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News

April 16, 2018

March Home Sales Improve Slightly

National home sales edged higher from February to March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales inched up 1.3 per cent with actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity down 22.7 per cent from last year's all-time March record. The number of newly-listed homes rose 3.3 per cent from February to March and the MLS Home Price Index

(HPI) in March was up 4.6 per cent year-over-year. The national average sale price declined by 10.4 per cent year-over-year. Sales were up from the previous month in over half of all local housing markets, led by Ottawa, ON, and Montreal, QC. Monthly sales gains were offset by declines in British Columbia's lower mainland, the Okanagan Region, and Chilliwack and in Calgary and Edmonton, AB. CREA says government policy changes have made home buyers and sellers increasingly uncertain about the outlook for home prices. These changes are fueling demand for lower-priced homes while shrinking the pool of qualified buyers for higher-priced homes.


Castle Holds AGM In San Diego

Castle Building Centres Group returned to the historic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA, to celebrate its 55th Annual General Meeting.

The iconic hotel seen the likes of 12 American presidents, countless Hollywood stars, and the rich and famous from all over the globe. The event drew close to 450 Castle shareholders, vendor partners, and their families. Throughout the week, guests experienced exclusive events on and off-site and had the opportunity to participate in educational presentations including Castle360 business sessions. Peter Mansbridge, Canadian journalist and public figure, delivered the keynote address highlighting some of his most memorable journeys around the world.


Spring Market Theme 'One Solution'

Home Hardware Stores Limited's '2018 Spring Dealer Market' launched at the company's main warehouse in St. Jacob's, ON, on Sunday. The theme of the market is 'One Solution' and will include the unveiling of the latest Beauti-Tone colour card with the Toronto Blue Jays and keynote speaker Marnie McBean, a three-time Olympic gold medallist in rowing.

The event takes place until April 17 and is not open to the public.


Lowe's Canada Raises Funds For Locker Room

Lowe's Canada is launching a fundraising campaign to renovate the Humboldt Broncos locker room in the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt SK.

For the next month, RONA and Lowe's customers across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will be invited to donate $1 toward this cause. Lowe's Canada will match every dollar collected up to $10,000. "I have been in close contact with the Broncos for many years, and, like many of us in Humboldt, I felt compelled to help our community heal by taking action after the tragedy," says Evan Pronych, owner of the RONA Humboldt Lumber Mart dealer store and instigator of this initiative.

"Several people within the Broncos organization and the Humboldt community have suggested that giving the Broncos a new locker room, which needs renovations, could help us grieve and, when the time comes, move forward as a community." Sixteen people died, including 10 players, and another 13 were injured after a transport truck and a bus taking the Humboldt Broncos to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game on April 6 collided at a rural intersection.


Employers Offering Perks To Stand Out

Canadian employers are offering a variety of perks to their employees to supplement typical compensation and benefits packages, and to set themselves apart from competitors. The Conference Board of Canada's 'Perks at Work report' shows that at the top of the range in terms of value are perks such as perquisite and car allowances, while the most common perks include professional membership reimbursement, mobile phones, employee parking, and education grants. Of the Canadian organizations surveyed, 90 per cent offer professional membership reimbursement and 86 per cent offer mobile phones. A majority of responding organizations also offer employee parking (76 per cent), employee education grants (60 per cent), and car allowances (56 per cent). The most common perks offered to all employees tend to be those available on location at an organization's office such as on-site fitness centres and on-site child care.


April 13, 2018

Employers Working Hard To Recruit

Canadian employers are working harder and spending more to recruit and retain recent post-secondary graduates in an increasingly competitive labour market, says a report by Morneau Shepell. It found that 83 per cent of companies participate in co-op programs and other forms of work-integrated learning initiatives that help them identify potential new employees. This is up from 76 per cent two years ago. Companies are also investing in more training than they did two years ago. Fifty-one per cent of employers spend more than $1,000 per employee per year, while 30 per cent spend between $500 and $1,000 per worker. In 2016, those numbers were 46 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Fifty-seven per cent of employers say a shortage of skilled workers is having either a moderate (40 per cent) or severe (17 per cent) impact on their industry. In addition, 70 per cent of companies say their expectations of new graduates are higher now than five years ago, attributing those increased expectations to a changing work environment resulting from rapid technological advancements. By the same token, employers say that new graduates typically expect more from the workplace than their predecessors did five years ago. Today, graduates are looking for more money, challenging assignments, increased flexibility and mobility, and quicker advancement, the report says.


