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

News

August 31, 2009

World Lawn & Garden Demand Climbing

Global demand for lawn and garden equipment is expected to grow 2.8 per cent annually through 2013 to $18.4 billion, says a new report by The Freedonia Group, Inc. The study, ‘World Power Lawn & Garden Equipment,’ finds that the U.S. market will account for slightly over one-half of the additional demand generated between 2008 and 2013, despite the sluggish economy. While on a regional basis, North America and Western Europe will together comprise over 85 per cent of the demand in 2013, and Asia will remain a relatively small market. Demand in the commercial market will outpace the residential market in most regions through 2013, because of the growing number of professional landscapers. Lawnmowers will continue to be the largest product segment, while turf and grounds equipment is expected to post significant gains.

Lumber Production Up

Monthly lumber production by sawmills was up 3 per cent to 3 661.8 thousand cubic metres in June, says Statistics Canada. When compared to June 2008 however, lumber production was down 22.7 per cent. As well, sawmills shipped 4 155.4 thousand cubic metres of lumber in June, an increase of 12.7 per cent from May.

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August 28, 2009

Sears Introduces Site For Homeowners

Sears Holdings has officially launched its ‘Manage My Home’ interactive website, which is meant to provide homeowners with extra resources for completing their projects. The site – now in its early-stage consumer testing – features, among other things, an ‘Unlock My Home’ blog; an ‘Answers’ section for various home care and product categories; a ‘Projects’ section including step-by-step guides and shopping lists; an ‘Inventory’ section with owner’s manuals and product support; and the ability to follow its experts on Twitter. For more information, visit http://www.managemyhome.com.

CHHMA Awards Scholarships

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) announced its Scholarship Award recipients for 2009. Chosen for their outstanding achievement by a panel of independent judges, each recipient will receive $1,000 per year for the first two years of study in an accredited post-secondary institution. The winners are: Camille Boudreau-Mimeault (Longueuil, QC) – daughter of Alain Mimeault, AkzoNobel; Blair Dash (Toronto, ON) – daughter of Janice Bell, Stanley Security Solutions; Nicole Jowett (Brockville, ON) – daughter of Ken Jowett, Selkirk Canada Corporation; Dmitri Lozenko (Thornhill, ON) – son of Liza Lozenko, Lincoln Electric Company of Canada; Kurtis Osborne (Delta, BC) – son of Doug Osborne, Dynamic Paintwares Inc.

Study Ranks Craftsman Highest

A recent customer satisfaction study from independent marketing research firm, J.D. Power and Associates, found that Craftsman Professional ranked highest in satisfying customers with cordless drills/drivers. The study ranked satisfaction in six areas: drill performance, ease of use, battery performance, price, versatility of the battery platform in supporting other power tools, and warranty. Craftsman Professional received the highest score of 806 out of a possible 1,000.

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August 27, 2009

Stanley, D&D Form Partnership

Stanley – National Hardware has partnered with D&D Technologies (USA), Inc., a gate hardware manufacturer with markets in Australia, North America, the UK, and Europe. As part of the agreement, consumers can now purchase D&D’s products in retail hardware and home improvement stores under the Stanley and National Hardware brands. Previously available primarily to the professional fencing industry, high-tech gate hardware, such as D&D’s polymer gate hardware, is now available to all consumers and professionals, thanks to the partnership, the two companies say.

U.S. Housing Prices Turn Corner

The U.S. housing market may be on the rebound, as home prices posted their first increase in three years in the second quarter. The Standard&Poor's/Case-Shiller's U.S. National Home Price Index, which tracks home prices in 20 metropolitan areas across the U.S., increased nearly three per cent from the first quarter. However, it was still down almost 15 per cent compared to the second quarter of last year.

Funding Fuels Energy-efficient Renos

Energy-efficient home renovations will experience greater growth, compared to the general renovations market in the U.S., thanks largely to the tax credits from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, says a new study by SBI (Specialists in Business Information). The report, ‘Energy-Efficient Home Renovations Market, Part 2: Appliances & Lighting,’ finds that newly available funding from the Obama administration – estimated at about $6 billion for the end of 2010 – is all energy-efficiency related. SBI predicts the energy-efficient home renovations market, which reached $21 billion in 2008, will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent from 2009 to 2013, growing 50 per cent faster than the U.S. renovations market as a whole. The report forecasts energy-efficient renovations will total $35 billon and progress from claiming 12 per cent of the overall home renovations market to 15 per cent in the five years to 2013.

Female Fall-protection Line Expands

Norguard Industries, a manufacturer of fall protection equipment, is expanding its line of products designed specifically for women, who are increasingly entering the work labour force. It will now offer the ‘Go Pro-Girl roofer's kit,’ which recognizes the importance of “designing a line of harnesses specifically with them in mind,” said Tina Desjardins, vice-president of Operations.

Moen Announces ‘Greener’ Offerings

Moen Canada announced the launch of products that integrate sustainable elements, such as its ‘Envi’ and ‘Nurture’ eco-performance showerheads. The showerheads use 30 per cent less water than standard showerheads, the company said, and don’t “sacrifice performance.” As well, a number of its bathroom collections are certified to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense criteria, such as the ‘Level’ bathroom collection, or the more traditional ‘Muirfield’ suite.

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August 26, 2009

Lowe’s Enters Australian Market

Lowe’s has entered a joint venture agreement with Woolworths, Australia’s biggest retailer, to build a network of home improvement stores for Australians.As part of the agreement, Lowe's will be one-third owner of the destination home improvement chain, with the first store slated to open in 2011. Lowe’s says the home improvement market represents $20 billion USD and is currently "underserved." Both parties aim to secure more than 150 large-format store sites over the next five years, greater than 100,000 square feet, which will offer products for the DIY and professional markets. Woolworths has secured entitlement to 12 sites and is in final negotiations to secure another 15 sites. The joint venture also includes a recommended takeover offer for all the shares in Danks Holdings Limited, Australia's second largest hardware distributor.

Retail Sales Continue Comeback

Retail sales rose past many economists’ expectations in June, increasing 1 per cent to $34.4 billion, says Statistics Canada. In volume terms, retail sales grew 0.4 per cent and have risen in five of the last six months, following large drops at the end of 2008. The automotive sector impacted overall growth most with a 2.1 per cent sales gain, along with a 4.7 per cent gain at gasoline stations. Sales at furniture, home furnishings, and electronics stores climbed in June for the second consecutive month with a 0.6 per cent gain. The strong 2.1 per cent growth in sales at home electronics and appliance stores was behind this advance. Food and beverage stores saw sales grow 1.3 per cent as well after having a fairly flat May.

Gift Show Acquisition In The Works

The Canadian Gift & Tableware Association (CGTA) confirmed that it reached an agreement in principle for the purchase of Canadian gift shows owned by dmg world media (Canada) Inc. As part of the agreement, the staff presently employed by dmg world media in the production of the shows will continue to operate the shows under CGTA ownership. Details of the transaction are currently being finalized and the two parties say they will complete the transaction before the end of September.

Hunter Douglas, Aeroplan Partner For Promo

Hunter Douglas, a manufacturer of custom window fashions, has partnered with Aeroplan Canada to offer consumers the chance to win up to 1,000,000 Aeroplan Miles. Customers can enter with the purchase of three of the company’s window shadings (Silhouette, Pirouette, and Luminette), at participating Hunter Douglas dealers. The ‘Hunter Douglas Brings You the World’ promotion will run from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2009.

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August 25, 2009

Home Depot Launches DC

Home Depot’s $33.9-million ‘Rapid Deployment Center’ recently opened in Monroe, Ohio, and will supply 110 stores located in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region. The 700,000-square-foot facility is among about 20 to be launched in the U.S. by 2010 to improve Home Depot’s supply chain.

Canadian Tire Warns Against Offer

Canadian Tire announced that it received a copy of an unsolicited market "mini-tender" offer by TRC Capital Corporation to purchase up to 1,000,000 Class A Non-Voting shares. The offer represented approximately 1.28 per cent of Canadian Tire's outstanding Class A Non-Voting shares, and the offer price of $54 per share was 4.09 per cent below the closing price of the shares on the TSX. Canadian Tire warned shareholders to be cautious and to not tender their shares in response to TRC's unsolicited offer.

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August 24, 2009

Bosch Helps Family's Eco Mission

The Bosch Group will supply technology and appliances to the Kenny family – father, mother, and four kids – committed to living without using fossil fuels for one year. As part of the Eco Plus Home Project, the family will move into a fully fitted showcase house in Bathurst, NB on Sept. 13, and will demonstrate how to live in an eco-friendly way. Bosch and its brands Buderus, Ersol, and FHP will provide household products, including a solar thermal system, a photovoltaic system, as as an energy-efficient refrigerator, dishwasher, coffee maker, washing machine, and dryer. Energy balances of the household consumptions will regularly be published on www.ecoplushome.com. The website will also allow the family to share their experience with the public.

CanWel Declares Cash Distribution

CanWel Building Materials Income Fund declared a cash distribution of $0.04166 per trust unit for the period from August 1, 2009 to August 31, 2009. To be paid to on September 18, 2009, this is the Fund`s 51st consecutive monthly cash distribution to its unitholders.

Home Depot Announces Dividend

The Home Depot announced that its board of directors declared a second quarter cash dividend of 22.5 cents per share. The dividend is payable on September 17, 2009 to shareholders of record and is the 90th consecutive quarter the Company has paid a cash dividend.

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August 21, 2009

Composite Index Increases

The composite leading index increased 0.4 per cent in July, according to Statistics Canada, after small declines in May and June were revised up to no change. July’s increase was the first advance since August 2008, which was right before the global financial turmoil. Six of 10 components expanded in July overall, the most since May 2008. The housing and stock markets had the largest gains. The stock market saw a 5.7 per cent increase, while the rise in household spending impacted other durable goods. However, not all sectors of household spending saw gains, as furniture and appliance sales continued to trend down, and personal services pulled down services employment.

CHHMA Creating HR Network

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) announced the formation of its ‘HR Managers Network.’ The program will bring a group of 10-12 human resource managers from member companies on a quarterly basis, over breakfast or lunch, to discuss common issues and concerns. The CHHMA will hold its first HR Managers Network meeting on September 15, 2009, to establish the framework for the program. The association says it has enough members for at least one group and is looking to set up additional groups. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca.

Liquidation World Reports 3Q Results

Liquidation World Inc.’s third-quarter revenue was down 15.4 per cent to $37 million from $43.8 million in the same period of last year. Same store sales in the quarter were down 9.3 per cent from Q3 2008. However, a major part of the quarter’s losses relate to its restructuring activities. The company estimates that costs incurred in the quarter included, among other things, provisions for lot inventory write-downs, re-modeling costs, and severance costs. "These results reflect actions we are taking to re-position the business for longer-term success,” Seth Marks, president & CEO commented.

Valspar Selects Board President

Valspar has selected Gary Hendrickson to be president and chief operation officer to the board of directors. Hendrickson was appointed president and chief operating officer in February 2008 and is responsible for Valspar’s international and domestic operating units.

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August 20, 2009

Consumer Price Index Down

Consumer prices in Canada fell 0.9 per cent in July 2009 compared to July of last year, says Statistics Canada, following a 0.3 per cent decrease in June. The decrease was mainly due to a 12-month decline of 23.4 per cent in energy prices, particularly gasoline – a trend analysts say would soon reverse. Excluding energy, the all-items Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.8 per cent in the 12 months to July. Of the eight major components in the CPI, transportation, shelter, and clothing and footwear recorded declines in the 12 months to July. The primary upward pressure on consumer prices came from food, which increased five per cent between July 2008 and July 2009.

Sears 2Q Results Fall

Sears Canada Inc. had revenues of $1.250 billion for its second quarter compared to $1.420 billion in the same period last year – a 12 per cent decline. Net earnings were $49.1 million compared to $61.5 million in the second quarter of 2008, while same store sales fell 10 per cent for the quarter as well. "Revenues were negatively impacted by lower consumer discretionary spending as a result of the recession and the cool summer that affected most of Canada except British Columbia,” said Dene Rogers, president and CEO.

