Lowe’s, America’s second biggest DIY chain, is making its first international move through a joint venture with Australia’s Woolworths.

The partnership will allow Lowe’s to tap into a thriving home improvement market in Australia.

The venture includes an Aus$88m (£45m) takeover offer for Australia’s second-largest hardware distributor, Danks Holdings.

Lowe’s will own one-third of the new chain and aims to open its first store in 2011. Through the deal the companies hope to secure over 150 stores over the next five years.

Lowe’s Chief Executive Robert Niblock said the deal was a “tremendous opportunity for the home improvement chain.”

The US DIY chain has continued to see declining sales of big ticket items in the tough US market with sales in its second quarter down 4.6 per cent and like-for-like sales falling 9.5 per cent.