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UFP records profit in the second quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based United Forest Products (UFP) announced second-quarter net earnings of $11.7 million, down 30.4 percent from $16.8 million in the same period last year.

The company recorded revenues of $708.5 million in the second quarter, down 8.4 percent from $773.1 million in the same period last year.

Predictably, the lower results were a result of a weak economy, soft lumber market and rising fuel costs, all factors affecting other forest products companies. Still, the company said it did gain market share and that its business remains “solid.”

“Despite the current market environment, we’re profitable, we’re gaining share in some key markets, and we’re concentrating on making sure we’re well-positioned for growth when the economy regains strength,” said president and CEO Michael B. Glenn, in a statement. “The fundamentals of our company remain solid and we’re pleased with our achievements in the face of extraordinary challenges.”

Glenn added the company is focusing on diversifying its business, as well as helping “mitigate the impact of rising fuel costs by passing them along.”

The company also predicted full-year revenue of $2.3 to $2.35 billion. The company expects year-end net earnings of between $12 million and $15 million, down from an earlier forecast of $22 million to $27 million.

UFP has locations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with operations in engineering, manufacturing, treating and distributing lumber and building materials.

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RONA plans Canada-wide CFL recycling

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Boucherville, Quebec-based DIY retailer RONA plans a program to collect and recycle compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) across Canada at RONA, Reno-Depot, Totem and Chester Dawe stores.

The retailer said consumers will be able to take their used CFLs to those store locations, where the bulbs can be collected for “safe recovery.”

“Providing a safe disposal method for compact fluorescent bulbs lets us meet consumer needs, with people increasingly choosing compact fluorescents,” said Pierre Dandoy, RONA’s executive vp-big-box stores.

The retailer noted consumers should follow “certain safety rules” when disposing of compact fluorescents because they contain small quantities of mercury. Consumers will be asked to use a special plastic bag meant to help prevent mercury from the bulbs from leaking.

The used bulbs will then be taken to a recycling facility, where certain components, including the mercury, can be extracted and reused.

RONA currently operates a network of more than 680 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats.

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Lowe’s discusses store growth, GE at annual meeting

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lowe’s kicked off its annual meeting of shareholders in Charlotte, N.C., with discussion of a difficult housing market and the ways the nation’s second largest home channel retailer is working to control costs.

President and chief operating officer Larry Stone also discussed initiatives meant to control costs in the coming year. While Lowe’s still plans to open 120 stores this year, the company has opted to postpone the opening of 20 locations. Lowe’s will pull back on major remerchandising plans for certain stores in 2008, but “routine maintenance will continue at the same pace,” Stone said. The retailer also has halted plans to open a 14th regional distribution center.

Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock said that 2007 was a much rougher year than had been anticipated, not only because of the continued weakness in the housing market and its obvious connection to the retailer’s sales, but because of the additional credit crunch that further dampened consumer interest.

“In addition, in 2007, consumers also were pressured with increasing fuel costs, rising food prices and a tightening job market,” Niblock said.

Stone went on to promote the company’s customer service image, which is “more important than ever” in an increasingly competitive retail landscape. Stone also said that Lowe’s has in the past strategically planned to capture market share during “prior downturns,” and “we’re focused on doing it again.”

Only two shareholders posed questions to executives and the company’s board of directors. A representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized the sale of certain glue rodent traps at Lowe’s stores. PETA also criticized the sale of the traps at Home Depot’s annual meeting, held last week. Both companies said there is a consumer desire for the products.

James Harris of Raleigh, N.C., asked whether the impending sale of GE’s appliances division would have any “material effect” on Lowe’s, which stocks a wide range of GE appliances.

“GE is a great vendor for Lowe’s. We fully anticipate if the business is either spun off or sold to a third party, we will still have the GE products available in our stores,” Niblock told shareholders.

Lowe’s saw its first-quarter profit fall 18 percent, while comparable-store sales were down 8.4 percent. The retailer predicted that comp-store sales would drop “at least” 6 percent in the second quarter and in the full year.

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