At shareholders meeting, Lowe's embraces change

Lowe's held its shareholders meeting last week.

At its annual meeting, Lowe’s chairman and CEO Robert A. Niblock continued to hammer on the theme of transformation at the nation's second-largest home center chain.

“Making home improvement simple for customers starts with making it simple for our employees by providing them with the right technology and resources,” said Niblock. “Throughout our 65-year history, Lowe’s has changed many times. To be successful in the future, we must transform the shopping experience for customers wherever and however they choose to shop with Lowe’s.”

He told shareholders at the company's annual meeting Friday how the company plans to transform Lowe’s from a home improvement retailer to a home improvement company.

Niblock said Lowe’s continues to deliver on its promise of great value, products and services by implementing operational programs to enhance the customer experience, even in a market overshadowed by uncertainty.

At the meeting, the Lowe's board declared a 27% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to fourteen cents ($0.14) per share, payable Aug. 3, 2011, to shareholders of record as of July 20, 2011. The company declared a cash dividend each quarter since going public in 1961. Also at the meeting, shareholder proposals regarding executive severance, linking pay to performance on sustainability goals and political spending were defeated.

Larry D. Stone, who will retire as president and COO June 2 after 42 years with the company, said the next chapter for Lowe’s is well under way to make the organization an even stronger company in the industry.

“Change has always been a part of Lowe’s culture, and throughout our history we’ve changed the company to meet the evolving needs of customers,” said Stone. “The next chapter of transformational change for Lowe’s will enable our employees to enhance the customer experience and make shopping for home improvement a seamless process.”

Lowe’s plans to open approximately 25 stores this year. Niblock told shareholders the company is focused on long-term growth driven by enhanced customer-focused experiences.

During the meeting, shareholders re-elected board members Raul Alvarez, David W. Bernauer, Leonard L. Berry, Peter C. Browning, Dawn E. Hudson, Robert L. Johnson, Robert A. Niblock, Marshall O. Larsen, Richard K. Lochridge and Stephen F. Page to one-year terms.

Shareholders also ratified Deloitte & Touche as the company’s independent public accountant and approved Lowe’s 2011 Annual Incentive Plan. 

“As Lowe’s celebrates its 50th anniversary as a public company, we remain focused on building our company for the future while taking advantage of near-term opportunities that continue to drive value for shareholders,” CFO Robert F. Hull Jr. told shareholders. “While the macro environment continues on the path to recovery, Lowe’s balance sheet and financial position remain strong, generating higher cash flow and returning more capital to shareholders through increased dividends and share repurchases.”


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