Today Kingfisher is the largest home improvement retailer in Europe.
Kingfisher’s roots go back to 1982 with the acquisition of FW Woolworth by Paternoster. With the deal came a relatively small chain of home improvement stores called B&Q. It was the start of a decade of major expansion which created one of Europe’s biggest and broadest retail conglomerates. The company bought the Comet electricals chain in 1984 and the Superdrug health and beauty stores in 1987. Meanwhile B&Q expanded its out of town presence to become the leading home improvement retailer in the UK.
In the 1990s Kingfisher continued to expand its broad mix of retail businesses. B&Q expanded rapidly with the opening of larger Warehouse style stores from 1994 and the decade also saw the start of the group’s international expansion in the home improvement sector. In 1998 B&Q merged with Castorama, France’s leading home improvement retailer and owner of the smaller, but fast-growing Brico Dépôt chain. In 1999 the first B&Q store opened in China.
Other acquisitions in that decade saw Kingfisher buy Darty, the French electricals chain in 1993, and Screwfix, the e-commerce and catalogue seller of screws and fixings, in 1999.
2000 to date
By the turn of the millennium Kingfisher took the decision to focus exclusively on its home improvement businesses, which were seen as having greater potential and more scope for international expansion. To this end, Woolworths was demerged in 2001 and Superdrug was sold in the same year. In 2002 the remaining stake in Castorama was acquired to create the largest home improvement retailer in Europe.
During the following decade Kingfisher continued its international expansion in Europe and Asia, with the creation of new businesses in Turkey, Russia and Spain, and the development of its businesses in the UK, France and Poland. By 2012 Kingfisher had over 1,000 stores in eight markets in Europe and Asia. With over 80,000 staff and five million square metres of selling space the business generates sales of around £11 billion.