Screwfix grows 17% but B&Q spoils Kingfisher’s party

It was a tale to two brands for Kingfisher, with Screwfix soaring and B&Q in the doldrums, according to the group’s Q2 2017 sales numbers.

True to form, Screwfix sales rose a whopping 17.2% (l-f-l 10.8%) to £365m in the UK & Ireland, but B&Q saw sales down 7.8% (l-f-l 4.7%) to £967m due to store closures as well as suffering in comparison with a strong Q2 last year, Kingfisher said.

Overall, Kingfisher was down 1.9%, like-for-like, to £3.1bn.

Following the Bunnings financials earlier this week – where the UK & Ireland arm of the business saw a £54 million loss – it would be tempting to draw the conclusion that the DIY market is down – and indeed many headlines have done that. But the Screwfix brand bucked that trend thanks to new outlets, extended specialist ranges and its digital business. Notably, B&Q’s problems have been long-running – it also fared badly in Kingfisher’s Q1 2017 financials.

And in the case of Bunnings, owner Wesfarmers is undergoing considerable upheaval with the pilot programme and accompanying refitting and training, which may go some way to mitigate the poor numbers there.

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Kingfisher’s French business represents a significant chunk of business for the group at £1.2bn (compared with the UK & Ireland businesses at £1.3bn). France saw a similar fall for Kingfisher, down 3.3% l-f-l. Castorama was down 2.3% (-2.8% l-f-l) to £668m while Brico Depot was down 4.5% (-5.1% l-f-l) to £520m.

At least things were more positive in East Europe – Kingfisher’s Polish business saw sales grow 5.7% to £381m.

“Q2 has broadly followed a similar course to Q1 although B&Q’s performance was impacted by seasonal swings across Q1 and Q2,” said Véronique Laury, Kingfisher CEO. “We have also continued to experience some disruption across the businesses, although on an improving trend. Availability of this year’s unified and unique product is now approaching normal levels. We continue to adapt new processes as our transformation progresses, which will support the significant amount of change planned for H2.

“Having been very aware that this year would be challenging given the step up in transformation activity, we already have self-help plans in place to support our overall Year 2 performance, though we remain cautious on the H2 outlook for the UK and France as previously guided. We remain on track to deliver our Year 2 strategic milestones, and look forward to updating you on our wider progress in more detail at our H1 results.”

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