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B&Q owner Kingfisher braced for hard British winter

B&Q owner Kingfisher’s chief executive, Ian Cheshire, warned he “was not holding his breath” for winter sales in Britain amid gloomy weather forecasts, as he reported a profit uptick in UK and Ireland due to cost savings.

Mr Cheshire said trade at the group’s British chains B&Q and Screwfix fared better in the 13 weeks to October 27 after the wettest summer in a century hammered first half sales, but added he was bracing himself for a difficult winter.

“It’s concerning to see people forecasting the worst winter in 100 years, so we maybe will not hold our breath on that,” he said. The comments came as Europe's biggest home improvement retailer posted third-quarter revenue down 3.9pc to £2.7bn, driven by declining sales in the group’s two biggest markets, Britain and France, and group profit down 5.9pc to £257m.

Cost savings in the UK and Ireland saw the division grow profit 5.7pc to £59m, despite a 3.8pc slide in like-for-like sales.

Meanwhile a weak euro and budgetary uncertainty saw the French business suffer worse, where retail profit slumped 9.2pc to £140m after like-for-like sales fell 2.8pc.

Mr Cheshire warned the year ahead was uncertain, saying: “Frankly, I’m very cautious given the year we’ve had- the outlook for 2013 is opaque, emanating from an uncertain economic environment.”

The chief executive admitted earlier this year Kingfisher was reviewing its portfolio of 360 B&Q stores across the UK, and could look to close up to 10pc when leases expire, while in October the group announced 220 job losses at B&Q headquarters in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Source : Denise Rowland – The Telegraph

04 December 2012
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