Is DIY dead - or are we just changing the way we improve our homes?
PUBLISHED: 14:48 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:59 16 August 2018
The threatened closure of Ipswich's last remaining Homebase store has prompted comments that people are doing much less DIY than they have in the past - but is that true?
As that store prepares to close, elsewhere in town Screwfix – owned by B&Q parent company Kingfisher – is preparing to open a new outlet in Cavendish Street.
Paul Geater looks at our approach to DIY - and asks what you would do if your tap were leaking or you needed to build a flat pack wardrobe.
B&Q itself closed one of its two superstores in Ipswich two years ago – that has now been converted into a number of smaller units at the Anglia Retail Park, including The Range, which are attracting more customers than were previously seen there.
Discount stores like The Range and B&M are continuing to open across the country selling a small range of DIY goods alongside other household items.
Screwfix and its main competitor Toolstation have a retail set-up similar to Argos. Customers order what they want, either online or on a form available in the foyer and that item is collected from the warehouse within a minute or two.
They are mainly aimed at professionals or more accomplished DIYers – but are open to anyone and save the need to wander around a large warehouse looking for what you want.
Gardening departments have been a mainstay of large DIY stores like Homebase – but increasingly large garden centres like Notcutts, Bypass Nurseries at Capel, and Wyevale at Woodbridge and Sudbury have become stand-alone destinations complete with cafes and concessions.
Smaller centres are valued by gardeners because their staff tend to be knowledgeable and are able to offer advice along with the plants they sell.
The huge DIY stores are struggling around the country. In Ipswich there were two Homebases – the Warren Heath store was opened when the chain was part of Sainsbury’s and there was another at Anglia Retail Park which was eventually taken over by B&Q.
What is looking unlikely is that any single retailer will want to take on the Homebase site at Warren Heath if it does close – large retail warehouses like the old B&Q at Anglia Retail Park have been split up.
And there is still no sign of a buyer for the former Toys R Us store at Copdock Mill which has been empty since that chain collapsed earlier this year.