B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher has revealed sales surged during lockdown as the company was allowed to remain open as an “essential” retailer.
Bosses said like-for-like sales jumped 21.8% in the three months to June 13, compared with the same time a year ago, although there was a 24.8% drop in the first three months of the year as stores were either forced to close or shut to prepare staff for social distancing.
Chief executive Thierry Garnier said it was too early to say what the full impact from the coronavirus crisis would be, but explained he would be focusing on improving services and online operations.
He added: “When the various lockdowns began, we rapidly transformed our operations to meet a sharp increase in e-commerce, while adapting our retail space and processes to ensure a safe reopening of stores.
“In doing so, the social distancing and other health and safety protocols we established have contributed to setting the standard in non-food retailing.”
A new Powered By Kingfisher strategic plan will also be rolled out to try to grow the business once the economy starts improving.
Priorities include growing its online business after a four-fold increase in sales during lockdown, improving services, pushing own-brand products – which have higher profit margins – and handing over more power to regional bosses.
On reopening, the company said its supply chains in China have been restored after factory closures earlier in the year.
But the company warned: “The key risks to availability are now driven by exceptional and volatile demand within the paint, outdoor and building materials ranges, where vendors are challenged in keeping up with recent high demand levels.”
Kingfisher, which also owns French DIY stores Castorama and Brico Depot, said nearly all its 1,368 outlets around the world are open, with trials of showroom offerings also being offered in more stores.
It comes as pre-tax profits hit £103 million for the year ending January 31, compared with £300 million a year earlier, mainly due to a £441 million hit in exceptional costs. Sales were down 1.5% during the period to £11.5 billion.