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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
B&Q opens Shanghai megastore
B&Q 's Yangpu store in Shanghai
B&Q opted to open the Shanghai megastore on 8 August
Home improvements retailer B&Q has opened its biggest store yet, in China, where it hopes to increase its outlets from four - including the new store - to 58 by 2005.

The Yangpu store in Shanghai is the size of two football pitches, with 180,000 square feet of selling space, almost double the UK average.

Geoff Mulcahy, chief executive of B&Q parent company Kingfisher said at the opening that Asia was Kingfishers' most rapidly growing business area.

Kingfisher expects sales in the Asia-Pacific region to increase by between 25% and 30% in the group's current financial year.

No wallpaper

"Chinese customers' lifestyles and DIY needs means that in many ways we have to operate quite a different business model from our stores in the UK", said B&Q CEO Bill Whiting.

The new Shanghai store will offer some ranges and products seen in UK stores, but no wallpaper - as it is not suitable for Shanghai's humid climate, he said.

It will offer customers soft furnishings, but the garden centre, a major part of the UK format, will play a small role.

"The concept of gardening doesn't really exist as space is so limited," said B&Q.

The retailer hopes to tap into growing enthusiasm for DIY home improvement among Chinese consumers. B&Q said the DIY market had mushroomed to $22bn (15.5bn) last year from a mere ($6.4bn) in 1998.

DIY has taken off along with rising living standards, which have enabled many urban Chinese to redecorate cramped and bare apartments.

New homeowners

Shanghai has also experienced a building boom as the city government has pulled down city centre slums and built extensive new suburbs.

A flat in these new districts can be a mixed blessing as they are handed over as bare shells needing partition walls, doors and floor as well as kitchen equipment and bathrooms.

"DIY in China is actually more a case of BIY - Buy-It-Yourself, " said the retailer.

To help customers move these hefty purchases around the Yangpu store, B&Q has installed a 'travelator' between its two vast floors. A travelator is an escalator able to carry trollies.

B&Q opened its first store in mainland China in 1995.

It also has 10 stores in Taiwan, as well as outlets in Turkey and Poland.

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