Stanley Donations Ride On Race Results

The Stanley Works will make a $1 million donation to the Children’s Miracle Network if Motorsports driver, Elliott Sadler, and the No. 19 Stanley Dodge, win the Aug. 22 race at Bristol Motor Speedway. As well, Stanley has also promised to donate $500,000 to the same charity if Kasey Kahne wins Friday night’s race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The incentives are part of the ‘Racing for a Miracle’ program created by Stanley, the Ace Hardware Foundation, and the Children’s Miracle Network.

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August 19, 2009

Home Depot Reports 2Q Loss

The Home Depot announced second quarter net earnings of $1.1 billion compared to $1.2 billion earned in the same quarter last year, a 7.2 per cent decrease. Compared to the same quarter in 2008, sales were also down 9.1 per cent to $19.1 billion and comparable store sales were down 8.5 per cent. However, its profits fell less than analysts had estimated, after rival Lowe’s reported profit and revenue that fell more than analysts anticipated. Both companies are trying to counter declines with cost cutting. "Concerns about the housing market, rising unemployment and softness in the overall economy continue to pressure consumers," said Frank Blake, chairman & CEO. "Our business performed well in a down market, we captured market share, and drove operating productivity.” The company attributed the lower results to a $20 million loss of operating profit related to the closing of its EXPO stores, while the quarter included $50 million U.S. of tax benefits.

Ace 2Q Earnings Up

Ace Hardware reported a net income of of $42.2 million for the second quarter of 2009, a 26.2 percent increase compared to $33.4 million in the same period last year. Total revenues for the quarter were $973.1 million, a decrease of 8.6 per cent from $1.065 billion in 2008. The hardware cooperative says it’s pleased with the results amidst the unusually cool weather and current state of consumer spending. “Consumers are taking on more home maintenance projects themselves, they need advice, and we have an undisputed position in the market as the helpful hardware professionals which has and will continue to serve us well,” said Ray Griffith, president and CEO.

Flooring Manufacturer Acquired

Private equity firm, TPG Capital, L.P., has agreed to acquire seven million shares of Armstrong World Industries, Inc., a flooring products manufacturer. TPG also acquired economic interests in an additional 1.04 million shares from the trust, for a total purchase price of approximately $180 million.

Ace Extends Partnership

Ace Hardware and Activant Solutions, a provider of retail management solutions, have extended their partnership with a new three-year agreement. Under the agreement, Ace will continue to endorse Activant as its only recommended point-of-sale solution and Activant will continue to provide technology solutions that enable Ace’s operating methods. Ace originally collaborated with Activant in 2000, for its solutions designed to automate aspects of retail stores.

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August 18, 2009

Lowe’s Posts 2Q Decline

Lowe’s Companies announced net earnings of $759 million for the second quarter ended July 31, a 19.1 per cent drop compared to the same 2008 period. Sales were $13.8 billion for the quarter, down 4.6 per cent from $14.5 billion, while same-store sales for the quarter declined 9.5 per cent. Second-quarter results were in contrast to the last quarter, when the company beat expectations and consumers stocked up on items as spring approached. "Wavering consumer confidence, unseasonable weather in core markets, and restrained customer spending compared to last year's fiscal stimulus-aided results led to lower than expected sales in the second quarter," said Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO. Lowe’s also says it will further reduce store expansion plans for 2010 and expects to open between 35 and 45 North America-wide. It is also taking a $48 million charge for cancelling plans to open about 80 new stores in the next few years. Lowe's reached the 14-store mark in Canada with the opening of two stores in Scarborough, ON in June.

Canadians Feeling Good About Economy

Canadians are optimistic about the future of the economy, says a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey. The poll of 1,000 Canadians, conducted in July, finds six in 10 think the economy will recover twice as strongly as it will in the U.S. "We wanted to see: Are Canadians feeling that good about how things are? And what the data told us is, 'Yes, they are,"' said Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima's vice-president. The poll also found that those in Western Canada were slightly more upbeat about the economic recovery than those in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

Bosch Nailer Design Improves Power

Bosch Power Tools & Accessories launched its RN175 Roofing Nailer, featuring a patented air chamber design that can deliver a 10 per cent increase in power for complete drives, the company says. Bosch’s exclusive single-action side loading nail canister can also improve reload speed and eliminates the hassles associated with fumbling fastener coils on the rooftop.

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August 17, 2009

Satisfaction With Home Builders Slides

Overall satisfaction with new-home builders dropped to 638 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2009, down 43 points from 681 in 2008, according to the J.D. Power and Associates' '2009 Canadian New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study.' "Given the challenging market conditions, some builders have had to make some very tough decisions regarding their staffing models, and service levels may have suffered as a result," said Marc Thibault, real estate practice leader at J.D. Power. As well, the study found that the total number of construction problems noted by homeowners following possession increased to 37 problems per home in 2009 from 26 in 2008. And only 39 per cent felt that their builder set realistic expectations and prepared them for what to expect with their new home purchase experience.

Housing Starts Down In July

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported the annual rate of housing starts fell to 132,100 units in July from 137,800 units in June. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased 5.5 per cent to 113,500 units in July. “Although July registered a decline, housing starts are expected to improve throughout 2009,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist. July’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased 16.6 per cent in Quebec and declined 17 per cent in the Prairies, 15 per cent in Ontario, 10 per cent in B.C., and 1.4 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,600 units in July.

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August 14, 2009

Canadian Tire Profit Up, Sales Down

Canadian Tire Corporation announced a second-quarter profit of $103.7 million, up 6.1 per cent from the $97.7 million earned in the same period last year. The growth reflects healthy margins for its retail business and lower operating expenses, it says. "Our focus on maintaining our gross margins and managing our operating expenses has allowed us to deliver modest growth in earnings this quarter compared to 2008 despite a challenging retail environment," said Stephen Wetmore, CEO. Sales, however, fell 5.4 per cent to $2.79 billion and same store sales were down 2.7 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2008. The company says the drop in sales was a result of the economic downturn and the cold, wet spring that kept many from purchasing outdoor items, such as barbecues and patio furniture. Despite the economic conditions, the company said it saw an increase in home repair, maintenance, and paint sales.

Wal-Mart Reports Flat 2Q

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.’s net sales for the second quarter were $100.082 billion, a drop of 1.4 per cent compared to the same quarter last year. Its net income came in at $3.44 billion versus $3.45 billion in last year’s second quarter. The company says currency exchange rates put a dent in its profit by four cents a share and hurt international sales by about $4.2 billion. The company results, however, beat Wall Street expectations. Wal-Mart says it expects a more positive performance for the rest of the year, even though U.S. consumers remain cautious and more selective in their spending. "We are pleased with the performance of our operations around the world. We believe that our comparable store sales continued to outperform the retail sector almost everywhere we do business,” said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart president and CEO.

Education Not Most Important For Business, Study Finds

Ace Hardware’s ‘Entrepreneurship Study’ found that while 79 per cent of respondents – all small-business owners – have at least some college education, only seven per cent think it’s important to be educated in business or finance. The findings suggest that innate qualities, not academic prowess, are more important to small business owners. Among the most important qualities, to the 500 business owners surveyed, is to be hard-working (60 per cent) and to have the drive or motivation to succeed (57 per cent). Forty-two per cent of respondents also said perseverance is important, followed by intelligence/knowledge (31 per cent) and good instincts and passion (29 per cent).


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August 13, 2009

TIM-BR MART Introduces Hardware Initiative

TIM-BR MART announced the roll-out of its new hardware initiative and has added new members to its ‘Hardware Buying Team.’ ‘TIM-BR MART Hardware’ marks “a renewed focus on hardware management,” the national buying group said. It aims to develop the categories’ product assortments, merchandising, and selling strategies for TIM-BR MART Dealers. In addition to working with suppliers and manufacturers directly, the team will also work closely with its “preferred” hardware distributor, Canwel Hardware, to satisfy any distribution needs. As part of the initiative, Bruce Peck has been added to the Category Merchant team as Category Merchant, Electrical and Plumbing. As well, Carlo Rossi has been added to the Hardware Buying Team as the new Category Merchant for Paint, Décor and Seasonal.

IDEAL Appoints Unit Manager

IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC., a supplier of electrical tools, appointed Brian Slayton to Business Unit Manager – Tools and Supplies, effective immediately. In his new position, Slayton will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Tools and Supplies group, including oversight of the IDEAL manufacturing facility and distribution centre in Sycamore, Illinois.

OGC Names ON, MB Manager

OGC, a developer of computer systems for home improvement retailers, has named Allan C. Holton the Regional Sales Manager for Ontario and Manitoba. In his new position, he will be responsible for driving business development and service to its customer base in these provinces.

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August 12, 2009

RONA Reports 2Q Dip

RONA Inc. announced second-quarter consolidated sales of $1.37 billion, a drop of seven per cent compared to the $1.47 billion during the same quarter in 2008. Despite increased sales to commercial and professional customers in Ontario and only a slight drop in sales to consumers in Western Canada, the company saw a 6.2 per cent drop in same-store sales due mainly to the major decline in housing starts, the company says. RONA reported profits of $60.8 million for the quarter, down from $76.6 million during the same period last year, but managed to reduce its debt by $259.2 million compared to the same period last year. It also raised $150 million in a share offering during the period. “In these economic circumstances, we successfully carried on our PEP program (productivity, efficiency, profitability), we’ve improved our gross margin, reduced comparable inventories, increased productivity in our distribution centres and grown our sales of installation services,” said RONA president and CEO, Robert Dutton.

Businesses Start Later In Life, Study Shows

Ace Hardware’s ‘Entrepreneurship Study’ found that nearly one-third (33 per cent) of small business owners made the decision to become self-employed during their post-college career lives. The findings suggest small business owners decide to become their own boss after they understand the “benefits of financial accumulation coupled with the managerial and business acumen,” said John Venhuizen, vice-president of business development for Ace. Seventy-five per cent of respondents also revealed that they used personal savings to finance start-up business costs, a move most young people out of school can’t take, and another reason why businesses are started later on.

H. Paulin 2Q Sales Up

H. Paulin & Co.,Canadian supplier of bolts, nuts, and screws, reported sales of $35.7 million in the second quarter ended June 30, up from $39.4 million during the same quarter of last year. Net income was also up to $1.6 million for the quarter, compared to $1.09 million for the same period in 2008.

Hillman Group Launches Site

The Hillman Group has revamped its corporate website (www.hillmangroup.com), allowing its customers to “quickly and easily” find products, how-to videos, and other information, the company says. The distributor of fasteners, keys, letters, numbers, and signs says the new site also features an interactive online catalog that allows users to search items by part numbers or keywords. 

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August 11, 2009

Newell Rubbermaid Names New Leader

Newell Rubbermaid announced that its general counsel for more than 20 years, Dale Matschullat, will retire at the end of the year and will be succeeded by John Stipancich. Stipancich, 40, is currently the company’s general counsel for the Tools, Hardware & Commercial Products Group and for its Food & Home Products and Decor global business units. In the remaining five months, Stipancich will work with Matschullat to ensure a smooth transition, the company says.

Huttig Reports 2Q Drop

St. Louis-based building products distributor, Huttig, reported second-quarter sales of $119.9 million, a 39 per cent drop from its $195.4 million in the same period a year ago. The company also saw a second-quarter net loss of $6 million compared to a net loss of $2.5 million in the same quarter of 2008. All product categories were impacted by reduced housing starts, the company said, as general building products sales were down 34 per cent; millwork, 40 per cent; and engineered wood sales, 58 per cent.

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August 10, 2009

Greater Toronto Resale Record For July

The Greater Toronto REALTORS announced record sales of 9,967 for July, an increase of 28 per cent compared to July of last year. The average price for July transactions was $395,414, up by six per cent compared to July 2008. Year-to-date sales, however, at 50,632 are down 1.2 per cent compared to the first seven months of 2008. The average price, at $385,808, is also down by less than one-half of one per cent. "The steep drop-off in sales experienced at the beginning of the year has all but dissipated," said Jason Mercer, TREB's senior manager of market analysis. "With five months left to go in the year, it is probable that total existing home sales in 2009 will be at or above last year's level."

