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 25, 2018

New Housing Construction Declines

Investment in new housing construction decreased 2.2 per cent from August 2017 to $5.1 billion in August, the first year-over-year decline since May 2014, says Statistics Canada. The decrease in August was attributable to lower spending on single homes, semi-detached homes, and row houses. Investment declined in five provinces, with Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan reporting the largest declines. In all three provinces, lower investment in single homes was the main contributor to the decrease. Conversely, British Columbia reported the strongest growth, a result of increased spending on apartment building construction. Investment in single home construction was down by 18.6 per cent compared with August 2017. Spending on single home construction declined in eight provinces, mainly in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. Spending on row unit construction declined by 10.1 per cent. Spending was down in six provinces, primarily reflecting a $44.4 million drop in Ontario compared with the same month last year. Apartment building construction was up 27.4 per cent compared with the last year. Construction in this component was up in every province, led by Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.

Workers Feeling Worn Out

Feeling worn out at work is a common occurrence among employees, says a research from staffing firm Accountemps. In fact, 76 per cent of workers say they operate while tired at least somewhat often, with only one per cent saying they never work tired. “A good night's rest has a tangible effect on quality of work,” says David King, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Exhaustion often limits professionals' ability to be focused, productive, and positive members of their team. Managers should be alert to signs of employee fatigue and work with staff to identify potential contributing factors in the workplace. By offering realistic support ‒ like temporary professionals to assist when workloads rise, guidance in prioritizing tight deadlines, and encouraging employees to unplug after-hours ‒ managers can help mitigate any work-related stressors keeping staff up at night.” The firm says employers should set a good example by working reasonable hours and coming to work with adequate sleep. Employees, in turn, should ask for help before they burn out.

Government Updates Asbestos Regulations

The government of Canada has added a final step to its asbestos regulations to prohibit asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Canada. The government-wide strategy, which was announced in 2016, reflects feedback from nation-wide consultations. The regulations prohibit the import, sale, and use of asbestos as well as the manufacture, import, sale, and use of asbestos-containing products, with a limited number of exclusions. In addition, exports of asbestos and asbestos-containing products are now prohibited, with a limited number of exceptions, and the existing Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations and schedule 3 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 are amended to reflect that. The latest regulations and related amendments will come into force on December 30.

PayBright Launches eCommerce Financing Solution

Canadian fintech lender PayBright has launched its eCommerce financing solution for merchants operating on SAP Customer Experience. The product integrates with merchants’ eCommerce platforms and provides customers with an additional payment option at checkout. Merchants receive their funds directly from PayBright the next business day with no credit risk. Customers can pay for their purchases in monthly installments over time. PayBright's integration with SAP Customer Experience adds to its selection of eCommerce platforms which include IBM Websphere Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, osCommerce, and Solidus.

Canfor Operating Income Drops

Canfor Corporation had operating income of $201.8 million for the third quarter of 2018, down $80.3 million from reported operating income of $282.1 million for the second quarter of 2018, with the decline reflecting lower operating earnings in both the lumber and pulp and paper segments. Adjusted lumber segment earnings primarily reflected steep declines in western spruce/pine/fir and southern yellow pine benchmark lumber prices and, to a lesser extent, the disruptive impacts of severe forest fires in Western Canada and Hurricane Florence in the U.S. south, which contributed to significant cost pressures and temporary operational downtime as a result of limited log deliveries and evacuation alerts. Notwithstanding the downward pressure on pricing through the third quarter of 2018, lumber demand in the North American market remained relatively stable, with U.S. housing starts averaging 1.218 million units on a seasonally adjusted basis, down three per cent from the previous quarter and up four per cent from the third quarter of 2017. Offshore lumber consumption remained solid through the third quarter, with demand particularly strong in Japan.

