Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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

News

March 31, 2010

Home Hardware Intranet Launched

Northcore Technologies Inc., a provider of asset management solutions, has completed the initial launch of an intranet for Home Hardware Stores Limited. The two companies worked together to create an online forum to connect over 1,000 independently owned Home Hardware member stores and their suppliers. “With the help of Northcore, our next step is providing Home Hardware Dealers of all sizes with a one-stop source for their business needs…" said Richard Brimblecombe, vehicle & equipment leasing and sourcing manager, Home Hardware Stores.

Recession’s Frugality Persisting

As a result of high personal debt and a “comfort with frugality,” consumer spending is expected to remain stagnant despite growing optimism about the economy, according to the latest ‘Consumerology Report’ by ad agency Bensimon Byrne. The quarterly survey of 1,500 Canadians found that more than half feel they are better off than they were a year ago. Yet, compared to a year ago, 65 per cent are doing more saving and less spending, 75 per cent will lower their overall monthly discretionary spending this year, and 92 per cent are considering "need" over "want" when it comes to spending. As well, it found that more than one third are so loaded down by non-mortgage debt that it will take three years or more to pay it down and over 60 per cent of Canadians would put extra spending money into paying down debt rather than investing, saving, or making a major purchase. "In addition, our survey shows that the culture of thrift and frugality that developed during the recession persists among Canadians of all income levels," said Jack Bensimon, president of Bensimon Byrne.

Battery Recycling Implemented

Call2Recycle has been approved as the first government-mandated consumer battery collection and recycling program in North America. It was chosen by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, based on its successful battery collection program that has been operational across Canada since 1997. Its existing infrastructure, consisting of collection sites, service chain providers, and relationships in the marketplace will be leveraged to collect all household batteries, including alkaline and rechargeable batteries by July 1. Call2Recycle is also seeking to be the battery collection and recycling program in Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba, which will all have mandated programs within the next 15 months.

Consumers Using Multiple Channels

More than three-quarters of consumers use two or more informational channels and nearly one-third use three or more channels to browse, research, and purchase products, says a new survey by commerce solutions provider, ATG (conducted by independent research firm, MarketTools). The cross-channel shopping survey of 1,054 adults found that 43 per cent start their research online, but then need to call a customer service or call centre to complete a transaction, 39 per cent browse via online or mobile channels and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel a product, and 78 per cent say they use catalogues to browse and research products or services at least four times a year. The findings are said to reflect opportunities for retailers to increase sales through multiple channels, including the Web. “We are seeing a multi-channel revolution now,” said Nina McIntyre, ATG's senior vice-president of marketing. “This research illuminates the expectations consumers have for the Web, call centres, the store, catalogues, and email.”

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March 30, 2010

Goodfellow 2Q Results Improve

Goodfellow Inc. announced a second-quarter net income of $1.9 million compared to a net operating loss of $0.8 million in the same period a year ago. Consolidated 2Q sales, ended February 28, 2010, were $107.8 million, up from $91.5 million earned in the same year-ago period. Sales in Canada grew 25 per cent, partly due to increased demand spurred by the Home Renovation Tax Credit, Goodfellow says. Sales in the U.S. decreased 36 per cent due to its reduced presence in the Western U.S. and continued low housing starts. Export sales increased 38 per cent compared to last year due mainly to a strong performance in the UK and an important industrial order shipped to the Middle East.

Atis Group Makes Acquisition

Montreal-based manufacturer of doors and windows, Atis Group, has acquired Moncton's Allsco Building Products Ltd. With 10 factories, 1,800 employees, and revenues over $200 million, Atis says the acquisition will allow it to establish a greater presence in Atlantic Canada, and provides access to new equipment, additional facilities, and new technologies.

Difficult To Shop Green, Survey Finds

Fifty-six per cent of Canadians find it difficult to lead a green lifestyle and support eco-friendly products, says an eBay Canada survey. The survey of 1,503 adult Canadians found that 84 per cent think green products are more expensive than their environmentally harmful counterparts and 47 per cent felt there are not enough green options where they shop. Also, two out of five Canadians feel overwhelmed by the amount of green information available, 64 per cent wish there were more green options for buying and selling, and 66 per cent say a lot of their favourite brands are not green. "A greener lifestyle should feel like a trade-up, not a trade off," said Kevin Wolfley, eBay Canada's Green Team Leader. "The survey shows that perceived high prices and limited options are making Canadian shoppers reach for products that may do more harm than good to our environment."

IKEA Among Most Ethical

International think tank, Ethisphere Institute, recognized IKEA as one of the 'World’s Most Ethical Companies for 2010' – the fourth consecutive year IKEA has won the award. After reviewing thousands of nominations from companies in over 100 countries and 36 industries, Ethisphere says IKEA secured its spot on the list by implementing upright business practices and initiatives that benefit the community and raise the bar for ethical standards within the industry. Other winners include Aflac, American Express, Campbell Soup, the Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Google, L'Oreal, Nike, PepsiCo, and Starbucks. For more on the methodology and for the complete list, visit http://ethisphere.com/wme-2010.

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March 29, 2010

Sears Dealer Stores Open

Sears Canada announced the opening of four new Dealer Stores in three provinces: a 1,400-square-foot store in Saint-Quentin, NB, owned and operated by Ms. Jacqueline Bosse; a 1,100 square-foot store in Bouctouche, NB, owned and operated by Fernande Maillet; a 2,500 square-foot store in Fergus, ON, owned and operated by Stephen Weber; and a 1,250 square-foot-store in Kincardine, ON, owned and operated by Shelley Sayle. There are now 204 Sears dealer stores in Canada, along with 197 corporate stores, 35 home improvement showrooms, and more than 1,800 catalogue merchandise pick-up locations.

ShurTech Wins Walmart Award

Walmart Canada awarded ShurTech Brands, LLC, marketers of do-it-yourself tapes, office, and housewares products, its 2009 Vendor Partner of the Year in the hardware category for its Duck and Painter’s Mate Green brands. The annual award is presented to companies that demonstrate high levels of performance in product quality, on-time delivery, ethical standards and business management in manufacturing, Walmart says.

Health & Safety Show Sets Line-up

‘Partners in Prevention 2010: Ontario Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show’ will open with two pre-conference events on May 3. Small Business Forum 2010will help small businesses discover how to improve the profitability and sustainability of their business and Leadership Summit 2010. The conference runs May 4 to 5 in Mississauga, ON, and features sessions and workshops on healthy workplaces, workplace violence, ergonomics, major hazards, legislation, and more. For more information, visit www.PartnersinPreventionOntario.com

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March 26, 2010

Richelieu Announces Positive Quarter

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. reported first-quarter net income of $7 million, compared to $4.3 million in the same period a year ago. Quarterly sales also increased 3.5 per cent to $95.2 million from $91.9 million in the same year-ago quarter. Substantial growth came from the acquisition of Paint Direct Inc. (Calgary, AB) and Woodland Specialties (Syracuse, NY), closed on Nov. 4 and Dec. 1, 2009 respectively. It had sales of $81.2 million in Canada, up by 10 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2009, whcih stemmed mainly from the Eastern Canadian market continuing to post solid growth, Richelieu says. However, sales totalled $13.3 million in the U.S., down by 9.2 per cent, due mainly "to the economic context,” it says. “For a first quarter, which is usually the year's weakest period, we achieved excellent growth in Canada in our two major markets, manufacturers and retailers,” said Richard Lord, president and CEO.

Eco Efforts Paying Off, Walmart Says

Walmart Canada’s current energy-reduction efforts, waste diversion, and supply chain efficiency will help the company avoid an estimated $140 million in costs and generate revenue over the next five years, said David Cheesewright, president and CEO.  Cheesewright made the announcement during a panel discussion on the business case for sustainability at GLOBE 2010 in Vancouver, a conference dedicated to the business of the environment. "We continue to believe that sustainability is just as important to our business as it is for the environment,” he said at the conference. Through current and planned sustainability projects, it estimates it will avoid $70 million in costs from energy-saving initiatives, such as high-efficiency store formats and a commitment to LED lighting; $55 million from supply chain efficiencies, such as changed deliveries to 31 stores from road to rail in 2009 and cutting fuel needs. And through waste diversion programs – for example diverting over 80 per cent of waste from landfills – it will avoid costs and generate revenue of approximately $60 million combined.

IRLY Names Manager, Coordinator

IRLY Distributors named Clay Stenberg as its newest account manager. Stenberg brings with him 13 years of experience attained at the IRLY Building Centre in Coldstream, BC. IRLY also welcome Michelle Chen as rebate coordinator. Chen has several years of accounting experience and is working toward her CGA.

Straus To Speak At Breakfast

Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited, will speak at the CHHMA’s (Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association) upcoming breakfast meeting. The event takes place April 27, 8:15 a.m., at the International Centre, Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca.

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March 25, 2010

Moen Uncovers ‘Remodel-Lite’ Trend

Moen says it has identified a new, fast-growing home improvement trend known as ‘Remodel-Lite,’ which has emerged out of the struggling economy. At its annual Media Roundtable, Jack Suvak, director of market research and insights, Moen, described Remodel-Lite as a more strategic approach to remodeling as consumers cut-back on major purchases and, instead, choose to refresh rooms and take on small projects one at a time. As part of its recently conducted ‘Sentiment Tracking’ study, Moen finds that these consumers realize, due to limited budgets, that a major remodeling project isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future, but that they can still undertake small projects that can have a “major impact.” According to the research, more than 40 per cent of Remodel-Lite consumers are Baby Boomers and 55 per cent are married; they look at products as making a statement in their home and want immediate gratification from their purchases. The Remodel-Lite demographic is important to Moen's business, Suvak says, because replacing a faucet, for example, is a quick and affordable way to improve the focal point of a kitchen – making an instant splash everyone can notice.

RONA Aurora Open For Business

RONA inc. opened its new 100,000-square-foot store in Aurora, Ontario, the third store opening in three weeks. Aurora residents and members of the RONA team participated in the opening ceremony along with dignitaries, including Mayor Phyllis Morris, Town of Aurora; Lois Brown, MP for Newmarket-Aurora; and Frank Klees, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora. The Aurora store represents an investment of more than $14 million and 150 jobs in the community, with most of the staff hired directly from the area and familiar with local needs. “Aurora is a dynamic town with a growing community and prosperous economy. These conditions are ideal for RONA’s product and service offering,” explained RONA Executive vice-president of Store Operations, Pierre Dandoy. The store features a 2,890-square-foot greenhouse, a 876-square-foot cut shop, a 15,400-square-foot drive through lumberyard, and a 11,200-square-foot outdoor garden centre.

Weiser Offers Keyless Interior Options

Weiser has expanded its keyless, touchpad, electronic lock offering with the introduction of the Weiser SmartCode Lever. The product features styles to complement homes’ interior, allowing homeowners, for example, to lock home offices, wine cellars, storage rooms, or any other entryway without having to carry a key. Homeowners can create unique codes for each individual requiring access to the room or home, such as temporary codes for the housekeeper or other visitors in the morning before leaving for work. 

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March 24, 2010

CanWel Reports 4Q Loss

CanWel Holdings Corporation reported a fourth-quarter loss of $199,000 compared to a profit of $2.5 million a year earlier. Revenue was down to $140.2 million for the quarter, compared to $165.5 million in the same period last year. Much of its fourth-quarter results were affected by a $1.9-million charge for converting into a corporation and acquiring Broadleaf Logistics Co. Results were also negatively impacted by the economic slowdown across Canada, as it dealt with downward price pressure in lumber and panel products, it said. For the full year, CanWel announced a $13.8 million profit, down from $16.9 million in 2008. Revenue also dropped to $650 million compared to $804 million. "2009 proved to be a trying period for many businesses due to the economic environment. This was not an exception for CanWel, however given the strength of our business, we had the ability to stay focused on driving the business forward, protect margins, while identifying a transformational acquisition in Broadleaf," said Amar S. Doman, chairman and CEO of the company.

Leading Economic Indicators Climb

Canada’s index of leading economic indicators edged up 0.8 per cent in February, says Statistics Canada, following a 0.7 per cent advance in January. Nine of the 10 components rose in February, up from eight in January, with household demand again leading the rise and manufacturing recovering. The leading indicator’s housing index – made up of housing starts and existing home sales – grew 1.7 per cent from the previous month. Gains in housing were reflected by a 1.2 per cent increase in sales of furniture and appliances, their largest advance in over three years. Manufacturing orders and sales rose in Canada, as the U.S. economy continues to rebound. For the third time in four months, new orders increased, and the ratio of shipments to inventories made a seventh straight gain, as sales expanded while stocks fell.

BEHR Improves Site

BEHR Paints announced it added a virtual colour centre and an improved colour samples program at its website, www.behr.com. “Since many consumers start their painting projects by doing research at home via the internet, we wanted to make it easier to view colours online,” said Scott Richards, senior vice-president of marketing, Behr Process Corporation. For the first time on its site, customers can preview designer colours exclusive to its ‘Premium Plus Ultra’ paint, allowing customers to interact with colour swatches, magazines, and mood cards.

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March 23, 2010

Home Depot To Host Spring Black Friday

The Home Depot announced it will host ‘Spring Black Friday’ – “a weekend of regional door buster deals” in March and April – as a move to gain market share during spring promotions. The retailer will slash prices on several spring products, from lawn and patio items to grills, beginning in the warmer southern and western states on March 18 and in the colder northern regions at a later date this spring. “Spring is our Christmas,” said Craig Menear, executive vice-president for merchandising. “Traffic in our stores is at its highest during the spring season.”

CIL Introduces All-in-one Combo

CIL Paints says it’s trying to make painting projects faster and cleaner through the launch of an all-in-one paint, primer, and tray combination. The CILUX Quick Roll Container comes in a seven-litre bucket that doubles as a tray, and features a pre-tinted paint and a built-in raised grid to remove excess paint. Users pull off the lid and can roll their brush right from the container, without having to pour the paint into a separate tray. The product also offers a one-step application through its built-in primer formulation reducing the need, in many cases, for more than one coat. “With the Quick Roll Container, there’s no wasted paint or risk of spills in transferring the paint to a tray, and besides rinsing the roller after it has been used, there’s no clean-up required,” says Martin Tustin-Fuchs, marketing manager for CIL. 

Martha Stewart Lines Launched

The Home Depot officially unveiled its collection of MARTHA STEWART LIVING products, now available exclusively at its stores. The recently announced partnership between Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Home Depot aims at helping consumers coordinate décor and design elements when taking on projects. Some of the products are available in store now, while others will be arriving in April and May.

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March 22, 2010

Lowe’s Confirms Saskatchewan Site

Lowe's Companies Canada, ULC announced the location of its first store in Saskatchewan, expected to open in the company's fiscal first quarter of 2011. Construction will soon begin at 4555 Gordon Road in Regina and will include 103,000 square feet of retail space, more than 40,000 products, and a 32,000-square-foot garden centre. The store represents an average investment in the community of approximately $20 million and will create up to 150 new jobs. "Lowe's commitment to expanding throughout Western Canada continues with our first location in Saskatchewan," said Alan Huggins, president, Lowe's Canada. "We have had a tremendous response from our Canadian customers, and we will continue honouring our promise to deliver outstanding prices, products and top-notch customer service in our drive to be Canada's first choice for home improvement." Lowe's opened its first Canadian store in 2007 and currently has 16 stores in Canada.

