Kingfisher Group, which owns B&Q and Screwfix, has reported a 3.8% increase in group sales for the year ended January 31 and retail profit up 7.4%.
The preliminary results also showed group pre-tax profits of £686 million – a 0.3% increase compared with the previous year.
In the UK and Ireland, Kingfisher sales were up 5.6% to £4.8 billion, which it attributed to a strong UK economy and a more buoyant housing construction market. Retail profit also grew by 18% to £326m. This compared with a rise in sales of 1.2% (£3.7bn) an increase in retail profits of only 10.9% (£311m) at Kingfisher France (where it owns Castorama and Brico Dépôt).
B&Q also saw growth, as total sales increased by 1.1% to £3.7bn, with like-for-like sales benefiting from a 0.4% increase from sales transference associated with the planned store closures.
B&Q extended its ‘Click, Pay & Collect’ service to more than 16,700 products and saw total transacted online sales grow by 29%.
Kingfisher chief executive Véronique Laury said: “This has been a very productive and important year. We have delivered a good ‘business as usual’ result with both sales and profit growth in constant currencies, driven by our performance in Poland and the UK, and a stable performance in France.
“We have also delivered solid progress on the first sharp decisions announced last year. I am really pleased with the focus and the energy that the team has demonstrated during the year.
“In addition, in January we revealed our ambition and our five-year plan. By putting customer needs first, we will, by the end of that period, deliver a £500m sustainable annual profit uplift, over and above ‘business as usual’. It is an ambitious plan. However, based on the solid progress so far, and the competence and enthusiasm of our colleagues, we feel very confident in our ability to deliver.”
Chief financial officer Karen Witts said: “We have set ambitious and clear five-year financial targets, which will drive a considerable increase in the value of our business for shareholders. We are tracking our progress against our financial and operational milestones, and we will update as we progress.
“Our balance sheet remains strong, enabling us to continue to invest in the business and in the transformation, while also returning surplus capital to shareholders, in addition to the ordinary annual dividend.
“In the short term, the fundamentals of the UK economic backdrop remain positive, although we remain cautious on the outlook for France. The outlook for the wider global economy remains uncertain, and the impact of the outcome of the UK EU referendum is unknown.”