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Task Tools Celebrates 40th

Task Tools & Abrasives, a family-owned business, is celebrating 40 years of selling tools to North American hardware retail businesses. Specializing in power tool accessories, hand tools, abrasives, and leather goods and accessories, it now has more than 4,000 SKUs and sells to more than 4,000 retailers. In celebration of this milestone the company is adding more than 300 new products to its contractor grade Task line and entry level Tuf-E-Nuf line.

Premium Appliances Debut

The new line of premium appliances from Electrolux has debuted in Canada. Special guests at the debut were HGTV's The Designer Guys – Anwar, Matt, and Allen. In Europe for the past 70 years, the Canadian line will feature 120 SKUs.  

H. Paulin Appoints CFO

Murray Mateyk is chief financial officer for H. Paulin & Co. Limited. He brings more than 23 years of business and financial management experience to the company.

Show Provides ‘Ultimate Opportunity’

“The National Hardware Show provides the ultimate opportunity for independent, specialty, and big box retailers,” says Dean Russo, senior vice-president for the National Hardware Show. He says its customized programming enhances retailers’ experiences at the show and makes it effortless to locate the latest and greatest products and industry trends and then interpret those trends for their customers and unique trading areas and conditions.” This year’s show features 3,500 exhibitors representing 150 product categories. It takes place May 6 to 8 in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, visit http://www.nationalhardwareshow.com/
 

Environmentally Friendly Paint


ICI Paints and The Home Depot are launching an environmentally friendly paint in the U.S. The Freshaire Choice Paint is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is backed by a lifetime guarantee and GREENGUARD certification. It features a palette of 66 colours through its tinting system.


Home Depot Settles Shareholder Suits

Home Depot will pay $6 million in cash and $8.5 million in stock to cover legal fees and expenses and adopt various corporate governance reforms to settle combined shareholders' suits. The corporate governance changes include allowing shareholder questions at meetings and allowing large or group shareholders to nominate directors. The suits were filed after revelations that the company's board of directors had been backdating the stock options granted to executives and had manipulated the company's ‘return to vendor’ program, under which suppliers are billed for supposedly damaged or returned merchandise.

84 Lumber Closes 30 Stores

84 Lumber will close 30 stores across the U.S. as a result of slow housing starts and other unfavorable market conditions. Some will be consolidated into larger locations, while in other cases the company will exit the markets. All of the locations are owned by 84 Lumber, and the property will be sold. The closings and consolidations will leave 84 Lumber with 368 stores and 13 component manufacturing facilities in 37 states. Several stores and assembly plants have been mothballed and will be reopened when the market recovers.


Lowe’s Adding Two Toronto Area Stores

Lowe’s will further expand its presence in Canada with stores in Whitby and Toronto, ON. Site work has already started on the Whitby store with an anticipated opening date in early 2009. A former Wal-Mart store will be demolished to accommodate the new Lowe’s store. That store also has a planned opening date in 2009. 

Reliance Gets Financing

Integrated Asset Management Corp. and its private corporate debt group, Integrated Private Debt Corp. have announced financing of $30 million in an offering of 10-year interest only senior secured notes to Reliance LP. The financing is part of Reliance’s U.S. private placement which was influential in the structuring of Reliance’s public placement financing in Canada. The notes were sold on a private placement basis through Royal Bank Capital Markets and Citigroup. Privately-owned, Reliance rents, installs, and services home comfort products for residential and commercial customers, namely water heaters, HVAC equipment and security systems, and monitoring services.

Consumers Drive Economy

Canadian exporters continue to struggle with a strong loonie and faltering U.S. economy. However, consumers will remain the driving force for national economic growth of 2.2 per cent this year, says the Conference Board's ‘Canadian Outlook – Spring 2008.’ Many Canadians seem undaunted by the slowdown south of the border. Canada's domestic economy surged at the end of 2007 as consumers opened their wallets. Consumer spending has only matched this pace of growth once in the last 30 years, in the third quarter of 1985," says Pedro Antunes, director, national and provincial forecast. "As 2008 goes on, we expect that households will continue to spend strongly this year." Consumer spending grew by an annualized rate of 7.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007. 

Home Hardware Catalogue Out

Home Hardware’s 2008 annual catalogue is now out. It says the catalogue is an important part of its annual outreach to consumers across Canada. However, as part of its ongoing commitment to the environment, it is printed on recycled paper and uses only environmentally friendly inks. Home Hardware has more than 1,000 stores across Canada and annual retail sales of $4.8 billion.

Chicago Hosts NeoCon Fair

NeoCon World’s Trade Fair will take place June 9 to 11 in Chicago, IL. Billed as the world’s largest conference and exposition for interior design and facilities management, it features thousands of products and resources as well as more than 1,200 showrooms and exhibitors for corporate hospitality, healthcare, retail, government, institutional, and residential interiors from. As well, attendees can see product introductions and learn about future market trends. For more information, visit
http://www.merchandisemart.com/neocon/

Home Hardware Offers Renewable Products

Three renewable, high-performing gardening products made from coir have hit the shelves at Home Hardware nation-wide. Coir is fast gaining international notoriety for its eco-friendly horticultural applications. Many growers have been using it with great success for years. The products are Natura brand BeyondPeat, BeyondMulch, and BeyondTwine.

Woodbridge Distributes Insulock Block

American Insulock, Inc. has entered into a joint development agreement with Woodbridge Foam Corporation to manufacture and distribute its Insulock Block. Woodbridge Foam is a Canadian company with 62 facilities operating in 21 countries, and is a global leader in the development and production of polyurethane products. Insulock Block is clean technology designed to conserve and reduce greenhouse gases. 

NBMDA Customizing Economic Reports

The North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA) is partnering with the Institute for Trend Research (ITR) to develop a series of customized economic reports for NBMDA members. Produced four times per year, the report will correlate macroeconomic data to specific product categories directly related to the building material distribution industry. It allows member companies to forecast what effect the economy has on their business and what they can reasonably expect for up to six quarters in the future.

AHMA Creates Buying Consortium

The American Hardware Manufacturers Association (AHMA) has launched a buying consortium. Advantage GPO gives members the ability to take advantage of the buying power of more than 450 companies to leverage pricing on items ranging from raw materials to office supplies from more than 110 endorsed suppliers. AHMA members, as well as other industry manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, can join.

Consumers Demand More Self-Service Options

A growing legion of North American consumers use self-service in their everyday lives, and the latest research from NCR Corporation shows an increasing percentage of individuals actually favour businesses that offer ‘do-it-myself’ options. The third annual NCR Self-Service Consumer survey reveals that 86 per cent of Canadian and U.S. consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers the flexibility to interact using self-service – whether via the Internet, on a mobile device, or at a kiosk or Automated Teller Machine (ATM). That’s an increase of 11 per cent over those who gave the same response in last year’s study. Moreover, 56 per cent say their likelihood to use self-service has increased over the past year.


RONA Launches ECO Brand

RONA inc. has launched the first line of its ECO brand products. The products will be available in RONA stores across Canada over the next days. The first ECO items available to consumers are cleaning products and biodegradable bags for organic waste. The products have been selected in partnership with the Ecole Polytechnique's International Chair in Life Cycle Assessment, a research unit with CIRAIG, the Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services.

Lifetime Partners With Accent-Fairchild

Lifetime Brands, a U.S housewares maker, has formed a strategic partnership with Toronto-based Accent-Fairchild Group to expand its offerings in the Canadian market. Under the proposed agreement, Lifetime will make available certain brands and products to Accent-Fairchild, which will, in turn, distribute the products directly to Canadian retailers. Accent-Fairchild formerly sold certain Lifetime products under the name Target Home Products. It will re-brand itself as LTB Canada. Lifetime Brands designs, develops, manufactures, and markets housewares under names including KitchenAid, Farberware, Cuisinart, and Pfaltzgraff. 

