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 21, 2019

Automation Key Future Focus In Warehousing

Automation and worker augmentation solutions will be a key focus for warehouses during the next five years, says a study by Zebra Technologies Corporation. The '2024 Warehousing Vision Study' says more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of decision-makers agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse, but only 35 per cent have a clear understanding of where to start automating. By 2024, automation will enhance worker performance rather than replace workers, says the report. Sixty-one per cent of decision-makers plan to enable partial automation or labour augmentation with technology in the warehouse. Three-quarters of respondents believe human interaction is part of their optimal operational balance, with 39 per cent citing partial automation (some human involvement) and 34 per cent citing augmentation (equipping workers with devices) as their preference. Decision-makers anticipate using robotics/bots for inbound inventory management (24 per cent), outbound packing (22 per cent), and goods in/receiving (20 per cent) by 2024. As well, 59 per cent of respondents cite capacity utilization as a significant expected challenge and plan to address it by expanding the size of their warehouses. Labour recruitment, labour efficiency, and IT/technology utilization are cited as top challenges.

FCL Recognized By CMC

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) was recognized as 'Large Co-operative of the Year' by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) at its annual awards ceremony in Quebec City on June 19. The award recognizes Canadian organizations that have made a significant contribution to co-operatives and mutuals in Canada and around the world. FCL was recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability, community investment, employee engagement, co-operative leadership, and financial responsibility. In 2018, FCL returned $789 million to more than 170 independent local co-ops across western Canada. FCL is one of 8,000 co-operative and mutual businesses in the country.

Program To Accelerate Digital Transformation

To help Canadian businesses unlock greater business value and capitalize on advancements in smart technologies and cloud solutions, RBC and Microsoft have launched the Go Digital program. The program is designed to remove key barriers which businesses have cited as preventing or delaying their digital transformation. The program offers a suite of turnkey technology solutions leveraging the power and security of the Microsoft cloud and skilled partner network, as well as financing and advice from RBC to help businesses embark on their digital transformation journey. The program is currently available to Canadian food manufacturers and will continue to expand to other industries over time.

Stainless Steel Loaders Top Appliance Picks

Stainless steel refrigerators are the top consumer picks when it comes to appliances, says Lowe’s. Customers in the U.S. bought nearly 2.8 million refrigerators from Lowe’s in 2018 and almost half of those chose a stainless steel finish. However, the retailer says black finishes are becoming a big trend. It’s the fastest growing colour, with options like black stainless steel, black matte, and black slate. White as the colour of choice for fridges has decreased 13.7 per cent since 2013. When it comes to washers, consumers prefer the top loader. Eighty per cent of shoppers chose top loaders over front loaders. Lowe’s sold about 2.7 million washers in the U.S. in 2018. For stoves, most customers preferred electric over gas, with consumers in only eight states in the U.S. purchasing more gas stoves than electric.

Nagarajan To Head Nordson

Sundaram Nagarajan has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Nordson Corporation, a manufacturer of sealant and coatings applicators, effective August 1. Currently, he is executive vice-president, automotive OEM segment, with Illinois Tool Works Inc.

June 20, 2019

Friends, Family Top Source For Brand Awareness

For nearly half of consumers (45 per cent), the first time they hear about a retailer they've never purchased from is through friends and family, says a study by Yes Marketing. 'The Retail Shopper's Journey to Loyalty' says word-of-mouth recommendations significantly outweigh other sources, including product review sites (eight per cent), influencer recommendations (four per cent), and news sites (two per cent) when it comes to driving brand awareness. Moreover, 69 per cent of consumers have avoided shopping with a retailer they've never purchased from before because of negative feedback from family or friends. Additionally, comprehensive product information and message relevance are among the top factors that build trust with a new retailer. More than a third of consumers (36 per cent) report that having enough product information is the number one driver of trust in retailers they've never shopped with before. As for products, almost half (47 per cent) of consumers rank price as the most influential factor in their decision to purchase from a new retailer, followed closely by quality (39 per cent), indicating an opportunity for marketers to emphasize these elements in communications with new prospective customers. When it comes to convenience, 40 per cent of consumers rank shipping as the number one factor in their decision to purchase from a new retailer.

Giant Tiger Breaks Ground On Ottawa HQ 

Giant Tiger Stores Limited has broken ground on its Ottawa, ON, headquarters and flagship store. The buildings are part of the company's growth strategy, which commits to opening 10 to 12 stores per year across Canada. The company anticipates full construction starting this fall. The Ottawa store will open in fall 2020 and the office by mid-winter of 2021. The home office will be approximately 173,800 square feet and is being built to accommodate growth. To keep up with this growth, Giant Tiger recently moved its distribution centre from Walkley Road in Ottawa to a new facility in Johnstown, ON. The home office will be a four-storey building built to LEED specifications and equipped with the latest technology.

