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

News

November 30, 2011

RONA Withdraws Second Offer

RONA inc. has announced the expiration and results of the first offer of its previously announced offers. As announced earlier this month, Offer 1 was the first of two successive offers to purchase for cash a portion of the retailer's 5.4 per cent debentures due October 2016. RONA received and accepted tender for $283.1 million aggregate principal amount of debentures. Given the success of Offer 1, Offer 2 was withdrawn and will not be completed.

Retail Budgets Could Rely On Discount Sales

The momentum going into the 2011 holiday sales season is positive and fourth quarter retail is expected to be up 4.4 per cent, says the 'Canadian Retail Sales Outlook' report from Kubas Primedia. The predictions are historically weak but good compared to numbers from the first and second half of 2011. The report says many retailers are behind budget for the year, which could result on a reliance on deals and discounts that would depress profits and sales. After the holiday season, 2012 is expected to be a recovery year for the retail industry, as sales are projected to increase 4.8 per cent from 3.8 per cent in 2011.

November Consumer Confidence Up

Consumer confidence in the U.S. was up in November to 56 from 40.9 in October, says the Conference Board's 'Index.' The 'Expectations Index' rose to 67.8 from 50 and the 'Present Situation Index' increased to 38.3 from 27.1 October to November. The November confidence metric of 56 was also ahead of November 2010, when the index stood at 54.3.

Roofing Demand To Reach 263 Million Squares

U.S. demand for roofing is forecast to rise 5.7 per cent per year to 263 million squares in 2015, valued at $24.4 billion says the Freedonia Group. This pace represents a turnaround from the outright decline experienced between 2005 and 2010.  Advances will be driven by a rebound in building construction expenditures from a depressed 2010 base. The new study says the residential market will see annual demand gains of more than 20 per cent through 2015 as housing starts rise from their low 2010 levels.  However, the residential re-roofing market will continue to account for the largest share of roofing demand in 2015. Asphalt shingles hold a dominant position in the residential market and are most popular.  Demand for asphalt shingles will rise over seven per cent per year through 2015. Laminated asphalt shingles, which accounted for 40 per cent of shingle demand in 2000, are projected to total 85 per cent of the demand.

Carpet Cushion Made From Shoe Scraps

Future Foam Inc's StepAhead carpet cushion will now be available in Canada at The Home Depot. Nike transports its pre-manufactured shoe scraps to the company's facilities to be refined into the cushions, converting more than three million pounds of scraps into 60 million square feet of cushioning each year. The foam products manufacturer's sustainable carpet cushion is an alternative to traditional carpet underlayment that meets low VOC emission criteria for improved indoor air quality and comes with a lifetime warranty.

FIT-Compliant Solar Solutions On Preview

Conergy Canada is previewing a full portfolio of FIT-compliant mounting systems at the CanSIA Solar Canada Conference December 5 to 6 in Toronto. The portfolio includes complete solutions for every type of PV installation. Products are manufactured in Ontario to meet OPA Local Content requirements and can be installed on rooftops that normally can't support a solar array.

Garden Show Expands

Canada Blooms Flower and Garden Show will be at The National Home Show in an expanded 10-day format from March 16 to 25, 2012, at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto, ON. The co-location creates the largest home and garden event in North America. For details, visit www.canadablooms.com

Lumber Liquidators Names New CEO

Flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators has announced that Robert Lynch, its current president and chief operating officer, will succeed current CEO Jeffrey Griffiths on January 1, 2012. As part of the company's succession plan, Griffiths will also retire from the board of directors at the same time. Lynch has served as Lumber Liquidators' president and COO since January 2011. Prior to joining the company, he served as president and CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware. Lumber Liquidators operates more than 260 locations selling hard-surface flooring.

Jeld-Wen Recognized For Safety

Jeld-Wen was recognized for its safety-related record with the '2011 Theodore Roosevelt Workers' Compensation and Disability Management Award' at the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference and Expo. Since 2002, Jeld-Wen has reduced its annual workers' compensation injuries in the United States by 80 per cent. While its reduction in incidents was important in the judging process, the company was also praised for its development of training programs, tracking and feedback mechanisms, and a host of prevention measures.

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November 29, 2011

RONA Focuses On Paper Consumption

RONA inc. has revealed its new 'Paper Products Use and Procurement Policy' and 'Sustainable Packaging Policy' as part of its initiatives in sustainable development. The policies are to ensure all products sold and used by RONA have the smallest impact possible on the environment. The retailer has adopted the life cycle approach, a process that aims to minimize the environmental footprint of a product in all phases of its life cycle ‒ from its inception to its ultimate disposal ‒ by avoiding negative environmental impacts. By 2014, the company plans to reduce paper consumption by 15 per cent and by 2015 reduce packaging by 10 per cent on its private brand.

Tembec Sells BC Mills

Tembec has reached an agreement to sell its British Columbia southern interior wood products assets to Canfor Corporation. Canfor will purchase Tembec's Elko and Canal Flats sawmills and the associated Crown tenures which consist of approximately 1.1 million cubic meters of combined Crown, private land, and contract annual allowable cut.

Fashion Designer Creates Bathroom Fittings

Brizo faucets is partnering with American fashion designer Jason Wu on a collection of fittings and accessories for the bathroom to be launched in spring 2012. The collection items feature matte black finishes. "Brizo and Jason Wu are both luxury brands that share the same design vision: timeless style that is innovative and fresh," says Anita Griffin, Canadian brand manager for Brizo "Collaborating with Jason on a bathroom faucet collection further strengthens our position that fashion is about more than just the clothes you wear; it's a lifestyle." Masco Canada Ltd., the Canadian plumbing division of Masco Corporation, represents Brizo.

Apple Co-founder Speaking To ICSC

Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak will be a keynote speaker at the International Council of Shopping Centres' Whistler Conference. He will give a luncheon keynote address entitled 'A Technology Chat' at the conference in Whistler, BC; taking place January 22 to 24, 2012. For more information, visit www.icsc.org/2012BC

Hybrid Masonry Stones Attractive To Homeowners

Eighty-four per cent of new homebuyers want homes built with brick or stone, says MasonryWorx. The study, commissioned by the trade association of brick, block, and stone masonry industry professionals, showed that more than four in five respondents think a brick or stone home "looks best," is more durable, and has a higher resale value. New masonry hybrid offerings give the look of stone with the installation ease of brick. The company says diverse exterior stone colour options are gaining in popularity, and slate, clay, and brick hybrid products are available in a variety of colours and patterns to suit homeowners needs.

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November 28, 2011

Home Ownership Slightly More Affordable

Owning a home became slightly more affordable in the third quarter thanks to continuing low interest rates, says an RBC study on housing affordability. The affordability measure captures the proportion of pre-tax household income that would be needed to service the costs of owning a home. In the third quarter, that index fell for all categories of housing. The uncertainty affecting the global economy is helping to keep interest rates close to historic lows and rates are unlikely to rise until the middle of next year and even then only gradually, RBC says. The cost of owning a detached bungalow dropped in most major cities in the third quarter, with the exception of Toronto and Calgary which ticked higher. Although overall affordability improved slightly in the three months to September, housing costs in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa are also in an "uncomfortable" range. For example, an affordability reading of 50 per cent means that homeownership costs ‒ including mortgage payments, utilities, and property taxes ‒ take up 50 per cent of a typical household's monthly pre-tax income. The index in Vancouver stands at 90.6 per cent, Toronto 52.1 per cent, and Montreal 40.9 per cent.

Highest EPS Growth Detected

Lumber Liquidators, Home Depot, and Lowe's are expected to have the highest year-over-year earnings per share (EPS) growth rates in the home improvement retail industry. Hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators is highest with EPS growth of 64.8 per cent. Home Depot is next with EPS growth of 14.2 per cent, and Lowe's finishes the top three with EPS growth of nine per cent.

Legislation To Make Ontario Safer

Landscape Ontario is recognizing PC MPP Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton) and NDP MPP Paul Miller (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek) for introducing a Private Members' Bill, 'The Ontario One Call Act' – to increase public safety. The act would make it mandatory for all utility asset owners and excavators to use a single one-call system to locate all underground utility lines before digging. If passed, the bill would establish Ontario One Call Ltd. as a not-for-profit call centre that would be the single point of contact for all underground utility location services in the province. Landscape Ontario will be communicating with Ontario MPPs to ensure 'The Ontario One Call Act' is passed during this legislative session.