Henkel 2Q Profit Up

German-based adhesives producer, Henkel, announced that second-quarter net profit rose sharply from a year earlier, thanks to significant restructuring charges. However, sales were five per cent less than the same quarter of last year. Organic sales in the North America region dropped by 10.2 percent, as the tough market environment led to Adhesive Technologies posting a substantial decline in sales, the company said. However, sales of the Laundry & Home Care business sector showed an increase, as total sales for North America totalled 677 million euros.

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August 7, 2009

Ikea Pulls Spray-paint Ad Campaign

Ikea Canada has had to put a stop to its latest ‘guerrilla’ marketing initiative, which involved spray-painting ads, after complaints from businesses. Howard Moscoe, chair of licensing and standards, called the campaign vandalism and ordered Ikea to "cease and desist." The company used spray graffiti at 400 sites across Canada to promote its website where users could enter a contest to win $15,000 worth of furniture. Following a couple of complaints from businesses in Vancouver, B.C., Ikea says it decided to immediately remove the material across the country.

June Building Permits Up

The value of building permits rose to $5.2 billion in June, a one percent increase from May, according to Statistics Canada. In the non-residential sector, the value of permits grew 1.5 per cent in June to $2.5 billion, which followed an increase of nearly 20 per cent in May. In the residential sector, the value of permits increased for the fourth consecutive month by 0.5 per cent to $2.7 billion in June. Nationally, the largest gains were in British Columbia and Quebec which saw increases in every component of the residential sector and the non-residential sector.

Franke Names Luxury Products Leader

Swiss-based Franke Group has named Charles F. Lawrence head of its Luxury Products Group (LPG.). In his new position, Lawrence will have full P&L responsibility for all Franke’s Luxury Products activity in the U.S. The global manufacturer of kitchen sinks says the move reflects its wish to provide a more targeted alignment of its North American operations.

CertainTeed Introduces Blog

CertainTeed has announced the creation of its Building Knowledge blog (http://blog.certainteed.com), which is meant to provide greater communication to its network of architects, builders, specifiers, and contractors on a daily basis. “We're on the ground and connected with the industry, keeping a pulse on innovative projects, emerging trends and best practices,” CertainTeed says.

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August 6, 2009

Owens Corning Posts 2Q Loss

Owens Corning’s second-quarter net income dropped 20 per cent to $33 million compared to $41 million in the same period a year ago. First-quarter consolidated net sales were $1.2 billion, down 25 per cent from $1.6 billion a year ago. Revenue also fell 23 per cent to 1.22 billion. However, the company reports strong performance in roofing sales for the quarter, which was up 14 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2008. "We have delivered strong financial performance and strengthened our balance sheet while responding to continued weakness in our other markets,” said Mike Thaman, chairman and CEO. 

Lumber Liquidators Reports 2Q Growth

U.S. flooring retailer, Lumber Liquidators Inc., reports that profit grew 18 per cent in the second quarter – ahead of Wall Street expectations. Its net income grew to $6.9 million from $5.9 million a year ago. Second-quarter sales also increased 12 per cent to $143.1 million from $128 million. The company says the growth is a result of its ability to drive increases in traffic by leveraging the appeal of its value proposition, as it opened eight new stores during the quarter. Sales at its new locations grew $17.3 million over the year-ago period.

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August 5, 2009

Canadian Tire Extends Brand Partnership

Canadian Tire and Debbie Travis have signed an agreement extending their brand partnership for another two years. The Debbie Travis brand continues to experience “solid growth,” said Duncan Reith, senior vice president, merchandising, Canadian Tire Retail, and has brought its “credibility in the home décor and organization businesses to a whole new level.” Since the partnership began in 2005 as an exclusive paint line offering, the Debbie Travis Collection has expanded to an assortment of more than 1,200 products.

Taiga Reports Turnaround

Taiga Building Products Ltd. announced first-quarter net earnings of $6.6 million for the three months ended June 30, 2009, compared to the $4.2 million obtained in the same quarter last year. It also improved from a net loss of $4.5 million in the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2009. The company attributes these improvements in earnings to cost reductions and foreign exchange gains.

IRLY Opens In B.C.

Brothers Trennis, Leroy, and Trevor Wiens have opened a new IRLY Building Centre in Burns Lake, B.C. The brothers’ other locations in Danskin and Decker Lake B.C. will be combined into this new store. The brothers say it’s a better location that will allow them to offer a greater selection to customers.

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August 4, 2009

Weyerhaeuser Posts Loss

Weyerhaeuser posted a net loss of $106 million for the second quarter ended June 30, compared with a net loss of $96 million in the same quarter last year. Its net sales – including forest products and real estate – declined 36 per cent to $1.391 billion. Forest product revenues alone declined 34.5 per cent from $1.820 billion to $1.192 billion.

Scotts Income Rises

Scotts Miracle-Gro's net income for the three months ended June 27 was $147.8 million, up from $22.6 million in the same quarter last year. Net sales increased nine per cent to $1.28 billion, up from $1.171 billion in the third quarter last year. The record third-quarter sales and profits benefited from what the company described as a "high level of consumer engagement in nearly all aspects of the lawn and garden category."

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July 31, 2009

CAN-SAVE Now Stocks Eldorado

Eldorado Stone, a world leader in the manufactured stone industry, and CAN-SAVE, a wholesale distributor of specialty building products, kitchen and bath, and doors in Ontario, have established a partnership. CAN-SAVE will now stock and provide up to 16 highly popular profiles of Eldorado Stone for its dealers throughout the province. “By adding Eldorado Stone to our family of products, we are now able to offer a full category of manufactured stone options to our dealers,” says Dan Clements, vice-president of marketing for CAN-SAVE. “Our goal the first year is to identify at least 50 dealers among our eight sales territories to carry Eldorado Stone. We want to ensure that they have the appropriate support, training, and product knowledge in place to take proper advantage of this opportunity.” CAN-SAVE has an established dealer network of more than 1,600 lumber and building material retailers in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Newell Rubbermaid Earnings Rise

Newell Rubbermaid Inc.’s second quarter earnings rose 14 per cent, thanks to lower material costs and a decision to stop making some less-profitable products. For the three months that ended June 30, it earned $105.7 million. That compares with a year-ago profit of $92.5 million. Sales fell nearly 18 per cent to $1.5 billion, down from $1.83 billion, mostly because of the product reductions.

Show Focuses On ‘Heal Your Home’

The ‘24th Annual International Home Show’ will take place Thanksgiving Weekend – October 9 to 12 – in Toronto, ON. Focus of the event this year is ‘Heal your Home.’ Sessions will look at ‘Budget with a Little Indulgence’ where design experts Peter Fallico, Karl Lohnes, and Lynn Spence will prove quality and budget-friendly décor aren’t mutually exclusive. Another session will look at making the most of the Home Renovation Tax Credit. For more information, visit www.internationalhomeshow.ca

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July 30, 2009

Trex Profit Rises

Decking and fencing company Trex Co.’s second quarter profit rose 14 per cent. Net income rose to $7.4 million from $6.5 million last year. Revenue fell 3.7 per cent to $91.5 million from $95 million a year ago.

True Value Sales Decline

True Value had a sales decline in the second quarter. The company pointed to lawn and garden as a strong category in the quarter ended July 4. It posted revenue of $540.7 million, down 5.4 per cent from revenue of $571.3 million in the same period last year. Comp-store sales to its core domestic hardware store outlets declined 2.2 per cent in the quarter.

Demand For Home Organization Increasing

Demand for home organization products in the U.S. will increase 4.3 per cent annually to $8.9 billion in 2013. ‘Home Organization Products,’ a study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., says as baby boomers become empty-nest families and move to smaller homes, they will look for ways to organize their possessions in these spaces. Also, the children of the baby boom generation are moving into dorm rooms and first apartments. The sharp downturn in the housing market in 2007 and 2008 also caused many homeowners to adjust the way that they spend money on their homes, leading many to invest in built-in organization systems either to upgrade homes they plan to stay in or to differentiate homes that are being sold. Preventing even more rapid growth will be the rising commoditization of many home organization products, competition from producers in China and other low manufacturing cost countries, and the expected decline in prices for many raw materials.

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July 29, 2009

Composite Lumber Demand To Rise

Demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber is projected to advance 9.2 per cent per year to $5.3 billion in 2013, creating a market for 3.3 billion pounds of plastic, says ‘Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber,’ a study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. Gains will be driven by continued consumer acceptance of these products as replacements for more traditional materials, such as natural wood.  Composite and plastic lumber will increasingly be desired due to their long life spans, minimal maintenance requirements, resistance to degradation caused by insect attack and exposure to the elements, and ability to be cut and hewn like natural wood. Moreover, the increasing perception of these materials as environmentally friendly products, due to their incorporation of recycled materials, will promote further demand. 

‘Magic Of Mark’s’ Innovations Revealed

Mark’s Work Wearhouse has revealed its ‘Magic of Mark’s’ line of apparel innovations for fall/winter 2009 for men and women. The collections include casual wear, business-casual wear, outerwear, footwear, and undergarments. Innovations include Hyper-Dri, an invisible treatment for coats and pants to make them water repellent so workers stay dry and comfortable on the job. The hyper-tri treatment is also used on jackets. T-Max insulation creates coats, boats, pants, and gloves which combine warmth with lightweight.

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July 28, 2009

CanWel Relocates DC

CanWel Building Materials Income Fund has relocated its Saskatoon, SK, distribution. The new 30,000-square-foot facility is expected to provide it with the ability to offer a wider range of products and services for its customers. It operates 16 distribution centres across the country. Amar Doman, chairman of the board, says “We look forward to supplying our customers in this region with an expanded portfolio of products and services.”

Affluent Americans Spending More On Outdoors

Affluent Americans – those making $100,000 or more annually – are spending more on their outdoor living spaces, says a study by Unity Marketing. ‘A Trend Report on the Market for Outdoor Living Products’ shows spending by this group on outdoor living luxuries rose 22.6 per cent from 2007 to 2008 and the trend has continued in the first quarter of 2009, with spending up 33 per cent over the same quarter last year. Benefiting most from increased spending on outdoor living goods are big box home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s where the average amount spent by affluent shoppers surged 24 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year.

CIL Offers New Coatings

CIL has launched a new generation of wash-and-wear coatings. Smart³ Interior Wash & Wear uses innovative technologies that save time through little or no preparation, effortless cleaning, and long-lasting, high-quality results. Combining a built-in primer and one-coat coverage paint in a single can, it enables walls to be washed and scrubbed without getting marked or scuffed, even on low-sheen, trendy finishes. It is available in a variety of finishes – from ultra-matte to semi-gloss. The line also includes specially-formulated applications for such areas as kitchens and baths.

Masco Income Falls

Masco Corp.’s second quarter net income fell 33 per cent, in part because of a charge related to cost-cutting measures. For the quarter that ended June 30, its net income was $55 million compared with net income of $82 million in the year-ago quarter. The most recent results included a $22 million pretax charge stemming from plant closures, layoffs, and other cost-cutting initiatives. It says its results were hurt by lower sales of new home construction products, partially offset by higher sales of paints and stains.

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July 27, 2009

Black & Decker Earnings Drop

The Black & Decker Corporation’s net earnings for the second quarter of 2009 were $38.3 million versus $96.7 million or the second quarter of 2008. Sales decreased 27 per cent for the quarter to $1.2 billion. Sales in the power tools and accessories segment decreased 21 per cent for the quarter. Sales increased at a high single-digit rate in the U.S. consumer products group, as strong shipments of lawn and garden products and the new Porter-Cable line outweighed decreases in other categories. Sales in the hardware and home improvement segment decreased 21 per cent for the quarter.

TIM-BR-MART World Junior Sponsor

TIM-BR MART will be a major event sponsor of the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatchewan from December 26, 2009, to January 5, 2010. Audiences, those at the games and watching on television at home, will see the TIM-BR MART logo on places like rink boards, scoreboards, and banners, plus it will be featured on arena signage and in event websites and programs.

