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Retail roundup: Home Depot in China, Best Buy, Torrance Wal-Mart

September 15, 2012|By Shan Li
  • Home Depot is closing its last seven big-box stores in China amid a slowdown in that country's economy. Above, a store in Oklahoma City.
Home Depot is closing its last seven big-box stores in China amid a slowdown… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)

-- Home improvement chain Home Depot Inc. will close its remaining seven big-box stores in China after a slowdown in the country's economy depressed sales.

The retailer will continue to operate two specialty stores in Tianjin, China, and concentrate efforts on expanding its online business. About 850 jobs will be cut, the company said Friday.

Home Depot stepped into China six years ago after acquiring a small, locally grown chain of stores called the Home Way. “We've learned a great deal over the last six years in China," Home Depot Chief Executive Frank Blake said in a statement. "Our new approach leverages that experience and reflects our continuing interest in providing value to Chinese customers, as well as our shareholders.”

-- Electronics giant Best Buy Co. is moving 2,000 workers in charge of loss prevention into its sales force to combat falling sales.

Company spokeswoman Kelly Groehler told Bloomberg that workers who normally greet shoppers as they enter and check receipts when they exit will now be reassigned to sell merchandise. No one will lose his or her job.

Best Buy has been hammered on many sides lately, what with losing sales to online competitors such as Amazon and a scandal that led then-Chief Executive Brian Dunn and then-Chairman Richard Schulze to step down. Hubert Joly, the new CEO, is trying to revive sales.

“Customers told us they did not like having their receipts checked when they left the store,” Groehler told Bloomberg. “It puts more emphasis on assistant managers and the general manager of the store engaging with customers when they walk in.”

-- A new Wal-Mart opened in Torrance this week across from the Del Amo Fashion Center on Hawthorne Boulevard with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Retail giant Wal-Mart has been aggressively expanding its grocery-oriented Neighborhood Markets in California but also has been opening more big-box locations. At 75,000 square feet, the new store carries groceries and includes a pharmacy. It will employ about 150 workers.

"We look forward to serving the people of our community, helping them to save money so they can live better," store manager Tony Amirikhass said.

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