German DIY retailer Hornbach has opened a compact store format to differentiate its big-box offer and make the retailer more accessible.

German DIY retailer Hornbach has opened a compact store format to differentiate its big-box offer and make the retailer more accessible

In parallel with the advent of Kingfisher’s Screwfix banners, Hornbach is also working on a DIY formula on a relatively small floor space in Germany.

Located in Bad Bergzabern, Rhineland-Palatinate, adjacent to the French border, the Hornbach Compact store offers a complete range of construction and renovation items for DIY and professional customers alike, all available for pick-up.

Hornbach, traditionally a big-box operator, has been testing the 8,600 sq ft compact concept in Bad Bergzabern for some months now. The retailer is thus keen to emphasise that the launch of Hornbach Compact does not imply a change of strategy away from its big-box formula and says that it instead just fills in a supply gap for clients.

With the outlet located in a somewhat rural area and close to the German border, it should also have considerable appeal to visitors from France. Cross-border customers previously had to drive 100km to reach the closest Hornbach outlet in Bornheim.

Like bigger Hornbach stores, the Compact outlet is positioned as a project-DIY store. This implies that the retailer has not scaled down its product assortment in these categories. Rather, it has chosen not to offer bulkier items such as gardening and kitchen appliances.

At the entrance area, customers can obtain a handheld scanner or, alternatively, a shopping list with which they may then browse the outlet. Using these, they can check off their required items in the showroom before proceeding to the checkout. Here, they are allocated a ticket and, after a brief waiting time, staff will collect the goods from the warehouse at the rear of the store.

In a nod to the geographic location, Hornbach has French-speaking staff available.

Hornbach’s new store formula shows striking similarities to Kingfisher’s Screwfix concept, which is at present being tested in the Rhein-Main region. As with that concept, Hornbach shoppers can order items from a warehouse for delivery and/or collection online. However, unlike Screwfix, Hornbach aims to offer a wider assortment than Screwfix Germany’s 9,000 SKUs. It also does not place catalogues in the showroom.

Hornbach did not disclose further details regarding its product range, staff numbers or warehousing capacities. Nevertheless, it appears that the market-listed and family-managed business is clearly determined to push the format’s growth as it has already announced it intends to open further such stores in Germany. The next outlet in Neunkirchen (Saar), scheduled to open this summer, has already been announced.

  • Niklas Reinecke, retail analyst, Planet Retail