Wesfarmers has flown in its chairman Michael Chaney, who will tour the company’s Homebase and Bunnings stores in the UK in an effort to determine what is going wrong.
Chaney will be joined by retail turnaround expert and Marks & Spencer chairman Archie Norman, as the pair analyse why the Australian group’s foray into the UK retail market and ongoing takeover of Homebase has been so costly.
After purchasing Homebase in 2016 for £340 million, Wesfarmers has been pushing to rebrand the 200-store estate into its Australian Bunnings fascia.
The British retail landscape has taken its toll on the company though, having reported losses more than tripled to £100 million last year.
Earlier this month Wesfarmers brought in banking firm Lazard to help it find a buyer for the business.
It is understood that Norman, who chairs Lazard’s London operations, initially advised Wesfarmers against the acquisition of Homebase, warning the transition from Homebase to Bunnings would be difficult.
Wesfarmers is looking increasingly keen to offload its troubled assets and accompanying £1 billion rent bill, having already announced the potential closure of up to 40 stores to ease losses.
Last week it was revealed that numerous buyers including Hilco, Endless, Lion Capital and even discount retailer B&M are considering putting forward an offer for the embattled DIY firm.