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

News

December 23, 2009

Retail Sales Edge Up

Statistics Canada reports that retail sales increased 0.8 per cent in October to $35.3 billion, the eighth gain in 10 months. Not including the automotive sector, sales decreased 0.2 per cent. In volume terms, retail sales grew 0.6 per cent in October and has returned to a level last observed before the sharp declines in the last two months of 2008. Building and outdoor home supplies stores sales rose 1.2 per cent, led by sales at home centres and hardware stores (+1.8 per cent). Sales for these stores have been following an upward trend since the beginning of 2009. Sales at general merchandisers edged up 0.2 per cent in October after a strong increase in September. And all components of the automotive sector (+3.0 per cent) reported higher sales in October. The largest increase outside the automotive sector was at clothing and accessories stores, where sales advanced 1.9 per cent, the biggest gain since January 2009.

Canadians Cautious Heading Into New Year

Over half of Canadians plan on ridding themselves of debt in 2010, according to a poll conducted on behalf of Edward Jones Canada. Based on a survey of 1,009 adults in December, 2009 by Harris/Decima, more than 1-in-3 say their top financial New Year's resolution is to pay down their debt and another 1-in-10 want to pay down their mortgage faster. In addition to the 48 per cent paying down debt, another 16 per cent are building themselves a cash reserve for a rainy, or stormy, day by resolving to put money into an emergency fund. "The tough economic times are bringing out the best in Canadian caution," says Mary Chan, a principal and certified financial planner at Edward Jones.

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December 22, 2009

Consumer Confidence Climbs

Consumer confidence rose by 3.7 percentage points in December to 82.8 (2002 = 100), according to the Conference Board of Canada's Index of Consumer Confidence-December 2009. The increase, based on a survey of 2,000 Canadians, comes following two consecutive monthly declines. "These results indicate that Canadians still have mixed views on the strength of the economic recovery," said Pedro Antunes, director, national and provincial forecast. Results were mixed depending on the region of the country and on the question asked. Atlantic Canada had the biggest regional gain, climbing 10.8 points, while Ontario also saw a significant increase of 7.5 points. Confidence in the Prairie region increased for a fifth consecutive month, leaving Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta as the most optimistic provinces in Canada. The indexes in B.C. and Quebec fell by a marginal amount in each province.

GTA New Home Sales Soar

Sales of new homes and condos in the Greater Toronto Area jumped 156 per cent in November 2009, according to the Building Industry & Land Development Association (BILD). The monthly data from RealNet Canada Inc. shows gains across-the-board with sales of low-rise (single-detached, semi-detached, townhomes) homes up 186 per cent and sales of high-rise condominium suites up 134 per cent. "We're running out of superlatives to describe the market of late," said BILD President and CEO Stephen Dupuis. "The low-rise market began its ascent in the late spring while the high-rise market has been exceptionally strong the last three months. On a year-to-date basis, total sales are running 13 per cent ahead of 2008 with one month of data yet to come, defying all expert predictions." Interest rates are clearly among the reasons for the market’s resurgence, but BILD also notes that the initial recovery was stimulated by builders aggressively discounting inventory.

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December 21, 2009

Household Spending Up In '08

Each Canadian household on average spent $71,360 in 2008, up two per cent from 2007, says Statistics Canada – slightly below the rate of inflation of 2.3 per cent as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Households in Alberta reported $86,910, the highest average spending, followed by those in Ontario where average spending was to $77,310. The largest increase in average spending per household was in Saskatchewan, where it rose 6.8 per cent to $68,280. Households in Newfoundland and Labrador reported the lowest average spending ($57,710), up 4.9 per cent over 2007, which was above the national average of two per cent. Personal taxes accounted for 20.5 per cent of the average household's budget in 2008, while shelter represented 19.9 per cent, transportation 13.6 per cent, and food 10.4 per cent. These shares changed only slightly from 2007.

Men Last-Minute Shoppers

Almost half of Canadian men confessed to leaving their holiday shopping to the last minute every year, says a recent Leger Marketing survey commissioned by Future Shop. Nationwide, more than one-third of Canadians admitted to shopping in the four days leading to December 25, even though almost 60 per cent of Canadians believe last-minute shopping results in a "less-desirable" gift. While the majority (58 per cent) of Canadians believe the best sales are yet to come on Boxing Day, almost half of Canadians (47 per cent) say they’ve already taken advantage of the sales to date.

House Flip Experience Online

A new interactive online game allows anyone to “experience the thrill of a house flip without any of the risk,” says Shockwave.com. The casual online gaming destination says ‘House Flip’ gives players the chance to browse listings, purchase and inspect a house, and then clean, repair, or upgrade sections through mini renovation games. Link: http://www.shockwave.com

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December 18, 2009

Wood Industry On The Mend

Canada's wood products industry is expected to return to the black in 2010, says the Conference Board's ‘Canadian Industrial Outlook - Canada's Wood Products Industry - Autumn 2009.’ After 13 consecutive quarters of production declines, the industry experienced growth in the third quarter of 2009. In 2010, production is expected to increase by almost 10 per cent."Housing starts in both the U.S. and Canada are improving, which is increasing demand for Canadian wood products. The revival of the U.S. and Canadian housing markets will provide a major boost to the industry," said Michael Burt, associate director, Canadian Industrial Outlook. The industry is expected to lose over $250 million this year and will shed 9,400 jobs, bringing total job losses since 2005 to 66,500. However, cost-cutting measures this year will help wood producers post a profit of over $660 million in 2010. The adoption of the harmonized sales tax (HST) in B.C. and Ontario should also help improve competitiveness, as wood producers will no longer have to pay taxes for production inputs such as equipment and materials, reducing industry costs and allowing them to invest in new technologies.

Can-Save Expo Announced

Can-Save announced its 19th Annual Summer Buying Expo will be held June 3rd 2010, at the Barrie Molson Centre in Central Ontario.The Expo offers a ‘one-day-only’ manufacturer-supported buying opportunity, along with seminars and other learning events. Entertainment, dinner, and a live concert is also planned (TBA). For more information, visit http://www.can-save.ca.

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December 17, 2009

Home Reno Tax Credit Implemented

The Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC), as well as other measures proposed last February in the 2009 federal budget, have received Royal Assent and are officially implemented. Finance Minister Jim Flahery commented on the now legislated HRTC, which expires February 2010: “Many homeowners have already taken advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit to improve and invest in the long-term value of their homes. The passage of this bill means that they can enjoy the holidays secure in the knowledge that they will receive the tax credit come income tax time.” In addition, Bill C-51 also implements the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit and enhances the benefits provided under the Working Income Tax Benefit.

WRLA Announces Show Speakers

The Western Retail Lumber Association Inc. (WRLA) announced the speakers for its Leaders Forum Breakfast at the upcoming 2010 Prairie Showcase Buying Show and Convention. The forum speakers include Susan Robinson of IRLY, Robert Dutton of RONA, Ken Jenkins of Castle Building Centres, Steve Buckle of the Sexton Group, Lance Shipley of Home Hardware, and Tim Urquhart of TIM-BR Marts Ltd. Richard Simms, owner of Black Eagle Executive Search, will moderate the seminars. The Breakfast is open to all registered delegates at the Prairie Showcase and will take place Friday, January 22 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Prairieland Park, Hall B. For more information, visit www.wrla.org.

RONA Fab Shop Trainees Graduate

RONA inc. says the fourth and final group of trainees is officially graduating from its trades training program at the RONA Vancouver 2010 Fabrication Shop. The program is meant to equip these sixteen trainees – all of them recent immigrants to Canada – with the skills needed to seek and retain employment in their families’ adopted country. The carpentry training and work experience program at the Fab Shop was established two years ago. It stems from a collaboration between RONA, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), and community organizations. More than 60 trainees have now gone through the program, which is taught by a Red Seal-certified carpentry instructor and three supervising carpenters. The current group of trainees was referred to RONA by the BC Construction Association’s immigrant trades training program and Tradeworks Training Society.

Owens Corning Ups Recycled Content

Owens Corning has added 10 per cent recycled content to its residential and commercial insulation in Canada, giving these products at least 70 per cent recycled glass content – the highest recycled content for fiberglass insulation in Canada, the company says. “We are pleased to report that Owens Corning PINK Fiberglas insulation products have reached still another environmental milestone,” says David Flood of Owens Corning. The company also reports it is working closely with the recycling industry to prevent recyclable waste from going to landfills.

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 December 16, 2009

Dutton Discusses Succession Challenges

“Change puts us in a perpetual state of discomfort,” said Robert Dutton, president and CEO of RONA Inc., but it is a challenge all retailers have to own and deal with effectively. Dutton spoke at the latest Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association’s (CHHMA) breakfast meeting, about how markets, consumers, and dealer/owners are currently changing, and how RONA is responding. As the majority of the population ages, succession planning is a big concern for the company. Dutton discussed what came out of its recent summer camp, which gathered young RONA employees to explore the stores of tomorrow. More than ever, these young entrepreneurs are considering store ownership, and choosing to be a part of their family businesses, he explained. These up-and-coming store owners are “creative,” “enthusiastic,” and “crave challenges.” So be assured, Dutton said, “that owner-operated stores are not dying.”

CanWel-Broadleaf Deal To Drive Business

CanWel Chairman Amar Doman told Home Improvement Retailing that working out the acquisition deal of the Broadleaf Logistics Company has been a long process – about eight months – “but at the end of the day I believe it’s a great transaction for all parties involved.” The deal, announced Dec. 8, is projected to close by Jan. 2010. Doman says he’s most excited by how the acquisition will broaden product lines and add more value to the customer base in Canada. “Of course, distribution is all about scale and adding approximately $600 million in buying power to our basket of goods we buy already, will allow us to drive efficiencies and deliver those efficiencies to our customer base.” With customers and suppliers consolidating, he says it makes sense for the distribution space to consolidate as well. “We’re the consolidator of the distribution space … and frankly we believe that our space needed to be consolidated as most distributors operate at under 50 per cent capacity, so it only makes sense that these businesses come together and we drive efficiencies so that we can survive long term.”

Can-Cell Named Price Pfister Distributor

Kitchen and bath fixtures manufacturer, Price Pfister, named Can-Cell Industries Inc. its newest distributor. As a result, Price Pfister products will now be available at Can-Cell Industries Inc. branches across the country. “We’re extremely excited to have Can-Cell Industries as a new distributor and we are looking forward to developing our new business relationship together,” said Mark Wallace, Canadian marketing manager, Price Pfister. “Can-Cell’s distribution reaches across central, western and northern Canada, and allows our products to be readily accessible to our current and prospective customers.”

Leading Indicators Up In November

November’s composite leading index grew by 1.3 per cent, the largest of its six straight increases, says Statistics Canada. Household demand was a main contributor to the increase, while the recovery in the U.S. gave a boost to manufacturing in Canada. The housing index rose 2.5 per cent – its seventh straight gain – and housing starts continued to recover. Consumer demand for furniture and appliances and other durable goods both grew faster than the month before. In response to the gradual upturn in export demand, manufacturing in Canada also continued to improve as new orders rose for the second time in four months. The ratio of shipments to inventories increased for the fourth consecutive month, with an upturn in shipments reinforcing a steady decline in inventories.

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December 15, 2009

‘Green’ Paint Popular In Winter

Olympic Paints and Stains reports that eco-friendly, environmentally preferred products used around the home represent a substantially growing category. A big reason behind this consumer desire has to do with many Canadians’ struggles with sensitive allergies and having young infants and children in the home. The company says the success of its Olympic Premium Interior Paints is a reflection of this trend towards ensuring proper indoor air quality – especially in the winter – as it dries without any lingering odour and contain zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “Painting is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to redesign a home, yet the colder months used to make painting in your home unpleasant due to paint odour.”  Its Zero-VOC paints can be applied “any time of the year without having to open windows or leave the home,” said Misty Walker, marketing manager, Olympic Paint. 

Hilti Site Goes Live

Hilti says its newly renovated website (www.ca.hilti.com) features “a fresh, user-friendly design, bringing modern, faster, and easier online shopping to construction professionals.” The site went live Dec. 14, 2009, following nearly two years of development, with input from 20,000 customers worldwide, the professional tool manufacturer said. “We are excited to launch the renovated Hilti Online for our customers and believe they will find it even more valuable than before,” said Western Hemisphere President and CEO Cary Evert.

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December 14, 2009

Homebuilders Recognize Partners

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced this year's Associate Awards recipients, handed out at its Annual General Meeting at the end of each year. These awards recognize companies highly rated by their homebuilder clients for quality and service as partners in the building process. The ‘Service/Professional of the Year’ award went to Colours & Concepts for their outstanding work helping builders through the sale of upgrades since 1994. The ‘2009 Trade Contractor of the Year’ award was given to Eurowood Carpentry 2000 Inc., one of the largest independent framing contractors servicing residential builders and commercial clients in the GTA for over 20 years. And the ‘Manufacturer / Supplier of the Year’ was awarded to Olympia Tile & Stone, which has been in business for over 50 years and currently employs over 900 while occupying a total of more than 3.5 million square feet of warehousing.

Partners Join IRLY

IRLY Distributors Ltd. announced that two new partners have joined Fletcher Building Supplies in Delta, B.C. Effective immediately, Faizal Alimohamed and Peter Confortin have joined the team. The two hope to help grow the business and intend on actively pursuing contractor and other significant business in the Ladner and Tsawwassen, B.C. communities. 

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December 11, 2009

Housing Starts Climb

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts reached 158,500 units in November, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) – marking a rise from 157,400 in October and the highest level of the year. “Despite a small decline in November’s multiple home construction, overall starts numbers were up due to a solid increase in singles starts,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. Urban starts increased by 0.7 per cent to 141,100 units in November, while urban multiple starts decreased from 72,500 units in October to 71,300 units in November. Single urban starts increased by 3.4 per cent to 69,800 units in November. Regionally, urban starts increased by 10 per cent in Quebec, by 8.2 per cent in the Prairies, and by 6.2 per cent in B.C. The rate of urban starts decreased by 8.3 per cent in Ontario and by 9.8 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,400 units in November.

Retail Fraud Loss Uncovered

About 57 per cent of retail establishments experienced some type of fraudulent activity in 2007/2008, says Statistics Canada. Out of those, a large majority (89 per cent) of fraud-related losses did not exceed $20,000. The most common type of fraud among retailers was ‘return fraud,’ which refers to the return of stolen merchandise or merchandise using counterfeit receipts to obtain a monetary refund. Credit card fraud and the use of counterfeit money were the next most frequently reported type of fraud against retail establishments, with each accounting for 15 per cent of retail fraud. When retailers detected fraud, nearly half (47 per cent) of retail business establishments never, or rarely, contacted police, suggesting that fraud is under-reported and often too minor to involve police.

Lowe’s Launches Energy Centers

Lowe’s is launching ‘Energy Centers’ in 21 of its California stores, meant to be a one-stop destination to create an energy efficiency plan for customers’ homes. The Energy Centers will cover three ways for customers to save energy – it will help them measure how much energy they use or lose with power monitors and other devices, it will help reduce energy consumption through producs such as CFLs, and will present ways to generate and use renewable energy through technology such as solar power. An information kiosk will offer touch-screen displays to help customers evaluate energy needs, and will features the Energy Center products that offer alternative energy solutions. 

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December 10, 2009

Lowe’s Canada Expanding Westward

Lowe's Companies Canada says it plans to continue its growth in the Canadian marketplace by expanding into Western Canada in the company's fiscal 2010. Lowe's plans to open three stores in the Calgary region – one at CrossIron Mills in the County of Rocky View, one in the Shepard Industrial Area/McKenzie Town, and one located in the Sunridge Industrial Area. It also plans to expand into Edmonton, B.C., and Saskatchewan in future years. "Lowe's has been warmly welcomed by Canadian consumers over the past two years, and our research shows that our innovative products and passion for superior customer service will appeal to home improvement enthusiasts across Western Canada, as well," said Alan Huggins, president, Lowe's Canada. The Mooresville, N.C.-based company first opened Canadian stores in December 2007 and now operates 15 stores in Ontario. Its Canadian headquarters in Toronto opened in 2006 and now has more than 2,300 employees in Canadian office and stores.

Canadians Delay Holiday Shopping

Canadians still have one-half (51 per cent) of their holiday shopping left to accomplish –good news for retailers dealing with disappointing sales numbers so far, says an annual study from Maritz Research Canada. Its 2009 Canadian Holiday Shopping Poll found that 43 per cent of Canadians have delayed at least some of their shopping this year in anticipation of lower prices and bigger sales. As well, men (58 per cent), Canadians under 35 years of age (57 per cent), and Quebecers (57 per cent) still have more than half of their holiday shopping to complete. While Zellers and Canadian Tire tie for second behind Walmart in the top location to shop, respondents prefer the shopping experience at Costco and Toys 'R' Us. When it comes to why consumers remain loyal to certain retailers, Canadians rank sales and discounts, level of customer service, availability of staff, and hours of operation as the top four influencers. What keeps customers away? Crowds (34 per cent) and long line-ups (17 per cent) are the most often cited negative holiday shopping experiences.

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December 9, 2009

OSRAM Recognizes LED Excellence

OSRAM SYLVANIA announced the winners of The NEXT ICON OSRAM LED Design Challenge, a competition recognizing excellence in LED design solutions. The challenge was an invitation to Canadian manufacturers to design viable solutions utilizing LED components and technology supplied by OSRAM. Winners were awarded as Partners in three categories. The Gold Partner was awarded to Toronto-based Zaneen with their SOL wall fixture that uses only 1 watt of energy by utilizing the OSRAM HF2X LED. The Silver Partner is Illumineer, Toronto, with a magnetic voltage connector called Falkor that can swivel 360 degrees yet maintains a secure electrical connection, and incorporates the OSRAM DRAGONStick LED. And the Bronze Partner is TMS Lighting, Brampton, ON, with their Winston entry, a wall-mounted outdoor fixture featuring the OSRAM DLM 800 for both uplighting and downlighting. The fixture prototypes were exhibited to members of the design, specification, and lighting industry at the recent Light Canada Expo at the IIDEX design show in Toronto.

RONA, MLSE Refurbish Rink

RONA Inc.,Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), in collaboration with Toronto’s Parks, Forestry & Recreation, unveiled a newly refurbished Ramsden Park Rink in Toronto. The rink marks the 10th completed project as part of the MLSE Team Up Foundation Hockey Rink Legacy Program. To recognize the accomplishment, the Toronto Maple Leafs held their practice at Ramsden Park Rink. Joining them were hundreds of Leafs fans from the community and 200 students from Jesse Ketchum Public School and Brown Junior Public School. RONA’s executive vice-president, marketing & customer innovations, Claude Bernier, joined Leafs players, Head Coach Ron Wilson, and Toronto Mayor David Miller for a special on-ice ceremony prior to the start of practice. The MLSE Team Up Foundation with the support of RONA invested more than $235,000 in upgrades and improvements to the Ramsden Park Rink, including replacing dasherboards, adding new doors, windows, storage, matting, benches, and landscaping elements. Employees from RONA and MLSE contributed 320 volunteer hours towards the refurbishment.

