W.W. Grainger Inc., Chicago, North America's leading supplier of facilities maintenance products, plans to buy Gempler's Inc. through its Lab Safety Supply subsidiary. Gempler's, Belleville, Wis., is a direct marketer serving the $3 billion agricultural, horticultural, grounds maintenance and contractor markets. Grainger expects the acquisition to close, subject to standard conditions, early in the second quarter and to be accretive within a year. No other terms of the agreement were disclosed.

Gempler's will become part of Grainger's Lab Safety Supply subsidiary, a provider of safety and industrial supplies. Gempler's, with 2002 annual sales of more than $30 million, sells tools, safety supplies, clothing and other equipment, many of which are not easily found in other catalogs supplying these markets. Grainger Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard L. Keyser said, “Gempler's offers access to new markets in the agricultural, horticultural, grounds maintenance, and contractor arenas that we can serve with many of Lab Safety's existing products and targeted media. This transaction is similar to Lab Safety's successful acquisition of Ben Meadows, which has provided diversification of Lab Safety's customer base outside the manufacturing sector.”

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