Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


May 8, 2020

CTC Consolidated Sales Decrease

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited had consolidated retail sales of $2.76 billion in the first quarter of 2020, a decrease of 2.7 per cent compared to consolidated retail sales of $2.83 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Excluding petroleum, consolidated retail sales were down 2.3 per cent year-over-year. Consolidated revenue for the quarter was $2.85 billion, down 1.6 per cent compared to consolidated revenue of $2.89 billion last year. Excluding petroleum, consolidated revenue decreased one per cent. Canadian Tire retail sales increased 2.2 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and comparable sales were up 0.7 per cent. Revenue was $1.4 billion, up four per cent over revenue of $1.35 billion last year.

Ontario Eases Restrictions On Retailers

The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores, and safety supply stores. However, business owners should review the health and safety guidelines developed by the province and its health and safety association partners. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases on May 9, while garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases May 8. On May 11, retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery, in accordance with the Ministry of Health's ‘Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces’ and occupational health and safety requirements. In addition to easing restrictions on retail, the government is also expanding essential construction to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue.

Consumer Loyalty High For Outdoor Equipment Repair Parts

On average, 39 per cent of people who own a specific brand of outdoor power equipment (OPE) will buy replacement parts or products that are the same brand as the OPE product, says TraQline’s ‘Maintenance and Replacement Parts’ survey for 2019. Replacement and maintenance parts are most frequently bought for mowers (both walk-behind and zero turn/riding) and least frequently bought for hedge trimmers and snow throwers. The most commonly purchased repair and maintenance parts are oil and spark plugs for lawn mowers, trimmer lines for line/string trimmers, and chains for chain saws. The survey also says that about 17 per cent of consumers don’t know the brand name of the replacement parts they purchased. As well, about 15 per cent of all replacement parts were purchased online.

Demirkaya Appointed Chief Accounting Officer

Onur Demirkaya has been promoted to chief accounting officer at Foundation Building Materials, Inc. He joined the company as vice-president of finance and accounting in2014.

Higher Commodity Prices Drive Taiga Sales

Taiga Building Products Ltd. had consolidated net sales of $320.3 million for the first quarter of 2020, and increase of 11 per cent compared to net sales of $287.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was largely due to increased selling prices for commodity products. Gross margin for the quarter increased to $30.6 million from $27.5 million over the same period last year. Net earnings were $6.6 million compared to $4.7 million in the year-ago period and EBITDA was $13.1 million compared to $11.1 million.

May 7, 2020

Greater Vancouver Home Sales Down

Residential home sales in Greater Vancouver, BC, totalled 1,109 in April, down 39.4 per cent from 1,829 sales in April 2019 and down 56.1 per cent from 2,524 homes sold in March 2020, says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). April’s sales were 62.7 per cent below the 10-year April sales average and was the lowest total for the month since 1982. There were 2,313 detached, attached, and apartment properties newly listed for sale in Metro Vancouver in April. This represents a 59.7 per cent decrease compared to the 5,742 homes listed in April 2019 and a 47.9 per cent decrease compared to March 2020 when 4,436 homes were listed. The total number of homes currently listed for sale in Metro Vancouver is 9,389, a 34.6 per cent decrease compared to April 2019 (14,357) and a 2.3 per cent decrease compared to March 2020 (9,606). REBGV says real estate agents are responding to COVID-19 containment measures by using different technologies to showcase homes virtually, assess neighbourhood amenities with clients, and handle paperwork.

COVID-19 Impacts GTA Residential Sales

In the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) there were 2,975 home sales in April, down 67 per cent compared to April 2019, says the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). New listings amounted to 6,174 for the month, down 64.1 per cent compared to April 2019. “The necessary social distancing and economic impacts associated with COVID-19 clearly impacted home sales and listings throughout April 2020,” says Michael Collins, president of TRREB. “However, [real estate agents] have been able to facilitate some transactions on behalf of buyers and sellers through the use of innovative techniques including virtual open houses. TRREB has also provided a live ‘streamvirtualopen house’ option on member listings featured on our public websites, and I would expect the use of these innovative techniques to increase as some level of social distancing remains in place for the foreseeable future.”

