Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


June 6, 2018

Castle Launching New Website

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. will launch its new website – – next week. The fully functional online tool will be accessible from desktop computers or handheld devices. The platform will be fully responsive and include product search, store locator, resource centre, learning tools, and more. The site is part of the buying group’s commitment to creating an online presence that is poised to service all Castle stakeholders including shareholders, vendor partners, contractors, and end-user customers. The company has also updated its social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Lowe's Canada Offers Paymi Cashback Program

Lowe's Canada has partnered with card-linked shopper marketing program Paymi so that customers of its Lowe’s banner across Canada who are also part of the Paymi program can now benefit from personalized cash back and loyalty rewards when making purchases instore or on the company’s website.

GMS Acquires WSB Titan

GMS Inc., a North American distributor of wallboard and other building supplies, has acquired WSB Titan from TorQuest Partners, a Canadian-based manager of private equity funds. GMS says the acquisition further strengthens its position as one of the largest wallboard distributors in North America with more than 240 branches throughout Canada and the U.S. Titan will operate as a subsidiary of GMS and will continue to be managed by its existing management team led by Doug Skrepnek as president of GMS Canada.

Management Changes At BB&B

Eugene A. Castagna is president and chief operating officer of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. He has been with the company since 1994 and has served as chief operating officer since 2014. Susan E. Lattmann is chief administrative officer. She has been with the company since 1996 and served as chief financial officer since 2014. Robyn M. D'Elia is chief financial officer and treasurer. She has been with the company since 1996, and served as vice-president – finance, since 2015.

Flat Revenue For HBC

HBC had revenue of $3,088 million for the first quarter of 2018, an increase of one per cent over revenue in the first quarter of 2017. Overall comparable sales declined 0.7 per cent year-over-year, with total comparable digital sales increasing 7.7 per cent. Gross profit as a percentage of revenue for the quarter was 42.1 per cent, an improvement of 20 basis points compared to the prior year. Adjusted SG&A expenses were $1,333 million or 43.2 per cent of revenue, compared to $1,292 million or 42.2 per cent a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $173 million, an increase of $11 million compared to the prior year. Net loss from continuing operations was $314 million compared to a net loss $214 million in the prior year.

June 5, 2018

AR Useful For Online, Operational Efficiencies

Augmented reality (AR) will see major adoption in the retail sector, but not in the way many have predicted. AR will struggle to take root among customers in the bricks-and-mortar environment. Instead, its uptake in the sector will be driven by the retail workforce and online shoppers, says ABI Research. AR experiences can prove extremely useful for online customers unable to interact with the physical products they intend to purchase. This does not add value to the experience in the physical store. However, for the instore employee, AR promises to deliver operational efficiencies and raise the quality of the service delivered. The data shows that retail will see a steady rise in the adoption of AR-devices. For example, smart glasses are already being used by retail employees to assist with front and back-of-store operations. ABI Research forecasts that by 2022 over 120,000 stores will be using AR smart glasses globally. This will be driven by the need for efficiency savings to compete with rival retailers and the online sector generally. Additionally, it forecasts that, by 2020, three per cent of eCommerce revenue will be generated because of augmented reality experiences. The relative ease of integrating AR into existing platforms will have an impact on the user experience that will largely drive customer demand.

Lumber Liquidators Reaches 400 Stores

Lumber Liquidators will open its 400th store this week in Elk Grove, CA. The company is marking the milestone with a celebration at the opening of the 8,927-square-foot MA store that will include Rob Van Winkle of ‘The Vanilla Ice Project’ on the DIY Network and interior designer Kerrie Kelly. The company is also offering sales on its 400-plus products and hosting a sweepstakes through June 30 in which customers have a chance to win up to $4,000 in flooring. Lumber Liquidators’ first store opened in Massachusetts in 1994. Today, the company has locations in Ontario, Canada, and the U.S.

