French hardware store brings competition to the West Rand

The range of toilet seats available at the new Leroy Merlin store Picture: Dumisane Lubisi
The range of toilet seats available at the new Leroy Merlin store Picture: Dumisane Lubisi

I imagined how it would feel for a child in a candy shop, spoilt for choice. I could see how someone would end up binging on everything within reach, even the stuff they did not plan on buying on the spot.

Yes, that’s how I felt when I walked into the new Leroy Merlin hardware store in Little Falls last Thursday.

A colleague passed me the invitation for a VIP media tour of the new store, not because I am the construction journalist in the office, but because of my recent house extension project.

This is second store by the French brand to open in the country – the first opened a year ago in Greenstone in Edenvale,on the East Rand.

Its branch in Little Falls means the four biggest hardware stores in the country – Chamberlain, Builders Warehouse, Cashbuild and Leroy Merlin  – are now within a 5km radius. This is the best news for homeowners and building contractors because they can shop around for the best deals.

Once the actual tour began following a briefing from Leroy Merlin SA’s CEO Cedric Sennepin, the first stop was the kitchen department and it was clear why. A beaming Sennepin said this was what set them apart from their competitors.

CEO
Leroy Merlin South Africa CEO Cedric Sennepin Picture: Dumisane Lubisi

The variety of kitchen designs and styles are enough to persuade you to spend money you had budgeted for other things. The range of kitchen sink taps and toilet seats is amazing, with ample supplies.

They even have a drive-through section for building contractors. Basically, a contractor can drive in and load whatever they need – from building sand, cement, boards and windows – and only pay at the exit point.

That, to me, was a marvel and it will be enjoyed by many contractors who will not have to go inside the shop to get their materials.

Leroy Merlin is a megastore built on a 45 000m² campus with the sales floor covering a cool 9 000m². It has the widest range of construction, hardware, tools, kitchen, bathroom, home décor and garden products.

When it was being constructed, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was. After all, it is my neighbourhood and I jog around the area.

Sennepin is confident that the store will do well.

“We are cheaper than everyone else. The staff on the floor can change the price when a product is cheaper somewhere else. They are autonomous to take that decision.”

There is a lot more that the megastore offers, you just need to spend time to find what you are looking for. The competition Leroy Merlin has brought to the West Rand is a welcome relief and customers want to get the best discounts, especially in these trying economic times.

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