Lowe's to build superstore in Glen Burnie Company scouts area for additional sites

Home improvement

January 23, 1998|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Home Depot Inc., the dominant home improvement retailer in the Baltimore region, is about to get some competition from bTC North Carolina-based Lowe's Companies Inc.

Lowe's will build a 150,000-square-foot superstore in Glen Burnie in June. The chain, which got its start in small communities and has expanded into new and bigger markets, is scouting sites for additional stores.

"It looks like Baltimore is a good area for the home improvement industry," said Clarissa Felts, a Lowe's spokeswoman, who said the chain has launched its broadest expansion in its 51-year-history. "We hope to have additional stores in the Baltimore area, but at this point, we have no further stores to disclose."

Lowe's, which has 11 stores in Maryland, began nearly a decade ago converting the average 65,000-square-foot store to a larger format. About five years ago, the chain turned to new markets, which also helped make it a contender in the competitive business, analysts said.

"They have a new strategy to go into major markets and emphasize larger stores, which are proving to be significantly more profitable for them," said Bruce E. Thorp, an analyst with PNC Bank in Philadelphia. "They're going head to head with Home Depot, which has been in the major markets.

"They're not afraid of heavy competition, and their stores are doing quite well against Home Depot. It's a good, growing field for well-run stores. There's a big enough market for both of them -- the people getting hurt are small, independent hardware stores."

Competition from Lowe's, the second-largest home improvement chain in the United States, doesn't worry Home Depot, said Jerry Shields, a spokesman for the Atlanta home improvement chain, the nation's largest.

"We thrive on it. We love it," Shields said. "Obviously, the ultimate beneficiaries are the customers. You're going to have two stores where each is vying for customer attention. We think because of the service level and knowledge, we will prevail."

Since opening its first Baltimore-market store in 1991, Home Depot has gone head to head with Hechinger, the 86-year-old Landover-based hardware chain that was sold last year to Leonard Green & Partners LP, a private investment firm. Analysts speculate that weaker stores may close this year.

Lowe's Glen Burnie store, a $15 million project to be built at the former site of Sears at Governor Ritchie Highway and Ordinance Road, will be complete by the end of the year and employ 175 to 200, Felts said.

Lowe's, with stores in 25 states and sales of $8.6 billion last year, has local stores primarily in Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore and Prince George's County.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.