Belfast Telegraph

B&Q owner Kingfisher's results hit by plans to axe stores

By Holly Williams

B&Q owner Kingfisher, which is closing half of its Northern Ireland store network, revealed that bottom-line profits fell by more than a fifth as it counted the cost of an overhaul but said its "ambitious" plans were on track.

The group, which is axing B&Q stores and jobs in the UK and Ireland, posted a 20.5% decline in annual statutory pre-tax profits to £512m as it closed shops and suffered an exchange rate hit.

Late last year, it was revealed that around 300 jobs could be lost after DIY giant B&Q said it was shutting five stores here - more than half its total number in Northern Ireland.

B&Q has already said that its Belfast store on the Boucher Road and its Buncrana Road business in Londonderry would shut by the end of this financial year. But now its Sprucefield store - an anchor tenant of the retail park - Ballymena and Craigavon outlets will also shut in early 2017.

But with the impact of its restructuring and currency woes stripped out, group-wide underlying profits rose 0.3% higher to a better-than-expected £686m, helped by a robust performance in the UK.

UK retail profits jumped 18% to £326m for the year to the end of January, helped by another impressive sales hike in its trade-focused hardware arm, Screwfix.

Kingfisher is halfway through an overhaul to shut 65 B&Q stores and cut 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland under plans that will instead see it expand its burgeoning Screwfix business.

The company said that the first 30 B&Q stores have already closed.

Belfast Telegraph