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Independent garden centers win with co-op alliance

BY HBSDealer Staff

Home & Garden Showplace and Master Nursery Garden Centers have announced an alliance to benefit independently owned and operated garden centers.

Home & Garden Showplace, a business unit of True Value, will align its understanding of product assortments, growth opportunities and merchandising power along with Master Nursery Garden Centers, a national cooperative of about 700 independent garden centers.

"Supporting and strengthening the independent retailer in today’s competitive marketplace is the cornerstone of the True Value co-op," said Lyle Heidemann, CEO of True Value. "This alliance supports those cornerstones, providing a greater opportunity for our combined retailers to win at retail with the lawn and garden as well as nursery consumer."

"I anticipate this alliance with True Value will prove very beneficial to our members," said Bill Jameson, president and CEO of Master Nursery Garden Centers. "True Value’s network of 12 regional distribution centers will allow us to better serve members in many regions of the country."

The alliance will benefit each co-op in the following ways:
• Master Nursery Garden Centers will have the ability to purchase True Value’s 60,000-plus warehouse-stocked products.
• Home & Garden Showplace retailers will be able to participate in Garden Elements, a proprietary program of Master Nursery Garden Centers, including a branded annual program and a new line of organic plant foods.

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Mixed expectations for forest product M&A

BY HBSDEALER Staff

An article just released by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services predicted that mergers and acquisitions among forest product companies will continue to increase over the next few quarters due to strong balance sheets and attractive financing terms. But this M&A activity will largely be contained to the paperboard and packing sectors, according to "Top Investor Questions For The U.S. And Canadian Forest Products Sector In 2011." Consolidation in the “highly fragmented” building products sector is unlikely to occur over the next 12 months, the report said, without a recovery in housing. 

"We expect most of our ratings on industry players to remain stable, in light of a gradual economic recovery in the U.S. and moderate recovery in new residential construction in 2011 after a steep and prolonged downturn," said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Tobias Crabtree.

Most U.S. and Canadian forest product companies have modest debt maturities over the next two to three years, and S&P is not particularly concerned about their credit worthiness. But in its “risk assessment” for each category over the next 12 months, converted wood products — which takes in most lumber, panel and engineered wood product suppliers — were given a “higher-than-average” risk. This was due to the highly cyclical housing market; substantial industry overcapacity; and fragmented supply base, especially in lumber. Timber, on the other hand, was categorized as a “lower-than-average” investment risk because of harvest flexibility, market diversity and long-term reductions in Canadian supply.

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Lebanon Seaboard launches new products

BY HBSDealer Staff

Lebanon Seaboard has launched a series of specialty fertilizers, to be released in January 2012, each of which will include a particular blend of fertilizer sources the company calls GreenSmart. Among the new products is a series of seven small plant fertilizers, which will contribute to the expansion of the company’s GreenView with the GreenSmart brand released earlier this year. The company will also introduce a “grab-and-go” fertilizer to be called “GreenView Plant Boost with GreenSmart.” Lebanon Seaboard said it expects the new line to benefit retailers by increasing store sales and to expand the category.

The company also plans to launch its “Twist’nShake Small Plant Food System” in 2012, which it said will simplify the process of fertilizing plants by eliminating the need for consumers to touch or measure plant food. Instead, consumers may use the system to deliver premeasured nutrients to plants using a plant feeding bottle.

Both the GreenView products and the Twist’nShake System are now available for order from local distributors. 

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