Finally, Bunnings will have a new competitor. Lowe’s Hardware, in conjunction with Woolworths, have bought their way into the Australian market and will be operating with 150 stores over the next 5 years. The first one to open will be in 2011.
It’s an interesting development in the Oz home and garden market because Bunnings have had it all their own way for far too long. Their stores appeal to men more than women while Lowe’s are more appealing to the female market.
As part of the deal, Lowe’s and Woolworths will gobble up Danks and their current brands: Home Hardware, Plants Plus and Thrifty-Link Hardware. As to whether any of these household names will continue operating under their current trading titles is anyone’s guess, but regardless this sets up some formidable competition for Bunnings and will seemingly force Mitre-10 into third place.
Is this good news for gardeners? No, not really. As these stores become larger they seem to wipe out the competition of little players. Traditional consumers of smaller nurseries are migrating to these big-box outlets because of convenience. Unfortunately, convenience is the murderer of creativity and same plants and limited mass options are going to continue as the order of the day.
The onset of Lowe’s hardware stores into the Australian market will only compound the issue that big is seemingly best. Yet, as gardeners we know that diversity is best and it’s a commodity that’s becoming rarer.