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Unsurprisingly, in a construction market where the pressure is on to get houses up and built, the market for power and hand tools appears to be doing well.
Starting with PlaceMakers, General Manager Operations & Marketing, Gary Woodhouse, is happy to say that tool sales have been strong so far this year.
This was partly due to a recent “Monster sale” that ran through March and April in all PlaceMakers branches and which Woodhouse feels did well thanks to the trusted brands on offer.
KEEP AN EYE ON THOSE TOOLS
Despite all this good business, an unfortunate trend Gary Woodhouse has heard coming from a significant number of his trade tools customers is that more and more tools are being stolen from work vans or off of sites.
“Unfortunately, tools are a tradable commodity. So our customers are certainly looking at different ways they can protect or identify their tools because you can have a load of tools taken and very quickly that’s $10,000 dollars gone,” he explains.
This has led some customers to enquire about steps they can take to clearly identify their tools in case of theft, which prompted a unique campaign in some PlaceMakers branches.
“One thing that was well received by our customers at our ‘monster’ tool sale was we invited the police to come along to a number of branches and they were engraving tools and identifying them with the customer's driver’s license which is unique to them,” says Gary Woodhouse.
A WORD ON EXCLUSIVES
Taking a wider look at the market I ask Gary Woodhouse for his thoughts on some recent high profile exclusive deals being done within the tools category.
Does this kind of arrangement have the potential to create bad blood within the channel?
He doesn’t think so: “I think it’s just business. Even with some of the major brands we deal with, we do exclusives in regard to exclusive offers.
"So while it won’t be an exclusive brand per se, they will add value to their brand where they may give away an associated product.
"So they’ll do exclusive offers through value add as opposed to exclusives through a cheaper brand.”
CEO Darrin Hughes says ITM has also done well in a market where tools are getting a fair hammering from steady construction work.
When we spoke he had just returned from three and half months travelling the length and breadth of the country visiting all the ITM stores.
Reporting from the frontlines Hughes is happy to say there is a “very high degree of uniformity across the ITM network in tools.”
As for his take on exclusives, Darrin Hughes takes it as a matter of course but acknowledges that exclusivity does seem to be occurring more and more in the hardware channel.
“There does seem to be a bit more alignment occurring especially between electric tool manufacturers and the channel and that’s being seen in both the trade and DIY sectors,” he says.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BUNNINGS
I also spoke to Bunnings’ Tools Category Manager, David Welch, for a quick take on what’s new and what’s doing well in power and hand tools for this major retailer.
Welch reports that Bunnings’ Special Orders offer has been well received by the professional sector with trade customers able to order niche segment tools and extended ranges.
Within power tools, trusted brands like Ryobi, AEG, Makita, DeWalt, Ozito and Bosch continue to do well.
Across all brands, combination kits have seen significant uptake from Bunnings’ value-focused DIY and commercial customers. Innovation in this category can be seen in newly available AEG Fusion Tools especially designed for the trades with the latest battery technology.
Looking at hand tools, stalwarts Stanley, Bahco, Estwing and Taurus continue to do steady sales at Bunnings.
David Welch is happy to see some innovation in this category as well with the introduction of the 1000V Wiha screwdrivers for the electrical trades and the new Empire Digital Level range that incorporates multi-tool level functionality into the humble level.
Bunnings has also seen good complementary results from accessories and safety equipment, in particular the Toughbuilt range of synthetic tool belts and accessories with the Clip Tech system of interchangeable pouches.
This allows customers to build their own system so “they only carry what they need,” David Welch says.
What’s coming up for tools and Bunnings?
David Welch says safety equipment is evolving with additions like the new European Cut 5 standard glove and there will be more choice in the Class 5 Hearing protection products and respiratory masks, as well as an extended DeWalt Safety range to complement Bunnings’ power tool selection.
The Bosch beast
Bosch’s new GCM 8 SJL Mitre Saw combines high performance in a lightweight 18.5 kg package. This variable speed saw is suitable for multiple materials, including non-ferrous metal and has a Dual Bevel function to move the saw to any angle and an SDS bolt for quick and tool-less blade exchange. Specifications include a 1600 Watt motor, 3,500-5,000 rpm no-load speed, and 70x312 mm cutting capacity.
Dust no more
Now available from Nilfisk the Attix M-Class 70L Dust Extractor (761-2M XC) provides a safe dust free environment in tough conditions. This M-class certified model has a large stainless steel container, XtremeClean fully-automatic filter cleaning system and a power outlet with auto start/stop for power tools. The SilentPower system means this model offers high performance with an Airflow rate of 3600 L/min with low noise at only 57dB (A). Includes a Washable PET M-Class Filter and variable suction control.
Also new from Nilfisk is the Aero L-Class Wet&Dry Vacuum (26-21L). This L-Class certified model features a power outlet with auto start/stop for power tools, Push&Clean semi-automatic filter cleaning system, washable M Class filter with high filtration, blow function and an integrated container lifting handle for easy disposal.
Heavy cutting power
Hitachi’s new C7SB3 185mm Heavy Duty Circular Saw combines serious power with excellent design and functionality. Features a high performance 1710 Watt motor in a heavy duty aluminium alloy base that weighs in at a lightweight 4.3kg. Also includes a blower function that clears the cutting line of excess debris and an ergonomic soft grip handle for improved control.
Speedskim makes it easy
Oxtools’ new Speedskim tool system for plastering, flattening finishing and ruling off is designed to increase meterage output and enhance the quality of finish while significantly reducing the harmful effects of fatigue and RSI. Speedskim is compatible with all gypsum based plasters (hand and spray applied), traditional sand & cement renders and insulated range rendering systems.
Always bet on black
The new DC660 Tajima Black HD Slide-Lock Cutter is a premium class 25mm cutter knife designed to meet the needs of professionals. Extra-strong tempered blade sleeves give a smooth and reliable blade extension and retraction while the customised handles and grips give greater ease of use. Also available is the DC661 Tajima Black HD Screw-Lock Cutter version with packs of blades readily in 10 packs.