Electrolux Teams Up With Ripa

Electrolux is tapping Kelly Ripa for the North America launch of its new premium kitchen appliance line. Ripa is co-host of the Live with Regis and Kelly television program. The new appliances are loaded with features such as a Perfect Turkey Button – one button you push to cook a perfect turkey; Luxury-Glide Racks – patented ball-bearing oven racks that effortlessly extend at the touch of a finger; and an induction hybrid cooktop that boils water in 90 seconds. The entire collection is available nationwide at independent retailers and at mass merchandisers including Sears, The Brick, Leon’s, Brault et Martineau, and Coast Wholesale Appliances. In tapping Ripa, Electrolux hopes to attract consumers who relate to her on-the-go lifestyle where she juggles – effortlessly it seems – her career, family, and community outreach/volunteerism.

2008 ABSDA Event Shows Improvement

Attendance numbers for this year’s Atlantic Building Materials Show, held March 13 to 15, grew over last. John Logan, membership services officer for the Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association (ABSDA), revealed that 1,179 retailers attended this year’s show, up from 1,101 in 2007. Attendance by ABSDA members also grew to 84 per cent in 2008, another sign of improvement, Logan says. The region’s major buying groups had a strong presence at the event with TIM-BR MART, Home Hardware, Castle, BMR, RONA, and Sexton represented.

Canada The Test For Lowe’s

As Canada goes, so will Lowe’s expansion into other international markets, says Don Stallings, president of Lowe’s Canada. Speaking at the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association’s 2008 Spring Conference & Annual General Meeting, he said despite views to the contrary, there is potential for growth in Canada. He said, for example, there is currently about 14 square feet of retail space per Canadian consumer, compared to 21 square feet for each U.S. consumer. As well, forecasts are for three to six per cent annual growth in the home improvement market over the next few years. People see value in improving their homes and, unlike in the U.S. where the subprime mortgage crisis has frozen bank lending, lending institutions in Canada are willing to lend homeowners the money to make them.  

RONA Opens Halifax Store

RONA inc. has opened a 100,000-square-foot store in Halifax, ON. RONA now operates a network of seven stores in Nova Scotia, 25 stores in Atlantic Canada, and more than 680 stores across the country. Along with its sales area, the store boasts a 3,000 square- foot greenhouse and a 25,000 square-foot outdoor garden centre as well as a 20,000 square-foot drive-through indoor lumberyard and a 25,000 square-foot drive-through exterior lumberyard. It offers a full selection of more than 33,000 different products. 

Hagborg Manages Distribution Centre


Rob Hagborg is national distribution centre Manager for TruServ Canada Inc. He has more than 20 years experience in logistics with Canada Safeway. During the last two years, he was director of distribution in Edmonton, AB, and has worked in 20 different facilities in North America as a project manager.  He will be based in the Winnipeg, MB, Distribution Centre.


MAAX Markets Business

MAAX Corporation has developed and is pursuing a sales process to market its business in the pursuit of its overall objective of reducing its debt and improving its capital structure and liquidity. Paul Golden, president and CEO, says “Our goal is to reduce the company's debt and remain a successful North American competitor in a rapidly changing marketplace." It also announced that it had reached an Amended and Restated Forbearance Agreement with its senior secured lenders, Brookfield Bridge Lending Fund Inc. and HSBC Bank Canada. As part of the agreement, the lenders will increase the Canadian revolving commitments to $55 million which represents an increase in its credit facility of $30 million. Under the terms of the agreement, the company will continue to have full access to its revolving credit facility. The extension will be effective through to June 12.

Home Depot Builds In Mexico

Home Depot plans to build a new multi-channel distribution centre in Pachuca, Mexico. The 42,000 square-metre distribution centre will serve 60 stores and handle $600 million in products a year. It should be in operation by the end of this year.

Buymart 2008 Runs June 2 And 3


Holland Imports Buymart 2008 takes place June 2 and 3
in Burnaby, BC. Open to all retailers and wholesalers from hardware stores, building centres, industrial suppliers, and nurseries/garden centres across Canada, it features 10,000 square feet of showroom displays and 30,000 square feet of warehouse displays. For more information, call 800-916-9385 or eMail sales@hollandimports.com

Gillespie Takes BC Position

Les Gillespie is business development manager, British Columbia region, for Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. He brings many years of industry knowledge and experience to the position, most recently serving with CanWel Hardware in British Columbia.

Kingfisher Ends With Profit

Kingfisher plc is reporting an annual profit of $786.6 million for the year ended February 2, down 2.8 per cent from a year earlier. Overall sales were up 7.9 per cent to $19.1 billion, but profits were affected by its B&Q stores in Asia. In the UK, sales were up 2.7 per cent and, in France, profits rose 13.2 per cent. 

WD-40 Moves To Smart Straw

WD-40 Company is converting its 8-, 11- and 12-ounce aerosol cans sold in the United States to the Smart Straw design. The Smart Straw features a permanently attached straw that sprays two ways – flipped down for a wide spray or flipped up for a pinpoint stream to help apply WD-40 into hard-to-reach places. It says for 55 years, the only consistent product complaint with WD-40 has revolved around consumers and trade professionals losing that little red straw. 

Sico Launches Interactive Web Tool

Sico Paints has developed an interactive web tool that allows customers to choose paint colours, products, and finishes, from the comfort of home. The tool was developed in recognition of the fact that once in store, a large percentage of consumers still don’t know what paint to buy. The site – accessed at www.sico.ca – combines an interactive video with a Virtual Decorator tool that walks consumers step-by-step through the decorating process. Website visitors have the option of selecting décor options through the video and then proceeding to the Virtual Decorator, or going directly to the decorating tool.

‘Pinball’ Endorsing Brite

Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons, former all-star running back of the Toronto Argonauts and current of the team, will act as a spokesperson for Brite Composite Decking. He will appear in magazines ads, on the radio, at select industry events, and in their point of purchase marketing literature. Brite Composite Decking is sold at Home Depot, Home Hardware, and other retail lumberyards. 

Net Zero Building Envelopes Achievable

Is it possible to construct a net zero building which is comfortable, practical, and consumes zero energy per year? It’s achievable, but only if a building envelope can maximize the natural potential surrounding it, says Albert Bicol, of Cobalt Engineering. Speaking at the Building Envelope Solutions Conference, he said as energy demands and costs mount, it’s time for building envelope systems to take on passive designs that utilize simple, yet highly useful, elements when considering heat and ventilation, aspects of thermal comfort, the pros and cons of regional climates, radiant energy, and glazing performance.

Chinese Planks Fail To Meet Standard

Non-certified Chinese laminated veneer lumber (LVL) used as scaffolding planks failed to meet the design property embossed on the product after APA put several samples through mechanical evaluations. The results are summarized in its product advisory, Imported Chinese LVL Scaffold Plank (http://www.apawood.org/). Even though the sample size was limited, the performance of the tested planks was substantially below the value proclaimed by the manufacturer and end users are advised to be wary of all non-certified product. While the planks were labeled 2.2E – which means they should have a modulus of elasticity (MOE) of 2.2 million pounds per square inch (psi) – the 30 test specimens averaged 1.8 million psi, which is about 20 per cent below the proclaimed value. 

