B&Q UK sales drop

B&Q owner Kingfisher said 80% of its profits were generated overseas in the last quarter after a further deterioration in sales at the UK's biggest DIY chain.

The group's flagship B&Q business, which operates from 330 stores in the UK and Ireland, saw like-for-like sales drop 5.1% in the third quarter to October 30, compared with 3.7% reported at the half-year stage, due to lower footfall and tougher comparisons with a year earlier.

Profits across Kingfisher's UK and Ireland division, which also includes building supplies arm Screwfix, were flat at £46 million after the company managed to offset the sales fall by protecting margins through better product sourcing and cost efficiencies.

There was better news for Kingfisher from its Castorama and Brico Depot operation in France, where the company outperformed the wider market to increase like-for-like sales by 1.8% and deliver a third quarter profits rise of 3.1% to £130 million.

Castorama grew like-for-like sales by 4% after benefiting from a store modernisation programme and a 'Do-it-Smart' marketing campaign aimed at making home improvement projects easier for customers.

Kingfisher's international sales, including operations in Spain, Russia, China, Poland and Turkey, were down 1.1% on a like-for-like basis but with profits up 18% to £64 million. Across the group, profits were up 8.2% on a year earlier to £240 million during the quarter.

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