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January 18, 2019

U.S. Renovation Spending Expected To Shrink

Annual growth in the U.S. market for home improvement and repair is expected to slow considerably by the end of the 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 gains in renovation and repair spending to owner-occupied homes in the U.S. will shrink from 7.5 per cent in 2018 to 5.1 per cent in 2019. “Slowing house price appreciation, flat home sales activity, and rising mortgage interest rates are deflating owners’ interest in making major investments in home improvements this year,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the centre. “Continued slowdowns in home building, sales of building materials, and remodeling permits all point to a more challenging environment for home remodeling in 2019.” That said, improvement and repair spend is still set to expand this year to over US$350 billion.

RONA Welcomes Alberta Store

Built Rite Building Products has joined Lowe's Canada's RONA network of affiliated dealers. Founded in 2012 by Andrew Zacharias and Andrew Neustaeter, this contractor-oriented store is located in La Crête, AB. Over the next few months, the 4,000-square-foot store will undergo major renovations to triple its total sales area and provide local customers with an enhanced product and service offering. Once renovated, the store will feature a 13,000-square-foot sales area, broader selections in existing product categories such as power tools and building materials, as well as entirely new categories including seasonal products and appliances. Online shopping should also be made available later this year. The renovation is expected to be completed in spring 2019 and the store will remain open throughout.

Sexton Group Makes Changes In Response To Growth

With significant growth in recent years, the Sexton Group has evolved from a western-focused buying group to a national buying group. As a result, the company is making strategic organizational changes which include leadership appointments. Eric Palmer is senior manager, purchasing. He has been actively involved in the industry for over 10 years. Tom Bell is senior manager, business development. He has over 30 years of experience in the building supply industry and is an active leader of industry associations. Krista Venn is manager of programs/analysis. She has been with the group for 15 years and has in-depth knowledge of the industry and member needs.

Havwoods International To Open Canadian Showroom

Engineered hardwood supplier Havwoods International will open the global brand’s first Canadian showroom in March. The 1,600-square-foot showroom will welcome designers, architects, developers, specifiers, and homeowners at its location in Toronto, ON’s King East Design District. Similar to the other Havwoods showrooms around the world, the Toronto showroom will feature a warm, inviting ambiance while also embracing elements of the city’s local design culture. The showroom will provide guests with engineered hardwood samples and expertise from a team of consultants and product specialists.

West Fraser Has Temporary Production Curtailments

West Fraser will temporarily curtail approximately three weeks of production throughout the first quarter of 2019 at three British Columbia sawmills. The decision comes as a result of price declines in lumber markets, high log costs, and log supply constraints. Total production curtailed in the first quarter of the year is expected to reduce spruce, pine, and fir lumber production by approximately 50-million board feet, in addition to previously announced measures.

Barbarick Honoured By NRF

Steve Barbarick, president and chief operating officer of Tractor Supply Company, has been named to the National Retail Foundation’s (NRF) ‘List of People Shaping Retail’s Future 2019.’ The 2019 NRF List, which is released annually, honours individuals in retail who are making a dynamic impact on the future of the industry. Barbarick was named to ‘The Power Players’ list, one of five categories included on the list. NRF says he is one of 25 honourees that epitomize the creativity, enthusiasm, and energy in retail today. These people are creating new businesses, breathing new life into existing concepts, impacting investments, and spearheading change.

Fastenal Company Has Strong Sales

Fastenal Company had net sales of $$1,231.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 13.2 per cent over net sales of $1,088.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $587.8 million versus $531.2 million in the year-ago period, an increase of 10.6 per cent. Operating income was $233.4 million compared to $203.3 million, up 14.8 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were $168.8 million compared to net earnings of $152.4, an increase of 10.7 per cent.

January 17, 2019

Montreal Sees Fourth Consecutive Annual Residential Sales Increase

A total of 46,753 residential sales were made in 2018 in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), a five per cent increase compared to 2017. This was the fourth consecutive annual increase, based on the real estate brokers’ Centris provincial database. Given the context of tightened mortgage rules, the performance of the Montreal real estate market in 2018 was well beyond what was anticipated. All property categories experienced an upsurge in sales in 2018, with condominiums making a strong showing with sales up by 14 per cent. Plexes of two to five units as well as single-family homes posted gains of three per cent and one per cent, respectively. In addition, luxury properties had a good year, with sales of single-family homes over $1 million growing by 18 per cent and condominiums over $500,000 by 30 per cent.

Lowe's Canada To Hold National Hiring Day

In preparation for home improvement's busiest season, Lowe's Canada is looking to fill more than 6,350 full-time, part-time, and seasonal positions this spring at its network of banners across Canada. These positions are in addition to some 150 positions currently being staffed in connection with the completion of the consolidation of Lowe's Canada's operations at the head office in Boucherville, QC. To kick off its hiring campaign, Lowe's Canada will hold a 'National Hiring Day' on February 23 in all of its 67 Lowe's stores, close to 200 RONA corporate stores, and 22 Reno-Depot stores across the country. Available positions include retail sales managers, customer service associates, cashiers, stockers, boom truck drivers, and sales specialists.

Georgia-Pacific Starts Production In Alabama Facility

Georgia‐Pacific has stated production at its newest lumber facility in Talladega, AL. The $100‐million, 300,000‐square‐foot, technologically advanced plant took nine months to build. Alabama represents a significant state for Georgia‐Pacific’s operations. Currently, there are more than 2,300 employees across eight facilities that span all of the company’s business segments. In the last five years, Georgia-Pacific has invested approximately $1.2 billion in its operations across the state. The new facility receives approximately 150 log trucks a day and will produce approximately 230 million board feet of lumber a year, with plans to expand production to 300 million board feet per year in the near future. The facility’s current plan is to ship out approximately 50 truckloads of lumber each day.

Native Trails To Launch Products At IDS Toronto

Native Trails, an artisan-crafted kitchen and bathroom brand, will debut over a dozen sustainably-designed products at 'Interior Design Show (IDS) Toronto' from January 17 to 20. The products include NativeStone material, expanded collections of its signature hand-hammered recycled copper, and minimalist designs for vanity and mirror offerings. The NativeStone collection includes kitchen, bar, and bathroom sinks; tubs; and mirrors made with a sustainable blend of natural jute fibre and cement. The Rhapsody Sink is a combination of traditional coppersmith work with contemporary design that takes several days and many hammer strikes to perfect. The minimalist designs include two wall mount sinks ‒ the NativeStone Zaca Wall Mount and the Chardonnay and Cabernet Floating Vanities. IDS Toronto takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON.

Haughie Joins LP

Alan Haughie is executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. He brings more than 25 years of financial expertise and significant strategic planning leadership to the role. Most recently, he served as senior vice-president and CFO of ServiceMasterGlobal Holdings Inc.

January 16, 2019

Canadian December Home Sales Fall Again

National home sales fell by 2.5 per cent in December compared to November, says the Canada Real Estate Association (CREA). This caps the weakest annual sales since 2012. Monthly declines in activity since September have fully retrenched its summer rally and returned it near the lowest level since early 2013. Transactions declined in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by lower activity in greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island, BC; Ottawa, London, and St. Thomas, ON; and Halifax-Dartmouth, NS, together with a regionally diverse mix of other large- and medium-sized urban centres. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 19 per cent year-over-year and stood almost 12 per cent below the 10-year average for the month of December. Sales were down from year-ago levels in three-quarters of all local markets. CREA says this decline, in part, is due to elevated activity posted in December 2017 as home buyers rushed to purchase in advance of the new federal mortgage stress test that came into effect on January 1, 2018. The number of newly-listed homes remained little changed with a 0.2 per cent) gain from November to December, with declines in close to half of all local markets offset by gains in the remainder.

Tecnoglass Invests In Manufacturing Business

Tecnoglass Inc. has entered into a joint venture agreement with Saint-Gobain through the purchase of a minority ownership interest in Vidrio Andino, a Colombia-based subsidiary of Saint-Gobain. Founded in 1997, Vidrio Andino sells glass in Colombia and the region and began production in 2013, becoming the main supplier of float glass to Tecnoglass. The joint venture will significantly augment Tecnoglass’ vertical integration strategy by allowing it to acquire an ownership interest in one of the first stages of its production supply chain, guaranteeing stable long-term float glass supply and improving purchasing economics for a significant portion of its float glass sourcing over time.

Distribution J. Des Serres To Offer New Generation Stripper

Distribution J. Des Serres Inc. will replace its regular product line with New Generation Stripper, by Super Remover, by March 31 and will stop all manufacturing of products that are part of the category Benchmark 1 of the Green Screen Chemical Hazard Assessment. The stripper is made of a methylene chloride-free formulation that exceeds upcoming standards that are expected to be introduced in an effort to curtail the toxicity of household chemicals. The company says many retailers, such as Canadian Tire and Home Hardware, have already stopped selling methylene chloride paint strippers and now carry New Generation Stripper.

Dörken Launches Moisture-managing Lath

Dörken Systems Inc. has launched its DELTA-DRY & LATH, a lath that manages moisture to prevent mould, wall rot, and decay in stucco and manufactured stone buildings. The product combines DELTA-DRY rainscreen technology with a fiberglass lath to deliver a one-step moisture-control solution. The system works to not only block solar-driven moisture from moving through the wall from the outside, but also gets rid of any moisture that originated from inside the house in the first place. This process of full ventilation paves the way for quicker drying and helps to prevent moisture-related issues.

Hachey Named Merchandising Manager

Mike Hachey is merchandising manager at Lowe's Canada. He has previously held positions at Multy Home, RCR International inc., and RONA.

Energizer Holdings Sales Flat

Energizer Holdings, Inc. had net sales of approximately $572 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year. This compared to net sales of $573.3 million in the first quarter of its 2018 year. Organic revenue increased by approximately 1.7 per cent year-over-year. Earnings before income taxes is expected to be in the range of $90 to $95 million, compared to $119 million in the prior-year fiscal quarter. Adjusted earnings before income taxes is expected to be in the range of $124 to $130 million, compared to $124.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of $157 to $163 million, compared to $156.8 million a year ago.

January 15, 2019

Retail Sales Inch Up

Retail sales in Canada reached $157.5 billion in the third quarter, up 2.8 per cent from the same quarter of 2017, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were reported in 12 of the 16 major commodity groupings. Sales of home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics were up 3.9 per cent, led by home appliances (+8.5%), home electronics (+3.9%), and housewares (+3.5%). Lower sales of home furnishings (-2.0%) moderated the gains. The hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden products sector was up 1.1 per cent year-over-year.

Record High 2018 Residential Sales For Quebec

The province of Quebec had a total of 86,557 residential sales in 2018, a five per cent increase over sales in 2017, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). This was the fourth consecutive increase and set a new sales record, surpassing the high of 82,541 transactions reached in 2017. Condominium sales jumped by 13 per cent, while single-family homes and plexes each posted more modest gains of three per cent. Saguenay and Gatineau took the lead among metropolitan areas with increases of 11 per cent and seven per cent, respectively. Notable increases were recorded in Sherbrooke (six per cent), Montréal (five per cent), and Québec City four per cent), while activity declined in the Trois-Rivières metropolitan area (one per cent). In the smaller urban centres, the agglomerations of Matane (30 per cent), Mont-Laurier (29 per cent), Cowansville (19 per cent), Rivière-du-Loup (17 per cent), and Saint- Hyacinthe (+15 per cent) posted the strongest growth in sales.

Businesses Getting Creative To Find Talent

With Canada's unemployment at the lowest rate in 40 years, it is becoming more difficult for businesses to staff up, says a survey by Express Employment Professionals. In fact, some companies are resorting to automation or relocation, in part, to make up for a lack of workers. In December, more businesses (83 per cent) report difficulty recruiting and filling positions than in any of the previous four quarters. Fifty per cent say it is ‘somewhat difficult’ to recruit and fill positions, while 33 per cent say it is ‘very difficult.’ Only 14 per cent say ‘somewhat easy,’ and two per cent say ‘very easy.’ Express says businesses are getting creative in their recruiting strategies. For example, some employers are forgoing trial or probationary periods for new employees and instead offering full-time permanent status right away. Others are providing lucrative referral bonuses to existing employees that provide a referral that leads to a full time offer of employment for the referred candidate. As well, smaller companies are improving benefit packages.

CPCA Launches Digital HUB

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) has launched a revamped website to provide members with relevant information and insights on the paint and coatings industry. It highlights the importance of coatings products in everyday life and the many environmental benefits derived from coatings products in the architectural, automotive, and industrial sectors. It also showcases how coatings products help reduce the environmental footprint of other industries. To cover one of the most heavily regulated industries, the CPCA has developed a custom-designed, multi-functional member resource centre called the Canada CoatingsHUB. It provides members with critical data needed to make decisions. Members can create their own individual dashboard, set priorities, and identify resource types needed to do their job. The HUB also features a compliance calendar that alerts members to important compliance dates and deadlines.

Bingham Named CFO

Douglas B. Bingham is senior vice-president, chief financial officer, and treasurer of Armstrong Flooring, Inc. Previously, he was vice-president, treasury and investor relations. He joined the company in 2017.

January 14, 2019

Montreal Home Sales Rise Again

A total of 2,825 residential sales were completed in December in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This is a three per cent increase compared to December 2017. It also represents a new sales record for a month of December and the 46th consecutive increase in transactions. Five of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales in December. Vaudreuil-Soulanges and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu stood out with respective sales increases of 13 per cent and eight per cent. Transactions were also on the rise on the North Shore (up six per cent), in Laval (up five per cent), and on the South Shore (up three per cent). The Island of Montreal was the only area that posted a decrease in sales, as transactions fell slightly by one per cent compared to December of 2017.

FCL's Calgary DC Employees Ratify Two-tier Agreement

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) has reached a new four-year agreement with employees at two Calgary, AB, distribution centres. More than 330 home and building solutions distribution centre and food distribution centre employees represented by Teamsters Local 987 voted 66 per cent in favour of accepting the latest offer. The agreement includes the introduction of a second-tier wage scale for new employees at both distribution centres. FCL says this wage scale is key to sustaining its operations and ability to serve retail co-operatives across western Canada over the long-term. Employees will receive a six per cent wage increase over four years, with retroactive pay for work completed back to April 1, 2018. The new agreement also provides enhancements to benefits for all existing and future employees.

Man Charged For Fraud At Home Depot Stores

A 32-year-old man from Quebec is facing 70 charges after he allegedly racked up more than $164,000 in fraudulent credit card charges, says the Durham Region Police Service. From September to November 2018, the accused participated in an elaborate credit card fraud scheme. During this time, he attended several Home Depot stores situated throughout the region and other parts of Ontario. He impersonated Home Depot credit card clients and used their in-store credit cards to make purchases of merchandise and gift cards worth more than $164,000. Hovel Kechichian, of Laval, QC, is charged with fraud over $5,000; personation with intent (23 counts); possess credit card obtained by crime (23 counts); and possess identity info with inference of fraud (23 counts).

Ward Leads IKEA

Michael Ward is president (country retail manager) leading the Canadian business of IKEA Canada. He began his IKEA career in Mississauga, ON, over 30 years ago and, most recently, held a global role as regional retail manager.

BB&B Earnings Slide

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had net earnings of $24.4 million for the third quarter of 2018 compared to net earnings of $61.3 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were approximately $3 billion, an increase of approximately 2.6 per cent compared to the prior year period. Comparable sales declined approximately 1.8 per cent, and included strong sales growth from the company's customer-facing digital channels and sales from stores that declined in the mid-single-digit percentage range.

January 11, 2019

Commercial Construction Drives Permit Rise

Canadian municipalities issued $8.3 billion worth of building permits in November, up 2.6 per cent from October, says Statistics Canada. Higher construction intentions for commercial buildings drove most of the gain. The value of non-residential building permits rose 11.6 per cent to $3.3 billion in November. Construction intentions rose in five provinces, with British Columbia accounting for most of the gain. In the commercial component, the value of building permits was up 16.8 per cent to $2.1 billion, the highest level since May 2007. Following three consecutive monthly declines, the value of industrial building permits rose 21.9 per cent to $527 million in November. The increase was mainly attributable to permits for new agricultural buildings. In the institutional component, the value of permits was down 7.2 per cent to $682 million in November, with Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador reporting the largest decreases. The decline in the institutional component was largely attributable to fewer high value permits issued for nursing homes compared with the previous month. In the residential sector, the value of building permits decreased 2.5 per cent to $5 billion in November. There were declines in five provinces, most notably Ontario. Meanwhile, the largest gain was in Quebec.

Saskatchewan Dealer Joins RONA

Demers Shopping Centre has joined the affiliated dealer network for RONA, a banner of Lowe’s Canada. Located in Debden, SK, the store has been serving local customers since 1947. The business started as a cheese factory and grew to meet he needs of the local community by becoming a combined hardware and grocery store in the 1980s. This family-owned business is now entering a new phase of its development by converting to the RONA banner. In the spring, the grocery portion of the business will move to a brand-new building next to the existing location, and the store’s entire floor space will be remodelled to support the hardware business. This will more than double its hardware retail area allowing it to bring in new product categories and a wider assortment.

Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower In December

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4.9 per cent in December to 151.9 from the revised November reading of 159.7. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The decline in December was due to a 7.6 per cent drop in the commercial component of the index, while the institutional component fell 0.7 per cent. For the full year, the index gained 4.3 per cent from the end of 2017, with the institutional component increasing 8.5 per cent over the year and the commercial component moving 1.6 per cent higher. While the overall index registered a gain for the full year, this was realized in the first half of 2018. During the final six months of the year, it fell 4.4 per cent, with the commercial component losing 7.2 per cent and the institutional component remaining essentially flat.

Calkins Heads Up Benjamin Moore

Dan Calkins is chairman and chief executive officer of Benjamin Moore & Co. Previously, he was president and chief operating officer. He has been with the company for 32 years and succeeds Mike Searles, who retired after five years as CEO.

Conference Tackles Many Topics

Fearless female entrepreneurs, cannabis, artificial intelligence, and customer relationships are just some of the topics that will be covered at ‘DX3 2019.’ More than 60 C-level speakers and 50 exhibitions will on hand at this year’s conference. It takes place March 6 to 7 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON. For information, visit DX3 2019

January 10, 2019

Housing Starts Vary Nationwide

The trend in housing starts was 206,981 units in December, compared to 212,338 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. Housing starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) continued trending lower in December, ending the year with an 11 per cent decrease compared to December 2017 despite that rental units rose by 40 per cent in response to a tight rental market. Edmonton, AB, starts also trended lower at 12 per cent below the same period a year ago, driven by the current economic climate in Alberta. The Toronto, ON, CMA saw the most apartment starts ever recorded and overall housing starts were up six per cent from a year ago. Housing starts in the Montreal, QC, area increased slightly (one per cent)compared to last year. The decline recorded in the construction of condos (six per cent) during this period was more than offset by rental apartment starts which grew eight per cent), hitting a 30-year record high. Housing starts for the province of Quebec were flat compared to 2017. Starts in Halifax, NS, picked up (six per cent) due to a rise in apartment construct while starts in Prince Edward Island were 156 per cent higher in December compared to a year ago. This growth was dominated by multiples which grew 347 per cent).

RONA Gets Manitoba Affiliated Dealer

A Teulon, MB, store has joined the Lowe’s Canada RONA affiliated dealer network. RONA Rockwood was acquired in December by Marc and Lori Palsson, who also own the RONA dealer store in Gimli, MB. They will completely remerchandise and reconfigure the store to provide an expanded offering. “We wanted to bring the Canadian how-to expertise we developed in our Gimli location to more customers in the Interlake region,” says Marc Palsson. “The Teulon location was ideal, already providing stellar customer service with a complementary offering, and optimally located to facilitate transfers of equipment and resources between the stores.” The 10,000-square-foot store features a 130,000-square-foot adjacent lumberyard. The conversion of the store to the RONA banner will bring new product categories such as seasonal and home decor, as well as a wider product assortment in current categories such as power tools, including the introduction of a selection of CRAFTSMAN products. The store will remain open during the transition with a grand opening ceremony planned for the spring.

Consumers Want Simple And Practical Smart Features

When it comes to smart homes, consumers crave smart features that are easy to understand and are a practical and efficient addition to their everyday household tasks, says a survey by Whirlpool Corporation. The vast majority (72 per cent) of consumers are looking for simpler, faster ways to help manage their lives and over half admit to feeling that cooking (52 per cent) and doing laundry (58 per cent) take up more than the preferred amount of time. Consumers are also immensely interested in smart appliances that manage water usage and help them save money. Seventy-four per cent are interested in features that reduce food waste and 78 per cent want smart appliances that save them money. Two in three respondents actively seek out products that can be personalized to their unique preferences.

WD-40 Sales Up Four Per Cent

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $101.3 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year. This is an increase of four per cent compared to the first quarter of the 2018 year. On a constant currency basis, total net sales for the quarter were $102.4 million, an increase of five per cent compared to the prior year quarter. Net sales for the Americas segment increased four per cent. Net income was $13.3 million, an increase of five per cent year-over-year. Gross margin percentage was 55.1 per cent compared to 55.5 per cent.

Swank Becoming COO

C. Eric Swank is chief operating officer of Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. He was previously chief commercial officer. As COO, Swank will lead Beacon’s $6 billion roofing and exterior products business, in addition to having company-wide responsibility for sales, marketing, and supply chain. He joined the company 15 years ago.

January 9, 2019

Fraudulent Returns Hurting Economy

Of the $369 billion value of returned merchandise in the U.S. in 2018, $18 billion to $24 billion were fraudulent returns, says a report on organized retail crime by Appriss Retail. The costs do not include the overhead a retailer incurs when receiving, sorting, and repackaging useable goods for resale. The report finds that 38 per cent of retailers have had an increase in online purchases returned to bricks-and-mortar stores. In 2018, return fraud and abuse cost American workers between 607,400 and 789,600 jobs. In addition, return fraud and abuse cost states between $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion in lost sales tax. The report shows that for every $100 in returns, retailers lose $5 to return fraud throughout the year. At the holidays, that amount is estimated to increase to $6.50.

G. D’Aoust & Cia Awarded IHA gia

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC-based housewares retailer G. D'Aoust & Cie was awarded the International Housewares Association (IHA) and International Home + Housewares Association’s ‘Global Innovation Award’ (gia) for Canada. G. D’Aoust & Cie is a 117-year-old store that says it is “always on the lookout for the latest trends” in decor and fashion. The store is 20,000 square feet and offers clothing, decoration items, kitchen tools, gourmet products, and high-end furniture. The gia program was created by the IHA and International Home + Housewares Show to foster innovation and excellence in home and housewares retailing throughout the world. Since the launch of gia in 2000, there have been more than 430 gia retail award winners, from 47 countries on six continents.

Consumers Will Rediscover Low-Tech Solutions

Home trends will see a return to tried and true household tools in 2019, as smart appliances, internet of things (IoT), and apps face competition from low-tech solutions, says home and lifestyle expert Vicky Sanderson. She says consumers have technology fatigue. “They realize it's had some negative effect on overall well-being, and they want a less harried lifestyle.” In the home, the movement will be reflected in a renewed enthusiasm for everything from mortars and pestles to hand-operated food processors and coffee grinders. Because simplifying life can also take the form of off-loading household tasks, handyperson services will continue to grow. As well, increased appetite for hand-made home goods will drive décor trends and revitalize boutique retail spaces, and mass merchants will strive to offer more local or regional craft, textile, and tabletop items, says Sanderson. The technology that will flourish will be products that make home tech easier to use, such as switches that turn ‘dumb’ appliances and fixtures into smart versions and those that support health and safety.

PFB Corp. Launches Website

Insulating building products manufacturer PFB Corporation has launched a revamped website. The site, which comes on the heels of the company’s 50th anniversary, has been designed to be full responsive with an interactive experience. It provides simple options, easy-to-identify buttons, and up-to-the-minute stock information.

Rodier Leads Guillevin

Luc Rodier is president and chief executive officer at Guillevin International. Previously, he was chief operating officer. He joined Guillevin in 2017, after 11 years with RONA.

January 8, 2019

GTA Home Sales Drop

There were a total of 77,426 residential transactions in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in 2018, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This is a 16.1 per cent decline compared to 92,263 sales in 2017. Total new listings entered into TREB's MLS System were down by 12.7 per cent over the same period to 155,823. Higher borrowing costs coupled with the new mortgage stress test certainly prompted some households to temporarily move to the sidelines to reassess their housing options. However, market conditions were improved in the second half of the year, both from a sales and pricing standpoint, says TREB. After spiking in 2017, new listings receded markedly in 2018. In many neighbourhoods, despite fewer sales from a historic perspective, some buyers still struggled to find a home meeting their needs. The result was a resumption of a moderate year-over-year pace of home price growth in the second half of the year.

Lowe’s Companies To Fill More Than 65,000 Jobs In 2019

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. plans to hire more than 65,000 associates this year to improve customer service and product availability at its U.S. stores. Supporting its recently announced growth strategy, these hiring investments include more than 50,000 seasonal positions, nearly 10,000 permanent associates as part of a merchandising service team focused on best-in-class inventory management, and more than 2,000 technology roles including software engineers, data scientists, and other digital positions to build and enhance core technology capabilities and deliver on the retailer’s omnichannel strategy. As part of this strategic effort, the company has reduced some in-store support functions to simplify operations, including discontinuing the project specialist interiors program. The company will continue to provide interior installations, such as cabinets, countertops, and flooring, as well as its project specialist exteriors program to support customers in exterior projects such as roofing, siding, fencing, and windows.

U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Grew 5.1 Per Cent

Holiday sales in the U.S. increased 5.1 per cent to more than $850 billion, the strongest growth in the last six years, says Mastercard’s ‘SpendingPulse.’ Online shopping also saw large gains of 19.1 per cent compared to 2017. Home improvement spending continued to surge across the U.S. with spending during the holiday season up nine per cent year-over-year. This trend started before the holiday season and helped the sector power through to a strong finish. Department stores finished the season with a 1.3 per cent decline from 2017. This follows two years with growth below two per cent, some of which can be attributed to store closings. However, the online sales growth for department stores indicated a more positive story, with growth of 10.2 per cent.

Marvin Companies Acquires SIW Windows & Doors

The Marvin Companies has acquired the assets of SIW Windows & Doors and formed a new business venture, SIW Solutions. In partnership with current SIW Windows & Doors ownership, the Marvin Companies is now the majority owner of the new SIW Solutions. Headquartered in Florida, SIW is a manufacturer of impact-resistant windows and doors serving the high-end residential and commercial construction markets. It will form a separate business unit within the Marvin Companies.

Whirlpool Makes Smart Home Voice Commands Smarter

Whirlpool Corporation has made upgrades to its Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice capabilities that include simplified command structures and multi-language functionality for regions around the world. Through the upgrades, specific brand names are no longer needed when requesting the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa complete an action. Consumers will be able to say simply, "Hey Google, preheat the oven to 350 degrees," or "Alexa, set the oven timer to five minutes." In addition, actions for the Google Assistant will be available in multiple languages for owners of select Whirlpool connected appliances in more than 20 countries across the globe.

Bryant Succeeds Gingrich At Home Hardware

Scott Bryant is vice-president, human resources, with Home Hardware Stores Limited. He has been with Home Hardware for almost two decades, most recently in the role of senior director, human resources. He succeeds Stew Gingrich, who retired after 46 years of service.

January 7, 2019

Retail Sales Headed For Low Point

Retail sales were still slowing 10 months into 2018, with gains at just 2.4 per cent year-over-year for the third quarter, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. “At this pace, annual retail sales growth in 2018 is bound to end up as a recent low point, at less than half the 7.1 per cent gain recorded for 2017. There doesn't appear to be anything on the horizon to indicate that things are going to improve soon, although recently rising gasoline prices may provide some false optimism.” Strapagiel says volatile gas prices have tended to distort the retail sales picture in recent years. If gasoline station sales are excluded, 2018 year-to-date retail sales growth would be just 2.3 per cent. Overall, eCommerce represented about 2.8 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending October 2018. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 16.9 per cent year-over-year for the third quarter, but this is less than the 26.5 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digits, and are still much higher than for location-based retail, but growth is slowing down.

Vancouver Home Sales Lowest Since 2000

There were 24,619 home sales in Greater Vancouver, BC, in 2018, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). This is a decrease of 31.6 per cent form 35,993 home sales in 2017 and a 38.4 per cent decrease compared to the 39,943 residential sales in 2016. It says last year’s sales total was 25 per cent below the region’s 10-year sales average. It says high home prices, rising interest rates, and new mortgage requirements and taxes have all contributed to the 2018 market conditions. Home listings in Metro Vancouver reached 53,614 in 2018, up 1.9 per cent compared to 54,655 homes listed in 2017 and a 6.9 per cent decrease compared to the 57,596 homes listed in 2016.

Griffith Building Supply Joins BMR

Griffith Building Supply has joined BMR Group as a Pro dealer. Owners Derek McGrimmon and John Lacourse say they turned to BMR to give the renovation centre new life. The store’s facade and interior layout will be completely redesigned and turn the 1,500-square-foot store into a 3,500-square-foot store. The expansion, which is already underway, will provide more storage space so that the store can offer a wider range of construction materials. The BMR Pro banner is an iteration of the traditional BMR banner, developed to meet the needs of construction and renovation professionals, as well as seasoned do-it-yourselfers.

Windsor Named President

Frank Windsor is president of Rinnai America Corporation. He joined the company as general manager in 2014 and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2016. Prior to joining the company, he spent 23 years with Kohler Company in various leadership position.

Sales Climb For RPM

RPM International Inc. had sales of $1.36 billion for the second quarter of it fiscal 2019 year. This is a 3.6 per cent increase over sales of $1.32 billion in the second quarter of the 2018 year. Fiscal 2019 second-quarter net income was $49.2 million for the quarter, an increase over net income of $95.5 million in the year-ago period. Income before income taxes (IBT) was $66.6 million compared to $109.2 million. Consolidated earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were $96.8 million compared to $131.8 million reported in the year-ago period. The consumer segment generated a 4.1 per cent increase in sales to $432.6 million from $415.4 million in the year-ago quarter. EBIT for the segment was $41.3 million compared to $45.2 million. The company recently launched its ‘MAP to Growth’ operating improvement plan, which is focused on driving greater efficiency and long-term profitability of the business to enhance shareholder value.

January 4, 2019

Manufacturers Experience Renewed Slowdown

Canadian manufacturers experienced a renewed slowdown in growth at the end of 2018, with both production volumes and incoming new work expanding at softer rates than in November. The pace of manufacturing job creation also moderated in December, partly reflecting a drop in business optimism to its weakest since February 2016. At 53.6 in December, down from 54.9 in November, the seasonally adjusted ‘IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index’ (PMI) signalled the weakest improvement in overall business conditions since January 2017. A moderation in output growth to its slowest for two years was a key factor weighing on the PMI in December. Purchasing manufacturers commented on less favourable demand conditions, particularly in the energy sector. There were also reports that global trade frictions had held back export sales during the latest survey period. However, new business volumes continued to rise in December, but at one of the slowest rates seen over the past two years. This partly reflected a stagnation in export sales.

Home Improvement Retailers Maintain Positions

Canadian Tire Corporation Limited (seventh), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (eighth), The Home Depot, Inc. (ninth), Home Hardware Stores Limited (10th), Federated Co-operatives Limited (14th), and Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. (54th) maintained their positions from 2016 to 2017 in terms of estimated retail sales size in Canada, shows the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity’s (CSCA) ‘Retail 100 Profile:2017.’ TIMBER MART moved up one spot from 2016 to 22nd place and J.D. Irving (parent company of Kent Building Supplies) moved up five places to 44. The top three retailers in Canada (based on sales) are Weston Group (parent company of Shoppers Drug Mart, Real Canadian Superstore, etc.), Walmart Inc., and Costco Wholesale Corp.

Housing Affordability Remains Tight

This year is unlikely to provide much housing affordability relief in Canada, says the latest ‘Housing Trends and Affordability Report’ by RBC Economics. The Bank of Canada is expected to hike interest rates further in 2019 which will sustain upward pressure on ownership costs. However, housing prices in several key markets should soften somewhat and household income should continue to rise, providing some offset. RBC's aggregate housing affordability measure increased slightly to 53.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, which is up 1.5 percentage points from a year ago. The housing affordability measure is calculated as a share of household income. A higher number means that buying a home is less affordable. Higher interest rates accounted for the entire increase in RBC's measure in the past. Add the mortgage stress test on top of this and the picture gets even more daunting for many Canadian buyers. The considerable loss in housing affordability in Canada's priciest cities in recent years has prompted many buyers to shift their focus to lower-priced housing options, including condos. The increased demand for condos in turn has fueled prices for these units. RBC's affordability measure for condos in Canada increased by 3.6 percentage points in the past year, compared to only 1.2 percentage points for the single-family detached measure.

Roseburg To Acquire Del-Tin Fiber

Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products has reached an agreement with PotlatchDeltic Corp. to purchase the assets of its subsidiary Del-Tin Fiber LLC, including its medium-density fiberboard (MDF) plant located in Arkansas. The parties expect the sale to close in the first quarter of 2019 after required regulatory approval. The El Dorado MDF plant will continue to operate independently of Roseburg until the transaction closes. Upon closing, the acquisition will be Roseburg's third MDF plant purchase in three years. The company acquired Pembroke MDF in eastern Ontario in early 2018 and a plant in Oregon in 2015. Roseburg currently produces the Arreis, Medite, Medite FR, and Medex product lines. The EL Dorado MDF plant was built in 1998 and features a nine-foot-wide Kusters continuous press.

January 3, 2019

Businesses Confident About 2019

Most businesses do not predict a recession in 2019, says a survey from Express Employment Professionals. At the end of 2018, businesses showed confidence in the economy, with many predicting continued growth and tight labour markets. Only one per cent of Canadian businesses surveyed said they expect a recession in the next three months, while eight per cent expect one in three to six months. Less than one quarter (24 per cent) believe a recession will arrive anytime in 2019. Express says last year, companies added shifts and grew their workforces, which are positive indicators of growth. These hiring trends are expected to continue into 2019. The biggest challenge for this year will be attracting and retaining top talent. Other concerns for the new year include the downturn in the oil and gas industry and the impact from economic and trade instability south of the border. Looking at the big picture, the Canadian economy will be on a strong footing, says Bill Stoller, CEO of Express.

CPCA Lobbies For TiO2

The European Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intention to proceed with a number of regulatory actions including the proposal to classify titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a ‘Category 2 Carcinogen’ under the EU’s ‘Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation.’ If allowed to proceed, this regulation will cause significant global trade disruptions that will impact Canadian industries including paint and coatings. The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) has been engaged on this issue through its membership in the International Paint and Print Ink Council (IPPIC) and its member associations in Europe. The WTO notification allows for non-European countries to engage on the issue as it is a Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT). CPCA is now engaging with Canadian trade authorities regarding the significant and unwarranted socio-economic and trade impacts that would result from the proposed classification, which would provide no benefits for the protection of human health. CPCA says TiO2 is an inert inorganic compound that is used as a white pigment in applications such as the manufacture of paints, coatings, printing inks, and wallcoverings. The pigment plays a critical role in providing essential product properties including whiteness, covering power, brightness, stability, and durability of colour that cannot be achieved with other raw materials. Titanium dioxide is also used in many other consumer products. The powder form of titanium dioxide presents zero risk to consumers when incorporated in a finished product such as paint. Consumers and professionals using paint or ink products cannot be exposed to the powder form of TiO2, once it is embedded in a paint or printing ink.

Christmas Less Expensive Than In Good Old Days

The ‘goods’ in a ‘Christmas basket’ cost about half as much today as they did in 1984 when their cost is measured in hours of work, shows a publication by MEI. For example, for a 20-inch cathode-ray tube colour television, a worker had to work 49 hours in 1984, or more than a full workweek. In 2018, a worker could buy a 20-inch flat screen colour television by spending just nine hours on the job, barely more than a single day of work, says David Descôteaux, public policy analyst at the MEI and author of the publication. He also gives the example of a cordless telephone for the home, which required almost 10 hours of work in 1984. Yet in 2018, just two hours and a quarter would suffice for a similar, but superior, product. Even for consumption goods without a significant technological component, today's shopper stands to save, if somewhat less spectacularly. For instance, the hours of work needed to buy a circular saw (4.5 hours in 1984 versus 2.5 hours in 2018) or an iron (3.5 hours in 1984 versus two hours in 2018) have also fallen. “By reconstructing a basket of goods that could be found underneath a family's Christmas tree, we can see that the goods in the 2018 basket cost around half of what those from 1984 cost, measured in hours of work — the average difference being 47 per cent.”

PPG To Acquire Whitford Worldwide

PPG will acquire Whitford Worldwide Company, a global manufacturer that specializes in low-friction and non-stick coatings for industrial applications and consumer products. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter 2019. PPG says the acquisition will further drive value for its customers and shareholders by enhancing its range of product offerings, research, and development capabilities as well as its global market reach in the growing industrial coatings sector.

Shirk CIO At Masonite

Dan Shirk is senior vice-president and chief information officer at Masonite International Corporation. He has more than 25 years of IT, operations, and general management experience, most recently as vice-president, information systems and project management office (PMO), for Ascena Retail Group.

January 2, 2019

New U.S. Construction Starts Slip In November

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $789.3 billion, new construction starts in November decreased seven per cent from October’s elevated amount, says Dodge Data & Analytics. Most of the total construction decline in the latest month was the result of non-residential building pulling back 15 per cent after its 43 per cent surge in October. The other two major construction sectors witnessed slightly reduced activity in November, with residential building down one per cent and non-building construction down two per cent. November’s data produced a reading of 167 for the index, down from a revised 179 for October and returning the index to a level closer to the 166 average for the full year 2017. With regard to residential building, multi-family housing has seen renewed growth in 2018 after its loss of momentum in 2017, but single family housing has essentially plateaued following the advances registered at the outset of 2018. Residential building in November was $327.5 billion (annual rate), down one per cent from October.

Castle Staff Helps Mississauga Food Bank

Staff from Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. took part in sorting and packaging close to 5,000 pounds of food donations at the local Mississauga, ON, food bank. This total was the equivalent of almost 6,000 meals for local residents in need. Castle staff also made a donation of $1,200 which was collected over the past year through weekly staff contributions.

Therma-Tru Launches Installer Training Program

Therma-Tru Corp. has partnered with OSI brand to create the ‘Certified Door System Installer Training Program’ to better serve trade professionals by educating them on the best practices for sealing and installing its door systems. Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive a certificate and credential card. The online-based program is free of charge and includes step-by-step videos featuring experts from Therma-Tru and OSI that guide the user through new or replacement door system installation. The videos cover a variety of topics including identifying necessary tools, correct removal of an existing door, the best way to seal an opening and install a new door, adding finishing touches, and more. The training program also offers a lesson from OSI on building science and wall barriers. And, program participants have access to supplemental video content and job aids for quick reference on the jobsite, including instructions that can be viewed digitally or as print.

Loyalty Based On Returns

Much like everything else, consumers want choice and convenience when it comes to returning items purchased online, says supply chain solutions provider Voxware. A study by the company shows that 88 per cent of consumers want to have the option to return products to a physical store or through a pre-paid shipping method. As well, 95 per cent of consumers say how well retailers handle returns influences their decision to order from them again. As many as 30 per cent of consumers have returned items purchased online due to some sort of online error “and that is just unacceptable,” says Keith Phillips, president and CEO of Voxware. “Retailers need to evaluate their existing distribution operations processes and technology to ensure they have the capabilities to deliver the right product to the right customer at the right time.” This is important because one-third of customers will abandon shopping with a retailer altogether if they receive a single incorrect item from that retailer. Those who don’t abandon shopping with the retailer want the error fixed immediately. Yet, 40 per cent of consumers report receiving an incorrect item after returning the first incorrect item.

Growth In Wood Adhesives Promising

Growth opportunities in the global wood adhesives market look promising over the next six years, says Frost & Sullivan in its report, ‘Global Wood Adhesives Market, Forecast to 2024.’ The market is expected to witness significant growth rates due to rising volume demand for wood adhesive applications in the furniture and building and construction industries. The market is forecast to reach $33.68 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent between 2017 and 2024. “While regulatory requirements are pushing high demand for resin chemistries, there is a growing need for adhesive technologies with niche applications,” says Ganesh Dabholkar, senior research analyst, visionary science at Frost & Sullivan. He says manufacturers who focus on developing zero and ultra-low formaldehyde- and volatile organic compounds (VOC)-emitting resin chemistries will secure preferential customer purchase and lucrative revenue prospects. Manufacturers should focus on brand equity, customer loyalty, technical support, and global sales and distribution networks.

