Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


May 8, 2019

Home’s Harris Named ‘Young Retailer Of The Year’

Kevin Harris, store manager of Harris Home Hardware in London, ON, has been named one of the independent hardware industry’s seven ‘2019 Young Retailer of the Year’ honourees by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). The program, now in its 23rd year, identifies and promotes the next generation of aspiring independent home improvement retailers. It recognizes individual achievement by industry retailers age 35 and younger throughout Canada and the U.S. and chooses based on a number of criteria, including professional milestones, community engagement, continuing hardware industry education, and extracurricular activities. Harris began his home improvement career in 2010 when he joined his parents’ business as the store merchandiser. In 2013, he transitioned to store manager and in five years has doubled store sales.

Dodge Momentum Index Dips In April

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 0.5 per cent in April to 144.3 from the revised March reading of 145.1. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for U.S. non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The retreat in April was the result of the commercial component falling one per cent while the institutional component rose a scant 0.2 per cent. The index has clearly lost some impetus over the last 12 months. The overall momentum index is down 8.5 per cent since April 2018, with the commercial component 4.7 per cent lower and the institutional component 13.9 per cent lower. However, over the past several months it has moved in a crab-like fashion with neither strong gains or losses. This suggests that there continues to be a reasonably healthy number of projects in the planning pipeline to support a moderate level of construction activity in the coming months.

Liveability Factors Drive Home Buying

Access to shopping, dining, and green spaces top the list of liveability criteria for Canadians when shopping for a home, says a survey by RE/MAX. These are followed by proximity to public transit, work, and to preferred schools, as well as cultural and community centres, as the top five neighbourhood wants and expectations. RE/MAX says that the proximity and availability of these liveability factors is so important that Canadians spend more than two-thirds of their time in their own neighbourhood. This rate is higher among Baby Boomers compared to Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X Canadians. "While price and value are always top of mind for buyers, there are some aspects about a home that you can't change," says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "These liveability factors are what make your home more than just the place you live. They are at the heart of the Canadian experience."

OSB Prices Affect Norbord Earnings

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $42 million in the first quarter of 2019 compared to $170 million in the first quarter of 2018. The decrease was primarily due to lower North American oriented strand board (OSB) prices. North American operations generated adjusted EBITDA of $23 million compared to $156 million in the same quarter last year. The company had an adjusted loss of $2 million for the quarter compared to adjusted earnings of $26 million in the year-ago period. The company says the North American benchmark OSB prices weakened due to pullback in demand from homebuilding.

Sales Decrease At Canfor Pulp

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. had sales of $1.14 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a decrease over sales of $1.23 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The company had an operating loss for the quarter of $69.9 million versus operating income of $203.8 million in the year-ago period, while adjusted operating income was $5 million versus $238.7 million. The company had a net loss of $89.5 million versus a net income of $112.2 million last year. Adjusted net loss was $.29 million versus an adjusted net income of $1.13 million. The company says duties and write-downs impacted performance.

May 7, 2019

Home Sales Strong In GTA

A total of 9,042 residential sales were completed in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in April, a 16.8 per increase over April 2018, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up 11.3 per cent compared to March. New listings were also up year-over-year by eight per cent. However, the annual growth rate for new listings was much lower than that reported for sales. This suggests that market conditions continued to tighten which points toward an acceleration in price growth. “While sales were up year-over-year in April, it is important to note that they remain well-below April levels for much of the past decade,” says Jason Mercer, chief market analyst with TREB. “Many potential home buyers arguably remain on the sidelines as they reassess their options in light of the OSFI-mandated two percentage point stress test on mortgages. Longer-term borrowing costs have trended lower this year and the outlook for short-term rates, for which the Bank of Canada holds the lever, is flat to down this year.”

Quincaillerie J.M. Rioux Joins RONA

Forestville, QC-based Quincaillerie J.M. Rioux has joined Lowe’ Canada’s RONA affiliated dealer network. Founded in 1986 by Jean-Marie and Denise Rioux, the family business is now operated by the daughter of the founders and her spouse, Marie-Claude Rioux and David Martel, who have chosen to partner with RONA for the next phase of the hardware store’s development. With a surface area of 3,500 square feet, the store will be redesigned in the coming months to improve the customer experience and increase product selection in-store. The store will remain open during the renovation.

