Long-term Vision: Jacques Hayaux du Tilly

Jacques Hayaux du Tilly is CEO for B&Q China. He has served at Kingfisher (B&Q’ s parent company) for 11 years, working at senior levels in many key functions including store operations, commercial, IT and strategy. Hayaux du Tilly relocated to China in August 2012 to take the role of strategic and commercial director at B&Q, and was promoted to CEO last November. B&Q, the largest DIY and home improvement retailer in China, has been in the country for nearly 14 years and continues to be a much-watched player in the market.

How would you describe the current China retail market for brands such as B&Q?

JHT: As far as I know, the home improvement market in China has kept rapid development for approximately two decades since its birth. Currently, the traditional building materials market and the home improvement supermarket represented by B&Q are coexisting in one game and competing with each other for development.

In your view, what changes have taken place within your industry since the financial crisis?

JHT: Owing to the economic conditions internal and external in recent years and the constant control and regulation of the real estate industry, the whole industry has come to a turning point and stepped into the adjustment period. After the adjustment, the domestic home improvement industry will enable the superior enterprises prosper and eliminate those that are inferior, and thus gradually become more standard and mature.

B&Q’s role here is to constantly adapt our offerings and services to customers’ needs. We have a unique sales concept with everything under one roof for home improvement. We are able to offer full projects and also partial deco and soft deco, such as lighting, storage solutions, accessories etc. The soft deco is not related to the real estate market. We need to hold our current strength with new home projects and develop solutions that make home improvement easy and affordable for the mass market who wish to improve their homes without moving. The second-hand housing market is a key factor in our strategy to deliver affordable, great solutions to all.

What can we expect of B&Q’ s operations in China in the coming two to three years?

JHT: B&Q has a sound plan for the future. Beyond all doubt, we need to increase sales and grow market share. We will do this through delivering more competitive prices, improving customers’ experiences and generating amazing product offers for customers. As an example, we are introducing some European brands that will be exclusive to B&Q. They come with guarantees for trustworthiness and quality, as they are recognised brands, but at much lower costs. In addition, we have a range of environmentally-friendly and energy-saving products which will reduce customers’ utility bills. Another project involves reducing complexity in stores, and we have recently introduced new systems to reduce the average transaction time and therefore save customers time spent in waiting. Finally, we are testing a new format store that opened this year. It offers the customer a completely new shopping experience by introducing new technology, design, products and services.

Has the economic slowdown created opportunities for B&Q, such as an ability to further implement internal efficiencies?

JHT: The economic slowdown is a coin with two sides for many enterprises. Since the overall situation of the industry cannot be changed, the key for B&Q is to seize opportunities to optimise and improve. B&Q’s long-term strategy is to have a steady and stable development in China. In future, B&Q will further pursue aggressive pricing and provide a credible product offer with more choices. As a retailer, we will always look for more effectiveness to make it easier for customers, simpler for our colleagues, and cheaper for the company.

What challenges has B&Q surmounted, and which remain facing B&Q and the industry as a whole? To what extent are human resources and the supply chain critical factors?

JHT: B&Q has been in China for nearly 14 years. We have introduced an international management model butalso tried to adapt it to the Chinese market. B&Q will continue to be agile and adapt to the changing market needs.

B&Q grows and recruits talented people, invests in their training, respects our teams and the value they add. At B&Q we believe an energetic, accountable and engaged team is a key aspect to implementing and delivering our growth strategies. As a brand, B&Q stands for quality and trust, so it is important to us that the suppliers and brands we work with are strategically aligned. We want to develop stronger supplier partnerships in order to deliver sound products and services for our customers.

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