United Hardware held its June Buying Market this past weekend in Minneapolis, where retailers browsed new items, shopped for promotional deals and learned about new programs.
Hardware Retailing had the opportunity to sit down with United Hardware president and CEO Steve Draeger during the show to catch up on the latest events at the market as well as learn about how the distributor’s year is shaping up.
“We think we are off to a very strong start with the market,” Draeger says. “Pre-registrations were up and the attitude of retailers on the show floor is very positive.”
Draeger went on to say that United Hardware retailers posted a same-store sales increase of 5 percent in 2014, customer counts had increased by 2.6 percent and sales per customer were up 2.4 percent.
This positive momentum resulted in an average net profit for United retailers of 5.1 percent. “That’s what we really try to focus on is delivering a stronger bottom line profit to our retailers,” said Draeger, who also pointed out that the average net profits of United retailers were significantly better than the 2.9 percent industry average.
“We want to create a scenario where our retailers have the ability to invest in their businesses to drive their own profits and we put that first,” he says. “We think our retailers are reaping the benefits of doing business with a low-cost provider with no broken carton fees and no national advertising fees that would restrict their growth.”
Draeger also reported that United is gaining traction with its associate member program that allows retailers to purchase product from United on a trial basis without having to make a long-term commitment to the co-op.
“This allows us to expose these retailers to what United has to offer and earn their business in the long run,” he said.
On the Floor
To make it easier than ever for market attendees to see the latest new products from across all product categories, United featured a consolidated new products area this year. Located just inside the entrance to the market floor the new products area featured warehouse items from categories ranging from automotive and tools to toys and housewares.
There was a lot of activity also centered around United’s Creative Support Services area on the show floor, where retailers could learn more about the co-op’s enhanced advertising programs.
“Our Creative Support Services team has done a great job of giving our retailers a top-notch advertising program that they can use to customize their message to the unique needs of their market,” Draeger says.
United also hosted 20-Minute Training Sessions on the market floor during the event. These training sessions featured information on a range of topics, including product trends and training.