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

News

October 31, 2011

Deal Addicts Emerging

Although many consumers are quite happy paying full price for everything from electronics to apparel, there appears to be an emerging class of shoppers who mostly buy things on discount and this group has little trouble finding them all year around from deal sites such as Groupon, says Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo.com. In the article ‘Could Groupon's Deal Addicts Hurt Retailers This Year?’,he says this group of deal ‘addicts’ buy lots of things through deal sites and they expect deep discounts on what they buy. Furthermore, one of three of those deal site members say they buy most things or almost everything on discount regardless of whether it's from a deal site or not. As a result, retailers may have to discount more than ever to satisfy them.


Home Hardware Wins Healthy Workplace Award

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been awarded Waterloo region’s Healthy Workplace Gold Award. The program recognizes and celebrates workplaces in Waterloo region who demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the health of their employees. In 2011, the company launched its ‘Good For You! Wellness Program’ to promote health and wellness among corporate staff. The program is now an ongoing initiative at Home Hardware Stores Limited. The company’s wellness initiatives also included flu clinics and heart clinics at each of its distribution centres where registered nurses conducted blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes tests.

Home Interiors Sales Site Goes Local

HomeSav.com, a flash sales website focused on luxury home furnishings and décor, is launching HomeSav Local in Toronto, ON. This is the first step in its multi-city initiative. It aims to connect members with home-related goods and services within their cities at the same discounts that contributed to its initial success. It will focus specifically on offers related to the home space, concentrating on niche demand for luxury home décor, furniture, and lifestyle product. In addition to Toronto, it aims to expand to multiple cities throughout North America in the coming months. The current subscriber base is more than 120,000.

Floor Retailer Sales Increases

Lumber Liquidators, the specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, saw its third quarter net sales increase 16.8 per cent to $172 million from $147.2 million in 2010. Comparable store net sales increased three per cent in comparison to a decrease of 5.7 per cent for the third quarter of the prior year. The company has opened 33 new store locations in 2011, including six opened during the third quarter. It now operates 256 stores in 46 states and Canada.

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October 28, 2011

ICSC Launches Social Media App

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has launched a social media app created by Mobile Fridge. The app provides the ability to view the latest ICSC events and trends on any iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with iOS 4.0 or later. This app advises where the next social media event is taking place, educates industry professionals on how their peers are utilizing social media platforms to enhance their business goals, and provides a direct link to the ICSC YouTube channel; Facebook page; Twitter account; LinkedIn profile; Foursquare page, and log.

OGC Adds SpruceWare.NET

OGC has entered into a partnership agreement with software company Spruce Computer Systems for the commercial rights to its SpruceWare.NET product in the Canadian market. Through this agreement, OGC has gained the exclusive rights to sell, implement and support SpruceWare.NET in Canada. This new offering will enhance the company’s product line so that it can better meet the specific needs of its customers in the hardware and building materials industries. The product line will now give customers more choice for business management solutions. 

Pulpwood Markets Help Earnings

Plum Creek Timber Co. posted third-quarter earnings of $50 million, up 56 per cent from $32 million in the third quarter of 2010. Revenues for the period totaled $293 million, up 13 per cent from $259 million in the same period last year. CEO Rick Holley says the company remains healthy and continues to manage its portfolio of timber and land assets for long-term value. Attractive pulpwood markets in most regions also helped earnings.

Paint Sales See Increase

Sherwin-Williams had third quarter net income of $179.88 million, up 2.6 per cent from $175.26 million in the year-ago period. Net sales for the quarter ending September 30 totaled $2.48 billion, up 14.3 per cent from $2.17 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Net sales in the paint stores group increased 10.2 per cent to $1.42 billion in the quarter and 7.8 per cent to $3.65 billion in nine months. The increase was due primarily to selling price increases and improving domestic architectural paint sales volume across most segments. The paint stores group opened 31 new locations, and in July completed the acquisition of Leighs Paints, a UK protective and marine and fire protection coatings manufacturer.

Canadian Home Furnishings Market Celebrates 40 Years

Now in its 40th year, The Canadian Home Furnishings Market (TCHFM) is showcasing innovative style from more than 300 furniture manufacturers and distributors January 14 to 17 at the International Centre in Toronto. Along with the Trends Display (now in its 12th year), show-goers will also be able to view 12 pop-up vignettes that are scattered throughout the market designed by lifestyle expert Janette Ewen. For more information, visit www.tchfm.com

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October 27, 2011

Confidence Dips To Recessionary Levels

Consumer confidence has dipped to levels last reported during the depths of the recession as Canadians grapple with higher everyday costs, record debt, and fears of another major downturn, says the Conference Board of Canada. Its index of consumer confidence fell 3.3 points in October to 71.8. That is its lowest level since May 2009 when the economy began to recover from the depths of the recession. It was the fifth decline in the last six months.

Retail Marketing Key To Competing

The retail outlook for 2011 has seen slow or no retail sales growth, but the competition is stiffer than ever, says the Kubas Primedia’s ‘Major Market Retail Report.’ With U.S. retailers such as Target, Big Lots, J.Crew, Crate & Barrel, and more making their way across the border as well as Canadian retailers continuing to expand their locations, the retail market will face even more growth challenges. The report says marketing will have to play an ever bigger role in retail success as retailers must find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition, whether it be through lower prices, loyalty programs, merchandise selection, or customer service.

Insulation, Roofing Boosts Revenue

Owens Corning’s third-quarter profit more than doubled on a jump in sales. The construction materials company says it posted a profit of $124 million, up from $58 million last year. Revenue rose 22 per cent to $1.45 billion from $1.19 billion in the year-ago period, as sales at the company's insulation and roofing business both rose.

TIM-BR MARTS Appoints CFO

John Steen is chief financial officer at TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. He has held executive roles at UFA Co-operative Limited, Ontario Power Authority, and in South Africa at Teves Group. He will be based out of the company’s Calgary, AB, office.

October 27 Product Spotlight

Napoleon’s Ductless Air Conditioners provide a cost effective alternative to installing central air conditioning. Utilizing zone cooling, it does not require ductwork allowing control over the comfort level by cooling or heating only the room that is being used, thereby keeping operating costs down.
CertainTeed’s CertaCoat IC Ignition Barrier provides fire protection for spray foam insulation. Designed for use with CertaSpray foam, it is a single-component, latex-based coating that enhances the fire-rated performance of CertaSpray open cell foam insulation and delivers superior coverage at 200 square feet per gallon.
• The Benton pulldown kitchen faucet from Moen includes a ‘V’ shape design and features the Reflex system offering smooth operation, easy movement, and secure docking. Users can switch between several water-flow patterns with the touch of a button.
• The Overhead Door Corporation’s Door Report residential garage door remote emits a beep and flashes a green light as a confirmation that the door is closed. If the garage door does not close properly, a warning tone will sound and a red light will flash. It operates on 915 MHz frequencies and communicates with up to three garage door openers via an Overhead Door Network Adapter (sold separately).
Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation continues to expand the M12 LITHIUM-ION system with the introduction of the M12 cordless ¼″ and ⅜″ ratchets. At only 10¾″ long and 1.9 pounds, they provide a fastening solution for automotive mechanics and maintenance-repair professionals desiring performance, portability, and productivity.
GE’s double-oven gas range boasts the largest capacity in the market at 6.7 cubic feet. The two ovens give users flexibility and convenience for entertaining and large meal preparations.
• Gracia by Eijffinger is the latest collection of theKenneth James Brand and features European-styled wallpapers with accents of acrylic beads, luminous metallics, foils, and Mylar. These papers are printed on a high-quality non-woven substrate called Smart Paper for easy application and even easier removal.

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October 26, 2011

Employees Too Stressed to Be Effective

Employees continue to be plagued by stress with two-thirds claiming high stress levels and 29 per cent coming to work too stressed to be effective on five or more days per year, says the ‘StressPulseSM’ survey by ComPsych. This is up from 19 per cent in the same category last year. Workers continue to have sustained, high stress levels ‒ 66 per cent, compared with 68 per cent last year. Respondents said workload remains the top cause of stress, followed by people issues, juggling work/personal life, and lack of job security.

