* EPS C$0.20 vs average forecast of C$0.27
* Revenue drops to C$94.2 million
* Shares down 2.8 percent at C$16.00 (Adds details)
TORONTO, March 26 (Reuters) - Richelieu Hardware Ltd RCH.TO said on Thursday it plans to cut costs and freeze executive salaries as it reported a 34 percent drop in first-quarter earnings.
The distributor of specialty hardware said it earned C$4.3 million ($3.5 million), or 20 Canadian cents a share for the quarter, ended Feb. 28, down from C$6.6 million, or 29 Canadian cents a share for the year earlier quarter.
Richelieu, which also produces kitchen cabinets and doors, said revenue fell 2 percent to C$94.2 million from C$96.1 million.
On average, analysts had expected the company to report earnings of 27 Canadian cents a share before items and revenue of C$96.3 million.
The company said a slowdown in sales in Central and Western Canada, and the United States, more than offset growth in Eastern Canada.
Although the company said it remains “in a most healthy and solid financial position,” it said it plans to introduce a number of cost-saving measures, including control of its gross margins and a freeze on officers’ and managers’ salaries.
Richelieu shares, which have fallen 19.1 percent in the past year, were down 2.8 percent at C$16.00 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
$1=$1.23 Canadian Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson