Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


July 11, 2019

BMR Group Invests In Lefebvre & Benoit

BMR Group has acquired a stake in Lefebvre & Benoit, a construction materials provider for contractors. BMR says the two Canadian companies will benefit from their complementary expertise to enhance their respective offerings and strengthen their position in the hardware and construction materials sectors. This is BMR's first foray into the sale of materials to contractors that work on commercial buildings and multi-unit housing throughout Canada. "We are confident that this alliance will drive the development of our hardware division, as well as Lefebvre & Benoit’s – a model company in its category – to new heights both in Quebec and across Canada," says Ghislain Gervais, president of La Coop fédérée, BMR's parent company.

Negative Shipping Experience Costs Customers

While eCommerce and shipping have a symbiotic relationship, shipping often becomes an afterthought for online retailers. For customers, however, a brand’s shipping experience can carry just as much weight as the product it sells and how it is marketed to them, says a report by BigCommerce, an eCommerce SaaS platform. The report says an alarming 77 per cent of consumers have abandoned an online purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping options, while 58 per cent have actually stopped shopping with particular retailers altogether as a result of a negative shipping experience. However, 47 per cent of merchant respondents are unaware of their online cart abandonment rate, nor the percentage of cart abandonment caused by shipping options. The mass adoption of Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, as well as similar efforts from big box retailers like Walmart, have changed consumer expectations. In the past 12 months, 84 per cent of consumers have made a purchase from an online retailer specifically because it offered free shipping, and half say that they avoid shopping with retailers that do not offer delivery at no-cost. Yet only 13 per cent of merchants offer free shipping on all purchases, while a larger percentage (39 per cent) give consumers free shipping on purchases over a designated dollar amount.

JennAir Unveils Luxury Campaign

JennAir unveiled its luxury brand campaign in Canada, Bound By Nothing, a creative mission built from consumer luxury category insights. With a focus on personalization, the Bound By Nothing platform features JennAir's latest line of major appliances that launched in spring. Along with the brand campaign, this spring, JennAir unveiled two design expressions - RISE and NOIR. These expressions represent a rebellion within the luxury appliance category that urges consumers to tear down stale luxury conventions and usher in a new era of luxury standards. The campaign - which won gold at this year's North American Effie Awards - will launch in Canada through national print, digital, online, out-of-home advertising, social channels, and earned media efforts.

Lightspeed Improves Inventory Management Software

Global POS software provider Lightspeed has added inventory-focused features to Lightspeed Retail's suite of tools. These features are designed to improve inventory management control, offering retailers added insight into how their business is performing. New features include a negative inventory report, omnichannel impact, home-data driven dashboard, vendor returns, and newly supported images dimensions and formats.

BB&B Prioritizes Transformation After Loss

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had a net loss of $371.1 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of net earnings of $43.6 million in the first quarter of 2018. Net sales for the quarter were $2.6 billion, a decrease of 6.6 per cent compared to net sales of $2.8 billion for the prior-year period. Gross profit was $887 million compared to $965 million. "We recognize that there needs to be a fundamental change in our approach to executing the company's business transformation," says Mary A. Winston, interim CEO. "We have set four key near-term priorities that include stabilizing and driving top-line growth; resetting the cost structure; reviewing and optimizing the company's asset base, including our portfolio of retail banners; and refining our organization structure."

July 10, 2019

June Housing Starts Trend Higher

The trend in housing starts was 205,838 units in June, compared to 200,530 units in May, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The increase is primarily due to higher trending row and apartment starts in urban areas. The Vancouver, BC, census metropolitan area (CMA); Edmonton, AB, CMA; Saskatoon, SK, CMA; Winnipeg, MB, CMA; Halifax, NS, CMA; and the Quebec City, QC, region housing starts all trended higher in June. Starts in the Kingston, ON, CMA were slower following a strong performance in 2018. The Toronto, ON, CMA remained virtually unchanged over May and the Sherbrooke, QC, CMA had particularly strong housing starts since the beginning of the year. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 245,657 units in June, up 26 per cent from 196,809 units in May. The SAAR of urban starts increased by two per cent in June to 234,238 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 31 per cent to 185,804 units in June while single-detached urban starts increased by eight per cent to 48,434 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11,419 units.