ProBuild Closing Locations

ProBuild will close or consolidate 12 of its locations across the U.S. Most of the closures are expected to take place by November 15. It will exit market in Yorkville and Westmont, IL; Columbia, SC; and South Fork, CO. It plans market consolidations in Granite Falls, Sedro Woolley, Coupeville, Bonney Lake and Moses Lake, WA, and Cherry Hill, NJ. It also plans to have service reductions in Greensboro, NC, and Fredericksburg, VA. For these locations, only its gypsum operations will remain open. The gypsum operation in Lynchburg, VA, will be discontinued, although that location will remain open and continue its lumber operations.

Six New Furniture Superstores

Leon's Furniture Limited is in the midst of opening six new Superstores throughout Canada. In August, the retailer opened a new 76,000 square foot Superstore in Guelph, ON, and in October opened a 42,000 square foot Superstore in Mississauga, ON. In November, the retailer will open an 84,000 square foot Superstore in Regina, SK, and a 47,000 square foot Superstore in Rosemère, QC. Leon's is also welcoming two new franchises in Bathurst, NB, and Drummondville, QC. The retailer says confidence in the future prosperity of these markets was the driving force behind the investments. 

Economic Recovery Slow To Change Consumers’ Minds

U.S. consumer sentiment was down six points from September at 39.8, says the Conference Board. The reading is still well above where the index stood 2½ years ago, at 26.9, but it's not even within shouting distance of 90 which signals that the economy is on solid footing. Economists watch consumer confidence closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity. The index has been recovering since hitting an all-time low of 25.3 in February 2009, but has taken a turn for the worse as Americans worry about stubbornly high unemployment, rising prices for food and clothes, and an overall weak economy.

Building Material And Garden Supplies Sales Down

Retail sales rose 0.5 per cent to $37.8 billion in August, largely offsetting the decline in July, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in six of 11 subsectors, representing 70 per cent of retail sales. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down -0.3 from July but were up 0.5 compared to one year ago. Furniture and home furnishing stores registered a 1.6 per cent gain in August, largely offsetting the decline in July.

Lumber Prices And Housing Starts Limit Demand

West Fraser Timber posted a sharp drop in third-quarter profit, as a weak U.S. housing market and how lumber prices continued to hurt the Canadian lumber and wooden panels maker. Earnings fell to $6 million from $49 million a year ago. Sales fell slightly to $705 million. It attributes the loss to the pulp market weakening amid high global inventories.

Net Income Up From Last Year’s Loss

Masco Corporation’s third-quarter net income was $36 million, compared with a loss of $5 million a year earlier. The building product manufacturer said foreclosures, falling home prices, and limited credit continued to block a housing recovery, but favourable currency exchange helped to swing to a third-quarter profit. Revenue rose three per cent to $2.01 billion. Sales in North America were flat, but international sales rose 12 per cent.

Philips Offers Design Advice With Lighting

Philips Canada is collaborating with HGTV designer Samantha Pynn to show Canadians how to transform any space in their home with lighting. The designer on HGTV’s ‘The Mix’ says the right LED lighting can provide depth to a room and create an inviting atmosphere that enhances furniture, art, fabrics, and wall paint better than traditional lighting. In 2010, Philips created the world’s first LED replacement bulb for the standard 60W incandescent bulb and now offers seven bulb options for track lighting, chandeliers, wall sconces, lamps, and other areas. The bulbs can last up to 23 years or 25,000 hours, saving consumers up to 80 per cent in energy costs compared to traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs.

Five Events Held Over Three Days

Construct Canada,PM Expo, the Design Trends Pavillion, and Concrete Canada events will be held in conjunction with the HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo. Canada’s largest residential trade show and conference for builders, renovators, architects, and contractors will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre November 30 to December 2. More than 1,050 exhibits from suppliers, manufacturers, products, and services will be on hand as well as speakers and presentations on project management, architecture, interior design and more. For information, visit http://homebuilderexpo.ca

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October 25, 2011

HD Supply Ranked Top Technology Innovator

For the third consecutive year, HD Supply has earned a top 200 ranking on the 2011 InformationWeek 500, an annual listing of the U.S.’s most innovative users of business technology. HD Supply was recognized for its comprehensive IT operations management suite. Its technology team avoided more than $1.2 million in licence purchases and eliminated more than $200,000 in annual maintenance cost by developing a comprehensive management suite in-house.  

Lowe’s Launches Online Renovation Tool

Lowe’s has launched MyLowes, a web-based tool to assist consumers in maintaining, managing, and dreaming about their home improvement projects. The application allows customers to track and store their purchase information with an online profile, create room floor plans, list ideas, and access warranties and product manuals.

Scotts Collaborates For Lawn Products

Scotts Miracle-Gro will collaborate with Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI) to research and develop natural plant protection products. The company will have access to MBI's full portfolio of biopesticides for the development of new products for the lawn and garden market. MBI will manufacture and supply any resulting products and Scotts Miracle-Gro will maintain worldwide marketing rights.

Net Sales Up For USG

USG Corp. had a third-quarter net loss of $115 million, compared with a net loss of $100 million in the third quarter of 2010. Net sales for the quarter totaled $792 million, up 4.5 per cent from $758 million in the prior-year period. James Metcalf, its president and CEO, says many of the company’s key markets continue to experience recessionary levels of low demands. For the first nine months of 2011, the building products company had a net loss of $290 million, compared with a net loss of $284 million in the first nine months of 2010. Net sales for the period totaled $2.3 billion, up 4.5 per cent from $2.2 billion in the prior-year period.

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October 24, 2011

Target Aims For Unique Canadian Experience

Target Corp. will strive to make its stores as “Canadian” as possible when it begins opening in this country in 2013, says John Griffith, executive vice-president of property development. In a speech to the International Council of Shopping Centres Canadian convention, he said the mass merchandiser merchant sees Canada as the best opportunity for international growth and hopes to become Canada’s favourite retailer. More than 70 per cent of Canadians are already familiar with the brand and 11 per cent have shopped at the retailer in the last year. The company is spending up to $10 million per store to upgrade the existing locations it is taking over from Zellers.

Retail Theft Costs Industry $41.7 Billion

Shoplifting, employee or supplier fraud, organized retail crime, and administrative errors cost the retail industry $41.7 billion in the United States in 2011, says Checkpoint Systems. Its ‘Global Retail Theft Barometer’ reported $18.4 billion was attributed to employee theft, $14.9 billion to shoplifters, $6.6 billion to internal error, and $1.8 billion to suppliers. Internal shrink appears to be a more significant issue as 697,000 employees were caught in 2011 after having stolen an average of $1,764.76 per incident. The 2011 study also found that while retailers increased their spending on loss prevention and security by 5.6 per cent over 2010 to $28.3 billion globally, loss-prevention equipment's share of total loss-prevention expenditures actually declined slightly.

Group Couponing Helps With Marketing

Group couponing websites can offer retailers brand awareness and exposure that can lead to repeat customers, says Jeremy Zuker, founder of WagJag.com. At a marketing roundtable discussion at the International Council of Shopping Centres Canadian convention, he said deal-based websites such as WagJag.com give businesses access to a huge pool of individuals who may be interested in trying their product or service through the discounted buying system. The opportunity can then help establish a wider and loyal customer base and increase store traffic.

Closing Sales Start At Hart Stores

Hart Stores Inc. has started closing sales in 32 of its 92 stores in Eastern Canada as it restructures its operations under protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. Items in the locations being liquidated will be marked down for immediate sale. Following court approval, liquidation sales directed by Tiger Capital Group, LLC will get underway at the selected Hart, Bargain Giant, and Geant des Aubaines stores, including 12 locations in Quebec, 11 in Newfoundland and Labrador, five in Ontario, two in New Brunswick, and two in Nova Scotia. The stores offer an extensive and differentiated selection of national and exclusive fashion apparel brands, as well as family footwear, home furnishings, electronics, appliances, giftware, toys, and seasonal goods.

Mobile Apps Can Benefit Retailers

As mobile smartphones and tablets increase in popularity, they will continue to change how consumers shop, says Megh Gulta, corporate strategy manager at Torstar Digital. At a marketing roundtable discussion at the International Council of Shopping Centres Canadian convention, he said 40 per cent of the key retail demographic (18 to 44 year olds) use their mobile phones while shopping to search for directions, store information, and look for prices and coupons. Various mobile applications ‒ such as Shopcatch, Olivemedia, Foursquare, and mall-based applications ‒ are valuable marketing opportunities retailers can utilize to provide digital offers and specials and drive brand engagement.