Home Improvement Sales Hit High

Retail sales increased 0.7 per cent in January to $35.7 billion, according to Statistics Canada. Home improvement retailers were major contributors to the gain in January, as a result of the final month of the federal government's Home Renovation Tax Credit. Sales were up in six of eight retail store sectors in January. The largest contributor to the overall increase was a 7.4 per cent rise at building and outdoor home supplies stores, the highest monthly growth rate for this type of store since August 2003 when a power blackout hit Ontario. Home centres and hardware stores saw sales rise six per cent and specialized building material and garden stores sales increased 14 per cent. Furniture, home furnishings, and electronics store sales edged up 2.5 per cent, primarily as a result of a 15.1 per cent gain at home furnishings stores, particularly those selling floor coverings. January's growth at home furnishings stores was the highest since the beginning of the series in 1991.

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March 19, 2010

Robinson Wins Women-In-Business Award

Susan Robinson, president & CEO of IRLY Distributors Ltd., has won the Surrey Board of Trade’s inaugural corporate ‘Surrey Women in Business Award.’ Winners were announced at a recent luncheon at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, BC. The awards recognize the work of businesswomen and their contributions to the community. Nominations were submitted in three categories – entrepreneur, professional, and corporate – and judged on their work in business acumen, leadership, balanced lifestyle, and community involvement and service.

Retail Technology Investment To Grow

Retail technology spending – involving integrated point of sale (POS) systems, payment terminals, POS barcode scanners, POS printers, and electronic article surveillance systems – will grow to nearly $21 billion in 2014, from $14.8 billion in 2009, according to a new market study by ABI Research. Even while many retailers continue to experience declines in sales due to the ongoing recession, the study – entitled ‘Next Generation Point of Sale Systems and Retail Technology’ – found that continuing growth in retail technology systems, shipments, and revenues will be driven by global demand for technologies needed to meet rapidly evolving security standards, as well as retailers’ demands for highly efficient and customer-friendly technology. "Retail technology vendors fared well despite the recession, as retailers maintained their long-term technology investment plans,” says research director, Larry Fisher. “Additionally, the outlook is positive for retail technology, as retailers in emerging countries look to emulate the successful implementation of technology in more-developed nations.”

RONA Unveils Outdoor Collections

RONA unveiled its garden and outdoor spaces collections available in stores this spring. The products are focused on comfort and aim to extend indoor living space through a new selection of furniture and decorative items for the garden, deck, or patio. The collections also include a new range of barbecues to meet ranging consumer needs. The patio furniture is available in three different styles – ‘Oasis,’ ‘Global Village,’ and ‘Spirit’ – meant to offer “affordable trendsetting project recipes.”

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March 18, 2010

RONA Welland Opens Doors

RONA Inc. celebrated the opening of its new 52,000-square-foot Welland, ON store, representing an investment of $9 million and 65 jobs for the community. Welland residents participated in the opening ceremony, along with Robert Dutton, RONA president and CEO; Doug Adlam, vice-president of operations for proximity stores; store manager Jonas Tomiuck; and local dignitaries including Councillor Leo Van Vliet, vice-mayor of Welland. The store reflects the growth of local family business, Welland Lumber, started by Steve and Grace Tomiuck in 1945. Under the management of their grandson, Jonas Tomiuck, the business grew into a RONA affiliate in 2007. Replacing the former Welland Lumber on Southworth Street, the new location is twice the size of the former and features an 18,000-square-foot garden centre. As RONA's latest proximity store, it will specialize in home construction and renovation. The store also adopted several building components that make it LEED certified, including white energy efficient roofing, energy efficient lighting, and materials with high recycled content.

BW Appoints Account Manager

Gordon Catherwood is now national accounts manager for BW Creative Wood Industries Ltd., a manufacturer of railing systems, components, and accessories. In his new role, Catherwood will focus on growing sales with key accounts in Canada and the U.S. Catherwood was previously with Sauder Industries (Moulding & Millwork).

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March 17, 2010

RONA Makes Sustainable Centre Contribution

RONA inc. took part in a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the official start of construction of Montreal’s new Centre for Sustainable Development (Maison du développement durable). RONA made a $750,000 contribution in cash and building materials toward construction of the new Centre. “RONA has taken a stand in favour of the future, a stand that can be seen in the number of initiatives our Company has introduced already,” said RONA president and CEO Robert Dutton. “So it was only natural for us to get involved with the planned Centre for Sustainable Development, which will demonstrate that there are real, practical, and economical solutions that respect the women and men of tomorrow and make a contribution that’s consistent with this idea.” Also present at the ceremony were Line Beauchamp, Quebec minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks; Alan DeSousa, Montreal executive committee vice-chair and head of sustainable development, and Sidney Ribaux, president of the Centre.

JELD-WEN Launches Energy-efficiency Contest

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, JELD-WEN Windows & Doors is inviting the general public to enter the ‘Make Your Home a Star’ contest for a chance to win up to $50,000 for renovations that improve home energy efficiency. Open to all Canadian residents of legal age, the contest runs from March 15 to June 13, 2010. The prize includes $30,000 in ENERGY STAR qualified JELD-WEN door and window products and $20,000 for other products designed to improve home energy efficiency. The winner will also receive $20,000 to purchase other ENERGY STAR qualified products, such as appliances, or to carry out additional renovations, such as insulating the roof. For more information on the contest and rules, visit www.jeld-wen.ca.

Moen Unveils Three-way Shower Combo

Moen says its research reveals that homeowners want multiple options in the shower. As a result, the kitchen & bath manufacturer unveiled its ‘Three-Way Shower Combination.’ It features a multi-setting handheld showerhead, a nine-inch rainshower, and a three-way diverter to allow users to switch from the rainshower to the handheld, or use both showerheads together. The product is now available at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

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March 16, 2010

Lowe’s To Carry PARA

Lowe's Companies, Inc. and Canadian paint manufacturer PARA PAINTS announced a strategic alliance, bringing PARA PAINTS to all Lowe's retail stores in Canada by mid-April 2010. Lowe's will carry two major PARA sub-brands including PARA Lifestyles paint for consumer markets, and PARA Professional Precision, which caters to contractors as well as consumers. "Partnering with well-established Canadian paint brands like PARA allows us to continue our efforts to offer Canadians the best products at the best prices," says Bob Sherwood, vice-president of merchandising for Lowe's. The launch of the PARA brand into Lowe's Canada will include its home colour system with more than 2,150 designer shades. The colour system along with new themed colour brochures and coordinating idea cards will launch alongside new paint lines later this spring.

Stanley Completes Acquisition

Stanley Works announced it officially completed its acquisition of Black & Decker, after a pivotal shareholder vote last week. As well, the European Commission approved the acquisition, stating it was not expected to significantly affect competition in the European Economic Area. Under the terms of the $4.5 billion deal, each outstanding share of Black & Decker common stock will be converted into 1.275 shares of Stanley Works common stock, and existing Stanley Works shareholders will own approximately 50.5 per cent of the combined company. The new Stanley Black & Decker will be headquartered in New Britain, Connecticut, while its power tool division will remain headquartered in Towson, Maryland, where Black & Decker operates.

Homeownership Affordability Falls

Homeownership costs in Canada rose slightly across all housing segments in the closing months of 2009, according to the latest housing report by RBC Economics Research. Since 1985, the RBC measure captures the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home. Specifically, it found that the detached bungalow benchmark inched 0.3 per cent higher to 40.6 per cent; the standard townhouse rose 0.2 points to 32.9 per cent; the standard condominium climbed 0.1 per cent to 28 per cent; and the standard two-storey home increased 0.3 points to 46.7 per cent. Despite the increases, all affordability measures remain well below their levels from a year ago. The report projects that the cost of owning a home will continue to rise, as strong demand and limited supply of homes for sale sustain the upward trend in prices.

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March 15, 2010

Consumer Confidence Edges Up

Canadians are becoming slightly more confident in the economy, according to the latest results from TNS Canadian Facts' Consumer Confidence Index. Overall, the index edged upward to 99.4 this month – up almost two points from February's 97.6 and almost three points from January's 96.7. And the Present Situation Index, which captures the overall state of the current economic and employment situations, rose to 88.9 in March, up more than six points from January's 82.7. Likewise, the Expectations Index – which measures estimation of the economy, household income, and employment in the next six months – improved slightly more than the 2.7 points it gave up in February, closing at a new high of 111.9. However, the Buy Index, which measures whether people think the current period is a good time to make major purchases, continues to vary. After rising in February, it fell one point and now stands at 101.1. The Consumer Confidence Index tracks Canadians' attitudes about the economy each month and is part of a global study conducted by research firm TNS, in 18 countries.

CHBA Honours Cupskey

Shannon Cupskey of IRLY Distributors was honoured with the CHBA (Canadian Home Builders’ Association) National Award of Honour in recognition of her "dedication and service to the association at the local level." Cupskey received the award at the CHBA National Conference in Victoria, BC, held on March 6.

Manufacturing To Weather Currency

Various manufacturing industries are most likely to weather a volatile Canadian dollar, says a new Conference Board of Canada report from its International Trade and Investment Centre. "Manufacturing industries have traditionally been considered the most sensitive to exchange rate movements because of their dependence on export markets," said Louis Theriault, director, International Trade and Investment Centre. "This study finds that industries that are highly reliant on foreign markets and suppliers… are not as well-positioned to respond to fluctuations in the exchange rate.” The report, ‘Dollar Volatility: Who Should Care?’ uses indicators to identify the degree to which 27 industries rely on international transactions and the nature of that internationalization. Highly internationalized industries – such as mining and oil and gas extraction – are likely to have more flexibility in their operating structures and have more ways to hedge against currency fluctuations. Whereas service industries – such as transportation and warehousing, utilities, and retail trade – are potentially more exposed to the currency, since they generally internationalize and have a more limited hedging capacity.

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March 12, 2010

Castle Adds Five To Dealer Network

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. is welcoming five new retail, commercial, and specialty members to its network of independent dealers. Among the new additions are Darryl and Michelle Gerrard, owners of Neepawa True Value in Manitoba, who are expanding their business to include lumber & building materials through the Castle program. CTI (Canadian Trade International) of Saskatoon, SK, has also joined Castle to add hardware and building material products to their list of offerings. Broadway Drywall Distribution, in Williams Lake, BC, is now a Castle member, and specializes in the supply and service of building materials to the commercial and residential construction industry. Victoria Carpet Shoppe, in Victoria, NL, started in 1985 as an independent family owned business and chose Castle to further expand its building materials offering at competitive costing, while maintaining the ability to run their own business. And Maritime Truss Limited, of Truro, NS, has been a family owned supplier of prefabricated wood roof, floor trusses, and LVL beams for over 20 years, and says becoming a member of Castle’s Speciality Division is the best way to give them access to nationally recognized vendors to maximize growth opportunities.

NYSE Questions B&D Relationship

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) recently suggested that Black & Decker Corp. should have taken into account its Chief Executive Nolan D. Archibald’s real estate partnership with a board member, who was believed to be “independent” for the purposes of evaluating its merger with The Stanley Works. Black & Decker recently issued a news release concerning the NYSE’s inquiries into the "private business relationship" between Archibald and the director, M. Anthony Burns – who have been co-owners since August 2005 of the Red Ledges real estate development in Heber City, Utah – and whether that compromised Burns' independence. Black & Decker stated this relationship wasn't relevant and that the company is not affiliated with the project. Burns was on a special committee to evaluate the $4.5 billion Stanley deal and, along with other board members, approved the move as well as a significant pay package for Archibald, who will serve as executive chairman of the combined Stanley Black & Decker. Shareholders are scheduled to vote on the all-stock transaction March 12, and it’s unclear whether misinterpretation of the stock exchange rules would derail the merger.

Recovery On Track, Study Finds

Canada's economy is poised for real GDP growth of 3.1 per cent, according to a new report by RBC Economics. Thanks to a peak in stimulus investment, improved credit markets, and a recovery in consumer spending, the report finds that the economy is expected to grow at a more moderate pace, following a five per cent surge in the final quarter of 2009. Stability in the auto sector and rising commodity prices should continue to support a gradual improvement in the labour market, as unemployment rates are expected to average 8.4 per cent in 2010 before falling to 7.7 per cent in 2011.Consumer spending is expected to improve next year by 2.8 per cent, and business investment will rise by more than seven per cent – resulting in a projected GDP expansion of more than 3.9 per cent in 2011. Among Canadian provinces, economic growth in 2010 will be boosted by gains in Newfoundland and Labrador (4.1 per cent), Saskatchewan (3.6 per cent), B.C. (3.4 per cent), and Ontario (3.3 per cent).

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March 11, 2010

CHHMA Announces Hall Of Fame Inductees

The Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) announced the induction of Mr. Normand Caissie, founder and president of Imperial Manufacturing Group, and Mr. Mario Pilozzi, president and CEO of Walmart Canada (retired), into the Industry Hall of Fame. As part of the 26th year of the hall of fame, the inductees will be honoured at an industry luncheon by the CHHMA on April 7, 2010, held in conjunction with the annual member Spring Conference & AGM. To view the full list of previous inductees or criteria to nominate someone for next year, visit www.chhma.ca.

Bosch Develops Auger Bit

Bosch Power Tools & Accessories says its new ‘Nailkiller Auger Bit’ will “eliminate users’ most common pain points.” The product makes use of a reinforced tip that pushes hidden nails to the side when the bit makes contact, resulting in a bit that lasts, on average, nine times longer than the market leaders, it says. The bit’s dual cutting edges also enable it to slice through hidden fasteners twice per revolution, to avoid the “kickback” experienced when drilling. As a result, it can deliver 61 per cent reduction in torque response. The product is now available through authorized dealers.

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March 10, 2010

True Value, ARA Form Alliance

True Value Company and the American Rental Association (ARA), a trade group for the equipment rental industry, formed a new alliance to expand rental services and member benefits to all of the cooperative’s retailers that offer rental services through local stores or stand-alone rental businesses. “In an economy that has customers watching every penny, rental provides an increasingly popular solution for getting a job done right or hosting a big event without having to lay out the cash for new equipment,” said Michelle Henebry Finnigan, director of True Value’s rental and Maintenance Repair & Operations. While True Value has been a general corporate member of the ARA since 1984, the agreement gives its retailers access to an expanded portfolio of equipment suppliers, education, information, risk management, and government affairs programs. The alliance also combines the resources of both organizations’ respective tradeshow capabilities under the banner of ARA’s annual convention and trade show, ‘The Rental Show.’

