DIY pioneer: Home centers need to think again

BY Ken Clark

Cologne, Germany — Does home center retailing need a new business model? One DIY pioneer thinks so. 

Manfred Maus, who in 1970 founded OBI, which grew to become Germany’s largest DIY home center, spoke to Home Channel News at the 2012 Internationale Eisenwarenmesse – or International Hardware Fair – in Cologne, Germany. 

“My children and my grandchildren will buy completely differently than we buy,” he said. “I think the home center concept is old. We need a new business model.”

Maus, now retired from OBI but keeping a close watch of the industry through various advisory positions, said technology advances will almost certainly have an impact on the development and transformation of a physical home center.

The person shopping for a lawn mower in a store has probably already shopped online and probably knows more about lawn mowers than any salesperson in the store, he said. 

“That means the future is multichannel — you need both,” Maus said. “The customer comes with mobile Internet in your store and takes a little picture and asks his wife, ‘Do we buy it?’ And the price can be checked. This means the world is changing, and we have to sit down to find out what has to be done to have a home center for the future.”

Another discussion point: store size. 

“The question is: Is 15,000 square meters (or 160,000 sq. ft.] still the right size for a home center?” Maus said. “Or can we use a smaller store and work with the Internet?”

Asked for his thoughts on products and opportunities for retailers, Maus mentioned security systems and security-related products as a can’t miss category if home improvement retailers do it right. There’s even an opportunity to partner in creative ways with law-enforcement authorities, he said.

Regarding U.S. retailers, the founder of OBI feels the merchandising magic might have slipped in America. “The European home center has the better merchandise concept,” Maus told Home Channel News. “Years ago, I was always impressed about retail merchandising in the United States. Today, I feel [Europeans] have more know-how in presenting the merchandise in specialty stores.”


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l.leochalohm says:
May-22-2012 10:01 am

This subject has interested
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r.rendommotion11 says:
May-19-2012 05:49 am

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May-12-2012 10:01 am

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P.SIEGEL says:
Mar-07-2012 04:13 pm

Manfried/OBI comment He's
Manfried/OBI comment He's right on - smaller "showroom" stores with on line ordering. Less real estate, smaller buildings, less employees, less inventory, less maintenance/utility. taxes costs - and the beat goes on. Probably would add up to LARGER PROFITS, as less is more.

L.Woods says:
Mar-07-2012 03:53 pm

I would also have to agree
I would also have to agree that we are lost on how we are merchdising our displays after 30 years in the business there is not much excitement on displays



Would you like to see the re-emergence of an association like the AHMA?

Arrow Fastener looks for sales abroad


Cologne, Germany — Arrow Fastener Co. of Saddle Brook, N.J., has a pair of new executives leading international development. Part of their message is the American know-how.

Roberto Izaquirre, VP of international sales, told Home Channel News: “International growth is one of our top priorities.”

At the company’s booth here at the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany, Izaquirre, who came to his current position late last year, displayed some of the new products in the arsenal, including some products designed with the female user in mind – smaller, more user-friendly staple guns. 

A new Arrow technology called Forward Action also brings more mechanical advantage to the stapling action. 

Consumer research conducted by Arrow shows a market opportunity for Arrow products for upholstery and female users. “What Americans are very good at is understanding the consumer better than the European companies,” said Izaquirre.

Izaquirre and new director of European sales Robert Moll, point to other USA advantages. They pointed out that 80% of the company’s products are made in America. “The USA still has a strong name for reliable, quality, tough tools,” said Robert Moll, director of European sales. “You have to create an identity for yourself. We don’t want to be just another product from PRC.” 



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May-17-2012 07:56 am

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Would you like to see the re-emergence of an association like the AHMA?

Flooring, cabinets to boost decorative laminates demand

BY Brae Canlen

U.S. demand for decorative laminates is expected to grow 5.5% per year to 12.4 billion sq. ft. in 2015, a rebound from the declines of the 2005-to-2010 period, according to a study from the Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.  

Continued improvement in the housing market, lower unemployment and greater credit availability will boost demand for laminates across the board in all major applications: cabinets, furniture, flooring, wall panels and countertops, the Decorative Laminates study concluded.

The cabinet market will continue to account for the single-largest share of decorative laminates demand in 2015, while also posting gains well above the industry average.  In addition to improved market potential, gains will be boosted by rising interest in decorative laminates as a less costly alternative to lumber (particularly exotic hardwoods) and wood veneers in cabinet production.

The flooring market for decorative laminates will record the most rapid gains through 2015, fueled by improvement in construction spending and rising consumer interest in laminate flooring.  As a result, laminate flooring production in the United States will rebound.  Decorative laminate producers will continue to introduce improved laminates for use in flooring, such as those featuring enhanced durability and advanced designs that resemble natural stone or tile flooring as well as costly and exotic wood species (e.g., mahogany).


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May-20-2012 07:32 am

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Would you like to see the re-emergence of an association like the AHMA?