Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


February 15, 2019

Canadian Tire Sales Inch Up

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited’s consolidated retail sales increased 0.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018 over the same period in 2017. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were up one per cent year-over-year. Consolidated revenue increased 5.5 per cent in the quarter; excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue increased 6.5 per cent. Retail segment revenue increased 5.3 per cent, or 6.4 per cent excluding petroleum. Canadian Tire Retail had an increase of 0.6 per cent in sales. Consolidated normalized EBITDA increased by 5.4 per cent in the quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

Big Drop In U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018, says the U.S. Commerce Department. The economy's outlook was further dimmed by other data showing an unexpected increase in the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits. There was also little sign of inflation in the economy, with producer prices dropping in January for a second straight month. The Commerce Department says retail sales tumbled 1.2 per cent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from recession. Data for November was revised slightly down to show retail sales edging up 0.1 per cent instead of gaining 0.2 per cent as previously reported. The plunge in retail sales came amid a sharp stock market sell-off and drop in consumer confidence in December. The longest government shutdown could also have undercut sales. Online and mail-order retail sales in December dropped 3.9 per cent, the biggest drop since November 2008.

Home Depot Increases Environmental Initiatives

The Home Depot has received an ‘A’ List rating from environmental impact non-profit CDP for its climate change actions to cut carbon emissions and mitigate climate risks. This year, the company has added its goal for a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and a 50 per cent reduction by 2035. As well, as part of its overall renewable energy strategy, The Home Depot is working to procure 135 megawatts of energy from various alternative sources by the end of 2020. To make additional progress toward its goal, the retailer is expanding its investments in wind and solar for 2019, which includes adding an offsite wind project and procurement of energy from solar farms.

SFA Group Acquires Zehnder Pumpen

Saniflo Canada parent company, SFA Group, has acquired Zehnder Pumpen GmbH, a German manufacturer of pump technology for industry, home, and garden. SFA Group says the acquisition strengthens its position in the worldwide growth market of sanitary technology, complements its current products, and provides several areas of opportunity. Zehnder Pumpen will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of SFA Group but will remain a separate legal entity with its own brand.

Fortune Brands Restructures GPG Business

Fortune Brands Global Plumbing Group (GPG) will create an Americas Region, effective March 1. Cheri Phyfer, current president of Moen U.S., will take on an expanded role as president of the GPG Americas. Her responsibility will include Moen U.S. and the Moen and House of Rohl businesses in Canada and Latin America. Peter Fealy, current vice-president and general manager of Moen Canada, is promoted to vice-president and general manager of GPG Canada, overseeing both Moen and House of Rohl businesses in Canada. Fealy joined Moen 19 years ago.

West Fraser Sales Slide

West Fraser had sales of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, a decrease over sales of $1.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $120 million compared to $341 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were $29 million versus $207 million and adjusted earnings were $43 million versus $201 million. The company says challenges included soft lumber markets, difficult weather conditions in the southern U.S, and production curtailments in British Columbia.

LP Building Products Now LP Building Solutions

To more accurately communicate its commitment to the needs and opportunities within a changing industry, LP Building Products has changed its name to LP Building Solutions. “We began as a forestry products company, but evolved to a building products company as we quickly realized our customers were looking for products to help them build better,” says Brad Southern, CEO of LP Building Solutions. “We are taking the next step as we reposition our company, our brand, and what we bring to market to reflect a broader approach in developing solutions for our customers.”

