B&Q has reported the snow at the beginning of the year affected trade as it recorded like-for-like sales fell 3.5% in its fourth quarter.
For the 13 weeks to January 30, the DIY giant said prior to the adverse weather, its like-for-like sales were slightly up. Total sales for the period fell 1.6% to £836m. However, parent Kingfisher said it was still on course for better than expected profits despite January’s snow hitting sales growth.
Gross margins are expected to be strongly up reflecting reduced promotional activity compared to the fourth quarter last year, plus better sales of higher margin products and continued shrinkage reduction.
Kingfisher reported like-for-like sales down 3%, and total sales down 1% to £2.3bn.
Kingfisher group chief executive Ian Cheshire said: “Underlying sales trends remained relatively resilient in the fourth quarter before trading in January was significantly disrupted by the heavy snow and low temperatures across Europe, particularly in the UK and Poland.
“However, our on-going programme of self-help initiatives on gross margin and costs resulted in strong quarterly profit growth and so we expect our full year earnings will be slightly ahead of current analyst consensus expectations when we announce our annual results next month.
“After what has been a busy and productive year I am pleased that we now have a stronger balance sheet, a very experienced leadership team and a clear set of well-established ‘Delivering Value’ initiatives to drive higher cash returns and future growth.”
In France – comprising Castorama and Brico Depot – like-for-likes were down 4.6% and total sales were down 2.7%. Poland like-for-likes were down 4.7% and total sales were flat, in Russia total sales grew 15.5%, and in Spain by 15.9%. In China, total sales grew 3.3%.