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DIY retailer Kingfisher boosted by demand for energy efficient products

FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) -European home improvement retailer Kingfisher reported resilient trading in its third quarter, boosted by strong demand for energy efficient products as consumers seek savings in their energy bills to help navigate a cost-of-living crisis.

The group, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in Britain and Castorama and Brico Depot in France and other markets, said on Thursday its total sales rose 1.7% in constant currency to 3.3 billion pounds ($4 billion) in the three months to Oct. 31, with like-for-like sales up 0.2%.

Kingfisher said it had also got off to a good start in its fourth quarter with like-for-like sales up 2.8% for the three weeks to Nov. 19. It was continuing to win market share, it said.

"While the market backdrop remains challenging, DIY sales continue to be supported by new industry trends such as more working from home and a clear step-up in customer investment in energy saving and efficiency," said Chief Executive Thierry Garnier.

Kingfisher said across the group insulation product sales in the third quarter were up 24% year-on-year.

At B&Q, loft insulation roll sales were up 108% year-on-year, while at Screwfix, sales of thermostatic radiator valves were up 33.7% and sales of central heating controls up 20.7%.

Kingfisher has also launched energy-saving tools in the UK and France to help customers diagnose and access products and services to increase the efficiency of their homes.

It said it had seen a very positive take-up of these services so far, with B&Q taking nearly 1,000 appointment bookings within the first three days of launch.

Kingfisher, whose shares have fallen 27% this year, kept its financial guidance broadly intact, forecasting a year to end-Jan. 2023 adjusted pretax profit in the range of 730 to 760 million pounds, down from a pandemic boosted 949 million pounds in 2021-22. It previously forecast 730-770 million pounds.

The guidance takes account of investment to open Screwfix stores in France as well as higher labour and energy costs.

"We remain confident in both the resilience of our industry and in continuing to grow ahead of our markets," said Garnier.

($1 = 0.8273 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton)