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ST. PAUL-Midwest Auto Parts Distributors Inc., a retailer of automotive parts and accessories, was sold this week for $61 million to O’Reilly Automotive, a Missouri-based auto parts chain.

The deal will add 71 new stores in five new states to O’Reilly, a publicly traded company that is one of the top five auto parts chains in the country. About 700 employees of Midwest Auto Parts will join O’Reilly. The two companies were a good fit due to their compatible dual market strategy, selling to both the retail trade and professional service providers, according to O’Reilly officials.

“We are very excited about the growth opportunities and the great new markets,” says Greg Henslee, chief executive officer of O’Reilly. Midwest Auto Parts has stores in Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming, and distribution centers in St. Paul and Billings, Montana. Midwest posted $98.7 million in sales for the 2004 fiscal year ending Sept. 30. O’Reilly bought all of the outstanding stock of Midwest and its parent company, W.E. Lahr Co., for $61 million in cash. The company’s owner, Bill Lahr, died last fall.

“Bill had great respect for the O’Reilly family and their business model, and had Midwest adopt many of their strategies,” says Jim Bartholomew, interim CEO of Midwest and a principal with Lighthouse Management Group.

O’Reilly will add about 160 new stores this year in addition to the 71 new stores from the Midwest acquisition. At the end of March, O’Reilly had 1,286 stores in the Central and Southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Advisors to Midwest include Goldsmith Agio Helms, investment banking; Lighthouse Management Group, management consulting and interim management; and Leonard, Street and Deinard, legal counsel. Advisor to O’Reilly was Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale.

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