Understanding Consumer Behaviour Crucial

Understanding consumer behaviour and the dynamics of how and why customers make buying decisions is essential to the success of all businesses, says Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres Group. Writing on his blog, 'Insights,' he says, "At its most basic, it is understanding how consumers buy goods and services, use them, and, ultimately, dispose of them." Understanding, at least partially, the cultural, psychological, anthropological, social, and economic factors that affect customers’ lives and buying decisions helps retailers to not only meet their needs today but anticipate future ones. To succeed in business, retailers must not simply address the practical or rational needs of their customers (the problem) — for example, providing them the tool needed for a job — but also their hidden emotional needs. Developing a deeper understanding of the behavioural dynamics that impact consumers will open doors to better engage and interact with customers. "The benefits of understanding consumer behaviour does not begin and end with your brand," says Jenkins. "It can drive the successful decisions and priorities you make moving forward. . . . The more you know about your customers, the more you know about your own business."

Keson Partners With SOLA Measuring Tools

Measuring and marking product manufacturer Keson LLC has partnered with SOLA Measuring Tools to bring levels from both brands to the North American market. Keson has launched a two-brand strategy that will position SOLA branded levels at the high-end of the market while Keson-branded levels are positioned as the best of the mid-tier levels. All levels for the campaign will be made for Keson at one of SOLA’s two European manufacturing facilities in Austria and Hungary. Keson has introduced more than 60 different level products under the SOLA and Keson brands. The levels feature SOLA's FOCUS vial technology that show higher contrast and allow reading from a distance and in low-light settings.

Gratton Veaudry Named Merchandise Manager

Renee Gratton Veaudry is merchandise manager, plumbing/fashion with Home Hardware Stores Limited. She has nearly 20 years of experience in category management, marketing, and merchandising including as vice-president of sales at Talon Systems Inc.

WD-40 Sales Up

WD-40 Company had total net sales of $114 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2019, an increase of seven per cent compared to net sales of $107 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $18.1 million, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the prior-year quarter. Gross margin was 54.5 per cent compared to 54.8 per cent. Net sales for the Americas segment were $53 million, flat compared to the same quarter in 2018. Net sales of maintenance products was up six per cent and homecare and cleaning products was up 16 per cent.

July 9, 2019

June Dodge Momentum Index Increases

The Dodge Momentum Index moved four per cent higher in June to 146.1 from the revised May reading of 140.5. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning in the U.S., which have been shown to lead construction spending for U.S. non-residential buildings by a full year. The June increase reflected a 6.1 per cent jump by its institutional component and a 2.4 per cent gain by its commercial component. However, despite the improvement, planning for commercial and institutional building projects has clearly stepped back from the torrid pace set during the first half of 2018. The average of the overall Momentum Index through the first six months of 2019 was 4.3 per cent lower than the same period a year ago, with the commercial component down 5.2 per cent and the institutional component down three per cent. What June’s improvement does affirm is that the broader pullback by the index remains gradual, and that there are still ample projects at the planning stage to maintain stability for construction spending in the near term.

RONA VeRONA Celebrates 90th Anniversary

Lowe's Canada affiliate store RONA VeRONA Hardware is celebrating its 90th anniversary. The store is the oldest business in Verona, ON, and is owned by Nicole and Chad Van Camp. They celebrated on July 6 with a fundraising barbecue and raffle. The local hardware shop was founded in 1929 by Steven and Victor Merrill in what is now Nicole’s Gifts, also owned by the Van Camps. Forty-two years later, entrepreneur Ken Harper bought the store. In 1994, Ken and his wife Evelyn moved the business to its current 10,000-square-foot location. Chad and Nicole acquired the store in 2004.

