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

News

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March 31, 2009

Government Raises ecoENERGY Grants

Natural Resources Canada has increased the grants under the ecoENERGY – Retrofit program by 25 per cent, allowing homeowners to save even more if they choose to make energy-efficient upgrades. As a way of spurring greater economic activity, the Minister of Natural Resources, Lisa Raitt, stated, “…I do encourage homeowners to act quickly. This special increase in grants is for a maximum of two years only, putting money back in Canadians' pockets when they need it most." With the 25 per cent increase, the eligible grant for a high-efficiency gas furnace, for example, increases to $625 from $500.

New Paint Stands Up To Winter

Sico has introduced a new line of paint that is meant “to stand the test of time in spite of Canada’s fluctuating climate.” The high viscosity, 100 per cent acrylic latex paint is able to form a protective coating when applied which shields it from the harsh elements of winter. It prevents water filtration, resists mildew and UV rays, and effectively fills in small surface defects.

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March 30, 2009

BMR Offers ‘Home Staging’

BMR le groupe has launched ‘Home Staging,’ a program to help homeowners increase the sale value of their homes. Announced at the 2009 BMR Trade Show, it uses BMR products to allow a homeowner to make home improvements designed to improve the price it can get in a sale. However, it also helps the homeowner make these improvements at a minimum cost.

CFIB Pleased By Budget Tax Relief

In its reaction to the 2009 Ontario budget, the CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) said it is pleased by the government’s decision to eliminate the Small Business Surtax and to reduce Personal Income Tax and Small Business Corporate Income Tax. News of merging the provincial and federal sales tax into one was also well-received. It says Ontario’s PST had “long been a thorn in the side of SMEs” (small- and medium-sized enterprises) due to its complexity and poor administration. However, the CFIB states problematic issues still remain as it is still not clear whether firms will be compensated for collecting the new single sales tax – set to kick-in mid-2010 – as they were to some extent for collecting the Retail Sales Tax.

RONA Charging For Bags

As of June 1, consumers wishing to take their purchases home from RONA stores in single-use plastic bags will have to pay five cents each for the bags. This measure aims at encouraging consumers to adopt reusable shopping bags, a more environmentally-friendly alternative for their hardware, home renovation, and gardening purchases. With this initiative, RONA wants to help shoppers adopt responsible consumption habits and reduce the company's environmental footprint. Canadians take home an estimated 55 million single-use plastic bags per week – nearly three billion bags a year. In Toronto, ON, a municipal regulation making the five cent charge mandatory for all single-use plastic bags will also go into effect June 1.

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March 27, 2009

Richelieu Experiences Drop

Richelieu had consolidated sales of $94.2 million for the quarter ended February 28, 2009, compared with $96.1 million for the same period of 2008, a two per cent or $1.9 million decline. In Canada, sales totalled $76 million, down by 3.6 per cent or $2.8 million. The company says the first quarter saw a slowdown in activity in three markets – Central and Western Canada and the United States, which were significantly affected by the economic crisis.  Despite the drop, it plans on expanding its presence by opening two distribution centres in the U.S. this year, but will remain cautious in doing so.

Sears Opens NB Dealer Store

Sears Canada has opened a 4,000 square-foot Dealer Store in Caraquet, NB. The store will be owned and operated by Ghislaine Foulem, but all merchandise sold is supported by Sears’ satisfaction guarantee, its parts and service division, and its service network in Canada.

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March 26, 2009

Energy Efficiency Important To Homeowners 

The 16th Annual RBC Homeownership Study has found that an overwhelming 95 per cent of Canadians think low energy consumption is an important consideration when buying a home. The survey also found that 94 per cent also feel energy efficiency is just as important as the look and appearance of the home. As well, 93 per cent of those planning to buy a home in the next two years are in support of having a standardized energy rating available for all homes and three-quarters (77 per cent) consider environmentally friendly features important factors when buying a home. In the current economy, Karen Leggett, head, home equity financing, RBC Royal Bank, says the findings reflect a growing preference among Canadians for home features that reduce long-term energy costs.

CanWel Revenues Drop

CanWel Building Materials Income Fund had revenues of $804 million for the year ended December 31, 2008, compared to $862 million in 2007. Gross margin for the year was $101 million or 12.6 per cent of sales versus $108 million or 12.5 per cent of sales in the prior year. For the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2008, revenues stood at $165.5 million compared to $188.7 million for the same period last year.

Williams-Sonoma Reports Loss

Williams-Sonoma Inc. had fourth quarter earnings of $12.2 million compared to $124.6 million in the same period last year –a loss of 90 per cent. The retailer, whose holdings include Pottery Barn and West Elm chains, says the quarter actually turned out better than expected and that it exceeded Wall Street forecasts. It says the difficult economic climate seriously prevented consumers from parting with their cash.

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March 25, 2009

BSIA Holds Off On Show

Due to members’ concerns regarding the current economic situation, the Building Supply Industry Association (BSIA) of BC has postponed its Westcoast Building & Hardware Show set for May 7 to 8 in Penticton, BC. It has rescheduled the show for May 6 to 7, 2010. According to a BSIA release, its retail and supplier members have made it known over the past several weeks that it’s not “an opportune time to participate in a trade show, when retailers need their support directly in the marketplace.”

CHHMA Announces Montréal Speakers

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) has announced the speakers for its Montréal, QC, Conference, April 27. Among the presenters, Mike Daniels, general manager for Spancan, will talk about the structure of his group, the strength and size of independent retailers in Canada, and opportunities for Spancan vendors. Also set to speak will be Pascal Gauthier, economist for TD Bank Financial Group, with his outlook on the worldwide recession; and Marie Julie Bégin, director, membership services for Éco Entreprises Québec, who will discuss the status of packaging stewardship issues in Quebec. For more information, visit http://www.chhma.ca/

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March 24, 2009

Composite Down In February

The February composite leading index fell 1.1 per cent after a 0.9 per cent decrease in January, with nine of the 10 components declining, says Statistics Canada. The housing and stock markets continued to post the largest declines, while losses in manufacturing steepened as the auto industry began to implement extensive shutdowns at the turn of the year.

Ontario Needs Sales Tax Reform

Ontario needs to replace its “archaic” retail sales tax with a value-added tax like the GST, says a study by the C.D. Howe Institute. ‘Sales Tax Reform in Ontario: The Time is Right’ notes that reforming Ontario’s tax system in this way would sharply reduce the cost of doing business in the province, reducing the tax on new investment. Export sales would also permanently improve by half a percentage point in annual growth, the study says, delivering a much-needed boost in provincial income to a province that surely needs it, now more than ever.

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March 20, 2009

Natural Solutions Presented At Gardening Show

As governments across Canada ban the use of pesticides and herbicides, homeowners will have to become more proactive in the way they treat their lawns, said horticultural specialist Charlie Dobbin at the Canada Blooms, Flower and Garden Festival in Toronto. The HGTV host and radio personality outlined how to maintain a green, healthy lawn through natural products and practices during a Scotts Miracle-Gro presentation. While traditional chemical lawn sprays “kill weeds,” organic solutions should be thought of as “preventive” in stopping weeds, Dobbin said. To achieve green lawns naturally, homeowners have to be willing to take on this preventative mind frame, which is possible through using, among other things, corn gluten or vinegar-based weed solutions or simply by top dressing and over seeding lawns in the spring.

Barbequing Demand Strong, Trends Released

With a greater number of families choosing to eat more meals at home during the economic downturn, demand for grills, smokers, and other outdoor living products will remain high, says the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). It says the latest trends driving sales including ‘multi-tasker’ barbeques that can cook different kinds of foods at different temperatures. These barbeques have grills with two to 12 burners, built-in rotisseries, and side burners; ‘Affordable infrared,’ a technology which allows hotter and faster barbequing and is the “future of grilling,” and “The Outdoor Oasis,” an outdoor kitchen offering in-home amenities such as sinks, blenders, and refrigerators, will also drive sales.

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March 19, 2009

Unexpected Jump In U.S. Housing Starts

U.S. housing starts unexpectedly rose 22.2 per cent in February, representing the highest surge since January 1990, according to the Commerce Department. It’s a rare case of good news after a record low of 477,000 units in January; for February, the seasonally adjusted annual rate stood at 583,000 units – the first jump since a 1.6 per cent increase in April 2008. The increase was due to more multi-family units which rose 82 per cent to 226,000 units, while construction of single-family homes climbed by 1.1 per cent to 357,000.

Contractor-Grade Kneepads Unveiled

Task Tools & Abrasives has teamed up with TommyCo to develop the ‘Task by TommyCo’ contractor-grade kneepad line. Available in stores this April, the new kneepad line includes 23 different products to match the exact needs of individual users, whether it’s tiling floors, laying carpets, masonry, roofing, landscaping, or a combination of these. The kneepads feature gel inserts and patented non-marking all terrain caps, which transfer pressure away from the kneecap and shin, as well as the carpet slider cap for easy movement on carpet and underlay.

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March 17, 2009

CHHMA Gets Set For Spring Show

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) will kick off its 2009 Spring Conference and Annual General Meeting with a Hall of Fame Dinner on April 1 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. This year’s inductees include Gaetan Martel, executive vice-president and general manager (retired) of RCR International Inc., and Wayne Sales, CEO, (retired), Canadian Tire Corporation. The conference starts April 2 with one of the show’s major highlights – its Annual Economic Update, delivered this year by Don Drummond, senior vice president and chief economist, TD Bank. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca

RONA Launches New Ad Campaign

RONA inc. launched its new ‘Doing it Right’ advertising campaign which will replace its former ‘The Canadian How-To People’ signature line. The new ad theme will centre on, among other things, its efforts towards sustainable development, the sale of eco-responsible products, and policies on pesticides and wood products procurement. RONA will deliver its campaign message through a full range of television, print, and radio messages, as well as through outdoor billboards in certain markets. A second phase in fall 2009 will introduce new topics such as RONA’s 70th anniversary and Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, highlighting RONA’s national partnership.

