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News

November 8, 2019

Consumers Want Digital Benefits

Consumers want the digital benefits of personalization via suggested selling, customized offers, and self-checkout/self-scanning for the times when they do not feel the need to engage, says BRP’s ‘Special Report: The Future of Retail.’ When retailers can combine the digital and physical environments such as offering proximity-triggered mobile coupons or self-checkout through a mobile app, customers reward retailers with their loyalty to the brand. Moving towards the future of retail, these retailer nice-to-haves will become table-stakes. The report says 55 per cent of consumers are likely to choose a retailer that offers self-checkout and they are willing to try new technology if it improves the in-store experience. The physical store is not dying and enhancing the customer experience continues to be critical for retail success. Consumers love the theatre of shopping, which is why many pure-play online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional store concepts continue to transform. The in-store experience is paramount for apparel and other products that consumers want to touch, feel, demo, or try on.


Supply Down In GTA Housing

There were 8,491 residential home sales in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area in October, says the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). This represents a 14 per cent increase compared to 7,448 sales reported in October 2018. GTA-wide, sales were up on a year-over-year basis for all major home types. While demand is strong, supply of available listings is dropping, resulting in tighter market conditions and accelerating price growth. New listings were down by 9.6 per cent compared to last year.


IKEA Canada To Launch ‘New City Centre’ Concepts

IKEA Canada plans to expand and introduce concepts to its Toronto, ON, city centre store. This is the first market in Canada where the retailer is introducing its ‘new city centre’ approach, which includes becoming more accessible through IKEA meeting places in the core, creating new experiences in existing stores, developing a more affordable and convenient service offer, and enhancing digital solutions. With final concepts and locations still to be determined, the city growth plan will be inspired by how Torontonians live at home and developed based on decades of experience in the market. “The ‘new city’ approach will complement our existing stores in the market, enabling customers to shop seamlessly across all touchpoints, based on their individual needs and preferences,” says Michael Ward, CEO and chief sustainability officer. Looking forward, IKEA will continue to explore new shopping formats, digital solutions, and ways to experience with IKEA, all with the goal to be the leading multichannel home furnishings retailer.


Residential Sector To Drive Garden Pot Demand

The global gardening pots market size is expected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2025, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research. The residential sector is expected to register the fastest CAGR of six per cent from 2019 to 2025. A growing trend of the adoption of gardening among Millennials is expected to remain one of the key drivers of this growth. The trend shows that even though growing population and rapid urbanization is reducing the living space, gardening enthusiasts have been working towards continuing their interest by creating small gardening pots in balconies and kitchens. Growing interest in planting flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs in various sized containers and pots is another key factor driving the market. By product, refractory material accounted for the largest share of over 40 per cent in 2018. Polymer is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 6.4 per cent from 2019 to 2025. The commercial application segment is expected to generate US$1.4 billion by 2025 owing to growing trend of creating gardens around the public buildings.


IPEX Acquires Silver-Line Plastics

Thermoplastic piping system manufacturer IPEX has acquired Silver-Line Plastics. Silver-Line Plastics is a U.S. manufacturer of plastic pipe products with three production facilities. With this acquisition, IPEX will increase its market position in the U.S. with an expanded product portfolio serving a broader client base. IPEX is part of Aliaxis, a manufacturer and distributor of advanced plastic piping systems.


Residential Segment Leads Generac Sales

Power equipment manufacturer Generac Holdings Inc. had net sales of $601.1 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.9 per cent compared to net sales of $562.4 million in the third quarter of 2018. Cores sales growth was approximately seven per cent. Residential product sales increased 7.4 per cent year-over-year and commercial and industrial sales increased 4.1 per cent. Overall net income was $75.6 million for the quarter, in line with $75.8 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $126 million, or 21 per cent of net sales, as compared to $124.5 million, or 22.1 per cent of net sales last year.


Sales Decrease For Masonite

Masonite International Corporation had net sales of $552 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of one per cent over sales of $557 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $15 million compared to $25 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $76 million versus $71 million. North American residential net sales increased two per cent year-over-year and architectural net sales increased five per cent. Total company gross profit increased 13 per cent to $126 million and gross profit margin increased 280 basis points to 22.7 per cent.


