What's next for Lowe's?
Lowe's Companies has announced a succession plan for its CEO that raises more questions than answers.
The company announced Monday that Robert A. Niblock plans to retire as chairman, president and CEO after a 25-year career with the company. But the retailer gave no specifics or timetable for the transition. Executives who could be next in line for the top job are current CFO Marshall A. Croom, 56, and COO Richard D. Maltsbarger, 41.
The board of directors said it has initiated a search for Niblock's successor, and in the interim he will remain in his current role as chairman, president and CEO.
"After a 25-year career at Lowe's, including 13 years as chairman and CEO, I am confident that it is the right time to transition the company to its next generation of leadership," Niblock said. "Serving Lowe's alongside our over 310,000 outstanding employees has been my great privilege and the highlight of my professional career. I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished to position Lowe's as the omni-channel project authority. As we transition to the next chapter, I have great confidence in the strength of our team and the opportunity ahead for Lowe's. I look forward to assisting the board with its search, and I am committed to supporting a seamless transition for all of our stakeholders."
Lowe's has increasingly lagged behind its biggest rival, Home Depot. In the most recent quarter, same-store sales climbed a little more than 4% at Lowe's, while Home Depot reported an increase of 7.5%.
In January, activist investor D.E. Shaw & Co. built a stake in Lowe's, saying the firm was concerned about the retailer's performance relative to competitors.
The North Carolina-based retailer has since appointed new board members following talks with Shaw.
"On behalf of our entire board and team here at Lowe's, I want to thank Robert for his leadership, commitment and countless contributions to our company over the course of his distinguished 25-year Lowe's career. Under his guidance and stewardship, Lowe's has built a strong foundation for growth and today the company is well positioned as a leader in home improvement with the right strategy in place to drive innovation, accelerate sales growth and enhance profitability. The board is committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive search to identify the best candidate to serve as our next CEO. We wish Robert all the best in his retirement and look forward to his continued involvement with Lowe's during this leadership transition," said Marshall O. Larsen, lead director of the board.
Lowe's Companies has more than 2,390 home improvement and hardware stores.