Woolworths Sites Revealed

Victoria looks set to be the staging point in the much anticipated battle for market share in Australia’s $24 billion hardware industry. Documents filed with Victoria’s Planning Ministry earlier this year suggest that Woolworths intends to spend $400 million establishing the first 12 stores of its new joint venture with US partner Lowe’s.

Woolworths ‘Project Oxygen’, the code name used by the grocery retailer in its move into hardware, hopes to be operating 150 stores around Australia within five years in a bid to tackle Bunnings’ stranglehold. The plans confirm rumours that each store would occupy more than 13,000 square metres split into general retail (60%), trade and garden (17 per cent each) areas. It is estimated that each store will cost around $13 million, excluding land and lease costs.

The stores are tipped to be named ‘Masters’, using a trademark logo of a capital ‘M’ inside a circle. The first store is expected to open in Coolaroo, an expanding suburb in Melbourne’s north, in 2011. The land is owned by the Pratt family company, Visa.

The sites for the first 12 stores are Bendigo, Burnside, Carrum Downs, East Hawthorn, Geelong, Knoxfield, Mornington, Preston, South Morang, South Oakleigh and Wendouree, as well as Coolaroo. An additional 35 sites have been secured around the country. Last August, Woolworths and Lowe’s launched a successful takeover of local buying group Danks Holdings, which has supplier relationships with close to 600 Home Timber & Hardware, Thrifty-Link Hardware and Plants Plus stores, as well as more than 900 other independent retailers. By the November 11 closing date, the joint venture had secured acceptances for 96.2% of Danks’ shares. Graeme Danks, Danks’ managing director, spoke of the benefits of the merger at a dinner for suppliers at Melbourne’s Crown Towers on April 14. “The merger will reduce finance and internal supply costs. It will also bring greater resources, improved retail insights and strategies, increased volume and buying efficiencies that will translate to retail, and better supply chains.” Danks also promised to make an announcement “soon” about new store locations and consolidations of distribution centres that will be bigger than existing ones. Danks general manager of operations, Con Dekazos, continued the theme by saying that a significant benefit Home Timber and Hardware members can enjoy is the global buying power delivered by the company’s partnership with Woolworths and Lowe’s.

“Our partnership with Woolworths and Lowes provides global sourcing, to deliver potential supply and cost advantages to our members. Together with improved access to innovative supply chain systems and best practice retail solutions, our aim is that retailers will be able to provide the best products and most competitive pricing for their local markets,” he said.
Better by BIGA

Buyers Independent Group Australia (BIGA) staged their Trade Expo and Conference in Adelaide from March 25-27. The event, held at the Intercontinental Hotel and Adelaide Convention Centre, was attended by the BIGA member base from around Australia, along with trade exhibitors who were specially invited to participate.

After a relaxing Adelaide tour or round of golf at The Grange’s famous East course, a cocktail party at the Intercontinental Hotel wound up the opening day. Forty-three plumbing, timber and hardware suppliers then exhibited their wares during the Trade Expo, held on the Friday at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Suppliers in attendance included Hume Doors, Gainsborough and Decina Bathroomware. That night, a gala dinner and presentation night was held in the Intercontinental Hotel ballroom, where the theme for the evening was ‘Bling’. The 200 members and suppliers who attended got into the swing of things, with many sporting humorous outfits.

A highlight of the night was suppliers vying for special ‘Excellent Achievement’ awards, presented by BIGA for performance during the previous 12 months. BIGA is the only buying group that conducts a Supplier Performance Measurement, set against standards for delivery, supply, products quality and sales representation, among other factors. To achieve the Excellence Award, a supplier needs to be evaluated as a ‘Gold’ supplier, which many managed, as well as achieving sales growth greater than 10% over the previous year.

The BIGA 2010 award went to Decina Bathroomware. A further five Excellence Awards were presented to Architectural Designer Products (bathroomware); Rheem Australia (plumbing); Everhard Industries, Emro Products and Stramit Building Products (plumbing/building Materials). The BIGA Conference concluded on Saturday morning with a members-only session, where BIGA representatives were able to outline the progress of the group, as well as launch the new branding direction known as BIGA+.