Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire has said its “self help” agenda has helped it achieve growth in a tough market as the DIY group posted a profit rise of 12% in the 13 weeks to May 1, slightly ahead of market consensus.

Like-for-likes for the group dipped 1.8% while total sales were flat at £2.64bn for the period.

In addition to tight cost controls Cheshire said the retailer will continue to push its value credentials. “It’s important in a weak market to have a strong value proposition,” he said. Despite a better outlook than last year he remains cautious. “We’re clearly away from the trough we hit last year, but there’s not positive growth yet,” he added. “We’re planning for a flat or difficult market.”

At B&Q UK and Ireland, retail profit climbed 12% to £67m on total sales down 2.1% to £1.05bn while like-for-like sales slipped 2.8%.

Oriel Securities analyst Ramona Tipnis said: “The trading update will have come as a relief to many. Group like-for-likes were weak but nowhere near as bad as feared.”

Kingfisher France retail profit grew 17% to £60m while total sales rose 2.2% to £1.1bn. For the rest of its international business, comprising stores in Poland, China, Spain, Russia, Turkey and Germany, retail profit fell 9.5% to £14m while like-for-likes declined 3.8%.

Cheshire said Poland, where retail profit fell 15.7% to £24m, “got clobbered even more than the UK in terms of seasonal”, with stores closed due to freezing weather and national mourning for the president.