February 14, 2019

Resolver Comes To Canada

Resolver, the complaints platform founded in the UK, has launched in Canada under Tom Smith, country manager for Canada, said at the official launch that Canada was chosen for its first international location because of similarities in regulations. However, there are differences compared to the UK system including the federal and provincial government system. Founded in 2013 in the UK, its purpose is to help consumers improve the way they raise issues, businesses to become better at retaining their customers, improve the government to better understand and deliver the right regulations, and improve entire markets through detailed, aggregated reporting tools, said James Walker, its CEO and founder. It tries to drive better services and outcomes with technology, he said. Peter Wright, a business engagement person in Canada, said it has closed three million files and has 33,000 companies listed on its UK site. In Canada, consumers can now lodge complaints against banks, restaurants, retailers, travel and tourism providers, and telecoms. However, he expects this to grow in the coming months and could include, for example, giving benefit plan members the opportunity make complaints against insurance company benefit providers. It provides a formal mechanism for making complaints and allows companies to assess the escalation level of the complaints. It is free for consumers and businesses. However, businesses can become clients to remove unnecessary complaints, stopping consumer channel hops, and, ultimately, keeping these customers.

U.S. Retailers Surviving, Not Thriving

More than half (54 per cent) of traditional U.S. retailers ‒ including big box, department store, discount, and specialty retailers ‒ say they are just surviving headed into 2019, says the ‘2019 BDO Retail Rationalized Survey.’ The survey’s findings laid bare a clear distinction between the survivors, retailers who report being stable and breaking even, and the thrivers, who identify as profitable and experiencing robust growth. Survivors tend to avoid risk and are focused on keeping pace with traditional competitors, while thrivers are making smart bets and focused on standing out from competition with exclusive offerings. An overwhelming majority of pure play eCommerce businesses (84 per cent) say they are thriving, likely thanks to their lighter overhead and lack of dead store weight, while one-in-five department stores (nine per cent) report struggling as they seek to optimize their physical assets and best compete with online offerings and attractive prices. Across the board, retailers are making significant investments in their eCommerce operations, however, over one-in-three thrivers are planning to grow their store count, with some eTailers making their foray into the physical space.

2018 U.S. Construction Starts Show Mixed Performance

The leading U.S. metropolitan areas for commercial and multi-family construction starts registered a varied performance during 2018 compared to the previous year, says Dodge Data & Analytics. Of the top 10 markets, ranked by the dollar amount of construction starts, four reported greater activity in 2018 while six showed declines. At the national level, the volume of commercial and multi-family construction starts in 2018 was $212.4 billion, up four per cent, which represented a moderate rebound after a three per cent setback in 2017. The New York, NY, metropolitan area, at $28.7 billion in 2018, continued to be the leading market in the U.S. for commercial and multi-family construction starts, advancing 10 per cent after its 13 per cent drop in 2017. The organization says the economic environment may not be quite as supportive to commercial and multi-family construction starts in 2019 as what took place during 2018.

OpenGate To Acquire Sargent & Greenleaf

Private equity firm OpenGate Capital has signed an agreement to acquire Sargent and Greenleaf (S&G) from Stanley Black & Decker. S&G is a manufacturer of specialized high security lock systems for commercial and residential applications. OpenGate plans to accelerate the company’s growth through strengthening its commercial reach and applying new technologies to its product line. The transaction is anticipated to complete in the first quarter of 2019.

Honda Wins Forestry Award

The Honda Canada Foundation received the ‘2019 Green Legacy Award’ from Forests Ontario for its ‘One Honda. One Tree’ initiative. Through this initiative, a tree is planted for every Honda lawn mower, tiller, or trimmer sold between April and July. The initiative is responsible for planting more than 100,000 trees across five provinces. The award was presented at Forests Ontario’s annual conference held February 8.

Shendow Named Derby Marketing Manager

Rachelle Shendow is marketing manager with Derby Building Products Inc., manufacturer of exterior cladding. In this role, she will be responsible for all communications, public relations, and advertising of the Tando and Novik brands. She brings 20 years of experience to the role.

Spectrum Brands Sales Slide

Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $874.6 million in the first quarter of 2109, a decrease of 4.9 per cent compared to net sales of $919.6 million in the first quarter of 2018. Organic sales fell 3.4 per cent. Net loss from continuing operations for the quarter was $29.7 million compared to net earnings of $40 million last year. Operating income was $24.8 million compared to $51.3 million. The hardware and home improvement segment net sales decreased 20.8 per cent to $305.1 million; the home and personal care segment net sales decreased 24.8 per cent to $317.2 million; and the home and garden segment net sales decreased 1.7 per cent to $47.6 million.

