Britain's Screwfix to add 50 stores and 600 jobs

FILE PHOTO: Signs outside the B&Q and Screwfix stores in Loughborough, Britain March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The Screwfix unit of British home improvement retailer Kingfisher plans to open more than 50 new stores in the UK and Ireland this year, creating 600 jobs, it said on Monday.

Screwfix, which is aimed at the trade market, also said it has increased its UK and Ireland store target to over 900 from a previous target of 800.

It currently trades from 711 stores in the UK and 12 in Ireland, employing 11,643.

Screwfix has prospered during the pandemic, reaching annual sales of 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) for the first time.

Growth has been driven by its focus on e-commerce, with its stores used to fulfil Click & Collect deliveries which have surged during the crisis.

Kingfisher’s other home improvement retail businesses, B&Q, in Britain and Castorama and Brico Depot in France, have also performed well, with many people rediscovering do-it-yourself (DIY) as they spend more time at home, have fewer leisure options and travel less.

Shares in Kingfisher were up 2.6% at 1212 GMT, extending 2021 gains to 13.9%.

($1 = 0.7189 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey, editing by Louise Heavens