Changes vs. distractions: Lowe's walks a fine line

Lowe's has big plans. That's another way of saying it has a lot on its plate. 

During a third-quarter earnings call in which Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock described the company's performance as below its expectations, he was asked about distractions and changes and their impact on results. 

The CEO went on to explain that it's better to consolidate changes and get through them quickly than to wait for things to get better. 

"I think when you think at the significant amount of change that we put the organization through, in time … there's got to be some amount of disruption associated with that."

The changes support the idea of meeting the customers' needs regardless of when, where or how they want to shop, he explained.

The changes taking place at Lowe's include the closing of 27 stores this year; the launching of the My Lowe's Web tool in October; the launch of Never Stop Improving brand positioning in September; streamlining the field organizational structure, resulting in fewer districts and regions; and zeroing in on an everyday low price approach. 

He added: "We think that we've now gotten most of that behind us."

The company posted a sales increase of 2.3% for the third quarter, as net earnings declined 44.3% to $225 million.

Speaking to investors in his prepared remarks, Niblock said: "As I said before, our performance is not at the level we expect relative to the market or frankly, that we demand of ourselves as we define success, so we're taking action. The executive team is looking at our business from a fresh perspective, and we're evaluating how we operate on a cross-functional basis to ensure consistent and connected execution."