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 11, 2018

Non-residential Drives Increase

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits in August, up 0.4 per cent from July, says Statistics Canada. Strength in the non-residential sector drove the increase, while the residential sector declined for the third consecutive month. In the non-residential sector, $3.2 billion worth of permits were issued in August, up 8.8 per cent from the previous month. Both the institutional (25.8 per cent) and commercial (8.9 per cent) components contributed to the gain, which was largely the result of the issuance of permits for a new hospital in Ontario and new office buildings in British Columbia. Meanwhile, the value of industrial permits fell 5.9 per cent in August to $677 million. This followed a 13.4 per cent gain in July as multiple permits were issued that month for transportation terminals and manufacturing structures in Ontario and Alberta. Municipalities issued $5 billion worth of residential permits in August, down 4.4 per cent from July and marking the third consecutive monthly decline for the sector. Five of the six provinces that posted decreases had lower intentions for both single and multi-family construction. The value of permits for single-family dwellings was down 5.2 per cent to $2.2 billion, maintaining the general downward trend that began in January 2018. While eight provinces posted decreases in the month, Ontario and British Columbia contributed the most to the decline.

September Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower

The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 2.6 per cent in September to 159.5 from the revised August reading of 163.7. The index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. Both components of the index were lower with the commercial component down 4.3 per cent and the institutional component down 0.1 per cent. The index has now fallen for two consecutive months; however, due to a very strong reading in July it increased 0.8 per cent from the second quarter to the third quarter. The index may seem to have lost some impetus, but this can be attributed to outsized gains in the late spring and summer, says Dodge Data & Analytics. In fact, the index is now returning to a more sustainable level of activity given the overall age of the current construction cycle.

BMR Group Recognized For Digital Transformation

BMR Group was awarded the ‘Digital Shift’ prize at the annual eCommerce event held by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD). The jury selected BMR Group for its digital shift that eloquently reflects digital success and quality at every level, combined with an excellent use of technological tools, says the group. The new BMR website was launched this year, following a major visual and technological transformation. The shift will expand to all of BMR Group’s banners, with an emphasis on an omni-channel approach.

Lowe’s Canada Completes Tree Planting Initiative

Lowe’s Canada has planted 48,658 trees in Canada in partnership with Jour de la Terre Québec and Earth Day Canada. The initiative was a result of the commitment Lowe’s Canada’s made last April to plant a tree for every ECO product (excluding forest products) sold on April 22 as part of its ECO program launch in all corporate and participating affiliated RONA, Reno-Depot, and Lowe’s stores across the country. From mid-May to late June, Jour de la Terre Québec and Earth Day Canada planted over 48,000 trees at various sites in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec with funding from Lowe’s Canada. “By both encouraging customers to purchase ECO products and greening up public spaces, we’re helping create healthy and sustainable environments in the communities where we operate today and for generations to come," says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, vice-president, communications, public affairs, and compliance at Lowe’s Canada.

eCommerce Driving SMB Growth

Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) leveraging eCommerce are growing significantly faster than their offline counterparts, says research from digital payments provider PayPal. SMBs that sell online through PayPal grew 22 per cent year-over-year in 2017, in sharp contrast to offline SMBs, which saw less than one per cent growth year-over-year in 2016. The research shows that international trade opportunities previously pursued mainly by bigger retailers are now much more accessible to small businesses through eCommerce. Encouragingly, the data shows that SMBs in the country are now targeting foreign markets with nearly 30 per cent exporting goods and services to three countries or more. More than 63 per cent of digital SMBs export their goods and services compared to 2014, when only 12 per cent of Canadian SMBs engaged in international trade. Digital SMBs that exported their goods and services experienced three per cent more growth between 2016 and 2017 than non-exporting digital small businesses.

Vibrant Orange Top Colour For 2019-2020 

‘Tropic of conversation,’ a vibrant orange hue full of warmth, joy, and positive energy, has been named the ‘2019 Colour of the Year’ by Beauti-Tone, a division of Home Hardware Stores Limited. The colour is part of the ‘Simon Chang 2019/20 Trend Colour Collection,’ which is made up of 24 hues – some traditional, some contemporary, and some that are downright edgy, says Home. The colours in this collection feature many shades that are deeper, richer, and more intense than on previous Beauti-Tone trend colour cards. The colour collection colours can be used to paint an entire room, but colours like Tropic of Conversation are fun to play with, either as an accent wall, on furniture pieces and interior doors, or hidden spots like inside closets or drawers, says Bev Bell, creative director, Beauti-Tone Paint and Home Products Division, Home Hardware. Beauti-Tone’s ‘Simon Chang 2019/20 Trend Colour Collection’ colours and colour cards are available exclusively at Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, and Home Hardware Building Centre locations across Canada.

