Kitchen Purchases Safe as Houses as Homebase Introduces Free Prepayment Insurance

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Furniture store aims to put customers' minds at rest.

Homebase is aiming to boost consumer confidence in the kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms market by becoming the first UK retailer to provide customers with free prepayment insurance on these investment purchases and is encouraging other retailers to follow suit.

One year on from the collapse of MFI, which left thousands out of pocket, Homebase is this week announcing that customers who buy a kitchen, bathroom or fitted bedroom from them will automatically receive independent insurance cover, completely free of charge. The move comes following independent research carried out for Homebase which shows that more than a third of people are less confident about making prepayments than they were 12 months ago, likely influenced by the administration of high profile retailers in the last year.    

A recent report by Consumer Focus* has shown that one in ten people have failed to receive goods they had paid for. The insurance is aimed in particular at reassuring financially vulnerable customers who are often hit the hardest through prepayment losses, which can be much greater in proportion to their disposable income. The Homebase research also shows the average amount lost on major purchases was close to £2,000. Now the retailer aims to encourage consumers to have more confidence in investing in larger home improvement purchases by providing this peace of mind for free.

John Boumphrey, Big Ticket Trading Director at Homebase says: "We know our customers are concerned about paying for expensive items before receiving them and we want to put their minds at rest. The government, trade bodies and consumer protection organisations are putting a major focus on this area and we urge other retailers to protect their customers in this way to help restore consumer confidence in this market. We already offer free insurance with installation services and we know it has given our customers real reassurance. We now want to offer this to customers on all purchases of kitchens, bathrooms and fitted bedrooms."    

For further information contact the Homebase press office at iris PR:
Kathryn Smith: 020 7654 4780 / kathryn(dot)smith(at)iris-pr(dot)com
Press Office: 0207 922 8122 / homebase(dot)pressoffice(at)iris-pr.com

Notes to Editors
*From 'Pay Now, Pay Later' a report by Consumer Focus, the government's consumer body

Homebase research carried out in November 2009

About the prepayment insurance
The insurance has been arranged by Chimera Insurance Agency and Financial Services Authority (FSA) Authorised intermediary specialising in this form of insurance and is underwritten by IGI Insurance Company (IGI) a specialist general insurer Authorised by the FSA. IGI was established in the United Kingdom in 1975. Based in Nottingham, the group was acquired by Bermuda-based AmTrust International Insurance Limited (A.I.I) in April 2007. A.I.I and IGI have an A.M. Best financial rating of A- (Excellent) and form part of the Manhattan-based AmTrust Financial Services, a US NASDAQ listed provider of financial products across the USA and Europe.

About Homebase
Homebase is the UK's second largest home improvement retailer and is recognised for choice, style and customer service across the wider home enhancement market. It has more than 300 large, out-of-town stores throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. In the last financial year, Homebase sales were £1.5 billion and it employed some 20,000 people across the business.

Homebase sells over 30,000 products across its home enhancement ranges, and has a growing Internet offering.

Homebase serves 60 million customers per year through its stores and offers customers the convenience of home delivery for bulky, high-value items.

Homebase was the first UK DIY retailer to achieve Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification and the first national DIY retailer to be recognised with a Government TrustMark Award, achieved for its kitchen installation service.

Homebase is part of Home Retail Group, the UK's leading home and general merchandise retailer.

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Kathryn Smith
Homebase
020 7654 4780
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