Masters Opens First Store in Braybrook

After a two year wait, Masters opened the first of a planned 150 stores in Braybrook on September 1. Media personnel, including the Australian Hardware Journal, were treated to a sneak preview two days earlier, with a tradies day squeezed in prior to the official launch.

The store covers 13,500m2 and, according to Masters, carries more than 35,000 SKUs. Bookending the store is a dedicated Trade warehouse with drive-through and an outdoor Garden nursery, with Landscaping, Plumbing, Bathroom, Kitchen & Appliances, Flooring, Wall & Window Décor, Doors & Windows, Hardware, Lighting & Electrical, Paint, Tools and Homewares, Storage & Cleaning categories spread across the floor inside. As will be the case in all but the smallest Masters stores, a McDonald’s counter and seating area is situated in one corner, with community service groups still able to host sausage sizzles outside.

An array of indoor plants just inside the entrance add colour, and aisles are wide, with shelves neatly stacked (prior to the official opening, at least). The job of facing up stock will be the responsibility of Masters employees rather than vendor refill agents.

A Masters spokesperson said their ‘exam question’ was ‘What do customers want?’ rather than ‘How can we maximise profit?’ As a result, brands on display include a mix of the well-known and rarely – or never – seen in the Australian market. Some market leading brands have small or non-existent presences.

As with Lowe’s in America, large heating/air-conditioning units pump out climate-controlling air from the ceiling, and the whitegoods offering is far more extensive than you’ll find in Bunnings. The colouring and merchandising is also reminiscent of what you’d see in a Lowe’s store. Glossy concrete floors are light and clean – something that will no doubt deteriorate as foot traffic increases. And staff members participate in very North American team bonding ‘cheers’ (Give me an ‘M’, give me an ‘A’… ). Masters’ pricing policy will mirror that of Bunnings’ ‘Every Day Lowest Prices’. And like Bunnings, Masters pledges to discount prices by 10% if items are found cheaper elsewhere.

They’ve also promised to offer better service. Customers can summon staff, for example, via call buttons when counters have been left unmanned. Paint buyers will be issued with buzzers during busy times to let them know when their colour is mixed. A free glass and Perspex-cutting service is not expected to add to the bottom line but is hoped will entice customers into the store. Interest-free finance is available on large purchases and delivery services are offered with the promise of being fulfilled within 48 hours.

IMG_0043