B&Q owner Kingfisher today revealed improved sales at the DIY chain but warned the weak consumer backdrop continued to hit the business.
Like-for-like sales at B&Q in the UK and Ireland were down 4 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 October, compared with a 6 per cent slide in the weather-hit first half of the year.
The improvement was driven by higher demand for home improvement products, with sales of built-in fridge freezers up 13 per cent and built-in microwaves ahead 57 per cent.
The division reported a 1.7 per cent rise in retail profits to £45 million, while the wider Kingfisher group, which also owns tools supplier Screwfix as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France, recorded broadly flat retail profits of £257m.
Chief executive Ian Cheshire said: “Following a particularly tough first half, I am pleased that our teams’ hard work has delivered a solid profit performance in our third quarter, one of our most significant trading periods in the year.
“Our markets remain challenging, with consumer confidence still weak and so we maintain our strong focus on margin, costs and cash.”
Freddie George, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: “Following this announcement we suspect consensus numbers will be broadly revised downwards by around £20m from the £740m level. This assumes a decline of around £10m in operating profits in the fourth quarter.”