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 31, 2018

Christmas Should Start Earlier

Hardware retailers should start their Christmas season in September, says Ray Chapman, retail project manager for CNRG (Central Network Retail Group). Speaking with Shelly Barney, a buyer with CNRG, at the Orgill Fall Dealer Market, he said the Christmas selling season is only about six weeks. However, it can be one of the most important selling seasons for a hardware store. He suggested that merchandising start in September or October to let customers know “you carry Christmas.” It is also where a retailer can make the dollars because while some may complain about Christmas starting to early, they will pay full price. Successfully merchandising Christmas starts with creating an ambience right from the road to draw people in. In fact, a single strand of Christmas lights will do, but this is an opportunity to get really creative, he said. Once inside the store, the Christmas ambience needs to be maintained even if seasonal is at the back of the store. Signage should direct customers to it. Barney said while lights are the most important Christmas category, accounting for 60 to 70 per cent of sales, stores should feature more including yard art and Christmas décor. As well, everything should be lit up so people can see what things look like and visualize how they will look in their home. And retailers can differentiate themselves from the big boxes by selling bulk wire and bulbs which enable a homeowner to create their own light strands in the colours they want to make their house look different.

Lowe’s Canada Launches Annual Heroes Campaign

Lowe’s Canada has launched its national ‘Lowe’s Canada Heroes’ campaign. This year, for the very first time, every Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate store in the country will support a non-profit organization or public school in the community by collecting donations to help it fulfill its mission or carry out a specific project. A total of over 260 local organizations will be financially supported by this campaign throughout September. From September 1 to 30, customers from all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores will be invited to make a donation at check-out to support the local organization chosen by their store. Lowe’s Canada will match 50 per cent of all customer donations up to $2,000 per store. “The Lowe’s Canada Heroes campaign gives our employees the opportunity to get involved with a local organization of their choice to help carry out inspiring projects and improve the lives of the people around them,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs, and compliance at Lowe’s Canada. “This campaign has run in our Lowe’s stores across the country for several years and we’re excited to extend it to RONA and Reno-Depot.”

Norbord Releases ‘Thank A Framer’ Campaign

Norbord Inc. will launch its second video to kick off ‘Thank a Framer’ month this September. This video follows the process of manufacturing oriented strand board (OSB) from the forest to the construction site, paying homage to workers in the supply chain along the way. It aims to highlight the vital role framers play and supports Norbord's efforts to ease the construction labour shortage in the U.S. With more than 200,000 construction jobs vacant, the home building industry needs to train more people to fill these positions, says the company. Last year, Norbord launched the #ThankAFramer Campaign to raise awareness and donated US$1.1 million to the Home Builders Institute (HBI) to train framers to alleviate the labour shortage.

Strong Sales Forecast For Smart Thermostats

U.S. demand for smart and connected thermostats is forecast to increase 23 per cent per year through 2022 to 14.5 million units – largely tracking value demand trends, but at a significantly faster pace due to falling prices – with smart thermostats siphoning market share away from connected types, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Going forward, the most significant driver of unit sales of smart and connected thermostats will be the rapidly declining prices, which will support multiple-unit consumer adoption. Ramped up efforts by utility companies, homebuilders, and HVAC contractors to promote these products based on their cost- and energy-saving benefits will also underlie growth. The market is expected to transition to become more replacement-oriented between 2022 and 2025, which will correspond with declining sales. By then, most households interested in these products will have purchased one.

Fortune To Acquire Fiberon

Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. plans to acquire Fiberon, LLC, a manufacturer of outdoor performance materials used primarily in decking, railing, and fencing products. Fiberon will join Fortune Brands’ new doors and security segment. Fortune says the acquisition will complement its Therma-Tru door brand and provide category expansion and product extension opportunities. Fiberon focuses its business on capped composite non-wood products which are growing at nearly 10 per cent annually and currently represent approximately one quarter of the decking market.

