Profit and sales in decline
The world's largest DIY retailer Home Depot revealed retail sales declined 2 per cent to US$17.4 billion (£8.89 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, because of a challenging housing market.

Net earnings were US$925 million (£472.8 million), compared with US$1.3 billion (£664.5 million) in 2005. Comparable store sales declined 6.6 per cent for the period. However, total sales rose 4 per cent to US$20.3 billion (£10.38 billion), compared with the fourth quarter 2005.

Retail sales for last year increased 2.6 per cent against the previous year to US$79 billion (£40.38 billion), driven by new stores. But comparable store sales for the year declined 2.8 per cent and net earnings remained flat at US$5.8 billion (£2.96 billion). Total sales for the year rose 11.4 per cent to US$90.8 billion (£46.41 billion), compared with 2005.

Home Depot chairman and chief executive Frank Blake said: 'Reflecting the challenging housing market, our 2006 retail results were disappointing. We may not be able to impact the housing market or general economic conditions, but we know that we can improve our performance relative to our overall market share. That will be a central point of emphasis for us in 2007 and beyond.'