Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


April 8, 2019

Strong Rise In Quebec Online Shopping

Online shopping accounted for $10.5 billion in Quebec in 2018, up 27 per cent from 2017, says research organization CEFRIO in its report, ‘Electronic Commerce in Quebec.’ The report shows that 64 per cent of Quebec adults made at least one internet purchase in 2018, an increase of six per cent compared to 2017, with an average monthly shopping basket of $293, an increase of seven per cent compared to the previous year. “Among the different age groups in the study, the largest increase in the percentage of those who buy online was observed among those aged 45 to 54, with an 11 per cent rise from 61 per cent in 2017 to 72 per cent in 2018,” says Claire Bourget, senior director, marketing research. Free delivery was cited (by 84 per cent) as one of the most important factors in choosing an eCommerce store. Eighty per cent of shoppers say being able to return items purchased online to a store or point-of-sale is important. As well, 72 per cent of Quebec shoppers checked the inventory of a store online before going to the physical store. Fifty-six per cent of Quebec adults used their mobile phone device in-store to search for information, which represents an 18 per cent increase from 2017. In this context, Quebec adults mainly use their mobile device to search for product information (50 per cent), to ask for an opinion from family on a product by sending a photo to them (38 per cent), and to compare the prices with those of the competitors (37 per cent).

Uptick In U.S. Non-residential Buildings

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 0.5 per cent in March to 145.5 from the revised February reading of 144.8. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The March uptick was due to a 2.8 per cent increase in the commercial component of the index, while the institutional component fell three per cent. The overall index has essentially moved sideways and stayed within a very narrow band of activity since the fall of last year. This is highly indicative of where building markets currently are at this late stage of the construction cycle. While economic growth is expected to ease from 2018’s strong pace, relatively healthy real estate markets fundamentals and continued support for public projects such as a schools and transportation terminals should enable planning activity to remain close to recent levels for the near term.

Castle Holds AGM In Hilton Head

Castle Building Centres Group held is ‘56th Annual General Meeting’ in Hilton Head Island, SC, in March. Over 400 guests – including Castle shareholders, vendor partners, and their families – enjoyed an action-packed week of events and presentations on- and off-site. Ken Jenkins, president, and James Jones, vice-president of national marketing, gave presentations and the keynote speaker was comedian and TV-show host Rick Mercer.

Home Société Opens Toronto Store

Home Société has opened a store in Toronto, ON, in the Castlefield Design District. The home goods store was created by Maison Corbeil, Jardin de Ville, and Must, a collective of Canadian designers in high-end furniture and decor. The 80,000-square-foot showroom features interior and exterior furniture, décor, and accessories both made-in-Canada as well curated from around the globe.

McCartney Joins TIMBER MART

Barry McCartney is senior commodity trader, Ontario, with TIMBER MART. He has more that 25 years of experience trading lumber, plywood, and OSB products in Ontario with companies such as Taiga Building Products and Tembec. TIMBER MART’s lumber-trading team now consists of six commodity traders located across the country.

Sales Down At HBC

HBC had sales of $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018, down 1.4 per cent over sales of $3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. DSG (Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor, and Home Outfitters) comparable sales decreased 5.2 per cent. After the quarter closed, the company announced the closure of Home Outfitters and a leadership transition at Hudson’s Bay. Gross profit as a percentage of sales was 36.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared to 38.7 per cent in the same quarter a year ago. The company had earnings of $512 million versus $84 million last year, while adjusted EBITDA was $187 million versus $216 million.

April 5, 2019

Condos Lead Ottawa Home Sales

A total of 1,511 residential properties were sold in March in Ottawa, ON, says the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB). This is a decrease of 8.6 per cent over 1,654 sales in March of last year. March sales included 1,136 in the residential property class, a drop of 12.4 per cent from a year ago and 375 in the condominium property class, an increase of five per cent from March 2018. The five-year average for March unit sales is 1,402. OREB says lack of inventory is responsible for the deficiency, manifesting in significant days-on-market (DOM). Residential DOMs were down 14 per cent, and condo DOMs were down 36 per cent over last year. With high demand and limited supply, prices will continue to be pushed upwards.

