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2001-02-22
Atlanta, GA. Home Depots Saws Off Growth Plans

In the midst of gloomy financial news, along with the "retirement" of co-founder Arthur Blank, Home Depot announced this week that it was down-sizing its new store growth plans for 2001 by more than 10%, lopping off 25 stores from its previously stated goal of building 225 stores. The company now says it will drop new store goals to 200 units this year. I consider this a victory for the 25 communities that won't have to mount a citizen's campaign to stop Home Depot. One investment officer whose company owns a significant share of Depot stock, told Reuters news that there would be "an increased focus on efficiency and things like return on investment. Simply driving growth through new stores" isn't enough. Companies like Home Depot, Lowe's and Wal-Mart show increasing sales figures, but their sales at same store sales are nowhere near the levels they were at in the 1980s, when double digit same store sales were posted. Those days are gone, and more and more new store plans run into a buzzsaw of opposition at the local level, with citizen's groups up in arms as soon as they see the color orange. This community opposition has retarded store development, slowed down the pace of store approval, and left many companies no choice but to go back to the drawing board to reduce their future growth plans. As one industry magazine said recently, citizen opposition has left big chain store growth plans "in chaos."

What you can do: So Arthur Blank departs in the midst of Home Depot profit warnings. Does anyone outside of Wall Street really care? "I'm not going away to another planeet," Blank reassured the public. That's good news, I'm sure, for Home Depot stockholders, but there are scores of citizens groups across the nation who wish that Mr. Blank's company would "go away to another planet" and leave this one alone.










 
 
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