Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


June 4, 2019

Product Ratings Important But Underused

Globally, 54 per cent of companies consider product ratings to be very important to their business, yet only 15 per cent have a comprehensive and effective ratings strategy, says a study by marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners. The study, titled ‘Trend Radar 2019 – The Rating Economy,’ says product ratings are highly important to consumers when making decisions in the purchasing process. “Companies are ... starting to realize the importance of product ratings, but are still at an early stage in terms of implementing relevant measures. A lot of companies don’t really know where to begin,” says Dr. Georg Tacke, CEO of Simon-Kucher & Partners. Larger companies tend to be the frontrunners when it comes to ratings strategies, particularly companies that have the highest share of online sales. However, 81 per cent of all companies surveyed say ratings are important for brand building, while 74 per cent say it is important for lead generation. Eighty-two per cent of companies say good ratings increase sales volume while 68 per cent say they make higher prices possible.

Castle Wild4Wheels Contest Is Open

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd.’s ‘Wild4Wheels’ contest is open and runs until August 1. This in-store contest offers Castle customers a chance to win one of three recreational vehicles – a three-wheel motorcycle, a recreational ATV, or a dirt bike. Customers can fill out ballots in Castle stores across Canada and online and the winners will be selected by random draw on August 15.

Lowe's Canada Banners Raise Funds For Children

Lowe's Canada presented $1,125,000 to Children's Miracle Network and Opération Enfant Soleil following a successful second fundraising campaign. From March 24 to April 30, Lowe's, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada corporate stores and participating affiliated dealer stores collected donations from their customers to support 14 children's hospitals across the country. On June 1 and 2, it participated in the Opération Enfant Soleil telethon in Quebec and the BC Children's Hospital Foundation Miracle Weekend telethon in British Columbia to present these organizations with cheques in the amount of $550,000 and $83,000, respectively. Over a period of five weeks, employees from participating stores organized various fundraising events such as special days with guest mascots and benefit barbecues to raise money for sick children. In addition to mobilizing its network of stores, it was again the official provider of building materials for the Maison Enfant Soleil by Bonneville. Part of the amount contributed comes from the corporate donation it makes as part of this commitment, as well as from the sale of tickets for the draw to win the Maison Enfant Soleil by Bonneville at participating RONA and Reno-Depot stores in Quebec.

DEWALT Launches 2019 Tour And Sweepstakes

DEWALT’s ‘2019 TOUGH IN THE NORTH’ tour and sweepstakes is open with offers on tools and chances for prizes for end users across Canada. In the sweepstakes, three Canadians will win a grand prize of a two-year lease on their choice of a 2019 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew 4x4 or a 2019 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4. The approximate value of the grand prize truck lease prize is $25,000. Winners that choose not to accept the truck lease grand prize can opt to receive a DEWALT Tool Prize Pack instead, valued at $10,000 retail. The event runs through October 31. For more information, including locations of the tour, visit ‘DEWALT Tour

Canfor Completes First Phase Purchase

Canfor Corporation has completed the first phase purchase of 49 per cent of South Carolina-based Elliott Sawmilling Co. Inc. Elliott has a production capacity in excess of 210 million board feet and the sawmill consists of both large and small log lines. The balance will be acquired in one year.

LG Opens High-tech Manufacturing Facility

LG Electronics has opened a million-square-foot home appliance manufacturing facility in Clarksville, TN, where the company is now producing washing machines for the U.S. market. The high-tech factory is equipped with state-of-the-art automation, robotics, and engineered systems integration, allowing LG to change between models in a matter of minutes. An in-house warehouse stages the completed units that are ready for shipment to LG distribution centres and dealers' warehouses, shortening the supply chain. "

Petersson Heads Hempel

Lars Petersson will be CEO of coatings supplier Hempel, effective July 1. He joined the company in 2015 as group chief operating officer. Prior to that, he was with European window manufacturer Inwido and flooring company Tarkett.