Hart Stores Names New Leader

Robert Farah is president and CEO of Hart Stores Inc. He recently rejoined the company as CEO and was previously the CFO. Hart Stores Inc. operates a network of 92 mid-sized department stores under the Hart, Bargain Giant, and Géant des Aubaines banners throughout Eastern Canada.

MasonryWorx Announces New President

Jack Prazeres is president of MasonryWorx and will lead the board and executive committee. He succeeds Dante Di Giovanni who will remain on the executive committee as past president. MasonryWorx represents manufacturers, suppliers, and skilled professionals from across Ontario, providing homebuyers, homeowners, architects, engineers, builders, and government with information about the use and benefits of brick, block, and stone masonry products.

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November 25, 2011

Confidence Ticks Up Slightly

After six months of continuous decline, Canadians' confidence in the economy ticked up very slightly, rising from 95.2 to 96, says TNS Canada. Its 'Present Situation Index' which measures how people feel about the economy right now, rose 1.8 points from 94.5 to 96.3, indicating that despite continuing gloomy economic news and uncertain prospects, Canadians don't see their situation as that bad. The 'Expectations Index,' which measures people's outlook for the economy six months from now, rose by 1.5 points from 98 to 99.5 which shows there is still some uncertainty. The 'Buy Index,'which measures the extent to which Canadians feel that now is a good time to purchase a 'big ticket item,' such as a car or a major household appliance, dipped from 93.4 to 92.1, continuing the 'up and down' pattern from month to month and showing that Canadians can't make up their collective minds as to whether or not now is a good time to purchase.

Sixth Canadian Flooring Location

Lumber Liquidators is growing again with a location in Cambridge, ON. This store opening is part of the brand's continued expansion into Southern Ontario and the sixth Canadian location. Lumber Liquidators offers more than 300 varieties of flooring including hardwood, bamboo, laminate, vinyl, and cork.

JELD-WEN Has New Display Program

JELD-WEN Windows and Doors has launched its new door display program. Available to all dealers across Canada, more than 400 have already found the program an engaging way to present the doors available nationwide as well as products tailored to specific regions to their customers. Various styles and sizes are presented, as well as the features and benefits of each. QR codes give customers even more advice through their smartphones, including links to videos that demonstrate the proper installation of the doors. "We're excited to help our customers feel confident they're choosing the right doors for their homes and that they can install them without worry," says Sante Cigana, JELD-WEN Canada vice-president.

GROHE Garners Four Design Awards

Kitchen faucet manufacturer GROHE was recognized with four design awards at the annual Perspective Awards celebrating excellence in architecture, interiors, and product design in Asia. Award winners are chosen based on aesthetics, functionality, and innovation. The company's Digital Collection, its Veris and Eurocube lines, and K7 kitchen faucet were favoured by the judges.


TendTudo Enters Cuba

Brazilian retail chain TendTudo, which sells home improvement products and construction materials, will start supplying a Havana store for Cuban state company Palco in the first half of 2012. The store is modeled on its home centre stores in Brazil though much smaller. It sees a strengthening market for its products after a recent reform by the Cuban government to allow the buying and selling of homes for the first time in decades. The housing reform is expected to increase demand for building materials because there is a housing shortage of more than 600,000 units and many of the existing homes are in bad shape. TendTudo expects the new business from Cuba will exceed $400 million annually.

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November 24, 2011

Accessibility Must For Ontarians

Things such as goods and services, employment, transportation, information, or buildings often exclude the 15 per cent of the population that has some type of disability. On January 1, 2012, private sector businesses will be responsible for providing accessible customer service as an obligation of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, the first of five standards created under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The different requirements for large (50 or more employees) and small (less than 49) organizations, recruitment policies, and accommodation plans were discussed at the 'Labour, Employment, and Human Rights Group Seminar' presented by Fasken Martineau.

RONA Announces Auction Offer Extension

RONA inc. is extending the Offer 1 Expiration Date and the Offer 1 Settlement Date, and has increased the Maximum Aggregate Principal Tender Amount of Offer 1 of its previously announced offers. The deadline for tendering Debentures in Offer 1 has been extended to November 28, 2011, and the Offer 1 Settlement Date has been extended to December 1, 2011. In addition, the Maximum Aggregate Principal Tender Amount RONA is offering to purchase under Offer 1 has been increased from $200 million aggregate principal amount of debentures to $300 million aggregate principal amount of debentures. As previously announced by RONA on November 15, 2011, the Reference Yield is 1.374 per cent, and the range of acceptable bid prices for Offer 1 is from $1,001.19 to $1,022.73.


Lowe's Offers Holiday Home Prep Tips

Lowe's is offering customers some ideas for budget friendly mini holiday projects that can be completed in a weekend or less. For the kitchen, they include a fresh coat of paint, new wall tiles for the backsplash, and refreshing recessed lighting with pendants. For the living room plush curtains, a mirror above a mantel or sofa, and an area rug can update the space. To accommodate overnight visitors, bathroom updates with a handheld showerhead, and new towel rods and hooks offer functionality. All DIY project tips are available on the retailer's mylowes.com site.

Valspar Sales Increase

Valspar Corp. had net sales of $1.05 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter, a 19.4 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of 2010. The company posted a net loss of $295.7 million for the quarter, which ended October 28, 2011. This compares to a profit of $51.3 million for the same quarter in 2010. Fiscal year 2011 sales totaled $3.95 billion, a 22.5 per cent increase from fiscal year 2010. Net loss for fiscal year 2011 was $138.6 million.

Allman Named Group President

Keith Allman is group president, responsible for Brasstech, Delta Faucet Co., Hansgrohe, Liberty Hardware, Masco Bath, Masco Canada, and Mirolin Industries Corp. Most recently, he was president of Delta Faucet Co., a position he took over in 2007.  He joined Masco in 1998 as vice-president, manufacturing, at cabinet maker Merillat Industries.

November 24 Product Spotlight

Moen Canada's 90 Degree Rothbury and Waterhill wall mount faucets pair well with vessel sinks and provide extra counterspace in the bathroom. The faucets are certified to meet WaterSense criteria and offer a 5.7 litres per minute flow rate for water savings.
Wooster is expanding its Micro Plush line to include microfibre options of 9/16″ and 3/4″ nap heights. Micro Plush rollers are made with soft white microfiber that delivers a very uniform, even finish with all paints and enamels. 
IdeaPaint turns almost any paintable surface into a high-performance dry-erase surface. It can be used on desks, doors, walls, conference tables, old whiteboards, and other items and surfaces for notes, artwork, collaborative work, and more.

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November 23, 2011

Retail Sales Up In September

Retail sales rose one per cent to $38.2 billion in September, reflecting growth at most store types, says Statistics Canada. This marks the fifth increase in six months and was the largest advance since November 2010. In volume terms, sales rose 0.6 per cent. Gains were reported in nine of 11 subsectors, representing 90 per cent of retail sales.Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 0.8 per cent in September compared to August and 3.4 per cent compared to September 2010.

HomeServe Arrives In Canada

HomeServe USA Corp., a provider of emergency home repair service programs, is expanding into the Canadian market. It has signed an agreement with EPCOR Utilities Inc. giving it a market of approximately 1.3 million residential households across the province of Alberta. The plans offered by HomeServe protect homeowners from the cost and inconvenience of repairs that are not covered by basic home insurance or a local utility. These include coverage designed for water and sewer service lines, interior plumbing and drainage piping, heating/water heating systems, and electric wiring.

Banman Joins Habitat Council

Henry Banman, senior executive vice-president and founding partner at All Weather Windows, has accepted an advisory position with Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council. The National Leadership Council is a group of Canadian business and community leaders who believe that building stronger communities depends upon safe, affordable, and accessible housing. "When you've been a part of Canada's building industry for as long as we have, you see first-hand that there's a tremendous need to provide critical resources for thousands of people," says Banman. "It's an honour to be a part of the National Leadership Council and to effectively collaborate on fighting this housing crisis and making homeownership a reality for families in Canada and abroad."

LINE-X Earns Product Award

LINE-X Protective Coatings, a developer and provider of high performance protective coatings, is again the recipient of the Frost & Sullivan '2011 Product Line Strategy Award in the North American Market for Constructive Protective Coatings.' The awards highlight outstanding achievements in innovation and customer service based on independent, primary analyst research. Frost & Sullivan is a corporate consultancy. The LINE-X product line offers a multitude of application opportunities including residential flooring.