December 21, 2018

Slight Increase In Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales rose one per cent to $63.8 billion in October, more than offsetting the 0.7 per cent decline in September, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing about 68 per cent of total wholesale sales. The machinery, equipment and supplies, and the personal and household goods subsectors contributed the most to the gains in October, while the motor vehicle and parts subsector posted the largest decline. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.9 per cent. The machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector rose 2.8 per cent to $13.4 billion in October, a third increase in four months. Sales were up in three of four industries, led by the farm, lawn and garden machinery, and equipment industry at an increase of 9.4 per cent, its first increase in four months. Sales in the personal and household goods subsector were up 3.1 per cent to $9.3 billion while sales in the building material and supplies subsector decreased 1.2 per cent to $9.3 billion, the second decline in three months. Two of three industries were down, led by the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (-3.5 per cent). Sales increased in four provinces, which together represented about 71 per cent of total wholesale sales, led by Ontario and Quebec. Lower sales were reported in all four western provinces, led by Alberta. Inventories increased for the seventh time in eight months with a 1.4 per cent increase in the building material and supplies subsector, the seventh gain in 2018.

King Marketing Holds First National Sales Meeting

King Marketing moved from holding regional sales meetings to having one national sales meeting for the first time this year and it took place in Niagara Falls, ON, in December. The agency invited 10 of its key manufacturers to present to the 55 King sales representatives and managers in attendance. Key manufacturer principles from Bosch, Lepage, Blanco, Schlage, Mirolin, Norton, Senco, Renin, Lutron, and Nuvo Iron provided training sessions that included hands-on workshops. After team building events in the evenings, the week concluded with King’s annual awards which included the presentation of King Marketing’s ‘Peddler of the Year’ award to Jim Calce, a key account manager based in Ontario.

New home market back to typical levels in November

In November, the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market saw more typical activity levels ‒ both in new home sales and new project openings ‒ after a relatively strong October, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 2,823 new homes sold in November. Condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 2,454 new home sales, down 24 per cent from the same period a year ago, but only six per cent less than the 10-year average. Single-family home sales, with 369 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up eight per cent from last November but down 71 per cent from the 10-year average. Remaining inventory increased month over month, to 16,797 units, comprised of 11,254 condo apartment units and 5,543 single family units. The benchmark price for both condo apartments and single-family homes increased slightly compared to the previous month.

Wholesaler Revenue Up 10 Per Cent

The operating revenue of Canadian wholesalers increased 10.4 per cent in 2017, topping the $1 trillion mark, which was last reached in 2014. The increase was led by the petroleum products subsector, but all the other subsectors also reported higher revenue. Excluding petroleum products, operating revenue increased 5.5 per cent compared with 2016. Overall, the operating profits of wholesalers as a percentage of total operating revenue edged down from 4.8 per cent in 2016 to 4.6 per cent in 2017, as increases in operating revenue were offset by higher operating expenses and the cost of goods sold. The cost of goods sold, which accounted for 83.5 per cent of total operating revenue, increased 11.5 per cent to $881.1 billion in 2017. This was driven by growth in the cost of goods sold in the petroleum subsector. Gross margins for wholesalers ‒ the difference between total operating revenue and the cost of goods sold expressed as a percentage of total operating revenue ‒ decreased from 17.3 per cent in 2016 to 16.5 per cent in 2017. Excluding petroleum products, wholesale gross margins were 21.1 per cent in 2017. Expressed as a percentage of total operating revenue, gross margins fell from 17.3 per cent in 2016 to 16.5 per cent in 2017. Lower gross margins were reported by five of the nine subsectors.

Pella Acquires Avanti

Pella Corporation has acquired Avanti, a vinyl window and patio door manufacturer based in Arizona. This acquisition will expand Pella’s footprint in the southwestern region of the U.S. and leverage Avanti’s expertise and capabilities in providing express customer service and in turnkey window and door installation. The acquisition provides resources to help Avanti further grow its business as it will remain a stand-alone company.

December 20, 2018

Slower Growth Forecast For GDP

Canada's economy is facing headwinds on several fronts. Consumer spending will be restrained by a combination of weaker employment and wage growth, high debt loads, and rising interest rates. Meanwhile, the drop in oil prices and lack of pipeline capacity will continue to constrain investment in Canada's energy sector. Government spending is also expected to slow due to rising fiscal deficits. In all, the Conference Board of Canada expects Canada's GDP to grow by 1.9 per cent in 2019, easing from an expected 2.1 per cent gain this year. “Canada's economy is facing a few challenges heading into 2019. Consumer spending has been driving economic growth over the last several years, but Canadians are tightening their purse strings. Economic growth in 2019 will depend on improved business investment and a better performance from the non-energy trade sector,” says Matthew Stewart, director, national forecast, the Conference Board of Canada. It says energy investment should receive a lift from the signing of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement (CUSMA) and new federal measures that allow for accelerated write-off of several types of investments. Assuming that the U.S. Congress passes the trade bill, some of the uncertainty that had restrained investment spending should be alleviated. The CUSMA should also help boost Canada's export performance. A pickup in non-energy exports is forecast for 2019, but growth will be limited by weak investment and high capacity utilization rates in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing Sales Edge Down

Manufacturing sales edged down 0.1 per cent in October to $58.2 billion, following four increases in the previous five months, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales at wood product and primary metal industries were largely offset by higher sales at food and machinery industries. Overall, sales were down in seven of 21 industries, representing 40.5 per cent of the manufacturing sector. Sales of durable goods decreased 0.9 per cent to $30 billion, while sales of non-durable goods rose 0.7 per cent to $28.3 billion. Constant dollar sales increased 0.2 per cent, indicating a higher volume of goods sold. Sales at wood product manufacturers were down for the fifth consecutive month, falling 7.5 per cent to $2.6 billion in October. Wood sales typically increase in October, but many factors led to the decrease in sales this year, notably the continued decline in prices and timber supply shortages. In constant dollars, sales volumes of wood products fell five per cent. Machinery sales rose 2.9 per cent in October to $3.4 billion, led by higher sales in the agricultural, construction, and mining machinery as well as the other general-purpose machinery industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.44 in September to 1.46 in October. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

U.S. Home Builder Sentiment Drops

Home builder sentiment in the U.S. dropped in December to its lowest point in more than three years while potential buyers hesitate to purchase new homes even as mortgage rates have pulled back in the past month, says the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo ‘Housing Market Index.’ Homebuilder sentiment declined four points in December to 56. That is the lowest reading since May 2015 and well below December 2017's level of 74. This comes after an eight-point drop in November. Anything above 50, however, is considered positive sentiment. The index shows that mortgage rates jumped at the start of 2017 and then again in September to the highest level in eight years. They fell back slightly in November but were still nearly a full percentage point higher than a year ago. Newly-built homes come at a price premium to existing homes and are thus more sensitive to any changes in affordability, especially as U.S. mortgage rates are expected to move higher in 2019. Home builders have been focused on the move-up and luxury sectors, even though demand for entry-level homes is high. Builders say that given the high costs of land, labour, and materials, they are unable to build as many starter homes as they might like. Home prices for new and existing homes have soared over the past few years, as demand dramatically outpaced supply.

Consumers Prefer In-Store Shopping

More than 70 per cent of consumers prefer to shop for consumer goods either in-store or online from retailers with a physical presence, as opposed to 29 per cent who shop primarily online, says DXC Technology and IDC. Contrary to increasingly common belief, a survey by the organizations revealed that showrooming strengthens bricks-and-mortar stores, with 36 per cent of consumers buying in-store after exploring products online. Ninety-four per cent of shoppers say a store associate’s help is important in feeling confident they are buying the right product. Consumers are more likely to feel satisfied with their purchases when shopping in-store than with pure-play eCommerce retailers. In fact, the survey shows more than 60 per cent of consumers are confident with their purchases when they make them in-store and strongly appreciate the ability to return products conveniently and hassle-free to retail locations. eCommerce retailers did score high on convenience, however. More than 50 per cent of consumers describe their overall online shopping experiences as convenient, quick, and simple. They also say that eCommerce players help them discover their likes and find what suits them.

ASSA ABLOY Acquires Lorient

ASSA ABLOY has acquired Lorient, a designer and manufacturer of high performance door sealing systems based in the UK with half of sales exported outside of the UK and EU. The company offers a strong position in the fire protection market and allows ASSA ABLOY to offer a comprehensive door sealing portfolio alongside drop-down seals and finger protection solutions from Planet GDZ, which was acquired earlier this year.

Granite Tile Market Not Impacted By Tariffs

Prices for granite and marble have remained constant for 2018 and big box retailers have even seen a small drop in these prices during the third and fourth quarters, despite government tariffs imposed on China, says a study by TilesForMyHome.com. It says this small drop for big boxes may be attributed to a slowing real estate market in most of the U.S. China is a major supplier of granite tiles in the U.S. and many industry analysts expected recently enacted tariffs to raise prices. There has, however, been a disruption in some parts of the industry. Granite slabs and countertop prices have increased substantially. Major big box retailers are charging as much as 20 per cent more than last year for large slabs of stone. The price increase is also seen in the quartz and marble stone markets. It says in 2018, importers have been forced to learn several new tariff classifications for the natural stone market. The new tariff classifications have become increasingly focused on details such as surface coating and thickness. Countertops and large slabs are impacted more by such regulations.

LG Partnerships Will Better Integrate Connected Homes

As part of its development of the smart kitchen, LG Electronics has partnered with Drop, the developer of the Drop KitchenOS platform. The partnership will play a key role in creating a better culinary experience with better integration of kitchen appliances into the connected home. LG has also partnered with Innit and SideChef to give consumers access to a wider range of smart cuisine recommendations. To provide more flexible ways to connect to the wealth of smart recipes available to the smart kitchen, LG is adding its XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display to the family. This stereo speaker with built-in AI includes Google Assistant for a hands-free option to cooking. The eight inch touchscreen displays personalized recipes from Innit. The company has also introduced a beer-making machine, LG HomeBrew, to round out its smart kitchen portfolio.

Slatescape Named Royal Building Products’ 2019 Colour Trend

Slatescape is Royal Building Products’ ‘2019 Exterior Colour Trend of the Year.’ Evoking the hue of a storm-churned wave, Slatescape is a fresh take on the prominence of grey in exterior colour trends in recent years. This mid-tone, blue-grey is a versatile shade that works equally well with other soft neutrals, as it does with brighter, punchier colours. The Slatescape tone has inspired colours which are available across Royal Building Products’ portfolio of siding products including Royal Vinyl Siding (Storm) and Celect Cellular Composite Siding (Coastline). The company has added several trending colours in shades of grey, blue, and brown to its 2019 siding portfolio including Castle Stone, Urban Bronze, and Rockslide.

Broadview Industries Acquires Formica

Broadview Industries has acquired Ohio-based Formica Group from Fletcher Building. Broadview is a Netherlands-based industrial firm that sells high-pressure laminate and associated product lines. The sale includes Formica businesses in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as its Homapal metal laminates business. The Formica Group invented laminate in 1913 and creates branded, designed surfacing solutions for commercial and residential customers worldwide. Broadview currently owns Trespa (exterior compact siding), Arpa (HPL and the Fenix product line), and Westag (HPL and a large-scale fabricator). Broadview says the two businesses are complimentary with a strong strategic alignment. Formica brings a global reach with its operational and commercial capabilities and Broadview brings unique and innovative product technologies.

Northstar Appliances Offered In Pantone’s 2019 Colour

Elmira Stove Works, a manufacturer of premium vintage-styled kitchen appliances, now offers its Northstar line of retro appliances in Pantone's ‘2019 Colour of the Year’ – Living Coral. The complete line of Northstar appliances ‒ including refrigerators, ranges, range hoods and splashbacks, microwaves, and dishwashers ‒ can be ordered in Living Coral as a custom colour. Each December, the Pantone Color Institute predicts which colour will be front and centre in home decor and fashion during the coming year. It describes Living Coral as a vibrant, yet mellow, hue that is warm and nourishing.

December 19, 2018

CREA Lowers Home Sale Forecast

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has revised its forecast for home sales activity due to policies, rising interest rates, and growth in home prices in some regions. National home sales are now projected to post a double-digit decline in 2018, falling to the lowest level in five years despite supportive population and job growth. In 2019, home sales activity and prices are expected to be held in check by recent policy changes from different levels of government and additional interest rate increases. National sales are projected to decline by 11.2 per cent to 458,200 units in 2018. British Columbia and Ontario will account for the lion's share of the decline. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador will also fall to multi-year lows. By contrast, activity remains historically strong in Quebec and in the Maritimes, particularly in New Brunswick. The national average price is projected to ease to $488,600 this year, down 4.2 per cent from 2017. Sales are forecast to remain little changed in 2019, down 0.5 per cent to 456,200 units. The national average price is forecast to rebound by 1.7 per cent to $496,800 in 2019.

CTS Building Supplies Joins TIMBER MART

Lumber and building material (LBM) dealer CTS Building Supplies Ltd. has joined TIMBER MART. The Toronto, ON-based business says it joined the group for better buying power in its key building material categories as well as access to Spancan vendor-direct programs. CTS Building Supplies, owned by Ranjith Kones, was founded in 2013 and, since then, has expanded its product range to include a wide variety of building materials and hardware including tools, plumbing and electrical products, lumber, flooring, and insulation. The business caters to the home-renovation market.

Ethics, Returns, Sales Tax Dominate 2019 eCommerce Trends

Ethical eCommerce, the end of free returns, and the addition of sales taxes are among the top eCommerce trends for 2019, says eCommerce agency Absolunet. Consumer values will strongly influence purchasing and merchant behaviour and those values do not include wasteful packaging or any negative influences on the environment, says the company. With return costs up 53 per cent since 2015, consumers will likely start to pay for them in the future. They will also have to start paying applicable sales taxes on all purchases, and merchants will have to manage sales taxes for multiple jurisdictions. Mobile and social media eCommerce will continue to grow, as well as QR codes, which will start to fill their potential and help brands provide product information. More retailers will open digital marketplaces going forward and they will use artificial intelligence to create more and better product content, improve SEO, and merchandising. Brands and manufacturers will also reclaim control of their product content, says Absolunet.

Digital Clutter Overwhelming Consumers

Facing an explosion of digital clutter resulting from two decades of rapid technology growth and innovation, people and organizations are rethinking what they really want, says a report by Accenture. Years of organizational investment in innovation have left customers feeling inundated and overwhelmed, straining the demands on their time and attention. Whereas once they craved the novelty, excitement, and instant gratification, they now crave more quiet and meaning in a noisy world. People and organizations are doing some soul-searching about what they really value, rejecting products and services that don’t meet their needs ‒ in effect, changing the nature of their relationships with technology and brands. This mindset shift has major implications and creates massive opportunities for organizations and for customer experience, says the report. It’s time to take stock and rethink products, services, and experiences that people actually want and value. Some of the trends the report identifies include mindful design showing quiet in a noisy world; sustainability; less clutter and more meeting of real-time needs; and inclusivity.

Rust-Oleum Acquires Siamons International

RPM International Inc.’s subsidiary Rust-Oleum Group has acquired Ontario-based Siamons International Inc., provider of the Concrobium brand of non-toxic specialty mould cleaners. As part of this acquisition, Rust-Oleum will strengthen Concrobium's retail presence, introduce it to new market categories, and leverage its customer base to accelerate distribution of other specialty cleaning brands in Canada. In addition, Rust-Oleum will expand Concrobium on an international scale. RPM says the Concrobium brand is an excellent strategic fit for Rust-Oleum’s specialty cleaning product portfolio.

Amazon To Build Second Alberta Fulfillment Centre

Amazon plans to build a fulfillment centre in Leduc County, AB, by 2020. The one million square-foot customer facility will be Amazon's second in Alberta. Once open, it will be Amazon's 11th fulfillment facility in Canada. Associates at the centre will pick, pack, and ship larger customer items such as outdoor equipment, patio furniture, and bicycles. The company also has fulfillment centres in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. The project is being developed by ONE Properties and TD Greystone Asset Management.

Home Hardware Reorganizes Merchandise Department

Marianne Thompson is vice-president, merchandise LBM, with Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective January 7. She has held key executive roles in the home improvement industry, most recently as senior vice-president of North American sales at Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors. Joel Marks has been appointed to vice-president, merchandise hardlines. He was previously vice-president. The appointments come as part of the company’s reorganization of its merchandise department which will consist of two new dedicated merchandise teams responsible for all sourcing.

December 18, 2018

National Home Sales Decline

National home sales fell 2.3 per cent from October to November, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down by 12.6 per cent from November 2017. The number of newly-listed homes declined 3.3 per cent from October while home prices increased two per cent year-over-year. The national average sale price retreated by 2.9 per cent year-over-year. Transactions declined in just over half of all local markets, with lower activity in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA), the Greater Vancouver, BC, Area (GVA), and Hamilton-Burlington, ON, offsetting increased sales in Edmonton, AB. “National sales activity has lost a bit of momentum over the past couple of months, but local market trends can be, and very often are, different by comparison,” says Barb Sukkau, president of CREA. The decline in homeownership affordability is directly related to the new mortgage stress test in place. While national home sales were anticipated to recover in the wake of a large drop in activity earlier this year due to the introduction of the stress test, the rebound appears to have run its course. There were 5.4 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of November. While this remains in line with its long-term average of 5.3 months, the number of months of inventory is well above its long-term average in the Prairie provinces as well as in Newfoundland & Labrador. By contrast, the measure is well below its long-term average in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. In other provinces, sales and inventory are more balanced.

Lowe’s Announces Strategic Improvements

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has completed a detailed reassessment of its business and will implement process and technology improvements to position the retailer to “win in today’s complex retail environment,” says Marvin R. Ellison, president and CEO. “These transformational changes will take time, but will enable Lowe’s associates to better focus on serving customers and capture significant market opportunities.” The strategies, which come in the wake of the crash of the company’s U.S. website on Black Friday, include offering a $10 billion common stock repurchase program, adding new stores, reducing expenses, and hiring roughly 2,000 software engineers in the coming years to ramp up its online presence.

Consumers Becoming More Demanding

Consumers are becoming less forgiving and more high maintenance. A study by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) Marketing Advisory Council and WisePlum shows consumers don't want to wait in line for a cashier and they don't want any hassles when they purchase online. They are expecting a more convenient, seamless, and integrated shopping experience no matter how they shop. They are also more likely to switch retailers who do not provide a perfect experience. The study shows that since the first Canadian eCommerce transactions 20 years ago, consumers have been willing to accept some fulfillment and service issues that come with online shopping, but that is changing. Within the last five years, new technology, tech-savvy consumers, and the growth of mobile have contributed to significant eCommerce growth. Along with that growth, consumers are becoming increasingly intolerant of frustrations, especially with online purchases. Of those surveyed, 67 per cent report having a problem with online purchases while only 41 per cent of consumers say the same of in-store purchases. Considered up until now to be a convenience driver, online is becoming the Achilles' heel of retail. While consumers want choices, they are increasing their demand for physical locations nearby in order to complete their experience.

Prepaid Cards Top Wish Lists This Holiday Season

Prepaid cards topped Canadian wish lists this holiday season because the cards can be widely used to buy exactly what the recipient wants, says a survey by the Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization (CPPO). It also shows that Canadians prefer to give prepaid cards as a way to stick to a holiday spending budget. Prepaid cards carry the card brand of American Express, Mastercard, or Visa and can be used wherever the card network is accepted, including in stores and online. They can only access the set amount of pre-loaded funds. After prepaid cards, consumers say they would like store gift cards redeemable at specific retailers. Fifty-seven per cent of Canadians plan to purchase either a prepaid or gift card as a gift this holiday season.

Technology Key To Overcoming Labour Shortages

Three-quarters of U.S. contractors believe advanced technologies may improve labour productivity on jobsites despite concerns over labour shortages, says the ‘Q4 2018 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index.’ The report finds that just over half of contractors currently use technologies like drones, equipment tagging, wearable technology, and augmented/virtual reality for their projects and 74 per cent anticipate adopting such technologies over the next three years. Moreover, 58 per cent of contractors also report difficulty finding skilled workers – the highest level reported in 2018 – suggesting that as builders look for ways to contend with a scarce talent pool, investments in technology could help bridge the gap of labour. In fact, if demonstrated, improved labour productivity was reported by 66 per cent of contractors as the top reason for companies to invest in advanced technologies. Notably, all the technologies included in the study are expected to increase in use over the next three years, but wearable technologies such as sensors are expected to grow the most. While only six per cent of contractors currently report using this type of innovation, the number who anticipate its use over the next three years more than triples to 23 per cent. Contractors view wearable technologies as one of the top ways to improve safety (83 per cent), workforce management (56 per cent), and productivity (36 per cent). In general, about half of all contractors consider key project performance indicators like schedule, budgets, and safety to be some of the top benefits of investing in technologies.

Tarkett Moves Portfolio To One Brand

Flooring manufacturer Tarkett North America has transitioned its sub-brands of Johnsonite, Tandus Centiva, Desso, and Lexmark to Tarkett. The company will be transitioning collateral over the ensuing months. The company says the integration is a natural progression that will enable it to continue creating great spaces and better align its segment expertise in commercial, residential, and hospitality spaces under a single brand. Tarkett North America will cohesively address market needs with one brand ‒ the TARKETT SOLUTION SPECtrum.

December 17, 2018

Entrepreneurial Spirit Key To Canadian Landscape

All in all, 2018 was a good year – excellent for businesses, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, 'Insights,' he says with sectors of the economy operating at full speed, “it became even more clear to me this year just how crucial entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit is to the Canadian landscape and our mutual successes.” He adds that as a community, we need to collaborate with all segments of our industry to nurture respect and transparency in today’s turbulent times. “Trust is the cornerstone of business, and together we can navigate the changing business climates better than we ever could alone.” Building that trust is the foundation of creating a customer experience that communicates brand and fosters loyalty. And, a business’s brand is the key to its success. There is “much to be learned from each other when looking through the lens of achieving mutual benefit.” He says entrepreneurs’ success is built on trust through relationship building with their customers and vendors. And, despite challenges they must inevitably tackle, “if we work together, we’ll come out the other end of 2019 wiser and better for it.”

U.S. November Retail Sales Increase Five Per Cent

November retail sales in the U.S. were up 0.7 per cent seasonally adjusted from October and increased five per cent unadjusted year-over-year, completing the first half of the holiday shopping season with spending on track to meet the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) forecast, it says. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. NRF’s forecast predicts that holiday retail sales during November and December will increase between 4.3 and 4.8 per cent over the same period in 2017 for a total between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. As of November, the three-month moving average was up 4.3 per cent over the same period a year ago. The November results build on improvement seen in October, which was up the same 0.7 per cent monthly and 5.6 per cent year-over-year. Online and other non-store sales were up 12.1 per cent year-over-year and up 2.3 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.5 per cent year-over-year but down 0.3 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

Unconventional eMail Themes Drive Engagement

Unconventional eMail themes like ‘National Dog Day’ and ‘Tax Day’ drove significant engagement outside of the fourth quarter holiday season, says a report by Yes Marketing. After analyzing over six billion eMails sent in the third quarter of this year, the research firm found that eMails with non-traditional themes generated five times the average conversion rate of 3.8 per cent. In fact, leveraging unconventional eMail themes succeeded in entertaining subscribers and driving them to consistently open and click through eMails. Tax Day, for example, drove an impressive 14.3 per cent click-to-open (CTO) rate compared to the 9.2 per cent average and National Dog Day drove a conversion rate of 18.6 per cent, more than four times the average, indicating an opportunity for marketers to generate stronger engagement throughout the year with off-season promotions and sales. The study also identified a decline in the number of new and active subscribers in marketers' databases. The share of new subscribers fell by 24 per cent from the second quarter to the third, while the number of active subscribers in marketers' databases declined by 16.7 per cent over the same period. This decline indicated a gap in marketers' strategies both when it comes to enticing new subscribers and engaging them long-term after they sign up. Interestingly, the mobile CTO rate was 31 per cent higher than its desktop counterpart (14 per cent versus 10.7 per cent).

Global Foamed Insulation To Dominate Insulation Demand

Demand for global foamed insulation is forecast to grow nearly five per cent annually through 2022, says a study by the Freedonia Group. Foamed plastic insulation accounted for the largest share of the market in value terms in 2017. This type of insulation is used in all geographic regions and major end-use markets. Polystyrene, polyurethane, and phenolic foams (in both boards and spray-on applications) are the most common foamed plastic insulation products. Through 2022, foamed plastic is expected to be the fastest growing insulation product, advancing 4.9 per cent annually. Growth will be driven by plastic being the most commonly used material in this market and the material’s high R-values enabling it to gain share from fibreglass and mineral wool products. It also represents comparatively low installation costs relative to other major materials. Global demand for all types of insulation is forecast to rise 4.3 per cent per year to $55.2 billion in 2022, when sales in volume terms, excluding reflective insulation and radiant barriers, will total 31.7 million metric tons.

December 14, 2018

Household Spending Up 2.5 Per Cent

In 2017, the average Canadian household spent $63,723 on goods and services, up 2.5 per cent from 2016, says Statistics Canada. Spending varied across provinces and was highest in Alberta ($72,957) and British Columbia ($71,001), in part due to higher expenditures on shelter in these provinces. Shelter remained the largest budget item for households in 2017, at 29.2 per cent of the total consumption of goods and services. Households spent an average of $18,637 on shelter, up 3.4 per cent from 2016. Included in this total was an average of $16,846 paid for principal residence (which includes rent, mortgage payments, repairs and maintenance costs, property taxes, and utilities) and an average of $1,791 for other accommodation, such as hotels and owned secondary residences. In 2017, two out of every three Canadian households owned their home and more than half of homeowners had a mortgage. Homeowners with a mortgage spent an average of $25,904 on their principal residence, compared with $9,642 for homeowners without a mortgage and $13,499 for renters. Additionally, spending is generally associated with income levels. In 2017, the 20 per cent of Canadian households with the lowest incomes spent an average of $33,764 on goods and services, compared with $105,493 for those in the top 20 per cent of household incomes.

DEWALT Employees Pay It Forward With Groceries

DEWALT employees visited David’s No Frills in Mississauga, ON, on Thursday to make the season merrier for some lucky shoppers. Each employee 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. Employees who did not take part in the event were encouraged to also pay it forward, whether through simply smiling or offering kind words to someone, making a donation, or paying for a meal for a stranger. “Our employees have a long tradition of being involved in their communities, often through organizations that help to make the world a better place. ‘Pay-It-Forward Day’ is one example of our commitment and our desire to help spread goodwill at this special time of the year,” says Joe Di Ilio, president of Stanley Black + Decker Canada, GTS Group.

Dollarama Launches Online Bulk Store

Dollarama has launched an online store in Quebec as part of a pilot project to expand eCommerce offerings across the country. The Canadian dollar store chain will sell items in bulk at a fixed delivery price of $18. Shoppers will have over 1,000 items from Dollarama's online inventory to choose from. The store will serve as a test for the retailer’s eCommerce platform. Before rolling it out across the country, it will see if the model needs any changes. The purpose of the online store is to sell merchandise by the case.

Lightspeed Launches Loyalty Product

Point-of-sale system provider Lightspeed has launched Lightspeed Loyalty which offers a seamless integration of Lightspeed's existing suite of products and enables merchants to engage customers, reward repeat business, and build a loyal following. The product will give retailers the ability to create a dialogue so that first-time guests become regulars and existing customers become more engaged, all from a single platform that can create true brand ambassadors. Features include a rewards program, automated marketing, and customer insights.

December 13, 2018

Newfoundland To Lead National Economy

Thanks to higher offshore oil production, Newfoundland and Labrador will go from having the weakest provincial economy this year to the front of the pack in 2019, says the Conference Board of Canada's ‘Provincial Outlook: Autumn 2018.’ Most provinces, however, can expect weaker economic growth of below two per cent next year. Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy is forecast to expand by more than five per cent with British Columbia and Prince Edward Island following behind with a forecast growth of 2.7 per cent each. The economic outlook for the Atlantic region, however, is more temperate. The end of natural gas production in Nova Scotia is weighing on economic growth and the province is forecast to eke out gains of just 0.9 per cent this year and one per cent in 2019. New Brunswick, which is facing similar challenges as its population ages and the Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, is forecast to experience slightly better economic growth of 1.3 per cent in 2019, up from just 0.6 per cent in 2018. In central Canada, the Quebec and Ontario economies have been slowing, but are still performing well. Quebec's economic growth will dip to 1.8 per cent next year and Ontario's will slow to 1.9 per cent. Manitoba will be affected by dwindling mineral production and growth will slow to 0.9 per cent and Saskatchewan will gain just 1.9 per cent in 2019. With continued recovery, Alberta’s real GDP is set to grow by 2.2 per cent next year.

Residential Transactions Drop

Residential transactions in Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area dropped 14.7 per cent in November compared to the same month last year, say Greater Toronto Area REALTORS. There were 6,251 residential transactions through TREB's MLS System in November 2018. However, the number from last year may have been distorted by a temporary upward shift in demand as the market to avoid the OSFI-mandated stress test at the end of last year. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were down by 3.4 per cent compared to October 2018.

Homeowners Research Projects

Some level of research is done by 75 per cent of U.S. homeowners before beginning a project, says the ‘Modernize Homeowner Index.’ Up to 64 per cent of homeowners educate themselves through online research. Though 17 per cent learn how to plan their project through home improvement websites, 54 per cent of homeowners will go to Google as their main research resource. "The fact that so many homeowners search online for information and guidance on their home improvement projects points to the importance for contractors to have a robust online presence," says Jason Polka, CEO of Modernize. Since 67 per cent of homeowners feel less than ‘very confident’ in their understanding of the cost of their project, it makes sense that the study found that almost one-third are looking for budgeting help online.

Veem Brings Global Payments To Small Businesses

Veem, a global payments company built for small businesses, has extended its payments platform to Canada. The company offers secure transfers between international business partners in more than 95 countries. The integration allows Canadian users to execute transactions through the platform in a seamless, transparent manner. The platform supports multi-currency payments and the user is able to see exchange rates as well as currency and transaction identification information for easy reporting and co-ordination. Veem’s process cuts intermediary banks out of the global payments process.

NCR Acquires JetPay

NCR Corporation has acquired JetPay Corporation, a provider of end-to-end payment processing and human capital management solutions. The acquisition enables NCR to integrate a cloud-based payments platform into its enterprise point-of-sale (POS) solutions for the retail and hospitality industries. It also accelerates NCR’s strategy of increasing recurring revenue growth and expanding margins by enhancing its mix of software and services.

December 12, 2018

IoT Changes Buying Patterns

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has caused a sea of change in the buying patterns of customers and, by extension, the market strategies of retailers. eCommerce and mCommerce have virtually transformed every store into a distribution centre and retailers need to adopt technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), videos, cameras, and data analytics to keep track of inventory in each outlet and, eventually, enhance customer experience management. "Retailers are looking to empower their mobile workforce to enrich customers' purchase experience, and this will augment investments in technologies such as handheld readers and smart point-of-sale (PoS) solutions," says Ram Ravi, industry analyst for industrials at Frost & Sullivan. "RFID sales will get a further boost from the intensifying focus on loss prevention, inventory management, and customer behavior analysis."

Housing Starts Increase

The trend in housing starts was 210,038 units in November 2018, compared to 206,460 units in October 2018, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). "The national trend in housing starts increased in November, following four consecutive months of decline," says Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "While single-detached starts continued to trend lower in November, this was more than offset by a gain in the trend of multi-unit starts following several months of weakness." The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 215,941 units in November, up from 206,753 units in October. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 2.2 per cent in November to 202,054 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 3.9 per cent to 151,596 units in November while single-detached urban starts decreased by 2.3 per cent to 50,458 units.

Lowe’s Open Fulfillment Centre

Lowe’s has opened a new direct fulfillment centre (DFC) just outside of Nashville, TN. The 1.1 million square foot facility will allow it to serve more customers and serve them quickly. Once fully operational, it will be able to deliver product to customers in 75 per cent of the country in two days or less. That means the facility will have the capacity to ship up to 100,000 packages every day.

Home Buyer Demand Remains Below Averages

Home buyer demand remains below long-term historical averages in the Metro Vancouver, BC, housing market. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales totalled 1,608 in the region in November 2018, a 42.5 per cent decrease from the 2,795 sales recorded in November 2017 and an 18.2 per cent decrease compared to October 2018 when 1,966 homes sold. Last month’s sales were 34.7 per cent below the 10-year November sales average and was the lowest sales for the month since 2008. There were 3,461 detached, attached, and apartment homes newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Metro Vancouver in November. This represents a 15.8 per cent decrease compared to the 4,109 homes listed in November 2017 and a 29 per cent decrease compared to October 2018 when 4,873 homes were listed. The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS system in Metro Vancouver is 12,307, a 40.7 per cent increase compared to November 2017 (8,747) and a 5.2 per cent decrease compared to October 2018 (12,984).

Canadians Spending On More Than Gifts This Season

Canadians are spending on more than just gifts this holiday season, with 92 per cent spending on entertaining, 71 per cent spending on holiday decor, and 69 per cent buying clothes and accessories for holiday events, says Ebates.ca. These secondary holiday expenses can add an additional $528 on average to the $602 Canadians are already spending on holiday gifts this season for a total of $1,130. Canadians consumers seem to have adopted Black Friday and Cyber Monday as their kick-off to holiday shopping with 40 per cent saying November is the most popular month to start their holiday gift buying. While most Canadians have already begun or even finished their holiday shopping, 35 per cent say they get their holiday shopping done just in the nick of time with 48 per cent saying they complete their holiday shopping in December. The majority of Canadians intend to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year (83 per cent), dedicating on average more than one-third of their holiday budget to online shopping. Fifty-six per cent of consumers make a point of shopping at retailers that have coupons, 36 per cent use mobile apps or mobile payments, and 33 per cent use store mobile apps to make purchases. The majority of Canadians (87 per cent) typically purchase gift cards as holiday gifts.

December 11, 2018

Small Businesses Face New Taxes

Small businesses are facing a not-so-happy new year and will have to tighten their belts to deal with a host of new taxes, including Canada Pension Plan increases, new passive investment rules, and the federal carbon tax in several provinces, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). CPP premiums will rise for five years for all Canadians starting January 1, 2019, and seven years for those earning over $56,000. This will reduce an employee's take home pay by up to $1,050 per year when fully phased in and reduce the payroll budget of every employer. Federal carbon taxes will begin to hit taxpayers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick starting in the spring of 2019, rising each year for an additional three years. On top of higher taxes in 2018 for many family businesses due to new income sprinkling rules, small businesses with passive investment income above $50,000 per year will pay significantly higher corporate taxes starting in 2019. "We're on the precipice of an affordability crisis for small businesses," says Dan Kelly, CFIB president. "In fact, 84 per cent of small businesses in the four affected provinces say they can't afford the federal carbon tax announced last month on top of the CPP increases starting on January 1, 2019. This is on top of the incoming passive investment rules that will make it harder for small business owners to save for retirement, economic uncertainty, or upgrades to their equipment."

Building Activity Drops

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits in October, edging down 0.2 per cent from September. Statistics Canada says the decrease was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions for industrial and institutional buildings. The value of non-residential building permits fell seven per cent in October to $2.9 billion. Eight provinces posted declines, most notably British Columbia. In the industrial component, the value of building permits fell 29.9 per cent to $439 million, the third consecutive monthly decrease. Declines were reported in nine provinces, with Manitoba the lone province to post an increase. The value of institutional building permits was down 8.7 per cent in October to $733 million, after posting an increase of 16.7 per cent the previous month. Lower construction intentions for hospitals, post-secondary institutions, and other government buildings were responsible for much of the decrease. In the commercial component, $1.7 billion worth of building permits were issued in October, up 2.2 per cent from the previous month. The gain was mainly attributable to higher construction intentions for office and retail complexes. In the residential sector, the value of building permits increased 4.2 per cent from September to $5.2 billion. Both multi-family and single-family dwellings posted gains.

Momentum Index Moves Higher

The ‘Dodge Momentum Index’ moved 5.3 per cent higher in November to 159.7 (2000=100) from the revised October reading of 151.7. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. November’s gain was due to a 9.4 per cent rebound for the commercial component of the index. The recent setbacks in the overall index were the result of declines in planning for commercial buildings and while such planning did rebound in November, the level remains below what was reported in late spring and early summer. This is consistent with the view that the commercial building sector may now be nearing a peak. Meanwhile, the institutional component of the index eased back 0.6 per cent in November. Plans for institutional building projects have remained generally stable during 2018, reflecting the influence of public funding as it relates to such projects as schools and transportation terminals.

Softwood Prices Waffle

The best description to characterize the movement of North American construction framing dimension softwood lumber wholesaler prices is "waffling," says the Lumber Reporter from Madison. It shows the benchmark Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2x4 #2&Btr price landed exactly where it had been two weeks ago US$354 mfbm (thousand board feet), having lost one per cent (or $4) from the previous week's US$358. WSPF 2x6 exhibited the exact same price changes. Trading of lumber futures on the Chicago Mercantile Commission, meanwhile, went from being on-par with the cash market for the January 15 contract to a discount of approximately $10. Part of the reason for the drop in almost all lumber prices toward the end of 2018 is the wildfire in British Columbia in 2017. Those fires took out a significant amount of both immediate and longer-term timber supply from manufacturing facilities in that province. In this slowing time of year for building in North America, log buyers for China have been out actively sourcing wood in advance of spring break. This newer seasonal cycle, of large-volume log and lumber sales to Asia in the fourth quarter, tends to keep the bottom for annual Canadian and U.S. lumber prices higher than it was prior to 2011 when this new trend started emerging. It says lumber prices should start settling back into normal territory for the first quarter of 2019.

PaymentEvolution Launches Small Business Payroll Platform

PaymentEvolution, a payroll, payments, and benefits management solution for small- and mid-sized businesses, has launched the 'Small Business Payroll Solution' with Central 1 Credit Union. Incorporating the payroll platform from PaymentEvolution, clients of Central 1 can now make integrated payroll available to their business members and customers. Currently, banks connect to external payroll service providers, but don't have an integrated view of all their financial transactions built in, which results in many time-consuming side effects. This platform simplifies the entire payroll system by cutting payroll processing times, integrating the payroll with the company's credit union, calculating files and automatically paying taxes, and creating and clearing payments quickly.

Dion Joins Derby Building

Claude Dion is national account manager ‒ retail ‒ Canada at Derby Building Products Inc., manufacturer of the Novik and Tando brands of exterior cladding, announces. In this role, he will manage and lead all home improvement retail accounts in Canada. Most recently, he was a consultant and project manager for Meunier Industrial Tools, responsible for setting up a new store which opened in October of 2017. He also previously served as eastern Canada sales manager for Norske Tools, tool and hardware buyer for Reno Depot, and as merchandising director and national account manager for Innovak Group, Inc.

December 10, 2018

Montreal Home Sales Increase Six Per Cent

A total of 3,630 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in November, a six per cent increase compared to the same month last year, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). It also represents a new sales record for a month of November and the 45th consecutive increase in transactions. Five of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales with Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and the North Shore leading the way with respective increases of 23 per cent and 14 per cent. The South Shore (eight per cent), the Island of Montreal (three per cent), and Laval (one per cent) also registered an increase in the number of transactions. Vaudreuil-Soulanges was the only area to register a drop in sales as transactions fell by eight per cent compared to November of last year. The increase in sales in November was spread across all three property categories. Condominium sales increased 10 per cent year-over-year, while sales of plexes rose six per cent and single-family homes jumped by three per cent.

Atlas To Acquire South Central Building Systems

Atlas Engineered Products Ltd. plans to purchase South Central Building Systems Ltd., of Carman, MB. The acquisition is part of Atlas' strategy to increase revenues through consolidations to focus on efficiencies, productivity, economies-of-scale, and buying power optimization. This consolidation will also help the company increase output and grow its customer base.

Governments Invest In Supply Chains Supercluster

The Canada government will invest up to $230 million for the AI-Powered Supply Chains Supercluster (SCALE.AI) based in Quebec. The funding will be matched dollar-for-dollar by private sector partners and the government of Quebec will invest $60 million to support the initiative. SCALE.AI brings the retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, and information and communications technology sectors together to build intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics. The government says this supercluster is helping Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses take advantage of new opportunities and positioning Canada as a global export leader.

Levy Appointed SME Advisor

Sheldon Levy, an experienced innovation leader and CEO of NEXT Canada, has been named special advisor on scaling up small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) by the federal ministry of small business and export promotion. His principal role will be to advise on improving the scale-up ecosystem to support the ministry’s mandate to help Canadian SMEs scale up. There are over one million businesses in Canada, 99 per cent of which are small and medium-sized. These businesses create millions of jobs, increase Canada's productivity and grow the economy. However, growth remains a challenge for mid-sized businesses particularly and only 12 per cent of Canadian SMEs are currently exporting. The government has set a goal of doubling the number of high-growth firms by 2025 and increasing Canadian overseas exports by 50 per cent by 2025.

Net Sales Increase For Toro

For the fourth quarter, Toro Company had net earnings of $39 million on a net sales increase of 10.4 per cent to $539.3 million. For the fourth quarter, adjusted net earnings were $34.2 million compared to adjusted net earnings of $33 million in the comparable 2017 period, an increase of 6.7 per cent.

