Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


October 4, 2018

Canadian Tire Triangle Rewards Now Accepted At Husky

Canadian Tire is expanding its Triangle Rewards program so users can earn electronic Canadian Tire Money (CTM) on fuel purchases through a new partnership with Husky. Canadian Tire Mastercard cardholders can earn CTM on fuel purchases at participating Husky locations across Canada in addition to Canadian Tire Gas+ locations. They will earn five cents per litre in CTM on every litre of fuel purchased with the Triangle Mastercard at participating Husky locations. To accelerate earning, Triangle World Mastercard and Triangle World Elite Mastercard cardholders can earn seven cents per litre in CTM on every litre of premium grade fuel. Canadian Tire Gas+ locations will continue to offer these same rewards. The Triangle Rewards is a no-fee loyalty program that enables cardholders to earn CTM online and in-store at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, participating Mark's and Atmosphere locations, and on fuel purchases at any Canadian Tire Gas+ locations.

NRF Forecasts U.S. Holiday Sales Increase

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects U.S. holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline, and restaurants – to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 per cent over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion. The forecast compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 per cent over the past five years. Holiday sales in 2017 totaled $687.87 billion, a 5.3 per cent increase over the year before and the largest increase since the 5.2 per cent year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession. “Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.” The holiday forecast is consistent with NRF’s forecast that annual U.S. retail sales for 2018 will increase at least 4.5 per cent over 2017.

Whirlpool Launches Pro Online Resource

Whirlpool Corporation has launched a new website, Whirlpool Pro. The website was developed around trade audiences' needs and offers tailored content and resources for each major industry group. Builders, designers, architects, distributors, and other industry professionals will find information to help them build their business, including insights about Whirlpool Corporation innovations in design, connectivity, and sustainability. Major features of the site include resources and tools, background on homeowners and consumer trends, and news on the latest innovations. In addition to the website, the company recently kicked off an industry-focused marketing campaign about the power of collaborating with Whirlpool Corporation. The ‘Count on Us’ features advertisements in various industry publications and leads users to the new Whirlpool Pro site. Whirlpool Pro has replaced Inside Advantage, the company's former trade website.

Resolute To Sell Paper Mill

Resolute Forest Products Inc. plans to sell the assets of its Catawba, SC, paper and pulp mill to New-Indy Containerboard, LLC. Catawba's operation includes a kraft mill and a pulp dryer to produce market pulp, a thermomechanical pulp mill, and a lightweight coated paper machine. The transaction is expected to close at or around year-end. Resolute plans to use the proceeds from the sale to further reduce net debt and grow its core business in line with its transformation strategy.

Harvey Joins ADS

Darin Harvey is executive vice-president, supply chain, with Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS), effective October 15. Most recently, he served as vice-president of integrated supply chain at Forum Energy Technologies, Inc.

Sales Rise For RPM

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.46 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 8.5 per cent over net sales of $1.35 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. The industrial segment net sales increased 7.2 per cent; consumer net sales increased 13.6 per cent; and the specialty segment net sales increased 2.3 per cent. Income before income taxes (IBT) for the quarter was $91.9 million compared to $155.3 million for the year-ago period. Consolidated earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were $113.9 million compared to $177.6 million. The company says profitability continued to be adversely affected by rising raw material costs.

October 3, 2018

Castle Expands In West

Castle Building Centres Group continues to expand in the western region of Canada with the addition of its latest member location, Thermo Pro Insulation and Drywall in Lacombe, AB. The new member’s store was established 10 years ago as a building material supply and installation company, specializing in insulation and drywall for new construction and renovation. It provides surrounding area contractors in commercial, agricultural, and residential construction with drywall, spray foam, and spider insulation. It also supplies and installs steel stud and suspended ceiling products. The company also operates a full fleet of delivery and installation vehicles servicing all of central Alberta.

Amazon To Build Third BC DC

Amazon will build its third British Columbia fulfillment centre on Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) lands. The 450,000-square-foot facility will be Amazon's 10th fulfillment facility in Canada. Associates at this facility will pick, pack, and ship customer items such as books, toys, small electronics, and home goods. In addition to its fulfillment centres, Amazon also operates a tech hub in Vancouver, BC.

Nielsen Launches SmartStore In Canada

Nielsen has launched its SmartStore solution in Canada. SmartStore helps retailers measure, evaluate, and optimize a range of retail concepts on sales and profit, based on how target shoppers react at the moment of truth, in any store format. It helps measure the effectiveness of point-of-sale merchandise (POSM) based on what shoppers ‘see, think, and do.’ The product utilizes realistic and immersive simulation of a 3D, 360 total store environment. Testing in a virtual environment eliminates the unnecessary risk of trial-and-error execution. SmartStore builds a live environment, creating multiple scenarios helping in comprehensive analytics of shoppers experience (track shopper head, eye, and feet movements, 3D heat maps, etc). “With shoppers reducing the number of trips they make to the store, optimizing that shopping trip they make has become increasingly important,” says Mike Ljubicic, managing director, Nielsen Canada. “It is essential that manufacturers and retailers collaborate to understand in-store shopper behaviour and priorities in order to maximize investment.”

