DIY retailer B&Q intends to open small-format city centre stores in the UK after the success of similar pilot stores run by parent Kingfisher overseas.

Kingfisher has tested the store model in France and Russia and sees potential for it here in big cities and market towns. The first such shops are likely to open within 18 months.

The shops, measuring between 35,000 and 40,000 sq ft, would be more compact than B&Q’s existing smaller stores, and would feature homewares more prominently than in a traditional B&Q.

The combination of range and location would allow B&Q to compete even more aggressively against Home Retail Group’s Homebase chain and privately owned Focus.

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire told the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit yesterday: “There’s 60 catchments where there isn’t a B&Q within 20 minutes’ drive time and where you have got more than 40,000 people.”

Cheshire also said he believed the global economy was improving but the DIY market remains tough. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see slightly minus markets for the next two years,” he said.