Regal Ideas Offers Contractor Training

Regal Ideas’ contractor training program will be a hands-on training day focused on everything from in-home sales and lead generation to job site installation of its products. It takes place December 20 in Milton, ON. Contractors and retailers can RSVP by eMail at marketing@regalideas.com

December 7, 2018

Retail Sales Keep Weakening

A total retail sales increase of 2.9 per cent in the third quarter was the weakest third quarter gain since 2015 and far lower than the 7.3 per cent gain recorded for the same period last year, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Also, after nine months, year-to-date retail sales growth is up just 3.4 per cent and is likely to end the year even lower if current trends persist. One factor is gasoline prices, which helped shore up retail sales growth for much of 2018. That’s starting to change, with pump prices heading downward. With gasoline station sales excluded, the 2018 retail sales growth picture looks softer still and retail sales growth would be only a thin 1.8 per cent. Home furnishings stores' third-quarter retail sales were down 0.8 per cent versus a year ago and furniture stores declined 0.7 per cent. eCommerce represented about 2.8 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending September 2018, including both pure play operators as well as the online operations of bricks-and-mortar stores. eCommerce sales were up 13.9 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending September 2018, but this is much less than the 31.3 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digits and are still much higher than for location based retail, but growth is slowing down.

Amazon, Lowe's, Walmart Brands To Watch

Amazon, Lowe's Companies, Inc., and Walmart have made the 2019 list of 'brands to watch' by Denise Lee Yohn, a brand leadership expert. She says Amazon will continue to dominate headlines with increasing competition for its voice-activated services and devices and its unfolding retail strategy. For Lowe's, its recent decision to close nearly 50 stores could be part of a successful turnaround, she says. With Marvin Ellison at the helm and a new CIO, the company is working on improving its customer experience through advanced technology and rationalizing technology "so there's reason to be cautiously optimistic." Walmart continues to fight aggressively against Amazon and other competitors. It has been working on reinventing itself through acquisitions that shore up its specialty business expertise and strengthening its digital capabilities, as demonstrated by its 43 per cent jump in third quarter eCommerce sales. But the company still has organizational and cultural issues to overcome as Amazon continues to dominate the digital world while expanding its bricks-and-mortar offerings.

Jolie Home Comes To Canada

Jolie Home products are now available in Canada. The boutique paint brand offers colour options with countless custom colour mixes to help homeowners achieve finishes on their furniture, walls, cabinets, floors, and accessories. Jolie Paint is water-based, non-toxic, and quick-drying. The company also offers companion products and tools. As well, it offers customers the 'Everyday Guide' to aid them in identifying the style they want to achieve and find colours that are most compatible with their spaces.

Wallace Has New Role

Tammy Wallace is merchandise manager of housewares and home décor at Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, she was inventory analyst. She has close to 17 years of merchandise experience. She succeeds Jane Wall, who is retiring after 41 years at Home Hardware.

Dollarama Sales Rise

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $864.3 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 6.6 per cent over sales in the third quarter of 2017. Comparable store sales increased 3.1 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin was 38.9 per cent of sales for the quarter, compared to 40.1 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. EBITDA was $214.6 million or 24.8 per cent of sales, up 3.5 per cent compared to the period last year. Net earnings increased to $133.5 million in the third quarter compared to $130.1 million in the same period a year ago.

December 6, 2018

SMBs Struggle To Fill Jobs

Labour shortages continue to trouble small- and medium-sized businesses in the third quarter of 2018, with the job vacancy rate rising to 3.3 per cent, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' (CFIB) latest 'Help Wanted' report. In total, roughly 430,000 private sector openings remained unfilled for at least four months because employers were unable to find qualified candidates. Employers with at least one vacant post experienced more pressure to increase wages, expecting to push average organization-wide wage levels up by 2.6 per cent, compared to an average 1.7 per cent gain planned by businesses without any job openings. Quebec continues to lead the country with the tightest labour market, at a 4.1 per cent vacancy rate. British Columbia maintained its 3.7 per cent vacancy rate, while Ontario experienced a slight increase to 3.3 per cent. Vacancy rates advanced in professional services, construction, agriculture, and oil and gas, but remained unchanged in other sectors. Personal services maintained the highest vacancy rate at 4.8 per cent, followed by construction (4.4 per cent) and professional services (3.8 per cent). These sectors also tend to have smaller businesses on average which tend to experience higher vacancy rates than large firms.

IKEA Shares Profit

IKEA will pay $154.8 million into Canadian co-worker retirement programs for their loyalty and contribution. Through ‘Tack!,’ the Inkga Group loyalty program, every full-time co-worker in Canada who has worked at IKEA for a full fiscal year, will receive $1,498, regardless of their position or salary level. Eligible part-time co-workers will also receive a proportional amount in relation to hours worked. In Canada, the Tack! loyalty program operates as a deferred profit sharing program. As part of the program, IKEA Group co-workers annually receive an extra pay-out in addition to existing RRSP contribution programs. Tack! is part of its total rewards package for co-workers, which also includes a performance-driven bonus program, subsidized meals, a co-worker discount, and a group RRSP. It was launched in 2013 by IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad to share the success of IKEA with all co-workers around the world. Since then the Ingka Group has paid out €612 million globally.

UK Travis Perkins Implements Streamlining Strategies

UK building materials distributor Travis Perkins plc is implementing a business strategy to simplify its operations and improve returns. The plan will focus on trade customers and drive returns from its advantaged trade businesses. As well, the company plans to simplify the group and streamline the cost base to drive strong cash flow and earnings momentum. It plans to divest its plumbing and heating division and improve the performance of Wickes ‒ a home improvement retail business ‒ to create options to maximize value over the medium term. “We have developed a clear plan to focus on delivering best-in-class service to our trade customers and to simplify the group to reduce complexity, speed up decision-making, and reduce costs," says John Carter, chief executive officer. "Our trade businesses hold strong positions in attractive markets and these initiatives will enable us to concentrate our management time and capital in the highest returning areas."

Walmart Rolls Out Autonomous Floor Cleaners

Walmart has rolled out autonomous floor cleaners in 78 U.S. stores. Instead of an associate sitting on a floor scrubbing machine for two hours a day, the Auto-C ‒ Autonomous Cleaner will do the work. Much like a self-driving car, this machine uses assisted autonomy technology to clean and polish floors, freeing up associates to take care of other tasks. Auto-C is just one piece of technology that Walmart has implemented to become more efficient. Others include the Auto-S scanning machine that scans shelves autonomously; the Alphabot that automatically brings items from storage to associates who are consolidating online orders; and pickup towers where customers can pick up items they have pre-ordered. The retailer plans to roll out the Auto-C to 360 stores in the near future.

HBC Revenue Up, Earnings Down

HBC had revenue of $2,187 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 5.6 per cent over revenue in the third quarter of 2017. Overall comparable sales increased 2.9 per cent with total comparable digital sales increasing eight per cent year-over-year. Gross profit for the company as a percentage of revenue was 39.4 per cent for the quarter, an improvement of 10 basis points. Adjusted EBITDA was $63 million, an increase of $23 million from the year-ago period. Net loss from continuing operations was $124 million compared to a net loss of $116 million last year.

December 5, 2018

Castle Launches Revamped Website

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has launched its revamped website ‒ Castle.ca. The site has a contemporary design and technologically advanced features and is fully responsive on both desktop and mobile. It offers an optimized store locator with customizable features and a quick share feature to share store locations. The site also includes an advanced search function and comprehensive products section. The products section includes over 30,000 LBM products plus the entire Orgill Canada product catalogue. As well, the site features a 'Learn' section, which was designed to be a destination for contractors and DIYers where they can watch video tutorials, instructional videos, and download installation guidelines.

Consumer Digital Habits Driving Change In Retail

Widespread disruption from technology, shifting consumer behaviours and preferences across demographic groups, and changing economic impact continue to radically transform retail in Canada, says KPMG's Willy Kruh, consumer and retail national leader, high growth markets, at KPMG in Canada and global chair for consumer markets. "Technological disruption has fundamentally changed the retail experience, but many Canadian retailers are still playing catch up. Retailers today not only have to compete with fierce eCommerce competitors, including large global platform companies, but also respond to rapidly shifting shopping expectations driven by new technologies and demographic changes. Recognition is only halfway to doing something and too many Canadian retailers are not keeping pace with the fact that consumers and their shopping habits are undergoing a sea-change." An increasing number of Canadian shoppers are turning to online channels, led by the fast-growing Gen Y and Z demographics. While eCommerce adoption in Canada lags other developed countries, Canadians' buying habits are evolving and they are gradually migrating online, driven by the growing need for convenience and personalization. Kruh says retailers need to be relevant or go out of business as pressure mounts in the face of innovative online, omni-channel, and specialty competitors. "Canadian retailers who fail to respond to this rapidly changing environment are likely to face dire choices, including store closures."

Healthy Spend Anticipated For Holidays

Almost a quarter of global consumers plan to spend more than last Christmas, while 43 per cent plan to spend as much as last year, finds a survey by Ferratum Oyj. Its 'Christmas Barometer' shows Canadians continue to enjoy Christmas and everything surrounding the holiday. A healthy 22 per cent of Canadians monthly income is dedicated to holiday expenses including gifts and winter activities. Spending time with family and loved ones is what 69 per cent of the respondents say is most important to them. Another 18 per cent appreciate the Christmas celebration and spirit more than receiving gifts or doing winter sports. Of those that go shopping for gifts, approximately 22 per cent say they were planning on shopping online for products and services.

West Fraser To Implement Production Curtailments

West Fraser will implement temporary production curtailments over the holiday period at four of its British Columbia sawmills. Operations in Chasm, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, and Chetwynd are affected by the decision. The company says challenging lumber markets and high log costs coupled with log supply constraints have necessitated the decision. The curtailments are expected to reduce SPF lumber production by approximately 25 million board feet in 2018.

RH Has Strong Quarter

Luxury home goods retailer RH had adjusted net income of $46.8 million for the third quarter of 2018, a 92 per cent increase over adjusted net income in the third quarter of 2017. GAAP net income increased 70 per cent to $22.4 million. Adjusted net revenues for the quarter increased eight per cent to $638.5 million year-over-year. Comparable brand revenues increased four per cent. Since the previous quarter, the company has completed a redesign of the organization as a luxury brand, closed an additional 500,000 square foot distribution centre, and continued to reduce capital requirements by improving deal economics and lowering construction costs.

December 4, 2018

Canadians Believe In Brick-and-mortar

The majority (71 per cent) of Canadian consumers believe that brick-and-mortar stores will not disappear. KPMG's ‘Me, My Life, My Wallet’ report shows half of consumers surveyed in Canada across four demographic groups do a mix of online and brick-and-mortar shopping and most still have a positive view of traditional malls and grocery stores, in particular. Food, clothing, and household goods, for example, were noted as items that consumers prefer to purchase in-store, as well as those purchased most frequently. "Many retailers will have to right-size their portfolio of stores, but they are also planning new business models or re-evaluating the in-store experience to offer hybrid experiences for customers," says Willy Kruh, consumer and retail national leader, high growth markets, at KPMG in Canada and global chair for consumer markets. "Retailers must have a clear understanding of where and how they're investing so they can fully benefit from the connected-customer approach. Only then will they be able to deliver what consumers want." A number of companies that started solely online are now beginning to introduce physical ‘showrooms’ to offer virtual/physical experiences for customers. "Amid disruption from the Amazons of the world, retailers should focus on creating value and innovating on the links between online and physical shopping," says Kruh. "Every business needs to think hard about how to cater to what customers find relevant and enhance their overall experience. Today, consumers are most keen on digital experiences that improve and complement the physical environment around them."

Business Transfers To Skyrocket Over Next Decade

Over $1.5 trillion in business assets will be in play over the next decade as nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of small business owners intend to exit their business, says a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The vast majority of business owners (81 per cent) intend to sell or transfer their business to retire, although only a fraction of them have started planning for their departure. In fact, 51 per cent have no plan at all, while a mere eight per cent of owners have a formal written plan and 41 per cent have an informal plan. Nearly half of business owners (48 per cent) plan to sell to third parties, while others prefer to pass their business on to one or more family members, whether through a sale (25 per cent) or a transfer (21 per cent) such as an inheritance. Finding a suitable successor or buyer is the main hurdle to succession cited by survey respondents (56 per cent). With this in mind, CFIB recommends that small business owners start planning for their succession early on and prepare for the unexpected by working out several potential exit strategies.

IPEX HomeRite Launches Updated Website

IPEX HomeRite Products, a supplier of pipe and fittings to home improvement retailers for plumbing, irrigation, electrical, and HVAC applications, has remodelled its website at ipexhomerite.com. The site is now optimized for use on mobile devices. Visitors have better mobile web performance because the site will reformat itself for different devices. The update features a product catalogue with wider search capability and a full line of product photos. This allows IPEX HomeRite Products to provide up-to-date product information to its customers, including specific SKU image, part weight, and dimensional information. The resource centre includes popular DIY projects often undertaken using IPEX products and the hobby section shows viewers a variety of projects they can make using IPEX pipe and fittings and offers the opportunity to share their projects with other viewers.

U.S. Holiday Consumers Interested In Convenience

U.S. consumers shopping for the holidays say they want convenience, says mobile commerce engagement platform GPShopper. Its research shows 62 per cent of American shoppers will not wait in an hour-long line to purchase a gift and a majority (67 per cent) of those interested in using tech in-store are interested in buying online and picking-up in-store to ease their experience this year. Among those that experience stress during holiday shopping, a majority (53 per cent) identify waiting in lines and crowds of people as one of the most stressful factors of holiday shopping; while 47 per cent say not being able to find the product they want/need and a quarter (25 per cent) say gifts arriving late causes them the most stress. To avoid any last-minute rush and escape the stress of holiday shopping, almost half of holiday shoppers say they’ll purchase gifts at least a month in advance to avoid any issues, compared to a slim three per cent that say they’ll pay up to $50 more for rush shipping. As well, 40 per cent of holiday shoppers will give a gift card instead of purchasing gifts. Thirteen per cent of shoppers will buy online at a more expensive price because a gift is not available in-store.

Canadian eCommerce Catching Up To U.S.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) eCommerce in North America will continue double-digit growth for at least the next three years, says a report by ResearchAndMarkets. And, while the sales volume in the larger population of the U.S. far exceeds online sales in Canada, the eCommerce penetration rate of Canada is expected to equal that of the U.S. by 2021. Growth in both nations is enhanced by adoption of new technologies such as mobile shopping, omnichannel commerce, and voice purchases. The ubiquity of smartphones in North America is one factor affecting the continued growth of online commerce. Mobile device owners not only use them to make purchases through merchant websites or apps, the devices also facilitate omnichannel shopping as smartphones are used to read reviews or find prices from other outlets while in a store or to research at home followed by a purchase in-store. As well, the practice of webrooming and showrooming blurs the lines between online and traditional retail. Another new technology affecting eCommerce is the use of smart speakers to make online purchases. The report projects sales volume through voice command in 2021 will be 20 times higher than the level of such purchases 2017.

Malone Has New Role

Nick Malone is vice-president of merchandising for the Lowe’s banner at Lowe's Canada. Previously, he was senior director, central merchandising

December 3, 2018

Business Confidence Slump Continues

Small business confidence rose 0.7 points to 61.2 in November, performing below expectations, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its 'Business Barometer' index. Forty-two per cent of owners report their business is in good shape this month, compared to 11 per cent who say they are in bad shape. Hiring intentions are back to normal seasonal levels, with 18 per cent planning to hire additional full-time staff in the next few months versus 14 per cent who plan to cut back. An index level between 65 and 70 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential and a majority of owners expect their business performance to be stronger in the next year. Confidence fell in seven out of 13 sectors and gains in the remaining six were generally modest. Retail experienced the greatest loss (5.7), even with the holidays approaching. Construction also posted low results at 55, while the wholesale sector was optimistic.

Western To Acquire Columbia Vista

British Columbia-based Western Forest Products Inc. plans to acquire the assets of Columbia Vista Corporation and certain related entities. Columbia Vista is located in Vancouver, WA, and is a lumber manufacturer that focuses production on Douglas Fir specialty products for the Japanese and U.S. markets. It operates a sawmill business in Washington State and has been in business for over 60 years. Western says bringing the companies together will provide an opportunity to expand its Douglas Fir specialty product offerings. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Mohawk CFO Boykin To Retire

After 25 years with the company, Frank H. Boykin, chief financial officer of Mohawk Industries, Inc., is retiring. Boykin joined the company in 1993, moving up through various financial roles prior to his appointment as CFO in 2005. Mohawk has launched a comprehensive search for Boykin's successor. After his successor is selected, Boykin will facilitate the transition in a senior consultant role.

Pray To Lead Columbia Forest Products

Greg Pray is president and chief executive officer at Columbia Forest Products, effective January 1. He joined the company in 2006, serving most recently as executive vice-president of U.S. operations in the plywood division. He succeeds Brad Thompson, who will remain with the company as an advisor to Pray through the first quarter of 2019.

Baeumler Takes Main Stage

HGTV Canada’s Bryan Baeumler will take the main stage for the 2019 ‘Calgary Renovation Show.’ It will feature more than 200 home improvement companies with everything needed to make home goals happen. It takes place January 11 to 13 in Calgary, AB. For information, visit calgaryrenovationshow.com

November 30, 2018

GTA Home Market Active In October

In October, the Greater Toronto, ON, Area new home market saw a relatively active month for new condominium apartment and single-family home sales and openings, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 2,805 condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units sold in October, down 44 per cent from October 2017, but only one per cent less than the 10-year average. Single-family home sales, with 491 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were even with last October and down 64 per cent from the 10-year average. The new home market’s gradual return to more typical activity levels is an encouraging sign, says David Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “It's clear that when we are able to bring on more supply and give new home buyers more product to choose from, they get excited and motivated about making that choice. That's why we are especially heartened by the new provincial government's commitment to increasing housing supply through its ‘Housing Supply Action Plan’.”

Organizational Culture Make-or-break Factor

Creating a positive corporate culture is top of mind for employers looking to recruit and retain talent, finds a study from global staffing firm Robert Half. ‘Organizational Culture: The Make-or-Break Factor in Hiring and Retention’ shows two in five workers in Canada (40 per cent) won't accept a job that is a perfect match if the corporate culture clashes. As well, 90 per cent of managers say a candidate's fit with the organizational culture is equal to or more important than their skills and experience. While workers say their ideal corporate culture is supportive or team-oriented, most describe their company as traditional. “Today's professionals are looking to do more with their careers than satisfy a job description; they want to be part of an organization whose values align with their own and feel inspired with a sense of purpose in the workplace,” says Greg Scileppi, president of Robert Half, international staffing operations. “For companies, this means evaluating more than a candidate's skills or qualifications to find the right fit for their business. There has to be a focus on identifying individual motivations and promoting the type of work environment that puts employee engagement and success at the heart of the corporate culture.”

Government Releases NECB 2017

The National Research Council of Canada and Natural Resources Canada are providing Canadians with free online access to the 2017 edition of the 'National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings' (NECB 2017). The NECB 2017 builds on Canada's commitment to work closely with the provinces and territories on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to meet emissions reduction targets, grow the economy, and build resilience to a changing climate. Provinces and territories may adopt the NECB 2017 or adapt it to create a regulation that meets their specific regional needs. This pilot project marks the first time that a national building code has been made freely accessible and will provide the government of Canada with the opportunity to evaluate the benefits of moving towards such a model. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce a carbon footprint. At the same time, providing free codes to the construction industry has been linked to strong gains in productivity and the economy in other countries.

RPM Launches Improvement Plan

RPM International Inc. has implemented an operating improvement plan called 'MAP to Growth' which includes initiatives designed to drive greater efficiency to accelerate growth and increase value from the unique entrepreneurial culture and leading brands that have been the foundation of its success for decades. The plan includes realignment of the company's six business groups into four with presidents appointed for each. They are Dave Dennsteadt for performance coatings, Paul Hoogenboom for construction products, Terry Horan for consumer products, and John McLaughlin for specialty products. Each of these group leaders has decades of experience at RPM and within the industry. The company says reorganizing into these four groups will enable it to better manage its assets and improve synergies across the enterprise. The plan will also maintain the company's entrepreneurial growth culture by keeping key customer-focused functions that make it unique, such as technical support, sales, marketing, and R&D at the business level. The company has begun instituting numerous changes, including establishing an operating improvement committee, appointing two new members to the board of directors, and engaging a top consulting firm to support execution.

Ace Hardware Revenues Rise

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.43 billion in the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 6.3 per cent over revenues in the third quarter of 2017. Wholesale revenues were up five per cent, with increases across all departments. Paint, electrical, and holiday decor showed the largest gains. The company’s Ace Hardware International Holdings, Ltd. subsidiary had a $4 million decline in wholesale revenue from the prior year. Total retail revenues were $85.9 million, up 31.1 per cent year-over-year. Net income was $36.3 million for the quarter, a decrease of $17.5 million from 2017. Wholesale gross profit decreased while retail gross profit increased. There was a three per cent increase in the average ticket year-over-year.

Saint-Gobain Makes Executive Changes

Pierre-André de Chalendar is chief executive officer of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, effective January. As well, Benoit Bazin is chief operating officer; Armand Ajdari is vice-president, research and development; Julie Bonamy is vice-president strategy; Patrick Dupin is senior vice-president, CEO northern Europe region; Javier Gimeno is senior vice-president, CEO Asia-Pacific region; Laurent Guillot is senior vice-president, CEO high performance solutions; Benoit d’Iribarne is vice-president technology and industrial performance; Thomas Kinisky is senior vice-president, innovation and chairman North America; Claire Pedini is senior vice-president, human resources and digital transformation; Laurence Pernot is vice-president communications; Sreedhar N. is chief financial officer; Guillaume Texier is senior vice-president, CEO southern Europe, Middle East, and Africa region; and Antoine Vignial is corporate secretary, in charge of corporate social responsibility.

November 29, 2018

Residential Sector Drives Construction Gains

Total investment in building construction increased 0.3 per cent from August to $14.5 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. Gains for the month were driven by growth in investment in the residential sector which was up 0.4 per cent to $10 billion, while investment in non-residential building construction was unchanged at $4.5 billion. In the residential sector, the increase in investments was led by a gain of one per cent within the multi-unit category (which includes doubles, row homes, and apartments) to $4.8 billion, while investment in the single-unit category edged down 0.2 per cent to $5.3 billion. Investment in single-unit dwellings increased 5.2 per cent compared with September 2017, while investment in multi-unit dwellings rose 14.6 per cent over the same period. Investment in non-residential building construction was unchanged at $4.5 billion in September, as gains in the commercial (0.5 per cent to $2.5 billion) and industrial (two per cent to $0.9 billion) sectors were offset by a 2.7 per cent decline in the institutional sector.

U.S. Home Sales Plummet

Sales of new U.S. homes plummeted 8.9 per cent in October, as the number of newly-built, unsold homes sitting on the market climbed to its highest level since 2009, says the U.S. Commerce Department. New-home sales have declined in four of the past five months. Over the past year, sales of new homes have dropped 12 per cent as higher mortgage rates have caused would-be buyers to back away. The report adds to the evidence that the U.S housing market has stalled after years of prices climbing faster than incomes. Sales of existing homes tumbled 5.1 per cent this year, the largest annual drop recorded by the National Association of Realtors since July 2014. The decline has left homebuilders with 336,000 homes listed for sale. That is the highest level since January 2009, when the real estate market was still sorting through the wreckage of the last decade's housing bubble.

Database Tool Analyzes Local Shopping Data

Environics Analytics and J.C. Williams Group have launched ClickSpend, a database that will allow retailers and shopping centre developers and owners to analyze the online and in-store shopping habits of consumers across 14 broad spending categories. The tool is powered by J.C. Williams Group and Environics Analytics models the survey estimates down to small areas of geography to provide actionable insights about online shopping expenditures by neighbourhood to help the retail sector track market share and identify online and offline opportunities. ClickSpend can allow retailers to identify the impact of eCommerce in their area so they are better able to meet changing consumer expectations. The tool reveals differences between cities and neighbourhoods. ClickSpend is derived from the 'Canadian E-tail Report,' a semi-annual online survey conducted by the J.C. Williams Group. Estimates are produced using several cycles of the survey, encompassing more than 7,500 nationally representative respondents. The 14 spending categories captured represent $343 billion in household expenditures (excluding services), with $41 billion of those purchases occurring online.

Brickworks To Acquire Glen-Gery

Ibstock plc plans to sell its subsidiary, brick and stone manufacturer Glen-Gery Corporation, to Brickworks Limited. Glen-Gery, headquartered in Wyomissing, PA, operates 10 manufacturing plants and 10 masonry supply centres throughout the U.S. Australian-based Brickworks is a large and diverse building products company. The transaction is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Wielens Joins Marketing Team

Sarah Wielens is marketing manager at EAB. She has many years of experience in the marketing field, most recently as a freelance strategic and tactical marketer.

Renoworks Revenues Strong

Renoworks Software Inc. had revenues of $1.08 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 44 per cent over revenues of $748,495 in the third quarter of 2017. Design service revenues increased by 195 per cent to $308,899 year-over-year. Thirty-eight per cent of the revenue is attributable to annual recurring customer contracts. Third-quarter gross margin remained at 75 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $99,901 compared to a loss of $405,316 for the same fiscal period in 2017. Net profit was $61,192 versus a loss of $347,271 during the same quarter a year ago.

November 28, 2018

Small Businesses Happy Postal Strike Ended

The Canada Post strike has ended, so small businesses can breathe a sigh of relief, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “Small business owners depend on Canada Post to send and receive payments and get customer orders out,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. “The weeks leading to Christmas can represent a huge chunk of annual sales for retailers. The strike was quickly becoming an emergency for many small firms and for Canadian consumers at this very important time of year. The government made the right decision to introduce back-to-work legislation.” CFIB surveyed its members about the strike and found that 71 per cent supported legislating the postal workers back to work. In addition, two-thirds of small businesses reported they had been negatively affected by the strike, at an average cost of $3,000. In fact, 67 per cent suffered cash flow interruptions as a result of delayed cheques and invoices and 53 per cent had to switch to a more expensive delivery service. CFIB had called on the federal government to pass the back-to-work legislation.

Small Business Investment Up In September

Small business growth remains strong and steady in Canada, with PayNet's 'Canadian Small Business Lending Index' (CSBLI) up to 123.1 in September, from 122.6 in August. The index is up 6.3 per cent year-over-year, marking its fifth consecutive year-over-year gain after 10 months of decline. On an annual basis, lending increased in most major industries, led by transportation at 21.6 per cent year-over-year. However, wholesale trade saw lending fall 3.8 per cent year-over-year and its current level is in the bottom 10 per cent of all the industry’s historical readings ‒ by far the weakest industry with respect to small business lending. Regionally, current lending levels in all major provinces remain in the top 25 per cent of all historical readings for the respective region. Lending activity growth was highest in Atlantic Canada. Though Saskatchewan posted the strongest gain among all regions on a monthly basis, it was the only region to see lending fall year-over-year

Young Adults Biggest Holiday Season Spenders

This holiday season, U.S. retailers will experience the growing purchasing power of the Gen Z and Millennial generations, says a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. While 77 per cent of all consumers surveyed say they will spend the same or more this year, 43 per cent of young adults ages 18 to 24 and 38 per cent of those 25 to 34 say they will spend more. Only nine per cent of those 65 and older are planning to spend more. The survey also shows that 50 per cent of consumers who own smartphones or tablets will use them to research their holiday purchases. Spending on gift cards is expected to rise roughly 10 per cent, while credit cards continue to be the most popular form of payment, used by 42 per cent of shoppers.

Red Lion Launches Online Training University

Red Lion has launched a university as part of its portfolio of pump and accessory training. Red Lion University will offer more than two hours of online content centred around equipping new and experienced store employees with the appropriate expertise to increase revenue from their pump aisle. Various training modules are available anywhere an internet connection is present. It is ideal for employee training, store employees limited by geographic location, or reinforcement of information gained through past training. It will provide education on selling tips, product information, and industry best practices. The university consists of 11 courses, including an introduction to Red Lion, pumping fundamentals, pump and tank selection, and installation information. Upon completion of these courses, each participant will receive the ‘Pump Expert’ certification.

Energizer Works Acquisitions

Energizer Holdings, Inc. has been working with the European Commission (EC) to develop a mutually-acceptable solution to address concerns surrounding its acquisition of Spectrum Brands’ Battery and Portable Lighting Business. This transaction is expected to be complete in the beginning of 2019. The company also plans to acquire Spectrum Brands’ global auto care business, which includes brands such as Armor All, STP, and A/C Pro. This acquisition is expected to be complete by Energizer’s second fiscal quarter of 2019.

Peterson Appointed Chief Financial Officer

Christopher H. Peterson is executive vice-president and chief financial officer at Newell Brands. Over the past 25 years, he has held key senior executive roles at Procter & Gamble, Ralph Lauren, and, most recently, Revlon Inc. where he was chief operating officer, operations

November 27, 2018

Housing Collapse In Canada Unlikely

As household debt rises and home prices in some markets continue to be out of reach for many average Canadians, the temptation is to compare the situation to the 2008-2009 U.S. housing market bubble and subsequent crash. However, underlying trends point to a Canadian housing market that is different and likely more resilient than it might first appear, says research by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). The key factors in the U.S. collapse were relatively lax regulation and the prevalence of sub-prime mortgages issued to homebuyers with low-credit quality who couldn't afford to keep up payments. Credit quality is a measure of an individual's ability to repay debt. In contrast to the situation a decade ago in the U.S., the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which insures Canadian mortgages in cases where buyers cannot make a 20 per cent down payment, says the number of borrowers with high credit quality has risen from 66 per cent in 2002 to 88 per cent in 2017. In turn, the number of low-credit-quality buyers shrank from 17 per cent to three per cent over that period. Canada's housing market isn't immune to risks; it's just that whatever form any issues here might take they will not be identical to the U.S. collapse. On top of that, the recently introduced rules that more securely protect mortgage lenders from defaults and more stringent income-testing standards for borrowers are considered, the Canadian system seems likely to be ready for prospective challenges, even if the economy softens here or abroad.

Canadians Likely To Overspend This Holiday Season

While two-thirds of Canadians plan to spend money over the holidays on things like gifts, travelling, and holiday parties, 60 per cent don't have a budget and are likely to overspend, says a report by Manulife Bank. Its 2018 fall debt survey shows 80 per cent of Canadians believe the holidays have become too focused on spending money, yet 50 per cent have previously gone into debt to buy presents. A quarter say holiday spending causes financial stress that negatively impacts mental health. Many people end up regretting the amount of money they spend during the holidays and struggle to pay off debt afterwards. Manulife Bank says that the financial hangover of the holidays may last well into the New Year and beyond, especially as interest rates climb higher and household debt across Canada remains at record levels. More than half of Canadians feel debt, in general, prevents them from doing the things they want to do and impacts their ability to save for retirement. Even more alarming is that four in 10 Canadians with debt don’t think they will ever be debt-free. "A little planning can go a long way," says Rick Lunny, president and CEO, Manulife Bank. To relieve stress and reduce the burden of debt, he suggests consumers write out their costs, think about what's achievable and necessary, and find ways to spend more time with family and friends and less money.

Renovated Buildings Create Healthier Environment

From recovery times for patients to the learning abilities of school children to the productivity of office workers, the value of improving indoor environmental quality (light, noise, thermal comfort, air quality) is substantial, says a study from Buildings 2030. When indoor air quality, thermal comfort, lighting, and noise are optimized ‒ called 'people-centric renovation' ‒ people’s health and productivity increase. The research shows an optimized environment results in a 12 per cent increase in employee productivity at a typical office, an increase in student performance of between three to eight per cent (improved acoustics alone can increase learning performance by three to six per cent), a reduced length of patient hospital stays by as much as 11 per cent, and reduced employee turnover by up to 20 per cent. For more information, visit Buildings 2030

ROCKWOOL Makes Changes

Allan Selway has been promoted to Quebec/Atlantic regional manager, residential and commercial, with ROCKWOOL. He will also retain his current customer responsibilities as senior sales representative, residential and commercial. Sarah Southwick has been promoted to Ontario regional manager, responsible for leading the Ontario residential and commercial Canada sales team and being the key contact for regional accounts and local buying group representatives. Both promotions are effective January 1. The changes come as a result of the retirement of Sylvie Pinsonneault at the end of the year. She has been an integral part of the ROCKWOOL residential/commercial sales team for more than 11 years.

Sales Down As Kingfisher Divests Markets

Kingfisher had sales of £3 billion for the third quarter of 2018, down 1.3 per cent over sales in the third quarter of 2017, reflecting weak sales in France. Gross margin after clearance was up 40 bps versus the same quarter a year ago. As part of its continued transformation, the group has decided to exit Russia, Spain, and Portugal in order to focus on markets where the company has, or can, reach a market leading position.

November 26, 2018

Retail Sales Remain Flat

Retail sales edged up 0.2 per cent to $50.9 billion in September following a relatively flat August, says Statistics Canada. The gain was led by food and beverage stores and, to a lesser extent, general merchandise stores and motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales were down at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Sales were up in six of 11 subsectors, representing 75 per cent of retail trade. Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation declined in September. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers at 1.9 per cent and furniture and home furnishings stores at 0.7 per cent continued their downward trend in September, declining for the third time in four months. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totalled $1.4 billion, representing 2.8 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 16.9 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 1.8 per cent.

Baby Boomers Addressing Aging Needs In Bathroom Renos

The majority of U.S. Baby Boomer homeowners (ages 55 or older) are addressing aging-related needs during master bathroom renovations (56 per cent), says the '2018 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.' The survey, of homeowners who are in the midst of retiring or retired who recently completed a master bathroom renovation, finds that one-third of Baby Boomers are addressing current aging needs, while nearly a quarter are planning ahead for future needs (22 per cent). Boomers who address aging-related needs are tackling major changes to the master bathroom. Nearly half change the bathroom layout and one-third remove the bathtub (47 and 34 per cent, respectively). Other upgrades include installing accessibility features like seats, low curbs, grab bars, and non-slide floors in upgraded showers and bathtubs. "Baby Boomers today account for the largest share of renovating homeowners and the largest share of renovation spend," says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. "Insights reveal that a significant proportion of Boomers are aware of pending aging needs and are proactive about integrating universal design features during renovations. That said, it is also clear that there are considerable opportunities to further educate the market on accessibility and that the demand for universal design features will continue to grow."

Research Council Looking For Code Comments

The National Research Council of Canada has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the national construction codes, including the National Building Code of Canada and the National Plumbing Code of Canada. This public consultation will inform the content of the anticipated 2020 national codes and will also inform the content of future changes to Ontario's code as provinces and territories focus on how to increase the harmonization of technical requirements across Canada. The consultation runs through January 4, 2019. Visit National Research Council. Ontario code users are encouraged to review, and provide comments on, the national proposals.

Shepherd Joins Frank T. Ross

Brett Shepherd is national sales manager at Frank T. Ross, manufacturer of the Weldbond and Nature Clean brands. Previously, he was national accounts and broker manager at WD-40 Company (Canada) Ltd.

Good Market Conditions Drive ROCKWOOL Sales

ROCKWOOL has sales of €1,962 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 14.6 per cent over sales in the third quarter of 2017. The sales increase has been driven by good market conditions and an increased demand for non-combustible insulation products. EBIT for the quarter was €97 million, an increase of 28 per cent over last year. EBIT margin increased 1.6 percentage points to 14 per cent.

November 23, 2018

Canada Falling Behind In AI Adoption

Canada is rapidly falling behind other countries in artificial intelligence (AI) adoption and demand, which is putting Canadian talent and future competitiveness at risk, says a report by Deloitte. With only 16 per cent of all businesses reporting using AI technologies – a number that has remained stagnant over the last four years – Deloitte examined the reasons why businesses are failing to use AI to solve business problems. The study finds that both consumers' and businesses' lack of understanding, lack of trust, lack of awareness, and an inability by companies to scale small pilots were barriers limiting adoption. It says that true leadership requires demand for AI and that not enough businesses are investing in AI, given its transformative potential. As well, if Canada continues on its current path, it risks providing talent, research, and startups that will feed the growth of other countries – such as the United States and China – without reaping the benefits in Canada. Deloitte's report outlines the need for a shared vision of what it will take to maximize the economic and social gains that can be realized through the effective use of AI across business, government, and society. The report notes there is a critical role for both government and businesses to play, with businesses being deeply involved in AI education if Canada is truly going to step up and lead.

LBM Sector Up, While Wholesale Sales Decline

Wholesale sales declined for a second consecutive month, down 0.5 per cent to $63.2 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors, led by the machinery, equipment and supplies, and the personal and household goods subsectors. In volume terms, wholesale sales declined 0.7 per cent. In the third quarter, wholesale sales increased 0.6 per cent in current dollars, while constant dollar sales were unchanged. This was the 10th consecutive quarterly increase in current dollars. In September, lower sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors, which together accounted for 68 per cent of total wholesale sales. Sales declined 6.4 per cent in the farm, lawn, and garden machinery and equipment industry. Sales in the personal and household goods subsector declined 1.6 per cent. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased 1.5 per cent to $9.5 billion, following a 3.9 per cent decline in August. The lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry sales rose three per cent, contributing the most to the gain. Wholesale inventories were up 0.6 per cent in September, offsetting the 0.6 per cent decrease in August. In dollar terms, the building material and supplies subsector recorded the largest gain ‒ 2.4 per cent ‒ as inventories rose in all industries.

IKEA Transformation Model Will Cut Canadian Jobs

IKEA has implemented a multi-year process to transform its global business model which includes Canada. Through this transformation, it will explore new store formats, enhance the in-store experience, invest in its digital experience, improve its service offer, and optimize its distribution networks. As a result, over the next two years at IKEA Canada, the company anticipates that many new roles will be created to support new competencies across the organization. At the same time, some jobs will also be relocated, changed, or removed. At the Canadian national service office, the company says up to 50 jobs may be redundant. Of the 6,300 co-workers in our retail units across Canada, approximately 100 jobs may also be impacted over this two-year period.

HSBC Launches Digital Lending Tool

HSBC Bank Canada is working with Biz2Credit to give Canadian small business owners access to a digital tool to apply for business financing. As a digital tool, HSBC eCredit will allow small business owners to apply for financing online. Currently available by invitation in selected areas, HSBC eCredit will be fully available country wide in English by December and in French the following month. The tool features minimal screens and questions to answer along with an intuitive interface. It utilizes cutting-edge technology and security to turn the traditional approach to lending into a more small-business-friendly digital experience.

Covertech Makes Changes

Ivana Nardone is rFOIL customer service representative at Covertech. She replaces Christine Rose, who is retiring. Sheldon West is Canadian sales manager. He replaces Peter Clarke, who is also retiring. West has five years of experience in the Canadian insulation industry. Both Rose and Clarke will remain with the company until the end of December to ensure a smooth transition.

Strong Sales For Beacon Roofing Supply

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had net sales of $1.94 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 50.1 per cent over net sales of $1.29 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. Residential roofing product sales increased 17.8 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales increased 33.8 per cent, and complementary product sales increased 170.6 per cent over the prior year. Existing markets sales, excluding acquisitions, decreased 5.6 per cent for the quarter primarily due to weather related events. Net income was $42.3 million, compared to $45.1 million in 2017. Adjusted net income was $84.1 million, compared to $65.8 million in 2017. Fourth quarter results were positively impacted by price gains across all product lines and improved gross margin performance.

November 22, 2018

Quebec To Have Record 2018 Home Sales

The Quebec residential real estate market achieved record sales in 2017 and that record will be shattered in 2018 with more than 86,000 transactions forecast by the end of the year, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) in partnership with Desjardins. All census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in the province except Trois-Rivières are on track to post growth in the number of transactions this year. Montreal's real estate market continues to outperform the rest of the province with time-to-sale also falling sharply. Condominiums are the strongest category, followed by plexes. The suburbs ‒ particularly the South Shore and the Laval region ‒ are doing well, with increases of 12 per cent and seven per cent respectively to date in 2018. The North Shore has had four per cent increase in sales. The QFREB expects 2019 to start with a bang for the residential real estate market, with activity gradually slowing in the second semester due to steadily rising borrowing costs. The five-year mortgage rates posted by the main financial institutions will continue to climb, adding half a percentage point to end 2019 at around six per cent. Ultimately, the QFREB expects a slight one per cent increase in the number of transactions in 2019, for a new record of 87,650 sales.

Private Label Helping Consumers Make Ends Meet

Despite the U.S. economy growing at a strong 3.5 per cent annual growth rate in the third quarter, 49 per cent of consumers are making sacrifices to make ends meet, says the ‘IRI Consumer Connect’ survey. Consumers are continuing to rely on private label products to stretch their dollars. In fact, the report reveals that eight in 10 Americans buy private label products frequently or occasionally in order to save money. Private label products are quite popular with younger consumers, who tend to be driven more by product benefits than by brand name. Ninety-two per cent of Millennials are turning to private label products to save money, compared to 86 per cent of Generation Xers, 81 per cent of Baby Boomers, and 77 per cent of seniors. Consumers say private label quality is as good as national brands and often offer better value than national brands. Millennials, in particular, have very favourable views of private labels, with 76 per cent saying the quality is as good and 73 per cent saying the value is better. These viewpoints are making a positive impact on private label dollar sales, which increased 5.8 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent for national brands during the past year. In addition, private label unit sales increased 3.8 per cent compared to national brand unit sales decreases of 0.2 per cent during the past year.

