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News

July 29, 2011

Consumer Confidence Waning

After three months of gains, the TNS Consumer Confidence Index dropped in July from 100.3 to 99.7. The ‘Present Situation Index,’ which measures how people feel about the economy right now, was up very slightly, from 100.1 to 100.3 The ‘Buy Index,’ which measures the extent to which Canadians' feel that now is a good time to purchase a ‘big ticket item’ such as a car or major household appliances, has dropped more than two full points, from 95.4 to 93.3, losing the gains that it made when people were feeling better in the spring. The ‘Expectations Index,’ which measures people's outlook for the economy six months from now, remains unchanged at 105.4.

Promotional Pricing Increases Sales

Second quarter sales for Lumber Liquidators increased four per cent to $175.5 million, up from $168.7 million in the same quarter last year. CEO Jeffrey W. Griffiths says the company’s annual ‘Big Sale’ drew a strong customer response due to targeted promotional pricing. The company outlook for 2011 includes an expectation of net sales in the range of $670 to $700 million with third quarter net sales in the range of $165 to $180 million, and fourth quarter net sales in the range of $170 to $185 million.

Chinese Demand Increases Earnings

Plum Creek had earnings of $44 million in the second quarter, up from $35 million last year. The company says shipments of Oregon saw logs to China went up seven per cent, compared with the first quarter, and China now accounts for 27 per cent of such logs.

Appliances Holdings Sold to Chinese Firm

Panasonic Corp has sold its unit's washing machine and refrigerator operations in Japan and Southeast Asia to Chinese firm Haier Group Co. Panasonic subsidiary Sanyo Electric Co will sell all its holdings in about 10 units and affiliates by the end of 2011. Sanyo units in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines will also be sold, along with shares in their affiliates.

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July 28, 2011

Drywall Tape Production Moves To U.S.

Saint-Gobain Adfors has begun producing its drywall tape product in Albion, NY. The company has moved the production of the product to its North American headquarters from its facility in Changzhou, China, to have better control over aesthetics and packaging to serve the Japanese markets.

Wall Coverings Demand To Reach $2.2 Billion

Demand for wall coverings is projected to advance 8.2 per cent annually to $2.2 billion in 2015, says the ‘Wall Coverings’ study by the Freedonia Group. This represents a dramatic improvement over the performance of the 2005-2010 period when demand for wall coverings fell sharply in the wake of the economic recession and the collapse of the U.S. construction market. Wall panel products demand is forecast to increase the most at nine per cent to $1.2 billion, while wallpaper is projected to increase 7.3 per cent to $480 million. The development of products such as wallpaper borders, custom wallpaper, and textured wallpaper is expected to breathe new life into a previously depressed product category, as well as advancements, which make products easier to apply and remove. 

Home Décor Turns To Destination Painting

Canadian paint brand CIL Paints is unveiling its newest concept in home decorating: destination painting. The concept gives consumers the chance to surround themselves with colours from the top five vacation destinations for 2011 according to Frommer’s travel guidebook ‒ Brazil, Sweden, Costa Rica, China, and the Mediterranean.

Tupperware Grows In Emerging Markets

Tupperware Brands Corp’s second-quarter net income rose 12 per cent to $65.1 million. The Orlando, FL-based company ‒ which makes home, kitchen, beauty, and personal care products ‒ has been focused on growth in emerging markets which made up for approximately 58 per cent of sales. It reported the strongest sales in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia/Singapore, Turkey, and Venezuela.

July 28 Product Spotlight

• Hyde Tools has added four tools to its Pro Stainless series designed with rust-resistant blades. The Chisel Scraper, 4′ Stiff Scraper, and 8″ and 10″ Flexible Joint Knives have metal hammer head ends for setting nails and comfort-grip for prolonged jobs. 
• The Heavy-Duty Electric Walkie Straddle Stacker from Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks features an AC-powered drive motor and electric power steering option, giving operators precise control when traveling at any speed. The stacker can be easily powered-up by using a key or with an optional keyless access pad. Optionally, after a set amount of time of inactivity, the walkie stacker's auto shutdown feature powers the forklift down, conserving energy and allowing for more run time. The forklift’s AC-powered drive motor's brushless design significantly diminishes noise levels and improves operating efficiency.
• Milwaukee has introduced small angle grinders with Overland Protection to maximize motor life and Constant Power Technology enabling the grinder to maintain speed under load. Eight 4-1/2″-5″ compact small angle grinders and 10 5″-6″ high performance grinders are available in the line.
• Hoover’s LinX Stick Vacuum is powered by a cordless 18-volt lithium-ion battery system and WindTunnel Technology that utilizes three suction tunnels. The one-touch brush roll activation transitions from hard floors to carpets, and the vacuum can stand upright on its own.
• The 7000 Watt generator from Rigid features a commercial grade Honda engine and a removable control panel to let the user move essential plugs and controls where needed. The panel is equipped with a GenSmart digital display to monitor performance and wattage usage and can run for up to 12 hours at 50 per cent load.
• Ryobi’s Expand-it attachment system includes versatile lawn and garden equipment that attaches to any Universal-fit split shaft trimmer. The line features six attachments to create a customized lawn care system, including a two cycle power head that powers a hedge trimmer, edger, brush cutter, tiller, pole pruner, and straight shaft trimmer.
• Flushmount body sprays from Moen Canada blend in with tile, slate, or other premium shower surround materials and allow the user to pivot the water up to 20 degrees in any direction to create their own shower experience. The fixtures also feature an adjustable mounting bracket that ensures quick and easy alignment, and are available in round or square trim shapes in Chrome, Brushed Nickel, and Oil Rubbed Bronze.

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July 27, 2011

DuPont Acquires Innovalight

DuPont has acquired Innovalight, Inc., a company specializing in advanced silicon inks and process technologies that increase the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells. The acquisition strengthens DuPont's position as a leader in materials for the solar energy market. DuPont exceeded $1 billion in revenue from sales into the photovoltaic market in 2010 and has set a goal to reach $2 billion by 2014 based on continued growth supported by new innovations that improve solar module efficiency, lifetime, and overall system costs.

U.S. Confidence Improves

The U.S. Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in June, improved slightly in July. It now stands at 59.5 (1985=100), up from a downwardly revised 57.6 in June. Last year, July's index stood at 51. The gain in July is the result of an improvement in consumers’ short-term outlook. Consumers’ appraisal of current business and employment conditions, however, was less favorable as concerns about the labour market continue to weigh on consumers’ attitudes. Overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future, but some of the concern expressed last month has abated.

Masco Sales Decrease

Masco Corporation’s net sales for the second quarter ended June 30 decreased one per cent to $2 billion, compared to the second quarter of 2010. North American sales decreased six per cent and international sales increased 18 per cent. The second quarter of 2011 was negatively impacted by continued declines in new home construction and in the deferral of ‘big ticket’ repair and remodel activity.

3M Sees Net Income Rise

3M had second-quarter net income of $1.16 billion, up 3.6 per cent from $1.12 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Net sales totaled $7.7 billion, up 14.1 per cent from $6.7 billion in the year-ago period. Sales increased in all regions. Europe was up 24.1 per cent, Latin America/Canada was up 20.2 per cent, Asia Pacific was up 11 per cent, and the United States was up 8.7 per cent.

Milton Roxul Facility Certified

Roxul Inc.’s Milton, ON, facility has earned certification from the International Code Council Evaluation Services for producing products with a 75 per cent recycled content. Roxul has the ability to produce product with up to 93 per cent recycled content without any product performance compromise and on a per project basis as required. It is the first stone wool manufacturer to earn third-party certification of its products’ recycled content. Roxul continues to invest in its North American facilities, focusing on the company’s manufacturing and environmental efficiencies.

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July 26, 2011

Consumers Look For Lowest Price

For retailers who want to close more sales during the coming holiday season, competitive prices will give them the upper hand, says Channel Intelligence. It says with consumer confidence down, sales through comparison shopping engines are up 32 per cent because consumers are looking for the lowest price rather than automatically buying from their favourite retailers. It also says that same-seller, year-over-year sales were up 30 per cent across all channels for the company’s retail clients in the second quarter of 2011. Retailers using its ‘Product Search’ saw a 28 per cent year-over-year sales increase and clients using its ‘Shopping Engines’ service experienced a 32 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2010.

Marshall Using Communications Group

Marshall Mattress has retained The Communications Group Inc. as its public relations consultant. Established in Toronto, ON, in 1900, its founder James Marshall, a machinist and engineer, received a Canadian patent for the world’s first individual pocketed spring mattress. All Marshall Mattress bed designs are made in Canada. The company also manufactures specialty bedding specifically for the healthcare and hotel industries.  

USG Suffers Sales Decrease

USG Corp., a building products company, had net sales of $761 million for its second quarter of 2011, a 1.04 per cent decrease over sales of $769 million a year ago. The company posted an operating loss of $21 million and a net loss of $70 million, compared with $25 million and $74 million, respectively, in the second quarter of 2010. Revenues for the U.S. Gypsum division were $322 million in the second quarter, a 4.2 per cent decrease from $336 million a year ago.

Saint-Gobain Makes Acquisitions

Saint-Gobain SA, the French construction material firm, will buy two units from UK company Wolseley PLC. The deal sees it acquiring Build Center, a retailer of building materials with branches throughout the UK, and Brossette, the French unit of Wolseley. Brossette is a retailer of plumbing, heating, and sanitary products in France.

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July 25, 2011

Sales Edge Up In May

Retail sales edged up 0.1 per cent in May to $37.5 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales in seven of 11 subsectors were mostly offset by declines at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at food and beverage stores. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.3 per cent) registered the largest increase in sales, partially offsetting the declines observed in March and April. More favourable weather conditions stimulated sales of hardware and lawn and garden products. These same conditions also pushed up sales at general merchandise stores (+0.8 per cent), which posted their fourth increase in five months. The category of ‘other general merchandise stores’ led the gain, rising 1.3 per cent. Department store sales increased 0.4 per cent, a third consecutive monthly increase.

Sherwin Williams Profit Dips

Sherwin Williams Co.’s second-quarter profit dipped one per cent as the paint company dealt with higher raw material costs and increased expenses. It reported net income of $179.1 million for the three months ended June 30. That's down from $181.7 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 10 per cent to $2.35 billion from $2.14 billion, benefiting from price increases, favorable currency fluctuations, acquisitions, and strong sales in the global finishes group. Its brands include Dutch Boy, Minwax, and its namesake,

Whirlpool Reports Loss

Whirlpool had a second-quarter net loss of $161 million, compared with net earnings of $205 million in the same period last year. Sales in the second quarter of 2011 totaled $4.7 billion, up four per cent from $4.5 billion in the second quarter of 2010. In the company’s North American division, second-quarter sales totaled $2.4 billion, down seven per cent from the prior year. North America unit shipments decreased about five per cent, while U.S. industry unit shipments of major appliances decreased about 10 per cent.

Builders FirstSource Sales Decline

Builders FirstSource had $206.4 million in sales for the second quarter of 2011, a decrease of 2.4 per cent over sales of $211.5 million in the second quarter a year ago. The company attributed the decline to commodity price deflation, which was partially offset by a slight increase in sales volume. Net loss for the chain was $15.5 million, compared with a net loss of $19 million in the corresponding period of 2010. Builders FirstSource operates 51 distribution centres and 46 manufacturing facilities in nine states, often on the same site, principally in the southern and eastern United States.

FLOR Opens In Dallas

FLOR Inc., a retail chain offering design-it-yourself modular floor coverings, has opened its fifth retail location in Dallas, TX. Other stores are located in Chicago, IL; Santa Monica, CA; Atlanta, GA; and the SoHo district of New York City, NY. Visitors to its stores can choose from a full range of colors, patterns, and textures available in its system of 19.7-in. carpet squares. Customers are invited to mix and match styles to create custom rugs, runners, and wall-to-wall designs of any length, size, or shape.

Whitehouse Manages Ontario

Kim Whitehouse is national accounts manager for Ontario for Canadian Technical Tape Ltd. and W. Ralston (Canada) Inc. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the Canadian retail market and was previously with Domtar Construction Materials, Boyd Distributors, Henry/Bakor, and, most recently, with IDEAL Industries Canada.

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July 22, 2011

Social Networks Influence Younger Canadians

Almost half (49 per cent) of online Canadians state that they are either strongly (five per cent) or somewhat (44 per cent) influenced by brand or product recommendations by members of their social network, says a poll by Ipsos Loyalty. It found the influence of social network recommendations is significantly stronger for online Canadians aged 18-34 (56 per cent) than for online Canadians aged 55+ (40 per cent). Within social networks, being ‘liked’ or ‘promoted’ is also critical, as four in 10 (41 per cent) online Canadians are influenced when those in their social network ‘like’ or ‘promote’ a brand or product. Once again the influence of being ‘liked’ is significantly higher for online Canadians aged 18-34 (46 per cent) than for online Canadians aged 55+ (34 per cent). Dave Pierzchala, vice-president with Ipsos Loyalty, says “these results show that social networks influence impressions and ultimately the bottom line. For younger Canadians the importance of being ‘liked’ is the generational equivalent of being ‘recommended’ at the backyard BBQ.”

U.S. Remodeling Remains Volatile

After showing signs of recovery, spending on home improvements in the U.S. is expected to remain volatile and weak over the next several quarters, says the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s ‘Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity’ (LIRA). It is projecting that annual remodeling spending through the first quarter of 2012 will be down four per cent. “The recent slowdown in the economy has caused home improvement spending to weaken again,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the joint centre. “Falling consumer confidence levels have undermined interest in discretionary remodeling projects.”

U.S. Economy Growing Slowly

The U.S. economy will grow slowly as summer turns into fall, says the Conference Board. Its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3 per cent in June. The index had rebounded 0.8 per cent in May after dropping 0.3 per cent in April. The April decline was the first since June 2010. The June rise in leading indicators suggests that the recent slowdown in growth won't worsen into a recession over the next few months, even with high unemployment and a weak housing market. Half of the 10 measures that the Conference Board compiles into its index showed improvement in June. Four declined and one was steady.

Canadian Tire Opens Most Energy-efficient Store

Canadian Tire has opened its most energy-efficient store to date. The store in Kemptville, ON, consumes 9.7 ekWh/sq ft (unit of energy usage for gas and hydro in kilowatt hours), versus 17.8 consumed in existing stores. In 2010, Canadian Tire set a goal to develop, build, and open a new prototypical store design by the end of 2011 that was 75 per cent more efficient than current models. The target was achieved in May with the opening of this store. In addition, installation of rooftop solar systems on 16 Canadian Tire stores is underway and will be operational by the end of this year with a further 24 scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. The renewable energy generated by these systems will be fed into the electrical grid and, when all 40 sites are complete, will produce enough renewable electricity to power 1,000 average-sized Canadian homes annually for 20 years. Stores in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario will be the first to see the rooftop installations; the program will then expand to include Ontario stores in Waterloo, Windsor, and Kenora.

Wal-Mart Mexico Profit Slips

Wal-Mart de Mexico SA’s second-quarter profit fell 3.4 per cent as the chain increased spending to open new stores and integrate Central American operations. The Mexican unit of Wal-Mart Stores reported a net income of 4.49 billion pesos ($380 million) in the April-June period, down from 4.65 billion pesos during the same three months of 2010. Revenue rose nine per cent to 88.37 billion pesos ($7.49 billion). Spending to open new stores cut into profits but will help performance in the second half of the year.

