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 23, 2018

Building Materials Help Drive Retail Sales

Retail sales increased two per cent in May to $50.8 billion, following a 0.9 per cent decline in April, says Statistics Canada. Sales rose in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 70 per cent of retail trade. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at gasoline stations were the main contributors to the gain in May. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.9 per cent. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers sales increased 5.4 per cent and helped to more than offset the declines in other subsectors. Increases in each of these subsectors more than offset the declines that had been reported in April. Seven provinces reported higher sales in May, with Ontario and Quebec more than offsetting their declines from April. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.4 billion, representing 2.5 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 16.9 per cent, while total unadjusted sales increased 5.5 per cent.

Small Change In U.S. Building Permits

Building permits for privately-owned housing units in the U.S. in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.27 million, says the U.S. Census Bureau. This is roughly 2.2 per cent below the revised May rate of 1.30 million and three per cent below the June 2017 rate of 1.31 million. Single-family permits were at a rate of 850,000; this is 0.8 per cent above the revised May figure of 843,000. Privately-owned housing starts in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million. This is 12.3 per cent below the revised May estimate of 1.34 million and is 4.2 per cent below the June 2017 rate.

Hy-Lite Celebrates 30 Years Of Acrylic Blocks

Florida-based Hy-Lite Products, Inc. is celebrating 30 years of manufacturing acrylic block products such as privacy panels, windows, and interior shutters. The company started in the privacy window market in 1988 and introduced pre-framed acrylic block windows as an alternative to heavier traditional glass block. These units eliminate the use of mortar and reduce labour spent on creating a glass block window one block at a time. The company was acquired by U.S. Block Windows, Inc. in 2009 which allowed the growth of acrylic block products to continue with the launch of door inserts, energy-efficient block options, impact-resistant blocks, and unique partition applications. All products are made and sourced in the U.S. and are available to Canadian retailers.

U.S. Window, Door Market To Slow

U.S. residential window and door growth didn’t wane in 2017, but appears to be slowing slightly in 2018, says a report by the Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA). A forecast combination of decreased housing starts and reduced remodeling projects will limit window and door sales growth. The ‘WDMA 2018 U.S. Industry Market Study’ shows that architectural interior flush door leaves softened in 2017 with only 1.1 per cent compared to three per cent for Stile and Rail (albeit at much lower volumes). Shipments for both are expected to grow at a similar rate with a forecast of around one per cent growth each year through 2020. Commercial shop-built windows grew 8.3 per cent in 2017 with 850,000 units shipped. Shipments are beginning to level off in 2018 with only 885,000 units forecast to be shipped. With the non-residential market softening, an eventual growth rate of only 1.8 per cent in 2020 is forecast.

McFarland Named Lowe’s EVP, Stores

Joseph M. McFarland III is executive vice-president, stores, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective August 15. He has more than 25 years of retail operations experience, most recently at JCPenney, where he oversaw the company's stores, operations, and merchandise strategies.

Grainger Sales Rise

Grainger had sales of $2.9 billion in the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 9.4 per cent versus sales of $2.6 billion in the second quarter of 2017. Operating earnings for the quarter were $344 million, up 50 per cent versus $229 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $1.11 billion versus $1.04 billion, a seven per cent increase. Gross profit margin for the quarter was 38.8 per cent versus 39.8 per cent in the 2017 quarter. Net earnings were $237 million versus $98 million in the year-ago period, an increase of 149 per cent. In Canada, the company closed 30 branches in the quarter as part of its business turnaround. Currently there are 44 branches in Canada.

OHBA Conference Returns To Ottawa

The Ontario Home Builders' Association (OHBA) returns to Ottawa, ON, for the ‘OHBA 2018 Conference.’ The event will be hosted by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association and will offer industry insights, professional networking, and more. It takes place September 23 to 25. For more information visit OHBA

July 20, 2018

New Housing Construction Investment Increases

Investment in new housing construction increased 6.3 per cent from May 2017 to $4.8 billion in May, says Statistics Canada. The year-over-year increase was led by spending on multiple-unit construction (apartment buildings, row houses, and semi-detached houses), while spending on single-family homes was down. Apartment building construction rose in eight provinces, led by Quebec ($225.2 million), Ontario ($114.5 million), and British Columbia ($93.2 million), accounting for 39.7 per cent of total investment in new housing construction and the largest share on record since the start of this data series in 1992. Spending on row house construction was up 11.7 per cent ($56.4 million) compared with May 2017, while investment in semi-detached houses increased by 8.8 per cent ($19.7 million) in May compared with the same month in 2017. Spending on single homes was down 9.9 per cent ($232.3 million) year over year.

