France’s Castorama helps float Kingfisher

While the United Kingdom-based B&Q chain of DIY retailers was weak in the fourth quarter, strong sales in France and Eastern Europe at the company’s Castorama branch helped float Europe’s largest home improvement company.

Kingfisher, parent of B&Q and Castorama, posted fourth-quarter sales of 2.18 billion British pounds (US$4.33 billion) up 4.8 percent from US$4.13 billion in the same period last year.

“Kingfisher’s international businesses, which account for more than half of group sales, continued to grow, with Castorama in France and Poland performing particularly strongly,” said Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher group chief executive. “Continuing this momentum will be our key international priority next year, along with addressing our performance in China.”

B&Q total sales were up just 0.2 percent in the quarter. The company revamped eight B&Q stores as part of a bid to restyle all of the country’s 324 stores. The retailer also launched new power tool, shelving and storage programs.

Sales at French Castorama stores rose 4.3 percent, with “continued penetration of [house brands] and strong sales.”

In the rest of Europe, sales rose 14.3 percent, “boosted by a strong end to the year in Poland.”

Asia sales were down 6.4 percent, “reflecting the continued impact of the slowdown of new apartment sales in the major Chinese markets and changing supplier regulations.”

Kingfisher operates Europe’s most well-known home improvement names, including B&Q, Castorama, Brico Depot and Screwfix.