B&Q owner Kingfisher today revealed improved sales at the DIY chain but warned the weak consumer backdrop continues to hit the business.
B&Q in the UK and Ireland saw a four per cent drop in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to October 27, compared with a six per cent slide in the weather-hit first half of the year.
The improvement was driven by higher sales of home improvement products as more customers cook and entertain at home with sales of built-in fridge freezers up 13 per cent and built-in microwaves ahead 57 per cent.
The division reported a 1.7 per cent rise in retail profits to £45m, while the wider Kingfisher group, which also owns tools supplier Screwfix as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France, recorded broadly flat retail profits of £257m.
Shares in Kingfisher slipped two per cent following today’s update.
The share price has been volatile this year and at 275p is roughly the same value it was six months ago.
Freddie George, retail research analyst at Seymour Pierce, said the like-for-like sales were worse than expected and implied “a markedly weakening trend through the period”.
The group has been leading cost cutting initiatives and driving sales of showroom products such as kitchens and bathrooms in an effort to help boost trade.
Kingfisher group total sales were up 0.8 per cent at £2.7bn in the period, as like-for-like sales in France fell 2.8 per cent and other international stores, which includes China and Russia, dropped 0.8 per cent.
Screwfix grew total sales by 11 per cent to £149m in the period despite the continued challenging trading conditions in the smaller tradesman market.
The chain continues to benefit from the continued roll out of new outlets, the success of “click, pay & collect” and a redesigned catalogue.
Screwfix opened 12 outlets in the third quarter, taking the total to 252, while retail profit rose 20 per cent to £14m.