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EXCLUSIVE: Homebase md reveals plans for new store refit model

Published: 23 January 2014
Homebase managing director, Paul Loft, has told diyweek.net about plans for a brand new store refit model and a re-launched website in 2014.
<b>EXCLUSIVE:</b> Homebase md reveals plans for new store refit model
Speaking about the retailer's 2014-2015 financial year, which begins on March 1, Mr Loft said it will be "an exciting year" for two main reasons. The first is that Homebase has redesigned the style of its new store format that it has been rolling out in the past couple of years. 25 stores have been planned for the "significantly upgraded" refit model in the coming financial year; Mr Loft called it "version two" and referred to Homebase's Ruislip store as having had the "version one" makeover.

Homebase will also be launching a brand new website in the spring. "Our website is currently IBM and we're going onto the very latest worldwide version of that platform, called Aurora, and we'll be the first retailer in the UK on that," said Mr Loft. "It will upgrade a lot of the functionality for our customers and take us to quite near the forefront of the market."

Commenting on Home Retail Group's interim statement that was released last week, which reported of a 4.7% like-for-like sales increase for Homebase in the 18 weeks to January 4, Mr Loft said the latest quarter's results were largely driven by big ticket items and the company had gained market share in the period. "On the market front there's some sense of consumer confidence being better than this time last year; we're rolling out our refits and the big ticket areas are going up on the mezzanine floors."

Mr Loft described the rest of the business as "pretty stable" with a good level of business around Christmas, particularly in real and artificial trees, lights and decorations. For the first time ever last year, Homebase began offering home delivered Christmas trees on the back of customer requests for it.

Homewares was another big category in the 18-week period, thanks largely to the Habitat concessions in Homebase's refitted stores.

Overall, Mr Loft concluded: "We were pretty much in line with our expectations, a touch above in fact. We had a good first half to the year before this quarter, a lot of that driven by garden performance. As it turned out we slightly beat our forecasts and feel it was a pretty robust performance. That's three quarters of a pretty good year with just a couple of months to go."

Read the full exclusive interview with Mr Loft in the February 7 issue of DIY Week.

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