Kingfisher's trade arm Screwfix has signed a new three-year contract with payments service provider Eckoh, which will see the tools retailer introduce new technology into its call centre.

Using the CallGuard card payment service, Screwfix can take secure transactions over the phone without those details being heard or transferred into a contact centre environment. Eckoh says the new tool allows the retailer to remain compliant with PCI DSS and minimise fraudulent activity.

Eckoh said the deal gives the company a chance to showcase its capability to the wider Kingfisher group, which suggests there could be further scope, in the long term, for the technology to be rolled out to Kingfisher's other brands such as DIY retailer B&Q.

Andrew Ashby, director of customer operations at Screwfix, added: "As a business committed to providing our customers with the very best service, we wanted to ensure that all our payment processes remain as secure as possible, including transactions through our contact centre.

"CallGuard fulfils this need perfectly and enables us to take payments from customers over the phone in a PCI compliant way, without compromising the customer experience."

Kingfisher recently unveiled plans to shutter around 60 of its B&Q stores over the next two years, as group profit dropped 15.2% year-on-year in the 12 months to 31 January 2015. The changes come as part of a more streamlined strategy currently being developed by new CEO Veronique Laury, who took over from Sir Ian Cheshire earlier in 2015.

Meanwhile with consumers showing a growing desire to employ professionals for home improvement projects, as opposed to doing the work themselves, Screwfix was able to increase its sales by 25.5% to £835 million – up 13.4% on a like-for-like basis. The growth was attributed to a number of additional ranges, a strong promotional programme and the continued roll-out of new outlets complimented by further digital and mobile innovation.

Some 60 net new Screwfix shops were opened during the financial year, taking the retailer's total to 395 outlets.

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Eckoh