Next shoppers will be able to pick up a pot plant with their polo shirts from Monday, after the retailer announced a tie-up that will see the DIY chain Homebase put mini garden centres in its fashion stores.
Set to coincide with the reopening of non-essential shops, the partnership between the two retailers will see Homebase garden centres open within the Next stores in Shoreham, Ipswich, Warrington, Camberley, Bristol and Sheffield.
Homebase, the subject of takeover interest from Pizza Express tycoon Hugh Osmond according to reports over the weekend, said it aims to offer customers access to expert gardening advice, plants, pots and tools – alongside Next’s range of clothing and homeware.
The new venture, which will be called Garden by Homebase at Next, raises the prospect of compost being walked through gleaming retail spaces containing expensive lingerie and dresses.
Damian McGloughlin, chief executive of Homebase, said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Next and bringing our garden products and expertise to its stores. It’s all part of our wider commitment to make shopping with us easier and provide even more inspiration and expert advice.
“We’re a great nation of gardeners, with more and more people enjoying the benefits of gardening and being outside. The launch of these new garden centres means we’re able to offer more gardeners, both experienced and those just starting out, Homebase products in more locations across the country.”
News of the tie-up comes amid reports that Osmond – who founded pub chain Punch Taverns and floated Pizza Express on the stock market – is preparing a £300m takeover approach for Homebase.
The Sunday Times reported that Osmond, 59, is among parties interested in buying the DIY chain through his private investment vehicle, Osmond Capital.
Homebase has been on the market since November. It was put up for sale by Hilco, which had bought it for £1 in 2018 after a disastrous spell with Australia’s Wesfarmers, that bought the business for £340m in 2016.
Osmond, who declined to comment, is yet to enter exclusive talks and could decide not to make an offer, the paper reported.
Homebase is among the DIY and homeware shops to have done relatively well during the pandemic, as consumers stuck at home focused on home improvements and gardening.
The company has announced it is also planning to open more of its small-format kitchen and decorating stores adding a new site in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The openings will bring the total number of Homebase’s smaller stores to six across Guildford, Cheadle and Sutton.