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Shoplifting suspects set off manhunt

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Stealing merchandise from a home improvement store is not considered a minor crime in Massachusetts, where state police used three K-9 officers and ATVs to chase two suspected shoplifters through the woods on May 15.

According to an article in the Eagle-Tribune, police received a call from a Home Depot store in Salem, Mass., about a shoplifting incident where three men fled in a 2006 gray Chrysler. The suspects ditched the car near an apartment complex shortly after the incident. Massachusetts State Police were able to take one man into custody, but the two other suspects fled into nearby woods.

Three state police dogs were brought in, and Andover police assisted with an ATV unit to patrol the area. As of 7 p.m., the two suspects had not been found. 

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Home Depot’s Menear points to Q1 category wins

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Home Depot’s executive VP merchandising Craig Menear said he was pleased with the company’s first-quarter performance in its core business. Some categories, of course, did better than others.

The company’s first-quarter results showed overall comp-store sales declined 0.6%, but several categories were positive — electrical, kitchens, tools, plumbing, paint and flooring. Hardware also outperformed the company’s average comp for the quarter, he said.

The retailer saw positive comps in all hard surface categories in flooring, as well as organization, interior paint and faucets.

The outdoor sales were impacted by bad weather. "Excluding the outdoor categories, we would have exceeded our sales plan for the quarter." Instead, the company fell short of its internal expectations, as sales declined 0.2% to $16.8 billion in the quarter.

Among specific products, one of the brightest growth stories is among LED light bulbs. "Strong sales of our EcoSmart and Philips LED light bulbs drove the LED subclass of light bulbs to more than 500% growth year over year," Menear said. 

During his remarks at the earnings call, Menear also gave specific mention to Milwaukee Red Lithium portable power tools, Ryobi lithium ion powered tools for the yard, USG lightweight drywall and the new KILZ Pro-X paint for pros.

"Looking ahead, we continue to believe transaction improvement will lead to growth in the first half of the year, and improvement in average ticket will be more sustaining in the back half of the year," Menear said.

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Merit Group files Chapter 11

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Merit Group, the nation’s largest distributor of paint sundry products, has filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based firm, parent company of Lancaster and Five Star, has obtained a commitment for a $55 million debtor in possession of financing from its senior lender, Regions Bank, so it can continue operations without interruption during the reorganization process.

The Merit Group’s management team and advisers will focus on a potential sale of the business or a strategic investment in the next 90 days, according to a company announcement.

 “For more than 58 years, Merit has served the needs of the paint sundries industry through its commitment to premier service and product diversity. This next step will allow the organization time to evaluate all alternatives to position Merit for future success,” said Mitch Jolley, president and CEO. Jolley recently returned as the chief executive, after having served as Merit’s CEO from 1990 to 2009. He replaced Jay Baker, who held the position since October 2009. 

The company has retained Alvarez & Marsal as its financial advisers and Morgan Joseph TriArtisan as its investment banker.

Founded as Lancaster Supply in 1953, Merit Group now operates a nationwide distribution network that serves national, regional and independent paint chains, home improvement centers, hardware stores, lumberyards and drywall yards in the United States, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Its distribution centers are located in South Carolina, Florida, Texas, California, Utah, Kentucky, New Jersey and New York.

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Mar-17-2012 07:48 pm

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