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News

June 30, 2010

Consumer Confidence Drops

Consumer confidence tumbled in June, negating much of the gains made in May, says the Conference Board of Canada's index of consumer confidence. The index fell 5.7 points this month to 83.6 – 13 points lower than 96.6, at which it started the year off with, but still a good deal off the low of 67 in December 2008. In May, the Canadian index recorded a gain of 4.5 points, closing the month to finish at 89.3. A recent measure of U.S. consumer confidence also showed a significant dip this month. While the "vast majority" of respondents indicated their financial situation hadn't changed from the previous six months, the number saying their financial situations had improved fell 2.9 percentage points to 15.5 per cent. As well, the share of respondents predicting fewer jobs in six months rose two percentage points to 17.3 per cent. More Canadians also feel now is not the right time to make a major purchase, which is significant as that was one of the first areas to improve as the economy began recovering from the recession.

Walmart Names Presidents

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. named Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright its president and CEO of Global.com and Global Sourcing. As well, Bill Simon was promoted to president and CEO of Walmart U.S. Castro-Wright, who will also continue to serve as vice-chairman, and Simon will report directly to Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke. Castro-Wright will be transitioning to the position through August 1 and will be relocating to the company's Global.com office in California. Simon, who will assume his responsibilities immediately, was most recently COO and joined Walmart U.S. in March 2006 from Brinker International, where he was senior vice-president of global business development.

Goodfellow Reports Solid Quarter

Goodfellow Inc. reported consolidated sales of $140 million for its third quarter ended May 31, an improvement compared to $110.2 million for the same period a year ago. Sales in Canada grew 26 per cent due to strong performances in all regional areas of its business and diversification of its product offering in Ontario and Western Canada, Goodfellow says. Sales in the U.S. also increased 33 per cent due to improving market conditions throughout the spring. Export sales increased 67 per cent compared to last year due mainly to a strong performance in the UK and increasing sales to China and the Middle East. "The quarter, although not a record one, put us back on track to restore our yearly sales numbers to pre-recession levels," says Richard Goodfellow, president and CEO. "The contribution from our Ontario group was improved and all efforts are now focused on our key fourth quarter."

Bosch Appoints CFO, 3 Presidents

Bosch has appointed Maximiliane Straub its new chief financial officer and executive vice-president, Controlling, Finance, and Administration. Bosch also named three regional presidents for its North American operations. In her new role, Straub will be responsible for recording, reporting, and managing financial information for Robert Bosch LLC. As well, Peter Slaskiwas named regional president Chassis Systems Brakes Division, succeeding Straub; D. ScottWinchip was named regional president, Chassis Systems Control Division; and Scott Dahl is named regional president, Starter Motors and Generators Division. 

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June 29, 2010

Armstrong Appoints New CEO

Armstrong World Industries – manufacturer of floors, ceilings, and cabinets – has named Matthew Espe its president and CEO. Effective in late July, Espe, 51, will take over for Michael Lockhart, who stepped down in February. Espe joins Armstrong after serving as chairmen and CEO of Ricoh Americas Corp., a subsidiary of Ricoh Company, Ltd. "Matt brings a proven track record of placing a strong focus on customer service and profitable growth and is ideally suited to lead Armstrong into its next phase of growth," says James J. O'Connor, Armstrong's chairman.

True Value Recognizes Partners

True Value honoured its top suppliers at its annual merchandise partners meeting and awards dinner, including its ‘2009 Supplier of the Year’ winners and ‘Service Partner of the Year.’ For the competition, the judging committee reviewed more than 1,800 suppliers who met a sales volume requirement, had service levels in excess of 95 percent, and helped True Value retailers distinguish themselves. Among Canadian winners, Toronto-based The MIBRO Group took home the Supplier of the Year award in the Tools category. Jiawei Technology (HK) Limited, a photovoltaic solar products manufacturer, was recognized as Partner of the Year.

Retailers Upgrading Software Systems

In the past month, a number of Canadian retailers have switched to the Activant Eagle point-of-sale and retail business management solution, including Chase Home Hardware Building Centre, E&B Lumber, Econo Lumber, Mar-Span Home Hardware Building Centre, and Payzant Home Hardware Building Centre. “The Canadian hardware and lumber market is currently experiencing an upswing,” says Paul Salsgiver, executive vice-president. “A number of retailers are taking this opportunity to upgrade their software systems, improve efficiencies in their business processes, and prepare for what they hope will be a busy second half of the year.” Activant says retailers are choosing the solution because of its easy-to-use graphical interface and advanced functionality, along with its comprehensive business analytics software. It’s designed to improve customer order management and point-of-sale operations, tighten inventory management processes, and streamline vendor procurement.

B&D Launches Sanders Line

Black & Decker has introduced a line of sanders designed to virtually eliminate excess sawdust and debris. Instead of using a bag to trap debris from sanding, the CYCLONE dust collection system uses a cyclonic-action canister with a pleated filter, mobilizing the dust and locking it in the filter.  The line consists of five sanders; one from each of the five sander categories: random orbit, quarter-sheet, belt, precision and multi sander.

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June 28, 2010

Private Wealth Canada Now Available

A unique new online publication, Private Wealth Canada, is now available at www.privatewealthcanada.ca. The website is dedicated to providing financial and lifestyle planning information for senior executives at companies across Canada. The national news source will feature a wide range of content to help executives and business owners manage their wealth and estates; keep abreast of developments on essential services from banks, trust companies, and investment managers; and meet their personal lifestyle needs in areas such as vacation planning.

RONA Cold Lake Re-opens

RONA Cold Lake, Alberta is celebrating the official re-opening of its store. The new, larger store has doubled in size to 30,000 square feet and includes a 1,500-square-foot garden centre. It represents an investment of more than $6 million in the community. To mark the occasion, owners Jerry, Linda, Jay, and Tracy Kolewaski, along with their staff of 48, took part in a special ceremony with RONA President and CEO Robert Dutton and local dignitaries. “Customers will not only find the usual great service and building materials, but also a full complement of hardware, plumbing, paint and electrical products,” says owner Jerry Kolewaski.

Global Supply Blunting Protectionism

Global supply chains pulled Canada and the world more deeply into recession, but such "integrative trade" may also be blunting the scope of the protectionist response, says the latest publication in The Conference Board of Canada's series outlining lessons from the recession. Although protectionism, such as Buy American policies in the U.S., increased in response to the recession, it did not resemble the across-the-board, post-1930s-style trade actions. "The highly integrated nature of global production makes it unattractive for governments to impose new trade barriers that affect not only the flow of final goods, but also has a domino effect on all of the related intermediate inputs and components,” says Danielle Goldfarb, associate director, International Trade and Investment Centre. To best position the Canadian and world economies coming out of the global slowdown, the Conference Board says G20 leaders need to commit to "integrative trade policies," which requires removing barriers – “not just to trade, but to investment; not just for goods, but for services; and not just for exports, but for imported inputs and technologies.”

Sears Holding E-Waste Program

Sears Canada Inc., in conjunction with Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), Ontario Power Authority (OPA), and Sony Canada, is holding an e-waste take-back event at participating Sears locations across Ontario. Being held for two consecutive weekends beginning June 26-27 and ending July 3-4, the event invites customers to drop off e-waste, which includes anything from a pager to a television, to be safely and securely recycled. Customers who drop off their e-waste will receive special coupons for discounts on energy efficient televisions and power bars, and have the chance to win an energy efficient home theatre system.

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June 25, 2010

Small Business Conditions Turning

Canadian small business owners believe that business conditions are turning, according to the quarterly ‘American Express Small Business Index.’ The index climbed to its highest level in more than a year as 35 per cent of respondents reported improving conditions. The index also assigns a grade to the confidence and attitudes of small businesses. That grade climbed to a C in May, compared with a C- in March 2009. As of May, 37 per cent report experiencing a downturn, a marked drop from 50 per cent this past January, and 52 per cent in March 2009. Fifty-two per cent of owners said they were extremely or a little stressed, down from 56 per cent in January and a high of 66 per cent in March 2009. Regarding the future, 58 per cent predicted revenue growth in the coming 12 months. Of those, 44 per cent expect growth to be 20 per cent or more. The average expected increase is 24 per cent. Regionally, Vancouver small business owners who foresee growth projected an average increase of 40 per cent, while Montreal and Toronto respondents both were even with the national rate of growth.

Bed Bath & Beyond Earnings Up

Bed Bath & Beyond’s first-quarter net earnings increased 57.8 per cent to $137.6 million. Comparable-store sales for the quarter ended May 29 also increased 8.4 per cent and total sales increased 13.5 per cent to $1.923 billion. But the retailer offered a second-quarter forecast below analysts’ expectations. "While it appears that the economic environment may be stabilizing, persistent high unemployment and uncertainty in the economy could continue to pressure consumers and affect their spending," said CEO Steven Temares.

DEWALT Launches Industrial Bit Line

DEWALT has launched a line of Industrial Cobalt Drill Bits. The line is designed for glaziers, electricians, elevator installers, HVAC, exterior metal, and general contractors, as well as tradesmen, working in metal fabricating shops. They feature a web taper design that offers increased strength, rigidity, and breakage resistance. Additionally, the bits have an optimized 135-degree split point that allows them to start on contact and penetrate the material more quickly.

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June 24, 2010

Canadian Retail Sales Slide

Canada’s retail sales fell two per cent to $36.2 billion in April, says Statistics Canada. In volume terms, sales decreased 1.9 per cent in April. Retail sales have been on an upward trend since the beginning of 2009, but sales decreased in 10 of 11 retail subsectors and in all provinces. The only subsector to register a gain was electronics and appliance stores, where sales increased 0.6 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers dropped two per cent, following fluctuating monthly levels in recent months, StatsCan says. Retail sales declined for a third consecutive month at furniture and home furnishing stores, edging down 0.3 per cent. As well, there was a 4.8 per cent decrease at motor vehicle and parts dealers in April; a 0.5 per cent drop for food and beverage stores sales; a 5.2 per cent decrease for clothing and clothing accessories stores; and a two per cent drop for gasoline stations sales. Quebec had the largest drop among the provinces, with sales declining 3.9 per cent. The smallest decline in retail sales was a 0.7 per cent decrease in B.C.

Small Businesses Not Ready For HST

Many small business owners in B.C. and Ontario say they're not ready to comply with the Harmonized Sales Tax set to come into effect July 1, according to an Intuit Canada survey. Conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion, the survey of small business owners revealed that 54 per cent of respondents in Ontario and 47 per cent in B.C. won't be ready to comply with changes and are worried about the negative business consequences. More than three-in-five respondents in both provinces said they didn't understand the need for the new tax regime, and an overwhelming majority of respondents also fear the HST will make consumers more price sensitive (82 per cent in B.C. and 91 per cent in Ontario) – possibly driving customers to make purchases in provinces without HST (63 per cent in B.C. and 54 per cent in Ontario). Regarding the promised efficiencies of the new tax, 38 per cent of B.C. respondents and 39 per cent in Ontario acknowledged "saved resources" as a benefit and 13 per cent in B.C. and 23 per cent in Ontario believe the HST would make businesses more competitive.

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June 23, 2010

Consumer Price Index Up

Canada’s inflation rate increased 1.4 per cent in the 12 months to May, says Statistics Canada, following a 1.8 per cent increase in April. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 6.2 per cent overall, thanks mainly to rising energy prices. But excluding energy, the CPI rose one per cent in May, after increasing 1.1 per cent in April. Prices at the pump were 6.9 per cent higher than a year ago, natural gas prices rose 4.7 per cent, and prices for fuel oil and other fuels rose 19.9 per cent. Also up were the costs of transportation, shelter, electricity, dining out, sugar, tomatoes, household furnishings, cable and satellite television, telephone services, and childcare. Consumer prices rose in all provinces in the 12 months to May, but at a slower pace than in April. Ontario and three of the four Atlantic Provinces registered the largest year-over-year increases.

Newell Rubbermaid Announces Euro Plan

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced plans to centralize its European business management in Switzerland. The Atlanta manufacturer of consumer products says the ‘European Transformation Plan’ will help it become more efficient in getting products to customers, potentially boosting its profit by as much as $60 million in 2012. "The intended actions we are announcing today to simplify our business structure, speed up decision making and shorten time to market are designed to ensure that our company is well-positioned and appropriately structured for sustainable, long-term growth in Europe," said president and CEO Mark Ketchum.

Bosch Expands Multi-Tool Accessories

Bosch has expanded its Multi-Tool Accessories Family, to help oscillating multi-tool users get more out of their tools, it says. The expanded lineup of blades, scrapers, rasps, and sanding sheets have been designed specifically to improve the function and versatility of popular multi-tools.  Because users spend approximately 65 per cent of their time with oscillating multi-tools performing cutting applications, Bosch says it concentrated on developing accessories that deliver greater performance when cutting wood, metal, and other materials. 

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June 22, 2010

Pre-shopping Online Changing Retail

In the 20th century, cheap, abundant electricity changed the face of retail but today, its “cheap, abundant computing power” that’s transforming the industry, said Aaron Leibtag, director, financial strategy planning, Priszm LP. Leibtag was a speaker at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Canadian Retail Research Seminar in Toronto and commented on a special ICSC study which found that nearly 46 per cent of Canadians reported pre-shopping in some capacity – either always, frequently, or occasionally – on the retailer’s website before shopping in-store. The study suggests that pre-shopping online – which involves viewing store offerings and learning about product differences and prices before stepping into the store – represents a major ongoing shift which retailers need to be better prepared for.

New Identity For RONA Plumbing Group

A new name and visual identity have been created to reflect RONA’s growing plumbing specialties segment, which includes 26 points of sale and distribution facilities in Quebec and Ontario. Formerly known as Noble Trade, the RONA affiliate will now be called Noble and will feature a new logo. RONA says this new identity is designed to be simpler and more streamlined. RONA originally acquired Noble Trade in 2007, at the time an Ontario-based distributor of plumbing products with 19 sales locations. In 2009, Noble Trade’s main distribution centre underwent a 188,000-square-foot expansion to allow for a more complete line of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning appliances. In March 2010, Noble entered the Quebec market with the acquisition of Plomberie Payette & Perreault.

Not Ready For Longer Store Hours

Canadians are not yet ready for longer retail store hours, relative to their regional norms, said Jean Lambert, International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) director of industry research. As a speaker at the Canadian Retail Research Seminar in Toronto, Lambert commented on an ICSC study that looked at whether or not store-hour restrictions are still desirable in our increasing 24/7 society. The study found that nearly 60 per cent of households were opposed to lifting store-hour restrictions – the one exception being households with incomes more than $100,000, which narrowly (50.9 per cent) preferred the removal of legal store-hour restrictions. Homemakers were the least supportive of lifting restrictions, with 67.9 per cent opposed. From the perspective of employees, the majority (64.4 per cent) felt that they would not welcome this change since it would be viewed as having negative social and family implications. As well, the larger the community size the greater the acceptance of the removal of store-hour restrictions. In communities with populations over one million, 55.6 per cent favoured removing restrictions and saw more opportunity for work and flexible shopping hours.

