Thursday, August 31, 2017

News: Bunnings measuring up for new Rotherham store

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Australian firm, Bunnings, one of the world's leading retailers of home improvement and outdoor living products, is planning to makeover a large empty unit in order to open a new store in Rotherham.

The 51,000 sq ft retail warehouse at the Northfields Retail Park was formerly occupied by B&Q but has been vacant since June 2016.

Rothbiz reported last month that in order to help find new tenants, planning permission was secured to subdivide the unit and open up the potential uses of the site that were restricted by the initial outline planning applications.

Now it appears that these plans have been shelved and a new bulky goods retailer is set to move in. Plans submitted to Rotherham Council for new signage show that the unit would become a Bunnings Warehouse.

Plans show the retailer will get to work to "completely refurbish the store" and that the plans for the unit "will secure its reuse, new local employment and a new quality home improvement offer for Rotherham."

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Keen to climb up the ladder in the £38 billion a year UK home improvement and gardening market, the Australian firm acquired the struggling Homebase chain in February 2016 for £340m. The company, part of the AUS$66 billion turnover Wesfarmers Group, announced plans to invest up to £500m rolling out the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK and Ireland over the next three to five years.

Selling leading brands at warehouse prices, the UK stores sell over 30,000 lines including DeWalt, Ryobi, Irwin Tools and Johnstone's Trade, as well as Purdy and Harris.

The stores, which typically employ between 50 and 90 staff, include team members who are ex-plumbers, electricians, builders, landscape gardeners and painter & decorators, with experts "owning their own aisle."

Currently operating five stores in the UK, in June, Bunnings announced that it would expand its pilot program, and will have 15 to 20 stores by the end of 2017 – up to twice as many as previously expected.

If the deal for the Rotherham property is confirmed it will be the first Bunnings Warehouse in Yorkshire, and indeed, North of Milton Keynes.

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PJ Davis, managing director of Bunnings UK & Ireland, said: "Our decision to extend the pilot programme reflects the positive reaction we've seen from customers to the stores we've opened so far.

"Increasing the number of pilot stores to 20 will give us the opportunity to test the concept in new geographies, with different demographics, across a range of store sizes.

"We are determined to combine the best of Bunnings Warehouse with what UK consumers want. The success of the pilots still remains a precursor to additional investment."

Having only opened in 2009 after relocating from nearby Thornhill, the B&Q at Northfields closed under plans by the owner, Kingfisher plc to "transform its offer" to customers. The store at Cortonwood in Rotherham remains open. Homebase previously operated at the nearby Parkgate Shopping before closing in 2011.

Bunnings UK website

Images: Bunnings


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