Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


July 24, 2017

Retail Sales Improve Slightly

Retail sales increased for the third consecutive month, rising 0.6 per cent to $48.9 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. Sales were up in five of 11 subsectors, representing 56 per cent of total retail trade. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were the main contributor to the gain. Excluding sales in this subsector, retail sales were down 0.1 per cent in May. Retail sales were up in eight provinces in May. British Columbia (+2.6 per cent) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, led by higher sales at new car dealers and, to a lesser extent, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Following a 1.5 per cent increase in April, sales in Quebec decreased 0.8 per cent in May. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales were $1.3 billion in May, accounting for 2.3 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 46.9 per cent while total unadjusted retail sales rose 10.3 per cent.

Sears Canada Starts Liquidating

Sears Canada Inc. has started its liquidation sales at stores previously announced by the retailer as closing. The retailer had obtained an Order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to liquidate 54 stores. It is offering up to 50 per cent off of all merchandise, including brand names and private label brands, and Sears Canada gift cards will be honoured throughout the sale. As well, select fixtures, furnishings, and equipment in the closing stores will be available for sale.

Uponor Opening Another Plant

Uponor North America intends to purchase an existing 237,000 square foot manufacturing facility and office space in Hutchinson, MN, to grow its U.S. manufacturing operations to support continued opportunities in commercial and residential construction. The facility will be renovated to manufacture Uponor PEX pipe that is used in the company's plumbing, fire sprinkler, radiant-heating, and cooling systems. The facility is expected to be operational by early 2019.

Contactless Payments Maturing

The share of contactless payments is rising as the payment option matures, says payment processor Moneris Solutions Corporation. The growth is partly due to the launch of Android Pay in Canada in the second quarter and the one-year anniversary of the full introduction of Apple Pay. Canadians are continuing to take advantage of the growing number of contactless payment options available to them, driving a year-over-year increase of 36.29 per cent in total contactless dollar volume in the second quarter. This rate of growth is not as strong as it was a year ago, when total contactless dollar volume grew by 162.52 per cent year over year, indicating that the contactless payment option may be reaching a point of maturity. The share of transactions made using contactless payments continues to rise at a consistent pace. In the second quarter of 2017, 39.5 per cent of all transactions made were with tap-and-pay methods, up from 30.86 per cent in the second quarter of 2016. Moneris predicts close to 50 per cent of all transactions will be made using contactless payments by the end of 2017.

Haas Door Enhances Website

Haas Door has updated its website ( to be more mobile friendly and include enhancements for users. Along with a fresh look and design, there is now a blog section and updated product and company information. The site also provides links to other Haas Door resources including HaasCreate, HaasConnect, HaasWorx, DoorFinder, and a dealer locator.

Double Digit Sales Increase For UFPI

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) had net sales $1,072.4 million for the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 23 per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2016. Net earnings were $33.6 million, up one per cent over the year-ago period. Unit sales accounted for 16 per cent of the company’s gross sales growth and higher lumber prices accounted for seven per cent. New product sales were $115.9 million in the second quarter, up from $97.8 million. The retail market had net sales of $459.1 million, up 13 per cent over the same period of 2016. The construction market had net sales of $295.2 million, up 17 per cent over the same period of 2016. The industrial market had net sales of $335.9 million, up 47 per cent over the same period of 2016.

July 21, 2017

Spending Up Year Over Year

Spending in Canada increased by 3.88 per cent in dollar volume during the second quarter of 2017 over the same period last year, says payment processor Moneris Solutions Corporation. This continues a trend of moderate growth demonstrated in the first quarter of 2017, which saw an increase of 3.46 per cent year over year. Regionally, all provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, posted growth. Quebec posted the strongest growth of the quarter, with spending up 5.75 per cent year over year. Credit card spending continues to rise with a 4.75 per cent increase over the same period last year. Debit card spending is similarly up 2.31 per cent year over year. The share of contactless payments also continues to rise as the payment option matures.

