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News

May 23, 2018

Small Increase In Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales rose 1.1 per cent to $62.8 billion in March, more than offsetting the decline in February, says Statistics Canada. The motor vehicle and parts subsector contributed the most to the gain. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales rose 0.2 per cent. In volume terms, wholesale sales rose 0.8 per cent. In the first quarter of 2018, wholesale sales rose 0.5 per cent in current dollars and 0.4 per cent in constant dollars compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. For both current and constant dollars, this marked the eighth consecutive quarterly increase. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased 3.4 per cent to a record high $9.2 billion. Sales were up in every industry, led by the metal service centres industry (+9.4 per cent to $1.9 billion). Sales were up in two provinces in March, which together accounted for 56 per cent of wholesale sales in Canada. In dollar terms, Ontario contributed the most to the gains. Wholesale inventories edged down 0.1 per cent to $82.6 billion. Higher inventories in the building material and supplies subsector (+0.8 per cent) were led by higher stock levels in the metal service centres industry (+4.6 per cent). The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.33 in February to 1.31 in March. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.


Lowe’s Canada Transforming South Edmonton RONA

Lowe’s Canada will transform the South Edmonton, AB, RONA Home and Garden store to the Lowe’s banner. The store will undergo an extensive renovation process to be completed by fall 2018. The transformation will involve construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion. The store will remain open during the conversion. The new store will offer an expanded product assortment, installation programs, and an online program which includes click and collect for in-store pickup, local truck delivery, and parcel shipping. It will also offer an enhanced shopping experience for commercial contractors which will include a loyalty program and charge account. The store will feature approximately 110,000 square feet of retail sales space, a 13,000-square-foot garden centre, and a 16,500-square-foot drive-through outdoor lumber yard with a covered lumber yard.


Rubikloud Partners With Intel

Retail artificial intelligence (AI) company Rubikloud Technologies has partnered with Intel to further collaborate on retail AI solutions that can revitalize the shopping experience. Intel Capital recently led a $37 million financing round in Rubikloud and believes AI will transform retail in meaningful ways. Through the collaboration, the companies will focus on merging new and old technologies on Rubikloud's AI platform to help improve the instore experience and provide a more personalized shopping experience for consumers, online and offline. Intel's edge to cloud technology is designed to streamline and improve store operations. Combined with Rubikloud's promotion and loyalty data, retailers can track how much stock is in the back of the store without leaving the front of it, among other things. The data also informs retailers how to avoid overstocking and stock outs, which promotions to prioritize in which stores, and other ways to improve sales.


Orangeville Wolseley Re-opens With HVAC/R

The Orangeville, ON, Wolseley Canada branch has re-opened to offer plumbing and HVAC/R products. The newly-renovated 8,000-square-foot facility will offer customers the ability to source all the products they need at one location. The expansion is part of Wolseley Canada’s ongoing focus to revitalize its facilities and open new locations.


Hiring The Wrong Person Can Be Costly

An employee who can't keep up with work takes a heavier toll on a business than some may think, finds research by global staffing firm Robert Half. The company asked chief financial officers across Canada to estimate how much time is spend coaching underperforming employees and the answer was 21 per cent of working hours, on average. That equals just over eight hours out of a 40-hour work week. CFOs also acknowledged that hiring mistakes negatively affect team morale with 19 per cent saying it has a great effect, 68 per cent saying it somewhat affects morale, and seven per cent saying it has no effect. The remainder don’t know. Robert Half says a comprehensive hiring strategy is key to preventing business priorities and employee resources form being sidelined by an inadequate or incompatible team member. The recruitment process should put an equal onus on assessing for both technical skills and cultural fit to ensure candidates have the expertise to excel in the role and also align with company values and goals from day one.


Federal Government Invests In New Brunswick

The federal government will invest almost $51 million to help New Brunswickers make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes, businesses, and industrial operations. This investment is part of further energy-efficiency investments in New Brunswick, which total $234 million. The government of Canada's ‘Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund’ will support New Brunswick Power's ‘Total Home Energy Savings Program’ as well as programs for commercial and industrial energy efficiency. These programs help cover the cost of home-, commercial-, and industrial-efficiency retrofits across the province. The program will assist homeowners with energy-efficiency changes such as better insulation, home heating systems, heat-recovery ventilators, windows, doors, water heaters, drain-water heat recovery, and renewable-energy systems.


