Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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

News

August 31, 2011

Target Hiring For Canadian Launch

Target Canada is beginning to staff its operations in anticipation of opening its first 135 stores in March 2013. The retailer has launched a careers website and plans to hire “tens of thousands” of Canadians, including 150 to 200 employees per store, and 500 people in its head office in Mississauga, ON. The company is entering the market by buying up the leaseholds on 220 Zellers’ stores.

Lack Of Resources Reduces Social Media Use

Only 17 per cent of Canadian companies post to social media sites regularly and monitor for corporate mention, says a survey by SAS/Leger. While 30 per cent of executives interviewed say their company posts to social media sites at least several times a week, only three in five of those often monitor social media conversations. For those that don't actively monitor for mentions, half of them (49 per cent) cited a lack of resources as the reason they aren't doing it more often. Thirteen per cent of those surveyed say their company does not engage in social media at all because it is viewed as a waste of time and effort.

J.D. Power Teams Up With Home Builders

J.D. Power and Associates and the Professional Home Builders Institute will bring real-time homeowner satisfaction feedback to homebuilders in Canada. The initiative is designed to assist home building companies with gauging customer satisfaction performance improvement efforts. Based on this customer feedback, homebuilders that achieve a score. Those in the top 20th percentile will be recognized as a ‘J.D. Power Builder of Excellence.’ The designation identifies homebuilders that provide superior service and deliver high customer satisfaction.

Overstocked Tools At Menards

The appearance of Craftsman tools at some Menards stores in the Midwest United States is being used to liquidate discontinued items, says Sears. The sale of discontinued SKUs is an experimental program. Ace Hardware announced an exclusive merchandising agreement allowing its dealers to sell a limited collection of Craftsman-branded tools in 2010 and the buying group has been rolling out the program this year to hundreds of member stores. Ace merchants assured their members that the Menards items were overstocked tools and the program was not a permanent one.

Retailer Altering Merchandising Strategies

Lowe’s will be gradually making changes to its merchandising strategies, calling it “integrating, planning and execution” (IPE), or putting the right product in the right store at the right quantity. Bob Gfeller, executive vice-president of merchandising, says the process is catering to the needs of local markets as the retailer wants to challenge previous merchandising habits to create an “institutional memory to maintain local assortment decisions when merchants change.” Eighty per cent of the merchandising teams have product line reviews in process using IPE techniques that will drive different product decisions. The remerchandised category should be ready for the fall of 2011.

USG Closing Branches

USG Corp. will close eight of its L&W Supply distribution branches by the end of the third quarter. The manufacturer of Sheetrock and other building materials will also shutter its Nevada custom door and frame business. The company expects to incur cash expenditures of approximately $6 million to $7 million in the current and future fiscal quarters in connection with the closures.

Consumer Confidence At Two-year Low

The U.S. consumer confidence index dropped to 44.5, down from a revised 59.2 in July, says the Conference Board. This is the lowest level since April 2009 when the reading was 40.8. The level was far below the 53.3 that analysts had expected. A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth.

Saint-Gobain Appoints President, CEO

John Crowe is president and CEO of both Saint-Gobain Corporation (Saint-Gobain’s North American holding company) and CertainTeed Corporation (Saint-Gobain’s largest North American subsidiary). Crowe will act as the company’s representative in North America, overseeing the businesses.  He succeeds Gilles Colas who will return to the company’s Paris, France, headquarters as senior vice-president of global strategic developments.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 30, 2011

Strong Forecast For Real Estate

Canada’s real estate will be strong in the last half of 2011, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Mortgage rates near historic lows, as well as reduced unemployment, combined with increased house prices have led to fewer claims under its mortgage insurance business which protects lenders against default. The agency says it expects fixed mortgage rates to stay relatively flat for most of the year, with the five-year posted rate at between 4.1 to 5.6 per cent, and then increase slightly in 2012, while variable rate mortgages will remain near historically low levels.

Consumer Spending At Five-month High

Consumer spending in the United States grew in July by 0.8 per cent, the largest amount in five months, the Commerce Department says. That followed a decline in June and helped ease fears that the U.S. economy is on the verge of another recession. Economists say the spending report is a strong sign that the economy rebounded in July after growing at an annual rate of just 0.7 per cent in the first half of the year, the slowest pace since the recession officially ended two years ago. Consumer spending is important because it accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity.

Lowe’s Implements Retail Changes

Lowe’s is implementing new initiatives for its retail customers. The company says to expect fewer promotional sales, more emphasis on ‘every day low pricing,’ and a broader assortment on Lowes.com. In addition, equipment repairs will be available for lawn mowers, string trimmers, and other outdoor power equipment directly through the retailer rather than through the manufacturer. 

Holiday Gift Ideas For The Home

Masco Canada wants to inspire holiday shoppers this year with gift ideas for the bathroom and kitchen. The manufacturer of Delta Faucet, Brizo, Hansgrohe, and Axor kitchen and bath products is recommending a variety of fixtures for all types of recipients. For the tech savvy guy or busy family, Delta’s Addison faucets for kitchen or bath with Touch20.xt Technology lets water be turned on or off by tapping the spout or handle.  The Virage Sconce and Wall Mirror from Brizo is perfect for mom’s bathroom and is available with matching faucets, showerheads, and shower trim. For that special someone, the Axor Starck ShowerHeaven gives a luxurious showering experience with three spray jet settings.

Buying Expo Set For Montreal

The ‘Chalifour Canada Retailer Buying Expo’ for independent home improvement and hardware retailers and industry suppliers will be held at the Place Bonaventure in Montreal, QC, October 29 and 30. Lumber, building material, and hardware vendors will be on site to network. For more information, visit www.chalifourexpo.com

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 29, 2011

Retail Council Promises Transition Help

The Retail Council of Canada has committed to continue working with the British Columbia government to ensure a smooth transition from the HST. "We commend the government for listening to retailers and announcing a consultative process that will allow sufficient time to change point-of-sale systems and to consider other improvements that will help retailers and our customers" says Anne Kothawala, senior vice-president, public affairs, Retail Council of Canada. "Undoing the implementation of the HST involves a costly and time-consuming undertaking for businesses small and large. Our members would rather be investing time and resources in the creation of additional jobs, as opposed to the millions of dollars that will need to be spent to adjust their accounting and point-of -sale systems." Retail is the largest employer in British Columbia, with retail employment representing more than 12 per cent of the province's total labour force, directly employing more than 300,000 British Columbians. Having to undo the implementation of the HST comes at a particularly challenging time when retailers are striving to adapt to a redefined consumer landscape following the global recession.

Non-residential Construction Sluggish

Uncertainty in the market and difficulties getting projects approved are putting the brakes on non-residential construction, says management consulting and investment banker provider FMI. Its ‘Nonresidential Construction Index’ slipped from 58.6 to a still positive 52.4 for the third quarter of 2011. Although the survey closed the week before the stock market slide, the uncertainty in the markets is reflected in the panelists’ responses. Another factor mentioned was contractors taking more care to assure project financing was in place before the project got started.

Tax Benefit Spikes Earnings

Luxury home builder Toll Brothers had net earnings in the third quarter of $42.1 million, a 54 per cent increase with a one-time tax benefit of $38.2 million. This compares with a net income of $27.3 million in the same period a year ago which included a $26.5 million tax benefit. Third-quarter revenues and home-building deliveries of $394.3 million and 693 units decreased 13 per cent in dollars and 14 per cent in units. The company operates in 19 states, serving move-up, empty-nester, active-adult, and second-home buyers.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 26, 2011

Ace Re-launches Business Development Site

Ace Hardware Corporation has launched an improved business development website at myace.com. The site will provide information to prospective retailers interested in opening a store or those who want to explore the process of conversion from a different co-operative or independent hardware store. It showcases written and video testimonials from retailers who have recently joined and also includes an outline of the process, application forms, and a library of recent news, ratings, and awards. 

OSB Production Halted

Louisiana-Pacific Corp. will curtail production of oriented strand board (OSB) at its Dawson Creek, BC, mill. The mill will continue to manufacture LP TechShield Radiant Barrier Sheathing to support the West Coast markets. Jeff Wagner, vice-president of OSB, says the wood and building materials manufacturer will resume OSB press production as the housing market improves. The Dawson Creek OSB mill was constructed in 1987.

