DIY sector struggles

Published:  20 July, 2012

LONDON: Kingfisher, which owns B&Q, had to slash prices to shift gardening kit after weather hit demand for outdoor and seasonal products. It also upped its promotions on DIY products, to "encourage customers to switch some of their activity to internal repairs and projects".

Like-for-like sales in the company's UK business were up 1.1%, but it expects profit margins to be hit as a result of all the promotions. Group-wide sales stayed flat, powered by a 49% surge in sales in Russia. The company's shares dropped 1.4%. Screwfix sales grew by 7.2pc in a "challenging smaller tradesman market".

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said: "The unprecedented wet weather across Northern Europe has continued throughout our second quarter so far, clearly impacting footfall and consumer demand for outdoor and seasonal products."

The company, Europe's biggest home improvement retailer, said like-for-like sales at its Castorama and Brico Depot chains were down 0.2pc and 4.8pc respectively, reflecting different trading patterns this year in the run up to July public holidays. Like-for-like sales in France, Poland and Spain fell 2.3pc, 4.4pc and 3.7pc respectively.

Sales in China, where Kingfisher is trading with one less store compared with last year amid a difficult housing market, fell 3.7pc like-for-like, but rose 19pc in Russia.

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