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In first quarter, Ace posts fourth straight sales gain

Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center served as the stage for the Ace Hardware 2011 Spring Convention and Exhibits. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op's event employed the slogan: "Bringing helpful home." (Photo courtesy of Ace)
The Craftsman booth was busy promoting its various programs -- and giving away prizes at the spin of a wheel. The co-op said dealers that rolled out a Craftsman program saw category sales growth of 20%. (Photo courtesy of Ace)
The Spring Convention show floor featured Crazy One Day Deals, celebrity appearances from Mike Ditka and William "The Refrigerator" Perry and a new "Ace Advantage Area" promoting programs exclusive to Ace. (Photo courtesy of Ace)
Flowers brought some color to the show floor, and sales opportunities to dealers.
John Surane, VP merchandising, advertising, marketing and paint, addressed the general session with a slide showing various awards and honors won by Ace Hardware Corp.
Thousands of retail members packed McCormick Place's Arie Crown Theater during the early morning General Session held April 1. (Photo courtesy of Ace)

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.