ADS Numbers Down

Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) had net sales of $318.1 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of 0.8 per cent over net sales of $320.8 million in the third quarter of its fiscal 2018 year. International net sales decreased 11.4 per cent to $38.9 million, driven primarily by sales in Canada. Net income for the quarter was $16.6 million, a decrease of 50.2 per cent over the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA decreased 13.5 per cent to $48.4 million. The company said it had growth in non-residential- and residential-end markets, as well as broad-based growth across both pipe and allied products.

February 13, 2019

Consumers Ready For New Technologies

Canadian consumers are demanding more in-store mobile technology and innovation for a convenient shopping experience without forfeiting human interaction, says a survey by SOTI. In addition, the ‘Connected Retailer Survey’ shows consumers who own in-home virtual assistants have already started using them for voice-activated shopping and the majority of consumers have expressed comfort in being offered new shipping methods such as drones and automated vehicles. The survey finds that 64 per cent of customers say retailers that utilize more mobile technology (both self-service and through sales associates) enable a faster shopping experience. While 62 per cent of consumers favour self-service technologies – such as kiosks, digital signage, and self-checkout – to improve the in-store shopping experience, 78 per cent are still in favour of arming sales associates with technology to improve their shopping experience. It says the opportunity is for retailers to invest in platforms that provide a holistic mobile experience that are both customer- and sales associate-facing to manage critical processes like payment transactions and troubleshooting devices on the floor to reduce downtime.

Home Sales Strong

January was yet another strong month for home sales in the London, ON, area ‒ the second best start of the year since 2010 ‒ despite some signs the market may be stabilizing. The latest numbers from the London St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) show 525 homes were sold last month, up 17.4 per cent over January 2018. In January, the sales-to-new listings ratio ‒ the ratio between the number of homes sold and the number of new listings ‒ was 60.9 per cent for the area. The Canadian Real Estate Association considers this a balanced market.

Amazon Canada Expands Free Next-day Delivery   

Amazon Canada has expanded its Prime free one-day delivery to 13 more cities and towns in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. This brings the total to 19 locations that have the free one-day delivery service available, seven days a week. Qualifying orders must be over $25 and will arrive by 9 p.m. local time the following day. There are more than one million eligible items available for the service.

YouTube Attracting Millennial Demographic

YouTube ranked the most intimate brand among U.S. Millennials for the first time, climbing up from third last year, says MBLM’s ‘Brand Intimacy 2019 Study.’ Rating 10th with Millennials just two years ago, YouTube has now demonstrated an ability to entertain a diverse audience through its extensive content. It is also continuing its expansion of services including YouTube Music in 2018, finding new ways to connect with consumers. Other brands that appealed to this demographic include Google, Walmart, and Target which was the top pick for Millennial women.

ROCKWOOL Has 11 Per Cent Increase

ROCKWOOL International A/S had sales of €709 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 11.1 per cent over sales in the fourth quarter of 2017. EBIT for the quarter was €83 million, an increase of 15 per cent year-over-year. EBIT margin was 11.7 per cent, up 0.5 per cent over the year-ago period.

February 12, 2019

New Brunswick Leads Housing Starts Trend

The trend in housing starts was 208,131 units in January 2019, compared to 207,171 units in December 2018, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). New Brunswick's total housing starts were 33 per cent higher compared to a year ago. The increase was due to multiple-unit starts which were more than double the number observed in January 2018. The trend measure for housing starts in the Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA) held steady in January after trending lower in the second half of 2018. In Saskatoon, SK, the trend measure of total housing starts edged higher in the first month of 2019; however, actual total housing starts in January were down 15 per cent, compared to January 2018. Toronto, ON, CMA total housing starts trend was unchanged from the previous month. Single and semi-detached homes along with condominium apartment starts trended lower. Ottawa, ON, housing starts trended lower for all dwelling types; starts marked the lowest for the month in over two decades. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 207,968 units in January, down from 213,630 units in December.

