AN Australian DIY chain specialising in home improvements and garden products has opened the doors to a new store in Vange – the first of its kind in Essex.

Bunnings Warehouse, in London Road, is now officially open on the site of the former Homebase which has been converted.

The company is the leading retailer of home improvement and garden products in Australia and New Zealand and bought Homebase for £340million in February 2016.

Bunnings plans to invest a further £500million building new Bunnings warehouses across the UK and Ireland over the next three to five years.

Neil Potter, Basildon complex manager, said: “All our team members have worked really hard to get the store ready for opening and have undertaken many hours of training to make sure we have the expertise to help customers with home or garden projects.”

Bunnings began the conversion of 255 Homebase stores this year, with 15 to 20 expected to be delivered across the country by the end of the year.

Team members were already keeping busy in the community ahead of last Tuesday’s grand opening, helping with projects within Basildon.

These included creating a flowerbed, water feature and planted flower pots at St Luke’s Hospice in Fobbing Farm, Nether Mayne, removing skirting and painting walls in the foyer of St Anne Line Primary School, in Wickhay, Basildon and creating a sensory garden at Basildon Hospital’s Polly’s Pad, which provides accommodation for families of sick children.

To celebrate the opening, Jordan Banjo, member of famous dance troupe Diversity, who were runners up in Britain’s Got Talent 2009 ,joined a welcome breakfast for team members.

Jordan, who grew up in Wickford, said: “I’ve had a great time here today opening my local Bunnings Warehouse and meeting the team members.

“Just like Diversity, success is built on strong teamwork and everyone here is committed to making the store a hit.”

The new store has created more than 25 full and part-time jobs.

The site also offers a host of other services, including everything from paint mixing to key cutting, a garden centre, timber cutting and in-store D.IY workshops to learn a host of skills first-hand.

Bunnings is hosting a weekend of events this weekend to give customers a taster of the store.

Customers will be able to enjoy family activities including face-painting, balloon modelling and even join Peppa Pig and George for a story time session.

The closure of the Homebase in Basildon’s Mayflower Retail Park last December meant 48 jobs were lost. Visit