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 25, 2019

Lumber And Prices Boost LBM Sales

Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased for the ninth consecutive year, up 8.1 per cent to $111.2 billion in 2018, on the strength of higher sales in all industries, says Statistics Canada. The lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies industry contributed the most to the gain, up 5.8 per cent to $55.2 billion and its seventh consecutive annual increase. Although this industry reported positive growth in 2018, it did not surpass the growth rate of 11.6 per cent reached in 2017. Related indicators, including the total value of residential and non-residential building permits, increased 3.6 per cent in 2018, after rising 10.9 per cent in 2017. The Industrial Product Price Index for lumber and other wood products rose for the fourth consecutive year, up 7.1 per cent in 2018 and its highest growth rate since 2004. Exports of building and packaging materials rose 5.2 per cent while imports were up 5.1 per cent from January to November 2018. Sales in the electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry rose 9.4 per cent to $34.1 billion, the second consecutive gain. In volume terms, sales in the building material and supplies subsector edged up 0.3 per cent.

HBC To Close Home Outfitters

HBC will close its Home Outfitters business in Canada and is performing a fleet review of Saks OFF 5TH’s 133 stores, with an estimate of closing up to 20 locations in the U.S. These actions are part of the company’s strategic plan to reduce costs, simplify the business, and improve overall profitability. Home Outfitters is expected to close in 2019. The vast majority of markets in which it operates are served by Hudson’s Bay, which accepts Home Outfitters gift cards.

Parental Sharing Benefit Starts In March

The federal government of Canada’s Employment Insurance parental sharing benefit will launch March 17. This means soon-to-be parents will be eligible to receive extra weeks of parental benefits. The benefit will be available to parents, including adoptive or same-sex parents, for a child born or placed for the purpose of adoption on or after March 17 ‒ as long as they are eligible for and share their Employment Insurance parental benefits. When parents agree to do so, they will benefit from five additional weeks of parental benefits when choosing the standard option or eight additional weeks for those who choose the extended option. Corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code will also be made to ensure that federally regulated private-sector employees have the right to take leave while receiving the new parental sharing benefits without fear of losing their job.

U.S. New Construction Starts Up Two Per Cent

The value of U.S. new construction starts in January advanced two per cent compared to December, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $722.5 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The slight gain followed the loss of momentum that was reported towards the end of 2018, with total construction declines of seven per cent in November and 10 per cent in December. Each of the three main construction sectors in January registered modest growth. Residential building climbed four per cent, lifted by a rebound for multi-family housing. Both non-residential building and non-building construction edged up one per cent. On an unadjusted basis, total construction starts in January were $51.5 billion, down 12 per cent from the same month a year ago. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the period ending January 2019 held steady with the corresponding amount for the 12 months ending January 2018. Residential building in January was $309.8 billion (annual rate), up four per cent and rebounding from its nine per cent slide in December. Multi-family housing bounced back 14 per cent following its 15 per cent December decline, and was up one per cent compared to its average monthly pace during 2018.

Report Shows Zero Carbon Buildings Financially Viable

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has issued a new report that shows Zero Carbon Buildings offer meaningful greenhouse gas reductions and positive financial returns. Entitled ‘Making The Case For Building To Zero Carbon,’ the CaGBC report confirms that Zero Carbon Buildings are financially viable today, with a positive financial return over a 25-year life-cycle, inclusive of carbon pollution pricing, and requiring only a modest capital cost premium. The economic case for Zero Carbon Buildings is reinforced over time with the rising cost of carbon, increased resiliency, and by avoiding costs such as future retrofits. Eliminating pollution from buildings is important if Canada is to meet its climate action goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The CaGBC report found that, by 2030, over four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year can be avoided cost-effectively if the seven building types studied are built to be zero carbon buildings. This represents over 22 per cent of the 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions that the Pan-Canadian Framework recognizes as potential savings from the building sector.

Healthy Growth Forecast For Facade Market

The global facade market size is anticipated to reach US$342.94 billion by 2025, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc., exhibiting a compound annual growth rate of 7.6 per cent during the forecast period. The market is estimated to register healthy growth over the forecast period owing to development of advanced materials with capabilities that offer safety, performance, and visually appealing texture. This exterior building face carries the attribute of both appearance and superior performance in a mode, unlike any other building system, which is expected to fuel the demand for the product over the next few years. Soaring need to lower heating and air-conditioning cost and achieve energy-efficiency is slated to stir up the demand for facades over the coming years. As well, burgeoning popularity of green buildings and surging demand for high-transparency glasses that allow passage of light, while maintaining heat-resistance, are poised to shape the future of the market. The market is projected to witness the application for high-performance and energy-saving solar control facades, which will contribute towards higher economic benefits and eco-sustainability.

Hamburger Joins BMR Group

Jason Hamburger is business development manager in Ontario at BMR Group. This is a new position created to help the company’s development in Ontario. He brings more than 20 years of experience to the role, including a decade as product manager at Home Hardware Stores Limited.

UFPI Net Sales Rise Two Per Cent

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) had net sales of $988.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, a two per cent increase over net sales in the fourth quarter of 2017. EBITDA was $63.6 million for the quarter, up more than 11 per cent over the prior-year period. Operating profit was $45.4 million, up 9.5 per cent. New product sales were $103 million, up 13 per cent year-over-year. Retail sales were down eight per cent year-over-year, while industrial sales were up 11 per cent. Construction sales were up one per cent over the year-ago period, with residential sales up seven per cent, and commercial sales up 18 per cent. Construction sales were offset by a decrease of three per cent in sales to manufactured housing customers.

Newell Brands Sales Slide

Newell Brands had net sales from continuing operations of $2.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, a decline of six per cent compared to net sales from continuing operations of $2.5 billion. Core sales from continuing operations declined 1.2 per cent from the prior-year period. Operating margin was 0.8 per cent compared with 5.7 per cent, while normalized operating margin was 11.4 per cent compared to 10.7 per cent in the prior-year period. The company had gross margin of 34.7 per cent compared with 32.7 per cent a year ago. Net income for the quarter was $208 million versus $1.7 billion in the previous year. The food and appliances had a core sales decline of 1.7 per cent and the home and outdoor living segment had a core sales decline of three per cent.

February 22, 2019

Orgill Market Opens In Orlando

Independent home improvement retailers from around the world gathered Thursday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, for the first day of Orgill’s Spring Dealer Market. The buying show got off to a strong start, as attendees packed the show floor to look for new products, take advantage of special market-only pricing, and attend educational workshops and clinics to bring new knowledge back to their businesses. The Market covers one million square feet and attendees can walk through full-size model stores and product showcases highlighting specific categories, as well as take time to speak with any of the thousands of vendors at the show. “We’re showcasing a number of displays and specialty areas to help our customers find ideas to grow their businesses,” says Phillip Walker, senior vice-president of merchandising services. “We hope they discover creative ways to merchandise their inventory and discover innovative products to offer their customers.” Orgill’s Fall Dealer Market will be held August 22 to 24 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

Fraser Valley Building Supplies Acquires Two Stores

Fraser Valley Building Supplies will acquire two stores in British Columbia. Maglio Building Centres in Nelson and Trail have been serving the West Kootenays community for more than 30 years. Together, the stores have approximately 50,000 square feet of sales area as well as five acres of lumberyard. “We had been looking to grow our business in the region for some time...and these stores were the right fit for us,” says Ray Cyr, president of Fraser Valley. “We are confident that the locations will be a great addition to our existing stores and will help us consolidate our position in the British Columbia market.” Over the coming months, the Nelson and Trail dealer stores will be converted to the RONA banner, an affiliate of Lowe’s Canada, and undergo renovations to enhance customers’ shopping experience.

Goodfellow To Distribute Ox Products

Goodfellow Inc. has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with OX Engineered Products. OX manufactures a broad offering of thin wall sheathing marketed under Thermo-Ply and structural polyiso insulation panels marketed under the brand OX-IS (formerly SI-Strong). The technical team at OX will help Goodfellow introduce these products to the Canadian market.

