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Lowe’s CEO to Step Down

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe’s chairman and CEO is retiring at a time when the home improvement chain is looking to rev up business and compete better with its rival, Home Depot.

Investors approved of the move, sending Lowe’s shares up more than 5 percent.

Robert A. Niblock, a 25-year Lowe’s veteran, will stay in his roles on an interim basis while Lowe’s looks for a successor. He has served as chairman and CEO for 13 years.

Niblock stated, “After a 25-year career at Lowe’s, including 13 years as chairman and CEO, I am confident that it is the right time to transition the company to its next generation of leadership. Serving Lowe’s alongside our over 310,000 outstanding employees has been my great privilege and the highlight of my professional career. I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished to position Lowe’s as the omni-channel project authority. As we transition to the next chapter, I have great confidence in the strength of our team and the opportunity ahead for Lowe’s. I look forward to assisting the board with its search, and I am committed to supporting a seamless transition for all of our stakeholders.”

The company hasn’t capitalized as well as Home Depot on the solid housing market, and last month Lowe’s posted a 16 percent drop in profit for the fourth quarter and a nearly 2 percent drop in revenue.

Analyst Neil Saunders of GlobalData Retail concluded at the time that “Lowe’s ability to capitalize on key trends and dynamics is hampered by the shadow Home Depot casts over the sector.” For its fourth quarter, Home Depot saw revenue and profits both rise.

Both Lowe’s and Home Depot are heading into their busy spring seasons in a healthy housing market, though there is concern of a slowdown. Mortgage rates have been creeping higher, hitting their highest level in four years in the most recent report. That, coupled with rising home prices, could hamper what has been a persistently strong housing market.

Lowe’s has more than 2,390 home improvement and hardware stores.

Its shares had risen 7 percent over the past 52 weeks, and gained $4.47 to $88.24 on Monday. Over the past year Home Depot, which operates more than 2,200 home improvement stores, has seen its shares rise 17 percent to around $174.

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