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Lowe's continues down transformation road

Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s is telling investors and analysts that changes are in the works, a message it has delivered steadily over the last several quarters.

“We will evolve our sales culture across all channels to better understand and serve customers’ needs, and further leverage our investments in technology," said Rick Damron, chief operating officer. "This next phase of our transformation is focused on our associates and their relationship with customers. It is a shift from a transaction-oriented culture to a project-oriented culture with a particular focus on lead conversion and average ticket growth.” 

For fiscal year 2012, total sales are expected to be flat compared with the 53-week prior year, but up about 2% compared with the prior 52-week period, the company said. Comp-store sales are expected to increase about 1% on a 52-week-to-52-week basis. 

The company will finish the year with 10 new store openings. 

Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO, said, “As we look at the home improvement industry, we know consumers’ affinity for their homes remains strong even as we emerge from the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression."

There will be a lot of competition for share of wallet in this environment, including rival Home Depot, where comp-store sales have outperformed Lowe's comps for each of the last 14 quarters.

Gregory Bridgeford, chief customer officer, is expected to address improvements during the Wednesday conference. “We are building on our core strengths with Value Improvement and Product Differentiation," he said. "These focus areas are expected to deliver comparable store transaction growth, higher gross margins and improved inventory productivity. You might think of Value Improvement as the inner circle enhancing the core, and Product Differentiation as the outer circle driving excitement and flexibility.”

The bit about technology is

The bit about technology is kind of funny. Everything at Lowes involving technology is broken. I work on the sales floor and nothing works. Pretty bad when I have to lookup an item on Home Depots' web site to find a model number of that item and then punch it in to Lowes web site because the search engine doesn't work at Lowes.com. Investors beware.

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