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Memorial Day sales across the home channel

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home channel retailers are offering a number of promotions for Memorial Day weekend, with the hope that DIYers will come back to stores for a variety of spring projects.

• Lowe’s is offering a 10 percent discount to military personnel on purchases up to $5,000. Some products such as gift cards, John Deere products and Electrolux kitchen appliances, are excluded from the promotion. Thee retailer is also offering 10 percent off appliances retailing for $397 or more, $99 whole-house installation of certain carpet brands and 20 percent off Kobalt brand tool storage items.

• Home Depot is offering 10 percent off all appliances that retail for $399 or more and specials on one gallon and five gallon cans of Behr paint. Specials on Brinkmann stainless steel grills, collapsible gazebos and Bali siding panels also are being featured.

• Menards is offering a deck and landscaping sale, including deals on retaining wall bricks and UltraDeck composite decking and railing. The company’s “Online Collections” e-commerce site is offering Memorial Day specials on Bali window treatments, United Weavers area rugs and Showerite shower doors.

Most retailers will be paying close attention to how — or whether — consumers spend their federal income tax rebate checks, most of which arrived in the first half of this month.

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Ply Mart to close

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ply Mart, the Norcross, Ga.-based pro dealer, is closing down its operations after struggling with declining housing starts in the Atlanta market. Randy Mahaffey, Ply Mart’s chairman, told Home Channel News that the company is in negotiations to sell its installed sales and stair manufacturing divisions. Its four remaining lumberyards will be closed, Mahaffey said. “We’re selling off our inventory,” he added.

Ply Mart was one of the Southeast’s largest LBM players before the downturn, pulling in $335 million in revenues in 2006, when it operated 14 units in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The housing market slowdown hit Atlanta and the Carolinas late, but unfortunately, it still arrived. Housing permits have declined 25 percent in Atlanta, Ply Mart’s primary market, since August of 2007, according to Mahaffey.

“It fell off a cliff in September,” he said. “It was an absolute free fall.”

During the last 18 months, the company’s accounts receivables ballooned to $20 million. Ply Mart began reducing staff and mothballing lumberyards, and members of the Mahaffey family began pumping their own money into the company to keep it afloat. But it wasn’t enough.

“Every time we made a cut, we thought we were where we needed to be,” Mahaffey said. “But we were still bleeding. We just couldn’t cut expenses as fast as our revenues were dropping.”

Mahaffey said he did not consider selling the business to one of the national LBM chains; nor were there any real offers forthcoming. “The market is so bad in Atlanta, everybody is taking a whipping,” he observed. “It is not the time to buy in this segment.”

Earlier this year, Wheeler’s Building Materials, another privately owned pro dealer based in Atlanta, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company’s owners bought three of the chain’s original 17 lumberyards at auction in April. Last February, ProBuild bought Jasper Lumber, a small independent with three locations in the Atlanta area.

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Stanley in deal with RFID company

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Stanley Works will purchase Xmark, the Canadian subsidiary of radio frequency identification (RFID) systems maker VeriChip, for $45 million in cash, according to the companies.

Xmark’s products include child security products as well as asset tracking systems for hospitals. Brands include “Halo” infant security systems, wander protection systems for children under the “Hugs” brand and hospital and asset tracking systems under the “RoamAlert” brand.

Xmark had revenues of $30 million last year.

“The combination of Xmark’s capabilities, including its products, associates and dealer channels, with those of our own personal security business enables us to provide our customers a wider array of value-added products and services,” said John Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Stanley Works, “which should help our security business achieve higher growth and enhance its already strong profitability.”

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