Universal Forest Products announces closings
Universal Forest Products, the Grand Rapids, Mich., maker of engineered wood components, has announced plans to shut a number of facilities, some permanently, as a result of the housing market slowdown. The closures are expected to result in a charge of approximately $8.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2007.
In a prepared statement, the company said it believes it can consolidate operations and serve the same geographic areas through greater efficiencies. Therefore, five of the facilities will not be reopened. They are located in Stanfield and Sanford, N.C.; Gulfport, Miss.; Elkhart and Westville, Ind.; and a portion of the operations in Thorndale, Ontario, Canada. The sale of these facilities, along with other excess real estate, is expected to generate approximately $38 million in 2008.
Due to current market conditions, Universal Forest Products has temporarily closed eight other operations and consolidated them into existing locations.
Universal Forest Products reported net sales of $2 billion for its first nine months of 2007, down from $2.17 billion in the corresponding period of 2006. Year-to-date net earnings for 2007 were $32 million, compared to $60.9 million for the first three quarters of 2006.
New professional group focuses on building products
The Construction Specifications Institute, an Alexandria, Va.-based organization of specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors and building material suppliers, has announced the formation of the Building Product Manufacturers Alliance (BPMA). This new group, which will meet for the first time on March 3 to 5 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, will share common issues, challenges and best practices to meet the needs of the changing marketplace.
“Today’s construction market increasingly calls for high-performance buildings, environmentally friendly materials and practices and technologically advanced components,” said Walter Marlowe, executive director and CEO of the Construction Specifications Institute.
The Construction Specifications Institute is a national organization dedicated to creating standards and formats to improve construction documents and project delivery. It has 146 chapters across the United States. For more information about the BPMA and its inaugural conference, visit www.csinet.org/bpma.
Sears Holdings unveils shake-up
Sears Holdings plans a major reorganization of its internal structure, moving toward an interconnected group of independent businesses with more autonomy than is currently in place.
“We are introducing an organizational structure that provides operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy,” read a statement from the parent of Sears and Kmart stores. The company said its various operating businesses will be given a “designated leader and an advisory group comprised of senior Sears Holdings executives to provide direction and oversee the business unit’s performance.”
Sears representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
The move comes after the retailer announced weak holiday results and a melancholy outlook for the fourth quarter.
Earlier this month, Sears Holdings announced declines in comparable-store sales for both its Sears and Kmart stores for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 5 and offered sober guidance for the upcoming quarter.
Sears domestic saw a 2.8 percent decline during the months of November and December, while Kmart’s comparable-store sales declined 4.2 percent for the period. Total domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.5 percent for the nine-week period, the company said. The most notable declines occurred in the Sears apparel and tools categories and the Kmart seasonal categories.
The company attributed the declines to increased competition and the negative impact of unfavorable economic conditions.
Sears Holdings also announced its fourth-quarter projections. The company expects net income for the quarter to be in the range of $350 million to $470 million, or $2.59 to $3.48 per share — down from earlier analyst estimates of $4.43 per share.