Chicago -- With a view toward driving profitable sales, Ace VP merchandising John Surane pointed to some merchandise initiatives, regional wins and corporate strategies during the co-op's 2011 Ace Convention and Exhibits.
One of the brightest merchandising spots was the Craftsman tools brand. Back in February 2010, Ace and Sears announced a partnership that opened the way for Ace retailers to sell the Sears-owned Craftsman brand.
"We have enough numbers in the bank now to know that this is working," Surane said. He said the tools category has seen 20% sales growth, 9% transactions growth and 9% gross profit growth for those roughly 500 stores participating in Craftsman programs.
Some 500 stores are already participating in the Craftsman program, and the company projects a rollout of 900 in 2011. But there's no reason that number couldn't be much higher, he said.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we're back in the tool business, with Craftsman," Surane said.
And to make it easier for smaller stores to participate, the Craftsman booth was showing off its latest program -- a Craftsman merchandise program designed for the needs of smaller stores.
Surane pointed to some regional wins -- including a member who introduced the Bird Niche and recognized category sales gains of more than 100% in the first 120 days. The Bird Niche program is 48 linear feet and 800 sq. ft. of floor space. Ace's Wild Bird Food is No. 1 in sales, No. 1 in transactions and No. 3 in profit as a "Red Hot Buy" at the show.
One of the keys to profitable sales is cost of goods, and Surane offered a commitment on behalf of the co-op: "We will compete and dominate this area," he said.