THE owner of Hampshire-based DIY giant B&Q has revealed that online sales more than tripled during the lockdown.

Kingfisher said group online sales rocketed more than 200 per cent in May and June amid the trend for home improvements, as lockdowns across Europe forced households to stay at home.

The group, which owns Chandlers Ford-headquartered B&Q as well as Screwfix, said trading was also boosted by cost-cutting and the phased reopening of stores in the UK and France since mid-April.

Like-for-like sales across the group had risen 21.6 per cent in the second quarter so far, as of July 18.

In the UK and Ireland, like-for-like sales rose 25.9 per cent last month.

Sales have continued to remain strong in July, with UK and Ireland like-for-like growth of 19.6 per cent in the week to July 18 and group online growth of 183.3 per cent.

Kingfisher said: “Based on the strong sales seen to date in the second quarter, combined with cost reductions benefiting the first half, the company anticipates its half-year adjusted pre-tax profit to be ahead of prior year.”

But it held off from giving guidance on the full year, with “same store” sales still showing the impact of the lockdown, down 3.7 per cent.

It added: “While we are entering the second half with a favourable trading backdrop, second-half visibility remains low given uncertainty around Covid-19 and the wider economic outlook.”

Earlier this year, Kingfisher revealed that pre-tax profits fell to £103million for the year ending January 31, compared with £300m, mainly due to a £441m hit in exceptional costs, though sales fell 1.5 per cent to £11.5billion.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “It’s been a long time since Kingfisher delivered some good news.

“Unsurprisingly trading has been very strong in the second quarter as households spend lockdown doing up their homes.

“This is the tailwind Kingfisher has desperately needed to get back on its feet after such a long period of struggling.”

B&Q reveals plunge in sales

In results published earlier this year, B&Q revealed that sales fell 21.8 per cent in the quarter that ended on April 30, although they rose 18.9 per cent in the first week of May as stores reopened.