30 September 2010

Ipswich to get four new hardware stores as Woolworths' Project Oxygen kicks off at Springfield Central
Chris Garry

IPSWICH'S DIY battle has intensified with Woolworths planning to build another two enormous home-improvement warehouses in the city.

These will add to its Springfield Central home-improvement store which begins construction next month and is scheduled for completion in July.

As part of its nationwide “Project Oxygen” plan to take on Bunnings, the other two Woolworths-owned stores will be built in the eastern and southern suburbs of Ipswich, within 15 kilometres of the CBD, in the next three years.

The news of the new Project Oxygen stores comes just a week after it was revealed that Bunnings is intending to build a two-storey centre in West Ipswich.

This means that by 2014 there will likely be five large hardware stores in Ipswich, a giant leap from the city's sole Bunnings in Booval.

Ipswich City Council's Planning and Development chairman Paul Tully said having five home-improvement warehouses within Ipswich would see people travel west from Brisbane to shop for the first time.

“This is a real boom for the city and it will see many people from Brisbane travel out here to shop for the day,” Cr Tully said.

“Since Riverlink was built we have halved the retail expenditure lost from Ipswich and this will help that figure immensely.

“Woolworths has advanced plans for another two stores within several kilometres of the CBD and we are just waiting for an application from them.”

A Woolworths' spokeswoman refused to reveal the company's plans for Ipswich.

“We want to have stores in growth areas and Ipswich is certainly that but we also want to keep an air of excitement about the stores so we are keeping things under wraps,” the spokeswoman said.

Bunnings also has a similar position on its prospective West Ipswich store, refusing to comment on the proposed centre.

Woolworths' spokeswoman did state that Project Oxygen was making fast progress at Springfield Central.

“The store is full steam ahead and we expect to begin construction in the next few weeks,” she said.

“It will provide 130 jobs to the local community.”

Project Oxygen stores are alleged to be in the Ikea mould, with customers able to buy entire kitchens and lounge sets as well as general home wares and tools.

Bunnings Booval customers welcomed the competition another four hardware stores would bring.

“I think its great news,” Raceview's Brett Fuller said.

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