Earthy And Mixed Materials Trending In Flooring

Mixing and matching different floor styles, golden hues, and earthy, natural colour tones and materials are in fashion for flooring this fall, says Lumber Liquidators in its ‘Fall 2018 Style Report.’ The report says homeowners should get personal and embrace an aesthetic in their flooring choices that makes a unique statement. One way to present a differentiating look is to mix floors that are complementary in style, function, and design, yet vary enough in colour and texture to create a beautiful custom pattern that visually intrigues without overwhelming. Gold and brass have made a comeback in interior design through lighting, faucets, and furniture and are now present in flooring through golden hues and metallic stains. Bringing the outdoors in is a trend that can be achieved by using flooring with earthy colour tones and natural materials like wood and stone. Extra-wide planks are also still popular.

October 2, 2018

Lackluster Retail Sales Growth Continues

Another month of Statistics Canada numbers show another month of ho-hum Canadian retail sales growth, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. For the three months ending July, total Canadian retail sales were up 4.4 per cent on a non-adjusted basis. But this is nothing to be excited about, he says. Another concern is that rising gas prices are distorting the picture. If gasoline stations are taken out, then Canadian retail sales growth is even weaker, up only three per cent for the second quarter. eCommerce sales, which represent about 2.8 per cent of total Canadian retail sales, were up 15.7 per cent year-over-year for the second quarter, but this is much less than the 37 per cent gain recorded in the same period a year ago. eCommerce retail sales gains are still in double digits, and are still much higher than for location-based retail, but growth is slowing down. The bricks-and-mortar segment (estimated at 42.5 per cent of the online sales market) had an estimated $7.2 billion in eCommerce sales, making a grand total of $16.9 billion in online sales by Canadian operators year-over-year.

Castle Presents Largest Cheque To SickKids

Castle Building Centres Group presented a cheque for $30,850 to the SickKids Hospital Foundation. The funds were raised at Castle’s ‘Vendor Appreciation Golf Tournament,’ held in August in North Halton, ON. Ken Jenkins, president of Castle, presented the cheque to the foundation. “Today I had the incredible pleasure of presenting a cheque to the SickKids Hospital Foundation,” he said. “The donation of $30,850 was our largest donation to date and reflects your remarkable generosity to such a worthy cause. Our golf tournament was a tremendous success. Standing in the atrium of SickKids Hospital is a humbling experience. It provides perspective to what is truly important in life. You should take great pride in knowing your donations are making a difference in the lives of children who will benefit from your support.” More than 150 guests attended the tournament, representing Castle vendor partners from across Canada. The participants had the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, win prizes, and enjoy a day at the award-winning golf course.

Pending U.S. Home Sales Slide

Pending home sales in the U.S. fell slightly in August and have now decreased on an annual basis for eight straight months, says the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The ‘Pending Home Sales Index,’ a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 1.8 per cent to 104.2 in August from 106.1 in July. With last month’s decline, contract signings are now down 2.3 per cent year-over-year. Low inventory continues to contribute to the housing market slowdown. However, according to the third quarter ‘Housing Opportunities and Market Experience’ (HOME) survey, a record high number (77 per cent) of Americans believe now is a good time to sell; this compares to 55 per cent who said so in 2016. NAR says with prices having risen so quickly, many consumers were deciding to wait to list their homes hoping to see additional price and equity gains. As well, year-over-year increases in active listings from data at illustrate a potential rise in inventory.

FBM To Sell Mechanical Insulation Business

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM) plans to sell its mechanical insulation segment to an affiliate of Dunes Point Capital, LP. The mechanical insulation segment distributes and fabricates commercial and industrial products through 67 branch and fabrication locations in Canada and the U.S. that provide solutions for pipes and mechanical systems to insulation contractors, HVAC contractors, general contractors, and facility operators. FBM says the divestiture of the segment will allow it to sharpen its focus on growing its more profitable businesses, reduce debt, and optimize the company’s portfolio, thereby enhancing shareholder value. Upon closing of the transaction, the FBM will operate under one segment, specialty building products. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year.

