Kingfisher set to open another 200 Screwfix stores

The owner of DIY chain B&Q revealed a fall in half-year profits, but insisted its turnaround was on track and unveiled plans to ramp up expansion of its Screwfix building supplies arm.

A B&Q store Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

Kingfisher posted a 2.3% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £384 million for the six months to August 1 as it took a currency hit and saw comparable store sales for its B&Q arm flag, edging 0.7% higher after a disappointing performance for outdoor seasonal goods in the peak summer season.

But its trade-focused Screwfix business continued to power ahead, with like-for-like sales leaping 16.5% higher thanks to a buoyant housebuilding sector.

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Recently-appointed chief executive Veronique Laury, who took over from Sir Ian Cheshire in December, now aims to add nearly 200 outlets to the Screwfix chain, boosting it from 412 to around 600 as part of a group-wide overhaul.

But she has already announced some “sharp” decisions affecting the B&Q business, including closing as many as 60 B&Q stores over the next two years, affecting around 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland.

There has also been speculation that the group might phase out the B&Q brand name.

Other plans include cutting back on some of the 393,000 products sold across the company, particularly as only 7,000 items - amounting to 7% of sales - are sold in at least two of Kingfisher’s operating companies.

Ms Laury said the group had been working “at pace” on the revamp.

She said: “I am pleased that we have delivered a solid first half of the year and have made good early progress with our ‘One’ Kingfisher plan.”

“There remains a lot to be done however,” she added.