Ace Hardware earns two distinctions

Ace Hardware won two distinctions recently: top honors for customer service from Corporate Research International (CRI) for the 13th consecutive quarter; and fifth place on the Franchise Times 200 (FT200), an annual list that ranks franchise systems based on worldwide sales.

CRI ranked the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op No. 1 in the home improvement retail category for the second quarter of 2008 based on the results of its "Real People Ratings" consumer opinion survey. CRI, a market research firm specializing in mystery shopping and customer satisfaction surveys, compiles each quarter's survey via The company sends quarterly online opinion polls to its pool of mystery shoppers, who rate their perception of each business's customer service on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the highest rating.

"Ace stores are committed to being 'the helpful place' in every community they serve, and ranking first for the 13th consecutive quarter reflects their dedication to always go the extra mile for customers," said Ray Griffith, president and CEO of Ace Hardware.

Other first-place customer service winners include Chipotle Mexican Grill in the fast food category, Olive Garden in the full-service restaurants category, Speedway in the convenience stores category, Dick's Sporting Goods in the sporting goods category, Best Buy in the electronics category and Nordstrom in the department stores category.

The 2008 FT200, published in the October issue of Franchise Times, indicates that the 4,630 Ace store locations domestically and abroad generated $12.5 billion in retail sales during 2007. Ace has held the fifth-place position since 2006 and was the only non-quick service restaurant or convenience store to rank in the top five. (McDonald's, 7-Eleven, KFC and Burger King held the other four positions.)

"The superior sales and customer service performance of Ace locations throughout the world truly speaks to the strength of Ace's brand power and our successful business model -- even in this difficult economic climate," Griffith said.

Franchise Times is a news and information source for franchise owners, operators and senior executives of multi-unit franchise companies.

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