The Home Depot

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The Home Depot, Inc.
Public
Traded as
ISIN US4370761029  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Industry Retailing
Founded1978;42 years ago (1978)
Marietta, Georgia, U.S.
Founders Bernard Marcus
Arthur Blank
Ron Brill
Pat Farrah
Kenneth Langone
HeadquartersAtlanta Store Support Center, ,
Number of locations
2,285 (as of October 20, 2019) [1]
Areas served
United States (since 1979)
Canada (since 1994)
Mexico (since 2001)
Key people
Craig Menear
(Chairman & CEO)
Products Home appliances, tools, hardware, builders hardware, lumber, building materials, paint, plumbing, flooring, garden supplies & plants
RevenueIncrease2.svg US$108.2 billion (2018) [2]
Increase2.svg US$15.53 billion (2018) [2]
Increase2.svg US$11.12 billion (2018) [2]
Total assets Decrease2.svg US$44.00 billion (2018) [2]
Total equity Increase2.svg US$1.87 billion (2018) [2]
Number of employees
400,000 (2018) [3]
Subsidiaries The Home Depot Pro
Website homedepot.com

The Home Depot, Inc. is the largest home improvement retailer in the United States, [4] supplying tools, construction products, and services. The company is headquartered at the Atlanta Store Support Center in unincorporated Cobb County, Georgia (with an Atlanta mailing address).

Contents

It operates many big-box format stores across the United States and its territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; all 10 provinces of Canada; and the 31 states and Federal District of Mexico. MRO company Interline Brands (now The Home Depot Pro) is also owned by The Home Depot, with 70 distribution centers across the United States. [5] [6]

History

1978–1999

The Home Depot was co-founded by Bernard Marcus, Arthur Blank, Ron Brill, and Pat Farrah in 1978. [7] The Home Depot's proposition was to build home-improvement superstores, larger than any of their competitors' facilities. Investment banker Ken Langone helped Marcus and Blank to secure the necessary capital.

The Home Depot Atlanta Store Support Center, 2018. Home-Depot-at-Atlanta-Store-Support-Center.jpg
The Home Depot Atlanta Store Support Center, 2018.

In 1979, the first two stores, built in spaces leased from J. C. Penney that were originally Treasure Island "hypermarket" (discount department and grocery) stores, opened in metro Atlanta (in Doraville and on Memorial Drive in Decatur, both near I-285) [9] on June 21. On September 22, 1981, The Home Depot went public on the NASDAQ and raised $4.093 million. The Home Depot joined the New York Stock Exchange on April 19, 1984. [10]

The initial public offering of Home Depot stock was September 22, 1981. [11]

The Home Depot began to branch out of Georgia to Florida in 1981 with stores opening in Hollywood and Ft. Lauderdale. By 1984 The Home Depot was operating 19 stores with sales of over $256 million. To enter the Dallas market The Home Depot acquired Bowater Home Center from Bowater Inc. on October 31, 1984, for $40 million. [12] The increased expansion of The Home Depot in the mid-1980s created financial difficulties with earnings falling at 42% and debt rising to $200 million. The financial difficulties of The Home Depot also caused the stock price to fall. To curb The Home Depot difficulties it opened only 10 stores in 1986 with a stock offering 2.99 million shares at $17 per share that helped The Home Depot to restructure its debts. [13]

The Home Depot store in Markham, Ontario, Canada. HomeDepotCanada2.jpg
The Home Depot store in Markham, Ontario, Canada.

In 1989 The Home Depot became the largest home improvement store in the United States surpassing Lowe's. In the 1990s The Home Depot searched for ways to redefine its marketplace. An installation program for quality home improvement items such as windows or carpets was launched in 1991 called the EXPO with success. A 480-page book Home Improvement 1-2-3 was published in 1995. The Canadian hardware chain Aikenhead's Hardware was acquired by The Home Depot in 1994 for $150 million with a 75% share. All of the Aikenhead's Hardware stores were later converted to The Home Depot stores. [14] By 1995, sales reached $10 billion while operating 350 stores.

