Ace lands a big, new member

ACO Hardware, a 52-store chain described as Michigan’s largest independent home and hardware retailer, will join the Ace Hardware brand. 

Based in Farmington Hills, Mich., ACO will operate the new Ace Hardware stores under the name Great Lakes Ace, a nod to the retailer’s Michigan roots. ACO was originally founded in 1946 as Traskos Brothers Hardware Depot in Dearborn, Mich. All of the company’s stores are in Michigan. 

In making the move, the retailer is also returning to its hardware roots -- as home improvement was de-emphasized in a 2011 strategy to embrace a general merchandise format. 

In May, ACO closed 14 underperforming stores. And the move to Ace represents a shift to get back into the hardware-store arena.

The transition to Ace will take place over a six-month period, according to the co-op. At that point all stores will have reopened as Ace Hardware branded stores.

“Last year, we committed to our customers that we would invest and grow our business,” said Mark VandenBerg, CFO, ACO Hardware. “Ace Hardware offers our stores a world-class brand, top-notch merchandise opportunities and a supply chain network second to none.” 

As part of its transition, ACO retained SB Capital Group to clear existing inventory through special sale events. A group of 26 stores are slated to begin “Total Inventory Blowout Sales” on Jan. 8. 

The locations of this group of sales are: Auburn Hills, Brighton, Center Line, Clarkston, Clawson, Clinton Township, Farmington Hills, Highland, Lake Orion, Macomb, Milford, Port Huron, Rochester Hills, Roseville, Royal Oak, St. Clair Shores (2), Shelby Township, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Union Lake, Warren (3) and Waterford (2).

It remains unclear when the second transition cycle will begin.