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B&Q and Screwfix sales soar as Brits embrace DIY during COVID-19

·Finance and policy reporter
·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/08/04: A DIY store B&Q logo at a branch in London. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
B&Q sales have jumped. Photo: Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher (KGF.L) has seen its sales leap 17.2% in the three months to November.

CEO Thierry Garnier attributed the boom to strong DIY demand during the coronavirus crisis, “as consumers spent more time in their homes and focused on improving them.”

B&Q sales in the UK and Ireland were up by almost a quarter, with particularly strong demand for “weather-related” outdoor goods, with a heatwave in August. The figures were released in a trading update on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, strong sales to tradespeople boosted sales at Screwfix. It came as the construction industry benefited from strong pent-up demand after the first UK lockdown eased over the summer.

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Screwfix opened 17 new UK stores in its third quarter to 31 October, and another four in the Republic of Ireland.

Sales also jumped in Kingfisher’s other markets and other brands, including in France, Poland, Spain and Romania.

“Overall, we believe that the renewed focus on homes is supportive for our markets,” added Garnier.

B&Q sales spiked the day before its trading update but lost ground after its publication on Thursday 18 November despite strong sales. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
Kingfisher shares spiked the day before its trading update but lost ground after its publication on Thursday 18 November despite strong sales. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

B&Q is classed as an essential retailer in Britain, exempt from the first nationwide lockdown and current England lockdown.

Kingfisher said its 1,370 stores worldwide were all currently open for both in-store purchasing and click and collect services. The company repaid £23m ($30.4m) in furlough wage subsidies to the UK government earlier this year.

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B&Q sales growth year-on-year has been higher in November in the UK and Ireland than the previous few weeks, with England’s lockdown appearing to boost rather than dent demand.

But Kingfisher’s total like-for-like sales growth year-on-year has dipped from 16% and 25% in the last two weeks of October to 13.1% and 12% in the first two weeks of November.

The company’s shares (KGF.L) shed more than 3% as markets opened on Thursday, but soon pared back some of the losses. It was trading 1.8% lower at around 8.30am in London. The stock had seen strong gains on Wednesday in anticipation of the trading update.

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