DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Westlake Ace opens store No. 86

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lenexa, Kan.-based Westlake Ace Hardware will open its newest store — store No. 86 — in West Plains, Mo., Aug. 16.

The new Westlake Ace Hardware will serve as the anchor for the West Plains Marketplace shopping center. The new location marks the second store incorporating Westlake’s new store design and layout that uses construction materials and a design approach intended to provide an organic and modern feel, more natural light from garage-style doors and skylights, a wood and metal facade, and polished concrete floors.

“We are very excited to open this new store in West Plains and bring this community our unique, customer-focused retail experience,” said George Smith, CEO of Westlake Hardware. “We are confident consumers in the West Plains area and throughout southern Missouri will appreciate our diverse selection of high-quality products, and the friendly and knowledgeable service that has been our hallmark for decades.”

The new store is located at 1401 Mitchell Rd. in West Plains, Mo. 

With stores in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, Westlake Ace Hardware received the 2011 HCN Retailer of the Year Award. The chain was purchased in 2012 by Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware, which expressed plans to operate the chain, its largest co-op member, as a standalone company. 

The store will carry traditional hardware, such as fasteners, tools, paint, plumbing and electrical supplies, and a large range of lawn and garden products. Westlake also offers a variety of wild bird, pet and patio products, and is known for its assortments of BBQ grills, sauces, rubs and accessories in the communities it serves, according to the press release announcing the opening. 

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True Value hardware store count lowered

BY Ken Clark

The latest financial release from Chicago-based True Value Co. showed the co-op’s approximate store count down by 100 stores compared to previous recent press releases.

In the boilerplate description of the company at the bottom of the release announcing second-quarter results, the co-op described its footprint as “approximately 4,500 independent retailer locations worldwide.” 

That figure is down from 4,600 used in a May press release. Early in 2012, True Value described its footprint as 4,650 retailer locations. 

However, the co-op said revenue from new stores in the second quarter exceeded lost revenue from terminated stores. The co-op posted a revenue of $422.5 million in the period ended June 29, up 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year.

Asked for details about the stats, a spokeswoman for the co-op said the 4,500 figure should have been used in previous press releases. It reflects “the total number of identities that operate under the True Value Co. co-op banner,” said a spokeswoman. These include Grand Rental Station, Taylor Rental and Party Central. 

She did not share the co-op’s current store count, but In the True Value’s 2012 annual report, the co-op said its total number of participating stores at the end of 2012 was 4,569, compared to 4,645 at the end of 2011, a decrease of 0.8%. 

A slight decline in the number of hardware stores reflects industry trends. The total number of retail DIY outlets, according to estimates from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), is about 19,920 – a figure that could rise or decline depending on the definition of a “DIY outlet.” The NHRA figure has been slowly declining since 2001, when it stood at 20,400 hardware stores, and projections are for a net loss of about 10 stores per year over the next four years. 

The “Big Three” national hardware cooperatives differ in their approach to revealing the number of their member locations. 

Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware shares the metric on a quarterly basis. In May, Ace said it added 21 new domestic stores in the quarter ended March 30, while terminating 19. The net gain of 2 stores inched Ace’s domestic store count up to 4,106. In the same quarter last year, Ace had 4,077 retail outlets in the United States, showing an increase of 0.7%.

Like True Value, Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best Corp. doesn’t release store count details in its public reports. Do it Best describes its footprint in general terms as “more than 4,000 member-owned locations in the United States and 53 foreign countries.”

 

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True Value Co. gross billings rise 1.4%

BY HBSDealer Staff

Chicago-based True Value Co. Monday night reported gross billings of $543.3 million for the quarter ended June 29, up 1.4% from $536.0 million in the same quarter last year.

Revenue was $411.5 million, up 1.0% in the quarter. The quarterly net margin for the co-op was $23.8 million, up 7.2% from the same period last year. 

"Our expanded farm, ranch and automotive and pet product lines contributed to increased gross billings, while the delayed spring-like temperatures and heavy rains had a positive impact on sales of lawn and garden, and plumbing and heating products in the second quarter," said John Hartmann, president and CEO. "As anticipated, the gross margin rate improved in the second quarter as volume from regular replenishment product sales increased, and those items carry a higher margin."

Comp store revenue was up 1.1% in the period. Year to date, comp-store revenue was up 0.8%. 

The company described its store count as "approximately 4,500 independent retailer locations worldwide." In previous announcements, the co-op had described its store count as about 4,600 locations. In February of 2012, the figure was 4,650 independent dealer locations around the world.

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