DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Ace kicks off Paint Studio campaign

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware has rolled out what it’s calling its biggest ad campaign ever to promote the co-op’s new Paint Studio offering.

And if the ads look like a high-end cosmetic commercial, that’s by design. The campaign, jointly developed by Ace and Valspar, is called "Helpful is Beautiful." [Watch the commercial here.]

The Paint Studio is launching nationally this month at more than 3,200 Ace stores, according to the co-op.

“The Paint Studio at Ace is truly a new and better way to shop for paint,” said Mary Rice, president and general manager, Ace Paint Division. “With new colors, trusted brands and a boutique feel specializing in personalized attention and service, we are thrilled to provide consumers with a completely new paint shopping experience that’s designed to help them find their perfect color.”

The “Helpful is Beautiful” campaign is the largest ad campaign in Ace’s history. It includes television, radio, print, social, digital and point-of-sale components reminiscent of beauty advertisements.

“For years, women have expressed loyalty to their favorite cosmetics brands and the inspiring shopping experience that comes along with it,” said John Surane, executive VP marketing, merchandising and sales for Ace Hardware. “Ace and Valspar recognize the emotional response evoked by color and built the ‘Helpful is Beautiful’ campaign and The Paint Studio at Ace around this connection as a way to offer consumers a differentiating paint shopping experience featuring the brands they know and trust.”

Also today, the co-op launched ThePaintStudio.com to support and promote its paint offering. 

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True Value CFO looks back at Q1

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Chicago-based True Value Co. senior VP and CFO David Shadduck liked what he saw during the first quarter, and didn’t hesitate to describe the cold and snowy winter as a net gain for the co-op’s 4,500 retailers.

The co-op reported gross billings of $460.1 million for the quarter, up 3.6% from $444.2 million for the same period a year ago. Revenue was $331.5 million, an increase of 6.0%.

In an interview with HCN, the number about which Shadduck seemed most enthusiastic was the 7.3% gain in retail comp-store sales.

"Our retailers are excited with all the additional volume they got to sell at retail, up 7.3%, and a contributor of that was the longer winter season, which helped them at retail, helped them from a profit standpoint and helped their cash flow," he said.

The company reported higher gross margins on weather-related products, which were sold at regular prices for a longer period of time than usual, he said. Referring to shovels, ice melt and the like, he said, "they were not discounted because they were in high demand."

True Value reports gross billings and revenue. The first is the combined sales of products through its distribution system plus the direct-ship sales from vendors to members. The second measures the sales of merchandise from True Value warehouses, plus the nominal markup.

"We’re thrilled with how the year has started," Shadduck said.

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True Value posts first-quarter gains

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pointing to success of an expanded farm, ranch, auto and pet assortments, Chicago-based True Value posted gains in gross billings and revenues for the first quarter ended March 29.

The co-op reported gross billings of $460.1 million for the quarter, up 3.6% from $444.2 million for the same period a year ago. Revenue was $331.5 million, an increase of 6.0%.

The cooperative posted a quarterly net margin of $0.9 million, up slightly from $0.4 million a year ago.

A pet display at the recent True Value Reunion in Atlanta

"We had a great first quarter from a sales perspective, driven by the ongoing rollout of our expanded farm, ranch, auto and pet assortments and strong demand in winter weather-related product classes that carry higher gross margin rates,” said president and CEO John Hartmann. "We continue to add new stores and assist our retailers in investing in their stores by remodeling to the Destination True Value format. We also installed new paint colorant systems in about 1,000 stores." 

Retail comp-store sales were up 7.3% in the quarter with increases in each region of the country and in each of our nine product categories, the company said. Co-op revenue was up 6.0% and up in all but one region of the country and in seven of nine product categories. The increase was led by the farm, ranch, auto and pet, seasonal, plumbing and paint categories.

Gross billings from new stores exceeded lost revenue from terminated stores by $6.9 million. Wholesale comparative-store sales, on a gross billings basis, were up 2.0% in the quarter.

The net margin increase for the quarter was primarily driven by two factors: higher sales volume out of the regional distribution network and a higher average gross margin rate. The latter resulted from a shift in the mix toward more regular replenishment orders versus promotional or discounted product orders.

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