April showers dampen profits for Kingfisher

Kasmira Jefford
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KINGFISHER, Europe’s biggest home improvements chain, yesterday blamed miserable weather in April and a weakening euro, for a steep fall in first quarter profits.

“We anticipated the first quarter would be challenging, compared with last year’s strong growth which was boosted by favourable spring weather and public holidays,” chief executive Ian Cheshire said.

“But an extremely wet April this year in the UK and France compounded the difficulty, adversely impacting sales of outdoor and seasonal categories.”

The company, which owns about 950 stores across eight countries in Europe and Asia, said overall retail profits fell 8.6 per cent to £160m on like-for-like sales down five per cent to £2.6bn.

Britain & Ireland proved particularly weak, with like-for-like sales at B&Q tumbling 10.4 per cent in the three months to 28 April as the poor weather hit sales of seasonal goods like barbecues by 30 per cent.

Kingfisher, which also owns Screwfix in the UK, said a one-off £5m construction cost at B&Q dragged profits down by 10 per cent in the quarter.

The DIY group’s Castorama and Brico Depot chains in France performed better with like-for-like sales up 0.7 per cent but slowing on the previous quarter.

Shares closed up 1.85 per cent yesterday as analysts shrugged off the weather and remained confident over the group’s long term strategy.