Bunnings has said it plans to invest up to £500 million establishing a new business over 3-5 years in the UK as it powers on with refitting Homebase stores.
According to Property Week, Bunnings – whose Australian parent company Wesfarmers acquired the British DIY chain Homebase for £340 million last year – will also emulate rivals B&Q and Ikea in trialing smaller format stores.
This would see stores ranging from 30,000sq ft to 80,000sq ft open in central city areas as part of the expansion drive, directly targeting the millennial market.
“We would love to have a network of 80,000 sq ft stores, but the reality is not like that,” Bunnings UK managing director Peter Davis said.
“We will be opening Bunnings stores before Christmas to test how that smaller format will work in the UK.
“We are happy to buy property and turn it over as we go through the investment cycle. Our investment (in the UK) in future is going to be quite big.
“We will continue our test, learn and improve approach through our Bunnings pilot store programme in the UK and Ireland, which includes many varied formats, including smaller stores and larger warehouses.”
The news comes as the 256-store Homebase network continues its gradual conversion into Bunnings, with a further 20 stores expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Davis added that the home and DIY retailer would also be seeking warehouse sites between 50,000 and 200,000sq ft in high-footfall areas, having already acquired four new stores since it moved into the UK.
Michael Schneider, the managing director of the Bunnings Group, has also stated that previous reports of 100 stores opening the UK were incorrect.
“We have no current plans for network expansion in the UK,” he said.
“Our absolute priority is on proving up the Bunnings pilot concept and improving execution in the Homebase stores.
“While we will always look to optimise locations of our stores, references to plans for large scale store openings are completely incorrect.”