U.S. Consumers Want Touchless Fixtures

U.S. consumers are looking for touchless hand washing fixtures in washrooms as they prepare to return to public life in the age of COVID-19, says a report by commercial plumbing fixtures manufacturer Bradley Corp. The report says 91 per cent of consumers believe it’s extremely or somewhat important that public restrooms are equipped with touchless fixtures and 60 per cent say their preference for touchless hand washing fixtures has risen a great deal since the pandemic. Another insight is the fact that consumers have reordered their priorities as to how facilities should improve their restrooms. “Making everything touchless is now the most-requested improvement,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. “Just months ago in December 2019, the most desired upgrade was keeping restrooms cleaner and better stocked. In both cases, it’s clear that Americans have grown more averse to germ hot-spots in restrooms.”

Norbord Earnings Up

Norbord Inc. had adjusted EBITDA of $75 million for the first quarter of 2020 compared to adjusted EBITDA of $42 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was primarily driven by higher realized North American OSB prices and lower raw material and energy prices. The company also reduced North American unit manufacturing costs by four per cent year-over-year. North American operations generated adjusted EBITDA of $68 million compared to $23 million in the year-ago period and European operations delivered adjusted EBITDA of $10 million compared to $21 million last year. The company had adjusted earnings of $21 million compared to an adjusted loss of $2 million.

Sales Slide At PPG

PPG had net sales of approximately $3.4 billion for the first quarter of 2020, down seven per cent versus net sales in the first quarter of 2019. Selling prices increased more than one per cent and sales volumes were down eight per cent year-over-year. The company also estimates an impact of $225 million from the COVID-19 pandemic. Net income for the quarter was $243 million compared to $312 million last year and adjusted net income was $282 million compared to $330 million. The performance coatings segment net sales were down nearly five per cent versus the prior year and the industrial coatings segment net sales were down 10 per cent.

May 6, 2020

Small Business Feeling COVID-19 Impact

The majority of Canadian small business owners (81 per cent) say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their operations, and many (32 per cent) worry about the viability of their business over the next year, says a study by CIBC. However, optimism for the longer term remains strong with most business owners with three-quarters confident they can rebound after the crisis. The majority (85 per cent) agree the uncertainty of how long COVID-19 measures will last is currently the hardest aspect to manage. More than half of business owners (54 per cent) say sales have dropped due to the impact of the pandemic, and an additional 28 per cent have had to temporarily shut down operations altogether. Most have made significant changes to weather the crisis, including reducing operating expenses (34 per cent), dipping into savings (29 per cent), laying off staff (25 per cent), and applying for more credit (15 per cent). Close to one-in-three (29 per cent) feel it will take a year or two to get back to pre-COVID business volumes.

Shopify Launches Omni-channel POS System

Shopify has released its rebuilt Shopify POS system for omni-channel businesses that is designed to bring in-person and online sales together in one place. The POS unit is included with all Shopify plans and merchants with brick-and-mortar locations can use Shopify POS Pro, a set of tools built specifically for retail stores. Shopify POS features simplified omni-channel management, flexibility for increased selling, increased options as businesses re-open, mobile checkout, and an intuitive smart grid feature with shortcuts.

Castle Launches Trust Fund

Castle Building Centres Group Limited’s trust fund for two boys who lost their parents in the tragedy in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19 is now accepting donations. Castle members Kurt and Tina Gratto of Masstown Hardware Castle Building Supplies lost their daughter Jamie Blair and her husband Greg Blair. Jamie and Greg’s sons, Jack, 10, and Alexander, 12, managed to escape unharmed and are now the care of their stepbrother. “The tragic loss of their parents at such a young age is unimaginable and the outpouring of sympathy and support has been nothing short of incredible,” says Castle in a press release. “The family is very grateful to our industry community during this stressful time, as they grieve their loss and adapt to this new reality.” The team at Castle wanted to offer the children a legacy of hope through this tragedy, so the buying group established the Jack and Alexander Blair Trust to offer the children access to funds that will assist in giving them a brighter future. Contributions will go towards meeting their future needs for cost of living, education, health, as well as extra-curricular activities such as sports and hobbies. The funds will be held in trust until they reach the age of majority. For more information, visit Castle Trust Fund

Rendle Promoted To President Of Clorox

Linda Rendle is president of the Clorox Company. She has been with the company for 17 years, most recently as executive vice-president – cleaning, international, strategy, and operations.

HDI Has Strong First Quarter

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI) had sales of $325.1 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 13.2 per cent compared to sales of $287.1 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in sales was a result of sales performance, acquisitions, and favourable foreign exchange translation. Gross profit margin was 19.3 per cent for the quarter compared to 17.8 per cent in the year-ago period. Profit for the quarter was $9.4 million compared to $3.4 million last year, an increase of 57.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA grew 31.7 per cent to $22.8 million, from $17.3 million last year.

