A new The Range store opened in Maidstone, Kent, today and DIY Week went along to be the first inside.
As part of the company's big expansion plans, the Maidstone store is one of seven that are being opened in a two week period
. Inside, there are DIY, homewares and gardening (both indoor and outdoor) sections.
Store manager Dominic Caffrey-Nouch told diyweek.net that the DIY and gardening sections are the biggest areas in the store.
"We're really excited about our new opening and we're looking forward to serving the customers of the town," he said. "We're expecting it to be really busy and with our peak season during the first four weeks, leading to Christmas, it should be fantastic. This site used to be a Homebase store and a lot of customers know it for that, which could be good for us."
Ed Ashworth, manager of the DIY, gardening and pet care sections, added: "We've got power tools and hand tools; we do pretty much everything. I used to work for Homebase before and it was quite limited in what we did, but here it's got everything. There's always something here to complete a project, that's for sure."
At 9am the Mayor of Maidstone cut the ribbon at the entrance to the store and officially declared it open. A queue of customers formed outside as people were keen to make the most of the one-day offers that were available; the first 15 to 20 people also received a token for a free Kilner clip top jar.
"We're running a special offer for opening and on our furniture deliveries," deputy store manager Melody Perrin told diyweek.net. She also said, commenting on how busy the store was, that she thinks the public are ready to start spending again. "Definitely now the trend is people want to spend their money and with this store having everything for their home, I think they're more inclined to spend on their home than maybe on themselves."
Nearly 100 people have been employed at The Range store and 45 of these are on a full-time basis. The unit was renovated and then in eight days it was filled with products and prepared for its official opening today, which followed a 'soft opening' on Sunday.
On the same Maidstone retail park, there is an Asda Living store, and nearby there is also a Wickes and a B&Q store.