Retailers Turn To Private Label For Profitability

Nine out of 10 retailers price their private label products lower than the average prices of their respective categories, says a study from DataWeave, an eCommerce solutions provider. In line with the finding, the study reveals that an increasing number of retailers view private label brands as a way to ensure sustained profitability. Faced with intense competition, a number of retailers are doubling down on private labels to capture valuable additional margin. As well, product assortment is emerging as a driver that's as critical as pricing when it comes to customer retention. A sharp assortment strategy customized to local tastes and preferences is key to sustaining and enhancing customer satisfaction when it comes to house brands. The study finds ‘home’ is one of the leading categories in the distribution of private label products.

CRAFTSMAN V60 Outdoor Power Equipment Now Available

CRAFTSMAN’s V60 Cordless System of outdoor power equipment is now fully available at retailers across Canada and the U.S. Six cordless tools, including the V60 Cordless 21-inch three-in-one Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Kit, V60 Cordless 15-inch Brushless Weedwacker String Trimmer With Quickwind Kit, V60 Cordless Brushless Axial Blower Kit, V60 Cordless 16-inch Brushless Chainsaw Kit, V60 Cordless 24-inch Hedge Trimmer Kit, and V60 Cordless 21-inch three-in-one Push Mower Kit, offer homeowners cordless options for their yardwork. Most of the products in this system are VERSATRACK compatible. VERSATRACK is a wall organization system that allows users to organize and store common items found in garages as well as other CRAFTSMAN products.

Students Win Prizes From Gray Tools

Centennial College student Ethan Eddy is the grand prize winner of Gray Tools’ ‘Student Contest,’ an interactive online competition for full-time post-secondary students enrolled in a trade program. Eddy received a Gray Tools master set. Centennial College – Ashtonbee Campus won the prize for the school with the most students enrolled in the contest. It received a $2,500 gift card redeemable at The contest is part of Gray’s efforts to engage with its fastest growing customer segment, which started with the launch of Gray Tools student program last year. The program gives full-time students enrolled in Canadian vocational and trade schools access to industrial quality tools at a discounted price.

Schmitz Becomes Chief Accounting Officer

Thomas D. Schmitz is vice-president and chief accounting officer with Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. He has been with the company for more than 14 years in several financial roles, most recently as corporate controller.

Acquisitions Affect Richelieu Canadian Sales

Richelieu had sales of $226.2 million in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of two per cent over sales of $221.9 million in the first quarter of 2018. In the manufacturers market, sales were up 5.3 per cent to $192.3 million, while sales to hardware retailers, including renovation superstores, dropped 13.5 per cent to $33.9 million. In Canada, Richelieu had sales of $143.7 million, a decrease of 0.2 per cent over the first quarter of 2018, of which 0.6 per cent originated from acquisitions. Richelieu began its fiscal year 2019 with the acquisition of Lion Industries, Blackstone Building Products, and Truform Building Products, three specialty hardware distributors serving window and door manufacturers in western Canada and Ontario. EBITDA for the quarter was $17.4 million, down 12 per cent year-over-year, and EBITDA margin was 7.7 per cent versus 8.9 per cent last year. Net earnings were down 20.3 per cent

All Areas Of Home Improvement Covered At NS Home Show

The ‘2019 Colchester County Home Show,’ presented by Truro and the Colchester Chamber of Commerce, will feature 100 exhibitors in categories for every home improvement project. This year will also have the demo stage all three days of the event for presentations and seminars on topics from painting to landscaping projects and more. The event takes place April 5 to 7 at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Colchester, NS. For more information, visit the Colchester Home Show

April 4, 2019

GTA Home Sales Remain Flat

A total of 7,187 residential sales were completed in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in March, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). The result was in line with the 7,188 sales reported in March 2018. Sales were down one per cent compared in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2018. While March sales remained relatively flat compared to last year, new listings declined more so than sales, down by 5.1 per cent year-over-year, while first quarter new listing were down 1.5 per cent. TREB says the OSFI mortgage stress test impacted the market while the lack of supply of listings remains a problem.

