6 May 2020

No place for Home: trade downturn the final nail for Woden's last hardware store

| Michael Weaver
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The Home Timber and Hardware store at Phillip

The Home Timber and Hardware store at Phillip will close its door at the end of May. Photo: Region Media.

The Woden area will be without a hardware store for the first time since the 1970s following the closure of the Home Timber and Hardware store in Phillip.

A store closure notification, posted on the store’s entrance and dated 22 April, informs customers the business will cease trading on 24 May.

A spokesperson for Metcash, which owns the hardware franchise, confirmed with Region Media that the hardware store would no longer be trading after the landlord decided not to renew the lease.

Paul Donaghue first opened the store as Paul’s Home Centre in Phillip in 1972, making it one of the longest-lasting Canberra hardware stores.

Mr Donaghue sold the store for $4.25 million to the Woolworths-backed Danks conglomerate that included Lowe’s in 2010. The store in Phillip, as well as those at Gungahlin, Queanbeyan and Goulburn, were rebranded as Magnet Mart Home Timber and Hardware.

In 2016, Home Timber and Hardware was sold to Metcash, the parent company for the independently owned IGA and Foodland supermarkets, and liquor stores including Cellarbrations and The Bottle-O.

Metcash’s Independent Hardware Group is the largest independent hardware group in Australia and also owns the Mitre 10 and Thrifty Link brands.

The current manager of the Phillip store declined to comment, but the notice on the Phillip store reads:

“It is with great sadness we advise you that your local Home Timber & Hardware store located at 101/103 Hindmarsh Drive Phillip will cease trading on 24 May 2020, due to reaching the end of our lease.

“This Magnet Mart has been serving the local community for many years, providing essential products and services in the DIY/retail and trade hardware sectors.

“Our team at Magnet Mart would like to extend our thanks to you for your support over the years — we are proud to have been able to provide you with all your DIY/trade products over this journey.

“Following this site closure, we would be pleased to serve you from any of our other stores in the ACT at Mitchell, Queanbeyan or Karabar.”

Notes on the entrance

Notification of the closure of the Home Timber and Hardware store at Phillip.

Region Media understands that an expression of interest for the Phillip site went to market before Christmas last year and that Home Timber and Hardware would not be renewing its lease due to a downturn in trade.

It is also understood that contracts have exchanged on the sale of the site, but it is not known who the new owner would be.

A spokesperson for Bunnings confirmed they had not purchased the site; however, some of the staff who worked at Home Timber and Hardware have been re-employed by Bunnings.

The site would also be attractive to developers as it is zoned to a height of four stories.

The property is owned by John McGrath Ford which operates the adjacent car dealership on the corner of Hindmarsh and Melrose Drive in Phillip.

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There were two hardware stores next to each other, both owned by Paul O’Donoghue. Paul’s Home Centre (which opened in 1971) and Magnet Mart (which came later). Paul’s Home Centre had a wider focus with a hardware section in the middle of the store, while Magnet Mart was purely hardware and gardening. He closed Paul’s Home Centre in the 1980s and redeveloped the land with the shops which are still there today (The Paul’s Centre). Magnet Mart remained.

John think your history is off a little bit. The first Magnet Mart (according to Wiki) was QBN in 1985.

There was only ever a Paul’s at the Woden site until the owner decided to change name to Magnet Mart.

Capital Retro10:08 am 06 May 20

Bad timing for them because in the next two years there will be hundreds on new home units completed in the town centre and there will be a huge demand for gap-filler and waterproof silicon to complete the units after they are occupied.

Magnet Mart were not a franchise, all the stores were company owned.

When Danks brought them they were rebranded as Magnet Mart Home Hardware and Timber with Home hardware being a trading name of Danks, but Magnet Mart itself was never a franchise.

Magnet Mart and Paul’s before that will be sadly missed. I do wonder if things would have been different if Paul Donaghue had not sold to Danks. When he operated Magnet Mart the Gungahlin store in particular was great. I lived in Belco at the time and much preferred to drive to Gungahlin over the then new Bunnings at Belconnen. Magnet Mart lost the plot when Danks took over and the Gungahlin shop lost loads of business when Bunnings opened over the road.

The Phillip store was basically a throw back to another time of the small format hardware store, surprised it lasted the Danks sale to Metcash.

Carl Flanagan9:07 pm 05 May 20

The guys in the lumber yard were amazing. Always shopped there for my lumber needs rather than Bunnings. The hardware side of the store however I visited despite my better judgement. After searching for what I needed and not finding I usually ended up driving to Bunnings. It’s not that they didn’t have the type of thing I needed. They just didn’t keep on top of their stock ordering so they were missing the sizes needed. Then there’s the rude counter staff.
I’m not surprised it’s closing. I’ll miss a local hardware store, but also happy I won’t be tempted to try my luck and then end up driving to Bunnings anyway.

HiddenDragon6:45 pm 05 May 20

In spite of having premises which can be reminiscent of the final scene of Citizen Kane, there are times when Magnet Mart/Home Timber’s big competitor simply does not have what I need – usually niche products which the big guys do not bother stocking, but Magnet Mart does, so the closure of one more of their stores will be a loss.

As to the future of this site, the obvious plan to fill yet another town centre with apartment buildings rests on the assumption that the views expressed on the weekend by Kristina Keneally are wrong, and won’t be supported by middle Australia (i.e. swinging voters) in a post-virus economy – time will tell.

Good attempt at trying to bring your anti development agenda into it, but no Magnet mart is on the semi industrial side of Hindmarsh drive so will remain semi industrial. Expansion of the car yard is the rumour but that I guess doesn’t fit your blame Barr and Labor for everything that happens.

Capital Retro1:35 pm 05 May 20

Indeed, the service was poor and the range of stock limited. Whenever there was a catalogue sale a lot of the specials were not even sent to the store which isn’t the staffs fault.

A few years ago we seniors used to be able to get a 10% discount but that was changed to a miserable points system which had to be applied to a future purchase which was always at an uncompetitive price.

A loss to the community from another shut-down in the Woden area.

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