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News

June 28, 2019

2018 U.S. Home Improvement Spending Robust

2018 was a robust year for consumer spending on home services in the U.S., with the average total spend of $9,081 on home improvement, maintenance, and emergencies, says HomeAdvisor in its annual 'State of Home Spending Report.' Spending per household on home services was up 17 per cent in 2018 from 2017. Main contributing factors to this increase were the growing cultural focus on design aesthetics and quality of life and newer and better home improvement tools. The report says homeowners are spending more on home improvement projects than home maintenance projects. For every $1 spent on home maintenance, homeowners spent an average of $5 on home improvements. However, homeowners report completing an average of 6.7 home maintenance projects over the compared to 2.2 home improvement projects during the year. Room remodels were the most popular improvement project in 2018 with bathrooms topping the list for the second year in a row. Homeowners list replacing or repairing damage, defects, and decay as the number one reason for spending on home improvement projects. Looking forward, homeowners are prioritizing new appliances, roof replacements, and hardwood refinishing in addition to room remodels.


Technology To Drive Kitchen Faucets Market

Over the past few years, the plumbing business has flourished, which has encouraged growth in the global kitchen faucets market, says a report by Fortune Business Insights. The North American kitchen faucet market was worth US$2,011.6 million in 2017, with the global market estimated at $9,611.6 million. The global compound annual growth rate to 2025 is forecast at 6.3 per cent. Further growth will be spurred by consumer demand for advanced faucets with several traditional manufacturers planning to develop lines to meet this demand. Rapid digitization in kitchen faucets and the introduction of touchscreen kitchen faucets is expected to bode well for the market. The added advantages of hands-free faucets such as cost-effectiveness and energy savers are contributing to growth.


Atlas Engineered Products Partners With MiTek Canada

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) has formed a strategic partnership with MiTek Canada, Inc. MiTek specializes in BIM (building information modeling) software, industrial equipment, facility management solutions, and building products for use throughout all parts of the building industry value-chain. "This partnership gives us access to cutting edge design and engineering technology, ensuring consistent quality standards at all our locations across Canada. Our designers will be able to collaborate and execute seamlessly using one shared technology platform," says Dirk Maritz, chief executive officer and president of AEP. "In addition, AEP's exclusive purchase of MiTek connector plates, building products, and services is expected to unlock significant value for our company via gains in operational efficiencies as well as economies of scale across all of our operations."


Peterson Named Interim CEO

Christopher Peterson has been appointed interim chief executive officer of Newell Brands. He will also continue his current role as executive vice-president, chief financial officer, which he has held since joining the company in 2018. The company is searching for a permanent CEO, and expects to announce an external hire in the upcoming weeks.


June 27, 2019

Corporations Act Has New Rules

Corporations that are subject to the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) must now maintain and provide access to a register of individuals who, directly or indirectly, have “significant control” over the corporation, says Hicks Morley in its 'FTR Now' newsletter. The federal government says that the purpose of this change is to enhance corporate transparency and curb tax evasion, money laundering, corruption, financing of terrorism, and other criminal activities. An individual with significant control (ISC) is someone who has 25 per cent or more of voting rights in the corporation or 25 per cent or more of fair market value of the corporation. It is also an individual who has significant direct or indirect influence that, if exercised, would result in control of the corporation. As well, two or more individuals will each be considered to be an ISC if they are jointly the registered holders of, the beneficial owners of, or have direct or indirect control or direction over a “significant number of shares of the corporation.” Regulations may be prescribed that could further expand the scope of individuals who will be considered ISCs. The ISC register must contain contact information, when the individual became or ceased to be an ISC, and a description of their position, interests, and rights in respect of shares of the corporation. The ISC register must be maintained at the registered office of the corporation or at any other place in Canada designated by the directors.


Commercial Ceiling Products Provide Residential Sales Opportunities

In 2018, the U.S. commercial market for ceilings totalled 92 per cent of value demand, a share that is projected to remain consistent going forward, says a study by Freedonia Group. However, while baffles, clouds, and other costly, high-performance ceiling products keep commercial sales high, design innovation and evolving consumer trends are turning traditionally commercial-only products like ceiling tiles into must-have items for residential customers. Increasingly, low-cost ceiling tiles can mimic the look and texture of higher-value materials such as metal and wood. These products are particularly favoured for dining rooms, kitchens, apartment lobbies, and other showcase rooms where a distinctive, high-end look can make a big impression. The acoustic performance of ceiling products is providing additional residential sales opportunities for applications such as home theatres and media rooms. Design trends favouring a more custom look are also creating opportunities for ceiling tiles on non-ceiling surfaces, such as walls. The report says communicating the benefits of ceiling products in residential applications will be key for manufacturers and distributors looking to increase their penetration.


