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

News

May 29, 2009

Can-Save Expo Delivers Deals

Once again, Can-Save’s Expo 2009 hit the Barrie Molson Centre, delivering plenty of great deals and plenty of fun too, said Larry Koza, managing partner of Can-Save. Now in its 18th year, “the show always tries to strike the right balance between offering business to dealers while showing respect and appreciation to all those that have came so far to attend,” Koza said. This time around, a lot of work went into providing attendees with wonderful entertainment and prizes, from having rock band Chilliwack performing live, to all-day ballot draws, ‘swag tosses,’ and Can-Save warehouse tours. This year’s theme was ‘Taking Back the Business,’ aimed at helping dealers retain business lost to other channels in their markets, mainly through helpful show seminars by Cabinetsmith, Merillat, and Jeld-Wen.

Sears Introduces Painting Services

Sears Canada Inc. has launched residential painting services in selected markets, which will qualify for the federal government's new Home Renovations Tax Credit. "It is the perfect solution to Canadians who are increasingly pressed for time and want a trusted brand to help with home renovations," said Dene Rogers, president and CEO. The service will be done by licensed, insured, professional painters, and includes all aspects of interior and exterior home painting. As part of the service, Sears consultants will help consumers choose the colour, finish, and look they want to achieve, and will return to inspect the completed job to ensure customer satisfaction.

Home Depot Announces 1Q Dividend

The Home Depot’s board of directors declared a first quarter cash dividend of 22.5 cents per share. The dividend will be payable on June 25, 2009 to shareholders of record on the close of business on June 11, 2009. Home Depot has paid a cash dividend for 89 consecutive quarters.

Canadian Tire Helping Kids Play

Canadian Tire stores will donate $1 for every purchase, with a goal to help give 20,000 kids in financial need the chance to take part in organized sports and recreation. Canadian Tire’s ‘Jumpstart Days’ will take place on Saturday, May 30th and Sunday, May 31st, 2009, with events scheduled in communities across the country, such as family-fun sports activities and barbecues. "One in three kids is still not able to play a sport in Canada because of financial barriers and Jumpstart Days is Canadian Tire's way of changing that statistic," says Dan Thompson, president, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

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May 28, 2009

Home Depot Reveals Fall Themes

The Home Depot unveiled its Fall 2009 design trend themes at a media event in Toronto. Manager of colour, trend & design, Frank Turco, revealed that the “classics are back,” as the ‘staycation’ phenomenon takes route and consumers look to cheer themselves up more by taking on small projects at home. Among its three new collection styles, ‘Heritage’ is most traditional and focuses on vintage, luxurious elements, such as opulent lighting, crown molding, panels, and drapery. ‘Harvest’ is focussed on eclectic country design, along with elements of nature, such as big harvest tables, wood plank floors, and organic prints and patterns. While ‘New Frontiers’ is most contemporary with global influences inspiring animal print or pattern, stylish lanterns, and finishes with shine, sheen, and gloss.

Retail Scholarships Recognize Students

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC), in partnership with other sponsoring retail organizations, will recognize 28 high school and post-secondary students with $1,000 scholarships to assist in their pursuit of retail as a career. On top of that, the Interac Association will provide the top applicant with a $5,000 scholarship. The scholarships will be given out at an Excellence in Retailing Awards dinner on June 1 as part of RCC's national STORE Conference. Applicants are judged by their academic performance, reference letters, and a personal essay on their retail experiences and how education can impact the future of the industry.

Ace Selects Ad Agency

Ace Hardware chose GSD&M Idea City to be their national lead creative advertising agency, responsible for the company’s T.V., radio, print, and online advertising efforts. Through the partnership, Ace hopes to increase awareness of its brand and drive more attention to its 4,600 independently owned and operated stores worldwide.

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May 27, 2009

Canadian Tire Helps Create Green Space

Canadian Tire worked side by side with City of Toronto staff and Fiskars Project Orange Thumb, for one day, to help residents create a new green space for their Scarborough Village community. Fiskars Project Orange Thumb brings garden makeover programs to communities across Canada. Mike Arnett, president of Canadian Tire Retail, along with City of Toronto Mayor David Miller, took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the new garden on 3620 Kingston Rd. in Toronto, which features flowering plants, shade-giving trees, raised beds, and a relaxing sitting area.

Floral Expo Gets New Director

The Floral & Garden Expo named the president of Bloemen Décor, Albert Graves, as its new artistic director. Graves brings more than 20 years experience in the floral decor industry and has been teaching the floral design program at Humber College for the past 12 years. His vision for the Floral & Garden Expo is to create a place where the industry comes together, and where retailers can better communicate with growers, wholesalers, and suppliers. For more information on the Floral & Garden Expo, October 20 and 21, 2009, visit www.gardenexpo.ca.

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May 26, 2009

IKEA Planting Trees For A Day

IKEA workers across Canada will be planting saplings, trees, and shrubs on May 26 as part of its ‘Pick a Tree, Plant a Tree’ program (with the exception of Calgary scheduled for June 3). The program is being supported through IKEA’s Christmas tree sales and the $0.05 charged for plastic bags. In support of Tree Canada, the initiative is meant to restore green spaces in communities and will be responsible for 14,450 trees and shrubs – expected to offset a total of 1774.4 tonnes of CO(2) in a 20 year period.

Kester Named Regional Merchandiser

RONA inc. named Tim D. Kester as its Western Division regional merchandiser. Formerly, Kester was RONA’s manager – Western Canada for the Installation Sales and Service Division. He’s been with RONA for 16 years and has a degree in Forestry.

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May 25, 2009

Retail Sales Up

For the third consecutive month, retail sales rose in March by 0.3 per cent to $33.9 billion, says Statistics Canada. A 3.6 per cent increase in sales at new car dealers was the main contributor to the growth. Building and outdoor home supplies stores saw sales fall by 0.6 per cent, due mainly to lower sales in the westernmost provinces and unseasonably poor weather in Alberta. As well, sales at food and beverage stores increased for the third consecutive month by 0.9 per cent.

Consumer Confidence Climbs

The TNS Canadian Facts' Consumer Confidence Index reflects a growing optimism in Canadians' view of the state of the economy – it was at 83.7 in March, climbed to 90.5 in April, and is now 94.1 this month. This index tracks Canadians' attitudes about the economy each month and is part of a global study conducted in 18 countries by custom research agency TNS. "The picture developing in the minds of Canadian consumers is one of steadying confidence. Much like the stock markets, consumers have discounted the negative economic news in their future assessments – and those assessments are getting brighter," said Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts.

Costco VP Retailer Of The Year

Te Retail Council of Canada (RCC) named Louise Wendling, senior vice president and country manager for Costco Wholesale Canada, as the 2009 Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year. The award recognizes a retailer who has led his/her company to outstanding business success and innovation. Wendling joined the struggling Costco in 1983, but helped turn it into one of Canada's most successful retail chains. Wendling will receive the award at RCC's Gala dinner on June 1, as part of their national STORE conference in Toronto.

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May 22, 2009

Fed Announces Credit Card Rules

Among the several new regulations announced byFinance Minister Jim Flaherty, credit card companies must give customers a three-week grace period for interest on credit card purchases. Currently, many financial institutions set their own grace periods, ranging from 15 to 24 days and charge interest immediately on new purchases if a consumer is carrying a balance from the previous month. But with the new rules, consumers would only have to pay interest on balances carried over from the previous month – new purchases would be interest-free for at least 21 days. The new rules will also stop companies from jacking up rates without consumer knowledge, as they will have to inform consumers of rate changes on monthly statements to help them plan for increases.

Retail Index Reflects Spending Boost

The latest edition of the Retail Reid Index has risen to 105.4 per cent (compared to January 2009), up 1.2 per cent over March. Among the key drivers of growth are spending increases in seasonal, apparel, sporting goods, and home furnishing. The index reflects a representative national sample of Canadian adults asked at the beginning of May about their expenditures in the month of April. According to the Index, the Canadian retail market is showing positive month-by-month performance versus January.

Ace Paint Celebrates 25 Years

Ace paint, a division of Ace Hardware Corporation, is celebrating 25 years of business and is introducing new packaging for its two core brands – Royal™ and Quality™. As Ace Paint starts its next quarter century, it says it will remain focused on providing customers with high-quality products and services, and will continue its commitment to the environment. “It’s very rare for major retailers to manufacture their own products, which is one of the primary reasons for our long-term success,” said Bill Bauman, vice-president of retail support and paint manufacturing for Ace.