IPG Completes Powerband Acquisition

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (IPG) has completed its acquisition of the outstanding 26 per cent interest in Powerband Industries Private Limited. IPG now owns all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Powerband after this transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval in India. The company had already transitioned all management responsibilities to an IPG-appointed management team earlier this year so this transaction will not have any impact on day-to-day operations. The acquisition provides IPG with additional capacity for acrylic carton-sealing tapes in a low-cost manufacturing region with the goal of exporting these competitively-priced tape products to North America and Europe. Having this overseas asset has also enabled IPG to expand its market share in North America and negotiate better terms on raw materials for U.S. production of similar packaging tapes.

Skymer Joins Derby

Amber Skymer is senior product manager at Derby Building Products Inc., manufacturer of the Tando and Novik brands of exterior cladding. In this role, she will develop and lead programs targeting the builder, contractor, architect, and designer. She will also serve as Derby’s lead on market knowledge for competitive products and categories. Most recently, she worked as category manager at Wolf Organization.

Leon's Third-quarter Sales Flat

Leon's Furniture Limited had sales of $707 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase over sales of $706.5 million in the third quarter of 2017. Gross margin as a percentage increased 94 basis points to 43.6 per cent. The company had adjusted net income of $34.3 million for the quarter, down from adjusted net income of $34.4 million in the year-ago period.

November 21, 2018

Divestures Affect Lowe's Earnings

Lowe's Companies Inc. had net earnings of $629 million for the third quarter of 2018, a decrease over net earnings of $872 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Net earnings were 3.61 per cent of sales compared to 5.2 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings reflected asset impairment and severance obligations related to closing underperforming stores in Canada and the U.S. as well as the decision to exit retail operations in Mexico. The company has also decided to exit non-core activities including Alacrity Renovation Services and Iris Smart Home. Sales for the third quarter increased 3.8 per cent to $17.4 billion from $16.8 billion in the third quarter of 2017 and comparable sales increased 1.5 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement sector increased two per cent year-over-year. Gross margin was $5.66 billion or 32.5 per cent of sales compared to $5.71 billion and 34.07 per cent of sales.

October U.S. Construction Starts Soar 21 Per Cent

New U.S. construction starts in October climbed 21 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $864 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The substantial increase followed three straight months of decline, during which the pace of total construction starts fell 22 per cent from the exceptionally strong volume reported in June. Non-residential building surged 53 per cent, as several very large projects lifted the manufacturing plant, office building, and transportation terminal categories. Non-building construction advanced 14 per cent in October, supported by growth for public works while the electric utility/gas plant category bounced back from depressed activity in September. Residential building edged up a slight two per cent, helped by improvement for multi-family housing. During the first 10 months of 2018, total construction starts were up one per cent from the same period a year ago. October’s data raised the index to 183, up from September’s 150, marking the second highest reading for the index so far in 2018 after June’s 192. Through the first 10 months of 2018, the index averaged 169, up slightly from the full year 2017 average of 166.

McGill Opens Bensadoun School Of Retail Management

McGill University has opened its Bensadoun School of Retail Management (BSRM) which will act as a hub in the heart of Montreal for students, researchers, and practitioners to work collaboratively towards addressing the host of real-world challenges facing retailers today. As an interdisciplinary, forward-looking school dedicated to all facets of the retail industry, its researchers will focus on fostering sustainable consumption and healthy societies. BSRM and McGill are committed to equipping the next generation of retail leaders with the necessary tools and knowledge to address the retail industry's transformation. A first cohort of students entered the retail management concentration of the BCom program this fall. The PhD in Management with a specialization in retail management is set to admit its first students in the fall of 2019 and a specialized Masters of Management in retail is scheduled for 2020. Executive education is set to be launched in 2019 with both custom and open-enrollment offerings. A key area of focus for BSRM will be sustainability, which is central to the transformation of retailers' practices and products.

Giant Tiger Opens Ottawa Location

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Ottawa, ON. The 19,294-square-foot store will be stocked with on-trend home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

NCI Closes Ply Gem Merger

NCI Building Systems, Inc. has completed its merger with Ply Gem Parent, LLC. The completion of the transaction follows the satisfaction of all customary closing conditions, including approval of the merger by NCI shareholders. NCI shareholders retained a 53 per cent ownership of the company’s common equity with Ply Gem shareholders now owning 47 per cent. The combination will increase the companies' scale, broaden product offerings, and expand the customer base. In addition, the new company will be a stronger, more diversified enterprise serving all channels of the construction markets – residential, repair and remodel, and commercial. The company will operate under a name to be determined and each entity will preserve its existing established brands. It will be headquartered in Cary, NC, with a significant presence in Houston, TX.

Hultafors Group Names President

Peter J. Chatel has been named chief executive officer of Johnson Level and president of Hultafors Group North America, effective November 26. Previously, he was a member of the senior executive team who led the turnaround of Senco Brands resulting in the successful transition of the business from private equity to Kyocera. Hultafors Group acquired Johnson Level & Tool in April.

Griffon Has Strong Revenue

Griffon Corporation had revenue from continuing operations of $546 million in the fourth quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, an increase of 27 per cent over revenue of $431 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Income from continuing operations was $1 million for the quarter compared to $4.3 million in the prior year quarter. Segment adjusted EBITDA was $67 million, up 26 per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $54 million a year ago. Revenue for the home and building products segment increased 55 per cent year-over-year. AMES revenue increased 72 per cent compared to the prior year quarter due to the acquisitions of Tuscan Path, CM, Harper, and Kelkay. Earnings for the segment increased 40 per cent.

November 20, 2018

September Manufacturing Sales Remain Flat

Manufacturing sales edged up 0.2 per cent in September to $58.5 billion, following a 0.5 per cent decrease in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales increased in eight of 21 industries, led by higher sales in the transportation equipment industry. However, these gains were largely offset by declines in the machinery and wood product industries. Constant dollar sales edged down 0.1 per cent, indicating a lower volume of goods sold. Wood product sales were down for the fourth consecutive month, declining 2.9 per cent to $2.9 billion in September. Many wood product manufacturers indicated that they experienced lower demand and lower prices in the previous four months. Exports of lumber and other sawmill and millwork products were also down in the previous three months. Six provinces posted higher manufacturing sales in September, led by Ontario. Decreases in New Brunswick and Manitoba partially offset the increase. The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.44. This ratio measures the time in months that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level. Unfilled orders increased 0.4 per cent to $95 billion and this was the eighth consecutive monthly gain.

Sico Moves Quebec Operations To Ontario

Paint manufacturer Sico will close its Montreal, QC-based distribution centre and Quebec City, QC-based plant in September 2019 to relocate its architectural coatings production to Ontario. Sico was founded in Quebec City in 1937, was acquired by AkzoNobel in 2006, and then acquired by PPG Industries Inc. in 2013. PPG says the move is necessary to remain competitive in the market. The move will optimize manufacturing output and distribution capacity according to product demand. The company also says it will retain various Quebec branches as well as Sico administrative offices in Longueuil, QC.

Employers Should Prepare For Holiday Work Parties

With the holiday season just around the corner, employers should take proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees who attend holiday parties or other workplace celebrations, say David W. Foster and Pamela M. Hillen in a Hicks Morley ‘FTR Now’ bulletin. The authors say employers face a risk of liability should an employee be permitted to drink too much at a work-related function. Liability can also arise from the actions of an employee who becomes impaired at a workplace function and then engages in inappropriate behaviour. With the legalization of recreational cannabis in October, there may also be a concern with impairment from cannabis use during workplace functions. Employers should consider the rules and requirements they have established regarding cannabis use; workplace policies may specifically prohibit the use of recreational cannabis at work-related functions. The bulletin says it is important to make expectations clear at any workplace function and prepare a strategy in advance that considers all possible scenarios. By planning ahead of time, employers can help avoid many of the problems associated with excess alcohol consumption and can help to ensure that an enjoyable and safe time is had by all, say the authors.

AI Powers Shopping Assistant

Shopbrain has launched an AI-powered shopping assistant that helps online shoppers in the U.S. and Canada find the best price in seconds. The browser extension can be added to Chrome and automatically activates when users browse for products online, searching other retailers across the web to find the best price on their chosen products. It says 86 per cent of Americans say that the ability to compare prices from several different sellers is important to their final purchasing decision. To find the lowest price online, consumers spend time researching the best price before making a decision on a product. Through AI, more than one billion products at 10,000 retailers, merchants, and search engines, including Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, and Google Shopping, can be searched. The Shopbrain shopping assistant always provides customer reviews for products, so shoppers can evaluate quality against price.

Coyle Joins ADS

Patrick Coyle is vice-president, logistics and supply chain planning, with Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS), effective November 26. He brings more than 15 years of experience in executing end-to-end supply chain programs, driving continuous improvement initiatives, and leading organizational change. Most recently, he served as senior director of supply chain, Americas, at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

James Hardie Profit Rises

James Hardie had adjusted net operating profit of $80.9 million for the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, a seven per cent increase over the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year. Adjusted EBIT was $106.9 million for the quarter, a one per cent increase year-over-year. Net sales increased 23 per cent to $644.6 million. The North American fiber segment volume increased five per cent compared to the year-ago period; with EBIT margin for the segment up 22.8 per cent. The Europe building products segment adjusted EBIT margin increased 9.7 per cent year-over-year. The company says that after a detailed review of its product portfolio and business segments to focus on its core business, it will discontinue the windows business and the multiple contour trim product line and simplify the core ColorPlus product offering.

November 19, 2018

Tariffs Increase Building Costs

Contractor prices for the construction of new non-residential buildings increased 1.5 per cent while prices for new residential buildings were up 0.8 per cent in the third quarter, says Statistics Canada. The rise in the cost of both non-residential and residential building construction was attributable to higher prices for steel and metal products, both affected by the tariffs imposed in June 2018. According to the Industrial Product Price Index, prices for primary ferrous metal products rose 14.3 per cent from January to September. Increases in contractor prices were observed for all types of new non-residential buildings and in all 11 surveyed census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Prices rose the most in Ottawa, ON, Vancouver, BC, and Montreal, QC. Prices for the construction of new non-residential buildings were up 4.3 per cent over the 12-month period ending in the third quarter. Construction costs rose for all types of residential buildings and in all CMAs covered by the survey. The largest gains were in Ottawa, followed by St. John's, NL, and Halifax,. Ottawa also led the price gain for the construction of single-detached houses and townhouses. Prices charged by contractors for new residential building construction were up six per cent over the 12-month period ending in the third quarter. Prices rose the most in Winnipeg, MB.

American Express Supports Small Business

American Express is encouraging cardmembers to 'Shop Small' with the launch of its latest campaign in support of Canadian small business. As part of the ongoing Shop Small program, the campaign brings cardmembers closer to the small businesses they already love and helps them discover new independent businesses in their communities. First launched in 2013, the Shop Small program continues its efforts to bring value to small merchants and cardmembers. The program is part of American Express' strategic approach to supporting Canadian small businesses and broadening acceptance and it's seeing results. In 2017, over 70,000 additional small businesses started to accept American Express cards. After the success of last year's Toronto, ON-focused campaign, Shop Small has expanded to include four key markets: Toronto, Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; and Montreal, QC. Consumers get a $5 statement credit when they spend $5 at a participating small merchant and up to $25 in statement credits when they shop up to five times at different participating locations with their American Express card during the offer period.

Canfor To Invest In VIDA Group

Canfor Corporation plans to purchase 70 per cent of the VIDA Group of Sweden. The current owners of VIDA will retain a 30 per cent interest and continue to manage the day-to-day business. "With the acquisition of VIDA, we are excited to become a truly international manufacturer and provider of wood product solutions for our global customers," says Don Kayne, president and chief executive officer of Canfor. "This transformational growth will allow Canfor to further diversify and secure a worldwide fibre supply to meet the growing demand of our customers for high quality wood products." VIDA is Sweden's largest privately-owned sawmill company, operating nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet. All of the sawmills produce spruce and pine products and are strategically located in high quality and sustainable fibre regions of Sweden. In addition, VIDA has nine value-added facilities that include premium packaging, modular housing, industrial products, and energy. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Building Professionals Going Green

Almost half (47 per cent) of architects, engineers, contractors, and other building professionals say they are planning to do the majority (60 per cent) of their projects green by 2021, says the 'World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report' by Dodge Data & Analytics. The report indicates that the international market for green construction projects has grown significantly in the last 10 years and demand for green building activity is poised to grow by double in some regions. Green buildings provide a triple win – delivering measurable benefits for building owners, occupants, and the public from reduced operating costs, improved indoor air quality and reduced energy consumption. Business benefits include operating cost values and increased building asset values. Similar benefits are reported for green building retrofits and renovations. The report finds that the biggest challenge to increased green building – the perception that it costs more than traditional construction – declined dramatically from over three-quarters in 2012 to under half today. Healthier buildings emerge as a top green priority in the study. For example, the top social drivers for green buildings include improved occupant health and well-being and increased worker productivity.

2017 Global DIY Market Increases 2.6 Per Cent

In 2017, the DIY/home improvement world market turnover reached €589 billion, an increase of 2.6 per cent compared to 2016, says Fediyma (European Federation of DIY Manufacturers). North America and Europe combined represent approximately 85 per cent of this market, although their joint population accounts for only 15 per cent of the world population. The DIY markets of these two continents total €503 billion. North America and Europe cover 60 per cent and 28 per cent of the world market respectively. North America had the highest average DIY expenditure per capita in 2017 at €919. Approximately 81 per cent of the global DIY market (€477 billion) is concentrated in eight countries: the U.S., Germany, Canada, Japan, the UK, France, Australia, and Italy. Home Depot and Lowe's account for 25 per cent of the global retail market share.

Lalonde Succeeds Longworth As CFO

Remi Lalonde is senior vice-president and chief financial officer at Resolute Forest Products Inc. Previously, he was vice-president, strategy and corporate development. He succeeds Jo-Ann Longworth, who is retiring after seven years in the role.

Slight Rise In Walmart Revenue

Walmart had total revenue of $124.9 billion for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 1.4 per cent over total revenue of $123.2 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales at Walmart International were $28.8 billion for the quarter, a decline of 2.6 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. Comparable sales for the quarter increased 3.4 per cent year-over-year. Operating income was $5 billion, up from $4.8 billion last year. eCommerce sales grew 32 per cent.

November 16, 2018

Home Sales Slide

National home sales declined in October, falling 1.6 per cent from September, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down by 3.7 per cent from one year ago and the number of newly-listed homes eased 1.1 per cent. CREA says while activity is still stronger compared to the first half of 2018, it remains below monthly levels recorded from early 2014 through 2017. Transactions declined in more than half of all local markets, led by Hamilton-Burlington, ON; Montreal, QC; and Edmonton, AB. Although activity did improve modestly in many markets, it was offset by a decline in sales elsewhere by a factor of two. There were 5.3 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of October. While this remains in line with its long-term national average, the number of months of inventory is well above its long-term average in the Prairie provinces and in Newfoundland and Labrador. By contrast, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are the two provinces where the measure remains more than one standard deviation below its long-term average. In other provinces, the number of months of inventory is closer to the long-term average and suggests that sales and inventory are well balanced.

Hillman Relocates

The Hillman Group, Inc., a solution provider for the retail hardware market, will relocate its Canadian national distribution centre and head office to a newly designed, 400,000-square-foot facility in the Metro East Business Park in Toronto, ON. "Over the past two years, we have invested considerable time and resources implementing new sales processes, along with warehouse and forecasting systems across our existing branch network," says Scott Ride, president of Hillman Canada. "All of these system changes, in conjunction with the move to a new and expanded western regional hub in Edmonton, AB, were developed with an eye to create an industry-leading distribution platform in the Canadian fastener and hardware market." Now that construction of the Toronto facility is approaching completion, Hillman is entering the last phase of its Canadian modernization plan, consolidating seven operations around the Greater Toronto Area. Starting in early 2019, a phased move of the company's $200+ million Canadian business will begin in the new location.

SPG Files For Bankruptcy Protection

Toolbox manufacturer SPG International has filed for protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, says Drummondville, QC-based Journal Express. The 60-year-old company, located in Drummondville, has experienced significant financial difficulties for several years. The company filed on September 21 and ceased manufacturing activities November 5. The company has six months to submit a proposal to its creditors. SPG manufactured the Craftsman brand toolboxes for Sears Canada.

West Fraser To Reduce BC Production

West Fraser will permanently curtail approximately 300 million board feet of combined lumber production at its Fraser Lake and Quesnel, BC, sawmills. The curtailment will be realized through the elimination of the third shift at each sawmill. British Columbia faces a timber supply shortage owing to the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. In anticipation of this decline, West Fraser has invested in excess of $500 million in its British Columbia assets to improve the safety and competitiveness of its mills to attain maximum value from the available timber resource. Today’s decision better aligns the company's production with current timber supply.

Schneider Electric Launches Home Monitoring System

Schneider Electric has launched its Wiser Energy System, an integrated monitoring system for residential homes that provides insights into activity and energy use. Wiser Energy is a digital app that provides real-time, easy-to-understand, and actionable data to help homeowners make their homes greener, more efficient, and wiser, says the company. The solution offers real-time access to energy usage and data in the home, accessible through a connected application so the information can be viewed from anywhere. The data and visibility enable homeowners to take control of their energy usage, improve efficiency, and maximize savings. The app will self-identify individual devices in the home using big data algorithms. It can also optimize solar installations.

Clark Leads Supply Chain

Doug Clark is senior vice-president, supply chain, at Lumber Liquidators. He joined the company in 2017. His promotion is part of the company's leadership transition and succession plans.

Acquisitions Drive CanWel Margins

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had revenues of $350.2 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 10.5 per cent compared to revenues of $316.8 million in the third quarter of 2017. Gross margin dollars for the quarter totaled $50.8 million or 14.5 per cent of revenues. EBITDA was $20.1 million. Net earnings were $8.5 million. The construction materials segment sales made up 58 per cent of the company sales with the balance made up of 35 per cent specialty and allied products and seven per cent forestry and other products. Gross margin dollars were $50.8 million, an increase of 20.9 per cent over gross margin dollars of $42 million. Gross margin percentage increased to 14.5 per cent of revenues versus 13.3 per cent during the same period in 2017. The increase in margin dollars and percentage mainly reflects margin improvements due to CanWel’s acquisitions. EBITDA for the period was down 5.6 per cent to $20.1 million compared to $21.3 million last year.

November 15, 2018

Holiday Shoppers To Spend More, Start Earlier

Canadians are planning on spending more when it comes to shopping for the holidays this season. In fact, 84 per cent say they will spend as much or more on their holiday gift shopping this year and plan to shell out an average of $602, up from $570 in 2017, says a poll by Ebates.ca. Those who seem to be feeling most flush are parents, with an anticipated spend of $762, and those from the east coast at $734. Roughly half of Canadians plan to shop on Black Friday (50 per cent) and Cyber Monday (44 per cent), when they expect to knock off about one-third of their holiday gift list. Shoppers are happier when they shop early, with 82 per cent saying holiday shopping is just not fun the later it gets, agreeing that the selection gets worse (87 per cent) as well as the deals (58 per cent). eCommerce continues to play a big role for the holidays, with the majority (83 per cent) of shoppers planning to do at least some of their shopping online this year. The poll demonstrates that Canadians expect to accomplish a good portion of their Black Friday (31 per cent) and Cyber Monday (33 per cent) shopping online and most will be including themselves on the gift list. One in four Canadians admit they will be shopping for solely themselves on Black Friday (23 per cent) and Cyber Monday (24 per cent), while the majority say they will be shopping for both themselves and others (62 per cent on Black Friday and 64 per cent on Cyber Monday).

Investment Increasing In ‘Outcome-drive Media’

The vast majority (86 per cent) of marketers in the U.S. and in Canada are likely to increase their investment in 'outcome-driven media' in next 12 to 24 months to map their digital media investments much more closely to their ultimate marketing and business goals, a top priority for 2019, says a survey by Xaxis. Almost eight out of 10 (78 per cent in both the U.S. and Canada) also say they would seek to work with outcome-driven media partners. Outcome-driven media uses a combination of data-driven insights, market knowledge, technical prowess, and partnership to engineer a custom media-proxy that is more aligned with the advertiser's ultimate goals.

UL Opens Building Envelope Test Facility

UL is expanding its services for the building envelope and building sciences market with the opening of a facility in Toronto, ON. The facility offers additional building science and building envelope testing services to the Canadian market. UL CLEB, a UL company, is a Canadian building science and building envelope service provider, delivering building envelope testing services, building forensic services, field testing, and building envelope commissioning services for architects, building owners, manufacturers, and installers in the building construction markets across North America. UL acquired Montreal, QC, based CLEB in 2017. The Toronto facility can accommodate all forms of building envelope assemblies. The facility contains both a fenestration lab and a mock-up lab that can test full scale window wall, curtain wall, and wall assemblies. The mock-up lab is located indoors in a 7,200-square-foot facility equipped with a 50-ton overhead crane and can test to a maximum sample size of 40-feet high. The mock-up lab is among the largest indoor facilities in Canada. The fenestration lab is equipped to test any sample size.

Boise Cascade Sales Rise

Boise Cascade Company had consolidated sales of $1.3 billion for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of nine per cent over consolidated sales of $1.2 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was $13.8 million compared to $31.7 million, a decrease of 56 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $42.7 million compared to $75.8 million, a decrease of 44 per cent. Wood product sales increased 10 per cent year-over year while building materials distribution sales increased 11 per cent. The company said it was impacted by taxes and the economic climate.

Continental Has Strong Income

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net income of $18.6 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 69 per cent over net income of $11 million in the third quarter of 2017. EBITDA was $38.6 million for the quarter, an increase of 21.4 per cent. Net sales increased 12.6 per cent to $131.2 million from $116.5 million and gross margin increased to 28.1 per cent compared to 24.5 per cent last year. Operating income was $27 million, compared to $19.7 million in the prior year quarter.

November 14, 2018

Home Depot Has Increased Sales

The Home Depot had sales of $26.3 billion for the third quarter of 2018, a 5.1 per cent increase from sales in the third quarter of 2017. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 4.8 per cent and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 5.4 per cent year-over-year. Canadian comparable sales were also up compared to last year. Total transactions were up 1.2 per cent and the comparable average ticket was up 3.5 per cent. Net earnings were $2.9 billion compared with net earnings of $2.2 billion in the same period a year ago. Categories that were above the company average included appliances, electrical, plumbing, decor, and flooring. Online sales growth was up 28 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

Canfor To Acquire Elliott Sawmilling Co.

Canfor Corporation plans to purchase Elliott Sawmilling Co., Inc. located in Estill, SC. The transaction will be completed in two phases and is anticipated to close in the first half of 2019. Elliott has a production capacity in excess of 210 million board feet and the sawmill consists of both large and small log lines. Canfor says the purchase will further expand its production capacity to meet the growing demand of customers.

Private Label Products Helping Consumers Save

Half (49 per cent) of U.S. consumers are still making sacrifices to make ends meet despite the U.S. growing at a strong 3.5 per cent annual growth rate in the third quarter. And, consumers continue to rely on private label products to stretch their dollars. IRI's 'Private Label 2018' report reveals that eight in 10 Americans buy private label products frequently or occasionally in order to save money. Private label products are quite popular with younger consumers, who tend to be driven more by product benefits than by brand name. Ninety-two per cent of Millennials are turning to private label products to save money, compared to 86 per cent of Generation Xers, 81 per cent of Baby Boomers, and 77 per cent of seniors. IRI says the opinion of private label products also continues to improve; 69 per cent of consumers say private label quality is as good as national brands; and 68 per cent say private labels offer better value than national brands. Millennials, in particular, have very favourable views of private labels, with 76 per cent saying the quality is as good and 73 per cent saying the value is better. These viewpoints are making a positive impact on private label dollar sales, which increased 5.8 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent for national brands during the past year. In addition, private label unit sales increased 3.8 per cent compared to national brand unit sales decreases of 0.2 per cent during the past year.

Mohawk Heads North American Flooring

Paul De Cock is president of the flooring North America segment of Mohawk Industries. For the past 10 years, he has served as president of the floor covering division of the flooring rest of the world segment.

ADS Income Up 63 Per Cent

Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) had net income of $29.4 million for the second quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of 63.6 per cent compared to net income for the second quarter of 2017, partly due to margin improvement and cost containment initiatives. Net sales were $406.6 million for the quarter, an increase of 1.4 per cent compared to net sales of $401 million in the year-ago period. International net sales increased 12.4 per cent to $55.3 million as compared to $49.2 million in the prior year, driven by sales growth in Canada, Mexico, and the company’s exports business. Adjusted EBITDA was $71.5 million for the quarter, an increase of 6.9 per cent over the same period a year ago. Gross profit increased 6.2 per cent, to 23.5 per cent of sales.

November 13, 2018

Home Hardware Opens Second St. John's Location

Home Hardware is opening a second location in St. John's, NL. Christine Hand and Craig Smith are co-owners of Home Hardware Torbay Road and bring 65 combined years of hardware retailing expertise to their community. The store offers approximately 19,000 square feet of retail space and will carry all the traditional hardware lines plus paint, housewares, plumbing, electrical, seasonal merchandise, and home décor. “We are excited to open the new store in an area that has been lacking a neighbourhood hardware store for the last few years,” says Smith. “We are proud to be bringing Home Hardware and all it has to offer to the east end of the city and we look forward to serving the local community with an extensive product selection and exceptional customer service.”

St-Hubert Store Joins BMR

St-Hubert, QC-based Quincaillerie Mario Gélineau has joined the BMR Group dealer network. Owners Stéphane Baril and Annie-Claude Hamelin decided to join the banner to stand out from the closest competitors and offer promotions and product lines at competitive prices. The store, which was established 30 years ago, will display the BMR Express banner, a variation of the traditional BMR banner developed for smaller stores. With the change of banner, the store will also change its name to Quincaillerie Stéphane Baril. Quincaillerie Stéphane Baril is the 25th store to join BMR Group this year.

Omni-channel Retailing Driving Garden Product Growth

The global home and garden products consumer eCommerce market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.09 per cent from 2018 to 2022, says a report by ResearchandMarkets. Key players in the market include Lowe’s, Wayfair, Amazon, and Home Depot. Drivers of the market include the growth of omni-channel retailing, better return policies, and easier product comparisons. One challenge affecting this market is the criticality of logistics management leading to high overhead costs. This weakens profit margins.

Garcia Has New Role

Dawn Garcia is director of marketing at Roseburg Forest Products. She joined the company in 2013 and has held various roles in marketing and communications, most recently as marketing manager.

IKEA Has Eight Per Cent Sales Gain

IKEA Canada had sales of $2.39 billion for the financial year ending August 31, 2018, an increase of eight per cent on the previous year. One of the drivers of the increase was accelerated growth online. Web visitation on IKEA.ca jumped to 104 million customers, contributing to $241.5 million in eCommerce sales, an increase of 18.8 per cent. This year, the retailer grew to 14 stores across Canada and in-store visitation rose 6.9 per cent year-over-year. The company says it is transforming its business model and exploring new formats to optimize its distribution networks and enhance its digital tools and service offering. In 2018, the retailer opened a distribution centre in British Columbia and four collection points in Ontario and Quebec. The retailer also continues its focus on sustainability, diversity, and being a top employer.

Taiga Sales Increase

Taiga Building Products Ltd.’s sales for the third quarter increased to $399.6 million from $396.6 million in the same quarter last year. Gross margin dollars for the third quarter decreased $9.9 million or 26 per cent to $27.9 million compared to $37.8 million in the same quarter last year. Gross margin percentage for the third quarter was seven per cent compared to 9.5 per cent in the same quarter last year. The decrease in gross margin percentage was primarily due to falling commodity prices in the current quarter compared to the same quarter last year. Net earnings decreased to $5.6 million from $6 million in the same quarter last year primarily due to decreased gross margin dollars.

November 12, 2018

Montréal Real Estate Sales Jump

In total, 3,731 residential sales were concluded in October 2018, an 11 per cent jump compared to the same month last year, says the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This represents a new sales record for the month of October and the 44th consecutive increase in transactions. All six main areas of the Montréal CMA registered strong sales increases in October lead by Laval (17 per cent) and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (16 per cent). As has been the case for several months now, the condominium segment was the most active in October with a 22 per cent jump in sales (1,361 transactions). Sales were also up for single-family homes (1,971 transactions, a six per cent increase) and plexes with two to five dwellings (395 transactions, up five per cent). In October, there were 21,515 active residential listings in the real estate brokers' Centris system, a 17 per cent drop compared to one year earlier.

Momentum Index Moves Lower

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 4.2 per cent lower in October to 150.5 (2000=100) from the revised September reading of 157. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. October’s shortfall was the third consecutive monthly decline and the result of losses in both components of the index. The commercial component fell by 4.9 per cent from September to October, while the institutional component dropped 3.1 per cent. The commercial component has, in fact, been the impetus behind the recent string of declines in the overall index. This is consistent with the view that the commercial building sector is approaching a peak and should begin to gradually ease back over the coming year. The institutional component, meanwhile, has been relatively more stable due to the availability of public funds for projects such as schools and airport terminals.

Chinese Consumers Want Canadian-made Goods

Canadian businesses are increasingly looking at China as a future growth market to sell and export their products and services, says HSBC's first 'Navigator: Made for China' survey. The survey shows that China is projected to be an important market for future sales or exports for about three out of five (58 per cent) of Canadian businesses. And among Canadian businesses surveyed who are currently not selling or exporting to China, slightly under one-fifth (16 per cent) are likely to expand into China in the next three to five years. China's business environment is dynamic and can be rewarding for many foreign companies, especially those who conduct the proper research and carefully craft a strategy to execute. The top strategies for entering the Chinese market include selling directly (43 per cent), developing local distributor networks (42 per cent), and developing joint ventures (38 per cent). The top sales channels include direct sales through the company's website (62 per cent), sales through a third-party website (56 per cent), and direct sales through local eCommerce platforms (55 per cent). The top categories to export include technology and internet of things (IoT).

Norlen Has New Role

Kurt Norlen is national procurement manager for TIMBER MART. He has over 20 years of industry experience and five years of experience purchasing for TIMBER MART. Previously, he was building material procurement manager for western Canada.

Masonite Sales Up Eight Per Cent

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $557 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of eight per cent compared to net sales of $518 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net income was $25 million compared to $29 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter increased two per cent to $71 million versus $69 million last year. North American residential net sales were $368 million, a one per cent increase over the third quarter of 2017. Architectural net sales were $92 million, a 25 per cent increase from the third quarter of 2017. Total company gross profit increased seven per cent to $111 million in the quarter compared to $104 million in the third quarter of 2017. Gross profit margin decreased 20 basis points to 19.9 per cent, due primarily to higher inflation on raw materials and manufacturing wages and benefits.

HDI Has Increased Sales

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. had consolidated sales of $290.4 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 11.9 per cent over consolidated sales in the third quarter of 2017. Sales from Canada remained steady with a 0.6 per cent year-over-year improvement. Gross profit for the quarter increased $3.9 million to $51.4 million; gross profit margin was 17.7 per cent. Third quarter profit increased 11.4 per cent year-over-year, primarily reflecting the positive impact of a lower U.S. corporate tax rate. EBITDA was $13.4 million and adjusted EBITDA was $15.2 million.

November 9, 2018

Canadian Tire Topline Growth Strong

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had strong topline growth in its retail businesses for third quarter ended September 29. It attributes the growth to, among other things, the success of its Triangle Rewards and the national rollout of deliver-to-home capabilities. Retail segment revenue increased $338.3 million, or 11.4 per cent. Excluding petroleum, retail segment revenue increased 10.6 per cent. Canadian Tire Retail saw retail sales increase 2.4 per cent and comparable sales were up 2.2 per cent. FGL retail sales were up 1.6 per cent and comparable sales were up 2.2 per cent. Mark's retail sales grew 6.4 per cent and comparable sales increased 6.1 per cent. Helly Hansen revenue in the third quarter was $181.7 million. This quarter's results reflect the inclusion of Helly Hansen's operations for the first time.

Housing Starts Decline In October

The trend in housing starts was 206,171 units in October 2018, compared to 207,809 units in September 2018, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). "The national trend in housing starts declined for a fourth consecutive month in October, which leaves the trend at its lowest level since February 2017," says Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "However, despite declining for several months, the trend remains slightly above its long-run average because it follows historically elevated levels of activity in 2017."The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 205,925 units in October, up from 189,730 units in September. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 8.6 per cent in October to 191,964 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 16.8 per cent to 145,442 units in October while single-detached urban starts decreased by 10.7 per cent to 46,522 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,961 units.

Brands Want Better Use Of Data

With the retail landscape is changing at a blistering pace, it’s no wonder that 92 per cent of brands realize they could make better use of data, says a report from Askuity. Its ‘2019 POS Data Study’ shows the ability to get faster insights helps brands stay agile in an incredibly dynamic market. The rise of Amazon is forcing brands to pivot their strategy before they experience any losses. Brands who are still using human-error-prone spreadsheets are craving the efficiency that automation offers so they can spend less time managing data and more time analyzing it. Data-driven corporate cultures are supporting better, more profitable retail relationships that sell more. Brands that bring insights to buyer meetings more often are getting the attention of retail buyers who trust their data-backed suggestions. Those brands using less sophisticated tools for POS reporting are falling behind the competition, reporting lower forecasting abilities, lost shelf space, lower sales growth, and higher out of stock rates versus those who do. Brands that continue to use outdated tools are no longer merely at risk of falling behind the competition, they are already behind, it says. In three short years, brands have moved from warming up to the idea of using data in their daily operations to, in 2019, definitive proof that purpose-built POS analytics solutions are enabling sales teams to strengthen buyer relationships and effectively grow top line sales.

BMR Group Trade Show In Full Swing

Groupe BMR's '1028 Trade Show' kicked off November 8 and runs through today at the Quebec City Convention Centre in Quebec. More than 700 representatives from Groupe BMR dealers expected to meet roughly 330 exhibitors showcasing their products at the 75,000-square-foot-show. Features at this year's show include nine new categories of products and a dedicated space for learning about turnkey merchandising solutions that will be presented alongside special launch offers. As well, there is a pavilion dedicated to horticulture and agricultural products that houses several suppliers. The 2018 show also spotlights the group's digital shift and customer experience. The show will conclude with the 'BMR Gala' which will recognize dealers and suppliers who have excelled over the past year.

Scheltgen Handles Outside Sales

David Scheltgen is with the outside sales team at COAST DISTRIBUTORS (Nanaimo) LTD. His territory will be northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia. He has been working in the shipping/receiving department at the Nanaimo distribution centre for the last two years.

Newell Brands Sales Drop

Newell Brands had net sales from continuing operations of $2.3 billion for the third quarter of 2018, a decrease of 7.7 per cent from net sales from continuing operations of $2.5 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Core sales from continuing operations declined four per cent year-over-year. Operating margin was a negative 347 per cent for the quarter, reflecting an impairment charge, which more than offset significantly reduced restructuring and integration costs. Gross margin was 35.9 per cent compared with 35.1 per cent in the prior year. The company had a net loss of $7.1 billion compared with net income of $234 million in the prior year, with the decline primarily attributable to the total company impairment charge of $8.7 billion. Most segments had a slight decrease over the year-ago period.

November 8, 2018

Moderation Forecast In Housing Starts And Sales

Canada's housing markets should see a moderation in both housing starts and sales, says the '2018 Housing Market Outlook' by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Nationally, CMHC's outlook for 2019 projects total housing starts to edge down and range between 193,700 to 204,500 with the downward trend expected for both single and multi-unit starts. MLS sales are expected to be between 478,400 and 497,400 units annually. Housing starts activity and MLS Sales in British Columbia should moderate as economic and population growth slows. Meanwhile, buyers' market conditions in both Alberta and Saskatchewan should gradually shift to a balanced market with gradual improvement in economic and demographic fundamentals. In Ontario, the housing market saw dampened activity in 2018. Existing home sales and starts will post a partial recovery in 2019. In Quebec, housing starts and sales of existing homes will both be sustained, however, slower economic growth and rising borrowing costs will moderate activity through 2020. The Atlantic region will see sustained activity, notably in Nova Scotia, where existing home sales should trend higher while rental demand will drive growth in apartment construction.

Strong Growth Forecast For Interior Doors

A surge in residential and non-residential construction activities, a growing demand for energy-efficient and eco-friendly doors, a rise in home improvement and remodeling expenditures, and an increase in demand for recyclable raw materials are expected to boost the growth of the global interior doors market, says a report by Allied Market Research. The report shows the global interior doors market was pegged at $52.61 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $85.41 billion by 2025, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3 per cent from 2018 to 2025. Among door types, the panel doors segment held the largest market share of 65 per cent in 2017, owing to the significant demand for panel doors among home owners and builders for their weatherproof attribute and low-maintenance cost. However, the bypass doors segment is expected to portray the fastest CAGR of 7.3 per cent during the forecast period. Among product types, the wood segment accounted for more than half of the market share in 2017 and would remain dominant through the forecast period.

Retail Sales In The Doldrums

Canadian retail sales keep stumbling along at a modest pace and the holiday sales season doesn't look too promising at this stage, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending August, total retail sales were up 3.7 per cent on a non-adjusted basis. This is about half the 7.1 per cent gain recorded for last year overall. The three-month growth trend continues to track below the underlying 12-month trend, which in turn has been on a consistent slide since the start of the year. Without gasoline stations, there is an even steeper slide in retail sales growth in 2018, he says. Overall, eCommerce represented about 2.8 per cent of total retail sales for the 12 months ending August 2018, including both pure play operators as well as the online operations of bricks-and-mortar stores. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 13.5 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending August, but this is much less than the 3.9 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digits and are still much higher than for location based retail, but growth is slowing down.

FBM Sees Strong Sales

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM) had net sales of $542.3 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 15.9 per cent over net sales of $467.9 million for the third quarter of 2017. Net sales from base business branches contributed $52.3 million, or 12.5 per cent, of the increase. Gross profit for the quarter was $154 million, an increase of 13.4 per cent compared to gross profit of $135.9 million for the year-ago period. Gross margin was 28.4 per cent versus 29 per cent. Net loss was $37.6 million compared to net income of $100,000. For the third quarter, adjusted EBITDA was $43.7 million and adjusted EBITDA margin was 8.1 per cent compared to adjusted EBITDA of $36.4 million and adjusted EBITDA margin of 7.8 per cent last year.

Resolute Has Strong Income

Resolute Forest Products Inc. had net income of $117 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase compared to net income of $24 million for the third quarter in 2017. Sales were $974 million in the quarter, an increase of $89 million from the year-ago period. Consolidated operating income was $135 million compared to $121 million in the second quarter of 2018. Despite weaker lumber markets, overall results increased by $14 million, supported by higher pricing and improved productivity in its pulp and paper operations, says the company. Wood products operating income dropped $35 million to $45 million from the second to third quarter. EBITDA for the segment decreased to $53 million, compared to $86 million in the second quarter.

November 7, 2018

Quebec Leads Building Permit Issuance

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits in September, up 0.4 per cent from August, says Statistics Canada. The national increase was driven by higher construction intentions in Quebec. In the residential sector, the value of building permits edged up 0.3 per cent to $4.9 billion, posting the first increase in four months. Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings contributed to the rise. In the multi-family dwelling component, the value of permits rose 1.5 per cent to $2.7 billion while the value for building permits for single-family dwellings was down 1.2 per cent to $2.2 billion in September, the fourth consecutive monthly decrease. Municipalities approved the construction of 19,073 new dwellings, up 7.8 per cent from August. The increase was attributable to both single-family (3.3 per cent) and multi-family (9.4 per cent) dwellings. The value of building permits in the non-residential sector was up 0.6 per cent to $3.1 billion in September, due to higher construction intentions for institutional buildings. In the institutional component, the value of building permits rose 16.4 per cent from August to $806 million. In the commercial component, $1.7 billion worth of permits were issued in September, down 3.3 per cent from the previous month. The value of building permits in the industrial component fell 5.7 per cent to $636 million. Five provinces reported declines, with the most significant decreases in Quebec and British Columbia.

IKEA Canada Launches One-year Return Policy

IKEA Canada has launched a 365-day return policy that allows returns for unused product up to one year after purchase. Products including home furnishings and accessories can be returned to the retailer, either in their original packaging or assembled, allowing customers to test and try at-home. The policy was first introduced in early fall and has now rolled out to all markets from coast-to-coast, including eCommerce. With proof of purchase, customers can return any product, even if it's assembled, as long as it's in unused resalable condition. The return policy covers all IKEA products including unexpired food, with no exceptions. Customers will be refunded with the same method as their original payment.

Service To Help SMBs Enter Digital Space

Webware.io has partnered with Staples Canada to enable small businesses and entrepreneurs to leverage the digital world to build their business. As part of the partnership, Webware will have staff onsite in Staples stores to educate and counsel business owners on how they can enter the digital space and market to a broader audience. Webware staff will be onsite in four Staples stores in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area, and, over the next 18 months, its in-store presence will roll out in many Staples locations across Canada. "For businesses to be successful online, they need more than a website. They need a robust online strategy that does not require a large investment of their time," says Cory York, founder and CEO Webware. "In the last three years, Webware has helped more than 10,000 small business owners enter and grow a successful online presence. Extending our expertise in-store at Staples will enable us to help even more business owners lever the digital space to take their business to a new level."