CertainTeed Strengthens Soundproof Offering

CertainTeed Gypsum says it’s strengthening its product offering in the Canadian market through the introduction of QuietRock ES soundproof gypsum board – “the most cost-effective, sound-reducing Type X gypsum board on the market today.” The product uses a patent-pending manufacturing process that eliminates the extra layer of paper in its core, which makes it easier to score and snap, boosts productivity, and lowers installed costs, the company says. It also delivers acoustical ratings of Sound Transmission Class (STC) 52 when placed on both sides of single wood stud walls, it says, which compares to an STC rating of 39 in a wall assembly used by traditional gypsum board materials.

DeWALT Launches Line Splitter

DeWALT launched the company’s first ‘Quadraport Regulated Line Splitter,’ geared for professionals that regularly use an air compressor on the jobsite; namely for, framers, roofers, trim carpenters, and automotive trades. DeWALT says the new model solves common issues associated with line splitters contractors are using, including pressure drops, inaccurate readings, and durability problems. The product features an impact-resistant resin body, liquid-filled gauge, and robust handles to withstand jobsite abuse.

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March 9, 2010

Delta Targets High-End Woodworkers

Big plans for the Delta brand this year will put it back in the game, says Clyde Arceneaux, marketing manager equipment for DeWalt, Porter-Cable, and Delta. Speaking at its 'Breakfast of Champions' at the 'Canadian Home Workshop Show,' he said its website will be redesigned to go after high end woodworkers. The new site will offers tips and advice on various techniques as well as a blog. He also announced a number of other initiatives for this year for DeWalt and Porter-Cable. The latter will be giving away a Ford truck while DeWalt will be holding a number of end user events.

Canadians Believe Home A Good Investment

The portion of Canadians likely to purchase a home in the next two years rose to 10 per cent from seven per cent two years ago, according to the '17th Annual RBC Homeownership Study.' Younger Canadians, aged 18 to 24, will lead the charge this year, with those very likely to buy almost doubling to 15 per cent from eight per cent in 2009. The RBC study conducted by Ipsos Reid found that 91 per cent of homeowners believe a home is a good investment, the highest level in 12 years, and one-quarter expect their home to be their primary source of income when they retire. However, Canadians seem to be opting for more caution this year and may be factoring in potential rate increases down the road, the study found. In the wake of the recent housing rebound, six-in-10 Canadians believe housing prices will rise in 2010, up significantly from 25 per cent in 2009. And 64 per cent believe mortgage rates will be higher over the next year, up from 33 per cent a year ago.

Liquidation World Names New Execs

Liquidation World Inc. appointed Chris Rath to Chief Financial Officer, replacing outgoing CFO Dan Ardila who recently resigned. Rath joined Liquidation World in 2008 and has served as Liquidation World's vice-president of finance since October, 2009. In addition, the company selected Corrie Prince for the newly created role of vice-president, Human Resources; and promoted Jim Charbeneau to vice-president, merchandising. In his new role, Prince will lead various initiatives, including assessing talent, improving performance, and reducing turnover. Charbonneau, who joined Liquidation World in the fall, was recently a merchant, allocator, and planner at Winners and Zellers.

RONA Set For Alberta Store Opening

RONA president and CEO Robert Dutton will join store manager Dennis Daly and Strathcona County, AB Mayor Cathy Olesen on March 10 for the grand opening of RONA’s new Sherwood Park, AB store. The 52,000-square-foot store represents a $16 million investment in Sherwood Park and features environmentally-friendly construction eligible for LEED certification. Special activities are planned along with an autograph signing by Edmonton Eskimos’ Graeme Bell.

OSRAM Recognizes LED Excellence

OSRAM SYLVANIA announced the qualifying participants and winners of ‘The NEXT ICON OSRAM LED Design Challenge,’ a competition recognizing excellence in LED design solutions. The fixture prototypes were exhibited at the recent Light Canada Expo at the IIDEX design show in Toronto, and are currently on display at Lightpoint Canada in Mississauga, ON. Winners were awarded as ‘Partners’ in three categories: the Gold Partner went to Toronto-based Zaneen with its SOL wall fixture that uses 1 watt of energy by utilizing the OSRAM HF2X LED. The Silver Partner was awarded to Illumineer (Toronto) with a magnetic voltage connector called Falkor that can swivel 360 degrees and incorporates the OSRAM DRAGONStick LED. And the Bronze Partner went to TMS Lighting (Brampton, ON) with its Winston entry, a wall-mounted outdoor fixture featuring the OSRAM DLM 800 for both uplighting and downlighting.

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March 8, 2010

Home Depot Reaffirms Energy Plan

The Home Depot announced that it reduced its Canadian store energy use by 220 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) since 2005 and that it will achieve a 20 per cent reduction in kWh per square foot usage in its Canadian stores by 2015. The company also says it plans on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its domestic supply chain by 20 per cent within the next five years. “We are proud of the accomplishments The Home Depot Canada has made to-date to operate a more efficient business. We will continue to identify additional ways we can reduce our store energy use and our transportation green house gas emissions,” said Gino DiGioacchino, vice-president of merchandising. As well, it says it’s in the process of calculating its comprehensive carbon footprint based on the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development protocol, the emerging standard for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. The results of the findings will be released in one year’s time.

RONA Campaign To Help Female Victims

RONA inc. formed a new partnership with the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC), to help female victims of domestic violence re-establish their independence and rebuild their lives. To highlight this commitment, RONA is launching a fundraising campaign at all stores across the country, along with a commitment to match the donated funds with labour and building materials to renovate women’s shelters. It will launch the campaign March 8 and will continue until April 4, 2010 in all RONA stores. For every dollar customers donate to the Foundation, RONA will donate the equivalent in labour and building materials to renovate women’s shelters that house female victims. RONA says its goal is to raise $100,000. “Together with RONA and its customers, we are providing real hope for women, children and entire communities from coast to coast,” says Beverley Wybrow, president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Milwaukee Launches New Lines

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation introduced a number of new lines, including its ‘Rasping Jab Saw,’ which eliminates the need for separate rasping and reaming tools; a new 11-in-1 screwdriver with patented ECX bit and hardened tips that prevent bit wear from hardened screws and extends bit life for professional users; and two utility knives designed to increase productivity, namely, the Fastback Utility Knife and the Sliding Utility Knife. “We are constantly looking for ways to make applications easier and increase productivity. The less time wasted switching from tool to tool, the more productive the user will be,” says Tim Albrecht, group product manager for Milwaukee. 

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March 5, 2010

Building Permits Down 4.9%

Building permit value in Canada fell 4.9 per cent in January, to $5.7 billion, says Statistics Canada. However, the monthly value was still 32.7 per cent higher than in January 2009. The drop was due to a substantial decline in building intentions in the non-residential sector, which was valued at $1.7 billion in January – a 21 per cent decline from December. For the residential sector, the value of permits increased 4.1 per cent to $4 billion, almost double the value registered in January 2009. The total value of construction intentions dropped in five provinces and two territories in January, with the largest declines in Alberta and B.C. Nationally, municipalities approved the construction of 18,685 new dwellings in January, which was up 1.7 per cent from December. This increase was largely a result of rising single-family dwellings (up 6.9 per cent to 9,285 units), while the number of multiple-family dwellings approved fell 2.9 per cent to 9,400.

Rust-Oleum Acquires Dutch Company

Coatings and sealants producer, Rust-Oleum, has acquired Netherlands-based Chemtec Chemicals BV. With annual sales of approximately $6 million, Chemtec’s primary products are specialty cleaners used for a broad range of exterior surfaces, along with anti-slip and anti-graffiti coatings. "Chemtec fits well within our growing stable of European businesses,” said Frank C. Sullivan, chairman and CEO of Rust-Oleum's parent company, RPM International Inc. “We expect to significantly enhance Chemtec product sales by leveraging the vast distribution channels of our Rust-Oleum, Mathys, Tor, and Watco operations in Europe, which will broaden Chemtec's geographic reach." 

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March 4, 2010

Celebrities To Cover Sustainability At Show

TV celebrities Bryan Baeumler and Mag Ruffman will appear at the International Home & Garden Show, encouraging sustainable products and practices. The show, running from March 18 to 21 at the International Centre in Toronto, will feature a Q & A hosted by Canada’s ‘Tool Girl,’ Mag Ruffman, which will include sustainable home improvement products as prizes. And HGTV’s ‘Disaster DIY’ host, Bryan Baeumler, will highlight the real life experiences of building a dream home with your spouse, that’s on budget and eco-smart. For more information on the show, visit www.internationalhomeshow.ca.

Armstrong Reports 4Q Loss

Armstrong World Industries reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.8 million, versus a loss of $25.5 million for the same period last year. Sales dropped 7.82 per cent to $653 million from $708.4 obtained in last year's comparable period. For 2010, the flooring, ceiling, and cabinet producer said it expects sales to fall within the range of $2.65 billion to $2.85 billion. The company reported full-year sales of $2.78 billion, down 18.06 per cent from $3.39 billion in 2008, and net income of $77.7 million, down 4.07 per cent from $81 million reported last year.

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March 3, 2010

Housing Starts Stronger For 2010

Housing starts rebounded in the second half of 2009 and will strengthen in 2010, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) first quarter ‘Housing Market Outlook, Canada Edition.’ Following a total of 149,081 units in 2009, housing starts are expected to be in the range of 152,000 to 189,300 units in 2010, with a point forecast of 171,250 units. For 2011, housing starts are expected to be in the range of 156,400 to 205,600 units, with a point forecast of 175,150 units. "Canadian housing markets will benefit from improving economic conditions and low mortgage rates," said Bob Dugan, chief economist for CMHC. "As well, measures recently announced by the Government of Canada to support the long-term stability of Canada's housing market will help moderate housing activity as some potential buyers will have to save a larger down payment or consider a less expensive home."

B&D Segment Acquires Fastener Specialist

Emhart Teknologies, a Black & Decker company and a producer of fastening and assembly technologies, acquired Fastener Innovation Technology, Inc. (FIT), a designer and manufacturer of specialized aerospace fasteners based in Gardena, California. The transaction closed March 1, 2010. "This acquisition allows us to better serve the aerospace, military and commercial aircraft industries where FIT enjoys a strong reputation among the world's leading aerospace companies," said Emhart Teknologies President Michael A. Tyll. FIT has long-term customer relationships with Boeing, Honeywell, Bell, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Embraer and Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

Boise Cascade Reports 4Q Results

Boise Cascade Holdings, L.L.C., a wholesale distributor of building products, had net income of $33.6 million for its fourth quarter, including a $41.8 million gain on the sale of 17.6 million Boise Inc. shares held by the company. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was negative $12.4 million, compared to negative EBITDA of $31.5 million in fourth quarter 2008. New residential construction was “extraordinarily low” throughout 2009, which was reflected in the reduced demand for the products it distributes and manufactures, the company said. Building Materials Distribution segment sales were $368.9 million in the fourth quarter, down 10 per cent from the same quarter a year ago. Wood Products segment sales in the fourth quarter were $136.8 million, down 12 per cent from the same quarter a year ago.

Antolini First To Brand Stone

Antolini, worldwide producer of natural stone products, debuted its ‘Signature Stone Collection,’ which is considered to be the first branded natural stone. While natural stone has been used in decor and construction for thousands of years, Antolini says it is the first producer to put its name on its products. Homeowners, architects, designers, and contractors do not know who makes the stone they are considering for applications, the company says. Now, product information about a stone's origins, such as how the stone was quarried, what materials and equipment were used to process the stone, and the technical practices of the factory are being made available through the branding initiative. "Because Antolini controls every step of the production process, from the quarry to polishing, we are confident that every slab is the best available in terms of quality, beauty and value," said general manager, Alberto Antolini. The line includes varieties of granite and quartzite, and are available in over thirty showrooms in Canada and the U.S.

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March 2, 2010

Lowe’s Confirms Ontario Sites

Lowe’s Canada verified three former Sam’s Club locations – in Vaughn, Pickering, and London, ON – would be sites for new store openings by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010. The three Ontario locations are among the eight to 10 Canadian store openings planned for this year. Alan Huggins, president of Lowe’s Companies Canada, confirmed that it has secured three sites in Calgary, which are under construction; a site in British Columbia; and is closing on a site in Saskatchewan soon. Lowe’s currently operates 16 stores in Canada.

Global Innovator Awards Scheduled

The 2010 International Home & Housewares Show announced it would recognize retailing excellence around the world, through its 10th annual Global Innovator Awards (‘gia’). Eighteen regional winners from 17 countries, with up to five winners earning special distinction of gia Global Honoree, will be honoured on March 14 during the show. The 10-year celebration will include some historical elements worked into the ceremony and, the organizers say, some “surprises” this year as well. The show runs from March 14 to 16 at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL. For more information, visit www.housewares.org.

Retail Marketing Agency Created

Omnicom Group, a marketing services company, announced the creation of a new agency, Retail 3, to address the needs of retail marketers. Retail 3 is a national network of retail experts with experience in creating multi-platform marketing programs that aim to drive retail traffic and sales in local markets. "The company’s launch extends this existing experience with new and added capabilities to deliver campaign effectiveness from brand awareness to the point-of-sale retail buying experience,” said John Wren, president and CEO of Omnicom Group. For more information, visit www.omnicomgroup.com.

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March 1, 2010

TSC Launches Franchise Program

TSC Stores has purchased Bill Havekes’ farm supply retail store in Kingston, ON, and plans on converting it to a franchise operator within the next few months. Bill and Marie Havekes are now planning to retire after spending the past 15 years building their business. The purchase is part of the ‘TSC Villager’ franchise program and its wholesale partnership program with independent farm supply retailers, which TSC recently announced as a way of expanding its store footprint. TSC Stores also announced positive business results in 2009, with total sales growth of eight per cent, comparable store sales growth of four per cent, and improved year-over-year bottom line profitability. TSC says it’s looking “to build on this momentum” by realigning most stores during the first quarter of this year, resulting in a stronger merchandising presence for core categories that support farm activities; and by strengthening relationships with core customers by executing cross-marketing programs with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

CertainTeed Introduces Sweepstakes

CertainTeed launched its ‘New Homeowner Sweepstakes,’ which will draw150 homeowners for a chance to win a $500 or $1,000 cash prize. Homeowners that have had CertainTeed roofing shingles installed by a credentialed roofing company and are backed by the SureStart PLUS warranty are eligible. "We are thrilled to offer homeowners durable, aesthetically pleasing roofing shingles along with a chance to win cash,” says Jay Butch, senior marketing manager for CertainTeed Roofing.

Barrette Appoints Canadian Manager

Barrette Outdoor Living, in Mississauga, Ontario, appointed Brent Feilders Canadian country manager for wood, aluminum and vinyl fences, ornamental lattice and arbours, and outdoor storage sheds.

