B&Q owner’s sales surge on back of lockdown DIY boom

The coronavirus lockdown has inspired a surge in home DIY projects, lifting sales by a quarter at B&Q and Screwfix last month.

Kingfisher, which owns the two UK DIY chains, said it expected half-year profits to be ahead of the same period a year ago as sales at its stores around the world surged by 14% in May, 25% in June and by more than a fifth in the first three weeks of July.

Sales of garden plants, compost, fence panels, jet washers and painting and decorating products were particularly strong.

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Shares in Kingfisher jumped 11% to 250p on the news of increasing profits, making them the biggest riser in the FTSE 100 index. The City had been expecting the group’s profits to fall because its stores were closed for a period in March and April despite being listed as an essential retailer under the UK’s lockdown rules. They later opened for pick-up only before fully reopening.

With more than 9 million Britons furloughed during lockdown, a wealth of spare time has been invested in garden and home renovations, from new fences to repainting. The rush to DIY shops, where sales jumped by 42% in May, was the main driver behind a rebound in the official retail sales figures. It has also led to shortages of some building essentials, including plaster, paving slabs and cement.

It is not only a British phenomena. Strong growth at Kingfisher’s UK outlets was matched by a similar pace of growth in France, Romania, Spain and Portugal, while online sales more than tripled in May and June.

However, Kingfisher said it could not give guidance on full-year profit expectations as Europe reels from effects of weeks of high street closures in an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” it said.

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