Homebase outlines modernisation plan as B&Q bolsters sales

Homebase plans to modernise its business with the roll out a new store concept, multichannel improvements and an emphasis on exclusive brands such as Habitat to differentiate itself in a declining market as rival B&Q arrests decline in sales.

Homebase to modernise stores, brands and multichannel.

B&Q reported a 4% drop in like-for-like sales in the three months to 27 October, an improvement on the 6 per cent fall it reported in the first half of the year.

Outlining Home base’s modernisation strategy yesterday (28 November) at its recently refurbished store in Ruislip, CEO Paul Loft said it had to find new ways to stand out in a declining market, because there is no sign that the economic backdrop will “dramatically improve”. The DIY market declined around 3 per cent this year. Homebase reported a 6 per cent year on year fall in sales in the six months to 1 September.

Homebase is starting the roll out of a new concept store which aims to combine its traditional DIY range with a more “John-Lewis style” department store feel to its home furnishings and interiors ranges.

The store format is part of the chain’s efforts to shift its focus from “functional” to “emotional” and target a female audience rather than its previous explicitly male focused DIY positioning.

Jo Kenrick, Homebase marketing director, told Marketing Week that the opportunity for future growth and profit comes more from this side of the business than from DIY.

More than 100 stores will receive a full overhaul and a further 200 will have a partial refit to incorporate new features such as an interactive “inspiration area” that includes a digital room planning tool. Homebase plans to close around 40 stores in the next five years.

Its first concept story opened in Kent a year ago and has registered a 20 per cent sale uplift since the refurbishment.

Loft admitted that the chain has not done enough on multichannel and is working to address the “lack of connectivity” between stores and online to create a more “consistent” experience for shoppers. It will also improve its online advice and information with more ‘how-to’ guides and services.

Homebase is also ramping up marketing support of the Habitat brand which it acquired last year, in a “two pronged approach” that will see marketing for the brand within Homebase activity as well as standalone brand marketing.

It has opened the first mini-habitat store in store at its Ruislip store in west London and will use the site and three further shop in shops to identify additional opportunities to grow the Habitat brand.

Loft says: “In a world of total price transparency, exclusive brands are a differentiator for Homebase. Habitat is the most important of those.”

B&Q recently appointed Karmarama to handle its advertising and is expected to take a similar approach to target a more female focussed audience and move towards more interior design led position.

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