Can-Cell Partners With Holmes

Can-Cell Industries is partnering with The Holmes Foundation in the western provinces. The objective of the foundation is to urge people to understand and respect construction and the construction trades so that parents, teachers, and students will consider the trades when thinking about careers. To help facilitate this, The Holmes Foundation is selling boxes of chocolate covered almonds as its fundraiser for 2008 and they will be available at participating Can-Cell building suppliers in western Canada.

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BMR Creates New Banner

Groupe BMR Inc. has created a new banner specializing in hardware. BMR Hardware will allow the company to widen its network of retailers and to occupy “an important niche in both rural and urban areas,” says Yves Gagnon, president and chief executive officer. He noted in less than a month, it has already brought 10 new members to BMR Hardware in Ontario, the Maritimes, and Quebec. Gagnon says the banner is in response to a number of inquiries in recent years from hardware stores approaching BMR about supplying them with hardware products.  
 
Canadian Tire Kills Catalogue

Canadian Tire Corp. is phasing out the printed edition of its catalogue. Instead, it will move the publication online. It says people are using it less and it will save it the cost of paper, printing, and mailing. These savings will be directed to other advertising, its website, and developing targeted communications for customers. It has published the catalogue for nearly nine decades.
 
Fewer Small Businesses Consider Expansion

Only 22 per cent of small businesses in Canada are considering expansion in the next 12 to 24 months, says the Small Business Research Board. This is the second consecutive quarter that the percentage of owners and managers considering expanding their businesses has declined. The percentage considering expansion dropped five points from the 27 per cent who were considering expansion during the third quarter of 2007.  During the second quarter, 34 per cent said they intended to expand. Of those who intend to expand, most will concentrate on product and service offerings as well as customer service enhancements to grow their operations.  
 
Richelieu Sales Up In Canada

Richelieu Hardware sales increased by three per cent in Canada in the first quarter, driven by a solid performance in the kitchen cabinet makers and residential and commercial woodworking segments as well as gains in the hardware retailers and renovation superstore market. In the United States, sales grew by more than 11 per cent. Overall sales were a record $96.1 million. 
 
NCR Attacks Sales Receipt Fraud

With North American retail losses from organized crime activities reaching the $40 billion mark annually, and growing, NCR Corporation is trying to help retailers reduce inventory shrinkage through sales receipt fraud. Its Systemedia Division is offering eight different security inks – each one designed to make it more difficult for criminals to copy or manipulate POS sales receipts. It says one major retailer has reported that one roll of counterfeit receipts could amount to a loss of $10,000 dollars.


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RONA Opens Candiac Store

RONA Inc. has opened a 105,000-square-foot Réno-Dépôt store in Candiac, QC. At the opening were Pierre Dandoy, RONA executive vice-president, big box stores; Marcel Lussier , Brossard – La Prairie MP ; André J. Côté , mayor of Candiac; Luc Warren, Candiac Reno-Dépôt general manager; Monique Roy Verville, La Prairie MNA ; Mario St-Louis, RONA vice-president, big box stores (Quebec and Eastern Canada); Marc Ducharme and Josée Lacoursière, representatives of Bénado; and Robert Dutton, RONA president and CEO.
 
RIMA Goes International

The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association (RIMA) has changed the association name to the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association International (RIMA International), effective immediately. With more international companies joining the association in the past two years, it has become more actively involved in industry issues worldwide. A new international division has been formed which will focus specifically on issues facing reflective insulation, radiant barrier, and IRCC companies outside of North America in the areas of standards development, education, and awareness. 

Can-Save, SuperSeal Partnering With Holmes Foundation

Can-Save and SuperSeal are partnering with The Holmes Foundation. The objective of The Holmes Foundation is to urge people to understand and respect construction and the construction trades so that parents, teachers, and students will consider the trades when thinking about careers. To help facilitate this, The Holmes Foundation is selling boxes of chocolate covered almonds as its fundraiser for 2008 and they will be available at participating building suppliers across Canada.
 
RONA Helps Halifax Charities

RONA inc. is helping two Halifax, NS, charities. Members of the its How-To Team have been working on a variety of projects including building a sound barrier for the Boys and Girls Club of Spryfield’s music area and creating other storage solutions for the club. At Phoenix Youth Programs, the team is repairing shelving, doors, walls, steps, and furniture. All building and finishing material used by the team is donated by RONA.

Markham Mower Hosts Demo Day

Markham Mower, in Markham, ON, is one of the first stores to host a Toro Demo Days. The new program takes Toro mowers into communities so that consumers and professional landscapers can see the equipment first hand and try it out. About 60 stores have signed up for the program this year and the event in Markham attracted more than 120 people to the store.
 
RCR Distributes Easy Screen

RCR International Inc. is distributing Easy Screen’s line of Deco Screen products. Designed specifically for gazebos and patio doors, the Deco Screen line offers greater privacy, while making it possible to retain visual contact with the home’s outdoor environment. These screens are available in a number of attractive motifs harmonizing with every type of décor.

Budget Offers ‘Measure Of Hope’

The Ontario budget responded in part to recommendations made by small businesses, but there is still room for improvement, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says. The big wins for independent businesses are the acceleration of the business education property tax cut in Northern Ontario, capital tax rebates for manufacturers, and firm commitments on regulatory reform, it says. However, while there are a number of positive measures in this budget, much remains to be done to keep Ontario competitive – particularly on corporate income taxation, says the federation.
 
Inquiry Into Home Depot Bribes Continues

A civil complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, GA, alleges four Home Depot merchants were the recipients of vehicles, properties, appliances, cash sums, and other gifts, says a report in Home Channel News. While criminal charges have not been filed, the civil complaint, filed December 2007, alleges mail and wire fraud and attempted money laundering. Most of the alleged bribes took place from late 2005 to July 2007. Home Depot is co-operating with the authorities in their investigation. The merchants were terminated last July for allegedly accepting bribes from some of their suppliers. 
 
Sales Start On Strong Note

Retailers began 2008 on a strong note as sales increased 1.5 per cent in January to an estimated $35.8 billion, says Statistics Canada. This was the third consecutive month of strong gains in retail sales. Following moderate sales in mid-2007, retail sales have returned to the rapid growth that began in 2004. The strongest increase in retail sales in January was observed at building and outdoor home supplies stores (3.2 per cent), representing the second highest rate of growth since May 2007. This increase can primarily be attributed to a 2.3 per cent rise in sales at home centres and hardware stores, reversing the downward trend that characterized the second part of 2007. Sales by specialized building materials and garden stores were up by seven per cent following two consecutive months of decreases.
 
Home Hardware Enters Gift Card Arrangement

Home Hardware Stores Limited has entered into a multi-year gift card arrangement with Ernex, a division of Moneris Solutions Corporation. The gift card solution is available at more than 1,000 Home Hardware stores nationwide. Home Hardware’s entire electronic card processing solution – including debit, credit, loyalty, and gift cards – is now provided by Moneris Solutions Corporation. “This solution simplifies operations, allows our dealers to achieve economies of scale, and provides us with a single source of support for all of our card processing needs,” says Bill Ferguson, director of dealer support.
 
TIM-BR MARTS  Hires Commercial Division Manager

Trevor MacDonald is manager of the commercial division at TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. He has more than 15 years of industry experience and has worked for companies such as Dietrich Metal Framing Canada, Patene Building Supplies, and Commercial Drywall Supply as well as CGC where he built industry relationships in the company’s sales division, eventually becoming regional sales manager.
 