Healthy Remodeling Spend Forecast For U.S.

Healthy and stable growth in home improvement and repair spending in the U.S. is anticipated for the remainder of the year and into the first half of 2018, 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 increases in remodeling expenditures will soften somewhat moving forward, but will still remain at or above six per cent through the second quarter of 2018. “The remodeling market continues to benefit from a stronger housing market and, in particular, solid gains in house prices, which are encouraging owners to make larger investments in their homes,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the centre. “Yet, weak gains in home sales activity due to tight inventories in many parts of the country are constraining opportunities for more robust remodeling growth given that significant investments often occur around the time of a sale.”

Quebec Has Record Home Sales

There were 25,638 home sales in Quebec in the second quarter of 2017, says the Québec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). This is a four per cent increase compared to the second quarter of 2016 and the 12th consecutive quarterly increase in sales. It is also a new second-quarter sales record. Condominium sales rose sharply, with 5,583 transactions that represent a 14 per cent jump compared to the second quarter of 2016. Sales of single-family homes and plexes rose by two per cent (17,857 transactions) and seven per cent (2,087 transactions), respectively. Geographically, only two of the province's census metropolitan areas (CMAs) registered an increase in sales in the second quarter: the Montréal CMA stood out with an eight per cent increase in sales, while Gatineau posted an increase of three per cent. All of the other CMAs registered a drop in sales.

CEMEX Invests In Environment And Wildlife

CEMEX has invested more than $50 million on projects and improvements in cement plant operations and other facilities to help reduce their environmental impact and conserve nearby wildlife. Four cement plants ‒ Brooksville, and Miami, FL; Clinchfield, GA; and Victorville, CA ‒ achieved the ENERGY STAR Certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 2017. Last year, all active CEMEX cement plants in the U.S. achieved the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation Certification. Its environmental initiatives also include wildlife conservation efforts. The Lytle Creek quarry in Rialto, CA, has more than 150 acres dedicated to wildlife habitat easements and the Rockfield Quarry in Fresno, CA, recently installed nesting boxes for birds. The crown jewel of CEMEX’s environmental programs is the El Carmen Nature Reserve, a private conservation area that spans nearly 400,000 acres across the Texas-Mexico border in the Big Bend region. El Carmen is comprised of five different ecosystems and is home to a myriad of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. It has won several environmental awards.

Metal Roofing Gaining Market Share

Metal roofing has been gaining market share with segment sales growing in light commercial new construction and residential remodeling, says research by Principia Consulting. Increasing architect and property owner acceptance has helped this industry segment become a multi-billion-dollar market in 2017. The diversity and longevity of metal roofs offer many benefits for consumers to consider and the high initial cost is offset by its long useful life of 50 years or more. Other drivers of this product are the availability of a wide variety of designs to complement any style home and the energy efficiency factor as metal roofs can be ‘cool’ and lower annual household expenses.

Ochoa Becomes President

Joe Ochoa is president of the AZEK Building Products unit of CPG International. Previously, he worked at Owens Corning for 15 years in various roles.

July 20, 2017

Manufacturing Sales Increase For Third Month

Manufacturing sales increased for the third consecutive month, up 1.1 per cent to $54.6 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. The gain was mainly attributable to higher sales in the transportation equipment and chemical manufacturing industries. Sales were up in 16 of 21 industries, representing 71 per cent of the manufacturing sector. Sales were up in six provinces, led by Ontario. Sales of durable goods rose 2.2 per cent, while sales of non-durable goods declined 0.3 per cent. Chemical manufacturing sales increased 2.4 per cent to $4.4 billion, following three months of declines. The pesticide, fertilizer, and the other agricultural chemical manufacturing industries posted the largest sales increase. At the same time, manufacturing inventory levels edged down 0.2 per cent to $73.7 billion in May, following five months of gains. Inventories fell in eight of the 21 industries.

