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ATLANTA-The Home Depot is selling15 of its 54 Expo Design Center stores and converting five of them into its flagship-chain units. The retailer took a $106 million expense in anticipation of the closures during its Q1, which ended May 1.

The closings of the home furnishings stores “will improve the overall profitability of Expo operations,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot’s president, CEO and chairman. The retailer started rolling out the Expo chain in the early 1990s.

During the quarter, Home Depot opened 21 stores, bringing its total to 1,911 in North America. Nine percent of the company’s units are in Canada (120) and Mexico (45), and the rest are in the US. The company’s same-store sales during its Q1 were up 2.1% year-over-year.

Sales for the quarter increased 8.1% from last year’s Q1 to $19 billion. Net earnings soared 16.3%, to $1.2 billion. Among the chain’s strong-performing categories were barbeque grills, patio furniture, cleaning supplies, as well as the kitchen and bath departments.

The company also set a record for its average transaction, at $58.25. Home Depot is also continuing its exploration of possible expansion into China.

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