Australasian home improvement chain Bunnings is defying the recession by planning a $150 million investment in New Zealand and creating 600 new jobs in the next two years.
The firm, which last July announced plans to spend $90 million and bring 500 new jobs, yesterday said it would finish six new stores in New Zealand in the next two years.
Rod Caust, Bunnings general manager who last year took over from Brad Cranston, said DIYers were driving the expansion.
"The downturn seems to have sparked a renewed interest in DIY. The current economic conditions have not altered our plans. We focus on a long-term view within the business and are committed to continuing to grow the business," he said.
Statistics NZ data shows new-house starts have halved from 31,823 consents in the year to March 31 2004 to 16,234 in the year to March 31, 2009. Additions and alterations are also well down.
Craig Wilson, Mitre 10 New Zealand chief executive, said his business was about twice the size of Bunnings. Mitre 10's annual sales turnover was $900 million compared to Bunnings' $500 million, Wilson said. Mitre 10 was also expanding and opening new Timaru and Masterton stores, adding 30 to 40 jobs to each centre, Wilson said.
Caust said two new Bunnings Warehouses would be built in Auckland and plans are in hand for new Gisborne, Hastings, Wellington and Dunedin stores. Bunnings opened in Nelson last July and in Cambridge last month.
West Auckland and Glenfield are targets for growth. The firm has applied to build a Bunnings Warehouse at Westgate next to a PlaceMakers and hopes to start building this year, Caust said.
A new Bunnings Warehouse is also planned for the former 3M site between Wairau Road, Archers Rd and Poland Rd in Glenfield near the new Pak'nSave supermarket. Mitre 10 Mega has a store nearby.
Caust said the new Bunnings Warehouse in Gisborne was expected to open in the next few months.
Each new Bunnings Warehouse brought about 120 new jobs, Caust said, and the chain paid employees above the award rate.
Since coming here in 2001 via the Benchmark Building Supplies chain, Bunnings had poured more than $250 million into New Zealand and built 41 stores. Sixteen are warehouse stores and the new plans would increase that to 22, Caust said.
Rival business Mitre 10 said it had more than 100 stores in New Zealand.
Keith Roberts of builderscrack - a website where homeowners get quotes from tradespeople - said Bunnings targeted DIYers at the smaller end of the trade.
* Owned by Wesfarmers.
* 2400 NZ employees
* Annual NZ sales of more than $500m.
* 41 NZ stores.