Bath Suite Features ‘Cottage Style’

With many homeowners are incorporating a ‘cottage style’ of decorating in their home – a relaxed blend of vintage design and classic masculine lines, Moen has responded by introducing the Rothbury collection – a full bath suite of faucets, showerheads, and accessories. This collection is also the first to offer a water saving aerator – a 1.5 gallon per minute (gpm) aerator for environmentally conscious homeowners and builders.

Composite Index Down In February

The smoothed composite index dipped 0.3 per cent in February after a 0.1 per cent gain in January, says Statistics Canada. Overall, four of the 10 components increased with most of the weakness originating in a sharp contraction of manufacturing, especially autos, at the turn of the year. Household demand improved across the board. Spending on durable goods rose modestly, even before the reduction in the goods and services tax rate gave a further boost to auto purchases in January. The housing index fell as lower existing home sales offset higher housing starts in both January and February.
 
New Concept Offers Large Product Selection

RONA inc. has opened its new store in Thetford Mines, QC. The corporately-owned store is based on the new RONA proximity store concept specializing in home construction and renovation. The 52,000 square-foot store offers paint, lighting fixtures, storage, bathroom fixtures and accessories, and doors and windows. Services include delivery, wood-cutting, a special counter reserved for contractors and professionals, and the RONA Project Guide service which provides the assistance of staff members to guide customers through all the stages of their renovation projects.

Sales Of Hand Tools Grow

Since 2002, the U.S. hand tools market has grown at four per cent annually, reaching $6.6 billion in 2007, says SBI’s The U.S. Market for Hand Tools. However, it forecasts slow, but steady, growth in the non-power hand tool market. The industry is expected to reach $7.6 billion by 2012, with gripping and driving tools accounting for a large portion of the revenue. In 2007, this category represented 48 per cent of the market.

Outdoor Power Equipment Gaining Ground

The marquee categories of spring season outdoor power equipment (leaf blowers, pressure washers, mowers, and trimmers) are seeing changes on two major fronts – type of features and channels of distribution. The NPD Group says pressure washers are up year-over-year from a 5.7 per cent share to an 11 per cent share and riding mowers are up from four per cent to eight per cent. Across the major categories, mass merchants gained 2.8 percentage points. The NPD Group attributes the gains to the mass channel’s ramped up merchandising efforts around the categories, as well as their related merchandising efforts around outdoor living in general. As well, the 18- to 34-year-old consumer seems to prefer the mass merchants and they represent the demographic that is increasingly moving into home ownership. 
 
NCR Launches New ATMs

NCR's new series of automated teller machines (ATMs) is now being launched in North America. The series has a number of new features including ‘self-healing’ capabilities. These allow the ATMs to automatically return to service after ‘soft’ failures such as paper outages or minor issues that require a simple reboot. Downtime is reduced from hours to minutes, which means better consumer service. As well, NCR has integrated ‘green’ features into the machines by using LED lighting and making the machines capable of two-sided receipt printing.

TIM-BR MARTS Adds Three Members

Three more independents have joined the TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. Canada-wide network. With these new additions, it now has dealer locations in all 10 provinces, plus Nunavut. Orillia Trim & Door Ltd. is owned and operated by Ken Forbes (an LBMAO District Director). The Orillia, ON, has a 15-year history of offering customers in Ontario cottage country a selection of windows, doors and trim for their home improvement projects, plus a wide selection of hardware items. Established in 1980, FroBuild Ltd., of Iqaluit, Nunavut, serves much of Canada’s north including the Northwest Territories. Hancocks Woodwork Inc. has been serving customers in Forteau, NL, for 45 years. Keith Hancock has seen his father’s original woodworking operation grow to become a full-service general store serving customers from as far away as 350 kilometres.  

AHMA Happy With Cologne Show

More than 50 American hardware/home improvement manufacturers seeking to expand international operations and supply the global marketplace participated in the AHMA/USA Pavilion program at the International Hardware Fair/Practical World show in Cologne , Germany . Products exhibited included building materials, electrical, hand and power tools, hardware, housewares, lawn and garden, paint and decorating, and plumbing along with wholesalers/distributors marketing a broad range of programs and services. “There is no doubt that international customers are still seeking out American made products, and the AHMA/USA Pavilion provided a one-stop shopping experience for those customers,” says Timothy S. Farrell, AHMA’s president and chief executive officer.

BW Creative Wood Names New President

Rob Mitchell is president of BW Creative Wood Industries, a manufacturer of interior and exterior railing components, systems, and accessories, He has been with the firm for seven years, most recently as senior vice-president, sales and marketing.
 
CanWel Revenues Slip

Revenues for the CanWel Building Materials Income Fund slipped to $189 million for the three months ended December 31, 2007, from $192 million for the same period in 2006. For the year ended December 31, 2007, revenues totalled $862 million, compared to $911 million in 2006. However, EBITDA increased 32 per cent to a record $36.2 million, versus $27.5 million in 2006.

Can-Save Distributes Superseal In Ontario

Can-Save is now stocking the full line of Superseal products for distribution in Ontario. Specialists in Dimpled Membrane Technology, Superseal offers a consumer friendly and easy-to-transport selection of foundation waterproofing and subfloor moisture barriers for carpet, laminate, engineered wood and tile flooring.
 
RONA Opens New Concept Store

RONA inc. newest store offers the latest concept in its proximity stores specializing in home construction and renovation. Located in Carleton Place, just outside Ottawa, ON, the 52,000 square-foot store features a 9,000 square-foot indoor lumberyard and a 64,000 square-foot outdoor drive-through lumberyard. It also boasts a 15,000 square-foot garden centre and offers more than 23,000 products dedicated to both the professional contractor and the ‘do-it-yourself’ renovator.
 
Sico Replicates Richness Of Interior Wood

With an increasing number of Canadians looking to extend their home decor outdoors, Sico Paints has introduced a new line of stains including a translucent, high-end exterior wood finish designed to bring the richness of interior wood outside. The new line is in response to market studies that show more and more consumers are looking for luxury products to help beautify their exterior living spaces and wood stains are no exception. The product gives surfaces a lush, wet look, appearing as though they’ve been varnished.

Castle Adds Three Dealers

Castle Building Centres Group has added three new members to its network of independent dealers. They are Ouellette Bros. Building Supplies – Fort St. James, BC; El-Tech Windows & Doors – Listowel, ON; and Layton’s Lumber (1983) – Sydney Mines, NS.
 
Second Generation Launched

Bosch has launched the second generation of its BruteTough lineup. It includes two hammer drill/drivers and two drill/drivers. Brute Tough is a family of cordless hammer drills and drill drivers first launched in 2002. The family of tools is built around its BlueCore Ni-Cad battery platform. The second generation also features ergonomically designed hand grips with finger supports and padded grip surfaces.
 
Lowe’s President Optimistic

The president of Lowe's Cos. remains optimistic that conditions will improve despite a weak housing market and tight credit standards that have created a tough sales environment. Speaking at an analysts meeting, Larry Stone said the company can't wait for the "housing gods to help us," so steps are being taken to improve profit. They plan to delay the opening of about 20 new stores this year in several hard-hit markets. As well, it will take a more conservative staffing approach as it hires seasonal workers to prepare for the busy spring season.
 
Fence, Deck, And Rail Market To Recover

After a 16 per cent decrease in sales, 2007 proved to be a tough year for the residential fence, deck, and rail market which settled at $10.1 billion.  Nonetheless, The U.S. Market for Fence, Deck & Rail Products report by SBI forecasts that the market will resume its upward trend and reach $11.8 billion by 2012. A four per cent growth rate is predicted in 2009 with seven to nine per cent continued growth through 2012. The industry will likely get a boost from an increased interest in home remodeling, which is projected to grow by 62 per cent from 2006 to 2016. Much of the demand for outdoor remodeling work will be driven by affluent households with incomes of $75,000 or more. In addition, there is a higher demand for outdoor living products among ‘upscale’ homeowners.
 
