At Ace Convention, Griffith points to sales momentum

Denver -- Ace Hardware stores are showing strong same-store sales, while the distributor's wholesale sales are running ahead of the budgeted 3% growth, CEO Ray Griffith told dealers.

Speaking Saturday morning at the General Session of the co-op's 2011 Convention & Exhibits here at the Colorado Convention Center, Griffith said data from about 3,000 Ace stores show a 2.4% comparable-store sales increase over last year. In each of the last four months, the stores showed comp-sales increases of more than 4%. 

"These results beat some pretty impressive retailers," Griffith said, pointing to Lowe's, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and Kohls. 

Turning to the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op's financial performance, Griffith said wholesale sales year-to-date are running 5% ahead of last year. The co-op showed a 2.1% sales gain in 2010 and budgeted a 3% gain in 2011. The 5% increase is the largest sales increase since 2007. 

Recent figures are even more encouraging, he said. September was up 15.5%, and October is trending at 13.3%. "There are many retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers who would love to say they have a 5% increase going in 2011," Griffith said. 

The CEO added that the co-op is confident it will exceed its budgeted bottom-line net income goal of $75 million.