Arkansas Retailers See More Revenue in 2012

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, May. 20, 2013 12:00 am  

Scott Landers saw his firm’s revenue jump 62.6 percent to $393 million in 2012.

2012 was a good year for retailers on this year’s list of Arkansas’ largest private companies.

Of the 18 retailers among the 75 largest private companies, 16 showed revenue increases over 2011 figures, one remained flat and only Russell Chevrolet of Sherwood, whose revenue was estimated, dipped slightly.

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“Retail sales should continue to strengthen as the labor market improves, which means that we should expect modest gains … throughout 2013,” said Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas’ Walton Business College, said in an email to Arkansas Business.

She said the key to the boost in revenue is more people have jobs, the stock market has climbed and so have home prices.

But there have been some changes on this year’s list. The second-largest retailer on last year’s list was Stephen LaFrance Pharmacy Inc. of Little Rock with revenue of $825 million and 3,400 employees in 2011. The pharmacy chain owned by Stephen LaFrance Sr., was mainly branded as USA Drug. It was sold in 2012 to the drugstore chain Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., for $438 million.

Car Sales Increase

The largest privately owned retailer headquartered in Arkansas is RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings LLC of Little Rock. It reported revenue of $1.15 billion in 2012, up 11.6 percent over 2011.

One of the biggest increases in sales was Landers Auto Sales of Little Rock, which went from $241.7 million in revenue in 2011 to $393 million a year later. The 62.6 percent increase bumped the company, which sells new and used vehicles, from 10th place among retailers on the list last year to No. 5 this year. And among the 75 largest private companies, Landers moved from No. 36 to No. 25.

Auto dealers are seeing an uptick in revenue because consumers didn’t run out and buy vehicles during the Great Recession, said Lamar Murphy, executive director of the Arkansas Independent Automobile Dealers Association of Magnolia, which mainly represents used car dealers.

“People kind of stopped buying,” he said. “And eventually if you’re going to drive a car, you’re going to have to buy one. … As vehicles age, they have to be replaced.”

And people are replacing their cars now. He said auto sales have been strong again in the first quarter of this year.



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