Williams-Sonoma Revenue Increases

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. had net revenue of $1.241 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 3.2 per cent over net revenue in the first quarter of 2018. Comparable brand revenue increased 3.2 per cent year-over-year. GAAP operating margin was six per cent. The company had gross profit of $444 million, or 35.8 per cent of revenues, for the quarter, compared to gross profit of $432 million and 35.9 per cent of revenues in the year-ago period. Net earnings were $52.7 million compared to $45.2 million.

June 3, 2019

Canada To Help Small Businesses With Energy Savings

The government of Canada has reduced the small business tax rate to nine per cent and is making other investments to help small- and medium-sized businesses reduce pollution, save energy, and boost their productivity. The programs, subject to the passage of the Budget Implementation Act and subsequent specifications by the minister of finance, include refunds on the cost of new energy-saving equipment such as heating and cooling equipment and high energy boilers, and funding towards eligible costs for energy-efficient retrofits and other projects to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy use, and save money. The government is also establishing an external advisory committee, which will provide advice to help refine and improve the ongoing delivery of Climate Action Incentive Fund programs for small- and medium-sized businesses. In addition, the government will open up a call for proposals for smaller projects from small businesses across the country under the Low Carbon Economy Fund Partnerships stream. Approximately $10 million will be available to help those businesses make investments to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution, and save money.

La Coop Alliance Opens Saint-Georges BMR Store

La Coop Alliance has opened a BMR store in Saint-Georges, QC. The hardware store is a merger of two BMR stores in the city and has an updated façade equipped with a large window. The store has been redesigned to reflect the growing popularity of eCommerce, with a designated space for in-store pickups. La Coop Alliance is based in Quebec and has 753 members,175 employees, and a retail presence with five BMR stores and one Super-Soir convenience store. It is also involved in animal food, crop production, propane, and petroleum products.

Castle Completes ‘Western Buying Expo’

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. held its ‘Western Buying Expo’ in Vancouver, BC. The event was held at the Pacific Gateway Hotel and hosted over 30 member locations and 30 vendor partners and generated record sales. The event offers a one-on-one format that gives attendees the opportunity to connect with key vendor partners and take advantage of expo special buys. The next expo is the ‘Central Buying Expo,’ to be held June 5 to 7 at the JW Marriott – The Rosseau Muskoka in Minett, ON. The ‘Atlantic Buying Expo’ takes place August 7 to 9 at the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax, NS.

Fleets Not Leveraging Data

“Many fleet executives today are still lacking access to a complete picture of data and analysis from sophisticated business intelligence tools that help everyone across the organization make critical decisions to operate more efficiently and lower bottom line costs,” says Jim Griffin, chief operations officer and chief technology officer for Fleet Advantage. In fact, research by the fleet analytics and financing company says there are still fleets today that aren’t leveraging data to see their total cost of ownership (TCO), many can’t use the data because it lives in disparate sources, and others have no way of sharing reports across the organization. While big data has been increasingly utilized across virtually every industry, approximately 33 per cent of fleet operations say they still do not have a software platform that allows them to manage their fleet’s TCO all in one place. A quarter of fleet executives (26 per cent) say their current software analysis platform does not combine financial and operations data together; another 48 per cent say their current platform does not provide benchmarking reports for the industry or other similar fleets; and approximately 62 per cent say their platform does not produce a profit and loss statement for each truck in their fleet.

ICFs Reduces Envelope Building Time

NUDURA Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) provide energy-efficiency, prevent heat loss, eliminate thermal bridging, and provide safety and comfort for building envelopes. The ICFs consist of two panels of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and are connected with the company’s patented web system that is made of 100 per cent recycled material. NUDURA forms are stacked, then steel reinforced and filled with concrete, which completes the building envelope of the home in one building step. The structures can withstand extreme weather conditions – they can endure winds of up to 402 kph (250 mph), and the non-toxic fire retardant expanded polystyrene foam provides a fire protection rating of up to four hours. Inside the home, the ICFs eliminate air gaps, minimizing the potential formation of mould growth and draft paths. The patented foam interlock allows the form to be four-way reversible, almost eliminating waste. It is also 100 per cent recyclable.

