From the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and in an interview with CNBC, The Home Depot CEO Frank Blake said “it’s great to see the start of the recovery.”
Blake was in New York to promote Home Depot Foundation’s Celebration of Service campaign that runs from Sept. 11 through Veterans Day. He said in the interview that Home Depot has committed more than $80 million over five years to help veterans in need.
Blake also celebrated the company’s “best quarter in 20 years.” Home Depot reported double-digit sales increase in the second quarter, the first time since 1999.
Other highlights from the interview:
• Pro customers, who were the hardest hit from the housing downturn, are starting to come back he said. Credit availability was the key factor affecting pro customers, but “it has now started to recover,” Blake said. In the first quarter of 2013, Home Depot’s pro segment grew faster than its consumer segment. In the second quarter, pros and consumers grew at about the same pace.
• Addressing the company’s withdrawal from Chinese retailing, Blake said, “We didn’t have the right answer for the Chinese market.” He added: “We’re a North American business.” He noted the company’s Mexico division, which has more than 100 stores and 39 consecutive quarters of positive comps.
• Home Depot is no longer interested in large rollouts of new stores, he said. The company is opening two stores in the U.S. this year – in Puerto Rico and in North Dakota.