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Homebase 'taking on the specialists' with home design/decorating services

Never mind do it yourself, Homebase says nearly a third of its future trade could come from offering services to shoppers – starting with home decorating and design.

Less than 15% of the home and gardens store's trade currently comes from offering services such as kitchen and bathroom installation, but the company is using a mix of contractors and retrained store staff to start offering home design, decorating and flooring installation.

Paul Loft, the managing director of Homebase, which is part of Home Retail Group, owner of Argos, admitted that offering services was not highly profitable, but said: "We get to sell product and win customer loyalty." He added: "We are taking on the specialists."

Homebase is trying to differentiate itself from rivals such as B&Q and Wickes by offering a more department store-like atmosphere. It has refurbished 15 stores at a cost of £1m each over the past year, putting in concessions for more up-market brands such as Laura Ashley and Habitat, which HRG now owns. Those stores have seen sales lift 20%, offsetting higher costs in terms of staff and shop fittings, so Loft said he wanted to step up the number of refurbishments next year.

There are currently nine mini Habitat stores within Homebase outlets. Loft wants to expand this to up to 100 stores over time.

Source : Sarah Butler -

26 September 2013
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