DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

At Ace Convention, Griffith points to sales momentum

BY Ken Clark

Denver — Ace Hardware stores are showing strong same-store sales, while the distributor’s wholesale sales are running ahead of the budgeted 3% growth, CEO Ray Griffith told dealers.

Speaking Saturday morning at the General Session of the co-op’s 2011 Convention & Exhibits here at the Colorado Convention Center, Griffith said data from about 3,000 Ace stores show a 2.4% comparable-store sales increase over last year. In each of the last four months, the stores showed comp-sales increases of more than 4%. 

"These results beat some pretty impressive retailers," Griffith said, pointing to Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and Kohls. 

Turning to the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op’s financial performance, Griffith said wholesale sales year-to-date are running 5% ahead of last year. The co-op showed a 2.1% sales gain in 2010 and budgeted a 3% gain in 2011. The 5% increase is the largest sales increase since 2007. 

Recent figures are even more encouraging, he said. September was up 15.5%, and October is trending at 13.3%. "There are many retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers who would love to say they have a 5% increase going in 2011," Griffith said. 

The CEO added that the co-op is confident it will exceed its budgeted bottom-line net income goal of $75 million.

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Do it Best Corp. names communications director

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Fort Wayne, Ind.-based co-op Do it Best Corp. named company veteran Randy Rusk as its new communications director.

In the position, Rusk will help develop and implement the Do it Best Corp. communications strategy and manage all internal and external communications efforts, including video, education and training initiatives, creative development and campaign execution, as well as media and public relations.

“We are very excited to have Randy assume his new role as communications director,” said Tim Miller, VP marketing for Do it Best Corp. “His extensive experience with our company brings with it a valuable knowledge base and a thorough understanding of our mission, goals and philosophy. His diverse background and knowledge of our business and the industry will serve our member-owners and our company very well.” 

Rusk is a 17-year veteran of Do it Best Corp., having served in several leadership and marketing roles, most recently as a senior human resources administrator, where he was involved with the co-op’s internal staff communication efforts. Prior to that, he helped lead the Do it Best Corp. video services department where he oversaw the development of promotional and training materials.

Rusk replaces Jeff Benzing, who left the company last month. 

 

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True Value shows off DTV in a small format

BY Ken Clark

Store design and the art of packing high-volume sales in a small space was one of the front-and-center topics at the True Value Market in Philadelphia.

The company’s Destination True Value (DTV) initiative — its store design and merchandising concept — came to Philadelphia in a new package that measured just over 5,200 sq. ft. The concept store, on full display at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, included 50% less lineal feet than the medium-size DTV format, but had 68% of the SKU count, according to the co-op.

According to Mike Clark, senior VP and chief merchandising officer for True Value, the new small store concept might not be for everyone, but it offers options for most. Design innovations, such as shorter hooks and space-saving fixtures, can be adopted by just about any retailer.

"What this exercise in downsizing showed us is that for any of you who have space constraints, you can now use our merchandising direction to expand into new categories while maintaining dominance in important lines like light bulbs, cleaning chemicals, paint sundries, builders’ hardware and fasteners and lawn and garden chemicals," Clark said during his general session presentation.

The co-op’s merchandising team developed 79 new planograms to help organize the store. 

True Value expects to add more than 1.1 million DTV square footage in 2011, a 25% increase over last year.

"Not only are the DTV stores outperforming the non-DTV stores, they’re way outperforming the industry and the economy," said Lyle Heidemann, True Value CEO.

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