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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for March 29, 2013

*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.

Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.

Lumber: Trading in the SPF lumber market was lackluster until Thursday. That is when futures made an up-limit move, sending buyers into the market to either purchase or determine where the market was going. Buyers remaining on the sidelines and mills with a variety of approaches toward the market generated mixed pricing in the Southern Pine lumber market. Steady sales into Texas helped keep West prices from tumbling. Some producers used month-end discounting or less aggressive price increases to bolster their order files. Trading was not quite as active as it has been in recent weeks in Coastal species markets. However, any drag on prices only stopped them from moving higher and did not apply any downward pressure. Buyers of Inland species lumber continued to look for coverage, many times to no avail. Producers reported broken tallies and limited volumes available. Buyers wanted the quickest shipping volumes. Reports of open market sales of Radiata Pine Shop were far and few. Ponderosa Pine producers reported continued steady sales of low grade Shop lumber while sales of the upper grades remained quiet. Activity in the Ponderosa Pine board market was muted, partially due to lack of offering from producers and partially from a shortened week, as many folks took Good Friday off. With Western Red Cedar not moving from yards as well as expected, some buyers resisted price increases issued by producers for April. Weather continued to garner much of the blame for the bottleneck in the distribution chain.

Panels: Weather continued to be the top subject in OSB market discussions. Asking prices at the mill level remained firm while sales of wood in the hands of secondaries often took place $5 to $15 lower. Sales activity picked up at midweek in the Southern Pine plywood market, propelling prices higher and pushing mill order files out into the latter half of April. Much of the activity surrounded thick rated sheathing panels, causing those prices to increase the most. Trading activity in the Western Fir plywood market improved, sending what had been listless sheathing and underlayment prices higher. Much of the increased demand emerged at midweek into Thursday before the market slowed because of the holiday weekend. Market dynamics in particleboard and MDF remained much the same, with MDF in short supply and particleboard demand lacking in the West but much better in the East.

For more on RISI, click here.

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Williams-Sonoma names new president

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Williams-Sonoma has appointed Janet Hayes, currently the president of Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen, as president, effective March 20. She replaces Richard Harvey, who will be leaving the company on May 3, 2013, after 30 years of service.

Laura Alber, the company’s president and CEO, said, “On behalf of the board and senior management team, I want to thank Richard for his many contributions to the company. He provided vision for the Williams-Sonoma brand over the past three decades as it grew from a few California stores to the iconic, multi-channel business that it is today. Over the last few years, Richard increased the percentage of products that are either vendor-branded exclusives or Williams-Sonoma-branded, created innovative new product lines, introduced our Agrarian business, and relaunched Williams-Sonoma Home. He also hired top talent to evolve the brand’s aesthetic and marketing.”

Alber stated, “Janet’s strong vision, retail leadership and operational expertise have driven record revenues and profits in both Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen. Her experience in product development and retail customer engagement is an excellent fit for the Williams-Sonoma brand as it focuses on strategies to increase product exclusivity, introduce new products, deepen customer relationships, and evolve the in-store experience. She will lead a strong and seasoned merchandising and field leadership team.” 

Hayes has served as president of Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen since 2010. From 2008 to 2010, she served as EVP Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen, and from 2007 to 2008, she served as SVP and general merchandise manager Pottery Barn. Prior to 2007, she held roles at American Eagle Outfitters, Nike and Gap.

Sandra Stangl, president of Pottery Barn, will expand her role to include Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen, effective March 20.

Stangl has served as president Pottery Barn, since 2008. From 2006 to 2008, she served as EVP Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen. Between 1994 and 2006, Stangl served in various leadership roles in the Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen brands.

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S&P lifts credit rating on Whirlpool

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services upgraded Whirlpool’s long-term corporate credit rating one notch to "BBB" from "BBB-," the lowest investment-grade rating. S&P cited an improving economy and stronger housing market. 

The ratings agency also pointed to the appliance maker’s growth in emerging markets and lower cost structure.

The company has benefited from better pricing moves, productivity and benefits from cost and factory capacity cuts. The ratings agency also said that Whirlpool has cut costs, trimmed inventory and boosted its profitability in response to tough market conditions in 2011. S&P said these actions helped the company in 2012 and should continue into 2014.

Whirlpool reported 3% earnings growth in 2012, compared with the prior year. Revenue slipped about 3% to $18.14 billion. 

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