Wermelskirchen, April 27th, 2005 - The supervisory board of OBI AG decided to increasingly focus the company's expansion course on European countries. Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy and Switzerland in particular will play a central role as potential growth markets in the expansion policy of Europe’s leading DIY brand. Consequently, OBI will not be operating any DIY stores in China in the future. "Our international strategic orientation with a view toward a targeted and efficient use of our resources makes this step necessary," said Sergio Giroldi, CEO of OBI AG. OBI Asia Holding, which holds the activities of OBI in China, will be sold to Kingfisher plc which operates in China under the B&Q brand. The transaction will become effective in the second half of 2005, provided the local ministries give their consent.
OBI opened its first Chinese store in 2000 in Wuxi and continued its successful expansion policy over the past five years. As part of the transaction, Kingfisher will take over all OBI stores in China as well as the headquarters in Shanghai and all of the approximately 2,000 staff members. OBI’s Far Eastern sourcing activities will not be covered with the transaction. Currently, B&Q operates a network of 22 stores in China.
OBI is the leading brand in the German and European DIY retail sector. Apart from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russia, OBI is also present in Italy, Austria and Switzerland. OBI is the fourth largest DIY retailer in the world and employs about 29,300 people worldwide. As of December 31, 2004, the OBI stores recorded overall sales worth EUR 6.2 billion. The share of foreign sales was 29%. According to a survey by the Ipsos institute, OBI is among the best-known brands in Germany with a supported brand awareness of 94%.