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Masters Sale A ‘Dud” As Us Retailer Lowes Goes On Publicity Bender

Masters has come under fire over its advertised “big discount sale”, with customers describing it as a “dud” “A stunt” and “Not worth the trip”, at the same time Masters partner, big US retailer Lowes is running a “spoiler” campaign, a move that some say is “flawed”.

With discounts of between 10% and 30% most visitors to the Masters stores said the bulk of the discounts were less than 15%.

Now the big ‘Yank’ hardware retailer Lowes the minor shareholder in the Masters deal and the organisation who claimed they knew how to make Masters a success in Australia, is whinging all the way to the Federal Court in a move as some observers claimed could backfire on them.

“Went into Masters today to buy paint, the advertising said all Sherwin Williams paint was half price and even the salesperson told us it was (half price) … when we went to buy it, it wasn’t half price,” another posted.

One buyer said he was disappointed sale stock was only 10 per cent off and said “guess the strategy is to start the discounts off slowly”.

Lowes, a one-third owner with Woolworths in the Masters chain, says it is not satisfied with the “bargain basement” price Woolworths has negotiated to farewell the hardware chain, and now wants a bigger share of the left over spoils.

Observers claim that Lowe’s playing a dangerous game of bluff with its court action against Woolworths over the winding up of the Masters Home Improvement business.

The financial review claimed today that if the US retailing giant is not careful, it will end up as a minority partner with no rights in a joint venture with the Home Consortium, which is buying the Masters properties for about $800 million.

David Di Pilla, who advised the Home Consortium and has invested his own money in it, made sure that his deal with Woollies contemplated the possibility that Lowe’s might get bolshie.

Di Pilla bought a call option over the Woolies shares in the joint venture vehicle called Hydrox Holdings. When the option is called, he will have 70 per cent of Hydrox and Lowe’s will own the remainder.

In other news, ChannelNews can reveal that what Lowe’s did over the past weekend was to consult with their Australian lawyers Gilbert + Tobin, they instructed them to take court action in the Federal Court.

Instead of advising their partners Woolworths they chose to leave Woolies in the dark. They did however issue a statement to the media in what some observers have claimed was a deliberate spoiling action aimed at embarrassing the big supermarket group.

The court action was leaked to the media before Woolies had access to the documents. Lowe’s released a press release full of emotive language but lacking clarity about exactly how much more money they want to get out of the closure of Masters.

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