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May 21, 2009

Leading Indicators Improve

Statistics Canada found that the rate of decline of the smoothed version of the leading indicator slowed from 1.5 per cent in March to 1.1 per cent in April. Both financial components rose in April, as the money supply expanded steadily and the stock market improved. After seven straight declines, the unsmoothed version of the index rose 0.5 per cent. The housing index drop improved to 1.2 per cent, the smallest decline in seven months. Manufacturing indicators also eased, as new orders slowed to a 7.3 per cent decrease.

Sears Announces 1Q Results

Sears Canada had revenues of $1.117 billion for the 13-week quarter ended May 2, 2009, compared to $1.254 billion for the same period last year – a decrease of 10.9 per cent. Same store sales also decreased 10.4 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were $10.3 million compared to net earnings of $70.8 million for the same quarter last year. "Considering the economic conditions, Sears delivered solid results and I commend our 33,000 associates for their contribution to these results,” said Dene Rogers, president and CEO, Sears Canada Inc.

Night At The Races For CHHMA

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) will hold its ‘13th Annual Night at the Races’ June 24, 2009, at Woodbine Race Track in Toronto. It’s a chance for members to win valuable prizes and for team building. Tickets include admission, buffet dinner, and a racing program. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca.

Home Depot Re-hires VP

Bill Lennie, the Home Depot’s former senior vice-president of merchandising for décor, has rejoined the company. Lennie will now serve as vice-president of merchandising, international, and will work with Annette Verschuren, president of Home Depot Canada and Asia. After leaving Home Depot in 2006, Lennie has worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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May 20, 2009

Ace Net Income Up

Ace Hardware Corporation reported net income of $14.4 million for the quarter ended April 4, 2009, an increase of $3.7 million or 34.3 per cent, compared to $10.8 million for the comparable 2008 quarter. After excluding certain non-comparable items, Ace reported adjusted EBITDA of $30.9 million for the first quarter of 2009 as compared to $31.2 million in the prior year quarter.  “While the current state of the economy at retail continues to struggle, we continue to be focused on assisting our retailers to ensure that they have what their customers need every day,” said Ray Griffith, Ace president and CEO.  

CertainTeed Names New Director

CertainTeed Gypsum named Eric Marceau as director of sales for Quebec and Eastern Ontario. Previously, he was warehouse manager at the company’s facility in Montreal. He has a degree in chemistry and a Master’s in business. The Quebec sales team will report to Marceau going forward.

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May 19, 2009

Share Prices Jump

Share prices at the two largest home improvement chains in the U.S. climbed in Monday trading after Lowe's Cos. Inc. reported better-than-expected first-quarter profit and boosted its full-year outlook. Shares of Lowe's climbed as much as 12 per cent before dropping slightly following the release of its earnings figures before trading began Monday. Shares of The Home Depot Inc. climbed seven per cent. Lowe's said it earned $476 million, or 32 cents per share, for the three months that ended May 1. Analysts had expected the retailer to earn 25 cents per share. Its sales dipped two per cent to $11.83 billion from $12.01 billion.

Home Depot Profit Climbs

Home Depot Inc.'s first-quarter profit climbed 44 per cent on fewer charges. It earned $514 million, or 30 cents per share, for the quarter ended May 3, compared with $356 million, or 21 cents per share, a year ago. Prior-year results included $543 million in charges related to previously announced store closings and the shrinking of future store growth plans. Based on prior-year earnings from continuing operations of $2.31 billion and revenue of $71.29 billion, Home Depot is likely to report 2009 earnings of approximately $2.15 billion on sales of about $64.9 billion.

Builder Confidence Improves

The National Association of Homebuilders survey of builder confidence in the U.S. increased for the second straight month in May, reflecting growing optimism on the part of many builders. The group's index rose two points to 16, the highest reading since September. Economists view rising builder sentiment as an encouraging sign as it means potential buyers are starting to take a look around.

TIM-BR MART Adds New Locations

TIM-BR MART has added an Atlantic dealer and new locations for two of its current dealers. Former BMR Member Barret Lumber Co., located in Beaver Bank, Lower Sackville, NS, will become the newest TIM-BR MART member. As well, Brandon TIM-BR MART, previously known as Brandon Forest Products, will become the first fully branded TIM-BR MART location in the greater Toronto area later this year – representing the eighth location owned and operated by Dennis Doidge. Dealer Mark Brumm added a new ALTA-WIDE TIM-BR MART in Whitecourt, AB, bringing his store count to five, all in central Alberta.

Home Hardware Supporting NHL Relocation

Home Hardware Stores Limited announced its support for the ‘Make it Seven’ campaign led by Jim Balsillie, to bring a seventh NHL team to Canada. The campaign was launched May 5, 2009 after Balsillie tabled his offer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and expressed his goal of re-locating the team to Southern Ontario. Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO commented: “With our passion for the game and presence in communities across Canada, Home Hardware is an ideal supporter for ‘Make it Seven. In the coming weeks our Dealers will be asking their staff, customers and neighbours to visit makeitseven.ca and show their support and belief that there is no better hockey market in the world than Canada.”

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May 15, 2009

Canadian Tire Retail Sales Up

Sales for Canadian Tire Retail were up four per cent and overall same store sales were up 2.5 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2008. Net earnings were down 10.9 per cent compared to the first quarter of last year while shipment levels for the quarter grew two per cent compared to the same 2008 period. The company says its focus was to continue sales momentum in Canadian Tire Retail and to effectively manage credit card receivables. "On both accounts the Company has performed well and results are in line with our expectations,” said Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO, Canadian Tire.

RONA Launches New Collection

RONA unveiled new items from its RONA by Design 2009 collection at an event in downtown Toronto. The presentation included major trends behind the key design concepts – ‘Oasis,’ ‘Global Village,’ and ‘Spirit’ – which allow consumers to create their own home decoration and renovation projects for basements, bathrooms, and bedrooms, along with ideas for facades, terraces, gardens, and balconies. “Every year we make sure that RONA by Design concepts are in tune with the leading trends and colours, as well as responding to the latest consumer needs,” said RONA trend expert Josette Buisson.

Liquidation World Appoints Chairman

Liquidation World Inc. appointed William E. Wolf to Chairman of the board of directors, as Craig Graham announced his resignation from the role. Wolf has worked closely with Seth Marks, Liquidation World's CEO and president, to identify and lead Talon Asset Management’s investment in Liquidation World earlier this year, at which time Wolf became a director of Liquidation World. "Bill Wolf has provided Liquidation World with a new lease on life by identifying its potential and then providing the initial financial support that it required earlier this year," said former chairman Graham.

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May 14, 2009

Wall Covering Growth Predicted

Demand for wall coverings in the U.S. is expected to grow 4.2 per cent annually to $2.4 billion in 2013, says a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. The forecast represents a significant improvement over the performance from 2003 to 2008 thanks to, among other things, expected growth in new home building and the development of new products, such as removable wallpaper, wallpaper cut-outs, customized wallpaper, and low-emission and mold-resistant products – all making wallpaper more consumer friendly and easier to use. Specifically, the report predicts demand for wall panels to advance four per cent per year to $920 million in 2013; demand for decorative wall tile to increase five per cent annually to $920 million in 2013; wallpaper projected to advance 2.7 per cent annually to $440 million in 2013; and finished gypsum board demand to increase 4.2 per cent annually to $80 million in 2013.

RONA Plans $150 Million Equity Issue

RONA has entered into an agreement with a group of underwriters led by Scotia Capital Inc., meant to strengthen RONA's balance sheet and increase its financial flexibility. As part of the agreement, the underwriters have agreed to purchase 11,630,000 common shares at a price of $12.90 per share for aggregate gross proceeds to RONA of $150,027,000. As well, RONA agreed to grant the underwriters an "Over-Allotment Option" to buy up to an additional 1,744,500 shares at a price of $12.90 per share. The company says it will use the net proceeds to reduce indebtedness, contribute to funding of strategic capital projects, and for general corporate purposes.

NAWLA Announces New Officers

The North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) appointed its newest officers for the 2009-2010 term. Serving as chairman will be George (Buck) Hutchison of Hutchison Lumber & Building Products in Adams City, CO. Chris Beveridge of Skana Forest Products in Richmond, BC will serve as the first vice chairman, and Gary Vitale of T.W. Hager Lumber in Grand Rapids, MI will be the second vice chairman. NAWLA also elected Bill Barnett of Marathon Forest Products in North Vancouver, BC as treasurer.