Immigration Key To Labour Shortage

Immigration is the central solution to counter the impending labour market crunch, says the Conference Board of Canada. By 2030, all 9.2 million of Canada's Baby Boomers will have reached retirement age ‒ placing Canada under economic and fiscal pressure. The board’s report, ‘Can’t Go It Alone,’ shows that between 2018 and 2040, 13.4 million workers will exit the labour force, far greater than the 11.8 million that will leave Canadian schools to replace them. Due to its aging population and low fertility rate, Canada needs new sources of talent to enter the labour force to maintain its high living standards. Aside from immigration, improved participation rates could add 2.2 million workers to the labour force by 2040, including more women, Indigenous people, and persons with disabilities. However, immigration will remain a formative solution, accounting for all of Canada's net labour force growth ‒ 3.7 million workers ‒ and one-third of the economic growth rate between 2018 and 2040.

Residential Products Lead Trex Sales

Trex Company, Inc. had consolidated net sales of $180 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of five per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2018. Residential products net sales increased seven per cent to $165 million while commercial products contributed an additional $14 million, compared to $16 million in the year ago-quarter. Consolidated gross margin was 38.6 per cent for the quarter, representing gross margins of 40.2 per cent and 20.5 per cent, respectively, from the residential and commercial product segments. The company had net income of $32 million compared to $37 million in the year-ago period.

Renoworks Has Profit

Renoworks Software Inc. had revenue of $938,133 for the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 20 per cent over revenue of $784,545 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Revenue for design services were $217,510 in the quarter versus $151,367 in the year-ago period.

May 6, 2019

Companies Not Prepared To Recover From Crises

The majority of Canadian companies say they aren't adequately prepared to recover their reputation in the aftermath of a crisis, a volatile and complex situation that interferes with an organization's ability to carry on normal business, says a 2019 crisis readiness survey by Provident Communications Inc. and Angus Reid Global. Less than half (40 per cent) of Canadian business decision-makers say their company has a reputation recovery plan included in their overarching crisis communications strategy, even though roughly 60 per cent say that damage to a company's reputation is the most difficult aspect of a crisis from which to recover. Other factors that are difficult for a company to bounce back from include a decline in morale and negative media coverage. Advance planning and preparation for potential crises is critical, says the survey.

RONA Val-des-Monts Opens Doors

Lowe’s Canada is celebrating the grand opening of the RONA Val-des-Monts affiliated dealer, located in Val-des-Monts, QC. The 22,000-square-foot building, which is almost double the size of the old store, boasts a 7,000-square-foot indoor lumber yard and a 60,000-square-foot drive-through outdoor lumber yard. This extra space allows the store to offer 10,000 additional products, for a total of 17,500 products for professional and retail customers. The store also offers estimating, cutting, and propane tank refill services, as well as delivery and online orders.

Marvin Merges With Integrity

Marvin Windows and Doors is merging with Integrity Windows and Doors for a brand that will be known as Marvin. The company has reorganized its product portfolio and developed several internal initiatives to continue developing new products. The Marvin brand now represents all fenestration products previously known as Marvin Windows and Doors and Integrity Windows and Doors, with both of those brand logos now retired. The refreshed Marvin brand logo includes a bold font and an updated yellow rose. The yellow rose was first used by Marvin in 1968 and is an identifiable icon for the company. The company now features three product collections – the Signature Collection, the Elevate Collection, and the Essential Collection. The company has also developed its in-house Marvin Design Lab which will help reshape its approach to innovation and define the company’s purpose and values.

Huttig Has Weak Quarter

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $197.4 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of 0.3 per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2018. Millwork product sales remained consistent in the quarter as compared to the first quarter of 2018; building products sales increased 2.9 per cent; and wood product sales decreased 18.6 per cent. The company had a gross margin of $37.4 million compared to $38.7 million year-over-year. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 18.9 per cent compared to 19.5 per cent a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $300,000 versus earnings of $1.4 million and the company had a net loss of $3.2 million versus a net loss of $500,000 last year.

Strong Revenue For Atlas Engineered Products

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) had revenue of $13.4 million for its seven-month 2018 year-end, which compares to revenue of $11.6 million in the 12-month previous year-end. The company has changed its fiscal year in order to better align its financial reporting with the calendar year and that of its industry peers. Gross profit for the seven-month year-end was $3.1 million compared to gross profit of $2.9 million in the previous 12-month year. Gross margin was 23.3 per cent compared to 24.8 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was ($658,423) versus $1.4 million and the company had a net loss of $1.3 million versus a net loss of $5 million in the previous year. AEP is a newly-listed company that acquires and operates Canadian truss and engineered products operations.

May 3, 2019

Walmart To Invest In Canadian Stores

Walmart Canada plans to invest over $200 million in its store network, with a focus on refurbishing and refreshing 31 stores across the country over the next year. These updates are the latest in a series of store investments, building on the retailer's $175 million in updates to its store network in its last fiscal year. Over the last five years, the company has invested over $1 billion in its Canadian store network. The investments will strengthen the company's extensive store network and provide a better in-store experience for consumers. The company will expand its fresh food Supercentre format to more locations and upgrade systems for a more seamless experience for customers ordering on the website and picking up at their local store.