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February 26, 2010

RONA Reports Positive Quarter

RONA inc. posted fourth-quarter consolidated sales of $1.14 million, up $16.3 million or 1.5 per cent, from the $1.12 million in the same 2008 period. The growth stems from a 0.7 per cent increase in same-store sales, RONA said. Quarterly profit also edged up $1.1 million from 2008 to $30.9 million. “This improvement in our performance reflects the beginnings of an economic recovery, plus the success of RONA’s own efficiency improvement program and our many renovation stimulus initiatives,” said president and CEO Robert Dutton. Full-year net earnings dropped 11.6 per cent to $138.3-million, and sales fell 4.4 per cent to $4.68-billion for the year. Same-store sales for the year also declined 4.8 per cent, due mainly to a drop in housing starts, especially in the first half of the year, the retailer said. RONA also attributed low consumer confidence to the lag in sales performance, despite some recent improvements.

New GTA Home Sales Positive Trend

The 2,162 new homes and condominiums sold in the Greater Toronto Area in January 2010 reflects an ongoing, positive trend in new home sales established in the second half of 2009, said the Building Industry & Land Development Association (BILD). Compared to the absolute bottom of the market at the height of the global economic crisis in January 2009, total new home sales are up 237 per cent. Yet BILD says such comparisons are misleading. Comparing with prior years, January sales are up 11 per cent over January 2008 (1,942 sales) and 17 per cent over January 2007 (1,836 sales). "The market is reasonably healthy but certainly not frothy," said BILD President and CEO Stephen Dupuis. "In the face of constant government regulation and taxation, the industry is doing its best to maintain market momentum by offering tremendous value in both the high- and low-rise sectors." Total new home sales in January were split 53 per cent low-rise (single-detached, semi-detached, and townhomes) and 47 per cent high-rise condominium suites.

Lowe’s/Woolworths Name Aussie Locations

Woolworths' hardware, in a joint venture with Lowe's Companies Inc., announced its first 12 big-box locations for Australia. The plan will start with a launch in Victoria, through Victorian Planning minister Justin Madden. Apart from the 12 locations mentioned, Woolworths/Lowe’s will also start exploring sites in Victoria for expansion and plan to open another 18 stores in the next five years. The first Australian locations include Coolaroo, Burnside, Preston, Hawthorn East, Oakleigh South, South Morang, Mornington, Wendouree, Geelong, Bendigo, Knoxfield, and Carrum Downs.

DeWalt Donates To Fallen Heroes

DeWALT Canada will donate up to $50,000 to the Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund, which provides grants to the families of Canadian soldiers lost in military operations. “There is a real need for people to show their support to the families of the fallen, and to honour their ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace,” says Lisa Twomey, founder of the memorial fund. "We are excited to have DeWALT onboard as our first national level sponsor.” The grants to the families of Canadian soldiers lost during military operations may fund a physical memorial or be used as a donation in their memory to a favourite charity.

Supreme Court Reverses Decision

The Supreme Court of Canada reversed the decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal and held that the particular exclusion clause contained in the request for proposals (RFP) did not permit the B.C. transportation and highway ministry to accept a non-compliant bid. In the Tercon Construction Ltd. v. British Columbia (Transportation and Highways) 2010 SCC 4 decision, while the court held that the exclusion clause did not apply to the facts of this case, it left open the possibility of more broadly worded exclusion clauses being sufficient to limit liability, including liability for breach of a duty of fairness. This is the latest decision from the Supreme Court of Canada attempting to balance the interests of owners and tenderers involved in the tendering process, says Fasken Martineau.

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February 25, 2010

Robinson Women-In-Business Finalist

Susan Robinson, president and CEO of IRLY Distributors Ltd., has been named as a finalist of the Surrey Board of Trade’s inaugural Surrey Women in Business Awards. Nominations were submitted in three categories and judged on the nominee’s work in Surrey, business acumen, leadership, balanced lifestyle, and community involvement and service. The winner will be announced at a special luncheon event on Wednesday, March 10th.

Dream Home Delivers Customizable Design

The 2010 National Home Show’s ‘Dream Home’ features new building techniques that incorporate re-usable, eco-friendly, modular home design. Presented by RE/MAX and designed by Richard Librach Architect Inc., the Dream Home is an eco-friendly structure made of building blocks that can be moved, re-used, and expanded to create something that moves with a home owner to fit changing lifestyle needs. "By building the house in blocks, we are giving the home owner the flexibility to change their living spaces at will thus creating a truly customizable home environment that can grow and shrink to fit the lifestyle of its occupants," said Brendan Charters of Eurodale Developments. To learn more about the 2010 Dream Home or about the show, which runs until Feb. 28 in Toronto, visit www.nationalhomeshow.com.

Roofing Market Growth Expected

U.S. demand for roofing is expected to increase 2.4 per cent per year through 2014 to 274.5 million squares (valued at $17.9 billion), according to a new study from research firm, The Freedonia Group, Inc. Although gains will be modest, the growth represents a turnaround compared to the declines in the 2004-2009 period. Demand will be spurred by a rebound in housing starts and fuelled by above-average gains in the residential roofing market through 2014. Asphalt shingles – the most popular roofing product due to its dominant position in the large residential roofing market – will rise in demand through 2014. Laminated asphalt shingles, which totalled one-third of the shingle market in 1999, is expected to account for 80 per cent of asphalt shingle demand in 2014. The study says roofing tile and other roofing products will see the most rapid gains through 2014. Demand for green roofing products, such as composite shingles and photovoltaic roofing, is expected to grow more than four per cent annually through 2014 – thanks to rising interest in products that reduce building utility costs.

IRLY Promotes Olsen

IRLY Distributors promoted Brad Olsen to Hardware Manager. In his new position, Olsen will oversee the procurement of hardware goods in order to supply dealers with the right programs, while keeping close control of inventory, pricing, margins, and turns. Olsen has worked as IRLY’s hardware buyer for the past 15 years.  

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February 24, 2010

Home Depot 4Q Earnings Up

The Home Depot posted fourth-quarter net earnings of $342 million, compared to a loss of $54 million in the same quarter of last year. It also outlined a brighter full-year outlook with sales growth pegged at 2.5 per cent for the upcoming year. Full-year profit rose 18 per cent to $2.66 billion while annual sales fell seven per cent to $66.18 billion from $71.29 billion. The company says consumer demand for kitchen, bath, paint, flooring, and plumbing products is picking up, while higher-priced items including lumber, hardware, and electrical products were weaker. Fourth quarter sales fell 0.3 per cent to $14.6 billion, however, comparable store sales were up 1.2 per cent globally. American shoppers continued to show signs of tighter spending as same store sales fell 1.1 per cent south of the border. “Despite the tough economic environment, we were able to make solid progress against our key initiatives in 2009," said Chairman and Chief Executive Frank Blake. As a “testament to confidence,” Blake said the company will raise its quarterly cash dividend for the first time since 2006 by five per cent.

Walmart To Open Supercentres

Walmart Canada says it plans on opening 35 to 40 supercentres in 2010, with specific store locations to be announced over the coming weeks and months. These projects will include new stores, relocations of existing stores, store expansions, and store remodels -- representing a combined investment of almost half a billion dollars in Canadian communities. The company says the supercentres will generate approximately 6,500 store and construction jobs. In addition to the expansions, Walmart Canada says it is investing in its first sustainable refrigerated distribution centre, which is anticipated to open in Balzac, AB, in the fall of this year, representing an investment of $115 million.

Sears Reports Profitable Quarter

Sears Holdings Corp. reported its most profitable quarter in three years, earning $430 million in its fourth quarter – more than double last year's results. Sears Canada Inc. reported that fourth-quarter profit was up 29 per cent from the year-earlier period despite a drop in sales revenue. Its total revenues for the 13-week period ended January 30, 2010 were $1.525 billion versus $1.616 billion for the same year-ago period, a decrease of 5.6 per cent. Same store sales also decreased 1.7 per cent. Total revenues for its full-year period were $5.201 billion versus $5.733 billion in 2009, a decrease of 9.3 per cent. Sears says it has carefully cut costs and inventory, and also launched out a series of new online efforts aimed at boosting business on the Web.

DuPont Announces Dedicated Sales Team

DuPont Canada announced that Guardian Building Products is no longer a distributor of DuPont Weatherization Systems products in Canada, which include DuPont Tyvek HomeWrap, DuPont Tyvek CommercialWrap, DuPont Tyvek StuccoWrap, and DuPont Flashing Products. To facilitate sales to building supply dealers, it has put in place a dedicated team. “We are excited about this change and believe that it will benefit all building supply dealers carrying DuPont products,” said Glen Roberts, business director – DuPont Building Innovations, Canada. “We have arrangements in place with buying groups across Canada and are actively contacting independent dealers to review their needs and set up accounts.”

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February 23, 2010

Lowe’s Reports Quarterly Rise

Lowe’s says modestly higher sales and cost cutting helped its fourth-quarter profit rise 27 per cent to $205 million, from $162 million last year – its first quarterly increase since 2007. The retail chain also says it expects sales to rise this year thanks to a recovering housing market and an overall improved economy. However, the snowy month of February still kept Lowe's cautious about its first-quarter outlook. Revenue also increased nearly two per cent to $10.17 billion, from $9.98 billion last year. The company says its most popular sellers included appliances, seasonal products, paint, flooring, cabinets, and countertops. For the year, Lowe’s reports profit fell 19 per cent to $1.78 billion, while revenue fell two per cent to $47.22 billion.

RONA Acquires Plumbing Operation

RONA inc. has acquired, through its subsidiary Noble Trade, the assets of Plomberie Payette & Perreault inc, which specialized in the distribution and retail sales of finishing plumbing products. The business also has a 20,000-square-foot distribution centre in Le Gardeur, QC and two retail outlets operating under Les boutiques Eaudace banner, one in Repentigny, QC and one in Boucherville, QC. The transaction has been finalized pending certain conditions and is expected to close on March 1, 2010. “Besides breaking into a new geographic market, the acquisition enhances our existing product and service offer in the specialized plumbing market,” said Michael Storfer, vice-president of RONA’s Commercial and Professional Market division.

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February 22, 2010

Retail Sales Edge Up

Retail sales increased 0.4 per cent in December to $35.3 billion, mostly offsetting the decline in November, says Statistics Canada. In volume terms, retail sales continue to follow an upward trend since the beginning of 2009, as December retail sales volume rose 0.6 per cent. Sales increased in five of eight retail store sectors for the month, as November's unseasonably warm weather caused some consumers to postpone purchases of clothing and footwear until December. The largest contributor to the overall increase was a 3.3 per cent rise in sales at general merchandisers, which include department stores. Sales at furniture, home furnishings, and electronic stores (+0.5 per cent) have been trending upward since May 2009 – with a 1.8 per cent gain at furniture stores in December. Lower sales at food and beverage stores dampened retail sales the most in December, posting a 1.3 per cent drop.

Owens Corning Reports Profit

Owens Corning posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $21 million, compared to its net loss of $34 million in the same 2008 period. Net sales were $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2009, a 7.7 per cent drop from sales of $1.3 billion in the same 2008 quarter. However, the company’s net earnings for fiscal year 2009 was $64 million, compared to a net loss of $813 million for year 2008. Regarding its insulation business, demand was down mainly because of lower U.S. housing starts. Sales in its roofing business were comparable year-over-year thanks to higher selling prices offsetting lower sales volumes. "I'm pleased with what we accomplished in 2009 in the face of weakness in the U.S. housing market and the global economy," said Mike Thaman, chairman and CEO. "Our roofing business achieved record results… We finished the year with a strong balance sheet.”

Trex Appoints New Chairman

Trex, a manufacturer and distributor of decking and railing, announced its president and CEO Ronald Kaplan would take over as chairman of the board, effective May 5. Also effective on that date, Andrew Ferrari – who has served as chairman since January 2008 and is one of the four original founders of the company in 1996 – will retire. In addition, the board of directors also named Jay Gratz lead independent director, effective May 5.

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February 19, 2010

IRLY Welcomes New Member

IRLY Building Centres announced its newest member, Mouldings Plus Building Supplies in Prince George, BC, which is owned and operated by Stacey Gunderson. Gunderson bought and sold lumber for 16 years and then decided to start his own business five years ago. He moved into the current 3,000 square-foot location a year ago and plans to gradually expand his store to 9,000 square feet. Currently, he offers mainly finishing products, but will now expand his hardware line and add lumber and plywood.

Wal-Mart Profit Up, Sales Down

Wal-Mart’s fourth-quarter profit rose $4.63 billion, from $3.79 billion, but quarterly sales dropped 1.6 per cent at its existing U.S. stores. Overall sales in the quarter fell below expectations, rising by only 4.6 per cent to $112.82 billion. The discount retailer said weak sales were a result of high U.S. unemployment, disruptive store renovations, and deflation in grocery and electronics prices. “U.S. sales will be more challenging in the first quarter, as Wal-Mart U.S. cycles through strong year-over-year comparisons and deflation,” said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and chief executive. Wal-Mart's U.S. division had a 0.5 per cent decline in total sales to $70.97 billion in the quarter; Sam's Club sales rose 3.8 per cent to $12.28 billion; and the company's international business enjoyed a 19.5 per cent gain to $29.57 billion.

Housing Market ‘Past Peak’

The number of homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards dropped in January 2010 from the previous month, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association. Seasonally adjusted national home sales fell 2.8 per cent following near-record levels in December. Ontario accounted for about half the national decline, while activity also trended down in B.C., Alberta, and Manitoba, but reached new heights in Quebec. “January results suggest that the national resale housing market may be past the recent peak,” said CREA chief economist, Gregory Klump. “One car doesn’t make a parade, so a few more months of results showing a cooling trend will be required before talk of a Canadian housing bubble begins to fade. It could take until the second half of the year before a cooling trend becomes evident, since home buying activity may continue to be accelerated in the first half of 2010 by expected interest rate increases, and by the introduction of the HST in Ontario and British Columbia on Canada Day.”

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February 18, 2010

BMR Adds NB, QC Locations

BMR LE GROUPE announced recent additions to its network of stores. Among the new locations are Quincaillerie Saumarez Ltée in Saumarez, NB; Bridéco Inc. in Saint-Honoré-de-Chicoutimi, QC; Quincaillerie Yamaska Inc. in Yamaska West, QC; and Matériaux SMB in La Minerve, QC.

Ace Reports 4Q Results

Ace Hardware Corporation reported a net income of $95.7 million for the fiscal year ended January 2, 2010, an increase of $9.9 million or 11.5 per cent, compared to $85.8 million for 2008. For the fourth quarter of 2009, net income was $12.4 million, a decrease of $2.8 million from 2008. The retailer-owned cooperative says fourth quarter net income and adjusted EBITDA were lower compared to 2008 because of the impact of reduced sales in the thirteen week period for fiscal 2009 as compared to the fourteen week period of fiscal 2008. “While we are disappointed with our revenues for 2009, our overall performance was solid in what was a very challenging year,” said Ray Griffith, Ace president and CEO. “We reduced operating expenses for a third consecutive year and strategically invested in our business to support the best hardware retailers in the industry.”

Leon’s Pleased With 4Q

Leon's Furniture Limited reported a fourth-quarter net income of $24 million compared with a profit of $23.2 million a year ago. The company’s sales dropped four per cent to $198 million, while total Leon's sales, including franchise sales, fell to $255.7 million. Same store corporate sales for the quarter fell 4.5 per cent as well. Although sales were down in 4Q 2009, the company says it’s “very pleased with the strong profit results this quarter,” as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.