Optimistic Blue Tones To Dominate

Canadian paint brand, CIL Paints, predicts blue will be the “hottest” colour in the 2010 palette. In particular, airy light blue will top the list of hot colours for the year ahead, says Jennifer Jones, marketing communications manager of CIL Paints. The new blue is an optimistic colour, “a feel-good tone that’s reflective of new beginnings, of dark skies lifting in the wake of challenging economic and political times, and our collective moods lightening up.” To bring added life to a room, CIL recommends combining the new blues with crimson, burgundy, plum, pewter, or gold. Other feel-good tones will be prevalent as well, according to CIL, such as glowing acidic shades of green; saturated, vibrant reds; warm orange tones, radiating rich earthy copper browns; honey mustard, banana, and citrus shades of yellow; warm and cool neutrals; and violets.

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December 8, 2009

CanWel To Acquire Broadleaf

The CanWel Building Materials Income Fund announced plans to acquire the Broadleaf Logistics Company, in a cash, stock, and debt transaction. Meant to boost its product lines, CanWel says it plans to raise $50 million by selling subscription receipts through the deal. The fund will be converted from an income trust into a dividend-paying corporation called CanWel Holdings Corporation, and will pay $20 million in cash and 10.25 million shares of the new company to buy Broadleaf from owner Rudy Holding II S.A R.L. “The combination of our two companies will add significant value to our customers. We will be integrating the Broadleaf business with our building materials division, the new CanWel-Broadleaf division,” said Amar Doman, the Fund’s Chairman “The breadth of the product lines that the combined company will offer is unmatched in Canada.  We are also very fortunate to have high quality employees from Broadleaf join us at CanWel as we build what we believe will be a very exciting company…I am very excited by these transactions, which I believe places CanWel-Broadleaf in a very strong position to take advantage of the anticipated recovery in housing and the market for lumber building materials.” On a pro forma basis, the combined business would have generated revenues of approximately $1.5 billion and $940 million for the year ended December 31, 2008 and the nine-months ended September 30, 2009, respectively.

BMR Honours Owners

BMR Le Groupe awarded its ‘Prix Fierté 2009’ to Connie and Jean-Guy Lasalle, owners of the centres de rénovation Matériaux JLS, in Fort-Coulonge and Bryson, QC. The award – given out at its BMR November-show gala – is presented to dealers who have distinguished themselves through achievements and involvement within the group. BMR says the award was bestowed on the couple, who joined the banner in 2001, because of its “welcoming shopping environment,” and for “quality service and excellent advice.” After commending their families, the owners extended thanks to BMR Le Groupe. "What we have achieved is thanks to a unique and unparalleled partnership."

Depot To Launch Stewart Lines

The Home Depot Inc. will begin selling Martha Stewart-branded paint and cleaning products next year. The company says it will sell Martha Stewart cleaning products in January, with the home decor and closet organization lines to follow. The Martha Stewart paints will replace Home Depot's line of Ralph Lauren paint in March. Netherlands-based AkzoNobel will produce the paints, while Martha Stewart cleaning products will be manufactured by the Hain Celestial Group Inc., based in Melville, N.Y. Home Depot said other Martha Stewart product lines now in development will follow.

Building Permit Value Improves

The value of building permits increased 18 per cent in October to $6.1 billion, due mainly to gains in the value of non-residential permits and in construction intentions for single-family dwellings, says Statistics Canada. The value of permits was up for a third consecutive month in the residential sector, as intentions climbed 3.8 per cent to $3.4 billion. Ontario and Quebec accounted for much of the growth seen at the national level. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued permits worth $2.7 billion, up 42.4 per cent following a 9.2 per cent drop in September. The total value of building permits increased in six provinces, led by Alberta and Ontario. Municipalities issued building permits worth $48.3 billion between January and October, 20.8 per cent less than in the same period in 2008.

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December 7, 2009

Richelieu Acquires Distributors

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. has acquired Paint Direct (Calgary, AB), a distributor of finishing products, stains, lacquers, and other products – bringing Richelieu's Canadian network to 30 distribution centres. It also acquired Woodland Specialties (Syracuse, New York), a distributor of hardware products, high-pressure laminates, finishing products and other complementary products. The move allows Richelieu to penetrate a new geographic market and increase its U.S. distribution network to 18 centres. The two recently closed acquisitions will add annual sales of approximately $6 million to Richelieu's revenues and contribute immediately to its earnings.

RONA Receives Boreal Award

RONA Inc. was honoured for its wood products procurement policy at a recent Boreal Awards ceremony held by the Canadian Boreal Initiative in Ottawa. RONA was one of six winners selected by a committee of the Boreal Leadership Council, which is made up of conservation groups, Aboriginal organizations, and businesses making efforts to preserve the boreal forest. “RONA is well aware of the role we can play in preserving nature and protecting the longevity of our natural resources, and we believe we can help Canadian consumers adopt responsible consumption habits as well,” said Normand Dumont, RONA executive vice-president of merchandising.

Consumer Confidence Steady

The overall measure of consumer confidence remained relatively unchanged since August and now sits at 85.5 according to the latest Harris/Decima-Investor's Group Measure of Consumer Confidence. The study found that among the 40 per cent of Canadians who expect their financial circumstances to change over the next year, those who expect improvement outnumber those who expect decline by about three to one. In addition, a majority of Canadians believe there will be good times financially for the economy in the next five years. Canadians remain much more confident than Americans, as U.S. overall confidence stood at 67.4, a slight increase from the 65.7 recorded in August. As well, a majority of Canadians (52 per cent) believe that now is a good time to make a major purchase. One in three (32 per cent) believe it is a bad time to make such a purchase – almost identical numbers to the 52 per cent-33 per cent split in August.

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December 4, 2009

RONA Honours Best Stores

RONA Inc. gave out awards to its affiliate dealer-owners and to corporate stores across Canada, at ceremonies during its 2010 Spring Show in Montreal. RONA’s 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards went to RONA Sonnenburg Building Centre, Spanish, ON (owner Chad Sonnenburg); RONA Home Centre, Grande Prairie, AB (owners John and Jas Nagra); RONA Mont-Laurier and L’Annonciation, QB (owner Éric Deslongchamps). The 2009 Builder of Excellence awards – given to the 10 stores with the best performance in the corporate store network – went to RONA Home & Garden, Scarborough, ON (managed by Danny Tse); RONA Lansing, Dundas, ON (managed by Jack McKinnon); and Chester Dawe Torbay Road, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, (managed by Walter Maloney); RONA Home & Garden, Winnipeg East, MB (managed by Tammy Kondryshyn); RONA Home Centre, Coquitlam, B.C. (managed by Tony Cunningham); TOTEM Edmonton Trail, Calgary AB (managed by Jason Voytechek); Réno-Dépôt, Quebec City (managed by Steve Léger); RONA Le Rénovateur, Thetford Mines (managed by Stéphane Després); RONA L’entrepôt Saint-Bruno (managed by Francis Létourneau); RONA Le Régional, Longueuil (managed by France Mercier).

Leons Shares Urban Strategy

When it comes to urban landscapes, retailers must think outside the box and tailor their designs to the local neighborhood, explained Rod Fortune, national real estate manager, Leons. Fortune introduced the company’s new urban retail format at the recent International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Next Generation Reception. He outlined how Leons went about fitting its big-box format into the 40,000 square-foot historic John Street Roundhouse building in downtown Toronto. The building – a preserved locomotive roundhouse built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1929 – is now Leons’ flagship store, but the company was committed to not altering its historic prestige and “did not want to take away from the natural beauty of the building,” said Fortune. Rather than transform the building to fit Leons’ typical furniture-store set-up, it adapted to the elements of the building by, for example, keeping colours and branding in-sync with the surroundings, having concrete polished floors instead of carpet, and respecting the building’s natural light.

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December 3, 2009

Canadian Tire Unveils $1 Coin

Mike Arnett, president of Canadian Tire Retail, unveiled the first-ever limited edition Canadian Tire "Money" coin, manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint, at an event held at a Toronto store. The $1 coin will be offered in addition to Canadian Tire "Money" rewards to customers who spend $25 or more at a Canadian Tire stores on December 5th and 6th. "Over the years the high-valued program has evolved to include electronic ‘Money’ on Canadian Tire branded credit cards, as well as the addition of special promotions which now includes this limited edition $1 Canadian Tire coin,” said Arnett. When asked whether coins would one day replace its paper-money format, Arnett says “Canadians love the paper money,” and that there are no plans to replace it. The coin rollout is meant to re-ignite its loyalty program, he said, which it plans to improve to make it easy to tailor rewards to each customer. According to customer feedback, the new program will soon be built around three top elements: it will be simple to understand and simple to redeem, accessible to everyone, and meaningful to each individual customer. While research and development is still underway, the Company plans to pilot the new loyalty program at the end of 2010.

Richelieu Hardware To Purchase Shares

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. announced that the Toronto Stock Exchange accepted its notice of intention to make a "normal course issuer bid" to purchase up to 1,088,987 common shares, representing five per cent of the 21,779,759 outstanding common shares as at November 27, 2009. The Board of Directors of Richelieu has concluded that the purchase of 1,088,987 common shares represents an appropriate use of the Company's corporate funds.

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December 2, 2009

Home Hardware Presents Donation

Home Hardware recently presented $128,000 as a charitable donation to Ted Garrard, president and CEO of the SickKids Foundation. The funds were raised through sales of Home Hardware’s 2010 Charity calendar, available at more than 1,000 Home stores across Canada. “Through our cross country network, the annual Charity Calendar reaches communities large and small and provides Canadians with an opportunity to help ensure children's health and well-being remains a national priority,” said Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited. In 1999, the Home Hardware Charity calendar in support of SickKids Foundation was first introduced and since that time has raised more than $1 million for the Foundation.

Holiday Optimism Low, Survey Finds

Canadians are not as optimistic in the short term, and are tightening their belts over the holiday season, according to the latest RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook report. Based on the results of 1,018 surveys conducted in November 2009, the report found that one half (47 per cent) plan to spend less this year than last holiday season and one in five Canadians (18 per cent) will not buy any gifts at all. On average, Canadians expect to spend $1,218 on holiday purchases, including gifts, decorations and entertaining. On a more positive note, more than three in five Canadians (62 per cent) expect the Canadian economy to improve over the next year, while only 14 per cent expect it to worsen. As well, 39 per cent think that their personal financial situation is worse than it was three months ago, but more than one in four Canadians (27 per cent) think their situation will improve in the next three months. "Recovery is in sight for the world economy," said Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist, RBC. "We're off to a slow start but the economy will start to build steam and unemployment will reach its peak early next year and then fall off."

Trex Expands Decking, Railing

The Trex Company is expanding its portfolio of outdoor living products with the ‘Trex Transcend’decking and railing system. The manufacturer of wood-alternative decking says the new collection features a combination of performance and aesthetics that “outperforms wood, composite, and PVC for decades.”  The new line will begin shipping to distributor partners on Jan. 4, 2010, with the product scheduled to roll-out at retailers nationwide in February. 

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December 1, 2009

Manitoba Team TIM-BR MART Winners

The Pas Huskies minor league hockey team of Manitoba has won TIM-BR MART's World Junior Hockey Video Challenge. As winners, the 14 nine- and 10-year-olds, plus coaches and parents/guardians, will be traveling to the 2010 World Junior Championship in Saskatoon, SK from December 27-29, 2009, with accommodations, meals, and tickets supplied by TIM-BR MART. The team will also make an appearance on centre ice where 15,000 hockey fans will see the Huskies' winning video entry. Launched in September this year, the Video Challenge asked minor league hockey teams to record their team spirit, showing why they should win a trip to the 2010 World Juniors. Videos were then uploaded to timbrtube.ca for nation-wide voting.

Taiga Makes Executive Changes

Taiga Building Products Ltd. announced the appointments of its newest executive vice-presidents, effective January 1, 2010. Trent Balog will become executive vice-president, Operations; Kevin Bradshaw will assume the role of executive vice-president, Supply Management; and Grant Sali will move into the role of executive vice-president, Allied Products and Treated Wood Products. The Board also announced that, effective March 31, 2010, Jim Bradshaw, president and CEO, will be retiring, and will join the Board as a non-executive director thereafter. Cam White, currently Taiga's executive vice-president, Sales & Operations and COO, will assume the position of president and CEO effective April 1, 2010.

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November 30, 2009

Additions Unveiled At RONA Show

RONA Inc. unveiled products and services available throughout its network next season, at its 2010 Spring Show at Montreal’s Palais des congrès. Under the theme ‘Doing it Right,’ the 130,000-square-foot exhibition featured over 10,000 products, along with2,400 new products and 2,500 exclusivities reflecting current trends and technology. Among the highlights, RONA is launching four new product categories: indoor furniture, workwear, automobile products, and small appliances; four new controlled brands in the hardware category: FACTO, UBERHAUS, UBERHAUS DESIGN, and UBERHAUS PRO; over 650 new products to its RONA ECO and eco-responsible lines for 2010; exclusivities – including the 2010 RONA Heart Stoppers – to enhance every category; its STUDIO by RONA paint and interior decoration boutique presented in the centre of the Show; and a new repair service for its private and controlled brand of portable and electric tools in over 230 Mecanair workshops across Canada.

Canadian Tire Upgrading Automotive

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has signed a multi-year agreement with COSTAR Computer Systems, a provider of automotive shop management software. The agreement is part of a major initiative to upgrade Canadian Tire's automotive infrastructure and improve the overall service experience at its 476 automotive centres and 5,500 auto bays. The new technology is scheduled for implementation in 2011.

RONA Introduces Succession Program

RONA Inc. introduced a new succession-planning program designed to make it easier for family members of independent dealers, RONA employees, or aspiring entrepreneurs from outside the company to acquire stores. Unveiled at its annual Spring Show in Montreal, the program encompasses three aspects: personal, legal, and financial. From a personal aspect, elements range from the identification of potential successors to training and mentoring new owners. From a legal aspect, it includes referral resources for the drafting of contracts and agreements. And financial dimensions cover the preparation of a business plan, tax planning, and the financial structure of the transaction. The program also includes the creation of a $100-million special fund over a 10-year period to facilitate store acquisition transactions. Jean-Luc Meunier, RONA’s senior vice-president, affiliate dealer-owner network development, is responsible for overseeing the initiative.

Holiday ‘Cheer’ Predicted For Retailers

BMO Economics predicts “more cheer” this holiday season as poor economic conditions seem to be lifting from consumers' minds. On the heels of Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S. – Canadian retailers have launched substantial sales, which should kick-start the shopping season. "Canadian consumers should be in a far merrier mood to spend this holiday season, cheered up by an improving economic climate, record low interest rates, and some pent-up demand after a Grinch-like recession stole Christmas last year," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist, BMO Capital Markets. But Nancy Marescotti, director, Card Marketing, BMO, expects lingering consumer restraint to show itself in how much and where they spend their money. "We may continue to see a bit of restraint in consumer spending this holiday season but I think shoppers are looking forward to celebrating, albeit modestly, that they've survived a very difficult economic challenge. In fact, customers have told us they intend to maintain many of the strategies that helped them get through the recession – taking advantage of sales and discounts and using rewards programs to stretch their dollars, for example."

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November 27, 2009

Chinese Drywall Study Conducted

Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. (EH&E), a Massachusetts-based engineering consulting firm, completed an indoor air quality study for the U.S. government, and found a strong connection between the presence of Chinese-made drywall, low level concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, and corrosion of metals in homes. The drywall has affected thousands of homes in the U.S. for more than two years. The five-month study included 51 homes in five southern states.

Bosch Launches Compressors

Bosch Power Tools & Accessories launched its line of ‘Full Force Technology’-equipped pneumatic fastening tools with the addition of a family of compressors. The new product family includes three hand-carry compressors and two wheelbarrow compressors, which are meant to give users versatility in dealing with any pneumatic fastening application. The twin-tank hand-carry compressors also employ a new vertical tank configuration that addresses some of the most common user complaints associated with previous compressor designs, the company says.

Home Depot Declares Dividend

The Home Depot board of directors declared a third quarter cash dividend of 22.5 cents per share. The dividend is payable on December 17, 2009 to shareholders of record on the close of business on December 3, 2009. This is the 91st consecutive quarter the company has paid a cash dividend.

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November 26, 2009

Moen Picks Up Vendor Award

Moen Canada was presented with the 2009 ‘Vendor of the Year’ award at CanWel’s recent National Dealer Show and Convention. It’s the second consecutive year the plumbing products producer has received the distinction, chosen from among thousands of vendors across all categories. CanWel’s evaluation criteria for the award covers various aspects of a vendor’s performance, including sales increase, fill rate, product penetration rate, in-store vendor visits, and customer service. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for Moen and we feel fortunate to be successful in this challenging market,” said Peter Fealy, vice-president, sales and marketing retail, Moen Canada.

Ma Maison RONA Renewed

The Ma Maison RONA show has been renewed on TVA for the eighth consecutive year. In spring 2010, the show will be shot in the Quebec City region and will follow two families chosen to meet the challenge of designing, building, and decorating two new houses, from foundation to finishing. Mélanie Maynard, broadcaster and co-host of TVA’s ‘Deux filles le matin,’ will host the show. Homes being designed in the show must meet LEED certification so eco-responsible angles will be explored in the upcoming season. “Because of RONA’s commitment to sustainable development and our determination to promote environmentally friendly behaviour, the idea of showcasing LEED techniques throughout the series was a natural next step,” said Claude Bernier, executive vice-president of marketing.

Home Depot Recognizes Makita

Makita Industrial Power Tools has won The Home Depot Marketing Innovation Award, presented at The Home Depot’s Annual Supplier Partner Meeting in Atlanta, GA. Each year, The Home Depot recognizes a single vendor from all product categories for its marketing initiatives. "Makita is proud to be recognized by our exclusive category partner, The Home Depot, for our marketing efforts,” said Ken Hefley, senior vice-president of marketing. “We’re committed to bringing creative thinking and leveraging opportunities with a full 360-degree experience to drive The Home Depot’s sales success.”

Price Pfister Launches New Finish

Price Pfister introduced ‘Velvet Aged Bronze,’ a new faucet and fixture finish “never before seen in the industry.” The finish will make its debut on Treviso WaterSense certified bath faucets and on coordinating accessories and fixtures. The company describes it as a warm bronze base colour with distinctive gradual colour shading. "Not only is the finish itself extraordinary, but to our knowledge there is no other manufacturer employing the gradient relieving techniques used to achieve it," said Mark Wallace, Canadian marketing manager.

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November 25, 2009

B&D-Stanley Merger Challenged

Four lawsuits, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court, aim to stop the merger of Black & Decker and Stanley Works, according to the Baltimore Sun. Several shareholders of Black & Decker are condemning the $4.5 billion deal, announced earlier this month, claiming that Black & Decker’s board members are undervaluing the company’s stock and agreeing to terms that are preferential to Stanley. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 2010, will make Stanley majority owner in the buyout and will cost nearly 250 corporate Black & Decker employees their jobs. The plaintiffs demand the sale be prohibited unless the terms are changed to maximize Black & Decker shareholder value.