Moderate Canadian Housing Starts Predicted

The housing market will ease slightly, but ‘remain steady’ this year and next, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Its third-quarter report says an anticipated correction in the Canadian housing market is not in the cards. In British Columbia, the expectation is for prices to move more moderately through the rest of 2011 after shooting up dramatically over the first six months of the year and for housing starts to stay steady before rising again in 2012. The agency expects BC realtors to record 80,200 home sales through the multiple-listing service by the end of this year, then 85,400 next year. CMHC is forecasting that homebuilders will start work on 26,400 new homes by the end of 2011, "on par with 2010 levels," then rise to 29,000 new homes in 2012.

Wood Production Slow To Rebound  

It will be the middle of this decade – at the earliest – before several major Canadian industries return to pre-recession levels of production, says the Conference Board of Canada. The ‘Canadian Industrial Profile-Summer 2011’ report says the outlook for the wood products industry is tied closely to residential construction and, therefore, will struggle along with the housing market until 2012. The report forecasts industry production is unlikely to surpass its 2005 peak before the end of the forecast period in 2015.

Income Slips After Acquisition

Big Lots Inc.’s second-quarter net income slipped eight per cent, hurt by a decline in a key revenue metric and a charge related to its new Canadian stores. The retailer obtained the Canadian stores as part of its acquisition of Liquidation World Inc. in July. The company earned $35.7 million, compared with $38.9 million a year ago. Revenue increased three per cent to $1.17 billion from $1.14 billion.

President Steps Down

Scott Freidheim, president of the Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands at Sears Holdings, has resigned to pursue another opportunity. Prior to joining Sears in 2009 as executive vice-president operating and support businesses, he was with Lehman Brothers for more than 17 years, holding officer positions in the investment banking, investment management ,and corporate divisions.

CPCA Industry Conference Comes To Niagara

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association 2011 industry conference will be held in Niagara Falls, ON, October 1 to 3. It offers networking and staff development opportunities with more than 35 sector manufacturers, suppliers, and stakeholders in attendance. For more information, visit www.cdnpaint.org

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 25, 2011

Lowe’s Authorizes Stock Repurchase

Lowe’s board of directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $5 billion of its common stock. Although this new repurchase program has no expiration date, the company expects to use the full amount over the next two to three years. The repurchases will be subject to market conditions and will be made from time to time either in the open market or through private transactions in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Two-Year Low For Confidence

Consumer confidence fell 6.6 points to 74.7 in August, the lowest since July 2009, says the Conference Board of Canada. Forecasters say uncertainty about job creation and future finances is weighing heavily on Canadian consumers. Only British Columbia avoided a decline in confidence in August as the provincial index rose 1.1 points. The index in Atlantic Canada fell by 12 points, eight points in the Prairies, and 4.3 points in Ontario. The sharpest decline occurred in Quebec which fell 12.7 points to 67.1, the lowest level among Canada's regions.

PayPal Option Available At HomeDepot.ca

The Home Depot is now accepting PayPal in Canada. As an incentive, the retailer is offering free shipping in Canada on HomeDepot.ca for customers using PayPal until August 31. Consumers can also be entered into a draw to win a $500 gift card by visiting the PayPal Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/paypalcanada
 

Energy Efficiency Calculator Available Online  

CertainTeed has introduced an online tool to assist building professionals in better marketing energy efficiency projects to customers. The website includes access to information on rebates, tax incentives, insulating for optimal thermal comfort, and an energy savings calculator. Visit www.certainteed.com/itools

Remodelling Increases Sales

American Woodmark’s first quarter net sales increased 20 per cent to $131.2 million because of growth to its remodel and new construction business. Those benefits were offset, however, by higher sales promotional expenses and higher materials and fuel costs. The company posted a net loss of $2.7 million.

August 25 Product Spotlight

• The Masonry Coater Jr. by Wooster is a 4″brush that can easily fit into a one-gallon can while still offering high production. It features a mix of tampico and polypropylene for great pickup and release and to achieve throughout coverage with all thick-bodied paints and waterproofing, foundation, or roof coatings.
• Moen Canada’s single-function hand shower has a 150 centimetre flexible metal hose for extended reach and comes in an Eco-Performance model that consumes 20 per cent less water. It provides the choice of an adjustable wall bracket or 61 centimetre slide bar to better match personal preferences. It is available in Chrome and Brushed Nickel finishes.
• The Bagzilla allows anyone to dispose of up to 2,000 kilograms of general debris, concrete waste, brick waste, home renovation debris, landscaping debris, and furniture without a waste bin. It is available online and at select GTA home improvement retailers.
• RYOBI’s Tek4 4V Lithium Ion Screwdriver offers a 24-position clutch and a two-speed gear box with adjust torque to match the application, and a ¼″ SpeedLoad+ quick-connect chuck to make changing bits simple. It includes a bit set, storage bag, battery, and charger, along with a two-year warranty.
• DeWalt’s range of Wearable Backing Flap Discs and Extended Performance Flap Discs are ideal for welders, fabricators, and professionals working in fabricating shops, shipyards, and on jobsites. The Extended Performance Flap Discs offer users 178 per cent more surface area than the High Performance discs,. The Wearable Flap Discs utilize the flap design and all the life and speed benefits of the Extended Performance discs plus a backing that wears away at the same rate as the cloth.
• At 15 ounces, Stanley’s Fatmax Xtreme MIG15 is lighter and faster than conventional framing hammers, combining the weight of titanium with the strength of steel. It helps to improve control and comfort while also increasing swing speed and strike force. It features a vibration-dampening grip to further improve user comfort and a magnetic nail holding slot for efficient one-handed nail starting.
• Black & Decker’s cordless Orb Vac is a functional mini-hand vac for home and office. The pal-sized Orb Vac comes in three colours including Aqua Blue, Ruby Red, and Grey White and features one-stage standard filtration and an easy-to-empty dirt bowl. It includes a 360° charging base with LED, accessory caddy, and an extension tool that enables vacuuming in small or hard to reach areas. It will be available in October.
• The JELD-WEN Classic Collection of wood windows and patio doors is now available across Canada. Made with proprietary AuraLast treated wood, the collection is durable as well as energy efficient and architecturally appealing. It includes double-hung, casement, awning, bay, and bow styles and radius and geometric windows in an array of shapes such as half-round, quarter-round, full-round segment arch, and elliptica in pine, alder, or Douglas Fir.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 24, 2011

Canadians Quick To Move Homes

Two-thirds of Canadian repeat home buyers are moving on to larger or more luxurious homes and many are moving earlier than they originally planned, says a report from TD Canada Trust. The ‘Home Buyers Report’ found seven-in-10 Canadian repeat buyers were moving earlier than they expected (42 per cent) or had no intention of moving, but now find themselves on the house-hunt again (27 per cent). The number of people intending to buy a home that is not their first in the next two years increased nearly 10 percentage points over 2010 (74 per cent versus 65 per cent in 2010). The top five features homeowners felt they compromised on with their first home that they are not willing to with the second are price (34 per cent), layout of home (33 per cent), features of home (31 per cent), garage or sheltered parking (30 per cent), and number of bedrooms (28 per cent).

Strong Building, Renovation Sales Continue

Retail sales rose 0.7 per cent to $37.8 billion in June, a third consecutive monthly increase, says Statistics Canada. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers registered a second consecutive increase, rising 2.1 per cent, and stronger sales of hardware and home renovation products continued in June. Retail sales rose in seven provinces, with Quebec accounting for almost half of the national sales gain (up 1.5 per cent). Ontario retailers registered sales gains of 0.5 per cent, a third consecutive monthly gain.

Energy Standard Comes To Canada

The world's first global energy management system standard is now available in Canada through CSA Standards. The ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems Standard helps businesses manage and reduce energy consumption and costs and remain competitive in today's marketplace. The new standard will outline best practices for streamlining energy consumption such as the measurement of current energy use and the implementation of an energy measurement system to document, report, and validate ongoing improvements in energy management. Before the introduction, no national energy management systems standard in Canada existed and a CSA survey found a quarter of Canadian executives felt energy is not being consumed efficiently within their organizations.

Home Sales Worst In 50 Years

The number of people who bought new homes fell for the third straight month in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000, the U.S. Commerce Department says. That's less than half the 700,000 that economists say represents a healthy market. The one per cent drop puts sales on track to finish this year as the worst on record dating back half a century.

Do it Best Opens In Indonesia

Do it Best Corp. has opened the first four Pongs Do it Best Home Centers in Jakarta, Indonesia. The co-op has now expanded its customer base to 50 countries, with a five year plan to open a total of 40 outlets in this country. The locations in Jakarta encompass more than 100,000 square feet of combined retail space.

