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B&Q to expand YouTube channel as part of ‘Creating the Leader’

B&Q owner Kingfisher is turning to YouTube with videos showing customers how to change lightbulbs and lay flooring as it aims to grow profits in tough markets.

The home improvement group, which also runs the Castorama and Brico Depot chains overseas, in January completed a four-year "self-help" efficiency drive, which has seen underlying profits more than double.

Kingfisher today unveiled a fresh eight-point plan to improve earnings that includes developing its B&Q YouTube channel and testing a new "do it for me" – or "DFM" – format in China, where consumers are seen as less keen on DIY than in other markets.

The plans emerged as Kingfisher reported pre-tax profits climbed 18.8pc to £797m in the 12 months to January 28. Ian Cheshire, chief executive, said that while times were still "challenging" for customers, this marked a third consecutive year of strong profit growth.

Kingfisher is not planning on help from the market to achieve the £300m rise in profits it its targeting over the next five years, he added. The company has to assume "low single-digit market growth" in its established Western markets, "nothing like the numbers seen in emerging markets".

"Whilst the immediate economic outlook remains uncertain, we face the future in robust shape and with our successful self-help approach now embedded in the way we do business," he said, as the results were announced.

Overall, sales rose 1.3pc on a like-for-like basis to £10.8bn for the last year, but Kingfisher managed to boost its margins through measures such as sourcing merchandise directly.

In the UK and Ireland, profits rose 11.6pc to £271m for the year, even as like-for-like sales fell 1.4pc to £4.3bn – though this measure was flat when the impact of new store space was considered. At B&Q, total sales were down 0.9pc or 1.8pc on a like-for-like basis at £3.8bn. Outdoor product sales performed more strongly, up by about 1pc, as sales of indoor products fell 3pc.

The company's strategy for the chain is to make it easier for customers to improve their homes, through stores that are easier for them to find their way around and by offering DIY education and advice.

Screwfix, Kingfisher's trade-focused chain, grew total sales by 8.2pc to £518m as it added new outlets, ranges and specialist trade desks to serve electricians and plumbers.

The group announced a final dividend of 6.37p, payable on June 18, which took the full-year dividend to 8.84p – a 25pc increase on the previous year's payout.

Source : Emma Rowley – The Telegraph

23 March 2012
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