Insider Offers Predictions

2010 will be the year of home renovations, predicts Matt Knox, CEO of the constructions classifieds DiggersList, as many will look to keep their home value up to get potential homebuyers’ or renters’ attention. Also among Knox’s predictions, 2010 will be the year contractors will hit the Web since they will have more time on their hands to find new jobs. Builders will realize that local online referrals are more important than ever and will therefore be highly motivated to create an online presence. As well, 2010 will be greener than 2009, he says. “There’s never been a better time for contractors and suppliers to offload their excess inventory in a sustainable way.” Contractors will realize they can save by buying, selling, and trading used building supplies and tools instead of letting them sit in a warehouse or dispose them into a landfill.

Lowe’s Names Senior VP

Lowe’s named Todd Woods its new senior vice-president, deputy general counsel and assistant secretary. In his new role, he will be responsible for assisting in the coordination of legal services for the company and its subsidiaries, including international, regulatory, and special assignments. Woods, who joined Lowe’s in 2002, will continue to report to Gaither Keener, senior vice president, general counsel, secretary, and chief compliance officer of the company.

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November 24, 2009

Retail Sales Up

Retail sales rose one per cent in September to $34.9 billion, representing the seventh jump in nine months, says Statistics Canada. On a year-over-year basis, sales in September were 3.3 per cent lower than in September 2008. In volume terms, retail sales climbed 1.2 per cent in September, while sales at building and outdoor home supplies stores (-0.2 per cent) and clothing and accessories stores (-0.1 per cent) both fell in September. All parts of the automotive sector (+1.0 per cent) saw higher sales in September. Another main contributor to increases was the food and beverage stores sector, where sales rose 1.3 per cent. Supermarkets led the way (+1.5%), following flat sales in August. The largest increase was at general merchandise stores, where sales rose 1.9 per cent. Miscellaneous retailers saw their sales rise 1.7 per cent, after four months of flat sales. This growth was led by sales at sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores (+1.9 per cent), the largest increase at these store types since March 2008.

Baergen Discusses Growth

With 600,000 square feet of distribution-centre space now available in Calgary, there will be more room for new hardware and building material listings, said Rod Baergen, general merchandise manager, Federated Co-operatives Limited. Baergen shared his group’s future plans and most successful business segments so far, at the latest CHHMA (Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association) breakfast seminar in Toronto. With record annual sales in 2008, the group has seen significant growth in its food-store businesses, agro centres, and gas bar/convenience store/car wash complexes, and it will continue to focus efforts in those areas. But it will also be looking at hardware and building supplies expansion through banners like Co-op and Valumaster. Baergen also says its new union with buying group ILDC – which took effect this year – is still in a transition phase, but will soon add great value to its members.

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November 23, 2009

Energy-efficient Reno Market Gaining

The U.S. energy-efficient home remodeling market is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent from 2009 to 2013, says research firm SBI Energy – growing 50 per cent faster than the renovations market as a whole. Expanded tax credits, combined with the steadily improving economy, will boost this market as increasingly confident consumers look to become more eco-friendly. According to a new report by SBI, the American energy-efficient market will reach $35 billion and will go from claiming 12 per cent of the home renovations market to 15 per cent by the end of the forecast period. “Consumers are willing to pay more for green and energy-efficient products, but they expect a return in the long term. Consider the tax credits a step in the right direction,” says Norman Deschamps, author and SBI Energy analyst.

Williams-Sonoma Returns To 3Q Profit

Helped by reduced expenses and better margins, Williams-Sonoma Inc. says it returned to a third-quarter profit. The company, whose stores include Pottery Barn and namesake locations, earned $7.3 million in the third quarter, compared to a loss of $11 million during the same quarter last year. Sales slipped three percent to $729.3 million from $752.1 million. It was able to strengthen its quarterly performance in part by cutting its selling, general, and administrative expenses to $243.4 million from $259.9 million, which helped gross margins improve to 34.7 per cent from 32 per cent. As well, sales at stores open at least a year climbed 1.7 percent during the quarter. The company says shoppers responded well to its products during the quarter, and that it raised its profit and revenue forecasts for the fourth quarter and year.

2010 NHS Floor Filling Fast

The National Hardware Show (NHS) reports that its show floor is more than 86 per cent filled, with six months left until the show opens May 4-6, 2010 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “New programs, products, insights and customer value have all contributed to this early commitment to next year’s show we believe,” said Ed Several, group vice-president & show manager. The show is also promoting itself through a ‘Cool Tools’ National Hardware Show special on the DIY TV Network, which is scheduled to air throughout the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. It will feature tools that the producers found on the show floor of this year’s event. For more information on the 2010 show, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com.

2010 IHA Green-Focussed

The 2010 International Home + Housewares Show, March 14-16 in Chicago, promises to be “the launching pad” for promising eco-conscious innovations for retailers – from chemical-free cleaning and natural air purification solutions to new vegetable-based products. As well, to further connect with members, fellow industry professionals, and consumers, the International Housewares Association (IHA) has launched a strategic social media plan by initiated social networking memberships on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. In addition, it has posted Wikipedia pages for both IHA and the International Home + Housewares Show and started a blog on its website, www.housewares.org.

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November 20, 2009

Fourth Straight Rise In Leading Index

The composite leading index for October was up 0.7 per cent, its fourth straight advance, says Statistics Canada. Just as it did in September, eight of the 10 components grew. Housing remained the fastest-growing component, as the housing index rose 4.2 per cent, its sixth straight increase. While sales have slowed recently, housing starts have jumped up 4.8 per cent in October. The US leading indicator grew by 0.9 per cent – led by industrial demand for autos and housing – surpassing the growth of the Canadian leading index. Despite the improving U.S. economy, demand for Canadian manufactured goods remained uneven. New orders dropped again, the second straight month. The ratio of shipments to stocks climbed, but only because inventories fell faster than sales.

Sears Releases 3Q Results

Sears Canada Inc. had third-quarter revenues of $1.309 billion compared to $1.442 billion for the same period of 2008, a drop of 9.2 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were $47.1 million, a decline of 20 per cent from the $59.3 million earned in the comparable period. Same store sales fell 6.3 per cent, but total expenses for the quarter were reduced by 11.5 per cent, the company says. "The recession is continuing with increasing unemployment resulting in retracted consumer spending," said Dene Rogers, president and CEO. "The economic uncertainty continued to affect consumer confidence during the third quarter especially as it relates to future employment.” On the positive side, Sears Canada says its cash position improved by $304.4 million to $1.11 billion as of Oct. 31.

Weak Markets Hurt Tembec 4Q

Canadian forestry products company, Tembec, reported fourth-quarter consolidated sales of $451 million, down from $629 million in the same period last year. It generated a net loss of $17 million for the quarter, compared to a net loss of $4 million in the same 2008 quarter. Revenues totalled $451 million, down from $629 million last year. The company attributes the losses to the higher Canadian dollar, weak lumber market, and deterioration in the newsprint sector. "While the September quarterly operating results were an improvement over June, they remained relatively poor," the Montreal-based company said. In response, Tembec says it has curtailed production and reduced inventories to improve its liquidity to $170 million.

PORTER Introduces Battery Packs

PORTER-CABLE launched two new battery packs, meant to give tradesmen more flexibility to meet their worksite and shop needs. The LX an EX Lithium-Ion packs “were designed from the ground up,” the company says, and feature batteries that are interchangeable with any PORTER-CABLE 18-volt cordless tool – allowing users to choose between more power and run-time.

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November 19, 2009

Jenkins Shares Winning Formula

Since big-box business entered the Canadian marketplace 15 years ago, independent home improvement retailers went from facing “extinction” to now holding “distinction,” said Ken Jenkins, president of Castle Building Centres, at the latest Hardlines Executive Breakfast Seminar. Jenkins shared how corporate big boxes have forced independent dealers to find their niche, which centres on strong customer service, experience, and connection to communities. He says Castle’s winning formula has been to allow independents absolute freedom in exercising those strengths while – as a buying group – staying focused on the products and services independents are most competitive in. Jenkins also noted the biggest challenges facing his group and independents in general – namely, the rising Canadian dollar, which is putting pressure on local suppliers; and the aging population, which is highlighting the need for succession strategies.

Broadleaf Exclusive Nichiha Distributor

Nichiha, an international producer of fibre cement technology for 30 years, announced Broadleaf Logistics Company as the exclusive two-step distributor of its products to serve the Canadian commercial market sector. The two-step process will have Broadleaf carrying the commercial line of Nichiha products and distributing to other localized dealers in their network. “Nichiha is truly an innovative fiber cement provider with a well segmented portfolio offering. Its professional discipline and entrepreneurial approach under which Nichiha operates will make an ideal strategic partnership to service the Canadian building industry,” said Mike Gibson, director, product management and marketing of Broadleaf.

Evolving Retail Landscape Set For Discussion

This year’s Next Generation Reception, by the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centres), will focus on how retailers are influenced by the environment which they operate in, and how service, product mix, and marketing is tailored to the local neighbourhood. The event, which takes place Dec. 2 in Toronto, will feature Leons' Rod Fortune and his discussion on its new urban retail format. Starbucks’ Robert Luciano will also share how its neighbourhood approach combines corporate store structure with the local markets they serve. Kim Heppler of Cadillac Fairview will moderate the discussions. For more information, visit www.icsc.org.

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November 18, 2009

Home Depot 3Q Earnings Fall

The Home Depot had third quarter net earnings of $689 million, compared to net earnings of $756 million in the same period a year ago. Sales dipped eight per cent to $16.4 billion, and same-store sales declined 6.9 per cent. The company says sales in hard-hit U.S. markets, such as California, Florida, and Arizona, are showing signs of stabilization. Paint, plumbing, flooring, garden, kitchen and bath, and building materials remained strong, reflecting strength in smaller do-it-yourself projects. But results show that sales to its key professional customers, which generate more than a quarter of company revenues, have been falling sharply. “There is still a great deal of pressure in the housing and home improvement markets, though there are some positive signs of stabilization," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. "Our business continues to perform well in a difficult environment. We grew market share in the quarter, continued to transform our business and improved customer service.” Cost cutting did help Home Depot to exceed average expectations and led it to raise its full-year earnings guidance, yet it did not raise its revenue outlook. Based on its performance to date, the company says it expects sales to be down approximately nine per cent for the year.

Ace Pleased With Overall 3Q

Ace Hardware Corporation reported third-quarter net income of $26.7 million, up $0.3 million or one per cent compared to $26.4 million in the same period of 2008. The hardware cooperative also announced total revenues $832.6 million for the third quarter, a decrease of $134.4 million or 13.9 percent from $967 million in 2008. “While we are not pleased with our top line results during the quarter, our overall performance in the third quarter is solid in what has been a very challenging year,” said Ray Griffith, Ace president and CEO. “We delivered a solid bottom line performance while continuing to invest in our technology systems.” After excluding certain non-comparable items, it reported adjusted EBITDA of $44.2 million for the third quarter, an increase of $1.7 million or 4.1 percent as compared to $42.5 million in 2008. In the third quarter, Ace added 24 new stores and cancelled 43 stores, bringing its total store count to 4,511 at the end of the third quarter in 2009.

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November 17, 2009

Lowe’s Hopeful Despite 3Q Drop

Lowe’s Cos. third-quarter profit fell 30 per cent to $344 million, from $488 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue slid three per cent to $11.38 billion and sales in stores open at least one year fell 7.5 per cent in the quarter. Yet, the company says markets are stabilizing and that its fourth quarter will be stronger than last year's. "As the economy and the housing market continue through the bottoming and recovery process, we know there will be ongoing macroeconomic hurdles to cross including declining home values and rising unemployment," CEO Robert Niblock said. "But we're encouraged by the signs of stabilization we're seeing in our business." Traffic was nearly flat compared with last year's third quarter, but higher than it was in this year's second quarter. Strong paint sales reflect consumer’s willingness to complete simple projects to enhance their home, the company said. Energy-efficient offerings and government incentives drove demand for Energy Star appliances. Flooring was also a strong segment, driven by positive response to a $39 installation deal on Stainmaster carpet.

Taiga Reports Steady 2Q

Taiga Building Products Ltd. reported net earnings of $3.4 million for its second-quarter ended September 30, 2009, compared to $3.2 million obtained in the previous-year period, as sales weakness was offset by reduced selling and admin costs, and thanks to its continued cost reduction program, the company said. The Canadian wholesale distributor of building supplies also saw its sales fall by 17.1 per cent to $260.4 million, from $314.0 million in the same period last year, due mainly to declining demand in new home construction. For its six-month period, net earnings were $10 million compared to $7.3 million a year earlier – attributable to cost reductions and foreign exchange gains. Gross margin percentage for its second quarter also increased to 10.8 per cent from 10.3 per cent in the second quarter of the prior fiscal year, a result of commodity product trading gains and reduced purchasing costs due to a stronger Canadian dollar.

Practicality Tops Wish Lists, B&D Finds

Cookbooks, exercise equipment, and power tools represent the “practical items” consumers want most this holiday season, according to a recent survey by Black & Decker and Zogby International. The survey, representative of the U.S. adult population, found that nearly 70 per cent of consumers plan to ask their friends, family, and loved ones for necessities over luxuries this holiday season. Additionally, one in six (17 percent) would like to get an even split of practical and luxurious gifts. "We know consumers are searching for holiday gifts using a practical lens this year," says Tim Dunphy, consumer insights manager for Black & Decker. "Our new products offer a variety of functional benefits that help consumers get the job done with ease - while remaining conscious that many consumers will scale back spending this year." With that, Black & Decker has launched a number of new “giftable, practical items” for consumers, including its ReadyWrench, Flex Cordless Mini Canister Vac, and its Cordless Lithium Screwdriver with SmartSelect Technology.

Cupskey Joins IRLY

Shannon Cupskey has joined IRLY Distributors as account manager. Prior to her new position with IRLY, she was account manager for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies in the Schlage Lock Residential Sales Division. She has been involved with the builder/renovator channel for the last six years, but began her career in hardware retail, and later became a manufacturer's agent.

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November 16, 2009

Canadian Tire Changes Centralize Business

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited says it is building on a series of changes throughout 2009 to focus on “Operating as One Company - Serving One Customer,” rather than operating as five inter-related businesses. Corporate functions that cut across the entire company are being centralized under single points of leadership to allow for clarity and focus, the company says. To achieve that company-wide perspective it has appointed former CFO, Huw Thomas, as executive vice-president, Financial Strategy & Performance, responsible for providing the alignment of financial strategy and performance across the organization. Also, financial operations will now be centralized under Marco Marrone, appointed Chief Financial Officer & executive vice-president. Dean McCann – 13-year veteran of Canadian Tire – has been appointed president, Financial Services and an officer of Canadian Tire Corporation. And in order to combine the strengths and resources of its Automotive business under one single strategy – PartSource, Petroleum, automotive hard parts, accessories, service centres and tires – it appointed Michael Medline President, Canadian Tire Automotive and Dealer Relations.

Consumers Reveal Holiday Shopping Strategies

Canadian consumers are becoming smarter about their spending by comparison shopping and taking advantage of special offers and promotions, says an Ipsos Reid research study, conducted on behalf of PayPal Canada. Out of the 1,025 Canadians asked at the end of October 2009, the survey found that 90 per cent of Canadians would comparison-shop to find the best price. The same percentage will also take advantage of special offers and promotions. As well, one-third of Canadians are planning on doing at least some of their holiday shopping online. The same percentage indicates that they are likely to shop online to avoid the long lines and the crowds at the mall. Forty per cent say they are likely to give the gift of money to friends and family this holiday season, and 30 per cent say they are likely to take part in cross-border shopping from U.S. merchants. Also, the study found that consumers will be making a budget and sticking to it, as 67 per cent have a strict budget for their holiday shopping and more women than men have a strict budget for their shopping (72 versus 60 per cent).

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November 13, 2009

Studio By RONA Banner Unveiled

RONA Inc. unveiled its new STUDIO by RONA concept with the opening of three stores in Saint-Léonard, Vaudreuil, and Rosemère, QC. The stores represent an investment of $1.5 million each and are the first steps in a series of planned openings in Quebec in 2010 and elsewhere in Canada. At a maximum size of 10,000 square feet, these stores offer a new direction in interior decoration and renovation, the company says, designed to meet the needs of consumers as well as interior designers and professional painters. RONA says it’s also the only banner to provide a structured offer for these customer groups, all under one roof. “Our research confirms that the main driver of paint and interior decoration projects isn’t brand, it’s colour," says executive vice-president of merchandising, Normand Dumont. "By becoming the only boutique designed to meet the needs of consumers, interior designers and professional painters alike, STUDIO by RONA is meeting these new expectations and fulfilling a demand that has not yet been satisfied in Canada.”

Canadian Tire 3Q Earnings Down

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited announced a third-quarter decrease of 21.6 per cent in adjusted net earnings compared to the same quarter last year, as unseasonal weather slowed sales and its financial services division faced higher loan losses. Third-quarter profit was $85.4 million, down from $108.6 million a year earlier. Gross operating revenue fell 4.1 per cent to $2.17 billion, reflecting a drop in retail sales to $2.45 billion from $2.61 billion. The company says its core retail business posted adjusted earnings that were effectively unchanged from the same quarter in 2008, while demonstrating year-to-date adjusted earnings before income taxes growth of 1.9 per cent. "Our core business is resilient in the face of challenging seasonal and economic realities delivering modest shipment growth and a positive EBITDA uplift – although offset by the overall challenges in financial services," said Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO. "We are now entering some of the most important weeks for our retail businesses and I am confident that we have the right strategies, people and plans in place."

Steps To Ensue Green Building Outlined

It’s time to make certain that our buildings and homes are built and retrofitted with energy efficiency in mind, said Stephen Koch, executive director of the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) Canada. Koch highlighted four vital points that governments, businesses, and consumers should be aware of at the GreenPrint 2010 conference in Toronto, presented by the Ontario Building Envelope Council. Firstly, building codes, in all provinces, must begin incorporating energy efficiency and eco-friendliness so that future building stocks aren’t burdened as they are today. Volunteer initiatives – such as R2000, LEED, and Built Green – must continue and flourish so that green technologies and products can be tested and introduced to the marketplace. Incentives, such as the ecoEnergy Grant Program, are imperative in promoting green products and services, and in driving down the prices of those products. And labelling homes and buildings as ‘energy-efficient’ must become commonplace, in order to give consumers greener choices, and as a way of measuring and defining what can be considered ‘green’ in our society.

Small Electrics Well Positioned

The small electrics category is well positioned to continue to grow through 2010 and beyond, as many specialty retailers in the U.S. report increases in small electric sales, says market research firm NPD. The decline of consumer dining outside the home and the resurgence of home meal preparation represents a prime opportunity for retailers to drive sales in the coming year, NPD says, thanks to timesaving product features and new innovations stimulating demand. Business intelligence provider Euromonitor International also forecasts steady unit sales growth on a global level for the small electrics category, at an estimated three per cent in the coming year, and 22 per cent through 2014. “These new realities mean that manufacturers will make greater research and development investments and begin delivering more innovative products to retailers’ shelves,” says Simon Maddrell, industry research manager at Euromonitor.

