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

News

September 30, 2011

BC PST Introduction Will Affect All

Companies across Canada will feel the impact of reintroducing the PST in British Columbia and must prepare accordingly, Ernst & Young says. Companies must turn their attention to the issue now and ask how this changeover will affect operations, systems, customers, budgets, and staff. It's also beneficial for companies to advise the BC government on what administrative improvements can be made to the PST. Alison Pavlin, an associate partner at Ernst & Young, says all Canadians must keep in mind that the change is a Canada-wide issue, not just a BC shift, so any organizations conducting business in the province must make the necessary changes to ensure a seamless transition.

Extended Stay Period For Hart Stores

Hart Stores Inc. has obtained an order from the Québec Superior Court under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (Canada) extending the stay period granted under the previously-announced initial order obtained by Hart Stores in August. The order extends the stay period to November 4. During this period, all proceedings on the part of Hart's creditors are stayed. The order also created a charge over all of its assets in favour of its suppliers. The company operates a network of 92 mid-sized department stores under the Hart, Bargain Giant, and Géant des Aubaines banners.

Quebec RONA Affiliate Re-Opens

RONA inc. has officially re-opened its affiliated store, Materials Audet. The Québec City, QC, location, owned by Marie-Claude and Mario Audet, was renovated to increase its area. The Audets are the third generation owners of a RONA affiliate in St-Marc-des-Carrières. The family has owned that store for 65 years. Services include a specialized paint department to contractors, a carpentry shop offering the latest cutting services, wooden fences, lighting, flooring, and household goods.

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September 29, 2011

Napoleon’s Factories Growing

Wolf Steel Ltd. is expanding its Barrie, ON, production facility, the manufacturing home of Napoleon products, to accommodate demand in home heating and cooling and backyard grilling. The announcement of the 300,000 square-foot expansion co-incides with the launch of the company’s new heating and cooling division and its high efficiency made-in-Canada furnace line-up.

Nova Scotia Dealers Earn Award  

Home Hardware dealer/owners Jim and Kendall Proudfoot have been awarded the ‘10th Annual Paul Straus Public Relations Award’ for their commitment to giving back to their community. They received the award during the semi-annual shareholders’ meeting. The award acknowledges dealers who continually excel at making their stores more visible in their communities through innovative approaches using public relations. Proudfoots Home Hardware Building Centre in Pictou, NS, has been in Pictou County community since 1971 and has added stores in New Glasgow and Stellarton.

Hardware Retailers Brainstorm

A ‘hardware happy hour’ was at the top of the ideas list from True Value members at the retailer’s Fall Market in Philadelphia, PA. The ‘Retail Best Practices Conference’ held during the co-op’s market attracted 500 members and generated some actionable, take-home ideas. Among the most popular ideas was an after-work promotional period to attract commuters on their way home. Other ideas collected included Facebook Friday, Twitter Thursday, and a Mother's Day planters program that allows customers to arrange to grow their own customized gifts in the store. Participants also concluded that propane sales and service is something that would benefit most hardware store retailers.

Stewart Rejoins Board

Martha Stewart has rejoined the board of directors of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She has been officially absent from the company she founded because of a five-year Securities and Exchange Commission ban on serving as a board member or an executive of a public company. This was part of a settlement over insider-trading charges for which she served five months in prison.

Ace Opening Re-Distribution Centre

Ace Hardware Corporation has selected Suffolk, VA, for a 336,000 square-foot import re-distribution centre. The facility will allow the hardware co-operative to reduce import and logistics costs and improve service to East Coast retailers. Construction is scheduled for completion next May. The retailer already operates an 800,000 square-foot retail support centre in Prince George, VA.

U.S. Housing Prices Rise Slightly

The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a leading indicator of U.S. housing prices, showed a 0.9 per cent rise in home prices in July 2011, compared with the previous month for both its 10- and 20-city composites. This is the fourth consecutive month of increases for both indices. In July 2011, prices were down 3.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent for its 10- and 20-city composites. 

Greenbuild Comes To Toronto

The U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) annual conference and expo is making its way to Toronto to celebrate ‘what's next’ in green building. As the world's largest green building conference and expo, the event is expected to bring 25,000 delegates from more than 115 countries to Toronto, ON. Toronto was selected by USGBC as the host city for the conference for several reasons, including its growth in the green building movement with nearly 300 building projects registered and seeking LEED certification and 44 green building projects already LEED-certified in the area. It takes place October 4 to 7. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org

Cheesewright Moves To International Role

Walmart Canada CEO David Cheesewright is now head of the retailer’s operations in the United Kingdom and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Canada. In his place, Shelley Broader will assume the role of CEO of the Canadian division immediately. Broader has been with Walmart since last December as chief merchandising officer and before that was president and chief operating officer of arts and crafts supplier Michael's in North America. Cheesewright's new position will also have him navigating its international's business developments in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Canada.

September 29 Product Spotlight

• Milwaukee Tool’s pump pliers feature reaming heads for easier and more efficient deburring of pipe. The new additions include 8″, 10″, and 12″ quick adjust reaming pliers designed with the electrician in mind as well as 10″ and 12″ tongue and groove pliers for plumbing applications.
• Pella’s 350 Series vinyl windows and patio doors are made of triple-pane glass with metal reinforcement and precision corner welding that resist warping and twisting over time.
• The Dirt Devil AccuCharge Stick Vac is Energy Star certified to shut off once the battery is fully charged. At 5.85 pounds, it is easy to transport from room-to-room and ideal for small storage spaces. It also offers bagless convenience.
• HomeRight's Power-Flo Pro paint sprayer draws paint directly from a five-gallon paint container or one-gallon paint can. It sprays five gallons of paint in as little as 20 minutes.
• CertainTeed’s Volu-Matic SE high-performance insulation-blowing machine is designed for the professional contractor. The reduced footprint and lighter weight makes installation into smaller trucks possible and lowers initial investment and operating costs. It can be used for the application of fiberglass, rockwool, and cellulose insulations.
• Wikki Stix FIXables are versatile and easy to use for any quick fix without glue or paste. They can be used to wrap and secure extension and computer cords, tacks, nails, nuts, bolts, or to keep a cutting board in place.
• Lechuza’s Quadro self-watering planter makes growing and maintaining plants easy, even for taller or larger plants. A separate liner holds the plant suspended in soil and a reservoir controls the supply of water. It is available in five different sizes in white, black, and scarlet red high gloss finishes as well as silver, charcoal, and expresso metallic finishes.

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September 28, 2011

Countertop Demand To Hit $24.6 Billion

U.S. demand for countertops is predicted to advance 4.8 per cent per year to 760 million square feet in 2015, says the Freedonia Group. The study found the value of this forecast to be $24.6 billion, driven by a recovery in new housing demand and the remodeling market. Laminate countertops will continue to lead the market, in both value and area terms, but countertops made from engineered and natural stone will experience the fastest gains through 2015.  Consumers view engineered and natural stone materials as durable and aesthetically pleasing surfaces that are highly resistant to scratches and extreme temperatures. 

Canadian Tire Offers Installation Services

Canadian Tire Home Services will start offering installation services for a number of items. Following a successful launch in six cities, the retailer will provide garage door opener, central vacuum, and heating and cooling system installation in select cities.  

Consumer Confidence Shows Slight Improvements
Consumers' confidence in the economy, which plummeted in August, is expected to show slight improvement, say economists surveyed by FactSet. U.S. shoppers haven't yet cut their spending compared with last year, and forecasts for the winter holidays point to slightly higher sales than a year ago. But the gloomy consumer mood isn't good news heading into the crucial winter holidays.

RONA Partners With Canucks
RONA inc. has announced a three-year partnership with Canucks Sports & Entertainment. The retailer’s brand will appear during home games of the Vancouver hockey club, the Vancouver Canucks, and a logo will be printed on the ice. Karim Salabi, vice-president, image and sponsorships at RONA; and Victor de Bonis, CEO for Canucks Sports & Entertainment; also announced the retailer and the hockey club will unite their efforts and resources in order to develop concrete projects such as renovations of facilities dedicated to youth in the local community.