Schneider Earns Three Awards For Superior

Schneider National, Inc., a provider of transportation, logistics and intermodal services, has earned three awards from Lowe’s Companies, Inc. for customer service. They include the Outstanding Customer Service Team Award, which recognizes the top-performing truckload and intermodal carrier from its pool of more than 200.

Building Permit Value Drops Again

The value of Canadian building permits fell below the $6 billion mark in January for the first time since last April, primarily due to fewer construction intentions in the residential area, says Statistics Canada. Municipalities issued $5.9 billion of building permits, down 2.9 per cent from December's value of $6 billion, marking the third consecutive monthly decline. However, building sites should remain busy in the first part of 2008, despite the recent declines, since construction intentions were strong in 2007.
 
Colours Of Inspiration Come To Canada

Olympic Paint’s colour palette is now available at all Lowe’s Canada locations. Olympic is a category leader in the paint and stain segment in the United States. Its premium products are available in the Canadian marketplace for the first time. Its Colours of Inspiration is a collection of more than 1,200 colours comprised of six key colour groups – yellows, oranges, reds, violets, blues, and greens. Colour groups are divided into four colour families that relate to the level of colour saturation and fading – pure, clean, muted, and shaded.
 
Garant Unveils Spring/Summer Products

Garant has unveiled its line up of ergonomically-friendly, innovative tools, and planters for gardeners this year. Its new line include a foot activated auto-retract that takes the work out of winding up hoses; shovels with arrow shaped blades and revolutionary handles resulting in better soil penetration, less fatigue, and better load control; and Planter’s Buddy which is seven tools in one. The Quebec-based company markets its products to home retailers and better gardening centres across Canada under the brand names Garant, Ames True Temper, Botanica, Grizzly, and Nature Expert.

BuildDirect Launches Blogs

BuildDirect has launched a series of blogs allowing it to share its expertise about the building industry and directly communicate with site visitors that have questions about flooring, tile, decking, and other building materials. The blogs have also been designed to allow visitors to easily share information on Facebook, Digg, Del.icio.us, and other social networks. They can be found at http://blog.builddirect.com
 
Fairborn Joins Moen

Jerry Fairborn is national sales manager, commercial, for Moen Canada. Most recently, he worked as sales and marketing manager for eastern Canada at Dobbin Sales, a distributor for commercial plumbing products. With Moen, he will work with the wholesale sales force to grow its commercial business nationally.
 
Can-Save Sets Expo 2008 Date

Can-Save’s 17th Annual Summer Buying Expo will take place May 29 in Barrie, ON. The expo offers ‘one-day-only’ manufacturer supported buys. Show attendees can also learn about its product lines and participate in business opportunities seminars, hosted this year by Merillat and Baldwin. For more information, visit http://www.can-save.ca/

Customers Select Paint Based On Lifestyle

PARA Paints has divided its new colour offerings according to a selection of people’s lifestyles. Six ‘Gallons of Style’ collections –Retreat and Unwind, Escape to the Tropics, Weekend in the Country, Night on the Town, Continental Getaway, and Coming Home – are designed to allow consumers to select paint that expresses their particular interests, personality, or mood. It will replace its current colour system with 2,000 new colours.
 
Tarkett Launches FibreFloor

Canadian flooring manufacturer Tarkett Residential has launched its FiberFloor resilient flooring collection in Canada. This decorative flooring combines the feel of carpet with the easy maintenance of sheet vinyl flooring and simple installation of laminate. It will come in more than 100 designs including wood grains of all kinds; rustic, clay, and Spanish tiles; and metallic and stainless steel styles.

Residential Construction Investment Rises

The total value of residential construction investment for 2007 reached $88.7 billion, an increase of 8.5 per cent compared with 2006. All components of residential construction (new housing, renovation, and acquisition costs) saw gains. Renovations increased 9.5 per cent to $36.8 billion. They represent 41.5 per cent of all residential construction investment. For the fourth quarter of 2007, renovation spending grew 8.3 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2006 to $9.2 billion. 
 
Home Buying Intentions Decline

Significantly fewer Canadians intend to buy a home within the next two years, says RBC Royal Bank's 15th Annual Homeownership Survey. Overall intentions to purchase a home have dropped by five percentage points to 23 per cent. The intensity to buy has also decreased with those very likely to buy slipping from nine per cent in 2007 to seven per cent in 2008, the lowest level since the survey was started 15 years ago.

Canadians Still Confident

While the economic turmoil of recent months has taken a toll on consumer confidence, a Harris Decima Investors Group survey shows a majority of Canadians continue to have confidence in the economy in the medium and longer term. The five components that make up the index reveal a pattern of deteriorating confidence, but nothing approaching despair about the economic future. Overall, bullish sentiment continues to outweigh bearish feelings, with the exception being about the short-term macro-economic outlook:
 
Warehouses Dominate Lighting

The warehouse home centre channel dominates the interior and exterior lighting category, as well as ceiling fans, with a 73.5 percent dollar share. However, consumer data from NPD Research shows a move to the middle price points from the discount/mass merchants on one extreme and the specialty lighting and electrical supply stores on the other. The average price paid for a lighting purchase was $44.82 in 2007, up from $40.22 in 2006. Broken down by channel, consumer spending at mass merchants jumped $6.20 to $28.88, while consumer spending at lighting and electrical supply stores declined from $88.29 to $74.50. 
 
Restoration Rejects Sears Bid

Restoration Hardware has rejected an acquisition bid by Sears Holdings in favor of an offer from investment group Catterton Partners. It said the Sears offer came with “significant” uncertainties. It is continuing to work with Catterton Partners to complete the merger in a timely manner.
 
Inventors At NHS

The National Hardware Show (NHS) is conducting its second annual Inventors’ Spotlight at this year event in Las Vegas, NV. The event, sponsored by the United Inventors Association, showcases patent-pending products from inventors that aren’t yet on the market. It provides a focus area on the show floor for small entrepreneurs looking for manufacturing, business development, and retail opportunities. This year’s show, featuring Lawn & Garden World, Homewares, and New Product World, is being held May 6 and 8. For more information, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com 

RONA Unveils 2008-2011 Plan

RONA inc. will optimize its network of existing stores while continuing to improve its competitive positioning over the next four years. In unveiling its business plan for 2008 to 2011, it said it wants to ensure it is ready to take full advantage of the situation when the sector recovers. Over the past few years, RONA has been improving its positioning, especially in Western Canada and Ontario. In the last two years, it has completed six major acquisitions, recruited more than 60 independent dealer-owners and opened 18 new stores including six in the West and seven in Ontario. It has also surpassed sales objectives for RONA private brand products, which represent 16 per cent of the company's sales, and introduced several new value-added services.

Retail Council Welcomes Federal Budget

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) welcomes what it terms a “prudent” federal budget. RCC recognizes that the October Economic Statement included timely stimulus that will help the Canadian economy weather the uncertainties of the economic outlook. Given the generous tax relief given to Canadians last fall, the targeted tax relief outlined in this measured budget is welcomed. However, RCC noted that the budget had failed to move on the elimination of import tariffs on goods not produced in Canada. RCC will continue to impress upon the government the importance of reducing the cost of consumer goods entering Canada.

Extra Week Boosts Sales

The Home Depot’s sales for the fourth quarter were $17.7 billion, a 1.5 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. However, the fourth quarter of 2007 consisted of 14 weeks compared with 13 weeks and the 14th week added approximately $1.1 billion in sales for the quarter and the year. Excluding the 14th week, fourth quarter sales declined by 4.7 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2006.

