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Housewares giant plans greater presence in Canada

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Garden City, N.Y.-based housewares maker Lifetime Brands has announced a new strategic partnership with Toronto-based Accent-Fairchild Group, with the aim of expanding Lifetime’s offerings in the Canadian market.

Under the proposed agreement, Lifetime will make available certain brands and products to Accent-Fairchild, which will in turn distribute the products directly to Canadian retailers. Accent-Fairchild, which formerly sold certain Lifetime products under the name Target Home Products, will also re-brand itself as LTB Canada. Although financial terms were not disclosed, Lifetime Brands said in a statement, “the proposed arrangement will not involve any cash investment on the part of Lifetime Brands.”

Canada has seen an expansion in recent months from American retailers in the DIY, decor and housewares categories. Lowe’s, Crate & Barrel and Container Store have entered the Canadian market in the past year.

“As our long-time distributor, with a deep knowledge of the market and strong ties to retailers, AFG is the logical partner to help Lifetime substantially increase our penetration of the Canadian market,” said Jeffrey Siegel, chairman, president and CEO of Lifetime Brands, in a statement.

Lifetime Brands designs, develops, manufactures and markets housewares under names including KitchenAid, Farberware, Cuisinart and Pfaltzgraff.

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ProBuild acquires Khempco Building Supply

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Denver-based ProBuild Holdings has announced the acquisition of Columbus, Ohio-based Khempco Building Supply.

The acquisition includes a lumberyard and truss facility in Delaware, Ohio; a truss plant in Dry Ridge, Ky.; and a commercial door facility in Columbus, Ohio. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to welcome the employees of Khempco to ProBuild,” said Dale Kukowski, president of ProBuild North Region. “The addition of Khempco fortifies ProBuild’s position in the Ohio market while strengthening our manufacturing and installed sales capability.”

Paul Hylbert, CEO of ProBuild, added, “Growth through acquisitions remains an important element of our corporate strategy.”

Khempco Building Supply was founded in 1977.

ProBuild Holdings currently operates more than 560 lumber and building product distribution, manufacturing and assembly centers serving 42 U.S. states.

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K/BIS to kick off next week in Chicago

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) will kick off next week in Chicago, from April 11 to 13 at McCormick Place. The event includes a conference starting one day earlier on April 10.

The show has seen an upswing in certain exhibitors, including cabinet-makers, stone surface manufacturers and tile manufacturers, according to show organizers, because of new exhibits planned in those areas. The show this year includes a cabinetry pavilion and a “Natural Stone and Tile Pavilion.”

Major retailers are homing in on kitchen and bath categories for the new year, particularly with the new interest in do-it-for-me projects. Craig Menear, executive vp-merchandising for Home Depot told company investors Feb. 26 that the company would be focusing on kitchens and bath fixtures as two categories where the company would like to build share in 2008.

At Lowe’s, the past year saw some strength in the kitchen and bath categories. President and COO Larry Stone said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that, “In rough plumbing we had success with our clean air and water filtration programs.”

Additionally, Bob Hull, executive vp and CFO at Lowe’s said the company saw strength in fashion plumbing and appliances — two categories that performed above average in 2007.

“Although the slowdown has affected many of the manufacturers who are deriving much of their sales from new housing, we have found that highlighted the remodeling sector has a more promising outlook,” explained show director Cory Smith, vp-kitchen and bath for Nielsen.

Smith pointed to a market research study conducted for K/BIS that highlights the do-it-for-me category as a source of new strength. While bathroom remodeling projects are projected to fall by 14 percent in 2008, bathroom do-it-for-me projects are expected to grow by 22 percent, he said. In all, kitchen and bath do-it-for-me projects are expected to rise by 12 percent in the next year.

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