Strong Overall Quarter For Tractor Supply

Strong results in consumable categories, a little inflation, and some Hurricane Irene-related sales fuelled an 11.5 per cent same-store sales increase and a strong overall third-quarter financial performance at Tractor Supply. Net income for the quarter was $42.7 million, up 42.8 per cent from net income of $29.9 million in the third quarter of the prior year. Third-quarter net sales increased 17.9 per cent to $977.8 million from $829.1 million. The company opened 12 new stores during the quarter and it ended the period with 1,054 stores in 44 states.

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October 21, 2011

Santa’s Sack Lighter

Santa is still coming to town this year for Canada’s retailers, but with a lighter sack than last year, says a report from BMO Capital Markets Economics. “While concerns about a global recession, cross-border shopping, and potentially tapped-out consumers may be warranted, Canada’s retailers should still experience an increase in sales this holiday season,” says Sal Guatieri, its senior economist. “Low interest rates, relatively low unemployment, and steadier gasoline and food costs will keep the Grinch away. While household debt remains high, not all households are overstretched.” The report predicts that retail sales receipts, excluding auto and gasoline sales, should increase about 2.5 per cent year-over-year in November/December, “although slower than last holiday season’s increase of 3.1 per cent, that’s better than the downturn-affected years of 2009 and 2008,” he says.  The report states that low interest rates should keep Canada’s economy moving forward.

Retail Fails To Capitalize On Smartphones

More and more consumers are using their smartphones to help them shop and many are walking into retail stores armed with their mobile device. Unfortunately for many retailers, many of these shoppers are walking out of stores carrying no more than they came in with, says a ‘Retrevo Pulse Study.’ It asked shoppers about their experience in the store and how they use their mobiles when they shop. The findings indicate a change will be necessary in the way retailers accommodate these savvy new shoppers. For example, while consumers are enthusiastic about using mobile shopping tools and appear willing to install retailer's apps, only 14 per cent of those who installed them say the app helped them buy something. As well, unfortunately for retailers, all too often their stores are used as showrooms for online merchants as this study found nearly two-thirds of respondents indicate they have looked at a product in a store and then made the purchase online from somewhere else. It concludes as more consumers become smartphone owners, retailers will have to recognize the challenges this group of savvy shoppers represents.

Home Improvement Hampered

A sluggish economy and housing market will continue to hamper home improvement spending well into next year, says the ‘Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA)’ study from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The remodeling market is expected to stay soft with the LIRA pointing to a modest decline in annual homeowner improvement spending over the next several quarters. “Absent a more sustained upturn in the broader housing market, particularly in the sales of existing homes, there’s not much to propel growth in home improvement spending,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program. “Homeowners are continuing to undertake smaller jobs, but are still nervous about larger discretionary projects.”

Snap-on Income Rises

Tool maker Snap-on Inc.’s third-quarter net income rose 46 per cent as sales rose across most segments. Its net income rose 46 per cent to $67.8 million, up from $46.5 million last year. Revenue rose seven per cent to $697.2 million from $653.1 million.

Olson Heads CHBA

A Saskatoon, SK, new home builder is president of the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA), the voice of the Canadian residential construction industry. Ron Olson, general manager of Boychuk Developments, has been a member of the association since 1974. He will serve a 20-month term. Established in 1943, the CHBA has more than 8,000 member firms and represents the majority of new home builders, renovators, land developers, trade contractors, building product suppliers, and other professionals in the Canadian housing sector.

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October 20, 2011

Household Components Increase

The composite leading index was little changed in September for the fourth month in a row, says Statistics Canada. In September, six of the 10 components continued to expand, the same number as in August. The weakness in the index was concentrated in the stock market and the manufacturing sector, largely offsetting the rebound in the housing sector. All of the components related to household demand increased. Housing led the gains with a 1.2 per cent increase, its largest monthly advance since the spring. All three manufacturing components decreased, compared with two the month before.

Ace Honors Vendors

Ace Hardware Corporation recognized seven vendors for their commitment and service to the hardware co-operative, its retailers, and its customers. Winners are WAYNE Water Systems, a manufacturer of residential water handling systems; DeWalt Power Tools, manufacturer of industrial power tools; Kaytee, producers of food for birds and small animals; WJ Dennis, manufacturer of hardware products for professionals and do-it-yourselfers; Arch Chemicals, a biocides company that provides solutions for water treatment, personal care, health, and hygiene; Ace Paint, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation and a manufacturer of residential and commercial paint products. To be considered for an award, vendors must have achieved the highest levels of service and work with Ace by supporting retailers and company initiatives, upholding a strong commitment to excellence and customer service, and being at the forefront of innovation and inventory management.

Housing Starts Up From August

Homebuilders started projects in September at the fastest pace in 17 months, a hopeful sign for the economy, says the U.S. Commerce Department. Single-family home construction, which represents nearly 70 per cent of homes built, rose only slightly, and building permits, a gauge of future construction, fell to a five-month low. Overall, builders began work in September on a seasonally adjusted 658,000 homes. While that's a 15 per cent increase from August, it's roughly half the 1.2 million that economists say is consistent with healthy housing markets.

Wal-Mex Profits Rise

Wal-Mart de Mexico SA saw its third quarter profit rise by 15 per cent, marking the highest increase of the year. The Mexican unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says net income grew to $360 million in the July/September period. Its revenue rose 11 per cent to 91.04 billion pesos ($6.72 million) from 82.29 billion pesos. Walmex has 215 stores in Mexico and 43 in Central America.

Paper-Based Packing Material Has Less Impact

A paper based product manufactured in Canada, Paper Nuts, may revolutionize how goods are packaged and shipped with minimal environmental impact. PaperNuts are an efficient, loose-fill packaging material made from 100 per cent recycled paper, making them fully recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable. Their interlocking configuration ensures they sit tightly against the items in a package and natural expansion during shipping makes sure there is minimal product migration within the package during transit. Plastic foam chips have been the norm for shipping, but their effect on the environment makes them undesirable, while food-based packaging materials can attract animals and break down during shipping.

Richelieu Announces CFO

Antoine Auclair is vice-president and chief financial officer of Richelieu Hardware Ltd. Prior to joining the company, he was vice-president and controller at CAE Inc.


October 20 Product Spotlight

• From the demand for more ergonomic, lightweight drywall solutions comes the introduction of Easi-Lite Interior Ceiling Board from CertainTeed. It is up to 30 per cent lighter than other interior ceiling performance boards and its lightweight design helps installers work more efficiently and effectively. It features a uniform high-strength, sag-resistant gypsum core with 100 per cent recycled face and back paper.
• Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation is expanding its M12 LITHIUM-ION system with the introduction of the M12 Cordless High Performance Jig Saw. It combines the best features from both top handle and barrel grip jig saw designs to provide superior cut control and balance at only 4.1 pounds and 8.75″ long.
• Napoleon’s Hybrid HMF150 combination furnace is a clean-burning wood furnace with an efficiency rating of 88.6 per cent and EPA emissions of 4.7 grams per hour. It switches from wood to oil or electric automatically. If the furnace runs out of wood, a second thermostat controlling the optional oil and/or electric components keep home warms without interruption.
• ReNewShield is a vapour permeable, air, and weather resistive barrier from VaproShield. It is manufactured from 70 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic and allows moisture vapour within the building to escape, ensuring good indoor air quality.
• The Danika collection from Moen Canada features soft, contemporary lines for the kitchen and bath. The high-arc, two-handle kitchen faucet features a pivoting spout and is available in chrome. The single-handed bath faucet can accommodate vessel sink applications.
• Phifer new collections of outdoor furniture fabrics are made from 100 per cent recyclable GeoBella cushion fabrics with the strength and stability for outdoor performance. Microban protection inhibits the growth of stain- and odour-causing bacteria, mould, and mildew.
• DAP Products Inc.’s line of sealants and adhesives ‒ The Spec Line ‒ is targeted at residential building and remodelling professionals and contractors. It is the company’s first complete product line designed for window and siding installations and applications. Products include: interior and exterior latex sealant, polymer sealant, and exterior elastomeric sealant.

