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Why Are Diy Sales Tumbling? - Article From Guardian Today

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What are the reasons...? Hmmm? I wonder. Hey - what about the obvious one - the pink elephant in the room of impending HPC? B)

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DIY RIP

We used to be a nation of avid home improvers, eager to clamber up a stepladder at the first sign of a bank holiday. But now the hardware giant B&Q has reported a huge slump in profits. Could our days of stippling the bathroom ceiling really be over? Laura Barton reports

Thursday March 23, 2006

The Guardian

A decade ago, Britain acquainted itself with a new phrase. MDF, or medium density fibreboard, was the chosen material of the TV home makeover shows, a sort of wood-and-glue confection that could be employed where once we had used wood. Cheap and easy to use even for the amateur, MDF lent itself readily to the quick-and-easy DIY transformations performed by the likes of Changing Rooms and House Doctor, television shows whose perplexing popularity saw dining rooms across the land magicked into gothic mansions and bedrooms into pirate ships.

One might even say, even, that MDF became the bellwether. At the end of last year, keen watchers of the building materials supply market will have noticed a line in a report in the online magazine Forestry and British Timber, stating: "Demand for MDF during the early part of the year remained flat and was accompanied by continued low prices and poor profitability ... The outlook for 2006 is rather gloomy, with no clear indication of any improvement in economic conditions or domestic demand." The writing was on the plasterboard partition wall.

This week, B&Q, the biggest DIY store in Europe with 322 stores across Britain, announced a 52% fall in UK profits. MFI is closing 11 stores and pulling out of the bathroom market; Homebase and Wickes have also reported sales and profit declines; Focus has had to renegotiate its banking covenants; Floors to Go last week announced an 18% fall in underlying sales for 2005 and a halving of profits. Meanwhile, on television, Changing Rooms performed its final makeover last year and the other home-renovation shows have drifted from primetime slots. Britons, it seems, have fallen out of love with DIY.

Once, a trip to B&Q was, like traffic jams and crowds on the seaside promenades, a part of the great British bank-holiday tradition. A nation as one flirted with stencilling, dado rails and decking. We were enchanted by magnolia eggshell, Farrow & Ball, Dulux dogs. It was a love that rampaged through our bathrooms and living rooms and crazy-paved its way through our gardens to peak in a feverish clinch with Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen under the rag-rolled ceiling. Where on earth did it all go wrong?

B&Q is quick to point out that rising household debt, petrol prices and utility bills have eaten away at consumer confidence - a phenomenon that can also be seen on the high street. Yet the home improvement sector appears to have suffered more than other industries. Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal a 4% fall in the "repair maintenance and improvement market", to its lowest point in more than 10 years. "The major reason," says a spokesperson for B&Q, "is fragile confidence in the housing market and the fact that some larger home improvement projects such as redoing a kitchen or a bathroom often involve the taking on of additional debt at a time when household borrowing is already very high."

It is true that the housing market has had a shaky six months, but might not this be expected, instead, to prompt a resurgence in DIY, as home-owners seek to increase the saleability of their houses? "There's a thought that a slow-down in the property market prompts people to divert cash into sprucing up the houses they already have and increasing their value," argues Mike Jeffree, editor of the Timber Trades Journal, who remains optimistic that MDF - one of the timber industry's major products - will make a resurgence. "But once spring starts, things might well pick up. We've had a cold winter, which has put people off doing a lot of DIY and going outside to do decking and sheds."

There is also, of course, new competition - supermarkets, particularly Tesco, have begun to tread on B&Q's toes where sales of some of the less traditional DIY-related products are concerned. The research group GfK says supermarkets have claimed a 15% market share in key product sectors such as car cleaning and accessories, light bulbs and kitchenware. B&Q, now set to reincarnate itself as the DIY uber-specialist, is not especially concerned by the rise of the supermarket. "We always take any competition seriously, but we would say that we offer far more in the way of range," says Ian Cheshire, the newly anointed head of B&Q. "And we're going to be offering more service and information for the customer. There'll always be people who sell on convenience - I'll just pick up a can of paint while I'm here - but we want to be the destination for people who are doing a DIY project."

Perhaps the real answer in our cooling passion for DIY lies in the triumph of experience over hope: at some point we have to recognise the discrepancy between our expectations and the results of our labours. But we're also simply more lazy. Home-owners are now happier employing tradesmen to perform the jobs than doing them themselves; indeed, part of B&Q's campaign for revitalisation will see the company introducing its own army of tradesmen. "Overall, people's interest in their homes is still growing and getting more ambitious," says Cheshire, "but the growth in the market is more in the do-it-for-me area than the do-it-yourself. DIY is, in fact, stable - more than half our kitchens are sold to people who are going to do it all themselves - but it's not growing as quickly. People are saying, if I'm going to do something ambitious, I'm going to get somebody else in to do it."

