Australian DIY giant Bunnings has landed, opening its doors to inquisitive customers today at the debut Bunnings Warehouse in St Albans.
But although the new Homebase owner has laid its first brick, Bunnings has a lot of grafting and cementing to do before its house is fully built.
Bunnings’ UK and Ireland boss PJ Davis predicts that converting the full Homebase estate – around 265 units – will take between three and five years, but told Retail Week that four trial stores – varying in size – would be open for business by June.
Still, the launch of its maiden “no frills” warehouse is a landmark occasion.
The 67,000 sq ft store, packed to the rafters with over 30,000 products, is a world apart from Homebase – a business that has long been in need of a lick of paint.
Long gone are Homebase’s concessions and home furnishings. Instead, Bunnings’ hard DIY proposition pips it directly against UK market-leader B&Q.
Kingfisher-owned B&Q stores are, on average, larger than Homebase sites and typically carry around 40,000 SKU’s.
But while Kingfisher chief executive Véronique Laury works to streamline the number of different brands available across Kingfisher’s fascias, Bunnings UK has introduced a vast range of third-party brand names, aiming to satiate everyone “from the novice to the pro”.
Let’s hope everyone has their hard hats on for when Bunnings’ conversion programme is complete and battle commences in earnest.
Today also marks the launch of Retail Week’s flagship report: Retail 2017.
Featuring insight from 25 retail chief executives, the report illuminates the challenges the industry is facing, and how the sector’s leaders are feeling, thinking and investing in the year ahead.
Elsewhere, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has taken an 11% stake in struggling fashion retailer French Connection.
Quote of the day
‘‘In these times, you’ve just got to be better at what you do. There’s no room for mediocrity.”
– Bunnings UK and Ireland managing director PJ Davis
Today in numbers
The share of retailers looking to expand abroad this year, according to our landmark report, Retail 2017.
The number of physical assaults on Iceland staff in the past 10 months.
Look out for the latest episode of The Retail Week, when we dissect some findings from Retail 2017, and chat Sausage Sizzles and Sports Direct.
Emily Hardy, reporter