Robust Outlook For U.S. Home Improvements

U.S. homeowners are expected to increase spending on improvements and repairs at a solid clip over the coming 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 annual growth in homeowner remodeling expenditure will taper somewhat in the first half of 2019, but still remain around seven per cent. “A growing economy and stronger job market are boosting owners’ willingness to invest in home improvements,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Rising home values and increased home equity levels are also encouraging more owners to do larger upgrade and replacement projects.” Although the projected growth for remodeling activity remains strong, the low inventory of existing homes for sale is holding back even larger gains, since significant remodeling and repair often occurs around the time of a sale.

Quebec Home Sales Stay Strong

A total of 27,037 residential sales were concluded in Quebec in the second quarter of 2018, setting a new second-quarter record, says the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). This was a six per cent increase in sales compared to the second quarter of 2017. This makes the 16th consecutive quarter that residential sales have increased in the province and only the second time since statistics have been compiled that there’s been such a long streak of sales increases. Sales increased for all three property categories, but condominiums stood out with a jump of 14 per cent. Sales of single-family homes and plexes with two to five dwellings both increased by three per cent. Geographically, all of the province's census metropolitan areas (CMAs) registered an increase in sales in the quarter, with Gatineau (15 per cent) and Trois-Rivières (12 per cent) leading the way. The downward trend in active listings continued for a 10th consecutive quarter. From April to June, there was an average of 67,019 properties for sale, which is a nine per cent drop compared to the second quarter of 2017.

Holman Builds Up Technology Department

Brand design and fabrication group Holman is building up its research and technology department to accommodate tech needs of any scale. Neville Moffat, technology development manager, has spearheaded a display ‘Tech Room’ so clients and partners can experience the ‘cool tech’ in action. The room capabilities are to eventually grow and spread its capabilities across Holman with the intention to become ‘smart’ Holman which will have seamless smart features to make experiences immersive, interactive, and easy to manage. Some of the technologies include interactive media, media duplication and distribution, virtual reality, augmented reality, and proximity and motion sensors. Holman has also acquired a grand LED wall to showcase large content with high resolution and faster image processing. The LED wall has virtual capabilities and can capture signals in different resolutions and formats in a wide range of devices such as cameras, computers, cable boxes, and more. Holman’s clients include Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Velux, and Acklands Grainger.

International Presentations Held At IDS Vancouver

Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver is collaborating with Björklund for an onsite trend installation showcasing Finnish design, mixing visual and societal trends in a narrative, ambient, and multidisciplinary way. The Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Envisions, a Dutch-based collective with an affinity for material exploration and design process, will also be presenting at the show. All presentations and exhibits will be available for viewing onsite at the Vancouver Convention Centre West or offsite at various designers’ studios from September 18 to 23. For more information, visit IDS Vancouver

ASSA ABLOY Sales Up Nine Per Cent

ASSA ABLOY had net sales of SEK21,140 million ($3.14 billion) for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of nine per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was SEK2,049 million ($304.6 million), a decrease of six per cent over net income of SEK2,179 million ($323.9 million). Operating margin was14.2 per cent versus 16.3 per cent a year ago. ASSA ABLOY is a global door opening solutions company with a portfolio of roughly 100 brands.

July 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise

Manufacturing sales increased 1.4 per cent to $57.1 billion in May, following a 1.1 per cent decline in April. Sales rose in 14 of 21 industries, representing 64 per cent of total manufacturing sales. The chemical, machinery, and wood product industries accounted for most of the gains. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales were up 0.9 per cent. Manufacturing sales were up in seven provinces in May, led by Alberta and British Columbia. In British Columbia, wood product manufacturing was the main contributor to the gain at 9.2 per cent. Manufacturing inventories rose 0.4 per cent to a record high $81.5 billion in May. Inventories were up in nine of 21 industries, representing 58 per cent of total manufacturing inventories. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.44 in April to 1.43 in May. Unfilled orders were up 3.5 per cent to $92.8 billion, the fourth consecutive monthly gain.