Lowe’s Appoints Godbole As CIO

Seemantini Godbole is chief information officer with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective November 12. She currently serves as senior vice-president, digital and marketing technology, at Target Corporation. She brings more than 25 years of experience to the role.

OSB Demand Drives Norbord Earnings

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $211 million for the third quarter of 2018, a six per cent increase versus $200 million in the third quarter of 2017. North American operations had adjusted EBITDA of $190 million compared to $184 million in the same quarter last year, while European operations delivered adjusted EBITDA of $23 million versus $14 million. Adjusted earnings were $123 million for the quarter compared to $121 in the year-ago period. Demand for OSB was one of the drivers of the growth. North American OSB shipments increased 10 per cent year-over-year reflecting the restart of the Huguley, AL, mill in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Lower Log Sales Affect Acadian

Acadian Timber Corp. had net sales of $26.6 million for the third quarter of 2018, a decrease from net sales of $27.2 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was $5.9 million, down from $9.7 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.1 million on margin of 23 per cent compared to adjusted EBITDA of $6.7 million on margin of 25 per cent. The company says results reflect changes in foreign exchange dollars, long-term debt, and lower log sales.

November 6, 2018

Lowe's Closing 27 Canadian Stores, Consolidates Operations

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. will close 51 underperforming stores, including 27 stores in Canada, and has completed the consolidation of Lowe's Canada's operations at the Boucherville, QC, which will lead to the closing of the Mississauga, ON, and St. John's, NL, regional support centres in 2019. The retailer says the closures are the result of an ongoing strategic reassessment that will turn the focus to its most profitable stores and improve the overall health of its store portfolio. The Canadian stores represent approximately three per cent of its total retail network square footage. Lowe’s expects to close the impacted stores before the end of January 2019. To facilitate an orderly wind-down, the company intends to conduct store closing sales for most of the impacted locations with the exception of select stores in the U.S., which will close immediately. The Canadian closures – which comprise stores across the company’s Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot banners ‒ include one store in British Columbia, two in Alberta, nine in Ontario, nine in Quebec, and six in Newfoundland and Labrador. The consolidation of its operations will enable it ‘to improve collaboration between our banners to better serve our customers," says Sylvain Prud'homme, president and chief executive officer, Lowe's Canada. "The decision to close stores is never one that we make lightly. However, following a detailed business review, we believe that this is the right path for the organization's future." In addition to the store closures, a truss plant located in St. John's, NL, and a block plant located in Kamloops, BC, will also be closed.

Home Transformed To Seasonal Wonderland

Canadian Tire transformed a Toronto, ON, home into a festive wonderland, complete with this year’s trendiest decor and hottest toys. Each of the home’s rooms featured some of the more than 800 new items it will carry this year around specific colour themes including the colour of the year, Serene Rose ‒ a rose/gold combination with Scandinavian influences. It also featured some ‘hacks’ for hiding Christmas gift from snoopy little ones. These include unused suitcases and empty large boxes of cereal that children dislike. Tracy Platt, Canadian Tire’s resident style expert, and representatives from toy companies Mattel and Hasbro were on hand to explain some of the 2018 seasonal trends.

Kelowna Homeowners Choosing Renovations Over Selling

A Kelowna renovation contractor says he is seeing an increase in home renovations as well as the building of legal suites and house additions since the provincial government proposed changes to the British Columbia Speculation Tax earlier this year. The revised tax affects those who own secondary properties in certain British Columbia municipalities, including those in Kelowna and West Kelowna, where the government reports that vacancy rates are low. Norm Kneller, co-owner and operator of Rafter 4K Contracting Ltd., says a number of his clients are choosing to renovate their homes instead of selling due to the proposed speculation tax and its effect on the real estate market. Homeowners "now have a five-to-10-year plan to stay in their home until the market hopefully comes back," says Kneller. Another trend he has noticed is the increased demand in home additions and legal suites. Instead of secondary properties, some clients are looking to add a legal suite or addition to their home so that they can sell a portion of their property to a family member.

Canfor To Reduce Production

Canfor Corp. will be reducing production at its British Columbia sawmills by about 10 per cent this quarter, as a result of log supply challenges following a difficult wildfire seasons, uncompetitive log costs, and declining lumber prices. The curtailment will come in the form of decreased operating days and extended downtime at Christmas. Specifics on how the Prince George operations will be affected are not immediately available. The move comes as the union representing about 1,600 workers at 13 northern British Columbia sawmills ‒ including Canfor's PG Sawmill and Isle Pierre sawmills ‒ continue a campaign of rotating strikes in a bid to win a new contract. As well, members of three USW locals representing about 3,500 sawmill workers in the southern interior have voted in favour of giving their bargaining committee a strike mandate.

Foundation Building Materials Completes Insulation Segment Sale

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM) has completed the sale of its mechanical insulation segment. The company received $122.5 million, which remains subject to certain adjustments, and plans to use the net proceeds to pay down its revolving credit facility.

Lawson Products Has Strong Sales

Lawson Products, Inc. had sales of $88.5 million for the third quarter of 2018, up 17 per cent compared to sales of $75.7 million in the third quarter of 2017. Average daily sales increased to $1.405 million during the quarter compared to $1.201 million in the year-ago period. The ADS segment sales increased four per cent, excluding the Bolt Supply House. Operating loss was $2.3 million in the third quarter, compared to operating income of $1.1 million last year. Non-GAAP adjusted operating income was $5.6 million compared to $3.9 million, up 44.6 per cent.

Slower Earnings For Whirlpool

Whirlpool Corporation had net earnings of $210 million for the third quarter of 2018, a decrease over net earnings of $276 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were $5.3 billion, an increase of 1.5 per cent compared to net sales in the year-ago period, excluding the impact of currency. EBIT was $275 million, or 5.2 per cent of sales, compared to $310 million, or 5.7 per cent of sales. Whirlpool North America had net sales of $3 billion for the quarter, an increase of 5.3 per cent, excluding the impact of currency.

November 5, 2018

CBC Reports Newfoundland Stores Closing

The CBC is reporting that Lowe’s Canada will close its three corporate RONA stores in Newfoundland in January. It cites employees of the home improvement chain who were informed at a meeting on Sunday night. The stores will close January 27, 2019. RONA has stores in St. John's, Paradise, Bay Roberts, and Conception Bay South. RONA purchased the Chester Dawe stores in 2006. RONA was then purchased by Lowe’s in 2016. Independently owned RONA stores are not affected.

Consumers Want Product Transparency

Global consumers (70 per cent) are hungry for more transparency about the social, health, environment, and safety credentials of the products they buy rather than the companies that make them (30 per cent), finds 'The Honest Product Guide,' by the Consumer Goods Forum and global change agency Futerra. The guide says that consumers across the world are most likely to look for this information on product labels (36 per cent). Consumer interest in transparency will likely increase in the future, says the Consumer Goods Forum. It explores how transparency is changing in the era of low consumer trust and that breakthrough brands are being transparent in radically new ways, replicating the psychology of human honesty. "Every retailer and branded manufacturer today knows that transparency is essential to build the trust of their consumers and support sustainable growth," says Peter Freedman, managing director of the Consumer Goods Forum. "But in a world of transformed consumer expectations, social media, and other new technologies, we are all having to completely re-learn what transparency means and how to deliver it to shoppers." For more information, visit 'The Honest Product Guide.'

Moneris Launches Digital Marketing Analytics Tool

Moneris Solutions Corporation has launched Offlinx, a digital marketing business analytics tool which measures the impact of online advertising on in-store and online sales. The tool connects consumer browsing activities to purchase transactions, providing retailers with a view of their return on digital advertising investment. Offlinx is powered by a tagging mechanism that anonymously links browsing data to transactions that process through Moneris' national payment network. The proprietary solution uses multi-touch attribution, providing merchants with next-day results on channel sources driving customer purchases in-store and online. The tool features a store-level performance dashboard that presents confirmed in-store card transactions based on retail location and the driving channel sources, including eMails, referral sites, and social media. The daily performance dashboard collects key performance metrics for campaign tracking, including in-store revenue, average purchase amount, and web traffic. Users can customize the data filters to analyze and report on channel and store performance.

Carroll Becomes CHRO

Kathleen Carroll has been appointed senior vice-president and chief human resources officer (CHRO) with Grainger, effective December 3. She has more than 25 years of HR experience, most recently at First Midwest Bank, where she served as executive vice-president and CHRO.

Sales Strong For Trex

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated sales of $166 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 19 per cent compared to consolidated net sales in the third quarter of 2017. Residential product net sales were $147 million, up 12 per cent year-over-year, and commercial products sales were $19 million. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 40.4 per cent. Net income was $29 million, up 47 per cent from the net income of $20 million in the year-ago period.

Lumber Liquidators Has Increased Sales

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $270.5 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 5.2 per cent over net sales of $257.2 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales in comparable stores increased 2.1 per cent year-over-year, partly driven by the expansion of installation services, where sales in comparable stores was up 39 per cent. Gross profit was $100.7 million, an increase of 8.6 per cent over the previous-year quarter. Gross margin increased to 37.2 per cent from 36 per cent. Operating income for the quarter was $6.7 million compared to an operating loss of $17.3 million last year. Adjusted net income was $7.9 million, up from $3.5 million in the year-ago period.

November 2, 2018

Third Quarter Spending Increases Modestly

The third quarter of 2018 saw spending in Canada remain fairly consistent with the previous quarter, says the 'MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report' by Moneris Solutions Corporation. While spending was up 3.4 per cent over the same period last year, this modest increase is only slightly higher than last quarter, which saw a year-over-year spend increase of 3.3 per cent, the lowest quarterly growth in nearly four years. For the second quarter in a row, most provinces showed positive growth, except for Newfoundland which saw a slight decrease of 0.3 per cent, when compared with the third quarter of 2017. Quebec and British Columbia exceeded the national spend average, realizing a 5.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent increase, respectively, while Ontario matched the Canadian increase average of 3.4 per cent. August proved to be the strongest month of the quarter with an increase in spending of 4.5 per cent over last year, followed by July at 4.1 per cent and September, which saw a much smaller increase of 2.7 per cent. Contactless payment options accounted for 43.4 per cent of all payment card transactions made in the quarter, an increase in volume growth of 33.3 per cent year-over-year, demonstrating that Canadians are now further along the adoption curve.

Taiga Rebrands Categories

Taiga has rebranded and updated all of its product category logos and product category names. The changes include 'Taiga Select' to 'taiga exterior wood,' 'Taiga Synergy' to 'taiga floors & wall,' 'Taiga Premium Prime Mouldings' to 'taiga mouldings.' and a new design for taiga siding. Customers will begin to see the new names and logos in late 2018. The company notes that it is not changing any products, but simply refreshing its branding so it is more consistent throughout its various offerings in the marketplace.

Thermador Launches Smart Appliances

Thermador has launched redesigned products across every appliance category and its Home Connect system, a way for consumers to engage with smart appliances. The products include built-in coffee machines, cooktops, dishwashers, ovens, and ranges. The redesign of the company's Masterpiece and Professional Collections features contemporary and sleek designs. "Thermador's ground-breaking new products were developed to establish a new connection with consumers," says Steve Preiner, director of marketing, BSH Home Appliances. "Through its open platform, Home Connect leads the home appliance industry by providing a growing network of partners, products, and services to provide greater convenience and control." The Thermador Connected Experience by Home Connect offers consumers access to a world of culinary inspiration, including exclusive recipes and product tutorials, remote appliance control from a smart device, and remote diagnostics for product assistance from Thermador's customer care. To create the system, Thermador aligned itself with a number of partners including Nest, IFTTT (if this then that), and EVE for Tesla.

IKO Expands Into Metal Roofing Market

IKO Industries Ltd. will acquire the operations of the Roof Tile Group (RTG) from New Zealand-based manufacturer and builder Fletcher Building. RTG manufactures metal roofing tiles for global sales and distribution under a number of brand names, including Decra and Gerard. The purchase will expand IKO's global manufacturing and operations footprint to include production sites in New Zealand, Hungary, Malaysia, and the U.S. It is part of IKO's global growth strategy as well as part of its expansion into the metal roofing business beyond its partnership with Metrotile NV, particularly in the North American market. RTG will continue to operate on a 'business as usual' basis while IKO gains familiarity with its operations.

Masco Has Solid Sales

Masco Corporation had net sales of $2.1 billion for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of eight per cent over net sales in the third quarter of 2017. In local currency, North American sales increased 12 per cent and international sales decreased six per cent. For the quarter, gross margins decreased 210 basis points to 21.6 per cent from 33.8 per cent a year ago. Operating margins decreased 160 basis points to 14.3 per cent from 15.9 per cent. Plumbing products net sales increased four per cent; decorative architectural products net sales increased 20 per cent; cabinetry products net sales increased four per cent; and windows and other specialty products net sales decreased three per cent year-over-year.

Stanley B&D Sales Up Four Per Cent

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.5 billion for the third quarter of 2018, a four per cent increase over net sales in the third quarter of 2017. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 35.4 per cent. Sales in the tools and storage segment increased three per cent to $2,448 million; sales in the industrial segment increased 10 per cent to $562 million; and sales in the security segment increased one per cent to $485 million. Overall net earnings were $247.8 million compared to $274.5 million in the year-ago period.

November 1, 2018

AQMAT Launches 'Well Made Here' Platform

The 'Bien fait ici/Well Made Here' organization has been officially launched in Montréal, QC. As of spring 2019, thousands of hardware products and building materials bearing the Bien fait ici/Well Made Here label will be found in over 2,500 hardware stores and home improvement centres owned by or affiliated to the 10 banners ‒ Ace, BMR, Castle, Home Hardware, Lowe's Canada, Patrick Morin, Réno Dépôt, RONA, Timber Mart, and Unimat. The organization's raison d'être is to provide comprehensive information to consumers on local, quality products, where to buy them with confidence, and who to turn to for worry-free renovation work carried out by professionals. "When it comes to building materials and hardware products, homeowners want to use the best products on the market, provided that the price is justified," says Richard Darveau, president and chief executive officer of the Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT), who initiated the project. "Yet, how can two similar products, which sometimes have a considerable price difference, be compared fairly?" That is why the program requires that manufacturers provide accurate information about their products' characteristics such as place of manufacture, origin of components, use instructions, use limitations, warranty, designations, and compliance to various codes and standards, etc. The qualified products will stand out from imported and low added-value products through the provision of technical information and through promotional offers directed at DIYers and building contractors.

STANLEY Partners With Home Depot

STANLEY in the U.S. has made an exclusive deal with the Home Depot so the retailer will now be the exclusive home improvement retailer in the U.S. for its hand tools and storage product portfolio, both in-store and online, beginning in 2019. In addition, The Home Depot will also garner exclusivity across the STANLEY FATMAX product line. The Canadian marketing and sales executive teams are currently working out details regarding this transaction and should have more details in the coming year.

Canadian Tire Installs Pick-up Towers

Canadian Tire has installed automated, 16-foot self-serve pick-up towers at five locations across the country in Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; Saskatoon, SK; and Toronto, ON. Customers at these locations can now collect their online purchases via the towers. The Ottawa, ON, area will also see two new ways to pick-up online purchases. The retailer will introduce a fleet of self-serve lockers and automated check-in terminals. To use the check-in terminals, customers can enter a unique PIN code on the in-store tablet, prompting store staff to bring their order directly to them. These new in-store options are designed to make the online order pick-up faster and more convenient.

CertainTeed Calls For Submissions

CertainTeed is calling for project submissions for consideration in the '5th CertainTeed Gypsum National Trophy Awards,' recognizing outstanding work using its gypsum products. The award ceremony, to be held November 7 to 9 in Phoenix, AZ, will celebrate those projects selected by a panel of industry experts to be honoured in front of their peers as the best in the business. The trophy honours craftsmen and craftswomen who use CertainTeed solutions in sustainability, comfort, safety, aesthetics, and modularity to build a better world, the company says. The competition judges building professionals for their gypsum-related skills in residential and non-residential categories. Drywall and finishing contractors across Canada are welcomed to submit their most innovative drywall projects for consideration. The deadline to submit projects in May 1, 2019. For information, visit CertainTeed Trophy

Ingersoll Rand Has Double Digit Increase

Ingersoll Rand had net revenues of $4,031 million in the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 10 per cent over net revenues of $3,671 million in the third quarter of 2017. Operating income for the quarter was $587 million, an increase of 16 per cent over operating income of $506 million in the year-ago period. Operating margin increased to 14.6 per cent from 13.8 per cent year-over-year. The climate segment had net revenues of $3,239 million for the third quarter, an increase of 10 per cent over net revenues of $2,939 million last year. The industrial segment has net revenues of $792 million compared to $731 million, an increase of eight per cent.

Weyerhaeuser Sales Flat

Weyerhaeuser Company had net earnings of $255 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase over earnings of $130 million in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were $1.9 billion, even with sales in the same period a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $505 million versus $569 million. The timberlands segment had net sales of $653 million and EBITDA of $206 million for the quarter. Wood products had sales of $1,346 million and EBITDA of 250 million.

October 31, 2018

BMR Expands In Ontario

Two Ontario Unimat stores are now displaying the BMR Express banner. The switch of the St-Isadore and St-Albert Unimat stores to the banner is part of BMR Group's goal to increase brand awareness in Ontario. The stores will offer an improved product line to consumers and allow them to take advantage of the banner's promotions and pricing.

Lowe's Canada Expands CRAFTSMAN Line

Lowe’s Canada has expanded its selection of CRAFTSMAN products at all of its banners. The selection of tools available at Lowe's, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada now includes power tools, hand tools, and a select assortment of outdoor power equipment, including snow throwers and leaf blowers. The retailer says it will be adding more products over the next few months. The full range of CRAFTSMAN products will be available in-store and online in the spring. Once the roll-out is complete, consumers will have access to hundreds of CRAFTSMAN items.

Pivotal Payments Rebrands As Nuvei

Global payment process solution provider Pivotal Payments will now operate under the new brand name of Nuvei. The rebrand merges the company’s corporate arm with its GlobalOnePay division. The integration of both teams better meets the strategic needs of businesses, delivering greater value, cost synergies, and a combined technology stack. The business model is built on enhancing the company's ability to provide a payment technology network where each and every employee contributes to the growth of its partners.

U.S. Consumers Holiday Spend To Rise 4.1 Per Cent

U.S. consumers say they will spend an average of $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 per cent from the $967.13 they said they would spend last year, says a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Although tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods from China took effect last month, NRF says that retailers imported record volumes of merchandise ahead of the tariffs and any effect on pricing during the holiday season is expected to be minimal. NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast estimates that holiday retail sales in November and December will be up between 4.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent over 2017 for a total between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. This year, more consumers will utilize ‘buy online, pick-up in store’ (BOPIS), free shipping, expedited shipping, and same-day delivery. For the 12th year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 60 per cent of those surveyed.

Dugger Joins Coast Distributors

Will Dugger is part of the outside sales team at Coast Distributors (Kelowna) Ltd. He will be responsible for the central British Columbia region. He has many years of experience in sales and management positions, including 20 years with Sherwin-Williams.

Income Doubles For PFB

PFB Corporation had consolidated net income of $3.3 million for the third quarter of 2018, compared to consolidated net income of $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2017. Consolidated sales were $39.4 million in the quarter compared to sales of $28.6 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin for the period was 24.5 per cent compared to 23.2 per cent last year. EBITDA was $5.6 million compared to $3.2 million.

October 30, 2018

Orgill Makes Executive Changes

Ron Beal, president and chief executive officer of Orgill, Inc., will drop the president title but remain as CEO, effective January 2019. Boyden Moore will assume the position of president. He was general manager of retail and president of the company's subsidiary, Tyndale Advisors. Bret Hammers will become executive vice-president of worldwide sales and supply chain. He will be responsible for all sales and product sourcing in support of its U.S., Canadian, and international customer base. Eric Divelbiss will be executive vice-president of finance and administration in addition to his current role as chief financial officer.

U.S. Construction Starts To Hold Steady

Total U.S. construction starts for 2019 are forecast to be $808 billion, staying essentially even with the $807 billion estimated for 2018, says the ‘2019 Dodge Construction Outlook’ by Dodge Data & Analytics. “Over the past three years, the expansion for the U.S. construction industry has shown deceleration in its rate of growth, a pattern that typically takes place as an expansion matures,” says Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “After advancing 11 per cent to 14 per cent each year from 2012 through 2015, total construction starts climbed seven per cent in both 2016 and 2017 and a three per cent increase is estimated for 2018. There are, of course, mounting headwinds affecting construction, namely rising interest rates and higher material costs but, for now, these have been balanced by the stronger growth for the U.S. economy, some easing of bank lending standards, still healthy market fundamentals for commercial real estate, and greater state financing for school construction and enhanced federal funding for public works.” For 2019, it’s expected that growth for the U.S. economy won’t be quite as strong as what’s taking place in 2018, as the benefits of tax cuts begin to wane. Short-term interest rates will rise, as will long-term interest rates, reflecting higher inflationary expectations by the financial markets. At the same time, any erosion in market fundamentals for commercial real estate will stay modest.

Resolute Investing In Ontario Operations

Resolute Forest Products Inc. will invest $40 million into its northwestern Ontario operations, in addition to $13.5 million in major maintenance and the creation of 25 new jobs. The investment plan includes the Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill to improve energy efficiency and capacity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs, and maintain assets. The company will also modernize the planer line at the Thunder Bay sawmill and optimize the Atikokan and Ignace sawmills. These initiatives are expected to increase the annual production capacity of the facilities by a combined 50 million board feet of lumber. More than half of project expenditures are slated for the last quarter of 2018.

Leon’s Chooses Shopify

Leon's Furniture Limited has selected eCommerce company Shopify to power all of its online stores on the Shopify Plus platform. In addition, Leon’s is working on the development of dedicated apps that will significantly improve customers' online shopping experience. Some of these enhancements include intelligent room planners, virtual decorating, and augmented reality capabilities where shoppers can place items from the online store against a backdrop of their own rooms. Additional features that will be offered to online customers include instant deferred payment options and enhanced delivery features.

Beacon Roofing Expands Digital Capabilities

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. has introduced enhancements to its eCommerce platform, Beacon Pro+. Features include automated order workflows, delivery notifications, and a strategic integration with project management software JobNimbus. These enhancements give customers 24/7 access to the functionality and information that enables them to work smarter and faster in today’s competitive environment, says the company. The integration of JobNimbus software will provide customers access to live pricing and the ability to send material orders directly to their Beacon Roofing Supply location from the JobNimbus platform. Launching in the first quarter of the company's fiscal 2019 year, the partnership combines the project management capabilities of JobNimbus and Beacon’s set of digital tools.

Security Top Priority For SMBs

Nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadian online small- to medium-sized businesses worry that the move to frictionless payments, such as transactions that take place behind the scenes in apps, is leaving them more open to fraud and will negatively impact revenues, says a report from Paysafe. This concern is heightened by the fact that 73 per cent feel they are being more aggressively targeted by fraudsters now compared to a year ago and 42 per cent consider credit card fraud an increasing challenge. These concerns mean Canadian SMBs now view security as the most important factor when considering their eCommerce setup. Security (65 per cent) ranks above reliability (45 per cent), cost (49 per cent), and ease of transactions including refunds (45 per cent). SMBs are also wary that these concerns may hamper the buyer journey for consumers. Over half (67 per cent) believe that longer verification processes during the payment stage – which could potentially combat these issues – runs the risk of losing consumers and 62 per cent admit they don't know how to balance security with an acceptable customer experience, highlighting the trade-off faced by online merchants. Offline merchants are also pushing to accept contactless transactions and are further ahead in their adoption than their U.S. counterparts, says the report. Sixty-nine per cent expect to offer it over the next couple of years compared to 49 per cent at present. The U.S. should see usage increase to 62 per cent, Just 37 per cent offer it currently. These findings may be symptomatic of a fragmenting payments landscape, with 28 per cent of Canadian merchants reporting a decrease in cash payments in the past year.

Sherwin-Williams Posts Gains

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $4.73 billion for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of five per cent over consolidated net sales in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales in the Americas group increased five per cent to $2.67 billion year-over-year while net sales in the consumer brands group increased 6.5 per cent to $770.5 million. The performance coatings group's net sales increased 4.2 per cent to $1.29 billion in the quarter. Overall net income from the quarter was $354 million, up 11.8 per cent compared to $317 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $822 million versus $704 million.

October 29, 2018

New Home Market Sees Increases

Ontario's Greater Toronto Area (GTA) new home market saw increases in September over the previous month, both in terms of new project openings and in terms of new home sales, particularly sales of condominium apartments, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 1,747 new homes sold in September, a sizeable increase over August's 974 new home sales. Condominium apartments in low, medium, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 1,494 new home sales in September, down 20 per cent from September 2017 and down 20 per cent from the 10-year average. Single-family home sales, with 253 detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were down 28 per cent from last September and down 77 per cent from the 10-year average. With 10 condominium apartment projects and seven single-family home projects opening in September ‒ a significant increase from August's two project openings ‒ remaining inventory increased to 13,952 units, comprised of 8,820 condo apartment units and 5,132 single family units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.

Value Suppliers Like Partners

A strong supplier relationship can be one of the most significant competitive opportunities for growth, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, 'Insights,' he says, "As businesses, each of us is dependent on our suppliers. Developing strong supplier relationships can be as important as relationships with consumers or contractors." Retailers need the vendors as much as vendors need retailers. However, "good and reliable suppliers can be hard to find, especially in an economy like the one we are currently experiencing. Building a strong relationship can be a lynchpin to your future success." Suppliers can provide more than just goods and services; they are a rich source of information on the market and even on competitive products and services. Jenkins recommends building those relationships stronger and closer by "looking through the lens of your supplier from time to time and consider what mutually benefits both you and them." He also suggests getting personal, building two-way and timely communications, and being fair and respectful. "We have a habit of only acknowledging when things go wrong," he says. So, it's important to be grateful when things are going right.

Clover Launched In Canada

First Data, a provider of commerce-enabling technology, has launched Clover in Canada. This platform brings to business owners a modern approach to manage the demands of their enterprises including smart, flexible point-of-sale hardware, intuitive software, and a set of tools to run operations. It is a POS device which offers access to a third-party app market, connecting merchants with applications designed to simplify daily business tasks and support functions which are critical to business owners. The apps can sync with popular accounting programs offer multiple communication modalities (IP, Wi-Fi, LTE) all in one device, and give consumers the choice of receiving their receipts in paper, text, or eMail format.

AMG Global Changes Name

North American home hardware supplier and distributor AMG Global LLC has changed its name to AMG JV LLC. There has been no change to management and the company will continue to offer the same products and service. AMG, a subsidiary of Enchante Accessories, specializes in the kitchen and bath faucets, shower systems, bathroom vanities, lighting solutions, furniture, bath accessories, door locks, and storage solutions categories.

Lewis Named COO

Randal D. Lewis is senior vice-president and chief operating officer, a newly-created position at Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. He joined the company 13 years ago and served most recently as president, consumer products group.

Mohawk Earnings Rise

Mohawk Industries, Inc. had net earnings of $227 million for the third quarter of 2018, a decrease compared to $270 million in the third quarter of 2017. Adjusted net earnings were $246 million compared to $281 million last year. Net sales for the quarter were $2.5 billion, up four per cent from net sales of $2.4 billion in the year-ago period. The global ceramic segment sales decreased one per cent year-over-year, while the flooring North America segment sales increased two per cent. The flooring rest of the world segment sales increased 17 per cent year-over-year.

October 26, 2018

Canadian Tire, Home Hardware Rank In CR Top 10

Canadian Tire ranks second and Home Hardware 10th when it comes to corporate responsibility (CR), says a survey from the Reputation Institute, in partnership with Argyle Public Relationships. Canadian Tire was behind only MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op). "This year's results mark a shift, as Canadians expect companies to go beyond what we normally consider ‘social responsibility;’ they must be seen as responsible on multiple dimensions ‒ fiscal, social, environmental, and as employers," says Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer at Reputation Institute. The survey reflects public perceptions of corporate performance across three key dimensions of corporate reputation: citizenship, workplace, and governance. The results show which companies Canadians admire most for their positive societal influence, environmental friendliness, openness and transparency, ethical behaviour, and concern for their employees' well-being. "This study is a powerful reminder that reputation isn't just about communication: it's about the connection between what you say and what you do," says Daniel Tisch, CEO of Argyle Public Relationships. "That's how some companies build emotional bonds with their stakeholders, driving supportive behaviours such as intent to purchase, likelihood to recommend, willingness to invest, and giving the company the benefit of the doubt in a crisis."

Bank Of Canada Increases Rates

The Bank of Canada (BOC) has increased its target for the overnight rate to 1¾ per cent. It says the global economic outlook remains solid and the U.S. economy is especially robust, although it is expected to moderate over the projection horizon. As well, the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will reduce trade policy uncertainty in North America, which has been an important curb on business confidence and investment. BOC will continue to monitor the extent to which the USMCA leads to more confidence and business investment in Canada. It also says the Canadian economy continues to operate close to its potential and that the composition of growth is more balanced. Despite some quarterly fluctuations, growth is expected to average about two per cent over the second half of 2018. Real GDP is projected to grow by 2.1 per cent this year and next before slowing to 1.9 per cent in 2020. Household spending is expected to continue growing at a healthy pace, underpinned by solid employment income growth, even though they are adjusting their spending as expected in response to higher interest rates and housing market policies. In this context, household credit growth continues to moderate and housing activity across Canada is stabilizing. As a result, household vulnerabilities are edging lower in a number of respects, although they remain elevated.

Falls Hardware Joins Castle

Nestor Falls, ON-based Falls Hardware has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Falls Hardware was founded in 1955 by Alex Pope. His son Bill and daughter-in-law Nancy took over the store in 1978. The location supplies its community with building materials offering a full-service retail store and lumberyard. With the move to Castle, the store will add new products to its assortment of hardware, key building materials, and community-specific products.

Smart Reno Now In Lowe’s Stores

Smart Reno has signed a long-term agreement with Lowe’s Canada. Its software platform is now in all Lowe’s Canada corporate stores operating under the Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot banners, as well as in some RONA affiliated dealer stores. The software manages requests for installation services in a more seamless manner, both in-store and online.

Building Materials Could Soon Harvest Solar Energy

Researchers at Saudi Arabia-based KAUST Solar Center have developed a material that could soon deliver windows or roof tiles that harvest solar energy. They developed a photovoltaic organic material ‒ a non-fullerene acceptor, known as EHIDTBR ‒ that captures light efficiently and that potentially could be coated on building materials. “Traditional roof-mounted solar panels are made from slabs of silicon, but organic molecules can also capture energy from sunlight,” says researcher Derya Baran. “These molecules could be formulated as inexpensive printable inks that are applied to regular building components such as windows. Turning sunlight into electricity is a multistep process and the key to developing high-performance organic photovoltaic materials has been to find organic molecules that are good at every step.” Scaling up the technology is the team’s next step. “We have a spin-out company from KAUST Solar Center and through this company we want to make photovoltaic windows for electricity generation.”

Consumers Using Social Media For Holiday Shopping

Canadian consumers will turn to the convenience of digital shopping options for their gift purchases and opt to spend their money at Canadian retailers this holiday season, says the ‘2018 Holiday Shopping Survey’ from Accenture. Now in its seventh year, the survey shows a major increase in Canadian shoppers' use of Instagram and other social media when planning or making shopping decisions. The percentage of shoppers who say they plan to use Instagram alone for their online shopping almost doubled since last year, from 25 per cent to 46 per cent, with more than half of shoppers saying they would use YouTube to make shopping decisions or purchases. The use of social media in general is increasing, with 37 per cent of shoppers saying social media will make their shopping easier when buying for people not normally on their list, up from 30 per cent in 2017. The survey also finds that shoppers intend to make their gift purchases at Canadian retailers rather than travel to the U.S. or shop with U.S. online retailers, with 41 per cent opting to keep their dollars north of the border – up from 31 per cent from last year. This could change, however, with the recent U.S./Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the threshold for duty-free items raised to $150 from $20 for online shopping.

USG Sales Rise Seven Per Cent

USG Corporation had net sales of $851 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of seven per cent over net sales of $795 million in the third quarter of 2017. Operating profit for the quarter was $69 million down 24 per cent from operating profit of $91 million in the year-ago period. Net income was $59 million, down 11 per cent over net income of $66 million last year. Adjusted operating profit decreased 15 per cent to $90 million in the third quarter, while adjusted net income decreased four per cent to $65 million. Sales for the U.S. wallboard and surfaces segment increased five per cent year-over-year. Sales of the U.S. performance materials segment increased 10 per cent while sales for the U.S. ceilings segment increased 14 per cent year-over-year.

October 25, 2018

New Housing Construction Declines

Investment in new housing construction decreased 2.2 per cent from August 2017 to $5.1 billion in August, the first year-over-year decline since May 2014, says Statistics Canada. The decrease in August was attributable to lower spending on single homes, semi-detached homes, and row houses. Investment declined in five provinces, with Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan reporting the largest declines. In all three provinces, lower investment in single homes was the main contributor to the decrease. Conversely, British Columbia reported the strongest growth, a result of increased spending on apartment building construction. Investment in single home construction was down by 18.6 per cent compared with August 2017. Spending on single home construction declined in eight provinces, mainly in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. Spending on row unit construction declined by 10.1 per cent. Spending was down in six provinces, primarily reflecting a $44.4 million drop in Ontario compared with the same month last year. Apartment building construction was up 27.4 per cent compared with the last year. Construction in this component was up in every province, led by Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.

Workers Feeling Worn Out

Feeling worn out at work is a common occurrence among employees, says a research from staffing firm Accountemps. In fact, 76 per cent of workers say they operate while tired at least somewhat often, with only one per cent saying they never work tired. “A good night's rest has a tangible effect on quality of work,” says David King, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Exhaustion often limits professionals' ability to be focused, productive, and positive members of their team. Managers should be alert to signs of employee fatigue and work with staff to identify potential contributing factors in the workplace. By offering realistic support ‒ like temporary professionals to assist when workloads rise, guidance in prioritizing tight deadlines, and encouraging employees to unplug after-hours ‒ managers can help mitigate any work-related stressors keeping staff up at night.” The firm says employers should set a good example by working reasonable hours and coming to work with adequate sleep. Employees, in turn, should ask for help before they burn out.

Government Updates Asbestos Regulations

The government of Canada has added a final step to its asbestos regulations to prohibit asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Canada. The government-wide strategy, which was announced in 2016, reflects feedback from nation-wide consultations. The regulations prohibit the import, sale, and use of asbestos as well as the manufacture, import, sale, and use of asbestos-containing products, with a limited number of exclusions. In addition, exports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products are now prohibited, with a limited number of exceptions, and the existing Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations and schedule 3 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 are amended to reflect that. The latest regulations and related amendments will come into force on December 30.

PayBright Launches eCommerce Financing Solution

Canadian fintech lender PayBright has launched its eCommerce financing solution for merchants operating on SAP Customer Experience. The product integrates with merchants’ eCommerce platforms and provides customers with an additional payment option at checkout. Merchants receive their funds directly from PayBright the next business day with no credit risk. Customers can pay for their purchases in monthly installments over time. PayBright's integration with SAP Customer Experience adds to its selection of eCommerce platforms which include IBM Websphere Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, osCommerce, and Solidus.

Canfor Operating Income Drops

Canfor Corporation had operating income of $201.8 million for the third quarter of 2018, down $80.3 million from reported operating income of $282.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, with the decline reflecting lower operating earnings in both the lumber and pulp and paper segments. Adjusted lumber segment earnings primarily reflected steep declines in western spruce/pine/fir and southern yellow pine benchmark lumber prices and, to a lesser extent, the disruptive impacts of severe forest fires in Western Canada and Hurricane Florence in the U.S. south, which contributed to significant cost pressures and temporary operational downtime as a result of limited log deliveries and evacuation alerts. Notwithstanding the downward pressure on pricing through the third quarter of 2018, lumber demand in the North American market remained relatively stable, with U.S. housing starts averaging 1.218 million units on a seasonally adjusted basis, down three per cent from the previous quarter and up four per cent from the third quarter of 2017. Offshore lumber consumption remained solid through the third quarter, with demand particularly strong in Japan.

October 24, 2018

Building Materials Lead Decline

Wholesale sales edged down 0.1 per cent to $63.6 billion in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in four of seven subsectors, representing 65 per cent of total wholesale sales. The building material and supplies and the motor vehicle and parts subsectors led the declines in August, while the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector posted the largest gain. In volume terms, wholesale sales edged down 0.1 per cent. The building material and supplies subsector declined for the second time in three months, down 2.3 per cent to $9.5 billion in August. Sales were down in two of three industries, with the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (3.5 per cent) contributing the most to the decline. The decrease in August offset the gain in July for both the subsector (1.2 per cent) and the industry (0.3 per cent). Related indicators including housing starts (6.4 per cent) and exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (2.8 per cent) also declined in August. Wholesale sales were down in four provinces, accounting for 81 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, Ontario contributed the most to the decline. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.37 in July to 1.36 in August. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Home Hardware Ranks High On CX

Home Hardware Stores Limited, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and PetSmart are among the customer experience (CX) leaders for Canadian brands, says Forrester's 'Canada 2018 Customer Experience Index' (CX Index). Forrester surveyed more than 70,000 Canadian online consumers and ranked brands across 16 industries to identify how well their customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers. It says that brands with highly-rated CX improve revenue at twice the rate of brands with poor experiences. The index intends to give businesses a deep and actionable understanding of the quality of a brand's customer experiences and benchmarks the data so they can see how they stack up against their peers. It also shows how they can model improvements that will have the biggest impact on revenue.

U.S. Non-residential Building Continues To Recede

New construction starts in September fell five per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $709.6 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The September downturn followed nine per cent declines in both July and August, as the pace of construction starts has now pulled back for the third month in a row after reaching the current year’s high in June. By major sector, non-residential building weakened further in September, sliding six per cent. Non-building construction dropped 13 per cent in September. Residential building was the one major sector posting a gain in September, rising two per cent.

Small Merchants Getting Innovative With Payments

Smaller merchants are finding new, innovative ways to compete in the payment sphere with eCommerce and larger, more moneyed, and connected competitors, says a study from PYMNTS in collaboration with AEVI. Competition and increasing sales are driving payment innovation for merchants of all sizes, but smaller businesses cater to a smaller consumer base so they need to innovate to strengthen consumer loyalty. The survey finds that while retail merchants are mostly satisfied with their current payment service providers, more than half of all merchants would switch providers in order to get either a better deal, an all-in-one integrated solution, or an easy-to-use system. Like other industry segments, retail merchants are embracing digital transformation as they adapt to online competition, consumer use of smart devices, and the potential for cross-channel sales and marketing. The survey also finds that many are eager to embrace innovative business apps to improve back-office functions such as inventory management (49 per cent), payroll management (45 per cent), and staff management (35 per cent).

West Fraser Has Strong Sales

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1,646 million for the third quarter of 2018, a 29 per cent increase over sales of $1,247 million in the third quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was $446 million, up 73 per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $269 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were $238 million compared to $120 million. For the quarter, the lumber segment had operating earnings of $233 million and adjusted EBITDA of $339 million. The panels segment had operating earnings of $31 million and adjusted EBITDA of $34 million

October 23, 2018

Non-residential Building Construction Slows

Investment in non-residential building construction rose 0.9 per cent from the second quarter to $14.4 billion in the third quarter, says Statistics Canada. The commercial ($141.6 million) and industrial ($75.8 million) components increased, while the institutional component declined by $86.9 million. Quarterly investment was up in seven provinces, led by Quebec and British Columbia, and followed by Alberta. Non-residential building construction in Quebec was led by higher spending on industrial buildings, while in British Columbia, investment in commercial building construction was the primary contributor to the increase. Investment values in Alberta increased as a result of higher spending on industrial and commercial building construction. Ontario reported the largest quarterly decline, reflecting lower spending on institutional and industrial building construction. Spending in the institutional component declined in eight provinces from the second to the third quarter.

Lawson Opens Bolt Supply In BC

Lawson Products, Inc. has opened a Bolt Supply House branch in Surrey, BC, resulting in a presence in all four western Canada provinces. The 12,000-square-foot facility is stocked with key industrial MRO products including fasteners, power and hand tools, abrasives, and safety products for companies and individuals. A portion of the facility will also serve as warehouse space for Lawson Products.

U.S. Remodeling Activity To Soften

After several years of solid acceleration, annual growth in U.S. home improvement and repair spending is expected to soften in 2019, 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 year-over-year increases in residential remodeling expenditures will reach a decade high of 7.7 per cent this year and then start to drift downward to 6.6 per cent through the third quarter of 2019. “Rising mortgage interest rates and flat home sales activity around much of the country are expected to pinch otherwise very strong growth in homeowner remodeling spending moving forward,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the centre. “Low for-sale inventories are presenting a headwind because home sales tend to spur investments in remodeling and repair both before a sale and in the years following.” Despite this, many other remodeling market indicators including home prices, permit activity, and retail sales of building materials will continue to strengthen and will support above-average gains in spending next year. Through the third quarter of 2019, annual expenditures for residential improvements and repairs by homeowners is still expected to grow to over $350 billion nationally.

