|Industry||Retail / Home improvement|
|Founded||1979 (as Sainsbury's Homebase)|
|Headquarters||489 - 499 Avebury Boulevard, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire|
Number of locations
|265 stores (UK)
15 stores (Ireland)
Paint & Decor
|Revenue||£1.49 billion (2013–14)|
Homebase is a British home improvement retailer and garden centre, with stores across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Founded by Sainsbury's and GB-Inno-BM in 1979, the company was owned by Home Retail Group from October 2006 until it was sold to Wesfarmers in February 2016. Wesfarmers have announced plans to rebrand the business, under its existing Bunnings Warehouse name within three to five years.
Homebase recorded sales figures of £1.49 billion for the last financial year (2013–2014). Homebase made an operating profit of £18.9 million for the year 2013–2014.
Homebase was founded by the supermarket chain Sainsbury's and Belgian retailer GB-Inno-BM in 1979, as Sainsbury's Homebase. This was to bring a supermarket-style layout to the British Do It Yourself (DIY) market. The first store was in Croydon, opening on 3 March 1981, located on the Purley Way.
In May 1995, Homebase tripled in size, when J Sainsbury plc bought rival store group Texas Homecare, from the Ladbroke Group plc. These stores were rebranded, and converted to the Homebase format, beginning in February 1996, with the store in Longwell Green, Bristol, with the process being completed by 1999. In October 1999, Sainsbury's bought Hampden Group plc, the franchisee of 10 Homebase stores across Ireland.
On 22 December 2000, Sainsbury's sold the Homebase chain, in a two-fold deal worth £969 million. In March 2001, the sale of the chain of 283 stores to venture capitalist Schroder Ventures generated £750 million, and the sale of 28 development sites to rival B&Q's parent company, Kingfisher plc generated £219 million. At the time, the chain had 13% of the United Kingdom market, with 283 stores and 17,000 employees, behind B&Q and Focus Do It All.
In November 2002, Homebase was sold again, this time to GUS plc (formerly Great Universal Stores plc) for £900 million, where it became part of Argos Retail Group (ARG). On 10 October 2006, GUS completed a demerger of its remaining two businesses, Experian and ARG. ARG was renamed Home Retail Group, within which Homebase operated until 27 February 2016.
In October 2007, it was announced that Home Retail Group had signed a contract for the purchase of 27 leasehold properties from Focus DIY. The purchase price paid was £40 million in cash. The properties were transferred over the period up to 31 December 2007, and were then refitted to the Homebase fascia over the course of several months. No other infrastructure, and no merchandise stock were acquired as part of the transaction, although staff in these Focus stores transferred across to Homebase.
In May 2014, Homebase launched the Homebase Design Centres. The new-look stores have a Decorating Ideas and Advice Centre, offering touch screen technology, to help customers transform the look of rooms in their homes. In October 2014, Home Retail Group announced that it would close around a quarter of Homebase stores by 2019, following a review of the business. It was also confirmed that it would increase the number of Argos and Habitat concessions within Homebase stores.
On 18 January 2016 it was announced that Australian retailer Wesfarmers would acquire Homebase for £340 million, subject to shareholder approval. The transfer of ownership to Wesfarmers took place on 27 February 2016. Following the transfer of sale, Peter Davis was appointment Managing Director, succeeding Echo Lu.
Homebase operates 265 stores in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, the company has a further 15. In July 2013, an interim examiner was appointed by the High Court. Homebase stated the purpose of the examinership was to place the company back on a "sustainable footing".
Early in its history, Homebase used its Sainsbury's experience to move into using central warehouses from which to deliver its stock. By the 1990s, it was receiving the vast majority of its stock into central warehouses, then delivering it to stores. Homebase still receives a few direct deliveries to its stores, from manufacturers and vendors.
In May 2009, Homebase discontinued its own loyalty programme, the Spend & Save Card and replaced it with the Nectar loyalty card scheme, the United Kingdom's largest retail loyalty card. The Spend & Save card had been used by Homebase since 1982, and was believed to be one of the first store loyalty cards in the world.
Homebase allows customers to collect and redeem points within its stores, becoming the first national DIY retailer to participate in this way. Although rival B&Q also have a system for processing Nectar points, this is only available on their website, and even then, points may only be spent, not collected.
Following the sale to Westfarmers, Homebase annouced that they would leave the Nectar loyalty card scheme.
From 1999–2005, Homebase used former Men Behaving Badly couple Neil Morrissey and Leslie Ash as a couple. Morrissey and Ash were the face of the brand for six years, until March 2005, when Homebase launched a series of new advertisements created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, featuring the new slogan "Make a house a home."
From 2006–2009, Homebase used the song "Love Machine" by Girls Aloud in their television adverts. From 2009–2013, "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John featuring Victoria Bergsman is used, During 2009–2010, the transformation of Carlisle railway station was one of the most expensive adverts Homebase has produced to date.
In April 2013, Homebase faced criticism following outrage, after a poster from a store in London was released. The poster appeared to highlight the benefits of free labour through work experience, called Workfare. The offending poster depicts a number of volunteer staff at the Haringey branch and is captioned: “How the work experience programme can benefit your store. Would 750 hours with no payroll costs help YOUR store?”"
Homebase released contradictory statements, the first stating 'The company is not signed up to the Workfare Programme' and the second that 'we have decided to make no further commitment to the Job Centre work experience programme'.
Neither statement appears to have deterred groups organising protests, with organisers calling Homebase’s scheme a "profit-driven attack" on workers and benefit claimants. Before adding "We hope Homebase will soon join, Wilko, Superdrug and more than twenty other companies who have ended their involvement with workfare. However we are prepared for further protests in the weeks and months ahead should they fail to do so."
- "Homebase sale completed" (Press release). J Sainsbury plc. 2 March 2001. Retrieved 21 November 2006.
- "Sainsbury's sells Homebase". BBC News - Business. 22 December 2000. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "GUS snaps up Homebase". BBC News. 21 November 2002. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- "Homebase to accelerate store closures". BBC News. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- Tugby, Luke (19 March 2015). "In the news: Homebase’s new managing director Echo Lu profiled | Analysis". Retail Week. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- Homebase bought by Australia's Wesfarmers for £340m, BBC News, 18 January 2016, retrieved 18 January 2016
- Neilan, Catherine (29 February 2016). "Homebase to be rebranded Bunnings after Wesfarmers completes £340m acquisition from Home Retail Group - now what's happening with Argos?". City A.M. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "Interim examiner appointed to Homebase Ireland". RTÉ News. 16 July 2013.
- Smithers, Rebecca (26 July 2012). "How loyal to your reward cards are you?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- "Homebase Scrap Spend&&Save Card and join Nectar" (Press release). Homebase. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- "Homebase unveils first advertising for six years without Neil Morrissey and Leslie Ash". BrandRepublic. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "Homebase Twitter Statement" (Press release). Homebase. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- "Protest at Bristol Homebase over 'workfare' row". The Bristol Post. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
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