Safis To Lead Builder Sales

Kelly Safis has been appointed as general manager of builder sales with Whirlpool Corporation. She has been with the company for 30 years, most recently as director, sales training.

October 10, 2018

USMCA Gets Mixed Reactions

The National Retail Federation (NRF) says retailers are supportive of the USMCA agreement reached by officials in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. NRF CEO and president, Matthew Shay, says the organization is pleased that a deal has been reached that preserves NAFTA’s trilateral framework, which is critical to protecting North American supply chains. As part of the deal, the Canadian government will reduce import and sales taxes for foreign retailers by de minimus threshold, benefiting Canadian consumers. Canadian Tire Corporation said in a statement that it hopes the government will extend the same treatment to Canadian retailers. “Doing so will support Canadian retail workers while further reducing prices for Canadian consumers, a win-win solution that Canadian Tire fully supports.” The BC Lumber Trade Council says it applauds officials for reaching a renewed agreement that “preserves the dispute resolution mechanism previously contained in Chapter 19 of NAFTA.” It says Chapter 10 of the new agreement maintains, for Canada and the U.S only, a binational panel review mechanism for reviewing anti-dumping and countervailing duty determinations by either country. Having a robust and fair dispute resolution mechanism is absolutely critical to maintaining a rules-based trading system and providing an avenue for Canada and Canadian companies to appeal unwarranted duties. Conversely, La Coop fédérée says it is disappointed in the concessions in the USMCA for the agricultural sector. It says it would have been desirable for the USMCA to be concluded with “full protection for supply management, a system that continues to demonstrate its effectiveness and relevance.” The union representing Canada Post says the agreement is an attack on the public postal service and it will be unfair to rural Canadians. Under the USMCA, the duty-free bar gets raised to $40 from $20 on online shopping from the U.S., but items shipped by Canada Post won't qualify for the exemption.

BMR Invests In Travaux Solutions

BMR Group has entered into a commercial agreement with Travaux Solutions whereby BMR Group shall become a shareholder of Travaux Solutions, a family-owned Québec company that specializes in referring construction and renovation contractors. Due to a partnership since 2015, BMR Group has Travaux Solutions in about 30 BMR renovation centres. “This strategic alliance looks very promising for the future. From the very beginning, Travaux Solutions has shown sustained growth and will now allow us to extend our value chain with turnkey services that will drive renovation projects,” says Pascal Houle, CEO of BMR Group. He says incorporating the solutions into BMR stores will turn them into one-stop shops where customers can find their materials, receive expert advice from an expert team, and find a certified contractor to carry out their project.

Epidemic Low Engagement Among U.S. Retail Workers

Nearly 35 per cent of U.S. retail employees feel disengaged at work – and that number is as high as 77 per cent in the UK – likely due to seismic socio-economic changes exacerbated by shifts in technology that have completely transformed the retail business, says ‘The Retail Industry’s Employee Engagement Crisis – And How to Solve It,’ an eBook by StaffConnect, a provider of mobile employee engagement solutions. The eBook reviews the current state of employee engagement in the retail industry and looks at why the sector is experiencing such low levels of disengagement. It discusses the negative consequences of disengagement and shares actionable solutions to help retailers turn the situation around. With today’s mobile technologies, there’s no reason for remote retail workers to lack easy access to the information, communication, and resources they need to more effectively do their jobs, says the eBook. Mobile applications have the ability to reach the entire retail workforce (desk and non-desk employees), facilitate feedback, and generate engagement-related insights and reports. For more information, visit the StaffConnect infographic on the Home Improvement Retailing website.

Lowe’s Appoints Interim CFO

Tiffany L. Mason has been appointed interim chief financial officer for Lowe’s Companies, Inc. She will continue to serve in her current position as senior vice-president, corporate finance and treasurer. She is serving as CFO until David Denton joins the company. Denton was appointed CFO in August, but will join Lowe’s when he finishes his role at CVS Health Corporation.