Government To Help Educate SMBs On Zero Carbon Buildings

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change says it will provide funding to the Canada Green Building Council (CGBC), through the Climate Action Fund, in order to support its goal to protect the environment and transition to a cleaner economy. The CGBC project will help raise climate change awareness among small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and increase knowledge of the design, adoption, and application of zero carbon buildings. The fund provides up to $3 million to support projects delivered by students, youth, indigenous peoples, and organizations, not-for-profit organizations, small- and medium-sized businesses, and research and educational institutions. Funded projects will raise awareness of climate change and clean growth and encourage others to take action in support of Canada's climate goals.

Continued Growth Forecast For Outdoor Living Industry

The popularity of outdoor living shows no signs of slowing down, says Trex Company. In fact, the past decade has seen unprecedented growth in the outdoor living industry and it is expected to reach its highest level yet in 2019. Driving this rapid rise are innovative, low-maintenance outdoor living products, with an amplified desire to relax and disconnect from today’s increasingly digital world, says Trex. Some of the trends the company sees in this category include sustainable solutions and alternative products, low-maintenance products, and a desire for comfort. Minimalism is another trend, especially when it comes to decking. Consumers are also increasingly building their own outdoor living spaces.

Trex Sales Up 15 Per Cent

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $140 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 15 per cent compared to consolidated net sales in the fourth quarter of 2017. Residential products net sales were up 11 per cent and commercial products were up 43 per cent over the prior year’s fourth quarter. Consolidated gross margin for the quarter was 42.8 per cent. Net income for the quarter was $25 million, up 38 per cent from the net income of $18 million a year ago. The company says the increase reflected strong demand across its professional and retail channels.

Slight Gain In Walmart Revenue

Walmart had total revenue of $138.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.9 per cent over total revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net sales at Walmart U.S. were $90.5 billion for the quarter, up 4.6 per cent over $86.6 billion in the year-ago period. Net sales at Walmart International were $32.3 billion, a decline of 2.3 per cent. The retailer had operating income of $6.1 billion compared to $4.5 billion, an increase of 35.8 per cent.

February 21, 2019

Non-residential Buildings Lead Increased Prices

Prices for the construction of non-residential buildings increased more than prices for residential buildings in the fourth quarter, says the 'Construction Contractors Survey' by Statistics Canada. Increases in both residential and non-residential building construction costs were largely driven by the ongoing rise of steel and metal prices, which were affected by tariffs imposed in June 2018. Prices for primary ferrous metal products rose 14.9 per cent from January to December 2018. Non-residential building construction costs increased 0.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, following a 1.6 per cent gain in the third quarter. Contractor prices for the construction of warehouses and factories (both up one per cent) rose the most. These increases were attributable to the continued rise in prices for metal fabrication and of concrete products, which are important components in the construction of both building types. The price of concrete products increased 3.9 per cent from January to December 2018. Higher prices for structural steel framing also pushed up construction costs for factory buildings. Prices for the construction of non-residential buildings were up 4.6 per cent over the 12-month period. Construction costs for all types of residential buildings rose 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, following a 0.9 per cent increase in the previous quarter. Prices charged by contractors for residential building construction were up 5.1 per cent over the 12-month period.

Expert Panel To Provide Workplace Advice

Important changes to the Canada Labour Code were recently made but the government of Canada's work to modernize the code isn't done, says Patty Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development, and labour. Hajdu says the government has established an independent expert panel to study the more complex workplace issues facing Canadian employers and workers. The panel will study, consult, and bring forward recommendations to the minister on federal minimum wage; labour standards protections for non-standard workers; the 'right to disconnect' outside of work hours; collective voice for non-unionized workers; and access and portability of benefits. It will operate at arm's length from the government to ensure it provides independent, evidence-based advice.

New Movers Provide Opportunity For Brands

Eighty-five per cent of people that have just moved into a new home will use the first vendor that contacts them, and 93 per cent of those new movers take advantage of offers or invitations from a business that took the time to welcome them to their new community, finds research by Welcome Wagon, a provider of direct mail and digital marketing services. This opens the door for local businesses to establish a relationship with these new residents from the very beginning. In the U.S., more than 40 million people move each year and, on average, spend over $9,500 for goods and services within their first 12 months. "When you support local businesses, you help your community thrive and grow," says Steve Goodman, CEO of Welcome Wagon. Contacting this market introduces them to businesses in their new neighbourhood and provides brands an opportunity to develop a relationship with these potential customers.