October 24, 2018

Building Materials Lead Decline

Wholesale sales edged down 0.1 per cent to $63.6 billion in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in four of seven subsectors, representing 65 per cent of total wholesale sales. The building material and supplies and the motor vehicle and parts subsectors led the declines in August, while the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector posted the largest gain. In volume terms, wholesale sales edged down 0.1 per cent. The building material and supplies subsector declined for the second time in three months, down 2.3 per cent to $9.5 billion in August. Sales were down in two of three industries, with the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry (3.5 per cent) contributing the most to the decline. The decrease in August offset the gain in July for both the subsector (1.2 per cent) and the industry (0.3 per cent). Related indicators including housing starts (6.4 per cent) and exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (2.8 per cent) also declined in August. Wholesale sales were down in four provinces, accounting for 81 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, Ontario contributed the most to the decline. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.37 in July to 1.36 in August. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Home Hardware Ranks High On CX

Home Hardware Stores Limited, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and PetSmart are among the customer experience (CX) leaders for Canadian brands, says Forrester's 'Canada 2018 Customer Experience Index' (CX Index). Forrester surveyed more than 70,000 Canadian online consumers and ranked brands across 16 industries to identify how well their customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers. It says that brands with highly-rated CX improve revenue at twice the rate of brands with poor experiences. The index intends to give businesses a deep and actionable understanding of the quality of a brand's customer experiences and benchmarks the data so they can see how they stack up against their peers. It also shows how they can model improvements that will have the biggest impact on revenue.

U.S. Non-residential Building Continues To Recede

New construction starts in September fell five per cent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $709.6 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The September downturn followed nine per cent declines in both July and August, as the pace of construction starts has now pulled back for the third month in a row after reaching the current year’s high in June. By major sector, non-residential building weakened further in September, sliding six per cent. Non-building construction dropped 13 per cent in September. Residential building was the one major sector posting a gain in September, rising two per cent.

Small Merchants Getting Innovative With Payments

Smaller merchants are finding new, innovative ways to compete in the payment sphere with eCommerce and larger, more moneyed, and connected competitors, says a study from PYMNTS in collaboration with AEVI. Competition and increasing sales are driving payment innovation for merchants of all sizes, but smaller businesses cater to a smaller consumer base so they need to innovate to strengthen consumer loyalty. The survey finds that while retail merchants are mostly satisfied with their current payment service providers, more than half of all merchants would switch providers in order to get either a better deal, an all-in-one integrated solution, or an easy-to-use system. Like other industry segments, retail merchants are embracing digital transformation as they adapt to online competition, consumer use of smart devices, and the potential for cross-channel sales and marketing. The survey also finds that many are eager to embrace innovative business apps to improve back-office functions such as inventory management (49 per cent), payroll management (45 per cent), and staff management (35 per cent).

West Fraser Has Strong Sales

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1,646 million for the third quarter of 2018, a 29 per cent increase over sales of $1,247 million in the third quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was $446 million, up 73 per cent over adjusted EBITDA of $269 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were $238 million compared to $120 million. For the quarter, the lumber segment had operating earnings of $233 million and adjusted EBITDA of $339 million. The panels segment had operating earnings of $31 million and adjusted EBITDA of $34 million

October 23, 2018

Non-residential Building Construction Slows

Investment in non-residential building construction rose 0.9 per cent from the second quarter to $14.4 billion in the third quarter, says Statistics Canada. The commercial ($141.6 million) and industrial ($75.8 million) components increased, while the institutional component declined by $86.9 million. Quarterly investment was up in seven provinces, led by Quebec and British Columbia, and followed by Alberta. Non-residential building construction in Quebec was led by higher spending on industrial buildings, while in British Columbia, investment in commercial building construction was the primary contributor to the increase. Investment values in Alberta increased as a result of higher spending on industrial and commercial building construction. Ontario reported the largest quarterly decline, reflecting lower spending on institutional and industrial building construction. Spending in the institutional component declined in eight provinces from the second to the third quarter.

Lawson Opens Bolt Supply In BC

Lawson Products, Inc. has opened a Bolt Supply House branch in Surrey, BC, resulting in a presence in all four western Canada provinces. The 12,000-square-foot facility is stocked with key industrial MRO products including fasteners, power and hand tools, abrasives, and safety products for companies and individuals. A portion of the facility will also serve as warehouse space for Lawson Products.

