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January 24, 2020

Uncertainty Lingers Among Business Leaders

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

Quebec Investors To Acquire Canam’s Canadian Operations

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

Uniboard Launches Exterior Panel

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

Resolute To Product Cellulose Filaments

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

Richelieu Sales Rise

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

January 23, 2020

November Wholesale Sales Decline

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

Castle Expands In Western Canada

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

Crispo Launches Rewards App For 100th Anniversary Celebration

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

BMR Group Launches Employer Brand Campaign

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

Sexton Group Makes Leadership Changes

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

January 22, 2020

Building Construction Investment Has Slight Increase

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

Manufacturing Sales Down

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

December U.S. Construction Starts Fall 21 Per Cent

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

LP And DUC To Continue Boreal Forest Management

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

Home Show Covers Family Inclusion

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

January 21, 2020

Moneris Partners With Bookmark

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

SMBs Still Not Meeting Consumer Needs

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

Red Rock Introduces Capped Screw

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

Lowe’s Cos. Launches Super Bowl Campaign

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

Robotic Mowers To Drive Mower Sales

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

January 20, 2020

U.S. Holiday Sales Up 4.1 Per Cent

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

U.S. Builder Confidence Edges Down

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

Bestar Acquires Bush Industries

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

TOUGHBUILT To Launch Hand Tool Products

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

Boise Cascade Makes Leadership Changes

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

Vending, Onsite Drive Fastenal Sales

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

January 17, 2020

Slight Gains Forecast For U.S. Renovation Spending

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

Beacon Roofing Rebrands

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

APA Publishes Updated Engineered Wood Guide

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

Trex Company Launches Composite Cladding

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

Glass For Windows And Doors Market To Grow

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

Craig Named CFO

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

January 16, 2020

Third Quarter Renovation Product Sales Strong

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

December Home Sales Inch Lower

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

Business Owners Will Keep Investing

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

Lowe’s, Wayfair Partner With Google Cloud

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

IKEA Canada Closes Pick-up Points

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

January 15, 2020

Digital Technology Will Transform Coatings Industry

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

Business Leaders Lack Plans To Build Trust

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

NL Retailer Named gia Winner

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

Nairn Named HBC President

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

BB&B Sales Slide

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

January 14, 2020

Shoppers Like To Research Online

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

Elastic Path Acquires Moltin

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

Thalberg Named Chief Brand And Marketing Officer

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

Weak Demand Affects Acuity Brands Sales

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

January 13, 2020

Retailers Must Adapt To Consumer Behaviour

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

Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Home Market

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

Nielsen Acquires Precima

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

Pinterest Partners With SmartCommerce

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

Revenue Down At Chase

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

January 10, 2020

December Housing Starts Trend Lower

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

November Building Permits Slide

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

Yale Home Introduces Smart Storage Products Line

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

Hamel Named Business Development Manager

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

WD-40 Has Slow Quarter

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

January 9, 2020

December Dodge Momentum Index Rises

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

Giant Tiger Will Open Two Ontario Locations

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

Orckestra Launches Digital Channel Solution

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

Orgill Shakes Up EVP Team

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

RPM Has Record Income

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

January 8, 2020

Spindle, Stairs & Railings Partners With Spindle Factory

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

FBM Closes Acquisition

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

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

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

PPG Appoints Leaders

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

Slow Sales Mean Pier 1 Will Shutter 450 Locations

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

January 7, 2020

One in Six Canadians To Return Holiday Gifts

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

Business Can Take Steps For Cybersecurity

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

Schneider Electric Launches Connected Home Suite

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

Weiser Releases Improved Halo Smart Lock

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

Structurlam Makes Changes

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

January 6, 2020

eCommerce To ‘Explode’ In 2020

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

Online Return Process Key To Web Conversion

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

NCR Acquires Zynstra

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

LG To Launch Indoor Gardening Appliance

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

Door Demand To Grow Through 2026

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

January 3, 2020

U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Grew 3.4 Per Cent

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

AAMA, IGMA Merge

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

Universal Forest Products Now UFP Industries

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

Smart Home Companies Form Certification Standards Group

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

Black To Head Payments Canada

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

January 2, 2020

2019 Retail Sales May Hit 10-year Low

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

November GTA New Home Market Busy

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

Concrete Use For Hardscaping On The Rise

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

Reduced EI Premium In Effect

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

Resolute To Acquire Three Conifex Sawmills

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

3P Sellers Drive Amazon Sales

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

December 23, 2019

Well Made Here To Launch Specialized Dealers Pilot

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

Winning Retailers Will Capitalize On Changing Behaviours

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

Structurlam To Open Arkansas Facility

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

Castle Presents Cheque To SickKids Foundation

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

Kasson Appointed CIO, AZEK

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

Home Goods Lead Overstock Sales

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

December 20, 2019

Wholesale Sales Slide

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

Quebec Dealer Joins Castle

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

Price Main Factor In Holiday Shopping

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

DAP Enhances Heavy Duty Adhesive

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

December 19, 2019

CREA Forecasts 2020 Housing Market Will Improve

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

Annual Wholesale Trade Up Nine Per Cent

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

CanFor Terminates Great Pacific Agreement

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

Lowe’s Canada Network Toy Drive Successful

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

Fuel Container Has Wheels

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

December 18, 2019

October Manufacturing Sales Slide

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

November U.S. Construction Starts Surge

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

BMF Acquires Solutions Training

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

U.S. Builder Confidence Ends Year Strong

U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased five points to 76 in December off an upwardly revised November reading, says the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since June of 1999. Builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the next six months, and traffic of prospective buyers all registered gains in December. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions rose seven points to 84, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months edged up one point to 79, and the measure charting traffic of prospective buyers increased four points to 58. NAHB says while there are near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, U.S. builders are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labour and land availability. As well, higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.

Orgill Makes Changes

Boyden Moore will be president and CEO of Orgill, Inc., effective January 1. He is currently president. He assumed his role as president last year after serving as Orgill’s general manager of retail and president of the company’s subsidiary Tyndale Advisors. Ron Beal will continue to be chairman of the board, but will step down from his current role as CEO. Long-term Orgill senior executive Byrne Whitehead will continue in his role as the board’s vice-chairman. Grady Gennings, vice-president, corporate accounts, and Mike Ferrell, vice-president, LBM sales and building products, will retire at the end of the year.

December 17, 2019

November Home Sales Edge Higher

Home sales inched up by 0.6 per cent November, says Statistics Canada. Notching its ninth straight monthly gain, activity stands 20 per cent above the six-year low reached in February, but six per cent to seven per cent below heights recorded in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined. Higher sales across much of British Columbia and in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) offset a decline in activity in Calgary, AB. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels in almost all of Canada's largest urban markets. The number of newly listed homes slid a further 2.7 per cent, however, putting them among the lowest levels posted in the past decade. November's decline was driven primarily by fewer new listings in the GTA. Slightly higher sales and a drop in new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 66.3 per cent, which is well above the long-term average of 53.7 per cent. If current trends continue, the balance between supply and demand makes further home price gains likely. Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.

Home Depot Invests In ‘One Home Depot’ Initiative

The Home Depot is investing roughly $11 billion from 2018 to 2020 to continue to build on its ‘One Home Depot’ initiative. The concept is to “extend its advantage” by driving sales productivity and deliver what customers expect. The money will be used in areas that the retailer considers its strengths – associates, stores, product and innovation, interconnected and digital experience, pro and services, and supply chain and delivery. Employees will benefit from resources such as enhanced paid parental leave and more training and development. Investment in stores will focus on improving the customer experience and driving productivity. Product and innovation investment will be geared towards improving visual merchandising and refining product assortments. For interconnected and digital experience, the investment will work on seamlessly blending channels of engagement. For the pro customers, Home Depot will invest in a portfolio of tools and services to drive engagement. In supply chain and delivery, the focus will be on leveraging the upstream competitive advantage to drive greater efficiencies. The retailer started the initiative two years ago and expects to see a 45 per cent return on invested capital (ROIC) by 2020.

Economists Expect Continued U.S. Economic Growth

Economists expect the U.S. economy to continue expanding next year while projecting real estate prices will rise and reiterating that a recession remains unlikely, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR) at its first ever ‘Real Estate Forecast Summit.’ These economists predict a 29 per cent probability of a recession in 2020 with forecasted gross domestic product (GDP) growth of two per cent in 2020 and 1.9 per cent in 2021. They also expect an annual unemployment rate of 3.7 per cent next year with a small rise to 3.9 per cent in 2021. The average annual 30-year fixed mortgage rates of 3.8 per cent and four per cent are expected for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Annual median home prices are forecast to increase by 3.6 per cent in 2020 and by 3.5 per cent in 2021. Annual commercial real estate prices will climb 3.6 per cent in 2020 and 3.4 per cent in 2021.

DEWALT Employees ‘Pay It Forward’

To share the giving spirit of the holidays, DEWALT Canada employees visited David’s No Frills in Mississauga, ON, on December 12 to make the season merrier for some lucky shoppers. Each of the employees randomly chose a customer in the checkout line and paid for their groceries. The selected customers also received a token gift from DEWALT and a card asking them to pay it forward by performing their own random acts of kindness. This was DEWALT’s third annual ‘Pay-It-Forward Day.’

Real View Launches 3D Design Software

Kitchen and bath design software creator Real View Inc. has launched 3D-Edge, a 3D technology providing HD quality in a fully interactive mode. ProKitchen 3D-Edge helps designers create detailed HD quality renderings in an interactive 3D viewer. Key features include real-time soft shadows and reflections, hundreds of light fixtures with illumination through semi-transparent glass, dynamic reflection in metallic surfaces, and sketch style renderings with contrasting depth. Users can also adjust the brightness level of all light sources in the whole room at once and toggle between colour and isometric rendering in the same view. It is available for Windows and Mac platforms.

Two Promoted At Emerson

Justin King has been promoted to vice-president of engineering with Emerson. He will lead the development and evolution of the entire professional tools line of pipe and electrical products, including RIDGID and Greenlee. He has been with the company since 2007. Rob Trefz has been promoted to vice-president of marketing. He will oversee all product management, product marketing, and marketing strategy. He has been with the company since 2004.

December 16, 2019

Solid Consumer Spending Drives U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales in November increased 0.1 per cent seasonally adjusted over October and were up 2.1 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, marking the first half of the holiday season with billions of dollars in shopping left to be done, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. “These numbers are more about the calendar than consumer confidence,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist. “Consumer spending has been solid and there’s still a lot of spending to be done. With strong employment and higher wages, we’re on track for a strong holiday season.” Online and other non-store sales were up 0.8 per cent month-over-month and 7.2 per cent year-over-year seasonally adjusted, while building materials and garden supply store sales were unchanged month-over-month and down 1.2 per cent year-over-year seasonally adjusted. NRF predicts that U.S. holiday retail sales during November and December will increase between 3.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent for a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

Lowe’s Canada Employees Play Santa

The mood was festive on December 13 at the Lowe’s Canada head office in Boucherville, QC, as ‘Opération Père Noël’ elves came to meet the company’s employees and pick up the mountain of presents destined for 596 underprivileged children, most of them living on Montreal’s South Shore. The annual campaign gives participants the chance to become Santa and brighten the holiday season of thousands of children across Quebec who would otherwise have no present to unwrap on the morning of December 25. This year, 382 employees at the Lowe’s Canada Boucherville and Longueuil, QC, offices chose to become the own personal Santa of one or more children. “People who choose to be a child’s Santa are giving far more than just presents. They also share some Christmas magic with a family,” says Normand Brault, co-founder of Opération Père Noël, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. “Every year, we push our limits to reach as many children as possible, and we couldn’t succeed without help from our valued partners. We are grateful to be able to count on the invaluable support and generosity of Lowe’s Canada and its team year after year.”

Consumers Increasing Decorative Concrete Use

The decorative concrete market size will surpass US$23.8 billion by 2026, says a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. The market will be driven by growing house remodeling and renovations expenditure due to an increasing average house age in developed nations. Homeowners will implement substantial upgrades to improve aesthetics of their homes while economic conditions improve, thereby driving the decorative concrete market growth. As well, homeowners are increasingly investing in new and durable materials to increase the durability and maximize the replacement time. Increasing emphasis on energy efficiency promotes decorative concrete adoption owing to high structural strength and efficient heat and cool transferring characteristics. The continuous consumer transition towards DIFM (do-it-for-me) for building structures and finishing is also positively influencing the industry size. The patios segment will register highest gains of seven per cent compound annual growth rate because of high usage of stamped concrete in outdoor spaces. Stamped concrete is available in multiple design patters and customizable options and preferred to enhance the visual appeal through personalized and conventional design patterns. Superior durability and weather resistance provided by epoxy patio coatings will further expand the product volume share.

Wybrow Named Ontario Sales Manager

Paul Wybrow is Ontario sales manager at Liteline Corporation. He joins the company with over 30 years of experience in the lighting industry.

December 13, 2019

Walmart Canada Developing Apps For Associates

Walmart Canada has a team of developers that work alongside store associates to develop apps to modernize how the associates work and solve business problems. This year alone the team launched more than 15 apps and features for associates. Associates' app usage is up over 75 per cent and the estimated 4.5 million app uses has driven efficiencies and gives associates more time to serve customers. Now, from the palm of their hands, associates can better manage their business, review important data, and receive or distribute communications. One such app is called PlanIT, where associates can see their store performance in sales, markdowns, inventory, and customer experience scores all in one location. Another, called Availability App, allows associates to review out of stock items and improve product availability while on the sales floor versus printing reports in the back office. Huddle Notes is a tool to gather all information to better communicate with store associates at all levels across all shifts. Associates are encouraged to provide reviews, make suggestions, and rate each app. This holiday season, Walmart is also offering Check Out With Me to provide a faster checkout experience for smaller purchases. An associate uses this app to scan merchandise and provide a mobile payment device.

U.S. Retailers See Increase In Organized Thefts

Organized retail crime affects almost all merchants and more than two-thirds of U.S. retailers surveyed have seen an increase in the past year, says the 15th annual organized retail crime (ORC) study by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The report says that 97 per cent of retailers have been victimized by ORC in the past year and that 68 per cent have seen an increase in ORC activity. Losses averaged $703,320 per $1 billion in sales, marking the fourth year in a row that the figure topped the $700,000 mark. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of retailers say ORC is a higher priority for their companies than five years ago, while 56 per cent are allocating additional technology resources to the issue and 44 per cent are increasing their loss prevention budgets. ORC can involve theft from stores, cargo, distribution centres, and in the form of stolen merchandise being returned for credit.

RBC Most Used Bank By SMBs

With a market share of 20 per cent, Royal Bank of Canada continues to be the most used bank by small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) while the smallest businesses, those with fewer than five employees, primarily bank with Scotiabank, says a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Since the last banking survey in 2015, RBC is the only ‘big five’ bank that gained ground. Scotiabank has maintained its status as the second most frequently used bank among small businesses in 2019 with 17 per cent market share. This is up by over 50 per cent since the year 2000. Credit unions more than tripled their market share since 1982 and have a market share of 12 per cent. Conversely, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) continues its decline, going from more than 20 per cent market share in 1982 to less than nine per cent in 2019. Bank of Montreal (BMO) has also been on the decline since 1997 and currently holds just over nine per cent market share. Institutions like Desjardins in Quebec and ATB Financial in Alberta beat out national competitors for the biggest market share in those markets.

ROCKWOOL Extends Agreement With AFA

Stone wool insulation manufacturer ROCKWOOL Group has extended its distribution agreement with AFA Forest Products (AFA). The original agreement included western Canada, the territories, and Ontario and the new agreement, which becomes effective March 1, also includes Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Goodfellow will remain the distributor of ROCKWOOL product in Quebec and Atlantic Canada until the agreement takes effect.

Washers Combat Odours

GE Appliances, a Haier company, has introduced the UltraFresh Front Load Washer, engineered to stay fresh and clean and prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria without the need to leave the door open after each load. The washer reduces bacteria by draining the residual water. It has a wider gasket that is angled to allow water to fully drain after the wash cycle. As well, the vent system with OdorBlock creates an airflow at the touch of a button. After the wash cycle, the unit pulls in and circulates fresh air, removing moisture from the door, gasket, and basket. The washer also utilizes Microban technology, an antimicrobial additive that helps prevent odours caused by microbes. The units also come in two new matte finishes – satin nickel and sapphire blue.

Sales Down For HBC

HBC had retail sales of $1.82 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over retail sales of $1.86 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Digital sales were up 15 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. Revenue was $1.84 billion compared to $1.89 billion in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $706 million compared to $744 million and gross profit margin was down 120 basis points to 38.3 per cent. The company had a net loss for continuing operations of $175 million compared to a net loss of $79 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA was down 32 per cent to $84 million.

December 12, 2019

Technology To Transition Construction Industry

The construction industry is in the middle of a transition toward new business models that are technology- and data-driven with better collaboration between stakeholders and higher productivity, says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The increasingly aging workforce and digitization are prompting greater investments in workforce management and digital solutions. By 2030, global spending in construction is expected to touch $17.5 trillion, with China, the U.S., and India leading the way and accounting for 57 per cent of all global growth. Technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud software, drones, and pre-fab construction will be leveraged to reduce cost and improve quality and speed of construction. As well, smart infrastructure technologies embedded with telematics, will influence the future of the industry by creating an intelligent and on-demand system that reduces operational costs and augments productivity. With greater adoption of technologies, industry participants can expect to find growth opportunities in developing building information modeling (BIM) systems; employing low-cost, sustainable building materials and autonomous construction equipment; using drones and wearables at construction sites; applying augmented/virtual/mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) in design and development; and productizing blockchain. Safety, a major concern in the industry, will also push the use case for automation in the industry. Autonomous machines, VR assistance, and wearable safety are key technologies that are expected to see increasing adoption in the industry.

Advent Calendar Offers Smart Home Prizes

Smart home device manufacturer Sinopé Technologies is holding a contest to win smart home devices. Until December 24, Sinopé’s Advent Calendar is filled with flash promos which provide a chance to win a grand prize up to a value of $1,130. Each door of the calendar contains a surprise and gives a chance to win the big contest. The grand prize, which will be drawn on January 6, includes one Gateway, four smart thermostats for electric heating, two smart dimmers, two smart switches, one water damage protection kit, two smart plugs, and two smart in-wall outlets. All products are compatible with Google Home, Alexa, and SmartThings.

Rev-A-Shelf Launches Website

Rev-A-Shelf has launched its upgraded website. The company says the site is the customer’s destination for everything about cabinet organization. It is designed to simplify the search for organization products for the kitchen, bathroom, or closet. Consumers have a variety of search options, such as cabinet openings, size, colour, material, and product type.

Pinterest Releases Home Trends For 2020

The home has become the hub of life, says Pinterest in its 100 trends for 2020. But homes are more than just a place for family now, with people implementing offices and gyms and even waterfalls. Trends, based on users’ posts, include garden rooms and indoor herb gardens, granny pods, audio rooms, and home brewing areas. Images of indoor water fountains have increased by 917 per cent over last year while home theatre images are up 368 per cent. People are also still hot on coffee stations, with images up 751 per cent over last year. Conscious consumption is also on people’s minds, with low-waste living and thrifted home décor trending on the site. As well, consumers are turning to international trends for decorating with Spanish bathrooms, Indian living rooms, French antiques, Japanese tubs, and Australian landscaping images on the rise on Pinterest.

Collapsible Yard Cart Reduces Heavy Lifting

Allsop Home and Garden’s WheelEasy is a collapsible yard cart. Available in original and lightweight (LE) versions, this product is ideal for yard work ranging from collecting weeds to spreading bark to moving boulders. The handles can be dropped to the ground to get ground-level loading, so heavy lifting is not necessary. Users can rake, shovel, slide, roll, or drag items into the canvas barrel. The only lifting is lifting the handles from the ground. The cart, however, has a low centre of gravity design so it carries most of the load. It has a capacity of 350 pounds and is made from a powder-coated steel frame with heavy duty vinyl-coated denier nylon.

December 11, 2019

Housing Starts Trend Essentially Unchanged

The trend in housing starts was 219,047 units in November, compared to 218,253 units in October, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 201,318 units, a slight increase of 0.3 per cent from 200,674 units in October. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 0.4 per cent while multiple urban starts increased by 2.3 per cent. Single-detached urban starts decreased by 5.1 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,759 units. New Brunswick had the highest increase in housing starts at 61 per cent compared to November 2018. Prince Edward Island was the lowest with a decrease of 54 per cent year-over-year.

Women Entrepreneurs More Likely To Get Loans

Women entrepreneurs who apply for business loans may fare better than they expect, says a survey by Scotiabank. The survey says that women entrepreneurs lag men entrepreneurs in applying for business loans, but are more likely to have the loan application approved. Women entrepreneurs are more likely to employ capital from personal savings, personal lines of credit, and family and friends, rather than business sources. In contrast, they are less likely to reinvest cash flow and to apply for a business line of credit or term loan compared to men entrepreneurs. They also rate their overall level of financial knowledge lower than men entrepreneurs – only 45 per cent of women participants perceived themselves to be 'knowledgeable' or 'very knowledgeable' compared to 58 per cent of men. In response, Scotiabank will expand its ‘Scotiabank Women Initiative’ for its capital markets clients. The Scotiabank Women Initiative for Global Banking and Markets is a tailored, comprehensive program in support of women clients and those who stand behind an inclusion agenda.

Gift Cards The New 'It' Gift

Canadians are happy to receive gift cards as a holiday gift (84 per cent) and most (70 per cent) consider them a thoughtful gift, says Rakuten.ca in its annual holiday survey. This makes it a win-win for gift-givers, the majority of whom (83 per cent) say that gift cards greatly simplify their holiday gift shopping. The survey says Canadians are strategic when it comes to using their gift cards. Almost half plan to save their gift cards for the new year as a post-holiday pick-me-up. Another 45 per cent will likely use it to purchase a gift for someone else. This ‘re-gifting’ is most prevalent among younger shoppers, with 55 per cent of those under 35 stating they've used their gift cards to purchase gifts, as opposed to only a third for those 45 or older. With the holidays closing in, many Canadian shoppers are not done checking everything off their list just yet. While nearly two-thirds of Canadians have already begun their holiday shopping this year, 33 per cent say they'll likely wrap up their shopping "in the nick of time before the holidays hit." And, another 30 per cent say the majority of their holiday shopping happens last minute.

Falcon Equipment Partners With Palfinger

Falcon Equipment Ltd. has partnered with Palfinger AG to provide sales, rentals, service, and parts support for all Palfinger products throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Falcon is no longer the official distributor for Hiab. However, it will continue to work with the marketplace insuring support for all makes and models of cranes and truck equipment. As of December 11, Falcon will be selling and supporting the Palfinger product line which includes knuckleboom cranes, material handling cranes, aerial lift trucks, hooklifts, and truck-mounted forklifts.

Arrow Fastener Tools Featured On Competition Series

Arrow Fastener Company’s glue guns, nailers, and staple guns were used in season two of the NBC crafting competition series ‘Making It.’ Hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, the second season aired on NBC during December, with the two-hour finale scheduled for December 11. Among the tools used on the show are the GT300 PRO high temperature glue gun and the 5700 PowerShot Forward Action Staple Gun and Nailer.

December 10, 2019

Quebec Offsets Declines In Building Permits

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 1.5 per cent to $8.3 billion in October, says Statistics Canada. Declines were reported in five provinces, with the largest decrease in British Columbia (21.2 per cent to $1.3 billion). Quebec offset some of this decline, with the value of building permits in that province rising 12.3 per cent to $1.7 billion. The total value of residential permits fell below $5 billion in October for the first time since March 2019. The value of permits declined for both single (2.9 per cent) and multi-family (3.4 per cent) dwellings. The value of institutional permits rose 24.9 per cent to $765 million, largely due to gains in Manitoba ($79 million) and Ontario ($72 million). The value of commercial permits decreased 5.3 per cent to $2 billion. Gains were reported in eight provinces, led by Quebec ($161 million), but this was not enough to offset a sizeable decline in British Columbia ($317 million). Industrial permits decreased 1.1 per cent to $604 million. Of note, Manitoba had gains in all categories of permits in October, with the total value increasing 74.3 per cent to a record high of $438 million. This increase was largely attributable to high value permits issued in Winnipeg.

Home Depot Launches Tagline

The Home Depot has introduced a new slogan - ‘How doers get more done.’ The tagline reflects that the retailer’s customers are doers, says the company. “They like to get their hands dirty, test new skills, and build stuff. And for the last 40 years, the Home Depot has been building capabilities to help them get more done, as their needs have evolved.” In 2017, the company introduced its ‘One Home Depot’ strategic plans to create a seamless, convenient shopping experience across its stores and online. “We’ve made tremendous progress and we believe the time is right to showcase these capabilities. It’s time for our tagline to change to match today’s Home Depot,” it says.

November Dodge Momentum Index Increases

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 2.9 per cent higher in November to 155.3 from the revised October reading of 150.9. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for U.S. non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The increase in November was the result of a 6.5 per cent increase in the institutional component, while the commercial component moved 0.7 per cent higher. The overall index has staged somewhat of a resurgence over the last few months increasing nearly 15 per cent from its lowest point earlier in the year. In fact, it is currently flirting with a new cyclical high. The month-to-month planning data continues to be lumpy in nature as the presence or absence of large projects leads to greater volatility. Nevertheless, the underlying trend continues to suggest that construction activity in 2020 will not crater but will moderately ease relative to this year’s level.

Owning Home Pipedream For Millennials

Soaring house prices and rising personal debt are making it impossible for many Millennials, even those with good paying jobs, to ever afford a home, says a poll by KPMG in Canada. While almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of Millennials say their goal is to own a home, almost half (46 per cent) say home ownership is a pipedream. Owning a home in Vancouver, BC, or Toronto, ON, is even more unlikely, says the poll. Forty-six per cent of the demographic are fortunate to receive a financial boost from their parents in order to buy a home. As the most educated generation, Millennials have incurred high levels of student debt and those who have been able to enter the housing market have taken on larger mortgages relative to their incomes than those who came before them. However, while Millennials have higher incomes than previous cohorts, in part because of their higher educations, they are not necessarily better off, the poll says. Debt-to-income ratio is a key financial indicator and, for young Millennials, that now stands at 216 per cent, far exceeding the 125 per cent for Gen-Xers and 80 per cent for Baby Boomers at the same age – primarily because of mortgage debt. Wage growth has also been slower than expected.

Cabinets Now Available In Solid Colours

Elias Woodwork has expanded its five-piece laminate (polyester) product offerings with the introduction of 10 colours including, for the first time, solid colour options. Polyester laminate finishes look like real wood with a textured 3D appearance of wood grain. The appearance is further enhanced with a perpendicular grain direction stile and rail construction. The five-piece laminate (polyester) products use environmentally friendly NEXGEN laminates that offer an antibacterial surface and are formaldehyde free with no emissions. The company is also introducing a new door style to its gallery. The Quantum door features the 4982 door frame profile and 4981 drawer front profile. This Quantum style is available in Southwester, Froth of Sea, Latitude East, Summer Drops, and White Chocolate polyester colours.

December 9, 2019

Canadians Rapidly Adopting Digital Payments

Technology and payments innovation are transforming the way Canadian consumers and businesses make payments, says Payments Canada’s annual ‘Canadian Payments Methods and Trends report.’ In pursuit of more convenient, faster, and secure payment experiences, Canadians are rapidly adopting newer digital channels, such as contactless (tapping card or mobile), eCommerce, mobile, and online transfers, in favour of more traditional ‘paper and coin’ payments. The report says electronic payments accounted for 73 per cent of total payments volume (number of overall payment transactions) and 59 per cent of total payments value (the combined monetary value of total transactions). Cash payments declined 40 per cent in volume over the last five years. Contactless payments grew 30 per cent year-over-year from 2017 to 2018 with debit representing almost 60 per cent of their volume. Debit is often viewed as a convenient substitute for cash. In fact, debit card use overtook cash for the first time in recent years.

TIMBER MART Signs Third Dealer This Quarter

Building material dealer, Miller TIMBER MART is the third dealer in eastern Ontario to sign on with TIMBER MART this quarter. Located in Eganville, ON, Miller TIMBER MART will adopt the banner and says it looks forward to reaping the benefits of the group’s dealer-centric culture. The building supply dealer opened its doors in 1960 and, since then, has expanded its business with new product assortments, services, and staff. Owned by Dean Felhaber, who also owns pine lumber manufacturing business, Ben Hokum and Son Limited, Miller TIMBER MART is a full-service building material dealer that offers customers a wide range of lumber and building materials as well as a complete line of hardware. The business serves a mix of contractor customers, DIYers, and consumers in the Ottawa Valley and operates on a property that includes six storage buildings and a 6,000-square-foot retail space.

Yardi Marketplace Now Available In Canada

Yardi Marketplace, an online store for maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) supplies, is now available in Canada. Yardi Marketplace is a component of the Yardi Procure to Pay Suite which consolidates office and building supply procurement, invoice processing, vendor management, and payments into a single connected solution. Yardi Marketplace is free to Yardi PAYscan clients. The marketplace allows customers to purchase with online catalogs that offer real-time availability and pricing. They system also accommodates in-store purchases from Acklands-Grainger, HD Supply, Veritiv, and other suppliers. The site will offer more than one million MRO products.

RH Has Strong Third Quarter

RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) had net revenues of $677.5 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.4 per cent over net revenues of $636.6 million in the third quarter of 2018. Operating income was $89.2 million for the quarter, up 111 per cent over $42.2 million in the year-ago period. Operating margin increased 660 basis points to 12.2 per cent over 6.6 per cent last year. Net income increased 161 per cent to $52.5 million versus $20.1 million last year. Increases were affected by lower tax rate and eliminating unproductive product categories and fringe promotions.

December 6, 2019

Canadian Growth To Continue Amid Uncertainty

Canada's economic outlook for 2020 is improving slightly as a result of growth in the real estate market, residential investment, and household consumption, although a number of factors that contributed to the 2019 slowdown remain, says Pierre Cléroux, vice-president, research and chief economist at BDC. In BDC’s ‘2020 Economic Outlook,’ he says these conditions should translate into a growth rate of about 1.7 per cent for the Canadian economy in 2020. Canadian households are the engine that are powering the economy, says Cléroux. Households have finally adapted to restrictive provincial policies, the introduction of the stress test, and interest rates. Part of the rebound in household investment is due to labour market strength. Unemployment rates have reached historic lows in multiple provinces and, although many businesses are struggling with a lack of employees, labour shortages are driving up wages. As well, mortgage rates began to fall mid-year after over a year of stable interest rates. Cléroux says the Bank of Canada will likely be reluctant to cut rates considering that a decline could worsen the financial situation of households. 2020 should be marked by a recovery in the real estate market, residential investment, and household consumption. British Columbia and Quebec will continue to lead the pack, while the biggest improvement is expected in the Prairies after a rather difficult 2019. The Maritime provinces should continue to post positive growth as a result of population increases, particularly in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Walmart Canada Opens eCommerce Fulfillment Facility

Walmart Canada have opened a dedicated and purpose-built distribution centre (DC) in Mississauga, ON. At approximately 450,000 square feet, the DC is the main facility dedicated to fulfilling Walmart Canada's online orders. It was designed to be a flexible, scalable solution for logistics and fulfillment that is part of Walmart's strategy to continue growing its eCommerce business in Canada. The retailer sought SCI Canada’s support to develop a customized supply chain solution that streamlines operations. The facility maximizes storage through a four-level, 70,000-square-foot pick platform for storing and picking smaller items and pallet racking for larger and higher volume items. It is equipped with intelligence software that provides real-time visibility to operations and is fully integrated with SCI's warehouse management system. It boasts automation that improves capacity and uses conveyors to transport materials to one of five zones on each level and complete pick totes to a put-wall area from both the platform and pallet racks.

Ace Agassiz Builders’ Opens Bigger Store

Lowe’s Canada affiliate store Ace Agassiz Builders’ Ltd. Has officially inaugurated its new building in Agassiz, BC. Located a kilometre from the previous site, the TeBrinke family, who own the business, has invested $1.8 million to build the location that is almost three times the size of its predecessor. The store boasts 4,750 square feet of retail space with an 800-square-foot adjacent garden centre, a 5,000-square-foot indoor lumberyard in a separate building, and a 23,000-square-foot outdoor lumberyard. Local customers now have access to additional categories such as outdoor equipment and seasonal products. The retailer also offers a wider assortment in existing categories such as tools, plumbing, lighting, and paint. The TeBrinke family is planning an official grand opening in the spring. In the meantime, they are looking to add even more features to their store, such as an appliance department and eCommerce capabilities.

Velux Group Makes Organizational Changes

The VELUX Group, a Danish-based company, has created Group North America, a single operation management team for North America. The group will oversee residential, commercial, and production operations. Timothy B. Miller will be chief executive officer of the group. He is currently president of VELUX America, LLC. Chuck Rimsky will be president of VELUX Greenwood, LLC. He is currently director of product development. Stephan Moyon will be president of VELUX America, LLC, the U.S. sales and marketing company. All organizational changes will be effective January 1. There will be no structural changes to VELUX Canada Inc.

December 5, 2019

Vancouver Home Buying Activity Returns To Typical Levels

After a quieter first half of 2019, home buyer activity has returned to more historically typical levels in metro Vancouver, BC, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Home sales in the region totalled 2,498 in November, a 55.3 per cent increase from the 1,608 sales recorded in November 2018, and a 12.6 per cent decline from the 2,858 homes sold in October 2019. Last month’s sales were four per cent above the 10-year November sales average. There were 2,987 detached, attached, and apartment homes newly listed for sale for the month. This represents a 13.7 per cent decrease compared to November 2018 and a 26.7 per cent decrease compared to October 2019. Sales of detached homes reached 825, a 59.9 per cent increase from last year. Attached home sales totalled 451, a 59.9 per cent increase.

Preparing For Tax Returns Now Can Mean Savings

Canadian private business owners can reduce balance owing and increase refund potential by preparing for tax returns now instead of April, says EY Canada. “Tax rules evolve every year, and it's important for private business owners to know how these changes will affect their private company,” says Ken Kyriacou, tax partner, private client services. “Planning now for 2020 taxes may seem a little premature but, it can mean the difference between big savings or bigger disappointments. Getting a head-start can minimize the income tax you pay on 2019 tax returns.” EY suggests Canadian private business owners consider these questions to identify savings opportunities on their 2019 tax bill and beyond: Are there any income-splitting techniques available to you? Do you hold passive income? Do you income-split your private company business earnings with adult family members? Did you conduct training? and Have you thought about estate planning? For more information, visit EY Canada Tax Matters

Diablo Launches Hammer Bit Line

Diablo has launched a full-range of SDS-Plus and SDS-Max Rebar Demon four-cutter, full carbide head hammer bits for concrete with rebar applications. These bits are designed for drilling fast, precise holes without the need of changing to a rebar cutter to drill concrete with rebar, delivering savings in time and money. Produced with ‘Tri-Metal Diffusion Bonding’ technology, the full-carbide head resists heat and prevents breakage. The bits’ precision tips deliver stability and accuracy required to produce holes in concrete with rebar for ANSI-approved anchor setting. All Diablo hammer bits feature Dura-Carbide, which withstands heavy impact and high-heat applications, extending life versus standard bits. The bits also feature a four-flute design for speed, providing faster dust removal, less wear, cleaner holes, and faster drilling. Diablo hammer bits work best with corded and cordless SDS Plus and SDS Max rotary hammers.

Kuepfer Named Director, Communications

Jessica Kuepfer is director, communications at Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, she was marketing manager, public relations. She has been with the company for almost six years.

Strong Sales For Dollarama

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $947.6 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 9.6 per cent compared to sales of $864.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable store sales grew 5.3 per cent in the quarter compared to last year. Gross margin was 43.7 per cent of sales compared to 44.3 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings increased to $138.6 million compared to $132.1 million in the year-ago period.

December 4, 2019

Business Leaders Uncertain About Economic Outlook

Optimism and pessimism about the economy are running neck and neck, says a survey by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Optimism about the Canadian economy over the next 12 months is at 28 per cent among professional accountants in leadership positions. Meanwhile, another 28 per cent report feeling pessimistic. The largest group took no position, with 44 per cent reporting neither optimism nor pessimism. Optimism among business leaders is down from the second quarter of the year when it was at 31 per cent, while pessimism is up from 24 per cent. The survey was carried out shortly after the recent federal election; worth noting is that 10 per cent of Canadian business leaders say having a minority government is the top challenge to economic growth in this country. However, a minority government only rates fifth on the list of worries, trailing general uncertainty around the Canadian economy (15 per cent), U.S. protectionism, the state of the U.S. economy, and the lack of skilled workers (all three tied at 11 per cent). The survey also says that almost half of respondents (48 per cent) are optimistic about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months, with 18 per cent being pessimistic and 33 per cent neutral. When assessing the next year, 66 per cent predict their businesses will see increased revenues, 59 per cent are foreseeing increased profits, and 45 per cent anticipate an increase in employee numbers.

Peter Kohler Passes Away

Peter Kohler, founder of Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems, passed away December 3 at his winter home in Florida. He was 77 years old. Kohler founded Kohler Windows, now Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems, almost 40 years ago with four employees and built one of the most respected window and door brands in Canada. He devoted his life to the window and door industry and won many awards for his accomplishments both regionally and nationally. He retired in 2010 after selling the company to his management team. Kohltech will announce funeral and memorial arrangements as they become available.

Vinyl To Dominate Window Sales

Global demand for windows is forecast to increase 4.5 per cent per year to $138 billion in 2023, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Vinyl windows are projected to account for the fastest growth in value terms, spurred by cost and performance advantages of PVC products, rising income levels, and more stringent energy efficiency requirements, which support purchases of higher quality, costlier products. Metal windows will, however, continue to account for the leading share of window sales, buoyed by their prevalence in non-residential buildings and multifamily housing units, where the material’s durability and low maintenance requirements are favoured. Wood is projected to continue losing market share and will post the weakest performance among material types through 2023 as the penetration rate of vinyl and fibreglass windows continues to increase throughout the world.

ToughBuilt Finds Success With Amazon Storefronts

Construction tool and accessory manufacturer ToughBuilt Industries, Inc. had sales over $1.8 million in the initial seven months of operation in its U.S. and Canadian Amazon storefronts. This is an annualized run rate of $3.5 million, which is 40 per cent higher than the run rate ToughBuilt announced in May. The company says these sales were achieved with a gradual increase of product offerings to the storefronts, with products also being sold throughout Europe, Australia, and other international destinations.

December 3, 2019

Retailers Not Utilizing AI, ML

Only 10 per cent of retail businesses are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), says the ‘State of SMB Finance’ report by ScaleFactor. The report says that small- to mid-size retail businesses are hiring employees, but avoiding technology adoption and implementation. In fact, retail businesses are the most reluctant to implement AI or machine learning (ML) solutions into their workflow, with just 10 per cent adopting and 40 per cent indicating they are not interested in this technology. Despite disinterest, 44 per cent of retail businesses say they do not find the process of implementing AI or ML challenging, the highest of all industries. For those that do implement technology solutions, 85 per cent of small businesses report it is utilized primarily for bookkeeping. Additionally, retail businesses report the highest tech usage for financial forecasting purposes, with almost double the amount of technology implementation versus other industries.

Growth Forecast For Mineral Wool Insulation Market

Demand for mineral wool insulation is expected to rise 3.6 per cent annually through 2023 to 1.6 million pounds valued at $755 million, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Demand growth will be the fastest of any material type due to increasingly stringent fire safety codes, which mineral wool is better able to accommodate than other materials; its cost effectiveness relative to several more widely used materials; and rising interest in installing acoustic insulation in the interior of residential homes and in new hospitals, offices, high rises, and educational facilities. In the residential market, mineral wool insulation demand will be driven by the need to meet fire safety codes in single-family residences and high-rise apartment buildings, as well as the increased use of loose fill product forms in attic applications. Further boosting demand will be rising shipments of industrial and HVAC equipment, where mineral wool is commonly specified because of the importance of fire safety in these applications.

AZEK Announces 2020 Product Lineup

AZEK Building Products will release a lineup of products for 2020 in its TimberTech AZEK, TimberTech PRO, and TimberTech EDGE decking lines. The TimberTech Multi-Width Decking is now available in two 7.25-inch wide width boards in the Harvest Collection in Brownstone and Slate Grey. MAX boards are also available in TimberTech AZEK in a 1.5-inch thickness in two greys - Coastline from the Vintage Collection and Slate Grey from the Harvest Collection. Additionally, the TimberTech PRO Decking line has added the Reserve Collection which features four colours and a natural, matte finish. The TimberTech EDGE Decking line now includes the new Prime+ Collection that has two blended colours with a tight, straight-grain embossing pattern. The boards feature a scalloped profile.

Construction Segment Leads Deere Sales

Deere & Company had net income of $722 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of eight per cent compared to net income of $785 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net sales were $9.9 billion, up five per cent compared to $9.4 billion in the year-ago period. The agriculture and turf segment had a three per cent increase in net sales year-over-year; the equipment operations segment had a four per cent increase in net sales; and construction and forestry had an eight per cent increase in net sales.

December 2, 2019

‘Showrooming’ Major Problem

‘Showrooming’ – when shoppers visit local businesses to try out or learn about a product, but then buy it from a big box store or online competitor – is a major problem for independent merchants heading into the busy holiday season, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In fact, 60 per cent of independent retailers say they have experienced showrooming, with a third of those saying it's having a significant impact on their business. "When customers go into independent stores to ask questions or try on merchandise and then take a picture or write down a model number so they can buy the item online, they might not be aware that they're not just taking away a sale, they're taking money away from their neighbourhoods. These are the shops that support local kids' hockey teams or donate to the community foodbank every Christmas," says Dan Kelly, CFIB's president. "They care about their customers and want to help and share their expertise, but their rent, their property taxes, and their employees need to be paid. Ultimately, when consumers take up the time of local retailers, but spend their money elsewhere, it's our communities that suffer." Shoppers aged 18 to 34 were more likely than older consumers to showroom shop, with three out of four admitting to having done it

Retail Sales Stumble Along

Canadian retail sales growth just keeps stumbling along slowly, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total retail sales gained just 1.5 per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter, a smidgen above the 1.4 per cent second quarter gain, but a drop from the 1.8 per cent increase in the first quarter of the year. After nine months of 2019, Canadian retail sales are up only 1.6 per cent compared to a year ago. That doesn't even cover price inflation and population growth. The underlying 12-month trend continues to dwindle and could end the year at an increase of about 1.5 per cent, which would make 2019 the slowest growth year since the Great Recession of 2009. Building material and garden equipment and supplies merchants were up 5.4 per cent in the quarter, which is a significant recovery from the 0.9 per cent gain for the first half of the year. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 31.4 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending September 2019. This was much higher than for location based retail which gained just 1.5 per cent.

Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Fridge Market

The global smart refrigerator market was valued at US$322.41 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $1,008.91 million by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 per cent over the forecast period, says a report from Brandessence Market Research. Smart refrigerators detect the type of items stored within and, using barcodes and RFID systems, keep track of details like expiration dates for food. They can connect with smartphones and provide information and even let owners know if the door was left open. Samsung last year launched a smart fridge that can recognize voices and provide personalized information. Increasing urbanization, disposable income, and rising adoption of smart devices is driving the market. As well, increasing technological advancements like wireless connectivity through smart phones and other smart devices is expected to positively impact the growth of the global smart refrigerator market. However, high cost is the hindering factor of the smart refrigerator market.

Texting Could Provide Competitive Advantage

Sixty-nine per cent of consumers across all age groups would like to be able to contact a business via text and 54 per cent are frustrated when they are unable to do so, says a report by EZ Texting, a provider of SMS marketing software for business. Overwhelmingly, businesses are unaware of consumers' communication preferences, with 54 per cent of consumers wanting to receive text promotions, but only 11 per cent of businesses delivering them. This means 89 per cent of businesses miss the opportunity to connect with consumers the way they want to be communicated with. Similarly, 83 per cent of consumers would like to receive appointment reminders via text, but less than 20 per cent of businesses utilize text to communicate. Additionally, despite the fact that consumers are 4.5 times more likely to respond to a text message than an eMail, businesses are still three times more likely to communicate with customers via eMail. This means that communicating with consumers via their preferred method – texting – can provide businesses with a competitive advantage. Those businesses that do use texting are seeing this already with 86 per cent reporting that texting offers higher engagement than eMail.

November 29, 2019

Physical Stores Reign Supreme For Holiday Shopping

Two-thirds of Canadian consumers plan to visit physical stores for their holiday shopping this year, 57 per cent plan to seek out online retailers, and over 30 per cent will shop both online and in-store, says a survey from JLL, a professional services firm. Twenty per cent of shoppers will pick up online orders at physical stores. Mobile continues to gain momentum as a shopping and research channel with almost 90 per cent of shoppers using their device during the shopping process. Yet, the survey shows that more than one-third of shoppers will get gift ideas by browsing in-store while 21 per cent will browse online only. The consensus among Canadians is that saving money is the most important shopping factor, followed by avoiding the hassle and crowds. On average, Canadians plan to spend $425 on gifts, while early shoppers will attribute a higher budget of $500 for their holiday spending. Shoppers will also shop at thrift and consignment stores and donate to charities this season.

Regal ideas Receives Industry Awards From NADRA

Regal ideas Inc., in partnership with Dr Decks and Neighborhood Fence and Decks, has received a number of awards at the ‘10th Annual North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) National Deck Competition.’ Regal ideas received first place for its Limitless Creations in partnership with Dr Decks; first place for its Alternative Deck in partnership with Dr Decks; second place for a manufacturer product in partnership with Dr Decks; third place for Illumination in partnership with Dr Decks; and third place for its Closed Porch in partnership with Neighborhood Fence and Decks. Andrew Pantelides, vice-president of marketing and business development for Regal ideas, was also recognized by NADRA for his commitments and involvement to growing the association. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the competition. It is open to members in Canada and the U.S.

Robust Growth Forecast For Modular And Prefabricated Buildings

Growth opportunities in the global modular and prefabricated buildings market look robust over the next six years, says a report from Frost & Sullivan. A global uptick in construction activities and significant cost, labour, and time savings in offsite construction are key factors driving market revenues toward $215 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.3 per cent from 2018 to 2025. With a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, adopting more environmentally sustainable and regulatory-compliant construction practices will boost prospects and revenues in the more mature market in North America. “Despite increased construction costs from an off-site construction, a net saving of up to seven per cent is possible because of shortened construction periods,” says Prathmesh Limaye, senior analyst, chemicals and materials in infrastructure and mobility. “In addition, prefabricated buildings are increasingly being perceived as sustainable solutions for construction projects due to a growing usage of materials such as timber and aluminum composites that are more energy efficient than concrete.”

Renoworks Reports Loss

Renoworks Software Inc., a visualizer for the home remodeling and new home construction industry, had quarterly revenues of $1.06 million for the three months ended September 30, compared to $1.08 in 2018. Net loss for the fiscal quarter was $219,941 versus a profit of $61,292 during the same quarter a year ago. Design service revenues increased by 26 per cent to $389,691, compared to $308,899 for the same period last year, and 39 per cent of the third quarter's revenue in 2019 is attributable to annual recurring customer contracts.

November 28, 2019

Recovery In BC Quicker Than Anticipated

The housing market in British Columbia is forecast to see a recovery that is “much quicker than anticipated,” says a ‘BC Resale Market Housing Outlook.’ It says increases of 13 per cent and four per cent in province-wide resale transactions can be expected in 2020 and 2021, respectively, reaching 85,475 units, following the seven per cent decline experienced in 2019. This will still be below the high of nearly 100,000 units recorded in 2017. The reversal in trends can be attributed to steep mortgage rate declines combined with continued population growth, especially in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Housing starts will reach 44,000 units in 2019, but many of these units were pre-sold prior to the downturn when market conditions were stronger. As pre-sales were sluggish throughout 2019, developers will be extra cautious. Project construction will be delayed in 2020 onwards and condo starts will likely be curtailed in 2020.

SMEs Optimistic For Future Growth

From economic uncertainty to geopolitical issues, the business landscape in Canada can present unique challenges for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, SMEs are optimistic about their potential for future growth despite external pressures from fierce market competition, changing customer demands, and disruptive technologies, says the third annual ‘American Express SME Pulse Survey.’ Not surprisingly, most SMEs, both in Canada and globally, say that driving revenue growth is their primary long term-objective. An overwhelming majority of Canadian SMEs expect to generate at least 75 per cent of that revenue through domestic sales. Today’s SMEs are adapting to meet ever-changing customer expectations and understand there is tremendous opportunity in being transparent when providing products and services that are ethically and sustainably sourced. As well, more than half plan to increase their use of technology and tools to collect and better analyze customer data. The report says technology will remain an area of continued focus for the over-whelming majority of SMEs, who say that applying the latest technology will continue to remain a key business challenge they plan to work hardest to address over the next three years.

ARW Truck Rolling Out Across Western Canada

ARW Truck Equipment Ltd. is expanding its service area to cover all of Saskatchewan, as well as northeast and southeast British Columbia. The company will service the Fort St. John, BC, area through its established ARW Truck facility in Grande Prairie, AB. In Saskatchewan, ARW has partnered with Cervus Equipment to be the authorized parts and service provider through their locations in Saskatoon and Regina. ARW Truck has been the exclusive factory-authorized sales and service dealer in Alberta for HIAB cranes, Moffett forklifts, and Multilift hooklifts since 1997.

Single Family Sales Fall

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly fell in October following recent strong gains, but the overall housing market remains supported by lower mortgage rates, says the Commerce Department. New home sales dropped 0.7 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000 units last month, held down by decreases in activity in the south and northeast regions. Sales surged 31.6 per cent from a year ago.

Canfor Announces Further Curtailments

Canfor Corporation will be curtailing operations at all British Columbia sawmills at the end of December. All sawmills, with the exception of WynnWood, will be curtailed for two weeks from December 23 through January 3, with operations resuming on January 6. WynnWood will be curtailed for five days. The curtailments are due to the high cost of fibre and continued weak lumber markets, which are making the operating conditions in British Columbia uneconomic.

55 Countries At Show

March 1 to 4, 2020, Cologne will once again become the meeting point for the international hardware industry. For four days, around 2,800 suppliers from more than 55 countries will present tools, products from the industrial supply, fasteners and fixings, fittings, and home improvement segments at EISENWARENMESSE - International Hardware Fair Cologne. The product offering of the exhibitors is complemented by an extensive and diverse event program that offers themes and occasions for communication that move the industry. For information, visit EISENWARENMESSE

November 27, 2019

Wholesale Trade Offsets August Decline

Wholesale trade rose one per cent to $65.1 billion in September, almost entirely offsetting the 1.2 per cent decline in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in five of seven subsectors, representing 82 per cent of total wholesale sales. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.9 per cent and in the third quarter, sales increased 0.8 per cent, the 14th consecutive quarterly increase. Quarterly sales increased in four of seven subsectors. Wholesale sales rose in nine provinces in September, representing 98 per cent of the total wholesale sales. Sales in Quebec recorded the largest increase in September, up 2.5 per cent to $12.2 billion following a decline of 2.2 per cent in August. The only province where sales declined in September was Manitoba which saw a 1.4 per cent decrease, the second consecutive decline. Wholesale inventories decreased 0.7 per cent to $92.3 billion in September, the second consecutive monthly decline.

Morin Bros. Join TIMBER MART

TIMBER MART will welcome a new commercial dealer, Morin Bros. Building Supplies Inc., on January 1, 2020. Located in Ottawa, ON, Morin Bros. Building Supplies was opened in March of 1986 by the three brothers - Claude, Daniel, and Gérald Morin. It offers a wide product assortment that includes gypsum, light steel framing, insulation, acoustical and speciality ceilings, doors and frames, wall coatings, and hardware. The business serves a mix of contractor customers from residential to commercial/institutional builders. “A number of American-based businesses are buying into our Canadian market share and we felt we needed to join forces with TIMBER MART to be better recognized by manufacturers and truly compete,” says Gérald Morin, part-owner of Morin Bros. Building Supplies. “We look forward to benefitting from the group’s buying power and their many other services that will sustain our growth in Ontario and amidst fierce U.S. competition.”

Home Sales Rebound From Near-Record Low

Single-family home sales, with 1,296 detached, linked and semi-detached houses, and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up 178 per cent from last October’s near-record low and even with the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, the official source for new home market intelligence for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Sales of condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings; stacked townhouses; and loft units, accounted for 3,424 new home sales, down three per cent from October 2018, but still 13 per cent above the 10-year average. “Pent-up demand is gradually being released, aided by favourable mortgage rates and some increase in the availability of single-family product that is affordable to a broader range of buyers,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, data solutions. With a number of new projects coming to market in October, remaining inventory increased from the previous month to 19,718 units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings. “Based on population projections, it is clear that the demand for housing in the GTA is not going away,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO.

More Canadians Shop Online For Christmas

Forty per cent of Canadians say they are more likely to shop online for holiday gifts this year compared to last year. Among those shopping online, time saving (62 per cent), better stock and selection (59 per cent), and the ability to shop in peace without interaction with others (35 per cent) were identified as the top three reasons for shopping online instead of in-store, says the ‘2019 FedEx Holiday Shopping Survey.’ "There is an undeniable trend in Canada and globally toward a dramatic uptick in consumers' use of eCommerce. Canadians shop online versus in-store more than ever before with data showing that Canadians are 56 per cent more likely to shop online compared to just five years ago," says Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada. However, with a rise in online shopping people also worry about package theft. Of those surveyed, 68 per cent were concerned about the threat of package theft and 29 per cent have experienced package theft in the past. It also found that 22 per cent of Canadian Gen Zs avoid online shopping as they are scared they will inevitably buy too much. This is more than triple the number of Boomers (seven per cent) with that same concern.

Walmart Expands Chinese Footprint

Walmart plans to open 500 new stores in China over the next five to seven years. That would more than double its footprint in China, which is expected to become the world's biggest grocery market by 2023. The expansion comes as China's huge economy is cooling. The country is grappling with slumping growth and a prolonged trade war with the United States. China's GDP growth dropped last quarter to its lowest level in nearly three decades and Beijing has been rolling out stimulus measures to jump start the economy. Chinese consumers, however, are still spending and that's been good news for Walmart. Its China sales grew 6.3 per cent last quarter compared to the same period last year, much higher than its 2.5 per cent growth worldwide.

Regal ideas Launches Pro Deck Builder Network

Regal ideas has launched DeckStars, a pro deck builder network. The program offers tools, training, and networking opportunities to deck builders and contractors across North America. “DeckStars now completes our turn-key merchandising, marketing, and go-to-market programs that connect consumers to certified installers and authorized dealers,” says Joe Jacklin, director of marketing and contractor development, who was brought on to lead the program. DeckStars.com offers program features, training dates, and locations. The consumer sections of the site will launch in early 2020 and feature local certified ‘DeckStars’ in Canada and the U.S.

Beacon Sales Up 4.9 Per Cent

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had net sales of $2.03 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 4.9 per cent over net sales of $1.94 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Consolidated residential roofing product sales increased 12.7 per cent, consolidated non-residential roofing product sales increased 2.4 per cent, and consolidated complementary product sales decreased 3.2 per cent compared to the prior-year period. Net income was $27.4 million, compared to $48.3 million in 2018 while adjusted net income was $82 million compared to $84.1 million in 2018. Gross profit was $493 million compared to $491 million a year ago.

November 26, 2019

Building Construction Investment Rises

Total investment in building construction rose one per cent from August to $15.6 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. Investment was up for both the residential - 1.2 per cent to $10.8 billion and non-residential +0.4 per cent to $4.9 billion - sectors. Total investment grew 2.4 per cent from the second to the third quarter. Investment in the residential sector was up in five provinces in September, led by Ontario and Quebec. Nationally, investment in the single (1.4 per cent) and multi-unit (1.1 per cent) dwellings increased compared with August. In the non-residential sector, the commercial component increased 0.7 per cent with Quebec posting the largest increase. Nationally, the industrial and institutional components were largely unchanged. Investment in residential new construction was largely unchanged year over year at $16.6 billion in the third quarter.

BC Expands Secondary Suite Options

The British Columbia government is changing its building code to expand options for secondary suites in multi-family buildings. The change will give local governments the choice to allow secondary suites in side-by-side multi-family buildings such as duplexes, townhouses, and row housing. The changes do not apply to apartment-style buildings where units are above or below each other. The goal is to create more affordable housing, while ensuring buildings in BC meet health, safety, and energy-efficiency standards. Size restrictions for secondary suites are also being removed from the provincial building code which applies throughout BC except for some federal lands and the city of Vancouver. Secondary suites represent about two-thirds of all rental housing in the province. It will be up to municipalities to decide whether to embrace the changes and amend zoning and development bylaws to allow the secondary suites.

U.S. Construction In Good Health Overall

For the third quarter of 2019, the ‘Marcum Commercial Construction Index’ finds the U.S. industry in overall good health as 2020 approaches. However, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ identifies some causes for concern. On the positive side, the index points to increased public construction spending, growing backlogs, falling input prices, the ongoing U.S. economic expansion, a strong construction labour market, and interest rate cuts as key factors sustaining the construction industry’s momentum. For example, there was a 1.5 per cent increase in public construction spending in September and a 6.6 per cent increase year-over-year. In contrast, the report identifies several factors related to construction employment putting downward pressures on the industry. These include the continued lack of qualified construction workers to fill a historic high level of available construction jobs, which in turn is driving labour costs and producer prices higher. For the ugly, it identifies debt levels – corporate, governmental, and consumer – have risen massively due to the low interest rate environment and continued economic confidence. But while businesses have begun to slow their spending, consumers haven’t, which will translate into slower job growth and higher consumer exposure

Climate, ROI On Minds Of Homeowners

Coping with climate extremes, getting creative, and achieving better, longer-lasting performance that adds more ROI for the home improvement dollar are all top of mind for Canadian and U.S. homeowners this year, says the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA). In its 2020 trends forecast, MRA says strength of the home exterior to prepare for climate extremes will be on top of homeowners’ minds. Delicate detailing is out, while the use of heartier exterior features that offer an almost ‘fortress-like’ feel and are meant to show off a home’s rugged resiliency are more popular than ever. Net Zero homes will also be important to homeowners next year. These homes are those deemed so energy efficient, they produce as much renewable energy as they consume. For roofs, homeowners will use bold colours. Metal is the second most popular roofing choice and those that choose metal are going with colourful colours that call attention to roofs rather than camouflage them. Natural light via skylights will also remain a major selling point for homes. With their ability to capture up to 30 per cent more light than standard windows, skylights help brighten up spaces that feel dark or cramped.

Heavy-duty Cabinet System Provides Garage Storage

Proslat’s Fusion Pro Series Cabinets provide storage and organization for the garage. They are manufactured from 19-gauge steel and feature heavy-duty drawers with mat liners. The dual wall doors have soft-close, zero clearance hinges and have ergonomically designed anodized handles. They are available in a blue satin finish with matching doors and drawers. The base unit consists of an extra large tool chest which can be mounted on feet for stationary storage or fitted with casters and handles to make it mobile. The cabinet system also features a work surface – a traditional stationary workbench or a mobile workstation.

Slight Sales Increase For ROCKWOOL

ROCKWOOL had sales of €706 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 0.9 per cent over sales in the third quarter of 2018. EBIT was €100 million for the quarter, an increase of 2.8 per cent year-over-year, and EBIT margin was 14.1 per cent, up 0.1 per cent. Annualized return on invested capital reached 21.8 per cent compared to 22.8 per cent last year, a decrease of one per cent due to higher invested capital. The company’s insulation and system segments performed well in the North American market.

November 25, 2019

LBM Sales Above Industry Average

Retail sales decreased for the first time in three months, edging down 0.1 per cent to $51.6 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. The decline came from lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales rose 0.7 per cent. Rounding out the third quarter, retail sales were up 0.5 per cent, following a 1.1 per cent increase in the second quarter. In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.5 per cent in the third quarter. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 3.3 per cent. Sales were up at home centres which typically sell building materials, hardware, paint, wallpaper, and related supplies. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.9 billion in September, accounting for 3.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 34.6 per cent.

BC RONA Showroom Opens Doors

RONA dealer-owners Russ and Tess Jones have opened the RONA Appliance & Design Showroom by Coast Builders in Gibsons, BC. The Jones, who also own two other RONA locations in Madeira Park and Sechelt, BC, acquired the Gibsons Sears store in 2017 and started an extensive renovation process to convert the space into a unique design destination. The 5,000-square-foot store offers supplies for kitchen and bathroom renovations including appliances, cabinets, lighting, and design services. The store also features three connected shipping containers to highlight seasonal, patio, and outdoor power equipment products.

Most Canadians Will Shop For Deals On Black Friday

Just under 95 per cent of Canadian consumers plan to shop for Black Friday deals this year, compared to 79 per cent in 2017, says a survey by RedFlagDeals.com. Only 4.1 per cent intend to go to the U.S. to shop on Black Friday, compared to 15.5 per cent in 2016. Seventy-four per cent do research in online forums before they head out to the physical stores. However, 67 per cent of Canadian consumers plan to do most of their shopping online. Interestingly, almost 60 per cent of consumers think the best deals of the year will be on Black Friday, compared to 17 per cent who say Boxing Day will have the best deals.

Juggling Responsibilities Top Challenge For Managers

Trying to manage a team while taking care of other responsibilities is the top challenge facing managers today, says a survey by SoapBox, a provider of management apps. Other challenges they must cope with include hitting team goals, getting people to collaborate with one another, and retaining employees. The survey says most managers feel the most important part of their role as a manager is keeping the team on track to achieve goals. This is followed by providing direct reports with growth and development opportunities and removing blockers from their team. Interestingly, remote managers find retaining employees six times more challenging than on-site employees. To accomplish their responsibilities and goals, 94 per cent of managers have one-on-one meetings with their team with 41 per cent using personal productivity tools for meetings and 21 per cent using purpose-built one-on-one and team meeting software.

Ace Hardware Has Record Quarter

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.53 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 7.2 per cent versus revenues of $1.43 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Net income was $60.5 million for the quarter, an increase of 66.7 per cent from last year. Same-store sales increased 3.4 per cent year-over-year, the average transaction size increased 2.4 per cent, and online sales increased 81 per cent. Wholesale revenues increased 4.7 per cent year-over-year with power tools, grilling products, and outdoor power equipment showing the largest gains. Paint was the only department with a decrease compared to the year-ago quarter. Retail revenues increased 47 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Gross profit was $183.3 million, an increase of $16.1 million from the third quarter of 2018.

November 22, 2019

Manufacturing Sales Edge Down

Manufacturing sales edged down 0.2 per cent in September to $57.4 billion, following a 0.8 per cent increase in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 10 of 21 industries, representing 62.2 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales in the petroleum and coal product and the motor vehicle parts industries accounted for the majority of the decrease; however, these decreases were largely offset by increases in the machinery and motor vehicle industries. Sales were down in seven provinces for the month, led by Alberta. British Colombia reported the largest increase. Inventory levels declined 0.8 per cent to $88 billion in September, following two months of increases and were down in 11 of 21 industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.54 in August to 1.53 in September, mostly due to lower inventories of durable goods. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

TIMBER MART Gets Kingston Member

Kingston, ON-based Cornerstone Building Supplies has joined TIMBER MART. “TIMBER MART has the credibility, brand image, and buying power we need to succeed in Kingston’s competitive market,” says Mason Laframboise, owner of Cornerstone Building Supplies. “We look forward to seizing all of the opportunities available to us as a member and continuing to grow our business.” The store opened in 2018 and since then has grown its product assortment to include windows, doors, flooring, tile, cabinets, electrical products, lumber, hardware, and common building supplies. The business has a 7,500-square-foot retail space, a large warehouse, and a yard. It focuses on selling high-end building projects and packages. Cornerstone is currently undergoing renovations which are expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

Kitchen, Bathroom Remain Top Renovations

Eight in 10 U.S. homeowners have renovated a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room in the last two years, and 60 per cent have specific plans to do more in the next two years, says a survey by U.S. online fixture retailer Hausera. Homeowners spent an average of $12,800 for their kitchen renovation, $11,100 for their bathroom, and $10,800 for their laundry room. Adapting to a lifestyle change, such as a changing family size or accommodations due to a disability or aging, was the biggest reason for a renovation. Other reasons to renovate include improving the functionality of a space and increasing property value before selling. Green and smart products continue to gain popularity, with energy efficient lighting systems and smart lighting systems the most popular products. Wish lists also include hands-free faucets and Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators. Among homeowners who completed renovations during the last two years, staying on budget and finding the right professionals were cited as the top challenges. Seventy per cent of homeowners have hired a design/build professional and 60 per cent have hired an interior designer for their kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room renovation.

L.J. Smith To Launch ‘Deck Your Stairs’ Photo Contest

L.J. Smith Stair Systems will hold its ‘2019 Deck Your Stairs Photo Contest’ from December 1 to 15. The online Facebook contest invites people to submit images of ways they’ve decorated their indoor stair system for the holidays. People may enter one time and include up to five photos of their own decorated stairway. The contest is open to residents of Canada and the U.S. Four winners will each win $100 cash prizes. For more information, visit L.J. Smith

Lowe's Third Quarter Sales Decrease

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net sales of $17.39 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over net sales of $17.41 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings for the quarter were $1 billion, up from $629 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were impacted by $53 million in non-cash pre-tax charges for a strategic review of its Canadian operations. Gross margin was $5.64 billion compared to $5.38 billion a year ago. The company had improved performance in departments which have historically underperformed – paint, millwork, and décor. Categories that performed above the company average included tools, lawn and garden, appliances, and hardware.

November 21, 2019

Lowe’s Canada Restructuring Operations, Closing 34 Stores

Lowe’s Canada is closing 34 stores and “simplifying multiple store banners” as part of a reorganization effort to improve performance and better position it for the future. The retailer will close 26 RONA stores, six Lowe’s stores, and two Réno-Dépôt stores across the country. It will also reorganize its corporate support structure and rationalize its product assortment. “Closing underperforming stores is a necessary step in our plan to ensure the long-term stability and growth of our Canadian business,” says Tony Cioffi, interim president. “We are taking decisive action to build a healthy business which will provide us with the flexibility to reinvest in our future growth. This includes having a clear strategy for our banners, built on the strength of our Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot brands. It also means investing in our omnichannel and supply chain capabilities, our web platforms, and our existing corporate stores and affiliated dealer network.” Lowe's Canada will continue serving customers from markets affected by the closures via other corporate and affiliated dealer stores from its network, as well as its online offering and parcel delivery service. The closures will take effect in January and February.

Harsh Canadian Winter Forecast

The snow and cold that has arrived early across much of Canada are preview of the harsh winter ahead, says the Weather Network in its ‘Winter Forecast.’ British Columbia is expected to have near seasonal temperatures and snowfall in the interior and temperatures should be above normal near the coastline and across the north. Residents of the Prairies can expect a long and frigid winter, with the coldest weather across Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta will see periods of mild weather which could come close to offsetting the bouts of severe cold. A cold winter is expected in Ontario and Quebec, especially across northern Ontario. An active storm track will likely bring above normal snow totals to much of the region, along with a risk for ice at times, especially across the south. A delayed start to spring is also anticipated. In Atlantic Canada, an inconsistent start to winter is expected, but this region will still see an abundance of winter weather with near to above normal snowfall totals. Southern and eastern coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland will see periods of milder weather at times with a higher potential for rain and ice. A delayed start to spring is expected for the entire region. In northern Canada, a typical winter is expected with near normal temperatures and snowfall. However, periods of milder weather at times across western areas should tip this region to the mild side of normal.

U.S. Construction Starts Fall

New U.S. construction starts declined 11 per cent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $696.3 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. This is the third consecutive monthly drop in U.S. construction starts activity. By major sector, non-residential building starts fell 20 per cent from September to October and non-building starts dropped 14 per cent, while residential starts moved two per cent lower. The October statistics pushed the index down to 147 compared to 166 in September. In residential building, single family housing starts were seven per cent lower, while multifamily starts increased 14 per cent over the month. Through the first 10 months of the year, residential construction starts were six per cent lower than in the same period of 2018. Single family starts were down three per cent, while multifamily declined 12 per cent year-to-date.

Showers Reign In Master Bathroom Remodels

Master bathrooms are making extra space for showers, says the ‘2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.’ Four in five U.S. homeowners upgrade their shower during master bathroom renovations (83 per cent) and over half increase their shower size (54 per cent). This is particularly notable when considering that only 22 per cent expand their master bathroom square footage during renovations. For many master bathroom renovators, shower expansion alleviates the pre-project pet peeve of a small shower or having an outdated space. In addition, a quarter of renovating homeowners remove their master tub and more than four in five of those choose to enlarge the shower in its place (84 per cent). Among those who added or replaced their bathtub, popularity of freestanding flat-bottom tubs grew from 41 per cent in 2017 to 50 per cent in 2019. Accent walls are also increasing in popularity in bathrooms both inside and outside the shower. Renovators are using patterns, different surface materials, colour, and textures as the differentiator on the accent wall. Custom medicine cabinets are also increasing in popularity.

Saint-Gobain To Acquire Continental

Saint-Gobain plans to acquire Continental Building Products. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies. Saint-Gobain says Continental is a geographic complement to its North American operations, good positioning in growth regions in the east and south-east of the U.S., and strong profitability. The acquisition will broaden Saint-Gobain’s asset portfolio and enhance its ability to provide a wider customer base with innovative solutions. The combination will also allow Continental customers to benefit from an enriched product portfolio supported by Saint-Gobain’s global R&D and product development infrastructure. As well, the combination will creates opportunity for cost synergies and performance improvements. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2020.

Jacklin Named Director Of Marketing

Joe Jacklin is director of marketing and contractor development, a newly-created role at Regal Ideas. He has almost 30 years of industry experience, notably in marketing at Home Hardware Stores Limited.

November 20, 2019

Home Depot Sales Up 3.5 Per Cent

The Home Depot had sales of $27.2 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared to sales of $26.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 3.6 per cent and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 3.8 per cent year-over-year. Canadian comparable sales were also positive and online sales grew approximately 22 per cent over the previous year period. Net earnings were $2.8 billion, down 3.4 per cent compared with net earnings of $2.9 billion in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $9.4 billion, up 2.6 per cent over gross profit of $9.2 billion. Drivers for professional sales included fasteners, pneumatics, concrete, and insulation and drivers for the DIY segment included patio furniture, exterior stains and paint, soils, and live goods.

U.S. Retail Sales Up Over Last Year

U.S. retail sales in October increased 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted over September and were up 4.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. October’s results make up for most of the 0.3 per cent month-over-month decline seen in September and build on September’s year-over-year increase of 4.1 per cent. As of October, the three-month moving average was up 4.3 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.7 per cent in September. Online and other non-store sales were up 14.6 per cent year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.6 per cent year-over-year and building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.2 per cent.

Self-checkout Technologies Gaining Traction

Self-checkout technologies are gaining traction in retail stores with 40 per cent of shoppers using these solutions within the last six months and 86 per cent saying they are comfortable with the technology, says Zebra Technologies Corporation in its ‘12th annual Global Shopper Study.’ Furthermore, most shoppers (58 per cent) – especially Millennials (70 per cent) – agree that self-checkout provides an improved customer experience. The majority of store associates (54 per cent) say staffed checkout areas are less necessary with new technology that automates the process. Most retail executives (87 per cent) believe self-checkout frees up store associates to better serve customers and 81 per cent say they’re starting to see a return on their investment. Retailers are also trying to improve the in-store experience through the use of robotics. Only seven per cent of shoppers have interacted with a robot in a retail environment in the last six months, but nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) say they are comfortable with them while 32 per cent of associates report concerns about being replaced by one.

Budget Blinds Now Offers Hunter Douglas Products

Budget Blinds franchises throughout Canada now offer Hunter Douglas products. The 74 Budget Blinds franchises are eligible to join the Hunter Douglas aligned dealer program and add its products to their consultation and installation services. Franchisees now have access to hundreds of products including sheers, shades, blinds, shutters, and motorized and other operating systems.

Skanska Creates Carbon Calculating Tool

Skanska USA, alongside the Carbon Leadership Forum and partners in industry, has created the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, a solution for calculating and evaluating the carbon emissions embodied within a wide array of building materials. Traditional assessments of a building’s emissions and life-cycle costs focus primarily on energy efficiency or the operational carbon of a structure. Until now, due to lack of data or data too complex to evaluate, few tools or benchmarks were available to facilitate awareness of the embodied carbon opportunity which is to reduce the carbon footprint of a structure even before it is made operational. EC3 enables the building industry to easily access and view material carbon emissions data, allowing them to make carbon smart choices during material specifications and procurement.

November 19, 2019

Retail Bucks Business Insolvency Trend

The slowing Canadian economy has resulted in the first year-over-year increase in business insolvencies in almost two decades, says data by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). The number of businesses that failed in the past 12 months to September was up 4.1 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. On an industry level, mining, oil, and gas extraction as well as the information and cultural industries were the main drivers of the rise in corporate insolvencies. Both sectors experienced an increase in business insolvency filings of over 40 per cent. The finance and insurance (27.6); professional, scientific, technical services (20.6 per cent), and real estate, rental, and leasing (14.7 per cent) sectors also experienced significant challenges. A few sectors, such as retail trade with 5.8 per cent fewer bankruptcies. Increases were greatest in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia while Saskatchewan was the only province to experience a decline over the past 12 months but, for the past three months, realized a 14.9 per cent increase compared to the same quarter last year. OSB says the number of consumer insolvencies is also increasing, up 8.5 per cent compared to last year.

Black Friday Shopping Gaining Popularity

The traditionally American retail holiday of Black Friday is continuing to gain popularity in Canada and has become the most popular shopping event among Canadians, says the Retail Council of Canada in its second annual ‘Holiday Shopping Survey.’ Forty-three per cent of Canadian consumers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, compared to 40 per cent last year. In contrast, 34 per cent plan to shop on Boxing Day. The study confirms that Black Friday isn't a passing trend in Canada. In fact, Canadians who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to spend a greater share of their 2019 holiday budget on Black Friday (38 per cent of holiday budget) compared with those who shop on Boxing Day (30 per cent of holiday budget). Consumers still like shopping in physical stores as well, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets to be spent in-store with the remaining 28 per cent to be spent online. Possible reasons include a majority of Canadians agree that finding the right gift can be challenging (67 per cent) and they prefer to shop in-person so they can see and touch the products (65 per cent). When it comes to price, however, 36 per cent believe they get better deals online than in-store during the holidays. Not surprisingly, more than two in five Canadians (44 per cent) say Cyber Monday deals are better online, while a similar amount (40 per cent) think Boxing Day deals are better in-store.

Walmart Canada Launches Blockchain Freight Network

Walmart Canada and DLT Labs have launched a blockchain-based freight and payment network. The system uses distributed ledger technology to track deliveries, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliation among Walmart Canada and its carriers, which deliver inventory to over 400 retail stores across Canada annually. All Walmart Canada's third-party carriers are scheduled to be live by February 2020. The solution is accessible using a web portal and mobile application. The network manages, integrates, and synchronizes all the supply chain and logistics data in real time, aggregating the data between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party trucks on a shared ledger. It also automates the myriad necessary calculations enabling real-time invoicing, payments, and settlement. It integrates with each company's legacy systems so organizations can continue to follow their existing processes without retraining or investment in technology.

Henkel Opens Technical Centre of Excellence

Henkel Adhesive Technologies has opened a technical centre of excellence for flexible packaging adhesives and coating applications in New Jersey, NY. Focused primarily on Loctite adhesive and coatings, the facility includes labs for evaluation, design, and testing, full-scale equipment, and state-of-the-art customer training facilities to support the needs of converters and brand owners. With packaging being a critical element in expanded shelf life and food safety, and increasingly important for sustainability, Henkel is investing in delivering innovative solutions to meet the ever-increasing demand driven by consumers and retailers.

Weyerhaeuser Completes Timberlands Divesture

Weyerhaeuser Company has completed the sale of its Michigan timberlands to Lyme Great Lakes Holding LLC, an affiliate of the Lyme Timber Company LP. The transaction, which was announced in September, includes 555,000 acres of timberlands in northern Michigan. "This transaction is part of our ongoing effort to strategically optimize our timberlands portfolio," says Devin W. Stockfish, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser.

November 18, 2019

Canadian Home Sales Hold Steady

National home sales were unchanged from September to October, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). This follows a string of monthly increases that began in March. Activity is now almost 20 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019, but remains seven per cent below heights reached in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined. Higher sales in Greater Vancouver, BC; Fraser Valley, BC; and Ottawa, ON, offset a monthly decline in activity in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) and Hamilton-Burlington, ON. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity rose 12.9 per cent year-over-year. As well, the number of newly-listed homes fell by 1.8 per cent in October, with the GTA and Ottawa posting the largest declines. Almost a third of all housing markets posted a monthly decline of at least five per cent, while about a fifth of all markets posted a monthly increase of at least five per cent. Steady sales and fewer new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 63.7 per cent. This measure has been increasingly rising above its long-term average of 53.6 per cent. Its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers; however, the national measure continues to mask significant regional variations.

Black Friday Shopping Gaining Popularity

The traditionally American retail holiday of Black Friday is continuing to gain popularity in Canada and has become the most popular shopping event among Canadians, says the Retail Council of Canada in its second annual ‘Holiday Shopping Survey.’ Forty-three per cent of Canadian consumers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, compared to 40 per cent last year. In contrast, 34 per cent plan to shop on Boxing Day. The study confirms that Black Friday isn't a passing trend in Canada. In fact, Canadians who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to spend a greater share of their 2019 holiday budget on Black Friday (38 per cent of holiday budget) compared with those who shop on Boxing Day (30 per cent of holiday budget). Consumers still like shopping in physical stores as well, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets to be spent in-store with the remaining 28 per cent to be spent online. One possible reason is that a majority of Canadians agree that finding the right gift can be challenging (67 per cent) and they prefer to shop in-person so they can see and touch the products (65 per cent). When it comes to price, however, 36 per cent believe they get better deals online than in-store during the holidays. Not surprisingly, more than two in five Canadians (44 per cent) say Cyber Monday deals are better online, while a similar amount (40 per cent) think Boxing Day deals are better in-store.

