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Interview: Alan Taylor of B&Q on Kingfisher's global store format

B&Q’s new ‘big box’ format is part of a project to create a template for DIY stores owned by parent group Kingfisher across France, Russia and Poland – so a lot of attention has been paid to finding out what customers want from a modern DIY store, says B&Q head of retail design Alan Taylor.

The first manifestation of the retailer’s new strategy has opened at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. It is the result of a project that has lasted more than a year, pulling in knowledge, experience and insights from Kingfisher brands around the world. It seeks to reflect changes to the ways consumers live and shop, with new ranges, new merchandising and a new approach to integrating click and collect operations.

“The remit was to look across the entire group and identify best practice, for the UK and for the European format,” says Taylor. “It was about insights and long-term customer intelligence work,” he says.

The refurbished store in Cribbs Causeway has less physical floorspace than it did before the redesign. “We have taken 28,000 sq ft and given it to back of house operations,” explains Taylor. The remaining retail space has a higher density of SKUs than it did previously, because far more of the stock is stored out of sight.

“Tiling is a good example,” says Taylor. “Everything is displayed the way the customer would want to see it, touch it and feel it, and the product is kept in the collection hub.”

Inspiration has been taken from numerous sources. The B&Q design team considered cosmetics and fashion retailers, looking carefully at their ability to use colour as a point of differentiation. The new B&Q store merchandises its emulsion paint by colour – rather than by brand – as a result.

A race track layout has been adopted to offer different journeys for distinctive shopper missions. Trade customers, or those in a hurry to meet a specific need, can use effective new signage to get what they need and leave; those in a more leisurely mood, such as those choosing paint or lights for a decorating project or looking at new kitchens, can progress at  a slower pace. Interesting products – rather than promotions - are highlighted around the store.

A lot of attention has been paid to multichannel shoppers. There is a separate entrance for click and collect customers, allowing them to make a quick getaway if they want to. And the collection point itself has been the object of extensive thinking. “We looked at airport luggage check-ins and reversed the process,” says Taylor.

The retailer has big ambitions for the format. “This newly upgraded store will play a significant role in how we, and the rest of Kingfisher, shape our stores of the future,” says B&Q CEO Michael Loeve. “The project has been a huge undertaking for B&Q and we’re delighted to see it come to fruition.”

Taylor says that the company is “Very encouraged by the results so far,” and further buoyed by positive feedback. “It is almost like a live test environment. One of the key things is understanding how our customers shop,” he says.

Alan Taylor is a member of the Retail Design Expo 2017 steering panel