B&Q owner Kingfisher has said a sales surge seen in lockdown has continued as restrictions have been eased.
The retail group posted a 16.6% rise in same-store sales for the third quarter to September 19 alongside a spike in half-year profits.
Kingfisher initially suffered in the Covid lockdown, voluntarily shutting all of its stores to install social distancing measures.
Then on reopening it saw huge demand as bored Britons focused on fixing up their homes and gardens while stuck at home. Huge queues greeted its stores reopening in late April, while online sales boomed over the summer as it ramped up its click and collect service.
The results for the six months to July 31 were better than City expectations. First-half sales of £5.92 billion were slightly ahead of forecasts of £5.90 billion but 1.3% down on sales for the prior half-year.
Adjusted pre-tax profits rose 23.1% on last year, at £415 million. City analysts had pencilled in adjusted pre-tax profits of £361 million, 7% up on the £337 million last year, while its UK same-store revenues are expected to have risen by 2.3%.
Chief executive Thierry Garnier said an improving trend in sales through the second quarter had continued across all of its markets in the third quarter.
The healthy trading has emboldened newish chief Garnier to step up his strategy to build up the digital arm of the retail group, which also includes Castorama in France.
He said: “The crisis has prompted more people to rediscover their homes and find pleasure in making them better. It is creating new home improvement needs, as people seek new ways to use space or adjust to working from home.
“It’s also clear that customers are becoming more comfortable with ordering online. And delivering value to consumers is imperative against a challenging economic backdrop.”
The shares hit their lowest level since 2009 but have rallied back somewhat since.