CertainTeed Distributes EverNew

Fiber Composites, a manufacturer of alternative decking, railing, and fencing solutions, has entered a distribution agreement with CertainTeed Corporation to promote its PVC decking product line. The line will be marketed and branded by CertainTeed as EverNew LT. It will be available in four colors – saddle, sequoia, dune, and greystone. The product will be promoted with emphasis on its low maintenance attributes and the premise that its stain and fade resistant properties will provide enduring beauty for years to come.

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July 24, 2009

Signals Indicate End Of Recession

A prediction that economic growth in Canada would resume in the second half of this year and pick up in 2010 signals the end of the recession. Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, says “we now expect the Canadian economy will contract by 2.3 per cent this year and then grow by three per cent in 2010 and 3.5 per cent in 2011. Stimulative monetary and fiscal policies, improved financial conditions, firmer commodity prices, and a rebound in business and consumer confidence are spurring domestic demand growth. However, he warned “this recovery is nascent. To sustain global growth, effective and resolute policy implementation remains critical.”

Stanley Works Profit Drops

Stanley Works Co.’s second quarter profit dropped 11 per cent on weak industrial tool sales. Net income of $69.5 million is down from $78.1 million a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $919.2 million, down 20 per cent from $1.15 billion in the same period last year. It also announced additional cost-cutting intended to save $50 million, half of which is to be achieved this year.

Extrusion Plant Sold

Wood Composite Technologies Inc. is selling its extrusion plant location in Nisku, AB. Avison Young Real Estate Alberta Inc. and DTZ Barnicke Edmonton Inc. are the purchasers. It will also relocate its extrusion plant and equipment and executive offices to its pellet mill location, an operational consolidation that should allow the company to achieve added efficiency by reducing fixed overhead costs and duplication.

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July 23, 2009

Retail Sales Up In May

Retail sales in current dollars increased 1.2 per cent in May to $34 billion, more than offsetting a modest decline in April, says Statistics Canada. Sales increased in seven of eight sectors. The building and outdoor home supplies stores sector saw sales increase by one per cent, double the rate of the previous month. Sales in home centres and hardware stores increased 1.1 per cent, rising for the fourth consecutive month. Specialized building materials and garden stores posted a 0.8 per cent gain after decreases in the previous two months.

Private Companies Optimistic

More private companies in Canada are optimistic about growth prospects in the next year than they were eight months ago, says a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Its ‘Business Insights’ survey shows that almost 60 per cent of Canadian private companies are striving for growth in the next year, up from 55 per cent in the same survey conducted in October of 2008. Furthermore, the survey shows that 61 per cent of all companies expect their business to do better in the next 12 months, up significantly from 44 per cent in October. Of those companies that are striving for growth, the majority are focused on external strategies including improving sales and marketing, at 82 per cent; increasing market share gain, at 75 per cent; and developing new products, at 72 per cent.

U.S. Remodeling Hits Cyclical Bottom

Owner spending on home improvements in the U.S. will continue to trend down through 2009 and into the first part of next year, says the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity. With annual declines hovering around 11 per cent for the next several quarters, some signs suggest the depressed remodeling market is close to a cyclical bottom. A few components point to renewed strength in the industry, though the overall outlook going into 2010 is still bleak. Weak home prices and decreased cost recovery for most types of remodeling projects are discouraging owners from pursuing typical upper-end improvements.

Marketing Tools Undervalued

Executives often underestimate the value of their marketing tools when assessing their company's worth, says Ogilvy Renault LLP. Indeed, the brand under which a company's products or services are offered is often overlooked by the company in favour of the products or services themselves. This mind set can result in expensive mistakes and lost opportunities, particularly in the context of asset valuation, dealing with aggressive competitors, or even assessing the return on an advertising campaign.

BMR Store Opens  

The Matériaux 3 C-BMR store has opened in Grande-Rivière, QC.The 10,000 square foot renovation centre provides customers in the Grande-Rivière region of the Gaspé Peninsula with a complete inventory of hardware and building materials.

Stanley Works Sponsors Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays and The Stanley Works have reached a sponsorship agreement that runs through the 2012 season. Key elements of the deal include sponsorship of a left centerfield outfield wall sign at Rogers Centre. Stanley will also own sponsorship rights to the ‘Tale of the Tape’ video board feature that goes into play whenever a Blue Jay player hits a home run at Rogers Centre. It will also receive ‘Official Sponsor’ status and marketing rights as the ‘Official Tools of the Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre.’

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July 22, 2009

Wal-Mart Supercentres Coming To Saskatchewan

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open supercentres in Saskatchewan. It will open 185,000 square-foot stores in Regina and Saskatoon in early 2010. The big format outlets feature a complete grocery store with fresh produce, meat, and baked goods, along with its merchandise shelves. It moved into the Canadian grocery business in late 2006 with two supercentres in Ontario. There are now 58 and by the end of this year it expects to have 82 across the country. It currently has 312 stores in Canada.

Lighting Max Opens Toronto Office

Lighting Max, a computerized, online residential illumination source for builders and décor centres, has opened a Toronto, ON, office. Steven Shaffer, its CEO, says the Cleveland, OH, company revised its view on coming to Canada after the financial market meltdown in 2007 which changed its markets. Until now, its business was focused on parts of Ohio and Charlotte, NC. However, he says when they look at Canada today, it features the best financial institutions in the world. As well, the downturn in Canada is nothing like that of the U.S. and he expects that recovery here will be faster. The company’s primary business focus is low and high-rise builders and developers with décor centres or who use outsourced décor professionals in the Greater Toronto Area.

MNCs Ally With SMEs

Once seen as adversaries, multi-national corporations (MNCs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are becoming allies, says 'Big Gains With Small Partners: What MNCs Look For In Their SME Suppliers,' a study by the Conference Board’s International Trade and Investment Centre in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. “The ‘churn and burn’ approach to supplier relationships favoured at one time by many large multi-national corporations is outdated. As the economy is transformed by global value chains, large multi-national corporations depend on their smaller suppliers for everything from product development to customer service,” says Tim Krywulak, senior research associate. “Working with SME suppliers offers big gains for large MNCs in areas of improved productivity, increased innovation, and access to new markets.” The report offers recommendations to improve partnerships. A couple of ways for SMEs – companies that employ fewer than 500 people – to become better partners for MNCs are to focus on developing their greatest strengths and marketing these specific benefits to customers.

Sherwin-Williams Profit Drops

Sherwin-Williams’ profit in the second quarter dropped seven per cent as the economic downturn cut into its paint sales. It reported earnings of $158 million in the second quarter of 2009 compared with $171.7 million in the second quarter of 2008. Revenue dropped by 12.6 per cent to $1.95 billion, from $2.23 billion a year earlier.

Fostering Retail Renaissance Examined

The '2009 Atlantic Provinces Idea Exchange!' will focus on fostering a retail renaissance in Atlantic Canada. A breakout session on building strategies that reflect communities and drive competitiveness will examine the advantages of a holistic approach to strengthening the retail and development sector through engagement, participation and marketing techniques. It runs August 11 to 13 in Saint John, NB. For more information, visit http://www.icsc.org/

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July 21, 2009

Lowe’s Gaining Ground

The race for the number one spot for consumer preference continues its five-year trend of Lowe’s gaining share on Home Depot, says BIGresearch’s ‘June ’09 Retail Ratings Report.’ Over the last five years, Home Depot has lost almost half its lead. In June ’05, Home Depot was shopped most often by 31.4 per cent of shoppers. In June ’09, it was shopped most often by 28.5 per cent of shoppers. Meanwhile, Lowe’s moved from 21.5 per cent to 24.3 per cent. In addition to Lowe’s, Walmart, ACE Hardware, Target, and Sears experienced growth year-over-year, while Home Depot’s growth in consumer preference share is relatively stagnant.

Frigidaire Unveiling New Logo

Frigidaire will unveil a new logo and look to celebrate the introduction of 200 new appliances this September. The new appliances are designed with time-saving features engineered to help families spend less time doing routine housework. The features reduce cooking time, wash dishes faster, and offer more usable refrigerator shelf space.

Sico Supports Cancer Research

Sico will donate a portion of sales of its disappearing-pink Flat for Ceilings paint to support breast cancer research. It will donate $1.25 to the Canadian Cancer Society for each gallon of Flat for Ceilings with pink dye paint sold nationally. The campaign, called ‘Changing Lives, One Coat at a Time,’ aims to sell a total of 40,000 cans, resulting in a $50,000 donation in support of breast cancer research. Flat for Ceilings latex paint rolls on pink and dries to white, letting users see clearly which sections have already been painted. It chose this paint for this fundraising effort because of its ‘pink’ feature, the colour associated with breast cancer.

Jorgenson Moves To CHHMA

Michael Jorgenson has been appointed marketing & communications manager at the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA). Previously, he was with T.S. Simms & Co. Limited, the Canadian manufacturer of paint applicators, most recently as director of sales and marketing.

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July 20, 2009

U.S. Small Business Owners Optimistic

Significant numbers of U.S. small business owners are optimistic about the U.S. economy, says an Ace Hardware national study. More than three in 10 participants in the ‘Ace Hardware Entrepreneurship Study’ said the economy either has not had a negative impact on their business (15 per cent) or that they believe the economy will recover enough within a year to have a positive impact (16 per cent). Further, 53 per cent estimated the economy will turn around enough within the next two to three years to have a positive impact on their business.

Spending Nears Cyclical Bottom

Spending on home improvements will continue to trend down through 2009 and into the first part of 2010, says the ‘Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA)’ from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The report showed annual declines hovering around 11 per cent for the next several quarters, but also showed signs that suggest the depressed remodeling market is close to a cyclical bottom. It showed some indicators of renewed strength because of factors such as low-cost financing for home improvement projects and rising home sales in a growing number of markets. However, weak home prices and decreased cost recovery for most types of remodeling projects are discouraging homeowners from making upper-end improvements.

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July 17, 2009

Canadian Consumer Confidence Resilient

Consumer confidence is holding steady at 93.4 – according to TNS Canadian Facts’ Consumer Confidence Index – putting it between June’s 92.0 and May’s 94.1. The index tracks Canadians' attitudes about the economy each month and is part of a global study conducted by research agency, TNS, in 18 countries. "Even in the face of a slew of negative news stories filling this month's airwaves and broadsheets… consumer confidence has remained remarkably resilient," said Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts. Among the other indices, the Present Situation Index, which captures the overall state of the current economic and employment situations, bounced back to 79.1 from last month's 74.2. The Buy Index, which measures whether people think it’s currently a good time to make major purchases, fell 104.5 last month to 103.2. And the Expectations Index, which measures consumers' view of the economy, dropped from 103.3 in June to 102.6 in July.

Sears Opens AB Dealer Store

Sears Canada opened a 2,500-square-foot Dealer Store in Vermilion, AB. The store is locally owned and operated while all merchandise is supported by Sears guarantees. "We've come up with a winning formula for consumers in Vermilion by combining the national resources of Sears with the local service of your neighbour…" said store owner Christina Whitlock.

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July 16, 2009

Millennium Decking Expands Distribution

Alberta-based Wood Composite Technologies Inc. has confirmed that North American building products distributor, BlueLinx Corporation, will expand its distribution services of Millennium Decking in the U.S. As part of the agreement, BlueLinx will supply Millennium Decking to participating Norandex locations across the U.S. Millennium Decking Inc. is a subsidiary of Wood Composite Technologies, which manufacturers products made out of 90 per cent recycled post-industrial materials. "We are looking forward to expanding our successful distribution partnership with Norandex and are excited about these additional opportunities," said Randy Russell, director of national account-specialty distributors at BlueLinx.

AkzoNobel Announces General Counsel

AkzoNobel announced that Sven Dumoulin will become the new General Counsel after Jan Karel van der Staay steps down at the end of the year. Dumoulin – currently group secretary of Unilever – was once a lawyer with a Dutch law firm and was an advisory member of the Dutch Corporate Governance Code Committee. Staay was involved with the acquisition of ICI and established the design of AkzoNobel's legal function.

Goodfellow Declares Dividend

The Board of Directors of Goodfellow Inc., a wholesaler and distributor of wood and wood by-products, declared an eligible dividend of $0.15 per share payable August 14, 2009 to all shareholders of record as of July 31, 2009.

