J. B. Kendall Co., a diversified manufacturing and supply company based in Northeast Washington, will close its retail hardware-store-supply business to concentrate on its other businesses, a top executive said yesterday.

Executive vice president James S. Potter said about 50 jobs would be eliminated but that 10 to 12 of those employes will be hired in other parts of the company.

Kendall's other operations include hardware supplies to builders, a steel warehouse, and metals fabricating. Steel warehouses supply metal products such as sheet metal, pipe and structural steel, generally to companies that are not big enough to buy directly from steel manufacturers.

He said the builders hardware supply business will continue to operate as before.

Potter said Kendall "elected to concentrate" on the company's other businesses because they are more profitable than retail hardware supply.

He said that the retail hardware business is booming and that Kendall expects to be able to find jobs for all the workers it lays off and does not absorb in other parts of its operations.

He said four or five workers already have new jobs.

Potter said Kendall plans to close down its retail hardware-supply business by the end of July. The company supplies mostly small hardware stores in the Washington area.

At present, Kendall has more than 200 employes, Potter said. Many of the workers are in Baltimore, where the company has a steel-fabricating facility that specializes in structural steel for buildings. It also makes architectural metals -- mainly custom-building windows at the building site -- and metal doors for commercial enterprises.

Potter said that the retail supply business is profitable, just not as profitable as other ventures.

He said that Kendall is privately owned and does not release its revenue, earnings or other financial information.