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October 19, 2011

Retailing Economy Holding Strong

Amidst the perceived economic uncertainty, the Canadian retail economy's third quarter was its strongest to date in 2011, says Moneris Solutions. The ‘Moneris Spending Report’ showed an overall increase of 4.9 per cent in spending compared to the same period last year. Regionally, with a nine per cent increase in dollars spent, Saskatchewan led the way in spending across Canada. Newfoundland came in at a close second, with an 8.7 per cent increase, while Manitoba also saw attractive growth, increasing its spending by 7.8 per cent. British Columbia and Ontario, however, experienced the slowest growth in Canada, with increases in spending of 3.7 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively.

$800 Million Loss for Quebec Retail

In 2010-2011, Quebec's retail sector registered annual economic losses of nearly $800 million, says a survey by the Retail Council of Québec (CQCD). Shoplifting accounts for 38 per cent of losses incurred, while 36 per cent are attributable to theft and fraud by employees. Consumer fraud constitutes eight per cent of all losses and administrative errors and suppliers frauds or errors represent 15 per cent. Among those retailers (59 per cent) that offer their customers the opportunity to purchase goods through their Internet site, 77 per cent were victims of credit card fraud and six per cent experienced other types of fraud.

Beacon Purchases Roofing Distributor

Beacon Roofing Supply has acquired The Roofing Connection, a distributor of residential roofing products and related accessories with one location in the Halifax suburb of Dartmouth, NS. The company will be operated as part of Beacon Roofing Supply Canada Co. Co-founders Cheryl and Pat O'Brien said joining with the Massachusetts-based company will allow the distributor to expand product offerings and grow throughout the province.

Non-Residential Building Declines

Investment in non-residential building construction decreased 1.3 per cent to $11.1 billion in the third quarter, following six consecutive quarters of growth, says Statistics Canada. This decline was largely driven by a continuing downward trend in investment in institutional building construction. Among the seven provinces that posted declines, Alberta and Ontario recorded the largest decreases. The largest increases occurred in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, led by higher industrial investment in both provinces.

Remodelling Reaches Record Levels

More than 3.3 million U.S. residential remodelling projects will be permitted in 2011, says BuildFax, up from the estimated 3.1 million residential remodelling projects that were permitted in 2010, an almost 9.5 per cent increase. The ‘BuildFax Remodelling Index’ shows August 2011 was the month with the highest level of remodelling activity since the index was introduced in 2004, and represented the 22nd consecutive month of increases. The index rose 29 per cent year-over-year to 138.6 (meaning that 38.6 per cent more remodelling jobs were permitted nationally in August 2011 than in April 2004, the first month the index tracked numbers). Residential remodels in August were up month-over-month more than eight points (6.3 per cent) from the July value of 130.4, and up year-over-year 31.2 points (29 per cent) from the August 2010 value of 107.4.

U.S. Retail Sales Beat Forecasts

U.S. retail sales in September grew at their fastest pace in six months, beating forecasts and rising 1.1 per cent, says the Commerce Department. Sales rose 0.6 per cent, also better than expected. Sales for August, which were originally reported as unchanged, were revised up to a 0.3 per cent increase. Sales of home furnishings were strong, up 1.1 per cent.

Emerging Market Growth Offsets European Declines

Stanley Black & Decker Inc.’s third-quarter net income jumped 26 per cent thanks to strong revenue growth in emerging markets and successful new product launches. For the quarter ended in September, net income rose to $155.3 million from $123.1 million. Sales rose 11 per cent to $2.64 billion from $2.37 billion, better than the average analyst estimate of $2.58 billion. The company said acquisitions contributed four per cent to that growth while existing businesses added four per cent and currency exchange added another three per cent. Strong growth in emerging markets more than offset low single-digit declines in Europe.

Overseas Sales Boost Income

WD-40 Co.’s fourth-quarter net income jumped 48 per cent as overseas sales of its flagship lubricants rose sharply. The company earned $10.2 million during the quarter, up from net income of $6.9 million last year. Revenue rose 12.5 per cent to $90.7 million, from $80.7 million a year earlier. Revenue for its main products ‒ WD-40, 3-In-One, and Blue Works ‒ were up 16 per cent to $74.1 million. That included a two per cent rise in sales in the Americas to $46.4 million. Europe sales rose 26 per cent to $34.7 million and Asia-Pacific sales rose 25 per cent to $9.6 million.

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October 18, 2011

Lowe’s Shuts 20 Stores

Home improvement retailer Lowe's will close 20 underperforming stores in 15 U.S. states, cutting 1,950 jobs. Ten locations were closed immediately and the other 10 will close in a month in a move that the retailer says will allow it to focus on more profitable locations. Before the closures Lowe's operated 1,725 stores. The North Carolina-based company says it will only open 10 to 15 stores in North America annually beginning in 2012. Previously the company expected to open 30 stores per year. It will open 25 stores this year.

HST Transition Problematic

The B.C. government's planned 18-month transition process to replace the HST threatens the potential creation of more than 2,000 residential housing units, says the Urban Development Institute. Don Forsgren, its president, says thousands of residential building units are already on hold, with more expected, prompting the industry to lobby the Liberal government to implement a transition strategy to minimize the HST's impact on new home purchases. The UDI is lobbying the provincial government to grant the building industry three HST changes to ease the transition back to the old tax system. The industry wants the province to exempt the seven per cent provincial sales tax from pre-sale home purchases that close in March 2013, as the current situation with the HST being replaced by the former GST/PST system creates uncertainty for consumers and builders who need to know the price of the home.

Innovation Means Positive Business Results

To 2.4 million of Canada’s small business owners, innovation is less about disrupting markets and more about changes that generate the greatest impact for their livelihood, says Intuit Inc. Its Canada-wide survey revealed 97 per cent of small business owners see innovation as a key to success, but not about massive change. Rather, it's the innovations that impact business, which respondents defined as new or different strategies, processes, or practices enacted for positive business results.

Resales Increase In September

 National resale housing activity rose 2.7 per cent in September from August, says The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). National sales activity rose 2.7 per cent in September when compared to August, and follows three months of stable activity. September's increase reflects strengthened activity in a number of major markets, led by Toronto. The monthly increase pushed national sales to their highest level since recently tightened mortgage regulations dampened sales earlier this year. A total of 361,749 homes have traded hands via Canadian MLS Systems to date this year. This is 1.2 per cent above levels for the same period in 2010 and in line with the 10-year average.

Owners Unprepared For Succession

Canadian small business owners haven't fully prepared for the day when they will no longer be running their business, says the TD Waterhouse Business Succession Poll. Seventy-six per cent of small business owners admitted they don't have a succession plan, which may cause major complications down the line. According to those surveyed, the top reasons they don't have a succession plan for their business include that they are still trying to figure out what their plan will be (45 per cent) and that they just haven't gotten around to it yet (31 per cent). Respondents were fairly divided in their intentions for their business when they retire, with 23 per cent planning to close it, 20 per cent planning to sell their business to a third party, and 18 per cent planning on transferring to a family member. Over one quarter (27 per cent) were unsure about what they will do when it comes time to retire.

IKEA Ottawa Expands

Swedish retailer IKEA will open its largest Canadian store in December with the expansion of its Ottawa location. The 398,000-square-foot store is expected to include high efficiency heating and cooling systems, water-saving plumbing and skylights to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Saniflo Launches World Toilet Day Contest

Saniflo Canada has launched its first Facebook contest, ‘Making the World a Better Place – One Toilet at a Time’ for World Toilet Day November 19. One winner will receive a Saniflo toilet system including up to $1,000 for installation. Consumers must upload a photo of their unusable bathroom to the company’s Facebook page and the photo with the most ‘likes’ by November 21 will be transformed into a washroom.


IKO Shuffles Managers

Malcolm Orr is national accounts manager for IKO’s Canadian residential sales group. He was previously sales manager for Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Colin Rancier is sales manager – one step distribution for Western Canada. He was formerly national accounts manager (Western Canada). Vince Carrier is sales manager – one step distribution for Western Canada. Previously, he had been a sales representative in British Columbia. Vincent Chicoine is sales manager for its Quebec operations. He had beensales supervisor for Montreal, QC.