Former General Electric executive Robert Nardelli became CEO and president of The Home Depot in 2000. [15]

2000–2007

San Diego maintenance and repair supplies company Maintenance Warehouse was purchased by The Home Depot in 1997 for $245 million. [16] Maintenance Warehouse was purchased because it was a leading direct-mail marketer of maintenance, repair and operations supplies that can reach customers out of reach by The Home Depot. [17] [18] Atlanta-based company Apex Supply was acquired by The Home Depot in 1999. Apex Supply is a wholesale distributor of plumbing, HVAC, industrial pipe and fittings. [19] Apex Supply and Maintenance Warehouse were rebranded in 2004 as The Home Depot Supply. [20]

In 2004, Home Depot employees at a suburban Detroit store in Harper Woods, Michigan, rejected a bid to be represented by a labor union, voting 115 to 42 against joining the United Food and Commercial Workers. If the union had won, the Michigan store would have been the first Home Depot to have union representation. [21]

Your Other Warehouse, a large plumbing distributor with a focus on special order fulfillment, was acquired by The Home Depot in 2001. Your Other Warehouse also supplied two divisions of The Home Depot and the EXPO Design Centers. [22] The EXPO Design Center division was reorganized in 2001 with three divisions based in the Northeast at South Plainfield, New Jersey, the West at Orange, California, and the Southeast at Atlanta, Georgia. [23]

The Home Depot entered the Mexican market in 2002 with the acquisition of the home improvement chain Del Norte. In addition, The Home Depot had begun construction of stores in Mexicali and Tijuana. [24] In the same year the Home Depot Landscape Supply was launched to integrate professional landscapers and upscale plants into a plant nursery retail chain. [25] Home Depot Landscape Supply lasted only five years with only a few stores each in metro Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth. The Home Depot decided to close all Home Depot Landscape Supply stores in late 2007. [26]

In September 2005, Home Depot Direct launched its online home-furnishings store, 10 Crescent Lane, shortly followed by the launch of Paces Trading Company, its online lighting store. In mid 2006, the Home Depot acquired Home Decorators Collection, which was placed as an additional brand under its Home Depot Direct division.

In 2006, the Home Depot acquired Hughes Supply the largest home retailer in the United States for $3.2 billion. [27] Hughes Supply was integrated into The Home Depot Supply to better serve business-to-business customers. [28] The Home Depot Supply rebranded under the new name HD Supply in January 2007. [29] Five months later The Home Depot sold HD Supply to a consortium of three private equity firms, The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital and Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (with each agreeing to buy a one-third stake in the division). [30]

2007–present

On January 2, 2007, the Home Depot and Robert Nardelli mutually agreed on Nardelli's resignation as CEO after a six-year tenure. Nardelli resigned amid complaints over his heavy-handed management and whether his pay package of $123.7 million (excluding stock option grants) over the previous five years was excessive, considering the stock's poor performance versus its competitor Lowe's. His severance package of $210 million was criticized because when the stock went down, his pay went up. [31] [32]

Center aisle of a Home Depot store in 2014. Home Depot, center aisle, Natick MA.jpg
Center aisle of a Home Depot store in 2014.

His successor, Frank Blake, previously served as the company's vice chairman of the board and executive vice president. Blake agreed to a much more conservative compensation package than Nardelli, that is very heavily dependent upon the success of the company. Although a longtime deputy to Nardelli at GE and Home Depot, Blake was said to lack Nardelli's hard edge and instead preferred to make decisions by consensus. Indeed, Blake repudiated many of his predecessor's strategies, and it has been reported that the two men have not spoken since Nardelli departed Home Depot. [31] [33]

In 2008 and 2009, with the downturn in the housing market, The Home Depot announced the layoff of several thousand associates, as well as the closing of 54 stores nationwide, including the entire EXPO Design Center chain. [34] Associates at EXPO were allowed to re-apply for Home Depot jobs after the layoffs, and did not lose any tenure if hired back. In the year of February 2009, sales totaled $71.288 billion, more than $20 billion down from the peak of two years earlier due to the sale of HD Supply and falling revenue at the retained business. In 2012, they proceeded to close the big-box style stores that they had in China, however smaller stores that specialized in custom products and focused on more intimate interactions between customers and associates remain open there. [35] [36]

In 2013, The Home Depot established two large distribution centers in Atlanta and Los Angeles. [37]

Interline Brands headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. InterlinebrandsJacksonville.jpg
Interline Brands headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.

