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


February 8, 2019

Building Permits Up Last Year

The total value of building permits rose 4.7 per cent in 2018 to $99.7 billion, the fifth consecutive annual increase, says Statistics Canada. Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings were the main factors behind the increase. Four provinces reported gains, led by British Columbia and Quebec. The largest decline was in Ontario, where the value of permits was down 2.2 per cent to $38.2 billion. In the residential sector, the value of permits totalled $62.8 billion, up 5.2 per cent from 2017 and continuing the upward trend that started in 2010. The value of multi-family permits rose 22.7 per cent to $35 billion in 2018, while the value of single-family permits fell 10.7 per cent to $27.9 billion, the first decline 2013. Construction intentions in the non-residential sector rose 3.7 per cent in 2018 to $36.9 billion.

Ottawa Home Sales Surge

Home sales in Ottawa and the surrounding area in Ontario surged nearly 16 per cent in January as home buyers showed they were undeterred by record cold temperatures and snowfalls, says the Ottawa Real Estate Board. A total of 829 residential properties were sold through its multiple listing service system last month, up from 708 sales in the same month a year earlier. Condo sales climbed 20.8 per cent year-over-year, while sales of all other property types increased by 14.2 per cent.

IKEA Canada Launches Refugee Hiring Program

IKEA Canada is launching a coast-to-coast program to hire 250 refugees over the next three years. The program will help refugees join the workforce and develop new skills, supporting their integration into local communities across Canada. The program builds on a successful pilot program begun in June 2018. To support the program, IKEA Canada is announcing partnerships with 18 local agencies who will help the company reach and recruit refugees seeking employment, as well as provide support and advice to help them succeed as IKEA co-workers.

Wood Book Released

Havwoods International, a global engineered hardwood supplier, has released its first ‘Wood Book’ of 2019 for the North American market along with its first-ever ‘Deck Book.’ Both product directories provide a look at new product releases and case studies. The ‘Wood Book’ includes the latest trend report, new product innovations, and a guide to all wood finishes, patterns, grading, and finish techniques, styles, and color guide. It is updated four times a year. The ‘Deck Book’ now offers wood composite decking products sourced from strong, stable products from ethical European or North American companies. After research, Havwoods discovered demand for decking products made from solid construction. The ‘Deck Book’ includes information and photos of FSC-certified Trekker, a collection of composite decking and cladding boards suitable for both external and internal use.

Kyocera Acquires Pneumatic Tool Business

Kyocera Corporation subsidiary, Kyocera Senco Industrial Tools, Inc., a U.S. pneumatic and cordless power tool manufacturing and sales company, has acquired Van Aerden Group BV, a European pneumatic tool manufacturing and sales company. In addition to manufacturing pneumatic tools and related products, Van Aerden Group sells power tools under multiple brands, including Senco, as a distributor. As of March 1, Van Aerden Group BV will be renamed Kyocera Aerfast Europe BV. With the manufacturing and sales assets brought by this acquisition, Kyocera aims to strengthen its pneumatic tool business in Europe.

Two Change Roles At Coast

Kevin Staller has been promoted to junior district sales manager of the lower British Columbia mainland territory with Coast Distributors (Nanaimo) Ltd. He has been with the company since 2014. Chris McCluskie has moved into part-time outside sales as well as keeping his hand in the warehouse operations in the lower mainland.

James Hardie Profit Slides

James Hardie had net operating profit of $65.9 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of 10 per cent over operating profit in the third quarter of its 2018 year. EBIT was $90.6 million for the quarter, also down 10 per cent year-over-year. Net sales were $586.2 million, up 18 per cent. The North American fibre cement segment volume increased one per cent with EBIT margin of 22.3 per cent. The Europe building products segment had adjusted EBIT margin of 9.2 per cent for the quarter.

OSB Prices Affect Norbord Earnings

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $70 million for the fourth quarter of 2018 versus adjusted EBITDA of $204 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. The decline was due to lower North American OSB prices and shipments. Adjusted earnings for the quarter were $26 million versus $123 million in the year-ago period. The company had a loss of $28 million versus earnings of $130 million last year.