Foamed Plastic Drives Insulation Demand

Foamed plastic insulation in the residential market is forecast to rise 4.4 per cent per annum to 520 million pounds in 2022, valued at $1.1 billion, says a study by the Freedonia Group. Foamed plastics are projected to be the fastest growing material in the residential insulation market during that time. The materials’ ability to fully seal gaps and air leaks will support demand gains as recent IECC measures call for significant improvements in the reduction of air leaks in single-family and multifamily housing. As well, the rising use of eco-friendly foam technologies has benefited sales of foamed plastics as consumers increasingly demand environmentally-friendly products. In response to the rising popularity of green building practices, recent product developments in the residential foamed plastic insulation industry include the production of soy-based, eco-friendly foams, as well as water-blown closed-cell spray foams.

Libman Tour Comes To Canada

The Libman Company, a North American manufacturer of household and high-power cleaning products, is taking to the highway for a third straight year with its ‘Embrace Life's Messes’ tour that will travel to 255 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada. This is the first year the tour will extend into Canada, primarily in the Ontario region. Over the course of 13 weeks, the company will give away products and special prizes during the retail store visits to encourage consumers to embrace life's messes by letting Libman help do the work. At the retail stops, shoppers will have the opportunity to see in-store product demos and as well as participate in games to win prizes. The tour will be documented throughout the 13 weeks with blog posts, photos, and videos on social media sites and on Additionally, Libman will concurrently run the ‘Embrace Life's Messes Sweepstakes’ where over the course of those 13 weeks, consumers win a Libman Wonder Mop or the grand prize, a Libman Move-In Cleaning Kit.

RCC Names Retail Scholarship Recipients

Seventeen post-secondary students received $1,000 each as part of Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘Retail as a Career Scholarship Program.’ In addition, there was also a $5,000 scholarship funded by Interac Corp. and a $3,000 scholarship funded by RCC. This year’s finalists are Alison Schouten, Breanna Sharpe, Brandon Ngo, Connor Combdon (who also received the $5,000 scholarship), Emma Todd, Hannah Russell, Kelsey McHugh (who also received the $3,000 scholarship), Kristy Wong, Lisa Nguyen, Maya Purcell, Michelle Regalado Clara, Mikayla Haynes, Natasha Baluta, Paige Forrest, Shin Pyo Hong, Tanisha Kotowich, and Taylor Bryson. In addition to the monetary prizes, this year's finalists received an all-access pass, travel ,and accommodation to the ‘RCC STORE 2018 Conference.’ Among the corporate sponsors are Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd., Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd., Home Hardware Stores Ltd., Lowe's Canada, and the Home Depot Canada. Now in its 15th year, the scholarship program has awarded almost $900,000 in scholarship and award benefits. Applicants are evaluated by retail industry experts on academic performance, professional references, and a personal essay.

Kazan Promoted To Corporate Communications Manager

Alexandra Kazan has been promoted to corporate communications manager with TIMBER MART. Previously, she was corporate messaging specialist. She has been with the company since 2014.

June 4, 2018

Residential Investment Increases

Investment in residential construction increased by eight per cent to $30.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter in 2017, says Statistics Canada. All components, with the exception of mobile homes, contributed to the quarterly year-over-year increase in spending on residential construction. The growth was led by spending on apartment buildings, which accounted for 39.5 per cent of the total increase ($890.8 million or 21.5 per cent), followed by investment in renovations ($677.9 million or 5.5 per cent). British Columbia posted the biggest gains in spending on residential construction ($859.8 million or 16.2 per cent), followed by Quebec ($691.4 million or 14.9 per cent). Saskatchewan was the only province to post a quarterly year-over-year decline (down $19.6 million or 2.7 per cent), mainly due to reduced spending on single home construction, down $34.3 million compared with the previous year. Spending on renovations increased for all provinces ($677.9 million or 5.5 per cent), led by Ontario ($239.6 million) and Quebec ($169.2 million).

Mobile Could Bridge Omnichannel Gaps

Bringing some of the digital experience – such as live customer feedback or customer reviews – into the physical store is an area where Tanbir Grover, vice-president, eCommerce & omnichannel, Lowe’s Companies Canada, sees opportunity. Speaking at the session, ‘Retail and the Consumer Experience: How Do You Keep Up?’ at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Store 2018’ conference, he said the mobile channel could be the solution to bridge the gap between the online and physical store experiences. “Digital is the doorstep of every retailer.” The key is to understand what the customer is doing and then find the best way to service them. At this point, Lowe’s is focusing on a mobile-first strategy versus a desktop strategy. “We have to focus on mobile because that is where change is happening,” said Grover. However, there has to be a complete cultural change and understanding in the organization at every level to be successful in developing a new strategy. He said education is how to get management comfortable with new ideas and attribution models. Grover hasn’t quite figured out how to bring the mobile experience into the store yet, but the company is working on figuring out the level of attribution to see where to invest its time and funds.

