More rainfall, less footfall for B&Q and Thorntons

The downpours that have plagued us BBQ-hungry Brits all summer long have taken their toll on DIY and chocolate.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The lack of opportunity to get some sausages on the barbie this summer has been frustrating, but for B&Q’s owner Kingfisher, it has seriously hurt the wallet too. In a statement released today, the group revealed that profits in the 26 weeks to the end of July were £70m less than the same period the previous year, down to £403m. That’s a drop of 14.7% (ouch). Total sales fell 3.3% from £5.65bn to £5.48bn, too. The company is blaming the tumbles largely on reduced demand for gardening and outdoor maintenance products, which makes sense: the folks at MT certainly haven’t rushed out and bought a gazebo. 

But Kingfisher is not doing badly by any means – nigh on half a billion pounds in profit is pretty good going given the backdrop of a double-dip recession. The firm’s CEO, Ian Cheshire, said: ‘Whilst we were unable to offset fully the adverse weather impacts, our efforts meant we exited the first half in as good shape as possible and with net cash on the balance sheet.’ Fair play, Ian, we’d agree that for once, it is probably reasonable to blame the weather…

On the flip side, chocolate vendor Thorntons is still having a financial nightmare. Similarly hit by rainy weather (but also by the public’s tightened purse strings), the chain continues to suffer losses. The company today announced pre-tax losses of £2.2m in the 53 weeks to June, significantly worse than the £1m loss the year before. Overall retail sales, including the internet and its franchised stores, fell 5.2% to £132.1m compared with the previous year. Stinger.

But actually, this is not as bad as it sounds. The fall was expected because of a programme of money-saving store closures – it has reduced its total number of outlets from 366 to 330 during the period, and has still managed to increase market share by 0.1% to 7.8%. Another silver lining is sales growth within supermarkets, which totalled £85m, almost 8% more than the previous year. So not all bad, but a pretty long way to go to turn back the tide of financial woes…

And sadly, we’re on the brink of autumn. This reporter noticed that the heaters were blowing on the train in this morning. Looks like there will be no Indian summer for those sales figures to recover…

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