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

News

September 30, 2010

Pessimism Growing Among Canadians

Canada’s continuing economic slide is affecting faith in the recovery, says the Conference Board of Canada’s consumer confidence index. It fell for the fourth straight month in September, falling by 1.2 points to 78.1 – 18.5 points below January. Since the spring, the recovery has lost steam with growth rates near two per cent annualized, compared with 5.8 per cent in the first three months of 2010, and 4.9 per cent at the end of 2009. Canadians report their current financial position has worsened, expect employment to decline over the next six months, and state they are less likely to make a major purchase, the Conference Board says. Overall, confidence dropped in all regions except the Atlantic, where the index grew by 7.5 points to 88.2. B.C. recorded the biggest decline, 7.7 points. Quebec was virtually unchanged and Ontario dropped to 67.3, the weakest confidence rating. Despite falling 2.9 points, the Prairies remain the most upbeat region with a reading of 96.3.

Lowe’s U.S. Introduces Recycling Centres

Lowe’s has installed recycling centres in nearly 1,700 U.S. stores, providing a one-stop recycling destination for customers. The centres aim to deliver a free and convenient way for customers to recycle rechargeable batteries, cell phones, CFLs, and plastic shopping bags. Lowe’s stores in Canada already feature these centres, which ensure CFLs and batteries are properly recycled.

Home Depot, MRM End Deal

Digital marketing company MRM has parted ways with the Home Depot. The announcement comes just nine months after reaching a deal allowing it to manage digital and customer relationship duties for the retailer. Reuters reports the split is due to Home Depot asking for more than what was agreed upon in the deal, without paying additional compensation.

Planners Launched For Kitchen & Bath Month

In celebration of Kitchen & Bath Month in October, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) launched its Kitchen Planner and NKBA Bath Planner as free downloads available at NKBA.org/Planners. The planners provide NKBA-professional expertise on kitchen and bath remodels, step-by-step guides, design options for personal styles, tips on setting a budget range, and assistance on finding the right professional.

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September 29, 2010

Richelieu Acquires EKD

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. has closed the acquisition of E. Kinast Distributors (EKD), Inc., based in Hannover Park, IL. EKD distributes hardware, laminates, finishing, and complementary products, mainly to kitchen cabinet makers and the residential and commercial woodworking industry. Richelieu says the acquisition establishes its presence in the Greater Chicago Area, increases its sales by some $10 million annually, and adds another distribution centre to its U.S. network, which now comprises 22 facilities. Since the beginning of 2010, Richelieu has opened one centre in North Carolina and closed five acquisitions, including EKD. Another acquisition, announced in July 2010, is currently in negotiations. With these, Richelieu is expected to increase its sales by around $70 million annually.

Homeownership Costs Continue To Climb

Homeownership costs in the second quarter rose across Canada for the fourth consecutive time, despite the recent slowing in resale market activity, says RBC Economics Research. The ‘RBC Housing Affordability Measure,’ which captures the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home, rose between 1.1 and 2.1 percentage points at the national level during the second quarter of 2010, (the higher the measure, the more difficult it is to afford a home). The detached bungalow benchmark measure rose by 1.9 of a percentage point to 42.9 per cent, the standard townhouse inched up by 1.1 to 34.1 per cent, the standard condominium climbed by 1.1 to 29.3 per cent, and the standard two-storey home experienced the largest increase, climbing 2.1 percentage points to 48.9 per cent. Higher mortgage rates combined with further appreciation in home prices boosted monthly costs, says Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. "This extended the deteriorating trend in affordability since the middle of last year; however, affordability levels in Canada generally remain within a safe range."

Black & Decker Re-launches Site

Black & Decker has launched an updated and expanded website, at www.BlackandDecker.com. The new site aims at improving resources for consumers, especially DIYers. One of the highlights is an interactive project section where visitors can contribute projects and questions to other DIYers. The section features step-by-step project guides and a showcase of 'before and after' project images, which allows visitors to interact with homeowners responsible for each of the images.

Wolseley Moving Because Of Tax

UK-based builders and plumbers merchant group Wolseley plc plans to move its official headquarters to Switzerland to reduce its tax burden in England. If agreed upon by shareholders, the move would create a holding company called ‘New Wolseley.’ By moving, it stands to save about £23 million.

Columbia Wins Sustainable Forestry Award

The Hardwood Forestry Fund has awarded hardwood manufacturer Columbia Forest Products the '2010 Gifford Pinchot Award.' Presented at the 2010 International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, GA, the award recognizes significant corporate achievements in promoting sustainable forestry, and is named after Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), who was a forester, conservationist, and first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. 

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September 28, 2010

Online Orders Hit $15.1 Billion

Canadians used the Internet in 2009 to place orders for goods and services valued at $15.1 billion, up from $12.8 billion in 2007, says Statistics Canada. In 2009, about 39 per cent of Canadians aged 16 and over went online to place more than 95 million orders. That figure was up from 32 per cent and the 70 million orders placed in 2007. Regionally, more residents of B.C. (47 per cent) and Alberta (45 per cent) made an online order in 2009. Fifty-one per cent of Canadians aged 16 to 34 purchased a product online, and men (42 per cent) were more likely than women (37 per cent) to make an online purchase. Average value per order dropped from $183 in 2007 to $158 in 2009. The top 25 per cent of online shoppers spent an average of $4,210 and accounted for 49 per cent of total orders and 79 per cent of their value.

  Wal-Mart To Acquire South African Retailer

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. made a preliminary, non-binding proposal which could lead to a cash offer to acquire Johannesburg, South Africa-based Massmart Holdings Limited, for ZAR148 per share. Massmart is a distributor of consumer goods in Africa and a retailer of general merchandise and home improvement supplies. It runs 290 stores in 13 countries in Africa, with the vast majority in South Africa, and manages eight wholesale and retail chains operating under a variety of different brand names. “We are continuing to deploy our strategy to accelerate growth and improve returns in our international business and this region of the world fits with our focus on large, high growth markets,” says Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International.

Lighting Fixture Market Climbing

Global demand for lighting fixtures is expected to increase 5.8 per cent annually through 2014 to $127.5 billion, says a new study from research firm The Freedonia Group, Inc. The report, ‘World Lighting Fixtures,’ predicts China will account for one-third of all additional demand through 2014, surpassing the U.S. to become the largest lighting fixture market in the world. Vehicular fixtures will record the fastest gains of any segment through 2014, thanks to increases in global motor vehicle output and a shift towards more expensive units, including high-intensity discharge and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures. Non-portable outdoor fixture demand will expand at the next fastest rate, stimulated by ongoing non-building construction growth and acceleration in residential building construction.  Efforts to increase the energy efficiency of lighting equipment already in place will contribute to sales growth for both indoor and outdoor lighting equipment.

U.S. Fencing Demand To Reach $8.3 Billion

U.S. demand for fencing is expected to grow 2.9 per cent per year through 2014 to 850 million linear feet, says a new study by The Freedonia Group, Inc. Despite the resurgence in demand in terms of linear feet, the value of fencing demand is expected to rise only slightly faster than it did in the 2004-2009 period, reaching $8.3 billion in 2014. The residential market will account for about three-fifths of the approximately $1.1 billion increase in demand through 2014, with the new housing segment expected to post the most rapid advances. Among fencing materials, plastic and composite fencing is forecast to see the most rapid growth in through 2014. Wood fencing will advance at 2.6 per cent per year through 2014. While wood is the most popular material in the residential market, it will lose some share to plastic and composite fencing. In 2009, metal fencing accounted for the largest share of the market in both dollar value and linear feet. Through 2014, demand for metal fencing in linear feet is expected to advance two per cent annually, but below-average growth in the non-residential market, where metal fencing dominates, will restrict gains. 

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September 27, 2010

Yellow Hottest CIL Colour

Light, citrus yellow is the hottest colour for 2011, says CIL Paints. In announcing its top colours for the year, popular shades of lemonade, fizzy sherbet, and lemon-lime chiffon symbolize a sense of fun, freedom, and positive energy – away from the banana yellow that was popular last year. “It’s a very optimistic, cheerful, and refreshing colour, sending a clear message that, as a society, we’re done with tough times and look forward to brighter days ahead,” says Martin Tustin-Fuchs, marketing manager. The forecast also extends to other cheerful colours such as brave, bold blues; vibrant, electrical greens; and warm oranges inspired by homey, natural feel-good tones of clay and wood.

U.S. Starts Up In August

The annual rate of total U.S. housing starts for August was 598,000, an increase of 10.5 per cent and above the August 2009 rate of 585,000, says the U.S. Department of Commerce. Single-family housing starts stood at 438,000 for August, above the July rate of 420,000, but 9.1 per cent below the August 2009 rate of 482,000. Despite some positive numbers, the rates reflect a struggling residential construction market. The estimate, on an unadjusted basis, for single-family housing starts in August was 39,700 -- the lowest August figure since 1959.

Armstrong To Streamline European Efforts

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. will focus on products and regions where it believes it can be a market leader in Europe and will streamline its product range and sales organization accordingly. It intends on concentrating its flooring manufacturing operations in Germany and will continue to make linoleum and homogenous vinyl flooring for the commercial market in its Delmenhorst and Bietigheim plants. During the fourth quarter of 2010, Armstrong plans to withdraw from the residential market and, as a result, its Teesside, UK, manufacturing facility will likely close. As well, Armstrong no longer intends to make heterogeneous vinyl flooring in Europe at its Holmsund, Sweden, plant and it is anticipated that the facility will also close. The company anticipates that restructuring will affect approximately 520 jobs across Europe, which is about 38 per cent of Armstrong's European flooring workforce.

Paint Dispenser For Smaller Stores

Ultrablend, a provider of colourant dispensers and mixers, has launched a compact solution tailored for smaller stores. Now available in Canada, its XE automatic dispenser features a 32” x 32” format, delivering a smaller footprint than one manual dispenser. “We looked at our popular line of larger dispensing machines and realized that stores doing fewer paint sales over the course of a year still needed the precision of larger stores,” says Carlos Salas, CEO. In fact, smaller stores have more at risk financially with their reputations if they make mistakes during tinting using manual machines. This compact, automated option will help reduce mistakes while speeding up production, he says.

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September 24, 2010

Home Dealers Plant Trees Nationwide

Home Hardware Dealers celebrated Maple Leaf Day by planting trees in 19 communities across Canada, as part of the company's 11-year relationship with Tree Canada. "Home Hardware's generous and longstanding sponsorship has helped Tree Canada plant thousands of trees across the country," says Michael Rosen, president of Tree Canada. "It's fantastic to see dealers in communities large and small, urban and rural, doing their part for the environment, and setting a great example for all Canadians." Maple Leaf Day is celebrated annually on the last Wednesday in September during National Forest Week.

Canadians Active Home Buyers

Buying a home doesn't mean Canadians plan to stay for long, says the TD Canada Trust ‘Repeat Home Buyers Report.’ Out of 1,000 surveyed, one-in-five repeat buyers have owned more than five homes, 23 per cent plan to move again within six years, and less than one-third say their next move will be their last. Also among the findings, those selling hope to improve the resale value of their home by renovating (54 per cent) or redecorating (52 per cent). The top factors that influence the decision to move are retirement (29 per cent), being bored with their current home (16 per cent), investment opportunities (15 per cent), and market conditions (15 per cent). Fourteen per cent say they had always planned to move, but were waiting to save enough money.

Global Consumers Defined By Attitudes

Global consumer packaged goods (CPG) shoppers should not be defined by their country, but rather by their shopping attitudes, says a segmentation study by Ipsos Marketing, Shopper & Retail Research. Based on a survey conducted in 23 countries, Ipsos identified five different types of CPG shoppers found around the world in varying degrees. The five segments are ‘Brand Lovers’ (19 per cent), willing to spend more on brands and more influenced by store staff, value, and convenience; ‘Price Driven’ (23 per cent)maintain fixed budgets, are more likely to make a shopping list and compare prices; ‘Indulgents’ (16 per cent) are the most impulsive group, attracted to new products and happy to spend more to save time and don’t mind paying more for brands; ‘Responsible Planners’ (17 per cent) are on a fixed budget, most likely to buy online and have changed habits to shop in a more sustainable way; and ‘Bargain Hunters’ (25 per cent) hunt for bargains but are less price-constrained and more impulsive. They can afford to buy in bulk and are less interested in shopping online.

Canadian-made Label Launched

The Canadian Furniture Manufacturers are launching a new label to identify themselves. ‘Quality Canadian Furniture' is meant to make it easier for consumers to identify Canadian-made furniture in retail stores through new, clearly labelled hangtags and stickers. It also launched a new website, available at www.qualitycanadianfurniture.ca, in support of the initiative.

IDS11 To Feature Unified Floor

For the first time in its 13-year history, the Interior Design Show/IDS11 (IDS11) will have its own designated designer. Returning January 27 to 30, 2011, to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON, Canadian design agency 64th & Queen will “unify the entire show room floor.” The event is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors and more than 300 exhibitors featuring Canadian and international furnishings, fixtures, and accessories for the home. For more information, visit www.interiordesignshow.com.  

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September 23, 2010

Retail Sales Edge Down

Retail sales edged down 0.1 per cent to $35.9 billion in July, says Statistics Canada. At the subsector level, results were mixed as lower sales were reported in five of 11 subsectors. With price changes factored in, retail sales in volume terms dropped by 0.2 per cent. Furniture and home furnishing stores registered the largest decrease with a sales drop of 8.4 per cent, coming after upward trending sales over the past year and a half. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers decreased 2.3 per cent, a fourth consecutive monthly decline. The largest increase in sales was a 2.4 per cent gain at general merchandise stores, following three months of decreases.

Leading Indicators Climb

The leading index of economic indicators rose 0.5 per cent in August, says Statistics Canada, matching average increases over the previous two months. Sources of growth changed little, as manufacturing posted the largest gains while housing continued to weaken. New orders for durable manufactured goods continued to strengthen, rising 5.2 per cent. The rate of decline in the housing index levelled off at four per cent, due mainly to the housing starts component. With existing home sales continuing to decline, furniture and appliance sales dropped for the second straight month. Spending on other durable goods rebounded one per cent after five straight decreases.

