One of the biggest stories in UK DIY right now is Bunnings’ takeover of Homebase. But as Bunnings prepares its UK assault, we’ve taken a look at what else is going on in the world of DIY – both in the UK and abroad.
Before moving away from the subject of Bunnings, it’s interesting to note the recent observations made by Bunnings Australia about spikes in its website traffic coinciding with the release of Aldi Australia’s Special Buys. If Bunnings’ swift response to the threat of competitor deals in Australia is replicated here, it should prove a worthy new player against the old guard.
B&Q reopened its Cribbs Causeway store in June 2016 following a complete overhaul of the design. It’s one of four new ‘big box’ concept stores that parent Kingfisher Group plans to open in Europe.
Cribbs Causeway features a logo which now uses the same font as B&Q’s sister company, Castorama (Kingfisher’s Continental DIY chain) and has introduced a bold orange fascia. Inside, it features a light, modern café and the whole visitor experience seems softer than a typical DIY store, with, for example, tiled boards to better display tile options to customers. The store also sells some items from Castorama as Kingfisher looks to strengthen its offer at B&Q.
Our view: Making the DIY shopping experience more engaging seems like the right direction of travel for B&Q, as consumers become more knowledgeable about and demand more from interior design.
Getting closer to customers
IKEA is set to expand its reach in the UK with the rollout of smaller format IKEA Order & Collection Point stores. Whilst largely an order and collection hub for IKEA products, IKEA says they will also offer, “free specialized home furnishings advice and support…” and feature IKEA Cafés and Swedish Food Markets.
Its first UK city centre IKEA Order & Collection Point store will open in Birmingham in summer 2016, and its first in a shopping centre, in London Westfield Stratford City, also in summer 2016.
IKEA started trialing the Order & Collection Point format in the UK outside of city centres last year, the first of which opened in Norwich in November 2015. A second opened in Aberdeen in May 2016.
Our view: IKEA is known for its affordable style but to date, its success in the UK has been limited by its ability to find sites for and to build its large stores. But the Order & Collection Point format is a game-changer when it comes to access to IKEA goods.
Selling a service, not just a product
Design Your Living is a new store concept, launched in Stockholm, in June 2016, by Swedish DIY chain Byggmax Group. It differs from a more traditional homeware / DIY store in that it provides customers with a free interior design service. It also offers home delivery as well as labour for construction. It’s said to be targeted specifically at time-poor 30+ year-olds who are interested in design.
The brand prides itself on helping with everything from small details to full refurbs and there are plans to take the concept beyond Sweden.
Our view: Against the backdrop of the UK’s ‘Do It For Me’ generation, this concept could have legs amongst a niche customer base in the UK too. It apparently empowers customers, allowing them to remain in the driving seat whilst holding their hand throughout the process; something that some customers will be willing to pay for.
TreeHouse is a Texas-based home improvement store, which prides itself on offering more sustainable solutions to customers. Like a Whole Foods Market of DIY. For example, TreeHouse recently announced it had become the first and only North American retailer to sell Romabio, a paint brand based on minerals as opposed to being derived from petroleum. Its products are scored on criteria such as health, performance, corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Having opened its fist store in 2011, it is on track to open a second store in the US in 2017 and has secured funding which should help to accelerate its future expansion.
Our view: An ethical DIY retailer is niche but there are indications that such a concept might one day work in the UK in the not-too-distant future. For example, homes are now given an energy rating and looking at other industries, ethical goods are increasingly creeping into shoppers’ baskets – for example, in the food industry.