Paint Company Partners With Guggenheim

New York City's Guggenheim Museum has launched two paint lines with Vermont paint company, Fine Paints of Europe. The Gallery Collection includes 50 original colours used for milestone exhibitions and neutral shades chosen by noted curators and artists. The second Classical Collection pulled 150 colours from paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Franz Marc, and other renowned artists whose work is featured in the museum. The colours are available for order from the company.

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November 22, 2011

Home Sales Up From 2010

Existing home sales in October rose 1.4 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million in the U.S., says the National Association of Realtors. Compared to a year ago, the current figure is up 13.5 per cent. An ongoing positive trend is a steady decline in the number of homes on the market. Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 2.2 per cent to 3.33 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an eight month supply at the current sales pace, down from an 8.3 month supply in September. Inventories have been trending gradually down since setting a record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

Firelogs From Recycled Boxes

Enviro-Log Inc.is expanding its recycling program to help more retailers reduce their environmental impact. The consumer products and recycling company is working with retailers to divert waxed cardboard boxes from landfills to its manufacturing facility to be turned into earth-friendly firelogs. To date, Enviro-Log has worked with more than 100 partners throughout North America and diverted more than 150 million pounds of waxed cardboard from landfills. The company's firelogs are an alternative to burning trees and firewood and emit 30 per cent less greenhouse gases, 80 per cent less carbon dioxide, and 86 per cent less creosote while also providing 50 per cent more heat per pound than wood.

Tembec Sells Toronto Plant

Forest products company Tembec has reached an agreement with a private company to sell its Toronto, ON; flooring plant assets along with its Muskoka and Vintage brands. The closing of this transaction is expected to take place within the next few weeks. Tembec will also close the Huntsville, ON; hardwood flooring plant as of January 2012.

Economic Indicators At Steady Pace

A gauge of future economic activity rose at solid pace in October, offering hope that the U.S. economy may see stronger growth in coming months, says the Conference Board. Its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.9 per cent last month, significantly faster than the revised 0.1 per cent rise in September and the 0.3 per cent increase in August. The economy, after growing at an anemic pace of just 0.9 per cent in the first six months of the year, grew at a 2.5 per cent rate in the July-September quarter. Some analysts are looking for even stronger growth in the current October-December quarter.

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November 21, 2011

Household Spending Remains Strongest Component 

The composite leading index rose 0.2 per cent in October, after a gain of 0.1 per cent in September, says Statistics Canada. In October, five of the 10 components increased, the same as the month before, while four declined, one fewer than in September. Household spending remained the strongest sector of the economy, while manufacturing remained the weakest. The housing index advanced 1.6 per cent as the continued increase in housing starts since the spring was reinforced by a rebound in existing home sales in the last two months. Durable goods sales were mixed with a dip in furniture and appliance sales offset by an increase in demand for other durable goods.

Lowe's Uses iPhones In-Store

Lowe's has rolled out iPhones to more than 60 per cent of its stores where they are used as sales tools and scanners. Rick Damron, executive vice-president of store operations, says the devices are customized with retail applications based on Apple's iPhone technology. They are expected to be rolled out to all stores by the end of the year. Each store will have about 25 of the iPhone devices. Because employees no longer have to walk to a fixed terminal about 400 times a day, it makes them more productive, he says.

Gores Buys Remaining LBM Shares

The Gores Group, the primary owner of Stock Building Supply, has bought the remaining shares of the LBM company from UK-based Wolseley. A private equity firm, the Gores Group acquired a controlling interest in Stock in May 2009. Wolseley was associated with Stock for 27 years and still owns plumbing and HVAC wholesaler Ferguson Enterprises in the United States and Canada.

UL Validates Environmental Claims 

CertainTeed Gypsum has announced that UL Environment Inc. has completed the Environmental Claims Verification (ECV) process for products manufactured at its Vancouver, BC; Toronto, ON; Seattle, WA; and Moundsville, WV manufacturing facilities. Specifically, UL Environment confirmed the pre- and post-consumer recycled content, origination of source materials and adherence of ASTM D 3273 mold resistance standards for 19 CertainTeed products. The validation process is currently underway for products manufactured at the company's remaining North American plants.

Home Hardware Announces Endowment

Home Hardware Stores Limited is giving $50,000 to KidsAbility to establish the Home Hardware Stores Limited Endowment Fund. KidsAbility is a provider of rehabilitation services for children from Waterloo Region and Guelph Wellington areas of Ontario from birth to 18 years of age. These funds will provide annual income in perpetuity to help children in the community with special needs.

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November 18, 2011

Businesses Holding Line On Prices

Despite rising raw material costs, 57 per cent of Canadian businesses have no plans to raise prices next year and more than three-quarters plan to invest the same amount or more in their businesses next year, says a report from BMO Bank of Montreal. "Current modest economic and wage growth and the lure of cross-border deals have convinced many Canadian businesses not to raise prices," says Sal Guatieri, senior economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Staying competitive is the name of the game, and will help Canadian businesses in the long run." He notes that with a slower economic growth rate for Canada of two per cent in 2012, price pressures will be contained.  The survey found that Canadian businesses have taken a number of steps to improve their business performance during 2011. While 15 per cent say that lower interest rates have had the most positive impact on their business, 21 per cent point to productivity improvements such as upgrading equipment and processes, and one in four say lowering expenses/costs have had the most positive effect on their business this year. 

Weakness In Canada Drags Down Sears

Sears Holdings Corp. turned in a loss in its third quarter, dragged down by weakness in Canada, declining consumer electronics sales, and softer clothing sales at its Kmart stores. The net loss widened to $421 million from $218 million a year earlier. Sales fell 1.2 per cent to $9.57 billion, the 19th straight quarterly decline. Comparable-store sales for Sears Canada fell 7.8 per cent in the quarter.

Lowes Selling Notes

Lowe's Cos. plans to sell $1 billion in notes to fund general business needs. The home improvement retailer will sell $500 million of 3.8 per cent notes due in 2021 and $500 million of 5.125 per cent notes due in 2041. Lowe's expects roughly $991 million in proceeds from the offering, after expenses. It plans to use the money for general corporate purposes, which may include stock buybacks and acquisitions.

OHBA Backs Seniors Tax Credit

The Ontario Home Builders' Association (OHBA) supports the provincial government's plan to implement a 'Seniors Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit.' Homeowners will qualify for a tax credit when they make a home retrofit for accessibility purposes allowing seniors to age-in-place, improve the quality of Ontario's aging housing stock, and stimulate the economy. The OHBA's president, Doug Tarry, says "the underground 'cash' economy is rampant in the renovation sector and the 'Seniors Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit' will encourage home owners to collect receipts and hire legitimate business rather than paying cash under the table." Of the more than $23 billion spent on renovations in Ontario, it is estimated more than $5 billion is conducted by illegal underground contractors.

U.S. Housing Starts Slip

Housing starts officially slipped 0.3 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000, says the U.S. Commerce Department. However, this month's starts are up double digits ‒ 16.5 per cent ‒ from the same month last year. Also strong is this month's building permits figure of 653,000, up 10.9 per cent from the September rate and up 17.7 per cent above the October 2010 estimate.

Income Rises At Williams Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma Inc.'s third quarter net income rose 19 per cent as shoppers picked up more home goods at its stores. Net income in the August/October quarter was $43.4 million, up from $36.5 million in the same period last year. Revenue rose six per cent to $867.2 million from $815.5 million.

Home Hardware Awards Toyotas

Home Hardware dealers across the country have awarded Toyota Matrix cars to three winners and another vehicle to each of the winners' charities of choice as part of the 'Home Owners Helping Home Towns Community & Charity Contest.' The three grand prize winners were selected at random through draws in eastern, western, and central Canada. The Western Canada winner, Barbara Jordan, of Nanaimo, BC; chose Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation as her charity. The prizes were presented by Applecross Home Hardware. In Central Canada, Melissa Heng, of Toronto, ON; chose Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation with the prizes presented by Metro Home Hardware Building Centre. In Eastern Canada, Gordon Fraser, of Charlottetown, PEI; chose Tremploy Inc., a charity that provides adults who have an intellectual disability with life skills training. The prizes were presented by Home Hardware ‒ Charlottetown.  Toyota Canada has been the official vehicle for Home Hardware since 2009.

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November 17, 2011

Home Sales Activity Increases

Sales of existing homes in Canada rose in October to the highest level since January, boosting forecasts for national resale activity for 2011 and confirming Canada's housing market remains robust, says the Canadian Real Estate Association. National sales of existing homes rose 1.2 per cent in October from the previous month, building on September's 2.5 per cent gain. Sales activity was up 8.5 per cent above October 2010, reflecting weakened activity one year ago and a pickup in activity after a mid-year lull. CREA says the national average price in October rose 5.5 per cent from a year earlier to just under $362,899, the smallest increase since January.

