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News

September 7, 2018

Building Permits Inch Down

Canadian municipalities issued $8.2 billion worth of building permits in July, down 0.1 per cent from June, says Statistics Canada. The decrease was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions in British Columbia. The value of permits for residential buildings edged down 0.3 per cent to $5.3 billion, mainly as the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, down 1.1 per cent to $2.9 billion. The decrease in British Columbia ($185 million) offsets gains in seven provinces. The value of building permits in the single-family component was up 0.6 per cent to $2.4 billion. Four provinces registered increases, led by Ontario and Manitoba. In July, municipalities approved the construction of 19,824 new dwellings (+1.2 per cent), consisting of 14,660 multi-family units (+3.7 per cent), and 5,164 single units (-5.2 per cent). The value of non-residential permits edged up 0.2 per cent to $2.9 billion in July, mainly due to higher construction intentions in Quebec. Increases in the industrial component more than offset the declines for commercial and institutional buildings. The total value of building permits was down in five provinces, with British Columbia and Ontario recording the largest decreases.


Wolseley Canada Acquires James Electric

Wolseley Canada Inc. has acquired James Electric Motor Services Ltd., a seller of pumps and motors in western Canada. The company will continue to operate under its existing name.


Technology To Drive Home Security Market

The global home security system market is expected to reach US$74.75 billion by 2023 from $45.58 billion in 2018 at a compound annual growth rate of 10.4 per cent during the forecast period, says a report by ResearchAndMarkets. This growth can be attributed to the emergence of the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and wireless technologies, and increasing customer awareness. Video surveillance security systems are likely to hold the largest share of the home security product market. The surveillance cameras available on the market use AI and deep learning to empower the security with more reliability and accuracy. The high cost associated with the installation and maintenance of home security systems is the key factor limiting the growth of this market.


Kellogg Joins Coast Distributors

Bonnie Kellogg is purchasing manager with Coast Distributors Ltd. Previously she was purchasing manager with Merit Kitchens. She succeeds Anthony Snell, who is general manager of Nanaimo, BC, operations.


RH Has Strong Quarter

RH had net revenue of $640.8 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase over net revenue of $615.3 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $271.6 million versus $205.8 million in the year-ago period. Net income was $64 million compared to a loss of $7.9 million last year. The company had adjusted EBITDA of $103 million for the quarter versus $63 million a year ago.


Retail Secure Expands Content

This year, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has expanded its ‘Retail Secure Conference’ to include an expanded content format that dives into three areas of significant risk for retail today – fraud protection, data security, and loss prevention. Sessions include ‘The Untamed Cyber World,’ Learning the Language of Retail,’ and ‘Racial Bias: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Organization.’ It takes place September 20 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit RCC Retail Secure


September 6, 2018

Retail Sales Slow For Third Consecutive Quarter

Retail sales growth has slowed for the third consecutive quarter, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. After six months, 2018 year-to-date total Canadian retail sales are up 3.6 per cent. That's half of the 7.2 per cent growth recorded for the first half of last year, although 2017 was particularly strong for Canadian retail. The peak of the current cycle is now well past us, says Strapagiel. Year-over-year retail sales growth topped out at eight per cent in second quarter of last year. This has declined consistently, to 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, 6.7 per cent in fourth quarter of 2017, four per cent in the first quarter of 2018, and finally to 3.4 per cent in second quarter of 2018. “The prospects don't look promising for the balance of 2018.” As for eCommerce sales, overall, online sales represented about 2.7 per cent of total Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending June. eCommerce sales were up 15.7 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter, but Strapagiel says this is much less than the 35 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago.


SMEs Struggle To Find Staff

Over 39 per cent of SMEs are struggling to find new employees and the problem will not improve for at least a decade, says a Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) study. It shows firms affected by labour shortages are 65 per cent more likely to generate low sales. The situation is most dire in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, and Ontario with manufacturing, retail trade, and construction the hardest hit sectors. Nearly six in 10 entrepreneurs said the labour shortages mean existing staff must work more, while 47 per cent said they have had to raise wages. The indirect costs of labour shortages are no less damaging. For example, business owners are forced to spend more time on the shop floor because of a lack of workers which means less time spent on developing the business. This holds business back and hinders growth. "Labour shortages are affecting growth for many Canadian businesses and this has an impact on Canada's competitiveness," says Pierre Cléroux, vice-president, research, and chief economist at BDC. "Businesses are being forced to refuse orders or delay deliveries. To help deal with the impact, entrepreneurs should think about hiring from under-represented segments of the population, such as younger or less-qualified workers, retired workers, or newcomers to Canada."


