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 22, 2019

Home Depot Has First Quarter Increase

The Home Depot had sales of $26.4 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2019, a 5.7 per cent increase over sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter increased 2.5 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings were $2.5 billion compared with net earnings of $2.4 billion, an increase of 4.5 per cent. Gross profit for the quarter was $9 billion, up 4.6 per cent over gross profit of $8.6 billion last year. Online sales increased approximately 23 per cent. Categories that performed above average included appliances, gardening, building materials, and décor/storage.

BMR Group Opens First Ontario Pro Store

BMR Group has opened its first Ontario BMR Pro, Griffith Building Supply, in Griffith, ON. Store owners John Lacourse and Derek McGrimmon unveiled the revamped 2,000-square-foot store at its grand opening on May 18. The interior and facade were modernized and streamlined and the retail area now offers more products and an expanded line of building materials. BMR Pro is a variation of the traditional BMR banner, developed to meet contractors’ and DIYer’s needs for both renovation and new building projects. The first BMR Pro in Quebec is currently under construction in Trois-Rivières and is scheduled to open in late summer.

Demand Grows For Hard Goods Fall Protection

While soft goods continue to dominate the fall protection market due to their low cost and ease of use, hard goods are experiencing a surge in demand due to the market shift from harnesses to self-retracting lifelines (SRLs), says a report by Frost & Sullivan. The ability of SRLs to arrest a fall quicker than harnesses has greatly accelerated their adoption. This demand, coupled with the rising awareness of the need for training services, is expected to drive the $802.4 million market toward $948.5 million by 2023. Fall protection vendors can make the most of the growth opportunities in the market by offering webbing technologies that not only have better load-bearing capacity but also aid ease of inspection. They can develop a smaller cross section of the webbing to put more on the reel to deliver lanyards and SRLs of varying lengths. As well, they can create housing made of thermoplastic, which is lightweight and enables easy visual inspection due to transparency. Vendors should provide training using virtual reality to help end users identify hazards and develop effective fall protection plans.

Employees Enjoy Multi-generational Workplace

Most people (71 per cent) find a cross-generational workplace is an asset to a company and 76 per cent of those workers enjoy working alongside colleagues of different ages, says a study by Ricoh Canada, Inc., a business management solutions company. Additionally, today's workforce is more united than ever in its demand for a seismic change in the way we all conduct business in the future. It's no longer enough to measure just financial success, with employees from across the generations calling on businesses to be a force for good and drive positive change in the world. Ricoh says the reason is that the line between personal and professional worlds is blurring as technology frees people from the traditional nine-to-five office set-up. As a result, more than three out of five workers believe that a four-day work week will be more likely due to Generation Z's use of technology to be more efficient. As well, employees are personally invested in their workplaces more than ever, with an average of 59 per cent across all generations viewing their work as a key factor in defining who they are as a person. Business values are important to employees and 65 per cent of workers across all generations say sustainability needs to be at the centre of business and product strategies in the next five to 10 years. This involves operating in harmony with the environment and demonstrating respect for your people as well as the wider societies in which a business operates.

GE Appliances Canada Partners With Toronto FC

GE Appliances Canada has signed a multi-year partnership with Toronto, ON’s professional soccer team, Toronto FC. “GE Appliances Canada is now one of Toronto FC's premium partners,” says Jeff Deline, chief revenue officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). "With this exciting announcement, our fans have much to look forward to that goes beyond the in-stadium experience, including GE Appliance's involvement with Toronto FC Juniors and Toronto FC Academy, our youth development programs, which will showcase to fans the company's commitment to growing the sport in Canada.” The multi-year partnership will start with in-stadium branding and signage at BMO Field and in-stadium activations with PR and digital media executions.

May 21, 2019

Trump Exempts Canada From Metal Tariffs

U.S. President Donald Trump will exempt Canada and Mexico from tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S. The tariffs were aimed at the imports of the two metals where the U.S. uses more than it produces. One order imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imported into the U.S., while the other put a 10 per cent levy on aluminum. “We're going to hold off the tariff on those two countries to see whether we can make the deal on NAFTA,” said Trump. The exemption is expected to allow officials from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to continue discussions about various issues around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), also referred to as USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada agreement) since negotiations to renew the agreement have been underway.

Small Gain In Manufacturing Sales

Manufacturing sales increased 2.1 per cent to $58 billion in March, following a 0.2 per cent decrease in February and a 0.9 per cent gain in January, says Statistics Canada. The transportation equipment, petroleum and coal product, and primary metal industries posted the largest gains. Overall, sales were up in 12 of 21 industries, representing 56.4 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. In volume terms, manufacturing sales rose 1.6 per cent. Primary metal sales rose 5.3 per cent to $4.4 billion in March, following two consecutive monthly declines. Electric equipment, appliance, and components sales declined 4.6 per cent. Sales were up in eight provinces in March, led by gains in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec. Sales declined in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Total inventories rose for the fourth consecutive month, up one per cent to $86.9 billion, with gains in 12 of 21 industries. The inventory level in March was 9.5 per cent higher than in March 2018.