Scepter Celebrates 70th Anniversary

Fuel and water container manufacturer Scepter is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The company was founded in 1949 by Evald Torokvei in the basement of his Toronto, ON, home. The company originally produced inflatable toys, wading pools, and hula hoops, but soon expanded operations to include large diameter plastic pipes and fittings. Scepter eventually branded this product under IPEX Inc. which went on to become a global manufacturer of plastic pipes. The company also produces marine outboard engine fuel tanks and products for the U.S. military. Scepter's consumer division designs and manufactures hazard materials containers which are sold around the world. The company has manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and in Canada in Scarborough, ON.


Real View Launches Upgraded Kitchen Design Software

Real View Inc. has launched ProKitchen version 9.7, available for Windows and Mac. The kitchen design software solution now offers Dynamic Design Showcase, radius walls, cathedral walls, skylight windows, and rotating floor images. It offers a collection of over 500 manufacturer catalogues, custom furniture, appliance, and accessory catalogues. The tool can be augmented with various add-ons and features multiple customer report improvements and support for multi-colour designs, headers and footers, data exporting, and the option to apply a single showcase to multiple designs. A 14-day free trial is available for design professionals and non-professionals and DIYers can use the free planner.


Brass To Lead WD-40

Steve Brass is president and chief operating officer of the WD-40 Company. He has been with the company since 1991 and most recently held the role of division president, Americas and chief brand officer. Patricia Olsem is division president, Americas. She has been with the company since 2005 and most recently held the role of senior vice-president and general manager of the U.S.


June 26, 2019

Wholesale Sales Increase for Fifth Month

Wholesale sales increased 1.7 per cent to $65.3 billion in April, the fifth consecutive monthly increase, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors accounting for 86 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector was the leading contributor to April's gains, followed by the machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector. The machinery, equipment, and supplies subsector posted a second consecutive increase, as sales were up 2.2 per cent to $13.9 billion. The construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment, and supplies industry rose 5.4 per cent, contributing the most to the gain. Sales in the personal and household goods subsector rose 3.1 per cent to $9.3 billion. Sales increased in four provinces in April, with Alberta leading the gains. Wholesale inventories increased for the eighth consecutive month, up 0.4 per cent to $90.6 billion in April. In the building material and supplies subsector, inventories rose for the second consecutive month, up 0.9 per cent in April.


U.S. Household Formation Back On Track

With the nation's economy on sound footing and incomes on the rise, the number of people forming households in the U.S. has finally returned to a more normal pace. Housing production, however, has not, says the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in its '2019 State of the Nation Housing Report.' It says the housing shortfall is keeping pressure on house prices and rents, eroding affordability for modest income households in many markets. Although household growth is back from post-recession lows, new home construction remains depressed with additions to supply barely keeping pace with the number of new households. The number of U.S. homeowners rose sharply, even as the ratio of median home price to median household income rose from a low of 3.3 in 2011 to 4.1 in 2018, a sign of deteriorating affordability. Looking forward, Millennials and Baby Boomers will continue to push household growth, spurring demand in the remodeling market and the demand for entry-level homes.


Brands Still Misunderstand Shoppers' Needs

There is a deep disconnect between what modern consumers want and what brands deliver, says a report by API commerce solution provider Elastic Path. 'The Sci-Fi Shopper: How to Future Proof Your Brand for the New Consumer' says consumers' most common retail pain points are universally underestimated by brands. For example, 57 per cent of consumers believe long checkout lines are a pain point, but only 35 per cent of brands believe this is a pain point for them. For lack of inventory, 55 per cent of consumers consider this a pain point compared to 32 per cent of brands. Uninformed staff bothers 38 per cent of consumers, but only 20 per cent of brands believe this is a problem. The disconnect is even bigger with technology experiences. Sixty-seven per cent of consumers want to use checkout-less payments, but only 18 per cent of brands offer it; 58 per cent of consumers want to use smart devices in their shopping experience and only 25 per cent of brands offer it. "This report is a timely reminder that consumer needs are simple ‒ they want to save time and money," says Harry Chemko, CEO of Elastic Path. "Customer loyalty really comes down to listening to your customers and solving simple problems."