November 7, 2019

Social Responsibility Drives Second-hand Economy

Four out of five Canadians participated in the second-hand economy in 2018, fueling a $27.3 billion second-hand economy that has grown in size annually since 2015, says the fifth annual 'Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index.' It says a major driving force behind the growth is a shift in consumer motivations towards "community-minded commerce," with Canadians increasingly driven by the altruistic and ecological benefits of exchanging used items. While financial motivations for buying and selling second-hand continue to be the leading reasons for participation in the second-hand economy, they have shrunk by four per cent over the past five years. At the same time, there has been a six per cent increase in disposal driven by altruism with consumers aiming to have a positive impact on their fellow citizens, the community, and society as a whole. Ecological motivations are also becoming more important reflecting a national focus on protecting the planet and reducing waste. In 2018 alone, Canadians gave 2.4 billion items a second life - 250 million more items than in 2014. The rate of second-hand acquisitions has grown 14 per cent since 2014.


Giant Tiger Opens Two Ontario Locations

Giant Tiger has opened stores in Windsor and Brampton, ON. The Windsor store offers 17,558 square feet of retail space and the Brampton store offers 17,793 square feet. The stores are stocked with home and family fashions, brand-name groceries, and everyday necessities. The privately-held company has over 250 locations across Canada which are locally owned or operated.


Leviton Acquires Canadian Lighting Manufacturer

Lighting and control solutions provider Leviton has acquired Viscor, a Canadian independent lighting manufacturer that specializes in lighting for architectural, commercial, medical, institutional, and industrial applications. The acquisition supports Leviton's commitment to strategically expand its lighting and controls product offering. Established in 1952, Viscor is a family-owned company that manufactures more than 150 product families. "By adding Viscor to the Leviton family, we will be able to provide a much deeper portfolio of lighting options for our customers. Equally important, Viscor's product portfolio will be further enhanced with access to our wide variety of innovative lighting control options," says Daryoush Larizadeh, president and chief operating officer of Leviton.


Spectrum Sells HQ To Investment Firm

Real estate investment firm Harbor Group International, LLC (HGI) has acquired the headquarters of Spectrum Brands. The single-tenant office building, located in Middleton, WI, is a four-story property built in 2013 and spans 252,122 rentable square feet. The investment is part of HGI's strategic goal to geographically diversify its portfolio into underserved or mispriced markets. The property is fully leased to Spectrum Brands, Inc. through 2034.


HMS To Open AR Facility

Michigan-based HMS Manufacturing Company will open a 550,000-square-foot injection moulding facility in Arkansas. The housewares and home organization product manufacturer will spend $20 million on the facility that should start production in summer of next year. Among the HMS brands are Hefty and Home Logic.


Pier 1 Fills Top Jobs

Robert Riesbeck is chief executive officer of Pier 1 Imports, Inc.; he will also continue to serve as chief financial officer. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in retail and consumer goods, including as CFO of FULLBEAUTY Brands. Donna Colaco is president. She served as executive vice-president and chief customer officer since 2018.


Commodity Prices Affect Builders FirstSource Sales

Builders FirstSource, Inc. had net sales of $2 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 6.5 per cent compared to net sales of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was partly attributable to declining lumber and lumber sheet goods sales due to the deflation in commodity prices. Sales volume per day in the single-family end market grew by an estimated 9.3 per cent, repair and remodel/other by 10.7 per cent, and multi-family by 5.8 per cent. Estimated sales volume also increased in all product categories.


November 6, 2019

October Vancouver Home Sales Soar

Residential real estate recovery in Metro Vancouver, BC, continued apace in October, with home sales soaring 45.4 per cent higher than the same month last year, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Residential resale transactions in the region totaled 2,858 in October, which is the highest number of homes sold in a single month so far this year. As well as the year-over-year jump, this total is 22.5 per cent higher than the 2,333 homes sold in September this year and 9.8 per cent above the 10-year sales average for October. "Home buyers have more confidence today than we saw in the first half of the year," said Ashley Smith, president of REBGV. "With prices edging down over the last year and interest rates remaining low, hopeful buyers are becoming more active this fall." As more home inventory was absorbed by a more active market, the number of available listings declined - exacerbated by fewer sellers listing their homes for sale in October. There were 4,074 homes listed for sale, which is down 16.4 per cent compared to the 4,873 homes listed in October 2018 and down 16.3 per cent decrease compared to September 2019 when 4,866 homes were listed. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio is 23.4 per cent, which is moving back towards a seller's market.


