Kingfisher buys Dutch retailer

Kingfisher, the Woolworths and B&Q group, has acquired a Dutch electrical retailer for pounds 33.6m in cash.

BCC Holding Amstelveen is a privately-owned chain of 17 electrical retailers in the Amsterdam/ Rotterdam area. It was formed in 1969 and has grown steadily to second place among electrical retailers in the Netherlands, controlling about 5 per cent of the national market in domestic electrical goods. It employs over 400 staff.

Though a small purchase, the BCC deal is part of Kingfisher's strategy of developing a powerful electrical retailing division in western Europe. It follows the purchase of Vanden Borre in Belgium last year and the larger acquisition of Darty, the French-based chain, in 1993. Kingfisher also owns a 26 per cent stake in But, a French electrical and furniture stores group.

BCC's turnover in the year to the end of March was pounds 77.8m while pre-tax profits were pounds 2.5m. "BCC is a well-managed company with good growth opportunities which will continue to be run by its successful management team and will benefit from being part of a leading European Group", Philippe Frances, chief executive of Kingfisher Electrical Retailing, said yesterday. There are, however, no particular synergies and no master plan to channel standard products through the outlets. A BCC spokesman said the deal would allow the company to grow more rapidly.

Earlier this year Kingfisher signalled its intention to expand its interest in Europe in DIY with the appointment of Jim Hodkinson, formerly chief executive of the DIY subsidiary B&Q, to the post of chairman of Kingfisher DIY. Other appointments at the same time signalled the development of long-term strategies for the group. "This acquisition carries forward one strand of our strategy for growth in Europe," Mr Frances said yesterday.

Kingfisher has also opened a branch of B&Q in Taiwan and is keen to expand its DIY interests in the Far East. Its has established an Asian division and is investing in training classes for locals in an attempt to convince them of the virtues of home decorating and DIY improvements.

Shares in Kingfisher fell 7.5p to 699.5p in line with the market yesterday.

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