Australian home and DIY retailer Bunnings Warehouse has opened its first UK store in Hertfordshire, with the 67,000sq ft shop replacing one of St Albans’ previous Homebase stores.
The opening of Bunnings is part of a £500 million investment plan by parent company Wesfarmers, which had acquired Homebase last year in a £340 million deal.
Wesfarmers plans to open at least four pilot Bunnings locations by June, and a total of 10 stores could be achieved by the end of 2017.
As part of its investment plan, Wesfarmers aims to roll out Bunnings – an iconic retail chain in Australia known for its charity “sausage sizzles” – across the UK and Ireland over the next three to five years, rebranding former Homebase stores to the Australian retailer’s banner.
Wesfarmers kept 258 of Homebase’s stores as part of the deal Home Retail Group in February 2016 – before the latter was acquired by Sainsbury’s months later for £1.4 billion.
Wesfarmers is the largest private sector employer in Australia with around 220,000 staff.
“Our policy is to offer customers the lowest prices, the widest range and best service, and hopefully our first pilot store demonstrates that,” Bunnings UK and Ireland managing director Peter Davis said.
The second Bunnings Warehouse store is also earmarked for St Albans – on Hatfield Road – and is poised to open in April.
“We are laying strong foundations on which to build the Bunnings Warehouse business in the UK and Ireland for generations to come,” Davis added.
Bunnings said the inaugural UK site will stock 30,000 different home and garden lines, and include both a 19,000sq ft garden centre and a DIY workshop where customers are coached in home improvement skills like wallpaper hanging and tile cutting.
The store also has a cafe and indoor children’s playground.