Woolworths will sell or wind-up hardware giant Masters
THIS could spell the end of the hardware wars that have dominated Australia's DIY landscape for much of the past decade.
Woolworths has this morning announced it will attempt to either sell or wind-up its chain of Masters Home Improvement stores after a review found it would "take many years for Masters to become profitable".
"We have determined we cannot continue to sustain ongoing losses from this businesses," Chairman Gordon Cairns said.
In consultation with a subsidiary of American home improvement firm Lowe's, Mr Cairns said "we intend to pursue an orderly prospective sale or wind-up of the business".
Lowe's has opted to force Woolworths to buy outs its 33% stake in Masters, an option that became available as part of their joint venture in October.
It is thought the venture has lost $700 million in the past four years.
Woolworths says it will honour all gift certificates, product warranties, returns, and lay-bys and the completion of any contracted home improvements projects such as kitchens, bathrooms and floor coverings.
Any gift cards can already be used at other Woolworths Group stores.
If Woolworths is unable to sell all of the business and has to close any of the operations, it says it will seek to provide alternate employment opportunities within the Woolworths Group to all current Home Improvement employees.
Offloading Masters, which has about 60 stores across Australia, will allow Woolies to focus on other parts of its business empire.
The announcement will be a bolt of good news for Wesfarmers' Bunnings, which also owns Woolworths rival Coles.
Aside from leaving a potentially enormous hole for Bunnings stores to fill, the hardware giant is thought to already be eyeing key Masters sites for its own expansions.
At least 15 sites are on the radar for Bunnings, according to a report by The Australian in October.