L-R Directors Gary Wells and Jean Morris with general manager Gary Watts outside the new store set to open next month


Independent builders’ merchant Thompson & Parkes gets set to open its first dedicated DIY retail store this autumn, taking over a prime location on a major road into Stourport. Fiona Garcia reports.

he business has been trading since 1937, established by the Thompson family with town centre shops, but

moved out to its current premises in Overton during the 60s. It also runs a second outlet on a trading estate in Kidderminster. However,

awareness the

business does

and, whilst serve

Worcester and it has its own access road, which is fantastic.” Director Jean Morris tells DIY

Week that Gary has had his eye on the new site – a former wedding shop - for a while, convinced it would

provide a perfect

this has seen brand suffer


customers, as well as trade, its more remote locations meant the Thompson & Parkes isn’t always at the forefront of local consumers’ minds. This all looks set to change with the opening of a new site on the busy Minster Road into Stourport. “As a merchant, we don’t get a high percentage of retail customers,” says general manager Gary Watts. “We were tucked away on an industrial estate and our other depot is out in Overton but the new location is in a prominent position. In fact, we were initially looking to relocate the whole business but to find a roadside 2.5acre site would be quite difficult. The unit we’ve taken over for the retail store is sited on the most congested road in

10 DIY WEEK 23 AUGUST 2019

opportunity for the business in a town that has very few options when it comes to DIY retailers. “There’s nothing in the town at all,” she says. “We’ve been a bit forgotten about, stuck at the back of a trading estate but this should really raise the profile.”

Gary echoes her sentiments:

“There is a massive opportunity for a DIY store in Stourport, as there’s nothing there. On the outskirts, you have Wigleys DIY but customers can’t, for example, buy all the things they would need to build a porch or undertake a major project. There are some garden centres, eight builders’ merchants, a B&Q Extra but that’s more of a garden centre that sells some home improvement bits, plus there’s a Homebase. There’s not a DIY store, as in a proper do-it- yourself retailer.”

Once Thompson & Parkes got its hands on the vacant site and started undertaking major renovation work, the interior offered some pleasant surprises, including a historic timber roof. “The unit had been empty for two years,” explains Gary. “Inside it was all partitioned, so it was hard to understand how much space we had to play with. Once we ripped those out, we realised we had 700 sq m.”

Having gutted the site in

order to completely refurbish the interior, Gary explains why it is so important to create a different shopping environment to that of its other merchant outlets, comparing examples from some of the leading players in the market. “Travis Perkins spends a lot

of money

trying to get shops to look like supermarkets. The big boys would easily drop around £500,000 on a shop fit and we used to say it would look like Dorothy Perkins rather than Travis Perkins.” Gary has a strong background working in the merchant retailing sector, having started out at Autumn Building Supplies – which acquired Thompson & Parkes in 1999 - before spending 11 years at Travis

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