Feldman Timber Joins Group BMR

Timmins, ON-based Feldman Timber has joined BMR Group. The family-owned business, which settled in Timmins nearly 110 years ago, will undergo renovations to allow the 23,000-square-foot store to display the BMR banner in the upcoming months. The façade of the store will be revamped and the interior design will be modernized. "Our goal is to be the leader in our marketplace," says Lorne Feldman, owner. "With competitive pricing, integrated distribution, exciting new products in many categories, and a dynamic marketing program, BMR provides us the tools to give our customers an exceptional shopping experience along with great value."

3,000 Western Forest Employees Go On Strike

Roughly 3,000 Western Forest Products Inc. employees have gone on strike, says the company in a press release. The strike affects all of the company's United Steelworkers (USW) certified manufacturing and timberlands operations in British Columbia. Western has been working to negotiate a new collective agreement, as has been achieved in the northern and southern interior of British Columbia, where the USW and the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association, respectively, have ratified new collective agreements. The actions taken by the USW come at a time when British Columbia forestry companies are curtailing production and shutting down mills due to poor market conditions. The company has commenced its work stoppage contingency plan and is working to mitigate the potential impact of the strike on its business partners and customers.

Francis Appointed CEO

Julian G. Francis is president and chief executive officer of Beacon Roofing Supply, effective September 1. He is currently president of the insulation business at Owens Corning.

July 8, 2019

Business Optimism Up Sharply

Canadian business leaders are more optimistic about the prospects of the Canadian economy heading into the summer, says a survey from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Optimism about the economy over the next 12 months is up sharply among professional accountants in leadership positions. Almost one in three (31 per cent) of the survey respondents were optimistic in the second quarter of 2019, up from 22 per cent the previous quarter. About a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) were pessimistic, while cautious neutrality continues to be the opinion of the largest group (44 per cent), very similar to last quarter (47 per cent). What is interesting about the latest findings is that optimism and pessimism essentially flipped in the second quarter when compared with the year's opening three months. The top three challenges to the Canadian economy were cited as protectionist trade sentiment in the U.S. (19 per cent); uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy (16 per cent); and the state of the U.S. economy (11 per cent).

Double Digit Residential Sales Growth In GTA

There were 8,860 residential sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) in June, representing a 10.4 per cent increase compared to June 2018, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). Over the same time period, total new listings remained at a similar level for the month of June and active listings at month-end were down by 5.7 per cent. Sales and new listings statistics for the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018 painted a similar story to that of June. Sales were up by 8.5 per cent, while new listings were up by less than one per cent. This shows that sales accounted for a greater share of listings compared to last year, which means that competition between buyers increased, resulting in renewed price growth in many segments of the market. TREB says buyers started moving off the sidelines in the spring, as evidenced by strong year-over-year price growth throughout the second quarter. However, because there was virtually no change in the number of new listings, market conditions tightened and price growth picked up.

Lowe's Canada Donates To Charles-Bruneau Foundation

Lowe's Canada has presented $1.3 million to the Charles-Bruneau Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research. The donation was presented at the finish line of the '24th Tour CIBC Charles-Bruneau' on July 5 in Boucherville, QC. This was the company' second fundraising campaign as a Diamond Partner. Several initiatives were carried out for the campaign including a team of 120 cyclists made up of employees, affiliated dealers, and vendor partners who took part in various tour treks. Together, they biked over 13,000 km to support the cause. In addition, from June 1 to July 5, participating RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace corporate and affiliated dealer stores in Quebec led a fundraising campaign at checkout counters. Employees also held various activities to involve customers in the campaign.

Outdoor Living Drives Landscaping Products Sales

Consumers are crazy about outdoor living, and it's positively impacting demand for higher value hardscape products and outdoor heating implements, says The Freedonia Group. Outdoor living includes lounging, cooking and dining, entertaining, gardening and landscaping, and tailgating. As consumers seek to expand the square footage of their homes by creating more elaborate 'outdoor rooms' that emulate the comfort and aesthetics of indoor living areas, they'll increasingly invest in more expensive hardscape products. Demand for hardscape products is expected to increase 5.4 per cent per year through 2023, driven by interest in higher value products such as stamped concrete plank pavers that resemble wood, natural stone products, porcelain pavers, and permeable pavers that can help prevent issues with water runoff and flooding. Furthermore, outdoor living stalwarts like fire pits and chimeneas - part of the $665 million 'other landscaping products- category - will see renewed interest from homeowners seeking to add ambience to their outdoor rooms and extend their outdoor leisure time past sunset, particularly in cooler climates where outdoor living is seasonally limited.

