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Lowe’s justifies its recent layoffs

BY HBSDealer Staff

Lowe’s recent job trimming is expected to generate cost savings and keep up with changing customer behavior, the company says. It’s also generated press coverage citing anxiety among workers on the floor.

An article from the Charlotte Observer quoted one unnamed employee: “We’re stressed to the max.”

But at Lowe’s headquarters, the “staffing model changes” are designed to improve the customer experience and speed up decision making across the company, as it grows and evolves.

The Mooresville, North Carolina-based home center chain says its recent moves will result in the loss of one to two assistant store manager positions per store. Also being cut as the company adjusts to changing consumer behaviors will be 10% of vice presidents in Mooresville and additional leadership positions in distribution centers. All in, the reduction affects 2,400 employees, or less than 1% of the work force.

In a memo to Lowe’s employees [click image on the right for full memo], CEO Robert Niblock explained the changes as a step to keep up with the times.

“The changes will better align store staffing with customer demand, shift resources from back-of-the-store activities to customer-facing ones and enhance our efficiency and productivity,” he wrote.

In an email to HBSDealer, Karen Cobb, manager of corporate public relations, wrote: “While staffing decisions are not easy, we are continuing to invest in the future of our business. Over the next three years, we expect to spend $3.6 billion in capital, including plans for 15 to 20 new stores per year, and create approximately 4,000 store-level jobs.”

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ScottsMiracle-Gro sees numbers jump by 27% in Q1

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company reported a 27% sales increase in the first quarter, largely driven by recent acquisitions and strong consumer demand in the U.S.

“The strong consumer demand that we saw last summer continued into the fall and gave us an outstanding start to our new fiscal year,” said Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO. “As we prepare for the start of another lawn and garden season, we continue to see strong retailer support for our category and for our brands. The strength of the core U.S. business, combined with the continued momentum from the hydroponic businesses in the Hawthorne Gardening Company portfolio, give us great confidence as we enter the season and in the financial guidance that we have provided.”

Net sales of $246.8 million during the first quarter ended Dec. 31 were up 27% from $194.5 million a year earlier.

Sales in the Other segment, which includes The Hawthorne Gardening Company, Canada and Asia Pac businesses, increased 74% to $96.9 million owing largely to the recent acquisitions of Botanicare and Gavita.

U.S. Consumer segment sales increased 11% to $125.5 million, while sales for the Europe Consumer business declined 5% (but were up slightly when excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates).

However, the company reported a net loss during the quarter, which is normal given the seasonal nature of the lawn and garden category. There was some improvement from the previous year's loss of $81.3 million to this year's loss of $65.3 million.

“I am encouraged by the strong start in the U.S. consumer business, as well as our tight spending control for the quarter, and our favorable commodity positions for the year,” said Randy Coleman, chief financial officer. “These factors and others give me continued confidence that pro forma adjusted earnings for fiscal 2017 will range between $4.10 and $4.30 per share on sales growth of 6 to 7 percent.”

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Next Big Thing: Wind power for retail

BY HBSDealer Staff

On a wind farm near McAllen, Texas, with windmills that stand taller from tip to base than the Statue of Liberty, Home Depot is harvesting enough electricity to power 100 Home Depot stores.

The juice is flowing because of the Atlanta-based retailer’s deal with EDP Renewables North America, a deal that marks Home Depot’s first major investment in a wind-powered renewable energy project. The company says that in addition to supplying power to 100 stores, the deal provides $150,000 in local community benefits.

[For more on the Home Depot's wind-harvesting project, click here.]

The Los Mirasoles Wind Farm, operated by EDP, is in Hidalgo and Starr Counties. Through a 20-year power purchase agreement, Home Depot’s annual purchase of 50 megawatts is a fifth of the wind farm’s 250 MW capacity.

The Home Depot signed on with EDP in 2016. Under the retailer’s renewable energy initiative, its goal is to procure 135 megawatts of various renewable energy sources, including wind, by the end of 2020.

In Delaware and Massachusetts, Home Depot collects energy from solar farms to the tune of 14.5 million kilowatt hours per year. Also, more than 150 stores and distribution centers use on-site fuel cells that produce about 85% of the electricity needed to power each store.

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