Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


May 30, 2017

Research Community Offers Market Insights

Market insights firm Maru/Matchbox has partnered with the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) to establish the ‘Angus Reid Business Forum,’ a best-in-class market research community. Under the agreement, CFIB members will be invited to participate in online surveys to provide true business-to-business insights to help shape the business environment around them. “There's an enormous demand among users for access to surveys that sample the kind of business opinion that can power real insight. We're creating a uniquely powerful community and making it available to companies across Canada who want to get informed feedback on product development, marketing programs, and other important initiatives,” says Rob Berger, managing director, market communities at Maru/Matchbox. Membership in the forum is by invitation only and all members are validated as being business owners through their membership with CFIB.

Lowe’s Converting BC RONA

The Langford, BC, RONA Home and Garden store will be the second RONA big box location to convert to the Lowe’s banner. The store will undergo an extensive renovation and re-merchandising and is expected to be completed by fall 2017. The renovation will include construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and remerchandising, branding, and IT conversion. The company is also providing extensive training to staff on new product knowledge and customer service. The new store will feature 73,349 square feet of retail sales space, an adjacent garden centre with 28,315 square feet, and an outdoor lumberyard with 24,155 square feet, and a covered (drive-thru) lumberyard with 14,217 square feet. It will remain open during the conversion.

Google Comes To Whirlpool Appliances

Whirlpool Corporation is partnering with Google to bring voice-control capabilities through the Google Assistant on Google Home to smart home appliances launching across Whirlpool Corporation's portfolio of brands. Google Home compatibility will be introduced in more than 20 Jenn-Air and Whirlpool brand models this year, starting with Jenn-Air connected wall ovens. By interacting with the Google Assistant on Google Home devices and remotely enabling their appliances, consumers will be able to remotely operate their appliances in a variety of ways through voice commands. For example, they will be able to set time and temperature on ovens, check how much time is remaining on the microwave, check the temperature and filter status in the refrigerator, and operate dishwashers via voice control.

Doyle Receives Achievement Award

Andy Doyle, president and CEO of the American Coatings Association (ACA), has been presented with the ‘2017 Roy Kennedy Outstanding Achievement Award’ from the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA). The award is CPCA’s highest honour and is given annually to an individual who epitomizes Roy Kennedy’s dedication to the paints and coatings industry and his outstanding volunteer service to the association and its members. Doyle joined ACA (then the National Paint & Coatings Association) in 1979 and shortly thereafter began leading the association’s efforts to advance the needs of the paint and coatings industry. He has been a longstanding member of CPCA’s board of directors and works closely with CPCA on a range of cross border issues.

Dollar Tree Sales Rise

Dollar Tree, Inc. had consolidated net sales if $5.29 billion for the first quarter of 2017, a four per cent increase from $5.09 billion in the prior year's first quarter. Enterprise same-store sales increased 0.5 per cent. Gross profit increased 4.7 per cent to $1.63 billion in the quarter compared to $1.55 billion in the prior year's first quarter. As a percentage of sales, gross margin increased to 30.8 per cent compared to 30.6 per cent in the prior year. Operating income decreased 7.1 per cent to $388.8 million, or 7.4 per cent of sales, compared with $418.7 million, or 8.2 per cent of sales, in the same period last year. Net income decreased $32.2 million compared to the prior year's first quarter to $200.5 million. During the quarter, the company opened 164 stores, expanded or relocated 51 stores, and closed 16 stores. Retail selling square footage at quarter-end was approximately 113.7 million square feet.

May 29, 2017

Strong Gains In Digital Commerce Forecast

Users of digital commerce services will reach three billion by 2021, or 40 per cent of the global population, up from 32 per cent in 2017, says a study from Juniper Research. ‘Digital Commerce: Key Trends, Sectors & Forecasts 2017-2021’ finds that two core sectors will dominate the global digital commerce industry, in terms of transaction values: remote payments for digital and physical goods and digital banking via bill payment services. These segments together will account for over half of global transaction values by 2021. Remote payments for digital and physical goods is forecast to account for more than 10 per cent of the $20 trillion global retail market in 2017. Businesses will gain advantage through use of automated customer experiences. With product search and discovery a key stage in the shopper journey, merchants must adopt conversational interfaces to drive customer engagement and, ultimately, sales. Juniper found that by 2021 the surge in chatbot use will result in positive gains throughout the digital commerce market.

