Leads Deere Sales

Deere & Company had net income of $722 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of eight per cent compared to net income of $785 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net sales were $9.9 billion, up five per cent compared to $9.4 billion in the year-ago period. The agriculture and turf segment had a three per cent increase in net sales year-over-year; the equipment operations segment had a four per cent increase in net sales; and construction and forestry had an eight per cent increase in net sales.

December 2, 2019

‘Showrooming’ Major Problem

‘Showrooming’ – when shoppers visit local businesses to try out or learn about a product, but then buy it from a big box store or online competitor – is a major problem for independent merchants heading into the busy holiday season, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In fact, 60 per cent of independent retailers say they have experienced showrooming, with a third of those saying it's having a significant impact on their business. "When customers go into independent stores to ask questions or try on merchandise and then take a picture or write down a model number so they can buy the item online, they might not be aware that they're not just taking away a sale, they're taking money away from their neighbourhoods. These are the shops that support local kids' hockey teams or donate to the community foodbank every Christmas," says Dan Kelly, CFIB's president. "They care about their customers and want to help and share their expertise, but their rent, their property taxes, and their employees need to be paid. Ultimately, when consumers take up the time of local retailers, but spend their money elsewhere, it's our communities that suffer." Shoppers aged 18 to 34 were more likely than older consumers to showroom shop, with three out of four admitting to having done it

Retail Sales Stumble Along

Canadian retail sales growth just keeps stumbling along slowly, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total retail sales gained just 1.5 per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter, a smidgen above the 1.4 per cent second quarter gain, but a drop from the 1.8 per cent increase in the first quarter of the year. After nine months of 2019, Canadian retail sales are up only 1.6 per cent compared to a year ago. That doesn't even cover price inflation and population growth. The underlying 12-month trend continues to dwindle and could end the year at an increase of about 1.5 per cent, which would make 2019 the slowest growth year since the Great Recession of 2009. Building material and garden equipment and supplies merchants were up 5.4 per cent in the quarter, which is a significant recovery from the 0.9 per cent gain for the first half of the year. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 31.4 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending September 2019. This was much higher than for location based retail which gained just 1.5 per cent.

Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Fridge Market

The global smart refrigerator market was valued at US$322.41 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $1,008.91 million by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 per cent over the forecast period, says a report from Brandessence Market Research. Smart refrigerators detect the type of items stored within and, using barcodes and RFID systems, keep track of details like expiration dates for food. They can connect with smartphones and provide information and even let owners know if the door was left open. Samsung last year launched a smart fridge that can recognize voices and provide personalized information. Increasing urbanization, disposable income, and rising adoption of smart devices is driving the market. As well, increasing technological advancements like wireless connectivity through smart phones and other smart devices is expected to positively impact the growth of the global smart refrigerator market. However, high cost is the hindering factor of the smart refrigerator market.

Texting Could Provide Competitive Advantage

Sixty-nine per cent of consumers across all age groups would like to be able to contact a business via text and 54 per cent are frustrated when they are unable to do so, says a report by EZ Texting, a provider of SMS marketing software for business. Overwhelmingly, businesses are unaware of consumers' communication preferences, with 54 per cent of consumers wanting to receive text promotions, but only 11 per cent of businesses delivering them. This means 89 per cent of businesses miss the opportunity to connect with consumers the way they want to be communicated with. Similarly, 83 per cent of consumers would like to receive appointment reminders via text, but less than 20 per cent of businesses utilize text to communicate. Additionally, despite the fact that consumers are 4.5 times more likely to respond to a text message than an eMail, businesses are still three times more likely to communicate with customers via eMail. This means that communicating with consumers via their preferred method – texting – can provide businesses with a competitive advantage. Those businesses that do use texting are seeing this already with 86 per cent reporting that texting offers higher engagement than eMail.

November 29, 2019

Physical Stores Reign Supreme For Holiday Shopping

Two-thirds of Canadian consumers plan to visit physical stores for their holiday shopping this year, 57 per cent plan to seek out online retailers, and over 30 per cent will shop both online and in-store, says a survey from JLL, a professional services firm. Twenty per cent of shoppers will pick up online orders at physical stores. Mobile continues to gain momentum as a shopping and research channel with almost 90 per cent of shoppers using their device during the shopping process. Yet, the survey shows that more than one-third of shoppers will get gift ideas by browsing in-store while 21 per cent will browse online only. The consensus among Canadians is that saving money is the most important shopping factor, followed by avoiding the hassle and crowds. On average, Canadians plan to spend $425 on gifts, while early shoppers will attribute a higher budget of $500 for their holiday spending. Shoppers will also shop at thrift and consignment stores and donate to charities this season.

Regal ideas Receives Industry Awards From NADRA

Regal ideas Inc., in partnership with Dr Decks and Neighborhood Fence and Decks, has received a number of awards at the ‘10th Annual North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) National Deck Competition.’ Regal ideas received first place for its Limitless Creations in partnership with Dr Decks; first place for its Alternative Deck in partnership with Dr Decks; second place for a manufacturer product in partnership with Dr Decks; third place for Illumination in partnership with Dr Decks; and third place for its Closed Porch in partnership with Neighborhood Fence and Decks. Andrew Pantelides, vice-president of marketing and business development for Regal ideas, was also recognized by NADRA for his commitments and involvement to growing the association. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the competition. It is open to members in Canada and the U.S.

Robust Growth Forecast For Modular And Prefabricated Buildings

Growth opportunities in the global modular and prefabricated buildings market look robust over the next six years, says a report from Frost & Sullivan. A global uptick in construction activities and significant cost, labour, and time savings in offsite construction are key factors driving market revenues toward $215 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.3 per cent from 2018 to 2025. With a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, adopting more environmentally sustainable and regulatory-compliant construction practices will boost prospects and revenues in the more mature market in North America. “Despite increased construction costs from an off-site construction, a net saving of up to seven per cent is possible because of shortened construction periods,” says Prathmesh Limaye, senior analyst, chemicals and materials in infrastructure and mobility. “In addition, prefabricated buildings are increasingly being perceived as sustainable solutions for construction projects due to a growing usage of materials such as timber and aluminum composites that are more energy efficient than concrete.”

Renoworks Reports Loss

Renoworks Software Inc., a visualizer for the home remodeling and new home construction industry, had quarterly revenues of $1.06 million for the three months ended September 30, compared to $1.08 in 2018. Net loss for the fiscal quarter was $219,941 versus a profit of $61,292 during the same quarter a year ago. Design service revenues increased by 26 per cent to $389,691, compared to $308,899 for the same period last year, and 39 per cent of the third quarter's revenue in 2019 is attributable to annual recurring customer contracts.

November 28, 2019

Recovery In BC Quicker Than Anticipated

The housing market in British Columbia is forecast to see a recovery that is “much quicker than anticipated,” says a ‘BC Resale Market Housing Outlook.’ It says increases of 13 per cent and four per cent in province-wide resale transactions can be expected in 2020 and 2021, respectively, reaching 85,475 units, following the seven per cent decline experienced in 2019. This will still be below the high of nearly 100,000 units recorded in 2017. The reversal in trends can be attributed to steep mortgage rate declines combined with continued population growth, especially in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Housing starts will reach 44,000 units in 2019, but many of these units were pre-sold prior to the downturn when market conditions were stronger. As pre-sales were sluggish throughout 2019, developers will be extra cautious. Project construction will be delayed in 2020 onwards and condo starts will likely be curtailed in 2020.

SMEs Optimistic For Future Growth

From economic uncertainty to geopolitical issues, the business landscape in Canada can present unique challenges for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, SMEs are optimistic about their potential for future growth despite external pressures from fierce market competition, changing customer demands, and disruptive technologies, says the third annual ‘American Express SME Pulse Survey.’ Not surprisingly, most SMEs, both in Canada and globally, say that driving revenue growth is their primary long term-objective. An overwhelming majority of Canadian SMEs expect to generate at least 75 per cent of that revenue through domestic sales. Today’s SMEs are adapting to meet ever-changing customer expectations and understand there is tremendous opportunity in being transparent when providing products and services that are ethically and sustainably sourced. As well, more than half plan to increase their use of technology and tools to collect and better analyze customer data. The report says technology will remain an area of continued focus for the over-whelming majority of SMEs, who say that applying the latest technology will continue to remain a key business challenge they plan to work hardest to address over the next three years.

ARW Truck Rolling Out Across Western Canada

ARW Truck Equipment Ltd. is expanding its service area to cover all of Saskatchewan, as well as northeast and southeast British Columbia. The company will service the Fort St. John, BC, area through its established ARW Truck facility in Grande Prairie, AB. In Saskatchewan, ARW has partnered with Cervus Equipment to be the authorized parts and service provider through their locations in Saskatoon and Regina. ARW Truck has been the exclusive factory-authorized sales and service dealer in Alberta for HIAB cranes, Moffett forklifts, and Multilift hooklifts since 1997.

Single Family Sales Fall

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly fell in October following recent strong gains, but the overall housing market remains supported by lower mortgage rates, says the Commerce Department. New home sales dropped 0.7 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000 units last month, held down by decreases in activity in the south and northeast regions. Sales surged 31.6 per cent from a year ago.

Canfor Announces Further Curtailments

Canfor Corporation will be curtailing operations at all British Columbia sawmills at the end of December. All sawmills, with the exception of WynnWood, will be curtailed for two weeks from December 23 through January 3, with operations resuming on January 6. WynnWood will be curtailed for five days. The curtailments are due to the high cost of fibre and continued weak lumber markets, which are making the operating conditions in British Columbia uneconomic.

55 Countries At Show

March 1 to 4, 2020, Cologne will once again become the meeting point for the international hardware industry. For four days, around 2,800 suppliers from more than 55 countries will present tools, products from the industrial supply, fasteners and fixings, fittings, and home improvement segments at EISENWARENMESSE - International Hardware Fair Cologne. The product offering of the exhibitors is complemented by an extensive and diverse event program that offers themes and occasions for communication that move the industry. For information, visit EISENWARENMESSE

November 27, 2019

Wholesale Trade Offsets August Decline

Wholesale trade rose one per cent to $65.1 billion in September, almost entirely offsetting the 1.2 per cent decline in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in five of seven subsectors, representing 82 per cent of total wholesale sales. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.9 per cent and in the third quarter, sales increased 0.8 per cent, the 14th consecutive quarterly increase. Quarterly sales increased in four of seven subsectors. Wholesale sales rose in nine provinces in September, representing 98 per cent of the total wholesale sales. Sales in Quebec recorded the largest increase in September, up 2.5 per cent to $12.2 billion following a decline of 2.2 per cent in August. The only province where sales declined in September was Manitoba which saw a 1.4 per cent decrease, the second consecutive decline. Wholesale inventories decreased 0.7 per cent to $92.3 billion in September, the second consecutive monthly decline.

Morin Bros. Join TIMBER MART

TIMBER MART will welcome a new commercial dealer, Morin Bros. Building Supplies Inc., on January 1, 2020. Located in Ottawa, ON, Morin Bros. Building Supplies was opened in March of 1986 by the three brothers - Claude, Daniel, and Gérald Morin. It offers a wide product assortment that includes gypsum, light steel framing, insulation, acoustical and speciality ceilings, doors and frames, wall coatings, and hardware. The business serves a mix of contractor customers from residential to commercial/institutional builders. “A number of American-based businesses are buying into our Canadian market share and we felt we needed to join forces with TIMBER MART to be better recognized by manufacturers and truly compete,” says Gérald Morin, part-owner of Morin Bros. Building Supplies. “We look forward to benefitting from the group’s buying power and their many other services that will sustain our growth in Ontario and amidst fierce U.S. competition.”

Home Sales Rebound From Near-Record Low

Single-family home sales, with 1,296 detached, linked and semi-detached houses, and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up 178 per cent from last October’s near-record low and even with the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, the official source for new home market intelligence for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Sales of condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings; stacked townhouses; and loft units, accounted for 3,424 new home sales, down three per cent from October 2018, but still 13 per cent above the 10-year average. “Pent-up demand is gradually being released, aided by favourable mortgage rates and some increase in the availability of single-family product that is affordable to a broader range of buyers,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, data solutions. With a number of new projects coming to market in October, remaining inventory increased from the previous month to 19,718 units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings. “Based on population projections, it is clear that the demand for housing in the GTA is not going away,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO.

More Canadians Shop Online For Christmas

Forty per cent of Canadians say they are more likely to shop online for holiday gifts this year compared to last year. Among those shopping online, time saving (62 per cent), better stock and selection (59 per cent), and the ability to shop in peace without interaction with others (35 per cent) were identified as the top three reasons for shopping online instead of in-store, says the ‘2019 FedEx Holiday Shopping Survey.’ "There is an undeniable trend in Canada and globally toward a dramatic uptick in consumers' use of eCommerce. Canadians shop online versus in-store more than ever before with data showing that Canadians are 56 per cent more likely to shop online compared to just five years ago," says Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada. However, with a rise in online shopping people also worry about package theft. Of those surveyed, 68 per cent were concerned about the threat of package theft and 29 per cent have experienced package theft in the past. It also found that 22 per cent of Canadian Gen Zs avoid online shopping as they are scared they will inevitably buy too much. This is more than triple the number of Boomers (seven per cent) with that same concern.

Walmart Expands Chinese Footprint

Walmart plans to open 500 new stores in China over the next five to seven years. That would more than double its footprint in China, which is expected to become the world's biggest grocery market by 2023. The expansion comes as China's huge economy is cooling. The country is grappling with slumping growth and a prolonged trade war with the United States. China's GDP growth dropped last quarter to its lowest level in nearly three decades and Beijing has been rolling out stimulus measures to jump start the economy. Chinese consumers, however, are still spending and that's been good news for Walmart. Its China sales grew 6.3 per cent last quarter compared to the same period last year, much higher than its 2.5 per cent growth worldwide.

Regal ideas Launches Pro Deck Builder Network

Regal ideas has launched DeckStars, a pro deck builder network. The program offers tools, training, and networking opportunities to deck builders and contractors across North America. “DeckStars now completes our turn-key merchandising, marketing, and go-to-market programs that connect consumers to certified installers and authorized dealers,” says Joe Jacklin, director of marketing and contractor development, who was brought on to lead the program. DeckStars.com offers program features, training dates, and locations. The consumer sections of the site will launch in early 2020 and feature local certified ‘DeckStars’ in Canada and the U.S.

Beacon Sales Up 4.9 Per Cent

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had net sales of $2.03 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 4.9 per cent over net sales of $1.94 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Consolidated residential roofing product sales increased 12.7 per cent, consolidated non-residential roofing product sales increased 2.4 per cent, and consolidated complementary product sales decreased 3.2 per cent compared to the prior-year period. Net income was $27.4 million, compared to $48.3 million in 2018 while adjusted net income was $82 million compared to $84.1 million in 2018. Gross profit was $493 million compared to $491 million a year ago.

November 26, 2019

Building Construction Investment Rises

Total investment in building construction rose one per cent from August to $15.6 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. Investment was up for both the residential - 1.2 per cent to $10.8 billion and non-residential +0.4 per cent to $4.9 billion - sectors. Total investment grew 2.4 per cent from the second to the third quarter. Investment in the residential sector was up in five provinces in September, led by Ontario and Quebec. Nationally, investment in the single (1.4 per cent) and multi-unit (1.1 per cent) dwellings increased compared with August. In the non-residential sector, the commercial component increased 0.7 per cent with Quebec posting the largest increase. Nationally, the industrial and institutional components were largely unchanged. Investment in residential new construction was largely unchanged year over year at $16.6 billion in the third quarter.

