Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


August 4, 2017

Lowe’s Opens Carignan RONA

Lowe’s Canada celebrated the official opening of its ninth RONA store since the beginning of 2017. Located in Carignan, QC, the new store has a retail area of nearly 65,000 square feet, including a garden centre of more than 7,500 square feet. In addition to the full range of RONA products available on, customers of RONA Carignan have access to more than 20,000 in-store products, including home appliances. The store also offers product categories including paint, lighting, hardware, electricity, tools, and seasonal products. Specialty departments include building supplies, doors and windows, bathrooms and kitchens, plumbing, and flooring. The store offers installation, cutting, and delivery services as well as AIR MILES rewards and RONAdvantages financing program.

U.S. Construction Drops Unexpectedly

U.S. construction spending unexpectedly fell in June as investment in public projects recorded its biggest drop since March 2002, says the Commerce Department. Construction spending tumbled 1.3 per cent to $1.21 trillion, the lowest level since September 2016. Spending in May was revised to show it rising 0.3 per cent. Investment in public construction projects plunged 5.4 per cent, the biggest drop since March 2002. The decline pushed public construction spending to its lowest level since February 2014. Spending on private construction projects slipped 0.1 per cent after a similar drop in May. Investment in private residential construction fell 0.2 per cent.

Shopify Celebrates 500,000 Customers

Shopify Inc., a multi-channel commerce platform, now powers more than 500,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world. Since 2012, the number of merchants on the Shopify platform has grown annually at an average rate of 74 per cent, and these merchants have achieved over $40 billion dollars in sales. Shopify’s customers include small businesses as it has designed its platform to remove the technical, operational, and financial barriers to enable anyone anywhere to build, grow, and scale a business. The company says more than 131 million people have bought from Shopify stores in the last 12 months. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, the company’s mandate is to help current and future merchants adapt and create seamless shopping experiences by interweaving tools like mobile, analytics, and innovative products with marketing and customer service.

LP To Acquire International Barrier Technology

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) plans to acquire Minnesota-based International Barrier Technology Inc. Once approved, Barrier will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of LP. Barrier manufactures the fire-retardant coating used in LP FlameBlock fire-rated products. LP says the acquisition will help accelerate its growth into new markets as the trend for more fire resistance products in residential and commercial buildings continues to escalate, driven by changing building codes and their enforcement.

Norbord Sees Earnings Growth

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $165 million for the second quarter of 2017 versus $94 million in the second quarter of 2016. Adjusted earnings for the quarter were $95 million versus $42 million a year ago. North American operations had adjusted EBITDA of $157 million compared to $85 million. North American OSB shipments increased three per cent year-over-year.

PFB Has Weak Quarter

PFB Corporation had consolidated net income for $412,000 for the second quarter of its fiscal 2017, compared to consolidated net income $1.8 million for the second quarter of 2016. Consolidated sales were $29.4 million for the quarter compared to consolidated sales of $28.5 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin during the period declined to 18.6 per cent from 26.2 per cent a year ago. EBITDA was $1.8 million compared to $4.1 million.

August 3, 2017

Fastway Acquiring North American Lumber

The Fastway Group, a subsidiary of Mill Street & Co., plans to acquire the business operations of North American Lumber Limited (NAL). Established in 1916, NAL consists of 11 locations and serves communities in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The retailer offers a broad range of products including lumber, hardware, and building materials. NAL’s “strong market reputation and geographical breadth spanning central Canada represents a significant step forward in creating a next generation national leader for lumber and building supplies in Canada,” says Noah Murad, president of Mill Street & Co. “This is a strong addition to the group that will provide immediate value to the Fastway Group customers, as well as Mill Street & Co. and its partners.” Mill Street & Co. is a diversified investment company that owns a variety of companies, including some in different segments of the home improvement industry.

