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News

December 7, 2017

Prud'homme Leads International

Sylvain Prud’homme is president, international with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. He will continue to serve as president and chief executive officer of Lowe’s Canada and add responsibilities for its Mexico business. He joined the retailer as president of Lowe's Canada in 2013 and, following the acquisition of RONA in 2016, was named president and CEO of Lowe's Canada. He is responsible for driving the Canadian home improvement business for Lowe's, including RONA's network of stores and independent dealers operating under other banners. Prior to Lowe's Canada, he served as executive vice-president of operations and merchandising for Loblaw Companies Limited. He was also president of western operations for Sobeys Inc. and spent several years as senior vice-president of operations and merchandising for Walmart Canada.


Home Ownership Declining, Despite Positive Views

Despite rising housing prices and government intervention, the majority of Canadians view real estate in Canada as a good long-term investment says the ‘Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market.’ The report says the majority of Canadians feel real estate is a good investment and view mortgage debt as ‘good debt.’ Canadians are also highly motivated to repay their mortgages. Each year, approximately one-third take actions that will shorten their amortization periods. The data shows that homeowners have a lot of equity in their homes and are well positioned should a housing decline occur. Yet, the homeownership rate is falling, as young, middle-class Canadians find it increasingly difficult to make first-time purchases. The report findings highlight that government policy is seemingly contributing to a falling homeownership rate and that younger Canadians are the ones being impacted the hardest – this trend is likely to continue as a result of the upcoming implementation of new B-20 underwriting guidelines. The report suggests this is causes a great risk to the economy and that policy makers must balance both risk and reward when implementing changes.


Best Buy Launches New Concept Store

Best Buy Canada is launching a new concept store in Montreal, QC, to provide consumers with a more immersive and interactive experience when they purchase electronics and appliances. The two-floor Best Buy 'Experience Store' has been renovated and will provide cutting-edge technology from brands by displaying live demos and high-impact vendor displays. The energetic modern design is complemented by flexibility-focused features such as raised access flooring. The layout can change and evolve to follow new product or category innovations. This means the new store can easily keep up with the technology it was designed to showcase. For example, for smart home technology, customers will be able to interact with products via the fully functioning smart home wall. As well, a visit to the major appliances showroom allows consumers to get inspiration for their dream kitchens while choosing the functionality that's best for them. The company is working to be a leader in its total retail approach to integrate online and instore shopping. As an example, customers can reserve products online and pick them up from any store in 20 minutes.


Toolway Launches Concrete Repair Kit

Toolway Industries Ltd. has launched Mix & Fix, a 15-minute concrete repair kit. This product is flexible and strong – it can support 40,000 pounds after three hours. It is ideal for many applications such as concrete floors, driveways, anchors, drains, steps, sidewalks, balconies, foundations, and more. It is perfect for the DIYer as no training is necessary. Visit www.mixandfix.ca


Dollarama Sales Climb

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $810.6 million for the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 9.7 per cent compared to sales of $738.7 million in the third quarter of 2016. Comparable store sales grew 4.6 per cent year over year. Gross margin for the quarter was 40.1 per cent of sales for the quarter, compared to gross margin of 39.5 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. Operating income was $189.3 million, or 23.3 per cent of sales in the third quarter, an increase of 18.4 per cent compared to operating income that was 21.6 per cent of sales last year. EBITDA grew 18.8 per cent to $207.3 million, or 25.6 per cent of sales compared to 23.5 per cent of sales. Net earnings were $130.1 million versus $110.1 million.


December 6, 2017

Businesses May Face Extreme Retention Challenges

Employers across Canada should brace themselves for staff churn as business success in 2017 was not matched with permanent hiring or pay raises, says the eighth annual ‘Hays Canada Salary Guide.’ It shows employers appear to instead have an increasing appetite for hiring temporary and contract help while offering teams salary increases of less than three per cent. Hays' labour market experts maintain that employer intentions overlook growing discontent among existing staff. In fact, 90 per cent of employees would consider leaving their current role for one that met their expectations — a sentiment Hays believes may trigger considerable business-threatening employee departures in 2018. The guide reveals that while employers were confident about business, they seem reluctant to commit to permanent staff which, in turn, contributes to eroded morale and increased workplace stress. Nearly three quarters of employers feel that Canada suffers from a skills shortage and, as a result, their staff is stressed (71 per cent), morale is impacted (43 per cent), inefficiencies are up (42 per cent), and errors/accidents are also on the rise (28 per cent). Adding to workplace stress and morale issues is the fact that a majority of employees would quit their current job if a better offer came their way and many (58 per cent) are heading into the new year unsure if their salary is competitive with the market average.


