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

News

 

February 28, 2011

Castle, TORBSA Form Epic Alliance

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd., of Mississauga ON, and TORBSA Limited, of Bolton, ON, have reached an agreement to form a new buying group. The Epic Alliance Buying Group represents 340 locations nationally and allows both groups to benefit from the consolidation of buying power and provide distribution for ‘key’ vendors across Canada.

Concept Stores Featured At Orgill Show

Two concept stores ‒ Beale Street Lumber and Delta Farm & Hardware ‒ offering merchandising ideas to dealers were featured at Orgill's ‘2011 Spring Dealer Market.’ The stores showcased the range of what Orgill can provide to retailers of different shapes, sizes, and formats," says Ron Beal, its CEO. There were also about 40 first-time exhibitors at the event including Ames Research Laboratory, EcoSmart Technologies, and the L. Frances Caramel Co. 

Housing Affordability Improves

Canada's housing affordability continued to improve in the fourth quarter of 2010, thanks in part to slight decreases in five-year fixed mortgage rates and minimal home price appreciation across the country, says RBC Economics Research. Its ‘Housing Trends and Affordability’ report shows that during the fourth quarter the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home fell between 0.4 and 0.8 percentage points across the housing types tracked. For example, the detached bungalow benchmark measure eased by 0.8 of a percentage point to 39.9 per cent, the standard condominium measure declined by 0.4 of a percentage point to 27.6 per cent, and the standard two-storey home decreased 0.4 percentage points to 46 per cent. However, Robert Hogue, a senior economist, says while some of the stress that had been building in the housing market between 2009 and the first half of 2010 has been relieved, “tensions persist overall and the recent improvement in affordability is likely to be short-lived."

New Home Sales Drop In U.S.

Sales of new single-family houses in the U.S. in January 2011 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 284,000, says estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That is 12.6 per cent below the revised December rate of 325,000. January sales were 18.6 per cent below the January 2010 estimate of 349,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in January 2011 was $230,600; the average sales price was $260,300.

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February 25, 2011

RONA Reports Increased Sales

RONA inc.’s total sales increased 2.6 per cent in 2010, even though its same-store sales remained flat. However, its commercial and professional market division experienced double-digit growth. Its net earnings of $143.2 million were up 3.6 per cent over 2009. “Again in 2010, RONA demonstrated its agility and ability to emerge stronger from the face of challenges,” says Robert Dutton, its president and CEO. “We are now at 19 per cent market share, up from 17.5 per cent at the beginning of the year, and on target to reach our 20 per cent objective by the end of 2011.”

Canadian Tire Relaunching e-Commerce Site

Canadian Tire Corp. is relaunching its e-Commerce site in 2011, with an initial focus on selling tires. The move comes a couple of years after the retailer abandoned online selling, saying it would use its website solely to market its products and provide information for customers. It will start selling tires on its website this year, focusing on a category which has become a priority for the chain, says Glenn Butt, an executive vice-president at Canadian Tire.

Menards To Expand Mega Store

Menards is hoping to expand a mega store in Tinley Park, IL. It plans to add 110,000-square feet to its 202,000-square foot building and 148,000-square-foot lumberyard. The grand total – 360,000 square feet – would make the store the largest unit in the Midwestern home improvement chain.

Mexican Wal-Mart Expanding Operations

Walmex will expand its operations in Mexico and Central America this year, with plans to open 445 stores. It will open 365 of the new businesses, mainly warehouse and discount stores, in Mexico and 80 stores in Central American nations. It now operates more than 2,000 retail stores and restaurants.

Wooster Has Hybrid Roller

Wooster has released the first professional hybrid roller in the industry in response to the evolution of coatings over the last decade. While coatings today offer high colour saturation and low VOCs, they pull lint from common roller covers and dry extremely fast making time of the essence when applying these paints if you don’t want to end up with fuzzy walls.  Avalon is made with a proprietary green-grey fabric, designed to take on these demands. It is available in four pile heights: 3/8”, 1/2”, 3/4” and 1¼”.

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February 24, 2011

Lowe’s Fourth Quarter Improves

Lowe's Cos.' fourth-quarter net income increased to $285 million from $205 million in the same period a year ago. Quarterly revenue also rose three per cent to $10.48 billion from $10.17 billion a year ago as home owners took on more renovation projects and as the economy slowly recovered, the retailer says. For the year, Lowe's net income climbed 13 per cent to $2.01 billion, compared to $1.78 billion a year ago. "While uncertainty in the market remains, the economic recovery is continuing," says CEO Robert Niblock.

Sears Canada Sales Down

Sears Canada Inc.’s fourth revenues were $1.48 billion versus $1.52 billion in the same period a year ago, a decrease of 3.2 per cent. Same store sales in the quarter decreased 3.3 per cent. For the year, total revenues were $4.96 billion versus $5.20 billion last year, a drop of 4.7 per cent. Same store sales for the year decreased four per cent. Dene Rogers, president and CEO, says the 2010 results were disappointing, due to increasing household debt affecting appliance sales; the warm fall that impacted apparel and seasonal categories; and the “continued deep discounting by the industry in general.”

RONA Repentigny Opens Doors

RONA inc. has opened a 35,000-square-foot store in Repentigny, QC. Owned by the Prud’homme family, the Repentigny store combines qualities of a big box and the service of a neighbourhood store, says Jean Prud’homme, co-owner.

‘Buy Local’ Helping U.S. Retailers

Many U.S. small retailers (51 per cent) believe there is a growing ‘buy local’ sentiment in the country that is helping their business, says the American Express ‘OPEN Retail Economic Pulse.’ Fifty-five per cent believe that ‘buy local’ campaigns can help small businesses compete in challenging economic times. More than one third (36 per cent) say the biggest incentive for consumers to buy at local, independent businesses is “better customer service.” The second biggest incentive is supporting the community by creating local jobs (16 per cent).

 February 24 Weekly Product Spotlight

• AZEK’s ‘Bench & Planter Box Hardware Kit’ helps create a functional showpiece to complement decks. The ‘easy-to-build’ kit, including AZEK Deck boards, allows for the construction of a bench with two integrated flower/planter boxes. Bench colour can match the deck or porch and can divide the deck from the patio, since it is freestanding.
• CertainTeed’s ‘Landmark Solaris Gold,’ ‘Landmark Solaris Platinum,’ and ‘Presidential Shake Solar’ asphalt shingles represent industry-leading solar reflectivity and the first to closely resemble the appearance of wood shake, the company says. They come in rich, dark hues and are backed by a lifetime, limited warranty.

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February 23, 2011

Retail Sales Dip In December

Retail sales in December dropped 0.2 per cent to $37.3 billion, following an increase in November and six consecutive months of gains, says Statistics Canada. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were also down 1.4 per cent, and down 5.9 per cent compared to December 2009. Store types associated with holiday shopping showed mixed results in December, with sales at furniture and home furnishings up 1.9 per cent; clothing and clothing accessories up one per cent; electronics and appliance up 0.6 per cent; sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores down 1.9 per cent; and general merchandise up 0.4 per cent. Regionally, the largest contributor to the national decline was British Columbia (-2.2 per cent), where sales fell for first time since July.

Home Depot Posts Positive Quarter, Year

The Home Depot reported fourth-quarter sales of $15.1 billion, a 3.8 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. For fiscal 2010, it had sales of $68 billion, up 2.8 per cent from 2009 and its first year-over-year improvement since 2006. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter were positive 3.9 per cent. Quarterly net earnings were $587 million, compared with $301 million in the same year-ago period. On an adjusted basis, it reported fiscal 2010 net earnings from continuing operations of $3.4 billion, compared with $2.8 billion for 2009. Frank Blake, chairman and CEO, attributed the positive sales growth to the rollout of its Rapid Deployment Centers, improvement in customer service ratings, and an overall improvement in the economy.

Wal-Mart Sales Down

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported fourth-quarter sales at U.S. stores open at least one year fell by 1.8 per cent, compared to the same period last year. Net sales in the U.S. also fell by 0.5 per cent in the quarter to $71.1 billion. Customer counts fell during the quarter, representing a full year of lost shoppers to dollar stores and other rivals for quick purchases by consumers. "Some of the pricing and merchandising issues in Wal-Mart ran deeper than we initially expected, and they require a response that will take time to see results," says Mike Duke, CEO and president. Results, however, were boosted by strong growth in its international business, as total revenues rose 2.5 per cent over the same period last year, to $115.6 billion. Earnings rose 4.3 per cent to $5.02 billion, with a 29 per cent tax gain related to the 2008 sale of stores in Germany.

Moulding And Trim Demand Climbing

U.S. demand for moulding and trim is expected to exceed $10 billion in 2014 on annual increases of 10 per cent, says a study by The Freedonia Group, Inc.  The anticipated rebound in new residential construction expenditures from depressed 2009 levels will fuel gains as interior moulding accounts for the largest share of demand and is widely used in all major types of housing. Value gains will be slightly faster, however, for exterior trim, aided in part by demand for higher-priced, more durable materials such as plastic. Despite competition from plastics and wood-plastic composites, wood will remain the leading material. Strong price gains for wood will further boost market value. By 2014, plastic is forecast to surpass metal as the second leading material for moulding and trim. Since plastic performs better than wood against exposure to the elements, demand for exterior trim products will drive gains. Also, improvements in the appearance of plastic have made high-end plastic moulding almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from wood moulding, the study says.

RONA Closes Public Offering

RONA inc. has closed its previously announced public offering of cumulative five-year Class A preferred shares to a syndicate of underwriters led by National Bank Financial Inc. and BMO Capital Markets. If an over-allotment option is exercised in full, total gross proceeds to RONA will be $172.5 million. RONA says the offering will strengthen its balance sheet and boost its financial flexibility, with net proceeds going towards reducing debt and funding acquisitions and capital projects.

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February 22, 2011

BILD Hands Out Reno Awards

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) named Eurodale Developments, led by partners Brendan Charters and Jim Cunningham, the ‘Renovator of the Year,’ at the RE/MAX National Home Show in Toronto, ON. BILD also recognized several award-winning renovation projects at the show; namely, Capoferro Design Build Group in the under $75,000 category, W.C. Meek Design and Construction Ltd. in the $75,000-$150,000 category, PROBUILT by Michael Upshall in the $150,000-$300,000 category, Woodcastle Homes Ltd in the $300,000-$500,000 category, and Northern Edge Construction in the more than $500,000 category.

True Value Promotes Lane

Eric Lane is vice-president of specialty businesses for True Value Co. In his new role, he will lead its Home & Garden Showplace, International, MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations), and rental divisions. Lane will take over for Fred Kirst, who retired this year.

Glass House Integrates Green Benefits

The RE/MAX National Home Show’s model ‘Glass House’ represents a potential new direction for ‘green’ home construction, says celebrity designer Debbie Travis at a media-sneak peak. Constructed by Quebec-based Concept PolygHome, it can be built in seven days and maintains “architectural flexibility” allowing for various shapes, sizes, and easier positioning on difficult pieces of land such as mountains. Its ‘bio-climatic’ features capture the most sunlight possible – up to 50 per cent more than traditional homes – stores its energy within the buildings thermal footing, and has a mechanism allowing for the recovery and recycling of rainwater.

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February 18, 2011

IRLY Welcomes Fraser Lake Supplies

Rob King, the new owner of Fraser Lake Supplies in Fraser Lake, BC, is the newest member of IRLY Distributors and IRLY Building Centres. King purchased the IRLY Building Centre in northern B.C. and says he has long-term growth plans.

January Resale Housing Improves

Canadian home resales rose 4.5 per cent in January from December, to the highest level since April 2010, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Vancouver and Toronto fueled much of the gains. Nationally, sales have improved steadily since last summer and are now almost 25 per cent above the low point reached in July 2010. In January, 39,481 homes were sold, up from 37,773 the previous month, but down 6.6 per cent from January 2010 – the smallest year-over-year decline since May 2010. The national average sales price was $343,675 during the month. As well, CREA says activity may increase in the next couple of months in advance of new mortgage insurance rules that reduce the maximum amortization term by five years to 30 years. Yet, the market is expected to stabilize in 2011, as mortgage rates rise and listings increase.

TIM-BR MART Makes Divisional Changes

TIM-BR MART has made some changes to its divisions to further integrate the newly acquired distribution operations into their business. Steve Stremecki will depart as vice-president, retail services, and move into a newly-created role as head of corporate development, overseeing and growing corporate partnerships. Andrew Allen, formerly general manager of CanWel Hardware, is now in charge of sales and operations. Robert Scalesse will expand his role in human resources with Chalifour Canada to include TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. Jon Irwin will lead the marketing division.

Home Depot Partnership Driving MSLO Growth

Among Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.’s (MSLO) fourth quarter and full year results, Charles Koppelman, executive chairman, noted that 2010 was an important year in its transformation as it marks the beginning of its partnership with The Home Depot, “which further expands the breadth and depth of our merchandising business.” The partnership was an important contributor to its performance in 2010 with notably strong results for the carpet program and the new holiday assortment which included trees, ornaments, décor, and lighting. It expects its merchandising business to gain momentum and be a key driver of future growth. Merchandising revenues were $11.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to $25.7 million in the same period a year ago. Overall revenue for the full year was $230.8 million, compared to $244.8 million in 2009.

Liquidation World Revenue Down

Liquidation World Inc.’s first-quarter revenue was $43.4 million, down 1.6 per cent from $44.1 million in the same 2010 period. Gross margin for the quarter was $12.7 million or 29.3 per cent of sales versus $17.3 million or 39.2 per cent of sales in the same quarter last year. Throughout the first quarter, the company says it continues to evolve from a liquidator of close out goods to “Canada's premier destination for extreme value.” This strategy involves converting and/or opening stores under the ‘LW - Everybody's Outlet Store’ banner.

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February 17, 2011

Leading Indicators Edge Up

The composite leading index climbed 0.3 per cent in January, after rising 0.4 per cent in the previous two months, says Statistics Canada. The stock market and housing drove growth. Household demand continued to expand as the housing index rose 1.3 per cent, its third straight gain. Strength in existing home sales outweighed a dip in housing starts. Furniture and appliance sales edged down 0.1 per cent, but outlays for other durable goods increased 0.9 per cent. Manufacturing remained mixed as new orders fell 2.3 per cent, their second straight decline. The ratio of shipments to inventories also fell for the second straight month as the trend for shipments dropped for the first time in over a year.

Edmonton Lowe’s Store Opening August 1

Lowe's Canada expects to open its first store in Edmonton, AB on August 1, says the Edmonton Journal. The 142,000-square foot store will be located at the South Edmonton Common. Lowe’s opened its first western Canadian store last September in Calgary and plans to open two other Calgary locations in the first quarter of 2011.

Family Businesses Unaware Of Tax Implications

The majority of Canadian family business owners are not fully aware of the domestic and international tax obligations that will arise in their estate on the shares of their business, resulting in many passing on heavy tax burdens to their surviving family members at the time of their death, says PwC’s ‘Global Family Business Survey.’ The survey found that one of the top three external issues Canadian family business owners felt they would face in the next 12 months is international and domestic tax implications. Ninety-five per cent were unaware of the possible international inheritance tax implications, which is significant given the large number of business owners who are U.S. citizens or have children living in the U.S. Less than half (45 per cent) had their business valued domestically within the past 12 months to gauge their exposure to tax, and 41 per cent said they were unaware of capital gains tax implications to their estate in respect to the shares of their business. “We’ve found a lot of family business owners don’t realize that their tax obligations grow as their business grows,” says Kathy Munro, partner, high net worth practice, PwC. “With some planning, owners can avoid a lot of headaches and costs by putting a plan in place to fund the future tax and preventing it from growing.”

Kelly-Moore Unveils Design Trends

Kelly-Moore Paints’ top 10 home design trends for 2011 “swing from chaos and uncertainty to calmness and optimism.” They include ‘Reflection,’ as consumers find comfort in environments, authentic colour patterns, and handcrafted goods; ‘Minimalism,’ towards simple geometric patterns and designs, especially in furniture; ‘Authenticity,’ drawing attention to imperfect natural materials such as flooring with knots, colour imperfections in leather, etc.; ‘Restoration,’ as homeowners choose to make small upgrades and repurpose what they have; ‘Homegrown,’ driving interest for more vegetable gardens and outdoor living spaces; ‘Global Fusion,’ colour combinations with international flare; and ‘Digital Disconnect,’ as the stress associated with fast-growing technology drives more to create meditation spaces or rooms within households.

Owens Corning Reports Loss

Owens Corning Inc. had a fourth-quarter loss of $110 million, compared to a loss of $21 million in the same period last year, following the sale of its masonry business to Boral Industries. Quarterly revenue climbed slightly to $1.17 billion from $1.16 billion a year earlier. Its composites business improved as worldwide demand grew and profit margins for its roofing business widened even though the market remained weak, the company says.

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February 16, 2011

Home Depot Canada Hiring 6,000

The Home Depot Canada is currently hiring more than 6,000 associates as it prepares for the busy season, says Sheri Papps, public relations specialist. In the U.S., Home Depot Inc. will hire more than 60,000 temporary workers in preparation for its biggest selling season, March through mid-June. It is also adding permanent full-time and part-time positions to stores for the second year in a row, the retailer says.

U.S. Retail Sales Rising

Advanced estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January were $381.6 billion, says the U.S. Census Bureau, an increase of 0.3 per cent from the previous month and up 7.8 per cent compared with January 2010. Advanced sales for building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were $24.227 billion for January, a decrease of 2.9 per cent from December, but up 9.3 per cent from the same month last year.

RRSPs Offer Business Security

About 13 per cent of small business owners in Canada don’t know how the value of their business may have changed since the recession, says a BMO survey. However, a varied approach to planning for retirement, including an RRSP, can help entrepreneurs ensure a secure retirement income. “Many small business owners rely on the sale of their business to fund their retirement, which can be a risky approach if you can’t sell for the price you need or are forced to step away from the business sooner than you planned,” says Gail Cocker, senior vice-president, BMO commercial banking. Owners need to look at the “bigger picture” and have a diversified financial plan that includes an RRSP. RRSPs allow owners to establish a diversified source of income independent from their business. Along with the tax benefits, RRSPs offer security during downturns, especially conservative investments such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), government bonds, or Treasury bills. With the strength of an RRSP behind them, they also provide bargaining power as owners are better positioned to hold out until they find the right buyer for their business. They can offer protection in case of unexpected health problems and reliability since owners can convert to an annuity that will provide them with guaranteed income for life.

Masco Posts Loss

Masco posted a fourth-quarter loss of $1 billion, compared with a year-earlier loss of $185 million. Revenue fell 8.6 per cent to $1.74 billion. Gross margin narrowed to 17.8 per cent from 26.1 per cent. North American sales fell nine per cent and international sales were flat. For the year ended December 31, 2010, net sales decreased three per cent to $7.6 billion. Gross profit margins were 26.4 per cent compared to 26.5 per cent and operating profit margins were 5.7 per cent compared to 5.6 per cent last year.

 February 16 Weekly Product Spotlight

• Moen’s ‘Double Curved Shower Rod’ expands to fit shower enclosures between 144″ and 153″. The design allows consumers to utilize separate bars for the shower liner curtain and decorative shower curtain, or provides an extra bar for hanging towels or other essentials.
• Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation has expanded its M18 LITHIUM-ION system with the M18 cordless 3/8″ ‘Right Angle Drill Driver.’ It’s the only 18V right-angle drill with an adjustable clutch feature, the company says, and provides 11 torque settings, plus one drill mode, for complete control in close-quarter fastening applications.
• Blundstone’s ‘CSA Greenpatch’ work boots come with the added protection of CSA approval. Weatherproof elastic and leather keep feet dry and allow them to breath, and a heat-formed heel provides a snug fit, reducing risk of blisters. Deluxe Poron footbeds support back and heels, while toes are protected by a tempered steel, Grade 1 safety toecap.

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February 15, 2011

Kitchen Design Trends Uncovered

A National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) survey of the marketplace uncovered several kitchen trends poised to take hold in 2011 across the U.S. and Canada. Among the findings, Shaker style continues to gain in popularity as respondents who designed contemporary kitchens fell to 48 per cent, while Shaker rose to 55 per cent. Dark natural finishes overtook medium natural, glazed, and white painted finishes to become the most specified type toward the end of 2010. While only 39 per cent incorporated wine storage into kitchens at the end of 2009. Just over half did so as 2010 came to a close. Other types of cabinetry are on the decline, including tall pantries (89 to 84 per cent), lazy Susans (90 to 78 per cent), and pull-out racks (81 to 71 per cent). French door refrigerators have strengthened in position; induction cooktops are closing the gap on gas and electric models; and more are using LED lighting as part of their designs. There is also a greater emphasis on trash considerations as 89 per cent included trash or recycling pullouts. Garbage disposals were incorporated by 86 per cent, up from 75 per cent.

Painting Tips For Small Spaces

There are several ways to create the illusion of space with paint, says Alison Goldman, CIL Paints’ marketing communications manager. CIL’s ideas for painting in small spaces include painting a horizontal stripe around a small room to make it look deeper and wider; applying cool colours – such as soft blues, creams, purples, and greens – to make small areas feel open and airy; using lighting to open up a space; and avoiding visual distractions that interrupt continuity and cause a person to feel cramped.

Valspar First-quarter Sales Increase

Valspar’s first-quarter net income decreased 1.5 per cent to $33.4 million, compared to $33.9 million last year. Quarterly sales were $842.4 million, up 25.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. Sales in its coatings segment rose 16.6 per cent year over year to $456.4 million and sales in the paints segment rose $336 million, up 43.9 per cent from the prior year quarter.

Home Show Adds Experts

The National Home Show has added Bryan Baeumler, Colin & Justin, Glen Peloso, Jim Caruk, Ramsin Khachi, and Yanic Simard to the list of celebrity do-it-yourselfers offering home and garden design tips. Also, celebrity designer Debbie Travis will take the stage and provide a book signing. The show, presented by RE/MAX, takes place February 18 to 27 at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto, ON. For more info, visit www.nationalhomeshow.com

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February 14, 2011

Big Box Conditions No Longer Ideal

The demand that once fueled the success of big box retailing is waning in North America, says Doug Stephens, retail industry futurist and president of Retail Prophet Consulting. Speaking at the Johns Manville Hardlines Dealer Conference in association with the Canadian Home Improvement Show, Stephens outlined how big box growth is tied to the unprecedented demand brought on by the baby boomer generation. That demand, however, can no longer be sustained as baby boomers age and begin changing their shopping habits. Meanwhile, Gen-X’ers represents a 10 to 15 per cent smaller pool of shoppers and younger Gen-Y’ers represent a radically different type of shopper since they buy more online and are not as attracted to brand names. Also, the growing tastes of non-nuclear families and multicultural communities are in contrast to the homogeneous demands that big boxes thrived on. De-suburbanization and greater emphasis on city centres are also playing a critical part – driving the need for more smaller-format, neighbourhood friendly, eco-conscious, or ‘pop-up’ retail operations in the future.

Taiga Down Third Quarter

Taiga Building Products Ltd.’s third-quarter net sales decreased slightly to $198.4 million compared to $201.1 million over the same period last year, as demand for building products and new housing starts remained at moderate levels, the company says. Gross margin for the quarter also dropped $18.4 million from $20.8 million over the same year-ago period.

Housing Entering Balanced Phase

The housing market in Western Canada will outperform other regions of the country in 2011, driving greater renovation activity there, says Ted Tsiakopoulos, Ontario regional economist with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). In his analysis of housing/renovation conditions at the Johns Manville Hardlines Dealer Conference at the Canadian Home Improvement Show, Tsiakopoulos showed how emerging markets are now driving demand for Canadian commodities in the west and spurring growth. However, throughout 2010, it was Ontario and Quebec that led renovation spending with greater housing sales, job creation, and growth in the manufacturing heartland, while the west lagged behind. In 2011, the Ontario housing market will move into a more stable, balanced phase, tempered by changes to mortgage rules impacting homeowners’ ability to obtain credit for renovations. Homeowners will also be more focused on paying down debt as there is fear of interest rates increasing. Tsiakopoulos believes rates will rise gradually over time.

