Kick-starting 2012 with a big announcement is Lowe’s Companies Inc. , which has acquired ATG Stores, a leading online retailer of home improvement and lifestyle products – including lighting products through Lighting Universe – based in Kirkland, Washington.
The acquisition allows Lowe’s and ATG Stores to capitalize on complementary strengths and their employees’ extensive expertise by sharing best practices for online marketing and merchandising. By utilizing ATG Stores’ broad assortment of products and its strong online retailing operation, Lowe’s aims to deliver a better customer experience.
“The addition of ATG Stores is a strategic fit, providing more opportunities for Lowe’s to be a relevant partner at every stage of the home improvement process and deliver better customer experiences from inspiration to planning to enjoyment,” says Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president, and CEO. “ATG Stores is an extension of Lowe’s commitment to providing consumers with flexibility, simplicity, and value whenever and wherever they choose to shop.”
ATG Stores will remain an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. The two organizations will maintain separate branding and independent assortment planning and merchandising. All ATG jobs will remain in Kirkland, and no jobs will be lost as a result of the acquisition.
“Lowe’s commitment to consumers, innovation, and long-term strategy, combined with our unique online product offering, presents a long-term opportunity for ATG Stores and Lowe’s to grow in the multichannel space,” adds Gary Rubens, CEO of ATG Stores.
As of last month, Lighting Universe has closed all of its seven stores in the Pacific Northwest. The company is now solely an online retailer. “Lowe’s is a great partner and I’m really excited to be working with them,” Rubens states. “They’re allowing us to do what we do best. The [alliance] allows us to learn new disciplines and technologies. In turn, Lowe’s is open to learning from us about Internet [retailing].”
According to Rubens, Lowe’s and Lighting Universe will be kept separate for the most part. “We don’t see any moderate changes at this time,” he comments. “Lowe’s is investing heavily in technology and sees us aligned with their goals. Lowe’s is not mandating that we do anything differently.”
With this new synergy, both companies will be able to share their resources. “There will probably be brands that will want to spread their wings,” Rubens notes of the possible opportunities between the two companies. “Lowe’s provides its customers with an endless aisle of products,” he says. If consumers do not find what they’re looking for in a Lowe’s retail store, they can enjoy greater access to brands online through the Web site and, potentially, this new partnership.
“There are no plans to expand Lowe’s in-store selection of lighting right now,” Rubens affirms. “They already have a Special Order program and there could be additional opportunities there in the future.” At this point, there are no plans to share consumer credit card programs or installation services.
“I don’t think Lighting Universe customers will notice any differences in the upcoming weeks or months,” Rubens remarks. “Any changes will be slow. We’re going to be methodical to make sure any changes will be positive for the consumer. We feel that Lowe’s is a great fit.”
With fiscal year 2010 sales of $48.8 billion, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is a FORTUNE 50 company that serves approximately 15 million customers a week at more than 1,725 home improvement stores in the U.S. , Canada, and Mexico.
ATG was founded in 1999 with the launch of its first Web site: LightingUniverse.com. Since then, ATG has grown to more than 500 Web sites, featuring 18 growing category divisions, offering 3.5 million products from more than 3,300 name brand manufacturers.