An improving sales environment is driving list price increases among suppliers, and the industrial supplies distributor will ‘follow suit in the near term,’ says CEO Eric Gershwind.

E-commerce sales continued to hover around 60% of total sales for MSC Industrial Supply Co. in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Total sales grew by double digits, reflecting a brighter economic outlook, MSC president and CEO Erik Gershwind said.

Gershwind told analysts on the company’s quarterly earnings call today that “e-commerce was 59.8% of sales in the quarter, up from 59.6% a year ago.” Based on those percentages, e-commerce sales were $460.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2018, compared with $409.0 million in the prior-year quarter.

After several years of a weak pricing environment, many suppliers have now raised list prices, and we expect to follow suit in the near-term.
Erik Gershwind, president and CEO
MSC Industrial Supply

For the first quarter ended Dec. 2, 2017, MSC which distributes maintenance, repair and operations products, reported:

  • Net sales of $768.6 million, up 12.0% from $686.3 million in the same period last year.
  • Gross profit of $335.1 million, up 8.6% from $308.7 million.
  • Net income of $59.6 million, up 9.8% from $54.3 million.

Earnings include e-commerce and catalog sales from Deco Tool Supply Co., which contributed $29.7 million in total revenue for the quarter.

MSC acquired industrial supply distributor Deco for $42 million in August. Deco does $100 million in annual sales. The Davenport, Iowa-based company sells online at and through a catalog.

Deco’s sales are strictly B2B, but an MSC spokesman declined to disclose how much of Deco’s sales came from the web versus its catalog. Data from web traffic monitor SimilarWeb indicated Deco’s online activity is modest. SimilarWeb says attracted fewer than 5,000 visits in July 2017, just before the acquisition was announced, versus 1.55 million for MSC’s main U.S. e-commerce site,