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Monday, December 5, 2022

Work from home insulates Kingfisher from High St gloom

WFH insulates Kingfisher from High St gloom as customers splash out to keep their workspaces warm

Kingfisher has been boosted by hordes of office-shy customers splashing out on insulation to keep their at-home workstations warm.

The owner of B&Q said sales of loft insulation rolls more than doubled in the three months to November compared with the same period a year earlier.

It came as the work from home trend (WFH) continued despite lockdowns lifting and the Government encouraging staff to get back to their desks. 

Cold comfort: B&Q-owner Kingfisher said sales of loft insulation rolls more than doubled in the three months to November compared with the same period a year earlier

Those shunning a return are racing to boost their homes’ energy efficiency to offset rising gas and electricity bills.

Sales of smart room thermostats, thermostatic radiator valves and central heating controls also rose. It has also been boosted by demand for products that can cut bills.

Rival Wickes said in September it was also boosted by booming sales of insulation products. Kingfisher boss Thierry Garnier said: ‘While the market backdrop remains challenging, DIY sales continue to be supported by new industry trends such as more WFH and a clear step-up in customer investment in energy saving and efficiency.’

The group, which also owns Screwfix, boosted overall sales in the quarter by 1.7 per cent to £3.3billion. 

But rising wage bills and energy costs will eat into profit, and it downgraded its profit forecast for the year to £760million, from £770million. Shares slipped 1.6 per cent, or 4.1p, to 249.5p, and are down 28 per cent this year.

Its stock soared during lockdowns as people took on home improvements and converted spare rooms to offices, with Kingfisher becoming the UK’s third retailer to reach £1billion in annual profits.

But as demand normalised, a slowdown in the housing market and the spiralling cost of living are threatening to pile further pressure on sales.

Kingfisher said it has seen ‘good momentum’ since the end of October, with sales 2.8 per cent ahead of the same period last year. 

Garnier said: ‘While we continue to be vigilant against macro-economic uncertainty, we remain confident in the resilience of our industry and in continuing to grow ahead of our markets.’

AJ Bell director Russ Mould said: ‘The retailer did demonstrate some impressive resilience. 

The need to ensure homes are energy efficient and to save on exorbitant heating bills is another driver of business which could persist.’

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