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November 12, 2009

Castle Adds Six New Members

The Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has added six new retail, commercial, and specialty members to its network of independent dealers. In Ontario, they are Georgian Bay Forest Products, which joined Castle to expand its product offering to the local community; and Ignace Castle Building Centre, which partnered with Castle to offer both building supplies and hardware to the community. In B.C., Lillooet True Value has serviced the Lillooet, Lytton, and Goldbridge communities for 30 years, and is now looking to expand into the lumber and building materials segment; and The Renovation Warehouse (Grand Forks) has expanded its operations and changed its focus to include windows, doors, flooring, and a complete line of hardware. In Saskatchewan, Horizon Interiors has joined Castle Building Centres to further expand its building material assortment. And in Nova Scotia, Beaverbank Insulation and Building Materials, has now moved the business to a new location in Upper Tantallon, and with membership in Castle Building Centres, will be expanding its product offering in energy efficient products.

City Protecting Wood Culture

The City of Quesnel, B.C. is trying to lead the way in developing a Wood First bylaw, which is in support of B.C.’s Wood First Act, and meant to promote wood use in local construction. City Council approved a resolution recently stating it will continue to support the ongoing development of its wood culture. "We are confirming our belief in the wood industry, the lifeblood of our community. I encourage other communities across the province to do the same," said Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom. "We want to strengthen existing markets and help create new ones." The resolution passed by Council contained a number of clauses, including selecting wood champion designers and builders for municipal projects; and ensuring that all municipal construction projects receive either public or wood industry financial support to optimize the structural and architectural use of wood.

QC Wal-Mart Layoffs Illegal

The UFCW, Local 503, and the employees of the Wal-Mart store in Jonquiere, QC, have launched several lawsuits against Wal-Mart. After unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a collective agreement in February 2005, Wal-Mart publicly indicated its intention to close the store because it could not afford to meet the union’s demands. It then gave notice of the employees’ termination and that it would cease store operations, effective May 2005. In response, the union filed grievances arguing the layoffs resulting from the store closure were illegal because they were in breach of the “freeze” provision contained in the Quebec Labour Code. In a recent decision, the arbitrator agreed and declared the layoffs illegal. The employees also filed complaints to the Quebec Labour Board alleging their termination was a result of their union activities. The case has been debated before the Supreme Court of Canada and a decision is expected shortly.

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November 11, 2009

RONA Optimistic Despite 3Q Dip

RONA had third-quarter consolidated sales of $1,320.5 million, down 4.4 per cent compared to the $1,381.7 million in the same period last year. Excluding special items, earnings were $53.3 million, down from $58.9 million a year earlier. Despite the dip, the company says it saw higher sales to commercial and professional customers in Ontario and a slight decrease in sales to Canadian consumers. RONA attributes the decline to a 5.3 per cent reduction in same-store sales in the corporate and franchise store sector, while sales in the distribution sector were down 1.6 per cent. The drop in same-store sales was due mainly to declining housing starts of recent quarters, and to the low confidence of Canadian consumers – still lagging behind last year, despite some recent improvement, RONA says. “As anticipated, we glimpsed the first signs of recovery in our industry during the third quarter. Same-store sales in our store network continued to decline, but more slowly than at the beginning of the year… As predicted, our PEP program (productivity, efficiency, profitability) has continued to produce very good results, allowing us to limit shrinkage in our EBITDA margin to just 13 basis points…” said RONA president and CEO Robert Dutton.

IRLY Donates To Shelter Program

IRLY Building Centres has donated building materials and tools to the Builders Without Borders initiative in B.C. The project is in partnership with the Aboriginal Women’s Shelter and aims to build homes for the homeless in East Vancouver. In order to help bring more aboriginal women into the trades, the program will also provide training to aboriginal women in basic constriction skills. IRLY says it began supporting the program in February of this year, and has so far donated tool belts, hand tools, gyproc, and plywood.

Dutton To Speak At CHHMA Breakfast

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) will welcome Robert Dutton, president & CEO, RONA inc., as its breakfast speaker on December 15. Taking place at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON, Dutton will discuss the Canadian economy, the home improvement market, and how RONA is positioned to deal with it. For more information, visit http://www.chhma.ca.

Landscapers & Contractors Expos Announced

Following its debut last spring, the Saskatchewan Equipment Expo will once again take place at Prairieland Park, Saskatoon, February 23 to 24. As well, the Southern Alberta Landscapers Expo is now set for February 10 to 11, at the Roundup Centre, Calgary; and the BC Landscapers Expo will take place February 17 to 18, at Tradex, Abbotsford, BC. All the 2010 Landscapers & Contractors Expos will feature new products, equipment, and technology that aim to help make landscapers’ and contractors’ jobs easier and more profitable. For more information on any of the expos, visit www.landscapingexpo.net.

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November 10, 2009 

Housing Starts Up In October

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts hit 157,300 units in October, an increase from 149,300 in September, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts grew 5.2 per cent to 139,900 units in October, while urban multiple starts increased 13.8 per cent to 72,600 units. Urban single starts fell by 2.7 per cent to 67,300 units in October. Regionally, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 15 per cent in B.C., by 14.8 per cent in Ontario, by 6.5 per cent in the Prairies, and by 1.2 per cent in the Atlantic. In Quebec, the rate of urban starts decreased by 11.6 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,400 units in October. "The improvement in housing starts in October is attributable to improvement in the multiple starts segment," said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "Despite a small decline in single home starts in October, the level of single home starts remains at its second highest level since October 2008."

CanWel 3Q Revenue Down

CanWel Building Materials Income Fund reported third-quarter sales of $188 million, down from $227 million obtained in the corresponding 2008 period. Gross margin as a percentage of sales rose by 13 per cent or $24.5 million, compared to 12.6 per cent or $28.6 million during the same year-ago period. Net earnings amounted to $7 million compared to $5.6 million during the same period in 2008. The company associated the decrease in revenue to both an overall decline in the selling prices of lumber and panel products for 3Q 2009 versus 3Q 2008 and to the downturn in the Canadian economy. “Our focus on increasing margins and controlling costs is helping the Fund mitigate the impact of the reduction in revenue dollars we are experiencing due to continued downward price pressures on lumber and a reduction in home construction activity,” stated Amar Doman, Chairman of CanWel. “We will continue to monitor the strength of the Canadian economy and continue to adjust our business model to match the economic activity.”

Sears Opens Ont. Dealer Store

Sears Canada opened a new 3,400 square-foot Dealer Store in Beamsville, ON, giving it a network of 193 dealer stores, 198 corporate stores, 40 home improvement showrooms, and more than 1,800 catalogue merchandise pick-up locations. Owned and operated by Brian Mastervick, the store will house a range of appliances, furniture, electronics, and lawn products, including its exclusive brands Kenmore and Craftsman.

Jenn-Air, Sears Form Exclusive Deal

Sears Holdings Corp. will become the exclusive national retailer for Whirlpool Corp.'s Jenn-Air appliances. The exclusive deal means Jenn-Air will no longer be sold through Home Depot and Lowe’s by January, although independent dealers and regional chains can still carry the brand. Sears says it will launch 17 “super premium” Jenn-Air refrigerators, dishwashers, and cooktops to 255 of its largest stores by Nov. 15.

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November 9, 2009 

Building Permits Up Again

The value of building permits grew 1.6 per cent to $5.1 billion in September, marking a second consecutive monthly increase, according to Statistics Canada. Higher intentions in the residential sector more than offset a decline in the non-residential sector. As well, the value of residential permits increased 9.4 per cent to $3.2 billion, a level unseen since September 2008 thanks to gains in the value of multi-family dwellings, especially in B.C. and Ontario. As for the non-residential sector, the value of permits dropped 9.1 per cent to $1.9 billion in September, reflecting drops in the institutional and commercial components in B.C. Nationally, the value of building permits fell in B.C., Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in the territories Nunavut and Yukon.

U.S. Green Roofing, HVAC Markets Gaining

The U.S. market for energy-efficient heating and cooling (HVAC) products and exterior roofing products will see double-digit growth by 2011, according to a new report by market research publisher, SBI Energy. The report, ‘Energy-Efficient Home Renovations Market, Part 3: HVAC & Roofing,’ finds that as American homeowners regain confidence in the economy and capitalize on expanded government tax credits for green home remodeling, the market will see a gain of eight per cent in 2010. Energy-efficient home renovations will continue to fare much better than the renovations market in general, experiencing a decline of only six per cent in 2009. Overall, the reportforecasts the HVAC product segment will post a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 per cent from 2009 to 2013, reaching a market value exceeding $5 billion by the end of the forecast period. Meanwhile, residential roofing will explode from 2011 to 2013, posting sales increases of 20 per cent to 30 per cent in each of those years, finishing with almost $3 billion in sales by 2013.

Consumer Confidence Slides In U.S.

Higher gas prices, slumping retail sales, volatile stock markets, and continuing joblessness in the U.S. resulted in the sharpest one-month drop in consumer sentiment since last autumn's financial crisis, according to the results of the RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index. The RBC Index for the U.S., a monthly national survey of consumer attitudes, stood at 30.2 for November, down 21.6 points from October's 51.8 reading. "This month's RBC Index results show that American consumers are not yet convinced that their financial and employment situations are stable," said Ira Jersey, head of U.S. Interest Rate Strategy for RBC Capital Markets. " Although we have pulled back from the abyss, consumer attitudes remain susceptible to negative news."

2010 National Home Show Set

The 2010 National Home Show presented by RE/MAX has been set for February 19 to 28 at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto. Among various highlights, the show will features The 2010 Dream Home, a live appearance by home improvement expert Ty Pennington, Dream Gardens presented by the Toronto Star, Green Pavillion, and a2010 Sports Lodge. For more information, visit www.nationalhomeshow.com.

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November 6, 2009 

Livelier Tones Making Comeback

Livelier, more optimistic paint tones will make a comeback in home décor in 2010-2011, says Canadian paint brand Sico Paints. As a result of the economic, political, and environmental uncertainty of past years, consumers have preferred more comforting, warm neutrals, such as browns and beiges, “but now people have had enough with doom and gloom and are looking for a change, a new beginning,” says Stéphanie Pelland, marketing communication manager for Sico and member of the international colour forecaster Color Marketing Group. Deep reds and purples; vivid blues; greens; pastels, such as baby blues and pinks; and earthy golds and clays will be among the new colours featured in next year’s palette. As the year unfolds, Pelland says more energetic colours will be used as a complement to neutral colours – particularly grey, from silver to deep slate – to give the neutrals a lift.

True Value 3Q Revenue Down

True Value Company announced third-quarter revenue of $432 million, down 12.4 per cent or $61.1 million from the same period a year ago. The retailer-owned hardware cooperative also reported a quarterly net margin of $19.7 million, a decrease of 3.9 per cent or $0.8 million versus $20.5 million one year ago. "We experienced increased softness in our retail segment in the third quarter," said president and CEO, Lyle Heidemann. "The continued impact of the recession, our retailers managing their cash flow very closely and unfavourable seasonal weather compared to the third quarter last year all contributed to our revenue decline."

Scotts Narrows Loss

Scotts Miracle-Gro’s fiscal fourth-quarter loss narrowed, as it experienced a 4Q loss of $14.9 million compared to a loss of $34.7 million a year ago. It had sales growth of seven per cent to $583.4 million from 544.2 million for the same period last year. "We started the lawn and garden season with momentum and never lost it, allowing us to deliver strong results for fiscal 2009," said chairman and CEO Jim Hagedorn. "We're obviously pleased with our results, which validate the resilience of the lawn and garden category and the strength of our brands with our consumers and our retail partners.”

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November 5, 2009 

Gift Card Interest Rising

Twenty-three per cent of Canadians on a fixed budget prefer to buy gift cards instead of personal gifts or cash, according to a study conducted by Harris/Decima and Givex, a global provider of closed loop card technologies. The survey of 1,013 Canadians, conducted in October 2009, also found that during redemption, 50 per cent of consumers usually spend more than the value of the card, creating additional revenue for retailers. That finding marks a significant increase from the 39 per cent observed last year and may suggest that gift card spending behaviour is returning to 2007 and 2006 levels, the report says. The study also suggests that gift cards may be a good way to build brand affinity and connection with customers as the holiday season approaches, without resorting to discounting. According to the study, 62 per cent of Canadian consumers said they are likely to provide personal information in exchange for an incentive and 21 per cent are likely to register online with merchants to protect their gift cards from theft or loss.

Canadian Tire Selects VP Corporate Affairs

Canadian Tire Corporation has appointed Duncan Fulton to the position of vice-president, corporate affairs. In his new position, Fulton will assume overall responsibility for public and media relations, government relations, and internal communications. Previously, he worked as senior partner and general manager of Fleishman-Hillard Communications’ Toronto office and also served in the Prime Minister’s Office as the spokesperson and communication advisor to former PM Jean Chrétien.

Jenkins To Speak At Breakfast

Ken Jenkins, president, Castle Building Centres Limited, will be featured at the next Hardlines HQR Executive Breakfast on Nov. 18. Jenkins will discuss how the Castle group sets itself apart from other dealer structures, how independents can generate and share best practices, and changing trends that favour independents.

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November 4, 2009

Stanley, Black & Decker Join Forces

The Stanley Works and The Black & Decker Corporation have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create Stanley Black & Decker – an $8.4 billion global industrial entity in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $4.5 billion. The companies say the move will create greater worldwide recognition and appeal among retailers, commercial customers, and individual consumers. “Stanley and Black & Decker together will have a comprehensive offering across all major tool categories and greater resources to support continued expansion of our combined security and industrial businesses… Joining these two companies together creates a powerful engine for growth, both as markets around the world recover and over the long-term,” said John F. Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Stanley. The combination is expected to result in earnings per share (EPS) accretion of approximately $1.00 by the third year after closing, including approximately $350 million in estimated annual cost synergies fully realized within three years. “The complementary product and market fit of these two companies creates significant value for both companies’ shareholders that neither company can accomplish on a stand-alone basis,” said Nolan D. Archibald, president and CEO of Black & Decker, and who now becomes executive chairman of the combined company for three years.

Canadian Retailers At A Disadvantage

Governments and retailers must work to drive consumer spending because it is “at the heart of  our economic recovery,” said Dene Rogers, president & CEO, Sears Canada. Rogers spoke at an Economic Club of Canada luncheon about the need to negotiate lower prices, or else face being undercut by the competition. But until government regulators here eliminate some of the red tape, Canadian retailers will remain at a disadvantage compared to their U.S. counterparts. For example, regulatory costs for product specifications, bilingual labelling stipulations, higher labour costs, and higher import tariffs can make it up to 15 per cent more expensive for Canadian retailers to sell items – driving a great deal of cross-border shopping. Rogers also stressed the need to regulate credit card interchange fees, which are at about two per cent in Canada – double the average in most of Europe. Rogers also shared some of the steps Sears is taking to drive spending, such as deferring financing for customers and by adding to the various government grants available to Canadians.

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November 3, 2009

Housing Starts Recovering

Housing starts have started to recover and are expected to continue improving in the second half of 2009, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) fourth quarter Housing Market Outlook, Canada Edition report. The report finds that the strong pace of MLS (Multiple Listing Service) sales in the second and third quarters of this year reflects, in part, activity that was delayed in the previous two quarters. "We expect housing markets across Canada to strengthen leading into and over the course of 2010 as economic conditions improve," said Bob Dugan, chief economist for CMHC. Existing home sales are expected to reach 441,300 units in 2009 and will increase to 445,150 units in 2010. The average MLS price is expected to be $312,950 in 2009 and $324,500 in 2010. And starts are expected to reach 141,900 for the year and will increase to 164,900 for 2010, the report says.

GDP Down, StatsCan Says

Real GDP fell 0.1 per cent in August after remaining flat in July, says Statistics Canada. Manufacturing activity was down 0.7 per cent, with declines in 8 of its 21 major groups. Much of the overall decline was due to a drop in primary metal products. However, value added in retail trade rose 0.3 per cent in August, with activity increasing slightly among most types of retailers. The volume of wholesaling activity fell 0.5 per cent in August as all major wholesale trade groups retreated, with the exceptions of personal and household goods and automotive products. As well, August construction advanced 0.2 per cent – the first increase since October 2008. A rise in engineering and repair work eclipsed reductions in both new residential and non-residential building construction. Residential alterations and improvement work also grew.

OSRAM Expands LED Line

Lighting manufacturer OSRAM SYLVANIA debuted its line of professional LED solutions at an upscale Manhattan penthouse – the backdrop for its lighting design showcase. Hosted by newly appointed president and CEO Rick Leaman, the event showcased its new Traxon LED Systems. "We've expanded our portfolio of LED products and services through our joint venture with Traxon Technologies to provide an even broader array of choices for lighting designers and specifiers," said Leaman. To further advance its position in LED technology, OSRAM SYLVANIA says it has invested in a multimillion-dollar LED clean room expansion in Massachusetts that houses research for solutions. Currently, 60 per cent of the company's sales are energy-efficient products, and this number is expected to reach 80 percent by 2012. LED technology accounts for 12 per cent of its total sales, the company says, and it invests 15 per cent of those sales into research and development.

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November 2, 2009

IRLY Announces Board, Account Manager

The IRLY Building Centres of B.C. and its distribution centre, IRLY Distributors Ltd., announced the appointment of its new Board of Directors: president – Susan Robinson; chairman – George Linger; vice-chairman – Kyle Conway; secretary – Carole Hamanishi; directors – Steve Nixon, Faizal Alimohamed, and Ernie Lawrence. IRLY Distributors also appointed Shannon Cupskey their newest account manager. She was most recently account manager of Ingersol Rand Security Technologies in the Schlage Lock Residential Sales Division. 

Holiday Inventory Problems, Price War Predicted

Because retailers spent the past year considering worst-case scenarios and the state of the economy, they now face the problem of trying to stock up in time for the holiday season, which “will be virtually impossible,” says Stevan Buxbaum, executive vice-president of the California-based Buxbaum Group, a consulting and turnaround investment firm. “The problem is that we have a worldwide supply chain. Much of the inventory comes from Asia and can sit on a boat for up to six weeks before it gets here.” As a result, the “best inventory” or the most in-demand merchandise will be gone by December 7, Buxbaum predicts. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has embarked on a price war, slapping discounts on products every week until the season is over – perhaps reflecting consumers still focused on price and value. “The winners,” he says, “will be those chains that have the guts to slash prices the most. Eking out a profit in this environment requires highly rationalized SG&A (selling, general, and administrative) costs and lower overhead.”

