Kingfisher, Europe’s biggest DIY group, posted a 1.5 per cent fall in second quarter like-for-like sales, but the City was impressed by its UK performance.

The UK arm, comprising flagship chain B&Q, Screwfix and Trade Depot, reported a 0.5 per cent fall in like-for-likes – a big improvement on the 7.9 per cent first quarter decline.

B&Q’s UK like-for-likes edged up 0.2 per cent, while total group sales climbed 4.4 per cent and the UK division managed a 5.1 per cent advance.

Kingfisher fared less well internationally. B&Q China posted a 28.5 per cent collapse in like-for-likes. The French division – Castorama and Brico Depot – revealed a 0.6 per cent drop in comparable sales.

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire said he was cautious about the consumer outlook but insisted: “I am confident that the investments made in recent years have improved our value credentials and customer offer, particularly in the UK and France.”

The retailer also managed to allay some City fears that domestic sales would continue to languish.

Investec analyst David Jeary said: “The most positive aspect was B&Q UK’s return to positive like-for-likes. Given [Kingfisher’s] de-rating and operational gearing, it has the potential to deliver considerable recovery when consumer confidence and spending turns more positive.” However, Jeary added: “We remain unconvinced that Kingfisher is much of a self-help story.”

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb expects “a tough autumn in the housing market”, but increased his full-year profit forecast for B&Q UK from£60 million to about£80 million.

Analysts were concerned about Kingfisher’s international performance. Jeary said: “The outlook remains unclear in many of Kingfisher’s individual country markets.”

While Poland delivered a 9.3 per cent leap in like-for-likes, JP Morgan’s Simon Irwin warned there are “some inevitable signs of a slowdown” there.