Malaysian retail chain, Mr. DIY, 830 stores. Photo: Melvin Jong
Malaysian retail chain Mr. DIY operates around 830 stores.
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Mall, small, standalone

Reacting on shifting consumer behaviour, Malaysian home improvement retail market leader Mr. DIY is adjusting its store format strategy. Standalone stores and the new Express format are becoming increasingly important
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Mr. DIY Group, Malaysia's largest home improvement retail chain, aims to open more standalone outlets and smaller stores in the near term as it factors in changing buyer preferences during the pandemic. Company CEO Adrian Ong said in a webinar hosted by Rakuten Trade that mall branches, which had been Mr. DIY's format of choice until recently, would be "taking a backseat" in the company's expansion plans.
Prior to the pandemic, Mr. DIY had favoured mall stores, which capture footfall from supermarkets and hypermarkets as well as from promotional activities undertaken by mall operators. When it conducted its initial public offering in October 2020, Mr. DIY had 386 mall branches against 288 standalone outlets. In 2019, mall stores accounted for 62 per cent of sales, while freestanding locations covered the remaining 38 per cent.
"Between standalone and mall-based stores, our focus at this point in time is standalone stores and the simple reason is this: standalone stores are convenient to get to, they are for the general public that is trying to avoid crowded places. A standalone store is a nice, simple place to go to shop... We are very focused on safety," Ong said.
But Mr. DIY is "always happy to seek out good sites" for mall outlets, he said. "When you do get a good site there is no reason not to continue to go."
In its annual report for 2020, released April 2021, Mr. DIY noted a change in the pattern for its same store sales growth: standalone branches posted a 14.5 per cent rise while mall tenants saw a 1.9 per cent drop. Mr. DIY attributed this to a shift in consumer behaviour triggered by the pandemic. "Customers avoided crowded shopping spaces in favour of the more easily accessed standalone stores closer to home," the company noted. It believed then that the change in its shoppers' buying habits was likely to be temporary.
The company is also pushing for more openings for its newest store format, DIY Express. The store, which takes up between 186 m² and 372 m² of retail space compared to the 929 m² of other formats, was launched in the second quarter of 2021. As of press time, Mr. DIY has opened six such outlets.
"We intend to roll out more stores in this format," Ong said, noting that the smaller outlet gives the company the flexibility to bring modern retailing to rural communities as well as operate in high density commercial environments where getting large sites is difficult.
He said that while the contribution of the format to overall sales is still…
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