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Homebase could explore small format stores in high streets

Published: 15 August 2019 - Fiona Garcia
CEO Damian McGloughlin says Homebase is in a period of growth and looking for new opportunities
CEO Damian McGloughlin says Homebase is in a period of growth and looking for new opportunities

CEO Damian McGloughlin says 'nothing is off the table', from testing small-format outlets, to opening new stores in cities where existing Homebase branches have closed, as he hones his vision for Homebase and Bathstore.

Speaking exclusively to DIY Week, Mr McGloughlin shared his thoughts on the future of Homebase, as the retailer’s turnaround programme delivers on target and the business works to integrate its latest acquisition, Bathstore.

“The business has turned around dramatically in the past 18 months – the team has done a fantastic job,” said Mr McGloughlin, adding that Homebase is now set for growth and the board is looking at opportunities “based on what will sit with the Homebase customer type”.

Homebase has already introduced a number of concessions into its stores to help enhance its offer, including Tapi, Ponden Furniture, Silentnight and, most recently, AHF Furniture and Carpets, Denby, and Bedeck.

The acquisition of bathroom specialist Bathstore at the end of June looks set to further expand the collection of what Mr McGloughlin describes as “complimentary concessions”.

Plans are afoot to introduce Bathstore into Homebase stores in a number of different forms, from a branded presence in the home improvement retailer’s bathroom offer in smaller stores, up to a shop-within-a-shop concept in larger Homebase outlets.

Homebase took control of Bathstore’s website, as well as 44 stores, when the bathroom retailer entered administration this summer. Mr McGloughlin explains that they are now working closely with landlords to secure the right deals for stores, as they explore the potential for some of these sites to house a small-format Homebase

With 70 loss-making Homebase stores set to close by the end of the year as part of an ongoing review of the estate, Mr McGloughlin said: “I think we’ve got the right-sized stores now. 40,000-45,000sq ft is the right size for me. But we could also test smaller stores in smaller locations like high streets.”

He added: “If we are very clear about what we are and our proposition, it might be that the smaller format is a decorating shop or even a small kitchen shop. I don’t know at this stage – it’s all on the table. It’s my vision and I’m still shaping it.”

Looking at ways to grow the business further, Mr McGloughlin - who joined the retailer in 2017 as COO before Bunnings' parent, Wesfarmers sold Homebase to Hilco - said he sees potential for new Homebase stores in a number of geographical locations that don’t currently host a branch. Equally, he believes there is scope to return to some regions where Homebase has closed an unprofitable store. “We would look at putting a Homebase into one of the Bathstore sites… But, if not, there’s lots of retail space out there. There are big cities with opportunities for us to go back but in a better location.”

Read the full interview in the September 6 issue of DIY Week.

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