DIY retailer Kingfisher posted growth in the majority of its markets in a trading update released this morning and said it was on track to deliver its "ambitious" five-year plan.
Total sales rose 5.1 per cent for the group to £2.73bn, including new openings in the three months to April, in line with expectations.
The B&Q owner reported a 3.6 per cent increase in same-store sales in the first quarter. Growth was especially strong for same-store sales at its brand Screwfix, which rose 16.2 per cent.
The property market in France, which has been under pressure, drove more modest growth in the company's French market, where total sales were up 2.2 per cent. Sales at the Castorama chain were up 0.2 per cent, although down 0.9 per cent on a like for like basis, while Brico Depot recorded sales growth of 4.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent on a like for like basis.
Sales in Poland jumped by 12.6 per cent, while the UK and Ireland posted more modest growth of 1.3 per cent and sales in Russia dipped 5.7 per cent.
The company's share price was up 2.19 per cent to 368.40p in early morning trading.
Why it's interesting
The company said today that its five-year plan remains on track, building on momentum achieved in its results released in March, when chief executive Veronique Laury said she was "very confident" the group would see the plan through.
In January, Kingfisher unveiled a new five-year strategy to deliver a "sustainable annual profit uplift" of £500m by the end of the fifth year. But for the first two years, profits will be hit, net of unclarified "operational benefits". The company estimated a £50m knock in the first year and between £70m and £100m in the second.
What Kingfisher said
Chief executive Laury said:
We have made a solid start to the year, trading in line with expectations.
In addition, I am pleased with the early progress we are making on our operational milestones for this year, the first year of our ambitious five-year plan. We continue to feel confident in our ability to deliver our plan, based on putting customer needs first, supported by the expertise and enthusiasm of our colleagues.
What others said
George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The home improvement market is growing and buoyant sales at Screwfix reflect an increasing trend to call a man in rather than DIY. We are seeing the same in France with the consumer-facing business Castorama going backwards while trade-focused Brico Depot put in a decent performance.
"Against the backdrop of store closures, like for like sales at B&Q grew at a decent pace. Seasonal sales were down for the second year running, but this is just the ongoing return to 'normal' levels of activity after a 30 per cent surge in the first quarter of 2014-15.
"The group is just a few months into the five year One Kingfisher efficiency programme, with benefits promised for the years ahead. It’s too early to see the competitive impact of the sale of Homebase to Wesfarmers earlier this year, but this is set to be an increasing challenge. Kingfisher is nicely placed to benefit from a recovery in France and wider Europe, if and when it happens."