Home Hardware Remains A Best Managed Company

Home Hardware Stores Limited has again received the designation as one of ‘Canada's Best Managed Companies.’ This is the sixth year in a row the company has received the recognition. It was recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. The 2018 best managed companies share commonalities that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability, and commitment to talent.


Amazon’s Echo Spot Now In Canada

Amazon’s Echo Spot, a member of the Echo family, is now available in Canada. Echo Spot works with Alexa, but is smaller in design than the Echo Dot and features a circular display screen. Users can work with Alexa to control home automated products, alarms, and calendars, make calls, and more. The screen allows video ability as well and can display the time, date, videos, images, and more. The Echo Spot features second-generation far-field technology with four microphones, acoustic beam-forming technology, and enhanced noise cancellation.


RPM CEO Recognized By ACA

Frank C. Sullivan, chairman and chief executive officer of RPM International Inc., was awarded the ‘George Baugh Heckel Award’ by the American Coatings Association (ACA). This award is the ACA’s highest honour and presented in recognition of Sullivan’s leadership efforts on behalf of the association and the industry.


April 12, 2018

Customers Turning Away From Service

Ninety-five per cent of consumers want to be left alone while shopping unless they need a store associate’s help, says a survey by HRC Retail Advisory. The survey shows many shoppers are moving away from the hands-on, personalized service from store associates and instead turning to friends and family via social media to share pictures and gather opinions before they buy. As well, the majority of shoppers now look to in-store technology for customer service. HRC says it will be critical for retailers to identify the right technologies and pair them with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations. Eighty-five per cent of consumers want to be able to check prices at price scanners throughout a store rather than having to ask a sales associate for pricing information. As well, 76 per cent of consumers rate an in-store app that will provide personal recommendations as important. However, preferring technology is not always the case. Only eight per cent of consumers think having the option to pay with a mobile app is important.


Consumers Seeking Differentiated Experience

While price is still the primary factor in purchasing decisions, consumers are increasingly seeking out the differentiated shopping experience – one that provides a rich, informative, and personalized online and instore experience, finds a report by omnichannel commerce platform Kibo. The annual ‘2018 Consumer Trends Report – Engaging the Informed Consumer’ shows that while 61 per cent of survey participants say price is the top factor influencing purchase decisions, that percentage is down by more than 12.8 per cent year-over-year. By contrast, the importance of the shopping experience doubled and the percentage of participants naming the variety and speed of fulfillment options as deciding factors grew by 1.3 times and three times, respectively. Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) is now considered a mainstream offering, with 67 per cent of survey participants having used it in the past six months. The ability to inspect items in the store before taking them home was the BOPIS benefit whose importance grew the most year over year ‒ suggesting that stores’ tactile experiences are important brand assets. Substantiating this finding is shoppers’ increasing willingness to engage store associates for assistance finding items; 57 per cent of survey respondents said they’ve done so, an 18.75 per cent increase from 2017.


Miele Canada Opens In Yorkdale Mall

High-end domestic appliance supplier Miele Canada is opening a store in Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, ON. Slated to open this summer, this will be the first location for the brand in a highly-frequented premium shopping mall, the company says. The store will be approximately 2,200 square feet. Miele has four ‘experience centres’ in Canada in Toronto, Calgary, AB, Montreal, QC, and Vancouver, BC. The head office is in Vaughan, ON. The Yorkdale Shopping Centre has approximately 18 million visitors per year.


Peugeot North America Changes Name

Kitchenware manufacturer PSP Peugeot North America, LLC has changed its name to Peugeot Saveurs North America, LLC, effective immediately. The company says the new name is more meaningful because the word ‘saveurs’ is French for flavour and can also be translated as taste, savour, appeal, charm, and attractive – connotations steeped deep in French heritage and culture. “The name reflects our North American presence as an important subsidiary of Peugeot Saveurs SNC,” says Yvette Laugier, managing director of Peugeot Saveurs North America. There are no changes in the company’s management, office location, phone, or fax.


CPCA To Honour Industry Champions

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) will honour several individuals for their distinguished contributions to the industry at its annual conference and AGM to be held May 24. The ‘Industry Achievement Award’ will be presented to Erik Bos (Sansin Corporation), Chris Goudey (John E. Goudey Manufacturing Ltd.), Eric Vaillancourt (CANLAK), and Steve Sides (American Coatings Association). This award is presented to an individual or an organization that has demonstrated exceptional achievement in advancing the interests of the industry and the association’s objectives. The ‘Industry Statesmen Award’ will be presented to Ron Nakamura (PPG Canada), Ed Thompson (L.V. Lomas), Jeff Danneman (REICHHOLD), Jean-Guy Rosa (PPG Canada), Ed Linton (Cloverdale Paint), and Rennie Herry (Goudey). This award is presented to outstanding individuals who are retiring from their respective companies but have made a significant contribution to the industry.


