Beast from the East batters B&Q & Screwfix owner’s first quarter

B&Q cut prices

A combination of weak consumer confidence and extreme weather conditions has had an adverse impact on first quarter sales for the parent company of B&Q and Screwfix.

Figures from Kingfisher show that like-for-like sales in the three months to April 30 dropped nine per cent as footfall plunged and stores had to be shut during the Beast from the East.

Total sales at the group were down 1.2 per cent to £2.8 billion, while UK sales slipped 3.7 per cent to £1.2 billion.

Total quarterly sales at B&Q on its own fell by 8.8 per cent to £828 million.

While Screwfix booked a 3.6 per cent increase in comparable sales, it was not enough to stop Kingfisher from posting a four per cent slide in like-for-like sales in the quarter.

Chief executive Veronique Laury also blamed weak consumer demand as denting the firm’s performance.

“It was a challenging start to the year with exceptionally harsh weather across Europe and weak UK consumer demand,” she said.

“This impacted footfall, especially sales of weather-related categories. February and March were particularly affected with sales improving over the course of April and into May.

“Market conditions continue to be mixed. The UK is uncertain.”

B&Q is currently undergoing a major transformation scheme, which has so far led to the closure of 65 stores and 3000 job cuts in the UK and Ireland over the last two years.

Laury insisted her turnaround was beginning to bear fruit.

“We are on track to deliver our One Kingfisher strategic milestones for the third year in a row and we continue to see tangible delivery of our plan,” she said.

“Around 40 per cent of our ranges are now unified and continue to be well received by customers.

“Sales of these ranges, excluding outdoor products, are up, and we expect to grow the full year group gross margin, after clearance costs.”

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