Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


February 22, 2017

Sales Rise For Home Depot

The Home Depot had sales of $22.2 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, a 5.8 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of 2016 were positive 5.8 per cent. The retailer says the Canadian division had its 21st consecutive quarter of positive comparable store sales. Online sales for the quarter grew approximately 19 per cent. Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $1.7 billion compared with net earnings of $1.5 billion.

Canada Post Launches Postal Code Targeting

Canada Post has launched postal code targeting, a program where marketers can target the postal code level by combining existing customer knowledge with address-level data. The company says this level of data-driven targeting empowers marketers to connect with their most receptive audiences, leveraging their own data or selecting the mailing's postal codes by demographic criteria such as income, education, age, location, family composition, interests, or lifestyle, and even based on online shopping behaviours. The service is part of Canada Post’s ‘Smartmail Marketing’ suite that provides marketers with three choices: neighbourhood mail, personalized mail, and now, postal code targeting.

Lowe’s Opening 55th Canadian Big Box

March 2 marks the official opening day of Lowe’s Canada’s 55th store. The 86,000 square-foot big box store is in Sherwood Park, AB, and will offer roughly 40,000 products in-stock. It also features an adjacent 20,000 square-foot garden centre.

BuildDirect Opens Delivery Gateway

BuildDirect has opened its global supply chain platform for heavyweight goods. The BuildDirect Gateway gives any third party the ability to access BuildDirect’s network of warehousing services, ground, and ocean logistics for any part of the shipping journey, from point of manufacture through last-mile delivery. The scalable platform was specifically designed to accommodate the unique needs associated with moving heavyweight products and supplies that cause significant issues for traditional shipping providers. The platform has been under development, tested, and honed over the course of several years. Currently, more than 8.2 million pounds of products ship through its platform each month, traveling over 5.9 million miles. The service provides predictive analytics, customization, and feedback and is scalable to any retailer. It can also be used by distributors and manufacturers to enter the North American market.

CFIB Partners With Mastercard

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Mastercard have partnered to offer services to CFIB members that will reduce the cost of electronic payments for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). "This [partnership] gives members access to transaction rates that reflect their combined sales of more than $3 billion and lowers their cost of acceptance,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. “This is a significant step forward in Canada's payment industry and serves as an important sign of progress in the relationship between payment companies, like Mastercard, and smaller merchants.”

Patrick Lumber Acquires Portion Of Mary’s River Lumber

Oregon-based Patrick Lumber Company has acquired a portion of Mary’s River Lumber Company, also in Oregon. The eight-acre purchase encompasses five dry kilns and the reman plant. McCool Millworks Inc. will head operations. The operation will begin by processing primarily high grade Douglas fir and Hemlock lumber with plans for expansion. The acquisition is expected to add approximately 20 per cent to Patrick Lumber’s processing capacity. Patrick Lumber is a secondary manufacturer and exporter of softwood products sold to distributors throughout the world. Most of its plants are located in northwest U.S. and British Columbia.

Trex Sees Sales Increase

Trex Company, Inc.’s net sales for the fourth quarter of 2016 were $95.3 million, seven per cent above the $89.2 million reported for the fourth quarter of 2015. Net income for the quarter was $12.6 million up 56 per cent from the net income of $8.1 million last year. Gross profit as a percentage of net sales, gross margin, was 40 per cent, 420 basis points ahead of the prior year. For the full year, net sales were $479.6 million, nine per cent above the $440.8 million for 2015. Gross margin was 39 per cent, a 390 basis points year-over-year increase from 35.1 per cent. Net income totaled $68 million for the year, up 41 per cent from 2015.

February 21, 2017

Building Material Category Posts Strong Gains

The building material and garden equipment lead all retail sectors in margin gains, says Statistics Canada’s ‘Retail Services Price Index’ (RSPI). The RSPI increased 0.7 per cent in the third quarter, with six of the 10 major retail subsectors posting margin gains. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw margins edge up 0.9 per cent, signalling a moderation of growth from the previous quarter (+5.2 per cent). These dealers (+7.4 per cent) recorded the largest year-over-year margin gain. Margins at general merchandise stores rose 2.7 per cent, in large part due to fewer promotions reported by retailers. This competitive subsector includes department stores, warehouse clubs, and all other general merchandise stores. From the first quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2016, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers posted the largest growth in margins (+37.6 per cent) among all retail subsectors. Retailers in this subsector have experienced continued margin growth in the wake of higher residential investment in renovations by Canadians.

Home Hardware Inspires Community Kindness

In honour of Random Act of Kindness Day, Home Hardware encouraged customers to engage in community building gestures across Canada. Titled #HelpAtHome, this initiative rewarded generous customers with gift cards to the Canadian retailer. Canadians could contribute by sharing photos of their random acts of kindness. Hundreds of Canadians stepped up to participate in the challenge. Five customers were rewarded for their kind actions which ranged from helping vehicles get on the road safely after a big snow fall to running errands for some elderly friends. The team at Home Hardware participated in a random act of kindness of their own by donating a pile of toys and games to SickKids Hospital. Each gift was accompanied by a handwritten letter from staff members at the St. Jacobs, ON, corporate office. “Small acts can make a big difference,” says Terry Davis, CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited, who revealed the initiative to customers on Facebook.

