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Lowe's to Sell Craftsman Tools, Gaining Edge Over Home Depot

Lowe’s Cos. is betting the Craftsman name, once indelibly linked to Sears, will give it an advantage over Home Depot Inc.

Starting in the second half of 2018, Lowe’s will offer the 90-year-old tool brand, the retailer said Tuesday. Almost as important, this means Home Depot won’t, giving Lowe’s a way to stand out against its top rival. The deal also includes developing exclusive Craftsman-branded products for Lowe’s.

“We always try to have a wide breadth of brands that people know and trust, and Craftsman is certainly one that will help us deliver on that,” said Jackie Pardini Hartzell, a spokeswoman for Lowe’s.

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. bought Craftsman from Sears Holdings Corp. earlier this year for $900 million, part of a yearslong run of asset sales by the struggling retailer. Sears had kept distribution of the tool brand tight with only about 10 percent of purchases coming at other chains.

In buying Craftsman, Stanley aimed to revive it by investing in product development and expanding distribution. Lowe’s is the biggest retailer in terms of revenue to offer the brand, with more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. The chain will also sell the products online. Orchard Supply Hardware, a small retailer Lowe’s bought in 2013, was already offering Craftsman items. They are also sold at Ace Hardware, which has more than 5,000 stores.

Sears will gain financially too. As part of the deal, Stanley has to make annual payments for 15 years to Sears that amount to about 3 percent of its Craftsman sales. In January, Stanley said the Craftsman brand generated about $200 million in revenue outside of Sears. Stanley has the goal of increasing that to $1 billion in 10 years.

Home Depot has a “strong lineup” of exclusive power-tool and tool brands such as Milwaukee, said Steve Holmes, a spokesman for the retailer.


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