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July 15, 2009

Canadian Tire Chip Card Compatible

Canadian Tire has become the largest retailer in the country to go chip-card compatible with the launch of new point-of-sale terminals across all 475 stores in its network. By working closely with MasterCard Canada and Moneris Solutions Corporation, the company is the first retailer to fully support the technology, which involves using a small computer processor chip and a configuration of software applications, significantly improving security. The chips hold encrypted information that requires consumers to enter a PIN code to complete credit card payment. "MasterCard Canada congratulates Canadian Tire on its pioneering achievement as Canada migrates to chip," said Oliver Manahan, vice-president Advanced Payments, MasterCard Canada.

CHHMA Selects Marketing Manager

The Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) has chosen Michael Jorgenson as its marketing & communications manager. Mr. Jorgenson joins the CHHMA after 14 years of service with member company T.S. Simms & Co. Limited, a Canadian manufacturer of paint applicators.  During that time, he served in several marketing capacities and was most recently director of sales & marketing. 

McCullough Joins Fed Co-op

Ken McCullough announced that he is resigning as CEO of Calgary Co-operative Association Limited and taking a position as vice-president, retail division with Federated Co-operatives Limited in Saskatoon. McCullough has been Calgary Co-op’s CEO since 2004. Upon joining Federated Co-operatives – a major supplier for Calgary Co-op – he says he hopes to build upon the positive relationship that exists between the two organizations.

Coop Fédérée Hires Manager

Coop fédérée has appointed Gabriel Côté manager of the supply, hardware division, at the organization’s headquarters in Trois-Rivières, QC. Côté brings more than 20 years experience in hardware distribution and logistics to the position.

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July 14, 2009

Fed Raising Tax Credit Awareness

The Conservative Government kicked off its national advertising campaign for the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC), which is also being complemented by a partnership program with retailers. Minister of Natural Resources, Lisa Raitt, was on hand at a Milton, ON Home Depot to announce the official launch. She said it’s hard to truly gauge how well Canadians are reacting to the HRTC – until of course tax time rolls around – but that it’s important to help everyone understand how it works now, instead of later. “We want to ensure that Canadian homeowners know about this credit and take full advantage of it.”  The initiative will begin right away through advertising on television, select magazines, Internet, and digital screens on transit in major cities and on elevators in office buildings. The government will also launch a direct mail component in September targeted at 3.5 million homes that are 15 years or older. As well, major home improvement retailers, such as RONA, Home Depot, Home Hardware, and Canadian Tire, are taking part in the campaign and will have – by mid-August – HRTC information displays with special envelopes available for customers to use to keep their receipts and related documents to claim the credit.

Start Business Now, Entrepreneurs Say

A large portion of U.S. small business owners say 2009 is, in fact, the right time to start your own business, despite this year’s economic turbulence. Out of the 538 business owners polled in the ‘Ace Hardware Entrepreneurship Study,’ 36 per cent said they would advise someone to start a business in 2009 and 29 per cent said they might recommend a business launch, while only nine per cent said absolutely not. Those polled actually credit the down economy for creating opportunities for entrepreneurs. “The low rate of inflation has meant that most prices are stable… This makes it easier for a new business to negotiate lease terms, acquire raw materials and even hire the best people at bargain prices, ” said economist Dr. Chris Kuehl, regarding the study.

TORBSA Elects President, Directors

Dante DiGiovanni, of Blair Building Materials Inc. (Maple, ON), was elected president of TORBSA Limited for the year 2009. The group also chose its other board of directors for 2009 at its recent annual meeting, namely: Past President Doug Portiss of Sarnia Drywall Supply Ltd. (Sarnia, ON), Vice President Claude Morin of Morin Bros. Building Supplies Inc. (Ottawa, ON), Secretary Michael Bernardi of Bernardi Building Supply Ltd. (Weston, ON), Vice President Operations Jim Holmes of Builders’ Supplies Limited (Mississauga, ON), and Treasurer Blake Oldershaw of Oldershaw Building Supply Co. Ltd. (Chatham, ON).

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July 13, 2009

Ontarians Prefer Energy Efficient Homes

Among the top features Ontario homebuyers are willing to pay for, energy efficiency, environmentally friendly materials, and homes that retain their value rank the highest, according to a Leger Marketing poll. The survey of 1,000 Ontarians conducted in April found that residents between the ages of 35-54 years are the most likely to pay more for energy-efficient homes (42 per cent), while those over the age of 55 are least likely (34 per cent). Those between the ages of 18-34 years also rank energy efficiency high, with 41 per cent willing to pay more for that feature. Preferences vary by region as well, with homebuyers in southwestern Ontario most willing to pay more for an energy-efficient home (50 per cent), followed by those in Northern Ontario (48 per cent).

Moen Meeting Urban Needs

Moen has partnered with new Quest Condominiums in Edmonton to bring residents its latest kitchen and bath collections. Among the condominium’s interior finish packages, Moen has its '90°' and 'ioDIGITAL' products specified in the plans. Because 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban areas, it’s important to “meet the unique design needs of urban loft and condominium settings,” says Michael Klassen, western regional manager for Moen Canada.

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July 10, 2009

Power Tool Demand To Hit $29 Billion

Global demand for power tools is expected to increase 3.7 per cent per year through 2013, reaching $29 billion, according to a study by The Freedonia Group, Inc. The report, ‘World Power Tools,’ predicts the U.S. market will deliver over one-third of the additional demand generated between 2008 and 2013, as the country recovers from recession. Demand in China and India will rise more than six per cent per annum, while gains in Russia and Brazil will exceed the global average. Electric tools (plug-in and cordless) will continue to make up the bulk of sales, but cordless products will post the strongest gains thanks to its advantages over plug-ins. Improved battery technology, such as lithium-ion chemistry, is expected to drive the use of cordless power tools among consumers and professionals.

Housing Starts Improve

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reports housing starts increased to 140,700 units in June, up eight per cent from the 130,300 recorded in May. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts also rose 9.5 per cent in June, while urban multiple starts increased 11.3 per cent and urban single starts increased by 7.3 per cent in June. The CMHC expects housing starts to improve over the next several years, aligning more closely to demographic demand, which is currently estimated at about 175,000 units per year.

Richelieu Reports 2Q Results

Richelieu announced net earnings of $7.3 million for its second quarter ended May 31, on consolidated sales of $110.1 million. Cash flow from operations stood at $9.2 million for the quarter. Though the results are relatively satisfactory, the company says they are lower than in the corresponding periods of 2008 due to the economic slowdown on the residential and commercial renovation market in the U.S. and Canada, particularly Western and Central Canada.

WD-40 Pleased With 3Q

WD-40 Co. had earnings of $6.9 million in its fiscal third-quarter, compared to $8.1 million in the same period last year. Revenue fell 16 per cent to $68.8 million from $82.1 million and profits fell 15 per cent as a result of losses from foreign exchange rates and overall economic weakness. "We are pleased with our results, given the environment," said Chief Executive Garry Ridge. "In constant currency, we have seen relatively flat sales and net income."

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July 9, 2009

Affordability Drawing Home Buyers Back

Home buyers are being drawn back into the market thanks to greater affordability, aggressive economic policies, and softening home prices, says a housing report by RBC Economics. “Home resale activity has rallied impressively since the late-winter," said Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC, as all major Canadian cities seem to be experiencing a revival. At the national level, the report found that rates of housing affordability improved 2.8 percentage points for standard condominiums and five percentage points for two-storey homes – representing the third consecutive quarterly decline in home ownership costs. RBC's Affordability measure for a detached bungalow for Canada's largest cities were 62.6 per cent for Vancouver, 45.9 per cent for Toronto, 39.1 per cent for Ottawa, 36.5 per cent for Montreal, and 35.1 per cent for Calgary.

Energy-Efficient Renos Growing Fast

With homeowners looking to cut costs during the economic slowdown, energy-efficient home renovations are poised to grow 50 per cent faster than the renovations market as a whole over the next five years, according to a report by research firm, SBI. The report – ‘Energy-Efficient Home Renovations Market, Part I: Windows, Doors & Insulation’ – predicts the energy-efficient renovations market will undergo an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent from 2009 to 2013, and reach $35 billion by the end of the forecast period. As well, the growth of energy-efficient window and door replacements is expected to have a CAGR of 14 per cent. The greatest growth is expected to be in the insulation, caulking, and weather stripping segment, which SBI forecasts will grow 25 per cent in 2010 with a CAGR of 21 per cent for the five year period ending 2013.

Building Permits Surpass $5 Billion

For the first time since October 2008, the value of building permits exceeded the $5-billion mark for the month of May, says Statistics Canada. Construction intentions rose 14.8 per cent from April thanks to gains in both residential components and two of the three non-residential components. The value of permits improved for three consecutive months in the residential sector. Residential intentions increased 14.4 per cent to $2.6 billion, with Ontario making up most of the increase at the national level. In the non-residential sector, the value of permits rose 15.3 per cent to $2.4 billion after a 12.9 per cent decrease in April. Municipalities issued $1.1 billion worth of permits for multi-family dwellings in May, up 40.6 per cent from April. Single-family permits also rose 1.4 per cent to $1.6 billion, marking the third consecutive monthly increase.

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July 8, 2009

Retailers Holding Inventory Longer

North American retailers are holding on to their inventory significantly longer than they did on average before 2006, says a report from market researcher Sageworks Inc. The data finds jewellery, luggage, and leather stores held their inventory for 19 days longer in the past year than they did in 2006, the greatest increase of any retail category. That was followed by nurseries and lawn equipment stores with a jump of 14 days, while inventory at grocery stores held the same number of days as in 2006. "As we all know, the longer it takes for inventory to turn, the more serious the implications are on cash flow and profits," Sageworks stated. Auto parts and tire stores, on the other hand, had lower inventories now compared to the 2006 period, as consumers are holding on to inventory for four fewer days than in 2006 – “likely because people are repairing what they already own, as opposed to buying new," Sageworks says.

Ace Launching Mobile Campaign

Ace Hardware is using the idle screen on mobile phones to promote its business to mobile consumers. The retailer-owned cooperative launched a national campaign around its Memorial Day Sale through a turnkey mobile advertising solution by Mobile Posse Inc. The campaign consists of two ads and a seven-day sponsorship of weather forecasts, giving Ace an opportunity to showcase its various seasonal products. The campaign was executed by Horizon Media and generated an average CTR of 18 per cent. As well, consumers that viewed the campaign were nearly 30 per cent more likely to visit an Ace Hardware retail store.

Deere & Co. Announces Russian Expansion

Deere & Co. is expanding its farm, forestry, and construction operations in Russia. The company has had a presence in Russia for nearly 130 years and has developed a dealer network across the country, representing a workforce of about 2,000 people. Currently, it maintains a manufacturing operation in Orenburg and is developing an operations, training, and parts centre near Kaluga.

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July 7, 2009

Canadian Door Manufacturer Expands

Canadian door manufacturer, Tru Tech Doors, announced that it is expanding into the U.S. market. "We have been enjoying strong growth, despite the recession, so we felt it was the right time to take our product to the U.S.," said John Careri, president, CEO and founder of the company. Tru Tech purchased a facility in Fredericksburg, VA as its base after a leading door manufacturer closed down there. The company also hired many of the employees scheduled to lose their jobs at the facility. Its U.S. division will be known as Tru Tech Doors USA.

CSA Announces New Identity

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) unveiled its new corporate identity, reflecting its “transition from a traditional standards developer to an energetic standards-based solutions provider for North America and the global marketplace," says Suzanne Kiraly, president, CSA Standards. The new logo and its colours are meant to express, among other things, its commitment to addressing climate change, and its website has been redesigned to be more dynamic and easier to navigate. The familiar CSA mark that appears on billions of products worldwide, however, will not change.

