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News

December 6, 2019

Canadian Growth To Continue Amid Uncertainty

Canada's economic outlook for 2020 is improving slightly as a result of growth in the real estate market, residential investment, and household consumption, although a number of factors that contributed to the 2019 slowdown remain, says Pierre Cléroux, vice-president, research and chief economist at BDC. In BDC’s ‘2020 Economic Outlook,’ he says these conditions should translate into a growth rate of about 1.7 per cent for the Canadian economy in 2020. Canadian households are the engine that are powering the economy, says Cléroux. Households have finally adapted to restrictive provincial policies, the introduction of the stress test, and interest rates. Part of the rebound in household investment is due to labour market strength. Unemployment rates have reached historic lows in multiple provinces and, although many businesses are struggling with a lack of employees, labour shortages are driving up wages. As well, mortgage rates began to fall mid-year after over a year of stable interest rates. Cléroux says the Bank of Canada will likely be reluctant to cut rates considering that a decline could worsen the financial situation of households. 2020 should be marked by a recovery in the real estate market, residential investment, and household consumption. British Columbia and Quebec will continue to lead the pack, while the biggest improvement is expected in the Prairies after a rather difficult 2019. The Maritime provinces should continue to post positive growth as a result of population increases, particularly in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.


Walmart Canada Opens eCommerce Fulfillment Facility

Walmart Canada have opened a dedicated and purpose-built distribution centre (DC) in Mississauga, ON. At approximately 450,000 square feet, the DC is the main facility dedicated to fulfilling Walmart Canada's online orders. It was designed to be a flexible, scalable solution for logistics and fulfillment that is part of Walmart's strategy to continue growing its eCommerce business in Canada. The retailer sought SCI Canada’s support to develop a customized supply chain solution that streamlines operations. The facility maximizes storage through a four-level, 70,000-square-foot pick platform for storing and picking smaller items and pallet racking for larger and higher volume items. It is equipped with intelligence software that provides real-time visibility to operations and is fully integrated with SCI's warehouse management system. It boasts automation that improves capacity and uses conveyors to transport materials to one of five zones on each level and complete pick totes to a put-wall area from both the platform and pallet racks.


Ace Agassiz Builders’ Opens Bigger Store

Lowe’s Canada affiliate store Ace Agassiz Builders’ Ltd. Has officially inaugurated its new building in Agassiz, BC. Located a kilometre from the previous site, the TeBrinke family, who own the business, has invested $1.8 million to build the location that is almost three times the size of its predecessor. The store boasts 4,750 square feet of retail space with an 800-square-foot adjacent garden centre, a 5,000-square-foot indoor lumberyard in a separate building, and a 23,000-square-foot outdoor lumberyard. Local customers now have access to additional categories such as outdoor equipment and seasonal products. The retailer also offers a wider assortment in existing categories such as tools, plumbing, lighting, and paint. The TeBrinke family is planning an official grand opening in the spring. In the meantime, they are looking to add even more features to their store, such as an appliance department and eCommerce capabilities.


Velux Group Makes Organizational Changes

The VELUX Group, a Danish-based company, has created Group North America, a single operation management team for North America. The group will oversee residential, commercial, and production operations. Timothy B. Miller will be chief executive officer of the group. He is currently president of VELUX America, LLC. Chuck Rimsky will be president of VELUX Greenwood, LLC. He is currently director of product development. Stephan Moyon will be president of VELUX America, LLC, the U.S. sales and marketing company. All organizational changes will be effective January 1. There will be no structural changes to VELUX Canada Inc.


