Great Mills (DIY)

Great Mills (DIY)

Great Mills was a large DIY chain consisting of around 98 stores across the United Kingdom. In December 2000, the chain was bought by Focus, a large DIY chain based in Crewe.


Unfortunately most of the information concerning Great Mills and its history has been erased from the internet over time. The company was founded by Biggs, a local building company and was sited on the site of the Old Mills colliery which lies next to the Spoil heap known as Paulton Batch.

The offices which served as the headquarters for the Great Mills company now stand largely empty - mainly used as storage for Focus equipment and also for a small part, as a call centre for the same company. The original Great Mills flagship store is sited next to the offices, and is still open under the Focus branding.

From the Great Mills website (2000)

Great Mills started life as a single builders' merchant in the small Somerset village of Paulton, near Bristol. It was first called Old Mills as the original store was situated within the old mining area. Today the volcano like slag heap still stands tall as an historical reminder of the long gone days of coal mining in Somerset.

The first store was opened in 1972 creating a modest turnover of £50,000. Within six months the store had physically doubled in size along with its turnover. The small but enthusiastic staff of four soon realised their customers were more domestic than trade and they began to identify the emerging home DIY market and the beginnings of the phenomenal DIY craze in the UK.

In 1979 the 14 strong Great Mills Warehouse chain of stores was bought out by the multi-national RMC Group plc. The next year saw a further eight stores added. It was at this point the company began trading under the now nationwide familiar name of Great Mills DIY Superstores. With the backing of RMC Group plc more sites were acquired and over the last 28 years the company has grown to 90 stores trading as Great Mills DIY Superstores and five as the low budget No Frills making a total for Great Mills (Retail) Limited of 95 stores. During this year, 2000, a further four more stores are planned to open. The brand is going from strength to strength. Known for a comprehensive range of decorative material - from wallpaper to paint and everything in between, Great Mills is concentrating on decorating, lighting and gardening to bring the customer the best choice for value and a quality range of product.

An important step forward for the company came in 1992 with the introduction of a central distribution method of delivering product to our stores. This saved many motorway miles as deliveries were co-ordinated rather than having hundreds of suppliers delivering to the same store each day. Now over 70% of the extensive product range is delivered by the Great Mills fleet two or three times a week.

To further reduce distribution costs a new central Distribution Centre was opened in July 1997. The purpose built development is fully automated and operates state of the art computer systems to monitor stock control and to make sure deliveries are made on time to our stores for our customers.

Always on the lookout for new store sites the company is set to grow from strength to strength. More own label products will be introduced to add to the expanding range. It's time to take another look at Great Mills. Main points
*First store opened in 1972
*Celebrated 25th Anniversary in 1997
*3,500 employees
*3.3 million square foot of selling space
*Over £300 million turnover
*Expanding market share
*90 stores nationwide
*Over 20,000 products in range
*Centralised Distribution Centre
*Investors In People Award
*Committed to company wide Environmental Strategy
*Extensive NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) training programme


* (history of Great Mills)

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