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Nardelli had pushed hard to make the company more efficient, instituting many metrics and centralizing operations, while cutting jobs, benefits, and associate pay to meet quarterly earnings targets. While this initially doubled earnings and reduced expenses, it alienated many of the store managers and rank-and-file store associates, and by extension the customers. Nardelli, who regarded home improvement store-by-store sales as less important due to market saturation from competition such as Lowe's, aimed to dominate the wholesale housing-supply business through building up HD Supply, a unit that Blake sold for $8. 5 billion in August 2007 since it was not part of Home Depot's integrated business. In comparison to Nardelli, whose numbers-driven approach never appreciated the role of the store and its associates, Blake's strategy has revolved around reinvigorating the stores and its service culture (engaging employees, making products readily available and exciting to customers, improving the store environment, and dominating the professional contracting business, an area in which Home Depot's closest rivals trail far behind), as he recognized that employee morale is a more sensitive issue in retail compared to other industry sectors like manufacturing.

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