In August 2014, it was announced that Frank Blake would step down as CEO and would be replaced by 57-year-old Craig Menear. The change occurred on November 1, 2014. Blake would continue with the company as chairman. Menear joined The Home Depot in 1997, and served in various management and vice-presidential positions, until 2003, including merchandising vice president of hardware, merchandising vice president of the Southwest Division, and divisional merchandise manager of the Southwest Division. He subsequently served as senior vice president of merchandising from August 2003 to April 2007. He then served as an executive vice president of merchandising from April 2007 to February 2014. Until becoming CEO, Menear served as president of U.S. Retail from February 2014 to November 1, 2014. [38]

The company had a data breach in September 2014. [39] One major reason for the data breach was the practice of entering credit card numbers directly into computers at the service-desk and pro-desk, and in specialty departments including flooring, kitchen cabinets, appliances, and millwork, rather than using POS credit card terminals directly. The practice was stopped, and Home Depot offered a year of free credit monitoring through AllClearID for any customers who requested it. There were also reports of credit card numbers being stolen when used to make purchases on Homedepot.com.

On July 22, 2015, Home Depot acquired Interline Brands from P2 Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs' private equity arm, and the management of Interline Brands for $1.6 billion. [40] Interline Brands became fully integrated with The Home Depot in August 2016 with the Interline Brands website merging with The Home Depot website. The subsidiaries of Interline Brands are now companies of The Home Depot. [41]

Finances

Finances 2005 to 2018 [42]
YearRevenue
in mil. USD$
Net Income
in mil. USD$
Price per Share
in US$
EmployeesStores
200573,0945,00129.12325,0001,890
200677,0195,83828.12345,0002,042
200779,0225,76127.10364,0002,147
200877,3494,39519.86331,0002,234
200971,2882,26020.14322,0002,233
201066,1762,66125.96317,0002,244
201167,9973,33830.95321,0002,248
201270,3953,88347.14331,0002,252
201374,7544,53566.88340,0002,256
201478,8125,38578.40365,0002,263
201583,1766,345109.03371,0002,269
201688,5197,009124.09385,0002,274
201794,5957,957151.88406,0002,278
2018100,9048,630191.34413,0002,284

As of 2018, Home Depot is ranked #23 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. [43]

Mascot

The Home Depot's mascot has been Homer D. Poe since 1981, when it was first used in advertising. Gwyn Raker, the illustrator, says, "I designed him to be a funny guy next door who wasn't intimidating." The Homer Fund, a for-associate charity, is named after the mascot, who since its creation, has been a part of Home Depot culture ever since. This includes signage, advertising, awards and even a life-size costume for stores to rent out. Homer has a wife, named Daisy. [44]

Operation

Map of Home Depot stores in the contiguous United States and Southern Canada, as of August 2011. Homedepotstoremap.png
Map of Home Depot stores in the contiguous United States and Southern Canada, as of August 2011.

Home Depot stores average 105,000 ft2 (9,755 m2) in size and are organized warehouse-style, stocking a large range of supplies. Home Depot's two largest stores are located in Vauxhall, New Jersey, which encompasses 217,000 ft2 of space, and in Anaheim Hills, California, where it encompasses 204,000 ft2. [45] The company color is a bright orange (PMS 165, CMYK 60M100Y, HEX FF6600), on signs, equipment and employee aprons. It was announced in August 2014 that Craig Menear will take over for Frank Blake as CEO while Blake will remain the chairman of the board. [46]

Marketing

The Home Depot announced the new slogan "How Doers Get More Done" on December 5, 2019, replacing the previous slogan "More saving. More doing." which was introduced in the March 18, 2009 circular, replacing "You can do it. We can help." which had been used since 2003. [47] Other slogans used in the past 25 years include "The Home Depot, Low prices are just the beginning" in the early 1990s and "When you're at the Home Depot, You'll feel right at home" in the late 1990s and "The Home Depot: First In Home Improvement!" from 1999 to 2003. [48]

US Stores division

Long-time employee Marc Powers became the head of Home Depot's US stores division in 2014. He took the place of Marvin Ellison, who left to become the chief executive of J.C. Penney. In January, 2016 Home Depot announced the departure of Powers as division head, to be replaced by another veteran employee, Ann-Marie Campbell, one of Powers' deputies. The change in leadership is effective as of February 1, 2016. Ms. Campbell has been employed by Home Depot for over 30 years, beginning as a cashier in a branch in South Florida. Her most recent role was as president of Home Depot's Southern division. [49]

Distribution centers

The Home Depot distribution center in Lake Park, Georgia. The Home Depot RDC 5085.JPG
The Home Depot distribution center in Lake Park, Georgia.

