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A green store is born in Texas

BY Ken Clark

A green-focused home improvement retailer called TreeHouse was born last month when the founders opened a 25,000-sq.-ft. store in Austin, Texas. 

The business owners said they recognized the growing demand for sustainable and healthy-living products, which are organized across the store in the categories of health, performance, corporate responsibility and sustainability.


One theme of the store: Being green doesn’t always mean you have to pay more or change your lifestyle.

“Becoming more responsible doesn’t have to mean overhauling everything you do; it’s easy to make incremental changes," said TreeHouse CEO Greg King. “But whether you’re taking small steps or a big leap, we can help you do it by offering smart choices."

TreeHouse will carry a wide range of merchandise, including paint, floor and wall coverings, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, cleaning supplies, storage and organization options, solar power products, plus a wide range of smart-home technology solutions that will allow customers to run their houses or businesses more efficiently.


All products sold at TreeHouse undergo a stringent screening process, according to the company.

A spokeswoman said expansion to more locations is a part of the long-term business plan, but the company is currently focused on the success of its first store.

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Trex Q3 loss narrows

BY HBSDealer Staff

Winchester, Va.-based Trex posted a third-quarter net loss of $0.5 million, compared with a net loss of $8.8 million in the 2010 period.

Net sales for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled $67.9 million, up 12% from net sales of $60.6 million in the year-ago period.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Trex reported net income of $6.7 million, compared with a net loss of $9.6 million in the nine-month period of 2010. Net sales for the period totaled $215.3 million, down 11% from net sales of $242.4 million for the prior-year period. 

"During the third quarter, we executed well in a challenging environment, increasing year-over-year net sales by 12% even as consumer confidence deteriorated and the economic recovery lost steam,” said Ronald Kaplan, Trex chairman, president and CEO. “The new products we introduced over the past year have begun contributing to our sales growth. Market acceptance of Trex Deck Lighting has been strong and our new deck substructure product, Trex Elevations, is starting to generate considerable interest.

"Earlier this month we announced a new decking option, Trex Enhance(R), to our product lineup, giving consumers another notable choice for meeting their outdoor living needs. Offering a 20-year fade and stain warranty, scratch resistance and two rich colors, Enhance fits in the middle of our ‘good, better, best’ product platform strategy.”

The company expects net sales to be about $50 million to $55 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, sales in the first quarter of 2012 to exceed the first quarter of 2011 by at least 25%. 

"We believe our product offerings and sales strategies represent a solid platform for growth and we look forward to a robust winter and spring sales program,” Kaplan added. “We expect sales patterns to differ from last year primarily due to a change in our pricing strategy and early buy program.”

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Report: Consumer confidence unexpectedly up in October

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A report released Friday by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan found that consumer confidence in the United States rose unexpectedly in October, a signal that an economic recovery process may still be intact.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 60.9 from 59.4 in September, beating Bloomberg News economists’ projections of a drop to 58.

The preliminary reading for the month was 57.5.

Relief from plummeting stocks and rising gas prices has left Americans feeling more uplifted than in recent months, raising hopes that the collective good mood will spur more holiday spending.

“Consumers are not throwing caution to the winds, but their mood has lifted slightly from the recession-type readings late this summer,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York City, who forecast a reading of 60. “The stock market is sharply higher, and the consumer is back in a spending mind frame.”

Estimates for the confidence measure ranged from 55 to 60, according to the Bloomberg survey. The index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007.

Commerce Department figures showed that spending increased in September by 0.6%, after a 0.2% gain the prior month.

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