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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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Pope & Talbot files for bankruptcy in Canada

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lumber producer Pope & Talbot has filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company cited a stronger Canadian dollar, coupled with “record low demand for lumber” as leading to the company’s need for protection from creditors.

In its second quarter, Pope & Talbot reported a loss of US$42.9 million compared with losses of US$21.8 million in the same period last year. Sales were US$236.6 million, up from sales of US$213.6 million last year. The company ended the second quarter with US$354.9 million in debt, and its shares were delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in August.

The company also said “high-priced pulp chips and sawdust” and “the high cost of debt service have combined for an untenable business environment.” If the company’s bankruptcy filing is approved, it will begin a restructuring process that could include “the sale of certain or all of the company’s assets.”

Based in Portland, Ore., Pope & Talbot produces market pulp and softwood lumber at mills in the United States and Canada.

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M/I Homes sees losses of $21.7 million

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Columbus, Ohio-based home builder M/I Homes saw a third-quarter net loss of $21.7 million, swinging from earnings of $15.2 million in the same period last year. Net revenue fell 20.4 percent to $243.7 million from $306.2 million last year.

The loss includes a $26.5 million charge for land and real estate-related impairment and abandonment, as well as a joint venture investment write-off of $6.1 million. Year-to-date the company has recorded $92.9 million in land-related charges.

Robert Schottenstein, president and CEO, said market conditions remain challenging in the company’s markets.

“We remain focused on initiatives that include reducing our land and expense levels, improving our balance sheet, as well as continued improvements in our customer service and quality processes,” Scottenstein said. “We expect to … further reduce our debt levels by year end.”

M/I Homes builds homes in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, Virginia and Maryland.

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