Belfast Telegraph

B&Q blames first quarter slump on wintry weather

B&Q owner Kingfisher said first-quarter sales at the UK's biggest DIY chain had been punished by cold weather, as shoppers put off spring purchases.

The retailer reported a 2.8% fall in like-for-like UK sales at the chain in the 13 weeks to May 1, as trading was hit by snow as well as a chillier March and April.

The conditions contrasted with much better weather a year earlier, although B&Q took some consolation from a 28% jump in roof insulation sales, and a 13% rise in retail profits due to cost-saving measures.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said the firm had seen a “tough first quarter”.

“The headwinds we anticipated at the start of the year look set to continue, but we are in good shape and well prepared,” he said.

While sales of decorating products were “relatively resilient” — down 1% — sales of more seasonal goods were down 5% year-on-year as B&Q was also forced to cut prices in a more competitive market, facing tough trading comparisons.

But retail profits were helped by stronger sales of higher margin products, supply chain efficiencies, and a squeeze on costs in line with lower sales volumes.

Total sales in the UK and Ireland were down 2% to £1.17bn, with the trade and Irish markets remaining “particularly challenging”.

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 £30m 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.

Kingfisher enjoyed better fortunes in France, where it trades as Castorama and Brico Depot, with like-for-like growth of 0.2% during the first quarter.

The group was helped by store revamps and a marketing campaign.

Belfast Telegraph