Canadian Companies Still Unprepared For Breach

As the frequency and scale of cyber-attacks show no signs of abating, the majority of Canadian companies still wouldn't be able to detect a sophisticated breach, says EY in its ‘Global Information Security Survey.’ Only 43 per cent of Canadian companies could spot a significant cybersecurity incident, compared to 50 per cent globally. The company says user awareness is the top control failure that leads to a breach. This weakness is primarily exploited through phishing where company employees engage with malicious eMails disguised as authentic. In the process, they unknowingly let the attackers access internal systems. Other process failures that can lead to a breach include poorly secured internet-facing systems and/or applications and outdated or unpatched systems. The report also shows that while the internet of things (IoT) is leading change in the digital landscape and fast becoming the must-have element of business technology, the lack of skilled resources and executive support are hampering the wider adoption of connected devices.

Walmart Combines Store And Online Buying Operations

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will combine its buying for products sold at its stores with purchases it makes for its website, a significant move to stamp out duplicate efforts as it consolidates buying operations, says Vendors contacted by Walmart about the change say the store and online buying teams of the world's largest retailer currently operate independently. Walmart has told some vendors it is seeking to make the buying process more efficient for itself and vendors and improve co-ordination between its buying teams. It also wants to apply its bricks-and-mortar expertise in securing the lowest possible prices to its eCommerce business, say vendors. The move is part of a broader push to narrow the gap with Amazon and boost Wal-Mart's competitive standing in U.S. eCommerce.

Construction Division Sales Reduces Revenue

Superior Plus Corp. – former parent company of Winroc and Allroc – had revenue of $2,023.7 million for 2016, compared to $2,253.1 million for 2015. Gross profit for the year was $656.4 million compared to $658.2 million for 2015. The construction products distribution (CPD) division (which includes Winroc and Allroc) had adjusted EBITDA from operations of $27.1 million for 2016 compared to $47.9 million for 2015. The 2016 amounts reflect earnings up until August 9, 2016, when Superior Plus sold its CPD business to Foundation Building Materials.

February 17, 2017

Lowe’s Integrates Ace Canada

Lowe's Canada will integrate Ace Canada’s distribution and business centres into existing Lowe's Canada facilities, saying it will allow Ace dealers to benefit from lower cost of goods and to connect to Lowe's Canada retail intelligence. The integration of operations will result in the closing of the Winnipeg, MB, distribution centre and head office and the Kitchener, ON, distribution centre, which will be completed in the company's fourth quarter this year. Moving forward, Ace head office functions in Winnipeg will relocate to the Lowe's Canada regional office in Mississauga, ON. The existing distribution network in Calgary, AB, and in Boucherville, QC, as well as the Lowe's Canada head office in Boucherville, will be leveraged to continue serving Ace dealers previously served in Winnipeg and Kitchener. The company plans on enhancing dealer growth by fostering marketing support, growing the Ace product offering, and providing even more attractive product pricing. "Our goal is to support Ace dealer sales growth and profitability by establishing a dynamic dealer support program that offers our dealers a better share in their markets," says Alain Brisebois, executive vice-president of affiliated dealers at Lowe’s.

Home Sales Slip Slightly

National home sales were down slightly in January 2017 on a month-over-month basis, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). National home sales declined 1.3 per cent from December 2016 to January 2017. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in January was up 1.9 per cent from a year earlier. The number of newly-listed homes dropped 6.7 per cent from December. Home sales over Canadian MLS systems edged down by 1.3 per cent month-over-month in January, putting them at the second lowest monthly level since the fall of 2015 and only slightly above levels recorded last November when recently tightened mortgage regulations came into effect. Sales activity was down from the previous month in about half of all local markets, led by three of Canada's largest urban centres: the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), ON; Greater Vancouver, BC; and Montreal, QC.

Buying Show Adds To Anniversary Celebrations

TIMBER MART continued its 50th anniversary celebrations with its seventh annual national buying show held from February 14 to 15. More than 1,100 TIMBER MART dealers and vendors flocked to the Toronto Congress Centre in Mississauga, ON, for the event, which featured a 60,000 square-foot show floor filled with over 220 vendor booths and a wide range of show displays and attractions. Displayed in the middle of the show floor was a print of a commissioned painting by Canadian artist, Robert Bateman. Every TIMBER MART member will receive a copy of one of these prints as a token of appreciation from the buying group in light of its anniversary. The show floor was also home TIMBER MART’s ‘Store on the Floor’ which featured merchandised displays of more than 2,500 SKUs of building materials and hardlines products, as well as TIMBER MART’s Solutions Centre which housed multiple information hubs for all its member services and programs, including: LBM solutions, TIMBER MART Essentials, dealer marketing, merchandising, and banner support. (We’re on Instagram, click here to visit Home Improvement Retailing’s Instagram page.)

Home Starts Decrease In U.S.

