Kingfisher cedes control of China arm

UK-based home improvement retailer Kingfisher is to sell a 70 per cent controlling stake in its B&Q China business.

The company has entered into a binding agreement with Wumei Holdings for a total cash consideration of £140 million. Kingfish says the deal follows an earlier announcement it would seek a strategic partner to help develop its B&Q business in China.

The transaction is conditional on Chinese Ministry of Commerce approval and, assuming approval, is expected to close during the first half of next year.

Véronique Laury, Kingfisher’s group CEO said the company was pleased to have found a strategic partner “who will help us to release the financial value of our business in China”.

“This will enable us to focus our financial resources and management talent on the large and attractive European home improvement market.”

Kingfisher, the third largest home improvement retailer in the world, has 1176 stores in 11 countries in Europe and Asia. Its main retail brands are B&Q, Castorama, Brico Dépôt and Screwfix. Kingfisher also operates the Koçtaş brand, a 50% joint venture in Turkey with the Koç Group.

B&Q China opened its first store in China in 1999 and now has 39 stores in the market, with over 3000 employees.

Wumei Holdings is one of China’s leading retail chain store operators. It was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Beijing. The retail network comprises around 650 supermarkets and 10 department stores in northern, eastern and western China with a sales area of over 1.4 million sqm. It is the controlling shareholder of Hong Kong listed Wumart Stores and Shanghai listed Xinhua Department Store. Its brands include Wumart, Jingbei Shopping Mall, Merrymart, Xinhua Department Store, Zhejiang Gongxiao and Laodafang.

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