Argos shares Homebase sites

Homebase stores could house Argos units where planning consents allow, according to the DIY retailer's head of property Phil Monaghan.

Delegates at last week's Retail Property Forum 2003 in London were told Argos had not ruled out taking space in some Homebase stores. GUS acquired the DIY retailer two months ago from venture capitalist Permira.

Revamped stores and small market towns hold the key to the future for Homebase. Its Megastores, comprising six operating units, plus 25 in various stages of development, were stripped out and sold to B&Q in the wake of Sainsbury's sale of the business to Permira in December 2000.

Homebase is now concentrating on revamping remaining stores and acquiring new 2,785 sq m to 3,715 sq m units in towns where it is not represented.

Five more are to open this year. Homebase, faced with planning restrictions, plus intense competition for stores that are allowed, sees refurbishing stores as crucial.

'Homebase is changing and trying to react to what customers want,' says Monaghan.

The retailer revamped 30 stores last year. The refits emphasise Homebase's softer approach to home improvements, particularly favoured by female consumers. Bathrooms, kitchens and furniture displayed in room settings play key roles in refurbished Homebase stores.