Industry Members Honoured At CPCA Conference

Fred Veghelyi, OPC Polymers; Mannie Cheung, Product Care Association; Claude Brosseau, PPG Canada; Kamlaish Mudhar, Univar; Mike Lynch, Cloverdale Paint; Steve Wolinsky, Rustoleum Canada; Luc Pepin, PPG Canada; and Lysane Lavoie, Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) were all honoured with the ‘CPCA Industry Award’ at its annual conference on May 23. The award recognizes people who have made significant contributions to the Canadian paint and coatings industry. Three member companies were also recognized for important anniversaries with Product Care celebrating its 25th and Chromaflo Technologies and Schwartz Chemical celebrating 50 years in business. As well, Tim Vogel, CEO of Cloverdale Paint and chair of CPCA, was recognized for his service as chair of the CPCA board over the last four years.

Strong Sales For Costco

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $33.96 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 7.4 per cent compared to net sales of $31.62 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales at Canadian stores increased 1.3 per cent year-over-year (5.1 per cent adjusted comparable sales). eCommerce sales for the quarter were up 22 per cent over the same period a year ago. The company had net income of $906 million compared to net income of $750 million last year. Costco has 100 stores in Canada.

May 31, 2019

Retail Sales Growth Struggles Forward

Retail sales growth for March was slow, but also had modest improvement over even lower growth of prior months, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total retail sales were up 1.7 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019 on a not seasonally adjusted basis. “While this was the weakest first quarter in four years, it still edged ahead of the fourth quarter of 2018 when growth was a mere 1.3 per cent. But even if things are looking up, there’s still a long way to go,” he says. The three-month trend has taken a modest upswing; however it's still running below the 12-month trend, which is due to weaken further but at a decelerating rate. “At this point, it's difficult to tell how the year 2019 will end up.” Overall, eCommerce represented about 3.3 per cent of total Canadian retail sales in the first quarter. eCommerce sales were up 19.3 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter, significantly higher than for location-based retail which gained 1.7 per cent.

RBC Ventures Acquires Smart Reno

RBC Ventures Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada, has acquired Smart Reno, a home renovation marketplace. Currently available in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, Smart Reno connects consumers to qualified renovation professionals. “Our portfolio of ventures already helps Canadians rent, buy, move into, and maintain a home, and now we're helping Canadians improve their home,” says Simon Maycock, vice-president and head of home solutions, RBC Ventures. “We see an incredible opportunity to transform the home improvement industry and help bring peace of mind and differentiated value to both consumers and renovation professionals with Smart Reno.” In addition to the online home renovation marketplace that connects consumers and renovation professionals, Smart Reno has also developed lead management software that is used by home improvement retailers to manage installation services. As part of RBC Ventures, Smart Reno will scale its operations across Canada, expand the capabilities of its home renovation marketplace, and further improve the user experience for consumers and renovation professionals.

Gerber Opens B.C. Distribution Centre

Gerber Plumbing Fixtures LLC opened its western distribution centre in the lower mainland of British Columbia. The facility, which became fully operational in the first quarter of 2019, is designated to provide additional support to Gerber partners in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The addition of a distribution centre in this region is expected to ease the load on the primary warehouse located in Montreal, QC, increase overall efficiencies, and improve customer service. Gerber is an international manufacturer and distributor of kitchen and bathroom plumbing products and operates facilities in nine countries including Canada.

