DIY sales soar as locked down householders reach for the power tools

B and Q Ipswich

Sales at DIY chain rocketed as locked down householders focused attention on their homes - Credit: Googlemaps

Sales at DIY chains have hit the roof after remaining open during lockdown as “essential retailers”.

Kingfisher — the owner of B&Q and Screwfix stores in the UK and Castorama and Brico Depot in France — said the boom in DIY showed no sign of slowing in the run-up to Christmas.

Its sales soared in the 10 weeks to January 9, rising by 16.9%. This was supported by online growth of more than 150% compared with the same period a year ago.

Bosses at the retailer said they were benefiting from bored householders looking to update their homes.

At the same time the company also enjoyed “essential” retail status in the UK which meant its 1,380 stores — which include outlets in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Haverhill, Colchester, Braintree and Clacton-on-Sea - remained open during lockdown in November, then under the tiered system in the run-up to Christmas.

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UK and Ireland sales jumped 24% in November, and were up 20.8% in December.

The end of a national lockdown in France in December also saw sales rocket by 29.4% compared with a 0.1% fall in November on a like-for-like basis.

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Chief executive Thierry Garnier said: “While the strength of our Q4 trading, to date, is reassuring, uncertainty over Covid-19 and the impact of lockdown restrictions in most of our markets continue to limit our visibility.

“Longer term, we are confident that the strategic and operational actions we are taking are building a strong foundation for sustainable long-term growth. We also believe that the renewed focus on homes is supportive for our markets.”

As a result of the strong sales, he now expects pre-tax profits for the year to be at the top end of City expectations of £742m.

This will include an £85m one-off profit from the pandemic chaos after taking into consideration £45m spent on making stores Covid-secure and covering other coronavirus-related costs.

Kingfisher did not separate out sales figures between its B&Q sites - which had to close showrooms but kept other areas open - and its click-and-collect business Screwfix.

But bosses said they expect sales at Screwfix - which opened its first store 15 years ago - to hit £2bn this year.

The company plans to repay £130m saved from the government's business rates holiday, and has repaid £23m  previously claimed under the UK furlough scheme. It has made no further claims - including the Job Retention Bonus scheme.

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