BC Expands Secondary Suite Options

The British Columbia government is changing its building code to expand options for secondary suites in multi-family buildings. The change will give local governments the choice to allow secondary suites in side-by-side multi-family buildings such as duplexes, townhouses, and row housing. The changes do not apply to apartment-style buildings where units are above or below each other. The goal is to create more affordable housing, while ensuring buildings in BC meet health, safety, and energy-efficiency standards. Size restrictions for secondary suites are also being removed from the provincial building code which applies throughout BC except for some federal lands and the city of Vancouver. Secondary suites represent about two-thirds of all rental housing in the province. It will be up to municipalities to decide whether to embrace the changes and amend zoning and development bylaws to allow the secondary suites.

U.S. Construction In Good Health Overall

For the third quarter of 2019, the ‘Marcum Commercial Construction Index’ finds the U.S. industry in overall good health as 2020 approaches. However, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ identifies some causes for concern. On the positive side, the index points to increased public construction spending, growing backlogs, falling input prices, the ongoing U.S. economic expansion, a strong construction labour market, and interest rate cuts as key factors sustaining the construction industry’s momentum. For example, there was a 1.5 per cent increase in public construction spending in September and a 6.6 per cent increase year-over-year. In contrast, the report identifies several factors related to construction employment putting downward pressures on the industry. These include the continued lack of qualified construction workers to fill a historic high level of available construction jobs, which in turn is driving labour costs and producer prices higher. For the ugly, it identifies debt levels – corporate, governmental, and consumer – have risen massively due to the low interest rate environment and continued economic confidence. But while businesses have begun to slow their spending, consumers haven’t, which will translate into slower job growth and higher consumer exposure

Climate, ROI On Minds Of Homeowners

Coping with climate extremes, getting creative, and achieving better, longer-lasting performance that adds more ROI for the home improvement dollar are all top of mind for Canadian and U.S. homeowners this year, says the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA). In its 2020 trends forecast, MRA says strength of the home exterior to prepare for climate extremes will be on top of homeowners’ minds. Delicate detailing is out, while the use of heartier exterior features that offer an almost ‘fortress-like’ feel and are meant to show off a home’s rugged resiliency are more popular than ever. Net Zero homes will also be important to homeowners next year. These homes are those deemed so energy efficient, they produce as much renewable energy as they consume. For roofs, homeowners will use bold colours. Metal is the second most popular roofing choice and those that choose metal are going with colourful colours that call attention to roofs rather than camouflage them. Natural light via skylights will also remain a major selling point for homes. With their ability to capture up to 30 per cent more light than standard windows, skylights help brighten up spaces that feel dark or cramped.

Heavy-duty Cabinet System Provides Garage Storage

Proslat’s Fusion Pro Series Cabinets provide storage and organization for the garage. They are manufactured from 19-gauge steel and feature heavy-duty drawers with mat liners. The dual wall doors have soft-close, zero clearance hinges and have ergonomically designed anodized handles. They are available in a blue satin finish with matching doors and drawers. The base unit consists of an extra large tool chest which can be mounted on feet for stationary storage or fitted with casters and handles to make it mobile. The cabinet system also features a work surface – a traditional stationary workbench or a mobile workstation.

Slight Sales Increase For ROCKWOOL

ROCKWOOL had sales of €706 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 0.9 per cent over sales in the third quarter of 2018. EBIT was €100 million for the quarter, an increase of 2.8 per cent year-over-year, and EBIT margin was 14.1 per cent, up 0.1 per cent. Annualized return on invested capital reached 21.8 per cent compared to 22.8 per cent last year, a decrease of one per cent due to higher invested capital. The company’s insulation and system segments performed well in the North American market.

November 25, 2019

LBM Sales Above Industry Average

Retail sales decreased for the first time in three months, edging down 0.1 per cent to $51.6 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. The decline came from lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales rose 0.7 per cent. Rounding out the third quarter, retail sales were up 0.5 per cent, following a 1.1 per cent increase in the second quarter. In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.5 per cent in the third quarter. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 3.3 per cent. Sales were up at home centres which typically sell building materials, hardware, paint, wallpaper, and related supplies. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.9 billion in September, accounting for 3.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 34.6 per cent.

BC RONA Showroom Opens Doors

RONA dealer-owners Russ and Tess Jones have opened the RONA Appliance & Design Showroom by Coast Builders in Gibsons, BC. The Jones, who also own two other RONA locations in Madeira Park and Sechelt, BC, acquired the Gibsons Sears store in 2017 and started an extensive renovation process to convert the space into a unique design destination. The 5,000-square-foot store offers supplies for kitchen and bathroom renovations including appliances, cabinets, lighting, and design services. The store also features three connected shipping containers to highlight seasonal, patio, and outdoor power equipment products.

Most Canadians Will Shop For Deals On Black Friday

Just under 95 per cent of Canadian consumers plan to shop for Black Friday deals this year, compared to 79 per cent in 2017, says a survey by RedFlagDeals.com. Only 4.1 per cent intend to go to the U.S. to shop on Black Friday, compared to 15.5 per cent in 2016. Seventy-four per cent do research in online forums before they head out to the physical stores. However, 67 per cent of Canadian consumers plan to do most of their shopping online. Interestingly, almost 60 per cent of consumers think the best deals of the year will be on Black Friday, compared to 17 per cent who say Boxing Day will have the best deals.

Juggling Responsibilities Top Challenge For Managers

Trying to manage a team while taking care of other responsibilities is the top challenge facing managers today, says a survey by SoapBox, a provider of management apps. Other challenges they must cope with include hitting team goals, getting people to collaborate with one another, and retaining employees. The survey says most managers feel the most important part of their role as a manager is keeping the team on track to achieve goals. This is followed by providing direct reports with growth and development opportunities and removing blockers from their team. Interestingly, remote managers find retaining employees six times more challenging than on-site employees. To accomplish their responsibilities and goals, 94 per cent of managers have one-on-one meetings with their team with 41 per cent using personal productivity tools for meetings and 21 per cent using purpose-built one-on-one and team meeting software.

Ace Hardware Has Record Quarter

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.53 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 7.2 per cent versus revenues of $1.43 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Net income was $60.5 million for the quarter, an increase of 66.7 per cent from last year. Same-store sales increased 3.4 per cent year-over-year, the average transaction size increased 2.4 per cent, and online sales increased 81 per cent. Wholesale revenues increased 4.7 per cent year-over-year with power tools, grilling products, and outdoor power equipment showing the largest gains. Paint was the only department with a decrease compared to the year-ago quarter. Retail revenues increased 47 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Gross profit was $183.3 million, an increase of $16.1 million from the third quarter of 2018.

November 22, 2019

Manufacturing Sales Edge Down

Manufacturing sales edged down 0.2 per cent in September to $57.4 billion, following a 0.8 per cent increase in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 10 of 21 industries, representing 62.2 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales in the petroleum and coal product and the motor vehicle parts industries accounted for the majority of the decrease; however, these decreases were largely offset by increases in the machinery and motor vehicle industries. Sales were down in seven provinces for the month, led by Alberta. British Colombia reported the largest increase. Inventory levels declined 0.8 per cent to $88 billion in September, following two months of increases and were down in 11 of 21 industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.54 in August to 1.53 in September, mostly due to lower inventories of durable goods. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

TIMBER MART Gets Kingston Member

Kingston, ON-based Cornerstone Building Supplies has joined TIMBER MART. “TIMBER MART has the credibility, brand image, and buying power we need to succeed in Kingston’s competitive market,” says Mason Laframboise, owner of Cornerstone Building Supplies. “We look forward to seizing all of the opportunities available to us as a member and continuing to grow our business.” The store opened in 2018 and since then has grown its product assortment to include windows, doors, flooring, tile, cabinets, electrical products, lumber, hardware, and common building supplies. The business has a 7,500-square-foot retail space, a large warehouse, and a yard. It focuses on selling high-end building projects and packages. Cornerstone is currently undergoing renovations which are expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

Kitchen, Bathroom Remain Top Renovations

Eight in 10 U.S. homeowners have renovated a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room in the last two years, and 60 per cent have specific plans to do more in the next two years, says a survey by U.S. online fixture retailer Hausera. Homeowners spent an average of $12,800 for their kitchen renovation, $11,100 for their bathroom, and $10,800 for their laundry room. Adapting to a lifestyle change, such as a changing family size or accommodations due to a disability or aging, was the biggest reason for a renovation. Other reasons to renovate include improving the functionality of a space and increasing property value before selling. Green and smart products continue to gain popularity, with energy efficient lighting systems and smart lighting systems the most popular products. Wish lists also include hands-free faucets and Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators. Among homeowners who completed renovations during the last two years, staying on budget and finding the right professionals were cited as the top challenges. Seventy per cent of homeowners have hired a design/build professional and 60 per cent have hired an interior designer for their kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room renovation.

L.J. Smith To Launch ‘Deck Your Stairs’ Photo Contest

L.J. Smith Stair Systems will hold its ‘2019 Deck Your Stairs Photo Contest’ from December 1 to 15. The online Facebook contest invites people to submit images of ways they’ve decorated their indoor stair system for the holidays. People may enter one time and include up to five photos of their own decorated stairway. The contest is open to residents of Canada and the U.S. Four winners will each win $100 cash prizes. For more information, visit L.J. Smith

Lowe's Third Quarter Sales Decrease

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net sales of $17.39 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over net sales of $17.41 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings for the quarter were $1 billion, up from $629 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were impacted by $53 million in non-cash pre-tax charges for a strategic review of its Canadian operations. Gross margin was $5.64 billion compared to $5.38 billion a year ago. The company had improved performance in departments which have historically underperformed – paint, millwork, and décor. Categories that performed above the company average included tools, lawn and garden, appliances, and hardware.

November 21, 2019

Lowe’s Canada Restructuring Operations, Closing 34 Stores

Lowe’s Canada is closing 34 stores and “simplifying multiple store banners” as part of a reorganization effort to improve performance and better position it for the future. The retailer will close 26 RONA stores, six Lowe’s stores, and two Réno-Dépôt stores across the country. It will also reorganize its corporate support structure and rationalize its product assortment. “Closing underperforming stores is a necessary step in our plan to ensure the long-term stability and growth of our Canadian business,” says Tony Cioffi, interim president. “We are taking decisive action to build a healthy business which will provide us with the flexibility to reinvest in our future growth. This includes having a clear strategy for our banners, built on the strength of our Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot brands. It also means investing in our omnichannel and supply chain capabilities, our web platforms, and our existing corporate stores and affiliated dealer network.” Lowe's Canada will continue serving customers from markets affected by the closures via other corporate and affiliated dealer stores from its network, as well as its online offering and parcel delivery service. The closures will take effect in January and February.

Harsh Canadian Winter Forecast

The snow and cold that has arrived early across much of Canada are preview of the harsh winter ahead, says the Weather Network in its ‘Winter Forecast.’ British Columbia is expected to have near seasonal temperatures and snowfall in the interior and temperatures should be above normal near the coastline and across the north. Residents of the Prairies can expect a long and frigid winter, with the coldest weather across Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta will see periods of mild weather which could come close to offsetting the bouts of severe cold. A cold winter is expected in Ontario and Quebec, especially across northern Ontario. An active storm track will likely bring above normal snow totals to much of the region, along with a risk for ice at times, especially across the south. A delayed start to spring is also anticipated. In Atlantic Canada, an inconsistent start to winter is expected, but this region will still see an abundance of winter weather with near to above normal snowfall totals. Southern and eastern coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland will see periods of milder weather at times with a higher potential for rain and ice. A delayed start to spring is expected for the entire region. In northern Canada, a typical winter is expected with near normal temperatures and snowfall. However, periods of milder weather at times across western areas should tip this region to the mild side of normal.

U.S. Construction Starts Fall

New U.S. construction starts declined 11 per cent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $696.3 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. This is the third consecutive monthly drop in U.S. construction starts activity. By major sector, non-residential building starts fell 20 per cent from September to October and non-building starts dropped 14 per cent, while residential starts moved two per cent lower. The October statistics pushed the index down to 147 compared to 166 in September. In residential building, single family housing starts were seven per cent lower, while multifamily starts increased 14 per cent over the month. Through the first 10 months of the year, residential construction starts were six per cent lower than in the same period of 2018. Single family starts were down three per cent, while multifamily declined 12 per cent year-to-date.

Showers Reign In Master Bathroom Remodels

Master bathrooms are making extra space for showers, says the ‘2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.’ Four in five U.S. homeowners upgrade their shower during master bathroom renovations (83 per cent) and over half increase their shower size (54 per cent). This is particularly notable when considering that only 22 per cent expand their master bathroom square footage during renovations. For many master bathroom renovators, shower expansion alleviates the pre-project pet peeve of a small shower or having an outdated space. In addition, a quarter of renovating homeowners remove their master tub and more than four in five of those choose to enlarge the shower in its place (84 per cent). Among those who added or replaced their bathtub, popularity of freestanding flat-bottom tubs grew from 41 per cent in 2017 to 50 per cent in 2019. Accent walls are also increasing in popularity in bathrooms both inside and outside the shower. Renovators are using patterns, different surface materials, colour, and textures as the differentiator on the accent wall. Custom medicine cabinets are also increasing in popularity.

Saint-Gobain To Acquire Continental

Saint-Gobain plans to acquire Continental Building Products. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies. Saint-Gobain says Continental is a geographic complement to its North American operations, good positioning in growth regions in the east and south-east of the U.S., and strong profitability. The acquisition will broaden Saint-Gobain’s asset portfolio and enhance its ability to provide a wider customer base with innovative solutions. The combination will also allow Continental customers to benefit from an enriched product portfolio supported by Saint-Gobain’s global R&D and product development infrastructure. As well, the combination will creates opportunity for cost synergies and performance improvements. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2020.

Jacklin Named Director Of Marketing

Joe Jacklin is director of marketing and contractor development, a newly-created role at Regal Ideas. He has almost 30 years of industry experience, notably in marketing at Home Hardware Stores Limited.

November 20, 2019

Home Depot Sales Up 3.5 Per Cent

The Home Depot had sales of $27.2 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared to sales of $26.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 3.6 per cent and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 3.8 per cent year-over-year. Canadian comparable sales were also positive and online sales grew approximately 22 per cent over the previous year period. Net earnings were $2.8 billion, down 3.4 per cent compared with net earnings of $2.9 billion in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $9.4 billion, up 2.6 per cent over gross profit of $9.2 billion. Drivers for professional sales included fasteners, pneumatics, concrete, and insulation and drivers for the DIY segment included patio furniture, exterior stains and paint, soils, and live goods.

U.S. Retail Sales Up Over Last Year

U.S. retail sales in October increased 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted over September and were up 4.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. October’s results make up for most of the 0.3 per cent month-over-month decline seen in September and build on September’s year-over-year increase of 4.1 per cent. As of October, the three-month moving average was up 4.3 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.7 per cent in September. Online and other non-store sales were up 14.6 per cent year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.6 per cent year-over-year and building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.2 per cent.

Self-checkout Technologies Gaining Traction

Self-checkout technologies are gaining traction in retail stores with 40 per cent of shoppers using these solutions within the last six months and 86 per cent saying they are comfortable with the technology, says Zebra Technologies Corporation in its ‘12th annual Global Shopper Study.’ Furthermore, most shoppers (58 per cent) – especially Millennials (70 per cent) – agree that self-checkout provides an improved customer experience. The majority of store associates (54 per cent) say staffed checkout areas are less necessary with new technology that automates the process. Most retail executives (87 per cent) believe self-checkout frees up store associates to better serve customers and 81 per cent say they’re starting to see a return on their investment. Retailers are also trying to improve the in-store experience through the use of robotics. Only seven per cent of shoppers have interacted with a robot in a retail environment in the last six months, but nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) say they are comfortable with them while 32 per cent of associates report concerns about being replaced by one.

