Deering Lumber acquires two units
Deering Lumber, the Biddeford, Maine-based pro dealer, has purchased two stores from New England Building Materials, according to a report in Wired Weekly, the newsletter of the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA). Deering now operates four retail locations.
New England Building Materials filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed its three yards in Massachusetts in February, four months after shuttering yards in Springvale and Windham, Maine, and selling three mid-coast Maine branches to Hammond Lumber. Its remaining locations were a retail outlet in Sanford, along with a sawmill.
At the end of April, the Sanford showroom reopened under the Deering name, while the Springvale location is being remodeled in hopes of reopening in June. New England Building Materials will continue to operate its sawmill and sell products through Deering stores.
Originally called Lavalley Lumber, New England Building Materials started as a lumber mill in 1943 until 2009, when it purchased three Massachusetts yards from Stock Building Supply and became New England Building Materials.
Retailers protest wood import restrictions
A representative of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) testified before a U.S. Congress subcommittee on May 8 about concerns surrounding compliance challenges that have emerged from the 2008 Lacey Act, especially concerning wood imports.
Laurie Everill, regional customer and compliance manager for IKEA-North America, spoke before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife Oceans and Insular Affairs. She pointed out that, among other things, the Lacey Act law requires importers to provide to U.S. Customs and the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service such details as the genus, species and country of harvest for products that include wood materials.
“The current bills in the House — Tennessee Congressman Cooper’s RELIEF Act and Georgia Congressman Broun’s FOCUS Act — have raised awareness of Members of Congress and the public to the practical challenges related to the Lacey Act Amendments,” said Everill in testimony submitted to Congress. “However, neither of these bills would adequately address these challenges, and in order to be credible, any change needs to be supported by the environmental community. We are looking for a new legislative approach that effectively addresses the issues of business stakeholders, stands the best chance of generating broad, bipartisan support in Congress and all stakeholders, but without undermining the very important goal to stop illegal logging.”
In a prepared statement, Stephanie Lester, RILA’s VP international trade, said: “While retailers strongly support efforts to combat illegal logging, there is a growing recognition that compliance with the Lacey Act is very difficult. Simple changes to the law would help retailers comply and achieve the policy goals shared by RILA, our members and the law’s most strident advocates.”
To make implementation of the Lacey Act more targeted and effective, retailers are seeking changes to the law that would simplify the import declaration, ensure due process, clarify the scope of applicable foreign laws and regulations, and exclude products manufactured before the Lacey Act Amendment was enacted in 2008.
Based in Washington, D.C., RILA is a trade association of the world’s largest retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales.
Sales rise, losses narrow at BFS
Builders FirstSource, the Dallas-based pro dealer, posted net sales of $219.4 million for its first fiscal quarter of 2012, a 34.7% hike over sales of $162.8 million in the same quarter of 2011. The increase was primarily due to increased sales volume as commodity prices for lumber and lumber sheet goods in the quarter were, on average, comparable to the same period a year ago, the company said. The increased sales volume was achieved across all product categories, and Builders FirstSource reported that it “continued to expand our customer base while increasing our sales to existing customers.”
The LBM chain posted a net loss of $19.1 million for its first fiscal quarter, which ended March 31, 2012. This compares to a net loss of $21.2 million a year ago.
“We have continued to manage our operating expenses with a key focus on conserving liquidity,” the company said in its financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). “Our selling, general and administrative expenses, as a percentage of sales, decreased 5.5% in the quarter compared to the same period a year ago. We have made significant changes to our business during the downturn that have improved our operating efficiency and allowed us to better leverage our operating costs against changes in sales. The continued execution of our cost containment strategies along with our improved operating results contributed to us ending the quarter with $94.6 million of liquidity, which includes $129.6 million of cash reduced by the $35.0 million minimum cash requirement in our term loan.
“We still believe that the long-term outlook for the housing industry is positive due to growth in the underlying demographics. We believe we are well-positioned to take advantage of any construction activity in our markets and will continue to increase our market share. We will continue to focus on working capital by closely monitoring the credit exposure of our customers and by working with our vendors to improve our payment terms and pricing on our products. We will also continue to work diligently to achieve the appropriate balance of short-term cost reductions while maintaining the expertise to grow the business when market conditions improve. We want to create long-term shareholder value and avoid taking steps that will limit our ability to compete,” the SEC filing said.