Fast Growth Forecast For Fibre Cement Siding

Demand for fibre cement siding is forecast to increase 3.6 per cent annually to 664 million square metres in 2022, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Gains will be supported by the product's lower cost relative to brick, stone, and wood, which it can mimic in appearance, and its durability and low maintenance. The largest market gains will be posted in China and the U.S. Fibre cement demand will also be affected by recent asbestos regulations, as the use of asbestos in fibre cement is still ongoing, especially in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working toward a worldwide asbestos ban, which – if successful – will boost demand for asbestos-free fibre cement siding. Faster growth will be restricted by rising income levels in many parts of the world, which will increase demand for competing, high-end siding products – such as natural stone – that offer superior aesthetics. Global demand for all types of siding is forecast to rise 2.8 per cent annually through 2022 to 6.7 billion square metres valued at $78.6 billion. Going forward, demand for siding products will be driven by growth in non-residential building construction, an acceleration in the global rate of growth in new housing construction, an increase in the share of new homes that use siding, and rising personal incomes, which allow for greater spending on renovation projects such as siding replacement.

Masonite Sales Up

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $528 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of four per cent over net sales of $509 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Net income for the quarter decreased to $12 million from $72 million a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was $57 million, a 10 per cent decrease over adjusted EBITDA of $64 million. North American residential net sales were $349 million, a three per cent decrease over the fourth quarter of 2017. Europe net sales were $90 million, a 23 per cent increase over the fourth quarter of 2017. Architectural net sales were $83 million, a 19 per cent increase. Total company gross profit decreased five per cent to $95 million from $100 million. Gross profit margin decreased 170 basis points to 18 per cent, due primarily to higher raw material costs and the impact of lower volume.

Ace Hardware Has Increased Revenues

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.39 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 5.7 per cent over revenues in the fourth quarter of 2017. Net income was $25.2 million for the quarter, an increase of 77.5 per cent over the year-ago period. Same-store sales increased 1.3 per cent year-over-year, due in part to a 2.3 per cent increase in average ticket. Total wholesale sales were up 4.5 per cent compared to last year. Increases were noted across most departments with power tools, outdoor living, and electrical showing the largest gains. Total retail revenues were $108.7 million, an increase of 21.6 per cent, as compared to the prior year quarter.

Show Focuses On Health And Safety

The theme for Canada's largest and longest-running health and safety conference and trade show, 'Partners in Prevention 2019,' this year is 'What's Your Story?' The conference will highlight the 'safety superhero' who advocates for health and safety in the workplace. It will feature more than 60 educational presentations that focus on legislative and legal issues, leadership, human resources, hazards, mental health, and workplace culture and will be complemented by an expansive trade show floor showcasing the latest innovations, market trends, products, and services to improve workplace safety and productivity. Scott Stratten, one of the 'Top Five Social Media Influencers in the World,' on, will deliver the opening keynote address. Keynote speakers also include Mark Henick, whose TEDx talk 'Why We Choose Suicide' is among the most watched in the world; and popular Canadian comic and political satirist, Rick Mercer. The conference takes place April 30 to May 1 in Toronto, ON. Visit Partners In Prevention

February 19, 2019

TIMBER MART Launches Programs At National Buying Show

TIMBER MART launched a number of programs and services for members at its ninth annual National Buying Show, held in Toronto from February 15 to 16. The new and existing initiatives included member-exclusive pool buys; educational sessions on new TIMBER MART programs; TIMBER MART’s charitable foundation; LBM solutions; dealer marketing, merchandising, and banner support; and the Timberkids’ Scholarship Fund Program. More than 1,000 dealers and vendors were in attendance, with 200 vendor booths featuring a wide range of displays and attractions including Orgill’s plumbing and electrical assortments and TIMBER MART’s ‘Store on the Floor’ which featured merchandised displays of more than 2,000 SKUs of building materials and hardlines products. The national dealer meeting was held February 14 and TIMBER MART’s annual dinner and awards ceremony, which featured an appearance by Randy Ambrosie, commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL), was held on February 15.