Budget Blinds Now Offers Hunter Douglas Products

Budget Blinds franchises throughout Canada now offer Hunter Douglas products. The 74 Budget Blinds franchises are eligible to join the Hunter Douglas aligned dealer program and add its products to their consultation and installation services. Franchisees now have access to hundreds of products including sheers, shades, blinds, shutters, and motorized and other operating systems.

Skanska Creates Carbon Calculating Tool

Skanska USA, alongside the Carbon Leadership Forum and partners in industry, has created the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, a solution for calculating and evaluating the carbon emissions embodied within a wide array of building materials. Traditional assessments of a building’s emissions and life-cycle costs focus primarily on energy efficiency or the operational carbon of a structure. Until now, due to lack of data or data too complex to evaluate, few tools or benchmarks were available to facilitate awareness of the embodied carbon opportunity which is to reduce the carbon footprint of a structure even before it is made operational. EC3 enables the building industry to easily access and view material carbon emissions data, allowing them to make carbon smart choices during material specifications and procurement.

November 19, 2019

Retail Bucks Business Insolvency Trend

The slowing Canadian economy has resulted in the first year-over-year increase in business insolvencies in almost two decades, says data by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). The number of businesses that failed in the past 12 months to September was up 4.1 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. On an industry level, mining, oil, and gas extraction as well as the information and cultural industries were the main drivers of the rise in corporate insolvencies. Both sectors experienced an increase in business insolvency filings of over 40 per cent. The finance and insurance (27.6); professional, scientific, technical services (20.6 per cent), and real estate, rental, and leasing (14.7 per cent) sectors also experienced significant challenges. A few sectors, such as retail trade with 5.8 per cent fewer bankruptcies. Increases were greatest in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia while Saskatchewan was the only province to experience a decline over the past 12 months but, for the past three months, realized a 14.9 per cent increase compared to the same quarter last year. OSB says the number of consumer insolvencies is also increasing, up 8.5 per cent compared to last year.

Black Friday Shopping Gaining Popularity

The traditionally American retail holiday of Black Friday is continuing to gain popularity in Canada and has become the most popular shopping event among Canadians, says the Retail Council of Canada in its second annual ‘Holiday Shopping Survey.’ Forty-three per cent of Canadian consumers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, compared to 40 per cent last year. In contrast, 34 per cent plan to shop on Boxing Day. The study confirms that Black Friday isn't a passing trend in Canada. In fact, Canadians who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to spend a greater share of their 2019 holiday budget on Black Friday (38 per cent of holiday budget) compared with those who shop on Boxing Day (30 per cent of holiday budget). Consumers still like shopping in physical stores as well, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets to be spent in-store with the remaining 28 per cent to be spent online. Possible reasons include a majority of Canadians agree that finding the right gift can be challenging (67 per cent) and they prefer to shop in-person so they can see and touch the products (65 per cent). When it comes to price, however, 36 per cent believe they get better deals online than in-store during the holidays. Not surprisingly, more than two in five Canadians (44 per cent) say Cyber Monday deals are better online, while a similar amount (40 per cent) think Boxing Day deals are better in-store.

Walmart Canada Launches Blockchain Freight Network

Walmart Canada and DLT Labs have launched a blockchain-based freight and payment network. The system uses distributed ledger technology to track deliveries, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliation among Walmart Canada and its carriers, which deliver inventory to over 400 retail stores across Canada annually. All Walmart Canada's third-party carriers are scheduled to be live by February 2020. The solution is accessible using a web portal and mobile application. The network manages, integrates, and synchronizes all the supply chain and logistics data in real time, aggregating the data between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party trucks on a shared ledger. It also automates the myriad necessary calculations enabling real-time invoicing, payments, and settlement. It integrates with each company's legacy systems so organizations can continue to follow their existing processes without retraining or investment in technology.

Henkel Opens Technical Centre of Excellence

Henkel Adhesive Technologies has opened a technical centre of excellence for flexible packaging adhesives and coating applications in New Jersey, NY. Focused primarily on Loctite adhesive and coatings, the facility includes labs for evaluation, design, and testing, full-scale equipment, and state-of-the-art customer training facilities to support the needs of converters and brand owners. With packaging being a critical element in expanded shelf life and food safety, and increasingly important for sustainability, Henkel is investing in delivering innovative solutions to meet the ever-increasing demand driven by consumers and retailers.

Weyerhaeuser Completes Timberlands Divesture

Weyerhaeuser Company has completed the sale of its Michigan timberlands to Lyme Great Lakes Holding LLC, an affiliate of the Lyme Timber Company LP. The transaction, which was announced in September, includes 555,000 acres of timberlands in northern Michigan. "This transaction is part of our ongoing effort to strategically optimize our timberlands portfolio," says Devin W. Stockfish, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser.

November 18, 2019

Canadian Home Sales Hold Steady

National home sales were unchanged from September to October, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). This follows a string of monthly increases that began in March. Activity is now almost 20 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019, but remains seven per cent below heights reached in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined. Higher sales in Greater Vancouver, BC; Fraser Valley, BC; and Ottawa, ON, offset a monthly decline in activity in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) and Hamilton-Burlington, ON. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity rose 12.9 per cent year-over-year. As well, the number of newly-listed homes fell by 1.8 per cent in October, with the GTA and Ottawa posting the largest declines. Almost a third of all housing markets posted a monthly decline of at least five per cent, while about a fifth of all markets posted a monthly increase of at least five per cent. Steady sales and fewer new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 63.7 per cent. This measure has been increasingly rising above its long-term average of 53.6 per cent. Its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers; however, the national measure continues to mask significant regional variations.

Black Friday Shopping Gaining Popularity

The traditionally American retail holiday of Black Friday is continuing to gain popularity in Canada and has become the most popular shopping event among Canadians, says the Retail Council of Canada in its second annual ‘Holiday Shopping Survey.’ Forty-three per cent of Canadian consumers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, compared to 40 per cent last year. In contrast, 34 per cent plan to shop on Boxing Day. The study confirms that Black Friday isn't a passing trend in Canada. In fact, Canadians who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to spend a greater share of their 2019 holiday budget on Black Friday (38 per cent of holiday budget) compared with those who shop on Boxing Day (30 per cent of holiday budget). Consumers still like shopping in physical stores as well, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets to be spent in-store with the remaining 28 per cent to be spent online. One possible reason is that a majority of Canadians agree that finding the right gift can be challenging (67 per cent) and they prefer to shop in-person so they can see and touch the products (65 per cent). When it comes to price, however, 36 per cent believe they get better deals online than in-store during the holidays. Not surprisingly, more than two in five Canadians (44 per cent) say Cyber Monday deals are better online, while a similar amount (40 per cent) think Boxing Day deals are better in-store.

Lowe’s Canada Network Stores Honoured

Three Lowe’s Canada network stores received ‘2019 Outstanding Retailer Awards.’ Lowe’s Crowfoot was named ‘best large surface retailer’ for showing how great things can be accomplished by working together. RONA Gatineau (La Plateau) received the Marc Robichaud ‘community leader’ award for its commitment to social engagement. Ace Victory Building Centre received the ‘industry spirit’ award. This award was presented to a store that particularly stood out to the jury.

Masco Signs Agreement To Sell Cabinetry Division

Masco Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Masco Cabinetry to ACProducts, Inc., a manufacturer of cabinetry products owned by American Industrial Partners. The closing of the sale is expected to occur during the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review.

eCommerce Drives Walmart Earnings

Walmart Inc. had total revenue of $128 billion for the third quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, an increase of 2.5 per cent over revenue of $124.9 billion for the same period in the previous year. U.S. comparative sales increased on a two-year stacked basis by 6.6 per cent and U.S. eCommerce sales increased 41 per cent year-over-year with strong growth in online grocery. Net sales at Walmart International were $29.2 billion, an increase of 1.3 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Overall net income was $3.3 billion for the quarter, up 92.3 per cent compared to net income of $1.7 billion last year.

November 15, 2019

Small Business Lending Remains Healthy

Overall business credit balances for small businesses in Canada increased year-over-year in September, up 6.1 per cent over the previous year, says the ‘Fall 2019 TransUnion Business Lending Barometer.’ At the same time, lenders also increased the overall number of open credit accounts, up 5.4 per cent for the same 12-month period. Importantly, delinquency rates, defined as accounts with payments 90 or more days past due remained low at 1.95 per cent for September, which represented an improvement of 26 basis points (bps) compared to the same period in 2018. “Although the rate of growth in the Canadian economy has slowed in recent quarters, clearly there is still optimism amongst businesses and the lenders that support them,” says Matt Fabian, director of financial services, research and consulting, for TransUnion Canada. “With many businesses still recording growth, particularly in the small business segment, they are willing to take on credit to help manage their day-to-day operations and invest for expansion. Average balances per business borrower grew over the past year for most categories of credit products. This indicates that businesses have continued demand for credit and that lenders are making additional credit available – a positive formula for growth.”

Laval RONA Opens Renovated Store

RONA Viger-Leblanc has opened after a complete transformation and investment of $400,000. The Lowe’s Canada affiliate store, based in Laval, QC, has renovated the sales floor to add over 3,000 products and redesigned its racking. The store was founded over 70 years ago and was changed from a fruit market to a general store at the end of the 1950s. It became a RONA affiliated store in 1973, although it has changed locations over the years. Serge Viger joined the store more than 40 years ago as a part-time employee. He worked his way up the ladder and finally acquired the business with his wife Manon in 2011. Today, he employs 30 people.

Investor Group To Acquire Bouclair

Alston Investments Inc., a company recently formed by a group of Canadian investors with significant retail experience, plans to acquire a substantial portion of the assets of home decorating retail chain Bouclair Inc. via an asset purchase agreement. Alston plans to focus on Bouclair's successful experiential retail concept while continuing to invest heavily in its online presence. Efforts to promote Bouclair internationally will also be expanded. The proposed transaction would allow it to reorganize and focus on its strengths and to expand eCommerce and digital capabilities. A key priority in the next 24 months will be converting as many as two dozen existing stores and finding new sites for its experiential retail concept, first launched in Brossard, QC, in 2018.

Benjamin Moore Opens Texas DC

Paint and coatings manufacturer Benjamin Moore has opened a distribution centre in Lewisville, TX. The 238,000-square-foot facility will accommodate expansion, enhance service, and provide job opportunities. The company previously operated in a 70,000-square-foot distribution centre in Mesquite, TX, that will continue to serve as its manufacturing facility.

Acquisitions Raise Energizer Sales

Energizer Holdings, Inc. had net earnings from continuing operations of $47 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase compared to net earnings of $1.5 million in the same period in 2018. Adjusted net earnings for the quarter were $68.6 million compared to $50.8 million last year. Net sales were up 57.3 per cent to $719 million due partly to distribution gains and benefit of hurricane activity. The impact of the acquisitions resulted in increased sales of $225.6 million, or 49.3 per cent. Gross margin percentage was 40 per cent versus 45.5 per cent in the prior year.

Pet Care Drives Spectrum Sales

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $993 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.9 per cent over net sales of $974.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Gross profit for the quarter was $334.7 million, down 3.5 per cent compared gross profit of $346.9 million in the year-ago period. The company had a net loss of $79 million compared to a net loss of $34.7 million last year and adjusted EBITDA increased 5.2 per cent to $163.1 million compared to last year. Net sales for the hardware and home improvement segment increased 1.1 per cent year-over-year; net sales for the home and personal care segment increased one per cent; net sales for the global pet care segment increased 7.9 per cent; and net sales for the home and garden segment decreased 4.3 per cent.

November 14, 2019

Lowe’s Barred From Calling RONA ‘Truly Canadian’

Lowe’s Cos. Inc., the U.S. owners of the RONA home improvement chain, disagrees with a ruling barring it from using the taglines ‘Truly Canadian’ and ‘Proudly Canadian.’ However, the retail company says it won’t dispute the ruling. A complaint to regulator Ad Standards about the slogans triggered the ruling, which was reaffirmed on appeal. “RONA is not owned and controlled by a ‘truly Canadian’ entity,” says the regulator in its decision. “Council concluded, therefore, that the claim ‘Truly Canadian’ conveyed an inaccurate general impression.” RONA, founded in 1939 in Quebec, was Canadian-owned until Lowe’s, based in North Carolina, bought the retailer in 2016. The American company argued that it should be allowed to continue using the slogans because of the Canadian founders and headquarters and number of Canadian executives.

Northern Ontario Dealer Joins Castle

The Mushkegowuk Development Corporation (MDC), owned by multiple First Nations members of the Mushkegowuk Council in northern Ontario, now owns MDC Supply GP, operating as Great North Builders. This new Castle location, which was once part of the community for over 35 years, is coming back with enhanced vigour under new management and with an expanded product assortment to meet the increased consumer demand for certain products. The business was a long-standing fixture in the community and MDC is looking to build on the legacy that founder Jack Hood left behind when he retired and closed the business approximately one year ago. “When we purchased the business, we knew we wanted to grow our brand and take it to new levels. We had the choice to go in any direction but chose Castle not only for the 35-year history in Moosonee, but because of the outstanding experience and recommendations from the previous owner,” says Albalina Metatawabin, general manager of MDC. The store is currently undergoing renovation and will begin to offer products and services to local customers once complete in late November. A public grand opening celebration is planned for February of the new year.

BMR Group Gets Ontario Member

Richmond, ON-based Richmond Building Centre has joined BMR Group. “Working in a highly competitive environment, I was looking for the right partner to help set me apart from the competition,” says Doug Kazda, store owner. “BMR Group offers a program tailored to my business that enables me to achieve all my goals. In addition to supplying high-quality products, BMR will also meet our high demand for building materials, which is one of their greatest strengths.” Over the next few months, the store’s facade will be transformed to the BMR brand and the store name will change to Richmond BMR.

Calgary Housing Market Remains Vulnerable

Calgary, AB’s housing market remains moderately vulnerable due to evidence of overbuilding, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The city’s inventory of completed and unsold housing units increased in the second quarter, while absorption of new housing units has been slowing compared to 2018, which has contributed to the oversupply. In a report, CMHC says Calgary remains a buyers’ market, with home prices staying in line with market fundamentals. Apartment units continue to make up the largest proportion of overall housing inventory, though the largest increase from the previous quarter was in single-detached units. Calgary’s resale market increased seven per cent compared to the same quarter last year. The report says there is also evidence of overbuilding in Edmonton, AB, Regina and Saskatoon, SK, and Winnipeg, MB.

Continental Sales On The Rise

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $127.4 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.9 per cent compared to net sales of $131.2 million in the prior year quarter. Wallboard sales volumes increased 4.6 per cent to 705 million square feet (MMSF) compared to 674 MMSF in the prior year quarter, primarily attributable to stronger demand. Operating income was down 26.3 per cent to $19.9 million, compared to $27 million in the prior year quarter. Net income decreased $5.1 million or 27.6 per cent to $13.4 million year-over-year. The $5.1 million decrease in net income was primarily a result of the decrease in net sales.

Small Increase In HDI Sales

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $292.5 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 0.7 per cent compared to sales of $290.4 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales in Canada were up 0.6 per cent to $35.2 million. EBITDA was $20.7 million, up five per cent over $19.7 million in the year-ago period. The company had a profit of $8.9 million for the quarter, up 11.2 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit increased 3.3 per cent to $53.3 million while gross profit percentage decreased to 18.2 per cent from 17.8 per cent.

