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B&Q plc is a British multinational DIY and home improvement retailing company, headquartered in Eastleigh, England, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kingfisher plc. Founded by Richard Block and David Quayle in 1969 originally as Block & Quayle, the retail chain offers over 40,000 products across three hundred physical shops and online shops.

Since 2015, B&Q has been closing a number of shops, in favour of converting some to outlets of Screwfix. The company also has some outlets in Ireland. Shops in China were unsuccessful, and closed down in 2015.

B&Q plc
B & Q Corporate Headquarters building (geograph 2581345).jpg
B&Q's corporate headquarters in Hampshire
Subsidiary of Kingfisher Plc
Founded1969 (1969)
FounderRichard Block
David Quayle
Eastleigh, Hampshire
Number of locations
296 shops (H2 2018)
Key people
Graham Bell (CEO)
ProductsDIY Home improvement tools
Gardening Supplies and Plants
Revenue£3.8 billion (2015/16)[1]
Net income
£220 million (2015/16)[1]
Number of employees
16,717 (2018)[2]
ParentKingfisher plc
Websitewww.diy.com [37]


1969 to 1979: Early growth

B&Q was founded in March 1969 in Southampton, England, by Richard Block and David Quayle, following the purchase and fitting out of a former furniture warehouse in the Southampton suburb of Portswood.[3] Originally called Block & Quayle, the duo soon shortened the brand to B&Q as stock delivery notes and invoices were already unofficially abbreviating the name.

By each working over sixty hour, six day weeks, they were able to repay their bank overdraft within six months of opening, with turnover reaching £1million within the first five years of operating.[4] Following the departure of co founder Block in 1976, the chain quickly expanded, and by 1979, there were twenty six shops across the United Kingdom.[5]

1980s: Buyout and further expansion

B&Q grew rapidly through a combination of mergers, acquisitions and expansions, such as the acquisition of Scottish based company Dodge City in the beginning of the 1980s. The chain was itself acquired by the F. W. Woolworth Company for £16.8m in the beginning of the 1980s, co inciding with David Quayle selling his share, who by that time had a personal wealth of £4 million.[4]

Two years later, F. W. Woolworth's United Kingdom subsidiary (Woolworth's Ltd.) and B&Q were purchased by Paternoster, now known as Kingfisher plc and still B&Q's parent company.[6]

B&Q developed two new trading formats: HomeCentres, retailing furniture, bathrooms, soft furniture, flooring and lighting; and AutoCentres, being similar to a Halfords, the first launch taking place at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, in the end of the 1980s. The concept being to have a HomeCentre, AutoCentre and DIY Superstore with one communal car park.

The forays into these new markets were relatively short lived, and the various sites were sold on a couple of years later. The AutoCentres becoming in the main 'Charlie Browns', the HomeCentres being sold off individually.

1990s to present

In the mid 1990s, B&Q opened a new format of shop known as the Depot (later changed to B&Q Depot),[7] a forerunner of a new class of shop known as the B&Q Warehouse. The company also began to expand outside the United Kingdom.

In 1995, the retailer opened their first overseas subsidiary in Taiwan, and in January 1996, the first overseas large home improvement centre in Taoyuan City, Taiwan.[8] In September 1998, it acquired NOMI, Poland's leading chain of DIY shops,[9] and later that year merged with France's Castorama.[10] The following year, B&Q opened a shop in Shanghai.[11]

In December 2000, Kingfisher plc acquired twenty eight development sites, intended to house future shops of rival chain Homebase from Sainsbury's, who sold the chain.[12] The development sites instead housed shops of B&Q. In August 2001, B&Q opened its first shop in Shanghai, when it hoped to increase outlets from four to 58 by 2005.[13]

B&Q opened its first shop in Hong Kong on 1 June 2007,[14] but was scheduled to close it on 13 September 2009.[15] In December 2007, Kingfisher sold its 50 per cent stake in B&Q Taiwan to its joint venture partner. The $106.5 million (£51.6 million) sale, producing a profit of £25m were used to reduce debt.[8]

