You’d expect Kingfisher to know a bit about do-it-yourself. But the self-help initiatives espoused by B&Q’s owner extend far beyond painting a wall or fitting a kitchen – it’s helping itself to strong results.

You’d expect Kingfisher to know a bit about do-it-yourself. But the self-help initiatives espoused by B&Q’s owner extend far beyond painting a wall or fitting a kitchen – it’s helping itself to strong results.

Kingfisher’s 24% rise in first-half profits may have been among the more eye-catching of the performances from the quoted sector in recent weeks, but it’s far from alone. Companies as diverse as Morrisons, Next, JD, Debenhams and Dunelm are managing to buck the trend by responding creatively to the conditions.

Managing costs is part of the story for sure, but doing it in a way that customers don’t notice. For Kingfisher that’s meant leveraging group strength to source efficiently, and also to be innovative with product.

For entrepreneurial retailers offering customers what they’re looking for, now is a great time to be expanding. The web presents opportunities for those companies that are prepared to invest to genuinely allow customers to shop in whatever way best suits them.

Not that there aren’t opportunities in bricks and mortar too. All the supermarkets may have been represented at the BCSC property jamboree in Manchester this week, but so were non-food retailers like Supergroup and Schuh, taking advantage of a property market where strong retailers still hold a good hand. The stunning performance of most retailers’ stores at Westfield Stratford City in the week since opening has been a reminder of the power of a physical retail offer that excites customers.

None of this means that the structural changes transforming retailing can be reversed, but all across the retail sector there are businesses that are refusing to lie down and become victims of the economic turmoil. These are the businesses that will be the long-term winners.

The heights of fashion

It’s only a few miles from Stratford to Somerset House but, while the experiences are light years away, London Fashion Week is another powerful reminder of what a powerhouse of the UK economy retail is. Behind the fluffiness and the celebrities is a deadly serious business that creates trends which shoppers all over the world covet. At a time when many of our more traditional industries face huge challenges, the economic benefits fashion brings are becoming more significant than ever.