Sherwin-Williams Gets Regulatory Approval

The Sherwin-Williams Company has received regulatory approval from the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Canadian Competition Bureau (CCB) to complete its acquisition of the Valspar Corporation. The FTC and CCB were the only remaining regulatory approvals required to close the acquisition. Sherwin-Williams expects to close the acquisition on June 1, subject to customary closing conditions.

InReality Increases Scope

InReality has merged with strategic consulting firm ADVIA Partners and software development firm Cenique. The combined company will operate under the InReality brand with a focus on delivering a best-in-class software and services company. “With our combined global operations, we expect to expand our offerings and accelerate our rapid pace of innovation,” says Lisa Cramer, vice-president sales and marketing. The new company helps brands reinvent consumer interaction and maximize the consumer journey in-venue through its software platform, real-time analytics, responsive content, and personalized experiences.

Brodin To Lead IKEA Group

Jesper Brodin will be president and CEO of IKEA Group (INGKA Holding B.V. and its controlled entities), effective September. He is currently managing director of IKEA of Sweden, responsible for the development of the product range and supply chain.

Sears Income Strengthens

Sears Holdings Corporation had net income of $244 million for the first quarter of 2017 compared to a net loss of $471 million for the first quarter of 2016. Adjusted net income was a loss of $230 million compared to a loss of $199 million. The company had revenues of $4.3 billion for the first quarter of 2017 versus revenues of $5.4 billion for the year-ago period. Sears comparable store sales in the U.S. decreased 12.4 per cent in the quarter. Gross margin decreased $247 million compared to the prior-year first quarter.

May 26, 2017

GTA Sees Strong New Home Demand

In April, demand for new homes in the Greater Toronto, ON Area (GTA) continued to outpace supply, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). There were 4,680 new homes sold in the GTA in April, an increase of seven per cent from a year ago. Year-to-date sales of new homes in the GTA have been exceptionally strong. In the first four months of this year, 17,977 new homes were sold, 24 per cent more than during the same period in 2016, and 48 per cent above the 10-year average. Meanwhile the supply of new homes, the number of homes available to buyers in builders' inventories at the end of the month, continued its unabated decline. At the end of April, there were only 9,387 new homes available to buyers across the entire GTA. This is the first time that overall inventory has dropped below 10,000 units since BILD and Altus Group began tracking such data more than a decade ago. A year ago, there were 21,056 new homes available for purchase in builders' inventories.

Rayonier Acquires Tembec

Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. plans to acquire Tembec Inc. Rayonier says the combined company will establish Tembec as part of a larger, more competitive organization with the resources to invest in its growth and position Rayonier Advanced Materials as a stronger, more balanced company with a further diversified customer and operational base. The company expects to retain Canadian headquarters in Montreal, QC, a presence in Ontario, and continue all Tembec operations. It will also proceed with Tembec's recently announced four-year investment plan for its Québec facilities and make additional investments in other key facilities and operations to further enhance the company's growth potential and competitiveness.

Fund Invests In Self-powered Furnace

The Natural Gas Innovation Fund (NGIF) will invest $162,900 in iGEN Technologies to support the testing and demonstration of a self-powered natural gas furnace called the i2 Hybrid Smart Furnace. The i2 furnace uses natural gas to generate electricity and heat for use in the home. Built in Canada for the North American market, the self-powered furnace is a retrofit and new install ready replacement for existing residential natural gas furnaces. The production of both heat and electricity gives the unit a price advantage over conventional high efficiency furnaces. It also unit provides critical power supply during a power outage and the unit boasts an overall efficiency that is greater than existing high-efficiency furnaces. Based on average Canadian electricity costs, typical savings for a household using an i2 are up to $400 annually, all with a unit priced comparably to top of the line conventional furnaces, while delivering GHG reductions.

Revenue Soars For Hardwoods Distribution

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. had first quarter 2017 revenue of $257.1 million, a 63.3 per cent increase over first quarter revenues in 2016. Gross profit for the quarter grew by 72.2 per cent to $48.3 million and gross profit margin increased to 18.8 per cent, from 17.8 per cent last year. EBITDA climbed 48.4 per cent to $14 million. The company generated a first quarter profit of $7.9 million, a 71.7 per cent increase compared to 2016. During the quarter, the company acquired Eagle Plywood and Lumber. Also, the Rugby acquisition in July 2016 contributed $93.7 million to first quarter sales.