Montreal Residential Sales Rise Strong

A total of 5,973 residential sales were concluded in the Montreal census metropolitan area (CMA) in April, a significant increase of 11 per cent over April of last year, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). All six areas that make up the Montreal CMA registered an increase in sales in April, with the South Shore leading the way with an 18 per cent jump in sales, followed by the North Shore (16 per cent), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (13 per cent), Vaudreuil-Soulanges (10 per cent), the Island of Montreal (six per cent), and Laval (one per cent). Sales increased for all property categories, led by condominiums at 17 per cent, then plexes at 12 per cent, and single family homes at six per cent. There were 21,111 active residential listings in the Montreal CMA in April, a 17 per cent decrease compared to one year earlier.

Lowe’s Canada Recognized For Sustainability Commitment

Lowe’s Canada was named a ‘2018 Leader in Sustainability’ by Call2Recycle Canada, a national consumer battery collection and recycling program. The annual ‘Leader in Sustainability Awards’ recognize organizations for their environmental commitment and collection of the highest volume of used batteries in 2018 through Call2Recycle. Lowe’s Canada’s corporate and affiliated dealer network across Canada collected over 100,000 kilograms of batteries, thereby contributing to the diversion of 2.7 million kilograms of batteries from Canadian landfills through the Call2Recycle program last year. In addition to recovering batteries, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Lowe’s stores also make recovery programs for fluorescent light bulbs and paint available to customers. In 2018, 3,061 tons of paint were recycled throughout the network. At a corporate level, Lowe’s Canada also recycles wood, building materials, plastics, cardboard, drywall, Styrofoam, and other waste resulting from its operations. It is also putting in place and enhancing energy efficiency and waste management programs to further reduce its environmental footprint.

Technology Plays Key Role In Customer Experience

The store is still a major part of the customer journey, with 79 per cent of consumers frequently purchasing merchandise in a store, says a report by BRP. ‘SPECIAL REPORT: The State of Store Technology’ shows that the point-of-sale (POS) or commerce platform plays a critical role in shaping the shopping experience. In fact, 96 per cent of customers say ease of checkout and payment are important when choosing where to shop. More than 55 per cent say that in-store technologies like self-checkout, product locator, inventory lookup, and endless aisle are important factors when choosing where to shop and 68 per cent are likely to choose a store offering ‘buy anywhere, ship anywhere’ services over one that doesn’t. As for retailers, 53 per cent are focused on adding additional capabilities to existing POS systems and 48 per cent plan to replace their POS within three years to improve the checkout experience. As retailers make decisions on new POS systems, 75 per cent indicate they plan to have cloud-based solutions within three years. Ninety-four per cent of retailers plan to address holistic customer engagement with the implementation of a single unified commerce platform.

KIOTI Ships First Zero Turn Radius Mowers

KIOTI Tractor, a division of Daedong-USA, Inc., has started shipping its inaugural Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) mower line to dealerships across North America. The mower line features 12 models across four series ‒ ZXR, ZXR SE, ZXC, and ZXC SE ‒ for commercial and residential applications. Engines range from 21- to 27-hp, with six models developed for professionals and six for property owners and hobby farmers. Consumers can choose from 48-, 54-, or 60-inch mower decks, each with a fabricated, reinforced 10-gauge steel deck and standard notch blades.

Heckes To Lead Masonite

Howard C. Heckes will be president and chief executive officer of Masonite International Corporation, effective June 3. He brings more than three decades of leadership, operational, sales, and marketing experience to the role. He currently serves as CEO of Energy Management Collaborative.

Installation Services Drive Lumber Liquidators Sales

Lumber Liquidators had net sales of $266 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.7 per cent over net sales in the first quarter of 2017. Net sales in comparable stores decreased 0.8 per cent year-over-year as a decline in merchandise sales was partially offset by the expansion of installation services. Gross profit decreased 1.4 per cent in the quarter to $94 million as compared to the comparable period in 2018. Gross margin decreased to 35.2 per cent from 36.3 per cent. The company had an operating loss of $3.4 million compared to an operating loss of $1.4 million in the year-ago period. Net loss was $4.9 million versus a net loss of $2 million.

Armstrong Net Sales Rise

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $242.1 million for the first quarter of 2019, a 6.5 per cent increase over net sales of $227.3 million in the first quarter of 2018. Operating income for the quarter was $54.7 million compared to $49.6 million, an increase of 10.3 per cent. Earnings from continuing operations were $36.4 million versus $41.2 million, a decrease of 11.7 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA increased 16.9 per cent to $92 million, year-over-year. Net sales for the mineral fibre segment increased 3.1 per cent year-over-year and net sales for the architectural segment increased 24 per cent.