Strong Growth Forecast For Structural Insulated Panels Market

The global structural insulated panels market size is expected to reach US$640.4 million by 2025, progressing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 per cent over the forecast period, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Structural insulated panels are manufactured by sandwiching foaming materials with siding panels so they provide superior insulation properties. This, in addition with other properties such as high resistance value, strength, and durability, is expected to drive industry growth over the projected period. Rising demand for modern construction techniques to build energy-efficient construction units is expected to drive the product demand. As well, increasing consumer awareness about the benefits of structural insulated panels coupled with positive government outlook to support green construction activities is likely to propel product demand. Product demand in walls and floors applications is expected to register a CAGR of 4.9 per cent over the forecast period owing to increasing single-family and multi-family residential construction. North America was the largest market for structural insulated panels in 2018, accounting for 39 per cent of the market revenue share.


2020 U.S. Construction Starts Forecast To Slip Back

Total U.S. construction starts will slip to $776 billion in 2020, a decline of four per cent from the 2019 estimated level of activity, says the '2020 Dodge Construction Outlook' by Dodge Data & Analytics. The dollar value of single family housing starts will be down three per cent in 2020 and the number of units will also lose five per cent to 765,000. Affordability issues and the tight supply of entry level homes have kept demand for homes muted and buyers on the sidelines. Multi-family construction was an early leader in the recovery, stringing together eight years of growth since 2009. However, multi-family vacancy rates have moved sideways over the past year, suggesting that slower economic growth will weigh on the market next year. Multi-family starts are slated to drop 13 per cent in dollars and 15 per cent in units. The dollar value of commercial building starts will retreat six per cent in 2020, while institutional construction starts will essentially remain even with the 2019 level.


Hydro-Québec To Manufacture Smart Home Devices

Hydro-Québec's subsidiary Hilo and Québec-based Stelpro are creating a joint venture with a mandate to develop connected devices for smart homes that will contribute to efficient energy use. The joint venture will develop products designed to manage energy use, such as smart thermostats, and provide them to both partners. The equipment will be designed in Québec and manufactured in a Stelpro Group plant in Shawinigan, QC. Stelpro manufacturers and assembles Maestro smart thermostats and has a network of distribution partners.


Roseburg Opens South Carolina Wood Plant

Roseburg Forest Products has opened an engineered wood plant in Chester, SC. The company says the plant is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturing facilities of its kind and features the highest-capacity press in the world. The project was first announced in early 2017 and the construction team broke ground later that same year. The company did extensive research prior to choosing a location for the new plant, with criteria including market demand, raw materials availability and cost, and business climate. The facility will produce laminated veneer lumber (LVL) headers and beams used in residential and commercial construction.


Cordona Joins SFA SANIFLO

Teresa Cardona is marketing and communications manager for North America with SFA SANIFLO. Previously, she was marketing and social media manager for Aramark.


Acadian Timber Sales Down

Acadian Timber Corp. had net sales of $26.6 million in the third quarter of 2019, a decrease versus net sales of $27.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. Net income for the quarter was $5.9 million compared to $9.7 million while adjusted EBITDA was $6.1 million compared to $6.7 million. Net sales in the New Brunswick timberlands segment were flat, while net sales for the Maine timberlands segment decreased from $6.6 million to $6.5 million year-over-year.


Newell Brands Reduces Net Loss

Newell Brands' net sales were $2.45 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 3.8 per cent decline compared to the net sales of $2.55 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was largely attributable to the impact of foreign exchange and a 2.5 per cent decline in core sales. Gross margin was 33.1 per cent for the quarter compared with 35.9 per cent in the prior-year period. The company had a net loss of $626 million, an increase of 91.4 per cent compared to a net loss of $7.3 billion last year. The home and outdoor living segment sales increased 1.3 per cent; the learning and development segment sales decreased 3.7 per cent; the appliances and cookware segment sales decreased 3.7 per cent; and the food and commercial segment sales declined 11.3 per cent year-over-year.