November 13, 2019

September Building Permits Decrease

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 6.5 per cent to $8.3 billion in September, largely due to declines in the residential sector, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in four provinces, with the largest increase in Alberta (7.2 per cent). The largest decline was in Quebec (20.5 per cent), mostly due to a drop in the value of permits for multi-family dwellings. The value of residential building permits was down 10.7 per cent to $5.1 billion in September. Permits for multi-family dwellings fell 12.1 per cent with declines in eight provinces, while Nova Scotia and Alberta reported the sole increases. Permits for single-family dwellings decreased 8.7 per cent largely due to a decrease in Ontario following strong growth in August. Commercial permits rose 6.1 per cent while the value of industrial and institutional permits declined.

Canadian Tire Ready For ‘Whoever Comes At Us’

Canadian Tire Corporation’s (CTC) chief financial officer is welcoming the competition from online retailers like Amazon.com Inc., says Dean McCann, CFO of CTC. In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, he says Walmart is the best thing that ever happened to the company, with Target being the second best thing. “I firmly believe that this change that we’re undergoing right now with a new way of doing business will be the next best thing for Canadian Tire over the next couple years.” He says CTC’s 500 store, Canada-wide network gives the retailer an advantage for ‘last mile’ delivery, which is a costly part of doing business. The versatility in pick-up/delivery options allows the company to better cater to the needs of its customers. “There are things that you want; you need it now. There are things that a customer is willing to wait for … Or you can come to the store, click-and-collect, and pick it up there. We’ll have it ready for you. We’re well-positioned to take on whoever comes at us.” McCann’s comments come in response to Neuberger Berman portfolio manager Steve Eisman’s comment that he bet against CTC stock because he believes it would suffer as a result of competition from Amazon as well as potential weakness in its credit card portfolio.

Amazon To Build First Quebec Fulfillment Centre

Amazon Canada plans to open its first fulfillment centre in Quebec. The site will be located in Lachine on the island of Montreal and will launch in time for the 2020 holiday shopping season. “We're excited about our growth in Montreal, which gives us the opportunity to better serve our customers across Quebec,” says Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada. The facility will allow the online retailer to pick, pack, and ship items ranging from toys and pet products to small electronics.

Mixed Use Materials To Trend For Exteriors

Mixed use materials will be a trend for home exteriors in 2020, says Royal Building Products. Brick and stone will no longer be the main focal point of exteriors; instead, homeowners will blend materials with the rest of the home’s exterior design features to present a dynamic look that isn’t overpowering. Accents to the gable will run in the opposite direction of the siding. Consumers will also add texture in the gable by adding shake. People will incorporate mixed use of sidings and blendings of various sidings – vertical, horizontal, board and batten – in shades of the same colour family. Siding of different widths will be blended to create a rustic look. People will also use different styles of the same siding, such as a blend of shiplap and cedar shingles of a similar colour, so that the texture becomes the main design feature.

Acquisitions Drive CanWel Sales

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenues of $373.2 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.6 per cent over revenues of $350.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales for the distribution segment increased by $24.5 million or 7.3 per cent, largely due to acquisitions and the company’s continuing focus on product mix strategies and target customer base. These improvements in the quarter were partially offset by the impact of construction materials pricing which generally continued on a downward trend until late in the quarter. Gross margin dollars increased three per cent to $52.3 million year-over-year, while gross margin percentage was slightly lower at 14 per cent of revenues versus 14.5 per cent last year. EBITDA was $25 million for the quarter compared to $20.1 million a year ago.

IKEA Canada Sales Grow 6.1 Per Cent

IKEA Canada had sales of $2.53 billion for the fiscal year ending August 31, an increase of 6.1 per cent on the previous year. The home furnishings retailer also reported strong digital engagement with 117.2 million visits to IKEA.ca, representing a 12 per cent increase and contributing to $261.2 million in eCommerce sales. In-store visitation was 31 million customers, an increase of 2.7 per cent.

November 12, 2019

Next Generation Needs Support To Lead Digital Age

Family business next generations (NextGens) view themselves as agents of change for digital transformation, but are looking for greater support and trust from current generation leaders, says a report by PwC. The report says 70 per cent of NextGens are already deeply engaged in family enterprise yet, a significant minority feel they are being held back and frustrated by a lack of opportunity. They are confident in the value they can bring in terms of skills with more than two-thirds agreeing that their strongest attributes (problem-solving and leadership) are essential skills in the future business landscape. Sixty-four per cent say they can add value to ensure future business strategy is fit for the digital age. They are looking for support to develop the expertise and experience they need to succeed. "It's vital to understand the importance of a cross-generational approach. In some family businesses, there may be up to five generations all working together in one company," says Vicki Huff Eckert, U.S. and global leader, PwC New Ventures. "Weaving in the best traits from each generation - knowing when to let the young take the lead and when to rein them in - can make the difference between simply surviving and passing on a thriving enterprise to the next generation."

Toronto, Hamilton Housing Vulnerability Decreases

Toronto and Hamilton, ON, are the latest markets to see a change in their overall degree of housing market vulnerability from high to moderate, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in its 'Housing Market Assessment (HMA).' The change brings the Toronto and Hamilton markets in line with Canada's overall moderate vulnerability rating. Victoria, BC, remains the only major centre with an overall high degree of vulnerability rating. The national housing market's overall vulnerability remains moderate for the third consecutive quarter. This follows 10 consecutive quarters of having been flagged with a high degree of vulnerability. Imbalances between house prices and housing market fundamentals such as income and population have narrowed with prices continuing to adjust and fundamentals catching up. Victoria no longer exhibits evidence of overheating while the overall vulnerability of Vancouver, BC, remains moderate as evidence of overvaluation persists. Edmonton and Calgary, AB; Saskatoon and Regina, SK; and Winnipeg, MB, continue to see a moderate degree of vulnerability in the overall assessment, due to evidence of overbuilding. Ottawa, ON; Montreal and Quebec City, QC; Moncton, NB; Halifax, NS; and St. John's, NL, maintain a low degree of overall vulnerability.

Desjardins Capital Acquires SJM Group Shares

Desjardins Capital has acquired the majority of the shares held in three SJM Group companies - Équipement Boni, Etalex, and Produits de Fil et Métal FormaFil. SJM Group provides solutions for commercial fixtures and heavy-duty storage systems. The transaction will boost synergy among the three entities and is consistent with the expertise of the group's managers, who will continue to oversee operations. With Desjardins Capital as an equity partner, the family business can retain its Quebec ownership while handing management of operations over to SJM Group Management Committee. The transaction will allow SJM Group to continue its development while bringing a promising next generation on board.

Masco Completes Business Divesture

Masco Corporation has completed the sale of its Milgard Windows and Doors division to MI Windows and Doors LLC for approximately $725 million. Masco announced the plan to divest its cabinetry and windows businesses in June and found a buyer – MI Windows and Doors – in October. It has not yet announced any buyers for its cabinetry business.

DEWALT Enhances Three Original FLEXVOLT Tools

DEWALT has made upgrades to three products that were part of the original DEWALT FLEXVOLT System, debuted in 2016. The 60V MAX FLEXVOLT 7¼-inch Circular Saw (DCS578), 60V MAX FLEXVOLT 4½- to 6-inch Grinder (DCG418), and 60V MAX FLEXVOLT Reciprocating Saw (DCS389) each offer increased power versus their predecessors. The upgrades mean that the circular saw is up to 47 per cent more powerful than its predecessor, the grinder is up to 30 per cent more powerful, and the reciprocating saw is up to 19 per cent more powerful. Each of these tools achieves this increase in performance via new motors, new software, and new controls. In addition, they will be available as a kit with a 9.0Ah battery. The original FLEXVOLT tools were kitted with a 6.0Ah battery.

AEP Has Gains

Atlas Engineered Products Ltd. had revenue of $10.5 million for the third quarter of 2019, up 106 per cent from $5.1 million in the third quarter 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $735,736 compared to an operating loss of $8,050 in the prior year period. Net income was $531,710. The improvements are due to integration activities such as consolidated raw material supply, improved manufacturing efficiency, productivity gains, and lower cost of sales, says the company.

November 11, 2019

October Canadian Housing Starts Trend Lower

The trend in housing starts decreased in October to 218,598 units; this compares to 223,276 units in September, 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. Multi-family starts in urban centres trended lower following four months of consecutive gains, offsetting a modest increase in the trend of urban single-detached starts in October. The Vancouver, BC, and Toronto, ON, census metropolitan areas (CMAs) trended lower compared to last month. The Edmonton, AB; Regina, SK, and Gatineau and Sherbrooke, QC, CMAs trended higher. Prince Edward Island housing starts were up 146 per cent year-over-year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 201,973 units in October, down 8.7 per cent from 221,135 units in September. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by nine per cent, multiple urban starts decreased by 12.5 per cent, and single-detached urban starts increased by 2.4 per cent.

TIMBER MART Honours World War II Vets

TIMBER MART commercial members from across Canada visited the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy, France

TIMBER MART commercial members from across Canada visited the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, this fall to honour the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War. The group toured the site on September 24 where more than 14,000 Canadian troops landed on D-Day (June 6, 1944) to liberate France from Nazi control. To commemorate their visit, the group not only made a donation to the centre, but will also have a commemorative brick produced in the spring that will be placed on the beach at the Juno Beach Centre’s memorial kiosks. “Touring such a significant historical site was a humbling experience for us all as Canadians,” says Bernie Owens, president and CEO of TIMBER MART (pictured). “We are so proud of our fallen heroes and grateful for their sacrifice, for it is because of them that we are able to live so freely in this beautiful nation we call home.”

RONA La Crete Building Centre Opens Its Doors

Lowe’s Canada joined dealer-owners Andrew Zacharias and Andrew Neustaeter and their team to celebrate the grand opening of RONA La Crete Building Centre on November 8. Located in La Crete, AB, the store has been displaying the RONA banner since January. For the last 10 months, the owners have renovated the store, tripled the size of the sales floor, and added hundreds of new products. They also hired five additional employees to better serve their community. The 20,000-square-foot store features new product categories such as appliances and seasonal products and a wider selection of products for existing categories that now include brands like Craftsman.

BMR Group Trade Show Launched Products And Services

‘Close-knit and connected’ was the theme for the ‘2019 BMR Group Trade Show’ that ran from November 6 to 8 in Québec City, QC. Dealers were able to learn about new products with four new private brands launched to modernize and strengthen their product offering. They are Botaflora (horticulture), Splendi (high-end products), Fixel (low-end products), and Architek (finishing building materials). These brands will appear in stores in 2020. The show also featured a marketing exhibit that provided information and services to help dealers improve their in-store customer experience. BMR introduced the no-cost Imagine Program as well as a number of planograms promoting products such as a line of zero-waste products, Amazon Alexa products, and Firman generators. BMR also launched the ‘BMR Independent Dealers’ section of La Coop fédérée which offers dealers membership and year-end rebates.

Credit Card Fees To Drop For Small Business

Some of the fees merchants pay on credit card transactions will go down from 1.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent, on average, starting in April as a result of an agreement reached by the federal government with Visa and Mastercard last year. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it is pleased by this latest victory for small business but warns independent merchants to protect themselves from misinformation and unfair contracts. In addition, the federal government has promised to eliminate processing fees on HST and GST for credit card transactions, a move estimated to save merchants nearly $500 million per year in fees. While these announcements are very good news, CFIB warns small business owners to be vigilant to ensure the savings are passed along to them. CFIB also says it has started to receive complaints about new credit card processing fees. In particular, Mastercard is introducing a new fee on returns/refunds and pre-authorizations. And while interchange rates for in-store Mastercard transactions are expected to see a meaningful reduction (up to 29 per cent), eCommerce businesses may see increases in the fees they have to pay for some categories of cards.

October Dodge Momentum Index Moves Higher

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 6.9 per cent in October to 152.6 from the revised September reading of 142.7. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, 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. October’s increase was due entirely to a recovery in institutional planning projects, which had stepped back over the previous few months. Institutional planning moved 22.8 per cent higher in the month while commercial planning lost 0.5 per cent. Despite the October increase, institutional projects entering planning remain 4.3 per cent lower on a year-over-year basis compared to October 2018. Commercial projects meanwhile are 14.3 per cent higher than October 2018. The overall index is 6.7 per cent higher than a year ago, although its level remains below the July 2018 peak.

Louisiana-Pacific Sales Dip

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had net sales of $603 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease from net sales of $737 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income was $2 million compared to $124 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $49 million compared to $193 million. Declines in OSB pricing in all North American operations had a negative impact on results. The siding segment had sales of $259 million compared to $241 million last year; the oriented strand board (OSB) segment had sales of $197 million compared to $349 million; and the engineered wood products (EWP) segment had net sales of $105 million compared to $110 million.

November 8, 2019

Consumers Want Digital Benefits

Consumers want the digital benefits of personalization via suggested selling, customized offers, and self-checkout/self-scanning for the times when they do not feel the need to engage, says BRP’s ‘Special Report: The Future of Retail.’ When retailers can combine the digital and physical environments such as offering proximity-triggered mobile coupons or self-checkout through a mobile app, customers reward retailers with their loyalty to the brand. Moving towards the future of retail, these retailer nice-to-haves will become table-stakes. The report says 55 per cent of consumers are likely to choose a retailer that offers self-checkout and they are willing to try new technology if it improves the in-store experience. The physical store is not dying and enhancing the customer experience continues to be critical for retail success. Consumers love the theatre of shopping, which is why many pure-play online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional store concepts continue to transform. The in-store experience is paramount for apparel and other products that consumers want to touch, feel, demo, or try on.

Supply Down In GTA Housing

There were 8,491 residential home sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in October, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This represents a 14 per cent increase compared to 7,448 sales reported in October 2018. GTA-wide, sales were up on a year-over-year basis for all major home types. While demand is strong, supply of available listings is dropping, resulting in tighter market conditions and accelerating price growth. New listings were down by 9.6 per cent compared to last year.

IKEA Canada To Launch ‘New City Centre’ Concepts

IKEA Canada plans to expand and introduce concepts to its Toronto, ON, city centre store. This is the first market in Canada where the retailer is introducing its ‘new city centre’ approach, which includes becoming more accessible through IKEA meeting places in the core, creating new experiences in existing stores, developing a more affordable and convenient service offer, and enhancing digital solutions. With final concepts and locations still to be determined, the city growth plan will be inspired by how Torontonians live at home and developed based on decades of experience in the market. “The ‘new city’ approach will complement our existing stores in the market, enabling customers to shop seamlessly across all touchpoints, based on their individual needs and preferences,” says Michael Ward, CEO and chief sustainability officer. Looking forward, IKEA will continue to explore new shopping formats, digital solutions, and ways to experience with IKEA, all with the goal to be the leading multichannel home furnishings retailer.

Residential Sector To Drive Garden Pot Demand

The global gardening pots market size is expected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2025, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research. The residential sector is expected to register the fastest CAGR of six per cent from 2019 to 2025. A growing trend of the adoption of gardening among Millennials is expected to remain one of the key drivers of this growth. The trend shows that even though growing population and rapid urbanization is reducing the living space, gardening enthusiasts have been working towards continuing their interest by creating small gardening pots in balconies and kitchens. Growing interest in planting flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs in various sized containers and pots is another key factor driving the market. By product, refractory material accounted for the largest share of over 40 per cent in 2018. Polymer is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 6.4 per cent from 2019 to 2025. The commercial application segment is expected to generate US$1.4 billion by 2025 owing to growing trend of creating gardens around the public buildings.

