Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


January 28, 2019

Building Materials Leads Wholesale Sales Decline

Wholesale sales fell one per cent in November to $63 billion, more than offsetting the 0.7 per cent increase in October, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in five of seven subsectors, representing about 82 per cent of total wholesale sales. The building material and supplies and machinery, equipment, and supplies subsectors contributed the most to the decline, while the motor vehicle and parts subsector posted the largest gain. In volume terms, wholesale sales decreased 1.2 per cent. Sales in the building material and supplies subsector declined for the second consecutive month, down 1.9 per cent to $9.1 billion in November. Decreases were recorded in all three industries, with the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry contributing the most to the decline. Wholesale sales were down in five provinces, accounting for about 81 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada. Ontario and British Columbia contributed the most to the decline. Wholesale inventories increased for the third consecutive month, up 0.7 per cent to $88.9 billion.

U.S. Construction Starts Decline 10 Per Cent

New construction starts in December fell 10 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $708.9 billion, continuing to retreat after November’s slide, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The December downturn reflected diminished activity for each of the three main construction sectors. Residential building pulled back eight per cent, due to reduced activity for both single family and multi-family housing. Non-residential building dropped 14 per cent, as its commercial building segment lost momentum following its heightened November amount. Non-building construction decreased nine per cent. For 2018 as a whole, total construction starts increased a slight 0.3 per cent to $789 billion. This came after seven per cent gains in both 2016 and 2017, as well as 11 per cent to 14 per cent gains from 2012 through 2015. Residential building in December was $300.6 billion with multi-family housing retreating 15 per cent. Single family housing in December dropped five per cent, settling back from the extended plateau that was present for much of 2018. The 2018 amount for residential building was $323.5 billion, up five per cent.

J.D. Irving To Hire 10,000

J.D. Irving, Limited, parent company of Kent Building Supplies, plans to hire 7,500 full time and 2,500 students over the next three years. Eighty-nine per cent of the jobs are in Atlantic Canada, where Kent Building Supplies is located. Across the organization, the company says the areas with the highest number of job opportunities include operations; shipping, supply, and logistics; retail sales; and finance. The three-year forecast is a result of anticipated retirements, business growth, and normal workforce turnover.

Lowe's Official NFL Sponsor

Lowe's Companies, Inc. has signed an exclusive, multi-year sponsorship with the National Football League as it official home improvement retail sponsor. The sponsorship grants Lowe's the ability to market on a national and local level throughout the year, including at key events such as the Super Bowl, NFL Draft, NFL Combine, NFL Kickoff, and in support of the NFL's Salute to Service. Lowe’s will be able to provide NFL experiences for customers and associates both during the regular season and off-season and will become the presenting sponsor of Super Bowl Experience beginning at Super Bowl LIV in 2020 in Miami, FL.

Renoworks Launches 3D Visualization Platform

Renoworks Software Inc. has launched FastTrack, an all-in-one platform for the home construction and remodeling industry. Requiring only an address, FastTrack leverages Renoworks' home visualization software and Geomni's aerial imagery and measurement technology to provide true-to-life visualization, interactive 3D models, and measurements to users without the need to physically take photographs or measurements of a home. Initially, it will launch specifically for roofing manufacturers, with active plans to include additional industry categories (for example, siding, doors, windows) in the first half of 2019.

eBay Canada Launches Small Business Exporting Initiative

eBay Canada, together with Halifax, NS, has launched ‘Retail Revival,’ a program designed to help small- and medium-sized retailers in Nova Scotia harness the power of eCommerce and global trade. It consists of free 12-month training, support, and educational program that leverages eBay's global marketplace to reach customers around the world. The program will include a dedicated customer service support team, digital tools, and subscriptions, promotional marketing from eBay, as well as additional education and resources from participating partners focused on small business and exporting. eBay's platform connects retailers to 177 million active buyers in 190 markets across the world. In Canada, 99 per cent of small retailers on eBay export to an average of 18 markets, compared to 12 per cent of traditional small businesses that engage in global trade.

Grainger Sales Rise

Grainger had net sales of $2,763 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, a five per cent increase over net sales in the fourth quarter of 2017. Gross profit for the quarter was $1,066 million, an increase of four per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was 38.6 per cent of earnings, a decrease of 20 basis points compared to last year. Net earnings were $209 million, an increase of 38 per cent. The company says key accomplishments included U.S. segment volume growth of eight per cent, a profitable fourth quarter for the Canadian business, and double-digit revenue growth for the single channel businesses.

