B&Q reports sales increase

B&Q owner Kingfisher today said consumers' renewed interest in home improvement had helped it defy the recession as it reported a rise in sales.

The firm said B&Q like-for-like sales were up 5.7% in the 13 weeks to October 31, driven by higher sales of "big ticket" items and improved DIY performance.

Sales of kitchens and appliances were up 27% in the period after the DIY chain launched new ranges, revamped and reaped the benefits from the collapse of competitors like MFI.

The firm, which has 330 B&Q stores in the UK and Ireland, said retail profits for the chain grew 45% in the quarter to £43m (€47.4m) while group profits rose 28% to £227m (€250.4m).

Kingfisher said its other business in the UK and Ireland, Screwfix, had continued to struggle in the challenging trade market.

Total Screwfix sales were down 3.8% in the period.

Across the group, total sales were up 5.6%, while like-for-like sales increased by 0.8%.

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire said the results were "strong", with businesses in Poland, France and B&Q in the UK singled out for praise.

He said 80% of group profits came from outside the UK, showing the benefits of its international presence.

"Our self-help initiatives continued to boost profitability and cash generation right across the group," he said.

In the UK the firm has made efforts to modernise its B&Q stores, with one store fully revamped in the quarter and 49 given a partial make-over focusing on the main kitchen, bedroom and bathroom showrooms.

"Looking ahead, we continue to rely on our own initiatives to drive performance and deliver more value for our shareholders and continue to assume no early help from improved consumer demand," Mr Cheshire said.

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