November 5, 2019

Canadians Planning To Reduce Holiday Spending

In advance of Black Friday, more than half of Canadians (55 per cent) say they will be spending less on holiday gifts this year, says a survey by Equifax Canada. This comes following its ‘Q2 Consumer Credit Trends Report,’ which showed total debt per consumer rose by 1.9 per cent at the end of the second quarter in 2019. The survey says women are more likely to spend significantly less at 61 per cent versus 48 per cent of men. Canadians under the age of 55 are significantly more likely to limit their spending because they are already carrying too much debt and they have a lot of anxiety about it. Shoppers between 35 and 44 have the most concern about current debt levels (58 per cent compared to 46 per cent for the general population) and the most anxiety (49 per cent compared to 39 per cent for the general population). The majority of people surveyed, however, are working towards being financially fit for the holidays with 58 per cent of them planning to prepare a holiday budget.


U.S. Manufacturers Showing Faster Output

The U.S. manufacturing sector saw a further modest improvement in operating conditions in October, supported by faster expansions in output and new business, says the IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Rates of growth in both production and new orders accelerated to six-month highs. Subsequently, employment rose at the quickest pace since May and business confidence picked up to a four-month high. Meanwhile, rates of input price and output charge inflation softened and remained subdued, with selling prices broadly unchanged during the month. The seasonally adjusted U.S. PMI posted 51.3 in October, up slightly from 51.1 in September. The latest headline figure was the highest since April, but remained consistent with only a modest improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector. The overall rate of growth remained well below the long-run series average.


Lowe’s Banners Now Offer MultiVolt Solution

Lowe’s Canada has partnered with Metabo HPT, formerly known as Hitachi, to offer contractors, home builders, trade workers, and heavy DIYers tools equipped with its MultiVolt solution. Now available in Canada in-store and online at Lowe’s, RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace Canada, this power tool platform makes it possible to switch from a corded to a cordless power source, without losing any efficiency. The Metabo HPT MultiVolt assortment includes saws, grinders, wrenches, hammers, and drills. 


IKEA Canada Launches Family Loyalty Program

IKEA Canada has rolled-out its IKEA Family loyalty program to markets nationwide. The reimagined program is fully digital from online sign-up to a digital card and offers benefits both in-store and online. These include a free hot drink at the IKEA Restaurant, member-only discounts, home furnishings inspiration via workshops, and exclusive shopping events. IKEA Family is also the hub for the retailer's Sell-Back program, enabling customers to apply to sell their gently-used IKEA products back, in exchange for store credit. The sustainable service gives used products a second-life and has seen more than 25,000 submissions since launching earlier this year. The company will continue to evolve the loyalty program as more benefits, rewards, and engagement opportunities are added over time based on customer interaction and feedback.


Clorox Sales Down Four Per Cent

The Clorox Company had net sales of $1.5 billion for the first quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, down four per cent over net sales of $1.56 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Net sales decreased two per cent in the cleaning segment, decreased 14 per cent in the household segment, and increased four per cent in the lifestyle segment. Gross margin for the quarter increased by 60 basis points to 44 per cent from 43.4 per cent in the year-ago quarter. Earnings for the quarter were $203 million, a two per cent decrease over earnings of $210 million in the year-ago period.


Architectural Products Lead Masco Sales Increase

Masco Corporation had net sales of $1.95 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of two per cent over sales of $1.9 in the third quarter of 2018. In local currency, sales increased three per cent year-over-year. Plumbing products had a sales decrease of one per cent year-over-year, decorative architectural products had a sales increase of four per cent; and cabinetry products had a sales decrease of one per cent. Operating profit for the quarter was $316 million, up 10 per cent over operating profit of $286 million last year. The company had net income of $126 million for the quarter, down from net income of $180 million in the year-ago period.


November 4, 2019

Manufacturers Optimistic About Growth

October data signalled a modest improvement in business conditions across the Canadian manufacturing sector, driven by a sustained rebound in output and new business levels, says the IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). The index was 51.2 in October, up from a, seasonally adjusted 51 in September. This is above the crucial 50 no-change value for the second month running. The reading is the highest since February, but signalled only a marginal improvement in overall operating conditions. Faster rates of output and new order growth boosted the headline PMI in October, more than offsetting a slightly weaker contribution from the employment component. Input cost inflation accelerated from the seven-year low seen during September. Manufacturers often commented on higher commodity prices in the latest survey period. Factory gate charges nonetheless increased only slightly, with some firms noting that subdued business conditions had held back their pricing power. Looking ahead, manufacturers in Canada are optimistic overall about their prospects for growth during the next 12 months.