January 25, 2019

Manufacturing Sales Fall

Manufacturing sales fell 1.4 per cent to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease, says Statistics Canada. The decline mainly reflected lower sales of petroleum and coal products. Excluding this industry, manufacturing sales rose 0.2 per cent. Sales were down in 13 of 21 industries, representing 45.3 per cent of total manufacturing sales. Sales of non-durable goods fell 3.4 per cent to $27.2 billion, while sales of durable goods rose 0.5 per cent to $30.1 billion. In volume terms, manufacturing sales decreased 0.9 per cent. Sales fell in six provinces, with Alberta and Ontario posting the largest dollar declines. Inventory levels fell 0.6 per cent to $84.4 billion for the month, down in 12 of 21 industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.46 in October to 1.47 in November. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level. Unfilled orders rose 0.3 per cent to $96.6 billion, the second consecutive monthly increase. New orders fell 2.9 per cent to $57.6 billion, following a 2.4 per cent increase in October.

Castle Gets Ontario Member

Maple Country Home & Farm has joined Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. as its first new member location of 2019. Located in Inverary, ON, in Frontenac county, Maple Country Home has been serving the local area since 2016. Owners Kevin and Suzanne Bovey say they chose Castle because they want to maintain their independence and the well-respected brand of service and expertise they have created over the years. The store is in the midst of re-branding to Castle and will hold a grand opening celebration in May.

Lowe’s Canada Opens First Manitoba New Model Store

Lowe's Canada has opened its first new model store in Manitoba. Located in Winnipeg, the store was converted from the former RONA Home and Garden. It is the 67th Lowe’s store in Canada. The store underwent a 16-week physical transformation which involved construction, departmental sequencing of new racking and re-merchandising, branding, and IT conversion, as well as training focused on new product knowledge and customer service. The store will carry a wider assortment of seasonal products, appliances, and new product categories including private labels. It will also have a broader selection of fashion plumbing products and larger, eye level floor displays with the latest fashions in wood flooring and tiles. The Winnipeg location offers professional customers access to a drive-through lumberyard.

JDA Enhances Collaboration Capabilities

JDA Software Inc. has launched collaborative capabilities within its Luminate Store Optimizer SaaS solution that prioritize the most important tasks or objectives first, making it easier than before to respond to rapidly changing business challenges. This can help retailers gain a competitive advantage within bricks-and-mortar stores amid the rise of eCommerce. The dynamic tasking capability optimizes projects and tasks between retailers’ headquarters and stores, helping corporate employees collaborate and improve communication. It serves as a budget-aware planning and optimization tool that integrates with retailers’ existing systems, combining human and IoT sensor derived takes combined with advanced analytics and business process improvement.

Walmart Canada Launches 'Charter On Plastics'

Walmart Canada has launched a 'Charter on Plastics,' a commitment to reduce plastic waste across its operations. The announcement builds on the retailer's 2016 commitment to have 100 per cent recyclable private brand packaging by 2025. The charter intends to reduce check-out plastic bags by a further 50 per cent by 2025; eliminate single-use plastic straws and replace them with paper alternatives by 2020; achieve 100 per cent recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging for its own private brand products by 2025; eliminate 'hard-to-recycle' PVC and expanded polystyrene packaging from all its own private brand products by 2025; and provide customers with more environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic household products, including utensils, plates, and cups, among other initiatives. Globally, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are focused on supporting philanthropic initiatives which reduce plastic waste such as materials innovation, enhancing collection and sortation infrastructure, and strengthening recycling habits.

Boise Cascade Makes Changes

Nate Jorgensen is chief operating officer, responsible for overseeing the wood products and building materials distribution divisions at Boise Cascade Company. He has 32 years of experience in the industry, including past positions in engineering, product development, and distribution operations. Mike Brown is executive vice-president and will lead the wood products division. Brown joined the company in 1999, serving in several leadership roles including guiding the Brazilian operations and the southeastern U.S. region. Erin Nuxoll has been promoted to senior vice-president of human resources. She rejoined the company in 2016 after serving as senior vice-resident of human resources for a global, privately-held company. Jill Twedt, vice-president of legal, has been promoted to general counsel and also currently serves as corporate secretary. Twedt joined the company as senior counsel in 2007 after several years at a mid-sized law firm.

