The first Hombease-Bunnings conversion is complete, with a brand new Bunnings Warehouse – the country's first – opening for business today.
The pilot store, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, has been described as “a major step towards establishing the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK's £38billion-a-year home improvement and garden market.”
The new store in St Albans is 67,000sq ft and employs 68 people, almost double the previous workforce of the Homebase store. A third of the team members are aged over 50, and include former plumbers, painters, electricians and landscape gardeners, as well as other trades people who, says Bunnings, “after extensive training are perfectly placed to offer customers a helping hand and expert advice on any home or garden project.”
The store boasts more than 30,000 difference home and garden lines, an increase of 40% compared to most Homebase stores. Among the features are timber cutting, a new tool shop offering world-leading brands, a 'colour wall' featuring more than 3,000 colour tiles as well as a paint mixing service using Johnstone's Trade, Crown and Dulux paint.
Bunnings St Albans also features a 19,000sq ft garden centre as well as a dedicated DIY workshop area where the whole family can learn skills from wallpaper hanging to tile cutting. The store also has a cafe and an indoor playground.
To celebrate the opening, Bunnings has introduced its fundraising 'Sausage Sizzle' to the UK, with managing director of Bunnings UK and Ireland Peter 'PJ' Davis cooking breakfast for team members. He said, “It's great to be able to give people a taste of what Bunnings is all about.
“Our policy is to offer customers the lowest prices, the widest range and best service, and hopefully our first pilot store demonstrates that. I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who helped get us to this momentous day.”
A second Bunnings Warehouse for St Albans – this time located on Hatfield Road – will open in April, and the store is on track to have at least four pilots up and running by the summer. Mr Davis added, “We are laying strong foundations on which to build the Bunnings Warehouse business in the UK and Ireland for generations to come.”
Complex manager Andy Kenwick said, “The team has worked incredibly hard over the past three months to transform the store. They have had more than 3,000 hours training on everything from timber and key cutting to product knowledge and health and safety. We've even trained our own baristas for the cafe. Now we just can't wait to get started.”
Bunnings, part of the Wesfarmers group, plans to invest up to £500m rolling out the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK over the next three to five years.