Property difficulties prompt exit
Kingfisher-owned B&Q is to pull out of South Korea, citing rising property costs and a lack of suitable sites.

The international home improvement giant has operated two stores in the country's capital, Seoul, for the past year. However, after a detailed review of operations, B&Q Asia chief executive Steve Gilman said a roll-out was not feasible.

Gilman said: 'South Korea was a trial market for Kingfisher and, as such, kept under close review. It has proved very difficult to find new sites and it seems unlikely that our business there will reach sufficient scale to meet Kingfisher's growth and economic returns criteria.'

More than 180 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the store closures. However, Kingfisher's Asian division continues to perform well. It generated sales of£450 million in the year to February 3 and like-for-likes up 11 per cent.

South Korea appears to be a challenging market for international retailers. Last year, Carrefour and Wal-Mart also had to withdraw.

B&Q will open its first store in Hong Kong next month. The retailer, the UK's market leader, runs 58 shops in China.