Unseasonal weather, declining housing markets and the difficult economic background across Europe have made a significant impact on Kingfisher’s domestic and international businesses. Retail Week takes a closer look at its performance market by market.
UK and Ireland
In the most severely weather-affected weeks, average footfall at B&Q dropped by 20% and sales of both seasonal outdoor products and building materials were down, with the former falling by 11%. No surprise then that B&Q’s retail profit declined sharply by 24.1% to £125m while total sales fell by 3% to £2bn. Screwfix, meanwhile, has fared far better, growing its total sales by 8.9% to £273m despite its core market of tradesman suffering in the downturn. Retail profit at Screwfix was up 19.1% to £20m. It benefited from 25 new store openings plus a rollout of Click, Pay and Collect, mostly recently for mobiles.
Like the UK, France - particularly the northern region - suffered a rain-lashed April that took its toll on sales of home improvement products. According to figures from Banque de France, the overall home improvement market declined by 9% over the month. At Kingfisher’s DIY chain Castorama sales of outdoor seasonal product dropped 2%. Instead, house-bound consumers turned their attention indoors as sales of new kitchens and tiles rose by 1%. Total sales at the chain grew by 2.2% to £1.2bn. At Brico Dépôt, which targets building professionals, sales were broadly flat at £1bn, hit by a slowdown in the house building market.
With the on-going Poland market - Kingfisher’s third largest - described as weak, the retailer struggled over the first half. Retail profit plummeted 12.6% to £54m due to cost inflation, although the retailer says it was partially off-set by tight cost control. Overall, sales rose by 2.3% to £513m although like-for-likes fell by 4.1%.
A bright spot for the group as the general economic backdrop in Russia remains relatively strong. Retail profit came in at £2m compared to a £1m loss in the first half of last year, while sales were up by 48.3% to £198m, with like-for-likes up by 19.3%. Kingfisher boss Ian Cheshrie said: “Russia looks like our next Poland. It’s an underpenetrated market and there’s an awful lot of space in Russia.”
Kingfisher’s 50% joint venture Koçtaş saw retail profit fall sharply by 30.2% to £5m while sales grew by 6.8%. A a new store opening was offset by poor seasonal sales and a “slower” economic environment.
New store openings at Brico Dépôt boosted sales by 2.1% to £129m but retail profit was down 50% to £3m, reflecting the turbulent economic backdrop in debt-ridden Spain.
Sales at B&Q China have been hit by a “more challenging house market than anticipated”. Sales slipped 5.5% to £168 and losses were flat year-on-year at £6m. The business is still under review as Kingfisher searches for a model that fits the market.
DIY specialist Hornbach, in which Kingfisher has a 21% stake, suffered a 22.9% fall in retail profit to £9m, following a £5m loss in the first quarter. The figures are a stark contrast to last year, when sales were boosted by record employment figures, high consumer confidence and low interest rates. While the German economy remains stable, there is considerable downward pressure from struggling southern European economies