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B&Q and Screwfix post strong first-quarter sales as demand continues online and in-store though lockdown 3.0

Image courtesy of B&Q

B&Q and Screwfix today reported strong sales growth in the first quarter of parent company Kingfisher’s financial year, as shoppers bought across online and offline channels during the latest lockdown.

In the first quarter of the financial year, to April 30 2021, the group reported online sales up by 63% compared to the same time last year – and by 258% on the same time two years ago. Ecommerce now accounts for 21% of total Kingfisher sales, up from 18% in its latest full year.

The rise came as Kingfisher reported total sales of £3.4bn in the first quarter, 61.9% up on the same time last year. On a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures they were 64.2% ahead of last year. In the UK, sales of £1.8bn (+66.8%) reflected strong growth at B&Q (+82.7% to £1.2bn) and at Screwfix (+42.5% to £615m). 

In the first lockdown, a year earlier, B&Q stores initially shut before reopening in a way that respected social distancing guidelines. But in the latest lockdown only certain parts of its shops, such as kitchen showrooms, had to close and demand rebounded accordingly. The retailer has also started to open new small-format stores including two within branches of Asda. 

Screwfix sales grew thanks to strong demand from trade customers. It launched an upgraded mobile app, reflecting the fact that mobile remains the primary online channel at Screwfix. It opened five new stores in the UK during the quarter. 

Sales also grew in Kingfisher’s French (+97.4% to £1.2bn), Iberian (+110.8% to £90m), and Romanian (+67.2% to £72m) businesses. In late April, Screwfix launched online-only in French. In Poland (-8.9%) sales fell as all stores were closed between March 27 and May 3, partly offset as customers opted to collect their online orders at contactless drive thru’ and car park collection points.

Kingfisher chief executive Thierry Garnier, says demand from existing and new customers continues to be high. 

He says: “We continue to develop, test and roll out multiple innovative propositions for our customers, with more compact store tests, a new mobile app for Screwfix, self-checkout terminals and our new tool for 3D kitchen and bathroom design. We have also started to roll out our NeedHelp services marketplace in B&Q and Poland.

“With the strong start to the year, we now anticipate first half sales and adjusted pre-tax profit to be ahead of our previous expectations. Whilst the second half of the financial year remains naturally uncertain, we continue to see supportive long-term trends for our industry and are confident of continued outperformance of our wider markets.”

First-half pre-tax profit is expected to be in the range of £580m to £600m.

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