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 22, 2020

Home Hardware To Host Virtual Fall Market

Following the success of its first ever virtual market – the ‘2020 Spring Market’ – Home Hardware Stores Limited will hold its ‘2020 Fall Market’ as a virtual event as well. The spring market was held in April and had 3,618 attendees and supplier-partners at the event. “We are pleased with the success of our ‘2020 Spring Market’ and are excited to continue to build on the experience and capabilities for our fall event,” says Kevin Macnab, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited. “From delivering presentations in a virtual auditorium to engaging with our supplier-partners in a virtual tradeshow, we are able to offer our dealers a quality market experience, even in these unprecedented times.” The fall market will take place virtually from September 13 to 20. It is not open to the public.

BSIA Recognizes TIMBER MART Distribution Facility

TIMBER MART’s lumber and building material (LBM) distribution centre in Langley, BC, was presented with the ‘2020 Orion Supplier of the Year Award’ from the Building Supply Industry Association of British Columbia (BSIA). Alex Stanculescu, warehouse supervisor at the distribution centre, was also recognized with the ‘Orion Customer Service Award.’ “We are very proud of our team in Langley for being recognized by our members and customers for their dealer-centric approach to service,” says John Morrissey vice-president of distribution and trading at TIMBER MART. The Langley facility is situated on three-and-a-half acres of land that encompasses a 27,000 square-foot warehouse and roughly three acres of yard. The facility offers commodity products such as lumber, plywood, OSB, roofing, and insulation as well as seasonal and allied products through its weekly truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) delivery options. The distribution centre also offers online ordering of building materials to independent dealers throughout British Columbia. The facility is one of three that belong to TIMBER MART’s network of LBM distribution centres which includes one in Mount Forest, ON, and one in St-Nicolas, QC.

Shopify Launches Tools For Small Business

Shopify Inc. has launched a number of tools for small businesses to help them in areas like finance, retail, and shipping to navigate an ever-evolving retail landscape and plan for the future amid COVID-19. Among the tools is Shopify Balance, which will give merchants access to financial products. It includes a balance account, card, and rewards with no monthly fees or minimum balances. Shop Pay Installments is a ‘buy now, pay later’ option merchants can offer to customers at checkout. Local Delivery is a tool that allows merchants globally to define a local delivery area and set fees and minimum order prices. As well, the Shopify Fulfillment Network, which launched in 2019, has graduated from its early access stage, and is actively accepting merchant applications. It allows merchants to join, scale, and evolve their fulfillment strategies through its growing partner network. The company has also increased options for merchants to customize their online stores. It will soon launch Shop, a direct-to-consumer app and personal shopping assistant, and has launched Facebook and Instagram Shops allowing merchants to build branded versions of their online store on these channels.

Simpson Strong-Tie Launches Screw Anchor Line

Simpson Strong-Tie has introduced the Titen Turbo line of concrete and masonry screw anchors that feature a patented thread design to deliver smooth driving with less torque and more holding power. The screw anchors are ideal for attaching all types of fixtures to concrete and masonry and feature a torque-reduction channel to trap drilling dust where it can’t obstruct thread action, reducing binding, stripping, and snapping without compromising strength. The patented reverse thread design also allows more space for dust to help prevent anchors from bottoming out in smaller-diameter screw holes. The anchors are available with either a hex head or a six-lobe countersunk head and feature a serrated leading edge to cut into concrete or masonry and a pointed tip for installation in wood-to-concrete and wood-to-wood anchoring applications.

Ace Hardware Has Strong First Quarter

Ace Hardware Corporation had revenues of $1.43 billion for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 3.8 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019. Net income was $36.2 million for the quarter, an increase of 60.2 per cent compared to net income of $22.6 million the year-ago period. U.S. same-store sales were up 4.2 per cent year-over-year, partially due to an increased average ticket. Online revenues were up 63 per cent year-over-year. Total wholesale revenues increased 1.5 per cent from last year, with increases noted across several departments, with power tools, cleaning supplies, and grilling showing the largest gains. Total retail revenues increased 41.4 per cent compared to the prior-year first quarter.

May 21, 2020

Vehicle Sector Weighs On Wholesale Trade

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread throughout the economy, wholesale sales fell 2.2 per cent to $63.9 billion in March, following three consecutive monthly gains, says Statistics Canada. Three of the seven subsectors recorded lower sales, accounting for 29 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector contributed the most to the decline. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales rose 2.1 per cent. In volume terms, wholesale sales dropped 2.8 per cent. Over three-quarters (75.9 per cent) of wholesalers saw their business activity impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with lower sales volumes caused by the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses. Wholesale inventories edged up 0.1 per cent in March, to $92 billion. Wholesalers reported an estimated reduction of $2.5 billion (unadjusted) in inventories because of COVID-19. Construction activity in most of Canada also ground to a halt. As a result, sales of construction equipment and supplies are starting to suffer. The building materials and supplies sector wholesale sales were down 3.7 per cent, with the lumber, millwork, hardware, and other building supplies subsector up 1.7 per cent year-over year.

