Home Depot adapts to conquer

Bring on the competition. Home Depot is ready.

Bring on the competition. Home Depot is ready.

Toronto-based Home Depot Canada opened a 115,000-square-foot ‘Project’ prototype store in Richmond Hill, Ont. last month, and strategy was invited on a pre-launch tour with the company’s top brass explaining the strategic insights behind the new format.

A ‘hub and spoke’ approach aims to make the giant store easier to navigate, and greater décor presentations make it easier on the eyes. When customers walk in, they see a desk called ‘Central’ (the hub), which lets them know where to find whatever they’re looking for. The ‘spokes’ are project-based centres with inspirational vignettes: the kitchen centre includes a dream kitchen, while the bedroom centre has a walk-in closet.

‘I think this takes market share from independents, because we’ve created stores within a store,’ explains president Annette Verschuren. ‘The trick is flexibility. We have to design our stores so that customers will come to us.’

The store’s décor and project management staffing is triple that of others. Each area includes associates who direct customers to experts, many of whom have design and project management backgrounds. Home Depot has also hired a ‘trend merchant’ to ensure connectivity throughout the store’s offerings.

The store favours graphics over text, with many images coming straight out of the Home Depot Dream Book. ‘People want to think and dream in pictures, and it helps make the process simpler when your mind’s not cluttered,’ explains Verschuren.

The December opening was supported by OOH, flyers and in-store events featuring celeb designers Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman, as well as a street effort that entailed 10 branded Smart Cars driving around Richmond Hill. Four more Project stores will open in Ontario by the end of 2008.

Verschuren is confident her company will thrive in its increasingly competitive category, saying, ‘Our ability to adjust will be our success.’