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FoundedMarch 1969; 53 years ago (1969-03)
FounderRichard Block
David Quayle
Number of locations
296 shops (H2 2018)
Area served
United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
Key people
Graham Bell (CEO)
ProductsDIY Home improvement tools
Gardening Supplies and Plants
Revenue£3.8 billion (2015/16)[1]
£220 million (2015/16)[1]
Number of employees
16,717 (2018)[2]
ParentKingfisher plc

B&Q PLC is a British multinational DIY and home improvement retailing company, headquartered in Eastleigh, United Kingdom, 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 300 physical stores and online shops.

The company also has some outlets in Ireland. Shops in China were unsuccessful, and closed down in 2015.


1969 to 1979: Early growth[edit]

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[edit]

B&Q grew rapidly through a combination of mergers, acquisitions and expansions, such as the acquisition of Scottish based company Dodge City at the beginning of the 1980s. The chain was itself acquired by the F. W. Woolworth Company for £16.8m at the beginning of the 1980s, coinciding 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, at 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[edit]

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 was 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]

In 2020, B&Q announced a sales increase of 17.6pc to £3.5bn for the quarter to October 31, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during which people spent money on home improvements.[19]

In March 2021, B&Q said that it is expected to open in Saudi Arabia by fall introducing home improvement products. [20]


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.[21] 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.[22]

Corporate affairs[edit]

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).[23]


A B&Q store 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;[24] and eight shops in Ireland.[25]

In March 2015, Kingfisher said it would close sixty shops of B&Q 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.[26]

Financial performance[edit]

B&Q account for around a third of their parent company's revenues, seeing like for like sales increase by 5.6% in August 2016.[27] 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.[28] Profit fell further in the year ending 31 January 2008, to £131million.[29]

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%.[30]

International operations[edit]

A former B&Q MegaBox outlet in Hong Kong (2007)

Outside of the United Kingdom, B&Q's other international operations are in Ireland and recently, in 2022, B&Q expanded into Saudi Arabia. On 31 January 2013, B&Q Ireland Ltd filed for examinership in the Irish courts and PWC Ireland was appointed examiner,[31] though shops continued to trade as normal whilst alternative financing arrangements were made.[32]

B&Q Ireland turned to making a loss two years prior, despite the shops in the United Kingdom continuing to stay in profit.[33] 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.[25]

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.[34] B&Q's parent company had previously sold its 50% stake in B&Q Taiwan in 2007 in order to 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.[35]

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.[36][37]


  1. ^ a b "Kingfisher Annual Report 2009/10 - Report home - Business review - Financial review - Trading review - UK & Ireland". Kingfisher.co.uk. 30 January 2010. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Company Information". B&Q. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  3. ^ Sawyer, Miranda (17 July 2004). "Fear of diy-ing". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  4. ^ a b "David Quayle Obituary". The Telegraph. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  5. ^ "B&Q Online: From Kitchens & Bathrooms to Sheds & Paving; plus planning tools". Diy.com. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Kingfisher plc : Home – Investors – Press releases". Kingfisher.com. 30 October 2002. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c "B&Q owner to sell Taiwan shops". BBC News. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Western influx underscores potential | Find Articles at BNET.com". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Top 10 dealers on Earth grow 21.7% | Find Articles at BNET.com". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  11. ^ "B&Q sets its sights on ambitious shop roll-out - Shanghai B and Q Building Material Supermarket Co - International Pages - Brief Article | Find Articles at BNET.com". Findarticles.com. 6 August 2001. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Sainsbury's sells Homebase". BBC News. 22 December 2000. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  13. ^ "B&Q opens Shanghai megastore". news.bbc.co.uk. 8 August 2001. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  14. ^ "First B&Q store to open in Hong Kong". Kingfisher.com. 1 June 2007. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Kingfisher to close B&Q store in Kowloon Bay". The Standard. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  16. ^ Wood, Zoe (26 March 2009). "Kingfisher makes deep cuts in B&Q's Chinese chain | The Guardian". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  17. ^ "B&Q owner Kingfisher buys 31 Focus DIY shops". BBC News. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  18. ^ Swindon Advertiser, accessed 31 March 2015
  19. ^ "Pandemic helps drive sales at B&Q owner". independent. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  20. ^ "British DIY retail giant B&Q to open in Kingdom". Arab News. 9 March 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  21. ^ "How B&Q analyses the customer journey". Essential Retail. 5 July 2016. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  22. ^ "B&Q Club - Terms and Conditions". diy.com. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  23. ^ "Interest rate worries cloud Kingfisher". Reuters. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Kingfisher PLC About Us". kingfisher.com. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Further job losses avoided as B&Q exits examinership". Irish Times. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Kingfisher to close about 60 B&Q shops". BBC News. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  27. ^ "B&Q owner Kingfisher beats expectations with DIY sales surge". The Telegraph. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  28. ^ "B&Q firm upbeat but profit falls". BBC News. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  29. ^ "Revamp programme gathers pace - Annual Report and Accounts 2007/08". Kingfisher. February 2008. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  30. ^ "B&Q sales slump hits Kingfisher". The Guardian. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  31. ^ "B&Q owner's Kingfisher puts Irish arm into examinership". BBC News. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  32. ^ "Examiner appointed to DIY chain B&Q Ireland". RTÉ News. 31 January 2013.
  33. ^ "B&Q owner Kingfisher puts Irish arm into rescue process". The Telegraph. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  34. ^ "Kingfisher sells B&Q China stake as DIY fails to take off". The Guardian. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  35. ^ "UK | B&Q forklift death appeal fails". BBC News. 27 September 2005. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  36. ^ Thomas, Lydia (19 July 2017). "B&Q in payouts over bad paint smells". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  37. ^ Ward, Victoria (20 July 2017). "B&Q customers compensated after complaining that paint smells like cat urine". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 11 June 2019.

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