History of B&Q
In the year that man landed on the moon we opened our first store in an old cinema in Southampton.
Four decades on we are the largest home improvement retailer in Europe.
In the 1960s DIY was a hobby of the few. Professional building supplies were mainly found at builder's merchants and the service in these large stores could be intimidating to the average DIY'er. Block and Quayle wanted to bring value, longer opening hours and a broader product range to everyone, so they opened the first B&Q store in Portswood Road, Southampton, Hampshire in a disused cinema. Although initially called Block and Quayle, the name was soon shortened to B&Q.
B&Q's list of stores continued to expand throughout the 1970s, and B&Q introduced products from power tools through to sheet boarding and Formica to the British public. Richard Block left the company in 1976, but David Quayle stayed on to take the company into the next decade. By 1979 there were 26 B&Q stores.
B&Q grew rapidly during the early 1980s, buying the Scottish DIY chain Dodge City and eventually becoming part of the Kingfisher Group. David Quayle left the company in 1982, and by the end of the decade B&Q had expanded to 280 stores and was offering customers larger stores and an even greater product range, sourced from around the world.
The 1990s were an exciting time for B&Q. In 1995, the first larger format B&Q Warehouse store opened and B&Q began opening for business on Sundays. In January 1996 B&Q's first store outside the UK was opened in Taiwan.
In 1998 B&Q merged with France's leading DIY retailer, Castorama, to become the largest DIY retailer in Europe. International expansion continued in June 1999 with the opening of a Shanghai store through parent company Kingfisher - B&Q's first in mainland China.
In 2000 B&Q opened the 50th B&Q Warehouse in York and baked a big cake to celebrate the opening of its 300th store in Yeading, near Hayes, Middlesex.
In 2001 B&Q launched its transactional website www.diy.com providing 24 hour, 7 days a week access to B&Q products, expert advice, inspirational room ideas and 'how to' guides, plus general information on our stores, our community activities and links to other useful sites.
In 2002 B&Q opened its first store in the Republic of Ireland at Liffey Valley, Dublin.
On 27 June 2003, Reg Hill, B&Q's oldest employee, celebrated his 90th birthday. On 14 August, sailing legend Ellen MacArthur opened the 100th B&Q Warehouse in Northern Ireland.
On 1 July 2004, B&Q opened its largest UK store at Trafford Park. At 168,450 square feet, it is three times the size of the pitch at Old Trafford and the biggest B&Q store in Europe. Sydney Prior, B&Q's second oldest employee, celebrated his 90th birthday.
On 7 February 2005 Dame Ellen MacArthur became the then fastest solo sailor non-stop around the world completing the challenge on the B&Q trimaran in a time of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds.
In September 2006 B&Q launched an energy efficiency campaign to encourage its customers to make improvements around the home to save energy and as a result save money and protect the environment at the same time. The campaign showed consumers that there's a whole set of simple, easy solutions that can be taken to tackle climate change and also save money such as fitting energy saving light-bulbs, insulating the loft, fitting an energy efficient boiler and micro generation products.
In September 2007 B&Q announced its biggest ever programme of change and as part of this B&Q's 'Colours' decorative brand was re-launched. Other changes involved the introduction of instore design advisors, renovated store space, new colour paints, wallpapers and lighting as well as the introduction of premium brands including Fired Earth and Monsoon Home lighting.
In 2008 B&Q signed a three year partnership with environmental charity BioRegional to move towards becoming a One Planet Living® business in order to reduce its impact on the world's resources.
B&Q was also awarded chain-of-custody certification for both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC).
In a project with the Year of Food and Farming B&Q gave away enough tomato plants for 175,000 primary school children to 'grow their own' as part of its commitment to One Planet Living®. B&Q also became the first retailer in the UK to offer a nationally recognised Home Improvement qualification which is accredited by leading awarding body City & Guilds.
In 2009 B&Q began its one-year sponsorship of 4homes, Channel 4's property strand including established programmes Grand Designs, Property Ladder, Location Location Location and Relocation Relocation.
The company opened its most eco store in New Malden which will be at least 50 per cent more efficient in its carbon emissions than the rest of the B&Q stores through innovative developments such as the biggest single wind turbine on a building and 108 underground bore holes, 100 metres deep which heat and cool the store with energy from the earth. B&Q offered customers a million rolls of loft insulation for £1 a roll.
The company celebrated its 40th birthday in March, and in July introduced 60 double-decker lorries, a move already saving 4,800 miles and 4,600kg of emissions a day.