Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


January 17, 2020

Slight Gains Forecast For U.S. Renovation Spending

National spending for improvements and repairs on owner-occupied homes in the U.S. is expected to rise only modestly this year, says Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that home remodeling expenditures will increase by just 1.5 per cent in 2020 compared with annual gains of five to seven per cent in recent years. “While homebuilding and sales activity are now firming, softness from earlier last year will continue to pull on remodeling spending growth in 2020,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center. “However, the slowdown should begin to moderate by year-end as today’s healthier housing market indicators will ultimately lead to more home renovation and repair.” The centre says, however, that even with the lacklustre forecast, home improvement and repair expenditures in the U.S. are still set to expand to over US$330 billion this year.

Beacon Roofing Rebrands

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. will rename its 40 brands across the U.S. and Canada that sell exterior products to Beacon Building Products. The name reflects the company’s ability to supply customers with a broad range of residential and commercial building products. The new name and logo will be adopted at over 450 Beacon one-step exterior products branches. In addition, the company has invested in its omni-channel approach. A single website is serving customers more seamlessly by providing connectivity to its exclusive Beacon Pro+ eCommerce site and the Beacon 3D+ estimating platform. Beacon’s OTC (On-Time & Complete) Network has been further developed to support in-store and online customers with enhanced product availability, delivery tracking, and notification. Beacon’s interior, insulation, weatherproofing and two-step branches will continue to operate under current brand names.

APA Publishes Updated Engineered Wood Guide

APA – The Engineered Wood Association has released its updated ‘APA Engineered Wood Construction Guide, Form E30.’ The 100-page guide features information on engineered wood products and recommendations for their use in a wide range of applications in residential and commercial construction. It includes illustrations and information on typical specifications for engineered wood products and design recommendations for floor, wall and roof systems, diaphragms, shear walls, fire-rated systems, and finishing methods. A free electronic copy is available on the APA website.

Trex Company Launches Composite Cladding

Trex Company has added Trex Cladding to its portfolio of products. The composite cladding replaces hardwood planks in modern rainscreen systems and is resistant to fading and stains while eliminating the need for sanding and sealing. The open-joint façade system promotes airflow over the water-resistant barrier behind the cladding. The product uses square-edge Trex Transcend deck boards to create a modern design and can be applied horizontally or vertically. The boards are made from 95 per cent recycled plastic and reclaimed wood scrap and are backed by a 25-year product and fade and stain warranties for both commercial and residential projects. It is available in three board lengths and 10 colour options.

Glass For Windows And Doors Market To Grow

Demand for glass used in windows and doors is forecast to increase 4.3 per cent per year from $3.6 billion in 2018 to $4.4 billion in 2023, says a study by The Freedonia Group. The ‘Window & Door Components’ study says demand is created by above average advances in residential replacement window sales and homeowners’ tendency to trade up to higher quality products when selecting replacement fenestration. As well, ongoing efforts by home and commercial building owners to reduce energy costs by investing in higher value windows and doors with better insulative properties is also increasing demand. The trend of larger window and patio doors, including multi-panel and multi-fold patio doors, also support the glass market, as does expanding interest in advanced glass tinting technologies such as ‘smart glass’ products that can be controlled via smart devices.

Craig Named CFO

Gregory Craig will be executive vice-president and chief financial officer with Canadian Tire Corporation, effective March 2. He has been with the company for more than 25 years, most recently as president and chief executive officer of Canadian Tire Bank.

January 16, 2020

Third Quarter Renovation Product Sales Strong

Retail sales in Canada reached $160.8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, up 1.6 per cent from the same quarter of 2018, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in 10 commodity groupings. The largest increase in dollar terms came from motor vehicles (+4.4 per cent). Sales of hardware, tools, and renovation and lawn and garden products were up 5.2 per cent in the third quarter. Higher sales of renovation materials and supplies (+4.6 per cent) led the gains, followed by hardware and tools (+7.5 per cent). The largest decline in sales was posted by automotive and household fuels (-4.7 per cent), which posted its third consecutive quarterly decline. Lower revenue from automotive fuels (-4.7 per cent) accounted for the majority of this decline.