Quebec Homeownership Rate Lowest In Canada

In 2016, 61.3 per cent of Quebec households owned their home, compared to an average of 67.8 in Canada. The homeownership rate has been decreasing among young Quebecers since 2011. QFREB economists say household composition is one reason for the difference, with a high number of single-person households (33 per cent versus 28 per cent in the rest of Canada). It is harder for a single person to come up with a down payment. As well, the opportunity cost of ownership, which is the additional monthly amount that a tenant household can expect to pay to become an owner household, also appears to have an influence on the homeownership rate. Generally speaking, the higher the opportunity cost of ownership, the lower the homeownership rate. In fact, the difference between the costs associated with ownership and those associated with renting is often greater in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada. QFREB is trying to increase the homeownership rate in the province by advocating for an exemption of the welcome tax for first-time buyers. This measure would take the form of a refundable tax credit for the purchase of a first home and would help the province catch up in its homeownership rate. Like the Canadian Real Estate Association, the QFREB is also proposing a reform of the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP).


Lumber Producers Concerned Over Duties’ Effects

A dedicated effort is needed to ensure the survival of New Brunswick’s forest product sector, says the New Brunswick Lumber Producers (NBLP). In a statement on the effects of softwood lumber duties on shipments to the U.S., it says, "Sawmills are the lifeblood of many communities ... and a vital source of wood chips to the value chain of products made throughout New Brunswick — from particleboard in St. Stephen to tissue in Dieppe, pulp in Edmundston, and paper in Saint John. Thousands of New Brunswick jobs and local suppliers depend on this sector which impacts more communities than any other industry in the province." NBLP says it is supportive of the province of New Brunswick’s plan to defend its exclusion from softwood lumber duties. It also welcomes longer-term initiatives to develop new lumber and biofuel markets. The 10-member sawmills of the NBLP represent 95 per cent of softwood lumber production in New Brunswick.


Winnipeg Gets Giant Tiger Store

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Winnipeg, MB. The 19,600-square-foot store is stocked with home and family fashions, groceries, and everyday household needs. The store is operated by the North West Company, which has a master franchise agreement with Giant Tiger Stores Limited.


Bona Releases Training School Dates

Bona US has released its 2018 training schedule for the Bona Sand and Finish Training School. This full, four-day training is for hardwood floor contractors, distributors, retailers, and inspectors. This year, the training will include sessions on application best practices for Bona Craft Oil 2K System and demonstrations of Bona’s Silane-Based Adhesives. Canadian dates include January 9 to 12 and July 17 to 20 in Toronto, ON; and February 13 to 16 and August 14 to 17 in Vancouver, BC. For more information, call 1-800-872-5515 or visit www.bona.com


December 5, 2017

Renovation Leads Construction Spending

Investment in residential construction totalled $35.8 billion in the third quarter, up 9.1 per cent compared with the same period in 2016 and the largest increase since the fourth quarter of 2012, says Statistics Canada. For the first time in five years, residential construction investment rose on a year-over-year basis in every province. Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta posted the highest increases in the third quarter. All components contributed to the year-over-year increase, led by spending on renovation, up 8.1 per cent to $15.5 billion, followed by construction of single-family homes, up 11 per cent to $8.4 billion. Spending on renovation was up in every province for the first time since second quarter of 2006 and was the main driver for the increases in both Ontario ($614.6 million) and Quebec ($224.8 million). Renovations drove the increases in every province except Alberta and Prince Edward Island, where spending was led by investment in new single houses. The $495.2 million increase in Alberta was mainly due to single-home construction ($396.8 million), which accounted for 80.1 per cent of the total year-over-year increase in the province. At the national level, investment in row house construction reached a record high of $1.6 billion. In the third quarter, row houses represented over half of the total year-over-year increase for multi-unit building construction, despite accounting for just over one-fifth of total spending for multi-unit buildings.


Furniture Propels Wood Coatings Market

The global wood coatings market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.2 per cent between 2017 and 2022, to reach $2.23 billion by the end of the period, says a report by Zion Market Research. The market is driven by increased awareness for eco-friendly products, but hindered by higher raw material prices and stringent government regulations. Thus, increasing demand for low-VOC (volatile organic compound) wood coating products and the emergence of new product developments and technologies provide major opportunities to the wood coating market. On the basis of the type by resin, the global market is divided into acrylics, polyurethane, nitrocellulose, and melamine formaldehyde. Polyurethane held the largest market share of roughly 40 per cent in 2016; it is resistant to scratches, humidity, and yellowing and is able to retain light colours. Acrylic has the second largest market share. Furniture is the leading application for these products, followed by cabinets and decks. Furniture is also the fastest growing application segment of the market.


JYSK Opens Store In Brampton

Scandinavian home furniture retailer JYSK has opened its 24th store. The Brampton, ON, store offers 30,000 square feet of retail space. The company has been steadily expanding in Canada for more than 21 years with 62 stores operating across all provinces.