February 7, 2019

Building Permits Increase For Fourth Month

Canadian municipalities issued $8.8 billion worth of building permits in December, up six per cent from November and the fourth consecutive monthly increase, says Statistics Canada. The gain was largely due to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings, with both components hitting record highs. The value of residential building permits was up 4.2 per cent in December to $5.3 billion. Six provinces posted increases, led by British Columbia. In the multi-family dwelling component, the value of permits rose 11.1 per cent to a record high $3.3 billion, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase. The value of building permits for single-family dwellings was down 5.4 per cent to $2 billion. Four provinces posted declines, most notably Ontario, which reported its lowest value since March 2014. The value of building permits issued for non-residential structures rose 8.9 per cent in December to $3.5 billion. Increases were reported in seven provinces, most notably British Columbia.

Montreal Sales Increase

In total, 2,976 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal, QC, Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in January 2019, a 15 per cent increase compared to January of last year, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This was the 47th consecutive increase in sales. All six main areas of the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales. Across the Montreal CMA, single-family home and condominium transactions both increased by 17 per cent to reach 1,674 sales and 1,053 sales, respectively. Plex sales fell by three per cent, with 247 transactions. In January, there were 20,873 active residential listings in the Montreal CMA, a 16 per cent drop compared to one year earlier.

Canadians Slow To Use BOPIS

Canada lags behind several other countries when it comes to in-store pick up options like ‘buy online and pick up in store’ (BOPIS), says research by OrderDynamics, a distributed order management company. Compared to 37.6 per cent of global retailers offering BOPIS, 31 per cent of Canadian retailers offer the service. Yet, despite falling behind other countries analyzed in the global study, which includes the UK, Australia, France, Germany, and Austria, Canada has made significant progress in developing omnichannel retail capabilities. Based on data collected from 281 retail chains in Canada with a minimum of 10 store locations, 82.9 per cent offer some form of free shipping. Just over 34 per cent of all retailers offer basic, active inventory visibility, while 13.9 per cent of all retailers provide free return deliveries. The study also finds that 74.7 per cent of omnichannel retailers offer ‘buy online return in-store’ (BORIS). OrderDynamics says Canada is in the omnichannel development phase and has seen many improvements since 2017. Compared to previous research, Canada now has 70 per cent more retailers offering eCommerce and over 50 per cent more retailers offering free shipping.

Clorox Has Four Per Cent Sales Growth

The Clorox Company had sales growth of four per cent for the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year over the second quarter of the same period in its 2018 fiscal year. Margins for the quarter increased by 70 basis points to 43.7 per cent from 43 per cent in the year-ago period. Gross margin expansion was driven primarily by the benefits of price increases and cost savings. Earnings from continuing operations were $182 million compared to $233 million in the year-ago quarter.

Weyerhaeuser Has Loss

Weyerhaeuser Company had a net loss of $93 million for the fourth quarter of 2018 on sales of $1.6 billion. This compares with net earnings of $271 million on net sales of $1.8 billion for the same period in 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was $346 million compared to $551 million in the year-ago period. Sales for the timberlands segment were $664 million versus $653 million in the third quarter of 2018, while wood products sales were $1,075 million versus $1,346 million.

February 6, 2019

Small Business Remains Key Economic Driver

Small- and medium-sized enterprises will continue to be key growth drivers for Canada's economy in 2019 and beyond, says BMO Economics in its most recent Blue Book. It says business owners across the country are generally positive about their prospects despite the broader Canadian economy moderating back in line with longer-run growth rates. The Canadian economy has begun to moderate, with growth coming in at below two per cent in the second half of 2018. Amidst the slowing economy, businesses are investing in innovation to increase productivity, as well as expanding into new markets such as the U.S. to increase their growth. Canada's small- and medium-sized businesses employ more than 90 per cent of the private sector work force, and ensuring the continued growth and long-term success of these enterprises is key to reaching the country's full economic potential.

Personal Loans Used For Debt, Home Improvement

Debt balances are on the rise in the U.S., with total consumer debt up by $1 trillion in the past five years. While Americans are borrowing more overall, the popularity of one type of debt in particular has shot up: personal loans, says a study by LendingTree. Home improvement was the second most popular reason for wanting a loan, behind debt management. Other reasons include major purchases, medical bills, and moving. The average loan for home improvement or renovation purposes was $12,384.

Foundation Building Materials Expands GTA Footprint

Foundation Building Materials, Inc. (FBM), a North American specialty distributor of wallboard, suspended ceiling systems, and metal framing, has closed the acquisition of Builders’ Supplies Limited. Builders’ is an independent distributor of drywall, steel framing, ceiling tile and grid, and other related products. Builders’ operates three branches in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area. FBM says the transaction will expand its geographic footprint into the non-residential downtown Toronto market and enhance its service capabilities to the greater Ontario province.

