Home Depot’s long-awaited entry into China became official Aug. 26 with grand opening festivities at rebranded stores in six locations. The former Home Way units, purchased in December 2006, were remodeled and remerchandised, according to the Atlanta-based retailer. Sales associates also received additional training over the past eight months.
Altogether, Home Depot will operate 12 stores in six cities: Tianjin, Beijing, Xi’an, Qingdao, Shenyang and Zhengzhou.
Annette Verschuren, president of Home Depot Asia and Canada, presided over inaugural ceremonies in Beijing. Also on hand was Yves Chen, president of Home Depot China.
“The introduction of Eco Options and premium Kohler products into China are the beginnings of our promise to bring Chinese consumers the best international brands at competitive prices to provide total solutions for their home decoration needs,” said Chen, in a prepared statement.
Home Depot’s Chinese venture has been a long time in the making. Back in 2004, the company officially formed a business development operation based in China. At the time, the company saw a huge potential in the population of 2 billion potential customers, a growing economy and relatively few large-format home improvement players.
Little has changed in the big picture. But the Home Depot stores have seen several changes in recent months, including interior and exterior renovations at all 12 new stores. In May, Home Depot launched the Eco Options program in China—bringing 300 environmentally friendly products to the stores.
Merchandising adjustments include the introduction of a paint Color Center, including a Colour Matching system; and water treatment centers in each store, allowing customers to test water purification systems.