Owners of hardware store destroyed by fire praise firefighters, community

Mackays shop revamp is progressing well

Mackays of Cambridge is undergoing a revamp to make the store easier for customers to shop but also to deter shoplifters – something about which joint MD Neil Mackay feels very passionate. Mr Mackay, who speaks

frequently on the topic of retail theft, boasts his own rogue’s gallery of culprits – most of whom have been caught and prosecuted – and is keen that the ongoing facelift at its store on East Road deter future perpetrators.

The owners of Watlington hardware store DG Homeware, which was left completely gutted after a vicious fire on Friday, April 7, have thanked the firefighters and members of the community who helped them. Derek and Glennys Starling,

who live next door to the shop they have owned for more than 30 years, were rescued by members

of the public

when the fire took hold on Friday evening at around 7pm. They have since been staying with family.

In a statement, the family said: “Mr and Mrs Starling thank everybody in Watlington for their concern and patience while High Street has been closed. They have nothing but praise for all the firefighters who saved the building. The building will be rebuilt.” The cause of the fire has

been confirmed as a fault in the ceiling lighting. Incident commander Marcus Reay said: “The ballast in the electrical lighting had dropped on to some recent deliveries in the store — fibreglass sandpaper and cardboard — which had subsequently ignited.” More than 50 firefighters attended the blaze, Reay


with Mr at


time: “I was very proud of my firefighters who worked tirelessly to bring the fire under control, in hot conditions using breathing apparatus, ladders and hose lines, in getting water onto the fire to stop it spreading. “They worked tremendously together as a team and everybody put in a great deal of effort. Fortunately there were no casualties.” Police cordoned off the area while the blaze was brought under

control, and the high

street remained closed for the following Saturday.

His son, Andrew, is spearheading the reorganisation of

the shop, which they’ve

dubbed ‘Project Morph’. Mr Mackay detailed some of the plans for the new-look store. “The shop will be laid out more efficiently and we plan to do away with manufacturers’

display stands. We are improving our sight

lines throughout the

store, which will reduce theft and make our offer look better. It’s all towards creating an environment that is better for the future.” He explained that the strategy

began with a review of Mackay’s power tool offer but it quickly became apparent that it was a far more involved category and not the best place to start. “It is not the easiest section to deal with. We started de-listing lots of products with a view to narrowing our offer and providing a wider range from just three suppliers. So, we went through that process. But all the other brands found ways to wheedle their way back in and now we have everyone you can think of.”

Instead, phase one of the revamp, which is already

complete, saw an overhaul of the garden tools offer and initial customer feedback has already been positive. “We want to have a good, better and best offering for our customers, so we have started in garden and it’s all coming together really well. Our customers are already saying how much easier it is to shop and find things. They say it’s clearer and we have straighter

Debenhams to close 10 stores as part of “Destination Store” plan

The new CEO of Debenhams Sergio Bucher, who joined the business last October, has revealed plans to transform the retailer into a “destination for social shopping”,

improve online

services and potentially close up to 10 of its 176 UK stores.

It comes as the retailer

revealed its half-year pre- tax profits fell by 6.4% to £88m, though group gross transaction value was up 2.9%

to £1,676.5m with the UK like- for-like figure up 0.5%. A

central distribution

warehouse and 10 smaller warehouses are also on the chopping block as part of the new strategy, which is being coined as “Debenhams Redesigned.” As part of the strategy, bosses have said they want to “deliver growth by becoming a ‘Destination, Digital and Different’ and drive efficiency by simplifying and focusing our business.”

Retail sales decline, but vacancy rates dip

Sales were down 1.4% for the three months to March, marking the first quarterly decline since 2013 according to the Office for National Statistics; however new shop openings and demolitions lead to a dip in vacancy rate for most outlets in March according to the Local Data Company. For stores falling under the ‘household goods’ category, quantity bought was down 3.3% on a quarterly basis, and down 1.5% compared with the same period last year. The amount spent was down 2.6% on the previous three months, and down 0.6% compared with last year. This retail category showed

the largest decline in terms of volume and value compared with all other retail categories. ONS senior statistician Kate

Davies said: “[The] retail sales figures show a decline on the month and on the three months to March, which coincides with quarter one in 2017. This is the first time we’ve seen a quarterly decline since 2013, and it seems to be a consequence of price increases across a whole range of sectors.”

Meanwhile, shop numbers grew for the sixth consecutive month

in March,

with openings rising faster than closures, and a nine- month high of demolitions reducing the overall number of vacant units.

The decline in sales is thought to be due largely to price increases across all sectors

lines in store.” The next phase of the rolling

project focuses on security and ironmongery, and Andrew Mackay told DIY Week


would be completed by June. “It is having a dramatic effect on our business,” said Neil Mackay. “A positive effect – both in store and online.”

Read a full interview with Neil Mackay on page 13.

Gardman reports 36% growth in sales of wild bird care

Garden products supplier Gardman has recorded additional retail sales worth £16million of its wild bird care products in its latest year-to- date figures. The company attributes the uplift to its “4 Big Ideas” strategy, introduced following the launch of its wild bird care catalogue last year. Gardman CEO Peter Utting said: “We identified “4 Big Ideas” that we believed would deliver significant change and growth. It’s now eight months on since this launch and I’m delighted to report that we’re seeing an outstanding growth.” He continued: “From having a better understanding of category dynamics and consumer needs, we’ve been able to tackle seasonal sales dips, target untapped younger markets, overcome barriers to feeding and tap into decorative lifestyle trends.” Gardman’s four-pronged strategy includes getting customers to feed wild birds all year round, introducing a new and

younger demographic,

making feeding easier than ever and bringing decorative style to feeding.

28 APRIL 2017 DIY WEEK 3

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