DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Master Lock partners with Dirty Jobs host

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Master Lock has a new spokesman: Mike Rowe, creator and host of Discovery Channel’s popular program, “Dirty Jobs.” 

The Oak Creek, Wis. manufacturer is launching a new line of security products designed to protect tools and equipment in the cargo area of pickup trucks and vans, especially those used by contractors and other professionals. Rowe will act as the spokesman for this new product line.

Rowe has performed more than 300 of the dirtiest jobs throughout the country during the first five seasons of his show, “Dirty Jobs.” He is also the founder of mikeroweWORKS, a foundation that supports technical education scholarships and assistance to schools and institutes providing a technical curriculum. To launch the partnership, Master Lock also announced that it is making a substantial donation to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

 

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First-quarter sales up at Handy Hardware

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Houston-based hardlines co-op Handy Hardware pointed to sales growth of 4.1% in its first quarter of 2011.

In a statement released Monday, the company also addressed the challenges resulting from its transition to a new computer operating system during the first quarter of 2011.

"We have gotten past the worst of this transition, and our numbers are climbing back up to our historical service level marks," said Tina Kirbie, president.

Problems with the operating system transition had a negative impact on customer service levels during the first three months of 2011, the company said.

“We are very pleased that even through this difficult computer change our business with members still has shown an increase, and we are upbeat about the remaining months in 2011.” 

The co-op, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, signed on 23 new members during the quarter.

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At Ace, CFO looks beyond 2010 sales growth

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Chicago — After a year in which consolidated wholesale sales were up 2.1%, Ace Hardware Corp. is planning for sales growth of 3.0% in 2011.

"It feels good to be back in the positives," said Dorvin Lively, Ace CFO, speaking to co-op members assembled during the Ace Spring Convention and Exhibits in Chicago last week.

Lively added some color to the company’s $3.531 billion sales performance in 2010. "Some of the drivers of the increase in higher sales were increases in the power tool and hand tool category, our heating and cooling, lawn and garden and some seasonal categories," he said.

The fourth quarter was the strongest of the year — with a sales increase of 7.4%. It was also the strongest from a retail comparable-store basis — positive 3.7%. For the year, retail comps were positive 0.7%, a big improvement from negative 6.1% in 2009.

Putting on his business operations hat, Lively expressed enthusiasm for a new benchmarking tool.  In March, the co-op received its first peer group report from some 2,700 stores that share POS data. "We never received such broad-based reporting across that many stores," he said.

Analysis of the data will help retailers identify specific areas in which to improve performance.

Over the years, store data has pointed to several basic factors of success, he said: the location and size of the store, local competition, great customer service, inventory amount and mix, best retail practices, and store owner and operational practices.

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