TASK Launches Bamboo Hammers

TASK TOOLS has launched its first line of FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified bamboo hammers, reflecting its “commitment to supporting environmental sustainability,” the company said. Along with sustainable qualities, such as rapid growth, bamboo is also harder than oak and has a greater tensile strength than steel, the company says, making it an ideal material for hammer handles. “We can make better environmental decisions without compromising on product quality or features.”

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February 17, 2010

All Weather Windows Appoints Executives

Canadian-owned window and door manufacturer, All Weather Windows, announced a number of executive changes meant to “strengthen the company’s management structure.” The new executive appointments include Bill Scott – senior vice-president, sales & marketing; Robert Gilles – senior vice-president, research & development; Roger Hutlett – vice-president & CFO; Scott Walker – vice-president, manufacturing, residential; Gordon Gabert – vice-president, commercial division and corporate accounts; Jason Sutton – national director, sales; John Mayskey – national director, operations; John Wagner – regional manager, Ontario and Atlantic; Lorne Wood – director, special programs; and Rainey Reid – director, research & development.

CIL Site Sets Colour Mood

CIL Paints unveiled a new website that features a ‘mood test’ to help consumers choose the right colours. “Studies show that even once in store, many consumers still don’t know what paint colour to buy, yet almost everyone can describe what kind of feeling they would like to create in their room,” says Jennifer Jones, marketing communications manager. With that, the test, at www.cil.ca, walks visitors through a series of images and asks them to click on their favourite ones. The results reveal décor taste and users are directed to a colour palette to help them create their desired ambience. Visitors can put together their own swatch of colours that are guaranteed to co-ordinate, or opt to have the site’s Colour Coordinator recommend colour schemes in real-time.

Flat Glass Demand Growing

Demand for flat glass in China is expected to rise 7.9 per cent per annum through 2013 to 2.7 billion square metres, according to a new study from research firm, The Freedonia Group, Inc. The study, entitled ‘Flat Glass in China,’ predicts government spending initiatives, ongoing industrialization, rising income levels, and expanding vehicle production will fuel sales. Among the major trends outlined, demand for float glass will grow rapidly at the expense of lower quality sheet glass; and high value fabricated glass, such as safety glass and insulating glass, will increasingly be used by consumers in place of lower value unfabricated glass. Unfabricated float glass will remain the largest category through 2013, with demand growing 8.3 per cent annually to 1.5 billion square meters. Demand for safety glass is projected to advance 13.2 per cent per year to 335 million square meters in 2013. And demand for insulating glass is expected to grow 11.8 per cent annually through 2013.

OSRAM Announces Lighting Courses

OSRAM SYLVANIA announced its 2010 lighting-course offerings for LIGHTPOINT Canada. The courses are designed to deliver pertinent information within conductive learning environments, the company says, and are scheduled between April and September 2010. Courses being offered this year include: Lighting Essentials, LED Lighting Application Workshop, an online L.C. Examination Study Workshop, and Lighting for Tomorrow - Going Green Workshop. For more information, visit http://www.sylvania.com/Lighting101/

Hilti Introduces Powerful Breaker

Hilti says it has introduced its most powerful breaker to date. The TE 1500-AVR maintains 22 foot-pounds of impact energy generated by a 1,800-watt motor and delivers up to 1,950 blows per minute to break up floors, slabs, or foundations. The company says it did not sacrifice operator comfort for power, since it offers a best-in-class weight-to-power ratio and a sub-chassis active vibration reduction (AVR) system.

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February 16, 2010

RONA Ads Highlight Olympic Contribution

RONA has launched its new ‘Made in Canada’ 2010 Winter Games advertising campaign, which includes 14 television spots, numerous in-store displays, and a dedicated micro-website. The company says the campaign is designed to celebrate its contribution toward building the 2010 Winter Games and to help build a sense of pride among consumers. “The messages in the campaign highlight the distinctive aspects of the RONA 2010 Winter Games sponsorship as a National Partner that contributed toward building the Games in a very real way,” said Pierre L’Heureux, vice-president of marketing, image and sponsorships. As a national partner, RONA developed a five-year program to take part in the preparations for the 2010 Winter Games, involving direct support for 100 Canadian athletes and assistance in building Olympic venues.

Canadian Tire Coins Celebrate Family

Canadian Tire introduced a series of limited edition Canadian Tire 'Money' coins that celebrate family moments. Manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint, a different coin will be available each week between Feb. 12 and March 4, 2010, to customers who spend $25 or more at a store. Like Canadian Tire 'Money,' the bills are redeemable for merchandise and have no expiry date. The coin series follows the launch in December of its first Canadian Tire 'Money' coin and confirmation that work is underway to evolve the loyalty program. The first coin, depicting a shinny hockey game, is available from Feb. 12 to Feb. 18; the second, celebrating tobogganing, is available Feb. 19 and Feb. 25; and the final coin will be available beginning Feb. 26 and shows a youngster learning to skate.

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February 12, 2010

Genuine Economic Upturn Revealed At Show

Derek Holt, vice-president Economics, Scotia Capital, revealed “genuine improvements in overall employment conditions and consumer confidence,” at the Hardlines Johns Manville Dealer Conference, in association with the Canadian Home Improvement Show in Toronto. Holt showed that Scotia Capital’s leading economic indicators – which are on an upswing – are in sync and mirroring hardware sales in Canada. While improved equity markets, more affordable housing, and low rates boost economies in the U.S. and Canada, Holt warns there are risks for the many people on variable rate mortgages. If rates go up, he said, many may become over-extended, which could cause further financial woes.

IRLY Remembers Former General Manager

Ernest (Ernie) Enns, former general manager of IRLY Distributors, passed away at the age of 79. Enns will be remembered “for his deep faith in God, his dedication to his family, and his generosity,” said IRLY. After owning an IRLY BIRD store in Richmond, BC, he became general manager of IRLY Distributors in 1977, a position he held for nine years.  Ernie was involved in a number of business ventures, and retired from Lynden Door in spring 2009.

Women Making Industry ‘Beautiful’

Women have made the home improvement industry “beautiful,” said Rob Wilbrink, president of BMF Merchandising, at the Hardlines Johns Manville Dealer Conference, in association with the Canadian Home Improvement Show in Toronto. During his presentation on merchandising trends, Wilbrink explained that when the retail industry realized women made the majority of purchasing decisions, stores became brighter, cleaner, and more inviting. Yet this change has not only been valued by women over the years, but men and contractor customers have come to greatly appreciate these overall store improvements too.

Liquidation World Announces 1Q Profit

Liquidation World Inc. announced a net income of $0.7 million for the first quarter of 2010, compared to a net loss of $0.8 million in the previous year quarter. First-quarter revenue was $44.1 million, compared to $47.1 million in the first quarter of 2009 representing a decrease of $3 million or 6.2 per cent. The company attributed the decrease to a decline in same store sales of $3.8 million or 8.5 per cent, offset, however, by a net favourable impact of $0.6 million arising from new store openings net of store closures and a net increase in wholesale and other revenues of $0.2 million. During the first quarter of 2010 the Company opened five new stores which generated sales of $3.1 million. "Earning $1.7 million of EBITDA in the quarter serves as some measure of validation that the many changes we have implemented over the last three quarters are beginning to result in tangible improvement in our business performance,” said Seth Marks, president & CEO.

Window Covering Offers Clean Solution

Sun Glow Window Covering Products of Canada is introducing a number of products that are environmentally friendly and offer healthier alternatives. Its Greenguard certified Sheerweave fabric and Pure Screen helps clean the air of allergens and toxins such as nicotine, ammonia, and formaldehyde. Sold exclusively in North America through its dealer network, it is ISO 14001 which certifies both the final product and the complete company.

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February 11, 2010

Taiga Reports 3Q Profit

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had third-quarter net earnings of $0.9 million compared to a loss of $2.6 million in the comparative quarter of the previous year. Sales dropped at a reduced pace of 5.9 per cent from $213.8 million in the third quarter of the prior year to $201.1 in the third quarter of this year. According to the building products distributor, the decline was due to reduced levels of new home construction, but its weakness in sales was offset by reduced selling and admin costs. The company also says management will continue its operating cost reduction program, and that it benefited from low interest expense.

Walmart To Launch Sustainable Index

Walmart Canada plans to launch a Sustainable Product Index to help customers across Canada evaluate the sustainability of the products they purchase, from raw materials to disposal. Announced by the retailer in the U.S. this past summer, Walmart Canada is the first operation outside of the U.S. to initiate the process for the index. The announcement was made at the Walmart Canada Green Business Summit in Vancouver, which brought together more than 300 of Canada's largest corporations. “Once launched, the Sustainable Product Index will give customers transparency into the entire lifecycle of the products they buy, so they know they're safe, made-well and produced responsibly," said David Cheesewright, president and CEO. The company will introduce the index initiative in three long-range phases, namely: Phase 1 - Supplier assessment, Phase 2 - Creation of database, and Phase 3 - Development and launch of customer tool. Timing for phases two and three of the initiative will be determined later this year.

Vancouver Olympic LEED Status Honoured

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) recognized the achievements of builders in reaching LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status for over 31 Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic venues. Facilities like the Richmond Olympic Oval are demonstrating savings of 878,000 kWh or 15 per cent, and the Vancouver Olympic Village is designed for a reduction in energy use by 53 per cent or savings of 11,500,000 kWh. At the awards ceremony, held at the International Media Centre at Robson Square, the CaGBC honoured the Province of British Columbia, VANOC, the cities of Vancouver, Richmond, and the Resort municipality of Whistler for their global leadership in sustainability. “From a buildings’ perspective these are the greenest Olympics ever,” said Thomas Mueller, CaGBC president and CEO.

Change Made To Taiga Board

The Board of Directors of Taiga Building Products Ltd. announced the resignation of Sherwin John Y. Lim from the Board, effective March 31, 2010, and thanked him for “six years of dedicated service.” Effective April 1, 2010, Jim Bradshaw will be appointed to the Board of Directors and retiring as president and CEO.

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February 10, 2010

OSRAM, Traxon Join Forces

OSRAM has set up a joint venture with Traxon Technologies Ltd., which strengthens its portfolio in the field of professional LED systems and solutions, OSRAM says. The new company, in which OSRAM has the majority share, is one of the providers in the growing market for LED technology in the field of architectural, hospitality, and retail. The company operates globally in Asia, Europe, and North America. “This new joint venture will make OSRAM one of the leading providers of LED solutions,” said OSRAM CEO, Martin Goetzeler. “We intend to create an integrated offering across the entire LED spectrum which will be marketed through the joint worldwide partner- and sales network.”

Show Promises An Array Of Fixtures

The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) reports that one of the largest categories to be represented on the floor are new plumbing fixtures – from sleek new faucet designs and sinks, to high-tech toilets and showers. The 47th annual event – taking place at Chicago’s McCormick Place on April 16-18 – will be featuring major manufacturers such as Kohler, Moen, TOTO USA, Delta Faucet, Masco Corporation, Aquatics, and more. More than 30,000 attendees and nearly 700 exhibitors and co-exhibitors are expected to attend. For more information, visit www.kbis.com.

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February 9, 2010

JELD-WEN Celebrates 50 With Ads

JELD-WEN launched a new ad series in conjunction with their 50th anniversary, which will focus on environmental benefits and design options. The campaign debuts this month with a consumer-focused series dubbed ‘Real Life’ and trade-focused ads called ‘Inspired.’ The print ads will appear in builder directories, lifestyle magazines, and architectural publications throughout Canada and will be supported by television and radio throughout the year. “We thought it was important to launch a campaign that celebrates our accomplishments and our customers,” says Sante Cigana, Canadian vice-president. “This campaign captures the essence of why people invest in windows and the environmental benefits they can expect once they purchase a JELD-WEN product.”

RIMA Launches Verification Program

The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association International (RIMA-I) introduced its voluntary ‘Product Verification Program,’ allowing member manufacturers to verify products using a third-party accredited laboratory. The association says it launched the program because many business professionals and consumers want to know if products meet code standards and will perform as expected.  The program identifies reflective products that fulfill test requirements in accordance with the current applicable ASTM standards, and utilizes an independent, accredited testing and inspection laboratory to determine if the products comply. The verification process is currently available for products sold in the U.S., however, the program will soon be expanded to include Canada and Europe followed by other countries around the world. For more information, visit www.rimainternational.org.

Ace Introduces Mobile Site

Ace Hardware Corporation unveiled its new mobile site (http://acehardware.com), giving its customers the ability to browse company information from hand-held devices. The mobile site was launched with the help of TrueActionTM, a GSI Commerce company. “We are able to provide our customers with the ability to search their local Ace ads, find the nearest Ace store, and link to our social sites all from the convenience of their phone,” said Mark Lowe, eCommerce marketing supervisor for Ace. “It’s a big moment for us, and we’re excited to be one of the first in our industry to connect with the mobile consumer.” 

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February 8, 2010

Lowe’s Opens First Mexico Store

Lowe’s has expanded internationally again with the opening of its first store in Mexico, in the northern industrial city of Monterrey. The store features 94,000 square feet of retail sales space and an adjacent garden centre. Through an investment of $100 million, Lowe's says it will open five stores in the Monterrey area over the next couple of years – going up against competitor Home Depot Inc., which has more than 70 stores in Mexico.

CanWel Announces New Name, Symbol

With the recent successful conversion from an income fund to a dividend-paying corporation, and with the acquisition of Broadleaf Logistics Company, CanWel reports it will change its name to the CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd., following its annual shareholders meeting in May 2010. It also announced the commencement of trading under its new symbol, CWX. 

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February 5, 2010

Building Permit Value Advances

Contractors took out $6.2 billion in building permits in Dec., representing an increase of 2.4 per cent from Nov. and a 32.6 per cent increase from Dec. 2008, says Statistics Canada. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued permits worth $2.3 billion, 6.8 per cent more than in Nov. and 13.3 per cent more than in Dec. 2008 – stemming from an increase in the commercial components in Alberta and Ontario. On the residential side, the value of permits remained steady at $3.9 billion, with declines in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba, but offset by a gain in B.C. After nine consecutive monthly increases, the value of building permits for single-family dwellings dropped 1.3 per cent to $2.5 billion. Municipalities issued $1.3 billion worth of permits for multi-family dwellings in Dec., up 2.1 per cent from Nov. The value of commercial building permits increased for the third straight month, advancing 29.2 per cent to $1.5 billion in December. The consecutive gains raised the level of construction intentions for commercial buildings to its highest point in 2009. The December increase was largely due to construction intentions for office buildings in Ontario and Alberta.