Retailers Liable For Defective Goods

A New Jersey federal court has reaffirmed the longstanding notion that retailers can be found strictly liable when they sell defective products. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Peter G. Sheridan potentially places a heavy burden on retailers considered to be 'experts' in their industries including hardware stores and other specialty retailers. In the case (DeGennaro v. Rally Manufacturing, 09-cv-443), the plaintiff claimed injury after a lead-acid battery he had just bought exploded in his hand and against his body. He sued both the manufacturer and the retailer. Based upon the evidence, the judge ruled that management "knew or should have known" that the battery had the propensity to explode because of the heat-sealed packaging. In order to reduce their risk of being found liable in such cases, retailers should redouble their efforts to become thoroughly aware of any defects associated with the products they sell.

Remodeling Activity Reaches Record High

U.S. remodeling activity reached a record high for September 2011, says the BuildFax Remodeling Index. It was the highest since the index was introduced in 2004 and represented the 23rd consecutive month of increases with a 34 per cent year over year increase to 141.4. In addition, the data reveals the most popular permitted residential remodeling jobs since 2006 have been roof remodels/replacements, followed by deck and bathroom remodels. The top eight types of remodels also include garage, kitchen, basement, office, and sunroom.

RONA Announces Bid Prices

RONA Inc. has announced the Reference Yield and range of acceptable Bid Prices for its previously announced Offers. The first Offer (Offer 1) is being conducted as a modified Dutch Auction and expires November 22.  On November 3, RONA announced its two successive offers to purchase for cash up to $200 million aggregate principal amount of its 5.4 per cent Debentures due October 20, 2016.

CertainTeed Launches Online Resource

CertainTeed Machine Works, formerly known as Unisul, has launched a new page on the CertainTeed website, www.CertainTeed.com/MachineWorks, which features a comprehensive online representation of the company's insulation offerings. The name change reflects the variety of product options for contractors and the company's association with CertainTeed Corporation. CertainTeed Machine Works was acquired by CertainTeed under the Unisul name in 1999.  The company specializes in blowing and fireproofing machines, spray foam equipment, vacuums, accessories, equipment installation and maintenance, and standard and custom designed truck, trailer, and cart mounted spray foam systems.

Small Spaces On Trend

By 2015, the average home size will be in the range of 2,000 to 2,399 square feet, says the National Association of Home Builders. From 1950 to 2000, the size of the average American house increased by 230 per cent, while the number of people living in it fell 23 per cent. Homeownership is still part of many people's goals, but recession influences, rising energy costs, and changing lifestyles have increased the interest in small homes. These small spaces rely on upgraded materials to provide comfort and standout in the marketplace.

Rubbermaid Consolidates

Newell Rubbermaid is consolidating its current three operating groups into two ‒ Newell Consumer and Newell Professional. The move, part of its previously realignment of its global business units as part of its Project Renewal initiative, will also see 13 global business units roll into nine. Newell Professional will comprise four global business units ‒ Commercial Products, Construction Tools & Accessories, Labeling Technology & Integrated Solutions, and Industrial Products & Services.

Paint, Coatings Demand To Rebound

The demand for paint and coatings in the United States is expected to rise 7.8 per cent annually through 2015, says The Freedonia Group. The market is expected to expand strongly in both volume and value terms, rebounding from the declines of the recession-impacted 2005 to 2010 period. However, the U.S. paint and coatings industry will continue to be impacted by the trend toward sustainability and growing environmental concerns will subject manufacturers to increasingly stringent government regulations. As a result, paint and coating suppliers will continue to invest heavily in the development of innovative, higher-value formulations. The large architectural market will grow at an annual rate of 10.8 per cent through 2015, reaching more than $14 billion.

Builder Sentiment Highest In Over A Year

The builder sentiment index rose to 20 in November – the highest level since May 2010 and only the second month the index has been at 20 or above in two years, says the National Association of Home Builders. The U.S. trade group cited low mortgage rates as a chief factor. Still, any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. It hasn't reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom. Builders are struggling to compete with foreclosures, which have made the price of previously occupied homes more competitive.

Credit Card Perks Boost Profits

Target Corp. had a 3.7 per cent increase in third quarter profits, helped by solid spending and improvement in its credit card business. The discounter earned $555 million in the three-month period ended October 29. That compares with $535 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 5.4 per cent to $16.05 billion. Revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 4.3 per cent in the quarter. Target's sales have rebounded as it expanded its offerings of food and emphasized its low prices in advertising. The retailer is also wooing shoppers with a five per cent discount program it launched in October 2010 for customer who pay with Target branded credit and debit cards.

Retailer Sees Lagging Sales

Sears Canada Inc. posted a net loss of $46.6 million in the three months ended October 30, down from a profit of $20.8 million a year ago. Same-store sales fell 7.8 per cent over the same period last year. Calvin McDonalds, its president and CEO, says the company has significant work ahead to overcome lagging sales as the Canadian marketplace increases competition. Revenue was off 7.1 per cent to $1.11 billion from $1.2 billion.

November 17 Product Spotlight

• Fiskars' Package Opener cuts through stubborn packaging and ties with ease and includes a snap-in combination screwdriver for prying open small compartments. It is part of the ShopBoss line of multipurpose tools.
• Arriscraft International's slate finish Renaissance Masonry Units feature a natural contoured texture manufactured to mirror natural stone formations. The units can withstand the most severe climates and are time-tested in extreme hot and cold environments.
• Duck brand's EZ Start Printed Packaging Tapes are now available in festive holiday patterns, 'Reindeer Games' and 'Cinnamon Snow' for packaging holiday gifts as an alternative to traditional paper and ribbon.
• The Neater Feeder pet feeding system contains spills and splashes from messing up the kitchen. The two-part container allows food to stay in the top reservoir while water drains into the easy-to-empty lower reservoir, protecting floors from stains and damage and making clean-up easy. It comes in finishes including bronze with stainless steel accents.
• Elkay's EverydayBrilliant sink and faucet enhancement products include the e-dock system with an array of magnetic accessories that fasten to the side walls of the sink to clear clutter and house commonly used items such as sponges and dishcloths. Accessories are dishwasher safe and have a non-slip magnet.
• DCS by Fisher & Paykel's French Door Refrigerator's drawers are designed with full extension runners and it includes an internal water filter, deep door bins for large items, and stainless steel finishes.

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November 16, 2011

Castle Adds Seven Members

Castle Building Centres Group is expanding its network of independent dealers with seven new locations. The independent dealers are Materiaux Manic ‒ Baie Comeau, QC; Saumarez Quincaillerie Ltee ‒ Saumarez, NB; Provincial Partitions Ltd ‒ Mississauga, ON; Materiaux De Construction Jean Guy Dube Inc ‒ Mont-Joli, QC; New Concept Walls and Ceilings Supply ‒ Edmonton, AB; Custom Walls & Ceilings Supply – Prince George, BC; and Ian Roberts Building Materials Ltd – Portage La Prairie, MB.

PayPass Will Ease Holiday Line Ups

Sears Canada Inc. will introduce MasterCard's PayPass contactless payment technology in its retail stores across the country to aid with the holiday shopping rush. The PayPass option speeds up the transaction and reducing customer wait times, says Peter Kalen, senior vice-president. Consumers with a PayPass-enabled credit card or mobile phone no longer need to use cash, swipe a card, or sign a receipt for purchases of up to $50. Instead, customers quickly and securely pay for their purchases with a tap of their card or phone on a PayPass point-of-sale payment terminal and the transaction is confirmed within seconds.

Paper Bills Phased Out

Canada has introduced the nation's first polymer banknotes to replace the paper-style money used since the early 1800s. The Bank of Canada has released the new polymer $100 bill into circulation, the first major change in the country's money supply since the rainbow-coloured notes were introduced in the 1960s. The new polymer $50 bill arrives in March, while the rest of the denominations – the $20, $10, and $5 – will be released in 2013. The new bills are made of thin layers of plastic that are nearly impossible to rip and are believed to be almost as difficult to counterfeit.

Retail Sales Beat October Expectations

U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in October as strong receipts from building material dealers offset the drag from service stations, suggesting the economy started the fourth quarter with some vigour, says the Commerce Department. Total retail sales increased 0.5 per cent after rising by an unrevised 1.1 per cent in September. Consumer spending – which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity – rose at its fastest pace in nearly a year in the third quarter. However, weak income growth remains a constraint.