CHICC Partners With AIR MILES

Canadian Home Improvement Credit Corporation (CHICC), a specialty lender focused on the home improvement sector, has partnered with AIR MILES Reward Program. CHICC's financing platform allows equipment manufacturers and contractors to offer their customers on-site financing. From traditional products like furnaces, windows, and doors, to more progressive products such as solar panels and smart-home automation, CHICC will finance, lease or rent these products/services to homeowners across the country. Now these customers will be rewarded with AIR MILES Reward Miles.


Roy Joins VersaPay

Shouvik Roy is chief financial officer with VersaPay Corporation. Previously, he held senior finance positions at various companies including Nike and Home Depot.


PFB Loss Shrinks

PFB Corporation had a consolidated loss of $701,000 for the first quarter of 2018 compared to a consolidated loss of $890,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $131,000 compared to $32,000 in the year-ago period. Consolidated sales were $21 million versus $19.4 million, an increase of eight per cent. Sales also grew by eight per cent compared with the corresponding period. Gross margins improved to 17.4 per cent from 15.1 per cent in the comparative 2017 period.


May 22, 2018

Retail Sales Continue Rise

Retail sales increased for the third consecutive month in March, rising 0.6 per cent to $50.2 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset lower sales at food and beverage stores and gasoline stations. Sales were up in six of 11 subsectors, representing 53 per cent of retail trade. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were down 0.2 per cent in March. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.8 per cent. Higher sales were reported in seven provinces, accounting for 93 per cent of retail trade. Quebec (1.3 per cent) and Ontario (0.6 per cent) were the main contributors to the increase in dollar terms. The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.3 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 11.1 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 3.4 per cent.


New U.S. Construction Starts Pull Back

The value of new construction starts in April fell 13 per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $674.3 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline follows the 11 per cent gain reported for March which was the highest level of construction starts over the preceding six months. The loss of momentum in April was widespread, involving each of the three main construction sectors. Non-building construction (public works and electric utilities/gas plants) plunged 22 per cent after its 74 per cent hike in March. Non-residential building retreated 12 per cent due to a slower pace by its institutional and manufacturing segments. Residential building dropped nine per cent with reduced activity for both single-family and multifamily housing. During the first four months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $223.5 billion, down seven per cent from the same period of 2017. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the 12 months ending April 2018 matched the dollar amount that was reported for the 12 months ending April 2017.


Ace Canada Welcomes Dégelis Store

Ace Distribution Rioux has opened a store in Dégelis, QC. This is its second location as it opened its first store in May 2017 in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, QC. The 4,800-square-foot store has more than 3,700 products in inventory, including a wide selection of farming supplies, a special-order door and window offering unique to the region, well-known brands such as Lepage Millwork, Makita, Dulux, and Boulanger mouldings in addition to the thousands of products available on ace-canada.ca. The owners are Guy Rioux, Dany Lavoie, and Éric Lavoie.


Canadian Government Funding Consumer Research

The government of Canada is investing in research to support consumers’ rights. The Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development has awarded more than $1.6 million in funding to support 19 consumer-interest research and development projects that will contribute to the protection and empowerment of Canadian consumers. These projects can include delving into home energy labels or looking at the challenges and opportunities presented by a cashless marketplace. Making sure Canadians are protected and empowered is critical to a strong and effective economy, says Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science, and economic development. Funded development projects will help consumer advocacy groups carry out research and the research findings will be made available online.


Smith Leads FCL Building Solutions

Cody Smith is director, home and building solutions, with Federated Co-operatives Limited. Previously, he was category development manager. He succeeds Tony Steier, who has retired.


Sales Increase For Hardwoods Distribution

Hardwoods Distribution Inc.’s consolidated sales for the first quarter of 2018 were $270.8 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent over consolidated sales in the first quarter of 2017. Sales from Canadian operations increased 2.6 per cent year-over-year and from U.S. operations increased 9.6 per cent. Gross profit increased slightly to $48.7 million; gross profit margin was 18 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $13.2 million compared to $14 million a year-ago. Adjusted profit increased five per cent to $8.3 million.


