When you first start Kicad’s PCB editor pcbnew and read a netlist, all of the components are piled up in one place. I wrote a script that takes the schematic and pcb files and moves the footprints to match their placement in the schematic. This is a nicer starting point to route your PCB. To run it, just download the script and drag your project into the script icon (more detailed instructions in the link above).
You do need to open pcbnew and read the netlist in order to generate the initial .kicad-pcb file.