Posted April 25, 2018

Macpherson: Grainger ready to compete more aggressively

Calling 2017 an important year for Grainger, its chairman and CEO DG Macpherson said the company took action to "become more relevant to our customers and to compete more aggressively in the market."

At Grainger's annual shareholders meeting in Lake Forest, Illinois, Macpherson referenced the new pricing structure put into place in 2017. 

"Pricing was a barrier to our growth with both large and midsize customers. This was a very complex change. It required hard work and collaboration by all our team members to execute, and the results show clearly in the numbers. Our performance accelerated through the back half of 2017, and we saw that momentum continue into this year," he said.

Sales to large volume customers increased 7 percent in the first quarter of 2018, while sales to midsized volume customers increased by 30 percent. Both were above expectations, Macpherson said.

"What’s also encouraging is we’re starting to see increased traffic in our branches and our sales reps are having more value-based conversations with customers which solidifies our relationships. We remain optimistic for the U.S. business in 2018," he said.

He said the company's single channel online business grew by 20 percent to $1.3 billion in sales and that the business acquired more than one million new customers in 2017.

"In 2017 we also launched an R&D website, called Gamut, with a new way of thinking about product search. Given the positive early customer feedback, we are combining the capabilities of Gamut with those of our industry leading website,, to create the most powerful industrial website in the market," he said.

Macpherson also said Grainger is making good progress on its plan to take $150 million to $210 million of cost out of the business in 2018 and 2019.

Click here to download a script of Macpherson's comments to shareholders.