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Kingfisher misses profit expectations

A weather-inspired sales boost at B&Q failed to prevent owner Kingfisher from missing quarterly profit expectations as promotions and product mix hit UK margins while performance in its French arm was subdued.

The firm said like-for-like B&Q sales in the UK and Ireland rose 9.7% in the 13 weeks to May 3, compared to a year before. Sales of outdoor seasonal goods and building products were almost a third higher than a year ago, aided by better weather and a later Easter.

In France, one of the group's main markets, like-for-like sales grew by just 1.6% at its Castorama and Brico Depot DIY chains. Kingfisher said it was hit by "ongoing weak consumer confidence" in France.

Overall the group's retail profit rose 20.3% to £142 million for the period but this was below the market consensus of £145 million. Shares slid nearly 6%.

Kingfisher chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire said: "We have made a strong start to the year, capitalising on more favourable weather conditions right across Europe to achieve sales and profit growth in France, the UK & Poland, our three largest markets.

"Whilst this is encouraging, the first quarter is one of our smallest and the growth achieved largely reflects comparisons with the very difficult start to last year."

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