Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


August 24, 2018

New Store Debuts At Market

Orgill’s Fall Dealer Market attracted a record-breaking number of attendees from all over the world at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, to see new home improvement products, find great deals, network with other independent retailers, and much more. “We’re excited to see so many of our customers here in Las Vegas,” says Ron Beal, Orgill’s chairman, president, and CEO. “Our team and vendors have worked hard to put together a show that will deliver on our customers’ expectations.” The Orgill Fall Dealer Market, which opened August 23, covers nearly one million square feet over two floors and offers opportunities for retailers to meet with vendors, tour concept stores, explore product showcases, and learn more about Orgill’s many retail programs and services. Of course, they also have the opportunity to shop for thousands of products from across all home improvement categories. A popular feature of Orgill’s Dealer Markets are its concept stores, which showcase full-size retail stores that allow attendees to see real-life product selections and merchandising tactics. Green River Hardware & Garden, which debuted at the Spring Dealer Market last February, made its return in Las Vegas and offers plenty of space-saving techniques, showcasing how to fit the SKU count normally found in a 30,000-square-foot store into an 18,000-square-foot space. Cider Mill Home Centre is a 12,000-square-foot concept store that is new at this market. It features a complete home centre product selection of Canadian-compliant products. Orgill’s Spring Dealer Market will be February 21 to 23, 2019, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Castle Gets Toronto Member

Toronto, ON-based Eastway Construction and Supplies Ltd. has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Situated in Scarborough, the retail store will offer a full line of building material products and hardware. Owner Raymond Wan brings over 30 years of industry experience and knowledge to the location and is familiar with the benefits of Castle’s approach. He previously owned and operated a former Castle location for many years.

Home Improvement Category Soars On Amazon Prime Day

The home improvement category saw a huge spike in sales during Amazon’s ‘Prime Day 2018.’ The online retailer said the event was the “biggest global shopping event in its history,” with more than 100 million products sold during 36 hours, says an analysis from Profitero. The analysis shows Amazon’s sales nearly tripled during the event, compared to average daily sales the week leading up to the event. Although electronics had the highest spike in sales at 215 per cent, home improvement was not far behind with an increase in sales that was 200 per cent higher than normal. Other key areas that had increases were private label and grocery.

New GTA Home Sales Slide

Sales of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario slowed down in July, says the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Total July new home sales of 1,071 units were down 44 per cent from last July and down 55 per cent from the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units were down 52 per cent from July 2017 and down 40 per cent from the 10-year average. Sales of new single-family homes, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) at 216 units sold, were up 85 per cent from last July ‒ a month that saw the lowest single-family home sales in decades with 117 units sold ‒ but still 77 per cent below the 10-year average.

Atis Group Acquires Vitrotec

Quebec-based window and door manufacturer Atis Group has acquired Montérégie region retailer Vitrotec Portes & Fenêtres Inc. Vitrotec operates two stores in St-Ours and St-Hyacinthe, QC. It was established in 1976 and acquired by François Bouthillier and Chantal Renaud in 2013. Bouthillier will continue to act as general manager at Vitrotec.

Home Hardware’s McNabb Announces Retirement

Rick McNabb, vice-president of marketing and sales at Home Hardware Stores Limited, will retire September 12. In this role, he has led key marketing initiatives since 2016, including the company’s new brand stance, tagline, and creative. He was also instrumental in the launch of the website this year and has built momentum in POS analytics and customer loyalty programs. Previously, he was an executive leader at Cara Foods.

Ace Revenues Rise

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.59 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 6.4 per cent over revenues in the second quarter of 2017. Net income was $54.8 million for the quarter, a 7.2 per cent over the year-ago period. Retail same-store sales increased 3.3 per cent year-over-year. Total wholesale revenues were $1.47 billion, an increase of 4.9 per cent, and total retail revenues were $117.7 million, an increase of 30.2 per cent. Wholesale gross profit for the quarter was $179.7 million, an increase of $5.8 million from last year. Retail gross profit was $49.4 million, an increase of $10 million from the second quarter of 2017.

