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Lowe's to close 20 stores, cut about 1,950 jobs

Two of the locations are in California. The downsizing comes after the home-improvement chain reported quarterly earnings below expectations. The company will also slow its opening of new stores.

October 18, 2011|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • The closing of its underperforming stores, executives said, would help Lowes focus on more profitable locations. Above, a Lowe's in Wake Forest, N.C.
The closing of its underperforming stores, executives said, would help… (Jim R. Bounds, Bloomberg )

Lowe's Cos., the world's second-largest home-improvement chain, will lay off about 1,950 workers and close 20 stores in 15 states.

The store in Westminster in Orange County quietly closed at the end of business Sunday along with nine other Lowe's locations across the country.

The other California store that will shut down is in Los Banos in Merced County. The company said in a statement Monday that the Los Banos store and the other still-open locations targeted in the downsizing will close within a month.

Last month, the Mooresville, N.C., company said its second-quarter performance had fallen short of expectations, even with the boost provided by seasonal sales. The closing of its "underperforming" stores, executives said Monday, would help Lowe's focus on more profitable locations.

After the downsizing, the chain will still have more than 1,700 locations in North America.

Lowe's also plans to slow its rate of store openings by roughly half, canceling several planned new projects and aiming to launch 15 or fewer locations in North America each year, down from 30 expected openings.

"Closing stores is never easy, given the impact on hard-working employees and local communities," Chief Executive Robert A. Niblock said in a statement. "However, we have an obligation to make tough decisions when necessary to improve profitability and strengthen our financial position."

Home Depot, the main competitor of Lowe's, reported a 14% jump in profit to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, driven by a rebound in seasonal business and Hurricane Irene-related repairs.

Over the same quarter, Lowe's profit remained nearly flat at $830 million.

Lowe's shares rose 10 cents Monday to $20.89.

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