Lowe’s Rolls up its Sleeves and Addresses Merchandising

Lowe’s second-quarter financial report was a disappointment to the company’s executives, who made no excuses for the retailer’s poor showing. Earnings were down slightly, revenues grew by only 1.3%, and comp-store sales were essentially flat. “Even after taking into account the challenges of the macro-environment, we are still not pleased with our performance this year,” said chairman and CEO Robert Niblock, speaking at an analysts’ conference call on Aug. 15.

Instead, Niblock and his executive team outlined a series of initiatives they intend to implement — or in some cases, accelerate — to address some “gaps” they’ve identified through a critical analysis undertaken earlier in 2011. “We will go to market differently beginning in the second half of this year,” Niblock said. Continue reading the article

(As reported in Home Channel News)

Lowe’s Closes Seven Stores

Lowe’s Cos. reported Monday that profit for the quarter ended July 29 was $830 million, down from $832 million in the year-ago period. The home improvement retailer closed seven underperforming stores on Sunday and trimmed its earnings forecast for the year.

“Despite some recovery in our seasonal business, our performance for the quarter fell short of our expectations,” said Robert A. Niblock, CEO.

(As reported in Chain Store Age)

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Home Depot Catches up on Internet Sales

As of this month, when shoppers find their local store on its website, they see new information including whether the store provides key cutting or tool rental. They also see the store manager’s name, as well as the in-store layout. Item searches yield how many items are in stock at the nearest stores. “We know we were behind folks like Amazon.com,” said Hal Lawton, Home Depot’s HD +0.31% president of online. “We’ve put a stake in the ground. We want to catch up and then get ahead. We certainly are not going to lose share.”

Like other retailers, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer says it’s expanding in the online channel aggressively and targeting it as a major growth opportunity. Home Depot has made its biggest e-commerce investment over the past two years since it started Internet sales in 2001. An important part of the company’s $370 million in planned annual IT spending over the next three to four years will be online, including mobile, the company said, declining to elaborate.

(As reported in MarketWatch.com)

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Home Depot’s Second Quarter – The Tale of the Tape

The Home Depot’s Craig Menear, executive VP merchandising, said the company’s strong 4.3% comp-store sales performance in the second quarter was boosted by outdoor projects, storm-related repairs and steady strength in core departments. Performance was aided by Home Depot’s improved supply chain and merchandising tools, he said.

“At the end of the first quarter, we chose to carry more inventory to keep our stores fully stocked with seasonal product,” Menear told analysts during the company’s earnings-report conference call. “This was the right decision. Improvements in the weather combined with our merchandising tools and enhanced transportation network allowed us to end the first half with inventory turns flat to last year.”

(As reported in Home Channel News)

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OSH Goes back to Basics

It’s back to basics for the hardware store that for decades has been known as OSH, as the San Jose-based retailer tries to distinguish itself from big-box stores. That means an increased emphasis on customer service, hardware and home decor, said Tom Carey, a senior vice president for Orchard Supply Hardware.

“Hardware is a tough business, and in this competitive environment, you must differentiate yourself,” said Patricia Edwards, chief investment officer and analyst with Trutina Financial. “The better alternative for Orchard is to play more to the individual consumer.”

That especially makes sense, given the wide reach of Home Depot and Lowe’s.

(As reported by MercuryNews.com)

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Service Outweighs Price

A customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Powers and Associates found that sales, delivery and installation service are slightly more important than facilities, product assortment and price when it comes to buying major appliances.

Combined, the importance of the sales staff, delivery and installation service factors slightly exceed the combined importance of the store facility, merchandise and price factors (51% versus 49%, respectively). Courtesy of the sales staff is the most important aspect within the sales staff and service factor, while courtesy of delivery personnel is the most important element of delivery service.… Read the article

(As reported by Home Channel News)

Eight Major Retailers Taking a Hit

It’s no secret that U.S. retail sales collapsed in 2008 and 2009 because of the recession. But several of the largest retailers consistently performed poorly between 2005 and 2010 for reasons that go beyond the recession. 24/7 Wall St. looked at which retailers lost most in total sales during that period and found that their troubles have a few common elements.… Read the article

(As reported by MSNBC.com)