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May 13, 2009

Exterior Stains Go Green 

As Canadians increasingly look for green lifestyles by extending their living spaces outside, CIL Paints has launched a new line of exterior wood stains that are better for the environment. Available in three different performance levels – ultra premium, premium, and mainline –this new exterior wood stain is formulated using a low VOC (volatile organic compound) hybrid formulation of water-based acrylic latex mixed with natural oils or alkyd resins to maximize the protection and shine of the coating. Simple to apply, it contains a weatherproof shield, resists mildew, and guards against wood rot and decay.

  Easy Projects Add Value

Homeowners can add value to their homes without depleting their bank accounts with a number of short and affordable DIY projects, says Black & Decker Hardware and Home Improvement Group. Details such as a new sink faucet or new hardware cabinetry need not be labour intensive. In fact, home improvements projects that can be done in one hour or less are one of the fastest growing sectors. The top five easiest and quickest improvements are installing a lockset, recaulking a bathroom, installing a faucet, updating hardware on cabinetry, and upgrading light fixtures. “These do-it-yourself projects are economical and easy to do, and the return a homeowner will get on their investment is invaluable,” says Mark Wallace, group marketing manager.

RONA Reveals First Quarter Results

RONA inc. had a 7.2 per cent decline in consolidated sales, which stood at $846 million for first quarter 2009, compared to $911.5 million in 2008. This decline is largely the result of an 8.5 per cent drop in same-store sales due to low levels of consumer confidence in the economy, the significant drop in housing starts in Western Canada, and a seasonal effect exacerbated by a period of intense cold at the beginning of the year, which affected sales of construction materials and forest products everywhere in the country.

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May 12, 2009

Black & Decker Earnings Down

Black & Decker had net earnings of $4.9 million for the first quarter of 2009, a decline of 93 per cent from sales of $67.4 million during the same period a year ago. Sales in the quarter fell 28 per cent to $1.1 billion, despite the fact that management cut selling, general, and administrative expenses by 23 per cent. Sales in its power tool and accessories segment declined 23 per cent, while hardware and home improvement sales dropped 19 per cent.

Show Starts In India

Koelnmesse’s inaugural ‘India International Hardware Show’ is slated for October 28 to 30. The event, described as a one-stop-shop for tools, security, locks and fittings, home improvement, and DIY, will offer companies an opportunity to reach the developing market in India. It expects to attract about 160 international and domestic exhibitors and 4,000 visitors.

True Value Revenues Decrease

True Value had revenues of $442.9 million, a decrease of 4.7 per cent from $464.7 million for the same period a year ago. The economic recession has impacted the company’s financial results, it said in a statement.

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May 11, 2009

Appliances Becoming More Efficient

Manufacturers continue to produce major appliances that consume less energy, says The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). According to the group’s 2008 Energy Efficiency and Consumption Trends data for home appliances, 2008 shipments show that clothes washers had a 64 per cent decrease in energy consumption per unit since 2000. The report also reveals that both refrigerators and dishwashers are over 30 per cent more efficient than models sold in 2000. Furthermore, the average refrigerator made in 2008 used three per cent less energy than those made the year before and uses less energy than a 60 watt light bulb that is left on 24 hours a day.

April Housing Starts Drop

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reports the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts dropped to 117,400 units in April from 146,500 units in March. The decrease is due to the volatile multiple starts segment, the CMHC says. Improvement is expected, however new home construction is unlikely to match the pace set over the past seven years, which exceeded 200,000 units per year. Starts will remain more aligned to demographic demand, which is estimated at about 175,000 units per year. For urban starts in April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate decreased 24 per cent to 96,800 units. Urban multiple starts decreased 32.7 per cent to 54,700 units and urban single starts decreased 8.7 per cent to 42,100 in April. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 20,600 units in April.

Castle Adds Quebec Development Manager

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. announced the appointment of Robert Legault as business development manager, Quebec region. In his new role, he will provide leadership for current and future members as Castle grows in Quebec. Legault brings more than 30 years of experience and knowledge of the Quebec independent lumber and building materials marketplace.

Partnership Delivers New Siding Collection

Nicholson and Cates (N&C) has partnered with six other companies to deliver a new collection of performance brand sidings. The partnership includes BellaStone, CertainTeed Fiber Cement, Fraser Wood Siding, Fusion Stone, Western Red Cedar, and Versatex Trimboard. “We can now offer the industry a premium collection which includes non-masonry stone siding, fiber cement, prefinished natural wood, mechanically fastened manufactured stone, western red cedar solid wood siding and cellular PVC trim products,” said N&C president, Jim Livermore.

Walmart To Build Alberta DC

Walmart Canada announced it will invest $115 million towards a distribution centre in Balzac, Alberta, built and operated with rigid environmental standards. The 400,000-square-foot centre will serve as a distribution hub for fresh food for Walmart stores in Western Canada, and will support the company’s modern Supercentre format, including a range of grocery items. The facility will be among the largest refrigerated buildings in Canada and will generate approximately 1,400 jobs. It’s sustainability features will include, among other things, environmentally preferable construction materials, innovative temperature controls, ‘responsible refrideration,’ and energy efficient lighting.

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May 8, 2009

Building Permits Up

Thanks mainly to the non-residential sector in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, contractors took out $4.5 billion in building permits in March, up 23.5 per cent from February. The new numbers represent a break from five consecutive months of declines. Non-residential intentions increased 47.9 per cent to $2.3 billion, as a result of increases in the commercial and institutional components in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. For the residential sector, the value of permits grew five per cent to $2.2 billion, due to higher construction intentions in both multi-family and single-family permits. 

Canadian Tire Launches HRTC Top-Up

Canadian Tire has launched a savings program for customers undertaking a renovation project and as a top-up to the Home Renovation Tax Credit. From May 9 to June 5, the ‘Small Jobs Big Returns’ program will allow customers spending $199 or more on home improvement products to receive $25, $75, or $150 back in Canadian Tire Gift Cards “The added bonus is that both smaller and larger purchases are eligible in our program and customers won't have to wait until tax time next year to reap the rewards," says Duncan Reith, Canadian Tire Retail.

Walmart Invites Packaging Concerns

Walmart Canada is inviting consumers to voice their concerns about excessive or inappropriate packaging, as part of its commitment to become a zero-waste business. Canadians can submit their concerns on its sustainability website, www.forrthegreenergood.ca. The announcement – made at ‘Sustainable Packaging: A Strategic Imperative,’ hosted by Walmart and the Packaging Association of Canada – is part of a plan to hold product manufacturers more accountable for their packaging choices, and to reduce product packaging in Walmart Canada stores by five per cent by 2013.

Competition Promotes Skilled Trades

To promote careers in skilled trades and technologies, Skills Canada announced it will host its 15th Canadian Skills Competition from May 20-23 in Charlottetown, PEI. The event will bring together more than 500 young students and apprentices to raise awareness for skilled trades – such as carpentry, automotive, and electrical installations – as a preferred career path. The event also marks the 104-day countdown to WorldSkills Calgary 2009, Sept. 1-7, where Team Canada will competes at the international level. For more information, visit www.skills2009.ca or www.worldskills2009.com.

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May 7, 2009

Landscaping Product Demand To Rise

Demand for landscaping products is expected to rise 6.1 per cent per year to $7.5 billion in 2013, says a new study by research firm, The Freedonia Group, Inc. Due to the recessionary environment, these gains in the short term will be modest but the figures represent an acceleration from the pace set during the 2003-2008 period. The report, ‘Landscaping Products,’ finds lifestyle trends focusing on family and staying at home will promote the use of these items, which include decorative products, hardscape products, and outdoor structures. As consumers continue to value the aesthetics and durability of concrete products, stones, and boulders for patios and walkways, hardscapes will experience favourable growth. As well, renewed interest in gardening will fuel demand for structures such as greenhouses, gazebos, and pergolas.

New RFID Approaches Covered At Show

Implementing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can add many benefits to retail inventory/supplier warehouse systems, but the technology can add many incremental costs as well, said Paul de Blois, vice-president and general manager of HIDE Pack. At PackEx Toronto, the National Packaging and Material Handling show, de Blois discussed how RFID can deliver real time and reliable control of supply chains, but in new, more cost-effective ways. He outlined new ‘Smart Box’ solutions companies are currently using that feature RFID microchips embedded in packaging structures, reducing the capital investment required to implement RFID, reducing labour costs associated with applying the labelling, and increasing the ROI for businesses interested.

