Retail group Kingfisher yesterday confirmed plans to open 20 new stores aimed at trade customers next year.
The group, which owns DIY retailer B&Q and its French counterpart Brico Depot, will launch about 15 new Screwfix Direct trade counters next year.
It also plans to open five Trade Depot stores, based loosely on the company's successful Brico Depot concept in France.
A spokeswoman for Kingfisher was not in a position to say whether any of the new stores would be opening in Birmingham.
The DIY group is desperate for new ideas following a dismal group performance in the six months to July 30 which saw a 2.2 per cent slide in sales and 33.7 per cent fall in profits at its UK division. Executive chairman of Kingfisher's new trade division, George Adams, said the company was keen to target the £50 billion trade market that is growing more rapidly than the DIY market.
The new stores will target small general builders and contractors, as well as general handymen, with a range of fewer than 10,000 goods from kitchen units to fencing and Mr Adams adds that the main focus of the stores will be cheap prices and well-informed staff.
However, analysts are not so optimistic, saying Kingfisher risks taking sales away from its B&Q chain, which has already suffered from a downturn in spending in the DIY market.
Last month, Kingfisher reported a 12.8 per cent slump in first half profit, reflecting weak consumer demand and tough competition.