Kingfisher says cold Easter fails to hatch profits

Kasmira Jefford
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KINGFISHER has blamed the delayed start to the summer and the unseasonably cold temperatures over Easter for a near 30 per cent drop in first quarter profit, after customers shunned home improvements.

The DIY retailer, which owns B&Q, Screwfix in the UK and Castorama in France, said the cold weather through March and early April put customers off home improvement projects, with UK sales of outdoor products down 10 per cent.

Total sales fell 0.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to 4 May and dropped by 4.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Group retail profits, a measure of continuing operating profit that strips out central costs, slumped by 28 per cent to £114m, falling short of analyst expectations of £137m.

The contraction of the housing and construction markets in France sparked a worse-than-expected like-for-like sales decline, down 5.6 per cent to £1.08bn.

Same-store sales also dropped by 4.7 per cent in the UK and Ireland, but rose 0.7 per cent across Kingfisher’s “other international” arm, driven by growth in China and Russia.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said while the weather scattered demand for outdoor, gardening and leisure products, the performance towards the end of the quarter was “encouraging” following a return to more normal weather patterns.

“Looking forward, we still have our key summer season to come and we are ready to capitalise on any improvement in conditions during this peak trading period,” Cheshire said.