Home improvement retailer B&Q has announced plans to recruit 800 new workers, particularly kitchen and bathroom designers; however, there are concerns that other jobs within the company may be lost. This is all part of a new system B&Q is introducing for its kitchen and bathroom sales.
The new system aims to ensure that customers only deal with one member of staff throughout the sales process. This should reduce the time from initial design to eventual delivery, in turn speeding up the buying process as a whole. It will also change the running of B&Q’s bathroom and kitchen departments.
Currently, around 90 per cent of customers use third-party fitters to install these products; therefore, B&Q plans to reduce the installation services it offers and instead focus on the selection, design and ordering of its 25 available kitchens. Staff will all be trained on B&Q Spaces, which is B&Q’s interactive design tool.
It is estimated that 300 installers from B&Q’s Homefit service, based across 14 different locations, could lose out because of the changes. A further 400 staff members from B&Q’s in-store design section are also likely to be impacted. This would mean that 700 employees are facing uncertain futures.
B&Q currently has around 27 000 staff in total. Whilst the company has promised no staff will be worse off because of the restructuring, it is unclear how this will work. B&Q has promised the creation of 400 new jobs as a result of the new service; however, what will happen to the existing employees remains uncertain.
B&Q has worked with the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) so that installers can have free membership of BiKBBI for the next year. This will enable them to be listed on BiKBBI’s lists of available installers and in turn be recommended to B&Q customers who ask for information about installation.
B&Q installers are self-employed and can already take contracts outside B&Q Homefit. Installation bookings with Homefit were available until 6 July 2018 and the service will remain in place until December.
Paul Crisp, the retail director of B&Q, claims the changes are a response to new technologies and changing customer priorities. They will make buying a kitchen or bathroom much simpler for customers, and B&Q will support the staff members who are facing difficulties. Meanwhile, B&Q’s rival Wickes has announced a recruitment drive particularly targeted at B&Q employees who may be affected by the restructuring.
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