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Bellwether alert: Sales down 9 percent in 2009 for safety products distributor Grainger (2/11)

Grainger, one of the nation’s largest distributors of safety products, reported for the year ended December 31, 2009, sales of $6.2 billion were down 9 percent versus 2008.

The company expects better things this year. "We are seeing some initial signs of improvement in the overall economy, although job growth is expected to lag the recovery,” said Grainger Chairman, CEO and President Jim Ryan. “Stronger sales growth in December and January give us greater confidence to raise our 2010 sales growth guidance to a range of 6 to 10 percent.”

During the fourth quarter of 2009, Grainger said it continued to lower its cost structure by closing branches and reducing headcount. In total, 12 branches, including 6 Will Call Express locations, were closed.

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