Grainger cuts costs to build distribution

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Coral Gables, Fla.--W.W. Grainger Inc., the maintenance, repair and operations powerhouse with more than $5 billion in annual revenue, said Friday that it has stayed on track to deliver on earnings, despite a difficult economic environment. The company also disclosed plans for a $200 million upgrade of its distribution operations.Richard L. Keyser, chairman-CEO of the Chicago-based company, said the company doesn't expect a pickup in sales until the second half of next year. The company expects sales growth of 2% to 7% next year, he said. Financial results for this year will show that Grainger succeeded in cutting costs, and that it will be able to meet earnings forecasts of between $1.80 and $1.90 per share after one-time charges, Keyser said. Grainger plans to spend about $200 million to improve its distribution network by building five new regional distribution centers and upgrading four older facilities. “The new network will enable us to step up our distribution process, eliminate multiple handling of products and get products to our customers faster,'' Keyser said. His comments were made at Lehman Brothers' 19th Annual Industrial Select Conference, currently under way in Coral Gables.

--John Evan Frook

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