B&Q announces 22 store closures

Anxious wait for Chiswick staff as DIY firm announces plans to downsize

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The fate of Chiswick's largest DIY outlet hangs in the balance after the announcement that 22 B&Q stores are set to close and 16 more to be reduced in size. 

In a statement to chiswickw4.com a spokesperson for the company said that staff at the affected stores will be briefed over the next two weeks and only then will the locations of the closures be announced.

B&Q's Chief Executive, Ian Cheshire, said “Our new team has taken firm action to improve the trading performance of B&Q and re-position the business for the future. By reorganising our stores we aim to offer customers modern stores to shop in each local area and to keep our costs low so that we can keep our prices low."

Cheshire, who was drafted in three months ago to stem the tide of falling profits, went on to say "We have been shutting older stores each year for many years now, but have decided to accelerate this closure programme because in some local areas we can now serve our local customer demand efficiently with our newer stores and with the rapid rise in property costs some of our older smaller stores are no longer viable.

"We are now able to offer more products in less space thanks to innovations in store design developed from the highly successful Mini Warehouse format. This means that some of our Warehouse stores in smaller catchments can be downsized and still offer our full product choice to our customers. This efficiency means we can reinvest in offering service and low prices to our customers in the coming years.  Our priority now is to develop a store by store people plan for our 1250 staff affected, which we believe will ensure we transfer the vast majority of our current colleagues to jobs in other local stores.”

There are also plans to cut the price of key products and hold aggressive new promotions.  The volume of basic products such as nails, screws and paint will be drastically reduced with up to 40% of the shopfloor area devoted to Ikea style showroom presentations of room-sets.

B&Q's parent group Kingfisher revealed a sharp fall in sales due to consumers reining in their spending because of higher fuel and heating costs and a slowing housing market.  Kingfisher chief executive Gerry Murphy said the trading environment was extremely tough as a result of the sharpest fall in housing transactions since 1989. However, he said it was essential that B&Q takes action to stimulate sales: "You can't just sit and wait for the market to come back to you."

The company said it hopes to redeploy the 1,250 staff affected by the closure of its 22 outlets which include 16 warehouse units and has provided £200m to cover the costs of the programme. Earlier this month B&Q announced the loss of 400 head office jobs to cut costs.


September 19, 2005