BMR Helps Deploy Haiti Reconstruction

BMR LE GROUPE is contributing to the Haiti reconstruction efforts by joining forces with the non-governmental organization, Emergency Architects of Canada. BMR president and CEO, Yves Gagnon, along with Jean Falardeau, vice-president, operations, signed a partnership agreement including a $20,000 contribution toward the first part of Emergency Architects of Canada's mission to rebuild Haiti. The first stage will involve establishing solid foundations for the healthy and sustainable reconstruction of the buildings for Haitians. BMR will also help fund the deployment of an intervention team of building professionals to collaborate on-site with Haitian colleagues to start building.

Canadian Tire Including Sustainability Metrics

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited launched its first Community and Business Sustainability Report and says it will be among the first of Canadian companies to include and report on sustainability metrics in its quarterly and year-end financial reporting. The company is working to establish metrics that they say reflect the realities of the retail sector. It will match accepted criteria such as carbon emissions or landfill diversion with sector-specific metrics affecting supply chain, packaging, and retailing of products. Beginning in 2010, some sustainability metrics will be reported quarterly with others summarized annually. "For Canadian Tire, sustainability is a business strategy and not simply an environmental or green initiative," said Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO. "We owe it to our communities to be a leading corporate citizen - and we owe it to our shareholders and customers to run a strong company."

Dow Insulating Olympic Structures

Dow Chemical Canada ULC, ‘Official Supplier of Insulation Materials to the 2010 Winter Games,’ says it’s playing a significant part in making the 2010-related structures energy efficient and better performing. Its STYROFOAM brand insulation – installed under garden rooftops and ice rinks – or its Spray Polyurethane Foam – installed on the exterior of the track for bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton competition – were used to enhance comfort and save energy and maintenance costs.

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February 4, 2010

Black & Decker 4Q Improves

The Black & Decker Corporation reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $33.9 million compared to $43.7 million in the same period a year ago. Not including the effects of currency translation, sales decreased about nine per cent for the quarter – a major improvement from the more than 20 per cent drop in the first three quarters of the year. The 4Q earnings reflect $58.8 million of pre-tax expenses related to the proposed merger with The Stanley Works. The toolmaker also announced debt of $632 million at year-end, nearly a 50 per cent reduction from the prior year. "Sales in the quarter exceeded our expectations in all three of our business segments,” said Nolan D. Archibald, chairman and CEO. “While 2009 was a very challenging year, we delivered profits well above our initial forecast and very strong net cash generation. As we prepare to merge with The Stanley Works, Black & Decker is well-positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery and to achieve profitable growth.”

Business Confidence Barometer Edges Up

Business confidence among Canada's small and medium-sized businesses edged up in January, reflecting modest growth in the economy, according to the latest business confidence survey findings from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Its Business Barometer index rose to 66.9 in January, up from last month's score of 63.7 and nearing levels seen in the September-to-November 2009 period. "The most optimistic owners continue to be in professional and business services, along with healthcare and education services, each with index levels above 70,” said CFIB's vice-president of research and chief economist, Ted Mallett. “On the other hand, the least optimistic business owners are in the agriculture, primary industries and restaurant, and accommodation sectors, all with index scores well below 60."

Global Countertop Growth Projected

Global demand for countertops is expected to rise 3.3 per cent annually to 341 million square meters in 2013, says a new study from research firm, The Freedonia Group, Inc. Gains will be made thanks to countries such as Brazil, China, and India continuing to build large volumes of modern housing units each year to accommodate growing populations. Homeowners upgrading from freestanding furniture to conventional countertops will also spur demand. In 2008, laminate countertops accounted for more than one-quarter of global sales. Solid surface and natural stone countertops each comprised one-fifth of global demand. And engineered stone, which is primarily used in more developed countries due to its high cost, is expected to achieve the most rapid gains through 2013. 

Buying Days To Benefit Charity

The Home Improvement Industry Presidents Council has partnered with Reed Exhibitions to manage and promote all Buying Days held at the 2010 National Hardware Show. The Buying Days will benefit the City of Hope, a charitable organization devoted to achieving breakthroughs in the treatment of diabetes, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and leukemia. The Presidents Council says it looks forward to having companies such as Ace Hardware, Sears, Lancaster/Five Star, United Hardware, Handy Hardware, Arrett, Jensen, The Andersons, Pro Group, Pro-Build to participate again in this year’s Buying Day as well as some non-U.S. retailers. For more info on the show, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com.

Mitsubishi Launches Forklift Line

Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks introduced its new line of mid-size Internal Combustion (IC) pneumatic tire forklift trucks. Offered in five capacities, ranging from 8,000-12,000 lbs., the trucks are designed for heavy applications, such as lumber and cement and pipe. Several new product enhancements will also be offered to customers as part of the existing Class 4 and 5 product lines. For more information, visit http://www.mit-lift.com.

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February 3, 2010

Castle Welcomes Three Locations

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has added three former RONA locations to their network of independent members. The member-owned buying group says the additions signify “a pivotal occasion for LBM owners who are seeking a truly independent alternative.” Among the new additions is Quincaillerie Godin in Namur, QC, owned by Lise Godin and founded in 1979. With the help of her family, Godin expanded into this 4,500 square-foot location. Matériaux Godin & Fils, in Grenville, QC, also joins Castle, and represents a 6,500 square-foot family-run store now involving three siblings. And Groupe Matériaux Godin of Hawkesbury, ON – a former Cashway store – joins the group as well. It’s a 3.5-acre property and an 11,500 square-foot store, reflecting the Godin family’s desire to reach new business and focus on contractor sales, Castle says.

DeWalt, Leafs Defensemen Team Up

DeWalt announced it has partnered with Toronto Maple Leafs Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn for 2010. “Our slogan is ‘Guaranteed Tough’ and like our tools, Dion and Luke will stand up to anything thrown at them,” said Brett Maves, director of marketing for DeWalt Canada. “This partnership is a natural evolution of our involvement with hockey in Canada.” Phaneuf, formerly of the Calgary Flames, is a two time NHL All-Star and was a Norris Trophy Finalist. He’s also an avid woodworker, and says he uses DeWALT tools in his workshop. Luke Schenn was named to the NHL’s 2009 All-Rookie Team and is believed by many to be a future captain of the Leafs.

Sherwin-Williams Unveils Merchandiser

Sherwin-Williams unveiled its merchandiser for new Hyde Tools paint and pressure washer products at a recent trade show in Orlando, Florida. Sherwin-Williams says its staff worked closely with Hyde Tools to customize the new merchandiser to their specific store needs. It will be introduced into 500 Sherwin-William stores in March 2010. The new merchandiser provides space for two patented technologies developed by Hyde, namely: the ‘Hyde Rapid Valve Transfer Airless Spray System’ and the ‘Hyde Pivot Nozzle Wand.’

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February 2, 2010

Consumer Confidence Hits High

The Index of Consumer Confidence was up 13.8 percentage points in January, a 23-month high according to the Conference Board's Index-January 2010. The Index now stands at 96.6 (2002 = 100). All five regions moved significantly higher, with the Western provinces leading the way. Specifically, the index reached 109.1 in B.C., thanks to a 22.2 point increase, the largest gain ever recorded for the province; 15.3 points in the Prairies to 106.8; 13.6 points in Atlantic Canada to 103; 12.3 points in Ontario to 93.7, more than doubling its Dec. 2008 level; and 9.4 points in Quebec. "The index is over 40 points higher than it was one year ago. This suggests that Canadians are seeing a light at the end of the recession tunnel," said Pedro Antunes, director, national and provincial forecast.

CHHMA Urging HRTC Extension

The CHHMA (Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association) announced it wrote a letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on January 21, emphasizing the importance of the HRTC (Home Renovation Tax Credit) to Canada’s manufacturing industry, and urging the government to extend it for another year. CHHMA President Vaughn Crofford forwarded the letter stating that an extension would continue to boost the economy and allow the recovery to fully take hold. The CHHMA suggests that its members also write to the Finance Minister or contact their local MP “to let them know how important the HRTC is to our industry and the broader economy.”

Mounting Blocks Win Award

Broadleaf Logistics Company announced that its Accessory Mounting Blocks from SturdiBuild won the ‘2010 WRLA Most Innovative Imported Product Award.’ These accessory products, brand new to the North American market, are the only James Hardie-approved solution to “properly mount and finish outlet perforations encountered during Hardie siding and trim projects,” Broadleaf says.

Newell Rubbermaid Reports 4Q Profit

Newell Rubbermaid returned to a profit, thanks to cost cutting and higher prices for its household products. It earned $60.6 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $256.1 million in the same period a year ago. But revenue slipped one per cent to $1.42 billion, down from $1.45 billion last year, as consumers pulled back on spending, the company said. Sales also fell two per cent to $1.42 billion from $1.45 billion. The maker of Rubbermaid containers and Sharpie pens says it expects to spend as much as $80 million for ongoing restructuring.

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 February 1, 2010

WRLA Elects First Female President

The Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA) announced the election of Karen Clement as President of the Board of Directors, at the Annual General Meeting during the 2010 Prairie Showcase Buying Show & Convention. Clement is the first woman to hold the position of president in the association’s 120-year history. “We are fortunate to have someone at the helm that is so highly skilled and dedicated to the building supply industry,” says Gary Hamilton, WRLA’s executive director. In her first message to the association’s 1250 members, Clement said her priorities will be to build on WRLA’s past successes and “to place a stronger emphasis on succession planning and educating and retaining the future of our industry.”

Confidence To Drive Retailers At Show

Greater economic optimism “will no doubt be top-of-mind” for the 16,500+ retail buyers descending on the Canadian Gift & Tableware Association (CGTA) Spring Gift Show, organizers say. Consumer expectation of the economy in the next six months has hit a new high, according to a recent consumer confidence index (TNS Canadian Facts). With this in mind, the CGTA is expecting much activity as buyers, manufacturers, and distributors get together at one of the largest giftware trade events in Canada. Running from Jan. 31st to Feb. 4th, at the International Centre, Mississauga, ON, the show will feature one million square feet of exhibition space and over 1,000 exhibitors. For more information, visit www.cgta.org.

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January 29, 2010

Richelieu Posts 4Q Drop

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. posted net earnings of $30.4 million on consolidated sales of $424.4 million for fiscal year 2009, compared with net earnings of $35.6 million on consolidated sales of $441.4 million for the previous year. For its fourth-quarter ended Nov. 30, the Quebec-based company had net earnings of $9.9 million, down from $10.2 million in the comparable year-ago period. Richelieu pointed to a slowdown in the renovation industry for its fourth-quarter and full-year drop in revenues and earnings. "In view of the economic crisis that caused a decrease in residential and commercial renovation spending in the United States, Western and Central Canada, Richelieu recorded a satisfactory financial performance, although its results showed a decline," said Richard Lord, president and chief executive. The company said it continued to generate substantial cash flows while expanding its network, now comprising of 50 centres in North America.

TruServ Announces Market Dates

TruServ Canada Inc. announced its National Merchandise & Planning Markets will take place April 17-20, 2010 and October 3-5, 2010. More than 700 independent retailers have the opportunity to attend the Markets to plan their business and to coordinate their seasonal product purchases. And more than 400 major manufacturers are expected to showcase a wide selection of upcoming products for the season. For more information, visit www.truserv.ca.

Tembec Narrows Loss

Tembec Inc. had consolidated sales of $412 million for its three-month period ended December 26, 2009, down from $511 million in the comparable period a year ago. The forest products firm reported a net loss of $9 million for the quarter, compared with a net loss of $60 million in the same quarter a year earlier, which included a large after-tax loss. The company says it was able to narrow its quarterly loss, but its revenue fell more than 19 per cent because of lower lumber and pulp prices.

Moen Partner Of The Year

Moen Canada was honoured as Home Depot’s 2009 Partner of the Year Award. The plumbing products manufacturer first received the award in 1999, and 2009 marks the fifth consecutive win. The award is given annually to recognize top suppliers who demonstrated a consistent, high level of service. “This is a remarkable accomplishment for Moen Canada that speaks volumes about all our employees’ hard work and commitment,” said Peter Fealy, vice-president, sales and marketing retail, Moen Canada.

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January 28, 2010

Stanley Reports 4Q Profit

Stanley Works says it experienced a fourth-quarter profit, thanks to a $14 million tax benefit and lower operating costs offsetting a decline in revenue. The toolmaker earned $55.4 million, compared to a loss of $700,000 in the fourth quarter a year earlier. Not including expenses related to its pending acquisition of Black & Decker (announced last November), it had an adjusted profit of 89 cents per share in the latest quarter, which beat analysts’ predictions. Revenue fell 11 per cent to $969.4 million from $1.09 billion. For the entire year, Stanley's profit fell 27 per cent to $223 million, from $306.9 million in 2008.

CHHMA Conference Taking Shape

The CHHMA (Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association) reports that the lineup for its Spring Conference & AGM, scheduled for April 7, is taking shape. The event – being held at the International Centre, Mississauga, ON – will be focused on the theme, ‘Sell More $ More Profitably.’ The CHHMA announced this year’s conference will feature more keynote speakers, including Don Drummond, senior vice-president & chief economist, TD Bank, with his economic outlook for the Canadian, U.S., and World economies; Donald Cooper, international business speaker and business coach, on how to grow your bottom line; and Frank Turco from the Home Depot, with his insight on design trends. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca.

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January 27, 2010

Home Depot To Cut 1,000 Jobs

Home Depot Inc. announced it is cutting 1,000 jobs, closing down three pilot stores, and consolidating support positions. A small-format store in Wilson, NC; a temporary hurricane-recovery outlet in Waveland, MS; and a clearance outlet in Austell, GA will be shut down – in-turn affecting about 100 jobs. As a result of consolidating its human resources, finance, and real estate and construction functions, approximately 900 other jobs will be cut. It will be centralizing its HR department back to its Atlanta headquarters, and it will no longer needs a big staff handling real estate since store openings have slowed. "This is not a case of the company cutting expenses in reaction to broader economic pressures or our business performance," CEO Frank Blake said in a memo to employees. "Rather, we are making prudent structural changes where it makes business sense to consolidate some functions." Home Depot said it does not plan on closing any of its orange big-box stores.

Target Expansion Not For A While

Discount retail chain Target Corp. announced it is focussed on international expansion, namely through store openings in Canada, Mexico, or Latin America. But the company says it may take a while – at least three years – before international strategies take shape. "We are excited about the growth potential for Target and believe we have the capital, talent, and right blend of discipline and innovation to deliver meaningful value to our guests and shareholders," CEO Gregg Steinhafel said. For now, however, Target says it’s concentrating on U.S. expansion plans by spending $1 billion on renovating 340 existing stores this year.

