Kingfisher chief executive Véronique Laury may be confident that Bunnings poses no threat to B&Q or the DIY landscape when it takes over the Homebase chain from Home Retail Group, but we are not as confident.
Of all the retail sectors, DIY is one of the less dynamic in the UK. The stores are uninspiring, the formats are stayed and there has been little to get excited about online either. In store standards are poor, ranges can be random and price positioning is weak against online competitors.
This has been the state of play for as long as 10 years and given the choice, we know that the UK customer is up for a change as demonstrated in grocery with the entry of the German discounters.
In short, we are eager to see a shake-up of the UK’s DIY landscape and we believe Bunnings is just the business to do it.
Bunnings is an Australian DIY specialist operating out of big box formats as well as smaller formats and trade centres, so it has the confidence and experience to rock trade DIY retailers Screwfix and Wickes as well as B&Q.
Coming in to run the UK operation is Australia’s Chief Operating Officer. No, he doesn’t know the UK market and right there is the advantage: no baggage, no preconceptions, a blank sheet. Isn’t it about time that the model is deconstructed and re-examined? Wesfarmers, the owners of the Bunnings facia, did just that with Coles in Australia and turned a loss making retailer into a market leader.
With the operational excellence it can bring, confidence to try new formats and ranges, Bunnings could definitely attract the attention of the UK customer. There has been talk of BBQ’s in the carparks as a gimmick to attract customers, but so what if it is a gimmick. Gimmicks attract attention. If that is followed up with an exceptional shopping experience, it will have worked.
Kingfisher have little to worry about in the very short term as a re-brand and strategic review takes time, but a year from now, 3 years from now, we are excited about what the DIY landscape could look like.