DAP Gets Golden Hammer

DAP Products Inc. was recognized with its fourth consecutive Golden Hammer Award in the Caulking & Sealants category at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. The company was selected by the top 500 home center/building material dealers/retailers because of its commitment to retailer sales, support, marketing, and partnership efforts. “DAP is extremely honoured to be recognized by our peers with this prestigious award for the fourth consecutive year and seventh time this century,” said David Fuller, vice-president of marketing.

Reno-Depot Redesigns Complete

RONA announced renovation work on two of its Reno-Depot stores in Laval and Pointe-Claire, QC is complete. The investment in the stores, worth close to $4 million, included an overhaul to reflect the new Reno-Depot concept, featuring greater product selection, wider central aisles, and more space for professional customers. These two stores are among the list of eight redesigned Reno-Depot stores. All together, there are 16 stores in Quebec under the Reno-Depot banner.

Housing Slump Hurts Weyerhaeuser In 1Q

Weyerhaeuser Co. experienced a first-quarter loss of $264 million compared to the $148 million lost in the same quarter a year ago. The lumber, pulp, and wood producer also saw revenue fall 37 per cent to $1.28 billion as the recession hurt volumes and prices across all of its products. Revenue for its wood products business fell 44 per cent to $542 million. Like many others, the company says it’s struggling with a three-year slump in housing. "No one expected the housing market to plummet to levels we haven't seen for decades," said Dan Fulton, Weyerhaeuser's CEO.

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May 6, 2009

Housing Market Starts To Emerge

Canada's housing market is showing signs of emerging from its winter hibernation, says a Scotia Economics ‘Real Estate Trends’ report. Nationally, home sales strengthened in both February and March and preliminary reports suggest this firming trend continued in April. The rise in demand, combined with fewer new listings, has restored a better balance to the market. The national new-listings-to-sales ratio averaged 2.2 in March, down from a cycle peak of 2.7 last November.

Local Hardware Stores Rated Highly

Local hardware stores were rated highly in terms of helpfulness of staff and offering the best checkout experience for customers, says a survey by Maritz Research Canada. In terms of likelihood to purchase, local stores were rated the highest. When it comes to making a recommendation about a store, local stores again ranked highest followed by Home Hardware. The highest satisfaction scores were given to Home Hardware and Home Depot.

Home Outfitters Expands In Canada

Kitchen and bath retailer, Home Outfitters, will add five new Canadian locations bringing its national count to 67 stores. The new stores will be located in Victoria, BC; Coquitlam, BC; Winnipeg, MB; Burlington, ON; and Vaughan Mills, ON. The Hudson’s Bay-owned company will celebrate these grand openings at each of the five new locations May 9 with special opening day sales.

Green Demand Driving Chinese Supplier Growth

The demand for ‘green’ products continues to drive growth in China, despite the worldwide economic downturn, says a new Global Sources report. The ‘China Sourcing Report: Lighting & Electrical’ found that growing demand for renewable energy and power saving lighting and electrical devices, along with legislation favouring these products, has allowed Chinese suppliers to cope with the exporting challenges facing them. The report found that, going forward, Chinese suppliers remain optimistic and a majority expect sales growth of more than 10 per cent. As well, with more Chinese suppliers producing eco-friendly products, “buyers sourcing from China can expect to find a greater range of products at even lower prices than what they paid in 2008.”

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May 5, 2009

Retail Spending Preferences Uncovered

Canadians continue to spend their money at retail outlets, despite the uncertain economic climate, but remain cautious and are focusing most on essential spending, says a survey by Maritz Research Canada. The survey polled 872 Canadians online in March 2009 who had made a purchase at a discount, home improvement, or grocery store in the last six months. It found that brand consideration significantly determines what Canadians are spending at retail outlets. Surprisingly, it also found that product price ranks low on customers’ list of priorities, while the top drivers of a positive shopping experience include store appearance, merchandise offered, and the quality of customer service received. Also of note, 38 per cent said they were more or somewhat likely to shop at stores that offer reusable shopping bags, and 58 per cent said they would be likely to consider using self-checkout counters.

Home Hardware Finds Contractors Optimistic

Home Hardware’s Tough as Nails Contractor Club members have overwhelmingly expressed optimism for the 2009 building and renovating season. According to opinions polled at contractor shows across Canada, Home Hardware says 86 per cent of contractors feel 2009 would be as good, if not better, than 2008. Many of the contractors polled pointed to the federal government’s new 15 per cent Home Renovation Tax Credit for the successful rates of business, along with record-setting low interest rates helping home builders. “With all the doom and gloom that had been reported within the economy… I was not expecting the positive outlook that we received,” said Joe Jacklin, contractor-marketing manager for Home Hardware Stores Limited. 

Lowe’s, Skills Canada Join Forces

Skills Canada and Lowe’s Canada have announced a partnership to help build a stronger workforce in Ontario and to address the growing shortage of skilled trade professionals. The Lowe's Charitable and Education Foundation provided Skills Canada with a $200,000 grant that will go towards supporting community service projects, instructional program enhancements, and the Ontario Technological Skills Competition – an annual event which encourages skills education with youth. “This grant will help us further our mission to build a strong skilled trades workforce for the future," said Gail Smyth, executive director, Skills Canada - Ontario.

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May 4, 2009

Newell Rubbermaid Profits Slip

Newell Rubbermaid announced earnings of $33.7 million for the first quarter ended March 31, down 41 per cent from $56.9 million earned in the same period last year. Sales also slipped 16 per cent to $1.2 billion from $1.43 billion. The consumer products manufacturer said cost-cutting measures, falling commodities prices, and a decision last year to stop producing less-profitable products helped minimizes and helped beat Wall Street forecasts for the first quarter.

Owens Corning Posts 1Q Loss

Owens Corning Inc. reported a first-quarter loss of $28 million for the period ended March 31, versus a loss of $13 million during the same quarter last year. The producer of insulation, roofing and building materials saw sales fall 21 per cent to $1.1 billion from $1.4 billion in the first quarter of last year. It plans to cut costs by a total of $300 million this year by decreasing capacity and capital spending and reducing its work force, as the "challenging business environment is expected to persist through 2009," the company said.

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May 1, 2009

Canadian Tire Exclusive Garbage Bag Retailer

Canadian Tire stores throughout Toronto will become the exclusive retailer for City-issued yellow garbage bags and tags, as of May 1st, 2009. The new bags are part of the city’s goal to start diverting 70 per cent of its waste by 2010. The package of five City-issued bags will cost $15.50 and the yellow tags will be available for $3.10 each. For added convenience, the company says all city-issued bags and tags will be sold at stores’ customer service desks.

Building Show Focussed On Reno Market

BATIMAT 2009, the International Building Exhibition, reports that exhibitors are placing a great emphasis on renovations, given the current economic situation. The show will be organized around seven key areas – Structure, Joinery and Fenestration, Finishing and Decoration, Equipment and Tools, Sustainable Building Management, Services, and IT – which hope to benefit from the driving force of the renovation market. The show is set for November 2 to 7, 2009 at Paris Portes de Versailles, France and will cover 135,000 square metres of net exhibition space. For more information, visit www.batimat.com.

Kohler Appoints New President

Kitchen and bath products manufacturer, Kohler, appointed David Kohler to president and chief operating officer. In his new position, he will be responsible for leading the kitchen and bath group, global power group, interiors group, and technical services.  He will report to the company’s chairman and CEO, Herbert Kohler.

Trex Sales Drop

Trex Company, Inc. reported net sales of $67.7 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2009 versus $119.5 million for the same period last year. The manufacturer of decking, railing, fencing, and trim also announced a net loss of $3.1 million for the 2009 first quarter compared to a net income of $7.5 million for the same 2008 quarter.

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April 30, 2009

Canadians Plan To Use HRTC

A new survey by ResMor Trust Company finds that 94 per cent of Canadian homeowners planning to take on renovations between April, 2009 and February 1, 2010 will use the Federal Government’s Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC), introduced earlier this year. Among the 1,000 homeowners surveyed from across the country in April, 39 per cent said their decision to renovate was positively influenced by the introduction of the HRTC. Eighty-three per cent who plan to renovate said they intend to spend within the allowable amount to qualify for the tax credit (more than $1,000, but not more than $10,000). Half plan to use their savings to pay for their renovations, 30 per cent will use their line of credit, seven per cent said they will use credit cards, and five per cent plan to add the cost to their current mortgage.

