HARDWARE STORES

Do it Best store opens in Nebraska

BY Ken Clark

On the site of a former Mead Lumber Co. location, a C&L Hardware opens in Ashland, Neb., according to an article on JouranlStar.com.

Store manager Larry Lemon told the news outlet: “We’re going to have more hardware than lumber, but we’re going to offer lumber, too.”

The Do it Best store is owned by Dean and Mila Curtis. It is located in Ashland at the site of what was a Mead Lumber Co. location.

Mead Lumber, also a member of the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best co-op, continues to operate about 40 locations in Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado.

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OSH looks to reposition and refinance

BY Ken Clark

San Jose, Calif.-based Orchard Supply Hardware said sales were down in 2012, but the company pointed to improved “financial flexibility.”  

Orchard Supply Hardware Stores (OSH) says it is trying to modify its term loan debt and work to improve its capital structure. 

In the meantime, the company’s preliminary tally for sales for the full year and the fourth quarter both slipped, despite carrying an extra week.  Preliminary net sales for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2, 2013 (14 weeks), were $153.4 million compared with net sales of $141.6 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 (13 weeks). Net sales for fiscal 2012 (53 weeks) were $657.6 million compared with net sales of $660.5 million in fiscal 2011 (52 weeks).

The company expanded its existing Senior Secured Credit Facility with Wells Fargo Capital Finance and Bank of America, N.A., increasing total borrowing capacity to $145.0 million through the addition of a $17.5 million last-in-last-out supplemental term loan tranche. 

“We are very pleased to have expanded our credit facility, as planned, and improved our financial flexibility, both of which provide additional liquidity as we enter our peak spring selling season,” said CEO Mark Baker. 

A bright spot for the company, he said, are the company’s new-format stores. Sales at these remodeled locations continued to outpace the balance of its stores. While the company continued to experience merchandise margin pressure in the fourth quarter, merchandise margin improved sequentially over the course of the quarter.

“We currently have 10 stores in our more productive neighborhood format and we are pleased with the sales growth we have seen to date at these stores, including results in the fourth quarter, which were improved from earlier in the year,” said CEO Mark Baker. “We look forward to bringing our new format to another 10 stores in fiscal 2013 through remodels and new store openings.” 

The company expects to report final fiscal 2012 financial results in late April. 

“We have made significant strides in transforming the Orchard brand and our business since December 2011 when we became an independent public company. At the same time, we recognize that we did not achieve all of our objectives of the past year and that we continue to face challenges ahead,” Baker said.

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Jun-27-2014 06:01 pm

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Hot seat: Handy Hardware looks for new leader

BY Ken Clark

The search is on for a new leader at Handy Hardware Wholesale, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month. 

In an unusual step, the Houston-based co-op’s search committee “has established that former employees of Handy will not be considered for this position,” wrote current president and CFO Tommy Schifanella in a letter to vendors. “It is our goal to bring outside talent to the organization as we move into our future.”

Among the qualifications sought are “a strategic visionary with sound technical skills, analytical ability, good judgment and a strong operational focus.”

Whoever is tapped will face the difficult challenge of bringing a co-op distributor back from bankruptcy in a field where there is no shortage of distributor competition. 

According to Handy’s bankruptcy filing, the list of Handy creditors holding the largest unsecured claims is topped by American Water Heater Co. with an amount of $1.4 million. Also in the top six are Southwire Company  ($620,000), Averitt Express ($611,000), Charlotte Pipe & Foundry ($385,000) and PrimeSource ($365,000).

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