First UK Homebase-to-Bunnings conversion opens this week

The St Albans pilot Bunnings DIY/garden centre officially opens on 2 February.

Bunnings plans to open at least four pilot stores by the end of June 2017 is it phases out the Homebase brand bought in January 2016 for £340m.

The current Homebase store closed at the end of November.

There could be 8-10 pilot Bunnings in the UK by the end of 2017. The St Albans store will include a covered area in the garden centre planteria, as well as the removal of the mezzanine.

Bunnings has £500m to spend from owners Wesfarmers on transforming the DIY/garden centre business. UK managing director PJ Davis said gardening was one of the key strengths of the Homebase brand and "we want to make sure we don’t lose that strength" as a Bunnings warehouse.

The store will hold almost 40 per cent more stock keeping units (skus) than the old Homebase.

Australian Bunnings feature more staff than is usual in UK DIY and include cafes, children's playgrounds and host sausage sizzles. The UK store will feature a headline-grabbing sausage sizzle.

An industry expert told HW: "The new Bunnings in St Albans is very significant as it is the first time that we will all see how Bunnings will approach the UK market, and how customers respond to a very different store format. From a customer perspective they will appear as a new retailer on the block, this is not just a revamped Homebase. The thing that will be particularly interesting is customer service as we are hearing that they are investing heavily in delivering great service, which they are renowned for in Australia."

  • Book now for the Garden Retail Summit 2017 - the leading independent knowledge and networking event for executives. Taking place in London on 23rd February, this year's event will focus on growth, and include the opportunities and challenges of 'brexit', learnings from the latest garden centre developments - and will be opened with a keynote address from John Cleland, CEO, Dobbies.  For more details and tickets go to: www.gardenretailawards.com/summit

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