Retailer Expanding Green Empire

New York-based supplier of sustainable building products, Green Depot, has acquired Seattle-based Ecohaus and its locations in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. As a similarly minded green supplier of eco-friendly products, Ecohaus’ added locations and resources will help it “establish the first one-stop supplier for green building materials with a nationwide footprint for distribution and delivery,” Green Depot says.

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February 11, 2011

Canadian Tire Up In Fourth Quarter

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited posted fourth-quarter earnings of $181.1 million, up from $96.2 million a year earlier. Gross operating revenue rose four per cent to $2.54 billion, with growth in all segments. Consolidated retail sales increased 2.4 per cent in the quarter to $3.1 billion. For the year, consolidated sales rose 3.1 per cent to $10.3 billion. The quarterly increase in earnings was largely due to improved margins and lower interest costs, the company says.

Lowe’s Names Executives

Troy J. Dally is senior vice-president and general merchandising manager-hardlines/building products, for Lowe’s. Dally has been with Lowe’s since 1999 and has served as merchandising vice-president, millwork, for about five years. Maureen K. Ausura is executive vice-president, human resources, overseeing all aspects of human resources for the company’s approximately 238,000 employees in North America. As well, Gaither M. Keener is executive vice-president, general counsel, secretary, and chief compliance officer. Lowe's also promoted William L. Allen to senior vice-president logistics, replacing Rick D. Damron, who was promoted to executive vice-president, store operations. Everett B. Dayton is senior vice-president, IT business management.

CHHMA Inducting Verschuren, Kuchar

Annette Verschuren, former president of The Home Depot Canada for the past 15 years, and Joseph Kuchar, founder of Recochem, will be inducted into the CHHMA (Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association) Industry Hall of Fame. They will be inducted on April 5, 2011 at a luncheon held in conjunction with the annual CHHMA Spring Conference. Fifty icons from the retail and manufacturing sectors have been inducted into the hall of fame since it began in 1984.

Georgia Gulf Makes Acquisition

Georgia Gulf Corporation has acquired Exterior Portfolio by Crane from the Crane Group. Columbus, OH-based Exterior Portfolio produces siding and related accessories with 2010 revenues of approximately $100 million. Georgia Gulf says the acquisition fits strongly with its Royal Building Products business and will create the third-largest vinyl siding manufacturer in North America.

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February 10, 2011

TruServ Announces Spring Market

TruServ Canada will hold its Spring National Buying Market April 16 to 18 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. To kick off the show, it will offer ‘Best Practice’ seminars as well as a ‘Customer & Partner Welcome Event’ on the first evening. More than 400 major manufacturers are expected to showcase their upcoming products for the season as well as specials on products. The dates for its fall market are October 1 to 4 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. For more information, contactConnie Harris-Delorme, merchandising administrative assistant, at 204-453-9613 or charris-delorme@truserv.ca

Bona US Expands To Canada

Floor care distributor Bona US is expanding to major retail outlets throughout Canada and Mexico. Canadian retailers Lowe’s, Canadian Tire, and Home Outfitters will now carry the company’s extended line of stone, tile, and laminate floor care products including mops, cleaning products and systems, and polishes. "Bona has been available in the U.S. and Europe for decades, and now the demand has filtered to new markets,” says John Rauvola, managing director.

Irwin Tools Names President

Ross Porter is president of Irwin Tools. During his18 years at Newell Rubbermaid, Irwin’s parent company, Porter has held various positions. Most recently, he served as president of EMEA Transformation, the company’s European transformation initiative.

Henkel Refreshes Image

Adhesives and cosmetics producer Henkel is launching a worldwide corporate re-design which includes a new slogan and logo. Its logo, traditionally an oval in corporate red since 1907, has been modernized, the company says, and features “clear imagery, a dynamic colour scheme with red and white as key colours, and a lighter typography.” Its new slogan is "Henkel - Excellence is our Passion."

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February 9, 2011

Inventory Key To Housing Stability

Tighter inventory levels made the last decade one of the healthiest periods on record for Canadian real estate, insulating markets in major centres from ups and downs, says a report by RE/MAX. The ‘Housing Barometer Report’ found that strong seller's/balanced conditions prevailed, prompting significant gains in housing values. The lone exception was when the market dipped into buyer's territory during the latter half of 2008 and early 2009. However, fewer listings offset diminished demand and provided greater stability. Average price increases from 2000 to 2010 ranged from 4.82 per cent in London-St. Thomas, ON, to a high of 9.56 per cent in Regina, SK. The national average was 6.82 per cent. The tightest market was in Winnipeg, MB, where sellers ruled for 85 per cent of the decade, followed by Hamilton-Burlington, ON (67 per cent), Regina, SK (63.6 per cent), Kitchener-Waterloo, ON (59.8 per cent), and Edmonton, AB (57.5 per cent). First-time buyers comprised the vast majority of purchasers, with move-up buyers in close pursuit. 

Ply Gem Safety Programs Recognized

Ply Gem Canada has earned a Certificate of Recognition from the Alberta Construction Safety Association for safety programs across its operations. The window and door producer earned an overall score of 99 per cent on its audit, one of the highest scores achievable through the program. Ply Gem says the achievement is a result of the integration of safety into its culture and effective management of the complex safety systems required for a large multi-location business.

Caesarstone Wins Sustainability Award

The NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) honoured Caesarstone Canada’s recycled quartz-surface product with the ‘2011 Design Award for Best Green Sustainable Product’ in the kitchen and bath industry. Colours from its collection contain 17 to 42 per cent first quality reclaimed quartz from the fabrication process and post-consumer recycled glass and mirrors, reducing the demand for primal raw materials.

GE, EPA Partner For Responsible Disposal

GE Appliances & Lighting became the first appliance manufacturer to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its ‘Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program’ to help protect the ozone layer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The voluntary program focuses on appliance recycling best practices, including the recovery of foam in used refrigerators, which typically ends up in landfills.

February 9 Weekly Product Spotlight

• Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation has launched two trade-specific woodcutting blades. Its ‘Flush Cut Sawzall Blade’ addresses frustrations associated with window and door cut-out applications. Its ‘Rough-In Sawzall Blade’ addresses problems encounterd when cutting through-holes in nail-embedded wood during plumbing and HVAC rough-in work.
• Delta’s ‘In2ition’ combination showerhead and handshower can run separately or simultaneously, giving the homeowner two streams of water at once. Traditional models have a five-setting handshower and classic models offer four settings. Both offer a pause setting to help conserve water when a full stream is not needed. 
• Air King’s line of ENERGY STAR qualified ventilation products are designed to meet all budgets and styles. Exhaust fans include ‘Deluxe Quiet,’ ‘High-Performance,’ and fire-rated products. Range hoods include under cabinets, wall-mounted chimney, ‘Professional Canopy Series,’ and ‘Powered Insert Series.’

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February 8, 2011

Building Permits Rise

The value of building permits for December rose 2.4 per cent to $5.7 billion, says Statistics Canada. The increase follows two consecutive months of decline and is attributable to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario. In the residential sector, permits rose 21.2 per cent to $3.8 billion in December. Intentions increased 55.3 per cent to $1.6 billion for multi-family units, and rose 3.6 per cent to $2.1 billion for single-family. The value of non-residential permits fell 22 per cent to $1.9 billion – the lowest level since January 2010. Total value of permits climbed in half of the provinces, led by Ontario. Quebec posted the biggest decline.

Canadians Planning Projects

More than 70 per cent of Canadians are planning DIY projects in 2011, says a survey by Marketplace Events. As well, more than 39 per cent have made eco-friendly changes to their home to save money and are planning more in the future. Forty-six per cent are planning a remodel in 2011, 39 per cent interior design projects, 36 per cent major landscaping or patio/deck projects, and 28 per cent basement finishing/remodeling projects. Twenty-two per cent will spend more than $10,000 on these home improvements.

Home Hardware Seeking More Space

Home Hardware Stores Ltd. is looking to expand its distribution centre in Debert, NS. It purchased an additional 17 acres of land near its current facility, says the Truro Daily News. But it need to first get environmental approval before it can complete the deal with the Colchester Regional Development Agency (CoRDA), since a portion of the land is deemed wetland by the Department of Environment. Home Hardware currently owns about 40 acres of distribution space in the town and has three other facilities in St. Jacobs and Elmira, ON; and Wetaskiwin, AB.

Kitchen & Bath Dealers Optimistic

Kitchen and bath dealers are optimistic heading into 2011, says the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association) ‘Market Index’ (KBMI). Taken from a survey of approximately 150 dealers across North America, it found that their confidence is up 23 points from last quarter. As well, showroom visits were up 38 per cent from the previous quarter and up 21 per cent from last year; 79 per cent anticipate an increase in the first quarter and one per cent anticipate a decrease. Quarterly kitchen remodels sales volume was up 113 per cent and up 110 per cent from last year. Bathroom remodel sales volume was up 105 per cent from the previous quarter and up 50 per cent from last year. “Hopefully this KBMI is a sign that the kitchen and bath industry is also on the right path and that the economy is slowly moving towards recovery," says Don Sciolaro, NKBA CEO.

Optimism About Recovery Drops

Canadians are less optimistic about the outlook for the national economy and their personal financial situation in 2011 than they were last year, says the ‘January 2011 RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index (RBC CCO).’ Less than half (43 per cent) of Canadians feel the economy will improve over the next year, a marked decline from the 56 per cent reported in last January's RBC CCO. In addition, only 38 per cent of Canadians now feel their personal financial situation will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 45 per cent a year ago. The prevailing mood was reflected in the tight rein many Canadians kept on their expenses over the past holiday season, with 67 per cent responding that they managed not to overspend their holiday budgets.

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February 7, 2011

Home Hardware Reaches Credit Services Deal

Pacific & Western Bank of Canada will provide financing and credit services for Home Hardware's Homecard program used at its more than 1,080 locations across Canada. "We are proud to partner with Pacific & Western, two Canadian companies working together to continue to offer our customers convenient and affordable financing options for all their projects from decorating to renovating," says Paul Straus, president and CEO, Home Hardware.

Canadian Family Businesses Strongly Positioned

Canadian family businesses are in better shape than their global counterparts and strongly positioned to compete in the future, says the ‘Global Family Business Survey 2010-2011’ by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It found 66 per cent of Canadian respondents experienced modest to significant growth in demand for their products/services, compared to 45 per cent of counterparts in other mature global markets. Five per cent of Canadian companies experienced a significant reduction compared to 15 per cent in other markets. Thirty-one per cent of Canadian family businesses increased spending over the last 12 months, 67 per cent have access to surplus cash flow, and 97 per cent are very or somewhat competitive in their markets. Regarding succession, when asked how many successors for key senior roles are likely to be family members, 31 per cent said none, 20 per cent said two, and only 16 per cent said three to five. When asked if they anticipate any change in ownership, 27 per cent said yes, within the next five years. Fifty-one per cent say they have chosen the next business leader, but 49 per cent have not.

Weyerhaeuser Posts Profit

Weyerhaeuser Co.’s fourth-quarter net profit totalled $171 million, compared with a loss of $175 million in the same year-ago period. Quarterly revenue rose to $1.66 billion from $1.46 billion in the previous year. For the year, net income was $1.28 billion, compared with a loss of $545 million in 2009. Revenue increased to $6.6 billion from $5.5 billion in 2009.

Dow Corning’s Earnings Fall

Dow Corning Corp.’s fourth-quarter earnings dropped 13 per cent to $251 million, despite higher sales, the adhesives maker says. Income fell 16 per cent to $164.5 million from $196.5 million a year earlier and revenue rose seven per cent to $1.58 billion from $1.47 billion a year earlier. For the year, it earned $866 million, up 45 per cent from $598.1 million in 2009. Revenue increased 18 per cent to nearly $6 billion from $5.09 billion a year earlier.

Snap-on Profit Up 58 Per Cent

Snap-on Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit grew 58 per cent to $57.9 million from $36.6 million. Quarterly revenue rose 13 per cent to $696.9 million from $618.1 million. Revenue from its commercial and industrial group grew 14 per cent to $281.5 million, tool sales rose 13 per cent to $268.2 million, and repair systems and information revenue rose 15 per cent to $231.8 million.

Flat Glass Demand Approaching $90 Billion

World demand for flat glass will rise six per cent per year through 2014 to almost $90 billion in 2014 or 8.1 billion square metres, says a study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. Gains will be driven mainly by the building construction and motor vehicles markets. In both developed and developing countries, fabricated flat glass will benefit from rapid growth in demand for more expensive products such as solar control glass, low-e glass, smart glass, self-cleaning glass, and heads-up-display (HUD) windshields.

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February 4, 2011

Composite Decking Demand Climbing

U.S. demand for decking is expected to rise 2.7 per cent per year to 3.5 billion lineal feet or $6.2 billion in 2014, says a study by The Freedonia Group, Inc. Composite decking will account for nearly 70 per cent of growth, fuelled mainly by its low maintenance requirements, resemblance to wood decking, perceptions of it being environmentally friendly, and the introduction of hidden fastener systems that facilitate installation. Wood decking will continue to account for the majority of demand, however, it is forecast to rise only one-half of one per cent annually to 2.7 billion lineal feet in 2014. Gains will be restrained by competition from composite and plastic decking materials and interest in tropical hardwoods, such as ipe, which will provide growth opportunities in the residential and non-building construction markets. Through 2014, decking demand in the residential market will advance at the most rapid pace, supported by homeowners’ desire for larger decks. Decking demand in the non-residential market is projected to rise 2.4 per cent annually through 2014, as rebounding office and commercial construction expenditures drive growth. 

Costco Reports January Increase

Costco Wholesale Corp posted a nine per cent rise in January sales at stores open at least a year, thanks to higher gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies, the company says. Net sales were $6.3 billion for January, up 12 per cent from $5.62 billion last year. For its international segment, it recorded 16 per cent same-store sales growth, while U.S. same-store sales rose six per cent.

Consumers Making A Statement

Canadian consumers are focusing primarily on cost and quality, says a study by American Express – ‘Consumer Spending Futures: The New Era of Pause and Purchase.’ "We're seeing a 180-degree turnaround from the last decade where consumption was conspicuous,” says Jennifer Hawkins, vice-president and general manager, consumer products and partnerships. “Now people are buying to make a statement about the kind of world they want to live in." The report uncovered four key consumer spending trends. ‘SLEDS’ (Supporting Local Economies Through Direct Spending) buy to be part of their local community and are shopping for more sustainable products. ‘V-tailing’ (Value Retailing) reflects less shopping, choosing products that represent value for money, and value from brands that align with their own desire for simplicity and ethical living; ‘SMUGS’ (Socially-Mobile Ultra-Green Seniors), Canada's 55 to 64-year-olds, are challenging traditional notions of the baby boomer generation by valuing individual freedom, luxury, and new experiences; and ‘Re(n)tail,’ cost-conscious young consumers aged 18 to 34, who were brought up in an era of online sharing and collaboration, and are downsizing and simplifying their possessions and experiencing products and services rather than owning them.

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February 3, 2011

IRLY Welcomes Owners

IRLY Distributors and IRLY Building Centres welcome Shawn and Suzie Fadear, new owners of Barriere Building Centre in Barriere, BC. The Fadears own highway frontage property and plan to relocate the store to a new building they plan to construct. The store will have a larger selection of products, a landscape and garden centre, and tool rentals.

Whirlpool Earnings Rise

Whirlpool Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings increased 80 per cent, thanks to lowered costs and a $46 million tax benefit, the appliance maker says. Fourth-quarter sales fell in North America and Europe, but gains in Latin America and Asia helped offset drops. Quarterly earnings were $171 million, up from $95 million a year earlier. Revenue rose four per cent to $5.04 billion from $4.86 billion.

RONA Increases Offering

RONA inc. has increased its previously announced public offering of Series 6 Class A preferred shares from $125 million to $150 million. RONA also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an additional 900,000 shares, up from 750,000. If the option is exercised in full, the total gross proceeds to RONA will be $172.5 million.

Quebec Retail Sales Increase

Retail sales in Quebec were $99.9 billion in 2010, a 6.6 per cent increase over 2009, says an economic study by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD)/Retail Council of Quebec. Home furnishing stores were among sectors exceeding the 6.6 per cent average growth rate (+11.6 per cent). Two sectors saw a drop in sales: renovation, hardware, building, and gardening centres (-1.1 per cent) and miscellaneous retailers (-1.3 per cent).

Sears Names Craftsman Chief

Scott Freidheim is Sears Holdings’ executive vice-president, president – Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard. Prior to joining Sears in 2009, Freidheim was with Lehman Brothers for more than 17 years, where he held various positions.

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February 2, 2011

RONA Announces $125 Million Offering

RONA inc. is issuing up to $143 million worth of preferred shares to a syndicate of underwriters led by National Bank Financial Inc. and BMO Capital Markets. The underwriters agreed to buy at least five million shares at $25 each, for a total of $125 million in gross proceeds, which could increase to $143.75 million if the underwriters fully exercise their over-allotment option. The Series 6 Class A preferred shares will pay $1.31 per year in fixed cumulative dividends, yielding 5.25 per cent per year. The dividend rate will be reset every five years starting in March 2016. RONA says the offering will strengthen its balance sheet and boost its financial flexibility, with net proceeds going towards reducing debt and funding acquisitions and capital projects.

Colour Zoning Growing Popular

Colour zoning is coming back in a big way this year, says paint brand Sico. The decorating technique involves using blocks of colour or shapes such as squares, rectangles, stripes, or circles to highlight walls and outline special architectural elements and furnishings. Sico attributes the growing popularity to an increase in people’s desire to express themselves through home décor. “People today invest more time in decorating their surroundings and are demonstrating this by using colour in unique ways to deliver personal style to their living spaces,” says Dominique Pépin, marketing manager. In response, Sico has launched a colour-zoning brochure with creative design and colour ideas.

Arrow Gives Away Camaro

Software engineer Dana Bulpett, of Apex, NC, won a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro through Arrow Fastener’s ‘Arrow Camaro Sweepstakes’ on Facebook. As well, 220 entrants won a T50 R.E.D. and 20 people won a set of R.E.D. tools. The sweepstakes was a marketing campaign for the company’s R.E.D. product line and generated more than 25,000 entries.

IKEA Show Display Awarded

IKEA's 980 square-foot kitchen was awarded a ‘Gold booth’ award for the third year in a row at the 2011 Interior Design Show in Toronto, ON. The display featured an all black modern country kitchen on an exaggerated scale.

February 2 Weekly Product Spotlight

• Techniseal launched its ‘HP2 Polymeric Sand,’formulated for tough applications. It offers strength and durability for paver joints and is suited for areas with high humidity and false joints. It can be used for joints up to 4” wide and is a suitable choice for natural stone projects, the company says.
• Garaga Inc.’s ‘Cambridge’ garage door will be available this spring. Inspired by the old-world style of Cambridge, MA, it features recessed panel doors with overlays of rich wood grain finish, without the maintenance of traditional wood. It’s available in a five panel colours and three overlay colours.
• Swanson Tool Company’s ‘Speed Line Marking Products’ include PVC marking flags that are glued, not wrapped, and material that is resistant to breaking and tearing in high winds. Products are available in a range of materials, colours, and dimensions for various jobsites – from lawn layouts to crowd and animal control.
• Laurentide Paint is unveiling a series of four colours charts for 2011/2012. Each chart features colour personalities ‘Creative,’ ‘Expressive,’ ‘Natural,’ and ‘Romantic.’ They will be made available this spring to all Laurentide retailers in Québec and Atlantic Canada.

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February 1, 2011

RONA Acquires Plumbing Supplier

RONA inc., through its Noble subsidiary, has acquired La Boutique Plomberie Décoration 25 Inc., which specializes in the retail sale of plumbing products and fixtures to contractors, plumbers, and consumers. With more than 25 years of experience in the market, it has a parts outlet and a retail store in St-Eustache, QC, with a 15,000 square-foot showroom. RONA says the acquisition is another step towards establishing a national platform in the commercial and professional market.

Dulux Launches Colour-matching Tool

Dulux Paints has introduced an electronic colour-measuring tool that can automatically suggest ideal hues for a room. The ‘Dulux Inspirations tool’ can capture, for example, the shades of fabric, clothing, a photo, rock, or leaf, and provide a colour match displayed on a built-in screen. Electronic swatches of other colours provide both matching and contrasting options that work best with the scanned hue and other design elements in the room. The tool is available at any ICI Paints, Glidden, Color Your World, or Betonel store.

Lowe’s Makes Appointments

Lowe's president and chief operating officer, Larry Stone, will retire June 2 after more than 40 years with the company. The company also promoted Robert J. Gfeller Jr. to executive vice-president, merchandising, replacing Nick Canter who previously announced his retirement, effective in March. As well, Rick D. Damron is executive vice-president, store operations; William D. Robinson is senior vice-president, customer support services; and Richard D. Maltsbarger is senior vice-president, strategy.

Rental Businesses More Optimistic

More than 80 per cent of rental store owners and managers expect 2011 to be a much better year than 2010, says the quarterly American Rental Association (ARA) ‘Economic Survey’ of members. More than 34 per cent expect double-digit revenue increases in 2011 over 2010, and another 46 per cent expect at least single-digit increases this year. Nearly 70 per cent of the respondents also expect to spend more on new rental equipment purchases in 2011 compared to 2010. Less than 20 per cent of the associate member respondents said sales into the rental channel decreased in 2010 while only one per cent expect a decrease in 2011.

Landscape Ontario Reports Success

Landscape Ontario’s Congress – which ran from January 11 to 13 at the Toronto Congress Centre – reports a “strong” show attendance of 11,422. “There was a nice positive tone to this year’s congress,” says Tony DiGiovanni, executive director. “Despite a little apprehensiveness from some of our members about next year’s business environment, the general feeling is that we are in the right business for the current economic situation.” Environmentally friendly products also had a strong presence at the show. For the second year in a row, the winner of the People's Choice Award for best new or green product was the Green Roof/Green Walls system by Sedum Master. Runner-up was Natural Insect Control's Islandscapes - Floating Island.

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January 31, 2011

Tembec Down First Quarter


Forest products company Tembec Inc. reported a first-quarter net loss of 33 per cent to $12 million, despite higher sales. Operating earnings before depreciation, amortization and other non-recurring items (EBITDA) increased by $7 million to $11-million compared to last year, but fell from $36 million in the fourth quarter. The company says results were impacted by planned maintenance downtime, a higher Canadian dollar, the inability to fully capture higher lumber prices, and lower shipments of chemical pulp.

AFA Opening Saskatoon DC

AFA Forest Products Inc will open a new distribution centre in Saskatoon, SK on or before February 28th, 2011. It marks another “key” goal in its strategic planning being met and furthers AFA’s commitment to its partners and clients, the company says. The facility will have a team dedicated to service, sales, customer support, and promotional activities throughout the region.

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January 28, 2011

Stanley B&D Acquisitions Paying Off

Stanley Black & Decker’s fourth-quarter net income improved to $137.8 million from $56.7 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue more than doubled to $2.41 billion from $969.4 million a year ago, thanks mainly to the acquisition of Black & Decker. The company now expects the Black & Decker acquisition will save $425 million by the end of 2012, higher than the $350 million originally estimated.

Richelieu Reports Strong Growth

Richelieu Hardware’s fourth-quarter consolidated sales rose 8.5 per cent compared to last year. For 2010, consolidated sales grew by 7.6 per cent, an increase of 32 per cent. It reported a positive net cash balance of $36.4 million and working capital of $162.7 million, after the closing of six acquisitions for a $17.7 million investment. "We drew upon all our strengths to take advantage of the growth of the Canadian economy, and we seized solid expansion opportunities in the United States,” says Richard Lord, president and CEO.

Newell Rubbermaid Up 25 Per Cent

Newell Rubbermaid’s fourth-quarter net income climbed 25 per cent to $75.7 million, from $60.6 million earned in the same period last year. Revenue rose three per cent to $1.47 billion, from $1.42 billion last year. For the year, net income increased three per cent to $292.8 million and revenue also increased three per cent to $5.76 billion from $5.58 billion last year.

