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Homebase to do itself up and focus on decorating

Homebase, Britain's second-biggest home improvements retailer behind Kingfisher's B&Q chain, plans to step up its focus on decorating and services as it battles to win share in a struggling marketplace.

The chain, owned by Home Retail Group, said on Monday it was launching a range of own-brand interior decorating products called Home of Style and it would test new product areas like carpets, as well as offering services such as painting and decorating and lawn maintenance.

Managing Director Paul Loft said it was aiming to capture former customers of Focus DIY, which collapsed earlier this year, and differentiate itself more clearly from B&Q, which also aims to appeal to tradesmen.

"We believe this business has got clear recovery potential," he said on a tour of a store in Aylesford, southeast of London, which has been rebuilt following an arson attack in May 2010.

"Some of that is contingent on the marketplace and the economy, obviously. But ... we're developing new ways of investing in the business that means when the change in the economy comes we will be well-placed and we should be able to grow significantly."

Many retailers, particularly those focussed on "big ticket" areas of spending and kitchens and bathrooms, have been hit hard as shoppers cut back amid rising prices, muted wages growth, government austerity and a fragile housing market.

Homebase last week reported a 3.1 percent fall in second-quarter sales from stores open over a year.

Spokesman Chris Hermann said the chain's revamp would be funded from within Home Retail's existing 150 million pounds a year of capital spending.

It will include improving ranges, like mirrors, across its 342 stores in Britain and Ireland, and upgrading around 150 mezzanine floors focussed on "big ticket" areas of spending over three years at a cost of about 500,000 pounds apiece.

Full store upgrades will require more experimentation, Loft said, adding Homebase had hired design consultant Dalzell and Pow to help it refurbish a store in Maidenhead, west of London, which will be completed around spring 2012.

Source : Mark Potter - Reuters

12 September 2011
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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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