Ace’s Ray Griffith: Room for growth

Of all the statistics Ace Hardware CEO Ray Griffith presented during the co-op’s Fall Market general session, the one he seemed to be most enthusiastic about focused on simple geography.

He said about 50% of the United States population lives within three miles of an Ace store. “That means there’s plenty of room for growth,” he said.

After introducing Ace’s new CFO Bull Guzik, who brings 13 years of CFO experience from Midas, Griffith rattled off several growth-minded stats. Year to date, Ace sales are up 4.5%, ahead of the budgeted 4.0%. The company opened 78 new stores so far, with a goal of 179 in North America. 

Griffith laid out the reasoning for a refinancing of the co-op’s refinancing package -- a five-year $600 million senior credit facility, with $400 million revolving credit and $200 a million term loan. Essentially, the company was lured by low interest rates. 

The deal led to a one time expense in the co-op’s recent quarter, But, “the really good news is in 2013, saving $45 million over the term of this new financing.”

On the general economy, Griffith said the co-op’s same-store sales are up 3.8% year to date, and transactions are up 1.5% year to date. “I think it reflects the strength of the home improvement market.”