Home Depot Inc. has shuttered its last seven big-box stores in China, cutting 850 jobs in a move some analysts said showed how badly it miscalculated the do-it-yourself ethos in one of the world’s largest construction markets.
The Atlanta-based home improvement retailer has struggled since it entered China six years ago by acquiring Tianjin-based The Home Way, which operated 12 stores across six large cities. Five of the stores had previously been closed.
Home Depot’s China operations will now focus on specialty stores, including one selling flooring and paint and another tailored to home decorators. Both are located in Tianjin, a major port city near Beijing.
As part of retooling its strategy to better meet the preferences of Chinese consumers, the company is also in talks with Chinese e-commerce websites, according to a Sept. 13 news release.
“We’ve learned a great deal over the last six years in China, and our new approach leverages that experience and reflects our continuing interest in providing value to Chinese customers, as well as our shareholders,” Home Depot chairman and CEO Frank Blake said in a statement.
China was Home Depot’s only major market outside North America. The company has 2,000 stores in the United States, 180 in Canada and 92 in Mexico, according to reports.
The company will maintain its sourcing offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen, which employ 170 people.