Lowe’s Canada Network Stores Honoured

Three Lowe’s Canada network stores received ‘2019 Outstanding Retailer Awards.’ Lowe’s Crowfoot was named ‘best large surface retailer’ for showing how great things can be accomplished by working together. RONA Gatineau (La Plateau) received the Marc Robichaud ‘community leader’ award for its commitment to social engagement. Ace Victory Building Centre received the ‘industry spirit’ award. This award was presented to a store that particularly stood out to the jury.

Masco Signs Agreement To Sell Cabinetry Division

Masco Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Masco Cabinetry to ACProducts, Inc., a manufacturer of cabinetry products owned by American Industrial Partners. The closing of the sale is expected to occur during the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review.

eCommerce Drives Walmart Earnings

Walmart Inc. had total revenue of $128 billion for the third quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, an increase of 2.5 per cent over revenue of $124.9 billion for the same period in the previous year. U.S. comparative sales increased on a two-year stacked basis by 6.6 per cent and U.S. eCommerce sales increased 41 per cent year-over-year with strong growth in online grocery. Net sales at Walmart International were $29.2 billion, an increase of 1.3 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Overall net income was $3.3 billion for the quarter, up 92.3 per cent compared to net income of $1.7 billion last year.

November 15, 2019

Small Business Lending Remains Healthy

Overall business credit balances for small businesses in Canada increased year-over-year in September, up 6.1 per cent over the previous year, says the ‘Fall 2019 TransUnion Business Lending Barometer.’ At the same time, lenders also increased the overall number of open credit accounts, up 5.4 per cent for the same 12-month period. Importantly, delinquency rates, defined as accounts with payments 90 or more days past due remained low at 1.95 per cent for September, which represented an improvement of 26 basis points (bps) compared to the same period in 2018. “Although the rate of growth in the Canadian economy has slowed in recent quarters, clearly there is still optimism amongst businesses and the lenders that support them,” says Matt Fabian, director of financial services, research and consulting, for TransUnion Canada. “With many businesses still recording growth, particularly in the small business segment, they are willing to take on credit to help manage their day-to-day operations and invest for expansion. Average balances per business borrower grew over the past year for most categories of credit products. This indicates that businesses have continued demand for credit and that lenders are making additional credit available – a positive formula for growth.”

Laval RONA Opens Renovated Store

RONA Viger-Leblanc has opened after a complete transformation and investment of $400,000. The Lowe’s Canada affiliate store, based in Laval, QC, has renovated the sales floor to add over 3,000 products and redesigned its racking. The store was founded over 70 years ago and was changed from a fruit market to a general store at the end of the 1950s. It became a RONA affiliated store in 1973, although it has changed locations over the years. Serge Viger joined the store more than 40 years ago as a part-time employee. He worked his way up the ladder and finally acquired the business with his wife Manon in 2011. Today, he employs 30 people.

Investor Group To Acquire Bouclair

Alston Investments Inc., a company recently formed by a group of Canadian investors with significant retail experience, plans to acquire a substantial portion of the assets of home decorating retail chain Bouclair Inc. via an asset purchase agreement. Alston plans to focus on Bouclair's successful experiential retail concept while continuing to invest heavily in its online presence. Efforts to promote Bouclair internationally will also be expanded. The proposed transaction would allow it to reorganize and focus on its strengths and to expand eCommerce and digital capabilities. A key priority in the next 24 months will be converting as many as two dozen existing stores and finding new sites for its experiential retail concept, first launched in Brossard, QC, in 2018.

Benjamin Moore Opens Texas DC

Paint and coatings manufacturer Benjamin Moore has opened a distribution centre in Lewisville, TX. The 238,000-square-foot facility will accommodate expansion, enhance service, and provide job opportunities. The company previously operated in a 70,000-square-foot distribution centre in Mesquite, TX, that will continue to serve as its manufacturing facility.

Acquisitions Raise Energizer Sales

Energizer Holdings, Inc. had net earnings from continuing operations of $47 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase compared to net earnings of $1.5 million in the same period in 2018. Adjusted net earnings for the quarter were $68.6 million compared to $50.8 million last year. Net sales were up 57.3 per cent to $719 million due partly to distribution gains and benefit of hurricane activity. The impact of the acquisitions resulted in increased sales of $225.6 million, or 49.3 per cent. Gross margin percentage was 40 per cent versus 45.5 per cent in the prior year.

Pet Care Drives Spectrum Sales

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $993 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.9 per cent over net sales of $974.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Gross profit for the quarter was $334.7 million, down 3.5 per cent compared gross profit of $346.9 million in the year-ago period. The company had a net loss of $79 million compared to a net loss of $34.7 million last year and adjusted EBITDA increased 5.2 per cent to $163.1 million compared to last year. Net sales for the hardware and home improvement segment increased 1.1 per cent year-over-year; net sales for the home and personal care segment increased one per cent; net sales for the global pet care segment increased 7.9 per cent; and net sales for the home and garden segment decreased 4.3 per cent.

November 14, 2019

Lowe’s Barred From Calling RONA ‘Truly Canadian’

Lowe’s Cos. Inc., the U.S. owners of the RONA home improvement chain, disagrees with a ruling barring it from using the taglines ‘Truly Canadian’ and ‘Proudly Canadian.’ However, the retail company says it won’t dispute the ruling. A complaint to regulator Ad Standards about the slogans triggered the ruling, which was reaffirmed on appeal. “RONA is not owned and controlled by a ‘truly Canadian’ entity,” says the regulator in its decision. “Council concluded, therefore, that the claim ‘Truly Canadian’ conveyed an inaccurate general impression.” RONA, founded in 1939 in Quebec, was Canadian-owned until Lowe’s, based in North Carolina, bought the retailer in 2016. The American company argued that it should be allowed to continue using the slogans because of the Canadian founders and headquarters and number of Canadian executives.

Northern Ontario Dealer Joins Castle

The Mushkegowuk Development Corporation (MDC), owned by multiple First Nations members of the Mushkegowuk Council in northern Ontario, now owns MDC Supply GP, operating as Great North Builders. This new Castle location, which was once part of the community for over 35 years, is coming back with enhanced vigour under new management and with an expanded product assortment to meet the increased consumer demand for certain products. The business was a long-standing fixture in the community and MDC is looking to build on the legacy that founder Jack Hood left behind when he retired and closed the business approximately one year ago. “When we purchased the business, we knew we wanted to grow our brand and take it to new levels. We had the choice to go in any direction but chose Castle not only for the 35-year history in Moosonee, but because of the outstanding experience and recommendations from the previous owner,” says Albalina Metatawabin, general manager of MDC. The store is currently undergoing renovation and will begin to offer products and services to local customers once complete in late November. A public grand opening celebration is planned for February of the new year.

BMR Group Gets Ontario Member

Richmond, ON-based Richmond Building Centre has joined BMR Group. “Working in a highly competitive environment, I was looking for the right partner to help set me apart from the competition,” says Doug Kazda, store owner. “BMR Group offers a program tailored to my business that enables me to achieve all my goals. In addition to supplying high-quality products, BMR will also meet our high demand for building materials, which is one of their greatest strengths.” Over the next few months, the store’s facade will be transformed to the BMR brand and the store name will change to Richmond BMR.

Calgary Housing Market Remains Vulnerable

Calgary, AB’s housing market remains moderately vulnerable due to evidence of overbuilding, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The city’s inventory of completed and unsold housing units increased in the second quarter, while absorption of new housing units has been slowing compared to 2018, which has contributed to the oversupply. In a report, CMHC says Calgary remains a buyers’ market, with home prices staying in line with market fundamentals. Apartment units continue to make up the largest proportion of overall housing inventory, though the largest increase from the previous quarter was in single-detached units. Calgary’s resale market increased seven per cent compared to the same quarter last year. The report says there is also evidence of overbuilding in Edmonton, AB, Regina and Saskatoon, SK, and Winnipeg, MB.

Continental Sales On The Rise

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $127.4 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.9 per cent compared to net sales of $131.2 million in the prior year quarter. Wallboard sales volumes increased 4.6 per cent to 705 million square feet (MMSF) compared to 674 MMSF in the prior year quarter, primarily attributable to stronger demand. Operating income was down 26.3 per cent to $19.9 million, compared to $27 million in the prior year quarter. Net income decreased $5.1 million or 27.6 per cent to $13.4 million year-over-year. The $5.1 million decrease in net income was primarily a result of the decrease in net sales.

Small Increase In HDI Sales

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $292.5 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 0.7 per cent compared to sales of $290.4 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales in Canada were up 0.6 per cent to $35.2 million. EBITDA was $20.7 million, up five per cent over $19.7 million in the year-ago period. The company had a profit of $8.9 million for the quarter, up 11.2 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit increased 3.3 per cent to $53.3 million while gross profit percentage decreased to 18.2 per cent from 17.8 per cent.

November 13, 2019

September Building Permits Decrease

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 6.5 per cent to $8.3 billion in September, largely due to declines in the residential sector, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in four provinces, with the largest increase in Alberta (7.2 per cent). The largest decline was in Quebec (20.5 per cent), mostly due to a drop in the value of permits for multi-family dwellings. The value of residential building permits was down 10.7 per cent to $5.1 billion in September. Permits for multi-family dwellings fell 12.1 per cent with declines in eight provinces, while Nova Scotia and Alberta reported the sole increases. Permits for single-family dwellings decreased 8.7 per cent largely due to a decrease in Ontario following strong growth in August. Commercial permits rose 6.1 per cent while the value of industrial and institutional permits declined.

Canadian Tire Ready For ‘Whoever Comes At Us’

Canadian Tire Corporation’s (CTC) chief financial officer is welcoming the competition from online retailers like Amazon.com Inc., says Dean McCann, CFO of CTC. In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, he says Walmart is the best thing that ever happened to the company, with Target being the second best thing. “I firmly believe that this change that we’re undergoing right now with a new way of doing business will be the next best thing for Canadian Tire over the next couple years.” He says CTC’s 500 store, Canada-wide network gives the retailer an advantage for ‘last mile’ delivery, which is a costly part of doing business. The versatility in pick-up/delivery options allows the company to better cater to the needs of its customers. “There are things that you want; you need it now. There are things that a customer is willing to wait for … Or you can come to the store, click-and-collect, and pick it up there. We’ll have it ready for you. We’re well-positioned to take on whoever comes at us.” McCann’s comments come in response to Neuberger Berman portfolio manager Steve Eisman’s comment that he bet against CTC stock because he believes it would suffer as a result of competition from Amazon as well as potential weakness in its credit card portfolio.

Amazon To Build First Quebec Fulfillment Centre

Amazon Canada plans to open its first fulfillment centre in Quebec. The site will be located in Lachine on the island of Montreal and will launch in time for the 2020 holiday shopping season. “We're excited about our growth in Montreal, which gives us the opportunity to better serve our customers across Quebec,” says Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada. The facility will allow the online retailer to pick, pack, and ship items ranging from toys and pet products to small electronics.

Mixed Use Materials To Trend For Exteriors

Mixed use materials will be a trend for home exteriors in 2020, says Royal Building Products. Brick and stone will no longer be the main focal point of exteriors; instead, homeowners will blend materials with the rest of the home’s exterior design features to present a dynamic look that isn’t overpowering. Accents to the gable will run in the opposite direction of the siding. Consumers will also add texture in the gable by adding shake. People will incorporate mixed use of sidings and blendings of various sidings – vertical, horizontal, board and batten – in shades of the same colour family. Siding of different widths will be blended to create a rustic look. People will also use different styles of the same siding, such as a blend of shiplap and cedar shingles of a similar colour, so that the texture becomes the main design feature.

Acquisitions Drive CanWel Sales

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenues of $373.2 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.6 per cent over revenues of $350.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales for the distribution segment increased by $24.5 million or 7.3 per cent, largely due to acquisitions and the company’s continuing focus on product mix strategies and target customer base. These improvements in the quarter were partially offset by the impact of construction materials pricing which generally continued on a downward trend until late in the quarter. Gross margin dollars increased three per cent to $52.3 million year-over-year, while gross margin percentage was slightly lower at 14 per cent of revenues versus 14.5 per cent last year. EBITDA was $25 million for the quarter compared to $20.1 million a year ago.

IKEA Canada Sales Grow 6.1 Per Cent

IKEA Canada had sales of $2.53 billion for the fiscal year ending August 31, an increase of 6.1 per cent on the previous year. The home furnishings retailer also reported strong digital engagement with 117.2 million visits to IKEA.ca, representing a 12 per cent increase and contributing to $261.2 million in eCommerce sales. In-store visitation was 31 million customers, an increase of 2.7 per cent.

November 12, 2019

Next Generation Needs Support To Lead Digital Age

Family business next generations (NextGens) view themselves as agents of change for digital transformation, but are looking for greater support and trust from current generation leaders, says a report by PwC. The report says 70 per cent of NextGens are already deeply engaged in family enterprise yet, a significant minority feel they are being held back and frustrated by a lack of opportunity. They are confident in the value they can bring in terms of skills with more than two-thirds agreeing that their strongest attributes (problem-solving and leadership) are essential skills in the future business landscape. Sixty-four per cent say they can add value to ensure future business strategy is fit for the digital age. They are looking for support to develop the expertise and experience they need to succeed. "It's vital to understand the importance of a cross-generational approach. In some family businesses, there may be up to five generations all working together in one company," says Vicki Huff Eckert, U.S. and global leader, PwC New Ventures. "Weaving in the best traits from each generation - knowing when to let the young take the lead and when to rein them in - can make the difference between simply surviving and passing on a thriving enterprise to the next generation."

Toronto, Hamilton Housing Vulnerability Decreases

Toronto and Hamilton, ON, are the latest markets to see a change in their overall degree of housing market vulnerability from high to moderate, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in its 'Housing Market Assessment (HMA).' The change brings the Toronto and Hamilton markets in line with Canada's overall moderate vulnerability rating. Victoria, BC, remains the only major centre with an overall high degree of vulnerability rating. The national housing market's overall vulnerability remains moderate for the third consecutive quarter. This follows 10 consecutive quarters of having been flagged with a high degree of vulnerability. Imbalances between house prices and housing market fundamentals such as income and population have narrowed with prices continuing to adjust and fundamentals catching up. Victoria no longer exhibits evidence of overheating while the overall vulnerability of Vancouver, BC, remains moderate as evidence of overvaluation persists. Edmonton and Calgary, AB; Saskatoon and Regina, SK; and Winnipeg, MB, continue to see a moderate degree of vulnerability in the overall assessment, due to evidence of overbuilding. Ottawa, ON; Montreal and Quebec City, QC; Moncton, NB; Halifax, NS; and St. John's, NL, maintain a low degree of overall vulnerability.

Desjardins Capital Acquires SJM Group Shares

Desjardins Capital has acquired the majority of the shares held in three SJM Group companies - Équipement Boni, Etalex, and Produits de Fil et Métal FormaFil. SJM Group provides solutions for commercial fixtures and heavy-duty storage systems. The transaction will boost synergy among the three entities and is consistent with the expertise of the group's managers, who will continue to oversee operations. With Desjardins Capital as an equity partner, the family business can retain its Quebec ownership while handing management of operations over to SJM Group Management Committee. The transaction will allow SJM Group to continue its development while bringing a promising next generation on board.

Masco Completes Business Divesture

Masco Corporation has completed the sale of its Milgard Windows and Doors division to MI Windows and Doors LLC for approximately $725 million. Masco announced the plan to divest its cabinetry and windows businesses in June and found a buyer – MI Windows and Doors – in October. It has not yet announced any buyers for its cabinetry business.

DEWALT Enhances Three Original FLEXVOLT Tools

DEWALT has made upgrades to three products that were part of the original DEWALT FLEXVOLT System, debuted in 2016. The 60V MAX FLEXVOLT 7¼-inch Circular Saw (DCS578), 60V MAX FLEXVOLT 4½- to 6-inch Grinder (DCG418), and 60V MAX FLEXVOLT Reciprocating Saw (DCS389) each offer increased power versus their predecessors. The upgrades mean that the circular saw is up to 47 per cent more powerful than its predecessor, the grinder is up to 30 per cent more powerful, and the reciprocating saw is up to 19 per cent more powerful. Each of these tools achieves this increase in performance via new motors, new software, and new controls. In addition, they will be available as a kit with a 9.0Ah battery. The original FLEXVOLT tools were kitted with a 6.0Ah battery.

AEP Has Gains

Atlas Engineered Products Ltd. had revenue of $10.5 million for the third quarter of 2019, up 106 per cent from $5.1 million in the third quarter 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $735,736 compared to an operating loss of $8,050 in the prior year period. Net income was $531,710. The improvements are due to integration activities such as consolidated raw material supply, improved manufacturing efficiency, productivity gains, and lower cost of sales, says the company.

November 11, 2019

October Canadian Housing Starts Trend Lower

The trend in housing starts decreased in October to 218,598 units; this compares to 223,276 units in September, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Multi-family starts in urban centres trended lower following four months of consecutive gains, offsetting a modest increase in the trend of urban single-detached starts in October. The Vancouver, BC, and Toronto, ON, census metropolitan areas (CMAs) trended lower compared to last month. The Edmonton, AB; Regina, SK, and Gatineau and Sherbrooke, QC, CMAs trended higher. Prince Edward Island housing starts were up 146 per cent year-over-year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 201,973 units in October, down 8.7 per cent from 221,135 units in September. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by nine per cent, multiple urban starts decreased by 12.5 per cent, and single-detached urban starts increased by 2.4 per cent.

TIMBER MART Honours World War II Vets

TIMBER MART commercial members from across Canada visited the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy, France

TIMBER MART commercial members from across Canada visited the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, this fall to honour the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War. The group toured the site on September 24 where more than 14,000 Canadian troops landed on D-Day (June 6, 1944) to liberate France from Nazi control. To commemorate their visit, the group not only made a donation to the centre, but will also have a commemorative brick produced in the spring that will be placed on the beach at the Juno Beach Centre’s memorial kiosks. “Touring such a significant historical site was a humbling experience for us all as Canadians,” says Bernie Owens, president and CEO of TIMBER MART (pictured). “We are so proud of our fallen heroes and grateful for their sacrifice, for it is because of them that we are able to live so freely in this beautiful nation we call home.”

RONA La Crete Building Centre Opens Its Doors

Lowe’s Canada joined dealer-owners Andrew Zacharias and Andrew Neustaeter and their team to celebrate the grand opening of RONA La Crete Building Centre on November 8. Located in La Crete, AB, the store has been displaying the RONA banner since January. For the last 10 months, the owners have renovated the store, tripled the size of the sales floor, and added hundreds of new products. They also hired five additional employees to better serve their community. The 20,000-square-foot store features new product categories such as appliances and seasonal products and a wider selection of products for existing categories that now include brands like Craftsman.

BMR Group Trade Show Launched Products And Services

‘Close-knit and connected’ was the theme for the ‘2019 BMR Group Trade Show’ that ran from November 6 to 8 in Québec City, QC. Dealers were able to learn about new products with four new private brands launched to modernize and strengthen their product offering. They are Botaflora (horticulture), Splendi (high-end products), Fixel (low-end products), and Architek (finishing building materials). These brands will appear in stores in 2020. The show also featured a marketing exhibit that provided information and services to help dealers improve their in-store customer experience. BMR introduced the no-cost Imagine Program as well as a number of planograms promoting products such as a line of zero-waste products, Amazon Alexa products, and Firman generators. BMR also launched the ‘BMR Independent Dealers’ section of La Coop fédérée which offers dealers membership and year-end rebates.

Credit Card Fees To Drop For Small Business

Some of the fees merchants pay on credit card transactions will go down from 1.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent, on average, starting in April as a result of an agreement reached by the federal government with Visa and Mastercard last year. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it is pleased by this latest victory for small business but warns independent merchants to protect themselves from misinformation and unfair contracts. In addition, the federal government has promised to eliminate processing fees on HST and GST for credit card transactions, a move estimated to save merchants nearly $500 million per year in fees. While these announcements are very good news, CFIB warns small business owners to be vigilant to ensure the savings are passed along to them. CFIB also says it has started to receive complaints about new credit card processing fees. In particular, Mastercard is introducing a new fee on returns/refunds and pre-authorizations. And while interchange rates for in-store Mastercard transactions are expected to see a meaningful reduction (up to 29 per cent), eCommerce businesses may see increases in the fees they have to pay for some categories of cards.

October Dodge Momentum Index Moves Higher

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 6.9 per cent in October to 152.6 from the revised September reading of 142.7. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. October’s increase was due entirely to a recovery in institutional planning projects, which had stepped back over the previous few months. Institutional planning moved 22.8 per cent higher in the month while commercial planning lost 0.5 per cent. Despite the October increase, institutional projects entering planning remain 4.3 per cent lower on a year-over-year basis compared to October 2018. Commercial projects meanwhile are 14.3 per cent higher than October 2018. The overall index is 6.7 per cent higher than a year ago, although its level remains below the July 2018 peak.

Louisiana-Pacific Sales Dip

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had net sales of $603 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease from net sales of $737 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income was $2 million compared to $124 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $49 million compared to $193 million. Declines in OSB pricing in all North American operations had a negative impact on results. The siding segment had sales of $259 million compared to $241 million last year; the oriented strand board (OSB) segment had sales of $197 million compared to $349 million; and the engineered wood products (EWP) segment had net sales of $105 million compared to $110 million.

November 8, 2019

Consumers Want Digital Benefits

Consumers want the digital benefits of personalization via suggested selling, customized offers, and self-checkout/self-scanning for the times when they do not feel the need to engage, says BRP’s ‘Special Report: The Future of Retail.’ When retailers can combine the digital and physical environments such as offering proximity-triggered mobile coupons or self-checkout through a mobile app, customers reward retailers with their loyalty to the brand. Moving towards the future of retail, these retailer nice-to-haves will become table-stakes. The report says 55 per cent of consumers are likely to choose a retailer that offers self-checkout and they are willing to try new technology if it improves the in-store experience. The physical store is not dying and enhancing the customer experience continues to be critical for retail success. Consumers love the theatre of shopping, which is why many pure-play online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional store concepts continue to transform. The in-store experience is paramount for apparel and other products that consumers want to touch, feel, demo, or try on.

Supply Down In GTA Housing

There were 8,491 residential home sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in October, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This represents a 14 per cent increase compared to 7,448 sales reported in October 2018. GTA-wide, sales were up on a year-over-year basis for all major home types. While demand is strong, supply of available listings is dropping, resulting in tighter market conditions and accelerating price growth. New listings were down by 9.6 per cent compared to last year.

IKEA Canada To Launch ‘New City Centre’ Concepts

IKEA Canada plans to expand and introduce concepts to its Toronto, ON, city centre store. This is the first market in Canada where the retailer is introducing its ‘new city centre’ approach, which includes becoming more accessible through IKEA meeting places in the core, creating new experiences in existing stores, developing a more affordable and convenient service offer, and enhancing digital solutions. With final concepts and locations still to be determined, the city growth plan will be inspired by how Torontonians live at home and developed based on decades of experience in the market. “The ‘new city’ approach will complement our existing stores in the market, enabling customers to shop seamlessly across all touchpoints, based on their individual needs and preferences,” says Michael Ward, CEO and chief sustainability officer. Looking forward, IKEA will continue to explore new shopping formats, digital solutions, and ways to experience with IKEA, all with the goal to be the leading multichannel home furnishings retailer.

Residential Sector To Drive Garden Pot Demand

The global gardening pots market size is expected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2025, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research. The residential sector is expected to register the fastest CAGR of six per cent from 2019 to 2025. A growing trend of the adoption of gardening among Millennials is expected to remain one of the key drivers of this growth. The trend shows that even though growing population and rapid urbanization is reducing the living space, gardening enthusiasts have been working towards continuing their interest by creating small gardening pots in balconies and kitchens. Growing interest in planting flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs in various sized containers and pots is another key factor driving the market. By product, refractory material accounted for the largest share of over 40 per cent in 2018. Polymer is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 6.4 per cent from 2019 to 2025. The commercial application segment is expected to generate US$1.4 billion by 2025 owing to growing trend of creating gardens around the public buildings.

IPEX Acquires Silver-Line Plastics

Thermoplastic piping system manufacturer IPEX has acquired Silver-Line Plastics. Silver-Line Plastics is a U.S. manufacturer of plastic pipe products with three production facilities. With this acquisition, IPEX will increase its market position in the U.S. with an expanded product portfolio serving a broader client base. IPEX is part of Aliaxis, a manufacturer and distributor of advanced plastic piping systems.

Residential Segment Leads Generac Sales

Power equipment manufacturer Generac Holdings Inc. had net sales of $601.1 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.9 per cent compared to net sales of $562.4 million in the third quarter of 2018. Cores sales growth was approximately seven per cent. Residential product sales increased 7.4 per cent year-over-year and commercial and industrial sales increased 4.1 per cent. Overall net income was $75.6 million for the quarter, in line with $75.8 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $126 million, or 21 per cent of net sales, as compared to $124.5 million, or 22.1 per cent of net sales last year.

Sales Decrease For Masonite

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $552 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent over sales of $557 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $15 million compared to $25 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $76 million versus $71 million. North American residential net sales increased two per cent year-over-year and architectural net sales increased five per cent. Total company gross profit increased 13 per cent to $126 million and gross profit margin increased 280 basis points to 22.7 per cent.

November 7, 2019

Social Responsibility Drives Second-hand Economy

Four out of five Canadians participated in the second-hand economy in 2018, fueling a $27.3 billion second-hand economy that has grown in size annually since 2015, says the fifth annual 'Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index.' It says a major driving force behind the growth is a shift in consumer motivations towards "community-minded commerce," with Canadians increasingly driven by the altruistic and ecological benefits of exchanging used items. While financial motivations for buying and selling second-hand continue to be the leading reasons for participation in the second-hand economy, they have shrunk by four per cent over the past five years. At the same time, there has been a six per cent increase in disposal driven by altruism with consumers aiming to have a positive impact on their fellow citizens, the community, and society as a whole. Ecological motivations are also becoming more important reflecting a national focus on protecting the planet and reducing waste. In 2018 alone, Canadians gave 2.4 billion items a second life - 250 million more items than in 2014. The rate of second-hand acquisitions has grown 14 per cent since 2014.

Giant Tiger Opens Two Ontario Locations

Giant Tiger has opened stores in Windsor and Brampton, ON. The Windsor store offers 17,558 square feet of retail space and the Brampton store offers 17,793 square feet. The stores are stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities. The privately-held company has over 250 locations across Canada which are locally owned or operated.

Leviton Acquires Canadian Lighting Manufacturer

Lighting and control solutions provider Leviton has acquired Viscor, a Canadian independent lighting manufacturer that specializes in lighting for architectural, commercial, medical, institutional, and industrial applications. The acquisition supports Leviton's commitment to strategically expand its lighting and controls product offering. Established in 1952, Viscor is a family-owned company that manufactures more than 150 product families. "By adding Viscor to the Leviton family, we will be able to provide a much deeper portfolio of lighting options for our customers. Equally important, Viscor's product portfolio will be further enhanced with access to our wide variety of innovative lighting control options," says Daryoush Larizadeh, president and chief operating officer of Leviton.

Spectrum Sells HQ To Investment Firm

Real estate investment firm Harbor Group International, LLC (HGI) has acquired the headquarters of Spectrum Brands. The single-tenant office building, located in Middleton, WI, is a four-story property built in 2013 and spans 252,122 rentable square feet. The investment is part of HGI's strategic goal to geographically diversify its portfolio into underserved or mispriced markets. The property is fully leased to Spectrum Brands, Inc. through 2034.

HMS To Open AR Facility

Michigan-based HMS Manufacturing Company will open a 550,000-square-foot injection moulding facility in Arkansas. The housewares and home organization product manufacturer will spend $20 million on the facility that should start production in summer of next year. Among the HMS brands are Hefty and Home Logic.

Pier 1 Fills Top Jobs

Robert Riesbeck is chief executive officer of Pier 1 Imports, Inc.; he will also continue to serve as chief financial officer. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in retail and consumer goods, including as CFO of FULLBEAUTY Brands. Donna Colaco is president. She served as executive vice-president and chief customer officer since 2018.

Commodity Prices Affect Builders FirstSource Sales

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $2 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 6.5 per cent compared to net sales of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was partly attributable to declining lumber and lumber sheet goods sales due to the deflation in commodity prices. Sales volume per day in the single-family end market grew by an estimated 9.3 per cent, repair and remodel/other by 10.7 per cent, and multi-family by 5.8 per cent. Estimated sales volume also increased in all product categories.

November 6, 2019

October Vancouver Home Sales Soar

Residential real estate recovery in Metro Vancouver, BC, continued apace in October, with home sales soaring 45.4 per cent higher than the same month last year, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential resale transactions in the region totaled 2,858 in October, which is the highest number of homes sold in a single month so far this year. As well as the year-over-year jump, this total is 22.5 per cent higher than the 2,333 homes sold in September this year and 9.8 per cent above the 10-year sales average for October. "Home buyers have more confidence today than we saw in the first half of the year," said Ashley Smith, president of REBGV. "With prices edging down over the last year and interest rates remaining low, hopeful buyers are becoming more active this fall." As more home inventory was absorbed by a more active market, the number of available listings declined - exacerbated by fewer sellers listing their homes for sale in October. There were 4,074 homes listed for sale, which is down 16.4 per cent compared to the 4,873 homes listed in October 2018 and down 16.3 per cent decrease compared to September 2019 when 4,866 homes were listed. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio is 23.4 per cent, which is moving back towards a seller's market.

Strong Growth Forecast For Structural Insulated Panels Market

The global structural insulated panels market size is expected to reach US$640.4 million by 2025, progressing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Structural insulated panels are manufactured by sandwiching foaming materials with siding panels so they provide superior insulation properties. This, in addition with other properties such as high resistance value, strength, and durability, is expected to drive industry growth over the projected period. Rising demand for modern construction techniques to build energy-efficient construction units is expected to drive the product demand. As well, increasing consumer awareness about the benefits of structural insulated panels coupled with positive government outlook to support green construction activities is likely to propel product demand. Product demand in walls and floors applications is expected to register a CAGR of 4.9 per cent over the forecast period owing to increasing single-family and multi-family residential construction. North America was the largest market for structural insulated panels in 2018, accounting for 39 per cent of the market revenue share.

2020 U.S. Construction Starts Forecast To Slip Back

Total U.S. construction starts will slip to $776 billion in 2020, a decline of four per cent from the 2019 estimated level of activity, says the '2020 Dodge Construction Outlook' by Dodge Data & Analytics. The dollar value of single family housing starts will be down three per cent in 2020 and the number of units will also lose five per cent to 765,000. Affordability issues and the tight supply of entry level homes have kept demand for homes muted and buyers on the sidelines. Multi-family construction was an early leader in the recovery, stringing together eight years of growth since 2009. However, multi-family vacancy rates have moved sideways over the past year, suggesting that slower economic growth will weigh on the market next year. Multi-family starts are slated to drop 13 per cent in dollars and 15 per cent in units. The dollar value of commercial building starts will retreat six per cent in 2020, while institutional construction starts will essentially remain even with the 2019 level.

Hydro-Québec To Manufacture Smart Home Devices

Hydro-Québec's subsidiary Hilo and Québec-based Stelpro are creating a joint venture with a mandate to develop connected devices for smart homes that will contribute to efficient energy use. The joint venture will develop products designed to manage energy use, such as smart thermostats, and provide them to both partners. The equipment will be designed in Québec and manufactured in a Stelpro Group plant in Shawinigan, QC. Stelpro manufacturers and assembles Maestro smart thermostats and has a network of distribution partners.

Roseburg Opens South Carolina Wood Plant

Roseburg Forest Products has opened an engineered wood plant in Chester, SC. The company says the plant is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturing facilities of its kind and features the highest-capacity press in the world. The project was first announced in early 2017 and the construction team broke ground later that same year. The company did extensive research prior to choosing a location for the new plant, with criteria including market demand, raw materials availability and cost, and business climate. The facility will produce laminated veneer lumber (LVL) headers and beams used in residential and commercial construction.

Cordona Joins SFA SANIFLO

Teresa Cardona is marketing and communications manager for North America with SFA SANIFLO. Previously, she was marketing and social media manager for Aramark.

Acadian Timber Sales Down

Acadian Timber Corp. had net sales of $26.6 million in the third quarter of 2019, a decrease versus net sales of $27.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $5.9 million compared to $9.7 million while adjusted EBITDA was $6.1 million compared to $6.7 million. Net sales in the New Brunswick timberlands segment were flat, while net sales for the Maine timberlands segment decreased from $6.6 million to $6.5 million year-over-year.

Newell Brands Reduces Net Loss

Newell Brands' net sales were $2.45 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 3.8 per cent decline compared to the net sales of $2.55 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely attributable to the impact of foreign exchange and a 2.5 per cent decline in core sales. Gross margin was 33.1 per cent for the quarter compared with 35.9 per cent in the prior-year period. The company had a net loss of $626 million, an increase of 91.4 per cent compared to a net loss of $7.3 billion last year. The home and outdoor living segment sales increased 1.3 per cent; the learning and development segment sales decreased 3.7 per cent; the appliances and cookware segment sales decreased 3.7 per cent; and the food and commercial segment sales declined 11.3 per cent year-over-year.

November 5, 2019

Canadians Planning To Reduce Holiday Spending

In advance of Black Friday, more than half of Canadians (55 per cent) say they will be spending less on holiday gifts this year, says a survey by Equifax Canada. This comes following its ‘Q2 Consumer Credit Trends Report,’ which showed total debt per consumer rose by 1.9 per cent at the end of the second quarter in 2019. The survey says women are more likely to spend significantly less at 61 per cent versus 48 per cent of men. Canadians under the age of 55 are significantly more likely to limit their spending because they are already carrying too much debt and they have a lot of anxiety about it. Shoppers between 35 and 44 have the most concern about current debt levels (58 per cent compared to 46 per cent for the general population) and the most anxiety (49 per cent compared to 39 per cent for the general population). The majority of people surveyed, however, are working towards being financially fit for the holidays with 58 per cent of them planning to prepare a holiday budget.

U.S. Manufacturers Showing Faster Output

The U.S. manufacturing sector saw a further modest improvement in operating conditions in October, supported by faster expansions in output and new business, says the IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Rates of growth in both production and new orders accelerated to six-month highs. Subsequently, employment rose at the quickest pace since May and business confidence picked up to a four-month high. Meanwhile, rates of input price and output charge inflation softened and remained subdued, with selling prices broadly unchanged during the month. The seasonally adjusted U.S. PMI posted 51.3 in October, up slightly from 51.1 in September. The latest headline figure was the highest since April, but remained consistent with only a modest improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector. The overall rate of growth remained well below the long-run series average.

Lowe’s Banners Now Offer MultiVolt Solution

Lowe’s Canada has partnered with Metabo HPT, formerly known as Hitachi, to offer contractors, home builders, trade workers, and heavy DIYers tools equipped with its MultiVolt solution. Now available in Canada in-store and online at Lowe’s, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada, this power tool platform makes it possible to switch from a corded to a cordless power source, without losing any efficiency. The Metabo HPT MultiVolt assortment includes saws, grinders, wrenches, hammers, and drills. 

IKEA Canada Launches Family Loyalty Program

IKEA Canada has rolled-out its IKEA Family loyalty program to markets nationwide. The reimagined program is fully digital from online sign-up to a digital card and offers benefits both in-store and online. These include a free hot drink at the IKEA Restaurant, member-only discounts, home furnishings inspiration via workshops, and exclusive shopping events. IKEA Family is also the hub for the retailer's Sell-Back program, enabling customers to apply to sell their gently-used IKEA products back, in exchange for store credit. The sustainable service gives used products a second-life and has seen more than 25,000 submissions since launching earlier this year. The company will continue to evolve the loyalty program as more benefits, rewards, and engagement opportunities are added over time based on customer interaction and feedback.

Clorox Sales Down Four Per Cent

The Clorox Company had net sales of $1.5 billion for the first quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, down four per cent over net sales of $1.56 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Net sales decreased two per cent in the cleaning segment, decreased 14 per cent in the household segment, and increased four per cent in the lifestyle segment. Gross margin for the quarter increased by 60 basis points to 44 per cent from 43.4 per cent in the year-ago quarter. Earnings for the quarter were $203 million, a two per cent decrease over earnings of $210 million in the year-ago period.

Architectural Products Lead Masco Sales Increase

Masco Corporation had net sales of $1.95 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of two per cent over sales of $1.9 in the third quarter of 2018. In local currency, sales increased three per cent year-over-year. Plumbing products had a sales decrease of one per cent year-over-year, decorative architectural products had a sales increase of four per cent; and cabinetry products had a sales decrease of one per cent. Operating profit for the quarter was $316 million, up 10 per cent over operating profit of $286 million last year. The company had net income of $126 million for the quarter, down from net income of $180 million in the year-ago period.

November 4, 2019

Manufacturers Optimistic About Growth

October data signalled a modest improvement in business conditions across the Canadian manufacturing sector, driven by a sustained rebound in output and new business levels, says the IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). The index was 51.2 in October, up from a, seasonally adjusted 51 in September. This is above the crucial 50 no-change value for the second month running. The reading is the highest since February, but signalled only a marginal improvement in overall operating conditions. Faster rates of output and new order growth boosted the headline PMI in October, more than offsetting a slightly weaker contribution from the employment component. Input cost inflation accelerated from the seven-year low seen during September. Manufacturers often commented on higher commodity prices in the latest survey period. Factory gate charges nonetheless increased only slightly, with some firms noting that subdued business conditions had held back their pricing power. Looking ahead, manufacturers in Canada are optimistic overall about their prospects for growth during the next 12 months.

Lowe’s Launches Merchandising Program

Lowe’s Canada has introduced a merchandising program into its Lowe’s stores across Canada. The Merchandising Service Team (MST) was developed to ensure a steady pace in maintaining merchandising programs in the stores so they are ‘grand opening ready’ at all times. The teams comprise five to seven store associates who are exclusively trained and focused on merchandising tasks. They are responsible for executing resets and to ‘snake through the store’ to carry out bay servicing according to a precise sequence and schedule that covers the entire store. They must ensure that planograms are properly executed, labels are accurate, and product displays are maintained. They will readjust elevations, reposition products, and provide feedback to management on the merchandising strategies. The stores originally had smaller MSTs; the new system has built upon that program to ensure merchandising execution is consistent and rigorous across all stores. The MST program also benefits vendors because it increases the retailer’s speed to market and all bays and products are serviced regularly resulting in improved quality of merchandising. As well, the teams make sure the store is more attractive and the overall customer experience is enhanced.

The Wooster Brush Company Rebrands

The Wooster Brush Company is undertaking a major rebranding effort throughout 2020 which will include new logo and changes to all packaging and point-of-purchasing (POP) materials. The company says the new look refreshes its brand, offering a cohesive strategy at retail across all channels. The campaign launching to announce these elements is ‘Same Great Product, Bold New Look.’ “We were seeking ways to better tell our story,” says Ben Maibach, vice-president of sales. “We want people to instantly recognize Wooster products and to also understand why to choose Wooster over everyone else — for quality, performance, and results. We believe this new look achieves just that.” The new design features red — the company's primary colour. Newly established icons communicate the key features and benefits of each product. Most notably, the new Wooster logo incorporates a paintbrush into the mark, evoking heritage of the world's first angle sash brush which was introduced by Wooster in 1937. The rebranded products will begin shipping in January 2020.

Investors Support La Coop fédérée

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Fondaction, and Desjardins Capital will invest $300 million in La Coop fédérée, parent company of Group BMR. The proceeds of capital injection will be used to finance the capital acquisition and capital investment projects of La Coop fédérée and its divisions based on the company’s 2019-2022 strategic goals. La Coop fédérée is a Quebec-based agri-food company.

First Alert Launches Fire Spray

Home safety company First Alert has launched a spray can fire spray. First Alert Fire Spray was developed for consumers wanting a product that is easier to handle than traditional fire extinguishers during an emergency. The spray can design covers a wide surface area and contains a liquid firefighting agent that is effective on common household fires including paper, fabric, wood, cooking oil, and electrical fires. Designed specifically for developing fires, the point-and-spray technology means there are no pins to pull or levers to squeeze. The product is designed for one-time use and the patented discharge technology features an internal pouch that isolates the contents from the pressure. When the spray nozzle is pressed, only the contents are released and the propellant stays inside the can so that the fire is not agitated.

Softening Market Hurts Huttig Sales

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $215.7 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.8 per cent compared to net sales of $222 million in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was primarily attributed to a modest softening in certain market segments and a competitive pricing environment, particularly among commodity products. Millwork product sales decreased five per cent in the quarter compared to last year; building products sales increased 3.6 per cent; and wood product sales decreased 22.7 per cent. The company had gross margin of $44.7 million in the quarter compared to $44.6 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $5.3 million versus $5.5 million last year.

Sales Rise At Simpson Manufacturing

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had consolidated net sales of $309.9 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 9.1 per cent from net sales of $284.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. North American sales increased 10.7 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $137.6 million for the quarter, up 2.8 per cent over gross profit of $133.9 million in the year-ago period. North American gross margin decreased to 45.6 per cent from 48.8 per cent last year, primarily due to increases in material, factory, overhead, and labour costs. Overall income from operations was $61 million, an increase of 2.2 per cent from $59.7 million last year. Consolidated net income was $43.7 million compared to $44.4 million.

November 1, 2019

Cash Payments Continue Decline

Cash payments continue to decline in favour of digital payment types, says the annual ‘Payments Pulse Survey: Small Business Edition’ from Payments Canada. The survey says nearly 80 per cent of small businesses are conducting fewer than 25 per cent of their transactions in cash, compared to 65 per cent in 2018. The year-over-year jump signals that cash is continuing to lose ground as a preferred method of payment as consumers increasingly choose alternative payment options. However, despite this decrease in the number of cash transactions, most (71 per cent) small businesses still feel an obligation to continue accepting cash as a method of payment and more than half (61 per cent) consider accepting cash as a key to their success. Businesses say the most efficient forms of payment methods to process are non-cash transactions, including eTransfers (27 per cent), cheque (17 per cent), credit card (19 per cent), automated funds transfer/direct deposit (14 per cent), and debit (six per cent). As well, 68 per cent of small businesses could be encouraged to adopt digital payments within their business, particularly if they have a clear return on investment (36 per cent).

Castle Launches Hockey Giveaway

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has launched its ‘Canadian Hockey Giveaway’ with a prize of two tickets to the Canadian 2020 NHL game of the winner’s choice. Contestants must follow Castle on Instagram and tag three friends to be entered into the draw. The contest is open from November 1 to 30 and the winner will be selected on December 2. Visit Castle’s Instagram page

HDI Completes Pacific Mutual Door Acquisition

Building products distributor Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) has completed its previously announced acquisition of Pacific Mutual Door Company. “This strategic acquisition brings with it a highly profitable business model and increases our existing presence in the attractive door and related millwork product category,” says Rob Brown, president and CEO of HDI.

ADP Launches Payroll Platform

ADP Canada has launched its ‘Workforce Now On the Go’ platform to help small business owners run payroll and manage time on their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. The platform enables business owners to generate key insights into earnings, deductions, and taxable benefits to verify payroll. Employee hours and payroll data at both the company and employee level can also be viewed using the solution’s summary dashboard.

All Segments Down At Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser Company had net sales of $1.7 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over net sales of $1.9 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Net earnings for the quarter were $99 million compared to $255 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $308 million versus $505 million. The timberlands segment had sales of $523 million for the third quarter, down from $532 million in the second quarter. The real estate, energy, and natural resources segment had net sales of $69 million compared to $81 million in the second quarter. Wood products had net sales of $1.2 billion compared to $1.3 billion.

Ingersoll-Rand Has Increase

Ingersoll-Rand plc had net revenues of $4.34 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an eight per cent increase over net revenues of $4.03 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $623 million with an operating margin of 14.3 per cent, up six per cent and down 30 basis points, respectively, over operating income of $587 million with an operating margin of 14.6 per cent last year. The climate segment had a seven per cent increase in revenues and the industrial segment had a 10 per cent increase in revenues. Revenue was strong in both commercial and residential HVAC.

October 31, 2019

BoC Maintains Overnight Rate

The Bank of Canada (BoC) maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1¾ per cent. The bank rate is correspondingly two per cent and the deposit rate is 1½ per cent. The BoC kept the rate static due to the state of the global economy which further weakened as ongoing trade conflicts are restraining business investment, trade, and global growth. Growth in Canada is expected to slow in the second half of this year to a rate below its potential, says the BoC. This reflects the uncertainty associated with trade conflicts, continuing adjustment in the energy sector, and the unwinding of temporary factors that boosted growth in the second quarter. Business investment and exports are likely to contract before expanding again in 2020 and 2021. At the same time, government spending and lower borrowing rates are supporting domestic demand and activity in the services sector remains robust. Employment is showing continuing strength and wage growth is picking up, although with some variation among regions. Consumer spending has been choppy, but will be supported by solid income growth. Meanwhile, housing activity is picking up in most markets. The BoC continues to monitor the evolution of financial vulnerabilities in light of lower mortgage rates and past changes to housing market policies.

Canfor To Go Private

Canfor Corporation has decided to become a privately-held company. The Vancouver, BC-based forest products company has entered into an arrangement agreement with Great Pacific Capital Corp., based on the recommendation of an independent committee of Canfor’s board of directors. Great Pacific Capital is a bank holding company for the Jim Pattison Group, also based in Vancouver. Under the terms of the agreement, Great Pacific, which along with its affiliates owns approximately 51 per cent of the issued and outstanding common shares of Canfor, will acquire all of the Canfor shares it does not already own by way of a statutory plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia). The companies plan to hold a meeting in December to consider the transaction. The transaction is subject to shareholder and court approval. Canfor shares will be cancelled from trading on the TSX following closing of the transaction, which is expected to be before year-end.

Value, Performance Drivers For Coating Products

Demand for protective coatings and sealers is projected to increase 5.1 per cent per year to $25.2 billion in 2023, says the ‘Global Construction Chemicals’ study by Freedonia Group. Growth will be boosted by ongoing gains in construction activity globally, as well as increasing demand for higher value, better performing products with improved functionality. Demand for products manufactured with more environmentally friendly solvents and low or no VOCs in order to improve indoor air quality will also drive demand as will the continued trend for sustainability. Products that are easy to apply, dry quickly, and last longer will lead in market share. Innovation such as self-cleaning and biocidal products will help maintain growth in this market.

National Gift Card Rebrands As NGC

National Gift Card, a provider of automated prepaid technology, has rebranded as NGC. The Chicago, IL-based company serves the B2C and B2B gift card marketplace by sourcing, delivering, and managing over 500 physical and digital retail brands across North America for the loyalty, consumer reward, healthcare, financial, and insurance industries in Canada and the U.S. With over half of its card activations coming from its eGift portfolio, NGC anchored the new branding on its digital technology expansion which powers its proprietary gift card ordering portal, gift card API platform, mobile fundraising program, and B2C and B2B eCommerce websites and mobile apps for merchants. When the company acquired Benefit Mobile in 2018, it added an array of branded currency service solutions, such as gifting and self-use features, 'shop & earn' integrations for loyalty programs, mobile wallet integration, and gift card malls. Additionally, the company will launch a state-of-the-art gift card API service in early 2020.

Schneider Electric Launches Electricity Monitoring System

Schneider Electric has launched Wiser Energy, an integrated monitoring system for residential homes. The internet-connected device tracks and monitors energy activity and use to provide real-time, easy-to-understand data so homeowners can make their homes greener and more efficient – all through a mobile app. The product will help Canadians identify extra electricity consumption, understand how much electricity is being used, and remotely monitor appliances. The unit connects to a residential electrical panel and Wi-Fi network. Over time, the system learns about a home to identify appliances and energy use patterns. The app can help homeowners determine how they can change their habits to use energy smarter. The system can also provide instant customizable alert notifications.

Trex Sales Up 17 Per Cent

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $195 million for the third quarter of 2019, up 17 per cent over net sales of $166 million in the third quarter of 2018. Trex Residential Products net sales increased 24 per cent to $183 million and Trex Commercial Products contributed $12 million to consolidated third quarter sales. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 42.4 per cent, representing gross margins from Trex Residential Products and Trex Commercial Products of 43.4 per cent and 26.5 per cent, respectively. Net income for the quarter was $42 million, up 42 per cent over net income of $29 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $82 million compared to $67 million.

Lower Pricing Reduces Dow Sales Results

Dow had net sales of $10.8 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 10 per cent over net sales of $12.7 billion in the third quarter of 2018, driven primarily by lower energy prices. Operating EBIT was $1.2 billion for the quarter with EBIT margin of 10.4 per cent compared to $1.6 billion and 12.7 per cent. The packaging and specialty plastics segment had net sales of $5.1 billion versus $6.2 billion in the year-ago period. The performance materials and coatings segment had net sales of $2.3 billion versus $2.6 billion last year. Volume growth for the segment in Asia Pacific and the U.S. and Canada was more than offset by local price declines in all geographic regions.

October 30, 2019

GTA New Home Market Continues Recovery

Single-family home sales, with 954 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA), were up 283 per cent from last September and just five per cent below the 10-year average, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were a total of 3,061 new home sales for the month, up 73 per cent from September 2018 and six per cent above the 10-year average. Condominium apartments in low, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 2,107 new home sales, up 39 per cent from September 2018 and 12 per cent above the 10-year average. With a number of new projects coming to market, remaining inventory increased from the previous month to 18,745 units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings. BILD says the degree of improvement in both new home sales and new project openings this year has been contained, however, and there are no signs of overheating in the market.

Consumers Want To Be Understood During Holidays

Consumers want to be understood by brands, especially during a hectic shopping period like the holiday season. Specifically, 75 per cent of consumers wish retailers better understood their preferences and used that insight to send personalized offers, says research from customer data and engagement technology provider RedPoint Global. Personalization is also proven to drive purchases. Nearly 60 per cent of consumers are more likely to purchase from retailers who send them personalized content and offers. Shoppers have higher expectations for brands when they are members/subscribers. Of consumers that are loyalty members, 74 per cent expect brands to understand their needs and expectations better than other retailers where they are not a member. Getting to know consumers pays off, however. Over a third of consumers remain loyal to their ‘go-to’ brands for holiday shopping. This group say they exclusively purchase from retailers that they have shopped with in the past.

Amazon Canada Offers Business Services

Amazon Canada is now offering its Amazon Business and Business Prime across the country. Companies of all sizes can use the platforms to manage procurement and purchase supplies where Amazon Business is available. Selling partners have the opportunity to grow their businesses by reaching customers across nine countries. Amazon Business features offers, pricing, and quantity discounts, as well as tax exemption, for qualifying purchases. Selling partners also benefit from Amazon's eCommerce expertise, gain visibility of their full product catalogue on an established online store and have greater access to business customer decision-makers to help grow sales. Business Prime is an annual membership program designed for Amazon Business customers and features premium delivery services on their business account. Amazon Business is now live in Canada, the U.S., Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India.

DEWALT Relaunches ToughSystem

DEWALT has launched the ToughSystem 2.0 Radio & Charger, the first product in an upcoming relaunch of the original ToughSystem product line, first announced in 2011. More information will be available on the rest of the line in early 2020. The radio features dynamic range control that gives users the optimal sound for indoor or outdoor use, via selectable settings. It incorporates four integrated, high-performance full-range speakers, an active subwoofer, and passive bass resonator, all driven by a 55W RMS amplifier to provide audio clarity. Compatible with all existing ToughSystem and future ToughSystem 2.0 modular storage solutions, the radio interface is intuitive and with robust stacking and locking side latches, it’s easy to assemble and disassemble. Integrated Bluetooth connectivity enables the radio and music from mobile devices to be controlled remotely via the DEWALT Sound Systems mobile app. A 2.1A USB port is included on the radio for mobile device charging while a large compartment on top provides storage and protection for a battery, phone, and the included AC power cable.

Architectural Segment Drives AWI Sales

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI) had net sales of $277.1 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of six per cent over net sales of $260.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales were driven by higher volumes in the architectural specialties segment and higher mineral fibre average unit value (AUV). Operating income for the quarter was $113.3 million, up 39 per cent over operating income of $81.3 million in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations were $90.7 million compared to $64.2 million, up 41.3 per cent. EBITDA was up 13.4 per cent for the quarter to $114 million and net income was up 14.8 per cent to $68 million. The architectural specialties segment EBITDA was up 18.1 per cent year-over-year and the mineral fibre segment EBITDA was up 12.7 per cent.

3M Sales Decline

3M had sales of $8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, down two per cent over sales of $8.2 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Total sales grew 4.7 per cent in the healthcare segment and 1.7 per cent in consumer, with declines of 4.4 per cent in transportation and electronics and 5.7 per cent in safety and industrial. Sales in Canada grew 0.6 per cent. Third-quarter operating income was $2 billion for the quarter, consistent with the prior-year period. Operating margins were 25.2 per cent. Net income was $1.6 billion for the quarter versus $1.5 billion last year.

October 29, 2019

Executives Not Prepared For Recession

Operations, supply chain, and finance functions were the first functions to be affected in the 2008 economic downturn. And, even though almost all of company executives (96 per cent) believe a recession will materialize over the next year, only eight per cent feel well-prepared for it, says a study from Russell Reynolds Associates, a leadership advisory and search firm. The study, ‘Preparing for economic uncertainty: Are your operations teams ready?’ says the need for preparation for a recession is necessary based on how companies have performed during previous recessions. Businesses need to look beyond just cost-cutting to pursue a balanced approach in order to recover more quickly following a recession, says the report. Russell Reynolds says business owners must first evaluate their operations, supply chain, and finance functions. Then, they should develop a plan, identify gaps in the team, and address those gaps with effective talent strategies, culture, and leadership. The disruption will require talent to be comfortable with agility and to be nimble, empowered to act, and be able to quickly respond.

CPCA, ACA To Update Category Rules

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) is working with the American Coatings Association (ACA) to develop sustainability programs, product category rules (PCRs), and sustainability reporting standards to stay aligned with green building standards as the industry continues to evolve. The ACA has developed a PCR for both architectural coatings and resinous floor coatings while continuing to explore other approaches on sustainability reporting in concert with members. As part of this ongoing effort, CPCA will seek to align efforts with that of ACA as it moves toward a robust sustainability reporting program to highlight the many strides made by the coatings industry with respect to sustainability. The organizations will come together for a webinar to discuss architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) VOC regulations at a webinar. The presenters include Gary LeRoux, president and CEO of CPCA and David Darling, vice-president, health, safety, and environmental affairs at ACA. It takes place November 14 from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information, visit CPCA

Tnemec Acquires Tex•Cote

Industrial and architectural protective coatings manufacturer Tnemec Company, Inc. has purchased the assets of Textured Coatings of America, Inc. (Tex•Cote). Established in 1961, Tex•Cote manufactures high-performance, water-based coatings for use on commercial and residential projects. Tnemec will provide Tex•Cote with operational and managerial support for growth within its current markets and customer base. The company has sales throughout North America and internationally to more than 23 countries. Tex•Cote’s products will now also be available through Tnemec. The company has representatives in the U.S., Canada, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and China.

Sobeys Pilots Intelligent Shopping Cart

Grocery store company Sobeys has launched an intelligent shopping cart – the Sobeys Smart Cart – at its Oakville, ON-based location. The Smart Cart is a technology-enhanced shopping cart that aims to reduce line-ups at in-store checkouts. The cart is able to scan and weigh products as customers place them in the cart, display a running tally of purchases while the customer shops, and allow customers to pay on the spot with the cart. Equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology, the cart will continually evolve to improve beyond a speedy checkout. The cart also has a screen which will eventually help customers navigate the store to complete a shopping list, highlight promotions, and make product suggestions. Going forward, the cart will evolve from scanning product to identifying product. It includes multiple high-resolution cameras that capture 120 images per second as product is placed in the cart, which allows the cart to learn how to identify each grocery item. Supported by the cart's sensitive weight measures, customers will eventually be able to toss their items into the cart without having to enter any information or scan barcodes.

Amazon.com Sales Up, Income Down

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $70 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 24 per cent over net sales of $56.6 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Operating income decreased to $3.2 billion in the quarter, compared with operating income of $3.7 billion in the year-ago period. Net income decreased to $2.1 billion compared with net income of $2.9 billion last year.

Canadian Restructuring Impacts Grainger Earnings

Grainger had sales of $2.9 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of four per cent versus sales of $2.8 billion in the third quarter of 2018. On a daily basis, sales were up 2.5 per cent. Gross profit margin was 37.3 per cent versus 38.1 per cent year-over-year. Operating earnings were $338 million for the quarter, up 78 per cent compared to $189 million in the year-ago period, while adjusted operating earnings were up two per cent. Operating margin was 11.4 per cent, up 48 basis points over last year. Net earnings were up 123 per cent to $233 million for the quarter compared to last year. The company says the 2019 results include restructuring, primarily in Canada, resulting in a negative $1 million impact to operating earnings.

October 28, 2019

Retail Sales Headed For 10-year Low

Canadian retail sales growth continues to weaken, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending in August, retail sales gained a mere one per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Year-to-date Canadian retail sales are up only 1.8 per cent compared to a year ago. Current trends imply things are going to get worse before they get better. The three-month sales growth trend continues to decline, while the underlying 12-month trend is at another new low. At current rates, retail sales growth in 2019 could end up at around 1.3 or 1.4 per cent, which would make it the worst year since 2009 and the so-called ‘Great Recession.’ Most of the bad news, however, is coming from the automotive and related sector, due to declining gasoline station sales combined with very modest growth at new car dealers. The food and drug sector has also gone into a funk in the last several months. Electronics and appliance stores’ retail sales were down 10.2 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending August. By comparison, the store merchandise sector is not doing too badly and is managing to keep its head above water. eCommerce sales were up 29.9 per cent year-over-year for the quarter. This was much higher than for location-based retail which gained just one per cent.

ASSA ABLOY Forms Divisional Structure

ASSA ABLOY Group is forming a divisional structure around four business segments to enable continued and accelerated growth of its entrance systems division. The four segments are pedestrian, industrial, residential, and perimeter security. Perimeter Security is currently part of the opening solutions Americas division and will be transferred to the entrance systems division to create new opportunities to scale up and potentially drive a global expansion. The business segments will be the highest responsible operational entities reporting to the division. This will increase the focus on the operation and enable further synergies within respective business segments. The changes are planned to take effect early 2020.

HBC To Go Private

Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) has, based on the unanimous recommendation of an independent special committee of its board of directors, entered into a definitive arrangement agreement with a group of HBC shareholders to take the company private. The common shares of HBC not held by the shareholder group (who collectively own approximately 57 per cent of the common shares of the company on an as-converted basis), will be purchased. The shareholder group comprises individuals and entities related to, or affiliated with, Richard A. Baker, governor and executive chairman of HBC; Rhône Capital L.L.C.; WeWork Property Advisors; Hanover Investments (Luxembourg) S.A.; and Abrams Capital Management, L.P.

U.S. Holiday Sales Forecast To Rise

U.S. retailers can look forward to another cheerful holiday season, says Deloitte in its ‘2019 Holiday Retail Survey.’ While some headwinds are forming, the average household is planning to spend nearly $1,500 this holiday. More than three-quarters of shoppers say they are likely to spend the same or more than last year. Sales are expected to grow by roughly five per cent over last year, with eCommerce sales for the season expected to grow by 14 to 18 per cent. Over two-thirds of holiday shoppers plan to research online and buy at least some gifts in-store. Nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to shop at online retailers this year; over half plan on visiting a mass merchant. These two formats have remained at the top for the last five years. With high spenders - those who plan to spend more than $2,100 - accounting for 60 per cent of this year’s total holiday spend, understanding them becomes a priority for retailers, says the survey. But across the board, quality, value, and convenience are still what attract consumers the most.

Sales Strong For Lawson Products

Lawson Products, Inc., a distributor of products and services to the MRO marketplace, had net sales of $94.8 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 7.1 per cent compared to net sales of $88.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. B.C.-based Bolt Supply House, which represents approximately 12 per cent of consolidated sales, increased 15 per cent over the prior-year quarter, reflecting strength across multiple product categories and new customers. Gross profit increased $2.5 million to $50.6 million compared to $48.1 million in the third quarter of 2018. Consolidated gross profit as a percentage of sales was 53.4 per cent compared to 54.3 per cent. Operating income for the quarter was $6.4 million compared to an operating loss of $2.3 million in the prior-year quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $10.3 million, up 40.9 per cent over the year-ago period.

Craftsman Rollout Drives Stanley B&D Sales

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.6 billion for the third quarter of 2019, up four per cent compared to net sales of $3.5 billion in the third quarter of 2018, due to positive contributions in volume, acquisitions, and price. The gross margin rate for the quarter was 34.3 per cent, down 120 basis points compared to the year-ago period. Net earnings were $231 million compared to $248 million last year. Sales in the tools and storage segment increased four per cent year-over-year, driven by the rollout of the Craftsman brand. Industrial sales increased 13 per cent year-over-year, and security sales declined four per cent.

October 25, 2019

Housing Market To Stabilize

The outlook for housing across Canada is forecast to stabilize over the next two years following two years of declines, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in its ‘2020 Housing Market Outlook.’ CMHC also forecasts income and population growth will support a rebound in home sales and prices. “Housing starts are projected to stabilize in 2020 and 2021 at levels in line with long-run averages,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist. “This follows two years of declines from elevated levels in 2017. Resale activity and house prices are expected to fully recover from recent declines." Before the rebound, however, housing starts are expected to register a second consecutive annual decline in 2019. Starts for single-detached and multi-unit housing types will remain below the peaks observed in 2017 (for single-detached starts) and 2018 (for multi-unit starts). Existing home sales are forecast to stay near their 2018 levels until the end of 2019. Home sales will increase in 2020 and 2021 offsetting the declines observed since 2016, reflecting household disposable income growth.

Internorm Adds Kingston Dealership

Internorm by NeuFenster, a European window company certified by the Passive House Standard and NFRC based in Laval, QC, has added a dealer in Kingston, ON. Cornerstone Building Supplies will provide sales and service for Internorm products in and around Kingston enhancing the manufacturer’s reach in Ontario. Mason Laframboise, owner of Cornerstone, founded the dealership because he felt there was a strong need in the region for a one-stop store for high-quality, premium products for contractors. NeuFenster offers a complete line of triple pane windows and doors, featuring Europe’s signature tilt-and-turn functionality.

Rev-A-Shelf Acquires Sidelines

Cabinet accessory manufacturer Rev-A-Shelf, LLC, has acquired Sidelines Inc., a manufacturer of organizational items for the closet, kitchen, and home. Sidelines, based in Arizona, was founded by Charles and Kris Costa as a company with a unique take on organizational items. Rev-A-Shelf is based in Kentucky and, through its subsidiary Tresco Lighting, offers a full line of LED lighting options for residential and commercial cabinetry and store display fixtures. Its primary markets are cabinet hardware distributors, large OEM cabinet manufacturers, home centres, and online resellers. The Sidelines products will be available through Rev-A-Shelf in the Canadian market.

Miller Appointed President Of Shop Vac

Felice A. Miller is president and chief operating officer of Shop Vac Corporation. Most recently, she was executive vice-president. She is the granddaughter of Shop Vac’s founder, Martin Miller.

Lumber Prices Decrease UFPI Sales

Universal Forest Products, Inc., soon to be known as UFP Industries, Inc., had net sales of $1.16 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of four per cent compared to net sales in the third quarter of 2018. Lower lumber prices contributed significantly to the gross sales reduction as selling prices were down by 11 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were up 26 per cent year-over-year to $51.9 million. Operating profit was up 24 per cent to $70.5 million and EBITDA was up 23 per cent to $89.7 million. New product sales were up seven per cent. The retail market segment had a one per cent decrease in sales year-over-year; the industrial segment had a six per cent decrease in sales; and the construction segment had a five per cent decrease in sales.

Curtailments Affect Canfor Sales

Canfor Corporation had net sales of $1.1 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease from net sales of $1.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The company had a net loss of $124 million compared to a net earnings of $201 million in the year-ago period. The decline reflected lower operating earnings in both the lumber and pulp and paper segments as well as substantial curtailments taken by both businesses during the quarter. Total lumber production was down 15 per cent compared to the second quarter and lumber shipments were down 16 per cent.

October 24, 2019

Wholesales Sales Retreat

Wholesale sales were down 1.2 per cent to $64.3 billion in August, largely offsetting the 1.4 per cent gain in July. Declines were recorded in five of seven subsectors, representing 85 per cent of wholesale sales, says Statistics Canada. In dollar terms, the machinery, equipment, and supplies; the personal and household goods; and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsectors contributed the most to the decline. In the machinery segment, the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry contributed the most to the downward movement. During the same period, imports of logging, construction, mining, and oil and gas field machinery and equipment also fell. Sales declined in every province except Alberta, representing 89 per cent of wholesale sales. Much of the decline was attributable to lower sales in Ontario and Quebec. Following 11 consecutive monthly gains, wholesale inventories declined 0.3 per cent to $93.4 billion in August. Decreases were recorded in five of seven subsectors, which together represented 70 per cent of total wholesale inventories. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.44 in July to 1.45 in August as declines in sales overshadowed those in inventories.

Matériaux Pont-Masson Opens Seventh Location

Matériaux Pont-Masson has opened its seventh location. The Ste-Clotilde-de-Chateauguay, QC, store will serve as a building materials and hardware retailer and a distribution centre (DC) for the other six stores. With the new DC, the chain can now offer more than 40,000 products in stock. The Ste-Clotilde location has a total surface area of 500,000 square feet including a 6,500-square-foot sales floor and 40,000-square-foot warehouse. Professional customers will have access to a wide range of services including dedicated contractor service with an extended schedule; delivery service with a fleet of over 60 trucks including two 91-foot boom trucks; complete engineering and assessment services; manufacturing of roof truss, beams, and pre-manufactured walls; and special orders.

PayPal Launches Small Business Loan In Canada

PayPal has launched its PayPal Business Loan in Canada, enabling small business owners to access loans between $5,000 and $100,000. The company says alternative loans have steadily grown from four per cent in 2013 to 24 per cent in 2018. At the same time, the alternative lending market in Canada grew by 159 per cent between 2016 and 2017. In Canada, the PayPal Business Loan is currently limited to select PayPal merchants who have been invited to apply. The company expects the program to be more widely available to Canadian PayPal business account holders in 2020. Beyond Canada, PayPal financing products are available in the U.S., UK, Australia, Germany, and in Mexico.

Norbord Announces Indefinite Line Curtailment

Norbord Inc. will indefinitely curtail production on line one of its two-line oriented strand board (OSB) mill in Cordele, GA, effective mid-November until further notice. Line one has been operating on a reduced 10/4 operating schedule since early September. Cordele line two will continue to operate on a full production schedule. The curtailment is due to continued poor market conditions and lower-than-anticipated OSB demand to-date. These conditions no longer support the economic operation of line one at this time. The indefinite curtailment will ensure Norbord continues to only produce what the company can sell, in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Built Green Recognizes Construction Waste Reduction Efforts

In recognition of ‘Waste Reduction Week,’ Built Green Canada acknowledges the integral role waste management plays in environmental sustainability, as well as those builders who have long chosen responsible waste reduction methods. Built Green Canada is a national, non-profit organization that offers third-party certified sustainable building programs. These programs take a holistic approach that includes energy efficiency and goes on to address six other critical aspects of sustainable building including materials and methods, water conservation, and waste management. In the residential building industry, waste management primarily refers to the handling of materials on the construction site. The Built Green programs encourage builders to reduce waste, reuse scrap materials, and recycle or donate what’s left over. Built Green also offers renovation programs, both single family and high density, to guide the industry through an environmentally friendly approach. As part of this, credit is offered for reuse of building materials, including building walls, floors, and roof structure - practices that result in high percentages of landfill diversion and offer another way to save through reduced landfill fees and fewer new materials.

Whirlpool Earnings Rise

Whirlpool Corporation had net earnings of $358 million (seven per cent of sales) for the third quarter of 2019, an increase compared to net earnings of $210 million (3.9 per cent of sales) in the third quarter of 2018. Net sales for the quarter were $5.1 billion compared to $5.3 billion in the year-ago period, a decrease of 4.4 per cent. Organic net sales increased 1.6 per cent. EBIT was $722 million, or 14.2 per cent of sales, compared to $275 million, or 5.2 percent of sales, in the same prior-year period. The North American segment sales increased 0.5 per cent year-over-year.

October 23, 2019

Retail Sales Edge Down

Sales in the retail trade sector edged down 0.1 per cent in August to $51.5 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in six subsectors, representing 51 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.2 per cent. Sales at food and beverage stores were down for the first time in three months, declining 0.8 per cent in August. After increasing five per cent in June, sales were down at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (0.5 per cent) for the second month in a row. Despite this decline, sales remain above the level observed in May. Retail sales in Ontario dipped 0.8 per cent in August; sales in Manitoba decreased 1.6 per cent; sales in British Columbia were up 0.8 per cent; and sales in New Brunswick were up 3.8 per cent. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.8 billion in August, accounting for 3.2 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 25 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.5 per cent.

Ontario Entrepreneur Recognized By eBay Canada

Nan Xu, of IHL, Canada has been recognized by eBay Canada as an ‘Entrepreneur of the Year.’ The award recognizes exceptional Canadian small businesses that are harnessing the opportunities of eBay's marketplace to reach new customers across the country and around the world. In 2014, Nan Xu joined Investments Hardware Limited (IHL Canada), a family-owned and -operated business established in 1985 in Woodbridge, ON, that specializes in the sale of power tools and building materials. He oversees its eCommerce department, and recognized an untapped opportunity for IHL Canada to stimulate global export growth using eBay. He redesigned the company's eBay store, which today includes more than 500 listings. To handle the growth in demand on eBay, Nan began using machine learning technology to transform order management, fulfillment, and customer services. Over the last five years, IHL has exponentially grown its exports to over 50 countries across the globe. The company’s eBay business is on track to triple in size this year.

Kent Chooses Fairstone For Financing Offering

Kent Building Supplies has selected Fairstone Financial Inc., a non-bank provider of lending solutions, to provide point-of-sale (POS) financing for retail purchases across the retailer’s 49 stores in Atlantic Canada. As part of its retail POS financing offering, Fairstone is also providing Kent with an automated, mobile, and digital financing platform which can reduce customer financing approval times.

Signify To Acquire Cooper Lighting Solutions

Lighting company Signify, which is based in the Netherlands, has entered into a definitive agreement with Eaton to acquire Cooper Lighting Solutions. Cooper Lighting Solutions, headquartered in the U.S. in Georgia, is a provider of professional lighting, lighting controls, and connected lighting. The business offers a large breadth of products and applications both in the indoor and outdoor segments, sold under brands in North America including Corelite, Halo, McGraw-Edison, and Metalux. The company sells its lighting portfolio through an agent network and has direct relationships with retailers, distributors, and other end-user customers. The acquisition aligns with Signify’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the North American market. The companies will maintain separate front offices, sales forces, agent networks, product and brand portfolios, and marketing and product development teams. The acquisition is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2020.

Volta Launches AI Robotic Mower

Italy-based Volta, a company that specializes in the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into traditional home appliances, has launched Mora, a robotic mower that operates without the need for a boundary system. The robotic mower requires no installation, digging, wiring, or beacons to guide its progress across a lawn. Instead, it deploys an AI-based autopilot to visually navigate the intricacies of the property and stay self-confined to the lawn. The unit’s autopilot recognizes and avoids obstacles – including edges, pets, garden tools, toys, and human body parts. It can even detect and avoid an object as thin as a towel laid on the grass. The company is actively pursuing the North American market.

Gammel Joins Atlas Engineered Products

Bill Gammel is vice-president of sales with Atlas Engineered Products (AEP). He has more than 30 year of experience as a business development specialist and entrepreneur in Canadian markets.

West Fraser Has Net Loss

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had net sales of $1,190 million in the third quarter of 2019, down from net sales of $1,646 million in the third quarter of 2018. The company had a net loss of $45 million which compares to net earnings of $238 million in the year-ago period. Lumber production was down three per cent over the second quarter while lumber shipments exceeded production by approximately 48MMfbm (million board feet).

October 22, 2019

Home Depot To Provide CRA With Customer Information

The Home Depot Canada has sent letters to customers who have commercial credit card accounts to notify them it is complying with the Canada Revenue Agency’s court order to provide information on commercial accounts such as business names, addresses, and purchase details from 2013 to 2016. As part of a crack down on the underground economy, the CRA has been requesting this information from a number of large home improvement retailers over the past three years. The Home Depot Canada fought the court order, but will provide the information to the CRA based on a federal court decision. The underground economy accounted for $51.6 billion in 2016 (Statistics Canada) or 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. Residential construction accounts for 28.3 per cent of that number; retail trade accounts for 13.5 per cent.

August Building Construction Investment Increases

Total investment in building construction increased 1.4 per cent in August to $15.5 billion, with gains in both the residential and non-residential sectors, says Statistics Canada. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction increased 1.2 per cent to $13 billion. Investment in residential building construction was up 1.8 per cent in August to $10.6 billion. The multi-unit component edged up 0.4 per cent to $5.3 billion, led by Ontario ($129.2 million). Investment in single-unit construction increased 3.2 per cent to $5.4 billion, slightly exceeding multi-unit residential investment. This was partly due to gains in Ontario ($94 million) and Alberta ($47.5 million). Non-residential investment was up 0.5 per cent to $4.9 billion. Both the commercial (0.8 per cent to $2.8 billion) and institutional (0.2 per cent to $1.1 billion) components edged up. The industrial component edged down 0.4 per cent to $905.4 million in August.

U.S. Remodeling Market Expected To Stall In 2020

Annual gains in U.S. homeowner spending for improvements and repairs are set to decline by the second half of next year, says the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that annual home improvement and maintenance expenditures will post a modest decline of 0.3 per cent through the third quarter of 2020. “Continued weakness in existing home sales and new construction will lead to sluggish remodeling activity next year,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Slowdowns in other key indicators of improvement spending - project permitting, sales of building materials, and home prices - also suggest the remodeling market may be reaching a turning point.” The centre says low mortgage interest rates, however, may help counter some of these headwinds, which could buoy home improvement spending over the coming year.

Retailers Must Become Privacy Conscious

With consumers at a greater risk for a data breach than ever before, it is more important than ever for retailers to become data-wise and privacy conscious, says a report by Deloitte. The ‘U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Study’ says nearly three in four consumers (71 per cent) are willing to share personal data if they receive better pricing, special discounts, or exclusive offers. And, consumers who are satisfied with privacy policies are more likely to be open or neutral about sharing personal data (73 per cent), compared to those who are unsatisfied or unaware (57 per cent). Deloitte says consumer privacy is at an inflection point in retail, with significant business, financial, and regulatory reasons for retailers to act now. Currently, nearly half of U.S. consumers feel they have little to no control of their personal data and the vast majority (86 per cent) believe they should be able to opt-out of the sale of their data. However, consumers are willing to share their personal information in return for benefits to them, but retailers should walk a fine line not to betray consumers' trust.

Samsung Partners With Mobeewave

Samsung Electronics has partnered with Mobeewave, a provider of contactless mobile card payment acceptance, to deploy NFC-enabled contactless payment acceptance on mobile devices worldwide. Over the past several months, the two companies have worked together on a pilot in Canada, testing Samsung POS, a mobile-based point-of-sale (POS) solution. Samsung POS enables merchants to accept debit and credit payments by tapping contactless cards, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay wallets onto Samsung NFC-enabled devices – without dongles, cables, or other additional hardware. The pilot generated over 10,000 downloads of Samsung POS, driven by transactions from micro-merchants and small businesses in a variety of industries. Merchants can download the Samsung POS app and go through a sign-up process within the app to register. The platform has been deployed first in Canada and the company plans to expand globally starting in 2020.

Hultafors To Acquire CLC

Sweden-based Hultafors Group will acquire California-based Custom LeatherCraft Manufacturing LLC (CLC). CLC designs, develops, and markets work gear, personal protective equipment, and outdoor gear. Its products include tool belts, softside tool carriers, kneepads, gloves, and other outdoor gear. The company’s products are marketed under the CLC brand in the U.S. and the Kuny’s Leather brand in Canada. The acquisition will allow Hultafors to strengthen its presence in North America, strengthen its product portfolio, and develop relationships with key customers within the distribution channel.

Armstrong Joins Ace

Kirk Armstrong is vice-president of distribution and supply chain innovation with Ace Hardware Corporation. Previously, he was senior vice-president, operations and supply chain, with Owens & Minor, a healthcare distributor.

Sales Up At WD-40

WD-40 Company had net sales of $106.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of four per cent compared to net sales of $102.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales for the Americas segment was $49.3 million compared to $49.7 million last year. Sales in the maintenance products segment increased four per cent to $97.3 million and sales in the homecare and cleaning products segment were flat at $9.5 million. Overall net income for the quarter was $8.6 million, a decrease of 60 per cent compared to $21.6 million last year, due to a tax adjustment. Gross margin was 54.6 per cent compared to 55.2 per cent.

