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Home Depot’s top merchant points to Q4 winners

BY Ken Clark

Home Depot’s Northern division, which bore the brunt of Superstorm Sandy late last year, saw comp-store generator sales up in the triple digits.

Storm-related sales were one of the reasons Home Depot’s fourth-quarter sales exceeded internal company expectations. Across the country, the departments that outperformed the company’s average comp for the fourth quarter were tools, lumber, electrical, outdoor garden, lighting, indoor garden and decor.

"We expect the impact of Sandy to continue at least through the first half of the year," said Craig Menear, the retailer’s executive VP merchandising.

Flooring, kitchens, bath, plumbing, hardware, paint and millwork performed positively in the fourth quarter, Menear said. And although comp sales in building materials were negative, they exceeded expectations, he said. 

"Across all U.S. divisions, the core of the store continues to maintain momentum with positive performance in our plumbing, hardware and paint departments and across maintenance and repair categories in spray paint, lubricants, light bulbs, chemicals, pipe and fittings, tape, plumbing repair and fasteners," Menear said, during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

Driven by generators and appliances, the company’s transactions for tickets over $900 were up 9.0%, he said. These transactions represent about 20% of the company’s U.S. sales.

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Recall announced for Ryobi battery pack

BY Ken Clark

The Ryobi Lithium 18 VAh Battery Pack is being recalled by importer One World Technologies of Anderson, S.C. 

The battery pack can overheat and burst while on a charger, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers, according to a release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The product was sold at The Home Depot stores nationwide and in Canada, online at Homedepot.com, and at other retailers from September 2012 to December 2012 for about $99. About 54,200 are in the United States and 2,200 in Canada.

This recall involves Ryobi brand, Lithium 18 V 4Ah battery packs, with model P108 and part number 130429028. 

One World Technologies has received four reports of battery packs overheating, resulting in minor property damage. No injuries have been reported. 

The product manufacturer is Techtronic Industries (Dongguan) Co. of China.

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On the other side of the world, Bunnings posts gains

BY Ken Clark

The Australian home improvement and outdoor living retailer Bunnings posted revenue growth of 5.8% in the first half of the year.

Bunnings competes in Australia with Masters home improvement stores, a joint venture of Lowe’s and Woolworths.

For the six months ended Dec. 31, Bunnings grew its operating revenue by 5.8% to A$4.0 billion (US$4.11 billion). Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in the same period were A$518 million (US $531.9 million), equating to an increase of 6.8% over the prior corresponding period. 

Total store sales increased 6.0% as comparable-store sales increased 3.4%, the company reported.

"Day-to-day trading outcomes were pleasing and the outlook is promising with further growth expected in consumer and commercial markets," said John Gillam, managing director of the Bunnings Group. "Our focus on value for customers, enhancements to service and services, as well as more merchandising innovation will help drive future growth." 

He added that the retailer will accelerate the opening of its large format warehouse stores. 

At the end of December 2012, Bunnings operated a network of 211 Bunnings Warehouse stores, 62 smaller-format Bunnings stores and 37 Bunnings Trade Centres across Australia and New Zealand.

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