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March 16, 2009

Garage, Storage Shed Market Holds Strong

The market for garage organization products and storage sheds in the U.S. is steadily growing despite the financial crisis, says an SBI report. ‘Garage and Storage Shed Trends in the U.S.’ reveals that the market experienced a 10 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2004 to 2008. Although a slower CAGR of four per cent from 2009 to 2013 is predicted, any growth in this economic climate is good news, the report says. Installed garage systems, representing the higher end of the market, are holding up as high-income households remain generally less affected by the recession. Organized garages are also thought to increase the selling price of homes which is propelling growth amidst a difficult home-selling market. As well, the growth potential in this category is high since consumer awareness of garage organization products is still quite low.

Home Depot To Reduce Openings

The Home Depot will “dramatically reduce” new store openings and focus instead on improving performance at existing stores, confirmed CEO Frank Blake at a Bank of America-Merill Lynch 2009 Consumer Conference. Blake told investors that the company will open only “a dozen” stores in 2009, half of those in the U.S. He also revealed it will complete the overhaul of its distribution system by 2010 and that it will be keeping a close eye for the rest of the year on its SAP operating system running in Canada. 

New RONA Colours Help Customers Mix And Match

RONA has introduced three new colour concepts, meant to help customers easily match wall paint with furniture, fabric, and accessories. The ‘Dream: Oasis style’ covers elegant, romantic tones such as silver grays, muted greens and yellows, and soft pinks. These colours could be complemented with sparkling pendant lights, floral prints, and clear glass. ‘Love: Global Village style’ mixes exotic with contemporary through ‘dazzling copper’ and ‘sensuous saffron,’ and goes well with mosaic patters, pewter accessories, and multicoloured stripes. ‘Live: Spirit Style’ is articulated around simple primary colours and basic whites, blacks, greys, or bright yellows – well complemented by décor elements of chrome, glass, and mirrors.

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March 12, 2009

Lowe’s Outlines Store Plans

Lowe's Cos. Inc. hopes to grow its number of stores by 50 per cent over the next decade. Larry Stone, company president and chief operating officer, told a Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference that it believes it can expand its U.S. store operations to 2,400 sites. It now operates about 1,650 stores in the U.S. Last year, it added 115 stores, but it plans to scale openings back in 2009 to 60 to 70 stores including stores in Canada and Mexico. Ultimately, it expects to open about 100 stores in Canada over the next seven years. It currently has about a dozen stores in Canada.

Builders’ Profits To Fall

The decline in housings starts will cut builders’ profits by almost 20 per cent this year, says the Conference Board’s ‘Canadian Industrial Outlook: Canada’s Residential Construction Industry – Winter 2009.’ Residential construction profits are expected to fall to $3.2 billion in 2009 and to below $3 billion in 2010. It’s the largest drop since 1995 as consumers continue to put off buying a home or taking on renovations. "With demand for new homes waning across Canada due to poor economic conditions, the market drop-off appears to be more severe than expected,” says economist Valerie Poulin. “Even the federal government's budget measures to stimulate the industry are expected to have only a mild impact in the short term."

First-time Buyers Driving Housing Market

Entry-level purchasers are now the driving force behind home buying throughout Canada, a report by RE/MAX shows. In 32 residential housing markets across Canada, ‘The 2009 RE/MAX First-Time Buyers Report’ found that more affordability is spurring first-time buyers on towards the market and away from renting. Increased inventory, longer days on market, and low lending rates are also creating opportunities for first-timers not seen in almost a decade. Upward trending February home sales were a reflection of that, the report says, as more and more first-time buyers will enter the market in the weeks ahead.

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March 10, 2009

Group Forecasts Drop

Home improvement product sales in the U.S. are expected to drop 6.4 per cent from $290.5 billion to $272 billion in 2009, says the Home Improvement Research Institute. Sales to the consumer market are predicted to fall 5.5 per cent and nine per cent to professionals. The group – made up of members such as the Home Depot, Lowe's, Black & Decker, and other retailers and manufacturers – says the forecast represents the biggest decrease since HIRI began outlooks in 1977.

Ace Hardware Income Dips

Ace Hardware Corporation had net income of $85.8 million for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2009, a decrease of $1.1 million or 1.3 per cent, compared to $86.9 million for 2007. Total revenues were $3.9 billion, a decrease of $106.4 million or 2.7 per cent from $4 billion in 2007.  For the fourth quarter of 2008, total revenues were $956.1 million, a decrease of 0.2 per cent or $1.8 million as compared to 2007.

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March 9, 2009

RONA Supports Women’s Training Program

Sixteen women, who have faced significant barriers to employment, will receive 30 weeks of apprenticeship training courtesy of RONA. Just in time for International Women’s Day, the participants will acquire woodworking skills at the RONA Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Fabrication shop in Vancouver’s inner city, from accredited BC Red Seal carpenters. The YWCA-referred women will also benefit from employment workshops, job search support, and personal life-skills coaching.

Du Paul Promoted At OGC

Patrick Du Paul is executive vice-president of OGC Inc. He will be responsible for the company’s operations and will participate in its strategic development. He joined the company in 2007 with 13 years of experience at international companies in the manufacturing and service sectors.

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March 6, 2009

Building Down Across Country

Contractors took out $4.4 billion in building permits in January, down 4.6 per cent from December, says Statistics Canada. The total value of intentions fell in every province except Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island. Increases in both institutional and commercial permits were not enough to offset the decreases in the value of residential intentions. In the residential sector, the value of permits fell 17.5 per cent to $2.2 billion with declines in both multi-family and single-family permits.

Wolseley Creates New Strategic Focus

Wolseley will undergo a radical financial restructuring and create a new strategic focus in an attempt to reduce costs. The group will focus on its core North American plumbing and heating business as well as operations in the UK, Ireland, France, and the Nordic regions. It is reviewing its central and Eastern European businesses. As well, by August the group will exit from Stock, a U.S. building materials business.

Card Transaction Fees Under Investigation

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is applauding the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce for investigating Canada’s credit and debit card system. The RCC’s ‘Stop Sticking It To Us’ coalition – made up of more than 200,000 small and large businesses – says it looks forward to actively working with the committee to determine the impact of transaction fees charged to Canadian retailers and consumers by credit card companies and banks. The RCC’s coalition is not against paying these fees, but says the fees charged exceed two per cent and are among the highest rates in the world.

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March 5, 2009

Economist Sees Rebound Coming

Dr. Lloyd Atkinson is confident we’ll see material evidence of an economic rebound by the end of 2009. However, the economist and forecaster told the Ontario Construction Secretariat’s ‘State of the Industry Conference’ this recovery, along with the health of the construction sector, depends on whether we can unfreeze the credit markets and whether government stimulus measures can hit the market soon. He admits, however, that like all other economists, he’s limited in what he can predict because we’ve never seen a “global recession” like this before and because we’ve never taken stimulus measures at this level.

Roofing Market To Grow Modestly

The U.S. market for roofing products grew modestly by three per cent from about $10 billion in 2007 to approximately $11 billion in 2008, says a report by market research firm SBI. ‘Roofing Materials in the U.S., 2nd Edition’ reveals that the average selling price for asphalt shingle and coating materials sharply increased, accounting for 70 per cent of the market in 2008. The study predictsthat the U.S. roofing market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of two per cent through 2013, to almost $12 billion. For 2009, however, a contraction of approximately 16 per cent is expected, with market totals reaching slightly above $9 billion due to anticipated declines in average selling prices and soft end-user demand.

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March 4, 2009

Home Buyers Market Says RBC Survey

Almost two-thirds of Canadians think it's a buyers market right now and more than a quarter of Canadians (27 per cent) say they intend to purchase a home over the next two years, says the 16th Annual RBC Homeownership Survey. Additionally, almost half (48 per cent) indicate it makes sense to buy a home now versus waiting until next year. The survey found that younger Canadians are most likely to spark an upsurge in home sales. In the under 35 group, 48 per cent said they plan to buy, which is up sharply from 36 per cent last year. Renters also appear to be saying they are tired of paying someone else's mortgage payment, with 38 per cent planning to become homeowners in the next two years.

Home Partners With Olson

Home Hardware Stores Limited is partnering with Food Network host and professional chef Anna Olson to bring kitchen products and solutions to Canadian consumers. The partnership is designed to help its dealer-owners grow their share of the kitchen and entertaining category, through product awareness and helpful recommendations from a well-known professional chef. Olson will work with dealers to ensure customers get expert advice within the convenient setting of their local Home Hardware store. Olson is the former host of Food Network show’s ‘Sugar’ and ‘Kitchen Equipped.’ In her newest series, ‘Fresh,’ she creates unique meals using her mantra, “eat fresh, eat local.”

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March 3, 2009

Lower Attendance, But Positive Signs At ABSDA Show

Although the weather was against them, the Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association (ABSDA) buying show had many positive results, says Don Sherwood, president of the association. A severe snowstorm made it hard for many to attend, but the quality of those present and strong sales reported by exhibitors made up for the lower attendance. The highlight of the show, Sherwood says, was a first-time breakfast meeting of about 275 people including Robert Dutton, of RONA; Paul Straus, of Home Hardware; Ken Jenkins, of Castle; and Tim Urquhart, of TIM-BR MART. “When you have CEOs from competing banners in one room sharing their views, that’s a strong sign and attracted a lot of attention,” he says.

Cabinet Saw Unveiled At Show

Among the latest breakthroughs in woodworking at the 25th annual Canadian Home Workshop Show, Delta Machinery unveiled its 10-inch UNISAW. Shawn Brown, marketing manager, says the new cabinet saw was developed following three years of market research from almost 1,000 different sources. Attendees of the show in Toronto, ON, were able to take in the saw's most notable features such as its patent-pending single-cast trunnion system; conveniently placed cranks and controls; and its tool-free, two-position rising-knife guard system.