CHHMA Announces Speakers

Frank Turco, senior manager, trend and design, global sourcing, for The Home Depot Canada, will speak at this year’s Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA) Spring Conference & AGM. As well, Jim Moore from SkillPath will provide a morning keynote address titled ‘Recession + Recovery = Our New Reality; How to Adapt, Grow, and Capitalize for Greater Success.’ The event takes place on April 5 at the International Centre Conference in Mississauga, ON. For more information, visit http://www.chhma.ca/Public/CHHMA-Events

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January 27, 2011

Walmart Canada Opening 40 Supercentres

Walmart Canada plans to open 40 supercentres in the next fiscal year, running from February 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012. The projects include building new stores and expanding, remodelling, or relocating existing stores. The undertaking represents an investment of more than half a billion dollars in communities and will generate more than 9,200 store and construction jobs, Walmart says. Specific locations will be announced over the coming weeks and months. The company also says it will bring the supercentre program for the first time to Manitoba and Quebec in 2011.

Lowe’s Cutting 1,700 Managers

Lowe's Cos is cutting about 1,700 middle-manager positions across the U.S. and will add 8,000 to 10,000 hourly and part-time staff on weekends. Lowe’s Canada is adopting a similar store management structure, but no Canadian management jobs will be lost in this implementation, says Jaclyn Pardini, Lowe’s public relations. The retailer plans on redefining hundreds of middle-management jobs and will eliminate those between assistant store manager and store manager.

January 26 Weekly Product Spotlight

• Arrow Fastener Company, LLC is introducing its ‘R.E.D.’ (Reliable. Ergonomic. Durable) product line. It includes an evolution of its ‘T50 Heavy Duty’ staple gun, the ‘ET50’ electric staple and 1” nail gun, the ‘HT50i’ hammer tacker, and the EBN320 electric brad nail gun. The tools will bring added power and versatility to the job site, the company says.
• Ply Gem Canada launched its ‘PrismaClad Colour’ program that allows customers to choose from a wider selection of window exterior colours for their homes. The program brings more than 40 hues to its ‘Elite Series Regency’ and ‘Fusion’ windows, and the ‘DuraMatch’ colour matching process enables builders and remodelers to match window colours with existing ones.

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January 26, 2011

Consumers More Optimistic

Canadian consumer confidence increased in January as more are feeling better about jobs, finances, and making a major purchase, says the Conference Board of Canada. The board's consumer confidence index rose 7.1 points over December to 88.1. Healthy gains were made in Ontario and the Prairie provinces, which offset weaker results in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and B.C. Forty-four per cent said now is a good time to make a major purchase, such as a major appliance, car, or house – a 5.5 percentage point rise following seven straight months of pessimism. In January, 28.1 per cent said their financial situation would improve over the next six months, an increase of 3.3 percentage points from December. There was also more optimism about employment, with 21.3 per cent saying there would be more job opportunities in six months, an increase of 1.4 percentage points.

Ethical Consumption Climbing

A growing number of Canadians are making purchasing decisions based on ethical considerations, says a report by Statistics Canada. The ‘General Social Survey’ shows ethical consumption has increased among those 25 and older by 20 per cent since 2003. Immigrants and those 65 and older are less likely to buy products for ethical reasons, the study says. Overall, 27 per cent of consumers surveyed are staying away from some products and choosing others based on ethical concerns. Consumers in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C. were most likely to purchase based on their political views, environmental conscience, or health concerns. New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest rates of ethical consumption.

Sherwin-Williams Up InFourth Quarter

Sherwin-Williams posted fourth-quarter net income of $72.9 million, an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to $65.3 million in the same year-ago period. Quarterly sales were $1.89 billion, up 18.8 per cent from the comparable period last year, and comparable-store sales climbed 8.6 per cent for the quarter. For the full year, net income was $462.4 million, up 6.1 per cent from fiscal year 2009.

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January 25, 2011

Canadian Retailer Suing Target

Toronto, ON-based retailer Fairweather Ltd, which uses the name ‘Target Apparel,’ has filed a lawsuit in federal court against American retailer Target over use of the name. Fairweather is seeking damages for alleged trademark infringement and wants an injunction to block the chain’s use of the name as it expands into the Canadian market. Fairweather has been operating a Toronto clothing store under the name ‘Target Apparel’ since 2005 and has owned the Canadian rights to the name for 10 years, after purchasing assets from former BiWay owner Dylex Ltd.

ARA Appoints Chair

Doron Broadfoot, president of The Rent-It Store in Saskatoon, SK, is chair of the board of trustees for the American Rental Association (ARA) Foundation, a non-profit supporting the equipment rental industry since 1976. Broadfoot has been on the board since 2009, is a former regional director, and has served on ARA committees.

NHS To Feature Diverse Buyers

The 2011 National Hardware Show reports it will “feature the strongest and most diverse line-up of buyers ever, with more attendees from non-traditional retailers” such as mass merchant/specialty/internet companies including Target, Amazon.com, QVC, and Home Shopping Network. Also represented are wholesale clubs such as Costco, Sam's Club, BJs. The 2011 event will be held May 10 to 12 in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, visit http://www.nationalhardwareshow.com

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January 24, 2011

Retail Sales Up In November

Retail sales were up 1.3 per cent in November to $37.3 billion, says Statistics Canada, marking the sixth consecutive monthly rise and the largest increase since March 2010. At building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, sales climbed 1.7 per cent in November. Among all sub sectors, the largest increase was a 2.7 per cent rise at motor vehicle and parts dealers. The largest decline occurred at electronics and appliances stores where sales fell 2.2 per cent. Furniture and home furnishing store sales were down 0.3 per cent, following three consecutive monthly increases. Clothing and clothing accessories stores registered a 2.4 per cent sales increase in November. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (+1.7 per cent) rose for a third consecutive month. Regionally, the largest contributor to the national increase was Ontario (+1.2 per cent). The only decline occurred in Nova Scotia, where sales fell 0.7 per cent.

Lowe’s Appoints CIO

Michael K. Brown is executive vice-president and chief information officer for Lowe’s Companies, Inc. He replaces Steven M. Stone, who is leaving the company to pursue other interests. Brown joined Lowe’s in 1984 and has served as executive vice-president, store operations and lowes.com, since 2006.

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January 21, 2011

Leading Indicators Up In December

The composite leading index for December climbed 0.5 per cent, matching increases in October and November, says Statistics Canada. The housing index rose 1.5 per cent, the second consecutive gain after six consecutive declines, thanks to a continuing rebound in existing home sales. The improvement in existing home sales was reflected in a slower rate of decline in furniture and appliances sales in the last two months compared with the previous four. Consumer spending on other durable goods rose 1.2 per cent, the largest advance in over a year. The Toronto Stock Exchange increased 2.8 per cent in December, with metals and minerals continuing to be the driving force. Most manufacturing components weakened. New orders for durable goods fell 1.7 per cent and the ratio of shipments to inventories posted its first dip since May 2009.

CanWelBroadleaf, Ainsworth Reach Deal

CanWelBroadleaf is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Ainsworth’s ‘pointSIX Durastrand Flooring,’ commencing in late-January 2011. The flooring is an engineered subfloor solution that utilizes a patented tapered-edge technology to counteract the effects of swelling due to moisture exposure. Bob Simko, president of CanWelBroadleaf, says it will be a key component of its product line offering.

Wooster Celebrating 160 Years

The Wooster Brush Company is celebrating its 160th year in business. The Wooster, OH-based manufacturer says it has earned its reputation over the years through innovations it established first, such as the invention of the angle sash brush, the use of a synthetic brush filament, and the production of synthetic paint roller covers. As well, the company says it’s proud the average duration of service for its employees is 17 years and that it has not moved operations overseas. Today, it encompasses more than 888,000 square feet of facilities, has 520 employees, and produces more than 2,300 products. 

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January 20, 2011

Target Names Canadian Chief

Tony Fisher is president of Target Canada. In this role, Fisher will build the team, establish the headquarters, and lead the day-to-day operations of the corporation's expansion into Canada. He joined Target in 1999 and was most recently vice-president of merchandise operations.

U.S. Housing Starts Fall

U.S. housing starts in December fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000, down 4.3 per cent from November and down 8.2 per cent from December 2009, the Commerce Department says. The total number of starts for 2010 finished at 598,200, up slightly from 2009's record low of 583,000. Single-family homes were 417,000 in December, down nine per cent from November, the lowest since April 2009. However, permits for new construction jumped 16.7 per cent in December to an annualized rate of 635,000, the highest rate since last March.

Boise Cascade Appoints Vice-president

Kelly Hibbs is vice-president and controller of Boise Cascade, North American distributor of engineered wood products and plywood. Previously, he served as director of strategic planning and internal audit.

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January 19, 2011

Retailers Welcoming In-store Wi-Fi

Twenty-five per cent of North American big box and anchor tenant retailers will begin offering free in-store Wi-Fi access to shoppers in 2011, says Deloitte’s global ‘TMT (technology, media, and telecommunications) Predictions’ report. Until now, cellular data was the only connectivity available inside most stores, since retailers have always feared that online comparison shopping would hurt sales, it says. However, it has found that in-store online comparison-shopping may increase the likelihood of purchasing, not decrease it. For example, when an online search reveals that competitor’s prices are similar, many shoppers proceed with the purchase at the store they are in, rather than drive around to save a few dollars. In-store Wi-Fi could also enable a variety of advanced push applications such as localization (to allow for precise targeting) and up-sell offers.

Royal Group Makes Appointments

Chad Hall is western regional sales manager for electrical fittings in the U.S., Steven Piper is national specification manager for Canada, and Alice Tourout is customer service director for North America for Royal Group’s pipe systems division, which manufactures and sells pipe and fittings products.

January 19 Weekly Product Spotlight

• MOEN introduced its ‘1255 Duralast’ cartridge, a ceramic-disc cartridge designed to provide a consistently smooth handle feel for the life of a faucet. The smooth movement offers precise control, allowing users to fine-tune temperature balance; and keeps the handle exactly where it is turned off for convenient temperature recall.
• DOW’s ‘GREAT STUFF Work Wipes’ can safely clean most tools, hands, and remodelling messes. The specially designed 7” x 11” disposable wipes come 30 to a pack and have no harsh solvents or chemical smell. They take care of spills or misapplications on surfaces such as foam sealants, uncured caulk and adhesives, oil and grease, epoxy filler and grout, grime, ink, and tar.

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January 18, 2011

Mortgage Rules Changing

The federal government has announced changes to three key mortgage rules, set to take effect March 18. Ottawa is moving the maximum amortization period to 30 years from 35 years and lowering the refinancing limit to 85 per cent of a home's value from 90 per cent. The government is also withdrawing insurance on home equity lines of credit. Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty says the changes are intended as a preventative measure to ensure the stability of the economy and sustainable lending practices.

AZTEK Partners With PrimeSource

AZEK Building Products has partnered with PrimeSource Building Products Canada to deliver a “national two-step distribution across Canada.” AZTEK says the partnership will help bring its full suite of products to dealers, contractors, and end-users throughout the country. AZTEK branded products include trim, mouldings, deck, porch, and rail.

Stanley B&D To Sell Delta

Stanley Black & Decker is selling its Delta brand of power tools to Taiwanese-based TOTY. The new owner will invest $3.6 million into a new facility in Anderson, SC. Bryan Whiffen, formerly with Techtronic Industries North America, will be Delta Power Equipment’s CEO.

Non-residential Building Up

Investment in non-residential building construction reached $10.5 billion in the fourth quarter, says Statistics Canada, up two per cent from the third quarter. It’s the third consecutive quarterly increase and largely reflects higher spending on commercial building construction. Overall, spending on industrial projects increased slightly while investment in the institutional component edged down. Investment in non-residential building construction saw the largest gain in Ontario. The largest decline was in Alberta.

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January 17, 2011

Dynamic Distributor Of XIM

Dynamic Paint Products Inc. is the Canadian distributor of Ohio-based XIM Products, a manufacturer of specialty primers, sealers, and coatings for the architectural and industrial maintenance markets. Dynamic will distribute the products from its Mississauga, ON, and Delta, BC, warehouses.

Sears Reports Year-end Outlook

For the full year ending, Sears Holdings Corporation expects a net income of $210 million, with a fourth-quarter income expectation of between $370 million and $450 million, offsetting its past two quarterly losses. It also expects to end the fiscal year with approximately $1.1 billion in net cash balances. Approximately $600 million of net cash is expected domestically and $500 million at Sears Canada. For the fourth quarter, comparable-store sales for its Sears Domestic stores dropped 5.3 per cent, with Kmart stores experiencing an increase of 3.4 per cent.

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January 14, 2011

Target Takes Over Zellers

U.S. retailer Target is buying the store leases of 220 Zellers locations in Canada from the U.S. investor who owns the Hudson's Bay Co. assets. Target says it plans on converting 100 to 150 Zellers locations into Target stores, while selling off the remaining locations to other retailers. To revamp the stores, Target will invest $1 billion. The move, in turn, allows Hudson’s Bay Co. to focus on its Bay brand. Its chief marketing officer, Michael Francis, will serve as the executive committee sponsor of its entrance into the Canadian market.

U.S. Home Improvement Poised For Growth

The U.S. home improvement industry is poised for growth, says a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, ‘A New Decade of Growth for Remodeling.’ The industry, which saw a double-digit decline since its peak in 2007, is beginning to return to a more typical pattern of growth, it says. The number of homes in the housing stock, the age of those homes, and the income gains of homeowners making improvements point to increases in remodeling spending. In the next five years, the focus of this remodeling spending will shift from upper-end discretionary projects to replacements and systems upgrades. For contractors, it presents a number of growth opportunities generated by under investment in distressed properties, lower mobility, changing migration patterns, and the rise of environmental awareness. “Lower household mobility following the housing market crash means that in the coming years homeowners will increasingly focus on improvements with longer paybacks, particularly energy-efficient retrofits,” says Kermit Baker, director at the center.

Retailers’ Efforts Paying Off

More than one-third of the world's 250 largest retailers suffered a decline in sales in 2009 due to cautious consumer behaviour and a lack of available credit, says the ‘2011 Global Powers of Retailing’ report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. However, it finds that the efforts of retailers to cut costs and adjust their inventory levels have paid off, with net profit across the top 250 retailers increasing from 2.4 per cent in 2008 to 3.1 per cent in 2009. Regionally, the biggest increase in profitability was in Latin America, with the profit margin increasing from 1.4 per cent to 3.3 per cent. Fashion retailers put in a particularly strong performance, increasing their profit margin from 4.1 per cent to 7.6 per cent. The report is available at www.deloitte.com/consumerbusiness

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January 13, 2011

Verschuren Leaving Home Depot

After nearly 15 years of service with the Home Depot Canada, Annette Verschuren is stepping down as president, effective January 31. Aaron Carmack, the regional vice-president of the Pac North region in the U.S., will replace Verschuren. As president, Verschuren grew the Canadian division from 19 stores to 179 today. "These past 15 years have been the best of my career," says Verschuren. "However, I am ready to take some time off and then plan the next chapter of my life." Carmack joined the Home Depot in December 2003 and was promoted to regional vice-president in March 2007, overseeing more than 100 stores in northern California, Nevada, and Utah.

Unprecedented Changes In Consumer Behaviour

The convergence of economic, demographic, and technological forces will bring about “unprecedented changes” in consumer behavior, says a report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, ‘Consumer 2020: Reading the signs.’ The report draws together insights into economic and demographic trends, considerations of finite resources and sustainability, and the impact of technology on daily lives. It is available at www.deloitte.com/consumerbusiness

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January 12, 2011

Richelieu Acquires Outwater Hardware

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. has closed the acquisition of Outwater Hardware, located in Lincoln Park, NJ. For Richelieu, the acquisition represents additional sales of more than $15 million on an annualized basis and an immediate contribution to its earnings. Outwater operates a specialty and decorative hardware distribution centre that serves a base of some 18,000 residential and commercial woodworking customers and kitchen, bathroom cabinet, and furniture manufacturers in all 50 U.S. states. Richelieu says the acquisition will strengthen its presence in the U.S. where it acquired four businesses in 2010.

Bosch Appoints President

Terry Horan will succeed Manfred Seitz as president and CEO of The Robert Bosch Tool Corporation, effective April 1. Seitz will retire at the end of March 2011 after 34 years leading several different divisions of the Bosch Group. For the past six years, Horan has led its worldwide rotary tool business which includes Dremel and RotoZip.

Taiga National Distributor Of IKO

Taiga Building Products is the national distributor of IKO Industries asphalt roofing products in Canada. The combined synergy of IKO and Taiga will ensure its customers maximize the success of their roofing products category, says Chris Jones, vice-president, Allied Products. Taiga currently distributes IKO products throughout Atlantic Canada from distribution centres in Halifax, NS, and Paradise, NL.

Weekly Product Spotlight – A Brief Look At Products New To The Market

•  Saniflo Canada introduced its European-inspired SANISTAR toilet, which is mounted inside the wall and can be adjusted to the most comfortable height. With no external water tank, the flushing mechanism is built-in and fully electric. It is designed to save space and water.
•  Starborn Industries' patented SMART-BIT pre-drilling & countersinking tool is now available in Canada. It’s designed with a countersink portion that is proportionate to the head of each corresponding screw size – matching the head diameter, head angle, and countersink depth to provide an accurate hole and fit.
•  The ALL IN ONE BUCKET enhanced tool storage unit is currently available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers in Canada through InventHelp. The storage product is meant to meet the specific needs of floor installers and electricians, making it easier for them to store and transport tools and supplies.

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January 11, 2011

Building Permit Value Drops

Contractors took out $5.5 billion worth of building permits in November, says Statistics Canada, down 11.2 per cent from October and marking the second consecutive monthly decline. The drop was attributed to lower construction intentions, particularly for multi-family dwellings in B.C. and commercial buildings in Ontario. In the non-residential sector, permits fell 16.1 per cent to $2.3 billion in November, following two consecutive monthly gains. The value of residential permits decreased 7.2 per cent to $3.2 billion, also the second monthly decline in a row. In the commercial component, the value of permits fell 23.4 per cent to $1.3 billion in November, following two consecutive monthly increases. Regionally, permit value decreased in seven provinces, led by B.C., Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Quebec saw the largest increase by far.

HWD Purchases SuperSeal

Global supplier Hurd Windows & Doors (HWD) has acquired the SuperSeal Manufacturing Company, Inc., a 50-year-old, privately-held, high-end vinyl window manufacturer based in South Plainfield, NJ. Hurd President and CEO Dominic Truniger says the acquisition supports its plan to expand its product mix to address the shifting needs of construction markets, with an emphasis on the replacement window market as well as new residential and light commercial. SuperSeal will remain an independent subsidiary business of HWD and its products will continue to be marketed under the SuperSeal brand.

Hillman Group Acquires Servalite

Fastener distributor The Hillman Group, Inc. has acquired Servalite, Inc., an Illinois-based distributor of residential fasteners and related products. Through the transaction, the Hillman Group says it intends to promote the Servalite brand as its premium line of refillable assortments and electrical parts, and that the principal owners of Servalite, Tom and Jennifer Rowe, will remain in their current roles for the foreseeable future. For 2009, Servalite had annual revenues exceeding $20 million.

Valspar Appoints Technology Officer

Cynthia Arnold is senior vice-president and chief technology officer at Valspar Corp. She will lead its global technology activities.

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January 10, 2011

Lowe’s Joins European Association

Lowe's Cos. has become a member of the European DIY Retail Association (EDRA), representing home improvement retailers across the globe. Effective Feb. 1, 2011, Lowe’s will become the first North American member of EDRA's Global Home Improvement Network, which now has 29 members from 24 countries, operates in 49 countries, and represents 89 home centre companies in total.

Liquidation World Appoints CFO

Liquidation World Inc. appointed David Becker Chief Financial Officer of the company effective immediately. Chris Rath, the company's current CFO, will transition from this position into a contract consulting role effective immediately. Becker previously held the positions of CFO at both Middlebrook Pharmaceuticals Inc. and at Adams Respiratory Therapeutics Inc., NASDAQ listed companies in the U.S.

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January 7, 2011

Small Businesses Weathered Recession Better

Private small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with fewer than 300 employees coped better with the recession and were quicker to recover than larger private enterprises, says a report by RBC Economics. The relative success of private sector SMEs likely reflected lower exposure to external markets such as the U.S., it says, which saw greater weakness compared to Canada's domestic economy. Overall, employment at private SMEs – a key business indicator – fell 4.2 per cent during the recession, in contrast to 5.5 per cent among larger firms. "During difficult economic times, businesses often find themselves laying off workers and stalling their hiring initiatives," says Mike Michell, director, small business, RBC. "However, private sector SMEs appear to have created business strategies that have ultimately helped them come out of the downturn relatively unscathed."

U.S. Consumer Confidence Remains High

Consumer confidence in January, as measured by the ‘RBC Consumer Outlook Index,’ is at 44.9, just below last month's post-recession peak of 45.2. The slight dip was countered by continued gains in employment confidence, with the ‘RBC Consumer Outlook Jobs’ sub-index edging up to 52.1 from 51.8 in December and up 10 points from a year ago when it sat at 42. As well, pessimism about local economies is at the lowest level in more than a year as fewer than half (47 per cent) rate their local economy as weak – down from 51 per cent last month and 59 per cent in September 2010. The index also found that 74 per cent of Americans plan to spend at least some of the extra money they will receive through the one-year Social Security payroll tax reduction that became effective January 1, including 42 per cent who expect to spend all or most of it. Only 26 per cent said they plan to save all of their extra take-home pay from the tax cut.

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January 6, 2011

Retailers Face Challenges In New Year

Despite this year’s holiday sales gains, retailers will face a number of challenges in the new year, says Ernst & Young. These include an influx of foreign competitors, a rising Canadian dollar, and a potential decrease in consumer buying power. While national holiday sales increased a higher than expected three and four per cent in 2010, consumer behaviour is being affected by the which will likely continue to fuel cross-border traditional and online shopping. Also, higher gas prices, increased consumption taxes in certain provinces, higher interest rates, and rising prices for certain manufactured goods could further erode buying power. Today's consumers are smarter because of the experiences and strategies they've adopted over the last two years, says Daniel Baer, Ernst & Young partner and national retail industry leader. "They're proud to be value shoppers. They want their dollars to stretch further and are keeping their eyes open for the best deals."

Cheeks Named Sears President

Deidra Cheeks Merriwether is Sears Holdings senior vice-president and president – retail. Merriwether will be responsible for the oversight and leadership of retail services for all Kmart and Sears stores. Merriwether serves as a member of Sears Canada's board of directors and is the executive sponsor of the company's African American Associate Network.

Liquidation World Revenue Decreases

Liquidation World Inc.’s 2010 fiscal-year revenue decreased 2.8 per cent to $153.4 million from $157.8 million in the prior year. The operator of close-out retail stores reported a year-end net loss of $12.3 million compared to a net loss of $17.6 million in the prior year. Same store sales in fiscal 2010 decreased 2.3 per cent compared to fiscal 2009. During the year, it opened six new ‘LW - Everybody's Outlet Store’ branded stores and converted 27 legacy stores to the new banner.

Hino Trucks Rank Highest

Toyota-owned Hino Trucks engines ranked highest in customer satisfaction among conventional medium duty truck owners for a third year in a row, says the J.D. Power and Associates ‘2010 U.S. Medium Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Customer Satisfaction Study.’ Measuring customer perceptions of 2009 Class 5, 6, and 7 gasoline and diesel engines, the study measured factors such as engine reliability and dependability, accessibility to components for service/maintenance, engine warranty, engine control module (ECM), and acceleration when fully loaded.

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January 5, 2011

Greenpeace Names Retail Leaders, Laggards

RONA, Indigo Books, Kimberly-Clark, and Office Depot are among the “true leaders” working to improve forestry practices and protecting the Boreal Forest, says Greenpeace’s ‘2010 Boreal Marketplace Review,’ highlighting the performance of 23 major forest-products customers. Companies in the "failing our forests" category include Best Buy, Harlequin, Home Depot, Sears, and Toys R Us. Greenpeace says the review is meant to highlight and encourage corporate actions that promote Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, stop logging in critical wilderness areas, and adopt environmentally sustainable solutions and procurement policies to protect the Boreal Forest and woodland caribou.