Fastenal Has Strong Sales

Fastenal Company had net sales of $1,185 million for the first quarter of 2018, a 13.2 per cent increase over net sales of $1,047 million for the first quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $577.6 million, an increase of 11.5 per cent over gross profit of $518 million in the year-ago period. Operating income rose 10.4 per cent to $234.5 million and EBIT increased 10 per cent to $231.9 million. Net earnings were $174.3 million, up 29.9 per cent over net earnings of $134.2 million a year ago.


April 11, 2018

Housing Starts Increase Mild

The trend in housing starts was 226,842 units in March 2018, compared to 225,804 units in February 2018, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Rising March housing starts capped off a strong first quarter in starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA). Starts of multifamily condominium and rental units led the increase, with activity concentrated in the core areas of the city of Vancouver, Richmond, and North Vancouver in the first quarter of this year. Housing starts in the Edmonton, AB, CMA continued to trend lower in March due in part to a declining trend in multi-family construction where inventory levels remain elevated. Led by condominium apartment starts, the total number of housing starts in the Toronto, ON, CMA trended up to reach a seven-month high during March. Relatively affordable prices of condominium apartments continued to draw buyers towards purchasing pre-construction units. The level of housing starts for the total aggregate of Quebec's urban centres remained stable in the first quarter, in both the single-detached home and multi-unit housing segments. The single-detached market in Halifax, NS, continues to expand over the first quarter, up 42 per cent compared to the same period last year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 225,213 units in March, down from 231,026 units in February.


Economic Optimism Drops Significantly

Optimism about the Canadian economy is down significantly amid views the country is becoming less competitive, says a survey of professional accountants by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). The survey finds that the top three challenges to the Canadian economy are U.S. trade protectionism (30 per cent), uncertainty in the Canadian economy (16 per cent), and U.S. tax reforms (seven per cent). A majority of those surveyed (84 per cent) say a detailed analysis of U.S. tax reforms to assess the potential impact on Canada is urgently needed and 93 per cent say the results should be made public. "Canadian business leaders are looking for assurance from the federal government that the situation is being properly monitored to allow a course of action to be developed that will keep Canada competitive,” says Joy Thomas, president and chief executive officer of CPA Canada. The survey also shows the top three factors impacting business planning over the next year are uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy (32 per cent); employee retention, acquisition, and development (30 per cent); and a lack of skilled workers (24 per cent).


Matériaux Parent Joins Groupe BMR

Matériaux Parent and its two renovation centres are joining the Groupe BMR. Located in New Brunswick, this brings the number of BMR stores in that province to 11. “We are very excited about this transition and convinced that our customers will be as well,” says Guy Parent, vice-president and third generation of the business. “BMR is a solid brand with quality products at very competitive prices, in large part obtained from Canadian suppliers. What’s more, Groupe BMR is reliable, listens to its dealers, and has values that align with our own.”


DIYers Competitive With Neighbours

More than half of Americans feel the urge to improve the appearance of their homes when they see their neighbours doing it first, says a survey by the Home Depot. Millennials are particularly home-conscious and competitive, with 70 per cent admitting to feeling this pressure and nearly 50 per cent responding to it by completing a home improvement project specifically to outshine their neighbour. Parents tend to one-up their neighbours more than non-parents – whether that's installing a new fence and deck in the backyard or taking their spring cleaning one step further than others in the neighbourhood. And, when it comes to how people prefer to ‘one-up’ neighbours, most went for curb appeal. Eighty-nine per cent who tried to outdo a neighbour's home project did so with a new outdoor project while 62 per cent focused on indoor upgrades. Gardening, yard work, and painting take the top spots for outdoor projects that Americans plan to take on this spring. And painting, redecorating, house renovations, and replacing flooring round out the roster of top indoor projects.


Roseburg Completes Pembroke MDF Purchase

Roseburg Forest Products has completed the purchase of Pembroke MDF, Inc.’s medium density fiberboard (MDF) plant and moulding production facilities located in northeastern Ontario. The two companies reached an agreement in principle in March. The acquisition is part of Roseburg’s strategy to expand its North American footprint.


