Kingfisher hopes efficiency savings will recover ground

 
City A.M. Reporter
KINGFISHER is looking to further efficiency savings to offset a worse than expected sales fall and allow it to meet full-year profit forecasts.

The group, which owns B&Q in the UK as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France, has been hit along with other European retailers by a weak demand for “big ticket” items like kitchens, which are particularly vulnerable to fragile consumer confidence.

Yet the company said yesterday it is offsetting weak demand with a drive to improve profitability by buying more goods directly from cheaper manufacturing centres such as China.

Kingfisher said fourth quarter like-for-like sales fell 3.4 per cent, worse than the 2.8 per cent fall seen in the third quarter.

But it expects underlying pre-tax profit for the year to

2 February to be in line with the consensus forecast of £715m.

B&Q’s like-for-like sales fell

6.4 per cent, reflecting the weak consumer backdrop – particularly in Ireland, where stores were placed into a form of bankruptcy protection.

In France like-for-like sales fell 0.4 per cent at Castorama and 4.6 per cent at Brico Depot.