Our Retailer of the Year is, at least in a T3 context, an unusual one. But this has not been a usual year, if you hadn't noticed. The typical rules do not apply. The way B&Q has handled itself in and out of the retail space, both before and after the crisis, has been nothing short of phenomenal, and we can think of no better recipient of the T3 Awards 2020 Retailer of the Year award.
Whether you're looking for garden accessories, kitchen gadgets, power tools or general DIY paraphernalia, the breadth of B&Q's range makes it a natural first (and often last) stop. The fact is that its range reaches so much further than that: one gigantic bricks-and-mortar store covers everything from security cameras to smart lighting, from smart locks to smoke alarms, with a selection that feels cherry-picked for quality.
When the world closed its doors and we were all forced to stay at home, B&Q's virtual doors stayed open to ensure we could make those homes the best they could be. This is a company that helped keep us sane when others couldn't.
B&Q's approach to the transition was flawless: its website was rock solid, its click and collect facilities were sensibly pared down and worked incredibly well. By all accounts the gradual reopening of its stores has been handled sensitively and cleverly, with social distancing and other safeguarding measures far sharper than those typically displayed by supermarkets. B&Q adapted quickly and cleverly to a huge shift in the retail landscape, and it deserves a massive amount of credit for doing so.
And B&Q didn't stop at letting us slap some paint on our walls or keep the garden watered. The company has used the crisis as a chance to extend its community outreach efforts. Parent company Kingfisher, at the beginning of the outbreak, ringfenced the entire stock of PPE from B&Q and sister company Screwfix, donating it to the NHS, and leveraged its supply chain to secure three million face masks destined for further donation to healthcare professionals in all of its key markets.
Its benevolent acts reached further still: since the crisis, plants and flowers have been donated to brighten up the gardens of hospices and care homes, and paint has been sent to help rejuvenate community spaces; even before COVID-19 struck, B&Q worked with charities and organisations like Shelter and the Red Cross, and has a long-established re-use program for products that aren't in a sellable state.
After all that, perhaps B&Q's win isn't all so surprising after all. B&Q genuinely feels like a company that has its customers and the community at its core. The way it has handled the current situation is nothing short of brilliant, and we don't know where the UK would be without it.
• See all the T3 Awards 2020 winners!