By Aimee Chanthadavong

Wesfarmer-owned home improvement and outdoor living retailer Bunnings will be investing over $385 million to build 12 new stores and two new trade centres in Queensland over the next three years.

Speaking to RetailBiz, Bunnings managing director John Gilliam has denied that the investment has anything to do with the entry of Woolworths into the hardware market.

“We have been growing our network for almost two decades and our network expansion strategy will see us open up to 26 new locations annually for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“The announcement forms part of our long term plans, being the next three years of network growth in Queensland and there will be more beyond that three year horizon..”

The investment includes twelve new warehouse sites which have been secured in locations including Noosaville, Mackay North, Mackay South, Harbourtown, Manly West, West Ipswich and Oxenford. Of these sites, construction is already underway on the Noosaville store. Additionally, two new trade centres are under construction at Gaven and Rockhampton.

The company has also reopened its Oxley and Rocklea warehouses, both closed since January as a result of the Brisbane flooding.

“We are delighted to be able to reopen our Rocklea and Oxley Warehouses today thanks to the tremendous efforts of our local teams. We have been closely involved in the flood recovery and rebuild effort in many parts of the state and our Queensland team continue to provide ongoing support in their local communities,” he said in a statement.

Woolworths said its first hardware store, which is part of a joint venture with US retailer Lowe’s, will open this year. It said that the Victorian government has helped fast-tracked the approval of 10 sites in and around Melbourne.

But Gilliam said he is not threatened by the new competition and believes Bunnings has what it takes to uphold its position in the market.

“Bunnings has been operating in a highly competitive market for decades up against many other hardware retailers, strong specialists and mass merchants,” he said.

“Our core focus is very firmly on delivering the best offer to customers by having the widest range of home improvement and outdoor living products at the lowest prices backed up by the best service.”