IPEX Acquires Silver-Line Plastics

Thermoplastic piping system manufacturer IPEX has acquired Silver-Line Plastics. Silver-Line Plastics is a U.S. manufacturer of plastic pipe products with three production facilities. With this acquisition, IPEX will increase its market position in the U.S. with an expanded product portfolio serving a broader client base. IPEX is part of Aliaxis, a manufacturer and distributor of advanced plastic piping systems.

Residential Segment Leads Generac Sales

Power equipment manufacturer Generac Holdings Inc. had net sales of $601.1 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.9 per cent compared to net sales of $562.4 million in the third quarter of 2018. Cores sales growth was approximately seven per cent. Residential product sales increased 7.4 per cent year-over-year and commercial and industrial sales increased 4.1 per cent. Overall net income was $75.6 million for the quarter, in line with $75.8 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $126 million, or 21 per cent of net sales, as compared to $124.5 million, or 22.1 per cent of net sales last year.

Sales Decrease For Masonite

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $552 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent over sales of $557 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $15 million compared to $25 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $76 million versus $71 million. North American residential net sales increased two per cent year-over-year and architectural net sales increased five per cent. Total company gross profit increased 13 per cent to $126 million and gross profit margin increased 280 basis points to 22.7 per cent.

November 7, 2019

Social Responsibility Drives Second-hand Economy

Four out of five Canadians participated in the second-hand economy in 2018, fueling a $27.3 billion second-hand economy that has grown in size annually since 2015, says the fifth annual 'Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index.' It says a major driving force behind the growth is a shift in consumer motivations towards "community-minded commerce," with Canadians increasingly driven by the altruistic and ecological benefits of exchanging used items. While financial motivations for buying and selling second-hand continue to be the leading reasons for participation in the second-hand economy, they have shrunk by four per cent over the past five years. At the same time, there has been a six per cent increase in disposal driven by altruism with consumers aiming to have a positive impact on their fellow citizens, the community, and society as a whole. Ecological motivations are also becoming more important reflecting a national focus on protecting the planet and reducing waste. In 2018 alone, Canadians gave 2.4 billion items a second life - 250 million more items than in 2014. The rate of second-hand acquisitions has grown 14 per cent since 2014.

Giant Tiger Opens Two Ontario Locations

Giant Tiger has opened stores in Windsor and Brampton, ON. The Windsor store offers 17,558 square feet of retail space and the Brampton store offers 17,793 square feet. The stores are stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities. The privately-held company has over 250 locations across Canada which are locally owned or operated.

Leviton Acquires Canadian Lighting Manufacturer

Lighting and control solutions provider Leviton has acquired Viscor, a Canadian independent lighting manufacturer that specializes in lighting for architectural, commercial, medical, institutional, and industrial applications. The acquisition supports Leviton's commitment to strategically expand its lighting and controls product offering. Established in 1952, Viscor is a family-owned company that manufactures more than 150 product families. "By adding Viscor to the Leviton family, we will be able to provide a much deeper portfolio of lighting options for our customers. Equally important, Viscor's product portfolio will be further enhanced with access to our wide variety of innovative lighting control options," says Daryoush Larizadeh, president and chief operating officer of Leviton.

Spectrum Sells HQ To Investment Firm

Real estate investment firm Harbor Group International, LLC (HGI) has acquired the headquarters of Spectrum Brands. The single-tenant office building, located in Middleton, WI, is a four-story property built in 2013 and spans 252,122 rentable square feet. The investment is part of HGI's strategic goal to geographically diversify its portfolio into underserved or mispriced markets. The property is fully leased to Spectrum Brands, Inc. through 2034.

HMS To Open AR Facility

Michigan-based HMS Manufacturing Company will open a 550,000-square-foot injection moulding facility in Arkansas. The housewares and home organization product manufacturer will spend $20 million on the facility that should start production in summer of next year. Among the HMS brands are Hefty and Home Logic.

Pier 1 Fills Top Jobs

Robert Riesbeck is chief executive officer of Pier 1 Imports, Inc.; he will also continue to serve as chief financial officer. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in retail and consumer goods, including as CFO of FULLBEAUTY Brands. Donna Colaco is president. She served as executive vice-president and chief customer officer since 2018.

Commodity Prices Affect Builders FirstSource Sales

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $2 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 6.5 per cent compared to net sales of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was partly attributable to declining lumber and lumber sheet goods sales due to the deflation in commodity prices. Sales volume per day in the single-family end market grew by an estimated 9.3 per cent, repair and remodel/other by 10.7 per cent, and multi-family by 5.8 per cent. Estimated sales volume also increased in all product categories.

November 6, 2019

October Vancouver Home Sales Soar

Residential real estate recovery in Metro Vancouver, BC, continued apace in October, with home sales soaring 45.4 per cent higher than the same month last year, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential resale transactions in the region totaled 2,858 in October, which is the highest number of homes sold in a single month so far this year. As well as the year-over-year jump, this total is 22.5 per cent higher than the 2,333 homes sold in September this year and 9.8 per cent above the 10-year sales average for October. "Home buyers have more confidence today than we saw in the first half of the year," said Ashley Smith, president of REBGV. "With prices edging down over the last year and interest rates remaining low, hopeful buyers are becoming more active this fall." As more home inventory was absorbed by a more active market, the number of available listings declined - exacerbated by fewer sellers listing their homes for sale in October. There were 4,074 homes listed for sale, which is down 16.4 per cent compared to the 4,873 homes listed in October 2018 and down 16.3 per cent decrease compared to September 2019 when 4,866 homes were listed. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio is 23.4 per cent, which is moving back towards a seller's market.

Strong Growth Forecast For Structural Insulated Panels Market

The global structural insulated panels market size is expected to reach US$640.4 million by 2025, progressing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Structural insulated panels are manufactured by sandwiching foaming materials with siding panels so they provide superior insulation properties. This, in addition with other properties such as high resistance value, strength, and durability, is expected to drive industry growth over the projected period. Rising demand for modern construction techniques to build energy-efficient construction units is expected to drive the product demand. As well, increasing consumer awareness about the benefits of structural insulated panels coupled with positive government outlook to support green construction activities is likely to propel product demand. Product demand in walls and floors applications is expected to register a CAGR of 4.9 per cent over the forecast period owing to increasing single-family and multi-family residential construction. North America was the largest market for structural insulated panels in 2018, accounting for 39 per cent of the market revenue share.

2020 U.S. Construction Starts Forecast To Slip Back

Total U.S. construction starts will slip to $776 billion in 2020, a decline of four per cent from the 2019 estimated level of activity, says the '2020 Dodge Construction Outlook' by Dodge Data & Analytics. The dollar value of single family housing starts will be down three per cent in 2020 and the number of units will also lose five per cent to 765,000. Affordability issues and the tight supply of entry level homes have kept demand for homes muted and buyers on the sidelines. Multi-family construction was an early leader in the recovery, stringing together eight years of growth since 2009. However, multi-family vacancy rates have moved sideways over the past year, suggesting that slower economic growth will weigh on the market next year. Multi-family starts are slated to drop 13 per cent in dollars and 15 per cent in units. The dollar value of commercial building starts will retreat six per cent in 2020, while institutional construction starts will essentially remain even with the 2019 level.

Hydro-Québec To Manufacture Smart Home Devices

Hydro-Québec's subsidiary Hilo and Québec-based Stelpro are creating a joint venture with a mandate to develop connected devices for smart homes that will contribute to efficient energy use. The joint venture will develop products designed to manage energy use, such as smart thermostats, and provide them to both partners. The equipment will be designed in Québec and manufactured in a Stelpro Group plant in Shawinigan, QC. Stelpro manufacturers and assembles Maestro smart thermostats and has a network of distribution partners.

Roseburg Opens South Carolina Wood Plant

Roseburg Forest Products has opened an engineered wood plant in Chester, SC. The company says the plant is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturing facilities of its kind and features the highest-capacity press in the world. The project was first announced in early 2017 and the construction team broke ground later that same year. The company did extensive research prior to choosing a location for the new plant, with criteria including market demand, raw materials availability and cost, and business climate. The facility will produce laminated veneer lumber (LVL) headers and beams used in residential and commercial construction.

Cordona Joins SFA SANIFLO

Teresa Cardona is marketing and communications manager for North America with SFA SANIFLO. Previously, she was marketing and social media manager for Aramark.

Acadian Timber Sales Down

Acadian Timber Corp. had net sales of $26.6 million in the third quarter of 2019, a decrease versus net sales of $27.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $5.9 million compared to $9.7 million while adjusted EBITDA was $6.1 million compared to $6.7 million. Net sales in the New Brunswick timberlands segment were flat, while net sales for the Maine timberlands segment decreased from $6.6 million to $6.5 million year-over-year.

Newell Brands Reduces Net Loss

Newell Brands' net sales were $2.45 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 3.8 per cent decline compared to the net sales of $2.55 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely attributable to the impact of foreign exchange and a 2.5 per cent decline in core sales. Gross margin was 33.1 per cent for the quarter compared with 35.9 per cent in the prior-year period. The company had a net loss of $626 million, an increase of 91.4 per cent compared to a net loss of $7.3 billion last year. The home and outdoor living segment sales increased 1.3 per cent; the learning and development segment sales decreased 3.7 per cent; the appliances and cookware segment sales decreased 3.7 per cent; and the food and commercial segment sales declined 11.3 per cent year-over-year.

November 5, 2019

Canadians Planning To Reduce Holiday Spending

In advance of Black Friday, more than half of Canadians (55 per cent) say they will be spending less on holiday gifts this year, says a survey by Equifax Canada. This comes following its ‘Q2 Consumer Credit Trends Report,’ which showed total debt per consumer rose by 1.9 per cent at the end of the second quarter in 2019. The survey says women are more likely to spend significantly less at 61 per cent versus 48 per cent of men. Canadians under the age of 55 are significantly more likely to limit their spending because they are already carrying too much debt and they have a lot of anxiety about it. Shoppers between 35 and 44 have the most concern about current debt levels (58 per cent compared to 46 per cent for the general population) and the most anxiety (49 per cent compared to 39 per cent for the general population). The majority of people surveyed, however, are working towards being financially fit for the holidays with 58 per cent of them planning to prepare a holiday budget.

U.S. Manufacturers Showing Faster Output

The U.S. manufacturing sector saw a further modest improvement in operating conditions in October, supported by faster expansions in output and new business, says the IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Rates of growth in both production and new orders accelerated to six-month highs. Subsequently, employment rose at the quickest pace since May and business confidence picked up to a four-month high. Meanwhile, rates of input price and output charge inflation softened and remained subdued, with selling prices broadly unchanged during the month. The seasonally adjusted U.S. PMI posted 51.3 in October, up slightly from 51.1 in September. The latest headline figure was the highest since April, but remained consistent with only a modest improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector. The overall rate of growth remained well below the long-run series average.

Lowe’s Banners Now Offer MultiVolt Solution

Lowe’s Canada has partnered with Metabo HPT, formerly known as Hitachi, to offer contractors, home builders, trade workers, and heavy DIYers tools equipped with its MultiVolt solution. Now available in Canada in-store and online at Lowe’s, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada, this power tool platform makes it possible to switch from a corded to a cordless power source, without losing any efficiency. The Metabo HPT MultiVolt assortment includes saws, grinders, wrenches, hammers, and drills. 

IKEA Canada Launches Family Loyalty Program

IKEA Canada has rolled-out its IKEA Family loyalty program to markets nationwide. The reimagined program is fully digital from online sign-up to a digital card and offers benefits both in-store and online. These include a free hot drink at the IKEA Restaurant, member-only discounts, home furnishings inspiration via workshops, and exclusive shopping events. IKEA Family is also the hub for the retailer's Sell-Back program, enabling customers to apply to sell their gently-used IKEA products back, in exchange for store credit. The sustainable service gives used products a second-life and has seen more than 25,000 submissions since launching earlier this year. The company will continue to evolve the loyalty program as more benefits, rewards, and engagement opportunities are added over time based on customer interaction and feedback.

Clorox Sales Down Four Per Cent

The Clorox Company had net sales of $1.5 billion for the first quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, down four per cent over net sales of $1.56 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Net sales decreased two per cent in the cleaning segment, decreased 14 per cent in the household segment, and increased four per cent in the lifestyle segment. Gross margin for the quarter increased by 60 basis points to 44 per cent from 43.4 per cent in the year-ago quarter. Earnings for the quarter were $203 million, a two per cent decrease over earnings of $210 million in the year-ago period.

Architectural Products Lead Masco Sales Increase

Masco Corporation had net sales of $1.95 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of two per cent over sales of $1.9 in the third quarter of 2018. In local currency, sales increased three per cent year-over-year. Plumbing products had a sales decrease of one per cent year-over-year, decorative architectural products had a sales increase of four per cent; and cabinetry products had a sales decrease of one per cent. Operating profit for the quarter was $316 million, up 10 per cent over operating profit of $286 million last year. The company had net income of $126 million for the quarter, down from net income of $180 million in the year-ago period.

November 4, 2019

Manufacturers Optimistic About Growth

October data signalled a modest improvement in business conditions across the Canadian manufacturing sector, driven by a sustained rebound in output and new business levels, says the IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). The index was 51.2 in October, up from a, seasonally adjusted 51 in September. This is above the crucial 50 no-change value for the second month running. The reading is the highest since February, but signalled only a marginal improvement in overall operating conditions. Faster rates of output and new order growth boosted the headline PMI in October, more than offsetting a slightly weaker contribution from the employment component. Input cost inflation accelerated from the seven-year low seen during September. Manufacturers often commented on higher commodity prices in the latest survey period. Factory gate charges nonetheless increased only slightly, with some firms noting that subdued business conditions had held back their pricing power. Looking ahead, manufacturers in Canada are optimistic overall about their prospects for growth during the next 12 months.

Lowe’s Launches Merchandising Program

Lowe’s Canada has introduced a merchandising program into its Lowe’s stores across Canada. The Merchandising Service Team (MST) was developed to ensure a steady pace in maintaining merchandising programs in the stores so they are ‘grand opening ready’ at all times. The teams comprise five to seven store associates who are exclusively trained and focused on merchandising tasks. They are responsible for executing resets and to ‘snake through the store’ to carry out bay servicing according to a precise sequence and schedule that covers the entire store. They must ensure that planograms are properly executed, labels are accurate, and product displays are maintained. They will readjust elevations, reposition products, and provide feedback to management on the merchandising strategies. The stores originally had smaller MSTs; the new system has built upon that program to ensure merchandising execution is consistent and rigorous across all stores. The MST program also benefits vendors because it increases the retailer’s speed to market and all bays and products are serviced regularly resulting in improved quality of merchandising. As well, the teams make sure the store is more attractive and the overall customer experience is enhanced.

The Wooster Brush Company Rebrands

The Wooster Brush Company is undertaking a major rebranding effort throughout 2020 which will include new logo and changes to all packaging and point-of-purchasing (POP) materials. The company says the new look refreshes its brand, offering a cohesive strategy at retail across all channels. The campaign launching to announce these elements is ‘Same Great Product, Bold New Look.’ “We were seeking ways to better tell our story,” says Ben Maibach, vice-president of sales. “We want people to instantly recognize Wooster products and to also understand why to choose Wooster over everyone else — for quality, performance, and results. We believe this new look achieves just that.” The new design features red — the company's primary colour. Newly established icons communicate the key features and benefits of each product. Most notably, the new Wooster logo incorporates a paintbrush into the mark, evoking heritage of the world's first angle sash brush which was introduced by Wooster in 1937. The rebranded products will begin shipping in January 2020.