May 5, 2020

Business Survey Shows Economic Clock Is Ticking

Businesses may not have much time before they close their doors if they have to remain closed or open with restrictive measures due to COVID-19, says a report by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The 'Canadian Survey on Business Conditions' (CSBC) says 42.4 per cent of businesses, due to a lack of a cash buffer, couldn't operate longer than 60 days without a source of revenue and 51.1 per cent couldn't operate longer than 90 days. More than 80 per cent of businesses have already experienced a medium to high drop in demand for products and services since containment measures have been put in place. Even if they are allowed to remain open, 17.5 per cent of businesses say they can not remain open at all with social distancing measures in place, while 22.2 per cent could survive only three months amid social distancing, 11.9 per cent could survive three to six months, and 32.1 per cent could remain open longer than six months. However, many businesses are exploring other opportunities, such as altered methods of production, altered selection of products or services, new methods to interact with customers, and other channels to market such as eCommerce.

CFIB Welcomes Careful Reopening Of Economy

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it welcomes the careful, phased approach to the reopening of the economy which began May 4 in several provinces. Until then, 80 per cent of small firms were closed (fully or partially) with 20 per cent fully open. Alarmingly, over 40 per cent report that they may permanently close if the current restrictions remain in place until the end of May. Therefore, it is good news that some businesses in some provinces will be permitted to serve customers once again, says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB. "Small, independent businesses are more naturally able to adjust to the need for ongoing physical distancing given they serve far fewer customers than big box stores. Learning from the grocery model of limiting the number of customers in-store, disinfecting between customers, and barriers at checkouts where needed, small firms can be part of the solution if given the opportunity." However, it will be a messy recovery, he says. "Employees may be nervous to return to work or prefer to remain on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Protective equipment may be difficult to find and employers may not be sure what the rules of the game are. My advice for governments, business owners, employees, and customers is let's be patient, careful, and respect each other's perspectives. We are in new territory – not everything will be clear or in place as it should. And we need to listen to the advice of medical officers. An uptick in COVID-19 cases or a handful of 'yahoos' may prompt a quick end to the phased reopening."

Goodfellow To Distribute Fortress Framing Products

Texas-based Fortress Building Products, a manufacturer of fencing, framing, and fastener products, has extended its distribution partnership with Canadian materials distributor Goodfellow Inc. to deliver Fortress Evolution Steel Deck Framing across the Canadian market. Goodfellow also distributes Fortress Railing products. Fortress Evolution is a deck framing system made of uniform light-gauge steel. They system's design allows for integration with any type of brand of decking, such as composite, PVC, aluminum, tile, wood, and tropical hardwoods.

Lowe's Canada Extends Hourly Wage Premium

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Lowe's Canada will extend the temporary $2 an hour wage premium for all eligible full-time, part-time, and seasonal hourly associates working at Lowe's, RONA, or Reno-Depot corporate stores, contact centres, and supply chain facilities in Canada to the hours they work throughout the month of May. "We want to continue supporting our associates who may be going through hardships, as well as recognize their amazing efforts and resilience as they work tirelessly to serve our customers while adapting our way of doing things to our new reality," says Tony Hurst, president of Lowe's Canada. The retailer also continues its spring hiring campaign as it looks to fill 3,000 seasonal and regular positions.

Residential Construction Improves Huttig Sales

Huttig Building Products, Inc. had net sales of $203 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 2.8 per cent over net sales of $197.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in net sales was primarily attributed to an increase in new residential construction. Millwork product sales increased 0.9 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period, building products sales increased 5.1 per cent, and wood product sales increased 1.4 per cent. Overall gross margin was $40.9 million compared to $37.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 20.1 per cent compared to 18.9 per cent last year. The company had a net loss of $8.9 million compared to a net loss of $3.2 million in the year-ago period and adjusted EBITDA was $3.5 million compared to a loss of $0.3 million.

