Lowe’s is to invest nearly US$7 billion (£3.81 billion) in the next two years to expand and upgrade its store portfolio to compete harder against market leader Home Depot.

The 950-strong DIY group will open about 140 stores this year, followed by a similar number next year.

Lowe’s is also modernising much of its estate. The retailer will enter three new US states - Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maine - and open a regional distribution centre in Florida.

Lowe’s president Robert Niblock believes that improving logistics and merchandising practices will help the company to continue its strong growth.

The retailer is also offering more value-added services, such as installation, as it aims to attract two distinct types of customer.

Niblock said: ‘The ‘home entertainers’ are primarily younger, educated, professional women who are brand loyal. They want real service, not lip service, and Lowe’s stands ready to provide what they need, with installation services, innovative products and top-notch customer service.

‘The ‘serial remodeler’ phenomenon is being led by homeowners motivated by continuous innovation and overhaul of their kitchens, bathrooms or family rooms, which is a third more homeowners than a decade ago. They often replace items that are still working with high-end products that have better design, more functionality and better energy efficiency.’

For the first quarter, Lowe’s revealed a 22 per cent sales increase, with like-for-like sales up 9.9 per cent and net earnings up 8.1 per cent.

The retailer notched up sales of US$30.8 billion (£16.77 billion) last year.