Grainger Announces Divestiture of Its Highsmith Specialty Brand

Company Initiates Strategic Review of Additional Niche Brands

Dec 20, 2010, 10:00 ET from W.W. Grainger, Inc.

CHICAGO, Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Grainger (NYSE: GWW), the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products serving businesses and institutions, today announced that it has sold substantially all of the assets of library supplies provider Highsmith, previously maintained under Grainger's U.S. Specialty Brands portfolio, to DEMCO, Inc., the leading provider of solutions to America's libraries and schools.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of a strategic review of the Specialty Brands portfolio, Grainger is also assessing the possible divestiture of four additional brands, including:

  • Professional Equipment (serving inspection and construction-related trade professionals)
  • Construction Book Express (serving general contractors, electricians, HVAC professionals, engineers and architects)
  • McFeely's (serving professional woodworkers)
  • Rand (serving material handling needs)

In aggregate, these four brands and Highsmith represent approximately one percent of total Grainger revenue.

"Grainger's Specialty Brands provide targeted customer segments with products and services specific to their work or industries," said Ralph Howard, Vice President and General Manager, Grainger Specialty Brands.  "These changes support a focus on maintaining a portfolio of specialized brands in growing markets that are strategic to our core offering and leverage Grainger's distribution capabilities.  We will continue to invest in the remaining Specialty Brands portfolio including: Lab Safety Supply, Imperial, Gempler's, Ben Meadows and AW Direct, and look for strategic acquisitions to grow the portfolio."

"Grainger's successful integration of Specialty Brands with Grainger's U.S. business has provided the opportunity to reassess our portfolio and better position the growth potential of Specialty Brands," said Mike Pulick, President of Grainger's U.S. Business.  "Specialty Brands remain an important part of our U.S. business, expanding our reach with select niche customers beyond those we serve with Grainger's broad line offering."

About Grainger

W.W. Grainger, Inc. with 2009 sales of $6.2 billion is North America's leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products with an expanding presence in Asia and Latin America.

About DEMCO, Inc.

DEMCO provides product and service solutions to libraries and schools to help them better meet the needs of their communities. Products include a full range of supplies, equipment, furniture and technology including a comprehensive interior design service for libraries and schools nationwide. DEMCO, Inc. headquartered in Madison Wis., is a subsidiary of Wall Family Enterprise, a family-owned business including five other library and education-focused companies based in the United States and United Kingdom.

Forward-Looking Statements

This document contains forward-looking statements under the federal securities law.  Forward-looking statements relate to the company's expected future financial results and business plans, strategies and objectives and are not historical facts.  They are generally identified by qualifiers such as "approximately", "continue", "possible", "will", or similar expressions. There are risks and uncertainties the outcome of which could cause the company's results to differ materially from what is projected.  The forward-looking statements should be read in conjunction with the company's most recent annual report, as well as the company's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and other reports filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, containing a discussion of the company's business and various factors that may affect it.

SOURCE W.W. Grainger, Inc.