B&Q launches ‘Home Improvement Qualification’

U.K.-based home improvement retailer B&Q has launched a new “Home Improvement Qualification” program which aims to give employees an educational certification on both selling and product knowledge.

The vocational program will offer education in the areas of decorating, gardening, building and “room solutions.” The company plans to launch the program with the decorating section, with participants progressing through all four units before they can earn certification.

In a statement, B&Q spokesman Gill Lewis said, “Our customers … expect a lot from us, and customer advisors need to be knowledgeable not just about the products we sell but also their application and aftercare.”

B&Q is piloting the new qualification -- by the end of 2009, the retailer aims to train 5,000 employees, which represent an eighth of its entire U.K. work force.

In related news, B&Q parent Kingfisher announced sales and earnings results for the 26-week period ended Aug. 2. Total group sales rose 11.1 percent to 5.1 billion British pounds (US$9 billion), while retail profit grew 22.7 percent to $487.66 million on a constant currency basis.

During the period, the company discontinued its Castorama Italy operations, which were purchased in August by Groupe Adeo, a Lille, France-based DIY chain.