December 5, 2019

Vancouver Home Buying Activity Returns To Typical Levels

After a quieter first half of 2019, home buyer activity has returned to more historically typical levels in metro Vancouver, BC, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). Home sales in the region totalled 2,498 in November, a 55.3 per cent increase from the 1,608 sales recorded in November 2018, and a 12.6 per cent decline from the 2,858 homes sold in October 2019. Last month’s sales were four per cent above the 10-year November sales average. There were 2,987 detached, attached, and apartment homes newly listed for sale for the month. This represents a 13.7 per cent decrease compared to November 2018 and a 26.7 per cent decrease compared to October 2019. Sales of detached homes reached 825, a 59.9 per cent increase from last year. Attached home sales totalled 451, a 59.9 per cent increase.


Preparing For Tax Returns Now Can Mean Savings

Canadian private business owners can reduce balance owing and increase refund potential by preparing for tax returns now instead of April, says EY Canada. “Tax rules evolve every year, and it's important for private business owners to know how these changes will affect their private company,” says Ken Kyriacou, tax partner, private client services. “Planning now for 2020 taxes may seem a little premature but, it can mean the difference between big savings or bigger disappointments. Getting a head-start can minimize the income tax you pay on 2019 tax returns.” EY suggests Canadian private business owners consider these questions to identify savings opportunities on their 2019 tax bill and beyond: Are there any income-splitting techniques available to you? Do you hold passive income? Do you income-split your private company business earnings with adult family members? Did you conduct training? and Have you thought about estate planning? For more information, visit EY Canada Tax Matters


Diablo Launches Hammer Bit Line

Diablo has launched a full-range of SDS-Plus and SDS-Max Rebar Demon four-cutter, full carbide head hammer bits for concrete with rebar applications. These bits are designed for drilling fast, precise holes without the need of changing to a rebar cutter to drill concrete with rebar, delivering savings in time and money. Produced with ‘Tri-Metal Diffusion Bonding’ technology, the full-carbide head resists heat and prevents breakage. The bits’ precision tips deliver stability and accuracy required to produce holes in concrete with rebar for ANSI-approved anchor setting. All Diablo hammer bits feature Dura-Carbide, which withstands heavy impact and high-heat applications, extending life versus standard bits. The bits also feature a four-flute design for speed, providing faster dust removal, less wear, cleaner holes, and faster drilling. Diablo hammer bits work best with corded and cordless SDS Plus and SDS Max rotary hammers.


Kuepfer Named Director, Communications

Jessica Kuepfer is director, communications at Home Hardware Stores Limited. Previously, she was marketing manager, public relations. She has been with the company for almost six years.


Strong Sales For Dollarama

Dollarama Inc. had sales of $947.6 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 9.6 per cent compared to sales of $864.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable store sales grew 5.3 per cent in the quarter compared to last year. Gross margin was 43.7 per cent of sales compared to 44.3 per cent of sales last year. Net earnings increased to $138.6 million compared to $132.1 million in the year-ago period.


December 4, 2019

Business Leaders Uncertain About Economic Outlook

Optimism and pessimism about the economy are running neck and neck, says a survey by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). Optimism about the Canadian economy over the next 12 months is at 28 per cent among professional accountants in leadership positions. Meanwhile, another 28 per cent report feeling pessimistic. The largest group took no position, with 44 per cent reporting neither optimism nor pessimism. Optimism among business leaders is down from the second quarter of the year when it was at 31 per cent, while pessimism is up from 24 per cent. The survey was carried out shortly after the recent federal election; worth noting is that 10 per cent of Canadian business leaders say having a minority government is the top challenge to economic growth in this country. However, a minority government only rates fifth on the list of worries, trailing general uncertainty around the Canadian economy (15 per cent), U.S. protectionism, the state of the U.S. economy, and the lack of skilled workers (all three tied at 11 per cent). The survey also says that almost half of respondents (48 per cent) are optimistic about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months, with 18 per cent being pessimistic and 33 per cent neutral. When assessing the next year, 66 per cent predict their businesses will see increased revenues, 59 per cent are foreseeing increased profits, and 45 per cent anticipate an increase in employee numbers.