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October 17, 2011

Quebecers Bleak About Province’s Finances

Quebec consumers are more optimistic about their personal finances than about Quebec's situation, however, they plan to spend less than they did last year, says the Retail Council of Quebec. The survey reveals that 81 per cent of Quebec households see their financial situation as having improved or remained stable in the last six months, the same proportion as last year at this time. Only 19 per cent of respondents reported a deterioration of their financial situation in the last six months. Among the reasons given, the increase in the cost of living was mentioned by nearly two-thirds of the respondents (64 per cent), a jump of 12 points over 2010 and more than 23 points over 2009. A significant proportion (84 per cent) expect their financial situation to improve or remain stable in the next six months. However, they are much more worried about Quebec's financial future than they were in 2010 with 10 per cent believing the province’s financial situation will improve in the next six months, a decline of 11 points compared with 2010.

U.S. Consumer Spending Stepping Up

U.S. consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy, spending more on autos, clothing, and furniture to boost retail sales 1.1 per cent, says the Commerce Department. It was the largest gain in seven months. Department stores sales increased 1.1 per cent, a big turnaround from August when sales had fallen 0.5 per cent. A larger category of general merchandise stores, which includes big-chain retailers including Wal-Mart and Target, showed a 0.7 per cent rise, and furniture stores showed 1.1 per cent in sales increases. At hardware stores, sales edged down a slight 0.1 per cent. Stronger spending could help alleviate concerns that the economy is at risk of a recession. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity.

Windows And Doors Will Reach $192 Billion

Global demand for windows and doors is forecast to rise 6.8 per cent per year through 2015 to $192 billion, significantly exceeding the pace of growth registered between 2005 and 2010.  The Freedonia Group’s ‘World Windows & Doors’ study says demand in the residential building construction market will outpace demand in the non-residential market as in most developed countries the residential market was far more adversely impacted by the recession in 2009 and 2010.  Through 2015, demand for energy-efficient windows and doors will rise faster than the overall market because of increasing consumer awareness and government support in the form of tax credits. China, the world’s largest national window and door market, will expand its share of global demand from 27 per cent in 2010 to 30 per cent in 2015, while the U.S. will post a strong recovery and expand 7.7 per cent. 

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October 14, 2011

Sears Embraces Technology

Sears Holdings Corp. is putting Apple iPads and iPod Touch devices in the hands of sales associates at almost 450 Sears and Kmart stores in the U.S. The devices will let them search inventory and help customers order products online. The retailer will also offer free Wi-Fi service for customers, as more shoppers are using smartphones to research products and prices in the aisles of stores. The handheld devices will not yet allow shoppers to pay for items picked up in the store using credit cards, but that's something the company is studying.

Retail Holiday Season Looks Challenging

Canadian retailers should brace themselves for a challenging holiday season, as consumers are expected to be more wary with spending while they pledge to pay down historically high debt levels, says Colliers International's ‘2011 Fall Retail Forecast.’ December's retail sales (excluding automotive) are expected to reach $32.7 billion, a moderate 3.9 per cent increase compared to last year's $31.5 billion spent by Canadian households. On a regional breakdown, not all provinces are expected to perform the same. Spurred by strong local economic growth, Saskatchewan, PEI, and Alberta are expected to lead the pack in December with sales growth rates of 7.6 per cent, 4.9 per cent, and 4.6 per cent respectively. At the other end, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Quebec are expected to see a nominal drop in year-over-year consumer spending and a soft holiday season.

Challenging Times Coming For Canadian Business

Canadian businesses of all sizes are likely to face challenging conditions in the months ahead, says Scotia Economics. Domestic prospects are being constrained by the much slower and uneven pace of economic growth in most advanced nations, amid increasing fiscal restraint and persistently high unemployment. A report says the current environment favours firms whose products and services are geared to corporate customers over those that rely primarily on households. While businesses may become more conservative in new hiring and investment in the months ahead, corporate balance sheet strength provides considerable flexibility to maintain current expenditures. Small businesses also will continue to benefit from the ongoing buoyancy in resource-related activity.

Consumer Confidence Continues To Slide

Canadians' confidence in the economy continued its downward slide from last month, and has now dropped for four consecutive months, from its recent high in June of 100.3, to 95.2 in October, says TNS Canada. The ‘Present Situation Index’ says on-going stock market turmoil, bad economic news from the U.S., and the unresolved debt crisis in Europe are all combining to keep consumers jittery. It has gone down two months in a row, dropping again from 96.4 in September to 95.2 (and from 99 in August).

Sales Grow In Three Of Five Markets

Universal Forest Products, Inc. results posted net earnings of $5.6 million in the third quarter of 2011, up from $2.6 million in 2010. Net sales of $468.9 million in the quarter were down 2.4 per cent from net sales of $480.6 million for the same period of last year. The company grew sales in three of its five markets: commercial construction and concrete forming, industrial, and manufactured housing. The residential construction and retail building materials markets continue to be soft and saw sales decline in the third quarter of 2011 compared to a year ago.  

Fastenal Growth Plans Slower, But Steady

Fastenal Co. had sales and earnings gains both in excess of 20 per cent in the third quarter ending September 30. The company's net sales increased 20.4 per cent to $726.7 million, while net earnings increased 29.1 per cent to $96.8 million. The distributor and retailer of specialty building products and fasteners slowed down its aggressive store growth plans. However, it still opened 94 stores in the first three quarters. Meanwhile, the company's vending machine initiative, where Fastenal machines are placed in factory locations to distribute key products to workers, continues to grow rapidly.

Acquisitions And Prices Increase Revenue

Zep Inc.’s fiscal fourth quarter net income rose 93 per cent, helped by higher revenue from acquisitions and price increases and the fact that year-ago results include restructuring charges. Revenue rose eight per cent to $173.8 million from $161.4 million last year, helped by acquisitions and price increases. For the fiscal year, its net income rose 29 per cent to $17.4 million from $13.5 million in 2010. Revenue rose 14 per cent to $646 million from $568.5 million.

Cathelle Expands Atlantic Sales Team

Robert Burke has joined Cathelle Inc.’s Atlantic Canada sales team. His sales responsibility will expand the vendor’s direct electrical programs and services in Nova Scotia.

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October 13, 2011

Wal-Mart Working Out Of Slump

Wal-Mart's effort to reverse a two-year sales slump at its U.S. namesake business is beginning to work. The retailer has had three consecutive months of gains in revenue at stores opened at least a year, a critical yardstick in measuring a retailer's health, the company says. Wal-Mart had been aiming to reverse nine straight quarters of declines in revenue at stores open at least a year by the end of this year, but it's too early to tell if it will report a sales gain in the current quarter. The weak U.S. job market and other economic woes have hurt its business, straining its core low-income shoppers.

Own Your Own Colour

Dulux is offering you a chance to ‘Own A Colour’ and raise money for the children's charity UNICEF. It says the average computer, smartphone, and tablet can display 16.7 million colours and it wants to name each and every one of these colours to raise money for the charity. Simply visit http://www.ownacolour.com/ and explain why the colour is special to you and then make a minimum donation of $2. As well, Dulux encourages you to use your social networks to help spread the word. Dulux ‘Let's Colour’ has a mission of 'Adding Colour to People's Lives' and is closely aligned to the vision of Own a Colour. Through that program, it has helped to improve the living environment of people around the world.

Royal Adds To Team

Adrien Pilon is general manager of distribution for its building products division at Royal Group. Previously, he was vice-president and general manager with Emco Corporation. Peter Orebaugh is business director of outdoor products. He was previously divisional vice-president of operations – fabricated products, and president of outdoor technologies with Jancor, a manufacturer of vinyl fence, deck and railing products. Doug Kissick is marketing director for building products and outdoor products. He has served in senior marketing roles at Owens Corning, BPB Gypsum (Saint Gobain), and USG.

