Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


September 14, 2018

Employment Outlook Is Cautiously Optimistic

Slow but steady gains in employment are anticipated by Canadian employers over the next three months, with a cautiously optimistic hiring climate for job seekers in the fourth quarter of 2018, says ManpowerGroup’s ‘Employment Outlook Survey.’ With seasonal variations removed from the data, the net employment outlook of 14 per cent is a one percentage point increase compared to the previous quarter and is an increase of four percentage points compared to the outlook reported during the same time last year. Across Canada, 16 per cent of employers plan to increase their staffing levels in the fourth quarter, while six per cent anticipate cutbacks. Seventy-seven per cent expect their current staffing levels to remain unchanged, while the remaining one per cent are unsure of their hiring intentions. Job seekers in the construction sector should expect to see a steady hiring pace for the upcoming quarter with a net employment outlook of 14 per cent. This forecast is a decrease of two percentage points from the outlook reported in the previous quarter and a five percentage point increase compared to the same time last year. In the wholesale and retail trade sector, employers anticipate the weakest labour market in two years, reporting a net employment outlook of seven per cent. This reflects a three percentage point decrease compared to the previous quarter's forecast and a decrease of four percentage points from the outlook reported during the same time last year.

Pella Launches Home Security App

Pella Corporation introduced its Insynctive technology app which enables homeowners to self-monitor certain Pella products via their mobile device. The app allows them to monitor the status of their windows and doors and control the motorized glass blinds and shades in a variety of Pella products including the Architect Series, Designer Series, and entry doors. The app is available for Apple or Android products. Pella Insynctive products are also compatible with some other security and home automation systems.

U.S. Skilled Labour Scarcity Affecting Safety

Skilled labour shortages will have the greatest impact on commercial construction businesses in the U.S. over the next three years and this is affecting safety, says the third quarter ‘2018 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index.’ The report reveals 88 per cent of contractors expect to feel at least a moderate impact from the workforce shortages in the next three years, with over half (57 per cent) expecting the impact to be high/very high. The skilled labour shortage has been consistently identified as a major issue facing the industry, but it is now reported by 80 per cent of contractors to be impacting worker and jobsite safety. In fact, the index found that a lack of skilled workers was the number one factor impacting increased jobsite safety risks. As contractors grapple with a scarcity of skilled workers, findings show a majority are working to improve the overall safety culture on the jobsite (63 per cent) and at their firm’s offices (58 per cent). In fact, the indicators reported to have the highest impact on improving safety culture and outcomes are those that engage employees throughout the organization. This includes developing training programs for all levels of workers, ensuring accountability across the organization, and empowering and involving employees.

Renoworks Updates Gentek Web Visualizer

Renoworks Software Inc. and Gentek Building Products have updated the Gentek Visualizer with advancements in user experience, high-resolution realistic imagery, and mobile readiness. The Gentek Visualizer is an online engagement tool allowing consumers to experience Gentek's extensive portfolio of building products (vinyl, aluminum, and steel siding and accessories) online while experimenting and visualizing the final look of their construction/remodeling project quickly and easily. The Visualizer also provides pre-selected design options and palettes. In addition, Gentek Design Services will prepare images of submitted homes by consumers. The services will be offered for free at launch for Gentek customers.

September 13, 2018

Nova Scotia Incorporation Will Soon Be More Economical

In January, incorporating a limited company in Nova Scotia will be more economical, says Jamie L. Angus, a partner at McInnes Cooper. The Nova Scotia government says it will make three changes to its incorporation laws (amending the Nova Scotia Corporations Registration Act and a regulation under the Nova Scotia Companies Act). These include cheaper costs, with incorporation fees dropping to $200 from $336.40; one year free annual registration (previously $118.35 for the first year); and faster service, where it will take three days instead of five to 10 days to complete an incorporation through standard paper filing. Angus adds that incorporating electronically can further expedite the process. The changes will benefit businesses of all sizes. The greatest beneficiaries, however, are likely to be start-ups and small- to medium-sized businesses, for which every dollar can count, especially in the early stages. The changes reflect competition among federal and provincial governments to attract businesses of all sizes. Both the federal incorporation regime (the Canada Business Corporations Act) and that of Prince Edward Island have recently undergone changes to modernize them.

