In first quarter, Ace posts fourth straight sales gain

Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware Corp. reported total revenues of $845.0 million in the first quarter, up 2.8% from the same quarter a year ago. 

Merchandise sales to comparable domestic stores increased 2.2% in the first quarter.

Net income for the hardware cooperative declined to $6.8 million, down from $11.8 million in the same quarter last year.

"Our first-quarter sales reflect our fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year positive growth in merchandise sales," said Ray Griffith, Ace president and CEO. "While there is still uncertainty in the overall economic environment, we will continue to provide our retailers with the products and services they need to drive further growth as the economy stabilizes."

Ace added 38 new stores and canceled 41 stores in the first quarter, ending the period with 4,444 stores. 

Ace had sales of $3.5 billion in 2010, making it the largest of the "big three" co-ops, ahead of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best with $2.4 billion in sales, and Chicago-based True Value, with $1.8 billion in sales.