The head of Lowe’s Canada has retired about four years after he guided the U.S. home renovation retailer’s acquisition of the Quebec-based RONA chain.

Sylvain Prud’homme, 55, is being replaced by Tony Cioffi, executive vice-president finance, real estate and dealers, until a permanent replacement is named.

Appointed head of the retailer’s Canadian division in 2013, Prud’homme has also overseen the company’s activities in Mexico since 2017.

“After more than 35 years in the retail industry in roles that have taken me across the country, including six years with Lowe’s Canada, it is with mixed feelings that I am announcing my retirement,” Prud’homme said in a news release.

Financial Woes

At a time when Lowe’s performance is improving in the United States, the picture is different in Canada with Lowe’s CEO last August blaming a decline in same-store sales largely on the integration of RONA.

After a failed first attempt in 2012, Lowe’s acquired RONA in 2016 for $3.2 billion. However, the North Carolina-based retailer took a $1.2-billion impairment charge earlier this year.

In addition, Lowe’s incurred restructuring costs when it announced in November 2018 the closure of 31 operations in Canada, including 24 RONA stores, two Lowe’s locations and one Reno-Depot.

Le Journal reported that some independent dealers in Quebec have left RONA since the Lowe’s takeover and many have gone to BMR.  Many expressed concern that Lowe’s doesn’t understand the Quebec market. 

TVA Nouvelles has learned that additional RONA hardware stores could be threatened with closure. 

Since it was sold to Americans three years ago, the value of Lowe’s Canada has fallen by a billion dollars, which precipitated the retirement of Mr. Prud’homme.

Changes on the Horizon 

To improve results at the Canadian division, Lowe’s could consider several options including closing more stores, downsizing positions at the Boucherville head office and consolidating marketing operations with the U.S., which the company denies for the moment. Suppliers are worried. “There is a standardization of supply and, in my opinion, it involves its share of danger,” says AQMATpresident Richard Darveau. “There will be fewer and fewer suppliers. They will probably be more often than not American than Canadian. We are at a crossroads.” At this time, these options are only speculation and Lowe’s Canada declined interview requests to discuss the restructuring scenarios.

Who will replace Sylvain Prud’homme? Some experts suspect that Lyne Castonguay could be the next CEO of Lowe’s Canada.  Originally from New Brunswick, Ms. Castonguay worked 14 years for The Home Depot. Until recently she was Vice President at Sobeys, parent company of IGA grocery stores. “When you’re in a market, it’s always more efficient to have someone from that market, so a Canadian or a Quebecer, because there are market specificities that are important,” explains the leader of growth at Amplio Strategies.

Lyne Castonguay did not respond to a request for comment.

Sources: The Star, Le Journal, VAT News