Investors Support La Coop fédérée

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Fondaction, and Desjardins Capital will invest $300 million in La Coop fédérée, parent company of Group BMR. The proceeds of capital injection will be used to finance the capital acquisition and capital investment projects of La Coop fédérée and its divisions based on the company’s 2019-2022 strategic goals. La Coop fédérée is a Quebec-based agri-food company.

First Alert Launches Fire Spray

Home safety company First Alert has launched a spray can fire spray. First Alert Fire Spray was developed for consumers wanting a product that is easier to handle than traditional fire extinguishers during an emergency. The spray can design covers a wide surface area and contains a liquid firefighting agent that is effective on common household fires including paper, fabric, wood, cooking oil, and electrical fires. Designed specifically for developing fires, the point-and-spray technology means there are no pins to pull or levers to squeeze. The product is designed for one-time use and the patented discharge technology features an internal pouch that isolates the contents from the pressure. When the spray nozzle is pressed, only the contents are released and the propellant stays inside the can so that the fire is not agitated.

Softening Market Hurts Huttig Sales

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $215.7 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.8 per cent compared to net sales of $222 million in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was primarily attributed to a modest softening in certain market segments and a competitive pricing environment, particularly among commodity products. Millwork product sales decreased five per cent in the quarter compared to last year; building products sales increased 3.6 per cent; and wood product sales decreased 22.7 per cent. The company had gross margin of $44.7 million in the quarter compared to $44.6 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $5.3 million versus $5.5 million last year.

Sales Rise At Simpson Manufacturing

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had consolidated net sales of $309.9 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 9.1 per cent from net sales of $284.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. North American sales increased 10.7 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $137.6 million for the quarter, up 2.8 per cent over gross profit of $133.9 million in the year-ago period. North American gross margin decreased to 45.6 per cent from 48.8 per cent last year, primarily due to increases in material, factory, overhead, and labour costs. Overall income from operations was $61 million, an increase of 2.2 per cent from $59.7 million last year. Consolidated net income was $43.7 million compared to $44.4 million.

November 1, 2019

Cash Payments Continue Decline

Cash payments continue to decline in favour of digital payment types, says the annual ‘Payments Pulse Survey: Small Business Edition’ from Payments Canada. The survey says nearly 80 per cent of small businesses are conducting fewer than 25 per cent of their transactions in cash, compared to 65 per cent in 2018. The year-over-year jump signals that cash is continuing to lose ground as a preferred method of payment as consumers increasingly choose alternative payment options. However, despite this decrease in the number of cash transactions, most (71 per cent) small businesses still feel an obligation to continue accepting cash as a method of payment and more than half (61 per cent) consider accepting cash as a key to their success. Businesses say the most efficient forms of payment methods to process are non-cash transactions, including eTransfers (27 per cent), cheque (17 per cent), credit card (19 per cent), automated funds transfer/direct deposit (14 per cent), and debit (six per cent). As well, 68 per cent of small businesses could be encouraged to adopt digital payments within their business, particularly if they have a clear return on investment (36 per cent).

Castle Launches Hockey Giveaway

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has launched its ‘Canadian Hockey Giveaway’ with a prize of two tickets to the Canadian 2020 NHL game of the winner’s choice. Contestants must follow Castle on Instagram and tag three friends to be entered into the draw. The contest is open from November 1 to 30 and the winner will be selected on December 2. Visit Castle’s Instagram page

HDI Completes Pacific Mutual Door Acquisition

Building products distributor Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) has completed its previously announced acquisition of Pacific Mutual Door Company. “This strategic acquisition brings with it a highly profitable business model and increases our existing presence in the attractive door and related millwork product category,” says Rob Brown, president and CEO of HDI.

ADP Launches Payroll Platform

ADP Canada has launched its ‘Workforce Now On the Go’ platform to help small business owners run payroll and manage time on their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. The platform enables business owners to generate key insights into earnings, deductions, and taxable benefits to verify payroll. Employee hours and payroll data at both the company and employee level can also be viewed using the solution’s summary dashboard.

All Segments Down At Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser Company had net sales of $1.7 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over net sales of $1.9 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Net earnings for the quarter were $99 million compared to $255 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $308 million versus $505 million. The timberlands segment had sales of $523 million for the third quarter, down from $532 million in the second quarter. The real estate, energy, and natural resources segment had net sales of $69 million compared to $81 million in the second quarter. Wood products had net sales of $1.2 billion compared to $1.3 billion.

Ingersoll-Rand Has Increase

Ingersoll-Rand plc had net revenues of $4.34 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an eight per cent increase over net revenues of $4.03 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $623 million with an operating margin of 14.3 per cent, up six per cent and down 30 basis points, respectively, over operating income of $587 million with an operating margin of 14.6 per cent last year. The climate segment had a seven per cent increase in revenues and the industrial segment had a 10 per cent increase in revenues. Revenue was strong in both commercial and residential HVAC.

October 31, 2019

BoC Maintains Overnight Rate

The Bank of Canada (BoC) maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1¾ per cent. The bank rate is correspondingly two per cent and the deposit rate is 1½ per cent. The BoC kept the rate static due to the state of the global economy which further weakened as ongoing trade conflicts are restraining business investment, trade, and global growth. Growth in Canada is expected to slow in the second half of this year to a rate below its potential, says the BoC. This reflects the uncertainty associated with trade conflicts, continuing adjustment in the energy sector, and the unwinding of temporary factors that boosted growth in the second quarter. Business investment and exports are likely to contract before expanding again in 2020 and 2021. At the same time, government spending and lower borrowing rates are supporting domestic demand and activity in the services sector remains robust. Employment is showing continuing strength and wage growth is picking up, although with some variation among regions. Consumer spending has been choppy, but will be supported by solid income growth. Meanwhile, housing activity is picking up in most markets. The BoC continues to monitor the evolution of financial vulnerabilities in light of lower mortgage rates and past changes to housing market policies.

Canfor To Go Private

Canfor Corporation has decided to become a privately-held company. The Vancouver, BC-based forest products company has entered into an arrangement agreement with Great Pacific Capital Corp., based on the recommendation of an independent committee of Canfor’s board of directors. Great Pacific Capital is a bank holding company for the Jim Pattison Group, also based in Vancouver. Under the terms of the agreement, Great Pacific, which along with its affiliates owns approximately 51 per cent of the issued and outstanding common shares of Canfor, will acquire all of the Canfor shares it does not already own by way of a statutory plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia). The companies plan to hold a meeting in December to consider the transaction. The transaction is subject to shareholder and court approval. Canfor shares will be cancelled from trading on the TSX following closing of the transaction, which is expected to be before year-end.

Value, Performance Drivers For Coating Products

Demand for protective coatings and sealers is projected to increase 5.1 per cent per year to $25.2 billion in 2023, says the ‘Global Construction Chemicals’ study by Freedonia Group. Growth will be boosted by ongoing gains in construction activity globally, as well as increasing demand for higher value, better performing products with improved functionality. Demand for products manufactured with more environmentally friendly solvents and low or no VOCs in order to improve indoor air quality will also drive demand as will the continued trend for sustainability. Products that are easy to apply, dry quickly, and last longer will lead in market share. Innovation such as self-cleaning and biocidal products will help maintain growth in this market.

National Gift Card Rebrands As NGC

National Gift Card, a provider of automated prepaid technology, has rebranded as NGC. The Chicago, IL-based company serves the B2C and B2B gift card marketplace by sourcing, delivering, and managing over 500 physical and digital retail brands across North America for the loyalty, consumer reward, healthcare, financial, and insurance industries in Canada and the U.S. With over half of its card activations coming from its eGift portfolio, NGC anchored the new branding on its digital technology expansion which powers its proprietary gift card ordering portal, gift card API platform, mobile fundraising program, and B2C and B2B eCommerce websites and mobile apps for merchants. When the company acquired Benefit Mobile in 2018, it added an array of branded currency service solutions, such as gifting and self-use features, 'shop & earn' integrations for loyalty programs, mobile wallet integration, and gift card malls. Additionally, the company will launch a state-of-the-art gift card API service in early 2020.

Schneider Electric Launches Electricity Monitoring System

Schneider Electric has launched Wiser Energy, an integrated monitoring system for residential homes. The internet-connected device tracks and monitors energy activity and use to provide real-time, easy-to-understand data so homeowners can make their homes greener and more efficient – all through a mobile app. The product will help Canadians identify extra electricity consumption, understand how much electricity is being used, and remotely monitor appliances. The unit connects to a residential electrical panel and Wi-Fi network. Over time, the system learns about a home to identify appliances and energy use patterns. The app can help homeowners determine how they can change their habits to use energy smarter. The system can also provide instant customizable alert notifications.

Trex Sales Up 17 Per Cent

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $195 million for the third quarter of 2019, up 17 per cent over net sales of $166 million in the third quarter of 2018. Trex Residential Products net sales increased 24 per cent to $183 million and Trex Commercial Products contributed $12 million to consolidated third quarter sales. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 42.4 per cent, representing gross margins from Trex Residential Products and Trex Commercial Products of 43.4 per cent and 26.5 per cent, respectively. Net income for the quarter was $42 million, up 42 per cent over net income of $29 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $82 million compared to $67 million.

Lower Pricing Reduces Dow Sales Results

Dow had net sales of $10.8 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 10 per cent over net sales of $12.7 billion in the third quarter of 2018, driven primarily by lower energy prices. Operating EBIT was $1.2 billion for the quarter with EBIT margin of 10.4 per cent compared to $1.6 billion and 12.7 per cent. The packaging and specialty plastics segment had net sales of $5.1 billion versus $6.2 billion in the year-ago period. The performance materials and coatings segment had net sales of $2.3 billion versus $2.6 billion last year. Volume growth for the segment in Asia Pacific and the U.S. and Canada was more than offset by local price declines in all geographic regions.

October 30, 2019

GTA New Home Market Continues Recovery

Single-family home sales, with 954 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA), were up 283 per cent from last September and just five per cent below the 10-year average, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were a total of 3,061 new home sales for the month, up 73 per cent from September 2018 and six per cent above the 10-year average. Condominium apartments in low, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 2,107 new home sales, up 39 per cent from September 2018 and 12 per cent above the 10-year average. With a number of new projects coming to market, remaining inventory increased from the previous month to 18,745 units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings. BILD says the degree of improvement in both new home sales and new project openings this year has been contained, however, and there are no signs of overheating in the market.

Consumers Want To Be Understood During Holidays

Consumers want to be understood by brands, especially during a hectic shopping period like the holiday season. Specifically, 75 per cent of consumers wish retailers better understood their preferences and used that insight to send personalized offers, says research from customer data and engagement technology provider RedPoint Global. Personalization is also proven to drive purchases. Nearly 60 per cent of consumers are more likely to purchase from retailers who send them personalized content and offers. Shoppers have higher expectations for brands when they are members/subscribers. Of consumers that are loyalty members, 74 per cent expect brands to understand their needs and expectations better than other retailers where they are not a member. Getting to know consumers pays off, however. Over a third of consumers remain loyal to their ‘go-to’ brands for holiday shopping. This group say they exclusively purchase from retailers that they have shopped with in the past.

Amazon Canada Offers Business Services

Amazon Canada is now offering its Amazon Business and Business Prime across the country. Companies of all sizes can use the platforms to manage procurement and purchase supplies where Amazon Business is available. Selling partners have the opportunity to grow their businesses by reaching customers across nine countries. Amazon Business features offers, pricing, and quantity discounts, as well as tax exemption, for qualifying purchases. Selling partners also benefit from Amazon's eCommerce expertise, gain visibility of their full product catalogue on an established online store and have greater access to business customer decision-makers to help grow sales. Business Prime is an annual membership program designed for Amazon Business customers and features premium delivery services on their business account. Amazon Business is now live in Canada, the U.S., Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India.

DEWALT Relaunches ToughSystem

DEWALT has launched the ToughSystem 2.0 Radio & Charger, the first product in an upcoming relaunch of the original ToughSystem product line, first announced in 2011. More information will be available on the rest of the line in early 2020. The radio features dynamic range control that gives users the optimal sound for indoor or outdoor use, via selectable settings. It incorporates four integrated, high-performance full-range speakers, an active subwoofer, and passive bass resonator, all driven by a 55W RMS amplifier to provide audio clarity. Compatible with all existing ToughSystem and future ToughSystem 2.0 modular storage solutions, the radio interface is intuitive and with robust stacking and locking side latches, it’s easy to assemble and disassemble. Integrated Bluetooth connectivity enables the radio and music from mobile devices to be controlled remotely via the DEWALT Sound Systems mobile app. A 2.1A USB port is included on the radio for mobile device charging while a large compartment on top provides storage and protection for a battery, phone, and the included AC power cable.

Architectural Segment Drives AWI Sales

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI) had net sales of $277.1 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of six per cent over net sales of $260.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales were driven by higher volumes in the architectural specialties segment and higher mineral fibre average unit value (AUV). Operating income for the quarter was $113.3 million, up 39 per cent over operating income of $81.3 million in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations were $90.7 million compared to $64.2 million, up 41.3 per cent. EBITDA was up 13.4 per cent for the quarter to $114 million and net income was up 14.8 per cent to $68 million. The architectural specialties segment EBITDA was up 18.1 per cent year-over-year and the mineral fibre segment EBITDA was up 12.7 per cent.

3M Sales Decline

3M had sales of $8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, down two per cent over sales of $8.2 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Total sales grew 4.7 per cent in the healthcare segment and 1.7 per cent in consumer, with declines of 4.4 per cent in transportation and electronics and 5.7 per cent in safety and industrial. Sales in Canada grew 0.6 per cent. Third-quarter operating income was $2 billion for the quarter, consistent with the prior-year period. Operating margins were 25.2 per cent. Net income was $1.6 billion for the quarter versus $1.5 billion last year.

October 29, 2019

Executives Not Prepared For Recession

Operations, supply chain, and finance functions were the first functions to be affected in the 2008 economic downturn. And, even though almost all of company executives (96 per cent) believe a recession will materialize over the next year, only eight per cent feel well-prepared for it, says a study from Russell Reynolds Associates, a leadership advisory and search firm. The study, ‘Preparing for economic uncertainty: Are your operations teams ready?’ says the need for preparation for a recession is necessary based on how companies have performed during previous recessions. Businesses need to look beyond just cost-cutting to pursue a balanced approach in order to recover more quickly following a recession, says the report. Russell Reynolds says business owners must first evaluate their operations, supply chain, and finance functions. Then, they should develop a plan, identify gaps in the team, and address those gaps with effective talent strategies, culture, and leadership. The disruption will require talent to be comfortable with agility and to be nimble, empowered to act, and be able to quickly respond.

CPCA, ACA To Update Category Rules

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) is working with the American Coatings Association (ACA) to develop sustainability programs, product category rules (PCRs), and sustainability reporting standards to stay aligned with green building standards as the industry continues to evolve. The ACA has developed a PCR for both architectural coatings and resinous floor coatings while continuing to explore other approaches on sustainability reporting in concert with members. As part of this ongoing effort, CPCA will seek to align efforts with that of ACA as it moves toward a robust sustainability reporting program to highlight the many strides made by the coatings industry with respect to sustainability. The organizations will come together for a webinar to discuss architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) VOC regulations at a webinar. The presenters include Gary LeRoux, president and CEO of CPCA and David Darling, vice-president, health, safety, and environmental affairs at ACA. It takes place November 14 from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information, visit CPCA

Tnemec Acquires Tex•Cote

Industrial and architectural protective coatings manufacturer Tnemec Company, Inc. has purchased the assets of Textured Coatings of America, Inc. (Tex•Cote). Established in 1961, Tex•Cote manufactures high-performance, water-based coatings for use on commercial and residential projects. Tnemec will provide Tex•Cote with operational and managerial support for growth within its current markets and customer base. The company has sales throughout North America and internationally to more than 23 countries. Tex•Cote’s products will now also be available through Tnemec. The company has representatives in the U.S., Canada, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and China.