Most Will Help Job Seekers

Nine out of 10 employees are willing to help a friend or acquaintance search for a new job, says a survey by Right Management. In fact, most of them have done so in the past year. The survey of North American workers found that people who already have jobs are nearly always prepared to give time or other support to those who ask it.

TIM-BR MART Show Set For March

The TIM-BR MART National Buying Show will be held March 30 and 31, 2012, at the Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto, ON.

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September 27, 2011

Ace Launches New Paint Line

Ace Hardware has unveiled Clark+Kensington, its exclusive line of low VOC paint and primer in one. It eliminates the need to prime and paint surfaces separately and is available in 120 colours. In a nod to the retailer’s heritage, the Clark+Kensington name commemorates its first retail location on Chicago’s Clark Street and the current address of its worldwide headquarters in Oak Brook, IL. The line is manufactured at the company’s two manufacturing facilities in the south Chicago suburbs of Matteson and Chicago Heights.

Denim Insulation Available At Menards

Menards will sell Bonded Logic’s Ultratouch Denim Insulation product in 262 stores in 13 midwestern states. The insulation, made from recycled denim, will also be available by special order. This is the first large home improvement chain to carry the product, which has been mostly sold through lumberyard channels, insulation wholesalers, and green building material suppliers. The company is also in negotiations to have the insulation carried by Lowe’s.

Home Sales Reach Six-Month Low

Sales of new homes in the U.S. fell to a six-month low in August, says the Commerce Department. New home sales fell 2.3 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 295,000 less than half the roughly 700,000 that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market. New homes sales are on pace for the worst year since the government began keeping records a half century ago.

TOTEM Plants First Of One Million Trees 

TOTEM Building Supplies has completed planting the first 100,000 trees of its multi-year commitment to support reforestation in Alberta. Last May, the company announced it would plant one million trees in the province’s boreal forests near Slave Lake.The tree-planting initiative is a component of the company’s long-term sustainable development platform, ‘Together with Totem,’ announced last spring to preserve natural resources and be a responsible steward of the environment.

Target Adds 84 More Canadian Locations

Target has finalized its real estate transaction with Zellers Inc. with the selection of 84 additional Zellers leases, bringing the total number of leases selected to 189. From this second group, the U.S.-based retailer has acquired the leasehold interests for 29 locations, the vast majority of which will open as Target stores beginning in 2013. The remaining leases have been or will be sold to other Canadian retailers or back to landlords.

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September 26, 2011

Target Teams With Sobeys

U.S. retailer Target has entered into a supply deal with Canadian grocer Sobeys for its 2013 entry into the Canadian market. Under the deal, the grocer will supply the retailer with frozen, dairy, and dry grocery products, including both national brands and Target's private label products starting early in 2013. The two companies will use each other's distribution networks to help reduce transportation expenses. Sobeys, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Ltd, owns or franchises more than 1,300 stores across Canada under retail banners including Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper, and Thrifty Foods, as well as Lawtons Drug Stores.

Walmart Acquires 39 Zellers Stores

Walmart Canada has completed the acquisition from Target Canada of leases for 39 store locations currently occupied by Zellers. It is anticipated these locations will open in late 2012 as a mix of discount stores offering general merchandise and a selection of pantry foods and supercentres which offer general merchandise as well as a full selection of groceries under one roof.

RPM Acquires Restoration Company

RPM International Inc.’s RPM2 business unit will acquire the Legend Brands group of companies, providers of equipment and solutions for water and fire damage restoration, professional cleaning, and environmental control. Legend Brands has annual sales of more than $70 million and has distribution in 15 countries and customers in 20 countries. It will remain a stand-alone operation within RPM2 and will continue to be led by its existing management team.

BrassCraft Celebrates 65 Years

BrassCraft Manufacturing Company is celebrating its 65th anniversary. The company has grown to include distribution and manufacturing facilities in California, North Carolina, and Texas providing gas connectors, appliance connectors, water connectors, and water stops to plumping professionals. 

Home Depot Heads To Island

Home Depot has opened its first store on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. With a population of more than 50,000, it is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The retailer has had a location on the neighbouring island of St. Thomas for several years and also operates six locations on nearby Puerto Rico. The store has been described as the only new Home Depot store to open anywhere in the United States or its territories during the past 12 months.

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September 23, 2011

Building Materials Results Mixed

Retail sales declined 0.6 per cent to $37.5 billion in July, after increasing the previous three months, says Statistics Canada. Lower sales were reported in seven of 11 subsectors, with motor vehicle and parts dealers accounting for most of the decline. In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.9 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 0.8 per cent, compared to the same month last year. However, they increased 0.1 from June. Furniture and home furnishings stores registered a third consecutive decrease, falling 2.2 per cent due to lower sales.

Concerted Action Needed To Avoid Recession

The prime ministers of Canada and the UK are warning that the world is on the verge of another recession. Stephen Harper and David Cameron said concerted action is needed to avoid a downturn. Cameron was in Canada for a special joint session of Parliament. Evidence of that concerted action did start to appear on Thursday. Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors issued a statement pledging to ensure that banks would have access to all the money they might need to weather the storm after world stock markets, including Canada’s, dropped. As well, India’s finance minister said the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) would be part of any G20 “consensus.” The fall of stock prices was attributed to the Federal Reserve’s warning that the U.S. economy faces “significant” threats, especially from financial turmoil linked to Europe’s debt crisis.

Retailers May Be Gifted Good Christmas Sales

Americans are expected to spend more than they did last year during the holidays, says ShopperTrak. Retail revenue in November and December will likely be up three per cent during what is traditionally the biggest shopping period of the year, says to the research firm. The prediction would be below last year's 4.1 per cent spike and the five-plus per cent gains during boom economic times, but it's still above the 2.6 per cent average gain over the last 10 years and is considered respectable growth given the down economy. Shoppers also are being more deliberate about searching for bargains ‒ a buying habit many picked up during the recession. Retailers expect that trend to continue into the holiday shopping season.  

Foreclosures Driving Home Sales

The number of Americans who bought re-sale homes rose in August, but sales were driven by an increase in foreclosures, says the National Associate of Realtors. This could be a sign that home prices could fall further next year and slow a housing recovery. Home sales rose 7.7 per cent last month to a rate of 5.03 million homes, below the six million that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market. Last month's pace was slightly ahead of the 4.91 million sold in 2010, the worst sales level in 13 years. Homes at risk of foreclosure made up 31 per cent of sales, up from 29 per cent in July. Many of the sales went to investors, who are increasingly buying homes priced under $100,000.

Less Than Half Of Economic Indicators Up

The U.S. economy will likely expand this fall at a weak pace, but the risks are rising of another recession, says the Conference Board. Its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3 per cent in August, the fourth consecutive increase. Still, the improvement in August wasn't broad-based and mostly stemmed from an improvement in financial conditions, such as low interest rates.

Housewares Retailer Sees Profit Leap

Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. said its fiscal second-quarter profit leaped 26 per cent, as sales rose faster than its expenses. The housewares retailer reported net income of $229.4 million, compared with $181.8 million a year earlier. Quarterly revenue rose eight per cent to $2.31 billion from $2.14 billion. Revenue at stores open at least a year increased 5.6 per cent.


DIY Council Attending Hardware Fair

The Worldwide DIY Council, North America's trade association for manufacturers seeking international sales in the hardware industry, will be participating at the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany, next March. The pavilion will feature a number of their member companies looking to increase export sales. The association is also planning an informal ‘International Networking Reception’ for members, customers, and friends. The fair takes place in Cologne, Germany March 4 to 7, 2012. Information will soon be available at www.wdiyc.org

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September 22, 2011

Blue Most Popular Colour Worldwide

When it comes to colour preferences, blue is the overall winner worldwide, says a Dulux Paints survey. It found personal colour preference ‒ while differing slightly from one culture to another ‒ is highly similar across the globe. Respondents from 30 different countries said blue was their top colour choice (42 per cent of males and 30 per cent of females), followed by red and green. Yellow, orange, brown, and purple were reported as the least favourite colours worldwide, with yellow preferred by only five per cent of respondents, taking bottom spot.