Global Solar Home Competition Generates New Ideas

The ‘Solar Decathlon China 2018’ (SDC2018) was held August 3 to 17 to encourage students to imagine and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The international collegiate competition enables students to use technologies and innovations from world-leading research and design teams and aims to integrate solar energy, energy conservation, and architecture in new ways to create comfortable, livable, sustainable, and fully functional solar houses. Nineteen teams consisting of 34 schools from eight countries and regions were required to build a 120 to 200 square metre, one- or two-storey solar house that can be put to permanent use. The student designs provided valuable references to rural revitalization as they delivered solutions for pressing social issues such as future urban development and the aging effect. Some of the innovative ideas included crop stalks mixed into bricks, a water collection and self-cleaning system, and a villa community for the elderly and a smart home.

Industry Trends Focus Of Security Canada Central

Security industry trends and innovation will be the main topics at ‘Security Canada Central.’ This year’s event will feature companies that are driving innovation and the opportunity to learn from industry leaders. It takes place October 24 and 25 at the Toronto Congress Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit Security Canada Central

August 30, 2018

Payment Methods Turning To Digitization

Digitization is affecting the way Canadians pay for the goods and services they buy. In the 12 months to June 2018, the bulk of total personal spending (76 per cent) by Canadians aged 18 and older was done using digital payment methods, including debit and credit cards, preauthorized payments, or online banking, says Statistics Canada in its ‘Canada Digital Economy Survey.’ At the same time, cash or cheque were used for 21 per cent of all personal spending, while other payment methods, such as reward points and gift cards, accounted for the remainder. On average, Canadians 65 years of age and older used cash for 30 per cent of their total personal spending, while those aged 35 to 44 years used digital methods for 80 per cent of all their spending.

Ply Gem To Acquire Andersen Silver Line Division

Ply Gem plans to acquire Andersen Corporation’s hollow core vinyl window and patio door business, including the Silver Line and American Craftsman brands. Andersen say the divestiture is part of its broader strategy to sharpen the focus on its Renewal by Andersen and specialty brands and to continue to make investments required to support its proprietary Fibrex engineered composite products. Ply Gem will acquire the four Silver Line manufacturing plants and associated distribution and support services. The more than 4,000 employees working in these locations and functions will transition to Ply Gem with the business. The transaction is expected to close by early in the fourth calendar quarter of 2018.

Schneider Electric To Relocate Edmonton Operations

Schneider Electric will relocate its current operations in Edmonton, AB, to a newly-constructed, larger space in March 2019 to meet increased market demand. As well as becoming the new workplace for all existing Edmonton employees, the company will also be adding additional employee positions to support growth. The move to the 77,000-square-foot facility from the existing 59,000-square-foot location will provide the company with enough capacity to introduce production of ready-to-install compatible power panelboards to the current production of QED switchboards, motor control centres, and lighting panelboards. Next year, all 102 existing employees currently at two separately leased locations will begin working at the new facility. The location will offer mixed-use office space and a production floor to accommodate current global supply chain operations, Edmonton sales, and Edmonton service employees. The new facility will include full office integration of connected products, edge control, and analytics software on the plant floor for a ‘smart factory’ environment.

Orgill To Expand Texas DC

Orgill, Inc. is expanding its distribution centre in Kilgore, TX. The company will almost double the size of the existing facility to nearly one-million square feet. The company says growth in the region has made the expansion a necessity. Construction is expected to complete by June 2019.

Residential IoT Device Sales To Increase

Global annual revenue from residential internet of things (IoT) device sales is expected to increase to $167.2 billion in 2027, says a report from Navigant Research. This includes connected devices, software, and services. As residential IoT technologies continue to emerge, they are becoming fundamental to supporting connectivity, communications, and interoperability in the home, through concepts like the smart home, as well as a variety of other business models and use cases that have been brought to life. The market represents a large opportunity for stakeholders that can capitalize on connectivity and technology with access to more data than ever before. Navigant says there are more connected devices and data than ever before and the industry is only beginning to scratch the surface of opportunity IoT has to offer. IoT is already present in the home and it continues to gain momentum as technologies emerge that empower consumers to better monitor and control their lives.

Weyerhaeuser Announces Succession Plan

Devin W. Stockfish will be president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser Company, effective January 1. He is currently senior vice-president of the company’s timberlands business. He succeeds Doyle R. Simons, who has elected to retire. Adrian Blocker will succeed Stockfish as senior vice-president of timberlands. He currently leads the company's wood products business. Keith O'Rear will succeed Blocker as senior vice-president of wood products. He currently leads the company's wood products sales and marketing organization.

