Town’s B&Q could be at risk as plans are announced to close 60 stores

60 B&Q stores are set to close over the next two years
60 B&Q stores are set to close over the next two years
  • Owner of DIY chains B&Q and Screwfix announces plans to close about 60 B&Q stores in UK and Ireland over the next two years
  • But it plans to open 60 new outlets under its Screwfix brand with some staff redeployed
  • Comes after firm announced a 15.2% fall in pre-tax profit to £644m for 2014
  • Hemel store could be at risk but is not in first wave of six B&Qs to close

Hemel Hempstead store could be at risk of closure as firm reveals 60 B&Q stores will shut.

Kingfisher, the owner of DIY chains B&Q and Screwfix, is to close about 60 B&Q stores in UK and Ireland over the next two years.

But it plans to open 60 new outlets under its Screwfix brand.

“Kingfisher has said for some time that B&Q UK & Ireland can adequately meet local customer needs from fewer stores and that some of the store should be smaller,” it said in a statement.

Kingfisher also announced a 15.2% fall in pre-tax profit to £644m for 2014.

The store closures will result in a £350m one-off cost.

We must organise ourselves very differently to unlock our potential.

Chief executive Veronique Laury

The firm, which currently has 360 B&Q stores including one near Hemel Hempstead canal, has so far confirmed the locations of six store closures: Southampton, Dundee, Baums Lane in Mansfield, Station Road in Stetchford in Birmingham, Hyde in Greater Manchester, and Barnsley.

But the firm moved to reassure staff, insisting the impact on jobs from the B&Q closure plan is expected to be broadly neutral due to the planned Screwfix openings and plans to redeploy staff to other parts of the business.

Chief executive Veronique Laury said it was “clear” the firm needed to organise itself “very differently to unlock our potential”, and described the move as part of a set of “first sharp decisions” she was taking.

She said the group could achieve “significant benefits” from unifying the group, noting that “customers needs are already largely the same” with the markets it serves “fundamentally more similar than different.”

B&Q said top executives’ roles would now be more focused on the entire company, it would cut the number of products it sold, as well as unify its IT platform across the group.

Other plans include making the most of its vacant store space and it said it was in discussions with several retailers about sub-letting opportunities.

“We are getting on with this at real pace,” it added.