Peter Kohler Passes Away

Peter Kohler, founder of Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems, passed away December 3 at his winter home in Florida. He was 77 years old. Kohler founded Kohler Windows, now Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems, almost 40 years ago with four employees and built one of the most respected window and door brands in Canada. He devoted his life to the window and door industry and won many awards for his accomplishments both regionally and nationally. He retired in 2010 after selling the company to his management team. Kohltech will announce funeral and memorial arrangements as they become available.


Vinyl To Dominate Window Sales

Global demand for windows is forecast to increase 4.5 per cent per year to $138 billion in 2023, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Vinyl windows are projected to account for the fastest growth in value terms, spurred by cost and performance advantages of PVC products, rising income levels, and more stringent energy efficiency requirements, which support purchases of higher quality, costlier products. Metal windows will, however, continue to account for the leading share of window sales, buoyed by their prevalence in non-residential buildings and multifamily housing units, where the material’s durability and low maintenance requirements are favoured. Wood is projected to continue losing market share and will post the weakest performance among material types through 2023 as the penetration rate of vinyl and fibreglass windows continues to increase throughout the world.


ToughBuilt Finds Success With Amazon Storefronts

Construction tool and accessory manufacturer ToughBuilt Industries, Inc. had sales over $1.8 million in the initial seven months of operation in its U.S. and Canadian Amazon storefronts. This is an annualized run rate of $3.5 million, which is 40 per cent higher than the run rate ToughBuilt announced in May. The company says these sales were achieved with a gradual increase of product offerings to the storefronts, with products also being sold throughout Europe, Australia, and other international destinations.


December 3, 2019

Retailers Not Utilizing AI, ML

Only 10 per cent of retail businesses are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), says the ‘State of SMB Finance’ report by ScaleFactor. The report says that small- to mid-size retail businesses are hiring employees, but avoiding technology adoption and implementation. In fact, retail businesses are the most reluctant to implement AI or machine learning (ML) solutions into their workflow, with just 10 per cent adopting and 40 per cent indicating they are not interested in this technology. Despite disinterest, 44 per cent of retail businesses say they do not find the process of implementing AI or ML challenging, the highest of all industries. For those that do implement technology solutions, 85 per cent of small businesses report it is utilized primarily for bookkeeping. Additionally, retail businesses report the highest tech usage for financial forecasting purposes, with almost double the amount of technology implementation versus other industries.


Growth Forecast For Mineral Wool Insulation Market

Demand for mineral wool insulation is expected to rise 3.6 per cent annually through 2023 to 1.6 million pounds valued at $755 million, says a report from the Freedonia Group. Demand growth will be the fastest of any material type due to increasingly stringent fire safety codes, which mineral wool is better able to accommodate than other materials; its cost effectiveness relative to several more widely used materials; and rising interest in installing acoustic insulation in the interior of residential homes and in new hospitals, offices, high rises, and educational facilities. In the residential market, mineral wool insulation demand will be driven by the need to meet fire safety codes in single-family residences and high-rise apartment buildings, as well as the increased use of loose fill product forms in attic applications. Further boosting demand will be rising shipments of industrial and HVAC equipment, where mineral wool is commonly specified because of the importance of fire safety in these applications.


AZEK Announces 2020 Product Lineup

AZEK Building Products will release a lineup of products for 2020 in its TimberTech AZEK, TimberTech PRO, and TimberTech EDGE decking lines. The TimberTech Multi-Width Decking is now available in two 7.25-inch wide width boards in the Harvest Collection in Brownstone and Slate Grey. MAX boards are also available in TimberTech AZEK in a 1.5-inch thickness in two greys - Coastline from the Vintage Collection and Slate Grey from the Harvest Collection. Additionally, the TimberTech PRO Decking line has added the Reserve Collection which features four colours and a natural, matte finish. The TimberTech EDGE Decking line now includes the new Prime+ Collection that has two blended colours with a tight, straight-grain embossing pattern. The boards feature a scalloped profile.


