It seemed like a great opportunity.
In the 1990s, the Chinese government loosened regulations on its housing market, allowing its 1.2 billion citizens to own private homes for the first time since the communist revolution in 1949. Home improvement and furniture companies such as Sweden’s IKEA and the U.K.’s B&Q rushed in to meet the need.
In 2006, Home Depot bought the Chinese home improvement company Home Way and its 12 stores in the country. With its booming economy and strong real estate market, China seemed like it would be an easy win for America’s home improvement giant.
But by 2012, Home Depot closed the last seven of its 12 original stores. The company doesn’t break out sales data by country, but data from Euromonitor shows that China accounted for only about 0.3% of Home Depot’s annual net sales.
Analysts say that Home Depot failed to do its homework on the Chinese market, missing the mark on consumer needs and culture.