Lawn & Garden Equipment Demand To Grow

Power lawn and garden equipment demand in the U.S. is expected to grow 2.7 per cent annually through 2013 to $9.7 billion, says a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. The report, ‘Power Lawn & Garden Equipment,’ finds that product innovations making equipment easier to use, more efficient, lighter weight, and with additional safety features will spur value gains. Lawnmowers will continue to be the largest product segment and among the fastest growing through 2013, benefiting from recovery in the housing market. Turf and grounds equipment is expected to post gains due to the continued growth in the number of professional landscapers, benefiting from an aging US population.

 Walmart Expands GreenLine

Walmart Canada announced it is expanding its GreenLine to include phosphate-free dish soap, dish detergent gel, and dish detergent tabs. Its private-label brand of environmentally preferable cleaning products, available in stores nationwide, now includes nine biodegradable, phosphate- and dye-free cleaners, without synthetic fragrances. The collection is certified by Environmental Choice's EcoLogo program and is also certified to be better for the environment.

  Tembec Reports 2Q Results

Tembec’s consolidated sales was $417 million for the quarter ended March 28, 2009, down from $593 million for the same period last year. The forest products company posted a net loss of $99 million for the quarter compared to a net loss of $42 million for the months of January and February 2008 and a net loss of $17 million for March 2008.

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April 28, 2009

TruServ Store Celebrates 50 Years

During its recent Spring Buying Show in Winnipeg, TruServ Canada recognized True Value Hardware in Beaverlodge, AB with the Golden Hammer Award for 50 years in retailing. The Calvert family opened the Macloeds operation in May 1959 and would later move the store to its current downtown location in 1966. Today, Byron Calvert runs the store, now a True Value, with his son Brent and partner Mick Walker. Despite tough local competition and a fire that destroyed their building in December 2002, the family has worked hard to continue serving its loyal customers who shop locally. The store will kick off its Anniversary celebration on May 14th with a three-day sale, door prizes, a barbeque, and giveaways.

Alternative Decking Growth Expected

U.S. demand for alternative decking is expected to grow nearly 10 per cent per year, while demand for wood decking in the U.S. is projected to advance less than one per cent annually through 2013. The findings come from a new report by The Freedonia Group Inc., ‘Wood & Competitive Decking.’ Overall, the study predicts demand for decking will reach 3.6 billion lineal feet in 2013, valued at $5.2 billion. As well, wood-plastic composite decking demand will rise 9.5 per cent per year to 700 million lineal feet and demand for plastic and other decking is projected to increase 9.7 per cent annually to 135 million lineal feet in 2013. Among the reasons behind alternative decking’s growth, consumers will continue to be drawn to its long lifespans, minimal maintenance, imperviousness to degradation, and its close resemblance to natural wood.

Giftware Show Announced

The Fall 2009 Canadian Gift and Tableware Association (CGTA) Gift Show is set to hit Toronto August 9th to 12th. The event is one of the biggest giftware shows in North America, with more than 1,100 exhibitors and more than 22,000 qualified retail buyers expected. It will take place at the Toronto International Centre and the Toronto Congress Centre and will cover more than one million square feet of display space. For more information, visit http://cgta.org.

Bailley Joins McDiarmid Lumber

Brian P. Bailley joined Manitoba building supplier, McDiarmid Lumber Ltd. In his new marketing operations role, Bailley will be responsible for programs targeted at home builders, commercial contractors, construction trade contractors, specialty trades, and architects.

ABSDA Elects First Woman Chair

The Atlantic Building Supply Dealers Association (ABSDA) elected Florenceville-Bristol, NB store manager, Pamela Brennan, as chair of its board of directors. As the first woman to hold this senior position in the association’s 55-year history, Brennan will be responsible for building on the ABSDA’s success and increasing membership.

RONA Appoints Head Of Asian Procurement

RONA has appointed Manon Bouchard to head of its procurement office in Shanghai, China. She will be responsible for monitoring supplier factories in Asia and ensuring they abide by RONA’s policies regarding issues such as child labour, wages, and working conditions. Formerly, Bouchard was category director for RONA’s merchandising of plumbing.

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April 27, 2009

NRHA Canada Adds Members

NRHA Canada has welcomed a number of dealers from across Canada to its ranks. These include Kent, Turkstra Lumber, and RONA Arrow Building Supplies. They join existing members such as Home Hardware Stores Limited, IRLY Distributors, and Federated Co-operatives. It product knowledge training program, with modules for both hardware and building materials, is available online to every dealer who joins. These include courses such as a ‘Basic Training Course in Hardware Retailing’ and ‘Basic Training Course in Building Materials Retailing.’

Home Hardware Elects Board Chairman

Jim Schaefer Sr., of Bradford, O, has been elected chairman of the board of directors of Home Hardware Stores Limited. He replaces Ron Goldade of Neepawa, MB, who retired after serving 19 years as a board member and seven years as chairman. Schaefer has owned and operated Bradford Home Hardware since 1978 and has served on Home Hardware’s national board since 1999. “It is a tremendous honour to represent more than 1,000 independent Home Hardware dealers across the country,” says Schaefer. 

February Retail Sales Up

Retail sales increased 0.2 per cent in February to $33.7 billion, says Statistics Canada. February’s increase was price-driven as sales were down 0.3 per cent in volume terms. The rise comes after considerable declines in retail sales in November and December, followed by a partial recovery in January. Sales rose in five of eight retail sectors, with the largest contributors to the increase in February being building and outdoor home supplies stores (three per cent) and food and beverage stores (0.7 per cent). The largest decline was a 1.9 per cent decrease in sales at furniture, home furnishings, and electronics stores in February.

Composite Leading Index Drops

The composite leading index dropped 1.3 per cent in March following a 1.4 per cent decrease in February. As widespread cutbacks were carried out in the auto industry early in the year, the contraction in the manufacturing sector intensified. However, this was offset by a slowdown in the fall of the housing and stock markets. All three manufacturing indicators fell in unison, with the sharpest decline for new orders, down a record 10.3 per cent due to falling demand for autos. The stock market continued its downward trend, falling 2.3 per cent in March, following five straight declines averaging nearly eight per cent per month. The housing index decline also moderated to 4.3 per cent in March from 7.7 per cent in February. Both housing starts and existing home sales saw improvements after several months of retreat.

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April 24, 2009

LaSalle Réno-Dépôt Opens

RONA inc. has opened a new 130,000-square-foot Réno-Dépôt store in LaSalle, QC, entirely rebuilt on the same site of the previous store. The original store’s demolition and construction represents a $20 million investment by RONA. In addition to 114,000 square feet of retail space, the store features a 16,000-square-foot garden centre and a product selection of 32,000 different items. The central axis of the store is lined with boutiques offering different decoration and finishing products.

Advanced Lighting Demand To Grow

U.S. demand for advanced lighting products is forecast to grow nearly 11 per cent per annum to $6.8 billion in 2013, according to ‘Advanced Lighting,’ a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. This increase will be spurred by legislation aimed at reducing energy consumption by lighting. Imports will account for almost 70 percent of demand in 2013, as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) are largely produced overseas. Demand for CFLs will surge more than 20 percent annually through 2013 as consumers transition to the new technology. LEDs will also experience robust growth through 2013, benefiting from greater demand in consumer electronics, motor vehicles, and non-residential buildings. LEDs will be the fastest growing advanced lighting product through 2018, when demand is expected to approach $3 billion.    

Black & Decker Experiences 1Q Drop

Black & Decker Corporation announced net earnings of $4.9 million for the first quarter of 2009, versus $67.4 million for the first quarter of 2008. Sales decreased 28 per cent for the quarter to $1.1 billion; sales in the Hardware and Home Improvement segment decreased 19 per cent for the quarter. "Looking ahead, we expect that the weak demand we saw in the first quarter will continue...  For the full year, we expect a sales decline of approximately 20 per cent, including five points of unfavourable currency,” said Nolan D. Archibald, chairman and CEO.