Wal-Mart Growth Changing For Future

Wal-Mart is continuing its expansion as the fastest growing retailer in Canada by modernizing the way it is building new locations, says Ken Farrell, vice-president of store development at Wal-Mart Canada. At the International Council of Shopping Centres’ (ICSC) ‘Canadian Retail Forum,’ he presented ‘The Next Generation Wal-Mart Store’ and explained how the retailer is focusing future growth on its Supercentres while also considering new sites and store layouts that will be flexible enough to serve more urban markets. It will also begin experimenting with a new smaller store, called Urban 90, which fits into about half the acreage of a traditional Wal-Mart. The first is scheduled to open in Scarborough, ON, early next year.

Home Hardware Plants Trees

Home Hardware dealers across the country celebrated the first ‘National Tree Day’ by planting trees in 22 communities from coast-to-coast as part of the company's longstanding relationship with Tree Canada. "With more than 1,080 stores across Canada, Home dealers are proud to give back to their communities," says Paul Straus, president and CEO. "Trees help to conserve energy, improve air and water quality and provide wildlife habitat. This project aligns perfectly with our company's ongoing efforts to be environmentally responsible." Over the past 12 years, Home Hardware has partnered with Tree Canada to improve green spaces across the country.

Energy Costs Drive DIY Solar Projects

The rising costs of energy are making solar energy more desirable than ever, but many homeowners are discouraged by the price tag associated with equipping their home with energy-efficient items, says the book ‘Creative Publishing, DIY Solar Projects.’ It gives environmentally-conscious (and cost-conscious) homeowners an array of achievable projects they can make and install to begin creating their own solar lifestyle. Project ideas include a solar oven that can cook a roast, instructions on how to mount small photovoltaic panels on a roof, and a solar still that purifies water without consuming power.

Retailers See High ROI In Canadian Markets

The Canadian retail landscape is an attractive, but challenging market for American and international retailers to move into, says Jason Anderton, senior real estate representative at Sally Beauty Holdings. Anderton spoke on the ‘Retailers Without Borders’ panel at the International Council of Shopping Centres’ ‘Canadian Retail Forum’ discussing the Texas-based beauty supply company’s experience traversing across the border. He said Canadian customers are well-travelled and more educated on international brands than their U.S. counterparts and are very excited about the arrival of their favourite brands in Canada. However, they expect retailers to be flexible to the culture of the Canadian market and cater to their product needs and wants.

Scott Joins Moen

Garry Scott is vice-president of wholesale marketing and brand development, at Moen Canada. In his new role, he will be responsible to develop, plan, and execute all marketing programs; devise strategies to increase sales, margins, and brand awareness; and drive customer retention and expansion through the effective management of product and promotional marketing. Previously, he held progressive management roles in both sales and marketing with Cadbury, SC Johnson, and Revlon Canada. Most recently, he was the director of marketing for Maple Leaf Consumer Foods.

September 22 Product Spotlight

• Milwaukee Tool has introduced six new snips that are made with corrosion resistant metal to protect the tools from rust. They are made with forged metal heads and machined precision for maximum tool strength and durability. Offerings include straight cutting aviation snips, left cutting aviation snips, right cutting aviation snips, straight cutting bulldog snips, right cutting right angle snips, and left cutting right angle snips.
• Pella’s line of entry door systems offers energy efficient options that meet or exceed Energy Star guidelines. Its Advantage Plus protection system features a tough aluminum exterior trim that protects better than traditional wood, as well as a patented rot-free design that won’t absorb moisture and resists fading.
• ThreeDwall panels add another dimension to walls in any room. The wall décor panels are made of natural plant fibres and can be painted. They are available in a variety of contemporary and transitional designs.
• PARA Ultra has launched a line of Advanced Hybrid Technology waterborne/alkyd enamel paints that provide the durability and performance of oil based paints with the convenience of water clean up and the fast dry of latex. It is a responsible option for eco-conscience Canadians who desire the smooth, even, scuff-free finish of oil-based paints with low VOCs and minimal odour.
• The Sansin Corporation Foundation is a ready-to-use formulation of low VOC water-borne primer for both interior and exterior wood surfaces. It goes on invisible and creates UV protection deep within the wood, allowing for the lightest of finishes to bring out the natural beauty and distinctiveness of wood while maintaining clarity.
• Phifer’s Jardin de Rose fabric collection from the Designed Fabrics product lines offers a selection of high-performance outdoor fabrics that do not absorb water and are resistant to mold and mildew growth. The collection includes patterns, stripes, solids, and traditional florals in linen-like textures that can be used in awning, umbrella, pillow, and other exterior fabric applications.
• The Ryobi One+ Lithium-ion Cordless Hedge Trimmer has 18″ dual action blades that make 1,200 cuts per minute with ease. Gripzone Overmold and a wraparound handle give the operator full control.

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September 21, 2011

Stremecki Leaving TIM-BR MARTS

Steve Stremecki is leaving TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. at the end of this month. Since joining the firm in 2004, he has worked in a number of key roles that were instrumental in growing the business. He is leaving to become a TIM-BR MART dealer, joining the Macey Group of stores in Ontario. Rather than hire a replacement, his responsibilities will shift to other divisions.

Leading Index Little Changed

The composite leading index was little changed in August for the third month in a row, says Statistics Canada. Of the 10 components, six continued to expand in August, the same number as in July. The weakness in the index was concentrated in the housing index and the stock market, both of which fell more than the month before. Most of the 0.7 per cent drop in the housing index originated in lower existing home sales. Housing starts leveled off, after recovering over the previous five months. Furniture and appliance sales remained robust, rising 1.1 per cent. Spending on other durable goods rose 1.6 per cent, its largest monthly increase during the recovery, partly as shortages of Japanese models began to ease.

Lowe’s Gets New Tagline

Lowe’s has a new tagline ‒ ‘Never Stop Improving.’ It replaces ‘Let's Build Something’ and will be featured in its new advertising campaign. In addition, Lowe’s will soon be launching MyLowes, an online tool to help customers manage their homes and home improvement projects through every stage.

Stoney Creek Store Opens

Lumber Liquidators has opened its fifth store in Canada in Stoney Creek, ON. The newest store boasts a 1,000-foot showroom and a 4,000-foot warehouse. Each location offers customers a boutique shopping experience with the selection and buying power of a big box store. There are more than 340 varieties of flooring to choose from including Bellawood Hardwood flooring. “Our continued growth here shows that Canadian shoppers want value for their hard-earned dollar,” says Tyler Greenan, COO of its Canadian operations.  

Home Décor Reflects Self-expression

In the year ahead, the growing trend of self-expression will make its way into home decor as Canadians increasingly choose to surround themselves with colours that reflect their personal style, says Sico. “The 2012-2013 paint colour palette is full of take-charge optimism,” says Mylène Gévry, marketing communications manager. “From full bodied hues with strong character to hushed pastels, the coming year’s palette represents people’s growing need for and interest in expressing concepts, viewpoints, and approaches.” There are three prevailing colour themes for the year ahead, each reflecting the over-arching need to make and celebrate personal connections. They are Living Scrapbook, which represents how a culture of showcasing ‘Who I am’ in the digital space has crossed over into the physical world of home décor in colour such as sky blue and olive green; One Small Seed, which highlights the personal connection to and awareness of how actions affect the world around us in colours including garden greens, dark soil browns, and pastel blues; and Delicate Mix which exudes subtlety, silence, and visual stillness while promoting harmony, modesty, and perfect balance. Highlighting this palette are elegant neutrals, nude pinks, and subtle mauves.

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September 20, 2011

Home Construction And Sales Continue To Hurt

The ‘Builder Sentiment Index’ in September fell to 14 points from 15, says the National Association of Home Builders. The outlook for U.S. homebuilders worsened as foreclosures and anxious buyers continued to hurt construction and sales activity. The index has been below 20 for all but one month during the past two years. Readings below 50 indicate negative sentiment in the housing market. Last year, the number of people who bought new homes fell to its lowest level dating back nearly a half-century.

