B&Q and Screwfix owner the Kingfisher Group today reported fast growth in sales as shoppers focused on improving their homes after spending more time in them – and more chose to buy online and pick-up in-store.
But it warned that product availability was currently below last year’s levels as “high and volatile levels of demand” for goods including paint, building materials and kitchen ranges challenges its suppliers’ ability to produce them. Logistics infrastructure has also been put under strain by the pandemic. At the same time the group continues to plan for Brexit – deal or no-deal.
Ecommerce sales grew across the group by 153% in the three months to October 31 – compared to the same time last year – to account for 17% of group sales in the three months to October 31. Click and collect grew by 216% to account for 77% of online sales. The strongest growth in ecommerce sales was in August (+160%), followed by September (+159.4%) and October (+140.5%). Overall, group sales of £3.5bn grew by 17.2% up in total in the third quarter, compared to the same time last year, and by 17.4% on a like-for-like (LFL) basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures.
In the UK alone, sales of £1.6bn were up by 21.5% in total, and by 19.9% LFL. The fastest growth was at B&Q, where sales of £1bn were up by 23.9% in total and by 24% LFL. Screwfix sales of £560m were 17.4% up in total, and by 12.8% LFL.
In its French market, Castorama sales also grew strongly, by 19.9% in total and by 23.2% LFL, contributing to total growth of 17.9% in that market (+19.2% LFL).
Kingfisher chief executive Thierry Garner said higher footfall and transaction valued helped to lift sales across all of Kingfisher’s brands and categories. “Our growth was supported by strong market demand, as consumers spent more time in their homes and focused on improving them.” He added: “We are confident that the strategic and operational actions we have taken so far are helping us to build a strong foundation for long-term growth.”
Looking ahead, the retailer said sales in the first week of November was driven by “exceptional demand” in the UK, and particularly at B&Q as the second English lockdown started. It has repaid the £23m it received after furloughing staff in the first half of the year and has made no claims since July 1. It continues to pay high risk, vulnerable or self-isolating members of staff their full salaries.
Kingfisher said it continued to plan for either a new trading relationship with the EU or for a no-deal result. It said: “We have taken several measures to mitigate delays at the border as far as possible and to ensure readiness for exporting to the Republic of Ireland, such as securing access to simplified customs procedures and adapting our OEB packaging to be suitable for UK and EU markets. We are continuing with our vendor engagement programme to ensure their readiness to operate under a hard border with the UK, providing support where needed.”