Lowes Companies, Inc. is a Fortune 500 American company that operates a chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Founded in 1946 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the chain has 1,840 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Expansion into Canada began in 2007 with the opening of a store in Hamilton, Ontario in early 2008. Lowes started the construction of two stores in the Mexican city of Monterrey officially entering the Mexican market in early 2010. In 2011, Lowes released plans to build over 150 stores in Australia over the next five years, hoping to compete with the U.S. $2 industry. As of 2010, the chain is based in Mooresville, North Carolina. Lowes is the second-largest hardware chain in the United States behind The Home Depot and ahead of Menards. Globally, Lowes is also the second-largest hardware chain, again behind The Home Depot but ahead of the European stores B&Q and OBI.