Britain's Kingfisher sees profit jump 21% on COVID boost

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General view of a B&Q DIY store, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Chiswick, London, Britain, April 23, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

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LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - British home improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF.L) reported record annual revenue and profit driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and said it had made an encouraging start to its new year despite heightened macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty.

The group, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in the United Kingdom and Castorama and Brico Depot in France and other markets, said on Tuesday it made an adjusted profit before tax of 949 million pounds ($1.25 billion) in the year to Jan. 31 - in line with analysts' forecasts and up 20.9% from the 786 million pounds made in 2020-21.

Total sales rose 6.8% to 13.2 billion pounds with more people rediscovering DIY (do-it-yourself) during the crisis as they spent more time at home, had fewer leisure options and travelled less.

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"While the macroeconomic and geopolitical environment is uncertain, you can expect from us continued focus on top line delivery and market share growth, strong execution, effective management of our gross margin, and active and responsive management of our operating costs," said CEO Thierry Garnier.

Like-for-like sales in the first quarter of the 2022-23 year so far to March 19 were down 8.1% year-on-year, but up 16% on a two year basis, with resilient demand across all markets supported by good stock availability.

The group is targeting net space growth of 1.5% in 2022-23 and said it was comfortable with the current analysts' consensus for adjusted pretax profit of 769 million pounds.

Kingfisher proposed a total dividend per share of 12.4 pence, up 50.3%.

($1 = 0.7618 pounds)

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Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton, Kirsten Donovan

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