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B&Q starts store improvement project to enhance customer experience

DIY giant B&Q is to revamp its 27 million sq ft of floor space as it refurbishes its entire 365-store estate to improve the shopper experience.

The retailer said it wants to improve its “out of date” stores and create consistency across its estate – one of the largest, by square footage, in the retail industry – by improving navigation by lowering its tall racking system as well as its display equipment.

It is hoped that the shift will help B&Q extend its market lead over rival Homebase. With the collapse of rival Focus DIY last year, the two remaining competitors in a tough home enhancement market are battling it out.

B&Q said the initiative, which started last month and is expected to be completed by 2014, is the outcome of investment in improved IT and logistics.

B&Q director of merchandising and store planning Steve Delo said that the improvements have led to faster stock replenishment and on-hand availability, meaning that the requirement for “stock to be up in the air [on high racking]” will be diminished, allowing shelving heights to be lowered.

Delo declined to say how much the retailer would be investing, but said that as the revamps are “extensive” there would be a “heavy requirement to get things right”.

Since starting last month, 7 million sq ft of the retailer’s outdoor garden centres have been refurbished and just 39 stores remaining to be remodelled.

The tiles department will be revamped next across the estate. “It’s massively out of date and not in the least bit easy for our customers to shop at the moment. We will also be completely editing the range within tiling,” Delo said.

Each of the refurbished departments will have a modular fit-out that can be easily changed, rather than the current display equipment that requires heavy equipment to install.

Delo said all departments will be revamped with minimal disruption to trading.

Source : John Ryan – Retail Week

01 March 2012
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