U.S. builders broke ground on fewer homes last month, led by a drop in apartment construction. The number of new housing starts declined 2.6 per cent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.25 million, says the Commerce Department. The drop came after a much larger gain the previous month. Single family housing starts rose 1.9 per cent, while apartment building dropped 7.9 per cent. Even with the decline, new home construction has increased 10.5 per cent in the past year. That gain has been fueled by rising demand for homes as more Americans are looking to buy. The department says many potential buyers are frustrated by a lack of available properties. The supply of existing homes fell in December to its lowest level since 1999. That has pushed up prices as buyers have had to bid against each other.

Arrow Launches Redesigned Website

Arrow Fastener Company has upgraded its website so it now includes user-friendly tools, products, tutorials, and everyday project ideas for a new generation of construction professionals and do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). A ‘buy now’ button will direct shoppers to the company’s online retail partner sites. It also features information and videos with the option to share across all major social media networking sites. Customers can access extensive product information on Arrow’s full line of products, including technical data and case studies. This site, available at, is accessible on mobile devices, desktops, and laptops.

Canadian Tire Revenues Increase

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited’s consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 increased $260.8 million, or 7.7 per cent, which includes a $25.1 million increase in petroleum revenue resulting from higher per litre gas prices. Excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue increased 7.9 per cent. Fourth quarter retail sales increased 9.6 per cent and same store sales were up 8.1 per cent over 2015. For the full year, consolidated revenue was up 4.8 per cent, excluding petroleum. Consolidated retail sales for 2016 were up 5.9 per cent excluding petroleum. Canadian Tire retail sales were up 5.6 per cent for the year over 2015 results and same store sales increased 4.2 per cent.

February 16, 2017

Manufacturing Sales Rise

Manufacturing sales increased for the second consecutive month, up 2.3 per cent to $53.5 billion in December, following a revised increase of 2.3 per cent in November, says Statistics Canada. The growth was mainly the result of higher sales of transportation equipment, as well as petroleum and coal products. Overall, sales were up in eight of 21 industries, representing 41 per cent of the manufacturing sector. Sales of durable goods rose 2.4 per cent, while sales of non-durable goods increased 2.1 per cent. In constant dollars, sales were up 2.3 per cent, indicating that higher volumes of manufactured goods were sold in December. Sales fell in 13 industries in December, with computer and electronic products manufacturing recording the sharpest decline, down five per cent to $1.1 billion. Sales grew in six provinces, but growth was concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Inventories were down 0.3 per cent to $69.6 billion for the month, the third consecutive monthly decrease.

U.S. Homebuilders Less Confident

U.S. homebuilders are feeling a bit less confident this month, reflecting a dimmer outlook for sales in the months ahead and fewer would-be buyers dropping by builders' sales offices. The decline comes ahead of the spring home-buying season which is traditionally the busiest time of the year builders and helps set the pace for home construction. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index fell to 65 this month. That's down two points from a revised reading of 67 in January. Analysts had been expecting an increase. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index has been above 60 since September. The latest reading marks the second decline in a row for the index, which reached the highest level in 11 years in December. Builders' view of sales now and over the next six months also fell, as did a gauge of traffic by prospective buyers.

Loyalty Card Programs Race To Bottom

The emotional bond of loyalty has been diluted to mean discounts in exchange for data, says David Segal, co-founder of DAVIDsTEA. Segal says if he could do it again, he would never have offered a loyalty program at the Canada-wide specialty tea boutique. “The rebate loyalty program is a race to the bottom,” he says. “These so-called loyalty programs devalue your brand, train your customer to expect discounts, erode your margin, and ultimately fail to create loyalty.” He recommends retailers instead focus on “personalized customer service, incredible products, and ease of use – these are the true keys to loyalty.” Read the full story on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Entrepreneurs Prefer Human Interaction

Most entrepreneurs (76 per cent) prefer to work with a partner that provides direct access to representatives they can contact to seek strategic business support and advice, finds a survey by UPS Canada. Of those respondents, 27 per cent would like to contact someone over the phone, 26 per cent prefer to contact someone via eMail, and 23 per cent would rather chat online. UPS says this proves the power of human interaction and speaks to the need to invest in customer service and provide direct engagement. Since UPS Canada launched a small business program in 2013, members have had access to a team of small business ambassadors. The dedicated group works with customers one-on-one to understand their business needs.

Cyber-attacks Continue To Rise

The number, sophistication, and severity of cyber-attacks on companies in Canada are each on the rise, finds a study from Scalar Decisions Inc. of more than 650 Canadian IT and security workers. The ‘2017 Scalar Security Study’ shows that confidence continues to decline among Canadian organizations for the third year in a row as fewer believe they are winning the quickly-evolving war on security. The average number of reported cyber-attacks on Canadian organizations rose to an average of 44 attacks per year, up nearly 30 per cent since the initial survey in 2014. The vast majority of respondents also report that both the severity (81 per cent) and sophistication (72 per cent) of attacks are increasing. The most frequent compromises continue to be web-borne malware attacks (76 per cent) followed by rootkits (67 per cent). Threats on the rise for 2017 include spear phishing, exploits of existing software vulnerability greater than three months old, and botnet attacks.

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