Forest Trust Appoints Director

Stephen Conwell is North America director of operations for the Forest Trust, a non-profit organization which helps businesses bring sustainable products to market. As director, Conwell will work with members to meet legal and sustainability goals and extend services to more companies seeking support. In the past, he was Home Depot’s divisional and global merchandising manager, responsible for executing the company’s environmental/sustainability wood purchasing policy. Prior to that, he worked for Weyerhaeuser.

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January 4, 2011

End-of-year Consumer Confidence Steady

The overall measure of consumer confidence was steady for the last half of the year after reaching a post-recession high of 89 in February, says the Harris/Decima-Investor's ‘Group Index of Canadian Consumer Confidence.’ The index declined to 85.9 in the second quarter and 82.4 in the third quarter before leveling off and remaining consistent through the rest of the year by closing at 82.8 in November. Confidence remains well above American consumers’ but this national assessment masks the diversity of regional trends across Canada, it says. “The Prairies continue to be the most bullish, while confidence in Ontario and Quebec is moving in opposite directions lately. While Quebec's optimism closed on a decline, Ontario's saw the largest single increase of any region throughout the year," says Doug Anderson, senior vice-president.

Electric Lighting Demand Climbing

World demand for electric lighting is expected to climb 4.5 per cent annually through 2014 to $38.5 billion, says a study from research firm, The Freedonia Group, Inc. Sales will be driven by an acceleration in economic and personal income growth, a strong rebound in global motor vehicle output, and a pickup in construction activity. Overall prices are expected to drop as compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) costs decline and these products take share away from other lighting types, which will dampen dollar gains. Growth in demand is expected to slow noticeably in value terms (with dollar sales actually falling in most developed countries) from 2014 to 2019.  This will be due in part to an ongoing shift in demand toward LED lighting devices, prices for which will continue to drop at double-digit annual rates. In addition, greater use of LEDs, CFLs and other long-lasting lighting products will reduce the need to buy replacement units.

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December 24, 2010

Executives Optimistic In Economy, High Dollar

Executives are becoming increasingly optimistic, may have stopped complaining about the high Canadian dollar, and are increasing capital spending by hiring more staff and making acquisitions, says a C-Suite survey of top Canadian corporate executives. The study found that 92 per cent of executives believe the Canadian economy will grow next year, but 89 per cent feel that growth will be moderate. More than 80 per cent are making plans based on a high Canadian dollar (between 95 cents and $1US). Many prefer a lower level, but about a third say the dollar’s current value has had a positive impact on their bottom line. Forty per cent plan to use the high dollar to their advantage as an incentive to invest in new equipment and technology, and 47 per cent say they will consider acquiring foreign companies or assets as a result of the high dollar.

Owens Corning Sells Masonry Division

Owens Corning has decided to sell its masonry division to Australia-based supplier Boral Industries. Occurring in two stages, Owens Corning will first sell a 50 per cent stake in its masonry business – which produces Owens Corning Cultured Stone exterior siding. It will then be operated jointly until early 2014. At that time, Owens Corning will sell its remaining 50 per cent stake and may receive additional proceedsbased on financial performance.

Bed Bath & Beyond Earnings Up

Bed Bath & Beyond’s third-quarter earnings increased 24.6 per cent to $188.6 million, compared to $151.3 million in the same period of 2009. Sales also rose 11.1 per cent to $2.19 billion, compared to $1.98 billion last year, and comparable-store sales improved by seven per cent. The retailer says it expects to see more earnings growth next year.

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December 23, 2010

U.S. Building Permits Fall

U.S. housing starts rose 3.9 per cent in November to an annual rate of 555,000 housing starts, says the U.S. Commerce Department. However, building permits fell by four per cent to an annual rate of 530,000 in November compared to October’s 552,000. On an annual basis, November’s building permits are 14.7 per cent lower than the November 2009 level.

Lowe’s, Woolworths Acquire Australian Chain

Hardware wholesaler Danks, which is owned by Woolworths Ltd. and U.S. home improvement partner Lowe’s, has acquired the Australia-based hardware chain Magnet Mart. The Magnet Mart stores are located in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. The chain will retain its name, but will be operated by Danks as company-owned stores.

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December 22, 2010

Retail Sales Rise Again

Retail sales increased 0.8 per cent to $36.6 billion in October, says Statistics Canada, representing the fifth consecutive rise. Gains were made in seven of 11 subsectors, led by gasoline stations. Furniture and home furnishing store sales grew 2.2 per cent, with home furnishing stores reporting a 4.6 per cent gain. Sales at these stores have risen for three consecutive months, following a large decline in July. Motor vehicle and parts dealers' sales rose 0.3 per cent, a fifth consecutive monthly increase. Miscellaneous store retailers – including office supplies and stationery stores, gift stores, and pet supplies stores – reported a 1.4 per cent advance following 10 months of declines. Sales at general merchandise stores, which include department stores, decreased 1.2 per cent. Food and beverage stores dropped 0.2 per cent.

NHS To Expand Seasonal Area

The 2011 National Hardware Show (NHS) will expand its seasonal/holiday decor area to include more of the industry's leading products. With the number of hardware retailers carrying holiday décor increasing every year, holiday décor is thriving in the marketplace, says Christina Barnes, general manager of Accents Unlimited, a seasonal products company. "The National Hardware Show provides a great opportunity for companies to meet with holiday buyers to review future holiday trends, and add to their upcoming holiday selections." For more information, visit www.nationalhardwareshow.com

Canadians Prefer Self-service

Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians surveyed prefer retailers that allow them to personalize and control how they do business across self-service options such as smart phones, internet, kiosks, and ATMs. The global survey for NCR Corporation found that 68 per cent use the Web more frequently to research products and prices and switch between retailers to get better prices, deals or more loyalty rewards. Forty-four per cent would like to use their smart phone to locate stores or restaurants and download coupons to their smart phone to redeem when checking out. Also, 38 per cent would like businesses to anticipate their preferred payment method, 45 per cent their language preference, and 33 per cent their receipt preference (paper or online). And 41 per cent would like to review receipts and transactions history online through a mobile or in-store kiosk.

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December 21, 2010

Canadian Tire Makes Appointments

Candace MacLean has been promoted to vice-president and treasurer for Canadian Tire following 10 years as assistant treasurer. Glenn Butt was promoted to executive vice-president, customer experience and automotive, leading the company’s integrated automotive business and dealer relationships. Harry Taylor is senior vice-president, financial planning and analysis, a newly created role to drive strategic and operational decision support for all business units. And Rob Shields is senior vice-president, marketing, leading the company’s marketing and customer initiatives.

RONA Closes Don Park Deal

RONA inc. has closed the acquisition, through its subsidiary Noble, of the assets of Don Park Limited Partnership in Canada, a distributor and manufacturer of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products (HVAC). Don Park generates more than $90 million in sales and has more than 400 employees. It operates 14 branches, three manufacturing facilities, and one distribution centre in Ontario. RONA says the acquisition is another step toward achieving its objective of establishing a national platform in the commercial and professional market. This division now includes 62 branches and stores, four distribution centres, and three manufacturing facilities located in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Consumers Oppose Surcharging

In response to Canada's merchants seeking to implement surcharges on consumers when they pay by credit card, the Consumers Association of Canada (CAC) released the results of a survey that found 90 per cent of Canadians oppose credit card surcharging. Conducted as the Minister of Finance developed the ‘Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada,’ the survey found 75 per cent of Canadians strongly opposed to surcharging, with another 15 per cent moderately opposed. It also found 83 per cent of Canadians would be very likely to change where they shop if a merchant implemented surcharging. 

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December 20, 2010

Household Spending Declines

Average household spending in Canada declined 0.3 per cent to $71,120 in 2009, following the economic slowdown that began in the fall of 2008, says Statistics Canada. This was the first decline since the annual Survey of Household Spending was introduced in 1997. During 2009, the annual average rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index was 0.3 per cent. Average household spending declined in five provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. The largest declines occurred in Prince Edward Island (-3.1 per cent), and in Alberta (-2.2 per cent), where average spending was highest at $84,976. The largest increase was in Manitoba (+4.9 per cent), largely the result of a 5.5 per cent increase in spending on shelter. Households reduced spending in 2009 on discretionary items or those that could be postponed, such as recreation and household furnishings. One exception was spending for home repairs and maintenance, which increased 22 per cent in 2009 over 2008. In large part, this was likely due to the federal government home renovation tax credit program.

RONA Adopts Governance Policy

RONA inc. has adopted a 'pro-active' policy aimed at facilitating continuous improvement in its governance and compensation practices as well as enhanced communication with stakeholders. “This pro-active approach reflects the board’s commitment to maintaining high standards of corporate governance and transparency in line with evolving best practices,” says Jean Gaulin, chairman of the board. RONA says the policy was implemented after consultation with industry experts and its major shareholders. In accordance with the policy, RONA will now publish an overview of its governance and compensation policies on its website.

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December 17, 2010

Selection Preferred Over Advice

U.S. consumers shopping in the tools and storage categories are willing to trade advice from knowledgeable staff for a wider assortment of goods, says a survey by the NPD Group. Eighty-four per cent of respondents indicated they prefer purchasing storage/organization and tool products at larger stores with many offerings, rather than at smaller stores with consultative sales staff, but limited stock. Survey participants were also asked about shopping for holiday decorations for their homes, both interior and exterior. Consumers indicated the stores where they planned to, or had already made, purchases of seasonal decor. The top five, listed in alphabetical order, are Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, and Walmart.

Adding Staff Resolution For New Year

Adding new staff, reducing operating overheads, and introducing more performance related pay are the top New Year's resolutions for Canadian businesses, says a survey by Regus, a global provider of flexible workplace solutions. It found 45 per cent of Canadian businesses indicated that they intended to increase staff in 2011, with only four per cent responding that they would cut staff. Unlike the much criticized guaranteed bonus culture in the financial sector, Canadian businesses are planning to make performance related pay a key part of their 2011 plans, matching rewards with real results. Set against an overall bullish business outlook, high-performing staff can look forward to enhanced earnings in the New Year further highlighting that businesses see no room for complacent workers as economic recovery takes hold. "Business attitudes for 2011 show a gritty determination to go for growth and ride the wave of global economic development. Staff, especially in small-to-medium sized enterprises, will all have to make a measurable contribution to revenue growth and, in turn, will be rewarded accordingly, says Wes Lenci, regional vice-president for Canada.

Bill C-36 Becomes Law

The proposed Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, Bill C-36, completed its third reading in the Senate and will now become law. Health Canada and stakeholders will now focus on an implementation plan to support the legislation. The Act will revamp Canada's existing consumer product regulatory regime through 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.

Owens Corning Appoints Group President

Chuck Dana is Owens Corning group president, building materials; and Arnaud Genis is group president, composites, succeeding Dana. Karel Czanderna, currently building materials group president, resigned and will leave the company following a transition period. These changes are effective immediately. Dana, 55, brings more than 25 years of financial and general management experience to the role.

Deere Building China Facility

Deere & Company plans on building a factory in China to manufacture construction equipment for sale in China and for export to other markets. The facility represents an investment of approximately $50 million. The factory will produce four-wheel-drive loaders and excavators and will be located in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA). It’s Deere's sixth manufacturing location in China, two of which are joint ventures.

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December 16, 2010

Credit Card Rules Challenged

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is commending actions taken by the Competition Bureau to strike down “restrictive and anti-competitive” rules that Visa and MasterCard enforce among merchants. The bureau says the rules eliminate competition between the two credit card companies, while imposing “hidden fees” on retailers and ultimately jacking up prices for consumers. By eliminating the rules, merchants will be allowed to protect themselves by implementing surcharges on credit card purchases. Conversely, the Consumers Association of Canada expressed disappointment over the decision. “The Competition Bureau appears to have abandoned our interests in favour of the well-organized merchant lobby,” it says. The group fears that allowing retailers to surcharge on credit card purchases may expose consumers to potentially “predatory practices by merchants.” 

Consumer Confidence Remains Steady

Canadian and U.S. consumer confidence increased slightly over the past three months, says the Harris/Decima-Investor's Group ‘Index of Consumer Confidence.’ Among the results, it found that 16 per cent of Canadians feel they are better off financially compared to a year ago, while 23 per cent feel they are worse off – essentially unchanged from August. Also, half believe now is a good time to make a major purchase. Nationally, 35 per cent believe it's a bad time to make such a purchase, unchanged from August. And 27 per cent of Canadians believe they will be better off a year from now, consistent with the 26 per cent recorded in the last wave. Conversely, 12 per cent feel they will be worse off a year from now. A majority (52 per cent) believe there will be good times financially for the Canadian economy in the next five years.

Consumer Technology Trends Revealed

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP's consumer technology trends for 2011 include quicker and more secure mobile commerce capabilities, giving shoppers the ability to make on-the-go payments, and to stay logged in while they surf for more goods to buy. Also, mobile shopping cartswill soon provide suggestions, advice, and check-out options to shoppers through mobile devices and will include in-built screens on carts that remember your last visit, know your preferences, and can communicate what's in stock.

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December 15, 2010

Leading Indicator Up In November

November’s composite index grew 0.3 per cent, the same increase as October’s, says Statistics Canada. The housing index had the largest turnaround, increasing two per cent following six straight declines. Housing starts and existing home sales stabilized after retreats from their highs in the spring. The upturn reflects a levelling off of furniture and appliance sales, after four straight declines, StatsCan says. Spending on other durable goods continued to advance steadily. Manufacturing demand continued to improve as new orders rose 0.7 per cent. The ratio of shipments to inventories remained unchanged at 1.93 for the third straight month, as the growth of inventories catches up to the recovery of sales. Also, the Toronto stock market made a 2.8 per cent gain in November, driven by the strength in commodity prices. The U.S. leading indicator also rose again slowly, up 0.2 per cent.

ILDC Member Receives Honorary Doctorate

St. Francis Xavier University has honoured Steve Smith, president and CEO of Central Home Improvement Warehouse in Nova Scotia, and member of ILDC, at a ceremony in December. Smith received an honorary Doctorate for the work he has done to raise money for the institution over the years.

Can-Save Announces 2011 EXPO

Can-Save’s 20th-anniversary summer EXPO will take place June 2, 2011 at the Barrie Molson Centre in Barrie, ON. The EXPO is a full-day buying show for dealers throughout Ontario, where attendees can learn about product lines and participate in seminars. For more information, visit http://www.cansave.ca.

Weekly Product Spotlight – A Brief Look At Products New To The Market

▪        CertainTeed’s ‘SilentFX’ gypsum board aims to improve acoustical performance for the construction market. It maintains a high sound transmission class (STC) rating of 50 and higher, and allows acoustical control with less material than traditional gypsum boards, saving on installation time and materials, the company says.
▪        StairLighting System LLC introduced its ‘DeckLighting Systems’ with a custom low-voltage DC system and easy-to-use Plug & Play wiring harness. The system’s Decklighting Kit was especially developed to reduce installation times, while lighting deck rails, stairs, and posts through Energy Star-certified power-delivery technology.
▪        Napoleon Fireplaces released its minimalist-inspired 'GD36MN Manhattan' direct-vent gas fireplace. Its clear glass front and metal panels frame the flame and, through its design, it can be placed higher up on a wall in any room. Rather than traditional logs, its ‘Topaz CRYSTALINE’ ember bed can be customized with different accenting colours to match the room’s décor.

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December 14, 2010

Wal-Mart Leaving Russia

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is closing its Moscow office which it opened a few years ago, stating it no longer wants to build an operation in Russia from scratch. The company was looking at entering the Russian market through an acquisition, but it hasn’t been able to find a partner.

NRC Launches Code Changes

The National Research Council Canada (NRC) released the 2010 editions of the National Model Construction Codes. The 2010 editions incorporate nearly 800 changes addressing technological advances and health and safety issues. Key changes include green 'running man' exit pictogram instead of red EXIT/SORTIE sign; emphasis on radon limits; safer spatial separation between buildings through additional fire protection; guards to protect against falls from residential windows; and updates to earthquake design and seismic values.

Home Depot Provides How-to Community

The Home Depot has launched an online ‘how-to’ community at community.homedepot.com, which provides discussion for DIY’ers on projects such as paint, tools, garden, and repair. The community features store associates, trained in multi-media technologies, available to help “in ways that savvy consumers now expect,” the company says.

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December 13, 2010

Castle, Orgill Reach A Deal

Castle Building Centres and Orgill, Inc., the largest independently owned hardlines distributor in the U.S., have formed a partnership to serve the Canadian independent retailer. Castle President Ken Jenkins says the deal had been in the works for a few years, while Orgill President Ron Beal says it has been exploring how to best serve Canada for the past 15 years, and that the “stars became aligned over the last several months.” “Orgill will offer a “truly unique solution” to the Canadian market, Jenkins says, through “an unmatched cost position and an incredible fill rate commitment it will create an advantage for us in the martketplace.” And both share a similar focus as Castle is committed to meeting the needs of the independent and Orgill’s model is designed to meet those specific needs. As well, Orgill’s international reach – operating in more than 50 countries around the globe, with sizable infrastructure in Asia and buying offices in China and Taiwan – will strengthen Castle’s position, Jenkins says. Rather than becoming part of its international division, Castle will be integrated into Orgill’s core business in North America, part of what Beal calls its “organic” growth. Based on the sale of CanWel Hardware and the acquisition of TruServ, the time for change is now, Jenkins says, and provides "Castle with industry leading competitiveness with no financial liability to our shareholders. There is a new reality, or a 'Revolution' as we call it, about to take place in the hardware distribution segment of our industry," and Jenkins believes his members will be leading the charge.

Consumers Conducting Research Beforehand

Seventy-six per cent of Canadians will conduct online research before heading out to shop for gifts in-store, says study by Staples Canada and Angus Reid. That figure is up more than 26 per cent from last year. While most Canadians will research gift ideas online this year, 91 per cent of people say they still plan to purchase gifts in-store, once they have completed their Internet research.

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December 10, 2010

Home Depot Introduces App

The Home Depot has launched a free iPhone app., allowing customers to access product information on the go. It features a location finder, product search, product availability and deals viewer, and organizers to create wish lists for upcoming trips or future projects. 

Canadians Wait To Make Key Purchases

Canadians historically wait until December 23 to make key holiday purchases, says a study by the Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation. In 2009, the data shows that day not only reflected the month's greatest amount of spend for in-store Interac debit purchases ($860 million), but also marked the busiest shopping day with the highest number of in-store Interac debit transactions (16.1 million). This day continues to be the busiest shopping day of the year (up from the 15.9 million transactions processed on the same day in 2008).

Consumers Favour Transitional

A Weiser’s brand study found that 50 per cent of participants favour a transitional style for their home décor, which demonstrates a growing trend toward incorporating both traditional and contemporary styles. “Since trends and personal tastes are always changing more people are choosing designs that are dynamic and will work with a range of home fashion styles,” says Mark Wallace, of parent company Stanley Black & Decker. The findings have inspired modern lockset designs by the company, and are defining new looks for home security.

Eco Fee Failure Holds Lessons

Charging producers for the life cycle cost of waste management is contentious, as shown by the recent controversy over ‘eco fees’ in Ontario, but it can be an effective policy tool if done right, says a study by the C.D. Howe Institute. ‘The Eco-Fee Imbroglio: Lessons from Ontario's Troubled Experiment in Charging for Waste Management’ examines the benefits of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for waste management, when properly designed. EPR programs need not suffer the same fate as Ontario’s, the authors say; they can work by setting realistic waste diversion targets; increasing competition among individual and collective waste diversion systems set up by producers; ensuring balanced representation between industry, environmental groups, and the public; and providing inducements to consumers to participate in the EPR program. To view the study, visit http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/Commentary_316.pdf.

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December 9, 2010

Home Depot Raises Forecast

At its 2010 Investor and Analyst Conference, the Home Depot Inc. raised its 2010 earnings guidance for the second time in two months thanks to better-than-expected November sales. It now expects sales to rise by about 2.3 per cent for the year. Across the globe, its non-U.S. business had mixed results. Stores in Mexico have been a source of strength, but its business in China remains "problematic." It noted that U.S. homeowners continue to focus on smaller projects as the housing market remains uncertain and unemployment remains stuck at its highest level in decades. It plans to open 10 new stores in 2011, including seven in Mexico, and it plans $1.3 billion in capital expenditures and about $2.5 billion in share repurchases.

RONA To Pay Semi-annual Dividend

RONA inc. has started a new dividend policy under which a cash dividend will be payable to holders of its common shares on a semi-annual basis. The board declared the first payment under the new policy, a seven-cent per share dividend payable on March 25, 2011, to holders of record on March 10, 2011. RONA's board will review the policy from time to time in light of its cash flow, earnings, financial position, and other relevant factors. "The commencement of a dividend policy at RONA clearly illustrates how confident we are with the execution of our strategic plan, no matter the temporary slowdown in our industry”, says Robert Dutton, president and CEO.

World Kitchen Acquires Snapware

World Kitchen, LLC and its parent corporation, WKI Holding Company, Inc., acquired Snapware Corporation, a privately held company based in Mira Loma, CA. World Kitchen – producer of well-known brands such as Corelle, Pyrex, and CorningWare – says it plans to invest significantly in Snapware's brand equity and expand distribution of products which include storage and organization solutions such as Snapware and Snap 'N Stack. The acquisition is subject to regulatory and Snapware shareholder approval and is expected to be completed before the end of Dec. 2010. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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December 8, 2010

Small Businesses Report Slight Downturn

Almost half of Canadian small business owners report a downturn in business – despite a strengthening Canadian dollar, job creation, and a strong holiday shopping season – says the quarterly ‘American Express Small Business Monitor,’ conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion. The survey found 47 per cent of small business owners across the country report either a "slight" or "significant" downturn to their business, a number that has climbed five points since August and 10 points since May. Correspondingly, those reporting an improvement to their business has fallen eight points during the same period. Small business owners may also be more risk averse as 19 per cent said they’re willing to take "significant" or "above average" risks, down from 23 per cent in May and 25 per cent in January. Despite the situation, outlook remains positive. The Index measures the confidence, performance, and attitudes of Canadian small business owners, and that was unchanged in the latest quarter, at 64 per cent or ‘C.’

Window & Door Demand Rebounding

Demand for windows and doors in the U.S. is forecast to rise 6.6 per cent per year to $31.2 billion in 2014, a rebound from the 2004-2009 period when demand fell 4.3 per cent annually, says a report from research firm The Freedonia Group. The study, ‘Windows & Doors,’ found that while housing completions will remain below peak levels of 2006, the recovery in new home construction will fuel above-average gains in the residential market. Among material types, plastic windows and doors will see the most rapid growth through 2014, advancing over 10 per cent per year to $7.4 billion. Gains will be spurred by rising demand for fibreglass entry doors, which will take market share from wood and steel entry doors. Metal windows and doors accounted for the largest share of demand in 2009, overtaking wood products. Demand for wood windows and doors is forecast to rise 7.2 percent per year to $10.9 billion in 2014.   

Weekly Product Spotlight – A Brief Look At Products New To The Market

▪ LaddderWrap is a thick piece of orange silicon rubber with a black nylon strap and buckle, which attaches to the top of any ladder. It protects the wall from damage and helps prevent slippage because of the non-skid material. It can fit a wide variety of ladder types and can be used indoors or out.
▪ Owens Corning launched its ‘EcoTouch PINK FIBERGLAS,’ manufactured with more than 70 per cent recycled content – the highest content for fibreglass insulation in Canada, it says. Through ‘PureFiber’ technology, it’s made with natural materials and a formaldehyde-free formulation.
▪ Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation is expanding its M12 and M18 Lithium-Ion systems with the introduction of ‘ProPEX’ installation tools with auto-rotating expansion heads. Designed for easy one-handed use, the tools allow users to install fittings up to four times faster, it says, and are compatible with over 25 tools on their respective battery platforms.

