Daily Express

B&Q owner sees plunge in profits

- By Holly Williams

B&Q OWNER Kingfisher has reported a 21.8 per cent plunge in UK and Ireland sales at the DIY chain due to the coronaviru­s lockdown, but said sales have started to recover as stores reopen.

Sales across the wider group – including its Castorama and Brico Depot chains in France – were also badly hit by lockdowns in place across Europe, with total sales down by a quarter in the three months to April 30.

Its breakdown of sales revealed the impact of the lockdown on trading, with

UK and Ireland like-for-like sales down as much as 70.3 per cent in one week last month.

Sales have begun to improve since the phased reopening of stores in the UK and France in the second half of April, with UK and Ireland sales surging 18.9 per cent in the first week of May.

Group like-for-like sales lifted 2.7 per cent in the first week of May.

DIY shops were allowed to remain open throughout the UK lockdown as they have been deemed essential, but Kingfisher initially closed all its stores, allowing a click-and-collect and home delivery service only.

Kingfisher said it began a phased reopening since mid-April, with 288 of its 289 B&Q stores in the UK now open, while its 683-strong Screwfix arm is operating on a click-and-collect basis only.

Shares in Kingfisher rose 5 per cent after the first quarter update.

Chief executive Thierry Garnier said: “Having initially closed our stores in France and the UK, we have rapidly adapted how we operate to meet the essential needs of our customers safely during lockdown.

“We reconfigur­ed our retail space and processes, allowing a phased and safe reopening of stores while preserving the social distancing and other health and safety protocols that are likely to be with us for some time.”

Overall, UK and Ireland like-for-like sales fell 5.7 per cent in March and 43 per cent in April.

However, Screwfix has fared better throughout the lockdown, with sales down by just 4.7 per cent over the first quarter to April 30.

‘We reconfigur­ed our retail space and processes’

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