By Patrick Avenell

Woolworths will spend up to $100 million rolling out its Masters big box outlets during the 2012 financial year, with 15-to-20 warehouses planned per year, up to an eventual target of 150 stores by 2016.

In its annual report, Woolworths managing director Michael Luscombe described the first Masters store, in Braybrook in Melbourne, as a “resounding success”.

“Our first Masters big box store, which opening at the start of September 2011 in Melbourne, is already a resounding success, with customers immediately appreciative of the high service levels, wide choice and low prices,” Luscombe said. “Masters will roll out between 15 and 20 stores a year.”

Masters sells DIY hardware equipment, outdoor lifestyle products and traditional home appliances. A joint venture with US retail giant Lowe’s, Masters is seen as a viable competitor to Bunnings.

In further Woolworths hardware news, Luscombe said its small-format offering has been improved.

“We [have] further strengthened the smaller format Danks business during the financial year with the acquisition of Gunns Retail, Becks Home Timber & Hardware, Magnet Mart and Flatman’s Home Timer & Hardware,” he said.