December Home Sales Inch Lower

Home sales edged down 0.9 per cent in December, ending a streak of monthly gains that began last March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Activity is currently about 18 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019 but ends the year about seven per cent below the heights recorded in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined, with higher sales in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Calgary, AB, and Montreal, QC, offsetting declines in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ottawa, ON. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 22.7 per cent compared to a quiet month of December in 2018. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels across most of Canada, including all of the largest urban markets. The number of newly listed homes slid a further 1.8 per cent in December, leaving new supply close to its lowest level in a decade. December's decline was driven mainly by fewer new listings in the GTA and Ottawa – the same markets most responsible for the decline in sales. Listings available for purchase are now running at a 12-year low.

Business Owners Will Keep Investing

Many Canadian entrepreneurs will continue investing in their companies in 2020 despite growing uncertainty about world economies, says a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Canadian entrepreneurs in the manufacturing and services sectors expect to see their businesses' sales grow and they intend to hire workers to meet a sustained demand for their products and services. Overall, business owners plan to increase their investments in technology, marketing initiatives, intellectual property, and employee training. This is in line with a shift toward a services economy and the digitization of businesses. However, investments in tangible assets such as real estate, machinery, and equipment will decline, a trend BDC identified in previous studies. Investment intentions are highest in Ontario and Quebec where manufacturing, technology, and services are the strongest sectors. Investment intentions are declining in British Columbia where spending intentions on machinery and equipment have significantly decreased. Business owners are the most pessimistic in the Prairies, mostly because of low commodity prices and limited cash flow. Labour shortages are of concern in some areas, notably Quebec, where they are the top factor limiting investment.

Lowe’s, Wayfair Partner With Google Cloud

Google Cloud has partnered with Lowe’s Companies Inc. and Wayfair to help the retailers deliver better customer experiences and run operations more efficiently. Google Cloud’s technology foundation for Lowe’s includes investments toward modernizing the retailer’s eCommerce, merchandising, supply chain management, and pricing systems to provide a more fluid, ‘channel-less’ customer experience spanning from product discovery to return visits. Lowe’s is in the early stages of a large-scale, multiyear technology transformation, investing more than $500 million annually through 2021 and hiring up to 2,000 engineers to continue to build out future retail experiences. Wayfair debuted its hybrid cloud strategy earlier this year. Wayfair now uses several different Google Cloud solutions – including compute, storage, and networking, data and analytics, and G Suite productivity tools – to enhance a shopping experience that delights customers from product discovery to final delivery.

IKEA Canada Closes Pick-up Points

IKEA Canada will close its Pick-up and Order Point units in Kitchener, London, St. Catharines, Whitby, and Windsor, ON, effective January 29. In 2015, the retailer launched the Pick-up and Order Point concept as part of a global test program to learn more about how our customers want to shop with IKEA in new retail formats. With the test concluded, IKEA Canada has decided to close the existing units. The company says that to best meet its customers’ needs in these markets, it will explore new solutions with a focus on enhancing digital tools and improving its local service offer.

January 15, 2020

Digital Technology Will Transform Coatings Industry

In 2018, paint and coating manufacturers were putting digital technology to use in only a limited number of digital domains. Since then, the use of digital technology by these coatings companies has accelerated and, today, all leading formulators now have digital initiatives across multiple domains, says research from Frost & Sullivan. The research and consulting firm says that new digital business models such as data monetization and coatings-as-a-service will completely transform the way the paints and coatings industry operates in the next 10 years. As well, the role of digital leadership, especially chief digital officers (CDO), is poised to explode in 2020, addressing the lack of top-level digital strategy management that remains a challenge for the paints and coatings industry to date. The proper adoption of digital concepts will be disruptive for the industry, and it requires a different way of thinking. With a CDO at the helm, companies can realize their digital transformation goals quickly and effectively.

