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News

January 9, 2012

Lowe’s Connecting Home

Lowe’s www.lowes.com is introducing Iris, a cloud-based home management system that gives customers the ability to control and interact with their home from anywhere using their smartphone or computer. Iris will be available in Lowe’s stores and on Lowes.com in mid-2012. Greg Bridgeford, Lowe’s executive vice-president of business development, says the retailer wants to deliver the idea of the connected home for all types of homeowners, erasing the notion that this is only suited for the affluent. The product will include connections for thermostats, locks, lighting, and appliances and will extend out to home monitoring and surveillance through the use of video cameras and door, motion, and fire sensors.


Recovery Boosts Furniture Imports

Furniture imported via ocean shipping rose sharply in November driven by a recovering housing market, says The Journal of Commerce. Increases in U.S. home sales were buoyed by the housing market, leading to the seven per cent growth in furniture shipments.


Discount Product Demand Increases Income

Family Dollar Stores Inc’s net income rose eight per cent in its first fiscal quarter, as demand for its discount products rose in the uncertain economy. For the three months ended November 26, it earned $80.4 million, compared with $74.3 million a year ago. Sales were $2.15 billion, up from $2 billion last year, but below the average estimate of $2.17 billion. Revenue at stores open a year rose 4.1 per cent as a result of a higher average customer transactions and increased customer traffic. It opened 101 stores in the quarter, which was almost 20 per cent more than in the year-ago quarter. It operates more than 7,100 locations in 45 states.


Website Promotes Renovation Benefits

Property owners and real estate investors stand to benefit from renovating in 2012, says Wo-Built Inc. The design and build company says homeowners should consider renovating over moving and discover the benefits a building project can offer. The company hopes to convince owners that building can be enjoyable, relaxing, and rewarding as many homeowners overlook the advantages of renovating due to misconceptions there's less cost and fewer headaches in selling and buying a new home. On the company’s website, whobuilt.com, common renovation myths are put to rest and financial benefits are compared.


Boise Moves Into Expanded Distribution Centre

Boise Cascade’s Building Materials Distribution has moved its Portsmouth, NH, operation into an expanded distribution facility in Greenland, NH. The new facility includes 15 acres of yard space, 120,000 square-feet of warehouse space, and 9,000 square-feet of office space. John Tiano, manager of the Portsmouth operation, says the increased capacity will allow the company to significantly increase its product offering.


Manufacturing Facility Converted For Distribution

Superseal Windows and Doors has converted its South Plainfield, NJ, manufacturing facility to a distribution and service centre. The move is part of the company’s plan, which began in early 2011, to centralize its manufacturing capability in its facility in Merrill, WI, near Superseal’s parent company, Hurd Windows and Doors. Hurd president and CEO Dominic Truniger says the move to centrally locate the manufacturing plant was critical as the brand grows on the national and international level.


Target Adds Third Canadian Distribution Centre

Target Canada is building a distribution centre in Calgary, AB. It will be the third in Canada. The centre will be approximately 1.3 million square feet. Target intends to open its first stores in early April 2013 and its distribution centres will be completed in time to support the needs of the stores. The first 24 stores are all in Ontario.


B.C. Girls Win Hockey Challenge

The Lillooet, BC, Pistons Junior Girls hockey team was the grand prize winner in the TIM-BR Mart World Junior Hockey Video Challenge. The 20 players, along with their coaches and parents, attended the World Junior Games in Edmonton, AB and were rink-side for two games.


Kitchen And Bath Show In Novi

The Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan (BIA) is sponsoring the Novi Home Improvement Show featuring the Michigan Kitchen and Bath show, January 27 to 29, 2012. The show will take place at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI, and is part of the National Home & Garden Series presented by Dish. Exhibits include kitchen and bath interiors, windows, doors, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and more. For more information, visit http://novihomeshow.com/


Renovation Show Comes To Ottawa

Ottawa, ON, will hold its first home show of 2012, the Home Renovations Show, January 20 to 22 at the CE Centre. It will feature the latest in renovations, upgrading, and planning. For information, visit www.thehomerenovationsshow.com