Home Depot Announces HRTC Initiative

The Home Depot Canada has launched a Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) ‘Top Up’ program. Through the initiative, running from March 2 to April 12, customers can receive up to $1,000 in gift cards if they spend between $1,000 and $10,000 on HRTC eligible products using their Home Depot credit cards. Customers can choose from payment terms of six months deferred or 24 equal monthly payments. Customers will also be able to track their HRTC purchases, claim gift cards, and view key categories eligible under the HRTC at homedepot.ca

IKEA Introduces Outdoor Furniture Line

IKEA has introduced a new line of outdoor summer furniture for Canadians, reflecting a current trend towards more comfort and functionality. The new collections focus on three key themes – modular lounge seating, eco-friendly outdoor options, and graphic statements. The movable modules of its ARHOLMA line allows homeowners to arrange the outdoor furniture best suited to them. Its APPLARO line and SOLIG LED solar outdoor lights represent greener options and its VANO and SOLIG accessories feature vibrant shapes and colours for greater expression outdoors.

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March 2, 2009

Decline Of Limited Duration

While the Canadian and Quebec economies are currently in recession, this decline could be of lesser magnitude and of limited duration in Quebec, says the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD)/Retail Council of Quebec’s outlook for 2009. Positive factors influencing consumer behaviour and spending will include stimulation resulting from low interest rates, a relatively low inflation rate, the tax measures provided in government budgets, and a slight increase in personal disposable income. While retail sales are expected to be weaker than last year, the CQCD anticipates negligible growth of one per cent in 2009. In 2008, retail sales in Quebec increased by 4.7 per cent to $94.7 billion. In Canada, sales increased by 3.4 per cent to $426.2 billion.

BMR Adds Dealers

Several dealers have recently joined BMR Le Groupe. They are Centre Réno-Déco Bergeron & Filles Inc of Amos, QC; Quincaillerie Liège of Montreal, QC; Lorenzo Rousseau Ltd of Nicolet, QC; Les Entreprises Périnet of Woburn, QC; Quincaillerie R.D. Inc of Chapais, QC; J.M. Doucet(2006) of St-Leonard d’Aston, QC; L’Homme & Fils of Matériaux F.P. of St-Alexis des-Monts, QC; Materiaux Miron of Chateauguay, QC; and Paint & Flooring Warehouse of Mississauga, ON.

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February 27, 2009

Wal-Mart Discontinues Ontario Sam’s

Wal-Mart Canada will discontinue its Ontario Sam's Club format in March on its supercentre format and discount store business. Its locations in Pickering, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, London, Cambridge, and Etobicoke will close. It will open a further 26 supercentres this year including expansions of existing stores, relocations, and new stores. This will bring the number of Canadian supercentres to 82 and Wal-Mart Canada's overall store count to 316 by the end of the year.

Edible Gardening Industry Growing

A recent teleconference by the Garden Writers Association and Scotts Miracle-Gro found that the economic downturn and trends toward sustainability are contributing to the growth of the edible gardening industry in the U.S. According to the National Gardening Association, 36 million households (or 31 per cent of the population) had edible gardens in 2008, and that’s expected to grow to 43 million households (37 per cent) this year – a 19 per cent increase in participation. Craig Humphries, director of consumer research for Scotts Miracle-Gro, says GIY (Grow It Yourself) is growing because of trends toward healthier eating, sustainability, and a desire to save money by growing food, along with a phenomenon known as “uber-cocooning” which means individuals are spending more time at home and improving their outdoor spaces.

Ontario Green Energy Act Proposed

If passed, the Ontario government’s proposed Green Energy Act will make it mandatory for homeowners to get a $300 home energy audit prior to the sale of a home. The Ontario Liberals say the act will make energy efficiency a key part of the province’s building code, create investment in renewable energy projects, and increase conservation. Ken Elsey, president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA), says it’s a step in the right direction, as the new “energy label” will encourage more energy-efficient upgrades, which is good news for retailers, manufacturers, and the construction sector.

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February 26, 2009

LBMAO Affirms Show Success

The Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario (LBMAO) has declared its 2009 Canadian Home Improvement Show a success. Held February 5 to 6 at the Toronto Congress Centre, more than 970 orders – a record number – were recorded by vendors at the show. Dealer attendance also increased as 275 retail stores from across Ontario came and 31 new companies exhibited bringing total exhibitors to 150. “We were thrilled to see the positive results continue at this year’s show. The increase in dealer attendance and the number of orders placed at the show proves the fundamental value of this event for our membership,” says Dave Campbell, LBMAO president.

Sears Canada Reports Minor Drops

Sears Canada Inc. had total revenues of $1.616 billion versus $1.715 billion last year, a decrease of 5.8 per cent for its fourth quarter ended January 31. Same store sales decreased by 6.2 per cent for the quarter compared to the same period last year.

Landscape Ontario Sets Dates

Landscape Ontario has announced the dates of three upcoming events. ‘Canada Blooms’ will take place March 18 to 22 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and will feature more than 35 indoor gardens. The ‘Garden & Florist Expo’ will run October 20 to 21 at the Toronto Congress Centre, and will present trends, innovative products, and emerging merchandise. And ‘Congress 2010’ is set for January 12 to 14, 2010, at the Toronto Congress Centre. For more information, visit canadablooms.com, gardenexpo.ca, and locongress.com

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February 25, 2009

Countertop Demand In China Growing

Chinese demand for residential kitchen and bathroom countertops is expected to rise 4.6 per cent annually to more than 82 million square metres in 2012, says a The Freedonia Group, Inc. study. ‘Residential Kitchen & Bathroom Countertops in China’ found that rising personal income levels in China will spur this demand, along with continued growth in housing completions, expanding average kitchen floor space, and a greater penetration of countertops in bathrooms. Solid surface countertops dominate the market and account for 48 per cent of the overall market share, whilesmall engineered stone is expected to post the fastest growth in years ahead.

Home Depot Has $54 Million Loss

The Home Depot had a 2008 fourth quarter net loss of $54 million compared with a profit of $671 million in the same period in 2007. Fourth quarter sales fell 17 per cent to $14.6 billion. The company says the results reflect a pre-tax write-down of $163 million and a pre-tax business rationalization charge of $387 million pertaining to the fourth quarter decision to exit its EXPO, THD Design Center, YardBIRDS, and HD Bath businesses; and the reduction of support staff functions.

Home Hardware, Toyota Team Up

A new multi-year “business relationship” will make Toyota Canada the "official vehicle" for Home Hardware stores across Canada. The agreement will also see Home Hardware become Toyota's official home improvement retailer. Through this new affiliation, the companies will work together on instore marketing promotions and trade-show appearances. Home Hardware, for example, will feature Toyota vehicles at its ‘Tough as Nails’ contractor show introducing its customers to Toyota’s line of ‘ready-for-work’ trucks.

Moen Introduces 90º Collection

Moen Canada launched its ‘90º’ kitchen and bath faucet line. The modern-styled collection features minimalist designs, unique waterfall presentation, and its new 1255 Duralast cartridge, which is meant to ensure faucet quality and durability. For the kitchen, it’s offered in single-hole, single-mount standard and pullout models, with a high-arcing sprout and an ergonomically designed pullout wand. For bathrooms, it’s offered in chrome and meets WaterSense criteria, allowing water to flow at 5.7 litres per minute versus standard flow of 8.3 L/min, reducing water usage by up to 32 per cent.

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February 24, 2009

Retail Sales Down In December

Widespread declines in all sectors pushed retail sales down 5.4 per cent in December to $33 billion, says Statistics Canada. This was the largest monthly decline in over 15 years, exceeding the 4.5 per cent sales drop in January 1998 when an ice storm crippled part of the country. Combined with the declines observed since October, retail sales in December were at their lowest level since November 2006. Three-quarters of the overall retail decline stemmed from the automotive sector. Excluding the automotive sector, retail sales fell 1.8 per cent. In non-automotive retailing, the largest decline in December was in the building and outdoor home supplies stores sector, where sales fell 5.6 per cent. Sales in this sector have been falling since September 2008 as housing has slumped.

Product Recall Legislation To Affect Canadian Businesses

Proposed amendments recently tabled in Parliament hold significant implications for retailers and suppliers doing business in Canada, says a Fasken Martineau ‘Bulletin.’ Bill C-6, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), is meant to strengthen Canada’s product safety laws. When unsafe products are identified, the proposed legislation will help the government take more decisive action through higher fines and increased penalties for violators. With support of all parties in the House of Commons, Bill C-6 may be placed on the ‘fast track’ so Canadian suppliers should begin considering the new procedures needed to remain in compliance.

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February 23, 2009

Kitchen Manufacturing Division Expands

Cabinetsmith – Can-Save's kitchen manufacturing division – is launching a huge expansion. After enjoying rapid success throughout 2008, the program is seeing the total number of cabinet configurations rise from 96 to 136, including brand new options such as oven cabinets, cooktop bases, base transitional ends, utility hutches, and more. Besides new options, new sizes have also been added to existing cabinet types, along with glass door options. This cabinet expansion allows Cabinetsmith to cover more design choices, allowing dealers to fill even more customer needs.

Lowe’s Earnings Drop

Lowe’s fourth quarter earnings dropped 60.3 per cent to $162 million from $408 million in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales also fell 9.9 per cent for the quarter ended January 30, while total sales declined 3.8 per cent to $9.98 billion. "The economic pressures on consumers intensified in the fourth quarter, resulting in a further decline in consumer confidence and dramatic reductions in consumer spending," says Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's chairman and CEO. The company says it’s closely looking at all expenses and will reduce them further if sales continue to fall beyond expectations.

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February 20, 2009

RONA Has Sales Increase

RONA had consolidated sales of $4,891.1 million in fiscal year 2008, up 2.2 per cent from $4,785.1 million in 2007. The company attributes this improvement to the recruitment of new dealers, new store openings, and acquisitions in late 2007 and early 2008. Those measures have compensated for its four per cent drop in same-store sales as its corporate and franchise store network continues to face tough market conditions, particularly in Alberta, B.C., and Ontario. Given the economic climate and consumer uncertainty, the company says it will remain cautious and proactive, and will start 2009 with an improved PEP (productivity, efficiency, profitability) program and an optimized organizational structure.