Wal-Mart Misses Growth Target

Key sales at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. U.S. discount stores rose more than expected, reversing a string of nine quarterly declines in quarterly profit growth. Wal-Mart earned $3.34 billion in the third quarter ended on October 31, compared with $3.44 billion a year earlier. Net sales rose 8.2 per cent to $109.5 billion. Sales at U.S. discount stores open at least a year rose 1.3 per cent.

Home Depot Sees Strong Profit

Home Depot Inc.'s profit rose to $934 million in the third quarter ended October 30 from $834 million a year earlier. Sales rose 4.4 per cent to $17.33 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.2 per cent globally, including a 3.8 per cent rise in the United States.

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November 15, 2011

Building Materials Bring Highest Revenue

The global home improvement retail sector had total revenue of $598.9 billion in 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate of 1.7 per cent for the period spanning 2006-2010. The building materials segment was the sector's most lucrative in 2010, with total revenue of $389.1 billion, equivalent to 65 per cent of the sector's overall value. The performance of the sector is forecast to accelerate with growth of 2.5 per cent for the five-year period 2010-2015, which is expected to drive the sector to a value of $677.9 billion.


Speciality Retailers Make Gains

 The home improvement industry grew two per cent in the 12 months ending September 2011 versus 2010, says market research from the NDP Group. The industry is still down seven per cent compared to the same time period in 2009, but specialty retailers and online shopping are making significant gains. Specialty retailers have grown seven per cent in home improvement dollar sales and by double-digits in unit sales volume versus 2009. The categories with the most noteworthy increases in the specialty channel are storage and organization and lawn and garden products. Both experienced strong double-digit growth over the past two years. Hardware stores also gained some sales momentum, increasing six per cent on a dollar basis, compared to the 12 months ending September 2009. While other channels, such as warehouse home centres and warehouse clubs, showed modest growth in the 12 months ending September 2011, it wasn't enough to keep up with specialty and hardware store growth.

Sears Tackling 'Identity Crisis'

Sears Canada is facing an "identity crisis" and essential changes will be needed to improve the outlook for the retailer, says its CEO, Calvin McDonald. In an internal memo the CEO, who has held the job for three months, said stores are cluttered with merchandise and marketing and promotions are ineffective. The company is now working to address problems as it continues to face increasing pressures from the competition. In its second quarter, Sears Canada posted a $2.7 million loss compared with a $20.5 million profit a year earlier. Same-store sales, a key retail measure, slid 5.8 per cent.

Lowe's Profits Sink

Lowe's third-quarter profit sank 44 per cent, weighed down by store closings and discontinued projects. The home improvement retailer earned $225 million, compared with net income of $404 million in last year's quarter. Revenue climbed two per cent to $11.9 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year climbed less than one per cent. Last month it said it would close 20 underperforming stores in 15 states to focus on its more profitable locations. Lowe's operates more than 1,700 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Lumber Division Expands Services

Georgia-Pacific Wood Products will make "strategic changes" to its engineered lumber division to facilitate more direct involvement with its customer base and expand its services. The company will provide its engineered lumber customers with inside and outside account management personnel, business development support, engineering and technical services, and software development and support. It will continue to supply a complete engineered lumber product offering, including laminated veneer lumber (LVL), solid sawn and LVL flanged I-joists, glulam beams, and rim board.

Revenue Up for Ace

Ace Hardware Corporation had total revenues of $912 million for the third quarter of 2011, an increase of $87.1 million or 10.6 per cent from 2010. Net income was $17 million, an increase of $3.1 million or 22.9 per cent, compared to $13.9 million in 2010. During the third quarter, the company had an increase in sales from new domestic stores of $18 million. Ace added 35 new stores and cancelled 46 stores in the quarter, ending with a total domestic and international store count of 4,424.

Building Better Landscape Business

Canada's International Horticultural Lawn and Garden Trade Show and Conference will be held January 10 to 12, 2012, at the Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto, ON. More than 600 vendors and 11,000 industry professional will share industry news and best practices. Exhibitors, presenters, and patrons include people from every aspect of the lawn and garden industry including landscape contractors, lawn care professionals, owners and staff of retail garden centres, municipal parks and recreation managers, and grounds maintenance managers. Visit www.canadanursery.com for more details.

CGTA Acquires Tourism Conference

The Canadian Gift and Tableware Association has acquired TRIPS West ‒ The Tourist, Resort and Imprinted Products Show from DMG World Media Inc. TRIPS West will run each February in conjunction with the Spring Alberta Gift Show. The 2012 show runs from February 19 to 22 at Northlands Expo Centre in Edmonton, AB. The CGTA owns and operates the Toronto, Alberta, and Montreal Gift Shows.

$40,000 Eco Kitchen Renovation Up For Grabs

Scotiabank EcoLiving has launched the national EcoHome Renovation Contest in partnership with RONA with a grand prize valued at $40,000. One Canadian homeowner will win an eco kitchen renovation, featuring RONA ECO products, with expertise and design provided by Scotiabank partner Green Living. In addition, 20 secondary prize packages featuring RONA ECO products will be awarded. The contest closes January 31, 2012, and winners will be announced in February, 2012. For more information, visit www.scotiabank.com/ecoliving

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November 14, 2011

Consumers Not Expecting 2012 To Be Worse

Americans became more hopeful about the economic outlook in November, pushing consumer sentiment to a five-month high, though they still have a gloomy view of personal finances, says the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index. It was the third monthly gain in a row for the index, an encouraging sign for an economy where consumer spending accounts for 70 per cent of activity. Even so, sentiment is still at historically low levels, with the index down more than 13 points from a peak in February. Consumer sentiment rose to 64.2 from 60.9 the month before, topping the median forecast of 61.5 among economists polled by Reuters. The survey's gauge of consumer expectations climbed to 56.2 from 51.8. While respondents were no more positive about the current state of the economy, they were less likely to expect it to worsen in the year ahead, the survey said.

RONA Repurchases Shares

RONA inc. repurchased almost 1.6 million common shares at $9.30 for a total consideration of $14.5 million on the first day of trading under its normal course issuer bid program. RONA plans to purchase up to 11 million common shares, representing 10 per cent of its 110 million public float. The shares bought represent 14 per cent of the total number of shares authorized. It intends to continue the program in an effort to increase its return on equity.

Income Up For Paulin

H. Paulin & Co, Limited had sales of $34.8 million compared with $34 million last year in the third quarter. The Canadian manufacturer of bolts, nuts, screws, and fluid system components' income rose to $1.2 million from $875,000 in 2010.


1,500 Attend Expo

Chalifour Canada's first annual 'Retailer Buying Expo' attracted more than 1,500 retailer and vendor attendees. 'We mean business' was the theme of the national Expo and was chosen to convey the message that the show is relevant to many segments of the retailers' business. Attendees could gather information on not only hardware and LBM, but plumbing, electrical, paint, and seasonal. It also offered special features such as a 'Store on the Floor,' featuring merchandising and planograms in core categories; ongoing information sessions to highlight the online support available via Chalifour's e-catalogue and CROSS pricing management system; and the first annual Acefest, a one-day gathering of Ace retailers from across the country. The Ace brand is managed and marketed by Chalifour in Canada.

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November 11, 2011

Acquisition Boosts Retail Sales

Canadian Tire Corporation's third quarter revenue rose 19.4 per cent as a result of a 16.3 per cent increase in retail sales. Consolidated net income rose 35.9 per cent to $136.5 million from $100.5 million in the prior year. Included in this quarter's results were the positive impacts from the inclusion of Forzani and a lower tax rate. The company's quarterly results include Forzani Group Limited Sports for the first time, commencing August 19, 2011. Consolidated retail sales rose 16.3 per cent to $2.9 billion compared to the same period last year with the inclusion of FGL Sports sales of $218.4 million. Excluding FGL Sports, consolidated retail sales and revenues remain strong, up 7.6 per cent and 11 per cent.

Employers Need To Boost Social Media Training

Few employees tasked with social media duties are trained to do so by their employer, says the Society for Human Resource Management. The 'Social Media in the Workplace' survey shows that 73 per cent of employers do not provide social media training to employees engaged in social media outreach to external audiences. The survey also shows that most organizations (68 per cent) have employees who utilize social media to reach external audiences such as current customers, potential customers, and potential employees. Nearly one-third of organizations represented in the survey do not use social media to further the organization.

