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Walmart throws weight into home improvement

BY Ken Clark

The world’s largest retailer is taking steps to display its home improvement prowess through a digital marketing campaign centered on a “Projects Made Simple” area at Walmart.com.

The area is organized by home improvement project. For instance: how to stain a deck, install a water filter system, caulk a window or install a towel bar. In the deck video, an unidentified handy-man narrator explains, “All the tools are available at Walmart to get you going." 

The website also lets users download a project sheet with tips and instructions.

Walmart has long dealt in home improvement products, but the latest effort e-blasted to customers with the invitation to “Explore Walmart’s complete solution to make home do-it-yourself projects simple” marks an aggressive change for DIY. The e-blast listed the three key features of the online tool: checklists, instructions and how-to videos.

Home improvement specialists of all sizes have long felt insulated from competition from the mass retail channel due to specialized training and product knowledge of employees on the sales floor — a sophistication that they feel stores such as Walmart cannot match. But even if a more focused campaign from Walmart moves the perception needle even slightly, the results could be dramatic given Walmart’s sheer size.

In 2011, Walmart’s sales in the United States were $264.2 billion. The company operates 3,804 Walmart stores in the United States.

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Home Depot lifted by warm weather in Q1

BY Ken Clark

Atlanta-based Home Depot made first-quarter history for the period ended April 29 with net earnings crossing the $1 billion mark.

The company reported net income of $1.035 billion, up 27.5% from the same quarter last year. Sales were also up, rising 5.9% to $17.81 billion in the quarter. Comparable-store sales were 5.8%, the highest figure in more than seven years.

“We saw a stronger-than-expected start to the year, driven by record warm weather and continued demand for core products,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. “I would like to thank our associates for their hard work and dedication.”

With the strong quarter under its belt, the company increased its fiscal 2012 guidance and now expects sales to be up about 4.6% for the 53-week year. 

The company’s store count increased by two in the quarter to a total of 2,254.

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Panasonic renames eco division

BY HBSDealer Staff

Panasonic Corp. of North America has renamed its Home and Environment as the Eco Products Division, which will house its ventilation fan business. This product line includes 18 products of high-performance, Energy Star-rated, whole-home ventilation solutions that improve indoor air quality and comply with the latest building standards and codes.

“At Panasonic, we strive to go beyond providing superior eco products to our customers by offering them comprehensive solutions,” said Dan Silver, VP Panasonic Eco products division. “The integration of our ventilation fan business with other units, such as solar panels, lighting controls and power tools, helps us meet this goal and provides the building industry with integrated solutions for any project.”

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