Masco Relocates Headquarters

Masco Corporation has opened its newly-constructed corporate headquarters in Livonia, MI. The 91,220 square-foot facility is home to 220 employees and is situated on a 12-acre lot. The company’s brands and products are featured throughout the building, including Behr paint on the walls, BrassCraft plumbing products, and KraftMaid cabinets. The building also features a history room showcasing milestones and artifacts from the company’s 85-year history. There are 40 conference rooms, a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness centre, adjustable workspaces, a 24/7 fresh food market, and a patio for employees to use for outdoor work or relaxation. Masco’s research and development centre will remain at the former headquarters location in Taylor, MI.

Trex Acquires SC

Trex Company has acquired substantially all of the assets of SC Company, a manufacturer and supplier of custom architectural railings and staging solutions based in Brooklyn Park, MN. This purchase expands Trex's reach into the commercial arena and serves as the foundation for the launch of Trex Commercial Products. Founded in 1990, SC Company is composed of two product categories ‒ SC Railing and Staging Concepts. SC Railing offers custom-designed engineered railing solutions, which are prevalent in stadium and arena facilities, as well as more standardized architectural and aluminum railing systems which target commercial and high-rise applications. Staging Concepts is a supplier of staging equipment for the global performing arts, sports, and event production markets.

Saint-Gobain Reports Increases

Saint-Gobain had sales of €20,409 million for the first half of 2017, a 4.4 per cent increase over the first half of 2016. Operating income for the period increased 7.1 per cent for the six-month period compared to the same period a year ago. Operating margin was 7.2 per cent compared to seven per cent. The company’s innovative materials segment sales for the first half increased 4.1 per cent like-for-like, driven by flat glass. The construction products (CP) segment sales were up 3.7 per cent like-for-like. Within the CP segment, interior solutions had 4.1 per cent organic growth and exterior solutions had a sales climb of 3.4 per cent. Building distribution like-for-like sales rose 3.2 per cent.

Mohawk Income Rises

Mohawk Industries, Inc. had operating income of $356 million in the second quarter of 2017, compared to operating income of $351 million in the second quarter of 2016. Net earnings for the quarter were $261 million, compared to $255 million a year ago. Net sales were $2.5 billion, up six per cent over net sales of $2.3 billion. For the quarter, sales for the global ceramic segment increased approximately nine per cent year-over-year; the flooring North America sales increased six per cent and flooring ‘rest of the world’ sales increased two per cent.

Registration Kicks Off For KBIS

Registration is now open for the ‘2018 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show’ (KBIS). Kitchen and bath design professionals will have access to 2,100 exhibitors and a diverse mix of programming designed to showcase the latest design trends and topics in kitchen and bath. The show will be held alongside the National Association of Home Builders and the International Builders’ Show (IBS) during ‘Design & Construction Week.’ It takes place January 9 to 11, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. For more information, visit 2018,

August 2, 2017

Consumers Concerned About Data Security

Eighty-five per cent of adults in the U.S. UK, and Australia believe the number of criminals trying to steal credit and debit card data is increasing, says a survey by Transaction Network Services (TNS). More than two-thirds are concerned about the security of their payment card data and 38 per cent feel their private credit or debit card data has been put at risk by a data breach, irrelevant of whether they subsequently were a victim of fraud. The survey shows consumers feel strongly that banks, retailers, and other organizations involved in the payment card industry need to do more to protect their personal data. The survey also shows that 74 per cent of respondents believe encryption would be a solution to protect their personal data.

IKEA Canada Opens More Collection Points

IKEA Canada has launched collection points in Victoria, Kelowna, and Nanaimo, BC, and Bathurst, NB. Customers can now shop online for IKEA home furnishings and have them delivered to their nearest collection point for a cost of $59 to $79, regardless of the size and value of their purchase. This compares to the average home delivery fee of $170. The collection points are not IKEA stores and are owned by third-party service providers. As such, they do not have any IKEA products available for purchase.