In March 2009, B&Q closed twenty two of its then sixty three shops in China, blaming the housing slump.[16] In May 2011, B&Q agreed to acquire thirty one shops in the United Kingdom, from the administrators of Focus DIY for £23 million.[17] During 2011, B&Q opened a new regional distribution centre, at G.Park in Swindon.[18]


B&Q were reported to have a customer base of seven million in July 2016, of which it was estimated 75% use the retailer's website to research their desired products, prior to purchasing in shop.[19] B&Q have customer loyalty schemes, such as the Diamond Club scheme which entitles members over the age of 60 to a 10% discount on Wednesdays on many garden products. However, no new customers are able to join the scheme, after changes were announced on 2 August 2018.[20]

Corporate affairs

The retail chain offers over 40,000 products across their three hundred shops and through their online presence.[2] Reports in May 2007 suggested it was the second largest in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world (behind the Home Depot, Lowe's and OBI).[21]


A B&Q shop in Grimsby, England

A B&Q shop in Grimsby, England

By 2000, B&Q had fifty one large warehouse shops; this had doubled by 2003. By May 2014, B&Q in the United Kingdom had 359 shops, and 20,887 employees;[22] and eight shops in Ireland.[23]

In March 2015, Kingfisher said it would close sixty B&Q shops in the United Kingdom and Ireland over the next two years. It would also close a few loss making shops in Europe. It also said that B&Q UK and Ireland could adequately meet local customer needs, from fewer shops, and some shops should be smaller.[24]

Financial performance

B&Q account for around a third of their parent company's revenues, seeing like for like sales increase by 5.6% in 2016.[25] In the year ending 31 January 2007, sales were £3.9 billion despite overall sales falling by 1.7% compared to the previous year, whilst profit was £162.9 million, a fall from £208.5m during the previous year.[26] Profit fell further in the year ending 31 January 2008, to £131million.[27]

In March 2013, it was reported that the retail chain's Ireland operation was making losses, with their then nine shops making a combined loss of £7m throughout 2012, yet its operations within the United Kingdom turned a profit despite an overall decrease in sales by 5.6%.[28]

International operations

A former B&Q MegaBox shop in Hong Kong

A former B&Q MegaBox shop in Hong Kong

Outside of the United Kingdom, B&Q's only other international operations are in Ireland. On 31 January 2013, B&Q Ireland Ltd filed for examinership in the Irish courts and PWC Ireland was appointed examiner,[29] though shops continued to trade as normal whilst alternative financing arrangements were made.[30]

B&Q Ireland turned to making a loss two years prior, despite the shops in the United Kingdom continuing to stay in profit.[31] The chain exited examinership a few months later in May 2013, following High Court approval for investment totalling €2.4 million to allow eight of their nine shops to continue operating.[23]

B&Q expanded into China during 1999, building up a chain of nearly forty shops, however, opted to sell a 70% controlling stake of operations in China in 2015, due to poor sales and low embracement from the Chinese public.[32] B&Q's parent company had previously sold its 50% stake in B&Q Taiwan in 2007 in order that is could focus on what was then a rapidly growing business in China.[8]


In June 2001, in Poole, Dorset, 69 year old customer Pamela Jean Hinchliffe was fatally crushed by a forklift at the firm's Fleetsbridge shop. In June 2004, B&Q were found guilty of causing death, and the following month, they received a fine of £550,000. However, in September 2005, their legal costs were reduced on appeal.[33]

In November 2002, Damian Nicholls, the forklift driver, was prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service, at Winchester Crown Court. On 16 June 2001, the court was told that Nicholls had hit some pallets, and a colleague commented that he would "end up killing someone". He was acquitted of manslaughter, and of causing death by dangerous driving. However, in October 2005, Nicholls's fine was reduced, again on appeal.

In July 2017, B&Q faced widespread controversy from customers complaining of bad smells and headaches after painting their homes with Valspar paint sold to them. This led to B&Q compensating hundreds of customers, with the problem said to be caused by bacterial contamination in the can.[34][35]


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