The owner of B&Q has cashed in on a DIY boom as millions of people stuck at home tried to improve their living conditions.

Kingfisher said it had seen pre-tax profits balloon 634% from £103 million to £756 million in the 12 months to the end of January.

A B&Q store
Kingfisher’s online sales jumped by around 160% last year (Joe Giddens/PA)

Sales increased by 7.2% during the same period to £12.3 billion, the company revealed on Monday.

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Growth was driven by a boom in online sales, which were up by 158%.

E-commerce was already a growing segment for the business, which also owns Screwfix, as it rose 8% in the year ending January 2020. However, the explosive growth during lockdown came as people tried to do up the homes they were confined to.

Chief executive Thierry Garnier said: “Kingfisher is coming out of the Covid crisis as a stronger business, with an improved competitive position in all key markets, strong new customer growth and a step change in digital adoption.

“I would like to express my personal thanks to all our teams for their incredible efforts in the most testing of circumstances.”

The company said it had seen a strong start to this financial year amid high demand in the UK and France, which are both going through lockdowns.

Since the end of January life-for-like sales have risen more than 24% compared with the same period in 2020.

Mr Garnier said: “Current trading remains positive and, while visibility is limited for the year as a whole, we are confident of continued outperformance of our wider markets.

“The Covid crisis has established new longer-term trends that are clearly supportive for our industry – including more working from home, the renewed importance of the home as a ‘hub’, and the development of a new generation of DIYers – and we expect these to endure.

“With our strategic progress, we are well positioned to capitalise on these new and positive market trends.”