Vicwest Expanding Operations

Vicwest Inc. is expanding its manufacturing facilities in Stratford, ON. The company will amalgamate its Ontario-based operations into a centralized location, says Bernard Lewis, senior vice-president of operations. Currently, the industrial mills are operating in Oakville, ON. This buildout will allow for the Oakville mills to be moved to the expanded Stratford facility. The Oakville offices will move to a new facility in Burlington, ON. The changes are expected to be complete by mid-2018.


Drouillard Achievement Award Correction

The news item on Monday about Greg Drouillard receiving the ‘2017 Industry Achievement Award’ by the Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario (LBMAO) contained an error. The news item indicated Drouilliard is the owner of Watson Building Materials when, in fact, he is the owner of Target Building Materials Ltd. Home Improvement Retailing apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this error. Target Building Materials is celebrating its 50th anniversary, as indicated in the original news item.


December 4, 2017

NAFTA Collapse Would Batter Retail Sector

As NAFTA negotiations continue to flounder, the collapse of the agreement grows more and more likely, threatening a drastic hit to Canadian retailers. For every one per cent increase in tariffs on U.S.-originating retail goods, retailers in Canada would see their costs increase by at least $1 billion, says a report by A.T. Kearney. ‘The End of NAFTA; What It Means for Canada’s Retail Sector’ says three scenarios are likely should NAFTA negotiations break down to the point where the trade agreement is dissolved: Canada and the U.S. return to the bilateral free trade agreement in force before NAFTA; tariffs on U.S. imports into Canada change to rates applied on other nations’ exports to Canada under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules; and rising nationalism and protectionism has the U.S. raise tariffs beyond its WTO commitments, prompting Canada to set retaliatory tariffs. As well, with NAFTA gone, the macroeconomic impact of rising costs and a slowing Canadian GDP on household spending changes further adds to the pain for retailers in Canada. “The rules of what happens after NAFTA are not very clear,” says Johan Gott, principal with A.T. Kearney and a trade specialist. “President Trump can take the U.S. out of NAFTA with the stroke of a pen, but rules of trade are set and governed by Congress in the United States. If NAFTA were dissolved, the White House and Congress would have to agree to new rules and that has proven a very difficult and long process on other important issues.” The report is available here


Small Business Optimism Edges Up

Heading into the holiday season, small business optimism in Canada is showing signs of improvement, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Its ‘Business Barometer’ survey shows that following a small gain in October, the monthly index measuring small business optimism edged up another two points in November to 59.3 (out of 100). Provincial results were mixed: increasing confidence in Ontario (58.3), Alberta (56.2), Prince Edward Island (55.8), and Newfoundland and Labrador (49) were enough to offset lower optimism in the other provinces. Quebec (65.4) businesses remain the most optimistic in the country, despite its index losing points for the third month in a row. British Columbia (60.8) and Nova Scotia (59.9) lost ground as well, but indexes there remain just above the national average. Sentiment in Manitoba (55.3) and Saskatchewan (52.3) shows only a minor downgrade from October results, while New Brunswick (51.4) experienced a more dramatic drop. As far as optimism by industry sector, sentiment dropped in the professional services and retail industries, but increased confidence among small business owners in both the natural resource and agriculture sectors continues.


Alexandria Moulding Acquires House Of Fara

Alexandria Moulding has acquired LaPorte, IN-based House of Fara, a family-owned business founded in 1961. It specializes in the manufacturing of standard, decorative, and embossed hardwood mouldings, in addition to other specialty products. Alexandria says this partnership is a cultural fit and solidifies its hardwood supply and product offering through its distribution facilities. As well, House of Fara assets will allow Alexandria to further strengthen its North American manufacturing presence. The integration of the companies will take place over the upcoming months.


Drouillard Received Achievement Award

Members of the Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario (LBMAO) have elected Greg Drouillard, owner of Watson Building Materials in Windsor, ON, to receive the ‘2017 Industry Achievement Award.’ The objective of the award is to recognize an active member of LBMAO who has made significant contributions to the LBM industry and their community. He received the award at LBMAO’s 100th anniversary gala dinner in mid-November. This year also mark’s Watson Building Material’s 50th anniversary.


Weyerhaeuser Updates App

Weyerhaeuser has upgraded its mobile app. The app now provides quicker and easier access to the company’s literature and technical documents. Users can sync their accounts from the document library at Weyerhaeuser.com with their mobile device to access their binders from anywhere. The documents can be created, saved, customized, and shared via the app on the mobile device, allowing users to review technical, installation, and warranty information on the job site. The app is free and available for Apple or Android.


RH Promotes Two

Sandra Stangl is president, chief merchandising and business development officer, with RH. Previously, she was president of new business development. David Stanchak is president, chief real estate and development officer. Before this, he was chief real estate and transformation officer.


