The Farnsworth Group has been attending the fall round of wholesaler markets and conventions. The underlying tone has been quite upbeat.
Dealers are positive and focused on growing their businesses. They seem to be reenergized with a fresh attitude of “I’m taking charge and investing in my future growth.” They are exploring numerous traditional and more “unique” ways to capture a greater share of their markets. Many dealers are busy opening new stores, doing major remodels, category resets and expanding their assortments…..at an accelerated pace over the past couple of years.
Growing through acquisitions is also a major topic. In his opening general session comments, new Ace Hardware president John Venhuizen pointed out that retail consolidation is a competitive concern citing Central Network Retailing Group (CNRG) growing to 44 stores in two years, and Lowe’s purchasing 72 Orchard Supply Hardware stores in California. (Both CNRG and Lowe’s are clients of The Farnsworth Group.)
The changing retail landscape was also a popular subject among the dealers, wholesalers and vendors alike, given the growing strength of the farm and home/ranch channel segment, especially Tractor Supply, and continuing share transfer to discounters (as documented in The Farnsworth Group’s most recent industry study on channel purchase behavior.) On-line retailing and how to compete against on-line prices is a concern to all dealers.
Seminars and other educational sessions where well attended, especially those dealing with pricing, margin management and branding.
– Jim Robisch, Senior Partner, The Farnsworth Group