Click-and-collect Gains Traction

Physical retail locations play a significant, direct role in the omnichannel purchasing experience and they can also help build loyalty from the omnichannel purchaser, who may choose that retailer again knowing that additional needs can be met in the moment, says a report by research firm Packaged Facts. Bricks-and-mortar retailers have fought back against the online tide by executing innovative strategies – such as click-and-collect – that play to their traditional strengths while providing consumers with an increasingly seamless omnichannel shopping experience. By allowing consumers to choose between internet-only home delivery, in-store shopping and purchasing, and online ordering with store pickup, retailers can deliver a win-win. More than a third (35 per cent) of online purchasers have clicked-and-collected (ordered product/service online and picked it up at a store) in the last three months, a usage statistic that Packaged Facts estimates has risen very quickly in just a few years. Immediate need and convenience are part of click-and-collect’s allure. Packaged Facts concludes that click-and-collect may boost overall sales at the purchaser’s retailer of choice. Some 34 per cent of click-and-collectors purchased an additional item the last time they picked up an online order.


Ontario Sales Managers Appointed

Dan McDevitt is territory sales manager and will develop the Greater Toronto Area and central and northern Ontario territories for Isolofoam. He joined the company in early 2018 and has more than 20 years of experience in the construction products industry. Dianne Smith is territory sales manager for eastern Ontario. She joined the company in the spring and has more than 30 years of experience in the building material industry.


Strong Sales For Generac

Power equipment manufacturer Generac Holdings Inc. had net sales of $494.9 million for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 25.3 per cent over net sales of $394.9 million in the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit margin improved 190 basis points to 35.6 per cent as compared to 33.7 per cent in the year-ago period. Net income was $53.3 million versus $25.3 million and adjusted net income was $68.9 million versus $42.7 million year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was $99.6 million versus $68.3 million a year ago.


September 5, 2018

Renovations Boosts Residential Construction Investment


Investment in residential construction in Canada increased 7.8 per cent year over year to $36 billion in the second quarter, says Statistics Canada. Every component except single homes and mobile homes contributed to the year-over-year increase in spending on residential construction in the second quarter. The growth was led by spending on apartment buildings, up $1.2 billion or 26.7 per cent, followed by investment in renovations, up $1 billion or 6.7 per cent. Spending on renovations increased in six provinces, with Ontario ($582.6 million) and Quebec ($276.9 million) leading the nation. The largest declines for this component were in Alberta (down $101.0 million) and Saskatchewan which dropped $26.6 million. Ontario, up $1.1 billion or eight per cent), and Quebec at $1.1 billion or 15.8 per cent) posted the largest gains in total spending on residential construction. The Atlantic provinces ‒ with Prince Edward Island posting its seventh consecutive double-digit year-over-year increase, up 20.5 per cent or $18.9 million ‒ posted gains as well. However, on the prairies, Manitoba ($19.1 million or 1.8 per cent) was the lone province to post gains. Saskatchewan (down $119.6 million) and Alberta ($95.7 million) reported year-over-year declines in residential investment. In the second quarter, investment in single homes declined by $327.6 million, the first year-over-year drop since the fourth quarter of 2015.


Askuity Calls For Industry Voices


Retail sales enablement platform provider Askuity is calling for industry voices for its annual ‘2019 POS Data Study.’ The survey takes roughly five minutes and participants will receive a $5 coffee gift card upon completion. In its third year of publication, the ‘2019 POS Data Study’ takes input from brands and manufacturers in order to examine the complex relationship between retail brands and data. The study will focus on trends, best practices, how brands are using point-of-sale (POS) data, which retail verticals are most active in analyzing the data, and the impact of the data on retailer meetings and buyer relationships. The survey closes Friday, September 7. For more information or to take the survey, visit Askuity 2018 POS Data Study


Transport Canada Supports Vehicle Automation


Transport Canada, a government of Canada agency, will provide $2.9 million in funding to the Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System program to help Canadian jurisdictions prepare for connected and automated vehicles. It says connected and automated vehicles will bring about significant transformation in the transportation system, communities, and economy. They have the potential to improve road safety, reduce congestion, increase mobility, protect the environment, and generate new economic opportunities for middle-class Canadians. In particular, the funding will support research, studies, and technology demonstrations across Canada. Results will help address technical, policy, and regulatory issues related to connected and automated vehicles. Findings will be shared extensively to encourage further innovation across Canada.


Mobile Shopping Continues Increase


As mobile shopping continues to grow, consumers are downloading retailer mobile apps at double the rate of years past and conducting more in-app purchases, says a report from Synchrony. The ‘2018 Digital Study’ shows that 67 per cent of consumers have downloaded a retailer’s app; more than half of those did so specifically for a coupon or discount offer. As well, nearly half of consumers that have downloaded a retailer’s app use it for purchases. “In today’s competitive landscape, a mobile application is not just another piece of technology for retailers, it is a vital tool to engage shoppers with their brand,” says Maya Mikhailov, senior vice-president, chief marketing officer with GPShopper, a developer of mobile apps acquired by Synchrony in 2017. “Consumers that use retail mobile applications are a retailer’s top shoppers. As such, they want their apps to be tailored to their unique shopping experiences and preferences.”


