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Mobile and click and collect drive strong growth at Screwfix; B&Q sales decline despite online growth

Screwfix sales reached £1.5bn in its latest financial year thanks to strong growth in mobile and click and collect sales.

Total sales grew by 16.7% in the year to January 31, and by 10.1% on a like-for-like basis, as mobile sales soared by 86% and click and collect by 38%. Sales from specialist trade desks exclusive to plumbers and electricians also grew. But in the fourth quarter of the year, sales slowed (+7.1%, like-for-like), reflecting “softer demand for big ticket categories” such as kitchens. By the end of the financial year, it had 577 branches, with a target of 700.

Sister company B&Q saw sales fall by 5.3% to £3.5bn during the year, following a store closure programme. Sales were down by 2.8% on a like-for-like basis. However, digital sales grew by 11% to represent 4% of total sales. More than 33,000 B&Q products can now be collected via click and click, including 29,00 for one hour pick up. A new B&Q mobile app launched in September which “is delivering improved average transaction values”, while the first of its digital home improvement services launched, including a bathroom planner tool.

Screwfix is an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, while B&Q is a Leading retailer.

The figures came as parent company Kingfisher reported overall sales of £11.6bn in the year to January 31. That’s up by 3.8% in total, but down by 0.7% on a like-for-like, constant currency, basis. Pre-tax profits of £682m, down by 10.1% on the previous year. The retail group, which also owns brands including Castorama and Brico Depot in France, is in the third year of a five-year transformation plan. More than 50% of its group sales now operate on one unified IT platform. Some 6% of sales took place online in its latest financial year, up from 4% a year earlier.

Chief executive Véronique Laury said the group had made good progress over the year, but that a good performance at Screwfix and in Poland was offset by weaker sales in France and disruption around product availability and clearance.

“We have made good progress in this second year of our ambitious five-year transformation after a significant step up in the level of activity,” she said. “For the second year in a row, all our key strategic milestones have been met and I am really pleased to say that we are starting to see tangible delivery of our plan. The changes are now visible across our stores and online. Over a third of our ranges have now been unified and they are being well received by customers. We are buying as ONE and are starting to see the customer and financial benefits coming through, both in sales and gross margins. Our digital initiatives are gaining momentum as we enter the final year of roll out of our unified IT platform. I am also pleased to see that our operational efficiency initiatives, focusing initially on goods not for resale, continue to deliver and are now gathering pace as we start to unlock further opportunities.”

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