British retail group Kingfisher today overcame the impact of poor weather on sales of seasonal ranges to post a 16.5% rise in profits at its core B&Q chain.
The figures for the three months to May 1 were impacted by wet weather that deterred shoppers from spending on products for their garden and other items such as exterior paints.
Kingfisher grew like-for-like sales in the UK by 1.7% after lowering prices to meet the challenge posed by rival home improvement retailers.
Chief executive Gerry Murphy said group profits of £145m (€217.6m) – up 18% - marked an “encouraging start to the year given the challenging prior year sales comparisons”. B&Q profits for the quarter were up to £82.5m (€123.8m), from £70.8m (€106.2m) a year earlier.
Europe’s largest DIY retailer said the ability to source products at lower cost meant it was able to offer better prices to customers while maintaining margins.
Apart from its range of outdoor products, Kingfisher said sales of other home improvement goods improved during the quarter.
The group has nearly 550 stores in seven countries across Europe and Asia and a strategic alliance with the 100-strong chain of Hornbach stores.
Sales growth at B&Q had been achieved against tough comparatives a year ago, while a store revamp programme had also boosted performance.
The group opened one new Warehouse store and accelerated the pace of its mini-Warehouse conversion plan with nine outlets undergoing a makeover in the period.
The French businesses, Brico Depot and Castorama, delivered combined sales growth of 8% on a like-for-like basis.
Kingfisher also made significant inroads into its borrowings, lowering net debt from £844m (€1.3bn) at the end of January to £463m (€694.8m).