Bunnings Warehouse has opened in St Albans, with another to follow, also in St Albans, in April.
This is the Aldi of DIY – a no-frills operation that has a lot more in common with the discount grocer’s ethos than with Homebase, which it replaces.
And while it may look very different from market leader B&Q, there is precedent for this kind of thing. In France.
Across La Manche there is actually a rather more diverse DIY panorama than here in Blighty, and close to the budget end of things are Monsieur Bricolage and Brico Depot, the latter owned by Kingfisher.
Brico Depot is a thing of budget beauty and is not above the occasional in-store demo.
Indeed, a Saturday visit to a branch near Amiens last year revealed a well-built man in a singlet demonstrating, to a crowd of largely female admirers, the benefits of a chainsaw, while behind him a boombox blasted out AC/DC.
It turned a warehouse-style experience – shelves packed and deliberately high with banners across the whole store – into a memory.
It also happened to show how even the most mundane in-store environments can be made interesting with some thought and a muscled show-off.
But back to the UK and Bunnings.
Bunnings has a red-and-black sign against a red background on its exterior, and within the densely merchandised offer is displayed, for the most part, on red metal shelving, all of which is remarkably similar to ‘Brico Depot’.
Why has it taken a Bunnings to bring a Brico Depot (Screwfix notwithstanding, which is an almost entirely different proposition) kind of offering to the UK?
And how will Bunnings match that live demo in Le Havre?
It is also worth commenting that Brico Depot is online in a substantial way. Bunnings will be doing so later this year, apparently.
When all of the brouhaha has died down, will consumers be engaged by the Bunnings proposition as it stands? With a low-cost fit out comes a corresponding expectation about low prices.
The challenge for this new arrival will be satisfying this and perhaps giving shoppers a few reasons, over and above the ticket price, to visit its stores.
St Albans is enjoying a Bunnings spring, but there may be more to DIY life than low prices and a paint mixer.
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