Unveiling its fourth and largest store in Milton Keynes last month, Bunnings announced it would be doubling the roll-out of its UK pilot stores. Fiona Garcia took a look round the latest Bunnings Warehouse offering and spoke to UK & Ireland MD PJ Davis about the retailer’s plans for the future.


esfarmers’ plans to invest £500m in rolling out its Bunnings pilot to the UK and open 10

stores this year have been seriously ramped up, as the Australian retail giant revealed it would be opening 16 more before the year is out. This would take the number of Warehouses in the UK to 20. The announcement suggests the initial payback has been positive and, while the retailer has not disclosed the return on value (ROV) that dictates whether the stores have been a success, managing director Peter (PJ) Davis told DIY Week that shareholders have paid a visit to the UK and “are very comfortable with the way the pilot stores are going”. He conceded that conditions in the UK are currently difficult for retailers but said that the group,

10 DIY WEEK 21 JULY 2017

which bought Homebase from Home Retail Group in 2016, were “pleased with their investment in Homebase and the progress made by Bunnings” and that its offer is well suited to the needs of the British public.

“The timing couldn’t be tougher in the UK…it’s tough for retailers and it’s going to continue but that will drive customers to value,” he said. “If you’re going to win it’s a great time to offer customers a strong value proposition.” Mr Davis is extremely confident in the Bunnings strategy and excited about the continued roll out of the Warehouse stores and transformation of the Homebase estate to fit the group’s vision. The latest opening, Milton Keynes, boasts a footprint of 90,000sq ft and is the biggest space Bunnings has had to play with yet. Mr Davis describes this as the “ideal size” for

the Warehouse format, allowing for the right product assortment and a “far bigger presence on trade”. He added that the garden centre at the Milton Keynes store is “much more representative of what we want and will be going forward”. He continued: “I’ve always said that about 80-90,000sq ft is our optimum store and this one happens to fit that box for us, fits the bill.”

Inside the store The store in Milton Keynes boasts 35,000-plus SKUs with 200 additional bays of ranges. The configuration of the store is a departure from the other pilots, with some of what Mr David describes as the “softer elements” of Bunnings’ offer such as lighting and flooring taking a more prominent place on the shopfloor. The kitchen and bathroom offer is basic and seems pretty toothless for any competitors worried about

market share, with Bunnings’ focus still very much on a takeaway package for the discerning DIYer and no plans to introduce installation or finance schemes. Other stores may give over a bigger space to the category in the future, although Mr Davis stresses that it will never be a big part of the retailer’s strategy going forward. He explained: “The next store you see will probably give a bit more to kitchen and bath but, as you know it’s not a big category for us. We’ll have a very narrow range of kitchen and bath that will deliver exactly what we want strategically.” Under Home Retail Group’s ownership Homebase had invested a lot in its kitchen offer and big-

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