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June 21, 2010

Manufacturing Leading Growth

The composite leading index for May increased by 0.9 per cent, says Statistics Canada, about equal to the average increases over the past year. While the upturn a year ago was led by housing and the stock market, these components have stopped contributing and have been replaced by the manufacturing components. All three manufacturing indicators rose in unison, and manufacturing consistently led the growth of total gross domestic product over the past five months. New orders led the way, up four per cent for a fourth consecutive increase. The ratio of shipments to inventories strengthened for the 10th month in a row. Also, the housing index fell 1.2 per cent, its first decline since April 2009. Existing home sales continued to retreat slowly from their record high reached over the winter, while the year-long rally in housing starts stalled. Despite the slowdown in housing, furniture and appliance sales continued to strengthen. Demand for other durable goods remained soft, notably for autos.

Small Businesses Thinking ‘Green’

Half of Canadian small business owners (52 per cent) currently have (46 per cent) or are considering (six per cent) implementing a green plan or environmental policies for their business, says the RBC small business survey. "These results tell us that small business owners are making environmental sustainability a priority," said Mike Michell, national director, Small Business, RBC. The study finds small businesses that already have a plan or policies in place are more likely to concentrate on reducing energy (63 per cent), while those that are considering a green plan are more likely to focus the plan on environmental standards (31 per
cent) and supply reduction (55 per cent). Also according to the survey, spending on existing environmental initiatives is low: 59 per cent of businesses with a green plan say that they have spent less than $500 on green initiatives in the past two years. However, as a business grows its revenue, the amount spent increases.

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June 18, 2010

Pier 1 Confidence High

For the first time in six years, Pier 1 Imports, Inc. achieved first quarter operating income, it says. The global importer of decorative home furnishings reported first-quarter comparable store sales growth of 14.3 per cent versus last year’s decline of 7.5 per cent and had operating income of $8.3 million compared to an operating loss of $26.7 million last year. “Our confidence level is high and we know how to keep the momentum going – continuing to rebuild our profitability one SKU and one customer at a time,” says Alex W. Smith, president and CEO. The sales increase for the quarter was primarily the result of an increase in store traffic, conversion rate, and average ticket, the company says.

Scotts Boosts Outlook

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company updated its financial outlook for fiscal 2010 based on strong continued demand for its products in the United States. The Company said it expects adjusted earnings for fiscal 2010 to be in a range of $3.25 to $3.35 per share, and expects sales growth to range from five to seven per cent for the full year and gross margins to improve by up to 100 basis points. It also reaffirmed its outlook that free cash flow would be at least $200 million. "Consumers remain engaged in our category and we continue to believe we are gaining market share," says Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO.

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June 17, 2010

Walmart Takes Step Towards Banking

Walmart has launched a rewards-based credit card, marking its push towards becoming a financial services provider in Canada. Walmart Bank Canada, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Canada Corp., introduced a no-fee MasterCard -- the first of more money-related products for customers, the retailer says. The credit card will come with an 18.99-per-cent annual interest rate and allow customers to earn 1.25 per cent of their purchases in Walmart reward dollars for virtually every dollar spent, along with one per cent of their purchases in reward dollars when using the card elsewhere. Cardholders can review transactions, check balances, and make payments at walmartcanadafinancialservices.ca. "Customers are always asking Walmart for more ways to help them save money and stretch their budgets further," says Trudy Fahie, president and CEO of Walmart Canada Bank. "The Walmart Rewards MasterCard was developed with our customers in mind and the Walmart Rewards program focuses on giving them value when they spend on and need life's everyday things."

RONA Expands Atlantic Presence

RONA inc. has acquired the chain of Piercey’s stores located around the Halifax, NS region – improving its presence in the Atlantic Provinces to 31 stores, from nine at the end of 2004. Expected to close on June 21, 2010, the transaction will be mainly financed by an offering of RONA treasury stock and will raise its total retail space among Atlantic Provinces to 575,000 square feet. Owned by the Bragg Group, Piercey’s operates five hardware stores ranging in size from 17,000 to 69,000 square feet, and includes major lumberyards and one of the biggest fleets of construction materials and hardware delivery trucks in Nova Scotia. “We are very pleased with this acquisition, which reflects our intention to become the industry leader in every key region of the country. For RONA, this transaction represents another step toward achieving our goal of consolidating the Canadian market and growing our market share from 17.5 per cent to over 20 per cent by the end of 2011,” said president and CEO Robert Dutton.

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June 16, 2010

RONA Congratulates TV-Show Winners

RONA inc. congratulates both teams that took part in the eighth annual round of ‘Ma Maison RONA,’ especially to the Blue Team (the Landreville-Kérouack family) which won on the final program of the reality TV series. Voted as favourites by the television audience, the family are the winners of their home and its furnishings, valued at $350,000. As well, both houses built during the series received their LEED Canada for Homes Gold level certification during the final episode, becoming respectively the first and second homes in Quebec to receive this certification.

IKEA First To Phase-Out Incandescents

IKEA says it will completely phase out incandescent light bulbs by January 1, 2011, making it the first retailer to do so in Canada. The target date is ahead of the federal government ban set to take effect in 2012. While the compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) is the most popular option, IKEA says it will offer a range of alternatives such as LED lamps and halogen lamps, including its 'SUNNAN' desk lamp and 'SOLIG' range of outdoor lights. It will also launch a new 'halogen retrofit' bulb this fall, which can be used with a standard light socket. "Eliminating incandescent bulbs is another simple step IKEA is taking to help our customers save energy, and reduce emissions. It's a small step, with a big impact," says Kerri Molinaro, president. 

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June 15, 2010

Bosch Introduces ‘Joe The Pro’

The new face of Bosch Accessories is ‘Joe the Pro,’ a promotional campaign meant to teach people that “better accessories mean better results.” Built around veteran construction specialist Joe Sainz, the program will travel to jobsites, power tools dealerships, and other events. As spokesman, Sainz is a construction specialist who has built homes, worked as a remodeler and finish carpenter, and holds a certificate in electrical mechanics. His key message will be that poor bits or blades can ruin the performance of tools. “I’ve fallen into the trap of buying the cheaper accessory many times, but there’s always a price to pay – the poorly-made accessory either fails in the middle of a job or doesn’t last long enough to keep you out of the tool store and on the jobsite,” says Sainz.

Sears Opens BC Dealer Store

Sears Canada opened a new 1,567-square-foot Dealer Store in Lillooet, BC. Owned and operated by Tom and Lori Karanfilis, the store will house a selection of major appliances, hardware, electronics, and seasonal items, including its exclusive brands Kenmore and Craftsman. "We've come up with a winning formula for consumers in Lillooet," says Tom Karanfilis. "By combining the national resources of Sears with the local service of your neighbour -- truly the best of both worlds in terms of customer service."

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June 14, 2010

AFA Opening New DC

AFA Forest Products Inc. will be opening a new distribution centre in Kelowna, BC on Sept. 1, 2010. The facility will have a team dedicated to service, sales, customer support, and promotional activities throughout the region. “This location announcement marks another key goal in our strategic planning being met and furthers AFA’s commitment to our industry, vendor partners, and customer base alike,” says Andy Dolan, national sales and marketing manager, Allied Products.

Cast Polymer Demand To Rise

U.S. demand for cast polymers is expected to increase 5.4 per cent annually through 2014 to 216 million square feet, says a new study by The Freedonia Group, Inc. A rebound in housing completions will be an important driver. In addition, the study predicts cast polymers will seize market share from more traditional decorative surfacing materials, such as laminates, especially in the residential countertop market. Demand for engineered stone is projected to advance 11 per cent annually to 53 million square feet in 2014, the fastest growth of any cast polymer product. The countertop market will account for 85 per cent of cast polymer demand in 2014.  And solid surface materials will continue to account for the largest share of demand for cast polymers, with 44 per cent of the total market in 2014. 

CertainTeed Boosts Noise Reduction

CertainTeed says it’s improving the noise reduction coefficient (NRC), a measurement for sound absorption, in seven of its Safetone Performance Series mineral fibre and fibreglass ceiling products. The NRC was increased to 0.60 and 0.95 in its various product lines. “CertainTeed is raising the bar on acoustics and providing more features in our Performance Series ceilings products with no additional cost to our customers,” says Lisa Santerian, director of marketing.

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June 11, 2010

Consumer Confidence Stalls

Short-term concern has pushed the overall measure of Canadian consumer confidence slightly lower, says the latest Harris/Decima-Investors Group Measure of Consumer Confidence. In the latest wave, it dropped from 89 in February to 85.9 today. In the U.S., the measure stands at 73.6, unchanged since February. But Canadians remain confident about the near and longer term, with 27 per cent saying believing they will be better off a year from now and 58 per cent expressing confidence in the economy over the next five years. A majority (53 per cent) feel that now is a good time to make a major purchase, up slightly from 50 per cent in February. Nationally, 30 per cent believe it is a bad time to make such a purchase. "While consumer confidence remains relatively high in Canada compared to the US and to the same period last year, it appears to have stalled,” says Doug Anderson, senior vice-president. “Canadians are clearly optimistic about the long term but recent events such as the downturn in the stock market, the effect of the rising dollar on our manufacturing exports, and the banking crisis overseas may have taken a toll on Canadians optimism towards their personal wealth."

JELD-WEN Wins ENERGY STAR Award

JELD-WEN was honoured with the ‘2010 ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence,’ given out by Natural Resources Canada. The award recognizes its commitment to promoting ENERGY STAR certification and its efforts to constantly make its products more energy efficient. “Year after year we strive constantly to improve our products with a view to meeting and even surpassing ENERGY STAR standards," said Lisa Bergeron, director of marketing for Eastern Canada at JELD-WEN. The window and door manufacturer recently created a number of tools, such as its website www.eco-reno.ca, to keep consumers informed about highly energy efficient products.

Sears ENERGY STAR Retailer Of The Year

Sears Canada Inc. has won the ‘2010 ENERGY STAR Retailer of the Year’ award for the third consecutive year, and the fourth such win for the company since the award's inception in 2003. It’s also the only Canadian retailer to receive this honour four times. "As a Company, we are committed to making it easy for Canadians to choose the most energy efficient solutions for their homes," says Dene Rogers, president and CEO. Sears recently developed its ‘Cost and Carbon Savings Calculator’ online to help customers see the financial and environmental benefit of switching to ENERGY STAR qualified products and services. It also features ENERGY STAR-qualified products prominently in weekly flyers and educates its customers about the benefits of purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified products and services through its Live Green program.

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June 10, 2010

CertainTeed Wallboard Captures VOCs

CertainTeed Gypsum launched a wallboard that improves indoor air quality by “permanently” reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The first-of-its-kind, patent-pending ‘AirRenew’ gypsum wallboard captures VOCs, formaldehyde, and other aldehydes by converting them into inert compounds that safely remain within the board. Sources of VOCs inside a building, such as pressed wood products, are made using adhesives, and include sub-flooring, shelving, cabinets, and furniture. “Replacing carpeting, cabinets, shelving or furniture in a renovation project often introduces new sources of VOCs into indoor environments well after initial construction,” says John Donaldson, president. “AirRenew is a good choice for buildings with stringent air quality requirements, such as hospitals, schools, and office buildings, because it will help improve the interior environment for its occupants.”

RONA Unveils Saskatoon Store

RONA inc. officially unveiled its 73,000-square-foot Saskatoon store. The opening, which replaces an older 35,000 square-foot store, represents a $22 million-plus investment in Saskatoon and provides 115 local jobs, 40 of which are new positions. Along with its generous sales area, the store boasts a 13,000-square-foot garden centre and a 130,680-square-foot drive-through lumberyard. “The people of Saskatoon have been wonderful supporters of RONA,” said Pierre Dandoy, executive vice-president, Store Operations. “This new store is one of the new generation of RONA stores, and it includes a tremendous range of products, brighter atmosphere, friendlier, and more efficient design and our everyday competitive prices.”

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June 9, 2010

Stanley, Canadian Tire Team Up For Kids

Stanley has made a guaranteed donation of $56,000 to Canadian Tire Jumpstart, a community-based charitable program that helps kids in financial need participate in organized sport and recreation activities. Stanley will also donate a further $1 million to the program if Stanley-sponsored NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler wins the 2010 Sprint Cup Series race at the Michigan International Speedway on June 13. Stanley’s involvement also includes the launch of the ‘Jumpstart for the Kids’ promotion, a fully integrated partnership between Stanley, Canadian Tire, and Canadian Tire Jumpstart. As well, Canadian Tire shoppers will be able to register to win a VIP trip to Texas to meet Elliott Sadler, a three-time Sprint Cup Series winner, and attend the NASCAR race weekend of events at Texas Motor Speedway.

Wal-Mart Highlights Goals

Wal-Mart says it is focused on becoming “a truly global company” and a “bigger” leader on social issues, at its annual shareholders meeting. President and CEO Mike Duke discussed the need be a local store for customers, share best practices, and leverage its global supply chain. Duke also emphasized the importance of talent. “Just over the next five years, we’ll create 500,000 jobs around the world,” Duke said. “We need to recruit the best talent and identify the best talent in our ranks. Then we need to develop leaders and help them become global citizens.” Duke also highlighted global challenges facing retailers over the next 20 years, including the effect of technology on shopping habits and on pricing. “Retail will soon enter an era of price transparency… And what kind of retailer wins in a time of price transparency? You got it, the price leader.”

Wooster Expands Site

The Wooster Brush Company enhanced its online toolbox in order to better assist DIYers, as well as professionals and retailers. Specifically, its expanded ‘Painting Tips’ section now goes beyond brush-cleaning tricks, and features expert demonstrations on its new ‘Videos’ page. The ‘All About Applicators’ manual and 50-queston online certification program help guide tool selection, and test painters’ or retailers’ knowledge of the trade. And its new pressroom section features high-resolution photos, news, and in-depth looks at Wooster tools. To view the website, visit www.woosterbrush.com.

Document Aimed At Green Designers

The Hardwood Council has released a new document to help professionals select a building or design material. The one-page reference document – entitled, ‘How Selecting Materials Impacts Our Lives – What to Consider for Material Selection’ – is available for download at http://www.hardwoodcouncil.com and is aimed at the environmentally serious design professional. As a way to promote carbon neutral buildings, the document compares various materials’ life cycle, functionality, and durability with North American hardwoods.

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June 8, 2010

Taiga Reports Positive Quarter

Taiga Building Products Ltd. reported fourth-quarter sales of $223.1 million compared to $178.8 million in the same quarter last year. The 24.8 per cent increase was primarily due to significant improvement in commodity prices and general business conditions, Taiga says. Gross margin for the quarter was $21.2 million compared to $17.6 million in the same quarter last year, an increase of $3.6 million or 20.5 per cent as sales volume increased. “The Company will continue its aggressive cost management initiatives to ensure appropriate levels of liquidity are maintained,” it says. The Board of Directors declared a dividend on common shares equal to 25 per cent of the fiscal year’s net earnings.

