Business

B&Q blames bad weather for summer sales slump

Sales at the DIY chain B&Q fell 4.7 per cent in the three months to July 31
By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Sales at B&Q tumbled in the second quarter, with the firm blaming wetter than usual summer weather for the slump.

Figures posted by the retailer's parent firm Kingfisher show like-for-like sales at the DIY chain fell 4.7 per cent in the three months to July 31.

Total sales at B&Q fell 7.7 per cent to £967 million and come alongside a slowing housing market in the UK following the Brexit vote.

Kingfisher also pinned the fall on tough comparatives from last year and a strong first quarter in 2017, when better weather meant shoppers bought seasonal products early.

Chief executive Veronique Laury, who has been overseeing a turnaround at the firm, said:

"The second quarter has broadly followed a similar course to first quarter although B&Q's performance was impacted by seasonal swings.

"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."

She added that Kingfisher remains "cautious" on the economic outlook, with the firm having previously flagged Brexit as creating uncertainty in the market.

Total like-for-like sales fell 1 per cent in the UK, while the group as a whole recorded a 1.9 per cent fall.

Kingfisher also saw sales slip in France, where it trades as Castorama and Brico Depot and where the housing market has also stuttered.

However, one bright spot is again expected to be Screwfix, which saw like-for-like sales rise 10.8 per cent.

The trade-focused chain has been the stand-out performer for Kingfisher of late, regularly clocking up double-digit sales increases.

ends

In March, Kingfisher signalled it had finished its B&Q store closure programme, which has seen it shut 65 shops and slash around 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland over the last two years.

As part of Ms Laury's revival, she is aiming to boost profits by £500 million a year by 2021.

Shares in Kingfisher slid nearly 4 per cent to 295.7p in morning trading.

James Grzinic, equity analyst at Jefferies, said: "As feared, the impact of the UK housing slowdown is now more clearly apparent.

"The outlook is not encouraging."

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