Screwfix has announced plans to open 50 stores in the UK and Ireland creating 600 new jobs.

The trade-focused retailer, part of the FTSE 100-listed Kingfisher group, said the roles – in areas such as retail management, service assistants and supervisors – would be started by January next year.

Screwfix added that it was stepping up its overall expansion plans after identifying “further opportunities for stores in inner cities and rural catchment areas”.

The company said 40 of the new stores would be in the UK, creating up to 500 jobs, with ten in Ireland, creating 100 jobs.

“The new stores will bring Screwfix even closer to its busy tradespeople, many of whom have played a crucial role in keeping homes warm, safe and with power throughout the pandemic,” it said.

It said that a major part of Screwfix’s growth has been its focus on e-commerce “using its stores as fulfilment centres for click-and-collect deliveries which have surged during the pandemic”.

The announcement came as the business said it was now aiming to increase its total number of outlets in the UK and Ireland to more than 900, up from a previous target of 800.

Screwfix currently has 711 stores in the UK and 12 in Ireland, employing a total of more than 11,600 people.

Kingfisher revealed earlier this year that the brand was on course to reach £2bn in total annual sales.

The group, whose brands also include B&Q as well as European retailers such as Castorama, reports annual results next week.

Kingfisher has enjoyed strong sales during the pandemic with its outlets, classed as essential retailers, allowed to remain open for in-store shopping as well as click-and-collect.

It said in December that it was handing £130m in business rates relief back to the Treasury, having already returned £23m granted under the furlough scheme.

The new jobs announced on Monday are in addition to the 3,500 extra roles that Kingfisher took on last year thanks to surging sales.

It comes as a survey reveals British business confidence is at its highest since June 2015, due to the success of the vaccine programme and hopes for the reopening of the economy.

(c) Sky News 2021: Screwfix to create 600 UK and Ireland jobs as it ramps up expansion plans

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