August 23, 2018

Slight Decline In June Retail Sales

Following a 2.2 per cent increase in May, retail sales edged down 0.2 per cent in June to $50.7 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in six of 11 subsectors, representing 52 per cent of total retail trade. Lower sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset higher sales at food and beverage stores and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Excluding the first two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.3 per cent. On a quarterly basis, retail sales were up one per cent in the second quarter following a 0.5 per cent decrease in the first quarter. In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.9 per cent in the second quarter. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers sales were up 1.1 per cent in June. Retail sales were down in six provinces for the month, led by British Columbia and Quebec. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totaled $1.4 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 18 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 4.2 per cent.

IKEA Canada Opens Quebec City Location

Thousands of people lined up to celebrate the opening of IKEA Canada’s Quebec City, QC, store on August 22. The celebration had musical entertainment, treats from IKEA’s Swedish Food Market, and over $10,000 in prizes for customers. The 340,000-square-foot store, located in the Sainte-Foy district of the city, is the retailer’s 14th Canadian store. The store, which will be LEED certified, features nearly 10,000 products, 50 inspirational room settings, three market-relevant home interiors, a SMALAND supervised children's play area, and a 500-seat restaurant.

July New U.S. Construction Starts Slide

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $817.4 billion, new construction starts in the U.S. in July fell nine per cent from the elevated pace reported in June, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The latest month’s decline followed strong gains for total construction starts during the previous two months, with May up 14 per cent and June up 11 per cent. By major sector, non-residential building dropped 22 per cent after soaring 59 per cent in June. The other two major sectors in July held close to their June amounts, with residential building up two per cent and non-building construction unchanged. The July statistics produced a reading of 173 for the Dodge Index, down from the 190 for June which was the highest level so far during 2018. The July reading of 173 shows that at least the initial month of the third quarter is continuing the gradual upward trend shown by the first two quarters of this year.

Derby Makes Promotions

Toby Bostwick has been promoted to senior vice-president of business development with Derby Building Products Inc., the manufacturer of Tando and Novik brands of shake and stone. Previously, he was director of product development. Mathieu Piché has been promoted to research and development manager and Jean-François Tanguay to customer service manager.

Orchard Supply Divestment Affects Lowe's Earnings

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $1.5 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase compared to net earnings of $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2017. The results were due in part to the company’s decision to close all locations of Orchard Supply Hardware. Sales for the quarter increased 7.1 per cent to $20.9 billion compared to sales of $19.5 billion in the year-ago period, while comparable sales increased 5.2 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 5.3 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin for the company for the quarter was $7.2 billion and 34.5 per cent of sales, up from $6.7 billion and 34.2 per cent of sales last year.

Living Spaces For Life Stages Focus Of HomeFest

HomeFest is a festival-style event designed to show homeowners the potential of their home and ways they can mesh up their living space to align with their life stage. The event will feature tiny homes, customizable kitchens, how to maximize space, and interactive culinary masterclass series. It takes place November 2 to 4 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit HomeFest

August 22, 2018

Building Materials Lead Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales declined for the second time in three months, down 0.8 per cent to $63.1 billion in June, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in five of seven subsectors, accounting for 71 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and parts and the miscellaneous subsectors contributed the most to the decline. On a quarterly basis, the building material and supplies subsector (6.6 per cent) led the gains in the second quarter, attributable to higher sales in May and record sales levels in June. The building material and supplies subsector also led the gains in volume terms, up 5.2 per cent in the second quarter. Higher current and constant dollar sales for this subsector in the second quarter more than offset declines in the first quarter. Sales were down in eight provinces in June, accounting for 46 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada, with Alberta and Quebec contributing the most to the decline. Wholesale inventories rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 1.8 per cent to a record $85.7 billion in June. In the building material and supplies subsector, inventories rose 3.7 per cent in June, accounting for the largest gain in dollar terms.

