B&Q/Castorama (Kingfisher Group) Offshore Challenges Sailing Team, 1998–2006
Kingfisher plc began their sponsorship of Ellen MacArthur in 1998. They took the initiative of a 'test' sponsorship supporting Ellen in her participation of the solo Route du Rhum race in November of that year. The sponsorship was a success as Ellen claimed victory in her class and her coverage in France was extensive and for Kingfisher this was key.
Kingfisher were in the process of acquiring French DIY retailer Castorama and were looking to improve and soften their commercial profile in this country. Ellen was a sailor that the French had taken to their hearts for her courage and youth – Kingfisher realised Ellen could take their name to the French nation. And that is what she did in finishing second in the famous solo non-stop round the world race called the Vendée Globe over the winter of 2000/2001. – Ellen and Kingfisher became house hold brands.