Industry Veteran Inducted Into Hall Of Fame

Terry Davis, retired president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited; Solly Feldman, founder of Accent Fairchild Group; and Dennis Nykoliation, retired president and general manager of Black & Decker Canada, president and CEO of CanWel Building Products, and president and general manager of GSW Building Products; were inducted into the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association’s (CHHMA) ‘Industry Hall of Fame’ at the organization’s ‘2019 Spring Conference Centre.’ The hall was established in 1984 to recognize the achievements of the home improvement industry’s leaders and pioneers. Since that time 68 industry icons, inventors, business founders, and builders from the retail and manufacturing sectors have received the honour.

Warehouses Turn To Robots For Efficiency

By 2025, more than four million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses worldwide, up from just under 4,000 robotic warehouses in 2018, says data from ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm. The rapid rate of adoption will be driven by the need for flexible, efficient, and automated eCommerce fulfillment as same-day delivery becomes the norm. Automated guided vehicles (AGV) and autonomous mobile robots (AMR) goods-to-person systems can directly replace heavier mechanized automation that typically requires massive upfront investment and rigid physical infrastructure. Thanks to innovation in computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and robotic mechanics, robots are also becoming increasingly adept at performing traditionally harder-to-automate tasks. Economically viable mobile manipulation robots now enable a wider variety of individual items to be automatically picked and placed within a fulfillment operation. By combining mobile robots, picking robots, and even autonomous forklifts, fulfillment centres can achieve greater levels of automation in an efficient and cost-effective way.

Investment Fund Invests In TAMKO

Global investment fund Carlyle Global Partners (CGP) will become a long-term strategic minority investor in the asphalt roofing and building materials businesses of TAMKO Building Products. CGP is the long-duration investment fund of the Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. TAMKO says the partnership will position it, now and over the long-term, for faster growth and success. The company’s composite decking business, which is based in Missouri and manufactures products such as the Envision composite decking line, will continue to be owned and operated as a stand-alone business exclusively by the Humphreys family.

Gundersen Joins World And Main

Eric Gundersen is senior director, home environment, with World and Main, a distribution company. For over 20 years, he has worked in the field of product management and earned his experience and knowledge in companies such as American Standard, Masco Bath, and, most recently, Blanco America.

Steady Sales Increase For Acuity Brands

Building management solutions and lighting manufacturer Acuity Brands, Inc. had net sales of $854.4 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.7 per cent over net sales in the second quarter of 2018. Operating profit for the quarter increased 7.2 per cent to $95.9 million, or 11.2 per cent of net sales, compared with $89.5 million, or 10.8 per cent of net sales. Net income was $66.3 million, a decrease of 32 per cent compared with the prior-year period. Gross profit was $333.9 million, down 0.2 per cent compared to gross profit of $334.5 million last year. Gross profit margin decreased 110 basis points to 39.1 per cent compared with 40.2 per cent.

April 3, 2019

Vancouver Housing Market Continues Cooldown

The cooldown in the Vancouver, BCs housing market continued as March sales fell to a more than three-decade low, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Only 1,727 properties, of all types, changed hands last month. However, sales were up slightly when compared to the 1,484 transaction in February. REBGV says government policy has gone a long way in bringing about the slowdown even though employment and the economy in the region are strong. A key measure economists look at for clues about further declines is the sales-to-active listings ratio; anything below 12 signals downward pressure. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for March in Vancouver is 13.5 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 9.4 per cent for detached homes, 15.9 per cent for townhomes, and 17.2 per cent for apartments.

Long-range Wireless Could Impact Smart Home Market

Longer-range wireless technologies could have significant impact on the smart home market beyond reducing the need for electric wires, says a report by Navigant Research. The concept of wireless charging has existed since the 1890s, but the technology has largely been used for simple applications at very close ranges, such as powering electric toothbrushes. However, the technology has gained greater traction recently due to the commitment of smartphone brands to support wireless charging through mats. Advanced wireless charging technologies are emerging that enable longer ranges, up to 30 feet, with increased mobility. With buy-in from device manufacturers, wireless charging has the potential to become as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi, says the report. If longer-range wireless charging gains a foothold, it is likely to affect the adoption of new sensors to increase awareness about occurrences in the home, ease installation for new do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions, mitigate energy efficiency issues around standby power, and help impaired consumers keep devices charged more easily. This market faces significant challenges, however. Regulations, health and safety, consumer sentiment, and technology development will be crucial as wireless charging expands to gain and keep popularity.

