Homebase poised to step up its focus on garden market

DIY company plans to target people turning garden into their "fifth room".

Homebase says it plans to expand in the gardening market over the next 15 years as customers increasingly opt to turn their gardens into a “fifth room”. Speaking at the Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA) business meeting last week in Warwickshire, Homebase commercial director Carolyn Simons said the company saw what she termed the “outdoor living market” as its third-biggest growth area. It would be the “core of what we do as we go forward”, she added. Simons said “significant opportunities” existed for the company as more people opted to turn the garden into a “fifth room”. “We have done a lot of research on gardening and how customers use their garden. That has shown gardening is less important than eating out in the garden. It’s leisure as much as gardening,” she added. Simons said customers wanted an attractive garden but were unsure what to do and often found the process overwhelming. The challenge was to make changes easier. “We need to inspire them to get out and put the look together, but we need to tell them how.” Simons admitted Homebase garden centres were “boring” but said improvements were planned. She said retailers often forgot most customers had no idea about the products they were buying, so the firm had to improve its information. But she accepted there would never be enough staff to assist customers, admitting staff levels would drop as costs rose. Homebase needed to developed a more effective interface with customers without personal contact, she said.

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