B&Q is to go head to head with Argos and Ikea by stocking sofas and other furniture for the first time.

As part of an £18m investment the DIY retailer, owned by Kingfisher, will put sofas on sale over the internet later this summer. It will also stock tables, chairs and a range of kids’ beds and toys boxes as well as big-brand items such as SMEG fridges and Armitage Shanks toilets.

It is the DIY retailer’s biggest push yet in to the home improvement market.

B&Q chief executive Euan Sutherland said the move would open B&Q up to a wider market and allow it to take advantage of a market left up for grabs by the demise of furniture retailers such as MFI.

The £11bn DIY sector is predicted to shrink by 7 per cent this year as customers rein in their spending.

Sutherland said he believed that the DIY downturn would soon bottom out.

He said: “I’m not calling the bottom of the market just yet but there has definitely been a move back to ‘Don’t Move, Improve’.”