U.S. News

Home Depot ends Olympics sponsorship program

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc is ending a sponsorship program under which it paid full-time wages and benefits for part-time work to athletes training for the Olympic Games.

The company currently employs 98 people in the Olympic Jobs Opportunities Program, in which it had been a sponsor since 1992.

After March 2, those athletes will no longer receive full-time benefits. They can remain in their part-time jobs, apply for full-time positions, or discontinue their employment at Home Depot.

“We feel the time has come to look at new ways to enhance our brand and provide exciting, new programs that appeal to our customers and associates,” spokeswoman company Jean Niemi said on Thursday.

Though the soft U.S. housing market has hurt Home Depot’s sales and earnings, Niemi said the decision to end the Olympics program was not tied to the economy.

She said the retailer does not disclose what it spent on the program.

Reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by John Wallace