Lowe's, Woolworth form Australian joint venture

Mooresville, N.C. Lowe's Cos. said late Monday it is forming a joint venture with Australia's largest retailer, Woolworths, to develop home-improvement stores.

Under terms of the deal, Lowe's will own one-third of the new Australia chain, slated to open late in the 2011 fiscal year.

The retail tandem plans to open more than 150 stores over five years. Woolworths has secured entitlement to 12 sites. It is in final negotiations to secure 15 more sites for development.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to enter the A$24 billion ($20 billion USD) and growing home-improvement market in Australia, at a time when the sector is underserved," explained Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's chairman and CEO, in a statement.

The locations will be large-format stores, greater than 100,000 sq. ft., and will offer products and services for both the do-it-yourself homeowner and the trade customer. In addition, the joint venture has made a recommended takeover offer for Danks Holdings, Australia's second-largest hardware distributor.

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