B&Q total sales dropped by 3.5 per cent and like-for-likes (LFL) slumped 4.3 per cent in the ten weeks to July 10th, largely due to a lack of interest in big ticket items from the British and Irish public.
Sales of seasonal categories were flat and trading in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and building categories was down, reflecting the reduction in promotions as well as the drop in consumer appetite for shopping.
Kingfisher Group, which owns B&Q and other home improvement retail establishments across Europe, saw total sales for the period nudge up 0.3 per cent - but trading was down 0.8 per cent on a LFL basis. This is an improvement on the 1.8 per cent decline recorded in the first quarter of the year.
More positive news for the company comes from France, where sales at both Castorama and Brico Dépôt inflated as a result of store development and the introduction of fresh product ranges respectively.
Reflecting on the figures, Kingfisher’s CEO Ian Cheshire said the results represented “a solid performance in an uncertain environment” and indicated the business is confident about progressing during the months ahead.
“Consumer spending remains under pressure, notably in the UK, and so we continued to focus on carefully targeting our promotions to drive profitable sales, improving our cash margins and vigorously controlling our costs,” he explained.
“As a result our expectations for first half cash and profit outturn remain on track.”
David Jeary, Analyst at banking group Investec, suggested that Kingfisher’s British and Irish operations are moving in the right direction despite the drop in sales figures.
“It dropped the two ‘15 per cent off when spending over £50’ promotions from Q2 last year, which Kingfisher estimates had an adverse impact on LFL sales of around three to 3.5 per cent,” he commented.
“However, cash gross profit is up year-on-year, so the shift in promotional focus appears to be bearing fruit.”