Caterpillar sees the potential to substantially expand its Cat Rental Store network in North America by creating rental operations inside Home Depot stores.

Jim Parker, vice president of Caterpillar's North American commercial division, told IRN at Conexpo that results from a trial rental store at a Home Depot location in Texas were "encouraging" and that there was the potential for there to be "lots" of Cat Rental Stores based at Home Depot locations.

Cat is not the only equipment manufacturer looking at rental in Home Depot stores. Michael Edwards, chief operating officer of Compact Power Inc - which makes the Boxer range of compact tool carriers - told IRN that it will also establish three ‘trial' in-store rental operations at Home Depot stores in the Charlotte area. The stores will open in April, renting Boxer equipment.

Caterpillar's Jim Parker said the Home Depot locations - if the programme is extended - would be run by existing Caterpillar dealers as an extension of their Cat Rental Store networks, with dealers staffing the in-store locations and also providing additional rental inventory of mini-excavators and other compact Cat equipment.

The stores would be run as separate operations from Home Depot's existing rental activities - currently at over 1000 stores - which focus mainly on small tools and equipment.

Mr Parker acknowledged that there was the potential to expand the ‘in-store' rental depot concept to other DIY superstore networks outside of the US, but said Cat was not currently talking to any other DIY store operators outside North America.

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