Sobeys Pilots Intelligent Shopping Cart

Grocery store company Sobeys has launched an intelligent shopping cart – the Sobeys Smart Cart – at its Oakville, ON-based location. The Smart Cart is a technology-enhanced shopping cart that aims to reduce line-ups at in-store checkouts. The cart is able to scan and weigh products as customers place them in the cart, display a running tally of purchases while the customer shops, and allow customers to pay on the spot with the cart. Equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology, the cart will continually evolve to improve beyond a speedy checkout. The cart also has a screen which will eventually help customers navigate the store to complete a shopping list, highlight promotions, and make product suggestions. Going forward, the cart will evolve from scanning product to identifying product. It includes multiple high-resolution cameras that capture 120 images per second as product is placed in the cart, which allows the cart to learn how to identify each grocery item. Supported by the cart's sensitive weight measures, customers will eventually be able to toss their items into the cart without having to enter any information or scan barcodes.

Amazon.com Sales Up, Income Down

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $70 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 24 per cent over net sales of $56.6 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Operating income decreased to $3.2 billion in the quarter, compared with operating income of $3.7 billion in the year-ago period. Net income decreased to $2.1 billion compared with net income of $2.9 billion last year.

Canadian Restructuring Impacts Grainger Earnings

Grainger had sales of $2.9 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of four per cent versus sales of $2.8 billion in the third quarter of 2018. On a daily basis, sales were up 2.5 per cent. Gross profit margin was 37.3 per cent versus 38.1 per cent year-over-year. Operating earnings were $338 million for the quarter, up 78 per cent compared to $189 million in the year-ago period, while adjusted operating earnings were up two per cent. Operating margin was 11.4 per cent, up 48 basis points over last year. Net earnings were up 123 per cent to $233 million for the quarter compared to last year. The company says the 2019 results include restructuring, primarily in Canada, resulting in a negative $1 million impact to operating earnings.

October 28, 2019

Retail Sales Headed For 10-year Low

Canadian retail sales growth continues to weaken, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending in August, retail sales gained a mere one per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Year-to-date Canadian retail sales are up only 1.8 per cent compared to a year ago. Current trends imply things are going to get worse before they get better. The three-month sales growth trend continues to decline, while the underlying 12-month trend is at another new low. At current rates, retail sales growth in 2019 could end up at around 1.3 or 1.4 per cent, which would make it the worst year since 2009 and the so-called ‘Great Recession.’ Most of the bad news, however, is coming from the automotive and related sector, due to declining gasoline station sales combined with very modest growth at new car dealers. The food and drug sector has also gone into a funk in the last several months. Electronics and appliance stores’ retail sales were down 10.2 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending August. By comparison, the store merchandise sector is not doing too badly and is managing to keep its head above water. eCommerce sales were up 29.9 per cent year-over-year for the quarter. This was much higher than for location-based retail which gained just one per cent.

ASSA ABLOY Forms Divisional Structure

ASSA ABLOY Group is forming a divisional structure around four business segments to enable continued and accelerated growth of its entrance systems division. The four segments are pedestrian, industrial, residential, and perimeter security. Perimeter Security is currently part of the opening solutions Americas division and will be transferred to the entrance systems division to create new opportunities to scale up and potentially drive a global expansion. The business segments will be the highest responsible operational entities reporting to the division. This will increase the focus on the operation and enable further synergies within respective business segments. The changes are planned to take effect early 2020.

HBC To Go Private

Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) has, based on the unanimous recommendation of an independent special committee of its board of directors, entered into a definitive arrangement agreement with a group of HBC shareholders to take the company private. The common shares of HBC not held by the shareholder group (who collectively own approximately 57 per cent of the common shares of the company on an as-converted basis), will be purchased. The shareholder group comprises individuals and entities related to, or affiliated with, Richard A. Baker, governor and executive chairman of HBC; Rhône Capital L.L.C.; WeWork Property Advisors; Hanover Investments (Luxembourg) S.A.; and Abrams Capital Management, L.P.

U.S. Holiday Sales Forecast To Rise

U.S. retailers can look forward to another cheerful holiday season, says Deloitte in its ‘2019 Holiday Retail Survey.’ While some headwinds are forming, the average household is planning to spend nearly $1,500 this holiday. More than three-quarters of shoppers say they are likely to spend the same or more than last year. Sales are expected to grow by roughly five per cent over last year, with eCommerce sales for the season expected to grow by 14 to 18 per cent. Over two-thirds of holiday shoppers plan to research online and buy at least some gifts in-store. Nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to shop at online retailers this year; over half plan on visiting a mass merchant. These two formats have remained at the top for the last five years. With high spenders - those who plan to spend more than $2,100 - accounting for 60 per cent of this year’s total holiday spend, understanding them becomes a priority for retailers, says the survey. But across the board, quality, value, and convenience are still what attract consumers the most.

Sales Strong For Lawson Products

Lawson Products, Inc., a distributor of products and services to the MRO marketplace, had net sales of $94.8 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 7.1 per cent compared to net sales of $88.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. B.C.-based Bolt Supply House, which represents approximately 12 per cent of consolidated sales, increased 15 per cent over the prior-year quarter, reflecting strength across multiple product categories and new customers. Gross profit increased $2.5 million to $50.6 million compared to $48.1 million in the third quarter of 2018. Consolidated gross profit as a percentage of sales was 53.4 per cent compared to 54.3 per cent. Operating income for the quarter was $6.4 million compared to an operating loss of $2.3 million in the prior-year quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $10.3 million, up 40.9 per cent over the year-ago period.

Craftsman Rollout Drives Stanley B&D Sales

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.6 billion for the third quarter of 2019, up four per cent compared to net sales of $3.5 billion in the third quarter of 2018, due to positive contributions in volume, acquisitions, and price. The gross margin rate for the quarter was 34.3 per cent, down 120 basis points compared to the year-ago period. Net earnings were $231 million compared to $248 million last year. Sales in the tools and storage segment increased four per cent year-over-year, driven by the rollout of the Craftsman brand. Industrial sales increased 13 per cent year-over-year, and security sales declined four per cent.

October 25, 2019

Housing Market To Stabilize

The outlook for housing across Canada is forecast to stabilize over the next two years following two years of declines, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in its ‘2020 Housing Market Outlook.’ CMHC also forecasts income and population growth will support a rebound in home sales and prices. “Housing starts are projected to stabilize in 2020 and 2021 at levels in line with long-run averages,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist. “This follows two years of declines from elevated levels in 2017. Resale activity and house prices are expected to fully recover from recent declines." Before the rebound, however, housing starts are expected to register a second consecutive annual decline in 2019. Starts for single-detached and multi-unit housing types will remain below the peaks observed in 2017 (for single-detached starts) and 2018 (for multi-unit starts). Existing home sales are forecast to stay near their 2018 levels until the end of 2019. Home sales will increase in 2020 and 2021 offsetting the declines observed since 2016, reflecting household disposable income growth.

Internorm Adds Kingston Dealership

Internorm by NeuFenster, a European window company certified by the Passive House Standard and NFRC based in Laval, QC, has added a dealer in Kingston, ON. Cornerstone Building Supplies will provide sales and service for Internorm products in and around Kingston enhancing the manufacturer’s reach in Ontario. Mason Laframboise, owner of Cornerstone, founded the dealership because he felt there was a strong need in the region for a one-stop store for high-quality, premium products for contractors. NeuFenster offers a complete line of triple pane windows and doors, featuring Europe’s signature tilt-and-turn functionality.

Rev-A-Shelf Acquires Sidelines

Cabinet accessory manufacturer Rev-A-Shelf, LLC, has acquired Sidelines Inc., a manufacturer of organizational items for the closet, kitchen, and home. Sidelines, based in Arizona, was founded by Charles and Kris Costa as a company with a unique take on organizational items. Rev-A-Shelf is based in Kentucky and, through its subsidiary Tresco Lighting, offers a full line of LED lighting options for residential and commercial cabinetry and store display fixtures. Its primary markets are cabinet hardware distributors, large OEM cabinet manufacturers, home centres, and online resellers. The Sidelines products will be available through Rev-A-Shelf in the Canadian market.

Miller Appointed President Of Shop Vac

Felice A. Miller is president and chief operating officer of Shop Vac Corporation. Most recently, she was executive vice-president. She is the granddaughter of Shop Vac’s founder, Martin Miller.

Lumber Prices Decrease UFPI Sales

Universal Forest Products, Inc., soon to be known as UFP Industries, Inc., had net sales of $1.16 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of four per cent compared to net sales in the third quarter of 2018. Lower lumber prices contributed significantly to the gross sales reduction as selling prices were down by 11 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were up 26 per cent year-over-year to $51.9 million. Operating profit was up 24 per cent to $70.5 million and EBITDA was up 23 per cent to $89.7 million. New product sales were up seven per cent. The retail market segment had a one per cent decrease in sales year-over-year; the industrial segment had a six per cent decrease in sales; and the construction segment had a five per cent decrease in sales.

Curtailments Affect Canfor Sales

Canfor Corporation had net sales of $1.1 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease from net sales of $1.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The company had a net loss of $124 million compared to a net earnings of $201 million in the year-ago period. The decline reflected lower operating earnings in both the lumber and pulp and paper segments as well as substantial curtailments taken by both businesses during the quarter. Total lumber production was down 15 per cent compared to the second quarter and lumber shipments were down 16 per cent.

October 24, 2019

Wholesales Sales Retreat

Wholesale sales were down 1.2 per cent to $64.3 billion in August, largely offsetting the 1.4 per cent gain in July. Declines were recorded in five of seven subsectors, representing 85 per cent of wholesale sales, says Statistics Canada. In dollar terms, the machinery, equipment, and supplies; the personal and household goods; and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsectors contributed the most to the decline. In the machinery segment, the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry contributed the most to the downward movement. During the same period, imports of logging, construction, mining, and oil and gas field machinery and equipment also fell. Sales declined in every province except Alberta, representing 89 per cent of wholesale sales. Much of the decline was attributable to lower sales in Ontario and Quebec. Following 11 consecutive monthly gains, wholesale inventories declined 0.3 per cent to $93.4 billion in August. Decreases were recorded in five of seven subsectors, which together represented 70 per cent of total wholesale inventories. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.44 in July to 1.45 in August as declines in sales overshadowed those in inventories.

Matériaux Pont-Masson Opens Seventh Location

Matériaux Pont-Masson has opened its seventh location. The Ste-Clotilde-de-Chateauguay, QC, store will serve as a building materials and hardware retailer and a distribution centre (DC) for the other six stores. With the new DC, the chain can now offer more than 40,000 products in stock. The Ste-Clotilde location has a total surface area of 500,000 square feet including a 6,500-square-foot sales floor and 40,000-square-foot warehouse. Professional customers will have access to a wide range of services including dedicated contractor service with an extended schedule; delivery service with a fleet of over 60 trucks including two 91-foot boom trucks; complete engineering and assessment services; manufacturing of roof truss, beams, and pre-manufactured walls; and special orders.

PayPal Launches Small Business Loan In Canada

PayPal has launched its PayPal Business Loan in Canada, enabling small business owners to access loans between $5,000 and $100,000. The company says alternative loans have steadily grown from four per cent in 2013 to 24 per cent in 2018. At the same time, the alternative lending market in Canada grew by 159 per cent between 2016 and 2017. In Canada, the PayPal Business Loan is currently limited to select PayPal merchants who have been invited to apply. The company expects the program to be more widely available to Canadian PayPal business account holders in 2020. Beyond Canada, PayPal financing products are available in the U.S., UK, Australia, Germany, and in Mexico.

Norbord Announces Indefinite Line Curtailment

Norbord Inc. will indefinitely curtail production on line one of its two-line oriented strand board (OSB) mill in Cordele, GA, effective mid-November until further notice. Line one has been operating on a reduced 10/4 operating schedule since early September. Cordele line two will continue to operate on a full production schedule. The curtailment is due to continued poor market conditions and lower-than-anticipated OSB demand to-date. These conditions no longer support the economic operation of line one at this time. The indefinite curtailment will ensure Norbord continues to only produce what the company can sell, in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Built Green Recognizes Construction Waste Reduction Efforts

In recognition of ‘Waste Reduction Week,’ Built Green Canada acknowledges the integral role waste management plays in environmental sustainability, as well as those builders who have long chosen responsible waste reduction methods. Built Green Canada is a national, non-profit organization that offers third-party certified sustainable building programs. These programs take a holistic approach that includes energy efficiency and goes on to address six other critical aspects of sustainable building including materials and methods, water conservation, and waste management. In the residential building industry, waste management primarily refers to the handling of materials on the construction site. The Built Green programs encourage builders to reduce waste, reuse scrap materials, and recycle or donate what’s left over. Built Green also offers renovation programs, both single family and high density, to guide the industry through an environmentally friendly approach. As part of this, credit is offered for reuse of building materials, including building walls, floors, and roof structure - practices that result in high percentages of landfill diversion and offer another way to save through reduced landfill fees and fewer new materials.

Whirlpool Earnings Rise

Whirlpool Corporation had net earnings of $358 million (seven per cent of sales) for the third quarter of 2019, an increase compared to net earnings of $210 million (3.9 per cent of sales) in the third quarter of 2018. Net sales for the quarter were $5.1 billion compared to $5.3 billion in the year-ago period, a decrease of 4.4 per cent. Organic net sales increased 1.6 per cent. EBIT was $722 million, or 14.2 per cent of sales, compared to $275 million, or 5.2 percent of sales, in the same prior-year period. The North American segment sales increased 0.5 per cent year-over-year.

October 23, 2019

Retail Sales Edge Down

Sales in the retail trade sector edged down 0.1 per cent in August to $51.5 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in six subsectors, representing 51 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.2 per cent. Sales at food and beverage stores were down for the first time in three months, declining 0.8 per cent in August. After increasing five per cent in June, sales were down at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (0.5 per cent) for the second month in a row. Despite this decline, sales remain above the level observed in May. Retail sales in Ontario dipped 0.8 per cent in August; sales in Manitoba decreased 1.6 per cent; sales in British Columbia were up 0.8 per cent; and sales in New Brunswick were up 3.8 per cent. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.8 billion in August, accounting for 3.2 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 25 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.5 per cent.

Ontario Entrepreneur Recognized By eBay Canada

Nan Xu, of IHL, Canada has been recognized by eBay Canada as an ‘Entrepreneur of the Year.’ The award recognizes exceptional Canadian small businesses that are harnessing the opportunities of eBay's marketplace to reach new customers across the country and around the world. In 2014, Nan Xu joined Investments Hardware Limited (IHL Canada), a family-owned and -operated business established in 1985 in Woodbridge, ON, that specializes in the sale of power tools and building materials. He oversees its eCommerce department, and recognized an untapped opportunity for IHL Canada to stimulate global export growth using eBay. He redesigned the company's eBay store, which today includes more than 500 listings. To handle the growth in demand on eBay, Nan began using machine learning technology to transform order management, fulfillment, and customer services. Over the last five years, IHL has exponentially grown its exports to over 50 countries across the globe. The company’s eBay business is on track to triple in size this year.

Kent Chooses Fairstone For Financing Offering

Kent Building Supplies has selected Fairstone Financial Inc., a non-bank provider of lending solutions, to provide point-of-sale (POS) financing for retail purchases across the retailer’s 49 stores in Atlantic Canada. As part of its retail POS financing offering, Fairstone is also providing Kent with an automated, mobile, and digital financing platform which can reduce customer financing approval times.