RONA Outlines Succession Structure

RONA is taking a highly “structured approach” to succession planning by clearly defining all resources and support tools available for young leaders and families in need, says Jean-Luc Meunier, senior vice-president, affiliate dealer-owner network development. Speaking at a Hardlines breakfast seminar, Meunier described the three components to its program which include ‘personal’ aspects such as training and mentoring new owners; ‘legal’ resources to help establish agreements and contracts; and ‘financial’ to cover business and tax planning and the financial structure for the purchase transaction. The program also includes a “disciplined” commitment of $100 million by RONA towards a development fund to facilitate the acquisition of stores over a 10-year period, he says.

Product Safety Act Moving Forward

Consultation on regulations signal the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) is moving forward, says law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. The proposed Act was recently given its first reading in the House of Commons as Bill C-36, and Health Canada is currently in the midst of a consultation period, during which the public and other stakeholders can voice opinions concerning its provisions. If passed, the Act will revamp Canada's existing consumer product regulatory regime through the enactment of measures such as new obligations to report product ‘incidents,’ new government authority to issue mandatory recalls, mandatory recordkeeping obligations, widespread investigatory power of government inspectors, and substantial penalty provisions.

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September 22, 2010

Lowe’s Opens First Western Store

Lowe's Companies Canada, ULC opened its first Western Canada store in Rocky View, a northern suburb of Calgary, AB. The store features 103,000 square feet of retail space, a 31,600 square-foot garden centre, and more than 40,000 products.  "Today marks the beginning of Lowe's expansion into Western Canada," says Alan Huggins, president. As part of its investment in the community, Lowe's will provide the United Way of Calgary and Area (UWCA) with a $45,000 grant and work to create 'Day of Caring' opportunities for employees to volunteer on improvement projects in their communities. As part of Lowe's western expansion plans, it will also open two other locations in the Calgary region in the first quarter of 2011, followed by stores in Regina, SK; Edmonton, AB; and BC.

Sico Reveals Colour Trends

The 2011-2012 paint-colour palette is dominated by warm, homey, and comforting colours – a reflection of the public mood, says Dominique Pépin, marketing manager for Sico and chair-holder of the Colour Marketing Group. Research conducted by Sico finds colours will move away from once-popular opulent dark tones towards shades with more natural and nurturing qualities. “In a society of endless choices where we ‘have it all,’ people are increasingly longing to return back to basics, to a simpler life,” says Pépin. The 2011-2012 palette is divided into three themes: ‘Inviting,’ reflecting a homey and comforting feel; ‘Authentic,’ celebrating timeless beauty and the natural world; and ‘Dazzling,’ an energetic expression of fun and simplicity.

AFA, Knauf Reach Agreement

AFA Forest Products Inc. will distribute, market, service, and sell Knauf Insulation Building products across Canada. The agreement reflects AFA’s commitment to providing quality and sustainable products to the market, says Andy Dolan, national sales and marketing manager, AFA. Knauf insulation includes glasswool, rock mineral wool, polystyrene, polyurethane, and wood wool cement.

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September 21, 2010

AFA, Exteria Form Agreement

AFA Forest Products Inc. and Exteria Building Products, a manufacturer of siding and panels (formerly known as Nailite), have formed a national distribution agreement for their entire product offering. The agreement will offer “well-established and recognized products,” along with new profiles and technology for the market, says Andy Dolan, national sales and marketing manager, AFA. It will also ensure products are readily available from all 13 AFA distribution centres across the country.

Bonneville Introduces Accoya

Accoya wood is set to “change the face” of home building and window design in Canada, says Bonneville Windows and Doors. Commercially available for the first time in Canada, it features a ‘durability class one’ and properties that match most high-end tropical hardwoods. By significantly enhancing the durability and dimensional stability of fast-growing and abundantly available certified wood, Accoya also provides environmental advantages over slow-growing hardwoods, woods treated with toxic chemicals, and non-renewable carbon-intensive materials such as plastics, steel, and concrete.

Whirlpool Appoints Canadian VP

Joseph T. Liotine is vice-president and general manager at Whirlpool Canada. Most recently, he was general manager, key accounts, at Whirlpool Corporation's headquarters in Benton Harbor, MI. 

New Era Of Lighting Ahead

The lighting industry is becoming considerably more robust, thanks to the influx of new applications for light emitting diodes (LEDs) and other solid-state lighting (SSL) sources, says research firm SBI Energy. “The ‘Age of Edison’ is over and the ‘Solid State Lighting Age’ has just begun,” says Jean Diener, analyst and author of the report, ‘LED and Energy Efficient Lighting Worldwide Markets: Indoor, Outdoor, Residential, Commercial.’ While the general illumination segment (indoor/outdoor lighting) made up two-thirds of the world market by value in 2009, SBI forecasts tremendous growth potential for the illuminated signage and electronic displays segments, particularly in the area of digital billboards and other large-scale digital displays. Electronic displays, especially as part of LED-backlit LCD televisions, are expected to experience “exciting” growth as prices for these televisions continue to drop in correlation with price drops for LEDs.

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September 20, 2010

Rawdon Home Hardware Reports Fire

A fire heavily damaged Rawdon Home Hardware in Rawdon, QC. The store reports that there were no injuries and that no one was inside at the time of the fire. The fire did not affect its lumberyard, and it is considering reopening that part of the business. Despite the fire, the store says it will maintain employment for its 35 workers. Currently, however, the store is closed.

Castle Moving

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has moved its office. Its new office is at 100 Milverton Dr., Ste. 400, Mississauga, ON, L5R 4H1. Its phone and fax numbers remain the same.

Duck Tape To Honour Best Pumpkin

Duck brand duct tape announced its ‘Stick or Treat Jack-O-Lantern Contest,’ a pumpkin decorating challenge using its tape. Duck tape users can enter by submitting a photograph of their duct tape jack-o-lantern via its promotion page on www.duckbrand.com. The contest ends on November 1, 2010, and all eligible entries will be judged by a panel of judges based on originality, workmanship, use of colour, and quantity of duct tape used. First place will win $1,000, second will receive $500, and third will receive $250.

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September 17, 2010

Sears Busy Expanding Dealer Network

Sears Canada opened several dealer stores across Canada. They are in Lewisporte, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Stephenville, and Labrador City, NL; Enfield, Cheticamp, and Sheet Harbour, NS; Forenceville, NB; Port Cartier, Lachute, and Beloeil, QC; Kemptville and Aliston, ON; Nipawin and Tisdale, SK; Cardston, AB; and Chase, BC. Sears Canada now has a network of 241 dealer stores and 197 corporate stores.

Toyota Lift Trucks Ranked Largest

Toyota Canada Industrial Equipment ranked as the world's largest lift truck supplier for the eighth consecutive year in ‘Modern Materials Handling's Annual Top 20.’ Rankings are based on worldwide revenue from powered industrial trucks during each company's most recent fiscal year. Toyota reported $4.6 billion in worldwide sales revenue for the 2009 fiscal year. "This achievement is a tribute to the loyalty of our customers and the value and quality they attribute to our lift trucks," says Rob Reinders, director of Toyota Canada's industrial equipment division.

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September 16, 2010

RONA Succession Helps First Five

Five young entrepreneurs are the first to access support from the 10-year, $100 million development fund set up by RONA to finance takeover plans of the next generation. Among them are Marc-Andre Drouin, 37, and Nathalie Lagrange, 36, acquiring two stores in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce and Saint-Elzear, QC; Jean-Sebastien Saint-Pierre, 37, acquiring a store in Matagami, QC; Marie-Pierre Breton, 24, acquiring the Quincaillerie Maurice in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC; and Sergio Di Fruscia, 38, acquiring a hardware store in the Montreal region."If we want to maintain growth -- and our key role as industry consolidator -- we need to find and attract smart, dynamic young people from our organization or elsewhere. And we need to provide them with the tools they need to succeed as entrepreneurs,” says President and CEO Robert Dutton.

CanWel Added To S&P/TSX

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. has been added to the S&P/TSX SmallCap Index, effective after the close of trading on Friday, Sept. 17. The index was developed with industry input as the benchmark for investors with small cap exposure to the Canadian equity market. “We are very pleased with the company’s inclusion in the S&P/TSX SmallCap Index,” says Amar Doman, Chairman and CEO of CanWel. “We are hopeful that our inclusion in the Index will assist in further broadening our shareholder base and attract new investors to our “company.”

Home Depot Commits $1 Million

The Home Depot Canada and its Foundation committed $1 million to support the ongoing development of not-for-profit Evergreen Brick Works, which includes Toronto-area community centres' year-round environmentally-focused activities, workshops, and programs. The contribution marks the largest commitment by a Canadian retailer and a dedicated partnership, welcoming the volunteer services of hundreds of Toronto-area Home Depot associates over the next five years. “The Home Depot Canada Foundation is excited to not only lend its skills, knowledge, and resources to the continued growth of Evergreen Brick Works – but also to participate hands-on in the development of this innovative centre – a first for Toronto and Canada,” says Annette Verschuren, president, The Home Depot Canada. 

IRLY, TIM-BR Mart Co-host Shows

IRLY and TIM-BR Mart say that its five import shows have helped dealers examine the products they will import for the upcoming season. TIM-BR Mart invited IRLY to attend China’s largest buying show, the Canton Fair, to source import product for their dealers in order to offer better pricing and selection. They had samples of all of their selections shipped in a container to Halifax, for five shows across Canada for TIM-BR Mart members. The final show was held at IRLY Distributors in Surrey, BC for both IRLY and TIM-BR Mart dealers. Brad Olsen, IRLY’s director of purchasing says he’s pleased with the results so far. “We continue to compile the results. The purchases are very promising.”

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September 15, 2010

Home Market Highlights Paint

Newly launched Beauti-Tone paint and colour lines were among the main highlights at Home Hardware’s 2010 Fall Market, says Rob Wallace, public relations and promotional events manager. Dealers at the 95th fall market, in St. Jacobs, ON, were excited by sneak peaks of its exclusive ‘Sesame Street Colour Collection,’ Wallace says, allowing customers to pick the character and match a child’s room with the palettes. Attendees were also treated to a ‘runway exclusive,’ featuring Canadian fashion designer Simon Chang and Beauti-Tone’s ‘Trend Colour Collection,’ which includes five palettes and 50 colours.

Canadian Tire Aligns Leadership

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited has aligned operations and senior leadership to execute its growth strategy announced earlier this year. The alignment will focus the leadership on top-line growth, building the customer experience, and reducing duplicative costs between five inter-related businesses by operating as 'one company, serving one customer.' "Today's changes are critical to the evolution of Canadian Tire as a customer-centred, performance-driven company," says Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO. The six principle business categories include Living, Fixing, Playing will be led by Mike Arnett, executive vice-president, CTC, and president, Canadian Tire Retail; automotive led by Glenn Butt, EVP, customer experience and automotive; apparel led by Paul Wilson, president, Mark's; and financial services led by Dean McCann, president, Canadian Tire Financial Services.

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September 14, 2010

Sears Riding For Kids Cancer

The ‘Sears National Kids Cancer Ride’ cyclists arrived in Winnipeg at Sears Polo Park Mall. Beginning in White Rock, BC and ending in Halifax, NS on Sept. 23, the 42 cyclists are riding more than 7,000 km to raise money and awareness in the battle against childhood cancer. Now in its third year, the last two rides raised $2.6 million. This year's goal is $1.5 million. “Through the involvement of our associates and the vast network of Sears locations across the country, we're proud that we can raise awareness and money for research, treatment, and support for children and their families," says Frank Rossi, store manager, Polo Park.  

Owens Corning Divests From Brazil

Owens Corning is divesting its fibreglass reinforcements plant in Capivari, Brazil. The company says the decision will facilitate long-term planning given the uncertainty of the resolution of its ongoing negotiations with the Brazilian competition authority regarding the Capivari site.

Moen Launches Sites

Moen Canada launched two websites that feature interactive, user-friendly tools to help do-it-yourselfers and skilled professionals. For consumers, the company says the site now offers an emphasis on sustainability, DIY videos, enhanced product catalogues, and a visual replacement parts finder. For professionals, the launch includes links to parts and product specification sheets, CAD drawings, and instruction sheets. To view, visit www.moen.ca.

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September 13, 2010

TORBSA Elects Board

Michael Bernardi, of Bernardi Building Supply Ltd., is TORBSA Group’s president for 2010. Its 2010 board of directors is: Vice-president Jim Holmes of Builders’ Supplies Limited (Mississauga, ON); Vice-president - perations Doug Portiss of Sarnia Drywall Supply Ltd. (Sarnia, ON); Treasurer Blake Oldershaw of Oldershaw Building Supply Co. Ltd. (Chatham, ON); Past-president Dante DiGiovanni of Blair Building Materials Inc. (Maple, ON); and Secretary Len Hewson of Hewson Brothers Supply Limited (Brantford, ON).

CMHDS Appoints Harris To Board

The Canadian Materials Handling and Distribution Society (CMHDS) has appointed Grant Harris to its board of directors. Harris is IRLY Distributors’ director of supply chain. The CMHDS is involved in warehousing and concerned with transportation, safety, sustainability, and networking opportunities. “There is so much value in this association.  Members can visit other facilities in a non-competitive environment and learn best practices,” Harris says.

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September 10, 2010

CanWel+Broadleaf Appoints Regional GMs

Les Mackay, Atlantic Canada; Marc Seguin, Quebec; Peter Lawson, Ontario; Bob Preston, Manitoba; Terry Mayer, Saskatchewan; Bernie Roth, Edmonton; and Craig Marsden, British Columbia are regional managers at the CanWel+Broadleaf division. Each will report to Bob Simko, president of CanWel+Broadleaf.  "I am proud to be able to present this team of seasoned leaders to our employees, suppliers, and customer base," says Simko.

