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60m B&Q investment includes plans for e-commerce Tradepoint website

Kingfisher, the DIY retailing group, is planning to pump £60m into its B&Q chain to upgrade the retailer’s online offering and add other new services.

The group will use Screwfix, which supplies tools, plumbing and electrical equipment to Britain’s small tradesmen, as its model for improving digital selling at B&Q.

Plans include a revamp of B&Q’s website, which will see a doubling of the number of products available online to 20,000. Kingfisher will also introduce a transactions website for its Tradepoint brand, which is a service aimed at tradesmen and already available in more than 300 B&Q stores.

The group will trial new services at some B&Q stores, including online kiosks where customers will be able to place orders. Staff in some stores will be able to give tips on how to tackle certain home improvement jobs by showing videos on tablet computers.

Kingfisher shares rose 7.3 – 2.7pc – to 275.8p, after analysts published a series of positive notes following a visit to Screwfix’s operations.

“We found Screwfix’s multi-channel offer to be particularly appealing – indeed it is being used as the platform for the group’s multi-channel strategy – as it offers multiple buying and fulfilment options,” said Philip Dorgan analyst at Panmure Gordon

“A trader can order online and collect in three minutes, which means that his cup of tea doesn’t go cold as he waits in the car park. We estimate that Screwfix will make more money this year than Homebase,” he added.

Analysts at Jefferies said Kingfisher was in a “remarkably advantageous position” in two major growth areas for DIY: online and eco (energy saving products).

The positive assessment is a welcome boost to Kingfisher after it reported a 20pc fall in first-half profits last month following heavy summer rainfall, which depressed demand for summer products and kept shoppers away. Screwfix outperformed the group as a whole.

Euan Sutherland, Kingfisher’s chief operating officer, said the group would consider introducing Screwfix into France where it already has two businesses.

“The Screwfix model’s quite unique and I don’t see it replicated anywhere else in Europe, so there’s potential to take it out there,” he said during the analyst visit.

Kingfisher already trades from Castorama and Brico Depot in France.

Source : Angela Monaghan - The Telegraph

16 October 2012
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