The Home Depot drops EXPO business

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The big orange is shrinking its color pallet once again. The Home Depot has announced that it is closing the EXPO business and laying off 7,000 employees.

For those who may have never ventured into an EXPO store, the venture was Home Depot's entree into high-end décor and design. The upscale home improvement stores were part big box retailer and part Kitchen/Bath style showrooms.

Admittedly, I wasn't EXPO's target customer because I'm (1) a guy; and (2) one of those few people who can "see" what a finished room would look like just by envisioning the materials that would go into the space.

EXPO was clearly aimed at upscale female shoppers and chock full of elaborate displays that demonstrated the very best your home improvement dollar could buy. But with the shrinking economy, came shrinking home improvement budgets. And unfortunately, EXPO will now be shrinking away in to retail history.

"Exiting our EXPO business is a difficult decision, particularly given the hard work and dedication of our associates in that business and the support of our loyal customers," said Frank Blake, Chairman and CEO. "At the same time, it is a necessary decision that will strengthen our core Home Depot business."

According to the company, the EXPO business has not performed well financially and was not expected to improve any time soon. Even during the recent housing boom, it was not a strong business and weakened significantly as the demand for big ticket design and decor projects declined in recent months.

The Home Depot has no plans to leave customers in the lurch though and pledged to complete any construction projects that have been started, or refund the price of installation and the design retainer in cases where the project has yet to begin.

Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers expert home improvement tips each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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