Remodeling Activity Reaches Record Levels

U.S. residential remodeling activity in July registered the 21st straight month of year-over-year gains, says BuildFax. The ‘Remodeling Index’ rose 24 per cent year-over-year to 130.4, the highest number recorded since 2004. With millions of Americans either unable to secure a mortgage or having to remain in their current home because they cannot sell the property, remodeling activity continues to soar. 

Elm Recognized For Sustainability

Tyler Elm, vice-president of business sustainability at Canadian Tire Corporation, has been selected by Delta Management Group as one of Canada's ‘Clean50,’ a collection of 50 individuals or small teams who have made the greatest impact on Canada's long-term sustainability and contributed the most to clean capitalism in this country over the past few years. Elm has had a distinguished career with a focus on sustainability, and currently leads the company in implementing a strategy that includes increasing business and environmental performance. Since 2008, the strategy has delivered 670 projects and will annually avoid $9.2 million in costs, 11,811 tonnes of GHG emissions, and 2,285 tonnes of waste.

Tainted Drywall Recommendations Made

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a set of updated recommendations that may lower the cost of remediation for some homeowners in its final report on tainted drywall. The updated remediation guidance is based on studies just completed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on potential long-term corrosion effects of problem drywall on gas piping, fire sprinkler heads, and smoke alarms. The key finding is that none of the studies performed at NIST found corrosion associated with problem drywall that provided evidence of a substantial product safety hazard. As a result, the CPSC and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) no longer recommend the removal of gas service piping or the replacement of glass bulb fire sprinkler heads in homes with problem drywall. This change may reduce the cost of remediation for many homes. However, both agencies recommend that these devices be inspected and tested to make sure they’re working properly.

AZEK Allies With Vast

AZEK Building Products, a manufacturer of PVC-based molding, trim, and decking, has entered into a strategic alliance with VAST Enterprises, a maker of composite masonry products. Under the agreement, AZEK Building Products has purchased an interest in VAST and will make the VAST brand available to AZEK's distribution network. AZEK and VAST will collaborate on sales and marketing initiatives to drive brand awareness among architects and contractors.

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September 19, 2011

TRU Hardware Gets Flyer

TruServ Canada has launched the first flyer and a website for its new banner, TRU Hardware. The new building centre and country and garden format was revealed at its ‘Spring Market’ in April. "Over the summer months, the company has been working with independent dealers who were previously True Value to convert their stores to the new banner," says Bill Morrison, its president. One of the first stores to convert was in Killarney, MB. "We are getting positive feedback from our customers," says owner Shirley Highfield. The new look features prominent identification of the dealer's name or town. "It is a perfect retail look for a modern Canadian hardware store, adaptable to each dealer's needs," says Morrison. The company will continue to work with stores as they make the transition. At its ‘Fall Market,’ October1 to 3, it will launch the TRU Building Centre concept.

Mirolin Adds Alberta DC

Mirolin Industries Corp., a Masco Company is expanding its operations with a 150,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and distribution centre in Airdrie, AB. Production at the new facility will commence in the first quarter of 2012 and the expansion will enhance effectiveness and efficiency of service to customers Canada-wide. Mirolin serves the new home construction, home improvement, and renovation markets.

Confidence In Economy Up Slightly

Consumers were slightly more confident in the U.S. economy in September, but are increasingly worried about the future. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index inched up to 57.8 in September from 55.7 in August. However, consumers are more pessimistic about their future prospects. An index tracking consumer expectations fell to its lowest level since May 1980.

Sears Looks For Kenmore Outlets

Sears Holdings is looking for other retail outlets to sell its Kenmore-branded appliances. Costco recently struck a deal with Sears to carry a selection of its Craftsman brand tools, which are also available at Ace Hardware stores. However, there is no exact timeline for when Sears might go external with the Kenmore line.


Locke Throws Out First Pitch

John Locke, dealer-owner of Orillia Home Hardware Building Centre, marked Home Hardware Blue Jays Fan Appreciation Day by presenting a $250,000 cheque to Austin Featherstone, a Special Olympics Canada Athlete and Anthony Miceli, vice-president, business development and marketing from Special Olympics Canada, during an infield ceremony at the Rogers Centre on Sunday. Following the cheque presentation, Locke, Miceli, and Featherstone, who is still fresh from bringing home a gold medal in the 400 metre race at the World Games in Athens this summer, threw the ceremonial first pitch to get the Blue Jays game versus the New York Yankees underway. In addition to the on-field pre-game cheque presentation and ceremonial first pitch, several other elements are included in fan appreciation day. The first 10,000 fans to arrive at the Rogers Centre received a t-shirt presented by Home Hardware and nine fans won the shirts off the backs of the Blue Jays players.

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September 16, 2011

Resale Housing Activity Stable

National resale housing activity in August 2011 remained stable for the second consecutive month, says statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). It says sales activity was stable from July to August, but posted another big year-over-year gain reflecting weakened demand last summer. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity came in 15.8 per cent above national levels reported one year earlier. This was the largest year-over-year increase since last April, but largely reflects weakened activity one year ago. As well, year-to-date sales pulled ahead of 2010 levels for the first time this year and remain in line with the 10-year average.

Confidence In Economy Drops Again

Canadians' confidence in the economy continued its drop from last month as the economic climate continues to worsen in both Europe and the United States. The TNS ‘Canadian Consumer Confidence Index’ dropped more than another point from 97.6 to 96.4, after dropping two points in August. Continuing fluctuations in the stock markets and uncertain economic news emanating from Europe and the United States are continuing to bode poorly for Canada’s economic outlook.

Cool Stores Recognized

Ace Hardware Corporation has recognized four member stores with its first-ever ‘Coolest Hardware Store’ awards. Three retailers in the eastern United States and one in the Great Plains out of 4,500 stores worldwide have demonstrated the stellar commitment to local customization and customer service that the award honors. The four winners share common traits yet offer local flavour and product selection above and beyond most hardware stores. They are Sunshine Ace Hardware, Naples, FL; Blackhawk Ace Hardware, Charlotte, NC; Old Takoma Ace Hardware, Takoma Park, MD; and Kopetsky’s Ace Hardware, Yankton, SD.

Trend Shifting From Price

Practicality and price are competing with consumer desire for décor in the home fashions/home textiles market. However, the NPD Group/ Consumer Tracking Service says the trend seems to be flattening and some large gains for décor found in key categories. All of the top performers for the past 12 months were individual/open stock items. The top two categories followed up a year of declines and exceeded sales levels of two years ago. Sheet sets continue to be the largest category based on dollar sales within bedding and the overall home textiles market at $2.1 billion in the 12 months ending July 2011, up slightly over the previous 12 months. Bath towels or bath sheets take the top spot for the bath segment, with $1 billion in sales, a double-digit increase over last year. Drapery panels/panel sets are the top seller in the window treatments segment. With $700 million in sales between August 2010 and July 2011, they are up double-digits compared to the prior year. In the kitchen and dining segment, kitchen rugs represented $247 million in sales and were the top selling category in the segment. However, sales were down slightly from the 12 months ending July 2010.

10,000 Attending Fall Market

The Waterloo, ON, region will see the friendly invasion of more than 10,000 Home Hardware dealers and vendors from coast-to-coast, as they begin arriving this weekend for the company’s ‘2011 Fall Market and pre-Market Conference.’ The semi-annual markets are designed to provide a forum for dealer/owners and staff to network with their peers across the country, sharing best practices and resources. Markets also serve as an opportunity for seasonal product purchasing and learning about upcoming trends. With 4,500 vendor representatives on hand to demonstrate products and take orders, dealers can explore and purchase a multitude of new products for the 2012 spring season.  The theme for this year’s market is ‘Together Towards Tomorrow.’ It “captures the essence of the independent, yet team-minded approach that drives Home Hardware to success year after year,” says Paul Straus, president and CEO.

McMunn And Yates Buys Weber’s

McMunn and Yates Building Supplies Ltd. has purchased Weber’s Building Centre and Weber’s Furniture and Appliance Centre Yorkton, SK. McMunn and Yates was founded in Dauphin, MB, in 1971. With the addition of Yorkton, it now operates 16 retail locations, a distribution centre, and a truss manufacturing plant.