May 2, 2019

Loyalty Program Keeps Canadian Tire Top Brand

Canadian Tire Corporation has been named Canada's strongest retail brand, scoring well in brand investment measures, as reflected in its successful brand promotion and marketing campaigns, says Brand Finance in its ‘Canada 100 2019’ report. CTC’s overall portfolio of brands, including SportChek and Gas+, is valued at $5.2 billion. With the successful acquisition of Helly Hansen, this number is only set to grow, the report says. The retailer’s loyalty and credit card program, Triangle, is part of the company’s strategy to attract new customers, increase engagement and relevance, and create more royal lifetime customers, says Susan O’Brien, senior vice-president of marketing at Canadian Tire. “We are putting the customer at the heart of our business strategy and decision-making, bringing them the latest and greatest products and engaging them through exciting marketing campaigns like ‘We Do New,’ which puts a spotlight on the hottest innovative products. We do believe our strength in building and marketing our owned brands has been key to helping reinvent the Canadian Tire brand over the years.”

CFIB Wants Carbon Tax Grant Details

Small businesses have gone a full month without information about the grants and rebates promised to them under the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which has been asking the government for details about the grants and rebates without answer. “Since April 1, the government has had time to allocate millions to big companies like Loblaws for retrofits, but small firms have heard nothing about the sliver of funding that was to be available to them,” says Dan Kelly, president, CFIB. “Small firms are already paying the tax and are reporting they'll have to absorb a majority of the new costs. This continued lack of clarity is adding to the unfairness of the situation.” He says nearly half of the revenues of the carbon tax will come from small businesses, but they can expect to receive just seven per cent back in the form of yet-to-be-determined grants and rebates. CFIB is asking the government to cancel the federal carbon tax and work with the four provinces on approaches to climate change that do not negatively affect small businesses, particularly before any consideration is given to expanding it to Alberta.

Initiative Seeks To Change How Building Products Are Sold

Paradigm, a software provider for the building products industry, is developing a data science initiative to help the way building products are sold. The product aims to help customers configure, price, and order exterior building products by visualizing them on their homes. By leveraging data from images of houses around the world, Paradigm's technology can identify exterior products on a house. Then, an image captured by a dealer or homeowner is transformed into a configurable picture that can be used to quickly and interactively pick, place, and price multiple options of building products. Paradigm is also pushing the technology to instantly, automatically, and accurately measure those products. The technology, although still being refined, should be available commercially this year.

SMBs Increase Sales Via

More than 30,000 Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) collectively exceeded over $900 million in sales on stores in 2018, including a 30 per cent increase in sales year-over-year during the November-December holiday period. In addition, Canadian SMBs had sales of over $2 billion to customers abroad in 2018, leveraging Amazon's sales tools and logistics services. In 2018, 45 per cent of the Canadian SMBs that sell in Amazon's stores also exported their products to the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the world. Amazon opened its shopping platform to selling partners in 2001.

Weyerhaeuser Has Net Loss

Weyerhaeuser Company had a net loss of $289 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease compared to net earnings of $269 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net sales were $1.6 billion, down from net sales of $1.9 billion in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $365 million versus $544 million. The timberlands segment had net sales of $556 million; the real estate, energy, and natural resources segment had net sales of $118 million; and wood products had net sales of $1.1 billion; all three up over the previous quarter.

Poor Performance Leads To 3M Restructuring

3M had sales of $7.9 billion for the first quarter of 2019. a decrease of five per cent over sales of $8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Total sales grew 0.3 per cent in healthcare, with declines of 1.9 per cent in consumer, 4.2 per cent in safety and graphics, 6.6 per cent in industrial, and 11.8 per cent in electronics and energy. Total sales grew 0.1 per cent in the U.S. with declines of 6.5 per cent in Latin America/Canada. Net income was $891 million versus $601 million. The company says that due to disappointing performance, it has stepped up actions, including restructuring, to drive productivity, reduce costs, and increase cash flow.

Conference Covers Brand-building

Point-of-sale software provider Lightspeed is holding a one-day conference, ‘Lightspeed Connect,’ to help independent retailers grow their businesses. The event will offer interactive sessions with industry experts, new technology demonstrations, networking opportunities, tips on how to grow a brand, and insights into the latest industry trends. A panel discussion will feature Montreal brands Off The Hook and Grumman 78 discussing the journey of growing their businesses. It takes place June 11 at the Gare Viger in Montreal, QC. For more information, visit Lightspeed Connect

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