Building Permit Value Falls In July

Building permit value stood at $6.4 billion in July, down 3.3 per cent from June, but 33 per cent higher than in July 2009, says Statistics Canada. Declines in both the residential and non-residential sectors were attributed to the decrease in July. In the non-residential sector, building permits were worth $2.9 billion in July, down 4.3 per cent from June. The value of residential permits dropped for a fourth consecutive month, down 2.4 per cent to $3.5 billion in July, but 28.6 per cent higher than in July 2009. The value of both single- and multi-family permits declined in six provinces in July. The total value of building intentions increased in Ontario, Saskatchewan, B.C., and Manitoba. Nationally, municipalities approved 17,099 new dwellings in July, down 4.6 per cent from June.

Bathroom Fireplaces Among Trends

Fireplaces for this fall and winter are about location and sleek linear designs, says Napoleon Fireplaces & Grills. Among its trends for the 2011 season, advanced technology now allows fireplaces to be installed in more non-traditional rooms, such as bedrooms or bathrooms. Clean looking designs, clear glass fronts, eye-level placements on a wall, and remote controls can now provide an “HD experience” for homeowners. “The overall trend for this year’s fireplaces are long and linear in black and stainless finishes. Cast iron and copper are popular in fireplaces featuring traditional log sets,” says David Coulson, of Napoleon.

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September 9, 2010

Home Hardware To Boost Logistics

Two thousand ten was a productive year at Home Hardware, with a number of new developments and programs in the works, says Paul Straus, president, in its mid-year update. Among the newly announced initiatives, it will be moving forward with a Logistics Management System (LMS), which will help ensure it is meeting the needs of Dealers and customers, operating efficiently, and maximizing resources, he says. The new system’s features will focus on maximizing warehouse space, reducing the number of hands needed to touch a product, moving the product efficiently through the distribution system, connecting with carriers in a timely fashion through an internet based management system, and providing advanced shipping notices to predict reliable arrival times for merchandise.

Beauti-Tone, Lung Association Partner

Home Hardware’s Beauti-Tone paint brand and The Canadian Lung Association have formed a partnership to generate awareness and educate Canadians about maintaining air quality inside the home. Through ‘Working Together for Healthy Homes,’ Beauti-Tone will feature a line of products that contain little to no VOCs and stores will display special signage in paint departments across Canada identifying the ‘Natura’ brand as a ‘lung healthy’ paint choice. "Beauti-Tone Natura products can be found in 1,070 Home Hardware stores across Canada. As such, Home Hardware dealers are in an ideal position to educate consumers on the proper and safe use of products that affect air quality,” says Heather Borquez, president and CEO, The Canadian Lung Association.

Small Business Confidence Dips

Optimism among Canada's small- and medium-sized business owners experienced its third consecutive monthly decline in August, says the latest business confidence survey findings from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer index fell to 64.9 last month, down from 65.7 in July, and well below 2010's March peak of 69.9 – mainly a result of uncertain market conditions, the CFIB says. Optimism dropped in eight of 13 major industry groups, including construction, manufacturing, wholesaling, and financial services.

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September 8, 2010

Consumer Confidence Down

Consumer confidence decreased slightly, says the latest Harris/Decima-Investor's Group Measure, marking the second quarterly drop in a row. The decrease appears to be driven by a slightly less optimistic view of the short term economic outlook, it says. In Canada, the overall measure of consumer confidence decreased slightly from 85.9 in May to 82.4 today. In the U.S, the measure stands at 68.9, a decrease from the 73.6 recorded in May. Roughly half (49 per cent) believe that now is a good time to make a major purchase, down slightly from the 53 per cent who said so in February. Nationally, 36 per cent believe it is a bad time to make such a purchase, up from the 30 per cent recorded in May.

Ace Launches Visa Card

Ace Hardware Corporation launched its Ace Rewards Visa card across the U.S. The Visa card, issued by U.S. Bank, is available in two different options: one for consumers and one for small business owners. It is offered in conjunction with and will serve as an enhancement to the existing Ace Rewards customer loyalty program, which is available in 2,600 stores. “The launch of our Ace Rewards Visa is a strategic tool to increase sales and customer loyalty,” said John Surane, vice-president, marketing, merchandising and paint for Ace. “It is a competitive differentiator and will attract new customers to our brand, as well as provide yet another benefit to current Ace Rewards members.”

PG Hardwood Transfers Production

PG Hardwood Flooring announced it would transfer 100 per cent of its production to Saint-Édouard-de-Lotbinière, QC. The move is a part of a major restructuring program underway for more than two years, and follows its decision to cease operations at its production plant in Beauceville, QC on Dec. 1. Gains made through the transfer will allow it to increase production by 33 per cent, bringing its annual capacity to more than 22 million board feet of flooring, the company says.

FAKRO Wins Golden Emblem

FAKRO, a global manufacture of skylights/roof windows, announced it was among the winners of the ‘Highest Quality - Quality International 2010 Golden Emblem.’ The recognition is organized by the Business Forum and chosen by experts, representatives of business, and economic organizations as well as by a certification body.

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September 7, 2010

Walsh Director For CanWel+Broadleaf

CanWel has named Michel Walsh its director of product management and marketing for the CanWel+Broadleaf Division, effective Sept. 7, 2010. He will report directly to Bob Simko, president of the Division. Previously, Walsh was the general manager of Broadleaf Logistics' Quebec business unit, and is a graduate of the Civil Engineering program at Laval University. "Over his 22 year career, Michel has a solid track record of success in a variety of technical, sales and general management positions with Nordel, Trus Joist, Weyerhaeuser, and Broadleaf," says Simko. "Michel is respected for his extensive technical knowledge and his ability to bring innovative business solutions to the customer base." 

Sherwin-Williams Acquires Becker

The Sherwin-Williams Company has closed a definitive agreement to acquire Becker Industrial Products AB, a subsidiary of AB Wilh. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Becker Acroma is one of the largest manufacturers of industrial wood coatings globally and involved in water, UV, and other wood coatings. Becker Acroma wood coatings serve the joinery, kitchen cabinet, furniture, and flooring markets directly and through distributors. Becker has more than 900 employees and operates nine manufacturing facilities, 19 mixing sites, and 13 technical centres around the world. "We are pleased to bring Becker Acroma, a well-respected company, and their employees into the Sherwin-Williams family,” says Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO.

Walmart Selects AkzoNobel

AkzoNobel has been selected by Walmart to be the primary paint supplier for its U.S. stores. AkzoNobel will develop and manufacture a portfolio of interior and exterior paints for more than 3,500 Walmart stores nationwide with the Glidden and ColorPlace brands. This agreement builds on the existing relationship with Walmart for paints in Puerto Rico and Canada, and with Liquid Nails adhesives in the United States.

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September 3, 2010

RONA Building Two Réno-Dépôts

RONA inc. announced the construction of two new 100,000-square-foot Réno-Dépôt stores in Quebec, representing a total investment of close to $50 million and the creation of about 200 new jobs. Construction for the Vaudreuil store has already begun and will open in spring 2011. Construction on the Sainte-Foy store will begin shortly and is expected to open in summer 2011. Both Réno-Dépôts will be built using LEED criteria for new buildings and are expected to receive LEED certification. “RONA is proud to be expanding our network by opening the 17th and 18th Réno-Dépôt stores in Vaudreuil and Sainte-Foy. Both stores are part of the new generation of Réno-Dépôts, with all the advantages that make the banner so popular…” says executive vice-president of store operations, Pierre Dandoy.

Technology Greatly Impacting Retail

Emerging technologies have impacted every stakeholder in retail, says Steve Stremecki, vice-president, Retail Services – TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. Online advancements have enhanced its relationship with Dealers through, for example, electronic billing/payments, e-learning, or wide-spread Web meetings. For consumers, the Internet now delivers instantaneous information on just about any topic, and “thrusts retailers and vendors into new territory..” he says. For more of Stremecki’s views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

CHHMA Event Remembers Honourees  

The CHHMA is hosting its 9th Annual Industry Memorial Golf Classic on Sept. 28, at the Wooden Sticks Golf Club in Uxbridge, ON. The event honours the memory of those in the hardware and housewares industry who have passed away. This year it will remember past honourees Bernie Carpenter, Don McDonald, Les Groves, Bob Hilton, Doug Straus, Mel Boshart, George Giles, and Ed Barnes. It is open to CHHMA members and nonmembers. For more information, visit www.chhma.ca/Public/CHHMA-Events.

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September 2, 2010

Solar Panel Cost Deterring Canadians

About nine in ten Canadian homeowners are aware that using green energy reduces environmental impact, but only five per cent are generating energy by installing rooftop solar panels, says a new survey from TD Canada Trust. It found 33 per cent of homeowners have considered solar panels, however 76 per cent of them say expense is the number one deterrent. "But Canadians have shown that those concerns can be overcome. A decade ago, hybrid vehicles were a novelty, but today there are a growing number on our roads," says Karen Clarke-Whistler, chief environment officer, TD.

Non-residential Profit To Fall

Investment in Canada’s non-residential construction sector increased in the second quarter, after declining for five consecutive quarters, says The Conference Board of Canada. However, despite the increase in activity, industry profits will fall to a five-year low in 2010. The report – entitled, ‘Canadian Industrial Outlook: Canada's Non-Residential Construction Industry - Summer 2010’ – found that spending on commercial and industrial space will be down this year compared to 2009. As a result, pre-tax profits are expected to fall to a five-year low of $1.2 billion in 2010. Improving market conditions will allow profit growth to resume in 2011, but industry profits are not expected to return to their pre-recession levels before 2014.

Milwaukee Launches Lithium Technology

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation introduced its next generation of Lithium technology, REDLITHIUM.  The company says the batteries will offer tradesmen up to 40 per cent more run-time, 20 per cent more power, and 50 per cent more recharges than other Lithium products. It can also operate in extreme temperatures and will run 20 per cent cooler with fade free power and no memory effect. As well, users can instantly upgrade to other tools they already own by switching.

Castle Moving

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. announced it is moving its office as of Sept. 18, 2010. Its new office will be at 100 Milverton Drive, Suite 400, Mississauga, ON, L5R 4H1. Its phone and fax numbers will not be changing.

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September 1, 2010

Richelieu Completes Acquisition

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. has closed the acquisition of the net assets of New Century Distributors Grp. LLC, an Avenel, New Jersey-based distributor of specialty hardware products for kitchen cabinet manufacturers and the residential and commercial woodworking industry. Originally announced in July 2010, this acquisition will strengthen Richelieu's presence in the New Jersey market, provides access to the new Pennsylvania market, and adds sales of more than $3 million, the company says. It also provides Richelieu with a new distribution centre in the U.S. where its network now includes 21 facilities.

IDEAL Acquires SK Hand Tools

IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. announced its purchase of certain assets of SK Hand Tools Corporation, a Chicago-based manufacturer of tools for the professional mechanic. The acquisition will expand its focus on American-made product value, and further demonstrates its “ongoing dedication to manufacturing in the United States.” Doug Spitler, vice-president and general manager of IDEAL's Retail and Industrial Divisions, was appointed to run the new company operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of IDEAL.

RONA Foundation Raises $525,000

The RONA Foundation raised $525,000 at its Annual Golf Day, held at the Hillsdale Golf Club near Montreal. About 500 participants, many of them from its network of suppliers, came together to support the Foundation’s objectives of financially supporting projects that combat school drop-out and illiteracy, and which help young people prepare for a trade or occupation. Also as part of the event, four Canadian athletes turned up to show their support, including Caroline Ouellette, member of the gold-medal-winning women’s hockey team; and Charles Hamelin, double gold medallist in short-track speed skating in Vancouver.

Fire Of ’05 Challenged BMR

A fire in 2005, which consumed Groupe BMR’s head office and hardware warehouse, was the most significant challenge it has ever faced, says Yves Gagnon, president and CEO. Yet employees, group members, and partners came together quickly and overcame the setback. “Only a week after the incident, we were up and running. We were taking orders from our dealers and we were able to make deliveries,” he says. For more of Gagnon’s views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

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August 31, 2010

CanWel+Broadleaf Names Director

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. named Brian Martin as its director of National Accounts for the CanWel+Broadleaf Division. Effective September 7, Martin will assume the role and will report directly to Bob Simko, president of the CanWel+Broadleaf Division. "Brian brings in excess of thirty years of service to this industry, across a variety of positions at Weldwood, CanWel, MacMillan Bloedel, Weyerhaeuser, and Broadleaf," says Simko. "With his knowledge and integrity, we are indeed fortunate to have an individual like Brian leading this important customer interface."

Kantar Presents Retailing Forum

Market research firm, Kantar Retail will present key retail insights and forward-looking recommendations for suppliers at the ‘Canadian Retailing Forum.’ Scheduled for Oct. 5 to 7, 2010, at Sheraton Parkway Toronto North, the conference will include information on trends, best practices, negotiation, shopper marketing, and the Canadian economy. For more information, visit www.kantarretail.com.

JELD-WEN Launches Exterior Door

JELD-WEN has launched a new type of exterior door meant to deliver affordability and environmental responsibility to consumers. Aimed at new construction or remodelling projects, ‘FiberLast’ is Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)-certified to contain at least 35 percent pre-consumer recycled wood. As well, the proprietary mix of recycled wood and fibreglass, combined with the engineered door construction, adds strength and durability – important in sustainable architecture, the company says.

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August 30, 2010

Walmart Aiming For Green Workforce

Walmart Canada launched its new sustainability program meant to help its 85,000 associates to become environmentally engaged. Built around three pillars -- Planet, Health, and Life -- ‘The My Sustainability Plan’ (MSP) asks its associates to identify goals, develop a plan to make it part of their daily lives, track progress, and share their story to inspire other associates. A team of 350 MSP captains will help set goals and initiatives, such as carpooling, cleaning up a local park, quitting smoking, recycling, switching to sustainable products, and using reusable shopping bags. The program builds on a Walmart Canada initiative in 2008 which saw it log more than 325,000 personal sustainability projects across Canada. Walmart Canada and Walmart Brazil are the first two within the 15-country network to launch the program. It expects to roll it out in all 15 countries in the future.