Blank Earns CIO Award

Gale Blank, Walmart Canada's vice-president and chief information officer, has been awarded the ‘Breakaway Leader Award’ at the ‘CIO Executive Summit.’ She was selected as one of 10 industry leaders in North America. The award, now in its fourth year, recognizes CIOs and senior IT executives whose leadership elevates their people, partners, and business. She has more than 30 years of experience working at the forefront of the information technology industry.

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September 15, 2011

Wal-Mart Helping Women

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching measures it says will help out women around the world in the next five years. It will spend $20 billion over that period on goods and services from U.S. businesses owned by women. It also plans to double the amount it pays women-run suppliers overseas, though it didn't give a total.

HD Supply Opens New DC

HD Supply Facilities Maintenance has opened a distribution centre in Jacksonville, FL. It is the 39th in the company’s operations network in North America. The company is a distributor of maintenance, repair, and operations products.

Weyerhaeuser On Sustainability Index

Weyerhaeuser Co. has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, which tracks companies in terms of their economic, environmental, and social performance. It is one of only eight building materials companies to be included on the index. The index follows a best-in-class approach and includes sustainability leaders from each industry on a global and regional level, based on an assessment of corporate economic, environmental, and social performance covering issues such as corporate governance, risk management, customer relationships, climate change strategy, and labor practices.

Dollarama Sales Surge

Dollarama Inc. had a 12.8 per cent surge in sales and sharply higher earnings in the second quarter ended July 31. Sales were $387.5 million, up from $343.5 million a year earlier, and net earnings $37.7 million, up from $27.6 million. Comparable store sales were up 4.7 per cent, with transaction size up 5.3 per cent, and the number of transactions down 0.5 per cent. It has 680 stores across the country.


Peinture Laurentide Member Of General Paint

Peinture Laurentide is now a full member of the General Paint brand portfolio. By integrating Peinture Laurentide's current architectural coatings activities in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, this transaction will make General Paint a countrywide Canadian paint manufacturer.


U.S. Spending Unchanged

U.S. consumers spent less on autos, clothing, and furniture to leave retail sales unchanged in August, says the Commerce Department. The government report shows sales at department stores fell 0.3 per cent and a broader category of general merchandise stores, which includes big retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, showed a slight 0.1 per cent gain. Analysts say Hurricane Irene likely disrupted sales in late August along most of the East Coast.

Laberge Joins RONA

Michelle Laberge is senior director communications and public affairs, at RONA inc. In this role, she will act as a spokesperson for the corporation. She joins RONA from MSL Canada, a public relations agency where she was vice-president for its consumer division, representing clients such as Procter & Gamble, Indigo Chapters, and Fujifilm. Nadia Goyer is senior advisor. She is the primary contact for media queries and manages product and interview requests. She was previously with La Coop fédérée, La Ronde, and SAQ. Sue Cavallucci is director of internal communications. She was manager of media and public affairs at IMS HEALTH Canada, a global market research firm providing information services to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

September 15 Product Spotlight

• Milwaukee Tool’s ProPEX/Tubing Cutter features an exclusive, replaceable double-ground steel blade and an all metal core, as well as an exclusive design that allows the user to replace the blade and further increase the life of the tool. It has an easy to use, one-handed locking mechanism for improved tool safety and V-shaped blades for quick, straight cuts.
• Moen Home Care’s bathroom grab bars with integrated accessories combine the safety benefits of a grab bar with three common bath essentials ‒ a towel bar, a paper holder, and a shelf ‒ making each functional and fashionable.
•Roxul’s ComfortBatt insulation products are designed for steel stud construction in commercial buildings and introduce a wall system offering higher energy efficiency and sustainability. They are available in R10, R14 (Canada only), R15 (US only), R22.5, and R24.
• The Anver VB-Series Vacuum Lifter-Tilter is an electric hoist-based vacuum lifter that is combined with a pneumatic powered 90° tilter to re-orient coiled products. Featuring an articulating handle with fully integrated controls and a vacuum gauge, this ergonomic lifter-tilter lets one person pick-up and load coiled products into assembly and packaging equipment, eliminating manual bending, lifting, and twisting.
• The 10″ cast iron table saw from RIDGID reduces vibration and provides a flat, level surface for trouble-free cutting. It is designed for customization by the user by adding an extension table or auxiliary tables for routers or other specialty tools.

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September 14, 2011

Tap Phone To Make Purchases

BMO Bank of Montreal has launched its Mobile PayPass Tag, a technology that allows its personal credit card customers to make purchases through a sticker affixed to their mobile phone.  By making the technology available for use on mobile devices, consumers no longer need to carry cash or coin, or even a purse or wallet, to make small-dollar-value purchases. They can just tap their mobile phone over the PayPass reader at the point of sale and the transaction is instantly processed to their credit card account. For purchases under $50, no Personal Identification Number (PIN), swipe, or signature is required and they receive an instant eMail verification of each transaction. Users can monitor their spending by opting to receive eMail notifications that report the merchant and exact location of each purchase they make with their tag.

B.C. Updates Wood-frame Guide

British Columbia is releasing a new guide that builds on industry knowledge gained over the past decade to enhance the quality of wood-frame, multi-unit residential buildings constructed in the province. The ‘Building Enclosure Design Guide ‒ Wood-Frame Multi-Unit Residential Buildings’ offers practical solutions to help ensure that new residential buildings are well constructed for B.C. families and residents. Developed in consultation with an industry task group, it updates earlier best practice guides that have been instrumental in creating a consistent approach to the design and construction of effective building envelopes.

Lafarge Introduces PLC

Lafarge has introduced a portland-limestone cement (PLC) commercial offering in Canada. Widely used in Europe for more than 25 years, PLC is a new category of cement that provides performance similar to conventional portland cement with up to 10 per cent less CO2 emissions. Because of these performance similarities and the significant sustainability advantages, Lafarge will start the transition from regular portland cement to PLC this year. Customers in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are currently being supplied PLC from Lafarge's plants in Richmond, BC, and Bath, ON. Product introduction to other provinces will occur as additional testing and updates to local building codes are completed, which is expected to occur by the end of 2012.

Taiga Net Sales Drop

Taiga Building Products Ltd.’s consolidated net sales for the quarter ended June 30 were $263.6 million compared to $294.4 million over the same period last year, a decrease of $30.8 million or 10.5 per cent. The decrease was due to the lack of an upward movement in commodity prices and weaker demand driven by less housing construction activity. Net earnings for the quarter were $3.6 million, a decrease of $1.7 million compared to $5.3 million over the same period last year.

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September 13, 2011

Aging Boomers Influence Housing Demand

Approximately 80 per cent of new housing demand by 2030 will come from consumers in their golden years, says the Conference Board of Canada. The demand will require a new wave of homes that are very low maintenance, such as condominiums or seniors residences, while putting downward price pressure on the traditional single detached home. In 2006, 57 per cent of condo owners were over the age of 50, while 17 per cent were over the age of 75. Prosperity in the renovation market is also predicted to continue, says the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, as seniors who decide to stay in their current residences will be renovating homes to meet the needs of getting older.

GDP Estimate Lowered

Canada's real GDP is projected to grow by 2.4 per cent this year, a reduction of 0.8 percentage points from the forecast issued in June, says a report from RBC. Its ‘Economic Outlook’ downgrades its forecast after a mild contraction in the second quarter and softer growth in the U.S. and Euro-zone economies. Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC, says the company is cautiously optimistic that Canada's economy will continue to pick up speed next year, growing at a rate of 2.5 per cent. The business investment cycle is on an upswing in Canada, growing at double digit rates throughout 2010 and the first half of this year. More businesses have cash available due to improved profits and better access to financing. As well, the strong Canadian dollar has provided support for increased investment.

Restoration Plans IPO

Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc. has filed to go public, saying it expects to raise as much as $150 million on the stock market. The high-end home decor store has been a public company before, but managers led a private-equity buyout in June 2008 as the company struggled with losses. It says it now hopes to transform itself from a niche brand into a leading home furnishings company. The company has about 100 stores throughout the U.S. and Canada with plans for more locations and expansion. It also plans to enhance its catalogue and online marketing.