Business Leaders Lack Plans To Build Trust

Trust is a key matter for business leaders around the world, but there are significant gaps between business leaders’ thoughts and actions, says the ‘2020 Global Pulse Survey’ by YPO, a global leadership community. The survey says 96 per cent of chief executives rate building and maintaining trust with stakeholders as a high priority, with close to half (42 per cent) saying that the importance of building trust with stakeholders has increased in the past five years. Yet, only 40 per cent of chief executives find it easy to build trust with employees, and they find it even more challenging to do so with their customers (36 per cent). Most chief executives understand the weight of their role, with 89 per cent agreeing that they, as business leaders, are under pressure to embody their organizations' values through their actions. Over 60 per cent of business leaders have yet to measure employee trust within their business and only a third (34 per cent) have defined specific plans within their business for building/maintaining employee trust.

NL Retailer Named gia Winner

St. John’s, NL-based HOME on water st. was named the gia winner for 2019-2020 in Canada by the International Housewares Association’s (IHA) ‘Global Innovation Awards’ (gia) program. The award recognizes outstanding home and housewares retailers from 31 countries around the globe to foster innovation and excellence. The competition honours independent and multiple-location home and housewares retailers for excellence in several business categories including overall mission statement, vision, and strategy; store design and layout; visual merchandising, displays, and window displays; marketing, advertising, and promotions; customer service and staff training; and innovation. Each winner is invited to IHA’s ‘Inspired Home Show’ in Chicago, IL, where the global gia jury will select up to five gia global honourees and the winners of the ‘Martin M. Pegler Award for Excellence in Visual Merchandising’ and the ‘gia Digital Commerce Award for Excellence in Online Retailing.’ Winners will be honoured at an awards dinner at the show on March 14.

Nairn Named HBC President

Iain Nairn has been appointed president of Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Most recently, he was chief executive officer of kikki.K, a global Swedish design and stationery business with product lines available in over 147 countries.

BB&B Sales Slide

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. had net sales of $2.8 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a decrease of nine per cent compared to net sales of $3 billion in the third quarter of its 2018 year. Comparable sales declined 8.3 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $914 million compared to $1 billion. The company had a net loss of $38.6 million, which compared to net earnings of $24.4 million in the year-ago period. The adjusted net loss was $46.9 million compared to net earnings of $2.7 million.

January 14, 2020

Shoppers Like To Research Online

Canadian shoppers who bought products or services and visited a physical store, used an app, or used a website before making the purchase visit three digital channels on average before buying, says a report by Eagle Eye, a SaaS technology company. Roughly one-third of consumers are likely to visit a social network before making a purchase either online or in-store. Sixty-one per cent of consumers conduct at least one online shopping activity prior to purchase in-store. In addition, 64 per cent of consumers say relevant marketing is very important to them and 59 per cent collected or used loyalty points or vouchers within two weeks of taking the survey. Eagle Eye says by examining how Canadian consumers now conduct the search, browsing, discovery, and buying phases of their shopping journeys, businesses can be better prepared to meet customers' expectations both online and in-store. This information also ensures retailers' overall marketing efforts will deliver the most value for customers and generate positive returns on their investment.

Elastic Path Acquires Moltin

Elastic Path, a commerce solutions company, has acquired fellow commerce technology company Moltin to create a commerce platform that will offer microservices to business owners. Elastic Path says the acquisition comes as global demand grows for extensible, flexible, and scalable enterprise commerce solutions. It will bolster the company’s mission to empower businesses to transform every customer interaction across B2C, B2B, B2B2C, and B2B2B use cases into unique and engaging digital commerce experiences. Through business user tools, a library of ready-to-use commerce experiences, and the ability to extend commerce functionality, Elastic Path can now help brands, manufacturers, and retailers deliver digital customer journeys that are fully tailored to their businesses.

Thalberg Named Chief Brand And Marketing Officer

Marisa F. Thalberg will be executive vice-president, chief brand and marketing officer, with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., effective February 10. Most recently, she was global chief brand officer with Taco Bell.

Weak Demand Affects Acuity Brands Sales

Acuity Brands, Inc. had net sales of $834.7 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, a decrease of 10.5 per cent compared with net sales of $932.6 million in the year-ago period. Operating profit for the quarter was $83.6 million, a decrease of 28 per cent compared with operating profit of $116.4 million. Net income was $57 million, a decrease of 28 per cent compared with net income of 79.6 million last year. Adjusted operating profit decreased 11.3 per cent to $119 million. The company says net sales were down due to weaker than expected market demand.

