Gardening categories help B&Q sales surge

First quarter Kingfisher sales led by 30 per cent outdoor seasonal increase

DIY giant Kingfisher has reported strong growth in both sales and profits in its first quarter of 2014, helped by sales of outdoor seasonal and building products which were up around 30 per cent thanks to better weather and a later Easter.

Outdoor seasonal and building products can represent up to 30 per cent of total Q1 sales.

The parent company of B&Q posted a 20 per cent surge in first quarter retail profit and said it would pay a £100 million special dividend as part of its new plans for extra shareholder rewards.

The group said retail profit for the 13 weeks to May 3 rose to £142 million. Sales at stores open over a year rose 6.1 per cent.

Pack bedding, fence panels (up 86 per cent), rattan and resin furniture showed strong growth, with 326,000 fence panels being sold.

Summer bedding plant packs were up 35 per cent year on year.

Some 2.7m packs of easyGrow sold against 1.64m polystyrene packs in 2013. B&Q replaced polystyrene with easyGrow this year, as first revelaed in HW.

B&Q sold 70,078 two stem Mother’s Day Orchid in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.

So far in 2014 B&Q has sold sold 96,000 barbecues. Gas barbecues are up 22.4 per cent, charcoal up 42.8 per cent, parasols up 57 per cent, rattan and resin furniture up 58.8 per cent and metal furniture up 35.5 per cent.

For summer 2014, B&Q has a World Cup gnome and camping chair on offer.

Kingfisher chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire said: "We have made a strong start to the year, capitalising on more favourable weather conditions right across Europe to achieve sales and profit growth in France, the UK & Poland, our three largest markets.

"Whilst this is encouraging, the first quarter is one of our smallest and the growth achieved largely reflects comparisons with the very difficult start to last year. We will annualise stronger figures in our second quarter and so, as ever, we will look at the whole of the first half results to properly assess our underlying performance.

Total sales increased by 12.5 per cent to £1,200 million.

Kingfisher UK & Ireland reported retail profit up 35.2 per cent to £68 million. Gross margins were down around 200 basis points reflecting higher sales of lower margin outdoor seasonal and building products, the recognition of more promotionally-led showroom sales (kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms) from Q4 last year and increased home delivery costs. Total UK & Ireland cash gross profit grew by seven per cent over the quarter.

B&Q UK & Ireland’s total sales grew by 10.5 per cent to £1,008 million. Sales of indoor products were up around three per cent.

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