Kingfisher restructures to focus on trade specialists

Trade equipment and DIY retail company Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix stores, plans to extend the number of its UK Screwfix stores by 200, as part of its restructuring plans, while closing 60 B&Q stores by the end of its 2016-17 financial year, it was reported on Tuesday.

Kingfisher is reportedly focusing on its trade customers, such as plumbers and electricians, who purchase tools, plumbing and electrical equipment from its 412 Screwfix UK stores, which continue to deliver strong growth. The company has said it will tap into the demand for specialist tradespeople, as consumers continue to move away from DIY, and will open a further 200 Screwfix stores in the UK.

In the first half of Kingfisher’s fiscal year, like-for-like sales at Screwfix increased by 16.5% to GBP494m. These sales were said to be driven by strong growth from trade desks for plumbers and electricians, digital and mobile growth, new and extended ranges and new outlets. The company is expected to open 60 new Screwfix stores by the end of 2015-16.

The strategic changes will mean that most of the 30 B&Q closures planned for this year will fall in the second half, however the company has denied speculation that it plans to close the DIY retail chain entirely. The restructuring is expected to cost the company approximately GBP350m over two years. It also plans to cut back on some of the 393,000 products it sells.

Statutory pre-tax profits for Kingfisher reportedly fell by 1.8% to GBP386m in the half year to 1 August 2015, while total sales declined by 4.8% to GBP5.49bn. Like-for-like sales at its DIY retail chain B&Q rose by just 0.7%. Kingfisher shares reportedly dropped around 2% in early trading on 15 September 2015.

New chief executive of Kingfisher, Veronique Laury, who is tasked with unify processes across the Kingfisher Group under her ‘ONE’ initiative, was quoted as saying: “I am pleased that we have delivered a solid first half of the year.” 

She added: “There remains a lot to be done, however.”

Kingfisher also runs the Castorama and Brico Depot chains in France and other countries. It has also announced two store closures in France and one in Russia.