Celebrities Coming To Home Show

A celebrity line-up of home decor experts and home improvement stars will be participating in the 26th annual International Home Show October 27 to 30 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON.  Karl Lohnes, a decor expert featured on CTV Canada AM, METRO, and CHUM FM will present fall 2011 colours, while Jane Lockhart, host of W Network's Colour Confidential, will share how to incorporate pattern and texture in the home. For more information visit http://www.internationalhomeshow.ca

October 13 Product Spotlight

• CertainTeed’s Apollo Solar Roofing System features highly integrated photovoltaic (PV) panels into the roofing system. Apollo is lightweight, durable, resistant to wind uplift, and can easily be integrated into either an existing roof or with the installation of a new roof that combines solar panels and asphalt shingles. Each module features 14 high-efficiency polycrystalline silicon solar cells that absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.
• Made with a blend of synthetic filaments, Wooster Little Genius brushes provide a smooth, even finish with both water- and oil-based paints. The soft tips are perfect for taking on hobbies, crafts, and other small painting projects, and for dusting surfaces such as computer keyboards, picture frames, cold air returns, car dashboards, and more. The filament blend is also firm enough to easily clear away thick sawdust from a workbench.
• Annie Sloan Chalk Paint from England is now available for purchase in Canada and the U.S. It is nicknamed the ‘girl’s paint’ because little or no prep is required. It is low VOC and quick drying and comes in 28 colours.
• Duchesne provides a scalable, flexible, and versatile nail storage system with the D box. The five storage models allow for multiple configurations, either hung on a wall or stacked, or carried around to organize nails of various sizes.
• Boomerang Recycled Paint from Laurentide Inc. is made from 84 per cent unused latex or oil based paints. Each batch is separated by colour and tinted to 27 standard shades in the Boomerang line. The paints are low VOC and can be used for interior or outdoor projects on wood surfaces, drywall, and more.

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October 12, 2011

Consumers Want Deals

An uncertain economy, low consumer confidence, suppressed home sales, and an increase in consumers deferring their home improvement purchases may make for a shaky future for the home improvement industry. However, The NPD Group, Inc. says while there is hope for growth in the near future, it lies in the hands of manufacturers and retailers. "In order to grow their share in the home improvement environment, manufacturers, and retailers need to look toward innovation, and the basics of effective and efficient merchandising to uncover the opportunities, including deploying the promotional deals consumers want,” says Kevin Gilbert, director at NPD. Its ‘Consumer Tracking Service’ for August shows nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of consumers strongly agree that coupons and special deals are the deciding factors when it comes to purchasing home improvement products; a number that has increased over the past year. While overall sales of home improvement products are still showing declines year over year, there is subtle growth emerging in some categories. Despite the uneven economic recovery, lighting and electrical category, fans, hand tools, and lawn and garden products are all heading in a positive direction.

Manufacturers Can Meet Buyer

In an effort to add new, Canadian-made products to its stores, Home Depot Canada will hold a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event November 24 in Kanata, ON. Small and medium-sized Ontario and Quebec-based manufacturers with innovative home improvement products or technologies are invited to apply. There will be no charge to the vendor, who can pitch their product to a buyer from Home Depot and also showcase their item in a tradeshow-style event attended by members of Home Depot’s merchandising team. Manufacturers can begin the application by visiting Home Depot Canada’s Innovation for Sustainability (IfS), a partnership between Home Depot, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the Quebec Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, and The Summerhill Group. Applications will be accepted online until October 31. Manufacturers with promising products will earn a defined trial period with the Home Depot Canada in select stores.

Home Comfort Makes Sense

Adding home comfort products to its existing line makes perfect sense, saysWolfgang Schroeter, president of Wolf Steel Ltd. Speaking at the event to announce the expansion of its production facilities in the Barrie, ON, area, he said adding heating and cooling systems to its range of Napoleon products such as barbecues and fireplaces strengthen the company. It will build a 300,000 square foot logistics centre starting this spring.


Holiday Sales Expectd To Be Lower Than Last Year

Sales for the holiday shopping period are expected to rise 2.8 per cent to $465.6 billion, says the National Retail Federation. That would be smaller than the 5.2 per cent increase during last year's winter holidays, but slightly higher than the average increase of 2.6 per cent for November and December over the past 10 years. Retailers will likely have to offer a smorgasbord of deals in order to get Americans to buy, as shoppers for the most part are sticking to the frugal shopping habits they adopted during the Great Recession.

Shopping Experience Improved

Bemz (www.bemz.com), the company that gained a reputation for custom-made covers for IKEA furniture, has launched a website with an even greater focus on inspiration and an improved shopping experience.  The website also adds new textile products for the rest of the home including the bedroom. The custom made textile products for the bedroom allow Bemz to take the concept of personal design a step further into the home.

Trex Adding Pergolas

Trex Company has entered into a licencing agreement with Manassas, Va.-based Backyard America to develop and market Trex Pergola kits manufactured of durable and low-maintenance cellular PVC TrexTrim. The kits will be available in a variety of sizes and designs to complement any residential or commercial outdoor space. They will be available in a wide range of styles and options that provide ultimate design flexibility for homes and commercial buildings.  Each kit will include all the pre-cut components and hardware necessary to install a complete pergola.  Kits are available in approximately 25 different standard sizes or may be ordered in custom sizes and shapes. 

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October 11, 2011

American Shoppers Hungry For Deals

September offered the latest sign that Americans will shop, but only when they think they're getting a deal, says the International Council of Shopping Centers. Revenue rose 5.5 per cent in September, with several retailers including Target, Limited Brands, and Kohl's posting strong gains as consumers snagged discounted merchandise. The revenue increases leave uncertainty about whether retailers will have to offer more bargains to lure consumers to buy during the winter holiday shopping season. Retailers can make up to 40 per cent of their revenue during the period, which runs from November through December.

Consumers Worry About Jobs

While the news has been dominated by the European debt crisis, worries about jobs are what weighs most on U.S. consumer sentiment, says the RBC ‘Consumer Outlook Index.’ Amid concerns about job security, consumer confidence remained nearly flat for October, the third consecutive month with little change. The index dipped to 39.2, down one point from last month. Consumer confidence is below the level of a year ago (41) and also below the average level during the recession (40.2). Although global economic issues may not be leading consumer sentiment, most Americans (59 per cent) are following developments in the European financial crisis. More than one-third of Americans overall (36 per cent) say that the crisis has dampened their confidence in the U.S. economy.

Grocery, Beauty, Clothing Boost Revenues

Sales of groceries, beauty products, and clothing helped fuel a 5.3 per cent September rise in revenue at Target Corporation stores open at least a year. The discount retailer says shoppers spent more at Target and more browsers were converted into buyers during the month. Target has been expanding its low-price and fresh grocery products and groceries were one of the biggest sellers during the month. Beauty products and clothing were also strong sellers. The retailer says total revenue during the five weeks ended October 1 rose 6.5 per cent to $5.92 billion from $5.56 billion last year.

RONA Refurbishes Community Rink

RONA has unveiled the newly refurbished Whitehorn Community Association rink in Calgary, AB. The Calgary Flames Foundation for Life charity, the NHLPA, and Calgary Flames Jay Bouwmeester and David Moss were on hand along with Luc Rodier, RONA’s vice-president of retail, western Canada. The joint restoration of the outdoor rink and its facilities are part of the retailer’s initiatives to promote physical activity among Canadian youth. Three nearby schools use the ice throughout the year as part of their physical education classes.

Home Depot Names Executive Vice-president

Teresa Wynn Roseborough is executive vice-president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at The Home Depot. She will join the company's senior leadership team and will be responsible for leading the legal department, as well as its government relations and corporate security services functions. She joins the retailer from MetLife, where she most recently served as deputy general counsel.

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October 7, 2011

Value Of Permits Drops

Municipalities issued building permits worth $5.9 billion in August, down 10.4 per cent from July and the second consecutive monthly decline, says Statistics Canada. The value of permits fell in both the residential and non-residential sectors, mainly in Ontario. Declines in the value of permits in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia more than offset increases in the six other provinces. In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 16.6 per cent to $2.3 billion, a second consecutive monthly decrease. In the residential sector, the value of permits decreased six per cent to $3.6 billion after three consecutive monthly increases. The largest declines occurred in Ontario and Quebec, particularly in construction intentions for multiple-family dwelling permits in Ontario.

Technology Transforming Consumer/Retailer Interaction

Tablets and smartphones are redefining the retail shopping experience and will be a $5 billion market per year by 2015, says IHL Group. The ‘Mobility: A Gutenberg Moment for Retail, A Threat to POS’ study says the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire have created price points and form factors for mobile devices that are finally allowing retailers to arm their associates with tools that will transform the instore experience. By 2015, more than 2.7 million tablets a year will be shipped for use in the North American retail and hospitality industries, an increase of 450 per cent. Store personnel will be able to greet shoppers with their device, access purchase history, and even walk around as a personal shopper all from the same device.

