HARDWARE STORES

B&Q revamping numerous U.K. stores

BY HBSDEALER Staff

B&Q, the United Kingdom-based big-box home improvement retailer, is in the midst of a major renovation of several of the company’s stores. Twenty-five large format stores are on deck for a new renovation with eight renovations currently underway.

B&Q is known for large, orange, big-box retail stores in U.K. suburbs, similar to Home Depot in size and selection. The new renovations feature an expanded flooring department, with a streamlined display to highlight the color selection of wood, laminate, vinyl and carpet products. The new stores feature a “carpet shop” with a wide variety of product, according to the retailer’s Web site.

The stores include a newly refurbished “Garden Centre,” with items including greenhouses, landscaping products, natural stone paving products and outdoor furniture.

Anew lighting department highlights new styles, including designs for children, external lighting and solar lighting options. The department also features a streamlined design for easier shopping.

The stores’ paint departments also have been updated to include more colors from the company’s brands, Dulux and Crown paints.

“B&Q is making good progress modernizing its stores and updating its ranges,” said Gerry Murphy, B&Q group chief executive, at the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July. B&Q is a subsidiary of Kingfisher, which owns other European home improvement retail chains including Castorama, Trade Depot and Screwfix.

Sales at B&Q stores fell 3.6 percent in the second quarter, with much lower sales in the lawn and garden segment because of adverse spring and early summer weather conditions across the United Kingdom.

In addition to the modernization, the company plans to downsize six large stores, while revamping or relocating another 36 “Supercentre” stores. New stores include the modernized look, and by the end of 2008, the company expects to have 154 of its 313 stores modernized.

This year, B&Q also furthered its expansion into China, with a 120,000-square-foot store in Hong Kong. The company currently has about 60 locations in China, with stores in Taiwan and South Korea.

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Corporate news

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Orgill held its fall dealer market last month at the Las Vegas Convention Center, focusing on areas like builders hardware, rental, agricultural and sporting goods, bagged goods, kitchen and bath, lawn and garden and lock services. In worldwide sourcing, there were more than 400 new products on display.

Ace Hardware has completed skills transfer and information technology (IT) training sessions in partnership with IBM’s Global Technology Services business unit. IBM designed and performed training services for Ace’s inventory management application in several of the co-op’s 4,600 stores.

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Rona opens new 80,000-square-foot store near Montreal

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Rona, the Boucherville, Quebec-based big-box home improvement retailer, has opened a new $15 million, 80,000-square-foot store in Pierrefonds, Quebec, which features the singular name “Rona” with no additional signs, the first such store in a planned rebranding effort.

Many Rona stores carry the additional names of “Home & Garden” or “L’Entrepot.” The company said in a statement it plans to “gradually standardize the names of its stores” under the Rona banner.

“The company is planning to use this approach — which is already being implemented for its proximity stores — in naming new stores as they are built and renaming existing stores as they are renovated,” read a statement from Rona.

“The West Island [of Montreal] is enjoying healthy economic and demographic development and combines older, established neighborhoods and new residential sectors,” explained Pierre Dandoy, Rona executive vp of big-box stores. “These conditions are ideal for Rona’s product and service offer.”

This is Rona’s 367th location in Quebec. In all, the company operates a network of 669 franchise, affiliate and corporate stores throughout Canada.

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