Canfor Implements Further Curtailments

Canfor Pulp Products Inc. will curtail production at its Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp facilities, both in Prince George, BC, for approximately four weeks starting July. “We have made the difficult decision to temporarily curtail Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp due to the major global economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of economically viable fibre in the region,” says Don Kayne, chief executive officer of Canfor Pulp.

RCC, BCG Release Guide For Retailer Reopening

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have released ‘Road to Retail Recovery Playbook – Helping Canadian Retailers Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis,’ a guide to help retailers of all sizes plan for the broader reopening of retail stores across the country. The Playbook leverages global best practices for a diverse range of retail formats with the fundamental aim of ensuring a safe environment for employees and customers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Retail's contribution to Canada's prosperity cannot be overstated, says RCC. It comprises over 145,000 retail establishments employing 2.1 million Canadians. As retailers seek to reopen, questions remain as to how to safely guide both customers and employees. The Playbook includes key retail operational components such as customer health and safety, employee well-being, retail operations, merchandising and marketing, store network and channel, and finances. This resource is free to everyone and is available here

Lowe's Earnings Increase

Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net earnings of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2020 compared to a net earnings of $1 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Sales for the quarter were $19.7 billion compared to $17.7 billion in the year-ago period and comparable sales increased 11.2 per cent. Comparable sales for the U.S. home improvement business increased 12.3 per cent year-over-year and online sales grew by 80 per cent. Gross margin was $6.5 billion compared to $5.6 billion. Lowe’s had positive comparable sales in 14 of 15 of its merchandising departments, with above company average sales in paint, lawn and garden, lumber, hardware, tools, and appliances. During the first quarter, the company invested $340 million towards the health and safety of associates and the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walmart Has Increased Revenues

Walmart had total revenue of $134.6 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2021, an increase of 8.6 per cent over revenue of $123.9 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. Walmart U.S. comparable sales grew 10 per cent in the quarter compared to the year-ago period while Walmart International net sales grew 3.4 per cent. Walmart U.S. eCommerce sales grew 74 per cent. Overall operating income was $5.2 billion, up 5.6 per cent compared to $4.9 billion last year. Consolidated gross profit rate declined 66 basis points, primarily as a result of the carryover of investments in price from the previous year, a shift in the sales mix to lower-margin categories and channels, and markdowns in general merchandise. The company incurred incremental costs of nearly $900 million related to COVID-19.

May 20, 2020

Housing Starts Expectations Remain Negative

Most metropolitan housing starts expectations remained negative in April, says Jane McIntyre, senior economist with the Conference Board of Canada. However, there were six census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with positive expectations for both short and long terms. That is one more than March. Short- and long-term expectations remained positive in Calgary and Edmonton, AB, in spite of low oil prices and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oshawa and Toronto, ON, Saint John, NB, and Regina and Saskatoon, SK, had the biggest year-over-year percentage increases in housing starts for the month. Kitchener–Waterloo, ON, had the biggest year-over-year percentage decrease in housing starts.

Task Force Focuses On Economic Recovery

The government of Canada has launched the ‘Task Force for a Resilient Recovery,’ an independent group of finance, policy, and sustainability leaders that will provide recommendations to encourage a resilient economic recovery after the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 crisis. The task force will spend the next eight weeks developing actionable recommendations on how governments can help get Canadians back to work while also building a low-carbon and resilient economy. The fourteen task force members are backed by eight expert advisors, including reputed business and finance experts and research organizations Smart Prosperity Institute and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The team will look at and assess a variety of potential recovery investments. The scale and scope of Canada’s job losses will demand thoughtful approaches, with special care targeted at Canada’s oil producing regions and at the service sector. The task force will consider both immediate actions and longer-term investments that can support these and other parts of Canada’s economy.

TIMBER MART Gets Quebec Member

Family-owned and -operated building material retailer O. Coderre et Fils Ltée has joined TIMBER MART. With two retail locations – one in Saint-Jacques and one in Crabtree, QC – O. Coderre et Fils says it joined the group to get access to better buying power and greater dealer support. Founded in 1950, the retailer has grown over the years both in product offerings and size. From a small store in Saint-Jacques de Montcalm, QC, the business has expanded to two retail locations that total 70,000 square feet and have accompanying lumberyards that total 170,000 square feet. From these locations, O. Coderre et Fils offers its contractor and DIY customers a wide assortment of hardware and building material products.