Home Depot Expands Texas Warehouse

Home Depot has begun construction on a 1.18 million square foot warehouse in Dallas, TX. The $20 million expansion will add to the retailer's 531,000 square feet of distribution space in South Dallas and includes tenant improvements and real property for the space that has been leased since 2007. The city of Dallas has agreed to grant Home Depot more than $4 million in property tax abatements on business personal property for 10 years. The DeSoto Economic Development Corp. and Dallas County also contributed more than $2 million of incentives for the facility. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2012.

Price-fixing Activities Going Unchecked

The Competition Bureau should better define and clarify its legal view on when business practices or alliances will be treated as criminal offences, says the C.D. Howe Institute. Otherwise, businesses may be inhibited in their ordinary activities or inclined to avoid entering strategic agreements with competitors that would be of benefit to Canadian consumers. The institute says the bureau has not pursued court actions testing the criminal provisions of the recently revised Competition Act and this may have resulted in harmful price-fixing activities going unchecked. The institute's Competition Policy Council comprises academics and practitioners active in competition policy, and convenes a neutral forum to test competing visions of competition policy and share views with practitioners, policymakers, and the public.

Seminar Examines Business Succession

Author and family business succession expert Dr. Tom Deans will speak at The Williamson Group's 'Transitioning Family Wealth' seminar November 15 at the Brantford Golf & Country Club, Brantford, ON. Family business owners looking for guidance for transitioning their business and protecting their wealth should attend. For more information, call 1-800-265-9973.

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November 10, 2011

RONA Posts Income Gain

RONA Inc. had a net income of $50.1million in its third quarter. Net income was up from $48 million last year and revenues were $1.3 billion, up $27.9 million. President and CEO Robert Dutton says economic uncertainty continues to impact consumer confidence and purchases and the circumstances were felt by the retailer. RONA had a 5.1 per cent drop in same-store sales due to more cautious spending by consumers and a decline in residential housing starts.

TIM-BR MART Sends Team To Juniors

Canadians can start voting November 13 for their favourite video to send an entire minor hockey team rink-side to the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, AB. The TIM-BR MART World Junior Hockey Video Challenge invites minor hockey teams to film their team spirit and share why they should be guests at the tournament in December. Videos can be submitted online at timbrtube.ca or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/timbrtube.

Vu1 Bulbs To Replace 65W Floodlights

Lowe's will sell Vu1 Corporation's R30 Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) light bulbs at its 1,725 retail stores beginning in February and on www.lowes.com starting December 1. The ESL R30 reflector bulbs are a direct replacement for the 65W incandescent flood bulbs commonly found in recessed lighting fixtures throughout U.S. households and businesses. Drawing less than 20W, the Vu1 is 70 per cent more efficient than its conventional incandescent counterpart and lasts up to five times longer, 11,000 hours on average says the company.

November 10 Product Spotlight

Moxie Trades, safety footwear made exclusively for women, has expanded its product line to include a complete collection of women's safety gear. Items include the original pink work boot, metal-free athletic runners, oxfords, light duty work boots, winter safety boots, and an apparel line including denim overalls, carpenter pants, coveralls, hard hats, tool belts, safety glasses, and uniform pants.
• The new line of LED lights from COAST Products includes the HP7 High Performance flashlight and the A-Series Professional Use flashlight. Each comes with a lifetime guarantee and produces 196 lumens of light output that shine more than 600 feet.
• The Plazmafire wall hanging gas fireplace from Napoleon features a contemporary design with the convenience and simplicity of installing by mounting on a wall. It comes complete with a sturdy mounting bracket, modern Topaz CRYSTALINE ember bed, exclusive black slate panel, and heat radiating ceramic glass. The Plazmafire offers 20,000 BTUs and a fuel saving electronic ignition with battery back-up.
CIL Paints' Ultimate Man Caves colour collection is designed to appeal to male customers. The collection features 20 of the most popular paint colours for men with names such as 'Iced Vodka' and 'Beer Time.'
Fiskars' ShopBoss Hardware Snip combines some of the most frequently used tools into one. Heavy-duty, titanium coated blades can cut metals, carpet, flooring, twine, and open boxes.
• The ToolPak ToolVest eliminates bulky tool belts with 20 pockets and 14 quick access pockets to keep tools ready for use. It zips on and off like a jacket and the vest frame is made from breathable and durable mesh fabric for superior strength and circulation. Fluorescent panels keep workers visible and safe in the dark.

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November 9, 2011

Housing Starts Slightly Lower  

A big drop in the number of single-family homes built in Canadian cities pushed overall housing starts slightly lower last month, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Housing starts were at 207,600 in October, down 0.6 per cent from a revised 208,800 units in September. Urban single-house starts were down nine per cent while multiple-unit urban starts were up by 1.7 per cent. Many Canadians are scaling down or choosing to rent as home prices and debt loads sit at record levels and economic uncertainty persists. CMHC expects new housing starts to come in at the 191,000-unit mark this year and level off next year to about 186,750 units.

Home Depot Offers Holiday Light Trade-In

Until November 13 Home Depot stores in Canada and the U.S. will be accepting old, broken, or used holiday light strings for recycling. For each unwanted incandescent light string, customers will receive a coupon for up to $5 off new LED Christmas lights. LED holiday lights use 80 per cent less energy than their incandescent counterparts and can last up to 10 times longer, the retailer says. Incandescent holiday light strings dropped off will be separated into their material streams – glass, plastic, copper, and steel – and then sent to recyclers to be made into new products.

BrassCraft Supports American Made

BrassCraft Manufacturing has redesigned its 'Made in the USA' logo, incorporating the American flag with the text 'DESIGNED, MACHINED AND ASSEMBLED IN THE USA.' The company is ensuring all products with the new logo meet applicable Federal Trade Commission rules. Products such as water connectors, water stops, gas connectors, and appliance connectors are designed in the U.S. and produced at plants in Texas, California, and North Carolina.

Lifetime Acquires Wholesaler

Lifetime Brands has acquired Creative Tops Limited and Creative Tops Far East Limited, a wholesale provider of tableware, kitchenware, and giftware products in the United Kingdom and China. The acquisition will allow the company to grow its private label housewares products. For its fiscal year ended March 31, Creative Tops had combined net revenues of about $42.3 million.

Armstrong Acquires Simplex

Armstrong World Industries has acquired Intalite Inc., operating under the name Simplex. The acquisition is said to strengthen Armstrong's capabilities in the North American specialty ceiling market and supports the company's growth strategy. Simplex will become part of the Armstrong Building Products division. Armstrong World Industries designs and manufactures floors, ceilings, and cabinets. In 2010, the company's consolidated net sales were about $2.8 billion.

Weather Conditions Dampen Earnings

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.'s fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened on lower consumer demand for its products. The lawn care product maker posted a loss of $53.4 million, compared with a loss of $32.6 million a year earlier. Revenue edged down to $417.2 million from $422.3 million as sales at its global consumer segment fell eight per cent to $308 million. Sales at the company's lawn service division rose five per cent to $83.4 million.

Industry Professionals Speak At Conference

Roy Prevost, customer service activist, and Mark Scherer, CEO of Scherer Brothers Lumber, will be keynote speakers at the 'Dealer Conference and Industry Breakfast' at the 'Canadian Home Improvement Show.' They will be speaking about re-energizing customer service, building customer loyalty, and prospering through a recession. It takes place November 17 in Toronto, ON. For more information visit http://www.canadianhomeimprovementshow.com

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November 8, 2011

Renovations Boost Value

The billions Canadians have spent on upgrading properties and building new houses over the past decade have improved the quality of real estate and helped almost double prices during the period, says RE/MAX. The value of a Canadian home has risen from $163,951 in 2000 to $339,030 last year and the realtor says that in 10 out of 16 major markets studied, prices have more than doubled. Canada's housing market has so far remained solid despite the global economic turmoil. The other main game changer in the Canadian property market has been condo construction, RE/MAX says. In B.C. and Alberta, condos now account for about 25 to 50 per cent of residential sales.

Support Needed For Customer-centric Experience

Sixty-seven per cent of North American consumer product manufacturers report their current trade planning processes cannot support the delivery of a customer-centric shopping experience, says the Promotion Optimization Institute. With a rise in social media, online shopping, and mobile applications, consumers have drastically changed the way they make purchasing decisions, but brand manufacturers are still operating the way they have for decades. The study results demonstrate that consumer brand companies need to tie marketing investments to a financial framework that is integrated across internal sales, marketing, finance, and IT organizations as well as retail partners. It also says companies need to improve communication between internal and external partners and determine effective trade funding methods that will drive growth.

