New chapter for Australia’s first Masters store

The $3 billion Masters Home Improvement venture lasted five years.

The Braybrook site which accommodated Australia’s first Masters Home Improvement store will re-open as a shopping centre (artist’s impression, top) on October 24.

On the north-east corner of Ballarat Road and Burke Street, nine kilometres west of the Melbourne CBD, the property was until nine years ago a series of industrial sites including a warehouse occupied by B&K Express Freight.

Woolworths and co-venture partner, US-based home improvement retailer Lowe’s, rebuilt the holding, which opened as a Masters outlet in September, 2011.

The owners had planned to trade from 150 Masters stores by 2016.

Instead, in that year, they called quits on the $3 billion venture following lower than expected sales.

Woolworths and Lowe’s then sold 61 leasehold and freehold properties Masters occupied, or planned to occupy, including the Braybrook asset, with 13,500 square metres of area.

The buyer, a newly created investment house called Home Consortium, paid $725 million for the portfolio, giving it control of more than 700,000 sqm of retail space across the country.

Last October, Home Consortium sold six of these sites – now leased to rival hardware chain Bunnings – to Charter Hall for $187 million (following this deal, Charter Hall owns 41 Bunnings-leased assets, worth in excess of $1.4 billion, across Australia).

Home Consortium has reconfigured, or is in the process of repurposing other ex-Masters sites into “convenience based” shopping centres.

The outlets – comprising of 485,000 sqm of space across five states – are now rented to more than 50 brands including A-Mart, Focus on Furniture, Nick Scali, Pet Barn and Rebel Sport.

Home Consortium is backed by Zac Fried and his uncle Morry Fraid, who own the Spotlight Group, Mario Verrocchi and Jack Gance, who control Chemist Warehouse, and UBS banker David di Pilla.

Artist’s impression of the shopping centre set to replace the former Masters Home Improvement outlet in Hawthorn East.

The new Braybrook centre contains a 4200 sqm Coles supermarket, Liquorland, Chemist Warehouse and 14 speciality stores. Two mini-majors are set to open in 2019 according to Colliers International leasing agents Stephanie Siadis and Mark Reid.

The brokers are marketing space within several other ex-Masters stores including the next three mooted to re-open as shopping centres in Keysborough, Mornington and Hawthorn East – the latter on a Toorak Road site abutting the Monash Freeway which was for years a gasometer.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of