RONA, CFL Renew Partnership

RONA inc. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) have renewed their national partnership for another three years. Promotional partners since 2001, RONA and the CFL are extending their agreement to the end of the 2012 season, which is based on increased visibility in stadiums, stores, and on the airwaves of TSN and RDS. For five years, all players in the eight CFL teams have been wearing the RONA logo on their uniforms throughout the regular season, the playoffs, and at the Grey Cup game. To mark the extension and the beginning of the 2010 season, RONA and the CFL will jointly host the RONA Canada Day Kickoff on July 1st, 2010. “Our shared success and RONA’s visibility at CFL games always fill our employees with pride, all across the country, and that’s a feeling we want to share with our Canadian customers,” said RONA vice-president of marketing, image, and sponsorships, Pierre L’Heureux.

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June 7, 2010

HST Fuelling Underground Economy

Ontario's new HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) is driving growth in the underground economy, a full month before the new tax is enacted on July 1, says Craig Bennett, deputy director of Avenue Road Roofing, a Toronto-based roofing company. "We are getting more and more reports that roofing contractors are trying to attract sales by promising the buyer a no-tax deal, provided that payment is made with cash," Bennett says. He added that many consumers still have misconceptions about the HST, particularly relating to what you need to do to "beat the HST." The biggest misconception is that you can save the HST by making some form of commitment before July 1, but taking delivery after July 1. The truth, however, is that you have to make full payment and take delivery before July 1. Bennett is urging consumers to avoid the underground economy because it "just ends up hurting us all in the end."

Willing To Save Water, Not Performance

Canadians are willing to save water in the shower but won’t give up performance, according to an online survey by Moen. The survey asked consumers about their top shower pet peeves and habits, and found that their top “problem” (with 32 per cent of the respondents) included "wanting to conserve water, but not wanting to sacrifice showering performance." Of the shower types studied, findings show the most common shower in Canada is a shower/tub combo with curtain (at 53 per cent) or stand-alone with door (at 31 per cent). The most common type of showerhead consumers currently have is wall-mounted (at 58 per cent), and of those surveyed, 47 per cent of Canadian consumers would be extremely or very likely to buy a flow-optimized showerhead.

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June 4, 2010

Education Key At Can-Save Expo

Livelier booth displays and greater product education was present at this year’s Can-Save Expo, said Larry Koza, managing partner – vendor relations. “Education is key,” Koza added, referring to the hands-on booth demonstrations and the two new show stages which featured ongoing Business Growth Seminars throughout the day. Once again held at the Barrie Molson Centre, Koza said Can-Save's 19th annual summer buying show had more attendees and greater exhibitor participation compared to last year.

IRLY Welcomes Newest Member

IRLY Building Centres welcomed its newest member, Brookswood Rentals Ltd. in Langley, BC. With help from his daughter Melodie Murphy, Brookswood Rentals is owned and operated by Ed Murphy who bought the 30-year-old business in 1994 and moved it to a larger location nearby.  There, he expanded the operation from a one-garage bay to the existing 8,000 sqare-foot facility. Currently the business offers machinery sales and rentals, however, the Murphys plan to expand the storefront and begin a hardware offering using existing storage space.

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June 3, 2010

Power Tool Brand Loyalty Vital

Cordless drill/driver owners demonstrate a particularly high level of brand loyalty, says a J.D. Power and Associates study. Its ‘2010 Cordless Drill/Driver Satisfaction Study,’ now in its third year, found that 90 per cent are likely to repurchase their current brand. However, customer commitment to brands is greatest for those manufacturers that deliver the highest levels of overall satisfaction. “With power tool owners demonstrating such a high level of loyalty to their brand, the research strongly indicates that once a customer purchases a power tool, they are the manufacturer’s to lose,” says Christina Cooley, senior manager of the real estate and construction industries practice at J.D. Power. The study also also found that Milwaukee ranks highest in 2010 with a score of 770 on a 1,000-point scale. Milwaukee performs particularly well in operational performance and battery versatility. Following Milwaukee closely in the rankings are Bosch and DeWalt (in a tie), Craftsman Professional, and Makita, respectively.

All Weather Chooses Green Power

All Weather Windows has chosen 100 per cent green electricity provider, Bullfrog Power, for its commercial division in Alberta. As part of the agreement, Bullfrog's generators will inject wind power onto the regional grid to match the amount of power All Weather Window's commercial division in Alberta uses. In Alberta, Bullfrog's power comes exclusively from local wind power facilities that have been certified by Environment Canada under its EcoLogoM program. "Choosing Bullfrog Power is an important piece of our environmental strategy and we are delighted to be supporting green power generated right here in Alberta," said Aaron Latimer, director, marketing communications.

Green Corporate Leadership Not Resonating

A majority of Canadians cannot name a green retail leader or don’t think any single company deserves recognition, according to ‘The 2010 Canadian Green Gap Index.’ Conducted by Leger Marketing for the Summerhill consulting group and Optimum Public Relations, the study asked Canadians to identify green corporate leaders in eight different sectors and reasons why they were green. More than three quarters of respondents couldn’t identify one or didn’t believe one existed. "Canadians genuinely care about living greener, but they aren't being supported to do more than take small steps," says Nick Cowling, vice-president of Optimum Public Relations. "Many of corporate Canada's environmental platforms do not resonate with them because companies focus more on building corporate reputation versus helping consumers understand how their products and services can help them achieve their green living goals."

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June 2, 2010

TIM-BR Mart Wins Marketing Award

TIM-BR Mart’s World Junior Hockey Video Challengetook home the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Large Chain, Retail Marketing/Advertising’ award. It was recognized at the Excellence in Retail awards held in Toronto on May 31st, in a category that featured submissions from retailers across a variety of sectors. “It (the video challenge) grabbed hold at the grassroots level and reached the nation and – most importantly – minor league hockey teams. We plan to do more of the same this year,” said Steve Stremecki, vice-president of Retail Services. This year marks the second round for the company as an IIHF World Junior Championships major event sponsor, which takes place in Buffalo, NY on Dec. 26.    

IRLY Pres Elected To Board Of Trade

Susan Robinson, president and CEO of IRLY Distributors Ltd., has been elected to the Surrey Board of Trade. She will begin her new role on June 15, 2010 and serve a two-year term as a director. Robinson says she will look to increase membership and participation on the board, and would like to see Surrey accomplish sustainable growth while becoming the voice of business in the Fraser Valley. “I am eager to see Surrey reach its full potential,” said Robinson.

Walmart Honoured Twice By RCC

Walmart Canada was honoured twice at the Retail Council of Canada's (RCC) Excellence in Retailing ceremony held in Toronto. The company took home the ‘Retail Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award for Environment’ for its environmental demonstration store in Burlington, ON. The store features a first-of-its-kind application of geothermal technology in a large-scale Canadian retail operation and energy-conserving lighting innovations, among other sustainable features. It also won the ‘Large Chain In-Store Retail Merchandising Award’ for its 'Project Patio' program, a multi-channel merchandising and marketing initiative to help customers create outdoor living solutions at competitive prices. "These awards speak to our company's commitment to being a contributing member of the community and to making the shopping experience easy and affordable for our customers," said David Cheesewright, president and CEO.  

Hilti Design Team Recognized

Power tool manufacturer Hilti will receive the 'Red Dot Design Team of the Year Award,' a prestigious honour given out by the design community. Hilti's Chief Designer Stephan Niehaus and the design team will receive the award at a ceremony on July 5 in Essen, Germany. The award is not given out in open competition and is reserved for designers that demonstrate consistency and innovative work. "We are delighted that our consistent, clear and expressive design language has also been recognized by an external expert jury," said Bo Risberg, Hilti CEO.

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June 1, 2010

RONA Prince George Re-opens

RONA Prince George in B.C. is celebrating its official store re-opening. The newly renovated 12,500-square-foot store, with a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, represents an investment of $3 million in the community. Owner Rod Bellman and his staff of 37 worked more than 18 months building the facility and merchandising in time for the grand opening. “I’ve been in this business for more than 5 years and with RONA as an affiliate dealer for two years now, and I’m very excited to present Prince George customers with this newly expanded store,” Bellman said.

Builders Fuelling Truck Demand

LeaseTrader.com says a gradually improving economy, warmer weather for construction projects, and increased business spending are why May saw a noticeable spike in truck demand for auto lease takeovers. "Builders and remodelers, in particular, have been a large part of our increase in truck category demand," said Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder. "Although the construction industry is still recovering from a deep economic pullback in housing activity, builders are slowly gaining shorter-term projects where they’re looking for short-term lease commitments." For the first time in 2010, monthly demand for truck takeovers has risen above five per cent growth and is expected to close out the month near a 9.7 per cent increase for overall category demand. The Toyota Tundra leads all LeaseTrader.com truck demand in May grabbing 18.6 per cent of the lease swap category. Ford’s F-150 (16.7 per cent) leads all domestic trucks and is second overall followed by the Dodge Ram (14.2 per cent) and the Chevy Silverado (13.8 per cent).

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May 31, 2010

Home Dealer Wins Young Retailer Award

The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) honoured Neepawa, MB Home Hardware dealer-owner, Patrick Guilbert, as a ‘Young Retailer of the Year.’ Currently in its fourteenth year, the Young Retailer of the Year Program highlights young, aspiring hardware retailers and recognizes outstanding achievements as owners and managers of independently owned hardware and building supply stores in the U.S. and Canada. Guilbert was one of three winners in the under $2 million in sales category and the only Canadian honouree. “Every day is different with new customers, new questions, and new challenges. I love working with the staff and helping our customers. Making the career switch into hardware is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Guilbert. Since taking over the 6,500-square-foot store, Guilbert has overseen a revamping of the paint department, the opening of an expanded and renovated bath centre, and focused the store on the finishing market, including an expanded selection in the kitchen category.

DIY Remaining Strong, Lowe’s Says

Lowe's Cos. CEO Robert A. Niblock says it has gained market share in each quarter of 2009 and continuing into 2010, as more homeowners choose to take on projects themselves. Speaking at Lowe’s annual meeting, Niblock told shareholders that even during uncertain economic times consumers still care greatly about their homes. "The 'to-do' list is still on the refrigerator and includes most of the same projects as in the past," he said. During the meeting, shareholders also re-elected board members David W. Bernauer, Leonard L. Berry, Dawn E. Hudson, and Robert A. Niblock. .

Pittsburgh Paints Unveils Neutrals

PPG Pittsburgh Paints introduced its latest colour collection, ‘Atmospheric,’ comprised of 100 neutrals developed with input from designers and forecasters. Colour experts at PPG examined the hues found in current and historic home fabrics, including furniture, curtains, carpeting, and more. They also looked to their global colour forecasters to take into account future trends. “The research helped us to produce a beautiful palette that will remain current. By looking back as well as forward, we created a palette that homeowners and designers can turn to whether they are refreshing an existing room with today’s colours or designing one from scratch to stay fresh for years,” said Dee Schlotter, brand manager.

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May 28, 2010

First RONA Colour Boutique Opens

A new-concept RONA Colour Boutique opened in Rawdon, QC, the first of its kind in the network. The concept was presented to RONA dealer-owners last November and offers customers a selection of large-size colour swatches, with 250 colours specially designed for RONA. The colour system has a database of thousands of shades and can reproduce any colour from a sample. “When we saw the need to renovate and expand, and found out we could adopt the new Colour Boutique concept, we set to work immediately,” says owner Greg Tinkler. The retail area of the RONA Tinsco store has grown to 14,000 square feet, including 1,000 square feet for the new Colour Boutique and 6,000 square feet for a new construction materials warehouse.

Recycled Paint Goes Nationwide

Dynamic Paint Products has expanded distribution of its 100 per cent premium recycled latex paint line, ‘ecocoat,’ to stretch from coast to coast in Canada. The green-friendly paint was initially launched in Western Canada by Dynamic in partnership with Calgary-based Calibre Environmental Ltd. The expansion is in response to positive feedback received so far in the west. “The beauty of this product is that it competes on many levels,” says Pat Power, director of marketing. “It’s green, high quality, and priced well. These three key factors have contributed to the positive market response.” The cost-savings on new raw materials and production are passed along to the retail level, Power says, so it’s a win for consumers, professional painters, and retailers alike.

Home Appoints Product Manager

Home Hardware Stores Limited appointed Sandy Palmer to product manager, Allied Building Products. In her new role, she will be responsible for building products available through Home's three distribution centres. Palmer is already an experienced member of Home’s Lumber and Building Materials team, says Claire Trainor, public relations coordinator, and brings an extensive background in purchasing to her new role.

Euro Underlay Available In Canada

Elastilon, a patented underlay flooring membrane, once only available in Europe, is now available in Canada. The non-toxic and emission-free underlay membrane features ergonomic, thermal, and acoustic properties, and allows stick-and-peel installation of 5/16” to 1” solid hardwood for a 50 to 70 per cent reduction in installation time. The self-adhesive membrane can be used on concrete both below and above grade. It was launched nearly a decade ago in the Netherlands by wood flooring industry veteran Fred van Bers, and is now sold in 40 countries.

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May 27, 2010

Sherwin-Williams To Acquire Swedish Firm

Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams Co. took another step towards global expansion by entering into an agreement to acquire Becker Acroma Industrial Wood Coatings, a subsidiary of AB Wilh. Becker based in Sweden. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Becker Acroma is one of the largest manufacturers of industrial wood coatings in the world and a technology leader in water, UV, and other wood coatings. It currently has more than 900 employees with sales in excess of SEK 2.1 billion. The transaction will be subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in this year’s third quarter. "This is another positive step in our strategy of steady growth and expansion through quality products and people who provide excellent customer service," says Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO of Sherwin-Williams.

Construction Outlook Positive In China

Construction expenditures in China are expected to rise 9.1 per cent per annum through 2014, says a study from research firm The Freedonia Group, Inc. Although moderating significantly from the pace of the 2004-2009 period, China still represents the fastest growing major national market in the world, the study says, which will be bolstered by a growing domestic economy, ongoing industrialization, and rising income levels. Non-building construction will be the fastest growing sector, advancing 10 per cent annually through 2014. Residential building is the largest market for construction services in China, accounting for 37 per cent of total construction spending in 2009. And non-residential building construction expenditures are forecast to rise nine per cent per year through 2014, driven by rebounding local and foreign investment in the manufacturing sector.

Top Ten Green Roofing Cities Revealed

The green roof industry in North America grew by 16.1 per cent over the course of 2009, despite the economic downturn, says the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) association. According to the GRHC’s ‘2010 Industry Survey of its Corporate Members,’ Chicago is first among the top ten green-roofing cities, with more than 500,000 square feet installed, followed by Washington, DC. Canadian cities Montreal (8th) and Quebec City (9th) were also among the top ten in North America. "Despite this fantastic progress, opportunities for future annual growth are enormous, with green roofs accounting for an estimated 10 million square feet annually in an overall flat roofing industry which replaces or builds more than four billion square feet in North America annually," said Steven W. Peck, founder and president of GRHC.