Simpson Strong-Tie Updates Canadian Web Page

Simpson Strong-Tie has updated the Canadian literature and links page on its website for a better Canadian customer experience. The redesigned page is a starting point for Simpson Strong-Tie products and services available in Canada. It includes search and filtering features to help visitors see relevant product information faster. This feature makes sure they only see the Canadian specific items for literature and software. And, if they need to see both Canada and U.S. items, they can use the links provided. The page has been streamlined for better organization which breaks things down into manageable pieces to find information faster. It is designed for use on computers and mobile or tablet devices.

AQMAT Works On ‘Buying Local’ Initiative

The Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) is developing a non-profit organization to increase awareness and encourage the purchase of hardware and building materials made in Quebec and other Canadian provinces and territories. The project, with support from major banners, manufacturers, and professional associations, is to reinforce the value chain between manufacturers, banners, and their networks of stores with consumers and contractors who want to know about local products. People will buy local to support their communities, says AQMAT. The organization says, often times, the cheapest product is what is sold. However, it believes that people must be informed about the benefits of a product, such as benefits of buying local, as they relate to the costs.

PPG Sales Increases

PPG had net sales of about $3.8 billion for the third quarter of 2018, up one per cent compared to net sales for the third quarter of 2017. Net income from continuing operations for the quarter was $368 million; adjusted net income from continuing operations was $353 million. Net sales for the performance coatings segment were approximately $2.3 billion, flat versus the prior year. In architectural coatings, the U.S. and Canada segment same-store sales in company-owned stores grew by a high-single-digit percentage. Aggregate volumes in the national do-it-yourself (DIY) retail accounts and independent dealer channels declined significantly versus the prior year, with income nine per cent lower year-over-year. Net sales in the industrial coating segment was up three per cent.

Housewares Show Adds Pre-show Events

Buyers, exhibitors, and other attendees will have several opportunities to network on and off the show floor during the ‘2019 International Home + Housewares Show.’ In addition to the more than 2,200 exhibitors and thousands of new products on display, the show will offer two pre-show events, several networking receptions for attendees, and a focus on building careers in the housewares industry. The event takes place March 2 to 5 at McCormick Place Complex in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit IHA Show

October 22, 2018

Retail Sales Remain Flat

Retail sales declined 0.1 per cent to $50.8 billion in August, following a 0.2 per cent increase in July, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in seven of 11 subsectors in August, representing 52 per cent of retail trade. Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales declined 0.4 per cent. In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.3 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers declined 1.1 per cent, the second consecutive monthly drop. Retail sales were down in four provinces in August. Quebec posted the largest decrease in dollar terms, followed by Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, retail sales continued their upward trend in Ontario, rising for the fourth consecutive month. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totalled $1.4 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 13.9 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 3.7 per cent.

Last Call For Tax Savings For Business Owners

Time is running out for Canadian business owners with over $50,000 of investment income in their corporations to avoid losing the small business deduction under new corporate tax rules taking effect in 2019, warns Jamie Golombek, managing director, tax and estate planning, CIBC Financial Planning and Advice. "If you're a business owner and haven't considered the tax implications of the new passive income rules, the time to act is now. Under the new tax rules, if your corporation has more than $50,000 of investment income in 2018, it may lose some, or all, of the small business deduction in 2019 – and the valuable, enhanced tax deferral that goes with it." The federal government introduced new tax rules that may reduce the amount of active business income that is taxed at the lower small business rate based on the amount of investment income earned in a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC). Starting in 2019, if a company has more than $50,000 of investment income in the previous year, a portion, or all, of the business income that would otherwise be taxed at the small business rate will be taxed at the higher, general corporate rate. The small business deduction limit will be reduced by $5 for every $1 of investment income above $50,000 and will reach zero once $150,000 of investment income is earned. CCPCs with more than $150,000 of investment income in 2018 may stand to lose the entire small business deduction in 2019, decreasing the amount of tax that may be deferred and funds that may be invested in the corporation by about $49,000 to $90,000 depending on the province. Over time, the reduced investment capital may result in significantly lower investment income in a corporation which could erode the business owner's personal wealth by thousands of dollars. For more information, visit 'CCPC tax planning for passive income'

IKEA Canada Launches Assembly Service

IKEA Canada has launched its TaskRabbit in-home assembly and mounting service in select markets. The on-demand service is now available in-store and online in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area, with plans to roll-out to the Vancouver, BC, market in mid-November and the Montreal, QC, area in spring of 2019. The service allows customers to have products assembled in-home and at their convenience ‒ as early as the next day after purchase. Assembly services are affordable and priced by flat rate per type of furniture, starting at $32. IKEA acquired TaskRabbit in September 2017 as part of its commitment to offer more accessible services to customers. The network connects people who need tasks done around the home ‒ such as furniture assembly, handyman work, moving help, snow removal, and much more ‒ with Taskers, independent service providers, who have listed their services on the network. Taskers are background checked, vetted, and receive ratings/reviews for tasks completed.

Funding Supports Professional Sales Designations

The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) have partnered to provide Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP) funding to address the sales talent shortage in Canada. Over the next three years, this investment will work towards improving the skill level of the Canadian sales force and attracting new people to the profession. The SIP will support the development and distribution of sector-specific labour market intelligence, national occupational standards, and skills certification and accreditation systems. The program's mandate is to help industries identify, forecast, and address their human resources and skills issues. The SIP contribution will enable CPSA, and its industry partners, to accelerate the mission to raise the profile of sales as a professional career and the adoption of professional designations for sales. CPSA's graduated designation framework includes three designations: Certified Sales Associate (CSA), Certified Sales Professional (CSP), and Certified Sales Leader (CSL). Training modules will soon be developed to help publicly-funded education programs fill strategic sales training gaps, all in both official languages.

Quebec Home Sales Rise Five Per Cent

A total of 8,798 residential sales were concluded in Quebec in the third quarter of 2018, a five per cent increase compared to the third quarter of last year, says the Québec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). All three property categories registered an increase in sales in the third quarter of 2018. Single-family homes and plexes both registered a three per cent increase in sales, while condominiums stole the spotlight once again with a 12 per cent jump in sales. Geographically, sales increased in four of the province's six census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The Saguenay CMA had an 11 per cent increase in sales. The Gatineau, Sherbrooke, and Montréal CMAs followed with respective increases of eight, six, and five per cent. However, two CMAs did not follow this upward trend, those being Québec City and Trois-Rivières, where sales fell slightly by one per cent and three per cent, respectively.

Johns Manville Launches Tile Backer Board

Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company, has launched JM GoBoard LT in Canada. The tile backer board is extremely durable and is up to 85 per cent lighter than traditional cement boards. It also offers built-in waterproofing, simplifying the installation process. It is currently available in two thicknesses to meet the needs of a variety of projects. The ¼-inch is ideal for floors and countertop applications, while the ½-inch board is best-suited for walls, showers, and ceilings.

Salamah Joins IHA

Leana Salamah is vice-president, marketing with the International Housewares Association (IHA). She has 20 years of experience in marketing, including trade show, association, and event marketing. She replaces Derek Miller who became IHA president on October 1.

WD-40 Sales Up Six Per Cent

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $102.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of six per cent over total net sales of $96.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Sales in North America were up two per cent year-over-year. Net income for the quarter was $21.6 million, an increase of 51 per cent compared to the prior-year fiscal quarter. Gross margin was 55.2 per cent in the quarter compared to 56 per cent in the year-ago period. Net sales of maintenance products, which are considered the primary growth focus for the company, increased eight per cent in the fourth quarter when compared to the prior fiscal year period. Net sales of homecare and cleaning products decreased seven per cent.

Trends Discussed At Retail West

Retailers and vendors will share perspectives and learnings on the latest trends and developments and discuss what it takes to create outstanding customer experiences in modern retail at Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘Retail West.’ Speakers for the event include Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of RCC; Brendan Seale, head of sustainability, IKEA Canada; and Jim Caldwell, president and CEO, OK Tire Canada. It takes place November 6 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, BC. For information, visit Retail West

October 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Remain Flat

Manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to $58.6 billion in August, following three consecutive monthly increases, says Statistics Canada. The decline was mainly due to lower motor vehicle sales. Excluding this industry, manufacturing sales rose 0.4 per cent in August. Sales were down in seven of 21 industries, representing 50.9 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. After taking price changes into account, the volume of sales in the manufacturing sector edged down 0.3 per cent in August. Primary metal industry sales fell 2.9 per cent to $4.4 billion in August, a third consecutive monthly decline. Sales in the wood product were down 3.4 per cent) and food dropped by 0.6 per cent. These decreases in current dollars were partially offset by increases in the aerospace product and parts which rose 13.5 per cent. Sales were down in three provinces in August, with Ontario posting the largest dollar decrease. The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.41 in July to 1.43 in August. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Montreal Home Sales Up Five Per Cent

A total of 9,613 residential sales were concluded in the third quarter of 2018 in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), a five per cent increase compared to the third quarter of last year, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the 17th consecutive quarterly increase in sales. Condominiums were once again the most dynamic property category with a 13 per cent jump in sales compared to the third quarter of last year. Sales of plexes and single-family homes posted respective increases of five per cent and one per cent. Sales increased in five of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA, but especially on the South Shore, where they rose by 16 per cent. In contrast, sales decreased in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu by nine per cent.

Lowe's Canada Opens Windsor Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its 68th store under the Lowe’s banner in Canada. Located in Windsor, ON, the store marks the second Lowe’s location in the greater Windsor area and the 41st in Ontario. The 117,600-square-foot store features 93,800 square feet of retail space and a 23,800-square-foot adjacent garden centre. It offers 40,000 products in-store as well as thousands more through special order via the Lowe's Canada website. Categories include appliances, seasonal, barbeques, snow blowers, fashion plumbing, building materials, and power and hand tools.

Lightspeed Unveils Retail Educational Tool

Point-of-sale system provider Lightspeed has launched its ‘Retail Success Index’ (RSI). The RSI is an industry-validated questionnaire for independent retailers to use to determine a score for their business that will reveal insights and windows for advancement. Lightspeed created the RSI to empower independents to delve deeper into the current state of their business through measuring their stance among competitors, identifying their strengths, and granting them knowledge on areas their company can improve. Whether a retailer has been in business for 10 years or is just opening shop, this five-minute questionnaire can provide invaluable information. It can also monitor growth ongoing for retailers who re-submit answers every few months. For more information, visit RSI

Bosses Have Impact On Employee Confidence

Most workers (79 per cent) are happy with their bosses, finds a survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam. As well, 42 per cent of workers feel their manager is a good leader, 27 per cent consider their boss a mentor, and 26 per cent consider their boss a friend. But not everyone shares these sentiments; 15 per cent of workers say their supervisor is a micromanager and 13 per cent say he or she is incompetent. “It's important that managers recognize the impact of their role as leaders in establishing positive work relationships, and supporting the satisfaction, performance, and engagement of their employees,” says Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Successful leaders are those who take an active interest in their staff's professional development and career growth, and encourage greater autonomy over projects, to inspire increased confidence, productivity, and overall commitment to the business.

Sellars Gets New Role

Cirissa Sellars is senior category strategy manager at Wolseley Canada Inc. Previously, she was sourcing manager.

Boise Cascade To Acquire Arling Lumber

Boise Cascade Company plans to acquire Arling Lumber, Inc., headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. Arling is a third generation, family-owned and operated wholesale distributor of lumber, plywood, OSB, and engineered wood products. Boise says the business will be a great addition to its nationwide distribution network and enhance its service capacity.

October 18, 2018

Retail Sales Increase

Retail sales reached $160.8 billion in the second quarter, up 3.5 per cent from the second quarter of 2017, says Statistics Canada inits 'Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey.' Sales were up in 12 of the 16 commodity groupings. Sales of automotive fuels and household fuels were up 12.7 per cent compared with the second quarter of 2017. Hardware, lawn, and garden product sales were up 5.3 per cent in the second quarter. The largest contributor to the increase was renovation materials and supplies at six per cent).

CFIB Offers HR Tools For Cannabis Compliance

With cannabis legalization in effect, small businesses are grappling with a new mess of inconsistent and uneven workplace regulations across the country. As a result, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has developed a series of educational and workplace tools to help employers manage the change. “Unfortunately, the process of legalization has created more questions than answers for small business owners, on top of everything else, like the federal tax changes and significant changes to labour laws in many provinces,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. “Small business owners don’t have lawyers or HR specialists on staff, so they need support to prepare for the new reality of legal cannabis.” To ensure small businesses are ready, CFIB has created a suite of tools, including a free webinar, a workplace drug and alcohol policy template, and an online course for employers and employees on workplace impairment. All of the resources, with the exclusion of the online course, are publicly available at cfib.ca/cannabis.

All Consumers Are Value-conscious

Almost all U.S. consumers are value-conscious shoppers who regularly visit discount retailers to find a bargain, says the latest ‘Consumer View’ report by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Eighty-nine per cent of consumers surveyed shop at various types of discount retailers. Of those, 58 per cent report shopping at dollar stores, 50 per cent at off-price stores and discount grocers, 44 per cent at outlet stores, and 36 percent at thrift stores. Those discount models appeal to consumers across age and income groups, with 89 per cent of those making under $50,000 a year saying they shop at various discount retailers along with 88 per cent of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 and 90 per cent of those making over $100,000. Bargain shoppers include 93 per cent of both Millennials (born from 1981 to 1994) and Generation Z (born in 1995 or later). Clothing is the product shoppers are most likely to purchase at bargain retailers, followed by groceries, home décor and furnishings, personal care and beauty products, and electronics.

CRAFTSMAN Partners With Sports Teams

CRAFTSMAN has partnered with several teams in the Canadian Hockey League for the 2018-2019 season. The brand has signed sponsorship deals with select Canadian Hockey League teams as well as with NHL teams – the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Under the terms of the agreements with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and the CRAFTSMAN will benefit from live game coverage on rinkboards, in arena ads, and social and digital programs, plus website and mobile banner ads. With the Toronto Maple Leafs, the brand will also have TV spots on Leafs Nation Network. CRAFTSMAN also has a national partnership that gives the brand visibility across 10 Canadian Hockey League markets during the regular season. The partnership allows CRAFTSMAN to connect with hockey fans across the country through visibility on the Canadian Hockey League broadcast on Sportsnet and on/off-ice experiences

Digital Main Street Launches Grant Program

Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) are working with Digital Main Street to launch its Grants Program across Ontario. Coinciding with Canada’s Small Business Month, the event kicks off the availability of the program, which provides funding to qualifying small 'main street' businesses and community business groups to enhance online promotion, selling, and operations. There are two types of grants that will be available. One is the Digital Transformation Grant which consists of 2,000 grants of $2,500 each available to qualifying small 'main street' businesses to help them adopt new digital technologies. The other is the Digital Service Squad Grant which offers 300 grants of $10,000 each available to qualifying municipal or business groups to develop and implement local squads of digital vendors and experts to directly help small businesses. Applicants can access the grant process through the Grant Program Portal

Polycor Acquires Indiana Limestone Company

Polycor Inc. has completed its merger with Indiana Limestone Company (ILCO), a dimensional limestone quarrier and building products producer headquartered in Bloomington, IN. The company also recently acquired four limestone quarries in France, including the well-known Massangis stone owned by Rocamat. Polycor says the companies are united by a common business culture and expects the merger will drive meaningful growth through cross-selling synergies, geographic expansion, and sharing of best practices. In addition, the merger will provide an expanded product offering for customers of both companies. Polycor says it intends to invest in updating the equipment and infrastructure of the different sites of all recent acquisitions.

Lico U.S. Brings Custom Flooring To North America

Lico U.S., LLC is bringing its Swiss-quality flooring to the North American market. The newly-formed C-Corporation between LI & CO (Switzerland) and ACP (Wisconsin) will offer made-to-order flooring for major customers in North America. Lico U.S. will invest $10 million to manufacture flooring at its Neenah, WI, headquarters, a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility that will include PVC flooring extrusion and milling lines. Beginning in fall 2019, the company will begin manufacturing Hydro Fix Flooring. Lico U.S. will also provide sales and service in North America for Lico's many other flooring technologies and brands manufactured at Lico's main production facility in Switzerland.

Lowe’s Canada's Heroes Campaign Raises $1.1 million

Lowe’s Canada's Heroes Campaign has raised $1.1 million to help local organizations across Canada. Throughout September, every Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate store in the country collected donations to help local organizations or public schools of their choosing fulfill their missions or carry out specific projects. Lowe’s Canada matched 50 per cent of all funds raised through the in-store campaign, up to a maximum of $2,000 per store. All funds raised in-store, along with matching corporate donations, are being donated to more than 260 community organizations. “With all our corporate stores participating for the first time, our Heroes Campaign extended its support to even more community organizations and projects that our employees feel strongly about,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs, and compliance at Lowe’s Canada.

Linker Named CFO

John Linker is executive vice-president and chief financial officer (CFO) at JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. effective November 8. He joined the company in 2012 and currently serves as senior vice-president, corporate development and investor relations.

October 17, 2018

Canadian Businesses Spend $14 Billion On Cyber Security

Canadian businesses spent $14 billion to prevent, detect, and recover from cyber security incidents in 2017, which represented less than one per cent of their total revenues, says a report from Statistics Canada. 'Canadian Survey of Cyber Security and Cybercrime' shows approximately $8 billion was spent on salaries for employees, consultants, and contractors who worked on cyber security, while $4 billion was invested in cyber security software and related hardware. Several other prevention and recovery measures accounted for the remaining $2 billion of the total expenditure. However, annual average expenditures on cyber security differed greatly based on size of business. Large businesses (250 employees or more) spent $948,000, medium-sized businesses (50 to 249 employees) spent $113,000, and small businesses (10 to 49 employees) spent $46,000. The report also shows that just over one-fifth of Canadian businesses are impacted by a cyber security incident that affected their operations. Large businesses are more than twice as likely as small businesses to have identified an impactful incident.

Montreal Home Sales Up Eight Per Cent

A total of 3,220 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CAM) in September, which represents an eight per cent increase compared to the same month last year and a nine-year high for a month of September, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). Geographically, four of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales – the South Shore (20 per cent), Laval (12 per cent), the Island of Montreal (eight per cent), and Vaudreuil-Soulanges (five per cent). Sales were unchanged on the North Shore, but fell by 14 per cent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The trend continued for condominiums as this property category once again registered the largest increase in sales (1,206 transactions) in September, jumping by 23 per cent. Sales of plexes registered a slight increase of one per cent, while sales of single-family homes were unchanged. The median prices for all three property categories increased steadily with the price of single-family homes up by seven per cent year-over-year and that of plexes up by six per cent to reach. The increase for condominiums was a little weaker at four per cent. The number of active residential listings increased by 17 per cent over last year.

Gillfor Acquiring Brunswick Valley Distribution

Gillfor Distribution Inc., parent company of OWL Distribution Inc., McIlveen Lumber Industries Ltd., and Brown & Rutherford Co., will acquire Brunswick Valley Distribution Inc. (BVD), the Atlantic Canadian distribution arm of parent company Brunswick Valley Lumber Inc. Based in Federicton, NB, BVD operates a distribution facility in Moncton, NB. When the transaction completes in January, BVD will add products found in other Gillfor divisions, including composite decking, aluminum railing, and a variety of specialty softwoods. The acquisition gives Gillfor a strategic distribution location in Atlantic Canada to add to its six existing distribution centres and one reload facility.

Grey Colour Of The Year For 2019

Benjamin Moore says its ‘Colour of the Year 2019’ is Metropolitan AF-690, a stylish grey with cool undertones. “Comforting, composed, and effortlessly sophisticated, Metropolitan AF-690 exudes beauty and balance,” says Ellen O'Neill, director of strategic design intelligence at Benjamin Moore. “It's a colour in the neutral spectrum that references a contemplative state of mind and design. Not arresting nor aggressive, this understated yet glamorous grey creates a soothing, impactful common ground.” The company also unveiled its ‘Colour Trends 2019,’ a corresponding palette of 15 harmonious hues that further amplify the cultured grace of Metropolitan AF-690. The palette contains colours which range from ethereal neutrals to frothy pinks to rich blues.

Nova Scotia Implements Energy Rebates Program

The governments of Canada and Nova Scotia will launch the '2018 Instant Rebate' program, which will enable residents across the province to purchase products that improve the energy efficiency of their homes at a lower cost. The funding comes from the federal government's Low Carbon Economy Fund, which has allocated up to $56 million to Nova Scotia for programs that fight climate change and drive clean growth. The program will provide rebates on the purchase of products such as LED lights, motion sensors, and electrical power bars, as well as energy efficient appliances such as washers and refrigerators. It will also provide rebates for smart thermostats to help homeowners who heat their homes with oil cut their energy bills. Under the program, Nova Scotians will be able to save money on the purchase price of these products and lower their energy costs. For example, the instant rebate on the purchase of a smart thermostat is $75. The average energy savings per year for an oil-heated household that adds a smart thermostat is up to $150.

Vukanovich Has New Role

John Vukanovich is vice-president of marketing at Derby Building Products, parent company of Tando and Novik brands. In this role, he will oversee and implement marketing programs to support the rapid growth and expansion of the Tando and Novik brands of stone and shake. He has over 20 years in the building industry with leading brands including Ply Gem/Mitten, Royal Window and Door, Selkirk, and Canadian Fireplace Manufacturing.

Grainger Sales Up 7.4 Per Cent

Grainger had sales of $2.8 billion for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 7.4 per cent versus sales of $2.6 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Operating earnings for the quarter were $189 million, down 32 per cent versus $278 million in the year-ago quarter. Gross profit margin was 38.1 per cent versus 38.6 per cent in the 2017 third quarter. Net earnings were $104 million for the third quarter, a decrease of 36 per cent compared to net earnings of $162 million in the same period a year ago. Adjusted net earnings increased 43 per cent year-over-year. Daily sales volume in the U.S. was up eight per cent, but down 27 per cent in Canada (Acklands-Grainger). The Canada segment sales for the second quarter were $150 million compared to $188 million in the year-ago period, down 20 per cent versus the prior year, and down 17 per cent in local currency. The company says the turnaround for the Canada segment is progressing on schedule.

October 16, 2018

National Home Sales Weaken

National home sales eased by 0.4 per cent in September, marking the first decline since April, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). While sales activity is still somewhat stronger compared to the first half of this year, it remains well below most other months since 2014. Sales declined from August to September in slightly more than half of all local markets, led by Vancouver Island, BC, and Edmonton, AB, along with several markets in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region. Activity declines in these markets were offset by monthly gains in the Fraser Valley, BC, and Montreal, QC. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 8.9 per cent compared to September 2017. About 70 per cent of local markets were down on a year-over-year basis, led primarily by declines in major urban centres in British Columbia, along with Calgary and Edmonton, AB, and Winnipeg, MB. The number of newly-listed homes rose three per cent between August and September, led by the lower mainland and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario. More than half of all local markets posted a monthly increase in new listings, which was offset by declines in excess of three per cent in more than half of the remaining local markets. There were 5.3 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of August. While this is in line with the measure's long-term average nationally, the number of months of inventory is well above its long-term average in all prairie provinces and in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canadian Small Retail Businesses Optimistic

Despite 2018 bringing new challenges and uncertainties to the Canadian small- and medium-sized business (SMB) community, eBay Canada's annual ‘SMB Optimism Index’ report reveals that optimism among small retailers is on an upward climb, hitting 76 points – a consistent one-point-per-year increase since the index launched two years ago. Businesses that export are among the most optimistic and more likely to believe that there are new market opportunities. To read more about growth opportunities, trends, and challenges, visit 'Canadian Small Retail Businesses Optimistic About Growth' on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

FCL Celebrates 90 Years Of Business

From its start sourcing apples, twine, and coal 90 years ago, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) has grown into a multi-billion-dollar co-operative partnering with local co-ops in Saskatchewan to provide products and services to consumers. In 90 years, the company's sales have grown from $913,000 (in 1929) to $9.8 billion (in 2017). In the last five years, FCL has returned $2.2 billion to its local co-operative member-owners across western Canada. FCL serves 96 local co-ops in Saskatchewan, which in turn serve 438,000 individual co-op members in more than 250 communities in the province. Provincial co-operative wholesale societies were formed to supply and support fledgling local co-ops in the 1920s. Established on July 30, 1928, the Saskatchewan Co-operative Wholesale Society would grow and amalgamate with Consumers Co-operative Refinery Limited and three other provincial wholesales to form FCL. Today, FCL’s business is centred primarily on four areas: agriculture, energy, food, and home and building supplies.

Employers Must Update Employee Handbooks For Cannabis

Employers must update their employee handbooks to reflect the new cannabis act that legalizes marijuana and comes into effect October 17, says HR advisory firm Career Compass Canada. "Employers need to take action now, if they have not yet done so, to update their policies related to this new legislation. Basically, the cannabis policy should mirror a company's policy on the use of alcohol at a minimum," says Alexander Lutchin, president of Career Compass. "Some organizations may go further in demanding additional time between the use of cannabis and reporting for work. Both employers and employees need to use common sense and act responsibly." Communication and training is also vital in rolling out the policy. Employees need to know what the policy is and what the company expectations are. Companies who fail to develop a written policy are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk that needs to be mitigated to ensure a safe and respectful workplace.

Consumer Trust About Shopping Experience

Most consumers (88 per cent) say that trust is extremely important when deciding where to shop, but a report by InMoment reveals that trust is about more than data and security. Fifty-five per cent of consumers say brands can earn their trust by delivering what they promised and another 19 per cent say brands must deliver consistent experiences to earn trust. Keeping data came in at just 13 per cent and other factors like personalization and supporting shared values registered only in the single digits. InMoment says that although loyalty is alive and well, it’s complicated. Brand loyalty varies among demographics with Millennials seeing themselves as most loyal. Importantly, customers who feel high levels of trust and loyalty say they are significantly more likely to share ratings (in the 90 per cent range for both) and detailed commentary (both exceeded 70 per cent) about their experiences. Ultimately, consumers crave experiences and not just purchases. More than half of consumers (53 per cent) say that their most recent enjoyable shopping experience was in a store. Product quality was ranked the top retail interaction that elevates a mere purchase to an ‘experience,’ with personalized treatment in store following at 30 per cent.

Giant Tiger Opens Three Stores

Giant Tiger has opened stores in Windsor and Hamilton, ON, and Saskatoon, SK. The Windsor store is 25,000 square feet, the Hamilton store is 24,750 square feet, and the Saskatoon store is 24,000 square feet. The discount stores will be stocked with on-trend home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities. Giant Tiger also offers a flyer program and ad-match guarantees.

Samsung Launches Smart Home App

Samsung Electronics Canada Inc., has launched SmartThings, an app that pairs with compatible devices and connects wirelessly with a wide range of smart devices enabling them to work together for a smarter home. The app works with a variety of Samsung products including the Galaxy Note9, Galaxy Tab S4; and Galaxy Watch, along with the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator and FlexSystem laundry collection and compatible third-party products from the Ring Video Doorbell to the ecobee4 thermostat. Based on individual and family needs, ‘automations’ in the app can be customized to match a consumer's routines. For instance, running the 'good morning' scene turns on lights, turns off the air conditioner, and starts the coffee maker at the desired time.

Expo Covers Full Product Pathway

The Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Expo offers everything from design to manufacturing and concept to market with educational presentation throughout the event. Visitors can network with suppliers and learn about products. It takes place November 14 to 15 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montreal, QC. For more information, visit ADM Montreal.

October 15, 2018

Construction, Retail Largest Underground Sectors

In 2016, three industries accounted for more than half of underground economic activity ‒ residential construction (26.6 per cent), retail trade (13.5 per cent), and accommodation and food services (12.1 per cent), says Statistics Canada. These industries have continued to be the main contributors to underground economic activity in Canada since 1992, the first reference year of this study. Underground economic activity in Canada totaled $51.6 billion in 2016, or 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Since 1992 ‒ the starting point for this study ‒ the underground economy as a proportion of GDP has been relatively stable, reaching a high of 2.7 per cent in 1994 and a low of 2.2 per cent in 2000. The underground economy in Canada increase 3.5 per cent from 2015 to 2016 — higher than the two per cent growth in total economy GDP. In real terms (that is, with price changes removed), the underground economy increased 1.8 per cent, while the total economy was up 1.4 per cent. Of the $51.3 billion in unreported income in 2016, the largest share went to employees (46.8 per cent) in the form of labour compensation. Wages not accounted for in payroll records and tips on undeclared transactions totaled $24.2 billion in 2016, equivalent to 2.3 per cent of official compensation of employees. This amount represented $1,669 for every job in the business sector in 2016. The remaining portion of underground income went to incorporated business owners (28.3 per cent) and unincorporated business owners (25 per cent).

Co-op Country Stores Joins BMR Group

Co-op Country Stores, a banner of 17 stores that specializes in the sale of agricultural products and hardware products, has joined BMR Group. The network of stores includes nine in Nova Scotia, four in New Brunswick, three in Prince Edward Island, and one in Newfoundland and Labrador. The addition of the Co-op Country stores brings the total number of new BMR Group locations in the Maritimes to 22 for the year 2018.

Young Workers Could Alleviate Canada's Labour Shortage

While small businesses are facing record-high job vacancy rates and ongoing labour shortages in certain sectors, youth unemployment remains almost twice as high as the Canadian average, says a report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Many young people start their careers in small businesses, but more than half of employers say that high schools do not adequately prepare them for the jobs of today. The report recommends that high schools and post-secondary institutions collaborate with the business community to help close the gap by revamping their curriculums to emphasize soft skills like workplace communication, problem solving, and networking and promoting careers in the trades. Governments and schools must create more work-integrated learning opportunities, such as co-ops and internships, especially in sectors experiencing labour shortages. Governments can further improve the accessibility of work-integrated learning opportunities and encourage more small businesses to take on inexperienced workers by offsetting the cost of hiring through measures like co-op tax credits or a holiday on employment insurance premiums for young employees.

Hitachi Koki Changes Name

Georgia-based Hitachi Koki U.S.A., Ltd. has changed its corporate name to Koki Holdings America Ltd., for the U.S. and Canada. The company is the North American division of Koki Holdings Co., Ltd. headquartered in Japan. Koki owns several brands including HiKOKI, Metabo, Metabo HPT, Tanaka, and Sankyo. In North America, Koki is overseeing the name change from Hitachi Power Tools to Metabo HPT in mid-October.

Milwaukee Acquires Imperial Blades

Wisconsin-based Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd., has acquired Imperial Blades, also based in Wisconsin. Imperial Blades is the original inventor of the universal shank for use on oscillating multi-tools and also manufactures oscillating blades and a broad range of accessory solutions. Founded in 2008, the company has grown at an impressive rate with new product technology such as Storm Titanium coating and the Carbide Extreme Blade.

Northwest Territories Implements Energy Rebates Programs

The governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories are working together to support residents and businesses in the Northwest Territories to implement energy efficient programs. A federal investment of $23 million and territorial investment of $7.4 million will go towards climate action programs including energy rebates and incentives, winterization upgrades for low-income owner-occupied homes, and new electric heat incentives for commercial buildings. The investment is part of the government of Canada's Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund which provides $1.4 billion to provinces and territories that have adopted Canada's clean-growth and climate action plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework, to deliver on commitments that tackle climate change, increase economic growth, and create good middle-class jobs.

Martin To Succeed Binkley

Carey Martin will be chief human resources officer at Whirlpool Corporation, effective March 1. Currently, she is vice-president of global human resources. She will succeed David Binkley, who plans to retire. Binkley has held the position since 2004.

October 12, 2018

Economic Growth Anticipated To Gear Down

The Canadian economy is at a crossroads in the business cycle; either strong economic growth will lead to inflationary pressures or growth will slow to a more moderate and sustainable rate of expansion, says the ‘Deloitte Economic Advisory.’ In its first outlook, Deloitte anticipates the latter — that the Canadian economy will gear down. Real GDP growth in Canada is expected to slow to two per cent this year, edge slightly lower in 2019 and fall to 1.4 per cent by 2020. This will reflect weaker consumer spending and the impact of a slowing global economy, with U.S. protectionism still posing a key international risk. Tighter monetary policy in North America and Europe will also play a role in tempering growth, but such policy also presents risks. “The signs that the North American economy is in the late stages of a business cycle are all around us, from a record long bull market in U.S. equities to low unemployment rates and rising central bank rates,” says Craig Alexander chief economist at Deloitte Canada. “The negotiation of USMCA reduces the downside risks to the Canadian economy and economic growth should persist. However, businesses should still prepare for more moderate domestic demand growth and a weaker U.S. economy over the medium term.”

September Housing Start Trends Lower

The trend in housing starts was 207,768 units in September 2018, compared to 213,966 units in August 2018, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This was a 19-month low, following declines in four of the last five months. CMHC says the slowdown in the pace of new residential construction activity in recent months is a result of both lower single-detached and multi-starts activity and brings new residential construction closer to its long-run average from the elevated levels registered in 2017. Housing starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) trended lower in September as fewer projects in both the single-detached and multi-family sectors got underway. Starts in Winnipeg, MB, continued higher with a number of new condominium projects started. Toronto, ON, total housing starts trended higher in September, as the decline in the single-detached starts trend was more than offset by rising multi-unit starts. In Quebec, the trend of housing starts decreased in the third quarter. However, the year-to-date total is slightly higher than that of the first nine months of 2017, due to the strength of Montreal CMA rental apartment starts. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 188,683 units in September, down from 198,843 units in August. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 5.9 per cent in September to 175,653 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 8.9 per cent to 122,656 units while single-detached urban starts increased by two per cent to 52,997 units.

Walmart To Refurbish Stores

Walmart Canada will invest $175 million into its network of stores. Several stores across the country will be refurbished or updated to provide a comprehensive omni-channel experience featuring a seamless intersection of the in-store and online shopping experience. Twenty-three stores across the country are set for renovation before February 2019. The enhancements will include physical updates to provide a refreshed look and feel including wider aisles, updated colour palette, new signage, and, in some stores, an updated exterior store front design to provide clearer access. This initiative builds upon other recent investments including upgrades and new features for grocery delivery and pickup, the building of a fulfillment centre in Surrey, BC, and an intention to convert 100 per cent of its fleet to alternative power by 2028.

Shopify Opens LA Physical Store

Shopify, a provider of retail payment and logistics management software, has opened its first physical storefront in Los Angeles, CA. The first bricks-and-mortar location for the Toronto, ON-based company will display the company’s new line of hardware products and array of services it provides to businesses. The city is one of the most dense conglomerations of Shopify customers with over 10,000 merchants using the company’s technologies in the greater Los Angeles area. Customers can expect to see demonstrations and tutorials of how Shopify’s tools and features work. Showrooms displaying the work that Shopify does with some of its close partners will also show how business owners can turn their product visions into actual businesses. Like Apple, Shopify is staffing its store with experts on the platform who can walk new customers or would-be customers through whatever troubleshooting they may need.

Lowe’s Canada Partners With Club De Soccer Longueuil

Club de soccer Longueuil and Lowe’s Canada have signed a major partnership for the 2018/2019 to 2020/2021 soccer seasons. “By becoming a major partner of Club de soccer Longueuil, we are encouraging healthy lifestyles and offering young people on Montreal's South Shore ‒ where our head office is and where most of our employees and their families live ‒ an opportunity to reach their full potential through this sport,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs, and compliance at Lowe's Canada. Lowe's Canada jerseys for recreational and semi-professional athletes were officially unveiled last week at the ‘Amicale haut niveau’ tournament which took place in Longueuil, QC.

Canadian Tire, Kidde Canada Launch CO Awareness Campaign

Canadian Tire, Kidde Canada, and Scout Environmental (with support from Health Canada) have partnered together to launch the ‘Detect to Protect’ campaign. The campaign helps Canadians stay informed about carbon monoxide (CO), a dangerous pollutant. It includes giveaways, in-store events, and discounts on CO alarms. CO is an odourless, colourless, tasteless gas that leads to more than 300 deaths each year in Canada, all of which are preventable. Throughout November, all Canadian Tire stores across the country will be offering discounts on CO alarms. Additionally, Detect to Protect event ambassadors will be providing tips on CO prevention in select Canadian Tire locations ‒ as well as offering customers a chance to win prizes.

Dupuis Has New Role

Ray Dupuis is senior business development manager for the wholesale plumbing channel at Spectrum Brands Inc. He will be responsible for driving specification wins in the new construction space for Spectrum’s Pfister and Fortis brands. He has 20 years of experience in sales and leadership in the wholesale plumbing industry and joins Spectrum from Zurn Canada, where he was the national sales manager.

Show Focuses On Window, Door Industry

Members of the window and door industry will have the opportunity to visit 150 exhibits; source new ideas, products, and services; learn about industry-related issues and upcoming trends; and network with industry colleagues from across Canada and the U.S. at the 2018 WinDoor Show. It takes place December 3 to 5 at the Quebec City Convention Centre in Quebec City, QC. For more information, visit WinDoor

October 11, 2018

Non-residential Drives Increase

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits in August, up 0.4 per cent from July, says Statistics Canada. Strength in the non-residential sector drove the increase, while the residential sector declined for the third consecutive month. In the non-residential sector, $3.2 billion worth of permits were issued in August, up 8.8 per cent from the previous month. Both the institutional (25.8 per cent) and commercial (8.9 per cent) components contributed to the gain, which was largely the result of the issuance of permits for a new hospital in Ontario and new office buildings in British Columbia. Meanwhile, the value of industrial permits fell 5.9 per cent in August to $677 million. This followed a 13.4 per cent gain in July as multiple permits were issued that month for transportation terminals and manufacturing structures in Ontario and Alberta. Municipalities issued $5 billion worth of residential permits in August, down 4.4 per cent from July and marking the third consecutive monthly decline for the sector. Five of the six provinces that posted decreases had lower intentions for both single and multi-family construction. The value of permits for single-family dwellings was down 5.2 per cent to $2.2 billion, maintaining the general downward trend that began in January 2018. While eight provinces posted decreases in the month, Ontario and British Columbia contributed the most to the decline.

September Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower

The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 2.6 per cent in September to 159.5 from the revised August reading of 163.7. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. Both components of the index were lower with the commercial component down 4.3 per cent and the institutional component down 0.1 per cent. The index has now fallen for two consecutive months; however, due to a very strong reading in July it increased 0.8 per cent from the second quarter to the third quarter. The index may seem to have lost some impetus, but this can be attributed to outsized gains in the late spring and summer, says Dodge Data & Analytics. In fact, the index is now returning to a more sustainable level of activity given the overall age of the current construction cycle.

BMR Group Recognized For Digital Transformation

BMR Group was awarded the ‘Digital Shift’ prize at the annual eCommerce event held by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD). The jury selected BMR Group for its digital shift that eloquently reflects digital success and quality at every level, combined with an excellent use of technological tools, says the group. The new BMR website was launched this year, following a major visual and technological transformation. The shift will expand to all of BMR Group’s banners, with an emphasis on an omni-channel approach.

Lowe’s Canada Completes Tree Planting Initiative

Lowe’s Canada has planted 48,658 trees in Canada in partnership with Jour de la Terre Québec and Earth Day Canada. The initiative was a result of the commitment Lowe’s Canada’s made last April to plant a tree for every ECO product (excluding forest products) sold on April 22 as part of its ECO program launch in all corporate and participating affiliated RONA, Reno-Depot, and Lowe’s stores across the country. From mid-May to late June, Jour de la Terre Québec and Earth Day Canada planted over 48,000 trees at various sites in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec with funding from Lowe’s Canada. “By both encouraging customers to purchase ECO products and greening up public spaces, we’re helping create healthy and sustainable environments in the communities where we operate today and for generations to come," says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, vice-president, communications, public affairs, and compliance at Lowe’s Canada.

eCommerce Driving SMB Growth

Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) leveraging eCommerce are growing significantly faster than their offline counterparts, says research from digital payments provider PayPal. SMBs that sell online through PayPal grew 22 per cent year-over-year in 2017, in sharp contrast to offline SMBs, which saw less than one per cent growth year-over-year in 2016. The research shows that international trade opportunities previously pursued mainly by bigger retailers are now much more accessible to small businesses through eCommerce. Encouragingly, the data shows that SMBs in the country are now targeting foreign markets with nearly 30 per cent exporting goods and services to three countries or more. More than 63 per cent of digital SMBs export their goods and services compared to 2014, when only 12 per cent of Canadian SMBs engaged in international trade. Digital SMBs that exported their goods and services experienced three per cent more growth between 2016 and 2017 than non-exporting digital small businesses.

