Home Depot
entering isle market

The chain's first Hawaii store
will be in Iwilei, near the Dole Cannery

By Rick Daysog

Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement retailer, plans to open a 136,000-square-foot store near Dole Cannery in Iwilei.

Atlanta-based Home Depot today said it signed a letter of intent with landowner Castle & Cooke Properties Inc. to lease an 8-acre site on Ala Kawa Street near Nimitz Highway.

The store, Home Depot's first in Hawaii, will likely open in early 1999 and will employ about 200 workers, the company said.

Home Depot declined to disclose the construction costs. But a company spokeswoman said the outlet will stock between 50,000 and 60,000 retail items, including garden supplies, paints, tools, furniture, carpeting and lumber.

Home Depot's entry will bring new competition to the local home improvement market, dominated by 98-year-old City Mill Co., which operates seven hardware stores on Oahu, and Eagle Hardware & Garden, which opened a 160,000-square-foot outlet at Waikele Center in 1993.

Marketing consultant Marty Plotnick said Home Depot could boost business at the nearby Dole Cannery by enticing new tenants and attracting new customers to the struggling retail complex.

But Plotnick, president of Creative Resources Inc., added that Home Depot will take sales away from City Mill and small hardware stores in Honolulu's urban core. City Mill operates its largest store, a 60,000-square-foot outlet, nearby on Nimitz Highway.

"I don't know if the market is big enough," said Plotnick.

Steven Ai, City Mill's chief executive officer, said the Home Depot store will take business from his company. But he noted that Home Depot also will hurt sales of traditional retailers like J.C. Penney and Sears as well.

"Being local and being around for 98 years doesn't guarantee success," Ai said. "We have to work as hard if not harder than the competitors."

For Home Depot, the Hawaii store is part of an aggressive expansion strategy. The company, which reported revenues of $19.5 billion last year, operates 516 stores in 40 states and Canada. Home Depot said it hopes to nearly double its stores to about 1,000 by the year 2000.

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