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Even you can do it, if you B&Q it

The flower on the two halves of the red Sienna wallpaper was perfectly lined up. Attached to the wall with textbook precision, the designer paper seemed ready for years of robust service.
But very slowly in an arch-like motion the textured vinyl peeled from the wall – gracefully rearranging itself on the floor.
My first task at B&Q’s ‘hanging patterned wallpaper’ class was not going well.

At the end of last year the chain, which is owned by retail giant Kingfisher, launched 20 You Can Do It courses in what it claims are ‘basic’ DIY activities

From building a garden shed to applying gloss to a door, Britain’s largest home improvement chain is offering four hours of hands-on training in a variety of activities.

Its mission – to make it easier for home improvement novices like me to gain confidence around the house. But it has another less altruistic motive. If B&Q can encourage an army of potential DIY-ers to bridge their knowledge gap it stands to cash in on selling additional materials for those extra projects.

This weekend the Easter bank holiday is traditionally the busiest time of year for the home improvement chains which could deliver bumper sales. Kingfisher (down 1.3p to 264.1p) and Homebase owner Home Retail Group (up 3.7p to 216.2p) which reports its full-year figures tomorrow are both set to benefit.
At its flagship Gillingham store in Kent, B&Q’s George Dawson, a 68-year-old former bus driver, has been the instructor on the wallpapering course for the past six months.

A self-confessed home improvement enthusiast, Dawson is used to the practically incompetent and the generally inept.
‘The trick,’ he says inexplicably praising my work while picking up the crumpled wallpaper from the floor ‘is to use a liberal amount of paste.’

‘You will be able to go away at the end of this course and hang your own wallpaper at home.’
It was unclear whether this blinding confidence was based on his abilities or mine. Around ten of us had registered on the B&Q website and paid our £10 fee redeemable against future purchases.

To date more than 6,000 You Can Do It classes have been booked by B&Q customers. It is unclear how many have gone on to attempt their new skills at home.

My co-worker Angela has attended seven courses and says she intends to step up to the plate soon. ‘I have been meaning to have a go but it’s more a social things that I come for,’ she said.
Kingfisher will be hoping for a better success rate if its courses are going to make a material difference to the bottom line.
It is to introduce more technical courses such as in fitting thermostatic radiator valves. I won’t be attending that class.

Source : Rupert Steiner - Mail online

19 April 2011
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