B&Q feels the DIY squeeze but trade business booms

Published:  22 February, 2013

B&Q’s sales slumped a worse-than-expected 6.4% to £842m in the fourth quarter as strained households put off home improvement projects. But B&Q owner, Kingfisher’s trade-faced business, Screwfix posted double-digit growth.

Fourth quarter revenues at Screwfix, which has been held up as the model for improving digital sales at B&Q, rose 10.3% to £155m.

B&Q's poor performance dragged owner Kingfisher's full-year like-for-like sales in the group's second biggest market down to £997m, a 5.8% drop year-on-year. Stronger performances in the group's businesses in Russia and China, and improvement in its key French market, are expected to deliver 2012 pre-tax profit in line with analysts' expectations of £715m.

"We have had a tough fourth quarter, ending what has been a tough year impacted by unfavourable foreign exchange, particularly poor weather in the UK and weaker consumer confidence in our major markets," said Ian Cheshire, group chief executive.

Mr Cheshire has previously warned of an "opaque" outlook for the group's UK business and "was not holding his breath" for strong winter sales in Britain.

Margins in Britain and France would be down, partly reflecting price cuts to drive trade sales.

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