B&Q’s new online marketplace is performing ahead of expectations, with sales from partner brands representing 8% of its online sales in August, parent company Kingfisher Group says today.
The move to enable partner brands to sell via the marketplace resulted in 100,000 product lines SKUs (stock-keeping units) being added by about 200 partners in a month. The group now plans to launch further marketplaces in France, Poland and in its Iberia market. At the same time it is to open its first Screwfix shops in France.
The update comes as Kingfisher Group today reports sales of £6.8bn in the six months to July 31. That’s 4.1% down from £7.1bn a year earlier. UK & Ireland like-for-like sales – which strip out the effect of store and business openings and closures – fell by 11.6%, including a 13% fall in B&Q sales and 8.8% at Screwfix. However, compared to the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, UK and Ireland LFL sales were 16% ahead (B&Q +16.7%; Screwfix +14.4%).
Pre-tax profits for the half-year fell 30% to £474m from £677m a year earlier. The fastest fall in retail profit was in the UK and Ireland (-41.3% to £339m) and Iberia (-41.9% to £5m), while the fastest growth was seen in Poland (+58.6% to £94m).
Ecommerce group sales were 19% lower than a year earlier – but 156% ahead of the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. Some 16% of sales took place online – down from 19% last year, but ahead of 7% in 2019. Digitally-enabled sales accounted for 24% of sales. That’s down from 26% a year earlier and up from 20% three years earlier. “Approximately a quarter of group sales are from ecommerce channels and online orders placed in-store, delivered through click and collect or to customer homes,” says Kingfisher in today’s half-year statement. “We expect digitally-enabled sales to continue to grow over time, in line with the continued evolution of both customer behaviours and our in-store technologies and solutions.” Click and collect remains the most popular online fulfilment channel – although sales via the channel were 22% down on last year but 195% ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Home delivery sales fell by 11% year-on-year – an rose by 97% on three years earlier.
During the half-year, the retail group says it invested in faster fulfilment and in expanding product choice. To that end, it expanded its store-picking model to enable faster click and collect and last-mile delivery, managed orders through digital hubs – now present in 54 B&Q stores – to make home deliveries from store, rolled out click and collect lockers in Poland – now being tested at B&Q in the UK – and expanded one-hour delivery in the UK through Screwfix Sprint to more than 300 shops, covering 45% of UK postcodes. The average delivery time is now 45 minutes, and its fastest delivery has been eight minutes.
It also added mobile Scan & Go into the B&Q app, expanded its self-checkout terminals and offered a wider range of 3D design capabilities.
Kingfisher Group chief executive Thierry Garnier says Kingfisher’s first half sales were ‘resilient’ and that there had been an encouraging start to the second half. He adds: “Looking to the months ahead, although trading in the year to date has been in line with our expectations, we remain vigilant against the more uncertain economic outlook for the second half. We are therefore focussed on delivering value to our customers at a time when they need it most. You can expect continued strong execution, with a focus on growing sales and market share, effective management of our gross margin, and alignment of our costs and inventories to market conditions.
“With the business and our balance sheet in a strong position, we continue to invest in opportunities to drive growth. B&Q successfully launched its first home improvement marketplace during the period, and we are now preparing for marketplace launches in France, Poland and Iberia. We are also continuing to invest in the trade segment through Screwfix’s expansion in the UK and Ireland, as well as the further development of our offer for tradespeople across our banners, building on the success of TradePoint.
“We are on course to open our first Screwfix stores in France within a few weeks from now. And we are developing innovative new products and services to support more sustainable and energy efficient homes, which will benefit our customers and the environment.
“These investments, together with the proven resilience of the home improvement sector, our balanced exposure to DIY and DIFM/trade, and our strong and consistent execution, support our confidence in continuing to grow ahead of our markets.”
B&Q and Screwfix are both ranked Top50 in RXUK Top500 research.