Kingfisher has launched a new international brand designed at simplifying and demystifying home improvement to encourage people to take on DIY projects. It combines elements of the successful Screwfix model and, mirroring other home brands such as IKEA, puts more emphasis on the importance of design and innovation to enhance the home.

What we've seen

  • Kingfisher has opened its first 'GoodHome by B&Q' store, in Wallington near Croydon. The 1,615 sq ft store offers around 6,000 products with a further 20,000 products available for next-day click & collect or home delivery.

  • The GoodHome brand is more than just a new store concept, the brand is also carried on new product ranges designed to blend value, simplicity and quality.

  • Younger DIY shoppers place greater importance on factors such as the in-store environment, advice, support and digital solutions when deciding where to shop compared to their older counterparts who prioritise plenty of car parking and the widest range.

  • Mintel trend Rebirth of Cities explores how growing urbanisation, with too many people in too little space is transforming the way people are living.

A fresh approach to DIY shopping

Kingfisher has unveiled a brand new DIY retailing concept in the form of 'GoodHome by B&Q'. The new brand is designed to simplify and demystify home improvement at a time when people are increasingly turning away from DIY.

The first GoodHome by B&Q store opened in Wallington, near Croydon, on 23 May 2019. The store leverages digital shopping solutions, inspirational displays and expert in-store help for those planning a home improvement project.

The new concept also fits with the ONE Kingfisher strategy in that it will be a new international brand, further helping to unify the European businesses.

Figure 1: Store displays in GoodHome by B&Q, May 2019
[graphic: image 1]
Source: Mintel

The GoodHome by B&Q brand will cover a range of products that focus on clever and affordable design solutions to make life simpler, such as the rimless toilet to make cleaning easier. Alongside the product range, a new store concept has launched to better suit the changing way in which people are shopping.

In particular, Mintel research shows that younger people a more likely to prioritise the in-store environment, advice and support and click & collect rather than traditional features of a DIY store like widest range and ease of parking.

Figure 2: Important factors in deciding where to shop, by customer profile, March 2019
Base: 1,423 internet users aged 16+ who bought DIY/home improvement products in the last 12 months

“What were the most important factors in deciding where to shop for DIY/home improvement products in the last 12 months? Please select up to 3.”

[graphic: image 2]
Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

Getting the balance of size and convenience right

The huge success of the Screwfix business and the relatively weak performance of the B&Q brand in recent years has highlighted how important convenience and speed are to trade customers. Meanwhile, non-trade customers were still only being offered an often overwhelming and confusing big-box store experience.

The GoodHome store concept appears to learn the lessons of Screwfix, and applies them to the consumer business. Unlike the previous small-concept store on the Holloway Road, this is much more designed around the needs of the modern consumer, and less about just providing a miniature version of a big-box store.

But while the store is undoubtedly convenient for those living very locally. it will have a very small catchment due to the tiny car park (seven spaces). One question has to be about why the store needs to be quite so small. At 1,615 sq ft, its selling space is around 1.6% of the size of a typical B&Q warehouse store. This tiny size may be suitable to a very high footfall area where people can nip out for advice while they're at work, right in middle of high density cities for example, but seems unnecessary in a fairly suburban area like Wallington.

Indeed, the small size seems to heavily restrict its potential success, while Kingfisher is clearly looking to move away from out of town big-box stores, it might do better to look at stores of more like 20,000 sq ft; about a fifth the size of a typical B&Q but with enough space for a decent sized range to be viewed. This would be a similar size to the urban store introduced by Leroy Merlin in Paris (see French retailers are investing again in city centres - 29th January 2019).

Figure 3: Collection point in GoodHome by B&Q, May 2019
[graphic: image 3]
Source: Mintel

The declining role of the big-box store

Kingfisher's unveiling of the new GoodHome brand demonstrates the importance of convenience and simplicity in giving people the confidence to embark on DIY projects and if implemented correctly, could become the preferred option of consumers.

However, if the GoodHome brand caters effectively to the needs of consumers, and Screwfix to the needs of the trade, what role would the B&Q big-box format play?

The truth is that the big-box store concept has found itself increasingly left behind in a world where consumers increasingly expect the retailer to do the leg-work for them. Across many sectors, from grocery to electricals retailing, we have seen how consumers no longer want to trawl the aisles, when digital innovations and improved logistics mean they have come to expect a more personalised experience with delivery taken care of by the retailer.

As a result, the big-box store format has struggled to maintain the dominance it once held, and for B&Q it may be a case of continuing to re-think the way it uses the huge in-store space it has, and perhaps looking to downsize these to a more manageable and appropriate scale while increasing the size of the GoodHome stores to find the future sweet-spot.

Figure 4: Split of Kingfisher UK sales by brand, 2011-18
[graphic: image 4]
Source: Kingfisher/Mintel

Success of the GoodHome brand likely to depend on next CEO

While the launch of the GoodHome brand is a statement of intent from Kingfisher it is also one that is clearly borne of Veronique Laury's ONE Kingfisher transformation strategy. That strategy aimed to unify and simplify the international Group and this is a consumer-facing step in achieving that goal.

But the transformation strategy has faced many problems and three years into the five year plan it was announced that the mastermind behind the strategy, Veronique Laury would be stepping down once a successor could be found. With this in mind, the ultimate success of the GoodHome brand is likely to depend heavily on whoever takes over the role of CEO.

What it means

If trade customers are better served at Screwfix and consumers at via the new GoodHome brand, the B&Q business may see its share of total sales continue to decline.

The introduction of the GoodHome business is one of the first major customer-facing concepts that has come from Veronique Laury's ONE Kingfisher transformation strategy. But it may have come too late, with the search for her successor already underway. The future success of the new concept is likely to depend on the views and priorities of her successor.

Younger consumers in particular expect more from DIY retailers and a new design-led home improvement concept like GoodHome could look to partner with complementary businesses to expand their appeal. Sharing digital showrooms with another digital, design led retailer such as, for example, could provide a more holistic proposition for consumers looking to improve and develop their homes.

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