Consumers Interested In Cleaner Stores

More than 70 per cent of consumers would feel comfortable visiting brick-and-mortar retail stores within two months of the end of the national emergency, says a survey of U.S. consumers by ICSC Research. However, when they do return to stores, they’re interested in seeing frequent cleaning/sanitizing, with 62 per cent of consumers interested in more hand sanitizer and disinfecting cloths, 49 per cent interested in staff wearing masks and/or gloves, and 48 per cent interested in measures that facilitate social distancing. The survey shows there could be significant pent-up demand as well. About 70 per cent of consumers say they will make purchases they had planned but could not complete because of the pandemic. As well, 62 per cent of consumers either do not plan to cut back on spending or will cut back for only five months or less.

Home Depot Has Increase In Sales

The Home Depot had sales of US$28.3 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, a 7.1 per cent increase from sales of $26.4 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 6.4 per cent year-over-year and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 7.5 per cent. The retailer had net earnings of $2.2 billion compared with net earnings of $2.5 billion in the year-ago period. Online sales increased roughly 80 per cent compared to the year-ago period, with 60 per cent of online orders picked up at a store. Home Depot had positive comparable sales in 11 of it 14 merchandising departments; departments with a heavy reliance on in-home installation were negative during the quarter. The company spent approximately $850 million in the quarter to support associates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 19, 2020

Home Sales Post Record Declines

National home sales and new listings fell by more than half in April compared to March, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). New home sales fell 56.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis in April while actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down a similar 57.6 per cent year-over-year. The number of newly listed properties decreased 55.7 per cent from March to April. The decline in home sales follows an already weakened March, with a majority of sellers and buyers having seemingly moved off to the sidelines during the COVID-19 lockdown. Transactions were down across the country. Among Canada's largest markets, sales fell by 66.2 per cent in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA); 64.4 per cent in Montreal, QC; 57.9 per cent in Greater Vancouver, BC; 54.8 per cent in the Fraser Valley, BC; 53.1 per cent in Calgary, AB; 46.6 per cent in Edmonton, AB; 42 per cent in Winnipeg, MB; 59.8 per cent in Hamilton-Burlington, ON; and 51.5 per cent in Ottawa, ON.

Large Drop In U.S. Retail Sales

U.S. retail sales dropped almost twice as much during April as they did in March as America’s economy saw its first full month when most businesses were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). NRF calculates that retail sales in the U.S. were down 14.1 per cent seasonally adjusted from March and down 8.7 per cent unadjusted year-over-year. The NRF numbers show less of a decline than the Census Bureau (which says retail sales were down 16.4 per cent seasonally adjusted from March and down 21.6 per cent unadjusted year-over-year) because the categories excluded were among those most affected as fewer people were driving and most restaurants were limited to take-out orders if not closed entirely. NRF says every category of retail, except online, was down on a monthly basis in April, including grocery stores and others that had seen a surge in March as consumers stocked up. Online, grocery stores, and building materials were the only categories that saw a year-over-year gain. Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year but down 3.5 per cent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

Wolseley Now Carries GE Products

Plumbing and HVAC/R distributor Wolseley has partnered with GE Appliances, a Haier company. Starting in May, Wolseley will carry GE’s line of Haier ductless and heat pump products in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The partnership will allow Wolseley to provide a range of products and resources for dealers to meet customers' growing needs for heating, cooling, and indoor air quality products. Wolseley plans to offer the products to western Canada in the fall. As a Haier distributor, Wolseley customers will get preferred dealer pricing, access to seasonal promotions, advertising support, incentives, and enhanced technical support.

Derby Launches Dealer Support Tool

Quebec-based Derby Building Products, parent company of the Tando brand of products, has launched Tando Dealer Express, a program that supports dealers and is designed to make Tando products easier to buy and sell. With Tando Dealer Express, Tando products are ordered through the distributor, but shipped directly to the dealer to keep orders moving. “Tando Dealer Express can help supplement and bridge any product gaps while inventory dollars are tight,” says Ralph Bruno, CEO of Derby. “This will allow our distributors and dealers to capture revenue and ensure that no orders are left behind.” The program will be promoted with a four- to six-week marketing campaign and dedicated landing page on the website. The program was developed based on feedback from distributor and dealer partners and is designed to ensure dealers can get what they need during the pandemic – especially for installers in the middle of a job.

MoistureShield Adds Colours To Decking Line

MoistureShield has added two variegated colours to its Elevate capped wood composite decking product line – riverbank and alpine grey. With texture and depth similar to tropical hardwoods, these colours join the classic solid colours of canoe, a forest brown, and lake fog, a soft grey shade. The Elevate product line offers protective caps that shield each board from impact, corrosion, and harsh weather. As with all MoistureShield deck products, Elevate features the Solid Core Difference, a proprietary manufacturing process offering protection against moisture absorption, warping, rotting, and damage from insects. Elevate 1-inch by six-inch deck boards are available in 12-foot, 16-foot, and 20-foot lengths in grooved profiles (for hidden fasteners) and 20-foot lengths with a solid edge, as well as fascia boards in 12-foot lengths.

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