New online venture for Screwfix parent

Kingfisher, the parent company of retailers Screwfix and B&Q has paid €10m for a website that connects consumers with home improvement service providers.

Kingfisher, the parent company of retailers Screwfix and B&Q has paid €10m for a website that connects consumers with home improvement service providers.

NeedHelp is described as “one of Europe's leading home improvement services marketplaces” and it is on its way to the UK.

It is an online platform that connects customers who need home improvement help, either in-store or online, with vetted professional tradespeople and other skilled experts.

Kingfisher, which already owns the domain diy.com, said that the acquisition of NeedHelp was part of its 'Powered by Kingfisher' strategy: to build a mobile-first and service-orientated experience for Screwfix and B&Q customers.

Unlike other service marketplaces which aim to provide a directory of tradespeople (called 'jobbers' at NeedHelp), this site focuses on the specialist skills needed for home improvement (although services also extend to cleaning and ironing).

NeedHelp was founded in France in 2014 by Guillaume de Kergariou, who will continue as CEO. While most of its business is still in France, where Kingfisher owns the Castorama and Brico Dépôt hardware chains, it has recently expanded into Germany, Belgium, Austria, and the Netherlands.

Kingfisher plans to roll out the platform in the UK and Poland as well. In the UK, NeedHelp will offer support to B&Q's customers who need help with their DIY;  Screwfix's customer base of trade professionals will be able to source work from consumers needing help.

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. Its acquisition accelerates our digital capabilities and extends the services that we can provide our customers – two central components of our future growth strategy.

"Looking ahead, we will develop NeedHelp quickly in the UK and Poland by leveraging our extensive store network and our differentiated banners that serve both home improvers and tradespeople. This represents an exciting opportunity to create a more complete services offer and to help make better homes accessible for everyone."

JJ Van Oosten, Kingfisher's chief customer and digital officer, who has been appointed chairman of NeedHelp, added: "NeedHelp's success has been built by delivering ease and assurance to customers who want to improve their homes, and the tradespeople with the skills to support them. We know the business well, it is a natural fit with our retail banners, and it accelerates our service proposition. Kingfisher is committed to supporting NeedHelp in unlocking its significant growth potential, by promoting and growing NeedHelp's open architecture with its existing retail partners, as well as with new retail partners across Europe."

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