Canadian Buyers Drive Foreign Real Estate Sales

Fueled by a substantial increase in sales dollar volume from Canadian buyers, foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate skyrocketed to a new high, as transactions grew in each of the top five countries where buyers originated, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A NAR survey reveals that nearly half of all foreign sales were in three states: Florida, California, and Texas. Between April 2016 and March 2017, foreign buyers and recent immigrants purchased $153 billion of residential property, which is a 49 per cent jump from 2016 ($102.6 billion) and surpasses 2015 ($103.9 billion) as the new survey high. Overall, 284,455 U.S. properties were bought by foreign buyers (up 32 per cent from 2016) and purchases accounted for 10 per cent of the dollar volume of existing home sales (eight per cent in 2016). Although China maintained its top position in sales dollar volume for the fourth straight year, the significant rise in foreign investment in the survey came from a massive hike in activity from Canadian buyers. After dipping in the 2016 survey to $8.9 billion in sales ($11.2 billion in 2015), transactions from Canadians this year totaled $19 billion – a new high.

Saved Time Can Be Competitive Edge

Time is perceived as a precious commodity, but people can master time and make it work for them, says Ken Jenkins, ‎president of Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Writing on his blog, ‘Insights,’ he says, “Time, and your management of it, can become your competitive advantage. The better you manage time, the more you can achieve, and the better you feel about what you’ve achieved.” He offers some tips on what to consider when making time an ally instead of an enemy, which include knowing what you want from your time, creating a schedule, prioritizing, and empowering and delegating. He says as much as two hours can be saved per day by adopting an approach based on the ‘urgent/important’ principle.

Thomasville Cabinetry Partners With McGillivray

Thomasville Cabinetry has partnered with home improvement expert Scott McGillivray to educate Canadians on all aspects of planning, buying, and creating beautiful, functional kitchens. MasterBrand Cabinets Inc., the manufacturer of Thomasville Cabinetry, is the largest producer of cabinets in North America. McGillivray is best known as the host of the series, ‘Moving the McGillivrays’ and ‘Income Property’ on HGTV and DiY Network. He will star in a new HGTV series, ‘Buyer’s Bootcamp,’ which will air in spring 2018.

Zane's Acquires 20/20 Special Markets

Zane’s Inc. has acquired 20/20 Special Markets Inc. Zane’s, originally a bicycle seller, has expanded into other special markets, including the premium and incentive industries. The acquisition of 20/20, along with the 2016 migration of the EXP Group, positions housewares as a key component to its product offerings. The housewares portfolio will encompass the full line of Groupe SEB brands including T-Fal, All-Clad, Rowenta, Krups, and Lagostina. In addition, other complementary brands including Zwilling, J.A. Henckels, Bradshaw International, Peugeot, Bodum, and John Boos complete the lineup.

Dealers Invited To Orgill Market

Home improvement retailers and lumber and building materials dealers will have the opportunity to meet with more than 1,000 exhibitors, get new ideas from model stores, stay on top of industry trends, and scope out the best product deals at Orgill’s ‘Fall Dealer Market.’ It takes place August 24 to 26 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre in Boston, MA. For more information, click here

Sales Increase For Grainger

Grainger had sales of $2.6 billion for the second quarter of 2017, an increase of two per cent over sales for the second quarter of 2016. Net earnings for the quarter were $98 million, down 43 per cent versus net earnings of $173 million in the same period in 2016. Sales for the Canadian division (Ackland-Grainger) decreased three per cent in U.S. dollars and increased two per cent in local currency. The division had an operating loss of $28 million for the quarter, flat compared to the previous year period. Current year performance was primarily driven by improved gross margin offset by lower sales and restructuring charges. The gross profit margin in Canada increased 4.1 percentage points versus the prior year.