And then there is business sense: if I'm going to Do It Myself, I may as well get paid for it. The home improvement boom may have bust as a bank-holiday hobby, but more and more young people want to emulate Changing Rooms' Handy Andy and do it as a career. Construction is the UK's biggest industry, with more than 86,000 job opportunities available each year. "Our latest figures show that almost 10,000 more young people applied to our apprenticeship scheme in 2005 compared with 2004," notes a spokesperson for CITB-ConstructionSkills, the sector skills council for the construction industry. Meanwhile, she says, university applications to study construction-related degree courses such as civil engineering were up 24% last year, according to Ucas.

Perhaps it is DIY's innate drive for improvement that finally sounded its death knell. Man's elemental battle with wallpaper paste became something less simple, more competitive; we grew busier and richer and decided that we would rather spend our weekends taking cheap flights to Turin or shopping for designer labels than stippling the bathroom wall. "The same thing happened in the States," says Cheshire. "People with more money to spend are often the people with less time to do it themselves." What is certain, he continues, is that we are still a nation obsessed with property - house prices still dominate dinner-party talk - but our relationship with our homes has become more removed, more fetishistic. An Englishman's home is still his castle, it's just we no longer feel the need to dig our own moat and make our own drawbridge any longer.

Just as we buy recipe books but do not cook, choose plastic surgery over diet and fitness, so we purchase endless copies of Elle Decoration to look at the pictures, and hire decorators to achieve our perfect kitchen. The DIY superstores are, accordingly, having to shift their focus. "We have to provide people with much more of an idea of what the end result looks like," says Cheshire. "People have an idea of what their dream home would look like but they don't know how to put it together."

The humble Changing Rooms format, meanwhile, has itself spawned more than a few monsters, among them the American show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Far from encouraging the amateur enthusiast, a family is whisked off to Disneyland while the construction experts and interior designers waltz into their home, effectively bulldoze it and start all over again. Oh, how far we have travelled from the humble days of Changing Rooms, when we had nothing but our feverish imaginations, a terrace in Luton and a couple of sheets of MDF.

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It is true that the housing market has had a shaky six months, but might not this be expected, instead, to prompt a resurgence in DIY, as home-owners seek to increase the saleability of their houses? "There's a thought that a slow-down in the property market prompts people to divert cash into sprucing up the houses they already have and increasing their value," argues Mike Jeffree

mikes wrong.

why tart up a house thats not selling. it still wont sell. do your diy to add 'value'. value isnt a sale. its your own interpretation. you lent too much MEW on it to sell it for its real worth. no one wants your debts. so it sits on a dead market in denial for 12 months at a daft price.

like a fat man at a choosy fat girls disco.

its amazing that a mainline paper still doesnt get whats going on, which if anything is a barometer of public opinion. they have no idea because they already had homes. we are a minority i suppose.

there must be a way to make money from our early warning.

like shorting b&q. i bet someone here did ??

Edited by right_freds_dead

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Guest DisposableHeroes

Large supermarket stores are selling DIY items now. Have to get your food, see a cheap cordless drill from £20...

Supermarkets, they have got it made.

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DIY's down partly because garbage like changing rooms is finally off our telly and people know going to B & Q and shelling out £500 won't make your house worth 10 grand more, like it used to.

The Flippers have left the market in their droves, and it's left to the BTLers to prop it up, who don't care what colour the lounge wall is or whether the bathroom tiles haven't been changed in 20 years.

Most sellers are purely testing the water to see if some idiot will pay massively over the odds for their 30's semi, and they aren't going to spend money on it if they don't have to.

And if they won't spend money on a pot of paint from B & Q, what chance is there they'll pay £750 for a HIPS report!

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This is exactly the same thing that happened prior to the last crash. As I have said before one big DIY chain, I think owned by WH Smith, called 'Focus' or was it 'Do It All' never recovered and its 'shed' here in Swansea laid empty for most of the past 15 or so years.

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You'd think she'd have put two and two together and realised that btlers DON'T spend money on their properties. This is entirely predictable - the more btl, the less money gets spent on maintaining/renovating property, the less gets spent in B&Q, high street, etc, people in these businesses lose their jobs, lose their homes, which get bought by greedy speculative b*st*rdsinvestors, repeat until whenever.

House I'm living in, there were a couple of broken tiles in the kitchen, so the landlady's odd-job man replaced them with two old tiles more or less the same colour. TYpical btl slumlord - tight-fisted c*w.

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Do not expect the Grauniad to print anything which even remotely entertains the possibility that the housing market might crash.

GB, their ideological master, would be offended.

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Large supermarket stores are selling DIY items now. Have to get your food, see a cheap cordless drill from £20...

Supermarkets, they have got it made.

Yep and likewise B & Q now sell small kitchen appliances too. I popped in the other day and there were kettles, slow cookers and bread makers just inside the door.