Atlantic Canada Trends Examined

‘Retail Trends in Atlantic Canada’ will be examined at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ ‘Atlantic Provinces Idea Exchange.’ Naveen Jaggi, senior managing director, retailer representation, The Americas, at CB Richard Ellis Limited, will discuss retailer geographic expansion, new markets, and up and coming retailer trends and expectations. It takes place August 15 to 17 in St. John's, NL. For more information, visit http://www.icsc.org/srch

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July 21, 2011

SMEs Complacent About Threat

Despite a seemingly unending stream of media stories on the increase of online data security breaches, research by Trend Micro reveals that while the majority (68 per cent) of Canada's small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) believe a threat exists to the security of businesses' online information, most are complacent about the IT safeguards at their companies and tend to underestimate the consequences of an Internet security breach. The ‘2011 Trend Micro Canada SME Survey’ shows SME views are equally divided about whether the threat arises from companies not taking the necessary precautions to protect their data (38 per cent) or because existing software does not provide effective protection (33 per cent). The remaining businesses surveyed say both are equally responsible, or are unsure. As well, it found there is not yet widespread awareness of cloud computing. The limited number of Canadian SMEs who have adopted cloud computing were driven by a desire to spend less time and money on IT infrastructure. Most SMEs believe cloud represents the future of IT, but few think it will become the common standard in the next 12 to 18 months.

Perceptions Towards Store Brands Declining

While the majority of global consumers still perceive store brands to be the same as or better than national brands, their positive perceptions toward store brands may be starting to decline slightly, says a study by Ipsos Marketing, Consumer Goods. It found on key dimensions ‒ including providing good value for the money, meeting their needs, offering convenience, being good for their families, and offering products their family requests ‒ more than 80 per cent of global consumers indicated that store brands are the same as or better than national brands. However, compared to the same study conducted a year prior, store brand ratings declined somewhat, most notably in the areas of being environmentally-friendly, high-quality, trustworthy, unique, and innovative. Taste, efficacy of household products, and packaging appeal slipped as well.

Poor Spelling Costly

Poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses, says Charles Duncombe, an online entrepreneur. His analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half, suggesting misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website's credibility. Spelling is important to the credibility of a website, he says. When there are underlying concerns about fraud and safety, then getting the basics right is essential. He says that it is possible to identify the specific impact of a spelling mistake on sales. He says he measured the revenue per visitor to the website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected.

Receipts Sent By eMail

An increasing number of retailers are offering to send receipts by email, touting it as a convenient, environmentally friendly alternative to paper receipts. Retailers ‒ including Nordstrom and Gap ‒ began offering paperless receipts in the past few months. However, while some praise this for its added convenience, others view it as a ploy to gain access to a customer's eMail account so they can send eMails and text messages alerting consumers to deals.

Home Depot Sells Wind Turbines

Residents of Texas, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and California can now buy their own personal wind turbines. Southwest Windpower’s Skystream 3.7 is now available at select Home Depot stores in these states. Designed to work in low winds, it produces up to 400 kw hours of clean electricity each month and is designed for homes and businesses connected to the grid. Although the program is limited to a select number of Home Depot stores at the moment, Southwest Windpower hopes to expand the program to other locations in the future.

Shopping Formats Examined

‘Shopping Formats, the New Reality’ is the focus of a session at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ ‘Canadian Retail Forum.’ It will look at the various forms of shopping formats, including street retail, enclosed malls, power centres, lifestyle centres, mixed use developments, and hybrid centres. As well, it will examine how shopping formats may change due to the U.S. and international retail invasion. Theme of the event is ‘Retail Renaissance: The Future Is Here!’ It takes place September 21 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.icsc.org/2011crf

July 21 Product Spotlight

• The Bostitch 15 gauge finish nailer kit is designed for the installation of molding, door/window casings, trim, hardwood flooring, furniture, solid hardwood flooring, and advanced woodworking. The tool features a rear exhaust, located at the end of the handle, to direct air away from the user and eliminate blowback. It is magnesium-constructed and accepts FN-style 15 gauge angled finish nails (collated at 25°) between 1¼˝ and 2½˝ in length, with a storage capacity of 128 nails.
• The M18 Cordless ⅜″ Right Angle Drill Driver from Milwaukee is the only 18V right angel drill with an adjustable clutch feature. The tool provides 11 torque settings and one drill mode for close-quarter fastening applications. Users can quickly change bits without additional tools with the keyless ratcheting chuck.
• The Ryobi Tek4 Inspection Scope is built for HVAC work, plumbing, home repairs, and other confined areas. It has a camera cable that can be submersed in water for up to 30 minutes and an on-screen image which rotates 180 degrees for the operator’s perspective. The scope offers 2X magnification digital zoom, a 2.7″ colour LCD screen, and five hours of continuous runtime.
• Rigid’s portable workstation will clamp a variety of materials such a wood, metal, doors, lawnmower blades, and glued panels with a foot pedal lock. Legs fold easily for transport or storage and the all steel construction give added durability and secure grip.
• New models of Task caulk reels – the Signature and the Ergonomic ‒ feature a capless refill port allowing for quick, no-spill refills. The units feature super-fast rewinds, integrated line levels, and all-in-one end hooks that hold nails and ledges and will tack into drywall.  They have double injected cases with non-slip rubber grips and extra strong lines that resist breakage. 
• RustCoat fromBeauti-Tone is a rust paint that adds lustre and protection to metal and wood pieces indoors and outdoors. It is available in two formulations ‒ alkyd, to restore and protect ferrous metal from corrosion; and latex, which is an anti-corrosive coating for metal ‒ to protect wood and concrete.  Both are available in high-gloss or in a black or white matte finish, and alkyd can be tinted to any of Beauti-Tone’s 3,500 shades. 
• Black & Decker’s 36V Variable-Speed Self-Propelled Cordless Rechargeable Mower allows users to adjust the mowing speed to their personal pace to achieve cutting results with minimal effort. The mower is an alternative to gas powered lawn mowers and can be adjusted to the height of the user. The fold-up frame collapses for convenient storage and the lightweight polymer cutting deck comes with a lifetime warranty.
• Countertops, shower doors, window treatments, barbeques, and refrigerators are easily cleaned with the Dirt Devil Hand Held Steamer with Jet Tip Extension for concentrated steam. The steam squeegee attachment can be used on glass and fibreglass without streaking or scratching, and the lightweight body makes it easy to clean tight spaces. 

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July 20, 2011

Composite Index Rises In June

The composite index rose 0.2 per cent in June after a 0.8 per cent gain in May, says Statistics Canada. In June, four of the 10 components declined compared with none the month before. Most of the reversals occurred in manufacturing, where all three components swung from gains the month before to declines or no change. Much of the downturn in manufacturing originated in the auto sector, where the disruption of the global supply chain originating in Japan's tsunami disaster temporarily slowed assemblies in Canada in the spring. The ratio of manufacturing sales to inventories fell for the first time in seven months, led by the drop in auto shipments. Household spending remained mixed. The housing index increased 0.3 per cent, as housing starts in June reached their highest level of the year. Gains in housing helped to sustain growth in furniture and appliance sales.

Big Lots Expanding Into Canada

Big Lots Inc. is expanding outside the U.S. for the first time through its takeover of Canadian chain Liquidation World Inc. Its acquisition of Liquidation World is now complete giving it an immediate footprint in Canada with 89 stores. Big Lots operates more than 1,400 stores in 48 states.

Construction Industry Gets Life

Builders broke ground on more single-family homes and apartments in June as the battered U.S. construction industry gained a little life after a dismal spring. The Commerce Department says builders began work on a seasonally adjusted 629,000 homes last month, a 14.6 per cent increase from May. However, that's roughly half the 1.2 million homes per year that economists say must be built to sustain a healthy housing market. Much of the increase in June came from a surge in apartment construction, which jumped more than 30 per cent last month. Renting has become a preferred option for many Americans who lost their jobs during the recession and were forced to leave their rapidly depreciating homes. Since 1992, apartments have typically made up just 20 per cent of home construction. Now, they make up closer to 30 per cent of the market.

Grainger Has Record Results

Grainger had record results for the 2011 second quarter ended June 30, 2011. Sales increased 12 per cent to $2 billion versus $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Net earnings for the quarter increased 32 per cent to $170 million versus $129 million in 2010. Sales for the Acklands-Grainger business in the quarter increased 24 per cent versus the 2010 second quarter. Operating earnings in Canada increased 130 per cent for the 2011 second quarter, primarily due to strong sales, an improvement in gross margin, and operating expenses that grew at a slower rate than sales.

Grondin Joins Brick

Ken Grondin is chief financial officer and president, financial operations, at The Brick Ltd. Previously, he served as senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Parkland Fuel Corporation, an independent marketer and distributor of petroleum products supporting more than 600 retail fuel stations. He also served eight years as the chief financial officer of Nygard International, a North American designer and retailer of women's fashion operating more than 170 retail stores in Canada.

Kirck Passes Away

Don Kirck, vice-president, distribution and manufacturing, at Home Hardware Stores Limited, has passed away. He started at Home in 1976. Through the 1980s, he was involved in the establishment and management of the distribution centres in Debert, NS, and Wetaskiwin, AB.  He returned to St. Jacobs, ON, in 1990 to oversee the retrofit and expansion of that facility where he was promoted to director, national distribution, in 2000 and to vice-president of distribution and manufacturing in 2005.

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July 19, 2011

Consumers Invest In ReModelling

May 2011 became the month with the highest level of remodelling activity since the ‘BuildFax Remodelling Index’ was introduced in 2004. The report reveals continued month-over-month gains for every region of the U.S., with data demonstrating that consumers are continuing to invest in remodelling. Residential remodelling activity registered the 19th-straight month of year-over-year gains, demonstrating that many Americans are continuing to remodel their current homes, rather than purchasing new homes.

Production Moving To Mexico

Stanley Black & Decker will move most of the production of high-end hardware for doors and cabinets to Mexico. However, the customer- and consumer-services operation of Baldwin Hardware will remain in Reading, PA. Stanley Black & Decker has owned the Baldwin Hardware brand since 2003.

Owens Corning Applauds ecoEnergy Reinstatement

Owens Corning Canada is applauding the decision to reinstate the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program. Ric McFadden, vice-president of building materials at Owens Corning Canada, says “We know the grants made available to homeowners will encourage Canadians to make the necessary improvements to their homes, allowing them to save both money and energy over time.”  Between the introduction of the program in April 2007 and its withdrawal in March 2010, one in 20 homeowners have taken advantage of grants worth up to $5,000. McFadden says, for example, there are more than seven million under-insulated attics in Canada.

Chinese Construction Expenditures Rising

Construction expenditures in China are expected to rise 9.4 per cent per annum in real terms through 2015, moderating from the rapid pace of the 2005-2010 period, says The Freedonia Group, Inc. In ‘Construction Outlook in China,’ it says gains will be bolstered by a growing domestic economy, ongoing urbanization and industrialization, rebounding foreign investment funding, continuing efforts to expand and upgrade physical infrastructure, and rising income levels.  The three major construction segments ‒ residential buildings, non-residential buildings, and non‒building structures ‒ each accounted for approximately one-third of total spending in 2010 and will each grow around nine per cent.

BULB Bid Fails

A bid to repeal the phase-out of standard incandescent light bulbs failed to muster enough votes to win approval in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House voted 233-193, short of the two-thirds majority necessary to enact the ‘Better Use of Our Light Bulbs,’ or BULB, Act. A number of consumers, manufacturers, and even environmental groups oppose the phase-out of the old incandescents over three years.

Tools Going Online

Buy.com, an e-commerce marketplace, has expanded into the home improvement arena through a partnership with CPO Commerce, a supplier of new and reconditioned tools and other home channel products. Customers can now shop for more than 6,000 hammers, drills, saws, and other tools through Buy.com's CPO Outlets store online section. Products also include floor care, ceiling fans, saws, generators, lawn care products, pressure washers, and compressors. CPO Commerce operates 30 co-branded home improvement e-commerce sites. Many carry both new and closeout, discontinued, and factory-reconditioned products. It recently purchased TylerTools.com.

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July 18, 2011

Retail Economy Shows Increase

The Canadian retail economy saw a positive increase across the country in consumer spending, compared to the same period last year and surpassing the first quarter of 2011, says the Moneris Solutions’ ‘Spending Report.’ Spending accelerated as summer approached, with the largest growth of 5.06 per cent seen in June followed by 4.38 per cent in May and 2.42 per cent in April. The average purchase amount for both credit and debit card remained constant compared to the previous quarter at $115.67 and $48, respectively. Regionally, this is the first quarter where all provinces saw positive growth since the third quarter of 2010.

Home Sale Activity Climbs

Home sales activity over MLS Systems of Canadian real estate boards climbed in June 2011 compared to May. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) also says seasonally adjusted national home sales activity rose 2.6 per cent in June 2011 compared to the previous month. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 10.8 per cent above June 2010 levels, but this largely reflects falling sales activity last June. This was also the case for the year-over-year increase in activity in May. Year-over-year comparisons in July may also be stretched by falling activity one year ago, since July 2010 marked the low point for activity last year. As well, year-to-date sales remain in line with the 10-year average.

Sales Increase In U.S.

U.S. retailers had a sales increase of 0.1 per cent in June, says the U.S. Census Bureau’s ‘Advance Monthly Sales’ report. Adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, June sales were estimated at $387.8 billion, an increase of 0.1 per cent from the previous month. Compared with the same month last year, total sales were up 8.1 per cent. In the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers category, which includes hardware stores and home centres, June sales were $25.140 billion, up 1.3 per cent from $24.806 billion in May, and up 7.8 per cent from $23.330 billion in June 2010.

Brick Adds Value To Homes

Homebuyers are selling themselves, and their investment, short when they choose a vinyl-clad home over one with a masonry exterior, says a study by MasonryWorx, the trade association of brick, block, and stone masonry industry professionals. It shows that 84 per cent of Ontario new home shoppers prefer a house made of brick or stone, but most also believe it is the most expensive option. Half of all home shoppers consider vinyl siding the least expensive cladding option, but only six per cent prefer it. However, the idea that opting for a masonry exterior is vastly more expensive is a myth potential homebuyers should see past, says Dante Di Giovanni, the association’s president. “Building your new house out of brick versus vinyl adds only two to four per cent to the cost of the house,” Di Giovanni says. “When you factor a higher resale price, lower maintenance costs and lower energy costs into the equation, brick becomes a much better value.” 

HR Data Now On Smartphones

ADP has launched a free mobile application for client locations utilizing Apple, Android, or Blackberry mobile devices. The ADP Mobile Solutions application gives employees a comprehensive view of their HR and payroll data including pay statements, 401K and retirement savings, access to corporate directories, and the ability to log into their timesheets. The applications target the fast growing mobile workforce, expected to top one billion in 2011.

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July 15, 2011

Universal Forest Sees Fall In Income

Universal Forest Products’ second-quarter net income fell by more than two-thirds as consumers held back on projects such as fencing and decking during what is normally the busiest time of year. The company earned $4.3 million, down 69 per cent from $13.7 million last year. Revenue fell 15 per cent to $544.1 million from $638.6 million. The company said selling prices fell an estimated 10 per cent because of lower lumber prices and last year's results were boosted by the federal stimulus program for home buyers. The only increase came in commercial construction and concrete forming, up 23.2 per cent to $20.8 million.

EPA Concerned About Consumer Health

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking a closer look at new uses of glymes ‒ chemicals used in consumer products such as paints and coatings, adhesives and household batteries. The proposed action is based on concerns that additional uses of these 14 chemicals in consumer products could lead to harmful reproductive and developmental health effects.

