New York, NY - Home Depot Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said today that his company is going after the Professional market in a bigger way. He made his remarks at the Goldman Sachs 22nd Annual Global Conference this morning, September 10th. Menear noted that the Home Depot is known among professional contractors and home builders as "a great 7-11 for fill in."

While keeping its strong business with the consumer, Home Depot wants the company to be even more important for the professional, a significant business to its Pro Division - which actively competes with its arch rival, Lowe's for Pros; and with regional firms like 84 Lumber and Menard's. 

Menear said that customer service is Home Depot's strength, but outside selling isn't. The company hopes its acquisition of Interline Brands, announced in July, will help it "to act in that [professional] space." Interline offers facilities maintenance in addition to repair services and products to commercial and home customers through their brands: SupplyWorks, HardwareExpress and Barnett.

Home Depot estimates it holds a 5% market share among professionals; its goal is 50%. To accomplish this, Menear pointed to a new delivery management program, which is being test-marketed in about 60 locations nationwide. Menear admitted that progress in the program "is going slowly, but we want to get that service right before we roll it out."

 

Housing market "trending better"this year

Turning to the broader homebuilding market, Menear and his team of executives believe the housing market is trending better now than they had estimated it would be at the start of the year. Given that 2006 was the peak of the housing market, they believe the Home Depot has still not recovered $2.8 billion of the sales it lost when the housing market crashed, and they see that number as an opportunity today. The push for more business from their Pro Division is one area that they believe can contribute to accomplishing this goal.

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