Sears Holdings Loss Less

Sears Holdings Corporation had a net loss of $558 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to a net loss of $748 million in the third quarter of 2016, an improvement of $190 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $(275) million, compared to $(375) in the prior-year quarter. Revenues were $3.7 billion compared with revenues of $5 billion a year ago. Store closures contributed to the decline. Total comparable store sales declined 15.3 per cent during the third quarter.


December 1, 2017

Canada Takes U.S. Lumber Duties To WTO

Canada has formally requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with the U.S. concerning the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent final anti-dumping and countervailing duty determinations on imports of certain softwood lumber products from Canada. A statement from the Natural Resources Ministry says the government “will continue to vigorously defend our industry against protectionist trade measures. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision on punitive countervailing and anti-dumping duties against Canada's softwood lumber producers is unfair, unwarranted, and deeply troubling. That is why we announced an $867 million action plan to support affected workers and communities and to chart a stronger future for our workers.” The government wants the U.S. administration to rescind these duties, which it says harm workers and communities in Canada as well as in the U.S. The ministry will also convene the ‘Federal-Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber’ in the coming days to discuss developments.


Quincaillerie Rousseau Joins BMR

Quincaillerie Rousseau has joined the Groupe BMR network as a bannered dealer. Quincaillerie Rousseau is a family run business that has been based in Saint-Lambert, ON, on the south shore of Montreal for 82 years. They have decided to change their group affiliation after operating under the same banner for the past 42 years. Owner Philippe Desjardins says he joined the group for its support and awareness of the impact businesses can have in a community. The store will have a complete makeover.


More Canadians Using Mobile To Shop

Canadians will spend more than $2.5 billion using their mobile devices to shop for holiday gifts this year, says research from PayPal. The company says in the third quarter of this fiscal year, more than 35 per cent of the transactions it processed globally originated from a mobile device and it expects to see a surge in mobile commerce in Canada over the holidays. The research shows that Canadian mobile shoppers plan to spend more than $200 on holiday gifts from purchasing directly from their mobile device, which is fairly close to the $275 they plan to spend on buying gifts from a physical retail store. Many say they would use their mobile device to find and compare prices (62 per cent) and research products (60 per cent). Holiday shopping from mobile devices appears to be a preferred choice for those who live in Atlantic Canada. Four out of five Canadians in the Atlantic provinces prefer to check off their gift-list by shopping from their mobile device because it offers more flexibility and helps them avoid long checkout lines, holiday crowds, and parking hassles. Both men and women will use their mobile devices to shop this year, though the survey found distinct differences in how they will make their purchases. Women estimate to spend more on mobile shopping for the holidays – an average of $200 compared to $167, which is the average men expect to spend. More men (64 per cent) said a mobile device is their preferred shopping method for the holidays compared to 51 per cent of women who are likely to use their mobile device to shop.


CANAC Cancels Loyalty Program

After a partnership of 15 years, CANAC – a Quebec chain of 26 hardware and building materials stores – is ending its affiliation with Quebec loyalty program, Milleplein. Customers have until the end of the year to redeem points at CANAC stores. The retailer says it will invest instead in low-price strategies to remain competitive in the Quebec home improvement retailing industry.


Company Offers Instant eCommerce Lending

Fintech lender PayBright has launched an instant financing solution for eCommerce for the retail and home improvement sectors, among others. After a three-month trial period, it now approves more than $5 million per month in credit for consumers shopping online at its 2,500 merchant partners. The solution integrates with merchants' eCommerce platforms and provides customers with an additional payment option at checkout. After selecting PayBright as a payment method, customers can finalize their purchases in a matter of seconds. Merchants receive their funds directly from PayBright the next business day and customers then pay for their purchases in monthly payments. The platform is currently integrated with the Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and Solidus eCommerce platforms. The company plans to release several additional platform integrations early next year.


Home Hardware Chair Recognized

Christine Hand, the chairman of the board for Home Hardware Stores Limited, has been recognized as one of ‘Canada’s Most Powerful Women’ by the Women’s Executive Network. The award honours remarkable women in nine different categories, highlighting those who fearlessly push boundaries in their careers, amongst peers, and for their communities. A long-time Home Hardware dealer-owner, Hand was first elected to the board of directors in 2003 and in 2012 became chair. She is now in her sixth consecutive term as board chair.


Revenues Build For Renoworks

Renoworks Software Inc. had revenues of $800,356 for the third quarter of 2017, a 10 per cent increase over revenues of $730,835 in the third quarter of 2016. Gross margins for the quarter were 73 per cent. Annual recurring revenue was $414,284, an increase of six per cent versus annual recurring revenue of $392,217 in the year-ago period. The company had a loss of $295,410 compared to a profit of $87,697 a year ago.


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