Retailer Undergoing Supply Chain Improvements

As Home Depot continues to transform its supply chain, a new forecasting and replenishment system will be implemented within the company’s 19 rapid deployment centres. In January, the retailer opened its 19th RDC and it now serves 100 per cent of its stores through the infrastructure. About 40 per cent of the merchandise flow to stores goes through the RDCs. In-stock positions will be another area of improvement, especially in the chain's lower-volume stores.

Point Of Sale Software For Mac Users

Canadian Retail Solutions has partnered with Xsilva to offer retail software solutions to business owners using Mac systems. The Mac POS Software LightSpeed gives retailers a quick transaction processing, purchasing, inventory management, multi-store functionality, and web store integration, as well as enhancing the customer’s in-store experience by cutting down on line ups and wait times. The point of sale products also offer implementation and training programs specifically designed for LightSpeed and customizable to meet the needs of retailers.

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July 14, 2011

Home Improvement Costs Rise

The anticipated cost of planned home improvement projects in the U.S. in June increased five per cent to an average of $517 per project, says the Home Improvement Research Institute. The spending average is the highest recorded in the month of June since tracking began in 2008. It's also the highest since the January 2011 planned-spending average of $548 and the highest figure for June since tracking began in 2008. Overall, planned-project incidence increased to 49.1 per cent, compared with 48.1 per cent last year.

Energy Saving Initiatives Extended

The ecoENERGY program has been extended by the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources to continue providing energy efficiency-related initiatives to homeowners. Under the program, thousands of Canadian households have received incentive payments to offset the cost of energy saving retrofits. The federal government's commitment to provide up to $5,000 per household recognizes the positive impact individuals can make on reducing their GHG emissions and improving their homes' comfort and affordability when given the tools. The program will continue to March 31, 2012.

Accomplishment, Control Satisfy Business Owners

Almost 90 per cent of the small business owners say they are satisfied with the balance between their personal and professional pursuits, says a poll by Intuit Canada. The majority (84 per cent) also feel they have a better balance than if they worked for someone else.Work-life balance is often measured by comparing the amount of time spent on the job against time spent on personal pursuits. However, 97 per cent of small business owners said their view differs from the norm, as 46 per cent work more than 40 hours a week. Their sense of ownership over their work and ability to set their own schedule help contribute to their sense of work-life balance. 

Canadian Company Supplying Third-World Rebuilds

Innovative Composites International Inc., based in Toronto, ON, will supply housing for large-scale reconstruction projects in Haiti and Ghana. The company will provide two million square feet of its EcoScape composite housing product for projects in the two impoverished nations.

Sutch Consults On Showrooms

Stephen Sutch is showroom consultant for the wholesales sales department at Moen Canada’s Vancouver, BC, office. Sutch brings more than 25 years of design industry experience to the company, previously managing UpCountry in Toronto, ON, and owning and operating Koolhaus Design in Vancouver. Sutch will develop customer relationships with major interior design firms in Vancouver who specialize in the single and multi-family marketplace.  He will also be responsible for showroom display merchandising for new and existing builders, dealers, and wholesaler showrooms. 

CertainTeed CEO Retiring

Peter Dachowski will retire as president and CEO of CertainTeed Corporation at the end of August. During his 35-year tenure, he served in a long progression of executive roles in finance and global management. After Exxon Treasurers and the Boston Consulting Group, he joined CertainTeed in 1976 and was quickly promoted to vice-president and treasurer and, later, corporate comptroller. John Crowe, currently president of Saint-Gobain’s global abrasives business, will succeed him. 

July 14 Product Spotlight

• Dirt Devil’s Gator Cordless Hand Vacuums line allows for user-friendly portable cleaning. The ‘pop and drop’ cup means users push the two side buttons to release and empty the chamber after using on upholstery, carpet, drapes, or for car seats and mats. Units have a built-in crevice tool for edges and corners, are cordless, and weigh less than eight pounds.
• The Task line of caulking guns feature three skeleton frame models and five cradle frame models in 9″ and 13″ sizes. Premium models feature 360 degree rotating frames, allowing convenient left or right handed access to confined spaces. They also have high ratio triggers for reduced hand fatigue and hardened steel driving dogs to drive a variety of high viscosity caulks, sealants, and adhesives.
• Overhead Door’s Odyssey and Destiny residential openers are available with chain, belt, or screw drives and offer 140-volt DC motors that operate both quickly and quietly while providing enhanced safety features and smooth operation.
• The Stanley FatMax 17-ounce framing hammer is lightweight to reduce fatigue on the job while performing like a 22-ounce hammer. It features a checker face design and a hickory handle complete with a grip-enhancing axe-handle finish for ergonomic comfort and control. 
• The RIDGID portable jobsite wet tile saw has a 7″ diamond blade, drain plug, splash hood, rip guide assembly, and a miter guide assembly. The t-square design allows for fast, single action self-alignment for perfect square cuts. It will be available in August.
• Ryobi’s Tek4 LED light with lithium-ion battery technology has a 90-degree adjustable lamp assembly and six ultra-bright white LEDs for a variety of work areas. It is dust, impact, and water-resistant and doubles as a portable work light.
• The Hoover WH10600 Air Purifier removes 99.9 per cent of airborne contaminants with a Titanium Dioxide coated screen. Airborne bacteria, germs, and micro-organisms are removed with a UV bulb and the timer and remote control let the user manage settings across the room.
• Porter-Cable has expanded its 18V System with a Jobsite Radio (model PC18JR) featuring a full protective roll cage and a flexible antenna. Weather resistant premium stereo speakers withstand outdoor conditions and provide clear sound quality over background noise. It includes a backlit clock and a digital tuner, and is equipped with a 3.5 millimetre auxiliary input to work with external MP3 and CD players.
• Clean Cut International’s CLEANCut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser utilizes LED technology and an internal self sharpening blade to dispense and cut any length and brand of paper towel.

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July 13, 2011

Consumer Sentiment Continues To Lag

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. remained in negative territory as a stagnant job market keeps them cautious about spending, says the Consumer Reports Index for July. The ‘Consumer Sentiment Index’, which measures how consumers are feeling financially when compared with a year ago, rose slightly to 48.5 from the previous month’s index, but it continues to lag in negative territory. Senior citizens and households earning less than $50,000 have the weakest consumer sentiment. Northeastern states had the most improved sentiment, but were still negative at 48.1, and Southern states were the most optimistic with an index of 51.1.

Product Data Now Accessible Online

Retail merchants can instantly publish their product data online directly from their point of sale system. Retail Pro & Wishpond have announced a partnership allowing more than 50,000 merchants to publish product data. Retailers can install Wishpond's RetailConnect Import plugin to automatically ‘push’ product inventory data to Wishpond and keep it synchronized, and to view, manage, and publish their inventory online to Facebook, Google Product Search, or mobile applications.

Home Depot Responds To Professional Market

The Home Depot has begun a ‘First for Pro’ initiative designed to boost service for professional customers. Among the service differentiators are dedicated cashier staffing, unique ‘power hours,’ loading assistance, and a simplified returns process. ‘Power hours’ refer to the busiest periods of the day when the store emphasizes having a greeter at the front of the store and store associates at the front of each aisle. The busy period for contractors differs from the busy period for DIYers. The retailer's average pro customer currently spend about $5,000 per year at the Home Depot, clearly indicating that the stores are used by them as a ‘convenience pickup.’ The initiative reflects an effort to more efficiently respond to the professional customer market.

Roxul Insulation Available At Lowe’s

The Rockwool Group has signed an agreement with Lowe’s to supply products in 227 stores across 13 states. The Danish supplier of stone wool insulation and other building materials worldwide will bring products manufactured by Roxul Inc., the North American operations of Rockwool International, and distributed exclusively by PrimeSource. They include Roxul's Safe 'n' Sound fire and soundproofing insulation and thermal insulation ComfortBatt R15. Additional Roxul products will be available by special order at Lowes. The company currently sells its products in Lowe’s Canada stores.

Slowing Store Openings Bolstered Profits

Income at the Fastenal Co. was up 36 per cent to $94.1 million in the second quarter as sales continued to improve. The nuts, bolts, and fastener manufacturer said its revenue rose 23 per cent to $701.7 million from $571.2 million a year ago. Demand from industrial production customers as well as non-residential home construction improved. The company said it slowed down its store openings and cut back on hiring during the economic crisis, which bolstered its profits as the business recovered. It has opened 75 stores in the first six months of 2011 and had 2,558 locations at the end of the quarter. The company had 14,563 employees at the end of the period, up almost 10 per cent from the end of 2010.

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July 12, 2011

Walmart Shoppers Showed Least Loyalty

Most retailers are likely to lose some customers from the arrival of Target to Canada next year, but a study by Satov Consultant found 57 per cent of Walmart shoppers will shift their loyalty in favour of the new U.S. retailer when it arrives. It found 41 per cent of Sears customers said they were likely to visit Target more, compared with 37 per cent of those at The Bay. Canadian Tire, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and Costco have the most loyal customers amongst mass retailers, with 19 per cent of current Canadian Tire and Shopper’s customers and 16 per cent of Costco customers planning to become less frequent shoppers because of Target.

Seventh Division Added To Holdings

John H. Myers has joined US LBM Holdings as its seventh division. The company is a six-unit chain of LBM outlets in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Revenues for Myers topped $55 million in 2010. It will continue to operate as John H. Myers & Son while US LBM Holdings provides it with capital and back-office support to enable growth.

Good Outlook For Business Sector

Companies are more optimistic concerning sales and hiring in the coming year as conditions surrounding their ability to borrow more money ease, says the summer business outlook survey by the Bank of Canada. More than 50 per cent of firms asked said they experienced a gain in sales during the past year compared to 28 per cent which noted a revenue drop during the same period. In addition, 57 per cent of surveyed firms said they expect to see their payrolls expand during the next year, while 25 per cent said they have experienced labour shortages, both sure signs that companies see better economic prospects in the coming months.

Groupe BMR Adds Manager

Al Holton is Ontario business development manager at Groupe BMR. He was most recently with retail systems provider OGC.

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July 11, 2011

Target Offering Fresh Food

U.S. discounter Target Corp. has confirmed its stores will carry some fresh food when it opens in Canada in 2013. While it will not be bringing its SuperTarget stores ‒ which have full supermarkets along with conventional general merchandise aisles ‒ to Canada, it will stock foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit. Wal-Mart Canada Corp already has full grocery sections in its Supercentre stores, while other retailers, such as Shoppers Drug Mart, are expanding their food offerings. Target expects to have more than 200 outlets in Canada by 2017.

Potential First-Time Homebuyers Grow

More Canadians are looking to get into the housing market for the first time, surging from six  per cent last year to 11 per cent this year. A poll by Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada and the Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services found groups mostly likely to consider first time home purchasing include those under 35 (14 per cent), those with children (12 per cent), and those with incomes between $75,000 and $99,000 (11 per cent).

Consumer Confidence Highest Since April 2010

The TNS Consumer Confidence Index nudged up slightly in June, from 99.7 to 100.3, which is the highest it has been since April 2010. The ‘Present Situation Index,’ which measures how people feel about the economy right now, was also up slightly, from 98.5 (and 98 in April) to 100.1. The ‘Buy Index,’ which measures the extent to which Canadians' feel that now is a good time to purchase a ‘big ticket item’ such as a car or major household appliances, has rebounded after having dropped in May, rising from 92.7 to 95.4.

Richelieu Makes Third 2011 Acquisition

Richelieu has acquired Provincial Woodproducts Ltd., the company’s third acquisition since the beginning of 2011. The acquisition of the Newfoundland-based solid distributor will allow Richelieu to extend its physical presence in the Canadian market. Since 2010, it has expanded with nine acquisitions and the opening of a distribution centre.

Consulting Firm Heads South

Ideaca is expanding its retail practice into the Unites States. The Canadian-based consulting firm has more than 10 years of experience delivering Dynamics AX for Retail and Microsoft suite. Clients include LS Retail North America, Sobeys, and Subaru.

Window And Doors Demand Growing

Demand for windows and doors in China is forecast to rise 7.7 per cent annually to $54.3 billion (364.5 billion Yuan) in 2014, among the fastest rates of increase in the world. Gains will primarily be driven by strong building construction activity, spurred by the country’s further industrialization and urbanization, says the ‘Windows & Doors in China’study from The Freedonia Group Inc. Metal windows comprise about 60 per cent of the market, while wood is the dominant material in the door segment. 

Retail Sales Boosted In June

Revenue at major retailers in the U.S. rose 6.9 per cent for June, delivering the most robust gains for the month since 1999, says the International Council of Shopping Centers. Consumers were enticed by warmer weather and deep discounts of up to 80 per cent on summer merchandise. Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. were among the companies that posted June results that beat Wall Street estimates, and retailers such as Nordstrom Inc., Neiman Marcus, and Saks Inc. posted another month of stellar gains.

American Spending Patterns Flat

U.S. consumer confidence dropped to 43.7 in July down three points, as measured by the RBC Consumer Outlook Index. Americans continue to be frugal ‒ a trend that began during the last recession. It found 42 per cent of Americans say that they spent the same amount in the first half of the year as they did last year while 47 per cent say that they spent less. As well, 93 per cent plan to keep to the same spending patterns in the second half of 2011 or cut back even more (43 and 50 per cent respectively). More than one-in-four Americans (28 per cent) shifted to shopping at lower-priced stores during the recession and are still shopping there, compared to only eight per cent who shifted to discounters but have since switched back to their usual shopping sites.

Safety-Kleen Appoints First CEO

Curtis C. Knapp is chief marketing officer and senior vice-president of Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. As the company's first-ever CEO, Knapp will be responsible for all aspects of Safety-Kleen's marketing, corporate image, and brand initiatives. He joined Safety-Kleen in December 2008 as vice-president of channel marketing.

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July 8, 2011

Gift Card Company Expands Into Canada

The National Gift Card Corp. has expanded into to Canada with the launch of NGC Canada. The U.S. gift card marketer, supplier, and fulfillment agency will help meet increased customer demands with this new division and offer gift cards in Canadian dollar denominations for Canadian-based merchants, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The company will provide both U.S. and Canadian customers the ability to order gift cards representing multinational U.S. brands with locations in Canada, as well as Canadian-specific brands.

Roofing Manufacturer Buys Ontario Facility

Roofing products manufacturer Gardner-Gibson has acquired the manufacturing facility of GH International in Mississauga, ON, opening the way for its expansion into the Canadian market. The company currently operates 12 manufacturing and distribution facilities in the U.S. for roof coatings, blacktop sealers, acrylic caulks and sealants, wall covering adhesives, and specialty paints.

Garage Door Opener Inventor Celebrates 90th

Overhead Door Corp. is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the invention of the garage door opener. Company founder C.G. Johnson introduced the electric garage door opener in 1926 and it has since launched a number of residential and commercial use products. To celebrate, it has launched a line of residential garage door openers with enhanced safety features available with chain, belt, or screw drives.

Zep Inc. Reports Record Revenue

Revenue for the third quarter increased 9.7 per cent to $15 million at Zep Inc. The cleaning and maintenance product manufacturer reported its highest year-over-year gains despite tepid growth of the overall economy. Net income rose to $6.2 million, a 19.3 per cent increase over $5.2 million in net income reported for the prior year period. 

California Adds Carpet Tax

California now requires carpet manufacturers to add five cents to every square yard of carpeting sold or shipped in the state as an incentive to recycle carpet and encourage the production of products made from recycled carpets. Discarded carpet is one of the 10 most prevalent waste materials in California landfills according to state officials. The program was created last year and will be administered by the Carpet America Recovery Effort, a not-for-profit organization formed as a partnership between government, businesses, and members of the carpet industry.