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July 6, 2009

Coalition Against Unfair Fees Gains Support

The StopStickingItToUs Coalition – made up of over 250,000 Canadian businesses opposed to unfair fees charged to merchants – has garnered government support for its cause. The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has released a report recommending fundamental changes to the way credit card companies, banks and payment processors operate in Canada. "The Committee has clearly recognized that market forces alone aren't enough to defend us from the market dominance of the two major credit card companies and the banks," says Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, Retail Council of Canada. Among the report’s recommendations, the senate recognizes the need for greater transparency and accountability in Canadian debit and credit markets; and for establishing a code of conduct for payments systems participants and practices for setting fees and rates.

Arrow Appoints President

Arrow Fastener has named Gary DuBoff president of the company. Prior to his new position with Arrow Fastener, DuBoff served as senior vice-president of sales for MASCO Bath and vice-president of sales & marketing for American Shower & Bath (A Masco Company).

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July 3, 2009

Improved Performance By Going Green

Retailers with a ‘green’ agenda are able to substantially improve their performance, says a study by consulting firm SSA & Company. The study, ‘Going Green in the Retail Industry’ – based on more than 20 environmental projects by retailers worldwide – shows that business performance improved by an average of 30 to 40 per cent among retailers through initiatives such as energy consumption, recycling, and waste reduction. Such savings translate into tens of millions of dollars annually and shows that going green doesn’t necessarily mean increased costs, the report says. "Going green isn't just good corporate citizenship - it's a strategy for driving out inefficiency," says Suzanne Long, SSA & Company's retail practice leader.

RONA Announces Closing Of Equity Issue

RONA inc. announced it has closed its previously announced sale of an additional 1,744,500 Common Shares at a price of $12.90 per share. Purchased by a syndicate of underwriters led by Scotia Capital Inc., the offering represents a total of 11,630,000 shares being issued for gross proceeds of $150,027,000. The company says the equity issue will further strengthen its balance sheet and increase its financial flexibility.

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July 2, 2009

BMR Adds Stores

Groupe BMR reports a number of additions to its network of hardware stores, with the opening of the Paint & Flooring Warehouse Inc., Mississauga, ON; H&T Hardware, Perth-Andover, NB; and Émile Charette et Fils Ltée., Gatineau (Buckingham), QB. It also announced the addition of a BMR renovation centre, Les Construction M.R.S. Inc. in Iles de la Madeleine, QB. As well, BMR’s Fall buying show is scheduled for November 5 to 6, 2009 at the Quebec City Convention Centre. For more information, contact Christian Auger at (450)-655-2441 or cauger@bmr-legroupe.com.

TruServ Announces Fall Markets

TruServ Canada Inc. announced it will hold its Fall National Merchandise & Planning Markets October 3 to 6, 2009, supporting retailers in areas such as merchandising, advertising, technology, and store accounting. More than 700 independent retailers will have the opportunity to attend the markets and coordinate their spring and summer seasonal product purchases with over 400 major manufacturers.

Slobodian Returns To Can-Save

Jennifer Slobodian has returned to the Can-Save sales team. She began with Can-Save in customer service in 2002 and was promoted to territory sales representative in September 2006. After several years in the Central Ontario territory, she resigned from the company. She is now back as part of the Toronto-west/Golden Horseshoe Territory sales team.

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June 30, 2009

Self-Service Kiosk Growth Expected

Transactions at self-service kiosks will surpass $775 billion in 2009 and will grow to more than $1.6 trillion by 2013, says a study by the research firm, IHL Group. The group expects continued double-digit growth in revenue generated by self-service transactions as retailers, restaurants, and transportation authorities offer more devices in more locations. As well, the current recession is actually increasing the acceptance of the technologies, because they act as “a hedge against increasing labour expenses during a tough economic climate,” and “allow companies to schedule their workforce for high-volume periods without sacrificing service during non-peak times, " said Lee Holman, lead retail analyst of the IHL Group.

Contractors Recognize CertainTeed

Insulate America Inc., an association made up of independent insulation contractors, has honoured CertainTeed Corporation with its Supplier of the Year Award. The award marks the second time in three years that the cooperative group of contractors has recognized CertainTeed for, among other things, its support for the Insulate America organization, educational opportunities provided to members, and lead referrals and accessibility to all levels of the corporation. “This is a great honour, and Insulate America is an outstanding partner that we look forward to working with for many years to come,” says Jeff Templeton, vice president and general manager for CertainTeed’s residential and commercial insulation business.

Brand Names Still Swaying Consumers

Ninety-one per cent of shoppers will keep buying store brand products after the recession ends, according to a poll by GfK Custom Research North America, on behalf of the Private Label Manufacturers Association. The ongoing study, ‘Store Brands and The Recession,’ based on polling of nearly 800 shoppers, highlights the importance of quality as a factor convincing shoppers to keep buying them, as nine out of every 10 shoppers agree that the store brands they purchase are just as good as, or better than, national brand products. As well, nearly half expressed a desire to see a greater assortment of store brands from which to choose and – as the recession continues – 35 per cent say they are trying store brand products in categories where they had previously only purchased national brand items.

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June 29, 2009

Manitoba’s Construction Outlook Promising

Manitoba’s construction sector is looking strong thanks to a combination of government stimulus and planned building projects, says a forecast by the Construction Sector Council (CSC). The CSC predicts employment in many skilled trades will rise by more than five per cent between now and 2011, and that over 10,000 skilled trades’ workers will be needed in the province over the next nine years. "This is one sector that's helping to build Manitoba out of the recession," said George Gritziotis, executive director of the CSC. In the long term, those promising figures will continue to rise, the CSC says, as housing expansion is expected to boost employment in key trades by more than 25 per cent between 2011 and 2017.

Rubbermaid Latest GREENGUARD Participant

Rubbermaid is the latest manufacturer to participate in the GREENGUARD certification for Children & Schools standard. The company has certified its wire shelving used in many residential storage applications, and joins more than 200 participating manufacturers in the GREENGUARD Certification Program. According to a recent study by Harris Interactive, on behalf of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, 69 per cent of consumers now prefer to buy products certified for indoor air quality.

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June 26, 2009

Bed Bath & Beyond Earnings Up

Bed Bath & Beyond announced first-quarter net earnings of $87.2 million, ended May 30, up from net earnings of $76.8 million in the same period last year. Sales for the quarter also rose by 2.8 per cent to $1.694 billion, while comparable-store sales dropped by 1.6 per cent. The first-quarter results reflect the first period without former competitor Linens 'N Things, which filed for bankruptcy and closed stores last year.

Ikea Reports 5,000 Job Cuts

Ikea has cut 5,000 jobs worldwide this year because of the economic crisis – something it’s never had to do before, managing director, Anders Dahlvig, said to a Swedish financial newspaper. "We have never had to implement such massive job cuts before... But it is completely necessary to adapt our costs and our capacity to demand, which is weaker than we expected." The company says it was expecting sales to drop by 11 per cent this year but so far, sales have just fallen by one per cent thanks to billions of dollars invested in opening new stores. This year the company plans to open 14 new stores, representing an investment of about $1.7 billion.

Liquidation World Appoints CFO

Liquidation World Inc. named Daniel Ardila Chief Financial Officer & Senior Executive Vice President Finance. He will replace Ken Wightman, who will continue with the company for a limited time. Prior to the new position, Ardila worked for solar industry firm, 6N Silicon Inc., and was vice-president and chief financial officer at Algoma Steel Inc.

2009 Construct Canada Announced

The 2009 Construct Canada trade show has been officially scheduled for December 2 to 4, at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre. The 21st edition of the show will be held concurrently with the HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo, PM Expo, Concrete Canada, DesignTrends, and the National GreenBuilding Conference – together offering access to more than 200 seminars and 1,050 exhibits. For more information, visit www.constructcanada.com.

Goodfellow To Hold Warehouse Sale

Goodfellow Inc. announced it will hold a Warehouse Sale at its Campbellville, ON branch on Thursday Aug. 13. The event will feature “great deals across all product lines,” food and refreshments, prizes, and opportunities to meet manufacturing representatives, said Craig Torrance, Goodfellow marketing coordinator. For more information, email ctorrance@goodfellowinc.com or call 800-263-6269.

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June 25, 2009

Levers Gaining Over Knobs

While door knobs used to dominate the lockset market, now the market is split equally between knobs and levers, says Adam Findlay, assistant channel marketing manager, hardware and home improvement group, for Black & Decker. He says, for the most part, the door knobs which are being purchased are primarily to replace ones in the home that need replacement. In many cases, these are the products which were installed by the builder and the home owner is looking for something that matches what he has. However, his company is finding more people turning to levers and part of the reason may be the aging population which is looking for something easier to use. Rather than turn a door knob, it is easier to just push down on a lever and it is moving to make sure all of its door hardware meets standards for accessibility.

TSC Stores, Ontario Farmers Join Forces

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and TSC Stores have partnered up to provide farmers with added value. On June 19 to July 2, all 37,000 OFA members will receive 15 per cent discounts on most regular-priced products when they show their 2009 OFA Member Card. “Our goal is to develop programs that offer compelling products and services targeted to the Ontario farming community,” says David Roussy, president and CEO of TSC Stores. To help prepare farmers, TSC has mailed mini catalogues to OFA members, promoting the savings available at its 40 locations across Ontario.

CanWel Adjusts Distributions


The CanWel Building Materials Income Fund announced it’s changing annual distributions to $0.50 per unit from $0.70 per unit, and declared a cash distribution of $0.04166 per trust unit for the period from June 1, 2009 to June 30, 2009. Amar Doman, Chairman of the Fund, says its board of trustees made the adjustment because of “the housing and construction market slowdown in Canada,” and that it’s now at a "responsible level" given “the current economic environment we are facing."

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June 24, 2009

Lowe’s Store Openings Focus On Canada

Lowe's Canada reached the 14 store mark in Canada with the opening of two stores in Scarborough, ON. Don Stallings, president of Lowe's Canada, reminded those in attendance at both stores that Lowe's Canada is a Canadian store which carries Canadian products and hires Canadians. He called its relationship with Lowe's in the U.S. as like the relationship between a "big brother and a little brother," where the big brother helps the little brother. He also said that while they only have 14 stores now, the plan is to eventually have 100 stores in Canada.

China To Spur Window & Door Demand

World demand for windows and doors is expected to grow 4.3 per cent per annum to $167 billion by 2013, says a study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. This rate of growth is roughly one-half the pace reached between 2003 and 2008 – a deceleration due mainly to projected declines in prices for plastic and metal windows and doors from higher 2008 levels. Although the weak Western European outlook for building construction is expected to hamper sales, demand in China will account for more than one-half of the expansion of the market between 2008 and 2013 – surpassing the U.S. as the largest market for windows and doors. The study predicts that plastic windows and doors will be the fastest growing through 2013. Plastic materials have benefited from their relatively low cost and reduced maintenance, but their insulating properties are expected to be one of the most important contributors to their growth.

Savoia Opens Toronto Showroom

Savoia Canada’s 4,500-square-foot showroom has opened in downtown Toronto’s furniture and design district, and features its entire GranitiFiandre line of porcelain surfaces from Italy including GeoStyle, Geologica, GeoTecnica, Xtra, and Granitech. The showroom is meant to offer architects, designers, and clients an inviting and collaborative environment to discuss residential and commercial projects. “The launch of Savoia Canada’s extensive showroom is one of GranitiFiandre’s most important global retail events…” said Graziano Verdi, chair and CEO, GranitiFiandre.

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June 23, 2009

Real Estate Investment To Continue

Despite the economic slowdown, rising investment in real estate is likely to continue in Canada, a Scotia Economics report notes. The report has found that the percentage of Canadian households who own their home rose to 68.4 per cent in 2006, which is up from 65.8 per cent in 2001 and 63.6 per cent in 1996. The report author and economist, Adrienne Warren, feels the rising rates reflect aging baby boomers entering their peak home-owning years, but also shows a greater number of younger Canadians are making the transition from renting to buying. Warren expects the trend to continue as real estate assets made up the largest component of total household assets in 2005, at 42 per cent, up from 38 per cent in 1999. Today, Scotia Economics estimates that this share is closer to 45 per cent today.

