One of the most annoying things about the DIY superstores is that the people who work there know almost nothing about the products they sell. That’s hardly surprising as they are paid minimum wage and the percentage staff turnover is in three figures. This led me to imaging a scenario where Homebase, B&Q and others of their ilk were transformed by the recession.
Imagine the scene. Jeremy, a 40-something banker, has been made redundant and as there are no jobs left in the city is burning through the redundancy money at a rate of knots. Fiona, his wife, has already embraced GastroPov cooking and needs to get Jeremy out of the house. He applies for a job at Homebase and is greedily snapped up as he is simply too obscenely over qualified for the job.
On day one he arrives at 9.30am for his induction, marvelling how civilised it is not to be at his desk by 7.30am. He’s dressed casually, cashmere sweater, yellow cords and check shirt very much the the Man from Jermyn Street rather than C&A. In the car park he spies a friendly face.
“Nobby what the devil are you doing here” he yells across the Homebase car park
Nobby walks over and Jeremy notices that he too is dressed for a match at Twickenham.
“Badger, I’m under strict orders from Melanie to get a job. I’m blowing the payoff from SBC at an alarming rate, so I thought I’d earn a few drinking vouchers”
They are called into the training room and notice that between them they recognise at least half of the new intake. Michael ‘Jonesy’ Jones from HSBC, Ronnie from Goldman’s, Halitosis from BofA and even Spud from AIG. They take their places ready to learn the mysteries of retailing.
“OK listen up” says the instructor, a 20 year old man in the company’s distinctive black and orange uniform. “Today I’m going to show you the new stock”
Terry the instructor holds up a machine that looks like a cross between a hand-held vacuum cleaner and a paint roller. “What do you think this is?” he asks
Nobby replies ” A pool cleaner?”
“How many pools do you think there are in SW7?” replies Terry
“Good point” says Nobby
“It’s for painting walls” Terry helpfully hints
“But surely you get a nice Polish chap in if you want some painting done” says Spud
“My wife does the painting, oils I think, went on a course in Tuscany” adds Ronnie
“I just call Nina Campbell” chips in Halitosis
Terry gives up in despair realising that replacing unmotivated, ill-educated youngsters with motivated, over-educated older people this out of touch, just won’t work. So if you go into Homebase to buy a tap and the sales assistant offers you a simply marvellous plumber you’ll know what’s going on.