The owner of the do-it-yourself (DIY) chains B&Q, Screwfix, Castorama and Brico Depot reported a 7.2% rise in sales to £12.3bn in the year to end-January 2021.
The UK led the improvement with revenues rising by 11%% with France 5% ahead. The group’s shops have been operating click and collect services during the latest lockdown.
Profits for the year rose by 44% on an underlying basis to £786mln while net debt reduced by more than £1bn to £1.4bn.
Thierry Garnier, chief executive, said: “Current trading remains positive and, while visibility is limited for the year as a whole, we are confident of continued outperformance of our wider markets.
“The COVID crisis has established new longer-term trends that are clearly supportive for our industry – including more working from home, the renewed importance of the home as a ‘hub’, and the development of a new generation of DIY’ers – and we expect these to endure.”
Garnier did caution that the strong sales during the first lockdown as people stocked up and in later restricted periods would mean sales growth would slow later in the year due to the tougher comparatives.
Management forecasts are for low double-digit sales growth in the first half of the year to January 2022 with a fall of 5% to 15% over the rest of the year.
As an indicator of the lockdown effect, Kingfisher said UK sales rose by 3.4% in the week to 18 March 2021 compared to 36% in the previous week due to the impact of the first lockdown.Group sales overall rose by 24%.
The dividend for the year is 8.25p made up of a 5.5p and a restored 2.75p interim payment.