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The Globe and Mail

Lowe’s makeover bears fruit; Sandy helps sales

Men leave a Lowe's store with a supply of lumber in New York in this file photo.

Mark Lennihan/AP

Lowe's Cos Inc. 's quarterly results beat analysts' estimates as sales benefited from rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy and the retailer's efforts to improve product selection and customer service.

Lowe's, which has lagged behind larger rival Home Depot , is in the middle of a makeover. It has closed locations, curbed openings, cut jobs, streamlined its supply chain and invested in its stores and its online business.

The company has armed its store workers with Apple iPhones to help shoppers research products, check rivals' prices and make purchases. It has also given iPads to store managers so they can spend more time on the sales floor.

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Lowe's has also started offering everyday low prices and products targeted to specific geographic markets. It made its stores more appealing with improved signs, television displays that stream videos to educate shoppers on how-to-do projects, and lower racks to make items easier to reach.

The company has started, a site that allows shoppers to save their room dimensions, create a shopping list and set reminders for recurring items such as air filters and batteries for smoke alarms. It also increased its assortment of products online.

Net income was $288-million, or 26 cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended on Feb. 1, compared with $322-million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 23 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales fell 5 per cent to $11.05-billion, but exceeded the analysts' average estimate of $10.84-billion. Sandy made landfall five days before the start of Lowe's fourth quarter.

Sales at Lowe's stores open at least a year rose 1.9 per cent both globally and in the United States.

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