Sausage sizzles are on the menu along with sunflowers and spades after the first Australian-owned Bunnings DIY and garden centre opened in the UK.
Bunnings, which bought Homebase for £340million in 2016, cut the ribbon at its first UK store at St Albans, Hertfordshire, in January 2017.
The converted Homebase features a weekly sausage sizzle in the car park, an idea imported from Down Under, designed to boost community spirit.
In a move that’s set to trigger a price war with rival B&Q, and garden centres, Bunnings has vowed to slash the cost of gardening and plants. Prices range from 47p for a pansy to £500 for a big olive tree.
Bunnings is seeking to be 10 per cent cheaper than rivals. It has increased the number of products available by 40 per cent, compared to Homebase stores.
The store format could roll out to all 260 Homebases over the next five years in a £500million rebrand. Bunnings outlets will have children’s play areas, cafes and plentiful shop assistants, along with a wider range of Aussie staples such as barbecues.
UK managing director Peter ‘PJ’ Davis said that while the Australian market is “home improvement and outdoor living” the UK is about “home improvement and gardening”.
He said: “We know Brits love gardens and research shows they make double the spend on gardening than Australian customers.”
PJ added: “We want to capitalise on that, giving them what they want, with more advanced plants and a lot more landscaping than they would traditionally see.
“The customer is going to have a far wider range to choose from and we’ve pushed into heavier-end landscape products and advanced planting.”
PJ said staff are better trained, with 3,000 hours of training before St Albans re-opened. Staff badges show the training they have completed.
He added that the £38billion DIY/gardening shopping market should improve, predicting that rivals such as B&Q will also invest to keep up.