United Stationers Inc., Deerfield, IL, reported first quarter 2008 sales were up 5% to $1.25 billion. The December 2007 acquisition of ORS Nasco added $74 million. Excluding acquisitions, sales were down 1.2%.
We are taking action to help offset the effects of a weaker economy that adversely affected sales, particularly in higher margin discretionary products," said Richard W. Gochnauer, president and CEO. "We reduced product purchases and are managing inventory levels consistent with the sales environment. These actions reduced volume-related supplier allowances earned, while improving inventory turnover, working capital efficiency and cash flow. On a positive note, our sales and earnings were boosted by the investments we have made in the janitorial/breakroom category and the acquisition of ORS Nasco."
Sales were strong in the janitorial/breakroom category, up 15%. This helped offset a 5% combined sales decline in office supplies, technology products, and office furniture due primarily to a significant decline in national account sales.
The sales slowdown occurred mostly in March and reflected weakness in the economy and the timing of the Easter holiday, which fell in the first quarter of this year versus the second quarter in 2007. April sales trended up from March. The combined March and April sales results indicate a flat growth trend, excluding ORS Nasco.