U.S. Remodeling Activity To Soften

After several years of solid acceleration, annual growth in U.S. home improvement and repair spending is expected to soften in 2019, says the 'Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity' (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that year-over-year increases in residential remodeling expenditures will reach a decade high of 7.7 per cent this year and then start to drift downward to 6.6 per cent through the third quarter of 2019. “Rising mortgage interest rates and flat home sales activity around much of the country are expected to pinch otherwise very strong growth in homeowner remodeling spending moving forward,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the centre. “Low for-sale inventories are presenting a headwind because home sales tend to spur investments in remodeling and repair both before a sale and in the years following.” Despite this, many other remodeling market indicators including home prices, permit activity, and retail sales of building materials will continue to strengthen and will support above-average gains in spending next year. Through the third quarter of 2019, annual expenditures for residential improvements and repairs by homeowners is still expected to grow to over $350 billion nationally.

Simpson Strong-Tie Updates Canadian Web Page

Simpson Strong-Tie has updated the Canadian literature and links page on its website for a better Canadian customer experience. The redesigned page is a starting point for Simpson Strong-Tie products and services available in Canada. It includes search and filtering features to help visitors see relevant product information faster. This feature makes sure they only see the Canadian specific items for literature and software. And, if they need to see both Canada and U.S. items, they can use the links provided. The page has been streamlined for better organization which breaks things down into manageable pieces to find information faster. It is designed for use on computers and mobile or tablet devices.

AQMAT Works On ‘Buying Local’ Initiative

The Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) is developing a non-profit organization to increase awareness and encourage the purchase of hardware and building materials made in Quebec and other Canadian provinces and territories. The project, with support from major banners, manufacturers, and professional associations, is to reinforce the value chain between manufacturers, banners, and their networks of stores with consumers and contractors who want to know about local products. People will buy local to support their communities, says AQMAT. The organization says, often times, the cheapest product is what is sold. However, it believes that people must be informed about the benefits of a product, such as benefits of buying local, as they relate to the costs.

PPG Sales Increases

PPG had net sales of about $3.8 billion for the third quarter of 2018, up one per cent compared to net sales for the third quarter of 2017. Net income from continuing operations for the quarter was $368 million; adjusted net income from continuing operations was $353 million. Net sales for the performance coatings segment were approximately $2.3 billion, flat versus the prior year. In architectural coatings, the U.S. and Canada segment same-store sales in company-owned stores grew by a high-single-digit percentage. Aggregate volumes in the national do-it-yourself (DIY) retail accounts and independent dealer channels declined significantly versus the prior year, with income nine per cent lower year-over-year. Net sales in the industrial coating segment was up three per cent.

Housewares Show Adds Pre-show Events

Buyers, exhibitors, and other attendees will have several opportunities to network on and off the show floor during the ‘2019 International Home + Housewares Show.’ In addition to the more than 2,200 exhibitors and thousands of new products on display, the show will offer two pre-show events, several networking receptions for attendees, and a focus on building careers in the housewares industry. The event takes place March 2 to 5 at McCormick Place Complex in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit IHA Show

October 22, 2018

Retail Sales Remain Flat

Retail sales declined 0.1 per cent to $50.8 billion in August, following a 0.2 per cent increase in July, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in seven of 11 subsectors in August, representing 52 per cent of retail trade. Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales declined 0.4 per cent. In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.3 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers declined 1.1 per cent, the second consecutive monthly drop. Retail sales were down in four provinces in August. Quebec posted the largest decrease in dollar terms, followed by Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, retail sales continued their upward trend in Ontario, rising for the fourth consecutive month. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales totalled $1.4 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce rose 13.9 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 3.7 per cent.

Last Call For Tax Savings For Business Owners

Time is running out for Canadian business owners with over $50,000 of investment income in their corporations to avoid losing the small business deduction under new corporate tax rules taking effect in 2019, warns Jamie Golombek, managing director, tax and estate planning, CIBC Financial Planning and Advice. "If you're a business owner and haven't considered the tax implications of the new passive income rules, the time to act is now. Under the new tax rules, if your corporation has more than $50,000 of investment income in 2018, it may lose some, or all, of the small business deduction in 2019 – and the valuable, enhanced tax deferral that goes with it." The federal government introduced new tax rules that may reduce the amount of active business income that is taxed at the lower small business rate based on the amount of investment income earned in a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC). Starting in 2019, if a company has more than $50,000 of investment income in the previous year, a portion, or all, of the business income that would otherwise be taxed at the small business rate will be taxed at the higher, general corporate rate. The small business deduction limit will be reduced by $5 for every $1 of investment income above $50,000 and will reach zero once $150,000 of investment income is earned. CCPCs with more than $150,000 of investment income in 2018 may stand to lose the entire small business deduction in 2019, decreasing the amount of tax that may be deferred and funds that may be invested in the corporation by about $49,000 to $90,000 depending on the province. Over time, the reduced investment capital may result in significantly lower investment income in a corporation which could erode the business owner's personal wealth by thousands of dollars. For more information, visit 'CCPC tax planning for passive income'

