Homebase to focus on decorating

Published:  13 September, 2011

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

The chain, owned by Home Retail Group, said this week 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.

Paul Loft, managing director said it was aiming to capture former Focus DIY and differentiate itself more clearly from B&Q, which also aims to appeal to trades people.

"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 refurbished 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."

The revamp will be funded from within Home Retail's existing £150m annual capital spending. It will upgrading around 150 mezzanine floors at a cost of about 500 000 pounds apiece to improve 'big ticket' areas of spending over three years

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

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