Lowe’s closing Connecticut store among 20 in U.S.

Photo of Alexander Soule

Lowe’s is closing a home improvement store in Orange among 20 in the United States and more than 30 in Canada, with the company citing poor profits at those locations.

Lowe’s built the store in 1998 on 15 acres at 48 Boston Post Road at a cost of $8.5 million, according to records on file with Orange, with the town last appraising the 130,000-square-foot property at $11.6 million. It is one of 17 locations in Connecticut, including stores in Danbury, Norwalk, New Haven, Milford, Derby, Newington and Torrington.

Lowe’s plans to complete the closures by February, and stated it would offer employees the chance to take similar jobs at nearby locations. Elsewhere in the Northeast, Lowe’s is closing two New York City home improvement stores on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Chelsea; and one in Quincy, Mass.

Lowe’s is scheduled to release results on Nov. 20 for its third fiscal quarter. Lowe’s profits were up 7 percent in the second quarter to $1.5 billion, with sales up by a similar margin to $20.9 billion.

In August, new CEO Marvin Ellison told investment analysts that he has spent the first several months on the job visiting stores and employees throughout North America, crediting them with producing results “despite some of the disadvantages we’ve created for ourselves,” in Ellison’s words.

“We need to generate more sales per square foot productivity in our stores,” Ellison said in August. “We’re going to no longer throw payroll at problems — the past when we had what we deemed conversion issues in the stores, we indiscriminately just added payroll to try to solve it without really identifying the root cause, and that is not how you run a business this size. Instead, we’re going to be more prudent on getting to root cause, redefining process, and not just thinking every solution is a solution we just throw more headcount at it, because that’s not sustainable.”

Lowe’s has separately been shutting down its Orchard Supply chain of stores in Florida, California and Oregon.

In 2011, the company closed a Meriden location that employed 90 people at the time. In the past year, other big box retailers to announce area closures include Sears, Kmart and Toys R Us.

“One of the lessons that is not lost on large retailers is the lesson of the bankruptcy of Sears,” said Fred McKinney, a Quinnipiac University professor who leads entrepreneurship studies at the Hamden school. “Many analysts believe that Sears waited too long to close stores and move more sales (online).”

Luther Turmelle and Michael DeSalvo contributed to this report. Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman