Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


September 17, 2019

August Home Sales Edge Higher

National home sales rose 1.4 per cent month-over-month in August and five per cent year-over-year, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The increase in August was the sixth consecutive month increase. Transactions are now running almost 17 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019, but remain about 10 per cent below highs reached in 2016 and 2017. Activity was up in slightly more than half of all local markets, although monthly changes were generally modest across most of the country. Gains were led by a record-setting August in Winnipeg, MB, and a further improvement in the Fraser Valley, BC. Moncton, NB, posted the biggest monthly decline in sales, returning to more normal levels after having recently jumped to record heights. CREA says sales are being impacted by the mortgage stress test and the recent marginal decline in interest rates. The number of newly listed homes rose 1.1 per cent in August. With sales and new supply up by similar magnitudes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio was 60.1 per cent ‒ little changed from July's reading of 60 per cent. The measure has risen above its long-term average (of 53.6 per cent) in recent months, which indicates a tighter balance between supply and demand and a growing potential for price gains.

North Delta Carries Sansin Exterior Finishes

Surrey, BC-based North Delta Paint & Decorating now carries the Sansin Corporation's full line of exterior wood finishes. Sansin's exterior finishes offer protection for siding, decks, furniture, and millwork. The line includes Dec, ENS, Classic 1·2·3, and SDF.

AEP Expands Products At Ontario Facility

Atlas Engineered Products (AEP) is implementing significant product expansions at its Satellite Building Components facility in Merrickville, ON. "The addition of automated machinery and design software has allowed us to offer our clients customized I-Joists, LVL options, and open web floors," says Dirk Maritz, CEO. Established in 1974, Satellite was acquired by AEP in 2018. Satellite specializes in designing and supplying roof trusses and engineered floor joists throughout eastern Ontario.

Brilliant Partners With Schlage

Home controls manufacturer Brilliant, an Allegion brand, has partnered with Schlage to integrate Schlage's Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt with its Smart Home Control system. The combined unit will give end-users complete access control as well as the ability to lock or unlock doors from any wall-mounted Brilliant Control or by utilizing voice commands through integration with Amazon Alexa. Homeowners will also be able to control locks as part of their home automation scenes. The Schlage Encode deadbolt features built-in WiFi, making additional hubs and gateways unnecessary and allowing it to be added to a wider variety of smart home ecosystems.

Home Hardware Makes Changes

Ron Krochuk is merchandise manager of forest products at Home Hardware Stores Limited, effective September 30. He has 25 years of forest products experience, including positions at Lowe's and Home Depot. Rob Szekszer is director of merchandise hardlines. He was previously with Canadian Tire where he held numerous roles in financial services, merchandising, and advertising.

September 16, 2019

Canadians Choosing To Renovate

Canadians are staying in their homes instead of moving and opting to renovate the homes they're in, finds the first ever national 'Reno Report' from HomeStars. Only nine per cent of Canadian homeowners are considering selling in the next 12 months. In addition, nearly two-thirds of homeowners say they plan to spend as much or more on improving their homes in the next 12 months than they did in the past year. Looking at spending across generations, it was the Millennials who were the most active, despite being the generation with the lowest disposable income. Almost three-quarters of Millennials plan to spend as much or more on maintenance in the coming year and 72 per cent plan to spend as much or more on larger renovations. Overall, bathrooms were the number one major home renovation planned for the next year at 24 per cent, followed by kitchens at 20 per cent. Homeowner hiring confidence is also high, with almost three-quarters of Canadians confident they were charged a fair price for recent major home projects.

Element5 To Open Mass Timber Factory In Ontario

Building upon the success of its existing cross laminated timber (CLT) plant and related engineering team in Quebec, mass timber manufacturer Element5 will open a second, much larger facility in St. Thomas, ON, in December 2020. The 125,000-square-foot, $50 million facility will house a technologically advanced, fully automated CLT and glulam production line, and produce up to 45,000 cubic metres of CLT and glulam annually. CLT is an engineered wood product comprised of massive, solid wood panels up to 12-feet wide, 53-feet long, and 14-inches thick, made by cross-laminating and bonding multiple layers of dimensional lumber. The panels are structural, used as floors, walls, and roof elements, and are an environmentally-friendly alternative to concrete and steel. CLT is what makes tall wood buildings possible because of the structural strength of each panel. They are prefabricated using high tech equipment, then shipped to site for rapid assembly. They’re cheaper to build, faster to construct, and they contribute to helping the world’s C02 issue because of the carbon-sequestering properties of wood. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is investing in the facility a grant of just under $5 million. Element5 specializes in the design, fabrication, and assembly of contemporary timber structures.

U.S. Retail Sales Has Gains

U.S. retail sales for August increased 4.1 per cent compared to August 2018 and 0.4 per cent compared to July, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Retail sales were up 3.7 per cent for the quarter compared to the same quarter last year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers had sales of $32.8 billion in August, compared to sales of $34.1 billion in August 2018.

RONA Stores Support Local Food Bank

Four corporate RONA stores in the Gatineau region in Quebec presented a cheque of $217,000 to Moisson Outaouais, a local food bank, as part of the 2019 Loto-Moisson campaign. This brings the total of donations up to $1 million since RONA partnered with the organization in 2011. In addition to being major partners of the annual Loto-Moisson campaign, the stores support the food bank through several activities held throughout the year. RONA is a Lowe's Canada banner.

Lowe's Canada Supports Student Athletes

Lowe’s Canada presented the third 'Bonneville 808 Challenge' in support of the Foundation for Athletic Excellence, alongside Fenplast. This long-distance cycling event took place at Mont-Tremblant, QC, on September 13 and 14 and welcomed hundreds of cyclists taking part in challenging courses ranging from 115 kilometres to 808 kilometres. Lowe’s Canada was represented by a team of cyclists that participated in the 202 kilometre route. As part of this partnership with the Foundation for Athletic Excellence, student athletes will be awarded Lowe’s Canada grants.

September 13, 2019

Building Permits Rise Three Per Cent

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities rose three per cent to $8.3 billion in July, largely due to increases in multi-family and commercial permits, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in five provinces, with over one-third of the national increase in British Columbia. Quebec reported the largest decrease, down four per cent to $1.6 billion due to lower construction intentions in all components of the non-residential sector. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose in seven provinces, increasing 4.2 per cent to $2.8 billion in July and the value of permits for single-family dwellings nationally edged down 0.2 per cent. The largest gain was in commercial permits, which rose 6.7 per cent to $2 billion, offsetting three consecutive months of declines. The increase was largely attributable to high-value permits for office buildings in the census metropolitan area of Vancouver.

Giant Tiger Launches Loyalty Program In Ontario

Discount retailer Giant Tiger Stores Limited has launched a loyalty program called 'GT VIP' to the Ontario market. The program launched to 23 stores in the Ottawa, ON, region in April and, after the success of the program in those markets, is now launching in all of Ontario. GT VIP is a free app available for Android and iOS devices. Once downloaded, customers can search their GT VIP deals, browse the weekly flyer, and shop online. At the store, customers can simply scan the 'stripes' barcode or provide their phone number to activate the deals at checkout. Members also receive benefits including exclusive contests and sweepstakes, as well as partnership perks such as restaurant and sporting events savings. The company anticipates full Canada-wide rollout starting early 2020.

Robust Growth Forecast For LED Lighting

LED lighting accounts for more than a 40 per cent share in the general lighting market and the number is estimated to cross the 80 per cent mark by 2025, says research from Global Market Insight. Supportive government initiatives to promote the adoption of energy-efficient lighting technologies are driving the adoption of LED lamps across the globe. Moreover, the declining average selling price of the LED lamps across the globe is also serving as a major force accelerating their adoption. The demand for smart lighting and the durability of LED lamps are also contributing to growth. The outdoor lighting market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 21 per cent during the projected timeline. The outdoor lighting applications are characterized by high safety and security, low maintenance cost, and adequate lighting needs while keeping the cost low.

ODL Launches Doorglass Frame Line

ODL, Inc., a supplier of decorative and clear doorglass and entry treatments, has launched ZEEL, a frame for glass in entry doors. The design is sleek and can be stained or painted. The clean, low-profile look offers a stylish alternative to flush glazed doors. The product is a result of market research conducted by ODL that revealed a gap in the doorglass frame market and a need for a sleeker, more streamlined option. ZEEL features a clip system that eliminates the need for screws and reduces installation time. It also provides the ability to replace just the doorglass and frame in the event of damage. The frames are available in five sizes and can be used in conjunction with most doorglass, including the clear and decorative options offered by ODL.

Spectrum Makes Changes

Jeremy W. Smeltser will be executive vice-president (EVP) of Spectrum Brand Holdings, Inc., effective October 1. He will be EVP and chief financial officer (CFO) on December 20. Most recently, he was vice-president and CFO for SPX FLOW, Inc. Randy D. Lewis is EVP and chief operating officer (COO). Previously, he was senior vice-president (SVP) and COO. Rebeckah Long is SVP, global human resources. She was most recently vice-president of human resources.

Dollarama Has Increased Sales

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $946.4 million for the second quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of nine per cent over sales of $868.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2018. Comparable store sales grew 4.7 per cent over a 2.6 per cent growth the previous year. Gross margin for the quarter was 43.7 per cent of sales compared to 29.8 per cent of sales in the year-ago period. Operating income grew 2.7 per cent to $221.6 million and 23.4 per cent of sales.

September 12, 2019

Worker Financial Stress Costing Employers

Almost half (43 per cent) of Canadian workers are so financially stressed that their performance at work is actually suffering, says a survey from the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA). The CPA calculates that financial stress deducts nearly $16 billion a year in lost productivity from the Canadian economy and that’s a conservative estimate. The costs of increased absenteeism, turnover, and benefit claims, as well as decreased job satisfaction and morale also need to be taken into account. Almost a quarter of working Canadians say they spend just under 40 minutes each day distracted by personal financial matters at work. That equates to an 8.1 per cent loss in productivity based on an eight-hour workday. The most significant concerns centred on rising costs of living ‒ including housing costs and looming increases in interest and mortgage rates ‒ with 40 per cent reporting they feel overwhelmed by the amount they owe. CPA suggests payroll implement and champion a ‘pay yourself first’ program to help reduce the impact of financial stress.

Canadians Welcome NAFTA Decision

A joint NAFTA panel has decided they can't agree with the U.S. International Trade Commission that there is evidence Canadian imports are causing injury to the U.S. industry. It says the U.S. has 90 days to reconsider the evidence it used to draw that conclusion. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the decision. "The decision supports what Canada has been saying all along, that U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are unfair and unwarranted," says Chrystia Freeland, minister of foreign affairs. "The panel’s decision is an important step in the right direction in having these duties on Canadian exports removed and the sums collected reimbursed." The BC Lumber Trade Council also welcomes the decision. "The BC Lumber Trade Council is gratified to see the NAFTA Panel’s ruling today that the U.S. International Trade Commission’s determination that the U.S. lumber industry is 'injured' by Canadian lumber imports is flawed in a number of important respects," says Susan Yurkovich, president of the council. The council "is disappointed, however, by the panel’s conclusion that Western Red Cedar/Redwood was not entitled to its own injury analysis."

Steady Hiring Pace To Continue

Canadian employers expect a steady hiring pace to continue over the next three months, says ManpowerGroup in its latest ‘Employment Outlook Survey.’ Employers in the Quebec region are forecasting their strongest outlook in 16 years. With seasonal variations removed from the data, the net employment outlook of +12 per cent is unchanged compared to the previous quarter and is relatively stable compared with a decrease of one percentage point compared to the outlook reported during the same time last year. Fifteen per cent of employers plan to increase their staffing levels in the fourth quarter, while six per cent anticipate cutbacks. Employers in all 10 industry sectors in all four regions of the country expect to add to payrolls this quarter.

Simpson Strong-Tie Releases Latest Fastener Catalog

Simpson Strong-Tie's '2019-2020 Fastening Systems Catalog' is now available. This latest edition of the catalog features all of the company's structural fasteners for attaching wood to wood, wood to metal, and wood to engineered wood, as well as the Quik Drive auto-feed screw driving systems. It includes new product information and applicable specification and installation instructions. The company has also redesigned the catalog to make it easier for users to find information. The publication has been separated into two parts ‒ the main catalog and a technical guide. It is available for free download.

Fillinger To Lead Interfor

Ian Fillinger will be president and chief executive officer of Interfor Corporation, effective January 1. He is currently senior vice-president and chief operating officer and has been with the company since 2005.

HD Supply Has Solid Quarter

Industrial distributor HD Supply Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1.6 billion for the second quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, an increase of 1.5 per cent compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2018. Gross profit was $633 million for the quarter, an increase of 1.8 per cent compared to gross profit of $622 million for the year-ago period. Gross profit was 39 per cent of net sales compared to 38.9 per cent last year. Net income was $13.5 million, up 3.1 per cent compared to $131 million. Net sales for the facilities maintenance segment increased 1.2 per cent year-over-year and net sales for the construction and industrial segment increased 1.2 per cent.

