While sales continued to surge across all divisions and quarterly turnover hit £3.5 billion at the end of October, up 17.4% on a like-for-like basis, the 200% run-up in the shares from their 100p low in March served to prove the old market adage that sometimes it’s better to travel than arrive.
On fundamentals, the business is much improved with a ‘strong performance across all retail banners and categories’, growth in overall footfall and higher average transaction values compared with the same three months last year.
Moreover, online sales leapt 153% taking the share of total sales to 17% compared with 8% in the same period last year.
B&Q was the stand-out performer, racking up a 24% increase in like-for-like sales with outdoor and weather-related products selling particularly well. Its new kitchen range was also a hit with customers and installation services are set to be rolled out to all UK stores by next January.
Screwfix like-for-likes also grew faster than the group average thanks to continued good demand from trade customers, and total sales were lifted by the opening of 17 new outlets in the UK during the quarter.
Pleasingly, the French business which comprises Castorama and Brico Depot racked up 19.2% growth in like-for-like sales, ahead of the French market for the second quarter in a row thanks to a more tailored local product range and a strong performance from own-brand goods.
The cherry on top of the results was the disposal of the Russian Castorama operations to local home improvement firm Maxidom for £73 million, of which 80% was received in cash in September and the remainder is due over two years.
Group like-for-like sales this month are currently tracking up 12% to 13%, with stronger growth in the UK despite a second national lockdown as its stores have been able to remain open.
If anything, online sales have accelerated compared with the exit rate at the end of October, although the firm is keeping its cards close to its chest regarding full year guidance, saying the temporary lockdown ‘continues to limit our visibility’.