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December 7, 2010

Castle Partners With TSC Stores

Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. has partnered with TSC Stores’ new wholesale operating division, TSC Country Pro Services, to provide hardlines to Castle members in Ontario and Manitoba. The deal will help address the unique needs of rural and suburban stores and will, over time, grow beyond Ontario and Manitoba, the groups say. “We are extremely happy to have come to a commercial agreement with London, ON-based TSC. They are very well positioned to offer our members in Central Canada an excellent level of service and help to fulfill the hardlines needs of our members,” says James Jones, Castle vice-president. “Castle members will be provided access to our online web ordering tool offering over 18,000 SKUs including hardlines and TSC rural lifestyle assortments,” says Greg Hicks, TSC Country Pro President. “The program will include competitive freight rates, field support, strong service levels, and special offerings catered specifically to Castle.”

October Building Permits Fall

Building permit value fell 6.5 per cent in October to $6.2 billion, compared to an increase of 14.9 per cent in September, says Statistics Canada. In the residential sector, the value of permits dropped 11.2 per cent from September to $3.4 billion in October, after two consecutive monthly gains. The decrease was due to declines in both single- and multi-family permits issued in Ontario and Quebec. In the non-residential sector, value remained at $2.7 billion as higher commercial and industrial construction intentions offset a decline in the value for institutional projects. The total value of permits decreased in half of the provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec. Newfoundland and Labrador had the largest increases.

Tarkett Acquires Centiva

International flooring producer Tarkett has acquired the Centiva business from International Floors of America, Inc., which specializes in luxury resilient tile for the residential and commercial markets. The move reflects its need to address the “growing demand for high-design resilient flooring in North America…” says Jeff Buttitta, president of Tarkett North America. Centiva will continue to operate as a separate brand within Tarkett's North American portfolio, maintaining distinct manufacturing and business operations in Florence, AL.

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December 6, 2010

Home Depot Honours Vendors

Scotts Canada is The Home Depot Canada’s ‘2010 Eco Options Award’ winner for its EcoSense Weed B Gone Selective Herbicide. The ‘2010 Merchandising Innovation Award’ went to Alexandria Moulding for its Flip Face Crown Moulding. Other Home Depot Canada vendor awards went to Broadleaf Logistics, Peak, Vertex, Behr Process Group, Techtronic Industries, NCI Marketing Inc., Thomas & Betts, Cooper Lighting, Scotts Canada, Masterbrand Cabinets, Masonite, and Nien Made.

CertainTeed Receives Eco-responsible Award

The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals honoured CertainTeed Corporation with a ‘2010 Communitas Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility.’ The award recognizes the company’s sustainable business practices and commitment to environmental stewardship. Recent product innovations include its Sustainable Insulation, fibreglass insulation made from a formaldehyde-free binder, 50 percent renewable content, and 35 percent recycled glass; and AirRenew, a gypsum board that helps improve indoor air quality by reducing VOCs indoors. 

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December 3, 2010

Canadian Shoppers Want Rewards

A majority of Canadians are collecting and using loyalty or rewards programs significantly more than Americans (91 per cent versus 72 per cent) and are more likely to use rewards to pay for holiday purchases (18 per cent versus eight per cent), says the ‘AIR MILES and American Express Holiday Rewards Survey.’ It also found that the majority of Canadians would use a debit or credit card (62 per cent and 61 per cent respectively) to make holiday purchases while Americans prefer dealing in cash (60 per cent). As well, Canadians may not shop for holiday gifts online as often as Americans (44 per cent versus 73 per cent), but they are close to three times more likely to head online to shop on a loyalty/rewards site (34 per cent versus 12 per cent).

International Sales Boost Kingfisher

European retailer Kingfisher plc reported a 0.3 per cent increase in third-quarter sales. Quarterly profits increased 8.2 per cent to £240million thanks to a strong performance at its international divisions which helped to offset a 3.7 per cent drop in domestic sales at stores in the U.K. and Ireland.

  Small Business Confidence Modest

Small business optimism in Canada has settled back to levels more reflective of mid-2010, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The CFIB's 'Business Barometer' index stood at 64 in November (above 50 means owners expecting stronger performance next year outnumber those expecting weaker), after a jump to 66.9 in October, suggesting that the economy is growing, but at unspectacular rates. Vice-president and chief economist Ted Mallett says "Consumer spending is not likely to be robust and seasonal inventory levels have been set accordingly."

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December 2, 2010

RONA Presents Awards

RONA inc. handed out awards during its 2011 Spring Show in Calgary, AB. ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Awards,’ which reflect strong contributions by dealer-owners, went to Jeremy Truax, owner, RONA Truax, Kingsville, ON; Marc Palsson, owner, MJ Palsson, Gimli, MB; and Stéphanie Morin and Jean Morin, owners, Quincaillerie Gauvin, L’Ancienne-Lorette, QC. ‘Initia Awards’ – honouring store managers with the initiative, involvement, and leadership qualities valued by the company – went to Bill Graham (big box category) who is responsible for three Home & Garden stores in Mississauga, ON; and to Kevin Dumontier of the RONA store in Sherwood Park, AB. The ‘Builders of Excellence’ awards went to the 10 best performing stores based on sales growth, profitability, quality of customer service, and loss control; they are: RONA, Belleville, ON; RONA Home & Garden, Mississauga Heartland, ON; RONA (formerly Chester Dawe), Kelligrews, NL; RONA Home & Garden, Grandview, BC; RONA Home & Garden, Millwoods, AB; TOTEM Calgary Contract, Calgary, AB; RONA L’entrepôt, Brossard, QC; RONA Le Régional, Drummondville, QC; Réno-Dépôt, LaSalle, QC; RONA Le Rénovateur, Thetford Mines, QC. RONA also presented ‘Prestige Partner Awards’ to nine suppliers in their respective product categories; they are Pylex, Moulding & Millwork, Kaycan, Bosch, Cooper Wiring Devices, Rust-Oleum, Venmar, and Black & Decker Outdoor. Its ‘Eco-responsible Award’ went to AbitibiBowater. As well, RONA recognized 217 employees who distinguished themselves for excellence in customer service.

PrimeSource To Acquire Langtry

Building products distributor PrimeSource Canada has signed an agreement to acquire Langtry Industries, an independent distributor of building materials and fasteners to various markets throughout Canada. Langtry has locations in Vancouver, BC; Calgary, AB; Winnipeg, MB; London, ON; Montreal, QC; and Dartmouth, NS. They expect to finalize the deal by mid-December 2010. PrimeSource says the compatibilities between the two companies are “remarkable,” and that “an expanded product offering will develop as PrimeSource adds the full line of Grip-Rite products and brand-name building materials to the newly integrated locations across Canada.” PrimeSource says all customers will experience normal business operations through the foreseeable future.

Wal-Mart Makes South African Bid

Wal-Mart Stores offered $2.4 billion for a 51 per cent majority stake in South African retailer Massmart Holdings. Wal-Mart had to scale back its offer of about $4 billion for the entire company in September, after shareholders insisted on retaining exposure to Massmart. Massmart currently has 288 stores in South Africa, including outlets in 13 other African countries.

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December 1, 2010

GDP, Consumer Spending Edges Up

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, says Statistics Canada, following a 0.6 per cent gain in the previous quarter. As an annualized rate of growth, real GDP grew one per cent in the third quarter, after expanding 2.3 per cent in the second quarter. All in all, lower exports (-1.3 per cent) and lower investment in housing (-1.3 per cent) restrained GDP growth. Consumer spending on goods and services was up 0.9 per cent in the third quarter, similar to the average growth of the previous five quarters. However, spending on furniture, furnishings, and household equipment and maintenance declined 0.6 per cent after edging down 0.2 per cent in the previous quarter. Clothing and footwear purchases rebounded after falling in previous quarters and new and used motor vehicles spending grew 1.8 per cent after two consecutive quarters of decline.

Richelieu Closes Acquisition

Richelieu Hardware Ltd. has closed its acquisition of Vancouver, BC-based PJ White Hardwoods Ltd., a distributor of decorative and hardware products targeted to manufacturers and residential and commercial woodworkers. It’s Richelieu’s sixth acquisition since the beginning of 2010 and represents additional sales of more than $30 million on an annualized basis. 

GE Creating HEM Business

Dave McCalpin is general manager of GE's new Home Energy Management (HEM) business. The business will develop and commercialize GE's line of energy-management solutions meant to help consumers make more informed energy choices. GE says it plans on being the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management by going beyond the kitchen to provide insight into energy usage in the family room, the basement, the home office, and all other rooms of the house.

Weekly Product Spotlight – A Brief Look At Products New To The Market

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November 30, 2010

Homeownership Affordability Improves

Housing affordability improved in the third quarter of 2010, thanks mainly
to a drop in mortgage rates and some softening in home prices, says the
‘Housing Trends and Affordability’ report by RBC Economics
Research. Third-quarter measures at the national level fell between 1.4 and
2.5 percentage points across housing types (a decrease represents an
improvement in affordability). At the national level, the improvement
reversed almost two-thirds of cumulative deterioration that took place over
the previous four quarters. The detached bungalow benchmark measure eased by
2.4 of a percentage point to 40.4 per cent; the standard condominium measure
declined by 1.4 to 27.8 per cent; and the standard two-storey home
experienced the largest decrease, falling 2.5 to 46.3 per cent.

Zellers To Open New-look Store

Zellers will open a “first-of-its-kind” store in Winnipeg, MB, on December
3, 2010. Located in Winnipeg’s downtown, it will provide customers with an
expanded grocery section and a wider selection of items in the pharmacy,
health, beauty, fashion, and kids' departments.

Canton Fair Attendance Down

The China Foreign Trade Centre (CFTC) released results from its 108th Canton
Fair on November 4, 2010. Overseas buyers totalling 200,612 from 208 countries and regions around the world attended. The top five countries and regions with buyers represented were Hong Kong SAR, the U.S., Taiwan Province, Iran, and Russia. Compared with the 107th session, buyer attendance decreased slightly while business turnover saw some growth, but not yet to the pre-crisis level. The proportion of effective buyers increased this year, however demand is affected by both the trend of recovery and uncertain expectations. Market differentiation also shows that different countries are in different stages of recovery and that the foundations for a worldwide economic recovery have not been consolidated, and the future remains uncertain, the CFTC says.

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November 29, 2010

RONA Releases Progress Report

RONA Inc. has issued a progress report for its wood products procurement policy launched in fall 2008. Among the highlights, RONA says it met its goal of sourcing 100 per cent of its softwood lumber from certified forests in all its corporate and franchise stores across Canada. It also met its goal of having 25 per cent of its softwood lumber sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, two years ahead of schedule. At the time the policy was launched, the FSC proportion was at two per cent. RONA also received FSC certification from the Rainforest Alliance for the traceability chain of wood products – based on independent third-party assessment – in 10 of its stores and three distribution centres. In addition, six RONA stores now offer softwood lumber sourced exclusively from FSC certified forests.

Canadian Tire Launches Mobile App

Canadian Tire launched a free mobile application for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android smartphones, allowing customers to scan product barcodes in stores and instantly access product information including price, reviews, and availability. Customers can also find nearest store locations, search for products on its site, and browse the flyer on their smartphones. "Canadians are embracing technology as part of their daily lives and want instant access to information, whenever they need it, wherever they are," says Rob Shields, senior vice-president, marketing, Canadian Tire. "Especially during the holiday season, customers will appreciate our free mobile app that will make all holiday shopping easier and stress-free."

Stores Still Preferred Over Online

Atmosphere, inspiration, and the ‘touch’ factor drive people to stores for the holiday season, says a U.S. study by research firm Millward Brown. The study examined why people continue to shop in stores despite the convenience of online. It found that half shop in stores because they like the ability to see and touch items; 49 per cent like the ideas they get while browsing; and 22 per cent believe the act of personally going to a store to buy something adds value to the gift. For retailers, the findings have implications, the firm says, such as bring shoppers into your store and keep them there; invest in seasonal promotions, activities, and entertainment; know your customers and know how they celebrate; keep merchandise accessible and attractively displayed, but allow enough floor space for shoppers to move around comfortably. For brands, it means distribution through physical retailers can net sales that might not be realized online, prime display space is worth fighting for, and give people a chance to touch your product. If packaging prohibits this, provide a sample.

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November 26, 2010

Consumer Confidence Growing

Consumer confidence increased 3.9 points to 83.6, says the Conference Board of Canada’s latest survey. It’s the second monthly rise following declines during the summer. But it may not be enough to help retailers for the holiday shopping season, it says. On the question of whether now is a good time to make major purchases – such as a home, car, or major appliance – almost half said no. The number of Canadian households who thought their finances would improve over the next six months rose to the highest level in six months, yet at about 25 per cent that number is still below what it was at the beginning of the year. Regionally, B.C., Ontario, and Atlantic Canada all registered increases in confidence. Quebec and the Prairie provinces had marginal decreases.

TIM-BR MARTS Names Hardware Business

TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. announced that its hardware distribution business, which it previously acquired from CanWel Hardware, would operate under the name Chalifour Canada. The name reflects the two building material warehouses in Chalifour, QC that were acquired as part of the deal.

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November 25, 2010

American Woodmark Reports Loss

Kitchen cabinets manufacturer American Woodmark Corp had second-quarter sales of $107.6 million, up three per cent compared to the same quarter last year. However, its loss of $7.384 million was greater than its loss of $5.279 million in the same 2009 quarter. Gross profits dropped to 9.1 per cent of net sales in the quarter and were down 11.2 per cent of net sales during the first six months.

U.S. Housing Starts Fall

U.S. housing starts dropped to 519,000 in October, down from 588,000 in September and well below the 600,000 economists were expecting, says the Commerce Department. It’s the lowest rate since the 477,000 starts recorded in April 2009 and the third lowest in more than 50 years.

CGC Names President

Christopher D. Macey is president of gypsum wallboard producer CGC Inc. He joined the firm in 2006 as vice-president of sales and marketing and became vice-president and general manager in 2008. Before joining CGC, he held various sales, marketing, operations, and business management positions with Owens Corning.

Deere Posts Quarterly Profit

Deere & Company’s net income was $457.2 million for its fourth quarter, compared with a net loss of $222.8 million in the same period last year. Worldwide net sales and revenues for the quarter increased 35 per cent to $7.202 billion and were up 13 per cent to $26.005 billion for the full year. Net sales of its equipment operations were $6.564 billion for the quarter, compared with $4.726 billion in the prior year. The company attributes its strong performance to disciplined execution and sharpened strategic focus.

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November 24, 2010

Building Material Sales Trend Down

For the fourth consecutive month, retail sales rose, increasing 0.6 per cent to $36.4 billion in September, says Statistics Canada. Gains were made in eight of 11 sub-sectors. The largest decrease, however, was at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers which posted a 1.6 per cent decline – representing a downward trend following strong sales in the early part of the year. The largest increase was a 1.2 per cent advance at motor vehicle and parts dealers, its fourth consecutive monthly gain. General merchandise stores, which include department stores, saw a two per cent gain and its third consecutive monthly increase in sales. Higher sales were also reported at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (+2.3 per cent). In the clothing and clothing accessories sub-sector, sales increased one per cent.

Survey Uncovers Holiday Shopping Peeves

The average Canadian consumer plans to take five trips to the mall and spend 11 hours shopping for family and friends this holiday season, says a survey for PayPal Canada. The survey found that 54 per cent will be avoiding the malls at Christmas by doing at least some of their shopping online. That number rises to 74 per cent amongst Canadians who are 18 to 34 years old. The survey revealed that Canadians’ biggest holiday shopping peeves include crowds and lines (49 per cent), not being able to find a unique gift (14 per cent), finding out an item is not carried or sold out (10 per cent), getting carried away and exceeding budget (10 per cent), and looking for parking (seven per cent). 

Valspar Quarterly Sales Rise

Valspar Corp.'s fourth-quarter sales totalled $876.8 million, a 12.9 per cent increase compared to the same quarter in 2009. Quarterly net income was up 2.8 per cent to $51.3 million from $49.9 million last year. “During the year we continued to invest in branding and leading-edge technologies, maintained tight control of our cost structure, and strengthened our global presence,” says William Mansfield, chairman and CEO.

Hitachi Appoints Marketing VP

Garth Wallin is vice-president of sales and marketing, Canada, for Hitachi Power Tools. Formerly, he was its director of sales and marketing. As well, Bradfield Craig is director of marketing, Canada. He was previously marketing and communications manager.

Weekly Product Spotlight - A Brief Look At Products New To The Market 

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November 23, 2010

Tembec Reports Positive Quarter

Quebec-based Tembec had fourth-quarter earnings of $2 million compared with a loss of $17 million in the same period a year ago. Quarterly sales were $444 million, down from $451 million in the same 2009 period. Fourth-quarter lumber sales were $113 million, down slightly from the previous third quarter and shipments were at 52 per cent of production capacity. While prices remain volatile and North American demand is low, the forestry company says it’s encouraged by China's rising consumption of Western Canada construction lumber.

Liquidation World Down Fourth Quarter

Liquidation World Inc.’s fourth-quarter revenue decreased $0.9 million or 2.5 per cent to $34.7 million from $35.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2009. Same store sales declined 1.6 per cent or $0.5 million during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. The company ended the 2010 fiscal year with 87 stores in Canada and one in Chicago, IL. During 2010, it converted 27 stores to its new ‘LW - Everybody's Outlet Store’ banner.

Wooster Brush 25 Years Old

The Wooster Brush Company is celebrating its Ultra/Pro brush’s 25th anniversary. In 1985, the manufacturer unveiled the synthetic brush to the market which had shorter filaments and offered efficient paint coverage and cut-in control. After all the changes in coatings over the last two and a half decades – including higher solids, reduced drying times, and low/no odour paints – the original concept remains strong, the company says. In fact, the only way the brushes have changed is by improving tipping processes to reduce drag.

Home Show Announces Highlights

Highlights of the 2011 National Home Show presented by RE/MAX include a modular-bungalow model home, combining accessibility and high style; ‘The Ryobi Man Cave,’ featuring a 'tricked out' garage; and ‘Dream Gardens’ outdoor designs.  The show takes place February 18 to 27 at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.nationalhomeshow.com.

BMR Buying Show Scheduled

BMR has set the dates for its next buying show. It will take place March 24 to 25 at Place Forzani, Laval, QC. For more information, contact Lenka Marcoux at 450-655-2441, fax 450-655-1766, or eMail lmarcoux@bmr-legroupe.com.

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November 22, 2010

RONA Introduces Products, Services At Show

RONA Inc. presented more than 16,000 products and services available in its network of stores in 2011 at its 65th annual spring show in Calgary, AB. More than 850 participants from its network got an advance preview of more than 2,200 products including an additional 1,050 private and controlled brand products and 36 exclusive products selected as ‘Heart Stoppers’ for their distinctive and innovative qualities, RONA says. Other show highlights included the launch of a graphic platform for RONA brand paints featuring more colours, mix and match tools, colour swatches, and brochures; the Mecanair repair shops network of more than 180 outlets across the country that will add categories to their existing line of private and controlled brand repair services such as air conditioners, faucets, showers, toilets, and power tools; and the release of a book on the history of RONA from its inception in 1939 to today. As well, it introduced a new visual identity for RONA by Design in 2011, including a series of nine projects for bathrooms, basements, patios and gardens, garages, lavatories, kitchens and dining rooms, and shelving and storage; along with a new concept making all doors and windows available in one dedicated and expanded area in stores.   

RONA Focused On Eco, Social, Labour

RONA Inc. released its ‘Responsible Procurement Policy’ (RPP) which encompasses policies already introduced for specific products including the wood products procurement policy and the policy ending sales of synthetic cosmetic pesticides. Coming into effect in January 2011, the primary goals behind this policy are to ensure that products sold have the least possible impacton the environment, are the result of the labour of workers whose rights are respected, and contribute to social and economic development locally and regionally in Canada. Implementation will require dialogue with front-line suppliers who will in turn be invited to do the same with their own subcontractors. Suppliers’ ability to comply with its policy will be a decisive factor in its business relationships, RONA says. Given its broad scope, the policy will be implemented gradually with the first phase targeting its RONA ECO and Eco-responsible products, private and controlled brands, and products imported through its Shanghai office or other intermediaries. A progress report on implementation will be included in its annual report and the policy itself will be reviewed every three years.

Blinds To Go Corporate Culture Honoured

Manufacturer and retailer Blinds To Go was recognized as one of ‘Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2010,’ presented by Toronto-based HR consulting firm Waterstone Human Capital. More than 400 organizations, representing a cross-section of Canadian companies, were nominated this year. The honour was given because of its retail business model based on highly trained sales personnel and excellent customer service; a promote-from-within philosophy; and opportunity for rapid advancement. All recruits begin as design consultants and enter a program to develop critical skill sets for moving into managerial ranks. “Blinds To Go invests in people right from the start – at entry level. To be recognized for our exceptional corporate culture is a true testament to our exceptional employees,” says Nkere Udofia, vice-chairman.  

Solid Support For Sourcing Fair

The Asia-Pacific Sourcing fair reports that more than 500 suppliers have already confirmed their participation, four months ahead. The good registration level is “an indication of the Asian economy’s recovery from the crisis, which was still seriously affecting the markets just two years ago,” says, Oliver P. Kuhrt, executive vice-president of fair organizer Koelnmesse. “A new upturn is also noticeable in Europe.” Scheduled for March 9 to 11, 2011 in Cologne, the fair will bring together buyers from Europe and North America and sourcing partners from the Far East. For more information, visit http://www.asia-pacificsourcing.com.

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November 19, 2010

Composite Index Rebounds

The composite index improved 0.2 per cent in October after a 0.2 per cent drop in September, says Statistics Canada. Of the 10 components, six advanced and three fell. The financial components had the largest gains, led by the stock market, while housing remained the weakest. The struggling housing market continued to dampen household spending, which was reflected in the fourth consecutive decline for furniture and appliance sales. The housing index fell for the sixth straight month as renewed weakness in housing starts offset a levelling off of sales. Demand for other durable goods rose slowly, led by autos. In manufacturing, the ratio of shipments to inventories made a small gain after no change the month before, when inventories rose for the first time since 2008. The rate of decline of new orders slowed markedly. The Toronto stock market rose 1.5 per cent in October, its largest monthly gain since the spring. As well, the money supply expanded at a steady pace.

Lowe’s Refurbishing Rinks In Need

In partnership with Hockey Canada, Lowe's has committed to refurbishing ice rinks that are in need of repair. Over the next five years, it will invest more than $500,000 in grant money to refurbish two rinks per year in communities where Lowe's stores are present. For the 2010-2011 hockey season, the grants will go towards the Vaughan Maple Lions Arena, in Vaughn, ON, built in 1974 and last updated in 1988; and the Frank McCool arena in Calgary, AB, which has not been upgraded in 44 years. In addition to the grant money, donations from vendor partners, along with volunteer hours from members of the community and employees, is expected to increase the initial financial investment. Hockey Canada will work with Lowe's to help identify the arenas that need refurbishments the most.

RONA Makes Merchandising-team changes

RONA has made changes to its merchandising team. Category director Christian Dauphinais, plumbing, kitchen, and flooring will also manage import activities; Suzanne Maggi, paint and décor, is now manager of electrical and lighting; Yves Bergeron remains responsible for seasonal, horticulture, and housewares; and Guy Bianco is responsible for category management. All four will report to Luc Nantel, vice-president of merchandising. Reporting to Eric Paradis, vice-president, merchandising, are category directors Germain Voyer, building materials, interior millwork, and doors and windows; Maxime Harvey, forest products and senior negotiator; Hubert Robitaille, director for tools, hardware, and storage and also taking part in the Merchandising Planning (MP) project; and Manon Desrosiers, responsible for the in-store service team. Normand Dumont remains executive vice-president, merchandising. As part of the restructure, Jean Lamarche, hardware and tools and Jean-Pierre Hogue, plumbing and kitchen, left the company.

Williams-Sonoma Revenue Jumps

Williams-Sonoma Inc.'s earned $36.5 million in its third quarter, up from $7.3 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue jumped 12 per cent to $815.5 million and direct-to-consumer revenue jumped 18 per cent. Quarterly same-store sales improved 8.1 per cent. Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids same-store sales climbed 12 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, while outlets were up 14 per cent.