Vibrant Orange Top Colour For 2019-2020 

‘Tropic of conversation,’ a vibrant orange hue full of warmth, joy, and positive energy, has been named the ‘2019 Colour of the Year’ by Beauti-Tone, a division of Home Hardware Stores Limited. The colour is part of the ‘Simon Chang 2019/20 Trend Colour Collection,’ which is made up of 24 hues – some traditional, some contemporary, and some that are downright edgy, says Home. The colours in this collection feature many shades that are deeper, richer, and more intense than on previous Beauti-Tone trend colour cards. The colour collection colours can be used to paint an entire room, but colours like Tropic of Conversation are fun to play with, either as an accent wall, on furniture pieces and interior doors, or hidden spots like inside closets or drawers, says Bev Bell, creative director, Beauti-Tone Paint and Home Products Division, Home Hardware. Beauti-Tone’s ‘Simon Chang 2019/20 Trend Colour Collection’ colours and colour cards are available exclusively at Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, and Home Hardware Building Centre locations across Canada.

Safis To Lead Builder Sales

Kelly Safis has been appointed as general manager of builder sales with Whirlpool Corporation. She has been with the company for 30 years, most recently as director, sales training.

October 10, 2018

USMCA Gets Mixed Reactions

The National Retail Federation (NRF) says retailers are supportive of the USMCA agreement reached by officials in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. NRF CEO and president, Matthew Shay, says the organization is pleased that a deal has been reached that preserves NAFTA’s trilateral framework, which is critical to protecting North American supply chains. As part of the deal, the Canadian government will reduce import and sales taxes for foreign retailers by de minimus threshold, benefiting Canadian consumers. Canadian Tire Corporation said in a statement that it hopes the government will extend the same treatment to Canadian retailers. “Doing so will support Canadian retail workers while further reducing prices for Canadian consumers, a win-win solution that Canadian Tire fully supports.” The BC Lumber Trade Council says it applauds officials for reaching a renewed agreement that “preserves the dispute resolution mechanism previously contained in Chapter 19 of NAFTA.” It says Chapter 10 of the new agreement maintains, for Canada and the U.S only, a binational panel review mechanism for reviewing anti-dumping and countervailing duty determinations by either country. Having a robust and fair dispute resolution mechanism is absolutely critical to maintaining a rules-based trading system and providing an avenue for Canada and Canadian companies to appeal unwarranted duties. Conversely, La Coop fédérée says it is disappointed in the concessions in the USMCA for the agricultural sector. It says it would have been desirable for the USMCA to be concluded with “full protection for supply management, a system that continues to demonstrate its effectiveness and relevance.” The union representing Canada Post says the agreement is an attack on the public postal service and it will be unfair to rural Canadians. Under the USMCA, the duty-free bar gets raised to $40 from $20 on online shopping from the U.S., but items shipped by Canada Post won't qualify for the exemption.

BMR Invests In Travaux Solutions

BMR Group has entered into a commercial agreement with Travaux Solutions whereby BMR Group shall become a shareholder of Travaux Solutions, a family-owned Québec company that specializes in referring construction and renovation contractors. Due to a partnership since 2015, BMR Group has Travaux Solutions in about 30 BMR renovation centres. “This strategic alliance looks very promising for the future. From the very beginning, Travaux Solutions has shown sustained growth and will now allow us to extend our value chain with turnkey services that will drive renovation projects,” says Pascal Houle, CEO of BMR Group. He says incorporating the solutions into BMR stores will turn them into one-stop shops where customers can find their materials, receive expert advice from an expert team, and find a certified contractor to carry out their project.

Epidemic Low Engagement Among U.S. Retail Workers

Nearly 35 per cent of U.S. retail employees feel disengaged at work – and that number is as high as 77 per cent in the UK – likely due to seismic socio-economic changes exacerbated by shifts in technology that have completely transformed the retail business, says ‘The Retail Industry’s Employee Engagement Crisis – And How to Solve It,’ an eBook by StaffConnect, a provider of mobile employee engagement solutions. The eBook reviews the current state of employee engagement in the retail industry and looks at why the sector is experiencing such low levels of disengagement. It discusses the negative consequences of disengagement and shares actionable solutions to help retailers turn the situation around. With today’s mobile technologies, there’s no reason for remote retail workers to lack easy access to the information, communication, and resources they need to more effectively do their jobs, says the eBook. Mobile applications have the ability to reach the entire retail workforce (desk and non-desk employees), facilitate feedback, and generate engagement-related insights and reports. For more information, visit the StaffConnect infographic on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Lowe’s Appoints Interim CFO

Tiffany L. Mason has been appointed interim chief financial officer for Lowe’s Companies, Inc. She will continue to serve in her current position as senior vice-president, corporate finance and treasurer. She is serving as CFO until David Denton joins the company. Denton was appointed CFO in August, but will join Lowe’s when he finishes his role at CVS Health Corporation.

Costco Sales Increase

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $43.4 billion for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of five per cent over net sales of $41.4 billion. Comparable sales in Canada increased 5.7 per cent for the quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago and comparable sales for the eCommerce segment increased 26.2 year-over-year. Net income was $1,043 million compared to $919 million.

October 9, 2018

Edmonton Gets New Model Lowe’s

Lowe’s Canada has opened its second store in the greater Edmonton, AB, area featuring the new model store which offers an enhanced shopping experience. The store was designed by taking the best of Lowe’s and RONA’s offerings. Guy Beaumier, executive vice-president, big box, for Lowe’s Canada, says the new model “provides a unique combination of products, services, and financing options to meet the needs of retail consumers and contractors alike.” The store underwent a 16-week physical transformation from a former RONA which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as training of staff focused on new product knowledge and customer service. It features a wider assortment of seasonal products such as Halloween decorations, items for the holiday season, and outdoor furniture including the latest fashion trends; a complete selection of appliances and the introduction of entirely new product categories including Lowe’s private labels and top brands such as John Deere, Husqvarna, and Cub Cadet; a broader selection of fashion plumbing products such as tubs, showers, toilets, vanities, sinks, and faucets with the introduction of high-profile brands such as Kohler and Grohe; and floor displays featuring the latest fashions in wood flooring and tiles with larger displays at eye level allowing customers to better visualize their projects and better experience the texture of flooring products. For pros and commercial customers, features include access to a drive-through lumber yard where contractors can load their vehicles directly to save time, as well as have access to a broader lumber assortment; introduction of corporately owned and operated delivery trucks to provide a more personalized level of service for deliveries to contractors; and enhanced assortment in key contractor categories including lumber, building materials, millwork, tools, and hardware. The store marks the company’s 67th store in Canada under the Lowe’s banner and sixth location in the greater Edmonton area.

Atlas Completes Coastal Acquisition

Atlas Engineered Products Ltd. has completed its acquisition of Coastal Windows Ltd. of Nanaimo, BC. Atlas says the Coastal acquisition is a very important element in its long-term strategy. Coastal has a small-footprint and high-quality window manufacturing operation that Atlas will replicate in all its operating regions across Canada. Eventually, Atlas will offer all its customers the option of filling the window openings in the prefabricated walls that Atlas supplies with Coastal’s high-quality windows. This will provide Atlas with a greater wallet share of the construction projects it is able to supply.

HighJump Integrates WCS With WMS

HighJump, a global provider of supply chain solutions, says its warehouse control system (WCS) is now integrated with its warehouse management system (WMS). The WCS provides supply chain professionals with a comprehensive solution suite to capitalize on connected and automated warehouses of tomorrow. It says supply chain professionals are rapidly automating operations to handle eCommerce, shorter delivery windows, and enhanced consumer expectations. With WCS, businesses can integrate and manage the latest automation technologies, such as autonomous mobile robots, while gaining real-time visibility to enhance complex workflows. The WCS works with any material handling equipment (MHE) provider. This creates a single point of data and communication amongst MHE, WCS, and WMS. Supply chain professionals have the insight and agility to adapt to high volumes, single line orders, seasonality, and beyond. 

Inbox Overload Mean Emails Ignored

Despite 47 per cent of consumers ranking eMail as their preferred channel for brand communications, over half (55 per cent) ignore marketing eMails due to inbox overload, says a study from Yes Lifecycle Marketing. Its ‘Surviving the Retail Apocalypse’report found that in addition to inbox overload, subscribers ignore marketing eMails because of irrelevant product recommendations (50 per cent) and content (41 per cent). The findings indicate that many retailers still fail to understand consumer preferences in terms of mailing frequency, timing, and content. Even though consumers will ignore eMails that fall short of their expectations, 42 per cent don't unsubscribe from these communications; instead, they scan the subject lines to determine whether they'll open them. As well, 33 per cent of subscribers ignore marketing eMails if they don't offer a discount or free shipping and 60 per cent will purchase from eMails that offer these incentives. Only 37 per cent of consumers say that the communications they receive from retailers are adequately personalized.

RPM Promotes From Within

Lonny DiRusso has been promoted to vice-president and chief information officer with RPM International Inc. Prior to this promotion, he held the position of vice-president – information technology at RPM for the past 13 years and, before that, the titles of director – information technology and management information systems manager. Matthew Franklin has been promoted to vice-president – information technology. He joined RPM 20 years ago and previously held the position of senior director – IT operations. Gordon Hyde has been promoted to vice-president – operations. He began his career at RPM more than 20 years ago as vice-president – operations for Zinsser, a former RPM operating company, and subsequently held similar positions at RPM and its wood finishes group before joining RPM specialty products group in 2015.

October 5, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Partners With Red Cross

Lowe’s Canada has launched a fundraising campaign to support the victims of the recent tornados in the Gatineau and Ottawa, ON, region. Until October 14, customers shopping at Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores in Gatineau and Ottawa are invited to donate toward the Ottawa-Gatineau Tornado Appeal to help their fellow citizens when making purchases. “At Lowe’s Canada, our purpose is to help people love where they live. It also means coming together to support a community when it most needs it,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs and compliance with Lowe’s Canada. “We are proud to partner with the Red Cross once again for this pressing cause.”

Renoworks, CertainTeed Enhance Visualization Tool

Renoworks Software Inc. and CertainTeed have enhanced their ColorView Visualization Tool. The tool takes advantage of Renoworks' latest web visualizer updates, including visualization tools, user navigation, and the Palettes colour and design selector. Now, it also creates a realistic rendering of a home using high-resolution CertainTeed siding and roofing product images of the homeowners' choosing. Users can visualize CertainTeed's collection of exterior product on their own home and explore different design combinations with Renoworks' Palettes experience.

Sharp Increase Forecast For Frictionless Payments

Global retail spend at frictionless payment stores like Amazon Go will grow from an estimated $253 million in 2018 to over $45 billion by 2023, says a report from Juniper Research. Most of these transactions will be in convenience and general stores, with an average transaction value around $30 per visit throughout the forecast period. The report also forecasts that self-scanning apps will be used by over 32 million shoppers by 2023, driving higher engagement. While Wi-Fi will continue to remain the biggest engagement point for customers, Juniper expects smart checkout apps to act as gateways to technologies like Bluetooth beacons and augmented reality. The research finds customer service as a key area for in-store innovation, with retailers experimenting with automated handling of customer queries. Voice assistants and in-store robots will support this in 2023. Early leaders here include Lowe’s customer service robots. “Many of these technologies can bring multiple benefits to retailers,” says James Moar, the research author. “For example, Robots and RFID can be used in both customer service and inventory management, making both elements of in-store retail more efficient.”

Hillman Completes Big Time Acquisition

Hardware solutions company the Hillman Group, Inc. has completed its acquisition of Big Time Products, a provider of personal protection and work gear products. With the addition of Big Time, Hillman’s product portfolio now spans the hardware, automotive, garden, and cleaning categories and includes Big Time brands such as Firm Grip, AWP, McGuire-Nicholas, Grease Monkey, and Gorilla Grip, which are sold throughout retailers in North America.

Deere Makes Changes

James M. Field will be president, worldwide construction and forestry division, with Deere & Company. He will succeed Max A. Guinn, who will retire. John C. May will be president, worldwide agriculture and turf division ‒ global harvesting and turf platforms, ag solutions, Americas and Australia. Mark von Pentz will be president, worldwide agriculture and turf division, global tractor and hay and forage platforms, Europe, CIS, Asia, Africa. Raj Kalathur will be senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief information officer. All changes and appointments are effective November 15.

Manufacturers Market Drives Richelieu Growth

Richelieu had consolidated sales of $260.6 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 2.9 per cent over consolidated sales of $253.2 million for the third quarter of 2017. Sales to the manufacturers market were $221.9 million for the quarter, up 4.4 per cent compared to $212.5 million in the year-ago period. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores stood at $38.7 million, down 4.9 per cent over the third quarter of 2017. In Canada, sales were $178.7 million, an increase of 3.8 per cent over the third quarter of 2017. Sales to manufacturers increased 5.4 per cent. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores totalled to $35 million, down 2.5 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2017. Sales in the U.S. were down 0.9 per cent year-over-year. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores in the U.S were down 21.6 per cent from the corresponding quarter of 2017. EBITDA for the third quarter was $28.9 million, up 3.6 per cent year-over-year. EBITDA margin stood at 11.1 per cent, compared to 11 per cent last year. Net earnings grew by 1.2 per cent.

October 4, 2018

Canadian Tire Triangle Rewards Now Accepted At Husky

Canadian Tire is expanding its Triangle Rewards program so users can earn electronic Canadian Tire Money (CTM) on fuel purchases through a new partnership with Husky. Canadian Tire Mastercard cardholders can earn CTM on fuel purchases at participating Husky locations across Canada in addition to Canadian Tire Gas+ locations. They will earn five cents per litre in CTM on every litre of fuel purchased with the Triangle Mastercard at participating Husky locations. To accelerate earning, Triangle World Mastercard and Triangle World Elite Mastercard cardholders can earn seven cents per litre in CTM on every litre of premium grade fuel. Canadian Tire Gas+ locations will continue to offer these same rewards. The Triangle Rewards is a no-fee loyalty program that enables cardholders to earn CTM online and in-store at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, participating Mark's and Atmosphere locations, and on fuel purchases at any Canadian Tire Gas+ locations.

NRF Forecasts U.S. Holiday Sales Increase

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects U.S. holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline, and restaurants – to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 per cent over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion. The forecast compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 per cent over the past five years. Holiday sales in 2017 totaled $687.87 billion, a 5.3 per cent increase over the year before and the largest increase since the 5.2 per cent year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession. “Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.” The holiday forecast is consistent with NRF’s forecast that annual U.S. retail sales for 2018 will increase at least 4.5 per cent over 2017.

Whirlpool Launches Pro Online Resource

Whirlpool Corporation has launched a new website, Whirlpool Pro. The website was developed around trade audiences' needs and offers tailored content and resources for each major industry group. Builders, designers, architects, distributors, and other industry professionals will find information to help them build their business, including insights about Whirlpool Corporation innovations in design, connectivity, and sustainability. Major features of the site include resources and tools, background on homeowners and consumer trends, and news on the latest innovations. In addition to the website, the company recently kicked off an industry-focused marketing campaign about the power of collaborating with Whirlpool Corporation. The ‘Count on Us’ features advertisements in various industry publications and leads users to the new Whirlpool Pro site. Whirlpool Pro has replaced Inside Advantage, the company's former trade website.

Resolute To Sell Paper Mill

Resolute Forest Products Inc. plans to sell the assets of its Catawba, SC, paper and pulp mill to New-Indy Containerboard, LLC. Catawba's operation includes a kraft mill and a pulp dryer to produce market pulp, a thermomechanical pulp mill, and a lightweight coated paper machine. The transaction is expected to close at or around year-end. Resolute plans to use the proceeds from the sale to further reduce net debt and grow its core business in line with its transformation strategy.

Harvey Joins ADS

Darin Harvey is executive vice-president, supply chain, with Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS), effective October 15. Most recently, he served as vice-president of integrated supply chain at Forum Energy Technologies, Inc.

Sales Rise For RPM

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.46 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 8.5 per cent over net sales of $1.35 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. The industrial segment net sales increased 7.2 per cent; consumer net sales increased 13.6 per cent; and the specialty segment net sales increased 2.3 per cent. Income before income taxes (IBT) for the quarter was $91.9 million compared to $155.3 million for the year-ago period. Consolidated earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were $113.9 million compared to $177.6 million. The company says profitability continued to be adversely affected by rising raw material costs.

October 3, 2018

Castle Expands In West

Castle Building Centres Group continues to expand in the western region of Canada with the addition of its latest member location, Thermo Pro Insulation and Drywall in Lacombe, AB. The new member’s store was established 10 years ago as a building material supply and installation company, specializing in insulation and drywall for new construction and renovation. It provides surrounding area contractors in commercial, agricultural, and residential construction with drywall, spray foam, and spider insulation. It also supplies and installs steel stud and suspended ceiling products. The company also operates a full fleet of delivery and installation vehicles servicing all of central Alberta.

Amazon To Build Third BC DC

Amazon will build its third British Columbia fulfillment centre on Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) lands. The 450,000-square-foot facility will be Amazon's 10th fulfillment facility in Canada. Associates at this facility will pick, pack, and ship customer items such as books, toys, small electronics, and home goods. In addition to its fulfillment centres, Amazon also operates a tech hub in Vancouver, BC.

Nielsen Launches SmartStore In Canada

Nielsen has launched its SmartStore solution in Canada. SmartStore helps retailers measure, evaluate, and optimize a range of retail concepts on sales and profit, based on how target shoppers react at the moment of truth, in any store format. It helps measure the effectiveness of point-of-sale merchandise (POSM) based on what shoppers ‘see, think, and do.’ The product utilizes realistic and immersive simulation of a 3D, 360 total store environment. Testing in a virtual environment eliminates the unnecessary risk of trial-and-error execution. SmartStore builds a live environment, creating multiple scenarios helping in comprehensive analytics of shoppers experience (track shopper head, eye, and feet movements, 3D heat maps, etc). “With shoppers reducing the number of trips they make to the store, optimizing that shopping trip they make has become increasingly important,” says Mike Ljubicic, managing director, Nielsen Canada. “It is essential that manufacturers and retailers collaborate to understand in-store shopper behaviour and priorities in order to maximize investment.”

Earthy And Mixed Materials Trending In Flooring

Mixing and matching different floor styles, golden hues, and earthy, natural colour tones and materials are in fashion for flooring this fall, says Lumber Liquidators in its ‘Fall 2018 Style Report.’ The report says homeowners should get personal and embrace an aesthetic in their flooring choices that makes a unique statement. One way to present a differentiating look is to mix floors that are complementary in style, function, and design, yet vary enough in colour and texture to create a beautiful custom pattern that visually intrigues without overwhelming. Gold and brass have made a comeback in interior design through lighting, faucets, and furniture and are now present in flooring through golden hues and metallic stains. Bringing the outdoors in is a trend that can be achieved by using flooring with earthy colour tones and natural materials like wood and stone. Extra-wide planks are also still popular.

October 2, 2018

Lackluster Retail Sales Growth Continues

Another month of Statistics Canada numbers show another month of ho-hum Canadian retail sales growth, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending July, total Canadian retail sales were up 4.4 per cent on a non-adjusted basis. But this is nothing to be excited about, he says. Another concern is that rising gas prices are distorting the picture. If gasoline stations are taken out, then Canadian retail sales growth is even weaker, up only three per cent for the second quarter. eCommerce sales, which represent about 2.8 per cent of total Canadian retail sales, were up 15.7 per cent year-over-year for the second quarter, but this is much less than the 37 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digits, and are still much higher than for location-based retail, but growth is slowing down. The bricks-and-mortar segment (estimated at 42.5 per cent of the online sales market) had an estimated $7.2 billion in eCommerce sales, making a grand total of $16.9 billion in online sales by Canadian operators year-over-year.

Castle Presents Largest Cheque To SickKids

Castle Building Centres Group presented a cheque for $30,850 to the SickKids Hospital Foundation. The funds were raised at Castle’s ‘Vendor Appreciation Golf Tournament,’ held in August in North Halton, ON. Ken Jenkins, president of Castle, presented the cheque to the foundation. “Today I had the incredible pleasure of presenting a cheque to the SickKids Hospital Foundation,” he said. “The donation of $30,850 was our largest donation to date and reflects your remarkable generosity to such a worthy cause. Our golf tournament was a tremendous success. Standing in the atrium of SickKids Hospital is a humbling experience. It provides perspective to what is truly important in life. You should take great pride in knowing your donations are making a difference in the lives of children who will benefit from your support.” More than 150 guests attended the tournament, representing Castle vendor partners from across Canada. The participants had the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, win prizes, and enjoy a day at the award-winning golf course.

Pending U.S. Home Sales Slide

Pending home sales in the U.S. fell slightly in August and have now decreased on an annual basis for eight straight months, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The ‘Pending Home Sales Index,’ a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 1.8 per cent to 104.2 in August from 106.1 in July. With last month’s decline, contract signings are now down 2.3 per cent year-over-year. Low inventory continues to contribute to the housing market slowdown. However, according to the third quarter ‘Housing Opportunities and Market Experience’ (HOME) survey, a record high number (77 per cent) of Americans believe now is a good time to sell; this compares to 55 per cent who said so in 2016. NAR says with prices having risen so quickly, many consumers were deciding to wait to list their homes hoping to see additional price and equity gains. As well, year-over-year increases in active listings from data at realtor.com illustrate a potential rise in inventory.

FBM To Sell Mechanical Insulation Business

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM) plans to sell its mechanical insulation segment to an affiliate of Dunes Point Capital, LP. The mechanical insulation segment distributes and fabricates commercial and industrial products through 67 branch and fabrication locations in Canada and the U.S. that provide solutions for pipes and mechanical systems to insulation contractors, HVAC contractors, general contractors, and facility operators. FBM says the divestiture of the segment will allow it to sharpen its focus on growing its more profitable businesses, reduce debt, and optimize the company’s portfolio, thereby enhancing shareholder value. Upon closing of the transaction, the FBM will operate under one segment, specialty building products. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year.

Construction, Renovation To Drive Tool Chests Sales

Demand for chests and cabinets totaled $1.7 billion in 2017, accounting for the largest share of tool storage demand in a continuation of historical trends. Chests and cabinets are priced much higher than other tool storage products, which partially accounts for the high dollar sales. Through 2022, demand for chests and cabinets is expected to advance 1.6 per cent annually to $1.8 billion. Sales will be promoted by continued strength in construction activity, ongoing interest in DIY activities, continued growth in aftermarket automotive repair, and product innovations that improve ease-of-use and functionality. Nevertheless, faster growth will be restrained by the high level of market maturity for most of these products, as well as by their durability, which limits the frequency of replacement sales. Although new sales opportunities are scarce in any given year, there will be some upgrade and replacement demand among current owners.

October 1, 2018

Small Business Confidence Steady

Small business confidence held steady in September at 61.4 index points, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s ‘Business Barometer.’ “Optimism in Quebec and Prince Edward Island is still sky-high, but sentiment in the rest of the country remains more muted,” says Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “Small business owners are responding to the political and economic uncertainty they’re seeing nationally and internationally.” Forty-five per cent of owners reported that their business is in good shape this month, compared to 10 per cent who say they are in bad shape. Hiring plans are slightly lower than typical expectations for this time of year, with 18 per cent of owners expecting to add full-time staff compared to 14 per cent who plan to cut back in the next three or four months. Quebec overtook Prince Edward Island as the most confident province in the country, reporting a level of 74.5, a 2.7 point increase. Its optimism remained level at 74.1. Ontario experienced the greatest increase in optimism, gaining 3.6 points to 61.2. Nova Scotia experienced the greatest confidence drop this month, but maintained a level above the national average, while Manitoba’s confidence loss brought it just below the average.

Lacolle Centre Du Quincaillier Joins BMR

Lacolle Centre du Quincaillier has joined the BMR Group dealer network as a BMR Express dealer, a variation of the traditional banner with a smaller footprint and products geared to the local market. Owner Henri Dauphinais, who also owns several commercial businesses in Lacolle, QC, says he joined the group because of its ability to meet the needs of Quebec hardware consumers. The business has undergone a complete renovation of its storefront and the 5,000-square-foot hardware store and construction will start on a 10,000-square-foot warehouse this fall. The new building will allow for more products and building materials on-site.

Texada Software Partners With Home Hardware

Texada Software has partnered with Home Hardware Stores Limited to provide dealer-owners its SRM (systematic rental management) product. Each branch that plans on utilizing SRM will be able to manage rental inventory, streamline counter operations, and provide detailed reporting across the business.

Middle Managers Drive Employee Engagement

Focusing on managers as a distinct group of employees can drive higher engagement overall in businesses, says a report by the Conference Board of Canada. The report, ‘Employee Engagement: Driving Engagement From the Middle,’ shows that as middle manager engagement scores improve, so do the scores of their employees. In fact, employees who work for engaged managers are 59 per cent more likely to be engaged compared to those supervised by disengaged managers. Disengaged middle managers are three times more likely to have disengaged employees who, in turn, are four times as likely to consider leaving their jobs. Confidence in senior leadership is the most influential factor in determining engagement for both managers and workers. Trust in senior leadership and communication regarding organizational objectives are key drivers in improving the engagement of managers and workers. Addressing gaps in engagement between senior leaders and middle managers in areas such as ensuring co-operation, confidence that leaders can achieve goals, alignment in the vision for the organization, and taking pride in their contributions and success of their organizations can help boost middle managers engagement.

Home Depot Launches Express Delivery In U.S.

Home Depot has rolled out express same-day and next-day local delivery for more than 20,000 of its most popular items to 35 major metros across the U.S. The service is part of the company's overall five-year expansion of its delivery offerings for DIY and professional customers. Qualifying products for the express delivery option include everything from power tools to décor to garden supplies, with delivery options starting at $8.99. The company is partnering with car and van providers like Roadie and Deliv to offer the delivery options for smaller items, while continuing to expand its supply chain network for faster shipments of large bulk deliveries. The ongoing investment calls for additional direct fulfillment centres and more than 100 new distribution sites to further extend delivery speed and reach.

Alberta Launches Fall Instant Savings Program

Energy Efficiency Alberta has launched the fall 2018 version of its ‘Instant Savings Program.’ At participating retailers, consumers can get savings on a range of products such as LED recessed downlight fixtures, LED outdoor yard lights with motion sensors, heavy-duty timers, and energy-efficient showerheads. Instant savings range from $2 per light bulb to $12 for a high-efficiency showerhead. Participating retailers across Alberta include Home Hardware, RONA, and Lowe’s Canada. The program will run until October 28. A complete list of eligible products and participating retail locations can be found on Energy Efficiency Alberta's website

September 28, 2018

Demand Fully On Upswing

Buoyed by a strong summer market, demand for detached homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is finally on the upswing, as active listings fall, says a report from the RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Canada region. "We expect momentum to build moving into the traditional fall market and the trend to continue throughout the remainder of the year," says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director for the RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Canada region. "The worst is now behind us. Pent-up demand will be a factor in the coming months, as homebuyers – many of whom delayed their purchasing plans – are entering the market." Leading the charge are first-time buyers of single-detached homes in the $600,000 to $900,000 range. Since June, this segment has reported a 22 per cent increase in year-over-year sales (4,086 versus 3,347). Inventory at this price point is low, with just under 900 homes currently listed for sale in the 416 area. This could potentially prompt buyers to expand their search into the 905, where the number of homes listed for sale in this price range is more plentiful .

FCL Re-launches ‘Made By Us’ Campaign

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) will re-launch its ‘Made by Us’ campaign that highlights the organization’s private label products sold in western Canada. This year, six more premium products will be added to the campaign that features videos showcasing the Canadians working behind the scenes to create the products sold at Co-op Food Stores, Convenience Stores, and Home Centres. The videos will be released on television and digital services. Henry Silberman and his son Eitan make CO-OP IMAGINE Paint Applicators at their family business, Bennett Tools, in Concord, ON. Their video can be viewed here

Giant Tiger Opens Johnstown DC

Giant Tiger Stores Limited’s state-of-the-art distribution centre in Johnstown, ON, is now fully operational. The centre supports the company’s growth strategy, which commits to opening 15 stores per year across Canada. The distribution centre covers approximately 600,000 square feet and features the first Symbotic system in Canada, the latest in shipping and warehousing technology. Symbotic's innovative solution provides Giant Tiger with 210 autonomous robots that move freely up, down and across racks of inventory to deposit or retrieve cases at speeds up to 40 kilometres an hour. Large robotic arms, manufactured by Axium in Montreal, QC, work in tandem to unpack inbound pallets and build outbound pallets based on a complex algorithm that results in denser, taller pallets. Giant Tiger says one of its strengths is short replenishment lead times from order placement to store delivery. Symbotic's full-case pick accuracy of 99.99 per cent and significant increase in productivity are a game-changer for the supply chain. Giant Tiger processes orders for 100 stores a day on average and these can be received, picked, packed, and shipped by the company's dedicated trucking fleet, all within 24 hours.

Home Hardware Stores Celebrate National Tree Day

Home Hardware Stores Limited and Tree Canada celebrated National Tree Day by planting trees and shrubs at different locations across Canada. This year, 37 Home Hardware locations participated in tree planting initiatives across the country. Since 1992, Home Hardware dealers have planted 25,792 trees, valued at nearly $1.4 million, in green spaces across the country. The plant represents the eighth-year anniversary of National Tree Day, held annually on the Wednesday of National Forest Week to remind Canadians of the numerous health and environmental benefits provided by trees. The day is celebrated across the country with tree dedications, plantings, workshops, and outdoor education walks.

Renoworks Partners With Geomni

Renoworks Software Inc.has entered into a strategic partnership with industry leading geospatial data company Geomni,a Veriskbusiness, to advance the home design-to-project delivery process in construction and remodeling markets. Geomni's expertise in delivering detailed measurements and analytics that serve multiple markets including insurance, architecture, emergency response, urban planning, and more, combined with Renoworks' visualization services and manufacturer product libraries powering the home remodeling and construction industry, provide additional growth opportunities and innovation conduits for both companies. The agreement allows the two to act as mutual value-added resellers (VAR) of their respective product solutions with initial deployment focused on manufacturer and material supplier markets.

Formica Canada Launches Student Competition

Formica Canada’s ‘Design My Formica Booth Competition’ invites Ontario interior design and architecture students to put their creativity to work by designing a booth for the Architect@Work tradeshow featuring Formica products. Entrants have the chance to win cash prizes and have the design created and showcased at the 2019 show in Toronto, ON. Within the scope of the competition, students will design an innovative eight-by-eight-by-eight-foot booth concept, using three Formica laminate collections – DecoMetal, Formica Infiniti ColorCore2, and HardStop. The booth should attract attention as well as highlight these collections, which will soon feature several new designs and colours. Formica will launch six DecoMetal designs and four Infiniti ColorCore2 colours on November 5, 2019. The competition is open for entries from October 1 to December 31 and the winners will be unveiled February 7. The show takes place April 3 and 4 at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information about the show, visit Architect@Work; for information about the competition, visit Formica Canada.

PPG Appoints Two

Dan Fayock has been appointed assistant general counsel and corporate secretary at PPG. Previously, he was corporate counsel. He joined PPG in 2006. Joe Gette is assistant general counsel, M&A, and securities. He joined PPG in 2005 and worked most recently as corporate council.

September 27, 2018

WSIB Premiums Falling

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has eliminated its unfunded liability (UFL) almost 10 years ahead of its legislated schedule, achieving a historic financial milestone. It also means the 2019 average premium rate will decrease by 29.8 per cent from $2.35 to $1.65. The UFL – the shortfall between the money needed to pay future benefits and the money in the insurance fund – existed for decades and reached a high of $14.2 billion in 2011. In 2009, the Auditor General of Ontario warned that the UFL put the WSIB at risk of not being able to meet its obligations to people. “This achievement safeguards Ontario’s workplace health and safety system,” says Elizabeth Witmer, chair of the WSIB. “People who are hurt or become ill as a result of their work can have confidence we will be here to help them now and always.” Ontario businesses, which played an important role in paying down the UFL, will now see a significant reduction to the average premium rate, leaving more money in the economy. “Today’s premium rate announcement leaves $1.45 billion in the economy every year that businesses can invest in new jobs, new technology, and health and safety improvements,” says Witmer.

GTA Buyers Wait On Sidelines

It was a quiet month for Ontario’s GTA new home market in August, as buyers waited on the sidelines, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 974 total new home sales in August with 171 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, up 50 per cent from last August, but down 80 per cent from the 10-year average. Condominium apartments in low, medium, and high-rise buildings; stacked townhouses; and loft units accounted for 803 new home sales, down one per cent from August 2017 and down 28 per cent from the 10-year average. Many potential new home buyers are taking a wait-and-see approach due to the effects of government interventions to cool the housing market and concerns about the future direction of the economy, says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. "Once the market adjusts and more people start looking for homes, our region's short supply of housing will mean that affordability will continue to be a challenge for many new home buyers," he says.

U.S. Non-residential Building Slides As Housing Retreats

The value of new construction starts in the U.S. in August decreased nine per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $741.9 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The August downturn for total construction starts matched the nine per cent decline reported for July, as activity in the latest two months pulled back after the sharp increases in May (up 14 per cent) and June (up 10 per cent). By major sector, weaker activity was reported in August for non-residential building, down 19 per cent, and residential building, down seven per cent. On the plus side, non-building construction in August advanced six per cent, reflecting a steady performance by public works as well as improvement for electric utilities following depressed activity earlier this year. During the first eight months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $540 billion, up one per cent from a year ago. The August data produced a reading of 157 for the Dodge Index, down from 173 in July. During the previous seven months the index averaged 170, with this year’s high of 190 reached in June while the low of 152 took place in April.

Wolseley Canada Opens Ottawa Branch

Wolseley Canada has opened an Ottawa, ON, branch. The 11,000-square-foot facility includes both plumbing and HVAC/R inventory. The branch is part of the company’s ongoing focus to revitalize its facilities through renovations and open new locations in order to enhance the customer branch experience and deliver exceptional customer value. Since the initiative began in 2016, Wolseley has opened new locations in Kitchener, Oshawa, and Concord, ON; Antigonish, NS; and Lachine and Laval, QC. It also expanded its Windsor and Orangeville, ON, locations.

Lee Valley Opens Laval Store

Lee Valley’s 20th location will open October 3 in Laval, QC. The 25,000-square-foot store will carry products in the woodworking, gardening, hobby, hardware, gift, and seasonal categories. The Ottawa, ON-based chain also owns the Veritas Tools brand. The company was founded by Leonard Lee in 1978.

Hurricane Ties Prevent Roof Uplift

There have been an increasing number of tornadoes hitting Canadian communities in the last few years, causing roofs to be ripped from homes and resulting in total losses, says the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). Research by the organization has found that a few low-cost measures can protect homes from extreme wind events, including tornadoes rated as high as EF2. These include use of hurricane ties – inexpensive metal fittings that connect roof trusses to walls. Roof loss increases the chance that walls will collapse on people, injuring or killing them, allows large debris to enter the wind field causing more damage downstream (as well as deaths and injuries), and opens the home to water damage. Hurricane ties provide a better connection between roof joists and a home's walls. They cost anywhere from about 60 cents to $2 each, depending on the model chosen. With the average home requiring about 50 to 70 ties and one labourer about two hours to install, the total cost can come in below $150 for a home (including ties, fasteners, and labour). To that end, ICLR has made formal submissions to both the national and Ontario building codes to make hurricane ties mandatory in all new builds.

Government Solicits SME Innovation Input

As the single-largest purchaser of goods and services, the federal government is using procurement in a new way to help Canadian small business owners commercialize their ideas and solve complex government challenges. Through the Innovative Solutions Canada program, government departments are inviting small businesses to come up with innovative solutions in response to specific challenges they face. Winning small businesses may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development and, if accepted into Phase 2, receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. The government may then act as a first customer, helping these small businesses commercialize their innovations, scale up their business, and create jobs. The government has set up several challenges for SMEs to address including plastic waste, recycling, construction waste, and bioplastics. For more information, visit Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Akiri Leads Component Business

Chet Akiri is senior vice-president and business leader of the components business at Masonite International Corporation, effective October 8. He has over 20 years of general management, corporate development, and consulting experience, most recently as chief operating officer and chief commercial officer for Bristow Group.

BB&B Earnings Slide

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had net earnings of $48.6 million for the second quarter of 2018, a decrease over net earnings of $94.2 million for the second quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were approximately $2.9 billion, flat to the prior-year quarter. Comparable sales decreased by approximately 0.6 per cent, and included strong sales growth from the company's customer-facing digital channels. Gross profit was $989 million, down from $1 billion in the year-ago period.

September 26, 2018

RCC Wants Bill 148 Repealed

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) believes that many of the Bill 148 changes were ill-considered and are harmful to business and to employment prospects for Ontarians. In a letter to the Ontario ministry of labour, it says it wants the changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA)and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) repealed asthe sheer number of problems with Bill 148’s changes fundamentally compromises the ESAand LRAregimes. If desired, it says more balanced legislation could be introduced, but only after a proper period of consultation and weighing different potential impacts. Bill 148’s biggest single cost to businesses is the increase in the minimum wage, which rises to $15/hour January 1, 2019, a 29.3 per cent over a 12-month period. Another area of great lies with the so-called ‘pay equity’ provisions in section 42.1 of the ESAthat seek to preclude wage distinctions between full-time and part-time employees. While this sounds fine in theory, these provisions have thrown off numerous issues, it says. The first of these is that there are very significant cost implications for retailers. As well, the criteria for determining equivalency are ill-defined and, in some cases, counter-intuitive. It also has concerns about personal emergency leave provisions and public holiday pay entitlements. There are aspects of Bill 148 that RCC can support ‒ the increase in annual vacation to three weeks seeks to promote better work-life balance, banning any requirement for medical notes, and the extension of the ‘three-hour rule’ to shift cancellations on less than 48-hours notice.

TIMBER MART Expands Distribution Network

TIMBER MART is expanding its lumber and building material (LBM) distribution centre network into Ontario with the addition of a five-acre property in Mount Forest. The facility is located within a six-hour radius of a multitude of TIMBER MART member locations and will offer a wide selection of LBM products, weekly deliveries, cross-docking/furtherance service, and easy access for dealers looking to pick up their orders. This will be the third facility the buying group operates and will represent a significant expansion of its current distribution centre network which consists of facilities in Langley, BC, and another in St-Nicolas, QC. “Our new distribution centre in Ontario will offer our members all of the conveniences that our existing facilities provide and that our members in British Columbia, Quebec, and New Brunswick currently enjoy,” says Bernie Owens, president of TIMBER MART. “We look forward to opening the new facility in January of 2019 and providing our dealers with a great source of LBM products and competitive advantage in their local markets.”

Wholesale Sales Increase

Wholesale sales rose for the third time in five months, up 1.5 per cent to $63.9 billion in July, more than offsetting the 0.9 per cent decline in June, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing approximately 66 per cent of total wholesale sales. The personal and household goods; food, beverage and tobacco; and motor vehicle and parts subsectors led the gains in July, while the miscellaneous subsector posted the largest decline. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 1.2 per cent. Sales increased in six provinces in July, which together represented 97 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada. Quebec and Ontario accounted for most of the gain. In dollar terms, the Atlantic provinces reported the largest decline in July. Wholesale inventories increased for the fifth time in seven months, up 1.4 per cent to $87.1 billion in July. Gains were recorded in six of seven subsectors, representing 86 per cent of total wholesale inventories.

Entrepreneurs Confident Despite Trade Turbulence

Despite all the turbulence, business owners remain in a confident state of mind, says a survey by BDC. Close to 80 per cent of owners of small- and medium-sized businesses saw stable or increasing sales over the past 12 months, even after considerable growth in the first half of 2017. As well, the majority of respondents expect sales to improve further over the next 12 months. Business investment for the first half of 2018 was up 7.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. As well, notwithstanding rising interest rates, two-thirds of business owners see stable financing conditions. However, when asked about their perception of conditions for their competitors, their region, and the Canadian economy generally, business owners were a little less optimistic. This could be due, in part, by current news about NAFTA and U.S. imposed tariffs. BDC says Canadian companies can weather this storm by continuing to focus on existing customers while seeking out new markets. Another study by the firm finds that diversification correlates strongly with financial success. Investing in innovation to develop new products or processes will improve a business’ competitive position, but it’s always a good idea to keep a tight grip on costs.

Generac To Distribute Transfer Switch In Canada

Generac will distribute its cUL-approved, service-rated switch in Canada soon, the company says. The transfer switch will be available in 100- and 200-amp versions, which can be mounted indoors or outdoors for installation flexibility. The unit is equipped with load shedding, a feature that will benefit homeowners by allowing them to get whole-house backup with a smaller generator. The switch’s load shedding functionality, which is typically an optional accessory, has now been integrated into the switch and monitors the home’s consumption of generator power. If there comes a time in which electrical demand exceeds the generator’s capacity, the load shedding system will automatically disconnect the most power-hungry loads – in this case air conditioning ‒ until the generator has enough capacity to bring them back online. This built-in functionality allows the transfer switch to manage up to four individual HVAC loads without any extra hardware.

