Homebase sells for just £1 and prepares for another rebrand

Friday, 25th May 2018, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 25th May 2018, 1:25 pm

Homebase is to change owners again, as its Australian owner has sold the DIY chain for £1.

Restructuring specialist Hilco, which in 2013 rescued music chain HMV in 2013, have bought the retailer, and will rechristen the 24 stores that had been converted to the Bunnings brand back to the Homebase name.

However, industry experts believe that the restructure will result in store closures and more job losses among Homebase's 11,500 workers, employed at 250 UK stores.

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Richard Lim, of consultancy Retail Economics, described the Wesfarmers takeover - which cost the Australian company £340m two years ago - as an "unbelievable disaster".

The rebranded Bunnings stores had a back-to-basics feel, rejecting the soft furnishings popular with Homebase's customers, and stocking the "sheds" with products which had performed well in Australia.

It was "woeful management decisions, clumsy execution and a misguided perception of the UK market" which, according to Richard Lim, led to the downturn in fortunes, along with a general dip in the market.

Wesfarmers' chief executive, Rob Scott, described the situation as "quite challenging" and the UK market as "very competitive".

Homebase chief Damian McGloughlin, who will remain in his post, described the arrival of Hilco's as "an exciting new chapter".

He added: "With Hilco's support we have the commitment of an experienced partner, substantial additional capital, stability for the business and the opportunity to reinvigorate a brand that has been a mainstay of UK retail for over 40 years."