NEWS NEWS IN BRIEF
n The BRC – Google Online Retail Monitor for Q2 2018 reported a 29% increase for year on year growth of mobile searches for home and garden products. Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson OBE commented: “The scorching summer sun has inevitably meant that online searches for home and garden products - like barbeques and garden furniture - were among the top search terms across Europe and beyond. n Shoppers are spending more online than ever this year, as internet retail records a 16.8% year-on- year growth during H1, with garden one of the top-performing categories. The figure is the highest growth rate for the trading period in eight years and the average basket value of £94 is the highest since records began, according to the Capgemini IMRG eRetail Sales Index. n LadderLimb and Fix- A-Floor are the latest DIY companies to sign up as members of the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA). BHETA director Paul Grinsell said: “Both these products are relatively new entrants to the UK market and are the result of creative thinking, backed with extensive testing and proving in the market. It’s great to have the originators and backers of such innovative, award- winning products on board and able to share their experience.” n Commercial horticultural nursery Johnsons of Whixley is trailing a new type of plant pot that is detectable by recycling centres, to help lead the fight against plastic waste in the industry. Johnsons’ new cream-coloured plant pots are detectable by waste separation systems, which mean they can be put back into the recycling stream. They are distinct from standard pots, which feature a carbon pigment that compromises recognition, and results in millions of pots ending up in landfill every year. n The online tile retailer’s chairman Mo Iqbal revealed plans for 15 physical showrooms within the UK, following the success of its two branches in Stoke and Manchester.
4 DIY WEEK 10 AUGUST 2018
Hot weather sees in-store seasonal sales drop off
Despite some initial spikes early on in the summer season, sales of non-food goods in store struggled in July, as the heat kept shoppers away from the high street. There were still strong sales of fans and cooling equipment during the period but figures from the latest BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor revealed that, over the three months to July, in-store sales of non-food items declined 1% on a total basis and 2.4% on a like-for-like basis.
Food sales, on the other hand, had a record month, proving that consumers’ minds were elsewhere. However, as the non-food figure is still higher than the
12-month total average decline of 2.5% and is the best total three- month average since June 2017. With soaring temperatures
across the UK, it seems internet retail was a more attractive prospect for many, with online sales of non-food products up 7.5% in July, against a growth of 8.3% in July 2017.
The online penetration rate also increased from 22.4% in July 2017 to 24.1% in July 2018. BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said:
month’s sweltering temperatures kept shoppers focussed on eating, drinking and keeping cool. Food sales had their best July in five years, while fans and cooling equipment flew off the shelves.”
Blue Diamond to take on eight Wyevale centres
Wyevale Garden Centres (WGC) has agreed the sale of eight of its largest garden centres to Alan Roper’s 21-strong Blue Diamond chain. Blue Diamond, currently
UK’s third biggest garden centre operator, will expand its portfolio further with the acquisition of Wyevale’s Bicester, Cadbury, Cardiff, Endsleigh, Melbicks, Percy Thrower›s, Sanders and Weybridge centres.
Blue Diamond has already
grown its business significantly with acquisitions of independent garden centre operators, including Grosvenor Garden Centre,
most recently, Orchard Park. Managing director Alan Roper
commented on the deal: “We are delighted to be acquiring these fantastic centres. Over the next three years we plan to invest £16million to remodel and transform them into destination centres modelled around our Redfields Garden & Living Centre in Hampshire,
and our Blue Polhill and,
Diamond Garden and Home store near Nottingham. We look forward to working with our new colleagues across the centres
She continued: “However, total sales growth slowed as the heat laid bare the underlying weakness in consumer spending. Sales of non-food products
struggled – three
months into an extended period of summer weather, demand for many seasonal purchases has slowed while the heat has kept shoppers away from days spent browsing new ranges.
“For many in the industry, Autumn could not come sooner. “Although the weather generates a shift in month-to- month spending, trend growth remains very low by historical standards. Physical stores have been particularly affected by pressures on consumers while
and welcoming them into the Blue Diamond family.”
In separate transactions, WGC has also agreed the sale of two further centres in Alfold and Binfield, to Q Developments and Spitfire Bespoke Homes respectively, as well as the sale of a parcel of excess land adjacent to its Beaconsfield centre to Oakford Homes. As the UK’s largest garden
centre chain, WGC operated 145 centres across the UK. Discussions on the sale to Blue Diamond and the individual centre sales started before the appointment of Christie & Co to explore offers for all or part of the remaining WGC business and that process is continuing. WGC has received a significant number of offers for all or part of the remaining WGC business from national, regional and financial operators as well as local entrepreneurs.
Homebase to close over 60 stores and axe 1,000 jobs
It has been reported that, following the sale of the home improvement and garden chain for just £1 by former owner Wesfarmers, Homebase looks set to close around a quarter of its 249 stores.
A story posted by Sky News and picked up by other national press outlets suggested thaht an announcement next week would confirm closures of more than 60 Homebase stores. Sky
news reported: “The
number of stores to be axed was still being finalised on Wednesday (August 8), with a range of 50 to 80 shops thought to include 18 which have already been closed in recent months.
“If it is at the top end of that range, the closure programme
will represent almost one third of Homebase’s estate. “The
precise number of
jobs that will be lost was also unclear, with analysts speculating that it was likely to be between 1,000 and 1,500, roughly 10% of Homebase’s 11,000-strong workforce.” The news comes just a month after the chain was bought by restructuring specialist Hilco Capital.
Just days after the deal was
revealed, Homebase announced that it was cutting more than 300 jobs from its head office in Milton Keynes.
Editor in chief of money.co.uk
, Hannah Maundrell commented: “Sadly this isn’t the beginning of redundancies
in the retail
sector this year and I doubt it will be the end. Shoppers habits are changing, purse strings are tightening and our reluctance to pay full price becomes more problematic for stores.” DIY Week contacted Homebase but the company said it was not issuing statements at this time.
costs borne by retailers have continued to rise. Over the last year, in-store sales of non-food products fell 2.5%, at the same time as business rates bills increased nearly 3%.”
She concluded that the tough trading environment was made more difficult by rising rates: “Although changing consumer behaviour means we will have fewer shops in future, the reality is that if we want to support a positive reinvention of our high streets, business rates cannot go on increasing.”
Pets at Home delivers good start to the year
The pet products chain said it was “on track” to deliver its plan for the year, as it posted sales growth of nearly 7% forQ1, with like-for-like (LFL) sales up 5.3%, boosted by investment in digital initiatives. Group revenue, including Pets at Home’s vet business, increased 8.1% to £277.4million for the 16 weeks ended July 19, compared with the same period last year. Retail
revenue growth was up 6.9% to £245million, including omni-channel
grew 47.3% to £19.1million. The recent heatwave meant Pets at Home has seen a surge of popularity for pet cooling products, such as travel water bowls and doggy paddling pools. Sales over the Early May Bank holiday weekend alone accounted for 25% of the cooling products sold so far this year. The rise in temperatures saw total sales of pet cooling products surge 447% compared to the previous cooler weekend. Pet owners flocked to buy doggy paddling pools and cooling mats, with sales up 1239% and 516% respectively, compared with the previous weekend. The retailer
has also sold
tens of thousands of pet water bottles so far this year; including thousands over the first May Bank holiday weekend alone. Retail like-for-like revenue
growth was up 5.3% and the retailer says it continues to strengthen its
to competitive levels. Pets at Home’s overall price gap with other online retailers has halved in the past 18 months.
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