Construction Segment Leads Deere Sales

Deere & Company had net income of $722 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, a decrease of eight per cent compared to net income of $785 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net sales were $9.9 billion, up five per cent compared to $9.4 billion in the year-ago period. The agriculture and turf segment had a three per cent increase in net sales year-over-year; the equipment operations segment had a four per cent increase in net sales; and construction and forestry had an eight per cent increase in net sales.


December 2, 2019

‘Showrooming’ Major Problem

‘Showrooming’ – when shoppers visit local businesses to try out or learn about a product, but then buy it from a big box store or online competitor – is a major problem for independent merchants heading into the busy holiday season, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In fact, 60 per cent of independent retailers say they have experienced showrooming, with a third of those saying it's having a significant impact on their business. "When customers go into independent stores to ask questions or try on merchandise and then take a picture or write down a model number so they can buy the item online, they might not be aware that they're not just taking away a sale, they're taking money away from their neighbourhoods. These are the shops that support local kids' hockey teams or donate to the community foodbank every Christmas," says Dan Kelly, CFIB's president. "They care about their customers and want to help and share their expertise, but their rent, their property taxes, and their employees need to be paid. Ultimately, when consumers take up the time of local retailers, but spend their money elsewhere, it's our communities that suffer." Shoppers aged 18 to 34 were more likely than older consumers to showroom shop, with three out of four admitting to having done it


Retail Sales Stumble Along

Canadian retail sales growth just keeps stumbling along slowly, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Total retail sales gained just 1.5 per cent year-over-year on a not seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter, a smidgen above the 1.4 per cent second quarter gain, but a drop from the 1.8 per cent increase in the first quarter of the year. After nine months of 2019, Canadian retail sales are up only 1.6 per cent compared to a year ago. That doesn't even cover price inflation and population growth. The underlying 12-month trend continues to dwindle and could end the year at an increase of about 1.5 per cent, which would make 2019 the slowest growth year since the Great Recession of 2009. Building material and garden equipment and supplies merchants were up 5.4 per cent in the quarter, which is a significant recovery from the 0.9 per cent gain for the first half of the year. Canadian eCommerce sales were up 31.4 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending September 2019. This was much higher than for location based retail which gained just 1.5 per cent.


Strong Growth Forecast For Smart Fridge Market

The global smart refrigerator market was valued at US$322.41 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $1,008.91 million by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 per cent over the forecast period, says a report from Brandessence Market Research. Smart refrigerators detect the type of items stored within and, using barcodes and RFID systems, keep track of details like expiration dates for food. They can connect with smartphones and provide information and even let owners know if the door was left open. Samsung last year launched a smart fridge that can recognize voices and provide personalized information. Increasing urbanization, disposable income, and rising adoption of smart devices is driving the market. As well, increasing technological advancements like wireless connectivity through smart phones and other smart devices is expected to positively impact the growth of the global smart refrigerator market. However, high cost is the hindering factor of the smart refrigerator market.


Texting Could Provide Competitive Advantage

Sixty-nine per cent of consumers across all age groups would like to be able to contact a business via text and 54 per cent are frustrated when they are unable to do so, says a report by EZ Texting, a provider of SMS marketing software for business. Overwhelmingly, businesses are unaware of consumers' communication preferences, with 54 per cent of consumers wanting to receive text promotions, but only 11 per cent of businesses delivering them. This means 89 per cent of businesses miss the opportunity to connect with consumers the way they want to be communicated with. Similarly, 83 per cent of consumers would like to receive appointment reminders via text, but less than 20 per cent of businesses utilize text to communicate. Additionally, despite the fact that consumers are 4.5 times more likely to respond to a text message than an eMail, businesses are still three times more likely to communicate with customers via eMail. This means that communicating with consumers via their preferred method – texting – can provide businesses with a competitive advantage. Those businesses that do use texting are seeing this already with 86 per cent reporting that texting offers higher engagement than eMail.


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