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Work from home insulates Kingfisher from High St gloom

Cool comfort: Kingfisher, owner of B&Q, said sales of attic insulation rolls more than doubled in the three months to November compared to the same period a year earlier

WFH isolates Kingfisher from the gloom of High St as customers splash out to keep their workspaces warm

Kingfisher has been spurred on by hordes of office-shy customers splashing insulation to keep their home workstations warm.

The owner of B&Q said sales of attic insulation rolls more than doubled in the three months to November compared to the same period a year earlier.

It came as the work from home (WFH) trend continued despite lockdowns being lifted and the government encouraging staff to return to their desks.

Those avoiding a return are rushing to improve the energy efficiency of their homes to offset rising gas and electric bills.

Sales of smart room thermostats, thermostatic radiator valves and central heating controls also increased. It has also been boosted by demand for products that can reduce bills.

Rival Wickes said in September he had also been boosted by the boom in sales of insulation products. Kingfisher boss Thierry Garnier said: “Although the market environment remains difficult, DIY sales continue to be supported by new trends in the sector, such as the increase in working hours and a marked increase customer investments in energy savings and efficiency.”

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The group, which also owns Screwfix, increased overall sales in the quarter by 1.7% to £3.3 billion.

But rising payrolls and energy costs will squeeze profits, and it lowered its profit forecast for the year to £760m from £770m. The shares slid 1.6%, or 4.1p, to 249.5p, and are down 28% this year.

Its stock soared during lockdowns as people renovated homes and converted spare rooms into offices, with Kingfisher becoming the third UK retailer to hit £1billion in annual profits.

But as demand normalizes, a slowing housing market and soaring cost of living threaten to put further pressure on sales.

Kingfisher said it has seen “good momentum” since late October, with sales ahead 2.8% over the same period last year.

Garnier said: “While we remain vigilant in the face of macro-economic uncertainty, we remain confident in the resilience of our industry and our continued growth ahead of our markets.”

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AJ Bell director Russ Mold said: “The retailer has shown impressive resilience.

The need to ensure homes are energy efficient and to save on sky-high heating bills is another driver of activity that may persist.

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