B&Q and Screwfix owner the Kingfisher Group today said its transformation plan, which aims to unify the service and product ranges that its customers see across its businesses, had got off to a good start. The unified customer offer will be underpinned by a single digital platform and more efficient back-end operations as the company moves away from an organisation with nine buying and logistics teams, in nine operating companies, and towards a single organisation.
The company aims to improve profits by £500m a year by the end of the five year programme, at an overall cost of £800m.
Already, B&Q stores are operating from a new unified IT platform sooner than expected, and work is underway on moving its back office and supply chain to the platform. A 'brilliant basics' B&Q ecommerce platform is now being built on the new IT platform, deploying capabilities from Screwfix, an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500
research, across the organisation. Improved digital marketing, site search and a new checkout are being developed for the B&Q website, diy.com and for castorama.fr. A new company-wide mobile platform is also being built. B&Q is a Leading retailer in IRUK Top500 research.
The update came as Kingfisher reported group sales of £5.7bn in the half-year to July 31, 4.7% up from £5.5bn at the same time last year. Pre-tax profits of £427m after one-off costs were 10.6% up on the £386m reported at the same time last year.
UK & Ireland sales of £2.6bn were up by 3.3%, or 6.7% on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the effect of store openings and closures. Retail profit of £211m was 8.8% ahead. The Screwfix performance stood out, with sales of £612m, 24% up on the same time last year, or 14.7% up on a like-for-like basis. Mobile sales grew by 117%, while the number of orders collected using the click and collect service were up by 59%.
At B&Q, the larger business, total sales of £1.997bn were down by 1.9% following store closures, but rose by 4.6% like-for-like. Click and collect is now available on more than 18,000 products, while total online sales, including home delivery, grew by 39%.
Chief executive Véronique Laury said growth had been driven by Poland and the UK – with a strong contribution from Screwfix – while profits had been stable in France.
"This has been achieved alongside managing the start of our ambitious transformation plan, based on creating a unified company where customer needs come first," she said.
She added: "Looking longer term, we are starting to build solid foundations to enable us to deliver our five year transformation, which is our key growth driver. We are making good progress on our strategic milestones for this first year and we are on track. The level of transformation activity will increase significantly, however given the expertise and energy of our colleagues we continue to feel confident about the challenges ahead."