Kingfisher in warning over tough times

KINGFISHER yesterday said that it had beaten its first half profit forecast – but the home improvement giant warned that consumer confidence would not be fully restored until at least 2012.

The B&Q owner made a pre-tax profit of £354m in the 26 weeks to 31 July, which it achieved through cost cutting rather than shifting more goods.

Sales in the UK have been flat while the company’s Castorama and Brico Depot chains in France have performed better, according to the company. But B&Q, which makes up just over 40 per cent of Kingfisher’s turnover, saw like-for-like sales fall 3.7 per cent to £2.3bn in the six months to the end of July.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said that things were not “catastrophically negative” in the UK but that things were “bumping along the bottom”.

He added: “In the UK the political uncertainty did not help. What happens now with people’s jobs is the most important thing for consumer confidence. “We expect 2011 to be difficult with things picking up in 2012. Our continued profit growth will come from our well-established self-help initiatives.”

Those measures include saving money by looking at the way the company sources its products. Customers will also feel the impact as Kingfisher expects to raises prices by an average of two per cent across its product ranges.