Strong DIY sales get Kingfisher off to flying start

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The Independent Online

Retail Group Kingfisher, which owns B&Q, delivered an upbeat first quarter trading statement yesterday saying it was on track to demerge its electricals division later this summer.

The figures contrasted sharply with grim news from Matalan which saw its shares fall 13 per cent, blaming the fall in underlying sales on disappointing spring-summer ranges.

While Kingfisher's first quarter figures showed a 34 per cent increase in retail profit to £154m - with the DIY business making up for a disappointing performance in the soon-to-be demerged electricals operation - Matalan shares fell 14 to 177p after the company said like for like sales in the 13 weeks to May were 7.5 per cent lower than the same period last year.

Matalan, which ousted Paul Mason as chief executive earlier this year, said it was focussing on the buying mistakes and hoped to have better ranges in store in time for the autumn-winter season.

Kingfisher's statement came as its remuneration policy was criticised by some shareholders at the annual shareholders' meeting yesterday, though all the key resolutions were passed.

One shareholder described former chief executive Sir Geoff Mulcahy's £15.2m pension pot as "quite an astonishing figure" but the remuneration report was approved by 94.1 per cent while the new incentive scheme got 88.72 per cent approval.

Kingfisher group like for like sales in the 13 weeks to 3 May were up by 4.1 per cent on last year with B&Q again the star performer.

Castorama, the French home improvement business which was bought last year, saw a 2.1 per cent increase in like for like sales.

Kingfisher shares ended the day up 2.5p at 269.5p.