Kingfisher forecasts profit rise after lockdown DIY boom

DIY retailer Kingfisher has forecast a rise in half-year profits, in the latest signal that European homeowners have turned to home improvements to mitigate the boredom of lockdown.

The group, which unlike many other retailers was able to start reopening its stores in Britain and France from mid-April, said same-store sales for the quarter to July 18 were 21.6 per cent higher than the same period last year.

This reflected “strong demand” across all of its markets, Kingfisher said. Online sales since June had also been consistently around 200 per cent higher than last year, on a weekly basis, the group added.

The update reflects a similar trading statement from British discount retailer B&M European Value Retail, which in late May reported exceptionally strong demand for DIY and gardening products. On its UK website, Akzo Nobel-owned paint brand Dulux reported that “exceptional demand” for its products was delaying orders.

The lockdown DIY craze has inspired Kingfisher’s chief executive Thierry Garnier, who was appointed in September, to focus the business on ecommerce and click-and-collect in an attempt to maintain the sales momentum brought on by Covid-19 lockdowns.

Kingfisher’s online sales were also triple last year’s level in April and May, which prompted Mr Garnier to announce in June that the group would hire 4,000 more staff.

The DIY group is one of few large UK retailers to be growing its workforce instead of cutting jobs. FTSE 250-listed general retailer Marks and Spencer said earlier this week that it would let go 950 office support staff and store and property managers, following similar moves by department store group John Lewis and pharmacy chain Boots.

But while Wednesday’s trading update sounded a strong note of optimism for Kingfisher’s first-half results, the group declined to provide guidance about the level of sales or earnings it would achieve for the full fiscal year.

“While we are entering the second half with a favourable trading backdrop, second half visibility remains low given uncertainty around Covid-19 and the wider economic outlook,” Kingfisher said.


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