AZEK To Acquire Versatex

Building products manufacturer the AZEK Company plans to acquire Versatex, a manufacturer of engineered cellular PVC products. The acquisition will provide AZEK with an additional growth platform for expanding its building envelope offerings. Versatex manufactures and sells premium-branded exterior trim, sheet, mouldings, and other products with an expanding range of building applications.

Andersen Expands Fibrex Facility

Andersen Corporation broke ground on a 60,000-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing campus in Bayport, MN. The expansion will add Fibrex material extrusion capabilities in Bayport to support the sales growth of the Andersen100 Series product portfolio, one of Andersen's fastest growing product lines. The company’s proprietary Fibrex material is a blend of wood fibre, mostly reclaimed from Andersen manufacturing processes, and thermoplastic polymer, some of which is also reclaimed. The material is a high-quality, long-lasting composite that has garnered more than 25 U.S. patents and is used in numerous Andersen and Renewal by Andersen product lines.

Rivers To Represent SIXINCH In Ontario

David Rivers, firm principal with Green River Furniture, is sales representative for SIXINCH North America and Grove by SIXINCH to the architect and design communities in Ontario. Green River Furniture has more than 18 years of experience in contract furniture for offices, residences, and educational and hospitality facilities. SIXINCH creates furniture with innovative materials and progressive design.

June 1, 2018

Homeowners Trim Spending On Renovations

Spending on home renovations is down seven per cent to about $11,000 – the lowest in five years – as more homeowners focus on home maintenance and repairs, finds the annual ‘CIBC Home Renovations Poll.’ The study finds that nearly half (45 per cent) of homeowners do plan to renovate, they’re just focusing on lower cost projects this year. In western Canada, there will be fewer big ticket renovations than two years ago. Popular projects out west include budget-friendly quick fixes such as painting, flooring, and general repairs. The vast majority of Canadian homeowners (87 per cent) agree that renovations can lead to overspending, yet nearly two-thirds don’t have a budget for their upcoming project. As well the poll finds that most (71 per cent) homeowners aged 55+ would prefer to stay put and renovate their current home than sell it and move elsewhere. Boomers plan to spend about $10,800 on average, down 36 per cent from $16,800 last year, to address wear and tear primarily. Moreover, while as many as 71 per cent of Canadians believe a renovation or home project is a great way to keep busy in retirement, almost half (45 per cent) of boomers would prefer to hire a contractor than do the work themselves.

Home Depot Canada Kicks Off Orange Door

Home Depot Canada has launched its annual ‘Orange Door Project Fundraising Campaign’ to help prevent and end youth homelessness. Until June 24, customers can purchase a $2 paper orange door at their local Home Depot store. One hundred per cent of funds raised will go to help support safe housing options, life-skills development programs, and prevention initiatives for at-risk and homeless youth across Canada. Through the campaign, the Home Depot Canada Foundation supports 120 organizations that are committed to preventing and ending youth homelessness across the country. Donations can be made at

Lowe’s Canada To Reduce Waste

As part of its corporate responsibility strategy, Lowe’s Canada has launched an initiative to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations, including the amount of waste sent to landfills. In order to reduce the use of plastic bags, standard plastic bags will cost 5¢ and plastic bags of 50 microns and more will cost 10¢ in all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores. The initiative is in place in Quebec and will be launched throughout the rest of Canada in September. Profits from the program will be donated to Nature Conservancy Canada to fund conservancy projects across the country. The retailer already has several recovery and recycling plans in place in its corporate stores. For example, 3,545 tons of paint were recycled in 2017. The company also has programs in place to recover compact fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, wood, and building materials such as gypsum and styrofoam.

