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Best Buy sees dip in appliances sales

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Electronics retailer Best Buy saw a big dip in sales of appliances in the first quarter, with comparable-store sales down 10.6 percent in that category.

Best Buy acknowledged a “challenging” environment in the category. The company said it attempted to offset some of the price declines by instituting price increases.

Still, the company said in a statement, “Best Buy estimates that it is increasing its market share in appliances as customers chose Best Buy’s energy-efficient assortment and customer-focused labor model.”

Total earnings for the electronics retailer were $179 million, down 6.7 percent from $192 million in the previous year. Sales rose, however, 13.9 percent to $9 billion from $7.9 billion in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales rose 3.7 percent overall.

“It is very early in what we still expect to be a volatile year for the consumer,” said Jim Muehlbauer, executive vp-finance and CFO for Best Buy. “While the challenges in the external environment will continue to make consumer spending difficult to predict, we are very encouraged by the local growth plans we’ve developed to serve our customers both today and into the future.”

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Sports marketing lifts Makita

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toolmaker Makita USA credited its off-the-beaten path marketing strategy as one reason for the company’s relative sales strength. Rather than invest in Nascar and NFL, the power tool manufacturer has chosen to spend marketing dollars in what it calls “highly targeted sports: dirt bike racing and soccer.”

“We looked for sports where we could enjoy a major presence and be meaningful to the passionate fans,” said Makita vp-marketing Ken Hefley.

The company said the marketing strategy is paying off. North American sales for Japan-based Makita increased 9.6 percent for the year, to 56.422 billion yen (US$493 million). Makita USA said it posted a double-digit increase in sales compared to the power tool category for the same year.

Targeting an audience of 18-to-35-year-old pro tradesmen, the company created Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki. At the same time, Makita views its relationship with Majo League Soccer as a bridge to the growing base of Hispanic contractors, an important demographic for the company.

In its most recent promotion, Makita is promoting the “Makita Building America’s Soccer Stadiums,” a program designed to make Makita the “tool brand of choice” for the construction of soccer-specific stadiums.

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Ace realigns retail operations team

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware has announced that Kane Calamari — an Ace employee from 1990-1998 — has rejoined the company as vp-retail operations. At the same time, Ken Nichols, who had been serving in that role, was promoted to senior vp-retail operations. Both Calamari and Nichols are based at Ace’s Oak Brook, Ill., headquarters.

In his new role, Calamari, 41, oversees the field operations team consisting of regional and district managers; the field new business team of market development managers; the paint field team and the Oak Brook-based operations administration staff.

Before rejoining Ace, Calamari was senior vp-sales for North America at Robert Bosch Tool. While at Ace, he held various positions, including retail marketing manager. Nichols, 59, originally joined Ace in 1978 and was named vp-retail operations in 2000.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Kane back to Ace and to promote Ken,” said Ace president and CEO Ray Griffith. “This new alignment of our retail operations team will further help us support our stores and continue to drive success at retail.”

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