Homebase hires Hut Group to speed up transformation

HomebaseDIY and gardening chain Homebase is aiming to put its haphazard “house that Jack built” performance behind it and embark on a major digital transformation by signing a ten year, multi-million pound partnership with The Hut Group.

Founded by Sainsbury’s 41 years ago, Homebase was owned by Home Retail Group from October 2006, until it was sold to the Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers in January 2016.

The move triggered a disastrous attempt to rebrand the retailer Bunnings, which was eventually abandoned when the business was sold to restructuring firm Hilco for £1. The company then closed 42 stores and cut 1,500 jobs and, since February 2020, Homebase has had 164 outlets and is back in profit.

Now, it will have access to The Hut Group’s ecommerce services division THG Ingenuity, whose end-to-end technology and operating platform is already used by Nestlé and Procter & Gamble.

By 2021 the pair aim to launch a new ecommerce platform for Homebase that will include digital design and style tools, shoppable multi-product images, instant “add to basket” functionality and the integration of PayPal and Google Pay.

For The Hut Group, the partnership gives it a foothold in the home retail sector, which has until now been predominantly offline but could be ripe for online growth. Homebase, of course, hopes that it will be able to catch up its rivals, such as B&Q and Screwfix, which have had online operations for years.

Homebase chief executive Damian McGloughlin said: “This partnership will significantly fast-forward our digital plans and create an incredible new shopping experience for customers.

“We have a unique opportunity to move with the rapidly changing retail landscape, and leapfrog ahead to an experience that exceeds customers’ demands for online shopping that’s both easy and inspirational.”

In March last year, Homebase beefed up its data strategy by appointing Havas Media to handle its media planning and buying business. Within weeks, it had hired Atomic London to run its advertising account and earlier this year it launched its first major marketing campaign as the coronavirus pandemic struck.

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