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Ian Cheshire talks state stimulus and store estates

LONDON: Ian Cheshire, chief executive of B&Q owner Kingfisher, called for government initiatives to stimulate the British economy after the company missed first-half profit forecasts.

Mr Cheshire also revealed that B&Q is reassessing its 360 stores to determine what size estate it needs in a ‘multi-channel world’.

The average B&Q store measures around 100 000sq ft, but Mr Cheshire said that as multi-channel retail grows, B&Q would need stores of just 80 000sq ft.

He added that one way of reducing the size of stores would be to sublet to other retailers. Rival Wickes is in the midst of trying to carve up its stores in a similar way, in light of growing online sales.

B&Q has begun a property review. “We’re looking very carefully at every foot of space,” Mr Cheshire said, adding that there was great rush to cut space as all stores are ‘cash positive’.

The average lease length of a B&Q store is between seven and eight years but, "We’d be very happy to get out of some B&Q stores over time,” he said.

Mr Cheshire commented that the 29 Focus stores acquired last year accounted for 3% of sales in the first-half. He admitted that he was “very interested” in further acquisitions to take the Screwfix business from 240 stores to 390.

He said Screwfix held up well in the half and that there is “no reason why Screwfix shouldn’t be taken to other countries”.

B&Q is about to undertake a head office redundancy consultation process as it seeks efficiencies. Mr Cheshire was unable to say how many of the 1200 staff would be affected.

Source : Builders’ Merchants News

17 September 2012
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