Schluter-Systems Launches App

Tile and stone installation system manufacturer Schluter-Systems has launched the Schluter-APP, which puts all of the company’s resources in one place for use on any iPhone or Android mobile device. It can be used for every facet of project planning, from measuring the space all the way through to pricing and connecting with an authorized dealer. Working from the app, a smartphone can be used to scan and measure a room during the planning phase of the project. The data collected can be used to configure and customize the layout and build a personalized project plan. The results can then be shared electronically with a client or co-worker. Products can be configured right down to the size, colour, format, and quantity and can also be priced immediately. Product selections will also prompt video recommendations so installers can get installation guidance. For floor warming projects, the built-in DITRA-HEAT estimator will help with product selection and then provide an estimate for the materials required. The app also provides access to the network of authorized Schluter dealers across North America.

Hunter Douglas Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Hunter Douglas, a manufacturer of custom window treatments, is celebrating 100 years in business. The company’s story began in 1919 when Henry Sonnenberg founded a machine tool manufacturing company in Europe. His small business gradually expanded and evolved to become the business it is today, manufacturing window treatments and architectural products.

Tree Canada Honours IKEA Canada

To mark over 23 years of partnership, Tree Canada honoured IKEA Canada with its ‘Ultimate Award.’ Since the partnership began in 1996, IKEA Canada co-workers have planted more than 55,000 trees, including 18,700 seedlings, and the company has contributed over $1 million toward greening local communities. This spring, IKEA Canada co-workers will join Tree Canada in 19 different communities across the country to plant trees and shrubs as part of the retailer's ongoing commitment to people and planet.

Kingfisher Launches ‘Simplified’ Home Improvement Brand

British multi-national retailer Kingfisher has launched GoodHome, an international brand intended to simplify home improvement and make it accessible to everyone, the company says. The launch marks the latest step in Kingfisher’s transformation strategy. Over the past three years, it has unified its supply chain, developed new products and services, and invested in its digital channels. GoodHome is a convenience store format to make things simpler for customers, with a focus on the 11 most common home improvement projects. It will feature a number of store concepts including an express format. The first store has opened in the UK, with express store trials to open in the UK and France later this year.

Home Hardware Realigns LBM Merchant Team

Home Hardware Stores Limited has realigned its LBM merchandise manager roles. Effective June 3, Susan Ryan is merchandise manager – millwork, a newly created role; Mark Pardue is merchandise manager – building materials; Doug Shantz is director, merchandise, LBM; Tracey Sheehan is administrative assistant, merchandise LBM; Terri Grant is pricing analyst, merchandise, LBM; Brian Grant is commodity manager Ontario, forest product; Bonnie McBeth and Harry Nederpelt are commodity traders, forest product, Ontario; Ben Parsons and Rick Chambers are commodity traders, forest product, western; Francois Lauzon is commodity trader, forest product, Quebec; Julie Walters is commodity trader, forest product, Atlantic; Kirk Ellis and Tina Rode are co-ordinators, building materials; Andrew Dickson, Terry Reid, and Kim Gerry are associates, building materials; Jim Fulmore is co-ordinator, millwork; Jennifer Byers-Mackenzie, Melanie Tindall, and Matt Robinson are associates, millwork; Ron VanRootselaar is merchandise manager, cabinetry and flooring; Lisa Meyer and Cathy Kelly are co-ordinators, cabinetry and flooring; Sandy Hamilton is merchandise manager, allied products; Tina Daquano and Andrew Coghlin are associates, allied products; Daniel Verville is merchandise manager, Quebec; Stephane Boyer is co-ordinator, Quebec; and Melina Roch is associate, Quebec.

May 30, 2019

Walmart Canada Launches Urban Supercentre

Walmart Canada unveiled its urban supercentre concept in Toronto, ON. The store features ‘fast lane’ checkout technology to fully integrate the My Walmart app so customers can scan their own products as they shop. Store associates – including full- and part-time associates – work alongside state-of-the-art technology to help make shopping as easy and convenient as possible for customers. A second supercentre concept will launch in Thornhill, ON, next year and best practices will be used in future store renovations. The store also offers an array of licensee concepts based on Walmart's evolving licensee strategy. At the Toronto location, partnerships include Freshii, the Party Shop, the UPS store, MINISO, Naoki Sushi, and McDonald's. The store also features a dedicated eCommerce section via ‘extended aisles,’ a community hub with seating, a grocery section, dedicated family rooms, and an enhanced design and layout based on innovations from previous Walmart Canada prototypes.

