innovative merchandising in store. The changes stand the business in good stead to take on competitors in the market, says Lee. “Kitchens are coming out now to make way for new ranges. There are new colours coming in and all the others are now deleted, so we’re selling these off. We offer something like 26 doors now, so, it’s a massive job refitting 300 stores with the new ranges but we needed to do it.”


He adds: “Our biggest is

probably Wren

Kitchens and, maybe, Benchmark in trade. If I’m honest, we get quotes coming in from everybody and I suppose that’s because we do everyday low pricing. People didn’t get it at first but now they do. It’s in the art of the conversation and, when people tell us they’re getting 90% off somewhere, the likelihood is we’re still cheaper.”

New training material for staff working in kitchens has also had good feedback. “It teaches them


all about the new products, how to plan it, spaces planning and so on. You’ve got guys who have been doing it for 12-14 years saying ‘’this is brilliant’.” Having a good bank of store colleagues manning the area also helps. When DIY Week visited on a Friday, six people were working in the department but, on a Saturday, Lee explains there will be 18 employees on kitchens. “There are screens there and from 10am to 7pm on a Saturday they will all be planning.”

Lee says of the impact this is having on the wider B&Q business: “With anything, the only way you’re going to survive is to change. We are changing and we are doing it as a company, which is a huge job as a group. But when we do stuff, people like what we do.”

Adapting and improving Driving greater efficiency across the business has been another key focus for B&Q recently, according to

Lee. “Alongside range reviews, we have focused on our stock and our database routines. So to that point, if something is out of stock, it is virtually 100% accurate.” A bit of a threshold has been built in for small, easy-theft items, like packs of screws, “which people help themselves to on a regular basis”, says Lee. “Our controls are a lot better and that also breeds more confidence in the customer,” he adds. “To keep on top of things like shrinkage, every department has a routine over seven days to go and count or, for nails and screws, we zero the gaps on the shelves. Our improved stock routines have had a multitude of benefits. For, example, two years ago our top stock above shelves would have been full but they’re not now. We’ve got to the point where we only order what we need because the database is closer than it’s probably ever been.” An investment in digital ‘guns’ for click and collect has also made

a difference. “There’s one in each department,” says Lee. “Orders ping through and staff can then go and pick the items. The move from one hour to 30-minute click and collect is a big thing. With these it makes it a lot quicker, whereas before we had a piece of paper. The guns also have all the stock, maintenance and routines


plus customer reviews for us to respond to.” A top five B&Q store, New Malden understandably holds greater stock than other branches and can also sell through clearance ranges for other stores. This means customers are willing to travel. “We have people come from Kingston, Twickenham, Richmond, Wimbledon and Wansdworth – even Guildford, Greenwich - because of the stock we carry,” Eben says. “On Saturday I had someone come from Canterbury because we were the only store that had a particular item left.”

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