Ace Hardware plays offense in Denver
Denver — The air was thick with sports metaphors during Ace Hardware’s General Session of the 2011 Denver Fall Convention & Exhibits.
Ace’s top marketing and merchandising executives mixed retail strategies with quotes from Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi during a presentation in which they described the top 10 plays for winning at retail. The session even included half-time highlights of power tools and football touchdowns.
One of the top plays for Ace retailers, according to the co-op, is to get on board with Clark + Kensington, Ace’s new entrant in the premium paint category. "Clark + Kensington is the cornerstone to revitalizing our paint business," said Ken Goodgame, Ace’s general merchandise manager. "It’s easy to apply, easy to sell. It’s one of the greatest product launches ever in Ace history."
That statement is based partly on dealer acceptance of Clark + Kensington. So far, 1,500 stores have signed up to participate. The product will have a national launch in March, and the co-op is looking to have more than 2,500 stores participating.
John Surane, senior VP consumer marketing, merchandising and paint, said Craftsman outdoor power equipment and hand and power tools are two other top plays for retailers.
The 1,000 stores up and running with Craftsman hand and power tools have seen category sales increase 14% and gross profit increase 6%, he said.
The relaunch of AceHardware.com in 2012 will be a significant opportunity for Ace retailers, according to the merchants.
Other "top plays," as described by the Ace merchants, include:
• Participating in the five national advertising events planned for 2012;
• Fully integrated line reviews;
• The Ace Rewards Visa, which offers a $100 statement credit for consumers who sign up for the card;
• Live goods and lawn and garden opportunities; and
• Promotion of "own the mile," and the concept that Ace stores are important businesses to the community they serve.
Explaining the "own the mile" play, Jeff Gooding, Ace’s director of consumer marketing, said: "There is a growing movement among consumers to shop local. This [program] sets you apart from the boxes with compelling reasons to shop your store. They don’t have them. You do."
At Ace Convention, Griffith points to sales momentum
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.
Do it Best Corp. names communications director
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.