Successful Many Times Over

When a family manages to build up an array of highly successful hardware stores, there can be no doubt — they must be doing something right…

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Store: Scurrs Mitre 10 Home & Trade, Mount Gravatt, Brisbane
Principals: Woodman family
Group: Mitre 10

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Scurrs Mitre 10 Home and Trade in Mount Gravatt is the first of eight Queensland stores to be re-branded under the Generation 21 strategy.

Scurrs Mitre 10 Home and Trade is one of eight large Queensland stores owned by the Woodman family. All their stores are Mitre 10 branded, and all will eventually carry Mitre 10’s new Home and Trade or Solutions banners. Scurrs is the first of the family’s stores to be re-branded, setting the scene for a large-scale collection of refurbishments that are designed to maximise the brightness, cleanliness and good value to be found at all their retail premises.

Owners, Garnie Woodman and his sons David and Kerry, purchased Scurrs in 1995. As one of inner Brisbane’s most prominent retail stores, the business has operated on the same site for 92 years, amassing a loyal, multi-generational clientele that holds the Scurrs name in high regard – hence the Woodman’s decision to retain the business name post-1995.

The business has operated on the same site for 92 years

The family’s first foray into the industry occurred in 1952 when Garnie entered the business, making great use of his background in sawmilling. He is still going strong but the day-to-day business affairs are managed by Kerry and David. Kerry, who has accountancy credentials, entered the business in 1977. David (a qualified engineer) joined the team in 1986 after working for many years in the mining industry. So the three company stalwarts have something in common: exposure to businesses outside the hardware industry.

Big Format
Scurrs is a large store by any standards, occupying 2,500 square feet under cover as well as additional outdoor areas for garden products, a timber yard and plentiful parking bays. According to David, the conversion to a Home and Trade outlet, completed just a few months ago, did not involve any infrastructural enhancements; instead the focus was on external livery, changed in-store department placements and an enhanced “shopping experience” for consumers.

Scurrs after the transformation to the Mitre 10 Home & Trade banner

“Apart from building materials, the bathroom products showroom is a strong performer with probably the best displays on the south side of Brisbane, and complemented by knowledgeable staff,” says David. “Since the new store refurbishment our offer across all departments has improved; the big difference is the merchandising and traffic flow.”

Trade since the conversion has jumped by 25% compared to the same time last year. Scurrs is heavily dependent on its dependability, huge range of products and reputation as an easily accessible business. Promotions and advertising activities are very much centred on Mitre 10 strategies rather than on additional store-specific campaigns. “We rely primarily on the Mitre 10 H & T program for retail marketing,” says David.

For example, the store has no promotional website and does not handle on-line sales, though David says he is considering instituting both facilities pending further market analysis. Trade-oriented marketing, on the other hand, is supported by an in-house program for builders, renovators and DIYers. At the moment trade customers account for about 60% of business.

Expanding Market
The main drive behind the recent conversion is therefore to attract increased consumer patronage. Given the size of the store, David says improved lighting has been a key factor helping to showcase product ranges, while improved lower shelf displays have facilitated customer access and product selection. The interior design has also been created with a view to increasing lines of sight between staff and consumers, so help is readily available if required.

The store undergoes the change to a new brand and banner

A lot of attention has been paid to assembling related products in single locations. All fencing and related products, for instance — including timber posts, wire mesh, steel posts, etc. — are kept together to promote package sales. “The new format corresponds well with the expansion of the home improvement market,” he says.

“The introduction of the homebuilders grant has seen housing starts significantly increase. Considerable advances in the market, coupled with the strength of 2001, means there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the industry.

“The DIYers and the building trade have both been major contributors to this significant growth in the home improvement market. DIYers are increasingly tackling home renovations including paving, fencing and kitchen and bathroom projects.”

In fact business has been so brisk that the store’s staff numbers may have to be increased. “In the short term we will continue to fine-tune the store,” says David. “Growth as a result of the recent refurbishment will force expansion at the appropriate time; currently we employ about 45 staff on this site.”

The re-branding transition continues within the store

Now that Scurrs has been refitted as a Home & Trade store, David says he will concentrate on similar reforms at the family’s other outlets in Beenleigh, Brisbane; two Finch’s Hardware stores in Mackay; two stores in Rockhampton and another two in the Whitsunday region.

“Why are we refurbishing all the stores with Mitre 10?” asks David. “For the purchasing power, marketing, store design and general support.” “You’ve really got to reinvest in your stores to keep them modern.”

Story by John Power