Thursday 22 August 2019

B&Q owner to reveal boost from glorious Easter

It comes as Kingfisher searches for a successor to under-fire boss Veronique Laury.

A view of a BandQ store (Paul Faith/PA)
A view of a BandQ store (Paul Faith/PA)

By Holly Williams, Press Association Deputy City Editor

B&Q owner Kingfisher is set to reveal a bounce back in sales at the DIY chain on Wednesday thanks to a sun-soaked Easter weekend.

Analysts at Jefferies are pencilling in a 2.6% rise in like-for-like sales over the group’s first quarter, boosted by a surge in DIY activity over the warmest Easter on record.

It compares with a torrid start to 2018, when trading slumped 9% amid the Beast from the East extreme weather.

Overall first quarter like-for-like sales at Kingfisher, which also owns chains including Castorama in France and Screwfix, are likely to rise by around 1%, according to Jefferies.

The trading update comes as the group searches for a successor to under-fire boss Veronique Laury.

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Kingfisher has kicked off the search for a successor to chief executive Veronique Laury (Charles Best/Kingfisher/PA)

It announced in March that she planned to step down, but has not yet set a departure date and Ms Laury will remain in post until a successor is appointed.

The Share Centre said the first quarter trading update will be closely watched for any news on the top job, while also being a key period for the group.

It said: “There will be considerable interest in this first quarter trading update given that spring is usually a strong period for DIY activity and the Easter bank holiday weekend enjoyed exceptionally good weather this year.

“That should bode well for the B&Q and Screwfix businesses.”

It added: “Any update on the company’s search for a new CEO to replace Veronique Laury will also be of interest although it may be a little too soon for anything firm on that.”

Ms Laury’s departure was announced as the group also revealed in March that profits tumbled 52.8% to £322 million for the year to January 31.

On an underlying basis and stripping out costs including £111 million for store closures, pre-tax profits fell 13% to £693 million.

The group’s results showed B&Q sales dropped 3% on a like-for-like basis over the year, while Screwfix remained the star performer with a 4.1% rise in comparable sales.

But, in spite of the profits and sales woes, Kingfisher’s annual report this month showed Ms Laury’s total pay package swelled 11% to £1.8 million thanks to a hefty salary hike and bonus awards.

Ms Laury picked up a 4%, or £30,800, salary hike, £522,000 annual cash award and £333,700 in long-term bonus shares.

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