Lowe's Cos. plans to promote kitchen remodels to drive sales of higher-end refrigerators and ovens as competition heats up among appliance retailers, according to a store executive.
"Kitchen projects is going to be a way that you're going to see Lowe's market itself through 2004 and 2005," Bruce Ballard, Lowe's merchandising vice president for Appliances, told Reuters.
Lowe's is the second-largest U.S. seller of appliances behind Sears, Roebuck. It and rival Home Depot have cut into Sears' dominant market share over the past 2 years, as they added stores in off-mall locations.
The goal of Lowe's new appliance strategy is to sell more higher-priced appliances such as Maytag Corp.'s Jenn-Air and Whirlpool Corp.'s KitchenAid. While Lowe's overall appliance market share stands at more than 14 percent, its share of premium appliances is only about 7 percent, Mr. Ballard said.
Stores will feature more kitchen ensembles with cabinets and appliances. "We're going to have promotions built around bundled kitchen projects, whether it's credit, delivery or installed services," Mr. Ballard said.
Lowe's is also adding technology that will let consumers compare different appliances as well as configure kitchens with various cabinet styles and appliance colors. Worker training in appliances is also being expanded, Mr. Ballard said.
"We think we'll do 125,000 kitchen renovations as a company this year, and we believe 75 to 80 percent of those will involve appliance purchases," he said.
Mr. Ballard said Lowe's advantages over Home Depot and other big retailers include a larger selection of appliance brands and a delivery program that lets consumers take appliances home on the same day of purchase.
He also said Lowe's was promoting its appliance warranty coverage, noting that the company sells maintenance agreements for less than $100.
"Retailers now are really having to jockey their business models to accommodate the increasing complexity of selling," Mr. Ballard said. (Reuters)
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