Construction, Renovation To Drive Tool Chests Sales

Demand for chests and cabinets totaled $1.7 billion in 2017, accounting for the largest share of tool storage demand in a continuation of historical trends. Chests and cabinets are priced much higher than other tool storage products, which partially accounts for the high dollar sales. Through 2022, demand for chests and cabinets is expected to advance 1.6 per cent annually to $1.8 billion. Sales will be promoted by continued strength in construction activity, ongoing interest in DIY activities, continued growth in aftermarket automotive repair, and product innovations that improve ease-of-use and functionality. Nevertheless, faster growth will be restrained by the high level of market maturity for most of these products, as well as by their durability, which limits the frequency of replacement sales. Although new sales opportunities are scarce in any given year, there will be some upgrade and replacement demand among current owners.

October 1, 2018

Small Business Confidence Steady

Small business confidence held steady in September at 61.4 index points, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s ‘Business Barometer.’ “Optimism in Quebec and Prince Edward Island is still sky-high, but sentiment in the rest of the country remains more muted,” says Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “Small business owners are responding to the political and economic uncertainty they’re seeing nationally and internationally.” Forty-five per cent of owners reported that their business is in good shape this month, compared to 10 per cent who say they are in bad shape. Hiring plans are slightly lower than typical expectations for this time of year, with 18 per cent of owners expecting to add full-time staff compared to 14 per cent who plan to cut back in the next three or four months. Quebec overtook Prince Edward Island as the most confident province in the country, reporting a level of 74.5, a 2.7 point increase. Its optimism remained level at 74.1. Ontario experienced the greatest increase in optimism, gaining 3.6 points to 61.2. Nova Scotia experienced the greatest confidence drop this month, but maintained a level above the national average, while Manitoba’s confidence loss brought it just below the average.

Lacolle Centre Du Quincaillier Joins BMR

Lacolle Centre du Quincaillier has joined the BMR Group dealer network as a BMR Express dealer, a variation of the traditional banner with a smaller footprint and products geared to the local market. Owner Henri Dauphinais, who also owns several commercial businesses in Lacolle, QC, says he joined the group because of its ability to meet the needs of Quebec hardware consumers. The business has undergone a complete renovation of its storefront and the 5,000-square-foot hardware store and construction will start on a 10,000-square-foot warehouse this fall. The new building will allow for more products and building materials on-site.

Texada Software Partners With Home Hardware

Texada Software has partnered with Home Hardware Stores Limited to provide dealer-owners its SRM (systematic rental management) product. Each branch that plans on utilizing SRM will be able to manage rental inventory, streamline counter operations, and provide detailed reporting across the business.

Middle Managers Drive Employee Engagement

Focusing on managers as a distinct group of employees can drive higher engagement overall in businesses, says a report by the Conference Board of Canada. The report, ‘Employee Engagement: Driving Engagement From the Middle,’ shows that as middle manager engagement scores improve, so do the scores of their employees. In fact, employees who work for engaged managers are 59 per cent more likely to be engaged compared to those supervised by disengaged managers. Disengaged middle managers are three times more likely to have disengaged employees who, in turn, are four times as likely to consider leaving their jobs. Confidence in senior leadership is the most influential factor in determining engagement for both managers and workers. Trust in senior leadership and communication regarding organizational objectives are key drivers in improving the engagement of managers and workers. Addressing gaps in engagement between senior leaders and middle managers in areas such as ensuring co-operation, confidence that leaders can achieve goals, alignment in the vision for the organization, and taking pride in their contributions and success of their organizations can help boost middle managers engagement.

Home Depot Launches Express Delivery In U.S.

Home Depot has rolled out express same-day and next-day local delivery for more than 20,000 of its most popular items to 35 major metros across the U.S. The service is part of the company's overall five-year expansion of its delivery offerings for DIY and professional customers. Qualifying products for the express delivery option include everything from power tools to décor to garden supplies, with delivery options starting at $8.99. The company is partnering with car and van providers like Roadie and Deliv to offer the delivery options for smaller items, while continuing to expand its supply chain network for faster shipments of large bulk deliveries. The ongoing investment calls for additional direct fulfillment centres and more than 100 new distribution sites to further extend delivery speed and reach.

Alberta Launches Fall Instant Savings Program

Energy Efficiency Alberta has launched the fall 2018 version of its ‘Instant Savings Program.’ At participating retailers, consumers can get savings on a range of products such as LED recessed downlight fixtures, LED outdoor yard lights with motion sensors, heavy-duty timers, and energy-efficient showerheads. Instant savings range from $2 per light bulb to $12 for a high-efficiency showerhead. Participating retailers across Alberta include Home Hardware, RONA, and Lowe’s Canada. The program will run until October 28. A complete list of eligible products and participating retail locations can be found on Energy Efficiency Alberta's website

September 28, 2018

Demand Fully On Upswing

Buoyed by a strong summer market, demand for detached homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is finally on the upswing, as active listings fall, says a report from the RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Canada region. "We expect momentum to build moving into the traditional fall market and the trend to continue throughout the remainder of the year," says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director for the RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Canada region. "The worst is now behind us. Pent-up demand will be a factor in the coming months, as homebuyers – many of whom delayed their purchasing plans – are entering the market." Leading the charge are first-time buyers of single-detached homes in the $600,000 to $900,000 range. Since June, this segment has reported a 22 per cent increase in year-over-year sales (4,086 versus 3,347). Inventory at this price point is low, with just under 900 homes currently listed for sale in the 416 area. This could potentially prompt buyers to expand their search into the 905, where the number of homes listed for sale in this price range is more plentiful .

FCL Re-launches ‘Made By Us’ Campaign

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) will re-launch its ‘Made by Us’ campaign that highlights the organization’s private label products sold in western Canada. This year, six more premium products will be added to the campaign that features videos showcasing the Canadians working behind the scenes to create the products sold at Co-op Food Stores, Convenience Stores, and Home Centres. The videos will be released on television and digital services. Henry Silberman and his son Eitan make CO-OP IMAGINE Paint Applicators at their family business, Bennett Tools, in Concord, ON. Their video can be viewed here

Giant Tiger Opens Johnstown DC

Giant Tiger Stores Limited’s state-of-the-art distribution centre in Johnstown, ON, is now fully operational. The centre supports the company’s growth strategy, which commits to opening 15 stores per year across Canada. The distribution centre covers approximately 600,000 square feet and features the first Symbotic system in Canada, the latest in shipping and warehousing technology. Symbotic's innovative solution provides Giant Tiger with 210 autonomous robots that move freely up, down and across racks of inventory to deposit or retrieve cases at speeds up to 40 kilometres an hour. Large robotic arms, manufactured by Axium in Montreal, QC, work in tandem to unpack inbound pallets and build outbound pallets based on a complex algorithm that results in denser, taller pallets. Giant Tiger says one of its strengths is short replenishment lead times from order placement to store delivery. Symbotic's full-case pick accuracy of 99.99 per cent and significant increase in productivity are a game-changer for the supply chain. Giant Tiger processes orders for 100 stores a day on average and these can be received, picked, packed, and shipped by the company's dedicated trucking fleet, all within 24 hours.

Home Hardware Stores Celebrate National Tree Day

Home Hardware Stores Limited and Tree Canada celebrated National Tree Day by planting trees and shrubs at different locations across Canada. This year, 37 Home Hardware locations participated in tree planting initiatives across the country. Since 1992, Home Hardware dealers have planted 25,792 trees, valued at nearly $1.4 million, in green spaces across the country. The plant represents the eighth-year anniversary of National Tree Day, held annually on the Wednesday of National Forest Week to remind Canadians of the numerous health and environmental benefits provided by trees. The day is celebrated across the country with tree dedications, plantings, workshops, and outdoor education walks.

Renoworks Partners With Geomni

Renoworks Software Inc.has entered into a strategic partnership with industry leading geospatial data company Geomni,a Veriskbusiness, to advance the home design-to-project delivery process in construction and remodeling markets. Geomni's expertise in delivering detailed measurements and analytics that serve multiple markets including insurance, architecture, emergency response, urban planning, and more, combined with Renoworks' visualization services and manufacturer product libraries powering the home remodeling and construction industry, provide additional growth opportunities and innovation conduits for both companies. The agreement allows the two to act as mutual value-added resellers (VAR) of their respective product solutions with initial deployment focused on manufacturer and material supplier markets.

Formica Canada Launches Student Competition

Formica Canada’s ‘Design My Formica Booth Competition’ invites Ontario interior design and architecture students to put their creativity to work by designing a booth for the Architect@Work tradeshow featuring Formica products. Entrants have the chance to win cash prizes and have the design created and showcased at the 2019 show in Toronto, ON. Within the scope of the competition, students will design an innovative eight-by-eight-by-eight-foot booth concept, using three Formica laminate collections – DecoMetal, Formica Infiniti ColorCore2, and HardStop. The booth should attract attention as well as highlight these collections, which will soon feature several new designs and colours. Formica will launch six DecoMetal designs and four Infiniti ColorCore2 colours on November 5, 2019. The competition is open for entries from October 1 to December 31 and the winners will be unveiled February 7. The show takes place April 3 and 4 at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, ON. For more information about the show, visit Architect@Work; for information about the competition, visit Formica Canada.

PPG Appoints Two

Dan Fayock has been appointed assistant general counsel and corporate secretary at PPG. Previously, he was corporate counsel. He joined PPG in 2006. Joe Gette is assistant general counsel, M&A, and securities. He joined PPG in 2005 and worked most recently as corporate council.

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