Lowe’s president Larry Stone to retire
Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s announced Friday that Larry Stone, president and chief operating officer, will retire June 2 after more than four decades with the home improvement giant.
Stone has served in virtually every leadership position within store operations and merchandising during his 42-year career with the company, and many credit him for Lowe’s success and rise into the No. 2 position among home-improvement retailers
“After more than four decades of commitment and dedication to the company he truly loves, we knew the day would come when Larry retires and begins the next chapter in his life,” said Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO. “He has made many important and lasting contributions to Lowe’s during his career. It would be an understatement to say he will be missed.”
The company said it does not plan to fill the president and chief operating officer position after Stone’s retirement. Niblock and Stone will work together over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.
Lowe’s also promoted Robert J. (Bob) Gfeller Jr. to the post of executive VP merchandising. He will replace 37-year veteran Nick Canter, who previously announced his retirement, effective in March.
Three other executives were promoted: Rick D. Damron, executive VP store operations; William D. (Doug) Robinson, senior VP customer support services; and Richard D. Maltsbarger, senior VP strategy.
CGP is bullish on home improvement
A forecast from Customer Growth Partners, a New Canaan, Conn.-based research and consulting firm, is predicting home-related retailers will show the strongest growth in 2011.
CGP President Craig Johnson also predicted Home Depot and Lowe’s will have their best fourth quarter performances since 2006 when they release their earnings Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, respectively.
As a whole, retail will grow 5.1% in 2011, a pace that would be the strongest in five years. "Although retail is the Rodney Dangerfield of industries — getting little respect compared to the tech and other sectors — in fact, retail is by far the nation’s largest employer, with over 18% of total payrolls, more than tech, media and health combined," said CGP President Craig Johnson.
The reason for Johnson’s optimism? Four years of pent-up demand and depressed sales levels during the housing slump, according to CGP. Plus, very strong growth in holiday growth showed people are spending again.
Johnson added that no industry suffered more job losses during the recession that retail, which lost 1.2 million jobs over the past three years. Although Retail sector employment will still lag 2007’s peak levels, the sector will add some 600,000 jobs, about half the number lost during the recession.
A little late night shopping
A Home Depot store in Concord, N.H., reopened late on Jan. 24 after a pick-up truck drove through the wall of a local residence and landed in the living room. According to the story in the Union Leader, the driver of the pick-up lost control of the vehicle on a 90-degree curve in the road and plowed completely through the living room wall. The occupants of the home — a man and his 7-year-old twin daughters — escaped injury. But they needed to repair the damage enough to get through the night.
“We needed to get thing buttoned up so the house wouldn’t freeze,” said homeowner Bill Tanguay. “We went out to see if we could get our hands on insulation and a thermostat to keep heat running. Home Depot already closed, but they opened up, let us in and helped us out. The manager there made sure we had everything we needed."