October 21, 2019

Home Depot Canada, Walmart Canada Must Accept Settlement

Members of a class action have no right to appeal a court-approved settlement of the lawsuit, ruled the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The decision means the Home Depot Canada and Walmart Canada must accept the multi-million dollar agreement reached between plaintiffs, credit card companies Visa and Mastercard, and the banks that issue the cards. The case alleged that Visa, Mastercard, and 10 banks conspired since 2001 to fix, maintain, increase, or control certain fees for merchants that accept payment by credit card. Class actions were launched in cities across Canada which settled for more than $50 million. In 2018, the Superior Court of Ontario approved a settlement under which, among other things, Visa and Mastercard each agreed to pay $9.5 million to the plaintiff merchants. Neither company admitted liability. Home Depot Canada and Walmart Canada had objected calling the settlements unfair and not in the best interests of class members. In an effort to appeal, the companies argued that the agreements released the credit card companies from consequences for any future anti-competitive conduct. In rejecting the retailers' challenge, the court said that neither company was a representative plaintiff which makes litigation decisions on behalf of the class and bears the risks if the action fails.

Lowe’s Canada Celebrates Dealers

Lowe’s Canada took advantage of the ‘2020 RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show’ to celebrate several RONA and Ace dealers. The following dealers and suppliers were honoured during the evening gala: RONA Builder of Success program: Community category - RONA Ferronnerie Houle (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC); Up and Comer category - RONA Sonnenburg Hardware (Massey, ON); Lifetime Achievement category - RONA J. Anctil (Saint-Denis-de-Brompton, QC). Celebrated in the Ace Canada Builder of Success program were: Community category - Ace Victory Building Supplies (Mackenzie, BC); Up and Comer category - Ace Leader (Leader, SK); Lifetime Achievement category - Ace Building Centre Vanderhoof (Vanderhoof, BC). Years as a RONA dealer: 25 years - RONA Centre de rénovation Senneterre (Senneterre, QC), RONA Centre de rénovation St-Patrick (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Hemmingford inc. (Hemmingford, QC), RONA Quincaillerie de Lacolle inc. (Lacolle, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Poulin Lussier et filles (Saint-Odilon, QC), RONA Quincaillerie S.C. Roy (Saint-Ephrem-de-Beauce, QC); 30 years - RONA Quincaillerie R-Cube inc. (Wakefield, QC); RONA Quincaillerie Charleroi (Montreal, Quebec); 35 years - RONA Quincaillerie Gauvin (L’ancienne-Lorette, QC); RONA Gestion Berlaber inc. (La Malbaie, QC); 40 years - RONA Quincaillerie Delorimier inc. (Montreal, QC); 45 years - RONA Quincaillerie Notre-Dame St-Henri (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Turbo inc. (Cap-aux-Meules, QC), RONA Bernard Breton inc. (Saint-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage, QC), RONA Matériaux Audet (Quebec, QC), and RONA Julien & Frères (Baie-Comeau, QC); 50 years - RONA Quincaillerie Saint-Camille-de-Lellis (Saint-Camille-de-Lellis, QC); 55 years - RONA Quincaillerie Crémazie inc. (Quebec, QC); 60 years - RONA J. St-Cyr & Frères Ltée (Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Camel, QC); 65 years - RONA Iberville (Ferronnerie Houle) (Iberville, QC), RONA Quincaillerie Jean Hebert inc. (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie C. Bélanger Ltée (Montreal, QC), RONA Quincaillerie du Plateau (Montreal, QC); 80 years - RONA Marché Gosselin Tradition (Frelighsburg, QC), RONA Quincaillerie J.R. Grégoire (Montreal, QC); Ace eCommerce Awards: eCommerce Achievement Award - Silver: Kaslo Ace Building Centre (Kaslo, BC), Quincaillerie Ace Arthur Rivest (Sainte-Julienne, QC), Victory Ace Building Centre (Mackenzie, BC); eCommerce Achievement Award - Gold: Ace Peel Hardware & Supply (Caledon, ON), Ed’s Ace Building Centre (Fort Nelson, BC); eCommerce Achievement Award - Diamond: AMS Ace Building Centre (Queen Charlotte, BC); Best eCommerce Performance Award - Eastern Canada: Quincaillerie Ace Arthur Rivest (Sainte-Julienne, QC); Central Canada: Ace Peel Hardware & Supply (Caledon, ON); Western Canada: AMS Building Centre (Queen Charlotte, British Columbia); Best National Performance – AMS Building Centre (Queen Charlotte, BC); eCommerce Retailer of the Year Award - Eastern Canada – Quincaillerie Ace Matériaux P.A. (Les Cèdres, QC); Central Canada – Grafton Ace Country & Garden (Grafton, ON); Western Canada – Kaslo Ace Building Centre (Kaslo, BC); Supplier of the Year ??? Soprema

U.S. September Construction Starts Decrease

New construction starts moved five per cent lower in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $774.1 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. This marks the second consecutive monthly decline in construction starts. By major sector, non-building construction fell 13 per cent in September, while residential construction dropped six per cent. On the plus side, non-residential construction starts rose one per cent during the month aided by the start of a large manufacturing project. The September statistics pushed the index lower to 164 compared to 173 in August, marking the lowest reading since May. Despite the month’s decline, the index remains close to its 2019 average of 167. Year-to-date through September, non-residential building starts totalled $215 billion, a four per cent decline from the first nine months of 2018. Commercial starts were six per cent higher pushed forward by the office, warehouse, and parking categories. Institutional construction starts were down three per cent through nine months, with all major categories posting setbacks. Manufacturing starts were a sharp 39 per cent lower year-to-date. Residential construction starts were six per cent lower than in the same period of 2018; single family starts were down four per cent, while multi-family declined 11 per cent year-to-date.

Homeowners Want To Upgrade Homes

Most U.S. homeowners expect to make improvements to their property in the next year to build their home’s value, says a survey by Chase Home Lending. The survey says 80 per cent of homeowners anticipate taking on a home improvement project. More than 70 per cent plan to do at least some of the work themselves, though some may tap into professionals when necessary. Motivations for upgrading homes include adding value, creating a comfortable space for family and hosting, and feeding a hobby of DIY/home improvement. Fifty-eight per cent of homeowners planning a renovation foresee spending up to $10,000 on a project; 21 per cent foresee projects of $10,000 to $25,000; and another 21 per cent aimed high, planning to spend at least $25,000. While some plan to use cash and savings for their home projects, many others are looking at a mix of savings, credit cards, and leveraging their property value through a home equity line of credit or cash-out refinance.

J.D. Irving To Close Baker Brook Sawmill

J.D. Irving will close its Baker Brook, NB, sawmill as of November 1. The company says a decline in cedar supply and weak markets for byproducts such as wood chips, shavings, and sawdust are behind the decision. The sawmill has been operated by J.D. Irving since 2006 and produces cedar boards.

Mueller Joins Big Lots

Andrej Mueller is executive vice-president of business strategy at Big Lots, Inc. Previously, he was with Boston Consulting Group, most recently as managing director and partner in its Germany office.

PPG Has Consistent Third Quarter

PPG had net sales of approximately $3.8 billion for the third quarter of 2019, consistent with net sales for the third quarter of 2018 and up two per cent in constant currencies year-over-year. Net income from continuing operations was $366 million compared to $368 million in the year-ago period. The performance coatings segment had net sales of $2.3 billion for the quarter, up one per cent over last year, with constant currency sales up three per cent. Year-over-year organic sales in architectural coatings increased slightly, with modest increases in the U.S. and Canada although same store sales were down in these regions. The industrial coatings segment third quarter net sales were $1.5 billion, down one per cent year-over-year.

October 18, 2019

Dealers Gather For Annual Buying Show

The ‘2020 RONA and Ace Canada Buying Show,’ presented by Lowe’s Canada, brought together roughly 300 RONA and Ace dealer owners and 330 suppliers, including numerous suppliers from across Canada. The two-day event allowed affiliated dealers from the Lowe’s Canada network to discover new offerings available on the market and plan their purchases for the next 12 months. It was also an opportunity for them to attend conferences, participate in workshops, and meet various partners and players in the industry, including the Well Made Here team, which took the opportunity to inform visitors of its program aimed at making it easier to identify products made in Canada. This year’s show featured a vast selection of seasonal products with the latest outdoor living trends including barbecues and outdoor power equipment. Another show standout was the flooring and lighting zone which presented new merchandising designed to adapt to various store formats and optimize the performance of these two product categories. Lowe’s Canada philanthropic partners, Opération Enfant Soleil/ Children’s Miracle Network and the Charles-Bruneau Foundation, had a booth at the showroom entrance to meet dealers and encourage them to join the 2020 campaigns. The show also celebrated the 80-year anniversary of the RONA banner by honouring two dealers that have been affiliated with RONA since 1939: RONA Quincaillerie J. R. Grégoire in Montreal, QC, and RONA Marché Gosselin Tradition in Frelighsburg, QC. The buying show concludes at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Quebec on October 18.

Strong Growth Forecast For Paints And Coatings Market

The global paints and coatings market is projected to grow from US$153.9 billion in 2019 to $199.9 billion by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4 per cent between 2019 and 2024, says a report from Markets and Markets. The increasing urban population is a significant factor for the rising demand for building and construction, automotive, and packaging. However, stringent government regulations in the paints and coatings industry are hampering the growth of the solvent borne coatings market. The waterborne technology segment is expected to hold the largest share of the overall paints and coatings market during the forecast period. This segment accounted for the largest share of the overall paints and coatings market in 2018 and is expected to grow on the backbone of the building and construction industry, which is anticipated to witness good growth, mainly in the developing countries. The paints and coatings market in the architectural end-use industry is expected to witness the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Increase in environmental awareness has led to innovations in the coating industry to provide affordable quality products, of high quality, possess value-added features, and meet global trends.

Men To Lead Holiday Spending

Canadians will spend an average of $1,593 for the 2019 holiday season, up 1.9 per cent from $1,563 in 2018, says the ‘PwC Canada's Holiday Outlook’ report. Eight out of 10 Canadians plan to spend the same or more this holiday season and they are likely to focus the majority of their spending on family ($869), followed by indulging themselves with a few gifts ($537), gifts for friends ($118), pets ($40), and others ($29). There is a significant difference in the amount that men plan to spend compared to women. Men are expected to spend $1,820 this year on gifts, travel, and entertainment, while women are expected to spend $1,384 on the same things. Early November remains the most popular time to start holiday shopping. In terms of getting the best deals, 38 per cent of Canadians say Black Friday is the best time to get deals. Shoppers will shop with retailers they trust and have loyalty programs and where they can get a good deal. Canadians plan to spend 41 per cent of their holiday shopping time online, up four per cent from last year, but the bulk is still done in-store (59 per cent). Home delivery remains the most popular method of delivery with 56 per cent of Canadians opting for convenience.

Interac Debit Expands eCommerce Footprint

Interac Corp.’s Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Payments with Apple Pay and Google Pay has expanded its eCommerce footprint. Canadians already use Interac Debit on Apple Pay or Google Pay for in-store purchases at merchants across the country. Expanding the eCommerce footprint means more Canadians can make mobile payments within apps and websites. This service is promoted by ATB, Canada's Credit Unions, Coast Capital, Desjardins, and National Bank, as well as acquirer Moneris, over the last year. Scotiabank and Tangerine have also joined, along with acquirer Everlink, to offer eCommerce solutions to the Canadian market. Interac Debit cardholders from these financial institutions can make in-app and in-browser purchases from participating merchants.

HDI Acquires Pacific Mutual Door

British Columbia-based Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) plans to acquire substantially all of the assets and assume certain liabilities of Pacific Mutual Door Company. Pacific is a wholesale distributor of interior and exterior doors, custom millwork, and other ancillary building products. It operates five facilities in the U.S. and has a customer base that includes general contractors, builders, distributors, and professional dealers. Pacific has been in operation for over 100 years and is a significant distributor in the markets it serves. The acquisition provides HDI with an entry point into the Tennessee and Kansas markets with minimal customer overlap and alignment of key supplier relationships.

Bruce Vice-president Of Sales

Matt Bruce is vice-president of sales with MoistureShield, a division of Oldcastle APG, a CRH Company. He comes from Royal Building Products and brings over 20 years of building materials management, operations, and sales experience to the role.

Acquisition Drives Watsco Revenues

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) product distributor Watsco, Inc. had revenues of $1.39 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of eight per cent over revenues of $1.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Gross profit was $335 million compared to $319 million in the year-ago period. Operating profit for the quarter increased two per cent year-over-year to $125 million and one per cent on a same-store basis. The company had an operating margin of nine per cent and same-store operating margin was 9.2 per cent versus 9.4 per cent last year. Net income was $83 million versus $79 million. In August, the company acquired Peirce-Phelps, Inc., one of the largest HVAC distributors in North America.

October 17, 2019

September Home Sales Rise Again

Home sales advanced for the seventh consecutive month in September, raising them to 18 per cent above the six-year low reached in February, but leaving them about eight per cent below highs reached in 2016 and 2017, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Activity was up in slightly more than half of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver (GVA) and the Fraser Valley, which together constitute the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 15.5 per cent year-over-year, reflecting the combination of slow sales in September 2018 and a rebound in activity this year. Transactions were up from year-ago levels in all of Canada's largest urban markets, including the Lower Mainland of British Columbia; Calgary and Edmonton, AB; Winnipeg, MB; the Greater Toronto area (GTA), Hamilton-Burlington, and Ottawa, ON; and Montreal, QC. The number of newly listed homes edged back by 0.6 per cent. The small increase in sales combined with the small decline in new supply tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 61.3 per cent in September. This measure has been increasingly rising above its long-term average of 53.6 per cent. At this point, this measure remains in balanced market territory, but is favouring sellers more than buyers.

Lowe’s Canada Denies Rumours

Several Quebec media outlets have reported that Lowe’s Canada plans to transfer 200 IT jobs to India. Contrary to these reports, Lowe’s Canada says in a statement that it has no plan to transfer 200 information technology jobs from Longueuil, QC, to India. Lowe’s Canada says these rumours are unduly worrying numerous employees at the organization's head office on the South Shore of Montreal.

Consumers Relying On Digital Media Platforms

Consumers in large part are leaving traditional media and websites behind, with 77 per cent placing significant weight on a retailer’s visibility and accuracy across digital media platforms, says a study by Synup, the Intent Marketing Cloud. The ‘State of Retail 2019’ report says consumers also rely on business content, with 94 per cent saying real-time product inventory is critical when choosing a retailer. As well, user-generated ratings and reviews play a major role in customer acquisition, with 82 per cent of consumers saying they would not choose a business with a rating of fewer than three stars on media channels like Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Nearly a third (29 per cent) require a rating of four or more stars to consider a retailer. “Retailers have known for a long time that they’re being discovered primarily via mobile searches, but this study shows that they haven’t done enough to keep up with this shift in consumer behaviour,” says Brett House, senior vice-president of growth. “Increasingly, customers are discovering local businesses across media including traditional search engines, voice search, social media, review sites, and map apps. Despite that reality, the data shows that retailers still have a lot to do if they want to manage their presence, reputation, and content on these platforms, otherwise, they’re at risk of losing substantial business.”

Trade Tensions Affect U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales in September were down 0.1 per cent seasonally adjusted from August, but up 4.5 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Building materials and garden supply stores sales were up 2.5 per cent year-over-year, but down one per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted. “The pullback in September compared with August is possibly a reaction to increased fears over U.S.-China tensions,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist with NRF. “While uncertainty around trade policy and other issues has dampened consumer sentiment recently, consumers still have a lot going for them as evidenced by longer-term trends and factors like the tight labour market.” As of September, the three-month moving average was up 4.9 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.1 per cent in August. September’s results build on gains of 0.5 per cent month-over-month and 4.7 per cent year-over-year in August.

Laguna Tools Expands Industrial Division

Laguna Tools has is expanding the line of professional industrial woodworking machinery products. Over a decade ago, the company expanded its product line to include the CNC division, which has expanded to include CO2 lasers, fibre lasers, and plasma machines. Around this same time, it also created a wholesale network and developed an entire line that was designed specifically for the high-end hobbyist and light industrial market. Laguna has lowered the price of every industrial machine in the line and has also created an online ordering system. The products are also available at dealers.

PGT Innovations Launches Innovation Lab

Window and door manufacturer PGT Innovations has opened its 24,500-square-foot iLab, an extension of the business that serves as a product incubator and micro-factory. Located in North Venice, FL, the iLab team will provide window and door solutions to customers with projects that require new and inventive features, custom needs, or one-of-a-kind products. Departments within the iLab span from design engineering and code compliance to testing and the production factory. Operations include creating prototypes, developing initial product builds, and, if needed, assisting in setting up mass-production plans for products. To date, the iLab has introduced a bi-fold door, a lift-and-slide door, and a pivot door to the marketplace. The product designs and enhancements seen in these three doors incorporate the features most requested by homeowners. After their launch, the products were added to the product portfolio of WinDoor, PGT Innovations’ luxury brand.

Furner To Head Walmart U.S.

John Furner will be president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., effective November 1. He has been with the company since 1993 and is currently chief executive officer of Sam’s Club.

October 16, 2019

Second Quarter Retail Sales Grow

Retail sales in Canada reached $163.3 billion in the second quarter of 2019, up 1.4 per cent from the same quarter of 2018. Sales were up in 13 of 19 commodity groupings. The largest increase in dollar terms came from food, which posted a year-over-year growth of 3.5 per cent. Hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden product sales were up 1.9 per cent year-over-year to $13.3 billion. The largest contributor to the increase was home lawn and garden equipment and supplies (8.2 per cent). Home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics sales were up 1.6 per cent to $12.7 billion.

Three Drivers Impacting Consumer Behaviour

Technology, customization, and sustainability are the three significant drivers impacting consumer behaviour, says research by Euromonitor International. By the end of 2019, 72 per cent of the global household population will own at least one smartphone, making technology a key driver of consumer behaviour. Intertwined with technology, customization is the second driver reinventing shopping experiences. Euromonitor’s white paper, ‘2019 Megatrends: State of Play,’ says consumers are increasingly seeking a personalized purchasing journey and retailers are altering the concept of shopping by integrating technologies like artificial intelligence, 5G, and social media into the consumer experience. As well, with 65 per cent of global consumers prioritizing the need to make a positive impact on the environment, sustainability is the final driver. As consumer activism rapidly rises, governments worldwide are committing towards sustainable growth and challenging corporations to offer sustainable solutions.

Over $1 Million Raised For Heroes Campaign

Lowe's Canada says its ‘2019 Heroes Campaign’ was a success. From September 1 to 30, roughly 270 Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores across Canada raised funds to help a non-profit organization or public school of their choice - heroes in their communities - fulfill its mission or carry out a specific project. Lowe's Canada matched 50 per cent of all donations, up to a maximum of $2,000 per store. Thanks to employee initiatives, customer generosity, and corporate donations, more than $1.2 million will be distributed to over 245 community organizations. This is the second year in a row that the total amount given back as part of the campaign exceeded $1 million. Among the partner organizations, over 15 will be receiving more than $10,000.

Polishers Are Lightweight And Cordless

DEWALT has launched two polishers; automotive specialty tools that add to the manufacturer’s lineup of 20V MAX tools. The tools include the 20V MAX XR 7-inch (180mm) Variable Speed Rotary Polisher (DCM849) and the 20V MAX XR 5-inch (125mm) Variable Speed Random Orbit Polisher (DCM848). Cordless automotive tools not only offer convenience both in the shop and in remote work areas, but also help to prevent damage to work by not having power cords drag across surfaces. The 7-inch Variable Speed Rotary Polisher features a variable speed trigger and dial and a side and bail handle. It weighs 4.7 pound and is 16 inches long. The 5-inch Variable Speed Random Orbit Polisher features a variable speed trigger and dial and a gripping area and side handle. It weighs 5.7 pounds and is 17-1/8 inches long.

Banyard Leads MasterBrand Cabinets

David Banyard is president, MasterBrand Cabinets, with Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc., effective November 18. He joins the company from Myers Industries, Inc., where he led the transformation of that business as president and chief executive officer.

Reduced Demand Impacts JELD-WEN Revenues

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. had net revenues of approximately $1.09 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 3.9 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $110 million for the quarter, compared to $132.6 million in the same period a year ago. The company says third quarter results were lower than expected in North America and Australasia, primarily related to reduced demand in residential new construction channels and the impact of continued erratic order patterns in North America windows retail channel.

October 15, 2019

People Leave Managers

There's some truth to the saying, ‘people leave managers, not companies.’ About two in five professionals surveyed in Canada (39 per cent) have quit a job due to a bad boss, says research from Robert Half. "Managers set the tone for the office and have a considerable amount of influence over the daily experiences and satisfaction of their employees - for better or worse," says David King, senior district director for Robert Half. Bad bosses can cause employees to leave for a variety of reasons. Employees often need quick input and decisions from leaders to move forward with projects. Staff who can't count on a timely reply are likely to be continually frustrated and may eventually seek greener pastures. Bosses who require constant updates and give overly detailed directions on how work should be done can exasperate employees. It also shows workers that you don't believe they can make good decisions on their own. As well,those managers on the other end of the scale - the ones who provide vague direction or leave tough decisions to other people all the time - are another reason why good employees leave. Workers want a leader who leads and offers insight they may not have, not someone who just occupies an office.

KUSTOMWORX Rebrands To GKS

KUSTOMWORX, a division of Gentec International, has rebranded to GKS or Gentec Kustom Solutions. The change is to better describe and represent its brands in the custom install and B2B categories. The new name incorporates ‘Gentec,’ the parent company, and ‘solutions,’ to provide a definitive description for this separate division.

Venngo Launches Perk Program For SMBs

Venngo has launched a perk program specifically tailored for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). WorkPerks is a fully managed perk program to elevate the employee experience. The benefit program comprises of thousands of exclusive discounts from famous brands and local stores across Canada. These offers are redeemable online as well as in-store at over 12,000 locations. The program has also been offered to CIBC business clients since May in co-ordination with the launch of CIBC SmartBanking for Business. Venngo is a North American provider of private group discount programs.

Rosy Hue Named Benjamin Moore’s 2020 Colour   

‘First Light 2102-70’ is Benjamin Moore’s colour of the year for 2020. This soft, rosy hue is a fresh approach to the new decade on the horizon. The colour was chosen “to represent a new dawn of idealism, design, and living,” says Andrea Magno, director of colour marketing and development. “First Light reflects a new definition of the home – a shift in mindset from the material to satisfying the core needs in life: community, comfort, security, self-expression, authenticity, and, ultimately, optimism.” Other hues that are part of the ‘Colour Trends 2020’ palette include ‘White Heron,’ ‘Crystalline,’ ‘Windmill Wings,’ ‘Buxton Blue,’ and ‘Golden Straw.’

Gottstein Joining Whirlpool

Holger Gottstein will be senior vice-president of strategy and business development at Whirlpool Corporation, effective January 1. He will join the company from Boston Consulting Group, where he serves as managing director and senior partner.

Sales Up For Fastenal

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,379 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 7.8 per cent over net sales of $1,280 in the third quarter of 2018. Sales of fastener products grew three per cent on a daily basis year-over-year and represented 33.7 per cent of sales. Sales of non-fastener products grew eight per cent on a daily basis and represented 66.3 per cent of sales. Gross profit, as a percentage of net sales, declined 90 basis points to 47.2 per cent in the quarter from 48.1 per cent last year. Net earnings were $214 million, up eight per cent over net earnings of $198 million in the year-ago period.

Home Show Changes Name

The ‘International Home + Housewares Show’ has changed its name to ‘The Inspired Home Show.’ Consumers are no longer content to purchase individual product based only on price and functionality; they are creating lifestyles that reflect their individuality, where they can find joy, contentment, and fulfillment, says the company. The show connects buyers to sellers and also product to lifestyle and the new name reflects this. It takes place March 14 to 17 in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit The Inspired Home Show

October 11, 2019

MasonLift Creates Crane Dealer Network With Atlas Polar

MasonLift Ltd., a British Columbia-based forklift sales and service provider, has partnered with Atlas Polar Company Ltd., a truck-mounted sales and service provider based in Ontario, to create an authorized sales and service dealer network for HIAB cranes, Moffett forklifts, and Multilift Hooklifts in British Columbia. ML-Truck Equipment Ltd., will launch December 11. The company will be based in Abbotsford, BC, and supported by MasonLift service locations across the province. MasonLift will continue to provide sales, rentals, and certified, factory-trained service to forklift customers in British Columbia through its 10 service centres and will provide the certified service for HIAB brands. ML-Truck-Equipment will specialize in truck-mounted equipment and will be the sole authorized dealer for HIAB, Moffett, and Multilift in British Columbia.

Consumers Continue To Favour Physical Stores For Holiday Shopping

ICSC forecasts a 4.9 per cent increase in U.S. holiday spending over last year, with 90 per cent of shoppers spending in physical stores, says a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The annual ‘Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey’ says that consumers are optimistic about the upcoming holiday season and continue to favour physical stores when shopping for gifts. “Consumers expect convenience and experience when shopping which means that those retailers with a good omnichannel strategy will likely see success this holiday season,” says Tom McGee, president and chief executive officer of ICSC. The majority of holiday shopping will take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. In fact, 86 per cent of shoppers plan to complete their shopping during that time period. Additionally, almost 60 per cent of holiday shoppers plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend with that number jumping to 73 per cent for Millennial shoppers. Again this year, promotions will drive in-store visits, with over 60 per cent of shoppers saying that searching for deals encourages them to make more trips to physical stores.

2019 U.S. Holiday Sales To Beat 2018

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects U.S. holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent over 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants, compare with an average holiday sales increase of 3.7 per cent over the previous five years. NRF expects online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 11 per cent and 14 per cent to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion, up from $146.5 billion last year. The effect of tariffs on holiday spending – either directly or through consumer confidence – remains to be seen. Some holiday merchandise – including apparel, footwear, and televisions – is subject to new tariffs that took effect September 1, and other products will have the tariffs applied on December 15. Retailers are using a myriad of mitigation tactics to limit the impact on consumers and the impact will ultimately vary by company and product. Small businesses, in particular, have already been forced to raise prices. Nonetheless, 79 per cent of consumers surveyed for NRF in September were concerned that tariffs will cause prices to rise, potentially affecting their approach to shopping.

WernerCo Relocates U.S. Headquarters

Fall protection equipment, storage systems, and light duty construction equipment manufacturer and distributor WernerCo has moved its U.S. headquarters from Greenville, PA, to Itasca, IL. The move will accommodate for future growth of its portfolio of global brands including Werner Ladder, KNAACK, and WEATHER GUARD. The company is bringing together cross-functional executive team members, corporate staff, and leadership from engineering, product development, and marketing to the new location. The company says with the move, it will be well-positioned to accommodate future growth. WernerCo has more than 5,000 employees and a global manufacturing footprint with 14 sites including warehousing, sales, distribution, and office facilities in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Germany, and the UK.

‘Pacific Wave’ Owen Corning’s 2020 Shingle Colour

‘Pacific Wave,’ a calming and serene yet strong and powerful blue colour, is the ‘2020 Shingle Colour of the Year,’ says Owens Corning. The colour is part of the company’s TruDefinition Duration Designer Colours Collection. The proprietary shingle collection integrates unique combinations of saturated colours for a rich, high-contrast dimensional effect bringing depth and style to the home’s roof. The 2020 colour was inspired by the deep, powerful, and constantly shifting hues of the ocean. Pale blue mixed with dark and light gray granules add dimension that can achieve a relaxed, coastal vibe or a strong, stately look. To celebrate the announcement, Owens Corning Roofing has added three new style boards featuring Pacific Wave as the central design element.

Howald Directs Investor Relations

Aaron Howald is director, investor relations, with Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP). Previously, he served as senior manager of the Thomas Group, a management consulting firm.

October 10, 2019

September Housing Starts Trend Higher

The trend in housing starts was 223,507 units in September, compared to 218,782 units in August, 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. Higher trending single-detached starts in urban centres since July, following several months of declines combined with higher-trending multi-family units in September, pushed the total starts trend to its highest level since April 2018. Starts trended higher in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Vancouver, BC; Edmonton, AB; Saskatoon, SK; Kingston, Toronto, and Ottawa, ON; Quebec City and Trois-Rivières, QC; and the province of New Brunswick. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 221,202 units in September, down 2.5 per cent from 226,871 units in August. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 2.4 per cent to 208,503 units, multiple urban starts decreased slightly by 0.2 per cent to 159,742 units, and single-detached urban starts decreased by 9.2 per cent to 48,761 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,699 units.

Canadian Tire To Take On Dragons’ Den Products

Canadian Tire is surprising two Dragons' Den entrepreneurs with the chance of a lifetime, it will be fast-tracking their products into all of its stores nationwide. The retailer, which sponsors the program, says this is an opportunity that presents a unique challenge for a small business owner. Normally, getting a product on Canadian Tire shelves takes a year and that's after it meets the retailer's criteria and undergoes considerable scrutiny. The product, or suite of products, must meet a unique Canadian need or be an improvement upon something that is already available, says Greg Hicks, president of retail at Canadian Tire. As well, the product must complement the other merchandise in the stores at the time of year it is stocked. Going forward, the retailer plans to refine the process to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get products into its stores.

Home Improvement Projects Worth Cost And Time

Homeowners who decide to undergo a home improvement project, whether it be interior or exterior modifications, often find that the task was worth the investment and time, says a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) with insights from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). After completing a remodeling project, 74 per cent of U.S. homeowners have a greater desire to be in their home, 65 per cent say they experience increased enjoyment, and 77 per cent feel a major sense of accomplishment, says the survey. Additionally, 58 per cent report a feeling of happiness when they see their completed projects, while 38 per cent say they have a feeling of satisfaction. The most satisfying projects to complete are kitchen and closet renovations, followed closely by a full interior paint job, a new fibreglass front door, and new vinyl windows. The top projects for recovering cost are new roofing, hardwood floor refinishing, and new hardwood floor installation.

LP Invests In Prefinishing Capabilities

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) has acquired the prefinishing assets at an Illinois prefinish facility owned by BlueLinx. “The prefinish siding market continues to grow and we aim to capture more of that growth in our siding business,” says Neil Sherman, executive vice-president for siding at LP. “In addition to acquiring these new assets, we are also investing in building LP SmartSide strand prefinishing capabilities at our siding facility in Roaring River, NC. These moves, along with the earlier purchase of a prefinishing company in Green Bay, WI, will provide us with the facilities, capabilities, and expertise to grow this market.” The acquisition aligns with LP’s business strategy to provide building solutions and is a significant step toward its goal of launching a national LP SmartSide Trim & Siding branded prefinished siding solution.

Upspring PR Named Ethan Allen AOR

UpSpring PR has been named the agency of record (AOR) for home furnishing retailer and manufacturer Ethan Allen. Ethan Allen is also an interior design company and sells a full range of indoor and outdoor furniture products, flooring, lighting, and decorative accessories nationally through ethanallen.com, regionally at Ethan Allen stores throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, and a network of roughly 300 design centres throughout North America. UpSpring PR is a public relations firm for the design, architecture, and real estate industries.

One-piece Header/Jam Reduces Labour

Bailey Metal Products Inc.’s RedHeader PRO is a one-piece header and jamb for window and door openings that replaces conventional boxed headers and built-up jambs which require multiple studs, tracks, and screws and need assembly. It reduces labour by reducing the number of wall framing components required and uses only four screws with pre-punched screw holes to install. It can be used for exterior wall headers and jambs and interior non-load bearing headers and jambs.

Tritton To Lead BB&B

Mark J. Tritton is president and chief executive officer at Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., effective November 4. He has more than 30 years of experience in the retail industry, most recently as executive vice-president and chief merchandising officer at Target Corporation.

October 9, 2019

Building Permit Value Rises

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities rose 6.1 per cent to $9 billion in August, largely because of increases in multi-family and industrial permits, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in seven provinces, with over one-third of the national increase in Quebec. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose in every province, except Nova Scotia, increasing 18.8 per cent to $3.3 billion in August. Over half of these gains were in British Columbia, largely because of a high-value permit in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver. The value of permits for single-family dwellings rose 3.2 per cent to $2.4 billion nationally, led by Ontario. Industrial permits were the only component in the non-residential sector to increase in value, rising 18.9 per cent to $675 million. The increase was largely due to a high-value permit for a bio-pharmaceutical company in Toronto. The value of commercial permits declined 5.9 per cent to $1.9 billion, following gains in July. Quebec showed some strength in the commercial component ($73 million) despite the national decrease.

September Dodge Momentum Index Posts Gain

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 4.1 per cent higher in September to 143.6 from the revised August reading of 137.9. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential U.S. building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The gain in September was due entirely to an 8.9 per cent increase in the commercial component, while the institutional component fell 4.8 per cent. For the third quarter, the overall index averaged 140.1, a scant increase of 0.7 per cent from its average in the previous quarter. Compared to the third quarter of 2018, however, it is 8.6 per cent lower with the commercial component 3.7 per cent lower than a year ago and the institutional component down 16.2 per cent. While the dollar volume of projects in planning is certainly lower than it was a year ago, the index has moved more sideways than downward over the last two quarters.

ShopperArmy.ca Campaign Supports Cancer Society

Cash back website ShopperArmy.ca has launched a charitable event, 'Shop For The Cure,' a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) taking place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. When shopping on the site with one of 70 retail partners, customers can donate their cash back rewards to the CCS. As well, ShopperArmy.ca is donating all earnings to the CCS during the campaign. Exclusive bonus offers and savings for ShopperArmy.ca members will also be offered throughout the month by other major brands and retailers such as Houzz, Canadian Tire, Wayfair, Vistaprint, FTD, and more. The option to donate some or all of the cash back earnings is now available all year.

Epicor Acquires 1 EDI Source

Epicor Software Corporation has acquired 1 EDI Source, Inc., a provider of electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions and business visibility software. 1 EDI Source has over 30 years of experience providing EDI software solutions to automate and integrate B2B transactions. It offers cloud and on-premise solutions that enable the delivery of secure and EDI-compliant transactional documents between trading partners directly to ERP systems and supply-chain applications. The addition of 1 EDI Source to the Epicor product portfolio provides a single comprehensive EDI platform delivered either as a standalone offering or a fully managed service, allowing customers the flexibility to choose the best option to fit their business needs.

October 8, 2019

International Consumers Want Canadian Brands

There is an opportunity for retailers in overseas markets to capitalize on increased consumer demand for Canadian brands and products and increase sales. While 71.5 per cent of Canadian exports went to the U.S. in 2018, consumer demands are increasingly coming from elsewhere, says a report by PwC Canada. "Consumers in overseas markets aren't necessarily familiar with Canadian companies. If a brand isn't doing enough to identify themselves as Canadian, a customer might recognize a brand name without realizing it's Canadian," says Anita McOuat, Canada national leader, technology, media and telecom (TMT) and consumer markets with PwC. "The positive traits associated with being Canadian like trustworthiness, reliability, and quality have created a halo effect for Canadian goods. That's an easy shorthand for brands entering into new markets." More than ever before, people are becoming familiar with Canada via digital channels. Two-thirds of consumers in overseas countries were at least generally aware of Canadian products and awareness tended to be significantly higher among younger generations who are more active on digital channels. At the top of the product categories, 89 per cent believe Canadian furniture and home goods to be of the same or better quality.

Signify Canada Partners With King Marketing

Signify Canada (formerly Philips Lighting) has appointed King Marketing as its sales agent for, among other Signify brands, the Philips and Philips Hue brands of lightbulbs at independent dealer accounts across Canada. Signify is a manufacturer of lighting for professionals, consumers, and the Internet of Things.

Masco Finds Buyer For Window Business

Masco Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Milgard Windows and Doors to MI Windows and Doors. The closing of the sale is expected to occur during the fourth quarter of 2019.

RBC Rolls Out Mobile Banking Enhancements

To help small business owners save time and manage administrative challenges, RBC has introduced a suite of mobile banking enhancements to help business owners gain financial insights and manage their business anywhere, anytime. The enhancements include Financial Snapshot, a dashboard that summarizes the business owner's current cash position in a simple view upon logging into the RBC mobile app. Owners also have access to an easier way to get paid with access to Interac eTransfer payment requests directly from the dashboard and get reminders on the top outstanding payment requests to simplify the customer follow-up process. As well, NOMI Insights generates financial insights by analyzing an owner's business spending and savings activity. The mobile app is available through RBC's online business banking channel or the RBC Offers portal.

EAB Names Vancouver Representatives

Brent Ewen is territory manager for Greater Vancouver, BC, with EAB Exchange-A-Blade. He was previously with SeeSaw Marketing, where he worked as a distributor for EAB in the Okanagan Valley and the interior of B.C. Marty Donaldson is also territory manager for Greater Vancouver, sharing responsibilities for the market with Ewen. He was previously with Griff Building Supplies.

Costco Sales Up Seven Per Cent

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $46.45 billion for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of seven per cent compared to net sales of $43.41 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales for Canadian operations increased 2.6 per cent and U.S. operations increased 6.2 per cent year-over-year. eCommerce sales increased 19.8 per cent. Net income for the quarter was $1,097 million compared to $1,043 million in the year-ago period.

October 7, 2019

Lifestyle Trends To Drive Outdoor Storage Market

The outdoor storage products market in the U.S. will total $1.6 billion in 2023, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Helping to support sales of these products will be the trend of outdoor living. Homeowners continue to install indoor style living spaces such as kitchens and living rooms in their backyards and surrounding outdoor spaces. As well, an active lifestyle is driving the category. Consumers are increasingly participating in – and acquiring the necessary equipment and gear for – a number of outdoor activities such as backpacking, hiking, and kayaking. If basements, attics, and garages become too full to hold these items, sheds can provide the necessary storage space. As well, gardening remains a popular pastime among homeowners in the U.S. Participation is expected to increase as the large Millennial cohort ages into its prime home-buying years. Outdoor storage will become necessary as these new homeowners begin to purchase lawn and garden equipment to maintain their outdoor spaces.

Lee Valley To Launch Upgraded Website

Lee Valley will launch an upgraded website this month. The project is the result of a multi-year project that involved shooting 70,000 product images and editing 8,000 product descriptions (in two languages), in addition to deploying a state-of-the-art suite of software tools – all necessary to ensure that the site performs well across a broad spectrum of devices and browsers, says Robin Lee, president and CEO. "This first release of our new design shares many of the functions and features of the existing website, with a number of enhancements. Under the hood, we have structured the new site for future advanced functionality that we will roll out periodically as we gain experience." He says that while some of the changes are significant, the retailer has not changed its product offering and service.

Prud’homme To Retire From Lowe’s Canada

Sylvain Prud’homme, president of Lowe’s Canada, will retire from the company. Pending his permanent replacement, Tony Cioffi, executive vice-president, finance, real estate, and dealers, will act as interim president. In a press release, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. chief executive officer, Marvin Ellison, thanked Prud’homme for his dedication throughout the years. “Sylvain led the company through several phases of its growth and showed great leadership along the way. We remain confident in the long-term potential of our Canadian business and count on Tony and the entire Canadian team to continue serving our customers with the same focus and engagement.”

Specialty Products Negatively Impact RPM Sales

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.47 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, an increase over net sales of $1.46 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Net income for the quarter was $106.2 million, up 52.2 per cent over net income of $69.8 million in the year-ago period. Income before income taxes was up 55.4 per cent to $142.8 million compared to $91.9 million last year while EBIT was up 45.5 per cent to $165.8 million year-over-year. The construction products group net sales increased 3.6 per cent to $536.1 million year-over-year; the performance coatings group segment net sales increased 0.4 per cent to $297.2 million; the consumer group net sales had a slight increase to $479.3 million from $477.4 million last year; and the specialty products group had net sales $160.1 million compared to $168.7 million last year.

October 4, 2019

Gen Z Influencing Parent Buying Decisions

Members of Generation Z influence a significant amount of household purchases and enjoy spending their own money, says the latest issue of the 'Consumer View' report by the National Retail Federation (NRF). “We’re seeing a shift in the way families shop where children are much more involved with purchasing decisions,” says Mark Mathews, vice-president for research development and industry analysis. Eighty per cent of parents say their children influence at least some aspect of their purchases, either for household items or for themselves. And, while Gen Zers might not always expect to be involved in family purchase decisions, their parents find it important to include them. The most common time parents involve their children is at the front end of a purchase – when researching features and product reviews and when price checking or looking up product availability. The report also found that Gen Zers influence different aspects of shopping including the specific brands parents consider (52 per cent), product features that are important (48 per cent), and specific retailers that are considered (41 per cent).

Supply Chain Management Association Rebrands

The Supply Chain Management Association has changed its name to Supply Chain Canada. The association also launched an upgraded website as part of an overall rebranding initiative. “The new name and look are part of a transformation that we have undertaken as the association enters its second century,” says Christian Buhagiar, president and CEO. “Today’s supply chains are dynamic and fast-paced. The association for Canada’s supply chain professionals must reflect that.” Through the rebranding process, the association has created a logo and tagline, 'Professionals advancing the future.' The logo’s maple leaf design conveys the association's nationality and represents the connectedness of the supply chain, illustrating the networks and collaboration that are essential to supply chain success. It also reflects the interconnectedness of the association’s federation, institutes, and members. Its connected dots can be seen, as well, as the complex route of a global supply chain.

MAAX Celebrates 50 Years

MAAX Bath Inc. celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in 1969 in Tring-Jonction, a village in the Beauce region of Quebec, MAAX initially specialized in the manufacture of pools and components for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. Over the years, its product portfolio evolved, diversified, and grew, and MAAX ultimately emerged as a manufacturer of bathtubs, shower solutions, and shower doors. Today, the company, which is part of American Bath Group, has eight production facilities in North America, of which four are located in Canada. The company also has R&D centres in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce and Lachine, QC, as well as a dedicated team based in the U.S.

Sun Life Offers Corporate Life Insurance Options

Sun Life has launched two permanent life insurance options ‒ SunUniversalLife Pro and Sun Permanent Life. SunUniversalLife Pro is a solution for corporate insurance that guarantees, cash accessibility, and a wide variety of optional benefits. Sun Permanent Life provides lifetime, guaranteed protection to Canadians with guaranteed premiums and death benefits. The policy also provides a guaranteed cash value starting in year three. Sun Life has also introduced Accelerated Underwriting, which makes it easier and faster for clients to get their policies.

Formica Canada Launches SurfaceSet 2020 Collection

Formica Canada has launched its SurfaceSet 2020 collection, a series of woodgrains, solids, and patterned Formica laminate designs for interior designers and architects. The collection is grouped into three key palettes – No Boundaries, Engineered Design, and Fluidity. No Boundaries has a combination of raw elements and natural warmth with organic greens and grounded earth tones that contrast pops of blue. Engineered Design is a future-forward palette that combines synthetic designs with natural materials using on-screen brights, technical greys, and strong saturated colours are combined with tactile textures like felt. Fluidity features soft and ethereal tones like weightless beiges, pastels, and iridescent effects.

Richelieu Hurts Sales

Richelieu Hardware had consolidated sales of $269.2 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.4 per cent compared to consolidated sales of $260.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. Sales for the quarter were $233.8 million in the manufacturers market, compared with $221.6 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 5.5 per cent. Sales in Canada increased 0.7 per cent to $179.9 million with sales to manufacturers up three per cent. Sales to Canadian hardware retailers and renovation superstores totalled to $32 million, down 8.8 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2018. Richelieu says the general slowdown in the retailer market continues to have a downward impact on sales. U.S. sales were up 8.2 per cent year-over-year, with sales to manufacturers up 8.9 per cent and sales to U.S. hardware retailers and renovation superstores down 10.3 per cent from the corresponding quarter of 2018. Overall third-quarter net earnings grew 1.1 per cent.

October 3, 2019

Increasing Deployment Driving Decorative Lighting Market

The global decorative lighting market size is expected to reach US$42.9 billion by 2025, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc., expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1 per cent over the forecast period. Increasing deployment of decorative lighting in shopping malls, complexes, and retail shops have been playing a vital role in the market growth. By product, sconce held the largest share of over 35 per cent in 2018. Flush mount products are expected to expand at the fastest CAGR of 3.8 per cent from 2019 to 2025. By light source, LED sourced products are expected to witness the fastest growth from during the forecast period. Fluorescent sourced products are expected to generate a revenue of $13 billion by 2025. The commercial application segment accounted for more than 70 per cent share of the global revenue in 2018.

TIMBER MART Event Supports Children's Wish Foundation

This year, TIMBER MART was the national title sponsor for the annual 'Heroes Challenge' hosted by the Children’s Wish Foundation, which took place on September 27 in 14 cities across Canada. The 'TIMBER MART Heroes Challenge' hosted over 100 corporate and individual teams (including TIMBER MART members, vendors, and staff) from across the country who competed in a variety of challenges designed to test team spirit, mental agility, and physical ability. Each team was tasked with raising $10,000 (the average cost of a child’s wish) to participate in the event. At the end of challenge day, over $1.2 million was raised which will work towards granting more than 100 wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. “One of the focuses of our organization is to improve the health and well-being of Canadian children through our charitable foundation, Timberkids – and this opportunity tied in perfectly with that mission,” says Jon Irwin, vice-president of member services. “We’re thrilled with what this event was able to achieve for the Children’s Wish Foundation and look forward to seeing many meaningful wishes granted and children’s lives changed for the better.”

CTC Completes Party City Acquisition

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (CTC) has completed the previously announced acquisition of Party City's Canadian business. Party City is a party supply store with 65 retail stores in seven provinces. Party City's product assortments will be made available nationally across 500 Canadian Tire Retail (CTR) stores and online at Canadiantire.ca. It will also further expand and strengthen the retailer's loyalty program, Triangle Rewards.

Sun Life Launches Life Insurance For Entrepreneurs

Sun Life Financial Inc. has launched two corporate life insurance solutions for business owners. SunUniversalLife Pro offers guarantees, cash accessibility, and a variety of optional benefits. Sun Permanent Life provides lifetime, guaranteed protection to Canadians with guaranteed premiums and death benefits and a guaranteed cash value starting in year three.

TORBSA Names 2019 Board

Greg Drouillard of Target Building Materials has been elected as president of TORBSA Limited for the year 2019. The 2019 board of directors is Gerald Morin ‒ past president, Morin Bros. Building Supplies, Ottawa, ON; Greg Drouillard ‒ president, Target Building Materials, Windsor, ON; Dante DiGiovanni ‒ vice-president operations, Blair Building Materials, Maple, ON; Blaine Carter ‒ vice-president, Woollatt Building Supply, London, ON; Len Hewson ‒ treasurer, Hewson Brothers Supply, Brantford, ON; and Steve Guglietti ‒ secretary, Pro Con Building Supplies, Brampton, ON.

BB&B Has Loss

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had a net loss of $138.8 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2019, down from a profit of $48.6 million in the second quarter of 2018. Adjusted net loss was $41.9 million compared to a loss of $52 million in the year-ago period. Net sales were approximately $2.7 billion, a decrease of approximately 7.3 per cent compared to the prior year period. Comparable sales in the quarter declined approximately 6.7 per cent. The company says it is making good progress with its restructuring efforts and has made substantial progress toward identifying a permanent CEO.

October 2, 2019

Connected Customers Have High Expectations

Fifty-one per cent of consumers are still willing to share personal data for a more personalized experience, says the 'Global Connected Consumer Index' by Selligent. For brands, this means a greater focus on delivering truly relevant, omnichannel experiences that bring value to consumers at the right moment, says Selligent. Connected consumers have high expectations. Almost all (96 per cent) expect brands to respond within 24 hours of a flagged issue, and 90 per cent also expect a resolution to come within 24 hours. Additionally, 71 per cent expect brands to have all the information about them during an escalated brand interaction, highlighting the need for a full 360-view of the customer. Omnichannel experiences reign with 64 per cent of consumers taking advantage of merging online and in-store shopping experiences for big ticket purchases, preferring to research online but go in-store to purchase. However, half of consumers still expect brands to assist and give recommendations in-store. Relevance is key, says Selligent, as 64 percent of consumers are aware that their online activity is being tracked but welcome proactive product recommendations based on previous purchases. Forty-seven per cent find it ‘nice/helpful’ when they’re served ads based on what they have asked their voice assistants.

Weston Forest Gets Business Excellence Award

Weston Forest is one of 32 recipients of the '2019-20 Canadian Business Excellence Awards for Private Businesses.' This is the fourth year for these awards, and the third consecutive year Weston has received this honour. Excellence Canada recognizes organizations that continually improve performance; are innovative, competitive, and customer focused; are healthy, inclusive, and sustainable; and that are economically, socially, and environmentally responsible. In addition, Weston Forest has been recognized as one of 'Canada’s Best Managed Companies' since 2014, ranked for five consecutive years on the 'Growth 500' list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, and is recognized by Waterstone Human Capital as one of Canada’s 'Most Admired Corporate Cultures.'

Lowe's Canada Supports Quebec Hospital Campaign

Lowe's Canada is supporting the Fondation Hôpital Charles-LeMoyne's 2017-2021 major campaign with a $150,000 donation over five years. This amount will be used to finance four large-scale projects that will allow the hospital to enhance the quality and quantity of care offered to some 1.5 million residents in the Montérégie, QC, region. As well, for the second consecutive year, the retailer participated in the foundation's annual sports challenge and fundraising event (Défi des générations contre le cancer) benefiting the Centre intégré de cancérologie de la Montérégie, which offers cancer care and services in the hospital. In addition to financially contributing to the event, Lowe's Canada was represented by a team of runners, of varying levels, who took part in different courses starting at Poly-Aréna park in Brossard. As part of its partnership with the Foundation, the retailer has also been presenting the Foundation's annual spring charity ball, the Bal des 1001 Nuits, for the past two years.

Built Green Canada Launches Renovation Pilot

Built Green Canada has launched its 'High Density Renovation Program' pilot and is encouraging trials during this phase. Four projects are already enrolled in this program in Calgary and Edmonton, AB. As Canadians and all orders of government are increasingly focused on climate mitigation, there is huge opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the economy through energy-efficient retrofits of older homes and buildings in Canada. To qualify for the program, substantial upgrades/retrofits must be made to the energy-related building systems, including the building envelope and the mechanical and electrical systems. The energy performance of the building’s upgrades and retrofits are then compared to the requirements of the current energy standard or energy code used for modelling to show energy savings resulting from the renovation. Beyond efficiency, the renovations must be sustainable.

Walmart Opens Supply Chain Training Academy

The Walmart distribution centre in Sanger, TX, is home to Walmart's first 'Supply Chain Academy,' created specifically to train the retailer’s supply chain associates and provide them with a clear path to advancement. The retailer celebrated the first graduating class of this academy during a ceremony on September 27. The academy is patterned after the 200 Walmart academies that train all store associates around the U.S. All academies follow the retailer’s belief that growing and succeeding as associates and as a company in today’s changing world requires new skills and the ability to meet the needs of customers who have more shopping choices than ever before. The training facilities all have a dedicated staff who provide training to position associates to succeed in their current roles and provide a path for career growth with the company. The Sanger academy’s area of study will include leadership, safety, supply chain foundations, and area-specific training. Walmart plans to expand the academy program to more distribution centres across the country over the next two years. Each Supply Chain Academy will serve about 15 distribution centres.

Home And Garden Businesses Small But Thriving

U.S. home and garden businesses tend to be smaller than other companies, single location, and have better credit compared to other businesses, says research from data marketing company Infogroup. The research says about 96 per cent of home and garden businesses are single location while that's true of just 84 per cent of all other businesses. As well, 95 per cent of home and garden businesses have good-to-excellent credit ‒ as compared to just 83 per cent of all other businesses. Eighty-six per cent have fewer than nine employees, as compared to 76 per cent of other businesses.

October 1, 2019

Canadian Retail Sales Growth Struggles

After showing some signs of life earlier in the year, overall Canadian retail sales growth has stumbled once again, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending July, retail sales gained just 0.9 per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis, which is among the lowest such gains in a decade. After seven months of 2019, year-to-date sales are up only 1.8 per cent compared to last year which itself was a low ebb. The three-month sales growth trend has now weakened for three straight months. The underlying 12-month trend is at a new low and it's difficult to see how it might strengthen very much by the end of the year. While 2018 was not a good year for Canadian retail, 2019 could be even worse. eCommerce sales, which represented about 3.2 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending July, were up 29.7 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending July. This was much higher than for location-based retail which gained just 0.9 per cent.

Fraser Valley Opens Two B.C. Stores

Fraser Valley Building Supplies in West Kootenays, BC, had its grand opening over the weekend. The RONA store is part of Lowe’s Canada's affiliate network. Fraser Valley acquired the store earlier this year and converted it, along with its other West Kootenays store, to the RONA banner. To mark the grand opening of both stores, Fraser Valley Building Supplies held a traditional board cutting ceremonies in the presence of customers and local dignitaries. Under the RONA banner, the stores now have an enhanced offering, including a selection of appliances and CRAFTSMAN tools. They also offer financing programs. Together, the two stores feature approximately 35,000 square feet of retail sales area as well as five acres of lumberyard. They offer roughly 30,000 products in-store and online.

Remote Payments To Increase 53 Per Cent To 2024

The total transaction value of remote payments for digital and physical goods will exceed $5 trillion by 2024, representing a growth of 53 per cent from 2019, says a report from Juniper Research. The average online customer spend will exceed $1,000 globally per annum by 2024. Online sales will be dominated by physical goods, forecast to account for almost 80 per cent of online retail purchases. Remote payments will be driven by purchases made via mobile devices, with the number of smartphone buyers increasing by nearly 60 per cent between 2019 and 2024. Consequently, just 21 per cent of purchases will be made using PCs, laptops, and connected TVs globally by 2024. As well, Juniper Research assessed the digital strategies of 25 leading bricks-and-mortar retailers according to their levels of agility and innovation. The Home Depot ranked first, owing to its proactive eCommerce strategies and engagement with new technologies, such as augmented reality and analytics, to improve online consumer experiences. The Home Depot’s retail services are built on an omnichannel strategy; offering customers a comprehensive network of physical stores alongside robust online shopping experiences. Analytics is leveraged to adapt to evolving customer behaviours and AR technology to enable customers to visualize virtual products in the real world via their smartphones.

Multi-family Segment To Drive Residential IoT Sales

Global annual revenue from multi-family internet of things (IoT) device sales is expected to increase from $5.2 billion in 2019 to $35.6 billion in 2028, says a report from Navigant Research. While single-family homes are likely to remain the key market for residential IoT, the multi-family segment is expected to gain a significant share of revenue in coming years. Builders and property managers are becoming more aware of the benefits of building-wide smart home technology and stakeholders are starting to realize the largely untapped opportunity this market has to offer. Given the complexity of managing multi-unit buildings, residential IoT can be a gateway to streamline processes in multi-family dwellings, save time and money, and generate additional revenue through rent and increased property valuation.

September 30, 2019

Brick-and-mortar Remains Relevant

Despite widespread retail innovation and disruption, traditional brick-and-mortar retail shopping remains relevant, says research from Blackhawk Network. And, although digital growth in retail continues, traditional modes of shopping and payments such as in-store purchasing and cash maintain a strong foothold in U.S. retail consumer behaviour. Consumers (63 per cent) are purchasing at retail stores as often, if not more often, than they did last year. Twenty-eight per cent say they are using retail stores more frequently, compared to only nine per cent who say they use retail stores less often. Seventy-six per cent of consumers say convenience is their top motivation for shopping in-store. Fifty-six per cent cite speed of purchase as a top motivator. In addition, in-store shopping provides the highest satisfaction out of all purchasing options. Ninety-two per cent of shoppers say they are somewhat or very satisfied with the in-store shopping experience, more than other purchasing options. Physical retail stores also see a significant amount of repeat use, driven largely by the buying power of loyal, older generations. Eighty-two per cent of Baby Boomers say they purchase from retail stores at least monthly.

Miller's Ace Is Open For Business

Exeter, ON, hardware store, Miller's Ace Country & Garden Store, has opened its doors. Entrepreneurs Doug and Barry Eidt have invested $25,000 to convert the store, which they acquired in the spring, to the Ace banner, an affiliate network of Lowe's Canada. At the grand opening over the weekend, the owners, their team, local dignitaries, and residents were on hand to perform the board cutting ceremony. The upgraded 5,000-square-foot store now offers more products and services, include a selection of CRAFTSMAN tools. Customers are also able to take advantage of the Ace website and its 'Click & Collect' service.

Calm Inspires Beauti-Tone Colour For 2020

'Honey I'm Home' is the colour of the year for 2020 from Beauti-Tone Paint, a division of Home Hardware Stores Limited. The colour, from the Simon Chang 2019/20 Trend Colour Collection, is described as reminiscent of sweet honey or liquid amber for walls. “Canadians are craving calm,” says Bev Bell, creative director, Beauti-Tone Paint and Home Products Division. “When we walk through our front door we want to leave stress and trouble outside. 'Honey I’m Home' is like a great, big warm hug. It’s that sweet colour that we can simply melt into.”

Katerra Opens CLT Factory

Technology company Katerra has opened a high-volume cross-laminated timber (CLT) factory in Spokane Valley, WA. The 270,000-square-foot facility will significantly increase supplies of CLT, a fully renewable structural building material that sequesters carbon for a building’s life and can be used in place of steel and concrete in buildings. CLT is a pre-fabricated, engineered wood panel with often superior building, aesthetic, environmental, and cost attributes. The facility reflects the company’s technology-first approach, incorporating advanced geometric and biometric scanning of lamstock, an on-site kiln for precise moisture control, and artificial intelligence to further improve safety and reduce waste. The factory also features the largest CLT press currently in operation globally, says the company.

September 27, 2019

GTA August New Home Market Quiet

It was a typically quiet August in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market this year with 1,400 new home sales, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). This was up 19 per cent from August 2018, but still 23 per cent below the 10-year average. Condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units accounted for 961 new home sales, down four per cent from August 2018 and down 12 per cent from the 10-year average. This was the first month since March that new condo apartment sales didn’t exceed their 2018 level. Single-family home sales, with 439 detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up 143 per cent from last August, but still down 39 per cent from the 10-year average. As well, there was a decrease in inventory compared to the previous month, to 16,529 units.

Report Debunks Retail Myths

Overleverage and the U.S. being 'over-retailed' are the reasons behind retail bankruptcies, not changes in consumer spending, says a report from CCIM Institute and the University of Alabama. "With total retail sales increasing at an average annual rate in excess of 4.35 per cent, this is a story of how retail will continue to grow and evolve, fueled by eCommerce, technology, logistics, and innovation,” says K.C. Conway, chief economist with CCIM Institute. The report, 'Retail e-Volution: Predictions for 2025,' says providing experiences and services will redefine brick-and-mortar success with hotels becoming the new showrooms for retail. Retail will also benefit from the 'halo effect' whereby online sales result in brick-and-mortar sales and vice versa. As well, to make delivery/last-mile fulfillment more cost effective, changes are needed in infrastructure and logistics, combined with innovation like autonomous trucks and new warehouse designs. The most impactful trend for retail in the U.S. between now and 2025 will be adaptive reuse of retail centres and malls, says the report.

Conservatives, Liberals Offer Green Retrofit Plans

Both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties have promised measures for green conscious homeowners to retrofit their homes. Andrew Scheer, Conservative leader, announced a tax credit for green home renovations where homeowners can receive a 20 per cent refundable income tax credit for green improvements between $1,000 and $20,000 up to a maximum benefit of $3,8000 per year. Justin Trudeau, Liberal leader, announced plans to provide interest-free loans up to $40,000 to homeowners and landlords who want to make their buildings more energy efficient. Trudeau also plans to help people buy newly-build zero-emission homes by providing a grant of up to $5,000.

Klein Tools Launches Crimper/Cutter

Klein Tools has launched its Forged Wire Crimper with Stripper/Cutter, combining the most commonly used wire stripping sizes with a dedicated crimper and two cutters into one tool. The 2005N is manufactured from Klein Tools’ U.S.-made proprietary steel. It is a multipurpose tool that includes a dedicated crimper with a wire stripper and two cutters that can strip 10-18 AWG stranded wire and crimp 10-22 AWG insulated and non-insulated terminals and connectors. It has a specially hardened wire cutter in the nose and a shear cutter below the rivet that can cut copper wire. Textured grips provide enhanced dexterity.

Ettinger Named Hardware Buyer

Shawn Ettinger is hardware buyer with TIMBER MART. His categories include tools, décor, plumbing, imported goods, electrical, builder’s hardware, and seasonal products. He has more than 30 years of experience.

September 24, 2019

Wholesale Sales Has Second Consecutive Increase

Wholesale sales rose for a second consecutive month in July, up 1.7 per cent to $65.4 billion, says Statistics Canada. While four of the seven subsectors, representing 64 per cent of wholesale sales, reported increases, the personal and household goods subsector (4.7 per cent) and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector (4 per cent) contributed the most. This was the sixth increase in the first seven months of 2019. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 1.9 per cent from June to July. Sales increased in five provinces in July, although Ontario accounted for most of the gains followed by Quebec. Wholesale inventories increased 0.5 per cent to $94 billion, an 11th consecutive monthly gain. In the building material and supplies subsector, inventories rose for the fourth time in five months, up 0.6 per cent in July. The overall inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.45 in June to 1.44 in July. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Family-owned Centres Join RONA

Two Ontario home improvement centres have joined Lowe's Canada's RONA affiliated dealer network. The Rodney and Springfield stores were acquired by Mike Crow Sr. in 2004 and 2016 respectively. Since then, he has run the stores with his children and his team of dedicated employees. The switch to the RONA banner marks a new step in the development of the family business. Crow Sr. wanted to partner with a company that would provide more value and choices to his customers. He says RONA provides strong buying power and a wide product selection that includes appliances. Customers will also have access to the RONA website where they have the flexibility to buy online and pick up the products in-store. Together, the RONA Rodney and RONA Springfield stores employ 45 people and feature over 10,000-square-feet of retail sales space and, combined, the drive-through lumber yards total over eight acres.

Store Reopens After Destroyed By Fire

September 19, Patrick Morin Renovation Centres celebrated the official reopening of its Sainte-Marcelline, QC, branch, which was destroyed by fire in January. Founder Patrick Morin was at the opening and performed the official 'board cutting' ceremony alongside his wife, Denise Benny, and store management. An investment of $3.5 million was made to rebuild and restock the business. The 12,500-square-foot store is larger than the original store with more departments and products for customers. This location was the original Patrick Morin store bought by Morin and his wife in 1960 along with two sawmills. Today, the banner has 21 stores.

B.C. Communities Unlocking Energy Efficiency Opportunities

Many of British Columbia's fastest growing cities and towns are incentivizing and/or requiring higher levels of energy efficiency in new construction, spurring healthier, more comfortable, and more durable buildings ‒ and a surge in employment and investment, says Efficiency Canada. The communities are using the ‘B.C. Energy Step Code,’ a recently introduced provincial regulation that allows them to require their builders to exceed the code's minimum legal energy-efficiency requirements. In doing so, they're helping drive a $3.3 billion new market for high-efficiency building products. Efficiency Canada says the code is seeing remarkable uptake and support from industry, utilities, and all levels of government. The 24 communities that have to date adopted the regulation collectively represent more than 70 per cent of new residential construction activity in the province. The province has set a goal that all new buildings must reach an exceptionally high level of energy efficiency performance by 2032.

Carpet One Implements Fairstone Lending Solution

Fairstone Financial Inc., a non-bank provider of lending solutions, will provide point-of-sale (POS) financing for all retail purchases across 90 Carpet One Floor & Home locations. As part of the retail POS financing offering, Fairstone will provide the retailer with an automated, mobile, and digital financing platform enabling customers to be approved for financing in under two minutes. The solution integrates within the existing retail experience, reducing time and friction associated with paper-based credit application.

Awareness Of Benefits Will Drive Smart Thermostat Growth

Smart thermostats will transcend indoor climate control and become the interface to control the entire smart home, including lights, door locks, windows, security systems, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The rising penetration of smart home solutions and demand for energy and cost-saving technologies are expected to propel the $1.63 billion market towards $4.81 billion by 2025, while the unit shipment is estimated to reach 38.8 million units from 8.6 million in 2018. By 2025, almost 63.7 per cent of North American homes are forecast to have smart thermostats. Awareness of the benefits of smart thermostats will drive growth in consumer and commercial markets. Other growth opportunities include offering building and appliance diagnostics, recommending relevant energy efficiency measures, and aiding compliance with building codes.

September 23, 2019

Slight Gains In Retail Trade Sales

Sales in the retail trade sector advanced for the first time in three months, increasing 0.4 per cent in July to $51.5 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were reported in six of 11 subsectors representing 71 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were essentially unchanged in July. Miscellaneous store retailers’ sales were up 1.7 per cent, bolstered by higher sales at cannabis stores. Sales at building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers decreased 3.2 per cent after increasing five per cent in June. Sales in this subsector remained above the level observed in May. Retail sales were up in six provinces, with the largest increases observed in Ontario and, to a lesser extent, the Prairie provinces. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.8 billion in July, accounting for 3.2 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 32.8 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 3.7 per cent.

Dealers Descend On St. Jacobs For Fall Market

‘Share the Vision’ is the theme of Home Hardware Stores Limited’s ‘2019 Fall Dealer Market.’ Highlights of the event include an appearance from HGTV host Scott McGillivray, a tour of the retailer’s distribution centre, a tour of the Beauti-Tone plant, and the launch of Beauti-Tone Paint’s 2020 colour of the year. The markets draw more than 10,000 visitors to St. Jacobs and the Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, area twice a year, in April and September. The fall market takes place September 22 to 24 at the company’s St. Jacobs dealer support centre. It is not open to the public.

Durham Police Bust Merchandise Return Scammers

Two Toronto, ON, men are facing charges after attempting a merchandise return scam at a Whitby, ON, Home Depot store, says Durham Regional Police. On September 14, officers were called to the Whitby Home Depot store for a fraud in progress. A male was attempting to return merchandise when store employees became suspicious and contacted police. It's believed the male suspect obtained a Home Depot credit card in Cobourg, ON, using fraudulent identification. He purchased merchandise using the card in Cobourg and attended the store in Whitby to try and return the items without a receipt. Police arrested and charged the male along with a second male suspect who was waiting in a vehicle in the parking lot. Police seized a fraudulent driver's license and social insurance card along with the Home Depot credit card.

Canadian Sawmills Announce Further Curtailments

British Columbia forestry company Tolko Industries is curtailing operations at its Soda Creek and Armstrong stub lumber mills by 20 per cent due to high log costs and weak market conditions. The company says the mills will move to a four-day work week, but there will be no layoffs. As well, Teal-Jones has curtailed all harvesting operations on the B.C. coast due to weak lumber markets and the high cost of fibre. The shutdown is effective immediately and includes Teal’s Fraser Valley and its Honeymoon Bay – TFL46 operations. Ontario-based Kenora Forest Products (KFP) will also shut down production because of weakened lumber markets. The company will shutdown for two weeks. Staggered layoffs have already begun and more than 115 workers will be affected.

Wooster Launches High-capacity Roller Cover Line

The Wooster Brush Company has launched Cirrus X, a polyamide yarn roller cover, to its product offering. These rollers feature a European polyamide yarn fabric that's soft, resilient, easy to load, and holds a lot of paint. The yarn roller covers are designed with extra capacity and durability to help tackle rough and extra-rough surfaces. They are great for applying base and finish coats and back rolling textured surfaces such as stucco or brick. They can be used with all flat, eggshell, and satin paints. The line has a green marbled look will be available in Canada in 14- and 18-inch sizes in ¾-inch and 1-inch nap heights.

Home Energy Management Market Poised For Growth

The global home energy management systems (HEMS) has witnessed accelerated growth in 2018 earning revenue of $1.8 billion, a 21 per cent increase over 2017, says a report by Research and Markets. The market is dynamic and is poised for accelerated growth over the next seven years. The concept of HEMS has evolved over the last few years, where the focus has changed from being a simple HEMS deployed by utilities to a valuable component that is now a part of smart homes. The driving factors of HEMS include the increasing trend of electricity prices, the lack of commitment from utilities, the potential for cost savings, and the increasing know-how about HEMS among customers. The smart home market includes software, services, and products to manage home energy services and devices. The potential growth provides opportunities for retailers that sell in the smart home category.

September 20, 2019

Canadians Love Their Small Business Owners

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

IKEA Canada Expands Distribution Network

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

Weyerhaeuser To Sell Michigan Timberlands

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

Half Of Global Population Using Internet

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

dunnhumby Launches dh Labs To Accelerate Retail Innovation

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

Kingfisher Sales Slide

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

September 19, 2019

Manufacturing Sales Slide

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

BMR Opens First Pro Store In Quebec

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

Deloitte Projects Robust Holiday Sales

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

Princess Auto Opens First Quebec Store

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

Strong Growth For Canadian Leaf Blower Market

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

MaterialsXchange Launches Commodities Exchange

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

September 18, 2019

2019 Home Sales Edge Higher

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

BILD Wants Transparency On Home Ownership Fees

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

Promotions Drive Furniture Consumers

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

Sherwin-Williams Explores Facility Options

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

Kingspan Joins Materials Carbon Action Network

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

September 17, 2019

August Home Sales Edge Higher

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

North Delta Carries Sansin Exterior Finishes

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

AEP Expands Products At Ontario Facility

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

Brilliant Partners With Schlage

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

Home Hardware Makes Changes

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

September 16, 2019

Canadians Choosing To Renovate

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

Element5 To Open Mass Timber Factory In Ontario

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

U.S. Retail Sales Has Gains

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

RONA Stores Support Local Food Bank

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

Lowe's Canada Supports Student Athletes

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

September 13, 2019

Building Permits Rise Three Per Cent

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities rose three per cent to $8.3 billion in July, largely due to increases in multi-family and commercial permits, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in five provinces, with over one-third of the national increase in British Columbia. Quebec reported the largest decrease, down four per cent to $1.6 billion due to lower construction intentions in all components of the non-residential sector. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose in seven provinces, increasing 4.2 per cent to $2.8 billion in July and the value of permits for single-family dwellings nationally edged down 0.2 per cent. The largest gain was in commercial permits, which rose 6.7 per cent to $2 billion, offsetting three consecutive months of declines. The increase was largely attributable to high-value permits for office buildings in the census metropolitan area of Vancouver.

Giant Tiger Launches Loyalty Program In Ontario

Discount retailer Giant Tiger Stores Limited has launched a loyalty program called 'GT VIP' to the Ontario market. The program launched to 23 stores in the Ottawa, ON, region in April and, after the success of the program in those markets, is now launching in all of Ontario. GT VIP is a free app available for Android and iOS devices. Once downloaded, customers can search their GT VIP deals, browse the weekly flyer, and shop online. At the store, customers can simply scan the 'stripes' barcode or provide their phone number to activate the deals at checkout. Members also receive benefits including exclusive contests and sweepstakes, as well as partnership perks such as restaurant and sporting events savings. The company anticipates full Canada-wide rollout starting early 2020.

Robust Growth Forecast For LED Lighting

LED lighting accounts for more than a 40 per cent share in the general lighting market and the number is estimated to cross the 80 per cent mark by 2025, says research from Global Market Insight. Supportive government initiatives to promote the adoption of energy-efficient lighting technologies are driving the adoption of LED lamps across the globe. Moreover, the declining average selling price of the LED lamps across the globe is also serving as a major force accelerating their adoption. The demand for smart lighting and the durability of LED lamps are also contributing to growth. The outdoor lighting market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 21 per cent during the projected timeline. The outdoor lighting applications are characterized by high safety and security, low maintenance cost, and adequate lighting needs while keeping the cost low.

ODL Launches Doorglass Frame Line

ODL, Inc., a supplier of decorative and clear doorglass and entry treatments, has launched ZEEL, a frame for glass in entry doors. The design is sleek and can be stained or painted. The clean, low-profile look offers a stylish alternative to flush glazed doors. The product is a result of market research conducted by ODL that revealed a gap in the doorglass frame market and a need for a sleeker, more streamlined option. ZEEL features a clip system that eliminates the need for screws and reduces installation time. It also provides the ability to replace just the doorglass and frame in the event of damage. The frames are available in five sizes and can be used in conjunction with most doorglass, including the clear and decorative options offered by ODL.

Spectrum Makes Changes

Jeremy W. Smeltser will be executive vice-president (EVP) of Spectrum Brand Holdings, Inc., effective October 1. He will be EVP and chief financial officer (CFO) on December 20. Most recently, he was vice-president and CFO for SPX FLOW, Inc. Randy D. Lewis is EVP and chief operating officer (COO). Previously, he was senior vice-president (SVP) and COO. Rebeckah Long is SVP, global human resources. She was most recently vice-president of human resources.

Dollarama Has Increased Sales

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $946.4 million for the second quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of nine per cent over sales of $868.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2018. Comparable store sales grew 4.7 per cent over a 2.6 per cent growth the previous year. Gross margin for the quarter was 43.7 per cent of sales compared to 29.8 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. Operating income grew 2.7 per cent to $221.6 million and 23.4 per cent of sales.

September 12, 2019

Worker Financial Stress Costing Employers

Almost half (43 per cent) of Canadian workers are so financially stressed that their performance at work is actually suffering, says a survey from the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA). The CPA calculates that financial stress deducts nearly $16 billion a year in lost productivity from the Canadian economy and that’s a conservative estimate. The costs of increased absenteeism, turnover, and benefit claims, as well as decreased job satisfaction and morale also need to be taken into account. Almost a quarter of working Canadians say they spend just under 40 minutes each day distracted by personal financial matters at work. That equates to an 8.1 per cent loss in productivity based on an eight-hour workday. The most significant concerns centred on rising costs of living ‒ including housing costs and looming increases in interest and mortgage rates ‒ with 40 per cent reporting they feel overwhelmed by the amount they owe. CPA suggests payroll implement and champion a ‘pay yourself first’ program to help reduce the impact of financial stress.

Canadians Welcome NAFTA Decision

A joint NAFTA panel has decided they can't agree with the U.S. International Trade Commission that there is evidence Canadian imports are causing injury to the U.S. industry. It says the U.S. has 90 days to reconsider the evidence it used to draw that conclusion. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the decision. "The decision supports what Canada has been saying all along, that U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are unfair and unwarranted," says Chrystia Freeland, minister of foreign affairs. "The panel’s decision is an important step in the right direction in having these duties on Canadian exports removed and the sums collected reimbursed." The BC Lumber Trade Council also welcomes the decision. "The BC Lumber Trade Council is gratified to see the NAFTA Panel’s ruling today that the U.S. International Trade Commission’s determination that the U.S. lumber industry is 'injured' by Canadian lumber imports is flawed in a number of important respects," says Susan Yurkovich, president of the council. The council "is disappointed, however, by the panel’s conclusion that Western Red Cedar/Redwood was not entitled to its own injury analysis."

Steady Hiring Pace To Continue

Canadian employers expect a steady hiring pace to continue over the next three months, says ManpowerGroup in its latest ‘Employment Outlook Survey.’ Employers in the Quebec region are forecasting their strongest outlook in 16 years. With seasonal variations removed from the data, the net employment outlook of +12 per cent is unchanged compared to the previous quarter and is relatively stable compared with a decrease of one percentage point compared to the outlook reported during the same time last year. Fifteen per cent of employers plan to increase their staffing levels in the fourth quarter, while six per cent anticipate cutbacks. Employers in all 10 industry sectors in all four regions of the country expect to add to payrolls this quarter.

Simpson Strong-Tie Releases Latest Fastener Catalog

Simpson Strong-Tie's '2019-2020 Fastening Systems Catalog' is now available. This latest edition of the catalog features all of the company's structural fasteners for attaching wood to wood, wood to metal, and wood to engineered wood, as well as the Quik Drive auto-feed screw driving systems. It includes new product information and applicable specification and installation instructions. The company has also redesigned the catalog to make it easier for users to find information. The publication has been separated into two parts ‒ the main catalog and a technical guide. It is available for free download.

Fillinger To Lead Interfor

Ian Fillinger will be president and chief executive officer of Interfor Corporation, effective January 1. He is currently senior vice-president and chief operating officer and has been with the company since 2005.

HD Supply Has Solid Quarter

Industrial distributor HD Supply Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1.6 billion for the second quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 1.5 per cent compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2018. Gross profit was $633 million for the quarter, an increase of 1.8 per cent compared to gross profit of $622 million for the year-ago period. Gross profit was 39 per cent of net sales compared to 38.9 per cent last year. Net income was $13.5 million, up 3.1 per cent compared to $131 million. Net sales for the facilities maintenance segment increased 1.2 per cent year-over-year and net sales for the construction and industrial segment increased 1.2 per cent.

September 11, 2019

Housing Starts Trend Up In August

The trend in housing starts was 218,998 units in August, compared to 208,931 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. "Higher trending single-detached starts in urban centres in July and August following roughly a year of declines combined with higher-trending multi-family units in August to push the total starts trend to its highest level since June 2018,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist. The Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; Regina, SK; and Halifax, NS, census metropolitan areas (CMAs) housing starts trended lower in August. The Guelph, Toronto, and Peterborough, ON, CMAs housing starts continued their upwards trends, with Peterborough at a 12-year high in August. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 226,639 units in August, up 1.9 per cent from 222,467 units in July.

Convenience Drives Holiday Consumer Purchasing

Holiday shopping is now a six-month season, with almost 20 per cent of consumers starting their shopping as early as mid-summer and 29 per cent getting a head start in the fall, says a study by digital marketing company Bazaarvoice, Inc. Online shopping will reign supreme, but in-store experiences are still important. Almost two-thirds of consumers say they will complete the majority of their holiday shopping online. However, brick-and-mortar is still a critical part of holiday shopping with more than a third (37 per cent) of respondents saying they will complete the bulk of their purchases in-store and 36 per cent will complete the majority or entirety of their shopping at a mall. No matter where consumers shop, they want it to be convenient. Consumers’ biggest complaints with online holiday shopping are lengthy shipping times and slow order fulfillment (43 per cent), followed by difficulty to decide between brand and product options (39 per cent). In-store, shoppers are overwhelmingly burdened by long checkout lines (75 per cent) and messy/overcrowded stores (61 per cent). Consumers believe brands can improve the holiday shopping experience by improving convenience with experiences like self-checkout or buy online, pick up in store options (60 per cent), and implementing faster and more cost-efficient shipping solutions (57 per cent).

