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Ferguson signs with Big Hammer

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ferguson, a division of Wolseley, teamed up with technology provider Edgenet for a data synchronization solution. Ferguson, the largest distributor of plumbing supplies and the third largest supplier of heating and cooling equipment in the United States, has chosen Big Hammer Data, a division of Edgenet, for GS1 GDSN and marketing data pool services. Big Hammer will provide Ferguson with the people, process and technology to support data synchronization for Ferguson’s thousands of vendors and more than 300,000 products, according to the Nashville-based company.

Ferguson will begin synchronizing data by the end of 2008.

“The partnership with Big Hammer provides vendors with an opportunity to increase sales with Ferguson and create data transfer efficiencies and cost-savings in their own organizations at the same time,” said Chris Ann Jackson, Ferguson’s manager of eBusiness. “It was important to us to select a partner that understood the depth of our relationships with our vendors and the need to add value for them as a part of this process.”

Ferguson will use the product content from the Edgenet Network to drive business to their ecommerce initiatives and to provide product content for integration with their SAP business applications. The Edgenet Network, which includes Big Hammer, will provide Ferguson the ability to collaborate, collect and share product content from their vendors with their internal applications and selling partners.

“The addition of Ferguson helps Big Hammer expand its hardlines presence especially in the industrial supply, plumbing and HVAC areas,” said Joe Czarnecky, senior vp-data services at Edgenet.

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Big-box construction firm files Chapter 11

BY HBSDEALER Staff

March Associates, a commercial construction firm that built several Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in northern New Jersey, has filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization. The Wayne, N.J., firm listed assets of $5.9 million and liabilities of $4.8 million in its court filing.

Sloan & Co. of West Caldwell, N.J., an interior finishing company, holds the largest unsecured claim of $1.17 million. Also listed among the unsecured creditors is the Lakewood, N.J., branch of Ferguson, a division of Wolseley, with $190,943 in unpaid debt.

An attorney for March Associates told the Herald News that a dispute over a luxury condo project held up a $6 million payment to March Associates. After subcontractors began obtaining judgments against the construction firm for non-payment, the company was forced to file for bankruptcy protection to keep its creditors at bay, the lawyer said.

In addition to building big-box stores, March Associates was also known for erecting large shopping centers and public works projects such as the 42,000-square-foot municipal recreation center in Fair Lawn, N.J.

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True Value revenue, profits rise in third quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Despite the depressed economy and home market, True Value reported positive results for the third quarter ending Sept. 27, including revenue of $493.1 million for an increase of 3 percent — or $14.6 million — from $478.5 million for the same period a year ago.

Comp-store sales to members rose 0.5 percent in the quarter, driven primarily by an increase in the lawn and garden category. New store revenue exceeded lost revenue from member terminations by $8.8 million in the quarter, which the co-op attributes to the success of the new Destination True Value format.

True Value posted a quarterly net margin of $20.5 million, an increase of 70.8 percent, or $8.5 million, versus $12 million a year ago. The profit increase was the result of higher sales, a higher gross margin rate, continued control of overhead expenses and the effect of $1.7 million of non-recurring expenses in 2007 related to a facility lease and a legal matter.

“I am pleased with the strength of our third-quarter financial performance,” said president and CEO Lyle Heidemann. “Positive comp-store sales growth and the opening of 14 new True Value stores in the third quarter is a very positive statement about the health of the co-op given the condition of the U.S. economy.”

Compiled results for the first three quarters of 2008 were not as positive. For the nine months ending Sept. 27, True Value reported revenue of $1,529.2 million, a decrease of 2.1 percent, or $32.2 million, from $1,561.4 million for the same period a year ago. Comp-store sales to members decreased 2.5 percent year-to-date. Categories with the largest declines include hand and power tools, seasonal, paint and electrical.  New store revenue exceeded lost revenue from member terminations by $2.4 million for the year-to-date. 

The 2008 year-to-date net margin was $44.2 million, down 7.3 percent, or $3.5 million, from $47.7 million in 2007. The year-to-date profit decline was driven primarily by lower sales volume and higher fuel costs, offset in part by $2.9 million in recoveries related to arbitration proceedings.

“Clearly, the Destination True Value store format has been well received by our retail members and consumers, alike,” said Heidemann. “The solid performance of these stores played a part in offsetting the impact of the slowing economy and the unfavorable sales comparison of a late spring in many areas of the country.”

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