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 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, 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 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.

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