In The News

Ashland doubles size of West Chester Valvoline facility

Expansion follows recent moves to boost sales globally

Business Courier by Jon Newberry, Staff Reporter

Date: Friday, May 18, 2012, 6:00am EDT


Ashland Inc.’s Valvoline business unit more than doubled the size of its West Chester distribution center as it consolidated warehouse operations elsewhere.

Valvoline relocated and expanded by nearly 200,000 square feet in March within Duke Realty’s World Park at Union Centre. It now occupies an entire 321,000-square-foot warehouse on Meridian Way. The company has operated in the industrial park since the 1990s.

The Valvoline facility was one of six U.S. distribution centers it operated as of the end of its fiscal year in September. The site employs 23; Ashland doesn’t plan to add jobs.

The expansion includes office and warehouse space, said Gary Rhodes, spokesman for Covington-based Ashland. The operations that moved into the new space came from third-party warehouses, he said.

The expansion in West Chester follows two recent developments elsewhere that should help boost Valvoline sales in an uncertain global economy. In March, a Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchisee bought 72 EZ Lube outlets in Southern California and is rebranding them as Valvoline stores. Boston-based Henley Enterprises was already Valvoline’s largest franchisee. As of last September, Valvoline Instant Oil Change had 260 company-owned outlets and 604 franchised locations.

In April, Valvoline signed a five-year deal with TNK-BP, a large Russian oil company. Terms weren’t disclosed. Valvoline officials said the deal gives it access to 15,000 retail stores in Russia.

Valvoline sales rose by 12 percent to nearly $2 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September 2011. But profits and profit margins declined, reflecting lower volumes and higher raw material costs. For the six months ended in March, Valvoline sales were up 7 percent to $995 million, while operating profit fell 21 percent compared with the same period in fiscal 2011.

Ashland was represented in the West Chester deal by Bill Poffenberger, executive vice president and co-manager of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Cincinnati office.

“We had several properties to look at, but it’s not as weak up there as some people think,” Poffenberger said. “We were pleased with the economics of the deal.”