$2.8 Million Expansion in Quebec

RONA has broken ground to expand its retail store in Saint-Raymond de Portneuf, QC. The 15,000 square foot outlet is expected to open in December and will be owned by Paulin Moisan, a businessman with 49 years of experience, and managed by his children Sophie, François, Bernard, and Denis. The project, which required an investment of $2.8 million, will provide services such as propane sales and special orders and a counter dedicated to commercial sales and contractors.

International Customers Boost Revenue

Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s net income climbed 28 per cent to $39 million in the second quarter, helped by online and international sales. The company, which also owns high-end home goods stores Pottery Barn and West Elm, says revenue rose five per cent to $815 million.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 23, 2011

Owners Invest $4 Million

RONA is expanding the Le Régional store located in Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, QC. The retail outlet is set to expand by 15,000 square feet in early 2012,enabling it to better serve customers. The Gauthier family, who have owned the business since 2004 and have been members of the retail network for 20 years, are investing more than $4 million in the project.

Environmental Importance Lower

The environment means less to Canadian purchasers than it used to, says a survey by the Bensimon Byrne advertising firm. Since 2008, the environment has dropped from one of the top five issues facing Canadians. The number of women who are likely to consider environmental impact when making a purchase has fallen from 41 per cent in 2008 to 30 per cent today. Survey responses found purchasers are most influenced by items that are recyclable and made with less packaging (52 per cent), reusable (49 per cent), and manufactured with solar energy or renewable fuels (36 and 35 per cent).

Canadians Confidence Shaken

The recent turmoil in the stock markets has severely shaken Canadian consumers' confidence in the economy, causing a significant drop in the TNS ‘Canadian Consumer Confidence Index.’ After a slight drop in July (in the wake of the U.S. debt crisis and all-round bad economic news), the index dropped almost a full two points in August, from 99.7 to 97.6, wiping out any optimism Canadians showed in the economy during the spring and in the wake of the federal election.

House-Hasson Adds Items

Hardware distributor House-Hasson Hardware has added 2,500 new items to its paint sundries inventory, allowing a paint store-within-a-store concept for its members. President Don Hasson says an example of the store-within-a-store concept will be set up at the company’s upcoming dealer market. The new products are available out of House-Hasson’s two warehouses, located in Knoxville, TN, and Prichard, WV. Cabot Stains, Old Masters, Wooster Brush, Purdy, Hyde Tools, Minwax, and Tyvek are among the vendors added to the inventory.

AMAROK Honours CertainTeed

CertainTeed Gypsum has been honoured with the ‘Preferred Vendor of the Year Award’ by walls and ceilings distributor AMAROK. Members of the co-operative were polled to identify their preferred company based on performance. The co-operative serves approximately 144 independent distributors with 292 locations in the United States and represents approximately $2 billion in sales.

RIMA International Offers Educational Sessions

The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association International (RIMA-I) will be making presentations at several industry events for those interested in learning more about reflective products. Appearances include the Global Insulation Conference September 26; Metalcon 2011 October 12; and the Frame Building Expo 2012 March 1.

Date Set For International Hardware Fair

The International Hardware Fair will take place in Cologne, Germany, March 4 to 7, 2012, at the Koelnmesse Convention Center. Offerings will be divided into the product segments tools, industrial supply, fasteners and fixings, fittings, and home improvement. The event will feature companies such as Hailo, Keter Plastic, Annovi Reverberi, Heco, Hettich, Ega Master, Knipex, Rothenberger, Tyrolit, and Unior. More than 70 North American companies will look to expand their export business by exhibiting at this event.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 22, 2011

In-store Mobility Coming To Lowe’s

Lowe's is sending 42,000 handheld devices to its 1,700 U.S. and Canadian stores as part of a new customer service initiative. CEO Robert Niblock says employees would use Apple iPhones to check inventory availability, access how-to videos, and utilize lowes.com from the aisles of the store. Retailers such as Home Depot, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters have already started similar mobile device initiatives in stores. The retailer expects the project to be complete by January 2012.

Medline Heads Forzani Executive Team

The Canadian Tire Corporation has announced its executive team for the Forzani Group Limited. Michael Medline, former president of the retailer’s automotive business unit, is president of Forzani Group. He led the acquisition of the company as well as the acquisition and integration of Mark’s in 2001. Gregory Craig, former vice -resident, financial planning and analysis, is CFO. In addition, the executive team includes Richard White, senior vice-president and chief merchandising officer; Chad McKinnon, senior vice-president, corporate operations; Jean-Stephane Tremblay, executive vice-president, franchise; Duncan Fulton senior vice-president, communications and chief marketing officer; Keith Lambert, senior vice-president, supply chain and merchandise management; Matthew Handford, senior vice-president, human resources; Kristine Freudenthaler, senior vice-president, information technology, chief information officer, and chief integration officer; Doug Nathanson, chief legal counsel; and Trent Holfeld, vice-president, real estate development.

Slow Contractor Business Impacts Sales

Toro posted third-quarter net earnings of $35.1 million, up five per cent from $33.4 million last year. Net sales for the quarter totaled $501 million, up nine per cent from $458.9 million in 2010. CEO Michael Hoffman says weather around the country slowed residential and landscape contractor business sales, but the demand for golf and ground equipment remained strong.

July Home Sales Up From 2010

Existing-home sales in the U.S. declined from June to July, but have improved compared with a year ago, said the National Association of Realtors. Total existing-home sales fell from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in June to 4.67 million in July, a decrease of 3.5 per cent. However, existing-home sales for July 2011 were 21 per cent above the 3.86 million-unit pace in July 2010. Single-family home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.12 million in July, 21.5 per cent above the 3.39 million level set a year ago.

Another Recession Unlikely

Leading economic indicators rose 0.5 per cent in July, says the Conference Board. This summer's readings suggest the U.S. economy won't pick up enough this year for the jobless rate to drop much. However, the small increases indicate that the country likely won't fall back into recession as some economists fear. In the first half of 2011, the economy grew at the slowest pace since the recession officially ended in June 2009 ‒ 0.4 per cent in the first three months and 1.3 per cent in the April-June quarter. Six of the 10 measures in the Conference Board's index show improvement, primarily its measures of the financial sector.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 19, 2011

Shoppers Looking For Best Prices

Recent changes in the economic climate are affecting consumer spending behaviour in the U.S., says Channel Intelligence. Although same-seller, year-over-year sales were up 30 per cent across all channels for the company's retail clients in the second quarter of 2011, the average sales price was down 15 per cent across all channels. CEO Rob Wight says price is a major consideration at the moment for online shoppers who are looking for the lowest price rather than their favourite brands.

Furniture, Appliances Advance In Sales

The composite leading index rose 0.2 per cent in July. Six of the 10 components advanced, one more than the previous month, says Statistics Canada. In particular, household demand was firm, reflecting the steady gains in the trend of employment, partly offset by declines in the stock market. Furniture and appliance sales rose 1.2 per cent, their largest monthly advance of the recovery. The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in new orders, which recovered 3.4 per cent after a dip the month before.

Sales Decline At Sears

Sears Holdings Corp.’s second quarter revenues decreased to $10.3 billion from $10.5 billion last year. The company's net loss was $146 million, compared with $39 million in 2010. Kmart's comparable-store sales were flat and Sears domestic comparable store sales declined 1.2 per cent. The retailer closed 29 stores during the second quarter ‒ 10 Kmart stores, three full-line stores, 12 hardware and appliance stores, two auto centres, and two The Great Indoors stores.

Customer Expenses Lower Earnings

Exterior products manufacturer Ply Gem had net sales of $294.5 million for its second fiscal quarter, a 2.4 per cent drop from last year. Excluding $2.7 million of buyback expense associated with a new customer win, second-quarter operating earnings were $28.5 million compared with $30.3 million in 2010.

RONA Appoints CFO

Dominique Boies is executive vice-president and chief financial officer of RONA Inc. Over the past five years, he held various positions at the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, including senior vice-president of investments, corporate debt, and investment funds groups. He also worked for 11 years at the Royal Bank of Canada,

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 18, 2011

New RONA In Granby

RONA has opened its newest store in Granby, QC. The 13,000 square foot store ‒ owned by the Hébert, Gagnon, and Lamarche families ‒ will be a branch of the same franchised dealer-owners’ RONA L’entrepôt of Granby. The synergy between the stores is in line with the retailer’s plans to adopt a more concentrated approach to operating and expanding its retail network and grant regions a more important role in deciding how best to meet local market needs. The store offers consumers 11,000 different products in addition to direct access to inventory at the RONA L’entrepôt store in Granby.