ROCKWOOL Has First Quarter Gains

ROCKWOOL International A/S had a first quarter sales increase of six per cent in local currencies compared to the first quarter of 2016. EBIT increased by 11 per cent to €46 million, equal to an 8.6 per cent EBIT margin. Net profit for the quarter was €32 million, an improvement of €4 million over the year-ago period.

May 25, 2017

Lowe's Earnings Decline

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $602 million for the first quarter of 2017 compared to net earnings of $884 million in the first quarter of 2016. Sales for the first quarter increased 10.7 per cent to $16.9 billion from $15.2 billion in the first quarter of 2016, and comparable sales increased 1.9 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. business increased two per cent. Gross margin was 34.4 per cent of sales for the quarter, compared to 35.04 per cent in the year-ago period.

New Housing Investment Rises Nine Per Cent

New housing construction investment totalled $4.2 billion in March, up nine per cent compared with March 2016. This gain was mainly the result of a $252.6 million increase in investments in Ontario, says Statistics Canada. Nationally, higher investments were observed for the four main types of dwellings. The biggest gain was observed in spending on single-family dwellings, rising $265.8 million to $2.2 billion. This accounted for just over half (51.8 per cent) of total spending on residential construction in March. Investments in apartment building construction totalled $1.4 billion for the month, accounting for one-third (33.4 per cent) of total spending. At the national level, investments in this type of dwelling edged up 0.2 per cent from March 2016. Five provinces posted increases for this type of dwelling, led by British Columbia ($70.3 million), while the other provinces reported declines, with Alberta falling by $52.7 million and Ontario down $17.2 million compared with March 2016. Investments of $438.7 million in new row housing construction represent an increase of 14.4 per cent compared with March 2016 levels. For this type of dwelling, eight provinces posted increases, led by Ontario with a $52.5 million gain year over year. Eight provinces saw higher spending in new housing construction compared with the same month a year earlier.

Strong Online Sales Forecast In U.S.

The online retail market in the U.S. is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of close to 16 per cent during 2017 to 2021, says a report by Technavio. The availability of easy and secure online payment options, facilities to track shipments, 24/7 customer support, and low costs have led to higher demand for online shopping. Customers can now choose from a variety of payment methods including credit cards, cash-on-delivery (COD), internet banking, demand drafts, and cash-on-order. One of the popular methods of payment in the U.S. is COD (cash on delivery). Many U.S. consumers are wary of sharing their debit or credit card details online, particularly with small and less well-known merchants. Consumers also rely on payment service providers such as PayPal, which allow them to pay without revealing card numbers. In addition, consumers are experiencing an increase in time poverty. Due to busy lifestyles, they find little time to fulfill their shopping needs and rely on online retailing to save time. Most of these consumers also spend a significant amount of time at work and at home with access to Internet-enabled devices.

Website Is For Outdoor Projects

Outdoor Essentials, a brand of the Universal Forest Products, Inc. family of companies, has launched a website to provide resources and inspiration to homeowners who want to transform ordinary outdoor spaces into functional, beautiful places. The website features expanded product pages and an entire section focused on projects and inspiration. The website features three main sections: products, projects/inspiration, and resources and is available at Outdoor Essentials

Raw Material Costs Affect PFB Earnings

PFB Corporation had a consolidated loss of $890,000 for the first quarter of 2017, compared to a consolidated loss of $155,000 in the comparative three-month period of 2016. EBITDA for the first quarter was $32,000 compared to $955,000 last year. Consolidated sales were $19.5 million in the first quarter of 2017 compared to sales of $19.2 million in the first quarter of 2016, a 1.7 per cent increase. The company says earnings were influenced by unforeseen and unprecedented principal raw material costs. Gross margin for the quarter was 15.1 per cent versus 20.1 per cent a year ago.

