Kingfisher hit by UK slowdown

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The Independent Online

Kingfisher blamed weak consumer demand for slowing sales growth at its B&Q do-it-yourself chain yesterday.

Kingfisher blamed weak consumer demand for slowing sales growth at its B&Q do-it-yourself chain yesterday.

Analysts trimmed their pre-tax profit forecasts to reflect the UK slowdown, which came despite a profit boost from the improvement in the group's global purchasing initiatives. Castorama, its core French DIY business, was also hit by sharply slower sales. Kingfisher's shares slipped 2 per cent to 300.5p.

Gerry Murphy, the company's chief executive, said the third quarter had been "tougher" in the UK and France as competitors sharpened their pricing and stepped up their promotional activity. "Our ability to ride through these tougher trading conditions is strong," he added.

B&Q's like-for-like sales grew by 1.3 per cent in the three months to the end of October, down from 3 per cent in the first half. At Castorama, underlying sales growth of 5.3 per cent in the first half vanished, with like-for-like sales edging just 0.3 per cent higher.

Group retail profit rose 6.7 per cent to £190m during the quarter, while total group sales were 8.2 per cent higher at £1.94bn. Underlying group sales rose 2.6 per cent, boosted by a strong performance from Kingfisher's other French business, Brico Depot, which posted a 25.1 per cent gain in underlying sales. Retail profit more than doubled to £1.8m in China.

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