Castorama Polska was established in 1994 with the arrival of Claude Acquart, its first CEO, whose mission was to build a chain of high-volume retail stores offering building, renovation, decoration and garden products. In 1997, after much market research and searching for the right locations, we opened our first store on ul. Popularna in Warsaw. Since then, we’ve seen almost 20 years of strong and rapid expansion in the Polish market.
In 2009, following a change of leadership, we began a programme of work that would see us pioneer technological advances in the Polish retail market: streamlining internal processes with the implementation of SAP software solutions; testing new store formats to refine the customer offer; and opening our first central warehouse.
In 2005 we launched our first website, which offered customers a view into our stores, but because it didn’t present product prices, it lagged behind the market. We launched a transactional website in mid-2015, which receives 4.5 million visits per month, equivalent to the number of transactions that take place in all our stores each month. Customers can order online and collect from their nearest store. A home delivery option will be added later this year. A major point of difference for us in the Polish market is that when customers shop with us online, they can choose which store they want to shop from and see the levels of stock availability at that store, including the right prices.
Castorama Polska is now the leading home improvement retailer in Poland with 73 stores. We have a total sales area of 554,000 m² and provide employment to nearly 11,000 people.
Leadership by example – being a responsible retailer
We want to help our customers have good homes by making home improvement accessible to everyone. This ethos is supported by our long-held belief in having a positive impact on the environment and the local communities in which we operate.
We are part of the Kingfisher family, an international home improvement company with sister companies in France (Castorama and Brico Dépôt), the UK (B&Q and Screwfix), Russia (Castorama) and Spain (Brico Dépôt), and five other European countries. This gives us access to knowledge, expertise and people beyond our own borders. By taking our cues from the wider company strategy, we’ve been able to transform our business and implement innovative products and services that give our customers the opportunity to improve their homes and make them more sustainable. Likewise we are able to share our knowledge and expertise across the group.
We actively engage our employees in our sustainable development values and encourage them to communicate them to our customers and partners. Through our business activities and social engagement Castorama Polska contributes to the improvement of quality of life and strives to positively impact future generations.
For example, in 2012 we launched a programme of in-store skill lessons for school children, called Majsterkowo (a child-friendly play on words of ‘do it yourself’). The programme brings DIY to life for young people, and helps them develop practical skills. Projects include decorating flower pots, making bird boxes and how to use scraps and leftover materials to create new products from old. The lessons also include interactive sessions about the environment and its protection, the origins of raw materials and how they are made into products. So far over 100,000 young people have taken part in the free Majsterkowo project, which is currently available in all 70 of our stores and run by our staff.
The circular economy has become an international focus in recent years but we were ahead of the curve and have been leading by example for many years. In 2003, following a thorough audit of waste streams, we implemented a recycling programme in our stores. This led to us developing a range of ‘closed loop’ refuse bags, which are made from the waste plastic from our stores.
We’ve also been providing tool repair and rental services for over 17 years. Many people own tools but use them infrequently and for only a short amount of time. When they break or cease to be useful, it is often difficult to find a place to repair or recondition them. Today all of our stores have repair centres, and half offer rental services. The repair operations are equipped to test lawn mowers and other products with combustion engines, and tools such as drills and jigsaws. By offering this service we prolong the life of the tools, foster positive relationships with our customers and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites.
Proof that we’re on the right track
We’re proud of what we’ve achieved in our nearly 20 years in Poland, and that our approach to employee engagement, customer service and sustainability have been recognised along the way. We were awarded “Solid Employer of the Year” (Solidny Pracodawca Roku) by Rzecz o Biznesie three years in a row from 2013 to 2015, and received the “Emblem of Quality Customer Service” (Godło Jakości Obsługi) from 2008 to 2011.
This year we have won an award for our first CSR report, and in May 2016 we received the ‘Investor in Human Capital’ emblem (Godło Inwestor w Kapitał Ludzki) from the Foundation of Management Observatory (Obserwatorium) in Poland. The programme is one of the best known in Poland and was awarded in recognition of our human resources policies and our approach to employee engagement, based on the results of an independent employee survey. We’re very proud to have received this honour in recognition of the great value of our line managers and leaders, and their everyday commitment to leadership.
Looking forward to the future
In January 2016 our parent company Kingfisher announced a transformation plan that will touch all parts of the business. The ONE Kingfisher plan will leverage the scale of the business to become a single, unified company where customer needs always come first. The overall aim for all of us – both here in Poland and at our operations across Europe – is to help our customers to create good homes by making home improvement accessible to everyone. To do this we will be developing a unified customer offer, with the same products presented the same way in all of our markets. The benefits to our customers will be lower prices; newer, higher quality products; simpler ranges to shop; better packaging; and better sustainability. We are excited about the journey ahead of us, and helping our customers to get even more satisfaction from their home improvement projects.