Weiser Hosts Lock-picking Competition

In an effort to demonstrate the pick-resistance of its SmartKey deadbolt, Kwikset/Weiser recently hosted a lock-picking competition for professional locksmiths at the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) Convention in Orlando, Florida. Out of the 56 SmartKey deadbolts that locksmiths attempted to pick, only one lock was successfully picked, at a time of eight minutes and 16 seconds. Of the 56 Schlage SecureKey deadbolts, 44 were successfully picked, one in as fast as 7.16 seconds. In percentages, the SmartKey deadbolt was picked in less than two per cent of attempts, while Schlage’s SecureKey was picked in over 78 percent of lock-picking attempts. While given a full 10 minutes to attempt a successful pick, 20 of the locksmiths who were able to pick SecureKey, were able to do so in less than 60 seconds. 

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August 27, 2010

RONA Engaging Young Leaders

RONA’s five-day ‘President’s Forum’ summer retreat for young business leaders, in Kananaskis, AB, is meant to ensure its network is prepared for future challenges. Held Aug. 25 to 29, the second annual retreat is aimed at enhancing participants’ commitment to retail, while highlighting support initiatives such as a $100 million development fund to help finance buyouts by the next generation and access to its team of business experts. “Our existing affiliate dealer network reflects the aging demographics of the Canadian population at large,” Dutton said. “If we wish to sustain strong network growth – and RONA’s role as industry consolidation leader – we need to identify and attract bright, dynamic, young people from within and outside our organization...”

Independents Regaining Share

The initial impact of big-box retailing was one of the biggest challenges independents had to overcome, says Ken Jenkins, president, Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. Yet that new reality created a stronger, more business savvy independent. “In many cases, independents have turned the tables and have now regained much of the market share that they gave up,” he says. For more of Jenkins’ views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

CertainTeed Achieves Approval

CertainTeed Corporation received an evaluation report from ICC Evaluation Services, Inc. (ICC-ES), confirming that its T-Roc Thermal Laminate Foundation Insulation System is building code compliant. The assessment includes testing, calculations, quality control methods, and third-party verification to architects, contractors, and building officials that the product meets the 2006 Building Code, the 2006 International Residential Code, and the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. The report is available at iccsafe.org.

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August 26, 2010

IRLY Store Best In BC

The readers of The Langley Advance newspaper in B.C. recognized Brookswood Rentals/IRLY as the best rental store in the community. The store placed first in the newspaper’s ‘2010 Best of the Best Reader’s Choice Poll,’ marking Brookswood Rentals’ 7th first place win in the category. The store is owned and operated by Ed Murphy, who bought the 30-year-old business in 1994 and moved it to a larger location nearby. He expanded the operation from a one-garage bay to the existing 8,000 square-foot facility.

Canadian Tire Official NHL Retailer

Canadian Tire has signed a partnership agreement with the NHL to become the League's Official Sporting Goods Retailer. The agreement includes a five-year NHL partnership, the launch of the NHL-powered Canadian Tire Hockey School (CTHS), and the naming of Stanley Cup winner and Olympic Gold Medalist Jonathan Toews as CTHS founding member and official spokesperson. Canadian Tire will also now be designated as an Official Partner of the NHL Heritage Classic, NHL All-Star Game, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stanley Cup Final, and NHL Face-Off. "As Canada's largest retailer of sporting equipment and a brand steeped in Canadian history, Canadian Tire is who Canadians trust for their first pair of skates, stick, helmet and pads,” said Mike Arnett, president of Canadian Tire Retail.

Residential Construction To Slow

Home building activity is expected to slow down in the second half of year due to declining affordability, says The Conference Board of Canada. Its report, ‘Canadian Industrial Outlook: Canada's Residential Construction Industry - Summer 2010’, finds that while residential construction rebounded from the recession, costs such as mortgage expenses and insurance are outstripping inflation and income growth. “As a result, housing affordability in Canada, which has been deteriorating over the past decade, will continue to decline during the next two years," said Michael Burt, associate director, Industrial Economic Trends. While new home construction is expected to slow, housing starts will remain at a healthy level. The slowdown represents a shift to a more sustainable building pace rather than the beginning of a large correction in demand.  

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August 25, 2010

Retail Sales Rise In June

Retail sales in June grew 0.1 per cent to $35.9 billion, says Statistics Canada. With price changes factored in, sales in volume terms increased 0.9 per cent. Retail sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 0.5 per cent, following two months of declines and fluctuations in early 2010. At furniture and home furnishing stores, sales increased 2.3 per cent, led by a 4.1 per cent gain at home furnishings stores. Retail sales rose in five of 11 subsectors in June; motor vehicle and parts dealers led the way with a 2.1 per cent rise.

TTI Reports Sales Growth

Power tools and floor care company, Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd (TTI), reported net profit growth of 40.5 per cent for the first six months of 2010. The Hong Kong-based producer of Milwaukee, AEG, and Ryobi power tools had group sales of US$1.6 billion, an increase of 10.5 per cent over the same year-ago period. EBIT before restructuring increased 58.9 per cent as sales grew in all major markets, led by performances from the Milwaukee and Hoover brands.

Black & Decker Launching Plant Sensors

Black & Decker Inc. (U.S.) and PlantSense, Inc. formed an exclusive arrangement to produce a new line of high-tech Black & Decker-branded gardening tools. Black & Decker will license its Internet-connected EasyBloom technology for a line of plant sensors, called PlantSmart, to be released in the fall. Users of EasyBloom sensors, launched in 2008, report that they grow 30 per cent more plants with the tool, and according to a recent survey from Harris Interactive, two-thirds of adults say that knowing what types of plants, fruits, vegetables or flowers would thrive in given locations would make it easier to garden successfully.

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August 24, 2010

JELD-WEN Sponsors Curling Team

JELD-WEN has signed on to sponsor the Jeff Stoughton curling team until 2012. “JELD-WEN has been a proud curling supporter since 2006,” says Chris Sheldon, director of marketing for JELD-WEN Canada. “We’re very excited to help this dynamic and skilled team reach their curling goals.” Jeff Stoughton has been curling for 31 years and has won seven provincial championships, two brier championships, and World and Players championships.

Home Depot Introduces Affordable LEDs

The Home Depot says it now offers the first affordable 40W equivalent LED on the market, and provides the widest selection of high-powered, light emitting diodes (LEDs) bulbs through homedepot.com. The announcement is meant to help consumers in advance of the 2012 legislation phasing out select incandescent light bulbs. “Our partnerships with leading LED manufacturers including: Philips, Lighting Science Group, and Cree have enabled us to be the first in the market to offer affordable options for a wide array of fixture types for a consumer’s home,” says Craig Menear, executive vice-president for Merchandising. It now offers a proprietary brand of LEDs under EcoSmart, including a bulb that retails for $19.97 and is a 40W equivalent, making it the most affordable bulb of its kind in the market to date.

Vendor-Retailer Relationships Changing

The “de-humanizing” of vendor-retailer relationships has been among the biggest changes impacting the industry since the 1990s, says Vaughn Crofford, president of the CHHMA. “If you look at how things are done now, compared to how Canadian retailers used to operate, one of the big complaints you get from the supply side is that they don’t get face time,” Crofford says. For more of Crofford’s views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

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August 23, 2010

TIM-BR MARTS Announces Buying Show

To unite its coast-to-coast network of dealers and suppliers, TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. announced the launch of a buying show in Mississauga, ON at the Toronto Congress Centre from March 31 to April 2, 2011. The TIM-BR MART National Buying Showwill kick off with an opening evening Meet and Greet, followed by two days of buying. The show will feature more than 250 preferred vendors in the lumber, building materials, and hardlines categories, and is expected to draw more than 350 Dealers from across Canada. “Our buying power has reached a point where we can deliver the most value to our Dealers and help our vendors build their business by bringing them together in an exclusive environment,” says Randy Martin, vice-president, Procurement.

Taymor Associate Celebrates 40 Years

Decorative and builders hardware suplier, Taymor, congratulated its warehouse manager, Agrery Smith, on 40 years on the job in its Toronto facility. “Agrery continues to be instrumental to our success.  He was, and still is, a great adopter of technology in warehousing,” said Doug McLean, vice-president, Sales, New Construction, and general manager for Eastern Canada. Agrery started in 1970 as warehouse Manager at Taymor Toronto on Finch Av. in Downsview. 

Lowe’s Hosts Paint Amnesty

Painter’s Mate, in association with Lowe’s Canada locations across Ontario, will host ‘Paint Amnesty Day’ on Aug. 28, 2010. As part of the event, customers can trade in their old roll of painter’s tape and receive a new, free roll from Painter’s Mate Green brand painter’s tape. All 16 Lowe’s Canada locations in Ontario will have Painter’s Mate Green representatives on-hand to collect and exchange the tape.

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August 20, 2010

July Leading Indicators Slow

Canada’s index of leading economic indicators increased slightly by 0.4 per cent in July, after a gain of 0.7 per cent in June, says Statistics Canada. The deceleration – the lowest since June 2009 – originated mostly in the household sector, which continued to weaken in housing starts and sales, with a monthly decline of 4.1 per cent. This was also reflected in a 0.6 per cent drop in retail sales indicators, furniture and appliance sales, StatsCan says. The manufacturing sector, however, continued to recover steadily. New orders for durable goods rose 2.2 per cent, a sixth straight advance. Rising shipments were behind the improving ratio of shipments to sales.

Exclusivity Resonating Well, Huggins Says

Providing exclusivity to brands such as Stainmaster and Para Paints has been “exciting,” says Alan Huggins, president, Lowe's Canada. It’s one of the company’s most successful strategies, and resonating well with Canadian consumers. “If you can take a brand – one that customers recognize and believe in – and tie it into your own brand, I think that works very effectively,” he says. For more of Huggins’ views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

GE Wins Fourth Consecutive Award

GE became the first parts supplier to receive the ‘Sears Partners in Progress’ award four years in a row. It also scored the highest marks in GE's history of earning the honour. Recognizing the best performers in Sears' vendor/supplier community, winners are selected from nominations submitted by Sears' employees who purchase goods and services for the company. The win comes as a result of high parts availability, on-time shipments, and the responsiveness of the sales and IT teams.

Valspar Posts Third-quarter Gain

Paints and coatings producer, Valspar Corporation, reported third-quarter sales of $873.9 million, up 10 per cent from $794.5 million in the same year-ago period. Quarterly net income was also up 15.7 per cent to $75.1 million, compared to last year’s $64.9 million. The company also announced it completed the purchase of metal packaging coatings assets from Japan-based specialty chemical manufacturer, DIC Corp. The deal includes DIC’s manufacturing site in Bangalore, India.

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August 19, 2010

JELD-WEN Founder Passes Away

JELD-WEN founder Richard (Dick) Wendt passed away on Saturday, August 14, 2010 from complications arising after a stroke. He was 79. Wendt founded the international window and door company in 1970 and expanded its North American operations in 1996. In 1969, Wendt began the JELD-WEN Foundation to provide funding for endeavors in communities. To date, the Foundation has given more than $80 million dollars to causes. To celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, employees were challenged to donate 50 hours of volunteer time to a local, non-profit organization. “We wanted to help Dick celebrate this milestone by giving back to the communities that have supported us,” says Chris Sheldon, director of marketing. “These events align with his commitment to helping worthwhile charities and we¹re glad that Dick had a chance to see his vision in action before his unfortunate passing.”

CanWel Names Presidents

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. appointed Bob Simko, previously president and CEO of Broadleaf Logistics Company, to the new role of president of the Company's CanWel+Broadleaf Division. As well, Robert Downs will assume the role of President with the CanWel Hardware Division. The appointments are effective September 7th, 2010. Both individuals will report directly to Amar S. Doman, chairman and CEO of the Company.

Owens Corning Appoints First Canadian VP

Owens Corning has promoted Canadian national sales director, Ric McFadden, to the role of vice-president of Building Materials, Canada, effective immediately. The appointment makes McFadden Owens Corning Canada’s first-ever vice president. “The Canadian market is important to Owens Corning, and Ric’s promotion reflects the great job he has done in taking care of our customers and growing our business in this market,” said Tom Quigley, vice-president and general manager, Owens Corning residential insulation. McFadden will continue to be based in Toronto and report to Quigley.

NHS Partners With Innovation Network

The National Hardware Show will be one of several organizations partnering with the North American Product Innovation NetworkSM, a first of its kind gateway for providing inventors easy access to North American companies seeking product innovation available for wholesale, license, or acquisition. Introduced earlier this month by Monroeville, PA-based InventionHome, the network consists of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, DRTV/infomercial companies, and retailers that have registered with InventionHome or its affiliate, MatchProduct.com. "Our goal is to create a single point of entry, or gateway, into every North American company that is interested in product innovation," said Russell Williams, president of InventionHome. "We have created the network and system for sharing and submitting new products with companies in a more efficient and effective way than ever before."

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August 18, 2010

Home Depot Second-quarter Sales Up

The Home Depot announced second-quarter sales of $19.4 billion, a 1.8 per cent increase over the same year-ago period. Comparable store sales for the quarter were up 1.7 per cent as well, and comparable sales for U.S. stores were up one per cent. Quarterly net earnings rose 6.8 per cent, thanks to a slight increase in store traffic and share repurchases. Yet consumers are sticking with more inexpensive projects such as small repair and simple decor, dampening results in higher-end categories such as appliance and building material sales, it said. Rival Lowe’s, whcih also released its second-quarter results, posted a more favourable 9.6 per cent increase in net earnings and a sales increase of 3.7 per cent.