Composite Index Decline Accelerates

The rate of decline of the composite index accelerated from 0.5 per cent in December to 0.8 per cent in January. This was the largest and most widespread decrease since the index turned down in September, says Statistics Canada. The housing index contracted by seven per cent  in January, its largest monthly decline since June 1990. However, consumer spending accounted for two of the three components that expanded. Despite the slump in housing demand, purchases of furniture and appliances rose slowly. Sales of other durable goods grew 0.2 per cent and auto sales in January recovered some of their fourth quarter losses. Among the 10 components, six fell, one was unchanged, and three increased.

Home Building To Scale Back

Home building is expected to scale back considerably in Canada this year, with housing starts falling 24 per cent in 2009, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Housing starts reached 211,056 units in 2008, which was already lower than the 228,343 starts seen in 2007. This year, it expects to see just 160,250 starts. As the economic downturn levels off in 2010, starts should increase to 163,350. Existing home sales are also expected to decline with average home prices falling 5.2 per cent to $287,900.

Silver Adds Strategy Responsibility

Ken Silver is senior vice-president, real estate and strategy at Canadian Tire. Previously senior vice-president, real estate and construction, he now has responsibility for corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions, as well as real estate and construction. Kristine Freudenthaler is senior vice-president, information technology and chief information officer. She has 20 years of expertise in technology applications, supply chain, and general management. Michael Medline is chief corporate officer and president, diversified businesses. In his expanded role, he now has accountability for all corporate functions except finance. Pat Sinnott is executive vice-president, technology and supply chain. Previously, senior vice-president, supply chain, he is now responsible for information technology as well as the supply chain. Robyn Collver is senior vice-president, secretary, and general counsel. Her extensive experience includes practicing securities, corporate, and commercial law. Sharon Patterson is senior vice-president, human resources. She has more than 20 years' experience in human resources.

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February 19, 2009

Boomer Business Owners Delaying Retirement

The 19th Annual RBC RRSP Poll shows that 37 per cent of Canadian boomers who own their own business and who plan on retiring in the next five years would delay their retirement because of the rough economic climate. The results of the survey reflect a need for boomers to “regularly fine-tune their long-term plan," says Lee Anne Davies, head, Advanced Retirement Strategies, RBC. As well, one-third (32 per cent) of retiring boomer business owners in the survey, say they will never fully retire – 19 percentage points above the general Canadian boomer average. When asked where they expect to be at 65, 50 per cent of the retiring boomer entrepreneurs say they will be semi-retired or working part time, compared to 40 per cent of the general boomer population.

BSH Launches Canadian Facility

California-based BSH Home Appliances will open a call centre and showroom in Anjou, QC. The opening represents its second major initiative to improve services to the Canadian market. The company opened its first Canadian showroom in Montreal last fall. With brands such as Bosch, Thermador, and Gaggenau, the company says its new facility will allow it to obtain the French-speaking talent needed to “deliver a higher degree of customized service” to the Canadian market.

Owens Corning Has Fourth Quarter Loss

Owens Corning Inc. had a $45 million loss for the fourth quarter ended December 31, a slight improvement compared to its loss of $46 million in the same period last year. Its adjusted earnings were $16 million, down from $40 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. The company attributes the drop to lower margins in the insulating systems segment, which were only partially offset by margin improvements in its composite solutions and roofing and asphalt segments.

Wal-Mart Optimistic Despite Drop

For its fourth quarter ended January 31, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 7.4 per cent drop in profit and earnings of $3.79 billion compared to $4.096 billion in the same period last year. Total sales rose to $109.12 billion from $107.34 billion a year earlier. U.S. sales rose six per cent to $71.46 for the quarter. "Our performance relative to competitors has been exceptionally strong in the fourth quarter and throughout the year,” says Mike Duke, its new chief executive.

Liquidation World Suffers Decline

Liquidation World Inc.’s revenue from continuing operations in its first quarter was down 12.3 per cent to $47.1 million from $52.8 million in the same period last year. Same store sales for the quarter also dropped 4.3 per cent. The company says the results reflect weaker than expected sales, especially during the Christmas season.

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February 17, 2009

Weyerhaeuser Reports Record Worst Quarter

Weyerhaeuser experienced a net loss of $1.21 billion in its fourth quarter, nearly twice the net loss of $63 million in the same period last year. Sales for the fourth quarter fell to $1.18 billion compared to $2.5 billion in the quarter a year ago. The company says the low demand for lumber and wood panels made it the worst quarter on record.

Building Envelope Conference Announced

The Toronto Building Envelope Solutions Conference has been scheduled for April 16 at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Don Valley Hotel in Toronto, ON. The show will focus on issues relating to the exterior surface of building construction, materials, and design. It represents a unique opportunity for those interested in networking with property managers, architects, engineers, and contractors. For more information, visit http://www.buildingenvelopeforum.com/

New Online Marketplace For Homeowners

Sears Holdings has started the beta launch of ServiceLive.com, an online marketplace allowing homeowners to name their price for home improvements and repairs. Through the combination of auction capabilities on other sites and proprietary ServiceLive technology, users can describe a repair, project, or price they want to pay. The project is then routed to selected providers and the first provider to accept the terms electronically wins the project. The user can later rate providers online.

Love Heads National Sales 

Sandy Love is national sales manager, Canada, at Better Living Products. She has spent time in sales with Rayovac and Remington as well as being a senior buyer with Canadian Tire. Dean Albonese is director of sales, USA. He has been with the company since 2002 growing the business in Canada. Anya Chparber is account manager. She has also been with the company since 2002 and has held positions as sales and marketing co-ordinator and, most recently, as product manager. Suzanne Mortensen is assistant manager, sales and marketing, and Noris Mascarin is director of marketing and innovation. Both were with Kingstar Products/DSH Inc., now known as Renin Corp.

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February 13, 2009

Think Tank Says Scrap Sales Tax

Ontario can no longer afford taxes that are hostile to investment, especially during this economic climate, the C.D. Howe Institute says. The public policy think tank recommends replacing Ontario’s current sales tax with a value-added tax like the federal GST. Several studies from the think tank suggest the move would lighten the tax load on businesses, simplify collection, improve Ontario's competitiveness, and protect provincial revenue. A “more investment-friendly fiscal regime” would help the province “come out of the current slump with vigour,” the institute says.

Canadian Tire Sales Up In Fourth Quarter

Canadian Tire reported an increase of 6.8 per cent in retail sales growth for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2008, compared to the same period in 2007. Despite the struggling economy, the company credits the sales growth to its strength in seasonal merchandise, improvements in pricing, promotional programs, and an extra sales week. Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO, says it’s entering the new year “well-positioned to adapt to and respond to the changing Canadian economy."

Sears Opens New Alberta Dealer Store

Sears Canada has launched a new 2,850 square-foot dealer store in Taber, AB. The new location is part of its efforts to deliver more service, selection, and convenience to customers. The new store is locally owned and operated, but all merchandise is supported by Sears’ satisfaction guarantee and its parts and service division. It features a wide variety of major appliances, electronics, seasonal items, lawn and garden, and its Kenmore and Craftsman brands.

Masco Suffers Serious Drop

Masco reported a fourth quarter net income loss of $508 million versus a loss of $151 million in the same period last year. Sales for the same quarter dropped 25 per cent to $2 billion. The company attributed the declining numbers to the struggling home construction markets and waning consumer spending. The company – including brands such as Delta Faucet, Behr, Arrow Fastener, and KraftMaid Cabinetry – doesn’t foresee a quick turnaround in 2009.

Can-Save Expo Announced

Can-Save will hold its Summer Buying Expo May 28. The show’s theme will be ‘Taking Back the Business,’ with key manufacturers on-hand to help dealers obtain business lost from other channels in their markets. Can-Save will hold its Summer Expo at the Barrie Molson Centre. For more information, visit http://www.can-save.ca/

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February 12, 2009

Réno-Dépôt Renovations Complete

Renovations worth close to $4 million on two Réno-Dépôt stores are complete, says RONA inc. Stores in Anjou and Saint-Hubert, QC, were updated to meet new store concept objectives. The redesigns include enhancements to product selection and location, wider central aisles, improved pictogram-based signage, and more space and service for professional customers.

Survey Confirms U.S. Consumer Uncertainty   

According to retail research firm Morpace Inc., a survey conducted in January reveals that 58 per cent of U.S. consumers have "spent less" overall in the past three months, because of economic uncertainty. Looking ahead to the next three months, 80 per cent say they are “focusing more on what they need rather than what they want.” And 56 per cent of those who shop for big-ticket items – such as home furnishings, appliances, and electronics – expect to spend less in the next three months. For categories such as tools, sports equipment, and clothing, upwards of half expect to reduce spending as well.

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February 11, 2009

One In Five Plan Renovations

One in five Canadians says the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) announced in the recent federal budget will make them more likely to undertake renovations in the next 12 months, says a survey commissioned by Lowe’s Canada, Canadians were asked what impact will have on their plans for renovations. The temporary tax credit is designed to stimulate investment in Canada’s home renovation sector. It is a temporary 15 per cent tax credit that can be claimed on renovation programs which cost more than $1,000 and less than $10,000. The maximum credit is $1,350 and the program runs to February 1, 2010. 

Canadians Using Energy Saving Devices

Increasing numbers of Canadian households are taking advantage of energy and water-saving devices in their home, and environmental issues are influencing household purchasing decisions and consumer habits, says Statistics Canada. In 2007, 62 per cent of Canadian households reported they had a low-flow shower head, up from 54 per cent the year before. Low-flow shower heads use up to 70 per cent less water than standard shower heads and can save about 15 per cent on the cost of heating the water. As well, in 2007, 39 per cent of households reported that they had a low-volume toilet, up from 34 per cent a year earlier. These toilets typically use less than six litres of water per flush, compared with older toilets that can use more than twice that amount. As well, almost one-half of all households used fluorescent tubes and 35 per cent used at least one halogen light.

