B&Q owner Kingfisher has created a role of group innovation director to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of retail.
Andy Wiggins, who joined the retailer as group strategy director in 2006, has been appointed to the post. He will be responsible for ensuring the group maintains its innovation leadership and works with suppliers to offer customers “new, original and exclusive products”, as well as offering services that “make their shopping experience as easy as possible”.
Wiggins will sit on the retail board alongside other senior executives including group chief executive Ian Cheshire, UK chief executive Euan Sutherland, international chief Peter Høgsted and group property director Ian Playford, who started at the retailer this week.
Shore Capital analyst Kate Calvert said it is important for retailers to keep innovating, even in a downturn. “It keeps the offer new and relevant to the consumer, gives a competitive advantage and reinforces market position, helping you to take share,” she said.
She described Kingfisher’s move as “sensible” and in tune with its strategy to reinforce its position so that when an upturn comes the group will be in a good position to take advantage. “It’s what I’d expect from a market leader,” she said.
DIY retailers, along with electricals chains, have in the past often been slow to ensure innovation in stores, trailing clothing and health and beauty retailers, according to Calvert.
Wiggins will work across the UK, French and international divisions to ensure Kingfisher has “both structures and processes in place to capture, assess and develop ideas”.
Other retailers have also been putting an increasing emphasis on innovation. Earlier this year Marks & Spencer bolstered its management team with the appointment of Cathy Chapman as head of product development and direction in food in an effort to deliver innovation.