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Bowens plans $50m expansion amid construction boom

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Independent hardware chain Bowens will spend $50 million on a major store expansion throughout Victoria as the industry weathers the combined pressures of a construction boom, rising prices and supply shortages.

Bowens, a family business that already operates 16 stores in Victoria, will open three new sites in the state and refurbish an additional four in a move the company’s director and chief investment officer Andy Bowen said was in direct response to the current post-COVID construction upturn.

A render of Bowens’ new Hastings store, which has seen its costs increase by 15 per cent due to inflation.

“If we had three, four, five more stores open right now they would be just as busy as our other 16,” Bowen told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. “We need more stores to meet the demand that’s in the market now.”

“Now it’s not always going to be this busy, it’s a perfect storm in terms of government grants and post-COVID recovery that’s led us down this path, but we think the demand in housing and construction is going to be pretty consistent for the next 30 to 40 years.”

The construction and building supplies industry has been consistently busy throughout the pandemic as building sites were permitted to remain open and retailers such as Bowens, Mitre 10 and Bunnings also stayed open to serve tradespeople.

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However, this COVID-induced fillip has meant those same companies are now wrestling with a number of pressures affecting the industry, including a massive boom in new builds, a shortage of key building materials thanks to supply chain delays, and inflation-fuelled price hikes across the board.

“This word’s been used to death, but it really is unprecedented volume,” Bowen said. “There’s massive demand for building materials, and coupled with supply constraints on top of that, it just means our industry is being challenged.”

“It’s just so busy, we’ve never seen it like this before.”



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