Honeywell Sales Drop

Honeywell sales for its fourth quarter of 2018 were down 10 per cent year-over-year. Building technologies sector sales were up one per cent on an organic basis year-over-year, driven by demand for commercial fire products, strength in the former homes, and the ADI global distribution business (now Resideo) prior to its spin-off. Sales in building solutions were flat on an organic basis. Segment margin expanded 100 basis points to 18.6 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Safety and productivity segment sales for the fourth quarter were up 15 per cent on an organic basis driven by continued double-digit sales growth in the Intelligrated warehouse automation business, robust volumes across sensing and IoT, and demand for new mobility launches in productivity products. Segment margin expanded 30 basis points to 16 per cent.

Pricing Affects Resolute Income

Resolute Forest Products Inc. had net income of $36 million for the quarter of 2018. This compares to net income of $13 million for the fourth quarter of 2017. Sales were $3.8 billion, up seven per cent from the previous year. The company says it experienced significantly weaker pricing for lumber in the quarter, unforeseen operational disruptions, and planned maintenance as well as higher energy and wood costs. Operating income was $75 million versus $135 million. The wood products segment had an operating loss of $8 million, compared to an operating income of $45 million in the year-ago period.

February 5, 2019

2018 Home Sales Decline

Overall in 2018, there were 25,161 new homes sold in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA), says Altus Group. Of those, 21,330 were condominium apartments, including units in low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units. Condominiums sales were down 38 per cent from 2017 but only four per cent less than the 10-year average. Setting a record low since Altus started tracking new home data in 2000, there were only 3,831 single-family homes sold in 2018, including detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), down 50 per cent from 2017 and down 74 per cent from the 10-year average. Altus says the decrease in single-family home sales is due to more stringent mortgage stress testing, rising interest rates, and lack of single-family product affordable to a broader range of buyers.

November U.S. Home Sales Soar

Sales of new U.S. homes soared in November, defying higher mortgage rates, but they're still below year-ago levels, says the Commerce Department. New home sales jumped 16.9 per cent in November from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000. Despite the healthy gain, sales remained 7.7 per cent below the pace from a year ago. The housing market stumbled badly at the end of the year as mortgage rates reached a seven-year high near five per cent. Sales of existing homes plunged in December and were 3.1 per cent lower in 2018 than the previous year.

Accountants Pessimistic About Economy

Pessimism about the national economy over the next 12 months is growing among Canadian business leaders, says the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Pessimism soared to 35 per cent among the professional accountants in leadership positions in the fourth quarter of 2018. That is up from 28 per cent in the previous quarter and is significantly higher than a year earlier when pessimism stood at 16 per cent in the final quarter of 2017. At the same time, optimism among accountants sits at 26 per cent; its lowest level since 2016 and is down sharply from 48 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017. The number of respondents who are neutral about the economy's prospects is 39 per cent. A survey by CPA Canada shows the top three challenges to the Canadian economy are protectionist trade sentiment in the U.S. (18 per cent); uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy (15 per cent); and oil prices (12 per cent). Company optimism, how the professional accountants feel about the prospects for their own organizations, also dipped in the fourth quarter survey. While running much higher than how survey respondents view the country's economic outlook, company optimism is down to 49 per cent from 61 per cent a year ago. There are also fewer positive projections around revenues, profits, and employee numbers.

Strong Growth Forecast For Cabinet Hardware Market

The global cabinet hardware market was valued at US$7,520 million in 2019 and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent to $12,700 million in 2025, says a study by Market Study Report. The report says a key variable in the performance of cabinet hardware producers is raw material costs, specifically the speed at which any increase can be passed through to customers. In the U.S., roughly 63 per cent of the market share of this category is held by the top five retailers ‒ Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, Menards, and Amazon. In 2017, Home Depot had 24.3 per cent of market share in the U.S.

Building Products Drives Griffon Growth

Griffon Corporation had consolidated revenue of $510.5 million for the first quarter of its 2019 year, an increase of 17 per cent from the prior-year quarter. Home and building products (HBP) segment revenue increased 19 per cent year-over-year. Income from continuing operations was $8.8 million compared to $22.8 million in the year-ago period. Segment adjusted EBITDA was $56.6 million, an increase of 30 per cent from the prior-year quarter primarily driven by HBP revenue growth. The HBP segment benefited from the CornellCookson acquisition, while the lawn and garden category drove revenue at the AMES Companies, Inc. HBP segment EBITDA increased 31 per cent over the same period a year ago.

