Lowe's names new Canadian store sites

Lowe’s has announced three new stores to be opened in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2008, part of a larger expansion effort into that country.

The retailer will open three stores in Belleville, Whitby and South Windsor, Ontario. All three cities are located at varying distances east of Toronto and all border Lake Ontario.

The retailer entered Canada at the tail end of 2007, with three locations in South Brampton, Brantford and Hamilton, Ontario. Four additional locations were opened in North Brampton, East Gwillimbury, Maple and Toronto, Ontario.

The stores, all around 117,000 square feet, include garden centers and represent an investment of approximately $18.5 million, according to the company.

Don Stallings, president of Lowe’s Canada, told Home Channel News at the grand opening of the company’s South Brampton store, that Lowe’s took a “methodical” approach to entering Canada.

“It’s a Canadian business basically,” he told HCN. “I’ve had many people ask me ‘Isn’t this basically just the United States operation dropped up North?’ And that’s not the case. It’s a Canadian business that’s being staffed by Canadians, being managed at the local level at the stores by all Canadians.”

Stallings said that the company doesn’t want to be seen as a U.S. big-box chain that sets up the same stores with the same models as its U.S. locations. To combat that perception, the company took more than two years researching the Canadian market, hiring Canadian merchants and buying Canadian products. He added the company wanted to offer the Canadian consumer a unique shopping experience, with wide aisles and well-lit stores.

Inside the stores, a new feature is a “help button” in almost every aisle designed to bring an associate within 60 seconds. The store also boasts a three-in-line policy for checkouts. “If our lines have more than three customers, we’ll open up another so you don’t have to wait,” according to one Lowe’s Canada commercial.

Lowe’s faces stiff competition in the country -- Home Depot has a large presence in Canada, alongside Canadian DIY retailer RONA. Sears Canada and Canadian Tire also bring multichannel capabilities and more competition.

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