Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


November 16, 2018

Home Sales Slide

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

Hillman Relocates

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

SPG Files For Bankruptcy Protection

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

West Fraser To Reduce BC Production

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

Schneider Electric Launches Home Monitoring System

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

Clark Leads Supply Chain

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

Acquisitions Drive CanWel Margins

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

November 15, 2018

Holiday Shoppers To Spend More, Start Earlier

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

Investment Increasing In ‘Outcome-drive Media’

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

UL Opens Building Envelope Test Facility

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

Boise Cascade Sales Rise

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

Continental Has Strong Income

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

November 14, 2018

Home Depot Has Increased Sales

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

Canfor To Acquire Elliott Sawmilling Co.

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

Private Label Products Helping Consumers Save

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

Mohawk Heads North American Flooring

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

ADS Income Up 63 Per Cent

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

November 13, 2018

Home Hardware Opens Second St. John's Location

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

St-Hubert Store Joins BMR

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

Omni-channel Retailing Driving Garden Product Growth

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

Garcia Has New Role

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

IKEA Has Eight Per Cent Sales Gain

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

Taiga Sales Increase

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

November 12, 2018

Montréal Real Estate Sales Jump

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

Momentum Index Moves Lower

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

Chinese Consumers Want Canadian-made Goods

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

Norlen Has New Role

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

Masonite Sales Up Eight Per Cent

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

HDI Has Increased Sales

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

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