A sign of the change; time to wave goodbye to Homebase

Over the years, we have seen a number of the most well-known UK high street stores become no-more. Back in January 2009 one of the UK’s most loved stores, Woolworths, closed its last door and in doing so saw 26,000 employees lose their jobs. Woolworths is just one of the more prolific examples, others in recent years also includes Blockbusters, Zavvi and of course most recently British Home Stores (BHS). The closing of BHS sent shockwaves through both consumer and financial markets having long been considered a monarch of the British high street. When it closed its doors for the last time on the 20th of August 2016, an estimated 13,000 people saw their employment come to an end. Changes to the UK economy in the last few decades have resulted in a great deal of change for consumers and businesses alike and as we have already discussed, resulted in some of our favourite retailers becoming no more. With the Brexit vote decided and the UK beginning proceedings to separate itself from Europe, it will be ‘interesting’ to see what other large scale changes to the ‘classic’ British high street are around the corner.

One arguably positive change to the UK high street in the year 2017 is that of a brand-new homewares store, opening up and down the country from this month. As reported today in the Daily Mail, one of our most recognised homeware brands is being replaced. The retailer in question is Homebase and as of today, the first store of the group is being transformed into a Bunnings. The first store to be re-opened under the new brand is situated in St Albans and throughout the remainder of the year all of Homebase’s remaining 257 stores will be re-branded as the Australian retailer Bunnings. Unlike the retailers which closed entirely as mentioned at the start of this article, Homebase has undergone a buy-out and as such sees an expansion for consumers and employees alike. This means more jobs and better deals for you and me.

Bunnings is a massive brand in Australian and was first set-up over 100 years ago, and its origins are actually that of two British brothers who migrated to Australia 130 year years ago from Southampton. Today in Australia alone they have 50,000 employees and have long been known as a retailer able to provide superb customer service and care. An interesting fact about the Company is that as of 2015 they allowed customers to bring their pets into store. In addition every week, on a Saturday typically, they hold what is known as a ‘Sausage Sizzle’ charity event. On these days they have in-house barbeques to raise money for charity. In 2016 alone they sold an estimated 30 million sausage sandwiches during these events. What has become clear even at this early stage is that Bunnings is a retailer focused on delivering great service, great prices and also a truly positive impact for British consumers and the economy. Bunnings has promised to have 6 stores up and running by June of 2017 and following that a nationwide roll-out will commence. With this will come more jobs if their Australian brand is anything to go by. It is also reported they have agreed to pay all their UK staff, under the age of 25, the nation living wage of at least £7.20 per hour.

All of the above suggests that the addition of Bunnings to our British high street will bring some much-needed positivity to our somewhat uncertain future economy. Where this will of course see the end of the Homebase brand as we know it, the reputation of this retailer is nothing short of a positive one and for all of us looking to use such a retailer, this can only be good thing. To date this is one of the largest scale changes we have seen in some years and one of the first of its kind to be of an economy-boosting nature. It will be interesting to see what others unfold in the coming years, whether for the good or the bad. Equally it may become increasingly difficult to determine which of these changes are as a direct or indirect result of Brexit and at this point, it would be fair to say that only time will tell.

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Author: Internal Customer Services Agent