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April 23, 2009

Home Hardware Selects Top Stores

Home Hardware recognized its top stores during a ceremony on the final day of its semi-annual Dealer Market. Selected from among more than 1,000 locations coast to coast, these stores were presented with ‘Proud of My Home’ awards. From those, one store was chosen to receive the ‘Walter J. Hachborn Store of the Year Award’ for retailing excellence. Quincaillerie Home Hardware – Rimouski in Rimouski, Quebec was this year’s recipient, owned and operated by Alain Brochet and Renée Bellavance. “All of us at Quincaillerie Home Hardware – Rimouski are excited to be recognized among Canada’s best and I’d like to thank my great team for all their hard work,” said Brochet.

Opposition To Mandatory Home Audits Found

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) released a poll that shows two-thirds (65 per cent) of Ontario’s principal residence homeowners oppose the proposed mandatory home energy audit program by the provincial Liberal government. Instead, the residents polled favour voluntary audits (92 per cent). The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for OREA, also found that 70 per cent feel mandatory audits will deter homeowners from selling their homes, and that 62 per cent believe the program is a "poor idea," which may negatively affect Ontario’s all-ready struggling real estate sector and economy.

Pella Hosts Pro Expo

Pella Windows & Doors will host a Pro Expo for architects, builders, and contractors – as a show of confidence in the future of the Ontario home building and renovation industry. The event, taking place April 29 in Toronto, is meant to highlight positive aspects of the industry during the uncertain economic climate. Delivering the keynote presentation will be Mark Richardson, president Case/Design and Remodeling, Inc., an advocate of industry education for both consumers and for professionals in all related sectors. For more information, visit www.eventsbypella.com/toronto.

B & D Launches Commercial Security Solutions

Black & Decker Hardware and the Home Improvement Group’s K2 Commercial Hardware will feature a new line of industrial door hardware solutions. Now available nationwide, the collection will include cylindrical and tubular levers, deadbolts, door closers, and exit devices. “Black & Decker Hardware and Home Improvement Group launched K2 to simplify the commercial hardware purchasing process and to deliver target audiences a line of premium products,” said Mark Wallace, Canadian Marketing Manager.

Exit Planning Session Announced

The ESOP (Employee Share Ownership Plans) Association Canada announced it will hold a ‘Business Owners' Successful Exit Strategies’ Lunch & Learn session, May 21, 2009. It will take place at the Richmond Hill, ON Chamber of Commerce and will cover a range of exit-planning issues, such as how to finance your exit, creating a lasting business legacy, and identifying the next level of leadership. Attendees will also receive a complimentary book copy, ‘Employee Share Ownership Plans: How to Design & Implement an ESOP in Canada.’ For more information, visit www.esop-canada.com.

Packaging Expo Returns

Canada’s packaging, material handling, and logistics exhibition returns to Toronto as PACKEX Toronto 2009, at the International Centre Mississauga on May 5 to 7, 2009. Its line-up of presentations, on the latest supply chain solutions, has been announced and will include, among other issues, fuel-cell technologies for enhanced material handling productivity, sustainability and automation, and safety/security/traceability. The show will feature 8,000 attendees and more than 500 exhibitors. For more information, visit www.packextoronto.com.

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April 21, 2009

Home Depot ‘Mowing Down Pollution’

The Home Depot and the Clean Air Foundation are urging consumers to stop using high-polluting lawn care equipment, following an Ipsos Reid survey that revealed 74 per cent of Canadian homeowners are still using gas-powered lawnmowers. To get Canadians to start using environmentally preferred alternatives, the Home Depot Canada and the Clean Air Foundation have launched a joint customer-engagement initiative – ‘Mow Down Pollution.’ Between April 23 and May 3, consumers who turn in their old gas-powered lawnmowers, trimmers, chainsaws or leaf blowers will receive an instant rebate of up to $100 on the purchase of a more eco-friendly lawn care alternative. As well, the Clean Air Foundation will be in Home Depot stores providing customers with information on these alternative lawn care products.

Walmart Reduces Lighting

To promote sustainability during Earth Day, Walmart Canada announced it will reduce its store lighting all day April 22. The company will reduce sales floor lighting by two-thirds in nearly all of its 312 stores across Canada. It will also hold local sustainability events, community clean-ups, and tree-planting ceremonies. "By cutting our lights and giving prominence to environmentally preferable products, we're encouraging our customers and other businesses to adopt more sustainable mindsets and practices," said Jim Thompson, senior vice-president of operations and merchandising for Walmart Canada.

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April 20, 2009

Home Hardware Celebrates 45th

Home Hardware celebrated its 45th anniversary with more than 8,000 dealers and vendors at its bi-annual dealer market. “With 45 years of steady growth behind us, Home Hardware dealers are still looking forward,” says Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO. We’re very proud of our heritage as we’ve stayed true to the company’s original vision of helping the independent retailer to stay independent and to thrive.” Home Hardware was launched in 1964 by 22 independent hardware dealers who joined together to form a co-operative. The current market has attracted more than 3,800 Home Hardware dealers and their staff and about 4,400 representative and vendors.

Ace Grows In Quebec

Ace has announced the addition of more than 100 Quebec hardware dealers who are switching to the Ace brand. The company says the conversion process is well under way for the first group of Ace Quebec stores and is expected to be complete by the end of May. A second round of store conversions will begin as soon as the first is complete. "This is an exciting announcement for our dealers and the communities we serve in Quebec," says David Grenon, Chairman of the Quebec Dealer Advisory Group and co-owner of FDS, one of the new Ace stores in Ville Saguenay. Along with the greater variety of product offerings available through ACE, newly converted Quebec dealers will also be able to leverage the power of the Canada-wide TIM-BR MART buying group.

Sherwin-Williams Sales Decrease

The Sherwin-Williams Company announced consolidated net sales of 1.551 billion for its first quarter ended March 31, a decrease of 13 per cent compared to the same period last year. The company says the drop is due primarily to weak paint sales volume and unfavourable foreign currency translation rate changes, partially offset by the impact of five acquisitions completed since the beginning of 2008. As well, consolidated gross margin was 43.9 per cent versus 43.8 per cent in 1Q08.

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April 17, 2009

Building Envelope Retrofit Options Discussed

Escalating energy costs have prompted a re-evaluation of older building structures and more interest in building envelope retrofit options, said Kevin Day, building science expert for Halsall Associates Ltd. Day led a discussion for property owners/managers at the Building Evnelope Solutions conference in Toronto. Before embarking on energy-efficient retrofits, he highlighted the importance of first performing full building condition evaluations, considering a holistic approach to building envelopes, and assessing the long-term rates of return of energy-efficient upgrades. Among the many retrofit options available, Day discussed the effectiveness of exterior insulation cladding, overcladding, reducing window air leakage, thermal bridging, glazing upgrades, and “roofing options in a green age.”

Toshiba Expanding Lighting Business

Toshiba Corporation will begin a major initiative to launch its new lighting business in Europe and the U.S. The company says one of its greatest strengths is in bringing high levels of energy efficiency to practical lighting applications, without compromising light quality or ambience. The company’s energy-efficient LED bulbs, down lights, base lights, and streetlights have already proven successful in Japan. The first step involves setting up a marketing base for new operations in the U.K., Germany, and the U.S. this summer, which joins a French operation established earlier this month. As 2009 progresses, it plans to further expand in other countries, such as India, Russia, Brazil, the Middle East, and China.

Masonite Debt Restructuring On Track

Masonite International Inc. reports that it is continuing to make progress in implementing its “pre-negotiated” debt restructuring plan and is on track to complete its financial reorganization within the next few months. The manufacturer of residential and commercial doors recently received final court authorization to continue to meet its obligations to trade suppliers on normal terms in the ordinary course of business. Masonite also received final court authorization to continue to utilize its cash collateral to help meet its obligations to suppliers, employees and customers.

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April 16, 2009

Report Finds Canadian Consumers More Confident

New data from The NPD Group finds Canadian consumers are considerably more confident in their economy than their U.S. counterparts, and their intention to shop much steadier. The report on consumer attitudes and spending ranked Canadian confidence in the economy at a level of 44 on a scale of zero to 100 (with zero indicating very concerned and 100 very confident). On the same scale, Canadians ranked their own personal financial situation at approximately 50, indicating they’re more concerned with the overall economy rather than their own personal finances. U.S. consumers’ confidence in the economy dropped from 37.4 to 35.9, while confidence in their personal situation dropped from 39.8 to 37.2. While their intent to spend remains steady at 36, this relatively low score shows that U.S. consumers plan to spend less.