Lowe’s Launches Merchandising Program

Lowe’s Canada has introduced a merchandising program into its Lowe’s stores across Canada. The Merchandising Service Team (MST) was developed to ensure a steady pace in maintaining merchandising programs in the stores so they are ‘grand opening ready’ at all times. The teams comprise five to seven store associates who are exclusively trained and focused on merchandising tasks. They are responsible for executing resets and to ‘snake through the store’ to carry out bay servicing according to a precise sequence and schedule that covers the entire store. They must ensure that planograms are properly executed, labels are accurate, and product displays are maintained. They will readjust elevations, reposition products, and provide feedback to management on the merchandising strategies. The stores originally had smaller MSTs; the new system has built upon that program to ensure merchandising execution is consistent and rigorous across all stores. The MST program also benefits vendors because it increases the retailer’s speed to market and all bays and products are serviced regularly resulting in improved quality of merchandising. As well, the teams make sure the store is more attractive and the overall customer experience is enhanced.


The Wooster Brush Company Rebrands

The Wooster Brush Company is undertaking a major rebranding effort throughout 2020 which will include new logo and changes to all packaging and point-of-purchasing (POP) materials. The company says the new look refreshes its brand, offering a cohesive strategy at retail across all channels. The campaign launching to announce these elements is ‘Same Great Product, Bold New Look.’ “We were seeking ways to better tell our story,” says Ben Maibach, vice-president of sales. “We want people to instantly recognize Wooster products and to also understand why to choose Wooster over everyone else — for quality, performance, and results. We believe this new look achieves just that.” The new design features red — the company's primary colour. Newly established icons communicate the key features and benefits of each product. Most notably, the new Wooster logo incorporates a paintbrush into the mark, evoking heritage of the world's first angle sash brush which was introduced by Wooster in 1937. The rebranded products will begin shipping in January 2020.


Investors Support La Coop fédérée

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Fondaction, and Desjardins Capital will invest $300 million in La Coop fédérée, parent company of Group BMR. The proceeds of capital injection will be used to finance the capital acquisition and capital investment projects of La Coop fédérée and its divisions based on the company’s 2019-2022 strategic goals. La Coop fédérée is a Quebec-based agri-food company.


First Alert Launches Fire Spray

Home safety company First Alert has launched a spray can fire spray. First Alert Fire Spray was developed for consumers wanting a product that is easier to handle than traditional fire extinguishers during an emergency. The spray can design covers a wide surface area and contains a liquid firefighting agent that is effective on common household fires including paper, fabric, wood, cooking oil, and electrical fires. Designed specifically for developing fires, the point-and-spray technology means there are no pins to pull or levers to squeeze. The product is designed for one-time use and the patented discharge technology features an internal pouch that isolates the contents from the pressure. When the spray nozzle is pressed, only the contents are released and the propellant stays inside the can so that the fire is not agitated.


Softening Market Hurts Huttig Sales

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $215.7 million for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of 2.8 per cent compared to net sales of $222 million in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was primarily attributed to a modest softening in certain market segments and a competitive pricing environment, particularly among commodity products. Millwork product sales decreased five per cent in the quarter compared to last year; building products sales increased 3.6 per cent; and wood product sales decreased 22.7 per cent. The company had gross margin of $44.7 million in the quarter compared to $44.6 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $5.3 million versus $5.5 million last year.


Sales Rise At Simpson Manufacturing

Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. had consolidated net sales of $309.9 million for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 9.1 per cent from net sales of $284.2 million in the third quarter of 2018. North American sales increased 10.7 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $137.6 million for the quarter, up 2.8 per cent over gross profit of $133.9 million in the year-ago period. North American gross margin decreased to 45.6 per cent from 48.8 per cent last year, primarily due to increases in material, factory, overhead, and labour costs. Overall income from operations was $61 million, an increase of 2.2 per cent from $59.7 million last year. Consolidated net income was $43.7 million compared to $44.4 million.


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