August 29, 2018

Retailers Need to Innovate To Survive

Nationwide store closures and the recent high-profile collapse of iconic brands such as Zellers and Sears send a clear message: Canadian small- and medium-sized retailers need to innovate to survive and thrive, says a report by BDO Canada. ‘Retail Trends in Canada 2018’ shows Canadian retailers are lagging behind their U.S. and UK counterparts on both the implementation of eCommerce and the use of data analytics. However, BDO Canada says they can future-proof their businesses by looking at five critical retail trends and focus areas including technology, experiential retail, eCommerce versus bricks-and-mortar, consumer shopping habits, and customer relationships. “It is now business-critical for Canadian retailers to rethink and redesign their strategy,” says Eric Matusiak, partner and national retail leader at BDO Canada. “Several of these trends in the industry have had enough traction to be proven, but there’s still time for retailers to adapt to them. A methodical approach is recommended by developing a holistic strategy rather than jumping on the bandwagon.” The full report is available at BDO Canada

Lee Valley Opens Laval Store

Lee Valley is opening its 20th location in Laval, QC. The 25,000-square-foot store will open in central Laval in October. The retailer is known for products in the woodworking, gardening, hobby, hardware, gift, and seasonal categories. The Ottawa-based chain also owns the Veritas Tools brand. The company was founded by Leonard Lee in 1978.

Customer Experience Driving Supply Chain Innovation

A survey by supply chain software and services provider BluJay Solutions shows that above-average performers and innovators in the supply chain industry focus on customer experience. Conversely, average or below performers and laggards measure customer experience much less and identify cost reduction as the driving factor in supply chain innovation. The data indicates that logistics service providers (LSPs) are champions of enhanced customer experience as they look for ways to differentiate themselves, focusing less on competing on cost, which often leads to commoditization. Innovators and early adopters seem to have matured to the point where they are less concerned about their existing systems and are now focused on outwardly focused needs such as flexibility/innovation of supply chains and working with other functional groups. In contrast, laggards are still focusing on updating their antiquated systems and are trailing on adopting integrated solutions. These findings suggest that in order to drive faster and more efficient supply chain innovation, leaders need to find flexible, future-proof solutions and continue to innovate, while laggards must leapfrog ahead by replacing their outdated IT systems with modern ones that eliminate the silos that still exist between their systems and processes.

Orgill Partners With Unilog

Orgill, Inc. has partnered with Unilog, a provider of eCommerce solutions. Under the agreement, Orgill dealers will have shared access to a new eCommerce website and product content subscription services. The partnership will also allow Orgill to provide a digital catalogue of more than 150,000 items with enhanced descriptions and content. Dealers will be able to subscribe to this digital content and display it on their website for informational purposes or for online sales.

Businesses Should Consider Landline Alternatives

With a sharp decrease in landline use and some predicting they could be extinct as early as 2020, businesses must address their future communication needs now, says Amr Ibrahim, chief executive officer of ULTATEL, a U.S. telecommunications service provider. Ibrahim says wireless is an option, but it comes with its own challenges, such as telemarketing fraud. “Small business start-ups, in particular, often rely on employees using their cell phones for business calls in the absence of landlines, but that’s a trap for businesses to fall victim to robocalls and fraud.” He says a better option VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems. VoIP phone systems offer a unified workplace phone system that works where the team works. The system can allow employees to use their own devices and can eliminate the need for expensive technology.

Swiss Diamond Names Canadian Representative

Don Schacter + Associates Sales & Marketing now represents Swiss Diamond in Canada. The agency has more than 30 years of experience in retail at all levels including department stores, mass merchants, grocery, supercentres, drug stores, home centres, specialty chains, health/wellness, independent retailers, and foodservice. Swiss Diamond will now manage all marketing, sales, and operations activities for the North America market out of its Charlotte, NC, office. Don Schacter + Associates sales representatives include Jim and Greg Moodie for British Columbia; Jerry Polsky for Alberta/Saskatchewan; Darrell Hubelit for Manitoba; Wayne Bentley for southwestern Ontario; Jim Kemp for Toronto, ON; Tim Smith for eastern, central, and northern Ontario; and Francois Boutin and Brigitte Meunier for Quebec. Swiss Diamond International is a privately-held Swiss company that manufactures cookware.