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May 26, 2010

Canadian Tire Making Fleet Greener

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited says it is currently replacing its vehicle fleet with new trucks possessing the latest generation in low emissions diesel engine technology. In response to the government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles, thirty trucks will be replaced in 2010, with the entire fleet of 70 vehicles replaced by 2013. "Our new trucks will increase fuel economy, lower our operating costs, and also significantly contribute to a cleaner environment. We look forward to working with the federal government on this initiative," said Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO.  In addition, it will increasingly rely on rail transport versus trucks to move goods long distances because it is less expensive, better for the environment, and highly efficient, it says. As well, Canadian Tire Retail is one of the first companies to test the use of long-combination vehicles (LCV) on select routes in a pilot with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. These vehicles reduce fossil fuel and associated greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 33 per cent.

Consumer Confidence In Future Down

Canadians are confident in the current state of the economy but concern about the future is growing, according to the latest results from TNS Canadian Facts' Consumer Confidence Index. The index, which is part of a global study, fell below the 100-point marker after finally passing it last month for the first time in two years. It ended the month at 98.7, down 1.8 points from April's 100.5. "It feels like the acceleration and deceleration you get from ABS brakes," said Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts. "Canadians seems to be lurching forward and back based on the news they're getting." The ‘Expectations Index,’ which measures consumers' estimation of the economy, household income, and employment in the next six months, dropped for the second consecutive month. It declined 1.8 points from April's close of 109.7. Likewise, the ‘Buy Index,’ which gauges the degree to which people think it’s a good time to make major purchases, compounded the slight declines recorded in both March and April with a 4.5-point drop this month to settle at 96.4, putting it below 100 for the first time since last November.

Weyerhaeuser Launches Eco-friendly Panels

Weyerhaeuser has launched a line of durable, environmentally responsible panels, which are ideal for construction, manufacturing, finishing, and industrial applications, the company says. Its Lumin hardwood and softwood plywood is derived from plantation-grown eucalyptus and pine, and are now available in a selection of grades and lay-up configurations.

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May 25, 2010

Warmer Weather Drives Retail Sales

Retail sales rose 2.1 per cent in March to $37 billion, says Statistics Canada – marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Sales increased in eight of 11 retail subsectors in March, with warmer than usual weather in much of Canada driving sales at some types of stores. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased 6.6 per cent, thanks in part to a strong Canadian housing market. Retail sales declined for a second consecutive month at furniture and home furnishing stores, falling 0.9 per cent in March. Clothing and clothing accessories stores experienced a 4.4 per cent rise in sales in March, the largest increase since Sept. 2006 and its fourth consecutive monthly increase. Sales rose 9.2 per cent at shoe stores, 3.9 per cent at clothing stores, and 2.8 per cent at jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores.

RONA Loon Lake Opens

Owners Rick and Diane Merz, along with their staff of 28, celebrated the launch of RONA Loon Lake, in Loon Lake, SK. The 7,000-square-feet store represents an investment of more than $800,000 in the community and replaces the old Main Street store. “Customers will not only find the usual great service and building materials but also a full complement of hardware, plumbing, paint and electrical products,” owner Rick Merz said. In addition, he says the store incorporated new displays showcasing lighting, kitchens and baths, flooring, and seasonal products.

Otter Creek Becomes Distributor

Bioflamme and Cedrico Lumber, providing combustion products for heating and ambiance fires, announced that Otter Creek Forest Products will be their distributor for south-western Ontario starting in June 2010 for their Bioflamme products. Otter Creek services all regions in this area from their warehouse facility located in Ingersoll, ON. Since 2002 the company has been distributing specialty building material products to retailers such as Home Hardware, Rona, TIM-BR Mart, and Castle.

Williams-Sonoma Reports Growth

Williams-Sonoma Inc. reported first-quarter net income of $19.5 million in contrast to a loss a year ago. The growth was helped by a 17 per cent rise in revenue and reduced inventory, it says. Revenue increased to $717.6 million from $611.6 million, surpassing Wall Street's estimate of $675.6 million. The retailer – whose stores include Pottery Barn, West Elm, and its namesake brand – say that with the economy starting to improve, shoppers are beginning to make big-ticket purchases again. "Our ongoing focus on our customers, their needs, and the aspects of the business we could control combined with an improving economic backdrop drove these better than expected results," CEO Howard Lester says.

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May 21, 2010

Leading Indicators Up In April

The composite leading index grew 0.9 per cent in April, says Statistics Canada, marking 11 straight increases averaging one per cent a month. Eight of the 10 components rose, with housing and the stock market leading the way. The housing index was up 0.8 per cent, as higher housing starts outweighed lower house sales. Furniture and appliance sales remained strong, while demand for other durable goods fell 0.7 per cent. Manufacturing continued its recovery, as new orders increased for the third straight month – its longest stretch of increases since March 2008. Higher sales drove the advance in the ratio of shipments to inventories, which hit its highest level since February 2008. Firms used the recovery in demand and output to raise productivity, as both the average workweek and employment in factories remained little changed.

RONA Applauds Boreal Forest Protection

RONA inc. announced its support for the recent agreement between members of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and leading environmental organizations, which provides for application of the highest standards of sustainable forest management to 72 million hectares of Canada’s Boreal Forest. “All parties to this agreement ought to be commended,” said Normand Dumont, RONA’s executive vice-president, Merchandising. “The underlying aims of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement are similar to those reflected in RONA’s wood products procurement policy, which was developed after consultation and dialogue with stakeholders and has been commended by environmental organizations for its rigour and effectiveness in protecting the Boreal forest.” The agreement between 21 FPAC members addresses the development of leading forest management and harvesting practices; the completion of joint proposals for networks of protected areas and the recovery of species at risk; a full life-cycle approach to forest carbon management; and support for the economic future of forest communities and for the recognition of conservation achievements in the global marketplace.

Sears First Quarter Drops

Sears Holdings Corp.'s first-quarter net income dropped 38 per cent. The retailer attributes the decline to smaller profit margins at its Sears chain and heavy discounts on appliances. Quarterly net income also fell to $16 million, down from $26 million, and revenue fell slightly to $10.05 billion from $10.06 billion a year ago because the company has 63 fewer stores than in last year's first quarter. The thinner profit margins represent a setback as the company has seen rising net income in recent quarters.

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May 20, 2010

Wal-Mart Profit Up, U.S. Sales Down

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted first-quarter earnings of US$3.32 billion, up from US$3.03 billion in the same period last year. Quarterly net sales stood at $99.1 billion, up six per cent from the same ’09 quarter, while Wal-Mart International remains the fastest-growing segment for the retailer, with net sales up nearly nine per cent to $22.5 billion on a constant currency basis. “Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and China drove the strong sales performance,” the company said. However, comparable store sales in the U.S. were down 1.4 per cent. "Our customers, particularly in the United States, are still concerned about their personal finances and unemployment, as well as higher fuel prices," said Mike Duke, president and CEO. Various analysts suggest that those consumers who flocked to Wal-Mart during the recession may be shifting some of their spending to other chains as the economy recovers. “Did we lose some of the customers that we picked up before?” said Thomas W. Schoewe, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, during a conference call. “Possibly yes.”

Ace Develops International Division

Ace Hardware appointed Bob Moschorak as its new president and general manager of Ace International to oversee worldwide growth initiatives. The announcement coincides with the renewal of two major licensing agreements in Southeast Asia. In his new role, Moschorak will run Ace Global Distribution (AGD), the retail distribution arm for Ace International. Reporting to Moschorak will be Pete Ting, who has been promoted to vice president, international finance; Angel Garcia, who has been promoted to vice president, international sales and merchandising; and Rob Collins, director, global supply chain. Ace Hardware International’s current license in Malaysia, originally signed in 1996 with Giant Ace SDN BHD, will now be extended to 2020. At least two additional stores will open in 2010, joining the 10 stores currently located in the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area. As well, PT Ace Hardware will retain the rights to develop the Ace brand in Indonesia until 2025. As part of its ‘Ace Vision 2010’ program, the company will open five new stores in the country throughout the remainder of the year.

RONA Lone Butte Opens

RONA Lone Butte in B.C. is celebrating the official opening of its newly renovated 8,600-square-foot store. This expanded operation represents an investment of $750,000 in the community. The RONA Lone Butte team worked more than nine months building the facility and getting the store ready for the grand opening. “I’ve been in this business for more than 34 years and with RONA as an affiliate dealer for one year now, and I’m very excited to present Lone Butte customers with this newly expanded store,” owner Steve Brown said.

Liquidation World Narrows Loss

Liquidation World Inc. posted second-quarter revenue of $37.9 million compared to $38.1 million in the same quarter of ’09 – narrowing its loss compared to its last quarterly results. Same store sales rose .03 per cent or $11,000, while gross margin as a percentage of sales increased by almost 16 per cent to $14.2 million in the second quarter of 2010 versus $8.3 in Q2 2009. Liquidation World says it will continue to focus on implementing its strategy to re-brand stores under the ‘Everybody's Outlet Store’ banner. During the third quarter, the company intends on renovating and re-branding 10 existing locations and opening two new locations.

Sico Unveils Summer Mood Lifters

Sico Paints unveiled its top ‘mood-lifting’ colours, as a way for homeowners to revive their walls during the summer. “Warmer weather brings a sense of renewal and reawakening; it’s a time when we tend to clean out our rooms, plant gardens and buy new clothes to make ourselves feel better,” says Stéphanie Pelland, marketing communication manager for Sico and member of the Color Marketing Group. Hues such as deep reds and purples; calming blues and greens; and vivid yellows, oranges, and pinks highlight this season’s palette, she said.

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May 19, 2010

Home Depot Profit Rises 41%

Home Depot Inc.’s first-quarter profit increased 41 per cent to $725 million, from  $514 million in the same period last year. Sales rose 4.3 per cent to $16.86 billion in the quarter, with comparable-store sales up 4.8 per cent and U.S. same-store sales up 3.3 per cent – the first gain since the fourth quarter of 2005. "Our solid start to the year was driven by great performance in seasonal categories and strong growth in customer transactions," said Frank Blake, chairman & CEO. The company cited improvements across the board and said that warmer weather boosted garden product sales – driving some spring sales forward into the first quarter from the second quarter. The strength of the quarter led to Home Depot boosting its 2010 guidance, which now projects a sales increase of 3.5 per cent for the year. It also expects earnings to jump 21 per cent for the full year.

Straus Enters Hall Of Fame

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has honoured Paul Straus, president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited, with its 2010 Canadian Retail Hall of Fame Award. Straus was nominated and selected by a panel of retail executives, as well as representatives from the financial, academic, and consulting communities. The award will be presented at the RCC's Excellence in Retailing Awards dinner on May 31. "Mr. Straus is passionate about the future of Canadian retail," says Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, RCC. "He has shown a huge commitment to dealer and employee education at Home Hardware, and he also actively promotes retail as a career, which benefits the entire industry." Straus joins a notable list of past winners, including Fred Singer, Henry Singer Fashion Group (2009); Stephen Bebis, Golf Town (2008); and Steve Matyas, STAPLES Business Depot (2007).

Ace Down First Quarter

Ace Hardware Corporation reported first-quarter net income of $11.8 million, a drop of $2.6 million or 18 per cent, compared to $14.4 million in the same ’09 quarter. Total revenues for the quarter were $830.7 million, down $20.6 million or 2.4 per cent. And operating expenses increased $1.3 million, or 1.7 per cent, to $78.5 million in the first quarter of 2010 as compared to 2009. “While our overall sales and profit are down slightly from last year, I’m pleased with our first quarter performance,” said Ray Griffith, president and CEO. “Both sales and profit are ahead of plan and, although our operating expenses are slightly above plan, we continue to significantly invest in our business and improve core business processes.”

CertainTeed Raising Brand Awareness

CertainTeed Corporation launched its cross-country ‘Be Certain’ brand awareness initiative, giving Canadian building professionals an in-depth look at its products and manufacturing facilities. Now through September, CertainTeed is opening its doors to local building professionals in Montreal and Oakville, ON; Calgary, AB; Winnipeg, MB; and Vancouver, BC, for a series of events to increase awareness of its product offering in Canada. In addition to plant tours, Lucas Hamilton – an expert on building science and green building practices – will conduct a seminar on reducing the threat of mould and moisture damage in buildings.

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May 18, 2010

Lowe’s Up First Quarter

Lowe’s Cos. first-quarter net income rose 2.7 per cent to $489 million, from $476 million in the comparable year-ago quarter. Revenue stood at $12.39 billion, up from $11.83 billion in the same ’09 period. First-quarter sales at stores open at least 13 months increased for the first time in 15 quarters, growing by 2.4 per cent compared with Lowe’s range of no change to a decline of two per cent. The retailer says consumers spent more on outdoor power equipment and that government rebates drove demand for appliances. Looking ahead however, the company was cautious, forecasting earnings of 57 cents to 59 cents per share for the second quarter, just shy of some analysts' view of 62 cents. "Consumers are showing signs of reengagement in home improvement, including discretionary projects and purchases of bigger ticket products, which had taken a back seat during the worst of the economic downturn," said Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO. "While we are optimistic we will experience solid demand through the balance of the year, we view 2010 as a year of transition for our industry."

Valspar Posts Strong Results

Paints and coatings manufacturer, Valspar Corp., had first-quarter profit of $61.7 million, nearly doubling its $31.1 million reported in the comparable ’09 quarter. Revenue also grew by 20 per cent to $803.6 million. "Sales increased significantly in all regions in both our Paints and Coatings segments, with core growth and new business contributing to the improvement," said William Mansfield, chairman and CEO. "Volume growth in combination with operating discipline and tight control of expenses were the main drivers of our earnings performance.”

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May 17, 2010

OSRAM Launches LED Alternative

OSRAM SYLVANIA introduced its brightest LED replacement for traditional 60W incandescent bulbs, halogen, and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Available for purchase beginning in late August, the new LED bulb provides an “unmatched” 810 lumens and offers up to 80 per cent energy savings over traditional incandescent bulbs, OSRAM says. It features an estimated life of 25,000 hours, twelve times longer than traditional light bulbs, along with colour quality that is competitive with rival incandescent and halogen light sources. The company says its high colour rendering index of 90 makes it ideal for home lighting, including wall sconces, table lamps, and ceiling fixtures.

Leon’s Quarterly Profit Up

Leon's Furniture Ltd posted a 40 per cent increase in first-quarter profit, thanks partly to a stronger Canadian dollar, cost cuts, and growing consumer confidence, it said. Net income for the quarter was $12.0 million, compared with $8.6 million for the same period a year ago. Quarterly sales also rose four per cent to $158.8 million excluding franchise sales of $42.3 million, thanks to general improvement in the economy, the Canadian retailer said.

