Covid-19: B&Q owner reports 24% drop in Q1 sales

B&Q and Screwfix parent company Kingfisher said today (12 May) that sales in the three months to 30 April, its first quarter of the financial year, were down by 24% to £2.2 billion.

Despite being classed as an ‘essential’ retailer in the current health emergency by the UK government, the group opted to close its stores for several weeks and operate a click & collect and home delivery service only.

As stores have started to reopen following new safety measures aimed at halting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, sales have picked up. Group like-for-like sales were down by 74% in the first week of April, but they were up by 2.7% in first week of May.

Kingfisher also said it has seen strong eCommerce trading over the period, suggesting it has been experiencing up to four-fold growth since mid-March when lockdown measures were implemented in the main markets in which it operates.

The group added it has “sufficient liquidity headroom” if there is a prolonged period of reduced sales, with a cash balance of circa £700 million and access to total liquidity of over £2 billion. The group has also postponed all non-critical or contractually obliged capital expenditure, including IT and new store investment.

Quarterly sales in the UK and Ireland – stores are still not permitted to open in the latter – totalled £1.09 billion, which was down by 16% on a like for like basis on the same period last year. B&Q’s £663 million and Screwfix’s £442 million represented 21.8% and 4.7% annual sales declines, respectively.

Thierry Garnier, Kingfisher CEO, said: "Having initially closed our stores in France and the UK, we have rapidly adapted how we operate to meet the essential needs of our customers safely during lockdown.

“We started by transforming our operations to meet a material increase in online transactions through our click & collect and home delivery services. We reconfigured our retail space and processes, allowing a phased and safe reopening of stores whilst preserving the social distancing and other health and safety protocols that are likely to be with us for some time.”

There are currently 288 B&Q stores open in the UK, while all 683 Screwfix shops across the country continue to offer a contactless click & collect service.