Tariffs To Affect Demand For U.S. Hand Tools

U.S. demand for hand tools is projected to rise 1.4 per cent annually to $5.7 billion in 2022, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Growth will be sustained by rising homeownership rates among Millennials and women, who represent new sales opportunities for hand tool manufacturers, as well as a growing interest in DIY activities among consumers. However, U.S.-imposed duties on imports of foreign steel and aluminum, as well as other products, will limit gains. While eCommerce represents the fastest-growing distribution channel for hand tools, home centres are expected to overtake direct sales/distributors as the leading sales channel by 2022. Due to the convenience and wide product selection available online, both professional and consumer tool users are increasingly turning to eCommerce for their hand tool needs. As a result, more professional hand tool sales will be made through eCommerce platforms, which will correspond with gains for home centres and declines for direct sales and distributors through the forecast period. Continued strength in building construction and healthy increases in home improvements will support hand tool demand across all segments, particularly hand saws, which is expected to be the fastest growing product segment through 2022. Dollar gains in all product categories will be supported by increased demand for value-added features that improve durability, ease-of-use, and ergonomics.

Kiepp Named Huttig CFO

Philip W. Keipp is vice-president - chief financial officer at Huttig Building Products. He has been with the company since 2009 and most recently served as senior financial consultant.

Technology Focus Of BDC Small Business Week 2018

This year, ‘BDC Small Business Week 2018’ (SBW) will focus on the importance for Canada's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of adopting new technologies and implementing digital change to boost growth. Entrepreneurs will receive advice and tools during this year's edition, which runs October 14 to 20. Under the theme ‘Digitize now: Transform your business,’ the nationwide event will invite Canadian entrepreneurs to learn about the benefits of new technologies and to take rapid action to measure digital performance for commercial success. For more information, visit BDC

September 25, 2018

Apartments Drive New Housing Construction Growth

Investment in new housing construction increased 1.7 per cent year-over-year to $5 billion in July. The growth was driven solely by investment in apartment building construction, as construction of single, double, and row houses all declined compared with July 2017. Spending was up in four provinces, led by Quebec and British Columbia and, to a lesser extent, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The growth in Quebec and British Columbia resulted from investment in apartment building construction, while in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the increase was mainly attributable to investment in single home construction. Spending on apartment building construction was up 29.1 per cent in July. Investment was up in every province, led by Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Spending on row unit construction was down 4.8 per cent, marking the first year-over-year decrease since July 2013. The largest drop in spending was in Ontario.

U.S. Building Permits Decline

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in the U.S. in August decreased 5.7 per cent from July and 5.5 per cent from August 2017, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Single-family authorizations decreased 6.1 per cent compared to July. Privately-owned housing starts in August increased 9.2 per cent versus July and 9.4 per cent versus August 2017. Single-family housing starts in August increased 1.9 per cent over July. Privately-owned housing completions in August increased 2.5 per cent compared to July and 11.2 per cent compared to August 2017. Single-family housing completions in August increased 11.6 per cent versus July.

Hurricane Causes LP To Shut Down NC Operations

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation temporarily shut down its Wilmington, NC, engineered wood operations due to Hurricane Florence. The Wilmington mill suffered damage in the storm and an LP response team has begun assessing the extent of the damage. LP has inventory at the mill that was not damaged and plans to continue servicing customers for the near term from inventory on hand at the Wilmington facility. The company's operations in Roaring River and Roxboro were not impacted by the storm.

Icynene-Lapolla Expands Product Line In Canada

Icynene-Lapolla, a global supplier and manufacturer of high performance, energy efficient building envelope solutions, will expand distribution of the its Lapolla building materials line in Canada. As part of the effort, a suite of Lapolla's standout spray polyurethane foam insulation, roofing, and coating solutions will be made readily available to Canadian customers. To better enable the distribution of Lapolla's insulation materials in Canada, Icynene-Lapolla recently completed an improvement to its Mississauga, ON, manufacturing facility. The retrofit effort focused on increasing manufacturing capacity and product output as well as enhancing product distribution speed and efficiencies.

Lowe's Canada Supports Véro & Louis Foundation

Lowe's Canada will continue its support for the Véro & Louis Foundation as presenting partner of the third 'Artists' Garage Sale' to raise money for the Foundation. The event was held September 22 on the Place Charles-LeMoyne esplanade at the metro station in Longueuil, QC. The foundation will be building its first home for young adults living with autism spectrum disorder on the south shore of Montreal, QC. The support is in addition to Lowe's Canada's commitment to donate $1.5 million to the foundation. As well, the retailer ‒ through its RONA and Reno-Depot banners ‒ contributed to the foundation's virtual auction by offering a suite of kitchen appliances (courtesy of GE), a wine cooler, and a tool cabinet.

September 24, 2018

Retail Sales Up In Eight Sectors

Retail sales rose 0.3 per cent to $50.9 billion in July on higher sales at food and beverage stores and gasoline stations, says Statistics Canada. Excluding the lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales increased 0.9 per cent. Sales were up in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 54.8 per cent of total retail sales. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.1 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 0.3 per cent over June and 5.3 per cent compared to July 2017. Retail sales increased in eight provinces in July. Quebec was up 0.4 per cent and posted the largest increase in dollar terms. Retail sales in Alberta, up 0.6 per cent, rose for the sixth time in seven months. Sales in British Columbia, down 0.5 per cent, declined for the third consecutive month. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totalled $1.3 billion, representing 2.5 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 9.4 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 3.8 per cent.

Retailer Face Cannabis Issues

Legalization of the recreational use of cannabis is less than a month away ‒ October 17 ‒ and retailers have a whole bunch of issues to deal with, says Dan Demers, senior manager of strategic business development at CannAmm. Speaking at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Cannabis in Retail Forum 2018’ on ‘A Delicate Balance: Legal Cannabis and Workplace Harmony,’ he said the industry really needs to understand there is a lot that is still unknown. For example, the method of ingestion ‒ such as smoking/vaporization, oral preparations, trans-dermal, or eye drops ‒ impacts the onset of the feeling of being high and the duration of the high. Another element is the potency of the THC today. The World Health Organization says plants and resins are now up to 16 per cent more potent. Employers will also need addiction programs as one in 10 adults and one is six adolescents will become addicted. And it is important that employers stop comparing cannabis to alcohol. That is like “comparing an apple to a hub cap,” he says, as when alcohol is eliminated, cells return to normal. It can take a one time user up to 24 hours to get over the neurological cognitive lag and frequent users can take over 20 days. Lingering effects can include a lack of alertness, divided attention, and a decline in complex reasoning and memory as well as an impaired ability to judge distance, time, and speed. In fact, he cited tests which showed in simulated landings, no pilot could land safely 24 hours after using cannabis and only one decided they were unfit to fly. “These things matter,” he said, “maybe not for all roles, but for some.”

CertainTeed Loses Fight For Tariffs

CertainTeed Gypsum Canada has lost its fight to have tariffs imposed on 54-inch drywall boards allegedly being dumped into western Canada, which it says is distorting the drywall market in the region. The company is still reviewing the decision made by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) and is waiting for the reasons. In August, the CITT ruled that evidence presented at a preliminary injury inquiry did not prove that dumping of the drywall boards into British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Yukon and Northwest territories injured the domestic drywall industry. CertainTeed Canada is the only producer of gypsum board products in western Canada and would like to expand, but the current situation prevents that, says Richard Juggery, chief executive officer. “We continue to believe we have a strong case that will restore free and fair trade and create and maintain jobs in western Canada. CertainTeed will weigh its options pending the release of CITT reasoning.”

U.S. Spending On Home Improvements To Rise

U.S. homeowners are expected to increase spending on improvements across 50 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas in 2018, says the ‘Metro Area Home Improvement Projections’ by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Spending by homeowners will increase by at least five per cent in 41 of the 50 metros tracked and by 10 per cent or more in 11 of these. None of the 50 major metro areas tracked are projected to see spending decline in 2018. Average growth for the south, west, and midwest is forecast at 7.4 per cent, and growth in the northeast is forecast at 5.6 per cent.

New Duty To Accommodate Created

The legalization of marijuana will create a new duty to accommodate employees in the workplace, says Stuart Ducoffe, founder of e2r Solutions. In the session ‘Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace: Preparing Your Workplace for the Legalization of Marijauna,’ he said, first, employees do not have the right to be impaired at work. However, there is an issue of accommodation, a human rights concept, and employers have to accommodate up to undue hardship. And just as regular drinkers who feel their jobs are in jeopardy will claim addiction and the need for treatment and accommodation, he said regular cannabis users will make the same claim. Most medical uses will qualify for a duty to accommodate. And this is growing. The number of client registration increased from 174,503 in the first quarter to 269,502 in third quarter of fiscal year 2017/2018. However, impairment in the workplace is not a new issue and not limited to cannabis. He advised against zero tolerance policies as they can run afoul of an employer’s duty to accommodate and should only be enacted where the employer can demonstrate a 100 per cent need for sobriety. However, employers should have a clear requirement regarding disclosure of addiction/dependency issues, especially in safety sensitive environments.

Lowe’s, Fenplast To Sponsor Cycling Event

Lowe’s Canada joined Fenplast as co-presenting partner for the second edition of the ‘Bonneville 808 Challenge.’ The cycling fundraiser for the Fondation de l’athlète d’excellence took place in Mont Tremblant, QC, on September 22 and 23. In addition to sponsoring the event, a Lowe’s Canada cycling team participated in the 125 kilometre course. As part of the partnership, Fondation de l’athlète d’excellence will award Lowe’s Canada bursaries to student athletes later this year.

Two Move Up At Masco

Jai Shah is group president at Masco Corporation. In this position, he will have responsibility for Behr Paint Company, Milgard Windows & Doors, the UK Window Group, and Watkins Wellness. He joined Masco in 2013 and served most recently as president of Delta Faucet Company. Ken Roberts has been promoted to president of the Delta Faucet Company. He was previously president of Masco Canada and has been a member of the Delta team for over 22 years.

September 21, 2018

Discussion Of Racial Bias Needed

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

Lowe’s Opens Second Calgary Store

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

Blockchain Becoming Part Of Every Business

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

Amazon Launches SMB Storefront

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

Associates Help Prevent Theft

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

IRWIN Holds Contest For Tradespeople

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

September 20, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Increase For Third Month

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

Amazon Deliberates Opening 3,000 Stores

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

Groupe BMR Starts P&B Renovation

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

SANIFLO Retains New Sales Agency

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

Festool Launches ‘Trade Up to Festool’ Campaign

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

Challgren Leads Therma-Tru

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

September 19, 2018

Home Hardware Welcomes Dealers

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

Circle Brand Rebrands

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

Castle Launches Home Renovation Contest

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

WD-40 Company Moves Secret Formula On 65th Anniversary

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

Boise Cascade To Sell Lumber Mills, Particleboard Operations

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

Mays Joins Whirpool Corp.

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

September 18, 2018

Sales Activity Faces Headwinds

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

Stores Celebrated At Buying Show

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

Stanley B&D Invests In MTD

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

Castle Names Tough Trucks Winner

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

HBC Has Slight Sales Increase

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

September 17, 2018

Buying Show Attracts 2,500

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

Lower EI Premium Praised

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

Digital Technologies Key To Success

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

RPM International Acquires Nadura Corp.

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

Dollarama Sales Increase

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

September 14, 2018

Employment Outlook Is Cautiously Optimistic

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

Pella Launches Home Security App

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

U.S. Skilled Labour Scarcity Affecting Safety

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

Renoworks Updates Gentek Web Visualizer

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

September 13, 2018

Nova Scotia Incorporation Will Soon Be More Economical

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

Dodge Momentum Index Falters In August

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

Technology Can Build Brand Perception

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

Kraus To Sell Flooring Distribution Businesses

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

3M Makes Appointments

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

September 12, 2018

Macnab Appointed CEO Of Home Hardware

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

National Housing Starts Trend Moderates

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

Oversized Item Deliveries Not Up To Par

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

IKEA Opens BC DC

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

Formica Launches Competition For Student Designers

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

Liteline Founder To Retire

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

September 11, 2018

Northlander Joins Sexton

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

Another Record August For Montreal Residential Sales

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

Retailers Maintaining eCommerce Initiatives

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

Allura Launches New Colour Palette

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

Truong To Succeed Gries As James Hardie CEO

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

September 10, 2018

Toronto Residential Sales Up 8.5 Per Cent

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

Walmart Canada Acquires More Tesla Trucks

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

Low-Pressure Laminates Demand To Remain Steady

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

Cobb Leads DaVinci

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

HD Supply Has Double Digit Increase

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

Registration Open For 2019 KBIS

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

September 7, 2018

Building Permits Inch Down

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

Wolseley Canada Acquires James Electric

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

Technology To Drive Home Security Market

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

Kellogg Joins Coast Distributors

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

RH Has Strong Quarter

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

Retail Secure Expands Content

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

September 6, 2018

Retail Sales Slow For Third Consecutive Quarter

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

SMEs Struggle To Find Staff

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

Click-and-collect Gains Traction

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

Ontario Sales Managers Appointed

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

Strong Sales For Generac

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

September 5, 2018

Renovations Boosts Residential Construction Investment


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

Askuity Calls For Industry Voices


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

Transport Canada Supports Vehicle Automation


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

Mobile Shopping Continues Increase


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

Strong Growth Forecast For Connected Washing Machines


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

September 4, 2018

Castle Shows Appreciation

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

Technology Provides Savings Opportunities

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

Younger Generation Needs Education In Homeownership

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

Randall’s To Carry Sansin Wood Finishes

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

Wegmans Offers App To Visually-impaired Customers

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

Alternative Materials To Affect Aluminum Gutter Market

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

August 31, 2018

Christmas Should Start Earlier

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

Lowe’s Canada Launches Annual Heroes Campaign

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

Norbord Releases ‘Thank A Framer’ Campaign

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

Strong Sales Forecast For Smart Thermostats

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

Fortune To Acquire Fiberon

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

Global Solar Home Competition Generates New Ideas

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

Industry Trends Focus Of Security Canada Central

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

August 30, 2018

Payment Methods Turning To Digitization

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

Ply Gem To Acquire Andersen Silver Line Division

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

Schneider Electric To Relocate Edmonton Operations

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

Orgill To Expand Texas DC

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

Residential IoT Device Sales To Increase

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

Weyerhaeuser Announces Succession Plan

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

August 29, 2018

Retailers Need to Innovate To Survive

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

Lee Valley Opens Laval Store

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

Customer Experience Driving Supply Chain Innovation

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

Orgill Partners With Unilog

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

Businesses Should Consider Landline Alternatives

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

Swiss Diamond Names Canadian Representative

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

August 28, 2018

Castle Adds Members

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

Simple Measures Can Reduce Theft

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

Strong Sales Forecast For Windows And Doors Markets

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

BuildDirect Enhances Credit Program For Pros

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

MiTek Upgrades Deck Designer

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

Denton Becomes Lowe’s Chief Financial Officer

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

August 27, 2018

Consumer Values Shifting

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

New Housing Construction Investment Increases

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

Lowe’s Reassesses Business To Focus On Core Competency

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

IKEA Installing Solar Panels On Alberta Stores

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

ETA Expanding Canadian Presence

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

Strong Performance For ROCKWOOL

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

August 24, 2018

New Store Debuts At Market

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

Castle Gets Toronto Member

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

Home Improvement Category Soars On Amazon Prime Day

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

New GTA Home Sales Slide

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

Atis Group Acquires Vitrotec

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

Home Hardware’s McNabb Announces Retirement

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

Ace Revenues Rise

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

August 23, 2018

Slight Decline In June Retail Sales

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

IKEA Canada Opens Quebec City Location

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

July New U.S. Construction Starts Slide

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

Derby Makes Promotions

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

Orchard Supply Divestment Affects Lowe's Earnings

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

Living Spaces For Life Stages Focus Of HomeFest

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

August 22, 2018

Building Materials Lead Wholesale Sales

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

Quebec Setting Aside Millions To Offset Tariffs

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

PGT Completes Western Window Acquisition

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

Deep Green Tones Named Colour Of The Year

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

Walmart Phasing Out Certain Paint Removal Chemicals

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

Strong Revenue At Intertape Polymer

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

Earnings Rise At Interfor

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

August 21, 2018

Employers Struggling To Fill Jobs

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

Lowe’s Extends Partnership With Synchrony

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

RISI Acquires Random Lengths

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

Strong Demand For BTW Pipe

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

HDI Makes Appointments

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

James Hardie Profit Up 29 Per Cent

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

Taiga Posts Gains

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

August 20, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise Again

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

Canadians Want More Payment Options

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

Garaga Acquires Mid-America Door Company

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

Swim Spas Making Splash With Homeowners

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

Energy Efficient Lighting Market Set For Rapid Growth

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

Hendry Joins AFA

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

HDI Sales Up

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

Builders FirstSource Has Strong Increase 

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

August 17, 2018

Revenues Rise At Walmart

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

U.S. LUMBER To Acquire Alexandria Moulding

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

July U.S. Retail Sales Boost Third Quarter

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

Royal Building Products Launches Design Series

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

Global Concrete Floor Coatings Market Set For Rapid Growth

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

Motts Manages National Sales

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

Masonite Sales Rise Nine Per Cent

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

Show Focuses On Outdoor Furnishings

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

August 16, 2018

National Home Sales Continue Increase

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

Store Transformation Drives Self-checkout Market

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

GP To Build Lumber Facility

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

Black Stainless Steel Appliances Gaining Market Share

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

August 15, 2018

Home Depot Has Strong Sales

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

Masonite Building Quebec DC

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

Home Additions Gaining Popularity

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

Blignaut Joins RH

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

Acadian Sees Increased Sales

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

Strong Rise In Norbord Earnings

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

August 14, 2018

Vendors Need To Get To Know Their Buyers

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

RONA Acquiring RONA Lespérance Stores

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

NRF Upgrades Retail Sales Forecast

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

Strong Sales Forecasted For Smart Thermostats

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

Summers Joins Liteline

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

Gains For Boise Cascade

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

LP Sales Climb 17 Per Cent

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

Sales Down At Newell Brands

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

August 13, 2018

Housing Starts Trend Flat

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

SBD Canada Donates To Habitat Builds

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

Maibec Completes Mills Acquisition

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

Glass Fiber-reinforced Gypsum Market To Grow

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

Dunphy Becomes Marketing Director

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

Beacon Roofing Has Increase

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

Continental Has Strong Income

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

Building Products Drives Griffon Growth

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

August 10, 2018

Canadian Tire Has Increased Sales

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

Government Secures Lower Card Cost Agreements

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

Armstrong To Acquire Steel Ceilings

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

Vancouver Property Sales Plummet

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

Berezowski Receives Retail Secure Lifetime Award

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

Rayonier Income Goes Up

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

Income Turns Around For Resolute

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

August 9, 2018

Building Permits Decrease In June

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

Slight Increase In Montreal Home Sales

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

Dodge Momentum Index Increases in July

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

Salary, Benefits Key For Job Seekers

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

Construction To Drive U.S. Plumbing Fixture Demand

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

Frieson Joins Lowe’s

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

Robust Sales For Weyerhaeuser

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

Foreign Currency Benefits Simpson Manufacturing

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

August 8, 2018

Toronto Home Sales Growth Strong

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

Canadian Tire Partners With Petco

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

Giant Tiger Opens Winnipeg Store

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

LG Opens Artificial Intelligence Lab In Canada

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

Honeywell Spins Off Homes Business

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

Derek Miller Leads IHA

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

Masco Has Sales Growth

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

Sales Rise At Lumber Liquidators

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

Trex Sales Soar

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

August 7, 2018

U.S. Millennials Lead Remodeling Initiatives

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

Strong Quarter For Asphalt Shingle Shipments

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

RPM Acquires Mean Green Brand

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

Stephenson Joins Fluidmaster

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

CanWel Has Strong Revenues

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

Architectural Specialty Segment Drives Armstrong Sales

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

August 3, 2018

CT REIT Invests In More Canadian Tire Stores

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

Fluidmaster Opens Ontario DC

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

ClarkDietrich Acquires Stake In Structa Wire

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

Construction Industry Adopting New Technologies

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

Contactless Payments Will Continue Momentum

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

August 2, 2018

Retail Sales Continue Weakening Trend

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

Super-consumers Spend More

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

Taiga Completes Exterior Wood Acquisition

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

Sense Partners With Philips Hue

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

U.S. Siding Distributors To Gain Market Share

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

Lawson Products Has Strong Sales

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

Sales Up For PFB Corporation

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

August 1, 2018

Condos Outpace Toronto Single-family Homes

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

Home Hardware Implements Automatic Material Handling System

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

Uniboard Invests More In Val-d'Or Facility

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

Miele Canada Opens Toronto Flagship Store

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

More U.S. Consumers Purchasing Home Products Online

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

Slobodian Leads CKCA

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

Amazon Sales Up 39 Per Cent

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

Canfor Has Increases

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

July 31, 2018

Permanent Employment Thing Of The Past

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

Digital Presence Imperative For SMBs

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

Giant Tiger Opens NB Store

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

Businesses Face Barriers To Digitization

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

Cruji Heads Sheridan

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

Sales Rise For Spectrum

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

USG Has Positive Sales

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

July 30, 2018

Housing Market Remains Highly Vulnerable

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

Small Business Confidence Takes Major Dive

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

Walmart To Open Surrey Facility

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

St. Clair Paint Founder Dies

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

Valspar Acquisition Drives Sherwin-Williams Sales

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

Decreased Earnings For Mohawk Industries

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

July 27, 2018

Supply Chain Attacks On Rise

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

U.S. Non-residential Building Soars

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

Consumers Want Personalized Content For Mobile

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

Whirlpool Has Loss

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

Sales Rise For 3M

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

July 26, 2018

Policies Causing Negative Housing Outlook

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

Amazon To Build Fulfillment Centre In Caledon

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

IKEA To Open Quebec City Store

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

West Fraser Sales Strong

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

PPG Has Sales Growth

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

July 25, 2018

Retail Data Breaches Continue To Rise

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

Non-residential Building Construction Increase Small

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

Festool To Expand North American Headquarters

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

PPG Makes Appointments

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

UFPI Has Double Digit Growth

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

July 24, 2018

Wholesale Sales Set Record For May

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

Condo, Townhome Sales Plummet In BC

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

Arrow Tools To Be Featured In TV Show

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

Trex Makes Moves

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

Stanley B&D Has Strong Sales

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

July 23, 2018

Building Materials Help Drive Retail Sales

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

Small Change In U.S. Building Permits

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

Hy-Lite Celebrates 30 Years Of Acrylic Blocks

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

U.S. Window, Door Market To Slow

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

McFarland Named Lowe’s EVP, Stores

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

Grainger Sales Rise

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

OHBA Conference Returns To Ottawa

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

July 20, 2018

New Housing Construction Investment Increases

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

Robust Outlook For U.S. Home Improvements

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

Quebec Home Sales Stay Strong

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

Holman Builds Up Technology Department

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

International Presentations Held At IDS Vancouver

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

ASSA ABLOY Sales Up Nine Per Cent

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

July 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise

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

U.S. Retail Sales Up Despite Trade War

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

NCI To Merge With Ply Gem

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

Intertape Acquires Polyair

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

Home Hardware’s Gabel Retires

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

July 18, 2018

June Home Sales Activity Improves

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

Beacon Acquires Atlas Supply

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

Spectrum Brands, HRG Group Complete Merger

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

SANIFLO Announces Cambridge Location

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

Barrault Joins TIMBER MART

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

July 17, 2018

Renoworks Opens Platform To Third Parties

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

Bullers To Acquire Superior Cabinets

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

GE Appliances Invests In Fridge Plant

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

Demand Continues For Outdoor Kitchen Equipment

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

July 16, 2018

Record Building Permits Issues In May

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

Amazon To Build Eighth Canadian Fulfillment Centre

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

Tafisa Launches Perfect Match HPL

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

Contest Helps SMEs Reduce GHG Emissions

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

Revenue Rises For Residential Lighting Controls

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

July 13, 2018

Flexible Structural Sheathing Claims Unsafe

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

Lowe’s Canada Bikes For Kids

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

Electric Screwdriver Sales To Remain Strong

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

Nguyen Promoted To Director Of Marketing

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

WD-40 Company Sales Rise

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

July 12, 2018

Jenkins: Don’t Limit Your Dreams

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

Tariffs Will Drive Up U.S. Prices

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

VELUX Launches Skylight Automation System

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

Stensson Announces Retirement

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

Fastenal Has Strong Quarter

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

July 11, 2018

June Housing Starts Trend Increases

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

Dodge Momentum Index Moves Higher in June

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

CertainTeed To Acquire Hunter Douglas’ Ceilings Business

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

AIR MILES Rolls Out More Online Shops

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

Lowe's Realigns Leadership Structure

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

Gilmoure Joins TIMBER MART

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

July 10, 2018

Montreal Residential Sales Remain Up

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

RONA Bois Turcotte Joins RONA eCommerce Program

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

CGC Roof Deck Earns FM Global Approval

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

Quebec City Bans Leaf Blowers

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

Wolseley Acquires AMRE Supply

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

July 9, 2018

Mental Health Issues Affecting Workplace

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

KOTT Joins Sexton Group

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

Kreitmaker Joins TORBSA

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

Barrette Acquires DuraLife

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

IKEA Opens Three Quebec Collection Points

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

Giant Tiger Opens Quebec Store

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

July 6, 2018

Home Hardware’s Davis Announces Retirement

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

Castle Gets Manitoba Member

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

Robertson Electric Re-opens Hamilton Branch

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

CTC Completes Helly Hansen Acquisition

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

Gil Parent Promoted At FCL

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

Canada Sales Strong For Richelieu

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

July 5, 2018

Housing Affordability Slides Back

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

CPCA Granted Tariff Exemption

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

Canadians Not Using Reward Points

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

AMVIC Employee Count Correction

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

July 4, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Converts Etobicoke RONA

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

Taiga To Acquire Exterior Wood

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

The Home Depot Outlines Sustainability Progress

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

Ehrlick Moves To CTDA

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

Industrial Safety Gloves Market Shows Growth

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

July 3, 2018

Kitchen Renovation Offers Greatest ROI     

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

Column Fridges On Trend

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

Taiga Distributes Huber Products

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

Pier 1 To Close 25 North American Stores

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

BB&B Earnings Slide

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

June 29, 2018

Fear Of Missing Out Drives Homebuyers

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

Global Decathlon Focuses On Sustainable Homes

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

Unifor Launches 'I Shop Canada' Campaign

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

Fire Protection Market Poised For Growth

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

June 28, 2018

Retail Sales Take A Dive

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

CFIB Fights For Fair Small Business Tax Rates

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

eBay Canada Launches Price Guarantee Program

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

Nova Scotians Eligible For Solar Rebates

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

ROCKWOOL Breaks Ground On WV Facility

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

Pratt Head Of National Plumbing Sales

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

June 27, 2018

Report Compares Ontario, BC Housing

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

Home Hardware Wins Fleet Safety Award

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

Torontonians Have Most Contractor Issues

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

mPOS Use To Increase Threefold

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

June 26, 2018

U.S. Home Sales Increase More Than Expected

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

Castle Announces Member-store Milestones

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

Ford Cancels GreenON Program

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

Home Hardware Holds Annual Golf Tournament For Charity

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

Snell Becoming GM

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

RCC To Discuss Cannabis In Retail

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

June 25, 2018

Retail Sales Drop In April

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

Castle Holds Cross-country Buying Expos

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

CFIB Lauds Montreal For Construction Compensation

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

Painting Increases Home Value

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

Think3 Acquires MyAlerts

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

June 22, 2018

April Wholesales Sales Remain Flat

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

BILD Sets Four-point Plan For Sustainable Housing

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

Quebec Stores Join Home Hardware

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

Groupe Martel To Acquire BMR Store

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

GE Appliances Canada Warns Of Rising Costs

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

Strong Growth For Ceiling Tiles Forecast

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

Castle Adds Business Development Manager

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

June 21, 2018

Independent Retailers Strong On Loyalty

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

May U.S. Construction Starts Climb 15 Per Cent

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

BMO Supports Women Business Owners

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

MVP Lighting Represents Liteline

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

DaVinci Roofscapes Products Earn CCMC Approval

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

PPG Makes Appointments

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

June 20, 2018

Consumers Want Quick & Personal Service

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

REP Joins Sexton Group

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

Lowe's Canada Donates To Kids Charities

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

Menards Ranks Highest Of U.S. Home Improvement Retailers

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

HDI Purchases U.S. Distribution Assets

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

Vaughan & Bushnell Acquires Dasco

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

June 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Slide

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

Policies Continue To Affect Housing Market

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

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

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

TASK TOOLS Celebrates 50 Years

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

Tom Bell Joins Sexton

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

Rashid Keynote Speaker At IDS Vancouver

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

June 18, 2018

Canadian Home Sales At Five-year Low      

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

NLBMDA Leads Move To Change Softwood Agreement

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

Home Depot To Invest In Supply Chain

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

MSI Launches AR Tool

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

WORX Launches Battery Giveaway

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

Quebec Launches Low Income Renovation Grant

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

June 15, 2018

Customer Satisfaction Results In Loyalty

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

May U.S. Retail Sales Climb

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

Taiga Supports Atlantic Canada

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

PowerHouse Launches Two Insulation Products

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

Cook’s Home Hardware Customer Wins Toyota Pickup

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

Mentrup To Lead KYOCERA SENCO

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

RH Has Record First Quarter

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

June 14, 2018

Committee Focuses On Bricks-and-mortar Businesses

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

Laurentian Store Joins Home Hardware

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

Stanley B&D Invests In Charging Technology

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

CanWel Completes U.S. Treating Plant Acquisition

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

Griffon Completes CornellCookson Acquisition

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

Dodic Joins Payments Canada

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

June 13, 2018

Payment Systems To Drive Online Spending

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

Knauf, USG Reach Agreement

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

Armstrong World Industries Acquires Plasterform, Inc.

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

Pien Joins LIXIL Americas

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

June 12, 2018

Retail ‘Shrink’ Shrinks Over Last Year

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

Structural Plywood, OSB Exempt From Ruling

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

RONA Dealer Walking To Fight ALS

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

Generac Closes Selmec Acquisition

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

Energizer, Spectrum File For Merger Review

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

Odom Has New Role

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

June 11, 2018

May Housing Starts Dip

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

RONA Hope Opens New Store

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

IKEA To Eliminate Single-use Plastics

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

Flexiti Acquires TDFS Portfolio

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

Kohltech Named Best Managed

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

IoT Events Takes Over Dx3

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

Michel To Lead JELD-WEN

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

June 8, 2018

Small Increase In Montreal Residential Sales

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

May Dodge Momentum Index Inches Up

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

Western Entrepreneurs With Disabilities Get Support

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

Giant Tiger Opens Rouyn-Noranda Store

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

FCL Makes Moves

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

First Quarter Sales Rise At Dollarama

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

June 7, 2018

Building Value Declines

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

Masonite Acquires Assa Abloy Wood Door Division

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

Retailers Need To Address Consumer Values

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

Steady Growth For Weather Resistant Barriers Through 2020

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

June 6, 2018

Castle Launching New Website

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

Lowe's Canada Offers Paymi Cashback Program

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

GMS Acquires WSB Titan

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

Management Changes At BB&B

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

Flat Revenue For HBC

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

June 5, 2018

AR Useful For Online, Operational Efficiencies

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

Lumber Liquidators Reaches 400 Stores

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

Foamed Plastic Drives Insulation Demand

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

Libman Tour Comes To Canada

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

RCC Names Retail Scholarship Recipients

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

Kazan Promoted To Corporate Communications Manager

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

June 4, 2018

Residential Investment Increases

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

Mobile Could Bridge Omnichannel Gaps

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

AZEK To Acquire Versatex

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

Andersen Expands Fibrex Facility

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

Rivers To Represent SIXINCH In Ontario

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

June 1, 2018

Homeowners Trim Spending On Renovations

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

Home Depot Canada Kicks Off Orange Door

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

Lowe’s Canada To Reduce Waste

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

Ply Gem Opens Quebec Distribution Branch

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

Schlagheck Joins Derby

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

Leon’s Sales Climb

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

May 31, 2018

First Quarter Retail Sales Mediocre

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

RONA Earns Mobile Award

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

Zion Joins TIMBER MART

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

Solid Growth Anticipated For Ceramic Tiles

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

Revenues Up For Walmart

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

May 30, 2018

Differentiation Key To Lee Valley Success

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

Wowing Customers More Critical

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

RCC Honours Retail’s Top Achievers

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

Wesfarmers To Divest Homebase

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

Tyson Named Customer Experience Officer

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

Strong Retail Revenues For Ace Hardware

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

May 29, 2018

New Housing Construction Rises

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

Sales Associates Key To Brand Loyalty

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

Lawson Opens Alberta DC

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

Chervon Facility Gets LEED Certification

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

McMullen Promoted At Liteline

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

Online Sales Lead Williams-Sonoma Growth

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

May 28, 2018

Orgill Earns ‘E’ Award

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

Retailers Coming Up With Differentiating Concepts

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

Outdoor Living To Propel Outdoor Lighting Demand

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

INVISTA To Invest In Texas Facility

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

Lowe’s Names New CEO

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

ROCKWOOL Has Strong First Quarter

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

May 25, 2018

Challenges Remain For New Home Market

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

CRAFTSMAN Now At Lowe’s Canada Banners

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

Renoworks Updates Visualizer Tool

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

Younger Consumers Say Loyalty Complex

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

May 24, 2018

Social Responsibility Bringing Back Trust

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

Residential Buildings Lead Construction Prices

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

U.S. Retail Sales Up 2.8 Per Cent

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

Fibre Cement Will Continue To Dominate Siding

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

MiTek Launches Planning App

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

Lowe's Earnings Grow

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

Brandl To Retire IHA Leadership

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

Innovation And Technology Covered At Seminar

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

May 23, 2018

Small Increase In Wholesale Sales

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

Lowe’s Canada Transforming South Edmonton RONA

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

Rubikloud Partners With Intel

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

Orangeville Wolseley Re-opens With HVAC/R

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

Hiring The Wrong Person Can Be Costly

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

Federal Government Invests In New Brunswick

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

CHICC Partners With AIR MILES

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

Roy Joins VersaPay

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

PFB Loss Shrinks

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

May 22, 2018

Retail Sales Continue Rise

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

New U.S. Construction Starts Pull Back

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

Ace Canada Welcomes Dégelis Store

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

Canadian Government Funding Consumer Research

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

Smith Leads FCL Building Solutions

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

Sales Increase For Hardwoods Distribution

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

May 18, 2018

Groupe BMR, Home Depot Honoured

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

Lowe’s Canada Opens First Vancouver Store

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

U.S. Builder Confidence Increases

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

More Retirees Purchasing Recreational Properties

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

Festool Roadshow Stops In Woodbridge

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

Income Rises While Continental Sales Down

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

May 17, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise

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

Lowe’s Canada Opens New Concept Reno-Depot

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

Roseburg Plant Fire Shuts Down Press Line

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

Outlook Strong For U.S. Home Renovation Professionals

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

Uniboard Invests In New TFL Press Line

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

SOFA Changes Name To TIDC

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

Acquisition Boosts Beacon Roofing Results

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

May 16, 2018

Home Depot Sales Rise

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

Groupe BMR Launches Show For Overseas Suppliers

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

Castle Celebrates 55 Years Of Success

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

Stress Test Impacts Home Sales

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

Smartphone Shopping Changing Retail

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

Home, Building Products Drive Griffon Revenues

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

Hydroponics Segment Slows Scotts Miracle-Gro Sales

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

May 15, 2018

Lowe’s Canada To Convert Calgary RONA

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

Shopify To Open First Bricks-and-mortar Location

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

Consumers Want Personalized Content

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

Visa, PayPal Extend Canadian Partnership

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

Henkel Acquiring JemPak

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

Amazon.com Sales Strong

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

Trex Sales Up 18 Per Cent

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

May 14, 2018

NAFTA Exit Would Cost U.S. Retailers

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

Canadian Tire To Acquire Workwear Brand

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

Small Business Not Utilizing Resources

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

Lowe’s Canada To Sponsor Soccer Club

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

JELD-WEN Sees Growth

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

Strong Sales For Foundation Building Materials

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

May 11, 2018

Canadian Tire Has Continued Momentum

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

Fourth Quarter Building Materials Margins Strong

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

Lowe’s Canada Opens 23rd Reno-Depot Store

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

Nicholson and Cates To Distribute JELD-WEN Panels

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

Arrow Fastener To Relaunch Brands

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

Nova Scotia Home Dealer Receives Award

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

Prices Drive Norbord Earnings

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

Taiga Has Double Digit Sales Increase

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

May 10, 2018

Ontario To Revoke Holiday Pay Calculation Rule

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

Building Permits Back Up

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

Castle Grows In Eastern Ontario

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

JELD-WEN Canada Wins Energy Award

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

SANIFLO Celebrates 30 Years In Canada

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

Poul Has New Role

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

Sales Climb For LP

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

Boise Cascade Income Rises

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

May 9, 2018

Housing Start Trend Stable

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

Groupe BMR Rolling Out Digital Shelf Edge System

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

Mississauga Resident Wins Home Hardware Toyota Giveaway

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

Kinnaird Earns Distinguished Retailer Award

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

Resolute Back In Black

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

Sales Climb At Huttig

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

May 8, 2018

Business Confidence Slides

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

U.S. Building Projects Increase

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

Gen Z Shoppers Like Instore Experiences

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

Giant Tiger Opens In Manitoba

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

KNIPEX Makes Changes

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

Sales Steady At Clorox

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

Masonite Sales Rise

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

May 7, 2018

Montreal Residential Sales Remain Strong

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

Local Stores Win Last Minute Purchases

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

Clopay To Acquire CornellCookson

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

Malone Named President

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

Lumber Liquidators Sales Rise

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

Simpson Manufacturing Sales Up

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

May 4, 2018

Davis Named Home Hardware President

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

Jenkins: Stand Up To Government Overspending

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

Crown Windows Joins Deceuninck

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

USG Board Authorizes Negotiations With Knauf

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

Armstrong First Quarter Sales Grow

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

Huttig Net Sales Grow

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

May 3, 2018

Home Depot Climbs Brand Trust Index

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

Predispositions Drive Consumer Decisions

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

Castle Launches Social Media Channels

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

Sherwin-Williams Launches Applicator Certification

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

Brault Enters Maritimes

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

May 2, 2018

Canadian Retail Sales Cooling Off

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

Canac Opens 27th Store

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

Resolute Invests In La Doré Facilities

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

Potential Homebuyers Face Many Obstacles

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

Nussey Joins Lightspeed

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

Spectrum Sales Rise Slightly

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

May 1, 2018

Walmart To Sell British Unit

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

Canadian Tire Launches Spring Outdoor Line

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

RONA Teams With Tagliani

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

Confidence Index Improves

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

WRLA Names Event Manager

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

April 30, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Celebrates 100th Ace Dealer Store

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

Coaldale Home Hardware Opens In New Location

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

Giant Tiger Opens Renfrew Location

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

Spectrum Makes Changes

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

3M Sales Increase

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

April 27, 2018

Wholesales Sales Slide

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

Kent Wants To Build In CapeBreton

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

Lee Family Honoured By RCC

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

West Fraser Earnings Rise

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

April 26, 2018

Investment Up In Non-residential Building Construction

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

Home Hardware Named Top Fleet Employer

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

March Quiet In GTA

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

PPG Expands Home Depot Selection

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

April 25, 2018

New Housing Construction Rise Continues

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

Lowe’s Canada Supports Housing For Autistic Adults

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

U.S. Existing Home Sales Climb

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

True Value Partners With Acon Investments 

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

Ferris To Lead West Fraser

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

Masco Has Strong Net Sales

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

April 24, 2018

Retail Sales See Minor Rise

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

Groupe BMR Launches Urban Concept Store

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

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

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

U.S. March Construction Starts Advance

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

Fewer Rules Around Colour Harmony Today

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

April 23, 2018

Renovation Materials Lead Retail Sales

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

Spending Strong To Start Year

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

IKEA Canada Greenest Employer

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

Harlam Joins HBC

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

PPG Has Increased Sales

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

April 20, 2018

Groupe Godin Returns TO RONA

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

 

IKEA Canada Opens Kingston Collection Point

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

Homeowners Spending More Time Outdoors

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

Wood Moulding Demand Sluggish To 2022

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

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April 19, 2018

Castle Gains Western Canada Member

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

GMREB Lauds Residential Support Program

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

Renoworks Creates Coronado Stone Visualizer Software

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

Demand For Metal Roofing On The Rise

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

UFPI Has Record First-quarter Sales

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

April 18, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Increase Slightly

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

Changes Needed To Keep Retail Competitive

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

North Bay Home Of Newest Member

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

Positive Home Sales In Montreal CMA

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

Duradek Launches Visualizer Tool

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

April 17, 2018

Quebec Residential Sales Increase

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

ECO Product Program Rolled Out

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

BMR Gets New Dealer

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

Structube Opens Ontario Megastore

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

Giant Tiger Opens In St. Thomas

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

2018 Structural Panel Production Remains Steady

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

April 16, 2018

March Home Sales Improve Slightly

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

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

Castle Holds AGM In San Diego

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

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

Spring Market Theme 'One Solution'

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

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

Lowe's Canada Raises Funds For Locker Room

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

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

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

Employers Offering Perks To Stand Out

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

April 13, 2018

Employers Working Hard To Recruit

Canadian employers are working harder and spending more to recruit and retain recent post-secondary graduates in an increasingly competitive labour market, says a report by Morneau S