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HD Supply names head of construction business

BY HBSDEALER Staff

HD Supply, the former professional division of Home Depot that was sold earlier this year to a group of investment firms, has announced Tom Lazzaro will assume leadership of the company’s White Cap Construction Supply.

Lazzaro currently serves as president of HD Supply’s interiors business, a role he will continue to hold. He replaces Brian Etter, who is leaving the company to serve as CEO at an international motor sports company.

Lazzaro joined HD Supply in August 2006. He has more than 20 years experience in general management, sales, sourcing and operations.

“I look forward to building on the world-class team that Brian put in place and continuing to grow the business,” Lazzaro said.

Earlier this month, HD Supply also announced it had named Mark Jamieson senior vp and CFO.

Jamieson most recently served as executive vp and CFO for Ryder Systems, a global transportation and supply chain management company. Previously, he served as CFO for Sammons Enterprises, a holding company with interests in insurance, heavy equipment and real estate.

HD Supply serves professional customers in the infrastructure, construction, maintenance, repair and remodel markets, with nearly 1,000 locations.

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Levitt and Sons declares bankruptcy

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based home builder Levitt and Sons has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, following a housing downturn and credit market disruptions.

“This downturn has been particularly sudden and steep in Florida and in the Southeastern United States — the markets in which Levitt and Sons operates,” the company said in a statement.

In its bankruptcy filing, the company lists assets of less than $1 million with more than $100 million in debts. In an earlier filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Levitt and Sons said it had defaulted on more than $300 million in loans with several lenders, including Bank of America and Wachovia.

Levitt and Sons, the home building subsidiary of Levitt Corp., said in a statement the move was a response to “unprecedented conditions in the homebuilding industry, which have severely impacted the company.” Options in the restructuring process include the sale of the company.

“We deeply regret the impact the Chapter 11 filing of Levitt and Sons will have on homeowners, vendors and employees,” said Lawrence Young, who recently was named to the company’s new position of chief restructuring officer. “As part of this process, we will explore the potential sale of all or some of Levitt and Sons’ assets.”

Within the last year, Levitt and Sons downsized operations in Tennessee and exited the Memphis and Nashville markets, reduced staffing and worked with subcontractors to help reduce costs. However, the company’s financial position took a blow in August when credit market disruption led to more cancellations and fewer buyers, the company said.

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Same-store sales up 1.9 percent at Tractor Supply

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Farm and fleet retailer Tractor Supply saw third-quarter earnings of $17.5 million, down 3.3 percent from $18.1 million last year. Sales were up 12.5 percent to $629.2 million from $559.2 million in the previous year.

Same-store sales increased 1.9 percent at the retailer. The company said it saw an increase in expenses that it attributed to payroll increases and occupancy from new stores. Tractor Supply opened 21 new stores in the quarter and closed none, a higher count than the 18 stores the company opened — and one store it closed — in the third quarter last year.

Jim Wright, president and CEO of Tractor Supply, highlighted growth categories in the third quarter — notably the company’s core “lifestyle” categories, such as animal health products and pet supplies. Still, the company was “disappointed” with sales performance in its seasonal merchandise category, he said.

“Despite challenges presented by drought conditions and consumer pressures impacting discretionary purchases, we achieved positive comparable-sales growth as well as slight gross margin improvement,” Wright noted.

Tractor Supply also lowered its guidance for the full fiscal year, blaming a “delayed onset of colder weather” and “continued external pressures on the consumer.”

“We believe it is more appropriate to temper our outlook for our performance through the remainder of the year,” Wright said.

Additionally, Tractor Supply announced it has named Gregory Sandfort chief merchandising officer.

Sandfort formerly served as president and chief operating officer at Michaels Stores. Prior to that, he served as chief merchandising officer at Michaels and held merchandising management spots at Sears and Federated Department Stores.

Based in Brentwood, Tenn., Tractor Supply is one of the country’s largest retail farm and ranch store chains.

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