n Benchmarx Kitchen and Joinery, part of the Travis Perkins Group, is giving back to the community by supplying Leicestershire children’s charity,

Wishes4Kids, with a new kitchen completely free of charge. Two branches have opened recently in the Leicester area; the Ravensbridge branch on March and Thurmston on March 20. Both branches have had a very strong first month and have been “exceptionally well-received” by local tradespeople, according to bosses. n WernerCo recently donated a range of equipment to several charities across the UK that provide education and employment opportunities in construction to a variety of those in need. Veterans and young adults will now be able to work towards a career in the industry, with the help of charities Building Heroes and Construction Youth Trust. Meanwhile low- income families will have a better chance of getting on the property ladder, through the initiative of Housing People Building Communities (HPBC). n Dunlop has kicked off its Multi-Skill Champion Competition to find the best multi- skill construction student in the UK with a series of regional college heats. The competition culminates in a grand final in June with students being tested on their tiling and decorating skills. As an added element this year, finalists will also be tested on their carpentry and joinery skills – a core element of the qualification. n Visitors at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show are invited to play their part in Chelsea history by leaving a lasting memory in the Hillier show garden. Hillier is opening part of its prestigious show garden to the public and is inviting show visitors to attach their favourite garden memory to its ‘Memory Tree’. Hillier’s wholesale and retail director Chris Francis said: “At Hillier, we have decades worth of great memories connected to Chelsea. The Memory Tree in our exhibit is a way of celebrating this and also inviting others to share their garden-related memories.”

2 DIY WEEK 28 APRIL 2017

End of an era for iconic Gosforth hardware indie

The owners of the longest- running shop on Gosforth high street – Thorpes of Gosforth – have taken the difficult decision to sell up and end their family’s 60 year run at the helm. Brothers Colin and Peter Thorpe, whose grandfather Edward Thorpe launched the business back in 1947, have put the store up for sale as both are approaching retirement. A traditional hardware retailer, the shop has become a “hub of the community” in Gosforth and enjoys a prime position on what Colin describes as “one of the best high streets in the North East.” Speaking to DIY Week, he “The

added: business is an

icon on the high street and has expanded over the years to create the current thriving business, and indeed has become a hub of the community with people often just coming in for a chat, or to catch up with what’s going on.” “We have really enjoyed running

the shop and we are sure that our grandfather would be incredibly proud of the much-loved local business that Thorpes has grown into over two more generations.” Thorpes has been a member of Home Hardware Scotland since 2002 and the brothers are keen advocates of the group, with Colin regularly making the 370-mile round trip to members meetings. When asked what they will miss most about the business, Colin replied: “The contact with our vast customer base, many of whom we have become friends with. We will miss the ‘banter’ and humour that the business is so well known for, and also the chat with our various suppliers, some of whom we have dealt with for more than 50 years. “However, we will not miss

offloading Home Hardware lorries in the rain! Or the red tape involved in day-to-day business life.” Both said they will miss the “friendship and good humour of the Home Hardware meetings”

Plans revealed for Argos and Habitat

The 50th Argos Digital store in a Sainsbury’s recently opened – and the supermarket has taken the milestone as an opportunity to share some of its plans for the businesses it acquired in its multi-million pound takeover last year. Sainsbury’s has said it is committed to opening 250 of these Argos Digital store-in-store concessions over the next three years. There are also plans to transform 60 stand-alone Argos stores to the digital format. It will mean that by this time next year, over a third of all Argos stores will be digital.

Argos digital collection

points are currently available to customers in 90 Sainsbury’s stores. Meanwhile, there are also big plans for Habitat’s new Mini format in the mix. Following the launch of the first Mini Habitat in Nine Elms, London, last October, the seventh Mini Habitat opened alongside the 50th Argos Digital earlier this month. There are plans to open a further 10 Mini Habitats during the current financial year.

250 Argos Digital stores will open over the next three years

Argos CEO John Rogers said: “The opening of our 50th Argos Digital store just seven months

LFL sales up 1.4% at Carpetright, despite tough trading conditions

Flooring specialist, Carpetright has announced that sales for the 12 weeks ending April 22, 2017, were up 1.4% like-for- like despite “tougher market conditions experienced across the period.”

The trading quarter saw Carpetright continue with the roll-out of its store refurbishment programme, with 188 stores now trading under the new brand identity. These are delivering sales growth

“comparable with stores in the rest of the estate.” Three new stores opened during the

quarter, in Liverpool,

Leeds and Bath. Two stores relocated to smaller units and three were closed, bringing the total to 427 trading locations. Said chief executive Wilf

Almost 200 stores are now using the store’s new branding

Walsh: “In common with other retailers in the home improvement sector in the UK we have experienced tougher

trading conditions over the last three months. Having said that, we are pleased to report continued like-for-like sales growth, with an increase of 1.4% in our fourth quarter.”

after we acquired the company shows we are moving ahead at pace with our strategy. Our cutting-edge digital capability is a core strength of our business and our decision to transform 60 Argos stores by March next year moves our strategy on further. Over a third of the store estate will now benefit from cutting-edge digital technology that will improve the customer experience, making shopping faster and more convenient.”

Homewares retailer Dunelm

posted a 2.2% decline in like-for- like sales for Q3 but maintains the business is outperforming the rest of the market. Dunelm Group plc reported its total revenue for the 13 weeks to April 1 rose by 11.4% to £255.1m. Total revenue, excluding the recently-acquired Worldstores, rose by 1% to £231.3m, while total like-for- like (LFL) growth (combining LFL stores and home delivery) declined by 2.2%. The retailer blamed the

figures on a homewares market that remains in decline but believes its business continues to outperform the market and that the margin of its overperformance has increased. Dunelm added that the timing of Easter this year means it expects around 1.5% of LFL sales to move from the third to the fourth quarter. This change broadly balances with the 1.7% of LFL sales that moved from Q2 to Q3 due to the timing of its winter sale, compared with last year.

Peter and Colin Thorpe (with estate agent Tim Aisbitt) hope the shop’s new owners will continue their legacy as a hub of the community

and added: “who knows, maybe they will occasionally allow us to gate crash a meeting just for the ‘blether’ and old time’s sake! “We are sure our successors will equally enjoy the huge benefits of being members

of such a strong and thriving buying group as Home Hardware Scotland. We would hope and see no reason why the shop cannot continue to be a profitable business for many years to come.”

LFL sales slip at Dunelm

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