Barbecues and patio furniture flew out the doors at B&Q during the recent spell of hot weather, helping offset a weaker performance in France for owner Kingfisher.
Group same-store sales rose 1.6 per cent at constant exchange rates in the second quarter to the end of July. Within that, sales at B&Q, the UK market leader in DIY and homewares, rose 3.6 per cent. Screwfix, the click-and-collect operation for hardcore DIYers, was again the standout performer with sales growing over 5 per cent. The figures are a marked improvement on the first half, when trading was affected by unusually cold weather.
However, the performance of Castorama France has been more difficult with sales down 3.8 per cent. “We have put additional actions in place to support our full year performance in France with the benefits expected to come through in the second half,” said Veronique Laury, the group’s (French) chief executive. She blamed lower footfall and “transformation activity” for the shortfall.
She added that while first-half group gross margins would be down, remedial action should result in higher margins across the full year.
Kingfisher is midway through a programme aimed at cutting costs and simplifying ranges across its main countries of operation. Ms Laury said the group was on track to deliver its “strategic milestones” for the third consecutive year, and that it had almost completed a £600m share buyback programme. The shares are down 6 per cent over the past year.
The update comes in a week when the UK’s second-largest DIY chain, Homebase, said it would close 42 stores and shed 1,500 jobs via a company voluntary arrangement, citing difficult trading conditions.