A big change is coming to the Lowe’s Cos. leadership team—longtime chairman, president and CEO Robert A. Niblock plans to retire.
Today, the 25-year veteran of the big-box company announced his retirement, according to a press release from Lowe’s. The board of directors has begun the search for his successor, and Niblock will remain in his role as chairman, president and CEO until the new leader is named.
“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 says in the company statement. “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 omnichannel project authority.”
Niblock’s announcement to step down comes as “activist investor D.E. Shaw & Co. has pushed Lowe’s to close the gap with Home Depot,” according to Bloomberg. The article goes on to say that although sales at Lowe’s have risen, it continues to trail its main competitor, Home Depot, partly because Lowe’s has fewer stores in lucrative areas than Home Depot does.
In January, Lowe’s said it would appoint three new directors to its board after D.E. Shaw took an active stake in the company worth about $1 billion, according to a Bloomberg article at the time.
The article states that D.E. Shaw believes Lowe’s is not performing against Home Depot as well as it should. The investor believes Lowe’s could “triple its value if it were to focus on improving sales, including its online offerings and marketing,” according to the article.
Lowe’s store count almost doubled to 2,152 over the course of Niblock’s tenure as CEO.
“To replace him, Lowe’s is likely to look outside the company,” David Schick, director of research for Consumer Edge Research says to Bloomberg. “A ‘fresh set of eyes’ would be good in an industry that’s been upended by online shopping.”