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Master stroke by Woolworths

Newly established hardware chain, Masters Home Improvement, which is a joint venture between Woolworths and US hardware giant Lowe’s, is a hit with shoppers according to its chief executive Don Stallings.

Speaking at a Melbourne business lunch Mr Stallings said he was “extremely pleased with the results so far, and customer feedback is far exceeding my expectations”.

Woolworths reported sales of $211 million from its home improvement division for the third quarter of the financial year up 29.4 per cent on the same period a year earlier thanks to the benefit of new Masters store openings.

The first warehouse store opened in Melbourne’s Braybrook in September, now there are 10 warehouses in the eastern states. Another 12 are scheduled to open by the end of August.

Mr Stallings said Masters’ entry to the market had been accelerated by the joint venture’s 2009 acquisition of hardware wholesaler Danks, which supplied almost 2000 independent hardware stores, including the Home Timber and Hardware and Thrifty-Link chains.

Danks gave Masters access to a portfolio of suppliers and retailers, allowing it to quickly assess pricing and seasonal differences in sales, as well as a ready-built distribution network, he said.

Mr Stallings said Danks had also bought 21 stores from franchisees looking to retire or exit the business over the past 18 months and planned to retain them while switching all supply arrangements to the company’s wholesale division in order to boost sales.