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Kingfisher profit up after cost savings

B&Q owner Kingfisher – Europe's biggest home improvements retailer – posted a 15 per cent rise in first-quarter profit as cost savings and reduced losses in China offset a fall in underlying sales due to poor spring weather.

The group, which runs Castorama and Brico Depot in France, made a retail profit of £146m in the 13 weeks to 1 May.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.8 per cent, with a 2.8 per cent decline in the UK and Ireland mitigated by a 0.2 percent rise in France

However, profit margins benefited from the group's business improvement plans, which include buying more products centrally and directly from cheaper manufacturing centres like Asia.

"The headwinds we anticipated at the start of the year look set to continue, but we are in good shape and well prepared," said Chief Executive Ian Cheshire.

Shares in Kingfisher, which runs over 830 stores in eight countries, have performed in line with the STOXX Europe 600 retail index over the past year. The firm is valued at about £5.3bn.