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Lowe's Announces Joint Venture with Snap-on's J.H. Williams Division.

Kobalt(TM) Expected To Heat Up Home Improvement Retailer Competition

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In an unprecedented partnership, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and tool giant J.H. Williams, a division of Snap-on Incorporated, today announced a plan to offer professional quality mechanic's tools exclusively at Lowe's retail outlets under the brand name Kobalt.

The joint venture involved more than three years of research, development and product testing and marks the first time that Columbus, Ga.-based J.H. Williams has agreed to produce a private label product for a retailer.

Lowe's expects the new Kobalt tool line to compete directly with brands of rival retailers, including Home Depot's Husky brand and Sears' Craftsman(TM) brand, currently the most popular tool line on the market. But in independent tests performed by Rexnard Technical Services (RTS), of Madison, Wis., Kobalt outperformed all competing brands based on American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards, including "best of class" for torque testing, corrosion resistance, and several other subjective parameters relating to ease of use.

"Lowe's is excited to be the first home improvement retailer to bring a mechanic's quality tool to consumers at such a reasonable cost," said Bob Tillman, chairman and CEO of Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. "All of the items incorporate unique features that add to their ease of use and durability, and they are backed by a complete customer service program and carry a lifetime guarantee."

The initial product offering of Kobalt Tools features more than 300 products, including combination wrenches, sockets, ratchets and breaker bars, as well as tool storage units. Each tool has a durable, full-polish chrome finish, unique openings to handle worn or tight fasteners, and ergonomic designs for ease of use. Wrenches and sockets are being sold in sets and open stock, and come in a variety of sizes -- both standard and metric.

Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is one of the nation's leading home improvement retailers, operating 465 stores in 26 states. Lowe's employs more than 65,000 people nationally and was selected this year by Fortune Magazine as one of "The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America."

J.H. Williams is a division of Snap-on Incorporated, a $1.7 billion leading global developer, manufacturer, and distributor of tool and equipment solutions for professional technicians, motor service shop owners, specialty repair centers, original equipment manufacturers, and industrial tool users worldwide. Product lines include hand and power tools, diagnostics and shop equipment, tool storage products, diagnostics software, and other solutions for the automotive service industry.

For more information on KOBALT Tools, call 1-888-3KOBALT or visit the web site at
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 5, 1998
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