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Wal-Mart loses North Carolina tax refund case

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has lost its case in North Carolina to recoup more than $30 million in tax refunds from the state.

The company argued that the state had assessed its tax revenues improperly for four fiscal years ended Jan. 31, 2002, according to the Wall Street Journal. But Wake County appellate court Judge Clarence Horton Jr. agreed with state revenue officials’ claims that the retailer was using tax shelters to hide true income and dismissed the case.

At issue was the company’s use of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Four years ago, Wal-Mart transferred ownership of its stores to two REITs, of which Wal-Mart owned 99 percent. The company then paid tax-deductible rent for the use of the stores.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at least three other states are also challenging Wal-Mart’s tax strategy, and in the last year at least six states have passed laws prohibiting the practice.

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BMHC announces more closings

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Building Materials Holding Corporation (BMHC) announced it will close facilities in Reno and Sparks, Nev., and consolidate other operations in an effort to continue to align costs with current market conditions.

The San Francisco-based building materials company will also close a facility in Sherwood, Ore., and move those operations to a Vancouver, Wash., facility. In Marysville, Calif., BMHC will consolidate its lumber and building materials distribution and wall panel manufacturing operations into existing Modesto, Calif., facilities.

Other consolidations will occur in Texas, Colorado and Arizona.

These actions are expected to be largely completed during the first quarter of 2009, affecting approximately 260 employees. Overall, BMHC has reduced its workforce from 25,000 in 2006 to less than 11,000 as of September.

“The unprecedented national economic and local market challenges require that we continue to realign costs with current market conditions,” said Robert E. Mellor, BMHC’s chairman and CEO. “With the exception of the Reno area, where we will be exiting the market, we will continue to serve our customers with our full range of products and services — including framing, lumber, millwork and trusses — through nearby facilities.”

Mellor went on to say that the closures and restructuring will enable his company to significantly reduce expenses, share key personnel and better utilize facilities and equipment.

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Ace appoints director of sales for global division, Asia

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware Corporation has promoted Jack Murphy to director of sales for Ace Global Distribution (AGD), Asia, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op announced. AGD is the retail distribution arm for Ace International.

In his new position, Murphy will direct the AGD sales teams in Oak Brook and Shanghai, China, while also working closely with Ace members and the AGD merchandising teams. Responsibilities will include management of global foreign-to-foreign sales and spearheading future initiatives to promote AGD Asia’s worldwide sales growth.

Murphy, 40, most recently served as international regional manager for Asia Pacific, where his responsibilities included growing the Ace brand globally via retail development initiatives and various wholesale strategies. He previously served as a district manager for Ace and once owned and operated an Ace store in Forest City, N.C.

“Jack has a wealth of sales and retail knowledge, culled from his own experience as an Ace retailer and several key management positions,” said Murray Armstrong, president and general manager of Ace International. “He is aware of the strategies needed to help us grow our international sales, particularly in Asia’s emerging markets.”

Murphy graduated from the U.S. Air Force Leadership School and holds a degree in management and operations from Loyola University, Chicago. He will report to Armstrong.

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