MARKET REPORT: Kingfisher cashes in on the lockdown DIY craze

MARKET REPORT: B&Q owner Kingfisher enjoys a 44% profits rise as 18 to 34-year-olds join in the lockdown DIY craze

The DIY craze that began during the first lockdown turbo-charged sales at B&Q-owner Kingfisher.

The company, which also owns Screwfix, posted a 44 per cent rise in profits to £786million as Britons stuck at home turned their energies to tinkering, tending to their gardens and setting up proper home offices.

Kingfisher boss Thierry Garnier said one of the most encouraging trends had been the emergence of a new generation of ‘young DIY-ers’ – as 18 to 34-year-olds did more home improvements than any other age group and around a fifth of those were doing it for the first time.

DIY boom: B&Q owner Kingfisher posted a 44 per cent rise in profits to £786million as Britons stuck at home turned their energies to home and garden improvements

DIY boom: B&Q owner Kingfisher posted a 44 per cent rise in profits to £786million as Britons stuck at home turned their energies to home and garden improvements

This bodes well, he said, for the industry in future, and people are now stocking up on plant and vegetable seeds and compost kits as we head into spring.

Like-for-like sales, which does not include revenue from new stores that have opened, rose by 7 per cent to £12.3billion and were particularly strong in the UK.

This was aided by the classification of its hardware stores – with the exception of a few weeks during the first lockdown – being classed as an essential retailer in the UK and able to keep trading.

It has around 1,380 stores in the UK and Ireland. But online sales also surged, rising 158 per cent, and click-and-collect orders by 226 per cent.

Stock Watch – Quarto Group 

Strict cost-cutting during the pandemic helped profits at illustrated book publisher Quarto Group surge even though sales took a dip from the mass closures of High Street bookshops.

Profits jumped to £4.8million last year, up from £2.75million in 2019, and debts shrank by almost two thirds. 

Modern Sourdough – which was a best-seller in the US as people turned to bread baking during lockdown – was among its top-performing titles. 

Shares rose 17.8 per cent, or 12p, to 79.5p.  

Last year was a ‘perfect storm’, as Interactive Investor’s head of markets Richard Hunter put it.

But he cautioned that in some ways the hard work is only just beginning, as the sales boom is unlikely to be repeated.

Kingfisher was one of the top risers on the FTSE 100, climbing 3.6 per cent, or 11.3p, to 324p.

Astrazeneca was also high on the Footsie leaderboard, rising 3.3 per cent, or 234p, to 7344p after the results of a long-awaited US study. 

Researchers found the company’s Covid vaccine is 79 per cent effective at stopping the disease and 100 per cent effective at preventing serious illness or hospitalisation.

The confirmation that its jab both works and is safe comes as confidence in the treatment has been knocked in Europe after some countries paused their rollouts because of health concerns about blood clotting.

The US study of 32,000 volunteers in the Americas did not find any blood clot issues.

Another pharmaceuticals group, Futura Medical, also got good news from across the pond.

Its stock soared 47 per cent, or 21.6p, to 67.6p after the AIM-listed company struck an agreement with regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration on the protocol for a trial of its gel that treats erectile dysfunction.

It was the second session in a row of huge gains. Futura almost tripled in value on Friday after European regulators recommended the gel be approved to be sold as an over-the-counter treatment. 

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust shares rebounded 4.5 per cent, or 50p, to 1165p after a sell-off last week when its star fund manager James Anderson announced he was quitting. 

SMIT’s rise helped nudge the FTSE 100 up 0.3 per cent, or 17.4 points, to 6726.1, while the FTSE 250 also rose, by 0.2 per cent, or 35.58 points, to 21455.89.

Egypt-focused gold miner Centamin reaped the benefits of high gold prices in 2020, posting an 82 per cent rise in profits to £230million.

This came even as the company – whose shares dipped 0.4 per cent, or 0.45p, to 104.35p – produced less gold than in 2019 and booked higher costs per ounce.

MGC Pharmaceuticals – a cannabis company that recently joined the London Stock Exchange – remained virtually flat at 4p, despite being granted approval to run a late-stage drug trial in Israel on patients with Covid. 

The study will test its Cimetra treatment, which is administered through a spray and alleviates inflammation brought on by viral infections.


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