JELD-WEN Completes VPI Acquisition

JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. has completed its previously announced acquisition of VPI Quality Windows, Inc., a vinyl window manufacturer for mid-rise multi-family, institutional, hospitality, and commercial projects.

Walmart Canada Sells Bank Division

Walmart Canada Corp. has divested its Walmart Canada Bank division to a partnership of Stephen Smith and affiliates of Centerbridge Partners, L.P., a private investment firm. Concurrent with closing, the Walmart Canada Bank entered into a program agreement with Walmart Canada to provide for the continued operation of existing and the introduction of new financial services products across Walmart Canada's footprint. The bank will be renamed Duo Bank.

Alain Gets Top Job

Benoit Alain is president and chief executive officer of Atis Group, a window and door manufacturer. Previously, he led the PRO division at Cascades.

April 2, 2019

Canadian Retail Sales Continue To Struggle

There has been no change from the downward momentum in new retail sales carried over from last year and the trend lines going into 2019 look particularly bad, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. His analysis of data released by Statistics Canada shows things are still getting softer. Total retail sales increased only 0.4 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending January, the weakest consecutive three-month performance in six years. He says a number of retailer types appear to be having a difficult time going into the new year. This includes electronics and appliance stores (sales down 8.8 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending January) and home furnishings stores (down 1.7 per cent). eCommerce, which represents about 2.9 per cent of total Canadian retail sales, were up 11.6 per cent year-over-year for the three-month period. This is the lowest three-month year-over-year gain on record, although it is still significantly higher than for location-based retail.

U.S. February Retail Sales Up 2.7 Per Cent

U.S. retail sales were down 0.7 per cent in February seasonally adjusted from January, but up 2.7 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, as delays and revisions related to the government shutdown continued to make comparisons difficult, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. As of February, the three-month moving average was up 2.2 per cent over the same period a year ago. February’s results build on improvement seen in January, which was up 1.9 per cent monthly and 4.8 per cent year-over-year. The results come as NRF forecasts that retail sales during 2019 will increase between 3.8 and 4.4 per cent to more than $3.8 trillion. Online and other non-store sales were up 10.1 per cent year-over-year and building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.5 per cent year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 2.7 per cent, while electronics and appliance stores were down 3.8 per cent.

Gap Remains Between Expectations And Experience

Marketers (34 per cent) are nearly twice as likely as consumers (18 per cent) to believe brands do an excellent job delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX), says a survey by RedPoint Global, a provider of customer data platforms and technologies. Ultimately, while brands might believe they are delivering a superior experience, the consumer perception says otherwise. Further emphasizing the gap, marketers consistently rate their performance higher than consumers do across all four core dimensions of CX: personalization, customer understanding, omnichannel/consistency, and privacy. For marketers, technology limitations contribute to the gap and continue to hinder their attempts to bridge strategy and execution. As a result, the majority of marketers report having a difficult time providing a seamless customer experience. At the same time, 63 per cent of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service and they feel like a brand recognizes them as an individual when they are sent unique special offers (52 per cent) and are recognized as a customer across all touchpoints (43 per cent). Yet, consumers say many brands are not keeping pace with personalization expectations. Interactions that consumers label “very frustrating” include brands sending them an offer for a recently purchased item (34 per cent), sending offers that aren’t relevant (33 per cent), or when a brand fails to recognize them as an existing customer (31 per cent).

Door Handles Market To Grow At 4.4 Per Cent CAGR

The global door handles market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4 per cent through 2027, says a report by Coherent Market Insights. Increasing global construction is key factor propelling the growth of the market, owing to the increasing number of doors used to complete the residential and commercial projects. Metal door handles dominated the global door handles market in 2017. While various metals such as Brass, Stainless Steel, Zinc and Black Iron are all used, brass has dominated the market due to its elegant and unique appearance. Stainless steel is also a popular choice due to its strong, resistant, and hygienic properties.

Hallas Leads Tyman

Jo Hallas is chief executive officer of Tyman plc, a supplier of engineered components to the door and window industry. Previously, she was business group director at Spectris plc.

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