Covid-19 hits Kingfisher hard in the first quarter

Sales of the British Kingfisher group in the first quarter (February to April) collapsed by 24 per cent to GBP 2.155 bn compared to the same period last year - as a significant result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company declares. Only the Screwfix sales channel has largely escaped the collapse and has reported not massive increases as was usual until now, but robust sales which lie only 0.1 per cent below the previous year. Otherwise, the figures from the major countries reflect the coronavirus crisis: -14.7 per cent in Great Britain and Ireland (B&Q: -22.1 per cent), -42.0 per cent (constant currency) in France (Castorama -44.0 per cent, Brico Dépôt -39.8 per cent). It's a mixed picture among the remaining expansion countries: Poland -6.0 per cent, Romania +11.2 per cent - reports here were from January to March -, Spain and Portugal -47.2 per cent, Russia - also from January to March - -2.9 per cent. In a statement, CEO Thierry Garnier emphasised that they had concentrated on clear priorities: "to provide support to the communities we serve, to fulfil our obligations to colleagues as a responsible employer, to our customers as a retailer of essential goods, and to protect our business for the long term." In general, the group has noticed a strong e-commerce growth (up to fourfold growth since mid-March) during the crisis. In the meantime, there was a phased reopening of stores in the UK and France in the second half of April. As a result, Kingfisher talks of improving the relative sales trend, the group like-for-like sales moved from -74.0 per cent in first week of April to +2.7 per cent in first week of May.