Home Retail Group HR boss predicts hard times for Homebase

A senior HR figure at Homebase’s parent company has admitted that the DIY giant faces a “difficult year”.

Jane Watkinson, head of HR at Home Retail Group, blamed tightened consumer spending, a lack of home improvement reality TV shows and the bad weather for its downturn in fortunes.

“The DIY market is very tricky,” she told Personnel Today. “If you look across the market sector at stores like B&Q, we’re all facing similar challenges.

“If you imagine watching TV a couple of years ago, nearly every programme was about changing rooms or doing up your house – now it’s all about cookery. Those [DIY] programmes used to drive customers in for their weekend projects. Now people aren’t spending as much.”

Watkinson also said the rainy spring weather had driven customers away. “Last April [when it was hot] was a different story,” she said.

However, Watkinson stressed that she was not expecting to make redundancies.

“We’ve planned very well for a difficult year ahead. When business toughens you have to be very clear in your communication, make sure staff understand what’s happening, and be honest with them about expectations,” she said.

“If we know we are going to have a bad year, and that means we have to manage costs. We need to tell staff that’s what we expect.”

The Home Retail Group, which also owns budget chain Argos, employs more than 50,000 people across the UK.

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