B&Q owner Kingfisher reports rise in profits

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The Independent Online

B&Q owner Kingfisher said measures to help its UK and Ireland business were paying off after it reported a 35 per cent rise in half-year profits today.

The group has revamped stores and launched product and service initiatives such as self-service check-outs in a bid to weather tough conditions.

B&Q's profits in the UK and Ireland grew 66 per cent to £137m, while group pre-tax profits rose to £288m in the six months to 1 August.

In the UK, favourable weather boosted sales of outdoor products towards the start of the trading period, while renewed consumer interest in home and DIY improvements offset the impacts of the recession and weak housing market.

Kitchen, bathroom and bedroom sales were up by around 4 per cent, helped by new ranges and the collapse of competitors such as MFI.

Kingfisher said profits in the UK were also helped by supply chain efficiencies and a reduction in mark-down activity compared with last year.

Other initiatives to boost performance have included the introduction of monthly store team bonuses, linked to sales and store profit.

B&Q has 119 large format stores - of which 65 have been modernised - and 211 medium-sized stores.

Kingfisher's Screwfix trade business reported a £3m fall in profits to £11m after sales declined nearly 6 per cent to £236m.

In total, the company has 820 stores in eight countries in Europe and Asia. It is the world's third largest home improvement retail group.

French sales and retail profits were flat in a weaker environment, while other international profits lifted 26.5 per cent as a result of continued strong growth in Poland, stabilised losses in China and resilient trading in Russia.

Kingfisher shares rose 2 per cent today, despite some of the figures being released to the market last week.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said: "A number of factors seem to have come together in propelling this fine performance.

"Seasonally good weather, the removal of competition such as MFI, a close eye on cost and stock control and the revamping of its offerings have all contributed."