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    C-store Exec Leaves Home Depot

    Position responsible for growth will be eliminated.

    ATLANTA -- Home Depot's senior vice president of growth initiatives, Jim Stoddart, left the company on Friday, sparking speculation about the future of many of the chain's retail concepts, including Home Depot Fuel, the company's chain of c-stores that are situated in the big boxes' parking lots, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

    Stoddart was hired by former company chief executive Bob Nardelli in 2002. He oversaw several retail projects that focused on looking outside the Atlanta-based company's big-box stores. At least two of those projects -- Landscape Supply and Home Depot Fuel -- appear to have stalled recently, as the new CEO, Frank Blake, refocused all growth efforts on the core business, the paper reported.

    The change "doesn't affect our growth plans [for Home Depot Fuel], although the plans are different than they were this time last year," Home Depot spokesman, Tony Wilbert told CSNews Online.

    Four Home Depot Fuel locations have opened, and two are under construction, Wilbert said. However, the original goal to have 300 stores by 2010 "came out early," and the company is currently "reevaluating" the program, he added, noting that the stores are performing "relatively well."

    "They're doing relatively well right now, but we need a little more time to assess whether they're driving traffic to the big box," Wilbert told the paper.

    The focus on the big box is a back-to-basics strategy that was put in place when Blake took the lead in January, the report stated. Rather than pursue new business outside the company's retail expertise, as former head Nardelli did, Blake is striving for sales growth through updating the product mix and service within the main stores.

    Currently, Stoddart has no plans, Wilbert said.

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