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Westlake Ace Hardware in new acquisition

BY HBSDealer Staff

Westlake Ace Hardware is expanding its footprint — again.

The company announced it will acquire Dennis Company, which operates five retail hardware stores in coastal southwest Washington. With the acquisition, expected to close in late March, Westlake will own 121 stores across 10 states.

Upon acquisition, Dennis Company stores will become part of the Ace network, and will be a division of Westlake Ace Hardware. The stores will retain the Dennis Company name, management, personnel, and the current product mix.

The Dennis Company opened in 1905, and has been operated by four generations of Dennis family members.

“Westlake is a growing and vibrant brand,” said Joe Jeffries, president and COO of Westlake Ace Hardware. “We are excited to welcome the Dennis Company into the Westlake family, expand our relationship within the communities they serve, and continue their proud tradition of outstanding customer service.”

Westlake has followed a course of steady expansion in recent years. In November, Westlake expanded into Chicago with the acquisition of seven-store Buikema’s Ace Hardware.

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UNC Study: Lidl’s impact on grocery prices ‘unprecedented’

BY Marianne Wilson

The arrival of German discount grocer into the United States is prompting rivals in its operating markets to lower their prices.

That’s according to a study by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, which examined the competitive price effect of Lidl’s entry in the U.S. grocery market and the reaction of Aldi, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix and Walmart. The study, which was conducted independently, was commissioned by Lidl U.S.

Grocery retailers located near Lidl stores set their prices for key staple products up to 55% lower compared to their stores in markets where Lidl is not present, according to the study. For example, competing retailers set the price for a half gallon of milk about 55% lower in Lidl markets, compared to markets where Lidl is not present, according to the study. Price reductions of more than 30% were found in categories such as avocados and bread-related products. For some frequently purchased goods, such as ice cream, bananas, and cheese, the price reductions amount to more than 15%.

“The level of competitive pressure Lidl is exerting on leading retailers to drop their prices in these markets is unprecedented,” said Katrijn Gielens, associate professor of marketing at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “In fact, the competitive price-cutting effect of Lidl’s entry in a market is more than three times stronger than the effect of Walmart’s entry in a new market reported by previous academic work.”

Gielens analyzed prices in six markets where Lidl operates — and six control markets in which Lidl is not present — in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. She looked at prices for a broad basket of 48 grocery products, ranging from dairy and meats to produce and canned and frozen goods.

But even with the lower prices, the other retailers still came in above Lidl, the study found. In markets surveyed where the German grocer is present, the data showed that retailers, on average, has prices 25% above Lidl prices.

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IHL: Retailers expect strong sales growth in 2018; new stores, remodels up

BY CSA STAFF

The nation’s retailers are bullish on the new year.

North American retailers expect a 6.2% increase in sales in 2018, according to research from IHL Group. The report found that retailers are increasing the number of stores in 2018 by an average of 5.6%, with planned remodel of stores expected to rise more than 5%.

IT spend is also up. Store level IT Investment is expected to rise 5.8% this year over 2017 levels.

“Despite what the headlines might say, retail grew over $220 billion in the U.S. and Canada in 2017,” said Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group. “Retailers are projecting even stronger growth in 2018, including 4.8% growth in sales at stores.”

IHL’s 2018 Retail Transformation Study looks at retail sales growth at store level, e-commerce, mobile commerce, and how retailers plan to increase both stores and IT spending to meet customer demands and effectively compete with Amazon and Walmart. The research included 123 retail senior executives surveyed, most with annual sales over $1 billion.

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