Court To Consolidate Chinese Drywall Cases

A pre trial conference has been set for July 9, 2009 at a New Orleans, Louisiana courthouse to consolidate 100,000 lawsuits of defective Chinese drywall. In what has become the largest construction defect case in the history of the United States, consolidating the cases will “allow for the more efficient and effective handling of these claims,” said Florida lawyer, Ervin A. Gonzalez. With 35,000 cases filed from Florida alone, the lawsuits claim defective drywall from China used to construct new homes across the U.S. is behind “off-gassing” causing noxious, “rotten egg-like” odors and corrosion of metals, along with homeowners experiencing headaches, sore throats, nose bleeds, and upper respiratory problems.

CertainTeed Launches Ceiling Webinars

CertainTeed announced it is sharing ceiling expertise through a series of webinars with architects, contractors, and distributors across the country. The 20 free webinars will focus on issues affecting ceiling design, appropriate ceiling product selection, and installation. They will cover a variety of topics, such as acoustics and sound control, cloud-style ceiling design, moisture management, sustainable designs, and more. CertainTeed will run the seminars through December 16, and is currently sending invitations to architects, specifiers, contractors, and distributors who work with the company’s ceiling products. For more information, contact CertainTeed Sales Support at 800-233-8990.

OSRAM Names President

Lighting manufacturer OSRAM SYLVANIA has named Rick Leaman as president and CEO. Effective Oct. 1, Leaman will succeed Charlie Jerabek, who will assume the role of vice chairman. Leaman will serve as chief executive for the company’s consumer lighting, professional lighting, and specialty lighting business units in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Prior to his new position, Leaman has been executive vice president and general manager of OSRAM's global Automotive Lighting division in Munich, Germany since 2006.

Retail Sales Down

Retail sales fell by 0.8 per cent in April to $33.5 billion, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in five of eight sectors, led by a 1.9 per cent decrease in the automotive sector and a 1 per cent drop in food and beverage stores – two sectors that make up close to 60 per cent of sales each month. Retail sales in volume terms fell 0.6 per cent, offsetting a rise in March. Furniture, home furnishings and electronics stores experienced their ninth consecutive monthly decline in April with a 0.8 per cent drop in sales. Sales in this sector have fallen 11.4 per cent since July 2008, which comes from lower sales volumes at furniture stores and home electronics and appliance stores.

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June 19, 2009

RONA Gives To Eco Building Centre

RONA will donate $750,000 to the construction of the Centre for Sustainable Development in Montreal, a non-profit demonstration facility focussed on ecological building. “This demonstration building will help make individuals and decision-makers more aware of the need to rethink our ways of building and renovating... " said RONA president and CEO, Robert Dutton. The donation to the Centre will be financed in part by the five-cent sales of plastic shopping bags, the first project financed by RONA through its new shopping bag policy.

Lowe’s Set For Grand Openings

Lowe’s is getting set to celebrate the launch of its newest Canadian stores in North Scarborough and West Scarborough, Ontario. Doors officially open to the public at both stores on June 23, featuring board-cutting ceremonies with Lowe’s Canada President, Don Stallings. Grand opening events will kick-off on June 26 with prize giveaways and vendor demonstrations. Both stores provide 117,000 square feet of retail sales space and represent an average $23 million investment in the respective communities.

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 June 18, 2009

Canadians Reveal Confusion About HRTC

A poll by Angus Reid Strategies has found that more than 80 per cent of Canadian homeowners admit they know little to nothing about the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) announced in the 2009 Federal Budget. The survey also found that 98 per cent of homeowners are unaware of the February 1, 2010 deadline for claiming their renovations. "There are all types of projects that qualify but Canadians seem to be confused about what they can actually claim," said Cleo Hamel, senior tax analyst, H&R Block Canada. Among other findings, the poll found that only 20 per cent understood that condo owners can apply their share of the cost of a renovation of the common areas in their building and 56 per cent didn't realize replacing windows in the cottage are eligible. When asked about what projects were covered, Albertans scored the highest, while more than half of Atlantic Canada homeowners scored less than 50 per cent.

Rate Of Economic Decline Slows

The rate of Canada's leading economic indicator slowed to 0.1 per cent in May, representing the smallest of nine consecutive declines says Statistics Canada. The change from the 0.9 per cent drop in April was the largest since December 1965 and reflects a 2.6 per cent increase in the unsmoothed index, its largest monthly gain in 30 years. The most major turnarounds occurred in the housing and stock markets, as the housing index shifted from a decline in April to a 1 per cent gain in May, and as the stock market increased by 3.2 per cent thanks to a rise in commodity prices and financial stocks. Manufacturing, however, continued to fall as shipments continued to drop faster than inventories of finished goods.

Small Business Doing Better Than Expected

Canadian small businesses are doing better than they expected in 2009, says the STAPLES Canada Small Business National Quarterly Index. The study, conducted by Angus Reid Strategies, found that 26 per cent of small business owners/executives in Q1 2009 expected to see an improvement in the next quarter, but in Q2 2009, 39 per cent reported improvement – a shift of 50 per cent.  As well, 74 per cent of respondents said that their business situation has held steady or improved slightly in the past three months, a 16 per cent increase compared to the 64 per cent in March 2009. And there are now more reporting at least improvement (39 per cent) than there are reporting a decline (26 per cent). Their view of the economy has improved too, as two in five are more confident about conditions in Canada than they were last quarter.

Sears Receives ENERGY STAR Award

Sears Canada Inc. has won the 2009 ENERGY STAR Retailer of the Year award for the second year in a row. Since the ENERGY STAR Market Transformation Awards were first presented in 2003, it has won three times. Natural Resources Canada recognized Sears for highlighting ENERGY STAR-qualified products in its weekly flyers; for collaborating with utilities and other partners to promote rebate offers available to customers; and for its support of the Ontario Power Authority's ‘Every Kilowatt Counts’ campaign. “Companies like Sears are advancing our economy by promoting and developing new energy-efficient technologies, which will improve Canada now and in the future," said Mark Warawa, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment.

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June 17, 2009

Home Hardware Launches Toyota Sweepstakes

Home Hardware announced its ‘Drive Home a Toyota Sweepstakes,’ which will give three lucky Canadians a fuel-efficient 2009 Toyota RAV4. The initiative is part of the two companies’ recently announced multi-year business relationship, making Toyota the official vehicle of Home Hardware and Home Hardware the official home improvement retailer of Toyota. Through this partnership, both companies will work together on marketing promotions, as each celebrate 45 years in business. “What better way to celebrate our 45th anniversary, then to show our appreciation to our customers with this exciting contest,” said Paul Straus, vice-President and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited.

Existing Home Sales Up

Sales of existing Canadian homes increased by eight per cent in May to 37,649 units, said the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). On a seasonally adjusted basis, the May sales are 43 per cent above the low point in January. CREA says the national average sale price in May reached the highest monthly level on record, at $319,757, up four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous record in May 2008. The rebound in activity is attributed to some of the most expensive local markets in Canada pushing the national average price upward. Although resales have been rising, fewer properties have been put on the market through the Multiple Listing Service run by CREA members. New listings fell to a seasonally adjusted 65,070 units in May, 19 per cent below the peak reached a year earlier and the lowest since December 2005.

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June 16, 2009

TIM-BR MART Dealer Gets Green Award

Marc Robichaud, of U.J. Robichaud TIM-BR MART in Meteghan Centre, NS, will receive the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) ‘Retail Innovator of the Year’ award in the ‘Green Marketing’ category. Robichaud is being recognized for an all-encompassing approach to his “eco-minded business,” from stocking his shelves with TIM-BR MART’s EcoChoice products, to store policies and practices, such as ‘no idling’ for the delivery fleet and using wood scraps as a heat energy source for on-site buildings. The NRHA’s awards honour outstanding achievements of owners and managers of independently owned hardware and building supply stores in both Canada and the U.S. Robichaud will receive the award at the NRHA’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas next month.

Ace Switches To Plastic Cans

As part of efforts to make paint cans and its contents recyclable, Ace Hardware will switch over to plastic paint cans for its latex paints. The new cans will soon arrive at its plants in Chicago and Matteson, Illinois – which together produce more than nine million gallons annually. The member-owned co-operative says it is also exploring other eco-friendly certification for select paint lines through a third-party organization.

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June 15, 2009

Vendors Appreciating Castle Expos

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. reports it has received a highly positive response from their vendor community about their Regional Buying Expos. The member-owned co-op says there’s much appreciation for the way it has “revolutionized” their trade shows, which matches members and vendors and guarantees selling opportunities in a tough marketplace. “In our third year of holding the Regional Buying Expos, we have had such an excellent response and support from the Vendor community that we have to limit the number of Vendor Participants.  They are at capacity for 2009!” said James Jones, vice president of National Marketing. Castle’s upcoming buying expos will be held in Saskatoon, SK; Huntsville, ON; and  St. John’s, NL.

Canadian Tire Opens Montreal DC

Canadian Tire will celebrate the grand opening of its new distribution centre in Coteau du Lac, Quebec on June 16, about 45 minutes outside of Montreal. The 1.5 million-square-foot facility will serve Canadian Tire stores in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, and will be operated by contract logistics company, GENCO. It currently has the capacity to process up to 55 million cubic feet of throughput and represents a $240 million investment in the community that will create 600 full-time and 300 part-time jobs.

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June 12, 2009

Roxul Launches Milton Facility

Roxul Inc. officially opened its 700,000 square-foot production facility in Milton, Ontario. The site represents a $150 million investment that is expected to create up to 100 new jobs and triple its production of environmentally friendly mineral wool insulation. Of all 23 facilities that the Denmark-based Rockwool operates around the world, the Milton site is among the most advanced with control technologies that will keep emissions below provincial limits, and which promises to deliver zero waste to landfills. Among those taking part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Roxul’s president Trent Ogilvie, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz. “Roxul’s new facility will create good paying green jobs, contribute to Ontario’s growth and increase energy efficiency across North America,” said Ogilvie.

Quebec Rewards RONA Eco Efforts

RONA inc. was recognized for its environmental initiatives at the Phénix (Phoenix) Awards Ceremony held at the National Assembly in Quebec City. Among 13 winners selected by an independent jury, RONA won in the ‘Large enterprise which has instituted a sustainable development program’ category, specifically for its introduction of the RONA ECO line of products and the ‘life cycle’ approach it’s taking. Introduced in 1998, the Phénix is among the most prestigious environmental competitions in Quebec. “This award is acknowledgement of the commitment our teams have shown in helping our customers adopt more environmentally responsible behaviour,” said Claude Bernier, RONA executive vice-president, marketing and customer innovation.

Wind System Available At Ace

Ace Hardware announced that the Honeywell Wind Turbine will be available at all of its stores in Fall 2009. The system is reported to have a higher performance output and lower installed cost per kilowatt than any other unit on the market and will be available for an MSRP of $4,500. Suitable for homes and business owners, the system will allow consumers to leverage wind as an energy source that can reduce the average home energy bill by 18 per cent.

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June 11, 2009

Home Depot Improves Outlook

The Home Depot Inc. raised its fiscal outlook for the year as the worst of the U.S. housing correction may be passing, said CEO Frank Blake, at the company’s latest analyst and investor conference. With private fixed residential investment now at 2.7 per cent compared to a 60-year mean of 4.8 per cent, the “worst of the correction” in the housing market has past, the company said. It also elevated its outlook thanks to improved customer service, merchandise assortment, lowered costs, and by capitalizing on the do-it-yourself trend, which has helped bolster sales. CFO Carol Tome, however, said it isn't "out of the woods" yet, as the end of the year will "remain challenging." The company still expects sales to drop by about nine per cent with comparable-store sales expected to fall by a high-single-digit percentage.

Lowe’s Upgrading Software

Lowe’s announced it is in the final stages of upgrading its Transportation & Logistics Management solutions from JDA Software, of Scottsdale, Ariz. The upgrade is meant to help support its developing import business. Already operational in the U.S., Southeast Asia, India, Israel, Europe, and South America, it will finish the rollouts of the solution in China. Through the technology, Lowe’s will be able to lower the time needed to complete bids for transportation services, deliver contract management, and maximize interaction with carriers.