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October 30, 2009

Newell Rubbermaid 3Q Earnings Up

Newell Rubbermaid earned $85.5 million in its third quarter, up 54 per cent from $55.6 million in the same year-ago period. Net sales fell 18 per cent to $1.45 billion, with six percentage points of the decline coming from planned product-line exits and two percentage points from currency changes. The maker of storage containers, Sharpie pens, and Calphalon cookware said cost-control efforts and its decision to stop making some of its less-profitable products helped push its third-quarter profit higher even as sales declined. The company said it now expects a profit in 2009 but still expects a sales decline of 10 to 15 per cent.

LEED Development Celebration Announced

Rodeo Fine Homes will celebrate the first residents of its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified development in Newmarket, ON, on Nov. 4.  The Minister of Energy and Infrastructure George Smitherman, Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen, and other dignitaries will be on hand to congratulate the new residents and present LEED Platinum certification plaques. 

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October 29, 2009

Lighting Standard Addresses Concerns

CSA Standards has published a new standard for common screw-in household energy-efficient lights. The new standard “goes beyond” traditional requirements for electrical safety and will address concerns regarding the end-of-life cycle of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The C22.2 No. 1993-09, Self-Ballasted Lamps and Lamp Adapters standard for Canada, harmonized with the U.S. and Mexico, is meant to ensure that all CFLs and similar lights sold in North America adhere to a common standard for safety. "CSA Standards and counterparts in Mexico and the U.S. recognized that consumer concerns surrounding the end-of-life cycle of CFLs could present a barrier to the market acceptance of these energy-efficient products and jointly developed new, harmonized standards to address their concerns," says Stephen Brown, Director, Electro-technical Program, CSA Standards. The standard includes new minimum material specification for the plastic housing and additional end-of-life product tests.

Masco Experiences 3Q Drop

Masco reported third-quarter net income of $28 million, a decrease of 15.2 per cent compared to the same quarter a year ago. The maker of Kraftmaid kitchen cabinets and Delta faucets also had third-quarter net sales of $2.1 billion, down 17 per cent from $2.5 billion. Revenue dropped 17 per cent to $2.09 billion. Looking forward, the company says it expects worldwide spending for consumer products to continue at a reduced rate and that year-end sales will be down 18 to 20 per cent from 2008.

Construct Canada Five Shows In One

Construct Canada 2009 is set for Dec. 2 to 4 and will feature five shows in one. Construct Canada, Concrete Canada, DesignTrends, the Homebuilder and Renovator Expo, the PM Expo, and the National GreenBuilding Conference will all be under one roof at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre and sharing the latest in products and technology innovations. The show promises more than 1,050 exhibits, 450 speakers, 200 presentations, and some 200 new, green products making their debut. Also among the highlights: an International Architectural Roundtable, an International Interior Design Roundtable, and the International Business Program. For more info, visit www.constructcanada.com.

Ladders Launched At Safety Expo

Little Giant Ladder Systems introduced three new safe ladder products at the National Safety Congress and Expo in Florida. With the American Ladder Institute claiming more than 300 ladder deaths each year – close to one ladder fatality per day – the company says it is committed “to setting the new safety benchmark in the ladder industry.” The launch of its SumoStance, SelectStep, and MicroBurst brands at the Safety Expo will deliver increased side-tip stability, comfortable built-in standing platforms, and solid A-frame structure to professionals and homeowners, the company says.

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October 28, 2009

Cement Producer Wins Energy Award

Toronto-based St Marys Cement, a manufacturer of cement and related construction products, is the first North American industrial organization to receive its Certification in Energy Excellence (CEE). 360 Energy's CEE program identifies leaders in sustainable energy management through independent energy assessments. A presentation was made by David Arkell, president of 360 Energy, and Ottawa Orleans MPP Phil McNeely, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy & Infrastructure. "Completing the Certification Program is not about filling in forms. It's about demonstrating real results and measurable performance improvements…. By engaging in the CEE Program, St. Marys Cement was able to save $550,000 annually," said Bowmanville plant manager, Fabio Garcia, during the ceremony.

Koch To Speak At Green Building Show

Stephen Koch, executive director of the North American Insulation Manufacturers' Association Canada (NAIMA), will speak at the GreenPrint Conference – a one-day seminar covering cost-effective and energy efficient building enclosures. Scheduled for Nov. 12, 2009 in Toronto, Koch will discuss energy efficiency in buildings, consumer choice, building codes, and how to move the process forward in a strategic way. The event is hosted by the Ontario Building Envelope Council and will also include topics such as Green Roofs, the Green Energy Act, and Integration of the Building Envelope and Mechanical Systems. For more information, visit www.obec.on.ca.

Baergen Set For CHHMA Breakfast

Rod Baergen, general merchandise manager, Federated Co-operatives Limited, will speak at the next Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association’s (CHHMA) breakfast meeting. Set for Nov. 23 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON, Baergen will provide an update on the transition to the buying group Spancan, how Federated Co-op has weathered the past year, and what to expect in the coming year. For more info, visit http://www.chhma.ca.

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October 27, 2009

Miralis Transfers Ownership

Miralis, a Canadian manufacturer of kitchen cabinetry, is now under new ownership. Its founder, Jean-Paul Lauzier, has officially transferred power to its new successors: Daniel Drapeau, Donald Brisson, Philippe Lauzier, and Harold Belanger – who now collectively own the entire company. The acquisition is seen “as a step forward towards an even more prosperous future,” the company says, and is fully supported by its 220 employees.

Lowering Prices Set For Discussion

How to drive the spending power of consumers through lower selling prices is the topic up for discussion at the Economic Club of Canada’s next seminar. Set for Nov. 3 at The Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto, ‘Economic Growth Through Lower Consumer Prices’ will feature a presentation by Dene Rogers, president and CEO, Sears Canada, on how prices can be lowered so that Canadian consumers can enjoy a higher real income, thus driving economic growth. For more information, visit www.economicclub.ca.

GTA New Home Sales Surge

New home sales in the Greater Toronto Area increased 113 per cent compared with Sept. 2008, says the Building Industry & Land Development Association (BILD). According to RealNet Canada Inc., BILD’s independent source of new home market intelligence, there were 3,883 new homes and condos sold in the GTA in September. Sales of new low-rise (single-detached, semi-detached and townhomes) homes were up 134 per cent, while sales of high-rise condo suites were up 95 per cent. Acknowledging that comparisons with September 2008 are misleading due to the impact of the global economic crisis which set in that month, BILD president and CEO Stephen Dupuis says that that the 3,883 new homes and condos sold in September 2009 compare favourably with the 3,972 units sold in 2007.

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October 26, 2009

JELD-WEN Backs Canadian Curling

JELD-WEN Windows and Doors has signed on to sponsor the Jennifer Jones curling team until 2011, as part of their ongoing support of Canadian sport, the company says. The two-year sponsorship will give the team needed funds to help them reach their 2010 Olympic goals in Vancouver. Jennifer Jones is the current Canadian champion skip and her team has been top ranked in Canada for the past four years. “As a sponsor to team Kerry Burtnyk, the Canadian Women’s Bandy team and various NHL (Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadians) and AHL (Manitoba Moose) teams, JELD-WEN is committed to supporting sport in Canada,” says Sante Cigana, Canadian vice-president of JELD-WEN Windows and Doors.

Economic Recovery In Motion

The transition to economic recovery appears to be happening at a swift pace, according to a special report by Scotia Economics. The report, entitled 'What A Difference A Year Makes!' finds that for developed nations, such as the U.S. and Canada, hit hard by the recession, leading financial and economic indicators are looking up. “With the global banking system coming back to life, credit is beginning to flow and the wheels of international trade are slowly beginning to turn," said Aron Gampel, deputy chief economist, Scotiabank. In addition, "small businesses have the benefit of flexibility – being able to adapt to change easily and take advantage of opportunities quickly," said Kyle McNamara, managing director and head, small business, Scotiabank. "By accounting for the unexpected and building it into a business plan, small business owners are able to mitigate risk and be in a position for growth."

Gray Tools Launches Line

Family-owned Gray Tools Canada Inc. launched its ‘Dynamic’ line of hand tools – the largest product expansion in Gray’s 97 years in business. With a product assortment in excess of 1,100 SKUs, the new line is designed for professional users in industrial, construction, and trades. The laser etching on the sockets and wrenches make selection of the right sizes easier, the company says, and its pliers and screwdrivers feature ergonomic and highly visible handles making them easier to find in the toolbox. The new line can be found at industrial, automotive, and MRO supply distributors across Canada.

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October 23, 2009

Retail Sales Climb

Retail sales increased 0.8 per cent in August to $34.5 billion, making up for the decline in July, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales at gasoline stations and new car dealers were behind the bulk of growth. Year-over-year, sales in August 2009 were 3.7 per cent lower than in August 2008 and, in volume terms, retail sales increased 0.4 per cent in August. Sales in the building and outdoor home supplies store sector was up 0.5 per cent, marking a second consecutive monthly increase. Despite the upward trend in 2009, sales in this sector have not yet offset the substantial decrease in December 2008.

Black & Decker 3Q Profit Down

Black & Decker had third-quarter profit of $55.4 million, down from $85.8 million in the same period a year ago. Sales decreased 23 per cent for the quarter to $1.2 billion, including a negative three per cent impact from foreign currency translation. Revenue fell to $1.21 billion from $1.57 billion. Its fastening and assembly systems segment was off 24 per cent and its power tools business, its biggest division, saw sales fall 21 per cent to $869.5 million. "Black & Decker reported modestly better sales than our initial guidance, primarily due to the timing of certain promotional sales and favourable currency translation, despite persistent economic challenges,” said Nolan D. Archibald, chairman and CEO. “Sales declined in most other parts of the world, with a 30 per cent decline in Canada… Sales in the Hardware and Home Improvement segment decreased 17 per cent for the quarter versus the prior year, with similar declines in the U.S. lockset and faucet businesses.”

Consumers Prudently Handling Economy

Canadian consumers are handling the economic downturn with resolve, says a study by Sun Life Financial, as 60 per cent have reduced their debt and 59 per cent say they have spent less since January. The second edition of the Sun Life Financial Canadian Unretirement Index also found that 55 per cent of Canadians now believe they will be retired at age 66, up from 51 per cent in December 2008. As well, Canadians who use a financial advisor are more confident in their futures – 86 per cent feel they are making better decisions about their finances, and only 37 per cent of those with an advisor said they now expect to work longer than originally expected, compared to 48 per cent without an advisor. "In December 2008 we saw that many Canadian workers were conflicted about their retirement prospects, but now, almost a year later, there's an increased confidence," said Dean Connor, president, Sun Life Financial Canada. "According to our survey, paying housing expenses is the number one financial priority of Canadian workers until about age 51, when retirement saving takes over as the top priority."

Moen Unveils Green Faucet

Moen Canada introduced its first green kitchen faucet. The ‘Dorsey Eco-Performance’ kitchen faucet allows users to switch between three water-flow settings for everyday tasks. For tasks that require a constant, yet low-water flow, such as washing dishes or preparing foods, the settings provide a reduced flow rate of 6.6 litres per minute (L/min), which translates up to a 32 per cent water savings. However, for tasks that require a set amount of water, such as filling a pot or pitcher, they can press a button to bring the flow back to the standard 8.3 L/min rate.

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October 22, 2009

Reno Tax Credit Boosting Interest

Sixty-three per cent of Canadian renovators plan to take advantage of the federal home renovation tax credit (HRTC) this year and 47 per cent say they’ve done more renovations because of the tax break, says a study by RBC. Conducted by Ipsos Reid, the RBC Renovation Study also found that 76 per cent who are planning to renovate will pay for most or all of it with cash or savings, versus 70 per cent in 2008, which marks a shift in the way Canadians finance home improvements. And fewer, 24 per cent, plan to use a credit card to pay for their upgrades this year, compared to 32 per cent in 2008. Although more say they have completed renovations this year because of the tax credit, the study found that fewer homeowners (66 per cent) intend to renovate over the next two years (compared to 70 per cent in 2008). Although intentions to renovate are down, potential renovators expect to spend more on their renovations with the average amount moving up steadily to $11,272 in 2009 from $8,834 in 2005. Sixty-two per cent are renovating to make their home more attractive, while 18 per cent are doing so to make their home easier to sell. As well, 35 per cent plan to take on upgrades only including exterior renovations (67 per cent), general renovations such as painting and floors (64 per cent), bathrooms (41 per cent) and kitchens (36 per cent).

Stanley 3Q Results Down

Stanley Works Co.’s third-quarter net income was $60.4 million, down 63 per cent from $163 million in the third quarter of 2008. Revenue also fell16 per cent to $935.5 million from $1.12 billion. However, the company’s security segment – electronic and mechanical security products, software, and other equipment – posted an increase in profit by 13 percent, to $84 million. Its industrial tool segment posted a profit of $19 million, down 53 per cent from the year-ago period. Weak demand for industrial tools and storage, and continued inventory liquidation were behind the quarterly numbers, said the company.

Plumbing Fixtures, Fittings Demand To Rise

U.S. demand for plumbing fixtures and fittings in is expected to grow 1.9 per cent every year through 2013 to $10.8 billion, says a new study from research firm, The Freedonia Group, Inc.  The study, ‘Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings,’ says gains will be driven by the rebounding U.S. residential construction market, and continuing consumer interest in homes with more and larger bathrooms will promote demand for fixtures and associated fittings. Gains in plumbing product shipments will lag that of demand as imports expand at a rapid pace through 2013.  As for plumbing fixtures, demand is forecast to advance 2.6 per cent per year to $5.9 billion in 2013. Plumbing fittings is forecast to rise one per cent per year to $4.9 billion in 2013, thanks to consumer interest in bathroom renovation projects and increasing interest in low-flow fittings that reduce water consumption and lower utility bills. 

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October 21, 2009

Leading Economic Indicators Up

The composite leading index for September increased by 1.1 per cent, marking its fourth straight gain, says Statistics Canada. Seven of the 10 components in September advanced, with the stock market and housing index leading the way. The housing index rose 4.1 per cent for its fifth consecutive increase. Yet the advance spread from existing home sales to housing starts in September, which posted the largest gains since March 2008. The growth in housing demand was reflected in furniture and appliance sales, which levelled off after seven straight declines. Consumer spending on other durable goods continued to expand as well, as employment solidified over the summer. Two of the three manufacturing indicators also advanced, while the ratio of shipments to inventories posted its first back-to-back increases since March 2007.

Boomer Retirements Threaten Economy

The large proportion of baby-boomer business owners set to retire represents a serious threat to the economy, says the BMO Retirement Institute survey – unless some important mitigating steps are taken. Fifty per cent of business owners over 45 plan on retiring over the next 10 years, and 81 per cent do not have a formal succession plan in place. While four in 10 plan to close down their business when they fully retire, having a succession plan or exit strategy in place could minimize the number of business closures upon retirement. "The process of succession planning should begin well in advance of the target retirement date since it can take years to develop a comprehensive plan," said Tina Di Vito, director, retirement strategies, BMO Financial Group. However, the survey also found that four in 10 owners over 45 have revised their retirement date due to the recession. If the attitude towards working longer lingers even as the recession eases, it will reduce the number of small business owners who will retire within the next 10 years. That is good news for the economy," added Di Vito.

Sherwin-Williams Expects 2009 Drop

Sherwin-Williams Co. said it expects 2009 sales to fall by as much as 12.5 per cent from 2008, all due to economic troubles that have hurt demand across all segments. Third-quarter earnings fell 1 per cent to $175.2 million, and revenue decreased 12 per cent to $2 billion. While sales to residential, commercial, consumer and global customers have been hit, the company says stricter cost controls have helped them deal with the conditions. "We have seen limited improvements in DIY and other end-user areas of our business but not to an extent that indicates any significant recovery or sustainable growth from the depressed markets of the past year," CEO Christopher Connor said.

Hyde Tools Announces Executive Change

Hyde Tools, Inc., a manufacturer of paint and surface preparation hand tools, selected Rob Scoble as top operational officer for the company. As executive vice-president and Chief Operating Officer, he will oversee Hyde’s professional products and industrial blade divisions, both headquartered in Southbridge, Massachusetts. The company also announced it selected a new partner agency for national media buying and public relations, Six-Point Creative Works, Inc.

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October 20, 2009

Independent Retailers Contribute To Economy

Independent retailers are the forefront of local commerce, says the Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) Independent Retailer Task Force. In celebration of Small Business Week, this Task Force – made up of independent retailers from across Canada – released the results of a year-long research initiative into small business retailing in Canada. It also held town hall meetings in all regions of the country. The Task Force found that independent retailers provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, while generating employment for local accountants, realtors, security professionals, marketers, technologists, and others who support the sector. Despite challenging economic conditions, independent retailers also report continuing sponsorship of sports teams and community donations. According to research, 91 per cent surveyed give back in some way to their communities. In a 12 month period, 84 per cent surveyed said they gave between $1,000 and $10,000 to their communities; 12 per cent gave more than $10,000. As well, the close ties independent retailers have with their community stems in part from the close ties of the retail business: 71 per cent of independent retailers in Canada operate as a family business, some representing decades of work and generations of families.

Miele Gallery Opens In Toronto

The first North American, independently owned Miele Gallery has opened in Toronto, ON. Caplan’s Appliances features a 2,500 square-foot gallery displaying the German-based Miele line of appliances, intended to meet the needs of consumers and designers. Customers can also fully experience the products available in the gallery’s active kitchen. The Caplan's third-generation family business has offered kitchen and laundry appliances for 60 years. Miele currently has 47 subsidiaries in 38 countries.

IKEA Wins Retail Advertising Award

IKEA Canada was awarded top honours in their category at the Retail Advertising and Marketing Club of Canada (RAC Canada) Awards Gala. IKEA Canada's advertising campaign was awarded best in the Large Mass Retailer category, after being recognized alongside the work of Canadian Tire and Indigo Books & Music. The RAC Retail Advertising Awards were created to recognize the retail advertisers who best communicate with their customers in the most impactful way. "What makes this award very special is we were chosen by our peers in the retail industry who value the creative and strategic insight that goes into developing impactful campaigns for our brand," says Kerri Molinaro, President, IKEA Canada.

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October 19, 2009

U.S. Construction Market To Rise

The level of U.S. construction starts in 2010 is expected to climb 11 per cent to $466.2 billion, following the 25 per cent decline predicted for 2009, says McGraw-Hill Construction, North America provider of construction project information. The forecast is primarily a result of the improvements for housing from extremely low levels and broader expansion for public works. The ‘2010 Construction Outlook’ also found that single family housing will advance 32 per cent in dollars, corresponding to a 30 per cent increase in the number of units to 560,000. Multifamily housing will also improve 16 per cent in dollars and 14 per cent in units, after steep reductions in 2008 and 2009. “The benefits from the stimulus act will broaden in scope, lifting not just highway construction but also environmental public works and several institutional structure types,” said Robert A. Murray, vice-president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction.

Memorial Built With Eldorado Stone

A memorial wall made of Eldorado Stone, and distributed by Can-Save, was unveiled in Kingston, ON recently. A gathering at the Royal Military College (RMC) marked the presentation of the wall, which is approximately 130 feet long, over six feet high, serpentine in shape, and can hold 132 plaques that will contain names and achievements of RMC’s cadets. Can-Save reports that it has been distributing Eldorado Stone since launching it at EXPO 2009 with tremendous success.

