DIY group Kingfisher suffered a sales decline at its UK arm in the second quarter as shoppers avoided big-ticket purchases.

Sales at the British division, including the flagship B&Q chain, slid by 3.6% in the 10 weeks to July 10 and like-for-likes dropped 4.4%. At B&Q, the declines were 3.5% and 4.3%.

In the 23 weeks to the same date the UK declines were 2.7% and 3.5% respectively.

A stronger performance in France helped Kingfisher report a 0.3% rise in group sales during the quarter and a 0.8& like-for-like fall.

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire described the performance as “solid” and said that first-half profit expectations remain on track.

He said: “Consumer spending remains under pressure, notably in the UK, so we continued to focus on carefully targeting our promotions to drive profitable sales, improving our cash margins and vigorously controlling our costs.”

Cheshire remains cautious about the trading outlook but said the self-help initiatives under way at Kingfisher give him confidence that progress will be made during the rest of the year.

B&Q’s gross profit rose during the quarter, when sales of seasonal categories were flat and lines such as kitchens and bathrooms were down. Trading was also affected by the roll-out of TradePoint into bigger B&Q shops.