Ace Hardware gets to work in Chicago
Chicago — At Ace Hardware's general session — part state-of-the-business address, part pep-session — executives celebrated overall business growth and laid out some plans for bigger, bolder and smarter investments in the brand.
Serving as the kickoff for the Aug. 20-22 Ace Fall Convention & Exhibits, the Thursday morning general session included plenty of performance-related statistics. John Surane, executive VP merchandising, marketing and sales for the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op, highlighted some positive trends over the last three years, among them: 514 new stores, wholesale sales up $1.2 billion and retail transactions up 4.6%.
"But are we satisfied?" Surane asked the audience of dealers assembled in the packed Arie Crown Theater of the McCormick Place Convention Center. "No way."
Surane and CEO John Venhuizen encouraged dealer members to keep up the pressure. "There are far too many enemies with far too much money to think we can coast," Venhuizen said.
"We live in a world where the stuff we sell is increasingly price transparent, and the people we sell to are increasingly price sensitive," Venhuizen added.
Along those lines, the co-op emphasized a need to make "bigger, bolder and smarter" investments in the brand. That includes more TV and digital exposure, deeper penetration of Ace Rewards in local markets, and an organized effort to increase margins on promotional items.
During a general session video, various merchandise managers promoted their highlights, including "farm and rural," — a large and growing category in which poultry-related products have shown triple digit growth in the last five years — pet supplies, cleaning supplies, and lawn and garden.
Also to kick off the convention, Ace presented its 2015 All Star Retailer award to Dan Olson of Olson's Ace Hardware, Franklin Park, Illinois, in whose name $25,000 will be presented to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
The ideas of leadership and community service figured prominently in Venhuizen's opening and closing remarks.
"Yes we keep score with money, but business is about people," he said. "A lucrative store enables you to be about something way bigger than just money."
Infographic: True Value’s Q2
True Value Company reported second-quarter revenue of $431.9 million yesterday, an increase of 0.6%.
Here's another way to get a grasp on the co-op's quarterly performance: through a handy infographic detailing highlights from the report.
Ace nets significant income in Q2
Ace Hardware Corporation managed to secure a 6.5% year-over-year revenue increase in the second quarter, but with a quarterly net income that was the second highest in company history, its bottom line made news on Wednesday.
Ace netted total income of $57.5 million in the second quarter, which secured near-record status despite being $9.0 million below last year's figure.
The co-op pulled in revenues of $1.4 billion in the second quarter, an increase of $86.2 million year-over-year. Sales were particularly strong in outdoor living, electrical and lawn and garden.
Same-store sales were also up during the first half of 2015, increasing 6.5% for the roughly 3,000 Ace retailers who share daily retail sales data.
Meanwhile, sales for Ace Retail Holdings LLC was up 7.2% thanks to increases in customer count and average transaction size.
"Ace’s record second quarter revenues for the second consecutive year were a direct result of the hard and effective work of our great people and world class retailers," said John Venhuizen, president and CEO. "While our net income declined from last year, we are still far ahead of our plan and believe the investments we are making are a significant driver of the impressive 4.6% increase in retail same-store-sales for the quarter.”
An impressive balance sheet was not the only accomplishment on Ace's books.
The company was also recently recognized as one of the National Retail Federation's 2015 fastest growing retailers, and it was ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction" for the ninth consecutive year according to J.D. Power.
The co-op also had an additional four stores to account for in the second quarter, having added 31 new stores and canceled 27. That's up 30 stores from the second quarter of 2014.