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B&Q set to ‘combine the best of stores and digital’ for a new, omnichannel, world

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B&Q is set to adapt by “combining the best of stores and digital” to meet changing customer needs in a new world of omnichannel retail, its parent company Kingfisher Group said today.

Kingfisher , which unveiled first-half results today, said that while the DIY retailer remained the market leader in the UK, with its best first-half growth in more than a decade, “we recognize that the business needs to evolve and adapt to a fast-changing retail environment.” It added: “Looking ahead, its customers and market are evolving very quickly and B&Q has begun a transformation programme in this changing environment.”

That will mean improvements to online content as well as “best in class” click, pay and collect services and home delivery. Highlights include a new web-based design tool to be introduced in the kitchen category. At the same time, the company is to analyse its store estate as it looks to reduce the size and number of its stores. In the light of digital, wider complementary ranges will be sold online while in-store ranges will be “tighter”. The first “rightsized” B&Q store was halved in size last year, since when sales densities have improved by 70%. Now the company has 17 more large stores earmarked for rightsizing, of which two have already won planning permission and two have been denied.

Kingfisher group, which also owns Screwfix in the UK as part of its wider global business, today pointed to progress elsewhere in its plans to take the group omnichannel. Unveiling first-half results, it said Screwfix’s mobile click, pay and collect offer had played a part in growing its half-year sales by 23.3% to £386m, while it had also introduced click, pay and collect to 17 French stores, trading under the Castorama and Brico Dépôt names.

Kingfisher Group sales rose by 0.9% to £5.8bn in the half-year to August 2, but pre-tax profits were down by 6.5% at £375m. In the UK and Ireland, sales grew by 6.5% to £2.4bn and retail profit by 17.7% to £166m, but markets were flat in France.

Chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire said that although the French market had seen a “sharp market downturn” in the second quarter, “conditions in the UK were more favourable with better weather and encouraging signs in the smaller tradesman market.” That market had expanded by 7% over the period, helping Screwfix to its strong growth.

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