Kingfisher dives into DIY battle: B&Q discounts herald round two of the Easter price wars

KINGFISHER will today fire the opening shots in a new home improvements price battle when its B&Q chain cuts prices by an average of more than 10 per cent on 500 core lines. The discounts come just ahead of the pounds 6bn industry's crucial Easter trading period.

Texas Homecare and Do It All, the industry's number two and three, said they would shortly launch promotions of their own, raising the spectre of the price war that savaged DIY profits last spring.

Peter Hartley, the managing director of Ladbroke Group's Texas, which is normally the first to announce Easter price promotions, said yesterday: 'Watch this space.'

Shares of Boots and W H Smith, joint owners of the loss-making Do It All chain, fell on the news. Earlier this month DIA launched its Bonus Card, offering discount vouchers to higher-spending customers.

B&Q began television advertising last night, while a press campaign starts today, listing the discounts on a range of paint, decorating tools and materials, garden implements and other items for the summer.

Sir Geoff Mulcahy, the chairman of Kingfisher, said the lower prices were not just for Easter, but an extension of the everyday low prices strategy: 'We intend to bring prices down and keep them down.'

Kingfisher is also accelerating the opening of its larger Depot stores, which are producing strong sales growth. It now expects to exceed its 1993/4 target of 10 openings.

The group yesterday reported a decline in pre-tax profits from pounds 227.7m to pounds 210.9m in the year to 30 January. Before net exceptional costs of pounds 23.5m, profits were just pounds 1.4m above the pounds 233m forecast when it announced it was buying Darty, the French electrical appliance retailer. A final dividend of 9.5p makes a total of 13.7p, up 5 per cent. It wrote off pounds 26.4m on property development, taken as an exceptional charge. The pounds 600m property portfolio was devalued by just under 5 per cent.

Sir Geoff was cautious in his outlook. 'There are a few tentative signs that shoppers are slowly emerging from their long hibernation but they are doing so extremely warily,' he said.

Operating profits at B&Q fell from pounds 90.3m to pounds 81.1m, hit by the fierce price competition. But it gained market share in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

The Woolworth contribution grew from pounds 71.4m to pounds 77.8m, boosted by massive sales gains in computer games and kitchen products. Like B&Q, Woolworth is planning an aggressive price promotion, supported by its biggest television advertising campaign.

Comet, the electrical chain, more than doubled operating profits to pounds 17.7m following the restructuring that has left it almost entirely in out- of-town stores. Superdrug profits were unchanged.

Under the FRS3 accounting rules, pre-tax profits grew from pounds 195.7m to pounds 204.8m after prior-year costs were lifted above the line.

Kingfisher expects the Darty deal to be completed in early June.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) - Hertfordshire/Middlesex

£300 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) Watford...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style