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Earnings fall at Stock, Ferguson

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wolseley, the parent company of Stock Building Supply and Ferguson Enterprises, reported a 10 percent drop in revenues for its North American division during the five-month period ending Dec. 31, 2007. Earnings for the division, which also includes Wolseley’s Canadian operations, fell more than 40 percent.

Stock lost approximately 25 million pounds (US$49.3 million) in the five-month period, compared to a 45 million pound (US$88.7 million) profit in the comparable period a year ago. The Raleigh, N.C.-based pro dealer eliminated 1,500 jobs in the first quarter.

Plumbing wholesaler Ferguson saw a 3 percent rise in revenues due to acquisitions but a 3 percent drop in organic sales growth during the period. Profits were down 3 percent for the Newport News, Va.-based company. Since August 2007, Ferguson’s headcount has been reduced by 1,500.

Stock and Ferguson are no longer obligated to report their financial results to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Wolseley delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, effective Dec. 31, 2007, as a cost-saving measure, according to the company. Wolseley’s shares continue to trade on the over-the-counter market. The company is also listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Headquartered in Reading, England, Wolseley is an international building materials distributor with nearly 5,000 branch operations in 28 countries.

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New professional group focuses on building products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Construction Specifications Institute, an Alexandria, Va.-based organization of specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors and building material suppliers, has announced the formation of the Building Product Manufacturers Alliance (BPMA). This new group, which will meet for the first time on March 3 to 5 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, will share common issues, challenges and best practices to meet the needs of the changing marketplace.

“Today’s construction market increasingly calls for high-performance buildings, environmentally friendly materials and practices and technologically advanced components,” said Walter Marlowe, executive director and CEO of the Construction Specifications Institute.

The Construction Specifications Institute is a national organization dedicated to creating standards and formats to improve construction documents and project delivery. It has 146 chapters across the United States. For more information about the BPMA and its inaugural conference, visit www.csinet.org/bpma.

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Sears Holdings unveils shake-up

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sears Holdings plans a major reorganization of its internal structure, moving toward an interconnected group of independent businesses with more autonomy than is currently in place.

“We are introducing an organizational structure that provides operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy,” read a statement from the parent of Sears and Kmart stores. The company said its various operating businesses will be given a “designated leader and an advisory group comprised of senior Sears Holdings executives to provide direction and oversee the business unit’s performance.”

Sears representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The move comes after the retailer announced weak holiday results and a melancholy outlook for the fourth quarter.

Earlier this month, Sears Holdings announced declines in comparable-store sales for both its Sears and Kmart stores for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 5 and offered sober guidance for the upcoming quarter.

Sears domestic saw a 2.8 percent decline during the months of November and December, while Kmart’s comparable-store sales declined 4.2 percent for the period. Total domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.5 percent for the nine-week period, the company said. The most notable declines occurred in the Sears apparel and tools categories and the Kmart seasonal categories.

The company attributed the declines to increased competition and the negative impact of unfavorable economic conditions.

Sears Holdings also announced its fourth-quarter projections. The company expects net income for the quarter to be in the range of $350 million to $470 million, or $2.59 to $3.48 per share — down from earlier analyst estimates of $4.43 per share.

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