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Western Auto’s Sales Up 5%

Could open two more local stores this year


January 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Western Auto Regional Vice President Larry Balle told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS that 2002 was a successful year for the company’s Puerto Rico operations, both in comparable-store sales and in bottom-line results. What’s more, two new stores could open for business this year, depending on first-quarter 2003 results.

"Our sales in 2002 grew 4% or 5% compared with the previous year," said Balle. "Depending on the performance of this year’s first quarter, we may open one or two new stores, each of which averages 50 employees. In the long term, we could open up to 10 new stores." The long term, he explained, means two or three years, though it could mean five years if the Puerto Rico government’s permitting process remains slow and burdensome.

Balle added that in the past two years, the company has closed five stores on the island to streamline operations. "After assessing our operations (including increasing competition and local working conditions), we consolidated our business into existing stores and didn’t have to let any employees go," he said.

"On average, our rent in Puerto Rico is 20% higher than for our stores on the U.S. mainland," said Balle. "If we add other operational costs, such as the cost of shipping merchandise to the island, our cost of doing business comes out, on average, to about 30% higher than for our mainland stores."

Western Auto has 34 stores in Puerto Rico, where it has been operating for 37 years, and two in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The local operations are a subsidiary of Virginia-based Advanced Auto Parts Inc.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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