Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


July 11, 2018

June Housing Starts Trend Increases

The trend in housing starts was 222,041 units in June, compared to 216,701 units in May, 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. The increase in housing starts reflects a jump in the SAAR of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres to a historical high. Notably, the national inventory of newly completed and unabsorbed multi-unit dwellings has remained below its 10-year historical average so far in 2018, indicating that demand for this type of unit has absorbed increased supply. Housing starts trended down in Vancouver, BC, Calgary, AB, Winnipeg, MB, and trended up in Victoria, BC, Toronto and Kingston, ON, and Quebec.

Dodge Momentum Index Moves Higher in June

The Dodge Momentum Index grew 0.8 per cent in June to 165.5 from the revised May reading of 164.2. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. In June, the commercial component of the index moved 1.1 per cent higher, while the institutional component eked out a 0.3 per cent gain. June’s advance marks the fifth straight monthly increase, which is now nearing a 10-year high and suggests that the moderate strengthening of construction activity currently underway will continue through the end of 2018. At the same time, the gains for the index during the most recent two months have been considerably smaller than what took place from last October through April, returning to a pace more consistent with the gradual expansion that’s been present since the recovery began back in 2011.

CertainTeed To Acquire Hunter Douglas’ Ceilings Business

CertainTeed Corporation plans to acquire Hunter Douglas’ North American ceilings business. Hunter Douglas manufactures window coverings and architectural products. Its North American ceilings business manufactures architectural ceilings and soffit systems with operations in Norcross, GA, and Denver, CO, and has 100 employees. CertainTeed says the acquisition demonstrates its commitment to growing its ceilings business. As part of the divestment, Hunter Douglas will develop collaborative programs with CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain to market its commercial window-covering products. The acquisition will significantly expand the CertainTeed product portfolio, which includes all-purpose and high-performance acoustic ceiling panels, clouds and baffles, specialty gypsum ceilings, suspension systems, and custom-engineered acoustic solutions. The transaction is expected to close in July.

AIR MILES Rolls Out More Online Shops

Réno-Dépôt, Etsy, and Endy are among the latest businesses to join, an AIR MILES online shopping portal. AIR MILES has rolled out a dozen new online stores where its collectors can get miles while doing their online shopping. This is in addition more than a hundred other brands already on the site, such as Lowe’s, RONA, Dyson, Amazon, and Hudson’s Bay. This announcement comes on the heels of a series of recent enhancements to the AIR MILES Reward Program, including new benefits on BMO AIR MILES Mastercard products, the expansion of rewards requiring less than 1,000 miles, a renewed focus on AIR MILES cash, and show your card benefits through AIR MILES perks.

Lowe's Realigns Leadership Structure

Lowe’s has realigned its leadership structure to “improve focus, better leverage Lowe's omni-channel capabilities, and deliver increased value for customers, associates, and shareholders,” says Marvin R. Ellison, president and chief executive officer. As part of the structure, the retailer has eliminated the chief operating officer, chief customer officer, corporate administration executive, and chief development officer positions. William P. (Bill) Boltz is executive vice-president, merchandising, effective August 15. He has more than three decades of retail operations, marketing, and merchandising experience and is currently the president and chief executive officer of Chervon North America. Mike West will act as executive vice-president, supply chain, a newly created role. He is senior vice-president, supply chain operations, and will serve in the role on a transitional basis while an external search is underway. The company has also initiated an external search for the newly created role of executive vice-president, stores and the position of executive vice-president, chief financial officer.

Gilmoure Joins TIMBER MART

Aaron Gilmoure is LBM procurement manager for Ontario with TIMBER MART. He has more than 20 years of experience in the building materials industry, having held sales and management positions within various organizations on both the retail and vendor sides of the industry.

