Summer’s heavy rain costs DIY chain £30m

DROP IN PROFITS B&Q at The Pompey Centre
DROP IN PROFITS B&Q at The Pompey Centre
HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum from the air     Picture: Shaun Roster

‘Nowhere in Europe offers everything Portsmouth does’

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B&Q owner Kingfisher said the wettest summer in 100 years cost the group £30m in profit as demand for gardening and outdoor maintenance plunged.

The FTSE 100 Index company, which also owns tools supplier Screwfix, said record rainfall helped prompt a seven per cent drop in seasonal product sales in the 26 weeks to July 28.

B&Q in the UK and Ireland, which has stores in Titchfield and Portsmouth, suffered a six per cent like-for-like decline in sales to £2bn as average footfall plunged 20 per cent in the severely weather-affected weeks. The wider group reported a 17 per cent slide in bottom line pre-tax profits to £364m in the period as sales dipped three per cent to £5.5bn.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said: ‘This has been a tough first half with unprecedented wet weather throughout the key spring and summer seasons in northern Europe.

‘This affected footfall and demand for outdoor maintenance, gardening and leisure products, which normally account for a significant proportion of our first half sales.’

MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, has said 14.25in (362mm) of rain fell in June, July and August, making it the wettest summer since 1912.

At B&Q, sales of building products were hit by the adverse weather, while sales of indoor decorative products were up as customers switched some of their home improvement activities indoors. The chain saw retail profit slide 24 per cent to £125m.

Screwfix grew total sales by nine per cent to £273m, driven by the continued rollout of new outlets and the recent introduction of a mobile ‘click, pay & collect’ service.

Matthew McEachran, retail sector analyst at Singer Capital, said the results were below expectations and downgrades to full-year forecasts were ‘inevitable’. There was some cheer for investors as the group raised its interim dividend by 25 per cent to 3.09p.