This excerpt taken from the HD 10-K filed Mar 29, 2007.
Information Technologies. During fiscal 2006, we continued to make significant information technology investments to support better customer service and provide an improved shopping environment in our stores. We completed the deployment of self-checkout registers to all our U.S. stores and the majority of our stores in Canada and enhanced our coupon processing at all check-outs. We also began implementing in-store call boxes and installed voice over internet phone systems in order to provide customers faster assistance from our associates. To support the continued growth of our appliance business, we upgraded our proprietary Depot Direct appliance fulfillment system.
In addition to significant investments in store technology, we upgraded our order management system, which improves the speed and accuracy of online order processing and provides customers the ability to check special order status on the internet. We also defined a set of common enterprise system platforms for our HD Supply wholesale businesses and began migrating the HD Supply businesses to these platforms, beginning with the payroll and financial functions.
We also began work on the strategic effort to implement a new Retail Systems platform to further improve the performance of our merchandising functions and store operations. We also commenced the effort to add new automation into our supply chain functions focusing on new systems for warehouse distribution, transportation management and enhancements to support greater order penetration through our centralized replenishment systems.
Associates. At the end of fiscal 2006, we employed approximately 364,000 associates, of whom approximately 26,000 were salaried, with the remainder compensated on an hourly or temporary basis. Approximately 68% of our associates are employed on a full-time basis. We believe that our employee relations are very good. To attract and retain qualified personnel, we seek to maintain competitive salary and wage levels in each market we serve.
Intellectual Property. Through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Homer TLC, Inc., we have registered or applied for registration, in a number of countries, for a variety of internet domain names, service marks and trademarks for use in our businesses, including The Home Depot®; HD Supply; Hampton Bay® fans, lighting and accessories; Glacier Bay® toilets, sinks and faucets; Pegasus® faucets and bath accessories; Commercial Electric® lighting fixtures; Workforce® tools, tool boxes and shelving; www.hdsupply.com and www.doitherself.com. Furthermore, we have also obtained and now maintain patent portfolios relating to certain products and services provided by The Home Depot, and continually seek to patent or otherwise protect selected innovations we incorporate into our products and business operations. We regard our intellectual property as having significant value to each business segment and as being an important factor in the marketing of our brand, e-commerce, stores
and new areas of business. We are not aware of any facts that could be expected to have a material adverse affect on our intellectual property.
Quality Assurance Program. We have a quality assurance program for our directly imported globally-sourced products. Through this program, we have established criteria for supplier and product performance, which measures factors such as product quality and timeliness of shipments. The performance record is made available to the factories to allow them to strive for improvement. The program addresses quality assurance at the factory, product and packaging levels.
Environmental, Health & Safety ("EH&S"). We are committed to maintaining a safe environment for our customers and associates, and protecting the environment of the communities in which we do business. Our EH&S function in the field is directed by trained associates focused primarily on execution of the EH&S programs. Additionally, we have an Atlanta-based team of dedicated EH&S professionals who evaluate, develop, implement and enforce policies, processes and programs on a Company-wide basis.