The worst spring in ages has caused a big slump in the sales of Europe’s largest DIY group, Kingfisher. Especially in France, where the group is active with Castorama and Brico Dépôt, sales have dropped dramatically, but B&Q and Screwfix in Great Britain are not spared.
Kingfisher saw its sales drop immensely in the past quarter, the company announced in a trading update. The group had sales of 2.62 billion pound (3.05 billion euro) over the thirteen weeks (ending on 4 May), a drop of 4.2% on a comparable basis.
In France alone sales dropped by 5.6% to 1.08 billion pound: Castorama lost 4.1% on a comparable basis, Brico Dépôt did even worse with -7.3%. The British and Irish activities lost 4.7% of their sales and ended up at 1.07 billion pound as B&Q had a drop of 5.6% on a comparable basis. The only bright side in Kingfisher's two main markets was the smaller chain Screwfix, that had a modest rise in sales of 1.7%.
The remainder of the international activities – the group is active in 8 countries in Europe and Asia – showed a growth of 0.7%. The unseasonably cold weather over the crucial Easter shopping period deterred consumers from commencing projects outdoors or in the garden, said CEO Ian Cheshire (photo): “The weather clobbered us for six weeks – six weeks out of 13,” he added.
Less planting materials, more fuels
It was even so cold that “people went indoors and lit fires”, Cheshire said, which showed up well within the winners and the losers in the assortment: the past quarter 8% less planting materials were sold and even 52% less greenhouses/garden houses. The sales of paint rose by 6%, while the demand for winter fuels could barely be met: +66%.
The CEO keeps his spirits up however: “The weather had been better recently, and the group still had 80 per cent of the year to go”, he said, adding that any comparison with the previous year will be made easier by better exchange rates (last year the euro was in a big crisis).