January 6, 2012

Employee Engagement Tied To Customer Experience

A new report finds a strong link between the level of employee engagement and the effort and commitment of employees to their company. The Temkin Group’s ‘Employee Engagement Benchmark Study’ shows that companies that are customer experience leaders have 2.5 times as many highly engaged employees as do customer experience laggards. The study found 31 per cent of employees are highly engaged, while 23 per cent are disengaged. Compared with disengaged employees, highly engaged employees are 480 per cent more committed to helping the company succeed, 250 per cent more likely to do something good for the company that's unexpected of them, 250 per cent more likely to make a recommendation about an improvement, and 370 per cent more likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job.


First Canadian Target Stores Announced

Target has announced the locations of its first 24 Canadian stores. The first stores will begin to open in Ontario early in April of 2013 and up to 135 stores will be opened throughout the year in leased sites currently operated by Zellers Inc. Some of the first locations will include Toronto, London, Hamilton, and Windsor.


Purchasing Power Better With Low Currency Rate

U.S. and Canadian dollar currency comparisons between 1970 and 2010 have found that Canadians received more discounts on goods when the dollar was at depressed levels, says Statistics Canada. The agency compared fluctuations to what purchasing power was based on prices for goods and services in Canada and the U.S. The most recent figures in this data showed that despite Canadians enjoying a dollar that averaged about US97 cents in 2010, prices in Canada gave consumers here a purchasing power that was about eight cents less. The study shows Canadians enjoyed a discount of almost 20 cents on the dollar compared to Americans in the early 2000s when the loonie was worth around US65 cents, but our purchasing power at home was closer to US85 cents.


Home Improvement Confidence Expected To Improve

The ‘Home Improvement Industry Current Situation Index’ declined in December to 229.2 from 266.7 in November, says the American Hardware Manufacturers Association. Looking forward six months, 60 per cent of respondents expect sales to be above current levels, down from 76 per cent in November. In December, 30 per cent expected sales to be even in six months and 10 per cent expected sales to be below current levels. Looking forward one year, 80 per cent of respondents project sales will be higher, up from 76 per cent who felt that way in November. Fifteen per cent of December respondents project sales will be even one year from now and five per cent project sales will be below current levels.


Dorel Expands With European Acquisition

Dorel Industries Inc. has acquired Poland-based juvenile products distributor and retailer Poltrade for an undisclosed amount. The move comes as the Montreal, QC-based maker of infant car seats, bicycles, and ready-to-assemble furniture is looking to expand its international reach with acquisitions. Poltrade has posted strong sales growth and is targeted to have sales of $7.5 million in 2012. In November, Dorel made its first foray into the retail market with an agreement to buy a 70 per cent stake in South America's leading juvenile brands company Silfa, which owns 52 stores in Chile and Peru.


Hyde Launches Digital Catalogue

Hyde Tools has released an interactive digital master catalogue featuring a complete listing of products. The flipbook style publication provides product descriptions, photos, and selected how-to videos. It also allows readers to search content by keyword, product code, product name, or category. The catalogue can be accessed by computer, iPad, or smart phone at www.hydetools.com/catalog and will be continuously updated.


MasonryWorx President Earns Medal

Jack Prazeres, of Target Masonry and president of MasonryWorx, was presented with the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship in December for his contribution to the community. Prazeres won the medal for his work that led to the development of the Luso Canadian Charitable Society Centre which provides support services to those with physical or developmental disabilities. Created in 1973, the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship recognizes people who have made exceptional long-term contributions to the quality of life in the province. There were 11 outstanding recipients for 2011.


January 5, 2012

Canadian Small Businesses Grow In Confidence

Small business confidence rose in December to 65, almost a point and a half higher than in November, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Its ‘Business Barometer Index’ typically hovers between 65 and 70 when the economy is expanding. Provincially, business owners in Alberta and Saskatchewan were Canada's most optimistic in December at 73.6 and 72.2 respectively, while British Columbia scored a 68 on the 0-to-100 scale. Heading east, optimism wanes some with Quebec businesses at 65.3, Manitoba firms at 64.8, and Ontario businesses at 63.5. The confidence scores drop even further in Atlantic Canada with Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick all at 59.8. Small businesses in Nova Scotia were the least optimistic of all, at an index level of 55.6.The wholesale goods sector was just under 68, while confidence in the construction and manufacturing sectors rose in December to 60.6 and 63.6 respectively.