Sherwin-Williams 4Q Down

The Sherwin-Williams Company’s fourth-quarter net sales dropped 5.9 per cent to $1.60 billion, compared to the same period last year. The company reported year-end net income of $435.8 million, down 8.6 per cent from $476.9 reported last year. Sales for the year were $7.09 billion, a decrease of 11.1 per cent from $7.98 billion from 2008. However, net income for the fourth quarter was at $65.3 million, up 30.2 per cent from $50.2 million in the same quarter last year. "While we are disappointed that our full year sales and earnings fell short of the prior year, we are encouraged by our earnings performance in the last half of the year…" said Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO. “We are beginning to see some stability in our sales to certain market segments…”

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January 26, 2010

CanWel-Broadleaf Acquisition Gets Approval

CanWel Building Materials Income Fund announced that the Canadian Commissioner of Competition issued a "no action letter" in connection with CanWel's conversion to a corporation and its proposed acquisition of Broadleaf Logistics Company. "This is a significant milestone for this transaction,” said Amar Doman, chairman of CanWel. “Now that we have received the no action letter, we will continue our focus on obtaining final court approval on January 22nd, and moving to closing on February 1st." The issuance means the Commissioner confirms that the transaction will not be challenged. Completion of the conversion and the acquisition remains subject to various conditions including receipt of a final order of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

RONA Ready For New World

RONA unveiled Phase 2 of its 2008-2011 strategic plan, ‘the New World program,’ which outlines a focus on growth as the economy recovers. As new types of consumers arise following the recession, the program will target customer experience and succession management. The launch of the STUDIO by RONA concept and the introduction of its succession planning program, designed to attract next-generation entrepreneurs, reflect the upcoming New World program, RONA says.  RONA will also look at revamping its private-label strategy and will introduce new product categories with broader appeal for next-generation consumers, along with integrated programs combining incentives, tax credits, and other loyalty programs. While the New World program entails a transition to renewed growth, Robert Dutton, president, noted that it is also striving for continuous improvement in costs and productivity. The New World program follows the company’s Phase 1 PEP program (Productivity, Efficiency and Profitability) which focused on optimization of the store network and supply chain. Dutton credited PEP for helping RONA weather the worst of the recession and for setting the stage for recovery.

Lowe’s Launches Business Program

American Express and Lowe’s have partnered and introduced a new rewards credit card for business owners. Announced in Las Vegas at the International Builders Show, it’s the first rewards program for Lowe's small business customers and will take on a tiered structure for earning points. For example, one point is earned for every eligible dollar spent; double points on dollars spent at Lowe’s; and triple points on restaurant purchases, office supplies, and wireless bills. The card also comes with no annual fee and offers business and travel-related benefits. “… This new product offers convenience and rewards at a time when business owners need it most,” said Larry D. Stone, president and COO of Lowe’s.

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January 25, 2010

Specialized Building Material Sales Up

Retail sales dropped 0.3 per cent in November to $35.2 billion, after three consecutive monthly increases, according to Statistics Canada. Without factoring in the effect of higher gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms were down one per cent in November. Five of eight retail store sectors experienced declines in November. However, sales at furniture, home furnishings, and electronics stores had their strongest gain of 2009, with a jump of 1.1 per cent for the month; this was lead by specialized building material and garden stores (+6.5 per cent), the largest increase of this store type since Dec. 2006. Sales at home centres and hardware stores were flat. Thanks to above average temperatures affecting seasonal purchases, sales at clothing and accessories stores fell 3.6 per cent. Sales in the shoe, clothing accessories, and jewellery stores trade group were also affected by the warm weather, falling 6.8 per cent. The automotive sector fell slightly, by 0.2 per cent in November.

RONA Extends Haiti Relief

RONA announced it will continue to collect funds for the Canadian Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Fund, at all stores across Canada. The campaign, which began on Jan. 16, 2010, was originally scheduled to end on Jan. 24. Given the success of the campaign, which has so far raised over $130,000 in a few days, RONA says it will continue to keep its entire network of 700 stores working for the Canadian Red Cross until Feb. 14, 2010.

New Branding For Task Tools 

Family owned and operated Task Tools introduced its new branding and packaging strategy, which is now “better for retailers, consumers, and the environment,” says president and CEO, Craig Caplan. Since 1968, the company has been associated with traditional grey packaging in North America, but now features red and black packaging, a new logo, and a new tag line: ‘Trade Proven. Task Tough.’ Better for the environment, the new packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and reduced in size. A new system of icons is meant to make it easier for shoppers to choose the right tool, and new security features aim to reduce loss due to theft.

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January 22, 2010

No Plans To Extend HRTC

Recent reports suggest that the federal government has no plans to extend the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC), set to expire at the end of this month. While speaking to reporters in Miramichi, NB, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters the government intends on letting it expire as budgeted Jan. 31. "Some people are anxious to see it extended for a period of time, but it's not inexpensive and the key was to try and preserve jobs in this very difficult past year," Flaherty stated.

Energy Efficiency Driving HVAC Market

The HVAC market in the U.S. has grown 41 per cent in heating systems and 45 per cent in air conditioners from 1997 through 2006, says a recent study by research firm SBI Energy. However, the report found that the geothermal market declined in value by three per cent from 2007 to 2008, as the economy struggled. But that could rebound in 2010 given the substantial tax credits of up to 30 per cent of total cost offered through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009. Another development that will impact the growth of the HVAC industry is the phasing out of ozone-depleting used as refrigerants in older air conditioners. The U.S. will begin phasing out the use of the R-22  hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant as of January 1, 2010. New equipment will be required to use the alternative R-410A refrigerant instead, which will mean new business for installers and HVAC equipment manufacturers.

GE Forms Lighting Group

GE Lighting announced it has established GE Lighting Solutions, by combining it’s light emitting diode (LED) systems operations, Lumination, and its commercial and industrial fixture group, GE Lighting Systems. The new group will be a unit of GE Appliances & Lighting and its president and CEO will be David Elien, previously of Lumination. Paul Morse, former president of GE Lighting Systems will lead the Solutions commercial efforts as vice-president.

Walmart Promises Zero-Waste Summit

Walmart Canada announced that its Green Business Summit, to be held in Vancouver on February 10, 2010, will be a zero waste event and powered 100 per cent by renewable energy. It expects to divert 95 per cent of the Summit's waste through a variety of efforts including the use of recycled and easily recyclable products, the composting of organic materials, and multi-stream recycling bins. Bullfrog Power, a Canadian provider of low-impact renewable electricity, will power the event. For more information, visit www.walmartgreenbusinesssummit.com.

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January 21, 2010

Women Value Home Ownership

Home ownership is increasingly important to Canadian women, according to the third annual TD Canada Trust Women and Home Ownership Poll. The study, which surveyed women who have purchased a home independently, asked to describe the best things about home ownership. Among the responses that increased dramatically from the first survey conducted in 2008, 34 per cent said having a place of their own, 34 per cent said being able to decorate or renovate the way they want, and 32 per cent said having a backyard or garden. This year, 44 per cent ranked financial security as the best thing about home ownership, compared to 23 per cent of a similar sample in 2008. Second on the list of best things about ownership, was not having to pay rent or pay other people (38 per cent versus 13 per cent in 2008).

Home Depot Multicultural Marketing

The Home Depot Canada introduced its first multicultural marketing campaign, meant to connect with Cantonese-speaking consumers in Richmond, B.C. Running until February 14th, the campaign will include advertising and in-store events in Cantonese to help consumers get their homes ready for the Chinese New Year. “By reaching out to a group of consumers that we haven’t directly communicated with before, and doing so in their native language, we hope to build strong relationships…” said Peg Hunter, vice-president of marketing and communications. The company designed the campaign in partnership with its media partner, Publicis Diversitē.

Straus To Speak At Breakfast

The Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) announced that Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited, will be the speaker at its members breakfast meeting, Tuesday, April 27th. The meeting will take place at the International Centre Conference Facility, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca.

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January 20, 2010

Leading Indicators Reach High

The composite leading index was up 1.5 per cent in December, marking a seventh straight increase and the biggest monthly rise in almost 27 years, says Statistics Canada. For a second straight month, none of the 10 components fell, as household spending and the stock market experienced the largest gains. The housing index grew three per cent for the eighth consecutive time. Existing home sales led the initial upturn and was followed by a recovery in housing starts. Consumers, as well, purchased more durable goods. In response to rising U.S. demand, Canada's export volumes rose 11 per cent since the low in May 2009. The growth in export demand was reflected in higher new orders for manufactured goods in Canada, as manufacturing sales volume increased for a second straight month.

Green Summit Participants Announced

Walmart Canada released the participant list for its Green Business Summit, February 10, 2010 in Vancouver. The event – bringing together upwards of 300 CEOs, business executives, government officials, and NGOs – will include leaders from 3M, Alcan Packaging, Cadbury, Canadian Tire, CN Rail, Coca-Cola, and others. As well, Dr. David Suzuki will provide the keynote address. These industry leaders will collaborate on topics such as energy, waste & material management, green products & solutions, and employee green engagement. For more information, visit www.walmartgreenbusinesssummit.com.

CertainTeed Offers Sneak Peek

CertainTeed announced it will be offering a sneak peek of seven new products, incorporating “sustainable attributes with mainstream appeal,” at the upcoming International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 19-22. The two new products headlining the show include EnerGen, a photovoltaic roofing panel for residential applications, and Sustainable Insulation, a new fiberglass insulation product that meets strict indoor air quality requirements. For more on the builders' show, visit www.buildersshow.com.

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January 19, 2010

Home Décor Company Launches In Canada

Home décor manufacturer, Uppercase Living, is expanding its product offering and business opportunity to Canada. The producer of customized vinyl expressions, purchased out of catalogs via in-home product demonstration, says it has helped thousands of women start their own home businesses in the U.S., and now hopes to offer similar opportunities to women in Canada starting February 1. "For years we've had women in Canada asking to be a part of Uppercase Living," said Rich Fankhauser, president. "And now it's possible.” As a direct sales company, it relies almost entirely on demonstrators to sell its products through home parties. While some women work only part time and make a couple of thousand dollars a year, others have turned selling opportunities into larger, successful businesses.

RONA, Red Cross Partner For Haiti

RONA Inc. has joined forces with the Canadian Red Cross to bring relief to earthquake victims in Haiti. As a partner, RONA is appealing to the generosity of Canadians and its own employees for help. Donations can be made at the cash in all RONA, Réno-Dépôt, and TOTEM stores across the country. “The tragic events in Haiti have touched us all,” said president and CEO Robert Dutton. “I urge all RONA customers to join us in a nationwide show of support for the people of Haiti by giving generously.”

Black & Decker Celebrating 100th

To celebrate its 100-year anniversary, Black & Decker has launched an interactive microsite (www.blackanddecker100years.com), that will take a look back at the history of the company, share memories of employees, and allow visitors to share their experiences with Black & Decker products. The company also announced it will soon unveil a new centennial logo chosen in a design contest among company employees. "Black & Decker – through a focus on customer needs and innovation – has become a part of the American landscape," says Bruce Brooks, president of the consumer products group for Black & Decker. During the last 100 years, the company has evolved from a small machine shop in Baltimore, Maryland to a global manufacturing force, and is now in the process of expanding its reach further through a merger agreement with The Stanley Works (announced Nov. 4, 2009).

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January 18, 2010

Retailers Supporting Haiti Relief

Canadian home improvement retailers are encouraging the support of relief efforts after an immense earthquake struck the island of Haiti. Home Hardware Stores Limited announced it would donate $25,000 to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for the Haitian earthquake relief. The donation is in remembrance of the more than 50,000 people who have lost their lives in Haiti and in recognition of the humanitarian work of Yvonne Martin, an Elmira, ON nurse on her fourth medical mission to the country and the first confirmed Canadian casualty of the earthquake. As well, Canadian Tire is sending tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, and batteries to thousands in need in Haiti as part of its support of Canadian charity ONEXONE (www.onexone.org) that is coordinating a number of lead Canadian companies in their donations.  And Lowe’s Companies Canada, ULC announced that all 16 Canadian stores will serve as cash donation sites for the Canadian Red Cross to support earthquake relief in Haiti.

Dangerous DIY Books Recalled

More than 52,000 copies of home improvement books solid in Canada are being recalled, because they contain incorrect electrical procedures. U.S. publisher Oxmoor House Inc. announced that the instructional errors could lead to "electrical shock or fire hazard." No reports of  incidents or injuries have been reported, but some of the books have been in circulation for more than 30 years. Lowe’s Canada has sold three of the books, Rona did carry one of the recalled books, and Home Depot confirmed none of the books were sold at its stores. The books being recalled are, AmeriSpec Home Repair Handbook, Lowe's Complete Home Improvement and Repair, Lowe's Complete Home Wiring, Sunset Basic Home Repairs, Sunset Complete Home Wiring, Sunset Complete Patio Book, Sunset Home Repair Handbook, Sunset Water Gardens, and Sunset You Can Build — Wiring.

Porch Screening Expands

Screen Tight announced it is expanding its line of extruded aluminium porch screening systems with the addition of an ultra low profile system. The 20-year-old producer of outdoor screen security says the new systems are ideal for second floor or higher porch applications. The MINItrack system will be on display at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 19-22, 2010, booth number C5077.

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January 15, 2010

Economic Growth At Risk

Record low interest rates and stimulus packages are expected to drive growth in the Canadian and global economies during the first half of 2010, says a report from CIBC World Markets Inc. However, the economy may return to sluggish growth in the second half of the year and into 2011 if governments hold back stimulus, and as U.S. consumers continue to deleverage. Avery Shenfeld, chief economist, says the drivers of growth in early 2010, such as stimulus spending, inventory restocking and, in Canada at least, a short-lived boost in housing wealth, are all temporary and will disappear by the end of the year. Canadian manufacturing and resources will benefit from the surge in global growth, Shenfeld says, and inventory rebuilding in the first half of 2010 but will in turn feel the combined pinch of decelerating foreign demand and an overvalued Canadian dollar.

ILDC Adds Member

Family-owned Lefebvre & Benoit is now a member of the Independent Lumber Dealers Co-operative (ILDC). Founded in 1958, the Laval, QC dealer has grown to include two locations when it took over Marcel Benoit in 1985. Today, Lefebvre & Benoit is supported by 250 staff, and maintains a strong business with contractors and builders.

KBIS Show Aims To Inspire

The theme for this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)show is “be inspired,”whichaims to stimulate professionals as economies work their way out of recession. “We’re trying to stress that the fundamentals of the kitchen and bath industry are still very strong and there’s a bright future ahead…” said Brian Pagel, vice-president of the Kitchen and Bath Group at Nielsen Business Media. Highlights of the 47th annual show – being held at McCormick Place in Chicago on April 16-18, 2010 – include the Design Idea Center and Center Stage, housed within the NKBA’s 13,000-square-foot booth. The keynote speaker will be Sergio Zyman, a 30-year marketing guru who plans on discussing self-marketing and improved sales strategies. For more information, visit http://www.kbis.com.

Sears Welcomes Third Parties Online

Sears’ launch of its online marketplace will include third-party sellers, including goods from J.C. Penney Co., Dillard's, and other department stores and direct competitors. Multiple sellers of the same item will be allowed on the site, even if Sears sells a similar item. The move follows similar initiatives by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. after price wars over books with Amazon.com Inc. The retailer will charge retailers $39.99/month plus seven-20 per cent in commissions to sell on its site, along with extra fees to use its optional fulfillment service. Sears offers a CPC advertising program that costs between 15 and 90 cents per click.