U.S. Planned Non-residential Construction Slides

The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 1.3 per cent from July to August to 137.8 from the revised August reading of 139.6. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The drop in September was the result of a 16.6 per cent decline in the institutional component offsetting a 9.1 per cent gain in the commercial component. On a year-over-year basis, the overall index is 10.3 per cent below August 2018, suggesting that construction spending will be settling back as the year progresses. However, most of the decline occurred in 2018. The index has lost only 1.8 per cent since the beginning of 2019, indicating that while construction activity will ease it is not in a freefall. On a year-over-year basis, the institutional component is 22.5 per cent lower, while the commercial component is down 2.4 per cent.

Disruptive Technologies Remain Early In Adoption Cycle

There is substantial room for further comfort with, and adoption of, revolutionary technologies, says Global X ETFs. Its consumer insights survey, 'Consumer Adoption of Disruptive Technologies,' shows that among the major disruptions of the digital age, the replacement of physical retail consumption with online shopping has been one of the most widely adopted, yet the survey finds additional potential for advancing this trend. One in five surveyed say they will still not feel comfortable purchasing almost anything online without seeing the item in person first. Respondents show greater comfort buying smaller-ticket items online; for large-ticket items, however, consumers show more caution with less than 12 per cent willing to purchase larger items online without seeing it in person first. On the whole, Millennials are most comfortable with new technologies.

Interfor To Reconfigure B.C. Coastal Business

Interfor Corporation will reconfigure its British Columbia coastal business, including permanent closure of its Hammond sawmill in Maple Ridge and reorganization of its forestry and woodlands operations. The plan is expected to result in the repatriation of working capital tied up at Hammond, the monetization of related real estate, and improved results in the years ahead. The Hammond sawmill, which was built in 1963, has a two-shift capacity of approximately 150 million board feet per year, but has been operating on a one-shift basis for some years due to log supply constraints and other factors. The closure is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, after the mill’s remaining log and lumber inventories are processed and shipped. The company’s B.C. coastal forestry and woodlands operations will be reorganized to focus on value realization rather than operational integration with Hammond. In addition, the company will explore opportunities to increase the supply of logs for its Acorn sawmill, located in Delta, BC.

Goodman Makes Changes

Satoru Akama is president and chief executive officer of Goodman Global Group, Inc., a member of the Daikin group. He has been with the company since 1986. Bradley Snyder is senior vice-president and president of the Goodman Business Unit for Goodman Manufacturing Company, L.P. Previously, he was senior vice-president of North American sales and distribution.

September 10, 2019

Vancouver Home Sales Back To Normal Levels

Home buyer activity increased to more typical levels in Metro Vancouver, BC, throughout the summer months, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential home sales in the region totalled 2,231 in August, a 15.7 per cent increase from the 1,929 sales recorded in August 2018 and a 12.7 per cent decrease from the 2,557 homes sold in July. Sales were 9.2 per cent below the 10-year August sales average. In August, there were 3,747 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in Metro Vancouver. This represents a 3.5 per cent decrease compared to the 3,881 homes listed in August 2018 and an 18.8 per cent decrease compared to July when 4,613 homes were listed. The total number of homes listed for sale in August was 13,396, a 13.3 per cent increase compared to the same period a year ago, and a 5.9 per cent decrease compared to July.

NL Store Chooses Castle

Roddickton, NL-based NRO is the newest member of Castle Building Centres Group Limited. The picturesque community located on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland is well-known for its fishing and logging industries and is also the shopping hub of the area. Owners Randy and Phyllis Randell already operate two businesses and have served the community for many years. Their newest venture will offer a complete line of paint, hardware, plumbing, electrical, tools, and seasonal products. The Randells chose Castle because other family members own a Castle Building Centre and they knew the buying group was the right choice for them. The long-term plan is to continue to grow the business into a full-service building supply store over the next five years including a large lumber yard and storage facility. NRO will hold a special grand opening celebration in the fall.

Ace Hardware Acquires Handyman Franchise

Ace Hardware Corporation has completed the acquisition of Handyman Matters, a U.S. franchisor of home repair, maintenance, and improvement services. Handyman Matters will become Ace Handyman Services and operate as a stand-alone, subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation. Handyman Matters is a franchise organization comprised of locally owned and operated and company-owned locations that offer professional and multi-skilled craftsmen and women trained to handle homeowners' small or larger projects. On-site services to consumers and small businesses include carpentry, plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, and flooring. The franchisor currently has 57 franchisees who collectively employ approximately 250 handymen and women in 121 territories across 23 states. The acquisition provides a platform from which Ace can expand its presence in the growing do-it-for-me (DIFM) segment, says John Venhuizen, president and CEO.

Uniboard Launches Digital Designs

Composite wood panel manufacturer Uniboard has launched Studio, a collection of 20 digital designs. These colours will be available through the company's authorized melamine distributors. Inspired by the arts and creative expression, Studio is comprised of 20 designs offered in a vellum finish on a particleboard or MDF core. This line is mainly aimed at the architectural, commercial, and institutional segments. The colours are also available on HPL (high pressure laminates).

West Fraser To Reduce Production

West Fraser will introduce variable operating schedules at five of its British Columbia sawmills that will result in an estimated decrease of production in the range of 15 to 25 per cent of current B.C. lumber production. The operating schedules at these sawmills will vary and be adjusted from time to time depending on market conditions. The potential effect of the revised operating schedules could be an aggregate reduction by up to an estimated 100 million board feet through to the end of the year. The company will also curtail B.C. plywood production for two weeks reducing output by approximately nine million board feet. These production reductions and curtailments are a result of sustained weak markets, pricing in wood product markets, and high log costs. West Fraser anticipates continuing the variable operating schedules at its B.C. sawmills until market and economic conditions support a return to full production.

Montreal Port Partner Gets Funding       

The government of Quebec is providing $1.4 million of support to LOGISTEC Corporation for Termont Montreal, a LOGISTEC joint-venture, to convert 57 terminal tractors into diesel-electric hybrid vehicles equipped with automatic stop-start technology. With this financial support, Termont will become the first port operator in the world to convert its entire fleet into hybrid vehicles and will help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the Port of Montreal. Termont is a key partner in the supply chain at the Port of Montreal and in Quebec.

May To Lead Deere & Co.

John C. May will be chief executive officer of the Deere & Company, effective November 4. He has been with the company since 1997, currently in the roles of president and chief operating officer.

September 9, 2019

August Manufacturing Conditions Worsen

August data revealed a renewed deterioration in business conditions across the Canadian manufacturing sector, following a slight improvement during the previous month. This was highlighted by a fall in the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) to 49.1 in August, from 50.2 in July. The latest PMI reading was the lowest for three months and signaled a modest downturn in overall manufacturing performance. A sharper reduction in new order intakes was a key factor weighing on the headline index in August. New work has now declined for six months running and the latest fall was the sharpest since December 2015. Survey respondents noted that U.S.-China trade tensions, subdued energy sector spending, and greater global economic uncertainty had all acted as a brake on client demand. The PMI also showed that supply chain pressures moderated in August, as signaled by an improvement in vendor performance for the first time since June 2013. Manufacturers noted that reduced demand for inputs had contributed to shorter delivery times from suppliers in August.

Founder Wants To Take Lumber Liquidators Private

Thomas D. Sullivan, founder of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc., is working on a bid to take the company private and is urging stakeholders to consider options for the chain, including a potential sale. Sullivan owns approximately six per cent of the company's shares through his company, F9 Investments LLC. He says he is currently working with private equity companies and banks about a possible bid for the company. If successful, he is considering merging the chain with his other company Cabinets To Go. Lumber Liquidators has 415 locations in North America.

Whirlwind Top GLIDDEN Colour

Whirlwind ‒ a cool grey with a touch of blue ‒ is the colour people will actually use in 2019 and beyond, says GLIDDEN paint. The company chose a popular colour instead of predicting new colours for the coming year. “Greys have been trending for more than a decade,” says Kim Perry, a colour expert at Glidden paint. “Whirlwind was one of our top tinted colours this year, so DIYers can rest easy knowing they can enjoy it for years to come.” She says Whirlwind is an "easy-to-get-along-with colour that's an alternative to basic white or beige."

Bona Celebrates 100 Years

Hardwood floor care product manufacturer Bona celebrates100 years in business this year. The family-owned company started out when founder Wilhelm Edner owned a small grocery store in Sweden where, among other products, he sold bonvax, an agent that would create a polished and protected surface to wood floors. Edner realized the potential of bonvax and incorporated Bona AB in 1919. In the early 1970s, the company removed toxic and hazardous chemicals from the hardwood floor finish and created a water-based finish as a reliable and durable alternative. Today, Bona is present in more than 90 countries with almost 600 employees. While the company's heritage is in hardwood floors, it will soon begin expanding its offerings into other hard surface floor categories.

Hoekstra Has New Role

Brian Hoekstra is vice-president of mergers and acquisitions, a newly-created position at Lawson Products, Inc. He joins the company from W.W. Grainger, where he served as senior director, mergers and acquisitions.

September 6, 2019

Home Sales Up Year-over-year

A total of 7,711 residential sales took place in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) for August, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This was a 13.4 per cent increase over sales in August of last year. On a month-over-month basis, sales were up 0.8 per cent. Sales were up in all major market segments, with annual rates of sales growth strongest for low-rise home types including detached houses. This reflects the fact that demand for more expensive home types was very low in 2018 and has rebounded to a certain degree in 2019, albeit not back to record levels experienced in 2016 and early 2017. Market conditions also became tighter in August compared to a year ago because, while sales were up year-over-year, new listings were down by three per cent over the same time period. Year-to-date, growth in sales has outstripped growth in new listings.

Construction Plastic Market To See Solid Growth

The global construction plastic market is expected to reach US$143.23 billion by 2025 from $82.56 billion in 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.13 per cent during the forecast period, says research by Fior Market Research. The key contributing factors for the growth of construction plastic market are an increase in construction activities in both residential and non-residential sectors. The report says plastics are replacing conventional construction materials due to their superior cost effectiveness, weight-to-strength ratio, and ease of application. Huge construction activities in residential as well non-residential sectors are proving to be a major driving force for the growth of the market. Increasing urbanization and the push for improving and retrofitting existing housing structures, as well as the global emphasis on recycling of plastic materials have also provided positive stimulus to research and develop of new plastic materials for construction purposes.

Globe Union Acquires NAMCE

Globe Union Industrial Corporation, parent company of Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, has acquired Mexico-based vitreous china manufacturer, NAMCE S. de R.L. de C.V. Vitreous china is a glazing technique that is added to porcelain. It is a glass-based enamel coating that increases durability and shine. The acquisition provides future growth opportunities for the Gerber brands by increasing vitreous china capacity in North America and diversifying the company's supply base. With this partnership, the company will continue to improve the supply of vitreous china products throughout North America. NAMCE’s facility houses advanced manufacturing equipment and allows Gerber to reduce lead time as it provides an established, successful manufacturing plant closer to its core North American market. The extended capabilities will support growth into supplementary segments of the market.

AQMAT Veteran Passes Away

Claude Dagenais, retired sales manager of AQMAT, has passed away at the age of 78. He worked with the organization for 30 years and devoted his career to the hardware industry. He is survived by his wife, Monique Lefebvre Dagenais; his mother, Georgette René; his children, Josée and Francis; and grandchildren. A memorial will be held today at La Maison Darche, Dignity Memorial in Chambly, QC.

McIsaac Named Hilti CEO

Martina McIsaac will be region head and chief executive officer of Hilti North America, effective January 1. She is currently general manager of Hilti Canada and has been with the company since 2013.

September 5, 2019

Millennials To Drive Consumer Trends

Global consumer trends are evolving at an unprecedented pace. In Canada, the population is becoming increasingly heterogeneous with Millennials representing a significant part of the population, says Infiniti Research. Millennials are considered to be extremely dynamic in terms of their shopping habits, making it highly challenging for brands to effectively capture their brand loyalty. One of the most common Millennial consumer trends is the use of smartphones and mobile devices to browse through products and shop. The purchase decisions of Millennial consumers are largely influenced by social media or what they read about a product online. Furthermore, retailers also have to deal with a more diverse set of consumers with a much broader set of needs. Responsible consumerism is a popular consumer trend that will soon go mainstream in Canada. As the ease of buying goods of their choice increases, modern consumers will now favour brands that help them make more responsible and better choices. Other trends include personalized experience and on-demand shopping and an increased focus on health and wellness.

Strong Demand Forecast For LED Table Lamps

The global LED table lamps market size is expected to reach US$13.37 billion by 2025 registering a compound annual growth rate of 15.2 per cent, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Rising demand for energy-efficient lighting systems owing to increasing awareness about global warming is the key factor driving the product sales. In addition, growing popularity of smart homes is propelling product demand. The commercial application segment led the global LED table lamps market in 2018 and will retain its dominant position throughout the forecast years. However, decorative lamps are expected to be the fastest-growing as well as the largest product segment during the forecast years. The offline distribution channel is the largest segment, but the online segment will expand at the maximum growth rate from 2019 to 2025, says the report.

CertainTeed’s Matterhorn Roofing Available In Canada

CertainTeed’s Matterhorn metal roofing is now available throughout Canada. This product utilizes mottling, chiseling, and other techniques to replicate the look of real wood shake, quarried slate, and traditional clay tile roofing, in a deep-drawn steel format that is lightweight, fully recyclable, and energy-efficient. It also features an anti-corrosive proprietary paint coating system and 16 cool roof-rated colours that reflect up to 66 per cent of the sun’s rays. The design features Class 4 impact resistance, Class A fire resistance, and a 130-mph wind rating. As well, CertainTeed offers roofing companies the opportunity to participate in its education-based Metal Roofing Contractor Credential Program, which provides contractors with information and training on how to install Matterhorn to the manufacturer’s specifications.

ARAUCO To Acquire Prime-Line

ARAUCO, a global producer of wood products, has signed an agreement to acquire Prime-Line, Inc., a privately-held manufacturer of medium density fibreboard (MDF) moulding and millwork products. The acquisition will strengthen ARAUCO’s presence in the North American moulding industry with an integrated solution that enhances its ability to provide customers with value-added products. In 2014, Prime-Line expanded and built a state-of-the-art plant on a site adjacent to ARAUCO’s MDF plant in Malvern, PA. The 100,000-square-foot facility includes three fully automated moulding lines with an installed annual capacity of 135,000 m3. ARAUCO has been a long-time partner of Prime-Line and has been its primary supplier of MDF panel for many years.

Otimo Acquires XCCommerce

Otimo Retail, a Montreal, QC-based private investment firm focused on retail technology, has acquired XCCommerce. XCCommerce provides performant omni-channel promotion and coupon solutions. Otimo Retail also benefited from the funding and strategic support of Desjardins Capital as an institutional investor in the acquisition of XCCommerce. By joining forces and combining the breadth of their expertise, Otimo Retail and XCCommerce now offer retailers the power to optimize their promotional and coupon initiatives within a unified commerce approach.

Wallace Moves Up

Rob Wallace is vice-president, marketing, at Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, he was senior director, marketing.

September 4, 2019

Purchase Prices Affect Retail Lumber Prices

Canadian retail prices for framing lumber rose 34 per cent in 2018 compared to 2016 driven by a confluence of factors in the commodity markets, says Statistics Canada. This increase contributed to higher construction costs for new residential buildings observed in 2018 across many regions. Canadian wholesalers and retailers of lumber largely passed on cost pressures originating from commodity markets to consumers. The retail price increase for lumber was due to rising purchase prices which increased 32 per cent during the same time. From 2013 to 2015, relatively stable selling prices were recorded averaging $3.1 per unit. Selling prices of framing lumber peaked in July of 2018 averaging $4.7 per unit followed by a sharp decline in the latter half of the year. This decrease was mainly due to supply increases in the commodity markets and reduced demand for lumber in the U.S. housing market. Wholesalers also reported similar price trends as retailers. The average wholesale selling price of framing lumber (per thousand board feet) rose 33 per cent in 2018 compared to 2016, consistent with the rise in purchase prices faced by retailers during this period. Wholesalers also experienced rising producer prices and passed the higher costs to retailers. From 2013 to 2018, wholesale gross margins for framing lumber ranged between six and 14 cents of every dollar of sale with peaks in 2013, 2015, and 2018.

Canada To Invest In Wood Plastic Composite Development

The government of Canada and the ministry of natural resources are investing $800,000 for the University of Waterloo to develop a thin structured wood plastic composite for use in construction, automotive, and packing applications. This investment will use recycled plastics, reduce burdens on landfills, and reduce the cost of production, while providing new market opportunities for Canada's forest sector. Converting forestry waste materials into wood-plastic composites can reduce the use of carbon and other rubber components in production, which will provide both energy and cost savings. This project is funded by Natural Resources Canada's Clean Growth Program, which invests in clean technology research and developmental projects in Canada's energy, mining, and forest sectors. The Clean Growth Program also aims to reduce greenhouse gas and air-polluting emissions, while minimizing landscape disturbances and improving waste management practices.

Johnson Controls Launches Retail Anti-theft Solutions Line

Johnson Controls’ global retail solutions portfolio, Sensormatic Solutions, has unveiled a line of Sensormatic Essentials Radio Frequency-based (RF) anti-theft solutions. Building on its Acousto-Magnetic (AM) electronic article surveillance (EAS) technology and RFID-based EAS and LP offerings, the company now provides retailers a single solution regardless of their technology choice and store format. The Sensormatic Essentials RF product portfolio provides a visual deterrent and wide exit coverage to support a variety of storefront entrances. Retailers can also choose from a range of RF sensors and labels to suit a variety of product categories. The RF portfolio will leverage the Google cloud-based sensormatic shrink management as a service (SMaaS) platform for improved equipment uptime and data analytics to help reduce shrink, combat organized retail crime (ORC), and improve sales and staffing.

Square Unveils Portable POS Terminal

Payments and point-of-sale company Square has launched Square Terminal, a portable, all-in-one payments device for Canadian sellers to ring up sales, accept all forms of payment, and print or eMail receipts. Built in-house and in part by hardware engineers in Square’s Toronto, ON, office, Square Terminal is a dedicated payments device for a wide range of sellers who don’t want to use a consumer device such as a smartphone or tablet as a business tool. Battery-powered with both Wi-Fi and Ethernet internet connections, the device can take payments at or beyond a countertop and even works when internet service is temporarily unavailable.

Foltz Promoted To Director

Mark Foltz is director of retail and national accounts with Boral Building Products. In this role, he will execute all sales strategies for retail and national accounts, as well as international accounts and architectural services. He has 28 years of experience in the building products industry.

September 3, 2019

Retail Sales Growth Weakens Again

Retail sales growth in the second quarter was just 1.5 per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis. This was even lower than the dismal 1.8 per cent increase for the first quarter, although both are slightly ahead of the 1.3 per cent gain in the fourth quarter of 2018, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. All these low growth rates are less than price inflation plus population growth and should not be sustainable, but you never know, he says. What looked like some recovery earlier in the year turned out to be a red herring. “Both trends are now weakening and there doesn't appear to be much cause for optimism moving forward. The automotive and related sector is the main drag on total retail sales, but other retail sectors are not picking up the slack either. A few store types did have a particularly solid second quarter. Furniture stores' retail sales gained 5.8 per cent year-over-year in the quarter, while general merchandise stores were up 4.9 per cent. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 24 per cent year-over-year for the second quarter.

Royal, Alexandria Partnership Adds Professional Channel

Royal Building Products, a Westlake Company, is expanding its relationship with Alexandria Moulding, a division of U.S. Lumber, as a preferred distributor of Royal Trim & Mouldings and Celect Cellular Composite Siding by Royal across Canada to the professional channels. Alexandria Moulding is a global moulding manufacturer and distributor of wood and wood composite mouldings and related products. Royal has previously worked with Alexandria Moulding in Canada to distribute to retail partners only.

Government Process Seeks Innovative Solutions

As the single largest purchaser of goods and services, the federal government is using procurement to help Canadian small businesses. Through the Innovative Solutions Canada program, government departments are inviting small businesses to propose a new innovative solution that addresses a specific challenge they face. Successful small businesses may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development and could, if accepted into Phase 2, receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. The government can then act as a first customer, which helps small businesses to commercialize their innovations, scale up their business, and create middle-class jobs. Two proposed challenges include Shared Services Canada (SCC), which spends too much time and money and too many resources gathering information on current technologies, applications, and services in aging data centres. That is why it is seeking a solution to collect and analyze information from multiple data centres in order to develop new options for reducing its infrastructure and create new plans for data centre migrations. Additionally, SSC and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat are seeking a standardized method for issuing and rapidly verifying portable digital credentials. A successful solution to this challenge will help reduce human error, increase efficiency, and ensure digital credential validity using cryptography.

Ebates.ca Rebrands To Rakuten.ca

Shopping rewards company Ebates.ca has formally rebranded to Rakuten.ca, in a move that follows Ebates' 2014 acquisition by global parent company Rakuten Inc. The rebrand allows the company to continue to provide members the same benefits and rewards, while also leveraging its global presence and partnerships. In addition, Rakuten.ca will continue to enhance the Cash Back rewards shopping experience by expanding its merchant partners. The word 'rakuten' translates into 'optimism,' a fitting sentiment, says the company, as it plans to celebrate its new name and its seven-year anniversary of being in Canada. The company has also moved its Canadian headquarters to Toronto, ON.

Lloyd Acts As CFO

Anne Lloyd is interim chief financial officer with James Hardie. Previously, she served as chief financial officer of Martin Marietta. She has also been a member of James Hardie's board of directors since 2018. The company is initiated a search for a permanent CFO.

Dollar Tree Sales Increase

Dollar Tree, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $5.74 billion for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.9 per cent compared to net sales of $5.53 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Same-store sales increased 2.4 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit for the quarter was $1.65 billion compared to $1.66 billion in the year-ago period. Gross margin was 28.7 per cent of sales compared to 30.1 per cent of sales last year. The decrease in gross profit margin was driven by higher freight costs for both segments, and markdowns and shrink in the Family Dollar segment. Net income was $180.3 million compared to $273.9 million last year.

August 30, 2019

Payroll Taxes Take Bite Out Of Earnings

Payroll taxes are taking a big bite out of employers' and employees' earnings and it is about to get even bigger, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). This burden is so severe that 77 per cent of small business owners say that payroll taxes are the form of taxation that most severely impedes their growth. Depending on where their business is located, an employer faces between three and seven different payroll taxes, including CPP/QPP, EI, and Workers' Compensation. In Ontario, an employer pays $5,114 in payroll taxes for a $50,000 salary, bringing their total costs to $55,114. The employee pays $3,182 in payroll taxes, leaving them with a net income of $46,818. In Quebec, which has the highest number of payroll taxes, an employer has to pay $56,488 for a $50,000 salary, but the employee only takes home $46,531 (before income taxes), after their $3,469 share of payroll taxes is deducted. "Governments need to move away from payroll taxes if they want to avoid suffocating small businesses and the labour market," says Marvin Cruz, senior research analyst at CFIB. "In the short term, employers usually try to offset their payroll tax costs by raising prices or cutting back on hiring. In the long run, however, payroll taxes lead to lower wages for employees which, in turn, reduces their purchasing power." In ‘Taxing Payroll: A Barrier to Business Growth and Competitiveness,’ CFIB asks all provincial governments to eliminate provincial health and/or education payroll taxes within the next 10 years. In the meantime, governments should introduce an exemption threshold or raise the existing one to at least $2.5 million in total annual payroll and index it to inflation in order to help small firms stay profitable. In addition, CFIB recommends that federal and provincial governments exempt senior employees (over 65) and young workers (under 18) from payroll taxes.

Lowe’s Canada Launches ‘2019 Heroes’ Campaign

Lowe’s Canada has launched its ‘2019 Heroes’ campaign. As part of this campaign, every Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate store in the country has chosen to support the mission or a project of a local non-profit organization or public school ‒ a hero in its community. From September 1 to 30, customers will be able to make a donation at checkout to support their local organization. Lowe's Canada will match 50 per cent of all customer donations up to $2,000 per store. This year, some 270 corporate stores from the Lowe's Canada network will support over 245 organizations during the campaign.

Steady Growth Forecast For Landscaping Products

The global landscaping products market size is expected to reach US$91.9 billion by 2025 registering a compound annual growth rate of 5.4 per cent during the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research. Growing importance of outdoor spaces such as lounging areas, entertainment areas, and outdoor kitchens, is driving the demand for products including plants, water fountains, and gazebos. Renovating outdoor spaces not only brings aesthetics to the infrastructure, but also increases its value, which is also one of the key factors responsible for rising demand for these products. Rapidly expanding real estate industry is also expected to have a positive impact on the market growth over the forecast period. The planting material segment held the largest market share in 2018 and is expected to retain its market position over the forecast period. Moreover, rising focus on increasing the sustainability of the infrastructures will support the market growth in this segment.

Companies Bid For Masco Cabinet Business

Private equity firms Bain Capital and American Industrial Partners and Clearlake Capital Group LP and W.W. Grainger Inc. are among the bidders for Masco's cabinet-making unit, says Bloomberg. The division is expected to sell for about $1.2 billion. The business unit had $488 million in sales for the first half of 2019. Masco announced in June that it wanted to divest the business unit. However, Bloomberg says that the company may decide to keep the business. Masco says the decision to consider selling the cabinet-making unit was part of its strategy to reduce its cyclicality by increasing exposure to the repair and remodel segment of the housing market. Thus far, it has already spun off its installation business. The business unit that is up for sale offers more than 300 styles of cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms under the Cardell, KraftMaid, Merillat, and QualityCabinets brands.

Norbord Launches Framer Campaign

To champion framing as a viable career option, Norbord Inc. is launching U.S. ‘#BECOMEAFRAMER’ campaign to get more framers onto job sites. The campaign enables young Americans to learn about the opportunities the construction industry offers, the training required, and schools in their area. The campaign builds on its ‘#THANKAFRAMER’ campaign that the company launched two years ago to raise awareness and train framers to alleviate the labour shortage.

McKenna Named General Merchandise Manager

Greg McKenna is merchandise manager, general merchandise, with Home Hardware Stores Limited. He has nearly 10 years of experience in category management and strategic sourcing, most recently at Sobeys Inc.

August 29, 2019

Golf Tournament Celebrates Importance Of Vendors

On Monday, August 26, Castle Building Centre staff and its vendor partners gathered for the annual ‘Castle Vendor Appreciation Golf Tournament.’ Over 150 guests, including Castle board members and vendor partners from across Canada attended the annual event and enjoyed a fun-filled day of golf, camaraderie, and charity golf challenges. The participants had the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, win great prizes, and enjoy a spectacular day at an award-winning course. “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,” said Ken Jenkins, Castle president The golf tournament participants raised an all-time record amount of $35,000 in charitable donations for SickKids Foundation.

Canada Launches Rebate Program For Ontarians

The government of Canada has launched its 'Energy Savings Rebate' program in Ontario. Through the program, a total of $200 million of support over two years will be provided to Ontario retailers to offer up to 25 per cent off the purchase price of specific energy-saving products. These products can help Ontarians reduce their energy use by up to 60 per cent. Products include washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, water heaters, heat pumps, and electric vehicle chargers. Participating retailers include RONA, Lowe's, Canadian Tire, Best Buy Canada, and Tepperman's. The program is funded from a portion of Ontario's Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund allocation. Ontario residents can take advantage of this program in-store or online through eligible retailers. For more information, visit Energy Savings Rebate program

Cybersecurity Breaches Continue To Rise

The cost of data breaches will rise from $3 trillion each year to over $5 trillion in 2024, an average annual growth of 11 per cent, says a report from Juniper Research. The rise will primarily be driven by increasing fines for data breaches as regulation tightens, as well as a greater proportion of business lost as enterprises become more dependent on the digital realm. Cybercrime is increasingly sophisticated; the report says that cybercriminals will use AI (artificial intelligence) which will learn the behaviour of security systems in a similar way to how cybersecurity firms currently employ the technology to detect abnormal behaviour. However, in spite of cybersecurity becoming increasingly part of corporate culture, it is not necessarily gaining traction with system users. As a result, Juniper Research expects that security awareness training will become an increasingly important part of enterprise cybersecurity practice. The gains that can be made by increasing human awareness of cybersecurity can make more efficient use of cybersecurity spending, which Juniper Research expects to rise by only eight per cent per annum in the forecast period.

Canfor Implements Further Curtailments

Canfor Corporation is implementing additional operating curtailments which will reduce production capacity by 75 million board feet between September 3 and the end of the year. Its Houston, Polar, Prince George, and Fort St. John sawmills in British Columbia will be curtailed the week of September 3. In addition, Canfor’s Plateau and Houston, BC, mills will transition to a four-day work week in September, which will remain in effect until market and economic conditions support a return to the full operating schedule of five days per week.

Nighbor Elected President Of ICFPA

Derek Nighbor has been elected as president of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). He is currently the president and chief executive officer of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and will serve as ICFPA president for the next two years in conjunction with his role at FPAC.

Slight Sales Increase For James Hardie

James Hardie had net sales of $656.8 million for the first quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, an increase of one per cent compared to the first quarter of its 2019 year. Group adjusted net operating profit was $90.2 million for the quarter, an increase of 13 per cent over the year-ago period. EBIT was $124.4 million, up 16 per cent year-over-year. The North American fibre cement segment volume increased four per cent over last year with an EBIT margin of 25.1 per cent. The exteriors business grew five per cent in volume compared to the prior year quarter.

August 28, 2019

Cabinet Shoppers First Researching Online

As kitchen cabinet customers seek to make aesthetic upgrades to their homes, they are doing research to determine which brand will best deliver on their vision, says J.D. Power in its '2019 Kitchen Cabinets Satisfaction Study.' "Kitchen cabinet shoppers are quite open-minded as they start to shop for the brands they are considering as there is not as much brand awareness with cabinets as there is with some other major home improvement categories," says Christina Cooley, at home intelligence lead at J.D. Power. "Therefore, manufacturers must focus on establishing a presence online, making it easy for shoppers to understand their options, the value behind the brand, and how to purchase. If manufacturers can differentiate from the competition earlier in the shopping process, it facilitates a positive relationship with customers from the get-go, thus driving positive overall satisfaction."

High-end Materials To Lead Countertop Demand

Global demand for countertops is anticipated to reach 540 million square metres in 2023, says research from the Freedonia Group. While more basic materials such as solid surface and laminate are expected to remain the most widely installed countertops, higher end materials such as granite and engineered quartz will continue to account for a significant amount of demand. In fact, engineered quartz is forecasted to increase its share of the market, partly at the expense of granite. Granite has historically been seen as an aesthetically pleasing material with excellent performance properties and its higher cost has made it the countertop of choice for more upscale applications. However, granite has begun to lose market share to engineered quartz, which offers both durability and a good appearance at a lower price point. Engineered quartz is also manufactured using natural stone aggregates and resins, which makes it more readily available than granite which must be extracted from a quarry and meet certain standards before being used for countertops.

Giant Tiger Opens Kingston Location

Giant Tiger has officially opened its Kingston, ON, store. The 18,130-square-foot store will be stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

Worklight Can Be Mounted And Hung

Klein Tools has launched the Rechargeable Personal Worklight, which is capable of standing, hooking, hanging, or magnetically mounting wherever a professional is working. Additional features include an integrated USB-A port to charge smartphones and other small devices. The tool has two illumination intensities – high at 460 lumens and a nine-hour runtime and low at 175 lumens with a 16-hour run time. The light can be shone in many directions with a head that rotates 360 degrees and a kickstand that rotates 270 degrees. It also features a battery gauge to indicate remaining battery life.

Barbeito Appointed CEO Of Walmart Canada

Horacio (Haio) Barbeito has been appointed as president and chief executive officer of Walmart Canada, effective October. He joined the company 25 years ago and developed his career through leadership roles in Argentina, the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Chile.

Acquisitions Drive Intertape Revenues

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. had revenue of $295.6 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 18.7 per cent over the second quarter of 2019 primarily due to acquisitions and an increase in volume and mix in product categories related to these investments. Gross margin was unchanged from 21.9 per cent. Net earnings were $6.6 million for the quarter, a decrease compared to net earnings of $15.1 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA increased 27.6 per cent to $44.2 million for the quarter.

August 27, 2019

Brands Losing Customers Faster Than Acquiring Them

eCommerce brands are losing mobile customers faster than acquiring them. On average, shopping apps lose 86 per cent of users within the first four weeks of download, says research from CleverTap, a customer retention platform. It says that for eCommerce brands, high customer acquisition costs (CACs) and price-sensitive buyers impact the overall customer lifetime value, and profitability due to low retention. With low entry and exit barriers, customers have a plethora of options to choose from even within niche categories. “The cut-throat competition in the eCommerce industry makes it crucial for brands to deliver a superior experience,” says Almitra Karnik, head of marketing. “Without focusing on retention, brands are trying to fill a leaky bucket, focusing on acquiring more users that don't stick around for long. This impacts the top line as well as customer lifetime value for these brands.”

U.S. Construction Starts Have Third Straight Monthly Gain

Construction starts in July advanced two per cent from the previous month, says Dodge Data & Analytics. This marked the third consecutive monthly increase for total construction starts, following gains of 10 per cent in May and nine per cent in June. By major sector, non-building construction led the way in July with a 24 per cent hike. Non-residential building in July settled back four per cent, following a 16 per cent jump in June. Residential building in July slipped six per cent, as multi-family housing retreated from its elevated June amount. Through the first seven months of 2019, total construction starts were down six per cent from the same period a year ago. The July statistics raised the index to 180, compared to 176 in June, and marked the its highest level so far during 2019. The latest two months have seen the index move above its 2018 monthly average at 172.

Canfor Special Committee Provides Process Update

Canfor Corporation has formed a special committee of its board of directors to review and evaluate the previously announced unsolicited and non-binding proposal by Great Pacific Capital Corp. in which Great Pacific says it is willing to acquire all outstanding common shares of Canfor. The committee of independent directors is comprised of Conrad Pinette (chair), John Baird, Barbara Hislop, and J. McNeill (Mack) Singleton. The committee has retained Greenhill & Co., Canada, Ltd. as financial advisor. Greenhill's mandate will include the preparation of a formal independent valuation of the common shares of Canfor. The committee has also retained Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP as its legal council. Canfor says it does not intend to comment on or disclose further developments regarding the special committee’s evaluation of the offer unless and until it deems further disclosure is appropriate or required.

Growth Opportunities Strong In Pet And Feed Market

Growth opportunities in the Global Animal and Pet Nutrition Ingredients Market look promising over the next six years, says a report from Frost & Sullivan. The category is expected to grow from $16.6 billion in 2018 to $24.2 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent during the period. Factors driving sustainable market prospects include strong growth in the livestock feed industry in developing regions with an uptick in aquaculture feed; demand for feed additives; and stringent regulations limiting the use of antibiotics for growth promotion. Meanwhile, increased awareness among pet owners, pertaining to the health of their pets, is set to propel functional ingredients in the pet nutrition sector. The report says retailers should focus on product portfolio expansion and partnerships, including the provision of one-stop solutions to tap into much bigger markets. They should also devise cost-effective production routes to control price volatility and overcome demand challenges in an otherwise price-sensitive market.

August 26, 2019

Small Gains In June Wholesales Sales

Wholesale sales rose 0.6 per cent to $64.1 billion in June, partly offsetting the 1.9 per cent decline in May, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing 54 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the miscellaneous and the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsectors contributed the most to the increase, while the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector posted the largest decline. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.6 per cent. The building materials and supplies sector sales decreased 7.5 per cent, pulled down by lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies, which had a sales decrease of 13.9 per cent. However, the electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment and supplies subsector had an increase in sales of 5.1 per cent. Overall, wholesale inventories rose 1.5 per cent to $93.3 billion in June, the 10th consecutive monthly gain. Following three consecutive monthly increases, inventories in the building material and supplies subsector declined 0.9 per cent to $15.4 billion in June. In dollar terms, the metal service centres industry contributed the most to the decline in building materials inventory.

Instagram Reaches Different Audience

Instagram reaches different audience than other social media like Facebook, but should be integrated with other programs to build on brand image and style, says Tessa Jackson, of Tynedale Advisors. She told the ‘Social Media Marketing Fundamentals’ session at Orgill’s ‘2019 Fall Dealer Market’ that photos posted on Instagram can tell a story about a brand in a way that is not “salesy” by focusing on lifestyle and balanced. However, retailers need to ensure everything shown in a photo is carried in their store. As well, they need to include relevant hashtags which can be found using Instagram’s search function. Retailers do need to make sure the hashtags used fit their voice.

First Hardware Store Opens In Walnut Grove, BC

Ace Hardware in Walnut Grove, BC, has opened its doors. The 5,000-square-foot store is the first hardware in the town and is owned by Al Tsuchiya and Michael Trentalance. The store offers approximately 12,000 products in-store and customers have thousands more products available online at Ace Canada. The owners held a grand opening on August 24 and 25 which featured local dignitaries and a board cutting ceremony.

VOC Architectural Regulations Up For Renewal

Further volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emission reduction measures will likely be implemented by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to align with its proposition to lower the eight-hour ambient air quality standard for ozone to 62 ppb (parts per billion) in 2020 and 60 ppb by 2025, says the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA). CPCA says the architectural VOC regulations will be revisited next year, following ECCC officials’ review of the national architectural VOC survey report expected later this fall. The 10-year federal ‘VOC Agenda 2010-2020’ is set to expire next year and is likely be renewed with a focus on three remaining CASE categories that have yet to be fully addressed: Industrial adhesives, car van light truck assembly coatings/auto parts coatings, and rubber product manufacturing and plastic parts coatings. It is anticipated that a revisited VOC emission inventory will orient the government towards additional industrial CASE categories, should these be identified among significant remaining contributors to national VOC emissions.

Strong Growth Forecast For Construction Composites

The global construction composites market is expected to grow from US$5.5 billion in 2017 to $8.86 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.14 per cent from 2018 to 2025, says a report by Fior Markets. Increasing adoption of composites in the construction industry and properties of having low maintenance cost and longer life are forecasted to propel growth. The increasing need to replace traditional materials such as wood and aluminum has also driven demand. Construction composites are increasingly being used in mainstream construction activities around the world. They are also being used in innovative applications due to their light weight and endurance. The carbon fibre segment is expected to achieve the highest market share at 42 per cent; however, glass fibre is expected to increasingly replace carbon fibre and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 7.5 per cent during the forecast period. The thermoplastic resin segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.15 per cent.

More Finishes Available For Schluter Shower Grates

Schluter-Systems’ shower grates are now available in more designer finishes. The KERDI-DRAIN point drains now come in rose gold, vintage gold, classic gold, and nickel. The finishes are available on all four patterns of the point drains – Pure, Curve, Floral, and the original grate design.

Retail Drives Ace Hardware Revenues

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.69 billion for the second quarter of 2019, an increase 6.3 per cent compared to revenues of $1.59 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Total retail revenues for the quarter were $158.7 million, an increase of 34.8 per cent. Net income was $53.8 million, a decrease compared to net income of $54.8 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $247.4 million compared to $229.1 million, with strong gains in retail gross profit. U.S. same-store sales were up 1.7 per cent year-over-year and online sales were up 58 per cent.

August 23, 2019

Retailers Gather For Fall Market

The show floor at McCormick Place was packed Thursday as independent retailers from all over the world gathered for Orgill’s ‘2019 Fall Dealer Market.’ Attendees explored 800,000 square feet of show floor discovering new products with special pricing and enjoying networking opportunities. One popular topic in the industry is eCommerce as retailers strive to find the best ways to compete against large online merchants. Orgill has hosted an ‘eCommerce Symposium’ for the past two years on the Wednesday before the dealer markets providing its customers with an environment to share and guide the development of eCommerce solutions that they need. “The ‘eCommerce Symposium’ is a unique gathering of some of the top independent retailers in our industry working together to share insights, solutions, and tackle common challenges as they work to build or improve their eCommerce solutions,” says Boyden Moore, president of Orgill. For more product inspiration, attendees could walk through ‘Product Showcases.’ The ‘Power Tools & Accessories Showcase’ covers 12,000 square feet, features an extensive line-up of new products and deals from well-known vendors in this category. Other ‘Product Showcases’ feature ‘Smart Starts,’ ‘the Spring is Here’ program, and ‘Impulse’ items. The market runs through Saturday. The next Orgill Dealer Market will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, from February 27 to 29, 2020.

Slight Decline In Construction Investment

Total investment in building construction decreased 0.9 per cent in June to $15.1 billion, the first decline in eight months, says Statistics Canada. A slight increase in non-residential investment (one per cent to $4.8 billion) was offset by a decrease in the residential sector (1.8 per cent to $10.3 billion). On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction decreased 1.1 per cent to $12.7 billion. Despite the monthly decrease, total investment grew 1.6 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter. Investment in multi-unit dwellings declined for the first time in eight months, down 4.4 per cent to $5.3 billion, while investment in single-unit construction increased one per cent to $5 billion. The decrease in total residential investment stemmed mainly from declines in British Columbia which dropped $174.1 million. Non-residential investment increased in seven provinces, led by British Columbia ($27.4 million). This growth more than offset the declines in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.

Shoppers Prefer Convenience

While the lowest price and widest selection are, along with convenient locations, the main drivers for buying decision in retail generally, people shop at their local hardware store mostly because of convenience, says Matt Leiser, director of home improvement at the Cleveland Research Company. He said this is reflected by the products bought at hardware stores ‒ hand tools and fasteners. This means these stores need to be on par with the big boxes when it comes to price and product selection. At the other end, home goods and décor as well as cleaning supplies are the least likely products to be purchased. This means they can have a higher price as shoppers may be buying them on impulse. He said hardware home store shopper data reads positively with spending intentions set to push higher. This not only makes hardware stores more immune to the online threat, but means the impact of a potential recession is likely to be less with the industry typically recovering quickly. Retailers also need to watch the battle that is shaping up between Home Depot and Lowe’s. The new management of Lowe’s is made up of former Home Depot employees who are using tactics they learned there to ramp up its competition with their former company. For example, where once Lowe’s took an “accounting” approach which often left a shortage of products. Now, it is loading up on inventory and converting space used formerly for innovation and special orders to bulk merchandising. He also said while sales in the building materials and garden space are in a little bit of a decline, the weather is playing a big role as the last six months have been historically cold and the wettest in history for the U.S.

Construction To Drive PVC Pipe Demand

The global PVC pipes market is expected to reach US$114.32 billion by 2025, says research from Fior Markets. Rising demand from a number of industries, including building and construction, along with rapid urbanization are fuelling the global demand for PVC pipes. The market is expected to grow from $62.43 billion in 2017 to $114.32 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.86 per cent during the forecast period of 2018 to 2025. PVC pipes are being increasingly preferred owing to their chemical resistance, durability, low cost, and recyclability. They have replaced metal and concrete pipes in households, as well as industrial sector, owing to their corrosion resistance, cost-effective, flame resistance, easy to install and handle, and long service life properties. However, newer products such as HDPE and ABS and toxicity concerns related to PVC materials are projected to hamper market growth over the forecast period.

Wright To Direct myWorld Canada

Jason Wright is managing director of myWorld Canada, part of myWorld Retail Services Canada Inc., the Canadian operator of Cashback World, a customer and fan loyalty solution provider. He has more than 20 years of experience in client services and business development and operations and was formerly head of key accounts and business development with myWorld.

Reduced Capacity Affects Conifex Earnings

Conifex Timber Inc. had adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations of negative $13.2 million for the second quarter of 2019, down from positive $19.2 million in the second quarter of 2018. The decrease is primarily attributable to reduced operating earnings. Sales were $95.7 million compared to $138.7 million in the year-ago period. Compared to the first quarter of 2019, adjusted EBITDA for the lumber segment declined by $6.8 million; sales for the lumber segment were $91.3 million compared to $133.6 million last year. Overall net loss from continuing operations was $8.3 million compared to net earnings of $7.7 million. Over the last few months, the company has curtailed operations at its Mackenzie, BC, sawmill twice and indefinitely curtailed operations at its El Dorado, AR, mill.

August 22, 2019

June Manufacturing Sales Slide

Manufacturing sales fell 1.2 per cent to $58 billion in June, following a 1.6 per cent increase in May, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 16 of 21 industries, representing 68 per cent of total manufacturing sales. The petroleum and coal product and food industries accounted for most of the decline in June. The primary metal industry posted the largest increase. Sales were down in eight provinces in June, led by Alberta, while Quebec reported the largest increase. Inventory levels fell 1.5 per cent to $87.8 billion for the month, following six months of increases. Inventories were down in 15 of 21 industries, led by the transportation equipment (4.5 per cent). Decreases were partly offset by a 2.9 per cent increase in machinery inventories. Unfilled orders fell 1.2 per cent to $99.2 billion in June while new orders fell 4.2 per cent to $56.8 billion in June, following a 2.8 per cent gain the previous month. This decrease was mostly due to lower new orders in the aerospace product and parts industry and was partially offset by higher new orders in the primary metal industry.

Paint, Pro Business Drive Lowe's Sales

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had sales of $21 billion for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to sales of $20.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. Comparable sales increased 2.3 per cent year-over-year and comparable sales for the U.S. business increased 3.2 per cent. Online sales increased four per cent year-over-year. Net earnings for the quarter were $1.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in the year-ago period. Increases were partially due to growth in paint and the pro business. Gross margin was $6.7 billion and 32.11 per cent of sales compared to $6.9 billion and 32.96 per cent of sales. Categories that were above company average in sales included paint, tools, appliances, decor, hardware, millwork, and seasonal and outdoor living.

HC Companies Upgrades Website

Horticultural container supplier, The HC Companies, has upgraded its website. It now features a more modern, streamlined design and improved functionality as well as more product information. An enhanced user interface provides customers with more effective product filter and auto-populated sample request forms and is compatible on desktop and mobile platforms. The site will be updated on a regular basis with updated product information, additional imagery, product launches, and industry news through its blog, 'Growing Together.' Additionally, a dedicated cannabis page has been created to support HC's full line of cannabis growing containers in this emerging market.

Warehouse Automation Will Grow Despite Small Dip

Retailers have increased automation in their warehouses at double-digit growth rates during the past few years driven, in part, by the rise of eCommerce and omnichannel retail, says a report by Interact Analysis. While growth is expected to continue at a compound annual growth rate of 12.6 per cent over the next five years, a temporary dip in growth is expected between 2020 and 2021. The dip outlines how, with the growing trade tensions between the U.S. and China coupled with slowing demand in Europe, the global economy is looking increasingly vulnerable and many businesses are delaying capital expenditure. This is reflected in warehouse automation vendors reporting a sharp drop in their order intake. The market will, however, return to double-digit growth rates by 2022.

IKEA Increases Smart Home Focus

IKEA is increasing its focus on the smart home by establishing ‘IKEA Home smart’ as its own business unit within IKEA of Sweden. IKEA Home smart started as a project in 2012 with the goal to enrich life at home by incorporating digital elements and technologies into products and solutions. Several launches within this initiative have been launched since, then, including the upgrade of its smart home app – the IKEA Home smart app – earlier this year. “We have decided to invest significantly in Home smart across IKEA to fast-forward the development,” says Peter van der Poel, manager of IKEA range and supply. “This is the biggest new business we are establishing since the introduction of Children’s IKEA.”

Strong Growth For Alibaba Group

Alibaba Group Holding Limited had revenue of US$16,741 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 42 per cent over revenue in the first quarter of the 2018 year. Income from operations for the quarter was $3,551 million, an increase of 204 per cent year-over-year. The increase would have been 27 per cent excluding share-based compensation expense resulting from Ant Financial’s awards to employees. Adjusted EBITDA increased 34 per cent year-over-year to $5,716 million and net income increased 54 per cent to $4,508 million.

August 21, 2019

Construction Prices Increase Slightly

Prices for construction of residential buildings increased 0.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2019, while the cost of construction of non-residential buildings was up 0.4 per cent, says Statistics Canada. On a quarterly basis, the rise in construction costs of residential and non-residential buildings in Montreal, QC, and Toronto, ON, was the main contributor to the overall price increases in both types of building. Although prices are still high for those two types of products, the increases have been slowing over the last few quarters. Among all of the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) surveyed, Saskatoon, SK, posted the sole decrease in construction costs for residential and non-residential buildings as they were down 0.1 per cent for both types of building. Prices charged by contractors for residential (2.7 per cent) and non-residential (3.9 per cent) building construction were up over the 12-month period ending in the second quarter.

Increased Average Ticket Helps Home Depot Sales

The Home Depot had sales of $30.8 billion for the second quarter of 2019, a 1.2 per cent increase from sales of $30.5 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter increased three per cent and comparable sales in the U.S. increased 3.1 per cent year-over-year. The number of customer transactions was flat compared to last year, but the average ticket was up 1.7 per cent for the quarter. Net earnings were flat at $3.5 billion compared with the year-ago period. Digital sales were up 20 per cent year-over-year, with roughly half of orders picked up in-store. Departments that trended above company average included indoor garden, appliances, paint, décor/storage, and plumbing.

Canada Post Names eCommerce Award Finalists

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been named a finalist for the ‘Proudly Canadian Award’ and Hudson’s Bay has been named a finalist for the ‘Best Large Retailer Transformation Award’ by Canada Post for its ‘2019 eCommerce Innovation Awards.’ The awards recognize retailers of all sizes that are leading the way for innovation in eCommerce.

Effective Messaging Important For Window Sales

As visual differentiation between windows and patio doors can be difficult, it is more important than ever that manufacturers and retailers focus on effective product messaging and customer service throughout the purchase and installation process to stand out, says J.D. Power in its '2019 Windows and Patio Doors Satisfaction Study.' “To the typical window customer, it may be difficult to distinguish between two different window brands just based on appearance alone, which means manufacturers and retailers must put forth the effort to differentiate themselves through trust,” says Christina Cooley, at home intelligence lead at J.D. Power. “To continue to increase customer satisfaction, the focus must be on the contact points with the customer from crafting simple, helpful, and effective messaging to attentive and efficient sales and installation processes.”

Walsh Becomes Chief Financial Officer

Nancy A. Walsh will be chief financial officer at Lumber Liquidators, effective September 9. She has more than 30 years of experience, most recently as executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Pier 1 Imports Inc.

Doors And Security Segment Leads Fortune Brands Sales

Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. had sales of $1.5 billion for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of five per cent over sales of $1.43 million in the second quarter of 2018. The plumbing segment sales increased five per cent year-over-year; the cabinet segment sales were flat; and the doors and security segment sales increased 19 per cent, driven by the recent Fiberon acquisition. Overall operating income was $202.4 million compared to $188.6 million in the prior-year quarter. EBITDA was $250 million versus $246 million a year ago.

August 20, 2019

Driver Shortage To Affect Supply Chain

An aging driver population, increases in freight volumes, and competition from other blue-collar careers are contributing to a shortage in drivers, says the American Trucking Association (ATA). In a report examining the problem, the ATA says the industry needed 60,800 more drivers at the end of 2018 to meet U.S. demands for freight services. “The combination of a surging freight economy and carriers’ need for qualified drivers could severely disrupt the supply chain," says Bob Costello chief economist with ATA. "The increase in the driver shortage should be a warning to carriers, shippers, and policymakers because if conditions don’t change substantively, our industry could be short just over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 drivers in 2028.” In order to meet freight demand, the trucking industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade – an average of 110,000 per year – to replace retiring drivers and keep up with growth in the economy. “The driver shortage is really a problem for the entire supply chain as 71.4 per cent of all freight tonnage is moved on the nation’s highways,” says the report. Canada is also facing a driver shortage; the Canadian Trucking Alliance says the trucking industry will be short as many as 48,000 drivers by 2024.

Smart Glass Provides Opportunities In Windows Market

Smart glass provides an opportunity for window manufacturers to increase the value and functionality of their products, says a study by Freedonia Group. Smart glass ‒ which includes technologies such as electrochromic glass and dynamic glazing ‒ can electronically darken or lighten. They can be designed with 'intelligent' sensors that respond to changes in temperature, angle of the sun, cloud cover, and security breaches, as well as to architectural features such as overhangs. While they remain very niche, interest in smart glass is growing quickly as builders, building owners, and office managers recognize the benefits of these products that integrate with the Internet of Things (IoT). Benefits include superior energy efficiency, ability to increase employee focus and productivity in workplace environments, security features, and other communicative abilities such as alerting maintenance crews to relevant problems. Additionally, the self-adjusting capabilities of smart windows eliminate the need for curtains and blinds.

EDC, RBC Support Clean-tech Company     

Export Development Canada (EDC) and RBC are providing a US$600,000 bonding facility to Stromcore Energy Inc., a Canadian company that produces emissions-free clean technology in the form of lithium-ion battery systems adaptable to any forklift brand or class. The funding is to help the company remain competitive with international businesses. About 60 per cent of the forklift fleet in North America is electric, but almost all of them (99 per cent), are using lead-acid batteries, "so there's a lot of room for growth," says Max Vidricaird, chief business officer with Stromcore. The bonding facility follows an operating line of credit provided to Stromcore by EDC and RBC when the company was established for just one year. Over the past few years, EDC and RBC have also provided support with advice and mentorship. As a result, Stromcore's sales have more than tripled in as many years.

Sorice Named Chief Innovation Officer

Cory Sorice is senior vice-president and chief innovation officer with Masonite International Corporation. He has more than 25 years of marketing, business development, and general management experience, most recently as vice-president and general manager, emerging business, for Chamberlain Group, Inc.

Leon's Has Strong Quarter

Leon's Furniture Limited had total sales of $668 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase over total sales of $650 million in the second quarter of 2018. Same store sales increased 1.9 per cent year-over-year. Revenue for the quarter was $561 million, up 2.6 per cent over revenue of $547 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit margin improved by 40 bps to 43.53 per cent from 43.13 per cent last year. Adjusted EBITDA increased 68.7 per cent to $71 million from $42 million last year; excluding the impact of International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS), adjusted EBITDA increased 16.1 per cent year-over-year.

August 19, 2019

Home Depot Canada Updates In-store Signage

As part of its focus to continually improve its shopping experience for customers, Home Depot Canada is working with its U.S. division to implement new signage to Canadian stores. The concept, developed by agency partners WD Partners and BGI, is called ‘Clean, Simple, Intuitive.’ The goal is to improve the customer experience by improving in-store navigation while also creating a consistent look and feel. With CSI signage, customers see an icon-based wayfinding system in the retailer’s signature orange pantone. The signage also benefits customers where English may not be the preferred or first language. The retailer started testing the signage in 2016 in its Ancaster and Caledonia, ON, stores and says although it is only a small change, it has had a large impact. It plans to convert all Canadian stores, with 35 per cent of stores to be complete by the end of 2019.

U.S. Retail Sales Show Strong Gains

U.S. retail sales were up 0.9 per cent in July seasonally adjusted from June and up 5.6 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The release of July’s numbers comes two days after the Trump administration delayed new tariffs on some consumer goods until December 15 to avoid any impact on holiday spending, but many products will still be hit by tariffs taking effect in September as scheduled. As of July, the three-month moving average was up 3.5 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 3.7 per cent in June. July’s results build on gains of 0.6 per cent month-over-month and 2.2 per cent year-over-year seen in June. Online and other non-store sales were up 19.3 per cent year-over-year and up 2.8 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted. Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.5 per cent year-over-year, but up 0.2 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

Dollarama Closes Latin Acquisition

Dollarama Inc. has closed its previously announced acquisition of a 50.1 per cent interest in Latin American value retailer Dollarcity, thereby establishing a second growth platform in complement to its Canadian growth strategy.

Schlage Launches Smart WiFi Enabled Deadbolt

Schlage has launched a connected lock, the Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt. This lock features built-in WiFi connectivity, eliminating the need for a smart home hub. The lock operates across popular smart home ecosystems, integrating with smart home technology using the Schlage Home App, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. The product features one-button enrolment and connection to in-home WiFi, enabling homeowners to have secure, remote access control from anywhere in the world. The property owner can program up to 100 unique codes, including codes for recurring, temporary, or permanent access. An additional feature is the ability to monitor access via customizable notifications or via the home app activity log.

Taiga Offers NSC Ice Melter

Taiga Building Products and NSC Minerals now offer a less-than-truck (LTL) distribution program, shipping from select Taiga distribution centres in fall/winter 2019/20. Saskatchewan-based NSC is a provider of bulk and retail rock salt and ice melter. Commencing late August, Taiga will offer both a seasonal booking program and a fill-in program (for in-season support) for NSC’s MELTZ ALL Premium Ice Melter, available in four sizes. The product will be distributed in Saskatchewan and Alberta from Taiga's distribution centres in those provinces. Taiga will provide just-in-time inventory and customer service in its typical trading areas.

Grocery Helps Walmart Online Sales

Walmart had total revenue of $130.4 billion for the second quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, an increase of 1.8 per cent over revenue of $128 billion in the second quarter of 2019. U.S. eCommerce sales increased 37 per cent year-over-year (includes strong growth in grocery). Net sales at Walmart International decreased 1.1 per cent over last year due in part to softness in the Canadian market. Overall operating income declined 2.9 per cent to $5.6 billion.

HDI Sales Up 2.1 Per Cent

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $304.5 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.1 per cent over sales of $298.2 in the second quarter of 2018. The increase was attributable to acquisition-based growth and the positive foreign exchange translation impact of a stronger U.S. dollar. Sales in Canada were $36 million compared to $37 million last year. Gross profit margin for the quarter increased to 18.1 per cent, an improvement of 30 basis points from 17.8 per cent in the same period a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $21.2 million and seven per cent of revenue compared to $23.1 million and 7.8 per cent of revenue. Profit was $8.2 million compared to $9.8 million in the same period in 2018.

August 16, 2019

July Home Sales Rise For Fifth Month

Home sales rose for the fifth consecutive month in July, putting them at about 15 per cent above the six-year low reached in February, but still more than 10 per cent below the highs reached in 2016 and 2017, says the Canadian Real Estate Association. Home sales across Canada were up 3.5 per cent over June, with actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity up 12.6 per cent year-over-year. Activity advanced in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver, BC, and Greater Toronto, ON. Sales were up in most of Canada's largest markets, including the lower mainland of British Columbia; Calgary and Edmonton, AB; the Greater Toronto Area; Hamilton, Burlington, and Ottawa, ON; and Montreal, QC. The number of newly-listed homes edged back by 0.4 per cent in July. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where new listings rose and those where they eased. The increase in new listings in Calgary, the GTA, and Edmonton offset a decline in new listings in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and Montreal.

Northwest Building Supplies Joins Castle

Northwest Building Supplies has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Located in Ear Falls, ON, the full-service lumber, building materials, and hardware store is owned by Ricky and Krista Vincent. They are very community-focused and sponsor many local events. They say joining Castle will give them more buying power so they can be more profitable and better serve their customers. A grand opening event will be held later this summer.

UFPI Restructures To Promote Growth

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) will restructure to position itself for accelerated sales and profit growth in the coming years and provide more opportunity for its employees. As of January 1, 2020, the company will be known as UFP Industries, Inc. Under the new structure, the company will be organized around the markets it serves rather than geography. Among other benefits, this will allow for a more specialized and consistent sales approach among all UFPI companies, more efficient use of resources and capital, and quicker introduction of new products and services. The company will be organized so that each business segment aligns with the market it currently serves: UFP Retail, UFP Construction, and UFP Industrial. These segments will each consist of multiple business units (profit centres) led by entrepreneurial members of the UFP team. Each profit centre will have a general manager who will continue to operate his or her facility to enhance customer service, create manufacturing and transportation synergies, and improve overall profitability.

Smart Speakers Not Catching On For Shopping

Augmented reality (AR) and subscription services are among the favourite digital shopping offerings of U.S. consumers, says GfK's 'FutureBuy 2019' report. On the other hand, smart speakers seem to be lagging when it comes to their perceived value as shopping tools. Only eight per cent of shoppers are smart speaker converts ‒ where they have used the devices for shopping and plan to do so again. But an equal proportion (eight per cent) say they have tried smart speaker shopping and do not plan to again. Another 36 per cent of shoppers seem to be hesitating about the concept, saying they have not shopped with a smart speaker and do not plan to. By contrast, 14 per cent of shoppers have used subscription services and plan to continue doing so; that is nearly double the smart speaker rate. Another 21 per cent of shoppers report that they are likely or highly likely to try one of the services in the next year. There are also high levels of curiosity about some of the newest technologies. While only five per cent of shoppers have experienced shopping with augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) and plan to continue, 25 per cent say that they are likely to try it in the next year – the highest level of enthusiasm recorded in the survey.

Federal Brace Launches Floating Shelf System

Federal Brace has released its Low Profile Floating Shelf System, part of its Decorative Shelf System line. This shelf is designed for when a small shelf box profile on a wall-mounted floating shelf is desired, but a more substantial carrying capacity with a secure hold is still required. The unit comes with a gusseted support bracket that ties the supporting arms together with a cross member rib. The cross rib on the shelf bracket improves the overall carrying capacity of the system. The exterior shelf support is made of gauge ¼ʺ steel.

Building Products Leads Griffon Revenues

Griffon Corporation had consolidated revenue of $575 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 11 per cent compared to consolidated revenue of $517 million in the third quarter of 2018. The home and building products (HBP) segment revenue increased 13 per cent year-over year to $495.2 million, due to acquisitions, increased volume, and favourable mix and pricing. Income from continuing operations was $14.1 million compared to $7.4 million in the prior-year quarter. Segment adjusted EBITDA was $65.1 million, an increase of 11 per cent from the prior-year quarter primarily driven by HBP revenue growth.

August 15, 2019

More U.S. Stores Opening Than Closing

More than five retail chains are opening stores for every retailer that is closing stores in the U.S. in 2019, says research from IHL Group. This is up from 3.7 in 2018. In addition, the number of chains adding stores in 2019 increased 56 per cent, while the number of closing stores has decreased by 66 per cent in the last year. Fewer retailers make up the bulk closures this year. In 2018, 20 chains represented 52 per cent of all stores closed. In 2019, the 20 announcing the most closures represent 75 per cent of all closures. As well, 2018 was a peak year in the number of U.S. chains closing stores with 37 per cent reducing their store counts. This number has dropped to 12 per cent of total retailers in 2019. The two primary characteristics of chains closing the most stores has been too much debt and rapid overexpansion driven by historically low interest rates for the last 10 years. Lack of innovation and short-sighted private equity has also played a significant role in many of the chains

Institute To Implement Home Resilience Measures

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction and Doug Tarry Homes Ltd. are planning a pilot project aimed at increasing the resilience of homes to high wind and tornado events. The pilot will result in the installation of risk reduction measures in 100 new homes in a St. Thomas, ON, community. High winds contributed in part to most natural catastrophes recorded by the Insurance Bureau of Canada between 1983 and 2016. Measures to be incorporated into the homes are based on research conducted at Western University. The pilot will focus on basic measures intended to assist in addressing key structure vulnerability factors that have been identified by academic research, including laboratory studies and post-tornado damage inspections. Measures will include enhanced roof sheathing fasteners and enhanced connections between roof framing and supporting walls. They are intended to help protect both individual building structures and neighbouring buildings through reduction of flying debris during high wind and tornado events. The pilot will also generate new information related the experience of builders with the implementation of the wind resistance measures and will provide practical lessons relevant for the building industry across Canada.

Canada Launches Cyber Security Program For SMBs

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has launched a cyber security certification program for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Taking the proper steps to enhance cyber security can help prevent monetary losses, keep valuable intellectual property safe, and protect the privacy of consumers and businesses, it says. The program, called CyberSecure Canada, is a voluntary certification program and an initiative under the Canadian government's National Cyber Security Strategy. Currently, 71 per cent of data breaches happen to small businesses. For more information, visit CyberSecure Canada

UFPI Names New Business Segment Leaders

As part of its recently announced organizational restructuring, Universal Forest Products, Inc. ‒ which will become UFP Industries in 2020 ‒ has named leaders of the new divisions, effective January 1. Allen Peters will be president and chief operating officer of UFP Retail; Patrick Benton will be president of UFP Construction; and Scott Worthington will become president of UFP Industrial. During a transition period, Pat Webster will maintain his duties as COO of UFPI and will take on COO responsibility for UFP Construction and UFP Industrial. Jonathan West will be executive vice-president of Factory Built Housing in the construction segment. Chad Eastin will be executive vice-president of ProWood.

Soft Demand Weakens Continental Earnings

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $124.2 million for the second quarter of 2019, a 10.8 per cent decrease compared to net sales of $139.3 million in the second quarter of 2018. Wallboard sales volumes decreased 6.1 per cent to 678 million square feet driven by softer demand. Net income was $12.8 million, a decrease of 41.3 per cent compared to $21.9 million a year ago and adjusted EBITDA was $32.9 million, down 20.4 per cent compared to $41.4 million.

Soft Demand Contributes To JELD-WEN Decrease

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. had net revenues of $1.119 billion for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of 4.6 per cent compared to revenues of $1.173 billion for the second quarter of 2018. Net income was $22.4 million for the quarter, down 35.6 per cent compared to net income of $34.7 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $127.6 million, down 4.9 per cent compared to $134.1 million. Gross margin decreased 3.2 per cent to $240.2 million. The company says soft demand in North American new construction and a sharp deterioration in the Australasia market contributed to the decrease.

August 14, 2019

Proposal Made To Take Canfor Private    

Great Pacific Capital Corp., a member of the Jim Pattison Group, has made a proposal to the board of directors of Canfor Corporation to take the company private. Great Pacific presently owns approximately 51 per cent of the issued and outstanding shares. Great Pacific says its non-binding proposal is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders for a number of reasons including offering fair value for shares held by minority holders and the elimination of significant administrative expenses incurred in maintaining a public company listing in Canada. Instead, these funds can be reinvested into the stabilization of operations, particularly in British Columbia, where the industry environment remains challenging. In response, Canfor says that at this time, there is no certainty that it will pursue the offer or that it will be completed. Canfor has put together a special committee of independent directors to review the offer and consider its strategic alternatives.

Private Sector Job Vacancies Maintain Record High

Canada's private sector job vacancy rate maintained its record high of 3.2 per cent for the fourth quarter in a row, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its 'Help Wanted' report. In total, 429,000 private sector jobs ‒ 23,000 more than in the second quarter of 2018 ‒ went unfilled for at least four months in the second quarter of 2019. Employers with at least one vacancy expected to push average organization-wide wage levels up by 2.3 per cent compared to the 1.5 per cent gain planned by businesses without any job openings. Firms with fewer than five employees were the hardest hit, reaching a job vacancy rate of 5.4 per cent. Quebec and British Columbia were tied for the tightest labour markets with 3.9 per cent vacancy rates.

Wilsonart To Acquire Quartz Manufacturer

Wilsonart Engineered Surfaces plans to acquire Technistone, a.s., a quartz stone manufacturer that has specialized in the industry for more than 20 years. Technistone is located in the Czech Republic and exports quartz slabs to more than 75 countries worldwide. In 2018, Technistone completed upgrades to its existing Bretonstone production lines to increase capacity and improve design capabilities and quality. Wilsonart says that as the demand for quartz increases in both the commercial and residential markets, the addition of Technistone will allow it to better serve customers. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in September of 2019.

Davidson Acquires Technoform

Richard Davidson, co-owner of sales and marketing firm Davidson Sales & Marketing, has acquired bath product manufacturer Technoform Industries Ltee, says AQMAT. Technoform manufactures acrylic baths and shower bases with VOC-free, eco-friendly materials. Pierre Guilbault, the founder of the company, will stay on as a consultant to ease the transition over the coming months. Davidson plans to grow the company into new markets.

Taiga Has Sales Decrease

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had consolidated net sales of $354.7 million for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of 16 per cent compared to sales of $422.9 million in the second quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely due to decreased selling prices for commodity products. Gross margin for the quarter was $34.9 million compared to $39.4 million in the same quarter last year. Net earnings were $7.1 million compared to $6.4 million a year ago and EBITDA was $16.4 million compared to $16.1 million.

Commercial Activity Leads FBM Sales

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM) had net sales of $559.9 million in the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 7.2 per cent over net sales of $522.2 million in the second quarter of 2018. The increase was driven by strong commercial activity and product expansion into new geographic markets. Gross profit for the quarter was $171.5 million, an increase of 17.3 per cent compared to $146.3 million last year. Net income from continuing operations was $14.7 million compared to $1.5 million and adjusted EBITDA was up nine per cent to $50.3 million compared to $38.8 million in the year-ago period.

August 13, 2019

July Housing Starts Trend Higher

The trend in housing starts was 208,970 units in July 2019, compared to 205,765 units in June 2019, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. High levels of activity in apartment and row starts in urban centres in recent months continued to be reflected in the high level of the total starts trend. The Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) housing starts continued to trend higher in July, while the Victoria, BC, CMA declined. Total housing starts in Regina, SK, trended lower and the Winnipeg, MB, CMA starts decreased. The Toronto, ON, CMA housing stared trended lower, while Ottawa, ON, trended higher. The Montreal, QC, area housing starts were up and New Brunswick starts were up strongly by 40 per cent. Prince Edward Island starts were up 319 per cent over July 2018. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 222,013 units in July, down 9.6 per cent from 245,455 units in June.

CTC To Acquire Canadian Party City

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (CTC) has entered into an agreement to purchase Party City's Canadian business. Party City is a shopping destination for party supplies and seasonal celebrations, with 65 Canadian retail stores in seven provinces. Party City's product assortments will be made available nationally across 500 Canadian Tire Retail (CTR) stores and online at Canadiantire.ca and will strengthen CTC's marketplace. It will also further expand and strengthen the retailer's loyalty program, Triangle Rewards. CTC plans to expand the Party City network in Canada via building store-in-stores, pop-ups, and in-line aisle displays across CTR. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Leon’s Opens Smart Store

Leon's Furniture Limited has opened a smart-store concept store in Coquitlam, BC. Though typically known for its large-scale stores, the 15,000-square-foot space invites customers to browse a curated collection of furniture and appliances while technological features allow customers to shop the full product range. Customers can obtain any product QR code on one of four touchscreen stations. The interactive experience also introduces customers to additional products and custom colours not available on the showroom floor. The showroom features an 11-foot video wall and sales associates can also show products in augmented reality (AR) alongside other pieces in the showroom. Checking out is available with mobile point-of-sale tablets, which are voice activated to help speed up the completion of order/payment/delivery forms. Customers also have access to delivery management online or on a smart device.

Klein Tools Launches Cooling Products

Klein Tools has launched a line of cooling products designed to help reduce and manage heat stress. The Cooling Towels and Cooling Bandana feature PVA cooling technology to retain moisture and stay cooler than the surrounding air. The products activate in less than a minute and stay cool for hours. They can be re-used and re-activated several times.

Pet Care Advances Spectrum Brands Sales

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1,022 million in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decline of 0.7 per cent over net sales of $1,029 million in the third quarter of 2018. Organic sales increased 0.8 per cent driven partly by global pet care sales offset by lower revenues from hardware and home improvement, home and personal care, and home and garden. Operating income was $92.8 million, down 14 per cent compared to $106.8 million in the year-ago period. This result was impacted by higher distribution cost and restructuring charges. Adjusted EBITDA was $172.9 million, down 4.8 per cent compared to $177.7 million in the same period last year. The hardware and home improvement (HHI) segment had a sales decrease of 17.8 per cent; home and personal care net sales decreased 4.3 per cent; global pet care net sales increased 13.9 per cent; and home and garden net sales decreased 2.6 per cent year-over-year.

New Stores Increase Lumber Liquidators Sales

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $289 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.8 per cent compared to net sales in the second quarter of 2018. The increase was driven by new stores. Net sales in comparable stores were flat year-over-year. Gross profit increased 1.2 per cent in the quarter to $102 million as compared to $101 million in the comparable period in 2018. Gross margin decreased to 35.5 per cent from 35.7 per cent. Net loss was $2.9 million compared to a net loss of $1.5 million and adjusted net income was $2.1 million compared to $2.4 million in the year-ago period.

August 12, 2019

Nova Scotia Leads Building Permit Gains

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities declined 3.7 per cent to $8 billion in June, largely due to a decrease in the value of multi-family and institutional permits, says Statistics Canada. Six provinces declined, with Alberta accounting for over one-third of the national decrease. Of the provinces posting gains, Nova Scotia reported the largest increase at 32.1 per cent, reflecting gains in the value of residential and commercial permits in Halifax. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings posted the largest monthly decrease of the five main components, down 6.7 per cent in June to $2.6 billion. The decline was concentrated in Quebec, where the value of permits fell 21.8 per cent following a 16.9 per cent gain in May. There were increases in other parts of the country, including the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, ON, at $82 million and Kelowna, BC, at $61 million. The value of institutional permits decreased in seven provinces in June, but nationally remained 2.2 per cent higher than June 2018. On a month-to-month basis, commercial permits value decreased 1.1 per cent and industrial permits rose 1.7 per cent.

July Dodge Momentum Index Descends

The Dodge Momentum Index retreated 4.6 per cent in July to 138.9, down from the revised June reading of 145.6. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The lower reading in July was due to a 10.2 per cent pullback by its institutional segment following a six per cent increase in June. The commercial segment in July was basically flat, slipping a slight 0.3 per cent. After peaking in July 2018, the index has generally receded, with the latest month’s drop consistent with that trend. Compared to a year ago, in July it was down 11.6 per cent, with its commercial segment down a steep 17.4 per cent while its institutional segment was down a relatively modest 1.8 per cent. Much of the decline over the past year took place during the latter half of 2018, as December was reported 10.6 per cent below the July 2018 peak. Since then, the descent has been more gradual, with the July reading down just 1.2 per cent from last December.

Stanley B&D Supports Habitat For Humanity

Stanley Black & Decker Canada (SBD Canada) employees donated their time and talents to work on Habitat for Humanity Build Days in Toronto, ON, and Calgary, AB, on August 7. Teams worked on eight homes with Habitat GTA in Toronto and employees in Calgary partnered with Habitat Southern Alberta on two homes. In Montreal, builds two teams will take part in one Habitat Quebec build on August 22. Habitat Build Days have become annual events for SBD Canada employees to work towards the goal of affordable homeownership. After the day on the site, the DEWALT and Stanley tools used in the builds are donated to the local Habitat for Humanity organizations.

Muller Named Chief Supply Chain Officer

Jeff Muller is chief supply chain officer with UCS Forest Group. He joins the company from Panolam Industries where he held the role of executive vice-president, chief revenue officer.

Beacon Sales Flat

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had net sales of $1.92 billion in the third quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, a decrease of 0.5 per cent compared to net sales of $1.93 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Residential roofing product sales increased 2.9 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales decreased 2.4 per cent, and complementary product sales decreased 3.6 per cent over the prior year period. Net income for the quarter was $25 million compared to $43.4 million in 2018. Adjusted net income was $72.6 million compared to $93.4 million.

North American Residential Market Leads Masonite Sales

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $563 million for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent compared to net sales of $567 million in the second quarter of 2018, driven by a decrease in base volume. Net income was $24 million compared to $35 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA increased two per cent to $80 million. North American residential sales were $380 million for the quarter, flat compared to the second quarter of 2018. Architectural net sales were $97 million, a 19 per cent increase from the second quarter of 2018. Total company gross profit increased four per cent to $129 million compared to $124 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit margin increased 110 basis points to 22.9 per cent.

August 9, 2019

Loyalty Program Enhances Earnings

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had consolidated retail sales of $4.03 billion for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.3 per cent over consolidated retail sales of $4.25 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were up 2.3 per cent year-over-year. Consolidated revenue was $3.69 billion for the quarter, up 5.9 per cent over $3.48 billion last year. Canadian Tire retail sales increased 2.1 per cent and comparable sales were up 1.9 per cent year-over-year. "Our exclusive brands and products are clearly resonating with our customers, and through our Triangle Rewards loyalty and credit card programs they are engaging with us more often and shopping across our channels and banners, signalling the effectiveness of our growing Triangle marketplace," says Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO.

Online Shoppers Want Transparency

A glitzy website or a modern app aren't enough to satisfy today's savvy online shoppers. They demand upfront transparency on fees, control over the delivery process, a clearly-stated returns policy, and loyalty rewards, says research from UPS. The '2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper' study says 90 per cent of consumers research items before purchasing online and 95 per cent expect to see all shipping fees and taxes totalled before they'll complete the purchase. eCommerce consumers also want to feel valued and rewarded, with 19 per cent admitting they have more than five loyalty memberships. Shoppers want choice and convenience, but would rather not pay for it. They like next-day deliveries, but they will consider other options ‒ such as lower fees or incentives ‒ for slower shipping. Generally, though, online shoppers show a very low appetite for paying for shipping. That's why they'll take various actions to obtain free shipping, including adding items to the cart (36 per cent), choosing the slowest transit time (32 per cent), and searching online for a promo code (32 per cent). Returns also remain key to loyal customers, with 73 per cent saying the returns experience affects whether they would continue shopping with a retailer.

U.S. PMI Lowest Since September 2009

U.S. manufacturing firms signalled only a fractional improvement in business conditions in July, with the IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI dropping to its lowest since September 2009. Driving less robust overall growth was a slower increase in production and muted client demand. Although the rate of expansion in new business quickened, it remained historically subdued, with export orders contracting for the second time in the last three months. In line with less robust demand, optimism among manufacturers dipped to a series low. Firms were also more cautious towards hiring, with employment falling for the first time since mid-2013. The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index posted 50.4 in July, broadly in line with 50.6 in June. The latest reading signalled a fractional improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector, but also indicated the slowest overall expansion since the height of the financial crisis in September 2009.

