Homebase diversifies with decorating and design services to boost customer loyalty

Homebase is planning to offer customers more free services, such as garden design and home decorating, in a bid to boost customer loyalty and differentiate itself from rivals.

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Currently, just 15 per cent of the firm’s trade comes from services, but Homebase hopes to doubl this in future. Homebase managing director Paul Loft says this should help increase loyalty, although it won’t add much to the company’s bottom line.

He told the Guardian: “We get to sell product and win customer loyalty. We are taking on the specialists.”

The services push is part of wider plans to revamp Homebase’s image and help it stand out in a crowded market. It has already invested in its stores, refitting nine at a cost of £1m each and targeting 15 by the end of the year as part of a five-year programme.

The refit includes adding in concessions for brands such as Laura Ashley and Habitat and training store staff to offer home and garden services.

Loft claims this revamp is paying off, with sales at these stores up 20 per cent. Homebase will now step up its refurbishment programme and up the number of stores with Habitat concessions from nine to 100.

Homebase is outperforming its competitors, with total sales up 9.3 per cent in its most recent results for the 13 weeks to August 31. That compares to a 1.8 per cent decline at B&Q. The warm summer drove up revenues from seasonal products at Homebase, plus early signs of a recovery in the housing market are proving beneficial.

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