May 18, 2018

Groupe BMR, Home Depot Honoured

Groupe BMR and the Home Depot were named finalists in eTail Canada’s ‘Best-In-Class Awards.’ The awards honour retailers that exemplify the spirit of retail marketing innovation. Nominations for the award were fielded from both traditional bricks-and-mortar and digitally native retailers and their partners and winners were voted on and chosen by their industry peers. Groupe BMR was a finalist for ‘Best Emerging Retailer’ and Home Depot was a finalist for ‘Best eMail Marketing Campaign.’


Lowe’s Canada Opens First Vancouver Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its first Lowe’s store in Vancouver, BC, under the new store model. The store was converted from the former RONA Home and Garden and underwent an extensive 16-week physical transformation which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as employee training. The store will offer new product categories including appliances, seasonal, and Lowe’s private labels. It will also offer a broader selection of fashion plumbing products and floor displays. This store marks the company’s 65th store in Canada under the Lowe’s banner. It features about 40,000 products and retail space totaling more than 111,000 square feet with an adjacent garden centre of 20,000 square feet.


U.S. Builder Confidence Increases

U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose two points to a level of 70 in May after a downwardly revised April reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the fourth time the HMI has reached 70 or higher this year. The solid May report shows that builders are buoyed by growing consumer demand for single-family homes. Tight housing inventory, employment gains, and demographic tailwinds should continue to boost demand for newly-built single-family homes. With these fundamentals in place, the housing market should improve at a steady, gradual pace in the months ahead, says NAHB. However, the record-high cost of lumber is hurting builders’ bottom lines and making it more difficult to produce competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market.


More Retirees Purchasing Recreational Properties

Retirees were the key factor in driving activity in 91 per cent of recreational property markets, finds a survey by RE/MAX. This includes established recreational regions such as Prince Edward County, ON, and Comox Valley, BC. This is in stark contrast to last year's findings when retirees were a dominant driving force in only 55 per cent of markets. The survey finds that in British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, more retirees and soon-to-be retirees are purchasing recreational properties outside of urban centres for use as retirement homes, increasingly blurring the line between recreational and residential properties. Last year, Baby Boomers and retirees were increasingly selling their homes in urban centres like Toronto, ON, and Vancouver, BC. Many are putting the equity they received from those sales into the purchase of a recreational property. As well, one in three Canadians (33 per cent) say that they own or would want to own a recreational property for investment purposes.


Festool Roadshow Stops In Woodbridge

The Festool Roadshow stopped in Woodbridge, ON, to showcase a variety of tools, accessories and consumables including cordless sanders, miter saws, track saws, carpentry saws, clamping systems, and dust extractors. It is making stops across Canada and the U.S. at authorized dealers.The Woodbridge stop was at Lee Valley Tools Ltd. The next stop is May 19 at Atlas Machinery in Etobicoke, ON; then May 22 at Lee Valley in Ottawa, ON; May 24 at Richelieu Hardware Ltd. in Montreal, QC; and May 30 at Elite Tools in Levis, QC. For pictures, visit Home Improvement Retailing’s Instagram page; for information, visit Festool Canada


Income Rises While Continental Sales Down

Continental Building Products, Inc. had net income of $13.6 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 11.6 per cent over net income for the first quarter of 2017. Net sales, however, were $116.8 million for the quarter, a 5.4 per cent decrease over the year-ago period. Gross margin increased to 25.8 per cent compared to 25.7 per cent. EBITDA was $31.3 million, down 4.9 per cent over EBITDA of $33 million last year. Wallboard sales volumes decreased to 615 million square feet (MMSF) for the quarter, compared to 650 MMSF in the prior year quarter. Net sales were down 3.2 per cent to $116.8 million, compared to $120.6 million in the prior year quarter.


May 17, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise

Manufacturing sales rose 1.4 per cent to $57.1 billion in March, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at primary metal; aerospace product and parts; fabricated metal product; and the other transportation equipment industries were mostly responsible for the increase. Overall, sales were up in 13 of 21 industries, representing 72 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales were up in seven provinces in March, with Quebec and British Columbia responsible for most of the total national gain. Sales were down in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island due to lower sales of durable goods. Inventory levels increased 0.7 per cent to $79.3 billion in March. This was the sixth consecutive increase in inventories, with six of 21 industries posting higher levels. The inventory-to-sales ratio declined from 1.4 in February to 1.39. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to continue at their current pace.