Fall Protection Company Celebrates 20 Years

Norguard Industries, a manufacturer of fall protection equipment, announced that it is celebrating its 20th anniversary in business. "Norguard has formed valued relationships over the past twenty years with our suppliers, distributors and the workers who wear the Norguard brand. We thank them for their continued support and look forward to our mutual success over the next twenty years,” said Norm Desjardins, president and founder. The company began by improving the safety and comfort of miners. Working at the mine himself, Desjardins says he saw firsthand the discomfort workers felt after hours of operating. That, combined with industry concern over safety protection, sparked the solution that now forms the foundation of the company today.

DeWaltt Launches Lithium Ion Line

DeWALT has launched a new line of compact lithium ion power tools including a drill driver, impact driver, hammerdrill, and right angle drill. The company says the small, lightweight design makes them ideal for cabinetmakers, HVAC professionals, as well as electrical, mechanical and general contractors who perform overhead drilling and fastening applications. The lithium ion battery charges in 30 minutes and is compatible with the existing system of DeWALT 18V power tools.

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October 16, 2009

WD-40 Beats Expectations

WD-40 Co. reports that its fourth-quarter profit rose 64 per cent and that net income increased to $7.6 million – thanks to lower costs and slightly higher sales. The company’s shares briefly rose to a 52-week high after it released its quarterly results, and beat analyst expectations. "During the quarter, margin benefited from stabilization in the cost of petroleum-based products as well as positive impacts from investments related to our supply chain we made during the year," said Garry Ridge, WD-40 president and CEO.  

Gift Show Announces Dates

The Canadian Gift and Tableware Association (CGTA) announced the dates for its upcoming Spring 2010 Gift Show. Intended for qualified retail buyers, it will run from January 31st to February 4th, 2010, at the Toronto International Centre and the Toronto Congress Centre. The show will feature more than 930 exhibitors, new ‘Product Galleries,’ a ‘Kitchen Spotlight,’ and ‘Showcase Canada,’ a collection of Canadian-designed and manufactured products. For more information, visit http://www.cgta.org/giftshow.asp.

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October 15, 2009

Toronto Driving Home Insulation Upgrades

The City of Toronto announced its Home Energy Assistance Toronto (HEAT) program, offering residents up to $1,000 when they upgrade their home insulation. All residents of low-rise residential properties, such as detached, semi-detached houses, and townhomes, can take advantage of HEAT, designed to encourage Torontonians to increase their home's energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Running until March 2012, HEAT is in partnership with the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes, and means that residents can now access insulation grants of up to $8,750 in total from all three levels of government. Homeowners interested in HEAT can follow the steps outlined by ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes, which include hiring a Certified Energy Advisor to conduct a Home Energy Assessment, both before and after renovations. For more information, visit http://www.livegreentoronto.ca.

TIM-BR MART Names Ont. Development Manager

TIM-BR MART named Jim Young its dealer development manager in Ontario. As part of his new position, he will assist TIM-BR MART retailers with business development and merchandising, along with hardware placement and procurement. Prior to joining TIM-BR MART, Young worked at hardware wholesaler D.H. Howden & Co., formerly Sodisco-Howden Group, before joining EDI service provider LBMX in London, ON.

Dixon Heads IRLY Business Development

IRLY Distributors promoted Brad Dixon to director of business development, purchasing, and branding. As 17-year veteran of IRLY, Dixon will be responsible for hiring an assistant to the hardware buyers and hiring a building materials customer service representative. Prior to his new position, he worked as IRLY’s manager of business development.

Calgary Co-op Appoints CEO

The Calgary Co-operative Association Limited named Deane Collinson its CEO, effective Oct. 20. He will replace Ken McCullough, who served as CEO since 2004, and is now vice-president, retail division, at Federated Co-operatives in Saskatoon. Before joining the association, Collinson held the position of executive vice-president of operations for Cadillac Fairview Corporation in Toronto, and was also a part of Loblaw Companies Limited for more than 23 years.

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October 14, 2009

Walmart To Host Green Business Summit

Walmart Canada will host a Green Business Summit, bringing together business leaders, government officials, NGOs, and environmentalists on February 10, 2010 at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. The full-day Summit will feature plenary discussions, workshops, and networking events meant to stimulate the sharing of eco-friendly best practices and new ideas. There will be a focus on Energy, Waste & Material Management, Green Products & Solutions, and Employee Green Engagement. Environmentalist, Dr. David Suzuki, will provide the keynote address. "We believe business can change the world faster than anyone," said David Cheesewright, president & CEO of Walmart Canada. "We are bringing some of Canada's top business leaders together to accelerate change for a better environment."

Linens ‘N Things Returning To Store Shelves

Through a new license agreement with Home Outfitters, a division of Hudson’s Bay Company, Linens ‘N Things items will head back to store shelves after being forced to shut down a year ago. As part of the deal, Home Outfitters will sell a special line of Linens ‘N Things products, including bed and bath, home décor, and seasonal products, at its 69 Canadian stores next spring, through to 2016. The Hilco Consumer Capital family of retail properties, owners of both Linens ’N Things and Hudson’s Bay Company, says the agreement is expected to generate more than $100 million in retail sales. Linens ’N Things liquidated its stores last year and has, since then, been selling its goods online only.

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October 13, 2009

Housing Starts Decline

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts reached 150,100 units in September, compared to 157,300 units in August, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). "The decline in housing starts in September is attributable to the volatile multiple starts segment," said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "However, starts of single homes, which are a barometer of the trend in housing markets, climbed in September to reach their highest level so far this year.” The annual rate of urban starts fell by 5.2 per cent to 131,500 units in September. Urban multiple starts decreased by 21.4 per cent to 62,700 units, and urban single starts rose 16.8 per cent to 68,800 units in September. Provincially, September's rate of urban starts increased by 11.8 per cent in Ontario, decreased by 20.2 per cent in Quebec, by 18.1 per cent in BC, and by 4.7 per cent in the Atlantic, and was unchanged in the Prairies. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,600 units in September.

Home Depot Expands Junior Hockey

The Home Depot Canada is expanding its Community Hockey Program to include nine new junior hockey teams. With the additions, the company now supports 56 Junior Canadian University and American Hockey league teams with funding and volunteer support for local community hockey events and initiatives. The newest members of The Home Depot’s Community Hockey Program include teams located in Port Alberni, BC; Campbell River, BC; Collingwood, ON; Cowichan, BC; Halifax, NS; Mississauga, ON; Montreal, QC; Okotoks, BC; and Sarnia, ON. As part of the program, each team will be paired with a local Home Depot store and will work together to bring the partnership to life through Backyard Rink Contests, On the Bench know-how coaching clinics, and innovative in-arena experiences for fans.

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 October 9, 2009

Canadian Tire Presents Awards Of Excellence

Four Canadian Tire Associate Dealers with stores in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island have received Awards of Excellence. As well, Pat Higgins, Associate Dealer of its Uxbridge store, was honoured with the 2009 Community Involvement Award. These owners and operators were recognized at the company's annual convention in Toronto, among Canadian Tire's 475 Associate Dealers from across the country. The Award of Excellence celebrates outstanding focus on customer service, retail leadership, store team development, and outreach in the community. The following Dealers received the 2009 awards: Al Abbott, Associate Dealer, Nanaimo, BC; David Urso, Associate Dealer, Bowmanville, ON; Raymond Gagné, Associate Dealer, Longueuil, QC; Ken MacEachern, Associate Dealer, Charlottetown, PEI.

Costco 4Q Profits Down

Costco Wholesale Corporation net sales were $21.89 billion for its 2009 fourth quarter ended August 30, 2009, a decrease of three per cent from $22.63 billion in the same period last year. Net sales for the 52-week fiscal year 2009 were $69.89 billion, a decrease of two percent from $70.98 billion for the same amount of time in 2008. Fourth quarter net income was $374 million compared to $398 million in fourth quarter 2008. Richard Galanti, Chief Financial Officer of Costco, said fiscal 2009 results, including the fourth quarter, were negatively impacted by “on-going softness in U.S. sales, primarily the result of a weak economic environment; higher employee benefit costs, mainly consisting of higher health care eligibility and usage; and lower U.S. dollar amounts of international profits as a result of weaker foreign currencies."

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 October 8, 2009

Building Permit Value Up

Building permits totalled $5 billion in August, a gain of 7.2 per cent from July, says Statistics Canada. The increase in construction intentions was primarily behind the gains in Ontario and B.C. As well, the end of the municipal employees strike in Toronto in July contributed to the increase. Municipalities issued $2.9 billion worth of building permits in August in the residential sector, an 11.2 per cent increase, and $2.1 billion in the non-residential sector, a 2.2 per cent increase. The value of August building permits increased in Ontario, B.C., and Alberta. The largest declines were in Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. The value of building permits for multi-family dwellings rose 2.6 per cent to $841.7 million in August, with B.C. registered the largest decline in dollar terms and Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec posting gains in construction intentions for multi-family dwellings.

Home Depot, Habitat For Humanity Join Efforts

The Home Depot Canada Foundation, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada, kicked-off its Sustainable Housing Grant Program. Their joint efforts aim to help fuel Habitat's existing National Sustainable Build Program by providing additional funding for environmentally sustainable builds that adhere to recognized sustainable standards or include sustainable building techniques and materials. The Home Depot Canada Foundation donated more than $930,000 which will be put towards "green" Habitat builds across the country to provide cost efficient homes for families who often have to make a choice between life's necessities, such as housing and food. In addition to funding, the Home Depot's volunteer force of associates will also provide volunteer hours on each build supported by the program. Over the last three years, more than 35 Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country have been awarded grants for their sustainable builds by The Home Depot Canada.

Black & Decker Introduces Products

Black & Decker says its newly launched All-in-1 Socket Wrench will end the frustration associated with finding the correct socket. Its ReadyWrench puts 16 of the most popular standard (SAE) and metric socket sizes in one hand tool, eliminating the need to stop and sort through a socket set to find the right size. The company also launched its LINEFINDER Orbital Jigsaw with SmartSelect Technology, which promises more precise jigsaw cuts. Black & Decker says the product clears up confusion regarding the number of performance settings to use depending on cutting application. The jigsaw’s SmartSelect Technology “does the thinking for its users” and automatically adjusts the orbital setting and speed for optimal results.

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October 7, 2009

RONA Celebrating 70 Years

RONA is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding, at some 700 stores and other locations across Canada. RONA president and CEO Robert Dutton says the internal celebrations are “above all” to show its gratitude to employees. "RONA was born out of the determination of the business visionaries that have steered our course from 1939 until today. The contribution made by RONA affiliate dealer-owners is at the very core of our success and remains vital as ever to our continued growth," he said. The retailer had its start back in October 6, 1939, when a half dozen Quebec hardware dealers founded Les Marchands en Quincaillerie Limitee with a mission to "pursue wholesale and retail commerce as hardware and ironware dealers." A few years later, Rolland Dansereau and Napoleon Piotte took over management of the organization and formed Quincaillerie Ro-Na, using the first two letters of their names.

Video Game Makes Remodeling Fun

A new fast-paced home improvement game, meant to make remodeling “a fun, social experience” is set to hit stores as Majesco Entertainment launches ‘Our House: Party! for the Nintendo Wii and DS. The game allows you to plan, design, build, remodel, and decorate homes, while racing through a virtual Home Depot picking up tool upgrades and increasing the value of custom homes. The game features more than two dozen projects, such as Bathroom Remodel and Garden Renovation, made up of over 175 mini-games including Hammer Time, Demolition Derby, and Green Thumb. “Your tool belt needs only the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in it to hammer, saw, paint and more,” the company says.

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October 6, 2009

Home Depot, Owens Corning Expand Relationship

Owens Corning PINK Fiberglas insulation will be sold, as of January 2010, in more than 2,200 of The Home Depot's stores across North America, thanks to an expanded relationship between the two companies. "This strategic partnership allows us to bring together the combined brand power of Owens Corning and The Home Depot," said Tom Quigley, vice-president and general manager of Owens Corning's Insulation Business. The Home Depot says the announcement is in line with its Eco Options program, as Owens Corning products help increase energy efficiency, contain leading levels of certified recycled content for fiberglass insulation, and is GREENGUARD Certified to meet indoor air quality standards. The move also comes on the heels of a similar announcement made by Lowe’s recently, making Johns Manville its exclusive building insulation provider.

Decking Producers Plan Partnership

Alberta-based Wood Composite Technologies Inc. announced it will enter a new strategic arrangement with Westech Building Products Limited, a producer of window and door systems as well as vinyl fence, deck, and rail components. The term sheet with Westech addresses custom extrusion of its Millennium Decking product and will involve the licensed and/or leased use of extruders owned by the company and the patented material and pellets produced at the Nisku, Alberta facility. John Greenwood, president and CEO of Wood Composite Technologies, stated: "we are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Westech team; we believe the arrangement will provide for certain immediate efficiencies for our operation and additional future potential for both companies." Additional details of the arrangement will soon be released, the companies say.

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October 5, 2009

Lowe’s, Johns Manville Form Alliance

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. and Johns Manville announced an exclusive multi-year agreement, making Johns Manville an exclusive insulation supplier to Lowe’s.  The companies say the strategic alliance will mean increased access to advanced insulation technology for energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality under one roof at nearly 1,700 Lowe’s stores. “At a time when energy awareness and healthy home are top of mind, Johns Manville is the market leader in providing insulation products that can improve air quality and are easier to use for consumers,” said Nick Canter, Lowe’s executive vice-president of merchandising.  “Through this new, multi-year agreement, we will enhance a very productive relationship that has already benefited Lowe’s customers for well over a decade.”

Richelieu Reports 3Q Results

Richelieu, North American supplier of specialty hardware, reported net earnings of $8.9 million for the third quarter of 2009, compared to net earnings of $9.6 million for the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year. The company says it’s happy with its financial position with a positive cash balance, working capital of $147.4 million for a current ratio of 4.6:1 and almost no debt. Richard Lord, president and CEO, says he was "pleased with these results, which were achieved even though the business context was somewhat more difficult for our activities in the manufacturers market, especially in the United States, Central and Western Canada.”

Sears Opens Dealer Store

Sears Canada opened a new 3,600 sqare-foot Dealer Store in Ingersoll, ON. Locally owned and operated by Jim Kay, the store will house a range of major appliances, mattresses, fitness items, air & water treatment products, tools, electronics, and lawn products, including its exclusive Kenmore and Craftsman brands. "Customers will be delighted with the broad range of top-quality products Sears has provided for the new store," Kay said.

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October 2, 2009

Experts Reveal Trends At Show

Renovation experts at the Fall Home Show in Toronto are reporting a wide range of trends among homeowners this past year. Among the 250 home and decor specialists at the show, running from Oct. 1 to 4, Joel Scopelleti of Carick Home Improvements says many people are sticking with traditional looks while still striving for that contemporary feel. During tough economic times, renovations tend to be on the safe side, to ensure longevity, but homeowners are choosing to infuse modern looks where they can he says. Corina Frustaglio of DreamBuilders, as well, says renovation colours as a whole this past year have been more safe and neutral, but many are spicing-up parts of the home with bold accent walls, pillows, and other pieces. She also says they've been busy knocking down walls and opening up home spaces, especially kitchens. A PROBUILT renovation consultant says she also feels many homeowners are focusing on kitchens since it's now the most important area in the house. As many put off vacationing this year, entertaining at home has become bigger and kitchens remain the focal point “ featuring much more functionality, convenience, and space for families. For more information, visit http://www.fallhomeshow.com.

CanWel Announces Executive Change

CanWel Building Materials Income Fund reports that Tom Donaldson will retire as president and CEO of the Fund and its subsidiaries, effective January 31, 2010. At that time, Amar Doman, Chairman of the Board of CanWel will assume the role and responsibilities of president and CEO. "I have had a wonderful career working with the CanWel team, and I am proud of our achievements in creating what CanWel is today, including our initial listing on the TSX and subsequent conversion to an income trust. I will be leaving CanWel on a day-to-day basis to enter retirement, spend more time with my family in Atlantic Canada and to pursue other opportunities and challenges. I will be continuing as a member of the CanWel Board, and look forward to working with Amar as he maps out CanWel's exciting future, Donaldson said.

Sears Launches HRTC Time Guarantee

Sears Canada has launched its installation time guarantees for the federal government's Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) for residential renovations and improvements. The company says it's the first national retailer to announce installation guarantees that ensure qualifying home renovations will be completed in time to meet the eligibility period of the HRTC. "For those still considering undergoing renovations that qualify for the HRTC rebate and wishing to get the work done in the latter part of the qualifying period, this installation time guarantee is the answer," said Dene Rogers, president and CEO, Sears Canada Inc. Installation time guarantees will be advertised in coming weeks, with the first being announced for replacement roofs. Homeowners who call Sears prior to October 15th, 2009 are guaranteed to have their roof installation completed by the deadline.

Canadian Tire Awards Top Retailers

Canadian Tire announced 13 Marketing and Merchandising Awards for high achievements important to successful retailing, across the country. The awards given out were:Most Impactful Merchandising “ Peter Oliver, Toronto, ON; Best Auto Centre “ Ross Saito, Cambie, B.C; Best Summer Seasonal Merchandising “ Stephan Laurion, Leduc, QC; Best Store Opening “ Kevin Smith, Cochrane, ON and Pierre Lauzon, Dolbeau, QC; Best Traditional Small Store “ Jason Smith, Ingersoll, ON; Best Local Event Marketing “ Dom Fox, Lindsay, ON; Best Christmas Set-Up “ Ralph Moulton, Cobourg, ON; Patrick Higgins, Uxbridge, ON; and Jean-Pierre Cronier, Hearst, ON.

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October 1, 2009

Bridlewood Home Hardware Opens Doors

Bridlewood Home Hardware officially opened its doors today, featuring more than 14,000 square feet of retail space and a 3,500 square-foot garden centre. Located in the community of Bridlewood, southwest of Kanata, ON, the new store is also certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED). “Our team has been working tirelessly over the past year to ensure that this new store would be finished on time and exceed the public’s expectations,” said Chuck Hillock, dealer-owner Bridlewood Home Hardware, as well as dealer-owner of Capital Home Hardware in Ottawa.To mark the occasion, grand opening celebrations will include a weekend-long sale with extended store hours and door crasher prizes, including a $4,000 suite at an Ottawa Senators game and a Home Furniture gift card valued at $500. The store will also host a charity barbeque with all proceeds going to the March of Dimes. Home Hardware’s garden expert, Mark Cullen, and the #4 Home Hardware NASCAR will make special appearances.