Ace Hardware, Dollar Tree Top U.S. Retailers

Ace Hardware has tied with Dollar Tree for top spot for the retail industry in the ‘2018 Temkin Experience Ratings,’ an annual customer experience and loyalty benchmark of U.S. companies. Both companies scored 82 per cent and placed seventh overall out of 318 companies across 20 industries. In total, the retail industry averaged a 74 per cent rating and came in third place out of the 20 industries. The average rating of the industry improved by .05 percentage points between 2017 and 2018, going from 73.9 per cent to 74.4 per cent. Amazon.com scored 79 per cent, True Value scored 78 per cent, and Home Depot scored 77 per cent. A total of 49 retailers were included in this year’s ratings.


Sustainability Focus Of CPCA AGM

Sustainability in the coatings industry will be the theme at the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) 105th annual conference and AGM. Topics will include major trends, challenges, and solutions in sustainability in the industry. The conference takes place May 23 and 24 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit CPCA


April 10, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Climb

Canadian manufacturing sales increased by $36.4 billion or 5.9 per cent from 2016 to $648.9 billion in 2017, says Statistics Canada. This was the largest increase since 2011 and it follows a 1.2 per cent rise in sales in 2016. Sales rose in every province and in 17 of 21 industries. The growth was led by the non-durable goods industries. In constant dollars, sales were up 3.3 per cent; the largest annual gain since 2010. Constant dollar manufacturing sales reached their highest level since 2007. Sales in the wood product industry increased 10.1 per cent to $32.6 billion, marking the sixth consecutive year of annual sales growth. Following an announcement of tariffs on Canadian exports of softwood by the U.S. in April 2017, monthly sales in the industry grew every month from June to October, then levelled off for the remainder of the year. In current dollar terms, overall monthly inventories began to increase in late 2016, ending the year at $70.1 billion. Total inventories continued to rise throughout the first quarter of 2017, before levelling off for the next two quarters at $74.0 billion. Inventories then rose in the fourth quarter, ending the year at $75.5 billion.


Canadian Tire Adds To Loyalty Program

Canadian Tire (CT) is adding ‘Triangle Rewards’ to its CT Money loyalty program. This feature will enable members to earn CT Money online and instore at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark's, and Atmosphere locations and on fuel purchases at Canadian Tire gas bars. Members will be able to redeem CT Money at CT, Sport Chek, Mark's, and Atmosphere stores. As part of the new program, CT Bank will offer members a Triangle World Elite Mastercard. Triangle Rewards members will be eligible for no-receipt returns, personalized offers and content, and the ability to track CT transactions and balances. Current ‘My CT Money’ program members and Options Mastercard or Options World Mastercard holders will automatically become Triangle Rewards members and will be able to use their existing loyalty and credit cards.


Albertans Get Rebates On Energy-saving Products

Residents of Alberta now have access to instant savings when purchasing energy-saving products such as programmable thermostats, water-saving devices, smart power bars, and LED light fixtures with motion sensors. The Alberta Residential Retail Products Program is sponsored by the governments of Alberta and Canada that are working together through Canada’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to reduce carbon pollution; create new economic opportunities; and help homeowners, communities, companies, and industry save energy and money. Under the program, the ‘Instant Savings’ campaign will provide instant point-of-sale rebates for purchases of energy-saving products at participating retail locations. For more information, visit Energy Efficiency Alberta


Plans Increase For Non-residential U.S. Building Projects

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 6.1 per cent higher in March, rising to 155 from the revised February reading of 146. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. March’s gain was the result of a 9.6 per cent increase in the commercial component – more than erasing the 5.1 per cent decline it had seen the previous month. The gain in the institutional sector meanwhile was milder, moving 1.6 per cent higher, following an 8.1 per cent gain in February. During the first nine months of 2017, the overall index made little progress. However, planning activity shot up in the fourth quarter, with that impetus continuing into the first three months of 2018. In the latest quarter the index gained 5.1 per cent. This may be a sign that planners are reacting in a positive fashion to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that President Donald Trump signed at the end of December.


Koscho Leads Energi Fenestration

Christopher Koscho is chief executive officer of Energi Fenestration Solutions, Ltd., a portfolio company of OpenGate Capital. He was previously with HC Companies as president and chief executive officer.


Sales Rise At WD-40

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $101.3 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of five per cent over total net sales in the second quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter was $14.8 million, an increase of 20 per cent compared to the prior year fiscal quarter. Gross margin was 55.1 per cent versus 56.4 per cent in the year-ago period. Advertising and sales promotion expenses were up three per cent to $5.2 million when compared to last year. Net sales in the Americas were relatively flat in the second quarter primarily due to lower sales of homecare and cleaning products in the U.S., which declined seven per cent from period to period. This lower level of sales was mostly offset by a higher level of sales of maintenance products which increased one per cent compared to the prior year fiscal period.


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