Wood Care Centre Opens In Ontario

The Sansin Corporation’s newest distributor, the Colour Company, has created a wood care centre called the ‘Sansin Stain StationT.’ The 300 square foot retail space in London, ON, displays a fully-built wood deck with railings, walls, and wood furniture, allowing the customer to see the finishes and colors on actual cedar and pressure-treated wood rather than just on samples. Employees will undergo training on the properties of wood and successful wood staining preparation and application techniques to assist customers.

More Locations For Fastenal

Fastenal is expanding its construction and industrial supply business with additional locations and vending machines. The chain plans to open one store per year in the Sacramento, CA, region, relying more on face-to-face transactions than shipping orders. The company’s vending machines are located at manufacturers, construction, and maintenance companies, and dispense items such as safety gloves and glasses, batteries, cutting tools, and respirators.

Discount Incentives Boost Revenue

Target Corp. posted a 3.7 per cent second quarter increase in profit. Earnings were $704 million, compared with $679 million a year ago. Revenue rose 4.6 per cent to $16.24 billion, up from $15.53 billion. The company says revenue was driven by its larger food offerings and a five per cent discount incentive for customers paying with the Target brand credit and debit cards.

Paint Sales Rise

Paint manufacturer Valspar has sales of  $1.07 billion in the third quarter, a 22.5 per cent increase from 2010. Net income was $67.4 million, compared to $75.1 million a year ago. President and CEO Gary Hendrickson says acquisitions, pricing, and market share gains helped to mitigate the impact of higher raw material costs and a challenging demand environment.

Advice And Inspiration At Fall Home Show

The Fall Home Show will take place at the Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place in Toronto, ON, fromSeptember 22 to 25. It will feature more than 300 renovation and décor specialists as well as celebrity designers such as Glen Peloso and Michael Upshall presenting the latest trends and advice. For more information visit www.fallhomeshow.com


August 18 Product Spotlight

• Hyde Tools’ line of wire brushes with extended handles and rubberized grips makes stripping and scrubbing less tiring and more effective. The line includes 11 carbon steel, stainless steel, brass and nylon brushes in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from mini brushes for tight areas to large profile brushes with scrapers.
• Simpson Door Company’s wood exterior doors with WaterBarrier Technology offer the warmth and beauty of wood inside the home, with protection from the elements outside. The moisture-resistant, medium-density overlay (MDO) with a thermoset acrylic latex primer topcoat and PVC glazing beads on the door’s exterior side resists absorption and is ready to paint.  
• Panasonic Home & Environment Company’s ventilation solutions for residential and commercial use feature Whisper Quiet operation even at.25" w.g. static pressure. They run on exclusive DC motor technology delivering a consistent CFM output and Dual Sensor Technology providing integral motion and humidity sensors.
• MoistureShield Vantage Collection ProSeries decking from Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (A.E.R.T.) use smaller wood fibbers for enhanced resistance to fading, scratching, and staining. A new embossing technique minimizes build-up of dirt and debris while simulating the look of wood boards. It will be available in 2012 in eight fade-resistant colours, multiple lengths, and with or without grooves for hidden fastening systems.
• RIGID has added a Compact Orbital Jig Saw to its Fuego family of tools as the fastest, lightest, and most compact in its class. The planetary gear set significantly reduces motor vibration for smooth cuts and a dual debris management system directs debris away from the cut line to improve views.
• The Ryobi One+ Blower with Gripzone Overmold and easy access switch makes it easy to operate with one hand, and is compatible with Ni-Cad or Lithium 18V batteries.
• The RapidRoller Paint Roller from Black & Decker featuresahandle that holds and dispenses paint and an exclusive three-position pivoting roller frame that allows users to paint up to the edge, in tough-to-reach corners and narrow locations like hallways, closets, and bathrooms. The EZ Fill System lets users draw paint from the can directly into the handle of the roller through the fill lid without mess.
• The Flat Rainshower from Moen Canada features an oversized 20.3-centimetre spray face and Moen Immersion showering technology in both standard and Eco-Performance models. Fibonacci-inspired, spiral-shaped nozzle patterns provide full-body coverage that envelops the user in invigorating water sprays.
• Blundstone’s CSA Greenpatch boots are weatherproof elastic and leather to keep feet dry. A heat formed heel provides a snug fit, reducing the risk of blisters and providing all day comfort even on hard surfaces. Toes are protected by a broad fitting tempered steel, Grade 1 safety toecap.
• Using a Pasadena bath faucet from Pfister’sWaterSense line reduces the water flowing out of it by 30 per cent, and can reduce water use by an estimated 113,500 litres (30,000 gallons). The water saving faucets do not drip or leak and are engineered to stringent environmental standards for performance and efficiency.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 17, 2011

Canadian Housing Market Sees Gains

National home sales activity held steady in July, with just over half of local markets posting month-over-month gains, says The Canadian Real Estate Association. Major markets that saw gains compared to June include Edmonton, Montreal, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador. Activity also held steady in Toronto, while Vancouver recorded a small decline. The number of newly listed homes edged up by less than one per cent from June to July.

Fastener Manufacturer Adds Hardware Segment

The Hillman Group announced its entry into the Builder's Hardware segment with the release of its Hardware Essentials collection. The line utilizes color to differentiate the product categories -- connection, reinforce, interior, security, miniature, decorative door, hinges, gate, storm and screen, and organize -- to assist the end consumer in their shopping experience. Packaging includes cards, gravity feed, bulk, polybagged, and flagged items, and products are designed for both consumers and contractors. The Cincinnati-based fastener manufacturer sells to hardware stores, home centers, pet suppliers, mass merchants, and other retail outlets in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America.

Stanley Supports Youth Sports

Stanleyhas made a donation of $100,000 to Canadian Tire Jumpstarton behalf of the company and its sponsored Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Marcos Ambrose.  This is the second year the company has been involved with the program, which allows Canadian children four to 18 to participate in organized sport and recreation activities such as hockey, soccer, dance, and swimming. Since launching in 2005, the program has assisted more than 330,000 kids in financial need. For more information, visit www.canadiantire.ca/jumpstart

Home Construction Down

Builders began work on a seasonally adjusted 604,000 homes last month, a 1.5 per cent decrease from June, says the U.S. Commerce Department. That's half of the 1.2 million homes per year that economists say must be built to sustain a healthy housing market. Single-family homes, which represent 70 per cent of home construction, fell five per cent, while apartment building rose more than six per cent. Building permits, a gauge of future construction, declined 3.2 per cent.

U.S. Sales Lag For Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s second-quarter profit was up 5.7 per cent after gains overseas and at its Sam’s Club helped to offset a sales shortfall in its largest unit, Walmart U.S. Sales in the United States fell for a ninth straight quarter by 0.9 per cent, as chief Bill Simon says concerns remain about economic pressures on customers that impact their shopping behavior. Net income in the quarter rose to $3.8 billion from $3.6 billion a year earlier.  


Seasonal Business Rebounds Sales

The Home Depot’s second quarter net earnings were $1.4 billion, compared with $1.2 billion in 2010. Sales totalled $20.2 billion, a 4.2 per cent increase from 2010. Comparable store sales for the second quarter were positive 4.3 per cent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were positive 3.5 per cent. CEO Frank Blake said results were driven by a rebound in seasonal business and storm-related repairs.


Sears Working On Re-energizing

Sears Canada Inc. second quarter revenues were $1.148 billion compared to $1.212 billion in 2010, a decrease of 5.3 per cent. Operating EBITDA for the quarter was $26.7 million versus $68.5 million last year. There was a net loss for the second quarter of $2.7 million compared to net earnings of $20.5 million. CEO Calvin McDonald said the company’s leadership team is working on longer-term initiatives to re-energize and transform the company into a more meaningful shopping choice for Canadians.

Breakfast Networking Event At Expo 

Business coach and author Rory Sheehan will be presenting, ‘Close More Business and Have Happy Clients’ a breakfast and networking event during Landscape Ontario’s Expo 2011 Thursday, October 20 at the Toronto Congress Centre.The seminar will teach landscape designers how to communicate with clients, potential clients. Tickets are $50 for Landscape Ontario members; $70 for non-members with early-bird pricing until October 7. Visit www.loexpo.ca for details.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 16, 2011

Remodelling Activity Reaches Record

Even as the economy continues to struggle and home sales sag, the remodelling industry continues to be a bright spot from coast to coast in the U.S., says the BuildFax ‘Remodelling Index.’ June activity numbers rose 23 per cent year-to-year to 129.5 – the highest number recorded since 2004. Residential remodelling registered the 20th straight month of gains, demonstrating that many Americans are continuing to remodel their current homes, rather than purchase new homes.

