In the 1960s professional building supplies were mainly found at builder’s merchants and hardware stores, and DIY was a hobby of the few. Block and Quayle wanted to bring value, longer opening hours and a broader product range to everyone, so in 1969 they opened their first store in Portswood Road, Southampton, Hampshire in a disused cinema. Although initially called Block and Quayle, the name was soon shortened to B&Q.
In a decade famous for avocado bathroom suites and psychedelic patterns, B&Q grew to meet customers’ demand for homes that reflected their groovy new tastes. We expanded across the South East, reaching 26 stores by the end of the decade, and introduced products from power tools through to sheet boarding and Formica to the British public. Block and Quayle were achieving their ambition of bringing DIY to the masses, even if, looking back, the masses sense of style was a little flamboyant by today’s standards.
Everything grew in the 80s: hair, shoulder pads, B&Q’s product range and B&Q’s stores. B&Q bought Scottish DIY chain Dodge City and became part of the Kingfisher Group, then known as Pater Noster.
The world embraced Cool Britannia, and British B&Q embraced new opportunities further afield. B&Q merged with France’s leading DIY retailer, Castorama, to become the largest DIY retailer in Europe, and Kingfisher led an international expansion into China and Taiwan. On the home front, B&Q began opening for business on Sundays so that customers could crack on with home improvements projects whenever they wanted to.
At the dawn of a digital millennium, B&Q launched www.diy.com so that customers could buy bricks (and more) with just a few clicks. Going online meant B&Q could provide 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. With an increasing awareness of the need to protect our plant, we developed a sustainability programme, One Planet Home, to ensure the business operates with environmental responsibility at its core.
The way customers shop, use their homes and live their lives continues to evolve, and we continue to bring customers great solutions that are innovative and sustainable. Take easyGrow, for example – our award-winning range of bedding plants that uses less packaging and supports the preservation of vital lowland peat bogs.
We’re evolving as a business too – drawing on the strength of our parent company Kingfisher, and focusing on creating good homes by making home improvement accessible to everyone. Although we’re nearly fifty, we’re as dedicated as ever to providing great prices and brilliant solutions to customers. And we’re looking to the future with real confidence.