CanWel Has Record Earnings

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenues of $233 million for the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 12.8 per cent over consolidated revenues of $198 million in the first quarter of 2016. Sales in the building materials distribution segment comprised approximately 38 per cent of this increase. Gross margin dollars for the quarter increased by 16.4 per cent to $27 million, compared to $23.2 million during the corresponding period in 2016. EBITDA increased to $8.2 million, a record for the company's first quarter, representing a 51.5 per cent increase in EBITDA when compared to the first quarter of 2016. As a result, net earnings increased by 82.9 per cent to $1.7 million, when compared to $912,000 during the corresponding period in 2016.

May 24, 2017

Building Supplies Leads Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales rose 0.9 per cent in March and surpassed the $60 billion mark for the first time, says Statistics Canada. Gains were recorded in four of seven subsectors, accounting for 60 per cent of total wholesale sales, and were led by the building material and supplies subsector. In the first quarter of 2017, wholesale sales were up 3.6 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2016. This was the highest quarterly change since the second quarter of 2008. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.6 per cent from February to March. The building material and supplies subsector recorded the largest increase in dollar terms, as sales rose 3.9 per cent to a record high $8.4 billion on the strength of higher sales in the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (+5.7 per cent). Exports of lumber and other sawmill and millwork products rose six per cent in March. Wholesale sales were up in nine provinces in March, representing 97 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, British Columbia, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador led the gain. Wholesale inventories edged down 0.3 per cent to $77.8 billion.

McGill Launching Retail Management Education Program

Retail icon and philanthropist Aldo Bensadoun has stepped forward with a gift to his alma mater, McGill University, aimed at creating new knowledge and developing leaders for the rapidly changing retail industry. Thanks to a donation of $25 million from the Bensadoun Family Foundation, McGill will work on developing the Bensadoun School of Retail Management, an inter-disciplinary, state-of-the-art school dedicated to all facets of the retail industry. The proposed school, slated to open in fall of 2018, will provide an in-depth teaching curriculum and focus on the fundamental, integrated core sections of retail management including technology, business, and human-cultural. Bensadoun is the founder and executive chairman of the ALDO Group, a retail shoe company based in Montreal, QC.

Lighting Can Strengthen Customer Connection

Amerlux has updated its Lighting Toolbox with data mining sensors, colour tuning capabilities, energy efficient controls, and UV/violet light that can be added to fixtures to add life to the shelf. Lighting is not just about a return on investment (ROI), says Bill Plageman, vice-president of marketing for Amerlux. “It’s about creating a stronger, valuable connection with customers.” He says while effective lighting clearly improves the overall aesthetics of retail interiors and exteriors, visual cues can play a major role influencing consumer purchasing habits. “Utilizing intelligent lighting design impacts consumer perception, makes [product] pop off shelves, and retains customers in the space to buy more.” In addition, smart sensors embedded in fixtures yield key insights about shopper behaviour and leverage the physical footprint to determine best placement for signage, displays, and entire departments. In addition to data collection, integrated sensors activate fixtures with motion and photocell detection, and implement dimming control for incremental efficiency, safety, and security. “Utilizing vast capabilities, retail-oriented lighting is elevated from homogenous functionality to a more prescriptive nature,” says Plageman.

Tillsley Wins Toyota Tundra

Chris Tillsley, of Cougar Iron, is the winner of a 2017 Toyota Tundra Pickup from the ‘Pro Contractor Toyota Tundra Sweepstakes’ contest held at the Barrie Home Hardware Pro Show earlier this year. As part of the show, pro contractors had the opportunity to visit the Toyota booth to fill out a ballot for the chance to win the grand prize.

JELD-WEN Has Revenue Gains

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. had net revenues of $847.8 million for the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 6.4 per cent compared to net revenues of $796.5 million for the first quarter of 2016. Gross margin increased $27.8 million, or 17.6 per cent, to $186 million, compared to $158.1 million for the same period last year. Net income increased $400,000, or 6.3 per cent, to $6.4 million, compared to $6 million in the same quarter last year.

Earnings Decrease For Wayfair

Wayfair Inc. had total net revenue of $960.8 million for the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 28.6 per cent over the first quarter of 2016. Gross profit for the quarter was $236.9 million, or 24.7 per cent of total net revenue, while GAAP net loss was $56.5 million. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $20.9 million or a decrease of 2.2 per cent of total net revenue.

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