Philips Wins Prize

Philips Lighting has won the U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize’ competition with its 10-watt LED bulb that will be part of its AmbientLED and EnduraLED line. Designed to replace the 60-watt bulb, which will be phased out in 2013, the product was submitted in 2009 and underwent 18 months of intensive field, lab, and product testing. As the winner, the company will receive a $10 million cash prize that will be invested in product manufacturing. The product will be in stores by early 2012.

U.S. Homebuilders Still Pessimistic

The National Association of Home Builders says its index of builder sentiment in August was unchanged at 15 and has been below 20 for all but one month during the past two years. A special question on the survey this month showed 41 per cent of builders had lost a contract because a buyer could not sell their current home. David Crowe, the group's chief economist, says a weakening U.S. economy and high unemployment also discourage many potential buyers from exploring home purchases.

Right Faucets Save Energy, Money

Water-saving faucets and showerheads can reduce home water use by an estimated 113,500 litres, enough to fill an in-ground backyard swimming pool that is six metres by 12 metres, says Stanley Black & Decker. Its Pfister WaterSense line reduces water flow by 30 per cent. It says that if 20 out of every 100 Canadian homes installed water-saving fixtures, electricity consumption would fall by 100 million kilowatts, the equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off the road for a year.  The company is sharing tips with homeowners for monthly water savings on its website http://www.pfisterfaucets.com/design_center/Conservation.aspx#tab3

Sales Up, Earnings Slightly Down

Lowe’s had sales of $14.5 billion in the second quarter, up 1.3 per cent from a year ago. Comparable-store sales increased 0.3 per cent, while earnings of $830 million were posted, down slightly from $832 million last year. During the quarter, the retailer opened two stores to total 1,753 in the United States, Canada and Mexico, representing 197.6 million square feet of retail selling space, a 1.5 per cent increase over last year.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 15, 2011

Hardware, Home Improvement Highly Competitive

Consumers do, in fact, shop at more than one store for the same item, says the KubasPrimedia ‘2011 Major Market Retail Report.’ In the hardware and home improvement sector, consumers shopped at an average of 2.5 stores for the product they were looking for in the last 12 months. Based on consumer shopping patterns, the report also found the hardware and home improvement sector came out on top of the list for total market share potential. The three largest retailers in the category – Canadian Tire, Home Depot, and Rona ‒ have a combined market share potential of 60 per cent, making hardware and home improvement a highly competitive sector.

Whirlpool Wins Steam Case

A federal court decided in favor of Whirlpool Corporation in a case brought unsuccessfully by LG Electronics. The ruling granted Whirlpool's motion for a permanent injunction against South Korean company LG, which had sought to ban the appliance maker from using the word ‘steam’ to describe its steam dryers. The court ruled that Whirlpool's dryers use steam and said LG did not make its case.

CertainTeed Develops Digital Binder

CertainTeed Corporation has developed a digital architect binder for access to product information online. Visitors to the site will find the entire vinyl and fibre cement siding, trim, weather resistant barrier, decking, fence, and railing product lines as well as a link to continuing education courses approved for credit with the American Institute of Architects. The site, www.certainteed.com/architectbinder, was developed specifically for architects, designers, specifiers, and other industry professionals.

Materials, Equipment Sales Up This Year

The U.S. Census Bureau says that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for July were $390.4 billion, an increase of 0.5 per cent from the previous month and 8.5 per cent above last year. Sales in building material, garden equipment, and supplies were $25.047 billion in July, down from $25.143 billion in June, but up from $23.291 billion in July 2010. Retail trade sales were up 0.5 per cent from June 2011 and 8.9 per cent above last year.

Sustainable Initiatives Boom

Canadian Tire’s sustainable initiatives increased 79 per cent from last year in the second quarter. The retailer completed 188 sustainable projects as part of its ongoing integration of practices into its business operations. Through these initiatives, which included in-store signage right sizing, store retrofits, and transportation enhancements, the company is forecasted to annually avoid more than $2.3 million in costs, 1,200 tonnes of waste, and 3,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

New RONA In New Brunswick

RONA has opened Rona Parent Materials in Kedgwick, NB. The outlet, owned by the co-owners of the Matériaux Parent hardware store in Saint-Quentin, reflects the growth experience by the retailer in eastern Canada, says Mario St-Louis, vice-president of retail, Quebec. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 12, 2011

Target Sets Up Ontario Distribution

Target is setting up a Canadian distribution centre in Cornwall, ON. The U.S. retailer has purchased 169 acres of land in the eastern Ontario city's business park and construction is underway. Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart already have distribution centres in Cornwall and Loblaws also has plans to open its own distribution centre in the city.

Acquisition Costs Hurt Profit

Canadian Tire Corporation says profits in the second quarter dropped 13.9 per cent as it spent nearly $30 million more on advertising, costs associated with its purchase of Forzani Group, and felt the pinch of bad weather on sales. It had profits of $105.8 million in the quarter, compared to $122.8 million last year. President and CEO Stephen Wetmore says the company is continuing to meet its expectations in the key areas of automotive, kitchen, and backyard living. The company has been in the process of ramping up automotive offerings and installing interactive kiosks in the department.

RONA Invests In Halifax Stores

RONA has renamed three stores in Halifax, NS. The retailer invested approximately $4 million for the renovation of the Pierceys Tantallon, Elmsdale, and Cole Harbour stores to improve the shopping experience. The stores now offer a paint shop, private brand products, and a wider range of goods. Gordon Kennedy, vice-president, retail ‒ Atlantic Provinces, says the Halifax region is a dynamic market, ideal for a larger array of products and services to meet customer needs.

Technologies Important In Home Sales

Nine out of 10 U.S. realtors say they have been involved in buying, selling, or showing a home with installed technologies, says the Consumer Electronics Association. A recent study found 93 per cent of realtors who are members of the National Association of Realtors encountered a home with monitored security, while 89 per cent found homes with theatre pre-wired systems, and 54 per cent found homes with automation/management systems. Over half reported they are excited by encountering these homes and believe their clients’ enthusiasm for technology mirrors their own, with almost two-thirds of realtors stating their clients are excited to see technologies in homes.

Better Business Bureau Integrates

The Council of Better Business Bureaus is integrating operations in the United States and Canada to improve the customer experience for those purchasing goods and services across the border. The plan becomes effective August 16. The CBBB is the international headquarters of the BBB system and the governing body that licences local BBBs and provides support services to increase their effectiveness. It maintains information on more than four million businesses including reviews, consumer tips, fraud alerts, and dispute assistance.

ICSC Retail Forum Comes To Toronto

The International Conference of Shopping Centres (ICSC) will hold the Canadian Retail Forum in Toronto, ON, on September 21. This year’s program includes a presentation from Walmart Canada vice-president Ken Farrell and sessions on shopping centre development and retail formats. For more information, visit www.icsc.org

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 11, 2011

Earnings Hammered By Weather, Economy 

RONA’s second-quarter sales were down to $37 million, compared with $66.3 million last year. Revenue fell two per cent to $1.37 billion. CEO Robert Dutton says poor weather conditions, especially in April and May, and fragile consumer confidence impacted the results. The biggest hit came to same store sales, which plummeted 9.6 per cent, compared with an overall sales decrease of 2.4 per cent, or $34.2 million, across all RONA stores.

Canadian Business Confidence Down

A less optimistic outlook for the economy has lowered the business confidence index to 103.7 from 106.2 last quarter, says the Conference Board of Canada. The index gauges the mood of business leaders and 30.9 per cent of those surveyed believe economic conditions will improve in the next six months, down from 40.6 per cent last quarter. Those who believed conditions would worsen increased four percentage points to 17 per cent.

Walmart Stores Generate Renewable Energy

Walmart Canada has invested $2 million in renewable energy projects at locations in Ontario. In Kitchener-Waterloo, the retailer installed a rooftop solar power-generating system expected to generate 450,000-kilowatt hours of energy per year, enough to supply 39 average Canadian households. The solar system will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by an estimated 80 tonnes per year. The Milton location is home to a 20-kilowatt wind turbine expected to generate as much as 50,000-kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Power generated will be returned to the electrical grid under Ontario's feed-in tariff program for renewable energy. The company will use these pilot projects to assess the effectiveness and potential benefits of these systems to potentially power some of its stores in the future.

