B&Q to close 60 stores as seasonal products struggle, while Homebase sees result of closing stores

DIY company Kingfisher is pressing ahead with the closures of B&Q branches across the UK.

Kingfisher will close 15 per cent of B&Q surplus space by end of FY 2016/17 (60 stores) in "over-spaced" catchments. Exit of leases has been secured on 26 of the stores.

Chief executive Veronique Laury said: "I am pleased with the progress made to exit most of our earmarked for closure this year, which will in time strengthen our balance sheet and maintain our financial flexibility."

Kingfisher posted a 2.3 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £384 million for the six months to August 1.

B&Q total sales increased slightly by 0.2 per cent (+0.7 per cent like-for-like) to £2,033 million. Sales of outdoor seasonal products were down 2.3 per cent while sales of indoor products, excluding showroom, were up 3.6 per cent. B&Q launched ‘Click, Pay & Collect’ on over 14,000 products last year with the release of the new diy.com. Total transacted online sales, including home delivery, "continued to make good progress."

Laury said: "In the short term, whilst we remain encouraged by the macroeconomic backdrop in the UK, we remain cautious on the outlook for France. Our balance sheet remains strong, enabling us to continue investing for growth and to return so far this year, £160m via share buyback. We are also today announcing growth in the interim dividend, ahead of earnings, reflecting our confidence in our medium term prospects."

Meanwhile, Homebase owner  Home Retail Group, released its second financial quarter results covering the 13 weeks to 29 August 2015.
Total sales at Homebase declined by 2.8 per cent to £378m as a result of the ongoing store closure programme, which resulted in eight store closures in the quarter and which reduced the storeportfolio to 271. Closed space reduced sales by 8.7 per cent in the quarter.
Like-for-like sales increased by 5.9 per cent in the quarter with sales growth broadly across all
product categories, but particularly in big ticket products. This growth continued to be
partially supported by both the trade transfer and the stock clearance sales benefits attributable to the previously announced store closure programme and distribution centre
Chief executive John Walden said: "Argos delivered an improved sales performance in t
he second quarter. It made good progress with new stores, opening more than 50 digi tal concessions within Homebase and Sainsbury’s, which have generated encouraging early
"Homebase performed well across its peak trading season, delivering good like-for-like sales
growth in both quarters of the first half, while continuing its progress on both its store
closure programme and the Productivity Plan more broadly.
"The outcome for the Group’s full-year generally depends upon the important Christmas
trading period at Argos which, this year, seems less predictable than usual due to a less
certain promotional environment. Our teams have made solid progress preparing for this
period, including substantially completing the technology and operational steps necessary to
introduce new store collection and home delivery propositions to our customers. We will be
making increased marketing and promotional investments to launch these propositions and
we expect customers to increasingly embrace them over time."

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