London Inc. Weekly 04 • 05 • 2019

YXU posts record numbers in 2018, expects bigger gains in 2019

Photo: London International Airport

THE LONDON INTERNATIONAL Airport (LIA) released final passenger numbers for 2018 this week, confirming a year of record-breaking growth. LIA handled more than 537,000 passengers, a 3.1 per cent increase over 2017.

In addition, with a forecast 50 per cent passenger increase for 2019, LIA is expected to “shatter” those numbers in 2019. For the first time in history, direct flights to all major Canadian cities are available from LIA. The airport will also invest over $12 million in capital improvements in fiscal 2019 to accommodate the anticipated growth.

“We continue to focus on improving passenger experience and growing the range of air services that we offer the passenger,” said Mike Seabrook, LIA president and CEO. “Air travel is forecast to grow significantly in our region over the next decade and we believe our airport has a much bigger role to play.”

The airport realized $11.7 million in revenue last year, a nearly four per cent increase compared to 2017. A not-for-profit operating model, all profits generated by LIA are reinvested back into the airport.

“We are surrounded by many airports, big and small, and it is essential that we adhere to disciplined business practices to ensure our long-term success,” continued Seabrook. “This strategy includes investing prudently in our infrastructure, reducing our debt and attracting new sources of revenue that allow us to grow without raising our fees and charges. The long-term success of our airport requires profitable airlines and businesses that can thrive in the environment that we create.”


Goodwill Industries announce regional merger

Photo: The Goodwill Industries facility on Horton Street

A PAIR OF Goodwill Industries in Southwestern Ontario are coming together as one.

The management and boards of Goodwill Industries Ontario Great Lakes, which handles the social enterprise’s operations in the London area, and Goodwill Industries Essex Kent Lambton, which serves Sarnia, Windsor, Chatham and the surrounding regions, approved the merger, effective March 31, after 10 months of talks.

The merged Goodwills will unite under the Ontario Great Lakes name.

Great Lakes president and CEO, Michelle Quintyn, said the two organizations will be stronger as one.

“It’s going to allow us to push resources to the front line—to missions, to services,” said Quintyn. “As we become more efficient in terms of collaborating around services like marketing, finance and administration, it enables us to have more resources to do what we do best, which is allowing people to get the skills they need to enter and prosper in the labour market.”

Quintyn said following changes in government legislation, the economic landscape and timely transitions of leadership, the move made sense, and added there will be no job loss as a result of the merger.

“Growth is at the top of the agenda—creating more jobs, not fewer,” she said. “The aim is to continue to create work opportunities for people who need them most, and advance individuals, families and communities toward economic self-sufficiency and prosperity.”


London Life no more as iconic business rebrands as Canada Life   

Photo: The newly rebranded Canada Life building on Dufferin Avenue

WINNIPEG-BASED GREAT-WEST LIFECO has announced it is renaming London Life and another of its divisions, Great-West Life, under its Canada Life banner. The rebranding will drop from its name the city where the insurer began in 1874.

According to a statement released this week by Great-West, Canada Life will become the new brand under which the organization will create, deliver and communicate products and services in Canada across all of its lines of business.

“Today marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for our companies in Canada,” said Paul Mahon, Great-West president and CEO. “Bringing our companies together under one brand will allow us to deliver a simpler and unified experience for our customers, advisors and consultants, focusing on what matters most—helping Canadians reach their full potential, every day.”

In addition to the move to a new brand, Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life and their holding companies, Canada Life Financial Corporation and London Insurance Group Inc., have also begun the process to formally amalgamate as one company—The Canada Life Assurance Company. This initiative is separate from, but aligned with, the move to one brand and will further simplify the business. The proposed amalgamation is a multi-step process that would occur only after obtaining required board, regulatory and policyholder approvals.

“The new Canada Life is positioned well for continued growth and success,” said Jeff Macoun, president and COO, Canada. “Together with our employees, advisors and consultants, we’re excited and optimistic about the task ahead of us. As one brand, we’ll present a unified voice, product and service offering and a simplified experience for customers, advisors and consultants.”

There are no job impacts as a result of the announcement. Great West employs more than 11,000 employees across the country, including more than 3,000 in London.


Home resales show slight gain in March

Photo: 814 homes were sold in London in March, a slight bump from 2018 numbers

THE LONDON AND St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) reports that 814 homes were sold in March, a very slight rise (0.4 per cent) over March 2018. March was the third consecutive month to post small gains over sales one year ago.

“We’ve had a very strong start to the first quarter of 2019, with steady home sales all across our region,” said Earl Taylor, 2019 LSTAR president. “Just three months into the year, there have been 1,939 home resales, which is an increase of 6.0% over the same period last year.

One of the trends in March was the increase in inventory (called active listings) that was felt in several regions. “Overall, we saw 1,411 active listings in the marketplace, which is 14.5% more than March of 2018,” Taylor said. “The communities that experienced the largest gains were St. Thomas, which had active listings increase by 51.1%, followed closely by London North, which saw a 51.0% increase, and Middlesex County with a 20.1% increase.”

Overall, however, the London market continues to struggle with a tight supply of homes for sale. From 2010 to 2016, active listings for the month of March ranged from 2,755 (2016) to 3,563 (2012).

Average home sales price continued to make steady gains in the five major areas of LSTAR’s jurisdiction. In London, the March average sales price was $416,085, up 12.7% from the same month last year. The largest year-over-year gain was in St. Thomas, with a March average sales price of $361,426, up 21.8% compared to March 2018.

“The most popular housing type is the two-storey home,” Taylor said. “The average sales price for a two-storey home in London was $554,015, up 5.3% from March 2018, while in St. Thomas it was $395,957, an increase of 13.8% over the same time last year.”


Featured Business Event

Techcellence Awards Celebration & Mixer | April 11, 2019

Celebrate London Tech Week 2019 at the Techcellence Awards Celebration & Mixer. This event honours the excellence of tech entrepreneurs, startups and established tech companies in London and Southwestern Ontario where the Techcellence Awards for Startup Innovation, Business Growth and Community Engagement will be presented.

This event will also offer the opportunity to mix and mingle over refreshments with local tech companies, entrepreneurs as well as community and business leaders, all while celebrating our region’s thriving technology sector.

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