IKEA Canada Launches $5 Click & Collect

IKEA Canada has launched a $5 'Click & Collect.' Whether purchasing a single item or an entire kitchen, customers can now order Click & Collect for a flat rate of $5 at all store locations nationwide. The service enables customers to select and buy products online and pick-up their purchases at a store or pick-up location. The retailer is also expanding its delivery offer and pricing, including parcel delivery starting at $7.99 Canada-wide. It continues to expand its TaskRabbit in-home assembly and mounting offer to new markets across Canada. Following a successful launch in Toronto, ON, and Vancouver, BC, in 2018, IKEA continued its roll-out for TaskRabbit to Edmonton and Calgary, AB, markets in May and is set to launch in Ottawa, ON, and Halifax, NS, markets in late August.

Visualizer Platform Aids In Matching Paint Colours

Renoworks Software Inc. has launched its ColorExpress visualizer platform for the Sherwin-Williams and its network of manufacturer partners. The platform was developed to address the needs of building product manufacturers who are part of the Sherwin-Williams supplier program. The technology allows end-users to mix, match, and blend the Sherwin-Williams paint catalogue with their building products including siding, trim, doors, windows, flooring, and cabinetry. It turns the customization and visualization design workflow into a more fluid experience for end-users and provides Sherwin Williams' manufacturer partners with engagement solutions and services to enhance their online and offline experiences. The platform will also provide manufacturer partners with other Renoworks' solutions such as detailed analytics, lead capture, and business insights into consumer usage and behaviour.

Softer Demand Affects Continental Sales

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $124.2 million in the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of 10.8 per cent over net sales of $139.3 million in the second quarter of 2018. Wallboard sales volumes decreased 6.1 per cent to 678 million square feet (MMSF), compared to 722 million square feet (MMSF) in the prior year quarter, primarily attributable to softer demand. Operating income was down 36.4 per cent to $19.4 million, compared to $30.6 million in the prior year quarter. Net income decreased 41.3 per cent to $12.8 million compared to $21.9 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $32.9 million, down 20.4 per cent from $41.4 million in the year-ago period.

August 8, 2019

Edmonton Residential Sales Up 11 Per Pent

Total residential unit sales in the Edmonton, AB, census metropolitan area (CMA) real estate market for July rose 11.49 per cent compared to July 2018, says the REALTORS Association of Edmonton. While sales rose, the number of new residential listings dropped 10.01 per cent from July 2018 and overall inventory in the Edmonton CMA dropped 13.58 per cent from July of last year. Single family home unit sales increased 17.79 per cent, while condo unit sales dropped 0.89 per cent, and unit sales of duplexes increased 4.42 per cent from the same period of time last year.

Mobile Technology Transforming Shopping Experience

Nearly all IT decision-makers (99 per cent) say that their retail stores have implemented at least one mobile technology in-store, highlighting the potential for technology to transform the shopping experience, says a survey from Jamf, an Apple device management provider. It says it's clear that retailers are utilizing technology to elevate the retail experience. Retailers say that mobile technology enables them to optimize inventory planning and management (96 per cent) and point-of-sale (96 per cent), personalize the customer experience (96 per cent), and boost employee productivity and motivation (95 per cent). In fact, 91 per cent of respondents confirm that mobile technology makes their retail brand more competitive and/or drives increased revenue by streamlining the sales process. Half also report that customer satisfaction has improved significantly after deploying devices. Mobile technology will likely play an even greater role in a future retail environment. Nearly all respondents plan to increase mobile technology use in the future and already are offering, or plan to offer, company-issued mobile devices for staff use (95 per cent), point-of-sale systems (95 per cent), connections between physical and online shops (93 per cent), fixed interactive screens in store (94 per cent), and shared devices (90 per cent).

MANN+HUMMEL Completes Hardy Filtration Acquisition

Filtration solutions company MANN+HUMMEL has acquired Hardy Filtration, a Quebec-based air filtration company. This will expand the global footprint and manufacturing capabilities of Tri-Dim Filter Corporation's business, which MANN+HUMMEL acquired in 2018. MANN+HUMMEL is a global, family-owned company providing filtration solutions for automotive and industrial applications, indoor, industrial and public air quality, and the sustainable use of water. Hardy Filtration, founded in 1993, further expands the company's offering in innovative air filtration solutions. Hardy has been developing, manufacturing, and marketing a large variety of filtration products, such as air filters, paint booth filters, and dust collector bags, for various applications for more than 25 years.

Newell Sales Down

Newell Brands had net sales of $2.1 billion for the second quarter of 2019, a decline of 3.9 per cent compared with net sales in the second quarter of 2018. Net income was $89.8 million compared to $132 million. The food and appliances segment had a core sales decrease of 7.1 per cent and home and outdoor living had a core sales decline of 1.1 per cent. Connected home and security divisions posted positive core sales which were offset by lower core sales in outdoor and recreation. In the quarter, the company announced its intent to retain the Rubbermaid commercial products business, including the related Rubbermaid outdoor, closet, refuse, and garage business lines, which had been classified as held for sale and discontinued operations. The decision to keep the business was based on the strength of the Rubbermaid commercial products brand, its competitive position in a large and growing category, and its track record of strong cash flow generation, sales growth, and strong margins.

Small Sales Decrease For nVent

nVent Electric plc had net sales of $540 million in the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent compared to sales of $543 million in the second quarter of 2018; organic sales increased one per cent year-over-year. Operating income was up 33 per cent to $87 million from $65 million last year and net income was $60.9 million compared to $43.3 million. Net sales for the thermal management segment were down seven per cent to $129 million year-over-year; net sales for electrical and fastening solutions were up two per cent to $151 million.

August 7, 2019

GTA Housing Market Continues To Tighten

There were 8,595 residential sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) in July, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This was up 24.3 per cent compared to July 2018; on a month-over-month basis, sales were up by 5.1 per cent. New listings were up compared to July 2018, but by a much lesser annual rate than sales at 3.7 per cent and active listings at the end of the month were down by 9.1 per cent year-over-year. TREB says this shows market conditions have clearly tightened compared to last year. "GTA households continue to increase by 40,000 to 50,000 each year due to strong population growth," says John DiMichele, CEO of TREB. "As more and more households come to terms with the stress test and move back into the market in the coming months and years, they could suffer from a chronically under-supplied marketplace and an acceleration of home price growth to unsustainable levels. Fortunately, policy makers have acknowledged the housing supply issue and are working toward solutions."

Confidence Mixed For U.S. Home Renovation Professionals

Confidence is mixed among U.S. renovation professionals for the third quarter of 2019, says the ' Q3 2019 Houzz Renovation Barometer.' For the architecture and design sector, the outlook is the most optimistic of the past two years, however, the construction sector sentiments are some of the lowest since 2015. For the architecture and design sector, the 'Expected Business Activity Indicator' related to project inquiries and new committed projects increased one to 71 in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. Expectations increased for project inquiries (up three points) and remained steady for new committed projects. For the construction sector, the 'Expected Business Activity Indicator' decreased to 71 in the quarter, down three points compared to the previous quarter. The decrease is a result of a decline in expectations for both project inquiries (down two points) and new committed projects (down three points).

Rayonier To Sell Quebec Pulp Mill

Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. plans to sell its Matane, QC, pulp mill and related assets to Sappi Limited, a global diversified wood fibre company. The mill produces approximately 270,000 metric tons of high-yield pulp and sells the product globally for use in manufacturing. The mill was acquired as part of Rayonier's acquisition of Tembec Inc. in November 2017. The company will continue to manufacture and sell approximately 240,000 metric tons per year of high yield pulp out of its Témiscaming, QC, facility. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Slight Gains In CanWel Revenues

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenues of $385.7 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 0.9 per cent compared to consolidated revenues of $382.1 million in the second quarter of 2018. Sales for the distribution segment increased by 0.7 per cent, largely due to the inclusion of the results from acquisitions. These improvements were partially offset by the impact of construction materials pricing which generally continued on a downward trend until late in the quarter. Sales by product group in the quarter were made up of 62 per cent construction materials compared to 63 per cent last year, with the remaining balance resulting from specialty and allied products of 31 per cent and forestry and other of seven per cent. Gross margin dollars were lower by six per cent at $54.4 million, and the gross margin percentage was also lower at 14.1 per cent of revenues versus 15.1 per cent in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $27.5 million, flat compared to the second quarter of 2018.

Lower Pricing Contributes To Resolute Sales Decrease

Resolute Forest Products Inc. had net income of $25 million for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease over net income of $72 million in the year-ago quarter. Sales for the quarter were $755 million, a decrease of $221 million compared to sales of $976 million last year. Lower pricing in most business segments contributed to the results. Operating income was $40 million compared to $64 million in the second quarter of 2018. The wood products segment had an operating loss of $3 million in the quarter, compared to an operating income of $6 million in the first quarter, mainly due to weaker pricing. Shipments, however, rose by 56 million board feet due to improved rail car availability and a modest increase in U.S. lumber consumption compared to the first quarter.

August 6, 2019

Manufacturers Signal Another Fall In Production

Canadian manufacturers signalled another fall in production levels during July, largely reflecting a sustained decrease in new orders, says IHS Markit. However, the latest drop in output was the least marked since the downturn began in April. Moreover, manufacturers signalled a rebound in business optimism regarding the year ahead outlook and staffing levels picked up for the third month running. At the same time, input cost inflation eased to its weakest for just over six years, which a number of survey respondents linked to lower steel prices. The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) registered 50.2 in July, up from 49.2 in June and above the 50 no-change value for the first time since March. A lower fall in output and a rise in pre-production inventories were the main factors pushing the headline PMI into positive territory in July.

Acquisition Enhances Hardscapes B.C. Footprint

Hardscape building products manufacturer Oldcastle APG has acquired Abbotsford Concrete Products, a manufacturer and distributor of paving stones and retaining wall systems. The acquisition will enhance Oldcastle's footprint in British Columbia and enable it to expand its product offerings in western Canada. In addition to gaining the brand, the acquisition also adds to production facilities to the company's geographic footprint. This will strengthen its ability to offer a full line of pavers, slabs, and retaining walls.

IPPIC Changes Name to World Coatings Council

The International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC) has changed its name to the World Coatings Council. The change reflects the organization’s enhanced focus on coatings globally. Increasingly, coatings matters are being considered on a global level at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Maritime Organization (IMO), and other international bodies. As such, the World Coatings Council aims to expand its reach with stronger engagement with all parties as the voice of the global coatings industry. The council provides a forum for information exchange and co-operation on the major issues and priorities facing the coatings industry worldwide. To that end, the council’s mission is to represent the coatings industry on key international issues; monitor and communicate issues of importance to the coatings industry; promote product stewardship and environmental responsibility; develop policies and positions on issues of common interest to the participating organizations; and serve as technical expert for coatings and printing inks industries before the United Nations and related organizations.

Clorox Sales Slide

The Clorox Company had net sales of $1,627 million in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of four per cent over net sales of $1,691 million in the fourth quarter in the same period a year ago. Sales reflect a negative impact from lower volume and unfavourable foreign currency exchange rates. Gross margin for the quarter increased 110 basis points to 45.1 per cent from 44 per cent last year. Earnings from continuing operations increased 13 per cent to $241 million from $217 million last year. The cleaning segment had a net sales increase of three per cent year-over-year; household had a decrease of 11 per cent; and lifestyle was unchanged.

Atlas Has Triple-digit Growth

Atlas Engineered Products Ltd. had total revenue of $9.07 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 127 per cent over total revenue of $3.99 million in the second quarter of 2018. Gross profit for the quarter was 2.5 million with a gross margin of 27.6 per cent; this compares to a gross profit of $846,069 with a gross margin of 21.2 per cent in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $1.5 million compared to $60,726.

August 2, 2019

Entrepreneurs Challenged, Yet Optimistic

External elements such as technology disruption, societal, political, future of work, and innovation changes can pose challenges, but embracing these disruptions can often help small business owners grow their business, says the 'GoDaddy Global Entrepreneurship Survey.' Small business owners believe they are insulated from the impacts of the rise of automation, artificial intelligence, and robots. Seventy-two per cent do not feel these new technologies are a threat, recognizing that they have control over how these technologies support their ventures. Despite the challenges, small business owners and entrepreneurs remain optimistic, with 48 per cent expecting their business to grow at least 25 per cent in the next three to five years. And, 81 per cent of those say if given the chance, they would start their business all over again. On top of that, 73 per cent say they are happier since becoming an entrepreneur. Canadians rank being their own boss as the number one reason for starting a business (46 per cent), with flexibility being the best thing about owning a business.

Attabotics Raises Funds To Support Growth

Calgary, AB-based Attabotics, a 3D robotics supply chain company, has raised $25 million in funding from financial and strategic investors to support its continued growth, which will include new hires, scaling manufacturing operations, and the development of new technologies. Inspired by the structure and productivity of ant colonies, the company condenses the rows and aisles of typical fulfillment warehouses into a single, vertical storage structure. Inside the structure, a fleet of robotic shuttles move in three-dimensional space (horizontally and vertically, along the X, Y, and Z axes) to store and deliver goods to people at the perimeter that pick, pack, and ship the orders. The system can reduce a retailer's required warehouse needs by 85 per cent and accelerate shipping processes. The reduction in space requirements also enables retailers to place warehouses closer to cities and leverage existing back-of-house capacity to create mini-fulfillment structures.

Robust Growth Forecast For Voice Assistants Use In Smart Homes

The number of voice assistants used to access smart home devices will reach 555 million by 2024; up from 105 million in 2019, an increase of 769 per cent, says data from Juniper Research. By 2024, more than 90 per cent of voice assistants will be used to control smart home devices. Voice assistants are an increasingly crucial element in the smart home, providing inter-operability platforms that enable seamless control of the whole smart home. Amazon leads the way with the technology with advanced hub features included in the Echo Plus, heavy investment from its Alexa Fund, and Alexa Skills access, enabling a vast third-party app ecosystem. Recent high-profile acquisitions such as Blink, Ring, and eero will further bolster its ability to innovate across the smart home. Google will capitalize on its acquisition of Nest, adding its Google Assistant in a new range of devices such as the Google Nest Hub Max transforming its proposition in the smart home market. Juniper Research says that Google’s investment in AI will enable it to add more intelligent and autonomous functions, providing a compelling differentiator. It should bolster this with heavy investment in partnerships to further build out its ecosystem.

Climate Business Leads Ingersoll Rand Growth

Ingersoll-Rand plc had net revenues of $4,446 million for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of two per cent over net revenues of $4,549 million in the second quarter of 2018. Operating income increased four per cent year-over-year to $4,528 million and operating margin decreased 30 basis points to 14.4 per cent. Adjusted operating income for the quarter was $710 million, up 10 per cent over $647 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted operating margin increased 80 basis points to 15.7 per cent year-over-year. Growth was led by the climate business in virtually all products and geographies, with an increase in year-over year revenues of four per cent. T

Residential Sales Strong At Trex

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $206.5 million for the second quarter of 2019, comparable to net sales of $206.7 million in the second quarter of 2018. Trex residential products net sales increased two per cent year-over-year to $193 million, with commercial products contributing $13 million. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 40.4 per cent, representing gross margins from residential and commercial segments of 41.7 per cent and 21.4 per cent, respectively. Net income for the quarter was $36 million, down from net income of $43 million in the year-ago period. The company says start-up costs related to its Enhance Naturals and Basics decking products weighed on gross margin performance.

August 1, 2019

Canada Investing In B.C. Wood Product Associations

The government of Canada is investing in Canada's resources to boost economic competitiveness while protecting the environment. By promoting innovative wood products from sustainably managed forests, the forestry sector can grow by expanding market access and creating jobs and economic opportunities for Canadians. To help strengthen demand for Canadian wood products, boost economic competitiveness, and help protect the environment, Canada's ministry of natural resources will invest more that $24 million in six wood product associations based in British Columbia. The associations are the Canada Wood Group, the Forestry Innovation Investment, the Council of Forest Industries, the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, the BC Wood Specialties Group, and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. The funding is provided through Natural Resources Canada's 'Expanding Market Opportunities' (EMO) program, which supports market development for Canada's forest products industry.

Gen Z Cares About Retrieval Methods

Generation Z shoppers are using traditional shopping methods like other demographics, but they're leveraging non-traditional retrieval methods, with more than half (58 per cent) using 'buy online pickup in-store' (BOPIS) and two-thirds using it within the last month, says research by Package Concierge. When choosing between two equal retailers for the same item, 60 per cent of Gen Zers say BOPIS plays a factor in retailer selection. While a quarter of this generation say they buy ‘everything’ online, next-day shipping isn't fulfilling the instant gratification factor for young shoppers. More than four in 10 use BOPIS to ensure the item is available before they head to the store, while 30 per cent rely on it because they are last minute shoppers.

Arrow Fastener Launches All-purpose Rivet Tools

Arrow Fastener has launched the Rivet Tool ‒ RT188M, a patented, one-handed tool that is easy to squeeze, making it useful as an all-purpose rivet tool for heavy duty projects such as gutters and downspouts, automotive work, storm doors, windows, air vents, heating ducts, and general home repair projects. Arrow also has the Rivet Kit- RT189K, a one-handed ratchet riveter kit with colour-coded rivet heads. No tool is required to match nosepiece to needed rivet diameter. The full kit includes the tool, four drill bits, and 100 rivets in assorted sizes.

Strong Growth Forecast For Exterior Insulation And Finish System Market

The global exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) market is expected to reach $152.62 billion by 2026, says a study by Fior Markets. The market it expected to grow from $61.02 billion in 2018 to $152.62 billion in 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.14 per cent. Growing demand for thermal insulation in residential and non-residential construction coupled with implementation of stringent regulations for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions are anticipated to drive the global EIFS market over the forecast period. EIFS are mainly utilized due to their insulating qualities to reduce thermal loads on the exterior building wall and the light weight, low cost, and ability of the system to be sculpted into shapes and patterns to achieve different aesthetic effects. The growth for polymer-modified EIFS segment is expected to achieve a CAGR of 14.21 per cent over the forecast period. Polymer-based materials provide a level of high thermal insulation and is cost effective.

Architectural Segment Drives AWI Sales

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI) had net sales of $272 million for the second quarter of 2019, a 9.4 per cent increase over net sales of $249 million in the second quarter of 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $87.2 million, up 32 per cent over operating income of $66 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $108 million, up 14 per cent over $95 million in the same period last year. Net sales for the mineral fibre segment increased 3.6 per cent, with adjusted EBITDA up 11.4 per cent year-over-year. Net sales for the architectural specialties segment were up 38.1 per cent, with adjusted EBITDA up 38.7 per cent.

Lumber Prices Affect UFPI Sales

Universal Forest Products, Inc. had net sales of $1.24 billion for the second quarter of 2019, a four per cent decrease over net sales in the second quarter of 2018. Lower lumber prices contributed significantly to the decrease, with selling prices down by nine per cent. New product sales were up 18 per cent to $175.3 million. Operating profit was up 22 per cent year-over-year to $74.2 million and net earnings were up 24 per cent to $54.5 million. The retail segment had a four per cent decrease in gross sales compared to the year-ago period; the industrial segment had a three per cent increase in gross sales; and the construction segment has a decrease of 10 per cent in gross sales.

July 31, 2019

Retailers Struggling To Retain Customers

Retailers are struggling to retain customers as consumers increasingly have zero tolerance for a poor retail experience, says a survey by alternative payments provider Klarna. The survey ‒conducted across 2,000 U.S. consumers and 250 retail decision makers ‒ says 55 per cent of shoppers would stop returning to a brand after just one bad experience. A third (29 per cent) say shopping isn't as fun as it used to be, with 36 per cent feeling that what they have gained in convenience, they've lost in experience. As well, bad return processes (46 per cent) and drawn out online checkouts without payment options (28 per cent) rank much higher for shoppers than retailers perceive them to be. However, retailers are recognizing this shift and starting to evolve the way they think about loyalty. Thirty-nine per cent of retailers agree that loyalty is no longer solely driven by rewards and 69 per cent say they have to work harder than ever to retain customers. But, many (36 per cent) are struggling to keep pace with changing consumer expectations around experience and are being held back by outdated tech (33 per cent) and a short-term focus on sales (29 per cent). Klarna says it is important for retailers to focus on broader concepts of experience ‒ such as brand values, human engagement, and brand image ‒ to win back loyalty.

Andersen Breaks Ground On Campus Expansion

Window and door manufacturer Andersen Corporation broke ground July 22 on an expansion of its Renewal by Andersen manufacturing campus in Cottage Grove, MN. The expansion, adjacent to the existing Renewal by Andersen facility, will include a 350,000-square-foot 'Value Add Center' to alleviate current space constraints by providing warehouse, office, distribution, and additional parking space. As well, the existing manufacturing facility will be reorganized for future manufacturing expansions.

Kinaxis To Build Ottawa HQ

Supply chain management platform provider Kinaxis Inc. is building its headquarters in the Ottawa, ON, suburb of Kanata to accommodate its growing workforce and global expansion. The company has experienced a cumulative average revenue growth rate in excess of 20 per cent since going public in 2014 and local head count numbers have doubled in the same time frame (the company employs more than 600 people worldwide, with over 400 in Ottawa). The company has signed a lease with Taggart Realty Management, which owns the land, and expects to break ground next spring.

Saligram To Head Up Newell Brands

Ravi Saligram is president and chief executive officer of Newell Brands, effective October 2. He has an extensive background in consumer brands, omnichannel commerce, and global operations, and is currently chief executive officer of Ritchie Bros.

Capacity Reductions Affect Canfor Results

Canfor Corporation had an operating loss of $49.7 million for the second quarter of 2019, an improvement over an operating loss of $69.9 million in the first quarter of 2019, but down from an operating income of $282.1 million in the second quarter of 2018. Net sales for the quarter were $1,313 million, a decrease over net sales of $1,459.5 million in the year-ago period. The company had a net loss of $48.6 million compared to a net income of $169.8 last year. Results include restructuring costs after the decision to permanently close the Vavenby, BC, sawmill and capacity reductions at two other British Columbia sawmills. However, total lumber shipments, at 1.47 billion board feet, were 24 per cent higher than the previous quarter.

Lumber Manufacturing Cost Affects Weyerhaeuser Earnings

Weyerhaeuser had net earnings of $128 million for the second quarter of 2018, down from net earnings of $317 million in the second quarter of 2018. Sales for the quarter were $1.7 billion compared to $2.1 billion in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $343 million compared to $637 million. Low controllable lumber manufacturing cost was cited as a driver of the results. The timberlands segment had net sales of $532 for the quarter, down from $667 million last year. Adjusted EBITDA for the segment was $175 million versus $240 million. Wood products had net sales of $1,210 million compared to $1,525 million last year, with adjusted EBITDA of $128 million versus $384 million.

Bookings Increase For EISENWARENMESSE

With bookings up five per cent year-over-year and already at 90 per cent capacity, organizers of 'EISENWARENMESSE ‒ International Hardware Fair Cologne 2020' are making changes to prepare for growth. Hall 11 will add more than 31,000 square metres to the event, making room for more hardware concepts and allowing clearer clustering by segment on the entire exhibition area. Developments have been made to enhance the 'DIY Boulevard,' 'eCommerce,' and Start-up' formats ‒ which will now be in Hall 11 ‒ and international exhibitors from the fediyma associations will have the opportunity to present their innovations to the trade public for the first time in a POS-like environment. The event takes place March 1 to 4 in Cologne, Germany. For more information, visit EISENWARENMESSE

July 30, 2019

Sexton Group Founder Dies

The founder of Sexton Group Ltd., Kenneth Sexton, died July 25, at the age of 90. In 1985, he started Sexton Group, a buying group, and Kenroc, a gypsum specialty dealer serving western Canada. Headquartered in Winnipeg, MB, the buying group originally had three members with the goal to increase purchasing power for independent dealers specializing in gypsum, insulation and other building materials. Today the group has more than 400 member stores. Sexton was a husband, father, and grandfather, and enjoyed travelling, jazz music, and discussing the building materials industry. He is survived by his wife of nearly 63 years, Bette; his son James; as well as his son-in-law Brian Kusisto; daughter-in-law Carol Sexton; and three granddaughters. He was predeceased by his daughter, Joan. A funeral service will be held July 31 at Regina Funeral Home in Regina, SK.

Retail Sector Optimism Drops

Small business optimism took a step back in July, falling 3.7 index points to 57.8 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' (CFIB) Business Barometer. “This month’s sentiment isn’t as low as it was at the beginning of the year, but it does suggest that the rapid improvements we saw over the last few months were unsustainable,” says Ted Mallett, vice-president and chief economist at CFIT. “While wage and price plans remained stable despite the confidence drop, hiring plans are relatively low.” Overall, 41 per cent of owners estimate their business is in a good state, compared to 14 per cent who say it is in a bad state. Only 16 per cent of owners indicated that they plan to add on full-time staff in the next three months, while 14 per cent plan to cut back. An index level nearer to 65 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential. Businesses in the professional services (58.1) and retail (54) sectors posted the biggest confidence drops this month, falling 7.4 and 5.4 index points respectively. The hospitality sector was the most optimistic at 65.9, followed by financial services (63.3), manufacturing (62.2), and personal services (61.8).

Contactless Transactions Maintain Dominance

Contactless transactions continue to account for the majority of card present transactions in Canada, says Moneris Solutions Corporation in its 'MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report.' Closing the second quarter with a share of 52.5 per cent of card present transactions, tap payments trended upwards from the 51.5 per cent recorded in the first quarter. Overall credit and debit card spending year-over-year saw moderate growth of 2.9 per cent. Provinces with the highest contactless transactions are Prince Edward Island (57.5 per cent), Manitoba (56 per cent), Ontario (54.8 per cent), British Columbia (54.6 per cent), Nova Scotia (54.4 per cent), Alberta (53.3 per cent), Saskatchewan (52.3 per cent), and New Brunswick (50.0 per cent).

Renoworks Adds Windows And Doors Recognition

Renoworks has added automatic recognition and masking solutions to its artificial intelligence (AI) platform. The platform includes recognition of windows and doors from uploaded images, instant masking of openings from any angle or perspective, and streamlined image selection integrated with Google Street View. More capabilities are coming soon that will allow the platform to automatically recognize and mask roofing, siding, and other areas of the home.

Lawson Products Has Sales Increase

Lawson Products, Inc. had net sales of $96.1 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.3 per cent over net sales of $90.4 million in the second quarter of 2018. The Bolt Supply House, which represents approximately 12 per cent of consolidated sales, increased 14 per cent; Screw Products, which was acquired in the fourth quarter of 2018, contributed to the increase with sales of $700,000. Gross profit for the quarter was $51 million compared to $49.1 million in the year-ago period. Net income was $1.3 million compared to net income of $3.2 million last year.

Masco Sales Down One Per Cent

Masco Corporation had net sales of $2.28 billion in the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent compared to net sales of $2.3 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Gross margins increased 170 basis points in the quarter to 34.4 per cent from 32.7 per cent in the year-ago period. Operating profit increased nine per cent to $393 million while operating margins increased 160 basis points to 17.2 per cent compared to last year. Net income was $252 million compared to $224 million. The plumbing segment net sales decreased two per cent year-over-year; the decorative architectural products segment net sales increased three per cent; the cabinetry products segment net sales decreased six per cent; and the windows and other specialty products net sales decreased three per cent.

July 29, 2019

Retail Sales Hit Speedbump

After staging a respectable recovery in the early months of 2019, Canadian retail sales growth has now lost some steam, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending May, total retail sales were up a modest 2.5 per cent year-over-year. More importantly, the recent pattern of upward movement now seems to have been broken. This may or may not be a temporary setback, he says. Both the three-month trend and the underlying 12-month trend had been on the mend earlier in the year, but now they look like they have hit a speedbump and have fallen off the pace. After five months of 2019, total retail sales are up just 2.3 per cent versus a year ago. However, there's still a way to go to even match the disappointing 2.9 per cent annual gain recorded for 2018. A few store types had particularly poor results which drove down sales gains in the quarter. Sales were down 7.8 per cent at electronics and appliance stores and 0.3 per cent at building material and garden equipment and supplies. Furniture and home furnishings stores did provide some positive news, with a 5.1 per cent retail sales increase for the quarter. Overall, eCommerce represented about 3.1 per cent of total retail sales for the quarter with sales up 18.7 per cent year-over-year.

Canada Investing In Energy-efficient Building Research

Canada's Ministry of Natural Resources is investing more than $3.5 million to Carleton University for two energy-efficient building research projects. The first project, with an investment of $3 million, will research ways to improve insulation and combat heat loss in buildings. By finding better ways to build, builders can create net-zero energy or net-zero energy-ready buildings. These include exploring new, factory-built materials, including super-thin insulation, to cut heat loss in housing and buildings by 65 per cent. The second project, with an investment of more than $510,000, will develop cutting-edge software to help building managers monitor energy use and find opportunities to reduce consumption, thereby reducing emissions and saving money.

Giant Tiger Opens In Halifax

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Halifax, NS. The 18,408-square-foot store will be stocked with on-trend home and family fashion, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities. Giant Tiger has more than 250 locations across Canada.

Volume Drives Sales At Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $4.88 billion in the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.2 per cent compared to consolidated net sales in the second quarter of 2018. The increase in the quarter was due primarily to higher paint sales volume in North American stores, a new customer program launched in 2018, and selling price increases. Net sales from stores in Canada and the U.S. open more than 12 calendar months increased 4.3 per cent in the quarter. Segment profit increased $42.5 million to $612.4 million. The company had adjusted EBITDA of $921.5 million, or 18.9 per cent of sales, this is an increase of 8.5 per cent over the same period a year ago. Net sales of the Americans group increased five per cent year-over-year; net sales for the consumer brands group increased 3.4 per cent; and net sales for the performance group increased 3.8 per cent.

Whirlpool Has Strong Quarter

Whirlpool Corporation had net earnings of $67 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase compared to a net loss of $657 million in the second quarter of 2018. Net sales for the quarter were $5.2 billion compared to $5.1 billion in the same prior-year period. EBIT was $254 million, or 4.9 per cent of sales, compared to a loss of $562 million, or 10.9 per cent of sales last year. Whirlpool North America had net sales of $2.9 billion compared to $2.8 billion in the year-ago period. The region had EBIT of $353 million, or 12.4 per cent of sales, compared to $331 million, or 11.9 per cent of sales, last year.

July 26, 2019

New GTA Home Sales Up Over Last Year

In June, the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market continued to do better than last year, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 932 new single-family homes, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses sold in June, up 127 per cent from last June though still 30 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units were up 14 per cent from June 2018 and five per cent below the 10-year average. Total new home sales in the first six months of 2019 are up 43 per cent from the same period in 2018 and down 14 per cent from the 10-year average.

Anvil Canada To Distribute U.S. Stove Products

U.S. Stove Company has partnered with Anvil Canada to distribute U.S. Stove and Acadia Hearth (a U.S. Stove brand) products into the specialty hearth market across Canada. A variety of the company's brands ‒ including Ashley, Newmac, and Vogelzang ‒ will be supplied to the Canadian market via HVAC, big box, and specialty retail and hearth stores. Canadian consumers will also be introduced to the full Acadia Hearth and Breckwell product lines, which are premium products for the specialty hearth channel. Anvil is a Canadian-owned and operated manufacturer of wrought iron products including fireplace accessories.

U.S. Construction Starts Advance Nine Per Cent

New U.S. construction starts in June advanced nine per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $832.7 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase follows a 10 per cent gain in May as total construction starts continue to strengthen following April’s subdued performance. By major sector, much of the lift in June came from a 16 per cent jump for non-residential building. Non-building construction was up six per cent and residential building was up five per cent for the month. Through the first six months of 2019, total construction starts were down eight per cent from the same period a year ago. June’s data raised the index to 176, compared to an upwardly revised 161 for May. June’s reading was the highest so far for the index during 2019, topping the 175 for March, and coming in slightly above the full year 2018 average at 172.

Channellock Launches Family Of Pliers

Channellock, Inc. has launched SpeedGrip, a family of tongue-and-groove pliers that include a fast-adjusting feature and patent-pending crosshatch teeth. The pliers are made with die-forged high carbon U.S. steel and lock into strong channels at the push of a button to prevent adjustment slippage. Robotic laser heat-treating makes the patent-pending crosshatch teeth durable and provides a strong grip with more points of contact. SpeedGrip is available in three sizes and a combo pack.

RPM Has Strong Net Income, Earnings

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.6 billion for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 2.8 per cent compared to net sales of $1.56 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter increased 55.7 per cent to $133.4 million from $85.7 million in the year-ago period. Income before income taxes (IBT) was $176.9 million, up 50 per cent versus $117.9 million a year ago. Consolidated earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were up 51.5 per cent to $204.6 million compared with $135 million a year ago. Industrial segment sales for the quarter were relatively flat while the residential segment increased 6.7 per cent. Both the Rust-Oleum and DAP businesses experienced strong sales growth in North America. The company says growth was bolstered by its '2020 MAP to Growth' improvement plan, the benefits of which are beginning to be realized. Price increases and stabilizing material cost inflation also contributed to growth.

July 25, 2019

Wholesale Sales Down After Consecutive Increases

Wholesale sales were down 1.8 per cent in May to $63.8 billion, following five consecutive monthly increases, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales were observed in six subsectors, accounting for 86 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector was the leading contributor to May's retreat, followed by the miscellaneous subsector. In volume terms, wholesale sales decreased 1.9 per cent from April to May. Wholesales sales in the building material and supplies sector were down six per cent to $9 billion. The sector's decline was led by the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies sector, which had a 13.1 per cent decrease. Wholesale sales declined in seven provinces in May, which together represented 98 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada. Alberta posted the largest decrease in sales, followed by Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. Wholesale inventories increased for a ninth consecutive month, up 1.1 per cent in May to $91.6 billion. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.39 in April to 1.43 in May, a level last seen in October 1995. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Alibaba Opens Platform To U.S. SMBs

Online B2B marketplace Alibaba.com is opening its platform to manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors in the U.S. enabling them to access the $23.9 trillion global B2B eCommerce market. Previously, U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) could only source goods on the site because it was originally launched to connect suppliers in China with buyers in overseas markets. The company has launched a series of features to support the onboarding and marketing efforts of new U.S. suppliers (also called sellers) on the site. They will get an interface for building and managing a digital store on the platform, CRM and communications tools, digital marketing tools, and payment capabilities. As more sellers arrive on the platform, buyers will have greater choice across a range of categories for their sourcing needs, including both ready-to-ship and customized goods. To further support the entry of U.S. SMBs on the platform, Alibaba.com is building an ecosystem of industry partners to provide goods and services needed in global trade. The ecosystem consists of 'anchor sellers,' such as Office Depot which has opened a store on the site. These anchor sellers, along with their name recognition and extensive product inventories, will bring increased in traffic to the site which, in turn, should serve to drive traffic to smaller sellers as well.

BB&B Cuts HQ Staff

In connection with its ongoing transformation and near-term priority to reset the company's cost structure, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. has initiated a reduction in corporate staff at its headquarters in Union, NJ, and at other select locations where corporate associates are based. The company recently completed a review of its corporate office cost structure which has resulted in a reduction of approximately seven per cent of its corporate staff, including vice-presidents, directors, managers, and professional staff. These organizational changes are estimated to generate future annual pre-tax net savings of approximately $30.7 million.

Mirtchev Directs Public Affairs

Peter Mirtchev is director of public affairs with the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA). Previously, he was technical program officer with the Chemical Institute of Canada.

PPG Sales Decline

PPG had sales of approximately $4 billion for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of nearly three per cent versus the prior year. Sales volumes were down about four per cent versus the prior year in aggregate, including about 1.5 per cent stemming from changes in the U.S. architectural coatings customer assortment. Net income from continuing operations was $270 million compared to $371 million in the year-ago period, while adjusted net income was $441 million compared to $468 million. Sales for the performance coatings segment were down nearly three per cent year-over-year and sales for the industrial coatings segment were down about two per cent.

July 24, 2019

May Manufacturing Sales Up

Manufacturing sales rose 1.6 per cent to $58.9 billion in May, following a 0.4 per cent decline in April. The increase was mainly due to higher sales in the transportation equipment industry, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in 12 of 21 industries, representing 66.2 per cent of total Canadian manufacturing. Constant dollar sales rose 1.7 per cent, indicating that a higher volume of products was sold in May. Sales were up in six provinces, although the increase was concentrated in Ontario. Inventory levels rose 0.8 per cent to $88.8 billion for the month; with inventories up in 13 of 21 industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.52 in April to 1.51 in May. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to continue at their current rate.

U.S. Online Retail Sales To Decrease

U.S. online retail sales growth year-over-year slowed for four consecutive quarters for the first time since 2012 and may have reached an inflection point that could result in slowing growth moving forward, says FTI Consulting, Inc. in its '2019 U.S. Online Retail Forecast.' The report says U.S. online retail sales should reach $575 billion in 2019, a 12.3 per cent increase over $513 billion in 2018. That compares to a 14.2 per cent increase in 2018, when the market grew from $450 billion and topped $500 billion for the first time, and a 15.6 per cent increase in 2017. Online sales growth has slowed to 13.3 per cent in the most recent four quarters from 16.1 per cent a year earlier and it has weakened further to the low-12 per cent range in the two most recent quarters. However, the online channel still captured nearly 43 per cent of total retail sales growth in 2018, with continued market share growth of approximately one percentage point expected annually through 2022. The forecast projects that online retail sales will reach $645 billion in 2020 (a 12.1 per cent increase) and will top $1 trillion by late 2025. U.S. online retail sales will achieve a market share of total retail sales (excluding auto and gas) of 21 per cent by 2025, compared to 15 per cent in 2019, and will approach an expected ceiling of 25 per cent near the end of the next decade or 30 per cent if the grocery category is excluded.

Home Depot Makes Progress On Responsibility Goals

The Home Depot has reduced U.S. store energy used by 26 per cent compared to 2010, it says in its '2019 Responsibility Report.' The report details the retailer's progress on its commitment to three pillars - operate sustainably, focus on people, and strengthen communities. It also includes a commitment to reduce carbon emissions 50 per cent by 2035. Along with the reduction in store energy, supply chain efficiencies implemented by the company reduced carbon dioxide intensity by six per cent per dollar sold. Under its responsible sourcing policy, the retailer conducted 1,362 factory audits. For its focus on people, Home Depot plans to invest more than one million hours per year over the next five years in training and development. The Home Depot Foundation has committed to train 20,000 skilled trades men and women by 2028. For the communities’ focus, the foundation committed additional funds to veteran causes and financial support to help communities affected by natural disasters. New to the report this year is the inclusion of '10 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.' The report also includes additional charts on materiality touchpoints, progress on stated goals, and an ESG transparency chart that highlights the retailer's key environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics from 2016 through 2018.

CAMO Clips Approved For Deckorators’ Grooved Deck Boards

Deckorators has approved CAMO’s EdgeClip and EdgeXClip fasteners for use with its grooved deck boards. CAMO Edge Screws are also on the Deckorators’ compatible fastener list, having previously been approved for use with their square profile deck boards. These fastener systems are manufactured by National Nail and are created to achieve a fastener-free surface. The EdgeClip is designed for 90-degree patterns and the EdgeXClip is designed for any angled decking pattern. A 'Never-Miss Guide' is included in every pail of clips to aid in installation. The CAMO DRIVE stand-up tool with the clip guide can also be used for installation.

Residential Products Drive Watsco Sales

Watsco, Inc., a distribution network for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) products, had sales of $1.372 billion for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of three per cent over sales in the second quarter of 2018. Sales growth for residential products increased four per cent. Gross profit increased two per cent year-over-year to $328 million; gross margin decreased 20 basis points. Operating profit decreased two per cent to $134 million over the same period a year ago. Net income for the quarter was $107.9 million compared to $108.3 million last year.

July 23, 2019

Residential Sector Drives Building Construction Gains

Total investment in building construction increased 2.2 per cent in May to $15.2 billion. Gains in the residential sector (2.8 per cent to $10.4 billion) led the increase, while the non-residential sector edged up 0.9 per cent to $4.8 billion, says Statistics Canada. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction rose 1.8 per cent to $12.7 billion. Investment in multi-unit dwellings rose 7.6 per cent in May, while investment in single-unit dwellings declined 2.2 per cent. Growth in multi-unit dwelling investment was led by higher investment in British Columbia, which accounted for approximately three-quarters of the national increase. Provincially, non-residential investment was modestly higher in British Columbia ($21 million) and Ontario ($20 million). These gains were partially offset by weakness in Alberta (down $10 million).

Government Offers Energy Efficiency Funding To SMEs

Small-and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan can now apply for funding for energy-saving projects through the SME Project stream of the Climate Action Incentive Fund offered by the ministry of environment and climate change. SMEs in these provinces will be eligible to receive funding of up to 25 per cent of the cost of projects that will make their businesses more productive and competitive as they reduce energy use, save money, and cut greenhouse gas pollution. Over the next five years, SMEs will have access to $1.45 billion to support a wide range of projects. Eligible projects include building retrofits, improved industrial processes, fuel switching, and the production of renewable energy for the use of applicants. The application period started July 17 and will be open until funding is exhausted or for a maximum of 90 days. Eligible businesses can save up to a maximum of $250,000; the minimum amount of federal funding per application is $20,000.

Kinaxis Partners With Infosys To Modernize Supply Chains

Kinaxis Inc., a supply chain software provider, has formed an alliance with Infosys, a technology consulting firm, to help customers modernize their end-to-end supply chains and drive purposeful adoption of machine learning capabilities. The alliance brings together Kinaxis' supply chain planning platform with machine learning capabilities, advanced analytics, and concurrent planning technique with Infosys' experience in supply chain and digital transformation consulting. Together, the firms will help customers remove functional silos, drive confident decisions, improve profitability and productivity, synchronize planning processes, and increase agility, while reducing risk.

Snap-on Has Decreased Sales

Snap-on Incorporated had net sales of $951.3 million for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of 0.3 per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2018. Operating earnings for the quarter were $189.9 million or 20 per cent of sales compared to $193.1 million or 20.2 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings were $180.4 million compared to $178.7 million in the year-ago period. Sales for the commercial and industrial group segment decreased 0.8 per cent; sales for the Snap-on Tools Group segment decreased 1.5 per cent; and sales for the repair systems and information group segment increased 1.7 per cent.

July 22, 2019

Retail Sales Decline For First Time In Months

Retail sales declined for the first time in four months, edging down 0.1 per cent to $51.5 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales decreased one per cent. Sales were down in four of 11 subsectors, representing 39 per cent of retail trade. Lower sales at food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the decline. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were $3.1 billion in May, down 3.9 per cent over May of 2018. Appliance store sales were down 5.4 per cent and furniture and home furnishings sales were up 5.8 per cent. On the digital side, on an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.8 billion in May, accounting for three per cent of total retail trade, compared with 1.9 per cent of total retail trade in May 2016 ‒ the year when official monthly statistics for retail eCommerce were first published. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 21.8 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.6 per cent.

U.S. Remodeling Index Maintains Levels

The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) 'Remodeling Market Index' (RMI) posted a reading of 55 in the second quarter of 2019, rising one point from the previous quarter. The RMI has been consistently above 50 ‒ indicating that more U.S. remodelers report market activity is higher compared to the prior quarter than report it is lower ‒ since the second quarter of 2013. The overall RMI averages current remodeling activity and future indicators. “The remodeling market has decelerated somewhat due to ongoing supply-side challenges, as well as year-over-year declines in existing home sales,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist with NAHB. “However, remodelers’ confidence continues to be positive. Market conditions would be better if not for labour shortages and rising construction costs making it difficult to complete some projects at prices homeowners can afford.”

Fastenal To Open 1000th Onsite Location In Saskatchewan

In June, Fastenal announced a milestone after its active vending device count surpassed 100,000. This milestone has been followed by another, this one pertaining to the company’s Onsite program. The company now has 1,000 active Onsite locations, each providing a customized local supply chain within (or near) a customer’s facility. The milestone Onsite is being set up within the Rocanville, SK, facility of Nutrien, a provider of crop inputs, services, and solutions. It’s one of three dedicated Fastenal service/stocking locations that have been customized to meet the needs of specific Nutrien facilities. The service models range from a location within a Nutrien plant (Rocanville) to an offsite location situated across the street from a Nutrien facility (Aurora, NC), to a larger location servicing five surrounding Nutrien sites (Saskatoon, SK). The Fastenal Onsite program is designed to shorten the supply chain from a distribution standpoint. It brings Fastenal inventory and representatives onsite to support a business' operations on a full-time basis.

DEWALT Launches Cordless Heat Gun

DEWALT has launched the 20V MAX* Cordless Heat Gun, which is now part of more than 200 products in the 20V MAX* System. This heat gun is optimized for use by electricians, plumbers, painters, and mechanics for applications such as automotive detailing, removing adhesives and decals, reshaping bumpers, and removing paint. It features up to a 990°F max heat output with two temperature settings, high and low. The heat gun also has a specialty lock-on and off feature allowing for hands-free operation as needed. In addition, the nozzle size is universal to the standard heat gun, allowing it to be used with attachments from many corded and competitive units.

Pier 1 Appoints President

Douglas Diemoz has been appointed to the newly created role of president with Pier 1 Imports, Inc. He joins the company with more than two decades of retail industry experience, most recently as chief executive officer of Crate & Barrel. Robert Riesbeck is executive vice-president and chief financial officer. He comes from FULLBEAUTY Brands, where he served as chief financial officer.

Honeywell Has Sales Decrease In All Segments

Honeywell International Inc. had sales of $9.2 billion for the second quarter of 2019, a decrease of 15 per cent over sales of $10.9 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Organic growth increased five per cent. Sales for the building technologies segment decreased 14 per cent for the quarter to $3.5 billion; organic growth also increased five per cent. Sales for the safety and productivity solutions segment decreased four per cent to $1.6 billion; organic growth decreased by four per cent. The performance material and technologies segment sales increased one per cent to $2.7 billion, with organic growth of four per cent. The aerospace segment sales were down 14 per cent with organic growth of 11 per cent.

July 19, 2019

Steep Slowdown Projected In U.S. Home Improvements

Growth in U.S. residential remodeling spend is expected to slow considerably by the middle of next year, says the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that annual gains in homeowner expenditures for improvements and repairs will shrink from 6.3 per cent in the current quarter to just 0.4 per cent by the second quarter of 2020. The decrease in spend will be caused by declining home sales and homebuilding activity.

Metro Vancouver Housing Pre-Sales Drop 47 Per Cent

The severely depressed nature of British Columbia's Lower Mainland housing market throughout the first half of 2019 is prompting more developers to hold back on their approved projects, says MLA Canada in its mid-year market update report. Approximately 4,100 new homes within multi-family developments were introduced into the pre-sale market during the first six months, but this accounts for a staggering 47 per cent decrease in the total amount of pre-sale inventory released during the same period in 2018. Despite the falling supply, BC is still projected to see 55,000 new residents from migration this year, with the vast majority moving to Metro Vancouver. For the remainder of the year, analysts expect just 27 project launches in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley with over 3,500 new condominiums combined. Richmond will be the most active submarket for the second half of 2019, with about five project launches creating over 700 units. As well, with rising inventory levels and projects taking far longer to sell, many projects ‒ even those that have received all necessary permits to proceed with construction ‒ will likely hold their sales launch until 2020 or until more favourable conditions.

Canada Invests In Automation Of Cedar Shingle Factory

Canada's ministry of natural resources is investing $2.4 million to help build a fully-automated cedar shingle facility. Waska, located in Clair, NB, will use the funding to build an automated plant that will employ lasers, sensors, and advanced algorithms, which are a set of computer-generated instructions typically used to perform problem-solving operations in production. The improved and highly digitalized automation process will significantly increase production, result in higher precision rates, lower production costs, reduce energy usage, and enhance efficiency. The investment is provided through Natural Resources Canada's ‘Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT)’ program. Through 'Budget 2019,' the government proposes an additional $82.9 million over three years, starting in 2020-21, for the IFIT program. Waska is a division of Clair Industrial Development Corporation Ltd., has been in operation for 50 years and focuses on manufacturing a variety of shingles and fences.

Economy Provides Opportunities For Refinishers

The current slowed state of housing and slack economy provide opportunities for professional kitchen and bath refinishers, says NAPCO, Ltd., a producer of refinishing products and bathtub and kitchen refinishing training company. As well, "bathtub and kitchen refinishers are not being impacted to the same extent as remodelers or builders have been by tariffs on supplies such as steel, timber, and aluminum," says Dani Nichols, president of NAPCO. "Refinishing a kitchen or bathroom reuses existing materials by repairing and applying specialty coatings to the surfaces for lasting improvement. By educating homeowners about this option, home improvements are within reach. The price tag of a bathroom remodel can drop from $8,000 to $12,000 to $1,500." NAPCO says bathtub refinishers can expand their skill set to include kitchen refinishing and offer affordable home improvements.

Canfor Further Reduces Capacity

Canfor Corporation will further reduce capacity at two of its British Columbia sawmills with an indefinite curtailment at its Mackenzie sawmill and the permanent elimination of one shift at its Isle Pierre sawmill. The indefinite curtailment at Mackenzie, which is effective immediately, is due to the high cost of fibre, continued poor lumber markets, and challenging operating conditions that have combined to make the mill uneconomic under these conditions. The Isle Pierre sawmill capacity reduction is due to insufficient timber supply as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic and associated decline in the annual allowable cut. The reduction will enable the mill to better align its production capacity with the sustainable fibre supply in the region.

Barton Named Marketing Director

Mitch Barton is marketing director of global press connection with RIDGID. He brings several decades of marketing and product development experience to the role and served most recently as director, global project management for performance health, at Akron.

Curtailments Affect West Fraser Earnings

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1,317 million in the second quarter of 2019, a decrease over sales of $2,558 million in the second quarter of 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $56 million for the quarter compared to $166 million in the year-ago period. The company had a loss of $58 million compared to a loss of $63 million last year. Permanent and temporary curtailments resulted in 250 MMfbm (million board feet) of reduced lumber production during the first half of 2019.

July 18, 2019

Home Hardware Named 'Elite' In Customer Experience

Home Hardware Stores Limited has made the 'elite brand list' and ranked fourth in Forrester's 'Canada 2019 Customer Experience Index.' The index says only one in four brands' scores rose while one per cent declined. Fifty per cent of the industry averages increased, with luxury auto manufacturers, mass-market auto manufacturers, and multi-channel banks as the top performing industries. As an elite brand, Home Hardware is in the top five per cent of customer experience quality across industries in its region. The index says that while customer experience quality in Canada is slowly improving, brands are still struggling. No brand has risen to the top of the index rankings and continued to rise. Brands that wish to break out from their competition must focus on emotion as the survey reveals that emotion has the largest impact on brand loyalty in every industry.

Miller's Country Store Hangs Ace Banner

Miller's Country Store has joined Ace Canada, a Lowe's Canada affiliated network. The 5,000-square-foot store in Exeter, ON, has been serving the community since 2010. It is owned by Doug and Barry Eidt, who also own an Ace store in Mitchell, ON. They acquired the store in May and are in the process of converting it to the Ace banner to bring more choices to local customers. Upon completion of the conversion, the store will be renamed Miller's Ace Country & Garden. It will stock some of the same items originally carried by the store, such as farm products, pet food, and work wear, and will offer more categories and approximately 100 news items, including CRAFTSMAN tools. The store will also feature an appliance showroom and a dedicated seasonal section.

Amazon Prime Day Sales Soar

Sales over Amazon's Prime Days ‒ July 15 and 16 ‒ surpassed the previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined worldwide. Prime members purchased more than 175 million items throughout the event and spent more than $2 billion on products from independent small- and medium-sized businesses which are third-party sellers on Amazon. Members in 18 countries shopped – double the number since the first Prime Day five years ago. Canada's top sellers were PlayStation 4 Slim with Spiderman and Horizon Zero Dawn, LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, and 23andMe Health + Ancestry kits.

U.S. Retail Sales Up 0.6 Per Cent

U.S. retail sales were up 0.6 per cent in June seasonally adjusted from May and up 2.3 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. As of June, the three-month moving average was up 3.7 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 3.3 per cent in May. June’s results build on gains of 0.4 per cent month-over-month and 2.9 per cent year-over-year seen in May. Building materials and garden supply stores were down 4.7 per cent year-over-year but up 0.5 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted, while electronics and appliance stores were down 5.8 per cent year-over-year and 0.3 per cent month-over-month. Online and other non-store sales were up 11.6 per cent compared to last year and up 1.7 per cent compared to last month seasonally adjusted.

Good Growth For ASSA ABLOY

ASSA ABLOY had net sales of SEK23,544 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 11 per cent compared to net sales of SEK21,140 million in the second quarter of 2018. The company had strong growth in the Americas and global technologies and good growth in entrance systems. Operating income (EBIT) was SEK3,733 million for the quarter, up 28 per cent over operating income of SEK2,911 million. Net income was SEK2,562 million, up 25 per cent over SEK2,049 million in the year-ago period.

July 17, 2019

Retail Sales Rise In First Quarter

Retail sales in Canada reached $131.1 billion in the first quarter, up 1.8 per cent from the same quarter of 2018. Sales were up in 13 commodity groupings for the first quarter of 2019, says Statistics Canada. Sales of food posted the largest increase, rising 3.6 per cent, while sales of automotive fuels and household fuels posted the largest decrease at 7.6 per cent. Sales of hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden products reached $7.5 billion, up 1.5 per cent over the same period a year ago. Receipts from home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics fell 0.9 per cent, led by home electronics which dropped 10.8 per cent. Higher sales in indoor home furniture which rose 5.7 per cent and housewares at 4.2 per cent moderated the decline.

Companies Missing Growth Opportunities In Supply Chain

In today’s era of ever-growing focus on the customer, only a small number of forward-thinking companies are realizing the unique opportunity their supply chains offer to better meet customer needs, fuel competitiveness, and uncover growth, says a report from Accenture. In fact, more than three-quarters of companies are missing opportunities to leverage the power of the supply chain as a driver of revenue growth. The remaining 22 per cent of companies are making smart moves in three areas ‒ digital investments, customer-centricity, and ecosystems. This is enabling them to shift their supply chain strategy from driving cost efficiencies to powering growth opportunities and achieving competitive agility. Those falling behind need to quickly transform their supply chain and operations function into a collaborative engine of growth and innovation or else they risk their future success, says the report.

Employees See Benefits Of Personalized Wellness Programs

The majority of working Canadians (80 per cent) say their overall wellbeing would improve if their employer were to offer a personalized wellness program that is customized to an individual's specific wellness and health related interests and goals, says a survey by RBC Insurance. On top of that, nine in 10 working Canadians (94 per cent) are more likely to work for an employer that cares about their overall health and wellbeing. When it comes to group benefits overall, flexibility and customization are important. Nine in 10 workers value choice in their group benefits plan, with 84 per cent more likely to participate in a workplace wellness program that is customized to their specific wellness goals. The survey says there is a relationship between working Canadians' overall wellbeing and those who have group benefits or private coverage. While 70 per cent of working Canadians with group or private insurance rate their wellbeing as excellent or good, that figure falls to 59 per cent for those without any type of insurance coverage at all.

Outdoor Living Drives Landscaping Products Sales

Consumers are crazy about outdoor living, and it's positively impacting demand for higher value hardscape products and outdoor heating implements, says the Freedonia Group. Outdoor living includes lounging, cooking and dining, entertaining, gardening and landscaping, and tailgating. As consumers seek to expand the square footage of their homes by creating more elaborate 'outdoor rooms' that emulate the comfort and aesthetics of indoor living areas, they'll increasingly invest in more expensive hardscape products. Demand for hardscape products is expected to increase 5.4 per cent per year through 2023, driven by interest in higher value products such as stamped concrete plank pavers that resemble wood, natural stone products, porcelain pavers, and permeable pavers that can help prevent issues with water runoff and flooding.

July 16, 2019

June Home Sales Flat

Following a string of monthly gains, national home sales were little changed in June from the previous month, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Although running close to its 10-year average and up nearly 10 per cent from the six-year low reached in February, activity remains well below levels recorded over much of 2015, 2016 and 2017. The nearly unchanged national tally was the result of an even split between the number of local markets where sales were up and those where they were down. Larger monthly gains were generally focused in the province of Quebec and in southern Ontario. Those gains were offset by declines in a diverse mix of markets across Canada, including the Greater Vancouver, BC, Area (GVA); Calgary, AB; Halifax-Dartmouth, NS; and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity edged up 0.3 per cent compared to June 2018, with gains in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) and Montreal, QC, offsetting declines in B.C. The number of newly-listed homes edged up 0.8 per cent in June.

Demographics Different Than Behaviour

Consumer demographics are different from, but affect, consumer behaviour, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, 'Insights,' he says demographics segment customers based on age, ethnicity, gender, income, schooling, occupation, and marital status are an integral part of understanding them and their perceived needs. However, it's important to have knowledge of both customer demographics and consumer behaviour. Demographic segmentation ‒ like age ‒ will give some insight into customers' needs and expectations and is an important piece in their behaviour and buying habits. But retailers will need to dig deeper and understand consumer behaviour and the diversity that motivates each generation. Jenkins says a conversation with your customers is a good place to start. "Make the investment to understand what's important to them, what motivates them. It's a huge task to be sure, but like the proverbial elephant, make a plan to learn about your customers in bite-size chunks."

Amazon To Provide Training To 100,000 Employees

Amazon will invest over $700 million to provide upskilling training programs for roughly 100,000 employees ‒ one-third of its workforce ‒ across the U.S. Programs will provide training to move into highly skilled technical and non-technical roles across the company's corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centres, retail stores, and transportation network. Based on a review of the its jobs and analysis of hiring data from its U.S. workforce, Amazon's fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years are data mapping specialist (832 per cent growth), data scientist (505 per cent), solutions architect (454 per cent), security engineer (229 per cent), and business analyst (160 per cent). Within customer fulfillment, highly skilled roles have increased over 400 per cent, including jobs like logistics co-ordinator, process improvement manager, and transportation specialist within its customer fulfillment network.

Offering Personalized Experience Benefits Retailers

Retailers that deliver best-in-class personalized experience are achieving an increase of 10 to 20 per cent in the value of the average order and in purchasing frequency, says research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Unfortunately, most retailers are nowhere close to delivering the personalized experiences that their customers expect. All retailers should make advancing to the next personalization maturity level a strategic priority, says BCG, as it can result in significant benefits. For example, when the shopping experience was highly personalized, customers indicated that they were 110 per cent more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40 per cent more likely to spend more than they had planned. Moreover, when asked to rate a particular retailer, customers who experienced a high level of personalization provided net promoter scores that were 20 per cent higher than those of customers who experienced a low level of personalization. Some ways retailers can increase their customer experience level include partnering more effectively; boosting targeted advertising; improving use of data to make real-time customer recommendations; using mobile, paid display, and paid search marketing to activate more channels more frequently; and utilizing personalization tactics such as personalized merchandising and loyalty and reward programs.

July 15, 2019

Retailers Missing Opportunities With In-store Technologies

While 75 per cent of U.S. consumers are aware of at least one retail technology, only 33 per cent have experienced any, says a survey by A.T. Kearney. The '2019 Consumer Retail Technology Survey' says that when it comes to in-store technologies, most retailers are lagging behind consumer awareness of them in terms of providing an experience involving one or more. Consumers have different expectations for different types of stores. However, with 45 per cent visiting a big box store because of a technological aspect of the shopping experience compared to 24 per cent who visit a specialty store because of its technology. Technologies most likely to influence shopping choices include limited interaction and time-saving technologies. Five key emerging technologies that will impact the retail environment in-store include augmented reality (AR), mobile point-of-sale, cashierless checkout, interactive screens, and 3D printing.

Canada Launches Energy Efficiency Program

The government of Canada has launched the Energy Manager Program, which will provide $3.1 million to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, and not-for-profit organizations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick ‒ provinces where the federal carbon pricing backstop applies. The program will help identify and adopt energy efficiency solutions that reduce energy use, operating costs, and greenhouse gas emissions by offering funding to hire energy managers and undergo energy assessments for buildings, industrial facilities, and fleets. The program will be funded from the proceeds of the federal carbon pollution pricing system. This program complements other energy efficiency, clean energy, and innovation programs.

Most Americans Will Procrastinate Paint Projects

Roughly 84 million Americans intend to paint a room in their homes in the next year. The key word here is 'intend.' A majority of those surveyed agree that painting is easy, yet a quarter of respondents admit they’ll procrastinate anyway. In fact, Americans are more likely to procrastinate on home maintenance than any other aspect of their lives, says a survey commissioned by GLIDDEN. In the next year, 41 per cent of Millennials plan to do a home paint project. That’s approximately 30 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996. However, Millennials are 13 per cent more likely than other generations to procrastinate on smaller tasks like painting a room or fixing things around the house. Yet, they are less likely than other generations to procrastinate on larger, more expensive home improvement projects. When they have free time, only three per cent of Millennials will prioritize home improvement, favouring time with friends and acts of self-care. If less prep were required, 76 million Americans would be more likely to start a paint project. The most enjoyable part of the job is selecting the paint colour. The top-ranked motivator to stop procrastinating is visualizing the end result.

Mastercard Launches B2B Virtual Card Receivables Service

Mastercard has partnered with VersaPay to launch its Virtual Card Receivables Service, a way to digitize the reconciliation of virtual card payments for businesses of all sizes. The service will aggregate information from Mastercard issuers related to virtual card payments by their corporate customers and compile it into one comprehensive file, available in a digital format including Microsoft Excel and CSV. This creates a digital data source that suppliers can more easily integrate into ERP systems or use for cash flow forecasting. Traditionally, a virtual card number used for the payment is eMailed or faxed to a supplier. Without standard, digital formats for receiving payments, buyers resort to more analogue delivery methods and suppliers are forced to manually reconcile information for each invoice. The service streamlines the payment approach and allows businesses to benefit from the security and valuable data such as invoice numbers and SKU information afforded by virtual card numbers.

Strong Sales Forecast For Smart Thermostat Market

The smart thermostat market was valued at US$689.8 million in 2018 and is expected to reach a value of $2,322.2 million by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate of 23.1 per cent from 2019 to 2024, says research from Reportbuyer. The main factors driving the need for smart thermostat are the convenience, energy conservation, energy tracking, and need for an increase in potential savings. Increasing internet penetration, coupled with the increased usage of smartphones and other mobile devices, has resulted in an increased spread of connectivity. Due to this, smart thermostats are increasingly being adopted. Additionally, with a Wi-Fi connection and smart thermostats, virtual assistants, like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, are increasingly being used to control and monitor the home temperature, program schedules, or crank up the A/C.

July 12, 2019

Physical Retail Remains Most Prevalent

Physical retail is still the most prevalent form of shopping for Canadians at 47 per cent and for Americans at 35 per cent, even amidst the growing popularity of online shopping, says Lightspeed. It's report, '2019 Summer Shopping Habits Survey,' says 52 spend between $50 and $250 per shopping excursion. Most shoppers spend their money on food during the summer, but they also spend on supplies for hobbies and home furnishings. Americans spend more in the winter, while Canadians spend more in the summer. Over 36 per cent of Canadians spend the most money on shopping and dining in the summer, whereas over 36 per cent of Americans spend the most in the winter.

Trex Offers Free Rycyclability Testing

Trex Company now offers free recyclability testing for polyethylene packaging applications to packaging engineers, manufacturers, and brand owners in companies in Canada and the U.S. through its NexTrex Recycling Program. Each year, Trex diverts more than 400 million pounds of plastic film, bags, and wrap from landfills and uses it to manufacture its composite decking, which is made from 95 per cent recycled material. Among its largest sources are retailers and makers of consumer packaged goods who partner with the company to responsibly dispose of plastic shopping bags and polyethylene film used to wrap products and pallets. This testing validates whether the material is capable of being recycled in the Trex recycling stream. Once packaging samples have been tested and approved by Trex, companies may qualify for a Trex Commercial Recycling Partnership.

Royal Building Products Launches First Coloured Column Wraps

Royal Building Products, a Westlake company, has added the first colour to its line of PVC Royal Column Wraps. 'Sand Dune' is a neutral beige tone and is available in Traditional, Craftsman, and Contractor styles. In addition to Sand Dune, the column wraps are available in a ready-to-install white finish that can also be painted with vinyl-safe paint. The column wraps feature a 'clam shell' design with three pre-assembled sides that surround the existing post for a seamless appearance. The fourth side is applied to enclose the entire column.

Ross To Lead Williams-Sonoma

Ryan Ross will be president of the Williams-Sonoma brand, effective August 1. He is currently executive vice-president of emerging brands.

Fastenal Sales Rise

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,368 million for the second quarter of 2019, a 7.9 per cent increase over net sales of $1,268 million for the second quarter of 2018. Sales were driven by unit sales and contribution from industrial vending. Sales of fastener products grew 5.5 per cent on a daily basis over the year-ago period, while non-fastener product sales increased 9.5 per cent. Gross profit for the quarter was $641 million, an increase of 3.8 per cent over gross profit of $618 million. Gross profit was 46.9 per cent of sales compared to 48.7 per cent of sales. Net earnings were $205 million compared to $211 million, a decrease of 3.1 per cent.

July 11, 2019

BMR Group Invests In Lefebvre & Benoit

BMR Group has acquired a stake in Lefebvre & Benoit, a construction materials provider for contractors. BMR says the two Canadian companies will benefit from their complementary expertise to enhance their respective offerings and strengthen their position in the hardware and construction materials sectors. This is BMR's first foray into the sale of materials to contractors that work on commercial buildings and multi-unit housing throughout Canada. "We are confident that this alliance will drive the development of our hardware division, as well as Lefebvre & Benoit’s – a model company in its category – to new heights both in Quebec and across Canada," says Ghislain Gervais, president of La Coop fédérée, BMR's parent company.

Negative Shipping Experience Costs Customers

While eCommerce and shipping have a symbiotic relationship, shipping often becomes an afterthought for online retailers. For customers, however, a brand’s shipping experience can carry just as much weight as the product it sells and how it is marketed to them, says a report by BigCommerce, an eCommerce SaaS platform. The report says an alarming 77 per cent of consumers have abandoned an online purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping options, while 58 per cent have actually stopped shopping with particular retailers altogether as a result of a negative shipping experience. However, 47 per cent of merchant respondents are unaware of their online cart abandonment rate, nor the percentage of cart abandonment caused by shipping options. The mass adoption of Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, as well as similar efforts from big box retailers like Walmart, have changed consumer expectations. In the past 12 months, 84 per cent of consumers have made a purchase from an online retailer specifically because it offered free shipping, and half say that they avoid shopping with retailers that do not offer delivery at no-cost. Yet only 13 per cent of merchants offer free shipping on all purchases, while a larger percentage (39 per cent) give consumers free shipping on purchases over a designated dollar amount.

JennAir Unveils Luxury Campaign

JennAir unveiled its luxury brand campaign in Canada, Bound By Nothing, a creative mission built from consumer luxury category insights. With a focus on personalization, the Bound By Nothing platform features JennAir's latest line of major appliances that launched in spring. Along with the brand campaign, this spring, JennAir unveiled two design expressions - RISE and NOIR. These expressions represent a rebellion within the luxury appliance category that urges consumers to tear down stale luxury conventions and usher in a new era of luxury standards. The campaign - which won gold at this year's North American Effie Awards - will launch in Canada through national print, digital, online, out-of-home advertising, social channels, and earned media efforts.

Lightspeed Improves Inventory Management Software

Global POS software provider Lightspeed has added inventory-focused features to Lightspeed Retail's suite of tools. These features are designed to improve inventory management control, offering retailers added insight into how their business is performing. New features include a negative inventory report, omnichannel impact, home-data driven dashboard, vendor returns, and newly supported images dimensions and formats.

BB&B Prioritizes Transformation After Loss

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had a net loss of $371.1 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of net earnings of $43.6 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net sales for the quarter were $2.6 billion, a decrease of 6.6 per cent compared to net sales of $2.8 billion for the prior-year period. Gross profit was $887 million compared to $965 million. "We recognize that there needs to be a fundamental change in our approach to executing the company's business transformation," says Mary A. Winston, interim CEO. "We have set four key near-term priorities that include stabilizing and driving top-line growth; resetting the cost structure; reviewing and optimizing the company's asset base, including our portfolio of retail banners; and refining our organization structure."

July 10, 2019

June Housing Starts Trend Higher

The trend in housing starts was 205,838 units in June, compared to 200,530 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 is primarily due to higher trending row and apartment starts in urban areas. The Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA); Edmonton, AB, CMA; Saskatoon, SK, CMA; Winnipeg, MB, CMA; Halifax, NS, CMA; and the Quebec City, QC, region housing starts all trended higher in June. Starts in the Kingston, ON, CMA were slower following a strong performance in 2018. The Toronto, ON, CMA remained virtually unchanged over May and the Sherbrooke, QC, CMA had particularly strong housing starts since the beginning of the year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 245,657 units in June, up 26 per cent from 196,809 units in May. The SAAR of urban starts increased by two per cent in June to 234,238 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 31 per cent to 185,804 units in June while single-detached urban starts increased by eight per cent to 48,434 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11,419 units.

Understanding Consumer Behaviour Crucial

Understanding consumer behaviour and the dynamics of how and why customers make buying decisions is essential to the success of all businesses, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, 'Insights,' he says, "At its most basic, it is understanding how consumers buy goods and services, use them, and, ultimately, dispose of them." Understanding, at least partially, the cultural, psychological, anthropological, social, and economic factors that affect customers’ lives and buying decisions helps retailers to not only meet their needs today but anticipate future ones. To succeed in business, retailers must not simply address the practical or rational needs of their customers (the problem) — for example, providing them the tool needed for a job — but also their hidden emotional needs. Developing a deeper understanding of the behavioural dynamics that impact consumers will open doors to better engage and interact with customers. "The benefits of understanding consumer behaviour does not begin and end with your brand," says Jenkins. "It can drive the successful decisions and priorities you make moving forward. . . . The more you know about your customers, the more you know about your own business."

Keson Partners With SOLA Measuring Tools

Measuring and marking product manufacturer Keson LLC has partnered with SOLA Measuring Tools to bring levels from both brands to the North American market. Keson has launched a two-brand strategy that will position SOLA branded levels at the high-end of the market while Keson-branded levels are positioned as the best of the mid-tier levels. All levels for the campaign will be made for Keson at one of SOLA’s two European manufacturing facilities in Austria and Hungary. Keson has introduced more than 60 different level products under the SOLA and Keson brands. The levels feature SOLA's FOCUS vial technology that show higher contrast and allow reading from a distance and in low-light settings.

Gratton Veaudry Named Merchandise Manager

Renee Gratton Veaudry is merchandise manager, plumbing/fashion with Home Hardware Stores Limited. She has nearly 20 years of experience in category management, marketing, and merchandising including as vice-president of sales at Talon Systems Inc.

WD-40 Sales Up

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $114 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2019, an increase of seven per cent compared to net sales of $107 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $18.1 million, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the prior-year quarter. Gross margin was 54.5 per cent compared to 54.8 per cent. Net sales for the Americas segment were $53 million, flat compared to the same quarter in 2018. Net sales of maintenance products was up six per cent and homecare and cleaning products was up 16 per cent.

July 9, 2019

June Dodge Momentum Index Increases

The Dodge Momentum Index moved four per cent higher in June to 146.1 from the revised May reading of 140.5. 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 U.S. non-residential buildings by a full year. The June increase reflected a 6.1 per cent jump by its institutional component and a 2.4 per cent gain by its commercial component. However, despite the improvement, planning for commercial and institutional building projects has clearly stepped back from the torrid pace set during the first half of 2018. The average of the overall Momentum Index through the first six months of 2019 was 4.3 per cent lower than the same period a year ago, with the commercial component down 5.2 per cent and the institutional component down three per cent. What June’s improvement does affirm is that the broader pullback by the index remains gradual, and that there are still ample projects at the planning stage to maintain stability for construction spending in the near term.

RONA VeRONA Celebrates 90th Anniversary

Lowe's Canada affiliate store RONA VeRONA Hardware is celebrating its 90th anniversary. The store is the oldest business in Verona, ON, and is owned by Nicole and Chad Van Camp. They celebrated on July 6 with a fundraising barbecue and raffle. The local hardware shop was founded in 1929 by Steven and Victor Merrill in what is now Nicole’s Gifts, also owned by the Van Camps. Forty-two years later, entrepreneur Ken Harper bought the store. In 1994, Ken and his wife Evelyn moved the business to its current 10,000-square-foot location. Chad and Nicole acquired the store in 2004.

Feldman Timber Joins Group BMR

Timmins, ON-based Feldman Timber has joined BMR Group. The family-owned business, which settled in Timmins nearly 110 years ago, will undergo renovations to allow the 23,000-square-foot store to display the BMR banner in the upcoming months. The façade of the store will be revamped and the interior design will be modernized. "Our goal is to be the leader in our marketplace," says Lorne Feldman, owner. "With competitive pricing, integrated distribution, exciting new products in many categories, and a dynamic marketing program, BMR provides us the tools to give our customers an exceptional shopping experience along with great value."

3,000 Western Forest Employees Go On Strike

Roughly 3,000 Western Forest Products Inc. employees have gone on strike, says the company in a press release. The strike affects all of the company's United Steelworkers (USW) certified manufacturing and timberlands operations in British Columbia. Western has been working to negotiate a new collective agreement, as has been achieved in the northern and southern interior of British Columbia, where the USW and the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association, respectively, have ratified new collective agreements. The actions taken by the USW come at a time when British Columbia forestry companies are curtailing production and shutting down mills due to poor market conditions. The company has commenced its work stoppage contingency plan and is working to mitigate the potential impact of the strike on its business partners and customers.

Francis Appointed CEO

Julian G. Francis is president and chief executive officer of Beacon Roofing Supply, effective September 1. He is currently president of the insulation business at Owens Corning.

July 8, 2019

Business Optimism Up Sharply

Canadian business leaders are more optimistic about the prospects of the Canadian economy heading into the summer, says a survey from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Optimism about the economy over the next 12 months is up sharply among professional accountants in leadership positions. Almost one in three (31 per cent) of the survey respondents were optimistic in the second quarter of 2019, up from 22 per cent the previous quarter. About a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) were pessimistic, while cautious neutrality continues to be the opinion of the largest group (44 per cent), very similar to last quarter (47 per cent). What is interesting about the latest findings is that optimism and pessimism essentially flipped in the second quarter when compared with the year's opening three months. The top three challenges to the Canadian economy were cited as protectionist trade sentiment in the U.S. (19 per cent); uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy (16 per cent); and the state of the U.S. economy (11 per cent).

Double Digit Residential Sales Growth In GTA

There were 8,860 residential sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) in June, representing a 10.4 per cent increase compared to June 2018, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). Over the same time period, total new listings remained at a similar level for the month of June and active listings at month-end were down by 5.7 per cent. Sales and new listings statistics for the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018 painted a similar story to that of June. Sales were up by 8.5 per cent, while new listings were up by less than one per cent. This shows that sales accounted for a greater share of listings compared to last year, which means that competition between buyers increased, resulting in renewed price growth in many segments of the market. TREB says buyers started moving off the sidelines in the spring, as evidenced by strong year-over-year price growth throughout the second quarter. However, because there was virtually no change in the number of new listings, market conditions tightened and price growth picked up.

Lowe's Canada Donates To Charles-Bruneau Foundation

Lowe's Canada has presented $1.3 million to the Charles-Bruneau Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research. The donation was presented at the finish line of the '24th Tour CIBC Charles-Bruneau' on July 5 in Boucherville, QC. This was the company' second fundraising campaign as a Diamond Partner. Several initiatives were carried out for the campaign including a team of 120 cyclists made up of employees, affiliated dealers, and vendor partners who took part in various tour treks. Together, they biked over 13,000 km to support the cause. In addition, from June 1 to July 5, participating RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace corporate and affiliated dealer stores in Quebec led a fundraising campaign at checkout counters. Employees also held various activities to involve customers in the campaign.

Outdoor Living Drives Landscaping Products Sales

Consumers are crazy about outdoor living, and it's positively impacting demand for higher value hardscape products and outdoor heating implements, says The Freedonia Group. Outdoor living includes lounging, cooking and dining, entertaining, gardening and landscaping, and tailgating. As consumers seek to expand the square footage of their homes by creating more elaborate 'outdoor rooms' that emulate the comfort and aesthetics of indoor living areas, they'll increasingly invest in more expensive hardscape products. Demand for hardscape products is expected to increase 5.4 per cent per year through 2023, driven by interest in higher value products such as stamped concrete plank pavers that resemble wood, natural stone products, porcelain pavers, and permeable pavers that can help prevent issues with water runoff and flooding. Furthermore, outdoor living stalwarts like fire pits and chimeneas - part of the $665 million 'other landscaping products- category - will see renewed interest from homeowners seeking to add ambience to their outdoor rooms and extend their outdoor leisure time past sunset, particularly in cooler climates where outdoor living is seasonally limited.

July 5, 2019

Home Buyer Demand Slows In Vancouver

With home buyer demand below long-term historical averages in June, the supply of homes for sale continued to accumulate in Metro Vancouver, BC, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential home sales in the region totalled 2,077 in June, a 14.4 per cent decrease from the 2,425 sales recorded in June 2018 and a 21.3 per cent decrease from the 2,638 homes sold in May. Last month's sales were 34.7 per cent below the 10-year June sales average; this is the lowest total for the month since 2000. On the supply side, there were 4,751 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in June. This represents a 10 per cent decrease compared to June 2018 and an 18.9 per cent decrease compared to May. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for June 2019 is 13.9 per cent.

Renovated RONA Opens

The newly-renovated RONA building centre in Debden, SK, owned by Leah and Dean Demers, is celebrating its grand opening. The store, which previously housed a grocery section, underwent major renovations over the past few months, more than doubling its sales area and significantly increasing its product selection. “We have been working on this project for several months now and we are thrilled to welcome customers to our remodeled and larger RONA store,” says Dean Demers. “By moving the grocery portion of the business to a new location next door, we now offer 10,000 square feet of hardware retail area. This allowed us to add thousands of products to our selection and bring in completely new product categories such as appliances. Local homeowners and contractors can expect to see even more new features over the next few months as we are always looking to better serve our customers.”

