Australian and NZ Dopers - your experiences with Bunnings DIY stores

Homebase - the second-largest DIY and home improvements warehouse store in the UK, was recently acquired by Wesfarmers - parent company of Bunnings Warehouse - which I understand to be a very similar sort of profile of operation.

Since the buyout, Homebase stores have turned into a complete chaotic mess. Store layouts are not just changed - they’re disorganised - stores now seem cluttered with random piles and pallets of stock - signage is all scruffily handwritten, prices appear random to the penny (I went in for some F clamps they were £4.37 each) - all to the extent that the place now has the look of a storage warehouse that has only been opened to the public because of some exceptional circumstance - I mean, I’ve been to trade warehouse closing down sales and this has the feel of that.

Except I don’t think it’s closing down - because more new stock is arriving (faster, it appears, than the panicky staff can find somewhere to put it).

I guess this could just be the pain of childbirth for whatever the new era will look like. How are Bunnings stores presented down there in the Antipodes? I can’t imagine this sort of chaos can persist and be successful - and my Google image searches appear to be showing Bunnings stores to be quite neat and orderly (although I could just be finding marketing images)

Sausages, that’s my impression of Bunnings. Oh you meant the inside? Yes all very neat and orderly, big wide aisles and generally pretty helpful staff.

Yup. Orderly, well-organised, well-stocked, well-staffed. They often have a garden centre attached, selling plants and gardening supplies, and they run workshops (mostly for kids) in DIY skills.

And, as coremelt says, sausage sizzles. It would be rare to go to a Bunnings at a weekend and not be invited to buy a suspicious-looking sausage in a bun in aid of some local worthy cause.

Bunnings is basically an Australian institution at this point - their “thing” is they’re a giantic warehouse with lots of shelving selling pretty much anything you could possibly need for any building or renovation project.

They’re hugely popular and generally neat and orderly, (ie everything’s in proper rows etc) if a bit utilitarian and no-frills; they do rather look like a warehouse as you note, though. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and helpful and there’s plenty of space - you’ll never feel crowded in a Bunnings, even when it’s pretty busy.

One of the things they’re well-known for is their sausage sizzle - basically out the front of pretty much every Bunnings in the land on the weekend will be a charity or community group cooking sausages and providing soft drinks for a cheap price.

For what it’s worth, Wesfarmers’ (who own Bunnings) competitior Woolworths tried to emulate the Big Box Hardware Store formula here with a venture with US company Lowes. The venture, entitled Masters, has been an unmitigated disaster which has lost something like AUD$675 million over the past five years; the stores will all be closed by Christmas.

Spawn of Satan.

Oh you mean the insides? Big, lotsa stuff, lowish prices except for what you need.

Same as Mitre 10 here in NZ.

Yeah, like the others say, Bunnings is pretty good, orderly and organised and helpful. Other bulk stores could learn a few things from them, really.


…their prices are sometimes weird like this.

I think all the positives up thread are why Woolworth’s went broke with Masters trying to take on Bunnings. I don’t know any tradies that don’t use Bunnings and I think that, despite the expert help available, the stores are set out for people who know what they are doing. They had late trading hours many years before it was common in other stores which is great for fulltime workers like me.

And sausage sizzles.

I’m not a hardware sort, but I love Bunnings. I go in there and imagine all the things I could do, if only I knew what the fuck I was doing.

I’ve never met a grumpy Bunnings staff member. Every time I’ve needed help finding something (which is not every time I’ve been in there), someone hasn’t just pointed me in the right direction, they’ve gone with me and helped me find not just the widget I need, but the exact right model of widget.

I can tell you that I am pretty sure my house reno probably funded the acquisition of Homebase - I would walk into the store, they opened the till and I emptied my wallet, every week for 6 months.

And that was only half of the house - 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms to go, so I guess they can target the US next.


They are well organised and very competitive, at least the ones I go to are. And the staff are really helpful. Hopefully they can shake up the UK market, and give B&Q a run for your money.

I’m guessing they are going through a transition and are trying to go for the more utilitarian look that Bunnings has. Homebase looks much more like a traditional shop layout. This is what the insides of Bunnings Warehouses look like, yep its a warehouse but its got everything and it’s cheap.

Give them a few months.

Cheap, comprehensive, well ordered, helpful, ubiquitous, sausages. Good with the kids (my local has an indoor playground). And for some unknown reason this weekend there was a 6 piece Mariachi band. Good times.

Yeah, I’m guessing this must be birth pangs - I imagine they’ve probably shed or restructured their inhouse signage printing team or something, and the stock is presumably coming from the same vendors as Bunnings now (certainly it’s not their usual fare).

Homebase was fairly utilitarian before the change, but still had some small-store features, and a lot of luxury items in furnishing and homewares.

As per comments above, the term category killers applies with Bunnings and the way they crushed Masters incursion, losing negligible market share or margin in the process, will probably leave them dominant in the market for a decade.

My local outlet is in Sydney is Ashfield and the only issue is getting a park onsite.

I worked for a Wesfarmers business and we went from printed to handwritten sales price signs because that was the styling they wanted to go for. Prior to the change, we “designed” (typed into a template) and printed them in store.

I bought some stuff at Bunnings at lunchtime. Phillips Tornado CFLs for $5.58,a hose connector for $4.97, solar powered garden lamp $10.13. So, yes their pricing is a bit random. But, I could find all those things right where the signs said they should be.

Probably means their marketing team decided that giving the absolute cheapest prices they can is better that rounding prices off to “aesthetic” values.

Bunnings? Oh, you mean Princhester’s Shed. It’s where I spend my weekends and keep all my tools and materials. My staff there do charge me fees (on a per item basis) for keeping all the stuff on hand for me but I suppose that’s only reasonable.

Also interestingly, their prices have always been pretty good - even before Masters showed up, Bunnings were noted for being cheap. A rare example of a non-government monopoly not gouging people for every possible cent, IMHO.

I don’t think they are cheap or expensive. What they do have is a very wide range from cheap to expensive. The quality of their cheap stuff is a lottery but can be reasonable. Or not.

That’s very true. I was referring more that the way monopolies tend to work is that they can charge what they like, bwahaha, and that’s usually way over the odds for what the same item would cost in a more competitive market.

IME the prices on stuff in Bunnings have always been pretty good - sure, the quality at the chaper end can be variable (as with anything cheap) but given Australia’s reputation for being The Country Where Everything Costs A Fortune Because Of Reasons, it’s still surprising to see an effective monopoly with what most people would agree are decent prices on useful quantities of their range.