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First Masters store opens in Braybrook

The first of Woolworths’ big-box hardware stores has opened for business, with consumers in the Victorian suburb of Braybrook the first to set foot in the 13,500 square-metre Masters store.

The Braybrook outlet is just the first of some 150 Masters stores to be opened in the next 5 years, each of which will deliver a unique customer experience, according to CEO Don Stallings.

“Masters is more than just a home improvement and DIY destination – we are offering products, value and service that will really excite our customers about improving their home and quality of living.”

Staff will be trained for a minimum of 100 hours to ensure they exceed customer expectations and know their way around the over 35,000 products. Stallings said other differentiating factors between Masters and its competitors include a clean and comfortable store environment, and air conditioning.

Yesterday however, Stallings gave a clear warning to Masters’ competitors, alleging some have been involved in efforts to lock in suppliers.

According to The Australian, Stallings did not refer to Wesfarmers-owner Bunnings by name, but said the ACCC has been alerted to “inappropriate” behaviour in the hardware industry.

He alleged some suppliers, including paint manufacturers, aren’t supplying Masters in fear it would affect their relationship with Bunnings.

“There were some vendors that sell to some of our competitors, not naming any names, that did not sell to us.”

“The ACCC investigates all situations that may occur when somebody crosses the line. I can tell you that where we think somebody is possibly being inappropriate, the ACCC is taking appropriate responsive action.

At the end of last year, Woolworths lodged a complaint with the ACCC about Bunnings, accusing it of unfair dealings with suppliers and of buying property for new stores ahead of Masters entry to the market.

Bunnings CEO John Gillam responded yesterday, saying it has been “completely transparent” in its dealings with suppliers.

“We are very strong in the belief that we have not broken the law in any way.”

Masters is a joint venture between Woolworths Limited and US home improvement giant Lowe’s.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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