Life Coaches Added To Show

Certified Life Coaches with expertise in parenting, relationships, business, career, and health will be on hand at the International Home and Garden Show to provide attendees with the tools they need to recharge and revitalize their lives. Overseen by certified Parenting & Personal Success Coach Rob Stringer and his team of professionals, the Renovate Your Life exhibit can help you find strategies to minimize stress and maximize the potential of your home, your life, and your family. The show runs March 6 to 9 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.internationalhomeshow.ca

Lowe’s Sales Drop

Lowe’s saw its sales drop 0.3 per cent to $10.38 billion compared with $10.4 billion last year with comparable-store sales taking a hit. Comparable-store sales dropped 7.6 per cent in the fourth quarter. For the full year, comparable-store sales were down 5.1 per cent from last year. However, sales for the year rose 2.9 per cent to $48.3 billion from $46.93 billion in 2006.
 
Castle Adds Eight Members

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has added eight members to its network of independent dealers. They are Lumberworld Operations Ltd., Victoria, BC; Mouldings Plus, Prince George, BC,; Done-Rite-Here Homes, Leask, SK; Sioux Narrows Building Supplies, Sioux Narrows, ON; Rideau Lakes Building Centre, Elgin, ON; The Home Place Building Supplies, Hilden, NS; Knol Window & Door Ltd., Oxford, NS; and Thompson’s General Store, Bass River, NB. Castle says it exceeded its growth objectives for 2007 and its profitability was the highest recorded in the four-decade history of the group.
 
Can-Save Partners With Merillat

Can-Save will add the extensive Merillat program to its kitchen division. With the partnership, Can-Save will be able to serve lumber and building material retailers, as well as kitchen specialty shops, across Ontario and the Maritime provinces. Based in Adrian, MI, and part of the Masco Builder Cabinet Group, the Merillat cabinetry brand has been in business since 1946. It has nine manufacturing plants located throughout the United States.
 
Johnstone And Lapidus Enter Hall

Al Johnstone, president of Salton Canada, and Leon Lapidus, president of The MIBRO Group, are the newest members of the Industry Hall of Fame. They will be inducted April 1 at an Industry Gala Dinner sponsored by the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association, the custodian of the hall. The Industry Hall of Fame was established in 1984 to recognize the achievements of industry leaders and pioneers. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca
 
BMR Show Dates Set

The Groupe BMR Fall/Winter Buying Show will take place March 27. The BMR dealer only event will be held at Place Forzani in Laval , QC. For more information, Dunc Wilson at 450-463-2441 or eMail dwilson@bmr-legroupe.com

Retail Sales Up In December

Retail sales rose by 0.6 per cent in December to an estimated $35.1 billion on the strength of sales by new car dealers, says Statistics Canada. This was the third increase in retail sales in four months and helped make 2007 the year with the second highest retail growth rate since 2002. However, building and outdoor home supplies stores sales fell the third consecutive month with sales down 1.2 per cent in December. Specialized building materials and garden stores were the main factors. The 4.1 per cent decline was their second steepest monthly drop in sales in 2007. Home centres and hardware stores posted their third consecutive decrease in sales, dropping 0.5 per cent. After a virtually uninterrupted rise over the past few years, home centre and hardware store sales have been decreasing since the middle of 2007.
 
Sealant Tools at Practical World

The Vancouver Tool Corporation, a Canadian company which manufactures tools for the application and removal of sealants, will showcase its new environmentally sensitive tools at Practical World next month. Its products are made from 100 per cent recycled plastics and are completely recyclable and re-usable. Its sealant removal tool does not require the use of harmful chemicals to remove sealants and caulks, while its caulk application tool has been developed to minimalize the amount of caulk required, while ensuring a solid application.

Manufacturers Need New Mindset

The biggest challenge facing this country’s manufacturing industry is leadership and a willingness to look beyond current business structures, said speakers at the Canadian Business Outlook on Manufacturing 2008. Business leaders shared their insights on how continuous improvements in efficiency, innovative technologies, and a global virtualized workplace can help Canadian manufacturers remain competitive. Jason Myers, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters president, also revealed that the economic downturn in the U.S. might be worse and more prolonged than many think, but that this decline may help spur a new, productive mindset among manufacturers in Canada.
 
Memorial Service For Tonkin Saturday

The memorial service for long-time industry veteran Dave Tonkin, who passed away suddenly February 17, will take place Saturday. Tonkin spent more than 40 years in the home improvement and lumber and building materials industries and had recently retired as director of national accounts for Broadleaf Logistics Co. The service will take place at 1 p.m. at Smiths Funeral Home, 1167 Guelph Line, Burlington, ON.
 
Mercier Shows At Surfaces

Mercier Wood Flooring introduced its new 5-inch wide boards in Brazilian Cherry and Santos Mahogany at ‘Surfaces,’ the biggest floor covering show of the industry. These additions to its product line are a result of an increasing demand for wide exotic boards. They are in its GENERATIONS line.

RONA Earnings Fall

RONA inc.’s fourth quarter earnings fell to $30.5 million from a year-ago $38.1 million on higher tax costs and one less week in the period. Consolidated sales for the quarter stood at $1.09 billion, 4.8 per cent less than a year before. However, the company says that brought down to a weekly basis to eliminate the difference in the length of the two years, consolidated sales actually rose by 7.1 per cent. This growth stemmed largely from acquisitions and store openings.”
 
Composite Index Up In January

The composite index rose by 0.2 per cent in January, after December was revised up to no change from November, says Statistics Canada. The upturn was broadly based, with five of the 10 components rising, versus only two in December. Household spending remained the strongest sector of the economy, more than offsetting the sharp drop in the stock market at the start of 2008.

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Not Your Average Tradeshow

More than 60 hardware vendors and 500 professional contractors gathered in Waterloo, ON, for Home Hardware Stores Limited’s Tough as Nails Contractor Tradeshow. In addition to the vendor exhibits, it included a number of draws for prizes as well as events such as a nail driving contest. 
 
RONA Partners With TV Channel

RONA inc. has partnered with a new television channel, ‘Les idées de ma maison.’ As the channel’s major partner, it will provide exclusive content for subscribers. A short program called ‘Les idées de Martin,’ hosted by Martin Thibaudeau, will give RONA the opportunity to offer a variety of renovation, interior decoration, and landscaping tips to TV viewers. 
 
Wal-Mart Income Rises

Wal-Mart Stores had net income for its fourth quarter ended January 31 of $4.1 billion, up four per cent from $3.9 billion from the same quarter in 2007. The company reported net sales of $106.2 billion, up 8.3 per cent from $98.1 billion last year.
 
Floor Covering Study Launched

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) has launched a comprehensive research study on Understanding the Needs of the Floor Covering Distributor. Its purpose is to help NAFCD members – manufacturers, distributors, and allied members – develop a deeper understanding of the pressure points of distribution so that they are better equipped to serve the needs and wants of the channel. It will be unveiled during NAFCD's 37th Annual Conference October 29 to 31 in Schaumburg, IL.

Weyerhaeuser Closing Sawmill

Weyerhaeuser Co. is closing its Kamloops, BC, sawmill and selling its timber harvesting license to West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. West Fraser, in turn, will assign its right to purchase the forest license in question to International Forest Products Ltd. The decision to close the sawmill was accelerated as a result of continuing challenging markets in the U.S. and the rising Canadian dollar, says the company.

