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Lowe's to lay off 1,950 workers and close 20 stores

October 17, 2011 |  9:37 am

Lowe'sLowe’s, the world’s second-largest home-improvement chain, will lay off 1,950 workers and close 20 stores in 15 states, the company said Monday.

Two of the locations on the chopping block are in California -- in Westminster and in Los Banos in central California. Lowe’s said that it closed 10 stores on Sunday and will phase out the rest in a month. 

Last month, the Mooresville, N.C.-based company said that its second-quarter performance had fallen short of expectations, even with the boost provided by seasonal sales. The downsizing, executives said, would help Lowe’s focus on more profitable locations.

The chain still has more than 1,700 branches around the continent. 

Lowe's also plans to slow its rate of store openings by roughly half, canning several planned new projects and aiming to launch 15 or fewer locations in North America each year, down from the expected 30 openings.  

"Closing stores is never easy, given the impact on hard-working employees and local communities," said chief executive Robert A. Niblock in a statement. "However, we have an obligation to make tough decisions when necessary to improve profitability and strengthen our financial position.”

The Home Depot, Lowe’s’ main competitor, reported a 16% jump in earnings to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, from $1.2 billion a year earlier, driven by a rebound in seasonal business and Hurricane Irene-related repairs.

Over the same quarter, Lowe’s earnings remained flat at $830 million. 

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-- Tiffany Hsu

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