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November 18, 2010

Wal-Mart Third-quarter Profit Climbs

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported third-quarter net income of $3.44 billion, up 9.3 per cent from $3.14 billion in last year’s third quarter. Quarterly net sales reached $101.2 billion, up 2.6 per cent from $98.7 billion a year ago. Revenue at stores open at least a year dropped slightly by 0.7 per cent, dragged down by a 1.3 per cent drop at U.S. stores. Improvements came despite weakness from its U.S. business, the company says, as its international business grew nine per cent to $26.9 billion and now makes up more than a quarter of Wal-Mart’s business.

RONA Launches Eco-responsible Renovation Guide

RONA inc. has launched an online ‘Eco-responsible Renovation Guide,’ which aims to educate consumers on the environmental impacts of their product choices. Developed in collaboration with the International Chair in Life Cycle Assessment of École Polytechnique de Montréal, the guide is based on the five-stage life cycle approach to products and provides a range of eco-responsible renovation options, along with an analysis of their environmental advantages. Every product comes with a sustainability fact sheet measured against five issues recognized by the international scientific community, RONA says; namely: climate change, availability and quality of water, human health, quality of ecosystems, and depletion of resources.

Lowe’s Reports On Social Responsibility

Lowe’s released its third-quarter social responsibility report, an update on how it supports communities and employees. Highlights in the report include its Employee Relief Fund which provided $1.6 million of assistance to more than 1,400 employees during the first nine months of 2010; installation of recycling centres and expansion of Energy Centres throughout U.S. and Canadian stores; and recognition as the WaterSense 'Retail Partner of the Year' in consecutive years, given out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

CanWel, TIM-BR Mart Complete Deal

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. announced that it completed the sale of its hardware division to TIM-BR Marts Ltd. for $50 million in cash. The previously announced transaction includes two distribution centres in Victoriaville, QC, and London, ON; two building material warehouses in Chalifour, QC; ownership of the ‘PRO’ name; and licensing rights to the 'ACE' brand name in Canada.

N&C, iLevel Reach Distribution Deal

Nicholson and Cates and iLevel by Weyerhaeuser reached a distribution agreement making Nicholson and Cates the exclusive distributor of the Trus Joist family of products for Ontario. The product line includes TJI Joists, Microllam LVL Beams, Parallam PSL Beams, TimberStrand LSL Beams, and TimberStrand LSL Rim Board.

EPA Recognizes CSA International

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized CSA International as a certification body under the enhanced ENERGY STAR program. In response, CSA International is doubling capacity to accommodate extra demand for energy efficiency qualification and verification services in North America. The recognition includes independent third-party certification of various products such as home appliances, HVAC equipment, electronics, lighting, and commercial food service equipment.

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November 17, 2010

Home Depot Third-quarter Sales Rise

The Home Depot posted third-quarter sales of $16.6 billion, a 1.4 per cent increase from the third quarter of 2009. Comparable store sales for the quarter were up 1.4 per cent, and comparable sales for U.S. stores were up 1.5 per cent. Quarterly net earnings were $834 million, compared to $689 million in the same period of fiscal 2009. Demand in categories such as plumbing repair, fasteners, water heaters, and cleaning products remained strong, Home Depot says, while discretionary spending in areas including kitchens was weak. Echoing Lowe’s third-quarter results, the Home Depot says it also benefited from various cost-cutting measures, along with a slower expansion strategy and supply chain improvements. It said it would continue to invest in efforts to improve merchandise and distribution.

Sears Third-quarter Profit Falls

Sears Canada Inc.’s third-quarter revenues were $1.201 billion compared to $1.309 billion in 2009, a decrease of 8.2 per cent.  Same store sales also dropped 8.2 per cent. Net earnings for the quarter were $18.5 million compared to $47.1 million in the third quarter last year, representing a 61 per cent drop. Sears says sales were negatively impacted by the new HST in Ontario and B.C., rising interest rates, and the high unemployment rate which has led to a slide in consumer confidence. 

Weekly Product Spotlight - A Brief Look At Products New To The Market 

Furnishings Market Celebrates 39 Years

The Canadian Home Furnishings Market will celebrate its 39th anniversary this year. From January 15 to 18, 2011, at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON, the event will host more than 300 exhibitors and their collections. This year, its 'Quality Canadian Furniture Trends Display' will introduce its first-ever ambassador – decor and interior design expert Janette Ewen. For more information, visit http://www.tchfm.com.

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November 16, 2010

Lowe’s Quarterly Profit Improves

Lowe's Cos.’ third-quarter revenue rose two per cent to $11.59 billion and net income increased 19 per cent compared to the same period last year. Profits increased 17.4 per cent to $404 million and same-store sales were up 0.2 per cent for the third quarter. Shoppers continue to spend more on smaller projects rather than major ones, Lowe’s says. But sharper control of costs, including lowering payroll costs and closing two regional offices, helped it improve quarterly profits. "Consumers are not yet willing to consistently take on larger, discretionary home improvement projects," says CEO Robert Niblock. "They remain cautious and continue to rationalize the scope of their projects or in many cases delay projects until they have better clarity about their personal financial situations, the value of their homes, and the overall macroeconomic outlook."

U.S. Retail Sales Climb

U.S. retail and food services sales were $373.1 billion in October – a 1.2 per cent increase says the U.S. Census Bureau. Building material and garden equipment and supplies sales were $23.60 billion, down 1.9 per cent from $24.06 billion in August, but up 6.5 per cent from $22.17 billion in the same month last year. Hardware store sales for September were $1.46 billion, dropping 3.3 per cent from $1.51 billion in August but up slightly from $1.45 billion in September last year. Overall results were primarily aided by auto sales for the retail industry, the Bureau says.

Newell Rubbermaid Wins Supply Chain Award

Newell Rubbermaid won the the 2010 ‘Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) Dick Clark Supply Chain Award,’ presented at the Consumer Goods Business and Technology Leadership Conference in Orlando, FL. The award honours the consumer goods company that demonstrates excellence in executing improvements in supply and demand planning, execution, or network design. The award reflects the success of its sales and operations planning improvement initiative, launched in 2008, the company says. So far, the initiative has delivered double-digit decreases in inventory, increases in forecast accuracy, higher inventory turns, and improved customer service levels throughout the company's global businesses.

H. Paulin Up Third Quarter

Bolts, nuts, and screws producer H. Paulin & Co. posted third-quarter sales of $34.03 million, up from $32.7 million in the same period last year. The Canadian manufacturer’s quarterly income before taxes was $1.02 million, up from $751,000 in 2009. Net income also improved to $669,000, compared to $608,000 in the same year-ago period.

BMR Launches Site

BMR has launched its website at www.bmr.co. The new site is more user-friendly and provides added tools to inform consumers and to help customers with their home renovation projects, BMR says.

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November 15, 2010

BMR Unveils Private Brands

At its 2010 trade show in Quebec City, Groupe BMR unveiled its new logo and launched private brands ‘BMR Evolution,’ ‘Eco Attitude,’ and the TORKK controlled brand. The group also announced its ‘Vendors of the Year’ awards based on customer service, efficiency of logistics, accuracy of invoices, and quality of products; they are: Lumber and Building Materials – Roland Boulanger; Hardware – Taymor; Decoration – Beverly Hill; Agrizone – Berry Plastic. The show featured 350 booths, including its Agrizone area; 65 booths for its brand new decoration show; and more than 1,500 people at its Gala. Most appreciated booths were Owens Corning, Lumber and Building Materials; Quincaillerie Richelieu, Hardware; PanelStone, Decoration; Équipements d’érablière CDL, Agrizone.

Home Depot ‘Slipping,’ Study Finds

In comparing three competing big box chains in the U.S., Home Depot has “slipped” while Lowe’s and Menards have improved, says a study by Market Research Associates (MRA). The report rated the three chains on 29 different product categories to determine which types of consumers shop for which types of materials at which chains. It found that Menards is the highest rated chain for the entering/purchasing category, as consumers that go to Menards say they know and find what they want more. A drop in this category can be caused by consumers not finding what they’re looking for, as well as not finding assistance from store associates, among other reasons. A loss was found at all chains in the number of lumber purchasers from the 2004 to the 2006 studies, with Home Depot experiencing the largest decline, followed by Menards and then Lowe’s. In the ‘rough electrical’ category – reflecting larger home improvement projects – Home Depot lost more than 40 per cent of its previous purchasers, Lowe’s losing 23 per cent, and Menards experiencing no change.

Ace Reports Third-quarter Drop

Ace Hardware Corporation's third-quarter revenues of $824.9 million, a decrease of $7.7 million or 0.9 per cent from $832.6 million in 2009. Quarterly net income was $13.9 million, a drop of $12.8 million or 48 per cent. On a category basis, the strongest selling categories were tools, plumbing, housewares, and lawn and garden. “Ace added 43 new stores and cancelled 41 stores in the third quarter, bringing its total store count to 4,461 at the end of the quarter. The show featured 350 booths, including its Agrizone area; 65 booths for its brand new decoration show; and more than 1,500 persons at its Gala. Most appreciated booths were Owens Corning -- Lumber and Building Materials; Quincaillerie Richelieu -- Hardware; PanelStone -- Decoration; Équipements d’érablière CDL -- Agrizone.

Younger Consumers Present More Opportunity

Younger consumers, specifically Gen Y, are showing more opportunity for the hand tools market, with fewer items already owned and a higher propensity for purchase, says the NPD Group’s ‘Beyond the Boomers’ report. These same younger consumers are less likely to make purchases based on brand than their older counterparts, and more likely to purchase categories where price is the top purchase motivator, such as hammers, hand saws, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, measuring tools, and manual staple guns. As well, NPD’s Economy Tracker found that fewer people are planning to defer home improvement purchases, declining by 10 points year over year, most noticeably among younger consumers. Fewer people have also deferred purchases over the last 12 months; however, this has increased among older consumers. “There are signs of cautious optimism out there, especially among younger consumers, but price is still king. Clearly, pent-up demand is rising and home improvement should help lead us in the recovery,” says Mark Delaney, NPD director.

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November 12, 2010

Canadian Tire Posts Strong Quarter

Canadian Tire Corporation’s third-quarter net earnings grew by 21 per cent to $103.2 million, compared to $85.4 million earned in last year’s quarter. Third-quarter retail sales were up 2.6 per cent to $2.5 billion and same store sales increased 1.4 per cent. Key categories such as backyard, cleaning, exercise, and outdoor recreation saw year-over-year sales increases and automotive saw positive sales growth.

Ainsworth Quarterly Sales Improve

BC-based engineered-wood producer Ainsworth Lumber had third-quarter net sales of $81.1 million, a 2.9 per cent increase compared to last year’s $78.8 million. Despite an increase in gross profit of $6 million, quarterly net income was down to $10 million, compared to $22.3 million in the third quarter of 2009. The company attributes the reduction to a $30 million decrease in unrealized foreign exchange gain on long-term debt. Ainsworth President Rick Huff says he’s please by its “strong performance,” despite a sharp decline in oriented strand board (OSB) prices.

Canadian Tire Shares First Sustainability Report

In its first regular sustainability report, Canadian Tire says 89 sustainability projects have been completed in the third quarter, bringing the total number of projects in 2010 to 203. This represents an annual productivity gain of approximately $3 million in avoided cost while reducing 3,700 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and 71,400 gigajoules of energy. The retailer is among the first major Canadian companies to report quarterly on sustainability efforts, which are based on three segments of business operations: products, transportation of these products to retail stores, and the operation of its owned and leased buildings. "Focusing on these areas emphasizes our commitment to our sustainability goals and allows us to carefully track our progress as we become more efficient in our business operations," says Tyler Elm, vice-president of business sustainability. 

Products Guilty Of Greenwashing

More than 95 per cent of products that claim to be ‘green’ are committing at least one of the “sins” of greenwashing, says a study by environmental marketing firm TerraChoice. ‘The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition’ found that the proportion of “sinfree” products is five times greater in “mature” categories such as building, construction, and office products than in “immature” categories such as toys and baby products. It also finds big box retailers stock more green products and more products that provide legitimate environmental certifications than smaller green boutique-style stores. Good eco-labeling helps prevent, but does not eliminate, greenwashing as 30 per cent of products certified by a recognized third-party are “sin-free.” Greenwashing declined slightly since 2009 with 4.5 per cent of products now “sin-free,” compared to only two per cent in 2009. “We found 73 per cent more ‘green’ products on the market today than in 2009,” says Scott McDougall, president. “This is great news and it shows that consumers are changing the world by demanding greener goods, and that marketers and manufacturers are taking note.”

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November 11, 2010

RONA Third-quarter Sales Slip

RONA inc.’s third-quarter sales decreased 0.5 per cent and same-store sales decreased 2.25 per cent, compared to the same 2009 period. The drop is mainly due to declining consumer confidence, lower housing activity, poor weather especially in Western Canada, and the expiry of tax credits, it says. Third-quarter net earnings stood at $50.2 million, up 2.2 compared to last year’s quarter. While it has been difficult to achieve customer growth over the past two quarters, it made gains with respect to other objectives, RONA says, such as expanding its distribution, commercial, and professional businesses and improving efficiency. “Taking into account recently announced acquisitions, we are at 19 per cent market share, up from 17.5 per cent at the beginning of the year and on target to reach our 20 per cent objective by the end of 2011. The benefits of efficiency improvement initiatives are also being reflected in the 26 basis point improvements in gross margin this past quarter,” says Robert Dutton, president and CEO.

Wal-Mart Charged With Unfair Labour Practices

The Quebec Superior Court decision upholding an arbitration award against Wal-Mart over the closing of a Quebec store in 2005 is now also affecting Wal-Mart elsewhere in Canada, says a Fasken Martineau 'The HR Space.' The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently indicated that Wal-Mart's actions in Quebec could possibly be perceived as an intimidation tactic against Saskatchewan employees. A union organizing Wal-Mart employees in Weyburn, SK, filed an unfair labour practice charge against Wal-mart claiming its decision to close the Quebec store was intended to intimidate Wal-Mart employees who were attempting to unionize stores in Saskatchewan. Wal-Mart attempted to have the union's application summarily dismissed. It argued the Saskatchewan board does not have jurisdiction to inquire into the company's conduct in Quebec. However, the Board rejected Wal-Mart's argument, saying that the real issue was not the closure of the Jonquière store, but the alleged intimidation of employees in Saskatchewan.  That ruling was appealed to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The court found that it was premature for it to intervene at this stage of the board's proceedings. According to the appeal court, Wal-Mart could seek judicial review later, once the final decision is issued. Employers across Canada will want to watch the developments of the Saskatchewan case. Employers will want to know whether actions in another province or territory can constitute intimidation of employees seeking unionization in their home province. 

Komet, RONA End Business

Komet Manufacturers Inc. ended its business partnership with Rona, including the Réno-Dépôt banner, for the manufacture of bathroom furniture. The agreement in question, signed over five years ago, represented 38 per cent of Komet's sales. Komet says it will be difficult to quickly replace a big client like Rona, but it assured shareholders and clients that it has signed new agreements with contractors such as Samcon, Les entreprises Samig, and Habitations Voyer.

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November 10, 2010

Taiga Sales Steady

Taiga Building Products Ltd.’s third-quarter net sales remained steady at $260.8 million compared to $260.4 million over the same period last year. Gross margin for the quarter dropped to $22.6 million from $28.2 million last year, due to soft commodity prices, the company says. Net earnings for the quarter were $2.1 million, a decrease of $1.3 million compared to $3.4 million over the same year-ago period.

BHMA Elects President, Officers

Don Baker, vice-president of engineering for the Americas for Ingersoll Rand, will succeed Scott Duncan, CEO and president of DORMA Architectural Hardware, as president of the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA). Other officers that make up the 2011 BHMA Board of Directors are First Vice-president Sandy Johnson, Stanley Security Solutions; Second Vice-president Scott James, CompX International, Inc.; and Third Vice-president Dan Picard, Sargent Manufacturing Company.  

Armstrong Quarterly Sales Flat

Flooring and cabinet manufacturer Armstrong World Industries, Inc. reported third-quarter net sales of $739.8 million, down two per cent from $753 million in the comparable 2009 period. Excluding a $12 million impact of foreign exchange rates, sales were flat. Adjusted operating income of $83.3 million increased compared to $79.3 million on the same basis. The company says operating cost reductions in all business segments offset significant raw material inflation which was particularly severe in the domestic flooring market. It also saw improved cost performance.

Sessions Cover Range Of Information

Educational sessions at this year’s ‘HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo’ will cover, among other things, national building code changes, cost-effective building strategies, marketing tips to help grow business, and practical green residential building solutions. The 14th annual event, held in conjunction with Construct Canada, PM Expo, DesignTrends, and Concrete Canada, takes place December 1 to 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre South Building, Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://homebuilderexpo.ca.

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November 9, 2010

Whirlpool Unveils Centennial Logo

Whirlpool Corporation has unveiled its 100th anniversary logo, leading up to the start of its year-long centennial celebration. The logo will be introduced at all of Whirlpool's locations throughout the world, and used in both external and internal communications. It will debut November 11 across the facade of the NYSE Euronext building in downtown New York as chairman and chief executive Jeff M. Fettig rings the Exchange's closing bell. Nearly 10,000 Whirlpool employees from around the world voted on the logo contest, choosing the winner from among 40 entries submitted by more than a dozen international agencies. The winning design was created in the company's hometown location of Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, MI, crafted by business communications firm deZignwright.

Cupskey Wins Rooftopper Award

Shannon Cupskey, account manager for IRLY Distributors Ltd., has won the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association’s (GVHBA) Rooftopper Award for the third consecutive time. Cupskey is the first woman to win the award which is given to the person who brings in the most new members in a fiscal year. IRLY says, “Her remarkable networking skills have helped fuel the association’s 700-person membership.”

ICI Device Narrows Colour Search

ICI Paints stores across Winnipeg, MB, have introduced ‘Dulux Inspirations,’ a handheld device that identifies colours from a range of surfaces, materials, and fabrics. The technology is meant to pinpoint a well-suited scheme 'guaranteed' to work with colour samples that customers bring in. Out of 2,000 available colours, the device can narrow the search by presenting seven different schemes and seven different shades. It's “a risk-free solution to creative colour selection. It makes colour selection easy, convenient, and stress-free," says Brad Elkins, senior brand manager for Dulux Paints. 

Weekly Product Spotlight - A Brief Look At Products New To The Market

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November 8, 2010

Building Permits Rebound

The value of building permits grew 15.3 per cent to $6.6 billion in September, says Statistics Canada, following two months of declines. Residential construction intentions improved 8.3 per cent to $3.9 billion. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued permits worth $2.7 billion, up 26.7 per cent, following a 24.2 per cent drop in August. The total value of building permits improved in five provinces, led by Ontario, B.C., and Quebec. For single-family dwellings, building permits increased by 9.5 per cent in September to $2.2 billion, after five months of declines. For multi-family dwellings, intentions rose 6.7 per cent to $1.6 billion. B.C. recorded the largest increase among the six provinces that reported a gain, while multi-family intentions declined in Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

CanWel Reports Record Sales

CanWel had record sales of $348 million for its third quarter, which includes the results of the operations of the Broadleaf Logistics division, up from $188 million in the comparable 2009 period and representing an increase of 85 per cent. Quarterly margin was $35.8 million versus $24.5 million in 2009, thanks in part to increases in construction materials in the its sales mix, flowing from the Broadleaf operations. Third-quarter net income was $5.2 million compared to net income of $7 million during the same period in 2009. 

RONA Closes TruServ Acquisition

RONA inc.'s acquisition of TruServ Canada Inc. has officially closed. RONA says it will now offer independent dealers in Canada three different solutions: the RONA bannered dealer store, the TruServ Canada specialized banners, and distribution services for dealers without banners. The transaction was supported by 99.7 per cent of TruServ Canada shareholders. TruServ Canada generates distribution sales of more than $100 million and serves more than 650 independent dealers across Canada.

Power, Hand Tool Demand Growing

U.S. power and hand tool demand will increase 4.1 per cent annually to $11 billion in 2014, says a study from research firm The Freedonia Group, Inc. Professional demand will benefit from a recovery in the housing market by 2014. In the meantime, consumer demand will come from ongoing interest in DIY and renovations, along with introductions of new products such as improved cordless tools. Hand tools demand will climb 4.3 per cent annually through 2014. Power tools traditionally outpace gains for hand tools as better-performing, more competitively priced powered units replace hand tools. While rising 3.8 per cent per year, the hand tool market will be limited by the inherently simple design of these products, which allows for only modest innovation and pricing increases, as well as rising competition from cordless power tools. Also, hand tools are designed to last decades, dampening opportunities for replacement demand, the study says. 

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November 5, 2010

Edmonton TOTEM Stores Under Construction

RONA inc. will construct two 52,000-square-foot TOTEM stores in Edmonton, AB. It says the two sites – the 19th and 20th TOTEM Building Supplies stores in Edmonton – were chosen to better serve its growing customers and expand market share in Alberta. The stores will open in spring 2011 and 2012.  

Retail CFOs Shifting Focus

CFOs are shifting their focus from reducing operating costs to driving sales through better execution, merchandising, and inventory management, says the 'Global Retail CFO' survey from PwC's Retail Consulting Services. It found that 49 per cent of CFOs believe customers are feeling slightly more optimistic about their financial situation and have begun to slowly resume retail purchases. In response, retailers are trying to attract customers back, which is in contrast to last year's report that found a significant focus on managing in the midst of the recession, stringent monitoring of inventory and capital expenditures, and reductions in operating costs. With modest improvements in comp sales expected for the holidays, CFOs ranked cash flow management, tighter management of inventory, and sustainable reductions to SG&A as their top three key priorities for the 2010 holiday season. Also, given the changes to the retail landscape, 10 per cent of CFOs felt that they had talent gaps either at store level or in corporate support centres in order to navigate through the challenging economy.

Lumber Liquidators Net Income Drops

Hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators posted a net income of $4.3 million, down from $7.8 million in the comparable period a year ago. Net sales improved about five per cent to $147.2 million from $140.5 million a year ago. Sales at stores open at least a year decreased about six per cent. 

Safety Zone Makes Canadian Acquisition

Canada-based Ralston CanSafe, a provider of industrial-safety products, has sold its company to The Safety Zone LLC, a U.S. supplier of safety equipment and janitorial products operating in four countries. The Safety Zone says Canada is a natural progression for the company and that CanSafe, with more than three decades in business, has a lot of complementary product lines to help it establish a stronger Canadian presence. Ralston CanSafe will continue to operate under the same name and its president, Alan Ralston, agreed to remain a part of the new venture.

Pittsburgh Paints Forecasts Colour, Trends

Homeowners will gravitate toward deep, bold, and bright colours in the upcoming years to invigorate the greys and beiges of the past, says PPG Pittsburgh Paints. Its colour forecast for home décor in 2011-2012 finds consumers will make “highly-charged” personal choices such as lipstick reds and azure blues – setting the stage for more vibrant paint projects down the road. Along with the forecast, two growing societal trends are at play, says Dee Schlotter, brand manager. “Design has been democratized” as we continue to gather and assimilate information in real-time. So, instead of being told by designers what we should like, homeowners are discovering it themselves and asking designers to help them achieve it. Another trend is the quest for authenticity, a reaction to the “knock-offs” that come with the real-time world and flowing from a stronger environmental sensitivity – driving consumers back to basics and to simplify design.

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November 4, 2010

Small Business Optimism Up

Canadian small- and medium-sized business optimism took a positive turn, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Following a downward trend through the spring and summer, the CFIB's Business Barometer index rose to 66.9, up more than three points in September and the highest since May (above 50 means owners expecting stronger performance outnumber those expecting weaker performance). Improved optimism was strongest in B.C, Alberta, and Nova Scotia, while business owners in Quebec were less optimistic than in September. Business owners in Manitoba and P.E.I. are the least optimistic. "While this index level is still modest compared to pre-recession readings, it suggests a firming up of business owners' expectations," says Ted Mallett, CFIB vice-president and chief economist.