DIY-ers Doing It To Save, For Enjoyment

A Lowe’s survey reveals almost an even split among homeowners, between taking on a Do-It-Yourself project to save money during the economic downturn (35 per cent) and doing it for enjoyment (32 per cent). The consumer survey of more than 500 homeowners found an increasing number are doing portions of a project themselves and hiring a professional to do the rest. For example, approximately 37 per cent planning to remodel their kitchen in the next 12 months say they’ll do the parts they enjoy, such as interior painting or installing flooring, and hire a pro for the rest. As well, the survey found eight out of every 10 homeowners planning a lawn or garden project in the next 12 months say they'll do it themselves, with 84 per cent saying lawn and gardening is the number one DIY project; a close second is interior painting (82 per cent), followed by exterior painting (65 per cent).

IKEA To Eliminate Plastic Bags

IKEA Canada announced it will no longer offer plastic bags, as of July 1, 2009. The decision came after an online survey by the company found 82 per cent of respondents supported eliminating plastic bags all together, while 96 per cent already own a reusable bag. The retailer will continue to sell its reusable ‘Blue Bag’ for $1 and will launch a mini version for .75 cents. IKEA Canada  introduced its "Bag the Bag" program in 2007, with an aim of reducing plastic bag consumption by 50 per cent. It was also the first Canadian retailer to launch a reusable bag program in 2003.

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April 15, 2009

Survey Finds Canadians Moderately Green

The Home Depot’s first-ever Canadian Green Home Index gave Canadians a 60 out of 100 rating when it comes to ‘greening’ their homes. Based on a basket of five questions, the index gauges attitudes and behaviours, and provides a clearer picture of what consumers need to make their living spaces greener, the Home Depot says. Specifically, 68 per cent rated their home as “somewhat green;” 13 per cent believe their homes are “very green” already; while 83 per cent acknowledge they have room to improve. The index finds Canadians have great intentions to green their homes, but 54 per cent admit they are only “somewhat confident” they have the tools to make it happen, while just 23 per cent report they’re “very confident” they have the resources to do so. The top three steps taken in the past six months to make homes greener include purchasing recyclable or biodegradable and organic products, purchasing energy efficient light bulbs, and using green garbage/recycling/compost bags.

TIM-BR MART Introduces EcoChoice

TIM-BR MART has launched its EcoChoice program at participating locations across Canada. The EcoChoice designation tells customers the products have a reduced impact on the environment, based on a set number of seven criteria. The criteria cover aspects of a product’s lifecycle for categories like manufacturing, packaging, and shipping, and must be supported by vendor documentation from an unbiased outside source, such as LEED certification or other governing body. Besides widely-known ‘green’ product assortments, such as CFL bulbs or low-flow toilets, TIM-BR MART says EcoChoice goes further to identify products across more categories, particularly hardware and building materials.

Fastenal Reports Drop

Fastenal Co. announced its first-quarter profit dropped 29 per cent, as the economic downturn cuts into sales. The industrial equipment maker earned $48.7 million compared to $68.1 million for the same quarter last year. Sales dropped 14 per cent to $489.3 million from $566.2 million in the same year-ago period. To offset falling sales, the company says it has temporarily slowed new store openings to a rate of two to five per cent per year and has stopped hiring new employees except for store openings and for stores that are growing.

OSRAM SYLVANIA Appoints Marketing Manager

OSRAM SYLVANIA LTD. appointed Luigi Leto to strategic marketing manager for consumer and automotive products. In the new role, Leto will oversee all channel marketing strategies and activities for both consumer products and automotive lighting sales channels. Previous to this appointment, Leto was the manager of customer service for the company, a position he held for over two years. 

Wheelbarrow Supplier Changes Name

Altrad Fort has changed its name to TUFX FORT INC., reflecting a change of ownership. The supplier of wheelbarrows, cement mixers, and pot movers says the change means it’s 100 per cent Canadian owned and controlled, enabling it to serve clients better and offer products that focus on the Canadian market. The company’s address and contact information will remain the same.

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April 14, 2009

Sears Opens New Showroom

Sears Canada Inc. unveiled its new 12,000-square-foot furniture gallery and Home Installed Products and Services (HIPS) showroom at its Carrefour Laval store north of Montreal. "Our goal with the HIPS in-store integration is to provide a total solution for customers renovating kitchens and bathrooms," stated Dennis Singh, senior vice-president, Sears retail stores. Reclaimed from the former auto centre next to the store, the new retail space will offer the latest in appliances and furniture from brands such as Viking, Fisher Paykel, and Kitchen Aid Professional.

Gen-Y Reveals Optimism, Housing Preferences

A new U.S. housing study reveals a sense of optimism among the Generation Y segment – representing approximately 80 million future homebuyers. Conducted by real estate advisory firmThe Concord Group, the survey found that despite the U.S. housing crisis, 50 per cent of Gen-Y’s say they are likely to purchase a home within the next three years, while 70 per cent believe home prices will be higher or at today’s levels in two years. The majority of Gen-Y’s also say they’re willing to pay a premium for living closer to their job, are interested in living near alternative modes of transportation, and are planning to abandon the cities for a life in the suburbs – highlighting the importance of transit-oriented and suburban development in the housing market in the near future, The Concord Group says.

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April 13, 2009

CertainTeed Part of MASTERSPEC

CertainTeed Gypsum will participate in ARCOM’s PRODUCT MASTERSPEC, a researched and professionally written tool that helps designers, architects, and building professionals produce according to specifications with ease and speed. Published exclusively by ARCOM for The American Institute of Architects, MASTERSPEC will now have detailed information on CertainTeed Gypsum products including its GlasRoc Sheathing and Tile Backer, ProRoc Gypsum Board, and ProRoc Finishing Products.

Canadian Tire Announces Tree-Planting Campaign

Canadian Tire will plant a tree for every environmentally-preferable ‘Blue Planet’ product purchased. In partnership with Trees Ontario, the campaign will run April 11 to May 8 at stores across Canada. The company expects that the Blue Planet Program will result in the planting of 100,000 trees. "This initiative not only offers customers environmentally-preferred product solutions for their home, but also allows us to give back to the communities across Canada through the planting of trees," says Reg McLay, senior vice-president, marketing and sourcing services.

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April 9, 2009

U.S. Slaps Duty On Canadian Softwood

The United States announced it will impose a 10 per cent duty on Canadian softwood lumber imports – renewing the long-standing dispute over the countries’ forestry products. The U.S. says it is owed US$54.8 million in penalties from Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan for failing to sufficiently lower exports of lumber as prices dropped. As a result, duties will be collected on shipments from the four provinces until the U.S. collects the full amount, said U.S. trade representative Ronald Kirk in a statement. Canada’s PM Stephen Harper expressed disappointment at the U.S. announcement. He stated that Canada isn’t disputing the decision, in a televised news conference, but "What's at issue is, what is the appropriate remedy, the appropriate penalty," he said.  

Real Estate Market Shows Resilience

A quarterly House Price Survey released by Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. shows that increasing buyer activity at the end of March means there will be a “typical” rise in unit sales as buyers consider summer moves. "We expected a sharper decline in house prices during the first quarter… But markets were relatively resilient during the period. Canadians in most regions should not expect the prices of their homes to begin appreciating again until the overall economy begins to stabilize, likely in the first half of 2010," said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. The report shows regional disparities in quarterly housing prices, with Atlantic Canada outperforming other areas, while markets in central Quebec and eastern Ontario held steady. Most regions in Western provinces experienced double-digit declines – but the report suggests these areas may be the first in Canada to stabilize.

CHHMA Announces Montreal Conference Lineup

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) announced its full list of speakers for its Montreal Conference, held at the Marriott Chateau Champlain on April 27. Following breakfast, Phil Otto, president and CEO of brand consultancy firm, Revolve, will kick things off with a presentation on the benefits of having an alternative retail brand available to independents. Other speakers include Pascal Gauthier, economist for TD Bank Financial Group, with an outlook on the worldwide recession; along with 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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April 8, 2009

OSRAM SYLVANIA Appoints Account Manager

OSRAM SYLVANIA LTD. announced the appointment of Anne Larocque to national account manager – consumer products. In her new role, she will be responsible for the sales growth of the retail lighting market across Canada, with an account base including DIY, grocery, and hardware retailers. Before this appointment, Larocque was team manager with the company’s customer service organization.

