Mild autumn boosts profit at Kingfisher

Kasmira Jefford
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KINGFISHER posted better-than-expected third quarter profits yesterday, after the unseasonally mild autumn weather helped boost sales at the retailer’s stores in the UK and France.

Europe’s biggest DIY company, which runs over 800 stores across the continent, posted a 13.9 per cent rise in operating profit to £273m in the the 13 weeks to 29 October, beating analyst consensus of around £263m.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire said unusual spending patterns due to the mild weather meant its B&Q chain sold as many barbeques in September as it did in June, with a 68 per cent rise in garden furniture sales.

Operating profits in Britain grew almost 22 per cent to £56m, helped by the acquisition of 27 former Focus DIY stores from liquidators in a £23m deal in May.

Like-for-like sales were down 0.9 per cent, an improvement from the 1.8 per cent fall in the first half, as challenging conditions continued to strain consumer spending on DIY.

Cheshire said the group’s French businesses Castorama and Brico Dépôt, which account for more than 40 per cent group profit, were more resilient with like-for-like sales up almost two per cent against the same quarter a year ago.

The company’s China business, which operates 40 B&Q stores, halved its losses to under £1m, with Cheshire blaming the ongoing losses on a 23 per cent drop in the Chinese housing market.

During the quarter, the group continued to expand with six new B&Q stores in Poland, Russia and Turkey.