Lowe’s To Acquire Retail Analytics Platform

Lowe's Companies, Inc. will acquire the Retail Analytics platform from Boomerang Commerce. The technology will be integrated into the retailer’s core retail business and bolster strategic and data-driven pricing and merchandise assortment decisions across its businesses. The platform provides a retail analytics solution that processes product and pricing datasets to convert them to insights and actions. The acquisition is designed to assist in modernizing and digitizing Lowe's approach to pricing. The acquisition includes the proprietary technology and tools for the Retail Analytics platform, but excludes customer contracts and related confidential information and data. After this acquisition, Boomerang Commerce's product CommerceIQ, which automates eCommerce growth for leading consumer brands, will operate as an independent business under the name.

West Fraser Curtails Production

West Fraser will temporarily curtail production for a duration of approximately two weeks at two British Columbia sawmills. The decision to implement this temporary reduction is due to the continued challenges of weak pricing in global lumber markets, high log costs, and constrained timber supplies. SPF lumber production is anticipated to be reduced by approximately 20 million board feet, in addition to previously announced permanent and temporary curtailments.

May 17, 2019

Tariffs Still Impacting Non-residential Construction Prices

As was the case during the last two quarters of 2018, prices for the construction of non-residential buildings increased more than construction prices for residential buildings in the first quarter of 2019, says Statistics Canada. The on-going U.S. steel tariffs imposed in June 2018 still had some lingering impacts on the construction costs of both types of structures. Although prices for steel and metal products are still high, they started to stabilize in the first quarter of 2019. Non-residential building construction costs increased 0.8 per cent in the quarter, following a 1.1 per cent gain in the fourth quarter of 2018, says Statistics Canada. Construction costs were up for all types of non-residential buildings in 10 of 11 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) surveyed, led by Vancouver, BC, where costs were up 1.1 per cent. For the 12-month period, prices for the construction of non-residential buildings were up 4.8 per cent. Construction costs for all types of residential buildings rose 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, following a 0.5 per cent increase in the previous quarter. Gains were led by the Montreal, QC, CMA where costs rose 1.5 per cent.

Deslongchamps Opens Third Store

Lowe's Canada is celebrating the grand opening of the RONA Deslongchamps store in the Algonquin community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec. This is dealer-owner Éric Deslongchamps’ first store in the Gatineau Valley, his two other stores being located in Rivière-Rouge and Mont-Laurier, in the Upper Laurentians. The building in which the store is located has been completely renovated; there is now a 9,000-square-feet sales floor, a 5,000-square-foot indoor lumber yard, and a 75,000-square-foot drive-through outdoor lumber yard. The retailer has over 18,000 products in stock, and thousands of additional products available on the RONA website. Consumers can also place their order online and pick it up in-store or take advantage of the parcel delivery service. Contractors and professionals in the area can also have their orders delivered directly to their worksite.

Stanley Black & Decker To Open Texas Plant

Stanley Black & Decker will expand its U.S. manufacturing footprint by opening a CRAFTSMAN manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, TX. The 425,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in late 2020. It will manufacture a wide range of CRAFTSMAN mechanics tools, including sockets, ratchets, wrenches, and general sets. The plant will also feature advanced manufacturing technologies to optimize productivity and sustainability, including pre-flattening steel technologies to improve material yield by almost 25 per cent, as well as water and energy management technologies to reduce resource consumption. Stanley Black & Decker purchased CRAFTSMAN in 2017 and the following year launched a refreshed brand identity, unveiling more than 1,200 new products. The brand is now on pace for an accelerated growth trajectory to reach $1 billion in incremental revenues by 2021.

BrainBox Launches Technology For Autonomous Buildings

BrainBox AI has launched a technology that combines deep learning, cloud-based computing, and algorithms to support a 24/7 self-operating building. BrainBox AI is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology designed specifically for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) in commercial buildings. The platform leverages AI to predict a building’s thermal load and enables the HVAC system to operate autonomously, in real-time, leading to energy and cost savings, a reduction in its carbon footprint, and increased occupant comfort. “AI-powered autonomous buildings are the next disruptive innovation that will enable significant energy savings in the real estate space,” says Sean Neely co-founder and CEO.

ENERGY STAR Recognizes Energy Efficiency Leaders

Samsung Electronics Canada, appliances; Ricoh Canada Inc., electronics; Centennial Windows & Doors, windows and doors; Venmar Ventilation ULC, heating and cooling equipment; L'Image Home Products Inc., lighting; and Daikin Industries, Ltd., air conditioning manufacturing; are winners of Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources ‘2019 ENERGY STAR Canada Participant Awards.’ The Home Depot Canada and GEM Windows & Doors were named retailers of the year. The awards ‒ now in the 16th year ‒ recognize organizations that have demonstrated excellence in promoting the most energy-efficient products and new homes in Canada. They represent the utilities, manufacturers, retailers, associations, and homebuilders that are helping Canadian consumers and businesses save money while also addressing climate change.