Women Wearing Financial Pants

Half of women surveyed say they are responsible for most of the day-to-day household financial decisions, and more than half of those (56 per cent) say they enjoy being the primary decision-maker, says MasterCard's 2010 'MasterIndex of Canadian Women Consumers.' As an update to the original research report released in 2006, it found that since the recession, 57 per cent of Canadian women categorize themselves as savers, up from 41 per cent. Currently, 73 per cent say getting a good price is more important when shopping for themselves and their household. Since 2006, there has been a slight decrease in women willing to pay more for a brand (28 per cent down from 31 per cent). The study also found that their financial personalities change throughout life. These stages are ‘Emerging Consumers,’ ‘New Earners,’ ‘Moms,’ and ‘The Established and Silver Spenders.’ New Earners (32 per cent) are more likely to pay more for brands for themselves, while Moms are slightly more likely to pay more for brands for their households than for themselves (24 versus 20 per cent). Moms are most likely to have sole responsibility for day-to-day finances in their household, making them the chief purchasing officers of the family. 

Dow Third-quarter Profit Down

Adhesives producer Dow Corning Corp. reported a five per cent drop in third-quarter profit year-over-year, while revenue increased thanks to demand for its silicon-based products. Equally owned by the Dow Chemical Company and Corning, Inc., the company earned $176 million in the quarter, compared to $184.3 million in the same year-ago quarter. Revenue rose nearly eight per cent to $1.51 billion from $1.41 billion. The company says its silicones business is growing across all markets including electronics, life sciences, solar, and industrial.

RIMA Elects Directors

The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association International (RIMA-I) elected the following directors at its bi-annual membership meeting in San Antonio, TX: David Drew, LP Building Products, Nashville, TN; Patrick Gaudreault, Resisto (Division Of Soprema), Quebec; and Dan Russell, Innovative Insulation, Arlington, TX. Those remaining on the board for another year include Bobby Byrd, president, RoyOMartin, Alexandria, LA; Bob Wadsworth, vice-president, Innovative Energy, Lowell, IN; and Monty Millspaugh, secretary/treasurer, Reflectix, Inc., Markleville, IN.

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November 3, 2010

Lowe’s Rallies Around Skilled Trades

Lowe's Canada made a $1.25 million dollar contribution and five-year commitment to help Skills/Compétences Canada promote skilled trades and technology professions to youth. At a joint event, Skills/Compétences Canada marked the contribution and officially launched Skilled Trades and Technology Week 2010, which generates awareness of growing skilled labour challenges. “Lowe's is committed to helping close the gap on the impending shortage of skilled trade workers that Canada is facing," says Alan Huggins, president, Lowe's Canada. "Through our investment, we will work with Skills Canada to help prepare the next generation work force with the world-class skills needed to become the contractors and industry leaders of tomorrow."

Lowe’s Facing Lawsuits

Lowe’s Companies Inc. has increased its settlement offer to customers who bought toxic Chinese drywall at its stores. Lowe’s will provide $100,000 for customers who bought the defective wallboard and suffered other substantial damage to their home or medical injuries. Likely to be approved in December, it represents a significant increase over its previous offer of $2,000 and $2,500 in in-store credit, which disappointed customers. The $100,000 offer is available to those who suffered at least $4,500 in damages or medical bills. Lowe's will also pay $2.75 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California for selling paints and coatings containing pollution-causing ingredients. The settlement includes $2.45 million in civil penalties and $300,000 to cover the agency's investigation. Lowe's has not yet admitted any culpability in the settlement.

Visa Introduces First Debit Card

Visa is teaming up with CIBC to launch its first debit card in Canada. The card will allow consumers to make payments to Canadian merchants through the Interac debit network, while payments online or overseas will be handled by Visa. Known as the CIBC Advantage Card, it will also allow travellers to pay by debit in more than 200 countries. Visa says transactions made by debit increased 18 per cent between June 2009 and June 2010 as consumers increasingly choose to spend electronically, rather than through cash and cheques. As well, a recent Visa survey found that 70 per cent of Canadian consumers are interested in a debit card that enabled them to purchase goods and services online and that 65 per cent would like to use debit cards when shopping outside of Canada.

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November 2 , 2010

RONA Makes BC Acquisitions

RONA inc. has acquired, through its subsidiary Noble, the assets of MPH Supply Limited, a distributor of plumbing products with five branches in Vancouver, and the Lower Mainland, BC. The transaction also includes the acquisition of Better Bathrooms Limited, a retailer of finishing plumbing products. Both businesses generate close to $15 million in sales. MPH Supply Limited and Better Bathrooms co-owners Rod Andrew and Peter Austen will stay on to help develop RONA’s commercial and professional market division in B.C. RONA says the deal gives it “instant access” to a new geographical area in the specialized plumbing market and represents strong growth potential through new branches as well as further acquisitions in Western Canada. It’s the fifth acquisition of the year for RONA’s commercial and professional market division.

Laurentide First VOC-free Manufacturer

Laurentide Paint says it is the first paint manufacturer in Canada to use colorants free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in all corporate product lines. Through its partnership with specialty-chemicals company Clariant, it will implement the system in January 2011 in all 300 Laurentide points of sale in Quebec and Atlantic provinces. "Our efforts will most certainly contribute handsomely to raising environmental standards within our industry," says André Buisson, president and COO.

Tractor Supply Up Third Quarter

Tractor Supply Co.’s third-quarter net income increased 46 per cent thanks to rising sales of pet-related products and seasonal warm weather items, the company says. The U.S. farm supplies retailer had quarterly earnings of $32 million compared to $22 million in the same year-ago period. Net sales increased 11 per cent to $829.1 million from $747.7 million. Same-store sales increased five per cent compared with a 5.1 per cent decrease in the prior-year period.

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November 1 , 2010

Masco Sales Decline
Masco Corp.’s net sales from continuing operations for the quarter ended September 30 declined six per cent to $2 billion. North American sales and international sales each decreased six per cent. It posted a third-quarter net loss of $5 million, compared with earnings of $28 million in the year-ago quarter. CEO Tim Wadhams says the third quarter was a tough one, particularly for sales related to residential construction and remodeling, specifically bigger-ticket items. Last year's total of 554,000 housing starts was the lowest recorded since the government began keeping track in 1959. Four of Masco’s five product segments had sales declines compared with the third quarter of 2009. Its plumbing products segment was up modestly in sales, principally due to continued strong international results.

Briggs & Stratton Sales Increase
Briggs & Stratton Corp. had net sales for the first quarter 2011 of $334.1 million, up 2.9 per cent from $324.6 million reported for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. For the three-month period ended September 30, the company reported a net loss of $8.1 million, compared with a net loss of $8.7 million for the same period last year. For the power products segment, sales were $168.2 million, up 1.4 per cent from the prior year, with a loss of $5 million compared with a net income of $2.5 million for the period last year.

Weyerhaeuser Posts Profit
Weyerhaeuser Co. posted a $1.12 billion third-quarter profit with revenue growing and a one-time accounting adjustment boosting the company's earnings. Revenue climbed 18 per cent to $1.66 billion from $1.41 billion a year ago. It earned $28.3 million for the period ended September 30. That compares with $85.5 million a year ago.

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October 29, 2010

Bathroom Renovation Most Popular
The two most popular planned renovations over the next two years are bathrooms (38 per cent) and exterior renovations (32 per cent) including yard and deck improvements, says the seventh annual ‘RBC Renovation Poll.’ Plans to renovate a basement increased the most at 21 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2009. Keeping up with the Joneses continues to motivate some Canadians as the top two influences on renovation details are friends, family, and neighbours' homes (36 per cent), followed by TV home improvement shows (34 per cent). Females are most likely to say that they were first to identify the need or desire to renovate (63 per cent). More than half (55 per cent) of women taking on a renovation project expect their spouse or partner to do most of the work, only 34 per cent intend to hire a contractor, and 31 per cent say they will do most of the work themselves.

Belts Now Have Stainless Steel Grommets
Norguard Industries, a designer and manufacturer of fall protection equipment, has announced that all Norguard miners' belts are now manufactured with stainless steel grommets and a 12,000 pound minimum breaking strength webbing for increased durability and longevity. It also offers its miners' belts with a specially formulated coating called Bioseal. This belt is ideally suited for mining, petrochemical, utility workers, water treatment, construction, painting, and food processing to name a few. The Bioseal surface provides a 95 per cent cleanable with liquid soap and water and is highly resistant to cuts, mildew, aging, and welding splatter.

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October 28, 2010

Canadians Invest In Homes
House-proud Canadians are investing in their homes, but some are struggling to keep the related costs in check, says the seventh annual ‘RBC Renovation Poll.’ Two-thirds of Canadian homeowners (66 per cent) completed a renovation in the past two years and while 68 per cent of Canadian renovators established a budget, only half (49 per cent) managed to stay within it. Many also indicated that hindsight is 20/20 and expressed some regret in the way their home improvements were completed. Twenty-eight per cent cited exceeding budget as their biggest renovation mistake, followed by using the wrong contractor or trades people (15 per cent) and 'doing it myself' (13 per cent).

TruServ Supports RONA Deal
RONA inc. says that 99.7 per cent of TruServ Canada shares were voted in favour of the amalgamation resolution at a special shareholders meeting. The transaction is pending the approval from the Competition Bureau. Closing is expected to occur before the end of November. The deal means RONA will now offer three different solutions: the RONA bannered dealer store, the TruServ specialized banner, and distribution services for dealers without banners. TruServ Canada generates distribution sales of more than $100 million and serves more than 650 independent dealers across Canada.

Owens Corning Income Drops
Owens Corning’s third-quarter net income dropped by more than a quarter, hurt by weak demand for building materials, particularly roofing. Quarterly net income fell 28 per cent to $58 million from $80 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 12 per cent to $1.19 billion from $1.35 billion last year.

Whirlpool Revenue Falls
Whirlpool Corp. says that price competition pulled its third-quarter revenue and shipments down three per cent in the U.S. and kept revenue nearly flat worldwide compared with a year earlier. The maker of Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Whirlpool, and store-brand appliances saw its third-quarter earnings fall nine per cent. Weak performance in Europe and, especially, the U.S. offset strong performances in Latin America and Asia and kept revenue for the three months that ended September 30 at $4.52 billion.

Electrolux Profits Fall
Electrolux AB’s third-quarter net profits fell 15 per cent because of slacker sales in Europe and North America, higher raw material costs, and more spending on marketing. Net profit slipped to 1.4 billion kronor ($210 million) from 1.6 billion kronor in the same three months a year ago.

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October 27, 2010

Home Depot Aiding Small Businesses
The Home Depot Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade have partnered to launch ‘Innovation for Sustainability’ – a first of its kind project to enable qualified small companies with innovative, environmentally-preferred home improvement products the opportunity to build the resources needed to work with a large Canadian retailer. From now until November 19, any small or medium-sized Ontario manufacturer can submit information about its innovative home improvement product or technology at www.homedepot.ca. After reviewing entries, the merchandising team at The Home Depot Canada will invite prospects with potential to the first of four ‘Meet the Buyer’ events December 13 in London, ON.  Following this first event, selected products will be stocked by The Home Depot in three London-area stores and assessed for expanded distribution in the Canadian market.

Sherwin-Williams Earnings Flat
Sherwin-Williams Co. posted flat earnings for the third quarter as an 8.8 per cent increase in revenue was offset by higher raw materials costs. It had net income of $175.3 million for the three months ended September 30. It earned $175.2 million a year ago. Revenue rose to $2.17 billion from $2 billion a year earlier.

Survey Findings Challenged
ActionCOACH Canada is challenging a recent RBC poll that stated 56 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs said the recession had either no impact or a positive effect on their business operations. These findings are in direct contrast to a poll it did last year of business owners across the country where 90 per cent said the recession had affected them. “The fact that so many businesses came to us during the recession is a direct reflection of their needs in the business community. To say that over 50 per cent of small business weren’t affected just can’t be accurate,” says Greg Kopchuk, of ActionCOACH Canada. “Yes, many businesses saw an increase in profits because they were willing to increase their budgets for marketing and advertising, and those businesses are thriving today, but to say that this recession is uneventful is just wrong.”

Air, Water Treatment Systems To Grow
Regardless of the country or region, there is polluted air and contaminated water and health issues are always an overriding concern and will continue to drive growth in the air and water treatment markets, even if it is at a slower rate than in the pre-recession years during the early 2000s, says the ‘Water and Air Purification Systems and Products: Residential & Commercial’ study by SBI Energy. It says from 2006 to 2010 the rate of growth in the water treatment market was relatively slow in both the consumer market and business market segments. Through 2015, it projects the water treatment market will grow faster as the residential sector increases at a seven per cent compound annual growth rate. The consumer water treatment market – expected to approach $17 billion in global sales by 2015, up from a projected $12 billion in 2010 – will grow slower than the industrial market since businesses are recovering faster than consumers. Starting in 2010 the rate of growth in the air treatment market is projected to increase withforecasts that it will exceed $16 billion in 2015 compared to $11 billion anticipated by the end of 2010.

Milwaukee Partners With MMA Fighter
‘Heavy Duty’ meets ‘Heavyweight’ as Milwaukee Electric Tool has an exclusive partnership with mixed martial artist Cain Velasquez. “Teaming up with Cain Velasquez is a perfect match for Milwaukee, both are obsessed with being the best at what we do, and share a long history of uncompromising passion for winning,” says Steve Richman, president. Currently competing in the UFC Heavyweight Division, Velasquez is a two-time All-American collegiate wrestler from Arizona State. The Milwaukee/Velasquez partnership will extend throughout 2011 with multiple distributor appearances across the western and southwestern regions of the U.S.

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October 25, 2010

Retail Sales Up In August
Retail sales increased 0.5 per cent in current dollars to $36.1 billion in August after flat sales the previous two months, says Statistics Canada. Gains were reported in six of 11 subsectors representing 70 per cent of total retail sales. In volume terms retail sales rose 0.3 per cent.

Home Improvement Spending To Climb Sharply
Harvard University researchers predict that spending on U.S. home improvements will grow by double-digits next year after three straight years of declines. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard forecasts remodeling activity to hit bottom in the third quarter and edge up 3.1 per cent in the fourth quarter. Activity is expected to climb sharply beginning in the first quarter of next year. Contractors are more optimistic about the next year, the study says, and low interest rates should help fuel spending. Buyers of previously foreclosed homes that need repairs likely will shell out cash for renovations.

RONA Opens New Store
RONA inc. has opened its new RONA L’entrepôt store in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC. An earlier store had provided hardware, home improvement, and construction supplies and services to people in and around Saint-Jean-sur Richelieu since 1999. The expansion adds an extra 20,000 square feet to the store, which now offers the full line of services provided by the RONA L’entrepôt concept and an inventory of more than 45,000 different items.

Businesses Fail To Plan For Succession
A new BMO survey shows that despite market downturn over the past two years, there has been virtually no change in the percentage of businesses claiming to have a succession plan in place. On the other hand, 10 per cent more Canadian entrepreneurs have put an H1N1 contingency plan in place following the 2008 recession. Approximately two-thirds of these small business owners plan to retire and exit their businesses in the next 10 years.

Snap-on Profit Doubles 
Tool maker Snap-on Inc.’s profit nearly doubled in the third quarter, as sales in its commercial and industrial segment helped drive a 12 per cent surge in revenue. It had net income of $46.5 million in the quarter ended October 2, up from $25.4 million a year ago. Revenue rose to $653.1 million from $581.8 million in a year earlier. Among its business segments, the commercial and industrial group posted the strongest growth during the quarter with sales rising 19.5 per cent to $261 million.

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October 22, 2010

Leading Indicator Slips In September
Canada's composite leading indicator declined in September for the first time since April 2009, dipping 0.1 per cent as housing cooled further and manufacturing slumped, says Statistics Canada. The housing index fell another 3.2 per cent, continuing a trend that began in May, with declines of four per cent in the two previous months. Both housing starts and sales were down. In manufacturing, both new orders and the average work week turned lower for the first time this year, while the shipments to inventory ratio edged slightly higher. Half of the 10 components of the leading indicator declined.

EcoLeaders Drive Initiatives
RONA inc. has announced a series of initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of its stores, after conducting an integrated pilot program launched at the beginning of 2010 at 28 RONA store locations in Ontario. The pilot program focused on two key areas of its environmental footprint reduction strategy – energy efficiency and waste management, including a zero waste initiative. Building on the success of this pilot, the integrated program will start being rolled out at stores across Canada during 2011. The program uses EcoLeaders and in-store committees to conceive, implement, and monitor the progress of initiatives taken in their particular stores to help reduce the company’s footprint. Top priority will be given to the corporate-wide objectives of cutting down on waste and the amount of energy consumed.

USG Suffers Loss
USG Corporation had third-quarter 2010 net sales of $758 million, an operating loss of $58 million, and a net loss of $100 million. In last year's third quarter, the operating loss was $92 million and the net loss was $94 million. "Our third quarter results reflect continued weak market conditions and extraordinarily low shipping volumes," says William C. Foote, chairman and CEO. "Nonetheless, operating margins for our domestic wallboard business were stable, our ceilings business had another strong quarter, and the performance of our distribution business continued to improve despite ongoing weakness in commercial construction.

CHHMA Seeks Members for SMART And HR Groups
The CHHMA is establishing an additional SMART (Sales Managers Achieving Results Together) network group and is holding an initial meeting late in November in Concord, ON. The SMART program brings senior sales and marketing executives from non-competing CHHMA member companies together on a quarterly basis to meet and discuss common issues amongst peers. It provides an ideal format for managers to find out what is happening in the industry and how others are dealing with customer/industry issues and best business practices. For more information, contact Michael Jorgenson at 416-282-0022 ext.34 or mjorgenson@chhma.ca. Human resource managers (or persons with part-time human resource management responsibilities) from CHHMA member companies are invited to attend the next HR Managers Network meeting taking place early in December in Concord, ON. This group also meets on a quarterly basis to discuss and learn more about HR issues and best practices. For more information, contact Vaughn Crofford at 416-282-0022 ext.30 or crofford@chhma.ca  

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October 21, 2010

Credit Card Change Coming
Businesses that accept credit cards at retail establishments, e-commerce sites, or over the phones should prepare for significant changes in 2011, says Robert Livingstone, president and founder of IdealCost.com, a consulting firm that reduces credit card acceptance fees for merchants. "Some of the changes to the credit card processing industry will benefit merchants, but we also predict some harmful trends that may be disastrous to American companies," says Livingstone. Some of the trends for 2011 he sees include merchants still suffering from unfair chargebacks and data breaches where customers scam merchants by calling their credit card company to dispute legitimate sales after the fact.

Workplace Violence Cost High
The costs of workplace violence and harassment are high, both to the victims and to their employers, says a Conference Board of Canada study. “The scope of workplace violence has broadened beyond extreme acts of physical violence to include psychologically harmful behaviours,” says Karla Thorpe, associate director, compensation and industrial relations. “Addressing harassment is important for several reasons. Harassment incidents occur more frequently than acts of violence. Harassment often precedes violence and serves as an early warning that violence can result if workplace issues are not addressed.”
‘Managing the Risks of Workplace Violence and Harassment’ identifies six actions that organizations can take to significantly reduce the human, financial, and reputational costs of workplace violence and harassment incidents. Organizations should conduct periodic risk assessments; heed early warning signs of potentially violent individuals and work situations; make targeted use of professional assistance service options, such as employee assistance programs; have appropriate policies and resources to respond when needed; review prevention and response plans continually; and provide effective crisis leadership and response in the event of violence or harassment.

Weyerhaeuser Enters Into SFL
Weyerhaeuser has entered into a shareholder-managed Sustainable Forest License (SFL), covering the Kenora Forest in Ontario. The company has partnered with several First Nations, the government of Ontario, and other forest companies and contractors in signing the agreement. Under the agreement, First Nations and industry shareholders will take over management of forestry operations.

Universal Forest Income Down
Universal Forest Products had third-quarter net income of $2.6 million, down 75.2 per cent from $10.1 million reported for the same period last year. Sales for the quarter were $480.6 million, up 4.9 per cent from $457.8 million for the same period of 2009. Sales to industrial and manufactured housing customers increased 19.3 per cent and 18.2 per cent, respectively, during the quarter, while sales to site-built construction customers rose 1.6 per cent. Only do-it-yourself/retail saw a sales decrease, of 7.7 per cent, due to weak demand that resulted in slow retail sales, the company said.

Stanley Black & Decker Earnings Double
Stanley Black & Decker Inc.’s earnings doubled from a year ago due to the inclusion of results from Black & Decker and some new product launches. It reported net income of $123.2 million compared with a year-ago profit of $60.4 million. Revenue more than doubled to $2.37 billion from $935.5 million a year earlier. The company says its integration of Black & Decker is ahead of schedule, and it now expects to save $125 million in 2010 through the streamlining of its business. It previously expected to save $90 million this year.

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October 20, 2010

Matériaux Coupal Acquires Boiseries Signées
Matériaux Coupal, a member of the RONA commercial and professional market division has acquired, a Quebec-based manufacturer of made-to-measure prefabricated, factory built staircases. Founded in 1993, Boiseries Signées offers its customers a one-stop solution for stairway and staircase projects, from preliminary measurements through to delivery and installation. It operates 10 sales outlets in the province of Quebec and also operates two fabrication plants under the Structures Truss Experts name. “The acquisition of Boiseries Signées enhances our presence in the indoor staircase systems market and puts our finishing services, known as the Boiseries Pro brand, in a more advantageous position,” says Matériaux Coupal president François Doucet.

RRSP Approach Challenged
Canadian small business owners may be better off in retirement if they invested excess cash inside their corporation rather than paying out a salary merely to make an RRSP contribution, says a report by Jamie Golombek, CIBC's managing director of tax and estate planning. ‘Rethinking RRSPs for Business Owners: Why taking a salary may not make sense’ reassesses the age-old maxim that Canadian small business owners should always pay themselves enough salary or bonus to ensure they can maximize their RRSP contributions each year regardless of whether they actually need the cash. Golombek argues that to the extent that the business owner needs cash personally, it may be preferable to extract the cash from the corporation in the form of dividends and forgo the RRSP contribution. Second, he argues that if the business owner does not need to withdraw the cash immediately, a significant tax deferral can be achieved by simply leaving the money inside the corporation and investing the funds within the corporation instead of paying them out as a salary to be taxed and investing the cash in RRSPs and non-registered personal accounts.

Beauti-Tone Features Chang
Home Hardware Stores Limited, through its Beauti-Tone Paint Division, has launched the ‘Simon Chang Trend Colour Collection.’ These fresh, stylish and contemporary colours for the home officially launch the creative ‘all Canadian’ partnership between fashion designer Simon Chang and paint manufacturer Beauti-Tone. The collection combines Chang’s passion for colour, fabric, and pattern with Beauti-Tone’s paint and home décor expertise. It offers five palettes with 50 colours from traditional neutrals to the trend-setting bold tones seen in boutiques from Paris to Milan.

Sales Increase Forecast
Compared to 2009, retailers in Canada are expected to see a five per cent sales increase in 2010, taking sales past the $392 billion mark, says Colliers International's ‘2010 Fall Retail Report.’  The forecast also calls for a strong holiday shopping season that will spill into 2011. It sets December sales at more than $33 billion, a 9.4 per cent increase compared to the same month last year. General merchandise (16.7 per cent), clothing and accessory stores (15.1 per cent), and building equipment and garden supply stores (10.3 per cent) are expected to be the big winners this coming holiday season in terms of sales growth, compared to the previous year. British Columbia is expected to lead the charge in terms of retail sales growth with 6.7 per cent, followed by PEI (6.6 per cent), and Nova Scotia (5.8 per cent).

Legislation Endorses Hardwood
The passage of Senate and House Resolutions means the U.S. hardwood industry and U.S. hardwood products have received Congress’ recognition, stamp of approval, and full endorsement as ‘green materials.’ For more than a decade, the Hardwood Council has proclaimed the excellence and superiority of products made from U.S. hardwoods, claiming few building materials possess the overall environmental attributes of this resource. The council says this milestone legislation puts to rest any and all concern regarding U.S. hardwoods. It not only recognizes hardwoods to be ever renewing, abundant, and sustainable – the quintessential ‘green’ material – but also that the products made from U.S. hardwoods are environmentally preferable.

Tupperware Net Income Rises
Tupperware Brands Corp.’s third-quarter net income rose. The plastic container maker earned $39.9 million for the quarter compared with $32.3 million for the same quarter last year. Revenue grew nearly two per cent to $523.2 million with strong growth in emerging markets.  

