Kingfisher, Europe’s biggest DIY group and the owner of B&Q, has seen profits slide as its larger French business continues to struggle.
The FTSE 100 company, which also operates Screwfix in the UK and Castorama and Brico Dépôt in France, posted a 12% decline in retail profits to £225m, blaming weak consumer confidence in France and adverse currency moves.
The group reported sales of £2.8bn in the 13 weeks to 1 November, a 3.6% fall on last year, in a trading statement that highlighted the contrasting fortunes of Europe’s biggest economies. Sales in the UK and Ireland, which account for 41% of Kingfisher’s business, were up by nearly 5% thanks to a pick-up in the housing market. But revenues in France fell by more than 9%, with weak demand forcing the company to slash prices.
“Trading conditions in our largest and most significant market, France, were particularly difficult and deteriorated across the quarter, impacted by the weak economic backdrop,” said Sir Ian Cheshire, the chief executive. He said the company was cautious on the outlook, especially in France, and would continue to keep a tight rein on costs.
Cheshire is standing down next month, after seven years at the helm of the B&Q group, and will be succeeded by Véronique Laury, currently head of Kingfisher’s French business.
The weak trading figures sent Kingfisher’s share price down 4% to 290p. Kingfisher has lost around a fifth of its value in a year, compared with a 1% gain on the FTSE 100.
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