Pentair Recognized for Retail Sales

Pentair has been recognized as True Value Company's 2010 ‘Partner of the Year.’ The award was based on its 35 per cent increase in retail sales and participation in several key retailer-support programs.

Hopper At TIM-BR MARTS

Barb Hopper is chief strategy officer and acting CFO at TIM-BR MARTS Ltd. As an accomplished business leader with a broad functional background and strong strategic focus, she has worked with large public companies and entrepreneurial organizations to increase organizational value through people, process, and technology. Her experience spans retail, manufacturing, distribution, and banking.

Dates Set For Canadian Show

The 2011 Canadian Home improvement Show will take place November 17 to 18 at the Toronto Congress Centre, South Building, in Toronto, ON. Retailers and suppliers from across Canada will be at the event to place orders and source new products for the home improvement sector. Visit www.canadianhomeimprovementshow.com for more information.

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July 7, 2011

May Sees Increase In Building Permits

The value of building permits rose 20.9 per cent to $6.4 billion in May, following a 21.5 per cent decline in April, says Statistics Canada. Higher construction intentions, particularly for commercial buildings in Quebec and Alberta and multi-family dwellings in Ontario, drove the advance. Following two consecutive monthly declines, permits in the non-residential sector rose 50.9 per cent to $2.7 billion. This gain came mainly from higher construction intentions in the commercial component in Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario. The total value of building permits increased in every province except Nova Scotia.

Small Business Owner Satisfaction Increases

Being their own boss, controlling their destiny, and making more money are some of the reasons why 66 per cent of Canadian small business owners described themselves as ‘very happy’, up from 63 per cent last year, says the 2011 TD Canada Trust ‘Small Business Survey.’ It found owners in Montreal were most likely to say they are "very happy" (70 per cent), followed by Toronto (68 per cent), Vancouver (66 per cent), and Calgary (60 per cent). The top benefits of business ownership reported were the sense of personal achievement (96 per cent) and being able to help their customers and clients (96 per cent), followed by being their own boss (94 per cent), and being in control of their own destiny (94 per cent).

Wood Supplier Cutting Costs

Universal Forest Products Inc. has announced cost reductions to save $10 million in 2011. The company did not specify where or when these cuts will take place. Year-to-date net sales through May 2011 were down 9.5 per cent to $765 million, including a decline of 15 per cent in net sales to retail customers. The company also said its results were affected by significantly higher fuel prices and lower lumber prices in 2011.

Supply Disruptions Lower Business Confidence

An index of Canadian small business confidence fell in June for a second consecutive month to the lowest level since last November, reflecting a less upbeat mood in most industries. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business ‘Business Barometer Index’ dropped to 66.3 from 66.9 the previous month. The mood in small businesses is in line with softness in other second-quarter indicators due to supply disruptions from the Japanese tsunami and earthquake and soaring energy costs earlier in the period.

International Home + Housewares Show Sets 2012 Dates

The International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, IL, is set for March 10 to 13, 2012, at McCormick Place. The show attracts more than 60,000 professional attendees from more than 120 countries, and features 2,000 exhibitors of bath, cleaning and storage solutions, and international products. Show information is available at www.housewares.org

July 7 Product Spotlight

• CertainTeed’s GlasRoc Roof Board offers contractors an alternative to fiberboard and perlite roofing cover boards designed for mechanically attached roofing systems, and offers enhanced moisture, mold, and fire resistance.
• The Weiser SmartKey system provides home safety with a patented sidebar locking technology and has a feature that allows the owner to re-key the lock without removing it from the door or having to use a locksmith. It is available in a range of finishes and styles including handle sets, knobs, levers, and deadbolts that have been given an ANSI Grade 1 rating, the most secure residential rating available.
• The Quattro Grill from STOK comes with interchangeable cooking inserts to change the grill grate to a pizza stone, griddle, or vegetable tray. It features four burners, a stainless steel hood, and porcelain-coated firebox construction.
• RIGID’s line of professional power washers now feature ‘Idle-Down’ to conserve gas, increase run-time, and reduce noise and emissions. The washers feature the CAT pump and a 30 foot steel braided hose.
• RYOBI’s Tek4 Stud Sensor is powered by 4V Lithium-ion battery technology. The sensor detects wood and metal studs, as well as live wire detection. It features an LCD screen and backlight.
• Milwaukee’s M18 Cordless 5-3/8″ Metal Saw delivers up to 35 per cent more cutting power with its 4-Pole frameless motor. The saw delivers more than 200 cuts of ¾″ per charge with superior accuracy and an extra-large cut guide.
• Task’s line of striking tools include sledges, mauls, axes, pickaxes, tampers, wedges, and bars with double injected fibreglass handles. The handles significantly reduce vibration transmission have built-in overstrike protection and integrated rubber grips that won’t twist or slip under pressure.  
3M has added Edge-Lock Paint Line Protector to its ScotchBlue family of painter’s tapes for professional-quality results. The enhanced adhesive formulation creates a barrier that delivers clean lines and leaves no chemical residue. It will be available at home centres September 2011.

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July 6, 2011

New Representation For Simms

King Marketing Ltd. is representing the western region for T.S. Simms & Co. The western region manager of the Canadian paint manufacturer, Tom Locey, will continue in his role and will support the King Marketing sales team.

Metals Manufacturer Acquires BernzOmatic

The pressure cylinders segment of Worthington Industries Inc. has purchased the BernzOmatic business from Irwin Industrial Tool Company, a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid. The acquisition gives the steel processing company an entry into the plumbing wholesale channel. It also increases its product mix. BernzOmatic operates two manufacturing facilities and had revenues of approximately $100 million in 2010.

Guard Master Challenges Consumers

Bedgear by Guard Master, Inc. will be teaching consumers how to get a better night’s sleep at its World Market Center in Las Vegas, NV, August 1 to 5. Attendees will be educated on the process of purchasing the right items for optimal sleep. It will look at getting the right pillows for their sleeping position, mattress construction, and mattress protectors. Its marketing slogan, ‘Performance in Bed,’ aims to get consumers thinking about how a good night’s rest can increase their daily performance.

Canadian Tire Introduces Interactive Kiosk

Customers at Canadian Tire’s Mississauga, ON, location can now digitally browse the flyer, search and locate products in the store, and get instant promotions sent to smartphones at the Novomap kiosk. Developed by Jibestream Interactive Media, the 42-inch LCD touch screen is designed to raise shopper awareness and drive sales at the retailer.

84 Lumber Contemplating Minor Facelift

84 Lumber in the U.S. is testing a consumer-oriented store format it hopes to roll out to rural markets underserved by big box retailers. The company hopes to transform 70 of its lumberyards into retail stores that feature items such as painting supplies and plumbing fixtures as well as gas grills, sheds, and backyard gyms. While it has no intention of moving away from its builder/contractor customer base, it hopes to double its consumer business, which now accounts for approximately 10 per cent of sales, to offset the loss of revenue due to the housing construction slump.

STAFDA Makes Most Of Technology

The Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA) has launched an improved website at stafda.org. It offers improved navigation and mobile device compatibility.  

New Representation For Applica Canada

Fleishman-Hillard Canada (FH) is now representing Applica Canada under the licensed trademark of Black & Decker. It is responsible for all communications-related inquiries.

Montreal Dealers Plan New RONA

RONA is set to open a 23,5000 square-foot store in the Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles borough of Montreal, QC, next spring. The outlet is owned by Vincent and Simon Legault, third-generation RONA dealer-owners. The store will include the usual departments ‒ such as paint, hardware, electrical, tools, and seasonal products ‒ as well as specialized departments for building materials, plumbing, and flooring. In addition, product categories such as lighting fixtures, mouldings, household goods, and storage items will be available.

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July 5, 2011

Business Must Be Mindful Of Misleading Advertising

The Competition Bureau sent a clear message to Canadian businesses on accuracy in advertisements and fine-print disclaimers, says a Fasken Martineau ‘Bulletin.’ In a recent case Bell Canada was given a $10 million administrative monetary penalty after the commissioner of competition found the company had charged higher prices than those advertised. The Competition Act prohibits representations to the public that are false or misleading in a material respect. In light of these developments and risks, Canadian advertisers would be well-advised to review their advertisements and their fine-print disclaimers, especially those that relate to price, with their legal advisors before publication.

Sustainable Products Arrive at Home Depot

The Home Depot will carry 20 selected products from 13 small and medium-sized Ontario manufacturers from its ‘Meet the Buyer’ event. In partnership with Summerhill and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the ‘Innovation for Sustainability’ initiative will bring home improvement products that reduce environmental impact to the retailer. The two-year project helps small businesses gain access to large-scale retail channels.

Green Marketing Needs Overhaul

Green branding expert Marc Stoiber says green marketing is dead and it is time to move on. The vice-president of green innovation at Maddock Douglas told the Canadian Responsible Investment Conference that despite two decades of solid effort, large numbers of consumers have not been willing to vote with their dollars when it comes to sustainable resource investing due to the lack of effective marketing. He’s says to re-invigorate the green message, companies must ditch clichés and use simple language, and focus on the superior returns of the product, not its “greenness.” He also recommends choosing clean, trendy images for marketing that communicate sophistication and innovation.

Paint Recycling Program Launched


RONA has launched an in-store paint recovery program in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to help consumers reduce their environmental impact. Customers can drop off cans of any brand of old or unused paint at any store location. The paint recovery and recycling program was introduced Quebec 14 years ago, followed by Ontario in 2008, and has saved more than 15 million kilograms of leftover paint and paint cans from ending up in landfills. The program does not include plastic paint, car paint, industrial paint, aluminum paint, road sign paint, granular dye, surface conditioners, varnish, solvents, tar, adhesives, or preservative.

Roxul Launches ‘Insulate & Win’ Contest

Roxul Inc. has launched an online contest to assist homeowners and contractors in selecting insulation products for their projects. Consumers can visit the ‘Insulate & Win’ contest pages at www.WinWithRoxul.com and learn about the company’s various projects and benefits. They can then enter to win the grand prize of the ultimate garage makeover or one of four secondary prizes.

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July 4, 2011

RONA Grows On East Coast

RONA has opened its latest retail store in St. John's, NL, the fourth major project completed by the retailer in Atlantic Canada. The new outlet is a relocation of an existing Chester Dawe operation. The 44,000 square foot location will have more than 30,000 products, a 46,000 square foot outdoor drive-through lumberyard, a 9,700 square foot garden centre, and a 23,500 square foot covered lumberyard.

Boston Retail Receives Recognition

Boston Retail Products, Inc. was recognized by Commercial Construction & Renovation in its list of ‘Industry's Leading Fixture Companies.’ The U.S.-based manufacturer produces retail fixtures, commercial displays and wall protection, and modular power systems. Following the recognition, the American Registry added the company to its ‘Registry of Business Excellence.’ 

Owens Corning Sets Environmental Goals

Owens Corning has outlined its environmental footprint reduction performance goals for 2020. Frank O’Brien-Bernini, vice-president and CEO, says it has met three of the seven goals and believes it will achieve six of the seven by 2012. The seventh goal, involving footprint reductions in volatile organic compounds, has generated a 14 per cent improvement since 2002. Key accomplishments in the report include a 24 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2009 levels, and the removal of 950,000 metric tons of CO2e from its operations in 2010.

Local Businesses Explore Social Media Marketing

A social media report from Roost shows local businesses are turning to social media in droves as an effective tool for growth. It says 71.4 per cent of small businesses polled reported social marketing as their most effective marketing channel. It also found 87.3 per cent believe social marketing is either ‘Somewhat Important’ or ‘Very Important’, with 84.1 per cent reporting they use Facebook the most.  However, 45 per cent reported ‘Not sure how to measure success’ as their biggest problem with the medium, with ‘I didn’t know what to post’ close behind at 38.5 per cent.

Roxul Expands U.S. Availability

Roxul Inc is expanding its product availability in the U.S. through a partnership with Lowe’s. The company’s 227 retail stores in 13 states will now carry Roxul insulation products which were previously only available through special order.

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June 30, 2011

Fewer Canadians Renovate

Fewer Canadians invested in renovations and they spent less on fixing up their homes in 2010 compared to 2009, says the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. It says nationally households spent almost $23 billion on renovations in 2010, down from $25.4 billion a year earlier. It declined to comment on whether the Home Renovation Tax Credit, which applied to spending during most of 2009, but was not continued past February 2010, contributed to the decline in 2010. Renovating households spent an average of $12,972 on renovations in 2010.

Housing Market Set To Burst

Canada's housing market is in a bubble that is set to burst, says Capital Economics. Its ‘Canada Economic Outlook’ warns prices could plunge by as much as 25 per cent over the next three years. It says housing valuations have lost all touch with fundamentals and household debt is at a record high. A domestic housing boom, coupled with high commodity prices worldwide, have spared the Canadian economy the severe recession felt by other developed countries. However, a burst housing bubble would shrink real estate investment and hurt consumption which would considerably slow economic growth.

Organizational Product Demand Booms

U.S. demand for home organization products will increase 3.6 per cent annually to $8.6 billion by 2015. Gains will be supported by the introduction of decorative and specialty home organization products as well as by the strong growth in larger, more expensive closet and garage systems, says the ‘Home Organization Products’ study from the Freedonia Group. Bins, baskets, and totes accounted for the largest share of sales in 2010, with 37 per cent of the total market. 

RONA Buys Out BC Owners

RONA has bought out the owners of four stores on Vancouver Island, BC. Duncan Pacific Building Supplies, owned by the McKinnon family and led by brothers Wayne and Grant, had been an affiliate member of the retailer since November 2005. Full ownership was given through its four stores ‒ Campbell River, Cobble Hill, Duncan, and South Nanaimo. Ray Cyr, formerly general manager of all four stores, has been hired by the retailer as part of the development team in British Columbia.

June 30 Product Spotlight

• RIDGID’s interchangeable tool runs off its 12V Lithium-Ion battery and is compatible with multiple heads in the JobMax System such as the impact driver, right angle 3/8″drill, 3/8″ ratchet, multi-tool head, auto-hammer head, and jigsaw head. The tool gives versatility, power, control, and efficiency all in one for multiple jobs.
• Task Tools line of sanding sponges are environmentally friendly and solvent-free. The sponges are flexible, resistant to grit loss and clogging and have a higher shelf life because they do not dry out as quickly. The line includes six firm sanding blocks and 11 flexible sanding pads to be used wet or dry.
• Empire Level Manufacturing Corporation has extended its range of True Blue squares with its model 122 Etched Stainless Try Square and model 132 Anodized Aluminum Engineered T-bevel. The square features a stainless steel etched blade that prevents rust and corrosion while improving the visibility of the graduations.  The 132 T-bevel features a knurled low-profile locking nut that allows for either left or right hand use. It has an adjustable 9″steel blade. 
• Shur-Line’s collection of deck staining products creates less mess and provides better coverage than with a brush or roller cover. The product line features Stain Pad with Groove Tool, a pad in that stains flat surfaces and in between boards at the same time and the Stain System, a trigger-controlled dispensing system. The works with many types of stain including transparent, semi-transparent, and solid stains as well as sealants.
• FrogTape brand painter’s tape with PaintBlock Technology allows users to achieve crisp, clean paint lines and eliminates the need for touch-ups. It has the ability to absorb and trap liquid, preventing bleeding under the tape, keeping paint lines neat and clean. The tape comes in a reusable plastic canister to protect edges from damage.
• The GE GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater gives homeowners complete control of how they heat household water, consuming up to 62 per cent less energy than a standard electric water heater. It has five customizable heating settings to maximize functionality without consuming excess energy.