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May 14, 2010

Canadian Tire Reports Flat Quarter

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited posted first-quarter net earnings of $49.4 million, nearly unchanged compared to the $49.4 million earned in the same period last year. Operating revenue improved about four per cent to $1.8 billion. Same-store sales were up 1.7 per cent compared to the same ’09 quarter, reflecting a slow start to the quarter as a result of soft sales in weather-related categories, the company said. Consolidated retail sales increased 5.7 per cent to $1.89 billion, and sales at its retail outlets were up 2.1 per cent. Sales at its gas bars grew by 19.5 per cent, thanks to higher oil prices, and sales at its Mark's brand clothing division increased 3.8 per cent. "While I'm pleased with the positive first quarter results and momentum heading into Q2, we're still in the very early stages of the kind of growth we expect from the business," said Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO.

IRLY Wins Big At BSIA Awards

The Building Supply Industry Association (BSIA) of BC honoured IRLY Distributors with ‘the most appreciated supplier’ award, at the BSIA Orion Awards ceremony. All of the winners for the inside salesperson category were also awarded to IRLY Distributors team members. The runners-up were Richard Tan and Brad Olsen, and John Schaefer and Sheree Murphy tied for first place. IRLY stores also took home awards, including Lake Cowichan Home Centre – runner-up for store of the year in the hardware retail building supply category, with Black Creek Farm & Feed Supply winning the honour. And the Finishing Store Victoria was runner-up for store of the year in the specialty category. 

Scotts Unveils Natural Weed Killer

Scotts Canada has developed a dandelion killing product which can be used across the country in any centre that has banned pesticides, says Glenn Martin, director of marketing. Scotts EcoSense Weed B Gon is a ready-to-use liquid weed control product that controls broadleaf weeds without harming the grass or the environoment. Derived from iron, it is absorbed by the weeds where it is oxidized by the cells destroying the plant from the inside out. Plus, the iron is a nutrient for the lawn. It can be used at any stage in the life cycle of the weed and works within five to 14 days.

Hiebert Appointed Lumber Trader

IRLY Distributors appointed Daron Hiebert as its Lumber Trader. Hiebert brings 15 years of industry experience to the position.  He was most recently the senior commodity trader with Angus Forest Products.

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May 13, 2010

RONA Posts Strong First Quarter

RONA earned $3 million in its first quarter, compared to a loss of $2.5 million in the same year-ago period. RONA attributed the $5.5 million turnaround to a more robust national housing market, a last push by consumers to take advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit, and growing consumer confidence. Sales also rose 12.5 per cent to $951.4 million, while same store sales rose 10.8 per cent. Sales of plumbing, kitchen cabinets, paint, lighting, and installation services also posted strong results. And gross margin in the first quarter increased to 28.29 per cent, up four basis points from 28.25 per cent in the first quarter of ‘09. “We are very pleased with our first quarter results," said Robert Dutton, president and CEO. "Not only did we achieve double digit sales growth, but we also improved our EBITDA by 38.4 per cent... The numerous productivity and efficiency improvement initiatives that we have implemented over the past two years are enabling us to rapidly and profitably exploit improving market conditions."

Broadleaf Boosts CanWel’s First Quarter

CanWel Holdings Corporation had first-quarter sales of $272 million compared to $136 million for the comparable period in 2009. Sales doubled thanks to the inclusion of the operations of Broadleaf Logistics Company, for the months of February and March, 2010, and an overall increase in the selling prices lumber and panel products, CanWel said. "The first quarter results are a reflection of the strength of the economic recovery and it's impact on CanWel's business, as well as having only two months of Broadleaf's results now included," said Amar S. Doman, chairman and CEO. "We are well underway with the Canadian building season now, and we enjoyed an early start to spring in almost all areas of Canada. I am very pleased to report this was a record for our first quarter results."

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May 12, 2010

Housing Starts Rise Past 200,000

April’s rate of housing starts rose by 1.3 per cent to 201,700, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), up from 199,200 in March. The number of starts on multi-family units nearly offset a drop in single-family homes, the CMHC said. Starts in urban areas rose by 5.1 per cent to 182,500 units; urban multiple starts increased 27.2 per cent to 98,600, and single home construction fell 12.7 per cent to 83,900. The largest increase in urban starts was in B.C. at 16.4 per cent, followed by 6.7 per cent in the Prairies, 4.5 per cent in Ontario, and 1.1 per cent in Quebec.

Gift Show Highlights Announced

This year’s Fall 2010 Toronto Gift Show will include ‘New Product Galleries,’ a ‘Kitchen Spotlight,’ and ‘Showcase Canada’ – a collection of Canadian designed and manufactured products. Taking place Aug. 8 to 12 at the International Centre and the Toronto Congress Centre, the trade show promises more than 17,000 qualified retail buyers and 1,000 exhibitors. For more information, visit www.cgta.org.

Terminals ‘Go Beyond’ Traditional Checkouts

Payment technology provider, Hypercom Corporation, introduced a new line of customer-facing, multilane terminals that can connect to any point-of-sale register system with any communications protocol including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The company says its L5000 line enables multiple in-store use “beyond the traditional checkout line,” including in-aisle product locating, barcode price checking, and braille characters and headphone jack for the visually impaired. Its cordless hand-over device also lets clerks bring the payment device to the customer, enabling the employee to stay with the customer throughout the sales process, without “unsightly” cables, Hypercom says.

Seminar To Cover Retail Trends

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) will hold its Canadian Retail Research Seminar on June 21, at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto. Sessions will include Canadian economic and consumer outlooks, insights from the ICSC Shopping Behavior Survey, trends in spending, and ‘Retailing After the Recession.’ For more information, visit www.icsc.org.

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May 11, 2010

Home Hardware Names Top Store

Reitsma's Home Hardware in Houston, BC was presented with the ‘Walter J. Hachborn Store of the Year Award.’ The store was selected from among 1,070 locations across Canada. "Reitsma's Home Hardware embodies everything the award stands for," said Paul Straus, president and CEO. "The Walter J. Hachborn Award represents a total team effort and shows the value of dedicated people working together to serve their communities." To win the award, a store must demonstrate excellence in staff performance and customer service; interior presentation including clear signage, tidiness, and presentation; exterior presentation including cleanliness; and staff training and participation in dealer network initiatives. "The entire team strives to provide a great customer experience," says Dealer-Owner Henry Reitsma. "The people who work in the store also live in the community and are proud to be able to help customers who are their family, friends, and acquaintances."

True Value Announces Quarterly Results

True Value Company reported revenue of $428.6 million for its first quarter, down 3.2 per cent compared to $442.9 million for the same period a year ago. It posted a quarterly net margin of $8.1 million, representing a decrease of 27.6 per cent versus $11.2 million for the comparable ’09 period. The retailer-owned hardware cooperative says mild weather negatively impacted revenue in January and February, while lower volume and slightly lower product margin rates contributed to the profit decline. Revenue, however, improved “significantly” in March and has continued through to April. "The sales trend has been moving in the right direction since early March," said president and CEO, Lyle Heidemann. "Both retail and wholesale revenue have seen consistent increases.” Adoption of its ‘Destination True Value’ (DTV) format remains on track, Heidemann said, with 26 additional stores implementing the retail layout so far this year.

Hardwood Council Redesigns Site

The Hardwood Council announced its redesigned website. The coalition of hardwood lumber and product associations says the “refreshed” site now features easier navigation and more information for design/build professionals. The website is available at www.HardwoodCouncil.com.

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May 10, 2010

Building Permit Value Climbs

The value of building permits increased 12.2 per cent in March to $6.3 billion, says Statistics Canada, following four months of decline. That value represents a 38.9 per cent increase compared to March ’09. The growth came mainly from multi-family and industrial building permits. In the residential sector, construction intentions increased 13.9 per cent to $4.2 billion, thanks to substantial multi-family dwelling gains, particularly in Ontario and B.C. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued $2.1 billion worth of permits, up 9.1 per cent from February – a result of higher construction intentions in the industrial and institutional components. The total value of construction intentions rose in all provinces, except Quebec. The value of building permits for single-family dwellings remained unchanged at $2.7 billion.

TIM-BR MART Returns As Sponsor

TIM-BR MART will once again be a major event-sponsor of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship this December in Buffalo, NY. Building upon last year’s sponsorship, TIM-BR MART’s ‘World Junior Video Challenge’ will give Canadian minor league hockey teams the chance to be rink-side during the games. Eligible teams can video their team spirit, upload it to timbrtube.ca, and Canadians will vote for their favourite starting in October. Winning teams, along with parents and coaches, will earn roundtrip transportation to the tournament, accommodations, meals, and tickets to the games. As a major sponsor, TIM-BR MART will receive exposure throughout the 31-game tournament on, for example, rink boards at HSBC Arena.

Beaulieu Shuts Down Plant

Beaulieu Canada will cease production at its bath and floor plant in Acton Vale (Montérégie), QC. Effective July 10, the decision will affect its eight management staff, 25 current employees, and 15 unionized employees on the recall list two years or less. Beaulieu noted that this will not affect any of its operations and that it will continue manufacturing at its two other facilities. The decision was made because the customer buying the whole production of the plant decided to repatriate production in its own U.S. plant. Beaulieu is seeking a buyer or a tenant for its bath and floor building.

Henkel’s Quarterly Profit Doubles

Henkel’s first-quarter net income more than doubled to 259 million euros ($333 million) from 117 million euros a year earlier. The German-based adhesives and coatings producer reported sales of 3.51 billion euros, an increase of 7.8 per compared to the same year-ago period. The company also raised its profit forecast for the year. Henkel said that all business sectors contributed to the improvement, particularly its adhesive technologies unit.

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May 7, 2010

NHS, NRHA Shows To Co-locate

The National Hardware Show (NHS) and the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) reached an agreement to co-locate the NRHA Annual Convention with the NHS beginning in 2011, on May 10-12, 2011, in Las Vegas. Show directors say the newly coined ‘National Hardware Show held in conjunction with the NRHA All-Industry Convention’ event will incorporate all of the programming that the NRHA currently offers at its annual meeting. “The NRHA Annual Convention has found a new home,” says Bill Lee, managing director, NRHA. “With this agreement, we are able to more fully and deeply serve the industry in one annual gathering, thus unifying the industry in a way that is very much needed right now.” The 2010 NRHA Annual Convention remains scheduled for July 19 to 20 in Savannah, Georgia.

Coast To Carry BSH Lines

BSH Home Appliances and Coast Wholesale Appliances (formerly Morley's appliances) of Toronto have expanded their relationship. Under the deal, Coast Appliances will carry BSH lines in most of its Western stores. The expansion took effect on May 3rd. “Our relationship with Morely's has been in place for some time. Their acquisition by Coast offered a natural pathway to the west. As a partner, Morley's has shown great support of our brands, and with the power of Coast's western distribution, we look forward to an even stronger partnership," said Dale Elliott, BSH general manager.

KBIS Reports 30% Improvement

The National Kitchen and Bath Association's (NKBA) 47th annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) drew more than 37,000 attendees, representing nearly a 30 per cent increase compared to last year, show organizers say. "Perhaps it's a sign that the economy is picking up, which is good news for all kitchen and bath manufacturers," said Nicolas Grohe, director of marketing and product development for Hansgrohe. The show took place in April at Chicago's McCormick Place.

Bosch Enhances Jobsite Sound

Bosch Power Tools & Accessories says it plans to redefine the jobsite sound system category with its Bosch Power Box 360. The product, first introduced in 2004, was upgraded in 2006 and is now being re-launched to project sound 360-degrees at the job site. It features optimized digital sound processing and the addition of the first integrated sub-woofer in its class.

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May 6, 2010

Remodelling Future Bright

The tough economic period has caused many homeowners to scale down their renovation needs and invest in smaller, more need-based projects, said Bruce Case, president of Case Design/Remodelling, Inc. Case was the keynote speaker at the Pella Windows and Doors’ Pro Expo at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Contractors, however, have adapted well to the changing demand, he said, and the future of remodelling looks bright. He believes homeowners will increasingly need contractors going forward and that DIY trends are shifting down. He pointed out that homes today, on average, have three bathrooms compared to just one in homes built years ago, which bodes well for remodelling. As well, the aging baby-boomer population is creating a stronger need for ‘universal design,’ which refers to developing home environments that can be used by all people, regardless of age or disabilities – a significant opportunity for the remodelling industry going forward, he said. 

RCC Announces Distinguished Retailer

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) honoured Steven Matyas, president of Staples Canada Inc., with the ‘2010 Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year’ award. It recognizes a retail leader who has led his/her company to success and innovation, while demonstrating community commitment. "Mr. Matyas is an incredible individual who continues to promote and support retail in Canada," says Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, RCC. Matyas joins a notable list of past recipients, including Louise Wendling, Costco Wholesale Canada (2009); Mario Pilozzi, Wal-Mart Canada (2007); Annette Verschuren, The Home Depot (2005); and Wayne Sales, Canadian Tire (2004). The RCC will honour Matyas at an upcoming gala dinner on May 31.

Brick Pleased With First Quarter

Furniture retailer, The Brick Group, posted first-quarter consolidated sales and operating revenue of $306.2 million, up 12.8 per cent compared to the first quarter of ’09. Same store sales grew 8.6 per cent and gross margin rates improved to 43.4 per cent, thanks mainly to the success of its promotional programs, product mix, and branded credit programs, the Brick says. "I am pleased with the Brick Group's record results for the first quarter of 2010, which reflect the gradual improvement in economic conditions in Canada and the continued success of our recovery plan," says Bill Gregson, president and CEO.

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May 5, 2010

RONA Starts Next Phase Of Ads

RONA launched the second phase of its ‘Doing it right’ advertising campaign, which pays tribute to those that tackle construction, renovation, and interior decoration projects. The new commercials praise customers’ efforts in reducing their environmental footprint by choosing eco-friendly products. “The spots highlight RONA’s commitment to meeting customers’ expectations and helping them successfully get their projects off the ground in a personalized yet professional way,” says Pierre L’Heureux, vice-president of marketing, image and sponsorships. The new campaign includes three televised spots, which were produced by BOS, RONA’s marketing partner, in collaboration with Carat, RONA’s media planning partner.

CEO Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) awarded Gordon Reid, chairman and CEO of Giant Tiger Stores Limited, with the ‘2010 Retail Lifetime Achievement Award.’ Reid was selected by a panel of retail executives and representatives from the financial, academic, and consulting communities. "Gordon is a man of vision who has forged a company with a family-based culture," says Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, RCC. Founded by Reid in 1961, Giant Tiger now boasts more than $1 billion in annual sales from 193 franchised stores, and donates more than $2 million annually to about 700 associations across Canada. Reid joins a notable list of past winners, including Réjean Dionne, President of ALDO Groupe (2009) and Walter Hachborn, Home Hardware Stores Ltd. (2007). The award will be presented to Reid at RCC's Gala dinner on May 31.

Ace Hires Marketing Director

Ace Hardware Corporation appointed Jeff Gooding, 40, as director of consumer marketing. With nearly 20 years of corporate and agency communications experience, Gooding will oversee creative advertising, media buying, public relations, Internet, digital, and mobile marketing. Gooding most recently served as senior vice president of marketing and group account director for Revolution Marketing.

