Big box update

Bunnings targets market for small to medium builders

A NSW planning panel defers its decision on the proposed Bunnings store development in Tempe

Bunnings plans to expand its footprint of frame and truss plants that fabricate and supply timber materials for framing houses. The hardware retailer said it will roll out its new plants over the next 12 to 18 months.

In an exclusive report in The Australian, Ben McIntosh, Bunnings chief operating officer - commercial, said the additional frame and truss plants would help it service more builders as they planned and executed home building projects.

We are excited to be expanding our participation in this market, improving our offer and working with even more customers to provide solutions for their projects, end to end.
The expansion plans form part of our wider commercial strategy as we continue to be a trusted partner to builders, from the moment they are planning a build, right through to the fitout.

Bunnings may be setting itself up as a major supplier of frames and trusses to home builders, according to The Australian. The thinking is that while builders pick up their home frames and trusses from a Bunnings site, and use their Bunnings trade account, they will be more amenable to buying other building materials that go to constructing their homes, such as fibre cement, doors, plaster, tiles and other building materials.

Builders and other trades typically have a long shopping list of items they need to buy when constructing a home, and this could help lift sales across the Bunnings group of businesses including Beaumont Tiles. Bunnings' popular "Powerpass" program offers verified trade customers exclusive prices and deals.

The customer for Bunnings' frames and trusses business will predominantly be a residential builder that has steady volumes of work in the medium-density residential market, typically less than three storeys. It could also be attractive to owner-builders.

Manufacturing plants

Bunnings has operated frame and truss plants in Australia for over 20 years. The operations have been a "quiet achiever" for the group, which now views the building materials category as one with growth opportunities.

The hardware retailer currently operates three frame and truss sites in Australia - at Warnervale and Unanderra in NSW and Hallam in Victoria. This network of frame and truss plants supplies materials in the pre-fabrication of roof trusses, floor trusses and wall frames. The frame and truss team also provide service and advice, including quoting, estimating and detailing for both small and large scale projects.

It is understood that the hardware retailer is scoping out land and exploring plans to establish as many as three more manufacturing sites. Building industry insiders told The Australian that Bunnings is searching for a site for a new frame and truss facility in Melbourne, another in Brisbane and potentially more in NSW.

The use of pre-fabricated frames and trusses, to be pumped out by the growing network of Bunnings plants, should dramatically speed up the process on site, as the wall panels and trusses are simply erected as opposed to being constructed cut and nailed on site.

Frames and trusses can be constructed with timber or steel, with timber the predominant material used across Australia.

The expansion plans come at a time when many within the building industry are growing increasingly concerned about a new wave of building material shortages, especially timber used for building frames.

The frame and truss plants give Bunnings a more secure access to core building materials when global supply chains are facing bottlenecks and major delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in the Ukraine. The war between Russia and the Ukraine could disrupt supplies and increase prices substantially.

The Australian construction industry was also left highly exposed to key building material shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic - namely wooden frames and trusses.

Although supply bottlenecks have improved somewhat in the last few months, many parts of Australia are still in desperate need of timely frames and trusses with some parts of regional Australia waiting as long as four months for frames and nine months for trusses, according to The Australian


Building materials cost and supply concerns continue around the country.

Bunnings tells MBAV supply issues critical - HNN Flash #66, October 2021

A ban on Russian timber.

Bunnings bans Russian timber - HNN Flash #88, April 2022

Tempe store

Sydney's Inner West councillors have unanimously supported a motion to conduct an independent risk assessment and feasibility review of proposed traffic lights near the site of the proposed Bunnings store in Tempe.

In passing a motion moved by councillor Mat Howard at a meeting, council resolved to "determine if safety and network impacts previously raised by Transport for NSW could be effectively mitigated", according to the Inner West Independent.

The Sydney Eastern Planning Panel announced a deferral of their determination on the traffic plan modifications that would give way to construction of the store. In a statement, the panel said:

The panel considers the matter should be deferred to allow the necessary processes to occur and for a supplementary assessment report to be completed and referred back to the panel for determination in a timely manner.

It comes after a sustained community campaign by local residents as well as parents and students at the nearby Tempe Public School, who convened the "Safe Traffic Plan for Tempe Bunnings" group.

The group has previously called for NSW Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward to visit the proposed site, which residents say is dangerous because of the increased traffic that the new Bunnings store would bring to its narrow streets.

The group received the support of several councillors, including Cr Howard, Cr Justine Langford and mayor Darcy Byrne. Cr Howard said prior to the panel's decision:

We're now calling on the Planning Panel to give us the chance to do this important work and then make a decision based on all the facts.

The background to the motion affirms council's support for the residents' campaign and states that, at the start of March, Transport for NSW acknowledged the pressing safety concerns in a letter to residents.

Transport for NSW acknowledged significant concerns of residents, Tempe Public School and the community, stating they would support further risk assessment to be undertaken by Bunnings or Council of the Princes Highway access and a feasibility review of traffic lights to determine if the safety and network impacts could be effectively mitigated.
  • Sources: The Australian, 9 News and Inner West Independent
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