Toronto Stores Pulling Self-checkouts

Some Toronto, ON-based Canadian Tire stores have pulled their self-checkout machines, says a report from CBC News. One said the machines were inefficient and kept breaking down. At the same time, some stores in other areas of Canada are adding self-checkouts, the report says. Canadian Tire deployed Fujitsu U-Scan Self-Checkout Systems into more than 100 stores in 2007 to provide a new and enhanced method to efficiently serve customers. Most popular in the grocery segment, Canadian Tire represented Fujitsu’s largest non-grocery deployment for its U-Scan Genesis systems at the time. Despite the fact that some stores are pulling the machines, the self-checkout market is forecast to grow to US$4 billion by 2024. Key drivers include the need for fast checkout, reduction in wait times and long queues, total cost of ownership, and the rise in minimum wage.

Personalization Requires Identification

Offering a personalized service requires identification of customers as soon as they walk in the store, but only 37 per cent of retailers are able to identify their customers before checkout, says Boston Retail Partners in its ‘BRP Consumer Study.’ As consumers ‘check-in’ on retailers’ eCommerce and mobile sites, they automatically receive personalized offers and recommendations based on their purchase and browsing history. However, most shoppers are still anonymous when shopping in a physical store so they don’t get the same level of personalized service. The study finds that 79 per cent of consumers indicate that personalized service from a sales associate was an important factor in determining which store they choose to shop. Consumers understand that receiving personalized service requires retailers to identify them. While this has been the normal standard online or via mobile, identifying the customer in the store is a little more difficult and not as common. At this time, most retailers who identify customers in the store use the customers’ mobile phone as the identification tool paired with a combination of beacons, WiFi, MAC address, etc. While 64 per cent of consumers are comfortable with retailers identifying them via their mobile phone when they enter a store as long as it means they are offered a personalized experience, only 37 per cent of retailers are able to identify their customers prior to checkout.

Architectural Products Segment Leads Masco Sales

Masco Corporation had net sales of $2 billion for the fourth quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, an increase of 10 per cent over net sales in the fourth quarter of its 2017 year. North American sales increased 14 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin for the quarter decreased 60 basis points to 32 per cent from 32.6 per cent a year ago, while operating margin increased 130 basis points to 15.1 per cent from 13.8 per cent. The plumbing products segment net sales increased four per cent, driven by eight per cent growth in North America; decorative architectural products net sales increased 30 per cent, partly due to the acquisition of Kichler; cabinet products net sales increased one per cent, partly due to the divestiture of Moores; and windows and other specialty products net sales decreased one per cent due to continued softness in the UK market.

Mohawk Earnings Decline

Mohawk Industries, Inc. had net earnings of $229 million for the fourth quarter of 2018; adjusted net earnings were $188 million, a 26 per cent decrease over adjusted net earnings in the fourth quarter of 2017. Net sales for the quarter were $2.45 billion, up three per cent over net sales of $2.37 billion in the year-ago period. The global ceramic segment sales increased 4.5 per cent year-over-year with operating margin of nine per cent. The flooring North America segment sales decreased three per cent with operating margin of eight per cent. The flooring 'rest of the world' segment sales increased 12 per cent with operating margin of 12 per cent.

Registration Open For Wolseley ONE Tradeshow

HVAC/R professionals in Ontario can visit 70 exhibitors and vendors showcasing the latest technologies in plumbing, HVAC/R, and tool products at the Wolseley ONE Tradeshow. The show features on-site training and certification programs and tradeshow floor sales. It takes place March 27 at the Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, ON. The event is the first of six Wolseley ONE Tradeshows across Canada in 2019. The signature Wolseley ONE events in the GTA and Atlantic regions are expanding to include western Canada, with shows in Winnipeg, MB; Calgary and Edmonton, AB; and Burnaby, BC, for the first time. For more information, visit Wolseley ONE

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