At Grainger, 2011 was a record year

W.W. Grainger reported record sales and earnings for the year ended Dec. 31, the Chicago-based industrial supply company announced Wednesday morning.

The full year 2011 sales of $8.1 billion were up 12% compared to $7.2 billion in 2010. Net earnings of $658 million increased 29% over the prior year.

“This was an exceptional year for Grainger,” said Jim Ryan, chairman, president and CEO Jim Ryan. “Our team is producing consistently solid results with a strong focus on helping our customers improve the productivity of their businesses. We continue to see a long runway for growth and are investing aggressively in our proven growth drivers: product line expansion, sales force expansion, eCommerce, inventory services and international expansion.”

For the fourth quarter, the company's sales were $2.1 billion, up 14% from $1.8 billion in the same quarter last year. Net earnings in the fourth quarter were $148 million, up 12%.

Sales for the United States segment increased 8% in the 2011 fourth quarter versus the prior year.  The 8% sales growth for the quarter was driven primarily by 8% volume growth and 3 percentage points from price, partially offset by a 2 percentage point drag from the 2010 oil spill sales and 1 percentage point from lower sales of seasonal products due to the unusually warm weather in the 2011 fourth quarter.