Emery CEO embraces change
Emery-Waterhouse CEO Steve Frawley anticipates changes now that Ace Hardware has acquired the 170-year-old regional wholesale distributor. Some will be subtle, some substantial, and some as yet unknown.
The deal, terms of which were not revealed, also marks the beginning of a separation between Portland, Maine-based Emery and Distribution America, the co-operative of nine regional distributors that pool together as a buying group.
“We are working out a transition plan,” Frawley said. “We are one of the founding members [of Distribution America], and they’ve done a terrific job for us.”
On the new business arrangement with Ace, Frawley described the Emery model as a “high-touch, high-service personalized business.” Looking at Ace, he sees a lot more clout on the buying side and “world-class distribution,” he said.
While the plan calls for Emery to operate independently as a majority-owned subsidiary of Ace, both companies say they expect to benefit through combination. Frawley says he is excited about the potential for sharing of best practices. And as previously reported, Ace CEO John Venhuizen said both Ace retailers and Emery customers would see additional scale and expanded assortments.
The two companies’ differences make for an intriguing combination. Emery is a wholesale distributor with retail customers. Ace is a co-operative with retail member-owners. Emery has two distribution centers, one in Portland, Maine; one in Pittston, Pa. Ace operates 14 “Retail Support Centers” around the country. Some 65% of Emery’s business is focused on the pro dealer, whereas Ace is a convenience hardware powerhouse.
“We think we have an opportunity to offer our customers the best of both worlds,” Frawley said. “Compatibility is there. And so is the ability to add more value and services to the customer.”
Emery’s focus is on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, but the deal introduces the possibility of expansion beyond its traditional boundaries, as long as the distributor continues to improve and win customers, Frawley said.
He also sees the Ace deal as a move that puts Emery in a better position to navigate intense industry competition and consolidation.
“When you look at this world, you see it getting just more competitive,” Frawley said. “And it’s not necessarily the independents competing against each other. It’s the Wall Street guys — Home Depot and Lowe’s – that are the real challenge.”
Frawley added: “The sale is not going to define Emery. What’s going to define us are the decisions we make now, and how we service our customers.”
No comments found
Ace recognizes its Vendors of the Year
Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware Corp. recognized seven vendors for their superior commitment and service to the hardware cooperative, its retailers and customers at the 2014 Spring Convention and Exhibits held February 24-26 in Houston.
This year’s collection of Ace Vendor of the Year award winners are:
• Allway Tools, a premier manufacturer of paint sundries and specialized tools, based in the Bronx, N.Y.
• Berry Plastics, a leading provider of value-added plastic consumer packaging and engineered materials, based in Evansville, Ind.
• DeWalt, a leading manufacturer of industrial power tools, based in Baltmiore, Md.
• Duracell, headquartered in Toronto and part of the Procter & Gamble Company, Durcell is one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of high-performance alkaline batteries.
• Scotts, a premier brand of fertilizers and grass seed, part of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, based in Marysville, Ohio.
• W. J. Dennis, the Ace Hardware International Vendor of the Year, based in Elgin, Ill., a leading manufacturer of weatherstripping products.
In addition, Leominster, Mass., based Leaktite, a leading manufacturer of buckets, pails, trays and liners, was recognized as the Ace Hardware Foundation Vendor of the Year. In 2013, Leaktite created the colorful, standout buckets used during the Foundation’s first-ever bucket promotion benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“The vendors that we celebrate this week demonstrate an industry-leading product management and development discipline, meet our rigid supply chain requirements and actively assist Ace in driving sales,” said Frank Carroll, General Merchandise Manager, Ace Hardware Corporation.
No comments found
True Value Q4 gross billings up 1.3%
Chicago-based True Value Company reported gross billings of $457.3 million for the quarter ending Dec. 28, an increase of 1.3 % from $451.5 million for the prior year quarter.
Revenue was $340.7 million, an increase of 0.2%. The co-op posted quarterly earnings of $12.5 million, down 57% from $29.1 million for the same period a year ago. Last year’s earnings were inflated by a $16.5 million non-recurring gain. Excluding that gain, earnings were down 0.8%.
For the full year, True Value also reported gross billings of $1.9 billion, an increase of 0.9% from the same period a year ago. Revenue was $1,411.5 million, an increase of 1.0%. Comparable-store sales to retailers were up 2.4% on a gross billings basis and up 1.6% on a revenue basis. Retailer comp store sales were up 2.1%, based on over 1,600 reporting retailers.
The co-op posted earnings of $55.3 million, a decrease of 26.2% or $19.6 million, from $74.9 million for the same period a year ago. The profit decrease was primarily driven by a 2012 fourth quarter litigation settlement gain of an ongoing matter. The profit decrease was 5.3%, excluding the one-time gain.
“We ramped things up in late summer, right through December, and I’m pleased to report we ended the year with increases in gross billings, revenue and comparable store sales,” said President and CEO John Hartmann. “Our largest increase in both retail and wholesale comp store sales was in the farm, ranch, auto & pet product category. This category was up at wholesale 11.2%.”
The company reported the earnings at its True Value Reunion in Atlanta, which ended Monday.