B&Q was founded in March 1969 in Southampton, England by Richard Block and David Quayle. The store was originally called Block & Quayle, but this was soon shortened to B&Q. This first store soon spawned others across the UK; by 1979 there were 26. By this time, the first of the co-founders had left the business: Block left in 1976 and Quayle in 1982.
B&Q grew rapidly during this time through a combination of mergers, acquisitions and expansions. In 1980, B&Q bought the Scottish company Dodge City, and was itself acquired by F. W. Woolworth Company. F. W. Woolworth's UK subsidiary (Woolworths Ltd.) and B&Q were bought, two years later, by Paternoster, who are now known as Kingfisher plc and are still B&Q's parent company.
The mid 1990s saw B&Q open a new format of store known as The Depot (later adjusted to B&Q Depot). This was a forerunner of a new class of store known as the B&Q Warehouse.
In the late 1990s, B&Q became active in the rest of Europe and the rest of the world. First, in 1995 it co-operated with parent company Kingfisher plc to open its first overseas subsidiary in Taiwan, and in 1996 the first overseas large home improvement center in Taoyuan City, Taiwan. In 1998, it acquired NOMI, Poland's leading chain of DIY stores; later that year B&Q merged with France's Castorama. In 1999 B&Q opened a store in Shanghai, and acquired the British hardware mailorder company, Screwfix. B&Q opened the first store in Hong Kong on 1 June 2007.
By 2000 B&Q had 50 of its larger Warehouse stores; this had doubled by 2003. As of May 2007, B&Q in the UK had 332 stores and 39,000 employees. Its 2004/2005 turnover was £4.1 billion and profit £400.5 million, compared to published figures putting turnover at £3.9bn and profit at £162.9m for year ending February 2007. B&Q formerly advertised under the slogan "You can do it when you B&Q it", but this has been adjusted to 'The Real Deal' and 'Lets do it'. B&Q sponsored Ellen MacArthur's round the world sailing success in trimaran B&Q.
B&Q has recently seen a return to healthy figures following radical changes implemented by new CEO Ian Cheshire, including store closures, redundancies at the company's head office and store revamps. Ian has now moved up to the position of CEO of the Kingfisher Group.
In the 2008 Superbrands survey, B&Q was voted the 88th out of 500 in a list which aims to establish which brands have the best reputation in the UK. This was the best score in its sector, higher than Jewson, Wickes and Travis Perkins.
|Country||Number of Stores||Store Sizes||Largest Store|
|United Kingdom||332||Trafford Park, Manchester - 168,450 ft² (15,650 m²)|
|Republic of Ireland||9|
|Peoples Republic of China||20||64,583 ft² (6,000 m²) - 193,750 ft² (18,000 m²)||193,750 ft² (18,000 m²)|
Visitors to both Home Depot and B&Q stores will notice how remarkably similar stores in the two chains are to each other, both using an orange colour scheme and having a similar style layout. Both use an orange square logo, orange aprons and similar slogans. Home Depot's slogan is "You can do it, We can help". B&Q's earlier slogan "You can do it (if you B&Q it)" was changed to "Let's do it", as it is supposedly more female friendly. Furthermore, their websites are very similar in layout, content, and colouring. B&Q's current logos and colour schemes were adopted in the late 1990s (see earlier in this article), by which time Home Depot had already achieved market dominance in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Kingfisher also owns, among others, Brico-Depot, which utilises a similar colour scheme and internal lay-out to smaller B&Q Supercentre and Mini Warehouse stores, and Koctas, which has a similar internal style to Home Depot and B&Q, sharing the orange colour, stylized square logo, orange aprons and having a similar website design.
In December 2007, Kingfisher sold it's 50pc stake in B&Q Taiwan to its joint venture partner. The $106.5m (£52m) proceeds will be used to reduce debt.
In 2007, B&Q won two high profile awards from The Gallup Organization for its HR policies and employee engagement programmes. B&Q was presented with the 2007 Gallup Great Workplace Award which recognises twelve companies for having the world's most engaged and productive workforces. The company also won a further HR Excellence Award for its learning and development strategy.