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May 4, 2010

NHS Set To Kick Off

Pat Farrah, co-founder, The Home Depot, will open the National Hardware Show (NHS) May 4, and recognize the event’s 65th anniversary. From there, the ‘Live from the National Hardware Show Twitter Party,’ begins at 11:00 AM; and at noon, Bridget Brennan, CEO, The Female Factor, will present, ‘Why She Buys.’ This year’s list of attendees promises to be one of the strongest line-up of buyers, representing traditional retail and wholesale outlets and untraditional channels such as grocery, mass, drug, catalog, Internet, and international retailers. The list includes the Home Depot, Walmart, Sears, True Value, Costco, Sam's Club, Ace Hardware, representing more than $237 billion in sales revenue. For more information on the National Hardware show, running May 4 to 6, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com.

Armstrong Posts Loss

Flooring and cabinet manufacturer, Armstrong World Industries, reported a first-quarter net loss of $19.4 million, compared to a net loss of $11.2 million in the same quarter last year. First-quarter net sales were $658.9 million, a decrease of one per cent from $668.3 million in the comparable 2009 period. Its wood flooring net sales were $124.3 million, up two per cent from last year on flat volume and improved product mix. Building Product net sales remained flat at $267.9 million, compared to $266.9 million in the 2009 quarter. Cabinet net sales were $34.1 million, down 11 per cent from the comparable quarter, as a result of less volume, Armstrong said.

Green Reno Market Growing

Green renovations – currently accounting for about seven per cent of the total renovation market – are anticipated to grow to 13 per cent of the market by 2015, says a new report by market research firm, SBI Energy. Its ‘Global Green Building Materials and Construction, 2nd Edition’ study found that much of the sector's growth can be attributed to stimulus funding throughout the world for energy efficiency improvements, while rising energy costs and diminishing fuel resources continue to push energy efficiency measures, both for construction and manufacturing. In the green construction arena, the report also finds that an increasing number of builders are producing more green homes and offices as a way to differentiate themselves and to weather a poor building environment. Green homes and buildings are currently in high demand, command a price premium when they are purchased or sold, have higher occupancy rates, and also command higher rents, SBI says.

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May 3, 2010

Lumber Liquidators Expanding To Canada

Virginia-based hardwood flooring retailer, Lumber Liquidators, said it would move into the Canadian market during its fourth quarter, as part of its overall plan to add 36 to 40 total new stores during 2010. “We are very excited to be extending our footprint beyond the U.S. into Canada. We think this is a natural next step in our expansion strategy and that our value proposition will resonate strongly with Canadian consumers,” said Jeffrey Griffiths, president and CEO. The company reported first-quarter net earnings of $7 million, up 36.8 per cent from $5.1 million in the comparable 2009 period. Sales also rose 27.3 per cent to $151.2 million, up from $123.9 million in the first quarter of '09.

Moen Launches 2010 Lines

Greater digital technology in the bath is among some of Moen Canada’s product introductions for 2010. Its 'ioDIGITAL' system is meant to give consumers the ability to set and maintain water temperature and flow “with electronic precision” and added functionality, along with a new hand shower option. As well, its 'Method' collection for bathrooms combines “clean lines with soft curves,” with single and two-handle faucet styles and matching accessories. And the new 'Arbor' kitchen faucet collection aims at providing a “sophisticated statement” while increasing functionality, and includes pull-down, single-handle, and bar/prep options. The line also features high-arc spout, a “consumer-preferred” multi-function wand, a patented pause button.

Weyerhaeuser Encouraged By First Quarter

Lumber and wood products manufacturer, Weyerhaeuser, reported a first-quarter loss of $20 million, compared with a loss of $264 million in the same year-ago period. The company said the sale of land and license rights helped it narrow its first-quarter loss by 92 per cent. Sales increased to $1.42 billion, from $1.28 billion last year, and total costs and expenses dropped 17 per cent to $1.34 billion, from $1.6 billion last year. Weyerhaeuser's biggest improvement came in its wood products division, which posted a pretax loss of $19 million, versus a loss of $266 million a year ago. "After many difficult quarters, we're encouraged by the improvement in our performance," said Dan Fulton, president and CEO.

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April 30, 2010

RONA Opens Doors In Quebec, Alberta

RONA celebrated the opening of two stores – one in Vermilion, AB and a reopening in Rivière-Rouge, QC. RONA Vermilion owner Denis McCormack and his staff of 16 worked several months on merchandising and getting the 9,000-square-foot store ready for the grand opening. “I’ve been in this business for more than 25 years and with RONA as an affiliate dealer for 18 months now, and I’m very excited to present Vermilion customers with this newly renovated store,” McCormack said. Éric Deslongchamps, owner of RONA F. Daudelin & Fils, along with his 50 employees made major improvements to the 16,000-square-foot store and lumberyard. The store has a history going back 60 years. Renovations required an investment of over $250,000 for a complete overhaul of the building’s exterior and interior. “I’ve been working in the hardware sector for many years, and I’ve always done whatever I could to provide the best shopping experience for our customers,” said Deslongchamps.

Hachborn Confident In Straus

Home Hardware co-founder Walter Hachborn says he’s confident in newly appointed president Paul Straus’ leadership and knowledge going forward. Hachborn announced his retirement at its annual Shareholders meeting on April 16th, but will remain President Emeritus. “Home Hardware has been blessed with a strong management team and we have seen many successes with Paul at the helm. I’ve witnessed Paul as he has provided leadership, insight, and knowledge, leading this company for 21 years, since 1989,” Hachborn says. As well, Home Hardware named Terry Davis executive vice-president and Chief Operating Officer at the meeting. Straus commented on Davis’ new role: “I have had the pleasure of working alongside Terry since he joined the Home team. His recent promotion recognizes the significant role Terry plays in the strategic growth and operation of Home Hardware Stores Limited,” said Straus.

Tembec Breaks Even

Montreal-based forestry company, Tembec, had second-quarter sales of $476 million, up from $417 million in the comparable period of the prior year. It generated nil net earnings in the quarter compared to a net loss of $99 million in the 2009 quarter, and generated positive EBITDA of $32 million in the quarter versus negative EBITDA of $63 million a year earlier. While conditions have improved, the company says it will be several more quarters before it sees a more robust recovery. Recent lumber-price improvements are a result of supply constraints rather than demand, and an improvement in U.S. housing starts is needed to support more robust prices, it says. In the coming quarters, it expects strong pulp prices but believes its newsprint segment will remain under pressure due to declining demand.

Weathered Conditions Carefully, RONA Says

RONA voluntarily slowed down the pace of acquisitions and new store openings during the economic crisis in order to improve the productivity, efficiency, and profitability of its existing assets, says Claude Guévin, executive vice-president and chief financial officer. Market conditions in 2009 were especially difficult because of the recession and its effect on consumer confidence, which was at an historically low level at the beginning of the year, he said at its annual general meeting. These factors put serious downward pressure on its consolidated sales, which dropped by 4.4 per cent compared to 2008, despite numerous initiatives all year long to stimulate the demand for our products and services. However, the efficiency gains softened the impact of reduced sales on its operating income, which stood at $347 million in 2009, compared to $377 million in 2008, a drop of $30 million. However, encouraging signs of recovery began to show in the second half of the year, he said. Its indicators progressively turned green in the fourth quarter, with sales growth of 1.5 per cent and a 0.7 per cent increase in same-store sales. “Everything indicates that the economy is on the road to recovery. Actually, since the beginning of 2010, indicators have remained very positive in our industry, which bodes well for the year ahead,” he said.

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April 29, 2010

RONA Outlook Positive At AGM

RONA president and CEO Robert Dutton told shareholders at its annual meeting that it ended a challenging ’09 armed with a strong balance sheet and programs that will help drive renewed growth. The challenging period did not catch the company unprepared, he said, thanks to its PEP (Productivity, Efficiency, Profitability) program, which helped it weather the economic storm. Among other things, the PEP program helped it improve its gross margin by 123 basis points and reduced logistics and transportation costs by $14 million. Dutton noted that it was able to reduce its capital expenditures by close to $72 million over the past two years, without impeding expansion plans. It added 900,000 square feet of retail space over that same period and ended the year with $250 million cash on hand and access to $650 million in untapped lines of credit. During 2010 and 2011, it will focus on growing market share in Ontario and Western Canada, while reinforcing its position in Quebec. RONA reiterated some key objectives for 2008-2011, such as growing its share of the market from 17 to 20 per cent by 2011 and maintaining a strong investment-grade credit rating.

BiY Centre Celebrates Opening

HGTV’s ‘Real Renos’ host Jim Caruk led the grand opening of the Build it Yourself (BiY) Learning Center in Toronto – a 5,000 square-foot instructional facility aimed at helping homeowners tackle projects, in a hands-on way. The centre, which is first of its kind in Canada, offered a sneak preview of its interactive workshops and accredited instructors – covering more than 35 courses, such as ‘The Helpless Homeowner,’ ‘Interior Wood Finishing,’ and ‘Women In the Workshop.’ It officially opens to the public May 1. “Too often, homeowners decide to tackle a job when they don’t have the necessary time, skills, or tools,” said Caruk. “That’s where the BiY Learning Center comes in. We’re here to give homeowners the knowledge and confidence they need to get home renovation and maintenance projects done properly from the start.” Caruk said he and his team will expand BiY across the country beginning with a facility in Calgary, and hopes to open about five more facilities in five years. Along with its main location, there is a second larger 10,000 square-foot facility in Toronto’s north end, accommodating larger projects such as decking and roofing.

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April 28, 2010

Committing To Growth Key, Straus Says

Two thousand ten is turning out to be a strong year for Home Hardware, said Paul Straus, president and CEO – as its LBM sales improved by 26.2 per cent over last year. On the heals of co-founder Walter Hachborn’s recent retirement announcement, Straus, the newly appointed president, spoke at a CHHMA breakfast meeting about its vision and strategies going forward. With many companies scaling back their ad budgets during the recession, Home Hardware capitalized on the extra network time available and devoted more than $100 million to advertising last year. TV commercials highlighting its exclusive, specially designed products have “created footprints to our stores,” he said. “We want people to come in and be exposed to our services,” which is why it has chosen not to sell products over the Web yet, he explained. Keeping valuable staff on board and retaining their skills is paramount as well. Straus pointed out that the average tenure for Home Hardware staff is 12.4 years and that it handed out about $22 million in bonuses to employees last year, while many other companies scaled back.

Merger Costs Dampen Stanley B&D Results

In its first quarterly report since its merger, Stanley Black & Decker Corp. says it had a first-quarter loss of $108.6 million on charges related to its $4.5 billion union. However, not including the effects of the merger, profit grew more than analysts expected. Sales for its first quarter were $1.3 billion, and it earned $70.1 million – up from the $37.7 million the company earned in first quarter 2009. Sales rose in all three of its market segments: consumer do-it-yourself sales increased 85 per cent to $561 million, security sales were up 11 per cent to $414 million, and industrial sales rose 13.2 per cent to $287 million. The company said it is on pace to save $350 million and that the merger with Black & Decker is going well. For the remaining nine months of 2010, the company expects sales to increase between four to five per cent from 2009 pro-forma merged company levels. “We’re in a good place as we go forward and continue to combine these two companies,” said John F. Lundgren, Stanley’s CEO.

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April 27, 2010

Sherwin-Williams Sales Up 1%

Sherwin-Williams’ first-quarter consolidated net sales increased one per cent to $1.57 billion, compared to the same year-ago period. The paint manufacturer attributed the rise to the favorable impact of foreign currency translation rate changes, which was partially offset by a decline in domestic paint sales volume. Net income for the quarter was $32.6 million, down 13 per cent from $37.3 million a year ago. Net sales in its Paint Stores Group decreased 5.3 per cent to $850.9 million in the quarter due primarily to a decline in paint sales volume and corresponding weakness in non-paint sales. Net sales for its Consumer Group increased 1.4 per cent to $292.1 million in the quarter, thanks mainly to new product introductions, but partially offset by soft DIY demand for some of its retail customers.

Craftsman To Feature MLB Tools

Sears’ Craftsman brand has formed a partnership with Major League Baseball for a line of licensed tools that will feature team logos. The four-year deal will allow Craftsman to display 30 MLB club emblems on products including hand tools, power tools, tool storage, and lawn and garden tools and equipment – in time for fathers day. "We know that Craftsman consumers are very passionate about our brand in much the same way MLB fans are about 'their' teams, and the agreement with MLB is another way that Craftsman is bringing innovative products to our customers and their devout counterparts who are Major League Baseball fans,” said Kris Malkoski, vice-president and general manager of the Craftsman brand for Sears Holdings.

Ply Gem Responds To Demand

Ply Gem Canada has introduced a new renovation brick mould for its next generation, energy-efficient hybrid Fusion window – in response to customer demand, it says. “The inspiration for this brick mould results from customer requests for a high-end renovation option,” says Andrew Thompson, marketing manager. The brick mould will provide homeowners with a “maintenance-free” interior and exterior that is available in dark colours, not typically found on traditional PVC windows, Ply Gem says.

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April 26, 2010

Building Material Sales Drop

Retail sales rose for a third straight month in February, up 0.5 per cent to $36 billion, says Statistics Canada. However, retail sales were weakened by declines at building material and garden equipment supplies dealers (-7.6 per cent) and furniture and home furnishing stores (-3.5 per cent). But these declines did not offset the large gains reported in January, which was the final month of the Home Renovation Tax Credit, StatsCan says. Sales increased in seven of 11 retail sub-sectors in February. The greatest contributor to the overall increase was a 2.9 per cent gain at motor vehicle and parts dealers, where sales rose for the first time since October. Sales also rose at automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores (+0.8 per cent); clothing and clothing accessories stores (+4.3 per cent); food and beverage stores (+0.5 per cent); and gasoline stations (+0.5 per cent). 

Sears Holdings Ups Canadian Interest

Sears Holdings Corp. will buy about 18.7 million additional common shares of Sears Canada Inc., or about 17 per cent of its outstanding stock. The shares were purchased at a price of $30 per share from Pershing Square, L.P., Pershing Square II, L.P., and Pershing Square International, Ltd. Upon completion, scheduled to close on April 27, 2010, Sears Holdings will own approximately 97.3 million Sears Canada shares, or 90.4 per cent of the company. Sears Holdings also announced it first-quarter sales at stores open at least a year are up 1.7 per cent, with Kmart increasing 3.2 per cent and Sears domestic stores climbing 0.3 per cent. Its Sears stores reported better sales of home appliances, which was somewhat offset by weaker tools and home electronics sales. Kmart stores experienced improved clothing, home, and toys sales, it said.

Canadian Tire Helps Vets Mark Liberation

Canadian Tire donated $17,000 to Friends of Veterans Canada (FOV) to help 20 veterans travel to Holland and participate in the 65th anniversary celebrations of Holland's liberation. "The Canadian Tire brand has deep roots in Canada's history and heritage," said Peter Kilty, senior vice-president, Dealer Relations. "Our donation is a small token of our appreciation and tribute to our Canadian war veterans." Friends of Veterans Canada is a charitable organization dedicated to documenting the experiences and inspiring stories of Canadian war veterans through video interviews.

