Rate of decline slowing
DIY group Kingfisher said sales at UK chain B&Q continued to fall in the second quarter, but at a slower rate than in the first.

Like-for-likes at B&Q dropped by 2.4 per cent for the 11 weeks to July 15, compared with an 8.8 per cent drop in the first quarter. UK trade businesses delivered strong growth, with total sales up 27.5 per cent and like-for-like 15.3 per cent. The group said the performance of Screwfix Direct trade counters were particularly encouraging.

Group chief executive Gerry Murphy said: 'There were early signs of progress at B&Q in the UK, despite a continuing weak consumer market for home improvement.'

Sales at the French divisions, Castorama and Bricot Dépôt, were up 6.9 per cent for the half-year and 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. In the rest of Europe, which includes Poland, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Russia, like-for-like sales rose 8.4 per cent and total sales increased by 26.6 per cent.

In Asia, B&Q China and B&Q Home in South Korea performed well, posting total sales increases of 76.2 per cent and like-for-like rises of 9 per cent. Total group like-for-like sales were down 1per cent for the second quarter and 0.6 per cent over the half year.

Murphy said the company's international development was on track, with 20 stores opening so far this year and good like-for-like growth from stores open more than one year.