DIY giant hopes to gather spend of surfers doing research
Underperforming DIY retailer B&Q is to relaunch its web site, as part of a sales fightback.

Chief executive Rob Cissell wants to push more of the retailer's range online because increasing numbers of people are using the site to plan DIY projects. He said: 'A third of our customers are doing research on the internet and we need to get the range onto the web even if they can't buy it [all] online.'

Cissell is under pressure to stop the rot after first-quarter like-for-like sales fell 7.7 per cent at the Kingfisher-owned chain. A B&Q spokeswoman said the retailer is working on site improvements, such as better navigation and bolstering the product offer - 11,000 products out of 40,000 are available online at the moment. The relaunch has been pencilled in for the second half of this year.

The multi-channel strategy is part of B&Q's goal to broaden its appeal and win a bigger chunk of the cash spent on home improvement projects as consumers tighten their belts.

According to the CBI's latest Distributive Trades Survey (DTS), the underlying trend in retail sales is at its weakest since 1992, with DIY among the categories hardest hit.

B&Q's broader thinking is demonstrated in its new Stretch format stores in Bristol and East Kilbride, Scotland, which are testing approaches such as soft furnishings ranges and Ikea-style bazaar areas.The spokeswoman said B&Q was responding to changing customer expectations. 'It is about stretching from core DIY to home enhancement, to win a bigger share of the project.'

B&Q is also rolling out its premium kitchen range, Select, putting pressure on rival MFI. The range, which was launched last year and is in 11 stores, takes B&Q beyond its value heartland.

Kingfisher group like-for-like sales fell 5.6 per cent during the quarter, with profits down 15.6 per cent to£125.9 million.

Chief executive Gerry Murphy warned the pall showed no sign of clearing, with the 'challenging' trading pattern persisting in the new quarter.