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News

January 18, 2019

U.S. Renovation Spending Expected To Shrink

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


RONA Welcomes Alberta Store

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


Sexton Group Makes Changes In Response To Growth

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


Havwoods International To Open Canadian Showroom

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


West Fraser Has Temporary Production Curtailments

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


Barbarick Honoured By NRF

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


Fastenal Company Has Strong Sales

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


January 17, 2019

Montreal Sees Fourth Consecutive Annual Residential Sales Increase

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


Lowe's Canada To Hold National Hiring Day

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


Georgia-Pacific Starts Production In Alabama Facility

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


Native Trails To Launch Products At IDS Toronto

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


Haughie Joins LP

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


January 16, 2019

Canadian December Home Sales Fall Again

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


Tecnoglass Invests In Manufacturing Business

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


Distribution J. Des Serres To Offer New Generation Stripper

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


Dörken Launches Moisture-managing Lath

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


Hachey Named Merchandising Manager

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


Energizer Holdings Sales Flat

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


January 15, 2019

Retail Sales Inch Up

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


Record High 2018 Residential Sales For Quebec

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


Businesses Getting Creative To Find Talent

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


CPCA Launches Digital HUB

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


Bingham Named CFO

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


January 14, 2019

Montreal Home Sales Rise Again

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


FCL's Calgary DC Employees Ratify Two-tier Agreement

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


Man Charged For Fraud At Home Depot Stores

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


Ward Leads IKEA

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


BB&B Earnings Slide

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


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