B&Q goes smaller than midi

Published:  22 June, 2010

LONDON: Kingfisher, owner of B&Q, plans to expand into city centres with smaller stores in a bid to offset expected sales falls.

New products from France will include click-fit tiles and a space-saving eco toilet with a built-in washbasin at the top that uses the sink water for flushing.

Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher's chief executive told the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit on Monday that the company is already experimenting with smaller, town-centre stores in France and Russia, and hopes to bring the concept to B&Q in the UK within 18 months.

"There's 60 catchments where there isn't a B&Q within 20-minute drive time where you have got more than 40,000 people," he said, adding these were mostly in densely populated areas such as London or in market towns.

Mr Cheshire said the stores would be about 35 000-40 000sqft; big enough to carry a broad range of products, but smaller than B&Q's current mini format.

They would also have a greater focus on homewares and would step up the challenge to rivals like Homebase, which is strong around London, and Focus DIY, which is in market towns.

The initiative is part of a broader focus on innovation as Kingfisher looks to grab the imagination of shoppers. "What is quite clear is there is consumer spending available for things that are different. The iPad is the super extreme example of that, but I think that's playing into a broader theme," Cheshire said. Kingfisher was harnessing the creativity of its French arm for the group as a whole, he said.

New products from France will include click-fit tiles and a space-saving eco toilet with a built-in washbasin at the top that uses the sink water for flushing.

Mr Cheshire was optimistic the global economy was over the worst and that steps to rein in government borrowing -- which may include a rise in VAT sales tax in a UK emergency budget on Tuesday -- would not throw countries back into recession.

But he saw little prospect of much growth in do-it-yourself markets either. "I wouldn't be at all be surprised to see slightly minus markets for the next two years," he said of Britain.

France, where Kingfisher trades at Castorama and Brico Depot, was slightly better, while Poland, a key growth market for Kingfisher which was hit hard in the first quarter by bad weather and national mourning over the death of the president, looked "okay" on an underlying basis, he added.

Sign Up

For the Builders' Merchants News enewsletter.

In the spotlight

Recruitment

Builders Merchants Vacancies – UK Wide

We have vacancies all over the UK for those who work within the Building Supplies sector.

Events Diary