B&Q axes top comms role as Coutts departs

Struggling DIY retailer B&Q has scrapped its top comms role as stalwart Lorian Coutts prepares to depart after more than 11 years.

B&Q is owned by Kingfisher – one of the worst performers in the FTSE 100 this year – and news of Coutts' exit comes after a tough period for the parent group.

A 34 per cent drop in profits at Kingfisher's UK division, of which B&Q makes up the majority, meant grim results for the six months to 30 July.

B&Q is cutting 400 of 1,400 head-office jobs and closing 22 stores. It has also changed its long-running slogan from 'You can do it if you B&Q it' to 'B&Q: the real deal'.

Coutts will leave next week and is not being replaced as comms director. B&Q corporate comms manager Jacqueline Caston will take control of the Hampshire-based, six-strong PR team.

Coutts, who formerly worked at Hill & Knowlton, said: 'I am leaving of my own accord. I look forward to new challenges and plan to work with a couple of agencies on the CSR side.'

B&Q has been slashing prices as part of weekend special offers and wants to woo more women shoppers. It is devoting more space to soft furnishings as it seeks to ditch its nuts-and-bolts image.

The company retains H&K for corporate comms and The Red Consultancy for consumer PR. It said the agencies' accounts were not being reviewed. 

*  Separately, rival DIY chain Wickes this week brought in BMA Communications to handle its PR.

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