Woolworths and Lowe’s joint venture in Bunnings’ firing line

Bunnings Warehouse has fired the first salvo in its war against soon to be rival Woolworths in a joint venture with Lowe’s, accusing it of circumventing planning and zoning laws.

Woolworths BunningsAccording to The Age, ‘big box’ hardware retailer Bunnings Warehouse accused the Woolworths/Lowe’s joint venture as benefiting from a ”free kick” and a ”valuable gift” due to the rezoning of industrial land to suit the roll out of Woolworth and Lowe’s large format hardware stores.

Bunnings rejects the rezoning on the grounds that Woolworths intends on offering more than just ‘hardware’ in its big box rival, instead offering a range of electronics and whitegoods.

Initially the Woolworths/Lowe’s roll out would be across Victoria, at Coolaroo, Burnside, Preston, Hawthorn East, Oakleigh South, South Morang, Mornington, Wendouree, Geelong, Bendigo, Knoxfield and Carrum Downs. Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden has stated the the State Government would expedite the planning approval for the sites, giving cause for concern to Bunnings.

Don Stallings, CEO of the Woolworths and Lowe’s home improvement joint venture, said the approvals were vital in ensuring the new joint venture achieved scale in operations quickly to secure its future.

“Building a new destination home improvement offer from scratch is a challenging business venture, especially in a retail sector with just one existing dominant player,” Starlings said.

“Our plans require our business to get up to speed as quickly as possible to ensure we can deliver a new and competitive offer to the consumer.”

Bunnings is reported to have hired government lobbyist Hawker Britton and retained the services of Queen’s Counsel Stuart Morris to battle the Woolworths/Lowe’s joint venture.

The Age reports that Woolworths has had one of its potential sites rejected by the state in the Bendigo area.

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