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Guest DisposableHeroes

Where supermarkets have got it made though, is the fact that you have to shop for food on a regular basis. So something catches your eye in the shop at a great prices, you buy it.

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Where DIY sheds have got it made though, is the fact that there is not a woman in the country who does not have the urge to pop out and buy a can of beige paint each weekend - they have to shop for beige paint on a regular basis. So something catches their eye in the shop at a great price, they buy it. :blink:

I too have read Cosmo - in the Doctors' waiting room of course! :rolleyes:

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Where DIY sheds have got it made though, is the fact that there is not a woman in the country who does not have the urge to pop out and buy a can of beige paint each weekend - they have to shop for beige paint on a regular basis. So something catches their eye in the shop at a great price, they buy it. :blink:

I too have read Cosmo - in the Doctors' waiting room of course! :rolleyes:

I've had beige walls for years. Not because it's trendy, but because the MOD only have magnolia or white paint. We can paint it, but have to put it back to magnolia when we move, too much hassle.

Oh, and it's usually woodchip too....niiiiice! :rolleyes:

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I don’t suppose you have an address of that disco

its arabellas in preston. best to get in at 11 in time for the sloweys.

but dont get too excited. those fat girls, although fat themselves prefer lean, rich footballer types.

and nothing else will do.

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its usualy the other way round,

folks don't move and instead improve their property, diy stores et al get busier

most ordinary homeowners do not ruch out and spend money on their house prior to sale. certainly by judging what i look at.

why are sales down.... who knows but frankly in a slow market its usualy the diy stores that do well.

most developers get a pro firm in who use trade suppliers not B & Q so perhaps te market is more bouyant than you think

MH

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We had this discussion recently and wondered why vthere is a huge trend for people to buy new houses rather than the older ones. It seems that people just can't be hassled to do work and when there are loads of Polish builders to come and do the work it is usually easier and quicker to employ someone.

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but dont get too excited. those fat girls, although fat themselves prefer lean, rich footballer types.

and nothing else will do.

I was after the fat oiled up in lard game for anything type disco girl - sorry

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The reason behind the fall in sales is because the market is so bouyant, owners could advertise a real basket case and still get people lining up to buy it.

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Floors 2 Go, just down the road have just invested in a big shiney "3 YEARS INTEREST FREE CREDIT" sign. The car park is always empty at all times of the day and week. There's only a finite number of floors you can cover in laminate flooring tat and 95% of those have already been covered. I think I may laminate my backroom with real wood at knock down price when they put the "CLOSING DOWN SALE - EVERYTHING MUST GO!" sign up late summer/autumn.

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I was after the fat oiled up in lard game for anything type disco girl - sorry

I beleive I've seen photos of a few of them on chavscum.co.uk.

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This is the reason b&q profits are down, listen carefully becuase this is the real reason.

I do guttering and fascia's/soffits (ya know that white plastic roofline thing)

120 degree offset bend b&q 2.19 my supplier 60p

4m length black h/round b&q 8pound my supplier 5.12

gutter bracket b&q 90p my supplier 30p

gutter union b&q 2.69 my supplier 55p!!!!

And so it goes on and on and on.

If i bought from b&q i would go out of buissnes fast.

ok next reason

you can get exactly the same make of kitchen from b&q for exactly half the price of b&q, when i say the exact same i realy mean that the same make/range/manufacturer. how do i know, well my brother has a shop right across the road from b&q selling them.

The person that wrote that article has completely failed to take into account that people in the building game dont buy at b&q becuase everything is cheaper elsewhere.They are massively expensive, and when your greatest outlay is often the materials and its on materials where you can cut costs not of wages or diesel or buying a van or your accountant, thats exactly what you do.

small diy shop in town sells bathroom/plumbing fittments and 40% the price of b&q so why would a plumber go to b%q

aspinals electrical sells electrician supplies about 35% less than b&q

What the b&q game has been is like tescos to offer beans at 9pence then pesto at double the local lidl.they offer cement at 2.50 a bag while charging 25.99 for a tin of sandtex that you can get anywhere for 18.99.

B&q is the retail equivelent for the diyer, the trade will only go in when its convienient ie there working next to the store and there supplier is other side of town and they only need a 2.99 part.its all the peopl;e the householders that dont know the diffrent and also wouldnt get the same prices if they did.ie your fitting your own gutter system you will pay 50% more than me for the materials, practically making it as cheap for you to hire me than do job yourself, the reason being im spending on average about 45k a year at the same place they depend on my trade not yours.

Which as ive stated proves the guy that wrote that article is talking outta his ass, and the reason for the drop in prices is soley the diyer and b&q has not a hope in hell of taking more tradesmen in unless they started offering the trade 50% discounts to the till price just like local builders merchants do.ie one price for the public and one for the trade.

Edited by homeless

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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