Scotts Has Positive Quarter

Scotts Miracle-Gro announced record sales of $318 million in the first quarter ended December 27, 2008, an increase of three per cent compared to the same period last year. The improvement was attributed to growth in its global consumer and global professional businesses. The company, however, posted a loss of $57 million compared to $56.8 million year-over-year. “Our success in 2009, however, will be based on keeping consumers engaged in lawn and garden – a category that has historically fared well in economic downturns,” says Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO.

Wal-Mart Cuts Jobs

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will cut 700 to 800 jobs across its real estate, apparel, and health and wellness departments – all at its Arkansas headquarters. It did not disclose how many would be cut in each segment. The cuts in the real estate unit are due to a decrease in store openings this year. Last year it opened 166 new stores, but will only open between 125 and 140 this year.

New Show For Saskatchewan

The Landscapers & Contractors Expo will also kick off in Saskatoon, SK, for the first time next week. Running from February 17 to 18, the Saskatchewan Equipment Expo will feature demonstrations and seminars to help contractors do their job safely. For more information, visit http://www.landscapingexpo.net/

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February 10, 2009

Lowe’s Launches ‘Clawback’ Policy

Lowe’s has launched a corporate governance ‘clawback’ initiative, applying to all company executives. The new policy allows the Lowe’s board to recoup any unearned performance-based executive compensation because of fraud or intentional misconduct, which could cause a significant restatement of financial results. The company stated that this additional governance policy reflects its commitment to bring management's interests in line with shareholders.

RONA Program Facilitates Tax Credit Incentive

To help customers take advantage of the new home renovation tax credit, RONA will offer cash back in gift cards on materials or installation services for use in a project that is eligible for the federal program. Customers will receive gift cards worth 10 per cent of their expenses over $5,000 and five per cent for purchases over $1,000 – up to a maximum of $750. Shoppers can make purchases from single or multiple RONA locations across Canada.

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February 6, 2009

Permits Down Again

Municipalities issued $4.6 billion in building permits in December, down 3.9 per cent lower from November, says Statistics Canada. This third consecutive monthly decline was the result of decreases in both the residential and non-residential sectors. The value of residential permits declined by 3.2 per cent lower to $2.6 billion, the ninth monthly decrease in 2008. The value of permits in the non-residential sector declined 4.9 per cent lower to $2 billion, the third consecutive monthly decrease.

Positive First Day For Home Improvement Show

Despite the slumping economy, David Campbell, LBMAO president, says this year’s Canadian Home Improvement Show in Toronto has shown positive signs. During its first day, attendance was slightly up from last year, he said, and pre-registration for the show was way up as well. However, the total number of exhibitors is slightly down compared to last year. A number of retailers were walking the floor from groups such as TIM-BR MART, Home Hardware, Castle, BMR, and RONA. “But during times like these, buyers are looking for a lot more value out of the deals they make, so the feeling is a little different compared to last year,” Campbell said.

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February 5, 2009

Quebec Building Materials Group Changes Name

The Building Materials Retailers Association of Quebec has changed its name to The Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT). The name change, along with a change to its logo, reflects the new reality of its members, says its president, Jean-Marc Perron, as it now includes merchants, distributors, hardware manufacturers, and building material suppliers.

Snap-on Relatively Pleased With Quarter

Cost cuts and an acquisition-related adjustment helped elevate Snap-on Inc.’s fourth quarter earnings two per cent despite the sluggish economy. Its net income climbed to a record $58.6 million for the three months ended January 3, from $57.3 million during the same year-ago period. Revenue, however, dropped 10 per cent to $667.8 million from $761.9 million in the year-earlier quarter. "Given these unprecedented economic headwinds, we are pleased with our relative performance,” says Nick Pinchuk, president and chief executive.

Liquidation World Completes Acquisition

Liquidation World has completed a private placement and acquisition deal with Talon Merchant Capital, LLC and its affiliate TCP Co-Investment Partners, LLC. As part of the deal, Talon will invest $4.75 million into Liquidation World, while Liquidation World acquires Talon’s U.S. wholesale business for C$2.85 million. In total, Liquidation World will issue 7.6 million shares to Talon and its affiliate. As well, Seth Marks has been appointed president and CEO of Liquidation World; and Charles Howze is now chief operating officer.

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February 4, 2009

IKEA Confident In Canadian Market

While retailers close stores or cancel new store development, IKEA says it is investing heavily in the Canadian market, with plans for expansion in Winnipeg, MB; and Ottawa, ON; and new showroom completions in Etobicoke, ON; Boucherville, QC; and Edmonton, AB; in 2009. As well, IKEA says the home renovation tax credit on projects between $1,000 and $10,000, announced in the federal budget, will boost demand for its products. “We believe in the vitality of the Canadian market,” says Kerri Molinaro, president. "The home renovation tax credit is great news for IKEA customers … the average IKEA kitchen costs less than half of the $10,000.”

Lowe’s Continues Canadian Expansion

Lowe's announced it will continue expansion in Canada with three Ontario locations set to open by end of September 2009. The company stated that stores are under construction in Oshawa and two locations in Scarborough. These openings will increase the total number of Lowe’s stores in Canada from 11 to 14.

TIM-BR MART Launches TimbrU

TIM-BR MART dealers now have an online destination for education and information with the launch of timbrU, the company’s new e-learning platform. TimbrU brings vendor product knowledge, the North American Retail Hardware Association’s ‘Basics of Hardware and Building Material Retail Training,’ plus a host of other resources to the fingertips of employees and dealers when they need it. Because the information is online and ready when stores need it, timbrU enables staff to find the time for training by making the most of store down time and even allowing them to logon from home.

Green Paint Tones To Lead In 2009

Shades of green will be the most popular paint choices for walls in 2009, predicts Shaun Noble, marketing manager for CIL Paints. A desire to protect the environment and for colours that calm and revive the mind – especially in “today’s demanding world” – are factors contributing to the growing popularity of green in home décor. Specifically, cool shades of blue-based greens influenced by water, such as jade or tea green, will increase in popularity as main or accent paint tones, Noble says.

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February 2, 2009

Sears Opens New Dealer Store

Sears Canada has opened a new 5,200 square-foot Dealer Store in Petawawa, ON, as a way of delivering more selection and convenience to customers. The store is locally owned and operated, yet all merchandise sold is supported by Sears’ satisfaction guarantee and its parts and service division. Sears brands, Kenmore and Craftsman, are available at the store, along with a wide range of major appliances, mattresses, electronics, vacuums, seasonal items, housewares, hardware, and lawn and garden products.

Newell Rubbermaid Has Bleak Quarter

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. lost  $256.7 million in the fourth quarter ending December 31, compared to a year-ago profit of $467.1 million. The company announced job cuts and a salary freeze last month and expects a weak first quarter forecast. "Obviously we have no control over the economy and we can't magically increase consumer confidence, so we will read and react," says Mark Ketchum, president and chief executive.

Flooring To Be A Priority

Government tax credits and consumer nesting will make flooring a priority for homeowners this year, says a report by Silverwood Flooring. A concern for the environment is also deeply impacting flooring, with innovations in renewable resources available more in designs. The report also forecasts a wide variety of popular textures and colour for 2009such as ‘out of the blue,’ ‘grey expectations,’ and ‘purple haze. For this winter, a dose of Scandinavian-inspired ‘White Hot’ is becoming popular – offering consumers warm and easy elegance during economic hardship. 

Kitchen/Bath Show Announces Highlights

The Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) is set to deliver the industry’s leading manufacturers, engaging business speakers, and a number of specialty pavilions. It will run from April 30 to May 3, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. Other show highlights include the NKBA Design Competition Luncheon, awarding the best kitchens and baths with more than $100,000 in cash prizes; and celebrity presentations from Extreme Makeover Home Edition carpenter Paul DiMeo and This Old House’s plumbing expert Richard Trethewey and designer Carol Freehauf. For more information, visit www.kbis.com

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January 30, 2009

Canadian Tire Cards In Security Breach

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. is involved in what some are calling one of the biggest data breaches ever, says a report in the Globe and Mail. Some 16,000 of its MasterCard credit cards were considered at risk after a security breach at Heartland Payment Systems, the New Jersey-based credit card payment processor that handles any transactions in the U.S. with the retailer's card. Previously, the largest known data breach occurred when about 45 million card numbers were stolen in 2005 and 2006 from U.S.-based retailer TJX Cos., whose chains include discounter Winners and HomeSense in Canada.

B&D Reports Fourth Quarter Drop

The Black & Decker Corporation had net earnings of $43.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to $187.4 million in 2007. Sales also dropped 17 per cent for the quarter to $1.4 billion. For the full year 2008, net earnings were $293.6 million versus $518.1 million for 2007.

Stanley Works Earnings Slide

Stanley Works had net earnings of $1.1 million for its fourth quarter, down from $92.3 million in the fourth quarter 2008. Fourth quarter sales slid 4.6 per cent to $1.09 billion from $1.14 billion in the same quarter last year. John Lundgren, chairman and CEO, stated the falling numbers are a result of decreasing demand from consumer do-it-yourself and industrial segments. The tough quarter is likely to continue into 2009 and the company expects a 10 to 12 per cent decrease in unit volume shipments to start the year.

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January 28, 2009

Renovation Tax Credit Outlined

Homeowners planning on adding an addition or sprucing up the backyard would be advised to so in 2009, say PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada tax specialists, as the federal budget provides up to $7.8 billion for housing construction and renovation, including a temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit of up to $1,350 for eligible home renovations and alterations. The tax credit would apply to home renovations exceeding $1,000 up to a maximum of $10,000. Homeowners spending the maximum would get a non-refundable credit of $1,350. Projects can include renovating a kitchen, bathroom, or basement; installing new carpet or hardwood floors; building an addition, deck, fence, or retaining wall; installing a new furnace or water heater; painting the interior or exterior of a house; resurfacing a driveway; or laying new sod. The budget also outlines the ecoENERGY Retrofit program to give home and property owners grants of up to $5,000 to offset the costs of making energy-efficiency improvements. Grants apply to a variety of measures that reduce energy consumption ranging from increasing insulation to upgrading a furnace.

