Staff given more responsibility
B&Q chief executive Ian Cheshire used the Retail Week Conference to explain how he is changing the culture within the business in order to improve customer service and drive sales.

He says: 'B&Q is on a journey right now to be the first and only source for home improvement products - a multi-specialist under one roof.'

Cheshire believes that customer service reflects the culture of a business and he wants a culture where all of his staff are engaged, motivated and taking responsibility for the success of their store. Decisions on which managers will be promoted, or even dismissed, are being made based on the measure of engagement among their staff.

Store teams are being given a certain level of responsibility for store plans and stock decisions, based on their local knowledge, and anecdotal evidence is impressive. 'It is about finding the trading levers to make that store the first and only in its catchment area - not some theoretical average store,' he says. 'There is an energy that you don't get if you drive everything out of head office. People buy more stuff from people who are switched on and interested.'

Cheshire also disputes that B&Q's increased focus on providing services will take business from its trade customers. 'Small tradesmen aren't scared of the competition from B&Q's installation service. If we do a better job at selling bigger projects we will create more work for our trade customers,' he said.