Company Snapshot: Lowe’s Companies Inc.
Will Lowe’s Grow Through OSH?
1000 Lowes Boulevard
Mooresville, NC 28117
Robert A. Niblock- Chairman, President, CEO
Rick D. Damron- COO
The recession brought growth for both industry giants, Lowe’s and Home Depot, to a virtual standstill. Neither has rebounded with proposals for new store openings projecting above single digits for several years.
This stunning lack of growth has brought many to speculate that the big box format has pretty much reached its limit, that few communities remain which are large enough to support home center warehouses. If this is true, from where can these giants of the market derive future growth?
Two years ago Lowe’s acquired Sear’s castoff Orchard Supply Hardware. Prior to its acquisition by Sear’s in 1996, OSH had been seen as an innovative, unique California hardware chain. Stores were deemed as rather large for hardware stores and approximated 40,000 sq. ft. Product offerings reflected local communities. When a particularly strong water emergency hit, OSH brought in water from afar, simply to help customers within the community.
When Sear’s acquired OSH, word quickly spread that new Sear’s Hardware Stores would be created in the Orchard mold. Eventually it became apparent that this would never come to fruition. In 2012 Sear’s spun-off OSH. Just over a year later it was clear that the spinoff had failed as OSH was spun-off saddled with great debt.
Lowe’s came to the rescue and acquire the struggling OSH for bargain basement prices and trusted OSH personnel and management to turn the company around after a few store closures. This effort has been so successful that the Orchard prototype now appears to be the eventual key to growth for its parent, Lowe’s.
Recently Orchard debuted robots on its selling floor. These were designed to be modern age store greeters as well as having the ability to guide shoppers to the products they seek. Orchard’s proximity to Silicon Valley was likely a part of the impetus to test this tech concept. The devices are called OSHbots They speak both English and Spanish and are connected to an inventory database. Thus, they can inform customers if an item is out of stock.
Keeping in line with the Silicon Valley connection, Orchard Supply just began offering 3D printing services.