RONA Investing In Réno-Dépôt

RONA Inc. will invest some $20 million to renovate all stores operating under its Réno-Dépôt banner. Under the new plan, renovations on four Réno-Dépôt stores will be completed by the spring of 2008 and six more stores will undergo renovations in the second quarter of 2008. The stores will be refurbished and updated to the new Réno-Dépôt concept, a leading-edge concept in retailing. The Réno-Dépôt banner has 15 stores in Quebec. 
 
Retail Sales Grew In 2007

Retail sales in Canada showed growth in 2007 for the 12th consecutive year, says the Retail Council of Quebec. Sales increased by six per cent to $412.7 billion. Low interest rates, relatively stable inflation, and job creation kept consumer confidence levels positive which stimulated spending throughout 2007. However, growth was less pronounced in 2007 than the previous year. For 2006, sales grew 6.4 per cent. The council expects sales will continue to grow moderately in 2008.
 
Toronto Hosts Plumbing Event

CMX-CIPHEX – Canada's largest tradeshow and learning forum for the plumbing, HVAC, and refrigeration industries – will take place March 27 to 29 in Toronto, ON. Every two years, Canada's construction industry is given a look into the future. HVAC and plumbing contractors, wholesalers, manufacturers, installers, specifiers, architects, and engineers meet to see and study new products, services, technologies, and styles. For more information, visit www.cmxciphexshow.com
 
NHS Features Open-To-Buy Days 

Retailers and wholesalers who want to see as many manufacturers as possible at one time – in one place – don’t need to look any further than the ‘Open-to-Buy Days’ at the 63rd annual National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, NV. Open-to-Buy Days allow retailers to meet with hundreds of companies at once, while vendors can save travel time and expenses by showcasing their products to several retailers in one location. It takes place May 6 to 8. For more information, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com

UK Retail Faces Tough Year

UK retailing faces one of its toughest ever years as the sector attempts to come to terms with a dangerous cocktail of intense competition, space saturation, consumer apathy, and slowing spend, says research from Verdict Consulting. The co-incidence of these trends will mean that on, a like-for-like basis, retail spend will contract in 2008 causing a significant number of causalities. Going into 2008, the amount of retail space due to open shows no sign of abating despite the fact that retail spending is set to slow dramatically. Over 2008, an additional nine million square feet of space (net of closures) will open. While this new space is likely to trade well, it will do so to the detriment of existing retail space. When the growth of the internet is taken into account, the amount of spend available for existing retail space will actually contract.
 
Mercier Introduces ‘Matte’ Finish

Mercier Wood flooring has introduced a new ‘matte’ finish which takes its range of pre-finished wood floors to nearly 2,000 combinations. Already available in semi-gloss and satin, all the products included in its GENERATIONS collection are now offered in a ‘matte’ finish with a gloss level of 10 per cent. Matte finish on hardwood floors is gaining in popularity and demand is growing in the residential market. This finish offers a more faithful representation of the natural beauty of wood and its natural characteristics.

Economies Separating

Doom and gloom predictions for the Canadian economy were alleviated Friday with positive results from two indicators. Concerns are that the worsening U.S. economy will impact Canada’s. However, the two indicators – job creation and housing starts – have provided more evidence that the two economies may be moving apart. Statistics Canada reported that Canada's jobless rate fell to a 33-year low at 5.8 per cent in January as the economy created 46,400 new jobs, all in the private sector. Meanwhile, the Canadian Mortgage and House Corp. reported that housing starts rebounded more than 20 per cent from December's dip, to 222,700 units in January. In the U.S., the housing sector is in freefall and the economy lost 17,000 in January.
 
Canadian Tire Strong

Canadian Tire posted fourth quarter earnings of $125.1 million, up 15 per cent from $108.3 million in the same period last year. Sales were $2.51 billion, up 3.3 per cent from $2.43 billion in the previous year. For the full year, the company had earnings of $417.6 million, up 17.8 per cent from $354.6 million in 2006. Sales for the year were $8.62 billion, up 4.23 per cent compared with $8.27 billion last year. 
 
Beaulac Speaks At Breakfast

Claude Beaulac, general manager of the OCTO Group, will be the guest speaker at the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association’s breakfast seminar in Montreal, QC. Under the leadership of Beaulac, OCTO has formed a new hardware segment made up of many of the former members of Mutual Hardware. It takes place March 5. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca
 
Lowe’s Opens Seventh Store

Lowe's has opened its seventh store in Canada. The home improvement store in Maple, ON, has 117,000 square feet of retail sales space, stocking 40,000 different items. Lowe's already has six stores operating in Ontario.


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Toronto Hosts Show

Attendees at the 2008 Canadian Home Improvement Show had more than 160 exhibits to visit. Formerly The Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario ’s Winter Buying Show, it was held in Toronto, ON, after several years in London, ON.

Building Permits Set New Record

The value of building permits hit another record high in 2007, thanks to widespread strong gains across Canada and in both the residential and non-residential sectors, says Statistics Canada. Municipalities issued $74.3 billion worth of building permits in 2007, up 12.1 per cent from the previous record of $66.3 billion in 2006. While the gain in 2006 was largely fuelled by the tremendous demand in Western Canada, the increase in 2007 was more widespread across the country. Every province posted gains with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. On a monthly basis, municipalities issued $6.1 billion worth of building permits in December, a marginal 0.4 per cent gain from November.
 
Brite Enhances Line

Brite Manufacturing, a 30-year-old manufacturer of building materials, is making more changes to enhance its line of composite decking. Its product lines will now be promoted as Impressions – a one-inch solid grooved board with a deep embossing pattern and hidden fastener system; Generations – a 1¼-inch hollow board with a brushed finish on both sides and its patented clip system; and Traditions – a one-inch solid board with an embossed pattern on one side and a brushed finish on the other. It has also expanded its colour selection in the Impressions line adding Cedar, Grey, and Redwood to the Chestnut Brown product introduced in 2007.  

2008 NHS Offers Expanded Programs

The 63rd annual National Hardware Show (NHS) will offer home channel retailers of all sizes, including independent and specialty stores, a comprehensive preview of the entire home enhancement marketplace with more than 3,500 exhibitors. This year’s show, featuring Lawn & Garden World, Homewares, and New Product World, returns to Las Vegas, NV, May 6 to 8. New programs include Open-to-Buy Days, where retailers and wholesalers meet with hundreds of exhibiting vendors at one time, and Green Product World, which addresses current environmental concerns. For more information, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com
 
BMF Allies With Service Freight

Burlington Merchandising & Fixtures Inc. (BMF) has developed a strategic alliance with Service Freight Warehousing of Burlington, giving it access to 40,000 square feet of warehousing. This will allow it to consolidate fixtures, millwork, and signage and to ship efficiently in full truck loads to its customers across Canada.  This control point is critical to its ability to execute renovations and store setups in tight windows of three to six weeks.

Lowe's President Addresses CHHMA Conference

Don Stallings, president of Lowe's Canada, will speak at the CHHMA’s Spring Conference luncheon. He was named president of Lowe's Canada in August last year and has more than 30 years experience of retail experience. The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) 2008 Spring Conference and Annual General Meeting is set for April 1 and 2 in Toronto, ON. The theme is ‘Looking Ahead – Managing Change.’ The aim of the conference is to provide the information and the tools needed to help do that. For more information, visit http://www.chhma.ca/
 
BMF Uses Sims As Advertising Agency

Burlington Merchandising & Fixtures Inc. (BMF) has selected Sims Advertising as its agency of record. Sims will provide direct marketing support for BMF and dial up BMF's ability to develop unique and customized graphic design solutions for its clients.
 
