Sterling to close three stores

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April 14, 2011 — Sterling Autobody Centers plans to close three stores within the next month and open new shops in stronger markets later this year, said Nick Notte, the company’s president.

A 24,000-square-foot shop in Morrow, Ga., is set to close in a couple weeks and a roughly 11,000-square-foot facility in Bedford, Ohio, will follow suit in about a month, Notte said. A satellite store in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, which fed the Bedford location, will also close.

About a dozen of the shops' 44 employees will move to nearby Sterling collision centers, Notte said. He said the company will lose some longtime employees because of the closures and he feels for them and their families, but the shops were draining the company rather than moving it forward.

The decision to close the centers was based on lagging performance and opportunities for new facilities in better locations, he said. Sterling, purchased by Allstate Non-Insurance Holdings in 2001, found after a decade of rapid growth that not all of its 60-plus stores were positioned in strong markets. The Bedford shop in particular was in a location with a migrating market share, Notte said.

“The organization was on a tear, on a mission to put up 300 stores,” he said. “Unfortunately no one looked at penetration of Allstate customers.”

Notte said at least one new store will open this year in Chicago and more stores will follow in other areas. 

Sterling was founded in 1997 and runs collision repair facilities in 16 states.

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