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Screwfix to open 80 new stores in the UK and Ireland

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Screwfix's new store openings will create 800 retail jobs across the UK and Ireland. Photo: Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images
Screwfix's new store openings will create 800 retail jobs across the UK and Ireland. Photo: Ian West/PA Images via Getty

Home improvement company Screwfix announced plans to expand its business across the UK and Ireland after a bump in sales due to the DIY rush during the pandemic.

The chain will open 80 new stores, pushing its business to 870 stores after it added 70 locations in 2021.

The move announced on Monday will see 800 new retail jobs created by January. The firm will be recruiting sales assistants and management roles for its new locations, including Swanley and Brackley.

Screwfix will give new recruits the chance to join its apprenticeship scheme, which currently trains 850 staff in areas such as retail management and human resources.

While Screwfix and B&Q owner Kingfisher (KGF.L) enjoyed profits of more than £1bn ($1.2bn) last year, as the DIY boom seen through the pandemic continued, Screwfix had reported a 4.2% drop in sales in the quarter to January amid higher cost pressures.

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In March, the company announced it was increasing minimum staff pay by 5.4% to £9.70 an hour, just above the new legal minimum wage of £9.50, effective from 1 April.

Shares in owner Kingfisher were down 1.6% to 251.2p in early trade on Monday in London.

"In opening more stores across the UK and Ireland, we’re making Screwfix even more accessible to tradespeople, ensuring they can get their job done quickly, affordably and right first time, said John Mewett, CEO of Screwfix. "We’re also delighted to be having a positive impact on local communities, creating more than 800 jobs for local people."

The announcement comes after analysts warn that the rising cost of living has put the brakes on retail sales in April as consumers reigned in spending on furniture, electricals and other homeware items.

Recent figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG show sales decreased by 0.3% last month, compared with an increase of 51.1% in April 2021.

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The BRC said UK retail sales growth went into reverse for the first time in 15 months since the pandemic impacted consumer spending as stores were forced to shut multiple times during lockdown.

"The rising cost of living has crushed consumer confidence and put the brakes on consumer spending," said Helen Dickinson OBE, CEO of the BRC.

"Sales growth has been slowing since January, though the real extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation."

Watch: How does inflation affect interest rates?

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