May 4, 2020

Provinces Begin Process Of Re-opening Businesses

Several provincial governments have set dates for the gradual reopening of businesses after restrictions were placed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. All business that do open are required to follow strict guidelines and measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19. As part of the first of three phases, the government of Ontario will allow certain, mostly seasonal, businesses to reopen May 4. Businesses allowed to open include garden centres for curbside pick-up and lawn care and landscaping companies as well as a number of essential construction projects. The government of Quebec will gradually open schools and select businesses outside of Montreal on May 4 and the construction industry will be allowed to fully reopen May 11. The government of British Columbia has not set any dates for reopening yet as it waits until there are several days of no new cases of COVID-19 first. It has, however, extended its state of emergency for another two weeks starting April 29. The Manitoba government will allow retailers to open May 4, but hasn't released plans for a full reopening yet. In Alberta, some retailers are expected to reopen May 14 as the first part of the government's three-phase program. The second and third phase are contingent on the success of the first. Some retailers in Saskatchewan will start reopening May 19 as the second of a five-phase plan. Garden centres and nurseries can open in Nova Scotia as the government eased some of its public health restrictions. Certain construction projects were allowed to resume May 1 in Prince Edward Island, as the first part of a four-phase plan. The second phase will allow some retailers to open May 22. The Newfoundland and Labrador government is working with 'alert levels' and will descend from level five to four on May 4 which will allow low-risk businesses, including garden centres, to open.

Canada Entered Recession In First Quarter

Preliminary data suggests Canada entered a recession in the first quarter of 2020 with a February peak, says the C.D. Howe Institute’s Business Cycle Council. The Council defines a recession as a pronounced, persistent, and pervasive decline in aggregate economic activity. It looked at Statistics Canada’s estimate data that shows a nine per cent drop in March GDP resulting in a quarterly drop of 2.6 per cent – the largest one quarter drop in GDP on record. The magnitude of the contraction makes it extremely unlikely that any future adjustments will overturn the conclusion of a major drop in economic activity in the first quarter. On top of that, labour force survey data indicate a 1.5 per cent drop in total employment in the first quarter, with a 5.3 per cent drop in March alone. Further GDP revisions will occur which may impact the peak month, but are extremely unlikely to be significant enough to alter the recession call for the first quarter of 2020, says the Council.

U.S. Home Improvement Spending To Decline

Expenditures for home improvements to the owner-occupied housing stock in the U.S. are anticipated to decline in most of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas this year in response to the severe economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Even before the pandemic hit, nearly all of the 47 tracked metros were expected to see slowdowns in improvement spending through 2020, with growth of one to five per cent expected in 37 metros and declines in only nine metros. Revising these projections based on the estimated effect of the pandemic on national remodeling spending, the COVID-adjusted projections show annual homeowner remodeling spending will likely contract in the majority of metros (24), while only 15 could still see gains (one to three per cent) relative to 2019 activity. With the country still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is substantial uncertainty about how long the economic downturn will last and how quickly a recovery will take hold.

Taiga To Adopt Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Taiga Building Products Ltd. intends to adopt the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, revenues of the company have been reduced by approximately 30 per cent in April and the decline is expected to continue until at least the end of May. The company expects to incur significant revenue losses for the second fiscal quarter as a result. It is reviewing all aspects of operations to ensure it continues to thrive and says it is well positioned once the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Lowe's Canada Banners To Stay Open Later

Starting May 4, all Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores will close at 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., except in the province of Quebec where provincial law states that no store can be open after 5 p.m. on weekends and where stores must be closed on Sundays in May. The change is part of Lowe's Canada's strategy to adapt operations to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The company says this measure will help spread out the volume of in-store customer visits while keeping additional time for essential product replenishment and enhanced store cleaning and disinfecting activities.

DEWALT Debuts Cordless Roofing Nailer

DEWALT has added the 20V MAX 15° Coil Roofing Nailer to its 20V MAX System. Optimized for small jobsite applications, this nailer is ideal for service and repair jobs, small production work, flashing, and shingling around windows, skylights, and vents. The nailer drives 500 nails per charge, can fire up to three nails per second, and can install up to one square (100 square feet) of asphalt roofing shingles per charge at four nails per shingle using a 2.0Ah battery. It features bump actuation mode and tool-free depth adjustment for precise nailing and a tool-free stall release that returns the driver blade in the event of a jam.

Disinfectant Sales Soar For Clorox

The Clorox Company had net sales of $1,783 million for the third quarter of its fiscal 2020 year, an increase of 15 per cent over net sales of $1,551 million in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 year. The company says it had extraordinary growth in its disinfecting products and across all four segments of its portfolio that are all uniquely positioned to serve consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cleaning segment sales increased by 32 per cent year-over-year; the household segment sales increased by two per cent; and the lifestyle segment sales increased by 10 per cent. Third-quarter gross margin increased 330 basis points year-over-year to 46.7 per cent. Earnings were $241 million, up 31 per cent compared to earnings of $187 million last year.

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