Kingfisher is an international retailer with significant UK DIY and trade brands, B&Q and Screwfix Direct, in its stable. The company operates over 700 stores in 11 countries in Europe and Asia.
Kingfisher also has a 21 per cent interest in, and strategic alliance with Hornbach, Germany’s leading DIY warehouse retailer, with over 120 stores across Europe.
Last year faced by adverse trading conditions, which saw the company’s profits halved for the year ending February 2006, it embarked on a transformation programme aimed at streamlining processes around stock availability and visibility in the supply chain, e-procurement and in-store ordering. Understandable, considering B&Q’s profits have declined 67 per cent over the last two years. Since then the UK home improvement market has remained challenging, but progress has continued with the action programme. ‘Service Squads’ are now in operation in 240 stores and an enhanced service model, being trialled in six stores at the half year, will be extended to 30 stores by year-end.
Store revamps are now well under way and B&Q is planning around 25 in 2007, in complement to the downsizing or reformatting of many of its 324-store B&Q estate.
The continued expansion of its Screwfix Direct business beyond its original mail-order model has resulted in the introduction of 38 new-format trade counters.
Gerry Murphy, group chief executive, stated: “In a UK home improvement market that continues to be weak and price sensitive, B&Q remains on course with its programme, announced last year, of improving its offer and updating its stores.”
From the technology perspective the UK brands continue to pursue operational savings, through converged communications technologies, like Voice over Internet Protocol, procurement rationalisation, supply chain renewal, workforce and task management systems and e-commerce integration and development. Since 2005, the company has also used outsourcer Xansa for the provision of application development services.
At the same time, new product ranges in the Energy Efficiency Made Easy at B&Q campaign which began in October showcased wind turbines, solar panels, lightweight loft insulation and plug-in energy trackers to help customers reduce household carbon emissions.