2019 Hot 100 Retailers: Sustained Sizzle

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Sustained sizzlers have appeared on the Hot 100 Retailers list every year since its inception in 2006. Each of the four this year operate in a special niche that it either created or exploited to the extent that it has no large head-to-head competitor.

That second description certainly applies to Tractor Supply Co., which operates stores under the Del’s Feed & Farm, Petsense and Tractor Supply banners. One indicator of the company’s hot retailing achievements is a compound annual growth rate of 8.9 percent over the past five years. New stores are an important part of this growth: TSC plans to open 80 new stores this year, the same as last year, and 15 Petsense stores, three fewer than in 2018.

Amazon is looking to make its retail operations more profitable by concentrating on major brands. In the process, it has stopped buying from smaller suppliers — those with which it was doing $10 million or less business annually — and forcing the suppliers to sell their goods as third-party vendors on Amazon Marketplace. The Marketplace currently generates more than half of Amazon’s ecommerce revenues.

Ross Stores, which operates the Ross Dress for Less and DD’s Discounts chains, plans to open 100 stores this year. These openings “reflect our ongoing plans to continue building our presence in both existing and newer markets, including the Midwest for Ross, and expansion of DD’s Discounts into Oklahoma and Illinois,” says Jim Fassio, president and chief development officer at Ross Stores.

O’Reilly Automotive got off to a slow start this year; nothing negative, but growth was lower than anticipated. Earnings per share gained 12 percent and gross margins widened 50 basis points as management held steadfast on the year’s outlook. O’Reilly’s store openings continued apace, with 64 in the first quarter, part of a package of 200 to 210 new stores planned for the year.

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