February 4, 2019

Lowe's Shuts Down Iris Platform

Lowe's Companies, Inc. is shutting down its Iris smart home platform and related services, effective March 31. The retailer announced the decision in its third-quarter earnings statement in November, but has now informed customers of the move. Lowe's said the Iris Smart Home business was a non-core activity within the U.S. home improvement business that it would exit as part of a strategic reassessment of the business. However, rather than returning the Iris devices to a Lowe's store, customers are advised to access an online redemption process that will allow those who have eligible, connected Iris devices to receive a Visa prepaid card to help migrate to another smart home platform. It says many of the Iris devices are compatible with other smart home platforms. Those that are not are eligible for redemption. Lowe's launched Iris in 2012 as a way to sell its own smart-home products to the public.

Businesses Slightly More Confident

Small businesses were slightly more confident, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Its 'Business Barometer' is at 56.1 for January and the organization notes that an index level between 65 and 70 is what’s expected if the economy is growing at its potential. “We’re seeing an uptick in confidence levels, but they are still well below what you would expect to see in a healthy, growing economy,” says Ted Mallett, vice-president and chief economist. “The continued slump in business confidence is reflected in lower wage and price expectations. Businesses’ unfilled orders and accounts receivable are also taking a hit, falling to 2016 conditions.” Across the country, 41 per cent of owners say their businesses are in “good shape,” while 14 per cent have a negative outlook. Eighteen per cent of businesses plan to hire full-time staff in the next three months and 15 per cent plan to cut back. Alberta’s small business owners are the least confident in the country, as optimism about the natural resource sector drops. The most confident are in Prince Edward Island and Quebec. CFIB also found that business confidence was higher in major metropolitan areas.

Retail Sales Growth Keeps Dwindling

Retail sales data from Statistics Canada shows that 2018 may end up as one of the worst years on record for Canadian retail sales, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Growth for the year is likely to end up at around 2.9 per cent, much less than the 7.1 per cent gain made in 2017. On top of that, the trend lines are still softening going into 2019. Rising gasoline prices may move up the statistics in early 2019, but this doesn't really do overall retail much good. The biggest gain in November retail sales was in the miscellaneous store retailer sector, up 10.1 per cent. However, this was pushed along by the recent addition of cannabis stores to this group, says Strapagiel. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 18.6 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending November 2018, but this is less than the 26.2 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.

Cloverdale Paint Acquires Allcolour

Surrey, BC-based Cloverdale Paint Inc. has acquired Allcolour Paint Limited, also based out of Surrey. Allcolour was founded in 1963 and produces light industrial and heavy-duty industrial coatings for the Canadian market from its 64,375-square-foot facility located in Oakville, ON. The acquisition provides Cloverdale with industrial technology, manufacturing, and formulating capacity. It will continue to operate as Allcolour in the short term, but will be integrated into Cloverdale in the future.

Canfor Temporarily Curtails More BC Production Capacity

Canfor Corporation will temporarily curtail operations at three British Columbia mills due to log supply constraints, log costs, and current market conditions. Canfor’s sawmill in Vavenby will be curtailed for six weeks and the sawmills in Houston and Mackenzie will be curtailed for one week each in the first quarter. In combination, these curtailments will reduce Canfor’s production output by approximately 40 million board feet. This is in addition to the approximately 150 million board feet of production capacity that was curtailed by Canfor in the fourth quarter of 2018 and early 2019, as previously announced. The company has 13 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.8 billion board feet.

Sherwin-Williams Sales Up 17 Per Cent

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $17.53 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 17 per cent compared to net sales in the fourth quarter of 2017. The increase was partly due to incremental Valspar sales and higher paint volumes in the Americas group. Net sales in the Americas group increased three per cent to $2.25 billion in the quarter due primarily to higher architectural paint sales volume across most end market segments and selling price increases. Net sales from stores in U.S. and Canada open for more than 12 calendar months increased 2.9 per cent in the quarter over last year's comparable period. Segment profit as a per cent to net sales decreased in the quarter to 18.3 per cent from 18.5 per cent last year. Net sales of the consumer brands group decreased 6.5 per cent to $534.4 million. Segment profit increased to $12 million in the quarter from $0.4 million last year,

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