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B&Q targets south of Dublin

DIY retailer B&Q is considering locations for a new Irish store despite the recession, and sees affluent and residential South County Dublin as ideal expansion territory. B&Q Ireland employs 750 staff at nine stores.

Kevin O'Byrne, group finance director of B&Q's owner Kingfisher, announced the company's expansion plans for Ireland, after the group announced half year results to the end of July.

"In Dublin, we have stores in Swords, Tallaght and Liffey Valley, but not the presence we would like in south Dublin.

"There is a huge population there, so the issue is finding an available unit. Pre-crash prices were crazy, but we are now open to expanding if we can find the right size retail unit," O'Bryne told the Irish Independent.

London-listed Kingfisher has a market capitalisation of more than £5bn (€6m). Financial results for the first part of the year showed like-for-like sales down 1.3pc globally and sales in the UK and Ireland down 2.9pc.

Despite the fall in revenue, profits across the group were up 15pc at £402m for the first six months of the year globally.

Profits for the UK and Ireland were up by the same percentage, and despite the housing downturn, B&Q's Irish stores were profitable on a stand-alone basis for the period.

Commenting in the figures, O'Byrne said: "In spite of the tough environment, profits are up and revenues flat.

"That has been achieved by 'self-help' measures including going direct to manufacturers to source products and improvements in housekeeping, including better stock management."

Kingfisher is the market leader in France and the UK and Ireland. It also operates in Poland, Russian and Turkey and is expanding into Spain.

A push into China is proving more challenging -- last year the China business lost £12m and the company has closed seven of its China stores.

Closer to home, the effort to drive profits off lower volumes has included cutting down on promotions like B&Q's "15pc off across the store" sales.

Source : Donal O'Donovan - Irish Independent

17 September 2010
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