Tariff Lifts Will Impact Consumers

The lifting of the tariffs on aluminum and steel shipped from Canada to the U.S. may end up costing consumers, says Derick Vinthers, vice-president, sales at Bailey Metal Products, Limited. In an eMail to customers, he said mills in Canada owned by U.S. or global corporations are expected to fully leverage their geographical locations and capacities toward greater profit. “The speculation is that Canadian mills will ship a greater amount of their production capacity to the U.S. to take advantage of the spread. As a result, Canadian markets may experience supply shortages and domestic mills will increase their prices. Furthermore, offshore imports will be limited due to current and future CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) imposed tariffs and quotas. Canadian mills have already begun to announce aggressive price increases as a result of the removal of these tariffs and we expect this will continue.” Vinthers cautions customers to plan accordingly by allowing for price escalations in their long range quotations.

Retailers Honoured At RCC ‘STORE 2019’

Lowe’s Canada, IKEA Canada, Canadian Tire Corporation, Walmart Canada, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), and Kitchen Stuff Plus were among the winners of the Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘2019 Excellence in Retailing Awards.’ Presented at RCC’s STORE 2019 conference May 28, Lowe’s Canada was recognized for philanthropic leadership; IKEA Canada for environmental leadership; Canadian Tire for in-store merchandising; Walmart Canada for health, safety, and wellness; FCL for retail marketing; and Kitchen Stuff Plus for retail marketing. As well, Willy Kruh, partner, global chair consumer and retail, with KPMG, was awarded the ‘2019 Canadian Hall of Fame Award’ for 30 years of outstanding service leading the retailer and consumer brands around the world and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to advancing and promoting retail as a career.

Drummond Building Supplies Celebrates 60 Years

Drummond Building Supplies is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The BMR member, now run by the third Drummond generation, says its success is built not only on selling renovation materials and supplies, but on its strong relationship with customers. The store, based in Marmora, ON, started in 1959 by Bob Drummond and his father, James, who brought lumber they cut, sawed, and milled to the present-day property to sell to the community from their truck. The retailer expanded over the years and joined Group BMR in 2006. Today, it offers 10,000-square-feet of sales area.

Energizer To Sell European Consumer Battery Business

Energizer Holdings, Inc. will sell its Europe-based Varta consumer battery business, including manufacturing and distribution facilities in Germany. Energizer expects to close the transaction shortly after customary closing conditions are met and upon receipt of the European Commission's final regulatory approval.

Face Protection Market To Remain Strong

The global eye and face protection market was around $42,670 million in 2018 and is expected to reach approximately $58,786 million by 2025, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 4.63 per cent between 2019 and 2025, says a report by Zion Market Research. The market is likely to grow significantly in the future owing to the increasing number of industrial and environmental hazards. Thus, to reduce these potential injuries, governments and industrial departments have set guidelines to maintain a hazard-free industrial environment. In 2018, eye spectacles and goggles accounted for around 70 per cent of the global market share. The manufacturing and construction sectors held the largest shares of the global eye and face protection market in 2018. By region, the North American eye and face protection market is projected to grow substantially and hold the largest share in the future, owing to various industrial obligations and government policies, improved industrial productivity, and workers’ health.

MacCormack Named CFO

Sean MacCormack will be chief financial officer at Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective June 12. A 25-year finance veteran of Canadian retail, he has worked for companies such as Loblaw Companies Limited and Sears Canada.

Sales Slow At Acme United

Safety solutions and cutting technology provider Acme United Corporation had net sales of $31.4 million for the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent over net sales of $31.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $807,000 compared to $764,000, an increase of six per cent. Net sales in Canada decreased five per cent in local currency compared to the same period in 2018, primarily due to a large order from a new customer in the first quarter 2018 that did not repeat in the first quarter of 2019. Overall gross margin was 37.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 versus 38.2 per cent in the comparable period last year.

