Serving Canada's Home Improvement Industry

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


July 31, 2020

Weyerhaeuser Launches Sustainability Strategy

Weyerhaeuser Company has launched a sustainability strategy for the next decade and beyond that will focus on three critical challenge areas: climate change solutions, sustainable homes, and helping rural communities thrive. The company says it is committed to making tangible progress in these three areas by 2030 as part of its new ‘3 by 30’ initiative. Some actions involve continuing and strengthening existing work while others involve engaging new partnerships and stakeholders, and driving innovation in new areas. As part of the strategy, Weyerhaeuser will support the development of forest carbon markets and accounting, including committing to set a companywide, science-based greenhouse gas reduction target that aligns with the goal of limiting global warming to less than 2°C. It will promote the use of mass timber and other innovative wood-building materials, including helping to ensure sustainable building standards and tools include science-based assessments of wood products. As well, it will improve its overall Giving Fund strategy by implementing a community resource assessment process that supports community strengths and identifies greatest needs for investment.

Lightspeed Offers More Tools

In response to the digital overhaul forced by COVID-19, Lightspeed has added tools to offer increased mobility for processing transactions and provide more options for viewing business insights. The company has also made a commitment to better support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they continue to adjust to consumer behaviour. In the coming weeks, Lightspeed will introduce features for in-store POS and eCommerce, including Digital Wallet and Analytics Core. Optimized for mobile, the introduction of Digital Wallet in North America supports faster eCommerce conversion and supports a variety of payment methods globally, including Google Pay and Apple Pay. Analytics Core will give users access to a variety of business dashboards and insights on sales, inventory, and employee performance, enabling retailers to make data-driven decisions about the future.

KBIS Adds Virtual Component

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) will move forward with an omni-experience format for its ‘Kitchen & Bath Industry Show’ (KBIS). In addition to the onsite experience in Orlando, FL, KBIS 2021 is expanding its presence through the integration of a live virtual program over the three-day event to provide attendees access to exclusive show content all-year long. These virtual experiences will be available to all show attendees and exhibitors and will be designed to help bridge the gap with those unable to attend the show in person. The virtual component will be used to amplify educational content, exhibitor product launches, and a variety of networking opportunities. KBIS 2021 will feature hundreds of returning and new exhibitors across two halls, along with a full complement of educational offerings including the ‘NKBA Voices from the Industry’ series. It takes place February 9 to 11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. For more information, visit KBIS

Distribution Drives CanWel Revenues

CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. had consolidated revenues of $412.9 million for the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 7.1 per cent over consolidated revenues of $385.7 million in the second quarter of 2019. The increase was mainly driven by sales in the distribution segment, which increased 8.4 per cent year-over-year. Gross margin dollars increased 8.3 per cent to $58.9 million, compared to $54.4 million during the corresponding period in 2019. Gross margin percentage increased to 14.3 per cent of revenues versus 14.1 per cent last year. The company says the increase in margin dollars and margin percentage is mainly attributable to the improvements in sales and construction materials pricing during the second quarter of 2020. EBITDA increased 20.1 per cent to $32.8 million compared to $27.3 million in the year-ago period.

Masco North American Sales Flat

Masco Corporation had net sales of $1.76 billion for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of four per cent compared to net sales of $1.83 billion in the second quarter of 2019. In local currency, North American sales were flat and international sales decreased 17 per cent. Gross margin for the quarter decreased 100 basis points to 35.6 per cent from 36.6 per cent and operating margins increased 30 basis points to 19.2 per cent from 18.9 per cent. Net income was $234 million in the second quarter compared to $252 million in the year-ago period. The plumbing products segment net sales decreased 14 per cent year-over-year and the decorative architectural products segment net sales increased eight per cent due to strong growth in paint and other coating products.

July 30, 2020

Residential Drives Increased Construction Prices

Prices for residential building construction rose 0.5 per cent in the second quarter, while the cost of non-residential building construction edged up 0.1 per cent, says Statistics Canada. Residential building construction prices rose in most of the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) covered by the survey in the second quarter, while non-residential prices edged up on low demand for commercial building construction and increased competition. New construction projects slowed considerably in the wake of COVID-19, with the value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities falling 17.1 per cent from March to April, including a record 14.2 per cent decline for single-family dwellings. Projects that were approved and begun during the first quarter may have also been delayed or paused due to provincially mandated shutdowns, supply chain disruptions, and labour shortages. Construction activity had resumed in every jurisdiction nationally by May 19. Residential building construction costs rose 2.1 per cent year over year in the second quarter, following a 2.2 per cent increase in the first quarter. Non-residential building construction costs rose at a slower pace, up 1.5 per cent year over year following a 1.9 per cent rise in the first quarter.

