Kingfisher weathers storm as sales increase overseas

DIY RETAIL group Kingfisher said yesterday that sales in eastern Europe and France helped to bolster its business accounting for some 80 per cent of profits in the third quarter.

The group said in a trading statement, total sales were broadly flat but that good international growth offset a fall in the UK where sales were down 4.2 per cent in the quarter and where it said it was facing the toughest trading conditions in around three and half years. But this was offset by sales in France, which saw 1.8 per cent growth, Poland and a recovery in sales in China.

Kingfisher said the 8.2 per cent rise in retail profit to £240m was also driven by continued cost cutting measures across the group. The company’s net cash balance saw a significant improvement at £203m, up from £19m at the end of the previous quarter. Ian Cheshire, group chief executive, said the UK?DIY market was likely to shrink by two to three per cent next year as consumers worry about higher taxes and public spending cuts. But he added: “We are well prepared to trade effectively in these challenging times and we continue to lay solid foundations for sales and profit growth in the future.”