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June 10, 2009

CSA Opens Solar Panel Lab

CSA International has opened a laboratory in Vancouver to assess solar panels and other alternative energy equipment. The global provider of product testing and certification for the U.S., Canada, and other countries, says its new solar photovoltaic laboratory will increase testing capacity for the growing market, which experienced 110 per cent growth in 2008. The facility features conditioning chambers that simulate extreme weather fluctuations and can test panels for leakage, water resistance, and scratch resistance.

CertainTeed Obtains Green Certification

CertainTeed Gypsum announced that it is the first to offer GREENGUARD-certified finishing compound and moisture-resistant gypsum board in both the U.S. and Canada. Its ProRoc Moisture and Mold Resistant Gypsum Board with M2Tech and ProRoc LITE Sand Setting Compounds achieved the certification. GREENGUARD Certified products are recommended by sustainable building programs, such as the Canada Green Building Council and U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED 2009 Rating System.

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June 9, 2009

Support For Government Stimulus Plan

The government of Canada released numbers that reflect an increase in home renovation activity, due to its ‘Economic Action Plan.’ According to the numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), since the beginning of April an average of more than 21,000 homeowners a month have had pre-retrofit energy evaluations completed, representing a growth of more than 75 per cent compared to April 2008. As well, the average grant paid to homeowners since April 1, 2009 has increased by almost $300 to more than $1,400; and more than 100,000 homeowners have received over $112 million in grants since the ecoENERGY Retrofit - Homes program began. The government’s action plan is meant to expand investments in funding for home retrofits and renovations, and, so far, “our Government is delivering results” said Mike Wallace, Member of Parliament (Burlington).

Associations Partner Up For Show

The Board of Directors of the Canadian Gift and Tableware Association (CGTA) have reached a long-term partnership with the Canadian Toy Association (CTA). The agreement will bring together the CTA’s annual toy show with CGTA’s twice-yearly trade show in January and August, and represents an infusion of retail buyers attending the events. Beginning January 2010, the annual CTA show will be hosted in Hall 6 at the International Centre, occupied by the CGTA Gift Show and covering more than one million square feet of exhibit space. “This is an important opportunity to give our members access to an increased traffic of qualified retail buyers,” said CTA chairman, Jeff Hurst. For more information, visit www.cgta.org/giftshow.asp.

Congress 2010 Announces Co-location

Landscape Ontario announced that the Canadian Fence Industry Association will return to host Fencecraft at the annual Congress 2010. Landscape Ontario also announced that the Ontario Parks Association will co-locate its annual Explorations trade show and education conference with Congress 2010. “Co-locating events is a strategic decision designed to expand existing business and to present opportunities for new business from allied professionals” said Paul Day, Congress 2010 show manager. The 38th Congress will take place January 12 to 14, 2010 at the Toronto Congress Centre. For more information, visit www.locongress.com.

Manulife Introduces Small Business Centre

Manulife Financial has launched an online Small Business Solutions centre to help advisors work more closely with small businesses. It aims to provide advisors with one-stop access to products and information to meet the financial needs of small business owners, including group and individual insurance, wealth management, banking, and group retirement solutions. Manulife's Small Business Solutions Centre can be found at www.winwithsmallbiz.ca.

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June 8, 2009

Recovery To Increase China Sourcing

Lowe’s announced it has opened export opportunities to 13 mainland China suppliers, as the U.S. housing market approaches a recovery. The decision was made through meetings at a recent Global Sources’ Custom Private Sourcing Event in Shanghai, which connects business with suppliers from Greater China. Global Sources' chairman and CEO, Merle A. Hinrichs, stated: "Existing home sales and new home sales in the U.S. have risen from their lows in January. While a recovery cannot be called yet, market data suggests the worst may be over and the stabilizing market has home retailers increasing their sourcing from China.”

Deere Appoints New CEO

Deere & Co. has named 55-year-old executive Samuel Allen as its new chairman and CEO – the ninth chief executive in its 172-year history – effective Aug. 1. The producer of John Deere lawn, landscaping, agricultural, forestry, and construction equipment says the change has been planned for 18 months. Allen has worked for the company for 34 years, most recently as president of the worldwide construction & forestry division

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June 5, 2009

Building Permits Down

Contractors took out $4.3 billion in building permits in April, a 5.4 per cent drop from March according to Statistics Canada. The value of residential permits rose 4.1 per cent to $2.3 billion, thanks to a rise in single-family permits in eight provinces, while the total value of intentions was down in Ontario, B.C., Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec. Non-residential permits were down 14.4 per cent in April to $2 billion, mainly due to lower commercial construction intentions in Ontario and lower institutional construction intentions in British Columbia. Municipalities issued $758 million worth of permits for multi-family dwellings in April, representing a drop of 8.2 per cent from March; and approved 10,663 new dwellings in April, down 5.8 per cent from March.

Ace Elects Board Members

Ace Hardware announced the re-election of James Hatcher III and Lori Terpstra to its board of directors, at the cooperative’s annual shareholders meeting. As well, Ace retailer Todd Steadman and John Costello were elected to their first terms on the board. Each will serve three-year terms on the board, to help set strategic policy and direction for Ace management. A total of 12 individuals comprise the Board, including nine retailers and three outside directors. 

Expo Partners With Master Gardeners

The Garden & Floral Expo announced its partnership with Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc. to host a series of presentations on gardening trends. Four Master Gardeners will be on-hand to present a series of topics to help retailers educate customers on valuable horticultural issues, such as going pesticide free and gardening with native plants and endangered herbs. The Garden & Floral Expo will take place October 20 and 21, 2009 at the Toronto Congress Centre. For more information, visit www.gardenexpo.ca

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June 4, 2009

Canadians Feeling More Confident

Overall consumer confidence in the Canadian economy has jumped to 78.5 for the period of February to June, the highest the index has been since February 2008, according to a Harris/Decima poll. In the U.S., the index also showed a strong jump from February, hitting 68.7. Pessimism also decreased in Canada, with 29 per cent anticipating bad times compared to 59 per cent in February. In terms of long-term outlooks, Canadians revealed optimism with 51 per cent seeing good times ahead in the next five years, compared to 39 per cent in February. Canadians were more optimistic about major purchases too, with 49 per cent believing it is a good time to make a major purchase, while 34 per cent feel it is a bad time. February’s opinion was more divided with participants split 41 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.

Canadian Tire Design Awarded

Canadian Tire has won the Retail Council of Canada's 2009 Excellence in Retailing Award for 'Retail Store Design for a Large Chain,' for its new Smart Store design concept. The new store format, meant to enhance operating productivity while creating a better shopping experience, beat out 12 other company submissions. The Smart Stores boast new presentation formats, a combination of improved category adjacencies, in-store boutiques, and additional customer service desks and information kiosks. Canadian Tire currently has five Smart Stores operating in Gravenhurst, Hamilton, Orleans, Sarnia and Welland, Ontario.

RONA Adds Private-Label Tools

RONA unveiled a total of 16 new products for its HAUSSMANN and HAUSSMANN XPERT lines, the company’s own brand of tools. Now available exclusively across its network of stores, the tools are geared towards professionals as well as serious do-it-yourselfers, “who look for the latest technology in terms of tools and related accessories,” said Normand Dumont, RONA executive vice-president, merchandising.

Williams-Sonoma Posts 1Q Drop

First-quarter sales for Williams-Sonoma dropped 21.8 per cent to $621 million, down from $782 million in the same period last year. Retail sales also fell 17.6 per cent to $358 million, from $434 million last year. Net loss was $18.7 million compared to net income of $10.4 million in the first quarter last year. “While the home furnishings sector continued to be under significant pressure in the first quarter, we focused on the aspects of the business we could control and delivered substantially better-than-expected earnings results,” CEO Howard Lester said. Lester says it did see revenue stabilize within its range of guidance, and that it was able to enhance profitability by reducing advertising expenses and optimizing promotional activity.

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June 3, 2009

Henkel Sells Brands

Henkel Corporation has sold its businesses conducted under the Duck®, Painter’s Mate Green®, and Easy Liner® brands in the U.S. and Canada to Shurtape Technologies, LLC. Based in Hickory, North Carolina, Shurtape has been a long-time supplier to Henkel. “This sale fits our strategic direction, which is to focus on our core adhesives businesses,” said Julian Colquitt, president of Henkel Adhesive Technologies, North America. “We’re proud of the achievements of these brands and the dedicated employees who have worked hard to make them successful.”

RONA Closes Equity Issue

RONA inc. has closed its previously announced bought deal public offering of Common Shares at a price of $12.90 per share purchased by a syndicate of underwriters led by Scotia Capital Inc. The offering represents a total of 11,630,000 shares being issued for gross proceeds of $150,027,000. The underwriters maintain an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 1,744,500 shares at $12.90 per share and if exercised in full, the total gross proceeds to RONA will be $172,531,050. The company says the equity issue will further strengthen its balance sheet and increase its financial flexibility.

Canadian Tire Completes Public Offering

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has completed its public offering of $200 million in seven-year Medium Term Notes (MTN's), which carry a coupon rate of 5.65 per cent and have a maturity date of June 1, 2016. The MTN's are rated 'BBB+' by Standard and Poor's Rating Services and 'A (low)' by Dominion Bond Rating Service Limited. "Strong market interest and attractive rates in this offering indicate continued investor confidence in Canadian Tire," said Huw Thomas, chief financial officer.

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June 2, 2009

Ontario Nature Recognizes RONA

RONA has received the Ontario Nature Corporate Award -- given to a corporation that demonstrates outstanding leadership in the environmental field and tries to protect the environment through policies or undertakings that stimulate environmental actions. Specifically, the award recognized RONA’s development of a strong procurement policy for the wood products sold in its hardware and renovation stores. “RONA’s innovative wood procurement initiatives will have a direct impact on the health of Canada’s vital boreal forest, which is home to billions of songbirds and provincially threatened species such as the woodland caribou,” said Caroline Schultz, executive director of Ontario Nature.

Water Heater Companies Join Coalition

Four leading water heater manufacturers – Bradford White Water Heaters, Rheem Water Heating, Rinnai America Corporation, and A. O. Smith Water Heaters – have joined the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) to become part of the Coalition for ENERGY STAR Water Heaters. The CEE formed the coalition to increase awareness of ENERGY STAR water heaters. It’s made up of industry associations, efficiency program administrators, and water heater manufacturers who are among those offering a variety of ENERGY STAR models.

RONA Plastic Bag Policy Begins

RONA inc.’s new plastic bag policy has taken effect, which means customers will now have to pay five cents for each single-use plastic bag. After providing about 30 million plastic bags in 2008, RONA wants to reduce that number by 70 per cent by the end of 2011, and will encourage the use of reusable shopping bags among customers.

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June 1, 2009

Home Sales Up

April newly built home sales were flat in April, reports the U.S. Commerce Department, but were seven per cent above the lows of January. The numbers suggest the battered U.S. real estate market may be in the midst of a gradual recovery. Sales rose 0.3 per cent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000. The median U.S. sales price fell to $209,700, down almost 15 per cent from a year earlier, but up nearly four per cent from March. However, prices will likely remain weak for months as builders attempt to price their stock of unsold homes against bargain-priced foreclosures.

ENERGY STAR Recognizes JELD-WEN

JELD-WEN has won the 2009 ‘Participant of the Year’ award by the ENERGY STAR initiative in Canada. The award is given to the company that demonstrates the best overall compliance with ENERGY STAR specifications in its product manufacturing, distribution, and marketing in Canada. Sante Cigana, vice-president, JELD-WEN of Canada, received a framed certificate at a ceremony in Ottawa. “JELD-WEN will continue to invest time and expertise to ensure its operations are state-of-the-art and to stay at the leading edge of energy efficiency standards,” said Brad West, marketing manager for JELD-WEN Canada.

Lowe’s Continues Customer Focus

At Lowe’s Companies, Inc. annual meeting of shareholders, CEO Robert A. Niblock outlined a plan to continue to focus on customers despite economic pressures. He informed shareholders it is managing through short-term challenges while keeping an eye on longer-term opportunities – a balance that’s key to company success. He thanked its 228,000 employees for their dedication in driving sales and delivering customer service. The board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.09 per share, an increase of 5.9 percent. Lowe's has paid a cash dividend each quarter since going public in 1961.

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