Quebec Setting Aside Millions To Offset Tariffs

The Quebec government is setting aside $863 million for companies affected by tariffs imposed on Canada by the U.S. government. The money will be available over five years in direct investments, tax subsidies, and training. Quebec’s plan will see money go towards offering companies liquidity to continue their activities and to reduce contributions small- and medium-sized companies have to make to the province’s health services fund. The plan also aims to increase investment in the agricultural sector and it sets aside $55 million for labour-related programs. Quebec premier Philippe Couillard says the five-year financial package is expected to spur $3 billion for the Quebec economy over the same period.

PGT Completes Western Window Acquisition

PGT Innovations has completed it acquisition of Western Window Systems. PGT says the acquisition will diversify its geographic footprint and customer base and give it a higher margin profile as well as add value for shareholders.

Deep Green Tones Named Colour Of The Year

Night Watch, a deep green-black, and Mojito Shimmer, a glistening, frosted dark green, have been named as the ‘2019 Colours of the Year’ by DULUX Paints. Night Watch is from the brand’s new colour collection and Mojito Shimmer is from the Dulux Effects Finishes VENETIAN SILK collection. “Both of these colours represent the ultimate in luxe, delivering a rich, striking look that brings sophistication and depth to living spaces,” says Martin Tustin-Fuchs, PPG brand manager, Dulux Paints by PPG. “An evolution from last year’s popular tinted black, these glamourous dark greens are symbolic of consumers’ desire for positive change – to move from darkness to twilight and to search for an element of rebirth in today’s complex, technologically-driven world.” Night Watch is inspired by nature, and Mojito Shimmer is a perfect complement colour, he says.

Walmart Phasing Out Certain Paint Removal Chemicals

Walmart will phase out paint removal products with the chemicals methylene chloride and N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) from its stores in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and its website by February 2019. This initiative is consistent with the retailer’s efforts to work with suppliers and the industry to accelerate the adoption and use of sustainable chemistry practices that exceed customers’ expectations. Similar to some of the retailer’s previous work on sustainable chemistry, this initiative also goes above and beyond current legal and regulatory compliances.

Strong Revenue At Intertape Polymer

Intertape Polymer Group Inc. had revenue of $249.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 18.5 per cent compared to revenue in the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin decreased to 21.9 per cent from 22.5 per cent in the quarter compared to last year. Net earnings increased $4.9 million to $15.1 million and adjusted EBITDA increased 11.3 per cent to $34.6 million.

Earnings Rise At Interfor

Interfor Corporation had net earnings of $63 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over net earnings of $24.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Adjusted net earnings were $68.9 million versus $28.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $123.8 million on sales of $619.9 million versus adjusted EBITDA of $81.1 million on sales of $527.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.

August 21, 2018

Employers Struggling To Fill Jobs

Forty-one per cent of Canadian employers report difficulty filling jobs, says the ManpowerGroup ‘2018 Talent Shortage Survey.’ While skilled trades are the hardest jobs to fill in Canada, sales representatives are a close second, followed by drivers. The report shows that at a time when organizations face a tightening labour market and the lowest unemployment in 40 years, most of the jobs where demand is growing are mid-skilled roles that require post-secondary training, yet not always a full university degree. That said, nearly three in four companies (68 per cent) are investing in learning platforms and development tools to build their talent pipeline, while 28 per cent are changing their existing work models, including offering flexible work arrangements to attract and retain talent. More than half of companies (56 per cent) are looking at different talent pools for skills including boomerang retirees or returning parents and part-timers.

Lowe’s Extends Partnership With Synchrony

Lowe’s has extended its partnership with consumer financial services company Synchrony. The multi-year extension of this strategic partnership will continue to offer Lowe’s customers purchasing options and benefits. As part of the extension, Synchrony will continue to manage and service the consumer and commercial credit card programs for Lowe’s customers at the retailers’ more than 1,740 U.S. stores, as well as on The programs drive sales through a strong consumer offering, including five per cent off every day for all cardholders and special promotional offers. The relationship began in 1979 when the partnership started with a Lowe’s store card and has since expanded to multiple offerings that provide valuable benefits to both consumers and businesses. Synchrony continues to make strategic investments in the Lowe’s program to make the consumer experience easier by advancing technology capabilities.

