Sainsbury’s plans to axe 55 stores and up to 70 Argos closures

Although Sainsbury’s plc

reported a general outlook of growth in its second quarter trading update, with a 0.1% increase in retail sales and an improved 0.2% fall in like-for- like sales over the 12 weeks to 21 September, the update was offset by the announcement that the group aims to close 60-70 Argos stores in a cost cutting scheme, but plans to open 80 more.

All but general merchandise

saw an increase, where it fell by 2.0% and underlying profit before tax is expected to fall by £50m this year due to cost savings,

“unseasonal weather”

and the effects of a strong period last year. But it is on track to deliver on expectations for the financial year.

Having faced a statutory loss of £34m last year, the group said it is looking to close around 30 to 40 local stores but open around 110, resulting in a large

net gain. But meanwhile larger supermarket stores are expected to suffer, with around 10 set to open, but up to 15 penned for closure, the company said. Commenting

on second

quarter trading, Mike Coupe, chief executive officer, said: “Sales momentum was stronger in all areas and we further improved our performance relative to our competitors, particularly in Grocery. We have focused on reducing price on every day food

B&Q sales slide, as Screwfix decision to exit German market costs millions

In the UK and Ireland, B&Q total sales dropped 3.3% to £1,773million in H1, impacted by the axing of installation services and declines across showroom and weather- related categories. Meanwhile, the closure of all 19 Screwfix outlets in Germany contributed towards an exceptional charge of £68million Kingfisher reported a number of exceptional items for the half year ended July 31, including a £68million restructuring charge

relating to redundancy costs following the group’s plans to close 11 stores in France and 19 Screwfix Germany outlets. Speaking to DIY Week last October, Screwfix operations and

Online retail slumps in August

Internet sales continued on a downward trend last month, failing to receive a boost from the late summer sunshine and Bank Holiday weekend, with transactions in home and garden reportedly down by 6.9%. After

online sales slumped

to their lowest-ever July growth last month, retailers saw little reprieve in August with year- on-year growth of just 3%. This is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. Although it is typical for sales to slow at the end of summer, August’s result falls well below the five-year average of +9.6%, as well as the three-

month, six-month, and 12-month rolling averages (respectively +5.3%, +3.8%, +5.7%). Unfortunately, the picture was not so positive for most categories. Both electricals and gifts continued their extended runs

of negative growth

(recording results of -22.5% and -30.3% this month), which started at the beginning of the year for electricals, and as far back as last September for gifts. Meanwhile, home and garden was also down by nearly 7%. IMRG strategy and insight

director Andy Mulcahy said: “Growth for online sales in 2019 has been below expectation this year, but there was some hope that it would balance out as 2018 was a year of two distinct halves.”

The August Bank holiday

weekend gave sales at garden centres across the country a welcome boost at the end of the month, according to new figures from the GCA, with

houseplants up in

double figures. The Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade report for August revealed that sales of houseplant jumped 20.69% compared with the same month last year, whilst outdoor plant sales were up 6.09%. St

Peter’s Garden Centre

director Will Blake commented: “August has been an excellent

month for us! The weather was perfect really, warm, but not too hot, and occasional showers to help with watering.

“Horticultural categories really benefitted from these conditions, with plant sales, sundries, and other related departments all

seeing strong growth.

addition, the pleasant weather drove great numbers on furniture and barbecues.

“Houseplants continue to be extremely popular, which is lovely to see. We refitted our houseplant department in June and this seems to have encouraged even more shoppers.”

property director Scott Parsons said of German operations: “It is not on our agenda to do anything progressive with that at the moment. We’re reviewing where we’re at with the German market. At the moment, we have 19 stores in Germany and they are doing ok.” The retailer described financial performance in the half as “mixed”. Screwfix, Poland and Romania delivered like- for-like sales growth for the period. However, sales at B&Q

and grocery products and expanding our range of value brands, which have been very popular with

customers. At the same time, we are investing significantly in our supermarkets, driving consistent improvements to service and availability. “Argos continued to grow market share in key categories, but sales were

and Castorama France, were disappointing, with the retail group attributing declines to “a weak consumer backdrop in the UK and disruption caused by new range implementation”, alongside ongoing


issues at Castorama France. B&Q like-for-like (LFL) sales declined by 3.2% in H1. The discontinuation

of installation

services had a negative impact of around -2%, said the retailer. The ongoing implementation of the new surfaces & décor ranges also had an effect, whilst LFL sales of weather-related categories decreased by 2.9% and sales of non-weather-related categories, including showroom, were down 3.4%.

Houseplants continue upward sales trend in August

impacted by reduced promotional activity and the timing of new product releases in gaming and toys. Clothing sales were boosted by clearance activity and strong online growth and Tu continued to grow market share.”

in year one The independent garden centre group is celebrating what


describes as “a fantastic first year of trading” at its Aldermaston site after turning over more than £6million since its opening last September. The Rosebourne business – headed up by garden industry veterans

John Kitching and

Neville Prest – puts catering at the heart of its centres, with restaurant and food hall accounting for a combined total of 50% of turnover. Rosebourne operates two

garden centres in the UK - in Weyhill,

Hampshire and

Aldermaston, Berkshire – also acquiring a former Wyevale site in Hampton in Arden at the end of 2018. At the time, the company announced plans to run the site as a standalone centre before looking at potential of

incorporating Rosebourne family. In

The Aldermaston centre employees 80 staff and incorporates a food hall, butcher and restaurant with table service alongside its garden and gift offer. It is based on a similar model to Rosebourne’s first site in Weyhill, which boasts a £1.9million turnover for the restaurant alone. On the approach to its one- year anniversary, Rosebourne in Aldermaston will be celebrating its milestone £6million-plus turnover by hosting a birthday party for the public on Sunday, October 6. Executive director Jon Kitching said: “We’ve enjoyed a very successful first year at Aldermaston, customers tell us how much they love our food offering and the fact we’re a little different to the norm. Our garden furniture and plants are also proving popular.”

27 SEPTEMBER 2019 DIY WEEK 5 it into the

Rosebourne Aldermaston surpasses £6 million turnover

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