Home Depot’s New President Said to Be Groomed as CEO

Home Depot Inc.’s promotion of Craig Menear to president of its U.S. retail division is part of a succession plan for Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Menear, 56, is the leading candidate to become the next CEO of the largest U.S. home-improvement chain, said the person, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. There isn’t a timeline for the succession, the person said. Menear joined Home Depot in 1997 and served as executive vice president of merchandising before his promotion, the Atlanta-based company said yesterday in a statement.

Blake, who will turn 65 in July, became CEO and chairman in 2007 when he replaced Bob Nardelli. The stock has doubled under Blake as he revamped the chain’s operations to make them more efficient and improved customer service. While Home Depot doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age for employees, the board’s is 72.

“Craig is a world-class retailer and has done a terrific job in recent years leading some of the most important and successful initiatives in our company,” Blake said in the statement.

Menear has 34 years of experience in retail, including stints at Ikea Group before joining Home Depot. The chain hasn’t had a president since Nardelli, who was also chairman and CEO. The company also announced that Marvin Ellison, executive vice president of U.S. stores, will report to Menear instead of Blake.

Steve Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, declined to comment on the details of succession planning.

‘Deep Bench’

“The company has a deep bench of executives, and our board regularly reviews succession planning,” Holmes said.

Home Depot shares were little changed yesterday in New York, closing at $82.03. The shares have gained 20 percent in the past 12 months.

In the fourth quarter, Home Depot posted profit that topped analysts’ estimates, marking six straight years of meeting or exceeding projections. The chain expects the recovery in home prices to continue, fueling spending on renovations. It forecast a sales increase of 4.8 percent this year after a 5.4 percent gain last year.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the succession plan.