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Masters Home Improvement never a threat

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), November2015-October 2016, n=14,395 (8,748 of whom shopped at a hardware store) Base: Australians 14+

With Masters Home Improvement now officially closed, Roy Morgan Research reveals that over the course of its short existence, the Woolworths-owned hardware chain never posed a threat to its hardware rivals – at least not where customer satisfaction was concerned.

Just as it has been every month since January, Home Hardware is the winner of the Hardware Store category in the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards for October 2016, satisfying a mighty 90% of its customers. Bunnings and Mitre 10 share second spot with 89% each, while Masters Home Improvement is fourth (85%). Only True Value Hardware satisfies a lower proportion of its customers (78%).

Hardware store satisfaction: October 2016


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), November 2015-October 2016, n=14,395 (8,748 of whom shopped at a hardware store) Base: Australians 14+

While a satisfaction level of 85% is nothing to be ashamed of, it is relatively low in the traditionally high-scoring Hardware Store category, and is Masters’ lowest score since February 2016.

What’s more, the beleaguered chain has been stuck in fourth place all year, seemingly incapable of overtaking any of its higher-rating rivals. Indeed, since Roy Morgan started measuring Masters’ customer satisfaction in late 2011 (the year it opened its first stores), it has never risen higher than fourth spot, and actually spent all of 2012, 2013 and 2014 in fifth position.  Not an auspicious start for a business hoping to go up against category king, Bunnings.

Trends in Hardware Store Satisfaction


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), November 2011-October 2016, (average 12 month sample=10,109). Base: Australians 14+ who shopped at a hardware store

Roy Morgan data shows that since Masters launched its much-criticised closing down sale in late August, visitation to the store has risen from an average 1.8 million shoppers per four weeks to 1.9 million. But this increased customer volume didn’t bring improved satisfaction: on the contrary, that saw a slight decline from 86% to 85%.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Masters Home Improvements’ closure was a long time coming, but as we have seen with Roy Morgan’s Customer Satisfaction data, the writing was on the wall almost from the start, with the chain never achieving the satisfaction scores to pose a threat to Bunnings, Mitre 10 or Home Hardware.  

“If success was judged solely by shopper volume, then Masters’ fate may have been different. As of February this year, Masters had overtaken Mitre 10 for average number of customers per month (1,742,000 vs 1,673,000), and was well ahead of smaller chains Home Hardware and True Value. But this never translated into improved satisfaction scores, with Mitre 10 maintaining a comfortable lead in this respect.

 “Now that Masters is gone, it will be interesting to see where its customers go. With almost 1.9 million Aussies per four weeks currently looking for another hardware store to shop at, this represents a golden opportunity for Bunnings, Mitre 10, Home Hardware and True Value to boost their customer base. Furthermore, if they provide better service to these shoppers than Masters once did, they might even improve their customer satisfaction scores into the bargain.

“Obviously, a combination of factors contributed to Masters’ downfall, but its failure to compete in the customer satisfaction stakes is a reminder of what an important piece of the puzzle satisfaction is. True Value Hardware, in particular, should take heed – this one-time award-winner of the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Hardware Store of the Year has seen a generally downward trend (with some fluctuations) since then.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%