Tractor Supply has irons in the fire

Here are five ways the farm and ranch giant plans to expand and improve in 2017.

TSCO is expanding its customer loyalty program.

During a year more challenging than most for Tractor Supply, the Tennessee-based retailer still posted double-digit percentage increases in net sales and net earnings for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.

Beyond the top and bottom lines, the company revealed a number of initiatives in various stages of completion.  Here are five highlights from the earnings call.

• Tractor Supply expects to open approximately 100 new Tractor Supply stores in 2017, with around 45% scheduled to open in the first half of the year. The company will continue the transition of its Del's stores into Tractor Supply stores, and we expect to close nine Del's stores as it continues its Tractor Supply Western expansion plan.

• The company has big plans for Petsense, its recent pet store acquisition. Tractor Supply intends to grow the store base by 25 to 30 stores in 2017. The company is engaged in sharing best practices, and has already converted its two HomeTown Pet stores to the Petsense operation. “Petsense has a proven store growth model, and with the addition of a digital component at some point, this will only broaden the offerings for the small town pet customer,” said Tractor Supply CEO Greg Sandfort.

• Based on the knowledge that customers want more personalized interaction with Tractor Supply, the retailer is speeding up the rollout of its Neighbor’s Club program. The program was live in more than 600 stores at the end of the year. All stores are expected to be up and running with Neighbor’s Club sometime in the second quarter of 2017.

The Neighbor’s Club customer loyalty program was launched in 140 stores in October of 2016. The fourth quarter was the first full three months with the program in place.

• On the distribution side of the business, the company will begin construction of a new DC in the Northeast later in 2017. Also, Tractor Supply’s Waverly, Nebraska, DC will be expanded.

• Feedback from the field team as well as customer in late 2016 led to the understanding that customers want more access. As a result, the retailer boosted the number of products online through its drop-ship program. Furthermore, it expanded its Buy Online Pickup in Store Program.

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