Quebec Retailer Joins TORBSA

Materiaux Construction Letourneau Inc., located in Waterville QC, has joined TORBSA Ltd. as a shareholder member. Founded in 1974, the retailer has two branches with more than 90 employees and carries hardware, building materials, siding, roofing, windows, doors, and decor. Services offered include consulting, cutting services, door pre-assembly, and home delivery. Materiaux Construction Letourneau joined TORBSA to grow the business and develop key relationships with both shareholders and supplier partners.

GROHE Launches Chinaware Collection

GROHE has launched its German-engineered designed chinaware in the Canadian market. The manufacturer is introducing two ceramics collections including sinks and toilets that coordinate with its Essence and Eurocube faucet lines. The chinaware line is made from vitreous china and the toilets feature InfinaBright technology, which inhibits the growth of stain and odour causing bacteria, mould, and mildew on the surface. The two-piece toilets come with a water-efficient right-hand and left-hand trip lever tank (1.28 gpf) and dual flush (1.28/1.0 gpf) options. Both the Essence and Eurocube collections include sinks with flexible installation options – the wall hung sink can also be installed above-counter, while the undermount sink can be fitted as a drop-in. The chinaware pieces are available in an alpine white finish.

COVID Impacts Lawson Sales

Lawson Products, Inc. had net sales of $72.1 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 24.9 per cent over net sales of $96.1 million in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease reflects the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with the most significant decline occurring in April when sales decreased 35 per cent. Gross profit was $38.3 million for the quarter, down compared to $51 million in the year-ago period while gross margin remained flat at 53.1 per cent. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.3 million, a decrease of 33.1 per cent over $9.4 million last year. The company had net income of $0.6 million versus $1.3 million, a year-over-year decrease of 64.9 per cent.

Sales Down At Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams Company had consolidated net sales of $4.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 5.6 per cent over net sales of $4.9 billion in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease in the quarter was due primarily to impacts of COVID-19. Net sales of the Americas group decreased 8.4 per cent year-over-year, net sales of the consumers brands group increased 21.8 per cent, and net sales of the performance coatings group decreased 16.5 per cent. Overall gross margin expanded 330 basis points to 48 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA grew 6.2 per cent to $979 million and was 21.3 per cent of sales compared to 18.9 per cent of sales last year. The company had net income of $245.2 million compared to $471 million in the year-ago period.

July 29, 2020

CFIB Urges Governments To Fix Rent Relief

With the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program coming to an end this week and another month's rent coming due, one in three small businesses say rent relief remains a critical missing piece for their recovery, says a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). On behalf of hard-hit small businesses in desperate need of rent relief, CFIB issued an open letter to urge federal and provincial finance ministers to fix rent relief. Federal government records show less than 10 per cent of the funding committed to CECRA has been spent to help 29,000 small business tenants. An additional 25,000 applications are predicted before the submission deadline at the end of August (program ends in July, but applications are open until the end of August), which still leaves the program underutilized. CFIB recommends provincial governments work with the federal government to allow tenants to directly apply for and access CECRA funding. CFIB has also recommended the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account be expanded as an alternative way to provide rent relief.

ThermalWood Increases Ontario Presence

New Brunswick-based ThermalWood Canada, a manufacturer of thermally modified wood, will expand its presence in Ontario after partnering with Weston Forest Products to distribute its products. The deal represents ThermalWood’s first distribution agreement in North America. Weston Forest, a distributor and remanufacturer of softwood and hardwood lumber based in Mississauga, ON, has an Ontario network numbering 300 home improvement stores and a team of 14 sales representatives. Established in 2008, ThermalWood uses a specially designed kiln to heat lumber at high temperatures. Its baking process modifies the wood’s characteristics producing lumber that offers improved dimensional stability and resistance to rot and damage by insects and requires no chemical additives. In addition to being used as an alternative for pressure-treated planks for decking and exterior siding, ThermalWood’s lumber is used for items such as furniture, ceiling tiles, and guitars.