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October 19, 2010

Location, Style Most Important
Only 17 per cent of respondents said price was most important; location and home style/design are far more important, says a survey of U.S. consumers by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. It also shows more than 70 per cent were willing to pay $5,000 or more for a home with energy efficient features. However, they would rather spend their money on the right flooring and countertops before energy efficiency features

Retail Sales Rise
Unadjusted monthly retail sales for U.S. home centres and pro dealers were $24 billion in August, up from $22.3 billion in the same month last year, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Unadjusted hardware store sales were $1.51 billion, unchanged from August 2009. However, August sales were down compared with July's figures. Home centres and pro dealers declined 5.8 per cent from July while hardware stores declined 6.8 per cent.

Fastenal Sees Earnings Increase
Fastenal had third-quarter earnings of $74.9 million, up 57.6 per cent from $47.5 million reported for the same period in 2009. Sales for the quarter were $603.7 million, up 23.4 per cent from $489.3 million as reported for the same period last year. The company reported that it has opened 90 new locations during the first nine months of the year, compared with 45 for the same period last year.

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October 18, 2010

Rona Looks For U.S. Opportunities
Rona Inc. is looking for opportunities to expand its commercial and professional services business into the United States, says a report in The Canadian Press. The report says it is trying to offset challenges to its retail business from lagging consumer confidence and heightened competition by adding independent stores and expanding its trades business. Its trades division's, created in 2007, has made three acquisitions this year and will see its annual revenues increase to $600 million. Its retail division has annual sales of $6 billion.

Wal-Mart Lowers Capital Spending Forecast
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has lowered the high end of its range for the current fiscal year 2011 forecast for capital spending by $1 billion. Total capital spending for the current fiscal year ending January 31, 2011, now is projected to range from $13 to $14 billion, down from the previous range of $13 to $15 billion. Last fiscal year, the company spent $12.2 billion on capital projects. In the United States, it will shift more capital toward new stores including supercentres and smaller formats. Walmart International's concentration on growth will focus on emerging markets and capital expenditures for the segment will increase slightly more than 13 per cent next year compared to the current fiscal year. It will continue to aggressively invest in organic growth with multiple formats from supercentres to small grocery stores and cash and carry units.

Grainger Sales Increase
Grainger’s third-quarter sales of $1.9 billion increased 19 per cent versus the 2009 third quarter. Net earnings for the quarter increased four per cent to $150 million versus $145 million in 2009.

WD-40 Net Income Falls
WD-40 Co.’s fourth-quarter net income fell 10 per cent from a year earlier as its operating expenses rose. The company earned $6.9 million during the quarter that ended August 31. That was down from net income of $7.6 million during the same period a year earlier. Its revenue rose almost four per cent to $80.7 million from $77.8 million a year earlier.

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October 15, 2010

Recession Had No Impact
Despite operating during one of the worst recessions since the 1930s, more than half (56 per cent) of Canadian entrepreneurs say the recent recession had either no impact or a positive impact on their business, says a survey by RBC. In fact, the majority (72 per cent) are optimistic about the success of their companies over the next year and most (65 per cent) believe the outlook for the Canadian economy is positive, ranking it 'good,' 'very good,' or 'excellent.' Small business owners say that the biggest challenges they currently face are finding clients and developing their market (22 per cent), keeping a steady workload (13 per cent), and maintaining sufficient cash flow and financing growth (11 per cent). Of the 36 per cent of entrepreneurs that experienced a negative impact as a result of the recession, 72 per cent say that sales revenue decreased and 54 per cent say there are fewer business opportunities.                

Enviro-Log Now In Retail Outlets
Enviro-Log, Inc.’s eco-friendly firelogs can now be purchased at select Canadian retail locations including Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, and Lowe’s. The firelogs are tested safe for use in typical woodstoves and as an outdoor cooking fuel. They produce 30 per cent less smoke emissions and up to 33 per cent less greenhouse gases than firewood.

CertainTeed Plant Certified
Product rolling off the line at CertainTeed’s gypsum board plant in Vancouver, BC, now bears the green label, EcoLogo. The plant achieved EcoLogo certification, joining the already certified Toronto, ON, plant and maintaining the company’s position as the only gypsum manufacturer with the EcoLogo stamp of approval. EcoLogo standards address multiple environmental attributes throughout the entire life cycle of the product.

CHHMA Seeks Nominees For Hall of Fame
The CHHMA is looking for 2011 nominations for induction into the Canadian Hardware & Housewares Industry Hall of Fame. Since 1984, the hall has honoured individuals who have been builders of successful enterprises in the industry and who have made outstanding contributions to the industry through their leadership and innovation. The award is given to an individual in recognition from their peers for outstanding achievement, service, and contribution to the Canadian hardware and housewares industry over a long career. Nominees must be Canadian, have worked a minimum 15 years in the industry, and can come from the retail, distribution, manufacturing, or agency sectors of the industry. For more information, visit http://www.chhma.ca/Public/Hall-of-Fame

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October 14, 2010

Ontario Scraps ‘Eco Fees’
The Ontario government is permanently scrapping the ‘eco fees’ that originally took effect on July 1, says the CHHMA’s ‘Eye on Industry.’ The government suspended the eco fees July 20 due to a growing backlash from retailers and consumers and said it would take 90 days to come up with a better plan to offset the cost of recycling items such as aerosol containers, all batteries, fluorescent bulbs and tubes, and fire extinguishers. A major problem with the program was that it was launched with little fanfare and shoppers were shocked to suddenly find the new charges on their receipts.  The amounts charged on potentially hazardous household products (such Mr. Clean and Windex) made no sense to consumers because they used the contents and pitched the empty containers in their blue boxes for recycling. As well, some retailers miscalculated the complicated fee schedule and charged consumers the wrong amounts.

Perceptron Partners With Bosch
Perceptron, Inc., a provider of non-contact measurement and inspection solutions, has entered into a strategic partnership with Bosch Power Tools for the construction and do-it-yourself markets. The partnership of Perceptron’s expertise in optical devices with Bosch’s knowledge of the power tool market and expertise in battery powered technology has led to the development of a complete optical scope solution. The details of the products will be announced as they are launched into their various sales channels later in the year.

TΔSK Sponsors Competition
TΔSK TOOLS was a sponsor of the 2010 TERC (Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee) B.C. Regional Extrication Challenge held in Port Alberni. The event involved a two-day challenge with nine competing firefighter teams from around BC cutting their way through vehicles to perform simulated rescues. Firefighters used the new TΔSK Signature Reciprocating Saw Blades for cutting through cars. Over two days, firefighters cut through 30 cars, which attracted hundreds of spectators.

Retailers Can Offer Charges
Retailers across North America can now offer a service to customers whose cell phones, iPads, computers, e-bikes, e-scooters, and other electronic devices need a charge. 2D2C, Inc.'s SafePlug Model 1200-P3 pay-per-use electrical outlet makes it safe and easy for retailers to provide pay-per-use electrical outlet access to the public. "Customers will be able to purchase a pre-paid card that entitles them to a number of charges. They will simply touch the card to the SafePlug electrical outlet to have access to power for a set period of time to use or recharge their electronic device," says Steven Montgomery, chief operating officer.

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October 13, 2010

Home Launches Sesame Street Collection

Home Hardware Stores Limited, through its Beauti-Tone paint and home products division, has launched its Sesame Street Colour Collection. The collection is made up of six colour palettes in tune with the characters Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, and Bert & Ernie. “Sesame Street is an institution in Canadian households, epitomizing all that is good and wholesome to the young and the young-at-heart,” says Bev Bell, creative director. “The Sesame Street Colour Collection was developed to use colour to surround ourselves with the warm and comforting feeling that characters like Big Bird and Cookie Monster have evoked for decades.”

Fastenal Net Income Up 58 Per Cent

Fastenal Co’s third-quarter net income rose 58 per cent to $75 million, from $47.6 million last year, thanks to better sales to manufacturers, the company says. Quarterly sales were $603.8 million, up 23 per cent from $489.3 million last year. The producer of nuts, bolts, and other fasteners says the growing economy, the strengthening Canadian dollar, and the acquisition of screw and bolt maker Holo-Kromeboosted boosted results.

Hanson Introduces Eco-friendly Paving

Hanson Hardscapes has introduced an environmentally sensitive interlocking concrete paving solution to the Ontario market. Its ‘AquaPave’ permeable, on-site stormwater source control system cleans and removes more than 99 per cent of all hydrocarbons (oil, gas, and diesel) and 97 per cent of other pollutants such as heavy metals, while creating a hard permeable surface.

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October 12, 2010

Demographics Behind Housing Oversupply

The record oversupply of housing in the U.S. has less to do with the aftermath of the sub-prime mortgage debacle than it does simple demographics, says a University of Virginia demographer. William Lucy says the number of people age 55 or older increased by eight million over the past 10 years. This is a cohort where homeownership is very high, approximately 80 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of people age 30 to 45 declined by 3.6 million for a net change of 11.6 million between the two groups since 2000. In 1990, the ratio of 55 and older against those age 30 to 45 was 3 to 1. In 2000, it jumped to 3.5 to 1. Today it stands at 5 to 1, older people to younger. This means there are not enough younger buyers to occupy the number of homes that Boomers want to sell. This is a big change from the past, says Lucy, where any surplus was a function of overbuilding. Now the oversupply is almost completely the result of changing demographics, he says.

Pantelides Joins TSC

Andrew Pantelides is TSC Stores’ category manager for work wear, safety wear, hunting, camping, fishing, and ammunition. Previously, Pantelides served as LBM national product manager for Home Hardware Stores.

Do it Best Sales Down

Despite the fact that sales for Do it Best were down 2.1 per cent to just under $2.4 billion members, the co-op managed to secure more than $100.6 million in rebates for its members. It announced at its annual shareholders meeting at its 2010 Fall Market that sales through retail service centres declined by 4.3 per cent and direct sales were down 5.2 per cent. However, lumber was up 7.2 per cent. The large member rebates were due to upgrades in its logistics and order fill systems. For example, its new voice-pick system reduced the amount of time and mistakes made in filling orders and helped trim warehouse returns in excess of 11 per cent from last year. It also reduced its outbound freight costs by 4.2 per cent, or $1.9 million, and cut more than 1 million delivery miles.

CertainTeed To Plant 1,000 Trees

CertainTeed Corporation is introducing the “Let’s Grow Together” program with a promise to plant a total of 1,000 trees in 2010. As part of the program, the company will plant the trees in the name of homeowners working with a CertainTeed 5-Star ‘green’ contractor who installs a vinyl or polymer shake siding or exterior trim product. The trees will be planted through American Forests, a national non-profit conservation organization promoting healthy forests and urban tree planting.

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 October 8, 2010

Target Reveals Canadian Plans

Target representatives attended the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) convention in Toronto – a strong indication that it will begin launching stores in Canada. The mass merchant, second to only Walmart in the U.S., revealed it hopes to open six to 10 stores in late 2014 or 2015 and, ultimately, 200 stores in Canada one day. Target had eight real estate representatives registered at the ICSC event and held several meetings with property developers. In June 2010, the Minnesota-based retailer confirmed it was looking at Canada as its first foray beyond the U.S., but didn’t fully reveal it would open stores here. Target currently has 1,743 stores in the U.S.

Building Permit Value Drops

Contractors took out $5.7 billion in building permits in August, a decrease of 9.2 per cent from July, says Statistics Canada. However, that figure is still 11.4 per cent higher than in August 2009. The drop was due to decreases in the non-residential sector, which outweighed increases in the residential sector. In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued $2.2 billion worth of permits, down 22.9 per cent from July. In the residential sector, the value increased two per cent to $3.5 billion, following four months of decline. Municipalities issued $1.5 billion worth of permits for multi-family dwellings in August, up 12.9 per cent from July, the highest value since July 2008. The value of single-family permits decreased 4.9 per cent to $2 billion. Municipalities approved the construction of 16,764 new dwellings in August, down 0.3 per cent from July. Regionally, the total value of building intentions increased in New Brunswick, B.C., Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

Lowe’s, Moen WaterSense Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recognized Moen as the '2010 WaterSense Manufacturer Partner of the Year,' and Lowe’s as 'WaterSense Retailer Partner of the Year.' Lowe’s is the first retailer to achieve the honour two years in a row, and was recognized for promoting water efficiency and raising awareness of the WaterSense label. Moen was selected based on its WaterSense-labelled product offerings; efforts to promote the benefits of WaterSense; and its strategic collaborations with retailers, government authorities, trade associations, and non-profits. The awards were accepted at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Expo in Las Vegas.

Costco Up Fourth Quarter

Costco Wholesale Corporation’s fourth-quarter net income increased nearly
16 per cent, thanks to higher revenue from membership fees and international operations, the company says. Quarterly net sales grew by eight per cent to $23.59 billion from $21.89 billion in the same year-ago period. It earned $432 million in the quarter, up from $374 million in the same period a year earlier. While revenue from sales at stores open at least a year increased six per cent over all, that same figure grew 14 per cent for international sales, indicating its push into markets outside the U.S. is paying off.

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October 7, 2010

RONA Acquires Don Park

RONA inc. reached an agreement to acquire, through its subsidiary Noble, the assets of Don Park Limited Partnership in Canada, a distributor and manufacturer of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products (HVAC). The acquisition “provides strong growth potential in the plumbing and HVAC market in Ontario and opens up many development opportunities in other regions of Canada,” says Michael Storfer, vice-president, commercial and professional market division, RONA. The acquisition gives RONA greater market share in the segment after having expanded Noble’s operations into this area, and is in line with its plan to grow in the professional market by focusing on specific segments. Don Park was founded in 1972 and has been owned by diversified trust TerraVest Income Fund since 2005. It has 14 branches, three manufacturing facilities, and one distribution centre in Ontario.

Northern Homes Need Major Repairs

Homes in northern Canada are two to four times more likely in need of major repairs compared to residences in the south, says The Conference Board of Canada’s ‘Centre for the North’ research campaign. In Northern Manitoba, 28 per cent of homes are in need of major repairs, compared to only nine per cent of residences in southern Manitoba. In Saskatchewan, 38 per cent of northern homes were in need of major repairs, compared to 10 per cent in the southern part of the province. “Homes in northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan are in particularly dire condition,” says Gilles Rhéaume, vice-president, public policy. In the three territories, Nunavut had 20 per cent of homes in need of major repairs, the Northwest Territories had 18 per cent, and Yukon had 15 per cent. For more information, visit www.centreforthenorth.ca.

Lowe’s London Opens

Lowe’s has opened a store in London, ON, representing the 18th Canadian launch. The store has 103,000 square feet of retail sales space and a 29,000-square-foot garden centre. It’s located at a former Sam’s Club site that shut down last year. Lowe’s says it plans to open 29 outlets in Canada by next May.

IKEA Conserving Through Partnership

IKEA has partnered with the Building Owners and Managers Association of the Greater Toronto Area (BOMA Toronto) Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) Program, as part of its energy conservation initiatives in the GTA. Two IKEA locations in the GTA have integrated BOMA CDM program incentives which include lighting retrofits and upgrades to lighting controls and building automation systems. The projects are estimated to divert more than 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

RIMA To Present At METALCON

The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association International (RIMA-I) will present an educational training session entitled ‘Fundamentals of Reflective Technology’ at the 2010 METALCON show in Las Vegas, NV. It will be held on October 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV. METALCON is a trade show covering the metal construction industry. For more information, visit www.METALCON.com.

American Insulock Changes Name

American Insulock Inc. has changed its name to Lexicon Building Systems Ltd. Vancouver, BC-based Lexicon is a producer of environmentally friendly, alternative building materials for structural wall systems.

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October 6, 2010

RONA, Calgary Flames Form Partnership

RONA inc. is the official home improvement retailer of the Calgary Flames Hockey Club and the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL (Western Hockey League). To mark the occasion, Craig Conroy and Mikael Backlund of the Flames, along with RONA, held a community tailgate party at its northeast Calgary store. The three-year partnership includes permanent, camera-visible RONA branding at home games, and the addition of a patch to all Flames practice jerseys, a brand new initiative to the NHL this year. Part of the RONA network, TOTEM Building Supplies, an Alberta company, will also share in some visibility on the board and within the arena.

IRLY Welcomes Member

IRLY Building Supplies White Rock, of Vancouver, BC, is the newest IRLY member. The operation is located in a new strip mall development so space won’t allow for building materials; however, IRLY agreed to give its customers access to building materials through special orders. Scheduled to open in November, the store is owned by Yupin Uthaikhaifar, who recently owned a flower shop with a Sears Catalogue outlet. She says that with her children now grown up, she is ready to start another business. 

Housing Returning To Normal

Residential real estate markets across Canada will return to more normal levels after a brief summer lull, but are not likely to exceed the robust sales posted in the final half of 2009, says a report by RE/MAX. Its ‘Market Trends Report Fall 2010’ finds that prices were up year-over-year in all cities, with Vancouver, BC, and St. John's, NL, up 16 per cent, Sudbury, ON, up 13 per cent, and Winnipeg, MB, and the Greater Toronto Area, ON, up 11 per cent. Balanced conditions prevailed in 79 per cent of cities, as St. John's, Kelowna, and Calgary, AB, declared a firm buyer's market. There was a significant upswing in upper-end sales in both smaller and larger centres between January and August 2010, lead by Sudbury’s 193 per cent increase and Kelowna’s 163 per cent increase. It also found that the threat of higher interest rates, tighter lending policies, and the HST in Ontario and B.C. had a nominal impact on the market, while economic uncertainty played a greater role in softening housing conditions over the summer months.

U.S. Construction Up In August

U.S. construction spending was up 0.4 per cent to $811.8 billion during August, says the Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. The August result, however, is 10 per cent below August 2009’s $901.8 billion. Private sector spending was $498.2 billion, about one per cent below July’s $502.6 billion. Residential construction in August was $238.5 billion, down 0.3 per cent from the July estimate of $239.1 billion. Non-residential construction in August was $259.7 billion, 1.4 per cent below $263.5 billion estimated in July.

Conference To Cover Trends

The 15th Annual Hardlines Conference is scheduled for October 28 to 29, 2010, at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel. The event kicks-off with presentations on retail and economic trends, as well as other education, industry intelligence, and networking opportunities.

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October 5, 2010

TIM-BR MART Purchases CanWel Hardware

TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. has reached an agreement to acquire CanWel Hardware from CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. for $50 million in cash. The purchase includes two distribution centres in Victoriaville, QC, and London, ON, as well as two building material warehouses in Chalifour, QC. The move also gives TIM-BR MARTS ownership of the ‘PRO’ name and licencing rights to the 'ACE' brand name in Canada. CanWel says selling its hardware division is partly based on its strategy to focus exclusively on its core business of distributing building materials products. The sale represented an opportunity to exit the hardware business on attractive terms, it says, and focus on the CanWel+Broadleaf division. TIM-BR MARTS says it plans to welcome all current CanWel Hardware customers and notes the acquisition will not disrupt supply from the four warehouses.

Walmart VP To Lead Retail Women’s Group

Michelle Gloeckler is president of the Network of Executive Women, a diversity organization focused on attracting, retaining, and advancing women in the consumer products and retail industry. She is senior vice-president of merchandise execution for Walmart.

IKEA Reveals First Ever Results

IKEA's group sales increased by 1.4 per cent to €21.8 billion, and net profit was up by 11.3 per cent to €2.5 billion for 2009. For fiscal year 2010, sales grew by 7.7 per cent to €23.1 billion.

Stanley B&D Moving Indiana Plants

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is relocating two Indiana manufacturing plants  to a 220,000 square-foot building in Greenfield, IN, by 2012. The new facility will produce industrial fasteners, steel fasteners, and industrial applications equipment and will assemble pneumatic tools.

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October 4, 2010

RONA Acquiring TruServ Canada

RONA inc. has reached a deal to acquire TruServ Canada, giving it “instant geographical penetration” across Canadian communities, particularly in Ontario and Western Canada, says Robert Dutton, president, RONA. Daniel Richard, RONA’s director, corporate communications, says the deal had been in the works for a couple of months and that the support of GROWMARK, Inc., which holds approximately 29 per cent of TruServ’s shares, solidified the deal. The proposed transaction is expected to close before the end of the year and is subject to approval by TruServ’s shareholders. So far, RONA says the transaction has the support of all of TruServ’s board of directors. With TruServ's 400,000 square-foot distribution centre in Winnipeg, MB, and another 250,000 square-foot facility in Kitchener, ON, the acquisition would enable RONA to leverage complementary infrastructure “and provide independent dealers with all the tools they need to better compete against the emergence of large international retailers in Canada," added Dutton. TruServ represents distribution sales of more than $100 million and more than 650 independent dealers across Canada, adding hardware, general merchandising, and specialized agriculture stores to RONA’s network.

Small Business Confidence Up

Sixty-three per cent of Canadian small business owners feel confident in the current economy, following the economic downturn a year ago, says the Staples Canada survey of small business owners. It shows that confidence rose sharply, up from 45 per cent in August of 2009. As well, 92 per cent say their business will improve or stay the same over the next six months. The recession, however, may still be having a lasting impact, as four-in-five Canadian small business owners are still making changes to their business, due to current economic conditions. Operational cost cutting/deferred spending is still the most common coping method, the survey finds.

Olympic Releases 2011 Palettes

Olympic Paints' four 2011 palettes reflect the current state of the world and a desire for simplicity, the company says. ‘Eco-Esthetic’ represents tones inspired by the organic world, combining, for example, calming teals with earth tones. ‘Delicate Escape’ reflects homeowners’ desire to transform living spaces into peaceful retreats through tones such as airy teal, frosted green, and soft coral. ‘Culture Chic’ aims for an intriguing atmospheres to relax or entertain, through lush jewel tones or gold and brown with pops of indigo. And ‘Pop-Luxe’ is a modern look at the colours of the 1960's, through, for example, black and white combined with bursts of fuchsia, teal, and spring green.

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October 1, 2010

GDP, Retail Trade Down In July

Real gross domestic product decreased 0.1 per cent in July, says Statistics Canada, the first monthly decline since August 2009. Manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, construction, and forestry all posted decreases. Following a 0.7 per cent gain in June, retail trade dropped 0.5 per cent in July, with decreases recorded in furniture, home furnishings, and electronics stores as well as in building and outdoor home supplies stores. Increases in general merchandise stores, clothing stores, and car dealers tempered declines. Construction declined 0.5 per cent as residential building construction fell two per cent. Manufacturing decreased 0.7 per cent in July, with 11 of the 21 major groups retreating.

Richelieu’s Earnings Grow

Richelieu’s third-quarter net earnings grew by 16.7 per cent to $10.3 million, thanks mainly to the “sustained robustness” of Canadian markets and new market share in the U.S., the company says. During the quarter, it closed its fifth acquisition since the beginning of 2010; this resulted in a 40.6 per cent increase in net earnings for the first nine months. Consolidated sales for the quarter stood at $116 million, an increase of 8.2 per cent. Its strongest growth was in sales to kitchen and bathroom cabinet makers, up 18.5 per cent in Canada and up 14.2 per cent in the U.S. Business in the home furnishings and office furniture sectors were also higher.

Walmart Elects CFO

Walmart has elected Charles Holley its chief financial officer. He will succeed Tom Schoewe who will stay on until January 31 to help with the transition. "Charles has great experience both inside Walmart and externally," says CEO Mike Duke. "He is a talented strategist who also thoroughly understands the details of our business and the financial markets.” Before joining Walmart in 1994, Holley worked for Tandy Corporation (now Radio Shack) as managing director for its European Memorex division and as director of finance, international operations.

Canadian Lighting DC Opens

Lighting supplier Brand Neue Corp. has opened its InteLEDgent Lighting Solutions Inc. - Canadian LED Lighting Distribution Center in Edmonton, AB. The company says the new warehouse space will allow it to process and distribute its LED lighting inventory throughout Canada faster and provide access to a wider range of quality LED products. The facility will store and supply a range of LED lighting products including high bay fixtures, four-foot tubes, PAR bulbs, and MR16s. "Our goal is to be the trusted supplier of high-quality LED lighting products for local and national LED retrofitters," says Kevin LaBranche, manager of marketing and distribution.

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