Deficit Concerns CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says the federal budget will provide a certain stimulus to the economy, but it remains very concerned with the large deficits and questions whether this level of spending is really necessary in the current economic context. It is pleased to see the government acknowledge its sector by raising the small business corporate income tax threshold to $500,000 from $400,000. In addition, it applauds the targeted reductions in personal income tax, as that has been CFIB’s members’ top tax cut priority.  The fact that these reductions are permanent is also very positive. Another top priority was to stabilize Employment Insurance (EI) rates. Freezing EI rates through 2010 was, therefore, positively received and it was also encouraging that EI benefit increases are to be temporary. Capital cost allowance (CCA) measures on technology assets and extension of CCAs for manufacturers is also good news for many businesses.

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January 27, 2009

Home Renovation Help Announced

The federal government will launch a program for home renovations expected to go above and beyond the energy-retrofit program launched in 2007 which offered $220 million in grants to help Canadians improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The measure was announced in the federal throne speech although details on the program and how much it will be worth were not announced.

Home Depot Closes EXPO Stores

The Home Depot is closing its EXPO Design Center stores across the U.S. and will take steps to further streamline support functions. It will also close five YardBIRDS stores, two Design Center stores, and HD Bath, a bath remodelling business. The moves will affect 7,000 associates or about two per cent of the company's total workforce. According to Home Depot, EXPO, a high-end retailer of household products, never performed well and was suffering even more as the downturn put greater pressure on high-end decor products.

Masco To Unveil Designs At IDS09

Masco Canada Ltd. will unveil its newest technologies and designs at this year’s Interior Design Show (IDS09), February 5 to 8, in Toronto, ON. Members of the Masco team will provide demonstrations and answer questions on its latest collections such as Delta’s new Pilar faucet with Touch2O Technology; Brizo’s new kitchen faucet with diamond seal technology; and Axor’s latest by renowned designer and architect, Antonio Citterio. For more information, visit http://www.interiordesignshow.com/

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January 26, 2009

Composite Index Falls In December

The composite index fell by 0.6 per cent in December, matching the drop in November after three months of accelerating declines. The losses remained concentrated in the stock market and housing. Overall, the four components that rose were evenly balanced with the four that decreased, while two were unchanged. Consumer spending remained resilient, with increases for both furniture and appliances and other durable goods while manufacturing indicators remained mixed. New orders were buoyed by continued strength for aerospace. However, only steep cuts to output kept the ratio of shipments to stocks from falling.

Home Depot Bails On Downtown Toronto Project 

Home Depot Canada has cancelled a deal for what would have been its first downtown Toronto, ON, location. It terminated a 20-year lease on 75,000 square feet of space at the corner of Queen Street West and Portland Street. Home Depot has been trying to open a store in downtown Toronto for 10 years, but now points to a slowdown in the Canadian home improvement industry as the reason for its decision to pull back.

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January 23, 2009

Retail Sales Fall In November

Retail sales fell by 2.4 per cent from October to $34.9 billion, the largest monthly decline since January 1998, says Statistics Canada. However, the decline largely reflects price-induced lower sales at gasoline stations and a drop in unit sales at new car dealers. Excluding the automotive sector, retail sales were flat. Aside from the automotive sector, four other retail sectors registered lower sales while the remaining three reported increases. The second largest decline in November was observed in the miscellaneous retailers sector, where sales fell by 0.7 per cent. Sales in this sector have levelled off in 2008, mainly reflecting a downturn in sales at sporting goods, hobby, music, and book stores midway through the year.

Home Depot Launches Recycling Programs

The Home Depot Canada has partnered with Stewardship Ontario to launch two new Ontario-wide in-store recycling programs as part of the ‘Do What You Can’ initiative. Residents can now bring in old non-rechargeable batteries and paint into any Home Depot across Ontario. To recycle the batteries, consumers will find a battery recycling unit located at front entrances. Consumers can bring in unused paint to the Returns Desk for recycling. The paint will be re-used to create a new line of environmentally preferred paint products.

Richelieu Sales Increase

Richelieu’s consolidated sales totalled $441.4 million, compared with $436.2 million for 2007, an increase of $5.3 million or 1.2 per cent. The increase came for 0.2 per cent internal growth and one per cent reflecting the contribution of the acquisitions closed in 2007 and of the distributors Top Supplies (North Carolina) and Acroma (British Columbia) acquired in 2008. Sales to hardware retailers and renovation superstores, recorded mostly in Canada, grew by $6 million or 8.3 per cent to $78.2 million in 2008.

Home Hardware Launches Virtual Planner

Home Hardware Stores Limited has launched 20-20 Technologies' Virtual Planner, a fully interactive 3D Web visualization and space-planning tool. Available at www.homehardware.ca, the virtual room planner allows homeowners planning a renovation to virtually envision their dream kitchen or storage solution before purchasing products or hammering a nail. Visitors can select from pre-designed rooms or begin space planning from blank 2D/3D floor plans, adding dimensions and items to complete the design.

Sherwin-Williams Experiences Drop

Sherwin-Williams reported a net income of $50.17 million for its fourth quarter ended December 31, representing a drop of 50 per cent from $100.82 million in the year-ago period. Net income stood at $476.87 million for the year, down 23 per cent from $615.58 million in 2007. The company attributed the decrease to sales volume declines in weakened U.S. and foreign economies.

Canada Blooms Opening Bash Announced

Canada Blooms is set to hit the Metro Toronto Convention Centre March 18 to 22, featuring more than 200 hours of gardening demonstrations and talks. The opening night celebration falls on St. Patrick's Day and will include a party, Irish entertainers, and music courtesy of Tourism Ireland. For more information visit http://www.canadablooms.com/

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January 22, 2009

Martel, Sales Enter Hall 

Gaetan Martel, executive vice-president of RCR International Inc. (retired); and Wayne Sales, CEO of Canadian Tire Corporation (retired); will be inducted into the Industry Hall of Fame April 1 at a gala dinner sponsored by the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA). The Industry Hall of Fame was established in 1984 to recognize the achievements of industry’s leaders and pioneers.  Over the 25 years such notables as the founders of Home Hardware, Revelstoke stores, and RONA have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca

Expo Features Safety, Sustainability

Safety education and environmentally friendly approaches will be leading themes at the 2009 Landscapers & Contractors Expo in Alberta. The show – set to hit Edmonton, January 27 to 28, and Calgary, February 3 to 4 – will feature live demonstrations of aerial work positioning and fall protection on a real tree and an entire nursery section focused on sustainability. Each two-day show is expected to draw 2,000 visitors, all able to sample the latest in construction and landscape supplies, equipment, power products, trucks, trailers, and tires. For more information, visit www.landscapingexpo.net

Grim Forecast Opens IBS

Economists from Freddie Mac and the PMI Group predicted further home foreclosures and sinking home prices, but an upswing later in ’09, at The International Builders’ Show. Despite the challenging period, the show opened its doors in Las Vegas, NV, with sessions centring on survival strategies during the housing downturn and green building. Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the show features more than 1,700 exhibitors and is expected to draw 65,000 attendees.

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January 21, 2009

Fastenal Net Sales, Earnings Increase

Fastenal had a net sales increase of five per cent to $544,959 from $519,206 for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2008, over the same period a year ago. Net sales also increased 13.5 per cent to $2.34 million from $2.06 million in 2007. Net earnings increased 20.2 per cent to $279,705 from $232,622 year over year.

Jovian Manages Supply Chain

Paul Jovian is senior vice-president, supply chain management, at RONA. In this role, he will be responsible for management of the company's entire supply chain. This initiative stems from its ‘2008-2011 Strategic Plan’ which aims at optimizing the network and supporting business growth.

Insulation Show Covers Green Building Issues

Andrew Bowerbank, executive director of the World Green Building Council, will set the tone for this year’s International Reflective Insulation Manufacturers (I-RIM) conference, June 3 to 4 in Barcelona, Spain. His keynote address will cover his perspective on climate change and how to reduce the resource intensive demands of the built environment. The show will also feature workshops on leading topics such as thermal performance, emittance, stability, product requirement comparisons, and large-scale testing. For more information, visit www.rimainternational.org

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January 20, 2009

Wal-Mart Opens Environmental Store

Wal-Mart Canada will open its first environmental demonstration store in Burlington, ON. The new store will feature a first-of-its-kind application of geothermal technology in a large-scale Canadian retail operation as well as energy-conserving lighting innovations and other sustainable features. It plans to roll out prototypical stores that are 30 per cent more energy efficient. However, the new Burlington supercentre is expected to use an estimated 60 per cent less energy than the company's typical supercentre store and to reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 141 tonnes.

Show Switches Gears

This year’s International Home & Garden Show has switched gears and is ready to help homeowners cope with fiscal restraint. Its line-up of home economists, designers, contractors, chefs, and gardeners will demonstrate how to live smarter for less, without the stress. It takes place March 19 to 22 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.internationalhomeshow.ca/

Show Looks At Future Of World Of Work

‘Imagine. Innovate. Inspire’ is the theme of this year’s Health & Safety Canada 2009 Conference and Trade Show. Set for April 20 to 22 in Toronto, ON, it will look at what the future holds in the ever-changing world of work. Keynote speakers include Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist and author of ‘My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journal;’ Tim Flannery, author of the ‘The Weather Makers: How We Are Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth;’ Simon Jackson, founder of Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, one of the world’s first all youth-run organizations which is developing the last intact habitat for North America’s rarest bear – the white Kermode or spirit bear on British Columbia’s central coast; and Rick Mercer, star of ‘The Rick Mercer Report.’ For more information, visit www.iapa.ca

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January 19, 2009

RONA Adds Incentive

RONA will add its own incentive measures to the Quebec government tax credit program for residential renovations and improvements. As part of this initiative, RONA is offering 10 per cent cash back to be redeemed in gift cards applied to the cost of materials purchased at RONA or Reno-Depot anywhere in Quebec, for use in a project that is eligible for the government's tax credit program. Consumers who use RONA or Reno-Depot installation services to complete their renovation or improvement project will also benefit from 10 per cent cash back. The 10 per cent gift card cash back will be applied on all eligible purchases up to $7,500 before taxes.

