The news that Bunnings UK managing director Peter (PJ) Davis will take a three-month break to return to Australia this month was initially met with shock but the move was apparently always on the on the cards.
The company has been surprised by the industry’s reaction to the announcement, as the time-out was pre-planned and allows Mr Davis to return to Australia to spend time with family. A statement released publicly confirms that Mr Davis "will be taking three-months' leave starting mid-January".
While some in the news have speculated that the decision is due to poor performance and losses in the UK business, placing a question mark over Mr Davis’ future, the company has quashed these rumours and said Mr Davis is simply keen to return home for a short period, adding that “he will be back”.
Wesfarmers Group chief operating officer, Mr Davies re-located to the UK to head up Homebase when the Australian home improvement giant acquired the business from Home Retail Group in February 2016. He was appointed managing director Bunnings UK & Ireland that year and has been tasked with transforming the chain and launching a Bunnings proposition in the British market but had already spent a significant amount of time in the UK researching the business and planning a strategy ahead of the takeover nearly two years ago.
Former B&Q retail director Damian McGloughlin, who was brought on board in June, will step into the breach as acting managing director in Mr Davis’ absence. He will be assisted by Homebase trading and commercial manager David Haydon, who will step up as acting chief operating officer for the period.
Meanwhile, the store roll-out progeramme has continued at a pace, with the biggest Warehouse yet opening in Greater Manchester today and Bunnnings opening its first small-format store in Bicester in December. Other planned openings for 2018 have also been announced, including its smallest Warehouse to date in Walton-on-Thames.