MDF Manufacturing Facility To Use Straw

Great Plains MDF will build a front-end engineering and design (FEED) of an MDF (medium density fibreboard) production facility in Alberta. The company is proposing a green-field state-of-the-art straw (sMDF) plant in a location to be announced. The facility will be an integrated manufacturing complex, targeting rapidly growing demand for green, formaldehyde-free composite boards offering environmental advantages of carbon capture. The project will supply its own electrical and heat needs through a co-generation plant and will include a value-added manufacturing facility to maximize economic and employment opportunities. Great Plains MDF has developed a product made from wheat straw and a non-formaldehyde polyurethane resin that is environmentally friendly with no toxic emissions. By employing a process that uses excess straw, the company has a net positive of seven to ninemillion metric tonnes of CO2 per year.

Copeland Named Vice-president Financial Planning

Scott Copeland is vice-president of financial planning and analysis at RPM International Inc. He joined the company in 2012 and served, most recently, as senior director of financial planning and analysis.

West Fraser Sales Climb

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. had sales of $1,276 million for the second quarter of 2020, an increase of seven per cent over sales of $1,195 million in the first quarter of 2020, but a decrease over sales of $1,317 million in the second quarter of 2019. Lumber shipments were 165 million board feet higher than the previous quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $184 million, up from $56 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were $48 million compared to a loss of $58 million last year. The lumber segment had operating earnings of $66 million for the second quarter compared to $19 million in the first quarter; the panels segment had operating earnings of $17 million versus $8 million; and the pulp and paper segment had an operating loss of $1 million versus nil. The company says manufacturing operations have fully resumed at virtually all facilities.

July 28, 2020

Provinces May Need Boost For Recovery

Increasing business investment will be key to help Canada recover from the COVID recession, but provincial performance over the past 30 years show mixed results, says a study by the Fraser Institute. The study measures growth in business investment at the provincial level from 1990 to 2014 and from 2014 to 2018, the most recent year of comparable data. It finds that whereas Alberta and Saskatchewan had above-average annual growth in investment from 1990 to 2014 – averaging 4.4 and 3.3 per cent per year, respectively – since 2014, investment has stagnated. In fact, Alberta averaged just 0.1 per cent annual growth from 2014 to 2018. British Columbia experienced 1.5 per cent average annual growth over the same recent four-year period, as compared to the national average of 1.1 per cent. Much of BC’s investment growth, however, is the result of the province’s strong construction and real estate sectors. Investment outside of these sectors has been comparatively weak. Ontario, too, enjoyed above-average annual growth from 2014 to 2018 (1.7 per cent) largely because of the real estate, finance, and insurance sectors that are concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area. Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island consistently experienced below-average growth for the entire period (1990 to 2018). “While the investment laggards are still lagging, even the previous bright spots in Canada’s business investment landscape are currently dim,” says Steven Globerman, a Fraser Institute senior fellow. “Given how important business investment will be post-recession, policymakers should pursue policies, including implementing regulatory reform and competitive tax rates, that are known to attract investment.”

Canadians Believe Pandemic Not Over

The fear of contracting COVID-19 continues to climb among Canadians, says the weekly COVID-19 survey by Leger. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians think governments should slow down the pace at which they are relaxing social distancing/self-isolation measures, an increase of seven per cent from last week. In fact, 50 per cent of Canadians and 62 per cent of Americans do not think we have reached the end of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As for economic recovery, roughly seven per cent of Canadians say business and economic activity in their province is better than they expected, 53 per cent say recovery is about what they expected, and 34 per cent say it is worse than they expected. Thinking ahead six months, 21 per cent of Canadians think the economic and job situation in their province will be better, while 41 per cent think it will be about the same, and 29 per cent think it will be worse. Sixty-three per cent of Canadians say things have not changed since the pandemic in terms of them being able to pay monthly household expenses and bills. Twenty-nine per cent of residents say it has become harder to pay monthly expenses and bills, while for seven per cent it has become easier.


Preston Leads Trex Commercial Products

Laura Rygielski Preston is president of Trex Commercial Products, Inc., the commercially focused subsidiary of Trex Company, Inc. She has more than 25 years of experience in sales and operations, most recently as vice-president and general manager with Trane, Inc.