TIMBER MART Welcomes Quebec Member

Waterloo, QC-based Adam Lumber Ltd. has joined TIMBER MART for better buying power in its key building material categories. The original equipment manufacturer says the group will help in its growth strategy both in Canada and the U.S. as well as grow the business with new products and offerings. Since 1923, Adam Lumber has been providing its contractor customers with a selection of building materials which has grown to include gypsum, insulation, roof and floor trusses, prefabricated roof and floor sections, i-joists, and engineered wood products. Today, the business serves a number of communities in southeastern Quebec and northeastern United States and sits on a 30-acre property that encompasses 11 buildings.

SANIFLO Canada Partners With Pro-West Sales

Pro-West Sales Ltd., an independent sales agency, now represents SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, for the wholesale channel in the province of British Columbia. Specialists in plumbing and heating, Pro-West Sales delivers inside and outside sales support with industry professionals and specifiers in all segments of the market including builders, contractors, interior designers, facility managers, and plumbing showrooms.

U.S. Manufacturing Remains Near Stagnation

June data signalled a further near-stagnation of operating conditions across the U.S. manufacturing sector. The rate of overall growth held close to May's near-decade low. On a positive note, the rate of output growth quickened slightly amid a renewed rise in new orders. However, in line with muted increases in output, firms reined in staff hiring, expanding workforce numbers at the slowest pace for almost three years. Subsequently, output expectations remained subdued. The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) posted 50.6 in June, broadly in line with 50.5 in May, to signal only a marginal improvement in the health of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Richelieu Sales Up

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. had consolidated sales of $281.2 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.8 per cent over consolidated sales of $263.3 million for the second quarter of 2018. Sales for the quarter were $238.1 million in the manufacturers market, up 7.1 per cent compared with $222.4 million for the year-ago period. All market segments contributed to the gain. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores stood at $43.1 million, up 5.4 per cent over last year. In Canada, Richelieu had sales of $183 million, an increase of 1.3 per cent over the second quarter of 2018 entirely from acquisition growth. Sales to manufacturers amounted to $151.9 million compared to $148 million, an increase of 2.6 per cent all from acquisition growth. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores totalled to $31.1 million, down 4.9 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2018. Sales in the U.S. were up 14 per cent. Overall, net earnings for the second quarter were $19.4 million, up from $18.2 million in the year-ago period.

July 4, 2019

Falling Work Volumes Affect Manufacturing

June data signalled another difficult month for the Canadian manufacturing sector, with falling volumes of new work contributing to the sharpest drop in production in 3½ years. More subdued economic conditions in both domestic and export markets, alongside a drag on sales from global trade frictions, were cited as drivers of the trend. At 49.2 in June, the seasonally adjusted ‘IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI)’ picked up fractionally from May's 41-month low of 49.1. However, the latest reading was below the crucial 50 no-change value for the third month running, which marks the longest period of decline since 2015/16. A sharper reduction in production was the main factor weighing on the PMI. The downturn in output accelerated since the previous month and was the fastest since December 2015. Manufacturers generally cited a lack of new work to replace completed orders at their plants. Reflecting this, the latest survey revealed the steepest fall in backlogs of work since data collection began in October 2010.

PayPal Launches Real-time Payment Solution

PayPal has launched a feature that allows consumers and small businesses to instantly access funds. PayPal's Instant Transfer is powered by Visa Direct, Visa's real-time push payments solution. It moves money from customers' PayPal accounts to their bank account via their Visa debit cards. The consumer feature is now widely available and for small businesses it is currently available to an early access group of PayPal customers, with plans to be released across Canada in the coming months.

Conifex To Sell B.C. Sawmill

Conifex Timber Inc. intends to sell its Fort St. James, BC, sawmill and associated forest license to Hampton Lumber. The issue of insufficient saw log supply to maintain the existing manufacturing base in the interior region of British Columbia is one of the reasons for the sale. "We believe this transaction supports the province’s objectives for industry rationalization that is mindful of the impacts on people, communities, and First Nations," says Ken Shields, CEO of Conifex. Hampton Lumber operates nine sawmills in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, including two in the Burns Lake area of British Columbia.

Epicor Acquires Majure Data

Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software, has acquired Majure Data, a provider of warehouse management solutions for the lumber and building materials (LBM) industry in the U.S. and Canada. Based in Georgia, Majure Data offers full integration tools for industry ERP platforms. Prior to completion of this acquisition, Epicor acted as a reseller for the Majure Data products RF Navigator and RF Navigator Foundations. The transaction closed on July 1.

Valickis Elected Vice-president

Tod Valickis, product manager at Schluter Systems, has been elected vice-president of the Tile, Terrazzo, and Marble Association of Canada (TTMAC). The TTMAC was founded in 1944 with a mandate to develop standards for terrazzo, tile, and marble installation methods and techniques, as well as being a technical resource and liaison for architects, specifiers, designers, and engineers. Valickis has been an elected member of the board of directors for the TTMAC for the past six years and has worked in the tile industry for more than 30 years. He joins Brent Fisher from Flesher Marble & Tile in Calgary, AB, who was elected president.

Strong Sales For GMS

North American interior building products distributor GMS Inc. had net sales of $780.1 million for the fourth quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, an increase of 22.7 per cent over net sales of $635.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Organic net sales increased seven per cent year-over-year as a result of higher volumes and pricing improvement across all product groups. Net income for the quarter was $16.6 million compared to $9.9 million and adjusted net income was $28.7 million compared to $23.5 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $73.5 million, or 9.4 per cent of net sales, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $50.1 million, or 7.9 per cent of net sales, in the year-ago period. Sales for the wallboard division increased 15.1 per cent year-over-year; sales for the ceilings division increased 17.4 per cent; sales for the steel framing division increased 16.3 per cent; and sales for other products increased 44.4 per cent. Gross profit increased 24.8 per cent to; $256.9 million.

July 3, 2019

Lowe’s Chooses Charlotte For Technology Centre

Lowe's will open a global technology centre in Charlotte, NC, to accelerate its technology transformation and modernize its IT systems. The centre will feature 357,000 square feet of space staffed with up to 2,000 additional technology professionals. The tech centre will build on the company’s long-established presence in Charlotte where the retailer operates 21 stores. It plans to break ground in August with move-in scheduled for late 2021. In December, Lowe’s announced plans to invest more than $500 million annually through 2021 toward the company’s technology transformation. The company also maintains technology teams in existing strategic locations including Kirkland, WA; Bangalore, India; and Mooresville, NC.

Dollarama To Invest In Latin American Value Retailer

Dollarama Inc. plans to acquire a 50.1 per cent interest in Latin American value retailer Dollarcity. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to the company's earnings and establishes a second growth platform to complement its Canadian growth strategy. As at March 31, Dollarcity operated a total of 180 stores, with a growth plan to 2029 is to reach a target of up to 600 stores with the majority of store growth to be focused in Colombia. Dollarcity's growth target for the calendar year 2019 is 40 to 50 new stores. In the first quarter of 2019, Dollarcity had already opened 11 stores. The transaction is expected to close in August.

Tree Island Going Private

The Futura Corporation and Arbutus Distributors Ltd. have made an offer to take Tree Island Steel Ltd. private. The majority shareholders, who are controlled by company directors, Amar Doman (Futura) and Peter Bull (Arbutus), collectively own approximately 14.7 million shares, representing over 50 per cent of the issued and outstanding shares. They have proposed that the potential transaction be structured by way of a court-supervised statutory plan of arrangement which would require shareholder approval. An independent committee has been established to review the proposal. The majority shareholders believe the proposal would be in the best interest of the company and its shareholders for a number of reasons including providing immediate liquidity and certainty to the minority shareholders; offering fair value; resolving the issue of limited access to equity capital; and eliminating the significant administrative expenses incurred in maintaining a listing in Canada thus being able to redirect these funds into stabilization of the business.

Acuity Brands Has Increase

Acuity Brands, Inc., a lighting and building management solutions company, had net sales of $947.6 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year; this is an increase of 0.4 per cent from net sales of $944 million in the third quarter of 2018. Operating profit for the quarter was $120.3 million, an increase of 12 per cent over the year-ago period. Net income was $88.4 million, an increase of 21.1 per cent. Gross profit decreased 1.4 per cent to $383.6 million year-over-year while gross profit margin decreased 70 basis points to 40.5 per cent.

July 2, 2019

Home Depot Celebrates 40 Years

The Home Depot's founders rang in 40 years of success at the New York Stock Exchange on June 24 to commemorate the first store’s grand opening. CEO Craig Menear and co-founders Bernard Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah, Ron Brill, and Ken Langone joined members of the leadership team from across the enterprise to celebrate on the trading floor. Home Depot opened its first stores in June 1979. The company went public in 1981 and began focusing on professional customers (contractors) in 1986. In 1994, it acquired Aikenhead to create the Canadian division. Today, it operates more than 2,200 stores primarily in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. This includes 182 stores in Canada.

Stanley B&D Receives Comparably Awards

Stanley Black & Decker has received four Comparably Awards for 'Best CEO as rated by female employees,' 'Best CEO as rated by racially diverse employees,' 'Best Leadership Team,' and 'Best Company for Professional Development.' Stanley Black & Decker has various strategic initiatives in place to bring diversity and inclusion into its narrative. Thousands of employees are engaged in employee resource groups – cohorts to provide career advancement, engage in networking opportunities, and improve inclusion across the business. The company has also participated in the Business Roundtable Diversity & Inclusion Index, where the largest U.S.-based employers are committed to building a more inclusive environment. As well, Jim Loree, president and CEO, has signed on to the 'CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.' The awards are derived from sentiment ratings provided by employees who anonymously rate their employer throughout the year. Winners are determined based on a series of 50+ structured and comprehensive workplace questions in nearly 20 core culture categories.

Retail Sales Growth In Recovery Mode

Although hardly spectacular, retails sales had the highest gains in six months and things seem to be heading in the right direction as sales in all major retail sectors are showing the same kind of rebound, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending April, sales were up 2.8 per cent year-over-year. The trend continues to strengthen, but it has a way to go to return to previous highs. The 12-month trend also shows a slight improvement for the first time in over 12 months. But we're not out of the woods yet, says Strapagiel, as there was a similar upswing in retail sales growth in mid-2018 that never stuck. eCommerce sales represented about 3.1 per cent of retail sales for the three-month period ending April. eCommerce sales were up 18 per cent year-over-year.

West Fraser Impacted By Wildfire Logging Curtailments

West Fraser will temporarily suspend production for two weeks at its Alberta Plywood operations and High Prairie, AB, sawmill to address low log inventories for the facilities. Log inventories in support of these mills have been adversely impacted by wildfire-related logging curtailments compounded by recent wet weather. The decision to implement this temporary reduction provides time to build log inventories to more appropriate levels. Plywood production is anticipated to be reduced by approximately 13 million square feet, while the impact on Alberta lumber production is anticipated to be minor.

Wilson To Manage Hand Tools

Leeanne Wilson is merchandise manager of hand tools/sporting goods with Home Hardware Stores Limited. She has nearly 20 years of experience with the company including the role of merchandise associate, power tools and OPE.

June 28, 2019

2018 U.S. Home Improvement Spending Robust

2018 was a robust year for consumer spending on home services in the U.S., with the average total spend of $9,081 on home improvement, maintenance, and emergencies, says HomeAdvisor in its annual 'State of Home Spending Report.' Spending per household on home services was up 17 per cent in 2018 from 2017. Main contributing factors to this increase were the growing cultural focus on design aesthetics and quality of life and newer and better home improvement tools. The report says homeowners are spending more on home improvement projects than home maintenance projects. For every $1 spent on home maintenance, homeowners spent an average of $5 on home improvements. However, homeowners report completing an average of 6.7 home maintenance projects over the compared to 2.2 home improvement projects during the year. Room remodels were the most popular improvement project in 2018 with bathrooms topping the list for the second year in a row. Homeowners list replacing or repairing damage, defects, and decay as the number one reason for spending on home improvement projects. Looking forward, homeowners are prioritizing new appliances, roof replacements, and hardwood refinishing in addition to room remodels.

Technology To Drive Kitchen Faucets Market

Over the past few years, the plumbing business has flourished, which has encouraged growth in the global kitchen faucets market, says a report by Fortune Business Insights. The North American kitchen faucet market was worth US$2,011.6 million in 2017, with the global market estimated at $9,611.6 million. The global compound annual growth rate to 2025 is forecast at 6.3 per cent. Further growth will be spurred by consumer demand for advanced faucets with several traditional manufacturers planning to develop lines to meet this demand. Rapid digitization in kitchen faucets and the introduction of touchscreen kitchen faucets is expected to bode well for the market. The added advantages of hands-free faucets such as cost-effectiveness and energy savers are contributing to growth.

Atlas Engineered Products Partners With MiTek Canada

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) has formed a strategic partnership with MiTek Canada, Inc. MiTek specializes in BIM (building information modeling) software, industrial equipment, facility management solutions, and building products for use throughout all parts of the building industry value-chain. "This partnership gives us access to cutting edge design and engineering technology, ensuring consistent quality standards at all our locations across Canada. Our designers will be able to collaborate and execute seamlessly using one shared technology platform," says Dirk Maritz, chief executive officer and president of AEP. "In addition, AEP's exclusive purchase of MiTek connector plates, building products, and services is expected to unlock significant value for our company via gains in operational efficiencies as well as economies of scale across all of our operations."

Peterson Named Interim CEO

Christopher Peterson has been appointed interim chief executive officer of Newell Brands. He will also continue his current role as executive vice-president, chief financial officer, which he has held since joining the company in 2018. The company is searching for a permanent CEO, and expects to announce an external hire in the upcoming weeks.

June 27, 2019

Corporations Act Has New Rules

Corporations that are subject to the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) must now maintain and provide access to a register of individuals who, directly or indirectly, have “significant control” over the corporation, says Hicks Morley in its 'FTR Now' newsletter. The federal government says that the purpose of this change is to enhance corporate transparency and curb tax evasion, money laundering, corruption, financing of terrorism, and other criminal activities. An individual with significant control (ISC) is someone who has 25 per cent or more of voting rights in the corporation or 25 per cent or more of fair market value of the corporation. It is also an individual who has significant direct or indirect influence that, if exercised, would result in control of the corporation. As well, two or more individuals will each be considered to be an ISC if they are jointly the registered holders of, the beneficial owners of, or have direct or indirect control or direction over a “significant number of shares of the corporation.” Regulations may be prescribed that could further expand the scope of individuals who will be considered ISCs. The ISC register must contain contact information, when the individual became or ceased to be an ISC, and a description of their position, interests, and rights in respect of shares of the corporation. The ISC register must be maintained at the registered office of the corporation or at any other place in Canada designated by the directors.

Commercial Ceiling Products Provide Residential Sales Opportunities

In 2018, the U.S. commercial market for ceilings totalled 92 per cent of value demand, a share that is projected to remain consistent going forward, says a study by Freedonia Group. However, while baffles, clouds, and other costly, high-performance ceiling products keep commercial sales high, design innovation and evolving consumer trends are turning traditionally commercial-only products like ceiling tiles into must-have items for residential customers. Increasingly, low-cost ceiling tiles can mimic the look and texture of higher-value materials such as metal and wood. These products are particularly favoured for dining rooms, kitchens, apartment lobbies, and other showcase rooms where a distinctive, high-end look can make a big impression. The acoustic performance of ceiling products is providing additional residential sales opportunities for applications such as home theatres and media rooms. Design trends favouring a more custom look are also creating opportunities for ceiling tiles on non-ceiling surfaces, such as walls. The report says communicating the benefits of ceiling products in residential applications will be key for manufacturers and distributors looking to increase their penetration.

Scepter Celebrates 70th Anniversary

Fuel and water container manufacturer Scepter is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The company was founded in 1949 by Evald Torokvei in the basement of his Toronto, ON, home. The company originally produced inflatable toys, wading pools, and hula hoops, but soon expanded operations to include large diameter plastic pipes and fittings. Scepter eventually branded this product under IPEX Inc. which went on to become a global manufacturer of plastic pipes. The company also produces marine outboard engine fuel tanks and products for the U.S. military. Scepter's consumer division designs and manufactures hazard materials containers which are sold around the world. The company has manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and in Canada in Scarborough, ON.

Real View Launches Upgraded Kitchen Design Software

Real View Inc. has launched ProKitchen version 9.7, available for Windows and Mac. The kitchen design software solution now offers Dynamic Design Showcase, radius walls, cathedral walls, skylight windows, and rotating floor images. It offers a collection of over 500 manufacturer catalogues, custom furniture, appliance, and accessory catalogues. The tool can be augmented with various add-ons and features multiple customer report improvements and support for multi-colour designs, headers and footers, data exporting, and the option to apply a single showcase to multiple designs. A 14-day free trial is available for design professionals and non-professionals and DIYers can use the free planner.

Brass To Lead WD-40

Steve Brass is president and chief operating officer of the WD-40 Company. He has been with the company since 1991 and most recently held the role of division president, Americas and chief brand officer. Patricia Olsem is division president, Americas. She has been with the company since 2005 and most recently held the role of senior vice-president and general manager of the U.S.

June 26, 2019

Wholesale Sales Increase for Fifth Month

Wholesale sales increased 1.7 per cent to $65.3 billion in April, the fifth consecutive monthly increase, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors accounting for 86 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector was the leading contributor to April's gains, followed by the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector. The machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector posted a second consecutive increase, as sales were up 2.2 per cent to $13.9 billion. The construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment, and supplies industry rose 5.4 per cent, contributing the most to the gain. Sales in the personal and household goods subsector rose 3.1 per cent to $9.3 billion. Sales increased in four provinces in April, with Alberta leading the gains. Wholesale inventories increased for the eighth consecutive month, up 0.4 per cent to $90.6 billion in April. In the building material and supplies subsector, inventories rose for the second consecutive month, up 0.9 per cent in April.

U.S. Household Formation Back On Track

With the nation's economy on sound footing and incomes on the rise, the number of people forming households in the U.S. has finally returned to a more normal pace. Housing production, however, has not, says the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in its '2019 State of the Nation Housing Report.' It says the housing shortfall is keeping pressure on house prices and rents, eroding affordability for modest income households in many markets. Although household growth is back from post-recession lows, new home construction remains depressed with additions to supply barely keeping pace with the number of new households. The number of U.S. homeowners rose sharply, even as the ratio of median home price to median household income rose from a low of 3.3 in 2011 to 4.1 in 2018, a sign of deteriorating affordability. Looking forward, Millennials and Baby Boomers will continue to push household growth, spurring demand in the remodeling market and the demand for entry-level homes.

Brands Still Misunderstand Shoppers' Needs

There is a deep disconnect between what modern consumers want and what brands deliver, says a report by API commerce solution provider Elastic Path. 'The Sci-Fi Shopper: How to Future Proof Your Brand for the New Consumer' says consumers' most common retail pain points are universally underestimated by brands. For example, 57 per cent of consumers believe long checkout lines are a pain point, but only 35 per cent of brands believe this is a pain point for them. For lack of inventory, 55 per cent of consumers consider this a pain point compared to 32 per cent of brands. Uninformed staff bothers 38 per cent of consumers, but only 20 per cent of brands believe this is a problem. The disconnect is even bigger with technology experiences. Sixty-seven per cent of consumers want to use checkout-less payments, but only 18 per cent of brands offer it; 58 per cent of consumers want to use smart devices in their shopping experience and only 25 per cent of brands offer it. "This report is a timely reminder that consumer needs are simple ‒ they want to save time and money," says Harry Chemko, CEO of Elastic Path. "Customer loyalty really comes down to listening to your customers and solving simple problems."

Canadians Plan To Stay Home This Summer         

More than ever, Canadians are planning on staying close to home to enjoy a summer 'staycation' and plan on shopping and making improvements around the home, says RetailMeNot, an online coupon provider. A survey by the company says 30 per cent of Canadians plan on spending their summer 'staycation' style with al fresco dinner parties at home, local summer activities, community festivals, and local day trips. Thirteen per cent will invite friends and family over for summer entertaining, taking advantage of the nice weather by barbequing and enjoying quality time together outside. Twelve per cent plan to take on home improvement projects.

Armstrong Introduces Acoustical Ceiling Panels

Armstrong Ceiling Solutions has introduced ACOUSTIBuilt Seamless Acoustical Ceilings, a ceiling system that provides the look of drywall but performs like an acoustical ceiling. The finished panels offer a smooth, non-directional, monolithic visual for a seamless appearance of a drywall ceiling. The product is part of the Armstrong Total Acoustics portfolio and achieves a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of up to 0.70, indicating it absorbs up to 70 per cent of the sound that strikes it, and also has a high Ceiling Attenuation Class (CAC) up to 48, indicating its ability to ensure speech privacy by preventing sound from entering adjacent spaces. The panels also meet sustainability compliance standards including LEED v4, Living Building Challenge, and the WELL Building Standard.

Leaf Solutions Names CFO

Christopher Nagel is chief financial officer at Leaf Home Solutions, a gutter protection solutions company. He joins the company from Fairmount Santrol where he also served as CFO. Larry Napolitan, who has been CFO since 2016, will take on the newly-created position of vice-president of finance. Leaf Home Solutions has 64 locations across North America.

June 25, 2019

Residential Leads Building Construction Investment

Total investment in building construction increased 2.6 per cent in April to $14.8 billion, says Statistics Canada. Investment in the residential sector (up 3.6 per cent to $10.1 billion) led the growth, while the non-residential sector edged up 0.3 per cent to $4.7 billion. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction rose 2.9 per cent to $12.5 billion. In April, total investment in residential building construction increased on the strength of investment in multi-unit dwellings by7.1 per cent to $5.1 billion, while investment in single-family homes edged up 0.3 per cent to $5 billion. Provincially, gains in multi-unit investment were led by British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec. Non-residential investment was up slightly in Quebec and British Columbia. These gains were partially offset by declines in Alberta and Ontario.

Ontario Investing In Forestry Businesses

The government of Ontario is investing $315,300 in Garden River Truss, a roof and floor truss manufacturer, to purchase new equipment to increase production capacity. Garden River Truss, located in Garden River First Nation, produces standard roof trusses ‒ triangular-shaped frames for homes, garages, and sheds. It also specializes in designing and producing customized roof and floor trusses. The majority of the company's workforce is comprised of First Nation community members. The government will also invest $3.2 million over five years in Columbia Forest Products plywood mill in Hearst; $5.5 million investment over five years in the Ben Hokum & Son Ltd. sawmill in Killaloe; $2 million for Hornepayne Lumber in Hornepayne to reopen the community's idle sawmill; $3.2 million over five years for Columbia Forest Products plywood mill in Hearst; $255,349 for Kenogami Lake Lumber in Hallébourg to purchase forestry hauling equipment to expand its operations; $175,259 for True North Timber in Chapleau to purchase forestry hauling and harvesting equipment; $166,820 for TGT Trucking in Manitouwadge to purchase forestry hauling equipment, enhance maintenance space, and upgrade its operations information system; and $41,058 for EACOM Timber in Nairn Centre to introduce a new trim block recovery system. The Ontario government announced in November its plan to develop a provincial forestry strategy to unleash the potential of the sector. These investments are part of that strategy.

New Construction Starts Climb

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $757 billion, new U.S. construction starts in May climbed 10 per cent from April, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase continues the double-digit swings that were reported during the previous two months, when a 16 per cent hike for total construction starts in March was followed by a 15 per cent decline in April. Each of the three main construction sectors contributed to May’s 10 per cent gain. Non-building construction rebounded 32 per cent after depressed activity in April, while non-residential building improved seven per cent. Residential building edged up two per cent, with modest gains for both single family housing and multi-family housing. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the period ending May 2019 were two per cent below the amount reported for the 12 months ending May 2018. The May statistics raised the index to 160, up from April’s 145. May’s reading was still less than the 172 reported in March, as well as the full year 2018 average of 171.

RBC Launches Payment Tracking Feature

RBC has launched the RBC Express(r) Track Wire Payments feature as part of its digital payment platform. This capability allows business clients to track their wire payments in real time through the bank's online business banking channel, RBC Express. The platform leverages SWIFT's global payments innovation (gpi) technology. Companies can track their wire payment from the moment it leaves RBC to the time it reaches the beneficiary's bank at no additional cost. More than $300 billion is now sent daily via SWIFT gpi in 148 countries.

Sullivan Tasked With Restructuring RPM

Michael H. Sullivan is vice-president – operations and chief restructuring officer with RPM International Inc. In this capacity, he will oversee RPM’s '2020 MAP to Growth' operating improvement initiative. He will identify and execute opportunities to improve manufacturing efficiencies, reduce operating costs, streamline procurement, and enhance health and safety measures across all RPM business segments. In addition, he will play a key role in RPM’s annual planning process and oversee its global sourcing teams. Previously, he was with AlixPartners, a consulting agency, where he played a key role in the analysis and development of RPM's '2020 Map to Growth.'

June 24, 2019

Retail Sales Up For Third Month

Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month, edging up 0.1 per cent to $51.5 billion in April, says Statistics Canada. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales were down 0.1 per cent. Sales were up in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 74 per cent of retail trade. Higher sales at gasoline stations and food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the gain. Following increases in March, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 2.6 per cent in April; however, despite this decline, sales remained above February levels. Sales in Ontario and Alberta continued their upward trend, rising for the third consecutive month. Retail sales in Quebec were down for the first time in 2019. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales reached $1.6 billion in April, accounting for three per cent of total retail trade, compared with two per cent of total retail trade in April 2016. Compared with April 2018, retail eCommerce increased 14.9 per cent in April 2019, while total unadjusted retail sales increased five per cent.

Orgill Adding 8th DC

Orgill, Inc. will expand its network of world-class distribution facilities with the addition of a 780,000 square foot distribution centre in Rome, NY. In will be Orgill’s eighth full-service distribution centre. Others are in Tifton, GA; Inwood, WV; Sikeston, MO; Hurricane, UT; Kilgore, TX; Post Falls, ID; and London, ON. The primary reason for the addition of the Rome facility is to provide faster and more efficient service to its growing customer base in the northeastern U.S. The new facility will serve customers in seven states ‒ New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Orgill plans for the facility to be fully operational by early 2022.

RONA Haute Matawinie Completes Renovation

Saint-Michel-des-Saints, QC-based RONA Haute Matawinie, a Lowe's Canada affiliate store, has completed its renovation. The family-owned hardware store has been part of the town's landscape since 1972 and is owned by François Richard and Claude Perrault, who also own the RONA store in Saint-Zénon, QC. The 10,000-square-foot store has been completely remodelled to enhance the shopping experience and better reflect new market trends. The transformation is visible right from the store entrance, where a large open space borders the service counter. The redesigned showroom creates more visual space and makes it easier to access the latest outdoor furniture and barbecue models. The store layout and racking have been redesigned to combine certain departments and present products in a more intuitive way for customers. The lighting has also been modified to provide a brighter environment.

Shopify Unveils Platform Enhancements

Shopify Inc., a multi-channel commerce platform, has unveiled platform enhancements and updates focused on helping direct-to-consumer brands. Innovations include an updated Shopify Plus platform for enterprise brands and more global capabilities. Shopify Plus will provide a single view of a merchant’s entire business, tools that facilitate a consistent experience across stores, and a tool to create new stores. Shopify POS will be a more intuitive and scalable point-of-sale software, providing retailers with a simple interface, new customer service shortcuts, and access to all of Shopify’s POS app extensions. Eleven new language capabilities have been added to Shopify Admin and Translations API will store translated buyer-facing content including products, collections, and blog posts, enabling merchants to provide a consistent shopping experience in multiple languages. With Shopify Payments, merchants can sell in multiple currencies and get paid in their local currency. The company also has a new online store design experience where merchants can customize the look of their store without editing code. It features the ability to display products in video and 3D models. As well, partners can now integrate subscription payments solutions directly into Shopify’s checkout.

May U.S. Housing Starts Decline

U.S. housing starts dropped 0.9 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.269 million units in May with a drop in the construction of single-family housing units, says the U.S. Commerce Department. Homebuilding declined for the month; land and labour shortages are making it difficult for builders, especially in the single-family housing segment. Other factors affecting the market include low inflation, a slowing economy, and the trade war between the U.S. and China. Data for April was revised up to show homebuilding rising to a pace of 1.281 million units, instead of increasing to a rate of 1.235 million units as previously reported. Single-family homebuilding in the U.S., which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, dropped 6.4 per cent to a rate of 820,000 units in May.

June 21, 2019

Automation Key Future Focus In Warehousing

Automation and worker augmentation solutions will be a key focus for warehouses during the next five years, says a study by Zebra Technologies Corporation. The '2024 Warehousing Vision Study' says more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of decision-makers agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse, but only 35 per cent have a clear understanding of where to start automating. By 2024, automation will enhance worker performance rather than replace workers, says the report. Sixty-one per cent of decision-makers plan to enable partial automation or labour augmentation with technology in the warehouse. Three-quarters of respondents believe human interaction is part of their optimal operational balance, with 39 per cent citing partial automation (some human involvement) and 34 per cent citing augmentation (equipping workers with devices) as their preference. Decision-makers anticipate using robotics/bots for inbound inventory management (24 per cent), outbound packing (22 per cent), and goods in/receiving (20 per cent) by 2024. As well, 59 per cent of respondents cite capacity utilization as a significant expected challenge and plan to address it by expanding the size of their warehouses. Labour recruitment, labour efficiency, and IT/technology utilization are cited as top challenges.

FCL Recognized By CMC

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) was recognized as 'Large Co-operative of the Year' by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) at its annual awards ceremony in Quebec City on June 19. The award recognizes Canadian organizations that have made a significant contribution to co-operatives and mutuals in Canada and around the world. FCL was recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability, community investment, employee engagement, co-operative leadership, and financial responsibility. In 2018, FCL returned $789 million to more than 170 independent local co-ops across western Canada. FCL is one of 8,000 co-operative and mutual businesses in the country.

Program To Accelerate Digital Transformation

To help Canadian businesses unlock greater business value and capitalize on advancements in smart technologies and cloud solutions, RBC and Microsoft have launched the Go Digital program. The program is designed to remove key barriers which businesses have cited as preventing or delaying their digital transformation. The program offers a suite of turnkey technology solutions leveraging the power and security of the Microsoft cloud and skilled partner network, as well as financing and advice from RBC to help businesses embark on their digital transformation journey. The program is currently available to Canadian food manufacturers and will continue to expand to other industries over time.

Stainless Steel Loaders Top Appliance Picks

Stainless steel refrigerators are the top consumer picks when it comes to appliances, says Lowe’s. Customers in the U.S. bought nearly 2.8 million refrigerators from Lowe’s in 2018 and almost half of those chose a stainless steel finish. However, the retailer says black finishes are becoming a big trend. It’s the fastest growing colour, with options like black stainless steel, black matte, and black slate. White as the colour of choice for fridges has decreased 13.7 per cent since 2013. When it comes to washers, consumers prefer the top loader. Eighty per cent of shoppers chose top loaders over front loaders. Lowe’s sold about 2.7 million washers in the U.S. in 2018. For stoves, most customers preferred electric over gas, with consumers in only eight states in the U.S. purchasing more gas stoves than electric.

Nagarajan To Head Nordson

Sundaram Nagarajan has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Nordson Corporation, a manufacturer of sealant and coatings applicators, effective August 1. Currently, he is executive vice-president, automotive OEM segment, with Illinois Tool Works Inc.

June 20, 2019

Friends, Family Top Source For Brand Awareness

For nearly half of consumers (45 per cent), the first time they hear about a retailer they've never purchased from is through friends and family, says a study by Yes Marketing. 'The Retail Shopper's Journey to Loyalty' says word-of-mouth recommendations significantly outweigh other sources, including product review sites (eight per cent), influencer recommendations (four per cent), and news sites (two per cent) when it comes to driving brand awareness. Moreover, 69 per cent of consumers have avoided shopping with a retailer they've never purchased from before because of negative feedback from family or friends. Additionally, comprehensive product information and message relevance are among the top factors that build trust with a new retailer. More than a third of consumers (36 per cent) report that having enough product information is the number one driver of trust in retailers they've never shopped with before. As for products, almost half (47 per cent) of consumers rank price as the most influential factor in their decision to purchase from a new retailer, followed closely by quality (39 per cent), indicating an opportunity for marketers to emphasize these elements in communications with new prospective customers. When it comes to convenience, 40 per cent of consumers rank shipping as the number one factor in their decision to purchase from a new retailer.

Giant Tiger Breaks Ground On Ottawa HQ 

Giant Tiger Stores Limited has broken ground on its Ottawa, ON, headquarters and flagship store. The buildings are part of the company's growth strategy, which commits to opening 10 to 12 stores per year across Canada. The company anticipates full construction starting this fall. The Ottawa store will open in fall 2020 and the office by mid-winter of 2021. The home office will be approximately 173,800 square feet and is being built to accommodate growth. To keep up with this growth, Giant Tiger recently moved its distribution centre from Walkley Road in Ottawa to a new facility in Johnstown, ON. The home office will be a four-storey building built to LEED specifications and equipped with the latest technology.

Strong Growth Forecast For Robotic Lawn Mowers

The global robotic lawn mower market is expected to reach $2.69 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 14.69 per cent during 2018 to 2024, says a report by Reportlinker. Drivers include the rise of landscaping industry, growth in marketing and promotional activities, and development of sustainable cities. The demand for robotic lawn mowers is also expected to be spurred by sustainable living behaviours and unconventional sources that have risen out of the urban phenomenon of mixed-use community spaces. As well, the incorporation of the Internet of Thing (IoT), robotics, automation, and intelligent systems will propel growth. In 2017, the small-sized robotic lawn mowers market dominated the global market with a share of more than 98 per cent in terms of unit shipment. A majority of households in Europe and the U.S. prefer to buy small-sized mowers as they are suitable for small lawns and yards. Medium-sized and large-sized robotic mowers are mostly used in the commercial sector, including landscaping service firms and for soccer fields and golf courses.

PayPal Canada Solution Targets Cross-border Trade

PayPal Canada has launched a solution that offers small businesses up to 75 per cent in shipping discounts for cross-border trade. The solution also includes a one-day shipping service to the U.S. that tracks links on every parcel with an integrated platform where online sellers can import orders from popular marketplaces to arrange shipment. PayPal says high shipping costs and a lack of efficient shipping options have long held back Canadian business owners from selling internationally. Despite the fact that Canada currently has 14 trade agreements with countries around the world, only 12 per cent of small and medium businesses take advantage of these opportunities. It says some of the greatest international growth opportunities are in the U.S., Canada's largest export market, where businesses can send goods valued up to $800 free of tax, duties, and brokerage fees.

Verschuren Appointed To Order

Annette Verschuren, chair and CEO, NRStor Inc., will be inducted as a Companion of the Order of the Business Hall of Fame. The honour recognizes and celebrates her lifetime achievements. Since its inception in 1979, the Order of the Business Hall of Fame has been the highest honour of its kind in Canadian business. Between 1996 and 2011, she was the president of the Home Depot Canada and the Home Depot Asia, overseeing the growth of the company's Canadian operations from 19 to 179 stores and leading its entry into China.

June 19, 2019

Mental Health Issues Affecting Entrepreneurs

As many as 62 per cent of entrepreneurs feel depressed at least once a week, says a study by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and BDC. 'Going it Alone: the mental health and well-being of entrepreneurs in Canada' also says female entrepreneurs whose enterprises are in the growth or early stages and those with fewer employees or less revenue are more likely to report mental health issues. Nearly half (46 per cent) say that mental health issues interfere with their ability to work. "We want to make sure mental health is included in discussions about entrepreneurship in Canada. The study has enabled us to take the pulse of entrepreneurs' well-being and now we are better positioned to take helpful action," says Fardous Hosseiny, interim national CEO and national director, research and public policy, at the CMHA. The nearly 500 entrepreneurs surveyed report that barriers to seeking mental health support included the cost of mental health services, lack of access to support, and limited awareness of support as well as stigma-related concerns, such as concern for reputation and discomfort discussing the issue. Based on the findings, BDC will work with CMHA to develop easy-to-use tools and resources that support entrepreneurial well-being.

Ace Port-Daniel Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Ace Port-Daniel, a Lowe's Canada affiliate store, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Located in Port-Daniel in the Gaspésie region of Quebec, the store is know for its personalized service and products tailored to the needs of local consumers. Since dealer owner Richard Briand acquired the hardware store in 2009, it has experienced steady growth. Over the years, he has invested $75,000 to refresh the store and tailor it to the changing needs of his customers. With a 2,800-square-foot sales floor and a 15,000-square-foot lumberyard, the store now offers approximately 6,000 products to residents in the area. Since 2018, customers have also been able to access thousands of additional products online and utilize the company's 'Click and Collect' service. To mark the anniversary, Briand will offer his customers "a summer of celebrations."

Masco Divesting Cabinetry And Windows Businesses

Masco Corporation has concluded a strategic review of its cabinetry and windows businesses and will pursue the sale of these. The company says this is part of its strategy to reduce its cyclicality by increasing exposure to the repair and remodel segment of the housing market. Thus far, it has already spun off its installation business. The actions will complete the process of reducing Masco's exposure to the new construction segment and position it to focus on the less cyclical plumbing products and decorative architectural products businesses going forward. The sales of the cabinetry and windows businesses are expected to close in approximately six to nine months.

Convenience More Important Than Channel

With more options and channels for shopping than ever before, consumers aren't just replacing one method for another, they're shopping everywhere, says a study from global payments platform Adyen and 451 Research. And, not surprisingly, the most important thing North American shoppers prioritize is convenience. As the lines between physical and digital shopping experiences continue to blur, consumers are asking more from retailers. In North America alone, 84 per cent of retailers have seen a rise in consumer expectations. To avoid leaving significant revenue on the table, retailers must embrace a unified commerce strategy to create a cohesive shopping journey across sales channels. While there isn’t an overwhelming preference for any one channel, convenience would sway consumers to shop at one retailer over another, above any other category, if merchandise and price were the same. However, the abandonment rates for in-store and online shopping are high when consumers are faced with inconveniences such as out-of-stock merchandise, long lines, laborious payment options, and lack of cross-channel buying options.

Brick Offers Credit Protection

Mogo Finance Technology Inc., a financial health app, now offers a program with Trans Global Insurance (TGI) to help customers of The Brick understand and combat identity fraud. TGI, a credit insurance provider, is the exclusive provider of such products to The Brick's customers. Through the program, The Brick customers who enroll in TGI's credit insurance protection will receive credit score educational information along with a voucher for 120 days of free access to MogoProtect to help them safeguard their identity and creditworthiness. MogoProtect monitors a consumer's Equifax Canada Co. credit score and sends alerts directly through the app and via eMail after an inquiry. It then guides consumers through the steps to help prevent identity fraud. MogoProtect is integrated into the Mogo Finance app and can be downloaded via the Apple app store or Google Play.

June 18, 2019

Homebuying Incentive Launched

The government of Canada has introduced a tool to help middle class Canadians buy their first home. Scheduled to launch in September, the ‘First-time Home Buyer Incentive’ will reduce monthly mortgage payments required for first-time homebuyers without increasing the amount they need to save for a downpayment. The program complements other measures taken in 'Budget 2019' to support first time homebuyers with their downpayment such as an increased RRSP withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $30,000. The government has allocated $1.25 billion over three years for this program. The incentive will be available to first-time homebuyers with qualified annual household incomes up to $120,000. 'Budget 2019' also previewed the ‘Shared Equity Mortgage Provider Fund,’ a five-year, $100-million lending fund to assist providers of shared equity mortgages to help eligible Canadians achieve affordable homeownership. This will support an alternative homeownership model targeted at first-time homebuyers, help attract new providers of shared equity mortgages, and encourage additional housing supply. The fund will be launched July 31 and will be administered by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

U.S. Retail Sales Show Consumer Resilience

U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 per cent in May seasonally adjusted from April and up 3.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Revisions to April monthly data were significant with retail sales reversing a loss of 0.2 per cent monthly change to a gain of 0.3 per cent. NRF says retail sales data has been unusually choppy given the economic environment in recent months which includes the partial government shutdown, volatile energy prices, and roller coaster equity markets, notwithstanding escalating trade tensions. May’s retail sales increases were broad based, with nearly all categories showing gains, with the only decline coming from food and beverage stores. As of May, the three-month moving average was up 3.3 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with a gain of 2.9 per cent in April. May’s results build on a revised gain of 0.3 percent month-over-month and a revised 5.9 per cent gain year-over-year in April. Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.4 per cent year-over-year, but up 0.1 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

RONA Welcomes Affiliate Stores In Quebec Region

Lowe’s Canada welcomes the Placide Martineau family business into its RONA affiliated dealer network. Founded in 1959 by Placide Martineau, the business is now owned by the founder’s six sons: Christian, François, Irené, Jean-Marc, Mario, and Michel Martineau. In addition to their decision to join RONA, they announced earlier this month the acquisition of a new point of sale in Saint-Apollinaire, QC, which is already affiliated with the RONA banner. This brings to four the total number of stores owned by the family business in the Centre-du-Quebec region. With the acquisition of this new store and the conversion of the three existing stores to the RONA banner, the Placide Martineau company, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is entering a new phase of development. The stores will offer new product categories as well as a wider assortment of items. Customers can also shop online at the RONA website and take advantage of the Click and Collect service that will be offered in all of the Pacide Martineau stores starting this summer.

Benjamin Moore Red Deer Offers Sansin Wood Finishes

Benjamin Moore Red Deer in Red Deer, AB, now carries Sansin Corporation's line of exterior wood finishes. To showcase the products, Sansin is hosting a product demonstration at the store on June 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A wood finish advisor will be on hand to offer tips on how to apply Sansin’s water-borne, penetrating products on decks, furniture, siding, and other exterior wood surfaces. There will also be an opportunity for DIYers and contractors to ask questions about specific projects. Hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and gift bags will be provided. Owners Rick and Andrew Wiebe, Shelley Mueller, and Marshall Wideman says the product has done well at other locations they own in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Wetaskiwin, and Camrose, AB.

West Fraser Plans Permanent Production Reductions

West Fraser plans to permanently close its Chasm lumber mill and eliminate the third shift from its 100 Mile House lumber mill in British Columbia as of the third quarter of 2019. The decision is the result of timber supply constraints owing to BC’s devastating Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, recent record wildfires, price declines in lumber markets, and high saw log costs. As a result of reduced harvesting levels set by the chief forester of BC, there is insufficient timber supply to support the current lumber production capacity of the lumber mills in these locations. Lumber production is anticipated to be permanently reduced by approximately 314 million board feet.

Dörken Launches Four-layer WRB

Dörken Systems Inc. has launched DELTA-STRATUS SA, a self-adhering vapour-permeable air- and water-resistive barrier (WRB) with a fourth layer for added UV protection. The company says exposure to UV light begins to have an impact on building materials from the minute they are installed until the time the building is covered with exterior cladding. The damage happens at the molecular level, so its effects may not be felt until well after the exposure has happened and long after the wall has been completely enclosed. DELTA-STRATUS SA is engineered with two outer layers, made up of high-strength, spun-bonded polypropylene fabric, which are thermally bonded to a highly vapour-permeable, watertight polymeric middle layer. The fourth layer is a UV-resistant acrylic coating.

June 17, 2019

May Home Sales Back Up

Home sales rose by 1.9 per cent in May. Together with monthly gains in March and April, activity in May reached the highest level since January 2018, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). While sales stood 8.9 per cent above the six-year low reached in February, this latest increase has only just returned levels to their historical average. While May sales were only up in half of all local markets, that list included almost all large markets, led by gains in both the Greater Vancouver, BC, (GVA) and Greater Toronto, ON, (GTA) areas. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 6.7 per cent compared to May 2018, marking the largest year-over-year gain recorded since the summer of 2016. The increase returned sales in line with the 10-year average for the month of May. While about two-thirds of local markets posted year-over-year gains for the month, the national increase was dominated by improving sales trends in the GTA, which accounted for close to half of the overall increase. The number of newly-listed homes edged back by 1.2 per cent in May. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 57.4 per cent in May compared to 55.7 per cent in April. That said, the measure is still within close reach of its long-term average of 53.5 per cent.

AI-powered Solutions Will Provide Growth Opportunities 

Home and building technology companies are increasingly embedding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms into products to facilitate self-learning behaviour and stay ahead of the competition, says data from Frost & Sullivan. It’s report, ‘Global Homes and Buildings Outlook, 2019,’ says these technologies are expected to enable building optimization capabilities, which are key differentiators. Additional features that support sustainability and customer-centric solutions will help entrants compete against incumbents and, overall, drive the $1,249.95 billion industry towards $1,301.44 billion in 2019. There are opportunities in key markets for the systems of lighting, energy management, automation, facility management, smart homes, fire safety, and security. Numerous smart home devices will be integrated with voice command control in 2019. Smart home security providers will lay emphasis on the comfort of homeowners in addition to improving home security by offering multi-functional products. To make homes truly connected and energy efficient, homes and buildings companies need to establish partnerships with utilities, energy consultants, and retailers, says the report.

CRAFTSMAN Launches Pro Series Tape Measures

CRAFTSMAN has launched the Pro-13 tape measure. This heavy-duty professional grade tape has 13 feet of standout and features a Mylar blade coating, BladeArmor hook protection, and extensive rubber overmold. It also includes a belt clip, blade lock, and a magnetic end hook. The tape is 1.25-inches wide, 25-feet long, and has 16-inch stud markings.

More B.C. Mill Curtailments Ahead

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. will temporarily curtail operations at its BCTMP mill in Taylor, BC, from June 29 through August 5, due to a combination of weaker market conditions and short-term fibre constraints resulting from industrywide sawmill curtailments in the BC Interior. As well, Norbord Inc. will indefinitely curtail production at its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House, BC, starting in August. The region in which the mill is located has been under mounting wood supply pressure for the past decade as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. This challenge has been more recently exacerbated by the significant wildfires that the province of British Columbia experienced in the summers of both 2017 and 2018. The resulting wood supply shortage and high wood prices do not support the economic operation of the mill at this time.

People Wish They Took More Baths

Half of North Americans take a bath at least once per week, and over half (53 per cent) wish they took more baths than they currently do, says a study by Bath Fitter. The report says a common complaint is a lack of time in a busy schedule. However, nearly a quarter say a poor bath environment – consisting of the tub being too small, dirty, or poorly grouted – was what curbed the craving for more baths. Bath Fitter, which commissioned the survey for its 35th anniversary, says tub-over-tub installation offers one solution for people who have a poor bath environment.

June 14, 2019

Businesses Concerned How To Fund Pharmacare

While small business owners are open to the idea of a national single-payer pharmacare system in Canada, they strongly oppose funding it through payroll taxes or a GST increase, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Overall, 47 per cent of business owners support the introduction of a pharmacare system, while 27 per cent are opposed. Eighty-five per cent of small business owners who support the implementation of a pharmacare plan are opposed to funding it through a GST increase, while 72 per cent oppose funding it through payroll taxes and 72 per cent oppose funding it through increases in personal income taxes. Most (84 per cent) business owners agree that the plan should be funded through cost savings from negotiating lower drug prices (84 per cent) and by reallocating funds by cutting existing spending (72 per cent). The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare estimates that the plan would come at a cost of $15.3 billion by 2027, when fully phased in.

Canadian Businesses Investing In AI

Canadian businesses are focusing on information and technology, with a particularly strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI), says a survey by Gartner. Canada’s average IT budget jumped from 1.3 per cent in 2018 to two per cent in 2019, which was higher growth than the year prior. The global average IT budget experienced about a three per cent increase. The survey says Canada is increasing its spending in business intelligence and data analytics, cybersecurity, and cloud services. However, Canadian businesses are planning to spend much more on AI. In 2018, only two per cent of Canadian businesses planned to increase investment in AI. In 2019, that figure is 24 per cent. The data analytics category has been the perennial top technology on the list of game-changer technologies but, this year, the AI/machine learning (ML) category has superseded it. Data analytics and cloud were tied for second among game-changer technologies in Canadian organizations.

EAB Exchange-A-Blade Joins Well Made Here Program

Power tool accessory manufacturer EAB Exchange-A-Blade has joined the ‘Well Made Here/Bien fait ici’ program, which promotes the purchase of quality building materials and other items manufactured in Canada. “We are very proud of our commitment to sustainable manufacturing and re-manufacturing while focusing on local production, supporting the local economy and creating jobs in Canada,” says Danny Wight, vice-president of sales and marketing. “We are positive that our partnership with the Well Made Here program will help us share our vision while increasing the awareness of Canadian quality products.”

RPM Acquires Joint Sealant Manufacturer

RPM International Inc.’s Tremco business has acquired Schul International Co., LLC, a manufacturer of joint sealants for commercial construction and Willseal LLC, a business that markets and sells Schul products. Schul’s product line primarily consists of pre-compressed, self-expanding foam tapes which are used for sealing vertical and horizontal joints in applications that include window seals, precast concrete, modular construction, and concrete façade restoration. They are sold under the Sealtite and Willseal brands. The brands will be integrated into RPM’s Tremco commercial sealants and waterproofing business, which specializes in the manufacture of sealants and waterproofing products for commercial, residential, industrial, and infrastructure markets.

LP To Curtail Fort St. John OSB Production

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) will indefinitely curtail production of oriented strand board (OSB) at its Peace Valley facility in Fort St. John, British Columbia, beginning early in the third quarter. "Despite efforts by our Peace Valley team to reduce costs over the past several months, this decision is necessary to support the optimization of our OSB business in challenging market conditions,” says Jason Ringblom, executive vice-president for OSB at LP. “Declining housing starts, high wood costs, and associated cost pressures require us to take this action that aligns with our performance driven strategy. This decision ensures that LP is efficiently balancing our commodity OSB production with our customer demand and improving the overall competitiveness of our OSB business. Going forward, we will leverage our strong manufacturing footprint across Canada and the U.S. to meet the needs of our valued customers.” The Peace Valley OSB mill has a stated annual capacity of 800 million square feet.

Dollarama Sales Strong

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $828 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 9.5 per cent over sales of $756.1 million in the first quarter of its 2019 year. Comparable store sales grew 5.8 per cent in the quarter, up from growth of 2.6 per cent in the year-ago period. Gross margin was 42.1 per cent of sales compared to 43.8 per cent of sales. Net earnings increased to $103.5 million in the first quarter, compared to $101.5 million last year.

June 13, 2019

Vancouver Home Sales Down

A total of 2,638 residential sales were completed in Metro Vancouver, BC, in May, a 6.9 per cent decrease over sales in May of 2018, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). While lower than last year, the number of homes sold was up 44.2 per cent over April. There were 5,861 detached, attached, and apartment properties listed for sale in Metro Vancouver in May, an 8.1 per cent decrease compared to May 2018 and 2.1 per cent increase compared to April. Sales of apartment homes increased 12.9 per cent year-over-year, while sales of detached homes decreased 1.4 per cent and attached homes increased 0.6 per cent.

Job Vacancies Rate Sets New Record

Canada's private sector job vacancy rate advanced again in the first quarter of the year, reaching 3.3 per cent, up 0.1 per cent from the previous quarter, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) ‘Help Wanted’ report. In total, 435,000 jobs sat vacant for at least four months during the first quarter of 2019. “Employers in Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario are having a harder time finding workers, especially in the smallest businesses,” says Ted Mallett, vice-president and chief economist at CFIB. Construction sector vacancies are substantially higher than average, reaching 4.9 per cent in the quarter and equaling pre-financial crisis levels of 2007. Retail reached 2.8 per cent, fairly flat from 2.7 per cent in the previous quarter. Vacancy rates in wholesale and manufacturing also remained mostly flat at three per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.

Voice Commerce Gains Adoption

Almost half of all consumers who regularly use voice assistants like Siri and Alexa have shopped via the medium, says data from digital commerce consulting firm SUMO Heavy. Voice commerce remains a nascent retail channel, but the data suggests voice-assisted shopping will quickly increase as voice assistants gain wider adoption among consumers. While voice assistant adoption is still in its early stages, consumers are becoming more accustomed to the technology as it becomes commonplace in connected devices such as smart speakers, wearables, and in-car entertainment systems. However, 49 per cent of consumers still prefer to interact with voice assistants via their smartphones which offer the lowest barrier to entry. Thirty-five per cent of consumers own a smart speaker and the vast majority of them use voice assistants at least once a week. Yet, most consumers have yet to try voice shopping. Just under one in five consumers have shopped using a voice assistant, but 42 per cent of frequent voice assistant users have shopped via the medium.

Western Forest Products Curtails Production

Western Forest Products Inc. will temporarily curtail production at three of its British Columbia sawmills to align production volumes to match current customer demand. The company will curtail its Duke Point sawmill for two weeks and its Saltair sawmill for one week in June. It will also reduce operating levels from 120 hours per week to 80 hours per week at its Chemainus sawmill. The curtailments have been scheduled due to challenging market conditions and will reduce production by approximately 15 million board feet. Western has an annual lumber capacity in excess of 1.1 billion board feet.

AEP Signs Supply Agreement For Five Facilities

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) has completed a guaranteed lumber supply agreement for five of its operating facilities. The agreement is expected to result in cost savings of up to 14.7 per cent per facility depending on plant location and potentially result in between $750,000 and $1 million in additional cash flow for the company due to the favourable consignment terms. “This agreement, with an experienced private company with operations across Canada and the western U.S., is part of AEP's strategic plan to capitalize on the efficiencies of consolidating the engineered wood products industry,” says Dirk Maritz, CEO of AEP. “All of our current facilities in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario will benefit from this supply certainty and cost savings.” He says that in addition to the immediate bottom line benefits, the guaranteed lead times, re-order, and delivery elements of the agreement will make a significant impact on client satisfaction and project schedules.

HD Supply Has Strong Sales

Industrial distributor HD Supply Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1.5 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019, an increase of 7.5 per cent compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Organic sales growth for the quarter was 5.8 per cent. Gross profit increased six per cent to $585 million for the first quarter, up from $552 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit was 39.2 per cent of net sales, down approximately 50 basis points from 39.7 per cent last year. Net income increased 20.2 per cent to $107 million and adjusted EBITDA increased 6.8 per cent to $203 compared to the first quarter of 2018. Net sales for the facilities maintenance segment increased 6.8 per cent year-over-year and net sales for the construction and industrial segment increased 8.3 per cent.

June 12, 2019

Housing Starts Trend Decreases

The trend in housing starts was 201,983 units in May, compared to 205,717 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 decrease is a result of continuing decline in the trend for single starts as well as a decline in the trend of multi-unit starts that follows gains in this segment in recent months in urban areas. The Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) had a strong increase in housing starts, while Calgary, AB, starts trended lower in May. Edmonton, AB, housing starts also trended lower as did starts in Toronto, ON. Ottawa, ON, and Montreal, QC, housing starts trended higher in May, while starts in Halifax, NS, continue to trend upwards with a strong increase of 48 per cent in May. PEI starts were 60 per cent higher in May. For Canada overall, housing starts were down 13 per cent compared to April.

Cybersecurity Overlapping Retail Loss Prevention Efforts

Theft, fraud, and losses from other retail ‘shrink’ in the U.S. totaled $50.6 billion in 2018, up from $46.8 billion the year before as industry security executives say there is a growing overlap between loss prevention and cybersecurity efforts, says the annual ‘National Retail Security Survey’ by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the University of Florida. Shrink averaged 1.38 per cent of sales during 2018, up slightly from 1.33 per cent in 2017, but has held steady around 1.4 per cent over the past few years. With the percentage largely unchanged, the increase in the dollar amount is due primarily to growth in retail sales. The largest losses per incident came from robberies, followed by employee theft and shoplifting/organized retail crime. While 43 per cent of retailers say the largest increase in fraud is occurring in stores, 30 per cent say it is happening online and 22 per cent say it is coming in multichannel sales, such as those where the purchase is made online, but the merchandise is picked up in store. Of challenges that have grown in priority for loss prevention teams over the past five years, cyber-related incidents are the top issue, followed by eCommerce crimes and return fraud.

Canada Appeals WTO Ruling

Canada has appealed against a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel ruling in a case it lost in April that would allow the U.S. to use ‘zeroing’ to calculate anti-dumping tariffs on lumber, says Reuters. The WTO ruling approved a long-outlawed U.S. trade policy when a panel said Washington’s use of ‘zeroing’ to calculate anti-dumping tariffs was permissible in the lumber case brought in 2017. Zeroing calculates tariffs based on whether the domestic price of a product exceeds its U.S. import price after it is adjusted for transportation and handling costs. In the past, the WTO condemned the process. The dispute over softwood lumber tariffs has been going on for more than 30 years.

Canfor Significantly Curtailing B.C. Production Capacity

Canfor Corporation will be curtailing operations at all British Columbia sawmills, except WynnWood. The majority of mills will be curtailed for two weeks or the equivalent, with extended curtailments of four weeks at Houston and Plateau and six weeks at Mackenzie. The curtailments are scheduled to run from June 17 through July 26. The curtailments are due to very poor lumber markets and the high cost of fibre, which are making the operating conditions in British Columbia uneconomic. The curtailments will reduce Canfor’s production output by approximately 200 million board feet. Following the previously announced closure of Vavenby in July, Canfor will have 12 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.55 billion board feet.

Royal Completes DaVinci Acquisition

Royal Building Products (USA), Inc. has completed its acquisition of DaVinci Roofscapes, a supplier of composite roofing and siding. DaVinci’s products will continue to be sold under the DaVinci brand. These products complement the existing Royal products including Celect, Zuri, and Cedar Renditions.

EAB Adds Territory Managers

Heather Rodman is territory manager for Sudbury, ON, and northern Ontario with EAB EXCHANGE-A-BLADE. She has over 20 years of experience in outside sales in the consumer goods retail industry. Gerry Deagnon is territory manager for southern Alberta and the Kootenays, BC. He brings 22 years of experience in power tools and power tool accessory sales.

June 11, 2019

Strong Increase In April Building Permits

Canadian municipalities issued a record $9.3 billion worth of building permits in April, says Statistics Canada. The increase in the value of permits was almost entirely due to a planned change in development costs in Metro Vancouver, BC. Nationally, the value of permits was up $1.2 billion in April, the largest increase since May 2007. Although six provinces reported higher values, British Columbia accounted for most of the gain. This was due to permits being issued ahead of the development cost increase in Metro Vancouver in May, the first change in costs in that region since 1997. Meanwhile, Quebec reported the largest decline, down $147 million from March. In the residential sector, the value of permits rose 24.5 per cent to $5.9 billion in April. Municipalities in British Columbia issued $2.2 billion worth of residential permits, almost doubling the previous record set in June 2018. The value of single-family dwelling permits was up 5.1 per cent to $2.2 billion, led by Ontario. Nationally, the value of non-residential building permits rose 1.1 per cent from March to $3.4 billion in April, as higher construction intentions for industrial buildings were reported in nine provinces.

RONA Tinsco Opens Store For 30th Anniversary

Just in time for its 30th anniversary, RONA Tinsco, located in Rawdon, QC, has opened its doors at a new location with an upgraded store that doubles the size of the original. As well, the Lowe’s Canada affiliate store now offers appliances and a wider selection of seasonal products, building materials, and interior finishing products. “We took the opportunity to enhance our offering in existing categories, as well as offer brand new assortments, such as appliances. With our 40,000-square-foot lumber yard, our pro desk, and our cut shop, we also want to become a top destination for construction professionals,” says Bobby Tinkler, dealer-owner. The store has a surface area of 32,000 square feet which includes a 16,000-square-foot sales floor, a 3,000-square-foot garden centre, and a 7,000-square-foot indoor lumber yard. Over 20,000 products are available in-store.

Fastenal Hits 100,000+ Industrial Vending Milestone

Fastenal’s industrial vending program has hit a major milestone – more than 100,000 active devices at customer sites worldwide. The program started to gain traction from 2011 to 2012, when the number of devices increased from 9,000 to nearly 27,000. By the end of 2015, the company had 55,000 devices, which increased to 96,000 by the end of 2018. The technology lineup has expanded from a single model (the ‘FAST 5000’) to 23 specialized devices. The founder, Bob Kierlin, wanted to dispense fasteners from vending machines when he first started the company in 1967, but the machine design couldn’t support the volumes required by customers at that time. Fastenal says the vending devices provide customers with improved productivity, increased visibility into product usage and spend, and reduction in consumption, often in the range of 20 to 30 per cent. With roughly $4 billion in vended sales since 2008, that’s an estimated $1 to $1.7 billion in consumption savings for Fastenal’s vending customers.

SONOpan Panels Reduce Noise Pollution

MSL’s SONOpan soundproofing panels are made with NoiseStop Technology to prevent unwanted noise from traveling through walls and ceilings. The panels are lightweight and simple to install behind drywall. They absorb a wide range of frequencies and reduce the transmission of sound and vibrations. Each panel is 4- by 8-feet and ¾-inch thick. They are constructed from 100 per cent recycled wood fibre and contain no formaldehydes or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Committed to recycling and environmental protection, MSL’s mill in Louiseville, QC, operates with a completely closed loop (zero effluent) water system resulting in an efficient and ecologically responsible process. The recycled wood fibre comes from 60 per cent post-consumer and 40 per cent post-industrial (recovered from manufacturers of wood flooring, furniture, etc.)

Parrish Leads Knauf

Matthew Parrish is president and chief executive officer of Knauf Insulation, Inc., also known as Knauf Insulation North America (KINA). He joined the company in 2017 as vice-president of residential and light commercial sales. He has over 29 years of experience in the building materials industry.

June 10, 2019

GTA Transactions Increase Substantially

Greater Toronto area realtors reported 9,989 transactions through TREB’s MLS system in May. While this result represented a substantial increase of 18.9 per cent over the 15-year low in May 2018, it should be noted that the result was still below the average for month of May sales for the previous 10 years, which stands at almost 10,300. “After a sluggish start to 2019, the second quarter appears to be reflecting a positive shift in consumer sentiment toward ownership housing. Households continue to see ownership housing in the GTA as a quality long-term investment as population growth from immigration remains strong and the regional economy continues to create jobs across diversity of sectors. However, sales activity continues to be below the longer-term norm as potential home buyers come to terms with the OSFI mortgage stress test and the fact that listings continue to be constrained relative to sales,” says Garry Bhaura, the Toronto Real Estate Board’s president. The number of new listings entered into TREB’s MLS system in May was up only slightly compared to May 2018, increasing by 0.8 per cent to 19,386. Year-over-year growth in new listings was far outstripped by year-over-year growth in sales. This means that market conditions continued to tighten in favour of sellers.

Dodge Momentum Index Falls In May

The Dodge Momentum Index fell one per cent in May to 141 from the revised April reading of 142.4. 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 May decline was due entirely to a 6.9 per cent drop by its commercial component as its institutional component rose 8.1 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, the index in May was 9.2 per cent lower than a year ago, with a 16 per cent drop by its commercial component outweighing a 1.8 per cent gain by its institutional component. Although the trend for the overall index is downward, so far the pullback has been measured, suggesting that there remains enough non-residential building projects in the pipeline to support near term stability for construction activity. This is particularly true for the institutional side of non-residential building.

Loyal Consumers Will Pay More

Over half of consumers will pay more to buy from a retailer they're loyal to, indicating a significant opportunity for brands to drive long-term revenue from their loyal customer base, says a study by Yes Marketing. ‘The Retail Shopper's Journey to Loyalty’ report says that 41 per cent of consumers rank product quality/value of products as the top reason they're loyal to a retailer while 35 per cent rank price highest. The findings indicate that elements like free shipping perform well in driving purchases with new customers but are less influential for long-term loyalty. In fact, only three per cent of shoppers ranked free or expedited shipping as the top driver of loyalty. On the other hand, 40 per cent of consumers ranked it as the top convenience factor they consider before making a purchase with a new retailer. Marketers can leverage these findings to prioritize the benefits they communicate to customers at different points in their journey. In terms of rewards, 39 per cent of consumers say cash incentives make them feel most rewarded for their loyalty, followed by early access to products (23 per cent), and exclusive promotions (18 per cent). Overall, 73 per cent of consumers say they feel adequately rewarded for their loyalty.

Trex To Invest In Facilities

Railing and staging systems provider Trex Company, Inc. has implemented a capital expenditure program to increase production capacity at its Winchester, VA, and Fernley, NV, facilities. The multi-year program is projected at approximately $200 million between 2019 and 2021 and involves the construction of a decking facility at the existing Virginia site and the installation of additional production lines at the Nevada site. The additional production lines in Nevada will come online beginning in the third quarter of 2019. Additional lines will also be installed by the end of the second quarter of 2020. The Virginia capacity will begin to come online in the first quarter of 2021. The investment will allow Trex to increase production output for future projected growth related to its strategy of converting wood demand to Trex composite decking.

Watson Gloves Supports Wounded Warriors Canada

Watson Gloves is donating partial proceeds from the sale of its Shock Trooper and Commander gloves to Wounded Warrior Canada. Wounded Warriors Canada is a national mental health charity for ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, first responders, and their families. The organization provides a wide range of programs and services for individual members and families affected by operational stress injuries.

Smyth Takes On Ontario

Perry Smyth is retail territory sales manager-Ontario with Derby Building Products Inc., manufacturer of the Novik brand of exterior cladding. He brings more than 15 years of experience in the retail sales channel to the role, having worked at companies including Nestle and Coca-Cola.

June 7, 2019

Montreal Residential Sales Continue Growth

A total of 5,607 residential sales were completed in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in May, a six per cent increase compared to May 2018, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This was the 51st consecutive monthly increase in sales. The North Shore, Laval, the South Shore, and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu areas all showed strong momentum while sales on the Island of Montreal fell slightly and sales in Vaudreuil-Soulanges decreased by 12 per cent. Sales of single-family homes increased five per cent year-over-year, condominiums increased seven per cent, and plexes increased 13 per cent. In May, there were 19,915 active residential listings in the Montreal CMA, an 18 per cent decrease compared to May of last year.

Prince George Castle Gets Orion Award

Castle Renovation Centre in Prince George, BC, was awarded the ‘2018 Retail Orion Award’ for the finishing and specialty products category in northern British Columbia. The ‘Retail Orion Awards,’ offered by the Building Supply Industry Association of BC (BSIA), recognize quality and excellence in different categories and are determined through the organization’s mystery shopper program. Brad Dixon, business development manager at Castle Building Centres Group Limited, presented the award to Everett Smeds, owner of Castle Renovation Centre.

Ebates.ca Partners With Walmart.ca

Ebates.ca has partnered with Walmart.ca to offers members cash back on their online purchases. Walmart, which celebrates 25 years in Canada this year, has more than 750,000 customers visit its website daily. Ebates.ca members will have access to Walmart.ca's latest online Rollbacks, coupons, promo codes, and free shipping on orders over $50, in addition to earning cash back.

Millennials Interest In Recreational Properties Growing

The majority of Millennials (56 per cent) are in the market to purchase a recreational property, says a RE/MAX survey. This is up 14 per cent from 2018, when just 42 per cent of Millennials were considering buying a recreational property. Baby Boomers, especially retirees, were driving the recreational market last year. The increase in buying intentions among younger buyers marks the beginning of a new trend in who will propel this segment of the property market and what they are looking to purchase. Price remains the top consideration for recreational property buyers, with 61 per cent of survey respondents naming affordability as the most important factor. However, livability also plays a crucial role in the selection process. Sixty-four per cent of Canadians enjoy recreational properties as places where they can relax and spend time with friends and family, while 58 per cent perceive them as getaway homes. Forty-three per cent say that they can partake in activities that they normally wouldn't be able to at their permanent residence, such as hiking and fishing. Thirty per cent of Canadians say they use or would use a recreational property as an investment opportunity.

Strong Growth Predicted For Modular Construction

The global modular construction market is expected to reach around US$175.15 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 per cent between 2019 and 2025, says a report by Zion Market Research. The market is likely to experience rapid growth in the future, owing to rapid urbanization in developing countries like China, India, etc. In developed countries, modular construction is mainly done for renovating existing buildings with new ones. In North America, modular construction accounts for nearly three per cent of construction. The various benefits of the modular buildings as compared to traditional buildings are expected to positively impact market growth. Modular buildings generate less heat and temperature, which contribute less to global warming. Additionally, modular constructions are less time-consuming. Government initiatives and regulations toward sustainability and green environment will also boost this market’s growth in the upcoming years. However, the shortage of skilled labour may put a hindrance on market development in the years ahead.

Derby Adds Atlantica Colour To Shake Line

Derby Building Products has added the colour Atlantica to its Beach House Shake product line. Atlantica is a soft, silvered coastal gray tone reminiscent of cottages found in a quaint New England village. This is the fourth colour in the Beach House Shake line. Other colours include Sandcastle, the look of natural white cedar; Hatteras, a deep, rich weathered gray; and Pacifica, which looks like fresh western red cedar. Beach House Shake products feature subtle shading variations, grain textures, and saw-cuts for a look of natural cedar. However, unlike cedar shingles, Beach House Shake products are resistant to rotting, decaying, cracking, or splitting and are impervious to moisture and insects.

KNIPEX Makes Changes

Patrick Mooney is national sales manager for Canada with KNIPEX. He has had sales management roles at Ingersoll-Rand and Stanley Black & Decker. Brian Nolan is territory manager. He has more than 20 years of sales experience. Craig Kosik is account manager. He also has more than 20 years of experience in many aspects of the retail and sales industry.

WRLA Changes Show Location

The Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA) annual show will take place in Winnipeg, MB, for 2021, 2022, and 2023, while next year’s show will be held January 22 to 24 at the BMO Centre in Calgary, AB. The show has taken place in Calgary for the past four years and the WRLA wants to expand its networking capabilities by engaging with all members from western Canada. “Strategically we want to have the show circulate in our western Canadian provinces to ensure all our member communities are reflected in the host cities for the show,” says Tom Bell, board chair. The WRLA is currently working with Economic Development Winnipeg to finalize tools and resources.

June 6, 2019

Canadians Cutting Back On Renovations

While nearly half of Canadians plan to renovate their home this year, spending on renovations continued to decline in 2019, falling to about $10,000 per renovation, the lowest in six years, says the annual ‘CIBC Home Renovations Poll.’ The average homeowner plans to spend $10,211 in 2019, down from $10,959 in 2018. As well, only 32 per cent have a detailed budget, down from 37 per cent last year. Among those who completed recent renovations, 39 per cent went over budget. Fifty-eight per cent of homeowners plan to fund their renovations with cash and savings, while 34 per cent plan to borrow the funds. Most (89 per cent) consider home renovations to be an investment. The poll says that Millennials are budgeting the most, but also overspending the most, with 50 per cent saying they exceeded the budget on their last renovation. On average, both Millennials and Gen X planning to renovate will spend more on home renovations and improvements ($11,000) than Baby Boomers will ($8,582), with basic home maintenance and landscaping at the top of their to-do list.

Campaign Seeks To Recognize Energy Efficiency Workers

Carleton University-based Efficiency Canada has launched a campaign to put energy efficiency on the map in Canada. Called ‘Our Human Energy,’ the campaign positions energy efficiency as a fast-growing, emerging sector – not only a government or utility program – by showcasing the stories of the many Canadians who are making a living doing energy efficiency work. Efficiency Canada says there are 436,000 Canadians working in the sector in jobs such as insulation installers, HVAC technicians, and construction workers. The majority of energy efficiency jobs in Canada are in construction (66 per cent), although professional and business services, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and other services also made substantial contributions to employment in the field. Retail trade was not included in the study. Across six key industries, 51,000 Canadian businesses generated an estimated $82.6 billion in energy efficiency operating revenues. ‘Our Human Energy’ seeks to increase awareness of the people working in the energy efficiency sector and to establish and grow an engaged community of workers, professionals, and industry allies.

AEP Upgrades Merrickville Facility

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) has installed a fully automated roller gantry, customized cutter saw, and expanded pressing system at its Satellite building components facility in Merrickville, ON. Established in 1974, Satellite was acquired by AEP in 2018. It specializes in designing and supplying roof trusses and engineered floor joists throughout eastern Ontario. The upgrades to the facility will allow AEP to meet extra supply demands and offer more product lines. The 14- by 60-foot roller gantry increases assembly by as much as 60 per cent, while the linear feed custom cutter saw more than doubles cutting capacity. The 8- by 30-foot Auto 8 Pressing System allowed for the introduction of 4- by 2-foot floor trusses to its product mix.

Canfor To Permanently Close Vavenby Sawmill

Canfor Corporation will close its Vavenby, BC, sawmill this July following an orderly wind down. The company reached an agreement to sell the forest tenure associated with the Vavenby sawmill to Interfor, which is expected to close in the third quarter. The decision to close the mill was based on long-term log supply constraints in the region along with the high cost of fibre, compounded by ongoing depressed lumber markets. The sawmill has an annual production capacity of approximately 250 million board feet. Following the closure, Canfor will have 12 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.55 billion board feet.

Sensormatic Solutions Now Available Commercially

Johnson Controls’ Sensormatic Solutions TrueVUE SaaS suite built on the Google Cloud Platform is now available commercially. This platform provides retailers with a real-time view into accurate inventory availability for unified commerce fulfillment. It can deliver actionable insights and predictive analytics to drive operational excellence and help create unique shopper experiences. Johnson Controls says cloud-based technologies are rapidly shifting the retail industry, with cloud deployment ranking as the key driver for eCommerce opportunities. The suite provides a secure global infrastructure capable of supporting massive sale and high performance standards.

Strong Growth Forecast For Wood-based Panels

The global wood-based panel market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5 per cent between 2019 and 2025, says Zion Market Research. The global market was approximately US$105.22 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around US$174.56 billion by 2025. Wood-based panel products are sheet materials that consist of a significant amount of wood in the form of chips, strips, strands, veneers, and fibres. The rapidly growing population base is the major factor driving the growth of construction and building sectors, which, in turn, is supporting the global wood-based panel market. Increasing efficiency in manufacturing, repair, and renovation activities coupled with technological advancements is also expected to fuel the global wood-based panel market growth in the future. Based on type, the wood-based panel market includes medium-density fibreboard (MDF), particleboard, oriented strand board (OSB), and plywood. MDF held a substantial market share in 2018 due to the increasing demand for products in manufacturing cabinetry, furniture, and flooring.

ODL Names Marketing Manager

Amy Post is national marketing manager for the pro channel with ODL, Inc. Previously, she was vice-president of marketing at ManoByte, Inc.

June 5, 2019

U.S. Home Improvement Spend To Moderate

Annual gains in homeowner spending on improvements are expected to moderate across more than half of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. in 2019, says research by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. While no major metros are projected to see spending levels decline in 2019, the pace of spending by homeowners will likely slow in 29 of the 49 major metros tracked relative to their estimated 2018 gains. Indeed, annual growth in improvement expenditures is projected to fall to the lowest rate in three years in 22 of these metros. Metros with cooling home prices and sales activity are not able to sustain the same pace of investment in home improvements as in recent years.

Lowe’s Canada Stocks More CRAFTSMAN

Lowe’s Canada has added 300 products to its selection of CRAFTSMAN tools and accessories, just in time for Father's Day. The assortment of products available in stores and online at Lowe's, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada includes a larger selection in key categories that CRAFTSMAN is known for, such as mechanic's tools, pliers and wrenches, levels and squares, hand saws, hammers and prybars, screwdrivers, electronic measuring tools and laser levels, work supports, mitre saws, and outdoor power equipment. It also includes new categories, such as garage organization, air compressors, and cordless pneumatic nailers.

West Fraser Announces Further Curtailments

West Fraser will curtail production for one week in June at five British Columbia sawmills: Chetwynd, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Smithers, and Fraser Lake. All mill activities will be curtailed. The decision to implement this temporary reduction is due to sustained weak pricing in global lumber markets and high log costs. Lumber production is anticipated to be reduced by approximately 30 million board feet. Over the previous six months including this most recent announcement, West Fraser has implemented temporary and permanent capacity curtailments of approximately 125 million and 300 million board feet respectively.

Broadview Holding Completes Formica Acquisition

Netherlands-based industrial holding company Broadview Holding has completed its acquisition of Formica Group from Fletcher Building. The sale includes Formica businesses in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as its Homapal metal laminates business. Formica Group invented laminate in 1913 and remains a provider of branded, designed surfacing solutions for commercial and residential applications. Broadview Holding also owns Trespa (exterior HPL cladding), Arpa (surfaces), and Westag (doors and surfaces). With the acquisition of Formica Group, Broadview strengthens its position as global provider of surface materials.

LP Aquires PSPI

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation has acquired Prefinished Staining Product Incorporated, a prefinished siding company located in Green Bay, WI. PSPI has offered prefinished LP SmartSide Trim and Siding for a number of years and operates a 40,000-square-foot facility. The acquisition will allow LP to grow its siding business and increase market penetration in the segments it serves. Acquiring PSPI provides it with the facilities, capability, and expertise to enter this market and drive growth. PSPI will operate as part of LP’s siding business.

CEMEX Completes Global Deployment

CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. has completed the global deployment of its Go platform, a digital service tool for customers in the building materials industry. As part of its omnichannel strategy, the tool is now being utilized by 96 per cent of the company’s total recurring customers, with 45 per cent of total global sales processed through it. Go is a digital solution that automates order-to-cash workflows, enabling customers to purchase products, track deliveries, and manage orders seamlessly in real time.

Irick Has New Role

Jaime Irick is vice-president, architectural coatings for the U.S. and Canada with PPG. Previously, he has worked at Brunswick Corp. and General Electric Co.

June 4, 2019

Product Ratings Important But Underused

Globally, 54 per cent of companies consider product ratings to be very important to their business, yet only 15 per cent have a comprehensive and effective ratings strategy, says a study by marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners. The study, titled ‘Trend Radar 2019 – The Rating Economy,’ says product ratings are highly important to consumers when making decisions in the purchasing process. “Companies are ... starting to realize the importance of product ratings, but are still at an early stage in terms of implementing relevant measures. A lot of companies don’t really know where to begin,” says Dr. Georg Tacke, CEO of Simon-Kucher & Partners. Larger companies tend to be the frontrunners when it comes to ratings strategies, particularly companies that have the highest share of online sales. However, 81 per cent of all companies surveyed say ratings are important for brand building, while 74 per cent say it is important for lead generation. Eighty-two per cent of companies say good ratings increase sales volume while 68 per cent say they make higher prices possible.

