12 September 2012 10:38
B&Q owner Kingfisher today said that demand for gardening and outdoor maintenance equipment fell through the floor as the UK saw the wettest summer in a century. The group added that the record rainfall would cost it £30 million.
The company, which also owns tools supplier Screwfix as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France, said that seasonal product sales had dropped 7% in the 26 weeks to July 28th, with B&Q in the UK and Ireland suffering a 6% like-for-like decline in sales to £2 billion as average footfall fell 20% in the more severely weather-affected weeks. Screwfix grew total sales by 9% to £273 million, driven by the continued rollout of new outlets and the recent introduction of a mobile "click, pay & collect" service. The chain opened 25 new outlets in the first half, taking the total to 240, with retail profit jumping 19% to £20 million.
Group retail profit in the UK and Ireland declined by 20% to £145 million whilst the wider group reported a 17% slide in bottom line pre-tax profits to £364 million in the period as sales dipped 3% to £5.5 billion. However, ongoing self-help initiatives, including higher direct sourcing, helped limit the overall profit decline.
Chief executive Ian Cheshire commented: "This has been a tough first half with unprecedented wet weather throughout the key spring and summer seasons in northern Europe.
"This affected footfall and demand for outdoor maintenance, gardening and leisure products, which normally account for a significant proportion of our first half sales."
MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, has said 14.25in (362mm) of rain fell in June, July and August, making it the wettest summer since 1912.