International Sales Boost Wal-Mart Results

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 3.6 per cent rise in second-quarter profit, thanks to demand from overseas markets offsetting flat sales in the U.S. Revenue rose almost three per cent to $103.7 billion, while sales from Wal-Mart International rose 11 per cent to $26 billion for the quarter, with strong performances in Mexico, Brazil, and China. Second-quarter same-store sales in the U.S. fell 1.8 per cent. Revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1.4 per cent. For the third quarter, Wal-Mart expects revenue at stores open at least a year to range from a decline of two percent to an increase of one per cent. "The slow economic recovery will continue to affect our customers, and we expect they will remain cautious about spending," said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart's CEO.

Sears Revenue Down Second Quarter

Sears Canada Inc. had total revenues of $1.213 billion for its second quarter, compared to $1.250 billion for the same 2009 period – a decrease of three per cent. Same store sales also fell 2.4 per cent. "Our results reflect a continuing downward trend in consumer confidence caused by high unemployment and other factors,” said Dene Rogers, president and CEO. In response, it will be offering programs, such as new financing terms for “cost-conscious” consumers and custom furniture with thousands of options for customers to design sofas, tables, and other home furnishings at no additional.

Not Compromising Values, Dutton Says

“Globalization has brought consolidation” and made competitors, as well as suppliers, bigger over the years, says Robert Dutton, president and CEO, RONA inc. Pursuing consolidation through its “four growth vectors,” has allowed it to grow and remain competitive across Canada, he says. Yet expanding, “without the need to compromise on our ethical values,” is what he’s most proud of so far. For more of Dutton’s views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

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August 17, 2010

Lowe’s Quarterly Earnings Increase

Lowe's Cos.’ second-quarter earnings increased 9.6 per cent to $832 million. Quarterly sales increased 3.7 per cent to $14.4 billion, up from $13.8 billion in the comparable 2009 period, and sales in stores open at least one year increased 1.6 per cent. The summer heat drove demand for appliances, the company said, however unemployment and weak home values curbed spending on kitchen remodeling and other more-expensive projects. “With limited visibility into near-term demand, we continue to focus on operational efficiency to create value for our shareholders. Longer-term, we believe improvements in labor and housing markets will be necessary to support more consistent improvement in demand for home improvement products,” said Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO. 

Ace Revenue Up, Income Down

Ace Hardware Corporation had second-quarter revenues of $1.016 billion, up 4.4 per cent from $973.1 million in the same quarter of 2009. Net income was $28.8 million for the second quarter of 2010, a decrease of 31.6 per cent, compared to $42.1 million in the same 2009 period. Merchandise sales to comparable stores in the second quarter increased $22.1 million. It added 32 new stores and cancelled 37 stores in the quarter, bringing its total store count to 4,459. On a category basis, the strongest selling categories were tools, lawn and garden, and electrical.

IRLY Names Account Manager

IRLY Distributors (Independent Retail Lumber Yards) has named David Carnegie its account manager. Carnegie joins IRLY with 33 years of sales experience with 3M. In his new position, he will be focusing mainly on IRLY’s industrial accounts.

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August 16, 2010

RONA Lespérance Opens New Store

RONA Lespérance celebrated the opening of its new 49,500-square-foot store in Blainville, QC. The new store, which was converted from an existing building, represents an investment of more than $6 million to the local community. Owner André Lespérance joined the family business in the 1980s, and teamed up with RONA a few years later. He says the new store’s policy will be to offer the best range of products and service, with special emphasis on doing things the “eco-responsible way.”

Taking CanWel Public Proudest Moment

Taking his company public in 2004 ranks as one of his proudest moments, says Amar S. Doman, CanWel Building Material’s CEO and chairman of the board. It allowed “all of our great employees to become owners and it raised the capital required to fuel growth plans for the company going forward. Both have worked very well,” he says. For more of Doman's views and those of other industry leaders on the significant events of the last 15 years, see Home Improvement Retailing's '15th Anniversary Issue' this September.

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August 13, 2010

Canadian Tire Earnings Up 15%

Canadian Tire Corp. posted second-quarter net earnings of $119.9 million, up 15.6 per cent from $103.7 million in the comparable 2009 period. Total retail sales in the quarter increased 1.3 per cent and same store sales were up 0.8 per cent versus the same year-ago period. Sales increased in key categories, such as gardening and backyard living and kitchen and household cleaning. However, strong growth in these categories was partially offset by soft performance in the automotive business, expected to continue throughout 2010. Financial Services' revenue increased by 2.1 per cent over, the company says, a result of an increase in credit card interest earned from higher average credit card receivables balances. "The continued strong recovery of Financial Services has contributed to our earnings growth in the quarter," said Stephen Wetmore, president and CEO.

CHHMA Launches Site

The CHHMA (Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association) announced the redesign of its website at www.chhma.ca. In addition to the refreshed look, the site now features fold-out menu options and a site search to make browsing and navigation easier and retrieval of information faster.

H. Paulin Sales Rise

H. Paulin & Co. reported second-quarter sales of $37.98 million, up from $35.68 million in the same period of 2009. The Canadian manufacturer and merchandiser of bolts, nuts, and screws also posted a net income of $1.51 million, down slightly from $1.59 million in the comparable year-ago period.

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August 12, 2010

RONA Reports Quarterly Growth

RONA’s second-quarter net earnings were up 11.6 per cent compared to the same 2009 period, despite a shift in buying patterns, it says. Quarterly sales also increased 2.1 per cent and same store sales grew by 0.9 per cent over the comparable period. In the retail segment, RONA says the lumber and HVAC categories were strong but the seasonal and horticultural categories were weak due to unfavourable weather and delays in imports from China. “The Company was able to achieve growth across-the-board in sales, EBITDA, and net earnings, notwithstanding what appears to have been a slowdown in economic recovery, particularly in the housing market,” stated Robert Dutton, president and CEO. “In addition, we were faced with a shift in buying patterns... because of favourable weather conditions and renovation tax credit incentives.” It also made “good progress” on strengthening its brand in the Atlantic region, Dutton said, by acquiring the Pierceys chain of stores, and by signing Moffatt & Powell Limited to increase its presence in Southwest Ontario.

Home Hardware Driver Grand Champ

Home Hardware Stores Limited truck driver, Shawn Matheson, became Grand Champion at the Ontario Truck Driving Championships – taking first place in the Tandem Tandem class and receiving the highest points overall. Matheson, of Listowel, ON, along with other winners, will be representing Ontario at the National Professional Truck Driving Championships, September 16 to 19 in Winnipeg, MB. Home Hardware was also represented at the championships by Ernest Streicher who placed second in the B-Train class and Wayne Ballagh, who placed third. Joe Kuntz placed second in straight truck and Bryon Winfield placed fourth in single tandem class.

Broadleaf Giving Away $100 Visa Card

As part of its Finex Fibre Cement Panels introduction, Broadleaf Logistics is giving away a $100 Visa card to one lucky survey participant, following a soon-to-be-announced draw. To enter, visit the Finex Fibre Cement promotional page by clicking here. The campaign is a part of Broadleaf’s weekly ‘Product Spotlight’ through Home Improvement Retailing magazine.

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August 11, 2010

Cast Polymer Demand Looking Up

Global demand for cast polymers is expected to increase 8.7 per cent annually to 256 million square meters in 2014, says a new study from research firm The Freedonia Group, Inc. About 60 per cent of the growth will come from China and its developing domestic cast polymer industry and construction sector. China’s ongoing urbanization and development of a more modern housing stock will help boost gains. As well, the study finds India will see somewhat stronger gains through the period as it also develops additional and more modern housing, schools, hospitals, transportation, and terminals. Gains, however, in many of the least developed countries will be limited by the typically small size of the homes, and the limited ability to finance the use of higher-value building materials such as cast polymers. Western Europe and North America were the next largest markets in 2009, each accounting for more than ten percent of global sales. Gains in both will come from the projected recovery of the new housing market from a depressed 2009 base.

Scotts Posts Third-quarter Gain

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. reported a 19 per cent increase in third-quarter earnings, thanks to strong consumer demand and improved margins, the company says. It had quarterly sales of $1.24 billion, up one per cent from the year-ago quarter; and its adjusted operating income increased six per cent to $22.8 million, compared with $21.6 million a year ago. In response, the company's board authorized a four-year, $500 million share-buyback program as the quarterly dividend was doubled to 25 cents a share. "Our continued success demonstrates the power of our brands with consumers, the strength of our retail partnerships, and the resiliency of our category," said Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO.

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August 10, 2010

IKEA Reveals Catalogue Trends

The 2011 IKEA Catalogue, in its 60th year of production, features four new overall trends among its products and designs. The trend colour of the year is ‘Blue,’ the company says, from turquoise, indigo, and cobalt to deep navy, it can provide a sense of calm and depth to homes. Another trend is ‘Architectural,’ which reflects sculptural pieces of furniture and accessories – mainly in white or punchy red – with clean lines and graphic shapes. ‘Folkloric’ is “the new haute folk style,” a reinterpretation of ethnic and global influences, featuring simple shapes embellished by embroidery and other hand-sewn details, along with flowers, birds, and fruit as the prominent motifs. And ‘New Utility’ represents industrial style popularized by people living in reclaimed spaces and defined by exposed parts and simple materials like wood and steel.

Weyerhaeuser Up Second Quarter

Forest-products company Weyerhaeuser announced second-quarter net sales of $1.8 billion, up 28.5 per cent compared to the same 2009 period. Quarterly net earnings were $14 million, versus a net loss of $106 million in the same year-ago period. "In the second quarter we returned to profitability and all businesses were cash positive from operations," said Dan Fulton, president and CEO. “I'm encouraged by our ability to profitably manage operations in an uncertain climate and with the lack of a sustained housing recovery.”

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August 9 , 2010

Owens Corning Sales Improve

Owens Corning’s consolidated net sales increased 13 per cent to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, compared to $1.2 billion in the comparable 2009 period. Second-quarter net earnings were $937 million compared with net earnings of $33 million in the second quarter of 2009. Increased global demand in composites helped improve capacity utilization, the company says, and strong roofing results highlighted performance in the Building Materials segment. Insulation losses narrowed despite continued weakness in the U.S. housing market. “The strength and diversity of our business portfolio produced another great quarter,” said Mike Thaman, chairman and CEO.

Business Confidence Down

Optimism among Canada's small- and medium-sized business owners has experienced its third decline in the past four months, according to the latest business confidence survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer index fell modestly to 65.7 in July, compared to 66.4 in June (index above 50 means owners expect stronger business performance next year). "The estimates for July have fallen in eight of 13 industry groupings and seven out of 10 provinces, suggesting the economy is settling into a phase of slower growth," says CFIB vice-president, Ted Mallett. Regionally, strength is concentrated in Newfoundland & Labrador and B.C., with indexes of 71.9 and 70.3 respectively. New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta are within the 65 to 68 range, while optimism levels in Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are a few points below the average.

Ace Names General Managers

Ace Hardware Corporation appointed Mary Rice as president/general manager, paint; and Ken Goodgame as general merchandise manager. Rice, filling a new position, has worked in the paint industry for more than 20 years. She most recently served as vice-president of marketing for paint, colour, and interactive designs for BEHR Paints. Goodgame most recently served as president of both Baja Motorsports and Direct Tools Factory Outlets at Techtronic Industries North America. He has seven years of merchandising experience at The Home Depot and served as president for Rubbermaid Cleaning and BernzOmatic.

Sears Re-opens Dealer Store

Sears Canada re-opened its 726 square-foot Dealer Store in Princeton, BC. Owned and operated by Murray and Cathy, the new store will house a selection of major appliances, parts and tools, electronics, and seasonal items, including exclusive brands Kenmore and Craftsman. In celebration of the opening, the owners will be presenting a $500 cheque from the Sears in Your Community program to the store's local charitable partner, Princeton Child-Care Services Society.

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August 6 , 2010

June Building Permits Rebound

The value of building permits totalled $6.6 billion in June, representing a rebound of 6.5 per cent from May and a 24.9 per cent increase from June 2009, says Statistics Canada. The monthly gain is accredited to the non-residential sector, which more than offset the decline in the residential sector. The value of permits increased 23.5 per cent in the non-residential sector from May to $3 billion in June, thanks to higher commercial and institutional construction intentions in Ontario and higher commercial construction intentions in Alberta. In the residential sector, the value of permits fell 4.5 per cent from May to $3.6 billion in June, a result of a drop in single-family housing permits, the third consecutive monthly decrease. The total value of permits was up in six provinces, led by Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and B.C. Saskatchewan posted the largest decrease.

Less Back-to-school Spending Planned

Six-in-ten American families with children at home (62 per cent) plan to spend less this year than last or nothing at all on back-to-school shopping, says the U.S. RBC Consumer Outlook Index. Nine per cent say they plan to spend more and 29 per cent say they will spend about the same this year. The RBC Consumer Outlook Index rebounded this month, up to 63.9, compared to 47.2 in July – driven mainly by less negative sentiment about job security and future economic prospects. "The pull-back in back-to-school shopping is a true sign of the times," says Tom Porcelli, U.S. Market economist at RBC Capital Markets. "The economic recovery has been slow and uneven leading to diminished expectations for many Americans.”

Master Lock Expanding Hasp Line

Master Lock is expanding their current lockout hasp line to fit smaller lockout holes, such as small electrical throw switches, miniature circuit breakers, and the new fluid valves being manufactured today. The S430 is made with a 4mm (1/8") diameter steel shackle, and is compact and lightweight to suit these new applications. Master Lock says no other companies are manufacturing hasps in the 4mm size.

Nicholson and Cates Makes Installation ‘Easier’

Burlington Ontario-based Nicholson and Cates launched its Easy-Pine factory-finished interior paneling for walls and ceilings, featuring ‘quick-lock’ ends “that make installation faster, easier, and less expensive,” the company says. All of the features mean it will be about 20 per cent less than the cost of buying unfinished pine and professionally finishing it in-home, says Rick McQuin, vice-president of Market Development.