Ply Gem Opens Quebec Distribution Branch

Ply Gem has opened a distribution branch in Saint-Nicolas, QC, to provide easier product and service access to its customers in Quebec. This is the third branch location in the province and serves as a showroom, sales, and distribution centre. It carries building products including Ply Gem windows and patio doors, Mitten vinyl siding, shake, stone, accents, and other building envelope accessories.

Schlagheck Joins Derby

Mark Schlagheck is vice-president of retail sales with Derby Building Products. He has more than 30 years of industry experience, most recently at the AZEK Company.

Leon’s Sales Climb

Leon’s had total sales of $601 million for the first quarter of 2018, in increase of 4.7 per cent over total sales of $574 million in the first quarter of 2017. Revenue grew 3.4 per cent to $501 million in the quarter compared to $484 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA increased 10.7 per cent to $26.5 million compared to $24 million. Adjusted net income increased 35.1 per cent to $11.5 million compared to $8.5 million a year ago. Same store corporate sales increased by 2.6 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit margin as a percentage of revenue was 42.8 per cent compared to 41.91 per cent in 2017.

May 31, 2018

First Quarter Retail Sales Mediocre

Retail sales for the first quarter gained 3.9 per cent year-over-year which, in the big scheme of things, is on the low side, but not a complete disaster, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Nevertheless, it is the lowest growth quarter in about a year and a half and the same thing seems to be happening in most retail sectors and retail business types. Retailers who planned on 2018 being as good as last year may be in for a rude awakening. The food stores and health and personal care groups had disappointing increases at below one per cent. Store merchandise, while up 5.8 per cent, was still lower than the 6.9 per cent gain posted for the first quarter of 2017. The top performers were electronics and appliance stores at 14.9 per cent and building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers at 7.5 per cent. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 14.8 per cent year-over-year in the quarter. While this looks like a strong gain, it's actually down from the 27.4 per cent annual increase recorded for 2017. While it still remains high, it appears that eCommerce retail sales growth may be slowing down.

RONA Earns Mobile Award

Lowe’s Canada’s RONA banner earned the mobile experience award at the ‘Retail Council of Canada (RCC) Excellence in Retailing Awards Gala’ which took place Tuesday night in Toronto, ON. Tanbir Grover, vice-president, eCommerce and omnichannel at Lowe’s Canada, says, “Offering a seamless, consistent and transparent experience to our customers no matter when, where, and how they interact with us is what Lowe’s Canada’s omnichannel strategy is all about. With RONA’s new responsive website, Canadians can browse, view, compare, select, and buy through a seamless digital experience, independent of the device they use.”


Zion Building Supplies in Scarborough, ON, has joined the TIMBER MART group. It carries a wide selection of building materials and hardware, including lumber, lumber products, tiles, and plumbing fixtures and accessories. The business caters to contractors and DIYers in the GTA. It cites better buying power in their key building material categories and solid vendor relationships as the main attraction of TIMBER MART.

Solid Growth Anticipated For Ceramic Tiles

The global ceramic tiles market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of around nine per cent from 2018 to 2022, says a report by Technavio. A key factor driving the growth is the rise in construction activities in developing countries. As well, ceramic tile is one of the main components used in the construction industry for building interior and exterior floors, footpaths, swimming pools, walls, partitions, roofs, and exterior finishing. One big trend in this market is the introduction of 3D tiles. Made via 3D printing, it is expected to witness an increase in demand due to the desire for sophisticated designs and patterns. The ceramic floor tiles segment dominated the global market in 2017, accounting for nearly 55 per cent of the market. The market share for this application is expected to increase by nearly two per cent by 2022, making it the fastest growing application segment.

Revenues Up For Walmart

Walmart had total revenues of $122.7 billion for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 4.4 per cent over total revenues of $117.5 billion for the first quarter of 2018. Excluding currency, total revenue was $120.7 billion, an increase of 2.7 per cent year-over-year. Comparable store sales increased 2.1 per cent from the year-ago period and comparable traffic increased 0.8 per cent. Net sales at Walmart International were $30.3 billion, an increase of 11.7 per cent. Operating income was $5.2 billion, even with the year-ago period.

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