Kingfisher impressed the City with its pre-close second-quarter update as gains in the UK and Poland helped lift group sales.

Group like-for-likes dropped 1.9 per cent in the 10 weeks to July 11, while total sales climbed 0.9 per cent. In the 23 weeks to July 11, group like-for-likes fell 1.8 per cent and total sales rose 1.7 per cent.

In the 10-week period, B&Q UK’s like-for-likes rose 0.7 per cent and total sales rose 1.5 per cent. But trade sales at Screwfix fell 6 per cent, “in a much more challenging market”.

Like-for-likes at Castorama France dropped 0.8 per cent, while falling 5.6 per cent at Brico Dépôt.

Sales at Kingfisher’s international arm jumped 4 per cent, but declined 2.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Like-for-likes increased 3.4 per cent at Castorama Poland while slumping 13.2 per cent at B&Q China.

ING analyst Peter Brockwell said: “This is a strong performance. It should be feasible for B&Q to achieve flat like-for-likes for the full year 2010. We suspect 40 to 50 basis points of gross margin gain.”

Kingfisher group chief executive Ian Cheshire said the retailer had continued to profitably gain market share and strengthen its leadership position in Europe. He said: “B&Q in the UK was stronger than anticipated as it continued to capitalise on the growing trend for home and garden DIY, low-cost room makeovers and competitor withdrawal.”

He added that the “vigorous” controlling of costs and cash is helping Kingfisher trade through “these difficult times”.