The Home Depot has over 90 distribution centers throughout the United States to serve over 2,000 The Home Depot stores. [50]

Interline Brands

Interline Brands distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida. InterlinebrandsJAX16.jpg
Interline Brands distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida.
SupplyWorks delivery truck. SupplyworksIBItruck.jpg
SupplyWorks delivery truck.

Interline Brands (renamed in 2018 as The Home Depot Pro) has over 90 distribution centers throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico that serves customer needs for MRO supplies. [51]

The brands of Interline Brands includes:

Online

The domain homedepot.com attracted at least 120 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com survey. [52] In the US HomeDepot.com has 5 Call centers located in Kennesaw, GA; Atlanta, GA; Marietta, GA; Ogden, Utah and Tempe, AZ. Home Depot online offers in-store pickup and online returns. [53]

The website is inaccessible through servers outside of the countries the brand is serving.[ citation needed ]

Exclusive brands

Thomasville Carpentry cabinets at The Home Depot. ThomasvilleCarpTHD.jpg
Thomasville Carpentry cabinets at The Home Depot.

The Home Depot exclusively carries several major brands, including: [ citation needed ]

Additionally, the retailer has its own house brands:[ citation needed ]

Fuel centers

In 2006, The Home Depot started testing fuel centers at some of its stores. The first two "Home Depot Fuel" convenience stores (C-Store) were located in Tennessee. Four additional prototype stores were built in Acworth, Georgia; Smyrna, Tennessee; Greensboro, Georgia; and Winchester, Tennessee. [54] In 2012, Home Depot VP of Corporate Communication Stephen Holmes stated that the company had no plans for additional fuel centers or growth in that area. [55]

Corporate affairs

Philanthropy

The Home Depot Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the company created in 2002. It has contributed over $200 million in time, labor, money, and supplies to a number of causes, including Habitat for Humanity, California-based City of Hope National Medical Center, and playground construction organization KaBOOM! [56] Home Depot supports the U.S. Military community with a 10% military discount. Since 1993, the "Team Depot" program has provided grants to veteran-based organizations and has workers from a local store do volunteer work that would benefit veterans. [57] [58]

The Home Depot has partnered with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency's Ready Georgia campaign, leading both supplies and facility use to this statewide effort to increase emergency preparedness among Georgia's children. [59] The company also provided ready kits and other prizes for an art and essay contest for Georgia elementary school students. [60]

In 2005, The Home Depot was among 53 entities that contributed the maximum of $250,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. [61] [62] [63]

In March 2018, the company donated $50 million to train 20,000 people as construction workers over the next decade. The Home Builders Institute will use the money to train veterans and U.S. Army soldiers, high school students and disadvantaged youth. The financial support from Home Depot was to help address the needs of the shortage of construction workers. [64] [65]

Environmental record

The Home Depot has stated on their website that they have a commitment "we continue to lead by example, demonstrating to the world that sustainability business practices are not only possible, they are good for business". [66] The Home Depot introduced a label on nearly 3,000 products in 2007. The label promotes energy conservation, sustainable forestry and clean water. Home Depot executives said that as the world's-largest buyer of construction material, their company had the power to persuade thousands of suppliers, homebuilders and consumers to follow its lead on environment sustainability. "Who in the world has a chance to have a bigger impact on this sector than Home Depot?" asked Ron Jarvis, vice president for environmental innovation at Home Depot. [67] This program is following The Home Depot's promise in the late 1990s to eliminate the number of sales of lumber from endangered forests in countries including Chile and Indonesia. [68] Home Depot has since worked with environmental groups to create a variety of green programs. For example, Home Depot planted thousands of trees at its headquarters in Atlanta to offset carbon emissions. In 2007, The Home Depot Foundation (the company's charitable foundation) committed to investing $100 million over the next decade to build over 100,000 green affordable homes and plant 3,000,000 trees.

