Kingfisher in 19pc profit surge

Warm weather and a drive to improve profit margins helped Kingfisher, Europe's biggest home improvement retailer, to post a 19 per cent rise in first-quarter profit, broadly in line with expectations.

The group, which runs market leader B&Q in Britain as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France and elsewhere, said on Thursday it made a retail profit of £174m in the 13 weeks to 30 April.

Sales at stores open over a year climbed 3.3 per cent, including increases of 1.5 per cent in UK/Ireland and 5.4 per cent in France, as demand for outdoor furniture and barbecues soared amid warm Spring weather.

Profit margins were boosted by Kingfisher's drive to buy more goods centrally and directly from cheaper manufacturing centres like Asia.