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Home Depot Losing Top Merchant

The Home Depot’s chief merchant and marketing guru has decided to leave the company at the end of the year.

Tom Taylor, merchandising and marketing, executive VP will continue to lead the home improvement chain’s merchandising and marketing functions through December, and will assist in the selection and transition of his replacement. He is also expected to enter into a longer-term consulting agreement with Home Depot following his departure.

“After long consultations with my family, much personal reflection and many conversations with [chairman, president and CEO] Bob Nardelli, I have decided that it is the right time for me to take a break, spend time with my family and to consider what I’m going to do next in life,” Taylor said in a statement. He joined the company 23 years ago as a part-time associate in the outside garden department.

“Tom’s counsel and friendship have been invaluable to me over the last five years, and my regret at his decision to leave is coupled with excitement about what the future holds for him and his family,” said Nardelli.

Wall Street regarded Taylor’s pending departure as a short-term setback for the No. 1 home improvement chain. “We view this as a loss to Home Depot, as Tom Taylor was an integral part of many initiatives the company has embarked upon over the years,” observed Lehman Brothers’ retail analyst Alan Rifkin. “While his departure is less than ideal, we believe that Mr. Taylor will continue to be a valuable asset to Home Depot following his departure, should a consulting agreement materialize.”

Bank of America analyst David Strasser concurred: “We view this as incrementally negative for the company, as Mr. Taylor had been viewed by many as a rising star within the executive team.”