China International Hardware Show Postponed

In view of the continuous worldwide spread of COVID-19 and the latest epidemic prevention requirements of China and the government of Shanghai, and in order to guarantee the health and safety of exhibitors, purchasers, and visitors, the China National Hardware Association and Koelnmesse have postponed the China International Hardware Show 2020 (CIHS 2020) from August 7 to 9, 2020 to October 8 to 10, 2021. The event will still be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC). For more information, visit CIHS 2020

Armstrong Sales Slow

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. had net sales of $203.2 million for the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of 25.3 per cent over net sales of $272 million in the second quarter of 2019. Operating income for the quarter was $62.4 million, down 28.4 per cent compared to operating income of $87.2 million in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $69 million, down 36.3 per cent compared to $108 million last year and adjusted net income was $36 million, down 42.7 per cent over $63 million. Sales in the mineral fibre segment were down 26.2 per cent year-over-year and sales in the architectural specialties segment were down 21.9 per cent.

July 27, 2020

Canada-wide Economic Recovery Expected In 2021

Following the steepest, deepest, and fastest recession in history, there are clear signs that the Canadian and global economies have begun the initial stages of recovery, says the ‘BMO Blue Book: Small Businesses in the Recovery.’ It says the Canadian economy will contract by roughly six per cent in 2020, by far the deepest annual decline in economic activity in the post-war era. British Columbia's economy is forecast to contract 5.3 per cent this year, but rebound to 6.3 per cent in 2021, with unemployment expected to remain below the national average. Alberta's GDP decline will be deeper than in the rest of the country. Saskatchewan's economy will contract 6.2 per cent this year and Manitoba's economy is expected to contract 4.8 per cent in 2020, milder than the national decline. The Ontario economy is expected to contract six per cent this year, in-line with the decline expected nationally. The province entered the downturn in a position of strength, but struggled with a steeper COVID curve early on. The Quebec economy is expected to decline 6.3 per cent this year, slightly worse than the national figure given more widespread shutdowns early in the pandemic. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI are all seeing GDP contractions that are milder than the decline expected nationally, with reductions of 3.8 per cent, 3.2 per cent, and three per cent, respectively. Faster re-opening in these provinces has provided significant benefits. The Newfoundland and Labrador economy is expected to contract 7.5 per cent this year, deeper than the decline expected nationally. The province was already in a challenged position pre-COVID, and current shutdowns and the decline in oil prices have exacerbated the headwinds.

Rosenort Co-operative Joins Sexton

Rosenort Co-operative Ltd. has joined Sexton Group Ltd. The Rosenort, MB-based co-operative offers a wide range of building products and has a customer base that includes a mix of agriculture and industry. Its product assortment includes building materials, hardware, farm supply, and a selection of premium sport and leisure brands. The retailer says it joined Sexton Group because it believes the group will provide greater buying power with a broader scope of vendors and manufacturers as well as better access to the quality products that its members are looking for.

U.S. New Home Sales Rise

U.S. new home sales increased 13.8 per cent from May to June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 776,000, says the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales increased 6.9 per cent over June 2019. The estimate of new houses for sale at the end of June was 307,000, representing a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate. This is down 1.3 per cent over May and seven per cent over June 2019.

Witynski Named CEO

Michael A. Witynski has been promoted to president and chief executive officer of Dollar Tree, Inc. He has been with the company since 2010, most recently in the role of enterprise president. He succeeds Gary Philbin, who is retiring.

RPM Sales Reflect COVID Impact

RPM International Inc. had net sales of $1.46 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, a decrease of 8.9 per cent over net sales of $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019. Net income for the quarter was $109.3 million compared to $133.4 million in the year-ago period and income before income taxes was $146.9 million compared to $176.9 million reported last year. EBIT was $169.8 million compared to $204.6 million. The construction products group net sales declined 15.6 per cent year-over-year; the performance coatings group net sales declined 20.2 per cent; the consumer group net sales increased 12 per cent; and the specialty products group net sales decreased 20.3 per cent. The company says sales declines reflected the impact of COVID-19 which, to various degrees, interrupted its manufacturing and distribution operations, as well as the maintenance, repair, and construction activities of its customers around the world.

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