Housewares Industry Tops $300 Billion

The average housewares expenditures for U.S. households increased 1.5 per cent in 2010, says the International Housewares Association. In its ‘2011 State-of the-Industry Report,’ it listed the top three categories in the global housewares market as cook and bakeware (17.3 per cent), kitchen tools and accessories (14.2 per cent), and tabletop (12.1 per cent). The global market size of the housewares industry is $301.9 billion, up 4.7 per cent from 2009 with North America, Western Europe, and Asia encompassing 82 per cent of the spending. Hardware stores and home centres accounted for 5.7 per cent of houseware sales in 2010, up from 5.5 per cent in 2009.


Construction On Road To Recovery

Construction spending in the U.S. rose in November for a third time in four months, says the Commerce Department. Building outlays increased 1.2 per cent, exceeding the estimate of 0.5 per cent by economists. Recent gains in the housing market, spurred in part by mortgage rates near record lows, are helping the construction industry recover from the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009. Public expenditures also climbed during the month, a sign that budget constraints may be easing. Private construction spending climbed one per cent in November from the prior month to $522 billion, the highest level since December 2009. Home building outlays increased two per cent, including a 2.6 per cent gain in home improvement.


Armstrong Refinances

Flooring and ceiling products manufacturer Armstrong World Industries has completed a refinancing and a special dividend payment by WAVE, its 50 per cent joint venture with Worthington Industries. Proceeds of the transaction were used to repay WAVE's previous credit agreement, as well as to pay special dividends to each of WAVE's parent companies, Armstrong and Worthington. Armstrong is revising its free cash flow guidance range for 2011 to an estimate of $150 million to $175 million, up from its previous guidance range estimate of $80 million to $120 million.


WOLF Building Now WOLF Home

WOLF Building Products will become WOLF Home Products. This division will source and sell WOLF-branded products through WOLF and other channels located in the United States and beyond. WOLF develops products and programs that enable 3,000 professional dealers across 18 East Coast states.


January 5 Product Spotlight

• 3M’s TEKK Forceflex safety eyewear has flexible resilient frames for a customizable fit. Lenses absorb 99.9 per cent of ultraviolet radiation and are available in clear or grey.
The SDS Plus Rotary Hammer from Milwaukee is ideal for drilling overhead spaces and provides up to 65 per cent faster drilling with 1.5 foot-pounds of impact energy.
The WrightGrip SB Ratchet is ideal for scaffolding as it consists of a ½″drive, ??″ ratchet, ??″ wrench, replaceable hammer, and a lanyard ring.
• TASK’s latest striking tool line includes sledges, mauls, axes, pickaxes, tampers, wedges, and bars with double injected fibreglass handles that significantly reduce vibration transmission, have built-in overstrike protection, and integrated rubber grips that won’t twist or slip under pressure.
• Ecofitt’s line of ultra high-efficiency toilets includes the Niagara Flapperless models Claremont (17″) and Simcoe (16″). They meet EPA Water Sense Criteria and fit a 10.5″ to 12″ rough-in.
• Xylem’s Islander bath furniture collection includes a bath vanity, hutch, and matching mirror set. Two width selections (24″ and 30″ vanity) and adjustable legs allow for maximum space optimization.
• EasyHeat’s Sno Melter electrical heating mats automatically melt snow and ice, eliminating the hassle of shovelling, salting, and plowing. It uses low temperature heating cables formed into flexible mats up to 30 feet in length which are placed below the surface of asphalt, pavers, or concrete and energized during freezing conditions.
• PURE Inspired Design’s Kicks fabric collection is made from eco-friendly, U.S.-made organic fabrics. It includes eco-friendly furniture, wool rugs, and home accessories.