AERT Becomes MoistureShield

Oldcastle APG, a CRH company, has renamed its composite decking business. Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT) will now operate as MoistureShield. Oldcastle has added MoistureShield composite decking and railing products to its portfolio and this, along with the name and logo change, is part of the company’s strategy to succeed in the composite decking marketplace.

Reporting Method Impacts Leon’s Earnings

Leon's Furniture Limited had revenue of $499.7 million in the first quarter of 2019, a decrease over revenue of $500.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. Gross profit margin for the quarter increased to 43.26 per cent from 42.8 per cent year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA increased 90.7 per cent over the prior-year quarter. This increase was driven primarily by two factors, the implementation of a new financial reporting standard by the company and the improvement in gross margin percentage in the quarter. Adjusted net income was $13.9 million for the quarter, an increase of 20.6 per cent over the prior-year period.

May 16, 2019

Home Sales Up 3.6 Per Cent

Home sales rose by 3.6 per cent in April compared to March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). However, after having dropped in February to the lowest level since 2012, the rebound in sales over the past two months still leaves activity slightly below readings posted over most of the second half of 2018. April sales were up in about 60 per cent of all local markets, with the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) accounting for over half of the national gain. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 4.2 per cent year-over-year in April (albeit from a seven-year low for the month in 2018), the first year-over-year gain since December 2017 and the largest in more than two years. The increase reflects gains in the GTA and Montreal, QC, that outweighed declines in the British Columbia lower mainland. The number of newly-listed homes rose 2.7 per cent in April, building on March's 3.4 per cent increase. New supply rose in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by the GTA and Ottawa, ON. With sales up by more than new listings in April, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened marginally to 54.8 per cent from 54.3 per cent in March. This measure of market balance has remained close to its long-term average of 53.5 per cent since early 2018.

Tax Refunds, Weather Affect U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales were down 0.2 per cent in April seasonally adjusted from March, but up 5.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Slower tax refunds and weather are thought to be key factors driving the numbers. However, the fundamentals remain positive, particularly in long-term comparisons, says the NRF. As of April, the three-month moving average in retail sales was up 2.9 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 2.6 per cent in March. April’s results build on gains of 1.1 per cent month-over-month and one per cent year-over-year seen in March. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.3 per cent year-over-year, but down 1.9 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted, while furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.7 per cent year-over-year and unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted. Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.4 per cent year-over-year and down 1.3 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

New Richmond, QC, Gets RONA Affiliate Store

The Store Mag family-run business has joined Lowe’s Canada’s RONA affiliated dealer network. Originally a dealer specialized in window coverings, flooring, and home décor, the store has been redesigned to incorporate 3,000-square-feet of retail space. The business was founded in 1988 and has experienced continued growth and adapted to meet the changing needs of its customers. Throughout the years, it has added paint, home decor, and flooring departments to its offering in addition to renting space to Armoires Distinction, a local business specialized in the manufacturing of kitchen cabinets. The store’s transition to the RONA banner and its conversion to a hardware store mark a new stage in the family business’s history. The New Richmond, QC-store now offers 10,000 hardware products in-store and will soon offer the click-and-collect service where customers can buy online and pick up their order in the store. The store will also continue to offer various services it has had available over the past 30 years, including blind repairs.

CRA Expands Liaison Officer Service

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will expand its liaison officer service to improve services for small businesses. The Liaison Officer service uses an education-based approach to help small businesses meet their tax obligations by providing them with free in-person support and guidance. The expansion will open the door for small corporations to book visits and group seminars with one of over 130 liaison officers across the country. Since the launch of the service in 2014, more than 35,500 small businesses have benefited from access to support and education to help them fully understand their tax obligations. Previously, only unincorporated businesses and self-employed individuals could ask for this service. The expansion is one of the CRA’s priorities identified in Budget 2019.

CIBC Launches SmartBanking Platform

CIBC has launched a banking platform designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses run and grow their companies. ‘CIBC SmartBanking for Business’ is a digital solution that gives business owners a comprehensive view of their company's finances, including accounting and payroll insights, in one dashboard. The platform uses two-way data integration between CIBC and cloud accounting platforms, such as Intuit Canada, Xero, and Ceridian, to reduce manual data entry, simplify reconciliation, and improve accuracy. It is available online and exclusively for iPad to download free on the App Store, with no monthly access fee.

Taiga Has First-quarter Decrease

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had net sales of $287.4 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of 12 per cent from net sales of $324.6 million in the first quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely due to decreased selling prices for commodity products. Gross margin for the quarter decreased to $27.5 million from $30.8 million in the same period last year. Net earnings decreased to $4.7 million from $6.8 million primarily due to decreased gross margin. EBITDA was $11.1 million compared to $11.5 million.

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