Sales Up At Richelieu

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. had sales of $258.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 3.3 per cent over sales or $250.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. EBITDA for the quarter was $106 million, up 2.9 per cent over the year-ago period. Sales in the manufacturers market increased 4.9 per cent year-over-year while sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores increased six per cent. In Canada, sales were $174.6 million for the quarter, an increase of $100,000 over the fourth quarter of 2017. Sales to manufacturers increased 2.3 per cent and sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores increased 9.5 per cent. EBITDA was $29.2 million compared to $30.1 million. Net earnings were down 7.3 per cent year-over-year.

January 24, 2019

Retail Sales Slip

Retail sales decreased 0.9 per cent to $50.4 billion in November on lower sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales increased 0.2 per cent, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in six of 11 subsectors, representing 75 per cent of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms declined 0.4 per cent. Sales at general merchandise stores increased for the third time in four months, rising 1.7 per cent in November. Following six consecutive monthly gains, sales in Ontario declined 1.6 per cent, largely due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales in Quebec declined (1.5 per cent) for the third time in four months while sales declined in all four Atlantic provinces. Alberta posted a 1.9 per cent gain following three consecutive declines. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales reached $2.3 billion in November, accounting for 4.2 per cent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail eCommerce increased 20.1 per cent, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 1.1 per cent.

Policy Changes Continue To Impact Housing Markets

Federal policy changes designed to cool housing prices and demand continue to impact housing markets across Canada with cascading consequences and pressures, says the 'Annual State of the Mortgage Market in Canada' report by Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC). The slowdown in the various housing markets across the country are more pronounced than anticipated. "We are seeing downward trends and/or depressions in areas like the resale market, the outlook on employment in the housing construction sector, and a continued decline in rental vacancy rates," says Paul Taylor, president and CEO of MPC. "Federal policy changes are disqualifying potential first-time home buyers and creating immense pressures on the rental market which is in turn driving rental prices higher. It is a spiralling problem." The report outlines that improper policy levers can continue to depress the market. It illustrates that a more reasonable stress test level and lending restriction reforms are now needed to strike a better balance for borrowers and policymakers, improving housing affordability and Canada's economy.

IKEA Canada Launches Sell-back Program

IKEA Canada has launched a national 'Sell-Back Program' that enables customers to apply to sell their gently-used IKEA products back to the retailer in exchange for store credit. IKEA will resell or donate the returned products as part of its strategy to become a fully circular business by 2030. This means transforming the current linear business model and designing products with re-use, repair, repurposing, and recycling in mind from the beginning, using only renewable, recycled, and recyclable materials, eliminating waste, and introducing services like Sell-Back. The initiative is part of the IKEA Family loyalty program.

BORIS Driving Consumer Behaviour

Buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) has skewed consumer behaviour and pre-Christmas returns are growing, says Appriss Retail in its annual holiday returns statistics report. December 26 maintained its position as the peak return day of the year for holiday returns in 2018 in the U.S. This is when return registers should be properly staffed and associates should be ready to deliver the best customer experience. The peak day for all retail transactions ‒ returns and sales combined ‒ was Saturday, December 22. Appriss Retail’s multi-year analysis indicates that while convenient returns please consumers, poorly managed return processes and outdated policies can contribute significantly to shrink by permitting fraudulent and abusive returns. This can be especially true for BORIS returns. As companies look to improve their performance and profitability, eliminating friction at the return counter can help attract and retain best customers and increase their long-term value, while still reducing the risk of margin-eroding loss.

Retail Leaders Must Transform Growth Model

The retail industry experiences disruption and transformation every few years, but it's happening at a more rapid speed than ever before. Leaders in the industry must be willing to not only accept and react to change, but also transform their growth model, says Rodney McMullen, CEO of U.S. supermarket chain Kroger. Speaking at the National Retail Federation's '2019 Big Show,' he said going forward, consumers will choose the shopping modality ‒ whether physical or digital ‒ that will deliver anything, anytime, and anywhere. Retailers will, in turn, create solutions based on customers' terms. Retail will also become purpose-driven, solving problems not only for customers, but for communities and the planet, he said. "Stakeholders are increasingly deciding which businesses to support based on shared values and clarity of purpose."

Chambers CEO At Owens Corning

Brian D. Chambers is chief executive officer of Owens Corning, effective April 18. Currently, he is president and chief operating officer and has 15 years of management experience with the company.