Alexanian Opens Flagship Store

Alexanian Carpet and Flooring has opened ‘The SIGNATURE by Shelley Alexanian,’ in Toronto, ON. The business was designed as the company’s flagship store to offer “the ultimate retail shopping experience with product displays and iPad integration,” says Shelley Alexanian. The store will offer customers cappuccinos and expresso while they view inspiration stations and the designer’s presentation centre. It will carry hardwoods, wool carpets, laminates, vinyl plank, porcelain tile, marble, granite, cork, and area rugs from around the world.

Spectrum Sales Down

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. has net sales of $1.3 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, a decrease of 4.2 per cent compared to net sales of $1.36 billion in the third quarter of 2016. Net income for the quarter was $76.9 million, a decrease versus net income of $101.9 million in the previous-year quarter. Operating income was $157.8 million, a decrease of 23.7 per cent compared to $206.7 million in fiscal 2016. Adjusted EBITDA was $263.9 million in the third quarter, a decrease of 5.5 per cent compared to $279.2 million in fiscal 2016. Global battery net sales decreased $2.4 million or 1.3 per cent in the third quarter and net sales in the global small appliances product category fell $5.7 million or 3.8 per cent. The hardware and home improvement segment had net sales of $324.7 million, a decrease of 1.2 per cent versus net sales of $328.5 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA for the segment was $62.2 million, a decrease of 4.6 per cent versus adjusted EBITDA of $65.2 million in 2016.

Revenues Strong For CanWel

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had revenues of $320 million for the second quarter of 2017, a 10.3 per cent increase over revenues of $290 million in the second quarter of 2016. Gross margin for the quarter was $39.2 million, a 0.8 per cent decrease over gross margin of $39.5 million in the year-ago period. Gross margin percentage was 12.2 per cent of revenues versus 13.7 per cent during the same period in 2016. Adjusted EBITDA was $20.5 million, a 4.8 per cent increase compared to adjusted EBITDA of $19.5 million a year ago.

August 1, 2017

Canadian Retail Sales Perk Up

Total Canadian retail sales showed the highest increase in seven years, with a 7.8 per cent year-over-year increase for the second quarter, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. The underlying 12-month trend has now also turned up and is at a six-year high. He says it is sustainable not only because of the automotive and related sector, but other retail sectors are now also contributing, resulting in a positive picture for store retail. Nevertheless, conditions are still tentative. “History shows that things can turn the other way quite quickly.” eCommerce sales represented about 2.4 per cent of retailers’ sales for the 12 months ending May 2017, he says. “Year-to-date results for 2017 (five months) show that Canadian eCommerce sales are up 42 per cent from a year ago, a much higher gain than for retail in general.”

Hudson's Bay Opening Quebec Store

Hudson's Bay is opening a store in LaSalle, QC, in the fall of 2018. The one-level store will encompass approximately 129,000 square feet and will offer a collection of fashion, beauty, home, and accessory designers and brands.

More Americans To Buy Homes

Americans signed more contracts to buy homes in June, snapping a three-month decline in pending sales, says the National Association of Realtors. Its pending home sales index rose 1.5 per cent in June to 110.2. That gain still puts the pace of contract signings below its March level. The index has increased just 0.5 per cent over the past 12 months and is unlikely to cause a burst of home buying. Prices are climbing faster than wages while number of homes listed for sale has plunged. There were 1.96 million homes for sale in June, a 7.1 per cent decline from a year ago. Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A sale is typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed.

Strong Growth Forecast For Gypsum Board

The global gypsum board market is expected to reach US$79.17 billion by 2025, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. High purchasing and borrowing power, easy availability of housing finances, and an increasing number of dual-income families are some of the key factors driving construction industry growth. Pre-decorated boards are gaining wide acceptance in various construction projects owing to their low maintenance and easy installation properties which makes them cost and time effective. Growing focus towards environmentally sustainable green building construction materials, which reduces overall overhead expenses has also boosted industry growth. Gypsum products hold the potential to replace traditional building materials including wood, steel, and glass owing to their wide application scope. The global gypsum board demand exceeded 11.68 billion square metres in 2016 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1 per cent from 2017 to 2025.