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August 5 , 2010

Ace Ranked Highest

The J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Home Improvement Retail Store Satisfaction Study ranked Ace Hardware the ‘Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Major Home Improvement Retail Stores’ for the fourth consecutive year. The study is based on responses from more than 6,400 consumers who purchased home improvement products or services in the previous 12 months. Ace ranked highest among major retailers with an overall satisfaction index score of 791 on a 1,000-point scale. According to consumers, Ace performs particularly well in the staff and service and store facility categories. “Each of our retailer-owned stores takes great pride in the message of helpfulness that we champion,” said Ray Griffith, president and CEO of Ace Hardware.

Bay, NCR Enhance Gift Registry Experience

Hudson’s Bay Company and the NCR Corporation formed a partnership that ensures the deployment of NCRs’ SelfServe 60 kiosk systems at the Bay and Home Outfitter locations across the country. The roll-out, which took place between December 2009 and March 2010, will improve gift-registry systems by enhancing speed, graphics, and monitors, and through capacitive touch technology, reduced power consumption, and double-sided printing for lower environmental impact. “This exciting initiative allows us to build upon the success of our gift registry business at the Bay and Home Outfitters, and continue to enhance our customer experience in-store with new and innovative technologies,” said Stella Farrace, national sales & service manager at Hudson’s Bay.

Henkel Reports Quarterly Growth

Germany-based Henkel reported second-quarter sales of 3,890 million euros, representing an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to the prior-year quarter. After adjusting for foreign exchange, sales improved by six per cent. Quarterly growth was driven by a 13.6 per cent increase in Adhesive Technologies and a five per cent increase in Cosmetics/Toiletries. "Our excellent performance in the second quarter was once again due to our strong brands and successful innovations… As a consequence we are now looking forward to an improvement of more than 25 per cent in earnings versus 2009," said Kasper Rorsted, chairman of the Henkel Management Board.

Fiberon ‘Ramping Up’ Production

Composite and PVC decking manufacturer, Fiberon, says it is ramping up production of its Horizon Decking product line, despite “the most challenging economy in several decades.” Due to “overwhelming demand,” it is adding manufacturing capabilities at both its facilities in New London, N.C. and in Meridian, ID to keep up with demand. “The response to the Horizon product line has been so overwhelming that we have had to invest rapidly in expanding our capacity,” said Doug Mancosh, CEO and owner of Fiberon, LLC. “Since January 2010, we have increased our production capacity by 300 per cent and have plans for further expansion.”

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August 4 , 2010

CanWel Reports Record Sales

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. posted second-quarter sales of $404 million compared to $185 million in the comparable period of 2009. Quarterly gross margin was $43.7 million or 10.8 per cent of sales versus $25.4 million or 13.7 per cent of sales in 2009. The results represent the first full quarter of operations from the acquisition of the Broadleaf Logistics Company, along with the associated increased pricing and volume for construction materials. "I am very proud and pleased to report record revenues and earnings generated by the combination of CanWel and Broadleaf Logistics during our first full quarter as one company," said Amar S. Doman, chairman and CEO. "While our record sales and earnings in the second quarter are due to strong operational efficiencies, higher pricing on certain building materials, and robust demand in most regions of the country, we continue to work on our integration efforts which are expected to further strengthen the foundation of our earnings profile."

Milwaukee Announces Transition

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation will begin the transition of all V28 cordless power tools to the new M28 LITHIUM-ION battery pack. The new products will be completely compatible with current V28 products, as the tools themselves will not change. “One of the largest advantages of the transition is that users are able to instantly upgrade the performance, run-time and durability of the V28 tools they already own, simply by switching to the improved M28 battery pack,” says Christian Coulis, senior product manager.

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August 3 , 2010

Moffatt & Powell Join RONA

Independent dealer-owner Moffatt & Powell Limited has joined the RONA network. The group of stores – located in London, Mitchell, Strathroy, Tillsonburg, and Watford, Ontario – represent the first from the Independent Lumber Dealers Co-Operative (ILDC) to join RONA. The stores range in size from 2,500 to 7,500 square feet for a total of 26,000 square feet of retail space, and generate more than $30 million in annual retail sales.Co-founded by Melvin Powell and J. Keith Moffatt in 1956, it is now co-owned by David Powell, who will soon hand over management duties to his 32-year-old daughter Nancy Powell Quinn and her husband, D'Arcy Quinn. “Concerned as I am with succession planning, I feel that with RONA I have exactly what they will require in terms of support to help them grow and expand our family business,” said David Powell.

Newell Rubbermaid Posts Strong Quarter

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. reported second-quarter net income of $130.4 million for the three months ended June 30, up from $105.7 million in the comparable year-ago period. Revenue slipped to $1.496 billion from $1.504 billion, but the company said sales of its core items rose 1.5 percent. Strong consumer demand in Latin America and improvements in distribution helped boost its core sales, said CEO Mark Ketchum. Improved productivity and a greater proportion of sales of higher-priced items also helped boost profit margins, the company said.

Broadleaf Giving Away Century Jacket

Broadleaf Logistics is giving away a Century Aluminum Railings jacket to one lucky survey participant, following a soon-to-be-announced draw. The campaign is a part of Broadleaf’s weekly ‘Product Spotlight’ through Home Improvement Retailing magazine.

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July 30, 2010

Wooster Names New President

After 42 years of service with The Wooster Brush Company, Allan K. Rodd will be retiring as president and treasurer. Effective Aug. 1, 2010, William S. Fagert will become the new president -- only the ninth president in the 160-year history of the company. Fagert joined Wooster Brush in 1985 and has held various finance positions including accounting manager, assistant treasurer, controller, and, most recently, vice-president of finance. “I’m confident Bill will continue in the Wooster Brush Way, building on our past success. I leave my duties, pressures, fun things, and sense of hopeful anticipation in his capable hands,” said Rodd, who, in retirement, will continue to serve as vice-chairman of the board of directors.

Tembec Up Third Quarter

Forest products company, Tembec, reported third-quarter consolidated sales of $545 million, up from $407 million in the 2009 comparable period. The Quebec-based company generated quarterly net earnings of $59 million compared to a net loss of $38 million in the same year-ago quarter. Operating earnings before depreciation, amortization and other non-recurring items (EBITDA) was $60 million, compared to negative $42 million a year ago. “The June quarterly EBITDA of $60 million was a significant improvement over the prior quarter and well ahead of fiscal 2009 performance," the company said.

Liquidations World Offer ‘Going Well’

Discount store chain Liquidation World Inc. says its brokered private placement of up to 11,765,000 common shares – which is expected to raise $10,000,250 – is progressing well. The offering price of $0.85 per share for gross proceeds to the company is expected to close on or about Aug. 5, 2010. The Brantford, ON-based company says net proceeds from the offering will be used to fund its general corporate and working capital purposes, and will be conditional upon, among other things, the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, including shareholder approval.

GHI Launches Membrane Line

Roof coatings/adhesives manufacturer, GH International, has launched the first of what will be a new product family – the ‘EXCEL MS Liquid Detailing Membrane.’ The Mississauga, ON-based company says the high-end waterproofing liquid is specially formulated to seal around roofing details, such as dormers, valleys, wind turbines, and vanes. And thanks to Modified Silicone (MS), the coating is ideal for both residential use and the demands of commercial waterproofing applications, the comany says. view PDF

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July 29, 2010

Masco Sales Improve

Masco Corp. says its second-quarter sales increased by about two per cent compared to year-ago levels, to $2.05 billion. Quarterly profit, however, dropped to $55 million from $59 million (before special items) in the same 2009 quarter. Operating profit (adjusted) increased by $24 million to $170 million from the second quarter of 2009. The building products maker says results were positively impacted by improved sales volume of plumbing products, windows, and paints and stains. It also benefited from business rationalizations measures, including business consolidations, plant closures, headcount reductions, system implementations, and other cost savings.

GHI Introduces New Look

Roof coatings/adhesives manufacturer, GH International, has launched a new look under its Excel brand name. The new branding is meant to boost products – such as Roof Proof, Black Jack, and Crack Crete – by delivering shelf facings with greater visual impact and a consistent look across all product lines. The Mississauga, ON-based company says all tubes will now feature wraparound labels in GHI’s corporate burgundy for further brand association, and colour-coded stripes to differentiate each type of products. view PDF

Stanley Gearing Up For Fall, Holidays

Stanley says it’s gearing up for the fall and holidays with several new products.  Among the launches is its ‘Waterproof Spotlight,’ which emits light when dropped in water, and floats for easy retrieval; its ‘High Intensity Discharge Spotlight,’ which emits 3,000 lumens and is six times brighter than competing products; its ‘Rhino Digital Power Station,’ which provides electric power on the go for devices with two household outlets, DC port, and USB port; and its ‘Total Garage Centre’ – a rolling station that features a car battery charger, code reader used by professional mechanics, and a powerful 120 PSI inflator. 

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July 28, 2010

Fear Drains Confidence

Fears of an economic slowdown or worse are draining consumer confidence in Canada, says a Conference Board of Canada survey. Unlike in June, when the lack of confidence was restricted to Ontario and British Columbia, it says all regions are now more bearish, particularly on the issue of future job prospects. However, in recent months, Canadian job growth has been far greater than expected with 93,000 jobs added in June.

Quebec Shoppers More Loyal

Despite the fact that discount retailers are attracting more customers, more often, in all regions of Canada, shoppers in Quebec profess the most loyalty to established stores such as Sears and Canadian Tire, says the COLLOQUY ‘Canadian Retail Loyalty Index.’ This suggests that deep discounts are not the only way to Quebecers' hearts and wallets. However, the importance of customer service in driving shopper loyalty in Quebec has dropped by 25 per cent since 2008, falling from first to third place behind competitive price and quality products.

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July 27, 2010

Price Drives Shopper Loyalty

Customer service has been knocked off its perch by low prices as the leading factor driving shopper loyalty, says the ‘COLLOQUY Canadian Retail Loyalty Index.’ It shows that the importance of customer service has plummeted by almost 20 per cent since 2008 as discount retailers make major gains in Canada. Despite the large drop in the importance customer service plays as a loyalty driver in Canada, the Canadian experience pales in complexion to the US, where a study revealed that low prices have become even further entrenched since 2008, leaving little room for retailers to win on anything but price.

Cement Demand To Grow

Demand for cement and concrete additives is forecast to increase at nearly double-digit rates through 2014 to $3 billion, says a study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. ‘Cement & Concrete Additives’ says a rebound in the housing market will promote growth, as the residential segment is a significant outlet for components that utilize cement and concrete. Gains will stem from increasing awareness of the advantages afforded to additive-modified concrete in applications such as walls, countertops and flooring, as well as the traditional applications of driveways and patios. Other factors contributing to gains include solid levels of highway and street spending, rising utilization of industrial byproducts in concrete, as well as an increased focus on the production of durable and long-lasting concrete structures through the use of chemical and fiber additives. Further gains will be limited by a significant deceleration in non-residential building activity.

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July 26, 2010

Sears Opens Two Dealer Stores

Sears Canada opened two Dealer Stores – a 1,200 square-foot store in Claresholm, AB, owned and operated by Launa Deering; and an 800 square-foot store in Blind River, ON, owned and operated by Danielle Wilkins. The stores will house a selection of major appliances, air and water treatment products, hardware, electronics, and seasonal items, including exclusive brands Kenmore and Craftsman. Sears Canada now has a network of 219 dealer stores, along with 197 corporate stores.

Hino Launches 2011 MDT Line-up

Hino Motors Canada, Ltd., a Toyota Group Company, will launch its re-designed 2011 medium duty truck (MDT) line-up in September. The line-up will feature functional improvements to enhance flexibility and driver comfort, efficiency, and safety, Hino says. It will also feature technological improvements to meet new emissions regulations and applied technology to reduce fuel consumption by three to five per cent. “The launch of these new trucks is a milestone for Hino... The environment will benefit from advanced SCR emissions controls that are fully EPA2010 emissions compliant. New chassis configurations and power improvements will open up new market opportunities for our products,” says Eric Smith, national sales manager.

Rally Helps West Fraser

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. has benefited from a short, but strong rally in lumber prices and growing sales to Asia this year as it managed a solid quarterly profit. All parts of the company contributed to its earnings in the second quarter ended June 30 with a profit of $63.3 million. That compared with a loss of $39.1 million a year ago in the same quarter. It shipped 18 per cent of its Canadian lumber in the quarter primarily to Japan and China, versus 12 per cent in the same quarter last year. In the quarter, revenue totalled $772.2 million, up from $611.8 million.

Taiga Net Sales Increase

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had net sales for the quarter ended June 30 of $294.4 million compared to $246.9 million over the same period last year, an increase of $47.5 million or 19.2 per cent. The increase was due to strong demand, higher commodity prices, and very weak comparable sales performance in the prior period as a result of the international credit crisis. Net earnings were $5.5 million, a decrease of $1.1 million compared to $6.6 million over the same period last year. These decreases were primarily due to little foreign exchange fluctuation during the quarter compared to the prior period.

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July 23, 2010

Building Material Sales Down In May

Retail sales dropped slightly by 0.2 per cent to $36 billion in May, says Statistics Canada, with lower sales reported in six of 11 subsectors. However sales in volume terms increased 0.4 per cent. The greatest decline was a 4.1 per cent drop at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers – a subsector that’s seen fluctuating monthly levels in recent months, StatsCan says. After declining for three consecutive months, sales at furniture and home furnishing stores were up 0.8 per cent. In the five subsectors that registered higher sales in May, the largest percentage increase was at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+2.6 per cent). Regionally, sales in Quebec were down 1.8 per cent, which was reflected by a lower volume of new motor vehicles sold. Retail sales were down in all Atlantic provinces except New Brunswick (+1.2 per cent). B.C. (+1.5 per cent) posted the largest increase, while sales in Ontario edged up 0.1 per cent.

Hyde Tools Names President

Hyde Tools, Inc. has named Robert Scoble president and chief operating officer. Scoble succeeds Richard M. Clemence who has stepped forward to lead the Hyde Group as CEO. After more than 20 years of leadership in other privately held companies, Scoble joined the Hyde Group family of companies in 2005 as vice president of sales and marketing. Over the last five years, Scoble has been credited with strengthening the Hyde brand, recruiting new leadership, and creating a new global sales and marketing team.