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June 29, 2011

Social Media Wrong Area

Retailers who focus on getting their product and services messages out on Facebook and Twitter are probably spending time and effort in the wrong area, says KubasPrimedia's ‘Major Market Retail Report’ study. It found when consumers are researching a purchase online, 77 per cent ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ visit retailer websites and 71 per cent visit manufacturer websites to get information about upcoming purchases. Only 27 per cent use social media and just 23 per cent use blogs. Comparison shopping, such as pricing a specific item, is the most popular online retail-related activity with 76 per cent of consumers doing so ‘often’ or ‘sometimes.’ Comparison shopping activity is high across all demographic groups. "Given consumer behaviour, a company's website is still by far the top online priority for retailers," says Ed Strapagiel, executive vice-president of KubasPrimedia.

Home Hardware Fleet Safest

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been awarded the Safest Large Fleet Award at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s annual conference. This marks the fourth time that Home Hardware has received this honour, previously winning in 2005, 2008, and 2010. Its fleet of 132 power units and almost 500 trailers travel across Canada delivering product to more than 1,080 Home Hardware dealers, travelling approximately 17 million kilometres a year. The fleet is based in the company’s four distribution centres in St. Jacobs and Elmira, ON; Debert, NS; and Wetaskiwin, AB. The company was one of the first fleets to adopt a Carrier Safety Management System developed in conjunction with CSA. Technology, such as on-board recorders, monitors each driver’s safety and efficiency performance and drivers with high performance records receive bonuses.

Swedish Security Company Purchased

Stanley Black & Decker is buying Niscayah, a European electronic security and monitoring company. With estimated 2011 revenue of $1 billion, Niscayah is one of the world's leading commercial security and monitoring companies and one of the largest access control and surveillance solutions providers in Europe. Its integrated security solutions include video surveillance, intrusion alarms, and fire alarm systems. The acquisition would expand and complement Stanley Black & Decker's existing security product offerings and further diversify its operations and international presence. Niscayah does business across northern, central, and southern Europe and the Nordic region, as well as the U.S.

U.S. Consumers Less Confident

Following a string of bad economic news, consumer confidence fell to a seven-month low in June on continuing worries about high unemployment and stagnating wages, says the U.S. Conference Board's ‘Consumer Confidence Index.’ The index slipped to 58.5 in June from 61.7 in May, an almost six-point drop. "Given the combination of uneasiness about the economic outlook and future earnings, consumers are likely to continue weighing their spending decisions quite carefully," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer research centre. The index has lost momentum since it hovered between the high 50s and low 60s last year, and then climbed to a three-year high in February, reaching 72. June's results marked the lowest point since December 2010 when the index hit 57.8. In June 2009, the reading was 49.3. A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy.

Canadian Tire Adds Large Appliances

Canadian Tire stores across the country now offer Inglis refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, and cooking ranges as well as Amana freezers and microwaves. It introduced major appliances at 11 stores in British Columbia and Ontario last year. "The current expansion is a direct result of the positive feedback from customers who appreciated the diverse assortment at those stores," says T.J. Flood, vice-president, merchandising. Customers who purchase major home appliances also have the option of purchasing home delivery within 100 kilometres of all Canadian Tire stores across Canada; an optional 24-month extended warranty in addition to the one-year manufacturer's warranty; and washing machine hoses and replacement water filters.

Target Preparing Marketing Efforts In Canada

Target has hired MDC Partners to lead the development of its overall marketing efforts in Canada. The MDC team for the retailer, which is set to arrive in Canada in 2013, is led by kbs+p Canada and Veritas Communications, along with support from Northstar Research Partners and BOOM! Marketing.

Walmart Launches Home Décor Collection

The Walmart Hometrends line of products is now available in Canada. The collection includes decorative accessories and functional storage items for the bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and dining room. Items range from duvet covers and throw pillows to shower curtains and storage units.

Strahler Joins DELTA

Mark Strahler is director of new product development at DELTA Power Equipment Corporation. Strahler was previously vice-president of sales and marketing at the manufacturing company from 1977 to 2000 before moving to Orion International and Sears Brand Management Co.

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June 28, 2011

Leaseholds Transferred To Walmart

Target Canada will transfer the rights for leasehold interests in up to 39 sites to Walmart Canada. The sites, which are currently operated by Zellers Inc., will be identified this fall and are among up the 220 sites acquired as part of a transaction announced in January. In May, the company selected its initial 105 sites which will become retail stores opening in 2013.

Stronger Sales For Taiga

Sales for Taiga Building Products Ltd. were up 2.6 per cent to $955.6 million for the fiscal year ending March 2011. Stronger sales in the first quarter as a result of higher lumber and OSB prices aided in the increase. Net earnings were $4.6 million compared to $12 million last year.

Mobile Payment Solution Arrives

NetSecure Technologies has launched a service which allows small Canadian business owners to accept credit card payments on-the-spot via swipe terminals compatible with desktops, laptops, and smartphones. ‘Kudos’ allows businesses that typically cannot afford payment-processing services to accept credit and debit payments. Equipped with a swipe terminal, POS software, and a merchant account, users can begin accepting credit card payments through their smartphones or laptops for a flat rate of 2.9 per cent per transaction, with no monthly or ongoing fees. It is available at www.KudosPayments.com

EPA Regulations Unwelcome

Contractors and homeowners do not welcome the significant increase in the cost of remodeling projects due to current U.S. federal regulation. In a National Association of the Remodeling Industry survey, many indicated the additional cost of the EPA’s lead renovation, repair, and painting rule deters homeowner use of lead-safe certified contractors, especially those who do not have small children in their homes. The new regulation will add “lead clearance testing” to renovations in homes built prior to 1978.

Owens Corning Teams Up With Developer

Owens Corning’s EcoTouch Pink Fiberglas insulation will be used in all Reid’s Heritage Homes across southwestern Ontario. It is anticipated that 300 homes will be fitted with the formaldehyde-free, 70 per cent recycled, and Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified insulation in 2011. The company is a global producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass-fibre reinforcements, and engineered materials for composite systems.

Consumer Spending Stalls

For the first time in a year, consumer spending in the U.S. failed to budge, evidence that high gas prices and unemployment are squeezing household budgets. When adjusted for inflation, spending dropped 0.1 per cent last month from April, the Commerce Department reported. It marked the first decline in inflation-adjusted spending since April 2009. Consumer spending is important because it accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity.

Toro Acquires Lawn Solutions

Toro Co. has acquired Lawn Solutions Commercial Products Inc., which makes lawn care equipment for the landscape, rental, municipal, and golf markets. The deal gives Toro key product categories of seeders, power rakes, and brush cutters.

Sears Appoints Executive

Scott Silver is executive vice-president, merchandising, home and hardlines, at Sears Canada. He will be responsible for the style and trend direction and overall merchandising activities for furniture, major appliances, home electronics, housewares, home décor, bed and bath, fitness, hardware, and lawn and garden equipment. He was most recently CEO of Silver Lining Holdings.

DELTA Adds Canadian Reps

DELTA Power Equipment Corporation has added two independent sales representatives and four independent sales organizations in Canada to provide distributors with sales and service support. Sam Purdy, based in Cambridge, ON, will oversee the independent representatives and organizations in Canada and will be responsible for the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Bob Weber, based in Burlington, ON, will be responsible for the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Peninsula, and eastern and northern Ontario. BD&M Marketing, based in Lac du Bonnet, MB, and led by Larry Domes, will cover Manitoba West including Thunder Bay. Tizzard Marketing & Management Inc., based in Caledon Village, ON. and led by John Tizzard, will cover southwestern Ontario. Agences Roger Boutin Inc., based in St. Bruno, QC, and led by Francois Boutin, will cover the province of Quebec. F.H. Flinn Ltd., based in Halifax, NS, and led by Denis Flinn, will cover the Atlantic provinces.

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June 27, 2011

Target Injunction Bid Fails

A federal court has dismissed Target’s bid for an injunction to prevent a Canadian competitor from using the Target name. Target and women's clothing retailer Fairweather Ltd. sued each other for trademark infringement and each had sought an injunction to prevent the other from using the Target name in Canada. They also failed to reach a settlement of the lawsuits through mediation in the federal court. The court ruled that Target had not proven it would suffer irreparable harm over the alleged trademark infringement and dismissed Target's request for an injunction. Fairweather has a 15-store division called ‘Target Apparel’ it has operated in Toronto, ON, for six years. It has owned the Canadian rights to the Target name since acquiring assets from the now-defunct Dylex Ltd. in 2001. Dylex had registered the Target name in Canada in 1981. The issue is scheduled to go to trial, likely in November 2012. Depending on the outcome of the trial, the U.S. chain may have to choose between using a different name in Canada or buying the Canadian rights.

Orchard Supply Goes Public

Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp. – owned by Sears Holdings Corp. ‒ will become a separate, publicly traded company. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it believes the chain, which runs 89 stores in California, will generate more value for shareholders as a standalone company. Shareholders will own 80 per cent of the chain and the remaining 20 per cent will be held by Ares Management LLC ESL Investments. The chain recorded a net income of $8.7 million in fiscal 2010.

Allied Makes Acquisition

Allied Building Products Corp. has acquired Astro Building Supplies, a privately held wholesale building materials supplier based in Taylor, MI. The merger will provide Allied with a roofing, siding, and window remodeling presence in southeast Detroit, MI. Allied Building Products, a division of Oldcastle, Inc., operates in more than 180 U.S. locations coast to coast. Oldcastle, Inc. is the North American arm of CRH, plc, a global building products and materials companies in more than 1,900 locations in 50 states and four Canadian provinces.

Rubbermaid Appoints CEO

Michael Polk is chief executive officer at Newell Rubbermaid Inc. He was previously president of global goods, home, and personal care at Unilever. The appointment is effective July 18 as he succeeds Mark Ketchum who will be retiring.

New Team Members At PrimeSource

PrimeSource has announced a number of new team members to its Canada division: They are George Hendry – director of national accounts; Saju Mathew – general manager, Ontario; Sylvain Lefebvre – general manager, Quebec; Patti Adams – general manager, Atlantic; Paul Dahmer – general manager, Manitoba and Saskatchewan; Danny Strachan – general manager, Alberta; and Lloyd Advincula – general manager, British Columbia.

Ace Elects Board

Ace Hardware retailers Jim Ackroyd and Gina Schaefer and financial executive Jeffrey Girard were re-elected to Ace Hardware Corporation’s board of directors. Retailer David Karsten was elected to his first term. Ackroyd, Girard, Schaefer, and Karsten each will serve three-year terms on the 10-person board which sets strategic policy and direction for the company’s management.

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June 24, 2011

Roxul Honoured As Supplier

Roxul Inc. was recognized as the ‘Outstanding Supplier in the Building Materials’ category at the Independent Retail Lumber Yard (IRLY) Building Centres annual general meeting. The insulation company was honoured for its customer experience and service, as well as in the areas of shipment, pricing, and growth.

Lennar Earnings Down 65 Per Cent

Lennar’s second quarter earnings dropped 65 per cent to $13.8 million for the three months ending in May ‒ a time traditionally known as spring home-selling season. That compares with last year’s second quarter earnings of $39.7 million.

Lowe’s Appoints Merchandise Manager

Mario Policicchio is merchandise manager – paint, storage and cleaning at Lowe’s Canada. He joins the company from Premier Ceramics where he was director of sales and marketing.

Emmell Sales Manager 

Robert (Bob) Emmell is North American HVAC sales manager at Wolf Steel Ltd. He will be planning and implementing the sales and marketing programs for the company using his 17 years of sales and management experience.

Sears Canada Appoints CEO

Calvin McDonald is president and CEO of Sears Canada Inc. Most recently, he served as executive vice-president, conventional division, of Loblaw Companies Ltd.

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June 23, 2011

Composite Index Increase Highest This Year

The composite leading index rose 1.0 per cent in May after a 0.9 per cent increase in April, says Statistics Canada. May increases equaled the largest advance this year and the manufacturing sector showed the largest improvement from the previous month. Indicators related to household spending remained mixed as the housing index continued to decline, down 0.6 per cent, as a dip in house sales outweighed a rebound in housing starts. Furniture and appliance sales recorded their largest gain in over a year, while spending on other durable goods rebounded 0.2 per cent after a drop the month before.

Buying Market Dates Announced

TruServ Canada will hold its ‘Fall National Buying Market’ October 1 to 3 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre in Winnipeg, MB. More than 400 major manufacturers will showcase seasonal products from lawn and garden to barbeques, patio sets, and more. The market will begin with best practice seminars, opening of the Variety Product showcase, and the Customer & Partner Welcome Event. More information is available at www.truserv.ca

Canada Phasing Out Paper-Cotton Bills

Canadians will be walking around with a little more plastic in their pockets starting in November. New polymer bank notes will start to replace paper-cotton bills as more durable and harder to counterfeit bills. The first bills to go plastic will be the $100 notes, followed by $50 notes next March. The rest of the plastic money will be in circulation by the end of 2013. Bank of Canada officials say they’re confident the new notes won’t melt in the dryer or harden in the winter.

WRLA Award Nominations Open

Nominations for the WRLA Industry Achievement Award are now open. Nominations are now being accepted for active individuals who have faced challenges and recognized opportunities and who have received the respect of fellow members through their contributions to the industry and the community. Nomination deadline is September 9. For more information, visit http://www.naylornetwork.com

IRLY Holds Member Buying Show  

The Independent Retail Lumber Yards (IRLY) held a buying show for members in Whistler, BC, earlier this month. The show was held in conjunction with its annual general meeting and hosted dealers from the 42 independent stores in the province. The event included dealer meetings, a gala dinner, and activities.

Canadians Fail To Embrace Green Economy

Canadians need to challenge their basic economic assumptions if they are to successfully build a green economy. Two reports, ‘Building Bridges: The Environment and the Economy,’identify that Canadians have failed to embrace global opportunities for a green economy because of the strong belief that natural resources are plentiful and cheap. The reports highlight the need to engage citizens in an informed debate on the steps to generate wealth in a green economy. The reports say the philanthropic community has a critical role to play in building up the knowledge base, institutions, and capacity that Canada will need to get to a green economy. At the top of the recommendations is a call for a national multi-stakeholder dialogue to jumpstart a federal strategy.

eLearning Tool For Retail Employees Released

The Epicor Training on Demand system is now available from Epicor Software Corp. It offers job-specific online video training courses. The modules take less than 10 minutes to complete and provide training tailored to the needs of retail employees of all skill, experience levels, and learning abilities. These modules are mapped into a defined curriculum for more than a dozen job functions within a retail outlet to assist with customer service and overall business performance.

June 23 Product Spotlight

• Black & Decker’s 20V Max drill/driver features lithium power, compact size, and ergonomic features. Its ‘Smart Charge Technology’ can hold a charge up to 500 days between projects.
• Moen Canada’s Weymouth bath collection features a flow-optimized 5.7 litres per minute  aerator, offering up to a 32 per cent water savings. Products include details such as porcelain inlays with decorative ‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’ script in English or French on the handles and a generously sized spout with distinctive curves. Homeowners can choose from a variety of design options including two-handle widespread or wall mount lavatory faucets with either cross or lever handles, or a single-handle faucet with a lever handle uniquely positioned on the side of the faucet.
• Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation’s M12 Realtree AP Heated Jacket is water and wind resistant, actively warms the body, and stimulates blood circulation for outdoorsmen. A special fabric blend reduces noise during movement and the product is compatible with the entire line of M12 professional power tools so users can utilize the same battery for their tools and jacket.
• EasyHeat has upgraded its entire line of floor warming thermostats to include built-in Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter safety (GFCI) that are easy to install. GFCI protection minimizes the risk of electrical shock and short outs and it is required by the NEC (US National Electric Code) for floor warming systems installed in bathrooms. They are available in 120V and 240V in programmable or non-programmable designs.