January 13, 2020

Retailers Must Adapt To Consumer Behaviour

“Because digital is becoming a more intrinsic shopping experience, retailers need to become data-driven to reach customers through online experiences; deliver promotions, offers, and prices that reflect each shopper's preferences; and orchestrate communications across mobile apps and devices and virtual assistants. Personalization opportunities are shifting rapidly to digital omnichannel touch-points,” says Brian Crain, head of global business development at Precima. A survey by the company shows that consumers are increasingly shopping online and 55 per cent prefer personalized promotions. Crain says retailers need to meet customers’ online shopping expectations understanding that trust, quality, convenience, choice, and personalized promotions and offers make the difference. They also need to adapt the store format to shoppers’ behaviour. Crain is speaking at the ‘NRF’s 2020 Big Show’ in New York City, NY, on January 14 to reveal findings of the survey and what they mean to retailers.

Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Home Market

The market for smart homes is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent from 2019 to 2024, says a report by Mordor Intelligence. The smart home system requires a smartphone application or web portal as a user interface to interact with an automated system. Smart HVAC systems are a significant contributors to the market. The smart HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) systems are critical with respect to the environmental controls around the house. They comprise of smart thermostats, sensors, control valves, smart actuators, air conditioning systems, and smart room heaters. Across the globe, owing to the increasing government regulations across developed and developing countries, most of the new buildings need smarter heating and cooling systems, thus augmenting the growth of HVAC systems. The introduction of innovative wireless technologies, including HVAC controller, security and access regulators, and entertainment controls, is also expected to foster market growth.

Nielsen Acquires Precima

Nielsen Global Connect (NGC) has completed its acquisition of Precima, a software as a service (SaaS)-based provider of retail and customer data applications and analytics, from Alliance Data Systems Corp. Through this acquisition, NGC will deepen its portfolio of personalized and addressable pricing, promotion, and assortment capabilities by leveraging Precima's consumer loyalty and retailer analytics solutions. The addition of Precima into NGC’s portfolio will allow Nielsen to accelerate its new product capabilities while also strengthening existing products within its analytic suite. It will also achieve a heightened advantage in the loyalty and personalization space, furthering its ability to help brands plan and measure the impact and success of personalized consumer offerings.

Pinterest Partners With SmartCommerce

Pinterest has partnered with SmartCommerce to enable its 320 million active monthly users to add products they discover on the platform to a shopping cart. Leveraging SmartCommerce Click2Cart technology, brands can create eCommerce experiences on digital touchpoints like websites, digital ads, social posts, and online videos. Pinterest’s research shows that 47 per cent of its users use the platform to ‘buy or shop for products’ versus 15 per cent who say the same for traditional social media. As well, more than 76 per cent of consumers are already buying at least some CPG (consumer packaged goods) products online, says data from SmartCommerce. “SmartCommerce Click2Cart functionality helps CPG brand partners make it simple to cart products straight from recipes, projects, regimen, and similar Pins, increasing the likelihood of inspiration-fueled purchase,” says Jennifer Silverberg, CEO of SmartCommerce. “In fact, our CPG clients have seen some of their highest rates of conversion to carts from Pinterest, so we are very excited about broadening this partnership.”

Revenue Down At Chase

Global specialty chemicals company Chase Corporation had revenue of $66.7 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, a decrease of eight per cent compared to revenue of $72.5 million in the first quarter of its 2019 year. Operating income decreased 13 per cent to $10.7 million from $12.3 million in the year-ago period. Net income for the quarter was $7.4 million, down 17 per cent from $8.8 million last year. EBITDA was $14.1 million, down 14 per cent compared to $16.4 million. Revenue for the adhesives, sealants, and additives segment was $25.8 million compared to $26.7 million in the year-ago period; revenue for the industrial tapes segment was $30.1 million compared to $33.5 million; and revenue for the corrosion protection and waterproofing segment was $10.9 million versus $12.3 million a year ago.

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