B&Q owner Kingfisher is set to launch a home improvement business in the UK to help customers resolve DIY disasters following a boom in sales during the Covid crisis.
The company has bought NeedHelp for 10 million euros (£8.9 million). It is an online platform connecting tradespeople with households in need of DIY help.
Kingfisher already has a relationship with the firm in France through its Castorama and Brico Depot stores, but it is the first time such a service has been offered to customers in the UK.
As part of the deal, NeedHelp founder Guillaume de Kergariou will retain a 20% stake and remain as chief executive, it added.
Kingfisher said the deal: “Represents an important step forward… to build a mobile-first and service-orientated customer experience.”
NeedHelp also operates in Switzerland and has recently expanded into Germany, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands.
The number of jobs completed through its platform is set to reach 58,000 in 2020, and Kingfisher is hoping to cash in on the surge in DIY projects as the Covid-19 pandemic saw more homeowners turning to home improvements.
Bosses are keen to stress the service is different to other “marketplace” apps of tradespeople and “jobbers” – focusing on specialist skills needed for home improvement.
Kitchen installations, painting, flooring and bathroom renovations are the most common jobs used on the platform, it added.
Kingfisher chief executive Thierry Garnier said: “To serve customers effectively today, we need to be more digital and service orientated, while leveraging our strong store assets.
“Online services marketplaces are key to the future of home improvement retail and NeedHelp is an established and fast-growing player in this arena.
“This represents an exciting opportunity to create a more complete services offer and to help make better homes accessible for everyone.”
Last week Kingfisher reported a sales jump over the past three months as the pandemic helped drive spending on home improvements.
It revealed total group sales rose by 17.6% to £3.5 billion for the quarter to October 31, with a 17.4% increase in like-for-like sales.
But the company, which also runs Screwfix in the UK, said it saw like-for-like sales growth slow to 12.6% in the first weeks of the current quarter as it was impacted by a tightening of restrictions across Europe.
All of its stores remain open to customers despite lockdown measures, due to their essential status.