July 10, 2018

Montreal Residential Sales Remain Up

A total of 4,081 residential sales were concluded in June in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), a one per cent increase compared to June of last year, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This is the 40th consecutive month with an increase. Geographically, five of the Montreal CMA's six main areas registered an increase in sales in June. Condominium transactions led the increase, with a seven per cent jump for June year-over-year. In contrast, sales of single-family homes and plexes fell by two per cent and three per cent, respectively. The median price of single-family homes across the Montreal CMA stood at $325,089 in June, up by only one per cent over last year. This was the smallest monthly increase in the past 20 months. The median price of condominiums was unchanged compared to June 2017 and stood at $256,000. Plexes registered a more sustained increase in median price at seven per cent, reaching $507,000. There were 22,333 active residential listings in June, a 17 per cent drop compared to June of 2017.

RONA Bois Turcotte Joins RONA eCommerce Program

RONA Bois Turcotte has joined the RONA network eCommerce program. The company has three locations in Quebec - Val-d’Or, Amos, and Malartic. This is the 100th RONA dealer store to join the program. Launched in 2017, the eCommerce program enables RONA dealers to offer a virtual product selection to their customers with no added pressure on stores’ inventory or storage capacity. Customers can choose from more than 40,000 products, place an order online, and then pick up their purchases at a participating RONA dealer store. Since June 2018, customers have also been able to purchase exclusive online products.

CGC Roof Deck Earns FM Global Approval

Building products manufacturer CGC Inc. has received ‘Factory Mutual (FM) Approval’ for its CGC Structural Panel Concrete Roof Deck. FM Global sets an industry standard with a rigorous testing process for select commercial building products for safety and structural integrity. The product is the first and only FM approved noncombustible structural panel sheathing in accordance with FM Standard 4472 for use in low-slope roof systems. In addition, it meets the FM 4475 requirements for steep-slope roof systems and is the first structural panel roof deck sheathing to meet the ASTM E136-16 fire reaction criteria.

Quebec City Bans Leaf Blowers

Starting next year, the city of Beaconsfield, QC, will implement regulations for electric and gas-powered leaf blowers in order to reduce their negative effect on health and reduce air and noise pollution. The guidelines for operating leaf blowers are initiated within the context of the wide range of actions undertaken by the city in recent years to preserve public health and help achieve the environmental targets determined by the governments of Canada and Quebec. Under the regulation, leaf blowers will be allowed from October 1 to May 31. Steering their usage minimizes the most important health risks and pollution problems caused by these tools while permitting them for spring cleaning and leaf pick-up in the fall. Both electric and gas-powered leaf blowers generate higher than recommended decibel levels and propel particles and pollutant emissions that are dangerous to the health of people and animals. Vancouver, BC, was the first city in Canada to ban gas-powered leaf blowers with a full ban that took effect in 2004. Toronto, ON, unsuccessfully tried to implement a regulation to ban leaf-blowers in 2007.

Wolseley Acquires AMRE Supply

Wolseley Canada Inc. has acquired AMRE Supply Company Limited, a supplier of plumbing, HVAC, appliance, and electrical and property maintenance parts and equipment. AMRE celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and gas 12 locations across Canada. AMRE’s 200 employees will join Wolseley and its president, Doug Swane, will join Wolseley as divisional president, AMRE Supply. AMRE branches will continue to operate under the ‘AMRE Supply’ brand.

July 9, 2018

Mental Health Issues Affecting Workplace

Mental health issues in the workplace are among the top concerns for organizations of all sizes and employees, says a survey by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and Morneau Shepell. The report shows one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year, equating to 500,000 employees unable to work every week due to mental health problems or illnesses. Workplace stress has become cyclical – it is a major contributor to mental health issues, which can subsequently impact workplace productivity. As well, the survey shows that Canadians reported high levels of concern regarding the impact of their mental health issues on their career and job performance. Close to three-quarters (70 per cent) of respondents state that their work experience impacted their mental health, while a higher number (78 per cent) reported mental health as the primary reason for missing work. The MHCC recommends employers put in place polices to curb mental health issues at all stages of employment.

KOTT Joins Sexton Group

KOTT has joined Sexton Group. With locations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Cobourg, ON, KOTT specializes in lumber and framing materials, factory-built building envelope components, home exterior products, and customer stair and railing systems. The family-owned and operated business was founded in 1974 and services residential and commercial new construction and the renovation market.

Kreitmaker Joins TORBSA

Toronto, ON-based Kreitmaker Inc. is a shareholder member of the TORBSA Limited buying group. Kreitmaker was established 14 years ago as a distribution business. The company joined TORBSA to enhance its continued success by growing the business and developing key relationships with shareholder and supplier partners, says Peter Ntakos, president.

Barrette Acquires DuraLife

Barrette Outdoor Living Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor living products, has acquired DuraLife decking and railing brands and assets from Integrity Composites LLC. DuraLife is a manufacturer of composite decking and railing systems. This strategic acquisition provides a natural extension of the category and allows Barrette to further expand their portfolio of product offerings by providing entry into the decking space. The DuraLife brand will remain unchanged and will continue to operate out of the existing Biddeford, MN, facility.

IKEA Opens Three Quebec Collection Points

IKEA Canada has opened three Quebec collection point locations in Drummondville, Sherbrook, and Trois-Rivières. Customer can now shop online and have them delivered to one of the collection points for $49, regardless of the size or value of the purchase. This compares to the home delivery fee of $120. The collection point is not an IKEA store and is owned by third-party service provider Dicom; IKEA products are not available for purchase at the collection point locations.

Giant Tiger Opens Quebec Store

Giant Tiger has opened a store in Anjou, QC. The 22,850-square-foot store will be stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities.

July 6, 2018

Home Hardware’s Davis Announces Retirement

Terry Davis, president and chief executive officer of Home Hardware Stores Limited, has announced that he will retire later this year. He will remain in his current role until a successor has been found and an orderly transition has occurred. The company has engaged an executive search firm to assist with identifying qualified candidates. Over the past several years, Davis has been instrumental in pushing forward a number of modernization efforts, including enhancing store branding, digitizing returns claims, and advancing eCommerce capabilities. He joined Home Hardware in 1970, starting as a junior warehouse employee in the distribution centre in St. Jacobs, ON. Over the years, he worked his way up through the company, taking on increasingly senior managerial and executive positions and was named chief executive officer in 2014.

Castle Gets Manitoba Member

Bucksaw Timber in Carman, MB, has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Bucksaw Timber provides building materials and a variety of household and pet products. Owners Anthony and Glynis Lemky bring more than 18 years of industry experience to the group. After starting their business in 2000, they experienced many years of continuous growth which included a move to the Haywood area for several years before coming to Carman in 2010. Since then, they have been cultivating their brand and now serve countless local contractors and provide products and services for several large community projects. “Castle provides members with an equal platform for success and puts all its resources into its membership,” says Anthony and Glynis. They are excited to take their business to the next level with greater buying power and an expanded product assortment in many categories.

Robertson Electric Re-opens Hamilton Branch

The Hamilton, ON, branch of Robertson Electric Wholesale has opened the doors to its new location at 80 Ditton Drive. The store is much larger than the previous location, with 30,000 square feet with more parking and truck access in the warehouse for company and vendor trucks. “The store is designed to get our electrical wholesale customers in and out,” says Adam Constable, operations manager. The location, which was the first branch expansion from the Oakville head office in 2011, serves Hamilton and the surrounding areas, including Oakville, Guelph, Simcoe, and Niagara. Robertson Electric has 11 locations across Canada.

CTC Completes Helly Hansen Acquisition

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has successfully closed the acquisition of the company which owns and operates the Helly Hansen brands and related businesses. Helly Hansen, based in Norway, is a global company that produces workwear and sportswear.

Gil Parent Promoted At FCL

Gil Parent has been promoted to category development manager - building materials at Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL). He has been with the company since 1987, most recently as category manager, building materials.