August 28, 2018

Castle Adds Members

Castle Building Centres Group has added new members in western Canada and the Maritimes. Imperia Wholesale and Retail Inc. is located Morden, MB, in the Pembina Valley region. The new Castle location and lumberyard will be offering an extensive selection of key building material products and hardware with owners Volodymyr Shkyne and Viktor Shulz focused on growing the community and continuing to forge successful relationships and work with local businesses and trades. Cabot Building Supply in Dingwall, NS, will service the building materials needs of the surrounding communities. The family run business was founded in 1979 by Murdock MacLeod whose son Kirk and daughter Kimber joined a few years later.

Simple Measures Can Reduce Theft

Stores need to have manager override for every return over $30, says Nathan Looman, president of Watcher Total Protection. Speaking at the Orgill Fall Dealer Market on ‘Retail Loss Prevention: How to Protect your Store Assets from Employee & Customer Theft,’ he said with theft costing American retailers more than $16 billion cost, this shrink can account for up to four per cent of gross sales. However, a few simple measures like setting override controls can cut this in half, he said. One way employees are stealing on returns is when a customer buys an item and doesn’t take their receipt, an increasing occurrence these days. With that receipt, the employee can refund the purchase price to themselves. Since drawer balances at point of sale are difficult to manage, what starts as an occasional incident can escalate. Retailers need to watch for cashiers who are constantly selling items and making returns. This is a giant red flag, he said. Steps to prevent it include giving managers rolling authorization passwords as systems break down if things get busy. They can also require that a second receipt be printed and taped to returned items so weekly returns can be compared to verify stock is there. If they see there are eight receipts and 12 returns, this indicates a problem, he said.

Strong Sales Forecast For Windows And Doors Markets

U.S. demand for windows and doors is forecast to rise 4.8 per cent annually to $34.3 billion in 2021, says ResearchAndMarkets. Sales will rise on new housing construction activity, increased spending on commercial building construction and remodeling, and growing demand for high-value, more aesthetically pleasing windows and doors sold at higher price points. The global aluminum door and window market also looks promising, with opportunities in both the residential and commercial construction sectors. The global aluminum door and window market is estimated to reach $72.1 billion by 2021 and to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1 per cent from 2016 to 2021. Global composite doors and windows is projected to reach $1.17 million by 2021, at a CAGR of 6.33 per cent from 2016 to 2021. The key factor expected to drive the growth of the composite doors and composite windows market is the increasing demand for composite doors and composite windows for industrial applications, due to their resistance to corrosion and heat and low maintenance.

BuildDirect Enhances Credit Program For Pros

Online home improvement retailer BuildDirect has launched its PRO Credit update, an instant credit benefit as a part of the BuildDirect PRO Rewards Program. Home improvement professionals registered as PROs can earn redeemable credit after every purchase. Rewards immediately appear on their accounts and can be applied to any future purchase. Additionally, BuildDirect has increased the ceiling for possible credit from $2,500 to $5,000 per year so that PROs can earn more rewards than ever before.

MiTek Upgrades Deck Designer

MiTek has released a new version of its MiTek Deck Designer (formerly USP Deck Designer) that offers a series of improvements. This version of the software allows advanced customization of deck levels as well as the direction, colour, and size of deck planks, among other features. Users can design and shape multi-level decks in a 3D environment and create platform stairs, while visualizing their projects using a variety of decking and construction materials, ranging from wood to composite decking and metal. The program also allows the design of glass infill railing and the creation of a complete material list once the design phase is complete. The program is suitable for all user levels from beginner homeowners to professional deck builders and retailers. It provides a materials cut list, along with permit submittals that can be saved, printed, eMailed, and exported.

Denton Becomes Lowe’s Chief Financial Officer

David M. Denton will be executive vice-president, chief financial officer with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Currently, he serves as executive vice-president and chief financial officer of CVS Health. He will join Lowe’s shortly after the closing of the CVS acquisition of Aetna, which is expected in the second half of 2018.

