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B&Q owner Kingfisher puts the ‘customer first and omnichannel everywhere’ in new strategy

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Kingfisher’s incoming chief executive Véronique Laury has said she will organise the group “very differently”, putting the customer first and omnichannel everywhere.

Laury said that omnichannel was a “given” and must be everywhere in the business, which trades in the UK as B&Q and Screwfix and in Europe as retail brands including Brico Dépôt and Castorama . She said the company must now take a unified approach to sales, presenting the same products in the same way to customers across Europe through a single company culture. Low prices and a unique offer also figured as the company re-stated its guiding principles.

“Everything,” said the company in its full-year results statement, “will be based on our deep knowledge of customer needs and customers’ shopping journey.”

One of the first results of the new strategy will be the closure of around 60 B&Q stores, described as surplus space, and the further expansion of a German trial of the the UK-developed Screwfix format, with outlets in Germany set to grow from five to nine.

The update came as Kingfisher today reported sales of £10.97bn in the year to January 31, 1.4% down on the £11.13bn reported at the same time last year. However, sales were up by 2.9% when the effect of currency fluctuations was discounted.

Pre-tax profits of £679m, before exceptional items, were down on last year’s £742m. After exceptional costs of £35m, pre-tax profits of £644m were down on the £759m the company made last year – a year in which the company recorded an exceptional credit of £17m.

In the UK, Kingfisher sales grew by 5.5%, or 3.2% on a like-for-like basis, to £4.6bn, while retail profit grew by 16.1% to £276m, after a “re-energising” year in which the business expanded its click, pay and collect service and grew online sales by 63%. Work already underway to ‘rightsize’ B&Q store space will continue in the coming financial year as the company aims to remove 15% of surplus space through the closure of around 60 stores as well as ‘rightsizing’ a further six stores.

Laury said: “Home improvement is a great market with huge potential and Kingfisher has a strong position within it with further scope to grow in a sustainable way. However, it is clear to me that we need to organise ourselves very differently to unlock our potential. This will involve taking what is essentially a locally managed set of businesses and creating instead a single, unified company where customer needs come first.”

Single operating divisions across Europe will include big box, medium box and omnichannel, each of which will be standardised across markets.

Image: Farnborough B&Q, courtesy of the Kingfisher image library

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