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Tractor Supply grows sales in core merchandise

BY Ken Clark

Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply Co. posted sales and earnings gains in the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 29, riding the strength of its core categories, according to the company.

Fourth-quarter sales at the farm and ranch giant increased 3.7% to $1.29 billion, as comp-store sales increased 4.7%. Adjusted for an extra week in the prior year’s fourth quarter, the company showed a 10.8% sales increase. 

Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 29 was $79.5 million, compared with net income of $70.5 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year.   

The same-store sales increase was driven primarily by continued strong results in key consumable, usable and edible (C.U.E.) products, principally animal- and pet-related merchandise. 

"Our core C.U.E. categories again posted solid increases above last year in both sales and units, and our ability to plan, prepare, execute and react quickly to the trends we are seeing in our business allowed us to deliver our 19th consecutive quarter of year-over-year transaction count increases," said Greg Sandfort, president and CEO. "Our team executed exceptionally well, delivering a strong same-store sales gain of 4.7% on top of last year’s strong 7.6% comp increase, managing through less than ideal weather conditions for sales of cold weather products and despite less benefit from inflation than last year." 

The 1,176-store retailer opened 25 new stores in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with 31 new store openings in the prior year’s fourth quarter. 

For the full year, net sales increased to $4.66 billion, or 10.2% over the prior year’s 53-week period. Same-store sales increased 5.3%. Net income increased to $276.5 million, up 19.5%.  

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Taxes shake consumer confidence index

BY Ken Clark

The impact of increased payroll taxes is the likely culprit in the decline of consumer optimism, according to the director of The Conference Board, the New York City-based business group.

“Consumer Confidence posted another sharp decline in January, erasing all of the gains made through 2012,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and, in particular, their financial situation. The increase in the payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers’ spirits, and it may take awhile for confidence to rebound and consumers to recover from their initial paycheck shock.”

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in December, fell further in January. The Index now stands at 58.6 (1985=100), down from 66.7 in December, and down from 61.5 a year ago.

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Lowe’s promotes supply chain executive

BY Ken Clark

Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s has promoted Stephen Szilagyi to the post of supply chain executive, responsible for overseeing Lowe’s state-of-the-art logistics and distribution network that expedites the replenishment of merchandise and supplies to all Lowe’s stores.

He will report to Rick Damron, chief operating officer.

Szilagyi has more than 25 years of supply chain experience, including leadership roles prior to Lowe’s in wholesale distribution and retail/consumer products supply chain consulting services.

He began his career at Lowe’s in 2001 as regional director of distribution and was named VP distribution in 2002 and senior VP in 2006.

“Steve and his team have made significant improvements in our safety, speed to market and employee engagement,” said Damron.

Szilagyi earned a bachelor’s degree in materials and logistics management from Michigan State University.

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