Ace Reports Revenue Increase

Ace Hardware Corporation had total revenues of $1.021 billion for the second quarter of 2011, an increase of $5.6 million or 0.5 per cent from 2010. For the six-month period ended July 2, total revenues were $1.876 billion, an increase of $28.9 million or 1.6 per cent from 2010. Net income was $34.6 million for the second quarter of 2011, an increase of $5.8 million or 20 per cent, compared to $28.8 million in 2010. For the six-month period ended July 2, net income was $41.4 million, an increase of $0.7 million or 1.8 per cent over 2010. Ace added 32 new stores and cancelled 41 stores in the second quarter and ended the quarter with a total domestic and international store count of 4,435.

Wall Paint To Match Favourite Items

Beauti-Tone has introduced a portable colour-matching tool that lets consumers measure any colour they see and instantly match it to one of its 3,500 paint products. The ‘Capsure’ is available for use in paint departments in Home Hardware and Home Hardware Building Centre locations across Canada. Consumers can recreate the colours from their favourite objects, clothing, or furniture for their wall paint.

Canada Outpaces U.S. In Smart Home Adoption

Canadians are adopting smart home technologies at a higher rate than Americans, says Vivint. The smart home company says 54 per cent of new Canadian customers added smart home features to their basic security packages in July, compared with 48 per cent in the U.S. Alberta led with 66 per cent adding smart home features. The lowest adopting province was New Brunswick at 33 per cent, which is still higher than 16 out of 18 U.S. states and territories. Smart home technology full packages cost about the same as cell phone plans and offer the ability to manage homes from mobile phones or in-home control panels.

August 11 Product Spotlight

• Miele Canada Limited’s G5000 series of dishwashers feature a 3D tray which offers greater flexibility and capacity. The interior lighting features four LEDs that illuminate the dishwasher cabinet in bright light.
• The Wooster Brush Company’s 3⅛″ Shasta and 2½-, 3-, and 4″ dowel-handle varnish brushes feature technology that produces a finer finish.  In addition, lab tests have confirmed that Alpha paints at least 30 per cent farther than other brushes of equal size. 
• The Home Gardener Mule combines the capabilities of a wheelbarrow; hand truck dolly; bag holder, rock, and plant lifter and mover; and trailer mover in one work system. It can move loads of up to 300 pounds and includes lifter straps, mesh loops, and cylinder holder accessories to perform various functions.
• The FibaTape Extra Strength fibreglass mesh tape from Saint-Gobain ADFORS is a multi-directional tape for reinforcing joints. It is designed to increase structural integrity and joint strength and is available in 2 3/8″ x 250′ rolls.
• CertainTeed’s Restoration Millwork 3TL and 2TL exterior trim product offerings feature TightLap, a progressive notched shiplap design for a larger concealed nailing area which allows two adjacent panels to seamlessly overlap.
• The Lucca Collection from Walker Zanger features limestone finishes in two textured patterns; Rift (resembling cut-wood) and Patinato (a light tumbled-stone). The tiles are available in slender and large format) and three neutral colours ‒ Autumn Brown, Flannel Grey, and Linen Cream.
• Dulux Diamond Exterior Satin is a premium acrylic paint that features early shower resistance – within as little as 30 minutes – providing homeowners with protection against losing a day’s paint job if it starts to rain. It is easy to apply, can be used in low temperatures, and is highly resistant to dirt, flaking, and blistering while providing a flexible finish that won’t crack or peel even when exposed to extreme changes in weather conditions.
• Porter-Cable’s PC1500HG Heat Gun includes a variable temperature dial that ranges from 120-1,250 degrees and a dual-speed fan selector, enabling specific heat and airflow selection for certain applications such as scraping paint, removing wallpaper, or bending PVC pipe.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 10, 2011

Building Activity Catching Up

Canada’s home building activity saw a 12 per cent year-over-year increase in July, but economists say the strength is likely due to builders catching up to robust demand last year, rather than expectations of coming growth. Overall starts rose to 205,100 units, up 4.3 per cent from 196,600 in June, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The pick-up was driven by strong construction of condos and apartment buildings in urban centres. Overall urban starts were up 36.1 per cent in the Atlantic region, 33 per cent in British Columbia, and 1.7 per cent in Ontario. Quebec posted a decrease of 7.8 per cent in July, while urban starts were off 0.3 per cent in the Prairies.

Consumer Sentiment Lowest Since 2009

August’s ‘Consumer Reports Index’ fell to its lowest level since December 2009 and registered its sharpest drop in two years, as recent events in the U.S. fixed attention on the weak economy. The index was down to 43.4 from 48.5 last month, representing the percentage of Americans saying they were financially better off versus worse off than they were a year ago. The most optimistic consumers were between the ages of 18 and 34 (54.4) and households with income of $100,000 or more (53.3). The most pessimistic consumers were households with income of less than $50,000 (38.9) and those who are age 65 and older (32.8).  Each demographic group showed marked decreases in overall sentiment compared with July.

CertainTeed Creates Contractor Program

CertainTeed is partnering with business management software provider improveit! 360 to help credentialed U.S. contractors grow their businesses. The program is designed to help remodelling professionals increase their bottom line and organize daily marketing and sales tasks. It is remotely accessible via the Web to all CertainTeed Siding Products Group 5-Star, 5-Star Green, 5-Star Fence, and Master Remodeler credentialed contractors.

U.S. Construction Grows Slightly

June construction figures increased by 0.2 per cent to $773.2 billion, says the U.S. Department of Commerce. During the first six months of 2011, construction spending amounted to $357.5 billion, 5.4 per cent below the $377.9 billion for the same period in 2010. Spending on residential construction was estimated at $235.8 billion in June, a 0.3 per cent dip below the revised May estimate of $236.5 billion. Non-residential construction was reported to be $257.7 billion in June, 1.8 per cent above the revised May estimate of $253.1 billion.

Beacon’s Sees Sales Record

Third-quarter sales at Beacon Roofing Supply increased 14 per cent to $540.7 million, a record for a third quarter. Net income was also at a third-quarter record high at $24.1 million, up 47.9 per cent from last year. CEO Paul Isabella says the company’s roofing business benefited from a pick-up in volume and from industry-wide price increases. The company's purchase of Enercon Products was also completed during the quarter.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 9, 2011

Lighting Prices Rise

Retail lighting prices are going up across the board for fixtures and certain types of bulbs, says Service Lamp Corp. Lighting fixture price increases will be five to seven per cent for all products, while fluorescent bulbs and other light bulbs containing rare earth oxides will jump 15 to 25 per cent. The price of raw materials ‒ such as steel (up 53 per cent), aluminum (up 65 per cent), and copper (up 110 per cent) ‒ as well as packaging and transportation were cited as major price drivers. Lighting companies Cooper, Hubbell, and Juno announced price increases in March while Lightolier says its increases will take effect in September.

B.C. Tax Could Model QST

British Columbia’s return to a provincial sales tax could be modeled on the Québec Sales Tax (QST), says Greg Hurst, of Greg Hurst & Associates Ltd. The QST is a provincial sales tax harmonized with the GST rules and administered by the province, which also collects the GST on behalf of the federal government. If this model is followed, a new B.C. provincial sales tax would still be a ‘value-added tax’ (VAT) and would allow businesses to benefit in much the same way they do under the HST ‒ in particular, organizations that also do business outside of B.C. who have to maintain both B.C. and federal sales tax registrations and reporting. For consumers, implementing the Québec model in B.C. could allow low-income credits to be retained and the province would have more control in determining point of sale rebates on provincial sales taxes.

Equity Firm Purchases Merit

Centre Lane Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, has become the owner of The Merit Group, a distributor of paint sundry and drywall related products. Merit serves more than 10,000 retail locations including national, regional, and independent paint chains, home improvement centres, hardware stores, lumberyards, and drywall yards through its seven regional distribution centres. In May of 2011, it filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for South Carolina and said it would focus on a potential sale or a strategic investment in the next 90 days. The company says it will continue to operate under the current management team and business structure.

Unseasonable Weather Affects Sales

Poor weather conditions across most of the U.S. hit Scotts Miracle-Gro hard in the quarter ending July 2, as sales declined 10 per cent to $1.06 billion. The company says a more competitive promotional landscape and changes in certain retailer strategies within the mass merchandise channel, as well as unfriendly weather throughout the lawn and garden season, drove the decline. Net income declined 37 per cent to $11.6 million.