Chinese Customers Not Accustomed To DIY

British retailer Kingfisher is going about its DIY retail business in China with a new approach. The company says the Chinese market has proven difficult for DIY retailers to gain acceptance so it is trying a showroom format to target customers. Kingfisher closed 22 of its DIY stores in China two year ago and now operates 40 stores in China.

Acquisition Services Hawaii

Allied Building Products Corp. has acquired Ivan Supply Co., a branch of American Wholesale and Pacific Source. Ivan Supply Co. is a privately held, four-branch distributor of roofing and siding founded in 1981. Pacific Source is a privately held building materials distributor with branch operations in Hawaii.

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November 7, 2011

Housing Market Flat In 2012

The Canadian housing market has flattened out and will likely remain the same next year to where it is now, in terms of new housing starts and resales, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.  The agency says the market has shifted to a more balanced position as listings have increased and prices are expected to remain flat to the end of 2012. Low mortgage rates, the domestic economy, and immigration remain positive factors for the real estate market, while the uncertainty in the global economy and U.S. economic recovery pose threats. CMHC expects new housing starts to come in around the 191,000 unit mark this year and level off next year to about 186,750 units.

Building Permits On Three-Month Decline

Contractors took out $5.6 billion worth of building permits in September, down 4.9 per cent from August and the third consecutive monthly decline, says Statistics Canada. Construction intentions fell in six provinces, led by British Columbia and Alberta. The decline nationally was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions for both the residential and non-residential sectors in British Columbia and the non-residential sector in Alberta. The value of permits increased in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 11 per cent to $2.0 billion in September, a third consecutive monthly decline. Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario accounted for much of the monthly decline at the national level. Non-residential permits rose in five provinces, led by Saskatchewan and Quebec.

Manufacturers Account For Most Of Price Gap

The Senate committee studying the Canada-U.S. price gap has heard many experts declare that international manufacturers and distributors charge Canadian retailers much more than retailers in the U.S., says the Retail Council of Canada. The Senate heard that retailers in Canada pay import duties on consumer products which are much higher than those paid by their American competitors. It was also acknowledged that our market is one-tenth of the size of our southern neighbour. Ian Gordon, president of Convergence Management Consultants, testified that retail price differences could primarily be traced to manufacturers who accounted for 37 per cent of the total retail shelf price difference for all the goods considered in the non-automotive category. Retailers accounted for just nine per cent.

QR Codes Engaging Consumers

HomeRight has released its new packaging with QR-Codes and MicroSoft Tags. Its PaintStick, EZ-Twist, and StainStick lines feature codes which can be scanned with a smart phone to be linked to a youtube.com product video and other information. The smart phone user needs to download a code reader application to their phone and they are ready to scan. HomeRight is adding the codes and tags to packaging and displays to provide consumers with product information at their fingertips in retail locations.

Roofing Distributor Grows Westward  

Beacon Roofing Supply has acquired Fowler & Peth, a distributor of residential and commercial roofing products and related accessories. The housing material distributor says the acquisition will allow for expansion in the Denver, CO; market and surrounding states as per westward expansion plans. Founded in 1948, Fowler & Peth has six locations in Colorado, two in Wyoming, and one in Nebraska. Annuals sales are approximately $60 million.

Discount Merchandise In High Demand

Closeout retailer Big Lots Inc had a six per cent rise in U.S. retail sales for the third quarter, helped by improving demand for most of its major merchandise categories. Sales at stores open at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year increased 1.7 per cent in the quarter. U.S. retail sales were posted at $1.1 billion for the quarter.

Dorel Sales Increase

Dorel Industries Inc.'s sales for the period increased by $6.3 million, or 1.1 per cent, to $575.8 million from $569.5 million a year ago. Net income was $23.1 million compared to $30.6 million in 2010. President and CEO Martin Schwarts says consumers maintained a tight rein on spending and the company was unable to pass the majority of higher costs on to customers.

Consumer Sentiment Signals Intact Recovery

Consumer confidence in the United States rose unexpectedly in October, a signal that an economic recovery process may still be intact, says a Thomson Reuters report. The index of consumer sentiment climbed to 60.9 from 59.4 in September, beating Bloomberg News economists' projections of a drop to 58. The preliminary reading for the month was 57.5. Commerce Department figures showed that spending increased in September by 0.6 per cent, after a 0.2 per cent gain the prior month.

Spring Hardware Show In Vegas

The National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, Nevada will be held May 1 to 3, 2012, at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The show attracts more than 27,000 global industry professional for after home market products. Visit http://www.nationalhardwareshow.com for more details.

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November 4, 2011

Canadian Consumers Still Pay More Than Americans

Even with a currency hovering around parity with the U.S. dollar, Canadians are still paying more for retail products on this side of the border, however the price gap has gotten smaller. Consumer goods cost an average 11 per cent more in Canada than in the United States, a differential that has shrunk from 18 per cent in April, says a survey conducted by the Bank of Canada.  The bank outlined a number of potential factors that explain why prices haven't caught up with moves in the currency. They include higher taxes, higher labour costs, higher transportation costs – in part because of a smaller, more widely dispersed population – differences in inventory levels, and a more concentrated sector on this side of the border that reduces competitive pressure to cut prices.

Ace 6th Largest Franchise Operation

Ace Hardware Corporation is ranked the sixth largest franchise operation in the world in the 2011 Franchise Times Top 200 Franchise Systems list. The largest retailer co-operative in the convenience hardware industry, Ace has held a position in the top six each year since its debut on the list in 2005. The 12th annual compilation of the list ranked Ace sixth based on its annual worldwide retail sales in 2010, estimated to be $12.5 billion. Ranking ahead of Ace are household names that include McDonald's, 7-Eleven, KFC, Subway, and Burger King.  Ace is the only hardware/home improvement retailer on the list.

Saskatchewan, Alberta Stay Optimistic

Confidence among Canada's small and mid-sized business owners climbed slightly in October, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business's 'Business Barometer.' The index measured 63.6, almost a point above September's 62.7 and marginally higher than the 61.7 level posted in August when the latest round of worries from Europe started sweeping around the world. Business owners in Saskatchewan and Alberta are the most optimistic with index levels just under 74. Ontario (62) and Quebec (60.3) are slightly below the national average, but the weakest optimism is found in Nova Scotia (58.4) and New Brunswick (59.6). Optimism in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail sectors remains close to the overall average, however, optimism in construction remains weak.

Member Sales Up In All Departments

True Value Co. had revenue of $445.7 million for the quarter ending October 1, an increase of 3.6 per cent from $430.2 million for the same period a year ago. The co-operative posted a quarterly net margin of $18.1 million, an increase of 3.4 per cent versus $17.5 million. Members' retail sales were up 4.1 per cent, with all departments running an increase and all regions of the country performing well. The True Value co-operative includes approximately 4,700 independent retailer locations worldwide.

Social Media Examined At Seminar

The International Council of Shopping Centres will present a panel of social media and technology professionals for the seminar, 'Shopping Centres Use Social Media.' The discussion will be part of the Toronto Holiday Next Generation Program & Reception on November 23 at the Austin Gallery at the Suites at One King West. For more information, visit http://www.icsc.org/apps/meeting_display.php?meeting=2011N99&mailid=2L11N99b

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November 3, 2011

Retailers Face Competitive Holiday Market

With consumer confidence shaky, holiday shoppers will tend to err on the side of caution, focusing on necessities and stretching dollars to cover the rising costs of commodities, says Ernst & Young. This holiday season more than ever, Canadian retailers will compete in a heavily promotional and highly competitive market. Price guarantees, price matching, free delivery, price checking, and promotional pricing will all be popular terms. It is forecasting that holiday sales will grow by a modest two per cent, in line with core inflation, compared to last year. As for gift cards, while they will still be popular this year, the market is maturing and sales are expected to be flat compared to last year. Online spending, including cross-border online spending, will continue to increase.

Advertisements Used With E-receipts

InStream has launched an e-receipt tool, allowing retailers and advertisers to deliver targeted ads to shoppers via emailed transactional receipts. As smartphones continue to gain users, e-receipts are becoming increasingly appealing to consumers given their convenience. With the e-receipt tool, advertisers can reach shoppers with targeted ads based on recent purchases in a given location, immediately sending third-party offers that are redeemable at a nearby retailer. E-receipts also offer in-store sales clerks increased mobility and a more interactive experience with customers by eliminating lines as an entire transaction can be done from a handheld device. 

