Kingfisher to create 20,000 jobs

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The Independent Online
KINGFISHER, the retailing group, yesterday pledged to invest pounds 750m and create 20,000 new jobs at B&Q, its DIY subsidiary in an expansion of Warehouse, the giant shed format.

Kingfisher's plan is to increase the number of Warehouse stores from 30 to 125. Original plans were for only 70 stores by the end of 2003.

Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, Kingfisher's chief executive, said the potential rewards justified speeding up the roll-out. "We are confident that more than doubling the planned rate of Warehouse opening will help to ensure that B&Q maintains its record of growth and consistently outperforming the market and competitors," he said.

Warehouse estimates that 10,000 of the new employees, will be full-time and 10,000 part-time. That figure allows for areas where the opening of a new Warehouse requires the closure of an existing B&Q Supercentre.

The first Warehouse store opened in 1994. The stores' main advantage is their size. At between 100,000 and 150,0000 sq ft each, they dwarf existing DIY sheds, the biggest of which are about 40,000 sq ft. Each Warehouse store sells 40,000 lines.

Richard Perks, at retail consultancy Verdict Research, said the deal was a good move for B&Q, but that it would put pressure on the other smaller DIY chains. "These Warehouse stores work. People like them. Kingfisher has refined and significantly improved the format," he said.

B&Q leads the DIY market, with nearly 20 per cent of the pounds 9bn business. Sainsbury's Homebase is number two.