September 11, 2019

Housing Starts Trend Up In August

The trend in housing starts was 218,998 units in August, compared to 208,931 units in July, 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. "Higher trending single-detached starts in urban centres in July and August following roughly a year of declines combined with higher-trending multi-family units in August to push the total starts trend to its highest level since June 2018,” says Bob Dugan, chief economist. The Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; Regina, SK; and Halifax, NS, census metropolitan areas (CMAs) housing starts trended lower in August. The Guelph, Toronto, and Peterborough, ON, CMAs housing starts continued their upwards trends, with Peterborough at a 12-year high in August. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 226,639 units in August, up 1.9 per cent from 222,467 units in July.

Convenience Drives Holiday Consumer Purchasing

Holiday shopping is now a six-month season, with almost 20 per cent of consumers starting their shopping as early as mid-summer and 29 per cent getting a head start in the fall, says a study by digital marketing company Bazaarvoice, Inc. Online shopping will reign supreme, but in-store experiences are still important. Almost two-thirds of consumers say they will complete the majority of their holiday shopping online. However, brick-and-mortar is still a critical part of holiday shopping with more than a third (37 per cent) of respondents saying they will complete the bulk of their purchases in-store and 36 per cent will complete the majority or entirety of their shopping at a mall. No matter where consumers shop, they want it to be convenient. Consumers’ biggest complaints with online holiday shopping are lengthy shipping times and slow order fulfillment (43 per cent), followed by difficulty to decide between brand and product options (39 per cent). In-store, shoppers are overwhelmingly burdened by long checkout lines (75 per cent) and messy/overcrowded stores (61 per cent). Consumers believe brands can improve the holiday shopping experience by improving convenience with experiences like self-checkout or buy online, pick up in store options (60 per cent), and implementing faster and more cost-efficient shipping solutions (57 per cent).

U.S. Planned Non-residential Construction Slides

The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 1.3 per cent from July to August to 137.8 from the revised August reading of 139.6. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. The drop in September was the result of a 16.6 per cent decline in the institutional component offsetting a 9.1 per cent gain in the commercial component. On a year-over-year basis, the overall index is 10.3 per cent below August 2018, suggesting that construction spending will be settling back as the year progresses. However, most of the decline occurred in 2018. The index has lost only 1.8 per cent since the beginning of 2019, indicating that while construction activity will ease it is not in a freefall. On a year-over-year basis, the institutional component is 22.5 per cent lower, while the commercial component is down 2.4 per cent.

Disruptive Technologies Remain Early In Adoption Cycle

There is substantial room for further comfort with, and adoption of, revolutionary technologies, says Global X ETFs. Its consumer insights survey, 'Consumer Adoption of Disruptive Technologies,' shows that among the major disruptions of the digital age, the replacement of physical retail consumption with online shopping has been one of the most widely adopted, yet the survey finds additional potential for advancing this trend. One in five surveyed say they will still not feel comfortable purchasing almost anything online without seeing the item in person first. Respondents show greater comfort buying smaller-ticket items online; for large-ticket items, however, consumers show more caution with less than 12 per cent willing to purchase larger items online without seeing it in person first. On the whole, Millennials are most comfortable with new technologies.

Interfor To Reconfigure B.C. Coastal Business

Interfor Corporation will reconfigure its British Columbia coastal business, including permanent closure of its Hammond sawmill in Maple Ridge and reorganization of its forestry and woodlands operations. The plan is expected to result in the repatriation of working capital tied up at Hammond, the monetization of related real estate, and improved results in the years ahead. The Hammond sawmill, which was built in 1963, has a two-shift capacity of approximately 150 million board feet per year, but has been operating on a one-shift basis for some years due to log supply constraints and other factors. The closure is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, after the mill’s remaining log and lumber inventories are processed and shipped. The company’s B.C. coastal forestry and woodlands operations will be reorganized to focus on value realization rather than operational integration with Hammond. In addition, the company will explore opportunities to increase the supply of logs for its Acorn sawmill, located in Delta, BC.

Goodman Makes Changes

Satoru Akama is president and chief executive officer of Goodman Global Group, Inc., a member of the Daikin group. He has been with the company since 1986. Bradley Snyder is senior vice-president and president of the Goodman Business Unit for Goodman Manufacturing Company, L.P. Previously, he was senior vice-president of North American sales and distribution.

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