Lowe's is the world's second largest home improvement retailer (after Home Depot). Even as the #2 in the sector, Lowe's remains a massive business, one of America's 50 biggest companies, with revenues of $71.3bn in fiscal 2018 and more than 1,723 stores spread across 50 states, but with a distinct concentration in the Eastern US. Net earnings in 2018 were $2.3bn. Somewhat older than its main competitor, it was purely a regional business for many years, until the rapid growth of Home Depot inspired Lowe's too to establish a national presence. In many cases new Lowe's stores have been opened close to the location of an existing Home Depot. Various urban legends have sprung up around this fact. The most widely circulated story - which is entirely fictional - claims that Lowe's was started by the angry ex-wife of a senior Home Depot executive. When she didn't get what she wanted in the divorce, she made a vow to open a Lowe's store as close as possible to every new Home Depot. However, this strategy has given Lowe's something of a "second mover" advantage, copying its larger rival's successes and avoiding any mistakes. Like Home Depot, Lowe's has also been slow to build an international footprint, although it opened its first outlets in neighbouring Canada in 2007. There are now 280 Lowe's stores there, partnered by another 212 under the RONA banner, acquired in 2016. A small number of outlets in Mexico are being sold; secondary US brand Orchard Supply Hardware was shuttered in 2018. An attempt to establish a presence in Australia via a partnership with local retailer Woolworths proved disastrous and was abandoned in 2016. The group sells a broad range of third party brands, and manages a sizeable collection of own brands including Kobalt tools, Allen + Roth home decor and Blue Hawk. Like other companies in this sector, Lowe's performance was held back in the late 2000s by the sharp downturn in the US housing market, but it has bounced back strongly since 2010, with revenues hitting new highs every year. Marvin Ellison joined the group from JC Penney in 2018 as CEO, replacing Robert Niblock.
Capsule checked 28th May 2019
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Mar 2018: US home improvement giant Lowe's has dropped longtime creative agency BBDO New York, and will instead farm out creative projects to a trio of roster shops: EP & Co (formerly Erwin Penland), The Via Agency and Saatchi-aligned hispanic agency Conill.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Jan 2017: US DIY store Lowe's promoted Jocelyn Wong to chief marketing officer, taking over from Marci Grebstein, who has left the company after just over a year in that role. Wong was previously the store's SVP, general merchandising.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th May 2015: Ads of the Week: "Museum". BBDO New York resurrects several of the world's greatest painters in humorous vignettes to celebrate the launch of Sherwin-Williams' paint at Lowe's. Sherwin-Williams is something of a local icon in the US, like Dulux is in the UK, and apparently this is the first time its paints have ever been sold outside their own stores. Here's the full compilation, but there's also a collection of shorter painter-specific spots. Our personal favourite is Van Gogh.
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