HARDWARE STORES

At Blain’s, Jane Blain Gilbertson named chief

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Jane Blain Gilbertson assumed the role of CEO and sole owner of Blain Supply and Blain’s Farm and Fleet, taking over from her brother Robert Blain who will retire June 25. 

Janesville, Wisconsin-based Blain’s Farm and Fleet was founded in 1955 and operates 35 farm and ranch locations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The company employs about 4,000.

In a statement announcing the transition, Blain Gilbertson added, "This has always been a family business, and it will continue to be a strong, family owned business. It was especially important to Robert, me and our respective families that we remain a close family as well through this transition, which we have already accomplished. 

Robert Blain has served as president of the company since the death of Bert Blain in 1993.

During Robert’s 20 years as president, the companies opened stores in seven new markets taking the store count from 28 to 35 in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. The company also completely replaced eight existing stores with new facilities and underwent dozens of store expansions and remodels during that period. 

The company will open its 36th store in Dubuque, Iowa, this fall. 

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Sears Hometown dips in Q1

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores net sales dipped 1.9% to $589.9 million for the 13-week period ended May 3.

Net income also failed to impress, dropping from approximately $15.0 million in 2013 to $3.68 million in 2014.

Like many others this quarter, president and CEO Bruce Johnson attributed the weak performance to the weather, as well as insufficient stock of high-margin appliances and a competitive retail market that was aggressively promotional.

"While these three items significantly affected the first quarter, we expect their balance-of-year impact to diminish," said Johnson. "In particular, we do not expect that weather will play a major role during the remainder of the fiscal year with respect to seasonal lawn and garden as this product category shrinks as a percentage of our total sales after June, and we saw more moderate weather in May."

Johnson added that the company’s sourcing initiatives are well underway, and the addition of more high-margin merchandise is likely to help boost sales.

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CNRG goes West with Parkrose Hardware

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Central Network Retail Group, or CNRG, has acquired Parkrose Hardware. In doing so, the collection of hardware store and lumberyard retail brands expands West for the first time, with locations in Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.

CRNG’s footprint expands to 45 locations, including the Parkrose acquisition.

"Parkrose is our first step out West and will serve as a foundation for our growth in the Pacific Northwest," said Jimmy R. Smith, chairman of CNRG.

Parkrose operates a traditional full-assortment hardware store, plus a strong fastener department and rental department, according to CNRG. It also runs a thriving commercial and industrial division.

Bryan Ableidinger, Parkrose’s co-owner, was honored by the North American Retail Hardware Association in 2009 as an industry "Top Gun", the same year that Smith was similarly honored. He will continue to work with Parkrose and serve as a consultant to CNRG on other initiatives. 

CNRG President Boyden Moore said: "We are excited about the addition of Parkrose Hardware’s award-winning brand and team to our company."

CNRG operates in nine states with ten different brands. 

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