U.S. Retail Sales Up Despite Trade War

June U.S. retail sales were up 0.07 per cent seasonally adjusted from May’s strong performance and increased 4.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year as economic growth continued despite the U.S. trade war with China and other countries, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. The three-month moving average was up 4.4 per cent over the same period a year ago, matching the top end of NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent over 2017. The June results build on improvement seen in May, which was up one per cent monthly and up 6.1 per cent year-over-year. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 2.8 per cent year-over-year and up 0.8 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

NCI To Merge With Ply Gem

Commercial exterior building products company NCI Building Systems, Inc. will combine with Ply Gem Parent, LLC, a manufacturer of exterior building products for residential construction in a stock-for-stock merger. NCI chairman James S. Metcalf will lead the integration of the two companies and serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the combined company. He says the merger creates multiple avenues for further growth in exterior building products. The company will operate under a name to be determined and each entity will preserve its existing established brands. The company will be headquartered in Cary, NC, with a presence in Houston, TX.

Intertape Acquires Polyair

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. is acquiring Polyair Inter Pack Inc., a manufacturer of protective packaging. Polyair is a private company with dual headquarters in Toronto, ON, and Chicago, IL, and operates seven plants and a distribution centre in North America. It makes bubble cushioning, foam, mailers, and air pillow systems which Intertape describes as complementary to its products. Intertape, a Montreal, ON-based manufacturer of tapes, films, and other products used with packaging, said the two companies’ combined product bundle will provide “significant cross-selling opportunities” through similar distribution and end-user customer channels, both focusing on eCommerce to drive growth. The transaction is expected to complete in the third quarter.

Home Hardware’s Gabel Retires

After a career that extends 68 years in the home improvement retailing business, Ray Gabel, senior merchandise advisor at Home Hardware Stores Limited, has retired. Gabel joined the precursor to Home Hardware, Hollinger Hardware, in 1950 and attended the meeting in 1964 that officially ushered Home Hardware into existence. He took on a purchasing role with the new company and served many roles leading to his appointment as vice-president, merchandise, in 1979. In 2015, he transitioned to the role of senior merchandise advisor. As well, Gabel was inducted into the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Home Hardware Stores Limited Builders’ Circle in 2015. He is also well-known for his support for community and industry fundraisers, charities, and events.

July 18, 2018

June Home Sales Activity Improves

National home sales rose 4.1 per cent in June compared to May, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). While this marks the first substantive month-over-month increase this year, sales remain well down from monthly levels recorded over the past five years. More than 60 per cent of all local housing markets reported increased sales activity in June compared to May, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario. By contrast, sales in British Columbia continue to moderate. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down almost 11 per cent compared to June 2017. Sales were at a five-year low and stood almost seven per cent below the 10-year average for the month of June. Activity came in below year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local markets, led overwhelmingly by those in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Across Canada, the number of newly-listed homes retreated 1.8 per cent in June and also stood below levels for the month in recent years. New listings declined in a number of large urban markets. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 54.3 per cent in June compared to 51.2 per cent in May. The June reading was within short reach of the long-term average of 53.4 per cent.

Beacon Acquires Atlas Supply

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. has acquired Atlas Supply, Inc. a U.S. distributor of sealants, coatings, adhesives, and related waterproofing products. Founded in Seattle, WA, in 1917, Atlas has six locations in the Pacific Northwest. Beacon says the acquisition is a strategic fit of the compatibility of the two companies and Atlas will strengthen its sealant, coatings, and waterproofing business in the area.

Spectrum Brands, HRG Group Complete Merger

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. has completed the merger between Spectrum Brands and HRG Group, Inc. Following the closing, Spectrum Brands continues as the successor to HRG Group under the name Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. The combination creates an independent company with a more widely distributed shareholder base, meaningfully increased trading liquidity in its common stock, and an independent governance structure. The combined company's headquarters will remain in Middleton, WI, and the current Spectrum Brands management team will lead the combined company.

