B&Q owner Kingfisher saw its sales dip in the first quarter to £3.3bn, down 3.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis, as the home improvement company saw performance dampened by grim April weather in the UK and France, and ongoing inflation.
Despite this, the retail giant said the results showed “resilience” to the economic climate, and kept its full year guidance unchanged.
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 per cent 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.”
The retailer also said pension reform strike action affected its French branch, impacting traffic to its Castorama and Brico Depot stores.
It comes after a turbulent start to the year saw profits slump in March to £611m, down 39 per cent on the previous year, with crippling inflation causing shoppers to scale back on home improvement products.
Garnier, however, said today that the DIY titan had seen an improved trading performance since early April, with the company anticipating some pent-up demand when the summer months bring warmer temperatures. “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.”
Hardware company Screwfix and the group’s e-commerce segment performed particularly well, said Garnier, with sales for the former up 6.5 per cent.
“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.”
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said that B&Q blaming poor weather for the drop in sales “won’t draw much sympathy.”
“Yes, when it is wet people are less likely to be out in the garden but, in the UK in particular, spring weather is often unsettled. Investors will take some solace from the strong sales of ‘big-ticket’ items, which implies there isn’t undue pressure on consumer spending, and it is notable that profit guidance is actually above expectations.”
He added: “Significantly, Kingfisher is seeing its own cost inflation pressures ease. It will be interesting to see to what extent it passes this on to shoppers.”
Many DIY firms enjoyed a lockdown-era boom, as Brits turned to odd jobs around the house, and maintaining that post-pandemic has proved a challenge.