Dodge Momentum Index Falters In August

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 2.9 per cent in August to 164.1 from the revised July reading of 169. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for U.S. non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. Pushing the index lower in August was its commercial component, which dropped 6.1 per cent from July. The commercial component had been on a strong run since the beginning of the year, rising 25 per cent in the January to July period as improved business confidence likely pushed building intentions higher. While commercial planning did fall in August, the trend remains positive fueled by strong economic growth and still-healthy real estate fundamentals. The institutional component has been on a much more restrained trajectory this year, moving 11 per cent higher from January to July, reflecting the influence of public spending on this segment. In August, the institutional component moved up an additional 2.5 per cent.

Technology Can Build Brand Perception

Technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of the shopping experience and the success or failure of that technological experience has a strong impact as to whether the consumer will return to the store, says a report by software and service provider Boomtown. Nearly half of consumers say that positive experiences due to well-functioning technology lead them to greater brand confidence (46 per cent) and more frequent visits to the business (44 per cent). Conversely, negative experiences due to malfunctioning technology result in a decline in brand confidence and less frequent visits to the business for more than a quarter of consumers (28 per cent). The report shows consumers identify a strong preference for brands that make widespread use of advanced, reliable, and intuitive technology. In fact, consumers who frequent large chain establishments over smaller businesses name technology as one of the key aspects of their instore experience, highlighting a range of digital payment options (critical to 57 per cent of consumers), online ordering and local pick up capabilities (important to 50 per cent), self check-out options (important to 49 per cent), and other digital offerings like in-store Wi-Fi and real-time order information. Boomtown says these findings confirm that the digital transformation of the consumer experience is fully underway and that businesses ‒ from small, regional shops to national, consumer-facing chains ‒ must invest in their technology to court and keep consumers.

Kraus To Sell Flooring Distribution Businesses

The Kraus Group of Companies plans to sell its flooring distribution businesses and shut down its broadloom carpet manufacturing operations in Waterloo, ON, under court protection from creditors. Documents filed with the court as part of the process say the group’s assets are worth substantially less than what it owes to main creditors, a total of nearly $148.2 million. Under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act, a court oversees efforts to work out a business plan that’s satisfactory to the creditors of a company. The announcement comes just after the company issued temporary layoff notices to more than 200 unionized employees at Kraus Carpets and Strudex Fibres. The company is also seeking court approval for a sale of its flooring distribution business to Q.E.P. Co. Inc. It says the agreement to sell the distribution business will allow it to continue operating from its head office in Waterloo and continue sales through North America.

3M Makes Appointments

Lars Hanseid is president and general manager of 3M Canada. He brings 30 years of international experience at 3M to the role, most recently as vice-president of the central east Europe, Middle East, and Africa area. He succeeds former 3M Canada president and general manager Mojdeh Poul who is now executive vice-president of 3M’s safety and graphics business group.

September 12, 2018

Macnab Appointed CEO Of Home Hardware

Kevin Macnab has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective October 10. He has more than 30 years of retail industry experience, including key roles at Toys ‘R’ Us, Marks & Spencer, and D'Allaird's Stores. He is also a past chair of the Retail Council of Canada.

National Housing Starts Trend Moderates

The trend in housing starts was 214,598 units in August, compared to 219,656 units in July, 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 national trend in housing starts continued to decline in August from the historical peak that was recorded in March 2018. This moderation brings total starts closer to historical averages, largely reflecting recent declines in the trend of multi-unit starts from historically elevated levels earlier in the year. Housing starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) trended higher in August as more multi-family projects got underway across the region. In the Edmonton, AB, CMA, housing activity moved upward significantly, driven by an increase in new construction of multi-unit dwellings. Housing starts trended lower in Toronto, ON, mainly due to fewer condominium apartment and single-detached home starts.