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June 22, 2011

Building Materials Decline

Retail sales increased 0.3 per cent to $37.4 billion in April, with gains reported in six of 11 subsectors, says Statistics Canada. Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores rose 3.2 per cent, more than offsetting the decline in March. Furniture stores accounted for most of the gain, rising 3.9 per cent. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers registered the largest decline in April, falling 2.8 per cent.

Crate & Barrel Arrives In Edmonton

Home furnishings retailer Crate and Barrel will open its first Edmonton, AB, store in October. The 24,430-square-feet store will employ about 40 people and become the fourth Canadian store for the U.S. retailer. There are plans to open eight or nine Crate and Barrel and sister brand CB2 over the next two years in Canada, including first-time stores in British Columbia and Quebec.

Hardwoods Unit Sold

Weyerhaeuser will sell its worldwide hardwoods and industrial products business unit to private equity firm American Industrial Partners. The future business will operate as Northwest Hardwoods, Inc., headquartered in Tacoma, WA, with operations in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, and Hong Kong. Revenues for the hardwood lumber products alone, according to the 2010 annual report, were $223 million, an 8.2 per cent increase over sales of $206 million in 2009. The transaction is expected to close in August.

Home Depot Wants Multichannel Shoppers

Home Depot aims to build on its online sales by embarking on a $1.1 billion improvement program. The retailer expects the investments in technology to help deliver four to seven per cent of its overall sales through the online channel. Presently, Internet retail sales comprise 0.8 per cent of its revenues. The ‘order online and pick up in store’ service will complement the in-store customer experience.

Power Tool Demand To Exceed $27 Billion

World power tool demand is projected to rise 4.4 per cent per year through 2015, reaching $27.3 billion.  Trends presented in the ‘World Power Tools’ study from The Freedonia Group Inc. say growth will be most rapid in the developing countries of Asia, where rising incomes and advances in residential and non-residential building construction activity will bolster demand. The U.S. market will also provide solid growth opportunities, reflecting a turnaround in the current housing crisis, as well as continued enthusiasm for do-it-yourself projects by U.S. consumers. Electric tools (plug-in and cordless) dominate world demand, representing more than 70 per cent of power tool sales in 2010.  

Hanwha Launches Online Ordering

Hanwha L&C Surfaces has launched an online ordering system to serve architects, designers, distributors, and consumers of its solid surfaces products. Product samples can now be ordered online from www.hanwhasurfaces.com by selecting one of the 50 colour swatches and adding the sample product to the shopping cart. Professionals can also call the customer service centre at 877-811-9323 to receive product samples.

Market Showcases Outdoor Living

The International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market ‒ taking place September 12 to 15 in Chicago, IL ‒ will feature the Garden Accessories Courtyard, a 10,000-square-foot area for exhibitors to showcase outdoor accessories. Buyers can find more than two dozen exhibitors featuring decorative accessories, outdoor lighting, hearth products, tabletop, rugs, pottery, and statuary, as well as the latest trends in design, colour, and patterns. For a complete listing of all exhibitors, visit www.casualmarket.com

Duo Increase Residential Energy Efficiency 

CertainTeed Corporation and the Residential Energy Services Network are joining forces to help increase residential energy efficiency. This partnership provides the opportunity for auditors and contractors to collaborate, exchange resources, and enhance their expertise in recommending and implementing energy efficiency retrofits. The companies will help to connect qualified insulation contractors and certified energy auditors at a local level to share knowledge and best practices when inspecting and testing a home, and recommend cost-effective improvements to increase its energy efficiency. For more information, visit www.certainteed.com or www.resnet.us

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June 21, 2011

Wal-Mart Lawsuit Stalled

A sex-discrimination class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot move forward, says the U.S. Supreme Court. In its decision for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Betty Dukes et al., the court found that within the class ‒ which could have included more than one million women workers ‒ there was an absence of “glue holding together the alleged reasons” for millions of employment decisions. As well, the court said there wasn’t “significant proof” that the company “operated under a general policy of discrimination.” The plaintiffs claimed that Wal-Mart managers favoured men when it came to pay and promotions.

Demand For Landscaping Products To Approach $6 Billion

The demand for decorative products and hardscapes will increase the landscaping market 7.6 per cent per year to $5.9 billion in 2015. The ‘Landscaping Products’ study by The Freedonia Group Inc says interest in features such as ponds and fountains made up the largest segment (44 per cent) of the market in 2010. Hardscapes, such as concrete products, are set to experience the fastest growth through 2015 as consumers value outdoor living spaces. Among markets, residential sales account for the largest share of landscaping products with 55 per cent in 2010. 

Ontario Company Among Most Innovative

EnviroBond, makers of EnviroSAND and EnviroSTONE, has been selected by the Home Depot as one of the most innovative product manufacturers in Ontario. Through the Innovation for Sustainability program offered by the retailer and supported by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Trade and Development, the company was one of 60 short-listed companies invited to a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event.  Company representatives were given 15 minutes to pitch their products and 13 companies were eventually chosen to be featured in select locations of The Home Depot in Ontario. 

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June 20, 2011

Housing Starts Up

U.S. housing starts in May increased 3.5 per cent from the upwardly revised April figure to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000. Single-family starts increased 3.7 per cent to a rate of 419,000. While the month-to-month gains are a welcome sign for the industry, year-over-year statistics are negative. Total starts were down 3.4 per cent and single-family starts were down 8.9 per cent. The May numbers were slightly higher than those of 2009, the slowest year of housing starts on record.

Settlement For Tainted Drywall Customers

Florida homeowners who were affected by tainted drywall may soon receive part of a $55 million settlement. The insurers of Banner Supply Co. and its various subsidiaries have agreed on the preliminary settlement for the plaintiffs who claim their homes were built with contaminated Chinese drywall. According to the plaintiffs' counsel, it is estimated that 60,000 to 100,000 homes were built using defective Chinese drywall from a number of suppliers between 2004 and 2008 throughout the U.S. The defective drywall has been associated with potentially harmful odours and fumes that corrode metals, including air conditioning units, fixtures, and other appliances. The proposed settlement must receive approval from a U.S. District Court before it can be considered final.

Economic Indicators Rise In May

The U.S. economy is rebounding from its spring slump and should grow modestly through the fall, according to the Conference Board’s index. Leading economic indicators rose 0.8 per cent last month, an improvement from April when the index dropped 0.4 per cent, the first decline since June 2010. Eight of the 10 measures the Conference Board uses to calculate the index increased, compared to only four in April. The brighter reading suggests the economy will regain some of the momentum it lost this spring when high gas prices cut into consumer spending and businesses pulled back on hiring.

Dates Set For Fall Home Show

The 23rd Fall Home Show will take place September 22 to September 25 at the Better Living Centre in Toronto, ON. This year’s event will feature more than 300 renovation and décor specialists offering advice, solutions, and inspiration for a wide array of home improvement projects. For more information, visit www.fallhomeshow.com

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June 17, 2011

Canadian Tire Deal Extended

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited and the Forzani Group Ltd. have extended the timeframe to receive regulatory approval for their merger. Both filed pre-merger notifications with the Competition Bureau and were informed that it requires additional information in order to complete its review of the proposed transaction. Under the Competition Act, the period during which the parties may not complete the transaction has been extended until 30 days after providing the Competition Bureau with the additional information it has requested. Canadian Tire has until August 18 to acquire Class ‘A’ shares of Forzani.

Sears Earns Sustainability Award

Sears Canada Inc. won a Retail Sustainability Award at the Retail Council of Canada’s ‘Excellence in Retailing Awards.’ It received the award for its ‘Live Green at Sears: Reducing Our Footprint … Helping Canadians Reduce Theirs’program that aims to reduce the company's environmental footprint and help customers do the same. Its sustainability initiatives include one of the largest replacements of inefficient lighting ever undertaken, recognition of its national logistics centre, in Calgary, AB, as an ISO 14001 facility as well as discontinuing the sale of incandescent bulbs in their stores. In 2008, it committed to a 20 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint by 2013 and is on pace to beat that target as it has already reduced its footprint by more than 15 per cent.

VOC Colorants Removed From Paint

All colorant used in all Beauti-Tone, Designer’s Series Paints, and Natura paint will no longer contain VOCs. Beauti-Tone’s no VOC colorants have been tested in a number of Home Hardware stores, using measures including colour accuracy, freeze/thaw tolerance, coverage, performance, and consumer satisfaction. No VOC colorants began being phased in across the country this month and will be utilized in all Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, and Home Hardware Building Centre stores by the end of summer.

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June 16, 2011

Target Doubles Expansion Budget

Target Corporation has doubled its allocated budget for its expansion into Canada. It will spend up to $2.3 billion to convert Zellers stores and integrate them into its retail network. In January, Target purchased the leasehold interests in as many as 220 sites currently operated by Zellers Inc. The company previously planned to spend about $1 billion to convert Zellers locations into Target stores. It plans to renovate sites, establish supply chain capabilities, and build information-technology infrastructure. It will open the majority of its planned 100 to 150 Canadian stores in 2013.

Financial Services Behind Profit

The Brick Ltd. had first-quarter net profit of $1.1 million, reversing a year-earlier loss of $113.3 million, on continued strong earnings from its financial services division. Consolidated sales at corporate and franchise stores in the first quarter were down 3.5 per cent to $332.1 million, while same-store sales were down 5.3 per cent. The Brick's retail segment reported a loss of $3.4 million during the period. Earnings at the financial services division were $4.5 million.

First Retail Sales Decline Of The Year

Sales among U.S. retailers fell 0.2 per cent last month, the first decline in nearly a year. The Commerce Department said the drop was due to the 2.9 per cent drop in auto sales in May ‒ the largest decline since February 2010. The slump in retail sales was the latest signal that the economy has lost momentum as consumers are struggling to deal with high gasoline prices and a slowdown in hiring.

Home Remodeling Consistently Growing

U.S. consumers are continuing to invest in remodeling, even while the economy struggles, says the BuildFax ‘Remodeling Index for April.’ Renovations were up 10 per cent compared to April 2004, the first month tracked by the index. This marked the 18th straight month of year-over-year gains for residential remodeling activity. All regions indicated gains except for the Midwest, which posted a year-over-year loss of 19 per cent.

Retail Losses Cost Big Bucks

From shoplifting and fraud to employee theft and organized crime, total losses cost retailers $37.1 billion last year, up from $33.5 billion in 2009. The National Retail Federation says retail shrinkage rose to 1.58 per cent from 1.44 per cent in 2009. A majority of the cost was due to employee theft ($16.2 billion), followed by shoplifting ($12.1 billion), administrative error ($4.8 billion), and vendor fraud ($2 billion).

Hydroponics Franchise Sets Up Shop

Nicknamed the “Walmart of weed,” weGrow has opened its first American franchises. The retailer is described as the only hydroponics franchise to openly talk about medical marijuana. It does not actually sell any marijuana, just supplies to grow it. It also offers services such as education, live grow demonstrations, an on-site doctor for medical cannabis evaluations, expert technicians to teach safe and responsible grow practices, and an on-site laboratory to test cannabis before patient consumption.

Technical Fabrics Now ADFORS

Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics has changed its company name to Saint-Gobain ADFORS. Recognizing the need for a strong brand name in the market, the company set out to develop a name that would reinforce its position in the industrial and construction markets as a manufacturer of reinforcement fabrics. The new identity was revealed at the 2011 Techtextil trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany, and the SAMPE show in Long Beach, CA.

Housing Activity Sees Increase

National resale housing activity held steady from April to May, says the Canadian Real Estate Association. Actual activity came in 2.7 per cent above levels reported last May. This was the first year-over-year increase in more than a year, reflecting falling sales activity in May 2010. A total of 196,749 homes have traded hands via Canadian MLS Systems so far this year, in line with the 10-year average for year-to-date activity in May.

June 16 Product Spotlight

• Moen Home Care Grab Bars with Integrated Accessories combine the safety benefits of a grab bar into three common bath essential products – a towel bar, a paper holder, and a shelf – making the bath functional. Each offers a 113-kilogram weight capacity and is available in a Brushed Nickel finish. 
• Saniflo Canada’s SANIVITE is a small and versatile grey water pump. It is a quiet solution for basements, attics, upper floors, ground floors, and garages. The unit also has the ability to handle hot water and can pump away waste water from a variety of sources including dishwashers, showers, laundry sinks, and washing machines.
• Grace Construction’s Bondera TileMatSet is a pressure-sensitive tile adhesive, eliminating the need for mortar and mastic. It is ideal for tile projects in homes and commercial spaces including kitchen backsplashes, countertops, shower, and tub surrounds.
• The Blanco Culina faucet has a semi-professional style with a tall arching flexible coiled spout for easy manipulation and reach in the sink. Among its breakthrough features are its unique closed coil design and a practical magnetic attachment for the hand-spray. The magnetic feature allows for quick release and attachment of the hand spray.

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June 15, 2011

Economic Uncertainty Softens Retail Sectors

Americans continue to have economic uncertainty, says the Consumer Reports Index for June. Nearly one-third of Americans (31.9 per cent) faced one or more financial difficulties, up from the prior month (27.2 per cent). Waning consumer sentiment, a worsening employment picture, and an increase in financial difficulties have led to a softer consumer retail picture. The report listed the 30-Day Retail Index at 12.0, unchanged since April. However, June looks like it may be a promising month for several retail sectors as planned purchasing of personal electronics is 20 per cent, up from 14.1 per cent a month earlier, and major home electronics stands at 11.2 per cent, up from 9.6 per cent the prior month.

Interior Decorating Show Launching In October

The International Home Show will be adding the Interior Decorating Show to its fall roster. The event will open to industry professionals October 27 and to the public October 28 to 30 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. The program will feature industry presenters, more than 100 exhibits, and networking events. For more details, visit www.idrcanada.org

National Contest Begins For Small Businesses

Small Canadian businesses have the chance to win a branding and communications package valued at $30,000 in the BIBit national contest. Open to businesses less than five years in operation from the fashion, lifestyle, and beauty industries, the prize includes a six-month public relations management contract including a media event, branding consultation, 90-second HD video, and a fully customized website and website strategy. The contest launches today at www.bibit.ca and will end July 16. The winning business will be announced August 2.

Book Inspires Exterior Home Design

CertainTeed Corporation has released an idea book to jump-start creative home exterior design. The 52-page book, entitled ‘LivingSpaces Idea Book,’ offers homeowners a variety of examples and products to improve the look of their outdoor living spaces. It includes ideas on porches, decks, and open-air rooms in a variety of colours, textures, and products.

Google Invests In Clean Energy

Google is investing $280 million to help private homeowners in the U.S. put solar panels on their rooftops. The investment will allow installer SolarCity to offer solar systems for no installation charge. A typical system would cost $25,000 to $30,000, but with this initiative the homeowner would only be responsible for paying a set rate for the power generated. This will be the company’s seventh and largest green energy investment, bringing the total to more than $680 million.

