B&Q grew only half as fast as its French counterparts last year
The home improvement market proved buoyant for Kingfisher last year, despite increasing consumer worries. The DIY retailer boosted sales in the 52 weeks to January 29 by 8.7 per cent to£7.7 billion. Pre-tax profit for the retailer rose 17.5 per cent to£670 million.

Kingfisher's domestic market, which accounts for more than 56 per cent of its business, grew sales by only 4.8 per cent. In contrast, sales at the retailer's French brands, Castorama and Brico Depot rose 12 per cent.

Kingfisher chief executive Gerry Murphy (pictured) warned that the strong performance should not be used as a yardstick for the coming year. He said: 'The colder-than-average weather across northern Europe has meant B&Q and Castorama have had a weak start to the new financial year and an early Easter presents an added challenge in the first quarter. However, all of Kingfisher's businesses are well prepared for the upcoming spring and summer peak trading periods.'