SANIFLO Announces Cambridge Location

Macerating and grinding toilet company SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, is expanding its operations and moving to a new location in Cambridge, ON. The new, 9,500-square-foot facility, now open, will allow the company to meet growing demand for its products. The move comes at a significant time for SANIFLO as this year marks the company’s 30-year anniversary in Canada.

Barrault Joins TIMBER MART

Gary Barrault is commodity trader with the lumber-trading team in the Prairies at TIMBER MART. He has more than 25 years of experience in the building material industry, where he has held a variety of operations and retail management positions within various organizations, including North American Lumber.

July 17, 2018

Renoworks Opens Platform To Third Parties

Renoworks Software Inc. now has third-party visualization integration capabilities by opening its home design ecosystem to manufacturers' independently developed visual product configurators. Previously, manufacturer integration with Renoworks visualizer platform required Renoworks' specific product library format. With new third-party integration, manufacturers can now embed their existing configurators into the Renoworks visualization platform, thereby creating a seamless experience for end-users to customize products such as doors and windows, and transition to a home design project within Renoworks. As additional benefits to this integration, manufacturers not only gain branding and product exposure within the Renoworks network of lumber and building material suppliers, retailers, contractors, remodelers, builders, and homeowners, they also decrease deployment time, streamline library maintenance and increase speed and efficiency in their product go-to-market strategies.

Bullers To Acquire Superior Cabinets

Saskatoon, SK-based Superior Cabinets has made a purchase agreement to sell the company. Superior was founded in 1980 and sells through their retail stores as well as through a network of 75 dealers in western Canada. The new owners will be the Buller family of Winnipeg, MB, who have a long history and track record in the kitchen cabinet industry. In 2003 Mark Buller, together with his family and senior management, acquired Norcraft Cabinets from the then existing unitholders. They took Norcraft Companies Inc. public in 2013, built it up into a $376 million dollar company and sold it to Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. in 2015, owners of MasterBrand Cabinets. The Buller family has a long legacy in the kitchen cabinet industry, as Mark's father, Herb Buller and several partners founded Kitchen Craft in 1971 which was acquired by Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. in 2002. Superior Cabinets will remain business as usual, with expansion plans into new markets in Canada and the U.S. as a top priority going forward.

GE Appliances Invests In Fridge Plant

GE Appliances, a Haier company, will invest $115 million to expand its Decatur Refrigerator Plant in Decatur, AL. The investment — made in partnership with the state of Alabama, the Morgan County Economic Development Association, and the Tennessee Valley Authority — will help GE Appliances increase production to meet increasing demand for its top-freezer refrigerators. The expansion of the Decatur plant is the most recent investment made by the business since becoming part of Haier two years ago. In 2018 alone, GE Appliances’ major investments have included an investment in its distribution center in northern Georgia; the expansion and enhancement of a ‘smart’ distribution center in Dallas, TX; and a plant expansion in Selmer, TN. The investment will significantly expand the Decatur plant and boost production capacity by 25 per cent.

Demand Continues For Outdoor Kitchen Equipment

Demand for outdoor kitchen cooking fixtures is projected to climb 5.4 per cent annually to $325 million in 2022, says the Freedonia Group. Gains will be driven by ongoing development of high-end grills (with feature such as infrared heating elements, integrated smoker boxes) and LED-illuminated controls supporting pricing growth and value gains. An increasing interest in artisanal grilling is also encouraging the use of high-end specialty fixtures like kamados and pellet grills. As well, rising interest in installing multiple cooking fixtures – including lower-cost add-ons like side burners and other peripherals – to enhance an outdoor kitchen’s functionality will drive sales. In general, outdoor kitchen cooking fixtures tend to be high-value, supporting significant gains as installations steadily increase. Since these are permanent fixtures, they tend to feature substantial cooking area and power, durable materials, and extensive warranties, and most consumers installing an amenity as high-value as an outdoor kitchen are willing to invest in high-quality fixtures.

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