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Hardware giant hammers home the point about retail

A STRONG, consistent strategy and good management are the powerhouse behind the hugely successful Bunnings brand, according to Bunnings Building Supplies managing director Joe Boros.

This approach has assured that Bunnings is synonymous with hardware in WA.

The WA Business News survey revealed that Bunnings was second only to BankWest in terms of brand strength.

“We’ve been very strong in the retail market since 1990 when we repositioned the business after the merger of Alco and Bunnings,” Mr Boros said.

“Alco had a lot of do-it-yourself (DIY) experience and Bunnings’ strength at the time was in trade sales.

“We wanted to balance the business and make sure we weren’t vulnerable to the volatility of the housing market.”

Bunnings undertakes market research to test its position in the market and REB Strategic Communication undertakes an annual audit of the brand and the logo to police its usage in the market.

“It’s a matter of balancing the business and getting every facet tuned in,” Mr Boros said.

“It’s the culture of the business. It’s determined by the type of service, the product range, the price, policies, advertising design and content.

“To do it properly you have to get the position in the market where you are first in mind whenever someone thinks of hardware.”

Like BankWest, Bunnings has a long history in WA and, with the acquisition of the Howard Smith business last year, the business has undergone considerable growth.

The Bunnings advertising account is currently serviced by The Brand Agency. The simple animation and consistent branding used in Bunnings’ advertising has proved a winning formula for one of WA’s strongest retail accounts.

It’s not just the advertising that supports a brand like Bunnings – design and brand strategy remain vitally important elements of the overall picture.

REB Strategic Communication has worked on the Bunnings account since the mid-1980s when Alco Handyman was rebranded Bunnings.

REB director John Banton said Bunnings represented longevity in a market that had displayed a rather ad hoc approach to branding in the past.

“The type of work we do is brand creation and brand strategy,” Mr Banton said.

REB Design was responsible for the new Bunnings Warehouse identity based on the successful Home Depot hardware retail chain in the US.

“We created the whole look of the store and all the retail brands … and we continue to manage the national brand,” Mr Banton said.

The successful acquisition of Howard Smith has thrown up another challenge for group’s marketing strategy.

The transition from Hardware House to Bunnings, which will be completed later this year, has added a range of standard stores to the retail portfolio.

This has affected the focus on the entire company.

“Bunnings is not just category killers. Now there’s also a range of infill stores,” Mr Banton said.

The strength of the brand lies in its simple focus.

“They are a very focused business. In the hardware retail business they are simply the best at what they are doing and they haven’t ever lost track,” Mr Banton said.

“The whole store is designed so it’s a billboard or brand statement

“It’s a very long-term approach. They know what they’re doing and they know where they’re going.”

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