RISI Acquires Random Lengths

Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, the parent company of RISI, Inc., an information provider for the global forest products industry, has acquired Random Lengths, a price reporting agency (PRA) for the wood products industry. Founded in 1944, Random Lengths provides price assessments and market reporting for the global wood products industry, with a core focus on the North American lumber and panels markets, publishing over 1,500 prices each week. Random Lengths will compliment and expand RISI’s existing wood products price reporting. RISI’s global head of price reporting, Matt Graves, will relocate to Eugene, OR, to lead the integration. Both organizations plan to continue their market reporting and publishing schedules as normal.

Strong Demand For BTW Pipe

Demand for pipe in behind-the-wall (BTW) plumbing is expected to grow five per cent annually to $6.5 billion in 2022, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Plastic pipe – which overtook metal pipe’s share of value demand in 2017 – will see the more rapid advances going forward, totaling $3.6 billion in 2022. Gains will be boosted by the continuing use of plastic pipe – particularly PEX – by plumbers and other construction professionals due to its low cost and ease of use. Demand for metal pipe in BTW plumbing will rise at a much more modest rate through 2022. Strong competition from inexpensive plastic pipe will check dollar gains. Continuing use of galvanized steel pipe – which commands a much higher per-foot price than other pipe types – will support metal pipe demand in value terms. U.S. demand for all types of BTW plumbing products is forecast to advance 4.6 per cent annually to $13.5 billion in 2022. To capitalize on this growth, it is important for industry participants to recognize the key factors boosting demand. These include rising single-family housing completions, design trends toward more bathrooms, consumer interest in larger kitchens and bathrooms with more fixtures, and increasing installation of radiant flooring systems.

HDI Makes Appointments

Drew Dickinson is president, Rugby, a division of Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI). He has been the chief operating officer of rugby for the past eight years. David Hughes is senior vice-president, acquisitions with Rugby. Previously, he was president.

James Hardie Profit Up 29 Per Cent

James Hardie had adjusted net operating profit of $79.9 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 29 per cent compared to the corresponding period in its 2018 year. Adjusted EBIT was $107.1 million for the quarter, an increase of 21 per cent year-over-year. Net sales were $651 million, up 28 per cent. The North America fibre cement segment volume increased five per cent and sales increased 10 per cent. The segment’s EBIT margin was 24.7 per cent for the quarter.

Taiga Posts Gains

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had sales of $422.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent compared to sales of $379.8 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin dollars for the quarter increased to $39.4 million compared to $33.7 million. Net earnings increased to $6.4 million from $5 million and EBITDA was $16.1 million compared to $14.3 million for the same period last year.

August 20, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Rise Again

Manufacturing sales rose 1.1 per cent to $58.1 billion in June, following a 1.5 per cent increase in May, says Statistics Canada. The increase in June was mainly due to sharply higher sales in the petroleum and coal product industry, while sales were down in the chemicals and food manufacturing industries. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales were up 0.7 per cent, indicating a higher volume of products sold. Sales rose in the fabricated metal three per cent) and the plastics and rubber (2.2 per cent) product industries while primary metal sales edged down 0.3 per cent to $4.6 billion in June, following four consecutive monthly sales increases totalling 13.9 per cent from January to May. Tariffs imposed by the U.S. on Canadian steel and aluminum products came into effect on June 1. Manufacturing sales increased in five provinces in June, led by Quebec and Alberta. Nova Scotia (8.2 per cent) posted the second largest provincial decrease. Total manufacturing inventories increased 0.5 per cent to $82.1 billion and the inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.42 in May to 1.41 in June. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Canadians Want More Payment Options

Friction at the end of the path to purchase both instore and online is causing 53 per cent of Canadians to abandon a purchase, says a study by Payments Canada. “The high abandonment rates at check-out suggest there is a high cost of not integrating faster, more convenient payment technologies,” says Gerry Gaetz, president and chief executive officer of Payments Canada. “Canadian consumers … are indicating that they will not buy from those businesses that don’t make the payment experience easy.” The report shows that 70 per cent of Canadians who have uploaded an eWallet such as Apple Pay, used this payment type at least once since its launch in Canada in mid-2017. There is also a growing appetite for other emerging payment technologies that cause less friction with 43 per cent of Canadians interested in invisible or non-check-out payments in store and one-third interested in payments via social networking apps. Canadians living in urban neighbourhoods are more interested in payments becoming more invisible (49 per cent) compared to suburban (42 per cent) or rural (31 per cent). Currently, 16 per cent of Canadians have uploaded an eWallet app.