Richelieu Earnings Increase Again

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. 's sales and net earnings increased for a 12th consecutive year, and the three months ended November 30, 2007 represented the 49th quarter of sales growth over the corresponding quarter of the previous year. Consolidated sales topped $400 million to reach $436.2 million, an increase of 13.1 per cent over 2006. In Canada, sales grew by 5.6 per cent to $355 million. A North American importer, distributor, and manufacturer of specialty hardware and complementary products, Richelieu will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2008.
 
Home Depot Chops Headquarters Staff

Home Depot Inc. will cut 500 jobs at its Atlanta store support centre, about 10 per cent of the headquarters staff. The home improvement chain wants to ensure appropriate staff levels as it boosts funds for store improvements. Home Depot is upgrading stores, hiring more trade specialists, and taking other steps to improve business and win back market share.
 
CGTA Expands Gift Show Endorsement

Beginning in 2009, the Canadian Gift & Tableware Association (CGTA) will expand its endorsement of GLM’s Canadian Gift Shows to include the Alberta Gift Show, Montreal Gift Show, and Vancouver Gift Shows. The CGTA began endorsing the Alberta Gift Show in 1989 and, since then, has been instrumental in providing wholesaler and retailer support through a number of initiatives including educational programs, business centers, and member services. The next edition of the Alberta Gift Show (http://www.albertagiftshow.com/) will run February 17 to 20 in Edmonton, AB. The Montreal Gift Show (http://www.montrealgiftshow.com/) will run March 2 to 5 in Montreal, QC. The Vancouver Gift Show (http://www.vancouvergiftshow.com) will run March 9 to 11 in Vancouver, BC.

Two Join BMF

Mike Frame has joined Burlington Merchandising & Fixtures Inc. (BMF) as general manager. His primary responsibilities are for sales and customer communications. He has had extensive industry experience with several industry leaders over the past 30 years. Mehnaz Aydemir has been added to its custom fixture and display capability. He has more than 15 years experience in three-dimensional design using a wide variety of materials.
 
Home Depot Scraps ILC Plans

Home Depot no longer has plans to form an industrial loan company (ILC). As a result,  it is no longer trying to purchase EnerBank USA, a home improvement lender. It says the acquisition is no longer a part of its strategy as it plans to focus its resources on its core retail business. Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would stop retailers and other commercial companies from starting ILCs.
 
Stanley Earnings Up

Stanley Works had fourth quarter net earnings of $92.3 million, up 6.6 per cent from $86.6 million for the same period last year. Net sales for the quarter were $1.16 billion, up 14.5 per cent from $1.02 billion in last year's fourth quarter. For the year, the company had net earnings of $336.6 million, up 16.2 per cent from $289.5 million in 2006. Net sales were $4.48 billion, up 11.6 per cent from last year’s sales of $4.09 billion.

Earnings Up 95 Per Cent

Black & Decker had a 95 per cent jump in fourth quarter earnings to $187.4 million from $95.7 million in the same quarter last year. The higher earnings reflect a one-time tax settlement benefit of $153.4 million. Net sales in the fourth quarter were $1.65 billion, up 2.5 per cent from $1.61 billion in the same quarter last year. For all of 2007, the company still saw higher earnings, up 6.6 per cent to $518.1 million from $486.1 million in 2006. Net sales were $6.7 billion, up 1.8 per cent from $6.4 billion last year.

BMR Announces Promotions

Jean St-Maurice has been promoted to senior vice-president of Groupe BMR Inc. Since joining the company 1996, he has made a significant contribution to its financial development and growth as director of finance, executive assistant to the president, and, until recently, as vice-president, finance. Martin Juneau is vice-president, finance. Before joining BMR as director of finance in 2004, he worked for various manufacturing and high-tech businesses. Christian Nadeau is vice-president, hardware. He is well-known in the hardware industry both in Quebec and throughout Canada, having been an active participant over the last 17 years.

Home Hardware Poised For Growth

Home Hardware Stores Limited is 2008 poised for growth as it welcomes 21 new stores who have joined its dealer network over the past 12 months. In addition to adding new dealer-owners, the company’s focus on developing and enhancing its existing stores paid off as the company saw same store shipments increase 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007. It posted retail sales of $4.8 billion in 2007 – up from $4.6 billion in 2006 – and is on track to continue its growth in 2008. The company now has more than 1,000 stores across Canada.   
 
Dealers Trying To Simplify Eco Lumber

The National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association (NLBMDA) in the U.S. is seeking to simplify chain-of-custody issues for its members through a new grade stamp on eco-friendly lumber. Through its affiliated group, the LBM Institute, it has asked the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) to adopt an eco-forest management standard, accredit agencies to certify the standard, and establish a grade stamp similar to other designations for dryness, size, and species.

Canadian Economy Has Momentum

While Canadian exporters continue to cope with weak demand south of the border and a high-flying loonie, there is plenty of momentum in Canada’s domestic economy. Real final domestic demand is forecast to expand by 3.4 per cent this year, says The Conference Board of Canada’s ‘Canadian Outlook Economic Forecast: Winter 2008.’ It says a strong dollar, pressure on retailers from cross-border shoppers, and another cut to the federal goods and services tax will significantly douse consumer price inflation to just 1.3 per cent this year. As well, a strong domestic economy coupled with a lack of inflation will keep monetary policy neutral in 2008.
 
Composite Index Dips In December

The composite leading index dipped 0.1 per cent in December after two months of no growth, says Statistics Canada. This was the most protracted period of weakness in the composite index since early 2001, when it fell marginally in five out of six months. The Canadian economy subsequently slowed in 2001, but avoided the recession that gripped the United States.

Universal Consolidating Operations

Universal Forest Products, a maker of engineered wood components, plans to shut a number of facilities, some permanently, as a result of the housing market slowdown. The company believes it can consolidate operations and serve the same geographic areas through greater efficiencies. Five facilities will not be reopened including a portion of the operations in Thorndale, ON.
 
Lowe’s Opens More Stores

Lowe’s Canada will open three Ontario stores February 1. The stores are located in Toronto, North Brampton, and East Gwillimbury. It opened its first three stores early in December and plans a total of 100 stores across Canada.
 
Retail Sales Up In November

Strong gasoline station sales and a recovery in general merchandise store sales helped push up retail sales by 0.7 per cent in November to an estimated $34.8 billion, says Statistics Canada, the third increase in retail sales in four months. However, building and outdoor home supplies stores posted a significant 2.4 per cent drop in November. This was the second largest decrease in this sector since the beginning of 2007 and was mainly attributable to the third consecutive decline (-2.6 per cent) in sales at home centres and hardware stores. After experiencing almost uninterrupted growth for a few years, sales by home centres and hardware stores have been on a downward trend since mid-2007.

Nails Dumped In U.S.

Chinese and United Arab Emirates (UAE) manufacturers and exporters have sold nails in the United States at prices far below “fair value,” says the United States Department of Commerce. Some Chinese nails were priced more than 40 per cent below fair value; while some UAE nails were found to be priced at more than four per cent below that value. As a result of its findings, the Commerce Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect a cash deposit or bond based on preliminary rates on the nails. The merchandise covered by the investigations are certain steel nails with a length up to 12 inches, with a variety of finishes, heads, shanks, points, and sizes.

ADMACQ Appoints New President

Richard Darveau is now president and general manager of the Building Materials Retailers Association of Quebec (ADMACQ). He has held positions as executive vice-president and board member of the Laval Chamber of Industry and Commerce as well as, more recently, manager of store relations and development for IKEA France. 

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