August 27, 2018

Consumer Values Shifting

Consumer values are shifting to self-gratification where less value is put on price and simplicity becomes key, says Lisa Stone, a sales executive at Valassis. Speaking on ‘Retail Apocalypse or Retail Renaissance: How Does This Digital Stuff Work Anyway’ at the Orgill’s Fall Dealer Market, she said shopping routines that are not gratifying and simple will result in lost business. And even though the home improvement industry has outperformed the rest of the retail sector in the last seven years, these retailers need to take this into consideration. Still, it does face headwinds and tailwinds. While these include home sales and home prices as well as policy changes like tariffs and interest rates, they also need to be aware of the growth of non-traditional retailers like Amazon, Houzz, and Wayfair. They need to message to newly-empowered shoppers who are able to make purchases at any time and any place on their smartphones. This means everything they do must magnify their message and ensure it is front of mind. One approach is to integrate their campaigns between print and digital. She cited statistics from a Kantar/TNS Measured Media 2016 for Home Centers & Hardware Stores report which shows print influences 34 per cent of purchasing decisions and digital 33 per cent.

New Housing Construction Investment Increases

Investment in new housing construction increased 6.3 per cent in June compared with the same month a year earlier to $5 billion, says Statistics Canada. The year-over-year increase was mainly attributable to higher spending on apartment building construction, while investment in single family homes declined for the fourth consecutive month. Spending was up in seven provinces, led by Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario. In all three provinces, the increase was led by investment in apartment building construction. Despite the continuing year-over-year decline in spending on single family homes, investment in construction for this building type continued to account for the majority of investment in every province except Quebec and British Columbia. Investment in single homes accounted for 33.8 per cent of total investment in Quebec and 39.7 per cent in British Columbia.

Lowe’s Reassesses Business To Focus On Core Competency

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is exiting its Orchard Supply Hardware business as part of the company’s strategic reassessment which includes a stronger focus on its core home improvement business. The company will close all 99 Orchard Supply Hardware stores located in California, Oregon, and Florida, as well as the distribution facility that services those stores. To facilitate the wind-down, the company will conduct store closing sales. It has partnered with Hilco Merchant Services to help manage the process. “In addition to the decision to exit Orchard Supply Hardware, we are developing plans to aggressively rationalize store inventory, reducing lower performing inventory while investing in increased depth of velocity items,” says Marvin R. Ellison, president and chief executive officer. "Our strategic reassessment is ongoing as we evaluate the productivity of our real estate portfolio and non-retail business investments.”

IKEA Installing Solar Panels On Alberta Stores

As part of its long-standing commitment to renewable energy, IKEA Canada will install solar panels on its stores in Edmonton and Calgary, AB. Both systems are currently being installed and are expected to be operational by end of year. At a capacity of 840 kilowatts (kW), the IKEA Edmonton system will be one of the largest commercial rooftop solar systems in the city, with 2,905 panels and expected production of 1,180 megawatt hours (MWh), making it among the most productive systems owned by IKEA Canada. It will offset approximately 878 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. The 660kW IKEA Calgary system will have 2,240 panels and expected production of 1,000 MWh, offsetting approximately 744 tonnes of C02 emissions per year. IKEA Canada partnered with RESCo Energy Inc. for the design, installation, and maintenance of the solar systems.

ETA Expanding Canadian Presence

The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) is expanding its presence in Canada to help drive innovation in the global market for payments technology services. The Canadian advocacy and policy initiatives are guided by a committee of ETA member companies which include Moneris, First Data, Worldpay, Pivotal Payments, Paysafe, Square, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon. To strengthen these efforts, ETA has engaged public affairs firm Tactix. The announcement builds on the association's existing programs focused on the future of fintech in Canada. With over 500 member companies, ETA supports a modern payments system that promotes competition and financial inclusion.

Strong Performance For ROCKWOOL

ROCKWOOL International A/S had sales of €667 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 17.3 per cent over sales in the second quarter of 2017. EBIT was €91 million for the quarter, an increase of 43 per cent over the year-ago period. EBIT margin was 13.6 per cent versus 2.7 per cent. The company says it had growth in all regions with growing market demand for non-combustible insulation and other stone wool products.

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