China Fastest Growing Floor Covering, Lighting Market

A report by the Freedonia Group finds China will expand its lead as the biggest floor covering market and will also be the fastest growing market and greatest producer of electric lighting worldwide. According to the report, world demand for electric lighting is expected to grow seven per cent a year to $40 billion by 2012, with LED lighting devices expected to outpace the overall growth rate. As well, world demand for flooring and carpets will grow four per cent annually through 2012 to 15.2 billion square metres and $178 billion.

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January 16, 2009

Retailers Must Respond To Changing Behaviour

Shopping behaviour has clearly shifted during this economic downturn and retailers must respond effectively to survive, says Mark Foote, president and CEO, Zellers. Speaking at a Rotman Retail Experts presentation, ‘Creating Excitement for Customers in a Downturn and Beyond,’ he explained consumers are paying much more attention to promotional saleChina Fastest Growing Floor Covering, Lighting Markets, they’re making less trips to retail outlets, and they’re reducing spending on credit. That means retailers need to work harder to get shoppers in their doors through more aggressive promotional sales and enhanced loyalty programs. As well, retailers must find ways to differentiate themselves, namely through merchandise innovation and continued brand resurgence.

RONA Unveils Web-only Flyer

RONA has unveiled its first Web-only flyer. The first in a series of 12 planned for 2009, the Web flyer is an innovative tool that is an environmentally friendly and economical way to communicate with Canadian consumers. "We are always looking for new ways to reach our customers and we are also looking to innovate in order to meet the constantly changing needs of Canadian consumers," says Claude Bernier, executive vice-president, marketing and customer innovations. "In the current economic situation, with retailers multiplying promotional offensives, we knew we wanted to increase our number of flyers. We could have simply added print flyers to our annual production, but instead we selected a marketing tool that is both eco-responsible and profitable."

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January 15, 2009

Home Renovation Tax Credit Considered

The federal government is considering the idea of a tax credit for home renovations as part of its January 27 budget, says a report in the Globe and Mail. It would be part of the budget’s stimulus package to soften the blow of an economic downturn. Since only 20 per cent of investment in residential and non-residential buildings is imported, the idea is being given consideration because it would ensure more of the stimulus spending would remain in Canada. Another consideration, however, is whether to offer a tax credit for home renovation in general, or merely for retrofits and upgrades that increase energy efficiency.

Weiser Donates Locksets

In partnership with CC Craig Winnipeg and Age & Opportunity, Weiser Lock has donated 400 deadbolt locksets, worth an estimated $15,000, to Age & Opportunity, a social service agency that provides programs and services to enhance the lives of older adults in Winnipeg, MB. CC Craig, Weiser Lock’s distributor in Winnipeg, will provide the deadbolts as part of a home safety audit. The locks will also be installed.

Home Improvement Sales Rally

December sales at U.S. home improvement retailers fell 5.5 per cent in December compared to the same month last year, an improvement from November, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales were down 14 per cent in November from a year earlier. Retailers may have received a boost in December because colder temperatures prompted shoppers to buy shovels, ice-melting salt, and insulation products.

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January 13, 2009

Pesticide Ban Impacts Livelihood

“The new cosmetic pesticide ban will severely impact the lives and livelihood of many of our members, their employees and families,” says Landscape Ontario’s executive director Tony DiGiovanni. Landscape Ontario originally gave conditional support to the cosmetic ban, as long as the regulations allowed limited use of products to deal with infestations and Integrated Pest Management Accreditation. The association withdrew support when the draft regulations were announced. “By providing no solution to control damaging landscape infestations, these regulations say to the Ontario public that our lawns and gardens are a non-essential part of our environment,” says DiGiovanni. In addition, the lawn destruction risked by these regulations will lead to increased soil erosion and a reduction in important carbon sinks in built environments.

UFP Offers Tropical Line

Universal Forest Products (UFP) will introduce a new line of tropical hardwood-inspired composite decking. Its ‘Latitudes Capricorn’ series features two tropical colours, adobe and koa, which resemble the wood grain and colours of mahogany and ipe. The product uses wood dust reclaimed from palette and cabinet manufacturers and some recycled plastic.

Landscapers & Contractors Expo Set To Open

The 5th annual Vancouver Landscapers & Contractors Expowill feature 50 exhibitors targeted at landscape, build and maintenance, and light construction trade members. More than 2,000 are expected to attend the two-day show to source the latest in construction and landscape supplies. The entire nursery section is focused on sustainability and show activities include demonstrations of the latest technology in everything from high-efficiency mowers to skid steers. It takes place January 20 and 21 in Vancouver, BC. For more information, visit www.landscapingexpo.net

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January 12, 2009

Building Declines In November

Contractors took out $4.8 billion in building permits in November, down 11.8 per cent from October, the result of widespread declines in both residential and non-residential sectors, says Statistics Canada. It was the third double-digit decrease in four months. November's level, the lowest since February 2007, was 22.6 per cent below last year's monthly average. On a year-to-date basis, the total value of building permits issued by municipalities from January to November amounted to $65.7 billion, down 3.9 per cent from the total for the first 11 months of 2007.

Onward Represents Dahl

Onward Sales now represents Dahl Brothers Canada for part of Ontario. Based in Mississauga, ON, Dahl is a designer of the mini ball valve, which is a staple item for plumbing wholesalers and retailers such as Home Depot, Canadian Tire, RONA, and Home Hardware.

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January 9, 2009

Congress 2009 Announces Awards

At Landscape Ontario’s Congress 2009 in Toronto, Best Booth awards were handed out to equipment suppliers Strongco and The Mojack, along with Envirobond Products Corp taking home best in show. Among other highlights at Canada’s 36th horticultural lawn and garden trade show, the first ever ‘Green Forum’ featured its own dedicated space on the floor with exhibitors showcasing green products and services and a stage for presentations on a variety of green topics.

Liquidation World Revenue Down

Liquidation World Inc.’s revenue for the first quarter, representing the 13 weeks ended January 4, 2009, decreased 10.8 per cent to $47.1 million from $52.8 million during the first quarter of fiscal 2008. Same store sales in the first quarter decreased 4.3 per cent. "Compared to the first quarter of last year we had seven fewer outlets, so we did anticipate a decline in sales from continuing operations. The decline in same store sales, however, is disappointing, says Craig Graham, chairman and interim president and CEO.

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January 6, 2009

Canadians Cut Spending More

Canadian consumers are planning more drastic cuts to spending than Americans and Europeans in 2009, says a survey by the Boston Consulting Group. It found that 62 per cent of Canadians plan to reduce spending in the year ahead, compared to 58 per cent of Americans and 56 per cent of Europeans. Furthermore, Canadians who plan to cut spending anticipate doing so by 15 per cent, a greater reduction than the 13 per cent by American consumers and 12 per cent by Europeans. However, Canadian consumers have entered the recession in a better structural position than U.S. consumers. They have higher savings rates at three per cent in 2008 compared with about 1.5 per cent among U.S. consumers. In addition, Canadians have lower debt-to-income ratios and bigger equity stakes in their homes. As well, average credit card debt per household in Canada is $3,100 compared with $8,200 in the United States. More than 70 per cent of Canadian households pay off credit card debt each month, versus less than half of those in the U.S.

CertainTeed Acquires Canadian Insulation Manufacturer 

CertainTeed Insulation has completed its acquisition of OFI, a Canadian manufacturer and distributor of fibreglass insulation. Under the agreement, CertainTeed acquires all the assets of the OFI Income Fund and the OFI Operating Trust, including Ottawa Fibre. The deal also includes facilities in Ottawa and Tillsonburg, ON, and Redcliff, AB. The move allows CertainTeed to improve its presence in Canada and will provide its “Canadian customers with a more consistent, locally produced source of CertainTeed-branded insulation utilizing OFI’s skilled and talented workforce,” says Peter Dachowski, president and CEO of CertainTeed.

Retailers Get Access To Videos

Beginning in January 2009, the Gift & Home Channel and the Canadian Gift and Tableware Association (CGTA) will enter into an understanding providing for retailer access to hundreds of videos designed to help them grow and prosper. The alliance involves a content exchange between both CGTA and the Gift and Home channel. The Gift & Home Channel (GHC), the first learning website for independent retailers, was launched in the fall of 2008 and now serves more than 35,000 independent retailers each month. Learning content is delivered in streaming video format as well as via interactive message boards and blogs.

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December 23, 2008

Composite Index Drops In November

The composite leading index fell by 0.7 per cent in November, its third straight retreat and the largest since January 1991, says Statistics Canada. The decline was dominated by a large drop in the stock market and in the housing index. The other eight components were about evenly balanced between increases and decreases with consumer spending remaining supportive of growth and the manufacturing indicators remaining steady, despite the deepening slump in the U.S. economy.

Consumer Confidence Down In December

The ‘Index of Consumer Confidence’ stumbled for the third consecutive month in December, falling 3.3 points to 67.7, says the Conference Board. "On a monthly basis, the index has now dropped significantly below early 1990s levels. Only during the recession of 1981-82 have we seen lower levels of confidence," says Glen Hodgson, senior vice-president and chief economist. Again this month, consumers indicated that they are financially worse off today than six months ago, and they expect to be worse off still six months from now.

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December 19, 2008

Retail Sales Falling

Retail sales totalled $35.9 billion in October with price reductions a key factor in the 0.9 per cent drop from September, says Statistics Canada. Overall, six of the eight retail sales sectors posted declines with the sharpest decline a 2.1 per cent drop in sales by furniture, home furnishings, and electronics stores, which posted its third decline in a row.