Additionally, The Home Depot promotes compact fluorescent light bulbs in its stores. As part of this effort, the company created the largest recycling program in the United States for the bulbs. [69] In March 2013, Home Depot locations in Canada stopped accepting compact fluorescent light bulbs for recycling. [70]

Major sponsorships

The Home Depot car driven by Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 Tony Stewart 2008 Home Depot Toyota Camry.jpg
The Home Depot car driven by Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008

Television

In 2002, The Home Depot joined PBS as a sponsor of This Old House and Ask This Old House .

In 2003, The Home Depot became a sponsor for Trading Spaces .

Sports

Company co-founder Arthur Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons franchise of the National Football League in February 2002; Blank later acquired an expansion franchise in Major League Soccer, Atlanta United FC, in April 2014 with the soccer club beginning play in March 2017. The Home Depot made no formal association with the Falcons until April 2017, when The Home Depot acquired the naming rights to the 11-acre (44,520 m2) park adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Home Depot Backyard occupies the site of the former Georgia Dome, and serves as parking and tailgating space during Falcons' and Atlanta United FC home games and public use greenspace during non-event days. The park opened on September 11, 2018. [71] [72]

From 2003-2013 Dignity Health Sports Park was known as The Home Depot Center. Home Depot Center entrance.jpg
From 2003–2013 Dignity Health Sports Park was known as The Home Depot Center.

Since 1991, the company has become a large supporter of athletics, sponsoring the United States and Canadian Olympic teams, and launching a program which offered employment to athletes that accommodates their training and competition schedules. The Home Depot ceased to be a sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team in 2005 and ended a sponsorship program for the United States Olympic team in 2009. [73]

The Home Depot has been a major sponsor for Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR since 1999. Their arrival into the series coincided with Tony Stewart leaving the Indy Racing League to join what is now the Monster Energy Cup Series. Stewart drove The Home Depot-sponsored #20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing until 2008, winning 2 of his 3 series championships in the car, and was succeeded by Joey Logano, who took the car to victory lane twice. After Matt Kenseth joined the team, The Home Depot's status as the #20's primary sponsor was taken over by Dollar General, but the company still served as its most frequent secondary sponsor through its Husky Tools division. On June 23, 2014, the company announced it would end its NASCAR sponsorship after 2014. [74]

ESPN College GameDay has been sponsored by The Home Depot since 2007. 2009-0912-GameDay-FowlerHoward.jpg
ESPN College GameDay has been sponsored by The Home Depot since 2007.

The Home Depot was the title sponsor of The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, home to the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer; the venue was formerly the home of Chivas USA of MLS, which folded in 2014, and the Los Angeles Riptide of Major League Lacrosse, which folded in 2008. The venue is now called Dignity Health Sports Park.

In 2006, The Home Depot partnered with Duke University's Edmund T. Pratt Jr. School of Engineering to create "The Home Depot Smart Home". The smart home is a live-in laboratory for ten upper-class engineering students that allows them to immerse themselves in the work. The goal of the project is to help provide innovative solutions for the home in areas such as security and home monitoring, communications, energy efficiency, entertainment, environment and health. [75]

In January 2007, The Home Depot became the official home improvement sponsor of ESPN's College Gameday. [76]

Politics

Seventy-three percent of The Home Depot's campaign contributions went to Republican candidates in the 2005–2006 US elections. "Home Depot's PAC gives money based on a candidate's voting record, committee assignment and leadership position," said company spokesman Jerry Shields. [77] The CEO in this period was Bob Nardelli, a friend of U.S. President George W. Bush. [78] Nardelli hosted a garden reception/fundraiser for Bush at his Atlanta home on May 20, 2004. [79]

Outside the US

The Home Depot in Waterloo, Ontario, provides horse and buggy parking for customers from the nearby Mennonite community Home Depot - Waterloo, Ontario.jpg
The Home Depot in Waterloo, Ontario, provides horse and buggy parking for customers from the nearby Mennonite community

Canada

Home Depot Canada is the Canadian unit of the Home Depot and one of Canada's top home improvement retailers. The Canadian operation consists of 182 stores and employs over 28,000 people in Canada. Home Depot Canada has stores in all ten Canadian provinces and serves territorial Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon through electronic means (Online Sales). The Canadian head office is located in Toronto.