Baird Capital Acquires Chem-Dry

Baird Capital Partners (BCP), the U.S.-based buyout fund of Baird Private Equity, has acquired Harris Research, Inc. (HRI) from The Home Depot. The company is joined in the investment by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Based in Logan, UT, HRI is franchisor of in-home consumer services in the United States and internationally. Its Chem-Dry brand provides carpet and upholstery cleaning services with approximately 4,000 franchises worldwide. It will continue its generation program with The Home Depot.

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September 12, 2011

Construction Pace Slows In August

The pace of home construction in Canada slowed in August as builders started work on fewer condominiums and apartments, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Housing starts in August fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 184,700 units, down from 204,500 in July. Starts in urban areas dropped 10.2 per cent to 165,800 units, mostly due to fewer multiple-dwelling starts which fell 15.5 per cent to 101,400 units. The actual number of housing starts of all types in August was 16,464 across the country, down from 17,111 in August 2010.

Flaherty Wants Price Gap Study

Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister, wants to know why price gaps between the U.S. and Canada still exist despite the Canadian dollar’s gains on the U.S. dollar in recent years. In a letter to the Senate national finance committee, he asks that it study the reasons for this gap. Despite the Canadian dollar trading at par or above parity, Canadian cross border shoppers still find items retail at higher prices in Canada than in the United States.

Acquisitions Influence HD Results

Net sales for HD Supply’s second fiscal quarter were $2.2 billion, an increase of $195 million, or 10 per cent, over 2010. Operating income was $73 million, an improvement of $46 million compared with operating income a year ago. During the second quarter, the company entered into an agreement to sell its plumbing/HVAC business to Hajoca Corp. Upon the closing of the transaction, the company anticipates recording a modest gain and expects to utilize the funds from the transaction for growth initiatives. It also completed the acquisition of Rexford Albany Municipal Supply Co. during the quarter, expanding for the first time into the state of New York.

ICSC Convention Comes To Canada

The ‘Deal Making and Trade Exposition Canadian Convention’ will take place October 19 to 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON. Attendees can network and learn from experts in the retail real estate industry in Canada. For the first time, the convention qualifies for continuing education credits. More information is available at www.icsc.org

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September 9, 2011

Ontario Leads Building Permit Increase

The value of building permits rose 6.3 per cent to $7 billion in July, matching the record high set in May 2007, says Statistics Canada. The increase in July was mostly the result of advances in multi-family dwelling permits in Ontario and was the third consecutive monthly increase in permits, which rose in six provinces, led by Ontario. The largest decline occurred in Quebec where building intentions fell in the non-residential sector following gains the previous three months. In the residential sector, the value of permits nationally increased 14.6 per cent to $4.3 billion, the third consecutive monthly gain and the highest level since December 2005.

Home Sales Up

Canadian home sales may have accelerated in August. Canadian Real Estate Association data from 11 metropolitan centres shows purchases reported by regional real estate boards have increased 21.5 per cent from a year ago to 19,811 units. Those markets, which recorded almost half of the country's sales in July, had posted year-over-year growth of 15.9 per cent that month. Existing home sales rose 24 per cent to 7,542 units in Toronto, while Vancouver sales rose eight per cent in August to 2,378 units, slowing from a 14 per cent pace in July. Purchases in Calgary were up 23.1 per cent, while sales in Edmonton increased 18 per cent.

E-Commerce Influences Seasonal Hires

Sixty-eight per cent of retailers are expecting holiday sales to increase this year, says the Hay Group. In a recent survey, retailers said although they expect an increase, hiring plans remain conservative, with 67 per cent hiring at the same level as last year and 25 per cent hiring fewer seasonal workers. The double-digit growth in e-commerce sales this year is influencing hiring levels. Nineteen per cent of retailers say they will hire fewer seasonal staffers in stores this year due to the increase in their online sales. This decline may be offset by the 19 per cent who say they will hire more seasonal workers in distribution centres to support the uptick in online orders.

Layaway Option For Holiday Shoppers

Wal-Mart will launch a holiday layaway program from October 17 to December 16. The option – which was phased out at the retailer in 2006 ‒ aims to accommodate low income shoppers who have been hit by high unemployment and rising living costs. The company says if the program is successful, it may extend the layaway throughout the year.

Index Indicators Examine Economic Health 

A new monthly index by the U.S. National Association of Home Builders will examine metropolitan areas that have shown sustained economic improvement. The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) measures three key economic areas ‒ housing permits, employment, and housing prices ‒ during a six-month or more period. Metro areas on the inaugural list include New Orleans, LA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Anchorage, AK.


Disaster Resistant Housing Plant To Open  

Innovative Composites International Inc. is building a plant in Orangeburg County, SC. The plant will operate under the name EcoScapes Composites LLC to make houses that can be put together in about two days. Innovative Composites, the Toronto, ON-based parent company, says the homes are earthquake and hurricane resistant and a good housing solution after major disasters or for temporary locations like mining camps. Production should begin early next year.

Lowe’s Opens Fourth Georgia Distribution Centre

Lowe’s is set to build a $125 million distribution centre in Rome, GA. The 1.4 million square-foot facility will serve stores in western Georgia, northern Florida, and Alabama beginning in 2013. Lowe's operates three other supply-chain facilities in Georgia. These are located in Palmetto, Savannah, and Valdosta.

2012 Paint Forecast

A blushy, lively, juicy red will be the 2012 colour of the year, says CIL Paints. The paint brand says red can brighten the mood or add a sense of depth to any room. Other colours forecast to be popular for the 2012 paint palette are rusty oranges, creamy yellows, forest greens, inky blues, deep purples, and warm neutral tones.

Canadian Consumer Sentiment Down

Canadian consumer confidence fell sharply in the third quarter to 77.5 in August from 83.7 last quarter, says a Harris-Decima Research survey. Despite the decline, one-in-four Canadians feel they will be better off financially a year from now ‒ the same number as three months ago. Meanwhile, in the U.S., consumer sentiment fell even further, dropping to 55.7.


TIM-BR Mart Supporting Canadian Hockey

TIM-BR Mart is running its third-annual World Junior Hockey Video Challenge to give a minor league hockey team the chance to be rinkside at the World Junior Hockey Championship this December in Edmonton, AB. Teams can upload their team spirit videos at timbrtube.ca and Canadians will vote in November. The winning team will be given round-trip transportation, accommodations, meals, and tickets to World Juniors games December 27 to 30. The Video Challenge is part of the company’s ongoing sponsorship of Hockey Canada and the World Juniors. Dealers across Canada will be supporting the contest with in-store signage and ongoing promotions in their flyers as well as their community outreach efforts to customers, hockey parents, coaches, and teams.

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September 8, 2011

Bad News Hurts Small Business Confidence

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)'s Business Barometer Index dropped to 61.7 last month from its July level of 68.3, the lowest reading since July 2009. Ted Mallett, its chief economist, says although confidence suffered from recent market turmoil, owner views of actual current business conditions held up reasonably well. The largest index declines were in Ontario and Quebec which dropped eight points and five points respectively to near the 60 mark. Alberta businesses remain the country's most optimistic with an index score of 75. Saskatchewan follows at 69.1 while British Columbia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador are clustered around the 65 level.

CFL Bulbs Save Money Faster

Consumers typically take less than a year to recoup the cost of most CFL light bulbs, while LEDs can take four to 10 years to pay for themselves due to the high cost of the bulb, says Consumer Reports’ ratings. The report on the new lightning technology facing consumers concluded both CFL and LED bulbs have overcome many problems that challenged earlier versions of these energy efficient bulbs. However, CFLs save money faster due to their low cost. CFLs also now have less mercury (60 to 75 per cent less than in 2008) without affecting performance.

Retailer Ventures Into U.S.