Strong Growth Forecast For Connected Washing Machines


The North American connected washing machine market is expected to witness market growth of 21.1 per cent compounded annually from 2017 to 2023, says a report by ResearchAndMarkets. Smart washing machines can save time and energy. These machines lead to increased comfort levels and convenience for the end-users. North America is one of the most lucrative markets for these products. Growing internet adoption, technological advancements, and ease of access are some of the major factors that are fueling the growth of the market.


September 4, 2018

Castle Shows Appreciation

Over 150 guests representing 80 Castle vendor partners from across Canada attended Castle’s annual ‘Vendor Appreciation Golf Tournament’ on August 27. The participants had the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, win prizes, and enjoy a day at the award-winning course in North Halton, ON. The tournament recognizes the valued vendor partners who play an on-going role in the success of Castle and the independent retailer. “Castle recognizes the importance of acknowledging the contribution of our vendor network and appreciates the dedication and commitment required to be successful in this industry. It is important to show gratitude to our suppliers for their dedication and their commitment to Castle,” says Ken Jenkins, Castle’s president The annual charity golf function supports The SickKids Foundation and this year’s tournament raised an all-time record amount of over $30,000 in charitable donations.


Technology Provides Savings Opportunities

Virtual assistants are expected to play a role in how consumers save as the technology’s popularity increases, says the ‘2018 Valassis Purse String Survey.’ While voice-activated shopping is still relatively new, there’s an interest in utilizing it for savings opportunities. Of the 21 per cent of respondents that own an in-home voice assistant device or smart speaker, 32 per cent are interested in receiving coupons and discounts through those devices. This percentage is even higher among Millennials (48 per cent) and parents (42 per cent). The report, released ahead of ‘National Coupon Month’ this month, shows 81 per cent of consumers like brands to communicate coupons and offers in both print and online so they don’t miss savings. As well, 74 per cent say seeing an offer in both print and online captures their attention. Sixty per cent say seeing an offer in both print and online makes them more likely to make a purchase.


Younger Generation Needs Education In Homeownership

With the mounting cost of home ownership in Ontario and British Columbia, it is no surprise that 38 per cent of Canadians expressed no desire to own a home. However, nearly 51 per cent of Generation Z (age 18 to 24) in the Greater Vancouver, BC, area would like to own a home in the next few years, while those in Toronto, ON, are more inclined to continue to rent or live with their parents, says a survey by RE/MAX. Generation Z is expected to outnumber Millennials within a year and as such, this generation will have a significant impact on the housing market over the next 20 years. “While the survey showed interesting trends across two of the hottest markets, the Gen Zers we speak to are eager to become informed and excited about the future of home ownership,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, RE/MAX of western Canada. The survey also finds that 46 per cent of respondents who don't currently own a home, would like to in the next few years.


Randall’s To Carry Sansin Wood Finishes

Paint and wallcovering retailer Randall’s will now carry Sansin Corporation’s exterior and interior line of wood finishes. Randall’s, a 70-year-old private company with three locations in the Ottawa, ON, region, will carry Sansin’s Purity Interior Stains and Clears and Exterior Enviro Stains.


Wegmans Offers App To Visually-impaired Customers

U.S. supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets has partnered with augmented reality company Aira to enable blind and low-vision customers to have an easier shopping experience. These customers can download the Aira app on their smartphone and use it to connect to a remote, sighted agent to access information on demand. On request, Aira agents can help shoppers navigate the store, find specific items, and identify the shortest checkout lines. Aira is a San Diego, CA-based startup that makes use of wearable technology, artificial intelligence, and live, human assistance to deliver real-time visual description for people who are blind or have low vision. Using a smartphone or a pair of smart glasses, the vision-impaired customer can connect to a remote, trained professional who can provide assistance on-demand using a live camera stream, GPS, maps, and information sourced from the web.


Alternative Materials To Affect Aluminum Gutter Market

Demand for aluminum gutters and downspouts is forecast to reach $4 billion in 2022, an increase of 3.4 per cent annually, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Increases will be driven by ongoing growth in the large residential improvement and repair market. In linear feet, demand for aluminum gutter and downspout products is projected to increase 1.6 per cent per year to 1.6 billion in 2022. Aluminum is the material most used for gutter systems, resulting in a largely mature market. Long-term value growth will be supported by the promotion of value-added products and accessories – like rainwater harvesting equipment, gutter guards, and decorative features such as rain chains – in an effort to combat market maturity. However, aluminum gutter guards will continue to face competition from plastic and steel varieties, resulting in only moderate gains in an otherwise expanding segment.


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