The first Bunnings Warehouse store in the UK opened today (Thursday February 2) in St Albans.
The pilot store is on the site of the former Homebase at Griffiths Way in the Hertfordshire town.
The debut venture is being billed as ‘a major step’ towards establishing the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK.
Bunnings is a leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products in Australia and New Zealand. It acquired the 270-strong Homebase chain for £340 million last February.
The company, part of Australia’s Wesfarmers Group, plans to invest up to £500 million rolling out the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK and Ireland over the next three to five years.
The St Albans store is 67,000sq ft and employs 68 people - almost double the workforce of the previous Homebase store. A third of staff are aged over 50, and include former plumbers, painters, electricians and landscape gardeners.
The store stocks more than 30,000 home and garden lines – a 40% increase compared with the average Homebase.
Key suppliers include Brabantia, Smeg, Vileda, Philips, Keter, Hoover, Karcher, Spear & Jackson, Osram, AEG, Evergreen, Stanley, 3M, Duracell, Makita, Yale, Bosch, Werner, Harris, Energiser, Mira, Graham & Brown and Franks.
Product categories are tools, painting & decorating, garden, outdoor living, building & hardware, storage & cleaning, lighting & electrical, kitchen, bathroom, plumbing.
The kitchen category comprises fitted kitchens and appliances from brands such as Bosch, Neff, Stoves, Belling, Kit & Kaboodle, CDA, Matix, Smeg and Falmec.
The store offers a timber cutting service, a tool shop featuring brands including Ryobi and DeWalt and a ‘colour wall’ with over 3,000 colour tiles, as well as paint mixing from Johnstone's Trade, Crown and Dulux.
There is also a 19,000sq ft garden centre, a dedicated DIY workshop area where the whole family can learn skills from wallpaper hanging to tile cutting, a café and an indoor children’s playground.
To celebrate the opening, Peter ‘PJ’ Davis, managing director of Bunnings UK and Ireland, cooked breakfast for staff at the chain’s signature fundraising ‘Sausage Sizzle’.
He said: “It’s great to be able to give people a taste of what Bunnings is all about. Our policy is to offer customers the lowest prices, the widest range and best service, and hopefully our first pilot store demonstrates that. I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who helped get us to this momentous day.
He added that a second Bunnings Warehouse store on Hatfield Road in S. Albans will open in April “and we are on track to have at least four pilots up and running by the summer. We are laying strong foundations on which to build the Bunnings Warehouse business in the UK and Ireland for generations to come.”
Store manager Andy Kenwrick said: “The team has worked incredibly hard over the past three months to transform the store. They’ve had more than 3,000 hours training on everything from timber and key cutting to product knowledge and health and safety. We’ve even trained our own baristas for the café. Now we just can’t wait to get started.”
Former England Rugby Union scrum-half Kyran Bracken MBE, a member of the England squad that won the World Cup in 2003 and now 1st Team coach at St Albans School, joined the opening celebrations.
He said: “It’s great that Bunnings, which is such an iconic business in Australia, has chosen St. Albans as the location for its first two stores in the UK and Ireland. I’m sure they will be a huge success.”