Business Owners Reveal Optimism

Canada's small businesses believe conditions are good and will get even better as the year draws to a close, says the STAPLES Canada Quarterly Index. Conducted by Angus Reid Strategies through interviews with owners and executives of small businesses, the index found that 45 per cent now feel that current economic conditions are "good" or "very good" – up from 31 per cent who felt that way in Q1 2009. As well, optimism for further improvement in the economy over the next three months was strong, with 47 per cent expecting things to get better before the year is out; while Atlantic Canada continues to be a bright spot in actual business growth over the past three months, with significantly more (about 20 per cent) small businesses there reporting gains than those in Ontario and the West. Despite the optimism, however, roughly half of Canada's small businesses (52 per cent) say they are still cutting costs and/or payroll to cope with current pressures. "While we aren't out of the woods yet, we are beginning to see positive changes in our country's economy, a shift that many entrepreneurs recognize as well," says economist Dana Peterson.

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September 30, 2009

Canadian Tire, MasterCard Launch 'Curve'

Canadian Tire Financial Services and MasterCard Worldwide have introduced a uniquely shaped credit card, featuring ‘contactless’ PayPass technology. The Canadian Tire Curve MasterCard, tailored to young professionals, will provide cash rewards on new purchases made at over 29 million merchants worldwide and has no annual fee. The card is meant to deliver more flexibility, says Jim Kozack, vice president, marketing, Canadian Tire Financial Services Limited, and is the first of its kind in Canada.

Canada’s Softwood Appeal Rejected

Canada’s bid to pay a reduced fine of $46.7-million (U.S.) for breaching the softwood lumber trade pact with the United States was rejected by an international tribunal. Canada must instead pay the $68 million that was previously ordered last February by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), which found that Canada “failed to implement a remedy prescribed by the LCIA tribunal for Ontario and Quebec lumber producers' 2007 shipments of lumber to the U.S. in excess of their quota levels under the SLA.” As a result of the ruling, Canada will have to impose export charges on softwood lumber destined for the U.S. until the full amount of the fine has been collected.

NAWLA Appoints President

The North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) appointed Gary Vitale to the position of president. In his new position, Vitale will manage the operations of the NAWLA offices and coordinate the volunteer activities of the association officers, directors, and committees. Before becoming president, Vitale served as president and CEO for Hager Lumber.

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September 29, 2009

RONA TV Series Set To Air

RONA Inc. announced that a new reality TV series, ‘My RONA Home,’ will air on Citytv, Sunday, Oct. 4th at 9:00 pm (ET/PT), 8:00 pm (CT/MT). As the first of a 10-part series, the one-hour episode will follow two Calgary families, along with their young children, as they compete to design, construct, and decorate a brand new home, from foundation to finishing touches. Viewers will vote for their favourite home online or by phone – rewarding the winning family with their ‘dream home’ valued at $400,000. Each family will be teamed up with a designer, a contractor, and two assistants, who will work to complete each room within 30 hours. The houses featured in My RONA Home will also have to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which means the families must pay particular attention to energy efficiency, water efficiency, and sustainable materials “At RONA, we are honoured to be the presenters of the first Canadian television show featuring the construction of houses being built to the LEED  Canada for Homes standard,” said Claude Bernier, executive vice-president of marketing and customer innovations.

Can-Save Promotes Piggot

Can-Save announced the promotion of Mike Piggot to the newly created position of national accounts manager. Piggot has worked as territory sales representative for Can-Save since September 2008. He will continue to work with dealers in the Central Ontario region until a suitable candidate is found to take over the territory.

MAAX Hires Kenny

MAAX Bath Inc. has appointed Rick Kenny to the position of key account manager retail, based in Barrie, ON. Before joining MAAX, Kenny worked 26 years with McDonald Sales.

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September 28, 2009

Harmonized Tax Concerns Expressed

Ontario's small businesses are expressing a wide range of concerns regarding the impact of the proposed harmonized sales tax (HST) on consumers and their bottom line, says a new survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Based on responses from nearly 3,000 business owners, the survey found 75 per cent are concerned about being required to charge higher tax rates on goods and services – a negative for consumers. As well, 44 per cent anticipate subsequent growth in the underground economy because of the threat of higher tax rates. The CFIB's Ontario Director, Satinder Chera, says "the decision to finalize the terms and conditions of the HST, without public consultation, has generated mixed reviews and serious concerns within Ontario's small business community." To build confidence on the tax change, the CFIB says it's recommending various measures by the government, such as a reduction in the combined tax rate, increasing the small business transition tax credit to match the cost of implementing the HST, and the introduction of a strong fairness code for small business.

Hudson’s Bay Plans Public Listing

Hudson’s Bay Co., currently owned by U.S. private equity firm NRDC Equity Partners, may soon offer shares to the public again and return to Canadians by the first half of 2011. Richard Baker, governor of NRDC, bought Hudson's Bay, which owns the Bay, Zellers, and Home Outfitters, in 2008. But he revealed plans to take it public again at the recent International Council of Shopping Centres conference in Toronto. He said the offering may include Lord & Taylor, the upscale U.S. department store chain that is now a subsidiary of Hudson's Bay.

Tufx-Fort Announces Move

TufX-Fort Inc., manufacturer of lawn and garden, home and construction, and pro-contractor wheelbarrows, announced a move to a larger facility, doubling its previous location in size. The new facility, located at 35 Baffin Place, Waterloo, Ontario, will enhance its abilities to serve its customers around the world, said Hans Kamphuis, owner of TufX-Fort.

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September 25, 2009

Consumers Upbeat But Skeptical

Canadian consumers remain upbeat, but slightly skeptical, about the prospects for the national economy and employment situation in six months, according to the latest TNS Canadian Facts' Consumer Confidence Index. Tracking Canadians' attitudes about the economy each month and part of a global study conducted by TNS in 18 countries, the index now stands at 98.7, just off from August's 99.2. As well, the Buy Index, which measures the degree to which people think it’s a good time to make major purchases, returned most of its August gains falling 4.6 points from 108.3 to 103.7 this month. "At the top line, not much has changed in the minds of Canadians. But look deeper and you see that they are taking a cautious approach about the good economic news of the past month - they're hearing it, but they are still not yet ready to act upon it by making major purchases en masse," said Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts.

Prepare For Harmonized Tax

Tax experts are warning small businesses of the impact of the harmonized sales tax (HST) set to kick in next summer, and urging precautions now. Thirty-year tax veteran, Keith Rosen, says for businesses that make taxable, rather than exempt, sales, sloppy record keeping will become more expensive. "Businesses, for example, are only allowed to claim half of the input tax credit for meals and entertainment, something that is often overlooked by small businesses that try to claim credit for all of it. With a tax rate increase from five to 13 per cent, the cost of such an error will more than double." As for transition rules, expect them to be specific for individual business types and to prevent playing with the timing of invoicing and receipt of payments. "For someone in a service business that is tempted to offer the ability to prepay for service after June, watch out for upcoming transitional rules which may trap you or the people you are charging," said Rosen.

Housing Market Experiences Gains

Low interest rates, pent-up demand, and improved affordability levels have made this recession one of the shortest on record for real estate, says a new report by RE/MAX. The RE/MAX Bricks and Mortar Report finds that housing values are already ahead of record-breaking 2008 levels in seven of 11 markets surveyed, including Newfoundland-Labrador (18.1 per cent year to $203,584), Winnipeg (3.5 per cent to $207,006), Ottawa (3.3 per cent to $301,684), and Toronto (up 0.3 per cent to $385,978). Nationally, average price hovers at $312,585, up 0.5 per cent over one year ago. Percentage increases in sales from January to August 2009 were led by Vancouver (up 14 per cent), Victoria (up 7.4 per cent), Edmonton (up 6.2 per cent), Regina (up five per cent), Ottawa (up 2.4 per cent) and Toronto (up 1.8 per cent). "The strength of the residential housing sector cross-country has taken many economists and housing analysts by surprise once again," says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, RE/MAX of Western Canada.

Painter’s Tape Gets Greener

3M Canada has introduced its Scotch Painter’s Masking Tape made with 30 per cent post-consumer recycled fibres. The eco-friendly tape also features adhesives that use natural rubber, recyclable shipping cartons, and a tape core made with 90 per cent recycled fibres. Along with the green benefits, the company says it removes cleanly without damaging any surface and without leaving any residue even when left for up to five days.

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September 24, 2009

Létourneau Family Celebrates BMR Opening

The Létourneau family, along with more than 100 customers, inaugurated its new BMR renovation centre in Sherbrooke, QC. The new Materiaux de Construction Létourneau BMR features a retail space of 10,000 square feet, a 130,000 square-foot lumber and building materials yard, and warehouses that total 15,000 square feet. With a total investment of over $3 million, 25 new employment positions were created. This grand opening coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Létourneau family’s other renovation centre in Waterville, QC.

Consumers Will Pay Green Premium

Consumers say they’re willing to pay an average 10 per cent premium for sustainable goods and services, according to a report from the Network for Business Sustainability. The Network, made up of academics, consultants, NGOs, and corporations, commissioned the review of 30 years of research on whether consumers will reward companies for positive sustainability actions by either paying more for socially conscious goods and services or by changing their behaviour.  "What we found is consumers will pay a small green premium, but they are even more likely to make a more socially conscious choice," said June Cotte, associate professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business and lead researcher. "So instead of paying for a green shopping bag, they will bring one from home."

RONA Unveils Wood Procurement Initiatives

RONA Inc. unveiled new initiatives related to the introduction of its wood products procurement policy. It has launched new signage in its corporate and franchise stores across Canada to inform consumers that 90 per cent of the softwood lumber for sale is from forests certified under the Forest Products Marking Program (CSA), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). RONA also announced five of its stores will now exclusively offer softwood lumber from FSC certified forests. Because wood from FSC certified forests is not widely available in Canada, RONA says it wants to make it easier for consumers to have access to such products. By the end of 2010, its goal is that 100 per cent of the softwood lumber – spruce, pine and fir for structural framing – for sale will be from certified forests.

Walmart Launches High-Efficiency Prototype

Walmart Canada has opened its first high-efficiency (HE) prototype store in the community of Waterdown, ON. It is expected to use 30 per cent less energy and will make use of sustainable heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Walmart says the prototype will become the norm for all future stores nationwide. The Supercentre will also feature the company’s first high waste-diversion system, incorporating a number of waste programs including, paper, plastic, organics, polystyrene, wood, and metal recycling and diversion. Walmart intends to one day operate the entire facility waste free. "As we design and build new stores, our goal is to be the greenest business on the block," said David Cheesewright, president and CEO.

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September 23, 2009

Retail Sales Fall

Retail sales fell 0.6 per cent to $34.2 billion in July, according to Statistics Canada, and were down 0.1 per cent in volume terms as well. Sales dropped in five of eight retail sectors in July, including the automotive sector, due to a 3.4 per cent fall in sales at gasoline stations. Sales at furniture, home furnishings, and electronics stores decreased 0.6 per cent in July, following two months of increases. This drop was due to a 2.5 per cent fall in sales at home electronics and appliance stores after a considerable gain in June, reflecting the introduction of new products. The food and beverage sector saw a 1.5 per cent decline in July, reflecting decreases across its various store types. The largest increase was a 1.1 per cent rise in sales at pharmacies and personal care stores, which follows a long-term upward trend.

Retailers Reward Green Purchases

A group of 18 major Canadian retailers and sponsors in the AIR MILES Reward Program have joined forces to participate in ‘My Planet,’ an initiative that encourages choosing eco-friendly products and services. Participating Sponsors include RONA, TIM-BR Mart, Metro, and Lawton Drugs. Starting today, more than 10 million Canadian AIR MILES collectors can earn bonus reward miles when they purchase My Planet-designated products and services available at more than 2,400 AIR MILES Sponsor stores and outlets across Canada. In a recent survey of 2,020 households across Canada, 53 per cent confirmed that bonus reward miles would motivate them to choose eco-friendly products and services. 

Bosch Introduces Corded Drill

Bosch Power Tools & Accessories announced the launch of its 1006VSR 3/8” corded drill, meant to deliver more power in a lighter, more ergonomic way. At 3.4 lbs, the company says it “offers the best power-to-weight ratio in its class.” Available nationwide this fall, the drill also features a 6.3 Amp motor, variable-speed, two-finger trigger, and the ability to dial in speed from 0-2,600 RPM, giving it control and versatility.

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September 22, 2009

RONA, Leafs Refurbish Rinks

RONA Inc. is celebrating its new five-year partnership with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) by announcing that their organizations would team up to refurbish a city-owned arena in Whitby, ON. This marks the first arena that MLSE, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto FC (MLS), and the Toronto Marlies (AHL), has refurbished outside the city of Toronto where the 'Maple Leafs Hard Hats for Hockey' program has completed eight rink refurbishment projects. As part of the program, RONA will contribute labour, materials, and expertise to every rink refurbishment in the City of Toronto. The arena to be refurbished will be determined at a later date with an in-store event at its Whitby store. To mark the occasion, players from each of the four teams – as well as the teams’ dancers and mascots – were at the event to greet the public and sign autographs. The public and invited guests were able to meet and obtain autographs from: Mike Komisarek and François Beauchemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs; Quincy Douby of the Toronto Raptors; Dwayne De Rosario and Jim Brennan of Toronto FC; and Darryl Boyce and Alex Berry from the Toronto Marlies.

Canadian Tire Team Set To Scale Mountain

A team of 20 Canadian Tire employees, dealers, family, and friends will climb Mount Kilimanjaro next month to raise funds for Canadian Tire Jumpstart, a community-based program for helping kids in financial need participate in organized sports and recreation. Each participant will pay for their own trip and then raise additional funds for the program. The initial target was $150,000, enough to help over 1,500 kids, the company says. To date, the goal has been raised to $200,000 with $173,209 raised so far. Before the team departs from Canada on October 12th, many of the participants will organize events at local Canadian Tire stores to help raise money. Mark's Work Wearhouse will support the climb by outfitting the entire Kilimanjaro team.

Retailers Supporting Environmental Programs

Canadian retailers support environmental programs but still face challenges when it comes to adopting best practices, says a new report by Greening Retail, an initiative lead by the Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA). The newly launched report, ‘Best Environmental Practices From Around the World 2009,’ examined 15 of the top best-practice environmental retail leaders in the world and found that grocery store chains are the earliest adopters of environmental best practices, followed by department stores and other large space users, and then specialty stores. However, lack of programs, research, or identified ROI, specifically for the retail sector, is still stifling progress. The 2009 study and redesigned website will be showcased at the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc (ICSC) Canadian Convention Deal Making and Trade Expo, Sept. 21-23 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (booth G3).

Countertop Demand To Rise

U.S. demand for countertops is expected to rise 2.4 per cent every year to 760 million square feet in 2013, according to a new report by The Freedonia Group, Inc. The ‘Countertops’ study finds that the residential remodelling segment will post below-average advances in demand through 2013, while the large stock of homes requiring countertop replacement, as well as consumers’ desire to renovate kitchens and bathrooms, will prompt gains. Engineered and natural stone countertops will experience the strongest gains through 2013, as consumers continue to view these as durable and aesthetically pleasing. Laminate countertops, however, will continue to account for the largest share of sales. The residential market will continue to drive demand through 2013, reflecting a rebound in housing and consumer interest, while the non-residential market is expected to contract through 2013, as decreases in non-residential construction spending limits demand.

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 September 21, 2009

DeWALT Launches Hammerdrill Line

DEWALT launched a line of ½" corded hammerdrills that aim to provide greater performance and versatility while drilling and/or hammerdrilling into wood, metal or masonry. Featuring a high-performance 10 amp motor, a mode collar adjustment, and a new mid-handle grip design, the latest additions (DWD525K and DWD520) are intended for electricians, general contractors, carpenters, plumbers, HVAC professionals, and other professional contractors. The new motor design also has approximately 40 per cent more copper than previous models at the same motor size, along with up to 50 per cent more power and torque.

Price Pfister Expands Electronic Faucets

Price Pfister has introduced its ‘Ponti’ and ‘Corsa’ faucets, featuring the use of electronics that allow homeowners to activate warm or cold water through button control.  As an expansion of its Avanti Collection launched last year, the systems are easy to use, the company says, and take the guess work out of the amount of angle each faucet knob (hot and cold) is required. The Ponti can operate with and without the battery. The Corsa maintains a clean and sleek Italian design, and an Italian valving system that meet strict noise standards to ensure quiet and effective performance in multi-family or commercial settings.

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 September 18, 2009

Composite Up In August

The composite leading index rose by 1.1 per cent in August, after a 0.6 per cent gain in July, says Statistics Canada. The increase was the largest since April 2002. Growth in the leading index usually only exceeds one per cent early in the recovery from a downturn. In August, eight of the 10 components contributed to the advance, up from five the month before, as the manufacturing sector joined the advance.

Made In Canada Bill Tabled

A ‘Made In Canada Procurement Act,’ a private members bill being tabled in the House of Commons, could go a long way toward creating jobs and supporting local economies in Canada, and is a welcome reprieve from anti-protectionist rhetoric from the Harper government, says the Council of Canadians. “All of Canada ’s major trading partners, including the United States , Europe, and China , have ways to prioritize national companies when spending public money on major projects. There’s no reason Canada should not be doing the same when the potential for job creation and economic growth is so promising,” says Maude Barlow , national chairperson. The bill would give a preference to Canadian companies in the transfer of money to the provinces, municipalities, and private companies, or in the direct purchase of goods and services.

Techniseal Celebrates 25th

Techniseal is celebrating 25 years of technical innovation and expertise in the field of Polymeric jointing sand for pavers and manufacturing of advanced care and maintenance products for paver, asphalt, concrete, roofing, and exterior wood. President Al Dorais congratulated his numerous collaborators for a job well done, and thanked his faithful clients. The company also unveiled its ‘Plus Technology.’ This technology was developed for its new generation of Polymeric jointing sand for pavers. It also unveiled eco-friendly lines of paver and exterior wood protectors.

U.S. Buyers Unwilling To Pay More

U.S. home buyers want more efficient homes, they are unwilling to pay much more for a ‘green’ home, says a survey from the National Association of Home Builders. It says while there is significant interest in green building, cost effectiveness is clearly a key concern among home buyers. Among buyers who are willing to pay more for green features, more than half – 57 per cent – are unlikely to pay more than an additional two per cent. Preferences for specific green techniques are regional. Builders in the West reported greater interest in water efficiency. The Northeast, where the fewest new homes are built, showed high interest in homes constructed with recycled materials.

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September 17, 2009

HRTC Information Available

‘The Home Renovation Tax Credit, your customers and you!’ is now available on the CRA website. It provides information on how retailers can make their customers aware of the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) as well as how to provide them with the documentation they need to support their HRTC claims. For more information, visit http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca

RONA Store Opens

RONA Inc. has opened a store in Saint-Georges, QC. The store reflects its new proximity concept for stores specializing in home construction and renovation. At 52,000 square feet , it houses a 12,000-square-foot gardening centre and offers more than 22,000 different types of building materials and finishing products including paint, lighting fixtures, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and doors and windows. The store features departments for tools, hardware, plumbing, electrical, floor coverings, and seasonal articles as well as two lumberyards – 20,000 square feet inside and 54,000 square feet outside. This is also the first RONA store to apply for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED is an environmental evaluation system for new buildings.