Castle Wild4Wheels Contest Is Open

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd.’s ‘Wild4Wheels’ contest is open and runs until August 1. This in-store contest offers Castle customers a chance to win one of three recreational vehicles – a three-wheel motorcycle, a recreational ATV, or a dirt bike. Customers can fill out ballots in Castle stores across Canada and online and the winners will be selected by random draw on August 15.

Lowe's Canada Banners Raise Funds For Children

Lowe's Canada presented $1,125,000 to Children's Miracle Network and Opération Enfant Soleil following a successful second fundraising campaign. From March 24 to April 30, Lowe's, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada corporate stores and participating affiliated dealer stores collected donations from their customers to support 14 children's hospitals across the country. On June 1 and 2, it participated in the Opération Enfant Soleil telethon in Quebec and the BC Children's Hospital Foundation Miracle Weekend telethon in British Columbia to present these organizations with cheques in the amount of $550,000 and $83,000, respectively. Over a period of five weeks, employees from participating stores organized various fundraising events such as special days with guest mascots and benefit barbecues to raise money for sick children. In addition to mobilizing its network of stores, it was again the official provider of building materials for the Maison Enfant Soleil by Bonneville. Part of the amount contributed comes from the corporate donation it makes as part of this commitment, as well as from the sale of tickets for the draw to win the Maison Enfant Soleil by Bonneville at participating RONA and Reno-Depot stores in Quebec.

DEWALT Launches 2019 Tour And Sweepstakes

DEWALT’s ‘2019 TOUGH IN THE NORTH’ tour and sweepstakes is open with offers on tools and chances for prizes for end users across Canada. In the sweepstakes, three Canadians will win a grand prize of a two-year lease on their choice of a 2019 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew 4x4 or a 2019 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4. The approximate value of the grand prize truck lease prize is $25,000. Winners that choose not to accept the truck lease grand prize can opt to receive a DEWALT Tool Prize Pack instead, valued at $10,000 retail. The event runs through October 31. For more information, including locations of the tour, visit ‘DEWALT Tour

Canfor Completes First Phase Purchase

Canfor Corporation has completed the first phase purchase of 49 per cent of South Carolina-based Elliott Sawmilling Co. Inc. Elliott has a production capacity in excess of 210 million board feet and the sawmill consists of both large and small log lines. The balance will be acquired in one year.

LG Opens High-tech Manufacturing Facility

LG Electronics has opened a million-square-foot home appliance manufacturing facility in Clarksville, TN, where the company is now producing washing machines for the U.S. market. The high-tech factory is equipped with state-of-the-art automation, robotics, and engineered systems integration, allowing LG to change between models in a matter of minutes. An in-house warehouse stages the completed units that are ready for shipment to LG distribution centres and dealers' warehouses, shortening the supply chain. "

Petersson Heads Hempel

Lars Petersson will be CEO of coatings supplier Hempel, effective July 1. He joined the company in 2015 as group chief operating officer. Prior to that, he was with European window manufacturer Inwido and flooring company Tarkett.

Williams-Sonoma Revenue Increases

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. had net revenue of $1.241 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 3.2 per cent over net revenue in the first quarter of 2018. Comparable brand revenue increased 3.2 per cent year-over-year. GAAP operating margin was six per cent. The company had gross profit of $444 million, or 35.8 per cent of revenues, for the quarter, compared to gross profit of $432 million and 35.9 per cent of revenues in the year-ago period. Net earnings were $52.7 million compared to $45.2 million.

June 3, 2019

Canada To Help Small Businesses With Energy Savings

The government of Canada has reduced the small business tax rate to nine per cent and is making other investments to help small- and medium-sized businesses reduce pollution, save energy, and boost their productivity. The programs, subject to the passage of the Budget Implementation Act and subsequent specifications by the minister of finance, include refunds on the cost of new energy-saving equipment such as heating and cooling equipment and high energy boilers, and funding towards eligible costs for energy-efficient retrofits and other projects to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy use, and save money. The government is also establishing an external advisory committee, which will provide advice to help refine and improve the ongoing delivery of Climate Action Incentive Fund programs for small- and medium-sized businesses. In addition, the government will open up a call for proposals for smaller projects from small businesses across the country under the Low Carbon Economy Fund Partnerships stream. Approximately $10 million will be available to help those businesses make investments to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution, and save money.

La Coop Alliance Opens Saint-Georges BMR Store

La Coop Alliance has opened a BMR store in Saint-Georges, QC. The hardware store is a merger of two BMR stores in the city and has an updated façade equipped with a large window. The store has been redesigned to reflect the growing popularity of eCommerce, with a designated space for in-store pickups. La Coop Alliance is based in Quebec and has 753 members,175 employees, and a retail presence with five BMR stores and one Super-Soir convenience store. It is also involved in animal food, crop production, propane, and petroleum products.

Castle Completes ‘Western Buying Expo’

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. held its ‘Western Buying Expo’ in Vancouver, BC. The event was held at the Pacific Gateway Hotel and hosted over 30 member locations and 30 vendor partners and generated record sales. The event offers a one-on-one format that gives attendees the opportunity to connect with key vendor partners and take advantage of expo special buys. The next expo is the ‘Central Buying Expo,’ to be held June 5 to 7 at the JW Marriott – The Rosseau Muskoka in Minett, ON. The ‘Atlantic Buying Expo’ takes place August 7 to 9 at the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax, NS.

Fleets Not Leveraging Data

“Many fleet executives today are still lacking access to a complete picture of data and analysis from sophisticated business intelligence tools that help everyone across the organization make critical decisions to operate more efficiently and lower bottom line costs,” says Jim Griffin, chief operations officer and chief technology officer for Fleet Advantage. In fact, research by the fleet analytics and financing company says there are still fleets today that aren’t leveraging data to see their total cost of ownership (TCO), many can’t use the data because it lives in disparate sources, and others have no way of sharing reports across the organization. While big data has been increasingly utilized across virtually every industry, approximately 33 per cent of fleet operations say they still do not have a software platform that allows them to manage their fleet’s TCO all in one place. A quarter of fleet executives (26 per cent) say their current software analysis platform does not combine financial and operations data together; another 48 per cent say their current platform does not provide benchmarking reports for the industry or other similar fleets; and approximately 62 per cent say their platform does not produce a profit and loss statement for each truck in their fleet.

ICFs Reduces Envelope Building Time

NUDURA Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) provide energy-efficiency, prevent heat loss, eliminate thermal bridging, and provide safety and comfort for building envelopes. The ICFs consist of two panels of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and are connected with the company’s patented web system that is made of 100 per cent recycled material. NUDURA forms are stacked, then steel reinforced and filled with concrete, which completes the building envelope of the home in one building step. The structures can withstand extreme weather conditions – they can endure winds of up to 402 kph (250 mph), and the non-toxic fire retardant expanded polystyrene foam provides a fire protection rating of up to four hours. Inside the home, the ICFs eliminate air gaps, minimizing the potential formation of mould growth and draft paths. The patented foam interlock allows the form to be four-way reversible, almost eliminating waste. It is also 100 per cent recyclable.

Industry Members Honoured At CPCA Conference

Fred Veghelyi, OPC Polymers; Mannie Cheung, Product Care Association; Claude Brosseau, PPG Canada; Kamlaish Mudhar, Univar; Mike Lynch, Cloverdale Paint; Steve Wolinsky, Rustoleum Canada; Luc Pepin, PPG Canada; and Lysane Lavoie, Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) were all honoured with the ‘CPCA Industry Award’ at its annual conference on May 23. The award recognizes people who have made significant contributions to the Canadian paint and coatings industry. Three member companies were also recognized for important anniversaries with Product Care celebrating its 25th and Chromaflo Technologies and Schwartz Chemical celebrating 50 years in business. As well, Tim Vogel, CEO of Cloverdale Paint and chair of CPCA, was recognized for his service as chair of the CPCA board over the last four years.

Strong Sales For Costco

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $33.96 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 7.4 per cent compared to net sales of $31.62 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales at Canadian stores increased 1.3 per cent year-over-year (5.1 per cent adjusted comparable sales). eCommerce sales for the quarter were up 22 per cent over the same period a year ago. The company had net income of $906 million compared to net income of $750 million last year. Costco has 100 stores in Canada.

May 31, 2019

Retail Sales Growth Struggles Forward

Retail sales growth for March was slow, but also had modest improvement over even lower growth of prior months, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total retail sales were up 1.7 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019 on a not seasonally adjusted basis. “While this was the weakest first quarter in four years, it still edged ahead of the fourth quarter of 2018 when growth was a mere 1.3 per cent. But even if things are looking up, there’s still a long way to go,” he says. The three-month trend has taken a modest upswing; however it's still running below the 12-month trend, which is due to weaken further but at a decelerating rate. “At this point, it's difficult to tell how the year 2019 will end up.” Overall, eCommerce represented about 3.3 per cent of total Canadian retail sales in the first quarter. eCommerce sales were up 19.3 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter, significantly higher than for location-based retail which gained 1.7 per cent.

RBC Ventures Acquires Smart Reno

RBC Ventures Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada, has acquired Smart Reno, a home renovation marketplace. Currently available in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, Smart Reno connects consumers to qualified renovation professionals. “Our portfolio of ventures already helps Canadians rent, buy, move into, and maintain a home, and now we're helping Canadians improve their home,” says Simon Maycock, vice-president and head of home solutions, RBC Ventures. “We see an incredible opportunity to transform the home improvement industry and help bring peace of mind and differentiated value to both consumers and renovation professionals with Smart Reno.” In addition to the online home renovation marketplace that connects consumers and renovation professionals, Smart Reno has also developed lead management software that is used by home improvement retailers to manage installation services. As part of RBC Ventures, Smart Reno will scale its operations across Canada, expand the capabilities of its home renovation marketplace, and further improve the user experience for consumers and renovation professionals.

Gerber Opens B.C. Distribution Centre

Gerber Plumbing Fixtures LLC opened its western distribution centre in the lower mainland of British Columbia. The facility, which became fully operational in the first quarter of 2019, is designated to provide additional support to Gerber partners in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The addition of a distribution centre in this region is expected to ease the load on the primary warehouse located in Montreal, QC, increase overall efficiencies, and improve customer service. Gerber is an international manufacturer and distributor of kitchen and bathroom plumbing products and operates facilities in nine countries including Canada.

Schluter-Systems Launches App

Tile and stone installation system manufacturer Schluter-Systems has launched the Schluter-APP, which puts all of the company’s resources in one place for use on any iPhone or Android mobile device. It can be used for every facet of project planning, from measuring the space all the way through to pricing and connecting with an authorized dealer. Working from the app, a smartphone can be used to scan and measure a room during the planning phase of the project. The data collected can be used to configure and customize the layout and build a personalized project plan. The results can then be shared electronically with a client or co-worker. Products can be configured right down to the size, colour, format, and quantity and can also be priced immediately. Product selections will also prompt video recommendations so installers can get installation guidance. For floor warming projects, the built-in DITRA-HEAT estimator will help with product selection and then provide an estimate for the materials required. The app also provides access to the network of authorized Schluter dealers across North America.

Hunter Douglas Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Hunter Douglas, a manufacturer of custom window treatments, is celebrating 100 years in business. The company’s story began in 1919 when Henry Sonnenberg founded a machine tool manufacturing company in Europe. His small business gradually expanded and evolved to become the business it is today, manufacturing window treatments and architectural products.

Tree Canada Honours IKEA Canada

To mark over 23 years of partnership, Tree Canada honoured IKEA Canada with its ‘Ultimate Award.’ Since the partnership began in 1996, IKEA Canada co-workers have planted more than 55,000 trees, including 18,700 seedlings, and the company has contributed over $1 million toward greening local communities. This spring, IKEA Canada co-workers will join Tree Canada in 19 different communities across the country to plant trees and shrubs as part of the retailer's ongoing commitment to people and planet.

Kingfisher Launches ‘Simplified’ Home Improvement Brand

British multi-national retailer Kingfisher has launched GoodHome, an international brand intended to simplify home improvement and make it accessible to everyone, the company says. The launch marks the latest step in Kingfisher’s transformation strategy. Over the past three years, it has unified its supply chain, developed new products and services, and invested in its digital channels. GoodHome is a convenience store format to make things simpler for customers, with a focus on the 11 most common home improvement projects. It will feature a number of store concepts including an express format. The first store has opened in the UK, with express store trials to open in the UK and France later this year.

Home Hardware Realigns LBM Merchant Team

Home Hardware Stores Limited has realigned its LBM merchandise manager roles. Effective June 3, Susan Ryan is merchandise manager – millwork, a newly created role; Mark Pardue is merchandise manager – building materials; Doug Shantz is director, merchandise, LBM; Tracey Sheehan is administrative assistant, merchandise LBM; Terri Grant is pricing analyst, merchandise, LBM; Brian Grant is commodity manager Ontario, forest product; Bonnie McBeth and Harry Nederpelt are commodity traders, forest product, Ontario; Ben Parsons and Rick Chambers are commodity traders, forest product, western; Francois Lauzon is commodity trader, forest product, Quebec; Julie Walters is commodity trader, forest product, Atlantic; Kirk Ellis and Tina Rode are co-ordinators, building materials; Andrew Dickson, Terry Reid, and Kim Gerry are associates, building materials; Jim Fulmore is co-ordinator, millwork; Jennifer Byers-Mackenzie, Melanie Tindall, and Matt Robinson are associates, millwork; Ron VanRootselaar is merchandise manager, cabinetry and flooring; Lisa Meyer and Cathy Kelly are co-ordinators, cabinetry and flooring; Sandy Hamilton is merchandise manager, allied products; Tina Daquano and Andrew Coghlin are associates, allied products; Daniel Verville is merchandise manager, Quebec; Stephane Boyer is co-ordinator, Quebec; and Melina Roch is associate, Quebec.

May 30, 2019

Walmart Canada Launches Urban Supercentre

Walmart Canada unveiled its urban supercentre concept in Toronto, ON. The store features ‘fast lane’ checkout technology to fully integrate the My Walmart app so customers can scan their own products as they shop. Store associates – including full- and part-time associates – work alongside state-of-the-art technology to help make shopping as easy and convenient as possible for customers. A second supercentre concept will launch in Thornhill, ON, next year and best practices will be used in future store renovations. The store also offers an array of licensee concepts based on Walmart's evolving licensee strategy. At the Toronto location, partnerships include Freshii, the Party Shop, the UPS store, MINISO, Naoki Sushi, and McDonald's. The store also features a dedicated eCommerce section via ‘extended aisles,’ a community hub with seating, a grocery section, dedicated family rooms, and an enhanced design and layout based on innovations from previous Walmart Canada prototypes.

Tariff Lifts Will Impact Consumers

The lifting of the tariffs on aluminum and steel shipped from Canada to the U.S. may end up costing consumers, says Derick Vinthers, vice-president, sales at Bailey Metal Products, Limited. In an eMail to customers, he said mills in Canada owned by U.S. or global corporations are expected to fully leverage their geographical locations and capacities toward greater profit. “The speculation is that Canadian mills will ship a greater amount of their production capacity to the U.S. to take advantage of the spread. As a result, Canadian markets may experience supply shortages and domestic mills will increase their prices. Furthermore, offshore imports will be limited due to current and future CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) imposed tariffs and quotas. Canadian mills have already begun to announce aggressive price increases as a result of the removal of these tariffs and we expect this will continue.” Vinthers cautions customers to plan accordingly by allowing for price escalations in their long range quotations.

Retailers Honoured At RCC ‘STORE 2019’

Lowe’s Canada, IKEA Canada, Canadian Tire Corporation, Walmart Canada, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), and Kitchen Stuff Plus were among the winners of the Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘2019 Excellence in Retailing Awards.’ Presented at RCC’s STORE 2019 conference May 28, Lowe’s Canada was recognized for philanthropic leadership; IKEA Canada for environmental leadership; Canadian Tire for in-store merchandising; Walmart Canada for health, safety, and wellness; FCL for retail marketing; and Kitchen Stuff Plus for retail marketing. As well, Willy Kruh, partner, global chair consumer and retail, with KPMG, was awarded the ‘2019 Canadian Hall of Fame Award’ for 30 years of outstanding service leading the retailer and consumer brands around the world and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to advancing and promoting retail as a career.

Drummond Building Supplies Celebrates 60 Years

Drummond Building Supplies is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The BMR member, now run by the third Drummond generation, says its success is built not only on selling renovation materials and supplies, but on its strong relationship with customers. The store, based in Marmora, ON, started in 1959 by Bob Drummond and his father, James, who brought lumber they cut, sawed, and milled to the present-day property to sell to the community from their truck. The retailer expanded over the years and joined Group BMR in 2006. Today, it offers 10,000-square-feet of sales area.

Energizer To Sell European Consumer Battery Business

Energizer Holdings, Inc. will sell its Europe-based Varta consumer battery business, including manufacturing and distribution facilities in Germany. Energizer expects to close the transaction shortly after customary closing conditions are met and upon receipt of the European Commission's final regulatory approval.

Face Protection Market To Remain Strong

The global eye and face protection market was around $42,670 million in 2018 and is expected to reach approximately $58,786 million by 2025, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 4.63 per cent between 2019 and 2025, says a report by Zion Market Research. The market is likely to grow significantly in the future owing to the increasing number of industrial and environmental hazards. Thus, to reduce these potential injuries, governments and industrial departments have set guidelines to maintain a hazard-free industrial environment. In 2018, eye spectacles and goggles accounted for around 70 per cent of the global market share. The manufacturing and construction sectors held the largest shares of the global eye and face protection market in 2018. By region, the North American eye and face protection market is projected to grow substantially and hold the largest share in the future, owing to various industrial obligations and government policies, improved industrial productivity, and workers’ health.

MacCormack Named CFO

Sean MacCormack will be chief financial officer at Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective June 12. A 25-year finance veteran of Canadian retail, he has worked for companies such as Loblaw Companies Limited and Sears Canada.

Sales Slow At Acme United

Safety solutions and cutting technology provider Acme United Corporation had net sales of $31.4 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent over net sales of $31.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $807,000 compared to $764,000, an increase of six per cent. Net sales in Canada decreased five per cent in local currency compared to the same period in 2018, primarily due to a large order from a new customer in the first quarter 2018 that did not repeat in the first quarter of 2019. Overall gross margin was 37.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 versus 38.2 per cent in the comparable period last year.

May 29, 2019

Accurate Information Key To Retail Success

With all the volatility in the retail industry, retailers must make decisions with accurate information about the marketplace, says Willy Kruh, global chairman and national leader, consumer markets with KPMG. Speaking at the ‘Global Retail and Consumer Trends Shaping the Future’ session at Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘STORE 2019,’ he said in this customer-centric world, those that know the most about their customers achieve the greatest success. “Customers are changing, how they see things are changing, and how they engage is changing.” The current retail environment is a perfect storm, and businesses must understand what is happening, stay two moves ahead, and have a contingency plan. Trends impacting retail and customers during this storm include artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), robots, drones, Alibaba, the Chinese market, the security of personal information, and social media. The brands that understand these trends and how they affect their customers will see better results in their profits and revenues than those that don’t.

Matériaux Parent Opens Two BMR Stores

On May 25, BMR Group opened stores in Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick, NB. The BMR Matériaux Parent stores joined the BMR banner in 2018. Under the banner, the stores will offer a wide selection of hardware products and materials from Canadian suppliers as well as customized services.

AEP Launches Custom Wall Panels

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) now offers customized wall panels to the product offering at its recently acquired SC Building Systems (SC) in Carman MB. The panels are pre-assembled in the plant so delivery and construction can be timed down to a specific day, says Dirk Maritz, chief executive officer. “This is an integral part of our growth strategy and we expect this offsite construction technology to be rolled out to all our plants across the country.” The panels replace traditional stick frame construction which is often weather dependent and time and labour intensive. Maritz says SC and other AEP plants in British Columbia and Ontario use laser precision, software, and automation to manufacture engineered products in a controlled indoor factory environment using standardized best practices.

PayBright Partners With Lightspeed

PayBright, a provider of installment payment solutions, has partnered with Lightspeed, a cloud-based commerce platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Through PayBright, Lightspeed's merchants can now offer customers installment payments for eCommerce purchases. PayBright has partnered with over 4,300 domestic and international merchants, allowing them to offer installment payment plans to their Canadian consumers. PayBright also offers installment payments in-store, providing a unified omnichannel experience.

PPG Launches ‘Paints With Purpose’ Campaign

PPG has launched its ‘Paints with Purpose’ campaign, a global campaign which will showcase the many unexpected applications of next generation paint and coatings technologies. These include paints that can cool the temperature of asphalt on a hot day to protect a puppy’s sensitive paws; coatings that can absorb sound or help reduce pollution; paint that helps self-driving cars see; and stain that can be applied even on a cold, wet day. “When people talk about painting, they’re typically focused on beautifying a space in their home or making their mark on a new one,” says David Bem, chief technology officer and vice-president, science, and technology at PPG. “But next generation paints and coatings will do much more. From added safety to enhanced comfort or just an easier way to apply our products, Paints with Purpose aims to showcase real life examples of ways that paint can help improve our overall quality of life.” It will roll out the campaign over the coming months highlighting the unique applications and their impact on everyday life.

Tramble Promoted To Marketing Director

Tammy Tramble is director of marketing and national accounts at Shnier, a Gesco ULC company. Previously, she was director of national accounts. She has been with the company for eight years.

Toro Company Sees Strong Sales

The Toro Company had net earnings of $115.6 million on a net sales increase of 9.9 per cent to $962 million for the second quarter of 2019. This compares to net earnings of $131.3 million on net sales of $875.3 million in the second quarter of 2018. Sales were helped by the acquisition of Charles Machine Works in the quarter. Adjusted net earnings were $126 million compared to $130.3 million in the year-ago period, a decrease of 2.5 per cent. Professional segment net sales were up 9.6 per cent and residential segment net sales were up 9.4 per cent year over year. Overall, gross margin as a per cent of sales for the second quarter was 33.4 per cent, a decrease of 360 basis points compared to the prior year.

May 28, 2019

Walmart Canada Launches Quebec Rewards Mastercard

Wal-Mart Canada Corp. (Walmart Canada) launched its Rewards Mastercard in Quebec. The loyalty credit card enables Quebec customers to earn rewards in dollar equivalents instead of points and redeem them on items in-store and online. Cardholders earn 1.25 per cent on their purchases in reward dollars for every dollar spent at Walmart Canada and one per cent of their purchases when used anywhere else Mastercard is accepted. The reward dollars can be redeemed in $5 increments at the cash register at any Walmart Canada store. Cardholders can also review transactions, check their balance, and make payments online. The card is issued by Duo Bank (formerly Walmart Canada Bank), which was acquired by a partnership of Stephen Smith and affiliates of Centerbridge Partners, LP in April, at which time Duo Bank entered into an agreement with Walmart Canada for continued operation of existing and new financial services products across Walmart Canada's footprint.

Canadian Tire Corp. Partners With Myant

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has partnered with Toronto, ON-based Myant Inc., a provider of wearable computing and smart textiles. Myant’s proprietary fiber-based products use its SKIIN Textile Computing platform that integrates biometric sensors, heat generation technology, and electroluminescence into everyday clothing. It will introduce apparel and footwear that will keep customers warmer, light up at night to keep them more visible, and connect with smart devices to record performance and health information from heart rate to blood oxygen levels. The products will be brought to consumers in Helly Hansen, Woods, and Dakota products. Canadian Tire acquired Helly Hansen in 2018.

Giant Tiger Opens London Location

Giant Tiger opened a store in London, ON, on May 25. The 16,656-square-foot store is stocked with home and family fashions, groceries, and everyday necessities. The retailer also offers a flyer program with ad-match guarantees. All Giant Tiger locations are locally owned or operated by a team member who knows the community.

University Of Maine To Set Up 3D Wood Printing Partnership

The University of Maine has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to launch a large-scale bio-based additive – 3D printing – manufacturing program. The partnership will harness ORNL’s leadership in additive manufacturing and the university’s expertise with bio-based composites to advance efforts to 3D print with wood, creating a new market for Maine’s forest products industry. The $20 million effort, funded by U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, aims to strengthen regional manufacturing by connecting university-industry clusters with the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.

Gesco Makes Changes

Doug Wilcox is president and chief operating officer of Gesco ULC, a Canadian-based national floor covering distribution company. He joined the company 11 years ago and has served as director of operations. Paul Green is president and chief revenue officer. He joined the company 21 years ago and has served in several senior roles within multiple departments.

Interfor Has Loss

Interfor Corporation had sales of $451 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease over sales of $528 million in the first quarter of 2018. The company had a net loss of $15.3 million compared to net earnings of $32.7 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted net loss was $12.7 million compared to $20.2 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $16.3 million versus $83.5 million last year. The company says it was impacted by softwood lumber duties, marginally higher lumber prices, increased production, and reduced shipments.

May 27, 2019

Building Construction Investment Decreases

Total investment in building construction decreased 1.2 per cent in March to $14.2 billion, says Statistics Canada. Losses in the residential sector, down two per cent to $9.4 billion, were partially offset by a small increase in the non-residential sector which rose 0.5 per cent to $4.7 billion. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction fell 1.4 per cent to $11.8 billion. For the first time, investment in multi-unit dwelling construction exceeded that of singles, making it the largest component for investment in building construction. Although multi-unit investment exceeded single family investment, it remained well short of the record $6.4 billion set in May 2017. While both sectors declined in March, investment in single family homes, down 3.4 per cent, did so at a faster rate than investment in multi-unit dwellings which fell 0.5 per cent. Within the non-residential sector, investment in commercial building construction marked its 14th consecutive monthly increase to reach a high of $2.7 billion. The industrial component rose 1.3 per cent to $896 million, while the institutional sector posted a small overall increase to $1.1 billion following 11 consecutive monthly declines.

PPG Opens Texas Distribution Centre

PPG has opened a 450,000-square-foot distribution facility in Flower Mound, TX, making it the largest distribution centre (DC) for architectural paints and coatings in the company’s U.S. and Canadian network. The DC serves more than 1,000 PPG PAINTS stores, national retailers, and independent retailers. It can store in excess of four million gallons of more than 4,500 unique paint and coatings products. PPG’s architectural coatings business in the U.S. and Canada manufactures and sells residential and commercial coatings including interior and exterior paints, stains, caulks, repair products, adhesives, and sealants.

Ornamental Mouldings Launches Two-Tone Mouldings

Ornamental Mouldings & Millwork has introduced Haute 2-in-1 Moulding. These decorative mouldings feature two-tone crown, baseboard, and chair railing mouldings and are available with an accent insert of either a gold rope or silver pyramid removable wood piece. All whitewood mouldings come primed and ready to paint. Ornamental Mouldings & Millwork is owned by NOVO Building Products, a manufacturer and distributor of mouldings, stair parts, doors, and specialty millwork.

Strong Growth Forecast For Roofing Underlayment Demand

Demand for roofing underlayment is forecast to rise five per cent annually to $1.5 billion in 2023, outpacing market gains for roofing accessories overall, says research from the Freedonia Group. Roofing underlayment demand (by area) is projected to advance 2.8 per cent per year to 190 million squares in 2023. The demand will be boosted by increasing roofing activity, particularly in the residential market, as new roofs are installed and older roofs are repaired or replaced. Another driver is the adoption of more stringent building codes mandating the use of multiple layers of underlayment to provide additional protection against leaks. Demand for roofing accessories is projected to advance 3.6 per cent annually to $6.5 billion in 2023. This demand will also be fuelled by increases in roofing activity.

Cavallari Names Daltile Brand Spokesperson

Kristin Cavallari, CEO of lifestyle brand Uncommon James, TV personality, and author, is now also the brand spokesperson for Daltile, a manufacturer of tile and countertops. Cavallari leads a campaign – called ‘Design Your Life’ – spotlighting fashion forward products in the company’s portfolio. The print campaign debuted in May and the collaboration will continue throughout the rest of the year with in-store materials, public appearances, and digital and social campaigns.

Strong Retail Sales Drive Ace Hardware Revenues

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.38 billion for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 5.1 per cent compared to revenues in the first quarter of 2018. Total wholesale revenues were up 4.5 per cent to $1.28 billion. The Ace Hardware International Holdings, Ltd. subsidiary had a $6.7 million increase in wholesale revenue from the prior year. Total retail revenue increased 21.6 per cent year-over-year, while retail revenues from Ace Retail Holdings increased 23.7 per cent. Overall net income for the quarter was $22.6 million, an increase of $10.7 million from the year-ago period. The company had a 55 per cent surge in revenue from its eCommerce site. Retail same-store sales were up 3.9 per cent year-over-year.

May 24, 2019

Building Materials Drive Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 1.4 per cent to $64.1 billion in March, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in six subsectors, accounting for 82 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector was the lone subsector to decline. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales were up 2.2 per cent in March. On a quarterly basis, wholesale sales increased 0.7 per cent in the first quarter. Following a five per cent decline in February, the building material and supplies subsector led gains in March, up 4.5 per cent to $9 billion on the strength of higher sales in the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies and the electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industries. Exports of lumber and other sawmill and millwork products were up 5.2 per cent in March. In volume terms, sales in this subsector increased 3.8 per cent. Wholesale sales rose in eight provinces in March, which together represented 48 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada. Alberta posted the highest increase in sales. Wholesale inventories increased for the seventh consecutive month, up 0.4 per cent to $90 billion.

Windsor Plywood Now Offer Sansin Products

Two Edmonton, AB, Windsor Plywood stores now carry Sansin Corporation’s complete line of interior and exterior wood protection products. Windsor Plywood’s West Edmonton and Clareview stores specialize in high-quality and hard-to-source home finishing products including doors, flooring, cabinets, stairs, mouldings, and a variety of carefully sourced building products. The Sansin products are particularly well-suited for the Edmonton climate, says Josh Zizek, manager of Windsor Plywood Clareview. “We see a wide range of temperature variations and also get a lot of sun, so our customers need a long-lasting product that’s not a pain to recoat or refinish.” Both stores will offer on-site colour tinting for the Sansin finishes.

Canadian Government Invests In Quebec Facility

The Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) will award a repayable contribution of $387,480 to Matériaux spécialisés Louiseville Inc. (MSL), a small business that recycles 25,000 tonnes of lumber each year and manufactures eco-friendly construction materials. With this financial assistance, MSL will modernize its production through the acquisition of new digital equipment to continue expanding in its markets. Founded in 2003, MSL specializes in the manufacture of construction products (recycled wood fibre-based panels) designed mainly for soundproofing, commercial roofing, and thermal insulation. MSL's facility is ISO 9001-certified and features a fully automated and environmentally friendly production process operating with a closed water circuit (zero effluent).

PPG On Track After Full Review

After launching full independent reviews of its U.S. and Canadian architectural coatings business as well as an assessment of its overall business portfolio including potential separation opportunities, PPG says that it will continue to do business as it has. The findings show the company’s current business portfolio provides the best opportunity to drive long-term shareholder value. “By maintaining our current portfolio, we avoid negative commercial, operational, and procurement impacts and preserve full strategic flexibility for the future,” says Michael H. McGarry, chairman and chief executive officer of PPG. For the North American architectural coatings business, the reviews recommended driving certain commercial network optimizations, implementing further cost structure improvements, utilizing additional sales effectiveness tools, and adopting new digital technologies. “We are executing these initiatives with the goals of achieving full recovery of our profitability next quarter and positioning the business for continued success.”

Digital Retail Presents Opportunity, Not Threat

Digital retail presents an opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers, not a threat, says Tim Mason, CEO of digital marketing company Eagle Eye, in his book, ‘Omnichannel Retail: How to build winning stores in a digital world.’ Digitalization can foster more meaningful customer connections, boost loyalty, and increase sales both online and offline, he says. With 90 per cent of shopping transactions still completed in a physical store, the physical retail space is far from dead; however, traditional sales outlets need reimagining to re-establish their place in a digital world, as well as their ability to both compete with and enhance online shopping experiences. As well, he says retailers need a “mobile makeover.” Rather than discouraging digital interactions in-store for fear of driving customers to online rivals, retailers need to digitally augment their physical advantages of expert customer service, sensory selection, ‘try-before-you-buy,’ and instant gratification and fulfilment. Delivering personalized experiences that resonate with consumers and challenge digitally enabled and data-driven competitors mandates that retailers transform their businesses today.

Olosky Heads Henkel North America

Mike Olosky is regional president in North America and regional head of adhesive technologies for North America and Latin America at Henkel. He joined the company in 1995 and has served as president of Henkel Asia-Pacific and head of innovation and new business development.

U.S. Sales Drive Walmart Revenue

Walmart had total revenue of $123.9 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of one per cent over revenue of $122.7 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Operating income declined 4.1 per cent over the year-ago period. Comparable sales for the U.S. division increased 3.4 per cent year-over-year, the best increase in first-quarter comparable sales in nine years, and the fourth consecutive quarter above three per cent. Walmart U.S. eCommerce sales increased 37 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Net sales at Walmart International were $28.8 billion, a decline of 4.9 per cent over last year; excluding currency exchange, net sales were up 1.2 per cent.

May 23, 2019

Building Materials Lead Retail Sales

Retail sales increased for the second consecutive month, rising 1.1 per cent to $51.3 billion in March, says Statistics Canada. Sales were higher in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 39 per cent of retail trade. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers was a main contributor to the increase. Following a decline in February, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased 4.3 per cent in March – the third increase in four months. Sales increased in nine provinces, led by Alberta which was up 2.4 per cent). In volume terms, retail sales edged down 0.1 per cent in the quarter. March retail eCommerce sales were $1.6 billion on an unadjusted basis, accounting for 3.1 per cent of total retail trade, compared with two per cent of total retail trade in March 2016, the year when official monthly statistics for retail eCommerce were first published.

U.S. Construction Starts Retreat

The value of new construction starts in the U.S. in April fell 15 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $685.2 billion, pulling back following the 16 per cent hike that was reported in March, says Dodge Data & Analytics. Steep declines were registered by two of the three main construction sectors. Non-building construction, which is comprised of public works and electric utilities/gas plants, plunged 31 per cent from its elevated March amount, while non-residential building fell 18 per cent in April. Meanwhile, residential building in April decreased one per cent as a modest rebound for multi-family housing was outweighed by further slippage for single-family housing. During the first four months of 2019, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $224.5 billion, down eight per cent from the same period of 2018. April’s data lowered the Dodge Index to 145, down from 171 in March.

Convenience, Smaller Format Stores Key Trends

Many brands are prioritizing convenience as well as introducing smaller store formats to drive engagement and satisfaction, says Phillips Edison & Company (PECO), a real estate investment trust that runs shopping centres across the U.S. Sharing industry insights on trending themes as part of ICSC’s RECon event in Las Vegas, he says brands are making these decisions based on data collected by retailers related to shopping patterns. For instance, consumers continue to show a preference for curbside pick-up, mobile check-out, same-day delivery, and personal point-of-sale systems that make the process of shopping in-store faster and more efficient. Moreover, decisions to launch smaller store concepts are in part predicated on providing shoppers with a greater level of convenience in a more intimate setting. This trend is also a response to increasing urbanization as more people are choosing to live in cities. PECO says retailers have more resources than ever to efficiently gather and analyze information that helps them improve their offering from better site selection to the customer experience before, during, and after the transaction has taken place.

Simpson Strong-Tie Updates Deck Resource Centre

Simpson Strong-Tie has made a comprehensive update to its online deck resource centre in conjunction with the North American Deck and Railing Association’s (NADRA) Deck Safety Month (May). Deck Safety Month is dedicated to raising deck safety awareness for contractors and homeowners. Of the 50 million decks in the U.S., it’s estimated that 25 million currently need to be replaced or repaired, says NADRA. In addition to resources available at nadra.org, the Simpson Strong-Tie ‘Deck Center’ is an online resource that provides deck builders and consumers with in-depth deck safety information, an idea and inspiration page for building safe decks, and a selection of videos, online and in-person training opportunities, literature, and industry tips for safe deck construction.

Sales Rise At Lowe’s

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. had sales of $17.7 billion for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.2 per cent compared to sales of $17.4 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Comparable sales increased 3.5 per cent year-over-year and comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 4.2 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were $1 billion compared to net earnings of $988 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin was $5.6 billion and 31.46 per cent of sales in the quarter, compared to $5.7 billion and 33.11 per cent of sales last year. Categories that outperformed were seasonal and outdoor living, lawn and garden, tools, and appliances.

Industry Experts To Speak At ‘STORE 2019’

Walter Robb, principal at Stonewall Robb Advisors and former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, will examine the state of physical and digital retail at Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘STORE 2019.’ He will be joined by Helena Foulkes, CEO of HBC, who will discuss what’s ahead for the Canadian retailer, and Kevin Peesker, president of Microsoft Canada, who will look at why and how corporate culture can become a key accelerator versus a barrier to success. This year's event will also feature demonstrations showcasing leading tech innovations for the retail industry, 70 other speakers, and a gala dinner and awards presentation celebrating the best in the industry. It takes place May 28 and 29 at the Toronto Congress Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit STORE 2019

May 22, 2019

Home Depot Has First Quarter Increase

The Home Depot had sales of $26.4 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2019, a 5.7 per cent increase over sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter increased 2.5 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings were $2.5 billion compared with net earnings of $2.4 billion, an increase of 4.5 per cent. Gross profit for the quarter was $9 billion, up 4.6 per cent over gross profit of $8.6 billion last year. Online sales increased approximately 23 per cent. Categories that performed above average included appliances, gardening, building materials, and décor/storage.

BMR Group Opens First Ontario Pro Store

BMR Group has opened its first Ontario BMR Pro, Griffith Building Supply, in Griffith, ON. Store owners John Lacourse and Derek McGrimmon unveiled the revamped 2,000-square-foot store at its grand opening on May 18. The interior and facade were modernized and streamlined and the retail area now offers more products and an expanded line of building materials. BMR Pro is a variation of the traditional BMR banner, developed to meet contractors’ and DIYer’s needs for both renovation and new building projects. The first BMR Pro in Quebec is currently under construction in Trois-Rivières and is scheduled to open in late summer.

Demand Grows For Hard Goods Fall Protection

While soft goods continue to dominate the fall protection market due to their low cost and ease of use, hard goods are experiencing a surge in demand due to the market shift from harnesses to self-retracting lifelines (SRLs), says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The ability of SRLs to arrest a fall quicker than harnesses has greatly accelerated their adoption. This demand, coupled with the rising awareness of the need for training services, is expected to drive the $802.4 million market toward $948.5 million by 2023. Fall protection vendors can make the most of the growth opportunities in the market by offering webbing technologies that not only have better load-bearing capacity but also aid ease of inspection. They can develop a smaller cross section of the webbing to put more on the reel to deliver lanyards and SRLs of varying lengths. As well, they can create housing made of thermoplastic, which is lightweight and enables easy visual inspection due to transparency. Vendors should provide training using virtual reality to help end users identify hazards and develop effective fall protection plans.

Employees Enjoy Multi-generational Workplace

Most people (71 per cent) find a cross-generational workplace is an asset to a company and 76 per cent of those workers enjoy working alongside colleagues of different ages, says a study by Ricoh Canada, Inc., a business management solutions company. Additionally, today's workforce is more united than ever in its demand for a seismic change in the way we all conduct business in the future. It's no longer enough to measure just financial success, with employees from across the generations calling on businesses to be a force for good and drive positive change in the world. Ricoh says the reason is that the line between personal and professional worlds is blurring as technology frees people from the traditional nine-to-five office set-up. As a result, more than three out of five workers believe that a four-day work week will be more likely due to Generation Z's use of technology to be more efficient. As well, employees are personally invested in their workplaces more than ever, with an average of 59 per cent across all generations viewing their work as a key factor in defining who they are as a person. Business values are important to employees and 65 per cent of workers across all generations say sustainability needs to be at the centre of business and product strategies in the next five to 10 years. This involves operating in harmony with the environment and demonstrating respect for your people as well as the wider societies in which a business operates.

GE Appliances Canada Partners With Toronto FC

GE Appliances Canada has signed a multi-year partnership with Toronto, ON’s professional soccer team, Toronto FC. “GE Appliances Canada is now one of Toronto FC's premium partners,” says Jeff Deline, chief revenue officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). "With this exciting announcement, our fans have much to look forward to that goes beyond the in-stadium experience, including GE Appliance's involvement with Toronto FC Juniors and Toronto FC Academy, our youth development programs, which will showcase to fans the company's commitment to growing the sport in Canada.” The multi-year partnership will start with in-stadium branding and signage at BMO Field and in-stadium activations with PR and digital media executions.

May 21, 2019

Trump Exempts Canada From Metal Tariffs

U.S. President Donald Trump will exempt Canada and Mexico from tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S. The tariffs were aimed at the imports of the two metals where the U.S. uses more than it produces. One order imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imported into the U.S., while the other put a 10 per cent levy on aluminum. “We're going to hold off the tariff on those two countries to see whether we can make the deal on NAFTA,” said Trump. The exemption is expected to allow officials from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to continue discussions about various issues around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), also referred to as USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada agreement) since negotiations to renew the agreement have been underway.

Small Gain In Manufacturing Sales

Manufacturing sales increased 2.1 per cent to $58 billion in March, following a 0.2 per cent decrease in February and a 0.9 per cent gain in January, says Statistics Canada. The transportation equipment, petroleum and coal product, and primary metal industries posted the largest gains. Overall, sales were up in 12 of 21 industries, representing 56.4 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. In volume terms, manufacturing sales rose 1.6 per cent. Primary metal sales rose 5.3 per cent to $4.4 billion in March, following two consecutive monthly declines. Electric equipment, appliance, and components sales declined 4.6 per cent. Sales were up in eight provinces in March, led by gains in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec. Sales declined in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Total inventories rose for the fourth consecutive month, up one per cent to $86.9 billion, with gains in 12 of 21 industries. The inventory level in March was 9.5 per cent higher than in March 2018.

Lowe’s To Acquire Retail Analytics Platform

Lowe's Companies, Inc. will acquire the Retail Analytics platform from Boomerang Commerce. The technology will be integrated into the retailer’s core retail business and bolster strategic and data-driven pricing and merchandise assortment decisions across its businesses. The platform provides a retail analytics solution that processes product and pricing datasets to convert them to insights and actions. The acquisition is designed to assist in modernizing and digitizing Lowe's approach to pricing. The acquisition includes the proprietary technology and tools for the Retail Analytics platform, but excludes customer contracts and related confidential information and data. After this acquisition, Boomerang Commerce's product CommerceIQ, which automates eCommerce growth for leading consumer brands, will operate as an independent business under the CommerceIQ.ai name.

West Fraser Curtails Production

West Fraser will temporarily curtail production for a duration of approximately two weeks at two British Columbia sawmills. The decision to implement this temporary reduction is due to the continued challenges of weak pricing in global lumber markets, high log costs, and constrained timber supplies. SPF lumber production is anticipated to be reduced by approximately 20 million board feet, in addition to previously announced permanent and temporary curtailments.

May 17, 2019

Tariffs Still Impacting Non-residential Construction Prices

As was the case during the last two quarters of 2018, prices for the construction of non-residential buildings increased more than construction prices for residential buildings in the first quarter of 2019, says Statistics Canada. The on-going U.S. steel tariffs imposed in June 2018 still had some lingering impacts on the construction costs of both types of structures. Although prices for steel and metal products are still high, they started to stabilize in the first quarter of 2019. Non-residential building construction costs increased 0.8 per cent in the quarter, following a 1.1 per cent gain in the fourth quarter of 2018, says Statistics Canada. Construction costs were up for all types of non-residential buildings in 10 of 11 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) surveyed, led by Vancouver, BC, where costs were up 1.1 per cent. For the 12-month period, prices for the construction of non-residential buildings were up 4.8 per cent. Construction costs for all types of residential buildings rose 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, following a 0.5 per cent increase in the previous quarter. Gains were led by the Montreal, QC, CMA where costs rose 1.5 per cent.

Deslongchamps Opens Third Store

Lowe's Canada is celebrating the grand opening of the RONA Deslongchamps store in the Algonquin community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec. This is dealer-owner Éric Deslongchamps’ first store in the Gatineau Valley, his two other stores being located in Rivière-Rouge and Mont-Laurier, in the Upper Laurentians. The building in which the store is located has been completely renovated; there is now a 9,000-square-feet sales floor, a 5,000-square-foot indoor lumber yard, and a 75,000-square-foot drive-through outdoor lumber yard. The retailer has over 18,000 products in stock, and thousands of additional products available on the RONA website. Consumers can also place their order online and pick it up in-store or take advantage of the parcel delivery service. Contractors and professionals in the area can also have their orders delivered directly to their worksite.

Stanley Black & Decker To Open Texas Plant

Stanley Black & Decker will expand its U.S. manufacturing footprint by opening a CRAFTSMAN manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, TX. The 425,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in late 2020. It will manufacture a wide range of CRAFTSMAN mechanics tools, including sockets, ratchets, wrenches, and general sets. The plant will also feature advanced manufacturing technologies to optimize productivity and sustainability, including pre-flattening steel technologies to improve material yield by almost 25 per cent, as well as water and energy management technologies to reduce resource consumption. Stanley Black & Decker purchased CRAFTSMAN in 2017 and the following year launched a refreshed brand identity, unveiling more than 1,200 new products. The brand is now on pace for an accelerated growth trajectory to reach $1 billion in incremental revenues by 2021.

BrainBox Launches Technology For Autonomous Buildings

BrainBox AI has launched a technology that combines deep learning, cloud-based computing, and algorithms to support a 24/7 self-operating building. BrainBox AI is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology designed specifically for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) in commercial buildings. The platform leverages AI to predict a building’s thermal load and enables the HVAC system to operate autonomously, in real-time, leading to energy and cost savings, a reduction in its carbon footprint, and increased occupant comfort. “AI-powered autonomous buildings are the next disruptive innovation that will enable significant energy savings in the real estate space,” says Sean Neely co-founder and CEO.

ENERGY STAR Recognizes Energy Efficiency Leaders

Samsung Electronics Canada, appliances; Ricoh Canada Inc., electronics; Centennial Windows & Doors, windows and doors; Venmar Ventilation ULC, heating and cooling equipment; L'Image Home Products Inc., lighting; and Daikin Industries, Ltd., air conditioning manufacturing; are winners of Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources ‘2019 ENERGY STAR Canada Participant Awards.’ The Home Depot Canada and GEM Windows & Doors were named retailers of the year. The awards ‒ now in the 16th year ‒ recognize organizations that have demonstrated excellence in promoting the most energy-efficient products and new homes in Canada. They represent the utilities, manufacturers, retailers, associations, and homebuilders that are helping Canadian consumers and businesses save money while also addressing climate change.

AERT Becomes MoistureShield

Oldcastle APG, a CRH company, has renamed its composite decking business. Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT) will now operate as MoistureShield. Oldcastle has added MoistureShield composite decking and railing products to its portfolio and this, along with the name and logo change, is part of the company’s strategy to succeed in the composite decking marketplace.

Reporting Method Impacts Leon’s Earnings

Leon's Furniture Limited had revenue of $499.7 million in the first quarter of 2019, a decrease over revenue of $500.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. Gross profit margin for the quarter increased to 43.26 per cent from 42.8 per cent year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA increased 90.7 per cent over the prior-year quarter. This increase was driven primarily by two factors, the implementation of a new financial reporting standard by the company and the improvement in gross margin percentage in the quarter. Adjusted net income was $13.9 million for the quarter, an increase of 20.6 per cent over the prior-year period.

May 16, 2019

Home Sales Up 3.6 Per Cent

Home sales rose by 3.6 per cent in April compared to March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). However, after having dropped in February to the lowest level since 2012, the rebound in sales over the past two months still leaves activity slightly below readings posted over most of the second half of 2018. April sales were up in about 60 per cent of all local markets, with the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) accounting for over half of the national gain. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 4.2 per cent year-over-year in April (albeit from a seven-year low for the month in 2018), the first year-over-year gain since December 2017 and the largest in more than two years. The increase reflects gains in the GTA and Montreal, QC, that outweighed declines in the British Columbia lower mainland. The number of newly-listed homes rose 2.7 per cent in April, building on March's 3.4 per cent increase. New supply rose in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by the GTA and Ottawa, ON. With sales up by more than new listings in April, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened marginally to 54.8 per cent from 54.3 per cent in March. This measure of market balance has remained close to its long-term average of 53.5 per cent since early 2018.

Tax Refunds, Weather Affect U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales were down 0.2 per cent in April seasonally adjusted from March, but up 5.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Slower tax refunds and weather are thought to be key factors driving the numbers. However, the fundamentals remain positive, particularly in long-term comparisons, says the NRF. As of April, the three-month moving average in retail sales was up 2.9 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 2.6 per cent in March. April’s results build on gains of 1.1 per cent month-over-month and one per cent year-over-year seen in March. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.3 per cent year-over-year, but down 1.9 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted, while furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.7 per cent year-over-year and unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted. Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.4 per cent year-over-year and down 1.3 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

New Richmond, QC, Gets RONA Affiliate Store

The Store Mag family-run business has joined Lowe’s Canada’s RONA affiliated dealer network. Originally a dealer specialized in window coverings, flooring, and home décor, the store has been redesigned to incorporate 3,000-square-feet of retail space. The business was founded in 1988 and has experienced continued growth and adapted to meet the changing needs of its customers. Throughout the years, it has added paint, home decor, and flooring departments to its offering in addition to renting space to Armoires Distinction, a local business specialized in the manufacturing of kitchen cabinets. The store’s transition to the RONA banner and its conversion to a hardware store mark a new stage in the family business’s history. The New Richmond, QC-store now offers 10,000 hardware products in-store and will soon offer the click-and-collect service where customers can buy online and pick up their order in the store. The store will also continue to offer various services it has had available over the past 30 years, including blind repairs.

CRA Expands Liaison Officer Service

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will expand its liaison officer service to improve services for small businesses. The Liaison Officer service uses an education-based approach to help small businesses meet their tax obligations by providing them with free in-person support and guidance. The expansion will open the door for small corporations to book visits and group seminars with one of over 130 liaison officers across the country. Since the launch of the service in 2014, more than 35,500 small businesses have benefited from access to support and education to help them fully understand their tax obligations. Previously, only unincorporated businesses and self-employed individuals could ask for this service. The expansion is one of the CRA’s priorities identified in Budget 2019.

CIBC Launches SmartBanking Platform

CIBC has launched a banking platform designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses run and grow their companies. ‘CIBC SmartBanking for Business’ is a digital solution that gives business owners a comprehensive view of their company's finances, including accounting and payroll insights, in one dashboard. The platform uses two-way data integration between CIBC and cloud accounting platforms, such as Intuit Canada, Xero, and Ceridian, to reduce manual data entry, simplify reconciliation, and improve accuracy. It is available online and exclusively for iPad to download free on the App Store, with no monthly access fee.

Taiga Has First-quarter Decrease

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had net sales of $287.4 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of 12 per cent from net sales of $324.6 million in the first quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely due to decreased selling prices for commodity products. Gross margin for the quarter decreased to $27.5 million from $30.8 million in the same period last year. Net earnings decreased to $4.7 million from $6.8 million primarily due to decreased gross margin. EBITDA was $11.1 million compared to $11.5 million.

May 15, 2019

Billions Hidden Behind Consumer Expectation Gap

Billions of dollars in customer spending in the Canadian retail industry could be unlocked if brands address the 24 per cent gap in expectations versus current experience along the customer journey, finds the ninth annual ‘Loyalty Report’ by Bond Brand Loyalty in partnership with Visa. The report shows that, while loyalty continues to deliver positive outcomes for brands, by re-tooling programs and closing the gap to better meet consumer expectations, there’s a potential to unlock $18 billion of consumer spending in the retail category alone. Top programs differentiate and lead by prioritizing the program experience over the end reward itself. Bond says brands should reconsider gamification because it is a driver of program enjoyment. Programs with gamification see an almost two-fold (1.8x) lift in enjoyment. Personalization is also important with 80 per cent of program members wanting more of their data to be used to improve personalization. Yet, for example, while 96 per cent of programs collect first names, only 57 per cent use them. Brands should also focus on partnerships. Program members have the capacity to be actively involved in only eight of the 13 programs in which they are members. This represents an opportunity for brands to come together in a partnership when program participants have similar traits or buying patterns.

Castle Launches New Mobile App

Castle Building Centres Group has launched a mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The app was designed as an extension of the group’s website and includes features such as a store locator, Castle vendor partner listing, a newsfeed, and the ability to enter contests online using online entry codes picked up at participating Castle locations. This is the first phase of the platform, which will be upgraded over time with more features and functions.

Home Hardware Realigns Hardlines Merchant Responsibilities

Home Hardware Stores Limited has realigned merchant responsibilities for its hardlines categories. Effective May 27, Dave Martin is director, merchandise hardlines; Mike Morin is merchandise manager, plumbing core; Marg Raycraft and Krista Hacker are associates, plumbing core; Cathy Shulist and Jason Wick are associates, hand tools/sporting goods; Shelley Wagner and Dick Tibben are associates, plumbing – fashion; Richard Sweeney is merchandise manager, power tools/outdoor power equipment; Leeanne Wilson, Greg Goetz, and Rob Kowalik are associates, power tools/outdoor power equipment; Jason Schierholtz is merchandise manager, hardware; Heather Babcock, Nicole Woeschka, and Ben Parkhouse are associates, hardware; Jim Solomon is merchandise manager, cleaning/organization/paper products; Leah Miller and Lauren Campbell are associates, cleaning/organization/paper products; Brian Straus is director, merchandise hardlines; Mike Zuk is merchandise manager, seasonal; Jacqui Friedmann, Danielle Zmija, and Thomas Todd are associates, seasonal; Doug Psutka is merchandise manager, furniture; Tammy Porter is associate, furniture; Sandy Jordan is merchandise manager, paint; Anita Desjardins, Adam Clark, and Ann Metzger are associates, paint; Mike McClennan is merchandise manager, lawn and garden; Lisa Jordan and Ryan Harrington are associates, lawn and garden; Tammy Wallace is merchandise manager, housewares; Krista McKay and Carly Ruhl are associates, housewares; Karen Bender and Perrin Smith are merchandise associates – floaters; Derril Linseman is merchandise manager, electrical; Marg Herron and Barb Smith are associates, electrical; Jason Boshart is merchandise manager, HVAC/automotive; Trish Fawcett and Landon Hall are associates, HVAC/automotive; Sharon Huver is merchandise manager, appliances; Jaime Wick and Cynthia George are associates, appliances; Todd Cressman is merchandise manager, general merchandise; Krista Gromeder and Brenda Poole are associates, general merchandise.

Giant Tiger Opens North Battleford Store

Giant Tiger opened a store in North Battleford, SK, on May 11. The 15,785-square-foot store will be stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

May 14, 2019

Loyalty Investment Shows Strong Growth

The loyalty industry is growing, with 69 per cent of top executives saying they’ve increased loyalty investment in the past two years and more than half (55 per cent) saying their investments will continue to grow over the next two years, says a research report by LoyaltyOne. ‘Loyalty Big Picture’ shows companies are recognizing the value of using customer data for everything from product development and pricing optimization to real estate planning and even media. More than half of companies (61 per cent) say they use loyalty data across at least three different departments and a mere two per cent of companies say that loyalty data is used strictly by traditional departments like marketing and public relations. Loyalty matters more than ever to companies across industries, especially in highly consumer-driven areas such as retail, financial services, and hospitality. Facing increasing competition and shrinking budgets, they’re relying on loyalty’s data collection, insights, and rewards to unify end-to-end customer management and all the ways to activate customers and shape their behaviour. The research also shows that loyalty program members contribute to almost half (43 per cent) of companies’ annual sales. Ninety-five per cent of companies say that members spend more than non-members annually – as much as two to three times more. In fact, the ROI is so valuable that vendors and other third parties are often willing to pay for participation in programs.

RONA Bradford Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Lowe’s Canada is celebrating the 100th anniversary of RONA Bradford, a 6,000-square-foot store in Bradford, ON. Originally named Spence Lumber, the store was founded by James Spence in 1919 and operated as a lumberyard until the trend of home renovation and DIY repairs inspired a move and expansion several decades later. In 1990, the business moved to its current site where it sits on a four-acre lumberyard. Soon after, it became a building supply centre to better cater to the changing needs of the marketplace. In 2008, Dennis Doidge and his business partner Ted Minty bought the business. They eventually went on to create Doidge Building Centres in 2017 by bringing together other home improvement businesses they acquired in Ontario over the last two decades. Soon after, Doidge Building Centres became RONA affiliate dealers. Today, the Doidge Group remains an independent, family-run business featuring six locations in Ontario.

BMR Opens St-Hubert Express Store

BMR Group has opened a new store, Quincaillerie Stéphane Baril, under the BMR Express banner, in St-Hubert, QC. Last November, the owners, Stéphane Baril and Annie-Claude Hamelin, decided to join BMR after evolving under another banner since the opening of the store 30 years ago. The BMR Express banner is a variation of the traditional BMR banner developed for smaller stores.

Report Reveals True Cost Of U.S. Homeownership

The average U.S. homeowner spends $2,676 on maintenance and repairs, $6,649 on home improvements, $2,600 on property taxes, and $1,228 on homeowners insurance every year, says Clever Real Estate. Its reports reveal that a quarter of homeowners have less than $500 saved for home repairs. As well, in spite of costs, 65 per cent of homeowners say they’ve never felt home buyers remorse. Seventy-five per cent of homeowners are planning renovations in the next five years, with Millennials planning 50 per cent more than Baby Boomers. The most popular renovations being planned include landscaping, new flooring, bathroom remodels, kitchen remodels, and new decks. The research also shows that Millennials are feeling the pressure of homeownership more than any generation; they are twice as likely to be stressed about it than Baby Boomers. They are also three times as likely to use a personal loan and twice as likely to use a credit card to finance their renovations. Forty-three per cent of Millennials say they were surprised by the cost of maintaining their homes.

Winston Heads BB&B

Mary Winston is interim chief executive officer of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. She was recently appointed board member and has many years of experience in finance and accounting including at Family Dollar Stores Inc. and Giant Eagle, Inc.

Acquisitions Help HDI Sales

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $287 million in the first quarter of 2019, an increase over sales of $271 million in the first quarter of 2018. Sales in Canada were $34 million versus $36 million and sales in the U.S. were $190 million versus $186 million. Acquisitions contributed to the U.S. sales. Gross profit for the quarter was $51 million or 17.8 per cent versus $49 million and 18 per cent. EBITDA was $16.7 million compared to $18.4 million in the year-ago period. Profit for the period was $6 million compared to profit of $8 million last year.

May 13, 2019

B.C. Leads Building Permit Gains

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits in March, up 2.1 per cent from February. The increase was attributable to higher construction intentions in western Canada, says Statistics Canada. Four provinces reported increases for the month, led by British Columbia with an increase of 12.8 per cent. Meanwhile, all provinces east of Manitoba reported declines. The largest decrease was in Ontario, down 1.4 per cent due to lower construction intentions in the residential sector. The national value of permits for non-residential buildings rose 7.9 per cent in March, due to higher construction intentions for both institutional and commercial buildings. Gains in both of these components stemmed from Quebec. In the industrial component, the value of permits declined 15.6 per cent in March, largely the result of lower construction intentions in Quebec. Municipalities issued $4.8 billion worth of residential permits in March, down 1.5 per cent from February. The value of single-family dwelling permits was down five per cent from the previous month, while the value of multi-family dwelling permits increased 1.3 per cent.

Walnut Grove To Get Ace Store

The owners of the Ace Canada store in Port Coquitlam, BC, will open a second store in Walnut Grove, BC. Michael Trentalance and Al Tsuchiya plan to open the 5,000-square-foot store this summer, the very first hardware store in Walnut Grove. The store will feature 12,000 products with more available on the Ace website. It will also feature a click-and-collect online shopping service, where customers can shop online and pick up their purchases in-store.

Consumers Demanding More Tech

Canadian consumers are demanding far more from their favourite retail brands and engaging more with smart tech, finds PwC Canada’s latest consumer insights survey. Half of Canadian consumers are interested in a seamless experience, but only a third want quick and easy payment solutions. As well, the adoption of smart technology, including voice-enabled technology, continues to grow and evolve. Approximately half (52 per cent) of respondents use smart technology to access information (current affairs and weather) and about one-third (31 per cent) to control smart home devices. This rise in adoption provides many opportunities for retailers to drive personalized offerings and also change retail marketing by considering voice search (not just about a mobile-friendly website anymore). The report highlights a list of imperatives for companies to improve ROX (return-on-experience), including understanding customers, treating data respectfully, and fusing customer experience with employee experience.

GOJO Launches PURELL Pro To Canadian Market

GOJO, the inventor of the PURELL hand sanitizer, has launched its Professional Multi-Surface Sanitizing and Disinfecting products to the Canadian market. This line of products kills germs, can be used on many surfaces, and is fragrance-free. The products are available through GOJO distributors.

Home And Garden Drives Spectrum Brands Sales

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $906.7 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.7 per cent over net sales of $882.6 million in the first quarter of 2018. The growth was led by a 14 per cent increase in home and garden and growth of four per cent in the hardware and home improvement segment. Gross profit margin decreased 100 basis points for the quarter and operating margin expanded 100 basis points. Adjusted EBITDA was $115.6 million for the quarter, essentially unchanged over the year-ago quarter. Net loss from continuing operations was $1.06 million compared to a net loss of $1 million. The company says sales were strong in the U.S. residential security, plumbing, and builders' hardware categories.

LP Sales Slide

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) had net sales of $582 million for the first quarter of 2019, down from net sales of $691 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net income was $27 million compared to $91 million. Adjusted income from continuing operations was $17 million for the quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $58 million compared to $159 million. The siding segment had net sales of $236 million in the first quarter, an increase of $9 million from $227 million in the year-ago period. The oriented strand board (OSB) segment had net sales of $208 million, a decrease of $105 million from $313 million last year. The engineered wood products (EWP) segment had net sales of $90 million, a decrease of $15 million from $106 million last year.

May 10, 2019

Canadian Tire Retail Sales Strong

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (CTC) had consolidated retail sales of $2.83 billion in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.3 per cent compared to consolidated retail sales of $2.74 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales increased 6.3 per cent year-over-year. Excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue increased $128 million or 5.4 per cent in the quarter. The retail segment revenue, excluding petroleum, increased 5.2 per cent, while retail sales increased 7.4 per cent year-over-year. Comparable sales for Canadian Tire stores were up 7.1 per cent. Net income was $97.4 million versus $99.1 million, a decrease of 1.7 per cent.

Home Hardware Among Most Trusted Brands

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been named as one of the ‘Top 10 Most Trusted Brands in Canada’ by the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. The retailer jumped 18 spots from 2018, ranking fourth on this year’s list. The accolade highlights how shared values, relationship management, and customer experience influence consumer trust. The Gustavson Brand Trust Index is completed by an academic institution and investigates consumer trust, the factors that affect it, and the brands that succeed at it. The index also measures the relationships between brand performance, social equity, trust, and advocacy for brands in Canada. It was established in 2015 with an aim to raise awareness on the role that trust plays in the minds of consumers when making purchasing decisions.

Abbotsford Hangs Ace Banner

Fraser Valley Building Supplies’ Abbotsford, BC, location now displays the Ace Canada banner. Operated by Fraser Valley Building Supplies since 2016, the store features 10,000 square feet of retail sales area as well as a four-acre drive-through lumberyard. The store was upgraded for its conversion to the Ace banner and now offers an enhanced product mix including tools and accessories from the CRAFTSMAN brand. Customers also have access to the Ace Canada eCommerce site.

CanSave Holds Annual EXPO

CanSave held its ‘EXPO 2019’ at its facility in Barrie, ON, on May 9, with vendors and suppliers on hand to display and sell their latest products and innovations in the building material, door, and kitchen industries. This was the 28th year for the event and the company celebrated with a dinner and entertainment by Celtic warrior band, Mudmen. The event featured vendor exhibitions, seminars, additions and upgrades to the CanSave showroom, the release of Cabinetsmith’s new colour style – Dove Grey, and Doorsmith’s new lineup of exterior doors.

Home And Building Lead Griffon Revenue

Griffon Corporation had consolidated revenue of $549.6 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 15 per cent over consolidated revenue in the second quarter of 2018. The home and building products (HBP) segment revenue increased 20 per cent year-over-year, while the telephonics segment’s revenue decreased nine per cent. Income from continuing operations was $6.5 million compared to $2 million in the prior year quarter. Segment adjusted EBITDA was $53.7 million, an increase of 23 per cent from the prior-year quarter, primarily driven by HBP revenue growth. Revenue was $474.5 million, an increase of 20 per cent over last year. Clopay Building Products Company, Inc. benefited from the acquisition of CornellCookson in June 2018, while AMES Companies, Inc. benefited from favourable weather conditions which drove increases in U.S. lawn and garden products.

Newell Brands Has Weak Quarter

Newell Brands had net sales from continuing operations of $1.7 billion for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of 5.5 per cent compared with $1.8 billion in the prior-year period. Core sales from continuing operations declined 2.4 per cent from the prior-year period. Operating margin was 0.9 per cent compared to negative 1.5 per cent while gross margin was 31.8 per cent compared to 33.4 per cent. The company had a net loss of $151 million for the quarter compared with net earnings of $53 million a year ago. The food and appliances segment had a core sales decline of 2.7 per cent year-over-year and home and outdoor living had a core sales decline of 2.9 per cent.

May 9, 2019

Housing Starts Trend Upwards

The trend in housing starts was 206,103 units in April, compared to 202,420 units in March, 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 is a result of higher-trending multi-unit starts which offset a continued decline in the trend for single starts in urban areas. The increase in the trend of multi-unit starts reflects a strong recovery in multi-unit SAAR activity in March and April from consecutive declines at the end of 2018 and the first months of 2019, says CMHC. Housing starts continued to trend higher in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA), while the Winnipeg, MB, CMA starts trended higher compared to the previous month. In the Toronto, ON, CMA, housing starts trended slightly lower and the Calgary, AB, CMA trended slightly higher. New Brunswick's total housing starts increased in April compared to the same month last year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 235,460 units in April, up 22.6 per cent from 191,981 units in March.

RONA Deslongchamps Completes Renovation

Lowe's Canada is celebrating the end of the renovation work at the RONA Deslongchamps store, located in Rivière-Rouge, QC. The dealer-owner has completely redesigned the ground floor of the two-storey building in order to introduce an appliance department, improve the shopping experience, and enhance the showroom. In total, 300 additional products are now available in-store. Appliance brands offered include GE and Samsung and special orders are also available. The new showroom also allows customers to see and feel more product demonstrations, including outdoor furniture and barbecues.

Saniflo Canada Partners With Sales Agency For Ontario

Centon Sales Corp. is now the sales agency partner for Ontario for SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA. Centon Sales provides sales and service to the wholesale channel for the Ontario region, Saniflo’s largest market. Based in Mississauga, ON, Centon Sales provides pre-construction and renovation planning support for plumbing brands by offering product training, technical support, and sales service. Each of the company’s agents focuses on a specific market or region, offering specialized support to meet the needs of Saniflo’s wholesale partners, including segments of plumbing contractors, plumbing wholesalers, residential builders and contractors, and engineers.

Home Improvement Retailers Among RCC Award Finalists

Canadian Tire, Federated Co-operatives Limited, Home Depot of Canada, Ltd., IKEA Canada, Kitchen Stuff Plus, Lowe's Canada, and Walmart Canada Corp. are among the finalists for Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘2019 Excellence in Retailing (ERA) Awards.’ The awards identify and celebrate the best retail innovation in eCommerce experience; environmental leadership; health, safety, and wellness; in-store experience and design; in-store merchandising; loss prevention; omnichannel; philanthropic leadership; pop-up experience and design; retail marketing; and talent development. The 2019 winners will be announced at the ‘Excellence in Retailing Awards Gala’ on May 28, which falls on the first day of ‘STORE 2019,’ RCC’s annual retail industry event.

Home Hardware Makes Changes

Chris Parsons is director, eCommerce marketing, at Home Hardware Stores Limited. He has 15 years of digital marketing experience. Michael Gawtrey is director, loyalty and CRM – pro and consumer. He was previously senior director, consulting for Relation1. Brian Straus is director, merchandise hardlines. He was previously group merchandise manager. Dave Martin is also director, merchandise hardlines. He was also previously group merchandise manager. Richard Sweeney is merchandise manager. He has over 10 years of industry experience, most recently at Canadian Tire. Mike Morin is also merchandise manager. He has more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement retailing industry, most recently at Home Depot. Gino Gualtieri is vice-president, information technology, effective May 27. He has over 25 years of experience in the information technology field across a number of retail organizations.

Lifestyle Products Drive Clorox Sales

The Clorox Company had sales growth of two per cent for the third quarter of its 2019 fiscal year compared to the same period in its 2018 year. Gross margin for the quarter increased by 60 basis points to 43.4 per cent from 42.8 per cent in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations were $187 million compared to $181 million. The cleaning segment had a one per cent sales decrease year-over-year as did the household segment, while lifestyle had a 23 per cent sales increase.

Sales Increase At Continental

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $122 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 4.5 per cent over net sales of $116.8 million in the first quarter of 2018. Wallboard sales volumes increased 5.5 per cent to 649 million square feet during the quarter. Net income was $15.9 million, up 16.7 per cent year-over-year, with adjusted net income up 8.1 per cent to $14.8 million. Adjusted EBITDA increased 2.5 per cent to $32.1 million in the quarter from $31.3 million in the year-ago period.

May 8, 2019

Home’s Harris Named ‘Young Retailer Of The Year’

Kevin Harris, store manager of Harris Home Hardware in London, ON, has been named one of the independent hardware industry’s seven ‘2019 Young Retailer of the Year’ honourees by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). The program, now in its 23rd year, identifies and promotes the next generation of aspiring independent home improvement retailers. It recognizes individual achievement by industry retailers age 35 and younger throughout Canada and the U.S. and chooses based on a number of criteria, including professional milestones, community engagement, continuing hardware industry education, and extracurricular activities. Harris began his home improvement career in 2010 when he joined his parents’ business as the store merchandiser. In 2013, he transitioned to store manager and in five years has doubled store sales.

Dodge Momentum Index Dips In April

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 0.5 per cent in April to 144.3 from the revised March reading of 145.1. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for U.S. non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The retreat in April was the result of the commercial component falling one per cent while the institutional component rose a scant 0.2 per cent. The index has clearly lost some impetus over the last 12 months. The overall momentum index is down 8.5 per cent since April 2018, with the commercial component 4.7 per cent lower and the institutional component 13.9 per cent lower. However, over the past several months it has moved in a crab-like fashion with neither strong gains or losses. This suggests that there continues to be a reasonably healthy number of projects in the planning pipeline to support a moderate level of construction activity in the coming months.

Liveability Factors Drive Home Buying

Access to shopping, dining, and green spaces top the list of liveability criteria for Canadians when shopping for a home, says a survey by RE/MAX. These are followed by proximity to public transit, work, and to preferred schools, as well as cultural and community centres, as the top five neighbourhood wants and expectations. RE/MAX says that the proximity and availability of these liveability factors is so important that Canadians spend more than two-thirds of their time in their own neighbourhood. This rate is higher among Baby Boomers compared to Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X Canadians. "While price and value are always top of mind for buyers, there are some aspects about a home that you can't change," says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "These liveability factors are what make your home more than just the place you live. They are at the heart of the Canadian experience."

OSB Prices Affect Norbord Earnings

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $42 million in the first quarter of 2019 compared to $170 million in the first quarter of 2018. The decrease was primarily due to lower North American oriented strand board (OSB) prices. North American operations generated adjusted EBITDA of $23 million compared to $156 million in the same quarter last year. The company had an adjusted loss of $2 million for the quarter compared to adjusted earnings of $26 million in the year-ago period. The company says the North American benchmark OSB prices weakened due to pullback in demand from homebuilding.

Sales Decrease At Canfor Pulp

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. had sales of $1.14 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a decrease over sales of $1.23 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The company had an operating loss for the quarter of $69.9 million versus operating income of $203.8 million in the year-ago period, while adjusted operating income was $5 million versus $238.7 million. The company had a net loss of $89.5 million versus a net income of $112.2 million last year. Adjusted net loss was $.29 million versus an adjusted net income of $1.13 million. The company says duties and write-downs impacted performance.

May 7, 2019

Home Sales Strong In GTA

A total of 9,042 residential sales were completed in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in April, a 16.8 per increase over April 2018, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up 11.3 per cent compared to March. New listings were also up year-over-year by eight per cent. However, the annual growth rate for new listings was much lower than that reported for sales. This suggests that market conditions continued to tighten which points toward an acceleration in price growth. “While sales were up year-over-year in April, it is important to note that they remain well-below April levels for much of the past decade,” says Jason Mercer, chief market analyst with TREB. “Many potential home buyers arguably remain on the sidelines as they reassess their options in light of the OSFI-mandated two percentage point stress test on mortgages. Longer-term borrowing costs have trended lower this year and the outlook for short-term rates, for which the Bank of Canada holds the lever, is flat to down this year.”

Quincaillerie J.M. Rioux Joins RONA

Forestville, QC-based Quincaillerie J.M. Rioux has joined Lowe’ Canada’s RONA affiliated dealer network. Founded in 1986 by Jean-Marie and Denise Rioux, the family business is now operated by the daughter of the founders and her spouse, Marie-Claude Rioux and David Martel, who have chosen to partner with RONA for the next phase of the hardware store’s development. With a surface area of 3,500 square feet, the store will be redesigned in the coming months to improve the customer experience and increase product selection in-store. The store will remain open during the renovation.

Immigration Key To Labour Shortage

Immigration is the central solution to counter the impending labour market crunch, says the Conference Board of Canada. By 2030, all 9.2 million of Canada's Baby Boomers will have reached retirement age ‒ placing Canada under economic and fiscal pressure. The board’s report, ‘Can’t Go It Alone,’ shows that between 2018 and 2040, 13.4 million workers will exit the labour force, far greater than the 11.8 million that will leave Canadian schools to replace them. Due to its aging population and low fertility rate, Canada needs new sources of talent to enter the labour force to maintain its high living standards. Aside from immigration, improved participation rates could add 2.2 million workers to the labour force by 2040, including more women, Indigenous people, and persons with disabilities. However, immigration will remain a formative solution, accounting for all of Canada's net labour force growth ‒ 3.7 million workers ‒ and one-third of the economic growth rate between 2018 and 2040.

Residential Products Lead Trex Sales

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $180 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of five per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2018. Residential products net sales increased seven per cent to $165 million while commercial products contributed an additional $14 million, compared to $16 million in the year ago-quarter. Consolidated gross margin was 38.6 per cent for the quarter, representing gross margins of 40.2 per cent and 20.5 per cent, respectively, from the residential and commercial product segments. The company had net income of $32 million compared to $37 million in the year-ago period.

Renoworks Has Profit

Renoworks Software Inc. had revenue of $938,133 for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 20 per cent over revenue of $784,545 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Revenue for design services were $217,510 in the quarter versus $151,367 in the year-ago period.

May 6, 2019

Companies Not Prepared To Recover From Crises

The majority of Canadian companies say they aren't adequately prepared to recover their reputation in the aftermath of a crisis, a volatile and complex situation that interferes with an organization's ability to carry on normal business, says a 2019 crisis readiness survey by Provident Communications Inc. and Angus Reid Global. Less than half (40 per cent) of Canadian business decision-makers say their company has a reputation recovery plan included in their overarching crisis communications strategy, even though roughly 60 per cent say that damage to a company's reputation is the most difficult aspect of a crisis from which to recover. Other factors that are difficult for a company to bounce back from include a decline in morale and negative media coverage. Advance planning and preparation for potential crises is critical, says the survey.

RONA Val-des-Monts Opens Doors

Lowe’s Canada is celebrating the grand opening of the RONA Val-des-Monts affiliated dealer, located in Val-des-Monts, QC. The 22,000-square-foot building, which is almost double the size of the old store, boasts a 7,000-square-foot indoor lumber yard and a 60,000-square-foot drive-through outdoor lumber yard. This extra space allows the store to offer 10,000 additional products, for a total of 17,500 products for professional and retail customers. The store also offers estimating, cutting, and propane tank refill services, as well as delivery and online orders.

Marvin Merges With Integrity

Marvin Windows and Doors is merging with Integrity Windows and Doors for a brand that will be known as Marvin. The company has reorganized its product portfolio and developed several internal initiatives to continue developing new products. The Marvin brand now represents all fenestration products previously known as Marvin Windows and Doors and Integrity Windows and Doors, with both of those brand logos now retired. The refreshed Marvin brand logo includes a bold font and an updated yellow rose. The yellow rose was first used by Marvin in 1968 and is an identifiable icon for the company. The company now features three product collections – the Signature Collection, the Elevate Collection, and the Essential Collection. The company has also developed its in-house Marvin Design Lab which will help reshape its approach to innovation and define the company’s purpose and values.

Huttig Has Weak Quarter

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $197.4 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of 0.3 per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2018. Millwork product sales remained consistent in the quarter as compared to the first quarter of 2018; building products sales increased 2.9 per cent; and wood product sales decreased 18.6 per cent. The company had a gross margin of $37.4 million compared to $38.7 million year-over-year. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 18.9 per cent compared to 19.5 per cent a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $300,000 versus earnings of $1.4 million and the company had a net loss of $3.2 million versus a net loss of $500,000 last year.