Appliance Manufacturer Partners With Glassware Company

Miele (Canada) Limited has entered into a strategic global partnership with Riedel glassware. Riedel will exclusively recommend the German manufacturer’s dishwashers as the optimal appliances to ensure the longevity of its crystal stemware. Independent laboratory testing showed Riedel glasses have an estimated lifespan of 1,500 washing cycles when washed properly in a Miele dishwasher, the statistical equivalent of the average number of washes during a 20-year timeframe. The alliance will be implemented through both brands’ corporate headquarters, national and regional websites, showrooms, consumer tastings, and promotions.

CertainTeed Offers Ceiling Product EPDs

CertainTeed Corporation is issuing the industry’s first series of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for ceilings solutions, enabling architects and designers to make the most informed decisions when selecting products for their customers. Providing simple scientific information about environmental performance, an EPD offers third-party verification confirming the true sustainability of a product. The company partnered with The Green Standard to develop four EPDs covering 19 product families and evaluating on critical environmental issues such as production process impact, usage of raw materials and recycled content, packaging, health aspects, and end of life impact. EPDs provide a tool in understanding the likely environmental performance of a building.

Construction, DIY Generate Most Tool Sales

Despite the economic doldrums that have decimated the ranks of construction workers, Stanley Black & Decker says it is growing. Kyle Dancho, president of hand tools and fastening, says of the company’s $8.4 billion in sales spread across three divisions, more than half is generated by the construction and DIY segment. Currently, the division has 55 per cent of its sales in the United States. The company is moving toward a 40/60 split, with 60 per cent of its sales outside the United States.

Delayed Building Season Affects Deck Sales

Composite deck maker Trex had net sales for the second quarter of $78.4 million, compared with net sales of $115.5 million for 2010. Net income was $2.1 million, compared with $4.8 million a year ago. The severe winter storms that impacted many parts of the U.S. through April were followed by heavier-than-normal precipitation during most of May, delaying the start of the deck-building season and negatively affecting sales.

Hardware Sales Expected To Improve

In comparing current sales levels with year-ago levels, 57 per cent of hardware manufacturers said sales were higher in September, up from 55 per cent in August, says the American Hardware Manufacturers Association. For September, 21 per cent reported sales were even and 21 per cent said sales were below year-ago levels. Looking forward six months, half of September respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, up from 48 per cent in August. In September, 46 per cent of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months and four per cent expect sales to be below current levels.

Bosch Supports Solar Decathlon

The University of Maryland team was named overall winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. Held in Washington, D.C., the annual competition brought together 19 university-led teams from across the U.S., Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zealand in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient house. Maryland’s ‘WaterShed’ design demonstrated the best blend of affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence, providing optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. As a supporting-level sponsor, Bosch provided an in-kind donation of a variety of energy-efficient products.

IRLY Mourns Passing Of Larsen

With great sadness, the teams at IRLY Distributors and the IRLY Building Centres mourn the recent passing of Don Larsen. Larsen was the manager of Central Builders IRLY in Courtenay, BC, for 19 years. He also served on IRLY’s board of directors and was president of the board for a number of years. He will be remembered for his honour and integrity, and his devotion to his community.

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October 6, 2011

New Development Opportunities To Grow

Shifting output and job growth to western Canadian markets will continue and real estate investment opportunities, particularly for new development, are likewise shifting west, says LaSalle Investment Management. In addition, it contends that forecast rises in the value of the Canadian dollar will boost import volumes, which will maintain warehouse demand in Canada’s largest warehousing markets of Toronto, ON, and Montreal, QC. Chris Langstaff , Canadian head of research and strategy, says, “Although Canada’s economy ‒ and by extension its real estate market ‒ survived the Great Recession of 2008/2009 remarkably well compared to many other nations, the recession was less benign for Canada’s trade sector.”  Export volumes dropped significantly enough to push Canada into a trade deficit in 2009 for the first time since 1976. Though the trade deficit has continued into 2011, a trade surplus is forecast to emerge later this year and successively strengthen over the next four years, hitting $45 billion by 2014, thus returning Canada’s trade surplus to pre-recession levels of 2008. Import volumes are also forecast to grow over the next five years, particularly for machinery and equipment and consumer goods. Most importantly, an expected shift to energy and natural resources as a greater proportion of Canada exports relative to manufacturing will have implications for the attractiveness of major real estate markets in the country.  Specifically, growing demand for commodities and energy from Asian economies will positively impact the real estate fundamentals and investment prospects for industrial and office properties in the western markets of Vancouver, BC; and Calgary and Edmonton, AB.

Alberta Business Owners Still Most Optimistic

After tumbling sharply downward in August, small business confidence in Canada held its own in September with an index of 62.7, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Barometer. This reading is up a point from its August level, but still well below the near-70 mark for most of early 2011. Once again, business owners in Alberta show the highest level of optimism, with an index level of 74.4. Those in Saskatchewan (71.9) are not far behind, while businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador (67.4), Manitoba (65.5). and British Columbia (63.7) round out the regions above the national average. The least optimistic business owners are in Ontario and Quebec, with their index levels falling below the 60-mark to 58.6, suggesting larger-than-average concerns over near-term prospects for the U.S. economy.

Businesses Unprotected From Social Media Risk

Canadian businesses and workers are among the world's leaders in social media use, however the vast majority of Canadian businesses are way behind in protecting their organizations against social media risks, says security firm Websense Inc. A survey of global IT security practitioners found 70 per cent of respondents believe that employee use of social media puts their organization's security at risk, while 31 per cent of the respondents say their companies have the security controls to mitigate risks posed by social media use. As much as 51 per cent of respondents say viruses and malware infections are increasing as a result of social media use and 36 per cent of companies do not have a policy on acceptable uses of social media in the workplace.

Prefabricated Buildings Will Exceed $15 Billion

Non-residential prefabricated building system demand in the U.S. is expected to increase 7.8 per cent annually to $15.2 billion in 2015, says The Freedonia Group. The ‘Non-residential Prefabricated Building Systems’ study says metal building systems ‒ including components ‒ have long been the largest segment of the U.S. non-residential prefabricated building system industry and will remain so for the foreseeable future.  Among non-metal building systems, the modular building system segment is expected to see the strongest gains, benefiting from robust growth in both commercial and institutional construction activity, as well as from the growing popularity of prefabricated bathroom and kitchen modules. 

Keys Copied Without Employee

Replacing trained employees with machines may be part of retail’s future. MinuteKey Inc. is now deploying its automated key-copying vending machine. The U.S. firm has attracted $10.6 million in private equity funding so far, and has placed 100 MinuteKey machines in 15 states, mostly in big-box stores. Lowe’s and Walmart are among the retailers hosting the units that make house and office key. Revenues are shared with the retailers.

Household Debt Reaches Record Level

Canadian policy makers may need to consider additional measures to slow the country’s housing market if households continue to take on more debt, says the International Monetary Fund. The says Canada’s labour and housing markets have performed “relatively well” and credit growth remains strong as the economy benefits from low interest rates and a profitable banking sector. Mortgage rules were tightened earlier this year as households took advantage of historically low interest rates to take on mortgage debt. Household debt as a share of personal disposable income rose to a record 150.8 per cent at the end of June from 149.5 per cent in the previous quarter, according to Statistics Canada data.

Dryer More Costly To Run

Insights into how manufacturers and consumers can minimize energy waste in laundering have been released by a Cadmus Group study. The report, ‘Do the Savings Come Out in the Wash? A Large Scale Study of Residential Laundry Systems,’ found that the energy use of the washer is not the issue. The majority of the energy consumed and the potential savings arise in reducing operation of the clothes dryer. The study found setting washing machines at a higher cycle spin to remove excess moisture would reduce the time needed in the more energy-intensive dryer.

Wholesaler Raises Member Fees 

Costco Wholesale Corp. is raising its membership fees 10 per cent as the wholesale club operator tries to keep its prices on products low to keep drawing value-focused shoppers. The wholesaler has hesitated to raise its prices for fear of losing its appeal with consumers, but that made it less profitable in its fiscal fourth quarter. Its operating margin shrank to 2.7 per cent from 2.9 per cent as it dealt with higher merchandise and overhead costs.

