Tractor Supply Co.

Tractor Supply Co., the Brentwood, Tenn.-based chain of retail stores offering products for home improvement, gardening and pet care, is increasing an already-large presence in southcentral Kentucky.

The company has started site work on a 15,500-square-foot store on Brenner Street, behind the Hardee’s restaurant that is across Louisville Road from Warren East High School.

The store, which is expected to be open before the end of the year, will employ about 15 people and expand Tractor Supply’s reach in Warren County.

Tractor Supply has a store at 5387 Scottsville Road and will now have a location in the northern end of the county. The company also has retail stores in Glasgow, Franklin and Scottsville and a growing distribution center in Franklin.

That distribution center, which serves TSC retail stores in six states, has experienced growth that is a microcosm of the parent company’s expansion that hasn’t lost any momentum during the coronavirus pandemic.

Approved for state tax incentives in 2018 that helped the center in the Sanders Industrial Park implement an $8.5 million expansion, Tractor Supply’s 850,000-square-foot distribution center has hardly experienced a hiccup as a result of the pandemic that has handcuffed many businesses.

The distribution center, in fact, added more than 140 jobs last year and is operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employment at the distribution center is approaching 700 people.

The growth at the distribution center is needed to keep up with the growth of a company that increased its electronic commerce presence during the pandemic but has also continued to increase its number of brick-and-mortar stores.

Considered an “essential business” that was allowed to stay open during the pandemic, Tractor Supply has grown from about 1,400 stores in 2015 to more than 1,900 across 49 U.S. states today.

Tractor Supply is also growing through acquisition. In February, it announced that it is acquiring Orscheln Farm and Home in an all-cash transaction for about $297 million. Orscheln Farm and Home operates 167 stores across 11 states, including Kentucky.

Tractor Supply also recently reported record financial results in the first quarter of 2021.

Net sales for the first quarter increased 42.5% to $2.79 billion from $1.96 billion in the first quarter of 2020. Gross profit increased 48.8% to $983.8 million from $661.2 million in the prior year’s first quarter.

“The Tractor Supply team delivered an exceptionally strong start to the year, and our comparable store sales growth exceeded our expectations,” Tractor Supply President and CEO Hal Lawton said in a news release. “This record performance was achieved by the more than 42,000 Tractor Supply team members who are committed to taking care of each other and our customers.”

Like other Tractor Supply stores, the new store along Louisville Road will carry a variety of items for home improvement, agriculture, lawn and garden maintenance, livestock, equine and pet care.

The livestock and pet products category accounted for 47% of the company’s sales in 2020.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.