January 23, 2019

Building Construction Investment Slides

Total investment in building construction decreased two per cent from October to $13.7 billion in November, says Statistics Canada. Both the residential (down 2.2 per cent to $9.4 billion) and non-residential (down 1.6 per cent to $4.3 billion) sectors declined. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction decreased 2.1 per cent to $11.6 billion. The decrease in total residential investment was largely due to declines in Alberta ($152 million), Ontario ($72 million), and Quebec ($56 million), which were partially offset by increased investment in British Columbia ($81 million). In the residential sector, investment in single dwelling construction was down two per cent to $4.9 billion, while investment in multiple dwelling construction (which includes doubles, row homes, and apartments) declined 2.5 per cent to $4.5 billion. Investment in new construction for single dwellings fell 18.5 per cent from November 2017 to $1.9 billion. This decline was partially offset by an 11.1 per cent year-over-year increase in new construction for multiple dwellings to $3 billion. In comparison, investment in renovations for single dwellings declined 2.5 per cent to $3.3 billion year-over-year, while investment in renovations for multiple dwellings fell 21.5 per cent to $1.6 billion.

Strong Gain In 2017 Houseware Sales

Global housewares market data show an overall retail sales increase of 2.5 per cent in 2017 over 2016, with housewares expenditures increasing six per cent year-over-year, says the International Housewares Association’s (IHA) ‘2018 State of the Industry Report.’ It shows that most IHA member companies (93 per cent) sell their products globally. Among those who do, 24.7 per cent of their housewares sales are from exports. The U.S. mass merchants/supercentres channel was the sales leader in all housewares product categories in 2017. Department stores and specialty retailers, the second and third highest largest channels respectively, both posted sales increases. In addition, housewares manufacturers reported higher sales in 2017 versus 2016 to bricks-and-mortar retailers who also have eCommerce divisions. Most of the total housewares sales gains went to smaller retail channels, including specialty stores (19 per cent), warehouse clubs (12 per cent), variety/one-price stores (18.3 per cent), home furnishings stores (30.5 per cent), gourmet/gift/novelty (24.7 per cent), and catalogues and TV (25.4 per cent). The top three categories for 2017 were cook and bakeware (16.1 per cent), kitchen tools and accessories (14.2 per cent), and tabletop (10.7 per cent).

FCL To Fund Capital Projects

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) is accepting applications for capital projects for western Canadian communities in recreation, environmental conservation, and urban agriculture categories. The Co-op has dedicated $2 million in funding and has previously funded projects such as Victoria, BC's library garden, a multi-use train network near Manitoba's national park, and an abandoned railroad in Hafford, SK, that's being turned into a park. Entering its fifth year, the Co-op Community Spaces Program provides capital funding between $25,000 and $150,000 per project for registered non-profit organizations, registered charities, or community service co-operatives. The program was launched in 2015 to help protect, beautify, and improve community spaces. Since then, it has provided $6.5 million to 88 projects.

Osram To Divest Sylvania Lighting Solutions

A subsidiary of WESCO International, Inc. will acquire the business operations of Osram’s North American service unit, Sylvania Lighting Solutions. With the sale of Sylvania ‒ which focuses on energy efficient lighting products ‒ Osram will increasingly focus on intelligent technologies in the field of visible and invisible light for the market fields of visualization, sensor technology, and treatment.

IIoT Gives Boost To RFID Adoption

The growth of industrial internet of things (IIoT) and the cloud have given a huge boost to the adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in Manufacturing 4.0., says research by Frost & Sullivan. The interconnectedness of devices has resulted in massive volumes of RFID data that needs to be managed and analyzed, prompting RFID manufacturers to develop high-memory tags that can hold more information and software platforms with a business intelligence layer, as well as cloud-based solutions. "Due to the rising need for resource and cost efficiency, manufacturers are demanding complete visibility and adopting RFID solutions that aid the real-time location tracking and monitoring of their assets, business processes, and personnel," says Nandini Bhattacharya, industry manager for measurement and instrumentation at Frost & Sullivan. "Passive RFID has experienced high-volume deployments in the past and will continue to grow, especially in the ultra-high frequency segment, while active RFID, although a smaller market, has potential in real-time location system (RTLS) applications."

