B&Q improves as Kingfisher staff get windfall payout

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The unseasonal autumn weather and the closure of rival Focus DIY helped ease the sales pressure at B&Q owner Kingfisher yesterday.

The retailer, which operates 536 B&Q and Screwfix stores in the UK and Ireland, said like-for-like sales were down 0.7 per cent in the 13 weeks to October 29, an improvement on the 1.3 per cent decline in the previous quarter.

B&Q’s profits were up 20 per cent at £46m as trading benefited from the closure of Focus DIY and the subsequent conversion of 27 of its stores to the B&Q format.

The autumn weather also boosted sales of garden furniture, helping it sell more barbecues in the last week of September than in the whole month of June.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 of Kingfisher’s employees were yesterday celebrating a £7.4m windfall after two of its share incentive schemes matured, leading to an average gain of £3,516 per person.

Kingfisher said beneficiaries included 22-year-old Danielle Macey, who works in B&Q’s Nursling store in Southampton as a part-time checkout assistant. She saved the maximum £250 a month in the three-year scheme and will receive a payout of £22,511, a gain of £12,911.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said: “Retailing is a people business and it is the hard work of our staff that has delivered this performance. I am delighted that they are sharing in the benefits.”

Like-for-like sales at B&Q were down 0.9 per cent despite a 68 per cent rise in garden furniture sales. But at the same time, B&Q saw a 78 per cent increase in demand for winter grit and snow shovels as households prepare for the possibility of another Arctic onslaught.

Non-seasonal sales were down 4 per cent, reflecting the “generally weak consumer backdrop”.

Its 179 Screwfix stores saw total sales up 7 per cent as the opening of four outlets and new ranges such as safety and workwear helped it offset a “challenging” market.