Walmart Head Office Launches Zero-Waste Program

Walmart Canada’s home office in Mississauga, Ontario has implemented a zero waste program. Under a new three-year agreement with Bullfrog Power, a Canadian provider of low-impact renewable electricity, it boosted its purchase of zero emission power by 42 per cent. The initiative also focuses on waste reduction and waste diversion from landfill through recycling streams and an associate education program.

Moen Making Window Framing Easier

Moen announced an easier way for consumers to purchase and install bathroom mirrors frames. Through its new line, ‘Mirrorscapes,’ homeowners don’t have to remove plate glass but can apply the frame on top of it in their bathrooms thanks to easy-to-use installation templates. Customers can also enter their dimensions at www.buymirrorscapes.com where the proper components for the frame are configured and added to checkout.

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April 7, 2009

Building Permit Value Down In February

The value of building permits fell 15.9 per cent to $3.7 billion in February, says Statistics Canada. The largest decreases came from the non-residential sector in Ontario. In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.3 per cent to $2.1 billion. The total value of construction intentions declined in half the provinces.

Small Businesses Show Confidence

Small businesses appear somewhat optimistic and have more confidence in their own operations than they do in the Canadian economy, says the ‘STAPLES Canada Small Business National Quarterly Confidence Poll.’ The study found that over half (58 per cent) of Canadian small businesses expect to see some improvement in their businesses over the next six months, while 70 per cent rate their own financial status as good. The top three challenges facing small businesses are business development/sales (60 per cent), reducing costs/expenses (58 per cent), and setting pricing to maintain profitability (47 per cent). The primary way they have adjusted over the past three months was to cut costs (55 per cent) and expand business offerings (29 per cent).

Dorel Launches Excellence Program

Dorel Industries’ recreational/leisure segment has launched a multi-faceted ‘Worldwide Centers of Excellence’ program, with five centres to be established around the world. The centres will be based in Bethel, CT; Basel, Switzerland; Madison, WI; Vancouver, BC; and Taichung, Taiwan. Each location is meant to improve leadership in that specific market segment of expertise. One of the objectives of the strategy is to consolidate all North American product development, marketing, and business management functions for all four cycling brands (Cannondale, Schwinn, GT, and Mongoose) to the Cycling Sports Group (formerly the Cannondale Sports Group) in Bethel.

Decking Manufacturer Enters Russian Market

Wood Composite Technologies Inc. has made its first sale into the Russian market. Its subsidiary, Millennium Decking Inc., has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with construction company, Petrostroytrest, based in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Quebecers’ Spending Habits Revealed 

A study by the Retail Council of Quebec (CQCD) found that 74 per cent of Quebec households see their financial situation as having improved or remained stable over the last 12 months, compared with 84 per cent in March 2008. For the next 12 months, 75 per cent expect things to either remain the same (56 per cent) or improve (19 per cent), while 17 per cent expect their situation to worsen. As indicated by the study, Quebecers are less optimistic than they were last year about the province's financial future, but "their confidence in their personal financial situation has not been shaken to the same extent," says Gaston Lafleur, CQCD president. Regarding major purchases in the next 12 months, the survey found 24 per cent of households plan to make a major purchase, with automobiles topping the list, followed by household appliances, furniture, household articles, and computer equipment. Regarding everyday purchases, Quebecers expect to spend less in coming months.

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April 6, 2009

Roxul Introduces New Packaging

Mineral wool insulation manufacturer, Roxul Inc., has a new contemporary packaging design to make it easier to communicate its message. The distinctive red packaging, strong type, and bold icons are meant to clearly express the energy savings and environmental protection benefits behind its ‘ComfortBatt’ and ‘Safe ‘n’ Sound’ lines.

Tremco Acquires Canam

Tremco Inc. has acquired Canam Building Envelope Specialists, of Mississauga, ON, including Zerodraft, a company that provides specialized retrofit weatherstripping and distributes related insulation and sealant products. Canam becomes part of the Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance Division’s subsidiary, Weatherproofing Technologies. Zerodraft is now part of Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing.

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April 3, 2009

Chinese Drywall Under Investigation

As part of latest efforts to address problems with Chinese drywall, two U.S. Senators are seeking a recall and temporary ban of the products. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced a bill asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission to conduct a study to look into the made-in-China drywall, believed to be releasing unpleasant, sulfurous odors, and causing abnormal air conditioner problems in Florida to Louisiana. The problem first arose in January in Florida when home builder Lennar Corp. sued two Chinese drywall manufacturers claiming the wallboard was defective, caused electrical problems, and emitted rotten odors.

RONA Adds New ECO Line Products

RONA has introduced 40 new products to its RONA ECO line. The items are described as having a more eco-friendly lifecycle compared to similar conventional products, and are priced competitively. The products were selected in partnership with the International Chair in Life Cycle Assessment and are from a number of different categories. The new items include a manual lawn mower, algae-based fertilizer, rainwater collector, and reconditioned tool blades, and mouldings. “RONA sets a great example in the retail and distribution industry. It’s actually the first retailer to include lifecycle assessment in its eco-responsible product selection process,” says Édouard Clément, technical director of the International Chair in Life Cycle Assessment.

Woodland TIM-BR MART Recognizes Vendor

Woodland TIM-BR MART has recognized Canwel account manager, Brandon Fischer, with the ‘Outstanding Sales Representative’ for 2008. The Edmonton, AB, resident won the award for going “above and beyond the expectations of criteria we aim for with our vendors,” says store purchaser Debbie Hausauer. The award was given on behalf of the three stores in Grande Prairie and Fairview, AB, and Fort St. John, BC. After receiving the award, Fischer stated: “I work hard to continue to expand my knowledge of the various areas of the building materials industry in order to best serve our clients and their customers ... I am humbled and honoured to receive it.”

Retail Development Event Announced

The ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Next Generation Program and Reception, April 23, will focus on Boston Pizza’s ability to adapt in a challenging retail real estate environment. Keynote speaker of the event, Chris Doulos, director of real estate development, Boston Pizza, will discuss his company’s strategies for the future and trials and tribulations encountered along the way. Following the presentation at the Hard Rock Café in Toronto, other issues on retail development during uncertain times will be discussed. For more information, visit http://www.icsc.org

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April 2, 2009

Consequences Of Merchant Fees Regulation

Several negative outcomes are in store if the government chooses to regulate fees merchants pay for credit card acceptance, a new U.S. report says. Chief economist Raymond J. Keating, of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, finds that small businesses that use credit cards for financing will "get squeezed” due to higher costs to use their cards, fewer services and less innovation from issuers, and lower sales due to less consumers using cards. The report also finds that government intervention will reduce the number of cards being issued and, therefore, the benefits of competition will be reduced.

Canadian Tire Partners With NASCAR Champ

Canadian Tire has signed a one-year agreement with reigning NASCAR champion Scott Steckly. The agreement includes driving a newly-built car fitted with 350 performance parts and accessories from Canadian Tire, which Steckly will use to defend his title in May. The partnership also involves in-store appearances by Steckly and his team, as well as attendance at race day hospitality events.

CHHMA Announce Canada Night Success

The Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) announced the “resounding success” of ‘Canada Night,’ held in conjunction with the International Hardware Show in Chicago, IL. This year, the CHHMA celebrated the 60th anniversary of the event at a new location, the InterContinental, Renaissance Ballroom. One of the night’s highlights was the announcement of the Global Innovation Award going to kitchen retailer, Les Touilleurs of Montreal, QC, for its unique approach to retailing.

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April 1, 2009

RONA Acquires Newfoundland Building Center

RONA has acquired Bishop’s Building Center Ltd. in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland. The acquired company will be integrated with the current network of eight stores belonging to the Chester Dawe banner in Newfoundland. In business for close to 100 years, the store has a retail sales area of 8,000 square feet, a 15,000 square-foot warehouse, and a 75,000 square-foot lumberyard. With this acquisition, RONA and its affiliate dealer-owners now operate 26 stores in multiple formats in the Atlantic Provinces.

HHIRC Launches New Site

The Housewares and Hardware Independent Representatives of Canada (HHIRC) announced the launch of its newly revamped website. The HHIRC is made up of 15 independent sales agencies, representing Canadian manufacturers in the housewares and hardware industries. The group has been in existence since 1978. To visit the new website, go to www.canadianreps.com.

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