July 19, 2017

Non-residential Building Construction Rises

Investment in non-residential building construction totalled $12.4 billion in the second quarter, up 0.3 per cent from the previous quarter, says Statistics Canada. This increase follows three consecutive declines. Nationally, the gain was the result of an increase in spending on the construction of industrial and commercial buildings. The institutional component declined for a second consecutive quarter. Overall, six provinces posted increases in the second quarter, with Ontario reporting the largest upturn, followed by British Columbia and New Brunswick. Quebec also reported a gain, but it was small (+0.5 per cent). The largest decline occurred in Alberta, followed by Saskatchewan. In Alberta, the decrease was mainly the result of lower spending on both institutional and commercial building construction. Despite the decrease in spending, Alberta had the second-highest total spending on non-residential building construction ($2.5 billion), accounting for 20 per cent of total spending for the country.

Stanley Black & Decker Partners With Habitat

Stanley Black & Decker has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to participate in its biggest cross-country build project. The ‘34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project’ is taking place in every province and territory across the country with a goal to build 150 homes collectively to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter as well as his wife Rosalynn worked alongside volunteers from July 9 to 14 focusing their efforts in Edmonton, AB; and Winnipeg, MB. Joe Di Ilio, president of Stanley Black & Decker Canada, says, “Stanley Black and Decker Canada employees are always proud to lend their time and skills to any Habitat project. Stanley Black and Decker has a long tradition of supporting the Habitat effort in many different ways; including, volunteer builds and tool support.” Stanley Black & Decker is a silver level sponsor of the Carter Work Project. In addition to volunteer and monetary support, STANLEY and DEWALT tools will be used for the Edmonton and Winnipeg build sites.

Amazon Aligned With Millennial Generation

Millennials are buying from Amazon at a higher rate than their older or younger generational counterparts, with 79 per cent reporting a purchase within the past month, says research from Yes Lifecycle Marketing. The survey reveals Millennials are also most likely to take advantage of Prime Day exclusive offers. More than half (55 per cent) of Millennials choose to buy from Amazon from its Prime benefits and 76 per cent do so because of its prices. “Amazon Prime benefits draw in Millennial shoppers more than other generations by aligning with their preference for loyalty messaging and programs,” says Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “By segmenting their customers by generation, marketers can pinpoint customer preference for elements like messaging, channel, and timing, and define distinct strategies that resonate with those audiences. In turn, marketers will create long-lasting relationships with their customers.”

Wanted: More Regulatory Review 

Canadians prioritize regulatory reviews of drones, autonomous vehicles, and online user agreements above those of other emerging technologies, says research from Accenture. Forty per cent of Canadian consumers say that drones equipped with video cameras should be a key area for government regulatory review. Nearly as many Canadians say that key areas for government regulatory review should include autonomous (driverless) vehicles and online user agreements for new products or services (each cited by 38 per cent of respondents). Other areas in which Canadians want to prioritize a regulatory review include connected homes and products, such as technology that controls a home’s lights, alarms, temperatures, or baby monitors from a mobile phone or other device. Although different levels of governments have already established regulations around some technologies (e.g. drones), most Canadians believe the government should provide more regulation in order to mitigate risks.

Ply Gem Launches Mitten Vinyl Soffit Products

Ply Gem has launched a line of Mitten vinyl soffit products, including the Jamb-Fit Soffit, seven-inch Beaded Soffit, and Triple four-inch Black Soffit. These lines are available to builders and contractors throughout Canada. The Jamb-Fit Soffit is available in eight-inch and 16-inch wide solid and vented profiles with a simple-to-install slide lock. The seven-inch Beaded Soffit is available in solid and hidden vent profiles. It helps prevent damaging effects of trapped moisture through proper ventilation. The Triple four-inch Black Soffit has improved colour-retention technology so it will not fade or distort from sun and heat exposure. It also meets strict performance standards and has been tested to withstand strong winds, drastic temperature changes, and powerful precipitation.

Rayonier Gets Approval From German Cartel Office

Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. has received notification of clearance from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (the country’s national competition regulator) in connection with its acquisition of the outstanding shares of Tembec Inc. Subject to obtaining the approvals of the holders of Tembec shares and the Québec Superior Court and other necessary approvals and clearances, the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. Additionally, Tembec says the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has recommended that Tembec shareholders vote in favour of the acquisition.

