B&Q sales down but ‘big-ticket’ categories perform well

Home improvement retailer B&Q has reported a decline in sales while group revenues posted a slight increase.

According to the latest Kingfisher, parent company of B&Q, first quarter trading update for the year ended 30 April 2023, total group sales were up 0.8% to £3.3bn, while like-for-like sales were 3.3%.

Kingfisher said that trading improved in April, supported by its core and ‘big-ticket’ categories with ongoing strength in trade demand.

UK & Ireland sales, which consist of B&Q and Screwfix, were up 1.3%, with B&Q sales down 1.7%. Like-for-like sales of core and ‘big-ticket’ categories were up 2.1% with bathroom & storage sales performing well in the quarter.

B&Q’s total e-commerce sales increased +14.3% YoY in Q1, with an overall e-commerce sales penetration of 11.4% (Q1 22/23: 10.0%). B&Q’s e-commerce marketplace, which has scaled rapidly since its launch in March 2022, continues to see strong growth and reached a participation of 27% in April (i.e., B&Q’s marketplace gross sales divided by B&Q’s total e-commerce sales). B&Q opened one new store in Q1 (a small retail park compact format in Newark) and closed all eight of its ‘grocery concession’ format stores.

Looking ahead, the group expects to report an adjusted pre-tax profit for the year of £634m. Thierry Garnier, Chief Executive Officer, said: “As we move through our key trading season, we are pleased to see that sales in our core and ‘big-ticket’ categories, which make up over 80% of our total sales, are showing continued resilience.

“The unusually poor spring weather in the UK and France affected our seasonal sales in the quarter, impacting demand for items such as garden and outdoor products. We have however seen an improvement in trading since early April, and anticipate a release of some pent-up demand as the weather continues to improve. Our inventory remains healthy and, in aggregate, is reducing in line with our expectations.

“We continue to execute our strategy at pace, making good progress across all our key priorities. Screwfix is trading well and seeing particularly strong demand from trade customers, with total sales up 6.5%. The business continues to drive its store expansion plans in the UK, Ireland and France. E-commerce sales were another highlight in the quarter, up 4.7%. One of the drivers of this is the continued success of B&Q’s marketplace, which reached 27% of B&Q’s online sales in April, a year after its launch.

“Across the Group, we are maintaining a sharp focus on competitive pricing, while balancing inflationary pressures. With the continued easing of raw material prices and freight costs, we expect to see lower product cost inflation in H2.

“We are comfortable with market expectations for the business this year, and confident in delivering growth ahead of our markets, strong cash generation, and higher returns to shareholders over the medium-term.”

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