Lowe's Canada retail network hurt by COVID-19 pandemic during first quarter

Lowe's Canadian operations, which include the Rona and Reno-Dept banners, continued to underperform those of the American network during the first quarter, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt.

Chief executive Marvin Ellison told analysts Wednesday that Canadian same-store sales -- a key retail metric -- were negative during the three-month period ended May 1. The extent of the decline wasn't quantified.

Meanwhile, in the United States sales for stores open at least a year jumped 12.3 per cent due to strong demand for cleaning products, appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, and home improvement materials.

Ellison attributed the Canadian network's performance to store closings and reduced hours ordered by governments to curb the spread of COVID-19.

After recording US$230 million in restructuring charges in fiscal 2019 as part of its efforts to turn around Lowe's Canada, the North Carolina-based company recorded a pre-tax amount of US$9 million in the most recent quarter linked in particular to severance pay.

Overall, the U.S. retailer's net profit increased 27.6 per cent to US$1.34 billion from a year ago. Sales climbed 11.3 per cent to US$19.7 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020.

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