Canada Sales Strong For Richelieu

Richelieu had consolidated sales of $263.4 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 8.3 per cent compared to consolidated sales of $243.3 million in the second quarter of 2017. Canadian sales were $180.2 million, an increase of 10.1 per cent year-over-year, including 5.9 per cent of internal growth, reflecting increases of 11.7 per cent for manufacturers and 3.1 per cent for retailers and renovation superstores. In the U.S., sales were $64.7 million, an increase of 9.7 per cent, including a 137 per cent increase in the retailers and renovation superstore market. Company-wide EBITDA was $28.1 million, up 5.4 per cent over the year-ago period. Gross margin was 10.7 per cent, down over 11 per cent last year. Second-quarter net earnings of $18.2 million grew by 3.3 per cent.

July 5, 2018

Housing Affordability Slides Back

The little bit of housing affordability relief that Canadian homebuyers enjoyed in late 2017 slipped away in the first quarter of 2018, says the ‘Housing Trends and Affordability Report’ by RBC Economic Research. Toronto home prices fell again in the latest period and enough so to counter the impact of rising interest rates. Housing affordability therefore improved for the second-straight quarter in the area. Toronto was in fact one of only two markets tracked by RBC Economic Research that recorded a decline (Winnipeg, MB, was the other). While encouraging, the Toronto region still has a long way to go before homebuyers feel any meaningful relief, says the firm. Vancouver home ownership costs reached their highest levels on record in the first quarter of 2018 — considered by many to be at crisis levels. Besides the high interest rates that have impacted a number of cities across Canada, Vancouver has also faced a re-acceleration in home prices, causing further material deterioration to affordability. Elsewhere in Canada, rising interest rates caused affordability to erode modestly in the majority of markets. The quarterly increase in RBC's aggregate measure in Saskatoon, SK, Ottawa, ON, Halifax, NS, and St. John's, NL, was the largest in more than a year. Furthermore, Montreal, QC, faced a third-straight rise in its measure, reaching its highest point since 2011.

CPCA Granted Tariff Exemption

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) is pleased the Government of Canada granted its formal request for an exemption from the proposed countermeasure tariffs on U.S. goods coming into Canada as of July 1. In June, the federal government invited Canadian stakeholders to comment on a list of proposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. In a formal submission to the Department of Finance, CPCA noted the proposed tariff on imported U.S. steel drums and cans (proposed Tariff 7310.29) could be interpreted to include pails, cans, vats, and totes used by Canadian paint and coatings manufacturers. With no Canadian manufacturer of these pails and cans, particularly for architectural paint and aerosol sprays, Canadian-based manufacturers would face millions of dollars in higher input costs in relation to competing finished products imported from the U.S. The proposed countermeasure would have imposed tariffs on all Canadian paint and coatings manufacturing facilities, both Canadian and U.S.-owned, and further exacerbated current competitive and regulatory alignment challenges between our two countries.

Canadians Not Using Reward Points

Canadians who earn reward points on their credit card say points are “as good as cash,” yet most (64 per cent) don’t think of them as a financial asset and risk missing opportunities to save money and pay down debt, finds a report by CIBC. About half (49 per cent) admit they're aimlessly collecting points and 37 per cent say they rarely or never redeem their points. On average, cardholders are sitting on 48,800 points on their primary credit card – enough for a small home improvement project or a new BBQ or garden trimmer this summer, depending on the loyalty program. Moreover, when it comes to understanding the value of their points, the majority of reward cardholders (73 per cent) admit that they don't actually check or compare the retail cost of purchasing an item before redeeming points for it. Nor do they compare various redemption options to determine the best value for their points (71 per cent). Among those who use their rewards card as their primary credit card, two in five (38 per cent) claim they're saving up points for a big-ticket item or a dream vacation. Almost half (49 per cent) admit they're aimlessly collecting points to “see them pile up” or, at most, to occasionally window-shop the rewards catalogue for redemption options. Few (13 per cent) redeem points regularly for items they'd otherwise buy with cash.

AMVIC Employee Count Correction

The ‘Made In Canada’ company profile in the June 2018 issue of Home Improvement Retailing contained an error. The news item indicated AMVIC had 509 employees when, in fact, they have 50. Home Improvement Retailing apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this error. .

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