Belfast Telegraph

B&Q to close 60 stores across UK and Republic of Ireland as Kingfisher profits take a hammering

Kingfisher has announced that it plans to shut 60 B&Q outlets across the UK and Ireland.

The parent company's decision comes amid a 7.5% drop in adjusted pre-tax profit of £675m.

Releasing its figures for the full-year ending 31 January, Kingfisher said total sales were also down by 1.4%, to £10.96bn.

The firm said the closures would affect poor-performing stores in the UK and Ireland.

The company also owns the builders' supplies chain Screwfix.

Kingfisher, which also trades in France through Castorama and Brico Depot, has already agreed to sell a controlling stake in its loss-making China business as it looks to focus on its core European market.

Chief executive Veronique Laury, who took over from Sir Ian Cheshire in December , said the closure plan was one of a number of "sharp" decisions being taken by the FTSE 100 company.

She added: " Home improvement is a great market with huge potential and Kingfisher has a strong position within it with further scope to grow in a sustainable way. However, it is clear to me that we need to organise ourselves very differently to unlock our potential."

Other plans include cutting back on some of the 393,000 products sold across the company, particularly as only 7,000 - amounting to 7% of sales - are currently sold in at least two of Kingfisher's operating companies.

The company will also look to optimise vacant store space and is in discussions with several retailers about sub-letting opportunities.

Kingfisher said the impact on jobs from the B&Q store closure plan will be broadly neutral as it is opening about 60 outlets under the Screwfix brand, while it will also look to redeploy positions to other parts of the business.

Ms Laury denied that the UK DIY market was in decline and said the store closure plan reflected a desire to reinvigorate the company's UK offer. She added that it had long been clear that B&Q had too many stores in its estate.

B&Q UK & Ireland's total sales were up 1.9% to £3.7 billion in the financial year, with sales of outdoor seasonal and building products up 4%. Profits were 16% higher at £276 million.

In contrast, profits in France were 12% lower at £349 million due to the impact of weak consumer confidence and a declining housing and construction market. Kingfisher said it will close a small number of stores in the country.

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