May 29, 2019

Accurate Information Key To Retail Success

With all the volatility in the retail industry, retailers must make decisions with accurate information about the marketplace, says Willy Kruh, global chairman and national leader, consumer markets with KPMG. Speaking at the ‘Global Retail and Consumer Trends Shaping the Future’ session at Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) ‘STORE 2019,’ he said in this customer-centric world, those that know the most about their customers achieve the greatest success. “Customers are changing, how they see things are changing, and how they engage is changing.” The current retail environment is a perfect storm, and businesses must understand what is happening, stay two moves ahead, and have a contingency plan. Trends impacting retail and customers during this storm include artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), robots, drones, Alibaba, the Chinese market, the security of personal information, and social media. The brands that understand these trends and how they affect their customers will see better results in their profits and revenues than those that don’t.

Matériaux Parent Opens Two BMR Stores

On May 25, BMR Group opened stores in Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick, NB. The BMR Matériaux Parent stores joined the BMR banner in 2018. Under the banner, the stores will offer a wide selection of hardware products and materials from Canadian suppliers as well as customized services.

AEP Launches Custom Wall Panels

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) now offers customized wall panels to the product offering at its recently acquired SC Building Systems (SC) in Carman MB. The panels are pre-assembled in the plant so delivery and construction can be timed down to a specific day, says Dirk Maritz, chief executive officer. “This is an integral part of our growth strategy and we expect this offsite construction technology to be rolled out to all our plants across the country.” The panels replace traditional stick frame construction which is often weather dependent and time and labour intensive. Maritz says SC and other AEP plants in British Columbia and Ontario use laser precision, software, and automation to manufacture engineered products in a controlled indoor factory environment using standardized best practices.

PayBright Partners With Lightspeed

PayBright, a provider of installment payment solutions, has partnered with Lightspeed, a cloud-based commerce platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Through PayBright, Lightspeed's merchants can now offer customers installment payments for eCommerce purchases. PayBright has partnered with over 4,300 domestic and international merchants, allowing them to offer installment payment plans to their Canadian consumers. PayBright also offers installment payments in-store, providing a unified omnichannel experience.

PPG Launches ‘Paints With Purpose’ Campaign

PPG has launched its ‘Paints with Purpose’ campaign, a global campaign which will showcase the many unexpected applications of next generation paint and coatings technologies. These include paints that can cool the temperature of asphalt on a hot day to protect a puppy’s sensitive paws; coatings that can absorb sound or help reduce pollution; paint that helps self-driving cars see; and stain that can be applied even on a cold, wet day. “When people talk about painting, they’re typically focused on beautifying a space in their home or making their mark on a new one,” says David Bem, chief technology officer and vice-president, science, and technology at PPG. “But next generation paints and coatings will do much more. From added safety to enhanced comfort or just an easier way to apply our products, Paints with Purpose aims to showcase real life examples of ways that paint can help improve our overall quality of life.” It will roll out the campaign over the coming months highlighting the unique applications and their impact on everyday life.

Tramble Promoted To Marketing Director

Tammy Tramble is director of marketing and national accounts at Shnier, a Gesco ULC company. Previously, she was director of national accounts. She has been with the company for eight years.

Toro Company Sees Strong Sales

The Toro Company had net earnings of $115.6 million on a net sales increase of 9.9 per cent to $962 million for the second quarter of 2019. This compares to net earnings of $131.3 million on net sales of $875.3 million in the second quarter of 2018. Sales were helped by the acquisition of Charles Machine Works in the quarter. Adjusted net earnings were $126 million compared to $130.3 million in the year-ago period, a decrease of 2.5 per cent. Professional segment net sales were up 9.6 per cent and residential segment net sales were up 9.4 per cent year over year. Overall, gross margin as a per cent of sales for the second quarter was 33.4 per cent, a decrease of 360 basis points compared to the prior year.

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