Non-Core Tasks Plague Entrepreneurs

Canadian small businesses admit to spending a big part of their day on menial tasks such as office administration, cleaning, and repairs to maintain the status quo, says the quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor. It says entrepreneurs recognize planning, hiring, and marketing as key business functions, but are caught between the two focuses. More than half (59 per cent) of respondents say their business would be in a much better position if they could spend more time doing what they're good at and 48 per cent report they can't concentrate on growing their business because they are spending too much time running it. Nevertheless, they are reluctant to outsource for a number of reasons including a desire to maintain quality (38 per cent), issues of managing contractors (24 per cent), and the expenses involved (24 per cent).

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June 14, 2011

National Home Show, Canada Blooms Co-Locate

Organizers of The National Home Show and Canada Blooms: The Flower and Garden Festival have signed an agreement that will see the two events take place together next year at the Direct Energy Centre. The co-location will create the largest home and garden experience in North America, and tickets purchased will allow attendees to visit both events from March 16 to 25, 2012, in Toronto, ON.

Hanwha Surfaces Addresses Market Needs

Hanwha L&C Surfaces has formed a group of North American distributors to act as a ‘Marketing Advisory Team’ to discuss marketplace initiatives and ideas. Distributors participating this year included BPI, LEEZA Distribution, Mont Krest Stone, and Stalwart Systems. The global manufacturer of quartz and solid surfaces will utilize the advisory group to review marketplace conditions and opportunities, current and proposed marketing initiatives, trends, feedback on new colours, and next steps to increase marketing and sales support for its solid surfaces brands.

Digital Markets Bring Foreign Customers To SMEs

Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises are hesitant to sell online because they lack the knowledge of how to do so effectively, says a Conference Board of Canada report, ‘Building International Sales in a Digitized Economy: Best Practices for SMEs.’ Digital markets can increase access to foreign customers and improve the quality, speed, and cost-effectiveness of transactions. However, a 2010 Statistics Canada study found only seven per cent of small and 13 per cent of medium size enterprises were selling online in 2007, about the same percentage reported in 2001.The report identifies three main factors that contribute to success in international digital markets ‒ a favourable online reputation, strong online technological capabilities, and an engaged online brand community. It also reports the three major challenges for SMEs ‒ the need to be cautious about relying exclusively on online contact with customers, entering foreign markets haphazardly, and the need to think about how ‘Canadian’ they want their image or brand to be.

Strong Canadian Dollar Limits Bestar Growth

Bestar sales fell 10.5 per cent in the first quarter due to a drop in shipments to retailers in the United States and an unsuccessful retail promotion. Sales for the ready-to-assemble and home office furniture company were $9.1 million, compared with $10.1 million for the same period of 2010. The company noted that furniture sales in the U.S. fell seven per cent in the first quarter, with 75 per cent of the decline attributed directly to the impact of a stronger Canadian dollar. 

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June 13, 2011

Sales Increase At HD Supply

HD Supply, Inc. had net sales for its 2011 first quarter of $1.88 billion, an increase of 4.4 per cent compared to $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Net income for the first quarter, which ended May 1, 2011, was $164 million, compared to $202 million for the same quarter a year ago. CEO Joe DeAngelo says growth was driven by a focus on customer service and sales initiatives. The company experienced some improvement in its industrial and non-residential markets, but expects residential construction to remain challenging.

Mobile Shopping For GE Appliances

GE Appliances is responding to the needs of a growing market segment by launching a Spanish-language mobile site. Consumers will be able to browse for appliance information, rebates, and promotions, as well as locate stores in their area on their cell phones. Usage of both cell phones and smart phones among the Hispanic population has gone up 26 per cent since 2005, eight per cent more than the general population, says analysis by Scarborough Research. Over the past year the company says it has seen a 75 per cent increase in traffic to the Spanish-language version of its regular consumer website. The English-language version of the mobile site launched in November 2010.

ACE Launches Paint + Primer In One

Ace Paint is launching its first-ever paint and primer in one. The division of the Ace Hardware Corporation will release a line of 100 per cent acrylic, low-VOC paint it will call Clark + Kensington to commemorate Ace’s first retail location on Chicago’s Clark Street. The line eliminates the need to prime surfaces and paint separately. Shades include matte flat, flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss enamel finishes.

Rust-Oleum Acquires Multicolor Assets

Rust-Oleum Corp. has acquired certain assets of Multicolor Specialties Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of specialty coatings. With annual sales of approximately $5 million, Multicolor is a maker of multi-colored coatings for architectural and small-project applications. Its architectural products are sold primarily through paint stores, while the small-project paints are distributed through do-it-yourself retail outlets. Rust-Oleum, a subsidiary of RPM International Inc., offers paints, primers, specialty coatings, and wood care products sold under the Rust-Oleum, Stops Rust, Painter's Touch, American Accents, EPOXYSHIELD, Varathane, Zinsser, Wolman Wood Care Products, Modern Masters, and Watco brands.

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June 10, 2011

Apple Top Canadian Retailer

Apple is outperforming Canadian retailers, says KubasPrimedia's 2011 major market retail report. It was the highest rated retailer in measuring things such as customer service, merchandise quality, store layout, and decor. Consumers however, weren't all that impressed with the high price tags at Apple. The store tied for last place in terms of value for money. Quebec's La Maison Simons, Jean Coutu, and Holt Renfrew also made the top five along with U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's. Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Shoppers Drug Mart enjoyed the highest volume of shoppers.

Walmart Gets Excellence Award

Walmart Canada was awarded the ‘Retail Council of Large Chain In-Store Retail Merchandising Award’ at the ‘Excellence in Retailing Awards.’ The company received the award for its 'Fashion by George: Walmart Apparel's Extreme Makeover' project. The project involved retrofitting more than 300 stores across the country to give shoppers an exclusive ‘store-within-a-store’ experience and retiring a number of Walmart Canada private label brands.

Lowe’s Now In Edmonton

Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse is opening its first Edmonton, AB, store. It's the fourth Lowe's in Alberta; three are in Calgary. Other stores will open in Regina, SK, and New Westminster, BC, for a total of six in Western Canada this fiscal year. There are now 25 Lowe's in Canada after entering the market from its U.S. base about four years ago.

Real Estate Losing Steam

Real estate markets in most of the developed world are losing steam and, in some cases, starting to revert into negative territory, says the Bank of Nova Scotia. "Increasing nervousness over global economic prospects alongside rising food and fuel prices and persistently high unemployment are keeping potential buyers on the sidelines," says a bank research report. Booming real estate markets have helped many of the world's most influential economies grow since the recession ended. But now the slow process of trimming debt levels because of rising interest rates will take the fire out of red-hot real estate markets across the globe. Canada is no exception to the trend. Though it has retreated from its highs of 2005 through 2007, it is still supported by steady job creation and still attractive borrowing costs. But a tightening of mortgage rules, coupled by higher interest rates expected to come, are keeping first time buyers out of the market now.

Commodity Prices Help Economic Growth

Canada's economy will grow by 3.2 per cent this year, helped by high commodity prices and a continued recovery in the United States, says RBC Economics. It expects gross domestic product will grow at a respectable 3.1 per cent pace in 2012. Although consumers were the mainstay of growth coming out of recession, the key driver will switch from households ‒ as consumer spending slows and household debt levels rise ‒ to business-driven growth as corporate investments pick up, the report said. It projects that lingering global economic crises ‒ such as European debt and tensions in North Africa and the Middle East that are driving oil prices higher, and disappointing U.S. economic indicators ‒ will begin to fade in coming months.

Hackers Hit Citibank

Hackers have stolen information from thousands of Citibank customers in the U.S. The violation, which took place last month, exposed customer names, account numbers, and other contact information. But key data such as date of birth and security codes map not have been compromised, says the bank. About 200,000 customers were affected, although the bank had previously said it could affect up to one per cent of its 21 million users.

Verschuren Chairs Leadership Conference

Annette M. Verschuren, formerly president of The Home Depot Canada and Asia, has been appointed chair of the board of directors of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference. She oversaw the growth of Home Depot’s Canadian operations from 19 to 180 stores between 1996 and 2011. She also led its entry into China. The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference brings together 230 of Canada’s brightest young leaders from business, labour, public administration, and the community sector for an intensive two-week program that touches every part of Canada.

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June 9, 2011

Budget Good News For Housing

The Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s federal budget will create the conditions needed to meet economic and fiscal challenges. Vince Laberge, CHBA president, says it will create the right conditions to renew private sector demand and job creation that are essential to a stable housing market. He applauded the government's decision to renew the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes Program. The program is complemented by the government's on-going support for the R-2000 initiative, the EnerGuide Rating System, and ENERGY STAR for New Homes, all of which contribute significantly to the overall environmental performance of Canadian homes.

Multiple Units Drive Housing

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 183,600, up from 178,700 in April, says a report by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Multiple unit buildings have outpaced single unit starts by an average of about 30,000 units over the past year as the preference appears to be toward smaller, more affordable units, especially in the expensive B.C. and Ontario markets. The increase in new urban condos came even as some economists have been warning about an overbuilt condominium sector in cities like Toronto and Vancouver that could cause a glut of supply on the market, exacerbating the impact of any downturn. The housing market has already showed signs of slowing, but home prices remain sky-high, reaching a national average of $372,544 in April.

Italian Appliances Arrive In The U.S. 

Fulgor Milano has opened its first U.S. showroom in the Washington, DC, area. The 1,500 square-foot store will showcase the company’s line of modern Italian kitchen appliances including cooktops and ovens. Live kitchen and cooking demonstrations will be hosted at the showroom in the future. 

New Venue For Expo 2011

Landscape Ontario’s Expo 2011 will be held October 19 and 20 in the North Building of the Toronto Congress Centre in Toronto, ON. The floral and garden industry event will have a larger venue this year to accommodate more than 3,000 retail horticultural professionals and mass merchants who attend. Promotional tools – advertising, sponsorships, and online invitations – are available to vendors to help them invite their customers and potential customers to the show. Additional information can be found at www.loexpo.ca

EPA Warns About Foam Usage

The Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concerns about chemicals found in spray polyurethane foam, typically used as a spray insulator, and is looking for a possible ban or restriction on consumer products. Many do-it-yourself and energy-conscious homeowners may be unknowingly exposed to risks from these chemicals if they do not wear the proper protection, such as solvent-resistant gloves and hooded ventilators, and abide by set exposure limits. Certain concrete sealants, adhesives, and floor-finishing chemicals are also under scrutiny because they contain polyurethanes that further react and ‘cure’ when they’re released in the atmosphere. Exposure to these compounds can cause severe skin and breathing allergic responses. These chemicals have also been documented to cause asthma and lung damage.

Americans See Value Of Homeownership

Owning a home is still a major tenet of the American Dream. A survey for the National Association of Home Builders reported 75 per cent see owning a home as worth the risk of the fluctuations in the market. It found 95 per cent of homeowners are happy with their decision to own a home. Home ownership was listed as equal in importance to job success and paying for a family member’s education. The biggest barriers reported by those surveyed were saving for a down payment and closing costs.

Social Media Winning New Customers

More firms are using social networks, blogs, microblogs, and forums to win new business and engage existing customers. A survey from Regus found 34 per cent of firms successfully using social media such as Twitter, Linkedin, Xing, and Facebook, up six per cent from last year. Social networking has fully evolved from a nice-to-have to a necessity as 67 per cent of businesses in Canada and 74 per cent internationally agree social media activity is playing a bigger role in their marketing strategy.

June 9 Product Spotlight

• COAST’s portable lighting line has re-launched all items with improved performance, including headlamps, and all general use tactical and high performance flashlights. Advancements include Fingertip Speed Focus Control, fixed bean optics, protected power switches, and Pure Beam Focusing System.
• CertainTeed has added two new shades of EverNew PT Decking. Castle Grey and Tudor Brown join the existing colour palette. 
• Silverwood has introduced its vinyl collection of floors suitable for home or commercial installations. The durable and wood-like floors have one of the lowest VOCs in the market. It features three design schemes: classic, modern, and authentic.

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June 8, 2011

Home Repairs Dangerous

Falling off ladders, getting struck by mower debris, lacerations from a power tools or chain saws, and burns or breathing difficulties caused by household chemicals are the top injuries that occur to homeowners doing home repairs, remodeling, yard work, and other projects, says an article in ‘Consumer Reports.’ It says one in five consumers will need medical attention this year as 43 million U.S. homeowners tackle 57 million home improvement projects. Falls from ladders and stools sent more than 246,733 Americans to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 (the last year for which full statistics are available) and lawn mower-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms totaled 86,000. Home power tools resulted in 83,204 emergency room admissions with the most common injuries involving cuts, especially to the fingers and hands.

Home Depot Stocks Innovative Products

An indoor living wall, lightweight concrete deck block, and fire starter made from recycled cooking oil are just a sampling of the 20 innovative products from 13 Ontario manufacturers now available at The Home Depot in select stores.  This pilot store project is the result of The Home Depot Canada’s partnership program with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Trade and Development (MEDT) – ‘Innovation for Sustainability.’ The goal of this first of its kind, two-year project is to open new retail channels for small and medium Ontario-based businesses and bring products to market that will drive innovation, sustainability, and economic opportunity.

Guardian Adds To Warranty

Guardian Building Products (GBP) has added a 10-year residential labour limited warranty on its GuarDeck Prestige line of composite decking products. Earlier this year, it announced a residential lifetime material limited warranty on its Prestige line covering fading, rotting, splitting, splintering, delamination, and structural damage from fungal decay or termites.

Light Display Supports Custom Applications

Boston Retail's VersaPanel is a modular merchandising light display system with worldwide electrical certifications that support a range of standard and custom applications. Features include free-standing, suspended, wall, pallet racking, and gondola platform options. As well, it comes in more than 150 powder coat color options.

Forzani Sales Drop

Retail system sales, which include sales from corporate and franchise stores, were $337.1 million, a decrease of $12.3 million, or 3.5 per cent, from the comparable 13-week sales of $349.4 million a year earlier for the Forzani Group. Gross profit was $109.9 million, down 3.3 per cent from $113.6 million a year earlier and gross margin was 33.3 per cent of revenue compared with 34.7 per cent of revenue a year earlier. The reduced gross margin rate was primarily due to the impact of the change in mix of business toward the lower margined wholesale revenues.

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June 7, 2011

Budget Pleases CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is pleased that the June federal budget delivered on earlier commitments to small business. "In this Year of the Entrepreneur, we give credit to the government for continuing to work to balance its books while finding important, low-cost ways to help small firms grow the economy. With measures focusing on reducing red tape, the introduction of an Employment Insurance (EI) tax credit, and better transparency and accountability at Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the government took some important steps to enhance job creation and recognize the economic contributions of small businesses in Canada," says Catherine Swift, its president. The EI Hiring Credit for small business will exempt some small employers from paying EI premiums on an increase in their payroll. As an example, this credit will allow a firm with less than $413,000 in payroll to create one new $40,000 per year job without paying any EI on that new position.

Building Permits Down

The value of building permits fell 21.1 per cent to $5.3 billion in April, after increasing 16.8 per cent in March, says Statistics Canada. Both non-residential and residential sectors saw declines, with Ontario posting the largest decrease. Non-residential permits fell 33.2 per cent to $1.9 billion, primarily due to lower construction intentions for institutional buildings in Ontario. The residential sector was down 12.6 per cent from March, with municipalities issuing $3.5 billion worth of permits.

