Lowe’s CEO: Our transformation is gaining momentum

Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock cited the recovering U.S. economy as among the reasons why the company plans to focus more on market differentiation and omnichannel retailing.

The company said it will outline these and other strategic priorities in a meeting with investors on Dec. 11 in North Carolina.

“We’re at a great point in our company’s evolution. The housing market and broader economy are recovering just as our transformation is gaining momentum,” Niblock said. “We’re building on our past success and finding new ways to serve and connect with customers.”

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Costco off to great start with Q1 beat

The holiday season started strong at Costco where U.S. same store sales advanced 7 percent during the company’s first quarter ended Nov. 23.

Total company sales during the period increased 7 percent to nearly $26.3 billion from $24.5 billion. Membership income grew slightly slower, advancing 6 percent to $582 million. Same stores sales excluding the effects of the strengthening U.S. dollar and fuel price deflation were 7 percent and U.S. and international locations.

Profits during the period increased to $496 million, or $1.12 per share, three cents better than analysts’ consensus forecast, compared to $425 million, or 96 cents a share the prior year.

Costco end the quarter with a total of 671 warehouses, including 474 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 88 in Canada, 34 in Mexico, 26 in the United Kingdom, 20 in Japan, 11 in Korea, 10 in Taiwan, seven in Australia and one in Spain.

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Home Depot Acquires HD Supply Hardware Solutions

Atlanta-based Home Depot will acquire HD Supply Hardware Solutions from its former HD Supply unit for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced Tuesday.

HD Supply Hardware Solutions, based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., is a supplier of business hardware, fasteners, ropes and chains, mainly to Home Depot, which accounts for 98 percent of the company’s sales.

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AmEx Costco Card Seen as Crown Jewel

American Express Co. (AXP) risks losing at least 15 cents a share of 2015 profit if it fails to maintain a credit-card partnership that Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) is said to be reconsidering, according to analysts’ estimates.

The lender’s exclusive role as the credit-card provider for Costco’s U.S. stores may generate 20 cents to 30 cents of earnings per share next year, according to William Ryan at Portales Partners LLC. Morgan Stanley’s Betsy Graseck estimates the portfolio could account for 15 cents to 19 cents. AmEx will earn $6.03 a share next year, according to the average of 27 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

“The Costco relationship is one of the crown jewels of co-brand relationships,” Jason Arnold at RBC Capital Markets said in a phone interview. “It’s something that would be felt.”


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At Orchard Supply, two robots hit the floor

Lowe’s Innovation Labs will introduce two autonomous retail service robots in an Orchard Supply Hardware store in midtown San Jose, California, during the upcoming holiday season to study how robotics technology can benefit customers and employees. Called OSHbot, the robots will assist customers to navigate stores by directing them to specific products and providing real-time information about product promotions and inventory.

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Costco works with Alibaba to limit risks as it enters China

CHICAGO — By selling directly to Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s platform, a move announced last week by the American retailer Costco Wholesale, it aims to employ local knowledge and a low-cost structure to avoid missteps that caused even Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, to stumble in China.

Many global retailers opening in China have struggled to find product mixes and store designs that appeal to local customers. In addition to Walmart, others like Best Buy and eBay have fallen short of expectations in one of the fastest-growing consumer markets.

Costco’s virtual storefront on the Alibaba site Tmall is designed to help the company study consumer shopping habits with no brick-and-mortar costs and fewer risks, signaling a new approach to expanding in China.

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Home Depot Names Mark Powers EVP U.S. Stores

The Home Depot promoted Marc Powers to the role of EVP U.S. Stores, effective Nov. 1, 2014.

“Marc brings a deep understanding of our operations, culture and customers, making him an ideal fit to oversee our U.S. stores,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. “We’re truly fortunate to have such a deep bench with leaders like Marc.”

Powers will transition from his current role as SVP operations, U.S. Stores, which has put him in charge of store operations and customer service programs for the retailer’s nearly 2,000 U.S. stores. He began working for The Home Depot as a store associate in 1986.

In his new role, he will be charged with leading the company’s three U.S. operating divisions, as well as Pro, Tool Rental and Home Depot’s installation business.

Powers replaces Marvin Ellison, who left Home Depot to join J.C. Penney in a role that will eventually put him in the CEO post.

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Shelfie could put an end to ‘out of stock’ items

One of the most annoying aspects of grocery shopping for consumers is arriving at the store to find the items they wan’t are sold out. There’s typically nothing supermarkets can do about it at the time, but now Shelfie is giving customers rewards for tracking empty shelves, delivering the data to stores to help them avoid stock defecits.

Developed by Cincinnati-based marketing analysts Datacrowd, consumers that download the app can take a ‘shelfie’ — a picture of the empty shelf and accompanying product tag — every time they come across one. They can then send the image along with their GPS location to the Datacrowd team. In return, they’re offered reward points that can be redeemed in store, or used to spend on other participating brands. Datacrowd then alerts supermarkets with data about when, where and which products are out of stock, enabling them to tweak their inventories to reduce the incidence of empty shelves.

Shelfie is free to download from the App Store and Google Play, although it’s currently only available to US consumers. Are there other ways for national and international businesses to tap crowdsourcing techniques to monitor performance at even their most far-flung locations?

Website: www.takeashelfie.com
Contact: info@getdatacrowd.com


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How Apple Pay could make the Target and Home Depot breaches a thing of the past

The launch of Apple’s mobile payment system could prove a turning point in the battle to secure your debit and credit card information from hackers.

Tens of millions of card numbers have been stolen in the last few months from malware-infected payment terminals in stores including Target and Home Depot. The thefts were possible in part because the card information gets stored in an unencrypted form inside the terminals.

Apple announced a system this week, one that uses a payment standard based on NFC technology. When users of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones walk into a store, they’ll be able to wave their phone over an NFC reader to complete a purchase.

The system, which relies in part on Apple’s Touch ID biometric technology to verify the user’s identity, could finally replace a payment technology that’s been in use for five decades.

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4 Reasons Shoppers will Shrug Off Home Depot Hack

NEW YORK (AP) — Home Depot’s data breach could wind up being among the largest ever for a retailer, but that may not matter to its millions of customers.

The nation’s largest home-improvement chain on Monday confirmed a theft that could have gone back as far as April and affected customers who used credit and debit cards at nearly 2,200 of its U.S. and Canadian stores. While the scope of the hack is not yet known, there’s speculation that it could be the biggest yet.

Home Depot joins a growing list of retailers that have had their data stolen. Perhaps the most high-profile of those previous hacks came was at Target, which suffered profit and sales declines after shoppers fled following a breach that compromised 40 million debit and credit card accounts.

Industry watchers are betting Home Depot will fare better with its customers.

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