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Webster Capital to purchase Dover Saddlery and take company private

BY Dan Berthiaume

Littleton, Mass. – Dover Saddlery Inc. entered into a definitive merger agreement with a company formed by Webster Capital. Webster will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Dover common stock for $8.50 per share in cash and take Dover private.

At closing, all in-the-money stock options and warrants will be cashed out. Webster is partnering with QIC, one of its largest institutional investors, to provide equity financing. The Dover board of directors has unanimously approved the merger agreement and recommended that Dover's stockholders vote to approve the transaction.

The offer represents a premium over Dover's current share price. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, subject to customary closing conditions, including stockholder approval.

"We are very pleased that the merger agreement we have negotiated with Webster will, upon closing, produce tremendous value for our shareholders,” said Stephen L. Day, CEO and chairman of the board of Dover. “As the leading omnichannel retailer in the equestrian industry, we are excited and looking forward to partnering with Webster to grow our retail store base and pursue other exciting expansion plans.”

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Survey: Consumer optimism rises as gas prices fall

BY Dan Berthiaume

Alexandria, Va. – A majority of Americans say they are optimistic about the economy and low gas prices are driving the optimism. Overall, survey results released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) shows that 52% of Americans are optimistic about the economy, an eight-point jump from March.

Those most optimistic are younger consumers ages 18-34 (58%) and those in the West (58%). The surge in optimism continues on ongoing trend in 2015. A majority of Americans have said they are optimistic about the economy in three of the previous four months, when national gas prices averaged between $2.05 and $2.40 per gallon. These are the only months that a majority of Americans have expressed optimism about the economy since NACS initiated the survey in January 2013. Gas prices averaged $3.51 per gallon in 2013 and $3.36 per gallon in 2014.

Consumers also are optimistic about where gas prices may be heading. More than half (52%) of consumers feel that gas prices in 30 days will be about the same or lower than today, up from the one in four (26%) who predicted the same last month.

While gas prices remain top of mind, 76% of Americans say that gas prices impact their feelings about the economy, only one in four (25%) say that gas prices have a great impact on their feelings, the lowest level recorded and significantly lower than the average of 36% who indicated so over the previous 12 months.

The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,103 gas consumers were surveyed April 7-9, 2015

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Ace Hardware opens Ace Center for Excellence

BY Dan Berthiaume

Oak Brook, Ill. – Ace Hardware has launched the Ace Center for Excellence, a new division designed to share the retailer’s strategies and key principles of customer service.

The center’s goal is to help companies improve upon their customer experience based on Ace’s approach through customized solutions, such as keynotes and workshops.

The Ace Center for Excellence has comprised a team consisting of Ace Hardware president and CEO John Venhuizen; executive VP merchandising, marketing and sales John Suran;, Ray Griffith, former president/CEO of Ace Hardware, and Art Freedman, speaker and Ace Hardware store owner of 25 years, and Gina Schaefer, owner of nine Ace Hardware stores, to deliver customized workshops and keynotes.

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