Canadians Plan To Stay Home This Summer         

More than ever, Canadians are planning on staying close to home to enjoy a summer 'staycation' and plan on shopping and making improvements around the home, says RetailMeNot, an online coupon provider. A survey by the company says 30 per cent of Canadians plan on spending their summer 'staycation' style with al fresco dinner parties at home, local summer activities, community festivals, and local day trips. Thirteen per cent will invite friends and family over for summer entertaining, taking advantage of the nice weather by barbequing and enjoying quality time together outside. Twelve per cent plan to take on home improvement projects.


Armstrong Introduces Acoustical Ceiling Panels

Armstrong Ceiling Solutions has introduced ACOUSTIBuilt Seamless Acoustical Ceilings, a ceiling system that provides the look of drywall but performs like an acoustical ceiling. The finished panels offer a smooth, non-directional, monolithic visual for a seamless appearance of a drywall ceiling. The product is part of the Armstrong Total Acoustics portfolio and achieves a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of up to 0.70, indicating it absorbs up to 70 per cent of the sound that strikes it, and also has a high Ceiling Attenuation Class (CAC) up to 48, indicating its ability to ensure speech privacy by preventing sound from entering adjacent spaces. The panels also meet sustainability compliance standards including LEED v4, Living Building Challenge, and the WELL Building Standard.


Leaf Solutions Names CFO

Christopher Nagel is chief financial officer at Leaf Home Solutions, a gutter protection solutions company. He joins the company from Fairmount Santrol where he also served as CFO. Larry Napolitan, who has been CFO since 2016, will take on the newly-created position of vice-president of finance. Leaf Home Solutions has 64 locations across North America.


June 25, 2019

Residential Leads Building Construction Investment

Total investment in building construction increased 2.6 per cent in April to $14.8 billion, says Statistics Canada. Investment in the residential sector (up 3.6 per cent to $10.1 billion) led the growth, while the non-residential sector edged up 0.3 per cent to $4.7 billion. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction rose 2.9 per cent to $12.5 billion. In April, total investment in residential building construction increased on the strength of investment in multi-unit dwellings by7.1 per cent to $5.1 billion, while investment in single-family homes edged up 0.3 per cent to $5 billion. Provincially, gains in multi-unit investment were led by British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec. Non-residential investment was up slightly in Quebec and British Columbia. These gains were partially offset by declines in Alberta and Ontario.


Ontario Investing In Forestry Businesses

The government of Ontario is investing $315,300 in Garden River Truss, a roof and floor truss manufacturer, to purchase new equipment to increase production capacity. Garden River Truss, located in Garden River First Nation, produces standard roof trusses ‒ triangular-shaped frames for homes, garages, and sheds. It also specializes in designing and producing customized roof and floor trusses. The majority of the company's workforce is comprised of First Nation community members. The government will also invest $3.2 million over five years in Columbia Forest Products plywood mill in Hearst; $5.5 million investment over five years in the Ben Hokum & Son Ltd. sawmill in Killaloe; $2 million for Hornepayne Lumber in Hornepayne to reopen the community's idle sawmill; $3.2 million over five years for Columbia Forest Products plywood mill in Hearst; $255,349 for Kenogami Lake Lumber in Hallébourg to purchase forestry hauling equipment to expand its operations; $175,259 for True North Timber in Chapleau to purchase forestry hauling and harvesting equipment; $166,820 for TGT Trucking in Manitouwadge to purchase forestry hauling equipment, enhance maintenance space, and upgrade its operations information system; and $41,058 for EACOM Timber in Nairn Centre to introduce a new trim block recovery system. The Ontario government announced in November its plan to develop a provincial forestry strategy to unleash the potential of the sector. These investments are part of that strategy.


New Construction Starts Climb

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $757 billion, new U.S. construction starts in May climbed 10 per cent from April, says Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase continues the double-digit swings that were reported during the previous two months, when a 16 per cent hike for total construction starts in March was followed by a 15 per cent decline in April. Each of the three main construction sectors contributed to May’s 10 per cent gain. Non-building construction rebounded 32 per cent after depressed activity in April, while non-residential building improved seven per cent. Residential building edged up two per cent, with modest gains for both single family housing and multi-family housing. On a 12-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the period ending May 2019 were two per cent below the amount reported for the 12 months ending May 2018. The May statistics raised the index to 160, up from April’s 145. May’s reading was still less than the 172 reported in March, as well as the full year 2018 average of 171.


RBC Launches Payment Tracking Feature

RBC has launched the RBC Express(r) Track Wire Payments feature as part of its digital payment platform. This capability allows business clients to track their wire payments in real time through the bank's online business banking channel, RBC Express. The platform leverages SWIFT's global payments innovation (gpi) technology. Companies can track their wire payment from the moment it leaves RBC to the time it reaches the beneficiary's bank at no additional cost. More than $300 billion is now sent daily via SWIFT gpi in 148 countries.