Roofing Volumes Increase Sales

Sales at Owens Corning increased five per cent to $1.5 billion in the second quarter from $1.4 billion last year. Net income was $78 million, compared with net earnings of $937 million a year ago. The increase in net sales was the result of increased sales volumes within the roofing business, offsetting lower volumes within the insulation business and the loss of sales from the divestiture of the U.S. masonry products business.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 8, 2011

Building Permits Up In June

Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.6 billion in June, up 2.1 per cent from May, says Statistics Canada. The increase was largely attributed to higher construction intentions for industrial and institutional buildings in Ontario and multi-family dwellings in British Columbia. The value of permits in the non-residential sector rose three per cent to $2.8 billion. In the residential sector, municipalities issued $3.7 billion worth of permits, up 1.5 per cent. The total value of building permits was up in seven provinces, led by Ontario and British Columbia. In contrast, Alberta, New Brunswick, and Manitoba posted declines in June.

Building Co-op Adds Lumberyards

Building material co-op Lumbermens Merchandising Corporation (LMC) has added Parr Lumber to its group of independent lumberyards. The Oregon-based company has 30 locations in the Northwest United States.

Lawsuit Spells End Of Product

After settling a lawsuit with Kwikset, the Schlage brand will no longer manufacture or sell its SecureKey products. Kwikset had alleged in a March 2010 lawsuit that the products infringed on re-keying technology patents for its SmartKey products. The Ingersoll Rand-owned brand agreed to stop selling the products by the end of the year.

Engaging With Social Networking

DiggersList.com has introduced a new program for shoppers to create personalized pages displaying sale items. The online home improvement classified introduced the initiative in June to offer features which it says are similar to Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon networks. Users create ‘storefronts’ and can follow other ‘storefronts’ to be notified of new deals and coupons at various businesses. Consumers will be able to receive deals on the products they want without having to look through listings that do not interest them. The program does not yet allow private businesses to set up ‘storefronts,’ but is expected to do so by the fall.

Garden Products Increase Sales

Central Garden & Pet had sales of $484.3 million in the third quarter, a four per cent increase over the same period in 2010. The seeds, pottery, insecticide, and outdoor living product supplier said gains were largely driven by the garden products segment which had growth of six per cent. Operating income was $36.6 million, compared with $52.6 million last year. Net income for the quarter totaled $17.1 million, compared with $25.9 million.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 5, 2011

Customer Service, Delivery Matter

When it comes to buying major appliances, customers say sales, delivery, and installation service are slightly more important than facilities, product assortment, and price. The ‘2011 Appliance Retailer Study’ from J.D. Powers and Associates  found 51 per cent of consumers find the courtesy of sales staff and service factors of most importance, while 49 per cent say store facility, merchandise, and price are the deciding factors. Lowe’s, hhgregg, Sears, and Home Depot rank as the highest appliance retailers in U.S. customer satisfaction.

100th Opening In Quebec  

Home Hardware Stores Limited is celebrating its 100th store opening in Quebec. Tho Val Trem Inc. in Ste-Brigitte-de-Laval has been in business for 25 years under another banner, but chose to join the Home Hardware family this spring in order to take advantage of its product selection, distribution system, and marketing program. The first location in Quebec was Rocheleau Hardware in Rouyn-Noranda in 1965. “Quebec is an important market and our continual growth in the province is due to the strength of our program for independent dealers,” says Paul Straus, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited.

Décor Retailer Plans First Quebec Store

Crate and Barrel will open its first store in Quebec at Carrefour Laval in the spring of 2012. This will be the fifth location in Canada for the furniture and home décor retailer and the first to be located in a Cadillac Fairview shopping centre. Barbara Turf, president and chief executive officer of Crate and Barrel, says it was looking for the right opportunity for its first Quebec store and believes Carrefour Laval is the perfect choice.

Debt Crisis Weakens Confidence

More than half (54 per cent) of Americans say the debt ceiling debate has made them feel less confident in the economy and 42 per cent say that it has made them less confident in their own finances and investments, says the August ‘RBC Consumer Outlook Index.’ The survey was completed immediately before the resolution of the debt ceiling negotiations. It shows 76 per cent of Americans say their country is on the wrong track, up from 63 per cent in July. Consumer confidence also dropped in August for the second straight month to 40.2, down 3.5 points from the month before.

Roofing Company Grows In Europe

Carlisle Cos. has completed the acquisition of PDT Phoenix GmbH in Germany. With annual sales of approximately €80 million, PDT is a leading manufacturer of EPDM-based (rubber) roofing membranes and industrial components serving key European markets. The addition will operate within the company’s construction materials segment.

Speciality Products Soar

BlueLinx Holdings posted a loss of $9.8 million in the quarter ending July 2, compared with a net loss of $3.4 million in the same quarter last year. Revenues for the building products distributor declined 7.4 per cent to $500.8 million. While structural product sales declined 27.1 per cent, the company saw growth in specialty products of 10.7 per cent.

Lower Sales Volumes Hurt Revenue

Weyerhaeuser had revenues of $1.64 billion for its second fiscal quarter, a two per cent drop from $1.61 billion last year. Sales in the company’s wood products segment dropped 10.3 per cent to $726 million from $809 million a year ago. The company also said it expects lower selling prices for lumber and oriented strand board and lower sales volumes across most product lines, offset by lower log costs and modest cost improvements.

Names Cater To Male Audience

‘Putting Green’ versus ‘Pixie Palace.’ ‘Beer’ versus ‘Butterscotch.’ ‘Blue Jeans’ versus ‘Periwinkle Blue.’  Canadian paint brand CIL Paints is betting that paint names with a more masculine label will get more men excited about the painting process. The company is using its Facebook page to invite men and women to rename existing colours to better appeal to men. The names that garner the most votes will be compiled into a special brochure and the most popular selection will win a $10,000 home theatre makeover powered by Klipsch. The campaign runs until September 30. Visit www.cil.ca for more details.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 4, 2011

Business Confidence Slowly Rising

Confidence among Canada's small and mid-sized businesses rebounded in July, rising two points to 68.3, says the monthly ‘Business Barometer’ from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Alberta businesses are still the most optimistic (at 70 points), while Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia businesses are the least (low 60s). Short-term employment plans are also quite positive with 18 per cent of business owners saying they will add to full-time staff levels in the next three or four months, versus only 10 per cent who expect to cut back. Concerns about the price of energy remain the biggest cost concern for owners, but that too has moderated in recent months. Measured on a scale between zero and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses' performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing.

Card Highlights Member Benefits

Home Depot credit card holders in the United States are receiving cards with a new design and a new emphasis on the retailer’s promotions and member benefits. Colourful home improvement images are arranged across the left of the new orange card with a message reading "special financing available every day." The back of the card spells out customer benefits, including no liability on unauthorized purchases and the option to view and pay accounts online. Consumers will also receive a coupon that promises no interest if paid in full within 12 months on purchases of $299 or more.

Retail Acquisition Almost Final

The Canadian Tire Corporation is one step further in its acquisition of the Forzani Group. The retailer’s wholly owned subsidiary, FGL AcquisitionCo Limited, has received a letter from the Competition Bureau indicating it does not intend to take any action with respect to the transaction at this time. In addition, Forzani has obtained all other third-party consents required by the terms of the offer announced in May.


Energy Management Manufacturer Bought

Sentinel Capital Partners has acquired Boyd Corp. through its LTI Flexible Products portfolio. The private equity firm specializes in industrial building products. Boyd is a designer and manufacturer of sealing and energy management solutions for blue-chip OEMs, serving the electronics, heavy truck, aerospace, and medical markets. The combined company has been named LTI Boyd and is headquartered in Modesto, CA.

Prices Offset Volume Decline

Armstrong World Industries had a 3.3 per cent rise in sales in the second quarter to $748.6 million from $724.8 million a year ago. The flooring, ceilings, and cabinets manufacturer reported an increase in wood flooring (five per cent to $133.6 million) and a slight decrease in vinyl flooring (0.5 per cent to $274.7 million) and cabinets (5.1 per cent to $35.3 million). Price, volume, and mix were able to offset broad volume declines.

Income Plunges After Accounting Change

Owens Corning had net earnings of $78 million down from $939 million from last year’s quarter. Last year's quarterly results included the one-time reversal of an $858 million allowance for taxes. Results in the company's building materials segment grew, helped by higher demand for roofing material due to storms. Overall, however, the building materials segment has been hampered by the weak housing market. Revenue rose five per cent to $1.45 billion from $1.38 billion last year.


Sweepstakes Winner Announced

A North Bay, ON, resident is the winner of the $25,000 backyard overhaul sweepstakes from Home Hardware. More than 100,000 Canadians entered the ‘Outdoor Living Sweepstakes’ won by Adam Ross. The grand prize can be used for a major project ‒ such as a new deck, shed, or interlocking brick ‒ and other backyard items such as a barbecue, patio set, and planters. Twenty entrants were awarded the second place prize of a Yard-Man lawn mower and 75 won a $100 Beauti-Tone paint certificate.

August 4 Product Spotlight

• The SkylinkPad from Skylink Group is a wireless control system which allows the user to control almost anything electronic in the home, including lamps, garage doors, security systems, and coffee makers. The pad comes in six options and can have up to 14 buttons to control various household items.
• Hyde Tools has two new mixers designed for better mixing of paint and stains which are resistant to solvents for easy clean-up. The impeller design is engineered to loosen solids from the bottom of the can, promoting better coverage.
• The Lahara and Addison Delta lavatory faucets are available with Touch2O Technology, similar to the technology made popular on the brand’s kitchen faucets. The faucets give users a hands-free washing experience that will reduce water consumption.
• The Trex Transcend Porch Flooring and Railing System includes virtually gap-free floorboards with universal hidden fasteners, co-ordinating post and railing options. Products can be combined with Trex Outdoor Furniture, which now includes rocking chair and porch swing pieces for a fully-packaged system to build a complete porch setting. It is available in three different floor board lengths – 10′, 12′, and 16′ – and three signature Trex Transcend colors – Gravel Path (pristine grey), Fire Pit (spicy red), and Spiced Rum (warm, earthy umber with the streaked look of tropical hardwoods). 
• The Napoleon 9600 Series Two-Stage Variable Speed High Efficient Gas Furnace maintains a more consistent, comfortable temperature by reducing temperature swings within the home. It’s the shortest 96 per cent+ AFUE furnace on the market allowing for versatile installations in a variety of positions, including upflow, horizontal, and downflow.
• Sanicondens is a small pumping unit from Saniflo Canada that removes condensate from a variety of applications. It is specifically designed for disposing of acidic condensate from condensing boilers, but can also be used for HVAC systems and water heater systems. The pump allows condensation to be lifted vertically from a boiler or high efficiency furnace through a small bore pipe to a nearby drain.
• Panasonic Canada Inc. has added four 18V Li-Ion cordless power tools to its Tough IP professional-grade product offering. Featuring dust and water resistant technology, the power tools are recognized under international standards administered by the International Electro Technical Commission (IEC). They include a ½″ drill and driver kit, an impact wrench kit, an impact driver kit, and a hammer drill/driver kit equipped with a belt hook, LED work light, carrying case or bag, a charger, and two 18V Lithium Ion batteries.
• IDEAL’s Low Voltage Starter Kit is a selection of professional tools for both coaxial cable and twisted pair wiring. It includes a Telemaster crimper for RJ-11 and RJ-45 connectors; an economy F-connector compression tool; a cable/satellite/CCTV coax stripper; a non-impact Turn-Lock style punch down tool with replacement blades; a Data T-Cutter; a Crimpmaster crimp tool for CATV; and a UTP/STP ringer stripper with blade.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 3, 2011

Onex Puts More Into JELD-WEN

Onex Corp.is increasing its investment in door and window manufacturer JELD-WEN Holding Inc. by 28 per cent to $864 million. The Toronto, ON-based private equity firm will invest $675 million for a 58 per cent stake in the U.S. manufacturer’s preferred stock, up from a previously contemplated $475-million investment for a 39 per cent stake.

Delayed Building Season Affects Sales

Trex Co. had net sales of $78.4 million for the second quarter ending June 30, down 32.1 per cent from $115.5 million in the same quarter last year. The decking and railing manufacturer's income declined to $2.1 million, compared with $4.8 million a year ago. Poor weather and a challenging macro-economy were said to have negatively affected product sales as deck-building season was delayed.

Weak Demand Continues To Affect Housing

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation had sales of $362.4 million for its second fiscal quarter, a 19 per cent drop from sales of $447.5 million last year. The results reflect significantly lower oriented strand board (OSB) pricing and decreased volume of shipments in all product lines. As demand and consumer confidence continues to be weak, it will have a continued impact on the housing industry.

Lively Leaving Ace

Dorvin Lively is leaving ACE Hardware to pursue other interests. The chief financial officer and executive vice-president joined the hardware co-op about three years ago. He was previously with Toys ’R’ Us and Maidenform Brands.

Wood Panels Face Huge Drop

Canadian wood panels maker Norbord Inc had a second quarter profit of $1 million, a drop from last year’s earnings of $33 million. The OSB market will likely remained challenged by the lagging pace of home construction. The company, which also makes plywood and other engineered wood products, expects its European operations, which generated nearly half its total revenue, to continue to deliver strong results for the rest of the year.

Iconic Catalogue Gets Overhaul

IKEA has appointed McCann New York as its global agency of record for the company’s catalogue. The agency will work with ICOM, the retailer’s in-house communications team based at company headquarters in Älmhult, Sweden, to re-invent the catalogue with technology and storytelling elements. The retailer’s catalogue is delivered to nearly 210 million homes across the globe making it one of the world's most widely spread printed matter.

Moen Canada Adds Territory Manager

Andrew Cordy-Simpson is senior territory manager, wholesale, for Moen Canada. In his role, he will execute strategies to develop and expand the wholesale plumbing market in the Vancouver, BC, area, as well as build and maintain customer relationships with wholesalers, plumbing contractors, builders, kitchen and bath dealers, designers, and engineers. He brings more than seven years of sales experience to his new position.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 2, 2011

Thieves Steal More Than $7 Billion

Shoplifters and dishonest employees stole more than $7 billion last year from just 23 major retailers, says the ‘23rd Annual Retail Theft Survey’ by Jack L. Hayes International. These retailers apprehended more than 1 million shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2010 and recovered more than $148 million. It found 69,373 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2010, down 0.4 per cent from 2009. More than $44 million was recovered from employee apprehensions in 2010, down 12.7 per cent from 2009. However, on a per company basis, one in every 33.2 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2010 and on a per case average, dishonest employees steal 5.9 times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($639.99 versus $108.46).

Sales Volumes Effect Revenues

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had second quarter revenues of $205 million, down from $340 million in 2010. The decrease was related to factors including a significant reduction in the volume of construction materials sold earlier in the quarter, lower overall industry volume sales, and a temporary closure of the company’s wood treatment facility in Alberta due to weather related damage. Gross margin amounted to $23.8 million or 11.7 per cent, versus $36 million or 10.1 per cent from the same quarter last year.

Dealer Sales Increase Revenue

Second-quarter sales for Simpson Manufacturing Co. increased 7.4 per cent to $177.8 million, up from $165.6 million in the same quarter last year. Sales to contractor distributors, lumber dealers, and home centres increased, although economic conditions remain challenging and sales to dealer distributors were flat. In California and the western, midwestern, and southeastern regions sales rose, while the northeastern region decreased slightly.

Lowe’s Selling Charging Stations

Lowe’s home improvement stores will be offering customers electric vehicle charging stations for home or commercial use at five California locations beginning in August. In partnership with General Electric, the E WattStation initiative will be available in up to 60 stores by September, and nationwide through lowes.com. A Level 2 charger fully charges an electric car in four to eight hours compared with standard overnight charging that can take as much as 12 to 14 hours. The wall-mount unit can be installed in a garage or outdoors.

Restructuring Causes Income Loss For Homebuilder

Homebuilder Pulte Group had a net loss of $55 million for its second fiscal quarter, compared with a net income of $76 million in the same quarter a year ago. The results included $41 million of land, mortgage, organizational restructuring, and debt repurchase charges. Home sales revenue decreased 29 per cent to $900 million, driven by a 28 per cent decrease in closings, combined with a one per cent decrease in average selling price.

Wood Product Sales Drop

Second-quarter net income for lumber company Weyerhaeuser Co. fell 29 per cent to $10 million, compared with $14 million the previous year. A continued slide in core wood products business (dropping $726 million from $809 million) was a factor in the decrease. Revenue in the next-largest segment, cellulose fibres, rose to $526 million from $468 million. Excluding a deal to sell its hardwoods business, the company expects to post a loss in its wood products unit in the third quarter, but see continued strength in cellulose fibres.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

< previous