Strong Growth Forecast For Robotic Lawn Mowers

The global robotic lawn mower market is expected to reach $2.69 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 14.69 per cent during 2018 to 2024, says a report by Reportlinker. Drivers include the rise of landscaping industry, growth in marketing and promotional activities, and development of sustainable cities. The demand for robotic lawn mowers is also expected to be spurred by sustainable living behaviours and unconventional sources that have risen out of the urban phenomenon of mixed-use community spaces. As well, the incorporation of the Internet of Thing (IoT), robotics, automation, and intelligent systems will propel growth. In 2017, the small-sized robotic lawn mowers market dominated the global market with a share of more than 98 per cent in terms of unit shipment. A majority of households in Europe and the U.S. prefer to buy small-sized mowers as they are suitable for small lawns and yards. Medium-sized and large-sized robotic mowers are mostly used in the commercial sector, including landscaping service firms and for soccer fields and golf courses.

PayPal Canada Solution Targets Cross-border Trade

PayPal Canada has launched a solution that offers small businesses up to 75 per cent in shipping discounts for cross-border trade. The solution also includes a one-day shipping service to the U.S. that tracks links on every parcel with an integrated platform where online sellers can import orders from popular marketplaces to arrange shipment. PayPal says high shipping costs and a lack of efficient shipping options have long held back Canadian business owners from selling internationally. Despite the fact that Canada currently has 14 trade agreements with countries around the world, only 12 per cent of small and medium businesses take advantage of these opportunities. It says some of the greatest international growth opportunities are in the U.S., Canada's largest export market, where businesses can send goods valued up to $800 free of tax, duties, and brokerage fees.

Verschuren Appointed To Order

Annette Verschuren, chair and CEO, NRStor Inc., will be inducted as a Companion of the Order of the Business Hall of Fame. The honour recognizes and celebrates her lifetime achievements. Since its inception in 1979, the Order of the Business Hall of Fame has been the highest honour of its kind in Canadian business. Between 1996 and 2011, she was the president of the Home Depot Canada and the Home Depot Asia, overseeing the growth of the company's Canadian operations from 19 to 179 stores and leading its entry into China.

June 19, 2019

Mental Health Issues Affecting Entrepreneurs

As many as 62 per cent of entrepreneurs feel depressed at least once a week, says a study by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and BDC. 'Going it Alone: the mental health and well-being of entrepreneurs in Canada' also says female entrepreneurs whose enterprises are in the growth or early stages and those with fewer employees or less revenue are more likely to report mental health issues. Nearly half (46 per cent) say that mental health issues interfere with their ability to work. "We want to make sure mental health is included in discussions about entrepreneurship in Canada. The study has enabled us to take the pulse of entrepreneurs' well-being and now we are better positioned to take helpful action," says Fardous Hosseiny, interim national CEO and national director, research and public policy, at the CMHA. The nearly 500 entrepreneurs surveyed report that barriers to seeking mental health support included the cost of mental health services, lack of access to support, and limited awareness of support as well as stigma-related concerns, such as concern for reputation and discomfort discussing the issue. Based on the findings, BDC will work with CMHA to develop easy-to-use tools and resources that support entrepreneurial well-being.

Ace Port-Daniel Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Ace Port-Daniel, a Lowe's Canada affiliate store, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Located in Port-Daniel in the Gaspésie region of Quebec, the store is know for its personalized service and products tailored to the needs of local consumers. Since dealer owner Richard Briand acquired the hardware store in 2009, it has experienced steady growth. Over the years, he has invested $75,000 to refresh the store and tailor it to the changing needs of his customers. With a 2,800-square-foot sales floor and a 15,000-square-foot lumberyard, the store now offers approximately 6,000 products to residents in the area. Since 2018, customers have also been able to access thousands of additional products online and utilize the company's 'Click and Collect' service. To mark the anniversary, Briand will offer his customers "a summer of celebrations."

Masco Divesting Cabinetry And Windows Businesses

Masco Corporation has concluded a strategic review of its cabinetry and windows businesses and will pursue the sale of these. The company says this is part of its strategy to reduce its cyclicality by increasing exposure to the repair and remodel segment of the housing market. Thus far, it has already spun off its installation business. The actions will complete the process of reducing Masco's exposure to the new construction segment and position it to focus on the less cyclical plumbing products and decorative architectural products businesses going forward. The sales of the cabinetry and windows businesses are expected to close in approximately six to nine months.