Lowe’s Canada Opens New Concept Reno-Depot

Lowe’s Canada has completed its renovation at the Hull District Reno-Depot store in Quebec. The Hull store is the banner’s first location to transition to the new Reno-Depot store concept just in time for its 20th anniversary. With an investment of over $3.7 million, the store underwent a major transformation which included redesigning all departments, introducing enhanced services, and revamping signage. This year, the Reno-Depot banner is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has introduced a new store concept for the Reno-Depot banner. At the Hull store, customers will find the essence of a traditional Reno-Depot store with more open spaces and new product categories such as appliances and seasonal departments. The store includes a 110,000-square-foot sales floor and a 30,000-square-foot garden centre.


Roseburg Plant Fire Shuts Down Press Line

A fire at Roseburg’s Pembroke medium-density fiberboard (MDF) plant in Laurentian Valley, ON, on Tuesday prompted the evacuation and temporary closure of the plant. The fire was successfully extinguished and the cause remains under investigation. However, the press line is expected to be down for several days for damage assessment, clean up, and repair. The moulding and finishing lines were expected to resume operations Wednesday. Roseburg completed the purchase of the MDF plant in April.


Outlook Strong For U.S. Home Renovation Professionals

The U.S. residential renovation and design industry continues to build on the robust growth of the past four years. Average revenue growth rates hovered around 10 per cent annually, with performance exceeding expectations for most firms, and at least one-fifth of businesses hiring more workers each year, says Houzz’s ‘2018 U.S. State of the Industry’ report. And, “with market fundamentals aligned in favour of the home improvement industry, 2018 is set to be another great year,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. The majority of companies surveyed have a positive outlook for 2018 (71 to 88 per cent). Those in construction-focused and outdoor industry groups are particularly optimistic. However, positive growth sentiments are somewhat tempered by expectations that labour availability and costs will worsen labour markets already constrained over the past several years. Expectations on consumer demand may also be impacted by polarized views of the national economy in 2018. Architects, general contractors, and design-build companies showed accelerated average annual revenue growth rates (eight, 11, and 11 per cent, respectively) compared to 2016 rates (seven, nine and eight per cent, respectively). Other companies reported average revenue growth rates in line with 2016 rates.


Uniboard Invests In New TFL Press Line

Uniboard will invest $17 million in a state-of-the-art TFL (thermally-fused laminate) press line at its Sayabec, QC, mill. The line will feature the same advanced technologies as the previous TFL 6 line with an increased capacity for its signature EIR/synchronized (Uniboard's WoodPrint family of textures) and deep-embossed textures, in addition to all of its melamine texture offerings. The company will also launch 18 new designs and two new textures, bringing the company’s TFL offering to over 135 designs available in 14 texture options.


SOFA Changes Name To TIDC

SOFA: Source of Furniture + Accessories, a design centre for professionals, has changed its name as part of its brand identity renewal. It will now be known as Toronto International Design Centre (TIDC). The rebrand signifies a fresh direction for the centre. It will focus on enhancing service directly for the design community by providing a one-stop shop for design professionals. The rebrand will renew its commitment to the design community by expanding its suite of offerings with new resources, education, and networking services including a designer services kiosk, increased hours of operation, an improved membership program, and an expanded education series. TIDC’s mandate covers the full spectrum of the design industry, including commercial and residential projects, and welcomes seasoned, new, and aspiring designers, architects, home stagers, home builders, and retail buyers.


Acquisition Boosts Beacon Roofing Results

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. had total sales of $1.43 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 63.7 per cent compared to sales of $870.7 million in the second quarter of 2017. Residential roofing product sales increased 19.7 per cent, non-residential roofing product sales increased 35.6 per cent, and complementary product sales increased 263.2 per cent over the prior year. Net loss for the quarter was $72.7 million compared to a loss of $9.4 million in the year-ago period. Second quarter results were positively impacted by complementary products category sales, gross margins, and early synergy benefits attributable to the purchase of Allied.


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