A perennial laggard to larger rival Home Depot, do-it-yourself retailer Lowe’s turnaround finally started to take hold last year. Under its new CEO since July, former J.C. Penney chief Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s has closed dozens of underperforming stores, including a big chunk of its Canadian locations, improved on out-of-stocks, added brands like Craftsman tools, gussied up stores, and done a better job of wooing the professional contractor market that tends to flock to Home Depot. The result has been accelerating sales gains in recent quarters, setting it up to better face the challenges coming from a housing market that is starting to cool off.
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