American Insulock Restructuring

American Insulock Inc. has completed Phase 1 of restructuring and financial stabilization of the company, it says, and is meeting all financial obligations for daily operations. During the past six months, it has made significant improvements under the leadership of President Robert Jamieson Sr., through an exclusive manufacturing alliance and affiliations to market its Insulock Block products. Phase 2 is now being executed to initiate revenues for the company, with the aim of positioning it “as a dominant force in the building products industry.”

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July 22, 2010

Merger Costs Hamper Stanley B&D Results

Stanley Black & Decker reported second-quarter earnings of $45.8 million, compared to $69.5 million in the same year-ago period. The results, however, were hampered by one-time items related to its acquisition of Black & Decker, it says. On a pro forma basis, assuming Black & Decker results were included a year ago, revenue rose 13 per cent. With the inclusion of Black & Decker this quarter, revenue grew 157 per cent to $2.37 billion. Not including one-time charges related to the buyout of Black & Decker, Stanley would have earned $206.1 million, it says. The $3.5 billion stock buyout, approved in March, included a variety of inventory charges, facility closures, severance, and other costs that amounted to $160.3 million in the quarter. “Stanley Black & Decker experienced strong operating profit growth and cash flow in the majority of our businesses and regions throughout the second quarter… I am delighted by the outstanding progress thus far on the Stanley Black & Decker integration and am pleased to report that our respective associates are working well together… ”

Consumer Optimism Flattened Out

While optimism among Canadian consumers has risen steadily over the past year, economic expectations may have now “flattened out,” according to Toronto-based advertising agency, Bensimon Byrne. The firm’s quarterly ‘Consumerology Report’ found that exactly 50 per cent of Canadians are feeling worse off than they did one year ago during the recession; one third feel they are still living in a recession; and 21 per cent worry that someone in their household might lose their job this year. However, a strong majority of 79 per cent believe that in one year, the economy will be stronger than it is today. "With half of Canadians not feeling any personal recovery and a stubborn one third who are saying they still feel they are in a recession, we can expect consumer spending to remain constrained," says Jack Bensimon, president.   

RCC Commends Eco Fee Reversal

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) said it supports the government’s reversal of eco-fees and a 90-day reassessment of Phase II of the Ontario Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste program (MHSW) introduced on July 1. The RCC commended Environment Minister Gerretsen and the Government of Ontario for acknowledging the confusion. "Our hope is that we can take the next few months to work with the government and Stewardship Ontario to build on the successes of other waste diversion initiatives already in place in Ontario," said Diane J. Brisebois, RCC president and CEO. "This is an opportunity to get all of the stakeholders together – consumers, retailers, manufacturers, and others – to create a workable program that will ensure hazardous materials are not ending up in Ontario landfills and waterways."

Broadleaf Launches Fortress Railing Contest

Broadleaf Logistics announced it would award a $100 CAN VISA gift card and Fortress Railing Polo shirt to one lucky survey participant, following a draw on Friday, July 23. The campaign is a part of its weekly ‘Product Spotlight’ through Home Improvement Retailing magazine.

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July 21, 2010

Canadian Tire Prompts Eco Fee Cancellation

Following an announcement by Canadian Tire, calling the controversial eco fees “confusing to our customers,” the Ontario government says it will halt the program that affects thousands of potentially toxic household products. Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen confirmed the new fees, launched July 1st, will stop and that he takes "full responsibility" for not better communicating the introduction of the charges. The government will in the meantime take 90 days to re-evaluate the program. The reversal came shortly after Canadian Tire announced that the “roll out of this program was poorly handled by all involved,” and that it would suspend charging it until a better system is developed. The problem, according to Canadian Tire, is that Stewardship Ontario – the agency responsible for running the program – “set up a very complicated fee for 'materials' instead of 'products’,” which means that two similar brands of cleaning products could have two different eco fees depending on slight variations, leaving the interpretation of fees up to retailers. Thus, five different retailers could charge five different eco-fees for the exact same product.

Home Hardware Presents $50,000 Makeover

Stewart Sebben's backyard will receive a $50,000 overhaul thanks to Home Hardware's $50,000 ‘Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest.’ The contest ran across Canada from April 5 to May 30 and saw more than 500,000 Canadians submit ballots. Sebben received the prize at a special celebration ceremony at his local Home Hardware in Orangeville, ON. The prize can be used for a major project, such as a new deck, shed, or interlocking brick; and other backyard items. "On behalf of Home Hardware, Buddy Pitt, and his staff at Orangeville Home Hardware Building Centre we are thrilled to present a prize of this magnitude to Stewart," said Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO.

Ace Bikers Aim To Raise $100,000

A group of Ace Hardware employees and partners are set to embark on its third annual ‘Motorcycle Miracle Mission,’ a journey of more than 600 miles from Ace’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, IL to Iowa City, IA, and back. From July 23 to 25, the group – made up of more than 15 corporate employees, retailers, and vendor partners – will aim to raise $100,000 for Children’s Miracle Network, as they visit Ace’s distribution center, present donations to two children’s hospitals, and make appearances at two Ace stores along the route. 

Additive Delivers Less Toxicity

Sansin Corporation announced the introduction of a new additive for its wood stain, which will deliver dye-like colour with a fraction of the toxicity found in conventional, solvent-based dyes. “The challenge for our industry has been that no matter how low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) you get the base stain, you will see a dramatic increase in VOC content – sometimes as much as 100 per cent – once colour is added,” said Sjoerd Bos, vice-president. Its new Eco-Tone uses pure pigments, ground so fine they are able to combine for a more sustainable ‘green’ alternative to traditional dyes, the company says.

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July 20, 2010

Beacon Expands Canadian Presence

Massachusetts-based Beacon Roofing Supply has acquired Posi-Slope Enterprises Inc. and its sister company Posi-Pentes, located in Ontario and Quebec, specializing in the design and fabrication of tapered roof insulation systems. Beacon says the acquisition complements its existing tapered insulation business in Eastern Canada and will allow it to expand its presence in Ontario. Beacon will retain the top management and the employees of the acquired companies. Beacon currently consists of 178 locations across 37 states and three Canadian provinces. Louis Zammit, who will remain president of Posi-Slope, says "I am pleased for Posi-Slope and our employees to continue as part of the Beacon family. This will allow us to better serve our existing tapered insulation customers across Canada and expand our reach to Beacon's customers.”

Walmart First To Achieve Zero-Waste

Walmart’s Bridgewater, Nova Scotia location was recognized as the first store in Canada to achieve zero waste – representing 557,918,615 kg of waste not sent to landfills. To achieve zero waste a store must divert at least 95 per cent of its waste from landfill. The Bridgewater store is estimated to have achieved a 98 per cent diversion rate in 2009. The store has accomplished this by, among other things, encouraging customers and staff to use waste sorting stations; implementing reusable plastic crates instead of cardboard boxes; replacing single use, disposable flags for promotions with signs that can be used multiple times; making the lunch room Styrofoam free; and creating a new full-time position to manage waste programs.

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July 19, 2010

Manufacturing Boosts Leading Indicators

The composite leading index was up by one per cent in June, says Statistics Canada, and follows gains of 1.1 per cent in April and May. Growth was spurred mainly by the manufacturing sector as new orders for durable goods rose 2.3 per cent, their fifth straight gain. Capital goods such as aerospace and machinery led growth. Consumer demand for big-ticket durable goods was mixed, says StatsCan. Furniture and appliances continue to increase, but weak auto sales led the drop in other durable goods. The housing index was down 1.9 per cent – existing home sales leading the drop – after a 1.7 per cent decline in May. Housing starts were down, as lower new house sales were reflected in an increase in unsold units.

Richelieu Acquires Gordon

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. has closed the acquisition of Gordon Industrial Materials, based in Montreal, QC. With operations in Montreal and Mississauga, ON, Gordon is a distributor of products for the manufacturing of doors, decorative wall panels, and other specialty products serving hardware retailers, renovation superstores, and industrial markets. The acquisition of the operating assets of Gordon will add annual sales of $15 million to Richelieu's revenues and contributes to its earnings, it says.

Eco Fees, HST Drive Down Confidence

Future concerns are hurting chances for a sustained consumer-led recovery, as long-term confidence in the Canadian economy weakens, according to the latest TNS Canada's ‘Consumer Confidence Index.’ The global study of consumer attitudes, conducted by research agency TNS, says the overall index in Canada dropped 4.5 points from 98.9 in June to 94.4 in July. Bad news filtering through the media, such as the HST in B.C. and Ontario and the ‘eco fee’ in Ontario “is acting like an undertow, pulling down consumers' economic confidence,” says Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS Canada. As well, the Expectations Index, which measures consumers' estimation of the economy, household income, and employment in the next six months, is now down for the fourth consecutive month – declining 1.6 points in July, ending the month at 104.2. Likewise, the Buy Index, which gauges whether the current period is a good time to make major purchases, decreased 9.3 points. The last time this index was this low was January 2009, TNS says.

Consumer Groups Challenge Eco Fees

The Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA) and the Consumers Council of Canada (CCC) called on the Government of Ontario to remove soaps, detergents, and cleaning products from the province's Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) program, which now includes the new eco fee for consumers. “Our industry fully supports the goals of waste diversion, but we believe a fair, effective, cost-efficient and transparent program is needed," says Shannon Coombs, CCSPA president. She says empty soap, detergent, and cleaning product containers have been recycled since 2002, as part of the Blue Box program. "The eco fee consumers are now being asked to pay is based on the contents of those packages."

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July 16, 2010

Canadian Recovery Rate To Slow

Although the Canadian economy sprang out of the recession early this year, the current rate of consumer spending and a fragile recovery in the U.S. will slow the rebound in the second half of 2010, says the Conference Board's ‘Canadian Outlook-Summer 2010.’ "Consumer spending helped to get the economic ball rolling after the recession,” says Pedro Antunes, director, National and Provincial Forecast. “However, spending has been outpacing income growth since the middle of last year, making the current pace unsustainable in the second half of 2010." The Canadian economy is expected to grow by 3.6 per cent this year, with much of the gains in the first six months of 2010. The slowdown in the pace of recovery is expected to limit growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) to 2.9 per cent in 2011.

June Home Sales Cool Down

The number of newly listed homes and sales activity declined in June 2010, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of Canadian real estate boards decreased by 8.2 per cent in June compared to May. Sales were down in almost 70 per cent of local markets, led by lower activity in Toronto and Calgary. The number of newly listed homes on MLS in June was down by 6.8 per cent from the previous month, following a monthly decline of 4.8 per cent in May. The overall decline is due to tightened mortgage regulations and anticipated interest rate increases, says CREA, resulting in a decline of 13.3 per cent from near-record levels in the first quarter.

CertainTeed Offers New Shapes, Textures

CertainTeed is offering porch posts and columns in new shapes and textures “that make a statement” in outdoor living spaces, it says. The new products include round and square PVC exterior columns as well as the addition of a new woodgrain texture. The new structural columns have a larger diameter than existing porch posts in the product line and are compatible with its other vinyl railing products.

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July 15, 2010

Smartphones To Challenge Self-serve Kiosks

North American transactions at self-service kiosks will surpass $740 billion in 2010, reflecting consumers’ acceptance of the technology, says a new study by research firm IHL Group. However, it found the rate of growth may be tempered by smartphone technology in the future. "The information kiosks will soon give way to the kiosk in the consumer’s pocket, with many consumers already doing price comparison shopping and reading reviews while at the shelf," said Greg Buzek, president of the IHL Group. What’s particularly interesting, he added, is how Apple has patents in loyalty and payment technologies. In the future, transactions in the retail environment could be scanned and transacted through mobile devices rather than a stationary self-checkout, Buzek says.

RONA Begins St. John’s Store Construction

RONA will begin construction of a new 68,000-square-foot store to serve the needs of St. John’s, NL and surrounding areas. The Torbay Road store represents an investment of $20 million and is expected to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification for construction. It’s the fourth major project recently undertaken by RONA in Atlantic Canada. Aside from the June acquisition of the Pierceys chain of stores in Nova Scotia, the company also invested $2.8 million in the O’Leary Avenue store in St. John’s, while a second location in Bay Roberts was renovated in 2009. “On behalf of the City of St. John’s, I would like to thank RONA for investing in our city,” said Debbie Hanlon, Chair of Economic Development Committee, City of St. John’s. “This is an exciting time in St. John’s – as we continue to be an economic growth leader, attracting large retailers like RONA to grow and do business here.”

Walmart Opens 100th Supercentre

Walmart opened its 100th supercentre in Victoria, BC, which is among the 35 to 40 supercentres expected to open across Canada in 2010. It opened its first Canadian supercentre in 2006, and now has supercentres in four provinces – Ontario, Alberta, B.C., and Saskatchewan. Originally opened in 1994 and relocated, the new Victoria Walmart Supercentre gains more than 60,000 square feet of retail space, for a total of 216,000 square feet. By the end of the year, Walmart will have 325 stores, including 124 supercentres and 201 discount stores in Canada.

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July 14, 2010

Fastenal Up Second-Quarter

Fastenal Co. reported second-quarter net income of $69.2 million, up from $43.5 million a year ago. Revenue grew by about 20 per cent to $571.2 million and sales were at $1.09 billion, up 13.2 per cent from $964.2 million in the same 2009 period. The North American fastener distributor attributed its sales growth in the first six months of 2010 to the strengthening Canadian dollar and the acquisition of the Holo-Krome business in December 2009, which added approximately 0.5 percentage points to its daily sales growth. During the first six months of 2010, Fastenal opened 45 new stores (compared to 42 new stores in the same period of 2009) and expects to open 80 to 95 new stores during the second half of 2010.

Valspar Launches Hi-def Paint

Valspar has launched a line of ‘high definition’ paint now available at Lowe’s stores. The ‘Hi-DEF Advanced Colour System’ features a new hiding formula that can cover old colours in one coat for faster, easier application, the company says. The paint also features "super-saturated pigments" for "true-to-chip" accuracy, giving it a more vibrant and richer look. "People tell us that what they want most in a paint is a product that hides the old colour quickly and easily, and matches the colour on the chip, says Howard Heckes, Valspar's senior vice-president, Consumer Division.

Bosch Expands Laser Measuring

Bosch is entering the long-range laser-measuring category with two laser distance-measuring tools. Building on its short- and medium-range platforms, the new range finding tools can measure in 11 different modes over extended distances – 825’ for its GLR825 and 500’ for its GLR500, accurate to within 1 millimetre, the company says. The new products are suitable for builders, architects, construction supervisors, building engineers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians.

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July 13, 2010

Unemployment Dips Below 8%

Canada’s unemployment rate has dipped below eight per cent for the first time in a year and a half, says Statistics Canada. The country added 93,000 jobs in June, bringing the unemployment rate down to 7.9 per cent, while economists expected a more modest 15,000 to 20,000 additional jobs and the rate to remain at 8.1 per cent. The gain -- which comes after a record of 108,700 added jobs in April and 24,700 in May -- lends truth to the fact of Canada's ongoing rebound. In less than one year, the country has made up nearly all the jobs lost during the recession.

Superior Acquires Canadian Distributor

Superior Plus Corp. has confirmed the acquisition of western Canadian commercial and industrial insulation distributor, Burnaby Insulation Supplies, for a purchase price of approximately $18 million. The purchase price consists of $16 million in common shares of Superior, with the remainder being paid in cash. Superior says the move will help it expand its commercial and industrial distribution business in Canada. The company has a portfolio of businesses consisting of propane distribution, specialty chemicals, construction products distribution, and fixed-price energy services.

CertainTeed Launches Housewrap

CertainTeed launched its inaugural housewrap product, along with a line of accessories meant to provide homeowners with a layer of protection for their walls. Applied prior to exterior cladding and as a component of the wall system, ‘CertaWrap’ acts as a line of defense against the elements during construction and a secondary water barrier after the cladding is installed. CertaWrap will also reduce drafts in the wall, which helps reduce energy costs, CertainTeed says.

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July 12, 2010

Home Hardware Safest Fleet

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) presented Home Hardware Stores Limited with the ‘Safest Large Fleet Award’ at PMTC’s annual conference. Previously deemed safest in 2005 and 2008, this marks the third time the 132-power unit and almost 500-trailer fleet has won. The award “is not just about running a fleet without incident. It is about demonstrating an ongoing commitment to road safety and taking the public’s well-being to heart,” said Bruce Richards, PMTC president. Developed in conjunction with the CSA, Home Hardware was one of the first fleets to adopt a Carrier Safety Management System, which documents all phases of a safety program from the initial hiring of drivers, through orientation, to the monitoring of ongoing performance. On-board recorders monitor driver behaviour and keep them informed of their own and the entire fleet’s performance. As well, Home Hardware recognizes high performance by awarding bonuses to drivers with good results.

Housing Market Expected To Cool

Canada's residential real estate market will begin to ease in the second half of 2010, following two quarters of strong price appreciation and sales activity, says the Royal LePage ‘House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast.’ While markets remain strong across most major centres, sales activity was overly “front-loaded” in the first half and is expected to cool off for the third and fourth quarters, the survey found. In the second quarter, the average price of a detached bungalow in Canada was up nine per cent to $331,868, compared to a year ago. Over the same period, standard two-storey homes rose 8.7 per cent to $367,835 and standard condominiums rose 7.3 per cent to $230,014. Royal LePage is forecasting that by the end of 2010, home price appreciation will average 6.8 per cent year-over-year, while home sales will increase by just over one per cent compared to 2009.

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July 9, 2010

Drywall Demand To Climb

Global demand for drywall – gypsum, plasterboard, and wallboard – is expected to grow 8.4 per cent per year through 2014 to 10.7 billion square meters, says a new study from research frim, The Freedonia Group, Inc. The findings represent a significant improvement over the 2004-2009 rate of growth, with more than four-fifths of all new product demand attributable to the U.S. and the Asia/Pacific region. The study found that the largest drywall manufacturing countries are the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, the UK, and France, each of which had 2009 drywall shipments of more than 250 million square meters. Global demand for gypsum-based building plaster will advance 5.3 per cent per annum to 36.9 million metric tons in 2014. The building plaster market will experience somewhat slower growth through 2014 than the drywall market. At the global level, drywall demand is nearly two and one-half times greater (on a weight basis) than for gypsum-based building plaster.

Richelieu Posts Record Earnings

Richelieu says it achieved record net earnings of $11.5 million for the second quarter ended May 31, 2010, up by 57.4 per cent; and of $18.5 million for the first half, up by 58.8 per cent. Second-quarter consolidated sales were $118 million, up by 9.3 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, and $213.1 million for the first half, up by 6.7 per cent. The second quarter brought “a vigorous increase in the demand for Richelieu products in Canada,” in its two major markets: manufacturers and retailers and renovation superstores. Demand in the U.S. market was less pronounced but it nevertheless showed some stability and a slight increase in sales, driven by internal growth and acquisitions, it says. Richelieu also acquired Raybern Company, Inc. during the second quarter, a distributor of decorative and architectural hardware, finishing products, and high-pressure laminates, providing it with more than US$4 million in annual sales and adding another centre to its network, which now consists of 20 distribution centres in the U.S. and 51 centres in North America.

WD-40 Reports Strong Quarter

Lubricant producer WD-40 had second-quarter sales of $82.6 million, a 20 per cent increase compared to $61.8 million in the same quarter last year. Quarterly net income was $9.1 million, up 32.2 per cent compared to the same period of 2009. North and South America sales grew 13.1 per cent, Europe sales were up 24.6 per cent, and Asia-Pacific sales were up 50.2 per cent during the quarter. Its strongest gains (29.2 per cent) were in its multi-purpose maintenance products unit, which includes the WD-40, 3-in-One, and Blue Works brands. However, homecare and cleaning products sales were down 10 per cent for the quarter.

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July 8, 2010

Castle Adds Six Members

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. is adding six new members to its network of independent dealers. Among the additions is Goulais River Building Supplies, of Goulais River, ON, which will now expand to offer a range of building materials through their relationship with Castle. Also joining Castle are Mistik North Building Supplies (Pickle Lake, ON), specializing in the delivery of material via fly-in or winter road access to communities in the far north; Reim’s Window & Doors Ltd. (New Glasgow, NS), positioning itself to grow into a full-line building material store; R&D Commercial Interiors (Saskatoon, SK), with extensive experience in the commercial interior business; Vanderlaan Building Products Ltd (Brighton, ON), expanding its presence in building supplies; and Cottage Docks Ltd (Bancroft, ON), which wants to maintain and grow its independence through Castle while having additional opportunities for expansion.

TruServ Announces Fall Market

TruServ Canada Inc. will hold their Fall National Buying Market October 3 to 5, 2010 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. More than 700 independent retailers will have the opportunity to attend the Market to plan their business and coordinate seasonal product purchases. More than 400 major manufacturers will showcase a wide selection of upcoming products for the season as well as specials. The market will also feature six different seminars on Saturday, on topics such as True Value Paint, Customer Service, Impulse Sales, Planning & Setting up a Sale event, Drive Isle Merchandising, and Increasing your Margin.

Small Business Confidence Down

Optimism among Canada's small- and medium-sized business owners slid slightly in June, following a modest increase in May, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The latest business confidence survey from the CFIB finished the month at 66.4, down about a point from May's 67.3. "This latest reading is at the lower end of the average over the last ten months, and suggests that economic output is growing only at a modest 2.5 per cent clip," says CFIB vice-president and chief economist, Ted Mallett. He added, "with interest rate increases on the map, business owners are not overextending themselves." Regionally, B.C. and Newfoundland & Labrador leads the way with 72.1 and 70.7, respectively. Ontario business owners had a slight improvement in confidence last month, while those in Quebec dropped back. Along with Quebec, only Manitoba and Nova Scotia business owners had optimism below the national average.

Moen Launches Hands-free Line

Moen Canada has launched a complete line of sensor-operated commercial faucets featuring hands-free activation. The ‘MPower’ faucets are designed with conservation and convenience in mind, Moen says, and are ideal for commercial, healthcare, and educational facility applications. With motion sensors starting and stopping the flow of water, the faucets automatically reduce litres used, reduce sewage bills, limit hot water consumption, save energy, and prevent the risk of accidental overflow, Moen says.

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July 7, 2010

May Building Permits Fall

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities was $6 billion in May, representing a 10.8 per cent drop from April, says Statistics Canada. The decline follows two consecutive monthly increases. The value of residential permits decreased 5.3 per cent to $3.7 billion due to a decline in the single-family component. The value of non-residential permits fell 18.3 per cent to $2.3 billion, following three months of increases. In the commercial component, the value of permits fell 35.2 per cent to $988 million in May, following a 30.7 per cent increase in April. However, the value of industrial permits rose to its highest level since September 2008. Regionally, the value of permits increased in B.C., Saskatchewan, and P.E.I. The largest decreases occurred in Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia where the declines were a result of lower intentions in the non-residential sector, which had posted strong gains in April.

Liquidation World Opens Re-branded Store

Liquidation World Inc. has re-launched its re-branded ‘Everybody's Outlet Store’ in Oakville, ON. The location was expanded and renovated to offers more than 21,000 square feet of furniture, home décor, sporting goods, hardware, and fashion at discount prices. "The Oakville store represents the ideal model that we intend to replicate as we rebrand existing stores… to demonstrate that when you combine world famous brand name merchandise, extreme value, and energetic and enthusiastic associates, you create a truly unique shopping experience," said Seth Marks, president and CEO.

Stanley’s Donation Depends On Race

Stanley will make a $1 million donation to the Children’s Miracle Network, on behalf of Ace Hardware, if Richard Petty Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler and the No. 19 Stanley Ford Fusion can win on July 10th in Chicago. The incentive is part of the Ace and Stanley ‘Racing for a Miracle’ program, to improve the lives of sick children. As well, on July 9 Sadler and Stanley will present a $100,000 donation to the Ace Hardware Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network at Chicagoland Speedway. Sadler will also unveil a special paint scheme for the Saturday night race with the assistance of four Children’s Memorial Hospital patients who have their names featured on the car. The four also will serve as Sadler’s honorary pit crew during the race on July 10.

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July 6, 2010

Danish Company Acquires Loewen

VKR Holdings of Denmark has acquired 105-year-old Loewen Windows of Steinbach, MB. “The Loewen shareholders believe that VKR will bring the resources, capabilities, and character to ensure the future success of Loewen in the marketplace while maintaining respect for all of its stakeholders as well as for the culture of the staff and the community,” says Clyde Loewen, leader of the Loewen family shareholder group. For VKR, the acquisition gives them a greater presence in Canada and the U.S. “We already own several vertical window companies, and now we extend these activities in Canada and the USA, where the population growth is larger than in Europe," says Leif Jensen, VKR's CEO. VKR noted that, although North American markets have been affected by severe declines, it sees “great promise” in the company’s prospects since it holds a strong niche in the high-end segment and engages in extensive product development. The European company also said it will not move Loewen’s head office or manufacturing out of Steinbach.

GEI Launches Virtual Indoor-Air Tool

The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) unveiled its online interactive house tour, which allows users to take a virtual walk-through of the sources of residential indoor air pollution. The computer-generated, two-story home displays the common household products and materials known to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Users can scroll over to learn more about the chemical emissions while discovering solutions. "Indoor air quality is one of those concepts that can be difficult to get your head around because it seems so abstract,” says Henning Bloech, executive director of GEI. “By creating this animated home tour, we hope to bring the concept of indoor air quality to life and make it more relatable to the average person." To view the tour, visit http://greenguard.org/

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July 5, 2010

Economic Confidence Growing

A majority of Canadians (67 per cent) believe the overall outlook for the economy is good (up from 54 per cent last quarter) and fewer are experiencing job anxiety (20 per cent, down seven points from its height last November), according to the 'June RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index.' However, over the next 12 months, 55 per cent of Canadians believe the national economy will improve – down two points from March as a result of four regional decreases, which suggests there are pockets of concern still lingering over the recovery. Increasing comfort levels with the economy are also starting to carry over to the home front as almost four-in-ten Canadians indicate they have less money left over after all their bills are paid compared to three months ago, a decline of four points from March. And 67 per cent indicate they are concerned about rising interest rates and 84 per cent expect to see increases over the next six months (a 15 percentage point increase from March).

Channellock Redesigns Site

Channellock announced the launch of its fully redesigned website at Channellock.com. The manufacturer of pliers and hand tools says the new site provides a more complete user experience that now enables visitors to purchase tools, learn about the company, and interact with company representatives like never before. “We wanted to provide a more valuable interactive experience for both new and loyal Channellock customers,” said Ryan DeArment, vice-president of sales and marketing. “The new site celebrates our tool heritage, people, and commitment to quality.”

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July 2, 2010

RedBuilt Expands Canadian Presence

RedBuilt, a developer of wood-based structural solutions, has expanded its presence and availability of products throughout Canada. Formerly the commercial division of Trus Joist, the company says it will increase production capabilities and sales representation of its CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) approved products. The expansion is concurrent with the launch of the company’s new website. “CCMC’s certification of Red-I Joists and RedLam LVL validates the quality of our products, and acceptance of their use in construction projects throughout Canada,” said Kurt Liebich, president and CEO.

Valspar Enters Australian Market

U.S. paint and coatings manufacturer Valspar Corporation has agreed to acquire Australian paint maker Wattyl Ltd. for about A$142 million and assume its existing debt. Valspar says the deal, which is still subject to approval by shareholders and regulatory authorities, will help strengthen its presence in the Asia Pacific region. The move was also partly linked to the arrival of one of Valspar’s customers, Lowe’s, which has teamed up with retailer Woolworths Ltd. in Australia.

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.

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