January 4, 2012

Hamilton Joins Castle

Hamilton Builders Supply has joined the Castle Building Centres Group Ltd. network of independent dealers. Hamilton commenced operations in 1923 with a location in downtown Hamilton, ON. Today, it operates five locations in the GTA and Niagara Peninsula regions of Ontario and is one of southern Ontario's largest privately owned building supply companies. Its customers include professional contractors, municipalities, institutions, commercial accounts, and homeowners.


Sentiment Highest Since June 2011

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. rose 5.8 points for the fourth month of consecutive increases, says the Reuters/University of Michigan ‘Consumer Sentiment Index.’ It is the highest level reached since June 2011. The index hit 69.9 points in December and researchers pointed to falling gasoline prices, mildly better employment prospects, an uptick in the stock market, and real income growth for the rise.


PWBank Launches Home Hardware Credit Card

Pacific & Western Credit Corp’s wholly owned subsidiary Pacific & Western Bank of Canada (PWBank) has launched the Home Credit Card with its partner Home Hardware Stores Limited. The card was launched on a national basis and all locations will be accepting applications for the new card. President and CEO of PWBank, David Taylor, says the partnership will provide Home Hardware customers with a credit tool to facilitate their home improvement investments.


Sears Announces Executive Vice-president

Ron Boire is executive vice-president, chief merchandising officer, and president of the Sears and Kmart brands at Sears Holdings Corp. Boire previously served as president and CEO of specialty retailer Brookstone. The company has more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.


Discover Design Expands Show Space

Discover Design, showcasing inspired design and cutting-edge product innovation, will increase in space and the number of exhibitors at the ‘2012 International Home + Housewares Show,’ March 10 to 13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.Expanded to nearly 100 companies this year, the space will feature Alessi, ASA, Cristel, Design House Stockholm, Eva Solo, Guzzini and others. Also planned for Discover Design are educational seminars. For more information, visit www.housewares.org


January 3, 2012

Lowes Buys Online Retailer

Lowe's Cos. has bought online home improvement retailer ATG Stores in a bid to broaden its product assortment. ATG Stores, or Allied Trade Group Inc., operates more than 500 websites and offers 3.5 million products from more than 3,300 manufacturers, ranging from furniture and lighting to home décor, fitness equipment, and apparel. ATG Stores will be a Lowe's subsidiary.


Uniboard U.S. Sells Particleboard Facilities

Uniboard USA LLC will sell its MDF and particleboard facilities located in North Carolina to a subsidiary of Paneles Arauco S.A. The facilities sold to Arauco include particleboard, MDF, and TFM production capacity serving primarily the U.S. South-east. Uniboard Canada Inc. will continue to serve the Canadian and U.S. markets with its full range of products of particleboard, MDF, thermofused melamine, and laminate flooring.


Harmonized Standards Work Best

The best way to provide consumers with the best selection of products is to work with the federal government towards harmonizing standards with the United States, says the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). It was responding to an announcement that updated child car safety regulations would come into force January 1. This highlights the need for governments on both sides of the border to maintain the same standards across North America, it says. It notes that the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council is pursuing more common standards in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation, environment, and health and consumer products.


Consumer Confidence Hits Low Level

The Conference Board of Canada’s consumer confidence numbers show the index hit its lowest level since the height of the recession in December. The index posted a 6.5-point drop bringing 2011 to a "disappointing" close and signalling further belt-tightening by Canadians is in store. At 69.9, the index is down 11.1 points from where it was at the end of 2010, its lowest point in more than 2½ years.


Credit Facility Renewed

RONA Inc. has renewed its existing credit facility for a period of five years. Maturing in 2012, the credit facility was renewed until 2016, with the total available amount increased from $650 million to $950 million. The facility can be extended annually. It will be used for general needs and future development projects as well as to refinance a portion of the corporation's recently redeemed debentures.


Sears Plans To Close Stores

Sears Holdings Corp. plans to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores in the U.S. after poor sales during the holidays. The closings are the latest and most visible in a long series of moves to try to fix a retailer that has struggled with falling sales and shabby stores. The company has more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Its revenue at stores open at least a year fell 5.2 per cent for the quarter at both Sears and Kmart.


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