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Measuring the impact of a super storm

BY Ken Ryan

Bad weather has meant brisk business for the industry’s largest home improvement retailers, which for the second year in a row experienced significant sales gains from an East Coast hurricane.

Fourteen months after Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on the Northeast, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, particularly New Jersey and southeast New York, where damage totals continue to rise well into the tens of billions of dollars.

Carol Tomé, chief financial officer and executive VP corporate services at The Home Depot, said the company expects to take in at least $360 million in sales related to Sandy. Tomé bases that off Hurricane Irene’s numbers — $230 million in sales from Irene (which hit in late August) in the 2011 third quarter, and $130 million in the fourth quarter.

At its Nov. 13 third-quarter conference call, Tomé said: “The property damage, as we understand it, related to Irene was about $16 billion. The property damage for Sandy is about $20 billion. So it would suggest possibly higher sales, but it’s impossible for us to know right now.”

The retailer got a $70 million lift in sales in the last week of the fiscal third quarter that ended Oct. 28 — for items such as generators, flashlights, batteries and extension cords — “as customers in the North prepared for the threat of Hurricane Sandy,” executive VP merchandising Craig Menear said. Home Depot executives said the company shipped about 4,000 truckloads of products to communities impacted by Sandy.

In the day after the storm, Sears said more than 100 truckloads of “generators, chainsaws, wet and dry vacuums, flashlights, batteries and lanterns, along with dehumidifiers, utility and sump pumps” were sent east from 42 distribution centers as far west as Memphis and Chicago.

Lowe’s executives reported that profits jumped 76% in the third quarter from the same period a year ago, owing in significant part to Sandy-related sales. “We supplied large quantities of generators, flashlights and batteries to customers preparing for Superstorm Sandy,” said chief customer officer Greg Bridgeford. “Our merchant, logistics and store teams worked closely together to identify what products would be needed before and after Sandy, and pre-staged them in appropriate stores and distribution centers.”

Some home improvement dealers even took to themed advertising. An Ace Hardware store in Brooklyn, N.Y., ran a two-page ad with the message: “If Sandy Didn’t Blow You Away, ACE Specials Will!” opposite a page of cleanup-related supplies that were on sale.

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Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum hires sales director

BY Ken Clark

Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum Division announced that Jamie O’Neill has joined the company as director of sales. O’Neill is responsible for driving sales efforts in North America. He oversees the 16-member direct sales force located throughout the United States and Canada.

O’Neill began his career with the Hilti Organization, a multi-billion dollar manufacturer of professional construction products, as an account manager. He then held several leadership positions, including regional sales manager for its New York/Metro Division and, most recently, divisional sales manager for the Eastern Division.

During his 17 years of service with the company, O’Neill was also active in developing Hilti’s global sales management training program and is credited with having an instrumental role in implementing its CRM strategy for his channel. He was also a recipient of the President’s Club Achievement Award on four separate occasions.

O’Neill completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Maryland College, Westminster, Md.

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Simonton Windows shakes up sales department

BY Ken Clark

Columbus, Ohio-based Simonton Windows has reorganized its sales and marketing leadership team 

The move is designed to enable the company to provide even better service to its growing North American customer base, according to the 66-year-old company.

Sid Spear has been named senior VP sales and marketing, and will have oversight over Simonton’s North American sales and marketing organizations. Steve Gillhouse has been named VP sales-East. Tom Danisch has been named VP sales-Central. Pete Placido will remain VP sales-West. These vice presidents will report to Spear.

“As the leader in customer satisfaction for windows and doors, this reorganization enhances relationships with our strategic sales partners,” said Spear. “Our goal is to provide an even stronger value proposition and assist our channel partners in growing their businesses."

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