July 5, 2019

Home Buyer Demand Slows In Vancouver

With home buyer demand below long-term historical averages in June, the supply of homes for sale continued to accumulate in Metro Vancouver, BC, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential home sales in the region totalled 2,077 in June, a 14.4 per cent decrease from the 2,425 sales recorded in June 2018 and a 21.3 per cent decrease from the 2,638 homes sold in May. Last month's sales were 34.7 per cent below the 10-year June sales average; this is the lowest total for the month since 2000. On the supply side, there were 4,751 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in June. This represents a 10 per cent decrease compared to June 2018 and an 18.9 per cent decrease compared to May. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for June 2019 is 13.9 per cent.

Renovated RONA Opens

The newly-renovated RONA building centre in Debden, SK, owned by Leah and Dean Demers, is celebrating its grand opening. The store, which previously housed a grocery section, underwent major renovations over the past few months, more than doubling its sales area and significantly increasing its product selection. “We have been working on this project for several months now and we are thrilled to welcome customers to our remodeled and larger RONA store,” says Dean Demers. “By moving the grocery portion of the business to a new location next door, we now offer 10,000 square feet of hardware retail area. This allowed us to add thousands of products to our selection and bring in completely new product categories such as appliances. Local homeowners and contractors can expect to see even more new features over the next few months as we are always looking to better serve our customers.”

TIMBER MART Welcomes Quebec Member

Waterloo, QC-based Adam Lumber Ltd. has joined TIMBER MART for better buying power in its key building material categories. The original equipment manufacturer says the group will help in its growth strategy both in Canada and the U.S. as well as grow the business with new products and offerings. Since 1923, Adam Lumber has been providing its contractor customers with a selection of building materials which has grown to include gypsum, insulation, roof and floor trusses, prefabricated roof and floor sections, i-joists, and engineered wood products. Today, the business serves a number of communities in southeastern Quebec and northeastern United States and sits on a 30-acre property that encompasses 11 buildings.

SANIFLO Canada Partners With Pro-West Sales

Pro-West Sales Ltd., an independent sales agency, now represents SANIFLO Canada, a division of Group SFA, for the wholesale channel in the province of British Columbia. Specialists in plumbing and heating, Pro-West Sales delivers inside and outside sales support with industry professionals and specifiers in all segments of the market including builders, contractors, interior designers, facility managers, and plumbing showrooms.

U.S. Manufacturing Remains Near Stagnation

June data signalled a further near-stagnation of operating conditions across the U.S. manufacturing sector. The rate of overall growth held close to May's near-decade low. On a positive note, the rate of output growth quickened slightly amid a renewed rise in new orders. However, in line with muted increases in output, firms reined in staff hiring, expanding workforce numbers at the slowest pace for almost three years. Subsequently, output expectations remained subdued. The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) posted 50.6 in June, broadly in line with 50.5 in May, to signal only a marginal improvement in the health of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Richelieu Sales Up

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. had consolidated sales of $281.2 million for the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.8 per cent over consolidated sales of $263.3 million for the second quarter of 2018. Sales for the quarter were $238.1 million in the manufacturers market, up 7.1 per cent compared with $222.4 million for the year-ago period. All market segments contributed to the gain. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores stood at $43.1 million, up 5.4 per cent over last year. In Canada, Richelieu had sales of $183 million, an increase of 1.3 per cent over the second quarter of 2018 entirely from acquisition growth. Sales to manufacturers amounted to $151.9 million compared to $148 million, an increase of 2.6 per cent all from acquisition growth. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores totalled to $31.1 million, down 4.9 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2018. Sales in the U.S. were up 14 per cent. Overall, net earnings for the second quarter were $19.4 million, up from $18.2 million in the year-ago period.

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