Oversized Item Deliveries Not Up To Par

Consumers who have made an oversized eCommerce purchase in the past year say they have received damaged items and some never received their items at all, says a report by uShip. As many as 21 per cent of consumers have received damaged items, while 15 per cent never received their shipment, the report shows. Ultimately, the research signals the ‘last mile’ has never been more important to the customer experience and oversized shipping remains a particular pain-point for many consumers. For retailers, this detrimental last mile experience is causing negative repercussions for brands. In fact, one in seven of those consumers (14 per cent) have actually avoided shopping with a brand or retailer because of a bad delivery experience. Moreover, nearly one in four (24 per cent) said a lack of confidence their oversized item would arrive safely would prevent them from making a purchase. uShip says the most important aspect for consumers purchasing oversized items is the time and convenience of delivery – an area easily improved with the right technology and business relationships. Consumers say proactive updates about their shipments, hand delivery, in-home delivery, and delivery time slots would improve their experiences.


IKEA Canada has opened a 330,540-square-foot Vancouver customer distribution centre (DC) in Richmond, BC. This is the company’s first customer distribution facility in western Canada and it will further facilitate logistics while providing increased capacity for future growth. The DC will fulfill IKEA Canada's Richmond and Coquitlam, BC, and Calgary and Edmonton, AB, stores; its collection points in Nanaimo, Victoria and Kelowna, BC; home deliveries throughout the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta; and more than half of home deliveries in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Markets served by the centre will see significantly shorter delivery lead times. The new facility will also have a positive environmental impact by reducing transport times and emissions. This is the retailer’s third DC in Canada; it also has DCs in the Montreal, QC, and Toronto, ON, areas.

Formica Launches Competition For Student Designers

The ‘2019 FORM Student Innovation Competition’ invites, for the first time in Quebec, interior design and architecture students to put their creativity to work by designing furniture pieces for ‘resi-mercial’ spaces that showcase Formica brand products for the chance to win cash prizes, international recognition, and have their work showcased in a public exhibit. The competition is open for entries through December 10. The judges include Leanne Ford, interior designer and star of ‘Restored by the Fords’ on HGTV; Tristan Butterfield, chief creative officer at Baker Interiors Group; Jaime Velez, former director of interior design at SOM; Renee Hytry Derrington, global design lead at Formica Group; and Steven Matijcio, curator for the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.

Liteline Founder To Retire

Steve Silverstein, founder of Liteline, has announced his retirement. He founded Liteline in 1979 with his wife Helen. Today, the company has 130 employees and a 160,000-square-foot office and warehouse facility with business relationships throughout Canada and the U.S. Silverstein’s children, Daniel, Mark, and Sarah, will succeed him as principals of the organization.

September 11, 2018

Northlander Joins Sexton

Northlander Industries has joined the Sexton Group. Located in Exeter, ON, Northlander Industries is a producer of manufactured structures. A Canadian and family owned business, it has been in business for more than 50 years.

Another Record August For Montreal Residential Sales

A total of 3,224 residential sales were concluded in August in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA), says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This represents an eight per cent increase compared to August of 2017 and a sales record for a month of August. Furthermore, this was the 41st consecutive month in which residential sales increased in the Montreal area. Geographically, five of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales in August; the only exception was the North Shore, where sales were unchanged compared to August of last year. For the month, there were 20,940 active residential listings in the Centris system, a 16 per cent drop compared to one year earlier.

Retailers Maintaining eCommerce Initiatives

Retailers have more aggressive estimates for large gains in eCommerce revenue in 2018 compared to 2017, finds a study by SLI Systems. The study shows 91 per cent of retailers expected eCommerce revenue gains in the first half of 2018. In the U.S., 59 per cent predict modest growth of one to 10 per cent and 12 per cent estimate growth over 21 per cent. Globally, one-third of retailers say their companies already provide customers a personalized online experience and almost half (49 per cent) plan to add it in the next year. The report also finds that mobile remains integral to eCommerce success, with 91 per cent of retailers maintaining or increasing their 2017 commitment to investment in mobile. Eight per cent anticipate revenue from mobile sites and apps to increase 94 per cent in housewares/home furnishings.

Allura Launches New Colour Palette

Fibre cement manufacturer Allura has introduced a new colour palette for its family of prefinished exterior siding, shakes and shingles, panels, and soffit. The new colour palette is a collection of 25 paint and five stain colours designed to meet the demands of today's new home construction market. The company will continue to offer its discontinued colours until the end of January.