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April 23, 2010

RONA Stops Selling Inefficient Toilets

RONA Inc. will stop selling conventional toilets with tanks over six litres in volume as they “no longer represent an ecological option,” it says. The initiative is part of RONA’s plan to provide responsible consumption options for its customers, including saving drinking water. “According to Environment Canada, Canadians consume over 300 litres of potable water per day, nearly a third of which goes into toilets. By using toilets that hold less water, our consumers will help safeguard millions of litres of this precious natural resource,” says executive vice-president of merchandising, Normand Dumont. As of today, all RONA stores will offer models from three categories: toilets with flush volumes of six litres, double flush toilets (four/six litres), and toilets with flush volumes of 4.8 litres.

Leading Index Up Ninth Straight Time

The composite leading index improved one per cent in March, matching its average monthly increase since July 2009, says Statistics Canada. Yet the reasons behind growth continued to shift away from housing to other sectors of consumer demand and manufacturing. The housing index rose by 0.2 per cent, the smallest increase since its current expansion began in the spring of 2009. A retreat of existing home sales from their record posted late in 2009 is behind the recent slowdown. In other sectors, spending was mixed. Furniture and appliance sales rose 1.3 per cent, its largest advance since June 2006, while spending on other durable goods declined 0.5 per cent after eight months of strong growth. Manufacturing continued its recovery, thanks mostly to higher sales as new orders rose 3.2 per cent, its third increase in four months. Export industries led the rebound as demand for capital goods continued to languish.

Consumer Confidence Turning Corner

Canadians may have turned the corner when it comes to their confidence in the economy, says the latest TNS Canadian Facts' ‘Consumer Confidence Index.’ The index – which is part of a global study conducted by the research firm in 18 countries – rose past the 100-point marker for the first time since April 2008. It ended the month at 100.5, up 1.1 points from March, 2.9 points from February's 97.6, and almost four points from January's 96.7. “But it won't be full-throttle all the way -- their hesitancy remains when it comes to pulling the trigger on those major purchases," said Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS. The ‘Buy Index,’ which gauges the degree to which people think the current period is a good time to make major purchases, continues its recent trend of bouncing around. After rising in February, it fell one point in March and almost one point in April. It now stands at 100.9.

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April 22, 2010

Hachborn Announces Retirement

Home Hardware co-founder Walter Hachborn announced he would retire, at the group’s annual shareholders’ meeting. Hachborn will stay on as President Emeritus while Paul Straus, Home Hardware’s vice-president and CEO, is appointed to president & CEO. Hachborn began working in the hardware industry in 1938 and created Home Hardware in 1964 with his two partners, Henry Sittler and Arthur Zilliax. He has been its president ever since. As well, Terry Davis, vice-president of Administration and Strategic Planning, has been named executive vice-president and COO.

Association Honours Ply Gem

Window and door manufacturer, Ply Gem Canada, has won the ‘Best of the Year – Large Supplier’ award through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Central Alberta (CHBA-CA) 2010 Awards of Excellence in Housing. This is Ply Gem Canada’s fourth time being honored – winning in 2000, 2003, and 2008. The award is voted on by the membership of the CHBA-CA, which is comprised of builders, developers, and retailers. “Winning this prestigious award is a testament to Ply Gem’s outstanding service, people and commitment to the Central Alberta housing industry,” said Gary Elliott, vice-president, sales, Ply Gem Canada.

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April 21, 2010

Home Improvement High Priority

While 53 per cent of homeowners believe a seller's market is two or more years away, investing in their current home now remains a priority, says a survey by American Express. The survey found that 62 per cent of homeowners plan to embark on home improvement projects in 2010 and spend an average of $6,200 on enhancements. Sixty-eight per cent will pay for improvements with cash, check, or savings, followed by using a charge card or credit card with the intent of paying the balance off in full (28 per cent), and using a tax refund (10 per cent), indicating that consumers are largely financing home improvements projects with money they have versus various forms of loans. Of the home improvement plans being tackled by homeowners, the majority (53 per cent) involve indoor remodelling, with cosmetic work (36 per cent), redoing a room (25 per cent), and installing new flooring (14 per cent) topping the list.

Snap-On Quarter Improves

Snap-On Inc.’s first-quarter net income improved to $36.8 million, compared to the $34.8 million earned in the same period a year ago. The tool manufacturer’s revenue rose nine per cent to $621.6 million, and its commercial and industrial group segment sales rose to $297.5 million, thanks to growth in emerging markets, higher volumes of equipment, and increased sales to industrial customers. "The quarter provides evidence that our overall markets have stabilized and are showing some signs of upward potential, but ... they're not yet clearly rebounding," chief executive, Nick Pinchuk, says. The U.S.-based toolmaker continues to expect 2010 capital expenditures to be in a range of $55 million to $60 million, of which $5.7 million was incurred in the first quarter.

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April 20, 2010

Home Spring Market Driving Growth

Home Hardware’s theme for its 2010 Spring Market has been ‘Building Tomorrow Today,’ with a focus on helping dealers “drive future growth.” Running from April 18 to 20 in St. Jacobs, ON, the 94th annual market has gathered more than 10,000 dealers and vendors from across Canada, allowing them to share retailing best practices and to sample the latest product innovations. “While many companies dialed back their marketing programs, we’ve been busy working with strategic opportunities that position Home for future growth,” says Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO. One of the highlights of the market is its model store which features the latest in store design, signage, display, and merchandising techniques. Other highlights have included special guest Kevin O’Leary of Dragon’s Den promoting Dig-It Gloves, which he endorses; a keynote address by Ed Begley Jr.; and kitchen expert Anna Olson hosting seminars for dealers.

Lancaster To Host NHS Buying Event

Lancaster, a national paint and accessories distributor, will once again participate in the ‘Spring Buying Event,’ a joint effort with the National Hardware Show (NHS) to support dealers and participating exhibitors at the 2010 event (May 4 to 6). Lancaster, at booth #3727,  will unveil new products and Spring Promotional Programs. "It’s a win-win – benefiting dealers attending the show to purchase product, as well as vendors of Lancaster exhibiting to sell cross promotional items," says Ed Several, group vice-president and show manager, NHS.

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April 19, 2010

Home Hardware Welcomes 2010 Dealers

Twelve new stores have joined the Home Hardware network so far in the early part of 2010. Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO, formally welcomed the new dealers to their first Home Hardware Spring Market (April 18 to 20), where more than 1,050 stores will be represented. “We had 47 new stores join Home last year and we’re very excited that these twelve new stores have joined the Home family so far this year. The Market is where they will see firsthand how Home Dealers draw strength from each other.” The new stores of 2010 include: Allen's Home Building Centre, Paisley, ON; Herlehy Home Building Centre, Westport, ON; Home Furniture Kingston, Kingston, ON; Maple Leaf HBC, Canning, NS; Northway Home Hardware, Inverary, ON; Pellerin Home Building Centre, Grande-Digue, NB; Quincaillerie Hogg, Nun's Island, QC; Quincaillerie Hogg, Westmount, QC; Shellbrook Home Hardware, Shellbrook, SK.

Code To Restore Debit, Credit Fairness

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the final version of the code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry, in response to merchant concerns of business practices of credit and debit card networks, issuers, and acquirers. “Businesses have voiced real concerns about the lack of choice they have had in accepting debit and credit card payments, and about the costs involved… The Code of Conduct encourages choice and competition. It gives merchants the freedom to choose which card networks they use, helps them control their costs, and allows them to pass on savings to their customers,” Flaherty says. Under the code, merchants will be given clear information regarding fees and rates, advance notice of any new fees and fee increases, the ability to cancel contracts without penalty if fees rise or new fees are introduced, and given new tools to promote competition. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business supports the code and says it would help increase transparency and restore fairness. Although the code is voluntary, Flaherty says the government took steps in the 2010 federal budget to ensure it has the authority to regulate the industry if necessary. The credit and debit card industry will have until May 17th to review and adopt the code of.

Owens Corning Seeking New Ideas

Owens Corning launched a global competition to find new applications for composite materials, including up to US$250,000 in awards available to winners. Announced at the JEC Composites Show in Paris, the ‘Composite App Challenge’ is focused on resolving “some of society's pressing issues” in four categories: Infrastructure Durability, Fuel Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Protection from Harm. "The world has never been more in need of the corrosion-resistant, energy-efficient, protective properties composites deliver,” says Ashish Diwanji, vice-president of innovation. “With this competition we are looking for the next big application to help change the world in the way only composites materials can, and help drive the growth of the industry." Participants must submit applications or ideas by July 15, 2010 through www.occompositeappchallenge.com. Winners will be announced in Feb. 2011 at the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) trade show in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

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April 16, 2010

PARA Unveils Designer Palette

PARA Paints officially launched its new colour direction through a partnership with designer and TV personality, Sarah Richardson, at a reception in Toronto. "This is an exciting event in our company's long history that we've teamed with such a regarded design professional as Sarah Richardson to create her designer palette," says Dennis Duda, general manager, PARA Paints. Known for her HGTV program ‘Sarah’s House,’ Richardson individually selected 75 colour chips to be showcased, named the ‘Sarah Richardson Designer Palette.’ "For years I have wanted to create a colour collection," Richardson says."Partnering with Para Paints has allowed me to share my sense of colour and my passion for paint." Also on-hand at the unveiling were Lowe’s Canada president, Alan Huggins, and Lowe’s vice-president of merchandising, Bob Sherwood, to kick-off the distribution of PARA Paints in all Lowe's Canada locations, announced last month.

  RONA Opens Expanded Quebec Store

RONA inc. opened its newly-expanded 125,000-square-foot big-box store in Saint-Eustache, QC. The franchise store, which has been providing home improvement supplies to the community since 1999, belongs to Groupe Lamoureux. The group invested $6 million in an expansion that added an extra 50,000 square feet. “Saint-Eustache has expanded considerably in the last 10 years, and the region just keeps on growing,” says Groupe Lamoureux member and co-owner, Gilles Lamoureux. “We’re very proud to be able to offer local contractors and consumers a huge new store with all the products usually available at a RONA L’entrepôt.” The store also features a 2,700-square-foot greenhouse, a 1,000-square-foot cut shop, a 24,750-square-foot indoor lumberyard, and a 10,900-square-foot garden centre. 

Wal-Mart UK Chain To Grow

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced plans to expand its Asda chain in the UK over the next five years. Plans include opening 100 smaller-format Asda supermarkets and expanding its current 24 Asda Living stores to about 150. It also hopes to expand Asda's clothing division, George, online at George.com. Asda became a subsidiary of Wal-Mart in 1999, and is the second largest chain in the UK after Tesco.

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April 15, 2010

Ace Targets Hispanic Market

Ace Hardware Corporation rolled out its first-ever national Hispanic advertising campaign. With the U.S. Hispanic population approaching 50 million and buying power just shy of $1 trillion, Ace says it has made “great strides” into the Hispanic market in the past two years. The initiative, created by communications agency REVOLUCION, will feature three 30-second Spanish-language TV spots airing nationwide on various Spanish networks and two Spanish language radio spots.

Masco Names Design Officer

Masco Corporation named Charles L. Jones its chief design officer, effective May 3. In his new role, Jones will be responsible for the global leadership of design strategies across Masco's business units. Prior to joining Masco, Jones was vice-president of Global Consumer Design and User Experience at Whirlpool Corporation.

NHS Outlook Positive

The National Hardware Show, in its 65th year, reports that attendance overall is up more than one per cent over last year – “quite a feat in a challenging economy.” And that it is sold out of exhibit space to manufacturers from the home improvement, lawn & garden/outdoor living, and other industries. As well, it will feature a strong line-up of buyers representing traditional retail and wholesale outlets, along with untraditional channels like grocery, mass, drug, catalog, Internet, and international retailers. Among the retailers, the list includes Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sears, True Value, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Ace Hardware, representing more than $210 billion in sales revenue. The show takes place May 4 to 6, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com.

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April 14, 2010

Fastenal’s Quarterly Profits Rise

Fastenal’s first-quarter profits increased 15 per cent thanks, in part, to resurging sales of nuts, bolts, and other fasteners to manufacturers, the company says. Fastenal had first-quarter net earnings of $56 million, up from $48.7 million earned in the same year-ago quarter. Sales also edged up six per cent to $520.7 million, helped by a 15.7 per cent increase in sales to manufacturing customers during the quarter. In the past, manufacturers have made up about half of Fastenal's sales, but that has been weak recently. Overall manufacturing sales dropped 18.8 per cent in 2009, driven by a significant contraction in demand from industrial producers. "The improvement in the first three months of 2010 continues the trend we saw in the latter half of 2009," the company says.

Bed Bath & Beyond Reports Solid Quarter

Bed Bath & Beyond had fourth-quarter net sales of $2.24 billion, up 16.7 per cent compared to net sales of $1.92 billion in the same period last year. The specialty housewares retailer also reported quarterly net income of $226 million, an increase of 56 per cent versus $141.4 million in the same year-ago quarter. Fourth-quarter comparable-store sales increased by 11.5 per cent, compared to a decline of 4.3 per cent it experience in last year’s quarter. "While the economy appears to be showing some signs of improvement, we believe the consumer continues to face economic challenges and the pressures of the macroeconomic climate remain," says co-chairman, Warren Eisenberg.

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April 13, 2010

Home Hardware, Fashion Icon Team up

Home Hardware Stores Limited, through its Beauti-Tone Paint Division, has formed a partnership with Canadian fashion designer Simon Chang, to create a line of contemporary colours to suit “any” taste. “Simon Chang makes women feel wonderful in the most gorgeous fabrics, designs, and colours,” says Bev Bell, creative director, Beauti-Tone Paint and Home Products Division. “Now, we are honoured to combine our expertise so that Simon Chang can bring his stylish influence to our homes with this selection of wonderfully personal and energizing colours, all in tune with the latest fashion.” Simon Chang draws fashion inspiration from travels around the world and, through the partnership, says he hopes to help Canadians feel the same passion about their home as they do about their fashion.

Atis Acquires Window Producer

Quebec-based window and door manufacturer, Atis Group, has acquired Vinylbilt Windows Systems Inc. of Vaughan, Ontario. Atis has now completed 13 acquisitions since 2004, and says this move will strengthen its operations and presence in Ontario. The company is expected to give Atis access to a base of 250 dealers. Vinylbilt produces vinyl replacement windows in Ontario for residential use, laminated wood grains, as well as proprietary technology such as its Simply Clean Technology.

TIM-BR MART Adds Six

TIM-BR MART has added six locations for new and existing dealers in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. The dealers set to become TIM-BR MART operations include Hector Building Supplies, in Stellarton and Pictou, NS; Northeast Builders Limited in Durrell, NL; Burton’s Hardware and Building Supplies Ltd. in Robert’s Arm, NL (also a northern Newfoundland locale); Springmount TIM-BR MART in Owen Sound, ON; and existing dealer, McDiarmid Lumber, which has acquired a new northwestern Ontario location in Sioux Lookout.