Department store Lord & Taylor has opened its first Lord & Taylor Home store in the U.S. The location will sell kitchen, bath, and bedroom merchandise including furniture and rugs. Its parent company, Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay Trading Co., says its experience selling home furnishings in Canada prompted the decision to develop a home goods business in the U.S. A second New Jersey location will open in several weeks.

Employees Receive Sustainability Training

Approximately 1,000 CertainTeed Gypsum employees in the U.S. and Canada have undergone a sustainability-training program offered by the company. Several of the company’s territory sales managers and marketing professionals have earned their Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate credential, which provides building professionals with a value-added resource when selecting products and implementing sustainable building solutions. The training program implemented at the company’s plants focused heavily on water conservation, waste reduction, and energy conservation as employees were trained in best practices and encouraged to find creative solutions that increase efficiency, eliminate waste, and enhance recycling efforts. As a result, the company has reduced waste by 20 per cent over the course of two years. 

September 8 Product Spotlight

• The Delta In2ition showerhead features a detachable hand shower which can run separately or simultaneously, giving the homeowner the warmth and flexibility of two streams of water at once. It is offered in chrome, Venetian Bronze, and Brilliance Stainless with a six-foot tangle-free hose.
• CertainTeed’s CertaForm is a flexible form solution made of cellular polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that does not absorb moisture, is chemical resistant, cleans quickly, and does not warp or crack. CertaForm performs like wood and can be easily drilled, nailed, and staked. The product's durability allows it to be reused multiple times and it is easy to transport and store.
• PORTER-CABLE’s 4½″ Small Angle Grinders are designed to offer contractors performance, ergonomics, ease-of-use, and durability. Both come with a 6 AMP motor that delivers 11,000 RPM for tough jobsite applications including grinding and cutting metal, cleaning and finishing surfaces, and tuckpointing.
• Stanley’s FatMax Ratcheting T-handle ratcheting 30-piece set includes a professional-grade ¼″ ratcheting T-handle with a bi-material feature to help maximize comfort and minimize fatigue. The three-position ratcheting handle features a removable side-position bit slot which uses the side of the handle to gain leverage and achieve high torque.
• Black & Decker’s All-In-One SureGrip Laser Level attaches securely via a suction cup to non-porous smooth surfaces for up to two hours – without marks – letting you have your hands free to tackle any project. The level’s magnetic attachment enables the laser to rotate 360 degrees so the laser line can be directed left or right, which is ideal for hanging shelves, racks, or several object in sequence.
• IDEAL 480 Series of advanced digital multi-metres gives commercial and industrial electricians a higher level of measurement accuracy, versatility, and safety. Compact for one-handed operation, the products offer RMS voltage and current measurements, 6000-count resolution, an analog bar graph, active backlight LCD display, Auto-VLoZ to eliminate ghost voltages, and VoltSense non-contact voltage detection. 
• Milwaukee Tool’s family of ‘6 in 1’ tools will reduce the number of hand tools needed to complete common applications such as reaming pipe, cutting nails, pulling wire, and cutting bolts.  The ‘6 in 1’ will be offered as lineman’s pliers, diagonal cutting pliers, combination wire pliers, and long nose pliers.
• Fiskars' Garden Bucket Caddy has pockets to fit all sizes of tools, pruners, seeds, and water bottles for garden tasks. The device attaches to a five gallon bucket (not included) with Velcro and is made of canvas.

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September 7, 2011

Experience And Satisfaction Drive Decisions

In the face of economic uncertainty, Canadian small businesses focus on customer experience and employee satisfaction to drive decision-making around managing rising costs, says the American Express ‘Small Business Monitor.’ It says small business owners find significant value in investing in customer and employee loyalty over short-term financial gain, with almost half (47 per cent) agreeing they would rather reduce profitability than risk losing customers due to price increases. When changes must be made that could impact the customer, including price increases, the report shows that 78 per cent of small business owners have taken steps to make price increases more palatable, including explaining the reason for the increase (61 per cent), extending payment terms (18 per cent), and offering discounts for paying early (16 per cent).

Yankee Candle In Canada

The Yankee Candle Company has opened its first retail stores in Canada. The stores are all in Ontario and are located in Pickering, St. Catharine's, and Hamilton. Stores will be opened this month in the greater Toronto area, Barrie, and Kitchener. The stores will carry a selection of Yankee Candle products ranging from candles and home fragrance products to candle accessories and gift sets. The openings are a part of the company's global expansion efforts.

Saint-Gobain Buys Wolseley Businesses

Saint Gobain has acquired two businesses of Wolseley Group ‒ Build Center and Brossette. Build Center is a national builder's merchant and building supplier with branches supplying products and services across the UK to trade customers. The network also includes specialist branches in timber, ironmongery, landscaping, and glass. Brossette is a distributor of plumbing supplies and pipes, valves, and fittings in France. The acquisition enables Saint-Gobain to enhance its position in the plumbing, heating, and sanitary distribution business in France and Europe.

Weak Employment Impedes Economic Recovery

The Consumer Reports Sentiment Index rose to 48.8, up from 43.4 in August showing signs that sentiment in the U.S. is improving after plummeting to its lowest level in nearly two years. The figure represents the percentage of people saying they were financially better off versus worse off than they were a year ago. The most optimistic consumers were age 18 to 34 (56.4) and households with income of $100,000 or more (56.1), while the most pessimistic were households with income less than $50,000 (44.5) and those who are age 65 and older (40.1). 

Lexicon Renegotiates Manufacturing Agreement

Lexicon has successfully renegotiated its manufacturing supply agreement with Woodbridge Group (Polylink Division), extending it until 2021. For the first time in its history, credit arrangements have been set and no longer will it have to make payments or deposits to Polylink in order to have products produced and shipped.

New Leadership At CertainTeed

Tom Smith is president of CertainTeed roofing and Mark Rayfield is president of the siding products group. In his new role, Smith is responsible for residential and commercial roofing as well as the solar business. He joined the company in 1999 as vice-president of commercial roofing and joined the siding products group in 2005. Rayfield previously served as vice-president and general manager for Saint-Gobain Abrasives in North America and vice-president for Superabrasives Worldwide. He will oversee the company’s vinyl, fibre cement, and polymer shake siding, fence, railing, deck, and cellular PVC trim product lines.

Green Energy Field Day Comes to Ontario

The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) is hosting the first province-wide green energy day on September 24. Local businesses, farms, schools, companies, and organizations will have the opportunity to showcase their green energy project at a doors open public event. Participating locations include Toronto, Cobden, Reaboro, and Mississauga, with scheduled events ranging from biogas facility tours to a photovoltaic design and installation course.  To register a project or find a local project to tour, visit www.whattsnext.ca

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September 6, 2011

Milwaukee Hand Tool Expansion

Following the launch of its hand tool business in 2010, Milwaukee Tool is expanding into three new categories, including pliers, snips, and PEX cutting. The new hand tools specifically include quick adjust reaming pliers, tongue and groove pliers, aviation snips, and a PEX/tubing cutter.  Additionally, Milwaukee will introduce a family of ‘6 in 1’ tools that will reduce the number of hand tools needed to complete common applications such as reaming pipe, cutting nails, pulling wire, cutting bolts, and more. The ‘6 in 1’ tools will be offered as lineman’s pliers, diagonal cutting pliers, combination wire pliers, and long nose pliers.

Mobile App Gives Hardwood Information  

The American Hardwood Information Center has launched an American Hardwood Species Guide Mobile App for professionals. Apple and Android mobile device users can visit www.HardwoodInfo.com to use the app, which includes information about many of the popular American hardwood species, profiling appearance, physical and working properties, availability and typical applications of each. A stain simulator displays the species in clear, light, medium and dark finishes to help visualize stain combinations of flooring, cabinetry, moulding, and furniture co-existing in a single design space.

Weyerhaeuser Returns To Old Identity

Weyerhaeuser will transition all of its wood products back to the Weyerhaeuser name. Going forward, the ‘iLevel by Weyerhaeuser’ business will simply be known as Weyerhaeuser to “simplify customer contacts and leverage the widespread recognition of the Weyerhaeuser identity,” the company says. Customers will still have access to the same sales representatives and building materials, including the full range of engineering wood products.

