Ian Cheshire: DIY advice helps build customer loyalty.

Kingfisher 'more comfortable' about UK

Published:  15 March, 2012

LONDON: Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire said he is more optimistic about the UK as unemployment stabilises and events such as the London 2012 Olympics buoy consumer sentiment. 

"The leading indicators for the second half of the year are looking a bit better," he said in an interview with Bloomberg at the Retail Week conference in London.

"I'm slightly more comfortable about the end of the year than I was maybe six months ago," he commented.

The more upbeat tone contrasts with comments in February that the UK was a "tough market" and will continue "bumping along the bottom."

Instead, Mr Cheshire said confidence measures are improving and Britons are "beginning to move on and think about the future, rather than dwelling on the crisis."

The UK will have a "difficult" first quarter and easier second quarter, Mr Cheshire said.

The company is working on innovations like snap-together tiles and adding DIY advice to build customer loyalty. Only about 2% of sales come directly from online, while as many as 80% of people use the Internet to research before or after they buy products.

"The level of contact and interest in contact is going up much faster than the absolute classic online delivery-to-home transactional value," Mr Cheshire said. About 20% of customers who spend the most and have the greatest brand contact want more advice on activities including planning kitchens.

Last month the retailer said annual earnings rose about 20% as the addition of more-profitable own-brand lines and improved product-buying helped combat a "challenging" climate. 

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