Rainer Strnad
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Lessons learned from over 30 years

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DIY International is celebrating its 30th birthday. Originally established as "DIY in Europe", the magazine has been reporting international DIY and garden retail news since 1989. The name change to DIY International in 2009 took account of the trend towards globalisation in the sector.
We decided not to rummage through the archives and include a major retrospective on 30 years of DIY retailing in this issue. This is because we believe our readers would prefer to spend the limited time they have for reading on considering the challenges of the present and future rather than those of the past. And so - because numerical symbolism is topical here - we asked our statistics department to compile a detailed sales ranking of the current Top 30 in the international home improvement industry.
I would like to share with you one thought that links the past to the future, however. When the home centres first appeared on the scene with their big-box formats (well over a decade earlier), they proved to be disruptors. Indeed, that was their business model: to provide a modern alternative concept to the rusted ironmongery trade and later on to the garden supplies trade.
Today these home centres are being forced to ward off disruption by retail companies that are supposedly alien to the sector. As recently as at the Global DIY Summit in Stockholm the term "disruption" was doing the rounds in the DIY business; it was becoming evident that retailers were gradually losing their accustomed control over sales and marketing, something which is now happening online also.
It was at another summit conference, how­ever, a year later in Berlin, that one of the veteran observers of the DIY scene explained that the fears of brick-and-mortar retailers were unfounded. The gist of the talk by Jim Inglis, formerly at Home Depot and winner of the Global DIY Lifetime Award in 2015, was that although the purported disruptors from the Internet, with disruptor-in-chief Amazon at the head, have huge cost problems, there's one thing that they can do better: they take the customer's wholehearted desire for convenience seriously.
This is why the priority for DIY stores is not to be the bigger online retailer, but the better stationary retailer - better when they…
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