Huttig to close Virginia facility
Huttig Building Products will close its Fredericksburg, Va., distribution center, an action taken “as part of the company’s effort to appropriately adjust the size of its infrastructure in light of the continuing decline in the housing market,” according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Huttig says it will complete the closure in the fourth quarter of 2008. Huttig informed branch employees of the move last week.
Fredericksburg area customers will continue to be served through distribution facilities in Rocky Mount, N.C., and Lancaster, Pa., the company said.
Huttig expects to take charges of $600,000 to $800,000 from the closure, including $100,000 for employee severance costs.
Like most building materials dealers, Huttig struggled in its second quarter, hit by $2.5 million in losses, compared with earnings of $1.1 million in the same period last year. Sales fell 18.4 percent at the pro dealer to $195.4 million.
“In this challenging environment, we continue to focus on controlling expenses,” president and CEO Jon Vrabely told investors earlier this year, adding the company was working toward “improving operating efficiencies, reducing inventories, generating cash and gaining market share.”
Lowe’s ‘command center’ prepares for further storms
Lowe’s will continue the use of its Gulf Coast hurricane “command center,” following landfall of hurricane Gustav and continuing as tropical storms Hanna, Ike and Josephine affect the south and southeastern regions.
The retailer earlier announced that 30 of its stores in the Gulf Coast region had closed — they have since reopened — while a further 70 stores were under “command center watch” to help distribute goods to any residents affected by the storms. Lowe’s works with vendors to quickly ship essential hurricane preparation and relief products to stores and regional distribution centers.
“Lowe’s command center is in full activation, and we are expediting as much emergency product into affected communities to help customers recover when they return home,” said Larry D. Stone, Lowe’s president and COO, in a statement.
Certain Lowe’s employees in the southeast, members of the retailer’s Storm Recovery Teams, are on standby throughout the region, Stone added.
Additionally, the company has set up hurricane relief donation sites at stores nationwide, part of the company’s ongoing partnership with the Red Cross.
Ace to participate in Mid-South real estate event
Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware is one of more than 250 retailers, developers, vendors and retail real estate brokers scheduled to attend the second annual Mid-South Fall Retailer Kickoff at Harrah’s Tunica in Tunica, Miss., Sept. 10 and 11.
Last year, more than 300 local, regional and national retailers, developers, brokers and public officials attended the regional networking event, according to the Kickoff Web site.
Ace Hardware confirmed recently that Memphis is one of several areas the co-op is looking to penetrate. In fact, Germantown, Tenn.-based Trezevant Realty, one of the sponsors of the Kickoff, has announced plans to open 15 new Ace stores in the greater Memphis area in the next 18 to 24 months.
“That’s a real conservative estimate. It could be within a year,” said Barry Maynard, an affiliate broker with Trezevant.
Maynard said Ace is trying to establish a presence from northeast Arkansas to western Tennessee, one of the only areas left in the United States without an Ace footprint.
“You’ve got 40 to 50 submarkets outside Memphis and going toward Nashville,” he said. “None of them have huge populations, but they draw from large areas, and there’s a demand and a need for hardware stores.”
The new Ace stores would range from around 11,500 square feet to 70, 000 square feet, with some of the larger ones being established in former Kroger and Winn Dixie supermarket spaces, Maynard said.