Signify To Acquire Cooper Lighting Solutions

Lighting company Signify, which is based in the Netherlands, has entered into a definitive agreement with Eaton to acquire Cooper Lighting Solutions. Cooper Lighting Solutions, headquartered in the U.S. in Georgia, is a provider of professional lighting, lighting controls, and connected lighting. The business offers a large breadth of products and applications both in the indoor and outdoor segments, sold under brands in North America including Corelite, Halo, McGraw-Edison, and Metalux. The company sells its lighting portfolio through an agent network and has direct relationships with retailers, distributors, and other end-user customers. The acquisition aligns with Signify’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the North American market. The companies will maintain separate front offices, sales forces, agent networks, product and brand portfolios, and marketing and product development teams. The acquisition is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2020.

Volta Launches AI Robotic Mower

Italy-based Volta, a company that specializes in the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into traditional home appliances, has launched Mora, a robotic mower that operates without the need for a boundary system. The robotic mower requires no installation, digging, wiring, or beacons to guide its progress across a lawn. Instead, it deploys an AI-based autopilot to visually navigate the intricacies of the property and stay self-confined to the lawn. The unit’s autopilot recognizes and avoids obstacles – including edges, pets, garden tools, toys, and human body parts. It can even detect and avoid an object as thin as a towel laid on the grass. The company is actively pursuing the North American market.

Gammel Joins Atlas Engineered Products

Bill Gammel is vice-president of sales with Atlas Engineered Products (AEP). He has more than 30 year of experience as a business development specialist and entrepreneur in Canadian markets.

West Fraser Has Net Loss

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had net sales of $1,190 million in the third quarter of 2019, down from net sales of $1,646 million in the third quarter of 2018. The company had a net loss of $45 million which compares to net earnings of $238 million in the year-ago period. Lumber production was down three per cent over the second quarter while lumber shipments exceeded production by approximately 48MMfbm (million board feet).

October 22, 2019

Home Depot To Provide CRA With Customer Information

The Home Depot Canada has sent letters to customers who have commercial credit card accounts to notify them it is complying with the Canada Revenue Agency’s court order to provide information on commercial accounts such as business names, addresses, and purchase details from 2013 to 2016. As part of a crack down on the underground economy, the CRA has been requesting this information from a number of large home improvement retailers over the past three years. The Home Depot Canada fought the court order, but will provide the information to the CRA based on a federal court decision. The underground economy accounted for $51.6 billion in 2016 (Statistics Canada) or 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. Residential construction accounts for 28.3 per cent of that number; retail trade accounts for 13.5 per cent.

August Building Construction Investment Increases

Total investment in building construction increased 1.4 per cent in August to $15.5 billion, with gains in both the residential and non-residential sectors, says Statistics Canada. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction increased 1.2 per cent to $13 billion. Investment in residential building construction was up 1.8 per cent in August to $10.6 billion. The multi-unit component edged up 0.4 per cent to $5.3 billion, led by Ontario ($129.2 million). Investment in single-unit construction increased 3.2 per cent to $5.4 billion, slightly exceeding multi-unit residential investment. This was partly due to gains in Ontario ($94 million) and Alberta ($47.5 million). Non-residential investment was up 0.5 per cent to $4.9 billion. Both the commercial (0.8 per cent to $2.8 billion) and institutional (0.2 per cent to $1.1 billion) components edged up. The industrial component edged down 0.4 per cent to $905.4 million in August.

U.S. Remodeling Market Expected To Stall In 2020

Annual gains in U.S. homeowner spending for improvements and repairs are set to decline by the second half of next 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 home improvement and maintenance expenditures will post a modest decline of 0.3 per cent through the third quarter of 2020. “Continued weakness in existing home sales and new construction will lead to sluggish remodeling activity next year,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Slowdowns in other key indicators of improvement spending - project permitting, sales of building materials, and home prices - also suggest the remodeling market may be reaching a turning point.” The centre says low mortgage interest rates, however, may help counter some of these headwinds, which could buoy home improvement spending over the coming year.

Retailers Must Become Privacy Conscious

With consumers at a greater risk for a data breach than ever before, it is more important than ever for retailers to become data-wise and privacy conscious, says a report by Deloitte. The ‘U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Study’ says nearly three in four consumers (71 per cent) are willing to share personal data if they receive better pricing, special discounts, or exclusive offers. And, consumers who are satisfied with privacy policies are more likely to be open or neutral about sharing personal data (73 per cent), compared to those who are unsatisfied or unaware (57 per cent). Deloitte says consumer privacy is at an inflection point in retail, with significant business, financial, and regulatory reasons for retailers to act now. Currently, nearly half of U.S. consumers feel they have little to no control of their personal data and the vast majority (86 per cent) believe they should be able to opt-out of the sale of their data. However, consumers are willing to share their personal information in return for benefits to them, but retailers should walk a fine line not to betray consumers' trust.

Samsung Partners With Mobeewave

Samsung Electronics has partnered with Mobeewave, a provider of contactless mobile card payment acceptance, to deploy NFC-enabled contactless payment acceptance on mobile devices worldwide. Over the past several months, the two companies have worked together on a pilot in Canada, testing Samsung POS, a mobile-based point-of-sale (POS) solution. Samsung POS enables merchants to accept debit and credit payments by tapping contactless cards, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay wallets onto Samsung NFC-enabled devices – without dongles, cables, or other additional hardware. The pilot generated over 10,000 downloads of Samsung POS, driven by transactions from micro-merchants and small businesses in a variety of industries. Merchants can download the Samsung POS app and go through a sign-up process within the app to register. The platform has been deployed first in Canada and the company plans to expand globally starting in 2020.

Hultafors To Acquire CLC

Sweden-based Hultafors Group will acquire California-based Custom LeatherCraft Manufacturing LLC (CLC). CLC designs, develops, and markets work gear, personal protective equipment, and outdoor gear. Its products include tool belts, softside tool carriers, kneepads, gloves, and other outdoor gear. The company’s products are marketed under the CLC brand in the U.S. and the Kuny’s Leather brand in Canada. The acquisition will allow Hultafors to strengthen its presence in North America, strengthen its product portfolio, and develop relationships with key customers within the distribution channel.

Armstrong Joins Ace

Kirk Armstrong is vice-president of distribution and supply chain innovation with Ace Hardware Corporation. Previously, he was senior vice-president, operations and supply chain, with Owens & Minor, a healthcare distributor.

Sales Up At WD-40

WD-40 Company had net sales of $106.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of four per cent compared to net sales of $102.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales for the Americas segment was $49.3 million compared to $49.7 million last year. Sales in the maintenance products segment increased four per cent to $97.3 million and sales in the homecare and cleaning products segment were flat at $9.5 million. Overall net income for the quarter was $8.6 million, a decrease of 60 per cent compared to $21.6 million last year, due to a tax adjustment. Gross margin was 54.6 per cent compared to 55.2 per cent.

October 21, 2019

Home Depot Canada, Walmart Canada Must Accept Settlement

Members of a class action have no right to appeal a court-approved settlement of the lawsuit, ruled the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The decision means the Home Depot Canada and Walmart Canada must accept the multi-million dollar agreement reached between plaintiffs, credit card companies Visa and Mastercard, and the banks that issue the cards. The case alleged that Visa, Mastercard, and 10 banks conspired since 2001 to fix, maintain, increase, or control certain fees for merchants that accept payment by credit card. Class actions were launched in cities across Canada which settled for more than $50 million. In 2018, the Superior Court of Ontario approved a settlement under which, among other things, Visa and Mastercard each agreed to pay $9.5 million to the plaintiff merchants. Neither company admitted liability. Home Depot Canada and Walmart Canada had objected calling the settlements unfair and not in the best interests of class members. In an effort to appeal, the companies argued that the agreements released the credit card companies from consequences for any future anti-competitive conduct. In rejecting the retailers' challenge, the court said that neither company was a representative plaintiff which makes litigation decisions on behalf of the class and bears the risks if the action fails.

Lowe’s Canada Celebrates Dealers

Lowe’s Canada took advantage of the ‘2020 RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show’ to celebrate several RONA and Ace dealers. The following dealers and suppliers were honoured during the evening gala: RONA Builder of Success program: Community category - RONA Ferronnerie Houle (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC); Up and Comer category - RONA Sonnenburg Hardware (Massey, ON); Lifetime Achievement category - RONA J. Anctil (Saint-Denis-de-Brompton, QC). Celebrated in the Ace Canada Builder of Success program were: Community category - Ace Victory Building Supplies (Mackenzie, BC); Up and Comer category - Ace Leader (Leader, SK); Lifetime Achievement category - Ace Building Centre Vanderhoof (Vanderhoof, BC). Years as a RONA dealer: 25 years - RONA Centre de rénovation Senneterre (Senneterre, QC), RONA Centre de rénovation St-Patrick (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Hemmingford inc. (Hemmingford, QC), RONA Quincaillerie de Lacolle inc. (Lacolle, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Poulin Lussier et filles (Saint-Odilon, QC), RONA Quincaillerie S.C. Roy (Saint-Ephrem-de-Beauce, QC); 30 years - RONA Quincaillerie R-Cube inc. (Wakefield, QC); RONA Quincaillerie Charleroi (Montreal, Quebec); 35 years - RONA Quincaillerie Gauvin (L’ancienne-Lorette, QC); RONA Gestion Berlaber inc. (La Malbaie, QC); 40 years - RONA Quincaillerie Delorimier inc. (Montreal, QC); 45 years - RONA Quincaillerie Notre-Dame St-Henri (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Turbo inc. (Cap-aux-Meules, QC), RONA Bernard Breton inc. (Saint-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage, QC), RONA Matériaux Audet (Quebec, QC), and RONA Julien & Frères (Baie-Comeau, QC); 50 years - RONA Quincaillerie Saint-Camille-de-Lellis (Saint-Camille-de-Lellis, QC); 55 years - RONA Quincaillerie Crémazie inc. (Quebec, QC); 60 years - RONA J. St-Cyr & Frères Ltée (Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Camel, QC); 65 years - RONA Iberville (Ferronnerie Houle) (Iberville, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Jean Hebert inc. (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie C. Bélanger Ltée (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie du Plateau (Montreal, QC); 80 years - RONA Marché Gosselin Tradition (Frelighsburg, QC), RONA Quincaillerie J.R. Grégoire (Montreal, QC); Ace eCommerce Awards: eCommerce Achievement Award - Silver: Kaslo Ace Building Centre (Kaslo, BC), Quincaillerie Ace Arthur Rivest (Sainte-Julienne, QC), Victory Ace Building Centre (Mackenzie, BC); eCommerce Achievement Award - Gold: Ace Peel Hardware & Supply (Caledon, ON), Ed’s Ace Building Centre (Fort Nelson, BC); eCommerce Achievement Award - Diamond: AMS Ace Building Centre (Queen Charlotte, BC); Best eCommerce Performance Award - Eastern Canada: Quincaillerie Ace Arthur Rivest (Sainte-Julienne, QC); Central Canada: Ace Peel Hardware & Supply (Caledon, ON); Western Canada: AMS Building Centre (Queen Charlotte, British Columbia); Best National Performance – AMS Building Centre (Queen Charlotte, BC); eCommerce Retailer of the Year Award - Eastern Canada – Quincaillerie Ace Matériaux P.A. (Les Cèdres, QC); Central Canada – Grafton Ace Country & Garden (Grafton, ON); Western Canada – Kaslo Ace Building Centre (Kaslo, BC); Supplier of the Year ??? Soprema

U.S. September Construction Starts Decrease

New construction starts moved five per cent lower in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $774.1 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. This marks the second consecutive monthly decline in construction starts. By major sector, non-building construction fell 13 per cent in September, while residential construction dropped six per cent. On the plus side, non-residential construction starts rose one per cent during the month aided by the start of a large manufacturing project. The September statistics pushed the index lower to 164 compared to 173 in August, marking the lowest reading since May. Despite the month’s decline, the index remains close to its 2019 average of 167. Year-to-date through September, non-residential building starts totalled $215 billion, a four per cent decline from the first nine months of 2018. Commercial starts were six per cent higher pushed forward by the office, warehouse, and parking categories. Institutional construction starts were down three per cent through nine months, with all major categories posting setbacks. Manufacturing starts were a sharp 39 per cent lower year-to-date. Residential construction starts were six per cent lower than in the same period of 2018; single family starts were down four per cent, while multi-family declined 11 per cent year-to-date.

Homeowners Want To Upgrade Homes

Most U.S. homeowners expect to make improvements to their property in the next year to build their home’s value, says a survey by Chase Home Lending. The survey says 80 per cent of homeowners anticipate taking on a home improvement project. More than 70 per cent plan to do at least some of the work themselves, though some may tap into professionals when necessary. Motivations for upgrading homes include adding value, creating a comfortable space for family and hosting, and feeding a hobby of DIY/home improvement. Fifty-eight per cent of homeowners planning a renovation foresee spending up to $10,000 on a project; 21 per cent foresee projects of $10,000 to $25,000; and another 21 per cent aimed high, planning to spend at least $25,000. While some plan to use cash and savings for their home projects, many others are looking at a mix of savings, credit cards, and leveraging their property value through a home equity line of credit or cash-out refinance.

J.D. Irving To Close Baker Brook Sawmill

J.D. Irving will close its Baker Brook, NB, sawmill as of November 1. The company says a decline in cedar supply and weak markets for byproducts such as wood chips, shavings, and sawdust are behind the decision. The sawmill has been operated by J.D. Irving since 2006 and produces cedar boards.

Mueller Joins Big Lots

Andrej Mueller is executive vice-president of business strategy at Big Lots, Inc. Previously, he was with Boston Consulting Group, most recently as managing director and partner in its Germany office.

PPG Has Consistent Third Quarter

PPG had net sales of approximately $3.8 billion for the third quarter of 2019, consistent with net sales for the third quarter of 2018 and up two per cent in constant currencies year-over-year. Net income from continuing operations was $366 million compared to $368 million in the year-ago period. The performance coatings segment had net sales of $2.3 billion for the quarter, up one per cent over last year, with constant currency sales up three per cent. Year-over-year organic sales in architectural coatings increased slightly, with modest increases in the U.S. and Canada although same store sales were down in these regions. The industrial coatings segment third quarter net sales were $1.5 billion, down one per cent year-over-year.

October 18, 2019

Dealers Gather For Annual Buying Show

The ‘2020 RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show,’ presented by Lowe’s Canada, brought together roughly 300 RONA and Ace dealer owners and 330 suppliers, including numerous suppliers from across Canada. The two-day event allowed affiliated dealers from the Lowe’s Canada network to discover new offerings available on the market and plan their purchases for the next 12 months. It was also an opportunity for them to attend conferences, participate in workshops, and meet various partners and players in the industry, including the Well Made Here team, which took the opportunity to inform visitors of its program aimed at making it easier to identify products made in Canada. This year’s show featured a vast selection of seasonal products with the latest outdoor living trends including barbecues and outdoor power equipment. Another show standout was the flooring and lighting zone which presented new merchandising designed to adapt to various store formats and optimize the performance of these two product categories. Lowe’s Canada philanthropic partners, Opération Enfant Soleil/ Children’s Miracle Network and the Charles-Bruneau Foundation, had a booth at the showroom entrance to meet dealers and encourage them to join the 2020 campaigns. The show also celebrated the 80-year anniversary of the RONA banner by honouring two dealers that have been affiliated with RONA since 1939: RONA Quincaillerie J. R. Grégoire in Mon