Stanley B&D Sales Up Five Per Cent

Stanley Black & Decker had net sales of $3.6 billion for the fourth quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, an increase of five per cent versus the prior-year period. Organic growth increased six per cent year-over-year. Gross margin rate for the quarter was 33.3 per cent; excluding charges, the rate was down 280 basis points from prior year driven by volume leverage, productivity, and price. Revenue growth was up eight per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. For the quarter, the tools and storage segment's net sales increased four per cent year-over-year with a profit rate of 15.4 per cent. The industrial segment's net sales increased 14 per cent with a profit rate of 13.2 per cent. The security segment's net sales declined one per cent and its profit rate was 12 per cent. The company says robust growth catalysts include the Craftsman brand rollout, Lenox and Irwin brand revenue synergies, FlexVolt, eCommerce, emerging markets, and new innovations.

January 22, 2019

Focus Must Remain On Consumer

As retail collides with adjacent consumer-focused sectors, the industry continues to undergo constant disruption. However, amid the disruption, one thing remains consistent ‒ consumers are becoming more powerful with expectations of having it all, says Deloitte in its '2019 Retail Industry Outlook.' The report suggests that the next 12 to 18 months will likely see an industry in transition. Those who can synchronize their investments to profitably empower the consumer will likely have the competitive edge. This year, the economy may face some headwinds, making the year one of transition for retailers so they will need to make bold moves for success in the future. Deloitte says retailers will need to differentiate themselves in their investment strategy and, with uncertain times ahead, look for opportunities to integrate investments and find opportunities outside of their usual business strategies.

Dollarama Online Site Now Available Canada-wide

Dollarama Inc. has launched its online store, offering a selection of consumable and general merchandise products by the full case. The digital store is now available across Canada after a successful five-week pilot program in the province of Quebec. It was launched to provide additional convenience to both individual and business customers who want to buy products in large quantities that may not be available in-store. Approximately 1,000 products are available for purchase through the online store by the full case only. Product categories include cleaning, clothing, electronics, food, hardware, health and beauty, home, kitchen, office, party, pets, and toys. Online product pricing is the same as in-store and shipping fees apply.

Lawn Mower Owners, Sellers May Claim Class Action Money

Consumers and sellers who purchased lawn mowers between 1994 and 2012 may be able to make claims from a class action lawsuit. Class actions, being handled by law firm Harrison Pensa LLP, have been initiated in Ontario and Quebec for more than $7 million. The actions concern certain major brand-name gas-powered lawn mowers labeled at 30 horsepower or less that were purchased between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 2012. It is alleged that the defendants agreed to manipulate horsepower labeling on certain lawn mowers during this time. The defendants deny the allegations and they have not been proven in court. Retailers and distributors of affected lawnmowers can also claim a share of the settlement recoveries. Twenty per cent of the net settlement amount has been allocated to an upstream purchase fund.

Metal To Dominate Landscape Trends

Metals are one of several trends in landscaping for 2019, says the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). Metals, including steel and iron, will be used to create accents and focal points with decorative art, water features, furniture and accessories, and other creative uses. Pops of pink will also be popular this year to add a more feminine touch to landscapes. Colours like living coral, pinks, and blush tones will be the ‘new neutral’ in blooms and other options for hardscapes and stone selections. Automated lawn and landscape maintenance continues gaining momentum with the latest technology and equipment allowing gardening tasks to be more streamlined and environmentally efficient than ever before. Popular items include robotic lawn mowers and programmable irrigation systems. Other trends include functional, dual-purpose elements and composite materials that are more sophisticated than ever being used for structures such as pergolas.

Elston Joins Roseburg

Jake Elston will be senior vice-president of operations at Roseburg Forest Products, effective February 18. He has 23 years of experience in manufacturing and operations. Previously, he was manufacturing director for Weyerhaeuser Co.'s North American composites business and vice-president of operations at Arauco North America.

Canada Blooms 2019 To Celebrate Family

Looking to capture the warmth and curiosity tied to family gardens, Canada Blooms has selected ‘A Family Affair’ as its theme for 2019. The theme intends to excite the imagination to celebrate the creativity and passion of diverse families. The event, in its 23rd year, was founded by Landscape Ontario and the Garden Club of Toronto. This year it will feature ‘Floral Alley,’ the ‘Green Streets Play Zone,’ and custom gardens. It takes place March 8 to 17 at the Exhibition Place in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit Canada Blooms 2019

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