Costco Sales Increase

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $43.4 billion for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, an increase of five per cent over net sales of $41.4 billion. Comparable sales in Canada increased 5.7 per cent for the quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago and comparable sales for the eCommerce segment increased 26.2 year-over-year. Net income was $1,043 million compared to $919 million.

October 9, 2018

Edmonton Gets New Model Lowe’s

Lowe’s Canada has opened its second store in the greater Edmonton, AB, area featuring the new model store which offers an enhanced shopping experience. The store was designed by taking the best of Lowe’s and RONA’s offerings. Guy Beaumier, executive vice-president, big box, for Lowe’s Canada, says the new model “provides a unique combination of products, services, and financing options to meet the needs of retail consumers and contractors alike.” The store underwent a 16-week physical transformation from a former RONA which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as training of staff focused on new product knowledge and customer service. It features a wider assortment of seasonal products such as Halloween decorations, items for the holiday season, and outdoor furniture including the latest fashion trends; a complete selection of appliances and the introduction of entirely new product categories including Lowe’s private labels and top brands such as John Deere, Husqvarna, and Cub Cadet; a broader selection of fashion plumbing products such as tubs, showers, toilets, vanities, sinks, and faucets with the introduction of high-profile brands such as Kohler and Grohe; and floor displays featuring the latest fashions in wood flooring and tiles with larger displays at eye level allowing customers to better visualize their projects and better experience the texture of flooring products. For pros and commercial customers, features include access to a drive-through lumber yard where contractors can load their vehicles directly to save time, as well as have access to a broader lumber assortment; introduction of corporately owned and operated delivery trucks to provide a more personalized level of service for deliveries to contractors; and enhanced assortment in key contractor categories including lumber, building materials, millwork, tools, and hardware. The store marks the company’s 67th store in Canada under the Lowe’s banner and sixth location in the greater Edmonton area.

Atlas Completes Coastal Acquisition

Atlas Engineered Products Ltd. has completed its acquisition of Coastal Windows Ltd. of Nanaimo, BC. Atlas says the Coastal acquisition is a very important element in its long-term strategy. Coastal has a small-footprint and high-quality window manufacturing operation that Atlas will replicate in all its operating regions across Canada. Eventually, Atlas will offer all its customers the option of filling the window openings in the prefabricated walls that Atlas supplies with Coastal’s high-quality windows. This will provide Atlas with a greater wallet share of the construction projects it is able to supply.

HighJump Integrates WCS With WMS

HighJump, a global provider of supply chain solutions, says its warehouse control system (WCS) is now integrated with its warehouse management system (WMS). The WCS provides supply chain professionals with a comprehensive solution suite to capitalize on connected and automated warehouses of tomorrow. It says supply chain professionals are rapidly automating operations to handle eCommerce, shorter delivery windows, and enhanced consumer expectations. With WCS, businesses can integrate and manage the latest automation technologies, such as autonomous mobile robots, while gaining real-time visibility to enhance complex workflows. The WCS works with any material handling equipment (MHE) provider. This creates a single point of data and communication amongst MHE, WCS, and WMS. Supply chain professionals have the insight and agility to adapt to high volumes, single line orders, seasonality, and beyond. 

Inbox Overload Mean Emails Ignored

Despite 47 per cent of consumers ranking eMail as their preferred channel for brand communications, over half (55 per cent) ignore marketing eMails due to inbox overload, says a study from Yes Lifecycle Marketing. Its ‘Surviving the Retail Apocalypse’report found that in addition to inbox overload, subscribers ignore marketing eMails because of irrelevant product recommendations (50 per cent) and content (41 per cent). The findings indicate that many retailers still fail to understand consumer preferences in terms of mailing frequency, timing, and content. Even though consumers will ignore eMails that fall short of their expectations, 42 per cent don't unsubscribe from these communications; instead, they scan the subject lines to determine whether they'll open them. As well, 33 per cent of subscribers ignore marketing eMails if they don't offer a discount or free shipping and 60 per cent will purchase from eMails that offer these incentives. Only 37 per cent of consumers say that the communications they receive from retailers are adequately personalized.

RPM Promotes From Within

Lonny DiRusso has been promoted to vice-president and chief information officer with RPM International Inc. Prior to this promotion, he held the position of vice-president – information technology at RPM for the past 13 years and, before that, the titles of director – information technology and management information systems manager. Matthew Franklin has been promoted to vice-president – information technology. He joined RPM 20 years ago and previously held the position of senior director – IT operations. Gordon Hyde has been promoted to vice-president – operations. He began his career at RPM more than 20 years ago as vice-president – operations for Zinsser, a former RPM operating company, and subsequently held similar positions at RPM and its wood finishes group before joining RPM specialty products group in 2015.

October 5, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Partners With Red Cross

Lowe’s Canada has launched a fundraising campaign to support the victims of the recent tornados in the Gatineau and Ottawa, ON, region. Until October 14, customers shopping at Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores in Gatineau and Ottawa are invited to donate toward the Ottawa-Gatineau Tornado Appeal to help their fellow citizens when making purchases. “At Lowe’s Canada, our purpose is to help people love where they live. It also means coming together to support a community when it most needs it,” says Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, senior vice-president, communications, public affairs and compliance with Lowe’s Canada. “We are proud to partner with the Red Cross once again for this pressing cause.”

Renoworks, CertainTeed Enhance Visualization Tool

Renoworks Software Inc. and CertainTeed have enhanced their ColorView Visualization Tool. The tool takes advantage of Renoworks' latest web visualizer updates, including visualization tools, user navigation, and the Palettes colour and design selector. Now, it also creates a realistic rendering of a home using high-resolution CertainTeed siding and roofing product images of the homeowners' choosing. Users can visualize CertainTeed's collection of exterior product on their own home and explore different design combinations with Renoworks' Palettes experience.

Sharp Increase Forecast For Frictionless Payments

Global retail spend at frictionless payment stores like Amazon Go will grow from an estimated $253 million in 2018 to over $45 billion by 2023, says a report from Juniper Research. Most of these transactions will be in convenience and general stores, with an average transaction value around $30 per visit throughout the forecast period. The report also forecasts that self-scanning apps will be used by over 32 million shoppers by 2023, driving higher engagement. While Wi-Fi will continue to remain the biggest engagement point for customers, Juniper expects smart checkout apps to act as gateways to technologies like Bluetooth beacons and augmented reality. The research finds customer service as a key area for in-store innovation, with retailers experimenting with automated handling of customer queries. Voice assistants and in-store robots will support this in 2023. Early leaders here include Lowe’s customer service robots. “Many of these technologies can bring multiple benefits to retailers,” says James Moar, the research author. “For example, Robots and RFID can be used in both customer service and inventory management, making both elements of in-store retail more efficient.”

Hillman Completes Big Time Acquisition

Hardware solutions company the Hillman Group, Inc. has completed its acquisition of Big Time Products, a provider of personal protection and work gear products. With the addition of Big Time, Hillman’s product portfolio now spans the hardware, automotive, garden, and cleaning categories and includes Big Time brands such as Firm Grip, AWP, McGuire-Nicholas, Grease Monkey, and Gorilla Grip, which are sold throughout retailers in North America.

Deere Makes Changes

James M. Field will be president, worldwide construction and forestry division, with Deere & Company. He will succeed Max A. Guinn, who will retire. John C. May will be president, worldwide agriculture and turf division ‒ global harvesting and turf platforms, ag solutions, Americas and Australia. Mark von Pentz will be president, worldwide agriculture and turf division, global tractor and hay and forage platforms, Europe, CIS, Asia, Africa. Raj Kalathur will be senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief information officer. All changes and appointments are effective November 15.

Manufacturers Market Drives Richelieu Growth

Richelieu had consolidated sales of $260.6 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 2.9 per cent over consolidated sales of $253.2 million for the third quarter of 2017. Sales to the manufacturers market were $221.9 million for the quarter, up 4.4 per cent compared to $212.5 million in the year-ago period. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores stood at $38.7 million, down 4.9 per cent over the third quarter of 2017. In Canada, sales were $178.7 million, an increase of 3.8 per cent over the third quarter of 2017. Sales to manufacturers increased 5.4 per cent. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores totalled to $35 million, down 2.5 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2017. Sales in the U.S. were down 0.9 per cent year-over-year. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores in the U.S were down 21.6 per cent from the corresponding quarter of 2017. EBITDA for the third quarter was $28.9 million, up 3.6 per cent year-over-year. EBITDA margin stood at 11.1 per cent, compared to 11 per cent last year. Net earnings grew by 1.2 per cent.

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