Soderquist To Deliver NHS Keynote

Donald G. Soderquist, former senior vice chairman of Walmart Stores, Inc., will deliver a keynote address at the 2010 National Hardware Show, May 4 to 6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Soderquist, once a driving force behind Walmart’s rise, will give presentaions entitled, ‘Ethical Leadership,’ ‘Imagine the Possible,’ and ‘The Impact of Culture on Success,’ on May 5 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Retail Hardware Association Stage and Industry Summit in the Central Hall Lobby. For more information, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com.

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April 12, 2010

BC RONA Celebrates Opening

RONA Port Coquitlam in British Columbia officially opened its doors with a special ceremony and local dignitaries on-hand. Co-owners Al Tsuchiya, Gary Kandborg, and their three employees worked more than eight weeks on merchandising and getting the 2,500-square-foot store ready for the grand opening. “I’ve been with RONA since 1981 and we’ve always done our best to provide customers with great service,” Tsuchiya said. Tsuchiya and Kandborg bought the former hardware store and renovated it by improving the floor layout, product selection, lighting, and displays. “Locally-owned stores like this one are the reason RONA came into existence in the first place,” said John Penner, RONA senior development director for Western Canada.

Major Chinese Drywall Ruling

A federal judge in New Orleans ordered a Chinese manufacturer to pay seven Virginia homeowners a total of $2.6 million to repair damages caused by toxic Chinese-made drywall, used by many builders in recent years as a cheaper alternative. As the first major court order in the case, it is expected to impact pending lawsuits by thousands of other homeowners in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Southeast Texas, Georgia, and the Carolina's. The judge noted that the drywall had a “significantly higher concentration of strontium and significantly more detectable levels of elemental sulfur” than drywall manufactured in the U.S. Along with manufacturers, lawsuits have been issued against a number of firms, developers, homebuilders, and suppliers associated with the drywall. 

Jeld-Wen Names New Chairman

Window and door manufacturer Jeld-Wen has named Robert Turner its new chairman of the board. Turner succeeds Richard Wendt, who will remain active on the board. Turner started his career with Jeld-Wen in 1971 and would later become executive vice-president and chief operating officer. In 1994, he was elected to the company’s board and in 2007 he became vice chair.

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April 9, 2010

February Building Permits Dip

The value of building permits dropped 0.5 per cent to $5.7 billion in February but was 56.7 per cent higher than in February 2009, when it was at its lowest level during the economic slowdown, says Statistics Canada. Increases in permits for commercial buildings and single-family dwellings in February failed to offset a significant decline in multiple-dwelling construction intentions. Residential construction intentions fell 7.5 per cent to $3.7 billion, thanks largely to the 52.5 per cent drop in the value of multiple dwellings in Ontario. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued permits worth $2 billion, a 16 per cent advance following three consecutive months of declines. Ppermits for commercial buildings posted the largest gain in February. Provincially, the value of building permits was up in six provinces, with Quebec and Alberta leading the way, while Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Manitoba posted declines.

Canadian Tire Tailoring Customer Experience

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited will work with dunnhumby, a provider of customer centric analytics, to help it tailor its marketing, merchandising, and customer service approach to the wants and needs of its customers. Through dunnhumby’s customer centric retailing (CCR) methodology, which analyses shopping data, Canadian Tire says it will use one million daily customer transactions from across its operations to provide insights that will improve the overall customer experience while improving profitability. "Understanding our customer better means we can create a more consistent experience and offer products, services, and promotions that meet the specific and every day needs of our customers…" says Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO, Canadian Tire.

Sweda Appoints President

Mario Émard was appointed president of Sweda Canada Inc., a POS solution provider for retail markets. Émard began his career with Sweda in 1989 as a programmer analyst and later became vice-president of sales for the company. "We are delighted to appoint Mario as our new president. He has an unparalleled depth of experience in the technical, support, and sales sides of our business," said Norman Tsui, Chair and CEO.

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April 8, 2010

Canadian Tire Focused On Core Business

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited’s three-to-five year growth plan will focus on its core retail business, the retailer says, and is expected to generate top line growth of between three and five per cent per year. As part of its newly announced strategy, initiatives will include store concept renewal and improved store performance and customer experience. The company says it will not need to expand its store network significantly to drive growth but will maximize the productivity of its existing retail footprint. The Smart store program is the primary focus for concept renewal and is “delivering solid results.” And the Canadian Tire Retail (CTR) Small Market store, which includes a Canadian Tire gas bar and Mark's wherever possible, will allow it to enter “incremental” markets or replace existing traditional stores. Enhancing the customer experience has already begun, it says, through customer centric retailing (CCR) and the development of a new loyalty program.

Fewer Homeowners Taking Green Action

Fewer Canadians are taking actions to reduce their household impact on the environment, says The Home Depot's second annual Canadian Green Home Index, developed by Environics Research. Although homeowners still feel confident they have the ability to make their homes greener (up two points this year), the index assigned Canadians a 56.6 out of 100 rating when it comes to actions taken at home, down 3.4 points since its inaugural release last year. The recession is behind much of the results, as 26 per cent cited economic reasons as the cause for the drop. Not only have fewer reported making significant green household purchases such as buying energy efficient appliances (32 per cent versus 36 per cent in 2009), homeowners also reduced smaller green purchases such as buying energy efficient light bulbs (18 per cent versus 38 per cent in 2009). The index also revealed a downward trend in simple green measures, including turning down the heat or air conditioner (seven per cent versus 12 per cent in 2009) and using reusable shopping bags (two per cent versus seven per cent in 2009).

Canadian Tire To Build 23 Service Centres

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has reached an agreement to build and operate gas bars and convenience stores at 23 service centres along Highways 400 and 401 in Ontario. Under the agreement with the Province of Ontario, the centres will be redeveloped and operated by Host Kilmer Service Centres; in turn, Host Kilmer has chosen Canadian Tire as the petroleum and associated convenience store partner for all 23 locations. The new service centres will provide travellers with facilities for fuelling, shopping, resting, and quick service dining. "Automotive is a key differentiator for Canadian Tire and a competitive advantage," said Michael Medline, president of Canadian Tire Automotive. "These highways are the busiest in Ontario. We estimate the sites will generate six million incremental transactions a year and will help us develop new and longstanding relationships with customers."

  CEO Confidence Down

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, which increased in the fourth quarter of 2009, has decreased slightly in the first quarter of 2010. The Measure declined to 62, down from 64 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). CEOs’ assessment of the current economy is slightly less favourable with 71 per cent saying conditions have improved compared to six months ago, down from 75 per cent last quarter. However, in assessing their own industries 59 per cent claim conditions are now better, compared with 54 per cent last quarter. Looking ahead six months, 52 per cent expect economic conditions to improve in the next six months, down from 58 per cent last quarter. Long-term expectations for their own industries are also less optimistic, with 42 per cent of CEOs anticipating an improvement in the months ahead, down from 45 per cent last quarter. Hiring plans also improved from last year, but less than a third expect employment levels to increase this year.

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April 7, 2010

Cooper, Danaher Combine Tool Businesses

Cooper Industries plc and Danaher Corporation have formed a joint venture combining Cooper's Tools business with Danaher’s Tools and Components segment. As part of the agreement, Dublin, Ireland-based Cooper and Washington, D.C.-based Danaher will each own a 50 per cent share of the new company and both will have equal representation on the Board of Directors. The transaction is expected to close after securing the necessary regulatory approvals. The companies say Cooper's portfolio of power tools products, wireless technologies, and hand tools brands will complement Danaher's mechanic's hand tools business to create a comprehensive offering across many tools categories with little product line overlap. "Size and scale are important in this industry and this combination will create a focused, global tools business with revenues in excess of $1.2 billion…" said Cooper Industries Chairman and CEO, Kirk S. Hachigian.

Morrissey Returns To TIM-BR MARTS

John Morrissey has returned to TIM-BR MARTS as vice-president, Building Materials. In his new role, he will be responsible for developing and negotiating building material programs and buys on a national scale. Most recently, Morrissey worked for Lighthouse Lumber, a division of AFA Forest Products. Before that, he was a part of the TIM-BR MARTS team, now rejoins the dealer-owned group, and will work out its Dartmouth, NS office.

Leaders Invited To Briefings

The Executive Committee (TEC) announced the dates for its CEO Leadership Briefings, ‘Seizing Opportunity In Uncertain Times.’ Business owners, presidents, and executives are invited to hear presentations, such as ‘Attract and Keep Big Game Hunters and Closers,’ ‘Discovering the Leader’s Code,’ and ‘Exiting Your Business.’ The seminars will take place at the Brampton Golf Club in Ontario, April to June. For more information, visit www.tec-canada.com.

Bosch Unveils Drivers

Bosch Power Tools & Accessories recently unveiled its 12V Max lithium-ion PS21 Pocket Driver, which it says is the most compact tool of its class and delivers “more than two times more torque than the competition.” Bosch also launched its Impact Tough family of accessories, a full line of driver bits, nutsetters, sockets, power bits, and sheet-metal hole saws engineered for use with cordless impact fastening tools.

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April 6, 2010

Ace To Launch Ad Campaign

Ace Hardware will launch a new marketing campaign with the theme, “I Will,” highlighting each of Ace’s 4,500 locally owned stores. The cooperative says the campaign will focus on Ace “as the go-to place” for consumers in need of quick service and expertise. The approach comes from studies which reveal most people don’t want their time consumed with major home improvements and big renovations, so customers can be assured Ace can help them take care of home maintenance and “get on with their life,” it says. With creative development from advertising agency GSD&M Idea City, the campaign will include online, social media, TV, and radio, and are supported by in-store, direct mail and other print creative pieces.

Woodstream Completes Acquisition

Woodstream Corporation has completed its acquisition of Zareba Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic perimeter fence and security systems for animal and access control. The shareholders of Zareba recently approved the proposed acquisition by the manufacturer. As part of the acquisition, Zareba shareholders will receive $9 in cash for each outstanding share of Zareba common stock, representing a premium of approximately 100 per cent over the closing price of Zareba stock on January 11, 2010.

Pella Pro Expo Announced

Pella Windows and Doors announced its Toronto Pro Expo will take place May 4 at the Rogers Centre. The expo will feature Pella product displays, local vendor displays, food, beverages, entertainment, and a keynote address by Bruce Case, president of Case Design/Remodelling, Inc. on the ‘Future of Remodelling.’ For more information visit http://theproexpo.com/toronto.

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April 5, 2010

Improved RONAdvantages Launched

RONA launched a new version of RONAdvantages, featuring a new private label credit card allowing customers to take advantage of more benefits. Through it, customers will be rewarded with gift cards for up to five per cent of their net annual purchase volume before taxes, more AIR MILES reward miles, and access to a wider variety of payment options at “competitive rates,” RONA says. Days after the government unveiled its home renovation tax credit plan last year, RONA launched its RONAdvantage program, offering up to $1000 in RONA gift cards to consumers purchasing materials or installation services at RONA to complete projects eligible for the tax credit. “Our complementary tax credit program, which ended in January, was very popular with consumers doing renovation projects,” said executive vice president of marketing and customer innovations, Claude Bernier. “Inspired by that success, we wanted to develop a permanent program to recognize and reward consumers who put their trust in RONA for their renovation projects.”

IKEA To Build Its Largest Store

IKEA Canada says it plans on building its largest store in Canada in Ottawa. The new store will be relocated and rebuilt in the existing Pinecrest Mall and is scheduled to open by the fall of 2011. Construction of the 398,000 square-foot store will begin in May and will take up to 18 months to relocate and build. IKEA will complete the process in phases as it involves relocating other tenants to allow the new store to move and be built on the East side of Pinecrest Mall. "Being a single store market, we have recognized the need to grow our business in Ottawa to accommodate our customers," says Kerri Molinaro, president of IKEA Canada. "The new store will be a completely different shopping experience to our customers in Ottawa that will offer more inspirational room settings, our full range of IKEA products, a large scale restaurant and more in-store services."

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April 1, 2010

Fed Cancels Eco-Energy Retrofit Program

The federal government has suspended the Eco-Energy Retrofit Homes Program and says it would no longer accept applications to book pre-retrofit evaluations as of midnight on March 31, 2010. The program provided homeowners with incentives to have their homes evaluated for energy efficiency and perform upgrades to improve their rating. The government had previously announced the program would be available to March 2011. Cancelling it now will make energy efficient upgrades less accessible and probably put several hundred energy auditors out of work, says the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA). "We're disappointed by this decision," said Steve Koch, executive director of NAIMA Canada. “It was one of the government's most impactful programs to deal with climate change and energy efficiency.” Given that the Home Renovation Tax Credit was recently cancelled as well, cancelling the Eco-Energy program represents more bad news, Koch says, as the economy is just beginning to recover from a major recession.

CanWel Reports Debenture Offering

CanWel Holdings Corporation says it reached an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters, led by National Bank Financial Inc. and including CIBC World Markets Inc., to issue $45,000,000 of convertible unsecured subordinated debentures. CanWel says it will use the net proceeds from the offering for debt repayment and for general corporate purposes. It will issue the debentures on a "bought-deal" basis, subject to regulatory approval, at a price of $1,000 per $1,000 principal amount. Closing of the offering is expected to occur on or about April 22, 2010.

Homeowners Value Eco-friendly Features

Seventy-two per cent of Canadians are willing to pay more for a house or condo that includes environmentally friendly features, according to the TD Canada Trust Green Home Poll. Of those willing to pay more, 77 per cent say savings on energy bills remains a key factor and 59 per cent are likely to consider an environmental assessment prior to home renovations. Among the list of most popular green home improvements made or are planning to be made in the next 12 months, the survey found that replacing existing fixtures, such as replacing regular bulbs with CFLs (53 per cent) and replacing windows (38 per cent) top the list. Regarding most popular green home maintenance, Canadians say they choose to avoid pesticide use (57 per cent), dispose of chemical products at the appropriate disposal centre (57 per cent), and use green household cleaners (46 per cent). Other popular improvements include applying weather-stripping and caulking to stop drafts (34 per cent), replacing kitchen appliances with more energy-efficient models (30 per cent), and changing lighting fixtures to accommodate low wattage lighting (30 per cent).

Plumbing Demand To Hit $66 Billion

Global demand for plumbing fixtures and fittings is expected to rise 3.5 per cent per annum through 2013 to $66 billion, says a new study (‘World Plumbing’) by research firm The Freedonia Group, Inc. While decelerating from the 2003-2008 pace, advances will still be healthy as worldwide construction spending and activity rebounds. The fixtures segment is expected to grow at a faster pace than fittings through 2013, thanks to rising per capita incomes in industrializing countries, especially among the urban population, spurring demand for more sophisticated fixtures. In developed countries, increasing demand for low-consumption fixtures, such as electronic faucets and recreational bathing fixtures, will contribute to gains. The Asia/Pacific region will see the most rapid gains through 2013, as building construction increases and initiatives to expand water and sanitation further aid demand. China alone will account for over half of all new worldwide plumbing demand generated between 2008 and 2013.

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