Lowe’s Co. has announced that its chief executive officer, Robert Niblock, will soon retire after 13 years as CEO and 25 years with the company. He will remain in his position until a successor is found, the company said Monday.

Niblock’s exit may enable a recent activist investor, D.E. Shaw & Co., to exert more influence over the retailer, according to Imani Moise of the Wall Street Journal. D. E. Shaw has asserted that the company is underperforming compared to Home Depot, and Moise notes that its share price has lagged behind Home Depot’s over the past year. The company added three new directors to its board last week in response to these assertions.

The next chief most likely will be an external candidate, said Craig Johnson, president of investment-research firm Customer Growth Partners.

Fresh leadership could put the company on track to be more competitive, Mr. Johnson said, noting that Home Depot’s stock has more than quadrupled since the ouster of former CEO Robert Nardelli in 2007. However, he said, without a smooth transition, the company’s short-term goals could be in jeopardy.

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