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Homebase hoping gardeners will boost sales after 'extreme' spring

MD Paul Loft said the topsy-turvy weather since March had caused Homebase big headaches

DIY giant Homebase is holding its breath after what its boss branded spring the “most extreme” ever.

MD Paul Loft said the topsy-turvy weather since March had caused big headaches.

He told the Daily Mirror: “March was fantastic this year, April was terrible, the first half of May was difficult, but the weather now is making trading much better.

“In June, we have the Jubilee, bank holiday and half term, which could be very good, depending on what the conditions are like.”

Summing up the past few months as a whole, he said: “It’s been the most extreme we’ve witnessed.”

Loft watches the weather forecast more than most, as a massive 45% of its sales between March and May are related to gardens.

Results earlier this month showed Homebase’s profits more than halved in the year to March, down from £47.6million to £22.8m, with sales down 2%.

Profits at parent company Home Retail, which owns catalogue chain store Argos, crashed 60%.

Home Retail, which has warned the year ahead will remain tough, with disposable incomes under pressure and consumer confidence low, has said it wants to hammer out better deals with store landlords.

With housing in the doldrums, Homebase is targeting green-fingered ­shoppers to help snatch a large share of Britain’s £4billion- a-year garden market.

Less than half of the space in stores is now given over to DIY and ­decorating products.

Spending on gardens is forecast to jump 8.7% between 2010 and 2015, with garden centres enjoying nearly half of the plant market.

Large DIY stores have a 20% slice and Homebase, with 334 garden departments, is number two in terms of sales.

In an effort to boost its share, the chain is improving staff training and giving more space to plants and project ideas.

Loft was talking at the Chelsea Flower Show, where Homebase’s garden, which has been designed by Gardeners’ World star Joe Swift, won a gold award.

Source : Graham Hiscott - The Mirror
www.mirror.co.uk/money/city-news/homebase-banking-on-green-fingered-shoppers-to-boost-848095

26 May 2012
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