IKEA Canada Launches Assembly Service

IKEA Canada has launched its TaskRabbit in-home assembly and mounting service in select markets. The on-demand service is now available in-store and online in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area, with plans to roll-out to the Vancouver, BC, market in mid-November and the Montreal, QC, area in spring of 2019. The service allows customers to have products assembled in-home and at their convenience ‒ as early as the next day after purchase. Assembly services are affordable and priced by flat rate per type of furniture, starting at $32. IKEA acquired TaskRabbit in September 2017 as part of its commitment to offer more accessible services to customers. The network connects people who need tasks done around the home ‒ such as furniture assembly, handyman work, moving help, snow removal, and much more ‒ with Taskers, independent service providers, who have listed their services on the network. Taskers are background checked, vetted, and receive ratings/reviews for tasks completed.

Funding Supports Professional Sales Designations

The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) have partnered to provide Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP) funding to address the sales talent shortage in Canada. Over the next three years, this investment will work towards improving the skill level of the Canadian sales force and attracting new people to the profession. The SIP will support the development and distribution of sector-specific labour market intelligence, national occupational standards, and skills certification and accreditation systems. The program's mandate is to help industries identify, forecast, and address their human resources and skills issues. The SIP contribution will enable CPSA, and its industry partners, to accelerate the mission to raise the profile of sales as a professional career and the adoption of professional designations for sales. CPSA's graduated designation framework includes three designations: Certified Sales Associate (CSA), Certified Sales Professional (CSP), and Certified Sales Leader (CSL). Training modules will soon be developed to help publicly-funded education programs fill strategic sales training gaps, all in both official languages.

Quebec Home Sales Rise Five Per Cent

A total of 8,798 residential sales were concluded in Quebec in the third quarter of 2018, a five per cent increase compared to the third quarter of last year, says the Québec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB). All three property categories registered an increase in sales in the third quarter of 2018. Single-family homes and plexes both registered a three per cent increase in sales, while condominiums stole the spotlight once again with a 12 per cent jump in sales. Geographically, sales increased in four of the province's six census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The Saguenay CMA had an 11 per cent increase in sales. The Gatineau, Sherbrooke, and Montréal CMAs followed with respective increases of eight, six, and five per cent. However, two CMAs did not follow this upward trend, those being Québec City and Trois-Rivières, where sales fell slightly by one per cent and three per cent, respectively.

Johns Manville Launches Tile Backer Board

Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company, has launched JM GoBoard LT in Canada. The tile backer board is extremely durable and is up to 85 per cent lighter than traditional cement boards. It also offers built-in waterproofing, simplifying the installation process. It is currently available in two thicknesses to meet the needs of a variety of projects. The ¼-inch is ideal for floors and countertop applications, while the ½-inch board is best-suited for walls, showers, and ceilings.

Salamah Joins IHA

Leana Salamah is vice-president, marketing with the International Housewares Association (IHA). She has 20 years of experience in marketing, including trade show, association, and event marketing. She replaces Derek Miller who became IHA president on October 1.

WD-40 Sales Up Six Per Cent

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $102.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of six per cent over total net sales of $96.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Sales in North America were up two per cent year-over-year. Net income for the quarter was $21.6 million, an increase of 51 per cent compared to the prior-year fiscal quarter. Gross margin was 55.2 per cent in the quarter compared to 56 per cent in the year-ago period. Net sales of maintenance products, which are considered the primary growth focus for the company, increased eight per cent in the fourth quarter when compared to the prior fiscal year period. Net sales of homecare and cleaning products decreased seven per cent.