Back To School Paint Palettes

PARA Paints wants to help students get ready for the new school year with paint colours that fit their personalities and interests. The company is recommending colours that coincide with students’ extracurricular activities, such as ‘Drama Queen’ for the acting enthusiast, ‘Home Run’ for the athlete, ‘Great Expectations’ for the scholar, and ‘Spring Break’ for the social butterfly. The company is also hosting a contest on their Facebook page for students to win a gallon of PARA paint for their room makeover.

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September 2, 2011

Slow Improvements For U.S. Retail

The United States retail environment appears set to rebound slightly in the latter part of 2011, says the Retail Sales Outlook’ report from KubasPrimedia. While retail sales were up 8.5 per cent in the first half of 2011 ‒ the best first half in 10 years ‒ much was driven by automotive and gas prices. Store retail was up 4.5 per cent, slowly and consistently improving since 2009. Household appliances were still languishing, however, with a 6.1 per cent drop.

Further Investigations Into Chinese Product

The Chinese Drywall Complaint Center intends to expand its investigations involving toxic or defective imported Chinese-made building products. The consumer interest group says the problem of defective drywall deserves more attention from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and also raised concern over imported Chinese leather furniture. The group has determined there may be hundreds or thousands of other imported building products from China that are either toxic, defective, or both.

Construction Spending Still Low

Builders cut back on spending by the largest amount in six months in July with sharp reductions in outlays for government building projects, says the U.S. Commerce Department. Construction spending fell 1.3 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $789.5 billion which is 3.5 per cent above an 11-year low hit in March, but it is still only about half the $1.5 trillion that economists view as a healthy level for construction. Economists believe it could take four years before construction activity returns to more normal levels. The weakness in July reflected a 2.1 per cent drop in spending on government building projects, which fell to the slowest pace since late 2006. Spending on residential construction fell 1.4 per cent, reflecting a big drop in spending on home improvement projects.

Craftsman Line Surges At Retail Locations

Ace Hardware Corporation will be offering more than 1,050 Craftsman products in more than 1,000 retail stores across the U.S. in a continuing effort to boost its tool department. In May 2010, an initial 10 stores began selling Craftsman-brand hand tools, portable and bench top power tools, pneumatic tools and compressors, wet/dry vacs, and tool storage items. More than 1,200 of its stores will carry a full line assortment, including mowers, tractors, hand-held power equipment, snow throwers, and garden hoses by year’s end.

Americans Kept Shopping In August

Despite higher prices for goods, stock market swings, and natural disasters, revenue in August among 26 retailers was up 4.6 per cent at stores open at least a year, a key industry measure, says the International Council of Shopping Centers. Retailers' revenue results are closely monitored because consumer spending accounts for 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity and is critical for a strong economy. Last month's revenue gains underscore the changing shopping habits of consumers, who now are thriftier, but willing to spend on essentials, especially for their children.

Canada House To Host Showcase

As part of Greenbuild, North America’s largest green building conference taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre October 4 to 7, 2011, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is hosting Canada House, a pavilion featuring Canada’s world-class green building technologies and expertise. With 20,000 delegates, Greenbuild is the industry’s largest gathering of representatives from all sectors of the green building movement. Companies looking to participate can contact www.greenbuildmatchmaking.com

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September 1, 2011

Retail Sales Growth Set To Rebound

The Canadian retail environment appears set to rebound slightly in the latter part of 2011, says the ‘Retail Sales Outlook’ report from KubasPrimedia. While Canadian retail sales were up 3.3 per cent in the first half of 2011, the report says underlying problems were masked by a 9.5 per cent increase in the automotive sector. Store retail was the weakest it has been in at least five years, with a 0.1 per cent increase in sales. Building material and garden equipment and supplies saw a 5.2 per cent decline.

iPad Compatible Shopping Carts Rolled Out 

Sainsbury is the first supermarket to roll out a shopping cart that is compatible with the iPad. The iPad shopping trolley was designed for the UK retailer by Sky and enables users to shop using their iPads hands-free. The trolley has a secure dock on-board, which comes complete with a solar panel charging facility.

Retailer Implements Divisional Structure

Lowe's Co. is restructuring its store and merchandising organizations, a move, the company says, which will result in a speedier delivery of new products and services to the market. The company's U.S. stores will now operate under three divisions ‒ North, South, and West ‒ and the divisional structure will be streamlined to 14 national regions from 21. Each division will be led by a senior vice-president, reporting to Rick D. Damron, executive vice-president of store operations. Lowe's merchandising operations, meanwhile, have been reorganized into two divisions ‒ building and outdoor products and kitchen, bath, and home decor products.

CertainTeed Boosts Sustainable Appeal

CertainTeed is changing its kraft-faced fibreglass insulation by incorporating paper certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standard, the world’s largest single international forest certification standard. The certification indicates that the kraft paper in the company’s insulation products is sourced from responsible forestry practices, helping the company minimize its environmental impact. All of the company’s insulation products can help building professionals qualify toward credits for both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) through the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Building Program.

Hart Stores Restructuring

Hart Stores Inc. has obtained an initial order for court protection from creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. The company, which owns mid-sized department stores throughout Eastern Canada, says the move would allow its locations to operate while it restructures to develop a viable business plan for future operations. The company operates a network of 92 mid-sized department stores under the Hart, Bargain Giant, and Geant des Aubaines banners in secondary and tertiary markets throughout Eastern Canada.

Lawn And Garden To Approach $19 Billion

World power lawn and garden equipment demand is forecast to rise 4.8 per cent yearly to $18.9 billion in 2015, says The Freedonia Group Inc. The ‘World Power Lawn & Garden Equipment’ study reports that overall growth in equipment sales will be promoted by an improvement in housing activity in the key U.S. and West European markets. North America and Western Europe will continue to be the dominant markets, together comprising more than 85 per cent of demand in 2015. While industry sales will post a strong rebound through 2015, longer-term growth will be more moderate due to slowing product pricing gains.


September 1 Product Spotlight

• Lechuza’s Cilindro is a German engineered self-watering planter system. A liner holds the plant suspended in soil and a bottom layer of Lechuza-Pon, a special mineral-based granular growing medium. Beneath this section is a reservoir filled with water which, via a shaft that reaches to the top of the planter, controls the supply of water providing weeks of carefree maintenance. It is available in white, granite, mocha, and black finishes and comes in a 16″ or 22″ inch tall model.
• The True Professional Series Beverage Dispenser from True Refrigeration lets homeowners enjoy cold, crisp beer at home as a free-standing appliance or built-in to a space. It accommodates one quarter-barrel of brew or two 1/6 barrels, and comes complete with all necessary hardware, including the CO2 tank. 
• Fulgor Milano’s Largo 400 Series of gas cook tops offer up to 18,000 BTU of cooking power. It is available in the four-burner 24″ model, five-burner 30″ model, two different 36″ models, and a 42″ model. It is equipped with a stainless steel deck and black cast iron grates and will be available in December.
• The AeroDuster surface prep tool from the Wooster Brush Company ensures walls are dust-free prior to painting, and can also be used for everyday cleaning. Made with specially treated yarn, the 9½″ triangular tool collects and traps dust particles, cobwebs, and pet hair on walls, ceilings, baseboards, and floors.
• Napoleon’s Outdoor Touch is a fully enclosed single flame design outdoor fireplace made with weather resistant stainless steel. It does not require venting and can be installed in any new construction or renovation projects or existing structures. 
• The Little Black Dress is a super-thin storage solution from Umbra designed for jewelry, beauty items, and knick-knacks. Contents are visible at a glance and it can be hung in the closet, on a wall, or on the back of a door.
• Sonoma Cast Stone makes interior or exterior cladding in sustainable EarthCrete concrete, taken from the landfills. It's available as classic concrete, stain-free NuCrete, or MetalCrete embedded with powdered metal. The lightweight interlocking panels vary in size and shape.
Delta’s Addison lavatory faucet with Touch2O.xt lets users turn the water on or off by approaching the faucet’s sensing field or tapping the faucet anywhere on the spout or handle – perfect for shaving or brushing teeth.

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