Garaga Acquires Mid-America Door Company

Canadian garage door manufacturer Garaga Inc. has purchased Mid-America Door Company located in Ponca City, OK. Both Garaga and Mid-America Door manufacture residential and commercial sectional garage doors. Garaga specializes in polyurethane products, whereas Mid-America Door provides its dealers pan and styrene garage door products. Garaga plans to continue to grow both brands independently by leveraging and sharing the strengths of both. This transaction will significantly increase Garaga's footprint in the U.S.

Swim Spas Making Splash With Homeowners

A growing number of homeowners are taking the plunge into swim spas that can be used year-round ‒ even in Canada’s notoriously long-cold winters ‒ over traditional backyard pools, says Whitby, ON-based Arctic Spas. Swim spas are like a hybrid of a hot tub and a swimming pool. They have warm water and powerful jets, but stretch out longer than a hot tub so users can swim in place. “We’ve seen a lot more interest in swim spas over the past few years from homeowners who want to enjoy the fun and fitness aspects of going for a swim, but don’t want the expense or headaches of a major construction project to install a full-size pool,” says Philip Edey, general manager of Arctic Spas.

Energy Efficient Lighting Market Set For Rapid Growth

The global energy-efficient lighting market was valued at approximately $5.49 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of around $13.39 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a CAGR of around 13.57 per cent between 2018 and 2024, says a report by Zion Research. Technological advancements in the lighting systems not only provide energy efficiency, but also offer additional benefits such as light ambiance, ventilation, and warmth. In addition, these lighting devices add the aesthetic beauty to a house and eliminate the need for artificial heating and cooling. The installation of smart lighting devices helps in efficient energy consumption and effective regulation of thermal room temperatures. The efficient lighting devices also minimize the requirement for power-driven temperature control systems. Government initiatives for energy saving in order to maintain sustainability and the eco-friendly environment will also fuel the growth of the market. The energy efficient lighting market is categorized on the basis of the source into light emitting diodes (LED), high-intensity discharge lamps (HID), and linear fluorescent lamps (LFL). The LED segment held the major revenue share in 2017.

Hendry Joins AFA

George Hendry is director of marketing with AFA Forest Products Inc., effective September 4. Based out of the Langley, BC, branch, he will be responsible for national accounts, marketing and merchandising, product management and development, market research, distribution channel management, and special projects.

HDI Sales Up

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had consolidated sales of $298.2 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 7.4 per cent over consolidated sales of $277.5 million in the second quarter of 2017. Sales from Canadian operations increased 4.1 per cent year-over-year and U.S. operations’ sales increased 12.4 per cent. Organic growth accounted for 8.6 per cent of this increase, with acquisitions-based growth contributing 3.8 per cent. Gross profit increased $1.5 million to $53 million and gross profit margin was 17.8 per cent. Second quarter profit increased two per cent and adjusted profit increased 8.8 per cent year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was $16.8 million, as compared to $17.2 million in the year-ago period. The company says earnings reflect the impact of the U.S. trade case against hardwood plywood imported from China and a negative foreign exchange impact.

Builders FirstSource Has Strong Increase 

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $2.1 billion for the second quarter of 2018, a 13.4 per cent increase over net sales for the second quarter of 2017. Gross margin was $496.3, an increase of $35.5 million year-over-year. Gross margin percentage was 23.7 per cent, a decrease of 130 basis points. Net income was $56.6 million compared to $37.9 million and adjusted net income was $62.6 million compared to $37.9 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter grew $15.1 million to $139.1 million, or 6.7 per cent of sales, compared to $124 million, or 6.7 per cent of sales, for the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 12.2 per cent.

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