B&Q sales drop as households cut back

B&Q owner Kingfisher said quarterly sales at the UK’s biggest DIY chain remained under pressure after shoppers put off “big-ticket” purchases.

The retailer’s decision to run fewer promotions contributed to the downturn as B&Q’s like-for-like sales fell 4.3% in the 10 weeks to July 10, compared with a drop of 2.8% in the first quarter of its financial year.

A stronger performance in France, where the company operates Castorama and Brico Depot, reduced the drop in group same-store sales to 0.8% in the quarter.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said: “This is a solid performance in an uncertain environment for our customers right across Europe.”

He said pressure on consumer spending was most noticeable in the UK, where it has run targeted promotions in order to drive profitable growth and has “vigorously” controlled its costs.

Sales of seasonal categories were flat and demand for kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and larger building categories fell as a result of fewer promotions and weak consumer appetite for bigger ticket purchases.

At the other end of the scale, B&Q sold 5,000 World Cup garden gnomes and nearly 2,0000 football bean bags.

Kingfisher, which also owns Screwfix, added that the roll-out of its TradePoint in-store merchanting initiative into bigger B&Q outlets also disrupted trading.

The group, which has spent £30 million on the TradePoint offer, hopes the move will boost its current low share in the professional trade market and is aiming for national coverage by the end of the summer.

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