Group let down by UK and French chains
DIY retailer Kingfisher has announced a fall in comparable sales at B&Q of 7.7 per cent for the first quarter.

The group warned at the end of last month that trading at B&Q and French-based Castorama had been disappointing during the period, which ended April 30.

Kingfisher chief executive Gerry Murphy said: 'So far, 2005 has been difficult for UK retailers, with consumer spending clearly impacted by higher interest rates, taxes, pension contributions and fuel bills. An early Easter and poor spring weather also affected our main consumer businesses in the UK and France.'

UK trading was offset slightly by a positive performance at Screwfix Direct, where sales improved 0.8 per cent, contributing to total UK like-for-like sales of 7.2 per cent.

Brico Depot in France was largely responsible for an overall group sales increase and benefited from a strong trade market to deliver a 10.9 per cent increase in like-for-like sales, despite strong comparisons the previous year. Italy was also strong, with a 7.8 per cent increase in same-store sales. Group like-for-like sales fell 5.6 per cent, but total group sales increased 2.2 per cent to£1.94 billion. Group retail profit fell 15.6 per cent to£125.9 million.