U.S. Housing Markets Still Mired

Existing home sales remain depressed while new home sales continue near record lows as millions of owners are stuck in homes worth less than they owe on their mortgages. ‘The State of the Nation’s Housing’ report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University noted elevated vacancies and foreclosures continue to place downward pressure on housing prices and property markets are in turmoil in places where foreclosures are concentrated.  While there are no convincing signs yet of a broad turnaround, the report says the market could turn quickly as evidenced by the healthy boost in both home sales and prices brought about by the 2010 homebuyer tax credit.

Pet Care At Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire has launched a line of pet care products by dog behaviour expert Cesar Millan. The retailer is the exclusive mass retailer in Canada to offer the products by the star of the TV series ‘The Dog Whisperer.’ The line includes sustainable bamboo grooming tools, all-natural slow roasted bones, toys, bedding, collars, leashes, bowls, travel accessories, and shampoos. They have been inspired and tested by his own dog pack at his Dog Psychology Centre in Santa Clarita, CA.

Poor Service Makes Customers Leave 

A Consumer Reports’ survey says 65 per cent of customers are “tremendously annoyed” by rude salespeople and 64 per cent had left a store in the previous 12 months because of poor service. Brokerage firms, eyeglass retailers, and pharmacies were among the highest-rated industries for service, while computer tech support, TV, phone, and Internet service providers earned some of the lowest scores.

Dulux Invests In Communities

Dulux Paints is making a $1 million investment in paint to beautify public structures and buildings of community, charity, and non-profit organizations across Canada. Called the ‘Adding Colour to People’s Lives’ program, the initiative co-incides with the launch of 230 new stores previously operated as ICI Paints, Glidden, and Color Your World outlets. Each store will select a public structure or local organization to support and hold neighbourhood painting events. 

Woodmark Sales Up

Woodmark Corp. had a 10 per cent sales gain to $124.2 million in April, up from $112.4 million in the same quarter last year. Full year sales increased to $452.6 million, up 11.3 per cent from $406.5 million. Despite the sales gains, the company posted a net loss in the quarter of $3.4 million, compared with a net loss of $1.5 million in the prior-year quarter. For the full year, the company posted a loss of $20 million, slightly better than its loss of $22.3 million in fiscal 2010.

Kleinman Directs Marketing

Peter Kleinman is director of marketing for Leviton’s distribution channel. He will lead the marketing, branding, and advertising for the company’s full line of products across the distribution sales channel.

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June 6, 2011

Targets Head To Court

Target and Fairweather, Ltd., which owns 15 Target Apparel stores across Canada, have failed to reach a settlement through formal mediation so the two will go to trial. The parties sued each other earlier this year, both alleging trademark infringement and seeking injunctions to prevent the other from using the Target name in Canada. Target reportedly asked the Canadian federal court to prevent Fairweather from opening additional stores under the Target Apparel name. Target says that use of the Target name was “deliberately calculated to deceive and confuse the public in Canada.” Fairweather filed a counterclaim that denies the allegations, accusing Target of trademark infringement. It wants exclusive rights to the Target name. A federal court trial is scheduled to begin in November 2012.

Ace Highest In Customer Satisfaction

Ace Hardware was ranked ‘Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores’ for the fifth year in a row by J.D Powers and Associates. The co-operative ranked highest among major retailers with an overall satisfaction index score of 786 on a 1,000-point scale, with notable performance in the staff and service and store facility categories. The score is based on performance in five areas ‒ merchandise, price, sales and promotions, staff and service, and store facility. 

Shareholders Approve Changes

Home Depot’s shareholders have approved a company recommendation for its board of directors and executive pay structure. However, a shareholder proposal regarding control of corporate political gifts was defeated at the annual meeting. Home Depot recommended against the measure regarding electioneering policies and contributions saying it believes that participating in the political process in a transparent manner is an important way to enhance shareholder value and promote good corporate citizenship. However, it does not believe that implementing an annual shareholder advisory vote on its political activity policy and plans would provide shareholders with any more meaningful information than is already available.

Wal-Mart Wants Next Generation

Marketing to the “next generation customer” globally is the long-term goal for Wal-Mart. This includes the millions connected through smartphones and social media who are joining the emerging global middle class. Mike Duke, its president and CEO, outlined a program to help the retailer expand online sales at the annual meeting. It includes adding customers and new stores, acquiring other retailers, building global Internet business, and expanding its sustainability.

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June 3, 2011

Home Item Purchases Fall

U.S. consumers spent less on big-ticket home items such as furniture and appliances in May, while clothing and luxury items fared better. MasterCard Advisors' ‘SpendingPulse’ data shows spending on furniture fell 3.2 per cent during the four weeks that ended May 28, compared with a year earlier. Home furnishings fell 1.4 per cent, appliances 4.4 per cent, and electronics 3.6 per cent. In addition to high gas prices, consumers are facing rising food costs, uncertain prospects for jobs and income, and a weak housing market.

Sears Gives Partners In Progress Award

Veritas Communications has received Sears Canada’s ‘Partners in Progress’ award for superior customer service in the development and execution of the retailer’s nationwide advertising inserts program. The retailer worked with the marketing communications firm in 2010 to help deliver its ‘One Sears’ message to consumers across the country, showcasing products. The awards have been presented for more than 29 years to winners selected from employee nominations.

More Locations For Loss Prevention Course

The Loss Prevention Foundation has expanded to more than 60 proctored certification exam locations. In partnership with the Retail Council of Canada, the training will deliver retail loss prevention education for Canadian professionals. For more information, visit http://www.losspreventionfoundation.org

100-Year Warranty On Flooring

Bellawood has increased its warranty from 50 to 100 years and added a transfer option for homeowners. The hardwood flooring brand is one of the first in the industry to offer this transferrable warranty, meaning homeowners who eventually sell their home can transfer it to future homeowners. The flooring is available at Lumber Liquidator locations throughout Ontario.

Canadian Tire Launches DIY Site

Canadian Tire has launched HouseOfInnovation.ca – an online DIY resource for homeowners. The site showcases videos filmed at Canadian Tire's House of Innovation in Toronto, ON. Throughout this year, improvements will be made in the house and shared on the website. Once renovated, it will be sold for proceeds to support Jumpstart, a charitable program helping financially disadvantaged kids participate in organized sport and recreation.

Whirlpool Recognized For Energy And Water Efficiency

Whirlpool Canada has been awarded the ‘2011 ENERGY STAR Manufacturer of the Year’ award by Natural Resources Canada. The award recognizes the company's leadership in offering consumers energy and water efficiency through its home appliance brands. This is the eighth ENERGY STAR award and third consecutive Manufacturer of the Year win for the brand.

June 3 Product Spotlight

• CertainTeed’s drywall solution Easi-Lite gypsum board is up to 30 per cent lighter than standard and can be used for interior ceilings and walls in residential and commercial applications. It is easy to score and snap, designed with sag resistance, and a 100 per cent recycled face and back paper. Availability will soon be expanded across North America.
• Sanivite from Saniflo is a small and powerful gray water pump that can be installed in a variety of locations including basements, attics, upper floors, ground floors, and garages. It is suitable for any tight space and is ideal for a kitchen cabinet to pump away waste water from a kitchen sink. The unit also has the ability to handle hot water.
• Safety Zone’s heavyweight, three-piece rain suit is made of 35 mil PVC, coated on polyester for extra strength. It comes with a detachable hood, adjustable bib pants, cape ventilated back, underarm vents, snap front and fly, two flap pockets, and a corduroy collar. It's available in sizes small through 5X. This material is water repellent, abrasion-resistant, and has good chemical hold out for general clean-up and construction protection.
• True Refrigeration’s Professional Series Undercounter Refrigerator Drawers feature self-closing technology enabling drawers to smoothly and quietly close themselves with just a touch. At 24″, the drawers fit easily into any kitchen, adding a 5.6 cubic feet of refrigerated space.
• Air King’s Model P1848m Professional Outdoor Series range hoods ventilate smoke and odours in covered outdoor kitchens. The range hoods are ETL listed for damp locations and can be customized to the ventilation needs of the grill with HVI-certified performance options up to 1200 CFM.
• Royal Window and Door Profiles’ Opus Patio Door Series comes in options such as a twin-point locking hardware, a 10-degree sloped sill, and a 1″ thick glazing channel. The all-vinyl series comes in a variety of colours and finishes, all with a quiet roller system.
• Wagner SprayTech Corp’s Power Painter Line features its exclusive EZ Tilt technology and Optimus Dual Tip to ensure a professional finish in a fraction of the time. The technology allows the user to spray in any direction with continuous flow.
• The HomeWizard from Mr. Steam enables steam bath activation from almost any location whether controlled by a smart phone, computer, iPad, or an in-home control pad, by leveraging the advanced functions of an existing home automation system. It is energy efficient and will automatically shut down the steam generator if usage does not begin within 10 minutes following activation.
• Trex Company’s Transcend decking collection includes a light taupe colour called Rope Swing. The shade of brown is designed to complement both light and dark railing options. It features the low-maintenance and eco-friendly qualities of Transcend collection. The entire collection is backed by a 25-year Limited Fade and Stain Warranty and meets the ASTIM E84 Class B fire-resistance rating.

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June 2, 2011

Envy Drives Renovation Plans

Canadians plan to spend more than $46 billion this year to renovate their homes. And a survey by the Bank of Montreal found the main motivation for upgrades was seeing a friend or neighbour's projects, with one-quarter saying this was the major factor in their decision. Another 20 per cent said television programs had stirred the urge to make changes, while 16 per cent said newspapers or magazines. Of those planning renovations, 90 per cent said it is to improve their lifestyle and 79 per cent to improve the value of their home. The figure is slightly higher than the $45.3 billion spent last year and $40.9 billion in 2009. About two-thirds of homeowners said they plan to renovate over the next two years.

Small Businesses Lacking Confidence

Canadian small business owners are not as optimistic about the economy as they have been in the recent past. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business barometer is at its lowest point nationally in seven months. CFIB representative Richard Truscott says the drop is not a major worry at the moment and that most of the concern is about energy costs and finding skilled workers in the labour market. Confidence levels were highest in resource rich provinces such as Alberta.

Colour Decisions Made by Women

Women call the shots when it comes to choosing paint colour in the home. A survey by Olympic Paints and Stains found that although 73 per cent of men paint the home, 67 per cent of women make the colour decisions for the household. Respondents ranked durability as the most important quality for their paint decisions (71 per cent), and two-thirds said they plan to use paint products on a home improvement project this year.

Baeumler Partners With Stanley Black & Decker

Brian Baeumler has signed a two-year endorsement agreement with Stanley Black & Decker Group Of Consumer Do-It-Yourself Brands. The contractor and award-winning host of ‘Disaster DIY’ and his HGTV series ‘House of Bryan’ will use these brands in his television programs and on his website. In addition, he will participate in radio media campaigns, promotions for the brands and trade and customer-related events. 

Hyde Tools Wins Awards

Hyde Tools was honoured for packaging and merchandising excellence by the North American Retail Hardware Association for the second year in a row. The company’s 14-in-1 multi-tool won silver for tool packaging and gold for merchandiser design. The electric pressure washer wand was recognized in the hardware and lawn and garden competitions. The products were designed by Corey Talbot, vice-president of marketing and product development, and the packaging by Six-Point Creative Works.

King Marketing Adds Vice-president

Roger Plante is vice-president of sales for King Marketing. He has been with the manufacturer’s agency for 21 years and was previously the territory manager for the Prairies. The Canadian company represents manufacturers in the retail home improvement channel.

Forklift Line Arrives in North America

Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. has added the Jungheinrich EJC B14/EJC B16 Heavy-Duty Electric Walkie Straddle Stacker to its North American product line. It implements a three-phase AC technology drive system, proportional lift and lower control, optional electric power steering, and a multi-function control tiller head. Extremely beneficial for a stacker, the series features variable lift/lower speed control which lowers pull-down and put-away costs while reducing the likelihood of lift truck, rack, or product damage.

Plastic Recycling Event Returns 

The second annual National Plastic Recycling Event will take place June 25 to July 4 at national garden centres. Led by the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, it is designed to offer gardeners an environmentally responsible way to dispose of their plastic plant pots, plant packs, and plastic trays. In its first year, more than 53,000 pounds of recyclable garden plastic was collected.

New Leaders at Chamberlain Group

Dick Gregory is vice-president of retail sales at the Chamberlain Group Inc. With 20 years’ experience at the company, he will lead the sales team in exploring and further supporting retail partnerships and new market opportunities. Anthony Abate is marketing channel manager for retail national accounts, and will be leading the charge in driving the integrated programs and cultivating existing and new retail partnerships. The company manufactures and markets access control products including residential garage door openers, commercial door operators, residential and commercial gate operators, telephone entry systems, and related access control products.

Sears Canada Awarded ISO Registration

Sears Canada’s National Logistics Centre (NLC) distribution centre facility in Calgary, AB, has been awarded an International Organization for Standardization 14001 registration for its efforts to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment. The certification, based on internationally recognized standards for environmental management, recognizes that the company has reduced electricity consumption through energy management and improved itsrecycling collection program, as well as provided a battery drop-off station and containers to collect bulk used oil and solvents for safe disposal.

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June 1, 2011

Industry Promotes Sustainable Remodelling

Consumers can lower their home energy consumption by 30 to 50 per cent by planning green remodels and renovations. The Sustainable Building Industry Council found housing alone consumes 20 per cent of energy in America and is raising awareness for smart solutions and products for homeowners. Participants in the National Association of the Remodelling Industry’s (NARI) Green Program help homeowners plan green remodels addressing energy conservation, air quality, reduced material waste, and environmentally safe products. Tips and news on sustainable solution can be found at www.greenhomeguide.com

Stanley, DEWALT Sponsor Skills Competition

Stanley Hand Tools and DEWALT Power Tools & Accessories have signed on as sponsors of the 2011 Skills Canada National Competition. The non-profit organization promotes skilled trades and technology to Canadian youth and 500 secondary and post-secondary competitors will compete for national titles in areas such as welding, carpentry, robotics, auto service, and cooking. Products from both companies will be used throughout the competition.

Climate Change Needs More Work

The Ontario government will not meet its targets for reducing greenhouse gases by 2014. This is one conclusion from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's ‘2011 Greenhouse Gas Progress Report.’ Comissioner Gord Miller says it is highly likely that emissions have increased each year since 2009 with the return of economic growth, highlighting the need for governments to break the link between GDP growth and GHG emissions. He noted putting a price on carbon will guide investment decisions and help the transition to a low-carbon economy. Miller is also concerned with the lack of action in reducing emissions from the transportation sector as they are responsible for almost a third of all emissions and the largest contributor of GHGs in the province.

White Heads Handy

Kenneth White is CEO of Houston, TX-based Handy Hardware co-op. White, a partner with consulting firm Tatum, was hired to assist with financial and IT related transition issues at the company.  

Ryobi Line At Home Depot

The Ryobi Expand-it attachment system line is now exclusively available at The Home Depot. The line provides customized lawn and garden equipment that attaches to any universal-fit split shaft trimmer. Attachments include a two-cycle power head that powers a hedge trimmer, edger, brush cutter, tiller, pole pruner, and straight shaft trimmer.

NHS Gives Record Donation

Exhibiting companies at the 2011 National Hardware Show donated 14 trailer loads of products to Opportunity Village; a Las Vegas, NV-based non-profit organization serving individuals with intellectual disabilities. The collective donation was the largest ever from the exhibitors of the National Hardware Show to its preferred charity. The products ‒ ranging from hardware and tools, homewares, paint and accessories, storage and organization, garden and outdoor living, and tailgating and outdoor recreation ‒ were given as merchandise for the Opportunity Village thrift store which employs mentally disabled people in the Las Vegas community.

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