Strong Revenue For Atlas Engineered Products

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) had revenue of $13.4 million for its seven-month 2018 year-end, which compares to revenue of $11.6 million in the 12-month previous year-end. The company has changed its fiscal year in order to better align its financial reporting with the calendar year and that of its industry peers. Gross profit for the seven-month year-end was $3.1 million compared to gross profit of $2.9 million in the previous 12-month year. Gross margin was 23.3 per cent compared to 24.8 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was ($658,423) versus $1.4 million and the company had a net loss of $1.3 million versus a net loss of $5 million in the previous year. AEP is a newly-listed company that acquires and operates Canadian truss and engineered products operations.

May 3, 2019

Walmart To Invest In Canadian Stores

Walmart Canada plans to invest over $200 million in its store network, with a focus on refurbishing and refreshing 31 stores across the country over the next year. These updates are the latest in a series of store investments, building on the retailer's $175 million in updates to its store network in its last fiscal year. Over the last five years, the company has invested over $1 billion in its Canadian store network. The investments will strengthen the company's extensive store network and provide a better in-store experience for consumers. The company will expand its fresh food Supercentre format to more locations and upgrade systems for a more seamless experience for customers ordering on the website and picking up at their local store.

Montreal Residential Sales Rise Strong

A total of 5,973 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA) in April, a significant increase of 11 per cent over April of last year, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). All six areas that make up the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales in April, with the South Shore leading the way with an 18 per cent jump in sales, followed by the North Shore (16 per cent), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (13 per cent), Vaudreuil-Soulanges (10 per cent), the Island of Montreal (six per cent), and Laval (one per cent). Sales increased for all property categories, led by condominiums at 17 per cent, then plexes at 12 per cent, and single family homes at six per cent. There were 21,111 active residential listings in the Montreal CMA in April, a 17 per cent decrease compared to one year earlier.

Lowe’s Canada Recognized For Sustainability Commitment

Lowe’s Canada was named a ‘2018 Leader in Sustainability’ by Call2Recycle Canada, a national consumer battery collection and recycling program. The annual ‘Leader in Sustainability Awards’ recognize organizations for their environmental commitment and collection of the highest volume of used batteries in 2018 through Call2Recycle. Lowe’s Canada’s corporate and affiliated dealer network across Canada collected over 100,000 kilograms of batteries, thereby contributing to the diversion of 2.7 million kilograms of batteries from Canadian landfills through the Call2Recycle program last year. In addition to recovering batteries, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Lowe’s stores also make recovery programs for fluorescent light bulbs and paint available to customers. In 2018, 3,061 tons of paint were recycled throughout the network. At a corporate level, Lowe’s Canada also recycles wood, building materials, plastics, cardboard, drywall, Styrofoam, and other waste resulting from its operations. It is also putting in place and enhancing energy efficiency and waste management programs to further reduce its environmental footprint.

Technology Plays Key Role In Customer Experience

The store is still a major part of the customer journey, with 79 per cent of consumers frequently purchasing merchandise in a store, says a report by BRP. ‘SPECIAL REPORT: The State of Store Technology’ shows that the point-of-sale (POS) or commerce platform plays a critical role in shaping the shopping experience. In fact, 96 per cent of customers say ease of checkout and payment are important when choosing where to shop. More than 55 per cent say that in-store technologies like self-checkout, product locator, inventory lookup, and endless aisle are important factors when choosing where to shop and 68 per cent are likely to choose a store offering ‘buy anywhere, ship anywhere’ services over one that doesn’t. As for retailers, 53 per cent are focused on adding additional capabilities to existing POS systems and 48 per cent plan to replace their POS within three years to improve the checkout experience. As retailers make decisions on new POS systems, 75 per cent indicate they plan to have cloud-based solutions within three years. Ninety-four per cent of retailers plan to address holistic customer engagement with the implementation of a single unified commerce platform.

KIOTI Ships First Zero Turn Radius Mowers

KIOTI Tractor, a division of Daedong-USA, Inc., has started shipping its inaugural Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) mower line to dealerships across North America. The mower line features 12 models across four series ‒ ZXR, ZXR SE, ZXC, and ZXC SE ‒ for commercial and residential applications. Engines range from 21- to 27-hp, with six models developed for professionals and six for property owners and hobby farmers. Consumers can choose from 48-, 54-, or 60-inch mower decks, each with a fabricated, reinforced 10-gauge steel deck and standard notch blades.

Heckes To Lead Masonite

Howard C. Heckes will be president and chief executive officer of Masonite International Corporation, effective June 3. He brings more than three decades of leadership, operational, sales, and marketing experience to the role. He currently serves as CEO of Energy Management Collaborative.

Installation Services Drive Lumber Liquidators Sales

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $266 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.7 per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2017. Net sales in comparable stores decreased 0.8 per cent year-over-year as a decline in merchandise sales was partially offset by the expansion of installation services. Gross profit decreased 1.4 per cent in the quarter to $94 million as compared to the comparable period in 2018. Gross margin decreased to 35.2 per cent from 36.3 per cent. The company had an operating loss of $3.4 million compared to an operating loss of $1.4 million in the year-ago period. Net loss was $4.9 million versus a net loss of $2 million.

Armstrong Net Sales Rise

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $242.1 million for the first quarter of 2019, a 6.5 per cent increase over net sales of $227.3 million in the first quarter of 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $54.7 million compared to $49.6 million, an increase of 10.3 per cent. Earnings from continuing operations were $36.4 million versus $41.2 million, a decrease of 11.7 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA increased 16.9 per cent to $92 million, year-over-year. Net sales for the mineral fibre segment increased 3.1 per cent year-over-year and net sales for the architectural segment increased 24 per cent.

May 2, 2019

Loyalty Program Keeps Canadian Tire Top Brand

Canadian Tire Corporation has been named Canada's strongest retail brand, scoring well in brand investment measures, as reflected in its successful brand promotion and marketing campaigns, says Brand Finance in its ‘Canada 100 2019’ report. CTC’s overall portfolio of brands, including SportChek and Gas+, is valued at $5.2 billion. With the successful acquisition of Helly Hansen, this number is only set to grow, the report says. The retailer’s loyalty and credit card program, Triangle, is part of the company’s strategy to attract new customers, increase engagement and relevance, and create more royal lifetime customers, says Susan O’Brien, senior vice-president of marketing at Canadian Tire. “We are putting the customer at the heart of our business strategy and decision-making, bringing them the latest and greatest products and engaging them through exciting marketing campaigns like ‘We Do New,’ which puts a spotlight on the hottest innovative products. We do believe our strength in building and marketing our owned brands has been key to helping reinvent the Canadian Tire brand over the years.”

CFIB Wants Carbon Tax Grant Details

Small businesses have gone a full month without information about the grants and rebates promised to them under the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which has been asking the government for details about the grants and rebates without answer. “Since April 1, the government has had time to allocate millions to big companies like Loblaws for retrofits, but small firms have heard nothing about the sliver of funding that was to be available to them,” says Dan Kelly, president, CFIB. “Small firms are already paying the tax and are reporting they'll have to absorb a majority of the new costs. This continued lack of clarity is adding to the unfairness of the situation.” He says nearly half of the revenues of the carbon tax will come from small businesses, but they can expect to receive just seven per cent back in the form of yet-to-be-determined grants and rebates. CFIB is asking the government to cancel the federal carbon tax and work with the four provinces on approaches to climate change that do not negatively affect small businesses, particularly before any consideration is given to expanding it to Alberta.

Initiative Seeks To Change How Building Products Are Sold

Paradigm, a software provider for the building products industry, is developing a data science initiative to help the way building products are sold. The product aims to help customers configure, price, and order exterior building products by visualizing them on their homes. By leveraging data from images of houses around the world, Paradigm's technology can identify exterior products on a house. Then, an image captured by a dealer or homeowner is transformed into a configurable picture that can be used to quickly and interactively pick, place, and price multiple options of building products. Paradigm is also pushing the technology to instantly, automatically, and accurately measure those products. The technology, although still being refined, should be available commercially this year.

SMBs Increase Sales Via Amazon.ca

More than 30,000 Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) collectively exceeded over $900 million in sales on Amazon.ca stores in 2018, including a 30 per cent increase in sales year-over-year during the November-December holiday period. In addition, Canadian SMBs had sales of over $2 billion to customers abroad in 2018, leveraging Amazon's sales tools and logistics services. In 2018, 45 per cent of the Canadian SMBs that sell in Amazon's stores also exported their products to the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the world. Amazon opened its shopping platform to selling partners in 2001.

Weyerhaeuser Has Net Loss

Weyerhaeuser Company had a net loss of $289 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease compared to net earnings of $269 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net sales were $1.6 billion, down from net sales of $1.9 billion in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $365 million versus $544 million. The timberlands segment had net sales of $556 million; the real estate, energy, and natural resources segment had net sales of $118 million; and wood products had net sales of $1.1 billion; all three up over the previous quarter.

Poor Performance Leads To 3M Restructuring

3M had sales of $7.9 billion for the first quarter of 2019. a decrease of five per cent over sales of $8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Total sales grew 0.3 per cent in healthcare, with declines of 1.9 per cent in consumer, 4.2 per cent in safety and graphics, 6.6 per cent in industrial, and 11.8 per cent in electronics and energy. Total sales grew 0.1 per cent in the U.S. with declines of 6.5 per cent in Latin America/Canada. Net income was $891 million versus $601 million. The company says that due to disappointing performance, it has stepped up actions, including restructuring, to drive productivity, reduce costs, and increase cash flow.

Conference Covers Brand-building

Point-of-sale software provider Lightspeed is holding a one-day conference, ‘Lightspeed Connect,’ to help independent retailers grow their businesses. The event will offer interactive sessions with industry experts, new technology demonstrations, networking opportunities, tips on how to grow a brand, and insights into the latest industry trends. A panel discussion will feature Montreal brands Off The Hook and Grumman 78 discussing the journey of growing their businesses. It takes place June 11 at the Gare Viger in Montreal, QC. For more information, visit Lightspeed Connect

May 1, 2019

Acquisitions Generate Revenue Growth

Entrepreneurs who acquire other businesses do so to grow, says a study by BDC. In fact, firms that acquired more than one business were 66 per cent more likely to have generated annual revenue growth of 10 per cent or more in the last three years. BDC’s report, ‘Buying a Business: A Winning Strategy to Purchase Another Company in Canada,’ finds that the key to a successful business acquisition is a well-structured process and good planning. Entrepreneurs who undertook a well-structured acquisition were 94 per cent more likely to become high-growth businesses three years after an acquisition than firms that did not follow such a process. Entrepreneurs identified securing financing and negotiating price and commercial terms among the most challenging aspects of an acquisition. Interestingly, 29 per cent of entrepreneurs found retaining key employees difficult, which is higher than the 18 per cent that mentioned negotiating purchase price was a challenge. The study covers the importance of a post-merger integration plan to overcome the challenges that follow an acquisition, with tips on how to deal with these issues.

Canada Needs National Standard On Wind Resilience

Canada needs a national standard on wind resilience to mitigate residential and small building property damage resulting from natural disasters, says a report from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). High winds contributed in part to most natural catastrophes recorded by the Insurance Bureau of Canada between 1983 and 2016. The May 2018 wind storm in southern Ontario and Quebec, followed by tornadoes in the national capital region in September 2018, for example, caused close to $1 billion in insured losses. Specifically, the report proposes measures for four major categories: roofs; walls and upper and lower storey connections; anchoring of the building to the foundation; and additional construction details such as garage doors. These measures could form the basis of a new ‘National Standard of Canada,’ which governments could incorporate into regulation, which could be integrated in the National Building Code or to which builders could adhere voluntarily thus raising the bar for construction in Canada.

McPhail Promoted To CFO

Richard McPhail will become vice-president and chief financial officer of the Home Depot, effective August 31. Currently, he is senior vice-president of finance control and administration. He has been with the company since 2005.

nVent Sales Flat

Electrical connection and protection solution provider nVent Electric plc had sales of $538 million in for first quarter of 2019, relatively flat compared to the year-ago period. Operating income for the quarter was $78 million, up 18 per cent over operating income of $66 million last year. Net sales rose one per cent for the enclosures segment year-over-year and decreased two per cent for the thermal management segment. Sales for the electrical and fastening solutions segment were flat.

Amazon.com Sales Up

Amazon.com, Inc. had net sales of $59.7 billion for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 17 per cent over net sales of $51 billion in the first quarter of 2018. North American sales were $35.8 billion compared to $30.7 billion. Operating income increased to $4.4 billion in the quarter, compared with operating income of $1.9 billion last year. Net income increased to $3.6 billion in the first quarter compared with net income of $1.6 billion in the year-ago period. EBIT was $1.9 billion versus $4.4 billion.

April 30, 2019

Retail Sales Growth Could Bottom Out

There is some indication that Canadian retail sales growth has hit bottom and may be at least steadying out, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. The latest unadjusted retail sales numbers from Statistics Canada for February show low growth, but not further weakening, as has been the case for the previous six months. The three-month trend is still scrapping bottom, but at least it might be getting past its low water mark. Total retail sales increased only 0.8 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending February, but most of the bad news was in December. The underlying 12-month trend is still soft, however, and it will need some time to recover even under favourable circumstances. A complicating factor is that gasoline prices are due to be on the rise this spring. This will make the overall retail statistics look better, but it won't really help most merchants. eCommerce represented about 3.5 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the three months ending February. eCommerce sales are up 13.2 per cent year-over-year; a relatively modest gain, but still significantly higher than for location-based retail.

Walmart Opens Smart Market

Walmart has opened an Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) in a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, NY. The IRL features artificial intelligence-enabled cameras, interactive displays, and a large data centre, all part of Walmart’s vision of the future of retail. The 50,000-square-foot store is a real-world shopping environment with 30,000 SKUs designed to explore the possibilities artificial intelligence can contribute to the store experience. IRL is set up to gather information about what’s happening inside the store through an array of sensors, cameras, and processors. The equipment will focus on product inventory and availability allowing store associates to use real-time information to explore efficiencies and know more precisely when to restock products. The technology will also be able to do other functions such as spot spills and identify when shopping carts are running low. IRL is currently in data-gathering mode with a focus on learning from the technology and not necessarily implementing changes to operations.

Noble Has New Role

Darrin Noble is vice-president, store operations and Burford Paint & Home Products, Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, he was vice-president, general manager Burford Paint & Home Products. He has more than 35 years of experience in the paints industry. This appointment comes as part of Home Hardware’s strategic reorganization of its marketing and sales division. Noble will lead store operations, which was previously sales, and Rob Wallace will continue to lead the marketing division in his role as senior marketing director.

Assa Abloy Sales Increase 16 Per Cent

Lock manufacturer Assa Abloy’s net sales increased by 16 per cent year-over-year to SEK21,505 million for the first quarter of 2019, with organic growth of five per cent and acquired net growth of three per cent. The company says it had strong growth in the Americas and global technologies and good growth in entrance systems. Operating income increased by 15 per cent for the quarter over the year-ago period and amounted to SEK3,246 million, with an operating margin of 15.1 per cent. Net income was SEK2,218 million compared to SEK1,964 million last year.

Flat Sales For Masco

Masco Corporation has net sales of $1.9 billion for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent compared to net sales in the first quarter of 2018. Gross margins for the quarter decreased 80 basis points to 31.4 per cent from 32.2 per cent in the year-ago period, while operating profit decreased 14 per cent to $211 million. Operating margins were 11.1 per cent, a decrease of 160 basis points when compared to operating margins of 12.7 per cent last year. The plumbing products segment net sales decreased three per cent year-over-year, the decorative architectural products segment net sales increased five per cent, the cabinetry products segment net sales increased nine per cent, and windows and other specialty products net sales decreased 16 per cent. Sales in the North American market increased one per cent year-over-year.

April 29, 2019

GTA Single-family Home Sales Continue Rise

The Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) new home market continued to show some encouraging signs in March with total new home sales of 2,314 homes sold, up 20 per cent from last year, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Although encouraging, this is still 36 per cent below the 10-year average. There were 886 new single-family homes sold in March, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses. This is the fifth month in a row that new single-family home sales have increased year-over-year. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units, with 1,428 units sold, were down 13 per cent from March 2018 and 34 per cent below the 10-year average.

U.S. Remodeling Index Down

National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) ‘Remodeling Market Index’ (RMI) posted a reading of 54 in the first quarter of 2019, falling three points from the previous quarter. Among its three major components, major additions and alterations fell seven points to 49, minor additions and alterations dropped one point to 55, and the home maintenance and repair component decreased three points to 56. The future market indicators dropped two points from the previous quarter to 54. The RMI has been consistently above 50 ‒ indicating that U.S. remodelers report market activity is higher compared to the prior quarter ‒ since the second quarter of 2013. The overall RMI averages current remodeling activity and future indicators.

Trex Aims To Grow Recycling Program

Trex Company has named its collection program – NexTrex – and is setting its sights on further growth of the program by expanding its base of participating retailers and consumers. Since 1992, the company has used recycled plastic film and reclaimed wood to create composite decking. Trex reclaims and repurposes more than 500 million pounds of plastic and reclaimed wood annually through a number of commercial partnerships and community programs. Among its largest sources are grocery stores and other retailers who partner with Trex to responsibly dispose of plastic shopping bags and polyethylene film used to wrap products and pallets. The program engages stores in both Canada and the U.S., including national chains such as Federated Co-op, Value Village, Savers, and Safeway, and recently reached a monumental milestone – one billion pounds of recycled material collected through participating retailers in this program. But Trex has its sights set even higher. With the new name, the company is formally branding the program in an effort to elevate awareness and further expand its reach by engaging even more retailers and collection sites.

Shopify To Launch Retail Hardware Collection

Shopify Inc. is launching a retail hardware collection, the Tap & Chip Reader, Dock, and Retail Stand. The Tap & Chip Reader combines all payment needs in a new design allowing in-store shoppers to choose how they pay. It connects to Shopify POS, which offers multi-channel inventory management, secure payments, and a consolidated backend that connects directly with a merchant’s online store. Along with the reader, the company is launching two accessories – dock to hold and charge the reader, and a retail stand that allows merchants to undock the tablet and walk around the store.

Sales Down At West Fraser

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1.2 billion for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease over sales of $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $110 million, or nine per cent of sales, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $379 million in the year-ago period. The lumber segment had operating earnings of $2 million and adjusted EBITDA of $84 million; the panels segment had operating earnings of $11 million and adjusted EBITDA of $15 million; and the pulp and paper segment has operating earnings of $1 million and adjusted EBITDA of $11 million.

Succession Planning Examined

When should you begin your succession planning will be discussed at the ESOP Builders ‘Business Transitions Forum.’ Topics will include preparing senior management for transition and the shift in leadership roles; ensuring the management team is well and independently advised; and strategies for partner buyouts. It takes place May 28 and 29 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Business Transitions

April 26, 2019

Atlantic Canada Leads Real Estate Growth

Residential real estate markets throughout much of Atlantic Canada are poised for solid growth in 2019 as economic performance ramps up, unemployment rates decline, and first-time buyer incentives at both provincial and federal government levels take hold, says a report by RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. The ‘RE/MAX Atlantic Canada Market Report’ finds strong momentum in the larger urban centres, as well as spillover in several smaller markets. Home sales are on par or up in just under half the markets surveyed, likely due to the current shortage of inventory. First-time buyers were a driving force in almost 70 per cent of markets surveyed and buyers from other parts of the country were active in 60 per cent of Atlantic Canada housing markets. Luxury sales were up in Halifax-Dartmouth and Kings County, NS, and Saint John, NB. RE/MAX says assistance programs introduced by provincial governments in Atlantic Canada in an effort to support home ownership are no doubt behind the surge in first-time homeowners. Also making home ownership more attractive, the federal government recently announced changes to its existing Home Buyer's Plan, allowing first-time buyers to withdraw $35,000 (up from $25,000) from their registered retirement savings plans to finance the purchase of a home. The federal budget also included a proposed Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) equity loan designed to provide financing of up to 10 per cent on new homes and five per cent on existing homes.

RONA Materiaux Pont-Masson Opens On Montreal Island

Lowe’s Canada is celebrating the opening of a sixth RONA Matériaux Pont-Masson affiliated dealer store. Located in the Montreal, QC, Pierrefonds-Roxboro district, across its store network it offers more than 40,000 products to bring to life customers’ home improvement and construction projects, big or small. “This new store fulfills our desire to better serve our customers on the island of Montreal and offer our expertise to more home builders, general and specialized contractors, and consumers in the Montreal area,” say Éric and Stéphane Bailey, the co-owners of the stores. The new store is approximately 94,000-square-feet and includes a 9,000-square-foot sales floor, a 15,000-square-foot indoor lumberyard, and a 70,000- square-foot outdoor lumberyard. It offers professional customers ‒ home builders and general, industrial, commercial, and institutional contractors ‒ access to a large assortment of services including a drive-through lumberyard where contractors can load their vehicles to save time; a personalized delivery service using a fleet of 60 delivery trucks; a dedicated contractor service desk with extended business hours to accommodate the schedules of professional customers; complete engineering and estimation services for all projects; a roof truss and beam assembly service; and a cut shop that is also available to retail customers. Founded by Richard Bailey, the company will be celebrating 40 years of business in August. Now run by his sons, Éric and Stéphane, it counts five others located in Quebec’s Valleyfield, Rigaud, and Mirabel and in Ontario’s Alfred and Casselman.

Fire Shuts Down Masonite Facility

A fire that broke out April 23 at a facility adjacent to a Masonite International Corporation plant in Stockton, CA, and spread to Masonite’s facility has closed the plant. The facility was severely impacted and, after assessing the damage, the company does not expect to restart it. The company operates two other cut-stock facilities, including an automated facility in Verdi, NV, and intends to increase production at those plants to mitigate the impact from the fire. Based on the current plans, customer impact, if any, is anticipated to be minimal. The company will continue to evaluate the impact on its operations as additional information becomes available.

Canfor Curtails BC Production Capacity

Canfor Corporation will temporarily curtail operations at all of its British Columbia dimension mills, effective April 29, due to low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre. The curtailment will reduce Canfor’s production output by approximately 100 million board feet. Canfor has 13 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.8 billion board feet.

Slight Gain In U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales were up one per cent in March, seasonally adjusted from February, and up 0.8 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation NRF. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. As of March, the three-month moving average was up 2.6 per cent over the same period a year ago. March’s results make up for a revised monthly loss of 0.8 per cent seen in February and build on February’s year-over-year gain of 2.5 per cent. Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.7 per cent year-over-year but up 0.3 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted, while furniture and home furnishings stores were down one per cent year-over-year but up 1.7 per cent month-over-month. Online and other non-store sales were up 9.2 per cent year-over-year and up 1.2 per cent month-over-month.

Ashton Named CFO

Jason Ashton is chief financial officer with Tyman plc, an international supplier of engineered components to the door and window industry. Most recently, he was interim group chief financial officer of Nomad Foods Limited.

Stanley B&D Net Sales Rise

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.3 billion for the first quarter of 2019, up four per cent over net sales of $3.2 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 33.2 per cent, down approximately 300 basis points versus the prior year. EBITDA was $194.8 million compared to $251.8 million and net earnings were $170.4 million compared to $170.1 million. The tools and storage segment net sales increased three per cent year-over-year, the industrial segment net sales increase 10 per cent, and security net sales declined one per cent.

April 25, 2019

Motor Vehicle Segments Drive Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales increased 0.3 per cent to $63.7 billion in February, the third consecutive monthly gain, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in two of seven subsectors, led by the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales declined 1.5 per cent. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.3 per cent. Following two consecutive monthly gains, the building material and supplies subsector decreased 5.3 per cent to $8.8 billion, the lowest level since January 2018. Declines were recorded in two of three industries, led by the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry. The inventory-to-sales ratio fell slightly from 1.43 in January to 1.42 in February. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Canadian Style Influence Design

The designs for Canadian Tire’s ‘Backyard Living’ were influenced by the unique sense of style that Canadians have, says Tracy Platt, its resident style expert. Its preview of products to make backyards into comfortable living areas was a trek across Canada which showed the biggest trends coming to backyards this summer from coast-to-coast. With more than 90 per cent of its new products designed in Toronto, ON, one focus was to help homeowners make better use of their space. With spaces getting smaller, the products were designed as sets. However, single pieces could be bought from each set so homeowners can customize their backyards through lots of mixing and matching, she said. They are also modular so they can fit the different shapes of people’s backyards. Products featured included fire tables which are complimentary to the different designs, a dining table that can be lowered to become a coffee table, barbecues, sectionals, and accessories like pillows and dinnerware which come in the currently trending primary colours.

Moneris Launches Terminal Software

Debit and credit card payment processor Moneris Solutions Corporation has launched proprietary software – Moneris Core – that will power its payment terminals. Available on Moneris' newest countertop devices, the Verifone V400c and Ingenico Desk/5000 and the wireless Ingenico Move/5000, the application delivers a consistent merchant and consumer experience during a payment transaction. Moneris offers a bilingual experience across point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Core controls the terminal settings, payment functions, reporting, and enhanced security features on the device. It has a full-colour interface with intuitive icon screens similar to everyday smart devices. Merchants can customize the homepage with common functions for faster access during payments. The application leverages the Moneris Cloud for enhanced features like text and eMail receipts and extends remote terminal management and transaction reporting from the device to Merchant Direct.

Calgary Store Carries Sansin Exterior Finishes

Calgary, AB-based The Cedar Shop now carries Sansin Corporation’s full line of interior and exterior wood protection products. To showcase the Sansin products and commemorate the grand opening of its 53,000-square-foot facility, The Cedar Shop is holding a public event on May 3 and 4 where a Sansin wood specialist will be available to answer question and help customers with their wood finishing projects.

Hayes Manages Roseburg Businesses

Gary Hayes is business manager of softwood plywood and lumber businesses at Roseburg Plywood And Lumber. Previously, he was business manager for distribution.

UFPI Has Record Quarter

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) had operating profit of $48.5 million for the first quarter of 2019, a 30 per cent increase over operating profit in the first quarter of 2018. Net earnings for the quarter were $35.5 million, up 28 per cent year-over-year. EBITDA was up 25 per cent to $65. 9 million on net sales of $1.02 billion, a two per cent increase over the year-ago period. Lower lumber prices reduced gross sales by five per cent. The retail segment gross sales were down three per cent year-over-year, while industrial gross sales were up 15 per cent and construction gross sales down three per cent.

April 24, 2019

Renovations Drive Residential Construction Investment

Total investment in building construction increased in February, up 3.8 per cent from January to $15.3 billion, says Statistics Canada. This increase was primarily due to investment growth of 5.4 per cent to $11 billion in the residential sector. The non-residential sector remained unchanged at $4.4 billion. The increase in total residential investment was driven by strength in multi-unit dwellings which were up 8.4 per cent to $5.5 billion, while investment in single family homes rose more modestly by 2.6 per cent to $5.5 billion. The gain in residential investment was primarily due to renovation work, up $1.1 billion from the previous year.

Decorworld Carries Sansin Exterior Finishes

Vernon, BC-based Decorworld Paint & Window Coverings now carries Sansin Corporation’s exterior line of wood finishes. To showcase products and celebrate Decorworld’s 10-year anniversary, the store will host a breakfast for local contractors on April 26. There will be an introduction to Sansin and a product demonstration. Afterward, a Sansin wood care specialist will answer questions about the products. In the afternoon, the event will be expanded to include the store’s retail customers with door prizes and product promotions. Sansin’s exterior finishes come in a range of colours from naturals and saturated to solid hide. The products can be custom-tinted at Decorworld.

USG And Knauf Acquisition To Move Ahead

USG Corporation and Gebr. Knauf KG (Knauf) have received all required regulatory approvals and clearances needed to close the previously announced acquisition of USG by Knauf.

Walmart Hosts First WEConnect Forum

On April 23, Walmart Canada and WEConnect International hosted the first ‘WEConnect International Supplier Forum’ in celebration of Canadian women-owned enterprises. The event took place at the Walmart Store Support Centre in Mississauga, ON, and featured presentations from Judith McKenna, president and CEO, Walmart International; Lee Tappenden, president and CEO of Walmart Canada; and Sarah Thorn, senior director, global government affairs, Walmart Inc. More than 100 Canadian women attended the event which included network opportunities and interactive pitch sessions with Walmart buyers.

Roseburg Restructures Commercial Segment

Roseburg Forest Products has restructured its commercial organization under Ashlee Cribb, senior vice-president – chief commercial officer. The restructure was designed to improve agility, effectiveness, and collaboration among the company’s sales teams and to better position the company to achieve its strategic objectives. New roles include Jim Buffington as business general manager; Tom Wardach as director of national accounts; and Phil Pierot as business director, composites and decorative, with business responsibility for particleboard, medium density fiberboard, TFL, and hardwood plywood. Dawn Garcia, director marketing, and Rick Whitmore, interim leader of supply chain and logistics, will join Cribb, Buffington, and Wardach to lead the commercial team.

Sherwin-Williams Has Slight Gains

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $4.04 billion for the first quarter of 2019, in increase of 1.9 per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2018. The increase was primarily due to a new customer program launched in 2018, higher paint sales volume in North American stores, and selling price increases. Net sales in the Americas group increased 3.6 per cent to $2.15 billion in the quarter. Segment profit as a per cent of net sales decreased in the quarter to 15.4 per cent from 16.2 per cent last year. Net sales of the consumer brands group decreased 0.3 per cent to $654.5 million in the quarter. Segment profit as a percentage of net external sales increased in the quarter to 13.4 per cent from 11.3 per cent last year.

April 23, 2019

Non-building Drives U.S. Construction Starts

New U.S. construction starts in March advanced 16 per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $809.2 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The substantial gain followed a lackluster performance during the first two months of 2019, as total construction starts in March were able to climb back to a level slightly above the average monthly pace during 2018. The non-building construction sector jumped 40 per cent in March from a weak February, the non-residential building sector advanced 24 per cent, while residential building slipped three per cent, as multi-family housing retreated for the second consecutive month. During the first three months of 2019, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $164.5 billion, down 10 per cent from the same period a year ago. The March data produced a reading of 171 for the index, up from 148 in February, and one per cent higher than the full year 2018 average for the index at 170. At the same time, the index during the first quarter of 2019 dropped six per cent from the fourth quarter of 2018, as it was pulled down by the sluggish volume of construction starts during January and February.

Beattie Represent Roland Boulanger & Cie

Dean Beattie, and his team at On Mark Sales Ltd., has been appointed to represent Roland Boulanger & Cie ltee for building material retailers in Ontario. He has 19 years of experience in the building materials industry, specializing in sales, marketing, and customer service.

Retailers Forecast To Spend Big On AI

Global spending by retailers on artificial intelligence (AI) services will reach $12 billion by 2023, up from an estimated $3.6 billion in 2019, says a report by Juniper Research. It expects more than 325,000 retailers to adopt AI technology over the period. The report, ‘AI in Retail: Segment Analysis, Vendor Positioning & Market Forecasts 2019-2023,’ says AI use by retailers will unlock efficiencies across back office operations. Advanced analytics employed in functions such as demand forecasting, automated marketing, and smart checkouts will make retailers more agile and improve margins. The report says demand forecasting will be essential to enable an effective omnichannel experience and drive higher margins. It forecasts that retailers will face an AI adoption race, where AI-equipped retailers, which have adopted systems as early movers, will displace slower moving retailers, offering superior service at optimized price points.

Muise Takes On Western Ontario

Steve Muise is territory sales manager for western Ontario with Isoloform Group. Previously, he was project co-ordinator and inside sales representative at Vicwest.

Strong Earnings Increase At Whirlpool

Whirlpool Corporation had earnings or $471 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase over earnings of $94 million in the first quarter of 2018. First-quarter net sales were $4.8 billion, compared to $4.9 billion in the same prior-year period. EBIT was $393 million, or 8.3 per cent of sales, compared to $151 million, or 3.1 per cent of sales. The North American segment had net sales of $2.5 billion, flat over the year-ago period. The segment has EBIT of $312 million, or 12.3 per cent of sales for the quarter, compared to $288 million, or 11.4 per cent of sales.

April 22, 2019

Slight Gain In February Retail Sales

Following three consecutive monthly declines, retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February to $50.6 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in five of 11 subsectors, representing 73 per cent of retail trade. Higher sales at general merchandise stores and motor vehicle and parts dealers were the main contributors to the increase. After posting gains in December and January, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 1.6 per cent; despite this decline, sales remain above the level in November. Retail sales at electronics and appliance stores were down (3.5 per cent) for the third consecutive month. Retail sales were led by Manitoba (2.2 per cent), Quebec (1.6 per cent), Ontario 1.5 per cent, and Saskatchewan (1.3 per cent). British Columbia retail sales were down 1.9 per cent. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.4 billion in February, accounting for 3.3 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 23.8 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 2.1 per cent.

U.S. Remodeling Spend To Continue Deceleration

Annual gains in improvement and repair spending on the owner-occupied housing stock in the U.S. are projected to continue decelerating through early next year, says the ‘Indicator of Remodeling Activity’ (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA forecasts that year-over-year growth in homeowner remodeling expenditure will slow from about seven per cent today to 2.6 per cent by the first quarter of 2020. Cooling house price gains, home sales activity, and remodeling permits are behind the forecast. However, more favourable mortgage rates could still give a boost to home sales and refinancing this spring and summer, which could help buoy remodeling activity, says the centre.

MegaSales To Represent Cathelle

MegaSales and Marketing has been appointed as the sales representative for southern Ontario for Cathelle, an electrical and plumbing retail services provider.

Strategist Shares Trends For Marketers To Watch

Indoor air quality, cleanliness, aspirational consumers, and deep connections are some of the key areas where the Trend Bible has identified shifts and themes, says Naomi Pollard, senior trend strategist for the Trend Bible. Speaking at the International Housewares Association’s ‘2019 International Home + Housewares Show,’ she said marketers don’t need to know and offer all the trends. “You can make small changes, subtle changes that can offer huge returns if you get them right,” she says. Some key areas to keep an eye on, however, include the healthy home due to an increasing concern for indoor air quality; the joy of cleaning, which has been elevated to an artform; consumers that are much more aspirational than in the past that will respond to marketing directed at living the lives they want to live; and deep connections in a world of declining spirituality, where a breed of wellness gurus is emerging.

DBI Launches Web-based Retail Analytics Platform

Data Based Intel (DBI) has launched a proprietary retail analytics platform that enables retailers and vendors to manage point-of-sale (POS) data with instantaneous access to analytics and reports that provide visibility into product performance to drive dynamic business decisions. The platform will help companies access real-time information about inventory and sales to help manage and predict consumer demand, inventory levels, rate-of-sale, and pricing trends. The web-based system can also forecast inventory needs based on historical, current, and expected weather conditions to help identify opportunities for sales channels and product lines. The platform captures EDI 852 and other retail data from a variety of sources, cleans it, analyzes it, and provides retail analytics dashboards and reports. It requires no IT infrastructure.

Klein Tools Launches Pocket Screwdrivers

Klein Tools has launched two multi-bit pocket screwdrivers – the four-in-one Electronics Pocket Screw Driver and the three-in-one HVAC Pocket Screwdriver. Both feature concealable tips and a pocket clip for carrying and a rotating cap for control. An interchangeable barrel offers a short and long side for versatility and the steel bits have heat-treated precision ground tips.

Lawson Products Sales Up 8.2 Per Cent

Lawson Products, Inc. has sales of $91.3 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 8.2 per cent over sales of $84.4 million in the first quarter of 2018. Average daily sales also increased 8.2 per cent year-over-year. Operating income for the quarter was $5.5 million, compared with $1.8 million in the first quarter last year. Adjusted EBITDA was up 45.6 per cent to $7.5 million, while net income was $4.1 million versus $1.2 million last year. Margin was 8.2 per cent for the first quarter, up 210 basis points compared to margin of 6.1 per cent in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $48.9 million compared to $46.2 million.

April 18, 2019

Competing Banners Come Together To Buy Canadian

Ten competing banners – ACE, BMR, Castle, Home Hardware, Lowe’s, Patrick Morin, Réno-Dépôt, RONA, TIMBER MART, and Unimat – have come together to encourage Canadians to buy hardware and building products that are made in Canada. ‘Well Made Here/Bien fait ici’ is a not-for-profit organization under a federal charter, belonging jointly to the banners and professional associations that created it in October 2018. The objective is to share information to do-it-yourselfers and contractors that make it easy to find out about products’ quality, materials, and where they were manufactured at Canadian plants. On April 17, the organization distributed five million leaflets about the program at 2,404 affiliate and corporate stores at the founding banners. The logo will also now appear on print and web flyers from each participating banner. Competitors have set aside their habitual rivalries to provide reliable information to consumers, says Richard Darveau, chairperson of the new organization and president and CEO of AQMAT. For manufacturers’ products to use the logo, they must first be accredited and demonstrate that 51 per cent or more of their manufacturing costs are incurred in Canada, excluding R&D, design, and freight. They must also meet construction code rules and several other prevalent industry standards. For more information, visit Well Made Here/Bien fait ici

SMBs Might Be Leaving Tax Money On Table

Many Canadian entrepreneurs and small business owners don't understand how their business structure can impact the tax-filing process and many are leaving money on the table, says a survey by Ownr, an online tax platform. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of the registered business owners find the process of filing their company taxes to be confusing, but also admit they haven't taken advantage of any applicable tax benefits including the Small Business Tax Deduction, tax deferral, or income splitting. The survey also shows that many Canadians are unsure how the structure of their business affects their taxes, despite the fact that these distinctions can result in highly varied annual tax savings. Approximately one in four business owners confirm they have little to no understanding of how registering or incorporating their business affects their taxes. As well, 71 per cent of non-registered business owners expect the tax filing process to be confusing, half are unfamiliar with any available tax benefits, and two-thirds are unsure if running a registered business will impact their personal finances.

Stanley B&D Opens Centre Of Excellence

Stanley Black & Decker has opened an ‘advanced manufacturing centre of excellence,’ called ‘Manufactory 4.0,’ in Hartford, CT, to serve as the epicentre for the company’s global Industry 4.0 ‘smart factory’ and workforce upskilling initiatives. The 23,000-square-foot facility will also be an innovation hub for the local region and home of the company’s STANLEY+Techstars additive manufacturing accelerator program. The company currently operates more than 100 manufacturing facilities globally. It has three locations designated as ‘Lighthouse Factories’ that have partially implemented Industry 4.0 across their facilities from manufacturing execution systems (MES) to 3-D printing, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. With the support of the Manufactory 4.0 initiatives, the company plans to update an additional 25 facilities to ‘Lighthouse Factories’ by the end of the year.

Home Sales Remain Strong In Montreal

A total of 13,028 residential sales were completed in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in the first quarter of 2019, a six per cent increase compared to the first quarter of 2018, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This is the 18th consecutive quarterly increase in sales. This is also the best first quarter sales result in nine years. Among the three property categories, condominiums led the way with a 10 per cent jump in sales, while single-family home sales increased four per cent, and plexes with two to five dwellings fell one per cent. All of the main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase except for the Island of Montreal. Active listings fell for a 15th consecutive quarter, with an average of 21,880 properties for sale on the Centris system in the Montreal CMA. This represents a 15 per cent drop compared to the first quarter of last year.

Contactless Takes Top Spot In Card Payments

For the first time, contactless accounted for the majority of card present transactions in Canada, says the ‘MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report’ by Moneris Solutions Corporation. The first quarter of 2019 saw contactless grow nearly 25 per cent year-over-year to account for 51.5 per cent of total transactions. Overall credit and debit card spending saw moderate growth of 2.5 per cent. For the first time since MonerisMetrics began reporting on spending trends in 2012, contactless (tap) accounted for 51.5 per cent of all card present transactions, a 24.7 per cent increase year-over-year. Prince Edward Island leads the charge in this trend with a 59.2 per cent increase. Manitoba (58.2 per cent), Nova Scotia (55.2 per cent), and Ontario (54 per cent) followed closely. Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest growth rate, at -2.9 per cent.

RH Chooses Adyen For Payments

Luxury lifestyle retailer RH has selected global payments platform Adyen as its omnichannel payments partner. Adyen has a global footprint which enables companies to process all major card brands, along with local payment methods from around the world. As well, Ayden says the partnership with RH further bolsters its presence in the U.S. retail market.

April 17, 2019

Manufacturing Sales Edge Down

Manufacturing sales edged down 0.2 per cent in February to $56.6 billion, following a 0.8 per cent increase in January, says Statistics Canada. The largest declines were in the motor vehicle assembly and wood products industries. However, these decreases were largely offset by gains in the petroleum and coal product, paper, and machinery industries. Excluding motor vehicle sales, manufacturing sales were up 0.2 per cent. Sales were down in 15 of 21 industries, representing 65.9 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. In volume terms, manufacturing sales decreased 0.5 per cent in February. Wood product sales declined 5.9 per cent to $2.5 billion as a result of widespread decreases in the industry. Several wood product manufacturers indicated that they received lower orders as demand and housing starts in Canada and the U.S. declined in February. Sales were down in six provinces, led by Ontario and Saskatchewan. This was mostly offset by higher sales in Quebec and New Brunswick. Inventory levels increased for the third consecutive month, rising 0.5 per cent to $85.8 billion for the month.

Strong Residential Sales In Quebec

A total of 23,667 residential sales were concluded in Quebec in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of eight per cent compared to the first quarter of 2018, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). This was the 19th consecutive quarterly increase in sales. Sales of single-family homes rose seven per cent, condominiums rose 12 per cent, and plexes rose one per cent year-over-year. Geographically, the areas of Joliette (51 per cent), Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts (39 per cent), Amos and Drummondville (36 per cent), La Tuque (35 per cent), and Rawdon (33 per cent) stood out with the largest increases in residential sales. As for the province's six census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Trois-Rivières registered the largest increase in sales at 24 per cent, followed by Saguenay at 17 per cent. The Gatineau CMA also performed well, posting a 16 per cent rise in sales. Transactions in the Québec City, Montréal, and Sherbrooke CMAs also held their ground with respective sales increases of eight per cent, six per cent, and five per cent. The number of properties for sale continued its downward trend, as supply fell for a 13th consecutive quarter.

Lambert Peat Moss Gets Government Contribution

The government of Canada’s Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) has awarded $1.9 million in financial assistance to Lambert Peat Moss. The Bas-Saint-Laurent, QC-based company is receiving the repayable contribution to ensure its growth so it will be able to improve its productivity through the adoption of advanced automated technologies and develop new high-value-added horticultural products. Lambert will optimize its facilities in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Côte-Nord, QC, regions and acquire more technological and efficient production equipment. Lambert Peat Moss is a fourth-generation family-owned business developing sphagnum peat moss-based horticultural products that increase the growth of crops (flowers, vegetables, fruits, grasses, trees, and shrubs). The company operates six production plants in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Côte-Nord, and Saguenay regions. It also has a distribution centre for the U.S. market in Beloeil, near Montreal.

T-Rex Products Available In Canada

A full range of T-Rex tape products are now available in Canada. They include T-Rex Brute Force Tape, designed for projects that require intense strength, durability, and holding power; T-Rex Extreme Tread Tape, an industrial-quality non-slip tape that improves surface traction with a multi-layer grit; T-Rex Waterproof Tape, for adhesion under wet and dry conditions; and T-Rex Clear Repair Tape, ideal for repairs over a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions.

NCI, Ply Gem Form Cornerstone Building Brands

NCI Building Systems, Inc., which recently merged with Ply Gem Building Products, will operate as Cornerstone Building Brands, effective May 24. The name represents the company’s unified commitment to business transformation that will drive future growth and effectively serve customers and communities across North America. The term ‘cornerstone,’ which is the foundation upon which something greater is built, refers to and emphasizes the essential role the company’s products and solutions play in residential and commercial projects. Cornerstone will offer a comprehensive product portfolio of windows, vinyl siding, insulated metal panels, metal roofing and wall systems, and metal accessories.

LaRonde Appointed DC Manager

Mark LaRonde is distribution centre manager for TIMBER MART, responsible for the Mount Forest, ON, facility. He has experience in sales, operations, and business development and has worked at Wellsco International and PrimeSource.

Saniflo Canada To Exhibit At MCEE

Macerating and grinding toilet and drain pump dealer Saniflo Canada will be exhibiting at the MCEE show in Montreal, QC. Team members will be on hand to demonstrate how products offer solutions. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the inner workings of a Saniflo grinder pump at the company’s functioning display. The Sanibest Pro is an advanced grinder system designed for both home and commercial use. MCEE is a trade show held every two years for those whose work involves building mechanics, electricity, or lighting. It takes place April 24 and 25 at Place Bonaventure in Montreal, QC. For information, visit MCEE

April 16, 2019

Fourth Quarter Retail Sales Flat

Retail sales in Canada increased 0.7 per cent year over year to $157.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, says Statistics Canada. Sales of hardware, tools, renovation, and lawn and garden products were flat, with a decrease of 0.1 per cent. Total sales for the segment were $10,142 million compared to sales of $10,148 in the year-ago period. Sales of home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics were down 0.6 per cent to $15,465 million year-over-year, while sales of miscellaneous products were down 0.9 per cent to $5,551 million.

March Home Sales Edge Higher

National home sales edged higher in March after a sharp decline in February, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales edged up 0.9 per cent month-over-month in March while actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 4.6 per cent year-over-year, the weakest level for the month since 2013. Among Canada's larger cities, activity improved in Victoria, BC; and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Oakville-Milton, and Ottawa, ON; whereas it declined in Greater Vancouver, BC; Edmonton, AB; Regina and Saskatoon, SK; London, St. Thomas, and Sudbury, ON; and Quebec City, QC. “It will be some time before policy measures announced in the recent federal budget designed to help first-time homebuyers take effect,” says Jason Stephen, president of the CREA. “In the meantime, many prospective homebuyers remain sidelined by the mortgage stress-test to varying degrees depending on where they are looking to buy.”

Business Sentiment Falls

Canadian business sentiment has fallen from elevated levels as companies point to uncertainty around global trade, the housing sector, and the energy industry, says a survey by the Bank of Canada (BoC). The central bank’s measure for business sentiment dropped from its near-record heights last year into negative territory for the first time since the third quarter of 2016. The previous survey of around 100 senior managers delivered a more-upbeat reading based on a November poll taken as oil prices started to decline. The current survey was conducted between late February and early March. The latest report comes after Canada saw an abrupt economic deceleration in the final three months of 2018 as oil prices tumbled. Stephen Poloz, BoC governor, says the economy needs a longer stimulative boost from low interest rates to help it overcome domestic and global challenges. He predicts the country’s recent economic weakness to only be temporary. Companies expect sales to remain positive, however, even though they were softer than a few month earlier due to less optimism about future demand. The survey also suggests previous concerns about labour shortages have eased, although firms still say it is more challenging to find workers than it was 12 months earlier.

Consumers Don’t Know How To Start Outdoor Projects

Nearly one-third of Americans postpone outdoor projects because they don’t know where to start, finds the ‘Spring Yards Survey’ by the Home Depot. Confidence is key in tackling any project, while more DIY knowledge is the next biggest factor in getting outdoor projects done, says the retailer. The survey shows Millennials are the age group most interested in keeping up their yards so their kids have a safe place to play (32 per cent) and pets have a fun place to explore (31 per cent). Of those who maintain their outdoor spaces primarily for entertaining, Millennials top the list at 39 per cent, followed by Gen Z (36 per cent). More than half of consumers (56 per cent) say the biggest reason for maintaining their outdoor space is to enjoy them privately with those closest to them. As well, those with an outdoor deck, on average, spend seven hours a week outside; two more than those who do not.

Federal Brace Launches Accent Lighting System

Federal Brace has launched its Eco-Lucent LED White Light System for hardwire applications. This lighting system is for under-counter, under-cabinet, in-cabinet, and closet applications for accent lighting in the kitchen, bathroom, and office. The system is made up of LED light bars installed in extruded aluminum housings and frosted covers for defused, decorative accent lighting. It also allows for ‘daisy chaining’ of LED light bars on a single transformer. The lighting system is sold separately from the full installation kit.

Hirsch Everhart Named Chief HR Officer

Robin Hirsch Everhart is senior vice-president, chief human resources and transformation officer with Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. She will be responsible for all human resources functions and will play an integral role by ensuring a strong linkage between the company’s transformational goals and its HR programs. She joins LP from Cintas Corporation.

Thousands Of Items On Auction In Edmonton

Ritchie Bros.’ annual spring auction will feature equipment from hundreds of companies across western Canada. The five-day auction will have more than 10,000 equipment items and trucks to sell, including skid steers, dozers, loaders, cranes, flatbed trucks, winch tractors, and boom trucks. Bidders can visit the website to check out the items available and visit the site or bid online. There will be no minimum bids or reserve prices. The event takes place April 30 to May 5 in Edmonton, AB. For more information, visit Richie Bros. Spring Auction

April 15, 2019

RESCON Pleased With Ontario Budget

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is pleased with the Ontario provincial government’s focus on removing barriers to housing supply and the prioritization of skills within the education and post-secondary systems. RESCON has advocated for a reduction of development costs and streamlining of the lengthy development approvement process. Further, the budget builds on the government's strong promotion of the skilled trades in Ontario and RESCON shares the values reflected that allow for training and certification between trades through portable skills training. The residential construction industry is a major source of employment in the province and driver of the economy. RESCON appreciates the government's commitment to making it easier for young people, job seekers, and those starting a second career to enter the skilled trades.

Quebeckers Want To Buy Older Homes And Renovate

Despite tighter mortgage rules, rising interest rates, and rising property prices, 23 per cent of Quebec households intend to buy a residential property in the next five years, says a survey by Quebec’s association of professional homebuilders (APCHQ), the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB), and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Most plan to buy existing homes as these are perceived as more affordable than buying new construction. Of these, 65 per cent plan to renovate and spend an average of $14,500 on their upgrades. Of new homeowners who recently completed renovations, nearly one-third did so to improve the energy efficiency of the property. Single-family homes are the most popular type of housing with 65 per cent of Quebeckers who plan to buy looking at this type of property. That proportion is 69 per cent for Millennials.

WTO Makes Ruling On Softwood Tariffs Calculations

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has made a ruling that says the U.S. violated international trade rules with the method it used to calculate tariffs on Canadian imports of softwood lumber. However, the WTO also approved an outlawed U.S. trade policy that allows Washington to use ‘zeroing’ to calculate anti-dumping tariffs. In the past, the WTO condemned the process. Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrysia Freeland, says Canada may appeal the decision. Both countries have 60 days to appeal. The dispute over softwood lumber tariffs has been going on for more than 30 years.

Leviton Expands Control App

Leviton has launched an expanded version of the My Leviton app to consolidate control of the Leviton Load Center and Decora Smart Wi-Fi product lines. The app provides streamlined management of load centre and lighting operation. The interface enables users to schedule, monitor, and receive notifications in real time for residential electrical system management. Users can now also control load centre activities and home lighting from anywhere in the world using their smartphone or tablet. The app can also be linked to voice assistant partners including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Nest to create a smart home eco-system.

Aluminum Window Profile Market Poised For Growth

The global aluminum window profile market was valued at US$698.41 million in 2017 and is forecast to grow to $991.34 million by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2 per cent, says Coherent Market Insights. Aluminum windows are preferred in construction sector, owing to various benefits such as reduced heat effect, durability, lightweight nature, and smoother opening and closing of windows. However, use of aluminum windows causes heat loss and interior condensation which is expected to restrain growth of this market. Among window types, the single hung windows segment accounted for the largest market share in 2017. This type of window is used for commercial and residential applications. Key players in the global aluminum window profile market are focusing on product launches pertaining to single-hung windows, which is expected to boost growth of the segment.

April 12, 2019

MacNab To 'Build Out' Home Hardware

Strengthen in-stocks to make better availability of product, strengthen marketing to make it more profitable, and strengthen digital tools offered to dealer-owners are just some of the ways Kevin MacNab, president and chief executive officer of Home Hardware Stores Limited, wants to "build out" the business of Home Hardware. MacNab, who was appointed to the role in October of last year, has been a customer and fan of the retailer for years. In 2007, when he sat on the board of the Retail Council of Canada, he was impressed by Walter Hachborn, co-founder of Home Hardware, whom he met when Hachborn was awarded RCC's 'Lifetime Achievement Award.' "What I took away from that was tremendous inspiration from his journey of building Home Hardware. He was a great leader." Since that time, MacNab always believed there was significant opportunity to build the business out and strengthen the retail presentation. "A real strength of Home Hardware is the dealer-owner model. It's an incredible strength to have dealers who are owners and entrepreneurs in over 1,000 local communities across Canada. It's an incredible penetration across the country and the service model is excellent." MacNab adds that the retailer is growing and is currently hiring across a range of departments to add skillsets and increase support to the dealer-owners. He has more than 30 years of retail experience including, most recently, as president of international at Toys 'R' Us Inc.

Walmart Canada Joins Move To Reduce Emissions

Walmart Canada will join Project Gigaton, a Walmart effort to reduce emissions from global supply chains. First launched by Walmart Inc. in the U.S. in 2017, Project Gigaton seeks to reduce emissions by a gigaton – or one billion metric tonnes – by 2030. To date, more than 1,000 suppliers from 40 countries have formally signed on to the project. More than 200 of Walmart's Canadian suppliers – including Maple Leaf Foods, Spin Master Toys, Unilever Canada, and Agropur Cooperative – have already made Project Gigaton commitments. Removing one gigaton of emissions from global value chains is equivalent to the reduction of the emissions from 211 million average passenger vehicles in a year. That's more than five times the total number of vehicles registered in Canada in 2017.

Changing Social Norms Affect Home Design

Changing social norms will shape home décor and design in ways that could not have been imagined a decade ago. Legalization of cannabis, for example, will see accessories for using the herb move into the mainstream as decorative pieces, says Vicky Sanderson, publisher of the home and lifestyle website 'Around the House.' "For years, we've looked on stylish bar carts, cut-crystal glasses, and vintage cocktail shakers as décor. Now, you could just as easily see a beautiful grinder on the coffee-table." There are signs retailers are making the same bet; in the U.S., Barneys New York opened a luxury cannabis accessories shop in its Los Angeles location. In Canada, 48North Cannabis Corp. ‒ a licensed producer with facilities in Kirkland Lake and Brantford, ON ‒ is rolling out a line that includes brass grinders and ceramic porcelain pipes. But, while consumers become cool with cannabis use for both recreation and wellness, they're increasingly uneasy about buying home-related products made under questionable ethical standards. For some retailers ‒ even those with high standards ‒ the conversation with consumers may be a challenge, because there are so many ways to measure what's ethical, says Sanderson. "Consumers want to do what's right, to buy ethically-made products and to re-use and re-upholster when possible. The brands that respond to that will have the advantage in the house and home décor landscape."

CertainTeed Donates Insulation For Homes For Heroes

CertainTeed Canada has partnered with Darren Resch and his team at Total-R Inc. to provide the insulation that the Homes For Heroes Foundation needs to build a village of tiny homes for homeless military veterans in Calgary, AB. The Homes For Heroes Foundation is a program that assists with the re-integration of military veterans into civilian life through affordable housing and a support structure. CertainTeed R40 and R24 Sustainable Insulation will be installed in the attic and walls of each of the homes. Sustainable Batt Insulation acts as both thermal and acoustical insulation and is ideal for floors, walls, and ceilings. All CertainTeed insulation products improve building energy efficiency, helping to lower energy costs throughout the life of the structure. Homes for Heroes first development will open this summer. It will feature 16 tiny homes, a resource centre, councillors' office, family suite, community gardens, public park, and a memorial tribute to soldiers lost in Afghanistan. Homes for Heroes is community project with funding provided by Canadian businesses, individuals, charities, foundations, and associations.

nVent Launches Upgraded Heating Mat

nVent Electric plc (nVent), a global manufacturer of electrical connection and protection solutions, has launched an improved nVent RAYCHEM QuickNet heating mat. Combining existing innovations with updated features, the QuickNet mat is designed to shorten installation times and improve ease-of-use for installers, distributors, and end-users. The mat features an improved adhesive mesh that bonds to subfloors more securely and makes installation easier in irregularly shaped rooms. It can now also be used to provide heat for wood flooring, as well as tiles, parquet, and laminate. As well, the mats are now compatible with a greater range of thermostats and the upgraded packaging is more space-efficient.

April 11, 2019

Windsor Home Hardware Named Store of the Year

Windsor Home Hardware was awarded the annual ‘Walter J. Hachborn Store of the Year Award’ by Home Hardware Stores Limited. The award was presented to Jeff Redden, dealer-owner of Windsor Home Hardware, for epitomizing the values on which Home Hardware was co-founded by Walter J. Hachborn over 50 years ago – value, service, and dependability. Now in its 22nd year, the award pays tribute to the top store selected from close to 1,100 stores across Canada for achieving the highest standards in retailing, merchandising, staff performance, and overall quality and service. Six stores from the dealer network received the ‘Proud of My Home Award:’ Windsor Home Hardware – Windsor, NS, ‘Best Hardware Store Over 6,000-square-feet;’ Beausejour Home Hardware – Beausejour, MB, ‘Best Home Hardware Under 6,000-square-feet;’ Cobourg Home Hardware Building Centre – Cobourg, ON, ‘Best Home Hardware Building Centre Over 15,000-square-feet;’ Blind River Home Hardware Building Centre – Blind River, ON, ‘Best Home Hardware Building Centre Under 15,000-square-feet;’ GP Home Furniture – Chilliwack, BC, ‘Best Home Furniture Store’; Theo Bandstra, Smithers Home Hardware – Smithers, BC, ‘Best Young Retailer,’ and Pioneer Home Hardware Building Centre – Campbell River, BC, Paul Straus Public Relations Award.

RONA Rated Most Admired

RONA ranks as the number one most admired home improvement company in Quebec by Leger, a research and marketing firm, in its ‘2019 Leger Reputation Study – Most Admired Companies in Quebec.’ The banner also ranks among the 25 most admired companies in all industries in the province. To make its determination, the study assessed financial strength, social responsibility, honesty and transparency, quality of products/services, innovation, and attachment. A new component was added this year that considers the importance of the employer brand in a company's reputation and the ambassadorial role that employees play in terms of corporate culture. The results of the study are based on an electronic survey of more than 30,000 adult respondents conducted from December 2018 to February 2019. Leger measured the reputation of 319 companies from 31 sectors.

Modest Gain In Montreal Home Sales

There were a total of 5,710 residential sales in March in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), a modest one per cent increase compared to March 2018, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). Nevertheless, this was the 49th consecutive monthly increase in sales. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the South Shore, the North Shore, and Vaudreuil-Soulanges all posted solid results with respective sales increases of 21, seven, five, and four per cent. In contrast, the Island of Montreal posted a six per cent drop in sales, while sales in Laval fell by one per cent. The number of single-family home transactions (3,203) in the Montreal CMA was unchanged compared to March of last year, while the number of condominium transactions (2,079) increased by five per cent and the number of plex transactions (422) fell by five per cent. In March, there were 22,430 active residential listings in the area, a 15 per cent drop compared to last year.

Eldorado Stone Adds Colour Palettes

Stone veneer manufacturer Eldorado Stone has launched two colour palettes for its Vintage Ranch profile – Dawnwood and Stratuswood. Dawnwood, which presents a whitewashed beige barn wood, and Stratuswood, a warm-toned and earthy gray, expand upon the colour offerings already available – doverwood, foxwood, parchwood, and saddlewood.

RIDGID Launches SeeSnake Camera Line

RIDGID has released a line of SeeSnake cameras powered by TruSense technology. TruSense establishes a two-way datalink path between the camera head and a connected RIDGID SeeSnake CSx series Wi-Fi enabled monitor. With TruSense, advanced sensors on the camera head convey information about the in-pipe environment. The cameras include a high dynamic range (HDR) image sensor that expands the visibility range and allows the user to see far down the pipe as well as the image just in front of the camera’s lights. The product also has TiltSense, an on-camera inclinometer that measures the angle. The SeeSnake cameras are available in self-leveling models and come with RIDGID’s full lifetime warranty.

Construction Drives Global Drywall Market

The global drywall market is forecast to reach a value of 15 billion square meters by 2024, says a report by EMR. The North American construction market, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of four to five per cent over the next few years, is one of the key drivers of the drywall market. In comparison with other wall materials like plaster and solid wood, gypsum boards are non-combustible, cheaper, and lighter. As a result, drywall is popular for constructing interior walls and ceilings of houses. It is used in the residential sector to improve the aesthetic appeal and manage interior temperature through thermal insulation, providing flexibility in creating and dividing spaces which enables quick and seamless interior customization options. Drywall is extensively used in the building industry across the commercial and residential sectors. A rising focus on incorporating sustainable green building materials which reduce overall expenses is also contributing to the market growth.

April 10, 2019

Residential Building Permits Decline

Canadian municipalities issued $7.8 billion worth of building permits in February, down 5.7 per cent from the previous month, says Statistics Canada. The decline was largely due to lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings. The value of permits for residential buildings declined 8.5 per cent to $4.9 billion, the lowest level since April 2017. The decrease was largely the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario and British Columbia. Despite the monthly decline, the value of multi-family permits has shown notable strength over the past year. Municipalities issued $2.9 billion worth of non-residential building permits in February, edging down 0.5 per cent from the previous month. The decline stemmed from lower values of commercial permits which dropped $114 million. These had posted sharp increases in November and December. The value of institutional permits rose 11.6 per cent, the first increase in five months.

Home Hardware Market Draws Thousands

Home Hardware Stores Limited’s ‘2019 Spring Market’ drew more than 10,000 visitors to St. Jacobs, ON, who came to see the latest products and trends and take part in show deals, tours, and presentations. This year marks the 56th year of the bi-annual markets. More than 3,000 dealer-owners and staff, representing close to 1,100 stores from across Canada, traveled thousands of kilometres to attend the market. The market houses exhibits and representatives from vendors to demonstrate products, introduce new products, and take orders. It also contained a full model store with the latest in store design, signage, display, and merchandising techniques. This was the first market since the appointment of Home Hardware’s new CEO, Kevin MacNab, who was on-hand to meet and speak with visitors.

Square Expands Online Store Platform

Payments and point-of-sale provider Square now offers its revamped Square Online Store that offers Canadian small business owners tools to start or grow an omnichannel business. The product is integrated with Weebly, a platform for building a website or online store. Square acquired Weebly last year. The store allows sellers to grow their business with an eCommerce website and integrated tools including shoppable Instagram galleries and in-store pickup. The platform allows users to customize layout for all channels.

Royal Building Products Adds To Cedar Renditions Line

Royal Building Products, a Westlake Company, has added a 4″ profile, three solid colours, and two woodgrain colours to the Cedar Renditions by Royal Design Series, its aluminum siding line for residential and light commercial projects. The 4″ profile has a flat face which features a seamless overlapping notch on each end, allowing coverage greater than 12 feet. The product will be offered in Cedar Renditions traditional colours: amberwood, charwood, and cedar bark, as well as the new solid colours: ironstone, charcoal, and gray. Timberline and riverwood are the two multi-tone woodgrain colours that have been added to the Design Series 6″ profile.

Digital Critical For Paint Brands

Although a majority of paint customers are making purchases in-store, Generations Y and Z are more likely to make their paint purchases online than Baby Boomers or Pre-Boomers, says a study by J.D. Power. The ‘2019 U.S. Paint Satisfaction Study’ also shows that satisfaction among those who purchase online is higher than those who went in-store for purchases. “Paint brands are challenged by the need to provide consultative experiences for in-store customers, while catering to the technologically reliant younger generations who want to buy paint online,” says Christina Cooley, director of the at-home practice at J.D. Power. “Channeling more resources into their websites ‒ while maintaining current in-store experiences ‒ will only help paint brands in the long run.”

WD-40 Sales Flat

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $101.3 million for the second quarter of 2019, relatively constant compared to net sales in the second quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $15.9 million, an increase of seven per cent compared to the prior-year fiscal quarter. Gross margin was 55.4 per cent compared to 55.1 per cent. Net sales in the Americas decreased two per cent in the quarter primarily due to lower sales of maintenance products, which decreased one per cent year-over-year. Net sales of maintenance products and homecare and cleaning products remained relatively constant year-over-year.

Roberts To Lead Travis Perkins

Nick Roberts is chief executive officer of Travis Perkins, the parent company of British DIY chain Wickes, effective August 5. Previously, he was with Atkins, an engineering consultancy.

April 9, 2019

March Canadian Housing Starts Steady

The trend in housing starts was 202,279 units in March, compared to 202,039 units in February, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) housing starts trended higher in March, but were down 16 per cent for the quarter over last year. Row starts in Calgary, AB, were up 48 per cent for the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago. The Toronto, ON, CMA total housing starts trend rose in March as higher trending condominium apartment starts offset the decline in low-rise starts. Meanwhile, just over 5,000 starts were enumerated in the Montreal, QC, CMA during the first quarter of 2019 ‒ a 10-year high. Starts in Halifax, NS, also continue to rapidly expand as construction on the multiples market recorded one of the strongest first quarters on record. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 192,527 units in March, up 15.8 per cent from 166,290 units in February.

Lowe’s South Regina Recognized For Diversity

Lowe’s Canada banner store, Lowe’s South Regina was awarded the ‘Paragon Award’ in the diversity category from the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce. The store and its team were recognized for nurturing, through different activities and policies, a culture that encourages diversity in the workplace. “We are really proud to accept this award in recognition of our team’s positive attitude, openness, and acceptance,” says Cheryl Ginter, store manager. “We celebrate our employees’ diversity in everything we do, from our communications to our special activities, and even with our customer service. Because of our team’s diverse background, we have a better understanding of our customers’ different cultures and can more adequately meet their home improvement needs.” The award was presented at the Chamber’s 2019 gala held April 5.

LeafFilter Opens Fourth Canadian Office

LeafFilter North, LLC, a subsidiary of Leaf Home Solutions, has opened its fourth location in Canada, in Vancouver, BC. The location also marks LeafFilter’s 58th office opening in North America. As one of Leaf Home Solutions' two patented solutions subsidiaries, the other being sister company Leaf Home Safety Solutions, LeafFilter offers homeowners direct-to-consumer end-to-end gutter protection solutions. The LeafFilter system features a patented, surgical grade stainless steel micro filter to prevent gutters from clogging.

Henkel Adhesives Opens OEM Lab

Henkel Adhesive Technologies has opened its OEM Application Center in Rocky Hill, CT. The lab expands Henkel’s capabilities to deliver innovative solutions and design customized applications, technologies, and production processes to better serve its customers’ needs. The lab also incorporates audio visual and interactive telepresence systems, which enable more rapid collaboration and virtual demonstrations with OEM customers, distributors, and process operators. This helps to further bolster productivity and increase awareness and knowledge of new applications. The Rocky Hill facility is the third lab of its kind for Henkel, with two other labs located in western Europe and Asia-Pacific, and was modified to meet the diverse customer needs of the region.

Waterhouse Leads Grabber

Robert Waterhouse is president and chief executive officer of Grabber Construction Products, part of the Dot Family Holdings group of companies. With 33 years of experience, he comes to the company from L&W Supply, a distributor of gypsum wallboard and building materials.

RPM Growth Initiative On Target

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.14 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.4 per cent over net sales of $1.1 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Net income was $14.2 million versus $40.2 million in the year-ago period, while IBT was $4.5 million compared to $34.7 million year-over-year. EBIT was $26.3 million compared to $56.7 million and adjusted EBIT was $46.9 million. The industrial segment sales increased 2.1 per cent to $580.9 million from $569.2 million last year, with EBIT of $13.9 million compared to $23.3 million. The consumer segment sales increased six per cent to $385 million from $363.4 million last year, with EBIT of $23.3 million versus $29.3 million. The specialty segment had sales increased 2.7 per cent to $174.7 million from $170.1 million last year, with EBIT of $17 million compared to $22.7 million.

April 8, 2019

Strong Rise In Quebec Online Shopping

Online shopping accounted for $10.5 billion in Quebec in 2018, up 27 per cent from 2017, says research organization CEFRIO in its report, ‘Electronic Commerce in Quebec.’ The report shows that 64 per cent of Quebec adults made at least one internet purchase in 2018, an increase of six per cent compared to 2017, with an average monthly shopping basket of $293, an increase of seven per cent compared to the previous year. “Among the different age groups in the study, the largest increase in the percentage of those who buy online was observed among those aged 45 to 54, with an 11 per cent rise from 61 per cent in 2017 to 72 per cent in 2018,” says Claire Bourget, senior director, marketing research. Free delivery was cited (by 84 per cent) as one of the most important factors in choosing an eCommerce store. Eighty per cent of shoppers say being able to return items purchased online to a store or point-of-sale is important. As well, 72 per cent of Quebec shoppers checked the inventory of a store online before going to the physical store. Fifty-six per cent of Quebec adults used their mobile phone device in-store to search for information, which represents an 18 per cent increase from 2017. In this context, Quebec adults mainly use their mobile device to search for product information (50 per cent), to ask for an opinion from family on a product by sending a photo to them (38 per cent), and to compare the prices with those of the competitors (37 per cent).

Uptick In U.S. Non-residential Buildings

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 0.5 per cent in March to 145.5 from the revised February reading of 144.8. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The March uptick was due to a 2.8 per cent increase in the commercial component of the index, while the institutional component fell three per cent. The overall index has essentially moved sideways and stayed within a very narrow band of activity since the fall of last year. This is highly indicative of where building markets currently are at this late stage of the construction cycle. While economic growth is expected to ease from 2018’s strong pace, relatively healthy real estate markets fundamentals and continued support for public projects such as a schools and transportation terminals should enable planning activity to remain close to recent levels for the near term.

Castle Holds AGM In Hilton Head

Castle Building Centres Group held is ‘56th Annual General Meeting’ in Hilton Head Island, SC, in March. Over 400 guests – including Castle shareholders, vendor partners, and their families – enjoyed an action-packed week of events and presentations on- and off-site. Ken Jenkins, president, and James Jones, vice-president of national marketing, gave presentations and the keynote speaker was comedian and TV-show host Rick Mercer.

Home Société Opens Toronto Store

Home Société has opened a store in Toronto, ON, in the Castlefield Design District. The home goods store was created by Maison Corbeil, Jardin de Ville, and Must, a collective of Canadian designers in high-end furniture and decor. The 80,000-square-foot showroom features interior and exterior furniture, décor, and accessories both made-in-Canada as well curated from around the globe.

McCartney Joins TIMBER MART

Barry McCartney is senior commodity trader, Ontario, with TIMBER MART. He has more that 25 years of experience trading lumber, plywood, and OSB products in Ontario with companies such as Taiga Building Products and Tembec. TIMBER MART’s lumber-trading team now consists of six commodity traders located across the country.

Sales Down At HBC

HBC had sales of $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, down 1.4 per cent over sales of $3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. DSG (Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor, and Home Outfitters) comparable sales decreased 5.2 per cent. After the quarter closed, the company announced the closure of Home Outfitters and a leadership transition at Hudson’s Bay. Gross profit as a percentage of sales was 36.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared to 38.7 per cent in the same quarter a year ago. The company had earnings of $512 million versus $84 million last year, while adjusted EBITDA was $187 million versus $216 million.

April 5, 2019

Condos Lead Ottawa Home Sales

A total of 1,511 residential properties were sold in March in Ottawa, ON, says the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB). This is a decrease of 8.6 per cent over 1,654 sales in March of last year. March sales included 1,136 in the residential property class, a drop of 12.4 per cent from a year ago and 375 in the condominium property class, an increase of five per cent from March 2018. The five-year average for March unit sales is 1,402. OREB says lack of inventory is responsible for the deficiency, manifesting in significant days-on-market (DOM). Residential DOMs were down 14 per cent, and condo DOMs were down 36 per cent over last year. With high demand and limited supply, prices will continue to be pushed upwards.

Retailers Turn To Private Label For Profitability

Nine out of 10 retailers price their private label products lower than the average prices of their respective categories, says a study from DataWeave, an eCommerce solutions provider. In line with the finding, the study reveals that an increasing number of retailers view private label brands as a way to ensure sustained profitability. Faced with intense competition, a number of retailers are doubling down on private labels to capture valuable additional margin. As well, product assortment is emerging as a driver that's as critical as pricing when it comes to customer retention. A sharp assortment strategy customized to local tastes and preferences is key to sustaining and enhancing customer satisfaction when it comes to house brands. The study finds ‘home’ is one of the leading categories in the distribution of private label products.

CRAFTSMAN V60 Outdoor Power Equipment Now Available

CRAFTSMAN’s V60 Cordless System of outdoor power equipment is now fully available at retailers across Canada and the U.S. Six cordless tools, including the V60 Cordless 21-inch three-in-one Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Kit, V60 Cordless 15-inch Brushless Weedwacker String Trimmer With Quickwind Kit, V60 Cordless Brushless Axial Blower Kit, V60 Cordless 16-inch Brushless Chainsaw Kit, V60 Cordless 24-inch Hedge Trimmer Kit, and V60 Cordless 21-inch three-in-one Push Mower Kit, offer homeowners cordless options for their yardwork. Most of the products in this system are VERSATRACK compatible. VERSATRACK is a wall organization system that allows users to organize and store common items found in garages as well as other CRAFTSMAN products.

Students Win Prizes From Gray Tools

Centennial College student Ethan Eddy is the grand prize winner of Gray Tools’ ‘Student Contest,’ an interactive online competition for full-time post-secondary students enrolled in a trade program. Eddy received a Gray Tools master set. Centennial College – Ashtonbee Campus won the prize for the school with the most students enrolled in the contest. It received a $2,500 gift card redeemable at ShopGrayTools.com. The contest is part of Gray’s efforts to engage with its fastest growing customer segment, which started with the launch of Gray Tools student program last year. The program gives full-time students enrolled in Canadian vocational and trade schools access to industrial quality tools at a discounted price.

Schmitz Becomes Chief Accounting Officer

Thomas D. Schmitz is vice-president and chief accounting officer with Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. He has been with the company for more than 14 years in several financial roles, most recently as corporate controller.

Acquisitions Affect Richelieu Canadian Sales

Richelieu had sales of $226.2 million in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of two per cent over sales of $221.9 million in the first quarter of 2018. In the manufacturers market, sales were up 5.3 per cent to $192.3 million, while sales to hardware retailers, including renovation superstores, dropped 13.5 per cent to $33.9 million. In Canada, Richelieu had sales of $143.7 million, a decrease of 0.2 per cent over the first quarter of 2018, of which 0.6 per cent originated from acquisitions. Richelieu began its fiscal year 2019 with the acquisition of Lion Industries, Blackstone Building Products, and Truform Building Products, three specialty hardware distributors serving window and door manufacturers in western Canada and Ontario. EBITDA for the quarter was $17.4 million, down 12 per cent year-over-year, and EBITDA margin was 7.7 per cent versus 8.9 per cent last year. Net earnings were down 20.3 per cent

All Areas Of Home Improvement Covered At NS Home Show

The ‘2019 Colchester County Home Show,’ presented by Truro and the Colchester Chamber of Commerce, will feature 100 exhibitors in categories for every home improvement project. This year will also have the demo stage all three days of the event for presentations and seminars on topics from painting to landscaping projects and more. The event takes place April 5 to 7 at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Colchester, NS. For more information, visit the Colchester Home Show

April 4, 2019

GTA Home Sales Remain Flat

A total of 7,187 residential sales were completed in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in March, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). The result was in line with the 7,188 sales reported in March 2018. Sales were down one per cent compared in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2018. While March sales remained relatively flat compared to last year, new listings declined more so than sales, down by 5.1 per cent year-over-year, while first quarter new listing were down 1.5 per cent. TREB says the OSFI mortgage stress test impacted the market while the lack of supply of listings remains a problem.

Industry Veteran Inducted Into Hall Of Fame

Terry Davis, retired president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited; Solly Feldman, founder of Accent Fairchild Group; and Dennis Nykoliation, retired president and general manager of Black & Decker Canada, president and CEO of CanWel Building Products, and president and general manager of GSW Building Products; were inducted into the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association’s (CHHMA) ‘Industry Hall of Fame’ at the organization’s ‘2019 Spring Conference Centre.’ The hall was established in 1984 to recognize the achievements of the home improvement industry’s leaders and pioneers. Since that time 68 industry icons, inventors, business founders, and builders from the retail and manufacturing sectors have received the honour.

Warehouses Turn To Robots For Efficiency

By 2025, more than four million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses worldwide, up from just under 4,000 robotic warehouses in 2018, says data from ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm. The rapid rate of adoption will be driven by the need for flexible, efficient, and automated eCommerce fulfillment as same-day delivery becomes the norm. Automated guided vehicles (AGV) and autonomous mobile robots (AMR) goods-to-person systems can directly replace heavier mechanized automation that typically requires massive upfront investment and rigid physical infrastructure. Thanks to innovation in computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and robotic mechanics, robots are also becoming increasingly adept at performing traditionally harder-to-automate tasks. Economically viable mobile manipulation robots now enable a wider variety of individual items to be automatically picked and placed within a fulfillment operation. By combining mobile robots, picking robots, and even autonomous forklifts, fulfillment centres can achieve greater levels of automation in an efficient and cost-effective way.

Investment Fund Invests In TAMKO

Global investment fund Carlyle Global Partners (CGP) will become a long-term strategic minority investor in the asphalt roofing and building materials businesses of TAMKO Building Products. CGP is the long-duration investment fund of the Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. TAMKO says the partnership will position it, now and over the long-term, for faster growth and success. The company’s composite decking business, which is based in Missouri and manufactures products such as the Envision composite decking line, will continue to be owned and operated as a stand-alone business exclusively by the Humphreys family.

Gundersen Joins World And Main

Eric Gundersen is senior director, home environment, with World and Main, a distribution company. For over 20 years, he has worked in the field of product management and earned his experience and knowledge in companies such as American Standard, Masco Bath, and, most recently, Blanco America.

Steady Sales Increase For Acuity Brands

Building management solutions and lighting manufacturer Acuity Brands, Inc. had net sales of $854.4