Truong To Succeed Gries As James Hardie CEO

Dr. Jack Truong will be chief executive officer of James Hardie Industries plc, effective at the end of the company’s 2019 fiscal year. Until then, he will become president and chief operating officer while current CEO Louis Gries transitions to retirement. Gries joined the company in 1991 and became CEO in 2005.

September 10, 2018

Toronto Residential Sales Up 8.5 Per Cent

There were 6,839 residential sales in August in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area, says the Toronto Real Estate Board. This was an 8.5 per cent increase compared to August last year. Month-over-month sales also continued in August. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, August sales were up by two per cent compared to July. "Market conditions in the summer of 2018, including this past August, were tighter than what was experienced in the summer of 2017,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis. “In August, the annual rate of sales growth outpaced the annual rate of new listings growth. We only have slightly more than 2 1/2 months of inventory in the TREB market area as a whole and less than two months of inventory in the city of Toronto. This means that despite the fact the sales remain off the record highs from 2016 and 2017, many GTA neighbourhoods continue to suffer from a lack of inventory. This could present a problem if demand continues to accelerate over the next year, which is expected.”

Walmart Canada Acquires More Tesla Trucks

Walmart Canada plans to power its fleet using 100 per cent alternative power by 2028. To meet that goal, the company will acquire an additional 30 Tesla 18-wheeler semi-trucks, building on its original order of 10 trucks in November 2017. With 40 Tesla semis in total, the company will reach an initial milestone to convert 20 per cent of Walmart's fleet to electric power by 2022. The move comes as Walmart Canada continues to put sustainability at the forefront of its business operations, finding new and innovative ways to reduce its carbon footprint while continuing to focus on the critical issue of driver safety. The first 20 Tesla semis will be used to support the fleet base in Mississauga, ON. The remaining 20 trucks will be allocated to the company's recently-announced Surrey, BC, sustainable fulfillment centre, which is set to open in 2022. This state-of-the-art facility will feature a fully electric Walmart fleet base, a first for Walmart internationally.

Low-Pressure Laminates Demand To Remain Steady

Demand for low-pressure laminates is forecast to reach 10.3 billion square feet in 2022 on annual gains of 2.4 per cent, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Thermoplastic films are expected to post the fastest gains of all low-pressure laminate types due in part to their performance advantages, such as ease of cleaning, durability, and enhanced design flexibility via the ability to wrap these laminates around irregular and curved surfaces. Although saturated papers are expected to grow at a more modest pace than thermoplastic films, saturated papers will account for the largest share of new low-pressure laminate demand through 2022, due in part to their ability to exhibit desired aesthetics, such as a high gloss and realistic wood grain appearance, all at a relatively moderate cost. Demand for all types of decorative laminates is forecast to rise 2.3 per cent per annum to 12 billion square feet in 2022, valued at $7.3 billion. Most decorative laminate markets are mature and sales growth will be restrained by intense competition from other products and surface materials such as acrylic veneers, luxury vinyl tiles, and natural and engineered stone.

Cobb Leads DaVinci

Michael Cobb is president and chief marketing officer at DaVinci Roofscapes. He joined the company in 2016 and previously served as vice-president of sales and marketing.

HD Supply Has Double Digit Increase

HD Supply Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1.6 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 18.3 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2017. Gross profit increased $83 million, or 15.4 per cent, to $622 million for the quarter, this compares to $539 million for the same period a year ago. Gross profit was 38.9 per cent of net sales, down approximately 100 basis points from 39.9 per cent for the second quarter of 2017. Net income decreased 70.4 per cent to $131 million versus $442 million last year. Net income included $361 million of income from discontinued operations, net of tax. Adjusted EBITDA was $246 million, up 18.3 per cent compared to $208 million.

Registration Open For 2019 KBIS

Registration is now open for the ‘2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show’ (KBIS), owned by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). The show will co-locate in Las Vegas with the National Association of Homebuilders’ (NAHB) ‘International Builders' Show’ (IBS) for the sixth annual Design & Construction Week. The NKBA and NAHB have extended the co-location agreement through 2026. The show takes place February 19 to 21. For more information, visit KBIS

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