Retailers Vigilant Against Criminal Activity 

Canadian retailers are continuing their vigilance against the influences of criminal activity, says a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Retail Council of Canada survey. It found that despite the existence of some proven prevention methods, corporate policies and monitoring procedures, the loss of inventory, (known as retail shrinkage), translated to just over $3 billion in losses for Canadian retailers in 2008 or $8.5 million per shopping day in Canada. Employee theft is the largest loss area (35 per cent), with shop theft (including organized crime activity) rated at 32 per cent. It also confirmed the importance of the store-level staff in theft prevention as 70 per cent responded that store operations staff is most accountable for prevention of losses at the store level. Retailers continue to employ strong governance practices when it comes to theft prevention with most having policies in place that define the consequences of shoplifting, internal theft, vendor or supplier fraud, and the pirating of intellectual property.

JELD-WEN Realigns Sales Force

JELD-WEN Windows and Doors has realigned its sales force serving Canadian builders, dealers, and architects. Brad West, who was formerly Canadian marketing manager, becomes director of sales for Eastern Canada. In this new role, he will be responsible for all sales in both the dealer and builder direct sales channels. John Cooke will take on the role of provincial sales manager – Ontario. In addition to his current responsibilities for dealer sales in Ontario, he will assume leadership for all builder-direct sales in the province of Ontario. Linda Sans Cartier assumes the position of provincial sales manager, in addition to her current responsibilities for dealer sales in Quebec. She will be responsible for the Montreal sales centre and all builder direct sales in Quebec. Neil Ash will become the director of sales for Western Canada, responsible for both dealer sales and builder direct sales channels. He was formerly director of sales with national responsibility for the dealer sales channel. Brett Sigurdson adds the role of provincial sales manager – British Columbia to his current responsibilities for dealer sales in that province. Larry Willard has been named provincial sales manager – Alberta, adding builder direct sales to his current responsibilities for dealer sales. Greg Campbell becomes Prairie sales manager, in addition to his current responsibilities for dealer sales in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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September 16, 2009

Canadians Research Online

Canadians are adjusting to the economic uncertainty by comparison shopping on the internet and searching out efficient retailers who can save them time and money, says a global survey of the shopping behaviour of consumers in 16 countries by NCR Corporation. Canadian shoppers stood out from the crowd in their expectations of staff in retail stores, with almost 80 per cent saying they want retail staff to personally help them find what they’re looking for and 74 per cent expressing a desire to check out quickly. Almost 40 per cent of Canadians say they would welcome a self-service kiosk in stores to locate products. When Canadians were asked how the economic climate has affected the way they shop, 40 per cent said they find themselves online more frequently researching products and prices. Almost 50 per cent said they are “shop hopping” between retailers looking for the best price.

 RONA Recycles Latex Paint

RONA Inc. is adding recycled latex paint to its range of ECO products. The new line of paints offers a selection of 16 interior colours in hues inspired by nature. The paint is also offered in a floor and patio grade. The recycled paint was formerly sold at RONA under the Boomerang brand and was available only in Quebec and Ontario stores. The ECO brand paint is now available throughout the entire network of RONA stores across Canada.

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September 15, 2009

Home Hardware Celebrates 45th

Home Hardware Stores Limited celebrated the company’s 45th anniversary by welcoming more than 10,000 dealers and vendors from across Canada to the bi-annual Dealer Market. The markets are focused on helping the company’s independent dealers grow their business by providing an opportunity to preview new products, exchange ideas, and learn from one another. “With 45 years of steady growth behind us, Home Hardware dealers are still looking forward,” says Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO. “We’re very proud of our heritage and we’ve stayed true to the company’s original vision of helping the independent retailer stay independent and to thrive. The market is a great opportunity to celebrate that.” On the heels of $4.85 billion in retail sales in 2008, Home Hardware has grown to more than 1,000 locations.

Depot Adds Martha Stewart

The Home Depot and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. will develop an exclusive Martha Stewart Living brand of home improvement products that will provide consumers with distinctive merchandise in select categories including Outdoor Living, Home Organization, and Home Décor. The Martha Stewart Living brand will provide consumers with distinctive, innovative merchandise, while staying true to its commitment to value and everyday low price. "Our partnership with Martha Stewart will allow us to continue to deliver new and unique product design at affordable prices," says Gino DiGioacchino, vice-president of merchandising, The Home Depot Canada .

Demand For Gypsum Products Increasing

Demand for gypsum products in North America is projected to increase 2.7 per cent annually through 2013 to 47.7 million metric tons, valued at $5.3 billion, says the Freedonia Group, Inc.’s ‘Gypsum in North America’ study. Gypsum board is the largest gypsum product segment by a wide margin, accounting for about 70 per cent of demand. Demand for gypsum board is projected to rise 3.2 per cent annually through 2013. Gains in demand for gypsum products will derive primarily from the recovery of the U.S. new housing sector, the leading consumer of gypsum. In Canada, demand for gypsum products will increase only marginally, reflecting a contraction in new housing construction and decelerating growth in residential improvement and repair spending, non-residential construction, and non-building construction.

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September 14, 2009

Knauf Delivers Sustainable Insulation

Knauf Insulation has introduced a new line of sustainable building insulation products to Canadian markets. As a provider of mechanical and industrial insulation in Canada for more than 25 years, its latest line improves its environmental credentials thanks to a new binder, ECOSE Technology, the company says. Through the technology, its insulation will aim to provide greater environmental sustainability, will reduce embodied energy, and will contain no phenol, formaldehyde, acrylics, or artificial colours found in traditional fiberglass insulation, the company says.

G.T. Launches Two-Bladder Unit

G.T. Water Products announced the launch of its "DK COMBO" pack, featuring a two-bladder unit that allows users to clean stoppages in every type of drain in a home, from 3/4" to 4" drain lines. The plumbing product manufacturer says this new solution was "specifically designed to combat the lesser quality imported units but at a similar price point," and will soon be available across Canada at Home Hardware and RONA stores.

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September 11, 2009

Stanley Unveils Innovations

Stanley unveiled a number of its newest lines of ‘FatMax Xtreme’ tools during a media event in Toronto. As official sponsor of the Toronto Blue Jays, Stanley held the event at the Rogers Centre during a Major League Baseball game, and featured various product innovations, such as its new graphite hammers with a 70 per cent larger strike face, tape rules with a 150 per cent larger hook, and twin-blade utility knives. Stanley representatives were also on hand showcasing newly-launched ratcheting adjustable wrenches that help in mastering tight turns, handsaw systems with interchangeable blades, and portable truck boxes with integrated security systems.

Lowe’s Settles For Smaller Store

Lowe’s has agreed to build a smaller store in Kingston, ON, after its original proposal to develop on land zoned for industrial use was rejected, according to the Kingston Whig Standard. The Ontario Municipal Board and Lowe’s came to a compromise after two days of mediation in July, with details remaining undisclosed until recently. Lowe's agreed to yield 5,000 square feet and move the proposed store to the southern part of the property, just north of an existing Canadian Tire.

Legrand Establishing Brand

Legrand, a global supplier of products and systems for electrical installations and information networks, is in the process of launching its strategic branding initiative in the North American marketplace. The company says it will establish its global brand on behalf of all current brands and partners to generate increased interest for its North American product lines, namely, Cablofil, On-Q, Ortronics, Pass & Seymour, and Wiremold. The new branding initiative will include corporate literature, advertising campaigns, in-store merchandising, signage, and Web presence investments.   


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September 10, 2009

Lowe’s Appoints New Canadian Leader

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has promoted Alan D. Huggins to president, Lowe’s Canada, effective immediately. Huggins replaces Don T. Stallings who will represent Lowe’s in its new joint venture with Australia’s largest retailer, Woolworths Limited. “Lowe’s steady growth and success in Canada have been the result of strong management and an outstanding team,” said Larry D. Stone, president and COO. “We appreciate the leadership Don provided as we opened stores in the Greater Toronto Area.” Stallings served as president of Canadian operations since August 2007 and joined Lowe’s in 1994. Huggins served as vice-president of operations for Lowe’s Canada since February 2006. He joined Lowe’s in 2001 and worked in a number positions, including district manager for stores in North Carolina and California. 

TIM-BR MART Launches Hockey Video Challenge

TIM-BR MART has launched its ‘World Junior Hockey Video Challenge,’ which asks minor hockey teams to video their team spirit and tell why they should be guests at the upcoming 2010 IIHF World Juniors for four days. The team with the winning entry will get roundtrip transportation to Saskatoon, accommodations, meals, and tickets to World Juniors games over Dec. 27 to 29, 2009, a prize worth $75,000, if won by an Ontario team for example. Videos can be uploaded to timbrtube.ca and once published, Canadians can vote for their favourite.

Home Affordability Continues

Home ownership in Canada became more affordable for the fifth straight quarter with modest improvement across the country, according to the second quarter housing report by RBC Economics Research. Yet the recuperative phase of the affordability cycle seems to be drawing to a close as housing prices firm up and mortgage rates stop trending downward, said Robert Hogue, a senior economist for RBC. But this “leveling off of home affordability” is not expected to stop the resurgence in the housing market. "Supply of properties for sale is dropping as demand bounces back, which is working to heat up prices again in many parts of the country." The report found that measures fell at the national level (the lower the measure, the more inexpensive it is to afford a home) by 0.4 percentage points for standard condominiums and 0.6 percentage points for two-storey homes, detached bungalows, and standard townhouses – marking a return to pre-housing boom affordability levels.

Master Lock Introduces Extreme Tags

Master Lock introduced its Guardian Extreme Tags, meant to stand up to harsh contaminants thrown at equipment and accessories, such as dust and dirt, high humidity, UV radiation, and frequent washdowns. Intended for engineering, construction, electrical, or safety management professionals, the tags are made from industrial-grade polypropylene and remain easy to read in spite of harsh environments, the company says.

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September 9, 2009

RONA Names Dealer-Owner Development VP

RONA has appointed Jean-Luc Meunier as senior vice president in charge of developing the affiliate dealer-owner network. In his new position, Meunier will sit on the senior management committee and report directly to company president and CEO Robert Dutton. Meunier’s team will be responsible for recruitment and development of the affiliate dealer-owner network. He will also support the dealer-owners and oversee a newly created team dedicated to exploring markets. “This new appointment will allow us to step up our recruitment activities and strengthen our affiliate dealer-owner network, which is an important growth vector at RONA,” said Robert Dutton. Until recently, Jean-Luc Meunier was vice president of central Canadian operations for Alimentation Couche-Tard, where he worked for over 10 years.

Building Permits Down

Contractors took out just over $4.6 billion worth of building permits in July, an 11.4 per cent decrease from June, says Statistics Canada. The strike by civic workers in the city of Toronto, which shut down municipal offices for most of the month, is behind this decline. Municipalities issued about $2.6 billion in residential permits in July, a drop of 4.1 per cent, and just over $2 billion in non-residential permits, a 19.3 per cent drop. Not counting Toronto, the total value of building permits declined by 1.8 per cent. The value of residential permits jumped 7.4 per cent while non-residential permits fell by 11.6 per cent. Among the provinces, the value of July building permits fell in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and B.C., with the most significant decline in Ontario (-27.5 per cent to $1.4 billion), mainly a result of the civic strike in Toronto.

CertainTeed Expands Reflective Roofing

CertainTeed announced it is expanding its line of Landmark Solaris solar reflective roofing shingles to include additional colours. CertainTeed will introduce four more colour blends – Crystal Gray, Sunset Shake, Aged Cedar, and Dusky Clay – further allowing roofing contractors to offer the energy-saving cool-roofing shingles without compromising aesthetics, the company says.

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September 8, 2009

Consumer Confidence Looking Up

The overall index of consumer confidence in the Canadian economy increased from June to August to 86.5, the highest it’s been in almost two years, according to the latest Harris Decima Investors Group measure. For the U.S., the index reached 65.7, a slight drop from June. Optimism about the near-term outlook also grew, as 29 per cent see good times ahead in the coming year, compared to 20 per cent in June. Canadians also revealed more optimism about making a major purchase, with 52 per cent believing it is a good time to make a major purchase (compared to 49 per cent in June), while 33 per cent feel it is a bad time to buy (compared to 34 per cent in June). And for the five-year outlook, 58 per cent currently see good times ahead while 28 per cent see bad times. In June, this split was 51 per cent-36 per cent.

Sears Encouraging Sustainable Upgrades

Sears Canada launched its Sears Water Appliance Program (SWAP), an environmental initiative meant to establish sustainable practices around the communities in which it operates. SWAP encourages homeowners to upgrade older water softeners, such as models with water timers that cannot measure water consumption, to newer ones that utilize ENERGY STAR-qualified adapters. Water softeners reduce the build-up of minerals in pipes and the amount of soap required for tasks such as washing dishes. As part of the program, Sears will handle the removal of the old unit from the customer's home, install the newer model with a high-efficiency adapter, and provide a rebate form for the associated removal fee to a maximum of $50.

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September 4, 2009

RONA, Maple Leaf Sports Team Up

RONA and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE) have formed a new five-year corporate agreement. As part of the exclusive partnership, RONA becomes the official home improvement retailer of the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), and Toronto Marlies (AHL) (RONA has been a corporate partner of MLSE’s soccer club, Toronto FC, since 2007). Partnership rights also include permanent, camera-visible RONA branding at these teams’ home games at Air Canada Centre and Ricoh Coliseum. RONA will also have hosting opportunities that will give its in-store customers chances to win tickets to Leafs, Raptors, and Marlies games. “We are thrilled to associate our winning RONA team with these important Canadian sports teams,” said Robert Dutton, president and CEO of RONA. The new partnership with MLSE is also expected to boost RONA’s brand exposure in the Ontario market, where it has 180 stores and 6,600 employees.

CanWel Announces Distribution Deal

CanWel Building Materials Ltd. has signed a distribution agreement with Engineered Coated Products (ECP), a division of Intertape Polymer Group. As part of the agreement, CanWel will provide national warehouse and distribution services for ECP's Flexgard Aspire house wrap products, which is produced in Canada and has CCMC approvals for the Canadian market. The agreement adds to CanWel's Specialty product offerings and will complement CanWel's siding category.

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September 3, 2009

Castle Tourney Raises Funds

Castle Building Centres held its '20th Annual Vendor Appreciation Golf Tourney,' which was widely attended by those in the building supply community. Held at The Club at North Halton, in Georgetown, ON, participants of the event raised funds for Sick Kids Children’s Hospital, with matching donations by Castle Building Centres. This year’s tournament also marked a special Castle donation to the Sierra Duplantis Foundation. Sierra is the granddaughter of Steve Duplantis, a well-known industry figure whose son was lost to a tragic accident recently.

Housing Activity To Rebound

Housing starts are expected to recover in the second half of 2009 and will reach 141,900 for the year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) third quarter Housing Market Outlook. The CMHC predicts starts will increase to 150,300 for 2010, as improving activity on the resale market and lower inventory levels in the new and existing home markets prompt builders to increase residential construction. As measured by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS(R), existing home sales have rebounded since January and will reach 420,700 units in 2009 and remain close to that level at 419,400 units in 2010. The average MLS(R) price is expected to moderate to $301,400 in 2009 and to increase to $306,300 in 2010.

Owens Corning Names HR VP

Owens Corning has appointed Daniel T. Smith to the position of senior vice-president, human resources, effective Sept. 14. Prior to joining Owens Corning, Smith was executive vice-president and chief administrative officer for Borders Group, Inc., global retailer of books and media. "[Smith] is a strong business leader with a track record of human resource leadership,” said Mike Thaman, chairman and CEO.

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September 2, 2009

Wal-Mart Lets Outside Retailers Sell Online

Wal-Mart has launched an addition to its website that will let outside retailers offer nearly one million new products online. The move is expected to increase Wal-Mart’s presence in the e-commerce market against players like eBay and Amazon.com, which also offer merchants platforms to services to sell products. It may also draw online customers from Europe and South Korea, where it no longer has stores. Currently, it chose the retailers eBags, CSN Stores, and Pro Team because of their large product assortments and customer service track records, Wal-Mart says.

CertainTeed Siding Reaches Eco High Point

CertainTeed announced that its CedarBoards Double 6-inch Clapboard Insulated Vinyl Siding now contains 60 percent recycled material – the highest recycled content of any vinyl siding product on the market, the company says. The achievement is made possible by integrating scraps from job sites, vinyl siding distributors, and other post consumer sources into the manufacturing process, which is verified by a third-party auditor on a quarterly basis. Ultimately, CertainTeed says it wants to work with its customers to develop a cradle-to-cradle program.

Paint Colour Swaying With Economy

The struggling economy has had an effect on consumers’ choice of paint colours, says a study by CIL Paints. The study, conducted by its team of colour experts, finds that the top-selling shades this year – neutral tones, from off-whites to sandy shades and muted greys – are selected because they mix and match with any colour family, which provides consumers with a sense of security that they have selected a long-lasting décor choice amidst more difficult times. Choice also fluctuates according to levels of confidence in the economy. “Heading into the year 2000, for example, neutrals were predominant in home décor, yet when the fear and uncertainty surrounding the new millennium faded, more vibrant colours began to reappear in homes,” said Jennifer Jones, communications manager for CIL Paints.

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September 1, 2009

RONA Celebrates 70th With T.O. Clean Up

RONA celebrated its 70th anniversary by giving out free rakes, brooms, shovels, and recycling bins to early-morning passers-by at Toronto’s Dundas Square, “for a big fall cleanup downtown.” RONA gave more than 1,600 Torontonians the “birthday gifts” between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m., along with the message: ‘RONA is 70 years old, and the work has just begun. Let's start with the big fall cleanup!’

Cobra, Strome Enter Partnership

Cobra Anchors Co. Ltd., a Canadian manufacturer of anchoring products, concrete screws, and plant and picture hooks, announced its new partnership with manufacturing sales representative, Strome Sales Ltd. As part of the partnership, Strome – with more than 35 years of experience managing brands in the hardware and industrial channels – will provide widespread sales support and program expansion for Cobra Anchors throughout Western Canada. 

NCR Releases Compliant POS Solution

NCR Corporation, a technology provider for retail businesses, announced that version 5.4 of its ‘Advanced Store’ point-of-sale (POS) solution has been accepted as meeting the most current standards designed to protect Canadian consumers’ credit card information from potential security breaches. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) accepted the NCR application as compliant – a requirement that’s becoming increasingly important for businesses that accept credit cards, said David Taylor, security expert and founder of PCI Knowledge Base.

Deere & Company To Open Russian Facility

Deere & Company approved an investment plan to establish a manufacturing and parts centre in Russia, near Moscow. The new facility will manufacture a range of John Deere products, including tractors and harvesting equipment. The company says the announcement is the first step to achieve the vision for Russia that Deere announced in July 2009 at the US-Russia Business Summit. "Our strategic investments reflect Deere's confidence in the potential of the Russian market, the strength of our dedicated dealers and employees, and the support of the Russian national and local authorities…" said Mark von Pentz, president of John Deere's Agriculture and Turf Division.

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