Housing Market Cools

After years of robust growth, the Canadian housing market has cooled off significantly, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. New home construction fell to a seven-year low in November. Housing starts in Canada have been trending downward since they peaked at an annual rate of 277,000 two and a half years ago. The rate in October was 212,000. By comparison in the United States, November’s seasonally adjusted annual rate came in at 625,000.

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December 17, 2008

TIM-BR MART Adds New Dealer Locations

TIM-BR MART has added five more dealer locations across Canada and a new member of the national network. Its newest location in Jacksonville, NB, TNT Insulation and Building Supplies, recently completed renovations and merchandising to be fully branded as ‘TNT TIM-BR MART.’ In Markham, ON, Gibson Roofing Supplies, a former ILDC member, is the newest industrial dealer of the group. North American Lumber launched its newest location – its 20th store – Unity Building Supplies in Unity, SK. And McDiarmid Lumber brings their number of locations to 17, by adding new operations in North Battleford and White City, SK; and St. Paul, AB.

Empty Shelves Cost Retailers

Retailers lose sales of at least one item to as many as 20 per cent of consumers coming into their stores, leading many consumers to quit shopping with the retailer altogether, says a research study from IHL Group – ‘What's the Deal with Out-of-Stocks’. "Retailers remain in denial when it comes to consumer's perceptions of out-of-stocks," says Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group. "Consumers don't care why the product is not available. They come in with money to spend at the stores and have to leave either because the shelves are empty, there is no one to help get a locked item, or the staff simply cannot find the merchandise even though the computer system says they have it. Nine per cent of all consumers in our study have simply stopped shopping at one or more retailers in the last 12 months due to the problem."

Power And Hand Tool Demand To Grow

Power and hand tool demand in the U.S. will increase 3.3 per cent annually through 2012 to $14.5 billion, says the ‘Power & Hand Tools’ study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. It predicts that an eventual recovery in housing starts will give the construction sector its best gains through 2012. As well, the aging U.S. housing stock will boost demand for contractors in remodeling and repair jobs. Although difficult times are ahead, the U.S. mortgage crisis is expected to keep more homeowners from selling their homes – boosting renovation and repair activity. This ongoing interest in DIY, along with the introduction of new products, especially improved cordless innovations, will continue to drive consumer tool demand.

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December 12, 2008

Consumer Turns Pessimistic

The Canadian consumer is turning increasingly pessimistic after years of healthy optimism, says TNS Canadian Facts’ ‘Consumer Confidence Index.’ The overall Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 83 compared with 95.6 last month. The index reached 105.7 last December. Only 16 per cent of Canadians think the current economy is at least fairly good. The survey also found that Canadians plan to spend $956 on holiday gifts, decorations, or other holiday items this season. This is only slightly lower than December of last year when the estimate was $961.

Moen Joins Green Council

Moen Canada has joined the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). A non-profit organization, CaGBC's mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life. Moen has a history of environmental initiatives – from eliminating waste in the manufacturing process to recycling water and reusing materials. Its biggest commitment, however, is its eco-friendly products, which help save water.

Ace Launches Greeting Campaign

Ace Hardware recently launched 'Ace Your Face,' a viral campaign that provides customers an entertaining way to send holiday greetings to family, friends, and coworkers. The online tool, available at http://aceyourface.acehardware.com/, allows individuals to create customized holiday scenes of themselves and family. So far, the marketing initiative has attracted nearly 60,000 visitors and, during the first week, was in top spot in Google’s natural search results.

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December 9, 2008

Canada No Longer Immune To Housing Downturn  

Canada no longer appears to be immune to a generalized housing downturn though housing affordability conditions across all segments have started to improve, says a housing report from RBC Economics. "While the Canadian housing sector is entering a cyclical downturn, the risk of experiencing a U.S.-style meltdown is remote," says Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. "Many of the factors that triggered the collapse in the United States are either absent or of much lower significance on this side of the border." The report notes that as a sluggish Canadian economy threatens income growth and erodes consumer confidence, the facts that the sub-prime business remains marginal and banks are stable and lending will mitigate some of the downside risks to the housing sector. "These factors should provide enough of a foundation to prevent housing markets from spiraling down even as the Canadian economy slips into recession," says Hogue.

NAL Adds 20th Location

North American Lumber (NAL) has increased its presence across the Prairies by adding its 20th location. It has acquired Unity Building Supplies in Unity, SK. It consists of a 1,500 square foot retail store with two drive-through LBM warehouses. Larry and Ellen Wagner, former owners, will carry on in management roles. The 102-year-old NAL now has 10 locations in Saskatchewan, six in Manitoba, and four in northwestern Ontario.

Panel Discusses Construction Labour Shortage

With serious skilled-labour shortages facing the construction industry, companies need to provide better incentives and career planning to keep younger workers engaged, said Richard Knapp, president of professional tool manufacturer, Hilti Canada. As part of Hilti’s panel discussion, ‘Skilled labour: a risk factor?’ at the Homebuilder & Renovator Expo in Toronto, ON, Knapp spoke on how the manufacturing community and construction firms can work together to ensure incoming Gen-Y workers enter the workforce as capable professionals, willing to grow with a company, through joint training programs and apprenticeships.

Plumbing Demand Grows

Demand for plumbing products in China is projected to increase 9.9 per cent per annum through 2012 to 121 billion yuan, outpacing growth in most other parts of the world, says The Freedonia Group, Inc. Its ‘Plumbing in China’ study says China is expected to account for over one-half of the increase in global demand to 2012. Market advances will be driven primarily by gains in Chinese building construction activity as industrialization efforts continue and income levels rise. Gains will also be supported by ongoing trends toward multiple bathrooms and larger kitchens in dwellings and further penetration of items such as bathtubs and showers in Chinese homes. The residential market accounted for more than 70 per cent of plumbing product demand in 2007, and will continue to dominate demand through 2012.

Landscaping Sound Investment Amidst Recession

The landscape services industry is expected to grow 10 per cent in the next five years, says a report from SBI. ‘Landscape Services Market in the U.S.’ says increased awareness in both the public and private sectors of environmental issues is a major driver of landscape installations, making landscaping a source of aesthetic, ecological, and financial improvements. Major trends include green landscape designs and installations that can reduce costs of heating, cooling, electric, and water by as much as 50 per cent.

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December 5, 2008

Building Activity Drops In October

The total value of building permits decreased 15.7 per cent to $5.4 billion in October, says Statistics Canada. Construction intentions fell in both the residential and non-residential sectors. The value of non-residential permits declined 23.9 per cent to $2.4 billion following a 41 per cent increase in September. Municipalities issued $3 billion in permits for the residential sector in October, down 7.8 per cent. It was the third consecutive monthly drop, and was a result of declines in both single and multiple dwellings.

Blue Christmas, Modest Recovery Ahead For Retailers

It’s going to be a “Blue Christmas” for retailers as “tight-fisted” consumers look for more specials and as the lower Canadian dollar makes costs for offshore goods higher, says retail market research group, Kubas. The consulting firm expects slow overall retail sales through the first half of 2009, due mostly to downturns in the automotive sector. However, it predicts a modest recovery in the latter half of 2009 for the Canadian retail industry with 3.3 per cent growth in retail store merchandise next year.

Lessons From Retail Battlefield Presented

‘Creating Excitement for Customers in a Downturn and Beyond: Lessons From the Retail Battlefield in Canada and Around the World’ will be the topic of a ‘Retail Experts Speaker Series @ Rotman’ session January 14 in Toronto, ON. Mark Foote, president and CEO, Zellers; and Tim McGuire, director, McKinsey & Company; will be the presenters. For more information, visit www.rotman.utoronto.ca/events

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December 4, 2008

ACE Appoints New Leaders

Rick Affolter is vice-president of finance and Rick Whitson is vice-president of retail support at Ace Hardware. Affolter joins Ace from HD Supply, Inc., a wholesale distributor of construction products, where he was director of finance. Whitson is a 29-year veteran of Ace and will now direct its 14 retail distribution support centres and six cross-dock facilities.

Sears Reports Loss

Sears Holdings Corp. posted a third quarter loss of $146 million, compared to a profit of $4 million in the same quarter last year. Same-store sales declined 10.6 per cent at Sears department stores in the United States and were down seven per cent at Kmart. The company’s revenues dropped more than eight per cent to $10.66 billion.

Eco-friendly Alternatives Presented

This year’s Congress 2009, Canada’s International Horticultural Lawn and Garden Trade Show and Conference, is showcasing a variety of new green products that will be available to consumers in 2009. Eco-friendly alternatives will range from rainwater harvesting system to backpack leaf blowers. For more information, visit www.locongress.com

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December 3, 2008

Selkirk Introduces Venting System

Selkirk has introduced a product designed to make stoves burning eco-friendly bio-fuels less problematic for homeowners and installers. Direct-Temp for Multi-Fuel Stoves is a venting system designed to address the problem of highly corrosive flue gases produced by burning corn, grain, or other bio-fuels. This installer-friendly product converts any conventional corn-burning or multi-fuel stove into a direct vent system.

Kennedy Leads Ontario Region

Paul Kennedy has been appointed to lead Wolseley Canada’s Ontario region. He will retain his current responsibilities as vice-president and district manager in Ferguson’s North Central district. His new leadership role in Canada furthers the integration of Ferguson and Wolseley Canada. He has been in the industry since 1988 and joined Ferguson in 2001 as part of the Westburne acquisition.

CertainTeed Offers Leakage Protection

Through its exclusive agreement with Armtec of Canada, CertainTeed Corporation now offers U.S. foundation contractors and builders quadruple the foundation leakage protection with the introduction of Platon DOUBLEDRAIN. Platon DOUBLEDRAIN is a double-sided high-density polyethylene-studded membrane used to wrap foundations during the construction process to help prevent interior moisture penetration.

Landscape Ontario Green For Life

Landscape Ontario introducing a ‘Green for Life’ program. Its mission is to raise awareness for the environmental, economic, and lifestyle benefits of gardens and green space. Outreach will include a new consumer website launching in spring 2009. The website will showcase hundreds of award-winning member designs to help inspire consumers to better use their outdoor living spaces.

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