The Canadian unit was created with the purchase of Aikenhead's Hardware. Home Depot management had an ambitious plan to overtake its biggest competitor, RONA, which has about four times as many stores. However, some of RONA's stores are smaller than the typical Home Depot store. In terms of big box stores, the Home Depot has more stores than RONA (not including other Rona banners such as Réno-Dépôt or Cashway). As of 2007, RONA pulled ahead of The Home Depot in total retail sales, due to aggressive consolidation efforts by RONA, combined with the loss of The Home Depot's industrial supply division, HD Supply, in July 2007. The Home Depot now faces competition from Lowe's as they have moved into the Canadian market effective the end of 2007; Lowe's now has 35 outlets in Canada. In 2016, RONA was purchased by Lowes increasing its total store count to over 500 units.

In Quebec, where it has 22 stores, The Home Depot is branded simply Home Depot (using English words but without the definite article "The").

Mexico

The Home Depot store in Mexico City, Mexico. Homedepot mxcentro.JPG
The Home Depot store in Mexico City, Mexico.

The Home Depot operates 120 stores and has become one of the largest retailers in Mexico since it entered the market in 2001. The Home Depot increased its presence in Mexico in 2004, with the acquisition of Home Mart, the second largest Mexican home improvement retailer. [80]

The Home Depot Mexico employs more than 15,000 associates throughout the country and as of the end of 2016, it had a record of 50 consecutive quarters with posted growth. [80]

China

In December 2006, the Home Depot announced its acquisition of the Chinese home improvement retailer The Home Way. [81] The acquisition gave the Home Depot an immediate presence in China, with 12 stores in six cities.

In April 2011, Home Depot shut its last Beijing store, the fifth Home Depot to close in China in the previous two years. In September 2012, The Home Depot announced it was closing all big box stores in China. The Home Depot retained two specialty stores in China, a Home Decorators Collection Store and a paint and flooring store. [82]

As of September 16, 2012, all seven of the box stores in China had been shut down. [83] The Home Depot has no immediate plans to further expand its specialty stores in China. The company is taking a "wait-and-see" attitude towards the Chinese market, but does not want to completely pull out because re-entry into the market would be very costly.

The Home Depot's lack of success in China has been attributed to the disconnect between The Home Depot's do-it-yourself ethos and Chinese culture. In 2012, the Home Depot conceded that it misread the country's appetite for do-it-yourself products. As a spokeswoman for the company said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, "The market trend says this is more of a do-it-for-me culture". [82] Some have speculated that The Home Depot could have offered a do-it-for-me model to Chinese consumers. Chinese consumers prefer to see a finished product, such as a renovated room, rather than light bulbs and lumber. [84] The same issue does not exist outside of China, especially in Canada, where Chinese Home Depot advertisements and store signage can be found in areas with large Chinese demographics.

United Kingdom

There were reports that The Home Depot was interested in acquiring B&Q, the largest DIY retailer in the United Kingdom, Ireland and China. Speculation of a takeover began in 1999 when the retailer Asda was purchased by Walmart. The Home Depot would have to acquire Kingfisher plc, B&Q's parent company, to acquire B&Q. Kingfisher consists of several European DIY chains; however, the Home Depot was only interested in B&Q operations and says that it would dispose of the Castorama chain which operates in France, Italy, Poland and Russia. Talks ending in 2005 did not result in any takeover deal. [85] [86] [87] [88]

South America

In 1997, Home Depot entered the Chilean and Argentine markets. While the venture was viewed with great optimism by founders Bernard Marcus and Arthur Blank, [89] it eventually proved unprofitable. In October 2001, Chilean partners Falabella bought out Home Depot's share of the five Chilean Home Center stores and rebranded them Home Store. In 2003, after merging with Sodimac, all stores adopted that brand. The company has since expanded across Latin America very profitably and successfully. It's currently the N°1 Home Improvement company in South America. In 2002, Argentina's Home Depots were bought out by Chilean company Cencosud and rebranded Easy stores, a company that has also expanded across South America. It's currently the N°2 Home Improvement company in South America.

Controversy

Whistleblower case

The Home Depot was embroiled in whistleblower litigation brought under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) law. In July 2005, former employee Michael Davis, represented by attorney Mark D. Schwartz filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Home Depot, alleging that his discharge was in retaliation for refusing to make unwarranted backcharges against vendors. Davis alleges that the Home Depot forced its employees to meet a set quota of backcharges to cover damaged or defective merchandise, forcing employees to make chargebacks to vendors for merchandise that was undamaged and not defective. The Home Depot alleges that it fired Davis for repeatedly failing to show up for work.

