W w Grainger Inc   (GWW)
Other Ticker:  
    Sector  Retail    Industry Wholesale
   Industry Wholesale
   Sector  Retail

W w Grainger Inc

Business Description

Grainger uses a multichannel business model to serve more than 1.6 million customers of all sizes with multiple ways to find and purchase products through a network of branches, field sales forces, direct marketing through catalogs and Internet channels. Orders can be placed via telephone, fax, Internet or in person. Products are available for immediate pick-up or for shipment. Grainger reports its operating results in three segments: Branch-based Distribution, Lab Safety and Integrated Supply. The Branch-based Distribution businesses primarily serve the needs of North American businesses for facility maintenance products. Lab Safety Supply, Inc. (Lab Safety), a direct marketing company, serves customers who purchase safety, industrial and other products. Integrated Supply serves customers seeking to outsource some or all of their indirect materials management processes.

Branch-based Distribution
The Branch-based Distribution businesses provide North American customers with product solutions for their facility maintenance and other product needs through logistics networks which are configured for rapid product availability. Grainger offers a broad selection of facility maintenance and other products through local branches, catalogs and the Internet. The Branch-based Distribution businesses consist of the following Grainger divisions: Industrial Supply, Acklands-Grainger Inc. (Canada), FindMRO, Export, Global Sourcing, Parts, Grainger, S.A. de C.V. (Mexico) and Grainger Caribe Inc. (Puerto Rico).

Lab Safety
Lab Safety is a direct marketer of safety and other industrial products to U.S. and Canadian businesses. Located in Janesville, Wisconsin, Lab Safety primarily reaches its customers through the distribution of multiple branded catalogs, including a CD-ROM version, and other marketing materials distributed throughout the year to targeted markets. Customers can purchase products through www.labsafety.com, www.benmeadows.com and www.gemplers.com.

Integrated Supply
Integrated Supply serves customers who have chosen to outsource some or all of their indirect materials management processes. This service enables customers to focus on their core business objectives. Integrated Supply offers a full complement of on-site outsourcing solutions, including business process reengineering, inventory and tool crib management, purchasing management and information management.

In April 2001, Grainger announced it was discontinuing the operations of Material Logic. All of Material Logic’s branded e-commerce sites were shut down with the exception of FindMRO, which remains in the Branch-based Distribution segment.

Grainger faces competition in all markets it serves, from manufacturers (including some of its own suppliers) that sell directly to certain segments of the market, wholesale distributors, catalog houses and certain retail enterprises.

Grainger competes with manufacturers and other distributors primarily through local product availability, efficient service, sales representatives, competitive pricing, catalogs (which include product descriptions and, in certain cases, extensive technical and application data), electronic and Internet commerce technology and other efforts to assist customers in lowering their total facility maintenance costs. Grainger believes that it can effectively compete with manufacturers on small orders, but manufacturers may have an advantage in filling large orders.

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