Fiona Garcia paid a visit to B&Q’s flagship New Malden store to see how ranges and the shopping environment has evolved, and what’s on the agenda for the next 12 months.


work there. Of course DIY Week was treated to introductions to staff and department managers on the tour round but, even without any special treatment, every member of the public who walks through the doors is greeted by a staff member, who asks how they are and alerts them to a particular


hat immediately strikes you about B&Q in New Malden

is the

fantastic team of people that

department or promotion. Personal touches like that are courtesy of manager Lee Bayliss, who has been at the helm of the New Malden store for just over three years now. A hugely likeable person and clearly an approachable manager, Lee joined B&Q 18 years ago, starting his career as a department manager in Croydon. He took up his first store manager position in Ashford and has managed a number of other branches over the years, before coming to New Malden. Lee oversees the store with

his deputy Eben - another great character - and is responsible for 173 staff at the branch, ranging in age from 18 to 78 years old. Recounting his past and time spent managing B&Q in Leicester where he oversaw a team of 25, Lee

laughs: “That small store

could have fitted in just my décor department here!” And there’s no doubt about it, at 15,000sq m, and welcoming 30,000 customers through the door every week, the New Malden branch is a bit of a beast and quite unique in the

retailer’s broad portfolio. In fact, less than two months after first opening in 2009, the store was hailed by then- B&Q CEO Euan Sutherland as, “the best-performing store in the 40 year history of B&Q”.

Customers can find themselves confused by the footprint of the store, with the retail space occupying the first floor of the building, and the car parking and trade entrance on the ground floor. However, the TradePoint staff – no doubt used to the regular wanderings-in of your average DIYer – happily point people in the right direction, up escalators to the shop itself. In fact, Lee jokes he made the same mistake when he first came to the store. The higher level and multitude of windows on the upper floor make for a really light, spacious retail environment, and the café, up on the mezzanine floor has the same airy feel, with views out over the store. Due to the shop’s size, Lee explains it can sometimes be daunting for customers to find their way around and, therefore, a big part of his team’s job is to help people navigate the shop and find what they need. “The thing about big units like is

these getting people around

them,” he says. “When people first join us, no matter what department they work in, we tell them to have a wander round for an hour or two and understand the store because the biggest question you get asked is ‘where is this and where is that?’.” He adds: “I’ve got to have a greeter

on the front door, particularly on a busy Saturday. We like to give the personal touch, where our people say hello to you as you walk round. It’s like if you’re waiting in a queue and someone says ‘sorry I’ll be with you as quickly as I can’, you’re alright waiting then because they’ve acknowledged you’re there and are doing what they can. That human contact is so important.”

In fact, New Malden’s customers

are so keen on that, the store is now removing all self-service checkouts and replacing them with manned tills. “That‘s what people want… they want to be served by a person,” says Lee. However, he explains that there is a need to provide a seamless service for a wide variety of shoppers in store, from a digital-savvy millennial who would rather be left to their own devices (literally), to a novice DIYer looking for advice, or an older customer who has come to expect and rely upon personal interactions when they shop. “You’ve got to look at the different types of people you serve and accommodate all of them in one

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