Convenience More Important Than Channel

With more options and channels for shopping than ever before, consumers aren't just replacing one method for another, they're shopping everywhere, says a study from global payments platform Adyen and 451 Research. And, not surprisingly, the most important thing North American shoppers prioritize is convenience. As the lines between physical and digital shopping experiences continue to blur, consumers are asking more from retailers. In North America alone, 84 per cent of retailers have seen a rise in consumer expectations. To avoid leaving significant revenue on the table, retailers must embrace a unified commerce strategy to create a cohesive shopping journey across sales channels. While there isn’t an overwhelming preference for any one channel, convenience would sway consumers to shop at one retailer over another, above any other category, if merchandise and price were the same. However, the abandonment rates for in-store and online shopping are high when consumers are faced with inconveniences such as out-of-stock merchandise, long lines, laborious payment options, and lack of cross-channel buying options.

Brick Offers Credit Protection

Mogo Finance Technology Inc., a financial health app, now offers a program with Trans Global Insurance (TGI) to help customers of The Brick understand and combat identity fraud. TGI, a credit insurance provider, is the exclusive provider of such products to The Brick's customers. Through the program, The Brick customers who enroll in TGI's credit insurance protection will receive credit score educational information along with a voucher for 120 days of free access to MogoProtect to help them safeguard their identity and creditworthiness. MogoProtect monitors a consumer's Equifax Canada Co. credit score and sends alerts directly through the app and via eMail after an inquiry. It then guides consumers through the steps to help prevent identity fraud. MogoProtect is integrated into the Mogo Finance app and can be downloaded via the Apple app store or Google Play.

June 18, 2019

Homebuying Incentive Launched

The government of Canada has introduced a tool to help middle class Canadians buy their first home. Scheduled to launch in September, the ‘First-time Home Buyer Incentive’ will reduce monthly mortgage payments required for first-time homebuyers without increasing the amount they need to save for a downpayment. The program complements other measures taken in 'Budget 2019' to support first time homebuyers with their downpayment such as an increased RRSP withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $30,000. The government has allocated $1.25 billion over three years for this program. The incentive will be available to first-time homebuyers with qualified annual household incomes up to $120,000. 'Budget 2019' also previewed the ‘Shared Equity Mortgage Provider Fund,’ a five-year, $100-million lending fund to assist providers of shared equity mortgages to help eligible Canadians achieve affordable homeownership. This will support an alternative homeownership model targeted at first-time homebuyers, help attract new providers of shared equity mortgages, and encourage additional housing supply. The fund will be launched July 31 and will be administered by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

U.S. Retail Sales Show Consumer Resilience

U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 per cent in May seasonally adjusted from April and up 3.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Revisions to April monthly data were significant with retail sales reversing a loss of 0.2 per cent monthly change to a gain of 0.3 per cent. NRF says retail sales data has been unusually choppy given the economic environment in recent months which includes the partial government shutdown, volatile energy prices, and roller coaster equity markets, notwithstanding escalating trade tensions. May’s retail sales increases were broad based, with nearly all categories showing gains, with the only decline coming from food and beverage stores. As of May, the three-month moving average was up 3.3 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with a gain of 2.9 per cent in April. May’s results build on a revised gain of 0.3 percent month-over-month and a revised 5.9 per cent gain year-over-year in April. Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.4 per cent year-over-year, but up 0.1 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

RONA Welcomes Affiliate Stores In Quebec Region

Lowe’s Canada welcomes the Placide Martineau family business into its RONA affiliated dealer network. Founded in 1959 by Placide Martineau, the business is now owned by the founder’s six sons: Christian, François, Irené, Jean-Marc, Mario, and Michel Martineau. In addition to their decision to join RONA, they announced earlier this month the acquisition of a new point of sale in Saint-Apollinaire, QC, which is already affiliated with the RONA banner. This brings to four the total number of stores owned by the family business in the Centre-du-Quebec region. With the acquisition of this new store and the conversion of the three existing stores to the RONA banner, the Placide Martineau company, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is entering a new phase of development. The stores will offer new product categories as well as a wider assortment of items. Customers can also shop online at the RONA website and take advantage of the Click and Collect service that will be offered in all of the Pacide Martineau stores starting this summer.

Benjamin Moore Red Deer Offers Sansin Wood Finishes

Benjamin Moore Red Deer in Red Deer, AB, now carries Sansin Corporation's line of exterior wood finishes. To showcase the products, Sansin is hosting a product demonstration at the store on June 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A wood finish advisor will be on hand to offer tips on how to apply Sansin’s water-borne, penetrating products on decks, furniture, siding, and other exterior wood surfaces. There will also be an opportunity for DIYers and contractors to ask questions about specific projects. Hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and gift bags will be provided. Owners Rick and Andrew Wiebe, Shelley Mueller, and Marshall Wideman says the product has done well at other locations they own in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Wetaskiwin, and Camrose, AB.

West Fraser Plans Permanent Production Reductions

West Fraser plans to permanently close its Chasm lumber mill and eliminate the third shift from its 100 Mile House lumber mill in British Columbia as of the third quarter of 2019. The decision is the result of timber supply constraints owing to BC’s devastating Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, recent record wildfires, price declines in lumber markets, and high saw log costs. As a result of reduced harvesting levels set by the chief forester of BC, there is insufficient timber supply to support the current lumber production capacity of the lumber mills in these locations. Lumber production is anticipated to be permanently reduced by approximately 314 million board feet.

Dörken Launches Four-layer WRB

Dörken Systems Inc. has launched DELTA-STRATUS SA, a self-adhering vapour-permeable air- and water-resistive barrier (WRB) with a fourth layer for added UV protection. The company says exposure to UV light begins to have an impact on building materials from the minute they are installed until the time the building is covered with exterior cladding. The damage happens at the molecular level, so its effects may not be felt until well after the exposure has happened and long after the wall has been completely enclosed. DELTA-STRATUS SA is engineered with two outer layers, made up of high-strength, spun-bonded polypropylene fabric, which are thermally bonded to a highly vapour-permeable, watertight polymeric middle layer. The fourth layer is a UV-resistant acrylic coating.

June 17, 2019

May Home Sales Back Up

Home sales rose by 1.9 per cent in May. Together with monthly gains in March and April, activity in May reached the highest level since January 2018, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). While sales stood 8.9 per cent above the six-year low reached in February, this latest increase has only just returned levels to their historical average. While May sales were only up in half of all local markets, that list included almost all large markets, led by gains in both the Greater Vancouver, BC, (GVA) and Greater Toronto, ON, (GTA) areas. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 6.7 per cent compared to May 2018, marking the largest year-over-year gain recorded since the summer of 2016. The increase returned sales in line with the 10-year average for the month of May. While about two-thirds of local markets posted year-over-year gains for the month, the national increase was dominated by improving sales trends in the GTA, which accounted for close to half of the overall increase. The number of newly-listed homes edged back by 1.2 per cent in May. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 57.4 per cent in May compared to 55.7 per cent in April. That said, the measure is still within close reach of its long-term average of 53.5 per cent.

AI-powered Solutions Will Provide Growth Opportunities 

Home and building technology companies are increasingly embedding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms into products to facilitate self-learning behaviour and stay ahead of the competition, says data from Frost & Sullivan. It’s report, ‘Global Homes and Buildings Outlook, 2019,’ says these technologies are expected to enable building optimization capabilities, which are key differentiators. Additional features that support sustainability and customer-centric solutions will help entrants compete against incumbents and, overall, drive the $1,249.95 billion industry towards $1,301.44 billion in 2019. There are opportunities in key markets for the systems of lighting, energy management, automation, facility management, smart homes, fire safety, and security. Numerous smart home devices will be integrated with voice command control in 2019. Smart home security providers will lay emphasis on the comfort of homeowners in addition to improving home security by offering multi-functional products. To make homes truly connected and energy efficient, homes and buildings companies need to establish partnerships with utilities, energy consultants, and retailers, says the report.

CRAFTSMAN Launches Pro Series Tape Measures

CRAFTSMAN has launched the Pro-13 tape measure. This heavy-duty professional grade tape has 13 feet of standout and features a Mylar blade coating, BladeArmor hook protection, and extensive rubber overmold. It also includes a belt clip, blade lock, and a magnetic end hook. The tape is 1.25-inches wide, 25-feet long, and has 16-inch stud markings.

More B.C. Mill Curtailments Ahead

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. will temporarily curtail operations at its BCTMP mill in Taylor, BC, from June 29 through August 5, due to a combination of weaker market conditions and short-term fibre constraints resulting from industrywide sawmill curtailments in the BC Interior. As well, Norbord Inc. will indefinitely curtail production at its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House, BC, starting in August. The region in which the mill is located has been under mounting wood supply pressure for the past decade as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. This challenge has been more recently exacerbated by the significant wildfires that the province of British Columbia experienced in the summers of both 2017 and 2018. The resulting wood supply shortage and high wood prices do not support the economic operation of the mill at this time.

People Wish They Took More Baths

Half of North Americans take a bath at least once per week, and over half (53 per cent) wish they took more baths than they currently do, says a study by Bath Fitter. The report says a common complaint is a lack of time in a busy schedule. However, nearly a quarter say a poor bath environment – consisting of the tub being too small, dirty, or poorly grouted – was what curbed the craving for more baths. Bath Fitter, which commissioned the survey for its 35th anniversary, says tub-over-tub installation offers one solution for people who have a poor bath environment.

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