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Home Depot to close three call centers

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot will close call centers in Chicago, Dallas and Tampa, a move that will affect 950 employees, all of whom were notified of the closures on Monday.

According to Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, the cuts are to the retailer’s Home Services installation business, which deals with building and closing job quotes, specifically for flooring, millwork and decor.

“This change moves these responsibilities to approximately 550 stores,” he told HCN.

The call centers will close on Jan. 28. The move affects 750 employees in Tampa, 100 in Chicago and 100 in Dallas. The positions will be phased out.

“As the company continues improving the customer experience, we felt it was a priority to restore the customer-associate relationship in the store by giving customers a local point of contact for their installation purchases,” Holmes told HCN. “The way it has worked through the call centers (for the 550 stores) is that a customer would deal with a call center for the installation process for flooring, millwork and decor, meaning that the measures, quotes and other follow-up would be handled outside of the store by these call centers.”

The decision is consistent with the process Home Depot currently follows at most of its other U.S. stores, he said.

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Morgan Stanley in real estate venture with major home builder

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lennar, one of the country’s largest home builders, and Morgan Stanley Real Estate, a division of Morgan Stanley & Co., have formed a strategic land investment venture to “acquire, develop, manage and sell residential real estate,” according to a joint news release from the companies.

The new investment venture includes a diversified portfolio of land from Lennar. The properties acquired by the new entity consist of approximately 11,000 home sites in 32 communities in the United States.

The land portfolio includes a mix of raw land as well as partially and fully developed home sites in both active and future communities. The communities are located in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Jersey.

Lennar acquired a 20 percent ownership interest and 50 percent voting rights; according to the companies, as of Sept. 30, the acquired properties had a net book value of approximately $1.3 billion, and the sales price was $525 million.

Lennar will manage the land investment venture’s operations and will receive fees for its services.

“This transaction provides us with increased liquidity and flexibility at an opportune time,” said Stuart Miller, president and CEO of Lennar.

Lennar, based in Miami, builds homes in 18 states and offers financial services to home buyers.

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84 Lumber to make further cuts

BY HBSDEALER Staff

84 Lumber said it is cutting about 40 positions at its headquarters due to the slumping housing market.

Employees were notified Friday, with some having been offered different positions. The cuts are to employees at the company’s headquarters in Eighty Four, Pa. The company has seen the number of employees at its corporate headquarters fall in the past year to approximately 650 from about 800 employees.

According to 84 Lumber spokesperson Jeff Nobers, the approximately forty positions affect 25 people, some being offered other positions.

Because of a slumping housing market, 84 Lumber laid off further employees this year, including 26 employees at its corporate headquarters in June.

84 Lumber is in the second year of its three-year strategic growth plan, announced in April 2006, geared to making the company a $10 billion sales organization by the end of 2009. However, 2006 sales were flat at $3.92 billion compared to sales in 2005.

Last week, the pro dealer held grand opening celebrations of four new locations across the country, with simultaneous events in Oregon, Louisiana, Florida and Utah.

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