Trends Discussed At Retail West

Retailers and vendors will share perspectives and learnings on the latest trends and developments and discuss what it takes to create outstanding customer experiences in modern retail at Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘Retail West.’ Speakers for the event include Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of RCC; Brendan Seale, head of sustainability, IKEA Canada; and Jim Caldwell, president and CEO, OK Tire Canada. It takes place November 6 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, BC. For information, visit Retail West

October 19, 2018

Manufacturing Sales Remain Flat

Manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to $58.6 billion in August, following three consecutive monthly increases, says Statistics Canada. The decline was mainly due to lower motor vehicle sales. Excluding this industry, manufacturing sales rose 0.4 per cent in August. Sales were down in seven of 21 industries, representing 50.9 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. After taking price changes into account, the volume of sales in the manufacturing sector edged down 0.3 per cent in August. Primary metal industry sales fell 2.9 per cent to $4.4 billion in August, a third consecutive monthly decline. Sales in the wood product were down 3.4 per cent) and food dropped by 0.6 per cent. These decreases in current dollars were partially offset by increases in the aerospace product and parts which rose 13.5 per cent. Sales were down in three provinces in August, with Ontario posting the largest dollar decrease. The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.41 in July to 1.43 in August. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Montreal Home Sales Up Five Per Cent

A total of 9,613 residential sales were concluded in the third quarter of 2018 in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA), a five per cent increase compared to the third quarter of last year, says the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board (GMREB). This was the 17th consecutive quarterly increase in sales. Condominiums were once again the most dynamic property category with a 13 per cent jump in sales compared to the third quarter of last year. Sales of plexes and single-family homes posted respective increases of five per cent and one per cent. Sales increased in five of the six main areas of the Montreal CMA, but especially on the South Shore, where they rose by 16 per cent. In contrast, sales decreased in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu by nine per cent.

Lowe's Canada Opens Windsor Store

Lowe’s Canada has opened its 68th store under the Lowe’s banner in Canada. Located in Windsor, ON, the store marks the second Lowe’s location in the greater Windsor area and the 41st in Ontario. The 117,600-square-foot store features 93,800 square feet of retail space and a 23,800-square-foot adjacent garden centre. It offers 40,000 products in-store as well as thousands more through special order via the Lowe's Canada website. Categories include appliances, seasonal, barbeques, snow blowers, fashion plumbing, building materials, and power and hand tools.

Lightspeed Unveils Retail Educational Tool

Point-of-sale system provider Lightspeed has launched its ‘Retail Success Index’ (RSI). The RSI is an industry-validated questionnaire for independent retailers to use to determine a score for their business that will reveal insights and windows for advancement. Lightspeed created the RSI to empower independents to delve deeper into the current state of their business through measuring their stance among competitors, identifying their strengths, and granting them knowledge on areas their company can improve. Whether a retailer has been in business for 10 years or is just opening shop, this five-minute questionnaire can provide invaluable information. It can also monitor growth ongoing for retailers who re-submit answers every few months. For more information, visit RSI

Bosses Have Impact On Employee Confidence

Most workers (79 per cent) are happy with their bosses, finds a survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam. As well, 42 per cent of workers feel their manager is a good leader, 27 per cent consider their boss a mentor, and 26 per cent consider their boss a friend. But not everyone shares these sentiments; 15 per cent of workers say their supervisor is a micromanager and 13 per cent say he or she is incompetent. “It's important that managers recognize the impact of their role as leaders in establishing positive work relationships, and supporting the satisfaction, performance, and engagement of their employees,” says Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Successful leaders are those who take an active interest in their staff's professional development and career growth, and encourage greater autonomy over projects, to inspire increased confidence, productivity, and overall commitment to the business.

Sellars Gets New Role

Cirissa Sellars is senior category strategy manager at Wolseley Canada Inc. Previously, she was sourcing manager.

Boise Cascade To Acquire Arling Lumber

Boise Cascade Company plans to acquire Arling Lumber, Inc., headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. Arling is a third generation, family-owned and operated wholesale distributor of lumber, plywood, OSB, and engineered wood products. Boise says the business will be a great addition to its nationwide distribution network and enhance its service capacity.

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