July 18, 2017

National Home Sales Cool Again

National home sales cooled further in June 2017, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The number of homes sold via Canadian MLS Systems fell 6.7 per cent in June 2017, the largest monthly decline since June 2010. With sales having also declined in each of the two previous months, activity in June came in 14.1 per cent below the record set in March. June sales were down from the previous month in 70 per cent of all local markets, led overwhelmingly by the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA). The number of newly listed homes slid 1.5 per cent in June, led by a sizeable pullback in the GTA compared to record levels in April and May. A number of other markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe also saw a pullback in new supply. The national sales-to-new listings ratio moved further into balanced market territory at 52.8 per cent. The ratio had been in the high-60 per cent range just three months earlier. There were 5.1 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of June 2017 – up a full month from where the measure stood in March and the highest level since January 2015.

Castle Gains Maritime Member

Trinity Maintenance Solutions Ltd. has opened its doors as the newest Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. location in Stellarton, NS. This location is part of the Trinity Energy Group of Companies which has been operating for more than 10 years. The company was founded by Dwaine and Karen MacDonald in 2006. They began as local experts on making homes and commercial dwellings more energy efficient and specialized in products to meet these needs. They felt the timing was right to expand into a more extensive line of home improvement and hardware products.

Ontario Seeks Consultation On Building Code

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is seeking stakeholder and public input on proposed changes to Ontario’s Building Code. The consultation document and proposed Building Code changes include provisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector in support of the government’s ‘Climate Change Action Plan.’ Buildings, and the energy they consume, account for almost one quarter of Ontario’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, reducing emissions presents a challenge because many buildings were built at a time when energy efficiency and climate change were not a priority. The proposed amendments seek to increase energy efficiency requirements for new and significantly renovated buildings. The proposed new requirements would not require retrofits to existing buildings. More information is available here

Attentiveness Key To Customer Satisfaction

When selling appliances, the three key performance indicators (KPIs) that have the greatest effect on satisfaction are (in order of importance) that sales staff greets customers promptly; salespeople thank customers for the purchase; and appliance displays arranged neatly, says the ‘J.D. Power 2017 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study.’ In fact, there is a significant association with likelihood to repurchase and recommend and the number of top KPIs met. When each of the top three KPIs are met, 50 per cent of customers say they ‘definitely will’ repurchase from the retailer. When only two KPIs are met, that percentage drops to 29 per cent. When just one KPI is met, the percentage drops even further to 17 per cent. The study shows that from the initial in-store greeting to receiving assistance from a store employee, timeliness is the key to customer satisfaction, as the expectation for these interactions to occur is two minutes or less. Customer satisfaction drops significantly when the initial greeting takes more than two minutes.

La Coop Supports NAFTA Negotiator Appointment

La Coop fédérée welcomes the appointment by the government of Québec of Raymond Bachand as chief negotiator for Québec in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The co-operative says this gesture is proof of the government's seriousness and determination regarding a major issue for Québec's economy. Ghislain Gervais, president of La Coop fédérée, says the co-operative and its members will provide all the necessary support to the government’s negotiating team during the discussions that will take place in the coming months. Its position is that Québec and Canadian agricultural economics cannot be considered as currency to be exchanged or just another sector amongst many others.

TAIGA Changes Fiscal Year End

Taiga Building Products Ltd.’s board of directors has approved a change of the company's fiscal year end from March 31 to December 31, in order to align with the year end of its major shareholders and other companies in the industry. As a result, the company will have a transitional year of nine months ending December 31.

AFA To Distribute For Lebel Group

AFA Forest Products Inc. has partnered with Lebel Group Inc. to become its exclusive distributor of treated wood. The distribution agreement is effective immediately and covers all of Quebec, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. AFA will soon contact buying group merchants and buyers for all LBM stores and lumberyards to offer them the treated wood products of Lebel.

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