Kingfisher to boost its UK headcount

KINGFISHER said yesterday it will create 1,200 new jobs across the UK as its B&Q and Screwfix stores buck the retail gloom.

The DIY retailer was boosted by a strong performance in France, where retail profits rose 24 per cent to £201m in the six months to the end of July.

In the UK and Ireland profits rose six per cent to £182m.

The company said it would also create 230 jobs to run the 29 former Focus stores it has bought, as it targets growth amid the tough market.

Overall, adjusted pre-tax profit rose 24 per cent to £439m while sales rose 3.8 per cent to £5.6bn.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said that the size of Kingfisher had helped it to weather the bleak consumer climate better than smaller rivals in the UK, where government austerity measures have taken their toll on household budgets.

“When there is less oxygen around they suffer more,” he said.

The company has set a target of having half its product range common to all countries in a bid to save costs.

Meanwhile it will spend £30m a year on a team in France that will come up with “top secret” products to launch on the market.

But Cheshire urged caution, adding: “The economic situation is uncertain.”

The market took well to the results figures, and Kingfisher closed up 4.8 per cent yesterday.