Tembec Sales Increase

Tembec Inc. had consolidated sales of $419 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2017, an increase over consolidated sales of $376 million for the third quarter of 2016. Net earnings were $17 million for the quarter compared to $9 million for the year-ago period. EBITDA was $59 million versus $26 million. The forest products segment had adjusted EBITDA of $20 million on sales of $114 for the third quarter compared to adjusted EBITDA of $10 million on sales of $110 million.

Earnings Down For Whirlpool

Whirlpool Corporation had net earnings of $189 million for the second quarter of 2017 versus net earnings of $320 million for the second quarter of 2016. Second-quarter net sales were $5.3 billion, compared to $5.2 billion in the same prior-year period. Operating profit was $274 million, or 5.1 per cent of sales, compared to $368 million, or 7.1 per cent of sales, in the same year-ago period. Net sales for the North American region were $3 billion for the second quarter, compared to $2.8 billion in 2016.

July 31, 2017

Retailers Turning To AI

Eighty-seven per cent of retailers plan an increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to service their customers moving forward, finds a survey by Linc in partnership with BrandGarage. ‘How AI Technology Will Transform Customer Engagement’ states retail executives are placing an overwhelming emphasis on automated platforms to improve customer communication. Some examples of AI technology include chat on Facebook Messenger and voice-through voice assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. These technologies can unlock new revenue, reduce costs, and boost customer loyalty, satisfaction, and lifetime value. Of the retailers that plan to use AI, 44 per cent will use a conversational commerce interface. While only 7.7 per cent of retailers have rolled out AI as a regular part of customer service to-date, adoption is growing rapidly. Thirty-four per cent of retailers report they have begun experimenting with customer-facing AI trials or pilots. An overwhelming majority plan to embrace AI in the next 24 months, as they seek AI-powered solutions to improve customer service and engagement.

New Homes Sales Increase

In June, the GTA's new housing market continued to climb with condominium sales reaching a new record high, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Sales of new multi-family condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes jumped nearly 59 per cent from May and prices for available units also continued to push higher, says Altus Group, BILD's source for new home market intelligence. New home sales were up 23 per cent from June 2016 with 28,889 new homes sold so far in 2017 – a 14 per cent increase from the same period in 2016 and a 44 per cent jump from the 10-year average. About 91 per cent of the 6,046 new homes sold last month were multi-family condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes, while only nine per cent were low-rise single-family homes. New condo sales surpassed the previous record set in March 2017 with 5,495 units sold last month, up by 89 per cent from a year ago and well above the 10-year average of 2,550 units sold. In June, 551 new single-family low-rise homes were sold reflecting a 72 per cent drop from last year and 64 per cent off the 10-year average.

Hunter Douglas Launches Smart Blinds Technology

Hunter Douglas now has available ‘PowerView Motorization’ as the next step in its intelligent window shades. PowerView creates an ambiance in any room, at any time of the day. Rather than manually adjusting blinds in co-ordination with the position of the sun, users can program how they want each room to be positioned at different times of the day based on their light, privacy, and room ambiance preferences. The company says this has an impact on the home’s energy efficiency and household costs as well, especially because more than 50 per cent of a home’s energy is lost through the windows.

Owens Corning Sales Slip

Owens Corning had consolidated net sales of $1.60 billion in the second quarter of 2017, an increase of three per cent compared with net sales of $1.55 billion in second-quarter of 2016. Net earnings for the quarter were $96 million compared to net earning of $138 million in the comparable quarter in 2016. EBIT was $190 million compared to EBIT of $240 million.

Masco Corporation Sees Steady Sales

Masco Corporation had sales of $2.1 billion in the second quarter of 2017, an increase of three per cent over sales in the second quarter of 2016. Operating profit for the quarter was $357 million, an increase of seven per cent over the previous-year period. Net sales for the plumbing products division increased three per cent over the same quarter a year ago; net sales for the decorative architectural products division increased five per cent; net sales for the cabinetry products division increased four per cent; and net sales for the windows and other specialty products division increased four per cent.

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