Lowe’s store closures in Irvine, Aliso Viejo to impact nearly 250 employees

November 15, 2018

By Kevin Smith | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Nearly 250 employees will be displaced when Lowe’s Cos. shutters its stores in Irvine and Aliso Viejo in February, but the company plans to transfer as many as possible to other Lowe’s locations nearby.

The two stores are among 51 underperforming locations the company is closing as part of a strategic realignment to strengthen its business. That includes 20 U.S. stores and 31 locations in Canada. Most of the stores will close by Feb. 1, although select locations will shut down immediately, Lowe’s officials said.

“We believe our people are the foundation of our business and essential to our future growth, and we are making every effort to transition impacted associates to nearby Lowe’s stores,” company President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison said in a statement issued last week.

The breakdown

A total of 248 employees will be affected by the Orange County closures, including 112 at the Irvine store (13300 Jamboree Road), and 136 in Aliso Viejo (26501 Aliso Creek Road). Both stores are about 120,000 square feet. Two additional Lowe’s home improvement centers in San Francisco and San Jose also will be closing.

Lowe’s spokesman Steve Salazar said all of the employees at the two Orange County stores have been offered positions at nearby Lowe’s locations, and nearly all of them will be making the move.

A store liquidation process began Nov. 9 and is expected to last nine to 12 weeks.

“Stores may be open for a shorter or longer period, depending on how quickly they sell through inventory,” he said. “We expect the closing process to be complete by the end of January.”

Fewer places to shop

The closures will leave local contractors, construction firms and do-it-yourselfers with fewer places to buy building supplies and equipment.

“We’re sorry to hear the Irvine store is closing,” said Tarick Fouz, a designer with Revision Renovation in Irvine, which specializes in kitchen remodels. “I know competition has been an issue for them.”

The company buys bathroom and kitchen vanities from Lowes, as well as lumber, door handles, hinges, power tools and other supplies. But it’s not the only game in town.

“We also buy materials from a bunch of smaller places in Anaheim that sometimes have better prices,” Fouz said. “And many times we’ll get our lumber from a local lumberyard because they’ll have better prices, too.”

OSH closures

The latest round of closures comes just two months after the Lowe’s-owned Orchard Supply Hardware chain announced it would be closing all of its stores. That includes 99 OSH locations in California, Oregon and Florida and the loss of around 4,000 jobs.

Lowe’s and its related businesses operate or service more than 2,390 home improvement and hardware stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico and the company employs over 310,000 people. Lowe’s posted fiscal-year 2017 sales of $68.6 billion.

The Home Depot, by comparison, has more than 400,000 employees and 2,286 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. More importantly, it logged $100.9 billion sales for fiscal 2017.

Home Depot is leading

In a recent interview with Retail Dive, Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said Home Depot is more often than not “the destination of choice, with rival Lowe’s coming in a distant second.”

Burt Flickinger III, managing director for the retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group, agreed.

“Lowe’s was leading 10 years ago and they were mocking Home Depot … they thought they had the world wrapped up,” he said. “But they became complacent about it and during that period Home Depot worked to create distinctive radio and TV spots and had a turnaround.”

The Lowe’s closures come as an increasing number of homeowners are looking to fix up their properties. A survey earlier this year from LightStream revealed that 58 percent of homeowners were looking to boost their budgets for home improvement projects this year, with 45 percent planning to spend at least $5,000. The number of homeowners planning to spend more than $35,000 also doubled from 2017.