Sullivan Tasked With Restructuring RPM

Michael H. Sullivan is vice-president – operations and chief restructuring officer with RPM International Inc. In this capacity, he will oversee RPM’s '2020 MAP to Growth' operating improvement initiative. He will identify and execute opportunities to improve manufacturing efficiencies, reduce operating costs, streamline procurement, and enhance health and safety measures across all RPM business segments. In addition, he will play a key role in RPM’s annual planning process and oversee its global sourcing teams. Previously, he was with AlixPartners, a consulting agency, where he played a key role in the analysis and development of RPM's '2020 Map to Growth.'


June 24, 2019

Retail Sales Up For Third Month

Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month, edging up 0.1 per cent to $51.5 billion in April, says Statistics Canada. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales were down 0.1 per cent. Sales were up in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 74 per cent of retail trade. Higher sales at gasoline stations and food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the gain. Following increases in March, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 2.6 per cent in April; however, despite this decline, sales remained above February levels. Sales in Ontario and Alberta continued their upward trend, rising for the third consecutive month. Retail sales in Quebec were down for the first time in 2019. On an unadjusted basis, retail eCommerce sales reached $1.6 billion in April, accounting for three per cent of total retail trade, compared with two per cent of total retail trade in April 2016. Compared with April 2018, retail eCommerce increased 14.9 per cent in April 2019, while total unadjusted retail sales increased five per cent.


Orgill Adding 8th DC

Orgill, Inc. will expand its network of world-class distribution facilities with the addition of a 780,000 square foot distribution centre in Rome, NY. In will be Orgill’s eighth full-service distribution centre. Others are in Tifton, GA; Inwood, WV; Sikeston, MO; Hurricane, UT; Kilgore, TX; Post Falls, ID; and London, ON. The primary reason for the addition of the Rome facility is to provide faster and more efficient service to its growing customer base in the northeastern U.S. The new facility will serve customers in seven states ‒ New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Orgill plans for the facility to be fully operational by early 2022.


RONA Haute Matawinie Completes Renovation

Saint-Michel-des-Saints, QC-based RONA Haute Matawinie, a Lowe's Canada affiliate store, has completed its renovation. The family-owned hardware store has been part of the town's landscape since 1972 and is owned by François Richard and Claude Perrault, who also own the RONA store in Saint-Zénon, QC. The 10,000-square-foot store has been completely remodelled to enhance the shopping experience and better reflect new market trends. The transformation is visible right from the store entrance, where a large open space borders the service counter. The redesigned showroom creates more visual space and makes it easier to access the latest outdoor furniture and barbecue models. The store layout and racking have been redesigned to combine certain departments and present products in a more intuitive way for customers. The lighting has also been modified to provide a brighter environment.


Shopify Unveils Platform Enhancements

Shopify Inc., a multi-channel commerce platform, has unveiled platform enhancements and updates focused on helping direct-to-consumer brands. Innovations include an updated Shopify Plus platform for enterprise brands and more global capabilities. Shopify Plus will provide a single view of a merchant’s entire business, tools that facilitate a consistent experience across stores, and a tool to create new stores. Shopify POS will be a more intuitive and scalable point-of-sale software, providing retailers with a simple interface, new customer service shortcuts, and access to all of Shopify’s POS app extensions. Eleven new language capabilities have been added to Shopify Admin and Translations API will store translated buyer-facing content including products, collections, and blog posts, enabling merchants to provide a consistent shopping experience in multiple languages. With Shopify Payments, merchants can sell in multiple currencies and get paid in their local currency. The company also has a new online store design experience where merchants can customize the look of their store without editing code. It features the ability to display products in video and 3D models. As well, partners can now integrate subscription payments solutions directly into Shopify’s checkout.


May U.S. Housing Starts Decline

U.S. housing starts dropped 0.9 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.269 million units in May with a drop in the construction of single-family housing units, says the U.S. Commerce Department. Homebuilding declined for the month; land and labour shortages are making it difficult for builders, especially in the single-family housing segment. Other factors affecting the market include low inflation, a slowing economy, and the trade war between the U.S. and China. Data for April was revised up to show homebuilding rising to a pace of 1.281 million units, instead of increasing to a rate of 1.235 million units as previously reported. Single-family homebuilding in the U.S., which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, dropped 6.4 per cent to a rate of 820,000 units in May.


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