Crate & Barrel Opens In Edmonton

The fourth Canadian Crate & Barrel store is now open in Edmonton, AB. The U.S.-based home goods retailer opened its first Canadian location in Toronto, ON, three years ago, while its first Alberta store opened in Calgary two years ago. A third store in Mississauga, ON, opened last October. The success of the first Alberta store granted the retailer the capability to open another 17,000 square foot location in the province.

Target Canada Loses Executive

Michael Francis is president of J.C. Penny Co. after leaving his Canadian executive position with Target Corporation. Target says his departure would have no impact on its Canadian expansion plans for 2013.The retailer now has a Canadian executive team in place, headed by the president of Target Canada, Tony Fisher, a long-time executive with the retailer.

Show Announces 2012 Dates

TheKitchen & Bath Industry Show will host its annual tradeshow and conference April 24 to 26, 2012, at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. It brings together nearly 20,000 industry dealers, designers, builders, remodelers, retailers, and other professionals directly involved in the design and remodel of residential kitchens and bathrooms. Candice Olson is confirmed as the 2012 opening keynote speaker. For more information, visit http://www.kbis.com/

October 6 Product Spotlight

• HomeRight's CommandMax is a hand-held sprayer that provides a professional-grade finish without brush marks and paints in a fraction of the time that it would take to paint or stain a project by hand. The high volume/low pressure technology uses a high volume of air at a low pressure to apply paint.
• The Danika collection from Moen Canada features soft, contemporary lines, and a sleek Chrome finish. In the kitchen, its high-arc design provides easy access to the sink and the two-handle faucet also features a pivoting spout. In the bath, the single-handle design has been certified to meet WaterSense criteria, reducing water usage by up to 32 per cent.
• DuROCK’s TIOCOAT is a white reflective roof coating which offers enhanced energy efficiency performance for flat roofs. The elastomeric coating protects and extends the life of new and existing roof systems by reflecting over 89 per cent of the sun's harmful UV rays. It is LEED Approved and ENERGY STAR accredited.
• Distinctions is Black & Decker’s premium appliance line exclusively available at Wal-Mart. It features the Infrared Countertop Oven with Rotisserie, SkilLite Searing Skillet, and Smart Kitchen Digital Rice Cooker.
• Milwaukee Electric Tool introduces the M-Spector 360 diagnostic camera with the industry’s first rotating screen for fluid image control. An optimized 2.7″ LCD display delivers a crisp, clear picture, and a 9mm 640x480 digital probe and an enhanced cable provide improved durability and pipe manoeuvrability in even the tightest spaces, while four surround LED lights offer superior brightness without shadow or glare.
• Dominson's modular couches can be configured to provide growth and transformation in home spaces of varying sizes, and can create comfortable living environments in corners and tight spaces with extra module pieces.

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October 5, 2011

Mobile Marketing Increasing For Holidays

More retailers are planning on implementing a mobile marketing strategy this holiday season, says a CashStar survey. Retailers surveyed at the annual Shop.org Retail Summit said they planned on increasing their mobile marketing spending this year (72 per cent), while six per cent were planning to make a significant increase. Two per cent of respondents planned to decrease their mobile marketing spend. When it comes to mobile marketing, mobile coupons were the most popular offering (64 per cent) followed by location-based deals (44 per cent). Retailers are also planning to promote to the last minute. Forty-two per cent plan to stop holiday promotions on the last day consumers can ship an item and have it arrive in time for Christmas, but 32 per cent plan to continue their promotions to Christmas Eve.

Plumbing Demand Approaches $11 Billion

U.S. demand for plumbing fixtures and fittings is forecast to rise 7.1 per cent per year to $10.9 billion in 2015, says The Freedonia Group. The ‘Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings’ report found demand will be boosted by a rebound in the size and number of bathrooms per new housing unit to levels common in the middle of the last decade.  During the 2007-2010 downturn in housing construction, many builders installed fewer and smaller bathrooms and used less costly fixtures and fittings in the new houses that were completed, further restraining plumbing product demand. Residential improvement and repair applications will remain the largest market for plumbing products through 2015. In the non-residential market, demand will be driven by rebounding construction activity in office buildings, retail sites, schools, lodgings, and healthcare facilities.

HRTC Cut Makes Renovations Fall

A flat outlook for the existing home market is expected to lead to a small decline in renovation expenditure in 2011 and modest growth in 2012, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The ‘Third Quarter Housing Market Outlook’ reported in 2010 renovation spending grew 9.4 per cent to $59.9 billion from $54.8 billion in 2009, despite a four per cent fall in existing home sales. With existing home sales forecast to decrease slightly in 2011, and with the Home Renovation Tax Credit no longer in play, renovation spending is forecast to fall 2.1 per cent this year to $58.7 billion. In 2012, with improving employment and a moderate increase in existing home sales, renovation spending next year is expected to rebound by 4.6 per cent to $61.4 billion.

Blanco Appoints National Sales Manager

Wendy McPherson is national sales manager at kitchen sink and faucet manufacturer Blanco. She will be responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s annual sales plan and for managing the national sales force.

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October 4, 2011

Onex Takes Over Jeld-Wen

Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp. has completed its takeover of Jeld-Wen Inc. It now has a 58 per cent stake in the company, ending family control of the business co-founded by Dick Wendt. To enable the deal, Jeld-Wen sold $448 million worth of junk bonds, refinancing debt that weighed down the company as it struggled with fallout from the housing market crash. Wendt's son, Rod Wendt, remains chief executive of Jeld-Wen, but day-to-day operations are already managed by Onex's Philip Orsino, a former Masonite International chief executive who became president of the company in August.

Weyerhaeuser Studies Biofuel Alternative

Weyerhaeuser plans to enter a consortium that will study the feasibility of producing fuel for U.S. commercial and military jets from wood and wood waste in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance consortium, led by Washington State University, will be funded by a five-year, $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study aims to address the urgent national need for a domestic biofuel alternative for U.S. commercial and military air fleets. The project also will focus on increasing the profitability of wood-based fuels through development of high value, bio-based co-products to replace petrochemicals used in products such as plastics.

Fiskars Helps Community Gardens Grow

Fiskars is helping not-for-profit groups get the resources needed to start and maintain community gardens with its Project Orange Thumb. Applicants from Canada and the U.S. can apply until December 5 at www.fiskars.com/projectorangethumb to be chosen as one of 10 recipients of $5,000 in cash and tools towards their neighbourhood garden. One applicant will receive a complete garden makeover. The global home and garden supplier has assisted in the completion of 12 garden makeovers since 2002, and has provided more than $1 million to 125 community groups.

Amazon.ca Ventures Into Tools

Amazon.ca has launched its Tool & Building Supplies Store featuring more than 60,000 tool and home improvement-related items. Canadians can purchase power tools to DIY products from top brands at amazon.ca/tools and receive free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

New Branch Manager For Boncor

Del Abdou is branch manager for Boncor Building Products Concord, ON, branch. Abdou comes to the Royal Building Products’ company from Gerrie Electric Wholesale where he held various roles including three years as brand manager. He has spent more than 10 years in the building materials industry.

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October 3, 2011

Real Estate Moving To Level Field

Canada’s real estate market will be balanced to a level field by positive and negative factors, says BMO Capital Markets. Low mortgage rates and low unemployment and immigration will continue to push some demand, but it will be tempered by high house prices, elevated debt, and slowing employment. Home sales overall are likely to remain steady in 2012. The report also warned housing is “moderately” overpriced in most parts of Canada, especially in Vancouver, and thus vulnerable to correction.

Sequoia Assets Acquired By Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators will acquire the assets relating to quality control and assurance, product development, and logistics operations in China of trading company Sequoia Floorings. In connection with the agreement, Lumber Liquidators expects to assume direct control of sourcing previously managed by the company. The acquisition strengthens its mill-direct relationships pursuant to its long-term sourcing strategy.

DieHard Increasing Distribution

Sears Holdings will distribute DieHard Gold auto batteries at Meijer Corp.'s 194 locations in the U.S. Earlier this year, Meijer began selling DieHard brand portable power chargers and jump chargers. The key to the expansion of the Sears brand is a licence agreement with East Penn Manufacturing to distribute the products. The move follows other retail expansions of the retailer’s brands. Craftsman at Ace Hardware and Costco is most notable.

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