The trial initially was concluded in June 2006, but in April 2007, U.S. Department of Labor Judge Pamela Lakes Wood ordered the case reopened after the Home Depot's law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld revealed that the retail giant's in-house counsel had told them that two Home Depot employees who testified at the trial had lied. Akin Gump sent Wood a letter on September 29, 2006, in which the law firm requested that the testimony be stricken. In response to Akin Gump's revelation, Davis' attorney Mark D. Schwartz asked for the case to be reopened to permit further questioning of the witnesses. On April 6, 2007, Wood ordered the case to be reopened.

Schwartz was quoted by the New York Post as saying, "I have reason to believe these witnesses were intimidated into giving false testimony." The Home Depot called Schwartz's allegations "meritless". [90]

Home Depot has settled the dispute in a stipulation of settlement dated March 28, 2008. In the settlement, Home Depot changed some of its corporate governance provisions. Home Depot also agreed to pay the plaintiff's counsel $6 million in cash and $8.5 million in common stock. [91]

Patent law controversy

Powell v. Home Depot USA, Inc. (2008cv61862) (2011) was a decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida concerning patent infringement on a "safe hands" device that Michael Powell, an independent contractor for Home Depot, created in response to injuries to the hands of associates using in-store radial arm saws. The district court jury returned a verdict in favor of Powell.

In 2011, Home Depot appealed against the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, challenging the district court's denial of its renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issues of infringement, willfulness, and damages. [92] [93] They also challenged the district court's claim construction, inequitable conduct, and attorney fees determinations. The appellate court found no inequitable conduct and insufficiently egregious misconduct on the part of Powell's attorney. [94]

Tilt-up construction design of stores

In the wake of the 2011 Joplin tornado in which the walls of a Home Depot collapsed after being hit by an EF5 tornado, The Kansas City Star , citing engineers, criticized Home Depot's practice of using tilt-up construction in hundreds of its big-box stores (other nearby big-box stores in Joplin, including a Walmart and Academy Sports, which had concrete block construction, lost their roofs but the walls remained intact). In tilt-up construction the concrete is poured onsite, lifted into place, and then attached to the roof. The engineers told the Star that the practice, while normally safe and efficient, is dangerous in major storms because once the roof is lifted (as happened in Joplin) the walls collapse in a domino effect. Seven people were killed in the front of the store when the 100,000-pound walls collapsed on them, while 28 people in the back of the store survived when those walls collapsed outward. Only two of the slab walls in the Home Depot survived. In contrast, 3 people died in the Walmart but 200 survived. Engineers noted that when concrete block construction fails, structural elements break in pieces and usually not in huge slabs. Home Depot said it fundamentally disagreed with the engineers quoted by the Star and said it would use tilt-up construction when it rebuilds the Joplin store. [95]

Payment-system breach

Self-checkout system HomeDepotPinOakHoustonselfcheckout.jpg
Self-checkout system

On September 2, 2014, security news reporter Brian Krebs reported that he was seeing evidence of credit card numbers linked to Home Depot purchases being sold online, which he concluded to suggest that The Home Depot's payment systems were breached by hackers. [96] On September 8, 2014, Home Depot confirmed that their payment systems were compromised. [97] According to their press release, this breach affected any customers who made purchases at any Home Depot store from April 2014 to September 2014. Home Depot offered their affected customers free one-year credit monitoring service from AllClear ID. Also in their press release, they made sure to emphasize that there was no evidence to suggest that online customers were affected by the breach. On September 18, 2014, Home Depot released a statement saying that the hackers obtained a total of 56 million credit card numbers as a result of the breach. Since the breach, Home Depot has rolled out new encryption technology for their cash registers and self-checkout systems to protect customers. A class action lawsuit was filed against the company.

In March 2016 Home Depot agreed to pay at least $19.5 million to compensate the more than 50 million consumers affected. The settlement terms included a $13 million fund to reimburse shoppers and a $6.5 million fund for cardholder identity protection services. [98]

EEOC disability discrimination suit

In September 2012, Home Depot agreed to pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit [99] filed by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, for the alleged failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for a cashier with cancer at its Towson, Maryland, store and then for purportedly firing her because of her condition. [100]

See also

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