Kitchen & Bath Trends Revealed

The results of a recent survey of designers conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) confirm a number of existing trends and have uncovered some style shifts too. Among the findings for kitchens, traditional will continue as the most popular style, while contemporary remains close behind and Shaker experiences a strong resurgence. Shades of whites and off-whites will be the most common kitchen colours, while brown, beige, and bone hues will also be popular. Cherry will remain the most popular wood for kitchen cabinetry, followed closely by maple. For countertops, granite continues to be the most popular, but quartz is expected to catch up. For backsplashes, ceramic or porcelain tile and glass will serve as primary materials. As for bathrooms, traditional will be the most popular style, while contemporary remains a distant second. Beiges and bones will be the most common colours used, and ceramic and porcelain will be the dominant flooring materials this year. The most common colour for bathroom fixtures will be white. For sinks, simple undermount models will be most popular, followed by integrated sink tops, drop-in sinks, vessel sinks, and pedestal sinks. Faucet finishes in the bathroom are similar to those used in current kitchen designs, with brushed nickel continuing to lead the way in 2010.

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January 14, 2010

CEO Confidence Climbs

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence increased to 64 in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from 63 in the previous quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). The figure stood at 24 one year ago, and this quarter’s increase represents the fourth consecutive rise. Regarding their own industries, business leaders’ attitudes remained essentially unchanged, as 54 per cent claimed conditions are better, compared with 55 per cent last quarter. As well, the Conference Board found that the majority of CEOs expect changes in their firms’ selling prices in 2010. On average, firms plan to hike prices by 1.6 per cent, higher than last year’s expectation of 1 per cent. Only five per cent anticipate price increases in excess of 10 per cent. About 15 per cent plan to decrease prices, and 29 per cent expect no change.

Home Depot Changes Self-Checkout

The Home Depot announced it would transition to Fujitsu U-Scan self-checkout software in their U.S. and Canadian retail stores. The new self-checkout software features open integration architecture that utilizes a VPOS (Virtual Point-of-Sale) messaging framework, allowing retailers to implement business critical POS software changes faster, the companies says. The system also allows retailers to avoid costly and complicated self-checkout re-integration and lengthy testing cycles, Fujitsu says. The Home Depot is currently completing initial proof of concept pilot testing.

Agrium Expands Retail Presence

Calgary-based Agrium, a supplier of agricultural products, announced it is moving into the Canadian retail market. The company plans on opening 33 new stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which will be branded under the Crop Production Services (Canada) Inc. name. It bought the remaining crop nutrient assets, which it did not previously own, from five Engro franchises, with 27 locations in southern and central Alberta and six locations in southern Saskatchewan. The outlets have a combined annual revenue of US$162 million. Agrium has acquired more than 60 U.S. and Canadian farm centres in the past six months, and most recently bought 24 outlets in Texas and New Mexico from Agriliance.

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January 13, 2010

Home Hardware Applauds Torch Run

Bruce White, Home Hardware Stores’ vice-president, merchandise & marketing – Lumber and Building Materials, became one of 12,000 Canadians to carry the Olympic Torch on its coast-to-coast relay. On Friday, December 18th, White, along with members of the Lumber and Building Material team, braved the cold on Day 49 of the Torch Relay. White carried the Torch down Parliament Street in Toronto ashundreds of spectators looked on. “On behalf of more than 1,000 Home Hardware Dealers from coast-to-coast, I would like to congratulate Bruce on his run with the torch,” said Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO, Home Hardware. “I’m truly proud to know a member of the Home Hardware family was a part of this remarkable event.” White was nominated to be a torchbearer by Sam Yee of Dow, a long-standing vendor-partner. 

Bruce WhiteBruce White, Home Hardware Stores’ vice-president, merchandise & marketing

Moen Promotes Wyman

Moen Canada has promoted Andrew Wyman to the position of regional sales manager, Wholesale. In his new role, Wyman will oversee and execute strategies to develop and expand the wholesale plumbing market, as well as builder, plumber, and designer relationships. Wyman will also work with the wholesale sales force to grow the business nationally. He most recently served as senior territory manager, where he successfully managed and implemented the launch of Moen Commercial products in Canada.

TruServ Looking Forward To Show

TruServ Canada announced that it is pleased to be participating in the Western Retail Lumber Association's (WRLA) Prairie Showcase, January 20-22, in Saskatoon, SK. Several members of the TruServ Canada team will be available in booth #716. "We attended our first show in 1992," said Dave Leonzio, national business development manager for TruServ Canada. "This year, we have several offers that are well suited for the dealers attending the show. The last three years attending the WRLA we have been talking to Dealers about the Western advantage that TruServ Canada offers.”

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January 12, 2010

Building Permit Value Drops

Contractors took out $5.9 billion in building permits in November, says Statistics Canada, down 4.6 per cent from October, but 23.1 per cent higher than November 2008 and 62.8 per cent above February 2009, when the lowest value during the economic downturn was recorded. Yet, November's value remained below values recorded in 2007 and early 2008. Decreases in the non-residential sector, which outweighed increases in the residential sector, were behind the decline in November. In the residential sector, construction intentions – which have started to approach their pre-downturn levels – grew 9.1 per cent to $3.8 billion in November, a fourth consecutive monthly increase. Ontario and B.C. made up most of the gains at the national level. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued $2.1 billion worth of permits in November, down 21.9 per cent from October. These decreases were mainly the result of declines in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec.

Canadian Tire Adds Storage To Site

Canadian Tire launched an interactive storage and organization website page (www.canadiantire.ca/storageandorg), meant to provide affordable solutions for the kitchen, garage, closet, laundry, and basement. The company says the page is easy to navigate and features a zoom-in tool to view storage solutions up close. A special addition will allow customers to submit questions, from now until February 4th, to Clare Kumar, a professional organizer who has appeared as an expert on TV and in home décor magazines.

Construction Emerging Unscathed

Canada's construction industry is coming out of the recession “relatively unscathed,” says the Construction Sector Council's (CSC) 2010-2018 scenario-based forecast. A preview of the forecast finds that although building and employment decreased from October 2008 to July 2009, employment has been rising since August. This will likely continue because of new infrastructure projects, renovation and maintenance work, and strengthening housing starts. The preview shows that Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. had the greatest decrease in employment in 2009. At the same time -- driven by major industrial, engineering, and infrastructure projects -- Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador recorded employment gains over the first 10 months of 2009. Construction investment declined by less than 10 percent in 2009 and will rebound in 2010, surpassing the peak reached in 2008, the forecast predicts.

Retail Logistics Solution Unveiled

Descartes Systems Group unveiled its latest ‘Logistics Solutions for Retail,’ a suite of applications created to address the needs of the retail market. Announced at the NRF (National Retail Federation) 99th Annual Convention & EXPO Convention in New York, Descartes says its new Logistics Solutions will enable retailers to cut costs, streamline their logistics operations, and improve in-store availability and last-mile delivery reliability. For more info, visit http://www.descartes.com.

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January 11, 2010

December Housing Starts Up

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts hit 174,500 units in December 2009, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The figure represents an increase from November's rate of 164,800 units. The annual rate of urban starts increased by 6.6 per cent to 157,100 units in December – an increase from 72,800 units in November to 77,700 units in December. Single urban starts increased by 6.4 per cent to 79,400 units in December. December's rate of urban starts increased by 17.8 per cent in Quebec, by 15 per cent in Atlantic Canada, by 8.7 per cent in B.C., and by 2.9 per cent in Ontario. The rate of urban starts decreased by 3.8 per cent in the Prairies. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,400 units in December. Actual housing starts for 2009 are being verified and will be reported soon. They are expected to be lower due to low monthly rates earlier in the year.

Alpa News Correction

Home Improvement Retailing would like to correct a recent News Alert reporting the Alpa Lumber Group had announced its business was for sale. Alpa has confirmed with Home Improvement Retailing that it did not make that announcement and that the business is not for sale.

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January 8, 2010

Castle Welcomes New Members

Five new retail, commercial, and specialty members – representing seven locations – have joined the Castle Building Centres / CBS network of independent dealers, announced Ken Jenkins, president. The five include: Meetah Building Supplies (Onion Lake, SK), consisting of a retail showroom, a 12,000-square-foot enclosed warehouse, and a two acre lumberyard; Superior Seamless Exteriors (Southern Manitoba), with three locations in Altona, Winkler, and Winnipeg, which manufactures steel and steel log siding and specializes in exterior building envelope products; Boulons L.P.G. (Sept Iles, QC), which focuses on specialized hardware and high quality tools for the area mines; London Panel Corp (London, ON), specializing in the engineering and construction of factory panelized wall and floor units for commercial and institutional buildings; Fairway Building Supplies (Ancaster, ON), specializing in the supply and service of building material products to the commercial and residential construction industry.

The Brick’s 4Q Improves

The Brick Group’s fourth quarter total retail sales improved, with a decline of 1.9 per cent compared with declines of 18.7 per cent, 29.3 per cent, and 13.8 per cent in the first, second, and third quarters respectively, of 2009. In the retail segment, fourth quarter same store sales decline over the comparable period in 2008 was 7.3 per cent compared with declines of 21.9 per cent, 33 per cent, and 19 per cent in the first, second, and third quarters respectively, of 2009.

Bed Bath & Beyond Sales Up

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s net sales for the fiscal third quarter of 2009 were approximately $1.975 billion, an increase of approximately 10.8 per cent from net sales of approximately $1.783 billion reported in the fiscal third quarter of 2008. Comparable store sales for 3Q 2009 increased by approximately 7.3 per cent, compared with a decrease of approximately 5.6 per cent in last year's third quarter. As of November 28, 2009, the company had a total of 1,083 stores, including 958 Bed Bath & Beyond stores in 49 U.S. states, Canada, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

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January 7, 2010

Decorative Tile Demand Rising

Demand for decorative tile in the U.S. is expected to increase 4.4 per cent per year to 3.3 billion square feet in 2013, says a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. The study (‘Decorative Tile’) found that flooring applications represented 81 per cent of total tile demand in 2008, and will continue to drive demand for decorative tile, as consumer preferences shift away from carpets and rugs. Flooring demand for tile is expected to increase 4.5 per cent annually through 2013 to 2.7 billion square feet. As housing completions rebound and consumer spending on projects increases, the residential market will provide the most demand. Porcelain and natural stone tiles will account for the fastest gains of all tile types through 2013.  Demand for porcelain tile will be driven by its aesthetic advantages and its durability over ceramic. Demand for natural stone tiles will be spurred by interest for stone surfaces in mid-range and high-end residences.  However, ceramic tile will continue to account for the vast majority of tile demand in both value and area terms through 2013, primarily due to its low cost.

Pricing Strategy Can Improve Sales

Retailers can substantially improve sales and profits if they increase the price of a sale item to its original cost in gradual steps rather than in one swift move, according to new research out of the University of Miami School of Business Administration. A 30-week field study showed a 200 per cent increase in sales and a 55 per cent increase in profits by using this strategy, coined ‘Steadily Decreasing Discounting’ or ‘SDD’ by the researchers. SDD was tested against Everyday Low Pricing (EDLP), used by discount stores such as Wal-Mart, and Hi-Lo Pricing, used by stores offering significant discounts on selected items for a limited time. The research found that SDD is more effective than EDLP and Hi-Lo pricing for two primary reasons. First, consumers not only consider past prices, they also forecast what prices will be in the future. So when buyers see a trend of increasing prices, they forecast higher future prices and are more apt to make a purchase today. Second, buyers have been shown to anticipate feeling regret after they miss a sale, so if they expect prices to increase, then they are more likely to make a purchase to avoid the feeling of regret in the future.

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January 6, 2010

IRLY Selects Director

IRLY Distributors has appointed Grant Harris to director of supply chain.  Harris’ new responsibilities will include warehouse operations, transportation, and distribution, together with leading several projects.  Previously, Grant was the director of logistics with BC Hot House Foods for several years and, more recently, the distribution manager with Purdy's Chocolates. 

IDEAL Makes Acquisition

IDEAL Industries Inc. – a manufacturer of connectors, testers, tools, and supplies – announced it will acquire privately held Western Forge, a Colorado Springs-based manufacturer of pliers, screwdrivers, and adjustable wrenches. The company, which will continue to be known as Western Forge, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of IDEAL. Randy Thompson, a 22-year veteran of IDEAL, has been named general manager for Western Forge.

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January 5, 2010

Canadians Cautiously Optimistic

Closing out the year, consumers were less likely to delay major purchases and their job anxiety fell significantly, according to the RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index, which rose eight percentage points in December. As the new year begins, however, most Canadians are exercising financial prudence, with 75 per cent paying for their holiday spending with money on hand instead of incurring debt and most (58 per cent) not planning to shop for post-holiday deals in January. Based on the results of the online survey, conducted by Ipsos Reid in December 2009, the index found that 60 per cent expect the Canadian economy to improve over the next year, while only 17 per cent expect it to worsen. This optimism was also reflected in a significant drop in the percentage of Canadians who plan to delay major purchases, such as cars, vacations and appliances, due to current economic conditions (47 per cent in December versus 63 per cent in November).

IRLY Manager Wins Award

Shannon Cupskey, account manager for IRLY Distributors Ltd., has won the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association’s (GVHBA) Rooftopper Award.  The prize is awarded to the member who brings in the most new members in a fiscal year.  It’s the second time Cupskey has won the award, and she is the first and only woman to be honoured. Her networking skills have helped fuel the association’s 660-person membership, IRLY says.

Sexton Celebrating 25th

The Sexton Group announced it is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010, as one of Canada’s leading national buying groups. Since being founded by Ontario native Ken Sexton in 1985, the group has remained “true to its values and its focus to improve the strength of the independent entrepreneur,” it says. Through this commitment over the years, the Sexton Group has grown to represent more than 270 member locations across Canada, including the addition of more than 30 members in 2008 and 2009.

Conference To Address Dealer Issues

The Second Annual Johns Manville Hardlines Dealer Conference will be held in association with the 2010 Canadian Home Improvement Show February 11, 12, at the Toronto Congress Centre. The conference is meant to help dealers sell smarter through two informative mornings. Keynote speakers and breakout sessions will cover a range of topics, such as understanding the business climate of today’s tough economy, the latest technology to run business better, staff training and retention, and inventory and financial management. For more information, visit http://www.canadianhomeimprovementshow.com/hardlines.php.

Frishman Speaks At Conference

Zev Frishman, vice-president, global equity strategies, at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension is the keynote luncheon speaker for the ‘4th Annual Alternative Investments for Institutional Investors Conference.’ He has 30 years of experience in the investment management field and has been a member of Teachers' investment team since 1994. In his current role, he leads a team of investment professionals that oversees its external active equity managers, develops and manages in-house global equity portfolios, and manages the overall exposures of the public equities department. In total, the team is responsible for more than $8 billion in global equity exposure. The Benefits and Pensions Monitor/Mindpath Financial Conferences takes place February 22. For more information, visit http://www.mindpath.ca/conferences_events.html.

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