In the third quarter to May 3, retail sales and profits were down at flagship UK division.
There’s little reason to think things will have improved much since. BRC data on Tuesday showed that shoppers were still shying away from big-ticket purchases, although the garden category was better compared with last June, when much of Britain was under water.
You can pick up Kingfisher shares for the price of a couple of screws in B&Q. Worth less than a pound, the lowly rating is symptomatic of the fall from grace of one of the UK’s most groundbreaking and successful retail businesses.
But the roof is not quite falling in on Kingfisher. Compared with rivals – notably Homebase – B&Q has better weathered market-driven travails. And Cheshire’s fledgling improvement programme should turn the group into a leaner, keener retail machine.
There are signs that, certainly at present valuations, the City is warming to Kingfisher. ING, for instance, likes the potential for self-help, evidence of cultural change such as improved return on investment and international prospects.
Other than trading insights, interest next week is likely to be in progress on completing the turnaround team. The roles left to fill are for a new group finance director and a head of what Kingfisher dully describes as “other international”.
In fact, other international could be one of the most interesting areas in future. Poland is going well. Russia and Turkey are smaller but growing fast and about 20 per cent of capital expenditure will be devoted to expanding in Eastern Europe.
There might also be a few disposals, such as Castorama Italy, which has property assets of£390 million, or the minority stake in German retailer Hornbach.
Ongoing UK difficulties may continue to depress the shares but, longer term, Kingfisher could yet deliver value.
Not a pretty picture
David Adams is retail’s very own Sisyphus. No sooner does it look as if he’s almost rolled Jessops to the top of the hill than it tumbles back down again.
He’s put in a sterling effort and made progress, but you have to wonder if Jessops will ultimately be a heroic failure.
George MacDonald is deputy editor of Retail Week