Customers Set Holiday Campaign

Zellers Canada will launch its 'Festive Finale' campaign this holiday shopping season as an initiative to put customers in charge of holiday planning. Shoppers will be choosing the Facebook exclusive coupon each week, picking the in-store music play list, and recording the radio ads for national broadcast. All of these decisions will be made through its Facebook page.

Home Construction Sees Biggest Gains

U.S. builders spent slightly more in September on home construction, partially offsetting losses in public schools, roads, and government offices, says the Commerce Department. Construction spending rose 0.2 per cent in September from August to $787.2 billion, the second straight monthly increase. Still, spending is barely half the $1.5 trillion that economists consider healthy. Through first nine months of the year, spending is at $580.9 billion, about 3.5 per cent below the same period in 2010. The biggest gains in September were in private residential construction which includes single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums.

Chalifour Recognizes Vendors

Chalifour Canada announced the winners of its retailer and vendor of the year awards at its first annual 'Retailer Buying Expo.' Matériaux St-Élie, QC; Lyon's TIM-BR Mart, ON; and Fraser's Pro Home Centre, NS; were retailers of the year. Maibec Inc. took home gold in the vendor of the year in the lumber and building materials category, while Stanley Black & Decker won in the hardware vendor of the year category.

Vu1 Bulbs Replace 65W Floodlights

Lowe's will sell Vu1 R30 Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) light bulbs at its 1,725 retail stores beginning in February and online starting December 1. The ESL R30 reflector bulbs are a direct replacement for the 65W incandescent flood bulbs commonly found in recessed lighting fixtures throughout U.S. households and businesses.

RONA Partners For Energy Savings

As part of the city of Edmonton's initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, local RONA stores will be hosting a Home$ave Event November 5. Customers can purchase a Home$aver kit which includes a programmable thermostat or two programmable power bars; CFL light bulbs; a low flow shower head; LED nightlight; and electric outlet insulators as well as take in demonstrations and displays from vendors.

Retailer Grows Facial Hair For Cause

Home Hardware in Sussex, NB; is encouraging male employees and customers to grow their moustaches for the next 30 days in support of prostate cancer awareness month, 'Movember'. The campaign started in Australia and has spread to North America. Retail floor manager Betty Jane Brown came up with the idea from another Home Hardware owner and decided to turn it into a contest. Participants donate $5 to the cause to enter and have their photo taken. On the last week of the month, participants will come back in with their quaffed facial hair for another photo. The winner will get a gift certificate from one of Home Hardware's suppliers.

November 3 Product Spotlight

• The Kenneth James Brand Verve collection includes large-scale scrolls, contemporary-inspired florals, modern damasks, paisleys, dogwood blossoms, and a starburst design. Special effects include suede, gels, pearlescence, and metallic inks. Verve also features a selection of complementing textures that can be used to create a textured landscape.
• Axor's collaboration with designer Antonio Citterio includes faucets, a showerhead, and shower pipe for Fall 2011. New fixtures include single-hole faucets in tall or regular and a showerhead and thermostatic shower pipe all available in chrome or brushed nickel.
Trex's Enhance Decking is a high-performance composite decking line manufactured with 95 per cent recycled content including reclaimed wood, sawdust, and plastic bags. Each deck board is offered in both square and grooved profiles measuring 1″ x 5½″. It is available in Clam Shell, a deep charcoal, and Beach Dune, a warm honey brown.
• The Kenmore Elite hybrid water softener and whole-home filter both softens water and reduces chlorine taste and odour. The unit provides filtered water to every faucet in the home and reduces scale build up while maintaining efficiency of appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
Philips LED bulbs offer energy-efficient lighting that saves consumers up to 80 per cent in energy costs compared to traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs. The AmbientLED Indoor Flood GU10, DecoLED Decorative Chandelier, and AmbientLED Decorative Globe bulbs last up to 23 years or 25,000 hours.
Uniboard's White 777 melamine injects warmth, depth, and vibrancy into any and all Uniboard colours it is combined with. The formulation of this titanium enriched pigmentation creates an opaque white paper that allows for an Integra DST exact match HPL as well as edge banding, 3D laminate, and more.

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November 2, 2011

Royal Launches New Look

Royal Building Products, formerly Royal Group, is launching a new look and feel to complement the company's successful history and to pave the way for future growth. Its updated brand promise – 'Working together to build neighbourhoods of lasting value'is articulated in a customer-focused video that can be viewed on YouTube. A new logo also was designed to retain the legacy of the company's original symbol – the crown – while shifting emphasis from manufacturing to a focus on what its products do to transform neighbourhoods.  It manufactures a broad range of building materials that go on and around the home. This includes siding, trim, accessories, soffit, rain ware, mouldings, deck, fence, rail, window profiles, and patio doors for home remodeling and construction. It also manufactures pipe and fittings for the electrical, municipal, irrigation, plumbing, and industrial construction industries.

Home Hardware Stores Honoured

Three Home Hardware stores have been honoured with '2011 Outstanding Retailer Awards.' The award winners were chosen by a panel of industry experts who analyzed nominations from across Canada in seven separate categories. The Home Hardware stores receiving this year's awards are Jim and Kendall Proudfoot, dealer/owners of Proudfoots Home Hardware Building Centre ‒ Pictou in Nova Scotia is 'Best Building Centre Under 25,000 square feet;' Gary, Glen, and Dean Thulin, dealer/owners of Pioneer Home Hardware Building Centre in Campbell River, BC, is 'Best Building Supply Over 25,000 square feet;' and Steven and Karen Maxwell, dealer/owners of Renfrew Home Hardware Building Centre in Renfrew, ON, is 'Best Community Leader.'

Mobile Coupon Value Growing

The total redemption value of mobile coupons will exceed $43 billion globally by 2016 as coupons are increasingly delivered by mobile apps, says a report from Juniper Research. This is an eightfold increase from $5.4 billion in value to be redeemed this year. The report found that mobile coupons ‒ sitting at the intersection of advertisements, payments, and loyalty schemes ‒ is a key catalyst for the mobile commerce market, especially for bricks-and-mortar retailers and are now appearing as an integral part of almost every new mobile wallet launch. Increasingly innovative targeting techniques are also being used to deliver mobile coupons to users not just based on location, but also with a holistic knowledge of the consumer's lifestyle, work patterns, and real-time activity extending even to social networking and gaming opportunities.

Newell Rubbermaid Has Loss

Newell Rubbermaid had a third-quarter net loss of $177.6 million, compared with net income of $28.3 million in the year-ago period. Net sales for the quarter ended September 30 totaled $1.55 billion, an increase of 5.8 per cent from $1.47 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Net income for the nine months ended September 30 totaled $44.8 million, compared with $217.1 million in the year-ago period. Net sales for the nine-month period increased 3.6 per cent to $4.37 billion, compared with $4.22 billion in the prior year.

Weyerhaeuser Earnings Slip

Weyerhaeuser had net earnings of $157 million for the third quarter, compared with net earnings of $1.12 billion in the same period last year. Third quarter net sales from continuing operations were $1.6 billion, up 6.7 per cent from $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Results from continuing operations of the wood products segment improved by $10 million compared with the second quarter, as reduced log costs were partially offset by slightly lower sales volumes across most product lines.

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November 1, 2011

Home Depot Ranks Highest

Home Depot is ranked highest in the home improvement retail industry in terms of operating margin at 11.3 per cent, says the Financial News Network. Lowe's is next with an operating margin of 9.8 per cent and Lumber Liquidators rounds out the top three with an operating margin of 4.9 per cent.

Whirlpool Sales Increase

Whirlpool Corp. had third-quarter net earnings of $177 million, compared with net earnings of $79 million in the same period last year. Sales in the quarter were $4.6 billion, up two per cent from the $4.5 billion reported in the third quarter of 2010. "During the quarter, we experienced weaker-than-expected global industry demand and elevated material costs," says Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO. "Consumers continue to show strong preference for our unmatched global brand portfolio and new product innovations, and we are beginning to see the benefits from previously announced price increases. However, our results were negatively impacted by recessionary demand levels in developed countries, a slowdown in emerging markets, and high levels of inflation in material costs.

Trex Loss Shrinks

Trex Co. Inc.'s third-quarter loss shrank as it cut expenses and revenue grew because of new products. The company's loss narrowed to $496,000 for the quarter that ended September 30, compared to a loss of $8.8 million during the same period last year. Revenue rose 12.1 per cent to $67.9 million from $60.6 million a year ago.

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