CEOs Looking For Opportunities Amid Economic Decline

Sixty-two per cent of Canadian chief executive officers (CEOs) say global economic growth will decline or stay the same. This compares to 57 per cent globally, says PWC in its ‘Global CEO Survey.’ While they are less optimistic about the global economy and their growth prospects compared to last year, this is a prime opportunity to focus on transforming how they work, says PWC. Shifting geopolitics, trade uncertainties, and increasing protectionism require business leaders to adjust their approach in the search to uncover growth in 2019 and beyond. Only 60 per cent of Canadian CEOs, compared to 88 per cent in 2018, see the U.S. as the most important market for growth. When asked to identify the most attractive foreign markets for investment, Canadian CEOs are looking farther afield and expressing more uncertainty. Canadian interest in any market outside Canada has remained flat or declined with the exception of Mexico, which increased to 12 per cent from seven per cent in 2018. Canadian CEOs are also looking inward for growth opportunities, says the survey. Most (88 per cent versus 77 per cent globally) will look at introducing more operational efficiencies; a large proportion of Canadian CEOs (84 per cent versus 71 per cent globally) will focus on organic growth, and a little more than half (59 per cent versus 37 per cent globally) are focused on new M&A activity.

PFEIFER Celebrates 440th Anniversary

In February 1579, the ropery of the Pfeifer family is mentioned for the first time in historical documents. The family continued the ropemaking trade over several generations and now celebrates its 440th anniversary. Today, the German-based PFEIFER Group is an international employer with more than 30 sites in 19 countries and ambitious growth targets. It supports and supplies the rope and lifting, rope technology, lightweight architecture, and building systems industries. Since the 1950s, the former three-man business developed into a modern industrial enterprise. The company acquired state-of-the-art machines, occupied modern production facilities, and recruited employees to manufacture steel wire ropes. This was complemented over the years by additional product segments and business units such as connecting and lifting systems and lifting technology. The group acquired another large factory in the 1980s through expansion, which is to this day the headquarters. In the 1990s, the company began its international operations. Today, the PFEIFER Group of companies is a worldwide supplier to the lifting, securing, and connecting industries.

Amazon Cancels New York HQ2

Amazon has cancelled its plans to build its second headquarters in New York City, NY. The online retailer says that due to discord with state and local elected officials, it cannot build the type of relationships required to go forward with the project. “We do not intend to reopen the [second headquarters] at this time,” Amazon says in a statement. “We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, TN, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.”

PIP To Acquire West Chester Protective Gear

Protective Industrial Products, Inc. (PIP), a North American supplier of hand protection and general safety products, plans to acquire West Chester Protective Gear, headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, a provider of personal protective equipment to both the industrial and retail channels. PIP says the companies complement each other and the acquisition will allow it to provide distributors and retailers with an expanded product offering along with more flexible solutions to meet every competitive need.

CT REIT To Amalgamate Niagara Canadian Tire Stores

CT REIT has purchased a quarter-million-square-foot retail site in Niagara Falls, ON, which it intends to anchor with a 134,000-square-foot Canadian Tire store. Canadian Tire will amalgamate its two existing Niagara Falls locations into the new facility. The move is expected to be complete by mid-2020. CT REIT has also purchased redevelopment sites in Yarmouth, NS, and Canmore, AB, for similar developments.

LP Sales Down

LP had net sales of $589 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, a decrease of 17 per cent compared to net sales in the fourth quarter of 2017. Net income for the fourth quarter was $17 million and adjusted income from continuing operations was $27 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $65 million. The company says siding segment results were negatively impacted in the fourth quarter by increased marketing investment associated with accelerating repair and remodel channel penetration and new product introductions.

Lumber Prices Affect Interfor Earnings

Interfor Corporation had a net loss of $13.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, down from net earnings of $28.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Adjusted net loss for the quarter was $19.8 million compared to adjusted net earnings $45.1 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.2 million on sales of $468.5 million versus $69.4 million on sales of $570.5 million. The company says sales were affected by lumber price volatility and production decline.

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